#StationeryLoversXmas Swap

Earlier this month I took part in the lovely #StationeryLoversXmas swap organised by the ladies behind the blogs Claireabelle Makes and Mab is Mab. There was a round up blog post on the Claireabelle Makes blog showing some of the things that were sent and received. I thought I would share the wrapped items I sent to my swap partner with you.

The swap basically involved exchanging stationery items with a partner that you were allocated. I jumped at the chance as I love stationery and receiving things in the post. In the end though, I actually found the buying and wrapping part so much fun I sort of forgot I would get anything in return. 

I was lucky to have been given quite a lot of information about my swap partners stationery likes, so was able to use that as a guide when buying the items. I didn't take a before wrapping photo of the items I sent but they included a notebook, stickers, stamps and washi tape. I even knew my swap partners favourite colour (turquoise) so incorporated it into the wrapping. 

I received these lovely notecards above in the swap. The box they came in is so nice I will use it long after the cards have run out. My favourite bit of the swap was actually the letter my partner sent me. I love that she decorated her own writing paper. We both want to remain pen pals to, so I could not have asked for a better outcome. 

A big thanks to Claire of Claireabelles Makes and Emma of Mab is Mab for organising the stationery swap. Such a great way to top up my stationery collection and connect with the online stationery lovers community.

Snail mail- Winter theme

Want to send someone a bit of (pretend) snow in the mail? All you need is a black envelope, plastic film wrapping and some confetti (or a hole punch and a sheet of white paper). Just cover the envelope with the plastic film wrap leaving an opening to insert your confetti. If you are going to use a hole punch to make your snow confetti keep the little circles that get punched out of the white paper. Then insert the punched out circles/confetti in between the film and the envelope. To finish up, seal the film wrap at the back of the envelope with either clear tape or adhesive. 

If you are worried the address may get covered with the snow you can apply an address label on top of the film on the front of the envelope (like I did with the stamp). I quite like the fact a postal worker may need to shake the envelope like a snow globe to see where it needs to go, so I left the address written on the actual envelope itself. So if you know someone who can not wait for some snow why not send them some happy wintery feel mail.

Mail art- A present in the post!

Here is a simple way to decorate your envelopes that will make your recipient feel they have received something special in the post. Letters can be uplifting, encouraging and perhaps even a source of therapy for some. So getting a letter can often feel like a gift when they arrive. Someone has, after all given you the gift of their time. Decorating my envelopes in the style of a present seemed very apt to me.

All you need to do to re-create this look is cross over some washi/decorative tape on to the envelope and stick on or draw a tag for the address. Any extra details and the address can be added with a pen. 

If you do not have any decorative tape why not try drawing the criss cross shape with a pen (such as felt tip or marker pen) instead.  A present in the post, would it be something you would like to receive? I would love to know what you think, you can leave a comment or tweet me your thoughts.

How-to make a post (money) box

You know you are a big snail mail fan when even Bisto gravy tubs appear to you as post boxes! I had the idea to turn a Bisto gravy granules tub into a post (money) box and this is how it turned out. 

Why a post box you ask? Well, I love sending letters just as much as receiving them and enjoy my trips to the post box. Sending the letters, notes and little parcels that I have enthusiastically put together, on their adventure to a person who is either waiting for them or will be surprised to get them (and hopefully have their day brightened a little) gives me such a happy and contented feeling. For me, it never gets boring to go and post a letter into one of those big regally red post boxes. I am still filled with wonder and amazement that letters manage to get to their right destinations at all, especially so quickly. So, I usually walk away (trying not to skip) from posting a letter into a post box with a big smile on my face. Having a smaller version of my own at home just made sense (just me?). A Bisto gravy tub seemed like the perfect thing to use to recreate a mini post box with it's shape and lid the perfect colour. 

I intended to make the post box into a money box, as I am always trying to save for something. I debated for a while whether to have the lid as the opening where the money would go in or to make an aperture just like a real post box where the letters (in this case money) usually go. I decided to go for the latter.

I know the detail proportions on my little post box are not exactly to scale, but it is just a bit of fun. If you would like to make one of your own you will need:
  • An empty Bisto gravy tub/ or similar size tub (As they are cardboard be careful not to get them to wet when cleaning the inside. I suggest using a slightly damp sponge/cloth or wet wipe)
  • Red card
  • White paper
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • A pencil, black biro pen, white pen/pencil and a marker pen
  • PVA glue and glue stick

This is how I made it.
1. Mark on you red card the width and height of the tub. Then cut out using scissors.
2. Draw the letter box opening onto the card and cut out opening. Then wrap the card around the tub again and mark out the opening onto that.
3. Using a craft knife cut out the letter box opening. Tip: If you do not have a craft knife or would prefer not to cut an opening, still draw the small rectangle. Instead of cutting the rectangle out though, colour it in black with a marker pen. Just remove the lid when you want to put money in or out.
4. Draw post box details onto the red card. Use a small rectangle of white paper for the post box collection time details. Write on and then stick the paper onto the red card using a glue stick. As its difficult to write that small you may just want to doodle instead of writing word for word or use my cheat option below instead. 
5. Glue the finished card onto the tub using PVA glue, matching up the letterbox openings
6. Place the lid on top and start saving!

