A Maine Icon

I am having a hard time believing that this coming Monday is Memorial Day, and with it the unofficial start to the summer season. In a normal year, I wouldn’t need the calendar to remind me of the start of the season; I would be able to tell by the flurry of activity in my small coastal Maine town. As we all know, nothing is normal right now. This year is definitely different: the local beach finally opened up last week after being closed for 2 months, and there is a quiet sense of activity and anticipation as seasonal homes are being aired out, and local businesses and restaurants are preparing to, once again, open their doors. Soon.

I love the summer season. When you live on the coast, this is the season you dream about and endure long, harsh winters for. What’s not to love about spending warm sunny days near the ocean! And what could be more synonymous with a day at the beach than a “bean” bag–an L.L.Bean tote bag. The beach and their bags just go together–especially when you’re in Maine.

I have spent this past week working on creating my own paper version of the classic L.L.Bean tote bag, and I decided the best way to show you what I came up with was to create a step-by-step tutorial. I promise you there will be more pictures that yada-yada, so not to worry!

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I started by looking online at the traditional L.L.Bean tote bag, and making a list of what features make their bag so iconic. This is the list I came up with:

  1. Neutral bag color
  2. Solid contrasting bag base and all-in-one bag straps and handles
  3. Triangle-shaped contrast on sides of bag
  4. White stitching on bag base and side straps/handles
  5. Front pocket
  6. Logo label to right of pocket

The one and only L.L.Bean bag I have ever owned looks just like the one pictured above, with the addition of a front pocket and a logo label to the right of the pocket. I have added these two features to my list.

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This is one of their current bag choices, and it has the front pocket and logo label to give you a visual reference.

Keeping my list in mind, I started working on my bag. Luckily I didn’t have to start from scratch–I was given a tutorial for a L.L.Bean bag by a fellow Stampin’ Up! demonstrator, Mary Kate Scott, at a stamping event she hosted last Fall. She used her bag, which was her original design, to hold raffle tickets, and she graciously shared her pattern instructions with me after the event. I pulled out her instructions and took a closer look at her version. Mary Kate’s bag was designed to hold 3 1/2″ x 5″ notecards, so it was fairly tall. She used ribbon for the all-in-one bag straps and handles, and included a plain front pocket on which she stamped her initials.

Using her measurements and instructions, I made a prototype bag. After I was finished, I knew I wanted to make some changes to the design–namely, I wanted to shorten the overall height of the bag; I wanted to use cardstock for the side straps and handles; I wanted to use patterned paper for the front pocket; and I wanted to add a logo tag. What follows is the tutorial for my version of a L.L.Bean bag. NOTE:  Cutting instructions will be provided at the end of this post.

BAG FOUNDATION

The basic bag structure is made using a pattern that has been around for a long time called Box in a Bag. It involves making a simple box and then wrapping a strip of paper around the outside of the box to form the bag. This is what it looks like when it’s finished:IMG_7747

and this is what it looks like from the inside:

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I chose white as my neutral bag color, and navy for my solid contrasting color. Make sure that when you are making your box that you glue the box tabs to the outside of the box, so that you look at a seam-free box on the inside. I also started wrapping the white strip of paper in 11/16ths inch from the left side of one of the long sides of the box. This way the paper seam can be covered up by a side strap. (more info to follow on this)

FRONT POCKET

I made the pocket out of navy gingham paper and added a thin strip of red paper at the top. I centered it on the long side of the bag with the seam. I made marks at 7/8″ and 2 7/8″; measuring from the left side of the bag, and adhered the pocket between those two marks. Make these same measurement marks on the back side of the bag.

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BAG STRAPS & LOGO TAG

I cut 4 strips of navy paper for the bag straps that are the same height as the bag, and my logo tag was made out of a small square of red paper. I scored the tag so that I would have a tab to glue under the outside edge of the right side strap, and I added navy stars as my “logo”.

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I started adhering the side straps with the one to the right of the pocket. Before I stuck it down, I held it up to the bag and attached the logo tag at the height of the pocket.

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The other 3 straps were attached–the strap to the left of the pocket nicely covers up the seam, and the back 2 straps were attached to the outside of the measurement marks I made earlier. I purposely placed the seam in the front of the bag, so that when you look inside, the back of the bag is clean and seamless–its just more professional looking.

HANDLES

The handles were cut from navy paper and are the same width as the side straps. I measured down 1/2″ from the top of the bag and made 2 marks on the inside of the side straps. I curled each handle strip and attached each end on top of the side straps just shy of the 1/2″ marks. I followed the same steps for the back handle.

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COLOR BANDS

The final step is to wrap navy bands around the top and bottom of the bag. This not only helps to create the illusion of the contrasting bag base, but the bands also cover up the handle seams and unfinished edges.

