gifts for nieces and nephews

Lulatone

09.17.10

Lullatone is a completely charming outfit in Japan that creates music and a few other things, as you’re about to see. I received a note this week from Shawn, the musician behind Lullatone, and wanted to introduce you at once.
This is Shawn.


This is Shawn with his wife, isn’t this a darling picture? (I loved their blog. You will love it too. Stop by right away.)

Besides creating music, Shawn also makes TV tutorials for DIY musical instruments. There are few things I can think of that a preschooler would love more than to build a xylophone from cardboard tubes then play music on it. Check out Shawn’s video here. His tutorial is super simple. And while you’re there, check out Lullatone’s other videos, shop and blog.
Thanks, Shawn!

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Party to Go

09.10.10

I am confident I could throw a stunning party in just minutes if I had one of these party kits. Do you love them? (Even an outdoor kit!)

Especially now that I know I can make and freeze cupcake batter in advance (thanks, Motherload!) I think I’ll start with strawberry lemonade cupcakes.

Hope your weekend is happy.

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T-Shirt Bags

09.09.10


Hello!  I am here today to spread the word about t-shirt bags.  Are you familiar with them?  I learned about them from (who else?) Martha Stewart a few years ago.  Is it too much to say that they’ve changed my life?  Probably.  But I really really really love them.

I love that I can still keep those old, sentimental t-shirts around without them taking up valuable real estate in my itty-bitty closet.  I love that those shirts are now more useful than they ever were as a garment that I would only wear while cleaning my house.  I love that when I take them to the store I can be loud & proud of the fact that I love Tia Babe’s Mexican food in Santa Paula, California.  Or that I was indeed, on senior cabinet in high school.  And I really love that I get large, sturdy, reusable shopping bags that are made from 100% cotton and don’t cost me anything, instead of bags that I have to pay for and are often made from questionable plastics.  They are such a fantastic way to reuse something that would otherwise be tossed.

Oh!  I just thought of another good thing about these bags:  making them is a super forgiving project.  Straight cuts and sewing lines are not required.  This is one of those projects that takes 10 minutes or less and non-perfectionists are invited and encouraged to participate.  Those are my kind of projects!

Have I sold you on the idea of t-shirt bags yet?  If not, I’ll try one more.  How about making a custom trick-or-treat bag for a child you love from one of their old t-shirts?  (Ah!  Is it too early to start thinking about Halloween?)  Or, if trick-or-treating isn’t in your future, perhaps you could make a great library bag.  Martha has a nice tutorial on her website, but here’s a photographic version from me:

Items needed: a shirt, scissors, sewing machine.

Additional items needed if you want to applique: fusible web (I used Wonder-Under), iron, ironing board.  (Remember to read the directions thoroughly on your webbing, in case they differ from those shown below.)





Your t-shirt bag is now finished.  Easy as pie, right?  You can stop here or go on to add a bit of custom magic to your bag.  I chose designs that read a bit Halloween-y, but wouldn’t look completely out of place when we use them as library bags for the rest of the year.

Viola!  You now have a super cute and custom bag for your child.  Now go dig through your closets, pull out all your old t-shirts and get cutting.  Your shirts will be so happy to be back in your life.

What is your favorite way to reduce/reuse/recycle?

What simple items make your life easier?

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Darling Clementine

Crystal stops by GiversLog a couple times a month to share her fresh ideas. When she’s not writing for GiversLog, Crystal can be found mothering, knitting, and cooking. Stop by and see what’s new at her etsy shop: monograms, Greek keys, and chevron stripes. Oh my!

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So it has taken a little longer than expected, but I finally have for you the final game gift promised from this post. Here’s a little project I did with my kids as a follow-up to our Tahoe vacation.

I am always looking for ways to use pictures from favorite trips or memorable periods of our life. I like the pictures not only of the people but of the details that were important to us at that moment that we could easily forget.

