DIY gifts a man can make

If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!
Are you ready for a peek at how my new stands turned out? I’m more than a little thrilled with them. It’s great fun transforming a set of thrifted candlesticks into bright summery treat stands for the next shindig. (See the first set I made right here).

Being able to take these apart to switch out plates is a big deal for me. Even though my kitchen now is roomier, much much roomier, than the apartment and condo kitchens I’ve somehow squeezed into through the years, space is still at a premium. Plus I like picking a melamine plate whenever I find one I like and being able to put it to use with the stands I already have.

Best of all, I figured out a new trick that will let you use any candlestick you fall in love with at the thrift store. Not just candlesticks that have a hole through the center.

The shopping is really the best part. (You can get glimpse here of the first set of these I put together.) But for this time around, here’s the list of what I picked up.

Supplies & equipment:
1. Set of thrifted candlesticks. I often find candlesticks at the thrift store that can be disassembled and have a hole all the way through the middle. To find out if a candlestick can do this, just pick one up at the thrift store and try to unscrew. But hole or no hole, any candlestick will work. On my last thrifting trip I fell in love with some sticks that did not have a hole through the middle, I discovered I could still make my stand interchangeable. Here’s my big trick. Are you ready for it? All you need to do is find a…
2. Cork that fits snugly into your candlestick. (You need this only if your candlestick does not have a hole all the way through the middle).
3. Drawer pull that lets you take out the screw. I picked up mine at Lowe’s this time around. Don’t you love the crystal knobs?
4. Allthread that fits your drawer pull. This just looks like a really long screw with no head or point. To make sure it fits my drawer pull, I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s.
5. Nuts and washers.
6. A few fun melamine plates. I picked up mine at Target.
7. Primer and paint, if you choose. I love Krylon.
6. A hack saw and drill. A wood bit works perfectly for drilling into melamine.

Here is a candlestick I took apart and found I could dissasemble and have two pieces with a hole all the way through the middle of each.

Yea for Krylon. So many possibilities with this stuff.

Now comes the easy part… Here is the how-to for putting it all together, whether your candlestick has a hole through the core or not.
1. Paint. If you’re planning to paint the candlestick, disassemble it, prime, and paint.
2. Drill. Tape the plate in the center and drill through your taped spot. Take it slow and easy, I’ve cracked a couple plates by being in too big of a rush.

3. Cut your allthread. If your candlestick has a hole through the center, use a hack saw to cut your all thread to the length you’ll need to go from the bottom of the candlestick to the top to screw into your drawer pull. Cut carefully so you don’t ruin the thread and are still able to screw a bolt or your drawer pull onto the end. If you are using a cork, cut a tiny piece of the allthread so it is just long enough to screw through the cork and into the allthread.
4. If your candlestick does not have a hole through the center, add a cork. Wedge in a cork where the candle would go. Make sure it is a super snug fit. Cut off any overhang. You want to make sure the plate will rest evenly against the top of the candlestick. Drill a small hole in the center of the cork where the drawer pull will screw in. Make the hole just smaller than the allthread, so it screws in snugly.

Here is a set I assembled by screwing an all thread through the center.

Here is a set I made by using a cork.
3. Assemble.
 Now you get to thread your whole creation together. If your candlestick has a hole down the middle, put the washer and screw at the bottom, then thread the allthread through your candlestick piece, then add the plate, and finally, screw on the drawer pull at the top. If you are using a cork, simply screw one end of the allthread into the drawer pull, then put the other end through the hole in the plate and screw it into the cork in the candlestick. That’s it. Now your stands are ready to party, or to fit neatly in your cupboard.Good luck! If you make a set, I’d love to hear how it goes.


If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. I also own an online chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. Stop by if you get a moment!

A few months after discovering how to make this tiered cupcake stand, I walked into Pottery Barn and saw their awesome, summery, tiered stand and—being the incurable DIYer that I am—thought, I wonder if I could make that.