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Tada–my L.L.Bean bag is finished and I”m so excited– it looks so authentic! I didn’t end up adding the white stitching or the triangle side pieces–this is a small bag and there isn’t room for the triangle pieces, and I thought the white stitching might detract from the clean look of the design.

Now that I had the design and measurements solidified, I made several more bags. I couldn’t help myself!

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I couldn’t have a navy bag without making a red one, and I’m glad I did. I love the red version, and I think it’s because the L.L.Bean bag I own is red and white.

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I also made a few in pastel colors, and I embossed the word “Enjoy” in white embossing powder for the logo tags on these bags.

That’s it my friends–we are at the end of my “bean” bag story. I so appreciate you stopping by today, and I hope you are all healthy and in good spirits as your part of the country begins to slowly open up. Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

CUTTING INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Box:  2 1/2″ x 4 3/4″; score each side at 1/2″
  2. Bag: 3 1/4″ x 11″
  3. Pocket: 2″ x 1 7/8″
  4. Pocket Accent: 1/8″ x 2″
  5. Side Straps x 4: 1/2″ x 3 1/4″
  6. Logo Tag: 5/8″ x 5/8″; score at 3/8″
  7. Handles x 2: 1/2″ x 7″
  8. Contrast Bands: 1/2″ x 11″

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ring of Daisies-Part II

Happy Friday, my friends, and thank you for coming back for Part II of my series. Today I get to show you the coordinating daisy candle rings that I created for our table. I’ve never made candle rings before, but after having so much success with the napkin rings, I was anxious to give them a try!

When I pictured this project in my mind, I envisioned white candle holders and taper candles so that the candle rings would really stand out. I didn’t want to use traditional candle sticks, but wanted to repurpose and paint a jar or glass of some kind to add some charm and interest to the table. I also wanted the holders to be low profile, so that my husband and I could still see each other over the candles. With these criteria in mind, I went “shopping” around my house and I finally settled on using wide mouth half-pint mason jars. These jars have a great shape, but I was a little concerned about the wide mouth. I didn’t know whether I could make a daisy big enough to cover the entire opening, without distorting it’s shape. I guess I was about to find out!

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I have painted a lot of mason jars and I prefer using the chalk paint pictured above. It provides excellent coverage and I love the opaque look it gives the jars. I put 3 coats of paint on each jar and then sanded the surfaces with extra fine sand paper to expose some of the words. I finished off each jar with a coat of the cream wax paint, which softens and smooths out the chalky finish. After you apply the cream wax, let it dry and then rub the jars with a cotton cloth to bring out the shine. Before I put the jars aside, I stuck the tapers in the middle of the jars with this candle adhesive that we purchased from Current many years ago. It really works and a little bit goes a long way!

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With the candle holders finished, I now needed to concentrate on the actual rings. When I initially thought about making the rings, I figured that I would just cut the flowers in half and wrap them around the taper candle. Wrong! I off set the petals as I add each flower layer, so if I cut the flowers in half, the entire flower would just fall apart. Once again, making these candle rings proved more challenging that I originally thought. I have got to stop coming up with these complicated ideas!

Instead of wrapping the flowers around the candles, I needed to make a ring to just slip over the candles. I measured the tapers and discovered that the candles were about 1″ in diameter where the candle ring would sit. I also measured the opening of the jars and determined that using the enlarged flower would cover the opening perfectly. So I put on my engineering hat and went to work. It took a lot of thought and failed attempts, but I finally figured out a way to create an open ring in the middle of the flowers while keeping them intact. Here come the pictures!

 

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And here come the circle punches again! I created rings by punching a 1″ circle out of  both a 1 1/2″ and a 1 3/4″ circle, and these rings helped hold the flower layers together when I cut the middle out of each flower. I ended up just using 2 size layers for each flower, and used a larger scallop circle for the flower center.

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I started out by making 8 enlarged flowers and punching out 8 of the larger daisy punch. I applied adhesive all around one of the 1 3/4″ circle rings and also added a little adhesive to each individual flower petal just beyond the circle edge. I centered a flower on the circle ring and pressed it down. Then I turned the flower over and snipped out the middle of the flower. As an aside, what does the picture above remind you of? You’re right; a ship’s wheel. You might be seeing that return on a future project. But I digress…..

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I then added another flower, offsetting the petals and then turned it over and snipped out the middle again. It would have been much quicker to just put all four layers on and then use the 1″ circle punch to remove all four layers at once, but the hand punches can’t cut through more than one layer of card stock at a time.

I followed this same process until I had all four flowers layered together. Here’s what one flower size layer looked like at this point:

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Look at that–I did it! I created a flower layer that stayed together even with the middle cut out of it! Pretty impressive for a non-engineer!

