Valentine’s Day DIY Gift Guide

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: DIY Edition

Of the three Valentine’s Day 2015 Gift Guides I’ve done over the past few weeks (check out gifts for your main squeeze & gifts for your BFF!), this one is my favorite – Valentine’s Day DIY Gift Guide! I’ve combed Pinterest, my favorite blogs, and my own archive (Shameless! Absolutely shameless!) to give you the best suggestions for how to make Valentine’s Day a DIY affair this year. With budgets, skill levels, and genders in mind, I think you’ll find this gift guide all you need for making your boo, bae, or bff something special that reminds them of your love and care all 365 days of the year.

I’m in love with all of these DIYs, so I’ll tell you a little bit more about each of them:

1. This DIY Dino Valentine from Lovely Indeed is one of my most popular pins throughout the year. I think what makes it so instantly beloved is the transformation that occurs when you gild something ugly (or ferocious, in this case!) and turn it into something fancy! An ordinary dinosaur toy isn’t anything to look at, but with some gold paint and tiny arms filled with hearts, there’s nothing not to love! This DIY is quick, easy on the budget, and something your valentine will love regardless of age and gender. Imagine leaving this on the desk of your best officemate? Cu-ute!

2. Working with leather is such a popular trend right now and it’s definitely something I want to try in the future. This DIY leather iPad case tutorial from Martha Stewart also features instructions for a wallet, mouse pad, and pencil case, so the sky’s the limit!

3. For the past two years, Bear has added DIY leather key chains to every single list I keep for blog ideas on my desk, phone, computer, or elsewhere. It’s a new year, so I guess I’d better take a hint. This simple tutorial from 17 Apart includes plenty of photos to guide you in creating these functional little charmers. If you want to get fancy, grab a letter and number stamp kit and customize your key chains with initials or a meaningful date.

4. These DIY vanity trays are so quick, cheap, and easy, but look really luxe! They’re one of my most popular DIYs on the blog and have been featured in various spots online. Most recently, these beauties made it into a feature on Elle Decor’s website as one way to spruce up your bedroom in less than an hour. If they’re good enough for Elle, they’re good enough for your valentine!

5. Did you tragically miss out on the gorgeous Multi-color Glitter Stone Stud earrings that Kate Spade carried over the holidays? Me too. If I’m only drawing your attention to this bad news now, I’m so sorry. Not to worry though! This ingenious DIY from Shore Society will have you armed with a pair for your valentine (or yourself – I wouldn’t be able to resist!) in no time and, truly, they look as good as the originals. I’m in love!

6. If your valentine is experiencing winter in a colder climate, these DIY hand warmers are an adorable, loving way to tell someone you think they’re hot! Minimal sewing skills required and the designer, Rae, has even included a printable card to include with the hand warmers explaining how to heat and, well, handle them. Such a thoughtful gift!

7. My Hibernate with Me pillowcases are one of my favorite DIYs ever and I’ve made it so easy for you with images and text you just download and print. Grab some photo transfer printer paper and your iron and you’re in business! These take just a few bucks and less than an hour – they’re beloved by…everyone!

8. I spend so much time ogling projects put out by the contributors of the Purl Bee, the blogging spot from the creators of Purl SoHo, that it’s a wonder that I, myself, am not so much better at knitting, crocheting, and sewing. Truly, I’m a disaster. This Railroad Tote is a fantastic example of why I keep coming back to their site, though – it’s current, super useful, and a project I feel confident trying because of their awesome, step-by-step tutorials. I love that this tote appeals to the masses both in its style and function – what valentine of yours doesn’t need an extra place to stash their stuff or carry home their groceries?

9. The title of this DIY toiletry bag on Polkadot Chair is “Dad’s Travel Bag,” but this case is great for anyone, of any gender, when they’re planning to be out of town. I especially love that creator, Melissa, used such a bold, fun fox pattern on the inside to give it a little something special. This is a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for long distance loves – whether they be boos or friends – to remind them how much you look forward to their next visit.

10. Can you tell I really value organization and things having their place? Here’s a great tutorial for these adorable DIY clay jewelry dishes from Hello Natural. Aren’t they just so sweet with their scalloped edges and bright, bold paint job? These would be great paired with a set of scented tea lights candles so your valentine can use them as a candle dish to light up their bubble baths or in any other part of the house. For a finishing touch, wrap the metal exterior of the tea light with a washi tape that coordinates with the colors you chose for the dish. Instant hit!

I hope these DIY gifts inspire you and make you a hit among all your many loves for the big V-Day. You’ve got two weeks to go – get crackin’, lovies!

