Category Archives: DIY


DIY Christmas Hostess Gift in a Jar – Sugar Peppermint Scrub with Coconut Oil

We recently moved to a new neighborhood, and we are surrounded by friendly and involved neighbors. Every year a Christmas breakfast is hosted at our neighbor’s house. We were fortunate to be invited this year. We were so looking forward to the event, to meeting several new neighbors who we have not yet had the opportunity to greet, and sampling all the delicious treats. Everyone was supposed to bring a dish to share. So, I was thinking and planning on what dish to bring, and completely forgot about bringing a hostess gift to thank my wonderful neighbor for including us in such a delightful event.

That being said, I decided to make one of my favorite holiday luxury items, with which I like to spoil myself every year. DIY Christmas hostess gift in a jar filled with Sugar Peppermint Scrub with Coconut Oil. Now this can be used as a hand scrub or a full body scrub. It works great to moisturize dry chapped hands from the winter cold, it is wonderful in the shower as a full body scrub and exfoliator, and you should definitely try rubbing a little bit on your dry lips this winter. The best thing about it is it is 100% safe for your body and you can even eat it (if you feel like licking it off your lips).

The ingredients to make this DIY Christmas hostess gift in a jar are simple and can likely be found in your kitchen already. Although, you may need to plan ahead and special order the peppermint oil (or peppermint extract), because many local stores either do not carry it or sell out of it very quickly once the Christmas/holiday/winter season begins.

I used organic white sugar, peppermint oil (you can also use peppermint extract), and organic, solid coconut oil. You will want an eyedropper for the peppermint oil. The coconut oil can be found at your grocers in the organic aisle or sometimes in the health aisle at an organic food store or body products store.

Melt 1/4 cup coconut oil in a microwave- safe dish in 20 second intervals until thoroughly melted. Add 15-20 drops of peppermint oil to the melted coconut oil and stir to combine. In a medium sized bowl, combine the oil mixture with 1 cup of sugar and stir until thoroughly combined. You can add more peppermint oil to increase the smell to your preference. Scoop mixture into jars. 

This should stay good for a couple of months in a sealable mason jar. Shelf life for me has been around three months (though really, you will use this up much quicker than that because it is amazing for your skin!!)

A variation of this recipe can be made with kosher salt, peppermint oil, and any other type of oil like vegetable oil, sunflower oil, any Nut oil really, or even baby oil. However, one of the benefits of this mixture is the scent and the ability to moisturize and seal moisture into your skin. So if you are using an alternate type of oil, try to get one that is un scented or scent-free or at least doesn’t have an overpowering smell. Also, baby oil will work but doesn’t have the best reputation for locking in moisture.

This is why I prefer the coconut oil, sugar, and peppermint oil combination. The smell is amazing and it keeps your skin hydrated.

I found the labels and recipe for the sugar scrub online through this blog site, Mom4real.

To finish off and package up your DIY Christmas hostess gift in a jar, fill a widemouth mason jar with the sugar scrub mixture. Secure the lid. And decorate the bottle with some kitchen twine. Don’t forget to add some embellishments. You could add a peppermint stick or some holly berries and leaves as pictured in the photo above. You may want to consider adding a gift tag on the twine as well. 

Do not forget to label the jar with the contents inside. You can either make your own label to affix to the exterior of the jar or to the jar lid, or use a free printable version online here.


DIY Christmas Gifts in a Jar

With Christmas right around the corner, I am willing to bet that many of you, like myself, are in a place where the money is all spent, the presents have been bought, the groceries are in the fridge, but there are still some precious friends, family, and neighbors for whom you would like to give a small gift to show that you care and are thinking of them this holiday season. 

Christmas cards are one way to share warm wishes with others. But if you are looking for a small token to give, DIY Christmas Gifts in a Jar are a wonderful and affordable way to do this.