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I then started over with the next flower size and followed the same process to complete all four flower layers using the 1 1/2″ circle ring. When this size flower was finished, I put some foam dimensionals on the larger layer and attached the two sized flowers together.

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For the inner ring, I carefully snipped each scallop and glued 2 rings together, offsetting the scallops. I’m not planning to attach this ring to the flower layers; I’m just going to slip it on over the flower.

And now for the moment of truth–what does it look like when I put everything together? Will the flower ring stay together after I slip it over the candle? Let’s find out:

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What do you think? I absolutely love them, and I think they turned out even better than I imagined! The shape of the jars add so much charm and interest without detracting from the flower rings, which is exactly what I set out to accomplish. Now let’s see what they look like on the table along with the napkin rings:

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Notice that my husband and I are practicing our social distancing! I kept the table settings plain and simple so that the napkin and candle rings would stand out. The woven placemats bring in some texture without adding color, and the lace trim on the cloth napkins compliments and highlights the sweetness and charm of the daisies.

These rings weren’t quick and easy to design and make, but they were definitely worth all of the time and effort. I absolutely love having the kitchen table decorated for Spring, and the overall effect is simple, soft and charming. It makes me smile every time I walk by or sit at the table.

It’s been great to spend some time together these past two days, but I am ready to take off my engineering cap; step away from the daisy hand punches; and move on to easier projects. All of this shelter in place time is perfect for crafters like me, so I am sure we will be together again soon. You are in my thoughts and I hope you stay healthy and safe. Until next time, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rings of Daisies–Part I

I am still making paper daisies here–I can’t seem to put these hand punches down! Once you get a rhythm going, they come together so quickly and are addicting! While I was making all of the flowers for my Spring frame (see post here), an idea popped into my head to try and make daisy napkin rings and candle rings. I could just picture how sweet the kitchen table would look all decorated for Spring. Turning the picture I had in my head into a reality proved to be more challenging than I would have imagined, and required much more engineering that I am used to or good at. I have worked on these projects for two weeks and am finally ready to show you what I came up with. I decided to divide the “big reveal”  into two parts, as each post will be very photo heavy. So, are you ready for Part I? Then let’s go!

Part I is all about the napkin rings. I thought that this would be a quick and easy project–all I had to do was make the daisies, and then velcro some ribbon onto the back of each flower; much like I had done with my Easter napkin rings posted here. Wrong! I discovered that the flowers as is were too small to use as a napkin ring–they really needed one more layer.  If I had a third larger daisy punch, this would have been a piece of cake, but there isn’t such a punch. So this meant that I needed to figure out another way to add one more layer to each flower.

I soon realized that there were two issues that I needed to solve in trying to add on to each flower–not only did I need to lengthen each petal, but I also had to make sure that all of the petals were lengthened evenly. After a lot of trial and error, I finally came up with a process which my pictures will help to explain:

In order for the process to make sense, let me show you what supplies I used to make a 2-layer flower as pictured on my Spring frame:

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The only thing you need to take away from this picture is that you need 4 flowers of each daisy punch size to make up the bottom and middle layers of the daisies like I used on my picture frame.

To make a third, longer layer you will need an additional 8 flowers from the large daisy punch, plus (4) 1″ circles and (4) 1 3/4″ circles. I have punched the 1″ and 1 3/4″ circles out of navy card stock for visual effect:

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I used the different sized circles to ensure that each petal and flower were lengthened evenly. The next few pictures will explain this in more detail.

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The first thing I did was to glue the 1″ circles to the middle of 4 of the daisies, and then I cut off each petal beyond the 1″ circle, so that each petal was approximately the same length as all of the others.

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I then placed a 1 3/4″ circle in the middle of another daisy, and glued all of the petals pieces onto the shorter petals by placing them just beyond the circle edge. This is what it looks like once all of the petal pieces are glued on:

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I continued following the above steps until I had 4 lengthened flowers. This definitely was “futzy” and time-consuming; but worth it! I put an enlarged flower next to the smaller, original sized flower for comparison:

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You get an even better idea when you see the size comparison on actual napkins–I used rubber bands to gather the napkins and just sat the two flowers on top.

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The third layer makes such a difference, don’t you think? The smaller flower just gets lost  on the napkin–it just isn’t commanding enough to stand out.

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To create the actual ring, I used 6″ pieces of a white textured ribbon and 5/8″ white velcro dots.IMG_7556

I joined both sides of each dot together and stuck one in the middle of each ribbon and another on one end. I placed the flower on top of the middle dot and then brought the ribbon around and joined the two ribbon ends together to make a ring.

