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brown paper packages: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

{bean art tutorial}

My very talented CWTS partner Jonie, from Just Between Friends, made the most fabulous bean art as part of her final project, and I just had to share it with you.

It looks amazing, along with her refinished chair (she used thrift store leather belts for the seat!!!), and stenciled lamp. LOVE it all.

Click HERE to see her tutorial!

So creative, and different...go check it out!


{frosted vinyl mirrors + silhouette faq}

I know you've all heard about the Silhouette. If you read my blog on a regular basis, you know I have one, use it often, and love it. After receiving several e-mails and questions about it, today I'm going to give you my take on it, and go through some of the questions I've received...a Silhouette FAQ.

First of all, I crafted and made projects for a really long time without a Silhouette, and I was able to make everything that I wanted to. Having one might make things a lot easier and faster, but not having one certainly doesn't limit you. If I didn't have one now, I would still be doing all the same projects--and you can too!

The vast majority of my Silhouette projects can still be made using other techniques, and I will state those in my post. If you ever need a clarification, I hope you'll let me know. I want my projects to be accessible to anyone--whether or not you have a Silhouette.

Silhouette FAQ

1. Can you use the fonts on your computer?

YES!!!! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this about it, and honestly, it's probably my favorite aspect. I love fonts, and I use a lot of different ones in my projects, so being able to utilize them all makes me happy.

2. Do you think it saves you money?

I have ordered a lot of vinyl in my life. (I probably still will, i.e. really large projects, etc.) With the money that I spent on ordering vinyl alone, I definitely spend less now. The Silhouette vinyl is reasonably priced, and it goes a long way. Whether or not it's worth it to you depends on how much you would use it, and what you would use it for.

3. What can it cut?

It cuts out vinyl, paper, heat transfer, and now fabric!

4. How do you store it?

It's small, easy to move, and easy to store, which is super nice. It doesn't take up a lot of space, and it's easily stored on a shelf in my craft closet.

5. Does it save you time?

Absolutely. In fact, next to the fact that I can use all my fonts, this is the best thing about it. I used to cut out a lot of things by hand, especially when working with fabric projects (for heat 'n bond, etc.). Now I don't have to, so the projects do go much more quickly.

6. Where do you get all the graphics and images?

Silhouette has an online store, where there are literally thousands and thousands of images to choose from. They vary in price--around 99 cents each, and once you buy them, they are yours forever. There are also monthly subscriptions available that are nice to have if you plan on downloading a lot of them. Combine them with the fonts and unlimited text, and there are a lot of options.

7. Is it easy to use?

I do think it's pretty user-friendly. There is a learning curve, and I'm learning new things all the time, but I felt like I could start creating things as soon as I got it.

8. How does it work?

It comes with software that you download to your computer, and this is where you create all of your projects. You connect it to your computer through a USB port.

9. What do you use it for the most?

Labeling things. :) Really, I do use it for vinyl quite a bit, because a lot of my projects use it. I'm also getting ready to do a few stenciling projects, and I will be able to use the negative vinyl space as a stencil--which will be fabulous. LOVE the heat transfer. I am also really looking forward to using it with fabric as well. I have a long list of things I want to do, and they really incorporate all of it--heat transfer, vinyl, paper, and fabric.

10. Is it worth the cost?

Honestly, this is where it depends totally on you, and it will vary from person to person. I use mine all.the.time, and with the time it saves alone, it has been worth it.

Final thoughts? If it fits into your budget, or if you want to start saving up for one, I highly recommend it. Silhouette has regular promotions that you can take advantage of if you're ready.


For their February promo, Silhouette sent me some of the frosted glass vinyl that I've been dying to try. I thought it would be fun to add a little to our master bathroom mirror. My husband hasn't seen it yet, and I can't wait to see what he says about vinyl being on his mirror. :)

I apologize ahead of time about the pictures. Not much natural light + me trying to avoid being in the picture + frosted glass vinyl being hard to photograph = not the greatest pictures, but hopefully you'll get the idea. It really is so much cuter in person! And yes, adding molding to our builders' grade mirrors has literally been on our list before we even moved in...almost three years ago! Seeing these pictures inspired me to move that project up on the list!

How fun would this be in a kids' bath? With a cute quote running across the top or bottom of the mirror? Or just above the sink? I think I'm going to try that next!


February Promo:

Silhouette SD machine, 1 roll black premium vinyl, 1 roll frosted vinyl, 1 roll transfer paper, Home Décor CD, all for $225!!

Just use the promo code "BPP"! All premium vinyl is also 25% off! (same code)


Have a great day!


Friday, February 25, 2011

{ a place for everything...with House of Smiths}

I LOVE an organized pretty space, it makes life SO much easier, and to me, there's nothing better then being able to know that everything has a "proper place" :)

This past year, my hubby and I decided to tackle one of the messiest spaces in our house... by FAR!

The Pantry!

Believe ME... we were thrilled to even HAVE a pantry (being that the last 3 houses we had lived in didn't even have one) but overtime we had let it get really out of control.

