Sunday, February 23, 2014

Giving a little love

I really don't get into holidays much. I don't have boxes of decorations for all seasons that I unload out at the most precise times of year. Maybe now that I'm a homeowner, I'll eventually start collecting and decorating...if my husband will let me.

We had some holiday spirit at work for Valentine's Day. I'm part of the company's art department. We're creative types, so for the second year, we decided to exchange DIY Valentines.

Last year, I used porcelain pens and made personalized XOXO heart mugs for all the girls. The best part is they all use them still, some daily for their coffee or tea. So my challenge this year was to come up with a gift that was equally original and still useful. I struggled for a few days until I remembered a pin I had come across during wedding planning.

I had wanted a coffee bar and these adorable sugar cubes with hearts as a sweet accent at the end of our reception because that would have been too cool. But when we decided our wedding would be just family and a few friends, and at a brewery, the unlimited availability of local brews washed away my sorrows of the coffee bar that wasn't to be.

The idea had a new life. The blog I found said the sugar cubes could easily be painted with a small brush. PERFECT! I searched my favorite local stores for cute bowls and spoons and came across the perfect ones for a great price at Pier 1. I had a tiny paint brush and just had to buy sugar cubes and red food coloring at the grocery store, plus a few details at Hobby Lobby to complete the gift.

I started the project at 5 a.m. two days before the exchange. I had the kitchen island cleared and wiped down the night before. After adding a drop of food coloring to a small tupperware lid, I grabbed a cube, dabbed the brush in the liquid and happily dotted it on the center of the cube.


Ok, so I knew it would spread, just not that badly. Reject number one.

I thought maybe I should try a suggestion I found on another project blog--using a toothpick to draw on the hearts more cleanly. Yeah, that was a no. I went back to trying to get as little red on the bristles as possible.

After a while, I felt like I got the hang of it. The hearts actually started to look like hearts. And then they stopped looking like hearts (those will be at the bottom of the dish). And then it was time to go to work.

Putz kept me company later that night while I frantically tried to complete the project and still get a decent amount of sleep. When I say she kept me company, I really mean she begged for food the whole time. After I heard no more lid chewing and the sound of the dish scraping the tile floor ceased, I turned around and saw this.

Please, Mom?
Begging at its finest. Just in case her efforts at a lower level on the floor had gone unnoticed for the last hour.

Back to my efforts. I started adding my lovely creations to the dishes and realized I didn't have enough. No being skimpy on the love! I looked at the remaining layer of sugar squares, looked at the clock, gritted my teeth and put another dot of food coloring on my tupperware lid. I eventually painted over 100 sugar cubes for my eight gifts. Yep, the whole box. Mildly challenging but worth it. Most challenging was wrapping and securing the cellophane around the dish. Doing that solo was not exactly fun. I improvised with some of those handy green produce bag twisty-ties and then got the ribbon fastened to hold the package shut. Whew. Some turned out better than others.

I also added "made with love" charms onto the porcelain spoons and a cheesy-cute phrase--You stir me up inside, sweet thing!--to the gift tag. Pretty much adorbs, I'd say.

Overall, I was excited about my gift. The next day, the other girls didn't disappoint. Baked goods, hand-painted stemware and sparking grape juice, a wall hanging, succulent in a painted pot and a bracelet. All kinds of cuteness. Two of the girls who were gone that day brought fruit and a homemade body scrub this week to celebrate. I love these ladies!

Artsy people are my fave.
We're consecutively setting the bar higher. I should really be planning for next year's project now. But I won't. It's only appropriate to start the week of the holiday and finish the night before.

Here's to being proud of something either fully or somewhat handmade that makes someone else smile. *Cheers*

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