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11  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) / Stick Sweethearts on: January 27, 2014 06:25:36 PM
Hi all,

Here is an ATC I made for blupaisan a while ago. Wuv, twoo wuv...

12  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Nautilus Top Hat on: January 27, 2014 06:23:15 PM
I have a friend that loves lime green, and I found a top hat at Goodwill that was perfect.
Well, almost perfect. It needed something...



...like a paper cutout that turned it into a nautilus crown. Yes. Exactly.
13  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) / The Doctor is MY Ace of Hearts. on: January 27, 2014 06:09:01 PM
Here is an ATC I made for a personal swap with My_RubySlippers. I saw that she was another Whovian like myself, and that she liked Aces from decks of cards. I came up with this:



She also likes Tim Burton, so I made The Doctor extra skinny in Burtonesque style. And, of course the suit had to be hearts.

Oh, and I couldn't let the back be some boring pattern. Wink

14  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Solar Lamp Night Light on: January 09, 2014 09:34:08 AM
Greetings!
I wanted to share with you a project that I made back at the beginning of last year, mostly because it's making me think of warmer things.



This is a night light solar lamp that I put together for the daughter of a swap partner. (She likes butterflies). I wasn't sure exactly how this would come together when I first thought of the idea, I knew I was going to use the glass paint a friend had lent me, and some kind of solar light. So I scouted around, and found a set of lights at Lowes for about $8, the kind you stab into the ground at a campsite or something.

Like these:


I had the original idea of pulling the solar panel out of the light, and putting it in a mason jar with a ring lid (and it was just the right size), but I quickly learned that these lights weren't meant to be pulled all apart. So instead I went to Goodwill and found a vase that was about the right size.

I just used the top part of the lights, and I put a ring of hot-glue on the underside to help it sit on the vase without slipping. (You can also see the kind of light I used).



I then covered the vase with butterflies and a caterpillar out of the glass paint I had. It was simple stuff probably for kids crafts, but it worked rather well. I had to be careful how it dried though, so I didn't get long runny marks.



I thought it looked just okay, until after dark when I turned it on for the first time. Boy was I excited! The effect was just like stained glass!



I strongly encourage you to try it! I saw some instructions on how to do this with stained glass jars and even how to make your own glass paint.

Happy Crafting!
15  COOKING / Dessert / Earl Gray Lemon Squares *with recipe* on: December 17, 2013 10:43:37 AM
Hi there! I wanted to share with you the most wonderful dessert I recently discovered.

I had found this recipe for Earl Gray Lemon Squares in the June 2012 edition of Cooking Light. Since Acadian Driftwood was coming over to visit and I knew her affinity for lemony goodness, I thought this was a fortuitous time to "Make it so".

With our powers combined, we bring you the most delicious lemon squares to date!:



You know, I'm not even that much into lemon squares normally, and I couldn't stop at just one. The crust was wonderfully crumbly and light, and slightly tea-flavored. The filling was the most wonderful creamy texture, and was SO TASTY. Especially with a cup of tea alongside.

Of course, we had to take a complimentary photo in honor of our favorite Earl Gray consumer.


"Tea. Earl Gray. Hot."

I highly recommend these as a fairly simple and wonderful treat. The next version I'll try for the holidays will be gluten-free so my sister-in-law can enjoy them too; I'll let you know how it works out.

Here's the recipe. Go for it!

http://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/healthy-dessert-ideas-00412000076052/page24.html

16  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / Talk About The Swap Process / Shipping with the US Postal Service: FYI on: December 01, 2013 12:41:00 AM


Happy December everyone! As it is the season for people to be sending one another lots of goodies in the mail, I thought now would be a good time to put up this post. Last winter while I was working for the United States Postal Service, I learned firsthand the dos and donts of packaging. It was always terrible to see someones letters and parcels get stuck in the machine or lost because of simple packing errors, and I decided to share my knowledge with everyone to help those boxes and cards get to where theyre going!  Please read the information I have to share; even postal window clerks usually havent sorted the mail on the big machines, and thus may not know the best way to ship your packages.


One quick disclaimer I cannot say for sure how much of this is applicable for the postal services in countries other than the United States, but I imagine much of it is the same.

Envelopes:



First, lets talk about how these go through the sorting system. The letter sorting machine is a huge, scary, complicated thing that uses computer information to do almost everything.  They process over 30,000 letters an hour, and are run by only two people each, so it is important to make sure your envelope will go through smoothly.

