Saturday, January 31, 2009

Valentine's Day Gifts: Chocolate-y goodness

Chocolate! Who doesn't love chocolate? And when it's made with love, then it's lovely chocolate for a lovely day.

My previous posts on this topic can be found:
Part 1: The basics of chocolate making; and
Part 2: Painting and filling chocolates


Make some candy heart bark: Melt about 20 grams of chocolate, and add some of those cinnamon hearts. Stir, spread on plate, and wait. (You can sprinkle a few on top if you want). When they're done, break it into pieces and put into a cute bag. This works well with both milk and white chocolate.

Molding hearts: You'll need to invest $3.25 at Dickens for a cute heart mold. Melt, pour the chocolate into the mold, then tap it lightly on a tabletop to get out the bubbles. Put into the fridge, then unmold and put into cute bags.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Valentine's Day Gifts: Bath & body products

Who doesn't love love? And by extension, who doesn't love Valentine's Day? It's a cheap excuse to make some heart shaped things and give them to people you love! So I bring you some wonderful ideas for Valentine's bath & body products...

These are super easy if you follow the instructions properly. Bath bombs are made with citric acid and baking soda. When you add them to the bath, they fizz up when they touch the water. So you don't want to use water based colours or scents in these.

My recipe:
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1 to 2 tbsp oil of your choice (I like soy bean oil, but olive oil is awesome also)
about 1 tsp of fragrance oil (not water based - and do not use perfume!!!)
Mix together your baking soda and citric acid. Then add the oil, a few drops of colour, and your fragrance oil. Mix together well. You can press these into a cupcake pan lined with a cute cupcake liner for a cupcake look, or use a silicone ice cube tray. Press very well. (If you don't have a mold, try using your hands to make a ball!) Let sit over night. Package in a cute bag or box. You're done!

Heart Shaped Bath Bombs at Soap Queen. As a variation: Put the rose petals into the mold first, then press your bath bomb mixture on top of it, so the petals are showing on top. And try using smaller molds. I did the hearts above with a chocolate mold, and they only weigh about 10 to 20 grams each. If you make some small ones, you can make a variety of colours and scents that complement each other; put them into a cute bag so the giftee can make their own blends. (Hello Sweet Thang and Cream Cheese Frosting, or chocolate and orange, or wedding cake and just about anything else!)

What's the difference between Anne Marie's bath bombs and mine? I like to add more oil to mine. But you can make them either way!

For colouring bath bombs, powdered chocolate colouring works really well. And consider using your micas. I am not sure about iron oxides...I haven't tried those yet. Stay away from ultramarines as I understand those can smell very unpleasant when they hit the water.


For melt & pour soap you'll need...
  • melt & pour soap of any type. If you use glycerin or clear soap, you'll get a clear soap with very vibrant colours. If you use a white soap, you'll get something like the picture here, where the colours aren't as vibrant, but very cool.
  • a colourant -- you can use a variety of colourants colouring, icing colours, or colours specifically used for the bath and body things (LabColours are fantastic, but only invest in these if you are going to make a ton of things!) As a note, if you've been making mineral make-up, try some micas. (Look to the right...this soap was done with gold and copper mica. You can see the shine and it looks gorgeous! This soap, by the way, made by Wanda!)
  • a scent (fragrance or essential oils)
  • a mold (silicone ice cube trays are fun, as are chocolate molds)
  • a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol in it.
Melt your melt & pour soap in a double boiler. Don't have the water temperature too high -- don't let it boil -- and let it melt slowly. You can mix it as you wait -- it feels like you're actually doing something instead of just sitting around waiting!

Add colour and scent (about 7.5 grams per 454 grams or 1 gram for every 60 grams of soap), mix together until the colour is nice, then pour into your molds.

Spray the back of the soap with rubbing alcohol -- it takes out the bubbles.

Now wait until the soaps are set. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe 2 hours -- it depends on how much you used!

Package in a cute box or cellophane bag and gift away!

Try doing a layered soap - this is even cooler if you do the first layer in glycerin (clear) soap, then the second layer in a coloured opaque soap. Pour in your first layer, spray with alcohol, and let set for a while. Wait until there is a skin on the soap and it doesn't jiggle a lot when you shake it. Pour in the second layer, spray the back with rubbing alcohol, and leave until set.

Visit Anne-Marie's site for more information.
And you have to try the soap cupcakes! Too cute for words! They have some great tips & tricks for melt & pour soap making.
If you aren't into hearts, check out have to see Anne-Marie's birthday cake idea!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sleepy thoughts

I woke up this morning thinking about one of my favourite products from the Simpsons - "Much Ado about Stuffing". Why do these things pop into your head? (Okay, I know these thoughts are called hypnopompic thoughts, just like those crazy thoughts you have while falling asleep are called hypnogognic thoughts, but I wonder where they come from? I'm sure all the Nyquil I'm taking right now can't be helping, eh?)

Raymond had a waking thought about saving money on laundry bills by wearing one's underpants on the outside. And a few weeks ago, as I woke, I gave myself the title of "Susan: Mistress of Smells, Stenches, and Reeks", then wondered for a while if my domain could include pleasant odours as well (the answer: apparently not.)

Here are some thoughts Raymond and I have shared with each other while very tired...Ponder them this happy Thursday while looking at a picture of an angry monkey!
  • If you put a snake in a vacuum, would it still slither? Or would it just wibble around in space?
  • Can a turtle live without a shell? If you removed the shell as delicately as possible, using anaesthetic under very sanitary conditions and allowing the turtle to wake up naturally, would the turtle live? What's under that shell, anyway?
  • Who was the jerk who came up with the idea of force feeding a goose so its liver would make a good pate?
I write these things today to avoid having to think about New Year's Resolutions...because I am not organized and I don't think it's ever going to happen. I simply can't be bothered. If you gave me the choice between tidying up and playing Animal Crossing, which one would win? Or tidying up and eating chocolate. Again, obvious choice. Even if you gave me the choice of cleaning and eating broccoli, no sauce or anything on it, with no glass of water to wash it down...well, I might tidy up then, but I be tempted by the evil vegetable for at least a few minutes. (And we all know broccoli is evil. It tries to warn you with its horrible horrible taste!)

And I drank a cup of tea this morning before realizing I wasn't supposed to eat or drink anything before my blood test. So I messed that up, too. I think it's just that kind of week!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mineral make-up - Part 7: Purple using ultramarine purple

Purples are lovely colours, and you make pretty much any variation you want by using the right iron oxides (well, ultramarines and manganeses) and micas. This week we're going to focus on purples made with ultramarine purple. (Next week we'll use manganese violet and the week after that, variations using iron oxide blue, ultramarine pink, and burgundy oxide!)

You can use your base and ultramarine purple as the only colours for making a purple, but you won't get a lot of shine. Having said this, 3 parts base with 1 part ultramarine violet makes a fantastic base colour!

