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DIY Gift Bags

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Craft | 0 comments

Does doing something 2 years in a row make it a tradition?

If so, then we continued our gift-bag making tradition at CraftHack this month.

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You can make your own gift bags out of regular old paper lunch sacks and craft supplies you already have. Here are some tips…

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Get your stuff together!

  • Lunch bags. If you have regular brown ones around, great! Otherwise, check out your color options – white, red, yellow, blue. I’ve seen a bunch at my local Target.
  • Scissors. Fancy-edge scissors, a small paper cutter, and/or a paper punch might also be useful if you have them.
  • Embellishments. Use what you’ve got – scrapbook paper, washi tape, old greeting cards, ribbon, glitter, stickers, that last little bit of wrapping paper on the roll, etc.

Customize!

Bag size. Take a bit off the top to break up the lunch baggy proportions. You can use your fancy scissors to create an interesting edge.

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Handles. 3 ways to handle handles:

1. Cut out a shape an inch or so from the top of the bag. Straight sided shapes – like a long inverted triangle – work best.

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2. Vertical handles. Use ribbon, two pieces of washi tape (sticky sides together), or scraps cut from the top of your paper bag to make a handle that goes over the top of the bag. You can staple it (use your embellishments to cover staples), or punch/cut holes to thread ribbon through and secure with tape or big knots.

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3. Horizontal handles. Some of the CraftHackers came up with this one. It works best using fabric ribbon. You cut rectangles into thee bag that are as tall as the ribbon is wide and weave it through, maybe with help from a friend.

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Decorate! Once you’ve sized your bag and made handles, get creative using supplies you have on hand. Cut shapes out of paper, add glitter, make a pattern from paper, create stripes from ribbon or washi tape, go a little crazy with stickers, have fun!

Check out my last-minute holiday guide for more gift, entertaining, and decorating ideas!

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Mr. Cheeseface

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Craft | 4 comments

My sister-in-law Liz added a lot of fabulous handmade touches to her sons’ monster-themed 2nd birthday party, including a whole pile of brightly-colored felt monsters she sewed for party favors.

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Meet Mr. Cheeseface, who Phillip christened before we were even out of the parking lot – inspired, I assume, by the smiling creature’s yellow color. Mr. Cheeseface has shown up in different places around our house, but he mostly likes to hang out in our car and accompany us on trips.

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Recently, a friend suggested I should pose him in our travel photos, Flat Stanley style. I liked the idea, but I also have this individualist streak that tends to make me feel I cannot just do what someone is already doing. I need my own twist. So instead of Mr. Cheeseface being front-and-center in our photos, I’ll make him part of the scene and let you guys find him.

He’ll start popping up in posts soon!

Don’t just stare at a blank screen – write something! Micropost inspiration at Stirrup Queens.

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December in Glendale for Fan Fest Goers

Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

This weekend (12/12-14) is the first-ever Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest. Besides being held during a much cooler time of year than the main all-pop-culture-encompassing Phoenix Comicon event, Fan Fest is smaller and focused on just 4 categories: comics, actors, costuming, and activities for kids.

Instead of taking place in central Phoenix, it’ll be at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, where the Arizona Cardinals play.

So what is there to do in Glendale?

Christmas lights at Glendale Glitters in Glendale, Arizona.

My top picks: downtown Glendale

Here are a few Glendale things I’ve checked out that you might also enjoy – whether you’re going to Fan Fest or not. They’re in the historic downtown about 10 minutes by car from the stadium (near 58th and Glendale avenues - PDF walking tour map).

  1. Glendale Glitters – Tons of holiday lights (“the largest free holiday light display in Arizona”), fair-type food booths (fried things, things on sticks, beer beer beer, etc.) live performances by local choirs and dance studios, and interesting people-/possible-wolf-watching.
  2. Unique Local Shops - Drawn to Comics has comics and comic paraphernalia. Pink House boutique focuses on stylish, hard-to-find clothing and is open until 10pm this Friday and Saturday. There are also several antique and vintage shops and other quirky local stores, right across the street from the Glendale Glitters action.
  3. Kimberly Ann’s Tea Room - For those into the high tea experience*, it’s lovely without being stuffy. When I went I last year with my mom and aunt, there was a long list of teas available, and we had all the tea sandwiches and sweets we could handle.

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Cerreta Candy Company

Located near downtown, Cerreta Candy Company gives free tours Monday through Friday at 10am and 1pm. During the holidays, you can go in and decorate chocolate wreaths or trees for $10.

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Walking distance from University of Phoenix Stadium

I was wondering what there would be to do right around the stadium, and here’s what I found.

Sports stuff

  • If you’re around there right now or will still be around next week, there are University of Phoenix Stadium tours today (12/11), as well as 12/18-20. Tickets are $9.
  • Fan Fest attendees headed to the 12/13 Arizona Coyotes game can get a discount. I’m not sure what the discount is. You might wanna check out regular tickets too.

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Shopping

In case you somehow don’t get your fill of shopping at the Exhibitor Hall, there is a lot more around the Stadium.

  • Westgate Entertainment District - stores, a movie theater, and holiday events, including free Carriage rides.
  • Tanger Outlets – apparently, Tanger rhymes with “hanger.” (Who knew?!)
  • Cabela’s – outdoor store focused on hunting and fishing (but also carrying equipment for camping and other outdoor activities). It includes a restaurant, aquariums, and an indoor archery range – if wanted to channel your inner Green Arrow or Katniss Everdeen. Just remember you can’t bring any actual weapons back to the Con with you.