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And the napkin rings are done. Whew–thanks for enduring all of those pictures! As a reward, here is the picture you have been waiting for–the table all set:

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Well, I can’t show you the entire table yet, but here’s a sneak peak of a table setting. This will have to hold you until tomorrow, when I will post Part II–the candle rings.

Until then, I hope you are all healthy and safe, and that you are adapting to the new normal in our daily lives. It sure is a challenge, isn’t it! You are all in my thoughts, and until tomorrow, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

It’s Spring?

When you look at the calendar, today is the first day of Spring. When you look outside, it is anything but Spring. Where is the warmth and the color? Since I can’t detect signs of spring outside, I decided to create my own version of spring that I can enjoy from inside my home:

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When I think of Spring, I think of flowers and pastel colors, so that is how this project started. I had recently learned how to make these paper daisies, and, because they were so much fun and easy to make, I ended up with a whole pile of them. I wanted to turn these flowers into some form of home decor, so I searched online for different ideas. The idea I kept coming back to was displaying the flowers on a frame, and when I found this frame on Amazon, I knew it was exactly what I had been looking for. The frame reminded me of a white picket fence, which was the perfect backdrop for my flowers.

This frame had a clip on it and was designed to hold a 4″ x 6″ picture. I didn’t want to use a photograph, but thought maybe I could find a free Spring printable to use instead. I hadn’t searched for long when I ran across this printable. I printed out the 4″ x 6″ size, cut it down, and mounted it on a coordinating piece of cardstock.

I now had all of the pieces for my home decor projects; all that was left to do was put it all together. I played around with the placement of the flowers and leaves until I was happy with the arrangement, and then hot glued them to the frame. The printable didn’t require any extra adhesive–the clip was strong enough to hold it securely.

I had so much fun decorating this frame that I ended up making a frame for our son and daughter. Our daughter’s frame looks just like the one pictured above. The frame I made for our son is different in that it uses a specific color combination, and I stamped a spring scene rather than using a printable:

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Here is a picture of the two different frames side by side for comparison:

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I’m happy with the way both of the frames turned out and couldn’t wait to send them to our kids. My frame is now in a corner of the pantry sitting on a metal cookbook holder that I had spray painted last fall. It is just what this dark corner needed!

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This frame has brought some beauty and color to my environment, and, with all of the extra time we are all spending at home, it is amazing how much it has brightened my spirits to have seasonal decorations around to look at.

Take good care, my friends, and, as always remember,

“May the sand be your seat; the waves kiss your feet; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

Stars, Stripes and Sailboats

Let me start by saying that it wasn’t my intention to spend my afternoon crafting, but sometimes impromptu crafting just happens and it is so much fun. And, believe you me, I ended up having more fun that one person should have on a rainy afternoon!

I was looking for some pictures on my computer when I ran across this picture:

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This was the window display of a paper store we walked by, and my heart skipped a beat or two when I saw this. I took this picture and then went into the shop to find out more about these absolutely adorable sailboats. I learned that all of these sailboats were made out of wrapping paper from a simple origami pattern. My favorite design was the polka dot paper at the bottom of the rows, so I ended up buying some of that paper, and left the shop thinking that the first thing I was going to do when I got home was look up how to make an origami sailboat.

Fast forward 2 years. I still have the wrapping paper, and I have bookmarked a pattern for a sailboat, but nothing more. Well…..I really can’t explain all that happened in the next 2 hours–all I know is that this picture sparked an idea, and the results of that idea were totally unexpected and totally awesome.

I began by making a sample sailboat from the pattern I had found. I started out with a 5″ square piece of wrapping paper, and ended up with a sailboat that was 3 1/2″ wide. I thought that was too small, so after some additional experimenting, I settled on a 7″ square piece of paper which gave me a sailboat that was 5″ wide. So it’s important to keep in mind that the end design will be smaller than the initial size paper square you start out with.

In what seemed like only a matter of minutes, I had four sailboats

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You could easily end up with a whole fleet of these babies in a matter of a few hours; it’s that quick and easy! I love the contrast of the white sails against the navy paper, and the pattern gives directions on how to accomplish this. The sailboats in the window display don’t have the contrast, so my best guess is that 2 squares of paper were adhered back to back before folding.

This is the point where things got interesting. I now have 4 sweet, navy and white polka dot sailboats; what am I going to do with them? The number 4 ended up being the key to the end result–I thought about all of the things I would need 4 of something for, and one of the first things that came to mind was table settings. And the rest goes something like this:

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I put one of the sailboats on a plate to check for size, and what hit me wasn’t anything to do with the size of the sailboat, but the fact that I had some major work to do to dress up this plate. Talk about boring! This was a situation! I definitely liked the size of the sailboat in comparison to the inner portion of the plate, but I needed to add something that added color and height, so that the sailboat would have some presence and take center stage.

