Book Review: Vision Box Ideas by Mark Montano

A vision box is a combination vision board and shrine in a box. Montano believes they help the creator focus on the less tangible and tactile, to help create the kind of life you desire. So if you wasn’t to be a craft world rock star (as one reviewer calls him)  like Montano, you would create a box filled with the kinds of things that help you focus on that. It all works on the ‘tell the universe what you want and it will deliver’ theory,  or as I prefer to call it, the ‘focus on what you want and you will actually start noticing the opportunities everywhere’ theory.

What I  like about Montano’s approach is his mantra – ‘perfection is overrated!’ He insists his examples aren’t perfect and neither should anyone planning to follow his book. He hopes his readers will fiddle with, alter and otherwise manipulate his creations to come up with something that is entirely their own.

He starts with instructions for making vision boxes out of wood (they look like shadow boxes) in four ways, or buying shadow boxes and altering them for the purpose, but I prefer the other ideas scattered through the book, to look around and see what can be recycled, like old books from the thrift store, clocks, little sweet tins  and so on. This is followed by a visually stunning example, the Travel vision box. I don’t know if it works, but it would marvellous on the desk as a constant reminder of your goals. Montano follows this with his own story of moving to New York and becoming a designer, showing the power of focusing on your dreams.

This box strikes me as being a pretty good focus object for creative gypsies. Where do you want to go? Enjoy making and filling a vision box with cool stuff that focuses your goals – make a gorgeous Japan vision box filled with goodies, or narrow it down – if your dream is shopping in the Harajuku District, get some stuff from eBay for your box. I can really see where this would help you focus your earning and saving for your trip and be a lot of fun as well.

Montano suggests covering your box with maps, and adding globes of the world, toy planes, souvenirs and postcards, and decorating the whole thing with glitter. What I really like is that he doesn’t just suggest you leave it all to fate either – there are practical considerations like paying for tickets – as he says, “I didn’t glue in my Statue of Liberty on the shot glass because I’m tucking money under the shot glass for my next trip!” Now that’s focusing.

Montano also uses an eclectic supply of bits and pieces in his creations. Nothing goes to waste with the creatively inclined, from broken Barbie dolls to a bag of lollies. The I Will Live the Sweet Life Vision Box is quite amazing, covered in candies – though what the universe would think of it I’m not sure – would it send you diabetes or a really good dentist? That’s one of the weird ones – another one is the My Super Powers Vision Box, which pairs plastic superhero toys with the kind of Pow! Wham! Speech bubbles seen in comics. These pieces do have charm and humour, though, and would be fun to make. My personal favourite is the Lady Luck Vision Box, with its cute elephants and oriental look. Another good feature is a bunch of pages with images used in the vision boxes – you can photocopy and use them in these or any projects you fancy.

His website is filled with more of his creative ideas and information on his other books, so I advise checking it out first to see if his creative energy meshes with yours. As an afterthought, the the publisher is Fox Chapel Publishing and they are looking for craft authors to create new books like this one, so if you have an idea for a book, why not give them a try? The guidelines for authors can be found here.

My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me to review this book.

Barrio Festival 2012

2012 may not be the end of the world as we know it, but will it be the end of the Brisbane Barrio Festival that celebrates all things Filipino? It’s been a bad year for our favourite fiesta. First it was cancelled mid year due to disagreements among members of the organising committee, then was rescheduled to September 9. But the rumours grew that many stall attendees had dropped out – almost half, we were told.

Half? More like 80 per cent! This is what the fabled food fest looked like on Saturday:

One food stall. One drink stall. And the food was all gone by the time we got there. The Filipino Son in Law was shattered. He had gone to extreme lengths to transport a big family party there from the outskirts of Ipswich, and all there was left to eat was churros. They were pretty good, but they didn’t make up for the absence of real food.

Last year it was a blast, with the planking mascot from Jolibee, grocery stalls, lines of food stalls and more bubble tea outlets than bubbles in the tea. This year it looked desolate. I never saw so many broken hearted Filipino men when the food ran out.

Of course, there were the usual parade of gorgeous dancers in their lovely dresses. There was a contingent from our home town as well.


The entertainment was good, with a great girl singer on stage, but we had skipped breakfast in anticipation of the food, and since it had taken most of the morning just to get there, we were starving. So we gave up and headed for Hancook, the SiL’s favourite Korean restaurant in Southbank, where he could dine us in style at a great restaurant with great food and great staff.

Now that’s what I’m talking about! Let’s hope the Barrio Committee can get their mojo back by next year.