party favor ideas

I picked up some crab apples at Whole Foods for the cooking I mentioned I’ll be doing this weekend. But when the kids and I got them home and looked at them, we just couldn’t help ourselves.

We decided we had to dip a few in carameland make mini caramel apples.We decided we had to dip a few in caramel and make mini caramel apples.
Now I am trying to find an excuse to have a party for my daughter so I can show these off.
By the way, few grocers carry crab apples, so if you’re out to find some, call before you shop. And if your sole plans are to make mini–caramel apples, you’ll probably want to ask for Lady Apples instead (different than Pink Lady Apples). From my understanding, they are a little sweeter than crab apples, and just as mini.


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.


When I told my kids I had a couple sheets of tattoo paper on hand you would have thought I’d just told them they were each getting a new puppy. (We are not going there, by the way.)

We’ve been playing around with the endless possibilities of drawing some custom tats or picking out premade designs. While we were playing we discovered you can layer homemade tattoos. And that sealed the deal.

I drew out some cones, some ice cream flavors, some toppings. (You can see other custom Silhouette projects I did here and here.) When my daughter had her cute friend over, I let them go to town. And here is what they picked.

They’re both soft serve fans. I can respect a good soft serve, but I’d go for the scoop and hot fudge myself.

By the way, today is the last day to enter a certain giveaway I have going on. I’ll announce a winnetright here tonight.


This spring I have been a little in denial. I know the time is coming soon when I have to decide if I’m going to start a garden. But I just don’t know if I’m ready to commit! I dropped by a farmer’s market yesterday and was told, here in Cali, I have two weeks left to decide. I’ve been totally inspired by this hydroponic herb garden, and this DIY green house trick, but I just need something to push me over the edge, or pull me back.

(btw, if you’re thinking of starting an herb garden, don’t miss my 13 tips for starting an herb garden I picked up last year)

While I’m putting off the garden commitment, we did manage to pick out a few strands of seeds to plant a small caterpillar and butterfly garden. We stopped by our nursery and asked what plants might be good to attract local critters. We decided to make seed tape (see my seed tape tutorial here), because it is my kids’ favorite.
Seed tape is great for my kids, they love putting globs of paste on the strips of newspaper. And seed tape is also a great way to store seeds so they’re ready to plant in seconds.

Of course we had to make an extra to give away and add a few embellishments. Butterfly garden seeds on top, caterpillar seeds on bottom. All that’s left to do is lay the strips on soil, sprinkle with a little extra soil, water, and watch!


Hello, and welcome to this week’s shoot-along post. I’ll be featuring one photo tutorial, photo gift idea, or photo challenge every Wednesday from now through December. Scroll to the bottom of today’s post to see more from the shoot along.

Want to know my all-time favorite party favor to send home for kids’ parties? Fun, adorable, crazy photos. For my daughter’s bday this year, we made a photo booth out of our front door. The photos turned out adorable.

The key ingredients for a great photo booth? Good lighting and zaney props. That’s about it.

(Don’t miss this DIY version, or go check out how the pros do it.)

how sweet are these girls? from here via here.

this is an all-time fave of mine made by Melanie of You are My Fave

I almost died when I saw this one. how cute is this little guy? see more here.

and one more from Mer Mag to send you on your way.

Join the Shoot-Along right here

Tutorials to date: Tell the Story | Light pt I | How to Boss Your Camera Around (shoot in manual)
Challenges to date: Sour Face | A Trick for Capturing the Ordinary | Then + Now Scavenger Hunt

Gift Ideas to date: Portrait Buttons | Photo Games | Photo Game Markers |Photo Booth Round Up

All this made possible by the lovely Carrie Butler.


As you may remember from once or twice before, we are all about hopscotch on this blog. And now that school is in session and tomorrow fall will be official (in the N. hemisphere anyway), there are plenty of reasons to play. A game of hopscotch, of course, requires chalk. White chalk will do, but pretty stripey chalk will do even better. So we thought we’d better make some.

By the way, all pictures are courtesy of my husband’s iPhone. My poor Canon is in the shop again. I miss it.
We developed this chalk recipe last year with the leftovers from an art project I did for my daughter’s class. The best part about this homemade chalk is that it is c-h-e-a-p. And it turns out great chalk. Go to your hardware store and pick up a five-pound tub of joint compound or drywall mud. You’ll pay five bucks at most. We had a giant leftover tub, so we went with that. For a mold, we used IKEA’s water bottle ice molds.

Other materials we used were powdered tempera (liquid tempera works too), a few baggies, and we decided to add in a few strips of our favorite colors of tissue paper, which worked great with the chalk, and adhered well too without any fuss.

