Handmade Gifts, Part 2 (still patting myself on the back)

Ok, so I’m  s l o w l y  returning to the blogging thing, post-holiday, and due to the fact that I kind of checked out last week, that means I have a load of holiday-related things to share with you (still)!

I know, Christmas is over.  Move on.

But I can’t let go — yet.  I even thought I could justify it and say that I was still within the realm of the “Twelve Days of Christmas,” even though I don’t really acknowledge or celebrate that. (What am I talking about?  Ask Wikipedia.)

However, Twelfth Night was January 5th, so now it’s just getting tacky.  Whatever.   I decided to embrace the tacky, and go ahead and do a little show-and-tell of the other handmade gifts in my life, this time the ones that Josh and I received (you may remember the previous post where we talked about the gifts we gave).

First, let’s start with the handmade gifts Josh and I gave each other:

dog silhouettes

Yeah, you’re probably thinking “That’s a lot of dogs.”  Let me explain:  I gave Josh the framed black and white photo, and Josh gave me the two silhouettes, you know, of our dogs.  Yeah, we basically gave each other the same thing.  Creepy, right?  And this was all done unbeknownst to the other (and by the way, we didn’t tell any friends or family who may have spilled it to either of us).  Creepier still, my first plan was to make silhouettes, too.  I planned on using this photo, but we didn’t have any black paper and I didn’t have a lot of time — Christmas Eve gift making, how shameful — so I didn’t follow through with my original plan (little did I know it would look just as good in white!).  So, I spray painted this frame that Josh found at the street on trash day, made a matte out of lime green paper, and framed the photo.

Josh was feeling far more ambitious.  He took two frames (he found these at the street on trash day, also), printed out the same photo on regular printer paper, cut it out, traced it (it ended up being the mirror image side) and then cut that out as well.  He backed it with lime green paper (needless to say, we have an abundance of lime green paper).

When we opened them — which happened to be at the same time — we had a weird case of the Twilight-Zones, and then accused each other of somehow stealing each other’s ideas, perhaps using a magic wand and a Pensieve when the other was sleeping.

Then we realized that was silly and decidedly attributed the coincidence to our compatibility.  Aww….. :)

And our crazy obsession with our dogs.

And maybe the fact that we walk by the Courtney silhouette everyday (this was done when I was like 6).

See it there on the table next to the Eiffel Tower ornament?

Who knows?  But we love them both and look forward to hanging them on our soon-to-be art wall (details in blog post form to follow).

Moving on to some of the handmade gifts we received from family…

My mother-in-law, knowing well of my loves for orange and green, recycling, and handmade gifty-ness, crocheted this reusable tote for me:

hand crocheted grocery bag

I love it!!!  Things like this amaze me to no end, because I have ZERO crocheting/knitting/sewing/anything-domestic-other-than-cooking skills.

My sister-in-law (a loyal GPP subscriber) took part of this blog’s paisley background image and made it into the lid of a magnetic box:

personalized box

Recognize the pattern?  Yeah, I literally squealed when I opened it.  And even better, when I opened the (magnetic) lid, I found a pair of earring that she had made for me!

I asked her where she had the box made, and she said she wouldn’t tell me (it’s a secret she feels she must keep as she has so many gifts made through this company).  However, she did say it was a website that I had mentioned on here before.  Considering that I’ve linked up to hundreds of websites in the 63 posts I’ve written since starting this on September 12, 2011… yeah, I’m sort of scratching my head on this one.

Sigh.  Maybe one day she’ll reveal her mystical secrets…

Amanda, the aforementioned secretive sister-in-law, gave Josh a framed shadow box of the Triforce (from the Zelda games):

triforce art

(Sorry for the overly-reflective picture. this was the best of a dozen attempts, believe me).

Now, I couldn’t be less interested in video games possibly, but even this made me go “OOOHHH!”  The picture doesn’t do it any justice, but in person, it looks gooood (Scouts’ honor).  And little did Amanda know we were slowly accumulating things for our art wall!  Perfectly timed.

The next gift is also one of those funny coincidences because it was something I had planned on blogging about, but hadn’t gotten around to yet.  As a fun way to give us some cash, my mother-in-law made origami with some dollar bills:

snail origami dollar bill

dollar bill rocket ship origami

dollar bill origami swan

dollar bill mens shirt origami

I think they turned out great!  I especially love the men’s shirt origami.  She also made an origami star, but no matter how many different angles I tried, I could not take a picture of it where it actually looked like a star (but it does in person, I promise).

