DIY 2017 Planner

Earlier in January I decided to make a planner to keep track of our appointments, activities, and work schedules for the new year. We used a beautiful Rifle Paper Co. wall calendar in our kitchen last year that worked really well for us. Rather than go buy a new one for 2017, though, I decided to get a little thrifty and use materials we already had. I can never pass up a good crafting challenge.

We didn’t have the right kind of paper for another wall calendar in the kitchen, so I decided to go with a planner-style project. I found this small binder we had in with our crafting things, and it had unused paper and plastic sleeves inside. Jackpot!

Since Anne and I both love the aesthetic of what Anna Bond creates for Rifle Paper Co., I chose to cut out each month’s painted font from our 2016 calendar to use in our new planner. I mounted each one onto a piece of colored paper using double-sided tape, and then mounted that onto a piece of graph paper to fill the entire plastic sleeve.

Each section/month has five pieces of paper behind it: The first page says, “Monthly Notes,” where we’ve been writing things like monthly goals and things we’d like to accomplish this month. The next four pages have a weekly calendar view from Monday to Sunday. (Yes, I wrote this out 52 times. It was worth it!) I’m so happy with how that layout worked out.

The other fun thing that our new planner has is a space for our meal planning sheets. We slide them in the back of each month’s plastic sleeve, and take them out when we’re deciding what to cook/bake every weekend. We did this style of meal planning last year and we had a lot of success with it. We ended up making so many different kinds of foods, and now we use last year’s notes to help guide us this year:

We have been loving using our new planner. It’s so easy to keep track of all the things we have going on, and it keeps us organized in a lot of different ways: meal planning, monthly goals, daily activities, birthdays, holidays, you name it. The best part is that we still keep it in the kitchen. It sits happily next to our favorite cookbooks and our beloved recipe box — which is also Rifle Paper Co.!

Are you keeping a wall calendar or planner this year? What kinds of things do you keep track of?

How To Make Envelope Liners

img_0542

Making homemade envelope liners is a really nice way to spice up a letter or a card. They’re typically decorative in nature, and aim to complement the style of the envelope/card. Snail mail feng shui, anyone? Wrapping paper, magazine pages, photographs, and art are all great examples of what you can use to make these diy liners. There are so many different ways of doing it that it’s one craft that will never get old for me.

Below I’ll teach you how to make an envelope liner template and also how to adhere the envelope liner to the envelope. It’s fun and simple, and only takes a few minutes once you get the hang of it.

DIY Envelope Liners

Materials:

  • Envelope
  • Liner paper
  • Computer paper
  • Cardboard
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape

Step 1: Open the envelope and trace its shape onto computer paper with a pencil. Cut it out using scissors and then cut an additional one inch off of the bottom.

Step 2: Slide the computer paper cut-out into the envelope. You might have to shave off an eighth of an inch on the left and right sides of the cut-out in order for it to fit. Does everything look right? Do all of the lines match up? If so, trace your cut-out onto a piece of cardboard to create a template. (Cereal box cardboard works really well!)

Step 3: Use the cardboard template to trace the envelope liner paper. Cut it out and slide it into the envelope.

Step 4: Read this carefully. Next, use one hand to hold the liner paper and envelope firmly in place. Use your other hand to fold down the envelope flap. Crease the envelope and liner together, and slide your finger across the seam to create a fold in the decorative paper, making sure that the envelope liner does not move in the process.

Step 5: Lift up only the envelope flap and you’ll notice that the liner paper sits an eighth of an inch below the envelope seam. Push up the liner paper so that the two seams sit right next to each other (see below).

Step 6: Place double-sided tape as close to the edges of the liner paper as possible. Holding the paper in place, fold down the envelope flap once more. Press firmly to secure the tape. Lift up, and the envelope liner will be adhered!

It is a good sign if the bottom of your envelope liner slides up and down when you open and close the envelope. It moves to accommodate the changing angles of the envelope flap!

Practice makes perfect with envelope liners. Don’t give up if it doesn’t look right the first few times. You’ll get the hang of it soon enough, and will be churning them out just in time for the holidays.

img_0558

DIY Address Book

One of the things that is most vivid in my mind from childhood is the address book my parents kept in the kitchen drawer. The outside was covered in a patterned green paper, tattered around the edges from decades of use, and the inside was kind of hairy — business cards and scraps of paper with phone numbers written down were tucked between the already-full pages. Names and addresses had been written and rewritten as people moved or as someone got a cell phone for the first time.

Only now am I realizing how important it is to have a book like this, filled over years with friends and family we can reach out to. These days, it seems like community networks are growing smaller and smaller. This was not the case when I was growing up. Maybe it’s a symptom of being twenty-something.

But who has an address book these days? Everything is in “the cloud,” and I’m still trying to figure out what that means exactly. Information is scattered between apps and devices, and conveniently vanishes when I go looking for it. It is high time for our very first address book.

