And the winner is...

comment #7 -- Gwen from Gwenny Penny is the proud new owner of these guitar pick earrings:

Gwen, I just need your mailing address, please. :)

And, remember, if you're bummed that you didn't win... you can always make your own! Check out my tutorial here (guest posted over at twelve crafts till christmas). If that's not your style, I might even consider making some for you... if you ask really really nicely...

If you don't have a music store nearby, Amazon has a large variety of picks at good prices. You can even order the same pearlesque picks (slightly thicker) here on Amazon, and free shipping makes them less expensive than buying them here at my local store.... and since it looks like all picks from the GO-DPS store ship free I may have just found a new online shopping obsession...

Happy weekending and happy Halloween!

Halloween Paper Lanterns {free printable}

These paper lanterns, inspired by these at Moments of Mommyhood, are the perfect last-minute decoration, party favor, or kids craft. I put these four together this morning in about half an hour. In the spirit of treats not tricks, I've even put together a free printable of the faces for you. :)

What you need
  • paper or cardstock -- white, black, green, and orange
  • markers to draw your own faces or these free printable faces
  • scissors
  • glue, tape, stapler
What you'll do
1. After you've printed or drawn the faces, fold the paper in half horizontally (hot dog style).
2. Cut the paper in strips, starting at the fold and stopping just before the edge of the paper.
3. Unfold the paper.
4. Create a tube by matching the short edges of the paper and staple (or otherwise connect) the ends.

Now you can attach a paper handle or other embellishments and enjoy!

For Mr. Jack:
Cut a brown paper handle, a couple of green leaves, and a couple thing green strips of paper. Curl the green strips of paper using your fingers (like curling ribbon) to make the vine tendrils. Attach the handle to the lantern and the leaves and tendrils to the handle.

For Frankenstein:
Hair: Cut a strip of black paper that is zig-zaggy along one edge and straight along the other. (The strip needs to be as long as your paper is wide.) Glue to the green paper after printing/drawing the face, but before folding and cutting the paper.

Bolts: Cut two 1x2 inch strip of paper and roll them into tubes. Glue each tube closed and then glue them on opposite sides of Frankie's neck.

For Batty:
Wings: Print and cut the wing template (page 4 of the printable). Trace the wings on black paper and cut them out. Attach them to the back of a plain black bat body.

Eyes: Attach googly eyes (or paper eyes if your googly eyes are too small like mine were).

For Casper:
To make Casper most ghostly, cut the strips all the way to the bottom of the page (only the bottom) after unfolding the paper. Attach a handle and hang him in an appropriately spooky place... like the laundry room. :)

Happy (and safe) Haunting!

I"ll be haunting at these great parties:

Dear Santa...

my list is online for your shopping convenience.

Want to put your list for Santa online? Or have a convenient online list to remember the awesome things you'd love to buy once you get your paycheck? That's today's yesterday's topic over at Housewife Eclectic. Come see two fast, easy, and of-course free online wishlists!

Note: Hehe, my day was so crazy yesterday I forgot to publish this... I've been busy making Halloween costumes and other fun things... Happy Thursday!

It's my birthday... I'll give away what I want to!

like these pearlesque beauties:

Now, they're not actually pearl. "Premium celluloid" according to the package. Guitar pick earrings, just like the rock and roll earrings I shared over at twelve crafts till christmas this weekend, without the washer. These picks are so gorgeous all by themselves, with the shimmery gold writing.

Earrings are my favorite thing in the universe... okay, maybe not THE favorite, but they definitely make the top 5. So I made myself a pair special for today, because we all know we want to look fantastic on our birthdays. And I made an extra for one of y'all... because it's just as much fun to give as to receive. :)

Love 'em? Want 'em? Enter to win 'em by leaving me a comment on this post.

One extra entry for spreading the word (via Facebook, Twitter, or your blog) or grabbing my button (over there to the right -->).

Giveaway closes Friday, Oct. 29 at 12 noon MDT. Winner chosen randomly and announced... sometime after that... :)

And, you can still hop over to twelve crafts and enter to win one of three pairs of my rock and roll earrings, too.

