Friday, November 14, 2014

Everyone Deserves a Little Sussie...

Growing up my dad would occasionally give me or my sister a "sussie"- as he called the little unexpected surprise gifts he occasional would give.  This type of gift was usually just from my dad himself which made it that much more special.  Like most dads of that era, he took a hands-off approach to gift-giving for his children instead he let my mom chose the majority of our gifts.
Last month two of my friend were down in the dumps.  One is struggling to find her place at college.  She just can't seem to connect to other students and find that group of friends that make college seem a little smaller and a lot more manageable.  The perfect time to send a little sussie.

The other is someone I met on Tumblr...or "stalked down is on Tumblr" is probably a more accurate description of how we met but it is safe to say we are now real friends.  Unfortunately, she has had some MAJOR crap to deal with recently and is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.  Another perfect time for a sussie.

I spent a few days shopping at a different stores, picking up little things here and there and I forced my daughter's artistically-talented boyfriend to make an incredibly cool cup (below).  I could have just boxed everything up and sent them on their way... but what fun would that be?  Instead, I did some very simple embellishing and with a little time, a few sheets of paper, and some ribbon scraps I had two gifts that cost little but looked expensive and full of love.

I started with these Whisker Graphics kraft with polka-dots bags (available http://www.amazon.com/Whisker-Graphics-Stripes-Honeycomb-Chevron/dp/B00JXZQVN8).  I filled them with some of everyone's favorite candies-Kisses, M&M's, Recess etc.  Then I simply added strips of decorative paper, a few die cuts, a little ribbon and Voila. Such simple additions to a kraft bag- even one without the fun polka-dots- make a darling presentation that feels really special but is something anyone can do.
The paper pad that I used contained a sheet of journaling tags and ephemera.  I simply either cut them out-if the sides were straight (like the ticket)- or used a punch that best fit the circles.  Then it just takes a second to grab 2 or 3 and staple them in a little cluster.  Add a piece of velvet ric-rak glued on using tiny dots of hot glue.  The bags were all stapled shut using a Tiny Attacher but if you don't have one you can also use a regular stapler. .  
Pi
The two thin strips of paper embellishing the top of this bag were cut using Alterations Off the Edge Scallop and Pinking.  They were stapled using a Tiny Attacher and I added a pink seam-binding bow.  My favorite embellishment? The feathers.  I cut two feathers using Alterations Writing Desk and embellished the tops using a mixture of Martha Stewart White Gold glitter and Sterling Silver glitter. Feather are big right now so there are lots of options-Jenni Bowlin sells the paper feathers already to add to your design, many companies are offering feather dies, you can get a single SVG image and cut them using your Cricut or Silhouette.  Finally, you can easily hand cut them either a hand drawing or an image you find online.  
To mix things up a bit I added some Washi tape to the top and bottom of this bag.  Then I used a large circle punch to cut the large circle from a pretty area of my decorative cardstock. By putting the circle punch on the paper upside-down you can move it around until you find the perfect spot to cut.  Since everything looks better with a little sparkle I added self-adhesive rhinestones to the center of the flowers.  The paper running across the top of the bag is actually the off cut of the pennant Sizzlet Ribbon Flag.  I used a similar piece of off-cut waste on the bag below along the bottom...so look at  your scraps, you might find pieces that are still very usable.  The tiny tags were cut using Alterations Tiny Tabs and Tags and stamped using some small word stamps.
For the final bag design I used Alterations Ribbon Flags that were simply grouped and stapled in place. I added a larger tag cut using Tiny Tabs and Tags that I labeled with black letter stickers and a blue seam binding bow. The top was adorned with a single row of iridescent sequin ribbon (I honestly don't know what this is called....what do we call sequins on a string?). I added a label to this bag as it was the only bag that contained candies that didn't have wrappers and since they weren't regular M&M's I thought a heads up was a good idea. 

The candies were split between the 2 boxes, so I made two everything.  I used cellophane bags to hold several candies and I made two of each of these as well.