The recipes you make with ultramarine purple are going to be violet toned (more blue) and quite light in colour. You can add black (black-blue iron oxide or a black mica) to make it a darker tone, more purple-y. But to really make the purples pop, you'll want to add some micas. I suggest getting a nice violet mica (see below and right) for more violet-y goodness, a deeper purple like patagonian purple, and a silver or white mica if you want to make it lighter. You can throw in some blue to make it more blue, and you can use something pink toned like oriental beige (a good example of that is here at Suds & Scents for the perfectly purple! We've done both versions and this a great recipe!) The great thing about trying the colour alone with the base is that you can go nuts trying various micas. Don't just stop at purple toned micas! Try a variety and see what you like.

DEEP VIOLET - a very basic, not shiny colour
3/8 tsp base
1/8 tsp ultramarine purple
1 scoop of blue iron oxide (optional)

Put into the baggie. Squish until you are happy (the not-mica colours are harder to incorporate, so you might have to squish a lot more than you expect). Put into containers. Rejoice.

PURPLE MIST - shiny, a lovely complement to the deep violet
3 tsp base
1/2 tsp and 2 white scoops ultramarine purple
1 scoop black-blue iron oxide
1/2 tsp patagonian purple mica
2 scoops sunpearl silver mica (or other silver you like)

SHINY VIOLET - a lovely light colour with more shine than the base
1 1/2 tsp base
9 scoops ultramarine purple
1 scoop violet mica
a titch black-blue iron oxide (a titch means just a tiny bit - about 1/4 a scoop, if that!)

3/8 tsp base
3/8 tsp violet mica
1 scoop ultramarine purple

Tune in next week for more purple eye shadow!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Digital scrapbooking! Part 2: Putting it together

Putting your digital scrapbooking page together is as simple as putting together a paper based scrapbooking page -- only slightly easier, as you can manipulate your elements without having to cut or paste papers, photos, and cardstock. (Okay, you actually will cut & paste in a computer sense, not in a real world sense.) If you have cute embellishments like ribbons, brads, buttons, and the like, you can add those after you've printed your page!

1. Download a paper package or create something yourself using a paint shop type program. Try scanning fabrics or paper or pictures you've drawn to use as backgrounds.

2. Open your publishing program and choose "blank page" to start. I use Print Shop Pro for the Mac, so I choose "blank page", and usually keep it in 8.5 x 11 (letter sized) format. Because I usually bind my own scrapbook albums, I tend to use the "landscape" mode and make my pages 8 x 8 so I can use the extra at the end as room for binding. (Notice the space on the left hand side of the page. I've left that there because I need at least 0.5 inches - 1.25 cm - for space for binding) If you will be putting your pages into a pre-made scrapbook, then choose your size based on the plastic sleeves in your book.

3. Look at your pictures. This will give you a sense of of what colour scheme to choose.

4. Choose your first background page. Again, I make mine about 8 x 8 so I have room for binding and because I can't print 12 x 12 (besides, I really like smaller albums!) I've chosen from the Shabby Princess Spring Breeze package because I really love bright colours and polka dots. I think I'll do a "Spring is in the Air" kind of theme featuring my adorable dog as my model!

5. I like to start with the first picture, although some will disagree with me. I like to find the perfect background paper for this first picture, and perhaps a caption or something I want to say. Okay, so I found my picture and the background -- I need to crop the picture to the right size. And perhaps add some special effects -- like a ripped or torn edge or perhaps a soft edge. I've chosen a light soft edge. (You can find special effects in your editing section of the publishing program. For me, I command click on the picture and get a menu.) Once you done your first picture -- group it together. (My function for this is "arrange" then "group" while highlighting the elements I want to group.) Note: I've removed the white space from this picture, but I still have it on my publishing program.

6. Position your picture somewhere. Don't worry - we can move it!

7. Think of a second picture and do the same thing with the background, elements, etc. For this second picture, I chose a torn edges special effect for both the picture and the mat behind it. I added two little brad thingies in each corner because I thought it would look cute. And I've grouped all those elements together so I can move them as one.

8. Now start thinking about the caption, title, and journalling you're going to do. Some people don't like journalling because they either don't like their handwriting (no excuse here when you have tons of fonts to choose from!) or they feel they have nothing to say. Everyone has a story they're trying to tell, but I think they don't feel they know how to say it. You don't have to be a great writer to tell your story. (I'll do an upcoming post on journalling, but for now, think of your story!)

An aside...I hate looking at scrapbooks without journalling: If you have to flip the pages and tell me the story, then it's really just a slide show and not a memory keeper! How will people of the future know what's going on? I mean, you have photos and inks that last THREE HUNDRED YEARS, and you'll be specks of dust flying around the atmosphere by that time! (How did a post on digital scrapbooking turn into a reminder of our mortality?) But I digress...

9. Titles are great fun. You can think of a well-known phrase -- "Spring is in the Air" or "Spring Fling" -- and change it to suit your page. For this page I might choose...
There's a Spring in my step!
The Spring has Sprung!
Bounce into Spring!
You get the idea. I think I'll go with "Sproing! Spring has Sprung" because "Sproing" is a word Raymond and I use all the time. (Yeah, you'd think it wouldn't be worked into conversation well, but we manage!) You want to personalize your pages with stuff that means something to you.

10. So pick a funky font that you love -- for this I've chosen Font Diner Sparkly because I love it. I don't like the black default colour very much, so I'll try another colour. (As a note, if you have a Word Art type option, this will format it very cutely with background shadows, outlines, etc. Try this if you don't like what you've typed!) I think a purple will fit, so I'll go with that.

A note about formatting: The "layer" command is your friend. Bring things forward, backward, or send to back or front. This way you can put things on top of other things. And also remember about the "undo" function. If you don't like it, UNDO IT!

And I'm done. I'll admit it's not a fancy page, and it really could do with some journalling, but it's getting late in the morning and work is beckoning, so I best leave it there. I figure I can throw in some stuff after I'm done like perhaps a pressed flower or a little frame or even some more journalling!

Digital scrapbooking is an awesome way to learn scrapbooking -- a lot of the packages are free, you don't need to print pictures, and you can mess around with it as much as you like -- and it's an awesome way for experienced scrapbookers to create pages without the mess and fuss of scraps on the floor or pages you don't like. You can add anything you want and you can print it and add more, if you like. In short, where's the bad in digital scrapbooking?

Tune in tomorrow for Mineral Make-up Wednesday: We're making purple!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Digital scrapbooking! Part 1: Finding your elements

As you might know, I'm not the greatest scrapbooker in the world. I'm not very visual, so I take forever to make something very very basic. But Wanda is the queen of scrapbookers, and has been struggling to help me be more visual.

For me, digital scrapbooking is a great thing! I can play with elements, cut up photos, create pages, and erase it all if I don't like it. It's an awesome thing for someone like me who feels very unsure about scrapbooking, and who is kinda lazy about getting digital pictures printed.