Rock and Roll Earrings {tutorial and giveaway}

Have you noticed these little lovelies up in the header image? Yup, they've been up there for several months now... so it's about time that I share how to actually make them!

I'm sharing the tutorial today over at one of my favorite blogs, twelve crafts till christmas, and this morning I'm also teaching a group of women from church how to make them. It's a rock and roll earring fest! So click on over to twelve crafts for Stuff Your Stocking Saturday to learn how to make them, and enter to win one of these three pairs:

At the post office...

Yup, I've been AWOL for a few days. Nope, I'm not apologizing (remember, I don't do that sort of thing while blogging) -- just letting you know that my absence hasn't been because of anything terrible or life-changing. Just a trip to the post office. Oh, and a long weekend for The Mr which meant some quality time with the men in my life:
A trip to the pumpkin patch (yes, that's a smile)
one Mr. MacGyver
and Walter, my vacuum.
(Mr. Clean may or may not have made a guest appearance and been
kicked out for looking shady.)

I've been slaving away on some tutorials for y'all, so those should appear here and there soon-ish. (I'm working on being non-committal... how do you think I'm doing? ;) I'm fighting the perpetual battle between the things I want to do (blog, craft, sleep) and the things I need to and should do (clean, play with my kid, sleep), and, on another front, the battle between crafting and blogging about crafting. Battles on two fronts are time consuming. :)

Oh, but I am over at Housewife Eclectic today talking about the post office, inspired by my recent trip. The internet can even help with mailing packages. I love me my internet.{contented sigh}

Happy Wednesday!

**edit -- the paragraph above makes it sound like I don't like playing with my kid... I do. Most definitely I do -- I just need to play with him more. He's a cutie -- I just asked him if I could see his teeth (he has *four* coming in right now to add to his current two) and he opened his mouth and said "ah." Love my kid. :)

Quilled (curled paper) Monograms

I mentioned these monograms on Monday, and, yup, I'm addicted. I've made another already and started TWO more. Plus failed at a couple. In this case, the cost of addiction is failure :)

If you want a quilled monogram of your own, they are surprisingly easy. This version of quilling requires much more patience and time than actual skill, and practice seems to be helping too. :)

I and the Crafty McCrafters group were inspired by this beauty by Kara at Craftastical, and she has a great tutorial and tips, so check her out. I give my two cents and tips below. If you'd like some additional inspiration, check out Yulia Brodskaya's work, either here in her portfolio or by doing a Google image search.

Others of the Crafty McCrafters did freehand quilled monograms -- instead of filling in an outline, they used the curls and curves to create the letter. I haven't been brave enough to try that yet, but I'm planning on making one like this soon for a friend (Heather, what do you think?):
image source
You can see a whole alphabet of freehand quilled letters here -- scroll down and click Quilled Paper Alphabet under Quilling and Paper Craft Downloads.

Regardless of which style you go for, you'll need the same supplies. These are what we used:
  • Cardstock or double-sided scrapbook paper
  • Paper cutter and scissors
  • ModPodge
  • Tweezers
  • Paintbrush
  • Paper plate
  • Rounded tools of various diameters -- needles, toothpicks, skewers, pens, etc
Since Kara gives a great tutorial, I won't go step-by-step, but I will give you some information and tips I discovered (along with some fun and only occasionally relevant photos...):

Printing an outline: I have been doing filled-in monograms because I like having an outline. It's easier for me to fill something in than create something from scratch. :) Print your monogram outline in the center of your paper in a very light gray. Some fonts have curves that are difficult to make with paper, and if your outline is barely visible, you won't feel as bad for going off the outline. :)

Cutting paper strips: Traditional quilling strips are 1/8 inch, but our group found that was a little too thin for us. I prefer 3/16 inch and even 1/4 inch works well.  Just be sure that all of your strips are the same width -- you can see here that some of mine were thicker (and it bothers me -- look at how much taller the yellow curl is than the green outline!):

