WHEWW! I made it! I officially put my craft table away this afternoon, until after the holiday (which means Saturday!). I hope all of my hard work and crafting is appreciated by all, I know way to be selfish!
Merry Christmas to all, I hope that we all remember the reason we celebrate this time of year, and take time to remember Christ and His birth.
Food gifts are a great way to keep costs down during the holidays. I sent these yummy candied almonds to the kids teachers, and to my hubby's co-workers. I had the jars here at home too, and I got the almonds as a gift from my in-laws, so the whole thing just cost me my time.
Here's the recipe for these delish almonds!
2 egg whites (at room temp)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1-2 tspn vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup butter melted then cooled to room temp
1- 1 1/2 lbs nuts
I used almonds for this recipe and I used about 5 cups of almonds and it was perfect.
beat egg whites until they have soft peaks when beater is lifted from bowl. Beat in brown sugar 1/4 cup at a time, vanilla, and cinnamon until stiff peaks form, and they are glossy. Slowly fold in melted butter. Fold in nuts until well coated. Pour nuts out onto ungreased jelly roll pan (or a cookie sheet for those of us out there that didn't know it was the same thing!). Bake at 275 for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes to keep the nuts separate.
As they cool stir them also to keep them separate. Make 2 batchescuz you're gonna want to eat a whole one yourself!
Oh and crafting tip #507... Spray paint does not come off of skin like regular craft paint, it stays on for DAYS!
The closer we get to Christmas it seems the more parties and gift exchanges we are involved in. Sure mostly they have a $5 limit on them, that's not so bad, right? Well times that by 4-5 gift exchanges and it can really add up. So last night my daughter and I rummaged through my craft room for a project for her gift exchange at church. She was actually really excited to make a gift and she thinks she may try and get this one back for herself tonight. Here is what she came up with:
Yes, another project from a block of wood, but they sure are cute.
Yes, I said 17 teachers. My son goes to preschool at our local High School. His class is taught by high school students supervised by a teacher. There are 17 "Big Kids" that teach, so when it comes to teacher Christmas gifts it can get a little overwhelming. So this year I decided I needed something quick, easy, and CHA-EEP!
Here's what I came up with:
Basically just clothes pins that I embellished. I've seen these lots on other blogs, but it never dawned on me how inexpensive they would be. I had the clothes pins, buttons, and paper at home. I added a magnet on the back for their lockers, which I had to purchase, but they only cost me $2! So for a grand total of $2 and 1 hour I had 17 teacher gifts.
You can really go all out on these and embellish the bee-geebers out of them. I went simple because really a high school locker is no place to keep really nice things... unless they are iPods, cell phones, MP3 players, etc!!
I don't know if it's just me, or my neighborhood, but a few times during the year we get great coupons in the mail. I'm not talking 50 cents off if you buy 2 of something, I'm talking $10 off a $10 purchase. In my opinion that is a great opportunity for some Freegifting!
We have a tradition of sorts in our household, each new baby for their first Christmas gets a Hallmark ornament. It's one that has the date and baby's first Christmas somewhere on it. This new baby is no exception, but I was choking on having to fork out the $12-$15 for only one ornament. Lucky me this week I got a Kohl's gift card in the mail one of those $10 off a $10 purchase, so this little gem only cost me $2.50!!!
Wednesday I was visiting my most favoritest thrift shop in town. I go about once a week just to check things out. You really never know what you will find there. I confess I used to be a thrift-store-snob, meaning I would NOT shop in one if you paid me $$$. Now I must confess that I'm a bit of an thrift shop "enthusiast", to put it mildly. While I was browsing the isles I happened upon a really cute antique window for $4.99. Let me just say that is a bargain! I bought an antique window at a local salvage warehouse a few years ago and paid $25 and I thought that was a bargain. The window at the thrift store had some really ugly flowers painted in the panes but I knew they could be scraped off really easily. I didn't buy the window right away, I was a little nervous about what my hubby would say since I already have an antique window, and really who needs two... ME! Well hubby did not really care about how many windows I bring home, so I fretted about it ALL NIGHT. I was sure the minute I left the thrift store 100's of people stormed it looking for that exact same kind of window. Lucky for me it was hidden in the back among all of the ugly art work and frames, cuz it was still there in the morning. I scooped it up and shoved (I mean placed it gently) it in the back of my mini-van (yes I drive one when you have as many kids as I do there are not a lot of choices out there) and took it home. My 5 year old was in the back fretting the whole time about it having spiders, and he was sad when I told him I was scraping the pain off, he really liked the ugly flowers.
Scrapping off the paint took about 15 minutes and now it has a wonderful home on my mantle. I'm not the best at decorating and accessorizing so I know it needs a little something and I'm sure one of these days on another trip to the thrift store I will find just the perfect thing!
notice I didn't show the whole fireplace since all my sewing crap is still blocking the view!