One of the other pictures I ran across before all of this crafting began was of the rosettes I made to decorate the outside of my hand pie envelopes several years ago:

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I had a “eureka” moment, and decided to make some rosettes for the sailboats to sit on. I’ve never made large rosettes before, but I decided there was no time like the present and dove right in. The width of the inner portion of my plate is 7″, so I started with 7″ squares of paper. I cut 3 squares for each rosette. I accordion folded, or fan folded, each square in 1″ increments and then folded each strip in half and taped it together:

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From there I taped all three sections together, and when you attach the last two parts together, you get a rosette:

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I topped each rosette with a starburst circle to cover up the middle, and now was the moment of truth–were these rosettes going to transform the plates from “why bother” to “wow”?

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Oh I think so, hand’s down! At this point I am kind of in shock! Decorating my table for the Fourth of July was the furthest thing from my mind 2 hours ago, and yet now I am staring at the sweetest; most charming table decorations ever! These decorations combine both the nautical and patriotic themes in a way that I never would have imagined, and I couldn’t wait to see what the table looked like with all four places set!

And so, that is the tale of how I went from a picture of a window display

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to a table display

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all in 2 hours on a rainy afternoon. I was so excited with the end result that I couldn’t wait to show you. I did add some tiny star table scatter, which I know is impractical, but it looks good. Sometimes impractical is worth it!

Thank you for taking the time to stop by, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

Pocket Cards & Baby Blocks

We have a new baby girl in my family, so I recently created some gifts to welcome this little one into the world. It’s been hard to be patient, but I wanted to wait until the gifts were received and opened before I showed you what I made.

The first gift is a set of 20 thank you cards, which is one of my favorite gifts to make and give to new parents. Thank you cards aren’t usually high on the couple’s priority list of items to purchase and have on hand prior to their baby’s birth, and once the new baby comes home and the baby gifts start to arrive, there isn’t the time nor the energy to run out and get some.

I started with a pocket card design with a flap.

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It’s important to use a strong, narrow adhesive when creating the pocket to maximize the size of the card insert. I used 1/8″ double sided tape, and place the tape as close to the edges as possible:

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I knew that I wanted a sweet, pink baby elephant to be the main image on the card, and my original thought was to stamp the elephant and some flowers on the flap of the card. By stamping all of the images, the card would remain flat and wouldn’t require extra postage and hand-cancelling at the post office.

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I was definitely on the right track, but this design was too basic for me. This card needed more personality and charm for my taste, so I went back to the drawing board and started over. I did want to show you, however, that with the addition of a twine bow and the card insert, I was able to salvage this simple design and turn it  into a cute new baby card:

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This card would be perfect for a beginning stamper to make. It really is a sweet card, and I could have stopped here and changed the sentiment and used this as my final design, but I wanted more.

I started by punching the elephant out of paper, rather than stamping it, and I adhered it to a die-cut circle. I kept the flowers on either side of the elephant, but added a scalloped border to the bottom edge of the flap. My last addition was to attach a “thank you” tag to the circle die-cut with baker’s twine. Not only did the tag add to the charm of the card, but it freed up the entire card insert for the handwritten note.

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Now this is more like it! What a transformation. How sweet is that pink, polka dot elephant! The elephant, combined with the scalloped border and the tag added the charm and personality I was looking for. Here’s a look at the finished card:

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I packaged the 20 cards and envelopes, along with 4 extra insert cards and the stamps for mailing in a box, and gift #1 was complete.

Gift #2 is a home decor piece for the nursery wall, using a shadow box.  I created a stack of paper baby blocks, and embellished them with a variety of punched/die-cut images. I incorporated the colors of the crib bedding in the design, which are navy, mustard yellow, and mint green, and brought in some pink in the background. This first picture was taken before I put it in the shadow box frame, and you can see the detail much more clearly:

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I die-cut the initial out of both navy and pink card stock, and offset them slightly to create the shadow effect.

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The shadow box frame is 9 x 9, and it caught my eye one day when I was shopping at Michaels. I just loved the distressed look and color of the wood.

I have one last picture for you before I close: we were having some work done upstairs while I was working on these gifts, so I needed to move my operation temporarily to the dining room table. This is a behind-the-scene look at how messy creativity can get!

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Take care, stay warm, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

Paper Plate Make-Over

Yesterday I found myself in need of packaging for Christmas cookies in a hurry, and all I had was a white paper plate. I wanted to quickly pass along how I transformed the plate, in case you might find yourself in a similar situation. I gathered a few supplies:

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and gave this paper plate a Christmas make-over. In less than 15 minutes I turned this plain plate

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into a charming plate fit for my Christmas cookies!

