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Jul 29, 2014

3D Origami Hearts Garland

I made these lovely origami hearts from a video tutorial that doesn't seem to play anymore. I couldn't find any other instructions online for this super great design, so, while I can still remember how to make it, I thought I would put together my very own step-by-step photo tutorial. It's the perfect decor for so many occasions!

Jul 25, 2014

Kusudama a.k.a. Origami Balloons

I have commented on here before about my somewhat origami-themed wedding, and how we created and handmade a lot of the decoration. Looking back, these are one of my favorite memories from that time, when our family and friends would gather for many evenings of folding papers, sitting together, and talking for hours (and I can't thank them enough for all their love and dedication!). Everything we made looked beautiful, but the biggest hits were these big and colorful origami balloons, which are called Kusudama.

Jul 17, 2014

Folded Passport Case

Traveling is one of my favorite things, and it defines much of my life. My passport, thus, has been an inseparable companion, and now it is dressed-up to fly! For this project, I used a handmade cork stamp (see Bon Vivant Cork Stamps for tutorial) and acrylic paint on a white cotton fabric. Once the paint was completely dry, I stiffened the fabric and left it to dry again. Finally, I folded the fabric using the Fabric Origami Card Holder pattern. The tricky part was to modify the dimensions of the origami pattern to fit the passport. Mine fit nicely with a 21 1/2" X 11 1/2" piece. Also, make sure you stiffen it well to provide it with structure, otherwise add card stock pieces to the inside of the pattern. 

Jul 15, 2014

Cookie Bowls and Ice Cream

I will have Mondays everyday if ends with cookies and ice cream! Even better if I can give this beloved dessert a gourmet look. 

I love perusing in kitchen stores for novelties, and last week at Sur La Table, I saw this cookie bowl pan. My first thought was: cool! My second thought was: I can make this with the muffin pan I already have at home! Because I love seeing all the novelty tools, but I prefer to have just the multi-functional basics. More often than not, there is a way to adapt, be creative with what we already have. 

Jul 11, 2014

DYI Surprise Card

I was looking through some old letters yesterday and I happened to find a birthday card that I made for my husband many years ago, when we were still just friends. Alright, he was also already the love of my life, and has been since the day we met, but we weren't so open about it just yet. ; )

Jun 12, 2014

Saint Valentine or Saint Anthony?

Today is "Valentine's" Day in Brazil. Except that it's not related to Saint Valentine, like in most countries, but to Saint Anthony (Santo Antônio), who is considered to be the wedding Saint in that neck of the woods. 

Now, to me the most interesting traditions happen tomorrow, June 13th, which is the actual day of Santo Antônio. Tomorrow, many people in Brazil, religious or not, will take their little statues of the Saint and hang it upside down, or lock it in a dark closet, submerge it under water, or ever steal the baby Jesus from his arms. And Santo Antônio will remain hostage until he finds the kidnapper a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Wicked, I know! And also a little disturbing...but hey, if it helps! LOL.

Jun 5, 2014

Quilt: Stitching Together a Life for Two

My husband and I had three wedding ceremonies, one in Brazil and two in the United States, two symbolic and one official. The first two were so beautiful that by the time the third one came along, I thought it may not feel as special anymore. But we had Claire, a high school history teacher who had become ordained to perform the wedding of a former student first, and of her niece next. Ours would be her third. Claire listened to our stories, hopes and dreams, sifted through old pictures, and with mastery she created a beautifully unique ceremony. Using 'quilting' as a metaphor for stitching together our new life, she prompted us to do it with care, patience, and originality. This imaginary 'quilt' that we build is one of a kind, tells our story, and will keep us warm and united.  

Lately, I decided to give 'real' quilting a try. My first project was a pair of Christmas stockings, which I based on this video. They turned out pretty great and I love the idea of hanging them side by side, year after year.

My second project was a house warming / engagement gift for a very dear friend. The placemats were very fun to make, especially with all the colors and patterns. I first watched this video for the quilt-as-you-go technique, but adapted it a little to fit my design and the materials I had available (I didn't use any glue, just pins). Now I want to make some placemats for myself! Or maybe take on a completely different project... maybe a travel bag!

