Wrap It Up in Green!

Back when "green" was just a color, my parents were way ahead of the game when it came to eco-friendly gift giving and wrapping. Or should I say, not wrapping. That's about as "green" as it gets, right? Truly, it still amazes me. As parents of thirteen children, my parents -- um, Santa (as we celebrate Christmas in my house) -- never wrapped a single gift. Now, I've heard of other Santas not wrapping, but get this -- our Santa didn't even use gift tags. No "to/from." In a family of thirteen kids! Sounds insane, doesn't it? And yet, somehow, some way, we always knew which gifts were intended for us. Somehow, it all made sense.  I think that is a great testament to my parents!

Think this wouldn't go over so well in your house? I can't say I blame you, and so many of us enjoy the actual wrapping process and receiving a beautifully embellished gift. But there are still plenty of creative ideas for eco-friendly wrapping I'd love to share with you!  So many of you may already be done.... but I know all too well, that many of you may still have piles of wrapping to do (if not, dare I suggest, all of it?).

Well, if wrapping is still on your to-do list, here are some fantastic ideas to keep you on task.
Here's a beautiful gift wrapped in wallpaper scraps with a "to/from" tag cut in a gingerbread man shape from and old playing card. Love the festive colors!
Use wallpaper scraps to wrap your presents -- not only does it save money, but it saves waste.

 These gifts are wrapped in burlap and adorned with natural accessories and ribbon.
These charming gifts are wrapped in the same burlap fabric used for the stockings. The gifts were then adorned with natural elements like wood tags paired with bronze filigree ornaments.
Beautiful, vibrant colors in this next "wrap"!

Here's another festive gift wrapping job that uses gathered material right up into the bow.
source unknown
Alternative Papers
Who wouldn't love to receive a gift wrapped so beautifully?

You won't believe the original source of this giftwrap! That gift tag look familiar? Check this out!
If you want to see the kind of mileage "blah to TADA!" got out of this bag, you have to see the post linked to above. You won't believe it!

Here's another use of the always classic paper bag (hey, they're not just for book covers anymore) embellished with cut-outs, ornaments, bows, string, and stenciled names!

And how about this one done up pretty in newspaper? So adorable!

Tired of getting all those catalogs in the mail? Put them to good use!

Wrap with a Present
Considered wrapping a gift with, well, another gift? Say, a pretty towel, cloth napkin, tablecloth, or scarf? It's right up there with using fabric for wrap, but it's useful, too! Ever done this?
Here's a gift wrapped in a t-shirt...
creative gift wrap with a tshirt

If you decide to wrap with paper (of the traditional, paper bag, or newspaper/magazine variety), keep in mind that you may not be able to recycle it due to the tape. Instead, try creating a tightly wrapped gift and securing it with ribbon. The present can be easily unwrapped and paper recycled. Easy as that!

Do you use any of these eco-friendly options? Traditional paper your thing? Tell us what you love! Any tips for eco-friendly accessorizing or tagging? So many out there, but I'd love to hear what's worked for you!

Holiday Giveaway.... WINNERS Announced!

I am so pleased to announce the Winners of our Holiday Give-away contest.  A quick recap of the prizes, generously gifted by several talented Etsy artists:

Prize #1: A Tammy Thorpe original (purse)
Prize #2: A $25 shop gift certificate from Heather of olive and ollie
Prize #3: A day planner from Leah Johnson of The Musing Nerve
Prize #4: An upcycled hat from Chloe Hennesy of Salvador Salamander
Prize #5: A business card holder from Tori of Toriska

Readers left some great comments that mirrored my own feelings about shopping local and supporting small business. 

Some highlights:
I love knowing the money stays in my community. I love supporting someone's dream of having a business and supporting their creativity.” ~ burrito
That local shop has an owner that knows me by my name and hot food with local names to remind me that I am not in just any old town.” ~ Kathy Zeigler Lindemer
I shop local because I LIVE local. I want MY money to improve MY community and MY schools. I would much rather MY money go to helping the local community grow stronger.” - Jacqueline

Can we calculate how much we loose of life in the guise of getting a "better deal"? I want to spend my money in support of a life where we still interact as person to person. I want products that display human expression and artistry.” ~ Eve Young, Somerville, MA

"I support local for many reasons: 1) environmental: sticking to locally made cuts down on Packaging waste, shipping etc. 2) handmade is so much better than store-bought :) 3) supporting local supports the community.” ~ Holly

I like to see the faces behind what I eat and buy” ~ Glo

I assume a local business is making an investment in their community--I see that first hand now that my oldest son is on sports teams. SO I feel like we should support them as they support us.” ~ muffintopmommy

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts so eloquently in support of small business!!

