Monday, April 20, 2015

papertrey ink :: moments inked :: correspondence pockets

There are a million and one inspirations driving this post today...I owe many, many people thank you notes, April is National Letter Writing Month, I have a couple of sweet pen pals I've been shamefully neglecting, the phrases #snailmailrevolution, #happymail, and #sendmoremail practically dominate my Instagram feed (the only slightly more popular hashtag being #plannernerds), I just received a lovely letter from my cousin who reminded me that few things are as heartfelt or appreciated as the hand written note...The bottom line is that I need to #sendmoremail.

Feeling utterly disorganized and scatterbrained (not to mention extremely guilty) when it comes to doing so, I turned to my Papertrey Ink Moments Inked planner to set me straight.

When I received my planner a couple of months ago, I vowed that it would not sit idly on the shelf doing me no good for the whole of 2015.  I was going to use it to make me a better person.  I'm doing so-so in that department, but it definitely doesn't help that I have yet to send thank you notes to the kind people who took the time to choose a thoughtful birthday gift for Nemy when she turned 2 back in the beginning of March.  I think that is the real catalyst for creating my little mailing station at the back of my planner--guilt!

Arguably, guilt shouldn't be the reason one does anything, but in this case, I feel it's important to acknowledge the thought and time spent on us.  Inasmuch as guilt is not a reason to take action, being busy and disorganized is not a reason to not take action.  So I've created something that works fairly well for me and keeps me functioning at a somewhat organized level.

I began by making a couple of pockets using the Pocket Page die and some pretty patterned papers.  These could not have been easier to make!  I then took glassine envelopes in assorted sizes (6 x 4 || 3 5/8 x 2 15/16 || 2 7/8 x 1 3/4) and die cut the notches with the Basic Pages dies so I could stick them into my book.  I used the largest size to hold stamp sheets and the smaller sizes for various address labels.

My first PTI pocket houses notecards and envelopes.  I can also tuck in a list or two of the cards I need to send so I don't lose track and forget about them--which is what usually happens, and then 4 months later I remember I never sent Auntie Norma a thank you note for the Christmas gifts she so kindly sent to the kids.

Before I adhered my two pocket pieces together, I stitched a few Planner Banner die cuts along the side of the top piece and stamped 'NOTES' on one of the tabs.  The stamp is from the coordinating Blog Banners stamp set so it fits perfectly onto the flag.

The second pocket holds the cards that are ready to be mailed.  I used the same banner tabs but the 'mail card' stamp is from the Planner Banners set.  It fits just as beautifully...this planner has been so thoughtfully coordinated and designed.  The stamp sets also offer just about every phrase you might need.

The back of my planner is my one-stop-spot for storing postage, notecards, envelopes, and labels, neatly corralled in the paper pockets and glassine envelopes.  Bonus: With the Contacts section already included in the book, all I have to do is turn the page and I have all of the addresses handy.  There's no excuse to put off writing those ever-important thank you notes--or any notes for that matter.

Armed with my simplified mailing station, I am ready when correspondence calls.  I just need a pen and there's always (usually) one of those within arm's reach.

I so appreciate you stopping by today!  I'll be back here later this week with a closer look at the stationary I created to keep in my planner.  I used a few different dies and stamps for quick and easy ready-made cards and labels.  I'm really happy with the way they turned out so I hope you'll come back for that!

Papertrey Ink:
Moments Inked Planner System
Dies:  Pocket Page, Basic Pages, Planner Banner, Divided
Stamp Sets:  Planner Banners, Blog Banners, Bountiful Banners, To You From Me
Ink: Smokey Shadow
White Adhesive Sheets
Stamper's Select White Cardstock

Envelopes: Paper Source
Patterned Paper: Crate Paper, Heidi Swapp

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

gossamer blue inspiration blog hop :: april :: cards and tags

Hi there, all you paper fans!  Have you come for the Gossamer Blue Blog Hop?  You should have arrived from the lovely blog of Michiko Kato if you're going in order--I'm always amazed by everything she does!  Are you having fun with your April kits?  Aren't they just ridiculously happy and bright?!

