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Homemade Gifts

DIY/Crafts/ FUN/DIY/ Homemade Gifts

DIY Personalized Canvas

 I have a good friend that signs his letters or chats off with the phrase “Love and Light.” That phrase has become a super special between the two of us, as it was weaved into a eulogy I gave for his dear sister, my sweet friend.  When the anniversary of her passing was approaching, I wanted to make him a gift that was meaningful.  I decided to make him a personalized canvas with his phrase, ‘Love & Light’ on it.  I wanted something super simple looking, not too fussy.  It was for a guy after all!  I was inspired by a pin I saw on pinterest.  The pin is actually linked to personal canvases that are being sold for $345.00!  Whoa.  I will make my own thankyouverymuch.
I started at the craft store, and was able to buy the square canvases in bulk, 4 for $20.00.  Not bad!  The craft store also had all kinds of fun wooden letters and shapes.  This project is really versatile. You can make it more holiday themed with the words “Merry Christmas!”  You could make one that said “Let It Snow!” and put white glitter on the letters.  You could put your child’s name and add little miniature wooden clothespins to hold special papers.  You could put a bride and grooms name and wedding date on one.  The possibilities really are endless.
I started with gluing on the wooden letters, by simply brushing the backs with glue.
Here is the brand I used.
Let the glue dry.  This didn’t take long.
Then simply spray paint, making sure to get all edges of the canvas and the letters.
I made another for myself with one of my most favorite words–Simplify.
Once the spray paint is dried, add a pearl finish to the letters which makes them catch the light and stand out a bit.  I love the effect this gave them.  I also recommend sealing with a clear gesso or some type of spray sealant.  I didn’t do this step, but in hindsight I think it would make for easier cleaning/dusting.
Let me know if you make on of these!  They can be any size, color, glitter added or not, any word or any wooden shape. 
DIY Personalized Canvas
1. Position wooden letters to canvas.
2. Brush with glue, glue into place, let dry.
3. Spray paint entire piece.
4. Add pearl effect to letters only.
5. Seal with spay sealant.
Let me know if you have any other fun ideas for this project in the comments!

FUN/DIY/ Homemade Gifts/ RECIPES/ Sides

Harry & David Onion Pepper Relish Knockoff

{this is a repost, hope you enjoy seeing it again!}

I am a huge fan of Harry & David’s Onion Pepper Relish, (just not a fan of the price!) so when I saw a recipe for it at Skip To My Lou, I knew I had to try it!  Oh boy, am I glad I did.  I could not believe how similar it tasted to Harry & David’s, I actually think it is slightly better!  It is sweet relish with a bit of a spicy bite.  I served it to a group of my girlfriends last night and it got rave reviews!

Onion Pepper Relish

36 oz canned diced tomatoes, drained (I used 2 1/2  14.5 oz cans)

3 bell peppers, seeds and ribs removed (I used one green, one yellow, and one orange)

3 cups sugar (I used pure cane sugar called Rapadura, it keeps your blood sugar levels from spiking!)

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed

11/2 medium onions

1 cup white vinegar

1 small box powdered pectin (1.75 oz, found in canning supplies of most stores)


Chop all vegetables.  This is the hardest part of the whole recipe, the rest is a breeze.  A food processor makes the chopping go much quicker.


Mix everything together, except for pectin, in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about one hour.  Add the pectin and let boil for 1 minute.


Pour relish into half pint jars, leaving about 1/2 inch room.  Store in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 2 months. Or, if you are into canning, this would be the ideal recipe!


I love to serve it dumped over a block of cream cheese surrounded by pita chips or crackers.  You can also mix the cream cheese and relish together to make a creamy dip.

This would make a great gift, just attach a tag with serving directions on it.


