Saturday, January 31, 2009 6 comments

Grocery shopping - God is SO good!!

This has been an incredible week for shopping at our house. Just wait till I tell you about how God has provided for us in an incredible way!! But first, let me show you a few crafty-type things I picked up:

  • The heart-shaped chipboard books are $1 at Michaels. I got them to make Valentine's gifts for my two kids. They are currently in love with the book "I'll Love You Forever," so I thought I'd do a cute little book for each of them with the words, "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be." I think there are 5 pages in these, so it should be perfect for putting one phrase per page.
  • I got the bug paperweights at the Target Dollar Spot for $1 each. I'm going to peel the bottom image off and replace it with pictures of each of my kids. These will be part of my husband's Father's Day gift this year!
  • I got the Sizzix paper doll die (using a 50% Joann's coupon), and my mind is busy cooking up ideas for this! :) What you see in the picture is one of the die cuts I cut onto magnetic paper that I got at Dollar Tree. These dolls are the perfect size to fit into the $1 gift card tins that you can buy at the register at Michaels. I'll probably post more on that sometime soon! :)
  • Not pictured: a sentence-strip chart I got at the Target $1 Spot ($1). I was super-impressed with it because I was expecting it to be made out of really flimsy fabric, but it's actually very sturdy!

Now let's take a peek at what I got today:

Here's where the big story comes in. You see those 25 bottles of vitamins to the left? They each contain a month's supply of glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM. I need them for my knees, since the cartilage in my knees has been nearly gone since I was 13. Up until I started taking this supplement, I suffered terrible leg aches that would radiate pain up and down my leg, usually from my knee. I was skeptical at first, but the results speak for themselves: I had virtually no leg pain while I took it. BUT I've been out of the supplement for at least a month now, and the leg aches are returning.

The cheapest I have been able to find a comparable product is $4.50 each online, and I can't even find that anymore. Right now the cheapest I can find is $7.50 each. I just had a discussion with my husband the other day about buying these. I can't stand the thoughts of $90 for a year's supply, even if I do suffer leg aches when I don't take it. He has encouraged me to buy it anyway since, in his words, "It's cheaper than knee replacement." Good point! But still ...

Imagine my surprise to walk through Dollar Tree today (for the first time in a month!) and find these bottles in the medicine aisle. I picked up one box, not realizing it was a name brand. I wasn't sure how effective it would be, but I figured I could always try it and find out. So I went home and showed it to my husband, remarking how awesome it was that Dollar Tree was now carrying these. (Or so I thought ...) He told me to look it up online, since there was a website on the package, and if they were truly what I needed -- go back and buy all that they had. :)

So I looked it up. This is RenewIn, from the makers of ActivOn. It's not Dollar Tree brand, and I'm not likely to find it there on a regular basis. Do you realize how much these same bottles cost at Wal-Mart, Walgreens, CVS, etc.? How about $25-30 each for the same exact bottle?!

I about fell out of my chair when I saw that! So I promptly headed right back out the door to Dollar Tree and picked up two years' worth. I wanted to leave some for someone else who might need that great deal, too! So in the end, I paid $25 for the same amount of product I would have spent $180 for from my cheapest supplier. And if you count the original retail of each box, I "would have" paid $625 for all that medicine (at the cheapest)!

And you know what else? I recently reworked our budget for the new year and discovered that I had to cut back in nearly every category, thanks to the rising costs of nearly everything. My food budget took quite a hit, but God has helped me to make that amount stretch in the past, and I knew He could do it again.

I also had a $20/month vitamin fund, which we needed primarily for that glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM. So guess whose food budget just got a $20/month raise?! :) God is so much better to us than we ever deserve!

You can look at the picture and see what all I got for around $25 (not including the vitamins, which I took out of last year's Vitamin Fund excess). It was mostly a bunch of kitchen "staples," including some items I needed to make birthday cakes for my husband and his twin sister next week.

But let me quickly tell you about one more awesome Dollar Tree find for the day: watch batteries. I always browse their button batteries, hoping they'll get in the kind my watch uses. So far, I've not had any luck. But when I saw tiny ones today, I pulled my watch off and checked the back - sure enough, they're the right ones!! So I picked up a pack of 8, which should last me for the next 10 years or so ... ;) Do you realize how much I've paid for the same exact battery at Wal-Mart? How about $4 each. So, let's see ... that's a savings of about $31. WOW!

Alright, enough of that shopping trip. Let me show you what we got at Superfresh earlier in the week:

3 bags Lay's potato chips
  • 13 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast ($1.69/lb!)
  • 4 12-packs of Pepsi sodas (one is missing in the picture because my husband had already put it away before I caught him)

  • We got all of that for $35. Obviously, I don't usually buy soda and chips in that quantity. But the price was right - buy 4 packs of soda for $11, get 2 bags of Lay's chips FREE (with an additional $25 purchase, which was the chicken breast and additional bag of chips). I bought the third bag of chips to submit for the Pepsi/Lay's $15 coupon rebate where you get $15 of coupons to use on soda and chips. Last year I was able to get mostly free chips and soda around Memorial Day with those same coupons, so I'm hoping to do the same again this year!

    About the chicken breast - It pays to live in Perdue country! If I watch the sales, I can usually keep my freezer stocked with chicken breast for well under my target price of $2/pound. I got 15 meals out of this particular haul of chicken breast. Considering it cost $22, that makes it $1.46 per meal ... and I don't even have to mess with skin and bones! (I just can't stomach that part, which is why I always stock up on the boneless, skinless breasts. There's something about peeling off skin and pulling out bones that makes me weak in the knees ... I know, I think too much!)

    So there you have it ... my doctoral thesis on this week's grocery shopping and God's provision for our family! ;) (Seriously, is this 10 pages long or something?) But I think you'd have to agree that God is so good to us!
    Friday, January 30, 2009 4 comments

    Card from a mini calendar

    This is a card I've had sitting around for awhile but never got around to sharing:

    I made it with an old calendar picture - one of the small calendars. You probably can't read it, but the brads spell out the word "relax".

    It's nothing fancy, but I did like it! :)

    In the theme of love ...

    I made another heart card. This one was inspired by this card.

    I loved how her squares were scalloped, but I don't have a scallop punch. However, I got fairly close by using my cheapo scallop scissors. The heart is a doily I embellished with more adhesive rhinestones from the dollar store. The "Love" metal piece is a piece of soda can embossed with a Cuttlebug folder (that came with my machine). I just cut around the heart part of it.
    Thursday, January 29, 2009 5 comments

    Folders for Ministerial are finished!

    If you remember from last year, I made some folders with mini legal pads to hand out at Ministerial. We didn't get to go last year, so I had the chance to make more of them to hand out, since we usually have a big crowd. (I made them because I've noticed several ladies forget pens and paper to take notes.)

    This first one was inspired by the layout of this card. The papers and such aren't really my style, but I know several ladies like this style.

    This one was very loosely inspired by this card. The butterfly is a dollar store stamp. I stamped him onto the back of glittered vellum and then cut him out. He's my favorite part of this whole design! :)

    And this last one was my own creation. I used rectangular paper doilies from the dollar store. They were just a bit too big, so I cut them in the middle, lined them up properly, and glued them back together to the correct size. Then I chalked the outside lacy edges. The flowers were made with my Marvy punches with cast-off buttons as centers. The sentiment is from the "Girlfriends" collection by Susan Branch.

    Believe it or not, I think the last one is my favorite. It also happens to be the first one I made this round. :)

    My first blog award!

    Carol at Sweet Tea and Biscuits gave me my very first blog award:

    “These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers."

    Thank you so much! That's exactly what I want to achieve with my blog - make friends and help others.
    Wednesday, January 28, 2009 1 comments

    My favorite card for today

    I've done quite a bit in my craft room today, thanks to the snow. This is my absolute favorite from the day's work:
    I don't know how I'm going to give this one away! :) I love roses, so this is me all over.

    I got the inspiration by seeing how this lady stamped the very same rose and made it into a cluster. Other than that, our cards don't look much alike. But that was my inspiration!

    I'm not sure if you can tell, but the tiny circles are adhesive "rhinestones" from the dollar store. The butterfly is also a dollar store stamp, and I stamped him onto the back of glittered vellum. I love that vellum, and I still can't believe I got it for $0.14 a sheet!

    ETA: The sentiment is from the "Girlfriends" set by Susan Branch.
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009 2 comments

    How to present a set of picture CDs

    Remember that I said I took wedding pictures earlier in the month? Well, I had them edited and burned to CDs last week, but I couldn't just send them in slim jewel cases. Nope, it had to be something pretty.