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for your Best Friend

Valentine's Day 2015 Gift Guide1. Notebooks, Day Planners & Address Books  |  2. Sequin Heart Clip or Pin
3. Handmade Cotton Napkins  |  4. Glass Jewelry Box in Bronze
5. Bon Appétempt: A Coming-of-Age Story (with recipes!) by Amelia Morris
6. I’m not Bossy. I’m the Boss! Mug  |  7. Personalized Stationery
8. Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Film Camera

As promised, I’m posting today with a Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for your Best Friend…or, you know, any friend that you want to show a little love for this time of year. Some of very best Valentine’s Day memories are shared with friends, especially one where a feast was prepared that ended in chocolate lava cakes! Such good memories and, truly, reminders that friends can be the greatest loves of your life. I feel that way about a few of mine.

My gift ideas here span budgets and interests, but I’m particularly drawn toward the cotton napkins from CuteBrightThings for any friend or loved one that likes to cook and entertain. This orange floral set is so bold and gorgeous and at $18 for four, it’s a great gift idea. I’m also loving the jewelry box in bronze from H&M. It comes in a few colors, but the bronze is so pretty and chic. Who doesn’t need an extra holding spot for all of their baubles? Amelia Morris’ cookbook is another idea for the cook in your life, but it’s also supposed to deliver a really lovely story. It comes out next week and I absolutely cannot wait. I’ve been a reader of her blog, Bon Appétempt, for years and her writing is always funny, familiar, and touching. I haven’t bought a cookbook in a long time – I mostly check them out from the library – but this is definitely one I’ll be buying for myself and a friend!

What are you gift ideas for friends on Valentine’s Day? Do you have any friend memories from V-Day’s past?

Long Distance Love Mugs

I will easily get behind any holiday that advocates for reminding important people in your life that you love them. Every time I hang up the phone or part ways with a dear friend I tell them I love them; residual effects of being raised in a loud, Italian-American family who are verbose with their feelings – both good and bad. But even if I remind friends on the regular how much they mean to me, the idea of reaffirming it on Valentine’s Day feels extra special.

With two of my dearest friends on opposite coasts – New York and California – and me, smack dab in the middle, I wanted to make a little care package for each to celebrate the day. While I knew I’d certainly put together some kind of baked good, I wanted to add something even more personal to the mix. I’ve had the tutorial for these mugs pinned for what feels like forever and thought they’d be perfect for a V-Day surprise. I love how these came out overall, though there are a few caveats I’ll get to in a bit. They’re super adorable and deliver the message that, despite the miles, we’re always connected.

The first step in creating a set of these mugs is figuring out how to align your states and the cities you’re each in. Imagine them outlined on the mugs, calculate about where you will place your hearts, and then decide on the layout. For example, if I had made California my left mug and Minnesota my right mug, my dashed line would have had to travel around the bulk of each state to connect and that would, in my opinion, look too busy. Once you have your sides situated, you’re ready to start drawing.

You may think you have to have awesome freehand skills for a craft like this, but you have infinite chances to get the shape of the state exactly as you want it before you finish in Sharpie. The shape is first done with a pencil eyeliner – keep the liquid for your cat-eyes, femmes! – making it easy to wipe off slip-ups. Of which there will, most likely, be many. Don’t fret though. You’ve got this! I practiced drawing the shapes of the states I needed a few times on paper and then with the eyeliner, wiping and re-doing as I went. Eventually, it becomes much more about learning how to control the softness of the eyeliner pencil and the pressure you apply. Just think: the state outline is only a jagged little shape and if you practice on paper first, you’ll figure out its edges and proportions in no time. Patience is key.

Once you have your eyeliner outline of the states complete, go over it with Sharpie. It might seem like the Sharpie isn’t cutting through the grease of the eyeliner completely and in some places that will be true. When your outline is complete, give it a few minutes to dry completely and then go in and wipe the eyeliner layer off with a paper towel. You want to make sure it is completely free of eyeliner. If you encounter some tough, extra smudgy spots, breathe a little hot breath onto it and buff. Now you can go over the Sharpie outline a second time to make it truly opaque and fill in spots where there might have been some skipping. I used a gold and red Sharpie that I had on hand to place the cities, though even a small black heart or asterisk would work if you only have one color. Design the remainder of the mug as you’d like. I couldn’t help adding some sass to the backside of the mug for my bestie in NYC.
Once all of your Sharpie work is complete, allow the mugs to set for at least 24 hours. This allows them to completely dry and set up to prepare for curing. When the 24 hours has passed, stand the mugs on a baking sheet and place them in a cold oven. Set the temp to 400° and allow them to bake for an hour. When time is up, turn the oven off and allow them to cool completely in the oven. This could take several hours, so you should plan to cure the mugs on a day when you’re ordering take-out for dinner. When you remove the mugs from the oven, allow them to sit another 24 hours. You may notice the Sharpie has faded slightly in some spots; my red turned nearly orange and the gold metallic lost a little luster. If this happens, don’t despair. We’ll fix it in just a moment.

