Printing Tips

Check out my printing tips if you're having problems printing to the right size
If you'd like to support this site and all the free things I post- please check out my Don't Eat the Paste Mandala collection coloring book for 9.99 at Amazon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rainbow Colored Printable Favor Boxes

It's raining today! So today's printable is a pair of rainbow colored boxes. I hope you like them!
Click on the images for larger version. Print on card stock, cut, score, fold, glue!

Sugar Free Mocha Cafe Pudding using Nectresse™

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Nectresse™ Sweetener for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I've tried a lot of  sweetners in making sugar free desserts for loved ones on sugar restricted diets.  This new sweetener by the same people who make Splenda is a new favorite.
It's the only no-sugar, no-calorie 100% natural sweetener made from monk fruit, it's available very reasonably priced at your local supermarket. 1 packet is the equivalent of 2 tsps of sugar in sweetness.
I tried it first in a cup of coffee to see how it tasted. I was pleasantly surprised. There is no bitterness to it, and tastes natural. The rest of my family also tried it, and my husband and daughter both really liked it.
So after talking it over with my daughter, we decided to try making pudding. I asked her if it should be a chocolate or vanilla pudding, then realized what a very silly question that was right after asking. She thinks the world should be chocolate flavored.
Sugar Free Cafe Mocha Pudding

Sugar Free Cafe Mocha Pudding-
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 Tbsp instant espress
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 7 packets NECTRESSE™Sweetener
  • Large sauce pan
  • whisk
  • spoon
  • bowl
Measure 1 1/2 cups of milk, the espresso, cocoa powder, vanilla and salt into a pan. In a the bowl, mix the half cup of milk, the sweetener and the corn starch, mixing well until the corn starch is dissolved. Set that close by.
Bring the milk and cocoa mix to a simmer over a low heat, whisking as you cook to mix in the cocoa and other flavorings well. When it's bubbling and everything is mixed in, pour in the milk and corn starch mix, whisking constantly. Keep whisking, it will soon come back up to a bubble.
Keep whisking, and it starts to thicken. Homemade cooked puddings are so good. This is the point my daughter told me "It smells good!"
When it's nice, thick and glossy, take it off the heat and put it in the fridge with plastic wrap over it to keep it from forming a skin. Makes 4 half cup servings. Serve after it's chilled.
I recommend topping with whipped cream. Unsweetened and lightly flavored with vanilla.
Click here to try a  FREE sample of NECTRESSE™Sweetener
I liked cooking with this, the pudding turned out good and my family who aren't on sugar restricted diets all enjoyed it. One of the things I liked best about it was that it doesn't foam up like some sweeteners do.
Check out what Lisa Ling has to say about it!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Shopping at Garage Sales

Today was another lovely day in Anchorage. The reason I haven't been updating much is that I've been enjoying the sun. This day was a little overcast, but light, fluffy clouds in a blue sky with moments of shade. My daughter and I have been trying to take walks daily, and today I suggested "Let's look for garage sales!" - not the way my husband does it, which is to ask me to look at the paper, find the ones we should go to, then working out the most effective route. We just picked a direction and started walking.

Some tips on walking around for garage sales:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and socks. Seriously, I have a blister on the bottom of my foot. 
  • Bring cash, in singles and fives
  • Bring a bag!
  • Dicker! Part of the fun of garage sales is dickering. Remember, people want to get rid of the stuff, and are usually willing to dicker.
  • Carry a list of sizes for people in your family- I do this anyway because I'm the primary clothing/shoe buyer for my whole family, and you never know when you're going to find a great deal on something just right.
  • Think seasonally- just because it's 75 degrees out, if you live in Alaska, at some point, you're going to need sweaters.
  • Look at crafty possibilities
  • Don't buy just because it's a great price.
  • If you see something you just can't carry home but you have to have, ask if they are willing to hold it for you. 
We found two garage sales. One of them had an unused hot water bottle in a cute teddy bear cozy. The people holding that sale thought it was hopelessly old-fashioned, and it had been a gift to them. Just so happens, we've been planning to buy a hot water bottle.

