Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christmas in March: Book Page Ornaments

Whew!  Getting my Christmas in March post in just under the wire!

Last month, for Christmas in February, I made book ornaments, and this month's project is a bit similar.  I love using old book pages from cast-off tomes headed for the scrap heap to create something useful and new.  Text is one of the most graphically-interesting designs in my opinion, so the tutorial on Darling Petunia for book page ornaments caught my eye.
The blogger at Darling Petunia (I think her name is Susan, so that's what I'm going to call her!) does a great job troubleshooting the project, showing exactly how not to do it, before presenting the best procedure for good results.  So, while I will show you how I made the ornaments in my own crafting space, I highly recommend that you visit the original post if you plan to make them for yourself!

In my Christmas crafting stash, I found these little gift tag shapes, which I used as stencils for my ornaments.
The first step is to stack up four pages of text and trace the shapes on the top page with a pencil.  I used a French edition of Don Quijote and an English edition of The Scarlet Letter.
Then I drew a line along the middle to use as a guide for my sewing machine stitching.  It is best to make sure that your center line will run straight along a line of text. 
Susan emphasizes the importance of keeping your stitches inside the pencil lines you have drawn, since you will be cutting out the shapes, and do not want to cut your threads.
After you cut out the shapes you drew with pencil lines, you trim your threads on one end but use the threads on the other end to make a loop for hanging.
The final step is fanning out the paper from the four layers of book pages so that you have a nice, dimensional text page ornament for the Christmas tree!
It doesn't take too long to end up with quite a stack of ornaments.  Unfortunately, I don't have a nice place to display them--like on a Christmas tree--out of season, but they will store very flat and compactly until December comes.
Merry Christmas! 

Er...I mean, Happy Easter!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Tea Box Books

Remember the Raisin Books?

Well, raisin boxes aren't the only thing in my stash of upcyclable packaging!
My next duct tape notebook project involved making little purse-sized notebook out of Sleepytime tea boxes.  And, boy, do I go through a lot of Sleepytime tea! 
I used a different style of decorative tape on each book to hide the plain green electrical tape I used to attach the fronts of two tea boxes together.  Many of the tapes came from the new selection provided by my step-sister Amanda, straight from Japan.
I used regular graph paper for the insides of these notebooks, and I think this is SUCH a practical-sized page for actual sketching and note-taking on-the-go.
It also makes a sweet size for early morning inspiration notes over a cup of coffee (or, perhaps more appropriately, tea!) from your favorite mug!
I am such a fan of these little books!


I have been captive in my own home for the past week because my children have both been sick, one with a sinus infection and one with an ear infection.  I am so grateful that we have a doctor we can visit, and medication that they can take, so that they are back to their playful selves this morning after just a single dose!  If I'm lucky, I might even make it out of the house this weekend! 

Best wishes for a blessed Easter weekend.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tangled Eggs

Over the past week, I've been exercising my Zentangle skills by doodling tangle designs into egg shapes in preparation for Easter.
I ended up with eight eggs, which I glued to Easter-colored cardstock and cut out.
Then I adhered them to a length of ribbon to create a banner for display on our family room mantle.
DIY Easter decor!
The gluing was a pretty marginal part of the process, but I'm still linking up with Aimee's Glue It Tuesday, because I don't want to miss out on the fun! 

Here are some up-close peeks at the tangle designs:
Happy Easter tangling!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day that ushers us into Holy Week, culminating in Easter next Sunday. 
At church, the Sunday school children walked around the sanctuary, waving palm branches and singing, "Hosanna," and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."  These are the same words sung for Jesus as he entered Jersusalem on the back of a colt so many years ago.  This was his so-called Triumphal Entry.  His followers thought he was coming to town to be crowned their king, the one who would save them from generations of oppressive foreign rule.  In reality, he was going there to his death on a cross, a fate that would lead him to a much greater Kingship:  King of Heaven, saving not just the current generation of Hebrew people from Roman rule, but saving ALL of us in all generations for eternal life.
It's worth stopping to think about for a moment!

My younger daughter couldn't come to church for Palm Sunday because she's had a fever since Friday evening.  But we were able to commemorate the event at home, creating our own handmade palm branches from backyard sticks and hands outlined onto green construction paper.  We are following some of the clever and meaningful ideas presented by Jessica of Our Family for His Glory for helping the girls understand that Easter is about far more than bunnies, chicks, and candy-filled eggs.
Bayla and Katy with their Daddy and homemade palm branches
I sketched some palm fronds in my sketchbook, trying out all the different ways they might look. 
I added some watercolor paint and pencils, as well as passages from the Biblical accounts of Palm Sunday. 
A journal page can be a meditative way to consider the true meaning of a holy day. 
It may not result in a finished work of art, but still represents a creative rendering of one's spirituality and belief. 
Before Lent began, I read a suggestion that we should all read one of the Gospels--Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John--to remind ourselves of the full life, teachings, miracles, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  I am reading the Gospel of Luke during Holy Week this year, and encourage you to choose to read one of the accounts of the Good News of Jesus Christ, as well!
Spring Break snow--crazy!!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Now We're Cooking!

