Monday, April 30, 2012

How To Fold A Paper Cup

Paper cups are pretty handy, I've found, even as an adult. You just never know when you're going to need to carry water and not have a glass nearby. :) I learned the technique as a kid for practical purposes at camp one summer. I think the original theory was that it could be made out of a large piece of bark, but I could be making that part up. ;) Nowadays, I've found that regular printer paper works really well for this.

A year or so ago I taught a few teenagers the trick, and it was like a light bulb just came on. I had to send one kid out to the water fountain to prove it worked, and when he came back, everyone else crowded around to inspect. Did it really work? Was it leaking? And then he drank the water out of it! How cool! How handy! What other uses are there?

Scroll to the bottom to see a picture of my adorable dog and another use for paper cups. :)

Most paper is not square, so start by folding the paper into a square.

See the extra paper? Cut it off. Or leave it, if you want. Sometimes I just fold and tuck it in.

Now it's gone! If I don't have scissors, I just fold the extra bit a few times and tear it off.

Now take one corner to touch the opposite side.

Turn the paper over and repeat.

Fold the top triangle down. I like to tuck it into the handy slot, but you don't have to.

 Do the same to the opposite side.

And now you have your very own paper cup!

Try some water! My sample paper was a lighter scrapbook paper, and it didn't hold up as well as computer paper does, perhaps because there's more surface area?

For the record, I never dress up my dog, but after I made the paper cup for the pictures, I couldn't resist trying a larger one. And isn't he cute? I made an extra big paper cup and then bribed him with a milk bone to hold still long enough to take the picture. See that intent stare? There's a dog cookie at the other end of that stare.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Charms :)

I finally had time yesterday to create a variation on my popular alphabet wine charms: number wine charms! I also updated the colors that are available for the rings. You can order the set in 0-9, 1-10, or you can custom create any numbers you want. I really like the way the double number above (10) came out. I can do that with letters, too, if someone wanted a first and last initial.

Mostly, it just feels good to get this project done. I've had the charms for months, but just never had the chance to put them together. Part of that was that I had a lot of new bead colors, so I didn't want to just put the numbers on some of the older colors that are being discontinued, and I didn't have time to make a lot of new rings when I was still selling the older colors.

Have you ever had a project that seemed to take forever because one part couldn't be completed until something else was done, which was waiting on some third thing?

I used Picasa to add the words under each color. Love Picasa! I also edit in iPhoto. What program do you like to edit photos in?

Friday, April 27, 2012

BESTeam: Lovely Orange

Danielle is another great stylist on Etsy - you may remember that I've featured some of her pillows and hair bows before through her shop Chicky D's. Today my theme feels like Creamsicle, as the days warm and I'm looking for a summer treat, which these accessories certainly are! These hair bows would be adorable in any little girl's hair or any grown up girl who feels like showing her quirky side.

A similar solid bow, with just an accent of white

A flower clip that would look great at the base of a ponytail

Of course, if orange isn't your color (you know who you are!), Danielle has all of these clips in many other colors. ;)

Are you enjoying reading my features? Would you like to write some of your own, and be included in similar stories? Consider joining the BESTeam on Etsy!

Monday, April 23, 2012


A few weeks ago, I wrote a little bit about Haiku. Today I'd like to talk about an even older form of Japanese poetry, one that I think I might like even better than the haiku. :) Tanka are five line poems with a syllable pattern of 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. The examples below are off on the syllables because of the translation.

Tanka often have themes similar to haiku, such as nature, and it's interesting to note that there was an official government Office of Poetry which conducted tanka competitions, but I think what makes tanka so special is the way they were used in private. Tanka were revered as THE style of love poem. Young men spent a great deal of time constructing just the right words, and then had to decide just the right form of presentation. He may have tinted bamboo paper a pretty color or scattered the paper with tiny flecks of gold and silver foil before rolling it up with a pretty flower or twig.

It almost goes without saying that the words would have then been written in his most careful calligraphy. If the young lady in question responded to his poem with an encouraging tanka of her own, the relationship would proceed. An exchange of new, personal, and unique poems would be expected to be exchanged throughout the courtship.

