Wands for Leah’s party

Posted in Celebrations, Crafts on September 19th, 2021 by c-had – Be the first to comment

I made a bunch of wands for Molly's Hogwarts party and really enjoyed it. Knowing that Leah was going to have one of these parties as well, I started planning for hers right away. I thought I'd have 2.5 years to prepare, but ended up with 3.5.

I've learned a lot about wood working in the intervening years, so my process has improved. Also, I've been collecting small pieces of different woods over the years, with a goal that Leah's party would have a unique wood for each wand. I succeeded in that for the wands that were given out, and am very happy with the wands.

Here are all the wands I made for Leah's party. From left to right, they are Mahogany, Ash, Red Elm, Douglas Fir, Walnut, Purple Heart, Hickory, Cherry, Curly Maple, Red Oak, Bradford Pear, Poplar, Douglas Fir, and Cedar.


Ahd here's all the wood I started from.

Wand wood

The star of the show of course had to be Leah's wand. A couple years ago I mentioned that there was a purple wood called Purpleheart, and Leah requested a wand made of it for herself. She also requested this spiky handle, which was challenging to make but came out well. This was the only wand made with an exotic hardwood, and it really does look awesome. Purpleheart, 14 1/4", Phoenix feather core.

Purple Heart wand

We used to always get a live Christmas tree, but switched to artificial in 2019. In 2018, I cut off pieces of our last live Christmas Tree and dried them for a couple years for use in wands. I actually made two of them, though did not give any of them out to the guests. The first was for Molly, and was my first time painting a wand, which came out quite well. Douglas Fir, 13 3/4", Unicorn tail core.

Douglas Fir wand (Molly's)

The other wand from that Christmas tree was an experiment in making a wand without using my lathe. I took a branch, cut it to size, and hand carved the end. It actually came out quite nicely. We kept this one for sentimental reasons. Douglas Fir, 12 3/4", Phoenix feather core.

Douglas Fir wand

This Maple wand looked very cool thanks to the wood figuring, and I decided to keep it for my own. Curly Maple, 14", Phoenix feather core.

Curly Maple wand

Walnut, 13 3/4", Dragon heartstring core.

Walnut wand

Mahogany, 12", Dragon heartstring core.

Mahogany wand

Ash, 12 1/2", Phoenix feather core.

Ash wand

Red Elm, 13 1/2", Unicorn tail core.

Red Elm wand

Hickory, 14 3/4", Phoenix feather core.

Hickory wand

Cherry, 14 3/4", Dragon heartstring core.

Cherry wand

Red Oak, 13 3/4", Unicorn talk core.

Red Oak wand

Bradford Pear, 13 3/4", Unicorn talk core.

Bradford Pear wand

Poplar, 13 1/2", Unicorn talk core.

Poplar wand

This last one was also not given out, as we had one person unable to attend. Cedar, 10 1/2", Dragon heartstring core.

Cedar wand

All wands but one (as mentioned) turned on my lathe, finished with SealCoat dewaxed shellac and General Finishes High Performance polyurethane.

Harry Potter wand making

Posted in Celebrations, Crafts on April 4th, 2018 by c-had – 3 Comments

There are lots of tutorials on the web for how to make simple wands quickly and easily. This is not one of those posts. I wanted to go all out in making wands for Molly’s party, and I got very into it. If you’re into woodworking and looking to go all out on something like this, hopefully you’ll find this post helpful. And if you’re not interested in woodworking, and you read this anyway, hopefully you are entertained by someone going all out on something they love.

In this project, I wanted to:

  1. Use different kinds of real wood, just like Ollivander
  2. Turn them round with varying unique designs
  3. Include cores in them, like those in the Harry Potter universe
  4. Stain them to make them look good and distinct
  5. Seal them with polyurethane to make them smooth, shiny, and durable


After Christmas, I used some money I was given to order myself a lathe and some cutting tools to use with it. The cutting tools showed up quickly. The lathe itself ended up backordered, and they said it wouldn’t arrive until the end of March. This, of course, did not work for my plan.