Gluing: Kara says she brushed a thin layer of ModPodge on the bottom of her curled strips, but we found it was easier to spread a thin layer of ModPodge on a paper plate and then dip the very edge of the curled strip in the ModPodge. And try to use the glue sparingly -- smudges will show a little bit and too much ModPodge can make your base cardstock or your curled strips warp from the moisture, so that your base and your letter have a gap between them. True quillers don't actually glue their curls to a base, only to each other... Yeah, I'm not that dedicated, either. :)

Tweezing: Nope, not your brows -- your curls! The curls are so thin and often need to be placed with such precision that even the smallest and nimblest fingers feel clumsy. You'll want your tweezers, especially for those tiny little curls that looks so cute all grouped together. Promise. If you're worried about getting glue on your tweezers, just pick up a cheap pair at the $1 store.

Curling tools: Kara just curled her paper with her fingers, but I prefer using tools. Various diameters give you different sized curls: needle, toothpick, bamboo skewer, pen, glue stick. For tighter curls, wrap the paper tighter and for looser curls, looser. I also loosened some of my curls and stretched them out a bit by gently running the tool that I curled them between the the layers of curls to gradually expand the diameter of the curl.

It also helped me to give the whole paper strip a little curve by running my fingers down it -- think of curling ribbon -- before I started the hard-core curling.  If you need a tighter curve, use one of your tools to create it.

Do your best to have your paper curved exactly how you want it so that it fits the shape naturally, before you glue it. This is especially important when you are crossing the outline or another strip of paper and want your curve to look continuous even though you'll have two (or more)separate pieces of it. If you have a continuous curve to begin with and then just cut it, it's easier to have it look more natural. Having to reposition the paper when it's glued or forcing it somewhere else takes away from the natural curled look and can make it look too angular or just "wrong." Plus, the glue dries quickly so it's easiest if the curl will kind of fall into place instead of having to manually position every last bit before the glue dries. :)

Different shapes: This chart from was invaluable as we were thinking of different ways to curl the paper. I chose to stick with mostly traditional curls and scrolls, but others in the group were creating beautiful floral-type arrangements with lovely marquis and teardrop shapes. The bravest I got was this cute little heart:

And these layered curls, made by curling two pieces of paper around the same tool:

So... you should try this. I will warn you though... you might possibly become addicted. Luckily, it's an inexpensive craft. :)

PDF it up

Wednesday means I'm over at Housewife Eclectic for Wednesdays on the Web. Today I'm showing you how to create a PDF using PrimoPDF, a free pdf creator, and how to share pdfs with your readers using either Google Documents or PDFs are the web standard for sharing documents, so if you need to learn, come on over!

Weekend Crafts: felt and paper creations

I had an awesome crafting weekend. Which now must be followed by an awesome Monday of cleaning and catching up on non-crafting things, so today you just get a short teaser.

On Friday, I finished this awesome felt game board for my niece's 8th birthday (inspired by Elizabeth's fabric tic tac toe game board at twelve crafts till christmas):

It's double-sided, with tic tac toe on one side and checkers on the other. Buttons hold the game pieces to the board, and each side has two pockets for the game pieces. When  you're done playing, just roll the board up and away you go! Off to wonderful 8-year-old adventures.

And then Saturday was my monthly craft day with the Crafty McCrafters. It's really just my two SILs and two friends, but we've given ourselves an awesome name, right? I love craft day because I get to craft with other people. Sometimes I say things and they laugh, and not because I was pulling a funny face (like I do to make my 1-year-old laugh). *sigh* It's nice to have friends. :)

Last month we chalk-colored embroidery (I will share that... eventually) and this month we made these awesome quilled (curled paper) letters (following and inspired by Kara's tutorial at Craftastical):

I loved them so much that I've already made another one and have one more in the works:

If all goes as planned this week (but when does *that* ever happen?), I'll share tutorials for both of these, plus a couple other little crafts that I've yet to post. First though... the housework... wish me luck!

Happy Monday!

Paper Bag Brag Book: The Sequel(s)

I love variety and personalization, so of course my versions of the paper bag brag book are all just slightly varied. And there are so many different ways to personalize and change-up these little books -- I can't even imagine what all the more creative people in the world could come up with! I have about four different ideas swirling around in my head right now, but here are the details about some of the most common and successful variations I've tried:

If you have no idea what I'm talking about... you should definitely go check out the tutorial for the basic model of the book.  :)

If you need more than 10 pages, just add more paper bags. I've bound up to 9 paper bags together (for a total of 34 pages), with no adjustment other than to lessen the needle tension a bit on my sewing machine. You'll want to be sure to alternate the folded bag end (the bottom of the bag) to even out the bulk, and then instead of pages 5-6 being the center spread with one continuous piece of paper, whatever pages end up on the middle bag will be the center spread (not that you couldn't have figured that out on your own...).

If you'd like to add photo sleeves to allow for changeable photos like a traditional photo album, cut pieces of plastic sheet protector to 5x4.5 inch rectangles. Sew one of these rectangles to each of your 5x5 squares (along the sides only, since you'll stitch the bottom later) to make a clear photo pocket before gluing and sewing the paper squares into the book. Be sure that the plastic piece is lined up with the bottom of the paper so that you'll close the bottom when you sew your paper squares to the paper bag and leave the top open to slide pictures in to.

Inmy first attempt a changeable photo album, I used double-sided tape to hold the plastic sheet in place. It didn't work that well: the tape gummed up my sewing machine, and you can easily see the tape and the dust it collects. My second attempt was more successful: I hand-stitched an X in each of the bottom corners to hold the plastic sheet in place and then sewed along the left and right edges, from the X up to the edge of the plastic, before gluing the papers in the book and sewing the papers in.

If you'd like to have a wrap-around closure tie, just use a single piece of ribbon or twill tape that is at least 20 inches long. Instead of securing the tie when you are attaching the book cover, you'll secure it when you bind the book.

If you'd like a fabric cover (embellished or not), you'll  need a piece of fabric at least 2 inches larger in length and width than your paper bag -- about 7"x13" or larger. If you're embellishing, embroider/applique/add your fanciness on the right half of the fabric, keeping your design at least 1.5" from the edge of the fabric (unless you'd like your design to fold over the edge).

To attach your fabric cover, lay your fabric face-down on your ironing board. Place your paper bag on top of it. Gently fold the excess fabric around the edges of the paper bag and press it (no steam). Tuck the corners in like you would when your wrap a gift. Then lay your paper squares for your first and last pages on top of the folded-in edges. Tuck one end of either of your ties in between the fabric and the paper. Carefully stitch around all the edges of the paper bag to secure your fabric cover to your bag, your first and last pages, and your ties.  

If you have Wonder-Under (double-sided interfacing) around... use it here. I made my fabric cover before I had discovered the magic of Wonder-Under and I nearly drove myself insane trying to keep the fabric in place as I sewed it to the book.

If you'd like to add pull-out tabs to include more pictures, journaling, or whatever else, you can print my template here. You may need to trim the top or bottom of the template to fit your book since your sewn lines might be different than mine or your paper bags a slightly different size.

You can also scrap together tabs by using a 4.5" square of cardstock (trimmed as needed to fit in your book pockets) with a tab attached. Make a paper tab by folding a 2"x1.5" piece of paper in half (hot dog style) and attaching it to the cardstock square. Or create a tab 1-3 pieces of ribbon, 2-3 inches long, folded in half and either stapled or tied to the cardstock square, like Katie does for her mini book/card.

Each pull-out tab will slide in the pocket created by the open end of your paper bag pages. Only one end of the bag is open (duh!) so...

If you want to have more pockets for pull-out tabs, carefully cut off the bottom of the bag (a rectangle) before assembling the book. Begin by trimming the two long edges (so you can slide your hand through like in the photo) and then the two short edges. At this point, your bag will look like the bottom of the three pictures to the right. To finish your alterations, just fold the former bottom flap back out straight (to the right in the image), so that the paper bag is just a flattened tube of paper, and trim any excess paper. Then stack, fold, and assemble your book.

Also, please note that the paper bags aren't acid free. As long as you have your acid-free scrapbook paper between the bag and your photo, your photos will be protected, though. The only photos that will be at risk from the acidic paper of the bags are the photos on your tabbed pull-outs in the pockets -- and even then, they'll be safe for at least 5 years. Just be sure you're not putting a one-of-a-kind heirloom print in there. 

Picasa to the rescue... again

Original image edited to add Picasa logo
As promised, I'm at Housewife Eclectic today unleashing the powers of Picasa... again. If you've had trouble uploading or inserting images in your Blogger posts lately, you'll want to come on over because it's a bird, it's a plane, it's Picasa! Today I'm explaining how the new image uploader works, giving instructions for using Picasa to upload images, and taking requests for other Blogger issues you'd like me to look into. Love to see you there!

Paper Bag Brag Book

I am not a scrapbooker. I could show you my twelve-year-old attempts at being a scrapbooker... but that just reminds me of how many pictures I mutilated unnecessarily. So just trust me on this: Lorene = not scrapbooker.

However, I love these little brag-sized scrapbooks:

These little books appeal to my papercrafting desires without inflaming my craft fatigue syndrome (which causes me to bail on a long-term craft halfway through because I am boooored). And the best part? You can put one together in around 30 minutes, making these brag books perfect for last-minute gifts. Not that I nor any of you have ever put together a gift mere hours before a party. Never.

As much as I'd love to take original credit for this wonderful idea, I cannot for that would be dishonest. I did not come up with this idea myself. I learned from a college neighbor who presumably originated the idea, but since then I have lost contact with her and even forgotten her name (sorry!). I've also seen a similar idea posted a couple other places -- see my note at the bottom of the tutorial -- so this is just my version of doing something that I learned from someone else that I want to share with y'all. 

Time spent: 30 minutes (triple that time if you're teaching a group of teenage girls ;)
Money spent: approximately $2 for each book
Yield: One 10-page, 5-inch square brag book

For ideas and instructions about variations on this basic book, including adding more pages, making photo sleeves, and including pull-out inserts, see Paper Bag Brag Book: The Sequel(s).

What you'll need
  • 3 paper lunch bags (brown, white, or otherwise)
  • 8 - 5 inch squares of scrapbook paper
    • These will be for pages 1-4 and 7-10, so you should have four pairs of coordinating or matching squares.
  • 2 - 5 inch by 12 inch rectangles of scrapbook paper
    • One of these will be for the cover, and one will be for pages 5-6 (the center spread).
  • 2 - 6 to 10 inch pieces of ribbon or twill tape (for the ties)
  • glue stick
  • scissors (not pictured)
  • sewing machine (not pictured)
If you have a paper that has a fun embellishment, such as the velvety flowers on the book shown above, or you want to stitch or embellish your cover like the book to the left, remember that your embellished goodness needs to be at the right (not left) end of the 5x12 paper to show on the front cover. Any of your own embellishing that pierces the paper (stitching, brads, staples, etc) must be completed before you assemble your book.
What you'll do
1. Arrange your three paper bags out in front of you like in the picture above. Alternating the bulkier folded end helps the book to be more balanced. For the purposes of this tutorial, since I can't stand next to you, we'll lay the bags out in this arrangement several times, and I'll refer to the bags like this:
  • A - (the bag closest to you) - becomes center spread (pages 5 and 6) and pages 4 and 7
  • B - (the middle bag) - becomes pages 2, 3, 8, 9
  • C - (the bag farthest from you) - becomes cover, pages 1, 10
2. Then stack the three bags on top of each other, putting bag A on top of bag B and those two on top of bag C. 3. Fold the stack of bags in half horizontally (hamburger style) and crease well.
4. Lay the book in front of you with the fold to the left (like a normal book) and label the pages: front cover, pages 1 through 10, back cover.

