Saturday, December 30, 2017

Why did I make this?

I had an unusual request from my step-son, to make a photo album for his girlfriend for Christmas. Why was it unusual you ask? Well.... he asked if I could make it using a Sugar Skull theme. My mind started immediately whizzing.... hum.m.m.m where could I get Sugar Skull scrapbook paper? How would I decorate it? 

I started seeing Sugar Skull figurines and coloring books a couple of years ago and I loved them! They were so colorful and bright and pretty, and CUTE. I love cute and I love colorful. I had no idea the WHY of them, just that I liked them. I felt a little guilty liking them, thinking maybe they were unChristian or just something to scare people. That's not my thing. I AM a Christian lady. But something drew me to them.

To my amazement, when I visited my son and his girlfriend in Astoria last year, I found that SHE had a Sugar Skull collection of just about anything you could imagine (above)! Of course she had the skulls, but she also had an apron, dishes, mugs, dish towells, etc. She then told me their history and meaning. 

I never realized, and was glad to learn, that the skulls are part of a cultural tradition that started long ago in Mexico, which was a celebration known as "The Day of the Dead" on November 1st and November 2nd of each year. These two days were set aside to celebrate loved ones who had departed.  In addition to other festivities, skulls were molded and used to make little sweet treats, in the shape of the skulls, to be placed on the deceased love one's grave. They were decorated exquisitly and the name of the deceased would be inscribed on its head.

Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century. Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit.
(excerpt from History of the Day of the Dead.

There is so much history surrounding the Sugar Skulls! I didn't mean for this to be a history lesson......but if you want to read more, you can click on the link HERE. It is really fascinating, and the cultural tradition carried forward into the "New World" in the 18th century. This tradition is also celebrated in Italy, Spain, South America and the Phillippines as All Souls and All Saints Day. 

It's a wonderful way to celebrate the memories of our loved ones who are now gone. I like this tradition alot.

My son and his girlfriend last Halloween.
Anyway........... I kind of got off the subject of my photobook! But I thought this history was so interesting, I just HAD to give you a Sugar Skull lesson!

Here's the photo book I came up with. It's fairly large, about 6" x 9" I think. (It's gone now and I forgot to measure it!)

I found some digital papers on Etsy and downloaded them to use. The shop name is CraftedInDigital on Etsy. There were 10 different papers and I can use them over and over, as many times as I want to. I LOVE digital papers! So I printed out the ones I liked.

I put pockets in two areas, to hold some cute tags I found at DigitalCollageClub on Etsy.

I mean...... sugar skulls on deep purple paper? Love it! Love the hearts on the black and white striped paper too. 

I made this strictly as a photo album, to place photos in. The "belly band" that holds it closed is black ruffled elastic with a pretty blingy button on it. The album is nice and thin and not bulky and full of thick embellishments.


I made some really sweet "snowman soup" hot cocoa folders for my three step granddaughters and really like how they turned out.

Red elastic "belly bands".

This paper is really fabric that I scanned into my computer and then printed it on paper! I have so much pretty Christmas fabric that I wanted to use some. On the left, is a little packet of marshmallows. I used some of the scanned fabric on my Christmas cards.

Here are a couple of my "fabric to paper" Christmas cards:

I have two yards of this Christmas skull fabric and hubby wants a western shirt made out of it. Hum.m.m.m. wonder if I'll ever get that done? I just don't sew clothing like I used to! Sure made a pretty card though! Oh..... now that I look, the background "paper" was also some gorgeous Christmas fabric.


Wanted to let you know, I'm having a SALE in my Etsy shop, My Pink Paper Cottage until January 5th. 20% OFF ALL OF MY CHRISTMAS ITEMS.

Finally got my tree decorated by December 22nd!..... and my handmade Nativity set put out..... and my hutch filled with my Christmas squishy elves and Santas. 




