29 November 2013

Gift Wrap Class 5: Repurpose And Reuse

Welcome to Gift Wrap class five. Today is all about using what you have and finding new ways to use things again. Here are a few ways I reuse and reduce waste when it comes to gift wrap materials.

1) I am a big fan of using real fabric ribbon for gifts and I will save all sorts of little bits or ribbons and twines to reuse. When I give a gift with ribbon on it, I love to see someone fold it up to reuse it. When I see someone throw away perfectly lovely ribbon, I feel like I will break out in hives. Why would you throw away something so beautiful that still has perfectly good use to it? Beats me. There is always some fun way to reuse a bit of ribbon.

2) I often make wrapping paper out of pretty shop bags. It's easy to cut out the store label/logo and use beautifully stripped or patterned paper to wrap small boxes. You can get all the creases and wrinkles out by ironing plain paper on the lowest iron setting. Don't try to iron paper that has any sort of meltable material on it, such as flocking, embossing, etc. It will make a royal mess on your iron and ruin the paper.

3) Make your own gift bag by recycling store bags. All this bag needed was a pretty piece of scrapbook paper glued over the logo printing on the bag and some holiday washi tape around the edges. I glued down the washi tape because it just didn't really want to stick to such a stiff background. With a little handmade tag on top, this was an easy gift wrap job. I cover one, two or four sides of the bag with strips of pretty paper to cover up the logos as needed and give a high quality bag another life.

4) This should be a no brainer, but boxes from retail stores can easily be folded down flat and used year after year if they are well cared for and in good shape. I keep lots of small boxes in a drawer and then a supply of larger ones folded up with my bag of gift wrapping. You can spice up the box with simple, flat decoration if it needs a little help before you wrap it.

The key to reusing and recycling is all about being tactful and situationally aware. Some settings aren't quite right for recycling or reusing things and some are. You just have to know the situation and of course put something beautiful together. There are so many ways to save some money, give something a second life, and make something fabulous with things you already have on hand. Once one gets in the mindset you start seeing ways you can make something out of even tiniest scraps -- hello gift tags!

So what do you do to creatively reuse gift wrapping supplies? If you have a favorite trick I'd love to hear about it! Happy gift wrapping! It's officially the holiday season.

28 November 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Style

Thanksgiving Day is here again. I am hoping our day starts out with a lovely bike ride at the beach. These are the days when I am happy to spend the holiday in a warm climate. Yesterday we had the most lovely afternoon at the park, our little family, playing soccer, basketball and on the playground in short sleeves. The leaves were falling, the sun was low in the sky and it was just beautiful.

I was sitting on the side of the basketball court taking it all in and asking God to help me be thankful for every bit of such a beautiful day. When we got home I got cooking for Thanksgiving Day and for dinner. It was quite a feat to try to figure out how to bake four pies and a pizza from between five and nine in the evening, but it all worked out perfectly and thanks to a snack after the park, eating dinner a little later than normal was totally fine. The biggest distraction was that The Man decided to start the Star Wars series just as I started cooking. I'm guessing the marathon will continue tomorrow as well.

I destroyed the kitchen a few times over yesterday and ran the dishwasher three times. The final time it was only about three quarters full, but I figured I would rather have everything clean and all the tools and utensils washed and ready to start the day today.

Today shouldn't be too crazy. The Man and Bug are on table setting detail. We are going to spatchcock the turkey -- hello only 70 minutes cooking time! Then we'll whip up stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, carrots to go with it. Shouldn't take too long at all. I have everything pretty much prepped and ready to go.

The pies look really delicious so I can't wait to cut into them. This is the first time I have ever made pie for Thanksgiving, that task has always gone to someone else. But I have been a long-time pie maker so it wasn't too much of a stretch. There's a carton of vanilla ice cream just waiting in the fridge for a hot slice of pie. Tonight we'll have family holiday movie night which sounds like the perfect time for a leftover turkey sandwich on a dinner roll and another piece of pie. 

Here is my wish to you that this Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful one for you, filled with people you love, good food and safe travels. I'll see you back here on Friday ready to jump full on into the Christmas season. It will already be December this weekend. Unbelievable.

27 November 2013

Gift Wrap Class 4: Don't Overspend

You don't have to spend a fortune to have fantastically wrapped gifts. Today's lesson is all about saving money. You saved your money to buy the gift, not to be overcharged for the wrapping supplies. Paying full price for expensive holiday seasonal wrapping supplies is a waste of money. Here are some of my favorite places and ways to save big money or gift wrapping supplies.

