Semi-homemade Gifts

This was originally posted over at Sunny Vanilla a few weeks ago when Jennifer asked me to be a part of her Homemade for the Holidays week. Enjoy!

When Jennifer asked me to participate in the Homemade for the Holidays series I was honestly a little worried.

You see, I’m more like semi-homemade. In fact, I’m the crafting equivalent of Sandra Lee.

I get mistaken for her all the time.

Notice the resemblance?

No? Huh. Must be a setting off on your computer.

Wait. Let me give it one more try.

See? I told you. We’re practically related. In fact, maybe “Sandra Lee & Me” should be my new blog title.

I love to create homemade gifts but don’t always have the skills to implement my big ideas so I do what I can and learn a little more each time. Hopefully one of these days I’ll move away from my Sandra Lee tendencies.

Today I’m going to share with you two crafts I will use as part of my Christmas gifts.

Both projects I’m going to share would be great used as ornaments, wine adornments, or gift tags.

The first ornament involves layering pieces of felt to create a desired shape.

It’s relatively simple and uses only a few materials.

Here are the materials needed: felt, objects to trace circles, scissors, a piece of wire, a Sharpie, and a glue gun.

Trace the circles onto the felt.

You end up with various size circles depending on the jar circumference used. Pardon the different colors shown as I dropped my camera after the picture below was taken and needed to take new pictures).

Stack your circles once they are cut into the desired shape.

Individually fold each circle and cut a small slice in the middle of it. This creates a hole for the wire to pass through.

Bend the bottom of the wired ninety degrees so the felt circle has a place to “sit.”

Take the circle you would like on the bottom of your ornament and slide it down the wire.

Place some glue on the bent wire and attach another felt circle to the glue. This new circle becomes the new bottom and the curved part of the wire should no longer be seen.

Stack the desired number of felt piece by simply sliding each felt circle down your wire.

Continue layering felt pieces into the shape you desire.

Glue on embelllishments in order to complete your ornament.

The shape and color combinations are endless. Adding wooden beads between layers gives the ornament a more rustic look.

Christmas tree, ornament, snowman, modern design

Since personalized gifts are always a hit, I created custom ornaments. The one below is for my father-in-law who is a proud Canadian.

Cut out a design using your scissors and felt.

I free handed the letter “a” but cut out the maple leaf using an image I printed out and placed on top of the felt. I then cut around the paper.

Glue all of the front pieces together.

Using the twine, glue a loop onto the back of the ornament. Next, glue a matching piece of fabric to cover the glue.

Add some fun and personalization to a tin of cookies…

… or use them as wine gift tag

This tag is for my sister Amanda and her husband Ben and it includes an image of their home states.

What about….A lively gift tag for the music teacher or the Saints football fan in your life? Really, the possibilities are endless.

In addition to brightening up a gift, they will look great on their Christmas tree.

Hope you’ve seen something that inspires you to create something handmade (or semi-handmade for some of us) for someone you love.


Have you been making any of your Christmas gifts?

The 36th Avenue

Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Car Trip Survival

Here’s how to successfully complete a 10 hour car ride with your 3 children.

Yes. Let them watch movies. Lots and lots of movies.

In my opinion, Redbox movies and their kiosks are perhaps one of the greatest inventions ever. 

Now I am not a person who advocates letting your children watch tv all day but for car trips I make an exception.

Over Thanksgiving I drove my kids to visit my parents for the week. My husband flew in Thanksgiving morning to make a guest appearance.

Typically, people describe a road trip by the weather, the traffic, or the snacks consumed.

Our trip, however, can be summed up by one word – movies.

I present to you the first journey of our trip…

…and because the first trip was so successful, here’s our return trip.

Happiness, contentment, and serenity (there was a moment of screaming from our two year old when my son put in “The History of Space” DVD but I’ve completely erased it from my memory).

All for the low low price of $10.44 round trip.

It may be $10.44 to Redbox but to me it was priceless.

A Little Reading Spurt

I just completed a little reading spurt and was so surprised and delighted that I liked 3 out of 3 of the books.

How to Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward

From the back cover: To their neighbors in suburban Holt, New York, the Winters family has it all: a grand home, a trio of radiant daughters and a sense of security in their affluent corner of America. But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the Winters family are exposed. Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons. Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah, Georgia. And Ellie’s bereft sisters grow apart: Madeline reluctantly stays at home, while Caroline runs away. Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in “People Magazine”. Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister, armed with copies of the photograph, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer. As Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, she devotes herself to salvaging her broken family. With dark humour and gorgeous prose, Amanda Eyre Ward brings us a spellbinding novel about sisters, family secrets and love.

I’ll admit I almost didn’t read this book due to the main character being “Caroline the cocktail waitress,” not something I want to associate with my two year old Caroline. In the end, I’m glad I read this book but admit the subject matter was tough. Missing kids, marital abuse, alcoholism, kidnapping, drugs…definitely not light reading.

I give How to Be Lost  3 1/2 out of 5 stars


A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White

From the back cover: For more than ten years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their children. But on a vacation alone, the couple perishes in a flight over the Grand Canyon. After the funeral, their daughters, Ruthie and Julia, are shocked by the provisions in their will. Spanning nearly two decades, the sisters journeys take them from their familiar home in Atlanta to sophisticated bohemian San Francisco, a mountain town in Virginia, the campus of Berkeley, and lofts in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. As they heal from loss, search for love, and begin careers, their sisterhood, once an oasis, becomes complicated by resentment, anger, and jealousy. It seems as though the echoes of their parents deaths will never stop reverberating until another shocking accident changes everything once again.

White tackles a topic which I’m sure every parent has worried about. What will happen to my kids if I die? This issue is further complicated for blended families. Ruthie and Julia end up in completely different situations and their relationship suffers as a result.

I give A Soft Place to Land 4 out of 5 stars


Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas

From the back cover: Hennie Comfort is eighty-six and has lived in the mountains of Middle Swan, Colorado since before it was Colorado.  Nit Spindle is just seventeen and newly married.  She and her husband have just moved to the high country in search of work.  It’s 1936 and the depression has ravaged the country and Nit and her husband have suffered greatly.  Hennie notices the young woman loitering near the old sign outside of her house that promises “Prayers For Sale”.  Hennie doesn’t sell prayers, never has, but there’s something about the young woman that she’s drawn to.  The harsh conditions of life that each have endured create an instant bond and an unlikely friendship is formed, one in which the deepest of hardships are shared and the darkest of secrets are confessed. 

I loved this book and think you might too. In fact, I was reading it one day at soccer practice and another woman came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed the book. Nit and Hennie, although vastly different in ages, become good friends and confidants through Hennie’s stories and their love of quilting. This book will make you stay up past your bedtime.

I give Prayers For Sale 5 out of 5 stars

 Do you have any recommendations for me?


Always Be Prepared

My son just walked in on me in the bathroom.

His face was a look of horror.

But it’s not what you think.

I was using his old baseball shirt to wipe my daughter’s rear end since there was not a proper wipe to be found in our house, our car, or her school bag.

I really don’t know what he’s so worked up about.

After all, he’s a boy scout and you know their motto.

“Always be prepared.”

I was.

Later while flipping through his Boy Scout book I realized my diaper changing skills earned me the Home Repairs, The Pioneering, and the Plumbing merit badges.

Outside Set

I don’t even tell my husband when I’m planning on a trip to the resale store.

It just stresses him out.

He begins envisioning long hours behind a sander and even more time with a paint brush in hand.

A few weeks ago I went and saw this for $39.99. (There were two cushions and a piece of glass,  I just forgot to take a picture before I started working on the set.)

I asked the guy if that was his final offer.

He said, “You can have it for $29.99 as long as you take it away today.”


Honestly, I have no idea if it was a decent bargain or not, I just knew I needed a place to park my rear end while my kids are playing outside. (Yes, I play with my kids outside but there are days when this mommy just wants to sit and flip through a magazine too.)