It is a serious condition sometimes. My husband claims he can’t take me anywhere without me wanting to try to build some part of something I saw when I get home.
I picked up the supplies a few months ago, when I was in Micheal’s with my half-off coupon, and have been waiting for an open Saturday to give it a shot. I ran across Lizard & Ladybug who had been thinking the same thing as me, and am glad I did. She made her stand with a length of conduit, and made it look so good that I returned the curtain rod I’d been planning to use.

This weekend I got to work and love the result. Though I have to admit, about half way through the process was wondering if I should have just shelled out for the Pottery Barn original. But hopefully I have a few tips that will make it simpler if you’re like me and love a good DIY.
tiered cake pans ($18 with my coupon)
drawer pull that lets you take out the screw (I found mine at Lowe’s, $3)
all thread that is compatible with your drawer pull (I try screwing it in right in the isles of Lowe’s, $2)
conduit ($3)
bolts and washers
melamine plate

hack saw, clamp, file (UPDATE: see below, you may not need these at all)
hammer and nail
Don’t forget to use your coupon when you go to pick up your tiered pans. I used my JoAnne’s coupon at Michaels (you knew you could do that, right?)
I opted for a thicker length of conduit to keep things sturdier. I cut three lengths that were just over six inches long. If I did it again I think I’d cut them right at six inches.

The most challenging part was cutting the conduit. Cuts need to be perfectly straight in order to avoid a leaning stand.

UPDATE: Thanks to Layne and Nicole, I now know you can skip this part, entirely. You can pick up a pipe cutter for just a few bucks (thanks, Layne!), or you can have your conduit cut right in the plumbing section (thanks for letting me in on that little secret, Nicole! )

I started by using my hack saw to score a dotted line all the way around the conduit, to make sure it was even and matched up all the way around. Clamp the conduit, saw a couple times just to score the surface, open the clamp and rotate the conduit just a little. Repeat.

Then I used the same technique to slowly saw around the conduit, sawing little by little, opening the clamp and rotating as I went, until I had a nice even cut.

I then used my file to finish evening off the end. Hold the conduit close to the file to make the work quicker. Just don’t file away your fingers.
Now all the hard work is over. If you can get through this part you’re practically finished.

I marked the center of the top pan and used a hammer and nail to pierce a hole. I then lined it up with the other pans to find the spot to pierce the last two holes.
For the base, I used a melamine plate I had left over from my DIY cupcake stand. Lizard and Ladybug uses the smallest pan from the nesting set for the base, which turned out great. I just wanted to save that pan for actual baking. I think it will turn out the perfect sized personal birthday cake.

Drilling a hole in the center is not too tough. Just use a wood bit in your drill and take your time so you don’t crack the plate.

Finally, the only thing left to do is assemble everything.
That’s it. Now all it needs is some cupcakes or cups full of strawberries.
I think one of my favorite parts is the storage. Mine is now stored away inconspicuously in the cupboard above my fridge, waiting for our first summer shindig.



DIY Smoker


I’m thinking a good way to spend Father’s day is to sit around one of these and sip something cold while your pork shoulder gets a good, 12-hour smoke.

If you try this, please come back and tell me. I want to hear about it.


I’ve always thought a crop of flowers right outside mom’s window is the perfect Mother’s Day gift. If you think so too, get the how-to for this window box that cost an entire $3.12 from the lovely ladies at HowDoesShe.
And not that I would ever use this blog to drop a hint, no, I’m not that enterprising. Or maybe I am. But either way, aren’t these DIY planters amazing? I want a full set. (I’d also go for this simpler version).

And I couldn’t end this post without adding these two. If you insist on having the freshest herbs for your outdoor dining, you can have your way at home or on a picnic. You may not want to permanently redesign Mom’s bike for Mother’s Day, maybe a temporary portable herb garden would be best.


Divine Twine

p.s. Did you hear about the new Divine Twine in the works? Pretty colors like cotton candy. Yum. I can’t wait.


