gifts for Mom

We are in complete back-to-school mode here. But summer is not officially over. Not yet.

The final day of summer is still a couple weeks away. So I’ve been thinking. We need one more bash to send summer off right.

It recently occurred to me, while I was packing away groceries, that I could fit a pinata

in the freezer.

Of course I immediately got to work on making a pinata. I pulled out my Elmer’s glue, an old Amazon box, and a stack of tissue paper and got to work.

It took me all of a half hour.

We picked out a few ice cream sundaes in a cup. How cool would it be, by the way, to do a grown-up pinata with Hagen Daaz?

And we picked out a few good fixings too to go along with them.  We poured them in Whisker Graphic’s sweet little Bitty Bags.

Now here comes the sneaky part.

We’ll invite a few little friends for homemade cookies.

And of course there will be homemade cookies.

But we’ll also sneak the pinata from the freezer to the tree when no one’s looking. So we get to suprise everyone when the ice cream and fixings come tumbling out.


I adore all things paper. And I adore flowers.

So this crepe paper flower pin has become a staple for me to give on all occasions that deserve a big to-do. And a little to-do (we gave one to my kids’ school secretary on secretary day). It is very fun to clip on a gift, and is a good grown up version of pulling a bow off the top of a gift and sticking it on top of your head. Don’t you think?

So here are a couple pics I’ve snapped of a few I’ve made, with an exact how to, now that I’ve gotten it down to a science.
2 lengths of crepe streamers, each about as tall as you (same or contrasting colors)
Needle and length of thread about as long as your arm
Masking tape (optional)
Hair pin or safety pin


  1. Thread and knot the needle. Thread the needle and knot the thread using the traditional method, or just use a small strip of masking tape and fold it over the end of the thread, sticky sides together, in place of a knot.
  2. Match up the streamers. Lay the streamers one on top of another, so you have a double-layer streamer.
  3. Stitch the streamer on one side to create a ruffle. Begin stitching the double layer streamer. Stitch all the way up one side, leaving a small margin on the side where you are stitching so the thread does not tear through. Use a basic running stitch, down from the top, up from the bottom. After sewing several stitches, compact the streamer down on the thread so it is folded into a ruffle. Your ruffle should be tight, but not too packed. The streamer will naturally begin to take a spiral shape that resembles a flower. The extra thread is going to want to tangle as you stitch, so be careful.
  4. Tie off the thread. Once you have sewn through the entire streamer and created a spiral ruffle, tie off the thread using the traditional method or using a small strip of masking tape.
  5. Fluff the layers of streamers, then knot the thread again. Use your fingers to slightly pull the two layers of streamers apart from each other, creating a fuller flower. Prepare the thread to sew again by tying off the end or folding a small strip of masking tape over the end.
  6. Arrange the ruffle into a flower and stitch the bottom together. Begin shaping the ruffle into a flower. The tight stitched sides of the ruffle will be the base of the flower and the unstitched sides will be the top of the petals. Create the center of the spiral by folding the end of the tight stitched side of the ruffle against itself. Push the needle through both sides of the ruffle, right about at the same point where you stitched to create the ruffle. Wrap the ruffle around to create another half loop and stitch through this second layer of the spiral. Continue wrapping half a loop at a time, and stitching the base together until you have created a flower.
  7. Stitch on a pin and finish. Stitch a few loops through the flower and around one leg of a hair pin or around the stationary side of a safety pin. Tie off the thread or secure with a couple small strips of masking tape.

And there you go. You have the perfect I-AM-Special hair piece. simple, festive, and pretty.


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.



This week I’ll be tying up my handmade gift retreat. And like any good party, I’m not ready for it to be over! But I have stellar women to finish it off, and I have something wonderful coming around the corner, so I will try to be brave.

To kick off the week, I hope you’ll help me say Hello to the beautiful Hannah of Sherbet Blossom. Hannah lives in Utah with her adorable family and runs a design shop you really must see. I love her May I Suggest series she has going right now, and before that her Project Organize (don’t you love her for this? you might run across me while you browse). I’m so thrilled to have her here today sharing a dear gift. I’ll leave you in her hands.


