Gift Bags from Newspaper

I love to recycle and re-purpose – if I can figure out a way to make something that would normally be trashed into something useful or beautiful – or both – I’m up for the challenge.

I’ve been thinking about this project for a while now and finally committed myself to actually having a go.  It came about this way…..

Do you remember I made a bunch of small gift bags a while back.  I wanted to make some really big ones, you know, the size of a good shopping bag and I had figured I would need six 12 x 12 sheets per bag.  Using quality specialist paper would have made the cost prohibitive – I mean $24 just for the paper and I haven’t even put the time in yet …. you can buy big gift bags at the moment for $2.50…..

With my creative mojo firing on all cylinders I had the genius idea I could make them from newspaper – the big giant ones.

I used the Otago Daily Times that I stole from YD’s place when I was cat-sitting the lovely Stanley.  [I stole it for this purpose, I don’t read papers – they rarely have anything good or uplifting in them and I don’t want to live with images of all the horrible stuff that the media calls ‘news’]

An open double page measures 80 x 57 cm – I’m sorry I can’t convert that off the top of my head for you non-metric folk…… perhaps someone else might in the comments 🙂  Anyhow, it’s big!

So a couple of evenings back, I covered the floor with more bits of newspaper and hunkered down with a container full of blood red poster paint, a brush and a water jar:


I painted two double page spreads with a thick layer of paint and left them to dry overnight.

The next day I turned the paper over and ran wrestled a length of contact paper over the page.  [Contact paper is used to cover books and shelves – sticky on one side and a plasticky / wipeable finish on the other.]  I used this to give the newspaper some strength and durability.


I worked out my score lines for width and depth and top and bottom ……. ooooh headaches!!

And made a pair of bags:


I like that you can still see the newsprint showing through – but the photo is not true to the red I used – think blood red and you’ll be closer to the truth of it.

With the basic bag hanging together quite well it is embellishment time – Hurrah!!

I rummaged through my paper stash and found a 12 x 12 vintage collection that I purchased in a sale a year or two back and have never known what to do with – I chose two different pictures and roughly cut out around the images and stuck one on each bag.


Using white, black and gold pens I highlighted the edges of the cut outs, faux stitched outside the edges and outlined different aspects of the woman.

Lace was hot glued all around the top edges and red organza ribbon employed for the handles


Next I punched out some hearts using off-cuts from the vintage girl paper and shiny metallic gold and layered some:


And stuck ’em on both the front XmasBag5a

and the back of the bags


The hearts were given faux stitching in black pen.

So, looking good you say – finished?

Nope.  Remember, if a little embellishment is good, a lot is better…


The fabric flowers are made from organza and curtain netting – great fun to make as it involves a lighted candle and charring melting ….. 🙂

The beaded flowers I learnt to make from someone on the internet two or three years ago and I’ve completely forgotten who it was – but they too are fun to make.  It’s just beads and twisted wire and they hang freely and move about which adds another layer to the whole thing.

I think they are finished – but there is still three weeks til Christmas, you never know what might happen to them between now and then…..

GiftBag Finished

I think they came out quite well for a first try  – I learned lots and know how to do it now….

Thanks for coming by today – I love that you did 🙂

The Versatile Blogger Award

My bloggie friend Wendy over at Quarter Acre Lifestyle just nominated my blog for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Wendy is a fellow kiwi and has a great blog recording her almost self sufficient life-style – all done with humour, honesty and good intent!  She blogs about her garden and random daily doings, reblogs interesting posts and also puts up really great recipes and links to healthy and yummy foods – I’ve squirreled away a few of her recipes now and am addicted to the great nut and seed loaf she introduced me to a few weeks back..

There are rules around these awards and I am copying and pasting from Wendy’s blog to ensure I do it all correctly 🙂

“When you consider nominating a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.

Honor those bloggers who bring something special to your life whether every day or only now and then.”

VBA Rules

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.  (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

So, I’ve said thank you, I’ve given you the link to Wendy’s blog – please do go and have a chat with her, she’s so lovely you won’t regret it.

I have to name 15 names – that’s a lot – I’ll leave it til last I think!

So7 things about myself:

I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was a child, then I wanted to be an opera singer – I can do neither.

I love the ocean with a passion – but you probably knew that already.