  • Work the Craft Store Coupons: If you are the least bit crafty you should take advantage of Joann Craft and Fabric and Michael's Crafts fantastic coupons. You can sign on for mailers, emails or download the apps to get weekly coupons. Then use your coupons wisely. When making big purchases use the 40% or 50% off on one item coupons. Also around Thanskgiving or the first of December they often have 20% off entire purchase coupons. Think smart and work your savings using the right coupons for the right expenditures. Ornaments and little things you can use to wrap packages often go deeply on sale right at Halloween!
  • Shop the stationery aisles at the big discount stores like Ross, Marshall's, TJMaxx and Home Goods. You can find some fantastic deals on holiday cards, gift tags, stationery papers, tissue paper and all sorts of goodies for your gift wrapping kit. The quality of these products is fantastic and the price is low, low, low.
  • Take Advantage of IKEA's Christmas Specialty Items. Ikea's Christmas department is always full of great, high quality gift wrap papers and fun little ornament packs you can use to decorate the tops of boxes and bags. They also often have some fantastic paper ribbon and raffia for a very down-to-earth nature inspired look. They prices of course are fantastic for the quality of products you are getting.
  • Shop The Dollar Stores. Quality can vary greatly but you can find some great chipboard word cutouts and all kinds of little trims to decorate packages with. I have a favorite dollar store nearby that have hundreds of little decorations that would work great on packages. The prices are good.
  • Make your own gift tags. I whip up cute gift tags by layering scrapbook paper in pretty combinations of pattern and texture. One package of scrapbook paper can make hundreds of gift tags. Great savings and you can really personalize tags with stickers, hand-drawn art, etc.
  • Shop the After Holiday sales. My mom always takes treats to her neighbors and like to have little treat boxes to put fudge in or decorated bags to send bread out in. Since she knows this is an annual tradition, she buys her packing supplies at the after Christmas sales and saves a TON of money by putting them in a drawer until next Christmas. Know your traditions and look for ways to cut costs by shopping the post-holiday clearance deals.
Those are a few of the ways I keep my gift wrapping supply kit filled with fun things with very little financial investment. Do you have any favorite gift-wrap cost-cutting ideas? I love hearing about all your smarts!

26 November 2013

10 Ways Meditation Is Changing Everything For Me

I have talked a lot about meditation here and I think I mentioned that I started the Oprah/Deepak Chopra 21-day meditation series a couple of weeks ago. I have to tell you it's been life changing. I share this because I know there are lots of other people out there who are worn down by life, tired, and trying to find a way to put the sunshine back in their cheeks and the spring back in their steps.

When you are in that place it's hard to find your way out, even when people present simple steps you can take to get there. Some times, simple still isn't simple enough. But let me encourage you about meditation. All it requires is that you sit still and listen for a few minutes. It's extremely restful and comforting. I recommend it with all my heart. Here's what it's changing for me.

1) Experiencing moments of deep peacefulness. Sometimes when things are challenging it feels impossible to shut down all the thoughts spinning in the mind, to relax the tight shoulders and make the stomach stop twisting in knots. Through guided meditation I have found deep peace and the more I practice, the faster and easier this happens for me every day. It was amazing to see how quickly I could slip into that place after just a few days of dedicated practice. You deserve this, your body deserves this, your soul deserves this.

2) Waking up in the morning looking forward to the day. I have definitely notice that I wake up with more energy and I have something that I am doing for myself that I really look forward to. I know I'm going that have that fantastic meditation time and how good that is going to feel.

3) Knowing I am taking care of myself. I caught myself a few weeks ago repeatedly saying that if I took better care of myself it would allow me to do more for others. I already do a lot for others and I really need to be better about taking care of myself. That realization stopped me in my tracks and really has had me thinking since then. I need to focus on being my best, healthiest self. That's my #1 job.

4) Having time to focus on my thoughts, feelings and goals. It is so easy to jump up and rush, rush, rush through the day never giving a thought to things more important than going to work, or cleaning the kitchen and driving to errands and to take kids to sports. Instilling that time into my day that allows me to focus on my path and where I am going brings a lot of peace and comfort and direction to my life. I feel WAY more in control of my life and how I'm living it. I like knowing I am being about bigger things than rushing around in menial tasks. This is good!

5) Creating a more calm, pleasant demeanor. I strongly dislike it when I know I am telegraphing frenzy. I absolutely dislike that. I am much happier when I can relate to my world in a thoughtful, articulate, centered manner. I take responsibility for the energy I bring to the world and I want that to be a positive, sunshine filled energy. I like having better control of that!

6) Developing greater discipline. I am recognizing that as I discipline myself in my meditation practice is it helping me to create more desire and discipline in other areas of my life. I feel more able to tackle challenges and they don't feel quite so big. A stronger soul gives me the desire to be a stronger body, a stronger mind...stronger in everything I do.

7) Inspiring me to beautify my life. Having beautiful thoughts translates to wanting more beautiful surroundings. My more beautiful thoughts are definitely translating into more thoughts about how we can improve our home and how we live in it. This of course for me always goes back to simplify, simplify, simplify. It's even inspiring me to change and simplify my wardrobe. Surrounding myself with a small number of really beautiful, lovely things sounds very good to me and inspires me to beautify my world.

