Personalized Notebook

I don’t know about you, but I love giving gifts with a personal touch. And the easiest way to do that is to buy something pre-made and enhance it with your own embellishments. I made a bunch of these as Christmas presents a few years ago. They’re an easy, fun, and relatively cheap way to give a personalized gift that people will cherish.

Recently, I found I needed a notebook to keep a collection of thoughts, instead of having randomly scribbled post-it notes everywhere. After having made these for my sister, cousins, and mom, I realized I should make one for myself! All you need is a notebook and a good variety of stickers. If you’re like me, you have a bin of stickers arranged by occasion so you can pick and choose as you please.

This isn’t really a step-by-step how-to, but rather an idea you can take and run with. It’s something that could easily make a wonderful gift for Mother’s Day or Easter, since they’re fast approaching, as well as a birthday for your favorite writer, musician, or teenager.

The first step is to get a good notebook. This is subjective, however I have some preferences. Leather/Moleskin is probably not your best bet, as I doubt stickers will adhere well, and you’ll want this to last! I prefer a thick, paper-like cover with a matte finish. That being said, if you just wanted to add a splash of personality to your school books, this would certainly work on your standard 1-3 subject notebook. For a gift, however, look in stores with “office/school supplies.” You’ll want a “journal” as opposed to a regular notebook, because frankly those come with the best patterns. I’ve found some great ones in both CVS and Staples, but this flamingo one was purchased at Target.

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Then get decorating! I usually start off by putting the name on the notebook first. That way, you can build a border around it with the rest of the stickers. (or not! there are no rules!)

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In my experience, I’ve found the coolest collages are created when I use a variety of stickers with different shapes, sizes, textures, colors, sheen (glitter, matted, shiny), and thicknesses. Play around to create depth, as it’s more visually interesting and will make your notebook look way more intricate and involved than it was to make. Beyond that, they sell stickers for almost anything you can think of – flowers, sports, hobbies, travel… There are virtually no limits to what you can use and how you can layer everything.

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The best part is with these stickers, while they’ll stay in place when you’re finished, they’re also easily moved before you’re done. I played around with placement of a few of these before settling on a spot. While ideally you’ll find the perfect home for each piece before committing to placement, the truth is that’s not how the creative process works. Once you have more pieces of the puzzle in, you might realize that some things just might look better elsewhere. There was originally another butterfly where the brontosaurus is. I just wasn’t feeling it in the end!

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This notebook has already been put to use, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. I have no doubt you’ll have the same reaction to your finished product, whether or not you’re the intended recipient.

Happy crafting!

Miami Hurricanes Nails

My fingers are busy celebrating Halloween, but my toesies are supporting The U! Today is game day against Virginia Tech, and I’m watching with a rival fan. In addition to my spirited nails, I’ve also replaced an entire bag of M&Ms with green and orange ones, and combined a pack of Mint Oreos and Halloween-colored ones for a green and orange surprise for my friend the Hokie.

Go ‘Canes!

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Halloween Nail Art!

I got this great neon coral polish from Forever 21. (It’s infinitely brighter than that picture would lead you to believe.) I can’t get enough of it on my toes or my fingers. Last weekend I decided, in the spirit of attending something called The Rise of the Jack o’ Lanterns, that I would embellish them a bit, so I added some fun to my thumbs.

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Then last night happened. Last night, a friend told me about a show on Oxygen called Nail’d It. It is a nail painting/decorating/creating competition TV show, and it was incredible. It’s even hosted by a Cheetah Girl! (Anyone know what I’m talking about?)

Anyway – why just watch a show about nail decorating when you could simultaneously decorate your nails as well? So I did! Fingers 3, 4, and 5 each received a little holiday spirit of their own. I started with the ghost (one on each hand), and then went to the candy corn, and finally the cat. My sister said to leave my 2nd finger alone for the sake of being different, and I listened. Otherwise I might have attempted spider webs on them.

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To answer some questions you might have, that I’ve been asked before… Yes, I painted these myself. I used those little detail brushes they sell in the slender bottles of polish. Yes, I did my right hand also. I don’t know that I’m quite ambidextrous, but I certainly have practice painting with my left hand. Yes, it took a lot longer to do my right hand!

What are your favorite Halloween nail designs? I’ve seen dripping blood, which was pretty cool, and considered trying some sort of Frankenstein head, but I ran out of patience. I hope these last, but if not, I’ll get to create something new for next week!

Happy Birthday, Nikola Tesla!

Today is Nikola Tesla Day! Celebrated on his birthday, July 10th, people around the world pay homage to this remarkable man. He would have been 157 years old this year, and, in his honor, I’m rocking my Tesla Coil t-shirt to work.

The creator of modern electricity, radio, robotics, and wireless energy, Tesla is one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever read about. I picked up a free book about him on my Kindle, and it blew my mind. For your edification, here’s a summary of his life from The Oatmeal. It’s a great overview of why you should celebrate his genius, with some added snark and hilarity for your entertainment.

I have no experience in any of the fields in which Tesla was influential, but I celebrate him for his character as well as his brilliant mind. His humility made him a man of great integrity – he created with the mindset of benefiting all, rather than making a profit for himself. Do you know that he invented a machine with the hopes of powering the entire planet with free electricity? He tested a prototype and it worked, but his idea was squashed by a gentleman (JP Morgan), who didn’t want to give away anything for free. Even something that wasn’t really his to control in the first place. So, unfortunately for Tesla, his naiveté about helping society was arguably also his greatest downfall.

He was exploited time and time again, being screwed over by people who wanted to use his genius for their monetary gain. But the thing is, he never stopped creating, or trying to better society. Even one that seemed to want nothing more than to take advantage of him. And for that reason, above all, I celebrate Nikola Tesla.

