Monthly Archives: January 2012

Awesome Valentine Project

My friend Eileen received this awesome Valentine from her husband, Dan, a few years ago.  It is a heart-shaped box made of vinyl.

Did I mention that Dan made it himself?  He does custom car upholstery and he created this wonderful see-through box out of vinyl, piped in red, complete with zippers.  I love it!  It even has little locks on it.

The card inside is pretty adorable too.  A picture of a dog with the caption: “I know I’m just a mutt. Could I be yours?”  Awww.

Dan: I salute your creativity and craftsmanship!

Even their kitty, Jakey, admired the work that went into this Valentine.

Let your creativity shine!

Thanks for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts

Itty Bitty Cards

I’m terrible.  The last thing I need is more craft supplies.  But I saw these two tubs of little mini stamps at Joann and I couldn’t resist!

Each tub has 18 rubber stamps and a small stamp pad.  The stamp pad is pigment ink which isn’t my favorite – it is more painty than water-based dye ink and slower to dry.  But no worries, I have plenty of other stamp pads.  Plus loads of colored markers for coloring in these little images.

The stamps are only about 3/4 of an inch by 1 inch and the designs are sweet and whimsical.  “Hoppy Birthday” and “Bee Happy” are just two phrases that come to mind.

We just had Jean Steel, a wonderful speaker, as a guest presenter on the campus where I work and she spoke engagingly about choosing your attitude, having more fun, etc.  I went into the program with a bit of an eye-rolling skepticism but she won me over with her humor, personal stories, and her extremely positive attitude. Some of the things that really stood out for me during Jean’s speech  and ideas that I am working on including in my life are:

  • I choose my attitude – my attitude doesn’t have to match my circumstances
  • Share my gratitude (like with itty bitty cards)
  • Practice positive self-talk and affirmations (ooh, boy, I need to do more of this)
  • Keep flowers and/or plants on my desk or in my office
  • Offer assistance
  • Ask for help
  • Be respectful
  • Create kindness rituals (I love this idea)
  • Maintain a sense of humor
  • Practice self-care
  • Accept, value & appreciate differences

I decided these cute stamps would be perfect for making adorable mini-cards for my co-workers. Maybe I am just adept at finding the right reason for buying new crafting goodies, but  I have already cranked out a batch of cards and shared them with people at work to let them know I think they’re wonderful. I’m planning on keeping some of the stamps in my desk and I’m looking forward to making and sharing another bunch of cards.

It’s fun and fast making little cards.  I have some small envelopes and I measured card stock to fit inside.  It’s a great way to use up odds and ends of paper.

Did I mention fun?  They’re fun to make and from the feedback I’ve received they’re fun to receive.  I try not to underestimate how one small card might be just the thing to lift a friend’s spirits or give someone a smile.  I always benefit from some crafting time (or craft therapy as I like to call it) so it is really a win-win situation.

Thank you, Jean, for your wonderful presentation.

Thanks you, readers, for the visit – you’re awesome! 🙂


Filed under Crafts, Life

Heart Strings

Pretty Strings of Hearts

I’m in love with these strings of paper hearts.  Instead of a horizontal garland, these hang vertically with individual hearts twisting and turning gently at the slightest breeze.  They’re another use for pages from old books and sheet music (see here for a past project using vintage paper) and because they aren’t red or pink or too frilly and flowery, they don’t shout Valentine’s Day.  Which in my case means these beautiful heart strings will be hanging over my couch past that holiday.

Heart Strings Silhouette

What I really love about these heart strings is the story that goes with them.  My mom, seeing that I used some vintage sheet music in a previous post (the Punched Heart Garland, linked above) asked if I would like some of the pretty, old sheet music she had.  I said yes, but only if it was ok to use it in craft projects.  She said it was fine – better to have it put to some use.  She rummaged around and brought out a stack of old sheet music, most of which had belonged to her mother.

Old Sheet Music

When my mother’s mom, Norma Williams, was about 15 years old, she moved with her family to Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She started taking piano and organ lessons from the organist at the Presbyterian church. She also worked in a music store for a time and when someone wanted to hear what a certain piece of sheet music sounded like, she would play it for them.  She was an accompanist for vocal soloists and other instrumentalists.  The stack of music my mother gave me included pieces for voice and violin.  “Norma Williams” is written in careful script on the top corner of each piece.

After a time she became the assistant to the church organist.  Norma Williams married the pastor’s son, Hugh P. Cooper. When they married in 1924, the choir gave them a clock as a wedding present. Eventually the organist moved away and my grandmother took over the position.  The name of the organist?  Jennie Stevens Faw – my great-grandmother on my father’s side!

Sheet Music Covers for Some Hearts

I love that our families had this connection before my parents were even born.  I have an image of the invisible strings connecting all of us together.  My parents, Nancy Cooper and David Faw, were married in 1954, in the same church as her parents. The clock given to my maternal grandparents as a wedding present, sits on my parents’ china cabinet.

Now back to the crafting: this is another project that I saw on Pinterest and one that was stitched up on a sewing machine.  Since I still don’t count sewing as one of my strengths, I did this with vintage paper, double-sided tape and Baker’s twine and I’m very happy with how it turned out.  If you’d like to try the sewing version, please go here, to Dottie Angel, a very cool spot that tells about the peachy crafty life of Tif Fussell, the person from whom I adapted this project.

Closer Look at Vintage Paper Hearts

Heart String


Vintage Paper such as old sheet music

Colorful Covers from Old Sheet Music

Decorative Paper

Double-Sided Tape (I used Scotch brand permanent double-sided tape)

Glue Stick

Bakers Twine or other string


Pencil (optional, to trace heart shapes)

Scrap Card Stock (optional, to cut out and use as heart templates)

Large Heart Shaped Punch (optional for punching out heart shapes instead of cutting)


Either freehand or using a template, cut various sizes of hearts from vintage paper.  Cut them in two’s because you use pairs of hearts stuck together with the string in between. For every 6 or 8 hearts that are black type on paper, cut some from the pretty artwork on the covers of the sheet music or from other colorful decorative paper.

I make some strings from all the same size and some I mix up. Get a length of string and a stack of hearts.  Decide which surface of paper for each heart will be facing outward.

Stick a piece of tape down the center of one of a pair of paper hearts.   Put a few pieces of tape near the top of the curved parts of the heart or use a glue stick  for getting around the edges.

Lay the string over the tape down the center of the heart and press the string into the tape. Put another piece of tape over the string.

Lay the second (same sized) heart on the tape (or tape and glue) and press to adhere the paper hearts together with the string inside.

Intersperse a colorful heart or two in between all the black and cream hearts created from the vintage sheet music  or other vintage paper.  The sheet music front and back covers are good sources for pretty paper and interesting graphics.

Repeat until you have a lovely string of hearts.   Tie a little loop at the end of the string.

Tape the string up and make some more heart strings.  I like to lie on the couch under my heart strings and blow and watch the hearts spin gently.

Thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Crafts, Life

Happy Blog-Anniversary to Me!

Today is my one year blog anniversary!  I have a special anniversary request to everyone reading this: if you really want to make my day, post a comment and say hi or let me know where you are or something about you. That would be really be fantastic!

My other request is for those of you who receive this in an email:  please click on the site.  Even if you don’t feel like posting a comment I would love to see the stats for EVERYONE who reads this post.  I love looking at my stats and seeing how many people are reading my posts, which posts are popular and what people click on. But I’ve learned that the stats don’t count those of you that read the post in your email, and I don’t want to miss any of you.

Last year on January 16th I hit “publish” on my very first post.  Since then I’ve published 118 posts! More than I could have imagined.  The positive response has been tremendous and I find every aspect of blogging very satisfying.  Coming up with things I want to blog about, researching ideas, trying out crafts and recipes, taking pictures, writing about it and editing my posts and choosing the photos to illustrate it.  It is truly craft therapy for me.