Please pardon the enormous, in your face pictures, I was having some technical difficulties (a.k.a. I wanted to hurry up and watch The Real Housewives).

Did I take the time to sand this puppy? No I did not.

I simply sprayed him with an outdoor gray spray and called it done.

I also found an outdoor fabric I loved for the chairs and placed it right over the existing green covers.

The final project on our new deck.

My rear end gives this project two cheeks up! Awful, I know.

Have you finished any recent house projects?

It’s a Blogiversary!

Exactly one year ago today I published my first post.

This is my 239th post.

I never thought I would be a blogger in a million years. What do I have to say? Turns out I have a lot to say. Sometimes the words were kind, sometimes painful, sometimes humorous, sometimes judgmental, and sometimes sarcastic.

When I started pondering a blog,  I assumed my blog would focus primarily on crafting projects. Along the way I discovered I enjoyed writing about life and it’s ups and downs. There have been many wonderful moments and a few sad. I never imagined opening up as much as I did in the spring but I don’t regret it. This blog gave me an outlet for my feelings and I thank you for encouraging me along the way.

When you write a blog there’s really no way of knowing if anyone else really benefits. Sure, people are nice and leave comments but did my post really add anything to their day?

I received this email last week and felt it was the perfect exclamation on my first year.

Thank you so much for the Lego bingo game!!! I printed it out; then laminated it all so that we could play it over and over again using dry erase markers. We had to come up with a super fun birthday party for my son, for obvious reasons, but also because he had a bone marrow transplant and isn’t allowed to be around other people (only close family). This is one of the components that made his birthday so special and so much fun that I don’t think he even realized there weren’t any other kids there… Anyhow, THANK YOU so much, I am very grateful! –  Jenica

Jenica – Thank you so much for your message – it made my day, in fact, it made my whole year – sometimes I wonder if anyone really benefits from my blog besides myself so this was great to hear. Best of luck to your little guy and your whole family. I’m glad he loved his birthday – let me know what you decide to do next year for his birthday – I’d be glad to make another game for him.Jennifer

Jennifer, I just wanted to let you know that the benefit of your blogging is going to extend greater than my family. I am planning on printing more copies of Lego Bingo & laminating them to bring to the Seattle Children’s Hospital cancer floor. This children’s hospital does not have a play room, so children are hoping for things like this to fall into their hands. I know, because we were there… for way too long. We would have LOVED to have played this for hours. It is great because it doesn’t require much thinking- a major bonus for a child going through cancer treatment! The lamination will make the games easy to sanitize, which is huge! And I plan on making smaller versions of the game (by setting aside some characters & playing mats) so it would be easier to have a two or three player game (often times a child is alone with one parent). This might be more information than you wanted… sorry. But I do want you to know that you are going to make a lot of little kids very happy. Seems like such a small thing right? I guarantee, it is not 🙂 Again, thank you.Jenica.

Something I created made a difference for a little boy. That’s it. I’m completely satisfied with my first blogging year now.

I truly don’t know how long I will write for but thank each and every one of you who have taken a seat on this crazy ride I like to call Big D & Me.


Andrew, who’s six,  came home with some additional homework this week.

His assignment was to provide Tom the Turkey with a disguise so that he wouldn’t be cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

Andrew turned his turkey into an elf complete with a toy train in his left wing.

Turkey In Disguise

The next day I was eager to hear all about the other students’ turkeys.

Andrew explained, “There was a Yoda, a Harry Potter, and a cow.

Jane made a cow. She took a paper bag and covered her turkey with it and pasted a cow head on it.

It looks like a kid made it.”

Apparently, art at five and half is just childish while art at six qualifies you to work at the Guggenheim.

The Look

Do I need to eat my dinner?

Do I need to take a nap?

Do I need to help clean up?

The answer is no and let me tell you why.

I am a super hero.

I’ve got more important things to do.

Now stop wasting my time and let me get back to saving the world.