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Flipboku Molecularis Paper Test (& New Kickstarter Announcement!)

Almost 2 years ago I backed a Kickstarter with an interesting premise: part coloring book, part magic trick, it promised to provide 6 completely different coloring book-style flip books in one tidy little package.

They even had a 2nd book – Blanko – for people who wanted to draw their own. I backed at the level where I got just the one already-illustrated book – Molecularis – and when it arrived I can say with complete sincerity that I was absolutely delighted.

The flip book comes in a snug little box/case to keep it clean and protected, and there’s even a neat little secret hiding inside-

A handy little page separator to put between the pages as you color! It appears to be made of the same sturdy cardboard as the cover, which is great as it will help prevent depressions from going through to subsequent pages and causing ghost images to come through.

The book actually contains 6 individual flip book animation sequences, with a different one visible depending on how you hold/flip the pages. The secret is in how the pages are cut, similarly to those “Now it’s empty! Now it’s illustrated! Now it’s fully colored!” ‘magic’ books magicians use. The illustrations are so fun and playful and I couldn’t wait to pull out my coloring supplies and dive in.

But I hesitated. You see, the book is reversible, in the sense that there is a different illustration on the back of each page, which will be used in a completely different animation. What if I used the wrong media? What if my markers bled through? What if water-soluble products warped the paper? The page protector is a wonderful inclusion, but it will only stop staining from going through to the following pages. It cannot prevent bleed-through onto the back of the page being worked on.

So I did something that’s perhaps a little unorthodox. I contacted Flipboku through their Facebook page and asked if they had any extra paper, of the kind they’d used in Molecularis. A full sheet… scraps off the cutting room floor… anything, in any size, would work as long as it was the same paper quality, which I could then test with a range of coloring supplies.

Perhaps because they’re a little unorthodox themselves, they agreed (thanks Julie!), and a little while later I received a thin, flat package in the mail. I’d expected scraps, perhaps narrow little trimmings from when they cut the pages to size, but instead I was pleasantly surprised to find two good-sized sheets of the Molecularis paper, as well as a couple of pages from the Blanko book as well.

The first thing I did was figure out how many products I was going to test, and then draw a grid on the sample papers to delineate each implement. For the Blanko paper I kept the grid small enough to only use one sheet, because it’s regular paper and I was pretty sure I knew how the different media would react.

On the Molecularis paper I went for a bigger grid, using most of one sheet so I could save the other for future testing if necessary. Since the coloring images in the flip book are mostly all small-ish, ovoid shapes, I drew a little squished circle in a similar size so I could see if coloring a contained shape would cause more bleed (from going over and over the same area to fill it in). I also kept a few sections wider for testing water-activated media like Inktense, watercolor pencils and Neocolor II water-soluble crayons so I could see if the paper would warp after getting wet.

I ended up testing 26 different coloring tools, focusing mainly on wet-based media. I didn’t test crayons because I knew they would be fine, though I did include colored pencils just so I could see if the pressure they required would indent the paper at all.

The supplies tested are:

  1. Sharpies – regular (fine) point
  2. Sharpies – neon [I was curious if the brighter pigment would be “juicier” in a way that would be more likely to cause bleed-through]
  3. Sharpies – chisel-tip [same rationale as for the neons, except due to the amount of ink transferred from the wider nib]
  4. Sharpies – metallic [I wondered if the metallic ink was a different formula from the regular one so would behave differently]
  5. Sargent Metallic Ink Markers
  6. Studio Metallic Ink Markers (from Dollarama)
  7. Micron fineliner – 0.5 size
  8. Copic multiliner – 0.8 size
  9. Bic Mark-It! fine tips
  10. Bic Mark-It! ultra-fine tips
  11. Stabilo 88 0.4mm fineliner markers
  12. Staedtler Triplus 0.3mm fineliner markers
  13. water-based dual-tip markers (Soucolor & Feela) – fine tip end
  14. water-based dual-tip markers (Soucolor & Feela) – brush tip end
  15. Crayola Supertips
  16. generic highlighter
  17. Faber-Castel Polychromos colored pencil
  18. Spectrum Noir alcohol markers
  19. Gel pens (assorted brands)
  20. Gelly Roll gel pens (assorted colors)
  21. Glitter paint markers
  22. Derwent Inktense water-soluble ink pencils
  23. Koh-I-Noor Mondeluz Aquarelle watercolor pencils
  24. Caran D’Ache Neocolor II water-soluble crayons
  25. Wink of Stella clear glitter brush
  26. Studio Roller Pen

Here’s my testing grid after doodling. I deliberately picked purples & blues as those dark colors tend to bleed through more frequently than yellows and greens, etc.

