Make: Happy Mail #3

The days grow shorter and brisker: time for tea and more snail mail! Inspired by this antique-looking floral scrapbook paper I found in my local craft store, I decided to try my hand at making envelopes. It couldn’t have been easier: just cut and fold, and voila, crisp, pretty envelopes ready for the postman. I made two patterns: one for A4 envelopes and another for A6 envelopes. For most accurate sizing, print at 108%.

What you need:


scrapbook paper (or other thick stock)

glue stick


bone folder (or something else that is good for creasing paper–a ruler, pen, etc.)

Just trace the pattern on the back of your craft paper, cut out, and fold and crease well along the dotted lines. Glue where the flaps overlap. Done.



Trinkets & Trifles

Glass ornaments, spools of thread, a wind-up Woodstock: these are our trinkets and treasures from a quick stop at an estate sale. I brought my ten-year-old with me because he likes to find gems in the rough, too. (The wind-up Woodstock is his find.) He was very good company, despite the fact that he begged for the broken-down behemoth of a piano marked “free” in the basement of the house.

The clothbound Heidi reminds me of the pretty covers of the recent Penguin Hardcover Classics series designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith, and the greenish, bluish ceramic tray looks kinda like a Russel Wright if you squint a little. Now I need to purge some of my clutter to make space for the new/old tchotchkes . . .

Make: Happy Mail #2

More happy mail! There’s time yet for summer correspondence before the hurly burly of the school year begins. To spice up your post, I’ve drawn up some non-governmental, very unofficial stamps to get your letters to their destination. Just print out this Happy Stamps link and start coloring. Then glue stick ’em to your envelopes–with proper postage, of course.


Make: Happy Mail #1



In honor of the easy hours and unhurried days of summer, I’m sending a slow hello–by U.S. mail. This is the first post of several that celebrates pen-on-paper communication. Who doesn’t want to get a letter in the mail?

For my first batch of happy mail, I painted strawberries, popsicles, sunglasses and striped bathing suits with acrylic paint on a batch of colorful envelopes (purchased individually at my local craft store). I’m not sure how long it took me–maybe no more than an ambling hour spent with paint and brush, sipping afternoon coffee and listening to the radio. That seems to be the point of this project: it’s a simple one, paced at a stroll rather than a sprint.



Penny & Jelly and a Star-Powered Craft!

Your friend is not invited to the sleepover. But you are. What do you do?

In Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars, Penny faces this dilemma, with a twist or two. The excluded friend isn’t just an ordinary pal but her fur-faced, dog-breathed bestie, Jelly. And the sleepover isn’t the any-old variety, either. It’s a special sleep-under-the-stars event at the Town Community Center.

Penny and Jelly Slumber Under the Stars

Penny meets this problem with aplomb. As a maker and dabbler myself, I love how Penny sets about finding a solution. The girl gets crafty!

Armed with yarn, cotton balls, recyclables, shaving cream, even gelatin, Penny attempts to create a substitute Jelly to attend the sleepover instead.

Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars

(A close-up of the classic toothpick-and-marshmallow combo:)

Marshmallow Jelly

OK, as you’ve probably guessed, Penny learns that craft projects don’t fix all of life’s problems. (She does find a creative solution. But I’m not giving it away.)

Nonetheless, the story inspired me to get crafty. Why not throw a starry sleepover for a couple of wacky, resourceful kids that I know and celebrate the publication of the second Penny & Jelly adventure (written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated in warm washes by Thyra Heder)?


We don’t see a lot of stars in the city so we chose to make our own. Here’s how:

You will need a standard size flashlight, 1/4″ hole punch (we used a star-shaped punch), black construction paper, scissors, white pencil, and masking tape.

Step 1: On the black paper, trace circles that will cover the lens of the flashlight.


Step 2: Sketch your starry designs. Simple constellation patterns are readily available online for inspiration–or for tracing.


Step 3: Cut out your circles and punch holes for each star in your pattern.


Step 4: You can either inset your star discs (which involves unscrewing the head of the flashlight, removing several parts, and then replacing everything–whew! involved)–or you can overlay the star disc on the lens. You may need to use masking tape to keep it in place while projecting.


Step 5: Pop some corn, set up the sleeping bags, and project the starry night onto your ceiling!


Boston-area residents: Bring your young book enthusiasts to the Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars Book Launch at Newtonville Books on July 24 at 2 p.m.

And check out all of these stops on the the official Penny & Jelly blog tour:

Extra feature: