Archive | homemade gifts


A few years ago I wrote this post but never got around to finishing/editing it. I think LOVE LETTERS are wonderful during Valentine’s Day…but honestly they are just as valuable the rest of the year! Paigey made these sweet & simple Valentine’s for her friends {with doily’s and some glitter letters} a couple of years ago. They got me thinking about how simple it really is to sit down and write a little love letter.
Grown-ups need notes of affection too {not just home-made Valentine’s once a year}! And kids need to hear from their parents about how and why they are loved. This can easily be done by writing texts or Facebook messages but isn’t it great to get something tangible? Like a hand written letter or lunchbox note that can be held…or something beautifully typed that can be looked at again and again? Here are a few ideas to make Love Letter’s a priority {something I absolutely struggle with but want to improve}!
::Love Letter Journals::
Couples write in them regularly for each other as a way of documenting their letters in one spot. I used to make them as gifts by covering inexpensive composition notebooks with nice paper or magazine images. I eventually started covering them with mod-podge or packing tape to make them more  durable. Each book included a set of “fill-in-the-blank” prompt options to help inspire words of affection and appreciation {for those who don’t feel it’s as easy to write a letter off the top of their heads}. Some of the “fill-in-the-blank” prompt options that we used were:
I love you because…
Today I feel…
One thing you may not know about me…
One thing I need from you right now…
I wish I told you…more often
Thank you for…
You get the idea right? My husband and I have written in our LOVE LETTER journals {from time to time} over the years. It has been a great way to connect and truly communicate some of our feelings in a simple and tangible way.

::Simple Love Letters::

Some of my favorite love letters are simple, sweet letters from my guy that are scribbled on envelopes or napkins. Sometimes they are taped on the mirror and I leave them there. Sometimes they end up in my bible as a bookmark or I add them to my smashbook. I just love the “spur-of-the-moment” nature of these little notes and I will always cherish them.

::Letters to my Children::

Some people write a letter to their kids every year on their birthday. I love this. I am inspired to do it but haven’t made it a tradition yet. Some people do the LOVE LETTER journals with their kids also {don’t forget the easy “fill-in-the-blank” prompts above under LOVE LETTER journals}. I do know that even simple notes go a long way with my sweet babes. Sometimes we make special meals and I include a note of encouragement at their place setting {they love it}. Every so often I slip something sweet in their lunch boxes or write on their food with an edible pen…they think these gestures are great too! Let me just say that as a child myself I cherish notes from my parents. Now that my dad is gone I cling to the handful of notes he wrote me {and there were only a few} because they help me know I was loved and thought of by him. I want my kids to feel that way from me and have a tangible way to see it.

::Letters to my Friends::

I’m not great about this. I do try to text my friends when I am thinking about them but writing an actual note and sending it is not easy for me {totally lame, I know}. One of these days I’m going to get better about this and in the meantime I love looking at all the fun printable note-cards out there {just check out Etsy and/or Pinterest for some good finds as many are even free}. I have even heard of friends using the journals to create a “Circle Journal” where they write in it and then pass it on to each other and keep going from there {don’t forget the easy “fill-in-the-blank” prompts above under LOVE LETTER journals}.

::Type it Up::

I cherish handwritten notes from my loved ones {especially those who have passed away} but if journals or handwritten notes are not your thing you can always type something up. Here are a few LOVE LETTER FONTS from Ella Claire.


make your own {DISNEY} t-shirt

design your own t-shirtDo you want to make a custom t-shirt that your kids will love? You can do it. It’s quick, cheap and easy!

IMG_1213This is the shirt I made my little boy for one of our Disneyland trips.

He loved it and did not want to take it off! And it was so easy to make! Win/Win!

::what you will need::

iron-on transfer kit

{I used one from Target designed for dark-colored shirts}

printer for a printed image

{use a free printable or graphic and print on your kits provided transfer paper-be sure to look at your kits directions to see if it needs to be printed right side up or in reverse}

 shirt of choice {pre-washed}

{I used a plain, black, long sleeve cotton t-shirt from Target}

iron, lint-roller & scissors


 It’s very important to follow the directions from the purchased iron-on transfer kit. As you will see in my pictures below I simply washed and dried the shirt {I removed lint as well}, printed the image, cut it out, ironed it on the shirt and let it set.

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::my printed image source::

I used a template from the our printer that was connected to Disney’s family fun website {unfortunately I cannot find it online for y’all}…but you can check out their website HERE

Here are some extra printable ideas!

Make sure you are using something considered a FREE printable and not a copyrighted image.

Just remember to follow the directions of your iron-on transfer paper before printing, as some need you to reverse the image first. This can be a little more tricky and requires some extra steps so check it out before you print.

Please note that you may need to get creative {and not all of these images will work} but you can find a colorful & complete graphic to make almost anything work.

