The Practice Project, Part 2 // DIY Workbook

Workbook perspective drawing

Last week I talked about how I'm tracking my hours spent practicing painting and drawing, with the end goal of reaching 10,000 hours -- at which point, according to Malcolm Gladwell, I'll have mastered that ish.

I thought I'd share one thing that has really helped me focus on the specific drawing skills I wanted to master: creating my own workbook.

This probably goes back to my time as a teacher, but when I realized I had two specific goals for my sketching practice (improving at drawing faces and buildings in perspective), I decided to create a workbook especially for these skills.


MATERIALS: blank notebook or sketchbook, printer and paper, scissors, super pretty washi tape (ok, or any tape)

STEP 1: Decide what types of images you want and gather them up -- you want to collect all your inspiration now, so later on you can focus on practicing. . . not on pinning. :)

You can see some of my images on my Reference Faces and References Places boards. I also used some of my own photographs. If you're more into hand-lettering, you might want to type up some quotes, phrases, or words you'd like to try drawing.

Quick side note: make sure you use these images just for practice, not as reference images in works to be sold, which can become a copyright issue. Just FYI. Also, I'm (for obvious reasons) a big advocate of crediting and/or paying for people's creative work.

Workbook image 1

STEP 2: Print out all your images and cut them out.

I formatted my images really quickly in Powerpoint and used the black-and-white "rush" printer settings to save ink.

Workbook image 3

STEP 3: Tape each image into a left-hand page of your sketchbook. Do them all at once so your workbook is ready to go!

Workbook image 4

STEP 4: One each right-hand page of the sketchbook, practice drawing the facing photo.

If you don't like one drawing, move the photo to the next blank spread in the sketchbook and try again. But keep the original drawing! You may dislike it, but it's seriously rewarding to look back at your older sketches and see how far you've come.

Step 5: Carry it around with you and keep sketching!

This is all about developing a habit of practice, and making it easy to do that practice, and, hopefully, a bit fun!

xo Diana

DIY HANDMADE NOTEPAD // simple & refillable

It seems like it's the time of the year to get organized! I've been super inspired lately by bloggers who have been sharing their methods of staying on top of things -- especially Miranti's beautiful notebooks separated by purpose and Amanda's bullet journal explanation.

While I was in medical school, I used mostly Google Calendar and an every-growing to do list on a piece of computer paper (the height of aesthetics, obviously).

Now that I spend most of my days in my studio, I definitely want something a bit more enjoyable to something that will keep me away from the black hole of surfing the internet.

To stay organized, I use three main notebooks: a simple daily calendar from Muji, a moleskin with big goals for the month and week, and a small notepad that I can destroy with to-do lists, notes to myself, and random doodles.
I use this little notepad constantly (it's the only one I'll actually carry with me everywhere) and when it ran out of pages, I was so excited when I realized I could just fill it back up!
 It's really easy to make and is way cheaper than most of the (so beautiful and tempting!) notebooks out there. I based the project off of Hello Lucky's beautiful DIY gold-leaf notebooks, but with the materials I had lying around at home. Meaning no gold leaf yet...I can dream of the day I have gold leaf just lying around!


  • Half of a stack of 3x5 index cards
  • Two binder clips
  • Elmer's glue
  • Empty cereal box
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Sheet of printer paper
  • Exacto knife
  • Optional: paint brush, painter's tape, paint of your choice (I used white acrylic paint) 


1. Use the binder clips to secure the stack of index cards together, as in the photograph above, keeping them near one end. On that end, spread a thick layer of Elmer's glue over the cards, pushing it into the grooves. Let dry.

2. Unfold the cereal box and lay it flat. Draw and cut out a rectangle of cardboard based on the following diagram that I painstakingly made in Powerpoint. :) The 0.3" middle section should be the same size as the width of your stack of index cards (this just happened to be the width of mine). You should measure the cards to make sure the booklet you glued together in step 1 will fit into the cardboard notebook cover.

3. Once you've cut out the cardboard, lightly score along the dotted lines with the Exacto knife and fold them so the cardboard forms a book shape.