If you’re new here, welcome! I’m AmberLee, and Giverslog is my place to share recipes, gift ideas, pretty wrapping ideas, and whatever else is on my mind. And if you have a moment, stop by my chocolate shop, The Ticket Kitchen. In the meantime, happy thrifting!

UPDATE: Find a simple trick I discovered to make a single-layer cake stand out of any candlestick right here.

At long last, here is the much-requested thrifted cake stand tutorial. This was a gift I made for my S-I-L for Christmas, and I’ve been wanting to make one for myself ever since. Of course, in my world, finishing a craft without a deadline is impossible. So I used last week’s tea party as the day by which it had to happen.

Because my S-I-L is quite the party hostess, I thought I’d like to come up with a version where the plates could be switched out.  You know, like the wristwatch you had in middle school with the interchangeable wrist bands (there are a few of those I’d still like to own). So keep your eyes open for more pretty plates, because you can switch out plates as your parties demand. Any plate with a hole drilled in the middle will do. Or add a tier by using a longer allthread and a few more candlestick segments. It’s all occasion!

So then, if you’re up for a little shopping and assembling, let’s get started.

Shop. First, let’s go shopping, the very fun kind of shopping. This is a good excuse to stop by your favorite thrift stores, flea markets, and houseware shops. Go in search of pieces that will make your heart go pitter pat. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A drawer pull you think is pretty. For me, this was a good excuse to stop by Anthropologie.
  • An allthread to match, so it will screw into the drawer pull. Pick these up at any hardware store.
  • A bolt and washer that fits, for screwing on at the bottom.
  • Paint, if you so choose.
  • A drill and bit for drilling a hole in the plates (more on this below).
  • A candlestick (or pieces of multiple candlesticks) with a hole through the center. Some have a visible hole, others need to be unscrewed and have the center dowel removed. When in doubt, try unscrewing.
  • A set of plates, melamine or ceramic will do.

I believe the drawer pull cost me $8. Everything else combined totaled a whopping $4.88.
Make sure your allthread and drawer pull are the same width. If your drawer pull has a rod like mine, you should be able to unscrew so the allthread can screw directly into the pull. It took a little torque but we got ours out. Pick up two allthreads if you’re going to want to change between two and three tiers with your cake stand. You’ll need an allthread for each different height.

Remember the hollow candlesticks I picked up for this tutorial? I’ve had no problem finding several every time I thrift. And especially if you’re planning to paint, you can use as many pieces from as many candlesticks as you like.
Paint. Time to get busy. If you’re planning to paint the candlestick, disasemble it and paint.

Drill. Next you’ll need to drill a hole right through the center of the plate. Both times I’ve sent Brent out to the workshop to take care of this for me. Though I do like the chance to use a power tool every now and then. His advice is to use a wood bit for drilling through melamine and a ceramic bit for ceramic. He also suggests picking up an extra plate. That way if one plate cracks a bit, you have a second chance. You can drill a few extra holes in your broken plate and get a little practice. He taped the plate right in the center, then drilled through there.

Assemble. Now you get to thread your whole creation together. Likely the allthread will be too long, so you’ll need to cut it off. If you want to alternate between two and three tiers, make sure you get an allthread that will be the right length for each. Finally, thread the washer on and screw the bolt on the bottom.
And there you have it. A pretty tiered cupcake stand, and an excuse to have everyone over for a party. Once the party’s over, just disassemble and store it flat until the next shindig.


Spring fever is creeping in over here. We are all peeking out the window at the rain (today is our Mario party, looks like it may have to happen indoors) and waiting until we can burst outside and ride bikes and hike and picnic and play. I want to lounge in my hammock, bask in the sunshine, and read The Secret Garden. Doesn’t that sound nice?

On the topic of outdoor play, I have a something to share with you, and someone to introduce you to. Mark and Heather are a very impressive couple. Heather is a quilter and turns out beautiful quilts like nobody’s business. While browsing through quilt after quilt of hers, and having one of those moments when I ask “how does she get it all done?” I came across some handy work by her husband. How fun is this?