Dump or squirt your tempera into your joint compound and mix well. The powdered tempera will keep the whole thing a little drier, and make it a little more like dough, while the liquid tempera often turns out a little brighter.
We added a few stripes of tissue paper, just for decoration. We found that overlapping tissue paper colors does NOT work as well as spacing out the stripes. The spaced stripes held out better when the chalk dried. Glitter is also fun to dump into the molds before adding the chalk dough.

Depending on how thick your joint compound is, clip off a corner and pipe it from your bag, or pull out a handful and press it into the mold. It’s fun letting the kiddos experiment with different pieces of tissue paper and different colors of chalk dough.

This is the hardest part. Leave it alone and let it dry. Depending on how wet it is, it will take two to three days. When the top of ours was mostly dry, I tore off the scraps of tissue paper and popped the chalk out of the mold to let the bottom dry.

Give them a couple days and you’re ready to go. Aren’t they pretty?

While my daughter was hard at work producing chalk with me, I thought you might like to see what the boys were up to. The 5-year-old found an umbrella (what is it with kids and umbrellas?)

and the baby tried his first experiments in color mixing. Very fun.

But back to the chalk. We’re planning on giving these out for my daughter’s star student week in class. We did another DIY art supply for my son’s school bday favor last year and they went over well, so we thought we’d give these a try.

Good luck! And if you try, I’d love to hear how it goes.


Love this simple idea that Lisa made from Trader Joe’s jellies. (Also, check out this picnic that she threw for her daughter headed off to college. Lisa, you rock at party ideas on a budget.)

Lisa writes, “I wanted a fun, fast gift/party favor idea using what I already had on hand.  It was my friend’s birthday and I was short on time and this is what I came up with.  SHE LOVED IT!  Alot of bang for your buck!” Thanks, Lisa!

Stay tuned. In just a few moments I have an amazing man I can’t wait to introduce you to.


If you have an idea to share, we’d love to hear it. Stop by here to submit. Here are a few of the categories I’m always looking for: Handmade Gifts | I made a Giver’s Log Tutorial | Big Surprises | Little Surprises | Happy Mail | Thoughtful Gestures | Pretty Packaging | Party Favors | Food to Make and Share | Simple Entertaining Ideas | and of course, a story for Give That Man a Hand


Welcome Kits


I think this welcome to the world kit over at Made is one of the dearest things I’ve seen.

Also had to share these simple summer gifts from Blonde Designs. Matching swimsuit coveralls as a vacation welcome (how much do kids love to match?) and thank you kits sent post-vacation.

{ 1 comment }

Have you ever played with glass etching before? Once you invest in a bottle of etching cream the possibilities are endless. We decided to make a mirror for a  little friend of ours, so I thought I’d share.

Glass etching cream
Sponge brush
Vinyl or contact paper and something to cut it with (I used my Silhouette, but you can use scissors or a craft knife)
Something pretty to etch

I picked up this mirror at Target and wish I would have picked up more than just one. Isn’t it the perfect thing for a little girl to admire herself in?

I used my Silhouette to cut out a sweet tiara. Did you notice I used regular contact paper? I wanted to save my premium Silhouette vinyl for other purposes (I have about a million things I want to try), and since I had a whole roll of contact paper, and the Silhouette can cut anything thin, I went with the contact paper.

I ran it through my Silhouette with the backing still on, then peeled off just the negative space of the design and stuck it on the mirror. Run your finger over the design a few extra times and make sure all the corners are stuck down.

I loaded up my sponge brush with etching cream and brushed it on. A good friend taught me to paint it on heavy in multiple directions, and give it a few minutes longer to sit than the bottle directs, so I usually do.

Once the time is up, you just rinse, dry and peel away the contact paper.

And that’s it. The perfect mirror for a little princess.


Silhouette SD

I hope you’re enjoying my Silhouette fest! Don’t forget to enter my GIVEAWAY for a Silhouette SD of your very own. You have until Wednesday. And don’t miss the great discounts offered by Silhouette for GiversLog readers. Once you have this machine, your head will spin with the possibilities.


Hello again!

I’ve stopped by today to get your 4th of July wheels turning.  I can’t believe it’s only ten days away.  Do you already have plans?  It always seems that we have nice long summer days in June and then July is over before I can catch my breath.

