31 October 2012

Change of hART Giveaway

Have you noticed how after years of following a direction you have a change of heart and switch roads unexpectedly? Take for example Jelena of the cute jewelry and wedding accessory design studio Change of hART. She graduated with a degree in Textile Design from FIDM in Los Angeles, CA and worked in field of fine art (painting) and wearable art (painting on silk garments) when suddenly she had a change of heart which lead to changing her art form as well.

After a two-year apprenticeship with a jeweler in in Sitka, AK, Jelena emerged as an impressive jewelry designer working mostly with beaded and wire wrapped jewelry. After countless exhibitions, festivals, features in magazines, Jelena opened her etsy shop, where you can find the most amazing of jewelry and wedding designs.

Looking at her elaborate works, you cannot miss the elegance and subtle attention to detail that are so often missing in jewelry nowadays.

Starting today you have a chance to win this limited edition pair of earrings by change of hART, worth $32!

Sterling silver was used for ear wires instead of copper, thus making this piece of coiled wire jewelry suitable for those of you with sensitive ears. 18 gauge copper hoop is encased in copper coil and accented with a 6mm round autumn jasper in the center.

This giveaway is open Worldwide until November 7th, 2012. To enter, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget.

Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 October 2012

Seasons in Scandinavia: October in Norway

To browse a full year of Scandinavian seasons, click here.

October is a fiery month in Norway. The trees are brightly lit in the warm colors of the sunset and hay is being gathered quietly. The graceful magpies seem to become the only birds playing around in the yellow leaves. Apples are abundant and elks drop by in people's gardens to feast on them.

I seem to find more and more reasons to go out and photograph that most fleeting of seasons and the momentary colors of its dress. I wish I could keep the warmth of the stunning colors to make it through the cold winter. 

iron bridge in Sandvika, Norway
This iron bridge was painted by Claude Monet in 1895 in his painting "Sandvika, Norway"

heavenly skies in Norway
The skies are heavenly in October, probably because the reflect the beauty underneath.

birches in the wind
High winds and bleak skies happen too, though I try to avoid them.
barn and field
Idyllic view enhanced by the low sun.

bright yellow autumn leaves
The leaves seem to emit light!

Cracket chestnut on the tree
Wild chestnuts bring me back to my childhood years when we used to make tiny dolls with them.

red apples on a tree in Norway
Tasty red apples are usually left to rot under the trees.

autumn tree against the sky
I could watch this for hours. Look at the way the colors on the tree melt into one another!

How are you celebrating autumn?

29 October 2012

Are You Putting Your Best Foot Forward?

This post is written by contributing author Genevieve Brazelton. 

Often, when someone comes up with a product or business idea they jump right into getting the word out as soon as the website is up. All the buzz about getting traffic, making sales, and reaching clients can get in the way of the real question. Are you putting your best foot forward? It’s far better to build a bit of mystery while getting all your ducks in a row than it is to put the word out there when you’re not fully ready.

First impressions are key and a customer’s first experience on your site or in your store will greatly influence whether they come back or tell their friends. No matter how long you’ve been in business, but especially if you’re just starting out, I encourage you take a good look at your business and ask yourself these questions.

Do you have a cohesive brand?
A brand tells a story, conveys a feeling, and supports a lifestyle. Is yours strong enough to be recognized out of context? If someone saw your logo and your tagline removed from your website or marketing materials would they have any idea of what you do? Most importantly do you clearly communicate how you’re different from the competition?

Is your website user friendly?
If people can’t find what they’re looking for quickly and easily they will move on. Is your navigation easy to use and understand? Do you have professional photos that clearly illustrate your product or service and draw the customer in? Do you answer all the questions that come up most frequently?

Your website is your storefront, everything should be in tip top shape, all your links should work and be up to date, and you shouldn’t have any typos. This is your public face.

Have you considered the customer’s experience?
Take the time to go through your website as though you were your customer, can you get where you want to go from any page? Is it easy to purchase and go through the checkout process? Are there things that get in the way or aren’t clear? Make it as easy as possible every step of the way.