Then I gave each a bar of handmade soap. I am ADDICTED to handmade cold process soap and will probably share a few of the incredible soapers I have found recently. While the soaps came in their own boxes, I wanted to add another layer of protection so the other items in the box didn't end up smelling-and testing-like soap.  To the front of the soap bags I add a simple price ribbon I made using Tim's Rosette Sizzlet, a die-cut flower from a Martha Stewart punch and two of the ribbon flags from Tim's die as the ribbon tails.
While the candies were divided between the boxes but everything else was personalized to the individuals.  To the college student I tried to remember things that I used to keep my sanity among the stress of college.  Things like weed, whisky, and wine.  No...I am just kidding.  I went to the University of Michigan people...there was no time for fun....I studied all the time.  No, I am not kidding.  

Pay attention and get serious now....ok? ok.  So one thing I remember doing to pamper myself-on a college student's budget- was to always use a special cup to drink tea or coffee.  

Starbucks Create-Your-Own
2013 Mug 
I found this cup at Starbucks ($14.95). You can see the black band along the bottom;  most of the area under the green cardboard label is plain white.  The cup comes with a double-ended black and white marker allowing you to draw your own permanent design on the cup.  I will post more about the cup as well as the finished item in a separate post. 

Old Fashioned Potpourri Warmer
Another thing I remember using to pamper myself while I was studying was to burn potpourri...remember how I just told you that about all I did in college was study?  I had a little ceramic potpourri warmer that was similar to this one I found on Ebay.  The potpourri goes in the top dish along with water. A tea candle placed in the base heats the water to a simmer which releases the fragrance into the room.  My favorite potpourri was a Christmas blend from Crabtree and Evelyn called Noel.  I remembered barely having any extra cash but splurging on what at that time seemed like a lot of money for a small bag of the potpourri.  This was my go-to fragrance all year I loved it so much.  You can still buy the fragrance and I recommend you give it a whiff if you ever have the chance because it is divine.  Like all good things potpourri has passed its heyday meaning Noel, is no longer available as that chunky mix of dried flower petals, tiny pinecones and whole spices I loved so much.  However, it is available as Fragrance Oil ($9), Fragrance Spray ($19), a gorgeous Porcelain Diffuser ($45) or candles available in several sizes ($12-45)

Crabtree and Eveyln Noel Porcelain Diffuser
Today the warmers are mostly electric and the scent comes from wax melts- really an improvement all around.
A lot of things I included in the boxes didn't get wrapped- I am just not that ambitious and honestly it isn't necessary.  The packaging should be a fun touch... not overkill and I was shipping these boxes.  I fit a lot of stuff in a small space and that would have been more difficult if everything was wrapped and it also would mean a lot of the embellishments would get smashed in the transit.  But, keep in mind that my sussies were for grown women, if your gift is for a child or even a teen you might want to wrap everything just to give them the excitement of opening the gifts.  I would stick to the kraft paper theme- it's cheap and easy to purchase at any store that sells mailing supplies- Target, Walmart.  Add seam binding bows and more of the paper embellishments like I used above and you have beautifully wrapped gifts.

Besides the warmer and wax melts, some of the other unwrapped items that went to college included tea, pumpkin spice chai tea bags, and nail polish.  The second box contained items to spoil my friend as well and for her to share with her husband and almost 3-year-old son. I sent her several bottles of Factor X Sephora Nail Polishes, several boxes of Starbucks and other flavored coffees for her Keurig, flavored creamers, lotion,  Halloween plates napkins, orange and black polka-dot paper straws, some Halloween lights and decorations. Her box was so full I had to leave one set of lights out.  I know I am forgetting something.....

So that is it.
I meant for this post to be half as long but I always talk too much.

Danee
Glitter is my favorite color......

This post was linked to the following Linky Parties
Pink When
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm BAAAAAAaaaack and a Tag

I'm back.  If you have been around you know that I haven't felt great for, well a long time.  Let's all cross our finger and hope things are improving....at least a little bit.   Please...
So, I took a break... at first I left because I needed a blog break, I didn't feel good and it was stressful worrying about what to post.   But then my studio became the problem....I am talking EPIC problem...or mess...epic mess.....Epic Epic-mess...I mean so epically messy that I couldn't craft.  I couldn't even get in to the room to be honest.  You may remember when I won the "Messiest Room Contest" sponsored by My Life and Kids.
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Yes, this is my dining room right before Christmas. I am not proud of it, but I have accepted that I am a slob at times when I am busy trying to be creative and I won a free vacuum for it.  I guess my studio was jealous or something but it looked like this....
I would have won hands down with this mess.  I was motivated to clean it because my mother-in-law as coming to visit and needed to be able to get to the bedroom and bathroom that share the bedroom with my studio.  Sadly, I tend to let things get really bad until impending visitors motivate-or scare- me into cleaning.  In all seriousness I would have cleaned it up much earlier simply because I wanted to work in the studio but I never felt well enough to tackle such an overwhelming project.  I am grateful I forced myself to get it organized and it now is much more functional than it had been.  I realized that  part of the problem was that I had too many things I was storing on the floor simply because I didn't have enough storage space so I bought a bunch more Recollections pieces from Michael's and got things organized.  

So my studio is clean and organized and finally I can do some crafting.  Oh, right...Maizey.  Big problem.  She is cute but she 27 pounds of TROUBLE and cuteness...but mostly trouble.  She eats 
8 Weeks; first day home
9 Months 
everything from sticks to plastic and she LOVES getting to be in my studio.  Since the door usually closed and she is rarely let down there,  any opportunity she sees to get down those stairs she takes.  IT is funny to watch how fast her little butt goes to get down the stairs and around the corner in to the studio space.  You can tell she is so proud of herself when she manages to get down there. But instead of lying by my feet and enjoying the alone time with me she spends her time searching for things to eat.  Paper macho is a favorite but Washi tape is also good...as is tape, stickers, pencils are a particular favorite either upstairs or down.  I spent all my time chasing after her...until I get annoyed enough and through her back upstairs.  The morale of the story is I can't craft when I am in charge of watching her. She cannot be let alone anywhere in the house because she will find something to eat or ruin.  I won't even go into what all she has ruined.

My point...yes I do have one! My point is that finding time to craft is hard and finding hte energy is even harder.  But I am determined and I will create this holiday season.  I will....No really...I WILL.


To celebrate my Re-blogging I give you my version of Tim Holtz's 12 Tags of 2014: October Edition.
Tim recently released his new Distress Sprays and I am in love.  They are incredible.  The finish they leave on ribbon is super yummy.  It looks like hand-dyed silk ribbon.  I have no idea why the finish is different from the Distress Stain as I assume the formula must be similar but it is different.  The sprays leave an almost iridescent finish on seam binding. 

My October tag was first given some texture with Golden Texture Medium.  Tim used Ranger's Texture Medium- of course- but I don't any.  First I tried to use Wendy Vecchi's Embossing Paste, which looked incredible before I added the sprays, but they don't take color like the Golden product-instead they maintain their original color more.  I did get decent color after I worked at it-and gave it 4 coats- but since the Distress Spray color was a major component of the tag, I decided to use the Golden product. 

I don't have the stamps that Tim used so I used one of my favorite Halloween stamp sets from the defunct House of 3 and Pink Paislee. 
The skull was colored with another new FAVORITE, the Wink of Stella clear marker. I mean, come on,  the name itself is just so much fun to say.  Wink of Stella, Wink of Stella, Wink of Stella...what does that even mean?  It means SHIMMER.  Not really, but that is what it does.  It adds so much shimmer.  I also tried the gold, silver and a few pastel shades but the clear is by far the most versatile and the prettiest.  It is so easy to brush it over anything paper to add beautiful shimmer and the brush allows precision placement.   I used it over not only the skull but also on the little "31" and the letters themselves on the Alpha Tiles.
BEWARE...l am about to get real...or at least technical.  If you are reading this blog only because you are my husband or my sister and don't give two sheets about stamping or Tim Holtz (gasp) or the only kinds of stamps you know anything about are the ones issued by the US Post Office, then you might want to skip ahead. 

