Thursday, July 16, 2009

How to Make a Paper Bag Album

Start with a stack of paper bags, folded shut.
Stack them alternately, open end, closed end. As seen below:

Now, sew them together through the middle axis, or alternately you can staple them together. I used a big bulldog clip to hold mine together and punched holes in them with my Crop-A-Dile. Then I sewed them together. Finally, I laced paper punched flowers through the holes.
Fold your album like a book, with the sewing line as your binding (as in a book.
Decorate the cover. Put a clear adhesive laminate film over the cover for stability. (Contact Paper will do fine.)

Decorate the inside pages and enjoy!

Yet Another Page Kit

Nuri Wallace is offering cute page kits at Etsy. I think this one is really adorable...

I'm many of you buy page kits through the Internet? After looking at my new home in the Washington DC area, I've decided I'll be doing a lot more shopping online. I couldn't find a LSS...much to my disappointment. I thought about saying, "I won't move here! There are no local independent scrapbook stores nearby!" But gee, that seemed a little rash.

There are two chains--Michaels and A. C. Moore. I like chains, but I love the individuality of independent stores as well.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Page Kits

My friends at The Scrapbook Tree have cute page kits available for mail order. Reasonably priced, too. This is a sample of how you can make one of them up. Check the rest out at

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

4th of July Page Kit Now Available--

This now available from Along with journaling tips and art.
You can download this file for free for a limited time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Answers to Your Questions

I love your mail, and recently, a lot of you have been asking me questions after reading Cut, Crop & Die:

1. Will Detective Chad Detweiler appear in Book #3?

Yes. But I won't tell you if Kiki and Detweiler get together. My lips are sealed. Tell YOU want them to get together?

2. What happens with Sheila and Police Chief Robbie Holmes?

Um, it's complicated. Sheila is definitely in love, but she's also a very inflexible person, isn't she?

3. Will Kiki stay in St. Louis?

As some of you know, my husband David and I are moving to Washington DC.

But Kiki will stay in St. Louis. At least for the time being. That said, I really think Kiki should
* go on a scrapbooking cruise
* or a scrapbooking retreat
* or to a big scrapbooking convention, don't you? Let me know! Write me at

4. Will Paper, Scissors, Death and Cut, Crop & Die be available on Kindle?

My publisher has told me they have submitted the books to Amazon for inclusion on Kindle. However, it's up to Amazon to decide how FAST they put the books on Kindle. I suggest you let Amazon know if you'd like them to hurry up.

5. Will Paper, Scissors, Death and Cut, Crop & Die be available on audio books?

We're working on this, but it's not going to happen any time soon. (Probably not in 2009.)

6. Why are there two covers of Paper, Scissors, Death shown on some bookseller sites?

Because one is the large print version.

7. When will Book #3 in the series be released?

In Spring of 2010.

Cute Coaster Album

How to make your own coaster album:

1. Decide which coaster will be your first, second and so on in the album chain. Also decide what will be your album "cover." You might want to play with your shapes to decide this!

2. Now decide how you will attach your album "pages" (coasters) together. This will help you determine what sorts of holes you'll need and where they'll go. You might even wish to draw a small thumbnail sketch of your album so you remember where your attachment points will be.
3. Cover your coasters with paper. Again, think in terms of pleasing patterns! I chose to alternate pink and green. Also, think about where your photos will go. I decided my cover will not have a photo. All the inside pages will. On the green page with the big heart, the photo will go under the heart. On the other pages, the photos will go above the words "dreams" and "love."

4. Do the same for your back sides. (Uh, of the album! You know what I mean!)

5. If you decide to have an image extend beyond the edge of the coaster, remember it will show its reverse side on the reverse side of the coaster. For example, next to my cute little tree, I have a "sun" with a heart in it. The reverse of the "sun," the round shape, also shows when I flip the album over. So I had to cover both sides of the "sun" with paper. (You can see what I did by looking above at the album, the far left coaster shows the backside of the "sun.")

6. Punch your holes, add ribbon. Enjoy!

TIP: You'll notice that the second coaster from the left above doesn't have flat paper. I should have spread my glue across the center of the coaster rather than just around the edges. My bad.

Paper Piecing Tips

Paper piecing is fun and easy. Over the years, I've gotten better at it. Here are some of my best tips--and I invite you to share yours as well!

