Easy Gift Bag Art

Someone once gave me a lovely gift. Unfortunately, I have no memory of what it was or who it was from (blush of shame) but what they didn’t realize was how much I’d love the packaging it came in!


I saved it over the years to reuse and eventually used it to package a special gift for someone. A few months later,  this same exact gift bag was coincidentally re-gifted to me. Obviously, the universe destined for me and this gift bag to be together! But my love story with this gift bag hit a bit of a bump in the road when I noticed it had a bad tear in the side. So I had to figure out a way to preserve the beauty of this bag in a way that would keep the love alive.

So with a few basic craft supplies, here’s what happened –


Not bad, right?? I wasn’t able to cut out a sheet of the gift bag that was big enough to cover the whole canvas, but I rather like it this way too!

If there is a special gift bag in your life that you want to preserve as wall art, here’s what you’ll need –


– A gift bag you love

-A canvas


-Rotary Cutter

-Paint of your choice

-Paint Brush

-Water for wetting your paint brush

-Mod Podge

-Sponge Brush

Here’s what you do:

1. Paint the canvas in solid color of your choice. Allow it to dry. (I like to start with a diluted layer of the paint and then add more coats of paint after each previous layer dries.)

2. Cut out and separate the largest side of the gift bag so that you have a nice flat sheet of the gift bag paper/plastic to work with.

3. Using your ruler and rotary cutter, cut the sheet to fit your canvas.

4. Sponge on a layer of Mod Podge onto the back side of your gift bag sheet. Place it onto your canvas.

5. Finish up by applying a final layer of Mod Podge to the overall surface of your brand new art piece! DONE!

This project can be modified for use with just about any type of gift bag! So don’t get upset if you feel like you have to say goodbye to those pretty little hearts on the gift bag you get for Valentines Day today! Just cut them out and mod podge them onto a canvas and you never have to say goodbye!


SIDE NOTE: Speaking of gifts, that reminds me…the storage unit under the gift bag art was my Christmas gift from the hubby! It’s from Target and I.LOVE.IT. I had it assembled by some serious professionals –GiftBagIMG_8531

So there you have it. Art doesn’t need to be extra fancy or difficult to be beautiful! You just have to keep your mind open and you never know when or where inspiration will hit!


Happy Valentines Day!

Mango Cupcakes

In honor of my sister-in-law’s big birthday celebration, I bring you…MANGO CUPCAKES! And might I add, this recipe is reaching you just in time for Valentines Day which is 3 weeks away!

Mango Cupcakes

My inspiration behind this tasty treat? The birthday party took place at an Indian restaurant and in case you didn’t know, India’s national fruit is the mango! (Is that a good enough justification for having eaten a whole pint of Mango Ice cream? It is, right?) And since fruit and cheese go together like soul mates, I decided to pair together the mango cake with cream cheese frosting.

Cake Table

Cake table at the Birthday Party. Cupcake towers are featuring mango cupcakes, chocolate chip coconut cupcakes and chocolate-dipped Rice Krispy treats.

Here are the ingredients used to make the mango cupcake –

Mango Cupcake Ingredients

Ingredients – Flour, Baking powder, Baking soda, Salt, Mango Puree, Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Cardamom, Canola Oil and Frosting/Decorations

The ingredients needed to make the cake are fairly basic with the exception of the mango. Since mangoes are not in season right now, I had to make a visit to my local Indian grocer to find the tin of mango pulp. I’m sure you can find this at most ethnic grocery stores. I highly recommend Alphonso mangoes for this recipe because they’re awesome. NOTE: Mango nectar is NOT the same thing as Mango Pulp/Puree.

Freshly out the oven with a rich golden yellow color from the mango.

Freshly out the oven with a rich golden-yellow color from the mango.

My crafty buddy Silpa, who happens to be incredibly talented with all things cake and cupcake, helped me with decorating. (You can see more of her amazing cake creations at The Yum Shoppe!) I’ll share a few pics so you can do this too. It’s super easy to do if you have a piping set.


