Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sunshine Strawberry Punch

Happy New Year's Eve! Do you have big plans for this evening?

We're staying home this year and planning a fun party. The little ones are excited and attempting to stay awake until midnight for the first time. This afternoon has been a flurry of crafting as they are creating hats for the kids, party favors and games.

I'm including one of our favorite non-alcoholic punch recipes. Fast, easy and the kids (adults, too) love it!

1 (2 ltr.) bottle of Strawberry Soda
8 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 can (16-oz.) frozen Orange Juice concentrate; thawed (I've also made this with fresh OJ)
1/2 gallon of slightly softened vanilla ice cream
Fresh Strawberries, Pineapple and Orange Slices for garnish

Mix the first four ingredients in a large punch bowl. Add garnish on the side of the bowl and float a few slices in the bowl. Voila!!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Organize Your Fabric

Whewwww, what a hectic holiday season! All orders were completed and delivered by Christmas. Thank you to all the wonderful customers that made The Crafty Panda a part of their holidays!

Now that the New Year is rapidly approaching, I'm determined to reorganize my studio to make working on new bag designs a little easier.

I purchase most of my fabric by the bolt and it arrives neatly wrapped on cardboard forms. However, there are times when I come across a beautiful piece of fabric in a yard or two or have small amounts remaining from projects or upcycling. I need a handy way to store these fabric pieces on my shelves.

If you're like me and inspired by seeing your beautiful fabric neatly displayed, check out these fabric organizers.

These organizers are made from durable corrugated plastic. The large size can hold from 1/2 to several yards; the small size is perfect for smaller yardages, strips and fat quarters. Each organizer is made of a lightweight, acid-free plastic and includes tabs to hold the fabric. They easily fit on a standard book shelf, plastic bin or in a file-cabinet drawer.

Purchase them direct from and start the New Year admiring your beautiful and organized rows of fabric. It's almost like having your own mini-fabric store and no more searching for scraps, trims and more!

Do you have a great idea for organizing fabric? Please share. I'd love to hear your ideas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Crunch Time

Happy holidays to all! I'm sewing day and night to complete all orders by Friday, Dec. 18. It's a wonderful, crazy and hectic life.

Next week should be slightly saner. Of course, the kids will be out of school for Christmas break so the fun and craziness will continue :)

I'm sketching new designs and will share these in the next couple of weeks. Next week, I will have new posts on tips for storing fabric and marketing your craft or art business.

Hope you are enjoying the magic of the season!

White sand is as close as we get to a "White Christmas" in southern Florida!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do you have a craft business?

If you have a craft business, this can be your busiest time of the year. Clients are purchasing items for holiday gifts, craft shows are every weekend and you may have a long list of items to handcraft for your personal gift list.

Juggling your business and your personal life will keep you up late into the night - especially this time of the year. It's also a great time of the year to look at your accomplishments for the past year and create goals for the New Year.

There's a great blog from a fellow Etsian, Justine, which includes wonderful ideas for managing and growing your craft business. Take a look at Justine is also offering a "Massive Craft Biz Giveaway". Get in on the fun!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Beginning to Look Like Christmas?

My studio sure looks like Santa's Workshop. The rush of finishing bags for customers and the special projects I'm making for friends and family have fabrics, trims and paints spread out on every surface!

Outside, southern Florida doesn't look like the typical Christmas card scene. These are plants on my porch, still in full bloom and showing no signs of slowing down.

Look at the interesting blue bug that landed on this plant. Only stuck around long enough for me to take a quick photo.

A friend emailed me that snow flakes were falling in Minnesota! My little ones are eager to build a snowman. One of these years we'll need to venture north of Florida for a winter vacation. Brrrrrr!!

This week my design projects are to finish a wristlet bag with a teacher theme in a gorgeous shade of red; work on a new handle design that will work as a wristlet and purse handle; and complete a tote with an adorable owl. Look for pictures later this week!

How are your handmade holiday projects coming along?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gift Ideas with Something For Everyone

I'm still behind on my gift buying/making for friends and family, but I've found some favorites on Etsy. These great items will help me give the perfect, unique handmade gifts for under the tree, or in the mail, just in time for Christmas!

Know any movie fans or new parents on your gift list? Check out this Movie Night Party Pack - Printable Download PDF Party/Photo invitations from Typewink. Also includes instructions on how to make those adorable Popcorn Cupcakes! My brother and sister-in-law had their first baby Oct. 30 and everyone is clamoring for photos and baby time. This party pack will make it easy to host a wonderful night!

