Coasters & Drink Charms

DSC_0007.jpg

 

I am feeling so accomplished today! I haven’t had a chance to do anything crafty in awhile, but a wedding shower this weekend forced me to get two complete projects done. 

I’m one of those people who can never stick to a wish list or a registry. My favorite part of gifts is the anticipation before opening them, so I just can’t imagine having every gift you open be something you essentially picked out yourself. As a result, I tend to use those registries as a starting point. I usually try to find something unique that the registrant didn’t think of but which still goes along with their theme; this time I chose to get a set of tumblers from the list and make some accessories to match. 

The first part of the gift is to go with the stemware. Everyone who entertains should have at least one set of drink charms, to make it easier to identify the glasses. I designed this set around the theme “The Key To My Heart” since it’s for a wedding. 

DSC_0009.jpg

Judging from the full registry, my friend Sarah has contemporary taste, so I didn’t want the charms to look too “antique” – a challenge when looking at key charms! I combined the keys with some asymmetrical heart charms and added some sparkle to each one to keep them looking modern. The top of each charm includes a small and a large Swarovski crystal in similar colors (a 6mm and a 4mm, as my stock allowed) with a clear-crystal silver spacer between them. The rainbow order will look nice in a gift box, and the varying colors will make it easy to distinguish drinks at a party. 

DSC 0015

The second part of the gift makes a little more sense with the tumblers I chose off the registry – coasters! This is an idea inspired by Pinterest. The original idea was to cut 4″x4″ squares of scrapbook paper and use Mod Podge to adhere it to a 4″x4″ tile from the hardware store. I stuck to the general concept – four white tiles and four black tiles, Mod Podge and clear spray paint were purchased. But what to do about decorating the tiles? Well, scrapbook paper is cute, but for something truly elegant, it’s time to whip out the Silhouette. 

DSC 0006

That’s right! Instead of going to my trusty Cricut and digging through the cartridges for an appropriate swirl, I tried out the Silhouette Cameo we bought my mom for her birthday. 

The paper I picked out was a thick, sturdy glitter cardstock. For those who haven’t used a Silhouette before, it plugs into a computer and is controlled completely through the Silhouette Studio software. This is awesome, because you can put multiple shapes on one page and cut them all out at the same time, or you can utilize those tiny scraps you have left over because you know exactly where the machine will cut. The software also tells you what blade settings to use for the paper you are using… to an extent. 

When I first started using my Cricut, I had good days, where everything cut out perfectly and it was magical; and bad days, when I would destroy entire sheets of paper because the blade was shredding shapes instead of cutting them. I have since discovered an amazing app (Cricut Cutting Guide for iPhone) that gives you the correct settings for each brand and type of paper you work with. Suddenly, I adored my Cricut, because it always worked. Amazing!

I have not reached that epiphany with the Silhouette yet. 

Here’s what I did discover: for my rather thick, uncooperative glitter paper from The Paper Company, the Silhouette recommended a blade setting of 3. This perforated the front of the paper, but didn’t even indent the back. After some experimentation, I finally got a perfect cut with a blade setting of 8, on double-cut. Lesson learned? Don’t be afraid of those big numbers on the Silhouette!

DSC_0019.jpg

It was well worth the frustration, because the damask shape I cut out of black glitter paper was gorgeous. Seriously, I’m going to make myself a set of coasters and they’re all going to look like that one. 

Not all of the shapes I used for this set were cut from the Silhouette. Actually, most of them came out of an old K&Company set of pre-cut embellishments. The only thing to watch out for with coasters is dimension (you don’t want a glass to tip over on a shape!), so you could really do this with paper, thin stickers, or potentially even rub-ons. 

The process to follow is to “glue” the shape to the tile with Mod Podge, then use an additional coat of Mod Podge to make sure the edges of the shape don’t curl up or make any strange bumps beneath the glass. In some cases, such as with intricate shapes or glitter papers that tend to shed, you may want to coat the entire shape with Mod Podge. A glossy Mod Podge will dry clear and shiny, you just want to make sure there aren’t any obvious ridges or streaks  before it dries. 

DSC 0020

Once the Mod Podge dries, spray the clear spray paint over the tile and let it dry to seal the paper from any liquid that may drip off your glasses. Easy, and beautiful! I’m super excited to give these to Sarah and her fiancé this weekend. 