This Christmas, I was informed rather short notice that my spouse needed eight (which was later corrected to nine) gifts for the team and subordinates at work. Now, we had originally planned on purchasing some Frango mints at Marshall Fields in Chicago the last time we were visiting for just such an occasion. However, we failed to do so, and the purchase price plus shipping was just not in our budget this year. Add to that list, something for our amazing babysitter, our children’s play friends, and our dear neighbors to whom we also felt inclined to gift this year.

The best solution I can think of, that was affordable, would provide me and our kids some fun, and also gave me a creative outlet this December, was to do DIY Christmas gifts in a jar. Now, these jars can be decorated and filled with anything that you want. In previous blogs I have mentioned doing gifts in a jar filled with ingredients to make cookiesexample. However, this year I decided to go a bit more simple with assorted candy (chocolate and licorice) and hot chocolate powder with marshmallows.

My DIY Christmas gifts in a jar were decorated as several characters this year, to include Santa Claus, Reindeer, Elves, and Snowman. You can decorate the jars as simply and inexpensively as you want or rack up that craft store bill with add-ons. I really was trying to make a meaningful but super-affordable gift this year, so I simply used the acrylic paint stored in my art cupboard for most of the detail work, and added some twine around the jar lids to tie on the gift tags. I did purchase a few buttons and pipe cleaners for embellishments. 

Some other ideas would be to add a jingle bell to the twine label, to purchase or print festive Christmas labels, to add holiday themed fabric over the jar lid, or glue other embellishments onto the jars. I include some ideas for additional embellishments with each jar description below.

Some materials you will want include pint sized wide mouth mason jars with or without lids, small foam brushes, acrylic paint, colored buttons (like black, red, green or white), glitter (like gold, white, red, green, etc.), a hot glue gun and glue sticks, twine (like the standard kitchen packaging twine or red and white wine), Christmas labels with a whole punch and fine-tip permanent marker, and a pair scissors. 

If you have mason jars without lids plan on covering the Jar mouth with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Some of my jars did not have lids, so I covered the mouth of the jars with aluminum foil, and then secured the foil to the jar (and also disguised the shine a bit from the sides), by wrapping kitchen twine several times around the mouth of the jar and securing with a knot at the back. This also gave me a great place to attach my gift tag.

A tip from experience, do not open your packages of candy to fill the jars until the night before or the morning of the day you plan on gifting the jars. You do not want the candy to become too moist or too hard and dried out, depending on the conditions where you live or inside your home.

The Santa Claus Jar

For the Santa Claus jar, I used black and white acrylic paint and gold glitter for decorations. Using my foam brush, I carefully painted a stripe along the middle of the jar in black paint. Let that dry before moving onto the next step. And then with white acrylic paint, I painted an outline of a square over and centered on the black line in the center of one of the sides of the jar. While the white paint was still wet, I sprinkled on gold glitter and gently tapped the glitter into the white paint with my finger. The idea is for this to look like Santa’s black belt and gold buckle.

That’s it!

Now you could go fancier and use black satin ribbon (½”) for the belt and actual brass buckles from your local sewing center or gold metallic cardstock cut into a buckle shape.

Fill the jar with any red candy you like. I think red hots, red licorice bites, long strands of red licorice, sour candies… But be sure that it is all red.

The Reindeer Jar

For the reindeer jar, I used half-inch red buttons and brown pipe cleaners. If you want to add an extra detail, you can also paint eyes on your jar (black acrylic paint). I did not include eyes on my reindeer jar, going with a more abstract look. If you want eyes, with the foam brush, carefully paint black eyes in the top-third of the jar. In the middle-third of the jar, use the hot glue gun to secure one red button in the center of the jar, below the eyes. This will be Rudolph’s nose. Around the mouth of the jar, below the ridges for the lid to screw on, bend two pipe cleaners (in opposite directions of each other) around the mouth of the Jar and twist the ends to secure the position and keep the ends separated in a ‘V’ shape to form antlers on each side of the jar. Using a third pipe cleaner, wrap the pipe cleaner around the jar and just above or below where you did the two antler pipe cleaners. Twist the ends together at theback of  the jar to look like a tail, and aim the ends down and away from the bottle.

Fill the jar with any brown candy, like chocolate M&Ms, malt balls, chocolate covered raisins, chocolate dipped pretzels, etc.

The Elf Jar

For the elf jar, I used white acrylic paint, white glitter, and half-inch red buttons. With the foam brush, around the top of the jar and just under the ridges for screwing on the lid, carefully paint upside down triangle’s overlapping each other all the way around the jar. This will be the color of the elves shirt. While the white paint is still wet, sprinkle on and gently press and white glitter. Down the center of one side of the jar, glue on three evenly spaced red buttons. These will be the shirt buttons for your elf.

Now fill the jar with any green candy, like sour apple, mint flavored M&M’s, Green gumballs, etc.

The Snowman Jar

For the snowman jar, I used black half-inch buttons, and black, green and orange acrylic paint. With the foam brush, paint on two eyes and a smile in the upper one third of the jar. The smile should be four to five evenly spaced dots of black paint. The idea is for the eyes, the smile, and the buttons to look like pieces of coal. So, do not try to make the black circles look perfectly circular. You want the edges and lines to be irregular and uneven. But, definitely try to make the positioning on the bottle symmetrical and proportional as you would with decorating a real snowman. For the nose, you want to make an elongated triangle on its side to look like a carrot shoved into the middle of your snowman’s face. I accomplished this by putting my brush on the jar and keeping the point of the nose still, I arced the other side of the brush downwards to form the wider base of the carrot (or the nose) where it would enter the snowman’s face. The base of the carrot (nose) should be centered between the eyes and above the mouth. 

In between the smile and the top button, paint a green line all the way around the jar to be the scarf. To the left side of your snowman’s face, along the line of the scarf, paint a small knot (think about drawing a butterfly with four wings) and then draw three overlapping lines coming down from the knot to form the tassel of your scarf. I then added on tiny lines at the end of each tassel of the scarf to be fringe. The three Colburns should go down the middle of the jar, centered underneath the mouth and between the eyes. You can either keep the buttons in the middle-third of the jar or center them over the middle- and bottom-thirds of the jar.

At the bottom of the jar, measure out and fill the jar with hot chocolate powder for as many cups as you want to provide. I aim for 4 to 6 cups of hot chocolate which is usually 2 to 3 tablespoons of powder mix per cup. Then, fill the rest of the jar with white, miniature marshmallows. The goal is for the jar to be mostly filled with marshmallows so it looks like a white Snowman, so you need to limit how much hot chocolate powder you put in the bottom. Otherwise you’re going to be gifting a muddy snowman!

I decorated the lids in the same color paint that I used for the scarves.

Under the Sea Refreshments

Under the Sea Birthday Party

When my eldest daughter turned one while our family was stationed in Hawaii, we embraced the local tradition of elaborately celebrating the milestone with a big birthday party. An Under the Sea Birthday Party theme may not have been the most original idea, considering the island culture, but the planning and execution of the party details, food and beverages, decor, games and prizes was fun and simplified since all the necessary resources were at hand. You can go as over-the top or basic as you want when planning an Under the Sea birthday party for a boy or girl, and you can customize your party to your child’s age, favorite color, ocean animal, and food. For my daughter’s party, I chose coral and sea mist for colors, and a range of animals depicted in the decor, games and food. Continue reading


Leftover Easter Ham and Egg Casserole Recipe

Easter has come and gone and you are left with a pound (or three…) of ham. It was just two of us this Easter dinner, since our toddler is still an extremely picky eater and our infant is just now managing pureed vegetables. I bought the smallest ham I could find, but it was still 4 pounds of meat. Sunday’s Easter dinner was delicious, with honey baked ham, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and spiced peaches. The next day’s lunch and dinner of ham and mashed potatoes, and then ham, smothered in honey dijon to camouflage the taste, and cheesy potatoes were equally filling, though not as satisfying. And now it’s Tuesday, and I still have at least four days of ham left in my fridge and a spouse traveling for work. I despise throwing away food so it is up to me to polish off this ham. And, I am already sick of it. In comes my delicious, palate saving, Leftover Easter Ham and Egg Casserole Recipe. Continue reading