I decided make what I'm calling a "Song Book", which is a series of pages laid out according to the lyrics to one of my favourite songs ("Land of Sunshine" by Faith No More), a song that has meaning to Raymond and I. I think this is a great place to start if you are unsure about what to scrapbook. Choose a song that means something to you and someone else, then make a small book (6 x 6 inches or 15 cm by 15 cm) to give as a gift. (To bind it yourself, check out my posts on this topic!)

The first thing you'll need for digital scrapbooking is some kind of picture editing or publishing program. I use Print Shop for the Mac, but you could use Photoshop (any version), Publisher, or other types of programs that let you tinker with your elements. (Word will not work here...) Your computer may or may not have this kind of software on it. If it doesn't, check out some free programs that might work with your computer (sorry, I forgot everything I know about Windows based computers now that I'm a Mac user!)

You'll need to find some sites that offer free scrapbooking packages. When you download a complete package, you'll get the papers (plain and fancy), elements (like brads, ribbons, etc.), and sometimes a fancy font.

For the packages, you'll probably find tons yourself, but I figure I'll start you off with a few sites.
Shabby Princess has tons of downloads, primarily in the shabby chic catgeory. I love her stuff!
Digital Freebies Friday Freebies are up for one week and are always gorgeous!
Fern Lilli's blog has fantastic packages!

There are tons of forums around (I still think the plural should be "fora" but I guess I should stop being so obsessive, eh?) that offer free downloads, but you'll have to join them to access the good stuff and to find design ideas!
3 Scrapateers is one of my personal favourites!
RAKscraps is the home of the monthly mega kit! Great stuff!

And you'll want some funky elements, neat designs or pictures you can add to your pages...
eScrappers -- love the candy stuff (there's a surprise, eh?)
Scrap FX has some lovely elements!
A Little Scrap of Time has a few elements, and they change regularly.
Scrap Elegance has some great papers and backgrounds.

If you need some free, downloadable fonts, check out these sites:
Font Diner - click on "free silverware" (I love the font diner font - it's one of my personal favourites!)
1001 Fonts,
Font Paradise,
or House of Lime

As a note, these papers and elements are great for making labels for your bath & body stuff or for Christmas present tag making, so I make sure I always download the things I think look awesome! And make sure you burn what you download to CD or DVD and label them! I find I get tons on my computer, which takes up a lot of space, and I get frustrated. So I'm making a point of burning things to disk and writing on the front "Christmas" or "green" so I'll know where to find them!

Stay tuned for Tuesday's post: Digital Scrapbooking! Part 2: How to put it all together.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Edible Settlers of Catan!

How to make games night better? Make the games out of food! That way if you win - you can eat the game. And if you lose, you can punish the game by eating it! It's win-win!

(As a note, we're doing cupcake and cookie decorating in the spring...anyone up for this?)

So I bring you Settlers of Catan...
or in pizza (And we do have pizza at games night!)

Okay, I'm hungry now...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Year's resolutions: Update, week 3

Week 3 update...

Organization: Well, the jewellery is organized, but the workshop is a disaster area. I have to figure out a better system!

Not brushing my teeth so hard: Again, going well. I'll stop updating this one.

Working on my blood sugar: Going well, but I kind of forgot to go for my HgA1C (it's a test that measures your blood sugar over three months), so I missed my endocrinologist's appointment. Oh well, I've moved it to February 2.

Taking more pictures: Yep, that one is definitely happening.
As an aside, have you noticed how cheap at 7.2 megapixel camera is now? We saw a Sony for $88.00! Wow! I need a new one soon!

Crafty goals: I've made more jewellery -- I think I'm addicted. The picture above is of some paper clips I bought from Staples. They were just terrible for actually clipping paper, so I turned them into a ring and earring set. I love them!

I bought the transfer pen from Michael's so I can do some embroidery -- yay!

I finished my date book (and a few other little books as well).

And I'm studying more about making votive candles for the wedding. (Check out Candlewic - they have some great newsletters and tons of wonderful information about candle making!) I will be making container candles in the champagne glasses -- love the thrift stores for this! -- but I am going to make some votives in various scents as well! (I bought the supplies, now I have to clean the workshop - see above - then get going!)

Well, this week has turned out very busy indeed and I have not been able to keep my commitments to posting on this site, which is frustrating. But I have a practicum student at work right now, and I forget just how much work it is to have someone shadowing you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mineral make-up - Not a part, but an aside

If you're thinking about making mineral make-up (MMU), you're probably wondering what are the essentials I need to make this stuff and how much is it going to cost me? Great here's a list of what I consider the essentials for eye shadow (and a brief explanation of why...)

Mineral make-up essentials...

1. Treated sericite - this is a type of mica treated with a silicone, usually dimethicone. this is the base of my MMU eye shadow. You could use micronospheres in its place, but I prefer treated sericite mica. (30 grams will be about $6.00 and will make tons and tons of eye shadows!) Learn more here...

2. Titanium dioxide, water soluble - this is the whitening and opaquing (is that a word?) agent for the eye shadow base. You will use a lot of this, and it's not expensive, so I suggest starting with at least a 30 gram bag (60 if you can stretch your budget to it.) You will want this for your blushes, foundations, and pretty much everything else you will want to make once you get started. (About $3.50 for 30 grams.)

3. Iron oxides, and the like...These are going to be the base of your eye shadow colours, so you'll want a variety of these to be able to darken and change colours. Iron oxides run about $2.50 to $3.50 per colour, and a sample pack is always a good thing.
  • black (blue) and black (brown) or just black
  • brown (umber)
  • yellow (optional)
  • ultramarine pink
  • ultramarine purple
  • maganese violet
  • if you are a green girl, then get chromium green (there are two versions at Voyageur - choose your favourite!)
  • I love burgundy iron oxide (it turns purple with the base), but again, optional.
4. Micas - This is where you can go completely crazy! Start with samples sizes and choose one colour you really love (purple, pink, green, brown) and get at least one of those. Then choose at least those three below so you can blend your colours. (Micas can run $2.00 to $5.00, depending upon colour, for 10 grams, but ask about sample packs!)
  • black satin mica - to make the colour deeper
  • white satin mica and/or white matte mica - satin for sparkle, matte for less - for whitening.
  • silver mica (if you love silvers) or gold mica (if you're a gold girl!) - to add shine
  • 5. Plastic bags - I know these are inexpensive at the dollar store, and that's a good place to start, but if you can afford it, get some from the bead store or Michael's as they will last longer. The price difference isn't huge -- 175 for $3.50 vs. 100 for $1.00 at the dollar store -- but they won't break on you when you use them!