Cheat option: If you don't like drawing why not use a picture off the internet. I confess, I found it tricky writing really small for the collection time info (the white rectangle) so instead I used a photo. I just searched Google images for a post box image and scaled it down to the size I wanted when I printed it off. I then cut out the bit I wanted to use. I realised though, I could have used an image for the whole door of the post box. So if you want to recreate this money box my time saving tip would be to find a good quality, straight and face on image of a post box. Scale to size when printing off (this may take a few tries) and then cut out the door section of the picture. Then all you will need to do is stick the image onto the red card that you have measured and cut out and draw the black rim along the bottom with a marker to give it a 3D effect.

So how is my saving going? Erm... well money wise not great, but note wise fantastic! It turns out my children really LOVE the post (money) box, they are also big mail fans. They haven't stopped playing with it and have been posting lots of little notes for me inside. It didn't occur to me that it would be something children would like (duh!), so I am happy that it has a multi-purpose use now. My lovely surprise notes certainly make up for the lack of savings!

Have you heard the news? There is a stationery swap to sign up to!

Have you heard about the Stationery Lovers Christmas Swap that is being hosted by Mab is Mab and Claireabelles? It looks to be fun! If you collect washi tape, are in need of some notebooks, like to use stickers or are just plain in love with all stationery full stop, signing up to the swap could be for you. After all who doesn't like getting gifts in the post? 

The deadline to enter is the 21st of November with swap partners being allocated on the 24th of November. You then have until the 6th of December to shop for your partner and send out their goodies. The suggested spending limit is £10 before the cost of posting. Although, it is called a Christmas Swap the hosts have said that all stationery items are just great

Once you have received your stationery treats from your swap partner you can show them off on social media using the hashtag #StationeryLoversXmas. For more information about the swap and to sign up just head on over to either the Claireabelles or Mab is Mab blog. 

Snail mail: Autumn theme

My love of Autumn is spreading over into my mail. I couldn't resist putting a package together with an Autumn feel. The colours of this season make me feel all warm and cozy, especially from behind my desk with the rain pouring down outside. I have got into making my own decorative stamps again lately. I have mentioned stamp making before here on the blog. It is such a fun way to add a bit of colour to your envelopes.

For the big envelope I sewed some trim along two of the edges with my sewing machine. It adds texture and definitely makes it stand out! Hope the recipient likes it.

Speaking of Autumn mail, this card I bought below from Paper Sparrow a while back feels perfect to send out this season. In fact, if you like woodland creatures, unicorns or sloths her cards are sure to delight you any time of the year. They are all beautifully illustrated and feel really good quality to. Check out the lovely Paper Sparrow shop over on Etsy to see more.

Easy bottle to vase transformation.

I've realised lately, that whilst flowers are a real treat for me (whether it be a single flower or a bunch) I really don't make any effort to display them in a special way. 
For years I have not really bothered to use my imagination when it has come to displaying them and have got away with using anything that has come to hand (a tumbler glass, empty pasta sauce jar or even a measuring jug!) to put them in.

O.k, so I am way to thrifty to actually go out and buy any vases. Preferring instead to use what I already have available and upcycling it. But using something that is upcycled to hold your flowers doesn't have to be less stylish than a shop bought vase.

Above is a glass bottle I transformed into a decorative vase with just a bit of lace and ribbon. It only took 5 minutes and looks so colourful (definitely not boring). There are so many options for decorating your old bottles/jars with embellishments and paints etc. So next time you think you don't have an adequate size vase, check your recycling, you might just have the perfect thing!  

My first ever mood board

I have wanted to put together a mood board for ages. I finally got around to it and found it really fun. It is such a nice way of displaying your favorite bits and bobs as well as stuff that gives you inspiration. 
I am looking forward to creating more mood boards soon and have collected some pins on Pinterest for inspiration. So if you are looking for some ideas to help start a mood/inspiration board you can check them out here.

Time for a change

Noticed anything different about the blog? Well, it has had a little makeover. As you can see there hasn't been any drastic changes to how it was before (see below). 
It just has a simpler, cleaner look now that is (hopefully) easier to navigate around. It is still a work in progress though so I will probably be tweaking it now and then. Hope you like the changes and if you have any suggestions for improving this blog further please let me know in the comments bit below. I really appreciate feedback.