Apr 29, 2014

Thank You From the Heart

Nothing says 'thank you' like a handmade card. This design is a favorite of mine and I have been making it for years: just a simple origami heart on the center. A video instruction for the origami heart can be found here

Mar 4, 2014

Mardi Gras Masks: Venetian With a Hint of Fruit

In 2010, my husband and I decided we would be in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We were living in a small town in Texas at the time and used any excuse for a road trip. It was the only time we ever owned a car and every weekend we would drive somewhere, close or far - it always felt like vacation. 

So, we were going for Mardi Gras! But being us, there had to be something more to it. We weren't going for the beads... we wanted to be part of the traditional carnival! So, we decided we needed costumes. Hand-made. Original. And together we came to the idea that the we would be fruits. Venetian fruits.

Feb 28, 2014

Carnaval de Salvador

Where I come from, Carnival is the biggest party of the year, and according to the Guinness Book, also the biggest party of the world. It's common to hear people say that the year doesn't really start until after Carnival, because until then it's all that occupies our minds and hearts. I've always enjoyed the unique way my town celebrates Carnival: millions of people on the streets dancing and singing, following trucks playing music for days. It all started in 1950, when two friends called Dodô e Osmar modified a Ford 1929 to drive through the streets of Salvador and play live music. Although it has grown enormously and become less 'egalitarian' than it used to be, Carnival is still just about the need that we all have to let loose to the sound of music.


Feb 5, 2014

'You & I' High Contrast Pillowcase

Finding the perfect Valentine's Day gift can be a challenge. Ideally, we want something romantic, unique, creative, useful and long-lasting! Not an easy task! So, here is an idea that in my opinion fulfills all these requirements: a 'You & I' Pillowcase! If you have the time and are feeling inspired, you can paint a different picture on each side of the pillowcase for versatility. ; )

It's a pretty fun project. First, choose a few close-up pictures, and using your photo editing tool make the pictures black and white. Then, increase the contrast level until all the grey is gone and there are really only black and white on the picture. While doing this, you will notice that some of the details will disappear, so make sure you still like how the pictures looks! That's why I suggest choosing a few photos to experiment with. Once you have prepared and chosen your picture, it's time to print the high contrast image. You might want to split it into two sheets of paper for a larger image, and tape them together. Next, use carbon or wax paper to transfer the outlines of image to the pillowcase, remembering that every little details, every black dash and dot is important to keep the picture looking accurate. Now, all that is left to do is paint! Use any color of fabric paint to fill in the image (black areas only!), always referencing the high contrast image for accuracy. If you are painting a small area, with lots of details, I recommend using a fabric pen (just make sure it matches the color that you are using in the larger areas).

So, this year's gift is covered! Should we start thinking about next year's already?

Jan 29, 2014

Souvenirs from the Fall: Felted Acorns

Last fall I went hiking in the beautiful surroundings of Cold Springs, NY. It was one of these gorgeous Fall days, when the soil is covered in a bed of crispy colorful leaves and the sun is shinning warm through the trees. As souvenirs, I brought back a handful of acorn caps that I collected on the way... I was thinking craft project!

Jan 15, 2014

Slick and Concise Year in Review

I always get over-sentimental around New Year's. It's a mix of nostalgia for the wonderful times that have passed, anxiety to achieve the things I think I should already have, and a biological need to be at a warm beach in my hometown, jumping seven waves in one foot while making wishes (yes, that's one of our New Year's great traditions!). To me, New Year's in the cold just doesn't make sense!

Dec 28, 2013

Our First Christmas of Two

Christmas this year was nothing short of wonderful. For the first time, my husband and I decided to stay in New York instead of joining in the hectic traveling to spend time with family. That got me very excited to try some new craft projects and decorate our home. My favorite accomplishments were a funny looking Santa, made with felt and yarn, and our new quilted stockings. They were both very easy to make and I mostly eye-balled everything. 

