Homemade for the Holidays

I am happy to announce that another successful Christmas is in the books for the Kohlmann/Klein family.  Not that I can take any of the credit for hosting, of course, since those honors went to my mom this year (hi mom!).  We had a great time relaxing with family, including eating, cooking/baking, working on a 750 piece puzzle, and of course, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  While the wrapping paper dust settles, I thought I would share some of my favorite gifts given and received this holiday season in a special “homemade for the holidays” post, with a special guest appearance by Clark W. Griswold.

Keepsake Art

This Christmas, I wanted to make at least one DIY gift.  As a newly  self-proclaimed DIY blogger, I could have aimed higher, but sometimes you have to put aside the visions of sugarplum Pinterest dreams and focus on one thing at a time.  For this crafting project, I thought it would be fun to take some old keepsakes and turn them into art by using a shadowbox that I bought from Michaels in the fall.  If you’re interested in creating keepsake art, I highly recommend Michaels, and wait until they have a buy one, get one free deal on frames (this shadowbox was free!).

The gift was for my brother, who is currently pursuing acting full-time and taking gigs on TV, broadway, and movies to get some experience.  This past June,  he starred in an off-Broadway musical called The Zombies: A Musical which debuted on my birthday.  I was so impressed by his fun and energetic performance and am still so proud of him (sniff sniff, I’m getting emotional just thinking about it) that I wanted to put together a few of my keepsakes from the performances I attended.

To start, I cut out the front and back covers of the program book and printed out a photo that was taken of us on opening night.  We are adorable.

Next, I opened the shadowbox and took the back off to decorate it.  Instead of leaving the backing black, I decided to brighten things up with this red and white poka dot fabric from Spoonflower which I bought back in September 2013 to line the back of our bookshelf.  Since then, I’ve also used it to line the shelves of my office desk, so it’s gotten a lot of use over multiple projects.  Anyway, I cut this fabric to be the same size as the shadowbox backing material.

After attaching the fabric to the shadowbox backing with spray adhesive, I lined up my keepsakes and realized that there was something missing from making this look truly like art, so I decided to create a border around each item using some white cardstock.

I also had to crop one of the pieces so that all three would fit neatly in the shadowbox with their new white frames.  Here is the finished product with its rightful owner.  DIY gifting success!

Christmas Cards

I already shared the 2014 Klein Family Christmas card, which was mailed out to some of our family and friends over the holiday season.  However, Dan and I have created a holiday card-making tradition for ourselves too.  Way back when we started dating, Dan and I decided to make each other homemade cards for occasions like birthdays, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.  Even if we only had limited supplies in our residence hall rooms, we still made our project as fun and creative as possible.  This year was no different.

I’m not much for illustrating, so I usually take the easy way out and print out a funny picture or two, customizing the card with a cute quote.  This year, I had to focus on the Real Housecats of the Klein Family, Wallace and Wasabi.  They are superstars in their own right, and they  have also made it their mission to destroy everything in this house (frames, ornaments, candle holders, Lego displays, the list goes on…).  I added some Christmas cheer to brighten up the fact that we frequently have to deal with their destruction and hope that maybe, just maybe, they’ll make it to the nice list next year.  As for Dan’s Christmas card? Well, he had other plans.

Before I officially reveal Dan’s card, I want to put out a disclaimer: we both happen to be fans of one of the most ridiculous Christmas movies of all time, Jingle All the Waystarring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sinbad (yes, Sinbad).

I could easily recount the entire plot, but I’ll save you the trauma and let this picture speak for itself.  In the movie, Arnold is a workaholic dad and husband who accidentally tells his wife on the phone, “you’re my number one customer”, and it gets me every time.  This card could not be more perfect for me.  Plus, look at that artistic rendering of the Terminator himself.  Impressive.

Shopping Small

I also wanted to highlight two gifts that we received this Christmas which happen to be from small businesses. First, my cousin Allyson and her husband Brian sent us this amazing cedarmint-flavored soap from Critical Bath, Portland’s worker-owned soap cooperative.  It smells amazing and I’m super excited to use it, especially because Allyson works there!

My brother also went the shop-small route for one of our gifts and snagged us a homemade, New Jersey-themed kitchen towel from Catstudio.

Catstudio produces geographically themed products and they have a love for travel. I just love the colors and signature New Jersey items that they chose to highlight on this towel.  They have glassware, aprons, pillows, bags, and more.  Too cute.  Of course, I can’t forget one of my favorite non-homemade gifts this year…


There you have it: the 2014 Christmas roundup.  And as promised, a special appearance by Clark W. Griswold.

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