Card with Present Pockets

September 29, 2014

Sweet cinnamon! Where the heck have I been?! A quick stop by my Etsy shop ( will show you the gambit of goods that I’ve recently added to this fine world. But you’re not here for that are you, you want to know how to make a great card that doubles as a beautiful package of goods… well, let me show you!

This is a card I’ve made on a number of occasions over the past few years- great bulk Christmas and Halloween gifts, gifts for teachers, gifts for those feeling under the weather… it has not been difficult to find an excuse to build this beauty. Recently my dear friend completed her final round of chemo for her Hodgkin’s lymphoma (hooray!) and then a week later was hit with appendicitis and trucked right back to the hospital… good grief! So I had to make her this card, there was really no option.

Step 1: Gather materials: Paper, ruler, glue, ribbon (or some other closure) and goodies to put inside- these are “the essentials” but you may find that a scorepad, bone folder, circle punch, paper piercer, brads and a paper trimmer are all extremely helpful tools when papercrafting.

(Goodies that work well for the pockets of this card are tea bags and squares of chocolate.)

Step 2: Prepare exterior paper. Using a heavier cardstock, cut piece to 9.5″ long x 4.5″ wide. Score a center “binding” at 4.5″ and 5″. Set aside.



Step 3: Prepare interior paper for pockets. You can use cardstock or patterned paper for the interior, though I feel it is easiest to work with thinner patterned paper. Trim paper to 9″ long x 7.25″ wide. To create a center binding that nests into the exterior paper, align paper so the long side is at the top and score at 4.25″ and 4.75″. To create the pockets, rotate the paper so the shorter side is at the top and score at 0.25″ and 3.75″. These are all valley folds (meaning they all should go down).



Step 4: Fold up the interior paper to create the center binding with pockets on both sides.DSC09882


Step 5: Glue down the top 0.25″ flap.


Step 6: If you have a circle punch, punch out a half circle from each pocket end to allow for easier access to goodies within. I used a 1″ punch.



Step 7: If you want to cover the inside of the card base, now is the time to do that. I did this out of necessity as I’m reusing the blue cardstock from another project. Using patterned paper trimmed to 9″ long x 4″ wide and scored 4″ and 4.5″, then align and glue ‘er down.

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Step 8: Glue pocket paper along binding of card base. 



Step 9: Increase strength of binding using brads. At estimated distances from each end, punch a small hole with piercer and insert brad. This is probably not essential, but ensures confidence that the packaging won’t fall apart at the binding and it looks polished.

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Step 10: Add a ribbon, decorate the exterior, and fill with goodies. I like to sandwich the ribbon between two of the outer layers, but let your juices flow with how you want to affix a closure. I would not recommend spherical confections as shown here as they’re a bit bulky.



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I love making cards for people, what a good feeling to give and receive a handmade package of beauty, and this one in particular is great because you get to stuff it with treats!

When I heard of my friends continued ailment, “WTF?!” was the first thing what went through my mind. SO, hey, why not plaster it in bold letters on the front of a card, right? Thankfully she is on the mend and doing well, presumably off of her all-liquid diet and getting back her strength.

As always, Thank You for stopping by!


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The German Apple Pancake… get on over here gorgeous!

September 15, 2014

Sing a song, dance a dance, shout from the rooftops- Apples are HERE!

My daughter and I walked to the post office then down an alley where, behold, an apple tree was brimming with rosy sweet lovies! Jackpot! We filled up our mail bag… and our hands… and our mouths… and walked home dreaming up the possibilities.

First on the list: The German Apple Pancake. Don’t let the name fool you- this is definitely not a pancake in the traditional USA sense. The batter bakes into a rich and soft custard-cake that surrounds tart, sweet, cinnamony apples. Hellllooooo beautiful!

Step 1: Gather materials.

For the Batter:  1/2 c. flour, 1Tbl. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix until lumps are gone and set aside. Don’t worry about overmixing, it sets aside and gets to relax a bit. This bakes into nothing at all like a pancake but a custard. It’s a freakin’ dream!

