Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Big Thank You!

Before the holiday festivities are over, I want to say thank you to Ann Martin of All Things Paper for featuring me not once, but twice on her blog last week. The traffic on my Etsy store has soared during that time. You're the best, Ann!

All Things Paper is one of my favorite blogs--I could spend hours perusing and pinning all the cool things I see there. And by "I could" I mean "I do." Every day. Seriously.

While you're there, check out the quilling that she does to decorate marriage licenses and to make snowflakes. It's spectacular!

It's the Post-Christmas Blog Post Sale

I'm very far behind in all my postings. That is the result of getting a nasty cold right before Christmas (not recommended--and still fighting it) and then hosting my family for the holiday, but there's been a lot going on this holiday season, so I'll try to catch you up with several quick posts.

First, I wanted to introduce you to my next-door neighbor, Debbie. If you want to throw a party, you need to talk to Debbie. The woman has decorations for every occasion (and sometimes for no occasion at all) and she's not afraid to use them.

That's why when my baby got married last month, I asked Debbie to help me throw a reception for the new couple. We turned my living room into an elegant dinner club set off by cranberry-colored napkins that Debbie and I monogrammed with her fancy-dancy embroidery machine. Everyone wiped their face with class because of us!

Anyway, Debbie's Christmas decorations this year were spectacular as usual.

She went with a woodland theme,

with furry little owls...

   ...and burlap poinsettias...

...and blue turquoise crosses.

And underneath the tree, pretty pale turquoise packages decorated with pinecones from the giant trees in our yards.

I wanted to make something for Debbie for all the help she gave me, so I made her this coordinating wreath.

It has rustic woodland animals, some turquoise ornaments, and even a couple of moose (meese?)...

and I made it from pages of Michener's Texas, because Debbie's family has deep Texas roots, descended from Texas Rangers, King Ranch cowboys, and such. In fact, Debbie got those pretty turquoise crosses from the King Ranch.

The center of this wreath is replaceable, same as mine, so she and I will have to start working on Valentine centers next!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Book Exchange 2012--Crybabies Not Allowed

It may come as a shock, but I like books. OK, maybe it doesn't come as a shock. This blog is all about books, after all.

But I can't help it. I come from a family of bibliophiles. I also come from a family of lying, cheating thieves. Case in point. Tonight we met to celebrate Christmas--and to complete our annual book exchange, a no holds barred, take no prisoners game of Dirty Santa where all the gifts are books.

Here we are gathered around the book pile getting ready to start.

And we are not just bibliophiles, but geeky bibliophiles, to boot. Here are members of the family Skype-ing in from Houston, Dallas, and Baltimore in order to take part in the festivities.

The rules work like this. You get to pick a book from the pile and open it or steal a book that someone else has already opened. It's a pretty good idea to pick a known quantity given the varying quality of the books in the pile. Case in point. Tonight What the Dog Saw and Sweet Tooth touched spines with The Bottecelli Secret and You Betcha. Stealing is often the best strategy.

Here is what I came away with. Heck yeah!

I stole it from my cousin who stole it from Captain America via Skype. Maybe this will become a cooking blog.

Also making its expected  appearance was the perennial favorite, Build and Repair With Concrete featuring Don Knotts. Each year the "winner" of this books gets to sign the inside cover and bring it back next year disguised as best they can. One year my cousin hollowed out the inside of an oversized children's book and hid the Concrete book inside just to throw us all off the scent. This year my uncle took it home, but I secretly think he enjoys reading it while it's at his house.

This year I decided to make a Glenda the Good Witch foil to the Wicked Witch of the West Concrete book, just in case there was anyone who is as challenged as I with making a dent in their books off the shelves list and was just looking for a little decoration.

I made another Read book.

This one was rather challenging, though. The pages, though not the oldest I have folded, were definitely some of the most brittle, even more so than the Bounty book. The effect, however, was really kind of cool, I thought. The word was definitely not as smooth as other ones I've done, but the broken, imprecise folds gave it a neat texture, as if to say this book is truly vintage and has seen its share of years.

Here is my cousin who stole the book from her mother who stole the book from my mother. There is no honor among thieves--or my family.

Just a lot of love.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa Got Run Over By a Pair of Fiskars

Last February when I came home from vacation with this
and book folding fever, my first task was to find a source for books to cut up. I started at antique book shops. Stupid idea because a) antique books are too pretty to cut up and b) people who own antique books know how pretty they are and charge an arm and a leg.

And then I discovered (cue celestial music):

 Until then I didn't know that Dollar Tree sold books and best of all

So about three times a week I would have lunch at Whataburger and then meander across the parking lot to Dollar Tree to see what was available that day. This goes a long way of explaining why my attic looks the way it does.

Anyway, one fine March day I marched in and found that the shelves were full of this:

I instantly fell in love with this book because it had flying reindeer on the cover...

 and on the inside great illustrations

like this
 and this

So I bought one...

ok, maybe two...

Ok, four.

But hey,

My first Santa project was to make a secret book box. By day it is an innocent copy of a holiday classic lying on a shelf.

but at night it becomes...