Now, who won?

First we used the sequence generator from Random.org to randomize the participants.  Following that, we used Random Number Generator to then pick the winners, pictured below.

Matching this to the randomized entry list, we now have our Winners:

So yes Al, that does mean that you won the purse! Amelia has been gifted the $25 with Olive and Ollie. Marie, you will soon be in possession of a new planner to keep yourself on track. Kathy will soon be donning an upcycled hat and Jacqueline will be receiving a fancy new card holder from Toriska. 

Congratulations Winners!! I hope you all enjoy your gifts or have someone special in mind that will appreciate them if you choose to gift to another!We will be in touch with you shortly to arrange details in getting your prizes to you. 

Happy Holidays Everyone and thank you again for participating!

Homemade Holidays & Fabulous Giveaway!

November 27, 2010 marked the first ever Small Business Saturday. On the heels of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday was a day set aside to specifically show some love to local small businesses -- the restaurants and shops that support your local economy and community. Did you get involved in Small Business Saturday, either as a shop owner or patron? Tell us how!

As a busy local business owner, I am an obvious supporter of "shopping local" but I also understand that it can sometimes be difficult; running from store to store isn't always easy (doubly difficult if you have kids in tow), which is why many people land at the malls.

A solution?
Well, the internet has made it easier than ever to support not just the big-box retailers, but many of local and/or small businesses as well. And if handcrafted is what you're after, I hope most of you have at least heard of etsy, an online marketplace for all things handmade and vintage. Etsy features a search option that allows you to find local businesses selling the gifts you seek. All without leaving the comfort of your home! Sounds grand, doesn't it? (Under "ways to shop," simply click "shop local" and you're on your way!)     

A simple search of my local area brought me immediately to some beautiful gift ideas -- all under $50 -- proof that you don't have to break the bank to purchase a thoughtful gift.

Check out this gorgeous glass ornament from Sterling Glassworks! It comes in other beautiful color combinations, too!
rainbow snowball ornament
Price: $14

And how about this adorable homemade purse?
Small Purse- Zeros
Price: $30

This beautiful planter looks lovely on its own, don't you think? I can see it on a mantel or as a part of a table centerpiece.
Planter, Ivory
Price: $50

This copper bracelet would look great with jeans and a sweater. A single piece of interesting jewelry like this also looks great with sleeveless tops or dresses!
Etched Copper Cuff Bracelet - Nouveau Lilies - Sz Medium
Price: $29.99

Here is just one of the many beautiful jewelry pieces featured in Liz Blanchflower's etsy shop. Bracelets, necklaces, earrings -- you'll find them all there!
Pacific Breeze Blue Drop Earrings
price: $28

Going outside of the local area, I hit on some other beautiful finds as well. As many of you know, I'm not one for a hard copy date planner, but I know some of you are! Check out this custom one. That's one of the great things about etsy. Many artisans and crafters accept custom orders. This planner, in fact, currently features fifteen patterns to choose from!

Customized Day Planner/ Calendar

Price: $20

Want a classy clutch to take along to a wedding, social event, or night on the town?

Price: $42
Satin clutch in purse frame. Gathered champagne
Price: $42
And yes, all her bags are handmade!

My friend, Heather, of Olive and Ollie created this adorable set. It's just too cute, isn't it? Heather is becoming a bit of a celebrity and rightfully sew (sorry, couldn't resist being cheeky)! Just this week she was featured on the Gerber Babies Blog in their Holiday Gift Guide and this set below was selected by parents.com for it's holiday gift guide, "Adorable Etsy Gifts for Every Kid."  It's pretty easy to see why; her designs are fresh and cheerful. Congrats, Heather!

Custom Appliqued Rocket Lounge Set for Little Boys with Pants and Appliqued Tee by Olive and Ollie
Price: $45

I love this scarf for its versatility and it's made from eco-friendly fabric. The scarves also come in a range of color combinations, so if you click the link and can't find this one exactly, check out the rest of the shop to find one that suits you!