Did anyone play with shrinkie dinks as a kid? I remember having a Rainbow Bright set. Did you know you can get blank sheets of them for your printer? It’s almost more fun than I can handle.

We printed off a few pictures from our trip. For photos to work on shrinkie dinks, they  need to be a bit washed out to make the final color true. We had fun picking out the pics. For this project we picked out several subjects that were in transit.

We added a little hand-drawn detail with a water-based marker.

Then cut along the lines.

And then came the fun part, we popped them in the oven. It is so much fun watching them curl up and become itty-bitty versions of themselves. Note, if you have an emergency and some curl over themselves, don’t panic! Just put them back in a little longer and they should flatten. Use a butter knife to carefully and gently flatten them a bit if you need to.

We added stands and have a pretty fun final product. Candy Land, anyone?

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I am a fan of family game nights.

And I love the idea of making games from pictures of all of your family’s favorite people, places, or things. Here, a few of my favorite personalized game ideas. With one more coming tomorrow.

Totally beautiful memory game by Say Yes to Hoboken. Get the full tutorial here.
Also love this bottle cap version.

I was completely blown away by the method for making these photo bean bags.

And a few favorite ideas for photo puzzles from here,

here,

and here (via here).

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Tote a Tiny Toy

06.03.10

Hello fellow Giver’s Log readers!  I have been a fan of dear Amber’s site since the beginning, and I am so thrilled that she has asked me join her.

For my first post, I wanted to share a really small, but meaningful, gift my son received last year. 

A few months after I had my second baby, I was running errands with my oldest child.  I think he was still in the my-world-was-just-majorly-rocked mode after the birth of our baby, and he was having an especially hard time at the store.  While we were waiting in line to check out, a woman came up to us and pulled a toy motorcycle out of her purse and asked my son if he likes motorcycles.  (He does.  A lot.)  She gave him the motorcycle and it immediately calmed him down and bought me enough time to get out of the store with a little grace.  (I should note:  she asked me if it was ok if she gave my son the toy before she approached him.  It’s always a good idea to check in with the Mama/Daddy before giving a stranger-child something, no?)  I was (am!) so appreciative of this woman.  We still have the motorcycle, and even though my son has since broken off the handlebars, it’s still a favorite and gets plenty of play time.  

So here’s my challenge to you:  find a little toy or activity that you can stow in your handbag and give it to a child you see that is having a rough time in a store (or anywhere else that you see a parent who could use a moment of distraction for their child). 


For my own purse, I chose these cute scratch art papers, but I think anything that would keep a child busy for a few minutes would be appreciated:  stickers, a notepad + a crayon or two, small cars, a little book, a wind-up toy, etc.  The goal is to find something that costs only a few quarters and slips into your bag easily.  (Because if you’re anything like me, you’re lugging around a lot already!) 


I bought six scratch art papers at Michaels  for $1.  (And apparently they are a hit with the kids.  Do you see my son drooling over them?)  If you don’t already have something at home that fits the bill, try places like Target’s Dollar Spot or any dollar store for tiny trinkets that would do the trick. 


You could skip this step, but if you get a moment wrap the little gift.  I think half the fun of getting a present is in the unwrapping, especially for a child.  And who knows–maybe the wrapping will be the funnest part to play with!


Okay, okay, son.  You can have one.  Scratch away. 


Hey, it even works at home!  My son kept at this activity for awhile.  Time well spent, I’d say.

If you accept my challenge, please stop by and let me know how it goes.  I’d love to hear your stories.

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It’s beginning to feel like summertime here. So to celebrate, today I am going to the post office and mailing a shovel to a little girl I know. My local post office is starting to know what to expect from me, and all of the workers have a great sense of humor. But if they look at me strange, I’ll just explain that tomorrow, I will mail a bucket.

If you decide to give this a try, you can print postage at home and just drop your shovel in a mailbox, but it’s so much more fun handing it to a postal worker and waiting for them to say, um, I guess there’s nothing liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous?

