Saturday, January 27, 2007

Paint Chip Samples Bedazzle Me

As a part of O'Kane Construction, I spend a fair amount of time at the hardware store. The neat rows and rows of paint chip samples (those colorful little cards in the paint section) always catch my eye. Postcard size, long strips, short strips, tiny squares- some are even actual stickers! And with names like Sugar Plum, Bridesmaid, Appletini, and Snow Whites Song, who can resist? I can't! Here are a couple of quick and easy projects I've been working on. There are endless projects already out there. What will you do with your stash?
1. Let the title get you thinking. How many stories can you think while holding a gaudy pink card titled, 'Bridesmaid'? Or Appletini...or Shy Little Piglet...
Write it down, preferably on the back of the paint chip sample, and send it to a friend who would appreciate it.
2. Use the huge selection of colors for punches. Some come on a sticker paper and make perfect, well, stickers!
3. Hangtag or bookmark? It can be both! Write your gift-getters name down the front with your favorite Sharpie and tie to your wrapped present. Choose colors they like with titles that befit them or the occasion. Muttering to 'befit' a word? Punch a hole in top center, gather scraps of ribbon, poke loop through hole in card, pull ribbon ends through loop and tug tight.

3. Enlarge a favorite at the copy shop to make a poster. $1.98 on cardstock. I chose this particular sample because the color square on the bottom is titled, Sweet William. A little name I called my William when he was tiny. Sometimes I still do. Now I'm hunting for a "Robins Egg Blue".
4. Stitch on Shrinky Dink charms! Next week I will be posting Shrinky Dink tips and tricks with another project tutorial. Rubber stamps of a tiny bird, mod girl walkin', and Mary were used. The tiny girl is from a Dover Publication $1 book of Family Stencils.
5. I have one more project using paint chip samples I want to share with you. Come back February 1st to see the first of Seven Days of Valentines!
Papercandy for mod and retro style rubber stamps
Stamp Luis Obispo 1036 1/2 Chorro St, San Luis Obispo CA 93401 805/541.5198
for local artist stamps, papers, ribbons, scrabble tiles, and every supply you could think of
More Paint Chip Sample Projects:
Make Your Own Card Holder
Paint Chip Wallet
Embroider Them! (scroll down)
Send me your paint chip sample projects at missamyo [at]

Friday, January 19, 2007

Little Birds and Chinese Fortune Plaque

Little birds and Chinese fortune cookie slips* go quite well together, don't you think? I found a few of these dandy little wood plaques at the hobby shop and knew they had wonderful things in store for them. Liam and I made an XTC altar-like plaque for our Jeremy and I just couldn't stop making more. They can be quick and easy or decadent and elaborate. What would you do with a little wood plaque? Here is one way to get started. Send pictures of your lovely (and not so lovely) creations my way when you're done craftin'.
Gather Your Supplies:
  1. tiny, sharp scissors
  2. pencil
  3. Xacto knife
  4. ruler
  5. cutting mat
  6. paint brush
  7. acrylic craft paint
  8. Yes! paste or Elmers glue stick
  9. wood plaque
  10. papers: printed and plain
  11. fortune cookie slip

1. Sand plaque smooth or just try to pick a smooth one at the hobby shop. Paint entire plaque, front and back.

2. On backside of paper, trace the raised front of plaque. See how my pencil is angled in? This helps create a more accurate pattern. Cut out, staying just inside of your drawn line.

3. Lay out all of your pieces and see what you think. Now is the time to add a painted gold border or glue on that sweet plastic squirrel you've been saving. I decided to go sweet and simple, cutting a red cardstock background for my little fortune.

4. Glue. Wait- not yet. Your paper background may be a little too big. Lay it in place without glue first, just to check. Press the paper edges over the lip to creat a tiny crease. Now snip along the crease to remove excess and it should be a perfect fit! Now glue, remembering to begin pressing in the middle, fanning out to the edges to avoid ripples.
5. Attach a small picture hanger to the back, the triangle or toothy type. Whichever is floating around your kitchen drawer. I prefer to glue with E600, rather than messing with the tiny nails that come with the hanger.
6. Gather the neighbors, hold it high and shout, "TA-DAAA!".

