52 Reasons Why I Love You DIY

Front Cover for 52 Reasons I Love You DIY

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I know a lot of you out there are probably searching for gifts for your boyfriend/husband or girlfriend/wife.  I always say this, but I think homemade gifts are such a wonderful way to express your love for someone.  So much thought, energy, and love goes into the gift that that’s almost a gift on its own!

I had come across the 52 Reasons Why I Love You DIY a while ago, and knew I wanted to make it at some point for a special occasion.  After pinning it, I was a little intimidated by the DIY… I’m what I like to call an “uncrafty crafter.”  This project looked slightly beyond my capabilities, so I passed on it more than a few times.

Finally, last year for Valentine’s Day I decided to take on the challenge and make it for Daniel.  This DIY is all over Pinterest and everyone has their own take on it.  After looking at a bunch of examples, I knew how I was going personalize it for Daniel and myself.  And now I’d like to share it with you all, so here’s my DIY of the 52 Reasons Why I Love You gift! Read more »

A Very Pinteresty Holiday Party

Happy New Year!  I hope you all had a fantastic New Year’s Eve, I’d love to hear how everyone celebrated!  Daniel and I procrastinated, so we ended up just going out for dinner and then watching New Year’s Eve specials while drinking champagne at home.  Even though it was pretty low key, it was one of my favorites thus far!  We realized we had never spent New Year’s in our home!  It was fun to experience something new, and it was also our first New Year’s Eve in Portland!

Now that the holidays are over, I can finally catch my breath and start blogging about everything we did.  If you read my post about holiday party ideas, you know that pretty much all inspiration came from Pinterest.  And now I want to share my results with you!

Christmas Tree Cheese Platter



Let’s start with food, shall we?  You may remember that I wanted the food to act as the decorations, and I had quite a few examples of festive cheese platters.

You can see I chose to do a combination of all of the examples I found, and did a mixture of salami, cheese, and grapes.  I thought it was pretty cute, and a very quick and easy appetizer to whip up before a party.

Another Christmas-y food I wanted to replicate were these cookie cutter pizzas.  They were adorable, and were a big hit with my guests!  I will say they were a little difficult to work with because they were so small.  If you can find bigger cookie cutters, I think it would be a bit easier.

Cookie Cutter Christmas Pizzas

Because the pizzas were a little hard to make, they took a bit longer than we had planned.  Luckily, we had a backup plan and made one full sized pizza… in the shape of a candy cane!  Equally as delicious and adorable!

Christmas Pizza

Melted Snowmen Gngerbread Cookies

For dessert I made melted snowmen cookies, and they turned out beautifully!  You can find the gingerbread cookie recipe and what I changed on my previous blog post.  The only suggestion I made that I hadn’t tried out at the time was replacing white sugar with brown sugar.  I made that adjustment for the party, but I didn’t notice much of a difference in taste, so you can really use whichever you prefer.

I made a simple royal icing with powdered sugar and a little bit of milk.  I definitely recommend making sure the icing is on the thick side for optimum results.  You can see 3 of the cookies have better coverage, whereas the one in the back is a little see through.  Merely an artistic suggestion, as they were all tasty no matter how the icing looked!

Here are a few more pictures!

Melted Snowmen Cookies

Gingerbread Snowmen Cookies

Before placing the marshmallows on the cookies, we microwaved them for a few seconds to give them a more melty look.  And we used colored gel icing from the baking section at the supermarket for their faces and bodies.  Pretty good for our first try, don’t you think?

Christmas Champagne

If you stumbled on my holiday party ideas board on Pinterest, you may have seen a champagne drink that gained a lot of repins.  So many repins that there was no way I couldn’t try it out at our party!

A very simple drink that had so much wow factor!  I found green colored sugar at the grocery store, which I used to rim the champagne flutes.  I bought pomegranate seeds already deseeded to save on time, put those in the bottom of the glass, filled with champagne – boom, done!  They were seriously too pretty to drink (almost)!

Hot Chocolate Stirring Sticks

I also made party favors for my guests, which sadly I forgot to hand out!  Word of advice:  keep party favors in a prominent place, and near the front door!  Then you won’t have to sheepishly hand them out after like I do.

