Saturday, October 30, 2010

Make A Small Gift Box

Here is a great idea for making a pretty gift box.
  • Take an empty tea bag box or similar small box, carefully pull it apart at the seams and flatten it out.
  • On scrapbooking paper or card stock or other decorative paper that is stiff, use a pencil to trace the outline of the flattened box on the backside of the paper.
  • Cut along the traced outline.
  • Make folds that correspond to the folds on the original box.
  • Use double sided tape or glue to assemble the box.
  • Place gift inside and finish with a pretty ribbon.

[posted by Karen Robbins]

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gift Tower

My kids are big fans of specially wrapped gifts. In fact, my youngest son, Reese, once lamented that “whoever invented gift bags took half the fun out of Christmas.” With that in mind, I continue to challenge myself to wrap creatively.

Gift towers always go over well. Wrap related items, such as a dollhouse, doll, accessories and clothes, from largest to smallest—stacking them one on top of the other. Tape of hot glue them together so they won’t topple over. An added bonus: the shape is reminiscent of the Christmas tree.

Now, please share any creative ideas you have. I can’t wait to read them.

Leslie Porter Wilson

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Inexpensive, unique gift wrap ideas

Holiday Gift Wrapping can be Fun and Inexpensive:

1) Buy a large roll of plain brown paper. Write messages on outside: "Open me first." "What's inside?" "Don't Shake."
Write clues to content: "What's furry and squeaks?" Or cover package with huge question marks. Or let children in your family make hand prints, draw Christmas scenes, or silhouette cutouts after Thanksgiving meal, and then use paper to wrap Christmas gifts.

2) Use items you would normally throw away as gift containers. Drop a set of fancy measuring spoons into a plastic lidded empty baking powder can. Use leftover spray paint on the outside of coffee cans, and then tuck gifts inside. Use the newspaper plastic sleeves for oblong gifts. My newspaper comes in pretty blue wrappers. Use several tucked inside each other to hide gift.

3) Last week I mentioned this one, buy those store logo reusable shopping bag and gift those and your gift.

Got any good gift wrapping ideas? Share them with us this week. It's two months until Christmas...just a heads up...Cathy    

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Eco-Friendly Gifts to Make

One of the best gifts I ever got was a pretty fabric bag to store all the plastic bags I seemed to collect from grocery shopping. Plastic bags come in handy for all sorts of things from transporting wet bathing suits to packing shoes in a suitcase to keep them from soiling the clean clothes. Here's an easy way to make one:

You will need a piece of cotton fabric-about a half yard, 6"-8" of 1/8-1/4" wide elastic, cording about 18"-24" long, sewing machine, thread, scissors, safety pin. The "about" measurements allow for you to use up scraps or hit the remnant bin at the fabric store.

Put two sides of material right sides together and sew a seam so that you make a long cylinder leaving the seam open two inches at top and bottom. At the top sew a hem or casing for the cording to pass through. Tuck the raw edges in to finish off the opening where you will pass the cording through using a large safety pin. Tie the two ends of the cording together (if you want to get fancy, you can add a large wooden bead here as well.

At the bottom, make another hem or casing and pass the elastic through. Either tie the ends together tightly or sew them. This should close the bottom enough to keep the bags inside but yet allow you to pull one at a time out of the bottom. If you give it as a gift, be sure to put some bags in it to demonstrate its use.

Another gift idea is to make reusable grocery bags either from scratch, or buy some inexpensive ones at the grocery store and personalize them with your own appliqued designs either sewn on or by using iron on appliques.

[posted by Karen Robbins]

Saturday, October 16, 2010

No-Sew Fleece Pillow

Not only am I a Word Quilter, I'm also a Quilt Quilter. Hmmm. That sounds funny. One of the best places to find fabric for quilting or crafting is in the remnant bin. I love finding treasures. It is there that I suggest you look for some fleece for this no-sew pillow project which is a great gift for just about any age. You will need two pieces of fleece-3/4 yard each. Or two pieces of fleece that measure 25" X 25" for a 14" pillow. (Pictured here are several fleece patterns from JoAnn Fabrics online.)

Here's the list of supplies:

Two pieces of fleece 25"X25" (be sure you don't include the selvage in that measurement)
One 14" pillow form
Sharp scissors


  • Place the two 25" squares (no selvage) "wrong" sides together if you can figure that out. Some fleece looks the same on both sides. Secure with a few pins.
  • Cut a 5"X5" square out of each corner.
  • Now cut 5" long fringe that is 3/4" wide on all four sides. It might be easiest to measure the five inches in from the edge and place a strip of masking tape there to use as a cutting guide.
  • Tie a piece of back fringe to a piece of front fringe all around three sides. Make the knot right at the 5" mark. Some fleece tends to stretch more one direction than another so you might want to turn one of your layers so that a stretchy side is matched to a less stretchy side.
  • Insert your pillow form and finish tying the fourth side. It may be easier to tie every other one and then go back and finish the inbetween knots.
  • Voila! A beautiful pillow ready to be wrapped and given to a beautiful person on your gift list. And if you can find remnants and/or sales, your pillow should easily be less than $25!

[Posted by Karen Robbins]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Handsome Santa Claus

 My friend is a very talented Tole Art and Folk Art painter, and this is the Santa that I have, that she painted. I share here a small version and a medium version photo of her beautiful painting work.
I received this Santa this week, which is why he is available for this photo, and not packed away in the attic.
What new decorative touches are you adding for this years Christmas decor?