Dyeing eggs

Fun Easter Celebrations for the Family

We have had more fun this weekend enjoying Easter themed activities together. It is so easy and requires very little additional effort to Google local events in your own area. But, if your family is more home-oriented, or you have guests in town, there are several at-home activities to choose from as well. Whether you choose local or home events this Holiday season, just be sure to include fun Easter celebrations for the family as a whole, in addition to activities geared towards different age groups. Do not forget that this weekend is for everyone’s enjoyment and spiritual well-being. Continue reading

Baskets for small children

Perfect Easter Baskets for Small Children

Just in case the Easter Bunny needs a little assistance in choosing sussies (small surprises) for my children’s baskets this year, I did a little research and store patrolling to see what items were available that have a little Easter flare. My girls are at a wonderful, but difficult age for stocking an Easter Basket, as His-Bunniness surely already knows. Small candies, gum and chocolates are still not an option in our household. Same goes for most art supplies. However, at any age, you cannot go wrong with Easter books, crayons, coloring books, hopping toys, stuffed animals, bubbles, bouncing balls, and toys. My girls are 27 months and 8 months and a joyful handful. I picked out a few items that I would love for the Bunny to bring them this Easter Sunday. In my opinion, the perfect easter baskets for small children should contain an assortment of themed goodies. Now, I believe that the HOLY-day should be put back in our Holidays, so I looked into Jesus themed coloring books and board books, but I felt like the coloring books were much too advanced for my two year old to enjoy and we already have our fare share of religious board books. So, these items are not included in the photographs below. But, I do highly recommend such items for your Easter baskets. The options below are selected to fit inside a traditional, small/medium sized Easter basket. Continue reading

Fun toddler crayons!

Homemade Chunky Toddler Crayons

My daughter is nearly two and over the last few months at daycare she has begun finger-painting, sponge-painting and coloring with crayons. I am not yet brave enough to venture into the realm of toddler-painting at my home, but crayons do not seem nearly as daunting. The regular crayons at the PX here at JBLM are too small and fragile for her sweet, chubby little hands to grasp and use effectively. I saw some chunky toddler crayons online for a pretty penny. So, I spent an afternoon creating some star-shaped homemade toddler crayons. These crayons are great for regular, home-use but they also make fantastic party favors. Continue reading

Well-loved Uggs

Cleaning Your UGGs

Now that Fall has begun here in the NorthWestern United States, it is time to break out the winter boots! The UGG trend in the U.S. began during my high school days, though I refrained from ever purchasing a pair, and especially from wearing them with a jean skirt in the middle of a Texas summer (seriously?). However, now that I find myself in a damp, cold Washington climate, and after observing the native Webbed-feet inhabitants in all their UGG-glory, I figure there must be something about these over-priced boots that I’ve been missing out on. Continue reading

Layering Batting, Cushion, and Chair Seat

DIY Chair Cushion Recovering

Last Friday I was all ready to travel to Guam on a Space-A flight, but unavoidable hotel and car rental issues stopped the impromptu trip in its tracks. Instead, I went home and stopped procrastinating on a long-overdue project: Recovering my Dining Room Chair Cushions!

I ‘salvaged’ these chairs from my grandfather’s steaming-hot attic in Houston, TX several years ago when we were cleaning out the house to put it up for sale. They belonged to my great-great-grandmother. The cushions are pretty uncomfortable, not to mention stained and utterly unattractive. But I loved the structure and lines of the chairs, and surprisingly they are still very sturdy, if a little on the small size in terms of scale.

