Punch List

I'm borrowing this post format from my friend Heidi over at RowHouse14 (which you should definitely check out and read!) because I think it's a fun way to cover a lot of things fast.

1. What does 156 bookmarks look like?  This:

So the order got a little bit bigger due to a few more people RSVP-ing than originally thought.  For those of you not already doing the math in your head, that is 468 individual layers of paper, 156 holes punched, 156 cello bags, and 312 ribbons looped or tied.  My hands hurt.

2. New items in the shop!  While waiting on some extra supplies for the above, I got some new items made and listed.  I love these summery paper colors.  They remind me of salt water taffy.

Plus, I have several other ideas that I want to start working on very, very soon.  So stay tuned for that.

Ok, did I say this list covers a lot of things at once?  It should.  Heidi's are usually at least 10 long.  But I've been consumed with paper lately, so you'll just have to forgive me this one time, and the next time I'll make it longer.  Promise!

Happy Friday!

Fabric Dreams

I sometimes wish I could sew really well.  I would love to be a quilter.  I'm not bad per se, I have just never taken the time to really try and be careful and actually learn what all those knobs on the sewing machine do.  Way back in March, I posted this, which had some photos of some great fabrics I had found.  And I did nothing with them.  Well, not nothing.  Casey got a really pretty collar out of it.  I did make a mug rug (basically a small fabric hot mat for your coffee mug).  It's cute and it works, and it's in my work room:

But it's not exactly straight.  Those fabrics were actually supposed to become an apron, but it didn't exactly get there, as you can see.  So I decided to sit down the other night and work on making straight lines.  Yes, seriously, straight lines.  I thought that would be a good place to start. I had a package of quilting squares hanging around, so I laid them out in a pattern and decided to make a table runner.  Here's what I've gotten so far:

It is quilted, the lines are straight, and it looks pretty good.  I still need to bind the edges, but haven't had the time yet.  Ideally, I'd love to sell it, but I'm not sure it's good enough for even that.  In my dreams I'd have an Etsy fabric shop as well as a paper shop, but I think I'm going to need to spend some more time with my machine first.  Look, I'm preparing:

Just $9 from the remnant bin at Walmart.  How can you go wrong?

Summer Lemonade

We really like lemonade in our house, especially in the summer.  Generally, I'll go and buy Simply Lemonade (or their raspberry lemonade, which is fabulous) but the other day I had some lemons hanging around and decided I'd make some from scratch.  Homemade lemonade really is the best, but it's not always easy to make sure it's not too tart.  I actually developed this "recipe" by watching the workers at one of those pretzel places at the mall, when they used to make lemonade from scratch.  It's got lots of sugar, but if you think about it, it's really no worse than Kool-aid, and who doesn't love Kool-aid?

Homemade Lemonade

2 lemons
1 cup sugar
2 quarts water

Start by using the old Food Network trick of pushing down and rolling the lemons on the counter to "release" the juice.  Whether this actually works or not, I don't know but I figure it can't hurt.

Love that juicer- it catches all the seeds!
Halve the lemons and juice them, trying to catch the seeds from falling in.  Pour into a 2-quart container.  Add 1 cup of sugar.

Fill up your container about 3/4 of the way with water, turn upside down and shake, and shake, and shake for at least a minute to help dissolve the sugar.  Turn right side up and then shake some more.  Fill the rest of the way with warer, or use ice so you can drink it sooner.

Love my old time Tupperware?  Thanks, Mom!
Easy as that!  It's a sweet and refreshing drink for any hot day.

A Very Long Weekend

Did anyone else have a lousy weekend?  Jeez, I thought it would never end.  Gus was in a bad mood almost all Saturday for some unknown reason.  Our central air conditioner decided that a 98 degree day was a good time to malfunction, giving us an unexpected and costly Saturday service call, and basically a wasted day for my husband who wanted to work in the bathroom but had to deal with the A/C.  Luckily, we found a very nice gentleman to come and do the work, and he had us going again by 4 pm.  Then my husband called his parents to chat and we found out that the much-loved Boston terrier they've had for 12? 13? 14? years had died on Friday.  Cue the tears (from me).  See yesterday's post for some photos of the lovely lady.  And that was just Saturday.  I think the ick from Saturday just sort of carried over to Sunday morning, which left me with a lousy feeling, but we seemed to snap out of it as Sunday went along and we got some work done around here.  My project: remove wallpaper from the hallway by the bedroom and bathroom that are currently demolished. 