    So I made these: It's just a card portfolio with homemade CD sleeves inside, but it really "ups" the presentation! I gave them three sets of CDs - one for them and one for each set of parents. I hope they like them!

    (I had to mention that the "Just Married" paper came in a Target $1 Spot pack that I got on clearance awhile back. Although I'd use nearly every other paper in the pack, I never thought I'd use this one. I was tempted to give it away, but now I'm glad I hung onto it. It was lightweight, but it was perfect for this project!)
    Saturday, January 24, 2009 2 comments

    Children's homemade valentines

    My kids wanted to make something the other day, and they wanted it to include my Cuttlebug. They think I "play" with my Cuttlebug like they play with their toys. I guess maybe I do! :) Anyway, they enjoy watching and helping crank the handle, so I decided we could do a few valentines to give out.

    If you happen to see this entry and then receive one, please act surprised. :) There will be a little surprise on the other side of it ...

    I made them the size of an ATC (the size of a playing card) and then created small envelopes for them. We used the postage stamp die and Love stamp embossing folder that came with my Cuttlebug for the envelope embellishment (on the left).

    For the actual card, we used Marvy daisy punches to make the flowers, stamped a tiny heart in the middle, and then added red glitter glue (from the $1 store) to fill the heart.

    The lace is from my new Martha Stewart lace punch, and the stamp is a Studio G clear acrylic. I almost forgot to add that we also outlined the heart in the sentiment with red glitter glue. I thought they were pretty cute.

    Great deals tonight!

    I was supposed to go grocery shopping today, but my husband was called to the emergency room this morning as I was getting ready to leave. He ended up spending most of the day there, so I didn't get to go. But after spending the day with two kids who have cabin fever, I was ready to get out of the house myself tonight! :) I just didn't want to do grocery shopping when everybody and her sister was doing it - Friday night! So we went out "window shopping" as a family for the first time in a few weeks.

    I can spend hours at Michaels, so my husband graciously offered to let me browse. It turned into more than browsing when I noticed that nearly half the store was on clearance (or so it seemed). All $1 Christmas items, and many that were not Christmas but simply older $1 bin items, were marked down to $0.25 each. I've had my eye on a few things for awhile, and this was a "buy it now" price. So here's what I got:

    • Hello Kitty and Hot Wheels sticker albums (for my kids) - $0.50 each
    • 4 kitchen-type organizer notepads - $0.25 each
    • Wilton gingerbread house kit - $0.99 (My kids have been asking for one.)
    • 9 Studio G Kidz Stampz (with the big handles and some cute, big images) - $0.50 each
    • 4 red and raspberry polka dot gift tins (These were for Christmas??) - $0.25 each
    • 5 rolls ribbon - $0.25 each
    • 2 travel-size fishing games (for my kids) - $0.50 each
    • Studio G woodmount $1 bin rubber stamp I've been looking for - $1.00
    • Xyron adhesive for my little "X" - $3.29 (on sale 40% off)
    • Aleene's Tack It Over and Over (to make my own Glue Dots) - $2.39 after 40% coupon

    Then we headed to Big Lots and noticed that Goodwill's parking lot was not crammed full like we expected, so we quickly stopped in there. Am I ever glad we did! Check out what I found:

    • another Brother sticker machine (made in conjunction with Xyron and identical to the Xyron 510) - $6.00 (Umm ... The Xyron is $50 at Michaels! I have a friend who just asked me to pick one up if I ever found another one.)
    • a bag for my Cuttlebug (originally created for some type of gaming system) - $3.00
    • a metal ruler from C-Thru - $0.50

    Now let's take a look at that bag ...

    I wanted to take my Cuttlebug along to Ministerial next month, but I have no intentions of harming it during travel. That meant I needed a padded bag. I have one that would work in a pinch, but it would have to be a pretty tight pinch and I'd be nervous about my 'Bug getting damaged. So I was happy to find this bag. As you can see, it's an absolutely perfect fit! The bonus: the bag is full of zippered compartments where I can stash dies and embossing folders ... and I didn't have to spend $60 on it.

    Anyway, then we went on to Big Lots where we picked up the following:

    • 2 packs Making Memories paper (40 sheets in one, 24 in the other) - $2.00 each
    • 2 Playtex 18-hour bras for my Mom - $7.00 each
    • hand sanitizer - $2.50
    • 5 bottles hairspray (the only kind my husband will use) - $1.90 [They were marked at $1 on the shelf, but we didn't notice the price difference until we were too far down the road. I think someone just put them on the wrong shelf or something ... ]
    • 7 boxes Wild Animal Crunch - $0.75 each

    I was pretty pleased with our finds!

