Giving Your Holiday Cards A New Life

Happy New Year, Readers! I hope your Holidays were spectacular and that you've entered 2012 with feelings of excitement, determination, and peace.

The first week of January, I attempt to do some spring cleaning. I clean out my closets, shred old papers I no longer need, go through old magazines from 2011, and do an inventory of my business stock. I also file all of my receipts and get my books in order as I prepare for orders in the new year and tax season. In other words, I purge, breathe, and usher in something like order before the chaos begins.
Now, this is all important because I'm a bit of a pack rat. Okay, that's a bit extreme, I'm not a pack rat, but I do like to keep cards and movie ticket stubs and anything else that reminds me of a favorite moment in my past year. I have boxes of things like this and I love having them, but I also spend time sorting through them and making sure I'm not carrying too much of my past into my future.

Which is why I tackle the pile of Christmas cards I received in January that first week.

In the past I felt horrible at the thought of throwing away a card that someone took the time to send me. Eventually, the photo card came out and I didn't quite feel so bad about recycling cards. You may be wondering why? The truth is that it is so rare that someone writes on their photo card that the card is impersonal. And so purging of Christmas cards became easier and my paper load less.

It wasn't until last year that I discovered a wonderful little way to really recycle your cards (photo cards not included) that involves giving your cards a new life - donating them to St. Jude's Ranch.

For more than 30 years, St. Jude's Ranch has been collecting used greeting-card fronts to reuse.  The children at St. Jude's Ranch turn the card fronts into new cards that are sold at the gift shop. Not only do the children learn to craft, but they also learn about recycling and running a business.

St. Jude's Ranch accepts all cards, not just Christmas cards. They take general, birthday, thank-you, Easter, Valentine's Day, and any other holiday I'm missing, but currently they have a need for both birthday and thank-you cards.  They prefer the front of cards sized 5"x 7" or smaller and have no writing at all. I tend to tear the card and recycle the back with the writing on my own. Something to be aware of is that St. Jude's cannot accept cards by Hallmark, Disney, or American Greetings because of trademark and/or copyright issues since they sell the remade cards.

I know you're thinking that shipping the cards to St. Jude's defeats the purpose of recycling the cards, but honestly, you're doing an amazing thing by sending these cards to children in need and you can mark the postage charge as a charitable contribution on your taxes.

So now, take all your card fronts and put them in a USPS Flat Rate Box and ship them to the following address:

St. Jude's Ranch for Children
Recycled Card Program
100 St. Jude's Street
Boulder City, NV 89005

For those of you looking to doubly make a difference, you can host a collection with friends to mail one big bundle to the group. Turn it into a party where you invite your friends over, have some snacks, catch up, and gather those cards into a sizable donation. We're spinning the craft party in another way!

You can also purchase cards from the children next year for your own Holiday card needs. Cards are sold in packets of 10 for $10.  You can find out more information on the categories and how to order on their website.

Any questions can be directed to St. Jude's directly via phone at 877-977-7572 or you can visit their website.

Happy New Year of Crafting and Recycling!


Wrapping Your Holidays With Eco-Love

Good December, {NewNew} readers!

Last month, I promised you a blog with tips on how to eco-friendly decorate your home for the Holidays. I'm sorry to break the news to you, but I'm not writing about that this month. Instead, I'm sharing my favorite eco-friendly alternatives to gift wrap.

Yes, we are talking about decorating under the tree for your loved ones and the planet. I think it's a trade-off, but don't worry, you will get your tips for eco-friendly Holiday decorating. You can hold me to it!

Now, before I get into my favorite tips (that I've spent countless hours scouring and talking to people about), I wanted to share some quick facts on Holiday waste (courtesy of the
  • From Thanksgiving to New Years Day, household waste increases by more than 25%. Added food waste, shopping bags, packaging, wrapping paper, bows and ribbons - it all adds up to an additional 1 million tons a week to our landfills. (EPA and Use Less Stuff) 
  •  In the U.S., annual trash from gift-wrap and shopping bags totals 4 million tons. (Use Less Stuff)
  • The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year n the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we'd save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. (Use Less Stuff) Consider sending an electronic card.
  • Ribbons--if every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. 
  • Paper Half of the paper America consumes is used to wrap and decorate consumer products. (The Recycler's Handbook)
Now, as a stationer, I find the paper facts troublesome. Which is why I've made a commitment to the Earth and myself to create a sustainable business.  The reality is that there are paper lovers in the world and creative people love paper, but that doesn't mean you have to be irresponsible.  Between you and me, it's partially the reason why my collection of paper bags is almost as big, if not getting bigger, than my inventory for projects.

