Blog / Crafts

Pretty (easy!) packaging

   [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] small, glassine (waxed) bags are an easy way to pack up a couple of iced treats. The ribbon was a dollar at Wal-Mart, and the tag was a freebie download that i printed. [/caption] Yesterday was the official launch of spring, and for me personally, any excuse to include flowers, birds and happy colors in packaging and cookies. Those closest to me know i'm a paper and ribbon addict, and putting those two elements together is a sweet high. It's easy to spend more than you intend on packaging up treats for any occasion, and i swear i have to hold myself back from stockpiling (like the addict i am). But i also love a bargain, and forcing myself to work at times with what i have. The past few days, i've been bagging cookies left and right, both for shipping and for gifting local friends. With the  exception of shipping boxes, i used supplies i had on hand, and hope these pictures may inspire you to sort through your own supplies and get creative (while saving your money for something else!). I also have some simple tips:
  1. Don't discount brown sack lunch bags. Trimmed down, paper-punched, painted or folded over and secured with twine, they're cheaper than kraft paper, and so much easier to handle. 
  2. Recycle ribbons & tissue. A no-brainer, i know, but don't be embarassed to re-use & re-gift elements of pretty packaging!
  3. Use Pinterest & Google to help you find free, downloadable graphics for tags. You'll have to invest in cardstock (and obviously a printer), but it makes your packaging so much more unique.
  4. Invest in paper-punches, found in the paper-crafting aisles at Hobby Lobby & Michael's. They're almost always on sale and if not, use a 40% off coupon. With a paper punch, you can make your own tags.
  5. Package using your favorite colors. Trying to follow trends can be a waste of time if what's hot (e.g. chevron stripes) isn't really your style. Be true to the textures and colors you love--- they'll inspire you to put more "you" in your gifts.
 [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] frosted bunnies for treat bags [/caption]   [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] remember tip No. 1? These brown paper lunch sacks were scalloped with a paper cutter, then stamped with a Cinderella quote. They were a gift from my sister, who bought them at an antique store. [/caption]   [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] Here's the full view. I added a scalloped tag i bought in the dollar bin at Target. I think it complements the ruffled texture of the paper bag. [/caption]   [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] glassine bags with my bargain ribbon and handmade tags[/caption]    [caption width="480" align="alignnone"] happy baking/crafting![/caption]   
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Bon Voyage baking: airplanes & luggage

  [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] I love the party invitation my sister picked for my niece, who starts flight attendant school in February. A going-away/ bon voyage party called for airplane- and luggage-shaped sugar cookies.[/caption] Baking for my niece's Bon Voyage was a fun chance to stretch my cookie cutter wings. My sister, "with a firm but gentle hand" (if I may quote Mary Poppins' Mr. Banks) challenged me to the task with nothing but sweet confidence that i would deliver cookies shaped like airplanes and luggage. Secondly, she insisted on paying me for them, which is always a game-changer, right? Gifting cookies vs. selling them = *Gulp* ... She made it so easy, though. We talked about keeping the icing colors in line with the invitation, which to me, also meant giving the planes a slightly modern-retro look, like the flight attendant on the invitation. (And i'm sorry, but can i just mention that "stewardess" is much easier to say?)   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] The icing color palette was easy enough to choose[/caption] Knowing i would need to make, bake and decorate three dozen cookies, i took the great advice of sugar cookie guru Amber at and divided the work over a week, rather than doing it all at once. So one day, i made the dough. The next, i rolled and cut the shapes, and stuck them in the freezer. (She has tips on that, too!) Another day, i baked. And the day after that-- you guessed it-- i decorated them. That still left ample time for the icing to set, and a day to bag and tag the finished cookies. (I packed them individually in cellophane bags and used a heat sealer to crimp them, which keeps the cookies fresh up to several weeks.) I hope there are some helpful tips tucked inside this post that may be useful in your own baking journey. I'm extremely grateful my sister gave me this fun opportunity, and so proud of her girl, who is going to make one heck of a stewar---- um, flight attendant.  :  ) Happy baking!   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] Dividing the work over a week's time made the process so much easier[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] Airplane cookie (Photo:[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] Airplanes and suitcases, waiting to be packed for the Bon Voyage party (Photo:[/caption]  
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Sweetly stitched friendships

