Down The Rabbit Hole

As an assignment in my Adolescent Literature class, I had to post on our class blog about a frequently challenged book in the YA genre. I chose Go Ask Alice, and having never read it before, I was excited to see what all the hype was about. After reading it, I can't say that it was my favorite book, but I definitely enjoyed writing the post about it. I enjoyed it so much actually, that I wanted to share it with you guys.


Down The Rabbit Hole


“After you’ve had it, there isn’t even a life without drugs” (Sparks 96).

Published in 1971, Go Ask Alice is the purported diary of an unnamed teenager growing up in the late 1960’s who deals with drug use, body issues, and sexual assault. While there are questions about the identity of the unnamed narrator, for convenience sake, I’ll refer to her as Alice. There is also much speculation about whether the diary is even legitimate. Though originally published by an anonymous author, Dr. Beatrice Sparks soon began to promote herself as the editor. This has lead many to believe Alice’s story is not a real one, but one of fiction.

Beatrice Sparks
After moving to a new town after her father accepts a position at a different university, Alice finds that she doesn’t fit in as easily as she did at her old school. Unlike her younger brother and sister, she can’t seem to adjust to her new life. After a few months as an outcast, she does make one friend, Beth, a nice Jewish girl from her neighborhood. Left alone when Beth leaves for summer camp, Alice decides to return to her hometown and stay with her grandparents. While at a party with former schoolmates, she is unknowingly given a drink spiked with LSD, which begins the downward spiral of her drug use. Within days of her first acid trip, she is yearning for more. Eventually, she can no longer control her urges and becomes a full-blown drug addict, dabbling in every illicit drug she can get her hands on. Alice even goes so far as to sell her own body in exchange for her next high. Over the course of the next year, Alice’s diary entries show a rollercoaster of good and bad decisions until it seems she finally has her life together; however, events like her grandparents deaths pull her back in to the life of drugs. After months of being sober, Alice seems to have proved she can turn her life around once and for all. Unfortunately, in the epilogue we learn that this is not the case. She dies of a drug overdose, though no one can confirm if it was accidental or intentional.

Go Ask Alice, though written in a time when the Young Adult novel was barely an idea, deals with many themes that are still prevalent in today’s YA literature. Alice, like many teens, feels alone and has communication issues with her parents. Feeling like the generation gap is too wide to bridge between herself and her parents, she believes that an open line of communication is not possible. Alice laments to her diary, “…I think when a person gets older she should be able to discuss her problems and thoughts with other people, instead of just with another part of herself as you have been to me” (Sparks 213). Throughout the course of the novel, Alice learns to open up this line of communication and begins to trust her parents enough to tell them of her fears and concerns. Eventually, she even lets them in on her struggle with fitting in at school and her drug addiction. Alice also struggles with her identity, which plays a significant role in her battle with drugs and eating issues. At the beginning of the novel, Alice is constantly talking poorly of herself regarding her looks and weight. She soon begins to eat very little, recounting on December 4th that she ate her “usual half grapefruit for breakfast,” until her mom made her eat “a slice of whole wheat bread and a scrambled egg and a piece of bacon” (10). She scolds herself for eating the additional calories, fearing she will no longer look like the other popular girls in school. This need to fit in is a recurring theme that is evident in her inner dialogue. At one point she states, “I’m partly somebody else trying to fit in and say the right things and do the right thing and be in the right place and wear what everybody else is wearing. Sometimes I think we’re all trying to be shadows of each other…” (11).

This world in which Alice exists, lives and breathes conformity, at least until she is introduced to the “hippie” culture. Surrounded by a group that is anti-authority, she uses this to fuel her pull her against her parents. At one point, she even states, “…I seem to be doing less and less right, I’m getting so that no matter what I do I can’t please the Establishment” (50). While the culture in which she lives is significantly different to the average teen’s life now, rebellion against parents and authority are still a fact of life. As Mark Oppenheimer points out, “Read more than a quarter-century later, the Vietnam-era themes seem quaint, and they are laughably written”; however, the message is still the same (Oppenheimer). Adolescents are taught to listen and respect their elders and Alice seems to almost never heed that advice, which leads to her eventual downfall. The underlying message to teens is to avoid the decisions Alice has made unless you want to follow the same road to death. Alice’s story is not just one of entertainment; it is a cautionary tale.

