DYI Christmas Gifts

This is my prototype. 

I’m a big fan of making Christmas gifts. Last year, I made letter writing kits for some of my family and friends and this year I decided to make mason jar oil lamps. There are a variety of tutorials out there on the web, but the pictures below are what I ended up with. Hopefully, the recipients of these gifts enjoy them.

I also made salt dough ornaments for the tags you see on the bags at the bottom of the screen. These are super easy to make and I kept mine pretty simple, but the possibilities are endless. Again, instructions are how to make salt dough ornaments are on Pinterest or you can do a good old fashioned Google search.

Tags for the lamps.
This is the top of the lamp with the wick attached. 
Finished gift bags with salt dough ornaments.

Love Letters

While I understand that a lot of people have mixed feelings about Valentine’s Day, I don’t really have a problem with the holiday. Do I agree that it has become hyper commercialized? Sure, but you have been into a Target around Christmas? Hell, have you been in to a Target around Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter? We’re Americans. We see it as our job to over hype holidays. I’ve never thought of Valentines Day as a day necessarily for couples, which I think is why it’s never stressed me out much. When I was growing up, I had the great fortune of having a father who brought flowers for his wife and his two daughters. My mom always gave us cards and candy. My aunt sent me Valentine’s Day care packages when I was in college and I used to go out for drinks with my other girlfriends to celebrate the holiday. To me, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating people you love. Period. If you attached, that person falls into that category but so does you mother, you father, your grandmother, your sister, your brother and even your pets (yes, I think of my pets as people. We’ve covered this before).

Cards ready to be put on the mail…

This year I wanted to make cards to send out to for Valentine’s Day. It was fun and it gave me a chance to be creative. On Saturday I took all of my cards to the post office, bought some “Love” stamps and sent them off to all corners of the world. I hope these cards bring a smile to their recipients and that they feel loved, because after all, that’s what Valentine’s Day is about.


This past Saturday I went “thrifting” with some girlfriends. It was awesome. We started out by having breakfast at a local east side favorite:

Diners, Drive Ins & Dives visited awhile ago. It is delicious. 

Then we started making our way through some east side thrift stores. We all found some treasures and we all spent under $10. In fact, we all spent more on breakfast than we spent shopping (and breakfast was not expensive).

This is my haul from a day of thrifting.

Materials for a future crafting project.


Vintage children’s books.

Why “thrifting” is awesome:

1. I spent $8.50
2. I bought five vintage children’s books for $1
3. I found three tea cups for a future craft project
4. I found a Charter Club Jacket for $5
5. I found a ceramic bunny and squirrel
6. I had a lot of fun with my girlfriends
7. I got to run around the east side

I will definitely be “thrifting” again and you should all go too.

Holiday Greetings from 22 N. Bosart

We’re heading back east today to visit family for the holidays, so I leave you with a photo montage from our home this Christmas. My next blog post will most likely come to you from Erie or Pittsburgh. Stay tuned & save travels to all!

My friend from work made me a snowflake on a particularly gloomy day last week. She rocks.

Zombies love Christmas too. See whose name is on the ornament?

Paperwhites from our wedding.

Fir boughs from our Christmas tree.

This year I kept the outside decorations simple.

Candles and evergreens.

This would look better with some snow…

We did colored lights this year. Again, snow is needed.


On Monday I made these centerpieces using some hurricane jars we received for our wedding:

Easy, cheap & very pretty.

As you can see, I used all sorts of fruit. I was only planning on using cranberries, lemons & limes, but when I went to the grocery store, they had pomegranates on sale four for five dollars. They’re pretty fruits cut or uncut, so I thought I’d give it a shot. While cutting the pomegranates for the centerpieces, it dawned on me that a). I’ve never eaten pomegranate b). I had no clue how to eat a pomegranate. So what did I do? What every American does when faced with a problem. I googled it.

It turns out that with pomegranates you eat the seeds, and let me tell you, they are delicious. Now, I have never met a fruit I didn’t like but when I popped a handful of pomegranate seeds into my mouth, I was amazed. They are so good!

Anyway. This got me to thinking. One of my favorite poems of all time is called ” The Pomegranate” by Eavan Boland.