The picture at the top of this post is a birthday candle in a celebratory Coffee Cake in a Coffee Mug – much like one of my earliest posts: Brownie in a Mug.  I’ll be posting my version of the recipe soon.  In the meantime, here is link to the recipe that I adapted.

Speaking of statistics, here are my top five most-viewed posts from the last year, starting with the fifth:

Art From The Heart. This post celebrates some of the handcrafted Valentine projects Rem and I make for each other.

Day 22: Fabric Covered Notebooks.  During 30 Days of Creativity in June I covered some notebooks with fabric and fusible webbing.

Mother’s Day Hat Card.  A hat-shaped card with swirled paper roses is very pretty and a bit different.

Marbleized Paper with Shaving Cream.  This technique is lots of fun and has really beautiful results.  It continues to get hits thanks to Pinterest.

Sunprint-Paper & Packing Tape Transfers on Decoupage Boxes. I was so excited when WordPress featured my blog with this post on their homepage Freshly Pressed. It generated TONS of traffic from all over the world, lots of comments and a bunch of new subscribers.

Ta da!

I also take pictures and work on things that ultimately don’t make it into a blog.  Some still might in a future post.

Here are a few pictures that haven’t made it into a post:

I’ve got loads of ideas and look forward to a new year of blogging.

Thanks for reading, your support means a lot to me.


Filed under Cooking, Crafts, Life

Needle Felted Heart Garland

A little crocheted heart garland inspired this project. I loved the sight of the little red hearts along the natural cord. I knew that I wasn’t going to learn how to crochet in order to make the crocheted version. So I decided to try something similar with needle-felted hearts.

Needle felting is a method of interlocking and compacting wool fibers by poking them over and over with a special barbed felting  needle.  If you decide to try needle felting, please be very careful with the needles because they are quite sharp (speaking from experience).

Needle Felted Heart Garland


Wool Roving (clean, combed and carded wool that hasn’t been spun into yarn – in this case, dyed pink or red)

Barbed Felting Needles I use single needles and a “pen” with a trio of needles in it

Dense Foam Pad

Scrap Card Stock or Cardboard for Heart Templates

Heart Punch (optional) or Scissors

Wooden Skewer (optional)

Bakers Twine I found lovely twine in a local shop but you can get it here: (Divine Twine)

Large Needle  with eye large enough to fit bakers twine, for threading the twine through the hearts


First make two templates for your finished heart.  I used a heart punch to make a one-inch heart out of card stock.  I also used it to put a heart-shaped hole in a small piece of cardboard.  I used these two templates along the way to guide the size and shape of the finished hearts.

Pull off two tufts of wool roving.  Fold the end of one piece in half over your index finger, pull it off carefully (still folded) and fold it lengthwise.  Set it on the foam pad and poke at the folded end repeatedly with the needle pen (3 needles held together in a pen-like handle) or with a single felting needle. Leave the unfolded end un-felted. Move the needles up and down into the wool. This causes the wool fibers to start becoming interlocked together.

Fold the second piece and start to felt it the same way.  Now lay one piece over the other crossways.

Give it a few good jabs with the needle.  Flip it over and poke it a few more times.

It’s starting to look a bit like a heart.  It is still pretty loose and I want a more solid, firm shape.  Take the cardboard with the heart-shaped hole in it and put it right on top of the wool you’ve started felting.

Jab your felting needle into the wool.  I find it very satisfying  just working away at it.  It makes an interesting little crunchy sound as you poke at the wool and the foam block.

Turn the heart over, put the template over it and felt the other side.

With a single needle I pay particular attention to the center top part of the heart (the cleavage, for lack of a better description), defining it with some well-aimed jabs.

When you take off the heart-hole template you’ll find the edges aren’t very cleanly defined.  This is when you use the heart made of card stock.  Set the paper heart over the wool heart and carefully felt the edges of the wool heart to align them with the paper heart.

Wrap the loose tails around the shape and felt them in place.  Go all around the shape, trying to make it fairly even.

Sometimes while doing a larger shape I use a wooden skewer as a tool to help fold the wool in place although with this small heart it isn’t needed as much.  You can also use the tip of the skewer to hold your shape in place, keeping your fingers away from the sharp felting needle.

