Thursday, January 3, 2013

Handmade Christmas Gifts

 It seems I get a little more ambitious every year around Christmas time. I've never been one to "make" Christmas gifts, but I've found inspiration from various sources lately and from the desire to save money and make more meaningful gifts for those I love. The money we spend on commercial products at Christmas time leaves us aghast every year, and my husband and I decided that giving gifts doesn't mean spending an arm and a leg. My children and I definitely put our hands and hearts to work in November and December trying to really put some love into the things we made. Martha Stewart I am not, but here are some of the projects and gifts my children and I worked on ( I find that doing this with the children was a great experience!)

The lip balm recipe and idea came from this BLOG. It's under "tutorials" 
The author used peppermint, but I had lavender on hand and decided to use that essential oil instead. I like this recipe because it's all natural, just beeswax, honey, and a few other basic ingredients. The little tins came from here, and the little bags from the bridal section at Walmart. I gave these to my sisters-in-law and a few friends. 

Another strange, not-too-typical Christmas gift we made was laundry powder. I've been on a kick to try and make many of our household products, including toothpaste, and simple DIY recipes. I used a recipe from this blog again (I love her tutorials!) I've used this recipe for our laundry for about 4 months now and have no complaints. I had discussed laundry recipes and such with a few close friends and decided to make some for them and include a recipe. 

This was a great project with the kids. They were hard at work grating the soap!

I found the cute little tags on Pinterest!

Another Pinterest idea, this fabric bucket was for the sibling exchange on my husband's side. Thankfully I got  a sister-in-law, and I made something girly for her!

Pretty simple to do, and I love how it turned out. I really want to try and make some of these in a bigger size.

Chalkboard tags from the craft store, love!

I detest buying wrapping paper and bags (it seems so wasteful) so I decided to use brown kraft paper and to make some of my own bags. Little did I know how much extra work that would be! So I compromised and used thrift store baskets for some gifts, bought a few bags from the store, used kraft paper, and made a couple of bags out of burlap. I sewed the burlap together with a yarn needle and yarn I had on hand. The tags were free templates found on Pinterest. 
We also made some granola and put them in mason jars with pretty tags and ribbons and gave some to friends at church. I wasn't in the mood to make cookies this year, so I thought some healthy granola was a good alternative! 
It's so hard to keep the right focus at Christmas. I found myself so caught up with the gift giving at times, that I realized my priorities were a bit off. The real reason for the season in Jesus, and gift giving should just be a tiny part of the bigger picture of what Christmas is really about. It's more of a reflection of the ultimate gift given to us at Christmas-A Savior come to earth as a man to live and die for our sins, that we may have eternal life!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Wheat-Free Crispy Quinoa Cookies

I happened to find this recipe on the back of the box of quinoa flakes (Ancient Harvest brand) that I found in Food Lion. It's a great wheat-free cookie recipe that I make sometimes. I've found that dark chocolate chips really add a nice touch to the cookies! They are easy to overbake and can be dry if cooked too long. I usually bake them less than 10 minutes so that they will be more on the chewy side. Enjoy!

Crispy Quinoa Cookies (Wheat-free)

1/2 cup Honey
1/3 cup Brown sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1 cup Rice flour
3/4 cup Quinoa flakes (I found this at Food Lion in the natural section)
1 tsp. Baking soda
1/4 tsp. Salt (opt.)
1/2 cup Nuts (opt.)
1 cup of Chocolate chips (opt.)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat honey, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla in medium bowl until creamy. Combine rice flour, quinoa flakes, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Add to mixture and beat until well blended. If desired add nuts or chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute before removing from cookie sheet. Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Friday, October 5, 2012

DIY Chalkboard Window

One of my first Pinterest pins that I absolutely fell in love with, and vowed to accomplish! Well, I can at least mark one thing off of my list "To do/to make" because it's "Done!"

At first, I couldn't get his project out of my head. I love the idea of the different panes dividing my lists and notes that I write up throughout my weeks and days. I needed this kind of organization in my life!  I knew where I wanted to hang it, right in my kitchen, easy to use, easy to see, command central, so to speak! The idea of chalkboard appealed to me as well. It definitely has more of an old school effect, especially against the solid white wall behind it. 