I am an early bird, usually up by 5am, sometimes earlier, it’s such a beautiful time of day and it’s often my most creative time.

I love red boots  – I love any colour boots!

I am a deep thinker who once took life too seriously.

I love all animals, but am essentially a cat person.

I love living alone.

I could do 15 of these!!

But now I need to find 15 bloggers to nominate for this award.

There’s an aspect to this that I am uncomfortable with because I do not want to miss out any of the people whose blogs I enjoy.  And also, I know some bloggers do not accept these awards – I would have been one of them, but Wendy’s words changed my mind:

“I like doing it because it is acknowledgement to others that I really enjoy their blogs, it is a compliment. So…if you cannot for any reason accept your nomination please accept the compliment (nothing more needs to be done.)  I enjoy all the blogs I read so if your name isn’t here know I do appreciate all of the ones I follow.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!   🙂

I went through the list of blogs I follow and chose the blogs I read and enjoy regularly that meet my personal criteria of having substance, humour, honesty and interesting content.

Some are blogs I’ve been reading for as long as I’ve been blogging – others are newer friends, one is very new – but I made a connection!  Some publish on a regular schedule, some are more like me and publish ad-hoc as and when the feeling takes them – others are quiet for a long time between posts – which makes them even more appreciated when they do reappear!

If I named you and you don’t accept these awards, I understand – just ignore it, but please do accept the compliment 🙂

And if I missed you, its only because I wasn’t allowed to list 16 blogs!

VB #7

Teddy and Tottie

A Random Harvest

The Road to Serendipity

Life Is A Camino

Gardening Nirvana



My Dogablog


Patricia Awapara Blog

Junguemail Contessa

The Top 10 of Anything and Everything

Contadina K

Marking Our Territory

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!  🙂

Smallest Things

It’s raining today – still warm, but wet and grey.  Typical spring weather really, yesterday I found I had a tinge of pink on my arms and shoulders after an hour sitting in the garden – medium rare 🙂

I’m been working on 180 gsm water colour paper – but from now on will move to 300 gsm – I don’t like the amount of buckle and curl on this lighter paper – you’ll see it in the photo.

It’s because of all the different mediums I’m playing with.

Acrylic paints, papers, stamps, pencils, pens and inks.

It makes for an interesting texture, there’s loads of ‘layers’ so the eye has a sense of depth.

As so often happens with me, I thought I was painting one thing and ended up painting something else – but I quite like her:

Smallest Things1a

The legend is a quote from AA Milne – it’s in one of the Winnie-the-Pooh books, but I can’t remember which one ‘Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart’

Painted on A4 paper, ready for framing – she is going into the shop today!  🙂

You will have noticed the watermark?  I’ve been warned that there are people out there who steal your work and pass it off as their own.  I knew this before, but didn’t think that anybody would bother to help themselves to mine – but apparently they have and so now I have to do this for anything I load onto my blog or pinterest .

On the up side – I am flattered that my work is considered good enough to steal.  Thank you for the compliment 🙂

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did 🙂

Sitting In The Sunshine – Musings on a Challenging Weekend

‘The Nightmare of Being Technologically Challenged’   I typed the title for my new post and settled in for a bit of a gripe.  It was a challenging weekend trying to sort out all the glitches that had surfaced in my Etsy shop – I thought it was all going way too smoothly!

Luckily for us all, I immediately got interrupted – and leaving my computer, went off to take coffee in my tiny courtyard garden with YD.

The coffee was hot and strong – a bit like the early summer heat – and the remnants of my grumpy mood evaporated like drops of water on a hot stone as we inhaled the scent of jasmine and lavender

Courtyard Garden

Can you see Sidd?  His head and cap are just visible under a drooping raceme of jasmine.

[I know it’s not really a raceme, but it’s a good word and needs using!]

And yes, though are weeds in the foreground. [Hangs head in shame]

YD had lots to share from her week and we chatted and laughed and let the sun warm us until the coffee was gone and then we headed off to the post office to send Elaine her prize, the limited edition print of ‘Be a Butterfly’, and also to have a look through a shop selling local artisans work.

We heard a sad story there – the owner will close at Christmas as business is too slow to keep going.  Her stock is stunning, she keeps her prices at an affordable level [which means she isn’t adding a huge mark-up] but she can’t compete with on-line sellers.

