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!

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!

Craft Care Package 2

 

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!

 

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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Paisley Cut-Out Flowers

I was really into creating these flowers recently. I used colored pencil to both outline and shade in some paisleys of varying sizes, cut them out, then glued them as floral arrangements onto a card for my mom.

I think the texture the watercolor paper adds underneath the colored pencil, combined with physically layering the cutouts onto another piece of paper gives it an enhanced sense of dimension. Considering this design came together on a whim, I was pretty proud of how this card turned out. (Mom liked it too!)

Felt Cat Toys

A couple of weeks ago, I was looking to do a quickie project with purpose, and decided to make some cat toys for the girls (Walker and Sunny). The reason was twofold – first, I wanted to treat my darling kitties to some new playthings because it’s been awhile. Secondly I needed extra weapons to throw at them for when they would disrupt me while I was working (or eating, or doing anything that didn’t involve paying complete attention to them). I’ve found the best method of keeping them distracted, at least for moments at a time, is to throw toys around the room. (Otherwise, they tend towards destruction when they feel neglected.)

The supply of cat toys I’ve invested in has dwindled, and the remainder are looking worse for wear. But don’t let the picture below of these 4 remaining purchased toys fool you into thinking there aren’t a dozen neon-colored, catnip-filled mice, weird koosh-like balls, and other shapes with bells in them all hiding in the crevices of my apartment. Every now and again something resurfaces that I haven’t seen in awhile, but often another toy is lost in its place to the great unknown. (Think clothes-dryer sock monster kind of deal.)

So, on this particular day, I decided to get some supplies out and make a few. All four took me just over an hour in total to create, not too big a time investment. Also, it was a fairly simple project overall, and a quick way to replenish my arsenal on the cheap.

What you’ll need:

  • Felt
  • embroidery floss/thread and needle
  • scissors
  • batting or other stuffing

As you can see below, I just cut out some basic shapes from felt – not too large, maybe 3″ or so – then I stuffed them with some crinkly paper, and sewed them together for a little plush toy.  I used embroidery floss to sew the edges so that the stitching became part of the decoration.

I don’t know that the crinkly paper made any difference, but the cats love these. For your project, you can certainly stuff them with regular batting, and even enhance them with some catnip. Next time, I’ll want to make them heavier so they travel further when I throw them across the room. (Maybe they’ll actually make it across the room.) My concern with that was finding something that added weight, but wouldn’t harm the cats when they bit into the toy. I’ll figure something out, I’m sure. But, as is, these toys will surely delight your favorite felines.

Do you have any other ideas for cat toys? Any suggestions for something to add weight without harming those delicate but pointy teeth?

Scrapbook Paper Flowers

I was totally inspired by Cally at Cally’s Creations for this next project. When I saw her post about the 3D flowers, I knew I wanted to create some of my own. Following her basic guidelines, I put my own spin on these, and it resulted in some fabulous decorations for both my walls and curtains!

You’ll need:

  • Paper – scrapbooking, tissue, card stock, construction, printer, etc
  • rhinestones
  • glue
  • scissors
  • small or medium safety pins (if you want to hang them on curtains)

Basically, you want to cut out concentric circles of differing sizes and glue them together in the middle. Callie used adorable brass fasteners (split pins) with flowers to join hers together, but I used some glue and a plastic rhinestone to finish mine. I also found I didn’t have the patience to cut out more than three layers for each flower, so I didn’t!

The only rules I had for these flowers were that they be comprised of purple and teal layers to match my living room. I actually didn’t even pay attention to the hues and whether they went with each other, and the colors still look fantastic together. I used both plain and patterned scrap-booking paper, as well as some patterned tissue paper I had leftover from my garlands.

If you’re going to do more than 3 petal layers, I’d recommend making your outside circle larger to start with. I think mine averaged around 3″ in circumference, but I didn’t measure. To more precisely cut out circles you can fold paper in half and then cut out a half-circle, but I liked the organic, imperfect shapes I managed to freehand with the scissors. I then crinkled some of the paper, per Cally’s instruction, to give it more texture.

As you can already see, I added my own flare to some of the flowers by cutting out triangles to form separate “petals.” This is easily done by folding your flower in half, and snipping two small lines to make a triangle. Remove the cut paper.

While I wanted some wall decorations for my walls (I used painter’s tape to apply it), I also wanted to put some up on my curtains, so I got the idea to glue a safety pin to the backs of some flowers. This was really easy to do – just make sure that you don’t glue down the side of the pin that opens! I took about a one inch strip of scrap-booking paper, placed the pin in the middle, then added 2 dabs of glue – one on either side. (As my kindergarten teacher taught me, a little dab’ll do ya.) Then I placed the strip onto the back of one of the flowers. Let it dry, and voila!

These came out awesome, and I’m already planning to repurpose them by combining them into some bigger art project. I’ll post the updates whenever that happens. For now, check out some of my gorgeous results!

And here, you can see the safety pin idea totally worked! (They’re still hanging on my curtains because they compliment the dining room so well.)

Have you done a project like this one? How did it turn out?

Party Favors – Custom Drinking Cups

I had a big birthday pass recently, and I wanted to throw an epic bash worthy of my new age. Aside from just hoping that good company and good food would create lasting memories, I wanted some sort of party favor, a keepsake, for each of my guests. After hemming and hawing about possibly baking some chocolate salty balls and individually packaging them with some sort of cute label, I realized an interactive project would be more fun (and less work for me!).

Something that had gone over well at my place some years ago was when I had a “decorate your own sugar cookie” station at an Easter party. All my friends got really into customizing their own cookies, and I thought it’d be great if they could create their own takeaway gifts for my birthday. While some ideas are nice in theory, did I really think everyone needed m&ms with my face on it, or a sweatband embroidered with my name and birthday? Or would the memory of a great party simply attach itself to an object when its owner fondly remembered making it at my house? I believed the latter to be true.

I set up a simple station complete with pre-washed sippy cups with krazy straws, a couple of permanent markers, and sheets of stickers with all kinds of fun designs on them. I also had a stack of regular 16oz cups on the table, in case anyone preferred those.

The plastic cups were about $1 each at a party store. I got these particular ones because a.) they had krazy straws (which I would have bought for drinks anyway) and b.) they had a wider mouth and would be easier to wash and reuse. Another unintentional bonus was that these cups were only 12oz, and inadvertently helped people moderate their alcohol intake – not that it was a real concern in this case. But since the straw was so small, and the cup had 4oz less room than the Solo cups, people were drinking more slowly.

As predicted, the cup decorating idea was a hit! While some people created scenes and patterns on their cups, some simply wanted to write their names. Overall, my friends had a great time picking from all the stickers and creating their individualized drinking vessels, which they then used for the rest of the evening. There were no rules, and everyone enjoyed the project. Some people even decorated regular plastic cups. It was a great way to cut down on waste because no one accidentally lost or casually threw away any idle cups.

This is a great, engaging project you can certainly do for your next party with guests of all ages!

You’ll need:

  • Plastic cups with krazy straws (make sure to wash them before using!)
  • Permanent markers
  • a variety of stickers – I got skulls, owls, dinosaurs, cupcakes, fruits, and zoo animals, as well as some blingy rhinestones and stars ($1 per sheet at Target, and they had great options!)

The cups made appearances in most of the photos taken that night, and with good reason! They came out great! Lots of people even kept decorating as the night went on, and it was fun seeing them all involved – even the boys 🙂

With a little simple planning, you too can have a sippy-cup-decorating station at your next party, and drink your Creamsicle in style.