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!

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!

Paper Pom-Pom Garlands

I’ve been accused of random things in my life, but most often I’m lambasted for downplaying my creativity. I’ve been told that when I shrug off something that I’ve created as no big deal, it’s bizarre to other people, because not everyone’s brains work like mine. (Though to me, it wasn’t a big deal!) I think this is part of why I decided to start this blog – to show off a bit of my artwork. Don’t get me wrong, I know I have a knack for the colorful and crafty, but I have difficulty understanding how to walk the line between acknowledging my talent vs. being an unbearable braggart. (Aren’t I amazing?)

So apparently, when I casually told my mother I’d created some decorations for my birthday party, she didn’t understand that I’d handmade these garlands, as well as some other adorable adornments for my living room. I’d seen decorations like these at a party store, and had bought them on a previous occasion, but as with most things artsy, I thought, “I can make that.” So I did.

Do you remember making flowers out of tissue paper as a kid? I’m not talking the detailed flowers I learned to make using stencils from a kit my mom got me in college (does she know me or what?), but rather the accordion-folded tissue paper squares that you fluff out and attach to a pipe cleaner to make a flower… If not, that’ll be another demo for another day 🙂 I applied the same principal here – stack a bunch of papers, fold them accordion style, then fan and fluff them so you have nice pretty puffs strung together on embroidery floss (in this case).

You’ll need:

  • tissue paper
  • scissors
  • embroidery floss or any kind of string

Start off by cutting your tissue paper to whatever sized rectangles you like. I folded and cut my sheets of tissue paper in half as many times as I could until my rectangles were about 5×7. With different colors, because I do love diversity, I made my rectangles smaller – about 3×5. I didn’t measure these, so don’t stress over it. You just want all your rectangles of the same color for the same pom pom to be roughly the same size.

I decided that 12 was the magic number to where there weren’t too many sheets of paper to contend with, but enough that when you separated them it would still appear full. I stacked 12 sheets on top of one another, kind of a pain to count individual pieces of tissue paper since it’s so fine, but I wanted to remain consistent.

Start folding the paper from the narrower end, as pictured below. For my larger pom poms, I made a fold roughly every inch. For the smaller ones, I made the folds closer together. If you don’t know how to do an accordion fold, you start by folding the paper up by about an inch, flip the paper over so the fold is facing downward, and fold back by the same amount, flip paper over again, and so on. When you’re done, your folds should line up, and the paper should look like an accordion, or a fan.

Once you’ve finished folding, take whatever string you’re using, and tie a double knot in the center of your fan. You’ll want the knot to be pretty tight, but a little wiggle room is fine, and will make it a bit easier to loosen the pages from each other when you fan them out. I spaced my fans about 6 inches from each other. When you separate the paper to make your pom poms, they’ll appear closer together.

Then take a break and look over to make sure your cat isn’t doing anything weird.

Nothing unusual here...

Puffing out your pom poms is more time consuming than you’d think, since it’s also a delicate process. The time to do this is not half an hour before your guests come, just as an FYI. Starting from the outside, gently separate each layer of tissue paper, one at a time. You have 12 sheets, so you’ll want to pull 6 towards the top, and the others towards the bottom to create a bowl-shaped poof. Then separate the pages on the other side.

This doesn’t have to be done perfectly – but the more you separate the layers, the more poof you’ll have! Also, the sturdier your tissue paper, the easier this will be. If the paper rips, don’t sweat it – when it’s all puffed out you won’t even notice. This is a very forgiving project.

Then string your garlands wherever you want! I had this one hanging from a curtain rod, and another strung over my sliding door. I love the texture they added! Also, in case you’re wondering, I did, in fact, match the garlands (and other decorations) to the colors of my apartment. My entire apartment is actually that brightly colored, but the decor will be another topic for another day.

These easy decorations can brighten up any home, even if there isn’t a special occasion. You might even consider making larger pom poms and hanging them vertically from the ceiling. I’d love to see pictures if you do!