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I simply punched holes every 1 1/2 inches around the rim of the plate; wove the ribbon in and out of the holes; made a bow; tied a jingle bell onto the bow; added the holly leaves, and ended up with a sweet, festive cookie plate. Just make sure that you punch an even number of holes, so that the ribbon ends up on the back of the plate on the final hole. I started with about 45″ of ribbon and tied the two ribbon tails in a knot on the underside of the plate when I was done weaving. Trim the ends of the tails close so that they don’t show.

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I actually am so pleased with how this turned out that I think this will become my packaging for baked goods going forward. Necessity really is the mother of invention in this case! My mind is already thinking about different variations of this idea, but, that’s for next year…..

The official countdown before Christmas has begun. Good luck with your final preparations. I wish you all a very merry and magical Christmas, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars.”

-C-

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tradition In Non-Traditional Colors

Traditions. All families have them, and they help keep memories of the past alive. Traditions come in many forms, and start when something is done the same way, or at the same time from year to year; from generation to generation. They almost always provide a connection to a person or place, but can also provide a connection to a season or holiday.

One of the traditions that my children looked forward to at this time of year was receiving an advent calendar from my mother-in-law; one of the pre-printed cards with a piece of chocolate behind each door. It marked the beginning of the Christmas season for them, and it was an exciting way to count down the days until Christmas. The fact that they also got to eat a piece of chocolate for 24 straight days in a row didn’t hurt either! For my daughter, it held even more meaning, as not only did the calendar count down the days until Christmas;  it also counted down the days until her birthday. The first thing she would do when she received her calendar was to look for the door on her birthday.

Sadly, my mother-in-law passed away in September, and it didn’t occur to me until I read this blog post that my kids weren’t going to get an advent calendar from her going forward. I wasn’t about to let this tradition end, so I decided right then and there that I was going to make an advent calendar for both my son and daughter. Now, I can hear you saying that I could have just bought a pre-printed calendar for each of them, and you’re right, I could have. But making things is what I do, and can do, and, besides, the time and care I put in to these calendars will be a nice tribute to my Mother-in-law”s memory.

There are so many different and creative ways to make an advent calendar–from using a mini muffin tin to creating a banner. The sky is the limit, and it took quite a bit of time to research all of my options. I ended up circling back around to the calendar made in the above highlighted blog post, however–it really appealed to me. I loved the chalkboard frame, the take-out boxes arranged into a tree shape, the buffalo check pattern on the boxes, and the overall simple, rustic charm of the finished project. With a few modifications, I knew it would appeal to my kids as well.

Here’s where the non-traditional colors come in. The first modification I made was to  the color choices for the tree. Instead of a traditional brown and green tree, I decided to make my trees gray and cream. The second modification I made was using cardstock for the top box instead of using glittered paper. I would then use matching glittered paper for the stars scattered around the tree. I had three cardstock colors that had matching glittered paper, so I let my kids decide what color they wanted for their top box. Here is the picture I sent them, which shows the gray and cream tree plus the three color choices for the top box:

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Here is another view showing the buffalo check pattern on the boxes:

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My daughter wanted a red tree topper, and my son wanted a green one. With their choices made, I could now focus on how I was going to number the boxes and finish off the top of the frame.

The numbering and the design element at the top of the frame took the longest to create, and, in the end, I decided to continue the star theme by using stars cut out of vellum paper for the numbers and the decoration at the top of the frame.

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This is a picture of my daughter’s calendar laid out on the frame, and you can see that I cut the numbers out of gray cardstock and adhered them to a vellum star, which, in turn, got attached to the top flap of each box. I numbered my calendar from bottom to top because I wanted the colored cardstock box to be for December 24th. There is no right or wrong in paper crafting, so you could easily switch the numbering from top to bottom, if that is your preference. For the design at the top of the frame, I started with a larger star cut from vellum cardstock, and then I layered the word December and some glittered snowflakes on top of it.

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This is a close-up of the top of the frame.

It’s now time to glue everything down onto the chalkboard, but, before I do, I wanted to season the chalkboard to soften the color. To season the chalkboard, put your chalk on its side and drag it down the entire length of the chalk area from top to bottom as shown:

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When you’ve covered the entire chalk area, then just wipe down the area with a dry cloth.

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The chalkboard on the left is new, and the one on the right has been seasoned. It may be a subtle, but the seasoning softened the chalk area and I like how much better it looks.

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Since I only get one chance to glue everything onto the chalkboard, I took the time to mark the middle of the area with twine, and also made chalk marks where the top edge of the top box should be, as well as where the bottom edge of where the bottom box should be. I had my hot glue gun heating up while I was marking the frames.