I think we all have ancestors/relatives that we relate to more than others. Relatives that we seem to take after. Someone that shares your same interests, character traits or humor. My Grandma Boo is that relative for me. She was a woman who had a passion for design; she always had the latest fashions in clothing and home decor: not your average grandma. She loved to laugh and she adored her husband. She was always serving other people and thought of herself last. She was the ultimate, glamorous hostess.

I come from a family of cooks and Grandma Boo was the best. When she passed away, my mother made all of Grandma Boo’s descendants a book of my grandmother’s recipes. It is now one of my most prized possessions. I am sad to say this book is not available for purchase, but it SHOULD be!
My copy is full of food stains, kid scribbles and jotted notes. I love this book. I know that I am safe making anything in it. Everything is delicious and most recipes are accompanied by memories of my grandmother. The smells and taste of her food brings in a rush of memories. This is a gift that will keep on giving.

Today, my teary-eyed three-year-old came to me requesting “Grandma Boo’s Cookies” after falling down. How could I refuse him? Grandma’s cookies make any sadness a little sweeter.
Now the she is gone, Grandma’s recipes have become my homemade gift of choice. I pull out the recipe book for every holiday. Many of my friends, neighbors and family members have been the recipients of her fantastic recipes. Nothing can invite a smile like the gift of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

My grandma’s cookies are one of my favorite items in the cookbook, and like my grandma, I don’t believe in secret recipes. Sharing makes cooking even more fun. The recipe is my gift to you today. Enjoy!

3/4 c. shortening
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
2 c. quick rolled oats
1 pkg. chocolate chips
3/4 c. chopped nuts (optional)

Cream together shortening and sugars. Add eggs. Add remaining
ingredients in order and mix well. Bake at 350 degrees until done.
(About 10-11 minutes.)


I am thrilled today to have you meet my new sponsor. MaryKate McDevitt of Portland has been on my personal Etsy favorites list for some time. When I first saw her handpainted mini goals chalkboards, I was immediately in love. I am a list girl, and I especially like the idea of a simple list in plain view. Perfect for scribbling down my most important plans, like call grandma for roll recipe and make it with kids.

pretty handpainted mini goals chalkboards

on display at Orange Beautiful’s lovely Chicago shop

And as if the mini goals chalkboards weren’t enough to make your heart go pitter pat, you also need to see MaryKate’s mini goals clockboards. Now that it is June and I have officially kicked my husband off this blog until Father’s Day, I feel at liberty to tell you, I think a clock would be perfect for the garage or workshop. Especially if I left it at the right height, I am sure the kids could not resist doodling notes to him now and then.

MaryKate’s mini goals clockboards

a peek at how your mini goals chalkboard will arrive

Be sure to visit MaryKate McDevitt’s shop or flickr to see more of her lovely designs.

P.S. What’s on your to do list today?




Um. Can I please have a re-do on my honeymoon?

I love the idea of ironed sheets, fine china, and the great outdoors.

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Are you the camping type? Are you not? I’m curious to hear from campers and non-campers alike, are you tempted?


One year my SIL and I conspired to completely organize my mom’s gift wrap closet. (See how I organize mind right here). We bought organizational supplies and went the whole nine yards. I don’t know who had more fun, my SIL and I having an excuse to buy organizational supplies or my mom getting to open the closet on Christmas morning and find complete and total order (not always easy when you’re not the only one using a closet). So here are a couple pics to get your organizational juices flowing. Aren’t they dreamy?

incredible craft room from this flikr stream, also some favorite craft organizational ideas here

dreamy pantry from here via here


Mom Wants a Bra


Alright ladies, tell me truly, have you ever gone to be fitted for a bra? And then, afterward, did you go out and buy a really nice, really comfortable one? Has your mother?

Confession. I haven’t.

But incase mom might like a fitting and a bra, here is a great resource. The Undie Awards. Every year thousands of women and men weigh in on their favorite bras and undies. You can find 2009’s winner right here. Check out their bra fitting guide here. What a handy resource.

And here are a couple other great resources I’ve come across.
Petit Elephant has an excellet guide for fitting your bra to your body type right here.
—Never one to be left behind, Opra does too. You can find it here.
—And for brand new moms, Cake lingerie makes the most lovely nursing bras you’ll ever find, and they also do their own a great fitting guide. The helpful diagram above is theirs. Who knew that there was so much to know?

p.s. This gift might be best coming from a daughter to a mother. What do you think? Men, if you’d like to get something for the mother of your children, you may be safe going with a great sports bra.