A little birdie told me, "You will sleep well at night.". This plaque will be mailed out to a swap partner as yet unnamed through Swap-Bot. I hope it is loved. Write with questions, suggestions, and favorite recipes to missamyo [at]

PS: While there are centuries old traditions of hiding fortunes in sweet cakes all over the world, the fortune cookie as we know it is an American invention.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Spend Less, Give More

A vintage book of people, places, and things from 1949- the year my mother was born. Thrift score at .50!
I absolutely love the long run between September and January. With all of my immediate family's birthdays (including my own) sprinkled amongst the Holidays, it is one non-stop party. But it can hit hard if I'm not prepared. Here are a smattering of lovelies to help you be ready next year. As always, click on the blue words to see what adventure they may take you to...
1. Save all of your change throughout the year. You can roll it yourself or use a Coinstar kiosk to get gift certificates for places like, Starbucks, and more. Roll your own if just want the cash- Coinstar charges up to 9% to roll for you, unless you choose the gift certificate option.
2. Pay an extra $5-10 every month on each utility. When November/December rolls around, you should have enough built up extra payments to cover utility expenses in your budget and use the cash to go shopping!
3. Open a Santa Saver account at your bank with a twist. Have $5-20 transferred every month from your checking to savings. Since you’ll be spending less on gifts this year, use the winter cash to see the Nutcracker or buy the bike on the Angel Tree at the Salvation Army.
4. Make your own gifts. Have a gift makin’ party with a few crafty friends and make a batch of the same gift: ribbon bookmarks, photo calendars, decorated cigar boxes…You’ll have gifts on hand for birthdays, housewarmings, and the Holidays.
5. Pick up small gift certificates throughout the year. You are much less likely to spend them than rolls of 5-ers in the cookie jar. Renting a movie tonight? Get a $10 gift certificate to tuck away for a nephew. Meeting a friend for coffee? Pick up a gift certificate to give her for her birthday or Christmas.
6. Give magazine subscriptions (cheaply). Best Deal Magazines has hundreds of magazine subscriptions available for under $10, and tons for less than 5 bucks! I’ve ordered Vogue, Rolling Stone, Family Fun, Budget Living, and more for $4.97 for an entire year long subscription. Make a coupon or gift certificate to let the recipient know what’s coming their way along with the current months issue of their new magazine.
7. Does your great Aunt Ethel really need more stuff? Let her know how much she means and what she has shared with you. Did she send a book every birthday? Donate to her local library in her name. Maybe she was a nature lover. Donate in her name to support a local trail or, better yet, spend an afternoon with the fam helping maintain it. Give a ‘certificate’ stating your donation and a letter explaining the significance.
8. Not crafty but love handmade? You can find the perfect handmade gift for any budget at
9. Spend the afternoon at your local used bookstore. You’ll find beautiful books, some you would never guess are ‘used’. Give your baking friend a vintage cookbook or your handy hubby a project book to inspire him. Classic children’s books are a winner no matter what age the recipient is.
10. Make your own photo calendar for about $5, not $19.99. Download free calendar templates here. Have prints made of your favorite photos and mount. Save some months to decorate by hand with drawings, a favorite poem or recipe. You can add special dates throughout the calendar. Staples or Kinkos will bind for around $2 per calendar.
Send me your own lovely Holiday ideas to missamyo [at]

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Be Nice While Hardly Even Trying