I'm getting beside myself here. What is important is that you know how you can still celebrate your holiday in style just in a less expensive and harmful way.  So here goes, my recommendations for your gift wrapping:

1. Kraft Paper. You have a ton of this already. If you shop at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, your groceries get bagged in it. If you shop at almost any large retailer now, your goods get sent out the door in your hand in it - the paper bag.  I am aware that some bags have colors and logos, but all you need to do is cut off the bottom of the bag and the handles and use the inside. I also encourage you to use the colored/logo side as well.  For the Holidays, Trader Joe's bags have tags for you to cut out and use on your gifts, see below.

If your bag is plain brown, great! You have your own canvas to work with. Stickers you may have can be used, any stamps you have can also be used to create a pattern. If nothing else, grab some markers and draw different colored lines. Easy, peasy!

2. Tissue Paper.  I save tissue paper from everywhere and anywhere. If my jeans are wrapped in it when I leave a store, I save the sheets, even with the tears from the label and use it for future wrapping. The excuse "you'll see through it" doesn't work since tissue paper rarely comes in sheets of one--two should do the trick nicely.

3. Newspaper, Maps, or any other antique looking paper.  You are probably thinking about ink getting on your fingers. Well, you can not be an eco-warrior if you can't stand getting your fingers a bit dirty now and then! Newspaper makes great gift wrap because it's black and white, sometimes gray, meaning that any color bows or ribbons you use will contrast amazingly against the background. The word pattern also is done for you, so no stamping or coloring necessary.

The same goes with maps. If you have small boxes and an Atlas that you're considering throwing a way, don't! Take those old sheets of history and create new memories with it. I guarantee that everyone who gets a gift wrapped in old world maps will be mesmerized and full of disbelief!

4.Old Textiles.  The Japanese have a technique called furoshiki, where they wrap gifts in cloth.  You can take old bandanas, blouses, skirts, scarfs, cut them into a square based on the size of the fabric and the size you need for your gift and secure the open end with a button, safety pin, or simply knot it. Talk about a fashion statement!

5. Potato Chip Bags. I am not kidding you on this one and I can not take credit for it. I got it from Martha Stewart and it is my favorite idea ever! I'm quite mad that I didn't even consider it on my own! Here's the genius of the idea: Cut open a potato-chip bag along the seam to reveal the shiny white or silver inside. Flatten the bag, wash it with soap and water to remove the grease, and then air dry. Once completed, wrap your presents and decorate with ribbons or bows, as you like. Now I have a feel good reason to eat chips-Yes!

Okay, so I think you're covered for your gift wrapping needs, but what about decorating? Bows? Ribbon?  Here are my tips:

1. Aluminum Bows. Virginia Kraljevic (fellow blogger on the {NewNew}) posted a amazingly easy method to create a bow with a good already in your pantry- aluminum foil! The even better part is that aluminum foil is recycleable. Yep! After the gift is unwrapped, you can recycle both the paper and the bow. Awesome! The video also shows how to create a stamp from a rubber cork and apply that to your upcycled paper bag for decorating purposes. She then shows you now to put together the bow. It's easy, it's gorgeous and so simple, it blows my mind! Check out the Etsy video:

                                   How-Tuesday: Upcycled Gift Wrap from Etsy on Vimeo.

2. Paper Bows. Again, I'm not the genius behind this idea either, but I LOVE it! It's another simple and easy way to recycle paper and decorate your Holiday packages and I guarantee you have all the supplies you need already at home or in your work space.  Coming from the website Splash of Something, Katrina gives you step my step instructions along with photos (like the one below) to help you make your paper bows out of magazines, newspapers, and even books. How cute!

3. Ribbon.  Collect ribbon scraps throughout the year and use them for gifts. One of my favorite ribbon scrap methods is to take them from shopping bags. They are all the rage these days, so just be more aware of the bags you're bringing home and when you go to recycle the bag, unknot the ribbon handles and store for future gift giving!

Before you say, "but Sara, sometimes they are cord like and ugly", think about how you could personally embellish it or how lovely it will work with kraft paper. Also remember that it is one less piece of textile in a landfill and all those small boxes you are giving away would look lovely with a piece of the twine or cord around it. Shops now offer them in all colors and lengths, so your collection overtime could be large enough for all your gift giving needs!

