Memorial Pendants

Sometime last year, I saw this photo of memorial pendants on Pinterest.  These are pendants that have a loved one’s writing on it.

As with many ideas I see, I thought, “I can make that myself!”  And I thought it would be a perfect gift for my mom for Christmas – with my Dad’s handwriting.

The photo I saw stated that the pendants were made from salt dough.  So I googled a recipe and whipped some up.

I spent a while in my garage, digging through boxes, to find some letters my father had written me while I was in college.

My Dad was on disability all the years I was in college, so he had a lot of time on his hands.  He wrote me a lot of letters.  And being the packrat that I am, I kept all of them.   I tell you what, finding and reading all those letters was really special.  That was my Christmas gift to me!   My Dad was known for signing his letters and cards with “all my love”.

(Not to leave my mom out of this – she also wrote me a ton of letters – probably even more than my Dad!  I am sorry that I didn’t appreciate it then, but I do now.  I thanked her recently – and joked that she either really loves me or she was just suffering from the empty nest syndrome!)


Anyways, this is what my first version of the memorial pendant looked like – made out of salt dough.  I just wasn’t what I was hoping for.



The salt dough was hard to work with – it was particularly hard to get perfectly flat.  It is also somewhat brittle once it dries – so I didn’t think it would hold up well.  I had spray painted it with silver spray paint, then inked the handwriting, and then sprayed it with a clear sealant.  It just didn’t have the polished look I wanted.  (I will note that these would make great Christmas tree ornaments if made just a bit larger.  I even made some of these family fingerprint ornaments with my extra salt dough!)


So I took a different approach.  I went to Michael’s and bought silver clay.  The clay was much easier to work with and came out much smoother.  It was also easier to “write” on.

The steps I used:

(1)  Roll out the clay to about 1/8 inch thick (or whatever thickness you desire)

(2) Cut out circle shapes.  I used a bottle cap!  Use a toothpick to make a hole in the top for hanging.

(3)  A note about the handwriting – I initially thought I’d be able to kind of “imprint” the writing onto the pendant by tracing the handwriting over the pendant, and then carve it out.  I couldn’t find a way to get this method to work, though.  I couldn’t get an imprint by tracing that was actually useable and didn’t smoosh the pendant.  So I ended up just practicing the handwriting over and over myself, then carving it by hand on the pendant using a toothpick.

(4)  Bake using the manufacturer’s directions.

(5)  Use a nail file to smooth any rough edges or extra clay around the handwriting.

(5)  I used black acrylic paint to paint over the top of the pendant.  I wiped off the paint from the surface, leaving the paint in the handwriting to make it stand out a bit more.

(6)  Spray with sealant.


I also bought a chain and other jewelry supplies (rings and  charms) at Michael’s and here’s the finished product:



I love it and so did my mom!  A little piece of Dad, close to her heart.  ❤


(If you are interested in doing something like this and want another idea – these pendants are also something I’m thinking about trying next!  It would be a bit simpler – just make a copy of the handwriting you want, then use it – no forming or baking involved!)



Advent Calendar Ideas

This week I will be working on this year’s advent calendar for the kiddos.  Can’t believe it’s almost December already!

Hope you all had lovely Thanksgiving celebrations!

Here are a couple of handmade advent calendars we’ve done in past years:

::Christmas Tree Advent::

::Clothespin Advent::

We will be using the Clothespin Advent Calendar again this year… but with a couple of new twists!

Instead of paper bags, I will be using toilet paper tubes, decorated for Christmas and used as gift boxes!  (see this tutorial).

I try to have a good mix of both goodies and activities for the kids to do.  I found this fabulous printable list of advent activities that is going to be perfect.  Not to mention it’s going to save me some time and energy!

{By the way, both of those blogs are wonderful – I am a regular reader of both and I’m so thankful for awesome bloggers who are willing to share their great ideas!}


Crocheted Animal Hats

I have been seeing kids wearing earflap animal hats all over the place.  They seem to be quite popular.

So, our kids’ school auction is coming up and I thought I’d try my hand at making some. 