Oct 30, 2013

Halloween Craft: Bat-Shaped Hair Accessory

Halloween has something for everyone and it's a great opportunity for some fun crafting. My level of commitment to Halloween varies every year, but I always need to acknowledge it, even if it's just with a little something. This year, I made a bat-shaped hair accessory, simply fashioned out of felt, cotton pads and thread. I wanted a piece that I could wear to work, without being too flashy, and this will be just perfect.

Oct 23, 2013

Beautiful Mess of Knots and Beads

We crafters have a big ego. We think that we can learn to make anything ourselves. We are averse to buying things that “are so easy to make”. The problem with this is that we always miscalculate the time and effort needed, and realize too late that it wasn’t easy after all. Sometimes we’ll get frustrated mid-project and say sinful things like “I wish I had just bought it ready!” But we don’t really mean it, because the true crafter loves challenges and is mostly interested in the process over the result.

Aug 29, 2013

A Dash of Fascination


Crafting is always fun. But crafting with an excuse is even better! This past weekend I had the perfect excuse to wear something we all secretly, or openly, adore: a fascinator. The opportunity came in the shape of a beautiful English Garden wedding in Toronto. With a mix of Mad Hatter fun and royal family flair, I was determined to be very literal and, well… fascinate. 

Aug 28, 2013

The Month We Built an Entire Cabinet

This is definitely the biggest project I have undertaken so far. It started with a simple premise: this year I wasn’t moving again. Since we’ve been married, we have led some sort of nomad life, hanging on to just the things we can carry in suitcases and never looking back. Thus, I was surprised when the time came to sign the lease renewal. We did sign it, and I was suddenly dazed by desperation that kept echoing in my head: we NEED to move! The constant change of environment was part of our lives and we enjoyed it. From one day to the next, my mind turned my cozy apartment into boring and ugly. So, the only solution was to move… the furniture around. In a couple of hours, everything belonged somewhere new, and received different purposes too. The apartment suddenly looked much smarter! We freed this whole corner, which is great when you live in a tiny apartment in NY, but it was now staring at me blank. Faced with this new puzzle, we decided to build. We designed and built the cabinets from scratch, which was a lot of work, but loads of fun.
It looks amazing and we are so proud! How great it is to create something with our own hands.

Apr 29, 2013

It's Your Lucky Day - Scratch Cards!

This week was the birthday of my always wonderful husband!!! We usually try to keep it simple and personal. Over the years we've learned that the right gift for each other is the planning of a special moment or adventure, rather than the purchase of a needed or wanted object.

Apr 15, 2013

Heart-Shaped Book-Marker

My father always says that a good book has to be thick enough to stand on its own. My father is a wise man, and before I became his best arguer, as a kid I was always eager to agree with him. However, I couldn't on this point. I had read plenty of wonderful books that perhaps had the inner strength to stand straight, but no physical robustness to match it. And I loved these books too much to agree with my dad.

Apr 1, 2013

Easter Weekend in NYC

In New York, Easter is for some a time to celebrate - while for many other folks it's a weekend worth celebrating just like any other. In a place where the term "diversity" is not simply a mix of differences, but rather an expression of identities, everyone is welcome to build their own traditions. As my extended family is far away in Brazil, my husband and I got to do Easter our own way. This year, we enjoyed some creative bunnies, interesting history, adventurous baking and an NYC quirky parade.

On Friday evening we folded origami bunnies to hold some treats and decorate the place. The video (see link) is very clear and it was a fun activity to start the weekend with good spirits and creativity!

Mar 25, 2013

A Kissing Hummingbird

"Don't be surprised if one day
A hummingbird invades
Through the door of your home
Gives you a kiss and leaves...
It was I who sent the kiss
To kill this desire
It's been too long since I saw you
And ah! how I miss you..." 

My project this week was a needle felted hummingbird, inspired by one of my favorite songs from back home. I should explain, too, that in Portuguese, a hummingbird is called "beija-flor" (flower-kisser). This was super fun to make! Choose a combination of bright colors and let your hands play until you get satisfactory results. See Needle Felted Gnome for more details on how to sculpt with felt.