Autumn inspired mail art

Yay, autumn is back! My favourite thing about this season is the lovely colours the leaves go on the trees. I've been inspired to create my own autumn themed letter (above). I just drew a tree using some cheap-ish colouring pencils onto plain white notepaper then cut out some leaf shapes from coloured card. I also glued some of my favourite grass wrapping paper into the inside of the plain brown envelope. What do you think?

So glad to be back!

After a much longer than anticipated time abroad it feels wonderful to not only be back in the UK but back in front of my computer screen writing another blog post. The time away has made me realise how much I enjoy having my little blog. I have really missed putting crafty posts together to show you. I plan on taking this blog a lot more seriously from now on, it is just to much fun not to! 

So expect to see a lot more mail art and craft tutorials as well as my crafty inspirations and adventures. The blog posts will be more regular than before and I also have some great giveaways planned. I am putting together a mail art kit at the moment to giveaway very soon and can't wait to show you. 

In the mean time I have a craft tutorial featured on Adventures and Tea Parties blog today showing you how to turn a skirt into a bag. If you like upcycling please go and have a look. Do you have a skirt you never wear but can not part with? Why not turn it into a bag? I will show you how in my tutorial. 

Fruity notebook makeover

I have given my notebooks a fruity makeover! By just covering them with some coloured paper and doing some simple drawing they are now much brighter and colourful. Here is how I did it. 
How I made the melon notebook
To make the melon notebook I used: a notebook, red paper, glue stick, scissors, a black marker, a white pencil and sticky back plastic (the plastic film you use to cover exercise books).
  1. I started by drawing seed shapes onto a sheet of red colour paper. I cut the the paper in half to make two pieces (one for the front cover and other for the back). 
  2. The notebook I used already had a green binding (you could use green washi tape or a green colour marker pen), so I used that colour as the rind. With a white pencil I blended the red and green edges to give a more realisitic rind colour. 
  3. I glued the red paper to the front and back cover (as the book was A5 size and the red paper A4 there wasn't much overlap). 
  4. Using the notebook as a template, I drew and then cut out sticky back plastic to cover the front and back (I left about an inch overlap). I then removed the paper backing from the plastic and adhered it to the notebook, smoothing out bubbles as I went.
How I made the pineapple notebook
I used: a small A6 size notebook, yellow paper, glue stick, scissors, green card, green colouring pencil/ green colour pen and sticky back plastic.  
  1. I drew a criss cross pattern onto a sheet of A4 yellow coloured paper.
  2. I then made a bookmark out of green card to resemble the leaves and stem.
  3. Using the notebook as a template I made a one piece cover out of the yellow sheet of paper with edges that overlap. I also cut out a sticky back plastic piece bigger than the yellow paper to overlap the paper cover.
  4. I glued down the yellow paper onto the notebooks cover including the overlaped edges and covered the paper with the sticky back plastic. All done!

Today I am a guest blogger!

I am lucky enough to be a guest blogger today on the lovely Joanna's blog Adventures and Tea Parties. My craft tutorial on 'How-To Upcycle a Jar to Store Craft Supplies' is featured. I am so excited (and nervous) to have a tutorial I put together, on one of my favourite blogs! It is a real privilege, I just hope I don't cramp the blog's gorgeous style. Joanna's blog is full of craft diy's, reviews and updates on her lovely shops on Etsy and Not on the Highstreet. I particularly enjoyed her 'Starting an Online Shop Series' which has covered; research, pricing, photography, feedback and networking. I am hoping to open my own online shop soon, and the posts have been so helpful in my preparation. If you would like to see my how-to or would like to see a lovely blog, pop on over to Adventures and Tea Parties for a browse. Thanks so much Joanna for the opportunity, I hope I can have another diy featured on your blog again soon. Have a wonderful day everyone!

A slice of cake in the post!

Following on from my sandwich in the post I have made a slice of cake (card). I wanted to send my friend a card and some cake but as cake doesn't seem to travel well this was the compromise.
It took me a little while to figure out how I was going to do it. I wanted to be able to open it up and write a message inside, so this is the design I settled on. I used a medium weight white card and just some ordinary colouring pencils and a white pen to draw the details.
This is how the cake card looked closed up in its envelope. Hopefully my friend will have some real cake available to eat in case the card makes her feel hungry. Hmm, I'm feeling a bit peckish myself now. Cake anyone?