For the Apple goodness: (3-6+) Apples of your liking- some like it tart, others sweeter, the choice is yours. The ones we picked are tart, just the way I like it for this recipe. Pairs beautifully with the custard, sugar and spice. 1/4 c. brown sugar, a few good dashes of cinnamon, 1 tsp. lemon juice.


Step 2: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat to 500.

Step 3: Peel, core, and cut apples into 1/4″ slices.



Step 4: Melt 2 Tbl. butter in 10″ ovensafe nonstick skillet over med-high. Add apples, brown sugar, and cinnamon; cook until apples are soft and tender, but not mushy. Off the heat and stir in lemon juice.



Step 5: Remember that batter you made? Pour it around the edge of the pan and then over the apples.

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Step 6: Put skillet in the oven and reduce temp to 425. Bake until the pancake edges are brown and puffy and have risen above the edges of the skillet, about 15-18 mins.

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Step 7: Using a potholder to hold pan, loosen the pancake edges and invert the pancake onto a platter. We like to have a little maple syrup alongside our confection, but  this beauty is stunning as-is or with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Step 8: ENJOY! This step should be exercised in ALL steps of this post and throughout life!

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In case you were wondering, second on the list: Deep Dish Apple Pie… LIFE IS SO DAMN GOOD!



Fall is so full of impact for me. The air is crisp, almost sharp, yet so sweet. It is a season of harvest, not only the collection of fruits of the earth we’ve sown and tended these past few months, but also a time to reflect and reap the fruits of our life’s labors. What have I grown this season? What thoughts, actions, and choices have I tended to and what have I left for the weeds to consume? Am I happy with the abundance and contents of my basket? Thoughts like this roll through my mind and I am forced to pause and reflect.

I am grateful that I can look back on this past season of growth and feel content and empowered by the choices that I made throughout all those yesterdays. I had some major weed pulling to do this year, and as I ripped away those nagging and strangling growths it opened up space and light to the bountiful flowers and fruits waiting patiently to be unearthed. I do hope that you too had some constructive landscaping within the gardens of your soul and that you planted and nurtured the good seeds and threw out the rotten ones.

All the best to you, wherever you are in life! Thank you for stopping by during your busy day and I hope you come to visit again soon!


A (Not so Scary) Scarecrow Tutorial

September 11, 2014

As part of the Sunday School Kickoff this past weekend, I had kids plant tulip bulbs in front of the church sign. Bulbs were packaged with squares of burlap I cut from an old seed bag. When it was all said and done, my son picked up an empty square and asked,  “Can we make a scarecrow?” And that is exactly how this tutorial came into being. So follow along to build your very own yard companion to greet the Autumn upon us!

Step 1: Gather materials: Wood, old shirt, yarn/twine/string, old fabric for head (we used the rest of the seed back from above), scraps of felt, fabric glue, lots of paper/plastic grocery sacks or old rags or old socks or whatever you have that can be used to beef up the body (I know you have a pile of these somewhere- we all have a grocery bag graveyard), and any adornments you want to pimp out your scarecrow with.

Step 2: Assemble wood into a cross. We happened to have this yellow cross constructed and painted sitting in the garage collecting dust. A perfect dressform!



Step 3: Put shirt onto form. Tie the bottom with twine/string to keep the innards in.





Step 4: Stuff the shirt with recycled materials. We used old grocery bags. Fill it out through the arms to give it a bit more personality.





Step 5: Make the head by laying out a big square of the material and filling up the center with stuffing. Bring up the sides to create a head-like shape. Tie this onto the top of the wooden form.





Step 6: Give it a face using scraps of felt or other fabric and fabric glue. Or leave it faceless for a really creepy scarecrow.





Step 7: Add any additional adornments you wish: bandana, hat, crossbow… the choice is yours.



Step 8: Find him a home in the yard. Our garden is pretty much done for the year, but my son was intent on scaring any crows away from whatever the heck may be left beyond the weeds.



