DIY Neck Warmer – A Handmade Gift

It’s not too late to think about making some Handmade Gifts!  I made these DIY Neck Warmers in about an hour just this evening.  We all have that one person in our life who is constantly chilly or achy and a Neck Warmer is the perfect gift for that person.  There is nothing as soothing as a hot bag of rice on your shoulders… (Wait, what?) DIY Neck Warmer – A Handmade Gift. 

Alright, before you fly into a panic, yes, I sewed these.  No, I don’t have a sewing machine. Yes, it would be way easier if I had one.  They really are very easy to make, honestly, even if you can’t sew (like me) and even without a sewing machine. I made one out of a recycled sweater and one out of this really fun fabric I found at Michaels. All your giftee has to do is pop the neck warmer in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and they will be toasty warm for hour.  (Not a typo, it probably lasts about an hour.  It’s only rice after all).


Small Fabric Bundle by Loops & Thread – (Michael’s) OR The Arm of an old sweater

Yarn or Thread


2.5 lb bag of rice

  1.  If you are using the arm of a sweater, sew up the arm hole with the yarn.  If you are using the fabric, cut the fabric in half and then fold it in half, with the bad side facing out, then sew the three sides leaving an opening at the end so that you can fill it with rice.
  2. Fill either the sweater arm or the fabric bag with rice.  I split a 2.5 lb bag of rice about equally between the two. Don’t overfill the bag/sweater arm.  You want the rice to be able to spread out in the finished product. I strongly suggest getting some help for the rice filling part.  I used a funnel made out of paper and had my daughter hold the fabric bag while I poured the rice.  We only made a tiny mess.
  3. Sew up the open end of either the sweater arm of the fabric bag.  I added a little pom pom embellishment to the sweater one because the gray was pretty blah.  If you’re not sure how to make a pom pom, here are instructions (those are from the early days!).

And that is it!  If you are good on a sewing machine, you could bang out a bunch of these in a night.  The hardest part is filling it up with rice at the end.  And really, that’s not hard.  So, get on it!  Make something someone will love!

OR if you don’t want to make a DIY Neck Warmer, you have plenty of time to make a bunch of these for your last minute gifts from the heart:

I promise you can finish all of those crafts quickly and easily in one night.  And you can usually get all of the supplies from your craft store, except for the felted wool, I still have to buy that from Amazon.

Make someone something!

Gift Guide for Your Active Boy

Gift Guide for Your Active Boy

***This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and purchase something, I may earn a commission!***

I have a very active nine year old boy in this house and he needs to have as many opportunities for movement as we can possibly offer to him.  For the overall sanity of the family and the sake of our furniture we prefer that the running jumping and falling happens outside whenever possible.


Beginner Slackline by "Goodtimes" - 48' Long and 2" Wide ...

Beginner Slackline- $33.97

Anyone familiar with a slack line?  They are super cool.  You attach the line to two separate trees and it becomes sort of a bouncy balance beam.  About 4 inches off the ground.  Don’t go crazy.  No broken bones, please.

b4Adventure NinjaLine Intro Kit with Seven Hanging Obstac...

b4Adventure NinjaLine Intro Kit – $80.88

How cool is this?  This with the slack line above is the beginnings of an American Ninja Warrior course in your own backyard!

Disney Star Wars Boys Hooded Robe 4-16 (M (7/8)) Star Wars

Disney Star Wars Boys Hooded Robe – $37.98

When the active boys stop being active, they are usually very dirty.  Wrap them up in a super cool bathrobe after they’ve scoured the dirt off!

Hyper Toss Action Game Hyper Toss


Hyper Toss Action Game – $25.99

Hyper and toss.  Enough said.  It’s like a cross between twister and Simon.