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Food

I had trouble finding locally-based options in the area. Here’s what I hunted down:

At the Stadium

  • There are supposed to be food trucks at Fan Fest, but staff doesn’t have confirmation on which ones yet.
  • Regular stadium concessions by Rojo Hospitality Group will be open.

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Westgate – 2 out of 3 of these are for frozen desserts. Because what’s more Phoenix than eating ice cream in December?!

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  • Fired Pie – I’m intrigued by this place and hoping to make it over there this weekend! You can either order from their menu or customize your own pizza or salad for one price. (It’s not extra for each topping.) They are sustainability conscious and use local, organic ingredients.

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*At the main Phoenix Comicon event over the summer, I wandered into the wrong room at one point and a panel was discussing tea and tea-drinking rituals. A friend later said “Oh, they must be fans of [name of something I'd never heard of and immediately forgot].” Fan Fest has a tea battle on the schedule. What does that mean? I don’t know. All I know is that there is some kind of fancy-tea-drinking contingent within the Comicon community. So I put a tea house on the list.

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Nathan Fillion crafts

Posted by on Dec 8, 2014 in Craft | 2 comments

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I wasn’t planning on taking video of Nathan Fillion’s appearance at Phoenix Comicon. Then an audience member (dressed, incidentally, as Dr. Horrible) asked him about costumes he’s made and sent me scrambling to capture the moment.

Here’s how it looked from where I sat.

And here’s a much sharper video of the whole spotlight (with costume-making question at 48:40).

They say a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Apparently, sometimes a man’s gotta construct an increasingly elaborate grim reaper costume with tree branches, foam, glowing red eyes, and drywall stilts.

I just had no idea the Captain was so gorram crafty.

P.S. For more Phoenix Comicon, check out this weekend’s Fan Fest!

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Read a whole buncha great little posts! Links on Stirrup Queens.

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A rainy day trip to Sedona

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Craft, Travel | 0 comments

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Phillip made an offhand comment one day several months ago that was something like “You know, we should just head to Sedona for breakfast sometime.”

He didn’t have to ask me twice.

I said “Let’s go this weekend!”

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We both love Sedona and the surrounding Verde Valley, and we head up there regularly. We hatched a plan to go to our favorite omelet place, The Coffee Pot, the Saturday before we’d start our gluten-free experiment

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Since they serve breakfast until they close at 2pm, we decided to stop on the way to see Arcosanti and have a light first breakfast in the cafe (closer to Phoenix = food sooner) and then drive up to The Coffee Pot to split an omelet and pancakes for a breakfasty lunch.

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The Coffee Pot is kind of an old-school diner-style joint named for the nearby Coffee Pot Rock, as well as (I assume) the carafe of coffee they plunk down on your table, so you can refill your mug at will. It’s frequented by both locals and tourists. They serve 101 kinds of omelets. The ones we’ve tried have been delicious. Next time, I’ll skip the pancakes and stick with those.

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After second breakfast, we rolled out of the restaurant and drove towards Oak Creek Canyon. We contemplated hiking. But the rain had turned from a sprinkle to a downpour and the creek was already absolutely raging.

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I worry about flash floods. (Am I being overly cautious? Or smart? Hard to say.) So we opted to take in the Oak Creek views from the car, and then head back to town to do our walking under storefront awnings.

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By the time we got as far as Canyon Breeze, I was ready for a pit stop. When you’re wandering around Uptown Sedona and you need a bathroom and/or you can’t agree on getting coffee vs. ice cream vs. an actual meal vs. continuing shopping and/or you’re with a big group, Canyon Breeze is a good bet.

It’s less like a single restaurant and more like a nicer version of a food court. Inside is a Starbucks, an ice cream counter, a souvenir shop, a bar and grill, and, yep, it has its own restrooms. There are lots of tables inside and outside with a fantastic view. Of course, the patio was drenched that day, but I managed to score a table next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

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I sipped hot tea, watched dark gray clouds roll across the tops of craggy red mountains, and did a little crafting at the same time – tearing the cardboard sleeve from around my cup into roughly the shape of the mountains in front of me to add to an art journal.

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After that, we started working our way home to unwind with some Downton Abbey.

Of course, this isn’t a list of must-do things in Sedona for someone going the first time or even on a (much more common) sunny day. But it worked for us.

To me, the essential thing to do in Sedona is take in the beauty of the red rocks. You can do that on a hike, on a jeep tour, or even through a restaurant window.

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Side note: Awhile ago, I posted a close-up photo of my torn cardboard mountain range, so you could guess what it was. The day I posted it, the Slide Fire broke out, which seemed crazy after the same area had been soaked with rain earlier in the year. In any case, I didn’t think it was an appropriate week for a lighthearted post about fun in Sedona. As far as I know, there were no casualties from the fire. By the time it was out, I had a whole bunch of other things to tell you about, so it’s taken me this long to circle back around. Sorry to keep you hanging!

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Let’s talk about what we’re not doing for the holidays

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Craft, Life | 4 comments

I had had this idea of asking you all what you were making this year. But the danger in those kind of discussions is sometimes a comparisonfest can break out. I want to celebrate people doing what works for them rather than feeling like there’s something more they should be doing.

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Instead, I’m asking a different question: how are you cutting yourself some slack this holiday season?

Please share in the comments!

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Microblog Mondays: Don’t overthink it. Just write something. And then read Stirrup Queens.

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