Case and

So with a little creativity, and a LOT of help from IKEA and our local thrift stores, we finally got this space in tip-top, extraordinarily organized condition... and here's how we did it! :)

So... here's how we went about organizing our space, so it made sense.

Read more »

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

{sewn books}

Running errands, traveling, and going places with little ones is a part of my life, and many of you can relate to that. I'm always looking for anything that I can do to help things go more smoothly, and make it easier when patience starts to wain.

I've discovered that bringing special treats and activities is a huge contribution to any successful trip (and I use the term "successful" very loosely, lol). Having fun items that I can pull out of my purse or diaper bag is always a plus, and when I saw these books, I knew they would be the perfect thing, and decided to try my own version.

They're not just for younger children, though. Do you have a child that loves to write? How fun to make them something for their stories or poems.

These little sewn books are the perfect size for tucking into a diaper bag or purse. They can be made from paper or fabric--whatever you like! I made a set of each kind, and it literally took me less than 15 minutes to make them all. Using scraps of paper and fabric makes it a very inexpensive project, and if I can sew these, anyone can!

Other ideas?
  • teacher gifts...even a teacher scrapbook with a child decorating/signing a page
  • Easter baskets!
  • themed books for special vacations and long car rides
  • ABC books
  • quiet books--church, etc.
  • birthday/Christmas gift--personalized art kit!

Sewn Books

  • white copy paper
  • scrapbook paper--2 coordinating patterns (or ribbon for the binding)
  • coordinating thread
  • double stick tape
  • fabric scraps--2 coordinating patterns/solids
  • thread
  • heat 'n bond


1. I decided to make these books 1/4 page size, but you can cut them to whatever size you like! I cut 6 pages of 8.5 x 11 white copy paper directly in half, so that they were 5.5 x 8.5. I then folded them in half, making little book that was 4.25 x 5.5. I also cut the scrapbook paper I wanted for the cover down to 5.5 x 8.5, then folded it in half as well. I slid the white paper inside the cut scrapbook paper, making sure all the edges lined up. I did need to trim some of the white paper around the edges. You will also need to cut a strip of paper from your coordinating piece of cardstock--2 inches wide, and the height of your book plus 2 inches on either end to fold over. You could easily use ribbon for this part--at least 1.5 inch ribbon.

2. Fold that 2 inch strip directly in half length-wise, then unfold. (This will help you to center it directly in the middle of the book.) Place double stick tape down the strip of paper, then place directly in the middle of the book and smooth down, lining up both creases (the crease of the book, and the crease you made in the strip). Turn it over, and fold your strips over the top and bottom of the book, smoothing them down. Taping it down will keep it in place while you sew.

3. Now you're ready to sew! Slide the cut, folded white paper inside the cardstock cover, and once again, make sure everything is lined up and even. You're going to sew through the whole book at one time, lining up your stitches with the outside edge of your cardstock binding (the strip you folded over the edge). Trim your thread, then add any embellishments you choose!


1. Follow the same directions for the white paper as outlined above.

2. Cut out a piece of fabric just a little bigger than the white paper--before it's folded in half (5.5 x 8.25). I like the frayed look, so I didn't hem the edges, but you certainly could--you would just need to cut it bigger to allow for the hems. Sew around the edges, to give the book a border, and to prevent the fraying from going any farther.

3. Of course I had to add a ruffle--it's like a sickness, lol. Cut a strip of coordinating fabric about 1-1.5 inches wide, and sew the ruffle along the bottom of your fabric piece.

4. Place your folded paper inside your fabric cover, and position it the way you want it--with all the edges even. Pin it in place, and sew straight down the spine--just about 1/2 inch from the fold.

5. Add any embellishments you like! I used heat 'n bond to add my girls' initials--you know I love monograms! This is where you can really add the personalization to your book--whether for a book, or special theme.



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

{church quiet book printables}

I am always on the lookout for really cute--but simple--ideas for church quiet books. Thanks to a friend that shared a link with me, I have found probably the cutest ones I've ever seen! I LOVE LOVE LOVE them! Simply Fresh Designs has simply outdone themselves! So, if you're a Mormon like I am, I think you'll like them too! I realize that many of you are not, but it might give you some ideas to create some of your own, or something similar. I think Bible stories would be so fun to have too---if anyone knows where some are, let me know!!

In fact, I was so excited, that I downloaded them right then and there, got them uploaded and ordered, and picked them up--all within a couple of hours. I still need to get the laminated and bound (spiral)...tomorrow.

There are so many things that I love about them. First of all, they are the perfect 4x6 size--easy to pack around in a diaper bag, church bag, purse, or the car. They are also inexpensive--just basic 4x6 prints that you can have printed anywhere. For all 4 sets (86 photos) I paid a little less than $15 for 1 hour prints. (I told you I was impatient, lol.) You could save even more by doing just regular processing. You can get them spiral bound, or even punch a hole in the corner and slide them on a book ring. So easy!