If you like this method the possibilities are endless…find tons of FREE unique, vintage and decorative images HERE at the Graphics Fairy {great for your home, pillows, cloths, prints and/or homemade gifts}.


canvas fun {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101

My sweet friend Ann {and mentor mom at our MOPS} came up with this very creative project. Ann is the closest person to Martha Stewart that I know. She sews, cooks, bakes, crafts…she is an amazing Grandma and just knows how to do a lot of things that most of us cannot seem to get around to learning. I hope you enjoy this project she came up with. The possibilities are endless. Make them with holiday art, sheet music, family pictures…whatever you can imagine! This would make a great activity for older kids, a nice hostess gift or simply a nice way to decorate your own home. Have fun creating! HERE is another great canvas tutorial method with photos if you need further inspiration. {P.S. Be sure to print images from the internet that you have been given permission to print…there are several site like the graphics fairy that have tons of free vintage images. You just don’t want to “steal” someone original work…so just check your sources.}




Canvas Fun: Make Your Own Holiday Wall Art

Mod Podge on Canvas

Materials needed:

White Artist Canvas 8 X 8 or size you prefer

Picture of your choice, printed on an ink jet or laser printer

{in the same size as your canvas}

Mod Podge (I use Matte finish)

Paint Brush or Foam Brush

Acrylic Paints

Glitter Glue



  1. Using a paint brush or foam brush, lightly coat the surface of the canvas with Mod Podge. Be careful to completely cover the canvas, but don’t apply too thickly.
  2. Turn your picture over to the wrong side, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge. Again, do not apply too thickly but cover entire surface.
  3. Place wrong side of picture on top of canvas and smooth out with your fingers. Don’t press too hard as this can cause damage to the print, but try to get all of the bubbles out.
  4. WAIT! This is the hard part! You have to wait until your canvas is completely dry before you put your next coat of Mod Podge on. I usually wait at least 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Once canvas is dry, put a light coat of Mod Podge on the top. Let dry and repeat this process. Two to three coats will do the trick.
  6. Make sure your canvas is dry before you start embellishing. This is the fun part! Be creative and use whatever you want to enhance your picture.
  7. When you’re done embellishing you can apply a spray-on Acrylic finishing coat if you wish (EnviroTex High Gloss Sealer)

Homemade Glitter Glue

{that won’t flake off}

Materials needed:

1 T Mod Podge

1 T Glitter (I prefer the fine glitter, but both will work)

Popsicle stick


Mix the Mod Podge and Glitter using a popsicle stick. It will look somewhat thick and opaque. Use a paintbrush and adhere to the surface you want to cover, as you would paint. Don’t worry about the opaqueness while applying. It will dry clear and sparkly!

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great catering advice & recipes {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101My friend Stephanie is amazing. She is our MOPS coordinator and she is fun, creative and beautiful {inside and out}. She is a total foodie and has done catering for years {oh yeah and she is a pastry chef & mom of two}. Somehow she manages to whip up amazing food & great decor for her home and for church events, she organize MOPS seamlessly and takes care of her family all while looking cute.

Here is the display and food she shared with our group last week and some great catering/party advice! Hope you appreciate her advice and recipes as much as I do!

{P.S. I took these pictures very quickly and apologize for their poor quality}

DSC_0061::Party Food Tips::


  • If you’re having just an evening function with no dinner, plan on at least 10 – 15 pieces per person. Round up, especially if it’s going to be served buffet style, as people tend to eat more than if a tray is passed.
  • If you’re serving pre-dinner appetizers, plan on 3 – 5 pieces per person, and choose lighter food options, as dinner will follow.


  • Plan on about 3 beverages per person for party, with coffee drinkers consuming on average one cup every 1 1/2 hours


  • People usually drink 2 beverages on average – either juice, coffee, tea, etc.
  • Plan on a main entrée per person, along with two sides, including bread. Fruit makes a great and healthy breakfast dessert. Estimate about 3 – 5 pieces of cut fruit per person, or one cup or less of fruit salad.
  • If you’re serving pastries only, plan on 2 pieces per person.


  • For hors d’oeuvres, plan on 2 – 4 per person.
  • Offer a main entrée with 2 – 3 sides, including a starch and a dessert.
  • Offer a selection of drinks, including soda, beer, lemon water, etc.
  • If you’re having sandwiches, allow for 1 -2 per person (cut in half).


  • Have 3 – 5 hors d’oeuvres per person, depending on the number of courses.
  • Plan on a main entrée and 2 – 3 sides, either veggies, beans, pasta, etc.
  • Offer small portions of bread, salad, or soup.
  • Always have water, along with other beverages.


  • Plan on 1 – 3 servings per person. (Depending on size)
  • Offer one slice of cake, tart or pastry, or small serving of a creamy dessert, i.e. mousse.
  • If you have a large variety, serve smaller portions. (2-3 per person if doing small portions)
  • Coffee consumption peeks after dessert is served.


Homemade Caramel Dip


Sweetened Condensed Milk

Small Mason Jars for Storing

Crock Pot


1. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into glass jars that will fit in your slow cooker. You can cook this right in the can, but I’m leery of the lining of the can. You’re going to store it in something after you cook it, anyway, so just pick some jars you like with tight-sealing lids.  Tighten them as much as possible, so nothing leaks in or out.

