Printable gift tags and such

In case you still need gift tags and packaging ideas, you can find a mother lode of options over here at Tipnut, including a link to these from Sugarloop, shown above.

This is my last blog post before the holidays. I'm on vacation! I hope you all enjoy yourselves, too, whatever you'll be doing. Back soon...
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Online memory game

Play this little memory matching game online at Sodapix, a Swiss stock photo company. (Via Swiss Miss.)
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Download some animal stickers

Get a PDF of these cute animals from the talented Lotta Bruhn. Print them on sticky label paper or decoupage them onto something. Thank you, Lotta, and thanks for the tip, Babalisme.
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It seemed like a good idea

We have an aluminum tree this year, but weren't sure how to light it. Idea one: use a string of Christmas lights like normal people do on Christmas trees. The problem: the cords only come in dark green or white, and both stick out like a sore thumb on this tree. Idea two: get one of those color wheel things that people used decades ago. The problem: It doesn't light up your tree whatsoever, and the gizmo is, to quote my husband, "a piece of crap."

So we went with idea three: silver metallic spray paint. (We taped the bulbs so they wouldn't be painted, in case they get too hot and burst into flames or something.) The result is awesome. Just one small problem: it's been 3 days and the paint is still sticky. Hmmm. It's perfectly dry on the plug and lightbulb sockets. But the cord is still tacky to the touch. Why??? Maybe by mid-January it will be dry enough to pack up and store for next year, if it hasn't glued itself to the tree permanently by then. But hey, the lights look great and you can't see the cord at all!

Here's a bad photo for you. The tree is about six feet tall and rather skinny. It's like me in high school. I had silver metal braces, too.

Update: The paint was still tacky when we packed up the lights for storage in January. When we took them out again in December one year later, the paint was finally dry. Also, thanks for considering my safety, friends. I'm pleased to report that after using the lights on the tree for three years, we have not been electrocuted.
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Downloadable gift tags

Last night I printed some of these from Martha Stewart to stick on presents. Get them here.
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Shop announcement

Get 50% off all mousepads and postcard sets in my shop this Saturday and Sunday, 12/13-14.
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More ornaments to make

If you are not yet sick to death of making Christmas decorations, here are more projects with instructions:

Paper evergreens at Martha Stewart (shown above)
Styrofoam ornaments by Kathleen George
Flying felt birds at Disney Family
Very time-consuming garland at Craft Stylish
Fabric Christmas trees at The Small Object
A paper wreath from Real Living magazine
Clay ornaments at Living Creatively
Snowflake ornaments at Domino Magazine
Papercraft elves at macula TV
Paper bag gingerbread towns for kids at Family Fun

(Image from marthastewart.com)
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Good news: no serial killers.

Last night was the little gathering of blog readers at my house. There were nine guests, and each person turned out to be very, very wonderful. A large knife was brandished at one point, but it was only used for cutting cake. Whew. We all managed to fit at my long dining room table and ate desserts, made some paper ornaments, and compared thumb flexibility. One person had heard a theory that the further your thumb bends backwards, the more artistic you are. I'm not sure we arrived at any conclusions, but we had a good time. Guys, thanks so much for coming over!
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Vector snowflakes

Free snowflakes for all you Illustrator users. Get an .ai and .pdf file here, compliments of Jeni-cek.
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Paper flower ornaments

I was trying to think of other ways to make easy ornaments from paper and created these last night while watching CSI reruns. They're made from cheap computer paper. How to:

1. Cut one piece of 8 1/2" x 11" paper into 1" strips (oriented landscape so you end up with 11 strips).

2. Stack them and staple them once in the center, then fold the stack in half to form a little book. (If the strips are too long for your stapler to reach the center, either trim them a bit shorter or swing your stapler open and staple the stack on a magazine or cutting mat. Then bend the staple closed.)

3. Put a little piece of double-stick tape at the tip of the first "page." Then bend it inward toward the center and stick it down. Repeat for every "page" until you have a circular flower shape.

