Wednesday, December 17, 2014

D.I.Y. Stamped Holiday Wrapping Paper

Today I'm going to teach you how to make your own stamp and wrapping paper, which is very fun and easy to do. If you like being crafty like I do, but don't have enough time to make something for everybody on your list, this is a good way to add a personal touch to all of your holiday gifts. You might remember that I already did a tutorial on blockprinting if you've checked out my handmade Valentine's Day card tutorial earlier this year. Even though I used the same concept in this tutorial, I ended up switching the materials a bit in order to make it easier for you to create a print, which is kind of necessary when you're using a much larger area of paper. Instead of making a printing block, we're going to make a rubber stamp that is more easy to transfer on paper. This method also allows you to use an ink pad instead of printing ink, which makes for a much quicker clean up. 

Pen or Marker
Speedball Speedy-Cut Carving Block or any other rubber carving block 
Ink Pad
Cookie Cutter (Optional)

STEP 1: Start off by drawing and filling in your design on a rubber carving block by using a pen or marker. If you're not artistically inclined, you can do what I did, and just trace a cookie cutter--there are plenty of festive molds that are less than a dollar during this time of year.  

STEP 2: Use a linoleum cutter to carve out the areas around your design on the block. Just trace out your design and don't worry about carving out the entire block since you'll be worrying about these areas in STEP 3. 

STEP 3: Use an X-Acto Knife to cut out your stamp. Doing this will help you see the outline of the shape that you're printing, and better determine the placement of your stamp. When completing this step, make sure to cut at 1/4-1/2 inch away from your design in order to make sure that you have something to grip when you use your stamp. 

STEP 4: Place your stamp on an ink pad and then transfer it on to the postal paper. Your print does not have to be perfect, but if it isn't dark enough for your liking, you can always re-ink your stamp and print over the area again. Continue to stamp until you've filled up the area of wrapping paper that you'll be using, and then you're done! You can space out your print as far apart as you'd like. However, I found that it was easiest to create a consistent design by printing out one row at a time. 

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and that you put it to use if you haven't already wrapped all of your holiday gifts. As I said before, this is super easy to do, so it shouldn't take up too much of your time. In less than an hour, I managed to carve out my stamp and make enough wrapping paper to package 4-5 presents. If you do end up making your own paper, make sure to tag @SWEETHELENGRACE on Instagram so that I can see your projects.  Have a great rest of the week! 



Monday, December 15, 2014

Weekly Picks

(Photo from my Instagram-this is where I spent most of my weekend)

Instead of a regular outfit or DIY post, today I'm posting some of my favorite links from the past week/weekend. I had my wisdom teeth extracted on Friday and, although I wish it were the swelling and pain that held me back this weekend, I ended up having a horrible reaction to the pain killers I was given. As a result, I was bedridden and couldn't really do anything productive such as work on DIY projects and go out and take pictures. I'm still not feeling all that great, but I hope to have enough energy to work on a DIY this afternoon. So, look out for another post this week! In the meantime,  please enjoy these links. 

(Photo courtesy of A Beautiful Mess)

If you love stationery and sending out letters as much as I do, you should check out A Beautiful Mess's Happy Mail. For only $15 a month, you get $50 worth of stationery! Since I'm constantly sending out letters to friends, I'm definitely signing up for this program in the upcoming year. 

If you're looking for something fun and festive to wear this holiday season, you should check out this DIY Tulle Skirt tutorial from A Pair and A Spare. I don't know if I'll be able to complete this project by the end of the year with everything that I have going on. But, I will probably try to make this tulle skirt early next year, and just save it for the 2015 holiday season. It's always good to be prepared, right?

(Photo via Sugar and Cloth)

These 5 Minute Hors D'oeuvres with Potato Chips from Sugar and Cloth look so good! They're a fun and easy appetizer to make for your next holiday party!

(Photo via Joy the Baker)

Growing up, cauliflower was my favorite vegetable because I thought that it looked so pretty. I was definitely reminded of my love for cauliflower as I was looking through this recipe post for Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Cheddar Beer Sauce from Joy the Baker. Since one of my goals is to incorporate more vegetables into my daily diet, I'm going to try to make this dish sometime soon. 

(Photo via Keiko Lynn)

I really want to try out this Makeup Tutorial from Keiko Lynn. I love how she incorporates both a red lip and glittery eyeshadow without looking too over-the-top, and it's also a great look to wear all year-round. 

(Photo via Paper & Stitch)

I love how easy it is to make this Ornament Message Board from Paper & Stitch. If you're in need of holiday decorations, this is a good way to add some color to your living space. And, if you're not into the holidays, it's still a good tutorial if you're simply in need of a message board.