Lastly, we're going to cover mailing packages. Not everyone is going to be local and you are bound to need to send a few packages to loved ones afar.  Here are my two tips: 

1. Reuse Boxes. I am a box junky. I am! Any box that is in relatively good shape, I keep for shipping purposes. They work wonderfully well and aside from having to black out any other shipping information so as not to confuse postal workers, they are solid. Plus this saves you money!

2. Stuffing.  Now, I reuse magazines to stuff my boxes, but Martha Stewart shared a wonderful little technique that I also LOVE immensely - Biodegradable Stuffing! It cushions small, fragile items just as well as the non-eco-friendly stuff like bubbles or styrofoam nuggets. So use things like real peanuts and popcorn (the receiver may not want to eat stale popcorn, but they can peanuts!).  Even better, both can be composted.

So there you have it! Ways to wrap, decorate, and ship all in an eco-friendly manner.  I hope you use these and find them helpful. I look forward to sharing more environmental + crafting insight in 2012!

Happy Holidays!


Giant Pinwheel

So, I had this idea to make a pinwheel, but not an everyday ordinary pinwheel (as cute as those may be). No. I wanted to make a really big pinwheel. Just for fun, and for the challenge of it (assuming there's a front-end reason most pinwheels are the sizes they are). And it was a challenge. But the end result was as fun. With the challenge part of it overcome, making them is a snap.

Don't be daunted! It's a lot but you probably have most of it on hand.

  • Two pieces of 12" x 12" cardstock (only one piece actually needs to be that large; the other can be as much as 1/4 that size)
  • Wood dowel
  • One 18-gauge 5/8" nail (make sure it has a nice head on it)
  • Two pencils, one for marking and one with an eraser you can cut off
  • Small knife
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Tacky glue
  • One-sixteenth inch hole punch
  • Drill and 1/16" drill bit
If you like, cut your dowel down to about half its original length or about 24" (I used the full 48" length). Drill a hole about 1/2" from one end. Set aside.

Cut the eraser off of a pencil (the eraser should be new or only very slightly worn). Set aside.

Fold a piece of cardstock in half diagonally (corner-to-corner) in both directions to create 4 triangles on the surface.

On the fold lines, make a pencil mark about 1/3 of the way from the center. Cut paper along fold lines up to the pencil marks.

Punch a hole in the left corner of each triangle.

Get your nail. Pull the first triangle corner toward the center of the paper and insert the nail point-first from the top.

Pull the second corner toward the center and position below the first corner and over the point of the nail. Repeat until all four corners are on the nail. Push the nail through the center of the paper.

Hold the pinwheel by the nail from the back and gently flatten the triangles a bit. This will make it easier to work with going forward.

Lay the pinwheel face-down so the end of the nail is pointing up.

Fold the other piece of the cardstock in quarters. Cut along fold lines. Take one square and cut the corners off. Apply glue stick to one side and then push it sticky-side down over the point of the nail. Press into place on the back of the pinwheel. (I would actually cut the paper down a bit more than pictured.)

Flip the pinwheel over while holding everything in place. Insert the pointy end of the nail into the hole in the dowel.

Lay the pinwheel face-down again so the dowel is on top with the nail poking through it. Push the cut-off pencil eraser onto the end of the nail. Adjust its position to allow the pinwheel to spin. Set into place with a dab of tacky glue.

Allow to dry, then gently un-flatten the triangles. You may have to bend them forward from their base a bit too. Stick the whole thing into a planter or a vase filled with stones, or affix to anything tall and free-standing (like a lamp) and wait for a light summer breeze to blow by and spin it.

Until next time --



Holiday Gift Guide from the {NewNew}

Nothing says happyholidays-happybirthday-happyhanukkah-merrychristmas-happynewyear-iloveyou like a good, old fashioned piece of paper. Somehow, now matter how hard you try, the absurd graphics of e-cards, the strange language of texting, or an update on Facebook doesn't cut it when you're trying to make an impression. This year at the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade at OpenHOUSE Gallery in Nolita, New York, over forty designers will be selling perfect gifts for every occasion. In particular, the artisans doing their work on paper are exceptional. Be sure to come on by on Sunday, December 5th to see these beautiful paper products for yourself!

More fantastic products will be available at the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, so keep checking back between now and December 5th for more product and artisan features!


The {New New} at the St. Nicholas Faire in Cobble Hill

A number of {New New} team members will be taking part in the 20th Annual St. Nicholas Faire at the Christ Church in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. The fair takes place on Saturday, December 12th from 10 to 5. The church is located at 326 Clinton street and convenient to the F/G train to Bergen street. Check out some of the participating shops and start planning your shopping strategy now!

