Present Projects: A Few Sweet & Personal Gift Ideas

Woot! Yesterday we OFFICIALLY BROKE GROUND ON THE BIG DECK PROJECT! Although breaking ground is a bit of an overstatement since we are not even close to digging post holes yet – we’re still working on getting our ledger board up (those are the support beams that run along both sides of the house to start the deck frame). Let’s just say that cutting and drilling into brick – especially brick that makes up the side of your house – is not for the faint of heart. So we still have a long way to go, but we’ll be back on Monday to share our progress! Until then here’s an Instagram sneak peek that I snapped of Clara playing Job Site Supervisor while peering through the sliding glass doors (you can actually see some ledger boards hung against the house in the reflection):

But back to the real subject of this post: present projects. You know we love a project. Especially when it’s personalized. May is always a busy month for gift-giving in the Petersik family. Not only did we have Clara’s birthday and Mother’s Day back-to-back, but in the past two weeks we’ve also marked my mom’s birthday, Sherry’s mom’s birthday, my sister’s wedding anniversary and my parents’ wedding anniversary (their 40th!). So there are lots of milestones to be celebrated… and lots of gifts to be given. But we’ll spare you a run-down of every unwrapped gift and just show you some of the highlights – mainly the things we designed/put thought into customizing and personalizing with a little DIY design input.

Let’s rewind first to Mother’s Day, when I coordinated with my three sisters to give our mom a gift that was inspired by our visit to Richmond’s Spring Bada-Bing craft fair in April. Look familiar?

Those are the Articipe prints that we spotted at the craft fair, and I ordered four custom prints for my mom (there was a “buy 3 get one 1 free” deal going on, so it was $75 for the four 5 x 7 prints and $20 for the four Ikea Ribba frames). I loved that my three sisters went in on them with me so they could be from all of us (we each selected our favorite recipe of my moms and they were apparently so iconic that my mom could guess which person picked each one). She had given each of us a collection of her go-to dishes after we graduated, so were able to use that to get the recipes just right.

I chose “Chicken Squares,” which is some old Pillsbury recipe that I’ve made so often I can basically do it with my eyes closed (this version listed here is similar, but not exact, to what my mom cut out of a magazine at least a few decades ago). Of course the Articipe version came out much more beautiful than any recipe I learned off of!

The recipes my sisters chose were Black Bottom Cupcakes, Dutch Babies, and Derby Pie – and we were sure to chose a color scheme that worked with my parents’ kitchen decor. Of course the Black Bottom Cupcakes had to be in black:

My sisters and I actually had a great time picking the recipes and reminiscing about our favorites – wondering when we last had a certain meal and comparing what was popular with my mom at what time (there are 13 years of age between my oldest sister and youngest sister, so things evolved a bit throughout our childhood).

My mom loved them. And after accurately guessing which of us had chosen each recipe, in true form she pointed to a Derby Pie that she had brought with her to our Mother’s Day celebration. Love you mom!

While we’re on the topic of my parents, let’s switch celebrations to their anniversary. Specifically, their 40th wedding anniversary (thanks all who congratulated them when I posted this Instagram pic of the breakfast we whipped up for them last Sunday morning).

But breakfast wasn’t our gift. Though the present was once again meal related – and also in the vein of commemorating something my sisters and I grew up with. Before any sit-down meal growing up we would always say grace. We held hands and said the same words every time: “Thank you God for a pretty day.” I’m not sure the origins of it, nor why we adopted “pretty” as the adjective to describe our gratitude but it has been something we’ve said for decades. And the other day it struck me just how meaningful the saying was: we were walking in the park with Clara when Sherry and I each took one of her hands. She took holding hands as a cue and shouted “Thank you PRETTY DAY!!!” We couldn’t stop laughing.

So that night I whipped up this graphic in Photoshop (the small font is Bangla MN found on my Mac, the other is Freebooter Script downloaded here):

I then hunted down this listing for a custom platter on Etsy and emailed my sisters with the idea. They were in, so we ordered it (it was $70 with shipping) and a couple of weeks later this came in the mail:

We figured they can display it or actually use it to serve food on, that way our sweet little family grace is present at every meal in more ways than one. But whatever the use, we were all just so happy they liked it as much as they did. My sister managed to capture some shots of the gift-opening this weekend, but this is the only one I’ll dare share. Once it was actually opened there were some tears going on – and I know better than to post photos of any of our family members’ cry-faces.

I have to admit that I was tempted to make a gag version based on the time my dad slipped and accidentally said “Thank you God for a pretty face.” Something tells me this was the better choice though…

Oh, and if you’re wondering what Clara, Burger, and I gifted Sherry for Mother’s Day – well, among other things (like the flowers shown here) we finally got Sherry two of those West Elm Hive Vases she has ogled for at least a straight year. Here they are hanging out on the fireplace mantel in the kitchen. You know we have a thing for bees

And there was also the One Word A Day journal that Sherry mentioned back in this post. It was on sale for $5 at Urban Outfitters so I thought it’d be a fun addition to Sherry’s journaling tendencies.