If there’s one thing you can find many of in our apartment, it’s blank notebooks. I can’t say why, exactly, but we just have this thing for notebooks. Obviously, I wasn’t about to go out and buy an address book when I’m sitting on gold. Time to DIY!

DIY Address Book

Materials:

  • Blank notebook with about 80 pages
  • Letter stickers
  • Colored paper
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors

Step 1: Stick each letter on different colors of paper. Cut out the colored paper so that there is a small border around the letter.

Step 2: Line up the alphabet along the edge of the notebook to decide on spacing. Use double-sided tape to adhere the colored paper to the inner edge of the notebook. (Note: It’s up to you how many pages each letter gets. I gave mine anywhere from 1-4 pages, depending on the letter.)

Step 3: Get creative with a title page!

That’s really all there is to it. It was a fun project, and one that we’ll be reaping the benefits of for a long time to come. Here’s to building community. Happy crafting!

Chalkboard Paint Door

2015 went out with a bang. In the course of one month, Anne and I proposed to each other on our 7-year anniversary, drove from Philly to Chicago and back to spend time with Anne’s family for her birthday and Christmas, hosted my family in Philly for a post-Christmas/engagement/New Year’s party, and made delicious fried pork dumplings as a last hurrah of the year. Phew!

January is all about recalibrating and figuring out what is and isn’t working. What wasn’t working toward the end of last year was working long hours six days a week, not feeling focused on one task at a time, eating too quickly, being absorbed by social media, and generally feeling the holiday frenzy.

This year I’ve decided to focus more on uni-tasking (read an amazing article on it here), as well as taking time to cook, bake, knit, and continue teaching myself to sew. I’ve rearranged my work schedule back into five days a week (for now) so that Anne and I can fill our time off together with home projects and celebrating our engagement!

Our latest home project was revamping the inside of our front door. It was feeling pretty sad and overlooked, and I thought that chalkboard paint would be both practical and really fun. We didn’t need many supplies for this project, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to spice up a little piece of their home. Below is the tutorial!

Chalkboard Paint Door

Materials:

  • 180-grit sand paper
  • TSP spray
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Washi tape or painter’s tape
  • 1 quart chalkboard paint in any color
  • Wooden paint stirrers
  • 2-4 foam brushes
  • Chalk
  • Eraser

Step 1: Take the door off of the hinges, and place it on a tall, sturdy table. Use 180-grit sand paper to thoroughly sand the side of the door to paint. Insure that the surface of the door is smooth and free of any large bumps.

Step 2: Use a rag or paper towel to spray TSP onto the door. This spray will remove all dust and debris from the door, creating a clean surface for painting. Cover door edges and metal hardware with washi tape or blue painter’s tape.

Step 3: Open the can of paint and mix it with a paint stirrer. (It is beneficial to keep the paint stirrer nearby to stir occasionally as you work.)

Step 4: Apply paint to a foam brush. Create even strokes of paint that go with the grain of the wood. Cover the door with one full coat of paint, and let it dry for 4 hours. (If the foam brush begins to disintegrate, discard and use a new brush.)

Step 5: After drying for 4 hours, apply a second coat of paint and let dry again. The door is now ready to be put back on its hinges!

Step 6: Wait three days before continuing this tutorial, as the paint needs to set. Then, prime the chalkboard paint by using the long edge of a piece of chalk to cover the entire door with chalk. Take the eraser and erase over the whole thing. This is a critical step for chalkboard paint so that the first thing you write doesn’t imprint. Your door is ready to be used! Leave important messages, write down a favorite quote, or lay out your week of meals. Having this board in our kitchen (where our door opens into) is going to be so much fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

How To Sew A Drawstring Bag

It’s been raining in Philly lately, which until recently would have been a real bummer. Now I get to spend time working on my rain project! (In case you missed it, I’m teaching myself how to sew.) My first project last week was sewing a table cloth for our dining table. I found a great black linen fabric at Jo-Ann Fabric, and I am really happy with how it turned out.

A few days later, I decided to up my sewing game and make a drawstring bag. I again found the fabric (and string) from Jo-Ann. I knew I’d need a pattern to work from, and Purl Soho had a beautiful pattern tutorial that I decided to use. This project was easier than the table cloth in some ways (less fabric to manage), and harder in others (more intricate details in the sewing). I’ve learned something new about sewing in both of these projects, and I’m pretty excited to continue learning more. Next up: a cafe apron! I’ve already picked out my fabric, and it’s sitting pre-washed and ironed by the sewing machine.

I’m not going to write out a DIY tutorial for this drawstring bag because 1) I followed Purl Soho’s directions almost completely, and 2) I don’t feel strong enough in my sewing skills yet to be able to relay a project in my own words. If you’d like to make a bag like this one, head over to Purl Soho for their tutorial!

PS) Purl Soho recommends using this drawstring bag for shoes, but I say it can be used for all kinds of things. Use it in your travel suitcase for more delicate items, wrap a gift in it, or use it as your knitting bag! It’s versatile and fun to make. Happy sewing!