Merax 14-Feet Round Trampoline with Safety Enclosure, Bas...:

14-Feet Round Trampoline with Safety Enclosure, Basketball Hoop and Ladder – $429

Ok, new spin on the backyard trampoline.  Add a basketball hoop and suddenly you have a house full of Jordans. Alesis Recital 88-Key Beginner Digital Piano with Full-Size Semi-Weighted Keys and Included Power Supply: Toys & Games:

88-Key Beginner Digital Piano – $209.99

For a little chill time after all that running around, a keyboard offers a lot of sensory involvement while sitting.  Finally. Xtreme Cycle Moto-Cam Red/Black: Toys & Games:

Xtreme Cycle Moto-Cam Red/Black – $72.77

Every kid loves a good remote control toy.  And this one comes with a ramp to up the fun factor.

The Wild Robot – $9.34

And when your boy is finally ready to rest his head, he’s probably going to need a good book to wind down with.

DIY Marbled Christmas Ornaments

***This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and purchase something, I may receive a commission!***    I’m into the whole handmade Christmas thing this year.  I made these wood burned ornaments a couple of weeks ago and this week it is some super cool DIY Marbled Christmas ornaments for the tree.  As you know, I have certain criteria for the crafts that I pick; they have to be useful as well as beautiful (at least to me!) and these tree ornaments fit both categories.  They might not be useful all year long, but they will decorate my tree for years to come!  And, of course, they offer my favorite part of crafting, the feeling you get from knowing you *made* something!


Pretty, right?  I have a vintage silver foil Christmas tree that I think these would be perfect for.

I love these because they are easy to make and it is very hard to mess them up.  You could mess them up by picking the wrong colors to marble them, but if you don’t like the colors, just rinse them before they dry and start fresh with a new color.


Nail Polish – I used a red-ish/pink and a pretty gold nail polish.  The cheap polish is better than the quick dry, expensive stuff!

Plastic Cups or other plastic vessel that you can dip the ornament in.  It should be something you don’t mind either throwing away or reserving only for craft use.  I wouldn’t use anything that might touch food after this project.

Clear Ornaments – I used mini ornaments, but they are available in lots of different shapes and sizes.  I’ve linked to a set on Amazon.

Wooden skewer – For stirring your nail polish.

  1.  Fill your plastic cup with water.  I tried hot water and then I tried cold water.  Cold water seemed to be easier to work with.  I’ve read tutorials that say you have to use hot.  What can I say?  Cold worked for me.  Do what works for you!
  2. Before you start, figure out where you want to let your ornaments dry.  I opened my bottom cabinet doors, lined up some paper towels on the bottom and then taped the ornaments to the open cabinet so they could hang out and dry.

***Note – The next couple of steps need to be done fairly quickly.  The longer you let the polish sit, it will start to set and then it becomes difficult to work with.***

3.  Drip in a bit of each color of nail polish and swirl it around using your skewer. Mine looked like this:


4.  Dip your ornament into the polish/water.  In and out.  You don’t need to let it sit in the water.  Just a quick dip.  Change out your water and nail polish about every two ornaments so that the polish doesn’t get too clumpy.

5.  Allow the ornaments to dry and then hang from your favorite tree!

And that’s it!  The one downfall I have to warn you of for this craft is the smell.  I hate the smell of nail polish and it seems to be even smellier when added to water.  Maybe I should add a clothespin to the list of materials!  All in all these were fun to do.  I wouldn’t suggest for under, say 8 years old because it can get a little messy and I think I would probably cry if I spilled a cup of watery nail polish all over the kitchen.  And that is just not the Christmas spirit I’m going for!


Mini Meatball Subs – Best Party App Ever

Guys, I got you covered for all of your holiday cooking needs.  I have discovered the best appetizer of all time.  It’s delicious.  It’s easy.  Everyone will like it.  I present to you, Mini Meatball Subs – Best Party App Ever.  You’re welcome.


I brought these to an ugly sweater party that I attended this weekend and they were a hit.  They really do taste just like a bite sized Meatball Sub.  The host of the party popped them in the oven for a few minutes when we arrived because they had gotten a little cold and they were still perfect after a quick reheat.  You cannot go wrong with these.