Decorating/ FUN/DIY/ Homemade Gifts

Oil Preserved Photos In Mason Jars

My husband works for an organization where many volunteers come and serve the community.  He was in charge of planning a night to celebrate and recognize those volunteers.  He asked for my help in making the room special by decorating the tables. The place we held the celebration had an old wooden winding staircase, and was full of all kinds of nostalgic type memorabilia.  I played off the nostalgic feel of the place in my decor.  I used all sizes of mason jars, some holding bright sticks of licorice from our local gourmet licorice store, some tiny ball jars holding tea light candles and some full of junior mints. Larger mason jars were full of white daisies to create height and add some nature.  I had buttons that matched our licorice colors sprinkled on the table, and also used them to embellish wooden clothespins that were put at each setting and used in a mixer game.
Can you believe I didn’t take a picture of the finished tables!! 
I was so NOT HAPPY with myself…

I needed a personal touch and had pictures of the kids that the volunteers serve and spend time with.  I looked for a unique way to display them, and the world wide web did not fail me in finding a great idea!
I googled mason jar decor and these vintage photo mason jars from Happiness Is came up.  I instantly knew they would be the perfect, personal touch.  Not just a great table decor, but one that some of the volunteers could take home with them as a thank you gift.  The oil preserves the photo and gives it a vintage, aged, yellowing effect.  The jars at Happiness Is shows an added sprig of lavender to the jars, which was a beautiful touch.

{back of the jar}
They were so easy to make, I just bought the cheapest vegetable oil I could find, in bulk, and filled the jars.  Then I put 2 black and white photos, back-to-back, and slid them down into the oil.  I twisted on the lid then added a thank you tag held on with jute.  Simple!

FUN/DIY/ Homemade Gifts/ Valentine's Day

Healthy Valentine Chocolate Mud Balls

I’ve posted this recipe here at New Nostalgia before.  It is a favorite of ours.  It is a great way to get a chocolate fix and at the same time some wholesome goodness from healthy ingredients.  I had these miniature red polka dot paper holders on hand and thought they would be a great holder for our Chocolate Mud Balls.  I think they make great little Valentine treats!

The original recipe calls for wheat germ, oatmeal, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, peanut butter, and honey.  I was out of sesame seeds, so instead, we threw some homemade granola into my food processor and gave it a whirl. I also didn’t have enough peanut butter on hand, so I added some almond butter.  It worked out well, although I do think I should have added a touch more honey for a bit more sweetness.

Peanut butter & honey, melting together.  The spoon had some dry ingredients left on it, which is why you see some chocolate chips and lumps in there. 🙂

My youngest is really getting into cooking and baking lately.  It has been so much fun to have her in the kitchen with me.  She is confident and very independent in her skills, which is really refreshing when it comes to cooking!  It was her idea to make a homemade Valentine treat to take to our neighbors, so she got really into this project!

Adding dry ingredients to wet.

It is quite thick…takes some muscle.

No baking! Here is the finished product, rolled and packaged to hand out to our neighbors for

 Valentines Day.  You can find these containers at the Dollar Tree, 4 for $1.00 for this small size (6×6), and 3 for $1.00 for a round cake pan size. (8×8)  I have talked about these pans before, when I used them to package up  Christmas Cinnamon Rolls for our neighbors


We used this fun printed tape to secure the packages.  I found it on clearance at Micheal’s for .50 cents.  Great deal.

My little one found a heart sticker and wrote a little love note on it.

She had great fun delivering them to our neighbors.  It was so fun to see her walk in the snow delivering her gifts.  I was really proud that it was her idea and she followed through until it was complete.  She is my perfect Lil’ Valentine!

FUN/DIY/ Homemade Gifts

Fireside Mocha Mug -Easy Teacher Gifts!

I made 2 homemade food gifts this year.  Clone Of A Cinnabon pans for neighbors and co-workers, and these Fireside Mocha Mugs for Teacher gifts.  Both of these food gifts started with a trip to my local dollar store.  Foil pans with lids for my Cinnamon Rolls, and these super fun mugs for the mocha mix.  I love the dollar store!!
{bags and ribbon from Micheal’s, snowflake tags from Target}
I could not believe how fast and easy this mix was to make.  It sure beats making a gazillion Christmas cookies!  It tastes really good– creamy and delicious!  I made extra to store away, and when I think of one more person I’d like to give a gift to (mailman?) I simply grab a bag and mug, pour a cup of mix in, tie with twisty and tag, and stick in a candy cane.  So simple!  
This is also really cute packaged in a mason jar.  Last year I used mason jars for my Peppermint Stick Hot Cocoa, click through for packaging idea.

 I did a few packaged like this, inspired by some expensive gift mugs I saw at the mall displayed in this way. Most of the mugs I kept simple, as in the first picture above.  I thought they were cute adorned with the candy canes, and it saved money and time to skip the cellophane and wire ribbon.

 I found the recipe at  I did change it up a bit after tasting a mug.  I used less coffee, more cocoa mix, less nutmeg, and some salt.

Here is my version:
Fireside Mocha
1 cup powdered creamer
11/2 cups powdered hot cocoa mix
1/2 cup instant coffee
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix together in a large container and distribute into jars or bags.  Instructions attached should read “Mix 3-4 heaping spoonfuls in a mug of hot water”
*I quadrupled this to make 13 mugs.  Each mug contained about a cup of mix.
Father's Day/ FUN/DIY/ Holidays/Parties/ Homemade Gifts/ RECIPES/ Sweets

Butterscotch Bars For Father’s Day

Butterscotch Bars–
5 ingredients.
5 minutes to make.
25 minutes to bake.
=35 minutes for a simple, thoughtful and yummy Father’s Day gift.

My father-in-law loves Oatmeal Scotchies (ya know, the oatmeal cookies with the butterscotch chips in them?).  They are super good, but he is pretty health conscious, so I thought I would try something a bit different with healthful ingredients in mind, but still with a buttery, butterscotch flavor.  I’ve been eyeing this 5 ingredient recipe for Butterscotch Bars from Heavenly Homemakers for awhile now,  and hoped they would taste as good as she made them sound.  Well, of course they do–after all, it is a Heavenly Homemakers recipe, and she never disappoints.

Now, when I say healthful, I do not mean eat- a-whole-pan-in-one-sitting kind of healthful.  They do have a cup of butter in them, so they are not low calorie.  What I mean is that they are made with healthful ingredients that are not artificial, and contain ingredients that are beneficial to the body. (example-fiber from the whole wheat flour, protein from the eggs)

My husband was heading out the door to meet his dad and brother for dinner and a movie, when I stopped him and pleaded for him to wait a few minutes so I could finish up the bars.  I got that look from my husband, the look that said “you know my dad is a stickler for punctuality, please hurry!”  Well, my patient husband waited for me to package these pretty, and in turn was 5 minutes late to dinner on Father’s day.  Oops. 🙁  Hopefully a little package of still-warm-from-the -oven Butterscotch Bars will make it all ok. 🙂  I dearly love my father-in-law, and I am so very thankful for his influence on my husbands life, my life and my children’s lives.  I love you, Don! (I’m smiling.  It is good he does not read my blog, that PDVA -public display of verbal affection-would make him roll his eyes.  You know the type, tries to be grizzly on the outside but everyone knows he is teddy on the inside-love it)

To be quite honest, I am feeling pretty overwhelmed with gratitude on this Father’s Day.  I have been so blessed to have an amazing husband who is such a great dad to our girls, a super loving, giving and involved father-in-law, and my own daddy, whom I know loves me, has done so much for me, and reads my blog despite most of the content being of little interest to a guy like him-now that is love, huh? (miss you dad, hope you are having a GREAT time in Wisconsin!)  I. AM. BLESSED.

On to the recipe…
it is easy and really yummy.  It is bursting with buttery goodness and a bit on the gooey side–yum. I’m wondering if it would be just as good with a little less butter in it.  I may try that next time.

Easy Butterscotch Bars
1 cup butter, melted
11/2 cups sucanat (pure cane sugar)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
11/2 cups whole wheat flour

Stir butter and sucanat together.  Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.  Add whole wheat flour and mix until well combined.  Pour batter into a 9×13 inch pan ( I greased mine)  Bake 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
The Girl Creative