Here's what I came up with:
The first thing I did was to sew on some patches that I've been saving. I got the Nederland patch on our trip to the Netherlands a few years ago. I bought it at the Keukenhof gift-shop. The second patch is from my ballet studio; my teacher gave them to each of the students one year for Christmas.
Another idea was to glue a bottle-cap onto the button. The cap fit exactly over the existing button which was perfect!
The bottle-cap I used was one my oldest brother gave me. He had a bottle-cap collection when he was little, and he got this one in Indonesia - one of the places my family lived before I was born.
Also, I took off the original loop that hooked over the button and replaced it with this friendship bracelet my bestie made for me ages ago.
Another thing I did was to add this chain and to clip all sorts of mementos onto it. There's a random coin that my brother gave me when I was little (I think it's from Estonia?); my half of a friendship necklace; dog tags from Joy, a dog I had when I was little; a clipping of ribbon from my last pair of Pointe shoes that I wore as Sleeping Beauty; and a chunk of rock covered in layers of spray paint.
When my brother went off to college years ago, there was a boulder on campus that people were allowed to spray paint. It was called The Rock. Original, I know. :) The Rock would be repainted quite frequently - decorated for events and who-knows-what. One time when my brother came home for a visit, he brought me this piece that had fallen off of it and showed almost an inch of spray paint layers! Probably the coolest piece of junk I've ever had. ;)
I also added some pins to the strap of the bag. The alligator pin is from a set of two vintage scatter pins that belonged to my great grandma. I have both, but only attached one to the bag; I like to wear the other one sometimes. They're so quirky!
The other pin is one we got at my other brother's first craft show. (He's a wood turner and sells wooden bowls, pens, jewelry, etc.) Plus, I thought "Creative Kid" was a pretty appropriate title for myself. ;)
"And though she be but little, she is fierce."
This is one of my favorite quotes; I like to think it describes me. ;)
I love that my tote is full of stories now. Some history of the lives that led up to mine, stories of people I care about, places I've been, things I've done, memories made. It kinda makes it feel like I'm carrying around a piece of art, or a library, or a mini-museum.
Do you think you'd ever want to personalize a bag like this?