Other than forgetting to give them out, I was very happy with my results.  Very easy and quick to do!  Because I could only find large candy canes, I used two marshmallows for each (most examples I saw only used one).  Then I just dipped them in melted chocolate and coated them in crushed peppermint candies.

I found these super cute snowmen bags at the Dollar Tree store, and put a hot chocolate stirring stick with a packet of hot chocolate in each bag.  A very nice gesture that doesn’t require a lot of time or expense!

Snowmen Party Favor Bags

White Elephant DIY Present

I also made a white elephant gift, which I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  All I did was Sharpie instructions onto the mugs and baked it in the oven.  I had a hard time getting the Sharpie to come out as dark as the original, but perhaps my pen was just running out of ink.  It was also a little difficult to find dessert in a cup recipes that had good reviews, but I finally found these that seemed to be the best (leave me a comment if anyone wants the recipes!).

Tip:  Apparently people have a lot of trouble getting the Sharpie to actually stay on the mug after normal use and washing.  A few suggestions I found were to increase your oven temperature to 425 and bake for 30 minutes, do not preheat your oven first, and allow the mugs to cool completely in the oven after they’re done baking.  I rubbed the writing pretty hard afterwards, and it seemed like it was on there permanently!

Wine Glass Holiday Table Display

Last but not least, I had shared a holiday decoration with you all and this is how it turned out!  I already had the wine glasses, we saved trimmings from our tree, and I bought the ornaments and candles from the Dollar Tree store.  For a very elegant looking decoration, it only cost $2 and was super easy to setup!

We also used it for our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebrations as well.

Here are a few pictures of our coffee table and main table displays!

Holiday Party Coffee Table Display

Coffee Table Holiday Party Display

Holiday Party Main Table Display

Daniel & Michele After the Holiday PartyLooking back on it now, I probably took on a little too much, especially since it was my first time hosting a party.  But despite a few moments of stress, everything turned out great!  We had blast and so did our guests, so I’d say our first holiday party was a success!

Christmas Gift Wrapping Ideas & Inspiration

I can’t believe Christmas is only a week away!  If feels like everything having to do with the holiday has been a scramble this year, and wrapping presents is no different.  I’ve mentioned before that I love to make gift wrap just as meaningful as the gift I’m giving, so I always put in a lot of time and energy when it comes to wrapping.  I usually find most of my ideas and inspiration on Pinterest (surprise, surprise), which you can see on my board.  There isn’t an extreme about of pins, so here are some examples of presents I’ve wrapped in the past.  Enjoy!

Musical Christmas Gift Wrap

I sometimes like to hint at what could be inside the wrapping, and this present was a CD!  All I did was print out free sheet music of Jingle Bells onto some pretty resume paper I had, then I attached a few small bells to ribbon and tied a bow.  This was one of my favorite wrapping ideas, and I loved how it came out!  You can usually find bells at any craft store, especially during the holidays.

Daniel and I have always loved Disneyland ever since we began dating, and we ended up gravitating towards Minnie and Mickey (as most couples do).  I usually like to throw in something of them when I’m wrapping gifts for Daniel.  I found this brown gift bag at Target and wanted to make it a bit more personal.  So I found this super cute photo of Minnie and Mickey, printed it out on cardstock and made a gift tag!

Minnie and Mickey Mouse Christmas Gift Tag

Disney Christmas Gift Tag

Another year I used the same photo as the main event!

Disney Christmas Wrapping Ideas

Penguin Christmas Wrapping

I often reuse wrapping from packages, such as brown paper from Amazon shipments.  This penguin tissue paper came in a pair of shoes Daniel bought from Penguin clothing company.  I thought it was way too adorable to throw out, and it ended up being the perfect size for a small gift I had!

Sometimes all you need is a variety of ribbons and bows to make standout gift wrapping.  I especially like this basket weave technique because of how clean and modern it looks.

Basket Weave Christmas Ribbon

I made this big bow with some wrapping paper scraps!