I have to say that coloring on the Molecularis paper was a WONDERFUL experience! Nearly every product I tested glided smoothly over the paper without effort and left rich, even color with minimal strokes or feathering. Only a few products bled over the shape outlines, but they were all Sharpies which are alcohol-based and often have a bit of overbleed. The paper handled the wet media column on the right like a champ, thick like a cardstock so there was no warping, but with just enough texture to get mileage out of the watercolor media. It’s also lovely with colored pencils, having just enough tooth to take color well, leaving me certain it would also be great with charcoal & graphite.

The Blanko paper handled just like regular paper, because that’s what it is. It is smoother than the Molecularis paper, much thinner, and much more of a bright white.

Ready for the results? I was! I deliberately didn’t peek at the back at all while swatching, and had left the paper overnight in case any seepage would occur as the inks dried. The next day I turned the papers around and-

The results 100% blew my expectations out of the water!

I’ll start with the Blanko paper. As it is regular paper, there were no surprises there. The alcohol-based products bled through as expected, the very wet gel pens bled through as well, as did the water-soluble ink of the Inktense pencils (though that was likely due to the water saturating the paper). As for the other markers, while they didn’t bleed as much as the first ones mentioned, most of them had significant ghosting and shadowing through the thin paper.

What really surprised me, however, was the Molecularis paper. There was almost NO bleed-through! I found myself double-checking to be sure, but really- this is it. I numbered the back to make the areas easier to check, and the only one that had anything close to bleed-through is #20 – “assorted Gelly Roll”. Specifically the ones that bled are their Gold Shadow line, which is a two-tone ink that leaves a colored outline with a gold fill.

The alcohol-based Sharpies and Bics didn’t bleed. The Spectrum Noirs didn’t bleed – which means Copics won’t. The water-soluble medias didn’t bleed nor warp, even with a significant amount of water used (I activated all the wet-media with my Derwent waterbrush).

It’s not completely perfect, of course. If I LOOK for issues while the paper is flat (above), I can see slight ghosting in cells 3 (chisel-tip Sharpie), 9 (Bic Mark-It fine tip) and 17 (black colored pencil, applied with firm pressure to fill in the shape). However I don’t believe these are issues that would affect the intended use of the coloring flip book.

I’m blown away, I really am. If I hold it up at an angle, allowing a bit of light to get underneath, there is the slightest ghosting where I colored in the other blobby shapes, with still only the cells referenced above having the most visibility (the Sharpie and Bic showing not only the coloring-in but also my doodling as well).

I’m really impressed. I’ve used many coloring books where I’ve had to make a conscious choice about what page I wanted to color, knowing the image on the reverse would be ruined. Obviously with a book meant to be reversible the company had to consider this, but it almost sounded too good to be true, which is why I had to test it for myself.

Since their original launch Flipboku has expanded their flip book range, with not only the Molecularis and Blanko books (or a bundle with both!) but also fully-illustrated flip books designed in collaboration with different artists. If you’re into history, sci-fi, or even romance, you’ll find an animated book that leaves you in awe of the magic in the tiny printed movies.

You can visit their website here to shop their really cool products, or click here to access their brand new 2-volume Kickstarter that officially launched yesterday.

The first volume of the new Kickstarter, Dots, is a flip book with 6 different animations (also called sequences) created by internationally renowned animators. Each side of the flip book contains 3 different sequences made up of 36 pages. Once you have connected all the dots in one sequence, all you have to do is flip it to discover what is hidden behind the dots.  After that, you can even grab your favorite coloring pens and color the animations, so in fact you have a dot-to-dot flip book and a coloring flip book, all in one!

For the second volume, Lines, they have selected some of the most puzzling optical illusions and turned them into animation. Most of these sequences are based on the dot-to-dot technique as well. They work in a similar way to the ones featured in Dots, but in addition, once all the dots are connected and the pages are flipped, the animations produce mind-boggling optical illusions. Ranging from astonishing to downright weird these sequences include impossible figures, geometrical illusions and visual paradoxes that will play awesome tricks on your eyes and mind.