After piping a thin line to frame the edge of the cupcake face, I rolled the frosted edge in the pink sugar. When rolled in the sugar, the frosting flattens a bit and that’s perfect. Next we pipe on the main section of frosting with a big tip, covering the inside edge of the pink sugar frame.



After the frosting is piped on, I added a tiny sprinkle of sugar on top for the finishing touch.

(The cupcake muffin tin liners were from my local craft store, Michaels. The black/white damask print paper wrappers were made from scrapbook paper, also from Michaels.)

If you are not in the mood to be fancy with decorating, or you don’t have a piping set, that’s okay. I find that cupcakes with the messy frosting on top always appeal to me the most, anyway! If you want to Valentine-ize them, you could still sprinkle on some pink sugar and/or add a candy heart. (And yes, you signed up for made-up words when you agreed to read this blog.)


As always, since my baby has allergies, this recipe is egg-free and nut-free. But trust me, this recipe didn’t need any of those things to achieve a soft, moist and oh-so-yummy goodness.


I can’t wait to try this recipe with fresh mangoes this summer! Let me know if you give this recipe a try so I can know how it turned out for you!


MANGO CUPCAKES (Makes 24 + Cupcakes)


3 Cups – Flour

4 tsp – Baking Powder

1 tsp – Baking Soda

1 tsp – Salt

1/4 tsp – Cardamom Powder (optional)

3 Cups – (Sweetened) Mango Pulp/Puree

3/4 Cup – Sugar

2/3 Cup – Canola Oil

2 tsp – Vanilla Extract

Frosting of your choice. (I used this recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting.)



(Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.)

1. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom into a bowl.

2. In another bowl, mix the remaining ingredients together, making sure it’s well-mixed.

3. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, using a whisk to mix just until the batter is smooth. (Be careful not to over-mix!)

4. Fill the muffin cups with 1/4 Cup of the batter per cupcake.

5. Bake for 20-23 minutes. (Time will vary based on your oven. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.)

Round Bunting

Happy New Year! Did you make any resolutions for 2014? I usually don’t wait till the New Year to make resolutions because my motto is that each DAY is a fresh start and a chance for change and improvement. BUT, there is something a little extra magical about making resolutions at the dawn of a new year so I couldn’t resist!

Hopefully you won’t get tired of me but one of my resolutions is to post here at least once a month! Yep. Surely I am the first ever blogger to make such a resolution, right?? Ha! Now that I’ve told you that…I’ve really gotta stick with it though, huh? Except, that’s exactly why I told you! I know there are those of you out there that will hold me VERY accountable. (Cough Cough Silpa and Shez Cough Cough) I am so excited and looking forward to what God has in store for me in my creative pursuits this year so I appreciate all the prayers and positive vibes you can spare my way!

My inspiration received a much-needed boost from my latest read, “Creative Thursdays” by Marisa Anne. If you are in a creative rut or feeling some frustrations with yourself, I highly recommend this book! Marisa graces each page with her beautiful artwork and photography while sharing her knowledge and wisdom  about creative practices in a great conversational tone. I seriously read this book feeling like she was one of my good buddies and had written it JUST for ME. It is a VERY easy read and both encouraging and inspiring.


The Update – I finished the 4th project of my online Home Ec. course – Sewing a Round Bunting. Since my son’s room was lacking in deco, I designed the bunting with his name so I could hang it on his wall. Although it’s been a while since I’ve completed this project, I just got around to taking some pics to share with you, so without further ado:

Here’s a close-up of a few of the letters:


Felt was used for the lettering as well as the backing for this bunting. Quilting cotton (navy blue with vibrant green) was used for the front face. The font for the lettering is called KB Stick to It and can be downloaded from dafont.com for free. (I love the internet!)

Round Bunting1

The bunting adds a great personal touch to the room AND has the added bonus of being a great visual for helping my son learn the letters in his name.