The second one was the bonanza for my family.  They had lots of DVDs including seasons of shows we didn't have and do enjoy. I found a copy of Jack of All Trades for my husband. It was the only Bruce Campbell show we didn't have. TG was thrilled to find Star Trek: The Animated Series. They also had partitioned trays for kids meals in great, super cute shape (I like them for bead projects), and a cute, small pink knitting loom set. Just as we were leaving, we spotted a steampunk looking little cricket sculpture for my son. We wound up with 1 movie, 5 tv seasons, 3 trays and the knitting loom kit  and the cricket for $22.00. Yay! Since Jack of All Trades was something we were planning to buy anyway and it's about 20 dollars on Amazon, it was a great deal.  

When it was all over, we had walked about 2.5 miles, got some good exercise and had a lot of fun together. We stopped at the coffee stand by our house on the way home, where a bikini clad barista made us perfect iced lattes. 

Here are some printable signs for your own garage sale in 100 dpi jpg format. They can be colored in, or you could print on Astrobrights paper. The image at the top of this is also in 100 dpi if you want to click on it to print a larger version. Because garage sales are awesome!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Laurel wreath and medal coloring page

I hope you enjoy this coloring page in honor of the Olympics. It has a nice big open space for personalization, or even to use as a frame in digital scrapbooking layouts. There is a small jpg version, and a large transparent PNG version. Feel free to use it for any crafty purpose! Click on the images for a larger version!

Small JPG version:
Large transparent PNG version:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I love books!

Book quote on Astrobrights paper

I love books and love to read. I have my nose in a book or would the modern equivalent be "my eyes on the screen" regularly. You know that I review mostly craft, cooking and beading books. It doesn't mean I don't read fiction too. Today I ordered this fantastic book themed shirt* from the Threadless 9.99 sale.*
"Books are a uniquely portable magic" -Stephen King
Here's the quote art if you want to print it, click on the image for the larger version and print on landscape settings. The version above is printed on Astrobrights paper, and as usual, there is a share version on Don't Eat the Paste Quotes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: Grow Your Handmade Business

Grow Your Handmade Business : How to Envision, Develop and Sustain a Successful Creative Business is written by Kari Chapin, the same lady who wrote the popular guide to selling things you make, The Handmade Marketplace.

Where The Handmade Marketplace focused on marketing your designs and projects for sale, this book focuses on how to build a business. It's a good book for anyone who feels overwhelmed when they start thinking about going professional to sell their goods.

You wouldn't expect a reference about business to be engaging, this is engaging and informative. Since the author really loves the DIY/handmade movement, that passion shows. There are lots of contributors who add their own stories and how to apply those tricks to your own business. I actually read the book cover to cover while sitting in my yard in an afternoon.

She does a wonderful job of explaining how to write a business plan that you can present to banks for loans. It becomes a lot less scary when you see it laid out in a friendly, conversational tone. She explains it in detail in easy to understand language.

She also has a section on choosing mentors. It defines different kinds of mentors. It also explains a bit about the mentoring process and how to find one through your local SBA. How to approach someone as a possible mentor and what to do if your are approached.

The section on plans and goals also explains how to manage them so you can handle them without being overwhelmed. Your plan and goals can be as flexible as you want them to be following her tips. The idea of setting an objective to reach and then making goals that are achievable to reach that objective is a good tip for business and for life.

A chapter on profit and loss explains with tabled examples and clear language how to create profit and loss statements to work out how well your business is doing.

There are a lot more things covered in this book, how to visualize exactly where you want your business to be in the future. It also explains some of the warning signs you might be on the wrong track. Personally anecdotes serve as examples and illustrations of the methods explained.