Note- The above text and gifs are taken from their Kickstarter. While some of the product links above are affiliate links (Amazon) this post is not sponsored. I ordered and paid for Molecularis on my own and Flipboku hasn’t done anything for me beyond send me the paper samples at my request. I just thought it was a unique variation on a coloring book that my readers would enjoy. Happy coloring!


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Create This Book January Challenge

We did it! Coming in just under the wire, here are mine and Henri’s completed Create This Book pages for January.

As I mentioned in my intro post, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” page seen here:

Henri used colored pencils for his page, creating a beach scene. He made it a double-page spread, with a multi-colored sunset over the water.

I love the little details I can pick up of how he went about planning his page, like how he clearly sketched out his ideas in pencil before outlining in fineliner…

…or how he blended the sun’s reflection into the water.

For my page, I went with a bit of a more literally definition of a setting – an actual stage set LOL.

First I sketched it out in pencil. Whenever I’m working in a coloring book with regular paper I always use a sheet of cardstock underneath the page. This prevents any impressions from affecting the following pages and ghosting through when I try to color them. This time I used a remnant of bristol board that has seen many, many coloring pages… though most obviously the one where I colored an entire background with black Sharpie.

After that I put on a podcast (HDTGM FTW), pulled out my Polychromos and colored until I was happy(ish) with the image. I did a few base layers of brown and green into the black back wall to prep before going over it with a black pencil, and roughed in the colors for the wooden stage, then later did the same for the red curtains and seats.

I say “happy-ish” because I’m not 100% thrilled with how the lights came out. I’d planned to color the background solid black and then erase the light paths but when I tried it looked just… I don’t know. Meh. I wound up coloring over most of it and leaving only the spotlight on the stage floor.

And there’s my final image. I decided against making it a two-page spread like Henri because I didn’t feel like coloring nearly two solid pages of red. In the end I’m mostly happy with it, though I see a lot of flaws that make me cringe. That said- my goal with this monthly challenge was NOT to create perfect, ideal art. It was simply to CREATE.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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Harry Potter: Knitting Magic (including a design by ME!)

I’ve been waiting so long to share this wonderful project with you, and I’m delighted that I finally can, because the book is officially out today!

Harry Potter: Knitting Magic – The Official Guide to Creating Original Knits Inspired by the Harry Potter Films

Featuring more than 25 projects, the 192-page book includes patterns for clothing, home projects, and keepsakes pulled straight from the movies – and even includes a few iconic costume pieces as seen on-screen.

There are projects designed with the movies’ actual costumes in mind, like the House Scarves:

…and the Beauxbatons students’ capelet:

…as well as projects inspired BY the movies like this gorgeous sweater based on Hermione’s time-turner:

…and this adorable hanger featuring the Sorting Hat and the animals that represent each House:

Even the staging and photography of the book is incredible- I mean COME ON-

This entire Umbrage scene is perfect!!

The book also includes fun facts, original costume sketches, film stills, and other behind-the-scenes treasures.

The book has already gotten really good press reviews (Martha Stewart, The Nerdist, Mental Floss, House Beautiful, Apartment Therapy, among others) and I’m seriously honored that I got to be a part of it, and thrilled to finally present my pattern: The Order of the Phoenix Lace-Knit Throw Blanket.

It’s a circular blanket knit from the center out in alternating strands of a beautiful orange/red hand-dyed yarn that reminded me so much of Dumbledore’s cherished phoenix Fawkes.

The center of the blanket features flames to represent the phoenix’ fire, and is separated from the next section by a jagged dividing line that is actually Harry’s lightning bolt scar.

The middle section proudly proclaims the title of the fifth HP book (and blanket inspiration) in an eyelet font.

Anyone who’s knit my Lullaby blanket pattern can attest that while it might seem daunting, the text charts are really easy to follow and work up pretty fast.

Finally the border section features Fawkes’ feathers, elongating in rows until finally ending in individual feather tips.

I loved every aspect of designing, swatching and knitting this blanket, and I truly hope you enjoy it too.

You can click HERE to get your own copy.


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A New Year = A New Challenge!