Living in Florida, we love the natural colors here - blues from the ocean, greens from all the tropical foliage and NorthernFleeceWeaver has a gorgeous rug perfect for that beach house look!

And guess what? It's made from Polar Fleece! Soft and can be cleaned in the washer - doesn't get any better than that! It's at

I have a few "tween" girls on my holiday list. Wow - girls now seem more mature than I was at that age. I found Natural Lip Gloss in Remarkably Raisin at BellissimaMinerals

The makeup they crave, with natural ingredients that I feel safe in giving. BellissimaMinerals Tinted Lip Gloss recently appeared in the international publication Styl

Well, in all this happy shopping on Etsy, I spotted another gift idea for me. Hubby has received the message :)

HappyCloudMoments has a beautiful necklace in ruby (my birthstone). Passionate Gifted Necklace with Swarovski Crystal Pendant is full of charm.

Need a different chain or color, go to Let them know it's a gift and it will ship with matching gift box for free! Love it!!!

Hope you are having fun and enjoying the season!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Decorating for Christmas

This is our favorite time of the year! The holiday decorating, baking and family traditions are all highlights and create wonderful memories every season.

We decorate inside and outside for Christmas. My little ones are old enough this year to hang all the ornaments on the tree, much to their delight. Of course, the ornaments are only placed as high as they can reach on tip toes, but that bottom 2/3 of the tree is gorgeous!

Every year the manager of a local store gives away store holiday decorations from the previous year, since each year he decorates with a new theme. We happened to be in "the right place, at the right time" for these darling decorations.

Can you tell that last year's Christmas theme at the store was "Baking Homemade Memories"?

There are twenty, or so, ceramic ornaments that look like cupcakes, cookies, fancy desserts and candies. They are adorable. My daughter is fascinated by these and wants to use them after Christmas in her doll house.

We also received candles that look as if they were rolled in gum balls, shaped in giant candy canes and more. There are small, glass ornaments in shades of green and silver that look beautiful on a holiday topiary tree.

These adorable decorations have inspired me. Felt food is very popular right now. I think some darling felt ornaments that look like the baked goods we give to neighbors and friends would be perfect to go along with our goodies. I'll wrap the cookies and candies on special plates with clear gift wrap, tie it up with beautiful bows and add a few of the felt food ornaments for a unique gift.

We are having so much fun decorating this year. How's your holiday decorating going?

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm Back!

The house is so quiet today. The kids are back at school and hubby is at work.

We had a whirlwind vacation and a wonderful time. Now it's back to work since I need to catch up on my offline orders and start my handmade Christmas gifts for family and friends.

It's been such a busy year for The Crafty Panda that I have not had as much time to devote to creating things for my family. The little ones added an extra special request to their Christmas lists for Mommy to make them two new stuffed animals. This week I'm sketching out designs for a spider and for a large teddy bear.

Last year, I designed a 6 foot lizard to the squealing delight of my son. This year, he has requested a "friendly", but "real looking" spider. I'm up for the challenge!

Lizzie the Lizard - too long to fit in this photo!

My youngest wants a large black teddy bear with orange details. This week I purchased lots of anti-pill fleece (easy to work with and is better for our allergies than the faux fur) and stuffing!

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! A special thanks to my Mama and Papa for hosting an outstanding dinner, letting the kids rake leaves and jump in the piles (a dream come true for the little ones since in southern Florida we never have enough leaves to rake) and much needed relaxation for us at the "resort".

Back to gift guides this week and new designs!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Great Gift Ideas Part 2

What's your gift giving look like this year? Has the economy changed your holiday budget?

Like many, we are cutting down a bit on our gift giving this year. My Christmas budget has me thinking more and looking harder for that special gift. Luckily, is making it easier!

I had so much fun yesterday, starting my Christmas list and looking for great items on Etsy, that I'm doing a Part 2 today.

Here are three more items that caught my eye. Beautiful to look at, special and unique....isn't that what makes a perfect gift?

This is Lucky in Love, a clear resin and real 4 leaf clover pendant necklace handmade by isewcute.

Who couldn't use a little extra luck? This necklace is beautiful and definitely gets the nod from my Irish heritage!

Have someone that is special on your list, but they have just about everything? Take a look at this unique Keepsake Journal.