8) Guiding me to create more intention and ritual tradition in my life. As I head into the holiday season with this greater sense of thoughtfulness it's guiding me to develop rituals for our family that we can depend on and that inspire us. Thinking more about why and how we do things has me wanting to do things more deliberately and spend our time in activities that are filled with "vital nutrients" for life. Even watching a movie as a family can have deep purpose and meaning. I am thinking more about movies and lessons we can learn this holiday season and making sure we talk together as a family about the characters, their life lessons and how we can apply them to who we chose to be and how we choose to live our lives.

9) Increasing happiness in my life. Seeing all these beautiful things coming alive in my life has increased my happiness immensely in such a short period of time. It has given me back a brighter attitude about life and a sense of more being grounded in life. As I look at things with a more hopeful attitude, I see and appreciate blessings that I have been missing when I have had my head down a bit. Looking up, being hopeful changes everything.

10) Expanding my gratitude and appreciation for life. When things are hard, it is easy to miss out on all the great things around us. I am so enjoying living more simply and appreciating all the little things about life around me. From sweet little moments with The Bug, to a kiss on the forehead from The Man in the morning, to a nice song on the radio or a beautiful rose clipped and brought into the house there is beauty to appreciate and drink in found in every single day. Not to be missed because it won't be coming back ever again in exactly the same way.

To illustrate my new open eyes, all the photos above were taken on the front sidewalk of our apartment building. Guess how often I notice all those beautiful flowers as I whip in and out of the apartment building garage below. Practically never would be a good guess. A few  nights ago as we returned from a long wander around our neighborhood, even though it was very dark, I noticed a couple of flowers and when I went back out the next morning I realized there were dozens more.

I took my camera out and just snapped photos for five minutes. Pretty great views I've been missing. This is what I'm talking about when I say that meditation is enlivening all my senses and the way I live my life. There's beauty all around us if we will just slow down and drink it in. Life is joy but only if we stop to notice it.

all images by kalanicut

25 November 2013

Great Gifts Under $10: Week Four

It's Monday again already and time for Great Gifts Under $10: Week Four. We're taking a family day today and going on a big adventure today to one of the local amusement parks. We're going to one that none of us has ever been to, so it should fun. Then tonight we are going to a pirate show dinner. I'm imaging we are going to be some VERY tired people by the end of the night. This should be a very adventuresome day!

While we are off riding rides and enjoying amusement park delicacies I'll leave you with three projects that are some of my favorite projects I collected to try this holiday season.

Wax-resist Technique Scarves: These pretty scarves were created by Elsie at A Beautiful Mess. I would like to make these in long, oblong scarves that would wrap around the neck a couple of times. I am also thinking about making gauze swaddle blankets for gifts with this same technique. I love that you could use any words or patterns on these.

Waterless Snow Globes: So gorgeous. These would be so fun to make with a variety of little creatures and trees and snowflakes. I like the idea of a collection of these together. These would easily store from year after year.

Beachy Love Sign: Tracy at Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures created this darling photo sign. She used a Cricut, but you could easily do this with an Exacto knife too. It would be easy to take any photo and any word and make something really special with this technique. It would be fun to use a family photo and cut it in the letters of the family's last name. This could be personalized for birthday gifts, weddings or just about any event. Sweet and simple idea for a Christmas gift. 

So those are my fun gifts under $10 for this week. If you try any, let me know. I'd love to hear how it goes for you. I might try all of these this year. I am still really rummaging through a lot of ideas in my head for gifts this year. But I hope to get things done and in the mail soon. Still have no idea what we're doing for a holiday card this year. I usually am already working on that. Zoinks. Sending you best wishes for a very lovely day!

See all the series here:
Week One
Week Two

Week Three

image one via A Beautiful Mess
image two via HGTV
image three via Tracy's Trinket and Treasures

22 November 2013

Gift Wrap Class 3: Be Prepared With The Basics

When I was a kid we seemed to never be able to find the tape, glue or scissors around the house. For some reason we had one roll of tape, one bottle of glue and one pair of scissors for the entire place and no one could ever find them and it was just always frustrating. Trying to wrap gifts during the holidays became a major frustration when everyone was trying to share one pair of scissors and one roll of tape.

So it may not surprise you to hear that I buy scissors, tape and glue sticks by the packs full and each is available in many locations around my home. You are never more than 10 paces from a glue stick or pair of scissors or tape. In my tool closet I have a bag of every kind of tape humans might ever have need of.

I find it easiest to have one bag and one drawer where I keep all my gift wrapping supplies. I have a supply of small gift tags usually already made, I have tape, scissors, and two or three kinds of very basic but good quality wrapping paper than can be used year round. You can never go wrong with craft paper, a solid color, stripe or polka dot in basic colors. But be careful buying really big rolls of paper because you may tire of it long before it gets used up.

