Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Resourceful Christmas Gifts for Neigbors and Kids

I have a whole slew of Christmas ideas for you today.  Frankly, I'm pleased with myself for already having them done.  I'm on a roll this year.  Last Christmas I was 9 months pregnant, and I don't recall being near as on top of things.

First I'll show you what we have planned for neighbor gifts.  It can be a challenge when making them yourself to find something unique and inexpensive.

 I liked the jars I made like this for Halloween (found here) so much, I decided to do a Christmas twist on them.  I used the Silhouette to cut all my vinyl.  How I love that machine, and their designs.

It came together very cheap because we scrounged for all our unused jars and cleaned out our fridge and pantry (and my moms) of all jams jars and such.  I now have a lot of containers of all the food we emptied out to obtain those jars.  Hey, ya do what ya gotta do to save money this time of year.

The jars are perfect for filling with candy or home-baked goods.   To fill a jar with any treat that is not in a package, I first filled it with cellophane wrap.  That way your goodies won't taste like paint.

Or you can leave them empty I suppose.  They are cute like that too.  It's a cute decoration which you can only hope other people will like.

I opted not to paint a few of the jars.  I like how you can fill them with colorful candy.

I also experimented with a lot of designs.  Mostly because I'm indecisive.  But I love them all.  Follow this link for detailed instructions on how to make these.

The next idea I have for you, are these wooden lettered blocks.  Great for friends and family.  I hope so anyway.  Conveniently, my husband is a wood hoarder, so these came out virtually free for us also, using everything we had on hand.

Here are the easy steps to make these.
1.  Cut your wood.  Ours measured 5 1/2 x 1 1/4.
2.  Paint.
3.  Sand the edges.
4.  Cut your vinyl lettering using 3 different fonts on your Silhouette.  Because everyone has one of those, right?  Oh, you don't.  Hmmmm.  Find someone who does.
5.  Apply vinyl.

Quick and easy.  Unless you're making 16 sets of them.  Then you will be up all night, trust me.

My next couple of ideas are handmade gifts for the kids in your life.

I'm sure you've seen these wooden matching games.  I mini-sized them so they would be perfect for travel or church.

And if you have a stash of scrapbook paper and wood, cheap cheap cheap.

To make:
1.  Cut wood.
2.  Paint wood.
3.  Sand edges and corners.
4.  Apply fitted paper to one side of each block.  I use modge podge to adhere it to the block.
5.  Once dry, sand the edges and surface of the paper.  Weird, but it gives it a really cool ruffed up look.

I know a lot of people love modge podge over their projects.  It does seal it up nice.  But I have yet to apply it to a finished project and like the results.  It's probably due much to my lack of ability, but it always ends up streaky, and I tend to run into more problems with it than it's worth.  So, needless to say, I did not modge podge the surface of my blocks.

For this set I did modge podge, and inked the edges.  I don't love the look as much, but they work.  The kids will still love them.

Lastly, a kids bean bag game.  Reindeer Games to be exact.  I'm sure some Reindeer somewhere play with bean bags.

These can also use your resources wisely.  I dug through my fabric stash and found coordinating scraps.  Here's how I threw them together in no time.

1. Cut 2 squares any size you would like.
2.  With right sides together, sew around all four sides, leaving a gap along one side.  Doesn't have to be too big.
3.  Turn right side out.
4.  Using a funnel, fill your bag with beans.  I actually use rice instead.  Doesn't hurt as bad when the kids smack you in the face with them.
5.  Fold the raw edges in the gap and sew it up.

I hope some of my ideas inspired you to look around and use up the resources you already have around to make some thrifty (but cute, right?) gifts for the ones you love.  It can be very rewarding.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

This is a random post.

And yes, I'm getting paid to do this.

But who wouldn't pass up money towards a Melissa and Doug product?

However, I will prove that I swear by Melissa and Doug toys. I love them. My kids love them. Which is why I'm taking the time to make this post so I can buy more awesome toys, just in time for Christmas!  Plus, it's a great reason to give my husband for why blogging is not a complete waste of time.