    Friday, January 23, 2009 1 comments

    Repurposing a spice rack

    In the John Deere theme of things, here's another recent "recycling" project from my son's room:

    I bought this spice rack at a thrift store for the little spice bottles, but I had no use for the spice rack itself. We were going to donate it back to the thrift store, but my husband got the idea to turn it into a showcase of sorts for the wall.

    He took off the top slat from each shelf (so you can see the tractors better) and I used my mini Xyron machine to stick the John Deere logo to the middle top. We just used a few of my son's duplicate John Deere toys to make a cute wall display.

    John Deere: Decorating with a calendar

    I'll take a few posts' break from my cards and Cuttlebug and show you something we just did in my son's room ...

    If you remember, we decorated it in John Deere since my son loves John Deere tractors. If you've ever noticed, anything with the John Deere name on it tends to be pricey, so we're always looking for ways to spice things up while being frugal.

    We just completed a year, and that means there's last year's calendar to dispose of. BUT we paid good money (albeit a great price) for that John Deere calendar that hung in my son's room, and I couldn't bear to throw it away. I also had a mini calendar with the same images that I had picked up when they were on clearance last year.

    So here's what we did with them:

    I got the frame, complete with the mat, at the Salvation Army for $2 sometime last year. I set it aside, thinking I'd use it for another project. But those small calendar pages fit perfectly inside the matting and the frame matched the other frames that were already in his room, so I decided it was meant to be.

    Here's the wall arrangement we came up with. My eye tells me it still needs something in those empty spaces, but my husband and I disagree on how "froofy" arrangements have to be. He liked it, so that's how it stayed. :) Here's a peek at those larger pictures:

    The frames both measure 11x14" and are matted to 8x10", which is a perfect fit for most of the premium calendars that have been made from prints.

    As I mentioned, these frames were already in my son's room with different pictures inside. I just replaced the old pictures and they were good to go.

    Everything I used was something we already had on hand, so we paid nothing for this great John Deere wall arrangement. We figured it would cost at least $50 to buy equivalent pictures from the store. That's a bargain!
    Thursday, January 22, 2009 2 comments

    Teacup cards from a popcorn box

    Here's another recycling project, totally inspired by the box itself! We finished a box of microwave popcorn last week, and I decided to keep the box to experiment with chipboard/cardboard in my new Cuttlebug. As I was tearing the box apart, I noticed how much the flaps looked like the shape of a soup bowl or tea cup. And here's the result:

    I embossed the cardboard with D'vine Swirls and then used a marker to highlight the swirls. Then I cut the handle using my Flowers Cuttlebug die. The flowers were made with scraps and my Marvy punches, the lace is a Martha Stewart border punch, and the sentiment is Studio G ($1 clear acrylics). And here are the other variations I played around with:

    I was experimenting with chalking since I haven't done much of it to this point.

    I made another purple one, but I accidentally deleted it and I can't get it back into this post, thanks to the wacky way I have to load photos in Picasa. (There probably is a way, but I haven't gotten that far in my "trial and error" method of blogging yet.)

    Anyway, I hope these inspired you, even just a little bit. They would be easy to make out of any paper you might have sitting around!

    Wednesday, January 21, 2009 1 comments

    Old Sears catalog cards

    I finally cut into those reproduction Sears catalog images, and here are the first two cards I made with them. (I cut a few more images last night, so I might get to play some more with them this week.)

    This first one was inspired by a card I saw on Splitcoaststampers. The original idea had a gold embossed butterfly and black stamped flower over text, and I really liked the effect. I can't put my finger on the exact card at the moment, but I'll link to it if I happen to find it. ETA: Here is the card!

    This background paper (text) was what was leftover after I cut the paint can for the second card, so I thought I'd use it rather than tossing it in the trash. Then I put just the bottom part of my card through my D'vine Swirls embossing folder to create the edge for the card, then I added glittery brown ribbon and the vellum quote matted on gold paper. I liked how this one turned out.