    6. Little scoops - These are about 20 cents each from the suppliers', but worth it. Get quite a few so you don't have to clean them in between use. I like to have at least 1 for every colour I'm using, then a few more. (Or get yourself measuring spoons for 1/32 -- little scoop size -- 1/16 and 1/8 tsp from a cookie supply store. Metal spoons are easier to clean.)

    7. Q-tips - So you can check the colour in the bag.

    8. Containers for your finished product. You can use all kinds of containers -- the actual MMU eye shadow containers will run you 80 cents to $1.50 depending on the store you choose.

    So what have we spent so far?
    • treated sericite $6.00
    • titantium dioxide $4.00
    • iron oxides (5) $14.00 (on the high side...)
    • micas (4) $14.00 (again, on the higher side)
    • baggies $4.00
    • scoops (20) $4.00
    • containers (optional)
    • GRAND TOTAL $46.00 - not bad, go in with a friend or three and reduce the costs!
    As you can see, mineral make-up isn't cheap to start and it can quickly become an addiction to be reckoned with, but you can make a ton of eye shadows from these supplies. One eye shadow holds about 1.2 grams of product -- about 0.5 grams of sericite mica (higher for the base colours), 0.2 grams of titanium dioxide, and the rest mica -- so you can make yourself something like 60 eye shadows (minimum) from these supplies!

    You can use all these supplies for all the other mineral make-up options - foundations, blushes, lip sticks, glitter powders, etc. - so if you want to get into this, then when you're finished making eye shadows (which I don't think is possible!) you'll be on your way to making other products!

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Candle making for Yarrow craft group - your links and handouts!

    I did up the tutorials for these in November, but I'll save you the trouble of mooching through the archived posts. (You'll notice the picture to the left uses the honeycombed beeswax. We used mostly smooth beeswax, but you can use either type!)

    Click here for information on beeswax candles, including where to get supplies and some other ideas.

    Click here for information on tea light candles, including where to get supplies and some other ideas!

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Date book finished!

    In a wonderful example of how you should let your mind roam when you are crafting, Raymond helped me choose the paper for the cover of my date book. I didn't even realize I had this paper, and I love it! I'm so pleased with it. This is the shot of the cover. It measures 7.25 inches high and 4.5 inches wide. I've used legal sized paper because I wanted something slightly larger than a 1/4 sheet of letter sized paper, but not as big as half a sheet. I'm so thrilled.

    I designed the inside of the book myself -- I have my date pages, note pages, important phone numbers, a calendar, and information on the upcoming groups. I still have to fill in the dates, but I enjoy doing that as it makes me think of what is going to happen this year!

    I know I've gone against everything I told you about using pretty paper for your back cover, but the flip side of the scrapbooking paper was way too cute to pass up, plus it matched, plus I messed up and cut the backing paper way too short and didn't have more!

    Random crafty ideas for a Monday

    If I only had time to make everything I wanted...well, I'd be a happy girl, but I'm sure I'd find more things I wanted to make and I'd bemoan not having time to make I should be happy with what I have, eh?

    This morning I am going to make my date book (and document it), but I can't figure out which paper to use. I have this very retro sewing paper or my favourite atomic paper -- which to use?

    While I'm contemplating are a few blogs worth a serious investment in time for their amazingly cute tutorials!

    Jazoie's Spectacular Home Companion - lots of great tutorials here for furoshiki, cute fabric balls, and more. (I have some of that Christmas fabric I bought at Fabricland! I wonder if she's Canadian?) I am not linking to one specific page as her projects are really worth a browse!

    GoodyGoody has tons of great sewing tutorials -- her stuffed animals are adorable!

    If you're feeling particularly gory this morning, check out these bloody stuffed animals (no tutorial, lamentably). I especially love the unicorn spearing a teddy bear!

    Finally, check out the Long Thread's top 100 tutorials of the year. If you can't find something to inspire you there, you're probably not inspire-able. (Is that a word?)

    Well, I'm off to make my date book. Still undecided about the paper, but I need it for this morning, so I better get on it, eh?

    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    A lazy, dog-dangling Saturday...

    9 months, 26 days without a fall down the stairs!

    My new practicum student is a practising nurse. Is this a subtle sign from the universe that I have to not fall down stairs before the wedding (yes, we have a date: Saturday, May 16th! Yay!)

    I was looking at the tag on my pyjama pants, and it said "keep away from fire". Isn't this generally good advice for fabric?

    Doctor Who is awesome...but I'm not so sure about this new Doctor. He may be the awesomest doctor in the universe, the greatest Time Lord ever, but he's emo! He's going to spend all his time worrying about the "fwhip" of his hair! (Okay, I'm being ageist, but how can anyone replace David Tennant???)

    I think I'm addicted to chemistry. Here is the molecule for vanillin I built with my new molecule building kit. I was going to make a caffeine molecule, but they didn't include enough nitrogen in the box. (And yes, I did go to the molecule building kit site but you can only buy the nitrogens in huge quantities if you live in Canada!)

    What is up with PETA? Naming fish "sea kittens" so they will be cuter? I think PETA does have some points, like treating animals well, but they come up with these crazy schemes and others (like telling us having pets is wrong!) instead of getting out there and encouraging people to treat animals well, demanding food animals be treated well, and suggesting we go for free range or uncaged animals. Why can't they address those issues instead of this kind of stupidity? (Having said that, they did get a lot of press for this, so perhaps that's why?)

    Have a great weekend!

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    Warning: Fan-girling ahead!

    Note: This post has been approved by a recent study showing that looking at cute things can reduce your stress level, decrease your blood pressure, and make you go "squee".

    Look at the picture to your left. It is a small, blonde dog opening her Christmas present. Now that's cute. Do you feel calmer? I know I do!

    Is there anything cuter than something cute? If you are the kind of person who loves Cute Overload or can't get enough of the sneezing baby panda, you have a new favourite website: Well, if you have visited Cute Overload and love it, Cuteness has been taken to a new level at cute things falling asleep!

    Now that I've been "squeeing" so high my dog can no longer hear me (and is getting annoyed that I find something cuter than her), I think I best get on with my day!

    And now for your viewing pleasure, some adorable videos of baby pandas...

    The cutest thing ever -- the sneezing baby panda!

    A baby panda trying to get up some stairs...

    Baby panda playing with a ball....

    And finally, a bunch of baby pandas playing....

    I think I need to check my blood sugar because THOSE ARE SO SWEET!

    Thursday, January 15, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Update, week 2

    Week 2 update!

    Organization: I had two people this week tell me I was organized. Is it National Have a Beer with Breakfast Week? I forgot to make a new 2009 date book -- so that's the weekend project!

    Not brushing my teeth so hard: Going well!

    Continuing to work on my blood sugar: I bought a new machine -- it's super awesome mega cool...well, for a diabetic testing machine. It's all in one, and the strips come out at the push of a button...okay, I'm a little excited about it, but if it helps me remember to test. I've had results as low as 3.7 (too low), 4.4, and 4.5 this week, but I'm still averaging about 6. I did learn that diabetic cookies filled with white flour do not keep blood sugar from going up, but diabetic chocolates from Purdy's are a great choice! I have to go for my three month test (HgA1C) on Monday, so I'll know next week what the results are from October!

    Take more photographs: This I have been doing. And I really want that waterproof, drop-resistant, cold resistant Olympus camera. Maybe someone will get us one for our wedding??? (See the gratuitous picture of my mom's amazing pork pie for an example of random picture taking...BTW: This pie is awesome! And not good for my blood sugar...see above!)

    Crafty goals: I did make a few pieces of jewellery, bought some beads, but did not get around to making the eye shadow or buttercream icing. Oh well, this weekend? No, wait, I need a new date book and a new calendar for wok (I'm sick of looking over and seeing an empty space where there should be a Simpsons picture!)

    So there we go for another week! Hope your resolutions are going well!

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Mineral make-up - Part 6: Pink!'s girly, it's feminine, it's awesome.

    I never thought about wearing pink until Wanda made it, but now I love it. I always thought because I had green eyes, I should wear green eye shadow. It's not a silly thought, but it is not necessarily true. Pink goes very well with green eyes -- it's a complement on the colour wheel, apparently, and I know I get comments when I wear it.

    To make a really nice pink, you need to invest in some ultramarine pink. It's your starting point for most pink based eye shadows, lipsticks, blushes, and everything else. So get out your ultramarine pink.

    FOR A MATTE BASE - a light pink with no sparkle
    1 part ultramarine pink
    6 parts eye shadow base (see previous posts for this recipe)

    Mix in a baggie. Try. Love!

    Feel free to increase the ratio here to 3 parts base to 1 part ultramarine pink if you want a really pink pink!

    But where's the sparkle? You need some sparkle! Remembering the previous tutorials, you only need a bit of ultramarine pink, magnesium violet, or iron oxides to make a matte, base colour, but you need to add quite a bit of mica to the mix to get some decent colour change or sparkle.

    Adding mica...isn't rocket science -- IT'S COSMETIC SCIENCE. (Sorry, couldn't resist!!!) When you add a bit of mica, you're going to change the colour. Add each of these micas at 1 part to your base to see some subtle results. Add at 2 parts to your base to see some real sparkle and colour. (Click on the underlined words to see the link to the colour!)

    Rose sky (I copied the picture from Suds & Scents because I couldn't link to it the link for the entire line of mica colours): This is a beautiful colour added to pink. Again, try 1 part for a subtle deep pink, 2 parts for a vivid pink.

    Maroon mica: Maroon mica on its own will turn a beautiful dusty rose (2 parts base, 1 part mica). Adding this to your pink base will give you a dusty rose.

    Peach mica: This is a beautiful peachy mica. Add it at 1 part for a subtle peach undertone, 2 parts will add some serious peachiness!

    Shimmering fuschia mica (from Suds & Scents...): This is an amazing colour and one, at really high levels probably best left for Hallowe'en, but a titch can make your pink really pop! Start at 1 part fuschia mica to your base amount and see how you like it. I would not try 2 parts immediately because you will regret it!

    Petal pink mica: Here's where you get pink pink pink...Add at 2 parts to get a real proper pink eye shadow with some lovely shine!

    Romantic rose mica: This is really lovely and subtle. It will redden up your pink a bit and give you a deeper toned pink. Just gorgeous -- add at 1 part and see how you like it before going straight to 2 parts.

    Violet mica: Yeah, this doesn't seem natural for a pink, but it's gorgeous. Adding 1 part of this will give you a blue toned pink, 2 parts will give you a more purple-y mauve kind of colour. Lovely!

    Here's an amazing recipe from Brambleberry for Pink Champagne. I've been wearing this a lot lately and get lots of nice comments...She suggests using peach mica, violet mica, and rose pearl mica. We used our base and peach mica, violet mica, and ruby mica (look left!) from Suds & Scents because we didn't have any rose peal, and it turned out absolutely amazing. I really suggest you try this!

    Finally, as a note, remember you can always make a colour deeper by adding a little black iron oxide or black mica. For your pink base above, try using a titch for the 1:6 ratio. (By a titch I mean a tiny wee little bit at the end of a toothpick if you're using those little white scoops from the MMU supplier!) You will see the colour deepen. But please don't use a lot -- too much black makes it muddy!

    Tune in next week -- I think we'll make some green...but it could be purple. I'm flighty that way!

    Sunday, January 11, 2009

    Tutorial etiquette: A few thoughts

    I'm trying to come up with tutorials on a regular basis now, so I thought I'd share some thoughts I've been mulling over recently...Tutorials aren't an easy thing to do, and making an illustrated one is a lot of work. I think we are really fortunate to have people out there who are working hard to share their knowledge -- I have learned more than I could have imagined thanks to people I've never met!

    So I've put together a few thoughts on tutorial etiquette based on my own recent experiences.

    Communicate with the creator of the tutorial. Thank them for posting the tutorial. Offer your feedback. Let them know the impact their hard work has had on you. Did you find a new craft you love? Did you share the link with others? Did you have fun making their project? Send a small picture or post your comments to their blog to let them know you appreciate what they've shared with you.

    I really can't stress this enough. One of the major crafting sites I visit seems to have a large number of people who don't know the word "thanks". So I rarely post there, preferring to share my work with people who actually show they appreciate it. I'm not expecting a parade in my honour, but it would be nice to get a "thank you" instead of a personal message wanting another tutorial or more information that is readily available from someone too lazy to do their own searches or read actual books from the library!

    But I digress...

    Tutorials are not guaranteed. Let the creator know the problems you had with the project, let them know the joys as well! The only way we learn is through constructive criticism, so be polite and let them know what didn't work. Perhaps you did something wrong or perhaps they posted something faulty (like telling you the lotion would make 100 grams and it made 1000!) One of the first bath & body projects I tried was a dismal, over the top, no one has ever been able to make it work failure. So I went on a search to find out what I did wrong. (Turns out the recipe simply doesn't work....) I found the Dish and learned so much from it. (So I guess the moral of the story here is failures lead to learning!)

    Do not ask for more tutorials. I posted a picture of a book I made, and four years later, people still write to me to ask for a tutorial. I write to them to tell them where to find the tutorial -- Marie Browning's awesome book on bookbinding, available for purchase or from the library -- and still they write to me. (And if you want a tutorial, at least say "please"!)

    Do not post the work of others as your own -- online, book, class, etc. It's one thing to share something you found interesting by linking to it, it's another to post it with your name on it. This is a complete dishonour to the person who took the time and energy to create the tutorial and was kind enough to share it with us for no reason other than kindness.

    To summarize the above, show some appreciation for those people who take the time out of what is probably a very busy life to post tutorials! Classes cost money (well, not our classes...), and require you to leave the house.

    (An aside....I was shocked when I joined the Dish to find cosmetic chemists sharing knowledge they paid for at university (and spent years learning)! They had no obligation to help us, yet there they were day after day sharing because they were kind, caring people. And what did I learn from them? Tons!)

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Make your own bath & body products: Crafter, beware!

    I think it's great people take the time to share their knowledge and expertise by creating tutorials we can download for free -- because it really is a labour of love to make a tutorial -- but I wanted to vent for a moment about things I've seen relating to making your own bath & body products on the 'net recently. (No, I'm not going to quote any websites, just figured I'd give you a few pointers when considering trying a tutorial!)

    Your first lotion is going to cost money. Creating your own lotions isn't an expensive hobby, but the initial outlay will be the most expensive!

    You will want at least one oil, possibly a butter, some emulsifier, a thickener, a preservative, and at least one bottle (and those things are expensive!) You are going to spend probably $30 by the time you are done (oh, and you'll want at least one fragrance oil, but you'll find a few you like and you will buy those as well, so make it $50). It is well worth it -- if you consider that 100 grams of lotion needs about 5 grams of e-wax and 2 or 3 grams of thickener, you'll realize you aren't using a lot, but no one sells 5 grams of e-wax or 3 grams of stearic acid or cetyl alcohol, so you'll have to buy at least 30 grams of each. So your first batch is going to seem expensive. Don't worry -- the 30 grams of e-wax you buy will make at least 1/2 litre of lotion, and you'll love the initial batch, so you'll make more, then before you know it, you're buying e-wax by the kilogram.

    So I write this to save you money and save your sanity! I want lotion making to be fun and exciting, not annoying and frustrating!

    1. If you are adding water, you need a preservative. I have found sites that consider preservatives optional -- this is foolhardy at best. I know that some people consider using preservatives on par with killing puppies, but they are useful for a reason. Unpreserved lotion can go moldy eventually (because the water is not necessarily sterilized) but it's the beasties you can't see lurking in the lotion that worry me the most! I would rather take the risk that the well tested preservatives might bother my skin than to slather on piles of bacteria and mold and have a serious reaction to that. (Some tutorials suggest keeping the lotion in the fridge. This might slow the rate of bacteria or mold, but it won't stop it!)

    2. If you are adding water to oils, you need some kind of emulsifier. (Water includes water based products like hydrosols, witch hazel, and aloe vera). Water and oil don't like being together -- try putting some oil in a cup of water and you'll see what I mean. An emulsifier is a product that brings the oil and water together and keeps them together in a cohesive way. A typical emulsifier will be Polawax, e-wax, or Incroquat BTMS (or BTMS). If your planned recipe doesn't contain these things, then it might contain beeswax and borax, another emulsifier some people use. If you don't see those things listed, don't bother making the recipe.

    (Note: I recommend buying Polawax over e-wax. E-wax could be a variety of things; Polawax is always Polawax. It is more expensive by about 20 or even 30%, but it works very well and worth the investment.)

    3. If you are making an anhydrous product, you don't need preservative or emulsifier, but you might want to consider adding an anti-oxidant like Vitamin E. Anhydrous means "without water", so a product that includes only oils, butters, waxes, and the like. Lip balms, whipped butters, salves, balms, and other all oil based products. Because you don't have water, you don't need a preservative, but you may want to consider adding Vitamin E at 0.5% to keep the oils from going rancid. In short, the oils we use are unsaturated, so they can go rancid in less than a year. (Some have very short shelf lives -- grapeseed and hempseed are 3 to 6 months if you're lucky!) Rancid oils are seriously icky, so adding some vitamin E can extend the life of the balm, salve, or whipped butter by quite some time. If you aren't going to use an anti-oxidant, then just make small batches and put a date on it!

    4. Please do not re-use containers! Perhaps for your first few batches, it's not a problem. But never use a jar someone else has given to you because you don't know what they've done to it! When I run classes, I've seen old pickle and other food jars brought to store lotions and bubble baths -- ick! If you lack fundage, then consider the dollar store for your bottles or buy a box of canning jars and use those. Even old bath & body containers can be icky -- if there's even a tiny bit of oil left over from that last batch of sugar scrub, it can go rancid!

    Please don't let what I've written scare you from making your first lotion or, indeed, trying other tutorials. The first time you see a lotion come together...well, it's simply awesome. And to know you can adapt lotions to your specific needs...again, awesomeness prevails! But there are so many poorly written tutorials by people who don't completely know what they are doing out there, I thought I'd give you some pointers to separate the good from the awful!

    (For great recipes, check out the Dish and Voyageur Soap & Candle -- linked to the right!)

    Thursday, January 8, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Update, week 1

    Okay, so I made some resolutions -- to be honest, I usually make my resolutions in September because that feels more like the start of a new year than January -- so let's see where I am, eh?

    Organization: I received two lovely organizers as presents for Christmas. The jewellery organizer (crafty) is filled; the sewing one is on its way. I made myself a jewellery board so I could hang my jewellery. My office, however, is a disaster and I have a practicum student arriving this morning. That's the first thing I have to do today!

    Not brushing my teeth so hard: Well, this is getting easier thanks to this lovely toothbrush with the 2 minute warning!

    Continuing to work on my blood sugar: I made up a little book so I could chart my progress. I'm down from 18 in October to an average of 6 right now. I have to get it down further, but I think that's a great start!

    Taking more photographs: Raymond has been taking quite a few, and I've been working on doing the same. We have some great pictures of New Year's Eve and of the snow. (My dad used to ask why I was taking pictures of the snow -- it looks the same every year. No, Dad, there are subtle differences...look at the powderiness of last year versus the thick snowiness of this year. Well, I guess you had to grow up in Canada to get it...)

    My crafty goals....

    Embroidery: Still waiting to buy the transfer pen from Michael's.
    Silk screening: Soon...have to find the time.
    Jewellery: Made a ton of things on my snow day! (Pictures soon!)
    Perfecting buttercream: Perhaps this weekend?
    Mineral make up recipes: Again, I'd like to make things this weekend. I need a new lime green!

    So there we are. I'm on my least for non-crafty things.

    How are you doing on your New Year's Resolutions?

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Mineral make-up - Part 5: From black to grey!

    Welcome to part five of our million part series on making mineral make-up eye shadows! If you've been crafting along, you should have...

    But now you're addicted. You need more! (I know this feeling...I have a box of at least 25 eye shadows and I keep thinking of new colour ideas!)

    I love greys. They go with everything, and you can use them as an eye liner or an accent or even the base for other eye shadows (try the white, pink, grey combination and love it!)

    Here is my favourite recipe for grey...
    Midnight Dusk
    1 part black mica
    1 part sunpearl silver
    1 part eyeshadow base

    Mix together in a little bag until combined. Wear. Enjoy.