Below are a few examples of tanka written by Ono Komachi, still a well-known poet today, although she was born in 834 AD (death date unknown). Read each poem several times to get the full meaning. While they may have been written at completely different times about the author's own experience, I read it as one fictional girl's experience with a young man (I find it interesting that she has initiated the poem exchange). Tanka, as with haiku, could be used as a way to write an entire book.

Notice how the first two or three lines often set up the poem with some kind of image while the last two lines describe some kind of reflection/metaphor on that image (the third line acts as a kind of bridge or turning point to connect the top two and bottom two).

Sent anonymously to a man who had passed in front of the screens of my room
Should the world of love
end in darkness,
without our glimpsing
that cloud-gap
where the moon's light fills the sky?

Sent to a man who seemed to have changed his mind
Since my heart placed me
on board your drifting ship,
not one day has passed
that I haven't been drenched
in cold waves.

Sent in a letter attached to a rice stalk with an empty seed husk 
How sad that I hope 
to see you even now,
after my life has emptied itself
like this stalk of grain
into the autumn wind.

What do you think?

Friday, April 20, 2012

BESTeam: Nifty Necklaces!

Brown & Beige Wooden Necklace
Today's feature is for Dee Dee Dzyn on Etsy! Delia lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and while she makes a variety of jewelry, her necklaces drew my eye at once. They are fun and funky and chunky and perfect for showing off. This brown & beige wooden necklace looks like it would go with anything!

Black Onyx & Silver Necklace
For something a little more sophisticated, check out this Black Onyx and Silver Beaded necklace. It would look great at a party, but it would also dress up your everyday outfit of jeans for something kind of fancy.

Arabian Night Beaded Necklace
If you need a little more color in your life, look at this Arabian Night beaded necklace! The red is stunning. It makes me think of sand and the desert and fireworks. What do you think?

Delia also has a blog you should check out!

Are you enjoying reading my features? Would you like to write some of your own, and be included in similar stories? Consider joining the BESTeam on Etsy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flower Photography

I took a few photography classes in high school, and I think the lesson that has been the most influential on me has been "GET CLOSER!" lol. I thought today I would skip most of the commentary and just share some of the photos I've taken over the last few years, which I've been unearthing as I've been sorting the photos on my computer. The following are a few of my favorite flower examples.

African Daisy

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"I'm in a Hurry"

Whenever I'm just running around with my head cut off, I try to think of the song "I'm in a Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" by the group Alabama. The song is all about just realizing that "things" can wait and the most important part of living is actually living. I remember one time I was going to work, and I wasn't late, but I felt rushed and I was thinking of all the things I had to do and then this song came on the radio. 

I just took a deep breath and let it out slowly. I told myself I had time to get everything done and that I should just enjoy the drive, which was through a nice little valley with fields and a creek and a sky wide open. What song do you listen to when you just need to remember what's important?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

BESTeam: Something Smells Good!

Mango Papaya Spa Soap
Lilly is from Cincinnati, OH, and she is also the owner of Ancient Oils on Etsy. Lilly is a whiz at creating therapeutic grade essential oil blends into perfumes, soaps, body scrubs, and more. She is trained in using aromatherapy to it's maximum benefit.

Strawberry Chocolate Massage Melt
Sore Joints & Muscles Oil - 4 oz
I was particularly intrigued by the massage melts (middle left). To begin with, Strawberry Chocolate sounds like an awesome flavor! While I'm familiar with traditional massage oil, I've never seen some like this where the bar melts as it comes in contact with skin.

I also love these cute little Mango Papaya soap flavors (upper left)! I really love the scent of these flavors, especially together, but I'm not fond of the actual fruits (even mixed with ice cream in a smoothy). What a perfect way get the best of both worlds!

Finally, who would love some special oil to be rubbed into those aching joints? Lilly has a blend for you. Her Blissful Motion oil is ready whenever you are.

Don't think Lilly is only on Etsy! She also has her own blog, which you can view for more information on her, her shop, and other aromatherapy thoughts.

Are you enjoying reading my features? Would you like to write some of your own, and be included in similar stories? Consider joining the BESTeam on Etsy!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Everyone knows that a traditional Japanese haiku is based on the number of syllables over three lines (5, 7, 5), but did you also know that haiku almost always have some reference to nature? What I love about this is that it isn't just talking about nature for the sake of saying something is pretty, but to make some kind of observation. Because they are so short, they have to pack a punch. The shortness also means it's nice and easy to reread multiple times to really see beyond the words.