And there you have it!

Happy Autumn, everyone! Hope you all find solace in the changing of seasons from summer into cooler weather and shorter days. Regardless of where you are on life’s journey or your feelings about the bible, here is a little snippet I think all can appreciate:

Galatians 6:9 (NRSV)

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.

Agree? Doing what is right is downright exhausting at times! But because you know it is right, you mustn’t give up- it will pay off! Living your life is about the one thing you can control, take full responsibility for that and do what you were made to do. Life is short, make it count.

Thanks for stopping by- hope you come back again soon!


UPcycled Buttons

September 2, 2014

This past month, Family Fun magazine invited readers to take part in their “Top This” Challenge. The goal is to “top” the craft developed by the magazine using some common, household item. For the August challenge, the item was buttons.

The kids and I mulled over what to do when it occurred to me that the button itself could be the craft! I have been saving my bottle caps and thought, “What if we could MAKE buttons out of these?!”. Heaven knows we don’t need another excuse to produce millions of tiny plastic fragments sold for absurd prices. SO, here’s what we came up with…

Step 1: Gather supplies: Bottle caps, hammer, nail, surface to hammer on, paint and other decor (optional).


Step 2: Flatten front and backside of cap with hammer. Try to tuck in and flatten out sharp ridges on backside.


DSC09347 Step 3: Make button holes using nail and hammer.



Step 4: Paint over with acrylics, glue on googly eyes, or leave as is and attach to something. If submitting to a family-oriented magazine, I recommend painting over the bottle caps if they came from beer bottles.


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Step 5: Once paint is dry, use some Mod Podge or Krylon sealant spray to affix the paint.


Step 6: After sealant is dry, you can really do whatever you want. In fact, beginning way back at Step 1 you could really do whatever you wanted. Make magnets, a wind chime, have another bottle of beer to add one more cap to the collection- the choice is yours! My boy decided to draw Fire Nation symbols because he loves the old Nickelodeon Avatar shows and is convinced he’s a member of the Fire Nation.

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OK, so there you go! Take pride in the creation of your very own personalized buttons using things you already had around the house. Encourage yourself to take a moment to think about what you have and the great many uses for those things rather than dashing off to a super mega store to buy more for some silly challenge. The real challenge is about your resourcefulness and willingness to rethink uses of the many items around you.

Thank you for stopping by today! I appreciate YOU!


And swing by my other sites to get a broader look at the things I’m up to!



Gourd-geous Bowl Tutorial

August 28, 2014

Thanks for stopping by during your busy day! I like to keep things short and sweet so you can learn a little something then get back to life. Hope you enjoy!

This tutorial will walk you through the steps to create a simple and lovely bowl made from a gourd.

Step 1: Gather materials. To begin, you will need a gourd, wash basin with soap/water, scrubber, a little elbow grease, and some good music. After you have cleaned the gourd’s exterior, you will need a saw, variety of scoopers (be resourceful- spoons, pumpkin cleaners, etc.), dust mask, and sandpaper. Once it is cut and the interior is cleaned, be creative with how you decorate your bowl, any number of materials may be used. Or, if you prefer, you can leave it just as it is and it will look great. Whatever you decide, you will need to seal it. I use Krylon’s Triple-Thick Crystal Clear Glaze because it dries fast, is simple to apply, coats evenly, and adds a great luster. Ok, let’s get going!

Step 2: Clean the gourd’s exterior. Fill a wash basin with water with a little soap and bleach. A gourd is covered in all sorts of molds (this is totally normal! some look pretty gnarly- be not afraid!), so the bleach will disinfect the surface preventing mold from growing in the future. Steel wool, metal kitchen scrubbers and the like are imperative to the cleaning process. Remember, elbow grease was on the supplies list- I never said this would be easy. Clean the surface until all visible signs of mold are gone. If some spots are stubborn, grab a knife and gently scrape it off then scrub again. Once it is free of foreign debris, set it out to dry.