 The Pomegranate
The only legend I have ever loved is
the story of a daughter lost in hell.
And found and rescued there.
Love and blackmail are the gist of it.
Ceres and Persephone the names.
And the best thing about the legend is
I can enter it anywhere. And have.
As a child in exile in
a city of fogs and strange consonants,
I read it first and at first I was
an exiled child in the crackling dusk of
the underworld, the stars blighted. Later
I walked out in a summer twilight
searching for my daughter at bed-time.
When she came running I was ready
to make any bargain to keep her.
I carried her back past whitebeams
and wasps and honey-scented buddleias.
But I was Ceres then and I knew
winter was in store for every leaf
on every tree on that road.
Was inescapable for each one we passed.
And for me.
It is winter
and the stars are hidden.
I climb the stairs and stand where I can see
my child asleep beside her teen magazines,
her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit.
The pomegranate! How did I forget it?
She could have come home and been safe
and ended the story and all
our heart-broken searching but she reached
out a hand and plucked a pomegranate.
She put out her hand and pulled down
the French sound for apple and
the noise of stone and the proof
that even in the place of death,
at the heart of legend, in the midst
of rocks full of unshed tears
ready to be diamonds by the time
the story was told, a child can be
hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance.
The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured.
The suburb has cars and cable television.
The veiled stars are above ground.
It is another world. But what else
can a mother give her daughter but such
beautiful rifts in time?
If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift.
The legend will be hers as well as mine.
She will enter it. As I have.
She will wake up. She will hold
the papery flushed skin in her hand.
And to her lips. I will say nothing.
~Eavan Boland

*A Few Interesting Facts About Pomegranates: 
1. The name "pomegranate" derives from mead evil Latin pōmum "apple" and grānātum "seeded." 
2. Loaded with vitamins and antioxidants. 
3. Pomegranates are native to Iran.
4. The pomegranate has been traced back as far as 3,000 B.C. 
5. King Tut was buried with pomegranates in hopes of a second life. 
6. Pomegranates are mentioned in Homer's Odyssey, and Juliet tells
Romeo the night is young since it is the nightingale — and not the lark
— that is "singing in yon pomegranate tree." 
* I got this info from Pomegranates: Jewels In The Fruit Crown.  

Still Life with Pears and Pomegranates by Paul Cezanne.


From Shabby to Shabby Chic

I come from a line of painters, fixer upers & crafters. I enjoy a good do it yourself project as much as the next person, but I have my limits. For example, I don’t mind painting a bookcase or even a room but I draw the line at knocking out walls or ripping up floors. I like to think that my attitude is the healthy medium between my father, who likes do rip up and demolish (he is an engineer) and my mother, who likes to paint and decorate. When we bought our house, I was specific that I wanted something “old” with “character” but not something we were going to have to spend every weekend working on. I think our house is the perfect balance.

So back to the painted furniture. A few years ago (two maybe?) we helped two good friends of ours move from one apartment to another. As is the case with moves, when you are faced with moving furniture you start to do some serious reevaluation. The “awesome deal” that you got on that “wood” entertainment center at Big Lots seems less impressive when faced with actually lifting the damn thing. Therefore, after we had moved said friends into their shiny new apartment we found ourselves with a new/old dresser and bookcase. I looked at these two pieces of furniture and saw potential for painting and refinishing. The bookcase underwent it’s makeover fairly quickly. This was mostly because, if you know us, you know we have about 1 million books, so it was more necessity than anything else. It is sitting proudly in our dining room doing its job:

This color is called Barn Red from The Mark Twain Collection. Seems appropriate.

The other piece of furniture, a dresser, stayed down in our basement for about a year. I would go down and look at it sometimes but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do with it and so it sat. And sat. And sat. After the wedding, I took on the job of cleaning my closets and discovered that I would need some more storage space. That’s all the motivation I needed. Over the next few days I researched painting techniques and made several trips to Ace Hardware. This is is the finished product:

Not too shabby!

I painted the entire piece with Krylon spray paint (glossy white) and then I bought some glaze at Lowes. The glaze was heavily tinted with black, so it makes it look worn and old. I think it turned out remarkably well considering I didn’t know what I was doing. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when properly motivated.