So here is the catch.

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!


Let me show you some of their toys we've purchased or been gifted in the past that we've loved.   Hopefully this will help you decided which ones might be great for the holidays to use your coupon on.

Magnetic dress up dolls.  Where were these say, 20 years ago, when all my beloved paper dolls were always ripping on me.  It would make me so sad.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sturdiness of these dolls.  The clothes are so cute and there is a great variety of dolls to choose from.

So fun to play with!

Oh, and I guess my kids have fun with them too :)

Almost top on my list of favs, are these stack and nest blocks.  They are so perfect for all the ages of my children.  They will entertain any one of them and great for learning.

I love the cute animal prints on them too.

As far as the musical instruments go, it's a love/hate relationship.  They are great for waking a sleeping baby, but even better for marching bands.

The most wonderful thing about them is that surprisingly, the sounds are somewhat muted.  The shakers and symbols are much quieter than you would imagine.  It really helps my nerves when they pull these out - ya know what I mean?

I adore Melissa and Doug's food lines!  They have the perfect stuff to complement our little kitchen (seen in detail, here).  I'd probably buy more food stuff, when I get the chance.  The girls love baking up little cookies, and decorating their cupcakes with removable marker.

And if I had more money to spare, I'd buy up all their puzzles.  This magnetic puzzle book, I figured, was the best my money could buy in that area.  It contains several pages, and the kiddos fight over it every time I pull it out.

Even the baby.  She was trying her hardest to go at it.  It was making sister really mad.  Is it bad that I find that humorous?

So I let her have at it on her own.

 Too stinkin' cute!

I know this post had nothing to do with anything I made, but maybe it helped you decided some things you could buy for some little ones in your life.  Or you.  Like I said, I really like the dolls.

Really, you can't go wrong with Melissa and Doug.  So take the survey, and go save yourself some money on some awesome toys, that are built to last!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

My One Hit Wonder - Purchase Here

Some of you may remember the "Party in the Back" dress I made found here

Well, get this . . .

It got published!

I know.  I was as shocked as you are.

But what a fun opportunity. 

I'm pretty much famous now ;)

You can buy your own issue here.  It's an awesome magazine to look through!  And I'm not just saying that because I'm in it (wink).  It's full of inspiration to alter clothes and other things.

I'm calling the dress my "one hit wonder."  It get's the most hits every day on this blog - thanks to pinterest (and other sites).
I also had several requests to make some of these dresses to sell.  So that is what I did.  Here are the completed dresses so far which you can purchase, and time will determine if I make more.

Charcoal and Mustard

This dress will fit a child 12-18 months old, petite.

Completely machine washable.  Fabric is knit.

Of course, if you follow me faithfully, you might know my baby isn't 12 months yet.  She is 10.  I couldn't find a 12-18 month old model for the life of me.  So it will fit even a younger baby, but I imagined the hem of the dress to not be as long as it is for my baby.  This is why I think it will suit a 12-18 month old child better.  I say "petite" because I'm afraid if your child's arms are too, um, chunky (can I say that) it may be a little tight.  Hopefully my pictures will give you a good idea if it will fit the child you wish to buy this for.   

Purchase Charcoal and Mustard  here.

Pink and Gray

This one is similar to the original.

Once again, it is best for size 12-18 months old, petite.

This was the size requested most, so I made 2 of them.  Machine washable.  Fabric, knit.

Purchase Pink and Gray here.  SOLD


This dress is fit for 3T/4T.

My model is a 3 year old.  The dress can be tightened by the tie in the back, and as you can see, there is room for this 3 year old to grow and the dress will still fit. 

Machine Washable.  Fabric, knit.

Purchase Citrus here.  SOLD

Even if you aren't interested in buying, I hope you enjoyed seeing other versions of this dress.  Remember, if you want to make your own, I posted a tutorial here.