ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop!

Hey there! You should be arriving here from Mary Dawn’s blog. If you’re just joining us on the blog hop, you can head over here to the ThingsCrafted blog to start from the beginning!


If you’ve been wondering where I’ve disappeared to over the past six weeks or so, I hope this helps to clarify things. ;) Not only have I started a new mostly full-time job (and I love it – but more on that later), but I’ve also launched ThingsCrafted, a new business that allows me to do what I love – designing for this awesome community that I’m already so lucky to be a part of. Here’s a little bit more information about ThingsCrafted: 

ThingsCrafted is a place where handmade design and customization come together to create a wonderful company who creates and encourages color, personality and community. ThingsCrafted was founded by Britta Swiderski, a designer with a background in the world of papercrafting and a history of working with awesome graphic design clients. ThingsCrafted provides custom products – starting with stamps – to suit your lifestyle all starting with handwritten designs. They all go from pencil to computer to your doorstep! We love to create stamps and designs for addresses, “made by”s for the projects you send to others, favorite phrases or shapes for project life and planner organization and so much more. 

Today we’re celebrating this new beginning with a blog hop. I’m so excited to introduce this concept to you, and I hope you’ve enjoyed what everyone else put together for this hop. I have some truly amazing friends, and I can’t wait to get even more of them involved as ThingsCrafted grows!

On my blog today, I wanted to show off one of my very favorite hand-designed stamps that is available for purchase in the ThingsCrafted store, Happy Birthday To You. I really wanted the bubble letters of Mille text to shine, so I stuck close to one of my favorite techniques – watercolor pencils and white embossing.

Happy Birthday watercolor by Britta Swiderski - ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop

I focused most of the color on the inside of the letters, but I wanted to have a painterly effect with the watercolor, so I scribbled a little outside the lines as well. I then went over everything with a waterbrush, adding more color directly from pencil to brush as needed within the letters. To hold up to this amount of water, I was happy to have my favorite watercolor cardstock as a base. It stands up to a lot of watercolor.

To keep it simple, I embellished it only with some white sequins from Lawn Fawn’s Peace Love Joy sequins assortment and added some small gemstones on top to finish them off.

Happy Birthday watercolor by Britta Swiderski - ThingsCrafted Grand Opening Blog Hop

Here’s a closer look at the embossing and watercolor. Man, I love those bright, vibrant colors!

Supplies used on this project: Click below to see where you can buy the products used on this project. Click on “SS” for the product at Simon Says Stamp and “EH” for the product at Ellen Hutson. I also will link to products from my own store, ThingsCrafted. I only link to products and shops that I know and love. Thank you for your support!


Thank you for stopping by today. Before you go – make sure to leave a comment on this post and each one along the hop to enter to win a custom stamp! One will be given away at each stop along the hop. We’ll be getting in touch with you via email, so make sure you add your email to your comment! We’ll be drawing winners at the end of Tuesday, the 25th of November, so be sure to leave a comment by then.

There’s also a special treat for everyone in the blog hop – 15% off your order until the end of the day Tuesday, November 25th using the code GRAND15OFF as part of the Grand Opening event! This is the last stop on the blog hop, so please hop back to the beginning at the ThingsCrafted blog if you’d like to see more projects or start the hop over again. Thanks for hopping with us!

See you soon with more love and more craftiness,


Filed under Cardmaking, Links and Shopping

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack – A Tutorial

I love making grand plans for big, fun projects for when my parents come to visit. This is a perfect example of one I planned where almost every single thing went a little differently than planned. Ha! I did get the help from my mom putting this project all together, though – she has the know-how with things like saws and wall anchors to teach me something new every time I would with her. We weren’t using this corner space for anything other than putting backpacks, coats and purses on a pile in the floor, so I decided it was time to make this space useful and give our cat more vertical space to run around.

This project hardly went according to plan, but I still love the results… almost as much as Leia does.

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack Tutorial by Britta Swiderski - 10-09-14


  • shelves – used Ekby Östen 31″ length (4 shelves total) but Ekby Tryggve or Ekby Hemnes  have the same dimentions – it depends on your budget and color preferences + what’s available in-store
  • brackets  – Ekby Bjärnum 7.5″ brackets (5 sets) + connecting bracket for double-long shelf
  • wall anchorsTriple Grip 171K ( for holding up to 51 lb)
  • extra screws – for the bottoms of the brackets (four 51 lb anchors for a little shelf might be a little overkill)
  • carpet – we used carpet samples from Home Depot (which are free – I picked up a few every time I was in the area and needed to buy something), but you could use any spare carpet you have from an old project
  • glue for adhering the carpet – Hot Glue or E6000 – I couldn’t find my hot glue gun, so I went with E6000 and some books to hold the squares down. I did go back in with a glue gun to attach any corners or edges that sprang up in the drying process.
  • hefty scissors for cutting carpet – 9.5″ Tim Holtz Scissors were AMAZING for this
  • drill & bits – I have a Ryobi D42K + these drill bits + these screwdriving bits
  • circular saw – my parents swear by Black & Decker for power tools
  • sharpie and pencil for marking shelves and wall
  • T-Square for marking shelves to be cut – this is my all-purpose one
  • Level – we used an iPhone because I can never remember to just buy a real level

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack Tutorial by Britta Swiderski - 10-09-14

Five Steps to Cat Paradise:

1. Measure and Mark – measure and mark your shelves to the desired length. Use a sharpie and t-square to draw a line that will act as your guide with the circular saw. Measure and mark the walls where you want the shelves to go – this will help you decide where exactly to attach the shelves and adjust the heigh between shelves to make sure your kitty can jump between them (ours are about 24″ apart vertically and Leia doesn’t have any trouble, but I would recommend 18″ or less of a jump for larger or older cats).

2. Cut Boards to Size – use a circular saw to cut down the shelves to size. Be sure to read the saw’s instructions and safety warnings! You could also use a hand saw, but you’ll get the most precise results with power tools.

3. Attach Brackets – use a pencil to mark the boards where you’ll put the screw to attach the brackets, drill using a 1/8″ drill bit into the wood about 1/4″ deep and then attach the shelves with the provided screws.

4. Affix Carpet – adhere your carpet to the shelves with hot glue or E6000, cutting down the carpet with strong scissors to fit across the back and side edges. Be sure to slip the carpet under the extra space between the shelf and the bracket – this will hide raw edges.

5. Level and Drill – with the aid of a level (ehem… or an iphone) and your handy pencil, mark out where the holes for the brackets need to go. Be sure to use relatively heavy-duty wall anchors on the top of the brackets to give the shelf additional support if you’re drilling into drywall. Drill a hole to the size designated by the anchor (check the package), insert the anchor (use a hammer to help with the last little bit if necessary) and attach the shelf with the matching screw. I went with 50 lb anchors so they would not only support the shelf + my cat and also her jumps up and down. Drill 1/8″ holes and use a screw to secure the bottoms of the brackets.

 The Story

First of all, why a cat tree on the wall? I wanted to build this not only to give Leia a place to play and explore, but also a safe haven away from guests where she feels in charge. She runs away to hide as soon as she hears a person other than me or Jake come to the door. Even close friends that are here about once a week only see flashes of her – it took Leia 6 months of Dan coming over every week to watch TV and Star Wars for her to let him pet her.

After watching many episodes of My Cat from Hell (a.k.a. the cat version of Dog Whisperer), I knew that giving her a place up high where no one is allowed to touch her might really help her shyness around guests and reduce her feelings of anxiety about having other people around. This all came together into this awesome cat tree corner that, in total, cost me about $75 dollars to make a reality.

Here’s where the changes come in. The shelves were originally supposed to be Ekby Tryggve ($3.99 each) in a black-brown color to match the rest of our furniture, but Ikea didn’t have a single one when we went to pick up supplies. The Tryggve actually only comes in natural wood color now, so I bet that had something to do with it. I pulled a last-minute decision to go with the white Ekby Östen shelves ($6.99 each) in the interest of time. The extra $12 and color change was well worth it when we were able to get  the entire project done the next day while my parents were still in town. I was dead-set on the Ekby Bjärnum brackets ($5 per set of two and $5 for connector) because they covered up the ends of the shelf and had a coordinating connector bracket, allowing me to stick with the same shelf for the whole project. I should also note that I went with the 7.5″ deep shelves because Leia is little and so is the area I was working in. If you want to step up to the 11″ deep shelves, that would definitely provide more lounging room for your feline friends.

The second little bobble came from trusting Ikea’s measurements. Thankfully, the shelves didn’t need to be precisely the same length, just well-mounted and pretty close to level. When we measured out to cut the boards in half, we just used the Ikea dimensions and divided them in half… It was a rookie mistake that left us with two shelves of the desired length and two over an inch longer that the first set. Whoops! We just made sure to put both of the “long” shelves on the same side so nothing seemed off.

The third thing were the dang brackets. Since the shelves are thinner than the brackets, this allows for space to cover up the unfinished edges of carpet (awesome!) but makes them really tricky for installation. They hate being straight vertically. We just went with it, and it honestly doesn’t bother me. If you are using these brackets for your project, though, keep that in mind.

When all was said and done, though, the wall turned out amazingly well (if not a completely different color than I pictured it in my plans), and Leia is having a blast up in her new castle. We even moved over our 2 x 4 Expedit to the right side of the closet so she can jump down to the top of it and nap comfortably. I guess now we truly do live in Leia’s Castle.

Cat Tree Wall Ikea Hack by Britta Swiderski

One of Leia’s favorite new hobbies – sitting on the third shelf and leaning past the corner to surprise anyone coming down the hallway. This cat is a special one, for sure. <3

Thanks so much for stopping by today! And if you’re wondering, yes, I am a crazy cat lady and yes, I love it. A huge thanks goes out to my wonderful mom for helping me with this project. It’s a fairly easy but definitely two-person project. And thanks to my dad for sitting on the couch (he was sick the whole weekend – boo) and putting up with me yelling at the Gopher football game on TV.

