29 April 2009

Inner Beauty

What do you do with envelopes after you've paid the bills? Before handing them a one-way ticket to Club Recycle or the sunny shores of Shredder-land, take a look inside.

Mom told us never to judge books by their covers, the same is true for envelopes! If you take a look inside, you'll see many of them have these graphic patterns on them.

Cut out the patterned portion...

...And with a paper punch, turn them into stationery!

Salvage the unprinted portion and turn them into tiny envelopes
with glue &
scallop-edge scissors.

I created a set using several old envelopes.
I secured them together by recycling the postage part of the old envelope.
I think it makes a cute, old-fashioned-age-of-letter-writing touch!

Save the window and the punched-out bits...

...And turn them into confetti!

Give a friend a stationery set -- I bet she won't even know

they're made of old bill envelopes!

Have a great day!

A Handmade Gift

Yesterday, I showed you what I received from a swap hosted by Sarah...wonderful pink & green things from awesome crafter and my swap partner Becky! But here's one more thing that came in the package:

This is how Becky turned a blah into a Tada!

She makes sculptures from found objects like this old fork. As you can see, she magically aged the fork, bent the tines and decorated it with pretty baubles. I have to ask her what she named this piece. My nickname for it is "Royal Sun Flower"...can you see the crown on its head? I'm a proud owner of one of Becky's masterpieces! Isn't that cool? You can see more of her work here.

It's always special to give and receive a gift that's handmade. It's not about how much it costs but the time, effort and care put into making that perfect gift. So today, I'll show you how to make a present that's simple to create even for the craft-challenged.

Clothespins remind me of simpler times when washing machines were not yet in vogue, when clothes were hung out to dry and sunshine performed the role of natural fabric softener. Times have changed and it seems like we have very little need for these clothespins. Still readily available at supermarkets and dollar stores, many crafters are transforming these wooden babies into Tadas!

Inspired by photos I've seen in Blogland, here's how I turned a blah into a Tada!:

By attaching a strip of ribbon on one side using a glue gun, what was then a clothespin is now a fun paper clip!

Use it to organize cards, letters and notes.

Add some labels like "urgent", "file", "to do" for things like bills & lists.

Once you're done, throw some in a little jar and give it to a friend.
No occasion necessary..."
just because" is just fine.

28 April 2009

Pink & Green Goodies

Hello everyone! It's all about inexpensive, earth-friendly and personalized gifts this week at blah to Tada! and yesterday I told you about a swap I joined hosted by Gypsy Mermaid. Our theme was "pink & green" and look at what I got from my awesome swap partner Becky:

I excitedly opened the big box that came in the mail and a wide smile appeared on my face when I saw this cute bag! I love bags! They're so dependable for groceries, carrying books from the library and keeping extra stuff accumulated on a trip like souvenirs and gifts for family & friends. I always carry an extra bag in my purse. If MacGyver has a Swiss Army knife, I have an extra bag...it has saved my life countless times!

I feel so special because Becky made this bag.
It's reversible, too, with stripes on one side and polka-dots on the other. How adorable is that? I've already baptized it as my official bag for summer...oh, the places we'll go!

There were more goodies inside the bag!

Like this lovely handkerchief which reminds me of afternoon tea parties and lace parasols. It's already a Tada! but I know what I can do with it to make it even more Tada!. But you'll have to wait for it in a future post!

I'm enjoying the scent of these pink votives. I already put them in clear glass votive holders, ready to be lit!

Don't you love the shade of pink on this gelato dish? I'm already dreaming up ice cream sundae concoctions as an excuse to use it. Vanilla Bean ice cream topped with strawberry slices (so sweet at this time of year) and a dollop of whipped cream in this compote spells P-A-R-T-Y!

Hershey's Kisses dressed in pink...can anything else be more romantic?
(I really like how chocolates dress appropriately for each season)

Any crafter will find use for scrapbook paper even if the craft of choice isn't scrapbooking!

How dainty are these pink & green beads, tulle, lace and vintage belt buckle! Trust me, even the clothes pins and pearl-head pins will be put to good use.

And finally, stationery and pens! I'm not sure if I told Becky that I enjoy the art of letter-writing but she was right on the money! They arrived at a time when my stationery supply is running low.

How wonderful are these gifts -- so personal from somebody I've never even met. Thanks again Becky! I must blame you for rubbing off the "swap bug" to a novice swapper like me!

27 April 2009

Swaps & Exchanges

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you guys had a fun Saturday and Sunday. This week on blah to Tada! we'll look at some cute gift ideas that won't break the bank, are earth-friendly and always come with a personal signature.

Let me begin the week by telling you about a package I sent to a lady I have never met. Why on earth did I do that and if I didn't know her, how would the gift be "personal", you ask? Well, I joined a SWAP hosted by the Gypsy Mermaid. A SWAP is exactly that: goodies are swapped with an assigned partner. The participants in this swap have something in common -- we are all crafters & bloggers. The items swapped can be old and new, don't necessarily fit a budget but follow a given theme. Our theme: "pink and green".

Here's what I sent to my partner Becky:

A "green" box

Remember this box? I talked about it two Fridays ago where I recycled an old but sturdy mailing box by turning it inside out. It's a good way to
reuse a box and save some bucks. I filled it was festive paper and the gifts I picked for Becky.