This is the actual skate ramp Mark built in their backyard. You are looking at some lucky kids in this picture.

Incase you’d like to transform your yard into a skater’s paradise, I found a couple places with great plans:
DIY Skate: How to Make Ramps, Ledges, and More
Free Halfpipe Plans

If you know a man who gives good gifts and think it might work for this feature, I want to know. Share the story with me so we can congratulate him formerly and officially. (Maybe I should mail out certificates, wouldn’t that be official?)


Have you seen this? Made by Joel (first brought to my attention at ohdeedoh) is a blog by Joel of things he makes for his family. Here is Joel himself in a truly inspiring playhouse he raised in the backyard.

And here is one other favorite of mine, curled paper animation. I am trying this today. It will make me much more popular with my kids.

I’d love to keep this series going, to congratulate more men for cool gifts they’ve given. So if you have a gift from a guy to gush about, I’m your huckleberry.


I know this has been blogged a time or two already, but I find it so romantic I have to add it here. Average Jane Crafter’s husband made her a telescope of her very own. Yes, that’s right, he made it. Isn’t it beautiful? And what could be more romantic than an evening of stargazing? (Through something you made!!!)

Don’t forget to go here and enter my $100 Bed & Breakfast giveaway.
Just stop by this post and
1. Mention an inn you like, or
2. Mention a favorite item from my gift or wrapping guides, or
3. Twitter about it, or
4. Post about it on your blog along with a favorite local shop or restaurant of yours.
Winner chosen tomorrow.

Mel thought the Taughannock Farms Inn looked dreamy.


A few more snow favorites while I’m still in this stage of being happy it’s winter here.
These beauties are by Mountain Boy, an eco-friendly Colorado sledmaker. Love their “boggans.” And everything else they do. Visit their site, you’ll be glad you did.

So many fun options from Pelican. Get the snow scooter here and the covered baby sled here too.

Or DIY a sled. Get inspiration for a cardboard model here, or get several free patterns for the authentic wood version here.

Finally, a couple favorite snow toys. Scrap the sled all together and just get pull-over snow shorts, or raise an igloo with this igloo maker, get the snowball blaster and get serious about that snowball fight.

And now I’m off to have some bruleed oatmeal. Happy winter.


We have a family Christmas project to work on today. I wanted to do something meaningful for our baby’s first Christmas, but was having a hard time coming up with just the thing. After seeing this post from Amy of The Idea Room over at How Does She, inspiration struck! Today we’ll be making our baby a custom CD. Every member of the family gets to pick a story to read or a song to play for him. I’m so excited.  (I’m thinking of altering this free CD template found here.)

For our little recording session I’ll be using Garage Band on my MacBook, but if you’d like to record your own personalized CD, you have several choices of free audio recording software. Audacity seems to be a good one.

And since we’re on the topic, here are a few other keepsakes that would make a great first Christmas gift.
1. Give baby an album to fill with pics of people who love her.
2. Make a sweet little handprint, get the DIY here or buy a kit, available here.
3. Get a personalized melamine plate (found via here)
4. or sweet booties.
5. Give a piggy bank (more piggy banks here) along with his first stock certificate.
6. Have a blanket personalized
7. or pick out the perfect rocking horse.

1. Get or make her first Christmas ornament (I have reason to believe our baby may be getting one made by Grandma, yea!)
2. or get her started on her first growth chart like this one found via here (more beautiful growth charts here).
3. Have you ever heard of an add-a-pearl necklace? I love the idea.
4. Give a beautiful book
5. or personalized music box.
6. Love this personalized pendant (found via here) that also works to imprint a wax seal on a closed envelope.
7. Or make a personalized stocking, isn’t this one gorgeous? (found via here)


We women love a man who can DIY.

O! to be a kid with this secret get away, found via here.