Vintage Fabric on Old Cushion

Vintage Fabric on Old Cushion

Refurbished Chair

Refurbished Chair

To update these beauties, I unscrewed the chair seats and stripped off a few layers of old fabric, removed all the deteriorating batting, and pried off hundreds of upholstery nails (do NOT attempt without a Tetanus Shot!). You may need an assortment of tools for this step; I used fabric scissors, a rotary blade, a flathead screwdriver, pliers, and a hammer to remove the assorted upholstery nails. TIP: If the idea of inhaling decades of skin cells and dirt grosses you out – like it does me – wear a professional grade face mask… protective eyewear is not a bad idea either!

The wood seat forms were still in good shape (despite all the upholstery nail holes), and although I would prefer to start this project with a fresh seat form, paying for custom woodwork in Hawaii is cost-prohibitive on this project, and I do not own a router to DIY.

I used the existing seat form as a template to cut out my new fabric. For solid fabrics, trace your form on the backside of the fabric in an upholstery pen or pencil; for printed fabrics, like the one I chose, I opted to free-style my cuts on the front of the fabric so that I could more easily line up and center the fabric design. Cut the fabric a good three inches wider than the seat form on each side. To facilitate cutting, I used a rotary fabric blade and a cutting mat. TIP: For vintage pieces (read “handmade and not mass-produced”, I recommend using each seat form individually to cut out the fabric, batting and foam cushion; handmade items will vary ever-so-slightly in dimension.

Layout the batting on your work surface and cut it three inches wider on each side of the seat form as well. Used standard quilting batting that you can purchase at your local fabric store or Wal-Mart. Next, lay the seat form on top of the foam. I used 1″ foam. Trim the foam so that it is at least ¼” wider than the seat form on all sides. This makes for a more comfortable seat edge on your legs and thighs. To begin securing all the layers of the seat together, you can either dry stack each layer, or use a little spray adhesive between the layers. I did not use spray adhesive for this project. The batting is the bottom layer, then the foam cushion, and then the wood seat form. Pull the edge of the batting up and over the side of the cushion and seat form and using a staple gun, staple the batting onto the seat form starting from the middle of one side and working out to the edges. Staple one side of the seat at a time, and then do its opposite side next. Lastly, fold the batting into the edges for taught corners and staple down the excess. TIP: Use staples with pointed tips, not blunt tips; this makes it easier to get the staples all the way into the wood without resulting to hammering each staple down later.

Once all sides of the batting are stapled to the under side of the wood seat form, place the fabric face down on your work surface and then place the seat cushion on top with the stapled side up. Line up the fabric edges and/or pattern and follow the same process as with the batting, stapling from the middle of one side, working out to the edges, and then stapling the opposite side next. Fold in the corners for the desired look you want on your edges and staple down the excess fabric. For this project, I used oilcloth (aka laminated cotton), so my fabric did not easily bunch at the corners; I opted for making “hospital bed” corners to get a crisp, clean fold. Trim the fabric edges to within an inch of the staples to get a straight line, and then trim away the excess batting sticking out beyond the edge of the fabric cover.

Flip over your chair cushion and admire your work! This easy, DIY Chair Cushion Recovering project can be completed in an afternoon and is one of the first projects since my daughter’s birth that I have started and finished within 24 hours! Recovering simple chairs like these yourself really helps save money; leave the complicated re-upholstery jobs to the professionals and save your money for then!

The total costs for this project to recover four chair cushions were:

Oilcloth Fabric in Purple French Lace: purchased on, 2 yards for $22.15 (inc. shipping)

Chair Cushion Foam: purchased at Wal-Mart, 2 packs of 2 for $7.94 each

Quilt Batting: purchased at Wal-Mart, 1 roll of 81″x96″ for $6.81

Tools: already owned all necessary tools

Total money spent: $45

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

DIY Shimmering Easter Eggs – Pottery Barn Inspired

Newly wed and PCS’ing often the last few years resulted in several of our prized possessions living permanently in storage. Included among the towering boxes are all of my treasured Easter decorations that I have saved from my childhood. Baskets, figurines, music boxes, snow globes and a huge porcelain Easter Rabbit with basket. Because I already own these decorations, I am always hesitant to buy anything to fill in the gaps around my home during the Easter holidays.

