Friday, October 24, 2014

Flashback Friday: 22 Handmade Christmas Present Ideas


Can you believe we're getting close to Christmas? I think I saw something online about it only being 60 days away. Crazy! Halloween might actually be a pretty nice day. When I was in 1st grade, we had a huge snow storm (I was living in North Dakota at the time). I remember that the snow was taller than me. My brother and I had to be lifted over my parent's heads to even make it to doors since the snow was above my parents' waists!

Every year I try to make something for my children for Christmas, and I try to start early. I like the idea of handmade gifts. To be honest, the handmade gifts I received over the years are the ones that are still sticking around and probably being used by my kids today. However, on Christmas morning it seems like the handmade gifts get thrown to the side for the cool, usually very loud, shiny new toys. A little something inside of me dies when I see that. (Probably some of my ego) But usually they come back to playing with the handmade gifts. Right now they are loving their felt food and kitchen, high chair and dress up closet.

I decided for this Flashback Friday I would share some of the past projects I've done. I can also give you an update on how things have held up. (Sharpie Mugs are still going strong!)

Color Block Wooden Spoons

Believe it or not, these spoons have found their way into the dishwasher and are still painted! I would add to my previous tutorial (which can be found here) that you will want to cover the spoon part when you spray or paint anything. You want to keep the surfaces that touch food food safe.
Sharpie Mugs

I asked my aunt today if her sharpie mugs were faded or colorless. I had assumed they were since so many people had issues with theirs out in the blogsphere. My aunt said hers still look brand new. She does handwash her mugs to keep them looking new. (Click here for the tutorial)

Indoor Snowballs

I made these as part of our Frozen party, but they would be a great gift to little kids (and they're super easy). You could make up a nice drawstring bag to match. Ours are still getting plenty of use 6 months later.  (Click here for the tutorial)

Custom Flour Sacks

I did this for myself as well as the grandmas in my life. One idea is to use handprints of each of the kids (or grandkids). I also like punny kitchen sayings. (Let's be honest. I like punny sayings in general. It's the mom gene.) (Click here & here  for the posts)

Kennel Cover

This gift is for the hunters and/or dog lovers in your life. It took me a while to get this done, but it's gotten plenty of use since I made it. Cash also loves not freezing his bum off when he's stuck in the back of a pick up truck. (Click here for the post) Dog beds are also super easy as well as braided fleece chew toys!

Arm Knitted Scarf

I just learned how to arm knit this past month. I made my daughter a cowl to go under her snowsuit and a matching one for her doll. It's only about $10.00 and an hour of work to get a really neat gift idea! (Click here for the post) You could also be really ambitious and make a throw blanket or rug.
Elsa (or Princess) Dress

I made this Elsa dress in one night. It's pretty easy to make a straight dress like this. I just wrapped the fabric around my daughter and sewed up the side. I added the cape and sleeves, and my daughter is ready to never "Let It Go"...hehe more puns. (Click here for post)

Headbands and Bows

You don't need to know how to sew for this project. You just need a hot glue gun and a little bit of fabric. Try matching it to the princess dress you just made. (Click here and here for the posts)

Reversible Casserole Cover

I made these for a couple of friends a few years ago. I regret not making one for myself. I love how the fabric reverses and the fact they're thermal. And cute. Don't forget cute! (Click here for the post)

Coffee Cozy

This is a super simple project. I love to make these and pair them with a Starbucks gift card. (Click here for the post)

Camera Strap Cover

This is a great idea for those photographers or someone you know is getting a new camera for the holiday. You can make this to slip on their strap so they have something bright on their camera. (Click here for the post)
Therapy Sacks

I have made these for some of my older relatives/friends who have the occasional ache and pains. I infuse them with just a hint of smell if I know that's something they will like. They make the house smell so good! (Click here for the post)
Fishing Set

This is a pretty easy project you can do even if you don't have a sewing machine. You could even use a hot glue gun if you didn't want to hand sew the fish yourself. Hint: You can always use a hot glue gun. (Click here for the post)

Felt Food

These toys have gotten a ton of play in our house. I'm actually making more for this Christmas. I have planned on a pizza and more sandwich type things. (Click here for the post)

Hooded Towels

This is one item that we use all the time. I want to make another set that is more playful like superhero capes. (Click here for the post)

Wooden Popsicle Set

This project was an idea from Ana White. I love love love the idea. I'm so happy my mother-in-law helped me with this one. It was a big hit and after two years, it's getting used pretty much twice a week. That has to be a toy record in this house! (Click here for the post)

Dinosaur Tail

This one for the boys (and girls!) Who doesn't want to be a dinosaur? "Rawr" was one of my kids first words. It's a pretty easy sewing project (yet could use the hot glue gun too). I want to wear it myself. (Click here for the post)

DIY Wooden Puzzle

I like to think I came up with this idea on my own, but it was really my mother-in-law's idea. I did do the work myself and I'm pretty happy with the result. My daughter is much bigger now (and beyond this type of puzzle), but it's been good for learning how to spell her name. (Click here for the post)

High Chair and Wardrobe

I don't have links for these two awesome projects, because my super crafty brother made them! Craft runs in the family. He got the wardrobe plans from Ana White. He did have to modify it a bit from the plans because there were some issues with the length of the closet rod. (I believe he said it was too short in the plans). The highchair was hand painted by his now wife.