Take a look at a few of the festive things I found rummaging around online–I think you’ll find something you like:

1.  Pillowcase dress from The Uptown Baby

2.  Sailor Dress from Topshop via Found It.Loved It.

3.  Bobby Pins from howbeadyful

4.  Striped Canvas Wedges from TOMS via Found It.Loved It.

5.  Vintage Enamel Brooch from Nonnie’s Treasures

1. The Perfect Burger from Martha Stewart

2.  Grilled Corn on the Cob from Epicurious

3.  Red, White, & Blue Parfait from Weelicious

4.  Cupcake Liners from Crate & Barrel

5.  Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad from The Pioneer Woman

1.  Red, White, & Blue Garland from Martha Stewart via Kind Over Matter

2.  Confetti Popper Rockets from alphamom via Kind Over Matter

3.  Pinwheel Cupcake Toppers from the long thread via Kind Over Matter

4.  Sidewalk Chalk Stars from alphamom via the long thread

5.  Star Medallions from Martha Stewart

1.  Lunchboxes from Target

2.  The 4th of July Story from Amazon

3.  Happy July 4th Tags from Fresh Lemon Blossoms

4.  Ballon Pump from Vat19 via Found It.Loved It.

5.  Tabletop Pennants from possibly & perhaps

6.  Patriotic Eagle Plaque from Wisteria

7.  Guac Off! from Chronicle Books via Oh Happy Day

8.  Army and Navy Dolls from Wisteria

Here’s to an Independence Day full of good food, friends, family and fireworks! 


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 some of her handy work at her etsy shop.


I’m thrilled to introduce you to my new sponsor, which  may already be a favorite shop of yours, like it is mine.

Pi’lo is chalk full of handmade goods made by Heather Shaw in her home-based Toronto studio. If you’ve never seen her work, prepare to be awed. Everything she makes and everything she blogs is a breath of fresh air. She creates one piece after another that will instantly become an heirloom. Below just a few favorites.

toothfairy pillow

alphabet book

pretty hankie

reusable crackers

party goodies

photo ornament

pretty apron

printed napkins

So much gift inspiration. Be sure to stop by her shop.




I have to tell you that I am pretty excited that picnic season is here. As you may have noticed, I really really like picnics. Which is why I’m so excited to share with you the most amazing pesto you will ever taste.

A friend of ours makes this pesto from her own basil and gives it away every Christmas. Every year we devour it and rave about how good it is. I finally decided life is too short to have amazing pesto only in December. So this year I asked, and this friend of ours was good enough to pass on her recipe. (Thanks, Jaime!) We’ve been making it nonstop since. Several dinners have revolved around this pesto. And I expect several summer picnics yet to come will revolve around it too.

The recipe is so impossibly easy. I wish I’d started making it years ago. There’s no special process. There is, however, one secret ingredient: butter. Basil and butter? How can you go wrong?

I included a free printable label for you. I thought pesto might be a good addition to my list of DIY wedding favors. Plus this will make a great hostess gift. Just sneak it in the fridge with a little thank you note while no one is looking. When your hostess discovers it she will love you, and when she tastes it she will love you even more. I’ve included a blank label too. Just in case you’d like to use it for some other treat.

Download from DropBox by clicking here: Printable Pesto Label, Printable Label Blank

Or download here: Pesto Label, printable (4012)
Leafy Label, blank (4423)

(Printing tip: You can open these files as they are, or, if you’d like to change their size, insert them into a Word document as a picture. Then you can resize as you like.)

Jamie’s Amazing Homemade Pesto

4 cups packed basil leaves
5 cloves garlic
½ cup butter
2 cups parmesan cheese
olive oil
a handful of pine nuts or walnuts

Put first four ingredients into bowl of food processor in order given: mash as many basil leaves in as you can, just as long as you leave a few inches of space at the top of the bowl, then add garlic (the Trader Joe’s pre-peeled stuff is great), slice up the butter on top, and dump the cheese on top of that. Pulse and gradually add olive oil until mixture is the consistency of thick paste. (Taste at this point and see if it needs more of anything.) Add nuts and continue to blend. Once done, spoon into jars and keep in fridge until ready to enjoy. Yields about two cups.

I’m sorry to tell you that my basil is store-bought. But I am tending to my herb garden dutifully, and I’m hopeful that I’ll get to use my own basil very soon.

Did you know you can use walnuts in pesto? Pine nuts are great too, but I like that with walnuts you can occasionally bite into a big chunk of nut. Yum. In fact, I threw in most of my walnuts and processed the pesto for a while, then threw in a few extra and gave everything just a few whirls so I’d be guaranteed a few big chunks.

I love how bright springie green it is.

Happy picnicking!


I hope you’ll forgive me an indulgence. I got a little carried away last night looking at pretty party favors. But look at these, can you blame me? Here are my 54 favorites. (Really, I tried to limit myself). Visit here to get a closer look. Is there anything good I missed? (C’mon, we can do better than a mere 54.) Do you have any favorite DIYs for party favors?