Last Minute Printable DIY Gift Guide

It's incredible to think that it is only two days until Christmas. There is so much going on during the holiday season that some tasks inevitably slip my mind. If you're like me, and are without a gift for someone who actually means a lot to you, then I hope some of these instant, printable gifts will help you when you're in a pinch. Some of these gifts can be very personal, and customized to the recipients tastes. At the end of the post is small selection of printable gift tags as well (because I forgot to buy those, too, this year!)

Romantic Gifts

by Ashley Pahl

A great gift for your significant other, no matter how long you've been together. You can make it as simple as "breakfast in bed", to as elaborate as "an Alaskan cruise on your birthday this year". A printable box template is also included to make gifting easier.

When you're looking to keep the romance alive, these printable date night cards are a fun idea for couples. Both blank and pre-filled date night cards are included, so you can tailor this box of date night ideas to your own tastes. A box template is also included with this kit.

A sweet reminder of your affection, this printable can be printed in multiple sizes, and placed in your favorite picture frame. 

Gifts From Kids to Parents

These printable coupon with envelope are the perfect way for kids to give their parents something unique. I helped my daughters make these coupons as a special gift for their daddy, filling out each card with something they love to do together - hiking, playing dodge ball, etc. Never discount the gift of time!

This is a darling gift for younger children to make for their dads. It's so sweet to interview the kids and see Dad from their perspective. You might even choose to print one each year, and see how their perspective changes as they grow.

Gifts for Children

These printable bookmarks come in two colors, green and blue, and feature watercolor painted woodland animals: an owl, bear, deer, fox, and robin. These bookmarks are a fabulous accessory if you are gifting a book, but also make great stocking stuffers. 

This phases of the moon printable makes great nursery or bedroom decor, but it's also a fantastic way for children to learn about the lunar cycle. It will be rewarding when they see the night sky and can tell you what phase of the moon they see.

If you know a kid who loves looking down at the earth, instead of up at the night sky, they might enjoy this insect i.d. field guide poster. Multiple sizes are included so it can fit into almost any room. 

Another great gift idea for kids who love the outdoors: help them discover who has been treading through their backyard with an animal track i.d. guide. 

Another gift for the readers in your life, these colorful "Books are magic" printable bookmarks help to make reading a little more fun!

Gifts for Friends

This is a printable of my original watercolor painting of a white pine tree. This printable also comes in multiple sizes, and can look good on a gallery wall, in an office, or in a rustic living room. I like to pair it with

I love this print for the gardener in your life, or someone with a sunny disposition. Multiple sizes included.

Or maybe you know someone who can't get enough tea. If you didn't get a chance to buy their favorite blend, this print is the next best thing.

Gift Wrap

My First Pumpkin Carving Template

Photo by Marina Winther from The Etsy Blog
Do you carve pumpkins for Halloween? I have to admit, I don't usually do anything too exciting. We usually draw a face with pencil on the pumpkin - two triangle eyes, a triangle nose, and a big open mouth with a few teeth. I've never used a template.

A few weeks ago, Etsy contacted me with the opportunity to create a pumpkin carving template for their blog. It was an interesting prospect - could my paper cut card designs translate to a pumpkin? I came up with about 10 designs, and the favorite made it onto the Etsy Blog this week as a free, downloadable template. If you don't know my work, I'm the "BOO" design!

The blog post features easy to follow instructions if you're new to carving pumpkins with templates. I know I'll be using these templates myself this year. I think my girls will really love Leah Goren's cat design, and Bryce Wymer's design will be a challenge for me, but I'm looking forward to giving it a try! Head on over to download all three templates.

DIY Nature-Made Watercolor Paints

Editor's note: I originally wrote this as a guest post for Skip To My Lou, and I wanted to share it with you here before summer comes to a close. If you give this project a try, please let me know how it turned out for you! Use #SheMakesAHome on social media.

My girls and I love painting. I know, it's so much easier to just buy a Crayola paint palette, but this project is really more about the process than the end result.

The mission in my creative career is to connect art with nature. Children can especially benefit from this as they are just beginning to explore the world. This project contains three educational elements: art, science, and nature. You can adjust the depth of these questions depending on the age of your kid(s); even toddlers can learn from this by simplifying the questions.

