Monthly Archives: April 2012

Jewel Box Envelope & Card

This is an embellished envelope that looks like a little box.  With a card tucked inside it might be just the thing for Mother’s Day to let mom know what a treasure she is to you.

This envelope is made from card stock and embellished to enhance the illusion of being three-dimensional. I used washi tape, stick-on gems and colored markers for the decorations.

I made a template here for you to make your own jewel box envelope and card.

Jewel Box Envelope & Card

Supplies:

Template

Card Stock

Patterned Paper for front of card (optional)

Scissors

Bone Folder (Useful but optional)

Pencil & Eraser

Ruler

Sticky Tape or other stronger adhesive for the flaps

Double-sided adhesive (My favorite is Tombo permanent)

To Embellish: Washi Tape, Stick-On Gems, Gold or Silver Pen, Colored Markers

Directions:

Print out template and cut out pattern pieces.  Carefully trace around the envelope pattern onto colored card stock. Use a bone folder to score where the dotted lines are indicated on the pattern.  These are fold lines.  If you don’t have a bone folder you can use a letter opener, ruler or popsicle stick to score the fold lines.

Cut out envelope.  Another way to do this is to use tiny dabs of adhesive to adhere the pattern directly to the card stock and cut out the card stock right on the lines.  Tracing around the pattern makes it just slightly larger than the original.

Don’t assemble the envelope yet – it will be easier to do the embellishment before it is assembled.

The card that goes into the envelope can be either a folded card or a tag style card.  In the photos for this project I made a folded card.  If you want a folded card, fold a piece of card stock and put one straight edge of the card pattern right on the fold.  Trace the card and cut out leaving the fold intact.

Washi tape is a great decoration for this Jewel Box envelope.  I picked out a narrow tape with two thin stripes of color and a wider tape with a floral print design.  If you haven’t yet given in to the lures of washi tape, you could cut narrow strips of decorative paper to embellish the envelope.

Crease the envelope piece along the fold lines to see how it fits together but don’t glue it yet.

With a ruler and pencil, lightly draw a line down the center of the front and back of the envelope where it comes to a point.

Refer to photos – this is harder to describe than to do!  Line a piece of washi tape up with the bottom edge of the front, going across the pencil line.  Lightly mark where the pencil line is and cut the washi tape right along the pencil line.  Smooth the tape into place and do the same on the other half so the two pieces meet together in a V in the middle.

Continue to place your washi tape keeping it lined up with the bottom edge of the piece.  I found it easiest to cut or tear a piece of tape slightly longer than what was needed for each section, lay it lightly in place, mark the center line in pencil and lift it up to trim along the line than smooth it back in place.  Once the washi tape is all in place, erase pencil lines.

Fold the envelope together to see where the lid of the box will be when the envelope is assembled.  Keep the trim below that line.

After you finish embellishing the front and back of the envelope, continue to the lid portion, marking with pencil in the same way.

For the lid, I made a diamond shape with the washi tape, following the lines of the paper. I added some bling with stick-on jewels, pearls and flat, sparkly stickers.

Add additional embellishment with gold and colored markers.

Once you’ve finished decorating, fold the envelope and adhere the tabs into place.  Even with careful cutting and folding, you may need to trim places that aren’t quite aligned.

I used decorative paper for the front of my card.  I was delighted to find this great hexagon printed paper in my stash from a recent shopping trip to Scrapbook Territory.  It is Wortley Village 12×12 Victoria Park Paper  by Lily Bee Design.  It went perfectly with the colors and shape of the project.  It’s nice when something works out so well.  Simple trace the shape of the card on decorative paper, cut it out and adhere to the front of the card.

Another variation would be to use washi tape to add a border around the edges of the card.

You can finish the card off by putting a heart on the inside.

Be sure to write a lovely message inside the card to go in your beautiful Jewel Box Envelope.

Thanks for the visit.

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Keeping Busy

Spring, in my part of the world, is a time of warming weather and rapid plant growth.  Bees buzz around beautiful, blooming flowers collecting nectar, and birds sing in the trees.