When your envelope is fed into the machine, it gets pinched between two belts that whip it away at an incredibly fast speed, over and around wheels and through narrow sensors and sorting paddles. If anything in your envelope is sticky-outy, like a pen, keychain, coins, scrabble tiles, inchies, seashells, jewelry, etc., theres a good chance it will get stuck somewhere or just get torn in the machine and fall out.  (This is also true of any bits on the outside, like puffy stickers and glitter). Usually the postal workers do a good job of picking out the sticky-outy letters, but they can easily miss some when theyre processing several hundred thousand a night. And even if by chance it makes it through the machine, each letter will have to go through at least four times to get sorted for a mail carrier.  Depending on where theyre going, these letters could get run through the machine 7 or 8 times, maybe more!

So what do I do if I'm sending small items, like inchies?

If your envelope has sticky-outy or stiff bits, I would write please hand cancel on the front of the envelope. This way, it should avoid going through any machines, and will be hand sorted by a person. If its a really fragile item or you want to make sure it makes it to where its going, its best to put it in a padded envelope.

Now, since those envelopes are running through the machine so fast, it really helps if the address is readable. The machine has little cameras that take a picture of the front, and then a computer figures out what city, state and country the letter is going to - all in a fraction of a second. If your envelope is a weir d color, like silver or dark red or green, or if the ink is in a glittery or poorly-contrasted ink, the computer will probably not be able to read it. This isnt the end of the world, though; that just means it gets sent to those hand-sorting people later on, which is fine if you dont mind your letter travelling more slowly. If your handwriting is illegible, the computer and maybe the real person who sorts it later might not be able to read it. We did a pretty good job with some astoundingly bad writing, but its best not to leave that to fate.

 The machine also prints a black and an orange bar code on the envelope, which has to be read by other sorting machines. They cant read it if the envelope is dark, so sometimes they get a little bar code sticker to help. (You see that a lot on post cards).



So what do I do?
Got dark envelopes? Put a white or light-colored label on it. Got weird-colored ink? Use that in the card, and use a real pen for the envelope. Or, if your greetings have to have that exact shade of sparkly fluorescent green, be prepared for the travel time to be longer. And if your three-year-old addressed that letter to Grandma, make sure it actually looks like Grandmas address before you send it.

Sometimes the postal clerk will slap an extra fee on difficult-to-handle envelopes. This usually is done with envelopes that are over-sized, square, rigid or have lumpy things, or if the address is in a weird spot. If you ask for your letter to be hand-canceled, it will probably cost twenty cents extra. This isn't really a big deal, though. The USPS will mail just about anything if it has enough postage; my co-workers and I have seen everything from a shoe to shelacked toast go through, with enough stamps.


Boxes

If there is one thing that should be said about boxes it is this: Please, for the love of whatever deity you may or may not worship, do not use duct tape to seal a box.
Dont get me wrong; duct tape is fantastic for many things. It is very sticky. So much so that if a corner peels up, the tape could stick to other packages. Or the sorting machine. Or the conveyer belts. Or the shipping containers. Or to itself, to get wedged into some important moving part. Get the drift?

Okay. The next important thing is your label. This is the only way anyone has of knowing where this box of stuff is going, so take time to make your label. It always helps if it is legible, and if you print off one of those postage-paid labels like you can for ebay, make sure it prints in a size that a non-superhuman can read without serious effort. It also helps if those labels are on the biggest side of the box. Most of the time the boxes are placed on a conveyer belt that runs them under a scanner; this scans not only the zip code, but all of those handy tracking bar codes as well. If the label is on the narrow end of the box, it would have to stand upright on a surface that quickly moves and stops repeatedly, which usually doesnt work.

Of course, someone can read the label and type in the zip code, but then your tracking bar code doesnt get scanned, and wouldnt you like to know where your package is?

Other helpful things:

Make sure your zip code is correct. Usually the humans involved can figure it out if it isnt, but it might go around in circles for weeks before someone catches it.

Is your package round and roly? Theres a chance it wont travel on the machine like its supposed to. The operators try to pick these out before they get stuck or fall in the wrong shipping container, but theyre busy people that miss things sometimes, and this could add anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to your parcels travel time.

Did you cram one of those it fits, it ships flat-rate boxes with 30 lb of auto parts? It helps to write HEAVY or CAUTION or 30 POUNDS on that sucker. Because those boxes roll down sloped conveyer belts onto peoples fingers, it helps to have some warning. I once sorted a large flat-rate box that was 55 lbs, no joke.  And make sure that box is sealed and padded well; theres not a whole lot anyone can do if the cardboard gets obliterated by the chunk of steel its hiding.