I encourage you as well, dear reader, to learn more about Nikola Tesla so you can appreciate his genius and let his relentlessly creative and brilliant mind inspire you as well.

Perry the Nail Polish-apus

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and finally managed to pull it off… just in time for the birthday of the woman who gave me the idea! I was also inspired by this image on Spektor’s Nails, which was sent to me by another friend.

I present to you, Perry the Nail Polish-apus. I painted them myself, using L’Oreal’s “not a cloud in sight” for the background color. For the thumb nail, I did the ever iconic Perry face you’ve seen everywhere.

For the middle fingers, I did Perry as he appears when he’s a regular ol’ house pet.

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And, since everyone asked to see my right hand… you should know that I didn’t even attempt to do this while painting with my left. (Well, after the test run where I determined it wasn’t going to be a good idea.)

Below are the pix of the test run, done with my dominant hand.

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Lessons learned:

  1. Even teeny, tiny paintbrushes sometimes leave thicker lines than anticipated.
  2. It seems a lot easier to paint a simple design than it is, because you cant quite detach your hand from your wrist to put it at the angle you’d like.
  3. When you take close up pictures of your hands, everyone will see your cuticles.
  4. It’s really hard to take close up pictures of your own hand.

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Descanso Gardens

Have any of you other Angelenos been to Descanso Gardens? If you’re into flowers, this place is incredible. A coworker mentioned it to me a month or so ago, and I checked it out for the first time a couple weeks back. I signed up for a membership that day – I knew it was a place I’d have to visit over and over.

It’s peaceful, beautiful, and relaxing. I love being outdoors and wandering the various trails and paths. And when you think, “Maybe I’m not supposed to walk here?” chances are you’ll look up to find a bench a bit further down the way. It’s wonderful. I’ve taken in the views from some of the benches, parked myself on a rock to watch the koi and turtles in the pond, and have grand plans of bringing a book next time I’m there and possibly claiming a patch of grass in one of the many open fields.

This past weekend in particular, I was excited to return to see the cherry blossoms blooming. As magical as promised. I took lots of pictures in the short time I was there (bonus of a membership – I can come whenever I please so I don’t feel the need to make my time spent there worth the admission fee, which is a reasonable $8) – and want to share a few of my favorites with you below.

They’re all pictures of flowers, and you’ll see one of my (dare I say?) signature “bee butts” in there as well. Enjoy, and if you’re in the area be sure to check out the gardens yourself!

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the craftiest of surprises

My sister sent me a text asking, “What are the ‘pads of paper’ that you have on the customs page of this package you sent me?” I hadn’t wanted to ruin the surprise, but when customs get involved, customs go out the window, you know what I mean? Maybe not. I babble.

After finishing a fun joint crafts venture over the holidays, my sister had lamented to me that they just didn’t have good craft-supply stores in Berlin. Shortly after she left SoCal to head back to Europe, I started stockpiling some goodies for her.

While I am tooting my own horn a bit here, I’m also mentioning this as a suggestion for anyone who needs a gift for the crafter in his or her life. It is, after all, National Craft Month.

There was a crazy sticker sale at Michael’s, as well as cheap cute ones from Target, not to mention great deals on pads of paper. Since there are usually 2/3 sheets of each pattern, I delicately ripped out a page or two of each to send her, and kept the remainder for myself. And there was a handy container on sale to keep it all, well, contained… since my sis is short on space in her apartment. (Photos courtesy of my well-traveled sister.)

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Final tally included tons of scrap-booking paper in varying shades, patterns, and weights, stickers and embellishments – like different glittery alphabet sets, flowers, animals, self-adhering rhinestones and pearls – and a set of glitter glue pens (can’t live without them!). Now she can make all the cards and picture frames and collages she wants!

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Point is, if anyone is looking for something to get me this National Craft Month, or looking for some project starters of their own, see above!

 

Crocheting – not just for old ladies

One of my favorite hobbies is crocheting. I learned how to do it from my surrogate grandma, my neighbor Millie. I started off as most new crocheters, making granny squares into afghans. I perfected that art and even completed a few – including one for my mom and one for my sis last year for the holidays. (Complete with cat hair, like most of my projects.)

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Here’s my sister’s, in its natural surroundings:

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The great thing about crocheting is it’s perfect for multitasking while you’re watching TV or listening to music. Recently, I’ve joined a group of knitters and crocheters at work, so it also makes for great socializing! These ladies (and a couple of gentlemen) knit and crochet for a cause, so all the blankets, scarves, and hats we make are donated to people with cancer, soldiers overseas, veterans, and others who are in need. It’s nice to feel like I’m putting my skills to good use. And I’m getting pretty good at making hats! (My first one ever, below.)

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If you’re a knitter/crocheter, and are interested in donating some of your goods, contact me and I’ll refer you to some people in need.

Also, if you have any cool patterns you can recommend to me, I’d love to check them out. The great thing about meeting these ladies at work was they taught me how to read a pattern, whereas I’d only learned by sight before. A whole new world was opened up!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day, surrounded by loved ones – whether or not you’re attached to a significant other.

If you need a last-minute card idea, there’s nothing wrong with simple. It’s amazing how quickly and easily you can transform card stock, scrapbook paper, and tissue paper with a little glitter, glue and scissors. Take it to the next level with some markers, crayons, or colored pencils. Whatever you have around the house!

I used all differing shades of pinks and reds, without fear of clashing colors. I think they turned out pretty cute! Let’s hope my parents think so, as they should be receiving them today 🙂

(Pardon the lighting, it was pretty dark when I took the pix.)

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