holiday gift wrapping and decorating ideas

christmas diy

Today I was going to show you my second ornament for the season and I just didn't have time to finish the tutorial in time. I will be posting it as soon as I get some breathing room. In the meantime, here is a list of some of my tutorials (new and old) that would work well for the holidays.

Top row: poppy flower, poinsettia flower, embroidered gift tag
Middle row: yarn gift tag (recycling), cardboard ring ornament (recycling), popsicle sticks gift tags
Bottom row: using paper punches to make gift tags, teardrop ornaments, stripes gift tags

Can you tell I'm not even thinking about Halloween at this point?

Here's to a great (busy, busy) week!

an open letter

Dear creative colleague,

I want you to have your own journey. 
I want you to enjoy the discovery of your own strengths and talents. 
I want you to look forward to developing your next idea. 
I want you to relish the start of a new project. 
I want you to succumb to failure so that you can learn how to stand up again. 
I want you to feel stuck and discover what it takes for you to get going once more.
I want you to feel accomplishment and pride after a job well done.  
I want you to understand that the creative process can only start with your own hand and end with it as well. 
I want you to realize that you are depriving the rest of us of your treasures when you only offer glimpses of your talent.
I really do want all this for you.

Be inspired by those around you. Absorb everything. Reinterpret what you see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Reinterpret. Do not reiterate. Experiment, explore and grow. Develop your own voice and delve into the creative path you are on. You won't regret the steps that take you forward. And not even those that take you backwards. Aside from shortcuts, they will all be valuable to you.

Just let us see what you can really do. More importantly, show yourself what you can really do. 

• • •

PS. Before you ask - This is not directed to anyone in particular at all. It isn't written because of any specific event or issue that has presented itself recently. It is simply something that I've thought about for a long, long time and just now, when I'm in a good place, do I feel that it is right to put it into words. It is my way to put some thoughts to rest—and yes that sounds totally vague, but just take it at face value. No mysteries here!

christmas paper quilt and boxes

christmas boxes

So here it is! You had to know this was coming, right? I've been planning it for weeks and weeks. I kept changing my mind about some of the designs. In the end I think I accomplished what I wanted—something fun, contemporary and versatile. I wanted to include some boxes that can be used even after the holidays have come and gone.

I want to use the houses for a house warming gift or the stripes for a birthday with contrasting ribbon or something like that.

I always show my designs to the kids while I'm working on them. I like to do that because they point out  things that are so obvious and that I don't see because I've been so absorbed in the project. I was lucky that this time they saw exactly what I was hoping they'd see when I hung the Christmas Paper Quilt on the wall.

"Oh, you're working on Christmas!" = Perfect!

christmas paper quilt

I have other holiday goodies coming but I really couldn't wait to unveil this one. I'm going to make small 3" box covers and putting them in this frame this weekend. I can't wait to see what it looks like!

You can find my Christmas Paper Quilt in the shop now!
[The shop is finally sporting my revised logo. I am my own worst client!]

• • •

Friday Tidbits
- More of my work is now on Lettering Delights. See it here!
- Mia Liu - I love, love this paper mural. Amazing. Her whole portfolio basically blows my mind.
- This project caught my eye this week. Vases, paint and rubber bands! So simple and stylish at the same time.

Have a great weekend everyone!

christmas boxes

before the pretty


...comes the hard work. I'll be showing you a little something new tomorrow. It's looking rather wonderful, if I do say so myself.


I've never made it a secret that sewing isn't my thing. It gets me nervous to sit in front of the sewing machine. It doesn't feel like a friendly place for me. Nothing like what I feel with paper and cutting tools in my hands. Regardless of that, I've always been surprised at how giddy I feel when I get some fabric (even in just swatches) with my designs on it.

The most recent package from Spoonflower was no different. This is called Segments and it was completely inspired by this box which evolved from this piece I made ages ago. I know it's a bright set for this time of the year but I just couldn't muster a muted palette. Another trio of colors is coming.

I also posted Slope (I have to reshoot the photo). It may appear a bit delicate at first, but I can see it being used for larger scaled items, like curtains, sheets or large cushions.

I got small swatches that I can use for sachets but I'm waiting for a larger piece of Segments in navy for cushions for our room. I'll show it to you when it's done—soon!

• • •

The difference between try and triumph is a little umph.  ~Author Unknown

recycling project - holiday ornament

recycling project - ornament

There were so many ways they could've gone. The majority of you that voted wanted me to work in paper (such anguish -- haha!), so I did. I'm not quite sure how I ended up with this version, but it certainly wasn't my first attempt.

Surprisingly, the biggest challenge was making something that would be a compliment to the outer frame and not be overwhelmed by it. A couple of my initial designs were too delicate or small and seemed to disappear inside the ring.

Another challenge (one which I face with all tutorials) is that I wanted to create something that would be very easy to replicate and still look interesting. Incidentally, although I call this a challenge, it is one of my favorite parts of the process.