Plants send out tender green shoots and tiny leaves unfurl and seem to grow larger in hours instead of days.

In the face of all this vitality and life it is especially hard to see my dad decline.  He was diagnosed late in May of 2011. So last spring, before we had any idea what was going on, the cancer in him was growing. You can read more about it here. He has now been through a series of grueling treatments.  He was on a feeding tube that has been removed and he’s eating again.  But the illness, chemo and radiation have all taken their toll.

This life limiting illness has been terrible and it is rough watching my dad suffer. My mom has been right there with him, his partner and caregiver through every minute.  Even the five days when he had C. diff. and was in the hospital she was by his side for part of every day.  That was not a respite because he was so sick and we were so worried – anxiety is not a restful state.   It is hard seeing her suffer too.

Now he and my mom have decided to stop the treatment and he is at home under hospice care.  A scan in November showed that the cancer that started in his esophagus had spread to his lungs.  He isn’t eating very much and his strength and stamina have diminished.  He sleeps a lot. Cancer and the treatment he received have aged him.  Chemo has taken most of his hair, beard and mustache.  He has lost weight and he doesn’t look quite like himself.

Yet I’ve found that I get used to each change.  I see the wispy hair and hear the raspy voice but in spite of that I see my dad.  He is funny and ornery.  He is social and loves having his family and especially his wife close by.  We sit by his recliner in turn and visit with him and hold his hand.  We bring meals and recently most of the family gathered for a potluck Easter brunch.  Those who couldn’t make it for brunch visited within the week.

Though I’m in a choir  that sings for those on the thresholds of life, he doesn’t want me to sing for him; he wants me to make him laugh.  I save up funny stories and recount them with animated expressions and silly voices.  He likes to tease and he calls me a smart mouth but I believe he likes that I’ve learned it from him. He loves their dog, Molly, and enjoys watching her antics.

I heard someone use the term “pre-grieving” or anticipatory grief. We feel sad about what has already been lost and as we anticipate the further loss. I have two thoughts about anticipatory grief.   First, I DO feel sorrow, especially when my caring boyfriend or a friend offers a concerned ear. But most of the time I need to make some space for myself away from the sadness. I don’t mean in a stuffing-down-my-feelings way but in a putting-them-to-the side-so-I-can-function at work way.

Most importantly: my dad is still here.  I don’t want to put a lot of focus on grieving.  I want to make the most of every visit to be with my parents without adding to their anxiety or worries.

This is where the keeping busy comes in.  I do my best to maintain a regular physical exercise routine. In a good week I workout at the gym three mornings before work, attend a Jazzercise class one evening with one sister (though she goes more often) and walk every Saturday with my other sister.

Another stress-management tool is my crafting and blogging.  Sitting at my wonderful new desk and spending time creating something is a great distraction that takes my time and energy and results in something that gives me pleasure.  Making something with my hands is usually very calming and brain relaxing.  I sit focused on a project and everything else fades away…at least for an hour or two.

Even though having a loved one fighting cancer has become a lens through which I see things, I know that there is still much to celebrate.  I know my dad wants us to be happy.

Having this blog has been an outlet for me to express and share creative ideas and also to connect with friends and other creative people online.  Being able to communicate the experience of my dad’s illness here with you means I’m able to ease the burden of sadness because I’m not carrying it alone.  The love and support I receive in return is a blessing.

I saw this quote on Pinterest recently and printed a copy for my parents which is now on their fridge.  I need to print it out for myself:

Peace.  It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work.  It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. ~ Unknown

Thank you for stopping by.  Thank you for your support.

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Where In The World Are You?

Check out this cool new feature that WordPress has added to the stats for a blog: a list of the countries of the readers who have viewed the blog along with a world map showing those counties highlighted!  Sadly, I haven’t figured out how to share the map, but the list of countries is below.

