Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope you all have a peaceful, happy, magical holiday and a wonderful new year. See you in 2009!

Monday, December 22, 2008

eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas

I've mentioned this before, but this year I'm trying to reduce the amount of waste that we create over the holidays. One of the ways I'm doing this is to eliminate paper wrapping. Instead, I'm using mostly fabric wrappings, which can be used year after year.

I made a few bags by folding a piece of fabric right sides together and sewing the sides up. Then I just hemmed the top so it looks nice. I'll tie them closed with ribbon or cord. They're really simple but cute. Or you can go all out and do something like this. Fancy! :)

I also cut some fabric into squares and hemmed all four sides to create what I call a wrapping cloth. The Japanese call it Furoshiki. I love this idea so much. Here's an awesome PDF that you can download from the Ministry of the Environment in Japan that has different wrapping ideas. Here's those same images in black and white, because that green is kind of annoying.
And here's a video. I mean really, why wrap gifts in paper?! I made most of my squares 18" and 28" and they seem like good sizes for wrapping a variety of gifts.

Anything that you can put a gift into would make a great alternative to paper, and often the container can be a gift in itself.

Here's a little list of ideas of things you can use:

- handkerchief
- bandanna
- fabric napkins
- table cloth
- apron
- tea towels / hand towels
- baby blanket
- lunch bag
- tote bag
- reusable shopping bags
- purse
- make-up bag
- picnic basket
- sewing basket
- old metal lunch box
- old tins
- cigar boxes
- hat boxes
- decorated altiod tins for small items or gift cards (they fit perfectly!)
- photo boxes
- jewelry box
- recipe box
- old suitcase

You could buy these items new but I prefer vintage! :) Check thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets and garage sales.

I also knitted a few bags out of cotton and wool yarn. I got the directions from this book.

Finally, here are some more great ideas:

Top 10 Green Gift Wrap Ideas

Green Package Wrap Ideas

Eco-Wrap Your Holiday Gifts

Saturday, December 20, 2008

peppermint & marshmallows

I sort of knew it was a disaster waiting to happen but I just had to try this. Last week Brian and I made some peppermint icicles. They are really yummy but my goodness, Martha is crazy. You have to pull the candy by hand while it's still hot (very, very hot!). I was clever and sprayed my gloved hands with cooking spray so the molten candy wouldn't stick, but Brian didn't take my advice and ended up with it sticking to his hands (ouch!). So, while he was running his burning hands under cool water, I was left to do it all myself! lol And I have blisters to prove it.

I think it has that yellow tinge to it because when I couldn't take the heat any longer I set it down for a second. I think it should have been pulled and twisted constantly to get a nice white color. If Brian had been available to help me I could have handed it to him for a while. :) It's still really tasty though.

The peppermint candy making went a bit faster than we expected, so we made marshmallows as well. These were pretty easy to make (although I think my mixer died in the process, you need to mix it for about 12 minutes and it's thick), but I don't like the way they taste. I used this recipe, and instead of spreading the mixture out on a cookie sheet I put it in a 8x8 baking pan and cut them with a knife sprayed with cooking spray. I found two other recipes, all from Martha, here and here, so if you're going to make them I would use one of those two recipes instead of the one we used. Emily from the black apple made some and used this recipe. Here's her post about them.

I don't know if our candy making is over.. I still want to make these. And these. And I made some peanut butter balls last year that were to die for...

Friday, December 19, 2008

snowed in

No school, no work, lots of snow. I couldn't be happier.
loving the (finally) decorated tree.
Sewing up some fabric bags for gift packaging.

Working on gifts for little ones..

no napping for me today! :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Sorry for the late post.. it's my birthday today so I've been eating and decorating the tree and enjoying myself. :) Not that I don't enjoy blogging! You know what I mean.

Well being new to the blog world, I didn't realize that the traditional holiday gift to offer blog readers was printable gift tags. Please forgive me on this terrible mistake... I'll have to make a note for next year to ensure I don't repeat it. I hope you accept instead a variety of wonderful gift tags that are already out in the blog world: Black Apple tags (adorable!)

Paper Crave gift tags, available in three colorways! gift tags. I found these through Creature Comforts

From Martha. Get them here.

And this blog, iDiY, is about Do-it-yourself weddings but they have some really cute tags and labels that would work for Christmas. Check them out here. Pictured above are canning labels. Aren't they great?

Oh, you want more?? Try right here.

Why did I ever buy gift tags? :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

this morning

It snowed last night so we awoke to a beautiful fresh blanket of snow. We just had to go out and play.I don't think I've posted any photos of our dogs, which is weird because they're such a big part of our lives. So here they are, wrestling and romping in the snow. Lucy is the beagle on the left and Bobo (um, he came with the name) is the shepherd mix on the right.