In particular this month, there were all kinds of journaling card options and I've become a huge fan of the 3x4 cards.  I'm not a pocket page memory keeper, although I've sure seen enough fantastic layouts to wish that I was, but I like the cards because they are the perfect base for greeting cards and layered gift tags.

I couldn't decide this month whether I wanted to make a set of cards or a set of I made both.  I made 3x4 layouts that can be either.  With the addition of twine or clip, they can be easily attached to a gift bag or package...

...or they can be adhered to a folded card.  Shown here, I simply took a 4x4 card, layered on a 4" doily, and then adhered my ready-made piece on top of that.  All done!

Everything about the kits this month was so 'me'--the colors, the typography, the images.  It's all just incredibly pretty.  And I adore pretty things.  The April kits have really captured the essence of spring, and not just in the Themed Add-On, which happens to be dedicated to the season.  Each kit is happy and colorful and bursting with sunshine.

And then there are the feathers, with which I, like so many others, am smitten at the moment.  These chipboard feathers are part of the Main Kit and the entire time I was working on my projects, I saved them, not wanting to use them on just anything.  That tendency to hoard the best things is not a good one!  What always ends up happening is I save them until they're no longer relevant. 

So when it came down to this, the very last assignment to make with the April kits, I willed myself to use them and I'm happy that I did.  They're much better off ready to be gifted to someone special than they are sitting in a basket waiting to be used.

Thanks for coming by today...I hope you've been encouraged to put the April kits (and maybe even a few supplies you've been hoarding) to good use.  Up next is my friend Sabrina Alery's page where you'll always find something inspiring.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

wrap it :: a closer look at dunne with style

Good morning!  It's a rare occasion when you cross paths with someone with whom you instantly admire that person, you share many commonalities, you can talk for hours and never run out of things to say--it's like you've known each other forever, when in fact you've only known each other a few short months.  Meet my new bestie Sam Dunne of Dunne With Style...I've never actually met her (she lives in Australia and I'm in the US) but in this day and age of technical wizardry--email, Facebook, Instagram--meeting face to face has proven unnecessary to accommodate our blossoming friendship.

I think I've mentioned before how over the moon I was to be asked to participate in Wrap It.  For one, I was asked by this very special lady to join her talented group of gift wrapping artists; and two, gift wrapping and embellishment kits are so close to my heart and I love to conjure them up.

There is something special about Sam and there is something calming about her kit and her photos.  They are akin to a warm bath--you sit back, relax, and soak them in, all the while being infinitely inspired.  Perhaps it's in all the lovely shades of mint and aqua and the cozy introduction of fabric...I can't quite put my finger on it, but her ensemble just warms my heart.  She has spent countless hours ruffling the fabric wrap; she watercolored the paper rosettes and the white tag, and you will read of all the other personal touches that are woven into this assortment.  If you've ever wished to delve into the art of prettying up your packages, Sam's Wrap It kit is the perfect place to start.

As part of this journey, Sam will conduct a short interview with each of us on the Wrap It team to coincide with our kit release.  Being that her kit is shipping this month, I asked if I in turn could interview her.  She nicely agreed to answer some questions and even sent me a few photos of her lovely ensemble in action.  So please read about this beautiful soul, my friend Sam...

What is your intention with Wrap It?  What do you hope customers will get out of purchasing these kits?

I've always had an obsession with gift wrap; I think it has an effect on the receiver that is difficult to describe.  It's like an unwritten expression of thoughtfulness, an unwritten note that exudes generosity. But sometimes where to begin and having to source and stockpile all the little 'bits and pieces' can leave inspiration and motivation levels low.  I wanted to create a series of kits that showcased the amazing talents of 8 creatives and let them inspire and simplify the way we create beautiful gifts.