Charming, isn't it?  The door on the left is being romoved to close in the wall, so the wallpaper needed to go in order to make the seam smooth.  So, I went to town.  I actually don't mind removing wallpaper now.  I find it's a pretty good mindless task, and it didn't come down too badly either.  Gus was a big help, too:

Sweet Girl

Yesterday we found out we lost this adorable pup- my MIL's beloved Boston terrier, Trixie, and one of the sweetest girls you could ever meet. 

Favorite activities included chasing a frisbee (she could do a backflip while catching it), sitting at the table with the other humans, and belly scratches.

She will be missed.

What I Just Read

Yes, another chick-lit-turned-movie book, but I couldn't resist.  I watched the trailer for this one online some time aways back and decided that I would indeed watch this once we got back into tv and movies, and as I've said before, I like to read the book first.  So, I went on a hunt for it at the library where it turned out to be checked out and I had to put it on hold (seriously?).  After many weeks I finally went to pick it up and read through it really quickly because it was a fun story that you just wanted to find out what happens.  This is a good one: a happy ending for all involved (I think), though it will keep you guessing a little bit as you read, and you really do root for Rachel, the main character despite the choice she makes.  Bonus: this movie is set in New York City, and so is the book, unlike the last one I read which turned out to take place in London and had me screwed up for a few pages.  And, as I was writing this, I just discovered that there is a second novel, Something Blue, that I am totally going to have to pick up.  Definitely a good summer read!

The Big Project: Table Favors

Remember on Monday I told you I was working on a big Etsy order?  Well, here it is.  Many, many months ago, I put a listing in my shop offering bookmarks as table favors for weddings, showers, parties, etc. figuring it was kind of a different idea: everyone at the event could get their own personalized bookmark that would hopefully be used and reused and enjoyed by all, unlike some of the things you get as favors.  And nothing really happened.

But as luck would have it, a few weeks ago I was contacted by a bride looking to order bookmarks for her wedding!  And she picked out one of my favorite combinations: navy blue, yellow floral print, and powder blue with a navy blue ribbon, based off of this listing photo:

We talked a little and tweaked a few of the details on the bookmark, and I wound up making 100 of them!  That is by far my largest order to date, and I am really pleased with the result:

I just wish I could get to see the tables where they are going to go!

Of course, with any new, big project there is knowledge to gain.  Here are some things I learned as a result of this experience:

1. It takes a lot longer to loop and tie 100 ribbons than I thought it would.  And it hurt my fingers more, too.  I'm going to have to factor that in the next time.

2. Something is inevitably going to go wrong.  In this case, my hole punch broke halfway through the stack.  Meaning, the part that punches actually broke off the thing so I couldn't try and salvage it if I wanted to, which I did.  Oh, and I needed more ribbon too.

3. I still really like this color combination even after looking at it for a long time.

4. These bookmarks came out way better than even I thought they would, and I thought they'd be great to start with.

5. It is very humbling to know that something I made will be featured on the tables at someone's wedding.  I know that's the goal here with offering table favors, but until I was actually making them, I didn't really think about that part.  A wedding is a really big deal, and I am just so pleased that someone liked what I make enough to give one to everyone there.

6. I would really love to do this again!

Over the weekend I decided that since I was making tabs for different pages here on the blog, I would make a page for wedding and party table favors.  This gives me a chance to post more photos of what I offer and more information than what I can list on Etsy.  I would love for this type of order to be a regular occurrence, and hopefully that will help show it off.  I know that I personally would love to get this type of favor.

Managing My Time

Over the past week or so I have read several blog articles about managing time or sharing their work schedule.  And lately, I have been thinking that I need a better schedule, one that will make me more productive throughout the day.  I mean, my day is pretty scheduled once Gus (my cousin told me to stop calling him "the toddler" so he will now be using the alias of Gus, which was actually a name consideration for him for a short time) wakes up, which is coincidentally when I tend to wake up.  Now before you cry foul and tell me that I should be getting up way early to get things done, I have to tell you that I am not a morning person.  Not by a long shot. 