Do You Vote?

Every week Etsy Voter offers a new and interesting category of handmade and vintage goods, as well as supplies, for people to vote on. Winners are announced each Monday, along with the next week's topic so people can nominate their favorite sellers (hint, hint). You may even nominate your own shop!

It's a fun, informal way to access what can at times seem like a daunting amount of awesome items on Etsy. And for crafters, nominating your shop is another way to bring more traffic to your door! This week the Voter is accepting nominations for back-to-school notebooks and journals.

Naturally, the {NewNew} has many eligible shops:

So get out there and vote!


How-To: Gum Wrappers, Mom, and Me

the big one!

When I was a little girl, my mother taught me how to make folded paper chains from gum wrappers. This humble paper craft introduced me to the concept of making something decorative from what would otherwise end up in the trash. It was like learning a magic trick. There was a lot of treasure-from-trash activity going on in the 70s -- my grandmother's crocheted kitchen mat made from plastic bread sacks, my mom's Christmas tree made from spray-painted tuna fish cans! But the gum wrapper chain was my first attempt at upcycling, and it's still my favorite.

We took gum wrapper chains seriously in our house. My mother was the Gumkeeper and Chain Maven that made it all possible. We had a drawer in the kitchen that she always kept stocked with gum and loose wrappers to work on when the mood struck. At the height of our wrapper-folding enterprise, the chain stretched from one end of our house to the other (and beyond!).

Sadly, the chain we made got lost in a move, but I have a chain of my own now, which I started making when I was 17 years old and living away from home for the first time. I was an exchange student living abroad, at times terribly homesick. I'm sure that repeating that same sequence of folds my mother had taught me years before must have helped a little at easing the sadness of being so far away from her and dad.

Here are the instructions for making your own Gum Wrapper Chain. I usually work in stages: tear a big batch of wrappers in half, then fold all the halves into links, then assemble the links at the end.

step 1 step 1b
1. Fold gum wrapper in half lengthwise. Give it a nice, firm crease, then tear wrapper along fold line. Each half-wrapper will eventually become a link in your chain!

step 2 step 3
2. With blank side facing up, fold each half-wrapper in half lengthwise and crease.

3. Open the fold, turn the edges in toward the center crease, and refold. You should be left with a nice thin strip.

step 4 step 5
4. Fold strip in half, forming a large "V."

5. Turn both ends inward toward the center fold. You will now have a link that resembles a small "v."

step 6 finito
6. Now it's time to assemble your little links! Grab two links and insert the tabs of one link through the slots of the other link. Repeat and repeat and repeat until you run out of links. And there you have a gum wrapper chain!

(NOTE: If you're not a gum chewer, you can use other types of paper to make a chain. Skip step 1 and instead cut paper into 1" x 2 5/8" ( 2.5 cm x 6.7cm) pieces, which is the same size as one-half of a wrapper. Also note that paper that is too thin or slick will make chains that are prone to getting twisted and tangled.)

Happy Mother's Day and happy folding!

Lisa H.

New Ways with Magazines

I've always tried to be a little earth friendly. I love recycled crafts because they are so much fun, and can be a real to challenge yourself, you know? So, here's a couple of fun things you can do with magazines. Personally, I love to use fashion mags best, but you can pick whatever you wish.

One popular idea on Etsy, is re-purposed envelopes. These are easy-peasy to make.

1. You don't need a template, just save the envelopes from the greeting cards people give you. Be sure to open it nicely so nothing rips.

2. Take the envelope apart, so that all the parts are laid out flat. This will be your template.

3. Whip out those old magazines, and trace the outline of the envelope on them. Cut it out, then fold and glue at the sides.

That is all there is to it! Easy, right? Simple! Using this method, you can make envelopes of any shape you want, too! That's the fun of it. You can get pages that have similar themes, like cakes, fashion clippings, things like that, and sell them together. Or get old bridal magazines, and sell the re purposed envelopes in sets.

Another cool idea is to use the images and words in magazines for collage work. My husband does that a lot. That's so much fun because every page can be used for something!

You can also make paper beads with recycled magazines.

There are two ways you can go about this: you can do the decoupage version, which is quick and easy, or you can get your heat gun, embossing ink, and ultra thick embossing powder and do it that way. Personally, I prefer the latter, but being a full time stay at home mom, I don't have the time. So I do it with Decoupage and Diamond Effects.