You can really sass things up with ribbons, trims and cards, but having good basic papers will get you through a lot of wrapping and save you money and space. Buying a big multi-pack of holiday paper is such a nightmare and the paper often is poor quality, rips easily and has to be stored -and usually gets damaged- year after year.

Here's a list of basics I like to have in my Gift Wrap Supply Kit:

  • 2-3 high quality papers
  • Multiple rolls of good tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Foam adhesives
  • Boxes
  • Gift Bags
  • Ribbon, raffia and twine
  • ornaments, tags, paper crafts, natural elements
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Cellophane
  • Clear fishing line
  • Hole punch
  • Paper cutter

I'll go into more detail about what I use some of these things for, it won't be self-evident necessarily, in follow up posts. But that gives you an idea of basic tools that take gift wrapping from a time you want to tear your hair out to an enjoyable and quick opportunity to do something nice for someone else. Be ready and it will go much easier.

See the entire giftwrap series here:

Class One: A Little History
Class Two: Is It About You or Them?

21 November 2013

Lifehack: A Go To Source For Happiness Inspiration

Today I want to share an awesome resource for inspiration on happiness. As you know I've been working on upping my life energy, focusing on the positive and living a healthier, happier life. I keep finding links back to the web page Lifehack for great articles on mental wellness and the happiness  and the traits of people who have both....and how can I pass up an opportunity to pass a little happiness forward. It really only takes greater consciousness to be happier!

Here are a few of my favorites:

19 Timeless Secrets of Happy People
How To Train Your Brain To Be Happy
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

Lifehack also has some great articles for being effective at work, improving your finances and communication. It's a great spot to take just a few minutes to learn some new skills. Articles are straightforward and easy to follow, short on words, long on value. Hope you find something there that inspires you!

image by kalanicut

20 November 2013

Gift Wrap Class 2: Is It About You Or Them?

When I was younger, I worked wrapping gifts for businesses. So the wrapping looked "professional" and "fancy" but not necessarily cozy or filled with love. For my own gifts I often went above and beyond creating fancy gift wrap until I got to know a friend's mom.

She had a way of wrapping everything simply in tissue paper with a beautifully bright, chunky yarn or ribbon simply wrapped around it. Then she would create a small pile of pretty presents all wrapped the same and there was something about the presentation, energy and bright colors that just made her gifts seem so amazingly special. Everything was not wrapped in a specially sized box, she didn't fuss about sharp, perfect as a pin corner folds. She didn't spend lots of money of fancy ribbons or cards or tchotchkes she could add to the packages. But the receivers of her gifts always felt special, loved and excited to open her gifts -- which were also always lovely, simple and well thought out just for them.

This changed the way I did things from then on. Sure I still make my own tags, tie little things on, sometimes go a little crazy with a mountain of cellophane, but I realized the intent of my gift wrapping has evolved.

When I went all out to have the most fantastically decorated gifts my intentions were somewhat about me. I was in some way angling for props for my work, to hear people "ooh" and "ah" me. I wanted to feel special.  But when I focused on wrapping my gifts so that the recipients felt special that was a completely different intention, effort and outcome. My wrapping changed, my intentions changed and I think that was reflected in being a more thoughtful gift giver and gift presentation creator.

Now I think about the process of unwrapping and how I can make that last long enough so the receiver has a chance to let the moment sink in and to feel special opening the gift. Totally different intention. I make sure words on cards tell the real story of how dearly I feel about them. That there are exclamations of celebratory words and emotions - that I cheer them on.

So I do things differently these days and I celebrate gift wrapping beauty AND the perfectly imperfect. I am not so caught up on straight corners or matched patterns, but more about whether my gifts exudes a message of love and joy to the receiver.

I'll share part two of my gift wrapping philosophy and some gift wrap preparation basics in the next post later on Friday.

19 November 2013

The Power of Abundant Thinking

image via mca

I have been doing the latest Oprah/Deepak Chopra meditation series Desire and Destiny. It's been a great opportunity to further hone my meditation practice and to help me get my mind in a beautiful and positive place. I have really been enjoying it. Last week several days were focused on the law of abundance and how there is abundance always everywhere around us.

I have always been a big believer in the power of abundant thinking. But I have not been as good at having an abundance mentality lately as I should have. So I decided to really relax, listen and open my mind, heart and soul to it today. Abundance is everywhere. Abundance surrounds us and flows to us freely.

After I finished my meditation practice I journaled on a few related topics. First I made a list of all the abundance around me. A surprise call from a wonderful friend checking in on me, a peaceful morning to spend extra time meditating, a fridge full of wonderful food, a bevy of lovely people around me. There were so many lovely things to consider and appreciate.