  1. Marilyn, you are always so busy, I don't know how you find time for all of it, but you do! I really didn't know the history of the sugar skulls either. I just thought it was cultish maybe. What a wonderful story and so important that we learn something about all cultures, if only a little, it makes for better understanding in all things. Those little books for the grands are so precious. What a wonderful extension of the stocking stuffers. Thank you for your visit, as always. It sounds like our moms were truly alike and just adds to the thoughts of how lucky we were to have them. Some haven't been so lucky and for them, I feel badly, and hope that they can find in themselves, other ways to compensate, just as my mom did. Hope your Christmas was grand, my friend, and a Happy, Healthy New Year to you and yours. Love the little kitten story..xxoJudy

    1. Thank you for the comment Judy. I don't know if others were so impressed with the Sugar Skulls! Oh well.... like you said, nice to learn something new! I had a nice Christmas month of December, but as usual, glad it's over as I'm just not quite the house decorator like my mom was! I try to keep up with her as I did love it, but now that my kids are grown and not around, it's not so important to me. My tree is still up though and all my decorations still up, as once I get them done, I want to enjoy them as long as possible... thanks to faux trees, we can do that! Enjoy the month of January and looking forward to spring! Hugs.. Marilyn

  2. Hi Marilyn! So happy to visit with you today! I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get caught up on my blog visiting! After being gone for two weeks, it is amazing how long it takes to get things back in working order and routine, lol! Plus, we got a new computer and it has cost me all kinds of time to try to figure it all out and find programs that work. It looks like you have been so very busy creating and crafting! Your tree looked so beautiful! I was given a new type of needlecrafting kit for Christmas, and soon I've got to sit down and figure it out! It is called punch needle, and it certainly looks like fun!

    Anyway, I hope you had a blessed and very special Christmas, and wish you the best in 2018!

    1. My computer just died so it's in the shop and am typing on my tablet which takes forever! The auto correct changes my words into things I've never heard of! Hope you learn your new computer with ease. I enjoyed your post about your trip. I suppose you have lots of snow? We had 4" at Christmas and that's all to date. I'm fine with that! You're new needlework sounds fun. I used to do needlework with yarn on cross stitch designs. I never see those anymore and made many many in my younger years. I may go look them up and see if they are still being made And by the way, my tree is still up! (faux tree). I'll take it down soon. it's just so pretty. Stay warm! hugs.....Marilyn

  3. I never heard of cocoa folders. How neat! What a great idea!
    Im like you, I have had mixed feelings about skulls but these have always caught my attention. They are always so colorful and different. Not scary.

    1. Hi Lisa! Yes the little but cocoa folders are so cute. You can do the same thing with teabags,just make the folder smaller. Glad the sugar skulls are a tradition rather than anything sinister, as they are so cute and colorful! Take care...Marilyn

  4. You had a very productively creative Christmas season, Marilyn. Your fingers must have been flying. Thanks for your visits to my blog. I'm just now catching up on my blog reading. Hope 2018 is off to a great start for you. Hugs ~ Nancy

    1. Thank you Nancy... I guess I WAS pretty productive once I read this post! I thought I wasn't. Love the simplicity of your Christmas and wish mine had been more simple. 2018 is off to a fast start! Can't believe it'll be February soon and the days are already getting longer. Hugs back... Marilyn

  5. You have been busy creating and to get alld one was amazing. I never knew that about the Sugar Skulls so thanks for enlightening me! Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year.

    1. Thank you Cathy! January is going by really fast isn't it? Yes.... the Sugar Skulls history and tradition was very interesting to me!

  6. Hi Marilyn: Thanks for your visit. It is very cold here now, although no snow yet. To answer your questions. I have alot of windows so if I don't wait until it is entirely dark outside, I can usually take a decent pic with the lights on. I refuse to use the flash so if it is too dark outside night time shots won't work. Good thing this is the age of digital photography, I couldn't afford pictures if I had to get them all developed to see if I got anything halfway decent..Have a great weekend..xxoJudy

    1. Judy, thank you for the info. I'll try turning all the lights on and see what happens, though we don't have alot of lights.. I like dim/soft lighting and we don't have many windows either. I remember before digital cameras, I took ALOT of 35mm pictures and could hardly wait every time to get them developed! Out of an entire roll, I maybe got 5 pictures that were worthy of keeping, although I have kept them all through the years (which results in boxes and boxes of photos). I've been trying to scan my old photos onto my computer. They are so much easier to look at and edit, etc. Oh the wonders of technoloty.. and it's so fun! Take care.. Marilyn

  7. Thanks again, Marilyn, for your visit. As you can tell we are just meat and potatoes people!! Nothing fancy at all..Happy Wednesday..xxoJudy


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