Here are the ones I made for the auction:

My favorites are the Angry Birds Hat and the Owl Hats.  I’ve been using the following websites for patterns, adjusting the patterns only a bit as necessary:

(Thanks to both of these bloggers for sharing patterns!!)

I’m still working on getting sizes right – going back and forth between patterns, stitches, and changing hook sizes – I still haven’t been able to make a hat that fits a school-aged child.  ha ha – and my hello kitty’s whiskers look more like eyelashes – guess I need more practice!  The owls and angry birds are preschool sized and the penguin and hello kitty are teen/adult sized!  It should be interesting to see if they sell at the auction and for how much!

After I see how well they sell on Saturday at the auction, I’m thinking about trying to make and sell them on my own.  What do you think?



Rolled Coffee-Filter Flower Valentine Wreath

Hi there! 

This is a project I worked on last spring… and never posted it because I’m not really fond of it!  ha ha.

Actually, I didn’t post it because I never really “finished” it to my liking.  I intended to cover the whole wreath in rolled coffee-filter flowers.

But rolling those silly flowers takes FOREVER!!!!!!

I dyed coffee filters pink, and rolled them up following instructions from here.

Here’s a close-up…

Then I stuck them in a foam wreath using pearl sewing pins.  And I rolled and stuck, rolled and stuck, rolled and stuck.

You get the idea. 

Then I got tired, and lazy.

And I decided I was done.

So I just ended up covering the rest of the wreath in white yarn and called it a day.

My words of advice to you – if you want to take on a project like this, buy a small wreath. 

Happy February!

Handmade Christmas Gifts and Projects

I love making people handmade gifts.  I did a lot of that this year.  But, because I stink at photography, I actually forgot to take photos of most of the things I made!  

Fortunately, most of the ideas came from either pinterest or blogs I frequent.  So in case any of you are interested in some good gift ideas (for next year?) I thought I’d link them up here.  I am so thankful for all the crafty folks who blog out there – I am good at replicating things I see, but not so good at thinking them up myself!


Get your glue gun ready!

Ceramic Tile Coasters

First, we made Christmas coasters for teacher gifts.  They were simple, turned out really cute, and were quite inexpensive.  We found ceramic tiles at the local Habitat for Humanity Restore for 10 cents each!  Can’t beat that!  Used scrapbooking paper, glue, felt, and ModPodge that I already had on hand.  Tutorial here.

Sign Post

Made this entryway sign post for my porch. 

Since this wasn’t a gift and I still have it, I could take a photo!  Again, quite easy and I’m excited about it because I can use it year-round.  I made a Christmas sign, a Thanksgiving sign, and a generic welcome sign (wood scraps and hardware came from the Restore, and the fence-post topper thingy came from Lowe’s).  Used paint I already had.  Got the idea for the sign post here.  I also used this idea for hand-painting letters.  It worked great.

Craft Stick Nativity

I made three of these handmade nativity scenes – gave two away and kept one for myself!  So easy and took only about 1 hour to finish one.  Used paint and fabric I already had.  Bought the wooden materials at Michael’s and the moss sheets at the Dollar Tree – spent about $10 – that made these three and I have some materials left over.  Tutorial here.  One thing I did differently was to use wooden pieces for the bodies rather than clay pots and I like the way it turned out.

My favorite memory from making these was that my 4 year old helped me paint some of the body pieces – she giggled when she said “I am painting God!”.  She meant the baby Jesus – but it was too cute.

Letter Photo Art

Made one of these for my niece.  Bought scrap wood from Home Depot (and had them cut it for me!) and frames from the Dollar Tree.  Again, I used paint I already had.  Instead of hot gluing the frames to the wood, though, I used hot glue and velcro tabs to attach the frames.  I wanted her to have the option of changing out the letters and putting photos in it in the future.  Great gift – fairly easy and inexpensive.  It seemed like picking out the letters, editing and printing them took the most time!

Scrabble Tile Ornaments

My nephew and his fiancee love to play scrabble.  So I made these Christmas ornaments for them.  One for each of them with their names, and one with their wedding date on it.  As long as you can find a scrabble game at a thrift store for cheap, you’re good to go!!  (and I got some of the tiles, including the numbers, from a friend who was willing to share!  Thanks!)  Instructions here.