I felt guilty.  I had spent last week cat-sitting and making sure my shop was stocked with pictures and cards………   

The shop opened on Thursday and my first day was one of great happiness!  Maybe what happened next was karma for being part of the movement that is sending real stores out of business….

Because on day two it all went wrong – there were glitches and problems galore until I was tearing my hair out and found myself on Sunday raising my voice to an automated customer service robot over the phone demanding to speak to a real person.

And blow me over and away, I got a real person and we began to solve the issues!  🙂

Take note dear readers, when you are stuck with a virtual customer service person, get hot under the collar and demand ‘a real person’  and you will maybe get one.  I guess they must be programmed now to respond to irate customers by handing us on!

Anyway the issues are solved and all is well again in my world.

Yesterday, with YD returned from her travels and Stanley once more settled in with his mum and Orlando no longer having to sniff out where I’d been going constantly [coming back smelling of another kitty doesn’t really go down that well with spoilt, over-indulged chappies] I was free to try and find my creative mojo again.

I’m still obsessed with faces and seem to have combined that and my obsession with the ocean into one place:


Painted on A4 160 gsm water colour paper, she is definitely mixed media – acrylics, modelling paste, paper, pencils, charcoal and pens.

The legend reads ‘Listen, how the wild sea calls to me’  She is heavily textured with all the paste and needs to be in a frame to really look her best.

There is much about this piece that is successful or interesting, but my personal feeling is that her stare is too challenging to be marketable – I think she is maybe channelling my weekend mood….. 🙂

Tomorrow I shall start again.  It will be a new day and the sun will still be shining.  The scent of jasmine will still waft in through open windows and with no distractions maybe my paint brush will make something beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by today, I love that you did 🙂

……And The Winner Is …….

It’s the 14th – well, for we who dwell in the land that sees the first rays of the sun on any new day, it is  – and today is the day!

The Contented Crafter Etsy Store is open and the draw has been drawn!

There was one slight glitch in my plan and that was YD’s going out of town for the week – she was to be the guest drawer.  So it was down to me as Orlando is no use in that department at all and everybody else was at work.

Every person who commented had their name written in my lovely scrawl on a piece of cut up paper from my notebook – thirteen in all:


If you can’t see your name, it’s because it is underneath somebody else’s – it is there I promise – I just didn’t think to lay them all out side by side.  Sometimes it’s your blog name and sometimes it’s your actual name – just depending on which one fell out of my head as I started writing………

Here is the chosen receptacle, my favourite ‘shabby chic’ style coffee mug:


Here are the names in the receptacle


They don’t take up much room!

I put my hand over the top of the mug and shook it energetically, then, without looking, rummaged around and pulled out a strip of paper


Congratulations to Elaine over at fingerprintwriting.

Elaine, you will need to email me your address so I can get your numbered and signed limited edition print of ‘Be a Butterfly’ away to you


Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment, I so appreciate all your good wishes, advice and cheering on!  Hugs to you all!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did!  🙂

On Kitties and Cooking and Healthy Living

I have spent the past week pretty much involved with dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s – sometimes getting muddled and crossing my i’s and dotting my t’s – just because I had the really good idea of opening an Etsy shop!

It’s been quite demanding – requiring me to think everything through and do a lot of research into really boring matters like the cost of postage  and how best to package things.  You know, somebody might actually want to buy something and then you have to not let your first customer down …..

Anyhow, today I had other things to attend to, so I stopped all that thinking and fussing and decided to spend the morning in the kitchen replenishing my dwindling supply of healthy edibles.

It’s all very well being a Contented Crafter intent on becoming an artist – and the hours at play are fun and sometimes even rewarding – but neglecting ones healthy lifestyle choices, not so good!

I had rushed off first thing this morning to see to Stanley – Stanley is YD’s companionable, confident and highly opinionated puddy-cat.  YD has taken herself off to Christchurch with tLK for a week of racing and socialising and general good times and I am in charge of the kitty.

This is a photo of Stan catching a few zzzz’z in a reusable grocery bag:

Stan in Bag

And this is Stanley resting a while on the guest bed – luckily no guest in need at that particular moment.