If you find a part of your wool heart is flimsy or too thin, get another small tuft of wool roving and wrap it over the thin part and felt it in place.

Once you’ve got a wool heart you are satisfied with, you can trim it for a somewhat smoother, less fuzzy appearance but for this project I didn’t think it made much difference.

Keep making hearts until you’ve got a bunch.

Now thread your large needle with the bakers twine and thread the needle and twine through the hearts.  I left a space of about 4 inches between each heart.  Once I had them where I wanted, I felted in the area where the twine went through.  This helped to keep the hearts in place along the strand of twine.

If you don’t have a needle large enough for your twine, you can lay the twine over each heart and add a tuft of wool over the twine and felt it in place.

Now find a sweet spot in your home to hang up the garland.  Doesn’t it look great?  Or share the love and pass the garland on to  someone else.

Thanks so much for the visit!


Filed under Crafts

Crayon Wax Paper Hearts

It’s been a long time since I smelled this oh-so-familiar scent: melting crayons.  It is a scent from childhood and it brought back memories: the taste and texture of graham crackers dunked in apple juice, the smell of play-doh, the distinct taste of white paste (you know you tasted it too!).

I think most of us have made wax paper and crayon creations in the past.  Mine have been of the autumn leaf/crayon-shavings variety. These hearts are even more elemental than that.  Layer crayon shavings between two sheets of waxed paper.  Sandwich the waxed paper between sheets of parchment paper (or brown paper shopping bags) to protect the board and iron.  Once they’re cool, trace and cut out hearts in a variety of sizes.  Tape some bakers twine to each heart and hang it in window.  That’s it!

These hearts look so pretty in a window with sunlight shining through them, or hanging in front of a mirror.  I saw the beautiful originals on Pinterest and they’re from Martha Stewart.  Try as I might, I just can’t achieve the same results as Martha.   The ones on her site aren’t blotchy and are more evenly colored.  I think I should have used more crayon shavings.  To be honest, I’m also not going to sew a red silk thread on each heart to hang it up, like Martha did.  Tape and string works fine for me.

Crayon Wax Paper Hearts



Hobby Knife to shave off bits of crayons

Wax Paper

Parchment Paper – Large brown paper bags will also work

Iron & Ironing Board



Scratch Paper  optional: to make heart patterns for cutting

Bakers Twine


Large Heart Shaped Punch (optional)


Set iron to medium-high heat.

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on ironing board.

Pull out a long length of wax paper and fold it in half.

Fold back the top layer of wax paper and shave crayons onto bottom layer of wax paper. For a more Martha heart, use only one color crayon per heart or colors that are analogous (very close together on a color wheel) and use plenty of shavings. Mine all had several colors of crayon.

Fold the top layer of wax paper back over the shaved bits of crayon.

Carefully clean off any bits of crayon that have dropped onto the ironing board.

Cover wax paper and crayons with another piece of parchment paper.

Iron the layered papers, moving iron constantly.  Keep ironing until all the the wax is melted and spread out.

Let cool.

Trace and cut out different sized hearts.

If desired, punch smaller hearts with a heart-shaped punch.  It works best with the punch if you layer a piece of card stock with the waxed paper before punching.

Cut bakers twine in different lengths and tape to hearts.

Tie lengths of bakers twine with hearts to another piece of bakers twine.

Hang in a window and enjoy the sun coming through the hearts.  I put mine in the window next to my dad’s recliner.

Thanks, as always, for your visit and comments.


Filed under Crafts

Ideas for Valentine’s Projects: Revisiting Previous Posts

I know some of you have been reading my blog from the earliest posts (and I am so pleased and tickled that you do).  But other readers have only started reading more recently, so may have missed these older posts with great projects for Valentine’s Day.  Click on the highlighted links to go to the specific posts.  Even if you saw them when I first posted them, they’re worth another visit.

The Alphabet Valentine  isn’t too sugary or flowery. You will need a set of alphabet rubber stamps.