You can see Tim's tag below for reference.  Tim stamped the spider directly to the naked tag and then used his Mask Sheet material to protect the stamped spider from the Texture Paste.  I followed this technique on the first set of tags that I made-really I did- but those were sadly abandoned when I couldn't save them.  

The problem started because I don't have the stamp set Tim used.  Not a big deal really...except I had a hard time finding stamps that filled the space in the same way...you know, made the design of the two tags similar enough to call it "inspired by" and also to fill the space correctly.  I needed a large element to replace the pumpkin and something that had a string, like Tim's crawling spider, that would serve  to connect the top of the tag to whatever element I used.  Here is where it became difficult because I don't have a spider that is large enough to work.  What element to use to replace the spider?  As soon as I saw the elements on the House of 3/Pink Paislee Phantom collection I knew I was on to something.  House of 3 was a short-lived partnership between Heidi Swapp, Rhonna Farrer,and Janet Hopkins and while  it may have been short lived, it was filled with so much creativity and incredible design.  The design aesthetic they created together looked nothing like what they each do individually...it was PURE magic.  I loved House of 3....I miss House of 3... I mourn House of 3....I digress.  Ok, whatever...move on Danee.  

Phantom includes several images with cords- a chandelier, a bird cage, and even what appear to be  cameos-on-a-string... cuz, you know everyone has a cameo hanging....from a string....in their house.  (FYI this set is still available and I found it is...here).
Phantom by House of 3 and Pink Paislee
I chose the skull element to replace the pumpkin and the chandelier and the bird cage to replace the spider. The bird cage seemed to be a good fit in size and scale but the problem then became the size of the chandelier. It is pretty small so I stamped it several times, playing around with different combinations.  I needed the design to look similiar to Tim's but also to use good design principals.  I couldn't just stamp something with a string in the general area if the proportion was way off.  
 
Tag by Tim Holtz TimHoltz.com
I thought things were going pretty darn well until I had all of the elements in place on the 2 tags that made it this far (I always start with about 4 tags so that I can choose the best one or if something doesn't work out right I don't have to start from the beginning I can just grab one of the other 4 tags).  You see, both the bird cage and the chandelier were too small.  The chandelier was in fact chandelierS as I had stamped it 3 time across the tag knowing that it was just not big enough alone.  First I tried to just ignore it all together and continue on with my project...but eventually I couldn't stand it.  My second attempt to fix the situation was to abort the use of the previously stamped images all together by covering them up with one of the chandeliers from the Sizzix set, Chairs (see below).  I grabbed some black cardstock, my dies and I set about cutting several of each chandelier and stamping them up.  I played around trying to cover over the original stamped images, but my die-cut chandeliers just didn't cover them completely not matter what way I turned them ;D.  It drove me BATTY ;D ;D.  

So I cried "UNCLEEEEEE"...I started over.  I had ruined all 4 tags so I started from the beginning.    Good plan, except I completely forgot that the ACTUAL technique was to use the Mask Sheet so that the texture SURROUNDED-but didn't cover- the stamped image. The texture paste wasn't supposed to cover the entire tag with the stamped image cut out and adhered OVERTOP of the texture.  Oops.  Yes, I realize it isn't a great big deal but the thing is that I challenge myself to make a tag that uses all the same techniques and has the same basic design elements as Tim's tag.  I don't see the point of designing a tag that in no way resembles Tim's or one that is made using completely different techniques.  I find it very rewarding when I have to use different supplies and yet I can pull off a tag that is indeed inspired by Tim's monthly tag. 
Chairs by Sizzix:  The set comes with stamps and matching dies
What I learned this month? That I LLOOOOOVVVVEEEE Tim's new sprays.  I cannot wait to have fun playing with the Distress Stains,, Paints, Sprays and Inks all together on one tag...Whoa. Mind. Blown.  I also love adding texture using stencils and texture paste...I mean come on,  everyone is doing it.  It really adds so much texture and interest and the sky is the limit as texture can be added to the entire tag or just a small portion.  So many creative options open up.