As I sat on my bed writing I looked around the room and into the living room and dining room and perhaps for the first time or with very fresh new perspective I saw my home. Oh how I loved the bright orange touches everywhere, the neutral tones dashed with bright vivid color accents. In nooks of space all around me were small art projects I had created, garlands, framed art, thoughts written on pretty card stock, and plants I had started and nurtured.

On shelves were beautiful books filled with inspiration. Around the room were favorite items I've collected like a velvet soft little bunny, a large conch shell with bright pink insides, prayer jars and wish bowls, canisters of sand and shells, and baskets that organized and contained equipment and supplies so they are completely out of sight but always easily reachable. There were candles placed around the bedroom and the entire place, even not perfectly tidied, spoke to me. My soul sang, this was my home and it felt utterly perfect for me and it looked and felt like me, the me who wants to be centered...and joyful...and bright...AND spirited. I'd never seen my home in just that way or it had been a very, very long time. Hello abundance: lovely things, a perfect home.

Then I turned my thoughts outward. I made a list of friends and family I could share my abundance with. I have a tiny little project in mind to send out to a few people, just a little holiday decoration they might enjoy that I can easily make in large quantities. That was a fun list to make and it made me happy to think of sending out so much small and simple joy.

Next I turned my abundant thinking to projects outside the home. I am hoping to pick up a little extra work this holiday season. So I began looking and within moments had found a company needing help with a small project for the holidays. They are seriously located just about 4 blocks from my house. I immediately emailed them and within a few minutes had a reply and plan to go in and meet with them. I continued searching and found a couple more possible options.

Everything I did that morning seemed to turn to gold. I was amazed and encouraged. With each small success I was encouraged to be even more abundant and hopeful for good things to come. It's good to believe that something good is coming every day and that positive surprises are around every corner.I want to keep that abundant mentality going! Who knows what can happen when you just allow yourself to be open to good things awaiting you.

18 November 2013

Great Gifts For Under $10: Week Three

My sister has been going gangbusters trying out all sort of all natural, homemade recipes for body products. I thought for today's Great Gifts Under $10 I would share some recipes for great gifts you can make for the body. There is some investment that is going to be more than $10 total for the ingredients, but each gift should average out in cost to be well under $10 each.

In Week One I shared the very simple Eye Cream recipe. Here are a three more that would make lovely gifts. Not only can these be lovingly homemade they are also good for the body. The ingredients lists in so many body care products are filled with things that are harmful for the body but are cheap to use. Don't we all want our people taking better care of themselves and their bodies.

DoTerra Moisturizing Lotion Bars. My sister raves about these. You can use any brand of essential oils but I do hear great things about DoTerra brand. It's a great time of year for some extra TLC for the skin.

Wellness Mama's Homemade Deoderant Bar. The ingredients in most commercially produced deoderants terrify me for good reason. I love all the better options there are out there and this is one you can make. Wellness Mama has a ton of great recipes for products you can make at home.

Mountain Rose Herbs Homemade Lip Balm. Lip balm is very easy to make. Like any of these homemade products, a pretty jar and a homemade or even hand drawn sticker label make a perfect gift.

Here are a couple of quick packaging helps. For containers check out camping stores. They often have great little jars and bottles you can use for homemade products. You can also recycle small jars if you collect them as you go along. To make cute labels for your creations try using PicMonkey in the labels section. Here's a tutorial from BlissfulRoots.com. Then you can easily make real stickers with a Xyron sticker maker. They come in lots of different sizes and price points starting at about nine dollars. Great gifts, here you come!

Hope you enjoy trying out one or some of these Great Gifts Under $10 this holiday season. If you do, please let me know. I would love to hear from you.

See The Entire Weekly Series here:
Week One
Week Two
Week Four
Images via DoTerra.com, WellnessMama.com and MountainRoseHerbs.com

15 November 2013

Gift Wrap Class 1: Holiday Gift Wrapping History

I just realized that I never shared with you about my gift wrap class last week. I was already on my way into the full flu that day and I ran to teach the class and then came home to spend the next five days in bed. By the end of this week, the gift wrap class seems like it was a world ago. But there was so much pretty to share I have to recap!

I am going to break the posts down just as I outlined the class. One of the things I did was make these graphics introducing each topic of my class. Love a good pinecone, the woodgrain and red and white for Christmas. These really feel like me so very much that they make me happy just to look at them. I was whipping them out at the last minute just before the class, but I think they brought the whole thing together and made it feel cohesive.

Today I will tell you a little about my gift wrap experience. When I was asked to teach the class I started thinking about my past experiences gift wrapping. I had never put it all together to realize I really do have a gift wrap history and story.

In college I worked at a chocolate factory and spent hours wrapping boxes of chocolates to sell at holiday time. It was quite a good set up they had and you could whip out perfectly wrapped boxes quite quickly. Here I learned how to make pretty, square edges on wrapped boxes and to do it quickly.

