handmade gifts ideas

Years ago, for the holidays, I gifted my co-workers handmade ornaments I decorated and personalized for each person. It was my first job as an adult and I truly appreciated each and every one of them. I had to make 20 or so and by the 10th one, I was asking myself, “what was I thinking?

handmade keychain made of felt

But, I know what I was thinking then. And it’s the same as it is now. It’s challenging, creative and fun for me. For gifts this year, so far, I’ve made a tote bag, a fabric utensil carrier, fabric coasters, and pillowcases. It’s been super fulfilling. I had some fabric I gathered the last time I went to the craft store, and I also used some I already had on hand. It’s kind of crazy how much you can make with just a small sheet of fabric.

I am so close to making some cute fabric bow ties for my loved ones who are cat parents.

Here are some gift ideas in case you want some inspiration:

  • Tote bags
  • Coasters
  • Knit scarves, sweaters, mittens, socks
  • Paintings, drawings
  • Baked desserts
  • A scrapbook of memories

If you’ve made some handmade gifts this year, what are they? And feel free to add to the list!

comforting sleep

cat sleeping resting peaceful calm

As I’m waiting for my banana bread to finish in the oven, I’m reminded of the comforting sleep I woke up to this morning. I guess it’s called a nap, more specifically. I went to bed at the usual time and had a busy productive Sunday. Instead of sleeping through the night, I woke up at 3:30am. Wide awake. There was no bright light from the corners of the curtains or the beautiful chirping of the birds. Just me.

After a few hours of doing a whole lot of nothing, I climbed back into bed. And it was glorious. The blankets were so soft and the quietness ushered me back into dreamland. I had to wake up an hour and a half later, but it felt like a full night’s sleep. So warm and comforting. So needed. So grateful.

reflections and feeling thankful

The days feel so odd with changes here and there. Especially with the weather. It feels almost complementary with how everyone’s emotions seem to be. I truly want to escape into the warmth of my blankets and comfort of distraction through digital media, rather than face the bitter cold of reality knowing that I’ll likely lose the battle anyway.

Along with odd changes, a huge one is merely weeks away. A goodbye to another year. Another year without you. Another year of navigating this new post-Covid world. And memories all throughout made with good intentions with unpredictable happenstances and circumstances, as always.

heart formed from flower petals

I am grateful. When I see people I love. When I see hearty smiles from a well-cooked meal, laughter from a well-earned joke and sparks of creativity from well-needed care. Cleaning and tidying a home I am working towards. Making things with my hands – sewing, cooking, writing, drawing. And nature and its glory. I am grateful for another day, another moment to grow and learn. For everything.

colorful flower wreath | upcycled egg cartons | sustainability

Egg carton flower wreath (3)
Flowers made from empty egg cartons

Happy to have made this cute and simple flower wreath by upcycling a couple of empty egg cartons. There are a lot of tutorials for this diy and they’re easy to make. It was honestly really therapeutic for me to carefully cut and paint these cuties. I haven’t painted in a while, and after this activity, I think I’ll be taking my paintbrushes out more often.

It truly fascinates me how simple and basic most decorative things are. Why spend so much on something you can likely make on your own? It’s fun, too!

Egg carton flower wreath (1)
Egg carton flower wreath (6)

I thought that the egg carton paper material would be too thin and the paint would damage them, but that wasn’t the case. The material is sturdy enough, but light enough that even my compostable plate ring could hold them all.

Egg carton flower wreath (9)

If you have the time, motivation and materials, I would certainly recommend trying this craft out!

double jules elle pink peonies

Peony 1Peony 2

I think these are peonies? These were taken a few summers ago when I went out to get some fresh air and saw these beauties. Although it’s much colder nowadays, I wanted to share a little warmth today.

Summer sure does bring about all the life that’s been hidden underground. The ants are raging on, the perennials are blooming on their own and annuals are getting their spotlight, too.

I did a little research and apparently, peonies can bloom for 100 years! I believe they bloom only once a year though and lasts up to 10 days. So, if you see any of these in your neighborhood, really appreciate them!

just driving around Yosemite for a day

So much of traveling involves the quiet or not so quiet drives to and from your destination. Rarely do we find people inserting clips of their drives, but I decided to gather these pieces of my journey to show that they are in fact kind of memorable. There is beauty of seeing outside the car window and noticing the changes and differences from what you’re familiar with.

this reminds me

It’s early morning and it’s peacefully quiet. I love it. I cherish it. This time allows me to let my thoughts go unrestrained from the daily worries that tumble through…

I’ve barely slept. Just finished packing a few hours ago. Taking an early flight out and don’t want to miss it. What is it with this feeling…how shall I describe? Happiness with excitement with inspired. Driving to the airport with barely anyone on the road is like a whole other world. Quietness is the main character, not noise or stress or work. Peace comes so easily. The coffee shop hasn’t opened yet. Wandering around and seeing colorful hoodies on headless mannequins behind closed metal gates. Stores that sell the water I want to drink and overpriced chocolates I never buy, but want to.

And suddenly people are everywhere. We each have our own journey and waiting time. Some of us can splurge for the best seats and others have to settle. But we each have a destination to go to in every stage of our journey.

Life is this. A destination and a transfer to another place and then when we’re done, we move to the next stop of our lives. You told me this in your own way and I never understood fully. I’m not sure if I do now, but I see it more clearly now more than I ever have.

presently in past time

Lately, I’ve found myself lost in the nostalgia of memories and I think how great life was pre-pandemic and being younger. Wandering through the photographs of my mind. Hearing the conversations I’ve had with friends and family. My feelings on what I thought being older meant. How naive and innocent I was. It all feels kind of bittersweet, but more sweet than the other. I am grateful and happy.

It makes me think that, perhaps, older me will return back to this time right now and say the same things. Share similar sweet feelings of nostalgia and think of this time fondly, despite the hard things that have happened.

So, I want to make an effort to live presently now before this becomes a time in the past. Value today and who I surround myself with because life will inevitably change again and again and again.

friends

Two tortoises Honolulu Zoo
Two tortoises at Honolulu Zoo

I’m not sure how long these two have known each other and I don’t think that matters much. It’s beautiful to see beings connect with one another. We are all on this journey of discovery and living our lives to the best of our abilities and circumstances. Many of the challenges we face are the same. Some are not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t understand each other. It means we have to dig a little deeper into our own reflections of life and to be open to seeing someone else’s.

“[B]egin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.”– Alan Alda

in nature

img_5961

You and I had plans. Flying into the sky to see faraway places. We were going to see so many things. You and me.

In nature.

You showed me how to embrace the natural beauty that we see. That everything has a place. That an annoying buzzing bee was just as important as a fierce growling lion as water as a wilting flower.

In  nature is where we’ll be.