Tell us a little bit about your kit...

My Wrap It kit is the culmination of my favourite supplies to use in my most loved colour palette: mint, white, black and kraft brown.  I wanted to include as many textural elements as possible and teach people how to add depth and layers with just a few elements.  It was inspired by the fabric which I've turned into a ruffle (it comes all ruffled up and ready to use!) which is a fabric I used for Nate's 1st birthday party, so not only do I love the colour and the print but it comes with fond memories of his birthday.  From there I painted some watercolour paper and made the rosette, which are often my go-to items to quickly jazz up a gift. The Dailylike 'dandelion' washi tapes are my favourite patterns and the colours tied in perfectly, too.  The mints are balanced by the vintage browns in the tea-stained dictionary sheets and vintage music sheets, and the hint of black begins in the print of these papers and is carried through to the spots on the fabric ribbon and tape and the black mini pegs.  A few white doilies brighten up the collection, and no wrap kit is complete without a roll of twine, so a mini bobbin of hemp twine is included, too.

When did you fall in love with gift wrapping and what inspired that love?

As a child I remember asking Mum if I could keep the ribbon when she received a birthday present; I'd sneak the tissue paper from bunches of flowers Dad would bring home for her and stockpile my 'collections' to re-use and re-wrap gifts later on.  These days I can often be found spending more time wrapping the gift than I did shopping for it.  I've always found it a really cathartic exercise and everyone that receives a well-wrapped gift is always so grateful, so it's a feel-good project for both the giver and the receiver.

Where do your crafty ideas come from?  Certainly, we'd love to know where the Wrap It idea originated, but also, your everyday crafting projects:

Everywhere!  I'm always looking for inspiration and find if you keep your eyes open the world is a pretty inspiring place. I find colour and colour palettes the most inspiring, so I'm always looking at colour combinations in homewares, fabrics, rugs, bed linen - I often find the way they combine or contrast colour will inspire an entire project.  And if I'm really stumped I head to the local hardware store and stand in front of the paint chip section (and often come home with an armful of them).  I'm always looking outside for the way that colour and texture work in the natural world, too, as nature never seems to get it wrong! 
The Wrap It idea originated when someone said to me, "I wouldn't even know where to start to wrap something like that."  I instantly wanted to hand them a box of 'where to start' and inspire them to get creative.

What 3 items would you be lost without when it comes to gift wrapping?

Brown paper (matte, never shiny or glossy, and the more textural the better) - it's a staple in my house that I buy in bulk; it's the perfect base for an infinite amount of colours, textures, and toppers.
String - in as many forms and varieties as possible--baker's twine, garden twine (it's thick and rustic and ridiculously cheap from the hardware store!), hemp cord...whatever I can lay my hands on.
Fabric - gift wrap should always involve texture.  Texture gives depth, which is an inviting property, it draws people in; you want the recipient to want to touch and feel it and fabric is so good at doing this.  My favourite is simple cotton fabrics, plain colours or small prints - tear it up into strips and use as ribbon or a band with it's frayed edges.

And, just for fun...What do you listen to when you're crafting away?

Today, Above the Clouds of Pompeii, by Bear's Den.

Wow!  Are you inspired to get wrapping yet?!  Just a reminder, there is a new kit shipped each month.  There are a limited number of kits available so the sooner you purchase, the better.  Sam's is shipping now!

You can see more of Sam here (and trust me, she is an individual of whom you want to see more!):

Website // Shop // Wrap It

Please feel free to ask any questions about Wrap It in the Comments section of this post--I'm more than happy to answer them!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

crate paper :: embroidery hoop wrap

There is a very fun set of wood veneer embroidery hoops that are a part of the Crate Paper Craft Market collection.  They are especially brilliant for DIY--did you see this gorgeous project from Christine Middlecamp?  It's kind of hard to top that one, so I put my own spin on them and created a little something to top off a package.