About the same time a friend hired me to wrap her all the holidays gifts for her family. There were a lot of gifts! Great experience and a lot of fun. I started thinking quite seriously about this time about my gift wrapping and became quite detailed and intricate in my wrapping efforts. Stunning perfection was my goal. Looking back now I think I was overdoing it a bit back them.

I was also hired by the CEO of a newly booming company to help organize a holiday executives retreat Santa surprise. He took the management team to a beautiful mountain resort and while the group was dining, "elves" sneaked into each room and left an extensive display of gifts from Santa.

It was a major undertaking and pretty amazing to wrap all those gifts, keep track of them all and complete Santa's deliveries during the dinner event. Intense! Just shopping for ribbons, bows, paper and tape to wrap hundreds of boxes was like being a kid in a candy store. Each room had a different decorating theme and style. It was fun to gather ornaments and little natural elements to decorate each room. That was quite the experience and as I remember it was well below zero as we were doing the deliveries in snow the two years I helped with this event. What a great experience.

Since them I have done a lot of gift wrapping for myself and others. Almost every year my mom or my dad will recruit me to wrap stuff the night just before Christmas. I have changed my style and gift wrap philosophy over the years but have always loved wrapping gifts. I love giving a pretty wrapped package that the receiver is excited just to look at. There is something very special about that.

I'll post more in coming days all about gift wrap. There's lots more to talk about!

14 November 2013

Thankful Thursday

I decided not to do Thankful November this year. Rather than sharing thanks daily, I thought once or twice or maybe weekly might be better and doing a lot of soul-searching and inspired reading of late, I have had lots to think about. Last weekend I was still sick and feeling crummy and desperate for some inspiration to drag me out of the dregs of fever and flu. I did some inspired watching and some inspired reading and felt a light bulb moment happen...one that has happened time and time again.

Our misery in life comes from our holding on to expectations of how things should be, rather than reveling in what we have been blessed with - in realizing that we have everything we need already. As often as I press myself to live in the present, to be grateful for all I have, I STILL get caught up in focusing on how I am going to handle it if God doesn't give me the things I planned on having for my life.

And so with that thought in mind I am thinking about 10 things I'm thankful for in this moment.

1) I am thankful for modern medicine. I have lived a life of pretty excellent health, but the past two years I have had some pretty serious health events all of which have turned out well. I may have a little residual effect throughout the rest of my life, but overall I am back to the realm of normal with each issue. By the time you read this, I will have had a little surgical procedure this week, hopefully the last of any health issues I will need to deal with for a while. God bless my doctor who makes me laugh. My last appointment was a comedy routine between the two of us from start to finish. Made the entire thing effortless and painless. Love that.

2) I am thankful to have a fantastic man in my life. This is a guy who goes to war, is completely artistic in every way and makes me laugh hard. He is a fighter and a big time survivor. I don't know anyone who has been through more than he has in life and is still standing. When I first met him I seriously said, "Ah, this won't last a week," but little did I know we were perfectly suited for each other on a million levels. Shows you what I know. (That right there should be a major life lesson for me!)

3) I am thankful to have the most amazing stepdaughter God could've ever given me. This kid, she makes me laugh, she brings me to tears and teaches me lessons every day. Some days the things God puts in her mouth stun us and give us such great joy in the woman God has created her to be and what she will do to bless this world throughout her life. This is the kid who in the middle of the Dodger Stadium parking lot held my cheeks in her hands and said completely out of the blue, "God knows....God knows what you want." Crazy wonderful kiddo. Despite her "old soul" she is still fully and completely seven years old in all the best ways and a ball of giggling, squealing, learning and questions every day. How blessed am I?!

4) I am thankful to have creativity in my life. Oh, my soul would die without it. I am surrounded by creative people (including my two housemates and family) and inspiration at every turn. I love that my mind loves to not only make things, but to turn over and over again ideas and plans about how to make things. God even blessed me with a new Michael's craft store just down the street from my house this year.

5) I am thankful for creative, inspired friends. This year I have loved having a weekly Skype brainstorm/barnstorm with a dear friend. What a blessing that has been. We have been sharing our writing and I can feel that my writing has deepened and improved this year, as has my process. I don't think this would've happened without her influence. It seems that all my close friends are creative artists at heart who have also spent time in the corporate world. We all seem to share a business/artist mentality and approach that seems to benefit our relationships and life projects so well. I adore hearing about my dear friends creative projects of the family, home and heart!

6) I am thankful for courage and strength. I am in a phase of life where I feel as if I am at the last mile of an all-uphill marathon run. The past five years have been nothing if not phenomenally challenging and oft times seemingly impossible to overcome. And yet, here we are, all still standing. I feel as if I am about to come over that crest and see the gifts of this time, rather than just the hardships and suffering. I look forward to entering that time and that new phase of life. I can see it but I'm not quite there. Until then courage and strength, or our little family mantra "Brave and Strong" will continue to carry me there.