DSC_0017.jpg

Mountain Bike Birthday Card

Is there anything more challenging than a masculine paper project? Not because it’s hard to find masculine prints and embellishments, but because you have to restrain your urge to glitter everything in your path… or maybe that’s just  me.

This is a project my mom put together for my cousin’s birthday. She was sending a check and therefore had the additional challenge of making the envelope fit (and disguise) the gift.

DSC 0016

There were a lot of techniques and a few firsts in this project. My cousin is an avid mountain biker, so the theme was obvious, especially with the amazingly detailed Jolee’s stickers available. The bike sticker sort of dictated the color scheme as well, although the striped piece on the front is a scrap of Basic Grey’s Oxford collection from one of the projects I had going at the same time – it doesn’t match perfectly, but it keeps that grungy, outdoorsy “guy” feeling going.

DSC_0015.jpg

The gears are from a Tim Holtz collection. I love Tim Holtz and have a habit of collecting his embellishments, but they don’t usually work into my projects – in this case, the gears mimicked bike gears perfectly, and the bronze pieces matched that striped paper nicely.

DSC 0018

Unnecessary grommets! Seriously, these have no purpose in this project (in others it might be ribbon or jewelry) besides making it look more like “hardware”. I love hardware on masculine projects, my personal favorite being brads that look like screw heads.

Mom bought a Crop-O-Dile, the one tool that absolutely terrified me every time I saw it at the store. What is it? Why does it have so many levers and punches? Is this some sort of craft torture device? The answers to all my questions came the first time mom used it on this project: it’s awesome, easy, and means I need grommets on EVERYTHING. There’s a side to punch, a side to set the grommet, and it takes no more effort than a craft squeeze punch. Nice!

DSC 0019

The trickiest part of this card was the check envelope. We wanted the focus to be the bike, so we sort of wanted to hide the check – but not so well that he never found his birthday gift! The orange paper is actually folded to make a sleeve with a short pocket in the front (where the bike tag sits), a technique we stole from the exploding box patterns we were learning at the same time; and it’s tall enough to fit the check. We knew we wanted to put a tab on top that was irresistible to pull, thus preventing him from throwing away the check by accident, but neither of us was quite sure the bank would accept a crafted check, so we decided not to put the tag directly onto the paper. What you see here is two scraps of used laminate sheet (you know, the pieces you cut off once you’ve laminated something else… nothing gets thrown away in this craft room!) taped around the edges to make a clear envelope for the check. The tab is attached to the top, and it all slips into the orange sleeve. The tab was created using a Tim Holtz Sizzix die, thought it’s easy enough to freehand one of these. I liked the window in this one that allowed the striped paper to be pulled across the project.

DSC 0023

The back of the bike tag has the “card” part of this whole ensemble. A nice quote about biking and a place for the family to sign, framed in the two colors from the envelope to make sure it coordinates. You can probably tell the orange paper is pre-distressed, and certain parts were prettier than others. My trick for printing on the part that you want to use? Type up your sentiment in a normal word processing document and print it on plain paper. Then cut out the piece of patterned or colored paper that you’re actually going to use and tape it over the sentiment on the white paper. Put that whole sheet of paper back in the tray and print away! The printer will always print in the same place unless you change something, so you can predict exactly where your words will land. Simple!

DSC 0026

Aside from mastering a masculine styled project, my favorite part of this is definitely the clear check envelope. It’s clever, well-hidden, but still a part of the overall piece. The only drawback is that it requires a larger envelope (we sent this one in a padded manila envelope), but it’s a very minor problem if you’re going to deliver the card in-person, include it inside a box or bag, or if (like me) you already send your crafted cards in padded manila envelopes just to protect them from the trip through the postal system. 😉

Christmas in February

Hello! Remember all those wonderful things I promised for December? Well… Life got in the way, as it tends to do. Happy Almost March! Here’s a belated Christmas post:

Every year for Christmas, I get together with a group of friends from college for dinner or some similar event. We usually have some debate over whether we’re going to have a white elephant gift exchange, which is one of my personal pet peeves (ever since I received a half-empty box of tissues during an exchange in my sorority). We nixed the idea this year, thank goodness, so I decided to do something fun and crafty which I’d never tried before: homemade hot cocoa mix. In jars! Oh, it’s just so Martha.