If you're ready to start growing your crafty business, but don't know where to start, I recommend this book. It's very easy to read and understand, and full of information. It breaks things down into easy to handle steps so it's not so overwhelming. While the focus is on creative businesses, the techniques, tips and information apply well to most small businesses.

Published by Storey Publishing.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review, my reviews are always my personal and honest opinion. You can read more about my review policy here.

Printable peace symbol boxes- 2x2x2 inch cubes

The colors used for these are based off the Pantone Fashion color report for Fall 2012, not exact matches, the tones are different, but the shades are similar. Peace symbols because it's been a while since I did anything with them.

Click on the images for large versions, then print on card stock, cut, score, fold, glue!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I got my new glasses!

I got my new glasses!
Usually I like buying my glasses in person, like most people, to be able to try on different pairs. But ordering online is a lot less expensive.

I've ordered from ZenniOptical before, this time I wanted to try a different company. After doing some research, I picked EyeBuyDirect. If you decide to buy a pair of glasses from them after reading this, please use this code for a discount: IFF2MRR81T  They have a loyalty program, and if you use the code, you'll get a discount, and I'll get a small credit on my next order. 

Reasons for picking them:

  • Cost. They are on par with ZenniOptical for some complete pairs
  • Style- They have nice styles, especially in the retro glasses my husband prefers- He rocks the Clark Kent look.
  • They take PayPal. If you're an Etsy craft seller, work with sponsored posts, etc, you know PayPal is the currency of the land. The fact they take PayPal made them incredibly convenient.
Now, my glasses don't have many special considerations. In fact, it's just one. I'm near-sighted, like a lot of people. But I'm incredibly near-sighted. Without my glasses, legally blind, walking into things, can't recognize my own children from 5 feet away near sighted. Which means that if I don't want to wear super thick glasses, they have to be a fairly high index which always costs extra. 

I also prefer larger glasses, lots of room so the frames aren't constantly in my field of vision. Sometime in the next couple of years, I'll need a second pair of glasses for close work since these correct too strongly for working up close, but for right now, my glasses are the first thing on in the morning, last thing off at night.

To pick the frames, I started by taking all the measurements from my old pair in millimeters. The height and width of the lenses, the width of the bar across the nose, the length of the temple pieces and the total width of the glasses. Then I started looking. Finding pairs I liked, comparing the measurements on those pairs with my current pair. The pair above was my final choice.

Generally, with the standard high index plastic they use, they are 19.95 complete. With the upgrade for the super thin high index plastic (1.6) and a UV coating, they wound up being 58.50 plus 5.95 s&h. They *do* combine shipping if you're ordering more than one pair.

They sent me regular updates about what was happening with my order, then sent me an update when they were sent. From the time ordered, until they arrived, it was less than 2 weeks. The glasses came with a hard plastic case that closes with a magnet and a cleaning cloth. 

The quality is very nice, better than my last order from ZenniOptical. Part of why I ordered from them was to check the quality before ordering glasses for my husband. He likes the quality and plans to order the Ronnie glasses which are a nice, black framed, retro look.

Some tips for hand sewing dolls

I'm not an expert on doll sewing, or on hand sewing. It's something that my daughter and I both enjoy quite a bit though and these are some tips that came up while I was showing my son how to make something recently.
Kokeshi Style Fabric Dolls
Swatch Dolls- my design on Spoonflower printed Kona cotton.
You can find the swatches for sale here.

I have sewing machines, enough to qualify as a collection and to make my husband steer me right past any we see at garage sales. But the reason I like hand sewing is that it's a quiet thing to do on evenings my family is watching television together. It's the same reason I knit with wood needles. My daughter just loves hand sewing. She can use a sewing machine, but prefers working in her room on hand sewn dolls and other things. Mostly dolls, she's been making dolls since she was about 3 or 4. They get more and more complex as time goes on.
Sherlock Holmes Doll
Sherlock Holmes- Designed by The Amazing Turnip Girl
I've been suggesting for years that The Amazing Turnip Girl start a blog for her dolls. A lot of them are fan based. She's done Doctors, comic book characters and video game characters. The doll above her most recent, Sherlock Holmes from the BBC series. I asked her if she ever draws patterns or if she just starts cutting. She says "Sometimes I make a pattern, but it's usually just a T shape." She's incredibly clever about the fabrics she uses, they come from thrift stores, old clothes and remnant bins.

My dolls are less interesting, as shown above. They are basically cookie cutter dolls printed on Spoonflower swatches. 
Generally, you'll use one of strand of thread and the smallest needle comfortable. You can used doubled threads but it makes a heavier seam and bigger holes in the fabric. My preference is a glazed cotton thread. It's smooth and easy to work with, try different threads and see what you like best. For hand sewing needles, my favorite are Clover Gold Eye sharps or quilting needles. 
Originally, I used back stitching for all my dolls, and TG used a running stitch. 
I've realized that while back stitch makes a sturdier seam, TG's dolls hold up just fine for her uses. Running stitch takes less time, but the problem is, it can be prone to gathering. So now I use a combination stitch. I start with a back stitch, and use a back stitch at every corner so my needle comes out at just the right place and the corners are reinforced. I also do a back stitch about every 5 stitches, which locks the thread so it doesn't gather.

It's very important for neat stitching and making sure everything lines up in small scale NOT to do a few stitches on the needle at a time. Put the needle in and pull the thread for each stitch. It makes neater stitches, and for small scale things, the little bit of extra time makes a neater finished product. For bigger things, there is more room for adjusting the slack. 

Clipping Curves and Corners:
Clipping curves and corners helps a lot when you're turning the doll inside out. For outside curves, it allows the seam allowance to spread a bit instead of gathering and puckering. For inside curves, it reduces bulk in the curve. For corners, it works the same way. You clip the seam carefully after sewing. For outside curves, you just need to make snips in the fabric. For inner curves and corners, you should actually cut out a wedge. Examples of good cuts are shown below in red. You'd continue clipping the seam all the way around.

There are lots of kinds of stuffing. The most environmentally minded is using scrap fabric of course. If you're going to do this, cut the fabric up very fine to keep it from bulging or lumping up in one area.

My daughter likes regular, old fashioned polyester fill stuffings. You know the kind that look like a big cotton ball that you pull off bits of to stuff? She likes it because it stuffs more firmly, and it's neat and tidy to use it so she doesn't wind up with lots of stuffing bits on her bed where she sews. It's easy to wash and dry.

I prefer cluster stuffing. It's also made of polyester, but it acts sort of like down filling. The individual clusters shift around and have lots of room for air making very soft stuffed toys. It's easy to wash and dry, but like washing down filled coats and comforters, a tennis ball in the dryer helps distribute the fluff. TG doesn't like cluster fill because "It's messier."

Cotton batting has the advantage of being easily cold water washable and you can scent it easily with fragrance oils. It's a good choice for something like sachet type dolls that can be scented and put in a lingerie drawer or scented pin dolls.

Little plastic pellets are available for a bean bag type filling. A lot of people also use them in amigurumi to weight the bottom. I use polyester fill and high density plastic pellets for air guns in my amigurumi. 

Wool batting needs to be laundered a bit more carefully, but it's a really superior stuffing for heirloom toys. 

For the dolls above, since I don't plan to wash them, just wipe them occasionally with a wet cloth if necessary, I sewed tiny sachets filled with lavender and put it in with the stuffing. 

I use a long pairs of tweezers to fill nooks and crannies. A knitting needle will also help get stuffing into small areas.

You can buy the swatches for the dolls at the top from my swatch toy page on Spoonflower. Swatches are 5.00 each, but occasionally they go on sale, and once a year, Spoonflower has a free swatch day.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Etruscan Inspired Mandala to Color

Etruscan Inspired Mandala

The image above is the small jpg version of the mandala. Why isn't there a colored version? Because I've spent hours drawing it and just don't want to spend another few hours coloring it right now!

The Etruscan civilization was in Italy, from about 800 BC until it was assimilated by Rome in 1 AD. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing some gold Etruscan jewelry as part of a traveling exhibit about gold. What makes the jewelry absolutely remarkable for the era is the sheer amount of detail that goes in to it. While the techniques themselves are fairly basic, the fine detail and encrusted look of the gold jewelry is astounding. They would use wires and granulated balls of gold on sheet metal, soldering each piece in place.
Like a lot of other cultures and art, there were a lot of floral motifs, as well as radially symmetrical geometric designs. Like mandalas. 
I've worked in silver, and a little bit in gold. Using modern tools, and modern techniques, I wouldn't have the patience for the kind of very full, very textured look of Etruscan jewelry. Pretty much, I just know enough to really appreciate those long gone artists. 
Click on the image above, and the one below for larger versions to print.
Here's the large PNG version:
Large mandala

Friday, July 20, 2012

Birds, Trains and Raspberries- Photo Post

These are just a few photos that my husband and I took this week. I hope you enjoy them! Click on the images to see larger versions. We went out to Potter's Marsh this morning. Some of the photos show a haze, apparently that's from fires in Siberia believe it or not! Tomorrow morning we plan go out for more photos, hopefully to find a some Dall sheep. The raspberries and strawberries are growing in my yard, and I'm just thrilled about how well they look. The raspberries especially have multiplied so much! We plan to make raspberry syrup as soon as they ripen!

Alaska Railroad Train
Strawberries in my yard
Raspberries in my yard

Arctic Tern
Arctic Tern-Shala Kerrigan, Potter's Marsh, Anchorage
Gaggle of Geese
Taken by Michael Simbeck at Potter's Marsh in Anchorage
Sandpiper- Shala Kerrigan- Potter's Marsh,Anchorage

Sandpiper- Michael Simbeck- Potter's Marsh, Anchorage

Family of Geese
Family of geese- Shala Kerrigan- Potter's Marsh, Anchorage

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Printable Book Report and Ruler Bookmarks with AstroBrights Paper

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Astrobrights Papers by Neenah Paper for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Astrobrights Bookmarks


I love AstroBrights papers. They are good quality papers in bright, eyecatching colors that work just great in printers. The paper is heavier than regular printer paper, and very smooth. Using black ink designs, it works very well for quote art, party invitations and other projects. Of course you could use it just for regular paper crafting as well. Since they come in 23 colors, you can make almost anything or make things in your favorite colors or in your children's favorite colors. 

My daughter loves color coding her notes for book reports, and when I showed her these bookmarks she said "Oh! That's BRILLIANT."

Book report bookmarks

They are marked for book title, book author, and the date. Then there are sections for characters, settings, and events. Ball point pens work just wonderfully on Astrobrights paper. 

All you need for these bookmarks is:

Print the image on the bright papers, then cut them apart. Save the trimmings! They will make a great paper chain! Click on the image for the large printable version.

Printable bookmark bookmarks

Like Astrobrights on Facebook for an opportunity to enter their sweepstakes "Give a Brighter Year". It's easy to enter, just click the sweepstakes on their page. You'll put in your name, address, all the usuals, plus one extra, the K-8 school you want to give the big part of the prize. The prize is 30,000 dollars in school supplies to the school you choose, and a 500 dollar gift card for you to spend! 

Also on their Facebook page is the "Make Something Astrobright" design challenges. Family friendly, easy challenges to enter. Every couple of weeks starts a new challenge to make something. It can be a project with your kids, or something you make for yourself. Each challenge is judged, and you have the opportunity to win great prize packages.

Ruler bookmarks

The other bookmarks make good favors. 

