Gifts: Personalized Activity Jars

So much of today’s entertainment comes from digital media – iPads, iPhones, TV, Netflix, etc., and sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves that the simple things are still fun!

My sisters are both young teenagers and a) are always looking for things to do and b) sometimes feeling the pressure of adolescence (lots of changes!), so I set out to solve both of these scenarios with two very simple jars – Emergency Compliments and the Bored Jar.

Things to do jar
Things to do jar (Yia Yia = grandma in Greek)

What you’ll need:

  • Empty Jar (I used pasta sauce and an old candle jar)
  • Twine, ribbon, fabric or other decorative aspects for the outside
  • Sharpies!
  • A tag or label for the jar
  • Popsicle sticks and corresponding content for each

There is a site for emergency compliments that originally sparked the idea, and it looks like since this craft, they’ve launched a book. I have to say, some of them are pretty funny. I also included some serious compliments in there, not just silly ones.

Emergency Compliments Jar
When life gets tough, grab an emergency compliment!

What kind of activity jar would you create? Try it and let me know what you think!

Gifts: Wine Cork DIYs

 

Yesterday, someone asked me about making a cork wreath, and since I have made a few in my day, I thought I would share my methods and see if that helps anyone out who is an avid wine lover (like me) or looking for a fun and easy holiday gift (also, like me – and yes, they’re coming!)

So, for starters, you need a LOT of corks. Seriously – a lot of them. Since I was living by myself at the time I endeavored to make these, I called up my favorite restaurant and wine bar (Quartino’s in Chicago – you’re not living if you haven’t eaten there) and asked them to save some corks for me. When I turned up for dinner a couple of weeks later, this is what I got:

Wine cork DIY

Other supplies you’ll need:

  • Foam wreath core (or other floral type core)
  • Acrylic or spray paint, or some type of wrap to disguise the green floral foam (you could get a straw wreath and shortcut here)
  • Hot glue gun and LOTS of glue sticks
  • Any beads, ribbon or embellishment you’d like + to hang it with.

First, I separated all of the synthetic corks from the real corks because I wanted the wreath to be all real, but what I ended up doing is using all of the synthetics as the base around the foam core and then started gluing on the real corks once I had my baseline down.

It takes a lot of layers so I would recommend having a hefty supply of both corks and glue, as well as a work surface to protect your surroundings from the web of hot glue you’re about to weave.

Here’s what my end product looked like. Read on to learn some of the things I would do differently next time!

Wine cork wreath DIY

Lessons Learned in Wine Cork Crafting:

  • It’s addicting. I made 2 wreaths, a tray, and 3 ornaments at least. I had enough corks to fill a cork cage left over.
  • Asking a restaurant for their corks is safer, healthier and 1,000x faster than trying to drink them yourself. (Although it would make a better story, I’m sure)
  • Cutting corks (for the tray) is really hard. Research accordingly if you plan to do this.
  • Have a lot of time! It takes a while to glue all of the corks on, and if you paint your foam core, you’ll have to wait for that to dry as well.
  • Don’t expect perfection. I had a photo of what I wanted mine to look like, and it doesn’t look like that, but it’s still beautiful.
  • Hot glue is kind of flimsy. I would recommend putting your hanger on the wreath’s base before gluing on the corks, so it is secured beneath your wine cork masterpiece and easy to install.
  • Don’t take your cork wreath on Amtrak 🙂 It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Corks everywhere! If you must, bring your hot glue gun to perform a quick fix when you arrive to your destination.
Wine cork tray DIY
The tray I made – started with an unfinished wood tray from Michael’s and hot glued the corks to the bottom.

Do you plan to try any wine cork crafts this year? Share pictures and your lessons learned below!

Gifts: Sand Jars and S’mores

So, not to seem like I’m weirdly obsessed with s’mores (I might be, but I think it’s because I live in the city where they’re harder to come by!), here’s a great gift idea that serves double duty – long after it’s delicious contents have gone.

This part may be a little bit suspect to some of you, but living in downtown Chicago means that I sometimes find fun gifts in unsuspecting places. I got these jars from CVS (yep – the pharmacy) and conveniently, I was also able to fill them up in the same spot.

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The kit came with sand and tea light candles to use as in the second photo below. I chose to stock each jar with s’mores ingredients, as it was a hostess gift for a summer barbecue, and then included the alternative fillers (sand, candles, additional s’mores supplies) in the gift bag. Fun AND functional. The sand and tea lights make for great outdoor centerpieces or add a little relaxing vibe to your home.

You could DIY this with some empty pasta jars, mason jars or any other type of glass jar and any kind of treat. How would you fill yours? What do you think of this idea?  Let me know in the comments or tweet me @mandyresh

Treats and Treasures

Hey there!

I’m taking Little Wonders in a new direction and I hope you are along for the ride. I’ve been thinking for a long time about what ‘little wonders’ really means to me – and it may sound obvious, but it’s all of the little things that make life wonderful. In 2011 when this little project started, I was hoping to hop on the fashion blogging bandwagon, but it wasn’t feeling right. I was looking for my hook, my edge, and I think I have finally found it.

From now on, you can come to Little Wonders and expect to find a few different things:

  • Treats: baked goods, recipes and other goodies
  • Treasures: memories, miscellaneous finds and places
  • Gifts: carefully curated ideas for unique gift-giving
  • Gestures: housewarming, cards, ways to #treatyourself, etc.

Keep an eye out as I have some posts coming that are not only easy, but fun and sometimes even delicious! Follow along and let me know what you think.

– Amanda

DIY ornament

I was inspired by a post on the Wine Enthusiast online catalog to make this ornament. I’ve been trying to save any and all wine corks because I knew I would do something with them eventually! Every year, we have a Girls Only Ornamnent Exchange, so this is perfect to bring.

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I made mine in the shape of a Christmas tree, hot gluing the rows together first and the “trunk” last. Once I affixed them all together, I started a ribbon around the side and over the top to give it a hanger. Very easy, creative and cute! If you don’t have any red wine corks, you could use glue and glitter to spice them up a little.

It’s crunch time for the holidays. What’s in your stocking?!

Gift Guide | Women

Men are always stumped when it comes to women. I don’t know why – we’re always rattling off about “I want this” or “I wish I had that” for whichever occasion it is currently. They really should take notes. Or see my previous post about buying jewelry.

womenCheck out these ideas and more here.

If you’re a Chicago native, The Left Bank has a ton of eiffel tower accessories for the Paris lover on your list. The top right idea is a great way to pass down a family heirloom by turning rings into a bracelet. Very special for someone’s “something old.” 🙂

 

Gift Guide | Teens

People always say that teens are so hard to buy for, but I have to beg to differ – at least for teen girls. Here are some fantastic gift ideas that the teen (or early twenty-something!) in your life will enjoy.

teens

Clockwise from left : winter print leggings available on Amazon, tote bag available at Nordstrom, infinity scarf from Anthropologie, tech earmuffs (also available on Amazon), Kate Spade Arm Candy wristlet, Ralph Lauren earmuffs, Kate Spade iPad bag (similar style currently on sale at Coach Factory for $60) and a solid coach leather cross body.

Check out these ideas and more here.