So, I built a makeshift DIY lathe. I built a box to hold my drill steady, then built a simple support with a nail sticking out to hold the other side. Then I built a tool rest and put a clamps on top to give a hard place to rest the lathe tools.

Makeshift lathe
read more »

Day of service

Posted in Church, Crafts, Leah, Molly on March 16th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our church once again took part in the day of service on MLK day. There were lots of service activities, but the girls were most excited to sew pillowcases for kids in the hospital. So, we headed there first so the girls could use their skills.

Day of service

Molly sewing

Leah sewing

Completed pillowcases

We also made braided jump ropes. They took unwanted T-shirts and cut them up into strips, which we braided together and attached handles to.

Braided jump ropes

Braided jump ropes

We did some other things as well, but I apparently only got pictures of the crafty projects.

Ugly sweater

Posted in Crafts on March 4th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Jen was invited to an Ugly Sweater Brunch with some of the neighborhood ladies. Instead of buying a pre-made sweater, Jen got crafty and decorated one she found at a local thrift store. Molly said it was more cute than ugly!

Ugly sweater

Crazy Hair Day

Posted in Crafts, Leah, Molly, School on November 21st, 2016 by c-had – Be the first to comment

This year, the girls’ school had a Crazy Hair Day. They decided to go all out, thanks to a little help from their mom and Pinterest.

Crazy Hair Day

After becoming an expert in sock buns for Molly’s Leia costume, Jen quickly whipped up Molly’s donut hair. With the addition of real sprinkles, a few of Molly’s classmates were confused as to whether the donut was real!

Donut hair

Balanced plate

Leah’s classmates kept asking her if those were real M&Ms in her hair. She had to explain that yes, it was real, but it was Skittles. Didn’t they read the box?

Rainbow hair

Real Skittles

Molly made up this song about her hair for Crazy Hair Day at school.

Leah knew the right catch phrase for her Crazy Hair Day hair.


Posted in Celebrations, Crafts, Leah, Molly on November 1st, 2015 by c-had – 1 Comment

In preparation for Halloween, Jen got the girls some giant pumpkins, that we tried to carve at a party. We had some difficulties with tools there, though. Leah elected to paint her pumpkin, but Molly brought hers home to try again.

Pumpkin carving

The biggest preparation for Halloween is of course the costumes, though. Thanks to Jen, these are always awesome.

Since our trip to Callaway Gardens this summer, Molly has been in love with owls. So, she of course wanted to be one for Halloween. Jen planned to make these feathers and attach them to a hoodie, but she couldn’t find a girls brown hoodie. So, she just made the hoodie. She also made the mask, the skirt, and the leggings.

Also note the pumpkin Molly carved in the background. Yes, it’s an owl as well.

Owl costume

Leah had a lot of trouble picking a costume, but eventually decided to be Mittens Fluff ’n Stuff, one of the Lalaloopsy girls. Jen made the wig, shirt, leggings, socks, and vest. She was going to make a skirt until Leah reminded her she already owned a perfect skirt (though Jen did add the waistband to it). Jen and Leah together sewed the pet polar bear accessory.

The pumpkin in the back was painted by Leah as well.

Mittens Fluff 'n Stuff

These were all the costumes this year. The girls wanted to pick their own costumes rather than do a family costume. So, Jen and I went without costumes.


As usual, the elementary school has a costume parade. Leah enjoyed her first time dressing up and marching at school. She especially loved that her costume included a toy, which meant she could have that toy at school all day.

Costume parade

Molly of course marched as well. No surprise she was in line behind Jordan.

Costume parade

On Halloween day, trick-or-treating started early on Halloween with a trip to visit Grams.

Early trick-or-treat

Thanks Grams from some happy trick-or-treaters.

Thanks Grams

As we’ve done before, we gathered with some of the neighborhood kids to go trick-or-treating. This year we gathered a bit earlier to get a head start.

Neighborhood trick-or-treaters

We stuck with Jordan, Haley, and Madison again as we visited house after house gathering candy.


