Altered Composition Book

Making an altered composition book to give as a gift to those who love to journal, doodle or jot down a quick note is a fun, quick and extremely creative way to get your craft on. It's relatively inexpensive and can be heavily embellished or streamline and simple. The one pictured above is my most recent endeavor which I'm really excited to give to a dear friend of mine and I know she's going to love it!

The basic supplies are really simple to gather and if you don't already have them, you can get hooked up at your favorite craft store (hello Michael's!). You'll just need a composition book (totally stock up on these at Target during 'Back To School' sales - you can usually pick up two for $.99 which is a great bargain) and 4 sheets of coordinating scrapbook paper. You can use the 8.5x11 size sheets but I prefer the 12x12 because you have extra to use in embellishing. I used Mod Podge as my glue though you can use whatever you have on hand - just make sure it dries clear and give a strong bond.

Determine which papers you want to use where, measure the height and width of your book and make your cuts. It's pretty important to be exact here so don't assume that measurements for each front/back/inside covers will be the same and don't 'eyeball' it or you'll either come up short and be able to see the cover of the book or you'll find yourself doing a lot of trimming.

I use a corner cutter on one side of my paper to match up with the corners of the comp book. If you're going to embellish your pages with anything that will go through your paper or need to be taken around to the back of it (like brads or ribbon), it's best to do this before you adhere your paper to the book - you'll have a cleaner and smoother look to your finished product. Before adhering would also be the time to ink the edges of your paper if you're wanting to do that as well.

I've seen some of these notebooks where only the front and back outside covers have been altered which I really dislike. Your book will look so much better if you alter the inside covers as well plus doing so gives you more space to play! Get creative! Add ribbon, brads, initials, poetry...you can really do so much!

Inside front cover...

Inside back cover...

Back cover...

You can really personalize this for the one you're giving it to - and don't forget those cute mini composition books too! They're great to use for all of the left over scraps you have from your larger book and they make perfect stocking stuffers too!


Framed Heart Valentine

Another sweet Valentine's Day project found over at Tatertots and Jello, a wonderful blog full of great projects and ideas. Click here for the details on how to make this for yourself to V-day up your place or to give to friend festooned with curls of ribbon.

I used a frame that I already had and scrapbook paper that I'd recently purchased for another project I'm working on. I used a heart-shaped cookie cutter that I had to trace my design and I can tell you, the finished product came out about twice the size but that's just me wanting the heart to look just so. Definitely take the time to let it dry before you put it in the frame or your marbles will drop off (guess how I know this?)

Isn't it cute though? I definitely want to try it with the Xs and Os as on the T&J site. Also, while I really like how the clear marbles pick up the color of the paper used, I'd like to see the heart done in red marbles on pink paper or on something black and white or the letters done in black marbles on red or pink paper ~ Ooo La La!


Coconut Oil Deodorant

I absolutely love handmade spa and beauty products; making my own face masks and body scrubs....it's fun, wonderfully economical and I love the herbal smells that fill my bathroom and shower when I use them. There's also the added benefit of actually knowing what the ingredients are that I'm putting onto my skin and since I've heard a lot about the aluminium salts used in many antiperspirants (to block the pores so you don't perspire) can get into breast tissue and has a potential link with breast cancer. This, in my opinion, makes the use of a natural deodorant even more appealing.

Knowing this, I've tried several over the counter natural deodorants (won't name any names here) that haven't worked for me at all ~ not as far as odor is concerned anyway and who wants to be dry but still smell? "Not I," said the Little Red Hen.

Okay, segue into my journey with raw foods (more about that in a future blog) and using coconut oil in my diet for it's many health benefits and I find that it's also used as a beauty product and.....as an ingredient in natural deodorant which you can easily make yourself.

There are recipes all over the net for making this but the recipe is generally the same all around:

4-5 tablespoons of melted virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch or arrowroot powder (I use cornstarch)

Mix everything together (it will have the consistency of thin pancake batter) and pour it into a re-purposed deodorant container or into a small lidded jar. That's all there is to it! Just be sure to keep your deodorant in the refrigerator if you use your old container as I did. When I'm going to need it, after I shower for example, I simply take it out before I get in so that it softens up a bit and goes on easily (be sure to put it back into the refrigerator when you're done). You could also just keep it in a jar in your bathroom, scoop out a small amount when you want to use it and rub it onto your armpits.

A couple of things to note:

* you may need to rub it in a bit before you get dressed
* a bit of white may get on your clothes if you don't rub it in
* this deodorant works so wonderfully that you can easily go longer than a day without using more. I know this may gross you out but it's totally true.
* it smells WONDERFUL! I remember having my husband smell me several times throughout the day when I first started using it - I was SO amazed by it!

Add a pretty label to your container and make some for yourself to feel pretty and healthy and make some for your friends who will be just as amazed as you are by how well it works!


Sparkling Heart Necklace

Valentine's Day is less than a month away and the net is abounding with the sweetest ideas for something homemade to give. In fact, I haven't purchased a Valentine gift or card in years because, in my opinion, there's something sacred about making a gift for your Valentine that has always held with me and this year is no different.

So in browsing around One Pretty Thing which is one of the best sites for craft ideas, I found this lovely idea from Muffin Tin Mom. I've never worked with clay before and after this craft I'm not really sure why. It's actually really fun and easy and, as noted on MTM's site, is also something fun to do with your children!

So, as noted in the directions here, I went to Michael's and picked up some of the clay that was on sale. They didn't have any cream or white so I was forced to get some that was colored. Not really what I wanted to do but this worked out fine in the end. I picked up some very fine glitter in the Martha Stewart ($4.99) section and an 18-inch silver chain ($2.99) in the jewelry section. I also went ahead and purchased the fondant heart cutters because I didn't have anything small enough. These were $2.99 though I'm sure you could easily free form these or use a cutter from home if you already have one.

I also opted not to purchase a metal/plastic/acrylic roller; being that they were $10 and this was my first time working with clay - I figured I'd just use my regular old wooden rolling pin which worked fine and I also used items from my sewing box to help me along. Seriously, it's often about what you already have on hand.

So, just follow the directions from MTM which are really straight forward. I didn't use any paints which, of course you could do on yours. You'll also see that I put my hole in a different place and made my way into a bit of beading. I also added a bit of ribbon which is a sweet touch. Seriously though, these are inexpensive to make and don't you know your female Valentine friends would just gush over receiving one from you!


Elegant Tile Coasters

Countless moisture rings on various tables I've owned can attest to the fact that I've never owned a set of coasters nor have I been very bothered by the rings. I sure like the idea of coasters though and when I saw the lovely handmade sets over at The Graphics Fairy and Calamity Anne's Adventures, I knew I had to try them out.

They were a bit messy to make (much transfer medium on my fingers) but well worth it - they're gorgeous and would make a delightful hostess or houswarming gift tied with some gorgeous ribbon and paired with a good bottle of wine or the mixings for a cooling mohito (yum!) or Bombay Saphire and tonic (my favorite!). Directions to make these are here and here so I won't post them though I will tell you how it worked out for me.

First, I used all of the same supplies except that the Lowes I went to for tumbled marble coasters/tiles didn't have any so I used porcelain that was made to look like tumbled marble and they were $.38 a piece - not bad.

Royalty free images aboud so get to searching though I will give this word of caution: it can get time consuming because there are SO many out there and if you're anything like me, you can spend many happy hours looking at all of them. Here's a pic of my letters soaking in the water:

Taking the paper backing off takes more time than the original directions led me to believe. I did some of it on a cutting board, some back in the bowl of water and yet more under running water. Then, though this wasn't in the original directions, I blotted the wet transfer before I put more glaze on it and set it on the tile. Also, even though I'd measured and cut the paper to fit the tiles, I still had to do a bit of trimming up afterward. And after removing the paper from the first transfer and having to trim it up after I'd put it on the tile with more of the glaze, I realized that it was much less messy to do this before adhearing it.

The cork went on easily too. I purchased the smallest roll from Michael's at a cost of $7.99 but which I'll get quite a few sets out of and, I'm sure, will be able to use for future projects as well. All in all, this was a really easy and fun project. I will absolutely be giving a set to several friends and my S-I-L's because I know they'll absolutely love them!

I love this project because it was only took a couple of hours (not including the 1-2 day drying time when you're finished) and you can really play with the images and fonts that you use. I was thinking that images of birds, vintage shoes (really want to try this), flourished hearts, single words could all be used - get creative!


For some time now I've been toying with the thought of starting a blog to share handmade gift ideas with anyone out there who may be looking for them. I find myself browsing the internet often and there are some amazingly creative people out there with fabulous ideas that are actually quite easy to do and sure to elicit much gushing excitement from the recipient.

Seriously though, how fun is it to give something that you've made to someone and they hold it in their hands and look at you and say, "You made this? It's gorgeous! I can't believe you made this!" And if you're at a baby or bridal shower, everyone who brought gifts from a store is a little envious of the precious hand embellished onesies, luxurious hand-knit scarf or glittering lavender sugar scrub that you made yourself; beautifully packaged and humbly presented.

So come along as I share my own ideas and ideas of others (all credit given to the originator, of course) that I'll make and give my take on as I share handmade gift ideas for holidays, particular events and special people (even the furry kind) in your life.

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