 5. Open to page 1 and glue one of the 5" paper squares in the center of the page, and then glue a coordinating/matching paper square on page 2.
  • The glue is only to hold the paper until you secure it permanently by sewing it, so don't use too much glue and then be sure that your glue is dry before you start sewing (step 12). Too much glue or glue that is still gluey can gum up your sewing machine -- blech.
6. Keeping the book in order and together, glue a pair of coordinating/matching paper squares on pages 3 and 4.
7. Skip pages 5 and 6 (the center spread) for now.
8. Glue a pair of coordinating/matching papers on pages 7 and 8 and then pages 9 and 10.
9. Open your book flat to pages 5 and 6 (the center spread) and arrange your paper bags again like you had them in step 1: A closest to you, then B, and C farthest from you.
  • Make note of which papers are located where, so that you can remember to place them back in that same arrangement.
 10. Glue one of your 5x12 paper rectangles across pages 5 and 6 (the center spread and the blank side of bag A). The paper will will hang over the edge(s), so...
11. Trim the edges of the paper to be flush with the edges of the bag.

 12. Sew along the long edges only of bag A, using about a 1/4 inch seam, and return the bag back to its spot in the arrangement.
  • Be sure that your seam catches the paper on both sides of the paper bag as you sew. 
13. Sew along both long edges of bag B next, and place it back in your arrangement on the table.
14. Turn over bag C so that you can see the blank side, labeled front cover and back cover.
15. Glue the remaining 5x12 paper rectangle on the front and back cover and trim it like you did for page 5 and 6.
16. Sew along the long edges only of bag C.

 17. Tuck one of the pieces of ribbon between the paper and the end of bag C about 1/2 an inch.
18. Sew along that short edge of bag C, making sure that your seam holds the ribbon securely.

 19. At the other end of bag C, tuck the other piece of ribbon inside the paper bag (since this end is the open end of the bag) about 1/2 an inch.
20. Fold bag C in half (where you're previously folded) and line up the second ribbon with the first so that your ties will match up.  
21. Sew along that short edge of bag C and return it to its place in the arrangement on the table.

 22. Stack the bags back in order: A on top of B, and then those on top of C.
23. Fold the book in half again, crease well, and then open flat again.

 24. Holding the bags very securely, sew carefully along the crease that you just made to bind the book pages together.
  • Because machine stitched paper looks much smoother on the top side, I always sew with the cover up, since you'll see that binding seam more than any other seam. 

 Voila! You are now a book binder and publisher! To add your photos, keepsakes, recipes, or whatever else, use glue dots or photo corners. Just be sure not to use anything that will poke through to the other side of the page, such as staples or brads.

OR you can give the blank book (with some glue dots or other supplies) as a gift and let the recipient fill it with their own photos/mementos.
Wondering about some of the other variations pictured above? [Update: Get the details here.] I'll share those, which include a fabric cover and album-like plastic pockets, with you on Thursday. (Tomorrow I'm over at Housewife Eclectic showing you the magic of Picasa -- it'll solve all your Blogger photo upload troubles!) But this post has been in draft form too long already.

In fact, when I first started this tutorial over a week ago, I had never seen anything exactly like it online or anywhere. However, since then, not one but two different blogs have posted similar books. What are the odds?!?

Answer: the odds are quite good. There are so many creative people out there that the odds of me being the only person who had ever seen this idea AND who decided to share it with blogland... THOSE are the odds that are sooo small. (The timing of the other posts does serve to teach a lesson about leaving posts as drafts for long periods of time, though. ;)

So, I'm not original. Not in the least. I know you're shocked (not!) but I've come to terms with it and am more than willing to share and share alike. What good is creativity if it's not shared and improved upon? I once had a college professor who was always telling us that our best friend in the professional world is Sharon Steele (share 'n steal) because everyone knows her and everyone puts her to work on every project.

I do believe that Sharon Steele and everyone else who works on a project should be given credit though -- my mother did her best to teach me manners and I guess it's finally stuck. ;) In addition to those who inspire and otherwise contribute to a project, I believe that the blogosphere should be a place to promote others' good ideas too, even if sometimes others are so clever that you wish you thought of it first or could take credit for it!

So, if you'd like to see a couple variations on the same type of book, The Dating Divas embellish their book to beyond adorable, Creativity Prompt employs a cardboard cover and ribbon binding, and Katie's Nesting Spot shares a fold-out book that doubles as a greeting card.
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