Fabric Scarf Necklace Cowl Accessory with Flower Pin. Pronta Laila. Fuchsia Violet Pink Lavender Plum
Price: $33

This upcycled hat had a former life in felted wool sweaters! And check out the arm warmers featured below, too. Also upcycled from sweaters, these accessories are great gift ideas for those who like to make "green" choices and look great doing it!

oatmeal wool elfen hat
price: $35

Harry and the Hippie Chic RECYCLED Upcycled ooak Reconstructed Arm Warmers Long Blue and Orange Argyle Combo

See? It's not too hard to support small businesses, now is it? So much to choose from that it's a good thing etsy features a "favorites" button once you create an account. And did you know you can add items to your amazon wishlist by installing the universal wish list button? Give your friends and family gift ideas and encourage them to shop small and local for you!

So excited that some of the fabulous shops featured in this post have been uber-generous in offering some prizes to you, our readers! We are so thrilled by and grateful for their participation. We hope you'll visit their etsy shops and show your support. Their work is beautiful and we think you'll agree! (Of course...why else would we have picked them, right?)

Here's what you can win (and huge thanks to these talented folks)!
  1. Featured purse by Tammy Thorpe
  2. A $25 shop gift certificate from Heather of olive and ollie
  3. A day planner from Leah Johnson of The Musing Nerve
  4. An upcycled hat from Chloe Hennesy of Salvador Salamander
  5. A business card holder from Tori of Toriska
That's FIVE chances to win!

Enter our giveaway -- it's simple! There are two ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me why you love to support local and/or small businesses, or
2. "Like" Storibook Designs on facebook and then leave a note stating why you love to support local and/or small businesses.

Whether you leave a comment here or on the facebook page, please remember to leave your email address so we can contact you if you're the winner! You have until noon eastern standard time on Saturday, December 18, 2010 to enter.

Please share this on facebook, retweet, and email friends to let them know and show your support of these artists!

Winners will be chosen at random! Good luck!

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree Topper!

Decorating for the holidays gives you ample opportunity to express your personal style, start or continue family traditions, and truly make your home a festive, comfortable place to simply relax, enjoy, and spend time with loved ones.

If you choose to add a tree into the decor mix, you undoubtedly face an important question: to top or not to top? Some claim that a tree is not a tree without a topper -- that the topper is, in fact, the icing on the cake..the cherry on the sundae. Sure, there are some beautiful trees out there that go topper-less. But rather than debate the issue, let's take a look at some pretty cool toppers, both traditional and well, zany to say the least!

The star...a classic. Perfect for a traditional look in a traditionally styled home. You can't go wrong with a star. From elegant to rustic, sparkly to down-home, star toppers come in all varieties to suit your decor. Are you a star person?

  Traditional Home via Knotting Hill Interiors

Here's a creative take on a traditional topper: seemingly homemade bells garnished with holly!

Bunches of fresh holly and large gold temple bells top this tree for a bold use of traditional materials and color.

This mini-tree takes prominent position in front of those gorgeous windows. Works great with the ceiling's height and the glass finial topper draws the eye up to those beautiful moldings!

Now on to a few funky options! Check out this disco ball! Yes, disco ball! It's hung from the ceiling and hovers directly over the tree's top. See the second picture for a close-up! I wouldn't have thought disco ball for a tree topper but it really works for this one. And need I draw your attention to the turquoise?

Southern Living via Knotting Hill Interiors

A disco ball hangs from the ceiling and floats just above the crown of the tree. A bow with long ribbon tendrils gives this tree-topper a real wow factor.

Granted, it's a star, but made out of sheet music. How's that for adding a personalized touch to your holiday decorating? Have a musician in the family? Simply love music? Why not consider creating your own topper to reflect your family's hobbies or interests?

Music Star Tree Topper

Okay, this one might be a little too out there for my personal taste, but I just had to share it. Peacock feathers! We can only see a little of the tree's trimmings in this image, but it's easy to tell that the feathers fit right in. Do you go this bold in your design?


And speaking of bold, here's another take on the star theme...except it's a clock. Perhaps a nod to a new year about to roll on in, this tree is literally decked out in clocks and coordinating traditional ornamanents.

And for the word-lover, an initial letter topper might be the perfect fit. Love that the tree itself appears fairly traditional in style with a few letter pops throughout, including a fun "ho ho" to greet the jolly man himself!

And if you're an animal lover with a best friend like I do, maybe you've thought about a topper like this one. I love my little guy, but not sure I could go this far! How about you?

So what do you think? To top or not to top? And how do you top? Would love to hear from you and see pictures of your results. Visit the facebook page of Storibook Designs and post a photo of your tree. The most beautiful tree may win a prize!

Blog Bites: Designing the Perfect Mantel

Fireplace mantels often stump people. How to accessorize? How much? With what? And while all of a room's elements may be perfectly in place and creating just the right look and feel, a fireplace mantel has the potential to detract from that. I have a few basic rules I follow: (1) aim to occupy at minimum two-thirds of the visual space above the mantel, (2) vary the heights of the accessories, and (3) keep it clean (or related; in other words, resist the temptation to just plant things there to take up space)!

Clients often struggle with the selection and placement of art and accesories, particularly when it comes to the fireplace mantle.  Typically the focal point in the room, everyone wants to get this right!  Working with my niece on a on a fireplace "redo" (pictures to be posted in a separate post), I thought this would be the perfect time to search for great posts on this topic.

Cristin of Simplified Bee offers some great tips on decorating mantels, which, she starts off by saying, are a natural focal point. All the more reason not to overdo it when accessorizing. One of my favorite tips from Cristin's post is to keep the design "balanced and proportional." Take a look at these designs to see why these work so well.

The high ceilings in this room demand accessories with real presence. In this traditional room, I love the series of six botanical prints in a symmetrical pattern and balanced by vases on either side of the mantel.

Mantel by Norman D. Askins, original photo source unknown, via Simplified Bee

While it's difficult to tell how tall the ceilings are in this room, it's easy to see that the artwork doesn't overwhelm the space. The art takes the primary position, and the varying heights and textures of the accessories move the eye across the space of the mantel -- a very clean, crisp look that allows the gorgeous fireplace to truly soak in all the attention.

 via Simplified Bee, Photographer: Erik Goldstein

The funky, modern style of this living room calls for some funky above the fireplace, too! A vibrant mirror takes center stage. While this design is nearly symmetrical, Cristin points out the seashells on the right and the bird figurine on the left. A truly symmetrical design wouldn't feel right in a room like this. Do you agree?

Here's a great example of that two-thirds "rule" I mentioned. Not that anyone is going to (or should) get out the measuring tape, but this looks pretty close, right? And take note of the varying heights of the candlestick and crystal figures. If you imagine this differently, with the same accessories on either side, would you like it as much? I love the balance and proportion that was achieved by using a "lighter" accessory on the sofa side of the mantle.


Our next post, Mantel Mania, comes from The Lettered Cottage, blog of Layla and Kevin Palmer. Here's a simple design for a mantel that covers a lot of horizontal space. Botanical prints are spread out and displayed at different heights and the natural motif is picked up in accessories, including crisp, white (if not a tad floppy) tulips. What do you think of this? Do you like it or is something off to you? 

Because I personally have a hard time seeing anything but the octagonal frame, I had to remove it with a little Photoshop magic; take a look, below.  Ahhhh, much better.  I still am not sure about the resting frame.  I love the idea of layered frames but feel it is more effective when the size is varied.  Do you agree?

This next asymmetrical arrangement uses a mirror and prints on one side balanced by accessories and vinyl wall decals on the other. Cool, chic, modern, and goes perfectly with the style of the fireplace itself.

Layla helped client, Courtney Baker, with the design for this beauty. The molding above the mantel wasn't originally there, but creates such a dramatic effect. I would be inclined to go with lighter and more unusual accessories but wanted to showcase the gorgeous look that can be created by extending your "mantle" up to the ceiling.

A little bit of a diversion from my "blog bites" intent, I just have to include a few more posts from The Lettered Cottage. This year, Layla and Kevin set out to change up their home's mantel design with the change of seasons; and they blogged about each one along the way. Here's a little something just for fun!



Summer Mantel Images: The Lettered Cottage 


Fall Mantel Images: The Lettered Cottage

And perfectly appropriate for our current season; here are a couple gorgeous winter stunner's.

photo courtesy of Southern Living

So tell me, is this a decorating area you have struggled with?  I hope this has given you some new ideas.  A always, if you have some great ideas on how will you be changing your mantel decor this season or great tips to create great looks, we'd love to hear them!
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Craftsmanship: custom artistry by hand

Craftsmanship: custom artistry by hand
At Storibook Designs we create custom designs by hand; here it is not just sewing, it is art!