Wednesday, December 31, 2008 0 comments

Cheap rubber stamp storage

This idea is not original with me. Unfortunately, I cannot find the link for the lady who gave me the idea. If you happen to run across this same idea in blogland somewhere, please let me know so I can credit her!

I took a cardboard box top (from a big box of office paper) and added foam core shelves, attached with hot glue. I never knew foam core and cardboard were so sturdy!

You are looking at my entire collection of wood-mounted rubber stamps. No, wait. I have four Stampin Up sets still in their original packaging since it works better to store them that way. But these are all the "non-set" rubber stamps that I own. (My favorite stamps are the clear ones since I can see exactly what and where I'm stamping. I have lots more of those!)

I've been working on organizing some elements of my craft room that have gotten out of hand recently. I'll have to show you my homemade ink pad organizer soon, too! It's not original with me, either, but it's too good of an idea not to share!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008 2 comments

After-Christmas shopping: My goodies!

It's a little later than I planned, but here's the second installment of what I picked up the day after Christmas in the clearance aisles.

First of all, these clear stamp sets that ended up at $1.50 each (sorry about the glare on the middle one - it's really cute and has a snow globe with a penguin in it, as well as some other cute stamps):

Some reported finding them regular-priced at $1.00 each, but they were regular $3.00 at my Wal-Mart. Of course, I never saw them when they were full-priced, but there were tons of them on clearance. These are a little bigger than the $1 clear stamp sets from Michael's.

Then they had these big Martha Stewart sets on clearance for $4.45 each:

I certainly wasn't going to pass them up for that price! I can't wait to play with them, especially the gingerbread set. I'm thinking I can get some good mileage out of the gingerbread house images, even for events other than Christmas.

I don't have a close-up of it, but I also got the Martha Stewart snowflake punch for $4.45. (It's in the next picture, if you're interested.) I've been wanting one!

I picked up a few other things at the dollar store (20 paper snowflake doilies and glittery chenille stems for $0.50 each) and Michael's (everything not mentioned previously - $0.60 each pack):

I'm planning to use the notecards as a decorative base for more dressed-up cards. The square cards are embossed with beautiful swirls!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008 1 comments

After-Christmas deals!

Yeah! I finally discovered a way to "upload" my pictures to my blog via Picasa. It looks like IE is toast, but I'm afraid to uninstall it for fear I'll damage my Internet connection. (I'm not knowledgeable about those things.) At least it wasn't my favorite browser! I'll see if my ISP can help me on Monday.

For now, I can finally show you pictures of what all I picked up, and I can continue to blog with pictures in Firefox (at least, 4 pictures at a time) ...

Yesterday I got up bright and early and headed to Wal-Mart in time for the 6:00 a.m. opening. It's the only day of the year I do this - my personal "Black Friday," if you will. It's a tradition I enjoy thoroughly. :)

Anyway, check out all that I was able to snag for next year (and a few years to come in some instances) for a little less than $90:

Let's see if I can remember it all (my receipt isn't in front of me) ...

  • 2 shaped bath soap sets (tools and construction vehicles) for twin nephews - $2.50 each
  • 4 bath sets in pretty semi-circle boxes for teenaged nieces - $2.50 each
  • 3 nightgowns for sisters-in-law - $4.00 each
  • hurricane glass candleholder for Secret Sister gift - $5.00
  • tabletop fousball (spelling?) set for my husband's birthday (It's a secret!) - $7.00
  • 5 Stetson aftershave collections for nephews, brothers-in-law and male exchange gift - $2.50 each
  • 2 Disney Princess tea party tub sets for girl exchange gift and my own daughter - $5.00 each
  • bath fizzies for female exchange gift - $1.50
  • Dora the Explorer bath set for niece - $2.50
  • 8 rolls wrapping paper (2 all-purpose, 6 Thomas Kinkade) - $1.44 each (This will do me for 3-4 years, but Thomas Kinkade is my favorite!)
  • 2 pkgs tissue paper (can be all-purpose) - $1.50 each
  • 4 gift bags shaped like purses with animal tags - $0.50 each at Dollar Tree [My kids consider these gifts in themselves! :)]
  • tractor cookie jar for my son - $4.50
  • "Love" trivet and mug tea set for my Secret Sister (Valentine gift) - $2.50
  • Old Spice cologne set for my dad - $2.50
This is the only day of the year that my bill goes close to or over $100 and I don't worry about it! I'm pleased to have all the gifts for my husband's side of the family, as well as a few birthday and special occasion gifts and wrapping paper.