Here is an example by the famous Basho Matsuo (1644-1694):

Bush clover in blossom waves
Without spilling
A drop of dew.

However, that doesn't mean haiku have to be stuffy. Check out this one by Issa, who lived from 1763-1827:

Don't worry, spiders,
I keep house

The syllables don't work out exactly because of the translation, but I find it comforting and a little bit hilarious that people across the world over 200 years ago had the same problem I have!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Auto Post = Genius!

I've been doing some blogging research about how many times a week to post (general consensus is anywhere between 1-3 times a week for the average blogger, depending on content) and times of day to post which reach the most people and get the most comments. This article by Megan O'Neill is from last year, but it gives great information, showing that more people read and comment in the morning, and that certain days of the week typically have higher views, etc.

Well, that's great, except I don't usually have time to write in the morning except on Saturdays! In fact, I typically write in the evenings and post when people are probably going to bed. I was thinking about this when I noticed a new thing in Blogger as I was typing up my last blog post. Under Post Settings, there's a Schedule! I can use that to write a post on Saturday and have it auto publish on Monday! Wow! Here's a link to some directions, if you'd like.

I'm going to try to write several posts over the weekend when I have more time and then auto post two or three new posts next week. In fact, I'll auto post this!

Have you tried this before? If you blog, how many posts do you typically write a week/month? Do you find certain days of the week work better for you?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"I'm a Believer"

I've been trying lately to built up the music collection on my computer with songs that have a great beat and make me just want to get up and get to work. One of my absolute favorite songs is "I'm a Believer" by Smash Mouth. It always puts me in a great mood, and I think the message of someone thinking he wouldn't find love and then finding the perfect girl is really great. It just goes to show that hope should reign eternal. The Monkees version of the song is also really popular.
You can find the song on iTunes (and lots of other places, I'm sure, but I like iTunes). It always makes me think of the movie Shrek because the song is featured in it, and I can't even tell you how many times I've seen that movie. If you haven't seen the first Shrek, you definitely should! It is cute and funny and sweet and it has enough adult humor to keep me entertained. :)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flowers in My Hair

I recently got out the glue gun and tried my hand at making hair accessories out of silk flowers. I bought four different styles of flowers and experimented with the best way to glue. I couldn't believe when my first attempt fell off clip after about three wearings! I was also annoyed by how the flower covered the back of one of the clips, making it hard to open. I think this malfunction is what caused the glue to loosen. Back to the drawing board...

I came up with several different designs, some using ribbon as an added hold and some without, using three different bases: bobby pins and two types of alligator clips. My additional attempts have paid off so far - I've worn two of my creations multiple times with success!

I also really like the bobby pins for the smaller flowers I bought, which had looked funny on the larger alligator clips. I also like the bobby pins because they're less obvious and can be tucked in anywhere without disrupting your hair style. And of course, of the two alligator clips, the most comfortable is the more expensive one!

My favorite flower, though, is the one shown here. The color is actually more true to the color of the flower in my hand and upside down as opposed to the one down below shown in my hair. I had to use the flash for that picture, which washed the color out a bit, but doesn't my hair look nice and shiny? :)

On Tuesday I shipped of several versions to my niece, whom my sister has agreed to let test them! She has beautiful thick hair, so if the barrettes can stand up to her hair and high activity level, I know I have a winner! I think I'll encourage her to use them as true accessories, e.g. at the base of a ponytail, instead of to actually hold back all of her hair.

 These may make it into my shop, or I may just make them for family and friends because it's fun and because I always need more  clips for my hair! Have any of you ever made hair accessories? If so, to what success?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Folding

Folded Palm Crosses
In honor of Palm Sunday, I thought I'd share a few links I found on how to fold palms into crosses and other designs!

Here's one on Squidoo with a video and lots of links.

Here's a Wiki-How with pictures.

Here's an Origami site with links to diagrams.

Folded Palm Cross
I know I'm a very visual learner, so if I can see something done, I can often recreate it. These three sites give you three different ways to see how folding palms can be done, so hopefully however you learn, there's something helpful for you here!

The pictures here are two that I folded this morning. As you can tell from the top picture, the first one wasn't that great, but each subsequent one was better than the last.
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