This list represents people who have checked out my blog in the last seven days:

Country Views
United States FlagUnited States 348
United Kingdom FlagUnited Kingdom 35
Australia FlagAustralia 26
Germany FlagGermany 22
Canada FlagCanada 18
India FlagIndia 13
New Zealand FlagNew Zealand 12
Italy FlagItaly 9
Malaysia FlagMalaysia 6
Turkey FlagTurkey 6
Philippines FlagPhilippines 5
Romania FlagRomania 5
Indonesia FlagIndonesia 4
Pakistan FlagPakistan 4
Egypt FlagEgypt 3
Serbia FlagSerbia 3
Mauritius FlagMauritius 3
Brazil FlagBrazil 3
Spain FlagSpain 3
Maldives FlagMaldives 3
Ireland FlagIreland 3
Brunei Darussalam FlagBrunei Darussalam 2
Bulgaria FlagBulgaria 2
Malta FlagMalta 2
Bahrain FlagBahrain 2
Peru FlagPeru 2
Argentina FlagArgentina 2
Netherlands FlagNetherlands 2
Lebanon FlagLebanon 1
Switzerland FlagSwitzerland 1
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of FlagMacedonia 1
Ukraine FlagUkraine 1
Taiwan, Province of China FlagTaiwan 1
Czech Republic FlagCzech Republic 1
Belgium FlagBelgium 1
South Africa FlagSouth Africa 1
Croatia FlagCroatia 1
Hong Kong FlagHong Kong 1
Nepal FlagNepal 1
Guam FlagGuam 1
Denmark FlagDenmark 1

Do you see your country on the list?  I can’t tell you how delighted I am to think of all of you out there reading my blog.  I’m sitting here in my little apartment in Northern California, writing on my laptop and you are reading it in Croatia or Peru or India.

So I’m starting my “Reader Roll Call”.  I request that you take a moment and add a comment.  Write down your first name and the county you are in.  If you are in the US, go ahead and put the state in too.  Feel free to add any other comment, but I’d really like to see some of you comment who have never done it before.  Go ahead, stand up and be counted!

A big to the folks at WordPress for putting up these cool country stats.  You guys rock!

For my readers: thank you to every single one of you for stopping by! If this was your first time, please come back for another visit.  If you decided to comment, you have my gratitude. I’ll be watching for YOUR country in my stats.

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Big Craft Clean-Up Part II

Here is a quick update on my Big Craft Clean Up.  I picked up the shelf unit  (or “9 cube organizer”) from Target that I wanted and Rem and I assembled it.  I also bought three black fabric bin/drawers and two square baskets to hold (and hide) some of our stuff and keep it neat.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized the baskets were the same style as the large one that holds my printed paper!

Some of our collection of candles and candle holders look nice on their own shelves.  A few books on a shelf help disguise the DSL modem. A pretty celadon green plate from Cost Plus World Market with a cluster of IKEA candles amid polished black stones sits up on top of the shelves along with a wine rack.  Other things including more candles, matches, and barbecue tools  are tucked away.

It is such an improvement!

From this:

To this:

I like how it is aligned along the wall under the counter.  A beautiful photograph from a friend looks great on the wall above the shelves and the whole area is much less cluttered looking.

I am really loving my new desk and having things organized and accessible.  In the past when I would get around to cleaning it all up and putting my supplies away I would avoid crafting for awhile because I didn’t want to make a mess again after all the effort. Now it is so easy to use the things I need in nearly every project, like scissors and adhesive, then slip them back into their drawers and neat little organized trays. The dining table remains a table for dining and the whole room is more calm and peaceful. What a pleasure.

Thanks for the visit.

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Easter 2012

Here are the blown eggs I decorated this year. This peacock egg is two-sided with a feather on the reverse. I did this egg with Sharpies, gold pen, watercolors and some adhesive jewels.

I actually made another peacock feather egg before this one.  A friend at work was celebrating her birthday and I did this egg for her.  It turned out so well that I decided to make a peacock egg for our family collection of Easter Eggs.  You can see a few more of those eggs here.

