29 July 2019

Five Handwritten Cards for Healing

A handwritten note holds great power.  It tells the recipient that they are loved, are thought about kindly, and that they matter.

Do you remember the last time you received a handwritten card, perhaps for a birthday or someone expressing gratitude to you? What did you feel? Wasn't it warm and fuzzy, like you were the most special person on earth?

Why not pay it forward? It's a good excuse to buy nice stationery and a good pen, and more importantly, to brighten somebody's day.

Here are five cards I've sent over the years to those who I think really needed it the most. I call them "Cards for Healing".

1. A card of support after a tragedy

On Valentine's Day in 2018, a tragic mass shooting happened at The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. 

School should be a place where one feels safe but not in this case. The event made students, parents, and teachers associate school with fear and tragedy. The school was closed for some time.  

When the school was scheduled to re-open, I found out on Instagram that one of the teachers encouraged letters and posters to be written for the students. These would be put up on the walls to uplift the students. How could I not participate?

I hope that in my own little way, I have given them some encouragement. I also hope that all these mass shootings will finally stop. 

2. A card for someone going through illness

When I find out that a relative or friend is going through illness, I try my best to reach out. Nobody wants to hear difficult news and if and when they do, they need a hand to hold. 

I made this card for a friend of mine. I told her that for each flower I painted, I said a prayer for her. And that my prayers continue even after I gave her the card. 

I hope that this card is a reminder that her family and friends will her to get well and that she should never give up.  

3. A card for someone who suffered a loss

This is a card I made for a dear friend who lost her partner.  I told her that I share her sadness and included some memorable stories we all had together. 

I received similar letters when my parents passed away. And they gave me so much comfort. Whether it's a loss of a parent, spouse, or a miscarriage, letters like these are always appreciated.  

4. A card commending someone for their bravery

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely testified against then Supreme Court nominee (now Supreme Court Justice) Brett Kavanaugh. In a televised hearing, she recounted a traumatic event that happened between them when they were teenagers. Even if she was afraid and received death threats, she still did it because she said it was her civic duty.     

My heart went out to her and I wanted to let her know. I found a mailing address on Twitter and wrote her a letter telling her that I believed her and I was thankful for her bravery.  

5. A card offering support

Everyone goes through rough patches -- loss of a job, an opportunity not pulling through, a break-up. These moments can be devastating. Words of encouragement may just be what they need to pick themselves up again. 

It is my hope that cards like these turn blahs into TADAs!

22 July 2019

A Stylish Storage Container

It's so nice to see you today!

One Christmas, we received this big can filled with bags of popcorn. Each bag had a different flavor, a perfect snack for weekends of binge-watching.

All the popcorn is gone but I kept the can. I liked that it had a lid, a cute design, and it can be used as a storage container. 

Time to turn it from blah to TADA!

I used a paint brush and some white acrylic paint. 

I worked outdoors and covered my surfaces with newspaper. I painted the can and lid with several coats (allow to dry in between coats) until the design was completely covered up.

I found this drawer pull at Target. It was on clearance!

Hearth and Hand Drawer Pull, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Fixer Upper
I attached it to the lid as a handle (you can find similar drawer pulls at the hardware store).

storage container, recycling bin
Here's our newly painted storage container...TADA! At this point, we can add some rust preventive spray to keep it protected.

To easily know what's inside, add a label like a chalkboard or sticker, or do it freehand with brush lettering. 

There are many uses for this storage container: 

A place to keep children's favorite things

A container for pet food

For trash or recyclables

recycling bin
I'm using mine as a recycling bin -- a place to store the items I want to save for crafting like jars, cans, and paper. 

I used stencils and paint for my label:

Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils, stencils, stick-on stencils

Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils, stencils, stick-on stencils, paint-on stencils

Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils, stencils, stick-on stencils
Instead of "Recycling Bin", I opted for the word Repurpose because I think my blah to TADA! projects are all about giving old objects new life and new purpose.  

Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils, stencils, stick-on stencils
This storage container will sit unobtrusively in my work space. 

Martha Stewart Adhesive Stencils, stencils, stick-on stencils
What's more, it will neatly keep treasures that are ready to be transformed...TADA!

15 July 2019

A Rainbow Pouch

Here is a project cobbled together from things I found in my sewing kit.

Fabric remnants, a zipper, and embroidery thread.

Inspired by something I saw at a shop, I decided to do a little DIY.

I sewed a rainbow! I like to use the term "sketching with thread".

I added a zipper, sewed this on and also closed the seams (you can use a sewing machine or do this by hand).

Here is my finished rainbow pouch...TADA!

Because I had thread left over, I made a tassel. No need to waste even a small piece...TADA!

08 July 2019

Handmade Gift Bows

It's all about gift wrapping today!

I saw this at a store and thought I could make it myself. Why buy when we can D-I-Y?

I found some pink tissue in my craft stash.

I used some basic supplies like scissors, glue, and tape. 

I folded the paper in half and cut a fringe along the fold. I opened up the paper in the opposite way so that the petals form these arches. Then I rolled the paper onto itself and glued the edge in place...TADA!

Here's another idea:

I cut a fringe from the strip of paper. Compared to the first fringe I made, this is not cut along the fold giving the fringe a grass-like look. 

I wrapped the paper around the box and taped it in place. 

Then I embellished with stickers...TADA! 

Using the same technique, I made a flower by rolling the fringe and attaching it to the box with washi tape...TADA!

Doesn't it look like a carnation? 

And here's a final idea:

I cut multiple circles and stacked them on top of each other (adding a bead of glue between each stack). Then I cut fat fringes and twisted the bottom of the paper to bunch up the circles.

Now the paper looks like a pompom flower...TADA!

Even if you don't have bows on hand, you can make them yourself, turning plain paper from blah to TADA!

You'll find more D-I-Y bow ideas here, here, and here.

01 July 2019

The Gift of Calligraphy

Several years ago, I took a calligraphy class from the endearing and talented Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls. I was elated to discover that she published a book last year!

Inside, she gives a short history on calligraphy and how it has evolved to "Modern Calligraphy" or a style derived from one's own handwriting. And that is confidence-building for sure! I've pored through books and observed some demos on the rules of proper calligraphy, feeling insecure that I'm not doing it correctly. Well, Maybelle encourages us to let go of perfection

The book is a resource on how to set up a work space, the best tools to use, and the proper way to hold a pen. 

The art direction, a collaboration with Rebecca Thuss and Patrick Farrell, is just lovely!

Like any other hobby, it's important to practice, practice, and practice!

And these are my practice sheets...TADA!

Once I got the hang of it, I tried out the different project ideas in the book:

(1) Pictorial Calligraphy: fill a shape with words written in calligraphy (ex. the classic song "New York, New York" inside an apple)

(2) A favorite quote that you can display (with or without a frame) on your work desk

(3) Make your own gift wrapping sheets

(4) Parcel Mail Art: in the book, Maybelle decorated a wooden box with a label, twine, vintage postage stamps, and a wax seal. Here is my version where I re-purposed a cardboard box:


(5) Brush lettering on fabric: I added "Cheers" to this cloth gift bag using a permanent marker

(6) Draw your own Botanical Poster (I was inspired by spring blooms)

(7) A Message in a Bottle! I wrote some letters and put them inside these empty vanilla bean/pod vials

(8) Labels and Tags for packaging, mailing, and gifting 

I love how these projects help improve my calligraphy style and double as gifts or packaging for gifts...TADA!

"The projects in this book range from easy to advanced, and I created them with the idea of making and giving something handcrafted. I hope you will find that the act of making a gift to give is also an invaluable gift to yourself. Take pride in the fact that you created the gift by hand -- and let go of the idea of perfection. If you are patient with yourself and remember to have fun, you will discover the many ways that the gift of calligraphy can spread love and kindness in unexpected ways." - Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls