Tag Archives: gift ideas

Literary Wonderlands Book Review

Whether your heart belongs in The Shire, Hogwarts, Winterfell, Wonderland, Neverland, or Narnia, it’s clear that books have a way of transporting us to worlds unknown.  Since the Greek and Roman myths and the fairy tales of The Brothers Grimm, authors and poets have created magical places that oftentimes exist only in our imaginations.

Filled with new vocabulary, or sometimes new languages entirely, these literary worlds are often as much of a character to a book as the hero himself.  They give us a setting, a feeling, a grounding in our story and provide the framework to help us assemble these towns, cities, buildings, and universes in our heads.

But before we could dream up our own Hogwarts or create our own version of Camelot, someone had to give us the pieces.  What inspired these authors to create these magical places?  What was the basis for the school in Never Let Me Go, the characters of Narnia, or the language of the Dothraki?

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In Literary Wonderlands: A Journey to 100 of the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created, a team of editors and writers attempt to transport themselves into some of our favorite literary worlds and explore it as only the best travelers can.  Filled with beautiful illustrations and photos, each chapter in Literary Wonderlands is like a journey into another story and makes it oh so easy to be swept up in the magic of these otherworldly places.

Starting with ancient myths and legends like Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and Beowulf, and moving all the way into the computer age with favorites like The Hunger Games, Cloud Atlas, and A Game of Thrones, Literary Wonderlands features essays on 100 magical books that all feature, for lack of a better term, a literary wonderland.  Writers attempt to figure out the inspiration for these worlds, try to find the basis for the language and the make-up, and even sometimes try to pinpoint them geographically based on written descriptions and maps.

Though it’s jam-packed with fun tidbits and information, this book could easily be categorized as a coffee table book, just for the shear amount of illustrations and photography included here.  If the words don’t do enough to transport you, the photos surely will…and don’t be surprised if you end up adding a few books to your “To Read” list on Goodreads after reading this!

A beautiful book that’s just as eye-catching as it is informative, Literary Wonderlands is sure to add a few more stops to the literary road trip you dream up in your head.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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How to Make Watercolor Bookmarks

My dad used to live inside his books.  He would write notes in the margins and dog ear pages with his favorite quotes.  Pages would be wrinkled from spilled water or coffee and the spines of his books might hold crumbs or notes with quotes or drawings on them.  His books were alive with his essence and he immersed himself fully in the stories he read.

For me, my reading experiences are completely different.  I hate even cracking the spine of a new book.  When a book smells new, freshly pressed with ink and glue…it’s magical.  I almost never read or drink when I’m reading, for fear of damaging the pages and I never dog ear anything…rather just fill my book with little Post-Its or bookmarks to remind myself of favorite passages or quotes.

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As a reader, you really can’t have too many bookmarks…especially if you’re one to read more than one book at a time.  For me, anything can act as a bookmark.  Junk mail, ripped up magazines, paperclips…but why use trash to dirty your books when you can make your very own beautifully painted watercolor bookmarks?

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Painting with watercolors is so fun and easy…and it’s a great way to introduce yourself to painting if you’ve never painted before.

These lovely watercolor bookmarks are so easy peesy lemon squeezy…and you can add your favorite quotes to them and give them out as gifts or keep them for yourself!

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How to Make Watercolor Bookmarks

Materials:

  • Watercolor Paper
  • Watercolor Paint
  • Brushes (any variety will do, up to you!)
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Mod Podge or Glue
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Letter Stickers

Directions:
If you want to add a quote to your bookmark, you can either do it before or after you paint.  You can print it on your watercolor paper before painting anything or, if you have a snazzy printer, you can paint your bookmark and print your quote on later.  For me, I have a crappy printer…so I’m going to paint my bookmarks first, then add lettering with stickers.

  1. Using a ruler and a pencil, lightly trace the outline of your bookmark, making it as tall and as wide as you’d like it to be.
  2. Have fun painting!  Combine like colors for an ombre effect or mix and match to create amazing and unique designs.  If you’re struggling for inspiration, YouTube and Pinterest are great places to start!
  3. Once you’re done and your paper has dried, cut out your bookmarks.  I let mine sit under a heavy book for a few hours just to help it dry flat.
  4. For a sturdier bookmark, I glued mine to cardstock, then cut those out as well.  Place them under a heavy book to dry flat.
  5. If desired, you can punch a hole at the top and add a tassel for that traditional bookmark look.
  6. For my quote, I placed my stickers carefully with tweezers, then covered the whole bookmark with a very light coat of spray adhesive.  You can also use Mod Podge, but I like how spray adhesive doesn’t weigh the paper down or cause bubbles.

And there ya go!  A whole assortment of colorful and unique bookmarks that are just begging to be used!

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Sweet Notebook Paper Goodie Bags

My dad was a sucker for Valentine’s Day. He always showered my mom with cards and gifts and would get us kids little Valentine’s for our lunches.

I loved getting little Valentine’s from my dad, and with the holiday of love on the horizon, these Sweet Notebook Paper Goodie Bags make wonderful Valentine’s Day treat holders!

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Great for filling with candy, cookies, or just a sweet love letter, these adorable paper bags are super easy to make and only require a handful of supplies.

One sheet of notebook paper will make two bags, so don’t be surprised if you create a whole bunch of bags in less than a few hours!

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Also fun for birthday party favors or just for wrapping a simple gift for someone, these cute paper goodie bags are just as fun for kids as they are for adults!

Sweet Notebook Paper Goodie Bags

Materials:

  • Notebook paper (1 sheet will make 2 goodie bags)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Stickers

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Directions:

  1. Cut your notebook paper in half hamburger style.  Fold short side of the notebook paper up to the red margin line.
  2. Bring other side of paper up to folded line, tucking it underneath the flap.  Fold.
  3. Place glue on underside of flap.
  4. Seal down to close.
  5. Fold bottom of bag up to middle of bag, creating a fold about 1.5 in. to 2 in. high.
  6. Open bottom fold and fold in both corners, forming two triangles.
  7. Add glue to long ends of triangles and bottom of bag, as shown in photo above.
  8. Fold top flap down to center line.
  9. Press to secure.
  10. Fold bottom flap up to close bag.
  11. Press to secure.
  12. If desired, cut pattern on top of bag.

Fill bag with whatever you’d like!  Fold to close and secure with a sticker or tape.

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Easy DIY Sharpie Mug

From craft fairs to Etsy shops, everyone is loving on the Sharpie Mugs. Often sporting quotes from some of our favorite TV shows, movies, and books, Sharpie Mugs are a fun and easy project for anyone to do (and they make great gifts for pretty much every occasion)!

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But first, a lesson.  Let’s talk tools.  The two things to keep in mind when creating your Sharpie Mugs are A) quality of your mug and B) types of markers you use. These two things will insure you have great results every time!

First off, the mug. For this project, the cheaper the mug, the better! You don’t want a mug that’s glazed beyond belief, as it will be hard for the markers to set on this surface. Shop the dollar store for cheaper mugs that don’t have layers of protective coating on them. You can always add coating yourself once your design is set.

Second, the markers. Though these are called Sharpie Mugs, not all Sharpies work here. The regular Sharpies will not last and will easily rub off your mug with a sponge or a run through the dishwasher. What you want are OIL-BASED Sharpies…these are like paint markers that will set and ensure long-lasting results. You can find oil-based Sharpies at almost any craft store.

Finally, I also suggest hand-washing these only for best results. Supposedly these mugs will survive washes in the dishwasher, but they’re sure to last longer if you take the time to just carefully wash them by hand.

So for my first Sharpie Mug project, I decided on this quote from Peter Pan. I really like how it turned out and can’t wait to create more mugs to add to my already large mug collection!

 

Easy DIY Sharpie Mug

Materials:

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  • Plain ceramic mug
  • Graphite Paper
  • Quote printed on computer paper
  • Scotch Tape
  • Ballpoint pen
  • Sharpie Markers (make sure they’re oil-based…regular Sharpies will wear off over time)

 

Instructions:
The graphite paper step is optional, but I love using it because I’m not artistically gifted when it comes to hand-lettering…so the graphite is an easy way to transfer your design onto the ceramic mug without having to sweat the details!

  1. Tape the graphite paper to your cup following the instructions on the package (I carefully ripped my graphite paper to a more workable size).
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  2. Tape your quote over the graphite paper.
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  3. Using the ballpoint pen, trace over your pattern.
  4. Remove both sheets of paper from the mug.  Your outlined quote will appear on the mug.  This is washable and will come off easily if you accidentally mess something up.
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  5. Once your design is how you want it, simply color over it with the markers.
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  6. After I colored in my quote, I wanted to add a few more details, so I threw in some flower sprays, just for fun!
  7. Once your design is done, let your mug dry a good long while…at least 2 hours, if not overnight.
  8. When it comes time to bake your mug, there are several schools of thought.  Here’s my way:  Place your mug in a cold oven (I put mine on a baking sheet for stability).  Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Let the mug sit in the oven for 30 minutes, starting from the time you put it in the cold oven.  After 30 minutes, turn the oven off and leave the mug in there until the oven has cooled completely.  This process will help prevent cracking, since the ceramic slowly gets used to the changing temperatures.
  9. Once your mug is cooled, you’re all done!  If you really want to set your design, you can repeat the entire baking process, but keep in mind the coloring of your design may change with further baking time.
  10. If you still have graphite paper trace marks on your mug, you can remove them with an ear swab or cotton ball dipped in warm water.

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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Harry Potter Book Cover Charms

Looking for a cute and easy gift idea for the bookworm in your life? Look no further, because these little book cover charms are just the most adorable thing in the universe.

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Everyone loves a gift that’s meaningful and budget-friendly, and that’s exactly what this Harry Potter Book Cover Charms Set is…

Made using a template and Polymer clay, these little charms can be used as ornaments, gift tags, or even wine charms for a literary party (I’m talking to you, book clubbers!).

I’ve attached the template I created to make these Harry Potter books, but you could make charms with any book covers you’d like! How cute would these look hanging from a Christmas tree or birthday gift? I’m just in love with them!

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I used regular printer paper to create these little charms, but if you can print on stiffer paper or cardstock, that might work better. The printer paper was a bit flimsy and didn’t really stick to the clay, but that’s nothing a little Mod Podge can’t fix! I’m gonna try cardstock next time and see if that works any better.

I literally can’t wait to create more of these little book charms! I might even make a garland that I can hang around my bookshelves or around my Christmas tree next year!

OK, I need to simmer down…

Harry Potter Book Cover Charms

Materials:

  • Harry Potter book cover template
  • Scissors
  • Polymer clay, in color of your choice
  • Clay rolling pin
  • Craft knife
  • Mod Podge glue
  • Brush
  • Quick-Dry tacky glue
  • Baker’s twine

Instructions:

  1. Print out your book covers on thick paper or cardstock, if you can.  Regular paper will work, but the stiffer paper will work better.  Cut out your book covers.
  2. Roll out your clay to about 1/4 in. thickness.  Place your book covers on the clay and, using your clay roller, gently press the covers into the clay.  It won’t be a secure stick, but the paper will stick better as the charms bake.  Using the craft knife, cut out the covers.
  3. Using the leftover clay, create seven little discs, about the size of your pinky nail.  These will help secure the string to the back of the charm.
    harry-potter-book-cover-ornaments1
  4. Bake your covers and discs following package instructions.  Watch your clay, though.  It may bake a lot faster than you think!
  5. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  6. Once cool, use a brush to add a thin layer of Mod Podge to the top of each book cover.  This will give your books a nice shine and will also help secure the paper to the clay.  Let dry.
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  7. Turn your covers over and add a small amount of tacky glue to the back.  Cut a piece of baker’s twine, about 3 – 4 in. long.  Fold in half.  Place two ends in glue, making sure loop rises above your charm.  Secure twine with small clay disc.  Let dry completely.
    harry-potter-book-cover-ornaments5