You can find the how-to’s all over the internet; just do a Google search for dollar bill origami (and I recommend ironing your dollar bills on a low setting before starting — they’re made of cotton, they can handle it).

Hope you enjoyed the highlights of some of our handmade gifts!  From here on out, I will try my best to not mention the holidays… at least until… September?!  (I’ve got to do another Twelve Weeks of Christmas series next year, too!)


You might also enjoy…

Handmade Gifts (Show-and-Tell Part 1)

State String Art

This picture of my dog:

See the little nose poking out from under the cushion?  Yeah she’s pretty weird awesome.


Things that (P)inspire Me: Teacher/Neighbor Gifts

**To read previous post in this series, go here.

This week’s “Things that (P)inspire Me” post could be best friends with the “Twelve Weeks of Christmas” series… total B.F.F.  This week, I want to look at Teacher/Neighbor gifts, but with a GPP spin — thrifty, crafty, and heart-warming (I just added the “heartwarming” part for today…. it seemed appropriate).

As I mentioned in this previous post, I think it’s important to remember teachers, neighbors, and any service providers during the holiday season, as they are often underpaid and under-appreciated.  This doesn’t mean you need to give them something particularly personal, as you are not necessarily “friends” with them, but some gesture will always be well-received (I speak from 6+ years as a teaching artist).

So, I have turned to Pinterest as a vehicle for organizing these ideas, and along the way I’ve offered my own tips.  A lot of these “pins” are things I have tried before but didn’t get any pictures.  As always, please click on the image for a link to the source website.


Epsom Salt & Sugar scrub

Ooohh… spa-tastic.  I made these last year for my mom, mother-in-law, and Josh’s aunts (so does that make them my aunts-in-law?).  At the time, I just used epsom salt, pure olive oil, and Vitamin E oil, but I like this recipe even more (and it’s just as easy/cheap).  Here’s a pic (it’s from Do It Yourself Crafts).

I especially like these during winter because they exfoliate as well as moisturize.

DIY Sewing Kits

Pinned Image

This super cute sewing kit was made over at Frugaliciousme.com.  The creator of this particular project was inspired by a similar (but far less cute) sewing kit at Anthropologie, originally priced for $48.00 (what!??!?).  This could easily be done for less than $4.  Dollar Tree has sewing kits for $1, mason jars can easily be purchased at any craft store or Wal-mart.  The top part is a pin cushion, and that could be made just by gluing polyfill (or balled-up plastic grocery bags), and covering with fabric.  Perhaps another option for a more firmly packed pin cushion would be to fill a nylon knee high with sand, tie the end, then cover with fabric.  Attach a label or tag, and ba-bam!

I want one!

Heating Pads and Hand Warmers

Pinned Image

This particular project comes from The In Between Girls, however I have been using the same method for years.  These hearts are actually meant to be used as hand warmers, but if they were made bigger, they’d be great as heating pads to treat sore muscles.  My grandmother has made countless heating pads this way (she sewed them).  I did the non-sewing kind myself, and all it took was a clean tube or knee high sock (though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this kind of presentation with a gift), filled with rice, and closed with a knot on the end.  Stick in the microwave for about a minute, and that’s it!  When filling with rice, I would recommend not letting it be too packed in, because you want it to have some flexibility, especially if you want to be able to wrap it around your neck (but not in a creepy way).

Linen Spray

homemade linen spray

homemade linen spray

Yeah, I pinned myself.  I made these the other day, but I really believe they’d be perfect for acquaintances like teachers and neighbors.  In case you missed it, here’s a link to check out the whole tutorial.

Obviously, these ideas have a bit of a girly touch to them, so maybe your loyal mailman or child’s T-ball coach wouldn’t appreciate linen spray or heart-shaped hand warmers as much as…. sayme (“Cold hands are for sissies!”).

That’s where baked goods come in!  Here’s a link to a GREAT resource for even more teacher/neighbor gifts for both genders:  Sassy Sites: 161 Gift Ideas.  If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see a lot of fun ideas for the DIY-challenged.  I’ll admit some of these are a bit kitschy-er than I would probably do, but they could definitely be a good jumping off point for you.  Here are two (less kitschy) examples:

S’mores Kit


Cowgirl Cookies (or cowboy)

Put all the ingredients into a jar and attach directions.  Mmm……

Cowgirl Cookies

Hope these help you in the gift scramble!   (Christmas is only two weeks away, after all — Eesh!)

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Other things you might like…

Things that (P)inspire Me

Twelve Weeks of Christmas

This hilarious picture of Ryan Gosling:

It’s like he’s speaking directly to me?  Right?!?