Is your website working for you?
Your website is your most valuable marketing tool, put it to work. Make sure it tells your whole story. Do you have a kickass about page? Have you gotten press? Make sure to share those links. If a blogger or writer were to land on your site would they find enough information to get them excited? Can visitors sign up for a newsletter, find your Facebook page or Twitter account? Think of your website as home base for all things business. 

Also remember not to get stuck in analysis paralysis. A brand and business can and should grow and mature. However, doing the absolute best you can at every stage is a great business practice. There’s always room to step it up a notch.

Genevieve Brazelton endlessly researches the newest ideas in creative and social media marketing so you don’t have to. Genevieve’s strength is her keen outside perspective and sometimes infuriating logic that puts structure to dreams and lays out paths to goals. She is also the business side of Lightbox SF. Read more about her here.
Connect to Genevieve via twitter or facebook.

26 October 2012

The Art of Keeping in Touch

This post is written by contributing author Anabel Bouza.

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the arrival of colorful envelopes in the mail, seasonal card enclosed. They come from older relatives, and a few friends who are intent on preserving the arcane art of postal correspondence.

With the internet, and our capacity for light-speed exchanges across the globe, postal communication has been rendered all but obsolete. Nonetheless, I'm yet to encounter an e-card or Facebook wish that elicits the delight of a tangible card, of a handwritten letter with its unique folds and inky dents.

Illustration by Anabel Bouza

There's something very enjoyable about the well-loved edges of a postcard that has been processed by the mail system, or the satisfaction of feeding a weighty envelope to the mailbox...!

As much as I love snail mail, I confess to often letting a sense of inconvenience overpower my good intentions. The small effort and planning it all takes means that, some years, I send out a deluge of holiday cards —on others, not even one. 

But now I've discovered a way of correcting this: since I have a hard time meeting the holiday deadlines, I will no longer wait for the holidays to be my cue! 

This is my plan:

- Buy postcards pre-emptively. 
- Carry one at all times. 
- Fill it out on a whim. 
- Drop it on the first mailbox that crosses my way. 

I'll report back with the results of my experiment.  

What about you? Do you have a clever routine that has made it fun and easier for you to mail letters, cards, and care packages?

Anabel Bouza insists there's powerful magic in the action of creating something out of a vague vision, a chill of inspiration. She is an illustrator with a passion for nature, paper manipulation, and pointing her camera at things.

Her appreciation for simplicity dates back to a former life in Cuba - her strange homeland - where she refined the ability to see the alternative uses of common objects, and the enchanting side of things. She's often found blogging as
Weird Amiga, hard at work in her sunny studio, or staring at things as if looking at them for the first time. Her tiny family is comprised of her husband & a turtle; they're new to the city of Chicago, and they love it. Connect to Anabel via facebook and twitter.

24 October 2012

In my Studio

I walk through the woods. Yellow leaves above, brown leaves below. No wind or clouds in the sky, just the sound of ruffling foliage under the soles of my autumn shoes; the swish of my waterproof jacket on each step. I put it on just in case. Because in Norway you never know. My jacket's light green color is the one missing in the scenery and I seem to become a key element in the painting. If there was a painter somewhere around trying to capture the last colorful days of autumn.

I come back home to an unfinished artwork. I hardly ever talk about my digital photography process even in real life because it is very personal; harder to describe than anything I've posted for you on this blog.

But today I start a new tradition - exercise in fearlessness.

Have you seen these photos I made earlier this year?
You can now buy not just a fine art print of this original photo but also an art necklace!

View this image in different print sizes here.

Get a tilted house print or pendant

To be able to print them as large as 50x50 inches and keep the high quality of the image I need a really large sky. And that is why most often my work starts with creating large digital canvases of skies.

I am fascinated with the sky, the form of the clouds and the colors they reflect at sunset and I have taken countless numbers of sky photos. But one photo is not enough, I take two one above the other like this:

And later stitch them in GIMP (which is absolutely free and fabulous) to get a massive background like this one.

Autumn clouds above Oslo

Imagine that view as a 50x55 canvas on your wall, it can easily substitute a window!

If you fancy having a never ending sunset on your wall, feel free to browse the sky category in my Fine Art America shop.