I love this idea for anything, but especially for Mother’s day. Inspired by vintage tinted photos, Unplug Your Kids made this simple project. You are looking at photos printed on standard copy paper, then colored with colored pencils. Wouldn’t this be beautiful with lovely pictures of grandma in her heyday or surrounded by her grandkids? Get the full DIY here (found via here).


This post goes out to all the men who have ever thought about getting Photoshop for the photographing mother or wife or sister or lovely woman in your life (and who knows, maybe you secretly want it for yourself too). Men, now is the time to get it.

Have you seen what the latest version of Photoshop (CS5) can do? Holy smokes.

My sister works for Adobe and was telling me all about it this weekend. What you’re looking at below is a feature called content-aware fill. And it’s amazing. It’s photography sorcery. If you have 2 minutes, you can see a video here. And there are a few other super amazing new features in CS5. See a video here. I thought you might like to know.

And to my readers who are photographers, stick around. I have a giveaway coming later today that I know you’ll like.


I think a fabric bloom is just the thing to give mom on Mother’s Day, don’t you? Something lovely for her to pin on to make her feel queenly. I’ve seen so many beautiful fabric flowers floating around that I thought I’d gather them here for a little inspiration in case you’d like to buy or DIY.

buy Heart of Light | Grosgrain tutorial | 100 Layer Cake tutorial

buy Emersonmade | Miss Priss tutorial | Prudent Baby tutorial

buy Twigs & Honey | buy Sarah Culleton (via here) | Ruffles and Stuff tutorial

Everyday Chaos tutorial | buy K. Autumn (via here) | Mama Monster tutorial

Salty Pineapple tutorial | Knit Picks tutorial | buy Tago Design


Clickin Moms

If you happen to be a budding photographer, you are going to love one of my new sponsors. More on Clickin Moms coming soon.


I am not a black-licorice person, though I do love a good bag of green apple licorice. It is the perfect road trip food. But for those of you who are licorice lovers, or who have licorice lovers in your life, here are a few hard-core licorice treats that may take your love of licorice to the next level.

Kookabura licorice (in the first pic). This stuff is from Australia and comes in amazing flavors like Mango, yum, and even comes enrobed in chocolate.

row 1

Sambo licorace. I found this at a favorite online shop, and love the description “Sambo is the brand of Kólus, the most well-known licorice manufacturer in Iceland. We had a meeting with the 70 year old “Mr. Kólus” and as much as we begged and pleaded he refused to let us see the factory.”

Fazer’s Salmiakki Licorice. A quick FYI, Salmiakki is a type of salty licorice. Sounds intriguing, right? You can read more about it here. This one is also available at kioskkiosk, and here’s what they have to say about it “While in Finland, in search of the perfect licorice and other things for KIOSK, I found this yummy on our first day at a very basic Kioski. Mainstream all the way, the perfect balance of salt and licorice flavor, no added flavoring of any kind.”

Finnska licorace. Another imported version that has a milder flavor, available on Amazon.

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Dubbel Zout. It’s just what it sounds like, double salted disks that are “firm but chewy.” Available here.

Tyrkisk Peber. These sound crazy. “Very hot and salty liquorice sweets with a liquid centre and powder coating.” Available here.

Panda licorice. This brand has a huge following and is probably a great place to start for the person who loves licorice but may not be up for trying the Finnish salted Salmiakki. It’s available on Amazon,and you may also be able to find it in stores at REI.

Golia. This one is an Italian licorice candy that’s hard to come across in the US. I found an online distributor here.

row 3

Darrell Lea & RJs both make some delicious flavors of licorice (the strawberry Darrel Leais popular) that come with rave reviews. Get them at Amazon hereor here,or visit their websites here and here.

Licorice Altoids. how fun are these? Also, this shop looks great for finding several other imported versions of licorice.


Do you have any favorite teacher appreciation gifts you’ve given in the past? Teachers, any favorites you’ve received? Here are a few of my all-time favorites that kids can make for teacher appreciation, many of which can be paired nicely with a gift card for say, a book on tape, a car wash, or bread from a yummy bakery. (Or go in with other class members and give them a night away, which we’re planning to do.)
pictured: handsoap with kids’ art from here, block notepad from HowDoesShe, Pencil Puzzle from MaryJanesGoloshes.