You might not consider this the most frugal Christmas post I've ever done, but considering how many people I shopped for, I'm happy. It averages out to $2.18 per gift, not including the wrapping supplies (which will last me a long time).

Next post: what I got for ME! :)

Saturday, December 20, 2008 2 comments

Christmas Gift Link Round-Up

Just in case you need some last-minute ideas, here is a list of links I've compiled with homemade gift ideas. Please pardon the sloppy formatting, but I'm in a hurry as I'm posting this! :)
This little girl is so cute, I’d love to find a use for her!
Here’s something else to do with those clear ornaments!
Want to make a perfectly matching bow that isn’t crushed from sitting in the bag with all the rest? Here you go!
Here’s a cute box for those of you who are as obsessed about cute gift boxes as I am! J
Have you ever wondered how to make your own blank books? Then check out this tutorial.
Here’s a brilliant idea for coasters made from acrylic blocks you can find off and on in Target’s Dollar Spot! (I would guess you could put photos of the grandbabies in there instead of decorative paper – awesome grandparent gift!)
Here’s an easier way to make silhouettes of your wiggly toddlers. I have to try this!
A photo cube made out of 4 CD cases? Go check it out – it’s fabulous!
And here’s an illuminated CD case designed to house a votive candle and holder.
Just in case you need more ideas for those clear glass ornaments …
You can personalize dishes with this method.
If you want to make some designer soap that kids will enjoy, check this out. If you happen to have some glycerin soap lying around (I have an old kit somewhere), this would be cute!
This is a super-cute box that would be perfect for neighbor gifts, or anything handmade on which you could write, "From Our Home to Yours." If you don’t have the house stamp she references, try searching for clip art images that might work. I found several at Microsoft’s site.
Have you tried stamping on tiles yet? These are fabulous examples, probably made more fabulous by the fact that there are Scripture verses on them. Anyway, it looks like all she does is stamp with permanent ink (StazOn, I’d imagine). I don’t know how much the tiles cost, but I do know I picked up cork coasters at Dollar Tree sometime this last year that would be perfect to glue onto the bottom of these!
Here’s a nativity set for the younger folks in your life. If your kids are anything like mine, they probably want a set of their own. And they probably want some kind of craft to do on a regular basis. Here you go – kill two birds with one stone! Bonus: they are super-cute!!
Here are some really cute shadow boxes. My daughter would love to have a few of these hanging in her room!
How about some no-sew cloth napkins? These are really cute! (I think I would still run a zigzag stitch around the edges, though.)
Here are some down-to-earth recipes for bath salts and scrubs. I really like how she tells you what you can omit (and what you can’t), as well as what the ingredients actually do for your skin.
Have you ever seen those desk cubes made from chipboard coasters? They were a pretty cute idea all by themselves, but check out this Cadillac of coaster desk cubes! This lady is a genius!
Have you ever seen Nester’s tassels and wanted to make your own custom tassel? Well, here’s a tutorial to show you how they’re made!!
Here’s a tutorial to make a cute ruffled skirt for a girl size 5-6.
I have a winter-themed metal star that I wanted to cover with paper for a year-round accent. Here’s a tutorial if you want to do the same!
I love her idea for a "Make Your Own Playdough kit" gift! Don’t miss her instructions for recycled shaped crayons, too. We have tons of broken crayons around our house!
This isn’t exactly free, but I’ve long admired these glass blocks when they’re decorated. It’s a LOT cheaper to make them yourself!
These are quite possibly the most elegant votive candleholders I’ve ever seen! They appear to be easy to make, too.
Here’s a great idea for packaging paper goodies so that they look like they came from the store! My local Big Lots has 6x6" scrapbook refills for next to nothing, so I just might buy a pack to use for this!
Here’s a tutorial for a crayon roll with a bonus: a pocket for a mini composition book!
I’ve seen frames like this on sale for big bucks. I don’t know why I never thought of using my Paint Shop Pro to do it!
Do you need any last-minute gift ideas for children? Here are some great ones!
Photo Snowmen Treat Boxes – You have to see these!!
These wooden doll people are so cute! My kids would love to craft some of these! Maybe a homemade kit would make a nice gift.
Here’s a tutorial for making mini books for your kids (or yourself). I was always making books and writing in them when I was a kid, so a stack of these would have made me deliriously happy!
If your kids are as crazy about gum as my kids are, this is a great idea! Too bad I didn’t see it before I made my own Advent calendars. :)