  1. Art: explore pigments with your child. Go online together to find out how historically, artists have made their own paints. Which artists preferred which type of paints, and what were they made from? When you are done with this project, observe how your own homemade paints dry. Have any of the paints changed color?
  2. Science: Why do different plants have different coloring? What creates the different colors in plants?Why don't blueberries stay blue? How is it that eyes perceive color?
  3. Nature: After you go on your hunt for plants (or take your plants from the fridge or freezer), how many natural colors could you find? How many shades of each color are there? After painting, are the colors on the paper as you expected? Were there any surprises? Which plant created your favorite paint color? Which plant had the most dull color? Which plants were the most difficult to extract color from?

Ready to get started? You will need:

  • 5 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 6 Tablespoons corn starch
  • 6 Tablespoons baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons corn syrup
  • an assortment of plant material, from flowers to berries, tomatoes, citrus, leafy greens, beets, carrots, etc. Collect items for nature, or use what you have in your fridge, pantry, or freezer
  • a juicer; alternatively, a masher and/or fine grater; muslin cloth or a very fine sieve
  • a paint palette, ice cube tray, or clean egg carton
  • glass mixing bowl


Mix vinegar, baking soda, corn starch, and corn syrup together in a small bowl. I used to glass measuring cup to create easy pouring through its spout. Whisk the ingredients until lump-free and smooth. Pour into your paint palette compartments until they are half full; or, if using an ice cube tray, fill each “cube” with about a tablespoon of the mixture.

Now you can extract the juice from the plants. You will want undiluted liquid from these plants, and as little plant material as possible. If you have a juicer, you are in luck! Juice each type of plant separately. If you do not have a juicer (I don't), follow these steps:

Mash the plants or fruits with a fork, immersion blender, or potato masher for plants such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, black berries, tomatoes, etc. This will work for any juicy plant with a thin skin. Transfer the smashed material into a muslin cloth and squeeze juice through it like a filter. Allow juice to collect in a small container. Alternatively, you can use a fine sieve like those used for steeping tea or a reusable coffee filter.

Root vegetables such as carrots and beets require a different approach. Use a fine grater to create a mound of mushy root material. Grated root material can have its juice squeezed through muslin cloth or pushed through a fine sieve with a blunt object, such as the end handle of a wooden spoon or a beater (as pictured). I achieved great success with carrots this way, mashing them through the mesh in a mortar/pestle-style motion.

Leafy materials were the easiest for me. Spinach, tree leaves, and flower petals can be ripped up slightly, and firmly squeezed and massaged in a muslin cloth until the juice drips through the cloth and into a container. If using a fine sieve or filter, a wooden spoon handle will work wonders.

After all of your plants are juiced, add 1/4 of a teaspoon or less of the juice to each of your partially-filled palette trays. Stir the juice well into the corn starch mixture. Allow to dry completely, up to two days. My mixture took the full two days to dry, but it depends on the humidity in your area. Being made from natural juices, these paints should only keep for 1-2 weeks, refrigerated.

You don't have to let leftover juices go to waste! You can paint with the pure juice immediately. Just dip in a wet paint brush and get started.

I hope you enjoy this project. While it can be a bit labor intensive, it really is all about the process and learning together.

Visiting the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on the MSU Campus

Before the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum opened on Michigan State University's campus in East Lansing, MI, I couldn't say that I cared much for contemporary art. I have been interested in modern art since my teenage years, but contemporary art never caught my attention until 2013.

Through the frequent changes in exhibition at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, I have grown to appreciate contemporary art; it has taught me to value the new ideas and commentary artists are presenting through their work, as it challenges me to see the world through a different prism.

Via the Broad Art Museum website:

" the Broad MSU is a contemporary museum devoted to the exploration and exhibition of significant art from around the globe. This international focus is also supported by the contextualizing of contemporary art within the history of art by virtue of our historical collection. The Broad MSU is a place where artists’ ideas, words, and actions create a vibrant center for questioning and understanding the modern world."

The outside of this museum alone is worth seeing. The architecture is completely unique on MSU's campus. While some people feel the building is an eyesore that doesn't blend in with the campus, I welcome the refreshing change in scenery. The museum is right on Grand River Avenue and can't be missed.

Perhaps one of my favorite aspects of this building is that it seems to change shape and form depending on which direction you are coming from, or where you are standing.

This cultural gem in Mid-Michigan is free to visitors, and if you (like me) have children, there are monthly family days on Saturdays so that you can experience it with them. My girls have tagged along on a couple of these events, and there is plenty for the kids to do and keep them interested in the experience.

A Parade of Peacocks at the Potter Park Zoo

Over the weekend we visited the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI. One of my favorite things about this zoo is abundance of peafowl they have roaming the park. They're absolutely everywhere! We were treated to gorgeous peacocks giving us a full show of their feathers; albino peacocks; and lovely peahens. If you ever get the chance to visit this zoo in Michigan's capitol, make sure to bring your camera.

Watercolor Lilacs + More Floral Art

How about some fresh, spring colors to brighten up your winter day?

Lilacs are one of my favorite blooms. I have two lilac bushes in my backyard, and I just planted a third. When I started painting with watercolors again, the lilac bloom was my first muse.

From my backyard:

I ended up making a series of watercolor flowers. It started with a commission by my sister, who wanted some purple and gray flowers for her house. I already had the lilacs done, so I added allium and a dandelion puff into the mix:

Are you looking for some watercolor art for your own walls? The allium print and the dandelion print are available in my Society6 shop now!

Every Day, You Inspire People You Have Never Met

It isn't very often that an unexpected package arrives on my doorstep. I had just ordered my 2015 World's Most Super-Amazing 100% Awesome Cat Calendar, but I wasn't expecting it to arrive so quickly. When I opened the package, I fully expected a black cat in a felt fish costume to be staring back at me; instead, I pulled out a large, shiny print that read, "Every day, you inspire people you have never met" and at the bottom: "Love, Etsy."

Love, Etsy? Etsy sent me a gift? A large, gold foil and letterpress poster is not inexpensive! After opening the packaging, I discovered two post cards: a thank you card, and a miniature version of the poster.

As it turns out, the poster and thank you note were for my contribution to the Etsy blog in 2014: "6 Tips for Beating Burnout". The second post card was blank, and I am encouraged now to pass on this message of inspiration to someone else in the Etsy community.

It got me thinking again about how much we might feel inspired by people, but for one reason or another, never let them know. Maybe I shouldn't say "we". Maybe other people are a lot more vocal about their feelings than I am. Every day I have opportunities to tell people how I admire them: their work; their accomplishments; their positive attitude; their amazing cooking skills, or their beautiful home. It certainly made a difference in my day to feel appreciated - it is definitely time to pass this sentiment on.

Now it is time for me to decide who to mail this lovely post card to. In the meantime, I challenge you to think about who inspires you, and what you could do to let them know that they are admired. 

Rose Petal Solid Shampoo Bars

There is something very alluring about rose petals - that was the inspiration behind this DIY. Solid shampoo bars are an interesting alternative to gift-giving handmade soaps. They're unexpected, very useful, and can be customized to fit the tastes of each individual.

What you'll need:
  • Solid shampoo melt and pour base - this one is from Stephenson Personal Care
  • ¼ cup dried organic rose petals
  • A microwave-safe bowl
  • A rubber or silicone spatula
  • Soap molds- I used a mini muffin non-stick tin to get this shape
  • Optional: 2-3 tablespoons of dried rosemary - rosemary variation instructions at end of post


Start with 8 ounces of solid shampoo base (half a 1 lb package). Cut into smaller, cubed chunks. You may rip your rose petals into smaller pieces, if you wish.

Microwave your shampoo base in 30 second intervals until it is completely melted, stirring well each time. Once it is melted, add rose petals. Stir to incorporate, and pour into soap molds.

Tip: lightly spray soap with rubbing alcohol after you pour it into the mold to get rid of the air bubbles. Bubbles are a cosmetic issue, so doing this is optional.

You can sprinkle a few rose petals to the exposed melted mixture before it solidifies, just to add extra beauty to your shampoo bars.

Let sit for 2-3 hours, until the shampoo is completely solidified. If you used a muffin tin like I did, you can pop the tray in the freezer for ~10 minutes, which can help the bars come out of the tray.

 Package as soon as possible. Ideas include saran wrap; kraft packaging paper; gift wrap; muslin drawstring bags; etc.

In this post I used tea-dyed cloth bags to package these lovely shampoo bars.

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