Since Gus was born and we got him into a good sleep routine, I have been faking the morning-person thing.  I go to bed relatively early, but no matter what time I go to sleep (and I'm not laying there awake- I'm sleeping like a rock) I have a very hard time getting up in the morning and I always have.  I am just one of those people who works much, much, much better at night.  Even now, after Gus goes to sleep I run around doing things that I should have gotten done during the day in the short amount of time before our early bedtime (hubs needs to get up early).  I swear I can get more done in an hour or two then than I do all day.

But whiling the day away and then sqeezing in a few hours is not exactly working.

First I think I need to move my computer out of the main hub of that house: the kitchen.  I have been thinking about putting it upstairs in my little work room so that I cannot check it whenever I want to, as I spend most of my time in the kitchen/dining/living room area.  I also have been toying with the possibility of actually setting my alarm a la my teacher days and trying to get up before Gus in order to get some things done.  Ahhh!  I'm just starting to feel like this is something that's going to need to happen and will probably make me feel better about my productivity.

I also want to try and write some advanced blog posts so I'm not doing those last minute.  I love it when I have a few ideas already started and I can just finish them off and post them up.  I just worry about creative time because that definitely comes more at night, but I guess if I get other things done during the day then I can use that time after Gus goes to bed to try and make some new things.

So I'm open to suggestions, other time management links, and tales of your own daily schedule.  Are there any night-owl converts out there?  Do you work better in the day or night?

Me, Busy?

Happy Monday everyone!  Who else had a busy weekend? 

I have been working on a big Etsy order, which I can't wait to show you, but it's not quite done yet.  The bathroom is almost completely demolished and we've started to order new stuff (yikes, yikes, yikes, the cost of bathroom stuff).  The dog somehow managed to get herself so dirty that she needed a bath, even though we've been trying to get her a haircut so we wouldn't have to bathe her while her hair was long.  We were invited to dinner at our neighbor's house.  I had a very large wedding invitation assembly order to put together for my dear friend the designer.  I did some re-formatting of the blog again, so now there are page tabs at the top, which was actually a lot of fun for me and helped me clear up some of the stuff on the side that I wanted to move.  And I downloaded some new fonts and got some new paper, but haven't had enough time to actually do anything with either of them yet!  Lots to do, and now we're off to the library and swimming lessons this morning.

Hope everyone has a great day!

A sneak preview

Too Many Choices

We had a really busy weekend.  As you know, we decided that our next house project(s) would be the master bed and bath, which were that really fabulous shade of blue.  Hubs and I did what we could and in a few days time, those two rooms look like this:

That musty, crusty wallpaper actually pulled down in whole sheets, which was an amazing and wonderful experience, as I have sat with my scraper for hours in a few of these rooms.  The carpet, which was gross and spotted, has met its demise, and the same goes for all the brass in the bathroom.  All that remains now is the tile floor and a portion of a wall that needs to come down.

And now it's on to the choices.  We need to pick tile, carpet, fixtures, cabinets, etc. etc. etc.  And the worst is the paint.  We know we want to use something in the medium gray-blue range, trying not to get too gray or too purple.  There are a few choices:

Crazy, isn't it?  That's just The Home Depot and Lowe's.  Imagine if we ventured into smaller paint stores...

Brain Dump

With the house renovations, and the toddler, and the Etsy shop, and just general life errands, I find that I am constantly trying to remember things and if I don't write them down (and quickly) then they are good as lost in my brain and I remember them again when it's too late.  Meaning, I'll go to the grocery store and if I don't have a list I'll forget to buy several things I need, and then I have to go back to the store later or the next day, which drives me crazy.