DSC 0007

There’s something so wonderfully rustic about glass jars, and I couldn’t wait to decorate these. I had purchased some fantastic Christmas-themed stamps from The Greeting Farm that I was dying to use on something, and I found that a healthy dose of Martha Stewart fine glitter and some snowy white flocking gave them that extra holiday magic. The stamps were cut out using my indispensable Fiskars Fingertip Swivel Craft Knife, and put on the front side of tags that had the instructions for making the hot cocoa on the back.

DSC 0008

I use Copic markers to color my stamped images, and on these sweet stamps I also added some white flocking on her dress and shawl, and some tiny red rhinestones in the holly in her hair, as well as one as a clasp on her shawl. These are close friends, so I don’t mind putting in the time and extra embellishments to make sure they have something special to take home. The stamps would have been cute simply colored, I just love the “ooh” factor when things sparkle.

DSC 0009

I went absolutely insane with the glitter on the Santa stamps! Her entire hat and dress are solid glitter (colored red underneath just in case I missed a spot), and she has white flocking on every bit of white you see. That’s a tricky process: not getting glitter in the flocking, or flocking in the glitter, especially when you’re not patient enough to wait for either to dry. I seemed to have more success flocking first, then glittering… in the opposite order, the flocking seemed to stick to the rougher texture of the glitter, and it’s hard to remove without brushing off large quantities of glitter.

DSC 0010

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Hot Cocoa Mix

Ingredients

4 cups powdered milk

1 1/3 cups nestle cocoa powder

2/3 cup hershey special dark cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

11 candy canes

1/2 bag Hershey special dark chocolate chips


Directions

Use food processor to grind candy canes into powder

Add in rest of ingredients, blend

Mix in chips by hand

Split into jars

Crush one candy cane for each jar (put in ziplock bag, smash with side of mallet), add 5 chocolate chips for decor on top

 

Mix 3 tbsps mix with 1 cup hot water


The cocoa mix recipe started, like most things, with a basic recipe which I blatantly ignored, added to, re-mixed, tested, and changed again. By the time we settled on a peppermint hot cocoa (which tastes deliciously like creamy peppermint bark), the kitchen was covered in a fine layer of cocoa powder, and we had to go back to the grocery store for more candy canes. In purchasing a few too many ingredients, we ended up with extras, so my team at work also benefited from cute, smaller versions of the cocoa jars:

DSC 0005

All in all, a little bit messy, but an absolutely adorable handmade gift when you’re “not exchanging gifts” – because food definitely doesn’t count!

Boo Bags!

IMG_1240.JPG

Welcome back to Tanoshii Crafts! I spent most of my day today preparing these Boo Bags for my next-door neighbors. I got the idea from Lead Fiskateer Angela Daniels, in the first episode of her new video series, The Guilty Crafter. Check it out, the video is too cute, and she’s bound to share lots of brilliant crafting ideas in future episodes as well. Essentially, a Boo Bag is a secret treat you leave on your neighbors’ doorsteps. Once a neighbor has been “Boo’d”, it’s their turn to surprise other neighbors – it’s a great way to encourage a friendly neighborhood, and everyone gets to enjoy the holiday a little early.

I live on a busy street in a rural area, so even though both my next-door neighbors have kids, we don’t get to see them or other Trick-or-Treaters on Halloween. They go to other neighborhoods where the houses are closer together and the streets are well-lit with less traffic. It seemed perfect to start the Boo Bag tradition with these neighbors, and I shopped specifically with the girls in mind.

boobags1.jpg

The first thing a Boo Bag needs is, obviously, a bag. You can use grocery bags, or any other type of bag you have laying around – we haven’t had paper grocery bags in ages, but I found these great brown paper gift bags at the dollar store. The dollar store was a great resource today, because it’s currently full of Halloween stuff! I found these giant foam shapes and the Halloween-colored foam letter stickers there as well, along with some things to include in the bag for the neighbors. Since I don’t really have a reason to do many Halloween-related crafts or scrapbook pages, I was grateful to not have to spend a lot of money on these supplies. If you choose materials similar to mine, be careful about what adhesive you use for the foam shapes. I dislike glue, and try to do everything with Glue Dots and tape rollers, but nothing was sticking to this foam! I eventually got some medium Glue Dots to do the trick, but it was a challenge. If you don’t have an aversion to glue, that might have been the easiest way to stick these.

Boobags2

The other essential part to the Boo Bag is the sign for the door that lets other neighbors know who has been Boo’d and who hasn’t. I picked up this beautiful fall-themed paper stack by DCWV last week, called Simply Autumn. It’s not strictly Halloween, so I’ll be able to use the papers for other projects, but they were perfect for this one! I decided to go with a tag for my door-hangers, and I found a good tag shape in our newest Cricut cartridge, Art Philosophy by Close to My Heart. My mom got this one from a consultant at the Scrapbook Expo in Illinois, and it was a big splurge, but completely worth it; especially since it came with an assortment of stamp sets that I’ve been using on everything lately. One tip I can give you when cutting patterned paper in a Cricut – be sure to pay attention to how your pattern relates to your shape, especially when it’s a directional pattern like the stripes above. The Cricut cuts right-to-left, and the top of your shape ends up on the right side. I knew I wanted these to be vertical stripes on my tag, so you can see that I lined them up accordingly on my cutting mat.

boobags3.jpg

Never let a scrap go to waste! Anything that has been used and is no longer a 12×12 piece of paper suitable for a page in a scrapbook gets sorted into a folder – one each for solid colors, patterned colors, solid neutrals and patterned neutrals. The same drawer that holds these folders also has a bag full of useable shapes (ones that weren’t used in other projects, die-cut negatives that would still make interesting accents, or those accidental shapes that often come from misinterpreting what the Cricut is going to do – something that happens every time I use it, no matter how many calculations I make!), and a bag full of tiny scraps that eventually get utilized for thumb punches.

boobags4.jpg

The next step was the fun part: decorating the tags. The Simply Autumn paper pack has a couple of pages that are good for embellishments and borders. I cut off a section of a border, and used my Fiskars fingertip swivel craft knife to cut out the scalloped border – it’s my favorite tool for cutting rounded edges, stamps, or really anything that isn’t a straight line. You might have noticed that I cut a green tag and a striped tag earlier; I did this so that I would have perfectly matching layers on one of the tags. The stripe was cut to cover a little more than a third of the tag, and then I used this great Halloween border punch from Martha Stewart, called “Drippy Goo”. The name alone was enough to make me want it, but it really had an awesome effect on these stripes. This Halloween-themed stamp set is by Close to My Heart, and it was one of the sets that came with the Art Philosophy Cricut cartridge I mentioned earlier. Cute as it is, I had no idea I was actually going to get to use it so soon, but it was really the perfect finishing touch on my tags.

boobags5.jpg

I meant to laminate both tags to add a bit of necessary weather-proofing (in Chicago, you never know if it’s going to snow before Halloween, and I’m pretty sure these won’t hold up to rain, either), but I forgot to do so before I put the letter stickers on. Oops! I’ll just have to hope for sunshine until November, because those stickers are stuck.

boobags6.jpg

Since Boo Bags are new in my neighborhood, I needed to include an explanation and some instructions. I decided to put this information on the door-hangers, but I’m not very fond of my handwriting and I was afraid to mess up these adorable tags I’d just spent all evening making, so I typed it up on the computer. As you might have noticed in earlier entries, Google image searches are one of my favorite resources, and this was no exception. Some creative image combinations and a fun font gave this a lot more personality than a plain text page, and it’s a whole lot better than my handwriting would have been. This was incredibly easy to make, but if you like mine and use a Mac, you can download the Pages ’09 document here. I’ll get a more universal format up soon; check back here in a day or two if you’re looking for a PDF.

IMG 1234

With all the decorative elements completed, the last step was to fill the Boo Bags. I mentioned earlier that the neighbors I’m delivering these to each have two daughters; with that in mind I included fun Trick-or-Treat bags that I found at the grocery store, some glow sticks for better visibility on Halloween, pumpkin-adorned bendy straws, and some big gourmet sugar cookies. The total amount spent on each child actually comes to about $2.50, since I found everything at either the dollar store or the supermarket, so it didn’t cost a lot to put together a fun surprise for my neighbors. I’ll be delivering these tomorrow night, and I’m really pleased with the way they turned out. Hopefully “Booing” the neighbors catches on around here! If this looks like fun to you, maybe it’s time to start a tradition in your neighborhood, too. Grab a bag and start decorating! Keep an eye on this blog for future updates, and if you want to be notified of new posts, feel free to sign up via email using the link on the right side of the page. Ja ne! (See you later!)

IMG 1237