Archive for Life

I’m Writing This on My Break

Posted in Parenting, Shiny Happy Musings, Writing with tags , , , on July 18, 2013 by Jessica Crichton

For the last few months, I’ve been working on my master’s thesis and stressing out about everything from why the agency looking at my manuscript has been silent for so long (I suspect aliens; it’s always aliens), to where my kitchen and mud room sinks went (it MIGHT have something to do with dirty dishes… maybe). In fact, I’ve been so stressed and uptight that I stopped even noticing it. That is, until yesterday when I thought to wonder why my neck was always so hurty, and why, no matter how much sleep I got, I was still tired.

So today I took a break. From everything.

No worrying about bills.
No stress over landing a post-graduation job.
No obsessing on that wonderful, dreamy agency.
No checking and rechecking my email for either of the above.
No forcing myself to edit or revise anything. (Note: Sometimes, fellow writers, it ISN’T a good idea after all.)
No stressing over what my second thesis reader is going to tell me.

I’m at the park. Lying in the grass. Enjoying the birds and the sun and the flowered breeze whifting off the river nearby.

And you know what? I think, when I get home, I might actually get those dishes done after all.

On the Lighter Side… Custom Teabags!

Posted in Family, Kids, Shiny Happy Musings with tags , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2011 by Jessica Crichton

I’ve been working my tailfeathers off, as my eldest would say, on school lately, and just posted a new essay for you all to read and admire and tell me how smart and stuff I am. OK, not really; I just hope it helps some of my fellow writers who might be struggling with detail in their kids’ books, is all. Really.


So now let’s get on a lighter, and pretty much entirely different, trail. A while ago I said I was making a surprise for my thirteen-year-old who is at her father’s in South Dakota for the year and that I would post about it once she got the surprise so as not to ruin it for her. Well, that time has come.

One of the things that was always special between myself and Emily was our nighttime tea. Now, I make tea for all my kids all the time (though the younger two don’t get it before bed; peeing and all that), but for some reason, for Emily it’s even more special. Maybe that’s just me talking about a daughter I miss terribly right now, but whatever. She always asked for “Mommy tea” before bed, just as her big sister Cisily and her little sister Joei do (Cisily is 15 and Joei is 10). But for Emily, it’s always been a love thing; her way of bonding with me. See, Emily is one of those kids who has a hard time showing any kind of sappy emotion. You know, like love and gratitude and mommy-cuddles and stuff. Even as a baby she didn’t like to cuddle or hug. Now, as a sassy, sarcastic, self-titled skater/goth/tomboy teenager, Emily has a rep to uphold, you know.

But we have the tea. Always the tea.

Her asking for “mommy tea” every night was her way of saying “I love you, Mommy”. And my making it for her was my way of saying, “I love you too, and I promise not to be too obvious about it. Especially in front of your friends”. One of the things she said she would miss when she was at her dad’s was mommy tea, because she couldn’t get it without Mommy being there to make it for her.

So I decided to do the next best thing.

This works with any kind of tea, and/or you can do it with instant coffee bags too, if you’re so inclined. It’s a great idea for the hard to please person on your Holiday list, which is why I decided to post this now instead of two months ago when Emily first got the tea. An important note before we get started: It’s always best to ask permission when using images from the web. That is all.


You will need:

  • Teabags. Any kind will do, though a mixture of flavors is always good for a gift. As I said, coffee bags will also work. I made a total of 50, but there is no set amount.
  • Printer paper.
  • A printer.
  • Ink, colored and black.
  • Double sided tape and/or strong glue stick.
  • A stapler and staples.
  • Scissors.
  • A small box, about the size of a baking soda box. (Optional)
  • Photoshop or the equivalent.
  • Microsoft Word or the equivalent.
  • An imagination.

So, here’s the steps in making custom teabags!

Step 1: Gather your supplies.

Step 2: Create a logo for your tea wrapper. Mine looked like this:

Again, it’s always a good idea to ask permission before using someone else’s images, or else you can make your own. You can even put a photo of yourself and the gifted together on your logo. Whatever. The important thing is to make sure it reflects the gifted’s personal tastes. As I said before, Emily is into goth styles, and her latest favorites are steampunk and anime. (I’ll take full responsibility for the first one… hehe.) So I found an image that was perfect and added the text in Photoshop. The font I used is Freebooter, but you can use any font you want. Make sure the logo is about 3×3 in., the standard size for a tea bag wrapper. (I found great step-by-step teabag wrapper making directions here.)

Step 3: Tea Tags!

Make a logo for the tea tags as well. These are smaller, at about 1.5×1 in. Unlike your teabag logo, the tag should be made so that it prints out as a mirror image of itself, like this:

It can be the same image as your bag, or different. As you can see, mine is the same style, but a different image.

Step 4: Change it up.

This step can be skipped if you’re only making one kind of tea. Starting with your original logos, which I used for black tea, mess with them in Photoshop a bit to come up with different colors and styles that still match each-other for your other flavors. I don’t have any pictures of my other flavors, sadly, but you get the gist.

Step 5: Print out your tags.

I found that pasting my logos into Word was the easiest way to print them how I wanted. Set the print options to landscape and print about four of your logos per page, along the top. Leave the rest of the page blank:

Your tags should be printed mirroring themselves, as I said before. Otherwise, however many you can fit on one piece of paper works!

Step 6: Form the wrappers.

Take a page that you printed your wrappers on and fold it backwards, along the bottom of the logos:

As you can see, the back of the paper is longer than the front. You want that.

Step 7: Glue your logos into wrappers.

This is tricky to explain, but easy to do. In between the paper sides, along the gaps between logos, you want to place either a strip of double sided tape each, or run the glue stick. I found the glue stick to work far better, but I also had industrial strength, so there’s that. Here’s a couple of images to hopefully help:

Here’s where you glue it…

And here is EXACTLY where you glue it.

Don’t forget to do the same on both sides of the logos, or your bookmark wrappers will only have one side glued!

Now, carefully fold the paper against the tape/glue like so:

Step 8: Separate your new wrappers.

This part is easy. Just cut along the gaps!

Step 9: Create the wrapper flaps.

All you have to do here is…

Step 10: Cut out your tea tags.

Remember to mirror them top to top.

Make sure they look like this:

And not like this:

Step 11: Dismember the original teabags.

Remove their wrappers and their tags. (I should note at this point that all measurements I have made pertain to flat teabags only. Those triangular things and etc. won’t fit in these wrappers.) What you should have left is a naked teabag and a naked string. Like this:

Step 12: Stuff!

Stuff the tea bag into a wrapper (which now resembles a tiny envelope). It should slide in easily, but if not, use a butter knife to gently push it in. Make sure not to tear the bag!

Notice that I have the string coming out of the far corner. That is important for the next step.

Step 13: Close and seal the top flap of your wrapper. Make sure not to glue/tape the tea string while you’re at it. 😉

Step 14: Staple the tea tag.

Take a tea tag and fold it in half so that the mirror images are now on either side. Slip the free end of the tea string in between the flaps as a loop…

… close down and and staple them all together.

And here is the finished product!

Do this with as many or as few tea bags as you like! I also made a little matching box to put them all in, but you can take it from there in whatever way you see fit, of course…

And yeah, Emily loved them. Win! 😀

Have fun and Happy Holidays! 🙂

John M. Cusick

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