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brown paper packages: August 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

{2x4 raceway building blocks} featuring martha stewart paint & tools

I had the best day last week.  It was seriously like Christmas when a very large brown box showed up on my doorstep, and I opened it up to find it overflowing with the most fantastic products! 

I'm delighted to introduce you to the Martha Stewart Crafts Decorative Paint Line, brought to you exclusively by Plaid Crafts. I was privileged to preview the line, and I'm here to tell you that you are going to love it!  

Here's what I love about it...
  • It is incredibly versatile.The paint is formulated to work on ALL crafting surfaces including wood, metal, glass, ceramic, terra-cotta and fabric.  It is indoor/outdoor safe, dishwasher-safe on glass.
  •  There are 160 paint colors in five finishes (Satin, High Gloss, Glitter, Pearl, Metallic).
  • The line includes really cool specialty brushes, and 3 sizes of stencils---large, medium, and adhesive.
  • One of the things I'm most excited about? A spray paint kit that turns all of their craft paints into spray paint! (Click HERE for more details.)
My boys are two, and totally obsessed with cars, so as soon as I saw the car and road stencils in the Large "Playroom" Stencil set, I knew what I wanted to do for my first project.  I created a raceway and building block set out of a 2x4, and I must say, it has been a HUGE hit. What I love about it is that they can create roads for their cars (and use larger cars that don't fit on other race tracks), and also use them as blocks--can't beat that!

  • 2x4, cut into desired lengths (cars:  5.25 in., long track: 9 in., corner track: 3.5 in.)
  • gray spray paint
  • Craft Paint {Martha Stewart}
  • Car and road stencils {Martha Stewart}
  • Brushes {Martha Stewart utility and pouncer brushes}
  • sander


1.  Cut your 2x4 into desired lengths. (see the sizes I used above)

2.  Spray all the blocks gray.  I used Rustoleum's Granite spray paint, satin finish.  (I would have used the Martha Stewart line, but I didn't have a gray.) Let dry completely.

3.  Stencil on the road and car, using whatever colors you like!  (No, I don't have hairy fingers.  Yes, that is my very cooperative husband who held it down while I took pictures.)

4.  I could have stopped here, but I didn't.  I have this internal compelling force to distress everything I make, and despite my husband's arguments to the contrary, I went to work with my sander.  After all, roads don't look brand new, do they???!!! However, the paint comes off really fast, so be careful. I know this from personal experience, lol. Use a damp cloth to wipe off the excess dust, and you're done!  So easy!

I just love how they turned out. Kind of a vintage-y feel to them. Most of all, the boys loved them too.

You can make as many as you like, creating as big of a raceway as you want to.  I definitely need to make some more! These also work really well inside OR outside, and all the blocks are perfect for stacking.

What a super fun gift for a little boy you know!


HERE is a link to a 40% off coupon to get you started!

Here are a few other great tutorials using this line...

{Back to School Crafting Fun} The Crafting Chicks
{Stenciled Pillows} Tater Tots and Jello
{Frosted Mirror} A Little Tipsy
{Stenciled Pencil Skirt} Brassy Apple

*100% of all opinions belong to me...full post disclosure here.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

{photography with lei} fun with props

Hello everyone!  How's the photography coming?  Are you seeing improvement in your photographs?  Have you been playing around in manual mode?  I would love to hear from you!  Email me with questions, or photos you're proud of (or want help with)... my email is  And please visit me on facebook!

Today I thought it would be fun to delve into the creative side of photography a bit more.  Developing a sense of style of course is very important in achieving beautiful portraits!  All the know-how in the world isn't going to get you that.  You have to stretch your imagination, think outside the box!

I am not too "prop heavy" in my portrait sessions, but I do have a little fun. :)  Especially with kiddos.  Because then they have fun, too!  And having fun = smiling, laughing kids.  Give a child an opportunity to use THEIR imagination, and they will surely give you a perfect shot or two.

Here are some examples of things that have worked well for me:

{back to school pictures - I use books, pencils, globes, I even have a mini chalkboard that I can write simple math equations on.}

{this is just an open backed frame that I spray painted white.}

{love the pop of color these tissue paper flowers give these two sisters in their sweet, white dresses - very easy to make! i followed a standard pom pom flower tutorial and then stuck bamboo skewers in them.}

{oranges!!! fun, right? first a prop, then a snack. ;)}

{baby in a tea cup!  I got this at walmart - the planter, not the baby -  he is my nephew, though.}

{this old galvanized wash tub - with cheerios hiding in the bottom - provides some fun for my 2 year old nephew!}

That's just a few ideas to get your juices flowing.  It would be fun to share what you come up with next time I post.  So feel free to email me your ideas and we can all share in the creativity!

Until next time. :)


Monday, August 22, 2011

{boo! beadboard sign}

With the month long Back 2 Basics event coming up in September, I thought I would get a jump start on something fun for Halloween.

I have a corner in my kitchen where I usually keep a chalkboard frame, but I wanted to make something that would go there during the holidays.  I went to my workshop, and found the most perfect piece of beadboard--I knew exactly what I wanted to do. 

I {LOVE} it! This is a quick and easy project--just the way I like it!.
Read more »

Friday, August 19, 2011

{elmer's craft camp}

When Elmer's contacted me about doing a craft camp for kids, I couldn't wait, and I knew just who I wanted to invite. Some of my best girlfriends have the most darling group of girls aged 7-10, and these girls are always creating fun projects and crafts for the younger kids. I just knew how much they would love getting together to create, plus go home with some really great products!

Elmer's sent me the most fantastic crate, filled with 6 burlap bags--1 adult bag, and 5 kid bags.  They were filled with all sorts of wonderful supplies--scissors, markers, glue dots, gel pens, craft foam board, and more. 

On the day of our camp, I set the picnic table with the supplies, their bags, and cute little name tags.

The girls decorated binders---they could use them for school, keepsakes, or whatever their hearts desired.  I was SO impressed with their creativity---they thought of things that I never would have!  

The time passed so quickly--we all had the best time!

In the end, they left with their fabulous binders...

it was such a pleasure creating and crafting together!

It's giveaway time!!!

Elmer's is giving one lucky brown paper packages reader 1 adult and 2 kid craft camp kits!  

Here's what came in our kits: 

Kid kits:
  • CraftBond Extra Strength Glue Stick
  • CraftBond Glue Spots
  • Project Popperz Markers
Adult kit:
  • CraftBond Gel Pens
  • CraftBond Extra Strength Glue Stick
  • CraftBond Tape Runner
  • Painters Markers
  • X-ACTO Zigzag and Scallop scissor packs
  • X-ACTO 8” Scissors
  • X-ACTO Punch
  • Mini Bi-Fold Foam Board
*note: giveaway kits may differ slightly, but will be just as fabulous!

To enter...(please leave a separate comment per entry on this post--no e-mails, sorry!)

*You must be a U.S. resident

1.  Leave a comment telling me what you would make with your kits!

3.  Follow Elmer's on Twitter

(must be a brown paper packages follower to win)

The giveaway will run through Friday, August 26th at midnight EST, and the winner will be announced on Saturday.

Good luck!!!

*A HUGE thanks to the fabulous Stephanie Lowe, of Stephanie Lowe Photography for taking all the wonderful pictures!  She is one of my best girlfriends, and her girls were at the camp that day. She totally helped me by taking pictures while I ran around and helped girlies. Thanks, Steph--you're the best!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

{back 2 basics} a fall event!

I am just so excited about this!

Some of the most fabulously talented bloggers around are going to be here the whole month of September, celebrating school days and everything it involves, in our Back 2 Basics fall event. They will be sharing recipes, tutorials, organizational ideas, free printables, and more!

Just look and see who will be here...

You just do not want to miss this...see you here, September 1st for Back 2 Basics!

Don't forget to grab a button, and spread the word!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

{baby bloom slippers}

My friend Martha made the MOST adorable shoes for her baby girl, and when I saw them, I was smitten. She sent me the link for the tutorial and I couldn't wait to try them. The facts that my babies just turned two, and that they are boys?  Minor details.

They literally took less than 20 minutes to make, and I LOVE that they are made from an old tee shirt. One of the cutest ways to recycle that I've ever seen! Using the collar pieces that are already hemmed means very little sewing (just a few hand stitches), and that makes me very happy.  :) Did I mention they were easy?  SO easy!

Now don't judge the way the slippers fit the baby in my pictures.  You would really want to measure the baby you were making these for first, or measure a baby of similar size. I don't have a small baby, so I just guessed, and they ended up being way too big.  

(Or it could *possibly* have something to do with the fact that I tried them on my two year old to see what they looked like, because I was too impatient to wait and he could have stretched them out. Possibly. )

Okay, here's how I did it:
Read more »

Monday, August 15, 2011

{giveaway and review} psa essentials

I have been having so much fun with the stamps from PSA Essentials.  Their stamps are really fun because they have switchable borders and middles--so you can mix and match leaving you with tons of different options.

 I was really excited when they sent me some stamps to try out and review, especially because I was able to choose which ones I wanted.  It was a really hard decision--they have SO many fun ones to choose from. I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that I decided on a set of alphabet stamps--to fuel my love for all things monogrammed and personalized. 

It's the small touches that make something extra special, and that's what these stamps do. It took just a few minutes to dress up regular every day items, and completely change how they look. I fell in love with these stamps--they are super easy to use, have great instructions, and with the interchangeable options give you a lot for your money. I keep adding stamps to my "need" list.  :)

I {love} this. This is a extra small paper sack, perfect for little treats or a small gift. I used my stamp to add the "g" (I didn't use the outer ring this time) to a piece of scrapbook paper that I punched with my 2 inch circle punch, then tied it on using brown grosgrain ribbon.  So simple, so darling.

I found this set of plain white notecards at Michael's for only $1 (of course I grabbed a stack of them!).

 30 seconds is all it took to transform those plain white cards into personalized stationery with a matching envelope.

Can I tell you how much I love paper lunch sacks?  I just do. What a darling way to mark whose lunch belongs to whom!