The possibilities are endless in terms of finishing them off--you can paint them, cover them in glitter or patterned paper, adhere buttons or sequins or another small object all the way around them, or you could just leave them as is.  For my gift, I decided to wrap them in seam binding.  A different trim or fabric will work, too.

This could not have been easier.  I started at the top, leaving a few inches to tie off at the end, and simply wound it around the hoop until I reached the top again.  I used about 1.5 yards to cover the largest hoop in the pack; the ribbon color is Melon, by Hug Snug.

Once I reached the top, I wove the ends through the opening of the ring two times and then tied it into a bow.  I traced and cut a circle of Confetti's 'Life of the Party' patterned paper which I adhered to the back of my hoop.  The embellishments I used here were actually my first step in this whole process and the inspiration for the project itself.  I was playing around with the large words from Confetti and tried them out on the plain hoop, which I liked all by themselves, but eventually decided to add a few more details.  So I had the words and the bird Standout and then tailored the rest of the composition around them.

The size of my box is just over 5x7 and I wrapped it in ruffled gold crepe paper (given to me by my lovely friend Bonita Rose; made by the Vintage Scrap Shop).  I placed my hoop frame on top of it with a dab of glue to hold it in place.  A couple of 4x6 journaling cards tucked behind the crepe paper offer more patterns to dress up the plain white box without having to use wrapping paper (I'm so clumsy when it comes to wrapping paper!!).  Such a sweet and simple project!

I made one more little piece with the mid-size hoop.  I left this one plain because I used more embellishments (again, I messed about with it and came up with the decorative elements to start).  I backed it with the polka dot burlap specialty paper from Craft Market, but everything else is from Confetti.  It needed a little something at the top so I added the blue wood bow.  It's such a small thing, but it really makes a difference.

In the end, I used this hoop on a card instead of a package.  It was just the right size for my favorite card measurements--4x4.  This size would also make a darling gift tag.

What have YOU done with the Craft Market embroidery hoops?  Crate Paper and I love to see!  Use hashtag #cratehoops and pin or post on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook and we'll be sure to check them out!  I hope your weekend is off to a fantastic start!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

gossamer blue :: easter party favors and improvising

Hi all!  Yikes!  Easter is right around the corner, isn't it?  Less than 2 weeks until that bunny shows up bearing candy and Hot Wheels.  So today I've got a little Easter project that I shared last week on the blog at Gossamer Blue.  (And just in case you're like me, and you often find yourself in a creative jam at the eleventh hour, I have a few tips for improvising and working through it.)

Full disclosure here:  Due to a number of factors, I was creating all of my projects this month at the last minute.  Luckily, after a slow start, this was somewhat easy to do because the kits were so inspiring and I got ideas from everything I touched.  While it's not always that effortless to create on a whim--either with an amazing collection or without one--there are a few things you can do when you're in a creative crunch.

For one, I just went with my gut and created what I felt comfortable making.  I didn't try any fancy new techniques or tools (although, sometimes that actually does help get you out of a rut); I kept my projects fairly simple and stuck to what I know and like to do, and allowed myself some time to get acquainted with the kits, and my projects.  That means that I tried not to get stressed when, after 2 hours of sitting at my desk, pouring over all of the kits, I still had no concrete plan for what I was going to make.

That kind of expectation puts a lot of pressure on you and only makes things worse, so walk away for a little bit if you have to and come back to it.  What ended up happening for me was that each time I walked away, I came back with a clear head and the pieces fell into place.

Then there are the times when you're so sure you have a brilliant idea, yet when you sit down to create, it just doesn't work out.  That happens to me more times than I care to tell you about! 