The bunting was only part of my plans for the wall though. Right under the bunting, I also hung up a stretch of twine which I now use to display the latest and greatest of my son’s creations! Jayden feels such a sense of accomplishment every time he looks up and sees his work. “Mommy! I did that!” And so with this great bunting project, my son now has his very own “Wall of Fame”.

Round Bunting

On A Ledge.


Ledges can be intimidating…especially if it’s by the edge of a great expanse of dark raging waters or located way up high where even the birds would get a little dizzy and nervous.

But there are other types of ledges that can be intimidating. Take for instance, the ledges that I have faced in my house, over the fireplace, or in this case, in my craft room, looking bare and waiting for that special decor to bring it some personality, color and style.

It can be a daunting task to come up with classy and decent-looking decor when you have a totally blank slate coupled with a tight budget. Where to begin? What to avoid? What colors to pick?!


Ledge in my craft room soon after we moved in – Cluttered and plain

The ledge in my craft room, which runs along the entire length of a wall, was utterly bare and in need of some life. I wandered through many a store looking for inspiration and finally got it when I came across a deal on picture frames!



I picked out my favorite pieces of scrapbook paper and made the word “CREATE”; a word of encouragement for me to keep at my crafting since it’s what I love to do. I printed out some WordArt letters from MS Office to use as stencils and traced them backwards onto the back of my scrapbook sheets.


Letters are traced backwards onto the back of the scrapbook sheets. This ensures the front of the letter doesn’t have any stray pencil marks smudging the pattern.

I used regular tacky glue to stick my scrapbook letters onto scrapbook paper rectangles I had cut out to fit the frames.

Here’s the result –


And on the ledge –

CREATE1aPaired with a bright wall color, it adds a pop of vibrancy and happiness to the room. I bet this would also work well as a wall hanging with a child’s name in a nursery or even in a main room, with the word “LOVE” or “FAMILY” in black/white.

OH! But that’s not all! No…there’s still a whole slap of bare wall above the ledge, isn’t there. Rather than put you through the suspense and misery of waiting till my next post to see what I did, I’ll just tell you about it now! (Or maybe I’m telling you now because selfishly, I just can’t wait. Ok, let’s just say I’m sharing this now because I am a kind and wonderful humanitarian. Yeah, that sound’s good.)

I decided that I needed to be better about keeping track of time whilst crafting so my focus for the empty wall became clocks. I accidentally stumbled upon this GORGEOUS Chrysanthemum Clock on the That’s What {Che} Said blog, which was made with plastic spoons. (Seriously. Plastic Spoons.)  After seeing how gorgeous her DIY clock was, no other clock would do.

With a cheap-o clock from Wal-Mart, some spray paint, foam board and spoons, I created this lovely wall clock, and thus completed my ledge/wall decor challenge –


My work table faces this wall and I love it! This is one ledge that I’m not intimidated by, anymore!

Playing Catch Up

Yikes! Where did the time go??

I’ve been a busy girl! Let’s catch up, shall we?

In August, we made a trip to Chicago for a wedding. This crafty mama decided that the little man was over-due for a pair of snazzy suspenders and so that’s what I worked on!

I had a LOT of help from a tutorial I found from the blog, Make It & Love It. I picked out an adorable pin-dot fabric and found all the necessary clips at my local Joanne Fabric Store.


Paired with a bow-tie, the results were absolutely timeless and adorable.


While in Chicago, we also did a little sight-seeing. Here is a quick glance at our trip:


[Left to Right – Top Row: View of Lake Michigan and Chicago skyline from Navy Pier, Deep Dish Pizza from Lou Malnati’s, Chicago’s famous “Bean” aka “The Cloud Gate”. Bottom Row – Entrance to Navy Pier, Family Photo from Wedding, Live Jazz Festival at The Jay Pitzker Pavilion at Millennium Park]

Then in September, I continued working on my craft room (which is still a work-in-progress), learned how to use Mod-Podge, and got good practice with pant alterations. FIY-When you have pants that can do double-duty as socks when you wear them, it’s time to hem.