Feb 25, 2013

First Attempt at Cake Decorating

For a while now I've been excited about trying out cake decorating, and this week I finally had the help I'd been waiting for. When I was 17, I went to study abroad in Germany and I was very lucky to stay with a family that immediately became my own. They visit me at least once a year and we always have lots of fun being as much of ourselves as we can be. It’s some kind of magic how well we fit together.

So, we planned a messy day of butter and sugar (it’s essentially what baking sweets really is).  For the cakes, we used my aunt’s simply delicious recipe. For the frosting, we decided to try buttercream (but there are other options, such as glace or marshmallow icing). We got some food coloring, chocolate bars, decorating bits, and zip-lock bags for improvisation.

Feb 16, 2013

Ceramic Painting for Family Fun

So, I missed the Wednesday deadline for my post this week. But I have the best excuse: my parents were visiting all the way from Brazil! They left a land with one-sun-for-every-person for a cozy snow storm in NY. As I tried to maximize my time with them, the only way to have a post this week was to incorporate a craft afternoon into the program, and it was the perfect idea!

Feb 6, 2013

How to Craft the Weather - Crochet Snowflakes

I was 17 when I first saw snow; and although I have seen it plenty now, every time feels like a moment to remember. I love how it makes the air smell fresh, how it makes the busiest city quiet, and how it delicately rests on my hair. Above all though, I love how it makes everything look like a big, sweet cake with powdered sugar on top! This winter I missed the few snow falls in New York. Thus, I decided to add snowflakes to my life by crocheting some, perhaps as a means of emulating an indigenous rain-dance ritual to help make it snow.

Jan 30, 2013

Bon Vivant Cork Stamps

This week I was focused on learning how to carve my own stamps. I’ve been very excited about this idea, perhaps because now I am old enough to play with knives, yay! I started with the wine corks. They have so much character and, of course, an irresistible bon vivant concept to them. Unfortunately, my favorite wine is not sealed with a cork, so I didn’t have any lying around at the house. Not to worry - I stopped by the BYOB place in my neighborhood to ask for some corks and left with a handful. I had two kinds of corks: natural cork and some kind of spongy fake cork. Both worked great for the stamps, though they cut differently. The natural cork will make a more “rustic” stamp, which I love.

Jan 25, 2013

Fabric Origami Wallet

I was so pleased with the result from my Fabric Origami Card Holder that I decided to try something a little bolder today. Most paper wallets you see cannot be considered origami, because they use scissors. The true origami art does not use scissors or glue, just creases. So, I found this really nice design online of a true origami wallet and I decided to try it with fabric! 

Jan 23, 2013

Fabric Origami Card Holder

I’ve always been fascinated by origami; this timeless technique of folding paper into something admirable, elegant and unique. So much so, that my wedding invitations and decorations were made of origami (more about that in a later post). And had I known then, that I could do the same on fabric, maybe my wedding dress would have been origami-styled as well. ; )

So, this week’s project was the suggestion of a dear friend who got me very excited to try origami on fabric! The project is a little, versatile card holder. You can use it to store your business cards, or as a wallet that will fit anywhere from coat and pant pockets to that tiny party purse you love.

Jan 16, 2013

Needle Felted Gnome

This week’s project was so much fun! How come I've never come across needle felting before? Sculpting wool into form is quite challenging, but oddly relaxing. You get to prick your stress away…! I started by trying to sculpt a strawberry, but quickly decided to switch over to a gnome instead. Gnomes are fascinating characters that have often been reinterpreted to suit the needs of different story-tellers, even as creatures fond of crafts! So, whether you want to decorate your plant pot, carry it around the world when you travel (“roaming gnome”), mischievously hide it around the house, or protect yourself from evil sorcery, this felted gnome will do it all! But be aware - gnome kidnappers may be around. ; )

Jan 14, 2013

Thank You Card - Dinner Stamp

This card was sent to Florida to thank my husband's aunt and uncle for their lovely Christmas gift: dinner in NYC! It would also be a nice design for a personal thank you note to hosts of a dinner party. As always, I advise to do the writing first. On this card, the lettering was done by ink pen. I love the results of ink pens, but it can be challenging to make it look nice on a first try. I have to wonder how hard it must have been in the past to write with feathers! The fork and spoon stamp I purchased at Michael's and I use it also for recipe cards, especially when I am giving it to someone. Everything else is just card stock paper and you can use the colors you think the recipient may like the most. It is worth noting though that the stamping does show better on light colored paper.