4. Line the decorated side with a piece of printer paper, leaving the brown side of the cardboard alone (it will become the outside of the notepad). Coat the colorful side with the glue stick and place face-down on the piece of printer paper. When dry, trim the edges of the paper to line up with the cardboard.

5. If you want to decorate the outside of your notepad, this is the time to do it! I put a piece of painter's tape at an angle across the front of the book and painted one area white, but you could pretty much go nuts with it at this time. Hello Lucky's gold-leaf one is a gorgeous option, but you could also cover it with wrapping paper or origami paper, paint it, draw on it, or decorate with washi tape!

6. When the cover and the stack of index cards are dry, put a line of Elmer's glue on the inside of the notebook's "spine." Firmly press the glued end of the index cards onto the line of glue and let dry standing up.

7. When dry, fold up the book and start writing! When you're done with a page, you can tear it out, and when you run out of pages, you can make another stack of index cards to insert (remember this notebook only used half a pack of cards).

How do you keep yourself organized? Are you mostly a paper person, or do you keep your organization digital?

Have a good weekend everyone!

xo Diana
A couple weeks ago, S and I celebrated Diwali, one of the biggest Hindu holidays of the year. Although S grew up celebrating it, somehow we've never gotten around to actually celebrating it together.

Because our backgrounds -- religious and otherwise -- are so different, this wasn't exactly a traditional celebration. But we did make time for some sparklers and a (very) simple rangoli, and I couldn't resist decorating our apartment with a colorful banner.
The banner was super easy to make, but I liked it so much that it's still hanging in our apartment. :)

10+ paint chip strips from a hardware store
Embroidery needle
Colorful washi tape (optional)

I first cut the paint chips into 1.5 inch squares, which worked well for the size of paper I'd gotten. Then I cut a five foot piece of string and threaded the embroidery needle.

To string the paper on the string, I started by piercing one corner of the paper from the front-to-back with the needle, pulling the thread across the back of the paper, and sending the needle back through the paper from back-to-front.
I then slid the paper down the string and continued adding more pieces in a random order. Once the banner was as long as I wanted, I cut the ends of the string so the paper was centered, and hung it up.

It turned out to be a really easy way to add a pop of color to our apartment!

xo Diana
DIY SIMPLE EARRINGS // painted foam leaves
When my beloved pair of feather earrings finally died (not pretty), I decided to make a replacement for myself.

There are a lot of instructions for making earrings from leather, but I wanted a material that was a bit easier to work with and, to be honest, cheaper for all the mess-ups I was guaranteed to make.

I decided to try using some craft foam sheets and make a very simple pair to begin with, but I'm excited to make some more pairs in different shapes and patterns.
  • Soft foam sheet (I found mine at Michael' the kid's crafts aisle)
  • Scissors
  • Mod podge
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Sewing needle (or really anything else that could poke a hole in the foam for the earring backs)
  • 2 earring backs
  1. Draw the desired earring shape onto the foam. I traced an old earring that I liked to make it the size I wanted. Cut out one earring and then trace it to create a matching earring.
  2. Coat both cut earrings with a layer of Mod Podge -- this seals the foam and prevents it from soaking up all the paint. Once dry, paint the earrings in whatever color and pattern you want.
  3. Poke a hole in each earring and thread the earring backs into the earrings. Enjoy!

xo Diana
I've been on the lookout for fun pendants and was inspired by these earrings and bracelet from Henry Happened. I made a pendant version and added a simple black cord for a more rugged look.

  • 4 small hex nuts (I got mine from Home Depot, which had them in a brass color)
  • Strong craft glue, such as Gorilla glue
  • Sheet of wax paper
  • 2 feet of black cord


1. Glue the four hex nuts into a honeycomb shape, pressing them together and letting them dry fully on a sheet of wax paper. When dry, peel them carefully off the paper.