This project is very nice. You can use scrapbook paper or photographs. You just need tiles and some Mod Podge! (Click here for the post.)

Hot Chocolate Spoons

I did these a couple of years ago. I wasn't overly impressed by the recipe, so I would suggest doing some searches on Pinterest. They do work pretty slick.

$2.00 Solar Light Mason Jars

I made these a couple of years ago. They faded after a couple of years. I decided I was going to try them again with outdoor fabric (or spray Scotchgard on the cotton fabric). Otherwise they worked good for years! (Click here for the post)

Do you have any handmade ideas? I'd love some more projects to put under the tree!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Show & Tell: The Power of Adding and Painting Trim


We are working hard on Ugly House. One the best ways to make a huge change is paint. We had some other work to do before we could start painting the upstairs, but paint sure made a change when I finally got around to it. I painted both our trim and our walls. I use the word "I" because my husband is hopeless when it comes to paint. He gets it everywhere....on the ceiling, floor, furniture, himself, kids and dogs. He also loves to stop after a few minutes so I have a haphazard half finished wall. His painting privileges were revoked two houses ago. It was probably part of a master plan to avoid all future painting projects. I only wish I would have thought of it...

Prep Work

First of all, we added a cap to the trim around the baseboards and window trim. We brought in our current trim and worked with a very helpful lady at Lowes to find pieces that would properly fit our current style of trim.

Since we didn't use real wood, it was a fairly small investment for such a large space. (Entire upstairs was less than $200.00) The change is most noticeable around our windows. I would prefer the larger craftsman style trim (and real wood), and we might upgrade to that type of trim in the future when we replace all the windows and flooring on the first floor. Having a nail gun made this project pretty fast moving. We don't have a miter saw (yet...I have one on my Christmas list) so we just used a hand saw and miter box to cut each piece. My husband put the trim up, and I followed behind filling in holes and gaps with wood filler. I also had some nail heads still sticking up, so I used a nail set and hammer to get them recessed below the surface of the wood.

Baseboards Before

Baseboards After

Doors/Windows Before

Doors/Windows After

If you're adding a cap to your trim like us, you'll want to go through all the trim pieces with paintable caulk to fill in any gap between the new and old trim. We made the mistake of doing this after I primed. Don't do that! Make sure you do the caulk before you start sanding so you don't sand off your primer and have to start over.

To paint trim that has been stained and sealed, you'll need to give the paint something to stick to. It may be easier for you to remove your trim to paint, especially if you're putting new floors in. I struggled with this decision. Our timeline is all screwed up due to the ugly wall still being up between the kitchen and living room. Ideally, we would remove trim, put new floors in, paint trim while it's off, paint wall while trim is off, attach trim, fill holes, and touch up paint. We can't do flooring until the ugly wall is down. So I decided to go through with painting, leaving the trim intact, but holding off on finishing the trim with caulk until after the flooring is done.

The wall that is going to be removed (including the scifi doorway).

To get your trim ready for paint, you will want to give it some roughness. Since we were adding trim, I needed to sand in all the tiny nail holes I filled in with wood filler and anywhere the caulk had created a rough finish. While I was sanding, I made sure to do a couple of swipes on the trim. After lightly sanding, I did do a bit of taping. I used painters tape with an Exacto knife to cover hinges. It's not exactly perfect, but any paint generally gets off with my fingernail or a bit of steel wool

I coated the wood with a good primer. If you can handle the smell, this is a good place to spring for the heavy duty oil based primer. Trim does, after all, take a good beating. I decided to stick with water based, because I'd rather deal with flaking paint than the clean up oil based paint. (Doesn't make any sense, and it's a sure fire way to hate myself in a couple of months or years).

Trim with Primer


There isn't much to painting the trim. I use my Purdy 2 inch brush. I also use a paint shield on the floor since taping is pretty much the devil. I found that I got pretty good with cutting in with my Purdy brush, so I didn't need to use the shield once I started with my wall color. (For all my painting tips, click here). The grey color is "Grey Frost" by Olympic One at Lowes. I love that brand of paint and the color.

We first painted our trim and then moved on to the walls. If we were painting the ceiling (we have a different treatment in mind), we would have done that before painting the walls.

I am still working on finishing up all the upstairs paint and then I'll move on to the bathroom, then family room and basement bathroom. Eventually I'll finish up our bedroom and my office. I hate painting so much, but the result is instant gratification!

The Living Room right after moving in.

Living Room after trim and walls were painted.

The entryway after moving in.

The entryway after painting banister and starting trim. I still have to finish the trim and paint the wall grey. Don't you love the beat up gate at the top of our stairs? Our son is old enough to go down the stairs, but the dogs aren't smart enough to avoid knock him down them, so it stays...for now.

The kitchen window after moving in (mid kitchen renovation).

The kitchen after cabinets and window trim being painted. I still need to finish the back splash, finish soffet and add in some shelves next to the window.