Go Ask Alice
While the novel is presented and marketed as a cautionary tale against drugs, schools, libraries, and parents across the United States did not see it that way. As Maddie Crum states, “Books advocating the use of drugs are, of course, frequently censored titles; but, even books that serve as warning signs against the dangers of drugs have been removed from school libraries” (“7 Reasons Your Favorite Books Were Banned”). The American Library Association has listed Go Ask Alice as being banned most commonly for its offensive language, scenes of drug use, and sexually explicit references. Within recent years, it has gained a spot on the Top Ten list of challenged books. It ranked at #6 in 2001 and made a short drop to #8 in 2003, proving that it is still viewed as controversial today (“Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century”). What schools, libraries, and parents fail to remember, however is that reading about drug use doesn’t mean that adolescents will suddenly become raging drug addicts. In other words, “Reading about homicide doesn’t turn a man into a murderer; reading about cheating on exams won’t make a kid break the honor code” (Gurdon).

Whether Alice is a real or fictional character, her story is one of millions of teens. Even the editors state in the epilogue, “What must be of concern is that she died, and that she was only one of thousands of drug deaths that year” (Sparks 214).  The fact that this novel has continued to draw controversy 43 years after it’s publication only confirms that Alice is doing her job of helping teens from falling down the rabbit hole.



Works Cited


“Frequently Challenged Books of the 21st Century.” Banned & Challenged Books. American Library Association, n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2014.

Gurdon, Meghan Cox. "Darkness Too Visible." The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 4 June 2011. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.

Oppenheimer, Mark. "Just Say 'Uh-Oh'" The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Nov. 1998. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.

Sparks, Beatrice, ed. Go Ask Alice. New York City: Simon & Schuster, 1971. Print.

Sewing Machine Dust Cover

I have spent the last few weeks sitting in front of my sewing machine until my eyes started crossing. I've been whipping out napkins, curtains, and pillows (which I'll post about later). Up until this summer, I haven't really used my sewing machine. So when I started using it a few weeks ago, I noticed some dust and realized I needed to make a cover. Not only will it protect my machine, but it's a great way to practice sewing!


I went to JoAnne's a couple weeks ago and saw this cute vintage sewing machine fabric and knew right away it would make such a cute cover!


After searching Pinterest, I found a really cute dust cover with pockets here.



It's a great tutorial and comes with a PDF of written instructions, as well as pictures. There is also a formula to figure out the exact measurements needed to custom make this for your machine. Because the tutorial is so great (and I forgot to take pictures) I didn't think I needed to do a tutorial here. However, if you have any questions or problems feel free to ask me and I will try to help!

Here is how it turned out!


I love the little pops of green with the mint!

I found a coordinating fabric at Hobby Lobby that had the same colors as the sewing machine fabric. I used it as the liner. I turned it up in this picture so you can see more of the pattern.


I also found this sparkly polka dot fabric at Hobby Lobby and thought it would make cute pockets!



If you are need of a sewing machine dust cover, you must make this one. It is adorable AND functional!

I'm An Etsy Shop Owner!

I have some exciting news! I have an Etsy shop!!!

Right now, I'm mainly doing some prints I've been working on, like these 50 states prints!


I'm adding them little by little but soon all 50 will be up!

I'm also considering selling some wreaths like the ones I've made and maybe even some gorgeous sunburst mirrors like mine!


What do you guys think? Would this be something you're interested in?

I definitely plan on making more prints after my 50 states series, but is there anything from my blog or even something random that you would be interested in purchasing from my shop?

