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Bridesmaid “Ask” Bags

It’s official – I now have a wonderful set of ladies to help me celebrate our big day! I’m so excited and happy that they all said yes! The special group consists as my cousin as my maid-of-honor (I was hers two years ago for her gorgeous winter wedding), my future sister-in-law, and three of my closest friends.

Because they all mean so much to me, I wanted to find a special way to ask them if they would do me the honor of being by my side next September. I thought that a nautical themed bag would be the perfect touch!

I bought 5 canvas tote bags at my local craft supply store, as well as some navy fabric paint. I’ve always loved Sea Bags, particularly the ones with large numbers, and thought it would be a cute way to easily remember our wedding date! Typography and numbers will be a very important part of the aesthetic for our wedding, so the large numbers start to help enforce this theme.

I printed templates using the same typeface used on our Save the Dates, and cut out stencils. I then traced and hand painted each of the bags. A tiny “2014″ demonstrates the date, but I think that the bags have a more abstract numerical look – unless you knew they were meant to represent a wedding date, perhaps you’d never guess!

I attached the little note above to the top of each bag with a poof of turquoise and swiss dot tulle.

Inside each bag I included a bridal “cheat sheet” which had all of the information each lady would need, as well as a few simple rules. I also put together a set of swatches of preferred dress colors to choose from. I thought it would be an easy reference to bring out shopping!

The soft grey-green, white, and navy are our core wedding colors, with a punch of bright coral every so often. I love the coral envelopes I was able to find at the Paper Source, and am moderately obsessed with the little turquoise brads used to create the book and swatch package.

Overall, I’m really happy with how the bags turned out, and thrilled that everyone said yes!!

Polka Dot Boxes

I have always had a thing for boxes, which I think may stem from a compulsive need to collect and organize. Well at least collect. The organizing seems to be somewhat lagging recently. Regardless, after learning to build paperboard boxes in a packaging design class, I started making them in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and found it was a really fun and inexpensive way to be creative.

I hadn’t built any in a while, but after spending what seemed like hours gazing longingly at Kate Spade’s new spring collection (which I am convinced is my ideal wardrobe) I decided that I should express my need for polka dots through paper and not a $250 blouse. So I started drawing, and one entire sharpie later, I was ready to build.

The larger box is a 4 inch cube, and the smaller is 2x2x3 inches. The paper for the exterior of the larger box and interior of the smaller is brisol board that I hand colored with polka dots. I liked the idea of a looser, slightly free form dot for this – it seemed a little more whimsical and fun. The exterior of the smaller and interior of the larger is a pale cartruese charcoal paper. Both papers have a nice heft to them, which helps decrease any rippling when they are glued.

The pom-pom for the top of the little box is made out of a black dotted tulle, which I happened to have on hand and thought would be really cute. I just cut multiple layers – probably 15 total – and sewed them into the shape I wanted. To get it to properly adhere to the box I sewed a small piece of paper to the bottom and then glued that to the box – the tulle didn’t want to stick to the paper.

To build the boxes, the basic steps are as follows:

1. Measure and cut (with an exacto) the base for the box. This should look essentially like a cross, with the bottom of the box in the center and the sides spread out from each edge.

2. Score along the edges of the base, and fold the sides up. Hold in place with masking tape, cut to make a smooth edge.

3. Follow the same process to create the top.

4. Measure and cut the material for the shoulder (the piece inside the box that holds the lid in place). This can be done either as individuals panels or as one whole piece that is scored and folded. I generally go with the first technique as it allows more room for measurement error – I’m not an engineer, nor was I blessed with particularly good math skills.

5. Wrap exterior bottom, leaving flaps for overlap on 2 edges, and 2 edges straight.

6. Wrap interior of lid.

7. Wrap exterior of lid.

8. Wrap shoulder. Glue inside of box.

9. Make silly pom-pom and decorate accordingly.

A few tips:

- Don’t even try making one of these without the correct glue. I use archival bookbinding glue, which they sell at speciality craft stores. It is fantastic. I nerdily sing its praises while wrestling the paper onto the box. It lies smooth, dries quickly, and really decreases the possibility of unsightly wrinkles and airbubbled.

- Plan ahead and try the fit often. I frequently have to trim edges to get the right fit and you don’t want to get to the end and realized your lid doesn’t fit.

- Don’t use cheap paper. It just looks cheap. Splurge on the nice thick stuff and it will make your life a lot easier.

- Replace your exacto blade often. It really helps keep your edges and corners clean.

Just have fun and be creative! I’ve made these type of boxes with all different papers and with fabric, and in all different shapes. My favorite are those in odd proportions – the cubes (or almost cubes) were fun for this, but I’ll do something a little more complicated next time. Let me know what you think!

Holiday Corporate Packaging

For the holidays, I packaged some of my favorite treats for my team at work. A 12x3x3 white box provided a simple exterior, and multiple glassine bags tied with twine held sweets inside. A belly band helped keep a sleek exterior while lending the presentation some festive cheer.

Inside the box were tags to show what was included – dark chocolate sea salt caramels, spicy cinnamon roasted almonds and peppermint bark. Good way to get into the holiday spirit, yes?

Recipe Jars

Yes, I know – the jar gift. Sold ubiquitously across every gift store around the holidays. But these were so fun to make, and I heard the result was delicious. I followed a traditional coca brownie recipe and basic blondie recipe for the base, and then added a little spin to make toasted walnut cinnamon dark chocolate chip brownies and cranberry white chocolate blondies.

The tags and labels were fun and fast to design – I had to test the recipes before giving them as gifts, so I photographed the resulting product and whipped up a little branding for the jars. The tag and label for the top are just simple paper that I applied so that it could be removed and the jar could be reused.

I tied the tags with twine, which I thought was a cute addition. Next time I make these I plan on using vintage canning jars and just replacing the rubber seal – I think they would be slightly more appealing. But these were a fun first shot! Careful, though, they don’t travel all that well!

The recipes for the base brownie mix and blondie mix are adapted from smitten kitchen

Toasted Walnut Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Chip Brownie Mix

(yes, it is a mouthful of a title, but it just gets better with each word!)

Into the Jar

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup walnut pieces, toasted
1/2 cup good dark chocolate chips

To include in the attached recipe
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold

Details to be included in the recipe for the jar
Combine wet ingredients listed above

Pour contents of jar into a bowl, mix to combine, and add to the wet ingredients.

Pour batter into greased 8×8 inch pan, bake at 325 for 20 to 25 minutes

Let cool completely before slicing

Cape Cod Blondies

(blond brownies with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips)
Into the jar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

To include in the attached recipe
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Details to be included in the recipe for the jar
Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl

Stir together contents of jar

Add contents of jar to wet ingredients. Mix until just combined

Pour into a greased 8×8 inch pan, bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes