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Handmade Photo Journal

Handmade Photo Journal

I don’t normally do much with paper (besides doodle all over it), but last night I worked on a paper project. I put together my first book, a little journal. The covers are an 8 x 10 photograph that I cut in half, so the book is 5 x 8. The pages are a mix of different types of papers, which I thought was interesting and creative. SciFi Man just finds it puzzling. “How will you know where your graph paper is?” he asked, obviously pained. If I make a journal for him, I’ll be sure to keep it to a single type of paper, or at least group them into logical categories.

Photo Journal Detail: Emerson Quote

I used a lot of paper I just had lying around, and even a page from an old book. Some stationery and index cards found there way into the pages, too. I also printed out a few new pages with some of my favorite quotes on them. This would be a great project to recycle/re-purpose paper you find around your house. And who couldn’t use a personalized, handmade, eco-friendly journal?

I enjoyed putting the book together. It was easy and fun (although a pain to cut down all the papers to the right dimensions. I have added a fancy paper cutter to my wish list.) And now I’ve got all this fancy bookbinding glue, so I think I’ll make a few more.

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Work In Progress

Fabric for Napkins

I started a couple projects over the weekend, and it felt good to get back to creating. First, I started to make up a Cozy Kitten pillow, using Amy Butler’s free pattern. I had some soft pink fabric that had been sitting around, waiting for its purpose, and it seemed perfect for this project. I haven’t finished yet, so I’ll let you know if it’s still perfect when I do.

I also bought materials for and started work on a set of cloth napkins. In my family, we’ve always hauled out the cloth napkins for very special occasions, maybe a couple times a year. Any other day we’ll use paper napkins, or worse, paper towels folded in half. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impact my choices have on the planet. I’ve come to the conclusion that using up multiple paper towels every day just because I lack the fine motor skills necessary to maneuver a fork to my mouth without spilling all over myself is not a very good idea. Enter cloth napkins. I found some very soft ivory cotton, and some pretty fabrics in pink, brown, and green that will make lovely, reusable napkins. Since I plan to finish the edges with fancy bias tape, I also had to pick up I bias tape maker. I’ve been wanting one of those ever since I started playing with bias tape, anyway.

So, 2 projects started and 0 finished. I’ll keep you posted on my progress… Did you start any new projects this weekend?

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What Can You Do With Wine Corks?

Some of My Cork Collection

I live in an area that has lots of local wineries, which is a really wonderful. Out-of-town guests who visit me know that we will spend a day touring the wineries when they visit, and they don’t seem to mind that. There’s something really wonderful about sampling different wines, and then getting a cold bottle of the best one to drink on the deck. Sometimes the wineries have local bands playing, which makes things even nicer.

The abundance of good local wine, however, means that I have a giant pile of corks. Do you save your corks? If you do, what do you do with them? I have some kits to make cork boards, but I haven’t started that project yet. I’ve also turned them into ornaments. I did a little internet research, and turns out there’s a lot of creative things you can do with wine corks. Here are a few fun possibilities:

  • Craft Chi shows us how to use wine corks as stamps.
  • All Things Christmas has some simple directions for turning corks into ornaments. I used these instructions to turn corks from a girls’ weekend into mementos for the women who were there. These can be used as tree ornaments, hung from something else, or could even be a decoration to hang around the neck of a wine bottle.
  • This website has a huge pile of ideas for what to do with your corks. Some of my favorites: use the corks as “soil” for growing orchids and making a cork wall.
  • There’s also lots of directions out there for cork boards, wreaths, and trivets.

The Crafty Wino’s Corky Message Board
And if you just want to jump to the finished result, check out The Crafty Wino on Etsy. They have this clever Corky Message Board, as well as some other cool wine accessories.
Pink Polka Dot Poodle’s Cocobolo Wine Bottle Stopper
And while it technically doesn’t count as a cork-using craft, the wine bottle stoppers at Pink Polka Dot Poodle are so pretty, you should check them out anyway. You may need a fancy bottle stopper if you get overzealous about crafting with corks.

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Surprise Packages are the Best Kind

Pretty Theory Book Purse

The mailman surprised me with a box from Pretty Theory the other day, all because my mom ordered me a gift on Etsy. She sent me this fabulous book purse, made from an upcycled “Modern Clinical Psychiatry” book that apparently used to live in the State Attorney General’s office in Chicago. Given that I currently live in Illinois and have an interest in all things mental health, this purse was just too perfect! (Thanks, Mom.)

Pretty Theory has a variety of book purses made with books from all sorts of subjects. Right now they have some available for your favorite math nerd or seamstress. They got some other things, like gift tags and necklaces, too. You can keep tabs on Pretty Theory at their blog,

What’s the last gift you surprised someone with? My last one was a beautiful necklace from AntiGenre for my mom.

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Clean: Zen Cleansing

I got a new little book this week that I’m pretty excited about. It’s Clean: The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing by Michael de Jong. I put it on my Amazon wishlist awhile ago, not wanting to pay for it myself and not expecting anyone to buy it for me, but also not wanting to forget about it. Unexpectedly, my husband ordered it for me. (What a sweetheart. :))

It’s about cleaning mindfully. Or in other words, being present while you are cleaning, being aware of what you’re doing when you clean, and the impact cleaning has on yourself and your environment. As opposed to mindlessly cleaning (which has its charms sometimes, too.) In terms of being mindful of the effect your cleaning has on your environment, this book present an alternative to cleaning with harsh chemicals, which aren’t any good for the soil or the water, and probably aren’t good for your health, either. I’ve always wondered when I spray my kitchen counters with a bottle of some random “cleaning” chemical what sort of residue is going to end up on and in my food.

De Jong’s alternatives to chemical cleaning are the “five elements of Zen Cleansing:” baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and white vinegar. I frequently eat 4 of those elements, so I’m guessing they are less harmful for me and the planet. And from what this little book says, I can clean anything with them! I’m excited to start tackling my stains more naturally.

This book is certainly not high literature. But it is a fun, brief, engaging discussion of cleaning. And it provides loads of tips for how to use each element alone and combined with the others to clean just about everything you might ever need to clean, from rings in your tub to dirty mudflaps on your truck.

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Slip Stitch

I don’t particularly enjoy hand sewing– I want results fast! — by today’s project called for hand sewing a lining to a zipper using a slip stitch. Not the fastest method, but it actually didn’t take as long as I anticipated. If you need to brush up on your slip stitching, Bob Vila surprisingly has a helpful tutorial. Not much text, but great images that (at least for me) clearly indicate what needs to be done.

Updated 2/14/13: Apparently Bob Vila is no longer interested in teaching us how to sew. No worries… Michelle Patterns has an excellent tutorial for how to slip stitch a seam closed.

Today’s project that necessitated the slip stitching is a gorgeous wristlet made out of the same olive green brocade that I used in the geisha bag for my friend. It closes with a zipper (which I think you need in a wristlet–otherwise it’s too easy for things to fall out) and is lined (thank you, slip stitch) in black. I really love how this little wristlet came out, especially since my main objective was simply to put the scraps from the other project to use, instead of waste. How do you put your scraps to good use?