Please let me know in the comments!! And come check out my shop!





From DIY Fail to DIY Win

I've got to stop taking month long hiatuses from the blog! But life (and school) just keeps getting in the way! Only a week left of summer school and then I can relax and really tackle some DIY's I've been dying to get to! Ahh! Can't wait!

Isn't she beautiful?!
I have managed to do a couple projects while being in school though! Remember that ugly, ugly chair I attempted to DIY a couple years ago? Well it was so ugly I banished it to a corner of my apartment so no one would have to lay their eyes upon it. That didn't stop my boyfriend from dragging it out to sit in though. Apparently it's pretty comfortable. But boy was it ugly! The paint was wearing off, the fabric was just not doing it for me... I could go on and on.

I decided that if I was going to have look at it, it might as well be pretty. So I once again attempted to save that pitiful little chair. This would be my 3rd attempt to save it, and if I couldn't do it this time, it had to go. Forever.



So I set out on my mission and grabbed some leftover paint from previous projects and went to work!

I loved the fabric that was already on it (since changed from my post a few years ago) but it needed some washing. I took the seat off, pried the staples out of the fabric, and threw the fabric in the washer a couple times until it was white again!

While the fabric was in the washer, I started painting my chair with Zinsser Primer. This stuff is amazing and I use it every time I paint any furniture! I recently discovered they have it in a spray can and will definitely be trying that soon!

Once that dried, I got to painting the chair with some leftover paint from previous projects. I have this light gray that I am absolutely in love with and look for ways to use all the time! I painted the main part of the chair with that color. But I wanted to do something a little different, so I painted the lattice work  blue! Remember my dresser DIY? I used the leftover blue paint from the drawers to paint the lattice on the chair! And let me tell you, it was a perfect match to the blue in the fabric on the seat!



Saying I'm in love with the paint colors of this chair is an understatement! I am IN LOVE!

After sealing the chair with Polycrylic I recovered the seat with the newly washed fabric and tada!


Isn't it gorgeous?! I never thought I would love this chair as much as I do! Now it sits proudly in my living room where everyone can see how beautiful it is! :)


The blues of the fabric and paint are identical! This DIY was meant to be!

Have you ever redone a chair or another piece of furniture and absolutely loved it? Or was your first DIY a disaster like mine? I'd love to hear your DIY stories! Leave them in the comments section below!

Paint By Numbers

For our anniversary my sweet boyfriend decided to take me to Spirited Art to paint! I have been before and loved it and have been begging him to go with me. It was so sweet for him to plan this for our anniversary!

My painting
I love classes like these. Sometimes I want to do a particular craft or project but the task seems daunting and I feel like I can't do it. Classes like the ones at Spirited Art allow me to do the work myself but with guidance from a talented and knowledgeable artist. I absolutely love painting and even took classes in high school, but I'm not the best and I'm a little rusty. Even my boyfriend, who has no painting experience whatsoever, loved the class and his painting turned out phenomenal!

His painting
We were instructed how to blend the paints to achieve the right shade, techniques for applying it to our canvas, and some helpful tips along the way to help make the paintings our own.

I loved that our paintings were 100% made by us and it was something we did together as a couple. We had so much fun and loved doing something we normally wouldn't do.

Have you ever taken a painting class, or a similar one like this? What was your experience like? Do you enjoy these types of classes?

Anniversary Shadow Box

Yesterday was mine and my boyfriend's 5th anniversary. We decided to not spend a lot on gifts because we're wanting to build a house later this year. I still wanted to get him something special though since this is a big milestone in our relationship. My mom gave me a shadow box a few weeks ago that has been sitting around so I decided to search Pinterest to find some inspiration for ways I could use it.

I finally decided to do something similar to this, however I was not willing to pay the steep price for something I could do myself.

Here's what I came up with!


This is a perfect, simple DIY for an anniversary gift or would even be great for Valentine's Day! All you need is a frame or shadow box, scrapbook paper, and a hole punch or your Silhouette Machine.