However, it is very difficult to pass up a good Pottery Barn sale (with free shipping which makes a HUGE difference when you currently reside in Hawaii!). Last spring, post-Easter, I purchased various sizes of shimmering, pastel, Easter eggs of papier-mâché. They perfectly fill my three-tiered server. I’d love to have more throughout the house, but the sticker-shock is prohibitive!

I purchased on Amazon some papier-mâché craft eggs last spring, but I found myself preoccupied with making outfits and memories with my newborn. So, the eggs have sat unattended in my art drawer for the past year. Rather than paint elaborate decorations on the eggs, as was my intention, I decided to use the Pottery Barn shimmering Easter eggs as inspiration for decorating my plain craft eggs.

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Pottery Barn Shimmering Easter Eggs


Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

DIY Pottery Barn Hack

For this project, you will need the following supplies:

1) papier-mâché craft eggs

2) Paint brushes

3) Wax Paper

4) Empty egg cartons (preferably plastic)

5) Toothpicks

6) Sewing needle

7) Acrylic paints: white, and assorted colors, and interference gold (fine)

8) Optional: glass jars with lids (Gerber work well)

The steps are very simple. First, prep your work space. Put wax paper down on your work surface; this protects your counters and prevents the painted eggs from sticking to the counter. Poke holes in the high points of your egg cartons. Using the sewing needle, poke a single hole in the bottom (or other site of your choosing) of each papier-mâché egg. Insert a toothpick into the hole at the bottom of each egg, and holding the toothpick end, paint each egg with a single coat of white acrylic. This acts as the primer. I opted to do a second coat of white paint after the first coat dried, about thirty minutes later. Set each painted egg into a hole in the egg carton; be sure to space the eggs out so that their sides do not touch and damage the paint job. TIP: plan on drying 6 eggs per 12-egg-carton; this gives you adequate spacing. Also, plastic cartons are preferable to the paper kind because the paper can stick to the painted eggs.

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Papier-Mâché Craft Easter Eggs

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

White acrylic paint for priming

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Two-coat primed eggs

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Poke hole in each egg

Allow each coat of primer or paint to dry completely. Check the label on your paint for the dry time, but usually it should take about 30 minutes between coats. You will do two color coats. Use prepared colors or mix your own! If you do mix and customize your own colors, keep in mind that you have dry time between coats; mix customized paints in bulk and store in air-tight containers (Gerber glass jars work very well!). Paint each coat and dry the eggs on the cartons.

Craft Easter Eggs DIYPottery Barn inspired

Primed eggs drying in carton

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Two coats of paint per egg

Once the last coat of colored paint has dried on the egg, it is time to apply the interference gold (fine) coat(s). Apply each coat very thinly, being sure to spread out the gold paint evenly across the egg. If you want more of a shimmer effect, apply a second, thin coat of gold. TIP: If you apply gold to white colored eggs, 3-4 coats of gold paint has a nice effect. Allow the eggs to dry and then store in a carton or set them about in your home decor and enjoy!

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

Shimmering Papier-Mâché eggs

Craft Easter Eggs DIY Pottery Barn inspired

There are several options for displaying the eggs. You can arrange them in bowls or glass vases as filler, or place them around candle bases, plates, and cake stands. Glue them to picture frames, set atop candlesticks, or glue magnets on them to hold prized photos and artwork on your refrigerator. You can string them up on fishing line or clear crafting wire and use as garland or upon a wreath. TIP: if you plan on preserving these for years to come, especially if they will be used on a wreath outdoors, seal them with a non-yellowing poly or shellac coat(s).

How do you use Easter eggs to decorate your home?

This post contains amazon affiliate links; click here to read my disclosureYou can purchase craft eggs from several Amazon sellers: