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!

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Anything but clothing…

I went to a cleverly themed party the other night called an ‘Anything But Clothing’ party. Now, many of you may have heard of these, but apparently I missed out on a lot in college. The premise of the party is like a costume party – but you make your outfit from something that can’t be considered clothing. The examples the host gave were a friend of his who once made a skirt out of gatorade labels, and the ever classic duct tape outfits.

I was excited for the challenge, and had a bunch of ideas. Of course, I had to can a few of them for logistical reasons (too hot, too noisy, too restrictive), but I came up with the idea to make an outfit out of shopping bags. I have a ton of paper bags from various stores, and though the details were sketchy when I started, I had an image of a nice long skirt (and I don’t care what anyone said, I was wearing real clothes underneath…), and the top was TBD.

To fashion the skirt, I took a long piece of duct tape, and started sticking strips from the shopping bags on them starting from the same top line. I made three layers, and taped them all together for maximum coverage. For the top, I was inspired by the multitudes of Gap shopping bags I had lying around (I didn’t realize I was seemingly collecting them), and the idea for a halter top using the drawstring from one of the bags. I didn’t measure anything, I just tried to make it long enough that it would cover me and fit over the skirt.

So, yeah! I think it came out pretty cute! (It was also incredibly hot and sticky under the duct taped parts and the plastic top, but I saw that coming. That’s why you get the picture early on in the evening!)

Have you designed any super creative costumes from stuff rather than fabric? I’d love to hear about it!

Glitter Nail Polish – How To

So here’s a little how-to follow up to my last post about glitter nail polish. I happened to find those fabulous colors in a retail store, however I haven’t always been able to find just the right shade.

There is a nail salon nearby that I used to frequent and, if memory serves, it [probably still] has the greatest selection of colors I’ve ever seen. Since I can’t always splurge on a mani-pedi just to get the color I want – and I also actually enjoy painting my own nails – I inquired about purchasing my favorite polishes for home. Unfortunately, they didn’t sell all the colors they stocked in the shop. However, one of the girls who worked there suggested I might make my own.

Surprisingly, it was something I’d never considered. When she recommended using extra fine body glitter, which can be found at a beauty supply store if not in a drug store, it was truly a, “like, duh!” moment. I bought 2 shades of glitter – Hollywood Lights from Cinema Secrets, to be precise – and 2 cheapo bottles of clear polish. In hindsight, as with most polish, the somewhat pricier ones are usually worth a bit more. Just a bit!

Use a rolled piece of paper, or something similar, to help funnel the glitter into the bottle of clear polish. There’s no exact proportion for this, I made sure to use quite a bit because I wanted good coverage. (I hate sparse glitter polish that requires 2 coats just to notice it!) Keep in mind, as with all glitter projects, that this has the potential to get super messy, so put some paper down in case of spills.

That’s it. Just pour glitter into your polish and stir. This could depend on the polish, but I know the glitter in mine tends to settle at the bottom, so you’ll have to make sure to mix it well before using. I wonder if a thicker polish helps suspend the glitter better. I imagine it does, since my store-bought ones don’t have this problem.

So let this be a lesson to you as it was to me- whether with nail polish, or almost anything else, if you can’t buy what you’re looking for, try to make it yourself!

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?