Lots of details and beautiful embellishments went into this functional piece of art. Perfect for gathering dreams, memories and wishes. Go to

I'm sitting at my desk writing this post in shorts from sunny Florida. Daytime highs are still in the 80s, but this fun and fuzzy hat have me longing for snow (well, almost!).

The colors are beautiful! Even if you live in the land of sunshine and orange juice, you may know someone battling blizzards in January and wouldn't they look so cute in this hat?!!

Looking forward to a thankful Thanksgiving Day! Thanks to family, friends and the wonderful supporters and fans of The Crafty Panda.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Gift Ideas

Usually, I have my Christmas shopping finished by now, but this year has been so busy at The Crafty Panda, I haven't even started! Argggghh!!

Last night, I was poking around on (a great place for handmade and unique gifts) and found some wonderful items that I just had to share with you.

Take a look at these beautiful Pinot Noir Earrings from californiablue.

Click here for more details on these earrings and beautiful jewelry:

So tempting!!

If you are dreading cold weather and looking for a bit of the tropics, check out this great bag from fortheloveofpete at 

Pina Colada anyone?

And, if your Christmas list includes girls obsessed by 18" Dolls (think American Girl, Madame Alexander, etc.) take a look at the adorable pajamas by mamastwinsees at

Too cute and perfect for the holiday season!

How's your Christmas shopping coming along this year? Anyone finished or are you starting this week like me?

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Design Earth Wise Owl

I finished the Earth Wise Owl Clutch with Handle last night. It's so cute!

This bag was a lot of fun to design. It has a wide, flat bottom so it conveniently stands on its own. There is a smart and environmentally friendly owl made from upcycled materials - wool, buttons, cotton fabric, floss on the front. Earth wise owl is holding our planet on his wing.

There is a vertical handle on the back with lots of topstitching in brown and black threads to resemble tree bark. This handle makes the bag super easy to carry. Just slide your hand all the way through and now it's hands-free.

If you want to see more photos, this bag is listed on Etsy and includes additional design details. What do you think?

Next on the design board is a wristlet bag for teacher! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sneak Peek at Owl Bag

Owls are a must have this season. I see them on clothes, artwork, jewelry and even Christmas decorations. Maybe during these tough economic times, we'd all like to be a wise owl.

I've been working on a new design for an owl zipper bag. The owl will be made from some cool upcycle fabrics and lots of stitching.

In the studio choosing fabrics. Definitely going with an earth friendly theme for this bag!

We're lucky to have an owl that occasionally perches on a branch of an oak tree in the backyard. This owl is very majestic looking. A great model for my design, but the owl I'm creating is going to be a bit more on the whimsical side.

I'm a little more than halfway finished with the owl.

After completing the owl, I'll start putting the bag together. This one will have a flat bottom so it stands on its own.

I'm also doing a new handle design which I'm excited to show you. Look for it later this week!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How to Make a Light Box the Easy & Economical Way

This morning was cloudy and foggy in Florida. Nice change from the heat and sunshine, but not so great for the photos I planned to take of my bags.

Outdoor light does wonders for product photography. When Mother Natures doesn't cooperate, a light box is a great alternative. Some fabrics I work with show better on a white background with excellent lighting, but a purchased light box or tent can be quite expensive.

Last week, there was a link in the Etsy Forums for Darren Rowse's Digital Photography School article on How to Make An Inexpensive Light Tent at Thanks to Darren (via an Etsy Post) for sharing this great information in easy to follow steps with lots of great photos!

I already have the recommended white fabric in my stash, lots of masking tape, glue (please, I have two kids - glue rules!), scissors, ruler and lights. I'm sure a box in my recycled stack will work. I just need to go through the boxes to make sure I have one the right size that will work for my smaller items, such as a wallet, plus have enough room for larger items such as handbags and totes.

I will need to go to the craft store and buy more bristol board or poster board to complete this fun project!

If you're interested in building a light tent from PVC tubes instead of a cardboard box, check out Bill Huber's great version at

Enjoy your new Light Box or Tent and take beautiful pictures any time of the day and no matter the weather!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Happy Friday & Sneak Peek at New Design for Teacher Wristlet

Happy Friday! It's school festival this weekend, so everyone at our house is busy.

This morning, I'm taking photos of my new wristlet bag design. Piping (or cording depending on where you're from) adds a nice touch of bright color and roomy square shape with rounded bottom holds all the necessities.