Enjoy! And be sure to let me know if you try any of these!
Friday, December 19, 2008 0 comments

Little girl gift idea: Fabric cupcakes

This is another idea that is certainly not original with me. I found the instructions here. Mine aren't nearly as good as hers, so go check out how she decorated hers.

I didn't have any bead sprinkles on hand, although I wish now that I had. They really "make" the cupcakes.

Anyway, here's a package of six that I gave to a dear friend of our family. She is six years old and loves to play in her play kitchen.
These would make really cute pincushions or just decorations for an adult's kitchen, too!
Thursday, December 18, 2008 2 comments

Homemade trivets and coasters

First of all, this is not my original idea. I got the idea (and a fabulous tutorial) here.

I had picked up some Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose Wallies on clearance awhile back for $3 because I just knew I'd find a use for them. Sure enough, this is the perfect project!

So here are my finished trivets (4) and coasters (4):
And here is the bottom view:
I paid around $2.50 for the tiles and another $2 for the cork squares to go on the bottom. Add in the $3 Wallies (although I didn't use the entire package), and this project cost me $7.50. Considering how expensive trivets are, not to mention anything by Pfaltzgraff, I consider that a good deal!
I'm making more as gifts, but I don't have them done yet. I think they'll be for a birthday in February so I have more time to work on them.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008 2 comments

Christmas gift for my mother-in-law

Here are the pictures of the gift that I promised to show you the end of last week.

I got the idea from an item I saw on clearance at Michaels.

I found the metal tree at a thrift store a few months back and knew immediately what I would use it for. My mother-in-law has 11 children, and there were just enough branches to display 11 small ornament frames. I found similar frames at Ollie's. They were Jolie by You (or one of the Jolie lines), and they were $1.00 for 3 frames. I considered buying them but then decided I could easily do them myself for a lot less than $4.00. I was right! These look just like the Jolie ones, but I used thread to hang these, which is perfect for my little tree.

I don't have any pictures in them yet. I'm waiting to get to my sister-in-law's house and get some of the pictures that I need.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008 0 comments

Christmas House Tour: Dining Room and Kitchen

Today I'll show you the rest of the decorated portion of the house, with the exception of the banister. We hang our stockings there, but it wasn't decorated when I took the rest of these pictures.

First of all, let's visit the kitchen. I originally had planned to use these little trees for my kids' rooms, but they worked out great as centerpieces, so I kept them. This little tree in particular was a sorry specimen when I bought it at a thrift shop for $0.50. I rearranged the ornaments and replaced the beaded garland with ribbon. Now I like it! Here's a larger picture of the kitchen table:

Here is the stove, all decked out in Christmas "finery":

And here is the counter next to the stove where we keep the Advent calendars. There are two of them sitting there now, but I added the second one after I took this picture.
Now let's move on to the dining room. This tree centerpiece is probably my favorite "new" part this year. It's another thrift store special that I had to rework quite a bit. I wrapped the burlap bottom in a gauzy gift bag, made homemade origami star ornaments, wrapped it with ribbon for garland, and added a metallic paper star on top. I love it!
Here is the mini village that sits on top our rolltop desk. This is my husband's project every year, and he enjoys it thoroughly.
And finally (completely out of order), here is my entryway:
Well, that's about all of the decorating pictures. I'd love to see some of yours!
Monday, December 15, 2008 1 comments

Christmas House Tour: Living Room

I thought I'd share some of our decorating with you, so we're starting with the living room (since it has the tree).

First of all, here is our 7-1/2 foot artificial Christmas tree: Here is the nativity set on an end table right next to it. This set was given to us by a dear lady in our congregation. I've never seen one like it before!

These lighted houses are underneath the nativity. My husband likes to use village pieces, so I call this our little Bethlehem (emphasis on little):

I have this arrangement on the coffee table:
And here you can see the coffee table from another angle:

Stay tuned tomorrow for another room!
Saturday, December 13, 2008 4 comments

Gifts for my Sunday school teens

We just had our Christmas youth gathering tonight, so I thought I'd share pictures of the gifts I gave them.

First of all, we have a small number of youth that come regularly. I had several gifts "in the wings" in case some of our "less-regulars" would show up at the last minute, but I didn't need to use any of them.

At our church, Christmas gifts are the teacher's responsibility. It's not a big deal since most of the teachers just go to the dollar store. We consider that an extra "offering" to the church. But I was blessed to only pay $4 for everything pictured here, including those fabulous baskets:
I love my drug store deals and freebies!

The guys got a personal care item and a creamer-bottle-turned-snowman full of chipotle-flavored cashews that I found for $1 each on clearance at Walgreens. Both of my teen guys are Hispanic, and this was right up their alley!

I put the same thing in both of the girls' baskets. The only thing I paid money for was the body pouf ($0.50 on clearance) and the "baskets" ($0.25 each at thrift stores).

Don't you just love this sleigh-shaped basket?

I've been busy with crafts, organizing my craft room, as well as finishing and wrapping gifts for the relatives we're visiting next week

I can't wait to show you what I made for my mother-in-law! It's absolutely perfect for her, and it only cost me $2. Maybe tomorrow I'll get the pictures edited. :)
Thursday, December 11, 2008 3 comments

Church Christmas banquet decorations

This is nothing earth-shattering, but I thought I'd post these pictures in case it would give someone else an idea they could run with.

I was in charge of decorating for our church Christmas banquet again this year. (This is traditionally the pastor's wife's job here.) I wanted to do something a little different than last year when I had a gingerbread theme. So I chose a candy cane theme this year.

Again, it's nothing fancy, but choosing a theme helps tremendously. Here, it helped me decide what favors to make. You can't see them very well in the pictures, but at each place setting there was a candy cane with a bookmark that included a poem about the legend of the candy cane.
The candy cane theme inspired the centerpieces, too. Instead of going with candles (that we never light anyway), we bought these tall glass vases ($2) at Wal-Mart and filled them with layers of red and green starlight mints. It took about 1-1/2 bags of candy ($1/bag) per vase. I got the most compliments on them, believe it or not.

And here is the rest of the table setting. It's nothing fancy, just some dollar store greenery, pinecones from our yard, and mini candy canes (still in plastic) mixed along the middle of the tables.

Our Thanksgiving table

I know it's awfully late to be posting this, but I just had time last night to edit some pictures for the blog, and I thought you might enjoy seeing our Thanksgiving table.

Keep in mind this was just for my family of four, which includes two "littles." I couldn't get too fancy! :)

First of all, here's my version of a centerpiece ... at the end of the table. I needed the center of the table for all the food, since we almost always serve food family-style around here. I didn't need the end of the table, so that's where I grouped my pretties. The bonus: it was safe from little fingers.

Here is a picture of a place setting. I used my regular dishes - Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose - even thought they weren't orange. I picked this pattern when I was 16 and still have not tired of it. (I'm 31 now!)

Here's that turkey you saw in the place setting. I couldn't find candy corn anywhere, so I improvised with some appropriately-colored Pez candies. The kids really liked these!

And here's a view of the entire table:

I'm glad I decided to have our own Thanksgiving celebration, even though we spent the first half of the day with friends. I'm going to make this a tradition - because I want our kids to have some traditions! :)
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 2 comments

Cheap, delicious homemade candy

Surely you've heard of the pretzel/Hershey's kiss/M&M's candy combination by now. If not, here's a summary:

You lay out mini pretzels on a baking sheet, add one unwrapped Hershey's Kiss on top of each, then place the sheet in a 200-degree oven for about 5 minutes. Pull them out and use one M&M on top of each candy to squish the chocolate down and into the pretzel. (Don't press too hard!) Put the baking sheet in the refrigerator for another 5-10 minutes (until the chocolate is set) and then taste some of the most delicious, easy homemade candy there is!

There are several variations of this recipe. Some call for using Rolos in place of the Hershey's Kisses. Some use Rolos and then use pecan halves in place of the M&Ms to make a homemade "turtle" candy. I'm going to try that this year!

Well, I came up with an extremely frugal variation today. You see, I picked up some cheap chocolate after Halloween at the dollar store. It was on clearance for $0.25 a bag, which made it $1 a pound. It was the crispy kind, which is my favorite. For some reason, I get hungry for cheap chocolate now and then, so I stocked up and bought 8 bags or so.

I was staring at those 7 remaining bags the other day and a thought hit me - could I use them in this candy in place of the Hershey's Kisses? So I set out to test it today. (Please pardon the eyeball wrappers. We get rid of those as quickly as we can, but I wanted to show you what they were "before".)
I had my husband pick up a $3 bag of holiday M&Ms while he was out, as well as a $1 bag of mini pretzels. When he came home, I made just one candy to make sure they weren't going to be totally gross before I wasted a ton of ingredients.

Would you believe we couldn't tell any difference? They were awesome! And what you see in the picture is what is left of the M&Ms and pretzels after making two full cookie sheets of candy. [I was baking for a slew of parties this week.] A little bit goes a very long way!!

Just a warning: Don't make more of this candy than you're willing to eat in one sitting. It's addictive and much like the famous potato chips, "You can't each just one!" You've been warned. :)

So guess who's going to stock up on clearanced dollar-store candy after every major holiday? Yep, I am! That way I can make this candy year-round.

And remember that I said I was going to try homemade turtle candy this year? One of those bags just happens to be caramel-filled, and I got a humongous bag of pecan halves for Harvest Home this year. I'll try to remember to keep you posted on how they turn out!
Thursday, December 4, 2008 0 comments

Another Christmas Countdown Calendar

Okay, let's review a little mathematics that I must not have been considering a few days ago ... 2 young children + 1 Christmas Countdown calendar = BIG problems!

My two kids do NOT want to share the same calendar since they both want to open a box each day. [They're 5 and 3. It makes a difference!] I have seen this coming since we pulled the original out of the box last Saturday, but I didn't have time until today to make the second one. I've had the supplies sitting around for a year waiting for the right time - and inspiration. Well, the time has come, and the inspiration came along behind.

Here it is without the boxes on it:

And here it is with all the boxes on it:

I think I like this one better than the original!

As far as supplies, I just used a bunch of miscellaneous Creative Memories stickers I had sitting around collecting dust. They're rather small, so they didn't work for most other projects. But they were perfect for this, and I love the homey feel they create!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008 0 comments

Completed Scrapbook Pages

I mentioned that I was taking scrapbook supplies along on vacation and that I had tons of pages to catch up on. I thought my page count was somewhere around 100, but it was closer to 50. How do I know? Because I got almost all of them done!!

I never thought I'd get that much done, but I was in the mood to do it for several days in a row. As it got to the end of the third straight day of scrapping, my inspiration was waning and I decided to call it quits rather than end up with an album full of pages I didn't even like.

I'll be sharing some of those pages in the next few days. To get us started, here are the first five layouts I completed (in reverse order):
Luray Caverns - This one isn't journaled because I forgot my gel pens at home!

Skyline Drive - I copied the same paper and design for both kids' albums, to make it easier and faster.