And did I mention that THEY ARE DARLING??? The designs, the incredible detail and information? Perfect. I also really like that they are great for both younger and older ages. Little ones can look at and enjoy all the pictures, while there is enough text and interesting reading for the older ones to be interested as well.

Are your kids trying to memorize the Articles of Faith? Not only do they provide the 4x6 size, but also a smaller 3x4 size that can be put on a book ring and attached to scriptures, AND an 8x10 version that's perfect for displaying in your home.

I just had to share them with you! Click on each title for the link to that quiet book...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

{strawberries on a stick}

Chocolate dipped strawberries were part of our Valentine's dinner this past week, and my kids had so much fun helping me make them.

To make it easier for them to dip and to eat, I cut off the stem, then slid a sucker stick right into the hole on the bottom of the strawberry. Perfect! This simple idea is a new way to enjoy an old favorite.

I also love the presentation of it...they look SO cute on a plate for any kind of party.




Friday, February 18, 2011

{a place for supplies}

I've been on the hunt for some ways to store all of our art supplies, so I thought I would share some of the fun ideas I've found!


Art Pails

I adore these art pails by Scissors and Spatulas!!! Her idea to hang them is so clever, I just love it!


Hanging Fabric Baskets

Fabulous. There's no other word for these baskets by The Mother Huddle. How cute would these be, on a smaller scale--maybe 5 or 6 in a row--filled with art supplies? Love it!


Ballard Inspired Paper Holder

I know my kids would LOVE this. Infarrantly Creative shares this fun and super cute way to store art paper!


Magnetic Art Board

I love this idea by Sweet Serendipity--how fun for a kids' room, or for a playroom wall.


Cracker Jar Storage

I think cracker jars are just so cute, plus the are typically pretty inexpensive. Lemon Tree Creations demonstrates several storage ideas using them, and I think they would be perfect for art supplies!


Art Clip Rails

You have to have a way to display all that fun artwork! This idea by Knock-off Wood is perfect!


Have a wonderful weekend! It's an abnormally (and LOVELY) warm weekend here, so despite all the slush and melting snow, I'm definitely going to enjoy it!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

{playroom pails}

We have a big magnet board in our playroom, and it is not only well-loved, but one of the favorite places to play. I only had one problem. I had a hard time figuring out to best store all the magnets. If I left them on the magnet board, then there wasn't much room left to actually play. (Which usually resulted in every single magnet pulled off and thrown all over the room.) If I had them in a tub in the closet, then I was constantly taking them down and putting them back up again.

So, after my darling 1 year old pulled off the lower rain gutter bookshelf from the wall (he definitely does not know his own strength), I decided to replace with some fun pails to store the magnets in. Solved both problems--a place for them to be, plus easy access for the kids. This project was also VERY inexpensive--less than $10, including the paint. LOVE it.

Finding pails was harder than I thought. At first I envisioned galvanized metal pails, and I searched everywhere from the dollar stores to Michael's (and everywhere in between) with no luck. Either they were way too expensive, or they didn't have a handle, or they were the wrong size. I'm also really impatient, and I'm sure if I had waited a couple of weeks I could have found something, but when I get an idea in my head, I always want it finished immediately. Finally I found these gray pails at Target, for only $2.50! They were a great size, and looked fairly indestructible. Later I realized that all the magnets would have stuck to the sides of the metal pails anyway, so this worked out perfectly!

(I am apologizing in advance for the pictures. Our playroom is in the basement, thus very little natural light. So--some pics are using a flash, and others are a little dark, but hopefully you get the idea.)

Playroom Pails

  • 2x6 board
  • 1/2 inch dowel
  • 1/4 inch dowel
  • spray paint
  • screws
  • wood buttons
  • pails!
The board is a 2x6 that was cut to the right length for the wall. It's a heavy piece of wood, so we made sure that it would line up with the studs where it attached to the wall. You could also use a 2x4, but I wanted room to put vinyl above the hooks.

I had originally purchased wooden pegs from Michael's, thinking I could just add those to the board for hooks, but the pails were too big, so we had to go with Plan B. Instead, we cut a 1/2 inch dowel into the length we needed them to be, per the size of the pail. The holes for the dowel were made with a spade bit attached to our drill. Those holes went all the way through through the board, to be flush with the back.

The 1/4 inch holes were made on top of the large dowel pieces the same way, except they don't go quite all the way through. This tiny piece of wood helps the pail stay on the hook, and not slide right off.

Once the board and hooks were finished, I painted it with Rustoleum's Colonial Red spray paint, and one it was dry, took a power sander to the edges.

The board was then screwed into the studs on the wall, and we added wood buttons also painted red to over the holes. You don't have to hang it like this, but it does make sure it's completely secure on the wall. Which obviously, we need. :)

I used my Silhouette to cut vinyl for the numbers, but you could use stencils to paint them on, or mod podge cute paper numbers on as well. I decided not to add any wording to the pail, since I knew they would be dragged around the playroom, and most likely not stay put too long, lol.

The kids already love it. And so do I!