Gifts using pictures of the kids. A few ideas for using photos of the kids themselves, which are an especially great surprise if you can get the class together for a group photo. These photo gifts are helpful for kids too young to write thank you notes to teacher.
1. Thank you portrait. Have the kids spell out “thank you” by laying on the ground and forming the letters with their bodies. Take pictures from overhead.
2. Knee-down portrait. Have the kids line up against a wall and take a photo of the kids from their knees down. Wrap the photo around a can for a pencil holder.
3. Thank you board book or moleskin. On each page put a picture of each child and a reason he or she loves the teacher.
4. Photo beanbags for the classroom.
5. Pencil photo puzzle (found via OnePrettyThing).
6. Photo magazine holders for classroom organization (found via OnePrettyThing).
7. A set of magnets for the classroom.
8. A water bottle.

Gifts using kids’ artwork. And here a few ideas for making gifts from artwork your little one has already created.
9. Handsoap with art inside.
10. Personalized pencil sharpener.
11. Personalized book plates.
12. Stationary for the classroom.
13. A photo desk calendar.

Things kids color directly on
. Self explanatory, right?
14. Rocks and a planter. Have each child paint a small rock. Add these to the top of a plant in a pretty pot for the teacher’s home or classroom.
15. The classroom door. Get students together to decorate the classroom door with loving notes.
16. Cube notepad. Get or make a cube-sized notepad, have the kids color on the sides.
17. Pretty thumb tacks, or try a more rustic set.
18. A good reference book with something pretty stamped on the side.
19. Premium fruit juice with labels drawn by your kids.
20. Cloth Napkins. Use the batik method to decorate a set of cloth napkins. Just drizzle Elmer’s glue over the fabric, let it dry, dye it, and wash it according to the directions on the dye.
21. A notebook with sweet messages hidden throughout.

Things kids can make
22. Handlebar flower.
23. Seed tape.
24. Fabric tissue case (found via OnePrettyThing).
25. Friendly felt-embellished paper clips.
26. Sunprint pencil cup.
27. Pretty pens.
28. Fabric-covered journals (found via OnePrettyThing).
29. Pretty binder clips.
30. Poetry suitcase f
or use in the classroom.
31. Fabric catchall.
32. Corner bookmark.
33. Fabric-covered pots (found via OnePrettyThing).
34. Forced bulbs or an herb garden planted and nurtured by your child.
35. Footwarmer.
36. Lavender drawer sachets.
37. Reusable lunch bag.
38. Yummy bread. If your child has just learned to read, have them use their new skills to read a recipe and make homemade bread.
30. Homemade croutons to go with a salad kit.
40. Homemade pasta cut in fun shapes with a cookie cutter.
41. Chocolate dipped strawberries.
42. Macarons.
43. Waffle mix and real maple syrup with a label drawn by your child.
44. Hot chocolate on a stick (in colder weather).
45. Homemade granola.
46. A caramel-dipped apple.
47. Homemade salsa.
48. Homemade hot sauce.
49. Vanilla sugar.
50. Cookie dough frozen in cookie-sized portions. I like using a bag to pipe out stir and drop cookies.

Comment from a teacher.
I thought this note from Susan, a real teacher weighing in, was helpful: “These are great ideas!  If you include picutures of your kids, make sure the gift is really for the teacher.  I once got Christmas ornaments with student pictures in them.  While I love your kid and happy to spend all day with them, I don’t want to take them home with me.” Thanks, Susan!

Treats in the teacher’s lounge. I love this idea, found here: “Our school provides the best teacher appreciation week. Each day a different grade level is responsible for providing snacks and goodies for the teachers lounge. We always have a ton of food. One year we all received corsages made from one mom! This year we were surprised with 15 minute massages for each teacher. A therapist came in to our building for 2-days and gave each teacher a 15 minute massage. It was wonderful!!!!”

Teacher favorites survey. I also love this idea found here: “My daughter’s PTO has a form that each teacher fills out at the beginning of the year with their “favorites” (favorite color, soda, candy, scent, etc.). They keep all of the teachers forms in a book in the office [or keep them on the school’s website]- that way parents can have easy access and get the teacher something they like or will use.”