My children are giving their teachers wristlet bags this year filled with a few favorite pens, pencils and snacks for a great holiday gift.

Just the right size (7" x 7") to carry to school and has a handy interior pocket for holding ID card, credit card and cash.

You get the first peek!!

Look for this cute wristlet on Etsy at tonight or tomorrow for your favorite teacher!

I'm off to bake brownies. I mix in Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chips and add chopped pecans sprinkled on top. Brownies are fast to make and always delicious. The Crafty Panda Cubs will be so excited to see that Mom stopped sewing long enough to make after school treats!

Next week look for information on making a light box and more sneak peeks of my new designs. Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Design for Gift Card Holders

I stopped work on the new clutch I'm designing because I had this brainstorm for creating cute gift card holders Monday night.

A friend mentioned that she was buying gift cards to a local grocery store for a few families that need a little help and could use food more than something to sit on a shelf this year. What a great idea!

I thought this gift could use a little fun too and instead of being stuck to a cardboard hanger or put in a store envelope, I designed a holder that can be used for a variety of things after the gift card has been redeemed. It's a gift that keeps on giving!

I listed a set of four on Etsy and am working on thirty more for the holidays, friends, craft fairs and more!

These are the ones listed on Etsy!

Hang these holders from the Christmas tree for a cute and functional decoration. Add Lottery Tickets, Gift Cards, Jewelry for the holidays or use as business card holder or wallet and add your keys to the loop for when you're on the go!

I'm back to working on the denim clutch and on a new design for a handbag. Sneak peeks to come!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Publications for Inspiration

I love the family of magazines published by Stampington & Company. If you are creative in some form, there are 32 magazines designed to inspire, celebrate and challenge your skills.

One of my favorites is Where Women Create. It takes you for a behind the scenes tour of studios where artistic women in all sorts of media work. There are some awe inspiring home studios, unique workspaces and cozy nooks. Lots of fun and great ideas for organizing your studio space or adding to your wish list. I think it's fun to see where other women create.

Another favorite featuring handbags, clutch, totes and more is Haute Handbags. Artists share their talent and designs. Many of these great artists are from Etsy!

One of my goals is to be featured in this publication! I'll keep you posted.

If you create jewelry, handcrafted items, sew, blog, paper-craft and more there are publications for you. A bit more pricey than your average magazine at $14.99 USD, they are also more substantial and of better quality.

Interested in being published? Look for guidelines, calls and challenges at

Let me know your favorite publications for inspiration!

Friday, November 6, 2009

New Clutch Design

I volunteer weekly for a classroom of first graders. The girls always gather around to see what fun bag or wristlet I'm carrying to school that week.

Zipper bags and wristlets are perfect for holding my wallet, cell phone, lipstick and car keys while at school and special bonus - they easily fit in the school cubbies, so I can set my bag down while I'm elbow deep in paints or glue.

For two weeks I carried a Skulls & Crossbone flat bottm wristlet. The one below is listed in my shop. It's similar to the one I carry, but with a curved bottom.

The girls are clamoring to see a new bag and I've been craving a cute clutch with a winter theme. It's been so hot here, that carrying a little winter on my wrist would be refreshing.

My new clutch design will feature a curvy flap to resemble snow drifts. I'm measuring and sketching.

I have a bolt of beautiful blue denim which would go well with this design. The color is rich; denim wears well and can be dressed up or down.

I also pulled from my stash some Cranston Village cotton fabric that has the same rich blue as the denim and beautiful berry reds and bright white snow. It's a nature print with animals surrounded by winter woods. I'm drawn to the berry reds and cardinals.

Watch in the next week as this clutch takes shape. Happy Friday to all!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My First!

Welcome to my first blog entry!

I love to create! I have been painting, designing and sewing since I was a child and my life has always been filled with art.

I create in a beautiful design studio in sunny Florida - look for photos coming soon. I love to create bags, clutches, handbags and wristlets.

I'm always working on lots of creative projects. I have more ideas than time. I love to sew, paint, make jewelry, work with textiles and mixed's a never ending list.

The Crafty Panda enables me to do what I love and to share that passion with wonderful people around the world.

Watch me work in my studio, check out my projects from sketching to completion, look for some favorite tips and share in the creative journey.

I look forward to meeting you!

Great view of the Pampas Grass from my studio window. Love the colors!