4. Hang with invisible thread. (Yeah, there is such a thing! You can buy clear thread at a fabric store.)

Of course I had to do an orange one.
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Orange and purple

Didn't I just get done saying I don't like orange and purple together very much? Yeah, then I go and buy this planner. $2.99, CVS Pharmacy. I always keep a "month at a glance" version around, but usually this cheap kind has some dumb photos of puppies or palm trees on them. I'll take orange and purple, thank you.
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Felt stockings galore

These are the stockings my mom and I made last Christmas for our family for hanging at her house. The production sort of spilled over into after Christmas, due to a miscalculation on how long they would take, so I didn't post them here last year. (Click the photo to view larger.) Guess which one is mine!
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Free printable 2009 calendar

The folks at Mibo are offering a printable 2009 calendar PDF and a chance to win a lovely tea towel (giveaway is every three months) to those who join their mailing list. Click here to sign up for your calendar.
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Some Christmas decorating

For the first year ever, we didn't get a real Christmas tree. I bought this aluminum one on eBay after Christmas last year. I love real trees, but I also like to change things up. And I think if you're going to have a fake tree, it shouldn't even pretend to look like a real tree. So we have this. I made a tree skirt for it out of the Fireworks fabric. (Hey, shipping at JCaroline is only $5 on all domestic orders through Dec. 20, I just discovered.)

And what is that creepy looking garden gnome doing under the tree, you ask? You may remember this post, where I explained that he is Alex's childhood Christmas friend. And that Alex believes he's an elf. So the, um, elf has to stay, he and his little present, which Alex allowed me to rewrap this year. I'd always wondered what was in that box.

I made some vase slip covers, too. You can read my easy tutorial at Modish this week or find it in my archives if you want to make some.

And I had some fabric scraps left so I was going to make a whole bunch of these stuffed ornaments and do a garland or something. Except I lost interest after making just one. And I was so lazy I couldn't even stitch the opening shut after I stuffed it. I used a glue gun. Maybe next time I will try to do a whole sewing project with a glue gun. Yes.
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Orange printable holiday gift tags

Download a free Word template from Microsoft that works with Avery paper products. You can customize the message and print 'em out. I like.
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I sewed.

I was dying to use my fabric to make a pair of non-traditional, retro-looking stockings for Alex and me. And then, despite repeated pin injuries, because I loved them so much, I kept going and made a few extra to stick in the shop. They're lined with fuzzy fleece and I wish I could wear them on my feet. Of course I'd have to make them about 10 times bigger. Because I have big feet, not because they are mini stockings.

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Devrah's wall art project

HAO reader Devrah emailed me a picture of the fabric wall art she made. I love it! She wanted a 6' x 2' piece of art, so to save money, she bought two 2' x 3' frames and screwed them together, then stretched black and white IKEA fabric over the whole thing. And the best part: she used orange fabric paint to fill in some of the shapes in the print to coordinate with her bookshelves, shown below. Genius!

It looks like IKEA is no longer selling the exact print Devrah used, but you could add your own color to one of these black and white prints. For instructions for stretching fabric over frames, see here.
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Wanna come to my house?

I'm always wishing I could meet you guys. This seems difficult since right now there are about 6,000 of you clicking over here on week days, plus another 7,600 subscribing to the feed. I can't fly you all here and fit you into my condo! Here's the best I can do:

I'm going to host a little holiday get-together for women (sorry, gents) at my place* on Thursday evening, Dec. 11, 7:30-10:00 PM.

I can fit 6 ladies in addition to a few friends I've invited (whom I'm going to recruit to make some yummy treats for us; they just don't know that yet :) It will be festive and fun, and we'll drink hot cocoa and eat lots of sugar and chat and make a bunch of these because they're easy and pretty.

So if you live in the Chicago area and you're not a serial killer and you don't mind making a trek to Evanston (I'm close to an L stop), email me and put PARTY in the subject line.

The first 6 people to RSVP are in. I'll send you directions and more details. When the 6 seats are filled up, I'll put a notice here.

*Note that the house will not be as clean as in the photo above, so please keep your expectations low.

UPDATE: The 6 spots are now filled. But if this turns out to be as fun I as expect, I'll likely host another one sometime. (Assuming no serial killers sneak in and ruin it for everyone.)
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Black Friday freebie

Get a free Utopia postcard set with any tote bag purchase in my shop this Friday (12:00 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. CST Nov. 28 only.) Also: Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!
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Gifts to make: packaging

If you're going to make a handmade present, you may as well get creative on the packaging, too. Some fun ideas:

Gift card box by Heather Bailey
Monogram gift tags at Martha Stewart (pictured above)
Origami box at U-Handbag (and if you don't have any patterned paper you like, browse here and print some yourself)
Plastic grocery bag pom poms at Creature Comforts
How to make various bows from the Container Store

(Image from marthastewart.com)
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New ribbon now available

I've made more stupid and useless ribbon! Heh heh. These designs that match my fabric are available right here at JCaroline Creative. Contact them directly if you're interested in wholesale orders. Or see some things to make with ribbon if you need ideas.