    This is a cool colour, but anyone can wear it. For the black mica, I recommend black satin mica, but you can use any type you like. For the sunpearl silver, feel free to change this to arctic silver (blue undertones) or vintage grey or any other.

    Here's a variation with less sparkle...We call this one Stargazer Grey.
    3/8 tsp base
    1 scoop black-blue iron oxide
    2 scoops sunpearl silver.

    Can you see the difference between the two recipes? If you make them both, you'll see they are very similar. But we approached them from a different angle. The first uses mica to achieve the black, the second uses black iron oxide. The Stargazer Grey has a higher ratio of base to colour, so you're going to get a more matte eye shadow than if you used the micas on their own.

    If you've made the black and the white, try this in combination with the grey. I like to wear it with a white base, grey accent, and black eyeliner.

    Stay tuned for part 6...not sure what that's going to be yet, but I'm sure it will be exciting!

    Tuesday, January 6, 2009

    Mineral make-up - Part 4: Why black is your friend.

    When making mineral make-up eye shadows, black is your friend. Yeah, I know you're thinking that you're unlikely to make a ton of black eye shadow because black usually equals goth (or lazy Susan who forgot to take off her make-up last night!) but black is an essential part of your MMU palette. It's a great accent colour when you want to be dramatic, and it's a fantastic all around eye liner.

    Note: To use any eye shadow as a liner, use a tiny eye liner brush -- you can wet it a little bit -- and put in the appropriate place on your eye. I haven't bought eye liner in years -- so you save money -- and you never have to worry about matching colours!

    Yes! Black mica or black iron oxide makes a good base for greys, silvers, and dark colours. Adding a titch of black iron oxide or black mica to any colour -- yes, even pink! -- deepens the colour to a darker version. Be careful adding black, though -- too much and the colour can become muddy! (You can see an example of adding black to make a colour deeper in Tanna's recipe for making perfectly purple. Add some black, and you get a deeper purple!)

    Here's my favourite recipe for a basic black eye shadow...
    1 scoop black iron oxide
    1 scoop black satin mica
    2 scoops blackstar blue mica
    3 scoops base (to find the base recipe, please read this post!)

    Yes, we could make a basic black eye shadow using only iron oxides, but it's boring and looks like you've taken a Sharpie to your eye! So, as with any eye shadow, it needs some depth. I think of eye shadows in three dimensions. You have your basic colour, your depth, and your shine.

    So for a black, your basic colour would be black. (Wow, is it obvious day?) But the depth and shine can't come from the black iron oxide. It's just too dull. So to get our depth, we want to add a little contrasting colour -- in this case, blackstar blue mica with blue undertones -- and to get the shine, we add black satin mica to give the whole thing a zing!

    This is a key concept to MMU -- the undertone. (I don't know if this is the proper word for it, but it's the word I'm using!) For instance, with the black eye shadow above the black iron oxide we used is actually called "black-blue iron oxide" meaning it has blue undertones. Let's be honest -- I can't see the blue in it because it's really dark, but it tends towards the blue side of the colour spectrum. So it's more a cool colour, which is why I blended it with blackstar blue. The other black iron oxide we have is called "black-brown", which is a warmer colour. I recommend having both in your MMU kit!

    For instance, check out the black mica here. Now check out the blackstar blue mica. Can you see the blue in it? That's what I mean by undertones. The colours underneath the colours. This will be an important concept when you want to make more complicated colours or blushes, foundations, and bronzers.

    I'm sure you've seen this for make-up. Are you a cool or a warm? If you're a cool, you tend towards the blue side of the spectrum. If you're a warm, you tend towards the yellow or brown side of the spectrum. I always think of it as preferring silver or gold. If you're a silver girl, you're a cool. If you're a gold girl, then you're probably a warm.

    So if you are like me -- a cool colour -- you'll want to use the black-blue iron oxide when you add black. If you're a warm colour, you might want to add the black-brown iron oxide when you darken.

    Yeah, you can. Or you can adapt it to make it your own. For the recipe above, you could use
    black-brown iron oxide
    black satin mica
    a dark brown mica to substitute for the blackstar blue
    In all honesty, everyone can pretty much wear black, but it's fun to play!

    Check in tomorrow for the fun and excitement of making Midnight Dusk, a black based grey!

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Snow day!

    We interrupt your regularly scheduled set of links about organizing to bring you a SNOW DAY! It's too dangerous to drive right now -- especially in a car without snow tires -- so our agency is closed. SNOW DAY! (I just heard on the news that Chilliwack had 32 cm of snow as of yesterday afternoon!) "It's snow picnic out there!" (apologies to the Simpsons for stealing their bit!) This is a good thing as I am a terrible snow driver! I'm the "other people" you must fear! I grew up in North Vancouver (which is a giant hill) and went to university at SFU (on top of a mountain), so I haven't had much practice. I am working hard on learning how to drive in the snow thanks to Raymond's faith in me, but it's best if I didn't on a day like today!

    So what to do today? I am definitely going to do some chemistry work -- I'm very excited about the acid-base equilibrium stuff -- and I might do some crafting. I've been practising jewellery making in anticipation for the upcoming class on the topic, so I'm thinking I might need a jewellery organizer. Here are some samples of what I've been making recently...

    Ironically, I call this one "Snow Day" because of the silver and gold. This was my first attempt at using crimp beads to make the sections look like they are floating. As a note, if you find you cannot wear metal earrings, may I suggest the plastic hooks? I found these at Strung Out on Beads in Abbotsford and I just love them. They are larger than the regular hooks so it may take time for your ears to adjust to the increased diameter, but they are really great for those of us who are metal sensitive. (As a note, I do not recommend piercing your ears with a safety pin. No matter how much you sterilize it by heating it up, it will still leave you with infections. I found this out the hard way!)

    I don't have a name for this one yet -- perhaps "brown hearts with reflective clear beads" -- nah, that is just terrible. I was trying to find something brown to go with my new brown and pink dotted six panel gored skirt (I made this! So excited!)

    I call this one my Water Bracelet. Why? Because it is made up of a series of water molecules (7 H2O to be precise, so it's really my heptahydrate bracelet. Did I mention I am turning into a science geek!) I have to make earrings to go with this one!

    And here we have some fun with Shrinky Dinks! I made these little sushi charms out of white Shrinky Dink paper. This bracelet is done with elastic cord -- the red beads represent the salmon roe in a battleship sushi piece -- and I made two pairs of earrings to go with it. Again, the earrings are stud pieces that are made of plastic because I tend to be very sensitive to metal in my ears.

    As a note, I found this stuff called Allergy Jewelry Shield for coating earrings so we can wear metal ones. It is awesome stuff! If you can get it, I recommend it. It's only about $6.00 a bottle, and it actually genuinely works! I purchased mine in Surrey at a place called Country Lane. It's a scrapbooking and jewellery making store, and it has some awesome stuff! And they have two adorable Yorkies wandering around for your amusement! I have been talking to the owner of Beads to Beads in Chilliwack about carrying it.