Here are ten little ideas to spark your imagination. Click freely on all blue words to see where they may lead you...
1. Pick up an extra bag of doggie chow or kittie kibbles the next time your at the grocery store and drop it off at your local Humane Society or shelter.
2. Put change in a low or out of time parking meter *apparently, they give tickets in my town for doing just this so act at your own risk*
3. Pay for the drive-thru order behind you. You say its a mini-van full of Cub Scouts? Put $5 towards it- they can add ice cream cones.
4. Grossly over tip your waitress(ter) the next time you get good service. Trust me, they deserve it.
5. Leave a tiny present in your mailbox for your letter carrier: Chapstick, pocket size sunblock, or just a simple note that says ‘Thanks’.
6. Donate your old cell phone to someone who would greatly benefit. Call to Protect program provides matching air time to domestic violence agencies. Cell Phones for Soldiers provides phones for soldiers to be able to call home when they have the chance. Your local phone store and police department probably have a donation box already.
7. Drop a five-er in the tip jar at your regular coffee shop.
8. Introduce yourself to that new co-worker, quiet neighbor, mail carrier, office UPS guy you always see but haven’t met yet.
9. Send a hand written note or postcard to some-one, just because.
10. When asked to be a guest or join an event, in place of 'Can I bring anything?' Try, 'What can I bring?'. A friend stated it just that way to me years ago and I have never forgotten the difference it made. And, yes, I did borrow extra folding chairs from them for the event without batting an eye!
Send me your niceness in tip or photo form: missamyo (at)

Saturday, January 6, 2007

How To Organize Your Stuff in a Handy Dandy Way

The linen & toiletry storage side of the hall closet has been competing too aggressively lately with the craft side. I decided something needed to be done: all non-craft storage was non-essentail and therefore must go. Then I remembered my canvas shoe organizer I've had for about 3 years. My usual style would be to sew on or hand embroider to give it some oomph. But this project is all about makin' do the easy way. So, out comes the felt, kitschy pom pom trim, glue gun and my lovely Sharpie.
Ready? Go.
Gather your Supplies:
1. Shoe organizer in canvas or clear plastic *these are great as you can instantly see what's in them but add to the 'eye clutter'*
2. Gather chosen trim and decor of Rik-rack, ribbon, band patches, fabric bits cut into pirate flags, 99 red balloons, letter or fruit shapes, felt shapes, strips of fabric scraps- use what you have.
3. Glue gun or sewing machine
4. Sharpie for drawing or labeling pockets
1. Hold trim up to edge you want it placed on. Eyeball it and cut to length needed.
2. Glue in place, going just a couple of inches at a time and picking off obnoxious glue threads as you go. Or sew.
3. Cut out shapes from felt (I made my strawberries from felt with Sharpie drawn seeds) and glue on.
4. Tuck in items that need a home.

30 minutes tops, and you are far more organized than you were before!
Other Ideas:
This was made for storage and hangs well hidden in the closet. You could make it cuter and hang on the back of you bathroom or bedroom door and fill with daily use items.
Craft supplies would be very happy in a handy dandy hanging organizer!
Use strips of leftover fabric in place of trim, or sew them along the edges. You can make your own classy organizer using this pattern.
Disclaimer: Though I came up with this on my own in my world, I wasn't the first to think of this ever- see more ideas here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

You Go Girl: Networking Effectively

It is never easy walking into a room full of strangers. Walking up to them and introducing yourself can be even tougher. Yet effective networking is one of the best ways to build your business or gain momentum and support for a fundraiser or cause you believe in. Perhaps one or two of the following ideas will make your next networking event a little easier and maybe even fun!
The Bare Bones Basics:
Eye Contact
Solid Handshake
Slow and Clear Introduction
Have an elevator speech ready. Be able to clearly state who you are and what you offer (not do) in 60 seconds- or before they are walking away for more Swedish meatballs. Practice out loud in the car on the way over. Ignore other drivers staring at you.
Before you enter the room, or even the building, take a breath and still yourself from the rush to get there on time. Music therapist, Victoria Lowrie, once suggested exhaling with sound to find your tone. Particularly as women, our voices tend to get higher when we are nervous. Finding a solid tone to speak will help you remember to breathe, stay relaxed, and sound more confident.
Effective networking is not about being fake. It's you out there- just after a deep breath and a self proclaimed 'I can do this'. For more tips on networking, see the links (blue words) throughout this post and the following:
10 Powerful Tips on Networking
SBA Tips on Networking
SCORE Catch More Clients Through Networking
Business Networking International A powerful networking group I belong to at a local level. Feel free to email with any questions or to come check it out as my guest!