To close it out, here’s Molly’s lit-up owl jack-o'-lantern after a long night of greeting our trick-or-treaters.

Owl jack-o'-lantern

3-D Fun

Posted in Crafts, Leah, Molly on August 28th, 2015 by jen – Be the first to comment

Molly and Leah spent a week in August learning about 3-D crafts at the Howard County Arts Council. The week’s projects included creating a plaster bird, and designing and sewing a plush monster. Both girls love arts & crafts, so they had a fantastic week in camp together!

3-D Fun

Pumpkin carving

Posted in Crafts, Leah, Molly on October 31st, 2014 by c-had – 1 Comment

We finally got around to buying a couple of pumpkins to carve. We got them from the Baugher Farm stand right near our house. These two were perfect choices.

Pick a pumpkin

Time to carve the pumpkins. But first, let’s scoop some goop out.

Scoop the goop

Molly looks like she might just take a bite. OK, maybe not.


They needed some help getting the last bits out of the pumpkin. Mom to the rescue.

Little help

Molly selected her pattern and drew on the design herself this year, then Jen did the carving. I drew on the pattern Leah selected and then carved it.

Drawing the design

Here are some scary girls with their finished glowing pumpkins.

Scary finished product

With the lights off, the girls are scary, but with the lights on they’re just scared.


We love our teachers!

Posted in Crafts on May 10th, 2013 by jen – Be the first to comment

I may not have had my sewing machine on hand, but I still found a way to be crafty for Teacher Appreciation week. Mod Podge became my new best friend!

Leah has been attending My First School through Howard County RAP. She has had a fabulous year and was so excited to give her teachers their new clipboards.

Teacher appreciation gifts

Molly and Leah both loved helping paint these word blocks for Molly's teacher. They spell at least 14 school related words. I dropped them by the school along with some White Chocolate Macadamia Nut bars. I had to smile when Molly came home with a Thank You note and I read, "Once again, you prove to be the craftiest mom ever!"

Kindergarten word blocks

My Christmas crafts

Posted in Crafts, Sewing on January 4th, 2013 by jen – Be the first to comment

Like the last several years, I handmade several of my Christmas gifts this year. Some of them have made it on the blog already, but many have not. So, I'll share them all.

You may recall that we spent an early Thanksgiving with my family in Memphis. I took the opportunity to give my niece and nephew a few gifts early so they could get the most wear out of them.

Tianna dress

Monster hats

Emmie loved her new Tianna dress!

A new outfit for Emmie

And really, how stinkin' cute are these monster hats?!

Monster hat

I used teacher gifts as yet another reason to use my Silhouette. This Summer Countdown will be a lot of fun for Molly's class.

Teacher gift for Ms. Colella

I also did a bit of baking for the teachers. Leah's two teachers and Molly's three paraeducators loved the cranberry white chocolate cookies.

More teacher gifts

In discussing what to give Pop for Christmas, I thought a nice, large fleece blanket would be useful. So, I made one in Pop's favorite Navy colors.

Fleece blanket for Pop

I found these mini trifle bowls and thought they'd be a perfect gift for Beth. Though I couldn't just leave them plain, so I etched fun desserty words on them.

Etched mini trifle bowls

Beth rarely entertains with just 4 people, so I made her a second set as well.

Can't just have 4

My grandmother likes to hang wreaths on her apartment door, so I made her this yarn wreath with felt flowers. My mail carriers (aka my parents) were glad that it traveled well in a suitcase.

Yarn wreath

For several years, my extended family has made donations or done a service project in honor of another family member. I honored my aunt's passion for enriching teacher's lives by trying to enrich the lives of school children. I made six pillowcases to be "purchased" at the annual Back to School Clothing Drive distribution for underprivileged kids.

Pillowcase donations

And lastly, in light of recent events, I thought these Soon to Be mugs would be a perfect birthday gift for EA.

Birthday mugs

She loved the mugs, and Scott was even more thrilled that he got to share part of EA's gift!

A gift to share