Mini Meatball Subs


2 cans Crescent Rolls

24 Mini Meatballs (from the frozen section, mini, not dinner size)

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

1 1/2 – 2 c Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning

2 cups Spaghetti Sauce

Mini muffin tin

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease your muffin tin
  2. Unroll the crescent rolls without tearing along the perforations as you would if making crescent rolls so that you end up with a rectangular piece of dough.  Roll the dough lightly to reseal the perforations.  Cut the dough into small squares that will fit in your mini muffin tin, about 2 inches by 2 inches.  Don’t get out your ruler.  Just eyeball it.
  3. Line each muffin cup with the crescent dough
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and Italian Seasoning.  RESERVE SOME MOZZARELLA FOR SPRINKLING ON TOP (I wrote that in big caps because if you are like me you will put all of the mozzarella in the cream cheese and then be mad at yourself).  I used my hand mixer to mix this.
  5. Smoosh about a teaspoonful of the cheese mixture into the crescent roll lined muffin cup.
  6. Pop a meatball on top of the cheese concoction.
  7. Add some (I did about a teaspoon, but you may want more or less) of spaghetti sauce on top of the meatball.
  8. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.
  9. Bake for 17 – 19 minutes until the crescent roll is golden brown. I would err on the side of too brown because nothing is worse than undercooked crescent roll.

Did I tell you they were easy??  There’s barely even any cooking involved.  A bit of mixing and then it’s just assembly, people. There are probably a bunch of delicious variations that could happen with these guys.  I was daydreaming about a Ham and Pineapple Pizza Muffin or some type of Greek pizza muffin cup with some black olives.  These would be a really nice surprise in your kids lunch box.  It’s basically a proven fact that 90% of kids like meatballs and/or pizza.   Fun fact about this recipe, I had to google what you call each individual divot in the muffin pan.  It’s muffin cup, not muffin hole as I had previously written.


Gift Guide for Your Tween Girl

***This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on one and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission!****              Santa needs some serious help picking out presents for an 11-12 year old girl.  My daughter especially.  He  likes to balance delivering things she wants and things she might not know she wants, but she totally does.  It’s a tough row to hoe for Santa.  Young ladies at this age are very discerning.  So, Santa, here’s a helping hand.  I used to be a 12 year old girl AND I am the mother of a 12 year old girl, so I think I have a pretty good handle on what they are looking for under the tree this year.  (Or not.  My daughter and I are both sort of, let’s call it, unique.  Just keep that in mind and note that my daughter and I have no Ugg slippers or North Face jackets between us).


Fashion Angels Enterprises Maker Market Modern Embroidery... Ok, up first, something to do.  This appeals not just to twelve year old me, but to current age me, as well.  This is a great gift for your crafter.  It meets my best craft criteria by being both beautiful and useful.

Jessica Simpson Girls' Big Girls' Heavyweight Expedition Coat, Black, 14/16

A cool and warm coat is a must.  I like this one, but I have to say it’s a little sad to not have my daughter in a pink coat.  But, I get it.  She’s 12.  Pink is so 8 years old.nabi Karaoke Fuhu

Fun with the squad! Karaoke!  This one is totally transferable to current age me as well…  Just in case 12 year old daughter doesn’t like it.

XYZprinting da Vinci miniMaker 3D Printer XYZprinting

Every great 12 year old is a little bit geeky.  Did you even know that you could buy a 3D printer for your house? And for your CHILD?  There is nothing you can’t find on Amazon. Qina C. Sterling Silver She Believed She Could So She Did Heart Feather Dangle Charm Adjustable Wire Bangle Bracelet: Jewelry:

This Alex & Ani bracelet is perfect.  A great starter for a collection and the message is so on point for this age group.Frola cosmetics - Pro 134 Colors 6 Layers All-in-One Make...