Last January I set up a challenge on this blog- to celebrate 2019 I would convert 19 long-languishing WIPs (works in progress) into FOs (finished objects).

This year I’ve set a new challenge for myself, one with a bit of a lighter workload since I’ve got so many other things on my plate.

We’re big Moriah Elizabeth fans in this house (the sprinkle song is our jam!) and while I’ve managed to distract Henri from wanting his very own Pickle plushie, I did cave and buy him Create This Book for Hanukkah.  

I ordered volume 1, and when it arrived I realized I’d accidentally put 2 copies in my cart.  We took a quick household vote and instead of returning it, we decided to keep the second copy for me and Jakob to use.  Thus starts the first monthly segment of our Create This Book v1 adventures.

It’s the 2020 Create This Book Monthly Page Create-a-long!

There’s also a volume 2 but we’ll be starting with the first book and working our way forwards.

Henri picked this page to start with in his book, so to catch up I’ll be making that my January page as well. My goal is to do (at least) one page each month. 12 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve got a TON of stuff going on this year and don’t want to over-commit.

I have six days to come up with an idea, draw/color the page and then post it to the blog. The idea hasn’t come yet but the supplies have been decided- I’ll be coloring the page with my adored Faber-Castel Polychromos. I can’t help but hear Mike Myers in my head when I use them because they color so smoothly that it’s just like butter.

By the way – if you’re always in search of new, better pencil/pen cases like me, I can happily recommend the Thornton case pictured above. I own a lot of colored pencil sets with 100+ colors and quickly outgrew the 32, 48, 56 and 72-pc sets I’d invested in years ago. Last winter I did my research and bought a few larger cases in different styles then spent a cozy snowed-in winter weekend reorganizing all my pencils. (Yes, it’s the little things that make me happy LOL). Now I have enough room to store the full 120pc pencil set plus additional tools like a fineliner, stick eraser, my favorite blender pencil, and a white marker*.

Note- in Canada at least, the listing for the empty case itself seems to be sold out. The exact case full of 150 of their own-branded colored pencils, however, is available here.

*Money-saving tip: There are a LOT of white markers out there for adding highlights to your drawings and coloring. Sakura Gelly roll white pens are great, Sharpie paint markers can be fantastic, and many other brands have good ones too. But my favorite white “pen” is 100% the Liquid Paper or Wite-Out corrector pens. They give the most opaque, solid coverage because that’s literally what they’re designed for, and can very often be found in the stationary aisle of your local dollar store. (I get mine at Dollarama).

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Secret’s Out!

Harry Potter Knitting Magic cover

It’s official! And it’s also OFFICIAL! As in – it’s THE OFFICIAL HARRY POTTER KNITTING PATTERN BOOK, licensed and everything!

And now that it’s in pre-order status, I can finally tell you all (a little) about it!

I’m so excited to be a part of this gorgeous book, and beyond thrilled that my pattern was one of the ones chosen for the cover! There will be 28 patterns in total, 208 pages, and includes costume replicas, projects inspired by the films, film tidbits, behind-the-scenes info and more.

I can’t wait to share more info and pics as it becomes available, but in the meantime here’s the lovely cover.

It will be released on January 28 2020, and for those of you interested in pre-ordering, you can do so here.


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Secret, Secret, I’ve Got a Secret…

You guys.

YOU GUYS.

Books Literature GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

There is so much going on behind the scenes for this little blog, and I had all the plans to get it all going in the first half of this year but – YOU GUYS

Something came up. I was already falling behind because of other commitments I’d taken on, and then I was approached with an opportunity that was just… magical.* And I know – I KNOW – that is the LAMEST of excuses, but trust me when I say THIS WAS WORTH IT. I feel so very lucky and could not pass it up, even if it means shuffling other things a bit later down the pipeline.

I CANNOT wait to tell you all about it, but I’m under legal contract ** and can’t talk about it just yet. Just trust me that as soon as I can, I will. And in the meantime, you can follow glimpses of what’s going on with me via my Instagram, either through the link in the sidebar or directly here.

*Was that a hint?  Maybe.  <<innocent eyes>>
**Yup. 


