Take Note

I just completed a project for the daughter of family friends, who is pregnant and due at the end of this month. She and her husband recently announced that their unborn baby, a boy, will most likely need open heart surgery soon after birth. They will need to travel hundreds of miles to a Children’s Hospital, where she will deliver and their baby will receive the specialized care he needs.

I felt such an instant connection to their situation, not only because their story tugged at my heart strings, but also because I have been on both sides of part of the experience ahead of them. Not only was I an NICU nurse for 10 years, but our son was born 5 1/2 weeks early and required some special care in the beginning. I felt like having been on both sides of this life event gave me a unique perspective and opportunity to do/make something for this couple that might make a difference in the coming weeks. But what? It was actually in thinking back on my experiences that I was able to draw some inspiration, and I came up with the idea of a notebook. I know that their sweet baby’s care team is going to be giving them lots of information and updates, and it’s going to be important for them to have a place to keep track of all the changes. I wasn’t prepared when our son was born, and, looking back, I would have benefited from a notebook. As it was, I was documenting his information on the back of hospital menus, card envelopes, etc.

In thinking further about the notebook, I decided that a composition notebook would be the perfect choice. It has plenty of pages without being too bulky, and it’s the perfect size for putting in a bag or keeping out by the phone. Even more perfect is the fact that I had several composition notebooks in my supply closet, so out one came, and off to work I went to “dress” this book up for a very important job.

And this notebook was going to need lots of help dressing for success!! It’s about as far from sweet and charming as it could be! So I pulled out lots of papers and supplies, and here is the design concept I came up with:

a baby blue and yellow color scheme with lots of white scalloped accents, mama and baby elephants, sweet bitty dot yellow ribbon, and tiny navy hearts. This project is already taking on so much charm, and all I’ve done is gather everything in one place! I love putting all of the design elements together at the beginning of a project, and I know that if I get excited about how everything looks as is, that I’m going to love the finished product. I have a good feeling about this project, as this grouping just makes me smile!

I have altered/covered several other composition notebooks, but that was several years ago. I keep a file folder for certain projects, and my notes on covering a notebook said to cover the inside front and back covers first, before tackling the outside covers. It made trimming the inside covers easier. So, that’s what I did–I covered the inside covers first; followed by the outside covers. I used the solid baby blue paper on all 4 covers, and then used the yellow plaid paper for the spine of the book. Once that was done, the real fun began adding on all of the decorative elements!

Enough talking; let’s get to the pictures! I’ll start with the before and after of the front cover:

This is quite a transformation, isn’t it! I kept the decorative elements to a minimum, as I wanted the elephants to be the main focus. The elephants are so sweet, and having their trunks joined together with the tiny heart above helps to communicate that special bond between a mother and her baby. I also kept all of the decorations towards the bottom of the book to allow for someone to hold the book more in the middle.

Let’s continue the tour with the inside front cover, as this is probably my favorite page:

I made two little journal cards for the baby’s name and all of his birth information that the parents can fill in. I kept the color scheme the same, and used a combination of stamps, die cuts, and computer-generated words. I love the sentiment “born to be loved”, and I bought that stamp set specifically for that sentiment. It’s perfect for this project, and I was so excited to be able to use it!

Next we move on to the inside back cover. I made a pocket, which I thought might come in handy. I changed the position of the white scalloped border from extending beyond the edge of the yellow paper to on top of the paper. This way it won’t interfere with putting things in the pocket. I originally was going to use the word “stuff” on the pocket, but after seeing this project come to life, this book deserved something classier. So I changed the word to ETC., which I liked better–plus it gave me an opportunity to use a heart for the period. It will always and forever be about the little details for me!

Lastly, the back cover, which I kept very basic, as this is the part of the book that will be laying on flat surfaces. This cover might be basic, but it’s not plain, thanks to the white scalloped border.

There are a few additional accessories that I will be sending along with the notebook. I covered a binder clip with paper and added some ribbon to one of the clips. It will be helpful in marking the page and keeping the book closed. The silver clip is a pen clip. It could be clipped to the top or the side of the front cover. I also made one additional journal card to document when the baby arrives home–I envisioned the card going on the back cover, but didn’t want to put anything there yet. So, I have added double-sided tape to the back, and the parents can remove the protective film and place it where they want it.

This concludes the tour of the notebook, but…….I have one more thing to show you:

Since I had all of the supplies out, I decided to make some notecards as well. I wanted them to be very versatile, so they are sentiment free and blank inside. I plan to include the stamps with the cards, as well.

I have loved working on this project–it is so satisfying to create something that you know is meaningful and will make a difference for the recipients. It is for this exact reason that I continue paper crafting.

Thank you for letting me share this project with you, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

Hearts and Envelopes

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I want to show you how to make a small gift bag that would be perfect for packaging Valentine’s treats. The best part about this bag is that it starts with a common household product. It’s called a bag-a-lope, and, while it’s not a fancy name, it’s certainly very descriptive of the end result. A bag-a-lope is simply a bag made out of an envelope. I learned how to make one at my very first stamping class, and I recently came across the printed instructions I received at that class. It’s relatively simple to make; it doesn’t require a lot of supplies; and it’s a good idea to have in your back pocket should you have an unexpected need for a small gift bag!

Let me walk you through the basic construction first, and then I will show you the bag-a-lopes I made for Valentine’s Day this year.

You can make a bag-a-lope from any envelope. Most of us have both standard and legal sized envelopes around, and I am going to show you the basic construction using a legal sized envelope. You can use a standard envelope, but it ends up being a tall, narrow bag, so it isn’t as versatile. When you use a legal sized envelope, you actually cut it in half, giving you two bags that are the perfect size for small gifts.