Este cartão foi enviado para a Flórida para agradecer aos tios do meu marido pelo carinhoso presente de Natal: um jantar em Nova York! Também acho um design leagal para uma nota de agradecimento aos anfitriões de um jantar, por exemplo. Como sempre, eu aconselho começar com as letras. Neste design, as letras foram desenhadas com caneta tinteira. Eu adoro o efeito da caneta tinteira, mas aviso que pode levar um tempo para dominar o processo. Nem imagino como deve ter sido difícil no passado escrever com canetas de pena! O carimbo "garfo e colher" foi comprado na Michael's e eu utilizo-o também para cartões de receita, especialmente para presentear a alguém. O resto é apenas papel cartão e você pode escolher as cores que o destinatário mais gostar. 

Thank You Card - Christmas Lights

I made this card for my very sweet parents-in-law, to thank them for a wonderful Christmas Holiday. They always put so much care into organizing a great time for all of us! My husband and I made this together and it was fun and easy. The light bulbs were cut-out of card stock and the thick black lines were drawn with water-pencil. By the way, the later is so impressive! I've had this set of water-pencils for at least 15 years (seriously!) and I never knew how amazing they were. There's no way they are lasting another 15 years - I'll be using them like there is no tomorrow!

Jan 8, 2013

Personalize Your Mat Strap!

For my first project of the year, the Yoga/Pilates Mat Shoulder Strap, the first thing I wanted to do was try some embroidery work. As a kid I learned some cross-stitching with my Grandma, and I remember thinking how wonderful it was that I could "draw" with yarn! For this project, I chose to embroider the word "breathe" because, being a longstanding Yoga and Pilates enthusiast, I know what difference this little reminder makes in our everyday life as well as while crafting! Breathe... and every challenge will be easier. Truly though, I also chose this word because it carried enough meaning by itself, making my embroidery work short! ; ) If you go to one of those studios that allows you to store your mat, it might be nice to embroider your own name or initials.

Jan 7, 2013

Yoga/Pilates Mat Shoulder Strap

I have decided, 2013 will be my year to pursue new craft skills! I am creative and crafty enough, but it's time to finally build some skills. That being said, I am committing myself to completing a craft-related project every week. It can be anything, really, as long as it requires me to explore and learn something new. This will be an adventure and I'll try to keep it as varied and fun as possible! If you find yourself inspired to try some of these projects with me, please do and let me know how it goes!

So, my craft adventure is beginning with something practical that I have been in need of for a long time: a strap for my yoga/pilates mat. After going through several rubber bands (I know, I'm frugal) that snapped on my fingers every time, it is time for a more permanent and pretty solution. Here we go!

Dec 31, 2012

Dear 2013...

Here is my very own and favorite New Year's tradition: on December 31st, I pick a pretty stationary and write a letter addressed to the year that is about to start. I begin with "Dear 2013" and proceed to write about all the wonderful things that have "happened" during that year and that I am grateful for. Of course none of these things will actually have happened yet, so the letter is ultimately a list of my wishes for the new year.

Dec 21, 2012

Floweret Christmas Wreath

This has been a very busy pre-holiday week but I am proud to have squeezed in my Christmas Wreath! I couldn't have done it without the loving help of my husband, who diligently cut leaves and flowers while I sewed them. This project was very fun to make, as each completed piece of the puzzle made me jump with enthusiasm and kept me going. I have a small door, so I made a small wreath, but you can adapt the design to whatever size you want, with bigger pieces, more flowers, you choose it!