To this end, I have been keeping a notebook next to the bed at night so I can write down all of the things that are running through my mind that I think of that I need to do for the next day or so.  You read about people doing this or suggesting it when they are talking about organization or sleep, but I just don't want to forget stuff that needs to be done, causing myself to waste more time and energy.  And it's working pretty well: I had some people over to visit yesterday afternoon and I made a list of all the things I needed to get done between the library program and the swim lesson and lunch before they got here, and because I had written it all down the night before, I made a quick plan and got 9 of the 10 things done.  Not bad!

Some of last night's musings
 Do you keep a brain-dump notebook?


I don't know how it happened, but I got a hankering for fudge about a week ago, and since I wasn't going to go out and buy any (because who does that when they are not on a seaside vacation?) I decided I had to make it.  I thought this would be a somewhat daunting task, since it requires a candy thermometer and watching the temperatures carefully, etc., but it really wasn't so bad.  I did a penuche (light brown, almost vanilla-like) fudge because I wasn't really in the mood for chocolate.  If you've never had it, it is sort of a thicker, creamier version of maple sugar candy, which just happens to be one of my favorite treats.  I'll give you the good old Better Homes and Gardens recipe, and then tell you what I did because I didn't exactly follow their directions, and you'll see why.


1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
2 T butter
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Line an 8x4x2-inch loaf pan with foil, extending the foil over the edges of the pan.  Butter the foil; set pan aside.

2. Butter the sides of a 2-quart heavy saucepan.  In saucepan combine sugars and half-and-half.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils.  Clip a candy thermometer to side of pan.  Reduce heat to medium-low; continue boiling at a moderate, steady rate, stirring frequently, until thermometer registers 236 degrees, soft-ball stage (about 15 minutes)*.

*What is soft-ball stage?  This means that when you drip some of the hot sugar mix into a bowl of very, very cold water, and then take it out, the candy will flatten out and run over your finger.  Basically, it is starting to solidify.

3. Remove saucepan from heat.  Add butter and vanilla, but do not stir.  Cool, without stirring, to 110 degrees (about 40 minutes).

4. Remove thermometer from saucepan.  Beat mixture vigorously with a clean wooden spoon until it just begins to thicken.  Add the chopped nuts, if desired.  Continue beating until penuche becomes thick and just starts to lose its gloss (about 10 minutes total).

5. Immediately spread penuche evenly in the prepared pan.  Score into squares while warm.  When penuche is firm, use foil to lift it out of the pan.  Cut penuche into squares.  Store tightly covered for up to 1 week.

Ok, I did pretty good up to step 4, where I lost it.  First of all, by the time you cool to 110 degrees, it is already pretty thick- like molasses- and therefore there is no "beating".  There is sloggishly stirring (in intervals) as hard as you can while your wrist and arm totally cramp up until you decide that the "gloss" is indeed gone (about 2 minutes total).  In actuality, by that point, when I went to "spread" it in the pan, it was already pretty well set and there wasn't much spreading to be had.  It was more like piling and hoping for the best.  I also threw it into the fridge for a few minutes so it would cool and set so I could eat it immediately.  I made a half a batch and it came out great.  I even used fat free half-and-half because that's what I had on hand, and it was fine.  It's really nice and creamy, a little crumbly, and not too soft.  I highly recommend it!

The cooling stage

I may have forgotten to butter the saucepan...oops!  Soaked in hot water and soap; no problem with cleanup.

"Spread" in the pan

The final product!

Want to Share?

With this new blog style, I was thinking that it was finally time to share and share alike, so I created two grab buttons for anyone who'd like to share this blog on theirs, or want to share my shop.  Feel free to grab my buttons up there at the link at the top (or here)!

life by the book

by the book paper

I've also been interested in adding other buttons to my blog to help advertise other blogs or shops.  While I would love to have sponsors, I'm not sure I'm quite ready for that yet, so I think I'd like to start with some button-swapping.  If you think you'd be a good match for my blog, and you'd be interested in having your button featured on this blog and would be willing to feature my button then please Etsy convo me or e-mail me at bythebookpaper@gmail.com

Buttons created at http://www.mycoolrealm.com/sandbox/gbgen/.  A great easy-to-use site!

Have a happy weekend!

A Good Way to Trade?

Before I get to today's intended post, I have to share this with you:

That, dear friends, is a leftover bit of wallpaper that my husband found behind the vanity in the aforementioned bathroom while tearing things out last night (supposedly there prior to the solid dark blue).  It is yellow and orange with a silver metallic backing.  Yeah.

So anyway, after that bit of loveliness, I have a question to pose to you: Is there a good way to approach someone about doing a trade on Etsy if you don't already "know" them or they aren't already purchasing one of your items?  I have done two successful trades: one offset a purchase being made and the other was the return of an offer to try something out.  But is there a good way to approach someone if you just like their item and may want to buy it, but maybe they'd like to trade for it instead?  I have been thinking about this for some time and haven't really come up with a good solution because while I'm sure there are people who would be totally receptive and/or not offended by the offer, I'm also sure that there are people who would see that to be quite tacky.  Thoughts?

Happy Friday!

The Next Project

Our downstairs "master" bathroom is a masterpiece of wallpaper and brass, with a myriad of doors to navigate:

The door closes to make a powder room

Oh yes, that is solid blue wallpaper

The reason I call it a "master" bathroom is because it is the only one on the first floor, which makes it the everyone bathroom.  There is an entrance from the hall and one from the bedroom, with the door in the middle that you can see in the first photo to keep the shower closed off.  It's an interesting concept that I had never seen before.  We decided that in taking the laundry room out of the entrance hall that we would put in a half bath, therefore allowing us to close off the door in the hallway, making this an actual master suite with private bath.

So, this lovely space and the adjoining bedroom (sneak peak of that lovely wallpaper there in the last photo) will be our next house project over the coming months, where we plan to rip everything out and put it all back together.  Our upstairs bathroom took several months, but we were also tearing down half the yard and we had also never done a bathroom before.  Hopefully this will go somewhat more smoothly.

Monograms, Argyle, and Bunting

One of my most favorite cousins got married about a month ago, and I told him that I would make them up some thank you cards that they could use after the wedding.  I had a design in mind that would go similarly with the save the date card they sent out: brown and teal argyle pattern.  My original design was just to be printed out flat on the note card, but my husband didn't really like it and thought it might be boring and suggested doing paper layers instead of a printed color border.  Now why didn't I think of that?

So the end result is a mix of both.  I layered chocolate stock under the printed card, which orginally was going to have a teal paper layer with the text on top of that, but then it ended up looking too busy.  I'm happy with the end result, and love the fact that I can do these in any color combination that someone comes up with, and the monogram can actually be any text requested.  More here.

I also spent some more time working with bunting, which was a mild obsession there for a minute.  I used a color palatte from another bookmark I created and turned it into a save the date card, which I think is quite adorable.

Hand-cut and sewed by me!  I tried it with and without a backing layer.  I listed it without but have been waffling on whether to list it with instead.  I'm not sure which I like better.  If you have a preference, let me know!  You can check out more of these cards here.

How I Spent My Holiday Weekend

This is our living room:

What happened, you say?  No, we aren't moving, although the furniture did.  We spent our rainy Sunday moving the living room furniture to the basement rec room that is finally finished.

We have also, since I last showed pictures of it, gotten the closet doors painted, plus some shelves and a towel bar hung up.  It makes it look a lot more home-y down there.  Now we just need some pictures on the walls and we will be all set.

Yes, that is our television, which despite our no-tv policy lately has indeed been plugged in and hooked up to the DVD player and the VCR (yes, we still have one), as well as the xBox (dunh, duhn, duhhhhhhhhn).  We figure we can hit up the library for movies and have a movie date night now and again, when we're not busy (insert sitcom laugh track here).

As for the destiny of the living room: our plan is to work on our master bed and bath next (pictures to follow soon), which means I have also spent this weekend consolidating two bathrooms into one, which went surprisingly well and helped me cross all three things off of my "big chore" list, and moving our clothes and things to another bedroom (though that was big chore #1, which I had already done and had to do again).  Phew!  The living room will get the treatment hopefully some time over the winter, when I will pull down all of the dark, olive green grass cloth from 1978 and the broken window blinds will be taken down as well.  We're hoping to lighten it and brighten it.

Are you working on any home projects right now?  How did you spend your weekend?