Of course in true mother-ing fashion, Sherry’s using it to document Clara. She thought it’d be fun to write down a new word Clara was saying, but ultimately decided it’s more entertaining to write full sentences or conversations that Clara’s cracking us up with – like this one that coincidentally happened after saying grace one night. Yes, she thought we were saying “a man” instead of amen. So naturally she wanted to include a lady too.

Anyone else have a gift-tastic month? Did you get (or give) anything particularly designed or personalized? Is anyone else excited like me that a quieter celebration month is upon them? Or at least a month where they get to be celebrated – hello Father’s Day!

Psst- Speaking of presents, we shared a sweet one that Clara got for her birthday over on Young House Life.

Pssssst- We announced this week’s giveaway winner, so click here to see if it’s you.


    • Marcee .... ILLINOIS says

      Hi Sherry & fam ….!

      Wondering …. the new deck going up soon, what materials will be used?

      Our deck is 17+ years old. Totally unsafe … cannot be used any longer. Sooo, it must be completely demolished.

      Would like your opinions re TREX …. instead of any types of wood. Mainly, because they are treated with chemicals and will never last. Just a waste of money and the labor involved in building wood decks.

      Thanksabunch Sherry. Liking your blog a lot.

      Enjoy Sunday.

  1. says

    May WAS a big month for gift-giving. Yeesh. I absolutely love those articipes. I am gonna have to remember those. Sidenote: Was it weird for you to buy black Ribba frames? (hahaha)

    John, we (I) need a father’s day gift guide for my DIY hubby, Chris. A work bench? Or does DIY go to scrap for father’s day? What are you eyeing?

    • says

      Hahaha, the funniest thing is that a reader bumped into us at Ikea and later commented to ask if we were changing our tune about frames since they saw black ones in our cart. Haha. We explained they were gifts and all was right with the world. Haha.

      As for Father’s Day, I think any tool goes (John is in love with some new Dremel set, would love a hammer drill, etc). I think you can’t go wrong with something DIY themed for a DIY-loving hubby!


  2. emily says

    “Amen… And a lady!” is the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.

    Lovely gifts, and I cannot wait to see deck progress!

  3. Christie says

    You guys mentioned two things I am currently crushing on. Those awesome Articipe prints. I have been obsessed since you first mentioned them. And the hive vases at West Elm. They are perfection! I love them sooo much! I am going to bite the bullet and treat myself to both. :-) Great post!

  4. Andi says

    Hi there!
    This post actually made me cry! Other than Clara’s birth story, I haven’t cried while reading your blog. BUT, the recipes were a great choice on gifts, and it reminded me so much of something my mother would have loved. She passed away two years ago from cancer, and she was such a good model of a mom, and a great cook. Good choice on a gift – it is something Sherry’s mom passed to her, and now you get to give back to her in such a fun and unique way! Spending time with your parents and showing them love is something you will never regret. Good job guys!

  5. Vanessa says

    It’s so nice to see you two having so many traditions and specials things you do with your family. Everything you do has so much meaning. I teared up just hearing about your presents. Clara is so cute with her prayers- and adding a lady.

    Also, good luck with your deck building, I cannot to see what great things you do with that! I am loving your new patio furniture, your patio is looking amazing.

    Have a great weekend!!!

  6. says

    I love hearing that you are teaching Clara to pray! The thought of y’all holding hands and praying around the table is beautiful and makes me smile. I would love to hear more about your faith and how you are teaching/showing Clara about God. As a new mom I am always looking for new ways to reveal the glory of God to her. Children are such blessings!

  7. Carly says

    It’s really ironic that this post talks about the Articipe’s. I just rechecked that post the this week because I wanted to make something similar for a gift for my Mom and sister. Thanks for sharing! (the first time and again!)

  8. says

    That family prayer story seriously made me tear up! (a little embarassing to do at work). I love that so much, and what a great reminder to both kids and parents to be grateful for the little things.
    Also seriously love those recipe prints. I need to choose some of my own…

  9. says

    Lovely stories of your birth families and your new family. Tear-worthy, really. So Thank you God for a pretty day and for loving, strong families.

  10. Brenda says

    Personal gifts are always the best kind. The platter is so pretty!

    It’s so great that you write down funny Clara quotes. I used to work in a group home for adults with disabilities, and the staff kept a book of crazy quotes and conversations. It was always good for a few laughs, and it was especially nice since there were so many of us; we could keep up on the funny stuff that happened during other people’s shifts.

  11. Karen says

    All of these are such thoughtful gifts!

    Also John, I have to point out your dad’s VT shirt… GO HOKIES :)

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