Dec 20, 2012

Christmas Card - Reindeer

This is my Christmas card design for 2012 - in line with my reindeer obsession phase. And I should clarify that, "Feliz Natal" means "Merry Christmas" in Portuguese. As I am from Brazil, most of my holiday cards go there.

I love the simplicity of this card, and how the solid lines and colors really catches one's attention. I suggest you do the writing or stamping first, because that's where you are most likely to make a mistake (trust me, I went through this). If you need reference, draw a light line with a pencil and erase if afterwards. Then glue the parts of the reindeer together before gluing the whole thing to the card. The heart and nose are made of red felt and everything else is just plain card stock paper. If you want to give it a try, feel free to use this reindeer template.

Dec 16, 2012

Ho Ho Ho I'm painting again!

Last time I painted anything was in 5th grade. Our art teacher made us reproduce, with our various skill levels, the famous Van Gogh's Sunflowers. I believe I did a pretty good job, for an 11 year-old, and my master-piece still hangs on a wall in my parents' home - though not in a prominent location. Since then, my paint has expired and my brushes have disappeared.

Dec 12, 2012

Who Doesn't Like Cookies and Knickknacks?

I'm the biggest fan of knickknacks - it's actually one of my given nicknames - and I am a strong advocate of their importance and utility. Nevertheless, I've had these Christmas cookie cut-outs for years and had never used them. It's one of these things you buy because you think they are essential, that it's something everyone has to have. But the truth is that they are only essential if you actually use them! So, this weekend, I decided to prove to myself and to the world just how much I do need my cut-outs. 

Dec 9, 2012

Chit-Chatting Tree

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my little home! This year I decided to upgrade our Christmas tree from paper to fabric. I flirted with the idea of finally getting a real tree. They sell them on every corner of my neighborhood and the smell follows you everywhere. But then I remembered my newly made commitment to craft and came up with a yo-yo tree instead. It looks beautiful and gives me that wonderful sense of ownership and accomplishment that we crafters know so well.

Dec 7, 2012

The Arts & Craft Movement???

Was I the only one who had never heard of the Arts & Craft Movement from the 1800s? The story is quite fascinating, and yes, this is the opinion of a History enthusiast. But what do you think?

Nov 27, 2012

Rudolph's Red Nose

I had a reindeer obsession week. I think it's a great obsession to have... very productive anyway. It started with a felt ornament, moved to a card and landed comfortably on my living room pillow. Then, to finish it off, I had to watch Rudolph and Herbie!

Nov 24, 2012

Crafting Some Dinner and a Pie

Thanksgiving is a new holiday for me and I am still trying to get used to it. My first experience, 3 years ago, led to turkey on the kitchen floor before it ended up in sandwiches, soup, pasta, salad, and whatever else we were eating until the meat just started smelling weird. We don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Brazil and we typically reserve the turkey extravaganza for Christmas Eve. That being said, my husband and I decided we would always celebrate Thanksgiving with a culinary experiment, and be thankful for whatever comes out of it. 

Nov 20, 2012

So, when do we have time for our hobbies?

I believe time is the most precious asset of a hobbyist. Since my last/first post I have been eager to start my next project, but a busy week just won't let me do it. And having to wait for the weekend to arrive again is just so stressful! I thought hobbies were supposed to relax us!

I have seen it my whole life, at home. I mean, the lack of time for the things we truly enjoy. My dad is probably the greatest hobbyist I have ever known. Everything is of interest to him and he is always working on multiple projects at a time. The fact that he has two jobs and many other commitments doesn't seem to stop him, but it sure slows him down. He always finds time, but is far from being enough. So, when do we ever have time for our hobbies?

Nov 18, 2012

All-Purpose Drawstring Bag

I was one of these crafty kids that would take every opportunity to start a little project and let creativity flow. I was convinced that birthdays, X-mas, Eastern and every other special occasional existed just so that I could hand-make something for someone. And I always did. Whether I did it for the pleasure of creating it, for the smile on the recipient's face, or simply because I was seeking for compliments, I still don't know. One day, I will probably discover it's all of the above.