7) I am thankful (at least trying to be-eek!) for new phases of life. I am getting older, there is no overlooking this as my hair becomes lighter and lighter and I am beginning to lose sight of the young me in the mirror. It's hard to accept that your "young and sassy" days may be behind you, it happens amazingly quickly. But I am trying to see the joy in this phase of life.I am trying to look for the best in this situation as it appears there is no avoiding it. Haha.

8) I am thankful for the blessing of acceptance and gratitude. A few weeks ago I was thinking about some "unfulfilled expectations" for my life. When I first met "The Man" I thought it opened the door for all those things to happen and stunningly, that door has not opened. That has been a difficult cross to bare. God apparently had other plans and yet I still hope for those things to come, against seemingly greater and greater odds. One day it came to me as I found myself angst-ing over these things that all God wanted from me was to be the best me I can be every day. There is nothing else I need to do that that I do not already have. He wants me to live happy, do my best with what I do have, and be grateful for the wonderful life I have. I can do those things. When I think in those terms, life feels much less overwhelming and I feel much less burdened. I feel free. I think that is what he wants for us. He wants us to feel free and blessed.

9) I am thankful for nature. It seems there is nothing better for the soul than time in nature. It connects us with our creator, it connects us with ourselves. And is there anything that matters in life more than those two things? Probably not. When all else fails us, Mother Nature is still standing there with open arms waiting to connect us to God and ourselves.

10) I am thankful for simple, daily pleasures. One of the things we have instituted in our house this year is Tickle Time right after school. This is the time to take off the "baggage" of the day, laugh, talk and relax together as a family. I find it makes the rest of the day much calmer and more organized when we can get out a little energy in the afternoon. This is a new daily pleasure. Bedtime is another daily pleasure, as is tending to plants, making meals, taking walks, and laughing at anything and everything possible. Taking time to smell the roses over the past five years especially has taught me some very poignant lessons, as have loss, grief and separation. We are here in this day and this is all we are promised. We cannot allow it to flit away without having taken it in deeply in some way, big or small.

I've love to hear what is deeply touching your gratitude buttons this year. Have life lessons brought you new appreciation?

13 November 2013

Relearning The Sense of Wonder

I have a very young but fabulous teacher in my life these days. Among many things she is teaching me, one of her lessons she is teaching me is to relearn the sense of wonder. I can't tell you how many times we stop along the walk home from school to look at things. There is one yard with a beautiful garden in front of it and we stop there for sometimes ten minutes on the way home looking for ladybugs and enjoying the gardeners work.

Many times over the years she has spent hours creating art installations from things she finds. Once it was a pile of twigs arranged vertically in an old stump. Another day it was a found balloon in a circle of tall weeds on the beach. Some days we collect shells and go on long beach walks. Other days we head to the beach for sunset viewing and deep breathing.

Oftentimes she will engage me in a game of naming all the dogs we can think of or all the birds we can name. She notices things that neither her dad nor I see all the time. It's a great reminder for us to lift our heads up from phone and computer screens, spend more time outside, and see and appreciate the world around us.

As a grown up it can be hard to have patience for a child's sense of wonder. We always have something we want to be doing, need to get to or need to get done. Slowing down and noticing all around us is a skill that seems to die as we get older.

I am so grateful, even when I so want to rush things along, that she is teaching me to to remember my own sense of wonder and appreciation for all around me. The most beautiful things in life require us to slow down to be able to see them and drink them in.

My eyes are open to seeing more detail in photos and movies, noticing small things I tend to gloss over, taking more time to just stop and look around. I have been over the moon about sunsets this week and we have been having some phenomenal ones. We even enjoyed sunset at the beach twice in the past four days. Heavenly. It's a good lesson, you have to sit and wait for the sunset to unfold. You can't have it all at once, you have to sit and drink it in as it constantly changes and then sinks away beneath the waves. Patience is required.

So three cheers for my wonderful professor of wonder! She's such a peach. Love her, love her, love her. Thanks for making me a better woman little lady!

12 November 2013

10 Simple Acts To Help You Find Your Peace

After being sick and taking care of sick people the past few days I will say that I started to go a little batty. Friday night I was so sick that I was waking up every two to three hours because my throat was hurting so badly. It was cry worthy but I was too tired of being sick to have any energy to cry. So I kept gargling with warm salt water all night and watching episodes of parenthood on my computer in bed when I couldn't sleep.

I have not been feeling peaceful. But I have been trying to take small steps every day to get more centered and as I am feeling better I am realizing that the craziness I was feeling was very much to do with having a fever, being stuck in the house and in bed most of the days and just feeling crummy. No amount of lemon-lime soda or anything else is going to make that better sometimes. But it got me thinking a lot about things one can do to regain a measure of peace during difficult times, whether it be trouble with health, family, relationships, work, finances or what may come.