The Doodle Heart Background would make a wonderful Valentine.  Write a sweet love note for your Valentine and surround it with doodled hearts.

Chocolate is always a winner and a  Brownie In A Mug  (or two) would be a nice Valentine treat to share.

The Paper-Strip-Heart Valentine is beautiful and much easier than it looks.

You could make a beautiful card using the Vegetable Printed Paper technique.

A small Embossed Tin would be a lovely way to present a small gift or a love note.  Or both.

If you want a more elaborate Valentine, the Tri-Shutter-Card is it. You can embellish this design as much as you want.

Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce is a decadent and delicious combination and a sweet treat for your honey on Valentine’s Day.

If you want to make a bunch of Valentine’s, the Masterboard Valentine Tag is a good way to go.

To finish up how about another chocolate recipe?  Chocolate is dear to my heart and these Mocha Guinness Cupcakes are a wonderful balance of rich, earthy chocolate/beer cake, filled with luscious semi-sweet chocolate ganache and topped with mocha buttercream. Delicious!

I am creating more Valentine’s projects for this year: stay tuned!

Thanks for the visit.


Filed under Cooking, Crafts

Fluttering Hearts Valentine Card

This is an easy Valentine card that looks great. It is another idea from Pinterest and I’d planned on giving sewing another try.  I don’t sew.  I’m not really good with machines.  The card that I have adapted this from used a sewing machine and I liked it enough to try it.  But when my mom’s machine was on the fritz I decided it was a message that I should stick with my non-sewing craft-style.  So I used a stapler instead!

If you are not sew-phobic you might want to see how Ashley at The Creative Place does it.  Or just take a peek at her site anyway because she’s got loads of cute and creative projects.

I’m delighted with how this came out.  I’ve done other cards with rows of small circles or squares but stapling a second heart on top of each heart glued to the card and bending it upwards (like the wings of a butterfly about to fly away) gives a new, dimensional look to the design.

Fluttering Hearts Valentine Card


(Sorry, I was still planning on sewing – stapler not pictured)

Patterned Paper

Heart Punch (mine is from Martha Stewart and is 1 inch by 1 1/8 inches)

White and Red (or other solid color) Card Stock (yeah, I forgot the red paper in the picture too )

Paper Trimmer or Scissors

Adhesive (I use Tombo Mono double-sided adhesive)

Stapler and Staples


Punch 24 hearts from the patterned paper, 2 each of 12 different designs.

Cut a 4 inch by 5 inch piece of white card stock.

Cut an 8.5 by 5.5 inch piece of red (or other color) card stock, score at 4.25 inches and fold into a card.  This is half a sheet of 8.5 x 11 inch card stock.

Arrange 12 of the different-patterned hearts on the white card front.  Adhere the hearts.

Fold the remaining 12 hearts in half.

Staple each heart on top of it’s matching heart on the white card front.

Adhere the card front to the red card stock

Sign the back of the card.  Admire your lovely creation.  Share it with someone you love.

I tried this design out with a larger heart punch, about 1.75 inches across at the widest part.  It uses 6 double hearts with the card oriented landscape instead of portrait. I should have cut the white card front slightly wider and slightly shorter.  It takes two staples for each heart and I think the smaller hearts make a sweeter card, but this still works.

Thank you for your visit.  Please let me know if you try out this card – I’d love to see what your Fluttering Hearts Card looks like.


Filed under Crafts

Punched Heart Garland with Vintage Paper

Here is a sweet and simple little garland you can make. I was inspired by something similar to this when I first got on Pinterest.   I started working on this garland without going back to look at the original inspiration and I’m happy with my version.  Now that I’ve looked at it again, I might craft another garland using a larger heart-shaped punch.

What I think makes this interesting is the paper.  Little rectangles of paper cut from, in this case, old books, old sheet music and an old magazine.  If I had an old dictionary I was willing to tear up I would have used pages from that.  Newsprint would work too.

A few days ago, Rem and I went shopping at a wonderful place called The East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse. They are, as their website says:

An ecological treasure trove of art & craft materials, educational supplies, vintage furniture, home décor, paper goods, fabric, and much more. Founded in 1979 by two Oakland public school teachers, the Depot promotes solid waste diversion and resource conservation through the Depot store and environmental education programs

The mission of the East Bay Depot is to divert waste materials from landfills by collecting and redistributing discarded goods as low-cost supplies for art, education, and social services in our Depot Store. The educational mission is to increase the awareness of school children and the general public regarding the green benefits of reusing materials.

I searched around and found a copy of Life magazine from 1963, a little pamphlet called The Revised Wine Cook Book with “favorite recipes of California Winemakers”, also from 1963, an Arithmetic Drill Book from 1924, a 1952 book of English Grammar Exercises called Brighter Grammar and a booklet of sheet music with the cover missing.

The pages in these old publications are a yellowed-ivory from age.  The different content gave me a nice variety of text, numbers and music for my garland.  My mom mentioned finding newspapers in the recycling bin at the Post Office recently when she was sending a package. She needed a little more packing material and found a Chinese-language newspaper.  I would have loved to include that in this project.

Garage sales, flea markets and thrift shops are all good resources for interesting old books.

A variation on this project that would also work well is double-sided printed paper with a Valentine’s Day theme.

Punched Heart Garland


Vintage Paper

Heart-Shaped Punch (mine is a little over 1/2 an inch across at the widest part)

Adhesive (I like Tombo Mono double-sided adhesive)

Baker’s Twine (I used Divine Twine)

Paper Trimmer or Scissors

(See our new giant red clock from IKEA?  I love it!)


Cut out a bunch of rectangles.  Mine are 1.75  inches wide by 2.75 inches long. You will fold about 1/4 inch of paper over the string, so if there is a design or text you want at the top of your rectangle, keep that in mind.

Punch a heart approximately 1.5 inches from the bottom edge of each rectangle.

I like to see where the heart is going to be so I flip the punch over and look at the bottom so I can see exactly where I’m going to punch out the heart. (I just noticed the sticker on the bottom of my punch.  It says ” PLACE YOUR PUNCH ON DESKTOP TO OPERATE”.  Oh.)

Run some double-sided adhesive along the top edge of each rectangle.

Fold a quarter inch of paper with the adhesive over the baker’s twine. Finished length of each rectangle is 2.5 inches.

Leave about the width of one flag between each flag.  Repeat until you are out of flags or string or you decide your garland is long enough.

Now go find a place to hang this sweet and simple little garland.  Mine took the place of our string of Christmas cards as we slowly transition away from Christmas.  It would look lovely on a headboard, over a mirror or desk, or in a window.

Thanks for coming by.


Filed under Crafts

Happy New Year!

Photo by Susie B

Wishing you all a very, Happy New Year.

Sťastný Nový Rok

Bonne Année

Shana Tova

Felice Anno Nuovo

Sal Mubarak

Bblwyddyn Newydd Dda

Writing a blog is very fulfilling to me.  I learn  so much from trying out new things and researching new ideas as well as from the comments and suggestions I get from you.  When I read other blogs I have a much greater understanding and appreciation of the time and energy it takes.

This has been an unexpected haven for me.  Focusing the blog has given me an escape from the tough reality of my dad having cancer.  But even before he was sick it was a wonderful new way for me to use my creative energy.  Working on craft projects and recipes, taking photos and figuring out how to explain a technique is extremely satisfying.

I received a lovely email report from WordPress with statistics about my blog in 2011.   This was great:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 19,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Thank you for reading my blog.  Thanks for coming back and reading it time after time.  I appreciate every one of you.  I love the comments and the “likes” and the subscribers.  I am delighted when you share it.  I’m touched by messages I receive from readers I know and from people I’ve never met.  Even if you haven’t commented, I look at the stats for every post I write and see how many times it has been viewed.

I’m working on new posts for 2012 (Valentine’s  Day Projects coming soon) and will be celebrating my one-year blogiversary on January 16.  As always, thank you for stopping by.


Filed under Life