But first: most tutorials I’ve read say you’re finished after you’ve let your mugs cool post-curing. Those same tutorials are littered with comments about how the Sharpie rubbed off as soon as they were washed. Not being able to bear the idea of my new mugs being destroyed, I riddled my brain trying to come up with a solution. Then it hit me: Mod Podge! When all else fails, Mod Podge Like a MotherFucker (MPLAMF)!

For those of you new to crafting or who haven’t encountered Mod Podge before, it is a glue, sealant, and finish that dries clear and, depending on the variety, glossy. It also doesn’t wash off with water. At least it hasn’t in my initial tests. It’s perfect for this project and helps seal the Sharpie to stay put. Perfect! Before you MPLAMF though, now’s the time to fix any fading that may have occurred or light spots you may have noticed on your mugs. I don’t suggest major repairs, like going over all of your lines, because you won’t be re-curing and I’m not certain if the Mod Podge is enough to seal the uncured Sharpie. If you notice, however, that the heart faded or you have a knick in a letter, fill it in now.

Ok, now we’re ready to MPLAMF! Take a thin, angled paint brush dipped lightly in Mod Podge (Gloss) and just follow the outline of your states, the dashed lines, cover the hearts, whatever you drew. You don’t need to completely cover the mug, though you certainly could. I find it really hard to get a smooth line with Mod Podge even with a foam brush, so I chose to simply paint the individual marks and not the whole side of the mug.

Can you see the Mod Podge on the finished product? If you look really close, yes, but it’s, essentially, the top coat to the mani! If it makes the design stay and doesn’t alter the finish, that’s more important to me. I did three thin coats, letting them dry to the touch between coats and then let them set another 24 hours. If the mugs are just going to be for show, used for holding pens and pencils on a desk (cute!), you can skip the Mod Podge altogether. But if you want to try and enjoy your favorite hot beverage out of them or share in tea time with your bestie across the miles, take the extra half hour and seal them. It’s important to note these mugs will never be dishwashable – even with the Mod Podge. You will always need to hand wash these gently. They might not last as long as your friendships, but this trick will definitely extend the life of your very fancy new mugs.

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Your Boo or Bestie

1. Best Bitches Necklace Set | 2. Leather iPhone Wallet
3. You’re My Lobster Greeting Card | 4. Tocca’s “Stella” Perfume | 5. The Cowboy Comb
6. Thrill of the Taste Shaker Set | 7. Frilly Lingerie Heart Panties
8. Onyx Pentagon Drop Earrings | 9. Wall-Mounted Bear Head Bottle Opener
10. Je T’Aime Pendant Necklace | 11. Printend Angora Fingerless Gloves
12. Clothes Horse Pocket Square Club | 13. The Sriracha Cookbook
14. Portland General Store Cigar Box Toiletry Sampler

Haters gonna hate. But be that as it may, Valentine’s Day is coming and even if you’re currently without a boo, isn’t it still kind of fun to think of making your best friend, office mate, or favorite relative your “someone special” just for the day? Some of my best Valentine’s Days were spent with a friend or two making a great big dinner for ourselves and watching movies or going bowling. I know the whole holiday is fueled by consumerism and here I am adding to the problem, but in the middle of February, I welcome the over-saturation of everything pink and sparkling. It’s also far enough from the holiday season where a small, thoughtful present to you from any kind of sweetie in your life, and gifting them as well, is good for your dreary winter soul. Trust me on this one, I’m a doctor…of philosophy, but still.

So, if you are celebrating and shopping for someone, but need some ideas or inspiration, fear not! I combed all of the Internet hot spots for you and put together some potential gifts that range across price points and interests. I think it’s a pretty great selection! Also, you’ll note that it’s not broken into categories of any kind, including gender. Here at Femme Fraîche we believe gender has its place, but we also believe in disrupting the compulsory cultural assumptions that are made about it. I think you and I are just too dang smart to think that “feminine” and “masculine,” are static, unchanging categories that only look one way and only include certain set characteristics. Thus, the list above is a sampling of ideas; none of which are attached to a specific gender or identity because I trust you’ll know which direction to go based on who you’re buying for and also because, frankly, doesn’t everyone in creation want that bear face bottle opener, anyway?? Right. I thought so.