White Chocolate Snack Mix

This is a favorite in our home, and perfect for gifting.  Put it in a cute little snack bag and it makes a great gift accompaniment.  (we gave this to the kids’ teachers as well!)

6 cups rice or corn chex (or a mixture of the two!)

3 cups cheerios

1 cup dry roasted peanuts

1 cup pretzel twists

12 ounces m&ms

1 pound white chocolate

Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl.  Melt white chocolate using the microwave or a double boiler.  Pour over mixture and stir to coat.  Spread out on waxed paper covered cookie sheets until chocolate is hardened and mixture is cool.  Store in an airtight container. 

Be careful because this stuff is addicting!! 

DIY Campfire Starters

I made DIY campfire starters for my hubby and brother-in-law.  We seriously have the worst time starting campfires when we’re camping!  Last summer I had to make an emergency trip to the campground store for firestarters, and at 1.50 a pop, that was my inspiration for making my own!  Survivors we are not.  But DIYers, yes!

These were simple to make – I have two monstrous evergreens in my front yard that drop copious amounts of needles.  So I used those and some old candles I already had.  Genious idea to use egg cartons! 

This makes a great gift for a camping-kinda guy, paired with a camping lighter.  I found some instructions here.  They smell delicious.

(I did find instructions elsewhere that used dryer lint.  I tried that first – but I won’t tell you what I thought they looked like when they were done.  Not exactly gift-worthy.  So I went with the pine needles!)

Melting Snowman Cookies

We made these for my kids’ classmates.  They were a huge hit.  Definitely fun for the kids to decorate, too.  I used my own sugar cookie and frosting recipe.  Inspiration was found here.

Framed Christmas Tree / Scripture Art

My friends got these for Christmas.  Free printable found here, with some scrapbook paper and ribbon I had on hand, and some classy frames from the Dollar Tree.  Wish I’d made one for myself!

Whew!  Lots of ideas here – hopefully they’re helpful to you!  Did you make any handmade gifts or decor for Christmas??  Care to share a link?

Christmas Decorating and Gifts…


Been too busy to even hear myself think, so I apologize for the lack of posts recently!  Here are some pics to show you what we’ve been working on…

We, of course, have been preparing for Christmas – the tree and decorations are up, but we still have a lot of baking to do! 

The “snowmen family decoration” was a craft I did last year – I made one for us, and then also one for each of my sisters.  This is really easy, cute, and doesn’t take long.  Perfect gift for extended family.  Instructions are here.

The last two pictures are a Christmas Card display – again, I saw something like it on Pinterest recently.  Our local Habitat for Humanity Restore had these shutters for 5 bucks, and I was intending to paint them, but decided just to leave them black and rustic looking!  I attached them using some hinges I picked up at Lowe’s going out of business sale (score!) and then added a couple of ornaments, a lighted garland, and a Merry Christmas sign that I already had.  The horizontal fold cards just slip right in, and we’re attaching vertically folded cards with red and green paper clips.  I’m so pleased with how it turned out!!

What are you up to these days?

2011 Advent Calendar

Been working on this project the past couple of weeks… and finished just in time for December 1st!

Saw the idea on pinterest (sorry, don’t know what the original site was!) and made it my own.   Used some scrap wood from the garage, some paint I already had on hand, some rub-ons that I thrifted last year for 99 cents!, and my trusty glue gun.  I did have to buy some clothes pins.  A hint if you try this yourself – don’t buy clothespins from the dollar store!  That’s where I bought mine, but they’re kinda flimsy and I don’t know how many years they’ll hold out!

This was definitely a little more difficult than last year’s advent, but actually took probably the same amount of time!  And this can be used again!

I just wrapped the little gifts / activity suggestions in brown lunch bags and secured with ribbon.  The majority of the days have things to do rather than gifts – like read Luke chapter 2, put up the Christmas tree, bake cookies, etc. 

I love how it turned out and I’m so looking forward to all those activities with my kiddos!

Happy December!