Coming together is a beginning;
keeping together is progress;
working together is success.
--Henry Ford

I feel creative when I cook.  Because I follow recipes very closely and seldom "wing it" along the way, people might not think that my cooking is a particularly creative pursuit.  But looking at the process as a whole, I feel very creative, from making the choices of what to cook, to selecting the food at the store, to putting together and serving the meal. 
It's a good thing I wore an apron to cook that morning!
On Saturday morning, a group of volunteers gathered in the kitchen at my church to cook over 50 meals for the Deacons to deliver to members who might be sick or grieving or home with a new baby--whatever might make it difficult for them to prepare their own hot, homecooked meal.
Chief Creative Cooking Genius, Theresa
The chief Creative Genius in this group was our leader, Theresa, who orchestrated the whole affair.  In three hours, she directed 12 people to turn $250 dollars worth of food into 9 different recipes separated into at least 50 different storage containers to be frozen for future delivery.  She runs an impressive operation!
Betty and Leigh on burrito duty
We made chowder and chili and chicken tetrazzini and burritos and pot pies and quiches and some things that I didn't even know about because I wasn't involved with those particular dishes.  We had choppers and bakers and stirrers and pork pullers and chicken saute-ers and dish washers and counter wipers and pie crust rollers and mixers and burrito folders. 
Dianne and Don, one of two husband-and-wife teams 
None of us created the recipes or grew the food or attended to fancy presentation.  And yet it was the most wonderful creative process to be part of that bustling kitchen with eleven other people who love to cook, or be part of church ministry, or hang out with friends, or whatever else might have been their personal motivation for being there. 
Can you believe Lexie just had a baby two months ago?  And she chose to hang out with us making Chicken Divan when she managed to have a baby-free day!
I was kind of wishing we could all take one of the dishes home with us; there wasn't a single meal that I wouldn't have been happy to share with my family!  
Chris is trying to hide her face from the camera as she works on pot pies, but I caught her smile!
I thought that spending three hours in the church kitchen would drain me of all desire to cook at home for awhile.  But on the contrary, I came right home and planned a few menus for my family this week, then headed to the store for a little grocery shopping.  It was a pleasure!
The fruits of our labor--a freezer loaded with meals to share with our community!

Friday, March 22, 2013


I took advantage of the girls being in preschool all morning on Wednesday to spend time with "my rubber stamp friend, Sue."  That's how I often refer to her because we have attended many rubber stamp shows/expos together over the years.
Here is Sue with just some of her rubber stamp collection, stored under a bed in her work space.
I should probably more accurately call her "my card making friend, Sue," as she has raised card making to a high art form, constantly learning new tools and techniques and sharing her knowledge and expertise teaching card-making classes.

I thought I would share a technique we tried together, and then let you see photos of her studio space.  After all, who doesn't love photos of an artist's studio space?!
I don't know exactly what you would call this first technique that we tried, but here is what we did:  We covered a piece of cardstock with glue, and then wrapped a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the cardstock.  Then we ran it through Sue's Big Shot with an embossing folder to create an impression on the foil.  Next, we rubbed black shoe polish over the embossing, allowing it to pick up and highlight parts of the design.
Next we ran it through the machine again with a die that cut our foil into pretty shapes that we could use for card-making.
Here (above) is Sue's finished piece, and mine is below.
I'm not sure how I'll be using mine, but I can't wait to see how Sue incorporates hers into an artistic card!

Now for a peek at Sue's enviably large and well-stocked work space:
A huge portion of her finished basement holds her card-making supplies.  There is a larger table where we did our playing (above) and where Sue can use her die cutting machine, as well as a smaller desk area (below), with lots of drawers for many of her supplies.
 She has stacks and stacks of colored paper for her cards:
And she has loads of rubber stamp images to incorporate into her designs:
Don't forget she has all those stamps hidden away under her bed and in her drawers, too!
She has boxes filled with die cutting and embossing folders for her Big Shot:
I spent an hour and a half at her house Wednesday morning, and it felt more like fifteen minutes!  We are definitely going to schedule a follow-up to continue exploring some new tools and techniques.  She always has her eye on something new to try, and I'm always game to participate!
Work or play?  You be the judge!

How will you spend some time in creative play this weekend?