UPDATE: Just as a little FYI, the shovel was $1.22 to mail. Not bad. And the postal worker didn’t even flinch when he had to find a place for the postage sticker. The bucket goes out tomorrow.

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and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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Here in my little town we have some amazing places to pick up dessert. We have a country roadside stop for soft-serve cones, we have this incredible European-style pastry shop, and finally, we have a cupcake bakery that sells the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. Yumm. Just thinking about it makes me want cupcakes for breakfast.
Incase you can’t tell, I’m a sucker for a pretty dessert. Especially a pretty cupcake. And though I love eating them, I also like giving them away. So a few months ago, I came up with a fun way to present a single cupcake, enthroned in all its sprinkled glory. It started when we realized these make the perfect dome over a cupcake.
I ordered a set of these deli containers, and flipped them upside down.


I pulled out the drill and made a single hole in the center on top.

Then I added a favorite drawer pull that I picked up, where else?, from Anthropologie. (Note: the knobs at Anthropologie are always long, so if you get one from there, you’ll need to either cut it down or replace it with a shorter screw. Some unscrew easier than others, so check before you buy.)
We discovered that a liner beneath the cupcake is the perfect place for a secret message. If you have a particularly buttery cupcake (the best kind) and are worried about grease spoiling your message, use a layer of glassine.
All that’s left to do is snap on the dome. And there you have it, a pretty cupcake, packaged and ready to send home with a guest or birthday girl, even with a handle for easy carrying. After finishing this project I decided that the next time we have a tea party over here,

we are definitely having a cupcake tree.

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If you’re new here, you can check out my other tutorials here, or get some inspiration for other party favors on my blog, my gift inspiration board, or my pretty packaging inspiration board. Thanks for stopping by!

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I love May. I’d love to spend the entire month outside. In honor of May I thought we’d do a project that is reminiscent of May poles and of frolicking in the spring sunshine. We put together some DIY ribbon sticks.

When I first saw these clear tubes from Garnish, I was giddy with the possibilities. So I ordered a few.

Then I pulled out some leftover craft supplies: a few jewelry fasteners, leftover ribbon, one-foot wooden dowels, and some tacks I found out in the shed.

I started putting it all together. Ribbons sewn to fasteners and fasteners nailed to dowels. (If you don’t want to sew, tying knots works just as well). My fasteners allowed for three ribbons on each stick, which I thought was just right.
We did some test frolicking. The best ribbons are definitely the light, silky ones. (And as a side note, I decided to do this tutorial during my all-things-wedding weeks, because I can’t help think that a bunch of little girls frolicking with ribbon sticks would totally add to the scenery of any wedding. Or picnic. Or backyard barbeque. Or school yard. Or anything.)

Then we packaged up our creations in our tubes and added some labels (available for free here). We’re excited to spread some May sunshine. We’re off to the post office to see how the mail clerk likes them, but more importantly, the little girls who will be receiving them in the mail.

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and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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My brother and SIL are the coolest. For my kids’ birthdays this year they sent this.
Bubble wrap hopscotch. And what do you do when you receive a package of bubble wrap hopscotch in the mail? There is only one thing you can do. Tear it right out of the package and get hopping.

So save your bubble wrap, because this is such a great thing to get in the mail. Writing the numbers is easy, just make sure you’re writing on the bubblewrap’s smooth side.
You might want to make a set for yourself.
Then just package it up and send it off. Ours looked a little like a bubble wrap sandwich.
Incase you’re interested in the rules, here are the official hopscotch rules, according to my playground experience:

1. Lay out numbers as shown.
2. Toss the marker on square one.
3. Skip square one and hop on all the other numbers, using only one foot for single squares, both feet for doubles. Then turn and hop back, stopping one square before the marker (you must balance on one foot if it is a single square), and bend over and pick up your marker. Then finish hopping home.
4. If you over throw the marker or lose balance then you end your turn. Continue with remaining numbers (2, 3, 4, 5…) until done.