In the meantime, I will be working on adding a little more to that image. You know, something in the style of any of the above photos.

I am curious to learn though, how you envision this artwork yet unborn. What would you personally add to it to make it a unique work of art? Who knows, you might get the credit for my next project!

23 October 2012

Frugal Tips: The Magic of Soup

This post is written by contributing author Nicole Hart.

Frugalcharacterized by or reflecting economy in the use of resource (Merriam-Webster).  I am a word nerd... so when I volunteered to write about living frugal  I immediately turned to a dictionary to get a little clarity on the subject.

I myself try to be frugal. Beside growing up with limited resources, one of my early inspirations in frugality was "The Good Earth" by Pearl S. Buck. The main character O-Lan pinches pennies (metaphorically - story takes place in China),  as only I could imagine doing; she scrimps and saves, making every scrap of fabric and morsel of this or that count. I remember also practicing at a lovely Zen center in Portland when I lived there, being moved when one of the zen masters said with great clarity, "Even the scraps in your sink belong somewhere," and it is with this in mind that I try to be frugal and waste not.  These experiences made an impression on me and started me on my path to living frugal. Life is a journey, we find pieces of the past started the story long before we realize where it would lead us. I have found myself dancing to the beat before realizing there was music playing.   

So many of us work 40 hours a week to provide our families. This takes time away from the ones that we love, and to remember this when spending or not spending is of great help in making our lives richer. I will throw out tips and helpful advice once a month as a reminder to myself as well you, fabulous readers out there, trying to live simply... as respectful citizen of this green planet.  

Photo by Nicole Hart

My frugal tip this month, because I love soup and the weather is perfect for it, is to make soup - a huge pot of soup.  Soup is quite affordable to make. Just takes some time to cook, makes the house smell amazing and will give you a healthy addition or meal to munch on instead of the eating out. 

Soups can be frozen and used for at least a couple of weeks (if not longer). One of my favorite types of soup is a ten bean soup. It requires soaking of the beans overnight or a quick boil - set aside and cook method.  All of the bags of bean soups that I have bought have cooking directions on the back. 

Easy ways to spice them up is to add celery, carrots, red peppers, onion, garlic and your choice of seasoning (I use black pepper, salt and cayenne... oh and curry).  Once you've soaked your beans or had them sit a bit after the quick boil, you'll want to brown your veggies using about 1/2 cup (or more) of each of the veggies listed. 

Cook in a skillet until golden brown (with oil or butter) and add to your pot of soup. Just stir regularly on medium heat. If you are interested in adding a little extra flavor, chicken stock (or vegetable stock) can be used in place of about 1/4 of the water. Your soup will thicken the longer you cook it. I usually cook mine for a few hours. You can also add corn starch to thicken.   

This is just one quick recipe and idea for living frugal. Cooking meals at home in general will stretch your resources and slow you down some to enjoy how wonderful life really can be.  Hope you've enjoyed this little side trip in your journey.  

I'd love to hear your comments or questions. How often do you make soup yourselves and what is your favorite recipe?

Nicole Hart is a Louisiana native (currently living in Virginia)  with strong ties to her Cajun ancestry. Very blessed to come from such a lively, loving and colorful culture. She has been writing for decades and thought it time to share and grow. Recently written her first published article for a local paper in the little town she lives in and volunteered to write for Eco Etsy, which she is thrilled about!! She also creates, mostly with textiles and has a shop on Etsy. A mom, wife, daughter and sister, Nicole is currently living in a quaint historic town, about an hour outside of D.C., in Virginia. She enjoys beautiful seasons, mountains, rivers and is close enough to visit the seemingly never ending museums and goings-on nearby.

18 October 2012

Jumping In

This post is written by contributing author Shelly Kerry.

A few weeks ago a couple of my friends and I participated in our first Tough Mudder, an eleven mile mud run/walk laced with 20+ obstacles in Tahoe, California. At a high elevation and with temperatures in the low 50s, an already extremely challenging event was made even more difficult. Wow, it was a rough one!