This photo was taken right before he stole my glove off of my hand and ran around the yard like a lunatic with it. lol

Oh and would you like to be carbon neutral for a day? For free? Just click here (or check out the little badge to the right), type in your name and email address, and you and five friends can be carbon neutral for a day! Great right? (from Brighter Planet)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

little houses

I started this collection of vintage cardboard houses a couple years ago and I love them so much. I found some on eBay and some at the flea market. I have a funny story about the flea market ones. Well I don't know if it's funny exactly, maybe just weird. I heard a woman ask a vendor, "how much for the houses?" he said $15, she asked if he would take $10. He said no. The woman walked away. I didn't see the houses yet when I heard that little exchange. When I saw what houses they were talking about I knew I needed them (yes, I needed them). I really believe that it doesn't hurt to ask, so I asked the guy how much he wanted for them. Of course he said $15.. so I offered $10. And he took it!! Crazy right? So I got seven houses for $10. Not a bad deal at all (if you do a search on eBay or Etsy you'll see what I mean!) I did feel bad for the other woman though..

Oh and the bottle brush trees I've also been collecting from flea markets and garage sales over the summers. They can be priced pretty high sometimes (too high in my opinion!) so just hold out for cheap ones. You'll find some eventually!

I have most of them on the mantle. *sigh* love them... :)

The garland, the merry star thing, and the blue fake feather tree I got from various stores' after Christmas sales.

Monday, December 15, 2008

some Christmas characters

This reindeer and the snowman below I posted about here.

The Santa head was made in Japan. I taped a magnet on the back so he could hang out on my chalkboard.
I love this little frosty so much. I found him at the flea market. When I asked the guy how much it was, I thought for sure he'd say something crazy like $10. But no, 50 cents! I couldn't believe it!

And you've met the little nose-less trumpeter already. :)

I have some more decorations I'll share tomorrow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

bees abuzzing

My favorite... the bees. The best for last. :) I hope you've all enjoyed this little book as much as I have!

I've been wanting this Christmas season to mean a little bit more.. all of the obnoxious blow up decorations, the excess, the spending... well if I'm not careful it can make me a bit of a Scrooge. And that's not good. That's why I'm so glad I rediscovered an amazing charity the other night: Heifer International.

You purchase animals (the type depends on how much money you donate) and those animals help families that need it. From "Heifer projects around the world help families achieve self-reliance through the gift of livestock and training. Gifts are passed from recipient to recipient until entire communities are transformed." How wonderful. How simple. You can spent as little as $20 and give a family a flock of chicks, ducks, or geese. Or spend $30 for honeybees. :) Or whatever you can afford. I just love this idea and I haven't stopped talking about it to my friends and family. :) I plan on giving a family some bees.

I know this is just one organization and there are tons of wonderful ones out there but this one got me excited. And here's a great post I found from the Handmade Homeschool blog, encouraging everyone to "Do what you Can". Great ideas on ways to help if you just don't know where to start.

Edited to add: I found a few other neat charity sites to check out: Changing The Present, Redefine Christmas, and The Jane Goodall Institute. Please share your favorites as well!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

handmade ideas

So.. how is everyone doing with their Christmas crafting? I, um, sort of just realized that there is only two weeks until Christmas. And although I finished my shopping yesterday (yay!), I still have quite a few projects I'd like to finish before the big day. And worse, there are still a couple of people that I don't know what to make for them. So if you're in the same situation that I am here are a few sites that will hopefully help you out (or just add more things on your to-make list. sorry).

· Organized Christmas - Here you can download and print checklists, planners, calenders, figure out your budget and loads of other ideas so you don't find yourself going completely crazy.

· A huge list of Advent ideas can be found here, from Uncommon Grace. *sigh* I can't wait to have kids of my own to share this season with.

· A post from Spoonflower that has a nice list of ideas for crafting for boys.

· Great ideas for handmade gifts (for young and old) from Handmade Homeschool.

· If you're a knitter, the comments from this SouleMama post are full of ideas.

· Northpole - This site's just fun. (Check out the cookie list!)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

10 tree toads leaping

Just a quick post today.. I have lots on my to-do list!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

grandma's cookie cutters

My sweet, sweet grandma used to make dozens of different kinds of cookies every year for Christmas and she would give them to neighbors, family and friends in shirt boxes lined with waxed paper. I used to go over and help her decorate the sugar cookies and make the spritz cookies. I have such good memories of the time spent with her (and of my grandpa peeking into the kitchen every once in a while too!). She had just one rule: if you break a cookie, you have to eat it. :)

When she started getting sick she stopped baking around the holidays and she gave me her cookie cutters. She's gone now, but I've started to bake lots of cookies for Christmas (although not nearly as many as she used to make, I swear the woman didn't sleep). I love pulling these cookie cutters out every year and making the same shapes I remember as a child. But two cookies I never saw growing up were the angel and the reindeer. I tried them a couple years ago and found out right away why she never used those two cutters: the angel’s wing almost always breaks off and the reindeer’s leg breaks off! lol

Monday, December 8, 2008

On the 8th day

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! I mixed up nine different kinds of cookie dough on Friday and Saturday, and it's all tucked away in the freezer until it's a little closer to Christmas. Whew, I'm glad that's done! It snowed all day on Saturday, and I finished decorating on Sunday so it's starting to look like Christmas around here! Next weekend I think we'll get the tree.
And since I feel like I'm blog cheating with this book, I found a few other fun things for you all. :)
- Cute holiday tags for baked goods from every little thing
- This really cool notepad tutorial from Sarah & Abraham
- And another cookie recipe that I mixed up this weekend: Icebox Shortbread. I made these last year with orange zest and cranberries (very good) but went for plain this year. I really love plain old shortbread.