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Gifts to make: for babies and kids

Some things you can make for little ones:

Fifties-style bib at Living Creatively
Slip cover for a Boppy pillow from Walter+Veronica
Diaper bag by A Mingled Yarn
Roll-up travel baby chair at Canadian Living
No-sew fleece blanket at A Chelsea Morning
Felt play landscapes at PlumPudding
Decorative bunting at stitch.rip.repeat
Custom paper silhouettes at DesignSponge
Beanbag chair from Michael Miller
Felt food at Design Mom
Felt bears at Canadian Living (pictured above)

(Image from Canadian Living)
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Gifts to make: for the home

We've got a long weekend coming up, so if you plan to make your own holiday gifts (or are just bored out of your mind at home), here are some ideas. I'll post more on Tuesday and Wednesday so you'll have no shortage of lovely things to make after Thanksgiving.

Oak leaf bowls at Martha Stewart
Appliqued no-sew bird pillows from Good Housekeeping
Book-based artwork, also from Good Housekeeping
Patchwork kitchen mat from Sew, Mama, Sew
Lotta Jansdotter's wall organizer (pictured above) at Living Creatively
Cute storage crates from Laura Gunn
Wood wall clock at DesignSponge

(Image from livingcreatively.com.au)
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Bags, bags, everywhere!

My mom has been sewing up a storm. New totes made with my fabric are in the shop. It's horrible to have these sitting around, because every time I go somewhere, I want to take a different one along with me. But that would be naughty. What if it got dirty? No. Must. Resist.
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5-minute cake in a mug

Since the last post got me in the mood for chocolate, I had to try this crazy-sounding recipe for microwaved cake in a mug. Verdict: not bad. I don't know what wattage my microwave is, but 2 min. 30 sec. was plenty of time. I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa because that's all I have at the moment. And I didn't have cake flour so I used regular. It came out with an interesting, slightly rubbery texture that's pleasant in a fascinating, springy kind of way. I think I will make this again. Maybe.

(Update: A link to a forum with hilarious reviews of a recipe like this is right here. If you don't make the cake, at least read a few of the comments about it. Actually, after you do that, you won't want to make the cake.)

(2/6/2011 Update to the update: I now consistently use Squirrel Momma's version of this recipe. I've tried three different recipes for chocolate cake in a mug, and so far hers wins.)
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Printable chocolate bar wrappers

From Rachel Ray's magazine: customizable chocolate bar wrappers you can use as party favors. Get some jumbo chocolate bars ( 5 oz.), then print, cut, fold, and tape. You should probably eat at least one bar before beginning, to fortify yourself first.
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Umbrella loveliness

Once upon a time, it was raining in Chicago and a friend pointed out that my plain black umbrella was simply inappropriate. Why in the world didn't I have an orange one? Easier said than done. Where does one get a cute orange umbrella?

Lo and behold, a few weeks later the kind folks at The Umbrella Society emailed to introduce their shop, and I was in love. My black umbrella has now been replaced by some lovely orangeness. Browse the store! Get free shipping when you buy two. And best of all, money from the sale of each umbrella goes to help fight teen suicide in Japan and fund an orphanage project in India.
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Dachshunds!

I just discovered these pups made by Alice Apple from my Amusement Park fabric! Available in her Etsy shop right here. They made me giggle with delight.
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Downloadable party invitations

Download some nice orangey printable place cards and party invitations here from Canadian House and Home. (Thanks, Stacia!)
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Office accessory ideas

Good Housekeeping has a list of ten ways to add a little DIY creativity to your home office, including vintage metal trays used as bulletin boards. Go take a look.

(Image from Good Housekeeping)
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Fabric fridge frame

A used corrugated cardboard box was sitting around here collecting dust, so I decided to chop it up and make something out of it. (More on the chopping at the end of this post.) Voila, a magnetic picture frame.

To make this, cut a piece of corrugated cardboard to the size you want. (Make sure the opening is slightly smaller than the dimensions of the photo you intend to frame.) Cut a piece of cotton batting or thick fleece exactly the same size and glue it to the cardboard, then turn it face down. Next, cut your fabric into a rectangle that allows you enough extra to wrap around to the back of the frame. Trim the outer corners off at 45ยบ and cut slits toward the inner corners. Then wrap the fabric to the back and glue. (I used some gel fabric glue, but it's messy. Next time: glue gun.)

Add a felt backing with either a slit for inserting your photo, or just stick on two separate pieces, one for the pocket and another strip across the top to hide the fabric's ugly raw edges. When you glue the felt on, apply the glue just outside of the area where the photo will sit. Make sure the outer edges are stuck down, too, and add some magnets to hold it on your fridge.

The reason I was desperate to chop up a cardboard box was so I could try out my new toy: this Skil Power Cutter. It's cordless, self-sharpening, and makes slicing through cardboard and foam core a piece of cake. If you have a job that requires precision and perfectly straight lines, this is not your tool, but for cutting things down to size quickly, it's perfect. Love it.
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Gallery of orange rooms

Check it out! A collection of orange-themed rooms for your decorating inspiration, over at Desire to Inspire. Kim observes that gray, white, taupe and chartreuse are commonly used with orange when decorating. So what color do you think looks nastiest with orange? I gotta say, for me it's purple. When I post something purple here, and see it up there near my crazy orange header, my stomach lurches a little. But I think there's a way for any two colors to work together, even in unconventional pairings, if you're smart about what you put with it. Thoughts? Examples?

(Images from Michael Robinson, left; Mark Lund, right.)
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Oreo truffles in a gift box

Here's a project I want to do for the holidays: make little paper gift boxes filled with Oreo truffles. It sounds ambitious, but I suspect it's pretty easy. Better be, because I'm feeling lazy lately. I was inspired by eating these yummy truffles at my friend Megan's place last week. So delish and super simple to make. And good for you, too! Ha. Here's Bakerella's recipe (and the slightly simpler Kraft Foods version she adapted). For origami gift box instructions, click here to make a small box, and here to make a larger one. I think I'll need to invite some pals over to the Jones truffle factory and make an evening of it.

(Images from Bakerella, left, and K. Werner Design, right.)
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Win two posters from The Poster List

Just when you were feeling bummed that your number didn't come up in the bag and apron giveaway, you've got another chance to win something: your choice of any two 12" x 18" posters from The Poster List! Just leave a comment here mentioning which poster in their shop is your favorite (and make sure there's a way to contact you if you win.) One random comment number will be drawn, and you'll be contacted to find out your mailing address and which two posters you'd like to receive. Contest ends Friday (11/14) at midnight CST.

UPDATE: This contest is now closed. The lucky random winner was Jan, with comment number 185. Congratulations!
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If you like to look at pretty pictures

Check out this site where you can search Flickr by color. Let's pick a color you might like. Um, how about orange? So you click your favorite orange hue in the palette, and all orange photos come up. You can add more colors to your list and see photos that are orange and pink, let's say. Keep adding or changing your color list to see more pictures, then click on a thumbnail to view any photo on its original Flickr page. I don't know what this is good for, but it's kind of cool.
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Newly added to the shop

Mom has been sewing some more, and sent over four new bags to add to my shop!
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Projects to make


Retro paper straw wreath at Styrofoam Crafts, pictured left
Snow Mum pillow from Amy Butler, pictured right
Fabric storage cubes at Crazy Mom Quilts
Paper patchwork notebook cover by iHanna
54 free apron patterns at TipNut
A prize ribbon pin at Craft Stylish
Folded paper flower CD sleeve from Curbly
Fall berry wreath at Martha Stewart
Wall stencil headboard from Good Housekeeping
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Download ObamaBats

Get this font free: "a collection of 24 high-quality dingbats featuring Barack Obama and various design elements," created by designer Jeff Domke. Regardless of your political persuasion, you've gotta admit they look pretty cool. I'm tempted to go stencil pictures of our 44th president on sidewalks and brick walls. Well, not really. But I do think it's fun when you see people's heads in random places around the city. (Via SwissMiss.)
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