We had months to prepare physically but as life goes I wasn’t as ready as I had hoped. I wanted to able to run 10 miles so my endurance level would be high. That didn’t happen. I prepared with heavy weights to increase strength but still wasn’t quite ready for the monkey bars and the scaling of 15 foot walls. Living in San Francisco, things like the elevation and the cold were almost impossible to prepare for. And that big dumpster of ice water we jumped into – there was no way to be ready for that.

Photo: Michael Zanussi

Since I am a natural planner, the unreadiness was what scared me the most. I tried to embrace the moment with laughter and lightness and garnered control in the areas of diet and proper clothing. I listened to friends who have participated in the past and read a few articles in Men’s health. I eliminated alcohol for a week, loaded up on carbs the day before and drank lots and lots of water. Fortunately, I believe this all prevented me from getting too cold and decreased muscle cramping. Instead there was a bit of cranky whining, multiple moments of wanting to run back to the car and a few tears. However, we made it. We didn’t give up and I learned a crazy amount of new things about myself.

The mountain itself and the big dumpster full of ice water were my biggest challenges. I know someday I can conquer the mountain a little more gracefully. The industrial sized dumpster full of 90 plus pounds of ice that I jumped into came with a whole new set of lessons.

I will save you by not fully describing the horrible physical feelings from being that cold. It was the third obstacle and since I was still relatively full of adrenaline and confidence, I just ran up to the top of the dumpster and jumped in. I took less than second to think about it and I just dove. I had to dunk my head under water to bypass a big piece of wood and once on the other side, I moved as quickly as possible to get out of the icy cold pool of water. I couldn’t feel my legs and my eyes were swollen immediately with tears.

There was no way to prepare for this obstacle. Mentally and emotionally had it been at the end of the course, I would have never had the adrenaline or will to do it. And I cannot tell a lie, I will probably never do it again.

This experience made me think a lot about how much we often mentally and emotionally prepare for new adventures. Being a time management coach, I spend hours teaching small business owners how to plan their days, months and years. We all know that there are certain aspects in which you can never prepare but sometimes this is just hard to embrace. I can’t help thinking now of all the lessons that are lost by avoiding opportunities we think we aren’t ready for. Jumping in can be scary. However, if we maintain healthy bodies and souls, if we are already well hydrated with knowledge and experience why don’t we offer ourselves the opportunities to feel new things. If we learn to trust our own red flag system and not do anything too dangerous or ridiculous, we can trust that the new adventure can bring so many new learning experiences.

I am embarking on a new journey too. I have returned to being a solo entrepreneur and have expanded my program Creating Space, Mindful Living outside of Lightbox SF. I am nervous to be on my own again but with the knowledge and experience I have gained from co-owning Lightbox, I know I am on the right track. I wouldn’t say I am jumping blindly into an ice bath of water here but I am moving quite quickly into a new business all while trying to keep up with all the new and exciting ideas formulating in my head. It’s super exciting and I hope you continue to join me in the new adventure!

I would love to hear about all of your experiences with jumping in to the unknown! I hope you share all of your stories below in the comment section.

Shelly is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating and inspiring people to run their businesses more efficiently. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. As a jewelry designer she has spent many years testing and honing the skills and discipline needed to run your own creative business while still having time for friends, family and fun. She puts her wealth of experience to use in the Creating Space service – healthy living advice to help keep you motivated and make the most out of your already busy schedule. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself. You can also find Creating Space on Facebook or contact shelly@creatingspacemindfulliving.com

17 October 2012

Flora Beauty Giveaway

I sometimes stumble upon etsy stores that are so amazing that I cannot contain myself and have to share their beauty with you. Impressed by the talent and attention to detail that can be witnessed in all her works, today I am proud to introduce you to Mirjam of Flora Beauty.

In her lovely botanical store she offers botanical jewelry with real flowers, designed, created and photographed by her.

What makes her shop stand out from a bunch of others is the eco-friendly, non-toxic resin she uses for covering her herbaria - the carefully picked beautiful flowers, pressed for weeks to dry completely and embed in jewelry.

Mirjam's love to nature and exquisite attitude to the arts can be felt in every piece in her shop.

Starting today and for one week only Mirjam is offering you a chance to win this set of earrings and a ring made with Pumpkin flower petal. Right on time for Halloween! Imagine your outfit complimented by unique orange pumpkin flower jewelry... I personally would love to have them!