When left in charge of said kitty, I try to spend an hour or so sitting with him and, it must be said, he has come to expect this.  After my flying visit this morning he accompanied me to the car belligerently demanding to know where I thought I was going because he was up for some good times if I cared to sit down on his couch for a bit.

I declined his charming invitation, promising to return later in the day and canoodle with him and left.

I have stuff to make!

My new friend Wendy over at quarteracrelifestyle recently published a post which had me all excited to try and yesterday I had finally made it to the local Organic Store to refresh my depleted supplies of walnuts, chia seeds, coconut chips, rolled oats etc etc etc.

Already in process was the mix for a nut and seed bread and another mixture of pepitas and sunflower seeds had been put into water for activating – both these tasks done around 10.30 last night.

I put my seed bread into the oven, mixed up a batch of organic yoghurt, put it in the yoghurt maker and got on with my muesli mixture.

I dry roasted the rolled oats, browned the sesame seeds and toasted the coconut chips.  I do all this in my large super modern cast iron fry pan, just moving the bits around over a moderate heat until the colour starts to change and, in the case of the seeds and coconut the oils are released and a delicious aroma starts to fill the air.

I have learned not to walk away from this job.  Once I went to put something in my craft room, got side tracked and some fifteen or twenty minutes later, smelling the unmistakable odour of charred oatmeal rushed into a smoke filled kitchen and a pan of black inedible chaff.  Not good!

When all the browning and toasting and releasing has been done I toss everything together along with a goodly amount of cinnamon, a couple of cups of activated nuts and seeds and voila, breakfast is taken care of for the next couple or three weeks.

With the muesli made it was time to turn the bread – apparently something that this loaf needs, so I’m all for doing it right and proper – well, the first time anyway.  This was a bit fraught however, as it is perfectly possible my mixture was a bit on the wet side and while the loaf exited the pan easily enough, turning it and getting it back in was a bit trickier – it wanted to crack and fall apart.

But, “No!”  I said firmly and hustled it, almost intact, back into its container.  Another 20 minutes in the oven for it and I made myself a lovely batch of Cheese and Oatmeal cakes.

This is my bread substitute and I make up a batch a couple of times a week.  If you are a long time reader of my blog you may possibly remember a post about this back in March I think.  Its a recipe I’ve been making on and off since the 70’s.

My kids were raised on these things – and sourdough bread made from a real sourdough bug!  [Ask YD about that and watch her face wrinkle up in disgust]  Once upon a time I was a real back to nature, clean, green, don’t-eat- it-less-you-made-it hippie mom and my kids ate food that was Good For Them!   Then I lost my way a bit in the teaching and teenage years [shudder] but now I’m kind of back there again…..

Anyhow I have recently modified the recipe a tad, and now add a good teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the mix which just about blows my head off, but sure does keep me regular.   🙂

The cakes are made, the bread is done and now the activated seeds go into the oven to dry out and crisp up.

At this point I deliberately toss a couple of seeds onto the floor.

Why?  Because throughout this entire process I have been maneuvering around another pussy cat, a marmalade one this time, who has been shadowing my every move, purring encouragingly and making the odd dart at nothing to get his point across.  Something has to be dropped so that he can play too.

Now I have time to get down on the floor and hunt out the seeds that get shot under the rug, the cooker, the fridge.  We both spend a large part of this activity with our heads down and butts up peering hopefully for a needle in a haystack.

After a bit he has lost all his seeds, I’m bored and he wanders off to have a wash.  I check the remaining seeds, give them a stir and turn the oven off.

I take my three tier seed sprouter from the window sill where the alfalfa and energy mix have been enjoying a couple of hours of light and transfer them to three tubs.  I eat some as I finish they are so crisp and juicy.  This is a major player in my daily salad and I credit fresh sprouted seeds, chia seeds and good old fashioned chicken soup with my full return to health in less than six months.  That and deleting all processed sugar and most forms of wheat from my diet.

And that’s it, I’m done.  I have my staple foods ready for the rest of the week.  There is still chicken stock from my last batch in the freezer and the fruit bowl overflows with all kinds of salady yummies.

Now I can go play – the paints are calling!

But oh no – I forgot about the other kitty.



Better go – I think he’s waiting!

Thanks for coming by today, I love that you did 🙂