The first thing you want to do is seal your envelope at the top, end to end.

Now cut the envelope in half. Each half will measure basically 4″ x 4 3/4″. The next step is the most important one:

With the open end at the top, fold in or score the two long sides and the bottom at the same measurement. For most bag-a-lopes, the fold measurement is 1/2″ or 3/4″. There is no set measurement–it really depends on the size of your envelope and how large an opening you need or want for your bag. If you use a larger mailing envelope, you might end up folding each side in an inch or more. The important thing to remember is to have all three fold measurements consistent. In this example, I have scored all three sides in at 1/2″. Make sure that you press each fold line both towards the font and towards the back of the bag to really set those lines.

Once you have your fold lines made, you can decorate your bag between the side and bottom folds, which is indicated by the cardstock. If you are going to cover the entire space between the fold lines with paper, then use the side with the seam in it. If you are going to stamp, or just use a small tag or embellishment on the front, then use the side without the seam.

Once you have decorated your bag, it’s now time to start to open it up. Start at the top of one of the long sides, and gently begin to open up the envelope as you work your way down to the bottom. Once you get close to the bottom, you will begin to see a triangle form. Gently push up from the bottom of the bag while you finish opening up the side to help with the triangle formation. Do the same for the other long side of the envelope.

When both sides of the envelope are open, your bag should look like this. Stand the bag up flat, and give those triangles a good press. Then put adhesive on the underside of the point of the triangle, and adhere the triangles to the bottom of the bag. I like to use glue dots for my adhesive.

And that’s it! From one legal sized envelope, you just made two small gift bags that each measure 3 1/8″ x 4 3/4″, and are 1″ wide. These bags are the perfect size for small gifts or treats. You can finish the bag any way you like–I’ve shown you two different options in the picture above. You could add a ribbon handle by punching holes on either side of the bag, and tying knots in the ribbon on the inside of the bag. This would allow you to deliver a treat to someone’s house by hanging the bag on the front door handle. The other option is to tie up the treats in a separate bag, add a tag, and place the treat bag inside of the bag-a-lope. The sky is the limit, and the wonderful things is that these bag-a-lopes are very versatile and adaptable to a variety of needs.

Now that you have a general idea of what a bag-a-lope is and how to make one, I want to show you a set of Valentine bag-a-lopes I made this week. I love to give my kids something homemade and handmade on the holidays; especially Valentine’s Day. We are meeting both of our kids tomorrow for separate, Covid-approved visits, and I wanted to bring them a little something special that they can put at the table on Valentine’s Day.

I bought this Valentines kit from Stampin’ Up! last month that includes notecards in 2 designs; layering cards in both the landscape and portrait orientations; and gold foil lined envelopes in 2 different patterns. The more I looked at this kit, the more I decided that I wouldn’t use it as it was designed. So I decided to “de-construct” the kit and use the contents to decorate some bag-a-lopes that were more my style. I’ve never done anything like this before, so I was a little timid at first cutting all of these cards up. Once I had my first bag done, however, I just let my creative juices flow, and the ideas came faster than I could create them! I used a standard A2 card envelope for my bags, as I wanted them to be solid white inside. The envelope measures 4 3/8″ x 5 3/4″. I cut 3/4″ off one side for the opening, and scored the other three sides at 3/4″. Here’s what I came up with:

I told you that I de-constructed the kit! I used every element in the kit in some way, and, along with other Valentine stamp sets, punches, and dies that I had, I was able to come up with six different bag designs that have the personality and charm that I love. Not even the envelopes were spared. It’s a lot to take in looking at all of them together, so here are some pictures of smaller groupings for you:

I had a wonderful time making and decorating these bag-a-lopes, and I can’t wait to give them to our kids! I am hoping that they will put these on their tables, so that they have a little treat to go along with their Valentine’s Day dinner. I will do the same for my husband and I. Here’s a picture of the bags all filled, along with a picture of how one of the bags will look on our table:

That’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed today’s treat packaging idea, and that you’ll give making a bag-a-lope a try. Stay safe and healthy, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-

Hello Autumn!

Happy First Day of Fall! As if on cue, I noticed this morning that some of the leaves in my yard have already started to change colors.

I’m somewhat surprised to see such vibrant colors–we have had a very dry summer and I wasn’t sure we’d see much color change at all. Seeing these trees come alive in my own yard gives me hope that we will have a colorful Fall season in spite of the drought, which would certainly boost my spirits. There is nothing like Fall in New England!

Just as the season is changing outside, it is also changing in my craft room. I spent part of this past weekend getting out all of my Fall stamp sets and supplies, and it was like old home week. I have lots of favorite sets, and the more I saw, the more excited and impatient I got to start designing new Fall projects! I made my first project yesterday–a card–and I thought I would share it with you.

I chose to work with a very bold and different for me color palette:

I have seen this color combination more and more recently on all sorts of home decor items, and I think it’s really striking. I love adding in some blue with my fall projects, but I have never thought of adding in turquoise, so this will be fun to try.

This series of pictures will show you how this card came together:

Hello Autumn indeed! The card base ended up being the most important element on this card, as it provides the contrast and subtle interest to allow the pumpkins and lettering to stand out. I was able to balance the bold colors with some softness and charm by bringing in the scalloped edge of the vanilla panel, and adding the sweet, little “hello” tag. The tag is my favorite part of this card–I love adding little tags to my projects!

I plan to spend the rest of today decorating the house for Fall, and this card will be a great addition to one of our displays. Thanks for stopping by, and, as always, remember:

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

-C-