This giveaway is open worldwide until October 24th. And in the meantime, you can make use of the generous 25% discount that Mirjam is offering for a limited time only. Use code BLOG25 at checkout!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

16 October 2012

Easy DIY: Aromatherapy Ear Drop Recipe

This post is written by contributing author Cory Trusty. 

With a few simple precautions and an easy DIY Aromatherapy ear drop recipe you can keep your ears happy and healthy during cold season. For the last 7 years I have been making a simple aromatherapy ear drop recipe, which has helped fight or prevent ear infections in my family.  I have used it for myself, my husband, and young children, including when they were babies.  

I am happy to have a chance to share the recipe with you, but first how can you avoid an ear infection? 

Photo: greyman
During cold damp winter months, it is important to keep your ears covered with a hat or a scarf. Exposure to wind can quickly lead to a chill.  When the body is chilled it is more susceptible to infections. This is something that has been understood in Traditional Chinese Medicine for many generations. It is always advised to protect the upper back or "Wind Gate" to avoid wind chills. Also importantly, do not go to bed or send children to bed with wet hair. It is too hard on the body to sleep with wet hair and it can often lead to stuffiness in the ears or head. After swimming one should take care to clear the ears of any water that has gotten stuck. This can be done after swimming by tilting the head to the side and filling the ear with a small amount of rubbing alcohol (Isopropanol) and then lifting the head to let the water drain out. If you are not comfortable using rubbing alcohol, then plain water can also work. Now that you know a few things you can do to prevent ear troubles, what can you make to have on hand just in case for ear aches?

Aromatherapy Ear Drop Recipe
  • 1 oz Extra Virgin Olive oil 
  • 18 drops of pure Lavender* (Lavandula angustifolia) essential oil 
  • 18 drops of pure Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) essential oil

Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil and essential oils to an amber glass bottle.  Label the bottle with the ingredients and date and store in a cool dark place out of reach from children. I use this oil around 3-5 times a day if I have an ear ache.  If it is cold out, one should warm the oil bottle in the hands first before adding drops to the ear.   To apply turn the head to the side, add a few drops of oil to the ear canal until the drops are felt to 'fill' the ear. Put a piece of cotton gently outside the ear to prevent the oil from leaking out. Avoid stuffing a small piece of cotton into the ear canal where it could become stuck.

*It is important to choose pure esentials oils that have not been adulterated or extended for this recipe. There are many disreputable sellers who extend their oils with chemicals. You can test for purity of an essential oil by adding a drop of oil to a piece of paper. After 24 hours there should be no residue visible on the paper. Three vendors of essential oils that I can personally vouch for are Mountain Rose Herbs, Floracopeia and Shanti Aromatherapy.  

Do you have a home remedy for ear ache? Please share it in the comments.

Cory Trusty is a soap maker, community herbalist, organic gardener, and homeschooling mom to two girls. Cory and her family live in Daytona Beach, Florida. Cory's background is in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Biology.  She is sharing tried and true natural home remedies and mini lessons from herbal classes that she teaches. Cory works full time making soaps, shampoo bars, herbal salves, flaxseed heat packs and more for her website AquarianBath. Read more from Cory at the Aquarian Bath blog. Cory is also a Food and Gardening writer for EcoEtsy and has published in The Essential Herbal Magazine and on the Herb Companion Blog. Connect with Cory on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and Pinterest.

13 October 2012

Weekend DIY: Candy Boxes For Halloween - Free Printable

This post is written by contributing authors Vivid Please.

We're Vivid Please and we're super excited to be hanging out with you on Kanelstrand's blog today! And what a treat we have in store for you too :)

Halloween is almost here. In preparation of the best holiday of the season, we've created these awesome candy boxes for you to make at home and hand out to those cheeky trick or treaters. Not only are they super cute, but being able to make them at home means you'll be able to make as many or few as required, and you'll be saving lots of money which can go towards spiders you can stick on your halloween costume. Hooray!

So, who have we here? Frankenstein and his wifey of course! We all love a good theme for halloween, and we couldn't resist making one of these for boys and one for girls {or should we say ghouls!}, so we went with horrors favorite couple. We made them a little more child friendly, but they still look killer! 

All you need to do is download our templates below and print it out on some thick paper. We've provided both pdfs and jpgs, so just download whichever you prefer. These templates take up on A4 sheet each. 

You'll also need scissors, a ruler, double sided tape or pritt stick and lots of candy to pop inside!


Ok, so once you've downloaded the template and printed it out, use your scissors and cut out both Frankie and his missus as shown above. On the templates, cut the solid lines and fold the dotted lines. Make sure not to chop off those long rectangular tabs on the top of their heads as you will need them to create the awesome milk-carton shape. Without these you can still make boxes, only they're a little less fun. 

Once that's done, you need to fold where all the dotted lines are. As you can see from the picture, I've used the ruler to help me fold the straight lines and give them good creases. To do the same, lie your box template down {you should be looking at the white background} then use the ruler to help you fold the sections by folding them towards you.

Once you've folded everything it will look more like a rectangular box! Then put your tape or glue on the small flap. This will be hidden inside the box and will hold it altogether. Lovely!

To do the base, point your two triangular pieces together and put glue or tape over the tops. When you fold the two rectangular shapes over them, they will seal shut. How neat and tidy!

Fill the boxes with candy, eyeballs and lots of spooky treats and seal them shut! Do this by squeezing together the two rectangular shapes at the top and glue together the thin flap. It should look just like a milk carton, only waaaaay cooler :)

Crikey! Don't they look amazing? Paired up with your giant space invaders piƱata and fill each with a sugar skull brooch and you're going to have yourself one heck of a party! All you need is some little monsters to keep you company... and they'll probably never want to go home!

We hope you like our free printable boxes and we hope you have a lot of fun this halloween...

Happy Holidays!

Vivid Please are known as Vicky and David when they are not together, but to be fair, that is rarely the case. Forever collecting odd trinkets and pointing at cute dogs, they believe that happiness is found in the little things. Their etsy shop stocks everything from prints and stationery to bags and accessories, everyday life has never seemed so fun! You can keep up with them by following their blog Vivid Please where they share their awesome DIYs, cool design and fashion posts and, of course, lots of snapshots from their world of wonder. Connect with Vivid Please on Twitter and Pinterest

10 October 2012

Autumn Giveaway with Artterro

In the very first weeks of autumn, when nature and living beings are preparing for a subdued and slow winter my friends over at Artterro have grabbed their megaphone shouting:

Wake up your creativity!

Because creativity should never fall asleep, even in the darkest of months!
I am sure most of you have heard about Artterro but for those who haven't, they create art kits for kids of all ages and abilities.

Not only do they use eco-friendly materials for their kits but they are committed to using as few resources as possible, respecting and enjoying the company of the people they work with, and taking into account the social and environmental impact they have on the planet.

Starting today and for one week only Artterro is giving away two art kits that I personally would love to have:

Bookmaking Kit and Paint With Wool Portrait Kit, worth $40. 

Paint With Wool: This kit is a perfect introduction to the art of needle felting. Very satisfying and easy to do, simply poke colorful roving wool into the base shape with a felting needle to paint pictures of anything you can imagine!  No glue or sewing required. Create four 4-inch masterpieces. This eco art kit provides hours of fun with friends & family, and includes a bonus project--the box turns into a frame for your finished artwork! Ages 8 and up.

Bookmaking: Make four small single-signature books with gorgeous handmade paper and decorative beads. Use as journals, portfolios, scrapbooks, or write and illustrate an original story! Use leftover paper for fancy custom greeting cards.  This eco art kit provides hours of fun with friends & family, and includes a bonus project--the box turns into a frame for your finished artwork!  Ages 8 and up.

This giveaway is open to all Kanelstrand subscribers. (If you are a new reader, just make sure to subscribe first using email or RSS feed).

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

09 October 2012

Eco Friendly Halloween Costumes

This post is written by contributing author Paige Ronchetti.

I've never been a fan of pre-packaged Halloween costumes. You drop $40 or $50 on a cheap, flimsy outfit to wear for one night. Half the time they fall apart. They're not comfortable or flattering. It's just a big waste--both in terms of money down the drain and eventually sending the thing to a landfill.