Sunday, December 7, 2014


Outfit Details:
Aldo Oxford Pumps (Old)

I haven't been in the best of moods lately and, as a result, I haven't been the best version of myself. As much as I love this time of year, it can also be stressful for me because it's usually when I have to make huge necessary expenses, and it's also the busiest time for me at work. To top that all off, I've really been craving some alone time, which is hard for me to get these days. Regardless of how irritated or stressed I feel, I really need to start thinking of what I can do to change my attitude and stop being such a jerk to the people around me. 

I was even being a pain when my sister Sarah was taking these photos, and I kept making her take more because I did not like any of them. I would look at all the shots and start making negative comments about my hair and physical appearance. Sarah, being the smart and empowered woman that she is, pointed out that I need to stop using such negative language to describe myself. I'm always going on about how women need to have a more positive body image, and I really needed my little sister to scold me to realize that I need to start practicing what I preach. Even if I'm in a rut and not feeling my best, the least I can do is show myself some love. 

Well, I guess I should devote part of this post to more lighter topics as well. The Fleet Collection dress that I'm wearing in this post was my Black Friday "splurge." It was less than $30, even with shipping, so I couldn't resist buying it. I really love how the color looks with my dark hair, and it fits perfectly and comfortably. Plus, I really needed a new dress that I could wear for special occasions, since I've worn the same one to almost all of my organization's recent events. 

As always, thank you so much for stopping by my little corner of the Internet. It means the world to me to have friends and followers who keep up with this blog of mine. 



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Make Something Old Into Something New

Photos by Sarah Veyna

Outfit Details:
Target Tights
Black Top with Bow (Old)
Altered Chambray Shorts (Old)
Madewell Bag
Madewell Loafers (similar and take an extra 25% off with promo code GIFTON)

About two weeks ago, I had to take a sick day because I had a really bad cold and, since I was stuck at home all day, I decided to work on some projects that were in my mending pile. One of the items that I altered was a pair of old trousers that were too short, which I converted into the shorts that I'm wearing in this post. I'm really happy with the way that my new shorts turned out, and I'm also excited to be using some of my new sewing skills to complete small projects. Eventually, I want to be able to alter clothes that I find in thrift stores or on sale.

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a fun weekend filled with shopping. I was fortunate enough to have a long weekend, and was able to relax. I really needed that extra time to slow down and take a break from everything, especially since lately my life has only consisted of work and studying. Even though I'm going to have to continue studying for the GRE, I'm going to try to be better about making time for self-care, exercise, and other fun activities from now on. I've already slowly started to fill up my calendar with lunch dates with friends. And, since I'm a 10-year-old at heart, I'm also planning to go to the Hello Kitty Exhibition at JANM next weekend. I'll make sure to take a whole bunch of pictures to share with all of you that are also young at heart. HAHA!



Friday, November 28, 2014

Holiday Shopping Guide!

Now that Thanskgiving is over, the holiday season is in full swing and many of us have so much shopping to do. Although it's much easier to reference the many sales going on at larger retailers, I wanted to make an effort to highlight a few small businesses that I really like for my holiday shopping guide. I definitely do shop at larger retailers on a regular basis, but lately I've been trying to support more small businesses, whether it be by visiting a local cafe or a family-owned restaurant. By shopping at small businesses, not only have I been able to find some cool and unique items that I wouldn't have found at a larger retailer, I've also been able to feel great about the fact that I have supported talented and hardworking individuals that are trying to make a living doing something that they love. This guide includes a few small businesses that I really like at the moment, and I've even included some promo codes to make your shopping experience more enjoyable and affordable. 

Photo via Dear Creatures


I've been following the brand Dear Creatures for a while, and I keep falling in love with every collection they release each season. I have to admit that Dear Creatures' clothes are usually out of my price point, but they are definitely well worth the money that they cost. If I had money to spare, I would definitely buy their "Bella" dress in blue.  I love how elegant it looks, and I think that the baby blue color would look great with my darker hair--a girl can dream, right? If you do have the money to spare, you should hurry to get 40% off any of their new styles. 


 I told myself that I was only allowed to spend $30 dollars on myself this holiday season, and I wasn't sure if I would be able to find anything within my price range that I liked and that was worth investing in. Luckily for me, Fleet Collection has an awesome SALE section. Once I applied the promo code, I managed to score their "Madeline" dress in gray for only $29.24, and that was including shipping. I can't wait until it arrives in the mail and I get to wear it all the time! 