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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9 Edible Treats for Gift Giving

Though December is dominated by cookies of all varieties, not everyone is aboard the cookie train (I know, hard to believe!).  Some folks prefer homemade candies, while others love the combination of salty/sweet snacks.  For those who are looking for a little something different, here are 9 Edible Treats for Gift Giving that AREN’T Cookies!

Great for hostess gifts or for giving out along with your cookie plate, these edible candies and treats are an easy and cost-friendly alternative to baking batches and batches of cookies.  I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a die-hard cookie fan and every year my kitchen turns into a butter paradise in December…but I always try to include a little homemade candy arrangement as well.  It’s something different in terms of taste and texture and it’s a quick project to work on while my cookies bake away in the oven.

So if you’re looking for an easy candy recipe or something simple and quick to bring to your work cookie exchange, look no further than these 9 Sweet Treats that are Great for Gift Giving!

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Christmas Muddy Buddies
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Cinnamon Sugar Pretzels
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Homemade Turtle Clusters
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Homemade Peanut Brittle
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Vanilla Cinnamon Candied Almonds
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White Chocolate Tag-a-Lings
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Reindeer Rice Krispies
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Easy Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bites
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Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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5 Books to Gift to Book Lovers

So you have someone on your gift list who loves books, right?  Yeah, we all do.  But buying someone a book is a hard decision.  I mean, unless you have a really good idea of what they like (and what they own), buying a book is a big risk.

Thankfully though, I can help you!  As a book lover through and through, I’ve come across a few books that would make wonderful gifts for anyone who loves to read.  I myself actually own all of these and love them every time I decide to flip through them (My Ideal Bookshelf is probably my favorite!).

So whether you’re looking for a Christmas gift, a stocking stuffer, or a birthday present, these five books make great gifts for lit lovers of all ages!

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Fictitious Dishes

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Sometimes the most memorable part of a book is the food within the story.  In an effort to visualize the meals that bring some of our favorite stories to life, author Dinah Fried photographs several popular meals from literature.  Flip through to see the madcap tea party from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the gruel from Oliver Twist, the chicken breakfast from To Kill a Mockingbird and much more.  A wonderful coffee table book for readers who also love food.

Letters of Note

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Enjoy some of the world’s most entertaining, inspiring and unusual letters.  From Virginia Woolf’s heart-breaking suicide letter to Queen Elizabeth II’s recipe for drop scones, this collection, now in two volumes, is sure to be a well-loved gift!

My Ideal Bookshelf

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Ever wonder what your favorite authors, celebrities, and musicians love to read?  In My Ideal Bookshelf, editor Thessaly La Force gathers reading lists from some of today’s biggest names and puts the shelves together with the help of illustrator, Jane Mount, who creates a unique shelf of books for each entry.  Accompanying each illustration is a little essay from the contributor, explaining why these books make up their ideal book shelf.

Infographic Guide to Literature

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For those readers who love pictures, The Infographic Guide to Literature is a lovely and colorful collection of infographics having to do with literature.  This book includes visuals of the top books stole by consumers, track references of commonly used words, death counts and so much more!  This is one book that bookworms of all kinds are sure to treasure and read for years to come!

Lost in Austen

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A must-have for Jane Austen lovers, Lost in Austen is a choose-your-own adventure story set in the Austen universe.  The great thing about this book is that you can end up an old withered hag one time or marrying Mr. Darcy another time!  Filled with some of Austen’s most memorable characters, Lost in Austen is sure to delight!

 

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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