2. Place the jars in your slow cooker and cover with water. It’s important that they be covered with water, or they could explode. No, mine didn’t, but I didn’t want to test it! Put the slow cooker lid on, turn it on low, and let it cook 7 to 8 hours, until the caramel is, well, a caramel color. The water should be simmering, but not boiling.  I had to turn mine to high for a couple of hours at the beginning to get the water temp high enough.

3. Remove from the hot water and let cool, then enjoy with sliced apples. Store any extra in the refrigerator, since we didn’t really process these like you would in canning to make them shelf stable.

One can of sweetened condensed milk made one full jar and about 2/3 of the other 8 oz jar. It doesn’t expand or contract while cooking, so the amounts in the jars will be the same after cooking as before. This would make an AWESOME hostess gift!

Recipe from


Prosciutto Pinwheels


1 Box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed

2/3 cup Dijon mustard

¾ lb. prosciutto, thinly sliced

Provolone cheese


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Working with one sheet of the puff pastry, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a 14-inch square. Brush with a thin layer of mustard (using 1/3 cup). Cover with half the prosciutto and half the Provolone, leaving ½” uncovered along all four edges.

2. Roll pastry tightly from one edge. Pinch seams to seal Cut into ½” pieces and place cut side down on baking sheet, 1” apart.

3. Repeat with remaining puff pastry sheet.

4. Bake in oven for 10-15 minutes

Mini Brie en Croute with Cranberry Sauce


–        1 box (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, thawed

–        1 –  8 oz Brie wheel

–        Cranberry Sauce (homemade or store-bought)

–        Mini Muffin Tin


  1. Spray muffin tin, and cut thawed puff pastry sheets in 3”x 3” squares.
  2. Place 1 square into each muffin tin, and fill with a piece of Brie and a spoonful of cranberry sauce.
  3. Bake in the oven according to package or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

“Triple Berry Sauce”

Recipe in MOPS cookbook page 25


–        1 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrate, thawed

–        1/3 cup sugar, plus a little more depending on taste

–        12 oz. fresh cranberries, washed and drained

–        ½ cup dried cranberries

–        3 tbsp. orange marmalade

–        2 tbsp. fresh orange juice

–        2 tsp orange zest

–        ½ tsp. ground allspice

–        Dash of cinnamon


  1. Combine cranberry juice and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add fresh and dried cranberries. Cook until dried berries soften and fresh berries pop. Stir often for approx. 7 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Cool Completely.
  4. Cover and chill until cold, about 2 hours.
  5. Can be made 3 days ahead. Enjoy!

Wine & Cheese Pairing:

 Brie – Chardonnay

 Gouda – Merlot

 Sharp White Cheddar – Cabernet Sauvignon

 Parmesan – Chianti

 Gruyere – Sauvignon Blanc

 Blue –  Riesling

 Ricotta – Pinot Grigio

 Mozzarella – Sauvignon Blanc

Fun Water Combinations:

Just add ingredients to water.  It adds flavor and looks pretty too!

–        All Citrus

–        Raspberry Lime

–        Watermelon Rosemary

–        Blackberry Sage

–        Pineapple Mint


DSC_0076{Compiled by Stephanie Mcdaniels, over 10 years of experience in the Hotel & Restaurant Industry}


nail & yarn pumpkin board {holiday hospitality 101}

holiday hospitality 101

Remember that cute nail & yarn pumpkin board that I decorated with this year? Check it out HERE. My sweet friend Jessica {from DIY Swenson Style} was inspired by some ideas she saw on pinterest to create this great craft.  With the help of her creative team she compiled and created this great craft for MOPS recently.

This is a great DIY project to make for:

Yourself: It’s simple to make for yourself if you don’t have very many holiday decor items to decorate your home.

A Hostess Gift: Maybe you need to make it for a nice hostess gift this Thanksgiving. Simple and unique

Christmas Gifts: Or you may just need this idea to inspire you to do a twist on the pumpkin and make some Christmas gifts {think monogram letter or Christmas tree}.

A Quick Craft with Kids: Kids can help with some of the steps {depending on their age and patience level}. What boy doesn’t love to hammer! This took around 20-30 minutes {not including the prep for the wood…the lovely Jessica did this for us ahead of time}. Grant only helped me hammer a few nails but he felt very proud of his work.

Either way it’s simple and cute.

So just go do it!


::what you will need::

a small board {scrap wood, painted or stained}

a nail template printed on regular paper {print out a basic image and add “x” marks for the nail placement…see pictures for more ideas on how to do this yourself}

masking tape {to tape down template}

40-50 small nails {uniform in size}


yarn {color of choice}

::how to make it::

This is pretty basic. Print out a template, mark where the nails should go, tape to board that is already panted or stained, add nails 1/4 into board to make secure, pull off paper, add yarn in a uniform pattern to look like the pumpkin {see white version} or just make a crazy crisscross creation like we did {see orange version}. And the fun part is figuring out where wot display it in your home.

See my step by step pictures below:

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