Thursday, October 31, 2013

Handmade Holidays Blog Hop

Happy Halloween everyone!  Today is a fun day, but tomorrow it's time to eat the rest of your halloween candy and start to think about December!   Yesterday was exactly 8 weeks from Christmas day and 4 weeks away from Hanukkah!!!  Oh my, it really creeps up on ya.......  Well, here's some good news, the Handmade Holidays Blog Hop starts tomorrow!

This is annual event organized by Jennifer Priest, aka Hydrangea Hippo and it runs 1-3 November!   Manufacturers and designers share their holiday projects which will inspire you to fill your holidays with some of the funnest (I know that's not a real word) ideas and, of course, there's a giveaway.  You can find my projects on the Smoothfoam blog, plus a list of everyone else who's participating!  So hop on over there and enjoy all the "eye" candy - definitely less calories than the candy you'll be munching on tonight!  Y'all come back now........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall & Halloween Wreath

It's a little late to be posting Halloween projects, or maybe not...  Halloween is still two weeks away, but the cool thing about this wreath is that you can switch it to a Fall wreath in 5 minutes or less.  I love anything that I only have to make once then use it for something else with just a quick change.   This all came about because my daughter-in-law sent me a photo of a wreath she saw on somebody's door and asked if I could "make one like that".   It was already a bit late to find exactly the same supplies, but I grabbed the last roll of orange deco mesh at my local craft store and a Halloween garland, now on sale and here's what I came up with, plus the idea to change it to a Fall wreath on November 1st!  This is the wreath for the next 2 weeks

and this is the Fall wreath transformation!

This is what you do.  You'll need a wreath, a roll of 5" wide Deco Mesh and some floral pins to make the basic wreath. I used a straw wreath for this because it was cheaper.  KEEP THE PLASTIC ON!  For the Halloween wreath decorations, I used Smoothfoam™ letters "B, O, O", a 1" Smoothfoam ball,  a small piece of cheesecloth, 2 black sequins, 2 sequin pins (they are shorter than regular straight pins), 4 bamboo skewers, black paint and 2 plastic zip ties. 

1.  Pinch the end of the mesh together then secure to the wreath with a floral pin.

2.  Pinch the mesh about 6" from the end then secure to the wreath with a floral pin about 2"-3" from the first pin to create a loop.  Make loops all around the wreath.

3.  Secure the end of the black tinsel garland to the top of the wreath then wind it backwards and forwards around the mesh loops.

4.  Make the decorations.
    Ghost:  Stick the blunt end of a skewer into the base of the ball.  (There's a small indentation you can use as a guide.)  Attach the zip ties to the dowel as shown for arms then cover the head with the cheese cloth draping it over the arms as shown.  Push the "arms" upwards to the base of the head.


Tie the cheesecloth tightly around the skewer at the base of the head.  I used a piece of a black chenille stem I happened to have, but you can use anything.  Attach the sequins to the head with sequin pins for eyes.  You can also make black dots of paint (or marker) directly on the ball for eyes, before covering with the cheesecloth.

    Letters:  You can leave these white, or add small black dots using the rounded end of a paintbrush handle - perfect for dotting.  Black adhesive acrylic jewels would look great too!

    Bow:  This is a simple bow.  Cut about 24"of Deco Mesh.  Cross the ends over then pinch together at the center.  Attach to the wreath with a floral pin.  You can also use a zip tie to wrap around the center to secure.

5.  Cut 3 skewers to 5"-6" in length then push one into the bottom of each letter.  Attach the letters and ghost to the wreath.

When November 1st comes around, simply remove the bow, ghost and letters then replace the tinsel garland with a Fall garland.  You can use the same bow again, or add a burlap bow and a floral pick.  How cool is that!!!!!

Enjoy!  Y'all come back now...........

Yours truly,
 Julie :) 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sticky Sticks

So what are Sticky Sticks you may wonder......  Well, this is the brain child of a mom who likes to craft with her children and wondered "why can't they put adhesive on the ends of these craft sticks.  It would make it so much easier!".  Instead of just wondering, she put her idea into action and made it happen and now all of us can craft with Sticky Sticks!

Here are a few ways I used Sticky Sticks recently.  My grandson just turned ONE and his party was all about Monkeys! 


We downloaded all kinds of artwork which we printed out to make banners, cupcake toppers, bottle wraps, banners, etc., but there were going to be a lot of children coming to help celebrate, so we thought it would be fun for them to make masks.  This is what I came up with using punches, a Fiskars shape cutter and templates, red, dark brown and tan cardstock and, of course, a Sticky Stick.


I pre-cut all the pieces, so all that had to be done was to glue them together and pop a Sticky Stick handle on the back.  I started by cutting a 6" circle and a 6" x 5" oval.  I used a large oval punch for the ears and a small round punch for the nose.  The red hat and mouth shapes were cut from the sides of a large red circle and finally I used a 1" circle punch to make holes for the eyes.  The pom pom on the top of his hat is a flower punch.

It's still pretty warm in Texas, 90˚ the day of the party, so we also had little fans for the ladies.  I started with a 12" sheet of patterned cardstock and cut three, 3" wide strips.  I then scored each strip at 3/4" intervals.  TIP:  It goes much faster if you cut a 9" x 12" piece, score it then cut into 3" wide strips.  Accordion fold each strip then glue the ends together to create one long folded strip, 3" wide.  Attach a Sticky Sticky to each end as shown below.   Glue the sticks together to create a "rosette".  I  used a large round punch to create the Monkey disc then glued it to the center of the rosette.