If you liked this post, you might like my Refinishing 101: Modern Table Makeover that my mom helped me with last year. :) See you again soon with another card video!



Filed under DIY Home, Tutorials

Distress Ink Dinosaur Tutorial – World Cardmaking Day!

Happy World Cardmaking Day! Today I wanted to be sure and stop by with a tutorial – so I made a card today and have this video for you along with a couple of fun links. :)

Video Tutorial

I had several requests to do something with Lawn Fawn stamps, so I decided to pull out my Critters from the Past + my Distress Inks and make a masculine birthday card.

10-04-14 Distress Ink Dinos Card Video Tutorial by Britta Swiderski

Enjoy the video! This features making your own dinosaur skin with distress ink by using some water techniques to add depth and shine. If you want to see more of my favorite Distress Ink techniques, check out my No-Stress Distress Ink course here.

watch here | watch on youtube | subscribe to my channel

Here’s a closer look at the finished card. I love the play of the different heights of the dinosaurs and depths of the elements. I used foam adhesive to adhere the sentiment and the front hill and then foam adhesive to adhere the tops of the stegosaurus and right palm tree (keeping it from popping off the card too much). Side note: I love love love this Let’s Polka paper pad. It’s wonderful.

10-04-14 Distress Ink Dinos Card Video Tutorial by Britta Swiderski

I have to say, I’m really enjoying the cuteness of the Distress Ink minis and highly recommend starting out with them if you haven’t delved into the world of Distress Ink yet (or if you are looking to build up your collection of colors). I mostly can’t resist them because they’re adorable and there are tins to store them in. Tins! To store cute tiny ink pads in! TINS!

10-04-14 Distress Ink Dinos Card Video Tutorial by Britta Swiderski

Here’s a good look at the pearlescent shine from the perfect pearls + water droplets on the distress ink. It’s a subtle effect that really shines in juuuust the right light. This way, you get sparkle without a whole lot of shine. I guess the only problem I have now is what I’m going to do with that adorable brontosaurus. ;)

Supplies used on this project: Click below to see where you can buy the products used on this project. Click on “SS” for the product at Simon Says Stamp and “EH” for the product at Ellen Hutson. I only link to products and shops that I know and love. Thank you for your support!

Critters from the Past – Lawn Fawn
Year One – Lawn Fawn
Mowed Lawn Distress Ink – Ranger
Peacock Feathers Distress Ink – Ranger
Seedless Preserves Distress Ink – Ranger
Gathered Twigs Distress Ink – Ranger
Distress Inks – Ranger
Distress Ink Mini Pads Kit 1 – Ranger
Distress Ink Mini Pads Kit 2 – Ranger
Distress Mini Ink Pads Kit 8 – Ranger
Distress Mini Ink Pads Kit 11 – Ranger
Mini Distress Ink Storage Tin – Ranger
Distress Watercolor Paper – Ranger
Let’s Polka 6 x 6 Paper Pad – Lawn Fawn
Solar White Cardstock 25 sheets – Neenah Paper
Solar White Cardstock Ream – Neenah Paper
Memento Tuxedo Black Ink – Tsukineko
Mister Bottle 2 Ounce – Ranger
Non-Stick Craft Sheet – Ranger

Essentials by Ellen

I have been SO EXCITED for this Essentials by Ellen product launch all week and am so glad the day is finally here! Ellen Hutson is releasing a new line of stamps and dies, and I couldn’t be happier. Julie Ebersole’s style is right up my alley, and her designs for Ellen are absolutely scrumptious. I can’t wait to play with everything!


A few of my absolute favorites:

Happy, Happy, Happy

I just want to say thank you again for all of your love and support over the past several months. The walk went so well (and I still need to send out thank you emails to all the donors – thank you all SO MUCH!), I’m making huge steps of progress in my career and job search and I’ve even started a band. I’m working incredibly hard on balancing work with life and fun, and every day is a different challenge or puzzle to solve. I’m so grateful to have such a loving support team, a fantastic boyfriend (our three year anniversary is tomorrow!) and creativity that just wont quit even when my body wants to give out.

Jake & Me at a wedding in Milwaukee two weeks ago. It was an amazing weekend!

Jake & Me at a wedding in Milwaukee two weeks ago. It was an amazing weekend!

I have several fun projects to share with you in the coming weeks as I’ve been finishing off my living room to my liking with a huge Cat Tree Wall and a fun Man Cave in My Living Room and have been making something inky every day of this month so far as part of #inktober.

Leia sitting happily in her new Cat Tree - officially claiming one entire corner of her living room as her own.

Leia sitting happily in her new Cat Tree Wall – officially claiming one entire corner of the living room as her own.

Long live this creative streak that has me going right now! Let’s hope it translates into a real, long-term creative job at some point. ;) Whenever you’re ready, life, I’m ready.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. See you again soon!


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Filed under Cardmaking, Life and Health, Links and Shopping, Tutorials