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Fave Child's Book and a Gift under $25.00


Elbert's Bad Word is not a Christmas genre book, but it's a perfect gift for a child age 4 and up. My 12 year old grandson recently saw the book in our home and said, "I remember this book. You used to read it to us all the time." I read it to them all the time because they requested it all the time. One day at a grown up party, Elbert heard a bad word, and it was about the size of a gnat so he stuffed it in his pocket. But the bad word grew. When Elbert had a croquet mallet land on his big toe, the bad word sprang out big, ugly and hairy. The pictures are really attention getters for children. The story teaches children how to use other strong words when they need them, but not bad words. Wonderful! Wish adults could rid themselves of bad words too. Look for Elbert's Bad Word here.

A gift that I will purchase this fall for my husband and son who travel often is compact binoculars, specifically the Bushnell Powerview 13-2514 8x21 Binocular. I searched and found suitable ones here with comparative pricing. These compact binoculars, about the size of a small digital camera, may also be used to bird watch or can be taken to concerts when you're in the "cheaper" seats (no cheap seats at concerts it seems). They are just under $25.00 even with tax included.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Craft Books for Kids

While our theme for the week is children's books for the holidays, for Crafty Saturday, I'd like to suggest a book that might help get you and the kids started on making some gifts. Gifts Kids Can Make, by Sheila McGraw has some easy gifts to make and even instructions for home made wraps.

Looking for some good ideas for gift giving for the youngsters? How about come craft books? I ran across a series of books called, Look What You Can Make With. . . The series uses paper plates, household items, paper bags, etc. This might be a great gift idea for a teacher as well. (Search at Amazon and you'll easily find the series.)

Another idea--cookbooks for kids. Again if you search Amazon or Barnes and Noble, you'll come up with quite a variety from Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and other sources. When I was a kid, I had a kid's cookbook that I used well into the first years of my marriage. Some of the recipes were so easy and so good, I made them often.

All of these kind of books teach kids to follow instructions that can be a great help to them in the future--like when they are in their chemistry lab in high school or college.

[Posted by Karen Robbins ]

Friday, October 8, 2010

Children's book Cup of Christmas Tea

This week we are chatting here about favorite children's Christmas books.
One of my favorites is "A Cup of Christmas Tea", written by Tom Hegg and illustrated by Warren Hanson.
This charming story written as a poem covers the visit of a young man to his ailing great aunt, and how his reluctant arrival turns into a joyful time together.
One verse goes "A week before, I got a letter from my old Great Aunt. It read: Of course, I'll understand completely if you can't ... But if you have some time, how wonderful if we ... could have a little chat and a cup of Christmas tea."

I bought a hardcover copy for a very reasonable price of ten dollars and this book is providing my family with many years of reading around the Christmas tree. There are audio versions available too.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Treats For Our Special Friends

Because we are on the road so much, we no longer have furry or feathered pets at home that need a great deal of care while we are gone. We do however have finned friends. Our salt water aquarium contains a yellow tang, a pair of clown fish, and a blue tang as well as a brittle starfish, a sea cucumber, a pair of cleaner shrimp and lots of crabs and snails to help keep the tank clean of alga. They do pretty well on their own with an automatic feeder and timed lights.

While our fish do exhibit some notice of us, they are not the tail-wagging or purring receptions other pets offer. For those who would like to reward those tail-waggers, here is a recipe for dog bone treats.

Dog BonesIngredients
•2 cups whole wheat flour
•2 cups soya flour
•1 cup wheat germ
•1 cup corn meal
•1 cup dry nutritional yeast flakes (from Health Food Store)
•1/2 cup cooking oil
•1 egg
•1 3/4 cup water or broth
Place dry ingredients in large bowl. Blend. Mix together egg, oil, and water. Add these ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until all ingredients are well blended.

Divide dough in thirds. On floured surface, roll out to 1/4" thick. Cut out dog bone shapes. (Optional -- prick tops three times with toothpick.) Place on well oiled baking sheet.

Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-30 min. Biscuits should be well browned on the bottom. Don't store in an air tight container. Makes approx. 4 doz.

And for those purring friends, here's a treat for the holidays.

Cheese Ball Treats
•2 tablespoons of margarine
•1/2 cup grated cheddar or cheddar jack cheese
•1 egg white from a large egg
•1/2 cup whole wheat flour
•1 teaspoon of fresh chopped catnip or 1/2 teaspoon of dried catnip

Combine the first three ingredients until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine flour and catnip. Add the flour mixture slowly to the first three ingredients, mixing until a soft dough ball is formed. Separate into 1/2-inch pieces and roll by hand into small balls. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 25 minutes. Yield: Approximately 12 balls. Cool completely before serving.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cats and Christmas

This week we are chatting about pets and the holidays here. Our family has always had cats, or maybe the cats have us and allow us to pamper them.
For Christmas all that our cats request is tuna. Tuna that people eat, like Bumble Bee or Chicken of the Sea, no canned catfood for them.
Of course I created a Christmas stocking for them, by buying a plain red felt stocking with wide white trim at the top, in the same size as the rest of our family stockings.
At the top in the white area, I wrote "CATS" in Elmer's white glue and then sprinkled on lots of glitter. This stocking hangs from our fireplace mantle with the "people" stockings.
The Cats stocking looks pretty and sparkly and our kitties are happy with it.