My shadow box had a fabric backing to it to pin pictures or things on, so I needed a plain piece of scrapbook paper to cover it. The inspiration picture looked like the heart cut outs were from a book, but being a total bookworm, I could not cut up a book like that and still live with myself (haha!). Luckily, when looking through my scrapbook paper, I found one that had a handwritten message on it and it was perfect! Then I grabbed a red piece for one of the hearts and I was ready to go!


I thought about going to Hobby Lobby to get a heart hole punch, but decided against it and used my Silhouette Cameo. For anyone that knows me, they're probably thinking, "were you sick or something?" because I never pass up a trip to Hobby Lobby, but I can't ignore an excuse to use my Silhouette either! :)

In Silhouette Studio, I mapped out how I wanted to arrange my hearts. The cutting mat space is the exact size of the scrapbook paper so this worked really well as a template before I cut my pieces out.


I also needed one heart to have some sort of personal text so I decided to use our initials and the year we started dating.

2009 seems so long ago! We were babies still in high school!


Okay, back to business! Sometimes I just can't resist a trip down memory lane. :)

I cut out 25 hearts on the script paper, one more than I needed. I recommend going ahead and cutting out more because a couple of mine ripped or didn't cut all the way through. Also, I usually have my machine set to double cut, but I forgot this time, and I think this helps the problem of not cutting all the way through.

Then using the print and cut feature, I printed the text on the red scrapbook paper along with registration marks. Then I cut out the heart using my Silhouette machine.


Now it's time to glue them all down! I wanted the hearts to pop off the page since they're in a shadow box, so I folded all of them (except the red one!) in half and glued them down alternating sides.

TIP: Lay your script scrapbook page with the hearts cut out on top of the white page. Glue the hearts down inside the cut outs, this way they're all even and lined up perfectly! I should've taken a picture of this, but forgot! If you have any questions, just email me or comment below.

I glued the red heart near the corner. I love how it pops against the white and neutrals of the scrapbook paper and frames!


Before I got the chance to hang it up, I had to wrap it so it would be a surprise! He had no idea what it was! He loved it when he saw it and made me hang it up immediately!


With this new addition, I had to change up my gallery wall, which I was kind of thankful for because I wasn't loving how it looked. But now, I LOVE it! I can't believe I am finally satisfied with it! It only took me like 6 months! ;)

All of these pictures I found via Pinterest. You can find them on my boards: Art & Message In A Bottle. Most of them led me to Etsy.


The best part of this project (besides the fact that it is personal and for our anniversary) is that it was free!!! I had everything already at my house! Even if I didn't have any of this stuff though, I can't imagine it costing more than $15-20. Hobby Lobby has plenty of shadow boxes and you can always use their 40% off coupon and their scrapbook paper is super cheap!

Glitter Makes Everything Better

I love the idea of using glitter. Whether it be in an arts and crafts project or digitally to spruce up a print, I love adding glitter wherever I can.

I was playing around in Silhouette Studio the other day and made my own version of a little saying that I love. I've used fill pattern for objects before, but never words. I wasn't sure how it would look, but I love it!


It's so simple but makes such a difference! Here's how I did it!

In My Patterns window, I dragged and dropped some glittery images I found via a quick Google search (Pinterest also has lots of great options when looking for patterned backgrounds). I renamed them so they would be easier to find as my inventory grows.


I colored the other words black but left "sparkle" as is. In the Fill Pattern Window,  I tried out all of my glitter patterns before deciding on pink.




It still has the red outline around the words, so I needed to get rid of that. I tried no outline (as in the picture below) but the edges looked kind of jagged.


Using the eyedropper tool, I found a darker color within the glitter to use as the outline.


Now the edges look crisp and clean!



I love the extra special look the glitter gives to the text! And there's no mess!


I can definitely see myself using this quite a bit in future projects!

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