Ok, here is my controversial gift.  My daughter doesn’t wear makeup and even if she wanted to and we allowed her to, it’s not allowed at her school.  BUT, I do not find anything wrong with doing make overs with your friends during a Friday night sleep over.  I think it’s a cute age to start experimenting with makeup.  Also, pimples happen at 12, so a little cover up is never a bad thing.

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes) by Saba...

My daughter and I and it seems a lot of her friends are big readers. There is even a book club at her small school.  I prefer e-books, but my daughter is a throw back and prefers an actual book.

Petit Lem Big Girls' Love Print Robe, Dog, 14 Petit Lem

When else is a child going to get a new bathrobe if not on Christmas morning?  It’s a great addition to the pile of presents.

Women's In the Loving Memory of Queen Barb Stranger T-shi...:

Is your daughter in a “fandom”?  Not sure?  Ask her or troll her Instagram feed and find out.  My daughter’s current favorite is Stranger Things and she has asked Santa for this specific tshirt.  I hope you are listening Santa!

Ok, up next is a Gift Guide for Your Active Boy.  Tomorrow.  Saturday at the latest!

DIY Wood Burned Ornaments

***This post contains affiliate links.  If you click one and make a purchase, I may receive commission!***             Many years ago, in middle school, I remember doing something in Art class with a wood burning tool.  Now, the obvious question is, who puts a tool hot enough to burn wood in the hands of a twelve year old?  Crazy, right?  I also had wood shop and used all kinds of hand tools and power tools and metal shop where we used tools I can’t even name.  I’m talking really sharp saws, people.  Metal cutting saws.  (On a side note, we also had sewing and cooking and everyone, boys and girls, took all four classes.  I don’t believe any of those are offered anymore at the school.  So sad).  The wood burning tool from Art class has always stuck with me.  I loved the smell of the burning wood.  I can’t tell you what I made with that thing, but I can remember that smell distinctly.  I’ve seen a bunch of wood burned items in my social media feeds and decided to give it a go and make some DIY Wood Burned Ornaments.


I’m thrilled with how they came out!  And I’m equally thrilled with the Zen experience of burning wood.  I made about 8 ornaments total and I either spent an hour or 5 hours.  Either one sounds totally plausible to me.  It was one of those activities where time flew because I enjoyed what I was doing but also seemed to stand still because I was so calm and enthralled in what I was doing.

silent-nightNot all crafts fall into this category, by the way.  Like for instance, making felted soap.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore felted soap and I plan to make some for gifts this year, but the process of making it is not Zen like in any way.  Mostly, probably, because it involves maneuvering the soap under hot water for several minutes.  But, burning wood.  I could do that all day.  And you can, too.  Because it fits all of my favorite crafting criteria.  It’s easy, inexpensive and creates something either useful or beautiful or both.


Materials for DIY Wood Burned Ornaments

Wood Burning Tool (which was way less expensive than I imagined!)

Unfinished Wood Shapes – I got mine from the wood crafting section at Michaels


Glue Gun


  1.  Decide what you want to put on your ornament.  I started out by searching Pinterest for inspiration and came up with a bunch of different graphics and words I wanted to use.  I printed those out to a size that would fit on the ornament to use as a template or to reference once I got brave enough to free hand.
  2. Tape your picture or graphic to the ornament and use a dull-ish pencil to firmly trace the lines of the graphic.


(How awesome is that Nativity?  If you’re not interested in making ornaments, but want to buy one that looks like that, they are sold in this Etsy shop!).