The story behind this particular project is that it's based on the first notion I got way back when I received my March kits, a few weeks ago.  I looked at each piece in every kit, got really excited about all of the possibilities, and then happened upon the wood pieces from the LP Themed Add-on.  The little rabbits looked just like marshmallow Peeps and I've gone slightly bunny crazy since Nemy was born 2 years ago when I decided little rabbits would be her "thing."  Her birthday is in March so wouldn't adorable Peeps party favors be so cute at her party?  Yes!  They totally would have been...if I could have made them work.

The problem with that is I got distracted by all the unicorns in the kits and that killed it for the poor sweet bunnies.  However, I had gone out and bought the Peeps already, had the toothpicks and the bamboo skewers, and the little planting pots that I wanted to use.  I had no good ideas on what to do with the unicorns, but I had a semi-formed plan for the rest of the stuff.  So my birthday party favors became Easter favors.

I kept running into walls as I was trying to bring the concept to fruition, though.  I had the plant pots but, left naked, they were too boring (dull brown) for the colorful ideas I had.  What to do...I could cover them in paper, but paper's not very forgiving when it comes to tapered containers.  I could paint them; that would take awhile and they wouldn't be dry by the time I needed to decorate them.  (Even though I got the idea a few weeks ago, I didn't actually get to start this project until the day it was due!)  Well, crepe paper is all the rage and I happened to have a few rolls from the last time it was all the rage.  Crepe paper is more malleable and much thinner than patterned paper and wraps around the cups so easily.  Crepe paper for the win!

Since this is all about improvising, what do you do when you don't have crepe paper--or little planting pots for that matter?  Try using ribbon or twine and, depending on the width, wrap it around a few times.  You don't necessarily have to cover the entire cup.  Washi tape, glitter tape, fabric...any of those will work just as well, too.  As for the pots, standard paper cups would work--if you have anything fun or festive left over from your last party (or you've already done the shopping for the upcoming one), those would be great and probably wouldn't need the cover!

Then I remembered that, well, skewering the Peeps on a toothpick is a great idea, but how are they going to stand up in the cups?  These aren't filled with dirt or yummy cake into which I could sink the toothpick.  I didn't have any flower foam and had no time for shopping.  So I looked around my work table, saw some 1 1/8" wood spools and decided those would be perfect.  I have a bag of 100 of them in my cabinet so there were plenty to use.

I needed 2 of them, stacked on top of each other with a large Glue Dot in between to hold them together.  (The pointed ends of the picks will pierce through the Glue Dot and the sticks will slide to the bottom of the cup.)  Another Glue Dot on the bottom spool adheres it to the bottom of the plant pot.

What's that?  You don't have a bag of 100 wood spools in your drawer?  Try any other thread spool you do have, thick styrofoam, or cork.

Then it was time for the only part of my plan I had actually had the foresight to think through...the Peep on the toothpick and a paper flag.  For the flag, a piece of doily, matching crepe paper, and a snippet of patterned paper from the kits; simple, but colorful. 

Next up, adding some fill to the cups.  This gold party tinsel is my new favorite craft supply and I've been using it to dress up many of my projects lately.  I buy it at the local discount store.

If you can't find any, try Easter grass, shredded paper, or kraft shred, sold in the gift wrap aisle of most big box stores.  You could also fill these with jelly beans or a similar candy (and that might solve the problem of anchoring your picks, too), though if you are using the plant pots, I recommend lining them with food-safe paper first.

Easy, right?  And kinda cute, too.  The finishing touch were the little tags with the bows, with the wood bunting spelling out Easter.  The bunting is from the LP Themed Add-on and you can find the paper for the bows in the 6x6 paper pad from the Bits & Pieces kit.

This was not my original'll not see those adorable wood bunnies anywhere in this post.  But things like this happen to me all. the. time.  It's ok to just go with it and change your plans.  Don't hold onto your original idea so tightly that you lose sight of another one.  And don't panic if you have the perfect idea but lack the perfect supplies to go with them.  It's all about mindset; instead of thinking about what you DON'T have, think about what you DO have.  You'll think of something; trust me!