Here’s the Mod-Podge project I had worked on:

Ribbon Storage

As handsome as the Quaker Man is, I used scraps of scrapbook paper and covered over a few empty oatmeal containers I had. They are the perfect size for storing all of my ribbons and add a nice bit of color to my craft room. (If you add a vertical slit in the canister, you can turn the storage into a ribbon dispenser.)

And now it’s a beautiful crisp autumn over here and I’m practically rolling around in pumpkins! We’ve been roaming pumpkin patches, painting and carving pumpkins, having Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal for breakfast, sipping on Pumpkin Spice Tea and Lattes, and even having Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese for my Bagels! Pumpkin overkill? Not for THIS pumpkin junkie! Bring on the Thanksgiving Pumpkin Pie…and perhaps a treadmill. Yes, I think a treadmill will be necessary.

I also love Autumn for all of the colors that it brings out in nature. So,  I brought some of those colors indoors!

Autumn Mantle - Pumpkins

Autumn Mantle - Decor

Left: Family Photo from J’s 1st Pumpkin Patch Visit at 6 mo. old
Right: Squirrel was J’s special request for our Fall decor

Oh Autumn! – a time for cozy sweaters & hoodies, hearty stews, boots, pumpkin pies, knitting, bright foliage, hot chocolate, curling up with good books and enjoying the holidays with family and friends. I do love Autumn.

Phew! This post was long so kudos to you for making it all the way to the end! And now we’re (finally) all caught up!

Stay warm and have a beautifully blessed autumn, my friends!

Happy Autumn

Marker Doodles

Can you remember the excitement as a child, when you opened up a FRESH box of crayons or markers and knew that they were ALL YOURS?? The crayons with their flawlessly molded tips, letting off that sweet aroma of wax and the markers, beautifully pointy, just bursting with fresh vibrant ink…It represented a whole new world of beautiful art to be made! Some of us never quite outgrow that excitement of getting new crayons or markers, do we?

Ha! I sure didn’t! While cleaning out some of my old folders, I came across some doodles I had made when feeling excited about a fresh pack of markers I had just bought.


I used colored pencils too. Nothing fancy. Just something I did for fun and thought I’d share.


I hope everyone is having a lovely summer so far!

Reusable Grocery & Gift Bag

On to Lesson 3 of my Freckled Nest Home Ec. Class, I now know how to make a reusable grocery bag!

May not seem that exciting at first, but then consider the facts:

1. Where I live, you have to buy your shopping bags whenever you go to any store. (Unless you bring your own reusable bag, in which case, some stores will even PAY YOU as a reward.)

2. I can never seem to have enough reusable bags around the house – I use them for shopping trips, to store knitting projects and other crafts while they’re being worked on, as a quick diaper or toy bag for J when we’re rushing out of the house, and for countless other purposes.

3. Being that they are so useful, they can double as an awesome gift bag to hold that special birthday gift for your buddy, while ALSO being part of the gift itself.

4. With all the “re-usability”, that’s less garbage going into the environment.

It’s a no-brainer. Reusable bags rock.

The fabric I used to make the bag was actually a wrap-around skirt from Kenya that I had received from a friend several years ago.  Although I did love it as a skirt, I was never skilled enough to wear it without the strong belief that the skirt was doomed to fall around my ankles at any given second. [Read – Jainy taking 3-cm steps and walking smoother than a geisha.]

Check out the gorgeous stripes –

Reusable Bag - Stripes

To help create straps with a sturdy connection to the body of the bag, the lesson taught how to make “X” joints.  The top edge of the bag is double-hemmed, just for aesthetics.

Reusable Bag - X

Reusable Bag - Side

Although I was sad to say goodbye to the skirt, I was happy to get TWO bags out of it. One of my bags is already loaded with (overdue) books (oops.) as the little one and I get ready to head to the library!

Reusable Bag

Happy Friday everyone!