Hostess Gift Ideas

We’re traveling a lot in the next month. We’re going to be seeing people we don’t often see, attending a few weddings, and staying with friends. Now that we’re adults and lucky enough to have friends willing to house us, we bring host(ess) gifts with us as a small thank you. I prefer to bring something special from Portland or something I made with my own two hands.

I’m trying to keep in mind that whatever I bring needs to travel in my suitcase across the country; so small, light weight, and not too fragile is best.

Some of the ideas I’m considering:

Apple Stamped Table Runner from Design SpongeI think table linens are almost always an excellent gift. I love this apple stamped (with a real apple) table runner tutorial from Design Sponge. It has an easy to follow tutorial with beautiful photos.

Textured Picture Frame from A Beautiful MessA Beautiful Mess has a fun tutorial for turning a plain jane picture frame into something special. This would make a special gift filled with a meaningful photo.

Stash Baskets from The Purl BeeFor a crafty friend especially, I love the gift of a few stash baskets. Maybe with a few crafty bits and bobs to add to their stash or get it started. This tutorial from The Purl Bee is detailed and straight forward.

Triangle Bag from Between The LinesI know that everyone has a million cloth shopping bags these days. But mine certainly don’t look like this. I’d be happy to trade a few of my boring ones in for these stylish canvas bags. I can only imagine my hosts would be happy to do the same. The super simple tutorial from Between the Lines is here.

Note: All photos in this post belong to their respective and linked sites.

Art to Covet

Art Wall | Red Circle Crafts

J and I have been buying art lately from some artists that we really admire. We’re lucky enough to afford to deck our walls in awesome prints and a few original pieces. Here’s some amazing artists that we’re fortunate enough to have a few pieces from.

Maryanna Hoggatt - Animal Battle: Eyes + HandsMaryanna Hoggatt | website |shop | instagram

Great & Small - Rhino! Mounted Animal HeadGreat & Small | shop | instagram

Laura Frisk Art - Block Printed Wall HangingsLaura Frisk Art | shop | instagram

Berkely Illustration - Cheetah Art PrintRyan Berkley Illustration | shop | instagram

I’m sure these artists have other forms of social media. But my personal love of Instagram wins out on the linking party happening here.

Note: All of these photos (excepting the first) belong to the linked sources.

Crafting For The Dapper Baby

Bow Tie Onesie | Red Circle Crafts

A friend of mine was trying to find a dapper outfit for her newborn son to wear to a Twenties-Style wedding reception. Surprisingly difficult to accomplish. Which is fair, because who wants to put their newborn in anything but onesies or those little kimono shirts.

Everything changed when I found this tutorial from Make It & Love It for a vest and bow tie onesie.

I modified it a bit, but frankly it’s brilliant. I already have plans for adding snaps to larger sizes of onesies and re-using the bow ties. So this kid can continue to be dapper for the rest of his baby-hood. I hear that it’s the sort of thing that can continue into adulthood if you plan correctly.

Bow Tie Onesie | Red Circle Crafts


  • Pinstriped knit fabric for the vest (no need to finished the seams because knits don’t unravel the same way that other woven fabric does)
  • I added a little bit of transfer fusing web* to attach the vest in a few key places before I sewed it on so that it didn’t get stretched out or slide around when I was sewing it into place.
  • I also used my own pattern for the bow ties, but the bow tie pattern here should work just as well.

I’ve been on a roll making baby clothes lately. Did you see the adorable 18 mo size baby shirt I made for a first birthday present on my Instagram? Also aren’t these baby harem pants adorable! Those green ones are just an excuse to use some of the scraps of Better Than Jam fabric I still have lying around.

Baby Harem Pants | Red Circle Crafts

*This is an affiliate link. I make a few cents if you purchase this product through this link. Mostly though I want to show exactly what I’m talking about.

Handmade Mother’s Day Cards Round Up

I am not at all prepared for May this year. Three birthdays, Mother’s Day, a wedding to attend out of state and all I want to do is be outside in the beautiful weather. Having spent the last few days in the sunshine, I feel much more prepared to tackle to my to do list. Top of that list is making Mother’s Day cards so they can go in the mail this week. (Hi Mom.)

Here are are a few that grabbed my attention. Apparently flowers are the thing this year.