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and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or follow my 13 oz or less Pinterest board, or see it all right here):

A Disposable Camera | A Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

 

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This post is brought to you from Idaho! Our trip is going swimmingly, and I am snapping many pictures to share with you.

But first, I have to say how much I am loving your comments on my Ann Clark giveaway. The things you do with cookie cutters and the cookies you make and eat have me inspired. I am thinking of launching a full-on kitchen experiment to find a good chocolate sugar cookie recipe. It is going on my must-do list along with making this skirt, mussels, and artisan bread (I updated the post on making these magnificent loaves with a few details you may need if you’re missing the book). I’d better get busy.

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But first, something I promised long ago. Remember when I shared every last thing in my gift and wrapping closet? I told you I like to keep $5 and $10 gifts on hand to mix and match as gift emergencies require. Well, here are a few favorites (with more to come). Do you have any favorite emergency gifts? I’d love to hear.

Balloons
for twisting, and a good bookto show how.
(image from here)

A blank umbrellaor parasoland fabric markers.
(I know, the parasol is over $10, but still affordable, and I knew you’d love it.)

Gumballs and a vintage-looking machine.

A ball on a band. Kids will be busy outside for hours, making this a good gift for mom too.

The bilibo mini.

Bath crayons,for little ones whose best ideas come in the tub.

Lollipops! Really, if you’re going to eat pure sugar, isn’t this the way to do it?

A coloring page that goes forever.

A super classic top.

Binoculars. Of course.

A can of chalkboard paint,for doing something like this.

Brain food. Fun for hours.

And finally, crayon rocks. And maybe a fun handmade pouch for toting them everywhere.
(Pouch found via here.)

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Thanks to all the Idea Room readers who stopped in yesterday. If you’re just joining, today’s post is from a series I’ve started on GiversLog that has become my personal favorite. I’ve been mailing gifts that are 13 ounces or less. And thanks to a few brilliant readers, we’ve come up with some fun things. Like today’s idea. I know it is going to have you running to your recycling bin and pulling out any waterbottles you can find.

This idea came from the lovely Miss Cocoa of Chocolate on my Cranium (can you guess what Cocoa and I have in common? A complete and shameless love of chocolate, maybe?) When I first started this series, Cocoa told me about how she did this. After my friend heard about it, she suggested a bottle exchange. Such brilliance. We exchanged a few emails and agreed we’d send anything that could fit in a water bottle. So first, here’s what I mailed.

Have you ever tried a kneedable eraser? I love the things.

I used free printable labels from here and here.

And now, here is the happy mail I got in return. (Thanks, Sherry, you rock!)

Notice any similarities? We were both all grins when we opened our mailboxes. It turns out we both like turquoise, just a little.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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We had a lot of fun with our latest package.

We couldn’t resist trying to bounce the whole package once it was all wrapped up.


It’s pretty sturdy, incase the postal workers aren’t able to resist.

We’ve been having a lot of fun with this series. And I’m really excited about the next couple ideas we have coming up. Stay tuned.

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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One stack of rainbow sticky notes, all packaged up and ready to brighten the mailbox of my little sister (shh, don’t tell).

and incase you’d like to see a little more, here is my favorite fun mail inspiration from the archives (or see it all right here):

A Great Big Sponge | A Tube of Bert’s Bees | A Wreath and Twinkly Lights | A Disguise | School Supplies | A Pair of Flip Flops | A Big Ball | Plastic Eggs 1 and 2 | Silly Putty |Shovel & a Bucket | Ribbon Sticks | Bubblewrap Hopscotch | Fan Mail | Waterbottle Care Package | Bouncy Balls | Sticky Notes | Jr Mints | Frisbee | Mini Banner and Mini m&ms

find postage rates for happy mail right here along with other mailing details

 

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