1. Make two copies of your pattern--always. That way, when you cut the pieces apart, you can tell what goes where.

2. Find patterns by going to "google," clicking on images, and putting in "line drawing + WHATEVER." Of course, you'll change the word "WHATEVER" to rabbit, deer, or whatever you want. Also try "cartoon" instead of "line drawing." Now, you don't have to limit yourself to simple drawings, but it does make it easier.

3. Use Herma's Dotto repositional glue dots on the back of your pattern to adhere it to the paper you want to use as a base. I always cut out the biggest part of the pattern first. You don't want to be piecing together small bits to make the overall shape of your image. For example, with the deer above, I cut out the whole body from brown paper. Then I peeled off what was left of my pattern, stuck it on the lighter paper, and cut those pieces out next.

4. Remember that your paper piecing won't really look great until you add pen or pencil and chalk. For my deer, I filled in the inside of the ears and his mouth with white pen. Then, I put a thin layer of pink ink over the white pen. I also used the white pen on the black of the eye, around the iris of the eye, and on the nose.

5. Use chalk as your best friend! It adds tons of definition and totally melds your pieces together. Remember that dark colors are the shadows or the receding portion of an image. Light colors are for the highlights, for areas that are nearest you.

6. Touch areas you wish to lighten with a rolled up eraser, the gummy kind, to lift away chalk. Since chalk can be hard to control, the type of gummy art eraser you can manipulate is perfect for getting into small areas. You don't have to scrub your paper. Just touch down the eraser.

"Turn Up the Heat" CONTEST and Recipe!

Jessica Conant-Park and Susan Conant write a fun series and offer a great online newsletter called Food Fiction. So I asked Jessica to share a summer recipe--and two copies of Turn Up the Heat--
Thank you Joanna for having me stop by!
I write the Gourmet Girl mystery series that’s set in the Boston restaurant scene. I think of the series as a cozy, culinary, chick lit mystery read… sort of Julia Child meets Bridget Jones meets Janet Evanovich. (Well, fine, I’ll admit most of authors would like to be compared to Janet, but, hey…)
My heroine Chloe Carter is a graduate student, struggling her way through social work school, and dating a charming and talented chef. There are lots of restaurant insider details (many courtesy of my chef husband and his pals) and recipes at the end of the book (also from my chef and from other chefs who generously contributed to the book.) I also put out a monthly newsletter, Food Fiction, with my pal Michele Scott (of the wonderful Wine Lovers series) and we’re having a blast welcoming guest authors and cooks. We’d love to have you sign up and promise to deliver delicious recipes, book and author news, and awesome contests!

Summer is supposedly upon us, although it’s been doing nothing but pouring here in New Hampshire recently. But, food-wise, I will not be discouraged. Tomato season will arrive, and there are already some wonderful tomatoes popping up in the stores and at farm stands. My plants haven’t had nearly enough sun yet, but I am looking forward to the day I can go into the backyard and pick my own. And despite the rain, we’ve been doing plenty of grilling at home—everything tastes better on the grill! I am a huge fan of fresh oregano and have two very large plants outside that I pick from often. It’s so easy to grow and survives brutal winters, so even if you have not the slightest hint of a green thumb, you can throw a plant in a pot, water it when you remember, and have it flourish.

The other night I tossed together a very nice (and easy!) pasta dish. I roughly chopped up some onion and beautiful tomatoes, tossed them in olive oil, salt, and pepper and cooked them briefly in a cast iron pan on the grill. (If you don’t have a cast iron pan, you can use a fajita pan, or even skewer the veggies.) I let them cook just until the onions started to soften a bit and the tomatoes began to release some juices. Mix this with your favorite pasta (I’m a tagliatelle fan), more olive oil, a big handful of freshly chopped oregano (stems removed, please!), and some Parmesan. I love this kind of dish at room temperature, and if you let it sit out for an hour before eating, the pasta will really soak of some of the delicious flavor. As the season goes on and more and more gorgeous produces becomes available, we’ll all be able to cook very simply by relying on the rich flavors of the season. Enjoy!
Email me (Joanna) at and put JESSICA in the subject line. Be sure to include your name, postal address, and phone number. On July 9, I'll select two lucky winners from the entrants. I'll announce the winners' names on the Inkspot Blog ( on July 10.