For this brown egg I used stickers from Starform; the same type of stickers that I used for vellum ornaments at Christmastime here.

Watercolor pens and adhesive jewels completed this design.

I also purchased a beautiful hand-painted goose egg (Kraslice) at the Farmer’s Market and a card with a photograph of more eggs done by the same artist, Lenka Glassner.

The sides have intricate details.  All the white is where she has etched through the paint to reveal the eggshell underneath.

For more gorgeous pictures of her eggs and information on the “traditional lace-like etching” techniques of the Moravian region of the Czech Republic, go here.

Our Easter table.

Wishing you a happy Easter.

Thanks for hopping by.

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Muffin Cup Quiche

I’ve been doing some Easter crafting lately, using blown eggs and empty eggshells filled with candy.  So I needed to make something with the raw eggs.   Scrambled eggs are one easy answer but I wanted a little more pizazz.

Making small quiche in a muffin pan was what I decided to do.  Before I go on, I have to tell you that these really aren’t the best recipe for using up a bunch of eggs.  They have a higher crust-to-filling ratio then a standard full-size quiche would have so if you are looking to use up a bunch of eggs, make a standard quiche.  But these are a nice size, look and taste great and freeze well.

Oh, and the other thing I should mention: I’m not really giving you a recipe.  Just some suggestions.

Other ideas for using up eggs include a bread pudding-like baked French Toast, Dutch Baby (a puffy baked pancake) or a strata made with spinach and cheese.

Muffin Cup Quiche

Frozen Crust – defrosted according to package directions (or use homemade crust)

Nonstick Spray

Various Vegetables for filling– such as asparagus, mushrooms, broccolini, chard, onion

Cheese – cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan and feta are all good choices

Eggs

Salt and Pepper

Herbs or Spices if desired

Milk

Bacon (optional) cooked until crisp and drained

Set oven temperature to 375.

For these little quiche I used frozen dough from Trader Joe’s but you could use your favorite crust recipe. After it was thawed, I unrolled it and while it was still covered in plastic I gave it a quick roll with a rolling pin to smooth out some cracks and make it just a bit bigger.  Peel plastic off dough.

Spray the muffin tins with nonstick spray and use a glass or round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the dough.

Press dough circles into muffin tin.

Prepare your filling: for one batch I used mushrooms and asparagus with cheddar and Parmesan cheeses.  The second batch was a combination of broccolini, red onion, Swiss cheese and bacon.  Yummy!

Trim the vegetables and slice or chop into pieces. Heat a pan and spray with nonstick spray.  Saute vegetables until tender.

Dice or shred or crumble or slice up some cheese.  Put a bit of cheese in each muffin cup.  Add a few pieces each of mushroom and asparagus (or whatever vegetables you are using) to each muffin cup.

Beat eggs together and season as desired. I just used salt and pepper.  I had a whole bunch of eggs from my craft projects so I measured 1.5 cups of beaten egg.  (This was too much and I could probably have done with 1 to 1.25 cups – it will depend on both the size of the eggs and the size of the muffin cups.)  Add milk – I used 3/4 of a cup of milk.  This was enough egg and milk for 24 muffin cup quiche.

Scoop egg and milk mixture into a glass measuring cup and pour into  muffin cups.  Fill cups about 2/3 full.  Sprinkle additional cheese on top or add small pieces of cooked bacon to each cup.

Bake about 18 to 22 minutes or until puffy and set.  It will depend on the size of your muffin pan.

Each crust was enough to make 12 circles of dough (I rerolled the scraps for the last few) and I refrigerated the second disc of dough and made the second batch a day later.  The quiche froze well in zippered freezer bags and I could reheat a few in the toaster oven.  I really love crust so I particularly like this size quiche.  A few quiche with a salad and dinner is ready.  It was great having these in the freezer and I made enough to share some with my parents.

Thanks for the visit.