If there is one most important thing to take away from this post
...it is to put a return address on your mail! Even your postcards! Even if youve sent a box to this person like 400 times and you know that their address is correct and the postal clerk knows your sister and WHATEVER. You should still put a return address on there. If you have something you really care about thats going inside of the package, maybe even put an address on that, too.

Because stuff happens. Im sure a lot of you have had packages come in the mail that look like theyve been trampled by elephants. This isnt because of uncaring postal workers (usually). Most of the time its from when stuff gets stuck in the machinery, which is unavoidable. And sometimes the mail gets wet, or gets leaked on from another package, or the label comes un-stuck. Maybe you didnt copy that zip code down exactly. If anything happens to the address and it cant be sent, it will get shipped down to a dead mail facility in Georgia somewhere to be examined for sender info, and then destroyed.  If this happens to you , there is probably an 800 number to call, but that tends to be almost completely useless.

Dont let this happen! Put a return address on EVERYTHING so it can at least go back home if something happens on the other end.


I hope this is at least a little bit helpful. If there is something I didnt explain well or forgot to mention, please let me know! Good luck, and may all of your shipping be swift.
17  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / Shipping with the US Postal Service: FYI on: December 01, 2013 12:40:24 AM


Happy December everyone! As it is the season for people to be sending one another lots of goodies in the mail, I thought now would be a good time to put up this post. Last winter while I was working for the United States Postal Service, I learned firsthand the dos and donts of packaging. It was always terrible to see someones letters and parcels get stuck in the machine or lost because of simple packing errors, and I decided to share my knowledge with everyone to help those boxes and cards get to where theyre going!  Please read the information I have to share; even postal window clerks usually havent sorted the mail on the big machines, and thus may not know the best way to ship your packages.


One quick disclaimer I cannot say for sure how much of this is applicable for the postal services in countries other than the United States, but I imagine much of it is the same.

Envelopes:



First, lets talk about how these go through the sorting system. The letter sorting machine is a huge, scary, complicated thing that uses computer information to do almost everything.  They process over 30,000 letters an hour, and are run by only two people each, so it is important to make sure your envelope will go through smoothly.

When your envelope is fed into the machine, it gets pinched between two belts that whip it away at an incredibly fast speed, over and around wheels and through narrow sensors and sorting paddles. If anything in your envelope is sticky-outy, like a pen, keychain, coins, scrabble tiles, inchies, seashells, jewelry, etc., theres a good chance it will get stuck somewhere or just get torn in the machine and fall out.  (This is also true of any bits on the outside, like puffy stickers and glitter). Usually the postal workers do a good job of picking out the sticky-outy letters, but they can easily miss some when theyre processing several hundred thousand a night. And even if by chance it makes it through the machine, each letter will have to go through at least four times to get sorted for a mail carrier.  Depending on where theyre going, these letters could get run through the machine 7 or 8 times, maybe more!

So what do I do if I'm sending small items, like inchies?

If your envelope has sticky-outy or stiff bits, I would write please hand cancel on the front of the envelope. This way, it should avoid going through any machines, and will be hand sorted by a person. If its a really fragile item or you want to make sure it makes it to where its going, its best to put it in a padded envelope.

Now, since those envelopes are running through the machine so fast, it really helps if the address is readable. The machine has little cameras that take a picture of the front, and then a computer figures out what city, state and country the letter is going to - all in a fraction of a second. If your envelope is a weir d color, like silver or dark red or green, or if the ink is in a glittery or poorly-contrasted ink, the computer will probably not be able to read it. This isnt the end of the world, though; that just means it gets sent to those hand-sorting people later on, which is fine if you dont mind your letter travelling more slowly. If your handwriting is illegible, the computer and maybe the real person who sorts it later might not be able to read it. We did a pretty good job with some astoundingly bad writing, but its best not to leave that to fate.

 The machine also prints a black and an orange bar code on the envelope, which has to be read by other sorting machines. They cant read it if the envelope is dark, so sometimes they get a little bar code sticker to help. (You see that a lot on post cards).



So what do I do?
Got dark envelopes? Put a white or light-colored label on it. Got weird-colored ink? Use that in the card, and use a real pen for the envelope. Or, if your greetings have to have that exact shade of sparkly fluorescent green, be prepared for the travel time to be longer. And if your three-year-old addressed that letter to Grandma, make sure it actually looks like Grandmas address before you send it.

Sometimes the postal clerk will slap an extra fee on difficult-to-handle envelopes. This usually is done with envelopes that are over-sized, square, rigid or have lumpy things, or if the address is in a weird spot. If you ask for your letter to be hand-canceled, it will probably cost twenty cents extra. This isn't really a big deal, though. The USPS will mail just about anything if it has enough postage; my co-workers and I have seen everything from a shoe to shelacked toast go through, with enough stamps.


Boxes

If there is one thing that should be said about boxes it is this: Please, for the love of whatever deity you may or may not worship, do not use duct tape to seal a box.
Dont get me wrong; duct tape is fantastic for many things. It is very sticky. So much so that if a corner peels up, the tape could stick to other packages. Or the sorting machine. Or the conveyer belts. Or the shipping containers. Or to itself, to get wedged into some important moving part. Get the drift?

Okay. The next important thing is your label. This is the only way anyone has of knowing where this box of stuff is going, so take time to make your label. It always helps if it is legible, and if you print off one of those postage-paid labels like you can for ebay, make sure it prints in a size that a non-superhuman can read without serious effort. It also helps if those labels are on the biggest side of the box. Most of the time the boxes are placed on a conveyer belt that runs them under a scanner; this scans not only the zip code, but all of those handy tracking bar codes as well. If the label is on the narrow end of the box, it would have to stand upright on a surface that quickly moves and stops repeatedly, which usually doesnt work.

Of course, someone can read the label and type in the zip code, but then your tracking bar code doesnt get scanned, and wouldnt you like to know where your package is?

Other helpful things:

Make sure your zip code is correct. Usually the humans involved can figure it out if it isnt, but it might go around in circles for weeks before someone catches it.

Is your package round and roly? Theres a chance it wont travel on the machine like its supposed to. The operators try to pick these out before they get stuck or fall in the wrong shipping container, but theyre busy people that miss things sometimes, and this could add anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to your parcels travel time.

Did you cram one of those it fits, it ships flat-rate boxes with 30 lb of auto parts? It helps to write HEAVY or CAUTION or 30 POUNDS on that sucker. Because those boxes roll down sloped conveyer belts onto peoples fingers, it helps to have some warning. I once sorted a large flat-rate box that was 55 lbs, no joke.  And make sure that box is sealed and padded well; theres not a whole lot anyone can do if the cardboard gets obliterated by the chunk of steel its hiding.




If there is one most important thing to take away from this post
...it is to put a return address on your mail! Even your postcards! Even if youve sent a box to this person like 400 times and you know that their address is correct and the postal clerk knows your sister and WHATEVER. You should still put a return address on there. If you have something you really care about thats going inside of the package, maybe even put an address on that, too.

Because stuff happens. Im sure a lot of you have had packages come in the mail that look like theyve been trampled by elephants. This isnt because of uncaring postal workers (usually). Most of the time its from when stuff gets stuck in the machinery, which is unavoidable. And sometimes the mail gets wet, or gets leaked on from another package, or the label comes un-stuck. Maybe you didnt copy that zip code down exactly. If anything happens to the address and it cant be sent, it will get shipped down to a dead mail facility in Georgia somewhere to be examined for sender info, and then destroyed.  If this happens to you , there is probably an 800 number to call, but that tends to be almost completely useless.

Dont let this happen! Put a return address on EVERYTHING so it can at least go back home if something happens on the other end.


I hope this is at least a little bit helpful. If there is something I didnt explain well or forgot to mention, please let me know! Good luck, and may all of your shipping be swift.
18  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Fall Wiccan Wreath on: October 22, 2013 06:09:47 PM
Hi there! I made this wreath for a swap. It's my first time making a wreath, and it was a lot easier than I had previously imagined.



I used birch branches to make the hoop and the wiccan star, and they're all connected with florist's wire. Then I tore apart a fall garland I got from A.C. Moore for a few $ and wired the leaves and berries onto the ring of the wreath. I was originally going to make my own leaves out of felt, but I like the way it turned out with silk.

C&C welcome! Thanks for looking!
19  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Triple Moon Tree Hoop on: October 22, 2013 02:22:06 PM
Hi there!
I made this hoop for my partner in a Halloween swap. She likes things with a Wiccan theme, so I decided to mix the tree of life and the triple moon image.



The majority of it is straight-stitched with varying thicknesses of thread. The moons are reverse-appliqued with a piece of lavender fabric that was actually from my prom dress, believe it or not. I used double-sided interfacing to hold it in place, and used running stitch to secure it to the front fabric.

Thanks for looking!
20  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Yoshi and Kermit the Hoop on: October 22, 2013 10:56:26 AM
Hi there! Here's another hoop I made for a swap.



This is my own design that I used back-stitch to outline, and crayon tinting for the color. The words are done with something akin to a stem stitch.

Thanks for looking!
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