Paper Flower Card Tutorial from The House That Lars BuiltI love all the paper flowers from The House That Lars Built, but this is perhaps my favorite DIY from there.

Monogrammed Printable Note CardsOn the other end of the spectrum for time invested in card-making are these lovely floral printable cards from Elegance and Enchantment. I think the M makes a nice Mother’s Day card, but a handful of blank ones with Mom’s initial wouldn’t be remiss either.

Mother's Day Pop Up Card from Martha Stewart I love pop-up cards. This is a pretty fancy one from Martha Stewart. The comments say that the tutorial is a little lacking, but the video makes it all much clearer.

Mother's Day Card | Red Circle CraftsLastly, here’s what I made last year.

All photos in this post belong to their respective and linked sites (except the last one which is mine).

DIY Hanging Planter

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

I bought another plant that I’m going to kill. An impulse buy, I decided to trust the person at the grocery store that “sure, this plant will be fine in filtered light.” I’m fairly certain that people don’t believe me when I tell them that I have no direct sunlight in my apartment. Yes, I live in a cave. Or at least cave-like.

I finally looked up the plant I bought on reverse image search. It definitely prefers sun. It’s a Kalanchoe Paddle Plant. And it’s adorable. I totally fell for it’s pretty face.

The moral of this story is that I am not allowed to impulse buy plants. I only trust people at nurseries. And I need to remember to find plants for my environment; I’m not able to change my environment to suit a plant’s needs.

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

A botanist friend has beautiful orchids that he grows in his garage with grow lights, climate control, the whole she-bang. He tells me that the hardest part about growing plants is figuring out what they need and then providing it for them. As soon as you try to fit a plant that’s not suited to your environment into your life, it’s destined to fail.

Even though I’m destined to fail, I’ve moved the plant to the brightest spot in the apartment and hope to put off the inevitable. I even made a hanging planter for it.

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

Clean & Empty Can (large enough to fit your plant and then some)
Clean & Empty Plastic Container (small enough to fit inside the can)
Craft Knife
Spray Paint
Hole Punch
Small ring (key rings work great)

Put your plastic container inside the can and mark where to cut. Use the craft knife (or scissors if it’s soft enough plastic) to cut the top off your plastic container. You want the plastic container to sit just under the lip of the can when it’s cut.

Turn your plastic container upside down and put in drainage holes. I put one in each of the petals of the bottom of the soda bottle. Make little Xs with your craft knife and then gently fold up a triangle for each X.

If you’re planning to hang this, take your hole punch and punch three roughly even-spaced holes just under the rim of the can. It takes a bit of elbow grease, but is definitely doable.

Paint your can in a well ventilated area. I like to invert it on top of another can or something thin, but taller than it so that edges don’t get stuck to anything while it’s drying. Just make sure it’s stable! I usually spray in one area and then move it to a more protected area with a fan on it to dry. And it’s awful to tip over a freshly painted can.

I used chalkboard paint*, but any paint will do!

My can took two coats of paint and then I let it dry overnight even after it was dry to the touch.

Re-pot your plant into the plastic container.

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

Figure out where you want your plant to hang and how long the string needs to be. Cut a little more than double that length in string three times. Take one piece of string, fold it in half and tie the folded part to the ring. Do the same thing with each piece of string. You’ll have three knots in a row on the ring with the ends of the strings all hanging down to the same height. Now use the measurement of how long your plant will hang down and mark with a felt pen on all the strings. Tie each pair of strings to a hole on the can. Use the mark on each string as the point to make the knot so you get three even strings.

Hang up your can by the ring then place your newly potted plant into the can.

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

Tips for hanging:

I used cup hooks*, but I only have small plants hanging from them. And I made sure they’re screwed directly into wood. If you aren’t going to put a hook into a stud, make sure you anchor it. If you weigh the new potted plant, can, etc, someone at a hardware store can direct you to what you’ll need to safely hang it.

Hanging Upcycled Planter | Red Circle Crafts

I’m still looking for full-shade, small house plants that won’t kill my cat. Recommendations are totally welcome.

PS That kitty planter DIY is here.

*These are amazon affiliate links. I make a few cents if you purchase these items through my links.