Family (my daughter's 2-1/2 year page)


Sugar & Spice - to document the "ungirly" things she does, like play in the dirt and get black eyes more often than my son (which is why I emphasized the word "spice")
Saturday, November 29, 2008 3 comments

Vacation Pictures: What we did!

I have lots more things to share with you, but I thought I'd go ahead and finish sharing my vacation pictures before the Christmas season overtakes me and I completely forget. I know several of my family are itching to see these, so here goes ...

We were at Ocean City for the week, so we decided to go to the beach. Let me tell you, November is the perfect time to go to the beach! :) There were no sunbathers, no crowds - we were the only ones on the actual beach, except for a lady walking her dog. It's the perfect time to gather shells, too. We filled a bucket in no time.

Anyway, while we were at the beach, I just stood by the water and enjoyed the sound of the waves coming in. Of course I took pictures of them coming in, too! Check it out:

I thought it was pretty funny that the only tracks other than ours happened to belong to a seagull!

Back at the condo, one of the kids' favorite activities was feeding the seagulls. Our "neighbors" fed them once, and my kids wanted to do it every day thereafter. In fact, we had a loyal seagull that came every day and perched on the post just outside our door. I have a picture of him - he was recognizable from the rest!

Of course we spent a lot of time doing this:

And, in parting, check out the view I had when I stepped off our back porch at dusk and looked left:

We're hoping to get the same condo again for our next bonus week!
Friday, November 28, 2008 2 comments

Border punch technique

I ran across this idea at Taylor's site. The idea is to use a border punch to make a decorative square. She used a scalloped border punch, but I have a lace border punch. I wasn't sure it would be anything worth looking at, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try. Boy, was I right! Check it out:

I love the effect! So I decided to make the 3rd monogrammed notecard for my mom's co-workers using this technique:

I used the lace border punch at the bottom of the notecard, then added a 1/2" strip of lavender cardstock at the inside bottom to make it show up. Then I used dimensionals on both layers of the cutouts.

I have a friend who does handmade ornaments for a tree every year, and these would be an excellent choice for just such a tree.

The only problem I had was that the punch didn't like my cardstock. I literally had to stand on the punch lever to get it to punch through the cardstock. (Good thing I don't weigh any more than I do, or I'm sure it would have broken the punch.) Does anybody else have this trouble? I've only made about 30 punches with it before, and it has never given me problems with cardstock. I think I might need to sharpen it with some aluminum foil.

If you have any border punches, try them out and let me know what they look like with this technique. I can't wait to see some more options! :)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 1 comments

Vacation Pictures: The Condo

Here are some pictures from our vacation last week. I thought you might enjoy seeing them!

First of all, here's the dining room. I did most of my scrapbooking on here at night.
And here's the kitchen ...

... with the breakfast nook off to the side. The kids enjoyed sitting here to eat!From there, you walk right into the living room ...... with the fireplace ...... and this view outside the sliding glass doors! The water was about 20 feet from our door.Now let's back up just a few steps and go upstairs to the bedrooms!First of all, this was my daughter's room. It had two sliding glass doors and a balcony that overlooked the street side. This was supposed to be my son's room, although he never slept in the bed. [He was too afraid being in a strange place and the whole way down the hall, so he ended up in our bed every night!] This room also had two sliding glass doors and a balcony that overlooked the street side.

There was a regular bathroom on their end, but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary, so I didn't take any pictures of it. Then we go to the "master bedroom suite" -- and it was sweet! :) When I called to make the reservations, the lady said there was no jacuzzi. Imagine my surprise to find this right off the master bedroom:

You could easily fit four adults into it. I've never seen anything like it, all enclosed like it is. You know the funny thing, though? It's exactly like the one I dreamed about a month or so ago. I about got chills when I saw it! :)

Then here is the master bedroom:

It also had a fireplace identical to the one in the living room. And, like the living room, it had three sliding glass doors that overlooked the bay, complete with a balcony and chairs! What a view!!

I have more pictures, but I'll have to post them later. I need to run and get a few things done.