DIY Gift Bow

Here are a few more examples of things you can do with ribbons and bows!

Christmas Wrapping Ideas

Blue Christmas Wrapping

Blue Christmas Wrapping

Ideas for Christmas Wrapping

I found this fun plaid wrapping paper at a 99 cent store!  I’ve often found great wrapping and trimmings at discount stores, and Daniel and I always take a trip to Target after Christmas.  The sales can be amazing, we’ve found things as low as 60 cents!  It’s a great way to stock up for next year!

Gift Wrapping Ideas for Christmas

Red Ribbon and Brown Paper Christmas Wrapping

Sometimes I like to choose a theme when wrapping, you can see here I chose brown paper and red ribbon as my theme.  This gave a very nice elegance to my presents, and I thought it could work for both men and women.

I also like to play with different color combinations.  I did green on green here!

Green on Green Christmas Wrapping

I was going for more masculine colors when I did this brown and gold combination.

Brown and Gold Christmas Wrapping

At some point during our relationship, coloring books became a “thing” for us.  One year I was giving Daniel a gift certificate, but I wanted to present it in a meaningful way.  So I decided to make my own envelope using a coloring book page (featuring Minnie and Mickey, of course)!  I used this template and it turned out great, take a look!

DIY Coloring Book Envelope

This would also be great for homemade cards!

Disney Coloring Book Envelope

Well, I’m happy to say that I only have a few gifts left to wrap, and I will hopefully be done before the weekend!  I hope all of you out there are finding time to relax amidst the holiday rush, and hopefully this helped you find some gift wrapping ideas and inspiration!

Places We’ve Been DIY Christmas Gift

I’m sure many of you saw my original post for this project, but I wanted to re-share it with you all, because it would make a great DIY Christmas gift for your girlfriend/boyfriend or wife/husband.  It’s easy, quick, and inexpensive!  But it has so much meaning behind it, I know anyone would love to receive it.  I know Daniel did!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 pieces of Matboard, both at least 12×12 inches
  • Mod Podge (or any glue you prefer)
  • Sharp scissors
  • A heart stencil
  • 12 printed maps
  • 12×12 picture frame
  • Cardstock, or any thick paper (optional)

Obviously this project is all about the maps, so the first thing I did was figure out how I wanted them to look.  I did this DIY right before moving to Portland, so I was working on limited time and a small budget.  Because of that, I personally chose to use Google Maps and print them out at home.  I also chose to use Google Maps because I wanted to control the zoom of each map and what would be seen within the heart.  You could also use an Atlas, Thomas Guide, or look for old maps at a thrift store!

DIY Heart Maps

Because we were about to move from Los Angeles to a new home in Portland, I chose to include a map of the neighborhood we dearly loved but had to leave behind.  You can use any heart stencil you’d like – as for me, I didn’t have one (remember that whole uncrafty crafter thing?).  So I just searched for an image of a heart I liked and printed it out on cardstock, thus making my own stencil!

DIY Heart Maps

I stenciled and cut out each heart, and before I knew it, I had perfect little sentimental maps laid out before me.  This is the moment when I got really excited because I knew the project was going to turn out just as I had imagined it!  At the widest part of the heart it measured 2 1/2″, and from the top point to the bottom point it measured 2 3/4″.  This size worked perfectly for me based on 12 hearts and a 12×12 frame.  You’ll want to adjust the sizes depending on how many hearts you’re planning on using.

Next, I pasted each heart on a piece of matboard with Mod Podge and then cut out each heart again.  The reason I did this is because I wanted the hearts to have a 3D effect.  I used a pair of scissors to do this, and even though they were REALLY dull, it was still fairly easy to cut through the matboard.  With sharp scissors it should be a breeze, but use whatever cutting tool works best for you!

DIY Heart Maps

I tried to get fancy and penciled in a mathematical grid onto the matboard to try and ensure all the hearts would line up perfectly.  It…mostly worked.  The grid was totally wrong, but it still helped me eyeball them into the right placement!