You will need:

And this PDF--->Printable Ruler PDF<---

It's a fillable field pdf with saving enabled. Highlight where it says "Name" and replace "Name" with names of the people you want to make the bookmarks for. They print 5 to a page, and are 2x7 inches, marked in both centimeters and inches. Print on the brightly colored paper and cut apart. At 5 per page, with each field as a separate name, these are also good for class room situations. You could make one for each student.


Visit Sponsor's Site

Printable Quote-Kindness

Quaker Quote about Kindness
I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

If a quote on this site is one I found on the net on one of the quote sites, I try to research it, to get the exact phrasing and to make sure the attribution is correct. This one, which is just fantastic, caused some difficulty. It's frequently attributed to William Penn, but at times it's also attributed with some authority to another lesser known Quaker named Stephen Grellet. One of the first known publications of this quote was without attribution in 1859. It's also been attributed to Gandhi and  Emerson. It is an old word of wisdom, that probably dates back to Quakers in the late 18th or early 19th century in America.

Regardless of where it came from, it's a wonderful ideal to strive for in life. The Facebook shareable version is available on Don't Eat the Paste Quotes.

Click on the image for the large version, and print in landscape mode. It's sized at 8x10 inches.
Printable Kindness quote

Snowflake Knot Embroidery Pattern

Sorry it took so long! But here's the embroidery version of the snowflake knot. I hope you enjoy it! Click on the image for the large version. As usual, feel free to use for any crafty purpose.

Printable box with this snowflake

Printable coloring page with this snowflake

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Life lately- the eyes have it

Click on the image above for the larger version if you would like to print it out.

Last month, my glasses fell apart. A loose screw, easily replaced. But I knew that I need new glasses, and since my last exam had been a couple years ago, I needed an eye exam as well. It went normally enough, until they spotted something a little odd about my optic nerves.
It's most likely something easily fixed and not too dangerous, but because it can be a symptom of much more serious problems, I've been seeing a neurologist to rule out the major possibilities.
They started by booking me with an ophthalmology neurologist to get a closer look. He booked me for a CT scan as soon as possible. As soon as possible turned out to be within a couple of days, then another day to get the results analysed. That was to rule out brain tumors. It was a scary few days. My husband was super stressed, and my daughter was jumping every time the phone rang. Fortunately, the ct scan came back clean.

Today I had something called a Visually Evoked Response Test, or VER, also known as Visually Evoked Potential or VEP. That tests for specific damage to the optic nerve or for possible multiple sclerosis by measuring the path it takes for something you see to hit the back of your brain where it's interpreted (this is not exact, I have no technical training or medical training, it's how it was explained to me).  This test meant going to the hospital while very alert and awake. You have to go with clean hair and scalp with no product or conditioner that might interfere. The technician used a tape measure and placed 3 small marks on my scalp, one at the hair line, one on top of my head, and one on the back of my head. Then he attached small electrodes to my head. He had me cover one eye, then the other for the test. I sat in a comfy chair, and stared at a rectangle in the center of a screen while a checkerboard around it switched colors back and forth. I was told the test would take about an hour, but it actually only took about 20 minutes. Apparently the hour is because there are people who have real problems just focusing on that little square. He removed the electrodes and wiped off most of the conductive gel/cream. Still waiting for the results from that.

Truth is though, I'm not too worried. It's not that I'm discounting the possibility of MS, but those couple of days of waiting to see if I had brain tumors were so scary.

Next phase is another vision test, this one pretty straight forward and one I've done before. The field of vision test. They are also talking about a spinal tap soon.

Puts our money problems in perspective. The fact we are tight and needing to catch up on bills that accumulated while my husband was out of work is a really minor thing. We can deal with that. My family is just very grateful that I have good medical coverage. So many people don't, and if things were just a little different, we wouldn't. We are also grateful I don't have brain tumors.

I did order new glasses. I'll probably be writing about them later, they should arrive today or tomorrow.

The eye art included in this update is done by me in the last few days. It's just for fun, but if you really like it, I'll be happy to put it on a printable box.