Cardboard ring (this one in particular is from a roll of painter's tape)
White paint
White card stock
Red card stock
Push pin
Red embroidery thread
Craft knife
Cutting mat
Metal Ruler
Paper trimmer (optional - if it is used, it will eliminate the need for the last three items on the list)

recycling project - ornament

1. Paint the entire ring white. Set it aside to dry.

2. Cut white strips of card stock that are slightly narrower in width than the width of the cardboard ring.

3. Glue the strips to one another by overlapping 1/4" (5mm) of each end of the strips. You should end up with a strip that is at least 60" (152cm) long.

4. Fold the strips accordion style at 3/4" (2cm) intervals. Glue the opposite ends of the folded strip to form a full circle.

recycling project - ornament

5. Using the push pin or something similar, make one hole in the center of the width of the ring. Thread a length of embroidery thread through the hole that is long enough to hang the ornament.

6. Tuck the ring of folded white strips inside the card board ring. Add dots of glue to the edges of some of the outer folds of the white paper and glue to them to the inside of the ring.

7. Cut six strips of red paper that are the same width of the white strip and twice as long as the height of the folds. Fold each red strip in half.

recycling project - ornament

8. Tuck the red pieces inside the folds of the white paper to form a 6 point star. You may need to move the pieces around several times until you find the ones that make the star look symmetrical. Once they are in the right place glue the red paper to the inside of the accordion folds.

recycling project - ornament

- If you don't have a cardboard ring make your own ring by creating a circle with a strip of card stock that wraps around twice.
- To make a "greener" version of this ornament use old book pages or magazine pages instead of the white card stock. You wouldn't need to add the red paper simply because the magazine paper would already be colorful enough.

That's it! Simple and easy. Right?

Happy Monday!

and the winner is...

The majority has spoken, so I will be doing a 3D paper shape for the ornament. As of this moment I have no idea what it will look like. Time constraints may limit what I can do but even I'm curious to see what I come up with.

Thank you so much to everyone that has participated in my ornament survey! It was so much fun to see the numbers start creeping up and the ideas that you were all sharing. I will keep the survey open until tonight as promised, but as of right now 132 of you responded and there were an additional 55 of you that left other comments and/or ideas in the 2nd question. I thought it would be fun for you to see the results (and you'll know I'm not cheating! ;))—so here is a graph that I downloaded from Survey Monkey (although I made it black and white because their colors were a bit horrid - hehe!)

I also want to share just some of the ideas that came pouring in with question 2. Maybe you could try some yourselves. So here you go:
encaustic painting, star in a halo (with instructions and all - thanks Jim!), LED lights, wire, beading, combination of fabric and yarn, pipe cleaners, combination of thread and paper, paper lace, tell a graphic story, a recycled element like a bottle cap, quilling, basic ink doodle (in black, red or green), something from nature (wood, beans, dried leaves), something transparent (acetate or glassine), use and angel, wreath or a tree image in the middle, polymer clay, using the ring as the top of a mobile, tinsel, a photo, silver leaf, something suspended in the middle that will twirl.

That was just some. Phew!

Since I can't show you anything I worked on this week (the suspense will kill me!), I'll just show you that our mantle is decked out for the holidays thanks to our little C. She took it upon herself to make a strand of snowflakes while I went out to dinner with some friends (the type of get together where we all end up in tears from laughing so hard = great group therapy!).

So this morning...
D: "Not to be rude or anything... but isn't it a bit early to be decorating for Christmas?"
Me: "I agree." (outside of C's presence of course) "Who are we to stop a blooming artist?" (wink).

Friday Tidbits 
- Pia Wustenberg - She is taking recycling of paper to a whole new level.

 - I love this video of Rob Ryan. Typically 'nice' isn't such a great word to describe someone, but that's what he seems like to me... just a really nice and genuine person (aside from the extremely talented man that he is!).

Enjoy and have a great weekend everyone!

Handmade Portraits: Rob Ryan from Etsy on Vimeo.

an ornament needs your help


Ok, I need your help. When I finished using a roll of painter's tape, I was left with this cardboard ring. I decided that it should become a holiday ornament (no use denying that time of the year is nearly here!), but after painting it white (to have a nice place to start from) I got derailed.

I have several ideas that involve different materials, but I can't decide what direction I should take. The pressure is completely off on this project—it's for fun. So, I thought you may want to help me decide. Fear not, I will turn this into a tutorial, so I'll show you what I did next week.


I could easily leave it as is. It crudely reminds me of of this beautiful jewelry. But, I want to develop this further. In fact, this is the first of my ornament series for the end of the year. Fun!

Are you game? If so, click here to take my two question survey. I'll keep the survey open until Friday at midnight. Thank you for joining in!

book review: homemade by carol endler sterbenz

I received a copy of Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts and I was quite surprised by the format and the size of the book. It is a thick volume, of almost 800 pages, rich in information and an incredible variety of projects from which to choose from.

The chapters cover crafts and techniques in: beading, floral arts, paper crafting, hand printing, decoupage, decorative embellishing and children's arts and crafts.

The beginning of each chapter includes a section in history, techniques and a glossary of terms and tools—everything you could possibly need to know before starting any of the projects.