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How to Bake a Cake and Prepare it for Decorating

Henri’s 10th* birthday party was last weekend, and while I’m not a professional by any means, I have made enough cakes by now (not to mention the 40 or so ones I’ve yet to post) that I often get asked for tips or help.  So I decided to put together a step-by-step guide on how I prepare a cake for decorating.** 

I’ll get more into the “how to bake a cake” part in a future post, as there are a lot of little tweaks and tips for the baking part itself…but this post will cover specifically how to prepare a basic cake for decorating.

Note #1- I typically bake my cakes 1-2 days prior to when I plan to decorate, which – depending on the desired outcome – is 1-2 days prior to the cake’s due date. (IE: if the cake is for Sunday, I’ll bake it Thurs or Fri night, then decorate Saturday night. If it’s a very involved, sculptural cake, I might bump those dates back a day each to leave more time for decorating.)

Before you can bake the cake, you need to prepare your pan. This step ensures you’ll be able to remove the cake from the pan once it’s baked. Some people line their pans with parchment, but I use this method:

  • Grease the pan’s bottom and sides with either Pam, margarine, or butter
  • Drop a tablespoon of flour onto the greased pan
  • Over the sink (I learned the hard way) slowly rotate and tilt the pan until the flour fully coats the bottom and sides, tapping if necessary to move things along
  • Make sure it’s fully covered, touching up bare spots if necessary
  • To remove excess flour, hold pan upside-down over the sink and smack the bottom of the pan a few times. The loose flour will fall into the sink.

Note #2- They make a ‘baker’s’ version of Pam that has flour mixed in already.

Note #3- I’ve heard of, but never tried, using Pan Grease in lieu of the above. I’m planning to try it out sometime when I don’t have a deadline looming 🙂

  
Pan Grease

1 cup shortening
1 cup flour
3/4 cup vegetable oil

Mix well with electric mixer and store in airtight container. Does
not need refrigeration.

Note #4- It doesn’t matter what kind of flour you use. One time I’d bought the wrong kind of flour for a recipe and had no use for it, so I used that one for preparing pans until it had been all used up. Ever since I use all-purpose, but you can use whatever you’d like, including nut-based and gluten-free flours. I’ve also seen people use cocoa powder when preparing pans for chocolate-based recipes.

Note #5- Don’t try to tap out the excess flour over a garbage can unless your pan is small enough to hold lower than the rim of the can. I learned this the hard way…

Once the pan is ready, you can prepare your batter, then pour it in. Some cakes need to be left alone, but for my regular birthday-type cakes, I drop the pan on the counter a few times so the air bubbles in the batter can raise to the surface and pop.

Once the cake is ready to come out of the oven, a very important step is to let the cake set in the pan for about 10 minutes. Try to remove it too soon and it will fall apart, but wait too long and it will get very difficult to remove. My standard is to set my oven timer for 10 minutes and use that time to get out the items I’ll need for the wrapping step coming up.

Once 10 minutes are up, your cake is ready to remove from the pan. Loosen around the edges with a knife. I also like to sort of “tuck” the knife under the cake and give it little test lifts to help ease it from the bottom of the pan.

The photos above show how I used to remove the cakes from the pan- I’d flip the pan over onto a flexible cutting board, then use a 2nd board to flip it back to right-side up, before sliding it onto a tray to allow it to cool overnight.

However- I don’t do this method any more. Instead I remove the cake from the pan and place it immediately onto a long length of Saran Wrap, which I then fold over to seal. Then I turn the cake 90 degrees, place it onto a 2nd long length of Saran, and wrap it again, so the 2nd layer covers any gaps in the 1st. I do this immediately after the 10 min rest in the pan.

Once the cakes are wrapped in Saran, you can leave them to cool. I’ve done this up to 5 days in advance of serving, and the cakes still came out perfect. In fact, I’d recommend this even more for cakes made in advance- unlike my previous method of leaving them uncovered, the Saran traps the heat and steam into the cake, leaving them dense and moist and delicious instead of dry and crumbly.

Leave the Saran-covered cakes somewhere dry and cool where they won’t be disturbed. (Don’t leave them stacked as the top one might sag, I only did this when I took the photo as I was trying to estimate how tall the finished cake would be).

Allow the cakes to cool at minimum overnight. A cake might feel cool on the outside but still have residual heat trapped inside, and icing and decorations will slide right off.