Wash and scrub gourds in water with soap and bleach. Exterior should be free from any white film or other foreign debris. Warts and mold scars are a natural part of the gourd’s surface, don’t bother removing these. The 2 here are ready to dry.

Set out to air dry. Surface will appear dull and no moisture should be felt.

Set out to air dry. Surface will appear dull and no moisture should be felt.

Step 3: Begin the Brainstorm! While the gourd dries, take the moment to gain inspiration and develop ideas for what you want your finished product to look like, or at least how you will cut it in the next phase. Search online, thumb books, look around your backyard– flashes of innovation surround you!

Gourd inspiration

Step 4: Draw where the hole will be onto the gourd. A simple way to draw this is to make a compass using a string and pencil. Holding the string at the top (or bottom) and drawing an equidistant line gives a nice round line that is more or less level to the bottom. I usually go around 3 times then assume an average line.


Step 5: Cut the gourd along the line you just drew. An amazing woman by the name of Elaine taught me the art of gourd crafts while under the awful siege of cancer. After she passed, her husband kindly lent me her supplies to use. In that arsenal, was a handheld jigsaw that makes this step a dream. Thank you Elaine and Bill for your generosity, sharing a great many gifts with me! On former projects, I used a hacksaw, so that is an option if power tools aren’t available to you.

Cut gourd

Here is that beauty of a saw plus a dust mask. Gourds produce lots of fine dust when sawed and sanded. Protect yourself!


To start, use a flathead screwdriver or some sharp object laying around to poke a hole to start off. Dried gourds are hard like wood, so go slow and be patient while cutting. If you still have that good music, now is great time to crank it. Keep the top and the seeds as they can be used in a number of ways for other projects down the road. Or, depending on where you live, plant them and produce your own crop! A tool that I think works wonders for this step is a craft knife often found with potting tools. A gourd is not flat, so having a curved tool is critical in getting all the fibers out. Spoons, pumpkin scoops (if they’re sharp enough), sharp rocks, the list goes on- just look around and start scraping!

Step 6: Clean it out! Keep the top and the seeds as they can be used in a number of ways for other projects down the road. Or, depending on where you live, plant them and produce your own crop! A tool that I think works wonders for this step is a craft knife often found with potting tools. A gourd is not flat, so having a curved tool is critical in getting all the fibers out. Spoons, pumpkin scoops (if they’re sharp enough), sharp rocks, the list goes on- just look around and start scraping!

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Step 7: Smooth the interior with sandpaper. After you’ve scraped out the innards, keep that dust mask on and get to sanding. Sand until you are content with the smoothness of the inside and the finish is suitable for the bowls purpose. If you plan on painting the interior, it doesn’t need to be too perfect.


Step 8: Paint interior. For this tutorial, I painted the interior with black acrylic paint because that’s what I had on my shelf beside me and black gives the gourd a finished look while covering all flaws. If you have black spray paint and a precise hand, you can paint the inside that way. (Note- these paints are not suitable for food!)


Step 9: Decorate exterior. After the interior is dry, decorate the exterior. There are endless possibilities for this step! I’ve chosen Adirondack alcohol inks by Ranger. These are vibrant, easy to apply, quick to dry, and build-able in color. In addition, they can be used with pyrography, under wax, under acrylics, etc.


Use a cheapo cosmetic sponge, cotton swab, or thin felt stamping thing to apply. Always use a tray underneath! Squirt ink onto pad then start applying in circlar motions going round and round until you are content with the color and texture.

Step 10: Seal it using the Kyrlon shown here or some other glaze. You must seal both the exterior and the interior. Spray the interior with a few coats, then after it has dried completely , spray the exterior with a few coats.


Step 11: Sit back and admire your beautiful creation!!


I decided to give mine a little more spunk by weaving the rim with some hemp, thread and buttons I had on hand. (See closeup photo below.)

I hate to rush the seasons (or rush anything for that matter), but when my Glads and Rudbeckia are blooming, I’ve got fresh made gourd crafts and a wool infinity scarf (yellow/green plaid in basket above), I HAVE to decorate!! The braided basket and gourd garland is courtesy of Elaine, that wonderful individual I mentioned a moment ago.


Here is a closeup shot of the weave with buttons as well as a basket that I cut and burned yesterday using a feather motif. I have found that gourd crafting is often very traditional, which isn’t really my flavor, so embellishing with buttons and the like gives this a more modern appeal.

Kurt Von quote

Gourd art aside – Congratulations and Thank You for being the original, inspired individual you were made to be! I encourage you to keep going, growing, and moving in the direction your dreams pull you- even if it is different than the direction your boss, mother or anybody else tells you to go.

Stop by again soon for a tutorial to learn from and share. Also, to encourage you to ” Practice an art, no matter how well or badly, as a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.” Yes, for Heaven’s sake!

Thanks again,


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Simple pyrography for beautiful, handcrafted gifts! Part 2

August 26, 2014

Welcome back! I hope you enjoyed Part 1 of this tutorial where I introduced stamping an image onto wood as a quick and seamless means of design transfer. A technique great for the novice and expert alike! In the second part of this tutorial, I would like to demonstrate this technique on cork. Unlike wood or gourds, a woodburner on cork is like ink on paper, the cork burns quickly and the tip glides along the surface. It is a GREAT medium! 

Follow along to create simple, beautiful gifts for others or to add to your own home!

Step 1: Gather supplies: Brown ink, stamps, burnable surface (in this case, cork).


Step 2: Stamp image on the surface.


Step 3: Burn as you wish and admire your beautiful work! No kidding, that’s it! The coasters used in this tutorial are available for less than $1 each (look in the gardening/planter section of store). This project takes 30-45 minutes to create a set of 4 lovely coasters. 


Thanks again for stopping by! Please continue to visit- many more tutorials to come.

Have a terrific day, even if someone is rude to you or you spilled coffee on your new blouse and had to walk around with a huge brown stain on your top- know that life is a BIG and beautiful thing, and you are loved!  Focusing on the big picture helps get through the small stuff- and it’s (pretty much) all small stuff. 


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Simple pyrography for beautiful, handcrafted gifts! Part 1

August 25, 2014

Hi! If you love to burn or are interested in trying your hand at it, here is a simple and fool-proof technique that works wonderfully!

In an attempt to reduce the amount of time it was taking to transfer images onto wood, cork, gourd, whatever, I thought, “What would happen if I just stamped an image with brown ink, then burned over it?” Well, what happened was complete success! Of course, this only works for images that you have in a stamp form, but it turns out there are plenty of great stamps out there with designs that are 100% suitable for burning! Think of borders, accents, etc. The sky is the limit! This technique will work on gourds and other curved objects, but works best on flat surfaces like wood and cork.

Simple Pyro Project, Part 1: Pocket/purse token

Step 1: Gather supplies: brown ink, stamp of choice, and burnable surface (wood in this case).

Step 2: Stamp image onto surface. Ta-da! Your image is transferred! No tracing, no smudging, just perfect text and image transfer.


Step 3: After you’ve transferred your image, burn right over the top. If you are new to this, a general rule is to start lightly and build up in weight as you go. There’s no lightening the line once it’s done!


Step 4: After you have burned over the image, you are potentially done depending on the goal of your project. I decided to add a bit of shine and sheen to my little token, so I mixed up some Perfect Pearls powder with Adirondack alcohol ink and covered the token in a beautiful gold coat. You may want to wear gloves.



Step 5: Allow this to dry completely. Because it is alcohol ink, this will be only a few short minutes. The gold ink will reduce the visibility of your design, so burn over the burned image again.


Now, put this in your pocket or purse or hand it off to another that may need a little reminder every now and again that the quality of one’s life belongs entirely to them and they are encouraged to make the most of that.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to leave comments (preferably nice ones) and check back soon for more tutorials!


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