Well Ok maybe mine is not a whole closet but it's slowly starting to take over my clothes closet. I am getting into the habit of picking things up on clearance and storing them away for the future. It really comes in handy when you have a baby shower to attend, or a birthday party, just head to your gift stash and find something great.
I find things all over. I'm not a huge fan of Wally World (you know the store I mean) but you can find really great deals on things there. Sometimes they even mark their clothes down to $1, and you cannot make it for that price. I also like to shop the craft stores for their clearance items and have a few things that I can throw together in a jiffy.
Today I was a WW and found backpacks for $1, they are cute and girly and I don't know who they will go to yet but they are headed for the closet as I type. The other day I found cute beaded butterfly trim at the fabric store on clearance for $.25 a yard, YES 25 CENTS! I bought it all.
It is very important to go through your gift stash occasionally it can get quite messy!
Found this link today to American Greetings where you can create a photo calendar, a photo book, cards, or get a gift card for FA-REE! I made a calendar this morning for my parents and I didn't even pay for shipping! Happy gift giving! Hurry though it's for today only and they are only giving away 20,000!!!!
I found this great idea for a no-sew craft here I loved it so much I had to make one of my own. As usual it was done with things I already had around the house so it was FA-REE!!
An up-close so you can see the detail. I used only 3 different fabrics, not including the green and red at the bottom for accent. I also embellished with a little pearl trim (.25 cents on clearance at Joann's years ago!)
I am one of those strange women that actually likes getting kitchen "things" for gifts. Christmas, birthday, anniversary, even Mother's Day, I love kitchen stuff. I love it even more if the stuff is cute. Nothin' better than serving your treat at a church potluck with those cute spoons your hubby got you for your birthday or going to the Mother's Day Tea with your beautiful serving dish your Mother-in-Law brought you from "Out West"!
Along with all those kitchen things comes cute accessories. I have several adorable aprons that unfortunately get a lot of use, I also have great kitchen towels. These are some hotties I whipped up from the things I had in my stash. Towels are from the Dollar Store bought years ago, fabric was free from a friend, and trim was some I had in a drawer probably bought years ago also.
Here's what they were before:
Don't know who is getting these treats, maybe they will stay at my house. Who know's!!
Follow this link here to get a free $15 code for Kodak online Gallery. I used it this morning to create a photo book. The book was free I just had to pay shipping ($1.99) and my book is being sent to my Grandma for Christmas. They have lots of other photo things you can get also.
I know Halloween is basically over but I had to share this great free treat. I work at a local fabric store and sometimes I do get the best stuff for free. They were tossing these lovely ghost plates in the trash last year and I quickly snatched them up. So cute and they are glass. I made some yummy cookies and there you have a wonderful free gift for friends and neighbors.
I'm not saying I actually condone dumpster diving... but I'm not saying I don't either... you never know what you might find.
I love burlap. I know it's crazy the stuff itches like crazy, what can you really do with it? Well recently I've learned that you can do a lot with it. I've seen it on purses (done that one myself), used as matte's for pictures, used for table runners, and my personal favorite place mats.
I don't remember where I saw these cuties first so I can't link back to it. She had them made with just numbers on them, I decided to personalize them. Each family member has one with their name and a different ribbon, I also made two extra for guests.
They were completely easy and completely FREE! I got some burlap from a friend that had a give-away-day at her house. I used my Cricut (I know it's one of those "gadgets" I said you could do without but I also got if for free from my mom, don't judge me) to make stencils from contact paper, and had ribbon and buttons around the house. Here are the results:
Basically you cut the burlap to the desired size, I used an old place mat for a reference, then used acrylic paint and a stencil to do the name. You can use any ribbon you like and just hot glue it around the edge. On some I also embellished with buttons. The possibilities are basically endless for this FREE project.
Freegifting is an art, seriously. It takes creativity, vision, work, and A LOT of patience. Sometimes that item that you are looking for is illusive and cannot be had for a good deal, be patient something will come along.
My daughter has been wanting a sewing machine for some time. Hers broke a few months ago and frankly it was not that great to begin with. I don't really trust new sewing machines. I know that sounds crazy but give me an old Singer, or Kenmore any day over a new machine with lots of buttons, and lights. So I started looking around at garage sales, Craig's List, Ebay etc. all the places where they sell those great old machines. However old machines do come with a hefty price tag if you find a nice one.
This is where patience comes into play... searching many, many garage sales... searching Craig's List SEVERAL times a day... hoping that gem will become available and hoping you have quick enough Internet so your e-mail gets there first!
SCORE!!! Finally the moment I'd been waiting for, after months of looking I found a great little machine on Craig's List for FREE!! Yes, FREE!! I called the woman who was giving it away and went the next day to pick it up. It hadn't been sewn on for years and she didn't know how well it would do. I brought it home, cleaned it up, oiled the snot out of it and so far it's a great find! Here is a picture of it, I hope that my daughter will get years of use out of it.