I didn't stop there.  I rinsed a 1/2 gallon milk container (you can re-cycle anything similar) then cut it down to 4" in height.  I covered each side with Sticky Sticks then wrapped a 1/2" strip of red cardstock around the center and embellished the sides with a Monkey disc.  For an additional touch of red, I wove additional strips of red paper around the top.  We made quite a few and used them as containers for straws (shown below), red twizzle sticks (no photo 'cos we ate them all), plastic forks and more.  This little project took about 5 minutes to put together.  EZPZ Quick'n EZ, just like I like it.  If you've ever tried to glue something to a waxy milk container, you'll understand how really great these Sticky Sticks are!

And yes, there's one more.  This balloon wreath is so adorable I had to share.  Yes, the monkey was attached to the center of the wreath with a Sticky Stick..........

My daughter-in-law's inspiration for the Sock Monkey party came from here: and instructions for the balloon wreath can be found here:

For even more Sticky Stick ideas, click on the Designer Crafts Connection logo in my sidebar to see what other designers have created.  But, before you hop forward, what do YOU wish you had to make crafting easier?  Don't just wish it, make it happen!  Who knows, maybe you'll be the one to come up with the next, great new product.

Enjoy!  Y'all come back now..........

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Monday, October 14, 2013

Scrapbook Soup - New Series 300!

OMG!  Have you seen it?  Scrapbook Soup, series 300 is now airing on local PBS stations across the US!  You are going to absolutely love the new format, projects and the exciting line up of guests who visited our studio.  Ali Edwards came to tape and share - need I say more........ 

Julie Fei Fan Balzer is also showing how to use the new digital die cutting machine with a built in scanner - Brother's Scan'n Cut.  This is definitely going to be everyone's new dream machine.  You'll have to see it to believe it!  Can you imagine being able to scan your Kindergartner's handwriting then cutting it out!! What a fun way to preserve a special part of childhood.  OMG, my head is spinning with ideas.

You'll also see interviews with business owners like Stacey Caron from Spellbinders.  What a success story she is.  In 10 years her vision has taken Spellbinders from an idea born in a tiny, dark and dusty warehouse to a multi million dollar company.  I've always loved their dies for cutting, embossing and, I use them for stencilling too.  The detail is absolutely amazing. 

If the show isn't airing in your area, you can watch online at, but you'd better hurry!  The second show of the season is airing now!!!  Each show airs 24/7 for one week, from Friday noon, EST to the following Friday.  You can also see select segments on YouTube and you can purchase a set of show DVDs - the perfect addition to your Christmas wish list!! 

Enjoy, and y'all come back now!

Yours truly,
Julie :)


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Halloween Crafts

It's Halloween and it's party time, so I thought I'd share a little rhyme
About ghoulies and ghosties, witches and bats,
Jack'O Lanterns, monsters and scary black cats.

Now on Halloween we go trick or treat, we think it's fun and we think it's neat,
To get lots of cookies and candy too,
That sticks to our teeth like Elmer's glue.

A jack O'Lantern is a scary sight, but he's just an old pumpkin with his insides alight
Sitting on the doorstep, grinning, all aglow
A home for a soul with nowhere to go.

So when you're out on the thirty first, with a bag full of goodies that is fixing to burst.
Look over your shoulder and all about
'Cos take it from me you'd better watch out!

My daughter had to perform a Halloween rap for her class in 1987, so I wrote this for her.  It was quite a bit longer back then, but don't want to bore you to death...... even if it is Halloween.... lol

I have to admit that I struggle with Halloween.  Growing up in England it wasn't something that was celebrated by anyone except satanists and witches covens. In many European countries, it was, and still is all about November 1st, All Saints Day.  I do however, realize the commercial value of celebrating this "holiday".  After all, Halloween craft supply sales are second only to Christmas. 

As I've said before, if it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done, so here I am at the last minute designing something to share and of course it's EZPZ Quick'n EZ.

I basically painted an 8.5" x 11" sheet of Smoothfoam with yellow acrylic craft paint (no prep needed) then printed the artwork onto a piece of Craft Attitude printable film.  It's very easy, but make sure you read the directions included in the package.  The most important thing to remember is that you place the film printed side down, so you have to print a "mirror image" of any clip art you use - very important if you include words.  You can also print on self adhesive ink jet transparency, which doesn't have to be reversed, so, if you use my clip art, you'll have to print it on a "mirror image" setting.  Once the image is in place, I dinged up the upper edges of the foam with the handle of a sponge brush, then painted the edges with DecoArt® black Patio paint.  Patio paint leaves a really cool shiny finish.   I added a black glitter bow and ribbon tails, as shown and it now hangs in the hallway...... at my daughter's.   You can find detailed instructions and a list of supplies on the Smoothfoam® blog.  You can also download a FREE pdf of my design there if you don't have one of your own to use. 


Had to share these votives again.  D├ęcoupaging the printed layer of a napkin onto glass is a favorite technique of mine for all reasons and seasons.  You can find the instructions for these here:

Happy Halloween everyone!  Y'all come back now..........

Yours truly,
Julie :)