 I first heard of Millay Vintage after I started following the business' Instagram account, where owner Mary Spears provides her followers with beautiful inspiration. When I finally headed over to the Millay Vintage Shop, I was happy to find an equally gorgeous selection of vintage clothes and home decor items. They even have a look book, which you can check out here

Photo via Burdees

 Burdees is another one of those shops that I discovered on Instagram. I love that all of their items are very affordable, and their designs are simple, elegant, and suit a variety of styles. So, if you're having some trouble trying to figure out what to buy for a certain family member or friend, you should definitely head on over to Burdees and see what they have in store. 

Photo via Rainaroo


Some of you might remember that I teamed up with Raina from Rainaroo for a giveaway, not so long ago. Being that Raina is such a strong supporter of this blog, it only made sense that I highlight her business in this shopping guide. Raina makes a variety of very cute crocheted items including scarves, headbands, and hats, and you can even request a custom order from her if you'd like.  You should definitely head over to Rainaroo's Etsy shop if somebody on your holiday gift list is an accessories fanatic.

As I was browsing through my favorite shops on Etsy, I rediscovered Cheese Before Bedtime, a shop that sells tiny pieces of embroidered art. Embroidery is definitely one of those skills that I want to master at some point in time. Since I have yet to do so, I can't help but to be impressed with owner Amy Jone's beautiful work. I don't have a promo code for this shop, but considering the amount of work that goes into each of these pieces, most of them could be considered a bargain. 


And finally, who would I be without some shameless self-promotion? In case I haven't bugged you all enough about this, I have an Etsy Shop called the Sweet Helen Grace Shop, where I sell jewelry, accessories and other items that I make by hand. I'm constantly adding new items to the shop, so check back often to see what I have in store. 

I hope that you all had a happy Thanksgiving, whichever way you chose to celebrate it. It's always nice to be able to take some time to think about what you are truly grateful for, and I think that is a practice that I really want to try to implement more often throughout the year. I keep saying this, but I have really been trying to make more of an effort to be a more positive person, and I am so thankful for all of the people who have supported me in that goal through and outside of this blog. 


Helen Grace

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sweet Helen Grace Shop Update

Hello Friends! I just wanted to put together a quick post to show you a few of the items that I've added to my Etsy Shop, as well as show you some items that were already in there, just in case you hadn't already checked them out. I have so much fun making the items that are in my shop, and I'm so grateful that many of you like them too and have already shown my little venture some support. As a special thank you for continuously supporting this blog and my shop, I'm offering all of you 10% off your entire purchase when you use the promo code "SMALLBIZ14," which is valid until Sunday, November 30th. 

Whether or not you purchase something from my shop, I definitely want to encourage you to support small businesses this holiday season. There are so many talented and hardworking individuals out there that are making and selling great products, and you should really show them some support. Since Small Business Saturday is coming up on the 29th, tomorrow I'll be posting a holiday gift guide featuring some of my favorite small businesses. Check back then to see some of my favorite picks. 

Again, thanks for stopping by. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Helen Grace

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shades of Brown

Photos by Sarah Veyna

Outfit Details:
Oversized Sweater
Striped Top (Old)
H&M Skirt (Old)
Target Opaque Tights

In case you haven't noticed, I dyed my hair darker over the weekend. I was trying to go back to my original dark brown hair color, but it ended up almost looking jet black. I still like it, though. However, it's definitely going to take me so me time to get used to this change in my physical appearance. I find myself not recognizing the girl that I see in the mirror, and I've been having to think more about what I wear, since I can easily end up looking "goth" if I don't add in enough color to my outfit. On this particular day, I was going to wear a black top, but realized that my hair blended right into it. Instead, I decided to wear shades of brown in order to add some contrast between my hair and my clothes. The good thing about having darker hair is that I can wear yellow/gold again, which I really couldn't do when my hair was lighter.

This weekend was good, even though all I did was study, bake and sleep. I really needed time to myself, especially since I was feeling a bit overwhelmed last week. I can be kind of introverted at times, and I was just not feeling being around other people. It also doesn't help that I'm stressed about taking the GRE on Tuesday. The good thing is that I'm learning how to check in with myself, and give myself the time and space that I need to get back to feeling my best. On the day that I was feeling the worst, I actually ended up taking an afternoon off from work and hanging out with my friend Anita, who was visiting from China. Being outside and hanging out with a friend helped to put me at ease and made me feel more positive. Speaking of listening to your body and mind, I think mine are telling me that I am going to need to schedule a getaway sometime in the next year, especially if I want to retain my sanity. We'll see where I end up! 

As always, I hope that you had a fantastic weekend! Thank you so much for stopping by.