Gift Idea, Sponsored

The holidays are upon us

It’s officially the best time of the year — yes, it’s time for the winter holidays! I have a confession: I already have a handful of Christmas gifts WRAPPED! Am I a crazy person, or what?

Brian and I get so excited for the holiday season. He keeps asking if it’s too soon to decorate, which I find charming. I’ve promised lights before Thanksgiving. Call me crazy, or call me festive — but when it comes to Christmas, the Smiths do not mess around. It’s just how I was raised (thanks, mom!) and I’m glad my man has adopted the crazy.

I’m always on the lookout for awesome gifts for my loved ones and this year I’ve been perusing the endless options over at UncommonGoods. Have you all heard of them? They sell all sorts of stuff and they have a neat feature where they list out gift ideas for different occasions, ages, etc. Really helpful for people who are gift-giving challenged. Need a housewarming gift? Check! A unique gift for a wedding? Check! (Come to think of it, I do need a good gift for my bestie and her hubby-to-be!) Christmas present? You betcha.

What’s even cooler than their ability to make anyone a gift-giving genius is the fact that they incorporate sustainability and social responsibility into all business decisions. As a tree lover and a human being, I really admire that in a company. They also share information about the artists on many of their products, something I also appreciate as a budding design student.

Here are a few things I have my eye on:

Fire Escape Shelf:


I’ve been in Baltimore a lot lately for class, and I love walking past this one set of buildings and admiring the geometric pattern the fire escapes make. I think this shelf would be the perfect way to bring some city pizzaz to my suburban home. It is going on my Christmas wish list for sure. This would make such a cute housewarming gift, too, don’t you think?

Embroidered State Pillows:


Every time I see one of these state pillows I get huge pillow envy. What? You didn’t know pillow envy was a thing? How could you not want one of these beautifully embroidered pillows to represent your home state? I’ve seen these Maryland pillows in Annapolis and I basically start drooling. Both of my sisters need Maryland pillows to remind them of home — how sweet of a Christmas gift would that be? And, ahem, Santa… I would like one of these, too. #justsaying

Santa is probably miffed because I keep sharing ideas for me. My bad, Santa — I swear I’m really looking for other people!

Better Stuff Doormat:


It seems like everyone I know is either moving, hoping to move or has just moved, so I have a slew of people in my life that this would be a hilarious gift for. I would crack up if I walked up to a friend’s house and saw this doormat. I bet the mailman and UPS guy would get a good laugh, too.

Personalized Tree Trunk Glassware Duo:


I said I needed a gift for my best friend and her man, didn’t I? Wouldn’t this be a sweet wedding gift, especially if you know a couple that doesn’t share the same beverage interests? It’s nice that they could receive a matching, non-matching set. I love that you can have it personalized, too. I may or may not be a sucker for personalization (Spoiler alert: I am).

Tree Trunk Vase:


Sticking with the tree theme for a couple’s gift — how charming is this vase?!? I’m not sure which I love more, the glasses or the vase? Maybe Dana and Phillip need both 🙂 One as a wedding gift and the other as a First Christmas Living Together gift. … that’s a thing, right?

Enough about my growing list of Christmas gifts to buy people — what are some of your favorite gifts that you’ve ever given? I think my favorites are tied: family recipe book & illustration of Remmy, our golden retriever.

Do you ever look on UncommonGoods? What have you been wowed by? Be careful if you start to browse — they have so much neat stuff it will suck you in. But hey, there are worse things 😉

This post was sponsored by UncommonGoods. All opinions are my own.


Bridal Shower Gift: Kitchen Towel Cake


While pinning the heck out of some awesome fall bridal shower ideas I stumbled across a cute idea to do a version of a Diaper Cake with kitchen towels and other utensil. If you want to see the original, here was my inspiration.

I went to Home Goods, Target and Amazon for my supplies:

  • Normal dish towels
  • Microfiber dish towels
  • Scrubby dish towels
  • An apron
  • Cloth napkins
  • A pie plate
  • An oven mitt
  • Wooden spoons
  • Measuring spoons

I bought what I thought I needed, returned the extra sets I didn’t use, and gifted Dana a bag for the odds and ends that didn’t work. Depending on the size you’d like your cake to be or the size of your pie plate (which the cake sits in), you’ll need varying amounts of each.