A personalized note

Even if we never met, we got acquainted thorugh e-mail exchanges and checking out each other's blogs. A little research is key to personalize presents. Her blog's name is Heart in my Hand
so I made her this card and wrote her a note inside.

Pink and Green snacks

There's a Japanese supermarket near where I live. I picked up these strawberry-filled cookies for afternoon snacking and Genmai-cha green tea to keep her in the "pink" of health.

Be green and plant a tree today

More green things in the form of a pop-up vase for freshly-picked flowers and little pots containing basil seeds and flower seeds...just add water and watch them grow. This will be an exciting spring project!

An egg-stra special surprise

I painted an empty egg carton and decorated it with pink and green stick-on flowers. Here's what I put inside:

Pink and green materials for crafting

Buttons and beads

Sequins, stickers and patches

Reuse & reduce for a greener earth

I also included a bag made from recycled plastic that she can use for storing her current craft projects that can be taken from room to room or when traveling. There's also a tumbler for her morning coffee or tea. It has a detachable inner sleeve which she can make her own by adding family photos.

What fun I had putting this together and what's more Becky got the package and she said I "nailed it"!

Tomorrow, I'll show you what she sent me!

24 April 2009

A Special Souvenir

Yay, it's Friday! We end the week with a final post on soda cans that went from blah to Tada!

This week I showed you how other people, specifically local folk from South Africa, blah to Tada! I think it's awesome to make (and receive) treasure from trash! During this same trip in Durban, South Africa, I met a fellow named Sylvester. He was peddling his wares to gift shops. He was like Santa Claus carrying a big sack of products, all made from soda cans. I chatted him up and through our conversation, I discovered the fire of his entrepreneurial spirit. He didn't have a job, he didn't have much and to build a better future for himself, he decided to be a businessman. He did everything himself -- sourcing his materials, crafting, marketing and door-to-door sales. Sylvester was kind enough to show me how he made his products:

He starts with collecting soda cans from garbage bins. The cans are grouped together by brand, cleaned and are cut using a pair of scissors (a precise skill!).

With the top & bottom off, the soda can now looks like a sheet. These are measured and cut using a pattern. Then holes are drilled on the edges of the can.

The can is weaved onto leather using a cord that looks like thin cable wires (the cord is inserted into the holes). The leather strengthens the can, makes it more pliable and covers the sharp edges. The different parts (ex. strap for a bag) are attached together using more cord. Sylvester tightly weaves the parts together, I was sure it was going to be strong & sturdy.

Sylvester showing off his handiwork.

Tada! A bag, a cap and visors all made from soda cans!

See that bag on the left made of Coca Cola cans? I bought this from him as my souvenir from South Africa. He even signed the inner flap! We said goodbye, both happy.

t's been three years since we met and I truly hope his business has grown!

Have a fantastic Tada! weekend everyone!

23 April 2009

Get Your Motor Running

I hope you were successful in doing a little something for Mother Earth yesterday. Walking instead of taking the car, using canvas bags for shopping trips, taking your own reusable drinking bottle and my favorite -- recycling, are simple steps that spell a big difference.

Today, soda cans are our blah:

And look at the Tada! I found these at a gift shop called Art Africa in South Africa. These were made by a cooperative specializing in recycled art. I'm at awe with the construction and creativity. Plus the fact that the locals are provided with a source of income, a venue for self expression and they get to save the earth, too! Triple Tada!:

22 April 2009

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day today! Why not do a little something for Mother Earth? Reuse, reduce, recycle...there are really a lot of things that we can do. Start today then make it a daily habit and soon enough we can make every day, Earth Day.

In this blog, we love to recycle -- turning blahs into Tadas! And this week, we're putting the spotlight on craftspeople from South Africa. Just look at how they turned soda cans like these from blah...

...into Tada!:

These are excess sheets of aluminum packaging, the stage before they're turned into soda cans. Instead of discarding them, local cooperatives collected them and used them as material for boxes! The edges and insides of the boxes are lined with leather so no sharp edges are exposed. Then they're bound together with string. Such simple materials resulting in a useful box to store anything and everything: a secret stash for snacks, a box for soup & gravy packets or a container for crafting materials. Totally Tada!!!

21 April 2009

Cans to Cars

This week's blah are these colorful soda cans and I must say that the artwork graphic designers put on them is really attractive. When I was younger, I had a phase of collecting soda cans because they were so pretty and commemorative cans (ex. Coke Christmas) make good collectibles, too. So imagine the thrill I felt when I saw these at Art Africa (a little shop in South Africa):

An artist turned cans into toy cars! They're decorative but little hands can play with them, too. The sharp edges have been buffed smooth and the wheels really turn. Could this be the car of the future?

See you tomorrow for another cool idea!

20 April 2009

Soda Cans

Happy Monday Everyone! We were blessed with very nice weather over the weekend and that was a real Tada! for me! I hope each of you had your own Tada! moment, too.

This week, I'm featuring cans again. There are just too many cans out there and it's good to know how we can make them more useful. Rather than doing the crafting myself, I'll show how how other people turn this blah into a Tada!:

Tada! Soda cans turned into mirror frames.
I found these at Art Africa, a cute gift shop in Durban, South Africa.
They're a little bit bohemian, a little bit quirky, but a lot of fun!