    This one is a bracelet with a sushi charm made from polymer clay. It's very basic -- I'm just learning, remember! -- but I thought it would be fun to have something that dangled.

    So perhaps today should be about making a jewellery organizer? My mom did buy me one for Christmas, but I've already outgrown it. And it does go with the "let's get organized" theme....All right, here are some links for some jewellery organizers!

    Here's a nice one made with fabric from Scrapbooking & Crafts.
    This one from Daisy Janie is nice - it is a mirror and organizer in one!
    This organizer from Blissfully Domestic does require a drill!
    Or how about an insert for your jewellery box from Finny Knits?

    I'm thinking I might make up one from some bulletin board, some thumbtacks, and some fabric. I'll post pictures when I'm done!

    Sunday, January 4, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Get organized with new thumb tacks!

    So you've got an adorable bulletin board all clean and waiting for information, but how to attach it? Do you remember marble magnets? Adapt those by substituting a tack for the marble and you're done (and the tacks are cheaper than the magnets, so it goes from an affordable craft to a mega-super cheap craft!) Get some marbles from Wal-Mart or the dollar store (white is the best choice as you can always see through these), some silicone glue (I use marine silicone glue from Home Hardware), a toothpick to put the glue on, some pictures, and tacks.

    You can use just about anything for your marble magnet pictures -- draw your own (using Sharpies or other water proof pens), wingdings (I love these fonts!), envelopes, magazine pictures -- really, the list of ideas is endless.

    If you've forgotten how to make marble magnets/tacks, here are a few tutorials:
    Not Martha (great site, check it out!)

    Or why not try something different? Fabric covered thumbtacks are adorable and easy to make! Use up those bits of fabric you've been holding onto for ages by making these great tacks!

    What's going on tomorrow? How much more organizing can we do? Oh we can do more, don't worry!

    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Get organized with a new bulletin board!

    Okay, so you've made a cool date book, which will organize your life, but you want something you can look at in one glance in the morning. How about a bulletin board? Now, I am going to warn you...bulletin boards can become very disorganized very quickly...see the example to the left..but you can keep a lot of useful information on a board!

    (What's on my board? My chemistry certificate, a sombrero, a bear, some Christmas and birthday cards, our appearance in the newspaper, documents pertaining to my fall down the stairs on the ferry, a Christmas stocking...and so on. Yes, these are all things I need to find at a moment's notice!)

    Here are some great ideas for making your own bulletin boards or wall organizational system!

    This wall board with pocket is awesome!

    A very simple bulletin board from Craftster!

    A French memo board is very elegant indeed. (Those are the ones with the ribbon holding things in place!)

    How about a homasote based board (it's a type of building material...)?

    If you are feeling very DIY, try this beautiful shuttered bulletin board (to keep the clutter safely behind the wood!)

    Or a coffee sack bulletin board (renew, reuse, recycle -- if you like coffee, this is for you!)

    Or a French memo board type board for your fridge?

    Tomorrow...we'll need some cute thumb tacks, won't we?

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Get Organized by binding your date book!

    Quick note: There's a great round-up of calendar downloads at Calendar Happy 2009!

    So you've put together something amazing and want to bind it. How to put it together? Here are a few options...

    1. You could ask me to bring the binding machine to class and bind it together.

    2. You could make a bound journal book like this hardcover one at (easier than it looks!) or a softcover "hedgehog" or Moleskine type book with cardstock covers from this amazing tutorial (this is how I learned to make them, and I love this style of binding! Very sturdy!)

    3. You could make a "hipster PDA" (tutorial for sewing one found on Craftster or a paper one at the main sitefor the PDA) or a pocket mod!

    4. You can make a single pamphlet book (found in this post on this blog).

    5. You can do Japanese stab binding (tutorial here, but not many pictures, or at this site, nice pictures, or clickthis link for more ideas with a good, picture laden tutorial); or

    6. You can make a mini book (like this one for post-it notes or the matchbook book on this blog).

    Or check out this list of tutorials and find something you love!

    And choose a paper you won't hate in a few months. I like to change my date book every six months as I get bored of looking at the same paper for weeks on end! Yeah, I'm flighty, I admit that, but when I can make my own date book, why not change it regularly?

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    New Year's Resolutions: Get Organized by designing a date book

    Okay, let's start getting organized. yeah, the date book isn't the end all and be all of organization, but it's a good start.

    Why make your own? I find the pre-made planners just don't have everything I need to know for my daily life. I need a mileage and expense form, I need certain phone numbers, I need to be able to take notes after appointments and meetings. And I certainly need a list of craft and other groups so I can do some serious planning.

    What do you need to keep track of your life?

    When you are making your own date book think of what you'd like to carry with you -- addresses, phone numbers, a week at a glance calendar or a monthly one, passwords for websites -- nothing's off limits.

    And think of how you want to design it. Are you a by hand kind of person, a fan of scrapbooking or drawing, or are you a computer design person, in love with fonts, wingdings, and clip art?


    Personally, I like to have a week to a page on one side, then a section for my notes. I prefer a sheet of 8.5 x 14 (legal size) paper cut in half and cut in half again, so the pages are 4.25 x 7 inches. I find this works for me. You can choose to use any size you want, but if you are going to carry it in your purse or school bag, I find 1/4 of a legal sized sheet or 1/4 of a regular sized sheet (which would be 4 1/4 by 5.5 inches) is a good size. Anything bigger than that and you are going to be annoyed.

    I like to have the following in my book:
    - phone number page
    - date pages
    - note pages (beside the date pages)
    - library program schedule (so I can plan when I have a down moment)
    - a calendar for this year and for next year (because you never know!)
    - some lined pages for general thoughts and rambling
    - expense pages (for mileage and for expenses!)

    I also like to add a pocket to the back page to keep things I might need like business cards, coupons, gift certificates to coffee places I'll never visit because I hate coffee, and things of that nature.

    Figure out what pages you need. You'll most certainly need a calendar -- daily, weekly, monthly? -- and probably a place for notes. Do you want to have a place for doodles or a to-do list? Do you like graph, lined, or unlined paper?

    Here are some adorable pages you can print at How To Tuesday Planner at Etsy!

    DIY Planner has some great, basic pages for a journal or date book!

    Free printable calendar from

    More free printable calendars (these are good for date books)!

    And still more free printable calendars!

    It's A New Day has some great pages to print (very nice tree theme).

    A whack of downloadable pages here (organizing pages) and here (lined pages) and here (calendar pages, 1 month at a time).

    Scrapbook organizer pages for making a crafting journal!

    Free graph paper generator (love this page!) or here

    Cornell note taking paper (love this stuff!)

    Scramping with Miranda has a cute date book idea...(if you like that font, it's called Pharmacy and it's one of my favourites!)

    Please tune in tomorrow for some ideas on how to bind this all together!