I didn't count how many projects are in the book, but at a glance, I'm certain there are over 50+ projects. There are fun crafts for children that don't involve many materials. The introduction to that chapter in particular offers great advice about how to approach crafting with kids depending on their age. The back of the book has about 30 pages of patterns.

As you can see, the amount of material is incredible. The book has 7 chapters that just as easily could have been turned into 7 books.

Homemade stands out from any craft book because it is completely in black and white. There are no photographs. Before you take that as a negative, consider the fact that there are many, many illustrations in the book, which are incredibly detailed. I can't even imagine how long it took for the illustrator, Harry Bates, to complete this project.

I do miss having photographs in a craft book, but the illustrations are so well made that it's hard to argue against the 'old school' feel of the book. It's definitely part of what makes it attractive.

This is a great reference book to add to our craft books section. My little C has already thumbed through it and has added to our crafty to-do list—which keeps getting longer and longer!

Book: Homemade: The Heart and Science of Handcrafts
Author: Carol Endler Sterbenz
Illustrator: Harry Bates

the heart of the matter


I went through my Flickr sets and decided to pick out my absolute favorite pieces and here they are. The fact that they are all white is no coincidence. I love white (surprise, right?). Interestingly our house and my wardrobe are anything but just white. I'm not afraid of color per se. I think that I just really like working with shapes and seeing how far I can take them. It's almost like color gets in the way of that—it's a distraction.

I've been thinking about the progress of my work and I feel like I've taken a bit of a detour. I need to get back on track. Taking stock and looking at what really interests me is the first step. If you notice some changes around here you'll know that this is why. I've been thinking about this so much that I even have had the urge to just delete my entire blog and start from scratch. Can you imagine that?! The scary thing... I'm still tempted. Very tempted.

Friday tidbits
The weather has finally cooled and I've started using my crocheted slippers. I just love them! They keep my feet so toasty and warm. I can't share that particular pattern with you, since it's copyrighted material, but maybe this one will work for you.

Spooky Halloween Silhouettes: Punch-Out Window Shadows for a Haunted Home - This book looks like it would be a fun and easy way to make something fun with the kids. I already showed my little C this and she begged me to do the same. The author, Jeff Rudell used to do some amazing work for Craftstylish.

Wendy Jung - My favorite find of the week. I absolutely love this shape–and yes, it doesn't hurt that it's white. Too bad she has nothing for sale at the moment.

Have a great weekend everyone!
• • •

Blog change —I've decided to stop using Disqus for the comments area. Disabling it means that I will unfortunately lose all the kind words that you've shared with me since I started using it. They will all be gone once the code is removed from the blog (it still is active as of this post). I regret the loss of your comments terribly, but I think that in the end it will be better for the blog. Please don't take it personally—I hope you understand.

EDIT - Ok... you can comment on my blog again! All I have to say is that I never should've used Disqus. Ugh.


I sat here for a while trying to express what I feel about Steve Jobs passing away and the words wouldn't come (at least not coherently). I think my reaction, is stronger than I expected and is also tied into the "aha! moment" I had last month and what I'm doing about it. Much of what he said in this commencement address, has resonated so much with me.

My first experience with a Mac: the computer lab at the University of Houston graphic design department. We had a cot on one end of the room so that we could take turns on the computers (not enough for everyone) and sleeping. Fun times that also included floppy disks and SyQuest cartridges (anyone remember those?). That feels like a lifetime ago.

And yet, I'm still on a Mac.

Holly's post is the best I've read today. In her words...

Have a great day everyone and thank you Steve!

• • •

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs

a little something for you

for october

I have a little freebie for this month. The details are in October's newsletter. If you haven't subscribe you can do so by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page. I only send out newsletters once a month, so don't worry I won't be flooding your inbox.

Yes, I said I wasn't going to add any fall-ish items to my Falling Leaves set... but I couldn't resist a little acorn for this one. Enjoy!

• • •
Thank you so much to eHow for including me in their 100 Shift List! So honored!
The full list of inspiring women is here.

Have a great day everyone!

falling leaves

falling leaves

I never can decided if October or March is my favorite month of the year. In any case, the mere fact that we can open all our windows and enjoy cool weather, without having to resort to the air conditioning, is wonderful—maybe more like awesome!

falling leaves

This is also my most productive time of the year. Coincidence? Probably not. I've always been the type to be affected by the weather. Which is a great thing because last week I was SO busy. I have several projects in the works—and yes, the book proposal is one of them (it's coming along—yay!).

falling leaves

And speaking of productivity here is a new set of cutting files that are now available in the shop. I didn't want to design a typical autumn set and I'm so happy how this little group turned out. They are available as SVG, DXG and PDF files.

Autumn may have inspired this Falling Leaves set, but it can be used throughout the year. Just changing the color of paper will make them look and feel completely different. As a bonus, and because the fall social season is starting, I added a wine tag so you can decorate it with any one of the images in this group. Any one of my flowers would be great for this too.

Happy Monday everyone!

• • •

For those of you that have asked:
I've been using only Paper Source paper in my projects during this year. I absolutely love their colors! I use both cover and text weight (depends on the project). If only they had larger sheets...