Step 1: Find an old window. Easier said than done, at least for this gal. After NOT making time to search through junk yards and the like, I decided to search through an old abandoned house on my grandmother's farm, and struck gold! Old doors, old windows, apple crates, furniture (not in the best condition mind you) but a treasure trove for me nonetheless!

Step 2: I sanded the parts that were rough on the trim and decided to use chalkboard spray paint and do the panes first. I used painters tape to cover the wood.

The spray paint did really well and left a smooth surface. Make sure you let it "cure" 24 hours before writing on it!

Step 3: I decided to paint the wood trim a little. This was the trickiest part, I wish I had done this first! I kept getting little white specks on my newly spray painted panes, grrrr...If I hadn't been so lazy, I would have covered the whole panes, duh.

Step 4: Found a drawer pull at Lowe's that I liked, turned it upside down (so that the opening was at the top) and used gorilla glue to attach it to the bottom of the window. It holds the chalk. 

Step 5: After the chalkboard paint cures, run a piece of chalk over all of the surface and then wipe it down with an eraser, this prevents those first written words from staying on there forever! 

I made this six months ago, and can attest that it is just as useful as I imagined it to be. I use it everyday, and the glass has held up well. I like to keep daily to-do lists on the bottom two panes, and weekly lists in the middle, and grocery store lists on the top. Here's to being a little more organized!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays

You know that feeling you get when you wake up Monday (or even go to bed on Sunday) knowing the tremendous amount of work there is to be done for your week, the routine of daily life and chores to get back to? But, then there's some Mondays where everything seems to go just right, just enough that you can even be thankful for a Monday! As a Christian, I'm reminded to be "thankful in all things" (1 Thess. 5:18), yet most Mondays, I feel the opposite. Today, I see the small, blessed things in my day and I'm thankful for:
  • The toddler and preschooler who played with playdough for an hour while I made applesauce from our orchard outing days before.
  • For fresh bread coming out of the bread machine and a roast already in the oven- dinner is practically done.
  • For a meltdown-free, getting-ready-for-nap experience with my littles!
  • A chance to make a pie out of the many many more apples I have still from that orchard outing!
  • For cookbooks that tell me how to make that pie!
  • For a sunny day for my laundry to hang outside.
  • I'm thankful for the Psalms, for the very songs that my heart is inspired to sing because of them, and for quiet moments in my day to read them...
  • I'm thankful for the moment this morning, when they yelled to me, "Mommy come and dance with us!" who could resist?

So many things (small and insignificant as they may seem) for this mom to be thankful for, even on a Monday. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I found this link this morning for free printable behavior charts and rewards coupons. I've been talking to my 3 year old about making one of these for her, but there are plenty of resources on the web apparently! The Free Charts are at this link. I plan to use them as "reward" charts instead and hope to promote some good behavior with a special reward at the end for collecting 7 stickers on her chart etc.

Dr. Sears, the parenting expert, talked about this in his books and I feel like my almost 4 year could use the visual and the reminder to help her not wet at night and stop biting her nails etc. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


A bit of embroidery from my little Claire bear today. Funny how these little moments can brighten up a momma's day! I must have put this project together at least 4 months ago. A piece of burlap on a hoop with yarn threaded on a blunt tapestry needle. I thought, "oh she'll love this, it will help her to learn real sewing techniques safely etc." But no interest was shown, I put it on the shelf in her reach for months, then all the sudden today, " I want to do this mommy!" And she picked it up and did it without any instruction. I guess it's true what I've read about their being "sensitive learning periods" in a child's life. No use forcing them to learn on our schedule. Oh the many, many things I have yet to learn myself!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Cake

My four layer Italian cream cake- or does Italian cream cake inherently have layers, and I don't need to say it has layers? Either way, i don't make cakes often, so yes, this is happiness.

The link for the recipe is here, not bad to make, and delicious!