A Mail art kit to brighten a penpals letters

When my penpal wrote in her last letter that she struggled to find nice writing paper I totally empathised. I also found that nice, reasonably priced writing paper was hard to come by when I got into writing letters again. I started to look at ways I could create and decorate my own writing paper instead. I found so much inspiration online through Pinterest (see my mail art board here) and Instagram so quickly started to make my own. I thought I would share with my penpal the ideas and inspiration I have picked up and put together a little mail art kit to brighten up her mail.
Included in the kit were; stickers, twine, magazine cutouts, some diy stamps with blanks to make up (see my how-to here), washi tape, bunting and some extras (paper clips/ tags/ washi flags).
My favourite packet I included in the kit was the magazine cutouts. Above is what I included inside. I like to create mail art with drawings like the ones I did here and here but it can be very time consuming. I think you can create just as nice results using magazine cutouts. There are lots of lovely pictures in magazines. It's so simple, just cut out a picture you like, position and glue it to your writing paper or envelope. Below is an example of what I make.
With the mail art kit I also put in some suggestions (see below) for decorating mail. I often draw things instead of writing them down. Am I the only one who does that?
Anyway, I thought I would put together another mail art kit soon but this time to giveaway on this blog, so watch this space!


My top 5 handmade teachers gifts

I have surprised myself this year with how organised I have been putting together gifts for my children's teachers. I left it to the last minute last year and it resulted in a disastrous cookie fiasco (untried recipe= inedible and burnt 'treats'). This year, I decided to go with handmade gift ideas that I had tried and tested before. I always prefer to make gifts if I have the time as I feel they are more personal and unique. The gifts I choose to make (with the help of my children) are quite quick to do individually and fairly cheap to put together. 
From the left top corner, clockwise;
1) Personalised covered notebook: I simply covered a £1 notebook in pretty decorative paper that I already had from Hobbycraft. See below for the how-to. By adding a handwritten label with the teachers name/message it becomes a very personal and useful gift. If you don't have any decorative paper or gift wrap you can also use brown parcel wrap which your child can decorate.
2) Lavender sachets: Such a cute gift. I made the sachets shown above in the shape of an apple by making an apple shape template. See my previous post on lavender sachets for a how-to. The only differences with these ones were that I didn't use ribbon for hanging them and I added a stalk. I made the stalk from a small rectangle of brown felt that I rolled, sewed up and inserted inside the top (into a small opening that had been left unsewn in order for it to be turned the right way out) before closing up. A name or initials can also be embroidered onto the front.

3) Hand painted mug: Another gift you can personalise with a message to the teacher. These hand painting mug kits can be purchased online through Amazon and EBay. Wilkinson stores often have them stocked to. Always follow the instructions that come with the mug on how to set the paint (it is usually done in the oven or microwave). You could put a pack of biscuits in the mug for an extra treat!

4) Personalised keyring: The keyrings in the photo were bought in a pack of ten from Hobbycraft and I have used them a lot in the past for children's party bags etc. All you have to do is insert a rectangle of paper which you have decorated into the front piece of the plastic keyring then seal it with the back piece. Children can put in a little drawing or message for their teacher. I love them! If your child is too young to write you can write the name and message yourself.

5) Gift wrapped chocolate: O.k, I know chocolate is predictable but seriously who doesn't like chocolate? I have a family member who works in a school and her cupboards are always full with boxes of chocolate that she has been given at work. I am always very jealous when I see her stash. Instead of buying a box of one of the usual brands though why not make your own box of chocolates. All you need is chocolate and a mould. I used a silicone ice tray that makes apple shapes, purchased from EBay. You just need to melt the chocolate, fill the moulds with the melted chocolate then wait for it to set (put in the fridge for quick setting). Wrap them in a box or even some baking paper tied with twine, easy!

How-to cover a notebook
All you need is; a notebook, decorative paper, scissors, glue, a pen and a label (or piece of paper).

1) Use your notebook as a template and add an extra cenitimetre or so for folding over the edge. (Note that when the notebook is closed more paper is stretched so measure with the book nearly closed to get an accurate size). Cut the corners on the decorative paper template that you have cut out. 
2) I cut the paper at the binding part into a small rectangle tab. 
3) Insert the tab (glued) into the hollow part of the binding. If you notebook doesn't have this type of binding it might be easier to just cut the paper along the edge of where the paper is bound.
4) Fold over and glue down edges of the decorative paper. 
5) Add your label to the front cover.
6) Optional: if your paper is quite thin you could apply sticky back plastic (the stuff you use to cover school exercise books) to prevent the possibility of the paper ripping. Just apply it on top of the paper cover leaving an extra margin to fold over the edge. 

Easy peasy version
If you don't have much time try this instead. It is basically a book sleeve for your notebook. Use your notebook again as a template. This time though leave no extra paper at the top and bottom to overlap, instead make the paper an equal height to the notebook. Then make the sides much wider so that when folded over the sides of the cover the edges almost meet the center where the pages are bound. Finally glue the side edges down.  

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