  [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] happy mail from author, designer, quilter, sewer, and super-mama-everything Amy Sinibaldi[/caption] It wasn't that long ago i found a community on #instagram of fellow cake lovers who shared a soft spot for vintage linens, ribbons and string, old movies, love-worn texture, and that icy-blue shabby chic/martha stewart color i still never know what to call, but consider my happy place. Where once i felt like an oddball admitting i shopped flea markets and thrift stores, i was now among kindred spirits, and super-duper talented ones at that: knitters, sewers, photographers, crafters, foodies, etc. I was clicking "follow" like crazy, going gaga over pics and talents, and sensing a crackling, creative force uniting these young wonders and their addicting feeds. Along this journey, i've made some friends, too, the same as you might meet a stranger and feel that instant spark of recognition and understanding. ("S/he just gets me.") Well, Amy Sinibaldi is one of those people. I can't even remember how i even stumbled upon her IG feed, or her blog, but i was blown away by her talent, and by the itty-bitty detail in her bio that she'd only been sewing since 2006 and was now an author of Sweetly Stiched Handmades (Tuva Publishing, 2015). I could go on and on about her mad skills, but better for you to grab some coffee and visit her blog nanaCompany for yourself. She's the real deal, and a very inspiring one. So the other day i get a package of goodies from Mrs. Sinibaldi, and i can't get over the sweetness and thoughtfulness behind every carefully considered gift. Namely, i zero in on a lilac box of ribbons she's been saving, and i'm reminded it's a crazy-small, fortuitous world. Because just a few days before, i'd been ooh'ing over spool after spool of ribbon in a downtown Los Angeles trimmings shop. The spools i lingered over longest were beautifully stitched jacquards. I adored their colors and details and wanted to bring all of them home with me. Well, lo and behold, Amy's collection of ribbons included a number of super-sweet jacquards she'd acquired. And now, here they were with me. I'll post some close-ups of these gentle tokens so you can see what treasures they are, and why i'm so lucky to call her a friend. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] even as a teenager i saved ribbons from presents and had boxes of them under my bed. Now i get to enjoy this special collection, too.[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] pretty little details on these flat spools for ribbon & yarn[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] her cross-stitching and hand-sewing on this little pin cushion are impeccable![/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] gorgeous post cards include holiday well-wishes as well as images of the fabric collection, Paperie, that Amy recently designed for Art Gallery Fabrics. (just feeling the need to say my favorite in the collection is called Eponine. Smiley face because it's that icy blue color i (no, "we") love.[/caption]  
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Diy shine

Just an uber quick reminder how EASY it is to create your own glittered numbers and letters. So many free printables to be had online. (I google'd these, but have saved many others to #Pinterest.) Just download, print to card stock, cut, coat with glue (or spray adhesive) and sugar them with glitter like crazy. Too messy and no time? I know Hobby Lobby started carrying them recently for abt $3. But use your 40% coupon when possible, and you'll get them for a steal.
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winter greetings

A super quick check-in to say sweet friends have passed along their recycled spice and food jars. Which in turn feeds my bottle brush tree appetite, because it means i get to make more #diy snow globes. (*Happy place.*) Most will be returned to them as little tokens of the season, though i plan to keep a few in sight for myself, all year long. 
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Frosted little trees

Took just a few minutes to assemble my first-ever snowglobe kind of thingy. This follows a late evening of ooh'ing online over the twisted, bottle brush trees that Anthropologie stores are stocking this holiday. I bought these babies for half price during a sale at Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts, because i freely admit to having a slight bottle brush tree obsession. And i'm forever recycling jars for flowers and other things. (Found that a little WD-40 gets rid of stubborn glue on the glass.) For a snowy effect, a little scoop of epsom salt works great.
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Painting pine cones 

  As the paint dries on these little cones, im still thinking of ways to display them, besides a garland that i'll try. But mostly i wanted to offer a few tips to any nature lovers thinking of painting pine cones by hand (as opposed to spray painting them, which i did a couple of posts, below). This was my first attempt, and though it's embarrassingly easy, i do suggest these tips:
  1. Wash or wipe pine cones with a damp paper towel to remove debris, pine needles & in some cases, little bugs, before painting
  2. Dilute your paint. Adding a few teaspoons of water to your small puddle of paint will really help with application!
  3. Use decent paint brushes. I bought the cheapest ones at the hardware store & within a few minutes, the bristles frayed and were coming off on the cones.
  4. If they start to close, you can bake pine cones at a low temp after theyre painted, to help reopen them. But wait until paint is fully dry before popping them in the oven.
Hope this helps!         
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Simple (natural) scents

 Here's a take on the holiday pomanders we (and i'm sure lots of you!) made as children, as Christmas ornaments and as easy fresheners to scent the house. The credit for this goes completely to Mary Jane's Farm magazine, which i just discovered at a local Sprout's market. (She's also on instagram, Twitter, and has a website.) Set your oven to 200 degrees F, and cut vertical slits into the peels of oranges or other citrus fruits, stopping, she says, about 1 inch from the top and bottom of the fruit. I used lemons from our tree, and because i didnt have oranges on hand, tangerines. I lined a cookie sheet with baking paper and popped them in the oven for the recommended two hrs.  The heat brought the scent to life fairly quickly. Once done and cooled, hang them as is, or stud the skins with whole cloves for a deeper, warmer fragrance. Fingers crossed these will last at least a couple of weeks! --Hoping you enjoy some, too!
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Pretty, messy glitter 

 It was a good morning to get outside and tackle a box of pine cones gathered at a nearby park. Oh, and yesterday, me and my sweet violet found the cutest, tiniest baby pine cones that also drop from trees, though im sure they have a more proper, official name. With a quick spray of gold paint, some spray adhesive, and a dust of gold glitter, we dressed up nature's little offerings for the holidays. [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] at first blush, these itsy-bitsy pine cones reminded me of mascara spoolies[/caption]   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="480"] i love the little pine tree ornaments at Hobby Lobby this year. the glittered tree decoration also is from there.[/caption]  
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