With two sets of twins at our house, we have two of just about everything.  Actually, we do have two of everything.  lol.  A simple stamp inside of a coloring book or book solves a lot of problems. And it's cute.

I can think of a million more ways to use these stamps, and I can't wait to start trying them all!

Guess what?  PSA Essentials wants to give a lucky reader their own custom stamp set, which includes a custom stamp and black ink pad (good up to 10,000 impressions) and free shipping--a $47.95 value!

Here's how you enter:  (please leave a separate comment per entry--no e-mails, sorry!)

1.  Head on over to PSA Essentials, take a look around, then come back here and tell me which stamps are your favorite.

2.  Like PSA Essentials on Facebook

3.  Like Brown Paper Packages on Facebook

You must be a brown paper packages follower to win!

The giveaway will run through Saturday, August 20th at midnight EST, and the winner will be announced on Sunday.

Good luck!

*Disclaimer:  I was not paid for this giveaway or review, however I did receive a set of stamps. All opinions are mine alone.  I was under no obligation to give a positive review.


It's here! It's here!

After literally MONTHS of creating, the "50+ Top Blogs All Time Favorite Recipes" cookbook is HERE!!! You may have seen a sneak peek of this gorgeous recipe book this past month. We hope you have been anxiously awaiting it. :) Now, until the end of August, it's available for purchase. But wait, scratch that, it's not a purchase. The best part is...

it's a donation!

100% of your donation will go to the American Red Cross to help the many people who have been affected by recent natural disasters around the world.

After seeing the devastation in Japan, several top blogs teamed together wanting to somehow make a difference. More than 50 blogs donated one of their favorite recipes to be complied into an incredible cookbook designed by chickabug (design talent was 100% donated as well). Basically a lot of people worked really hard to make something extraordinary. Now, it's in your hands to make a difference.

This one-of-a-kind cookbook was originally only going to be offered as an E-book for a $10 donation. But after receiving feedback from readers, we realized that many of you want a physical copy. We approached our favorite publisher, Paper Coterie, who was willing to donate 100% of the supplies, and 100% of the cost of printing for this amazing cause. Are you feeling the warm tinglies yet?! We are!!! This started out as one person having an idea. Now over 50 blogs and an amazing publisher are involved and now it's YOUR turn.

Together we can will make a difference. 

The E-book is for sale here for a $10 donation. If you have a computer in your kitchen or an electronic reader, (ipad, kindle,etc.) this is the copy for you. You can just click on the recipe you want from the table of contents and it will take you right there. It's sweet.

The hard cover cookbook is also available, (wait for it...) for only $10.
You will be amazed at the quality of this book. The only extra expense you will have will be for shipping ($4 or more depending on where you live and how many copies you order).

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You can smile knowing you made a difference to someone, somewhere. And you can smile because you will have a beautiful full color recipe book with gorgeous pictures and delicious recipes to try. We truly hope you love the cookbook. We think you will. You might just want to buy one for your mom, sister, and mother-in-law for Christmas. ;)

Please share this post with your friends and family on your blog, facebook, and twitter. Let's make this go VIRAL! How cool would that be?

Here is a button to put on your blog:

and the link:

Act FAST, because they will only be on sale through August 31st.

Remember 100% of the proceeds will be benefiting the American Red Cross.
*The American Red Cross name is used with its permission, which in no way constitutes an endorsement, express or implied, of any product, service, company, individual or political position. For more information about the American Red Cross, please call 1-800-HELP NOW or email


Thursday, August 11, 2011

{teacher gift ideas}

 I love sending a little something for the teacher on the first day of school, and I'm excited to share with you some of my favorite ideas.

{an apple for the teacher}

Yummy caramel apples are always a huge hit! My kids love to decorate the apple for their teacher, and while they're not perfect, they're totally charming. 

It doesn't have to be covered in caramel to be cute though--place a stick in an apple, and add your tag.  SO cute! What about a whole bag of apples?


 {"mint" to be}

Andes Mints are my son's favorite candy, and they were the inspiration behind this yummy idea.I put them in a Crystal Light container--which I LOVE.  The wrapping isn't sticky at all, so it's SUPER easy to take off.  It's a great size for all sorts of things--start saving them, they'll be perfect around Christmastime too!!


{hot fudge}

 I made hot fudge last year, and I loved it so much I wanted to share it again, along with a printable.  Click HERE for the original post, and delicious recipe!



When I made jam a few weeks ago, I went ahead and made a printable that makes it perfect for giving to teachers!



To download the printables, click HERE.

*there are two hot fudge printables--one is 2x2, meant for circle tags, the other is 2x4 to use as a label as shown in the picture above. 

I sized the images to a little less than 2 inches in a Word document, the printed them out on Bazzill cardstock.  I used a 2 inch circle punch to cut them out, then distressed the edges with Distress Ink (vintage photo).  I used my Silhouette to cut out scalloped circles (2.8 inches) to mat the circles.  I punched a hole in the top and used ribbon and fabric strips (apple) to tie the tag on.

mint fonts:  century gothic, monster paparazi, gentle redhead
hot fudge fonts:  too much paper, century gothic, ma sexy
apple fonts: waterfalls, gentle redhead


School days are {almost} here!