3.  Ok, time to use your wood burning tool. Please follow the directions, don’t burn yourself, don’t leave it plugged in all night, don’t try to change the tip until it is cool and not with your bare hands even if it is cool, ok?  Deal.  So, it definitely takes a little bit of getting to know your tool.  (You might have noted that I said earlier that I made 8 ornaments but I have only shown four completed ornaments.  Yes, that’s right.  Lots of trial and error here.  I was glad I only spent $0.49 on each ornament.  Now that I’ve had some practice, I will probably try a more expensive, prettier wood slice for my next project).  First, pick your tip.  I mostly used the one that most resembled a pen tip, but if you are looking for straight lines, the one that looks like a mini calligraphy thingy is good.  Basically, you are going to burn over the lines you made with your dull pencil until you have the desired amount of burn.  This is a careful balance between moving the tool steadily while keeping even pressure.  See where the Zen comes into play?  Plus the smell.  Mmmmmmmmm.  Here are the four that I loved:


4.  Get Brave!  Guess what, the whole tracing thing was kind of ruining the Zen vibe, so I eventually quit tracing and just free handed!  These four, the favorite four, where done free hand. I had my pictures printed and I referenced them visually, but at this point, I was kind of winging it!

5.  Add a little bow and a hanger with your ribbon.  I hot glued mine to the ornament.  PS, making a tiny bow is the opposite of Zen.  Not my favorite part of the project.


I can’t encourage you strongly enough to try these!  They were really an experience to make and so worth it!

Linking up to:

Wow Me Wednesday

Three Ingredient Sweet & Sour Meatballs

I’m still basking in the glow of a successful Thanksgiving. I don’t know exactly what I did differently, but it was a relaxing, slow pace day with no major disasters and it was amazing.  The food was delicious, the company was delightful and no one was poisoned.  Not even my brother with Celiac. A success all around in my book.

Now, of course, it’s on to Christmas!  I’ve already started with a million projects, but we’ll start with a recipe. We host Christmas Eve and we usually get family style take out from a local Italian place, but I was thinking this year it might be fun to have everyone bring two of their favorite appetizers instead of doing a huge meal.  I have a bunch of favorites, of course, but I wanted to try out some new recipes, too.  Particularly, I wanted to try something easy and cheap.  I’ve had Sweet and Sour Meatballs before and enjoyed them, but I’ve never actually made them.  Until today.


These were everything I hoped they would be.  Super flavorful, easy and inexpensive.

Three Ingredient Sweet & Sour Meatballs

1 bag (1.5 lb) of frozen meatballs

1/2 jar Grape Jelly

1/2 bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbecue sauce

  1.  Add all ingredients to slow cooker
  2. Cook 3-4 hours on low.
  3. Eat them all.


So much yum.  PS, the green leaves (rosemary, I think?) are soley for looks.  I do believe these will make it on the all app menu for Christmas eve.  Everyone likes meatballs, right? But the flavor is just surprising enough to be a little special.  Congrats Sweet & Sour Meatballs, you’re in!

Linking up to:

Wow Me Wednesday


Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes – A Super Easy DIY

Are you in full fledged maniac mode getting ready for Thanksgiving?  Good, me too! If you are looking for a really easy and cute dessert idea, I’ve got you.  I made Thanksgiving Turkey cupcakes and they are awesome to behold. And to eat.  I always have pies for Thanksgiving, but kids don’t really love pie.  At least not as much as cupcakes.  So, this year, my lucky child guests are getting Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes!

Thanksgiving Turkey CupcakesThese are so simple and pretty quick to put together

Thanksgiving Turkey Cupcakes


Vanilla Cake Mix


Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs

Vanilla frosting



  1.  Bake the cupcakes according to the box directions
  2. Once cool, frost the cupcakes
  3. Twist an Oreo open and stick it creme filling side up into the frosting to make the turkey face
  4. Affix two brown M&M’s to the Oreo with frosting to make eyes
  5. Affix one orange M&M to the Oreo with frosting to make a beak
  6. Make a curved row of yellow, then orange then red M&M’s to make the turkey feathers
  7. Hide well so your kids don’t eat them before the big day!