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I figured out that if I adhered boxes 2, 3, 6, & 7 down first, the layout should remain straight and adding in the additional boxes should go fairly smoothly. I also adhered the vellum star on to the top of the frame before I removed the twine to ensure that it was in the middle.

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Drum roll please….here are the completed calendars, and they turned out even better than what I had pictured in my mind. The color scheme is fresh and modern, and by having used cream cardstock for the body of the tree, the top box and the stars really stand out. I couldn’t be happier, and I was excited to be able to give these to my kids over Thanksgiving.

Below are additional pictures I took of each calendar separately, and then a side view to see the buffalo check pattern again:

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My daughter’s calendar,

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and my son’s calendar.

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Another look at the buffalo check pattern on the boxes. Isn’t it awesome?!

And this completes my story of how I was able to continue a special family tradition for my kids using a non-traditional color scheme. I bought a variety of Christmas chocolate candy and filled each box with 2 pieces–heavy on the Reeses Peanut Butter Cups and the new hot chocolate kisses.

My story isn’t over yet, however, as it was during the filling of the boxes that I discovered a few design flaws. First of all, the tabs on the boxes are very fragile, and opening each box takes some finesse. So, I’m not convinced these boxes will hold up beyond this year. Second of all, I discovered that hot glue doesn’t work well on chalkboard, and so a lot of the boxes came off. I ended up using a fast-drying epoxy glue which did the trick. Live and learn, as they say!

Okay, now my story is done. I hope all of you are enjoying this Christmas season, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-

 

Embroidery Hoop Napkin Rings

We are hosting Easter dinner this year, and it has been many years since we have hosted the meal for this particular holiday. I spent some time over the weekend searching for table decoration ideas, as I will be starting from scratch. I am going to need napkin rings, place cards, centerpieces–the works!

During my search, I discovered this napkin ring from Pier 1, and the minute I saw it I knew I had found the inspiration for our napkin rings. It wasn’t the embellishment that caught my eye; it was the basic bunny shape wrapped in twine that intrigued me. The twine added so much texture and gave the napkin ring a nautical look, which I’m sure is why I was so attracted to it in the first place. I printed out the picture and turned my attention to my supplies, hoping that I would have something that would help me make the basic bunny shape.

As luck would have it, I discovered that I had just the thing to make the bunny shape– embroidery hoops. Stampin’ Up! released these mini embroidery hoops in their Occasions 2018 (Spring) catalog:

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They come in 2 sizes: 1 1/2″ and 1 3/4″, and the variation in size is exactly what I need for my bunny body. Timing really is everything, because without these hoops, I wouldn’t have had a chance to try and replicate the napkin rings! I had ordered some of these hoops when the catalog came out, so I spent the rest of the weekend coming up with my design. I’m really excited about how these napkin rings turned out, and I’m ready to show you what I came up with.

I chose a navy and white color combination, which will coordinate with our dishes. Yes, I know that this doesn’t fit the traditional pastel color scheme used for Easter, but the glorious thing about paper crafting is that it’s not bound by rules or limitations; it’s about letting your creative juices flow and enjoying every step of the process.

Here is a look at all of the supplies I used:

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The hoops have a dark stain on them, and I was concerned that the stain might show through the loops of twine. Luckily that wasn’t the case, as needing to spray paint the hoops would certainly slow down production considerably. The hoops and twine create the basic bunny body; the rest of the supplies are used to create the embellishments.

Start by wrapping both of the embroidery hoops with the twine. I found that it took about 55″ of twine for the large hoop, and 45″ of twine for the smaller hoop. I left a tail at the beginning and the end and tied it behind the closure in a knot. I hot glued the knot before trimming off the ends.

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Once both hoops are wrapped in twine, I glued both closure ends to a white button that was a little wider than the closures. While the glue is drying, it’s a good time to start working on the embellishments.

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Cut two 2 1/2″ pieces of a white pipe cleaner for the ears. Fold each piece into ear shapes and glue one end over the other. Cut a 2 x 2 piece of patterned paper–I am using a pattern from Stampin’ Up’s new Tutti Frutti Designer Series Paper. The polka dots are oval shaped and they remind me of eggs. Score the paper every 1/4″ and fan fold starting and ending with a mountain fold. Make into a bow tie by placing a glue dot in each of the 3 valley folds on top as close to the middle as possible. Turn the paper over and put glue dots in the 2 valley folds and then squeeze the paper in the middle. Fan out the ends and it should look something like this:

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Finish up the embellishments by punching a 7/8″ scalloped circle with the solid color card stock. Make a bow with the gingham ribbon. And now comes the fun part; let’s turn these hoops into a bunny!

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Glue the ears on and attach the scalloped circle over the hoop closures with glue dots. Attach a white pom pom in the middle of the bow tie and the bow. Attach either the bow tie or bow onto the scalloped circle, and your bunny is complete.