I started on the bottom layer and wrapped up the largest, “normal” towels. Then, I tied them together with some twine. When that was secure, I folded the apron, which had beautiful fall colors throughout, and wrapped that around the towels to beef up the bottom layer. I knew I wanted the oven mitts on the bottom layer, so I took twine and tied it around the apron and the oven mitts to keep the entire bottom layer together. Then, I broke a plastic hanger and stuck it in the middle so the remaining two layers would have support when I needed to move the cake around.


I probably should have added more towels to the bottom layer since there was such a gap between the edge of the pie plate and the bottom, but the cake was already so full of towels. I ran back out to Home Goods and picked up a set of burnt orange cloth napkins, rolled them up and stuck then around the base of the cake.


For the second and third layers, I went through the same process. Choose towels, roll towels, secure with twine. I stuck each layer onto the hanger to make sure the sizing was appropriate. Then, I took the top layer off and added the wooden spoons into the second tier of the cake. I simply stuck them into the folds of towels, then angled and shoved until they were secure and looked right. I did the same thing for the measuring spoons, too.


Once I was satisfied with layer 2, I added the top layer. I did redo the layers three or four times until I thought they looked right, so don’t get discouraged if your towels don’t look amazing on the first go around.


Pretty cute, huh? All I needed was ribbon to cover the twine and the cake toppers 🙂

For cake toppers, I ordered this adorable set of pumpkin salt and pepper shakers from Amazon. They barely fit on the top of the cake, so I was glad I went with this set instead of other sets that had two of the stumpier pumpkins. To make sure they didn’t fall off, I removed the stoppers (put them in a baggie or you’ll lose them!) and stuck each shaker on a skewer I’d shoved into a fold of the top tier.


I love love love this as a gift for a shower — especially for a bride who is a baker-chocolatier-chef extraordinaire like Dana is. It was a lot of fun to make.


It certainly is charming, isn’t it?

What clever gifts have you made for a bride-to-be? There are so many cute ideas out there!

Christmas, Craft Projects, DIY GIFT GUIDE, Gift Idea, Holiday, Pallet Projects, Quick and Easy Crafts

Wood Burning and Wooden Ornaments

My last holiday craft involving pallet wood also involved a new skill — wood burning!! I’d never successfully tried wood burning before, but I figured out what I’d been doing wrong and had a blast playing around with the new technique.

Before I got into the wood burning, I simply was making trees from the pallet wood. The first I made was a gift for my secret santa at work:


I cut out the tree using my jigsaw, sanded it down, added a hole for the ribbon and colored the wood using the restor-a-finish product I always rave about. Cute, yes? My coworker loved it. I also gave him a Home Depot gift card — he and I love to chat about our ongoing projects. He’s my Home Depot buddy!

I made a similar tree for my godmother, but to girl it up a bit I painted gold dots all over it to look like ornaments.

Then I moved on to some simple wood burned ornaments. I tried it out on some scrap wood first:

Scrap Burning

After doing some research online, I learned that you can use a soldering iron as a wood burning tool. The only downside is the lack of interchangeable tips. I’d tried this before, but it turns out I didn’t let my iron get hot enough. This time I let it fully warm up — and that did the trick.

Once I’d tested it out on a few pieces of scrap wood, I started to make gifts for people. An “E” for the neighbors, an “S” for my mother-in-law and an “M” and “E” for Max and Eli, my friend’s sons.

Wood Burned LEtters

Let me back track for a sec — all of these are from scrap wood, which I liked a lot because pretty much none of my pallet went to waste. I sanded everything down before burning it.

OK, back to the burning… once I got designs I liked, I added holes for ribbon or wire. Some I stained, some I left natural.


My buddy Maz really liked his little “M.” OK, he obviously couldn’t care less about it… I just wanted to share our selfie 🙂

The letters I did were fairly easy (Minus the “S”) because they were all straight lines. Since my soldering iron was a longer flat tip, that was the only shape I could do. Lots of dashes, exes and straight lines.

I got the idea to use those shapes to make wood-burned Christmas tree ornaments. These were my favorite.

Small Tree

Large Tree

If you smell them, they smell like campfire! LOVE.

I gave my sister and her BF the larger ornament with the star. The other I selfishly kept for us. I added a lumberjack-esque ribbon to it, too.


How adorable is that? It it cost me $0! The wood was scrap, the wire I add and the ribbon came off of a gift 🙂

Tree_Ribbon_On Tree

I love to make Christmas gifts and I think these were some of my favorites that I made this year.