First thing you'll want to do is get yourself a good paper cutter. You'll also need Diamond Effects and a Decoupage medium.

1. You're going to cut your paper into 1/2" wide strips. Or however wide you want. Just remember that the width of the paper, will be the length of the bead you make. Got it? Good. So, cut up that paper! Each strip makes one bead, so cut away my friend!

2. You're going to use just a tap of glue (I prefer a glue stick, for less mess), and glue the end of the strip, then wrap it loosely around. When you get to within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the tip, add a dab of a glue. You are going to be sitting there until this dries well enough to let go of, which is why I love my glue stick.

3. You can use wire to string the beads, then go over them with Mod Podge (decoupage medium), and Diamond Effects. But you can use anything! Depending on how tightly you wrap your beads, you can even use skewers, or something. But a nice sturdy wire works. I like to fashion a makeshift clothing line out of the wire to let the beads dry.

Voila! You have a paper bead. You can make pretty earrings, and all kinds of fun jewelry with it.
You can even paint them, or add glitter to it if you want.

Want more ideas?

Another cool thing you can do is make an end table out of magazines! Or, you can make gift bows out of them! What a cool idea! Don't feel like doing anything with them? You can always donate them to a local library, or nursing home or hospital.

Just use your imagination, and have fun!

The Craftaholic
Sweet Buddha Designs

How-To: Recycle Junk Mail into Paper Beads

bead tutorial, header

With just a few pieces of basic equipment, you can turn your boring old junk mail into cute paper beads! These lightweight, bulky beads are great for making fun chunky jewelry, festive garlands, or a bead curtain to hang in your doorway (if you're feeling ambitious!)


- Kitchen blender
- 2 Buckets
- Large bowl or tub
- Sieve
- Awl
- Cutting mat
- PVA (white) glue
- Acrylic gesso
- Acrylic paints
- Clear varnish
- Paintbrushes
- Paper for recycling.

For this tutorial, I loosely packed a 1-gallon bucket about 3/4 full with scraps, which yielded around 100 beads ranging in size from 1/2"-1".

Ideal papers to use: anything printed on standard office paper, business envelopes, take-out menus with a matte finish, kraft paper.

Papers to avoid: glossy or coated papers such as magazine pages, waxed paper, newspapers and phonebooks (the ink is very messy and gross), facial tissue, paper towels.

NOTE: I recommend that you have dedicated equipment for home recycling/papermaking, rather than use the same items you use for food preparation. A good, used blender can easily be found at a thrift shop or yard sale. My rule is: if I use it for papermaking, I don't use it for food.

beadtutorial 1

STEP 1: Tear paper into 1" scraps. Make sure you remove any staples and all plastic windows from business envelopes. Place torn scraps in a bucket, fill with water, and let it soak overnight.

STEP 2: Now it's time to make pulp! Put a couple of handfuls of paper into the blender and fill blender about half-full with water. Blend until the paper has the consistency of oatmeal, about 10 seconds. Place sieve over second bucket, and empty blender into sieve. After the pulp in the sieve has drained a bit, manually squeeze out excess water before transferring pulp to large bowl or tub. Repeat this step until all your scraps have been pulped, drained, and squeezed.

STEP 3: Add a nice big dollop of white glue to the pulp, mixing it in with your hands.

STEP 4: Roll yourself some beads! Take a bit of pulp and roll it into a little ball between your palms. This is the tricky part. If the pulp has too much water in it, it won't hold together. If it has too little water, it will be too crumbly to hold together, and your beads will break apart. Try rolling a couple beads and see how it goes. If the pulp is too wet to hold together, squeeze out more water. If the pulp is too crumbly, add back a little more water and some glue. You'll soon get a feel for the proper consistency, and it's easy to make little adjustments as you go. When in doubt, add more glue!

beadtutorial 2

Once you've formed all your pulp into little balls, let them sit in a nice, out-of-the-way spot until they are dry as a bone.

STEP 5: Put holes in your beads with an awl. Working on a cutting mat to protect your work surface, hold the bead steady between your thumb and forefinger and press the awl slowly and firmly straight down through the bead.

STEP 6: I like to prime my beads with a nice thick coat of undiluted gesso because it helps to smooth over the rough surface. This step isn't absolutely necessary, and you can go straight to decorating your beads with paint, if you want.

STEP 7: Grab your paints and brushes and go nuts!

STEP 8: When the paint is dry, you can brush on a coat of clear varnish to give your new beads a little added protection and shine.
beadtutorial 3