Incredible, right? I’m pretty sure organizational gifts are a sure way to please any woman. This work of organizational genius created by Something’s Hiding in Here.

handmade christmas gift ideas to build

the trebuchet
the lemonade stand
the go kart
these flutes
the rocking horse
the pinball machine


We have been in creative overdrive here. A week ago I made my husband take a solemn oath not visit my blog until after Father’s Day. And every day after he walks out the door the art supplies come back out and the kids and I get crafting. We’ve been working on projects both for him and grandpas. I feel like Santa’s elves. My kids have gotten a big kick out of some of the projects, like coming up with sneaky clever questions for our crossword puzzle. But once the final projects are done, hopefully today, it will be nice to take a little break and try to find some hammock time for summer reading.

homemade-screenprinting-tutorialThis final Father’s Day DIY is a bit of a twist on a Father’s Day gift. It’s a little something the kids can wear to make dad feel loved. My daughter is planning to wear it while she serves Dad breakfast, huevos rancheros with homemade hot sauce.

how-to-screen-print-with-freezer-paperWe used the fantastic tutorial for a DIY screen-printed Tshirt posted this spring in Tangled & True. Everything went exactly according to plans. I love when projects work out that way. Visit the original tutorial for the full details, but the process was simple. Trace a design onto freezer paper, use an exacto to cut out the parts that will be painted (saving the little “islands” that need to be put back in the center of letters or designs), iron your newly made stencil to the shirt, and then paint using a brayer. The stencil adhered well and came off easily while the paint was still wet, and we had no problem getting nice crisp lines.

If you’d like to use the same design I did, I’ll post it here for download: adoro a papi, screenprint (381)

kids-screenprinting-tshirt-tutorialIf you prefer printable fashion that dad can wear, try making matching Ts (Old Navy is having a half-off all meanswear sale right now!) Happy printing!



I hope you had a great mother’s day. We did. I didn’t fully understand, growing up, what an honor it is to be part of this club of womenhood. Now to join this group who leaves notes in lunches and goes to school board meetings and looks out for neighbors, it’s like a shirt I never thought would fit and am so thrilled to see it does.

mothers-day-surprisesI’ve was surprised with a little Mother’s Day treat from a fellow mom. I hope I remember to try this next year. What a great little rally of support. I think it is so completely wonderful. We munched on our treat outside in the amazing spring weather. My hubbie mowed a crooked race trail through our field which the kids took at full speed. And, since it was the perfect weather for lawn games, we decided to make one of our own: giant pick up sticks.

diy-giant-pickup-sticksWe started with 5/16-inch dowels. The only problem is they need a tapered end, or during the game you will have a rough time picking up the final few sticks. If you can get your hands on a belt sander this will be a quick job. I did 16 dowels in under ten minutes, and was careful to make them tapered but not sharp.


We used acrylic paint that was slightly watered down to paint both ends of the dowels. For pick up sticks proper you need 1 black (25 points), 7 red (10 points), 7 blue (5 points), 8 green (2 points), and 7 yellow (1 point). But we took some artistic liberties.

giant-pick-up-sticksI put together a quick canvas carrying bag, and then we were ready for a little friendly competition.


more, banner

I’ve thrown together a new gift guides page, incase you’re like me and like to see as many ideas as possible in one glance.




It only took two years of living in the country. We finally put up a tire swing. Our first fall here I was all gung-ho, and I researched and bought everything, but we lacked a really tall ladder. Luckily my husband got ambitious this spring and got our awesome neighbor over here with his. It’s been great. We have the best conversations with the kids out there, as we nudge the swing back and forth and the kids enjoy the ride and the breeze.

birthday-gift-tire-swing1The best how to for putting up a tire swing was from FamilyFun. I just made sure every piece had a minimum 250-lb. load limit. Oh, and don’t get galvanized chain. Apparently that’s bad for the kids. But I was able to get a free used truck tire from a tire store, and everything else was easy.