DIY Plush Toy Wish List

Shark Monster from Karen's Monsters

This post from Wild Olive recently has me thinking about my favorite part of a project. My very favorite part is stuffing plush toys. It might in fact be why I make so many plush toys. I love the moment when it goes from a 2-D image to 3-D. When it all of a sudden becomes real. It’s really between one pinch of fluff and the next. It’s like I can’t really see what the personality is going to be until then. That’s usually the point it gets a name and story too.

Here are some of the projects I’ve been eying. Even though I make a lot of my own patterns for softies, I love to see and adapt from other people’s ideas.

Snuggle Bunny and Kitty from GingermelonI love these sweet faces on the Snuggle Bunny and Kitty from Gingermlon. The stitching details and the blushed cheeks are all superb. But honestly, it’s the ears that do it for me.

Secret Notes Monkey DIY from A Beautiful MessI must have a thing for embroidered eyelashes right now. These sleepy monkeys from A Beautiful Mess have little pockets for notes. I can totally imagine making two of them in not quite matching fabric to live on my bed with their tails crossed just like this.

Black Forest Felt Antlers from One More MushroomThese amazing felt antlers from One More Mushroom are not technically plush toys as they hang on the wall. But really how amazing are they! Is it just me that has a fascination with child-decor?

All the photos in this post belong to their respective and linked sites (except the first, which is mine).

Masking Watercolors Tutorial

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

April is National Letter Writing Month according to the USPS. So this seems like a good time to make some stationary. This is a super easy project to make your own cards and get to play with watercolors.


Wax Resist Sticks*
Watercolor Paints
Large Square Paintbrush
Watercolor Paper
Palette (or something to use as a palette)
Jar or Cup for Water

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

I had hoped that I could use a white colored pencil to make a more fine line on my cards, but they didn’t turn out as well as I’d hoped. I ended up going out and buying the wax resist sticks from my local art supply store as well as some masking fluid (see after the tutorial for a comparison of all three of these products).

Step One

Draw out your design. I taped up a design I liked to the window and a piece of watercolor paper on top of it and then traced out the design I wanted. You can also try drawing freehand. If you draw freehand, keep in mind that it’s hard to see the wax on the white paper, so a loose, messy design is probably going to work out best.

Note: If you want to make folded note cards, score and fold the paper now so you place your design in the right place.

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step Two

Paint! Use a large paint brush and not too much water. More saturation of color works better for this project, so bright or darker colors and the minimum amount of water to flow across the page.

Try moving around in an circular motion to create a shape on the page, or a series of swipes all in the same direction. Allow the colors to mix on the paper instead of on the palette. If you’ve never painted a watercolor wash before, I recommend checking out this tutorial for the process.

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step Three

Let the paint dry almost all the way and then very very carefully using a paper towel, tissue, or q-tip dab the paint from the waxed areas. It will bead up a bit on the wax, which looks pretty cool, but it will stand out more if you clean it off. Dabbing at the paper is counter-productive, but the paint on the paper will dry faster, so just a wait a few moments.

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Different Masking Options:

I first tried using a white colored pencil I already had at home. But it turned out like this:

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

You can almost see where it says Happy Birthday, right? I think maybe that particular colored pencil didn’t have enough wax to it. Not all pencils are created equal, I think. But I got so fed up that I went looking for something that I knew would work.

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

My local art store had this Art Masking Fluid and these Wax Resist Sticks. You can see above how the wax resist sticks did. They don’t have the same level of detail that the colored pencil might have, but I really like the messy look they provided.

The Masking Fluid* though is hands down my favorite. I could lightly draw (or use graphite transfer paper) a design on to the paper and as long as I cover up all of my pencil marks with the masking fluid I was able to erase my marks after the paint was dry and the masking fluid had been removed. I’m really excited to try out ALL of the projects with this masking fluid now.

Watercolor Masking Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Keep in mind that how well it works is mostly dependent on your painting or calligraphy skills. (The instructions on the bottle specified that it could be used like ink for a calligraphy pen.) I am not at all skilled with a calligraphy pen, but I’m not too bad with a paintbrush. So I painted this penguin with a paintbrush in the masking fluid and I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.

*These links are Amazon Affiliate Links. I make a few pennies off of these if you order from my links.


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