Once cooled, you’re ready to level and tort. (Tort is just a fancy word for “cut the cake in half, horizontally). For best results, use a knife long enough to fit across the narrowest edge of the cake.

Slowly and evenly cut off the rounded cake dome, starting at one corner then easing your way across until you can go straight down along the cake. Keep your hand steady and try to hold the knife as flat and parallel to the table as you can. Once you’ve cut all the way across you can remove the scraps for eating or other uses. I always like to have a storage container handy as well to hold the cake scraps which I use later with any leftover icing to make cake pops for my kids.

In the demo cake shown here, I didn’t tort, but if I would have it would have been at this step. Using the same knife as above, cut the cake horizontally into two layers.

Note #6- I recently picked up these cake level guides and OMG they’re perfect! I clipped one to my knife and held it flush against the table as I cut and I’ve never had a cake turn out as perfectly level before. I <3.

Before you can begin decorating, you must consider your base. Is the cake to be moved? Is it going to be heavy, and need a cake board? For the cake shown, I iced, decorated and transported it on the white tray, and I would use the same method with any other tray or cake stand. If this was a tier in a larger cake, however, I’d be using a cake board.

Put a dollop of icing into the center of where your cake will go. This will “glue” your cake to the tray/board and keep it from sliding around. Center the cake into place and give it a little push down to adhere.

Fill your cake. Do a border of icing around the edges of the cake and then fill it with more icing, jam, whatever you’d like. Then place your other layer on top and press down lightly. I often flip it so the flatter bottom of the cake layer becomes the top of the cake, but this 9×11 was a bit too large and thin for me to feel comfortable flipping without risking breaking. I’m a klutz after all…

Before I begin to ice the outside of the cake, I protect the tray/stand/surface with parchment paper or wax paper. Cut off a narrow piece and then cut that into pieces to fit around the edges of the cake. For a rectangle or square cake I’d cut 4 narrow strips, if it was a round cake I’d cut the full-size strips into thirds and slightly overlap them to surround the cake with a hexagon of paper.

See the crumbs on the parchment? That’s why it’s there- to protect the base from crumbs and icing. The crumb coat (shown) isn’t part of the decorative exterior, it’s used (and named) to capture any loose crumbs that would otherwise fall off as you work. Ice the cake on the top and all sides, but don’t worry about covering every inch of the cake. The main thing is to trap the crumbs and fill in any gaps in between the layers of the cake.

Note #7- Mine is sloppy. Both the crumb coat and the upcoming icing. This cake was for fun. If you are planning to cover the cake in fondant later OR planning to have smooth or knife-edge sides, then you should make sure your crumb coat is smooth as well, or it will be more difficult later.

After the crumb coat I like to put the cake in the fridge to set the icing. This isn’t completely mandatory, so don’t stress if you don’t have room in your fridge. Place the cake somewhere cool and undisturbed for about 30 minutes, or until the icing crusts over.

Once the crumb coat is done you’re almost ready to decorate. The cake just needs one more layer of icing. If I’ll be covering with fondant, I put a thinner layer. It’s more to smooth the top/sides and give the fondant something to ‘stick’ to vs a layer of icing to eat. If I’ll only be using icing, then I put a thicker layer, making sure to cover the cake completely.

For the cake in these examples, it was just for fun and I wasn’t going to be adding decorations, so I gave it a quick layer of thicker icing. I made it even but didn’t spend any time trying to make it smooth.

Whether or not I’ll be adding fondant, or additional decorations, this is the point at which I’ll remove the parchment/wax paper strips. Gently lift them away, making sure not to drop any icing blobs onto the cake or tray. If necessary, use a sharp knife to break the seal of any hardened icing that is connecting the papers to the cakes.

Note #8- Even if the icing on the strips looks clean, I don’t add it back in with any remaining icing to re-use. It’s more likely than not that there are cake crumbs within.

And here’s the baked, iced cake, ready for topping with fondant decorations, candies, candles, or anything else you have in mind.

Hopefully this basic instructional was helpful! If you have any questions that weren’t answered, leave them in the comments and I’ll update it with my answers.

*I know, Henri is 10 already!  Can you believe it? 

**This is only how I do things, after the last 10 years of trial and error.  I’m not saying it’s the only way, nor even that it’s necessarily the right way.  It’s just my way, and if it helps you, it can be your way too 🙂