2. Fold the black cord in half and put the folded loop through one of the hex nut holes. Thread the free ends of the cord through the loop and pull tight to secure the hex nuts to the cord. Tie the other end and enjoy!

xo Diana

Today I pretended to be a professional...and by that I mean I climbed back into bed with some tea and set to work figuring out all sorts of business-related legal mumbo jumbo. I'm tentatively hopeful that I'll be able to start up an Etsy shop in the coming few weeks, but it turns out this business shit is complicated! Good thing I was actually still in bed or it might have seemed like real work... :)

xo Diana

P.S. Click here for the desktop-sized image!
DIY HANDMADE NOTEBOOK // recycled & muji-inspired
S & I have been spending our free moments getting to know the Bay Area better, and especially trying to explore the South Bay and peninsula, which, despite living in, we tend to neglect somewhat. This past weekend we took a trip down to San Jose to wander around the downtown and get way too caffeinated -- seriously, the lattes at B2 coffee were amazing. But, most importantly, we got a chance to drool over the beautiful home goods at MUJI, a small Japanese department store.
One of my favorite things at Muji has to be their stationary section -- it has beautifully simple notebooks, notepads, pens, and pretty much anything else you would want for your desk. Since buying cute notebooks is becoming something of an addiction, I decided to try my hand at making some myself.

DIY HANDMADE NOTEBOOK, makes one 5.5x4 inch notebook (instructions adapted from here and here)

  • 1 empty cereal box -- you'll only use half of it, so you can use the rest for a second notebook!
  • 5 pieces of 8.5x11 inch printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Embroidery floss, about 1.5 feet
  • Embroidery needle
  • Pretty paper, 5.5 inches long and about 2 inches wide (depending on how broad you want your decorative binding to be, I just used leftover strips of origami paper)


1. Open up the cereal box along its glued sides and cut a 5.5x9 inch piece from one of its faces. Trim each of the four corners of the cardboard rectangle into a rounded shape (this is optional, but I thought it made the book look much more finished).

2. Spread glue on the colored side of the cardboard rectangle and press it firmly onto one of the pieces of white paper. When dry, trim the excess paper from around the rectangle

3. Cut the remaining four pieces of printer paper in half into eight pieces of 5.5x8.5 inch paper. Trim their corners into a rounded shape to match the cardboard rectangle.

4. Fold the stack of small papers in half again, into an approximately 5.5x4 inch booklet. Repeat with the cardboard rectangle and place the paper booklet inside. Before you sew anything together, make sure the paper is the right size for the cover and trim down if needed.

5. Remove the booklet and use the embroidery needle to carefully punch a line of eight holes along the fold of the booklet, going all the way through. 

6. Place the booklet back into the cardboard cover and use the holes in the paper as a guide to punch matching holes in the fold of the cardboard. 

7. Beginning on the inside of the book, thread the embroidery floss through the holes in the paper and cardboard. Leave enough thread at both ends to tie a knot at each end of the book. Trim the ends.

8. The book could be finished now (see above, with the thread showing along the fold), or you can glue your strip of colored paper in place along the binding. Trim any excess decorative paper away from the edge of the cardboard and you're ready to go!

Do you have any favorite notebooks or notepads? I'm always looking for new suggestions!

xo Diana

 Our apartment is kind of unbelievably small -- really -- and, while sometimes frustrating, it motivates us to be really creative about how we use space. One of my first projects was finding a way to organize my jewelry and it turned out much easier than than I expected. I'm not sure you can really call this a DIY -- it's really more of a hey, try this. --> Read more.

- Unpainted wooden picture frame with backing
- White acrylic paint
- Mod podge
- Rectangle of burlap just bigger than the glass from the frame (mine happened to be blue)

STEPS: Remove the glass from the frame and give it two coats of white paint and one coat of Mod Podge for a glossy finish.

Once the frame is dry, place the burlap in the empty frame. Center it and press the backing into the frame -- it should fit snugly, holding the burlap in place.

Trim the excess away from the backing, add some earrings, and enjoy!

xo Diana

I've been trying to streamline my purse situation, especially now that I have a camera I always want to carry with me! To that end, I started using a coin purse as a wallet.
 Specifically, a coin purse that I'd gotten in the nineties and felt super cool using...when I was twelve. It definitely needed an upgrade, and I'm a little paint-happy at the moment, so...
To restyle the coin purse, I first painted the image side and pink piping white, using an index card to keep my paint lines straight. I then painted the front my color of choice, painted the piping black to match the back, and painted my white design on the top. I'm excited to get to use it now and thinking of adding a veneer layer to make it smooth and shiny. Thoughts?

xo Diana