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Allow me to introduce you to The Cottontails! I dressed them in their Easter finest, and they are almost ready to help me set my table for Easter dinner! All that is left to do is to create the rings and these bunnies will be ready to hop on over to my table.

I cut two 7″ pieces of the navy saddle stitch ribbon and attached glue dots to each end. Using the ribbon for the ring minimizes the chance that my cloth napkins will get snagged by the roughness of the inside of the ring. I then attached the bunny to the ribbon with velcro dots. I chose to use velcro dots instead of hot glue to allow for some extra stretch and movement of the ribbon.

And now for the moment we’ve all be waiting for– let’s see how the napkin rings look on the table:

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These napkin rings add so much charm and personality to the table, and I just can’t help but smile every time I look at them. The white pom poms add a touch of bunny fluff, and they really amp up the cuteness factor for sure! These napkin rings turned out better than I imagined and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for dropping in today and for enduring such a long post! I’m really proud of these napkin rings and I couldn’t wait to show them to you! Take care, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out number the stars”.

-C-

 

 

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Pumpkin of Twine

I have been enjoying changing the color palette of some of the fall decorations I made several years ago to reflect the coastal theme of this house. I have kept the traditional fall colors for the outside decorations:

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but wanted more grays and blue-greens for the inside decorations. I have been able to buy some pumpkins and floral sprays in blues and greens, but I wanted to add in some of my own decorations as well. One of the best parts about handmade decorations is that you can make them in any color you want, and today, I am going to do just that!

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I saw twine pumpkins similar to this on Pinterest several years ago, and I knew I had to make one. This pumpkin is right up my alley with it’s rustic, vintage charm. I have several areas that would be perfect for this pumpkin, but it needs to be updated before it can be put on display. Let’s go up to my studio and I’ll show you my process, so that you can make one too.

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Besides the ball of twine, you will need some stuffing material, patterned paper for the leaves, ribbon, buttons, and something for the stem. I am going to be using a wooden spool, but you could also use a wine cork, twigs or cinnamon sticks.

I started by filling in the hole with my stuffing, and laying out and attaching the buttons to the dark gray ribbon with glue dots.

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I attached the ribbon to the twine with straight pins. I loved the lace band I used on my original pumpkin, but this house isn’t a doily and lace kind of house. The satin, dark gray ribbon is more fitting for this house, and the cream buttons help tone down the strong color and bring in the vintage charm I like.

The next stamp is to die cut the leaves from the patterned paper I chose. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I adhered the leaves together with glue dots and attached them to the ball of twine with straight pins. The pumpkin just wasn’t full enough with the three leaves, so I added in a couple of copper foil leaves I had left over from another project. What a difference that made!

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I am pretty sure that on my own I wouldn’t have chosen to mix copper with gray, but I’m so glad I took a chance and added the foil leaves in because they add some much needed bling and pizazz.

While I was pleased with the addition of the copper leaves, I wasn’t happy with the gray patterned paper I had chosen. It certainly fit in with the other two patterns in that there was a white pattern on a colored background, but it just wasn’t dark and rustic enough for my liking. Back to my paper stash! I ended up finding a wood-textured pattern in gray and die-cut another leaf from that to try.

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That did the trick for me. The other gray paper was too feminine and just didn’t command enough presence and have enough weight to it. This paper is much better. Creating anything handmade is all about trial and error, and it’s worth the time it takes to try different options to ensure you’re happy with the end result.

The only thing missing is the stem. I tied a bow around the wooden spool with the gray gingham ribbon, attached a button to the bow with a glue dot, and hot glued the spool to the stuffing in the center. I also added a small tag to bring in a little more charm, and my pumpkin is now updated and ready to report to duty.

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Here are the two pumpkins side by side, and the comparison really highlights how I have grown and expanded as a crafter.

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There was a time that the old pumpkin would have been enough for me, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the updated version. I am so happy with the way this turned out–the colors work well together and the additional leaves just take the whole project up a notch. The cream buttons and gray gingham ribbon add some much needed softness and vintage charm that I love. Isn’t it amazing how some leaf die-cuts, patterned paper, ribbon, and buttons can transform a ball of twine into a rustic but charming pumpkin!

Let me show you the two spots I was thinking about putting this pumpkin, and you can help me decide where it looks better.

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The first option is on this table at the bottom of the stairs, or

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on top of the dishes in the pantry. I’m open to suggestions, so leave me a comment with your thoughts.

Well, we did it my friends–a job well done! Thank you for keeping me company this afternoon as I have missed our time together. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend, and, as always, remember:

“May the waves kiss your feet; the sand be your seat; and your friends out-number the stars”.

-C-