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“Crack Me” Candy Filled Easter Eggs

Are you ready for this?  Real eggshells, dyed rich,  beautiful colors, filled with little candies, and the only way to get the candy is to crack ’em open! When I saw these on the very cool Not Martha where, by the way, she calls them Easter Surprise Eggs (the easy version), I knew I would be making some.   Yes, I admit, they do take some time but I love the whole idea.

First you need to get the raw egg out of the shells, than you clean the shells, dye them (Megan of Not Martha has wonderful recipes for the colors), let them dry overnight…I’m going to say that again: let them dry overnight, give yourself enough time for all the steps (yeah, I know Easter is almost here), fill them with cute little candy and glue on a paper cup and a “crack me” note.

Candy Filled Easter Eggs

Supplies:

Eggs – you may as well do at least a dozen – I did two batches because I loved how the first ones turned out

A Dremel or Egg Topper or Sharp Knife (and steady hand) to cut the eggs open (see more about this in my comments below)

Regular and Neon Food Coloring by McCormick it’s the familiar label you see at the grocery store – I got mine at Safeway

White Vinegar

Glass Jars or Measuring Cups in which you will dye the eggs

Rack for drying eggs

Candy – small stuff to fit into the eggs

Mini Muffin Papers or Candy Cups

Glue – to adhere muffin papers to hollow eggs – I used Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue

The reason Megan at her wonderful site Not Martha calls these eggs “easy version” is because she’s also shows how to use empty eggshells, dyed the same way, but first coating the insides with both dark and white chocolate before putting in candy and small toys!  You might be familiar with Kinder Eggs, a European hollow chocolate egg with a toy inside.  I read that they were banned in the US last April because they have a “non-nutritive object imbedded in it.”  Megan was inspired by both Kinder Eggs and Cascarones: hollow eggs filled with confetti and broken over the head of friends which is supposed to bring good luck!

These aren’t something you’ll want to do in one sitting.  But they are doable.  Each step is relatively simple and the results are beautiful and lots of fun.

Directions:

I used a Dremel Rotary Tool with a diamond blade (thanks Rem) and very carefully cut off a disc of shell from the wide end of the egg. On Not Martha Megan uses an egg cutter and notes other people have mentioned using manicure scissors and very sharp knives.  The Dremel was great but I suggest goggles (I just wore my regular glasses) and you might want a bandana over your hair plus an apron to cover your clothes.

The first few eggs I was making deeper cuts and ended up spraying egg whites for a rather amazing distance.  There is likely to be some spatter so work where you can control it as much as possible.  The kitchen counter with a few strategically placed plastic cutting boards and handy paper towel worked for me.  I still managed to get a fine spritz of egg white up the the very top of the cupboard door.  Keep your cuts as shallow as possible.

UPDATE: I wanted to do a few more eggs early one morning but didn’t want to turn on the Dremel.  I took a sharp knife and gave the egg a few decisive whacks (like if you had a soft-boiled egg that you wanted to open) and was able open the wide end that way.  It wasn’t as neat as the Dremel but it worked.

This part of the egg is going to be covered with the glued-on muffin paper, so it’s ok if is jagged or uneven.  Some of mine chipped and cracked and I was able to glue the cracks after dying the eggs and make them work.  I did lose a few eggs in the process so you might want to start with a few spares.

Lift off the disc of eggshell and look carefully for any fine grey grit around the opening.  With your fingers or a paper towel, clean off the grit.  Another option is to carefully tip the egg over the sink and let a little bit of egg white slip out, taking the grit with it.  Wipe the edge of the opening and tip the egg into a small dish.  If you don’t see any more bits of eggshell (which, by the way, isn’t toxic), go ahead and dump the egg into a larger bowl.  There were a few times when I cut through the shell and found the membrane still intact so I didn’t have to clean off any shell.

Now rinse the eggs and use your finger to clean the membrane out of the shells.