...a festive M&M holder!
This was one of my first experiences with scrapbook paper. And also balsa wood. I love balsa wood. It's so easy to work with, it makes me feel like a master carpenter.
My next project was to make the bookmobile that was on the front of The Repurposed Library. It was a fight between me and the hot glue gun the entire night, and although the glue gun won several battles, I won the war. 

 For someone without an artistic bone in her body, I found this to be a fun project. I liked choosing where to put the loops and where to add a little fanfare. I decided to make one whole section out of the illustrations which ended up looking really cool.

Now I'm left with these...


I've been thinking about using one of them to make a wreath. I'll use regular pages for the outer circle and the illustrated pages for the inner circle. But that leaves me with one more.

It's too little to really fold a word or make a vase. Ideas anyone?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Books + Music = Alleluia

One of the first things that people usually say when they see one of my books is, "Oh I used to make Christmas trees out of Reader's Digests"...

or "We made angels out of hymnals when I was a kid."

This year I decided to revisit the hymnal idea. I play in a bell choir at my church, so I made a gift for Lee, our director. I started with an old purple(!) Methodist hymnal.

The next thing I had to do was decide what word to fold. I thought about Ring or Bells but I was looking for a longer word. I thought about Hallelujah, but that one was actually too long. So instead I went with

What's cool is that since the pages edges are already stained purple, the word really stands out. See?

Here's our bell choir ringing our Christmas piece. If you look carefully you can see Lee (or at least her arms) at the far right.

She's a great director! Can I get an alleluia?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Supper Club Crafting

Tonight was our annual Supper Club Christmas Hayride. Thank goodness it is only annual. I am stuffed to the gills. It is a progressive dinner each year, with appetizers at one house, dinner at the next, and dessert at the last--and all of my friends can cook! Not a bad morsel had all night.

The real fun part is in between houses we take a hayride through the neighborhood and look at the lights, like these perennial favorites. In this one every window has a different scene and the front yard is stuffed with fun.

This guy hangs lights from the tall, tall pine trees that grace his front yard. (You can see how high these go. That's the top of his roof near the bottom of the picture.) He works for the same company that I do. I asked him once how he gets those lights up that high and he said that it was a great secret. So everyone continues to try to guess. My latest theory is a bow and arrow, but I heard someone tonight posit tennis racquets. Until we figure it out, I will just enjoy them and their mystery.

We supper clubbers usually give each other little gifts. Here's what I gave this year.

Yes, definitely a Pinterest-y Christmas.

I wrote about making trees like this before, but I think I've gotten better with practice.

First of all, I've learned where the glue goes, so now the layers pop. I also alternated the book pages with left over scrapbook paper to good effect, I think.And I added a loop at the top in case someone wants to hang it.

The inspiration for the Christmas ball came from one of my favorite blogs, All Things Paper. I took that idea and added circles of book pages, because, I think we all know that everything goes better with book pages.

 (And seriously, check out these artichoke lights by the same artist, Allison Patrick. Love those!)

Obviously I'm still on a turquoise kick because the ball and the tree both match my latest book.

How did I make that happen? Well, it's a great secret, but I can guarantee you that there were no tennis racquets involved.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Turquoise anyone?

I am still not feeling red and green for Christmas this year, so I grabbed this turquoise book off the shelf...

...turquoise with a brown spine.

But then I found turquoise scrapbook paper with sparkly snowmen and snowflakes.

And so I made this.

If I had one of those pink books from my my mom's tablescape next to this one, we could have ourselves a real Gidget and Moondoggy Christmas.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Pink Christmas

My mom was the lucky winner of the silent auction for the 1 Corinthians Triptych, Remember that one?

So she added some angels and some pink ribbon...

And a nativity scene...

...and a few pink and white poinsettias

and voila! A beautiful Christmas tablescape.

It's gorgeous, Mama!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Because This Is NOT a Cooking Blog

This is not a cooking blog--on purpose. Not that I don't like cooking. I do like cooking, but my techniques are somewhat suspect.

When I was in sixth grade I gave a cooking demonstration at a 4H contest. My recipe was Cake Mix Cookies, and I got a good score, with the main critique being that should refrain from licking my fingers and the spoon as I cooked. Who knew? Licking my fingers and especially the spoon was something my mother taught me early. It was the only reason to cook, I thought, and my opinion has not changed in oh these many years.

Today I went to a cookie exchange. If this were a cooking blog, I would show pictures of the White Chocolate-Dipped Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies in varying stage of development. Like these
or maybe these 

Or maybe I'd try to impress you with how much my cookies look like the picture in Christmas with Southern Living 2006, which, despite what many cooks will tell you, is way more important than how something tastes. Especially if you going to a cookie exchange with 20 other women all bringing their prettiest Christmas cookies.

But I am a paper crafter, so I will show you this. The paper bags I brought my cookies in.

I was inspired by this pin, but made mine out of yellowed RDCB's pages and a tiny star of sparkly scrapbook paper.

I did not lick anything in that picture. Not the yellowed pages, the sparkly stars, nor the paper bags. I am taking the fifth on all the other pictures and also on the beaters which are not pictured.