    This was actually the first one I did. Sorry about the picture being so dark! I cut the paint can from the catalog and mounted it onto cutout cardboard (the back of a macaroni box) that I aged with inks. I cut the corners from the Vintage square die and the same macaroni box, then cut that in half and aged them with black ink to create the corners. I know what you're thinking - anyone who thinks an old paint can is a "treasure" is a little odd, right? Well, I liked the look of the sentiment and figured I could send it to a man that I "treasure" for a birthday card. :)

    I liked how these cards came out! Now, if only I can say the same about the rest of the cards I make with these images ...

    A beautiful card my friend made!

    Here is the card my friend made with one of the doilies I gave her. (See the last card on this post for the card I made.) Isn't hers beautiful?!

    I'm pretty sure the main image was one that she printed from her computer. It came with a book and CD from Dover publications. The background paper is glittery - absolutely gorgeous!

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    Victorian lady cards: Installment #3

    I have so many things to share, I might share a few posts today! First of all, here is another installment of cards made with those Victorian lady images I cut from the old datebook from Goodwill. And in case you missed the post about the book, never fear, these are not original antique images - they are reproductions. Even I know better than to cut an antique. :)
    I just loved this image, for some reason. Maybe it's because the ladies look so friendly, or maybe it's because they're in the kitchen. At any rate, it was an advertisement for paraffin wax. My "Faux Nestibilities" shape made me love it even more!

    This advertisement is hilarious. I can't recall if it's the Victorian-era version of an exercise machine or if they actually thought "riding" this chair would make you feel better, but I do recall thinking it would make a neat get well card.

    This was another favorite image, an advertisement for Wonder flour. By cutting it with my "Faux Nestabilities," I was able to eliminate the ad part and just use the sweet image. If you notice, I used a lace punch on the card border. I also added a white strip of paper underneath so it actually shows up when it's closed. At this angle, it's a little harder to see.

    Okay, so maybe I had a lot of favorites from this batch ... I love the simple elegance of this advertisement for tea. I also happened to have the perfect little stamp to embellish it with.

    I like everything about this card ... except for the sentiment. The only reason I don't like the sentiment is that I botched it so badly it couldn't recover. But I had to use it since I was using my last scraps of these shades of paper and the card wouldn't look right with a big blank there.
    Oh well! At least I did discover that I can change the color of the heads of my brads by dabbing them with StazOn ink and then immediately dipping them into clear embossing powder and heating them. These brads started out gold.

    Nothing too fancy here, but I liked the color combination and the big flower. I'm so glad I saw another lady make gorgeous flowers with her Marvy punches! Now I know how to use mine.

    And yet another favorite ... The image itself is gorgeous and totally my style. The bonus is that I had this watch stamp I had never used before. I embossed it on gold metallic paper with black ink, and this was the result. It's much clearer in person!

    Here's one that I have a title for: "My heart ... burns for you!" :) How's that for a little creative license? I knew I wanted to accent what the girl is wearing, but I certainly didn't want to accent black with the golden pumpkin in the corner, for fear of making her look like a witch presiding over a cauldron. Instead, I chose the burgundyish red from her top and accented with black and gold. The stamp says, "My heart ..." I fully intend to put the rest of my own sentiment inside. My husband is a pastor and always appreciates a play on words!

    This last one is the one I've had nearly finished for about two weeks. I just sat down the other day to finish the closure so I could share it with you.
    But first, let me tell you that this doily wrap was totally my friend's idea. I had picked up a pack of these doilies (20 or so to a pack) at Dollar Tree, knowing I could do something creative with them. (I was thinking baby bibs on cards or a decorative edge over a gift bag ...) Well, when I took a few along for my friend, she showed me her idea of "wrapping" the card with it. It's absolutely perfect for a 4.25 x 5.5" card!

    Here it is with the card slid out, although I designed it so that the recipient could actually untie the ribbon and get the card out that way:
    That's it for Victorian ladies right now, but I have plenty more images, so I'll probably be sharing more cards sometime.
    Tuesday, January 20, 2009 2 comments

    How to use those embossed soda cans

    Since I actually need to use all that beautiful embossed metal (instead of hoarding it and having it clutter up my house), I challenged myself to create some cards with it last night. Here's what I came up with:
    I think this one is my favorite! The notecard is embossed, although it doesn't show up in the picture. I got a pack of them from the $1 bins at Michaels. I used the soda can metal for the main embellishment (embossed with D'vine Swirls and used my Faux Nestabilities), the corners, and the flower center (also embossed with D'vine Swirls). To make the corners, I used those Vintage squares I had already cut. I just cut them diagonally, popped out the centers, and there they were! The sentiment came from a sheet of vellum quotes I got in that 7/$1 sale at Michaels last week, the silver ribbon was from the $1 bin at Michaels, and I made the flower with my Marvy daisy punches.

    This was actually the first one I made. Details are pretty much the same as for the first card: the notecard came from a $1 section set, metal from soda can (embossed and cut same as above), flower from Marvy daisy punches, and ribbon from the $1 section. I used my new Martha Stewart lace punch on the lacy part and Vintage corner dies for the corners.

    And this is the last one I did for the night. All details are the same as for the other cards.
    So are you convinced yet that you need to save those soda cans? :)
    Monday, January 19, 2009 1 comments

    Because I know you need another reason to get a Cuttlebug ...

    Three posts in one day? What am I thinking?! Well, I just noticed all the pictures I have sitting here to share on my blog, and I'm really excited about a few things I've accomplished today, so I can't keep quiet right now ...

    I think you get the idea that I love my new 'Bug, right? Well, check out my newest recycling project, thanks to this lovely machine:

    Yes, you saw that right. I'm recycling soft drink cans! My husband thinks I've really gone off the deep end now. I'm sure he's envisioning drowning in a sea of embossed cardboard and soda cans. :)

    I'm pretty sure I got the idea at Splitcoaststampers, somewhere on their Cuttlebug FAQ thread. Here is what I've done with it so far (no cards yet, but I'm going to play around with it soon):

    Soda cans are flexible enough to make good cut-outs and embossed panels. The only thing to keep in mind: If you want to emboss and die cut a piece, be sure to die cut first. The embossing makes it that much thicker and for some reason my machine didn't want to cut it as easily after embossing. But look at the metal embellishments I got out of a soda can (there are 10 of those square pieces in the top right):

    I noticed that the squares on the right tend to stay together as one piece, instead of having all the little pieces cut out of them. I think the metal might be a little too thick for that much detail. That's okay with me because they make a neat embellishment that way, almost as if it embossed and cut at the same time. Your machine might make all the cuts, though, since they say each machine is a little different in the spacing of the rollers.

    Now go back to that second picture for a minute. See the gold-colored metal pieces? Those are from a can of mushrooms. The next time you open a can, check to see how thick the metal is (you want the thinner ones). This one didn't have those circles going around it (look inside a vegetable can sometime if you don't know what I'm talking about), and it was flexible enough to cut. It's a little thicker than the soda can, but I've read that many people have done the same thing with tomato paste cans, which are made out of about the same thing.

    Now I'm sure you're wondering how to get this metal without cutting yourself to pieces, right? My husband came to my rescue with his utility knife. I used it to cut the top off the soda can, then used heavy-duty scissors to cut down the middle and cut off the bottom. Discard the top and bottom of the can, but be careful because there will be a few sharp edges. I just used the heavy-duty scissors for the mushroom can. For the sharp edges, I've read that some people use nail files. (I didn't need to since my edges weren't that bad.)

    An adorable house box!

    I'm sure I've mentioned before what a genius this lady is, but let me take another opportunity to show you what I made from an adorable template of hers:

    She made hers into a gift box, but I'm not sure yet what mine will be. I might use it as a decoration in my craft room until I find another use for it. It's just so cute!!

    The instructions are free on her blog at this post. I changed mine just a little, but the basic instructions are the same. I didn't add the picket fence, tree, flowers, etc. I didn't have most of those embellishments, so I just made the house.

    Instead of all that, I added windows to the front of the house and made "curtains" for my windows. (Oh, and my windows aren't cut-outs, either, since my punch won't reach that far.) For the curtains, I trimmed a 1-1/2" circle. Three circles did both of the side windows. For the front and back windows, I took the leftover pieces from the lace punch (the "gingerbread" at the top of the house) and used them as valances.

    For the roof, I only have the D'vine Swirls embossing folder, so I used it. I wasn't going for the "most realistic house" effect, so I thought this fit in quite nicely with my cutesy version.

    Just a little tip: Get some Terrifically Tacky Tape. (I think it's the same as "red line tape.") The strong bond is essential to the sturdy construction of the house.

    Faux Nestabilities

    I just love Nestabilities, but I'm watching my cash flow at the moment. I do plan to buy a few sets when I have the money, but until then, these are working just fine!

    I made mine (and a set for a friend) out of thick acetate from the packaging of one of the few brand-new toys we've purchased in the last month or so.

    You can find the printable templates here.