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

I Tried It – TrafficMaster Allure Flooring

I have tackled one of the big to do’s on my pre-Thanksgiving check list.  I updated the flooring in our dining room!  I know what you’re thinking, since when do I use power tools?  I didn’t.  I tried TrafficMaster Allure Flooring and it was crazy easy to install.  The only tools required were a box cutter, a straight edge and my brain.  And it was my brain that gave me the most trouble with this easy DIY. I will definitely post a full tutorial and review soon, but for now I wanted to share some after pictures for you.  They are taken on a gloomy day, because, well, November, so I’m hoping for the official reveal I will have some better shots, but I was just too excited to not share these!


When we redid our kitchen, close to three years ago, we took down most of the wall leading into the dining room and with the wall, a little built in book shelf.  When we removed the bookshelf, we discovered that there was no flooring underneath.  The original flooring in the room was a badly stained parquet.  We thought about finding pieces to match it.  No luck.  I thought about tearing up the parquet.  I tried one piece and that was enough for me.  That stuff comes up one little sliver at a time.  No thanks.  Then I discovered TrafficMaster Allure Flooring and I decided to jump in and give it a try.


I’m so excited with how this came out. It took me about 6 hours total over the course of two nights and I swear to you the hardest part of it was figuring out the measuring and the cutting.  And it installed right over the old parquet.  I did have to do some finagling to fill in the hole in the floor where the bookshelf was, but I’ll give the details on that in a later post.

For now, I’m thrilled with how the floor came out and the fact that I won’t go four Thanksgivings in a row with a hole in the floor.  I’m sure my guests will be thrilled with that as well…

And you may have noticed that I’ve started setting my Thanksgiving table.  I thought I would try to be all “Blogger” and have these beautiful tablescapes to share with you, but, then the weather happened and also, I don’t have enough stuff to make a beautiful tablescape right now.  But hey, this is Lifestyle for Real Life, right?  Here’s what the table looks like so far:


What’s great about attempting to get a lovely tablescape together is that I now know that I only have 4 water glasses, no napkins and I definitely want to add another color to this pallet.  Like some orange or something.  Maybe some mini pumpkins on the plates?  No worries, I still have a week.  Plenty of time!  (No, it’s not. Not even close, but I’m still not going to worry).


The New Sides – Two Recipes Joining my Thanksgiving Table

Ok, we are about a week and a half out from the big day (Thanksgiving for those of you who still don’t believe it’s already half way through November).  I’m so behind, you have no idea.  My to do list includes putting down a new floor in the dining room and I am half way down with that, but I’ve done NOTHING else.  Except try two new recipes.  I do love all of the old standards, but I like to add something new to the mix every year.  It can be very hard to find recipes that will work for a large group. I have adventurous taste buds; my mother?  Not so much.  So here are the two new sides I came up with that I’m hoping will satisfy at least a few of my guests.


These came out soo good.  I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong with any thing that has been cooked in bacon fat, though.  And, they are super easy to make!

The New Sides – Caramelized Baby Onions with Bacon

1 bag frozen Baby Onions

3-4 pieces of bacon

1/4 c water

  1.  Allow baby onions to thaw
  2. Cook the bacon until crispy.  Keep the oil from cooking the bacon on the stove.  Remove the bacon from pan and pat with paper towels to remove excess grease.
  3. Add thawed baby onions to still hot bacon oil and add the water.  Allow to simmer until browned.  Stir frequently
  4. Chop the bacon and add to the onions.


Crispy oven Fried Potatoes

4 Red Potatoes

3 cloves of garlic

1/4 c of vegetable oil

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Slice the potatoes thinly.  (I did mine on a mandolin, a smidge thicker than a potato chip).
  3. Rinse the potatoes and pat dry
  4. Mince the garlic and add to the oil
  5. Add potatoes to a baking dish and coat with the garlicky oil
  6. Turn potatoes every 15 minutes and cook until browned and crispy

The Crispy Oven Fried Potatoes would actually make a good snack if you had some yummy dip for them, too.

Ok, I’m off to finish the second half of that floor.  Just kidding, I’m going to bed.