Assembling my own costume has been a tradition since elementary school. Not only is it more fun, but shopping at secondhand stores takes care of those waste issues I just mentioned. I also feel like thrift stores offer more possibilities than Halloween shops, which tend to carry the same things over and over again. I'm a huge Halloween fan in general, and I like having endless possibilities when shopping for my party outfit.

Still not convinced? Let me show you some of my favorite thrifted costumes. One year I dressed as a 1960s housewife. The dress, apron, and brooch were all purchased secondhand:

Two years ago I went as Hermione from Harry Potter. I found an old prom dress at GoodWill for $8(!) and added a bustle made of fabric scraps:

And this one I did not purchase (because I've already started my costume for this year) but I thought it was magnificent and the best example EVER of a thrift store having costume-worthy items. I took a picture for you in the dressing room at GoodWill:

Yes, a beaded evening gown and a faux fur coat. All you need are some pearls and a tiny dog.

Do you get your costumes at thrift stores? What's your best secondhand Halloween find?

Paige Ronchetti lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband. They have no kids and no pets, which gives them a lot of time for eating spicy food and looking for bargains. Paige's blog is Little Nostalgia is a collection of projects and pretty things. There you can find DIY tutorials, home decor inspiration, and affordable fashion ideas. When she is not blogging, Paige is working on her vintage-inspired jewelry lines, Little White Chapel and Oh Nostalgia. Connect to Paige via twitter or pinterest.

06 October 2012

Weekend DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners

This post is written by contributing author Angela Hamilton.

'Tis the season for correspondence! Okay, maybe not yet, but it's fast approaching. Making your own envelopes is a simple, inexpensive, and environmentally conscious way to personalize your letters, especially if you have cards that have lost their matching package. It's also a great addition to a store-bought gift to make it a little more unique. This project can take ten minutes or a whole afternoon, depending on whether you want just one or have an event that requires thank-you notes or invites.

Newsprint is popular lately and using paper bags as liners gives it that whole eco-friendly look while actually being 100% recycled. Many of the craftier types of people have made their own envelopes, but adding a liner offers possibilities with material and print. Those who are a little less of the do-it-yourselfer will find that it's one of the easiest paper crafts there is.

The best part is - this project cost me nothing to make.

DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners

You will need:
  • Newspaper or other paper from your recycle bin
  • Glue (I used the bottle but a glue stick helps keep things smooth)
  • Scissors
  • A paper grocery bag (I only needed one to make several envelopes)
  • An already-made envelope
  • A pencil to trace your template
I chose to use an envelope I had in my paper stash from long ago. You could also make your own template if you don't have a particular size in mind, just as long as each of the four pieces around your rectangle overlap enough to be adhered together.

DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners

Carefully undo each piece of your envelope and trace around it with a pencil. For an A1 size, 1/4th of a sheet of newspaper is plenty. Because the newspaper is so thin, you can cut multiple envelopes from the same outline. Then fold the sides over, dab some glue on their bottom edges, and fold over the bottom flap.

DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners

You can use that as a template - outline the envelope with only the top flap open to create your liner. I chose to have the text/graphics face down. Using a grocery bag is great because it provides an almost card stock like paper that gives your envelopes stability.

DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners
Glue along the edges of the top of your liner (the triangle), slide into the envelope, and press down.

DIY: Recycled Newspaper Envelopes with Liners

Make sure everything is lined up, smooth out unwanted wrinkles (I didn't do a great job of that), and now you have your envelopes! My favorites have the large black and white photographs and crossword puzzles.

Do you like the newsprint and paper bag combination?

[Photos by Angela Hamilton]

Angela Hamilton is a writer and crafter from the Pacific Northwest, and a recent college graduate who blogs about creativity, her adventures alongside her Nikon, and her thrift-shopping, list-making lifestyle. She is currently striving to find a balance between working full-time in an office and following those distant dreams of writing and making things every single day. Her blog is Garden & Sea, and she runs both a vintage shop  and a crochet shop on Etsy. Connect with Angela on Twitter.