The key to free gifting is simple, use what you have. I know this is a foreign concept for a lot of people. There are so many cute things in the stores nowadays, new fabric designs, cute crafting papers, adorable embellishments, and don't get me started on the gadgets. There's a gadget for just about anything that would make your life so much better. DON'T FALL INTO THE TRAP! You have cute stuff at home, you can often do without the gadget, and seriously you'll respect yourself more in the morning if your project was free (or really cheap) rather than spending money unnecessarily.
I know you all have a "stash", you know what I mean even if you don't want to admit it. Any self respecting crafter has a stash of some kind, fabric, paper, stamps, ribbon, the list could go on and on. Heaven forbid you have several hobbies then the stash can be pretty extensive. Mine consists of LOTS and LOTS of fabric, some paper, stamps, embellishments, gadgets, paints etc. I try and use what I have before I hit the craft store. Usually I can find enough fabric for any crafting project, and enough paper for most paper projects in my craft room.
Well I did some "Stash Crafting" today and this is what I came up with:
You have to remember that my crafting skills far outweigh my photography skills! These are tiny little composition books that I found on clearance months ago for about 60 cents each. They are about 4" x 2 1/2" and are stinkin' adorable all on their own. Here's how I did it:
First cut a piece of cute paper just bigger than the outside cover of the book. I wanted the black spine to show so it worked best to use the already straight edge of the paper so it will look neat and tidy.
Apply glue (I used a glue stick) to both the paper and the book. Press the paper into place. Use scissors to cut the paper to the size of the book, after you glue the paper on. Add embellishments to your hearts desire! You have a great gift. I think all in all I only spent about 75 cents and that wasn't today, remember I used my stash.
So use your stash and your imagination and see where they take you.
Long story short, having a baby. It is however time to start thinking Christmas gifts. I have been thinking and thinking about these things for a few months now and have a few ideas of what I want to do. Stay tuned and hopefully soon I'll have some fabulous ideas.
Occasionally in the mail I get gift cards from different stores. Usually you have to spend $50 to get your $10 off. Sometimes however you only have to spend $10 to get your $10 off, this means if you find something that is $10 it is FREE! Today I had a Khol's free gift card for $10 off so I went shopping for something for my daughter. It's her birthday and she's outgrown all of her summer clothes. So with my trip to Kohl's I found these cute shorts for $11.99, so I paid $1.83 for these cuties.
Oh, the shoes, they are mine. I had another gift card and got them for $4.99.
I have a lot of friends that are having babies right now. Baby shower gifts can get expensive. Who can stop at buying just one little thing for a baby. I always go overboard. So my solution was to find a great crochet pattern for booties on line. I found this pattern at Knotty Generation it was really easy and took hardly any yarn. If you use your craft store coupon for your yarn you are literally spending pennies per pair. I did embellish them with cute buttons but again you are only adding about $1 to your price. So for less than $2 you have a cute gift that will really steal the show.
I have often admired the blocks that people use to decorate that have cute words and sayings on them. I have gone to a few of those vinyl lettering parties and have been tempted to buy letters to make my own. However they are really expensive. So I've come up with a great looking alternative. First, scour your hubby's garage for random 2x4's. Cut them into 4" sections. Paint desired color. I used a white paint on these then rubbed on brown paint with a paper towel to give them a distressed look.
Cut scrapbook paper 3"x3 1/2" and decoupage to the front of the block. I used an actualdecoupage medium, ModPodge, but you can use watered down white glue.
After you have the paper decoupaged on and it is dry you can do your lettering. There are many inexpensive stencils that can be used. You can purchase them at the craft store for about $2-$5 and they can be used over and over. Or if you are really talented you can put your letters on by hand. I however found alphabet stamps on clearance at Hobby Lobby and used those. You can use them over and over so unlike vinyl lettering your price stays WAY down.
Use craft paint to put on your lettering. You can also do a clear coat over that to seal it all, or use your decoupage to seal it. There you have it. Cute letter blocks, that can say anything you'd like. Obviously these are not the same finished product but you get the idea!
I gave these cuties to a friend for her birthday and they were free! I already had everything at home that I needed.
Welcome to Confessions of a FreeGifter. You may be asking yourself, "what is a freegifter", or you may already know because secretly you are already one. Well a freegifter is someone that uses the things they already have in their home to make a gift for someone. I'm not talking about RE-gifting that toaster you got at your wedding 6 years ago. I'm talking about finding things in your craft stuff, garage, closet, etc that you can re-purpose into a wonderful gift for someone.
You'd be surprised what you can find right in your own home. Sometimes my posts or ideas will be for things that are simply homemade and you will need to purchase a few items but trust me, being the Cheap Chick that I am it will never cost very much.
So become a "follower" you may come away with a few great ideas, or just do it because it will make me feel special!
I'm Syndy a semi-SAHM with 4 kiddos. I say SEMI because I'm never home. I have a small part-time job at a fabric store (I know EEK how do I work there and not spend my whole paycheck?). It seems I'm always off on some adventure, never staying at home! I budget, I craft, I sew, I decorate, and I love every minute of it.