I pasted each heart onto a 12×12 piece of matboard using Mod Podge (you will most likely have to cut your matboard down to size), and weighed it down with heavy books for about 48 hours to make sure the edges wouldn’t curl up.  As for placement, I arranged the maps mainly by how they looked, not by chronological order.  I didn’t want two mostly blue hearts next to each other, same with the green, I also wanted to make sure our neighborhood heart was kind of in the middle, and because a lot of the places we visited were in California and on the East Coast, I tried to vary those from each other as well.

DIY Heart MapsAfter that, all that was left was putting the finished project in a frame!  I really liked the idea of a white picture frame, since almost all the frames in our house are black.  Apparently white frames aren’t very popular.  I searched for a LONG time to find the perfect white 12×12 frame, and still didn’t have that many options.  In the end, I decided to go with this frame, and I am more than pleased with it.  It’s not the highest quality frame I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t look cheap and feels very sturdy.

So, here it is, my completed DIY Places We’ve Been Heart Maps!

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of mine and the original inspiration on Etsy.  What do you think?  I really loved how it turned out.  In total it only cost me about $20, easier on my wallet than $500!

DIY Heart Maps vs. Pinspiration

Bonus:  The Gift Wrap!

Anniversary Gift Wrapping

I love to make gift wrapping just as meaningful as the gift itself, and I thought I’d share what I did in case anyone is looking for some wrapping inspiration.

All I did was take brown packing paper (which came from an Amazon shipment), and with a black Sharpie wrote the lyrics from our song in cursive (in case you’re wondering, our song is “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley).  Simple as that!  This was originally a gift for our anniversary, which is why I chose to use lyrics from our song.  That could also work for Christmas since it’s a romantic gift and a romantic holiday, but you could also write Christmas lyrics to make it more festive.

There you have it!  I hope this tutorial gave you all inspiration to make your own DIY Christmas gift!

DIY T Shirt Frame Christmas Gift

DIY T Shirt Artwork

A few years ago, I was searching for Christmas gifts for Daniel, and I stumbled upon t shirt frames on Urban Outfitters’ website.  Daniel has quite the collection of graphic tees, like two stuffed drawers worth.  It just so happened that that very year he decided to weed out some of his shirts.

I noticed that a lot of the shirts he was going to get rid of he still really liked, but they had shrunk or otherwise become unwearable.  Well, you can imagine I was pretty excited!  This was the perfect gift to keep his favorite t shirts AND have really awesome artwork!  The only problem was that the t shirt frames at Urban Outfitters had really bad reviews.  In fact, any “t shirt” frame I found had poor ratings.

I was still determined to get this gift, and some of the reviews had mentioned the frames were just shadow boxes.  With that knowledge, I knew I could easily do this DIY t shirt frame Christmas gift!  I found great frames on Amazon – highly rated and not too expensive.  When they arrived, I was more than pleased!  They are very well made and look expensive.

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 black shadow box frames
  • 4 graphic t shirts
  • A pencil
  • Scissors

Here’s what you do:

T Shirt for DIY ArtworkThe frames come in cardboard boxes, so I recycled and used them to make the framework!  I simply used the glass from the frame as a template, and traced it onto the cardboard with a pencil.  I then cut it out with scissors, although you could also use an exacto knife for even quicker results.

I then positioned the cardboard over the part of the t shirt I wanted visible.

Tightly fold the shirt around the cardboard square.  You could secure the shirt with safety pins or masking tape, but I didn’t find that necessary.

Folded T Shirt for DIY Artwork

Place the folded shirt into the frame and replace the backing.  Not sure if you can tell in the picture, but the frames each come with four push pins.  I decided to leave them on, my reasoning was that it would provide more support for the folded t shirt.

T Shirt in Shadow Box

Repeat steps for each frame, and voila!

DIY Christmas Gift

DIY T Shirt Frame Artwork

Daniel Unwrapping T Shirt Frame ArtworkI LOVE how these turned out.  I chose to do four frames because I like how they looked together.  You could certainly do as many or as little as you want.  This was such a great gift for my creative, t shirt loving guy!  I know he was wondering why I wanted to keep his old shirts, I think he was pretty happy with the results!  🙂