Sterilize egg shells by submerging in water and boiling  and simmering for 10 minutes.  Carefully pour out some of the hot water and add cold until you can gently lift egg out.  Be cautious because the small openings makes it easy for really hot water to get trapped in the egg and you could get burned taking the eggs out.  I used a slotted spoon and lifted each eggshell out before setting in on a rack over paper towel to completely drain and dry.

Next you will dye the eggs.  For my first batch I followed Megan’s recipes at Not Martha (below).  I experimented more on the second batch.  I started with the recipes on the Neon food coloring and added a drop or two of the Regular food coloring to tone down the results.  I lifted eggs out of their dye-baths after 10 minutes and if they weren’t as vivid as I wanted I would leave them in for another 5 minutes (also see timing notes with the color recipes).

Boil a kettle of water and line up 7 jars if you want to make all the colors listed here.  After the water comes to a boil, measure 1 cup of water and 2 Tablespoons white vinegar into each jar.  Then add the food coloring as listed in the color recipes below.  I also suggest that you make all the dyes before you start putting eggs in the jars.  Don’ t be like me.

Red:

  • 10 drops neon pink
  • 1 drop neon purple
  • 2 drops red
  • Soak for 10 minutes

Orange

  • 20 drops yellow
  • 5 drops red
  • soak for 15 minutes

Yellow:

  • 15 drops yellow
  • 2 drops neon green
  • soak for 15 minutes

Green:

  • 20 drops neon green
  • 2 drops neon blue
  • 1 drop green
  • soak for 15 minutes

Blue:

  • 6 drops neon blue
  • 1 drop blue
  • Soak for 10 minutes

Purple:

  • 7 drops neon blue
  • 5 drops neon pink
  • Soak for 10 minutes

Magenta:

  • 10 drops neon pink
  • 2 drops neon purple
  • Soak for 10 minutes

Wearing rubber gloves and old clothes are both good ideas although I was careful with the eggs and kept paper towels handy for drips.  I also wore an apron and I was ok.  I did get dye on my fingers but it fades in a day or two.  Use a skewer or slotted spoon or teaspoon to remove the eggs from the dye and set them to dry overnight on a rack. Other options for drying are skewers or chopsticks stuck into a foam block or sticking out of a vase or jar set over paper towel.  You want to be sure the inside of the eggs are dry before filling with candy.

Check the dyed eggs for any cracks.  If you have small cracks near the opening, put a little glue on the crack and, for reinforcement, a bit of tissue paper.  Let dry.  Set eggs in an egg carton with the open end up and fill with candy.

I found little candies at Trader Joe’s including chocolate and candy covered sunflower seeds, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds and jelly beans.  I also picked up mini M&M’s, (for my second set of eggs I found M&M’s in pastel colors), some delicious foil-wrapped dark chocolate eggs by Dove and candy-coated chocolate Sixlets that I saw in great spring colors at Target.

I enjoyed making color combinations to go with the different colored eggs but of course that isn’t necessary.  Fun, but unnecessary.

Try not to sample too much of the candy while you are filling the eggs.  Just a suggestion.

Cut mini muffin papers to about half their height and glue one on each egg.  Let dry.

Print and cut out small tags with “Crack Me” printed on them.  Glue one tag in the side of each mini muffin cup.

Admire the beautiful eggs.

When you give the eggs away, you might suggest that they crack them with care.  I gave a friend one and made her crack it open so I could get a picture for this post.  She wanted to carefully peel the paper off the bottom but I insisted she break it for the blog.  Her enthusiasm when breaking the egg resulted in candy flying in all directions!  A few plastic bags on hand to stash the candy might be a good idea.

Please do let me know if you make these eggs. They aren’t just for kids and would make sweet favors for a spring bridal shower or birthday lunch as seen here on the Kitchn in a a beautiful undyed version.

UPDATE: I did a few brown, undyed eggs that I’m calling “Snack Crack Me Eggs”.  My dad, after chemo treatment, has lost his taste for anything sweet.  So eggs filled with baby Goldfish crackers, nuts and pretzel bits seemed like a good solution.

Coming soon: egg recipes!  Thanks for the visit.

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