I hope I am back for good.  I have several projects completed already and I still have projects that from Ginger's wedding that haven't been on the blog.  My next post will probably be a fun gift box of "sussies" I sent to my friends who were having a rough go.  My late father would occasionally give us unexpected little gifts that life our spirits and he called them "sussies".  I sent my friend's inexpensive little gifts but I packaged them in charming little bags with lots of embellishments.  Here's a sneak peak....
Be well...
Danee
Glitter is My Favorite Color. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Paper Flowers and Other Wedding Table Decor

Ginger's wedding was virtually flowerless.  The bride had purchased really fun feather boutonnieres from an Etsy shop and had a brooch bridal bouquet made locally.  That leaves only the bridesmaids' bouquets in the "real" flowers category.  Since I had a small budget to work, and no flowers to repurpose, I decided to make paper flowers-and a few special projects- to decorate the tables.

If you read this blog you know that I adore everything "Tim Holtz" and this wedding could easily be dubbed "A Tim Holtz Wedding".  I mean this isn't Tim Holtz's wedding or anything but I did use a lot of his projects to pull off a charming reception space.  I started with Tim's newish Bigz XL Jumbo Tattered Florals and Bigz Garden Greens.  Using these two dies and a variety of papers I was able to make several different varieties of flowers.  The paper flowers filled the mason jars beautifully and added the shabby chic flavor that Ginger wanted.
Here you can see the pretty large flower I made using peach tissue paper left over from making the poms.
Each vase was decorated with a seam binding bow and several tags as well as some of Tim's baubles, and a golden letter "R" to honor the bride's new last name.  I used the shabby chic tag layered under a chalkboard-look tag because the invitations were chalkboard inspired.

The second item to make up the tablescape was this sweet embellished book.  Super charming, super cheap and super easy.  I ripped the covers off of cheap (think Goodwill) books. It doesn't matter if the book is actually old-or what the topic is- once the cover is ripped off it looks terrific.  I take that back- Ginger brought me a German Sudoku book that I just couldn't make work!

To begin, I ripped off the cover and enough pages until I was left with a page that I wanted to show on top.  Then I simply wrapped the book like a package with seam binding and tied a bow.  The leaves were cut using the Garden Greens die from paper by We R Memory Keepers.  I LOVE the two-tone paper that let me mix and match colors simply by which side of the paper is facing up.  The leaves are only slipped under the seam binding.  In other words, I didn't use any sort of adhesive.  The perfect ending is the addition of a vintage (or vintage-looking) bauble.  I used anything I had on hand for this- earrings, buttons, broaches, etc.
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I used seam binding in several colors-dark grey, peach, pale green/blue and off white- to match the wedding colors.
The pretty little lanterns were made using Tim's Bigz XL Luminary die.  I cut the lanterns using a beautiful heavy cream-colored cardstock. The windows are lined with simple vellum before the luminary was glued together.  Each sweet lantern was adorned with a spray of leaves made using Tim's Sizzlet Spring Greenery.  The leaf is similar to the one from Garden Greens but it is significantly smaller.  The final touch is a sweet little flower made using the smallest petal on the Jumbo Tattered Florals die.
Each lantern was embellished with either white or brown/black pearls along the roof. 
Clearly using a real candle in a paper lantern is a super duper bad idea. Thankfully, electric tea lights work perfectly for this.

 I cut the word "Adore" using my Cricut, SCAL2, and a digital file I purchased from Kerri Brandford.  The words were simply laid on the table for an unexpected ode to Love and Marriage.
 Adding a different "love" or "wedding" themed word to each table would be a really fun detail.
Or cut the word(s) from glitter paper for sparkly elegance.
Next I will show each of the paper flowers that make up this gorgeous bouquet.