I decided I would create a quick list of 10 things we can do when we need to regain our peace. It seems so often when we are in that not so beautiful place in our lives, it's hard to find something to grab onto, feeling adrift and frustrated. But a quick list means that there are likely at least one or two things that will call our to a person no matter what their troubles. So without further adieu here is my list of 10 easy thing you can do to help regain your peace.

1. Pray: Best option of all to be sure. I honestly had a prayer in the past week where I just said, "God, I can't talk about it, but you know. I just can't go into it, I don't have the energy or the words. But I know you know. I need to know you know and I need your help to give me the strength to continue and to bless the circumstances." Sometimes that is all we can do. But whatever we can do in prayer, it helps. If there is one things I firmly believe, it is that while God can't change our circumstances every time, He will bless us with His peace EVERY time if we just turn to Him and ask. Some days all we need is the opportunity to say thank you for what we do have that reminds us of how blessed we are and picks us up and lifts us to a higher plane.

2. Read something inspiring. Sometimes I even carry an inspiring book in my purse -- now I just carry my phone, but in the olden days, haha... I read self-help books, scripture, inspiring quotes, beautiful personal experiences shared in blog posts -- there is inspiration everywhere if you look for it. Drink it in.

3. Watch something inspiring. There are so many amazing talks and interviews online now. From Ted talks to Super Soul Sunday to online religious services there is so much available. Some days reading just requires too much of us and we really need to just get away. Some days watching something inspiring trumps reading. I find when I am very tired or stressed, watching something works better for me than reading.

4. Phone a friend. Last week I had a wonderful hour-long phone chat with a dear friend. We laugh that every time we talk it's like free therapy for both of us. A trusted, loyal friend can often say just the right thing or hear us in just the right way to soothe our souls and make everything feel doable again.

5. Get out into nature, take a walk, get some exercise. Last Saturday I dragged us to the beach to watch the sunset for an hour. It was a gorgeous sunset, that's it above. I love that sunset communion time when everyone on the beach has their attention focused in the direction of the sun. It's fun to look around and watch other people as they experience the sunset. Some take a loved one's hand, some stand straight and breath deeply, it almost feels like church in those few beautiful moments. My heart rate slows, my mind clears, my skin feels the cool sand as I curl my sweater around my shoulders as temperatures drop. Some days it's a walk around the blog, a swing in a swing, a view from a roof top. Mother nature is truly a mother to our souls and just was a loving mother would comfort an unglued child, Mother Nature knows how to reach our souls and calm us. 

6) Create something. Making something is a great way to unite our body and soul in joint action. It can be something as simple as a paper chain or as complex as a painting or sewing or quilting project that will take many months. You might make a vision board, my life chart or a collage of things that make you happy. Taking a few moments to create puts us in the present moment and gives us takeaway results.

7) Make a list of what you CAN do. One day when I was sick last week I just made a list of what I could do that day, what was reasonable. My list included reading, writing, cleaning the kitchen and running a couple of small, simple errands. I did not get everything done, and even though I felt crummy all day I was still able to cross a few things off. That gave me a nice sense of accomplishment that day and made me feel like the day wasn't a total loss. Some days doing just three or four little things in a few minutes time may be all we can do, but accomplishment brings calm, feelings of worth and accomplishment and can carry us through until we are able to do more.

8) Pamper Yourself. One challenging days this may mean just taking or making the time to take a shower and brush your teeth. One day while I was sick I took a chunk of the afternoon just to shower and blow-dry my hair. I didn't rush and rested at times, but it felt so good be freshly scrubbed. Another day I soaked my feet in Epsom Salt and gave myself a pedicure. I was exhausted by the end and it wasn't the prettiest job I'd ever done, but it made me feel a little prettier. Some days pampering yourself may mean splurging at a spa. Do whatever you can, but no act is too small that you won't appreciate it.

9) Take a nap. Sometimes we lose our balance because we are just plain tired. A nice nap can turn the whole thing around some days. A nice velvet eye mask, some peaceful music and a cozy spot may be just the ticket for a few minutes of quality, recuperative rest.

10) Do a guided relaxation meditation. You can find thousands of these on YouTube and many downloadable audio versions on iTunes. I used these for myself and The Bug when we were sick and had a very difficult time resting last week. It worked for both of us and helped us at least relax more and we did both get a few minutes of extra rest. These can also be a great way to settle you down so you can sleep before bedtime. Sometimes having a voice directing you to what you need to do and where you need to go relieves us of our need to be in charge and allows us to just follow the path to a peaceful place.

I have to add this in as well. I found it just as I had finished writing this post. This is Mariel Hemingway and partner Bobby Williams on OWN's Super Soul Sunday talking about the 6 doctors who are available to us anywhere, anytime. Such simple genius. Great reminders!

Again there is no rocket science here but I know when I'm feeling ruffled it's hard for me to start looking for ways to get out from under it. Hope this short list will help. I will probably be turning to it more than anyone. It's good to have reminders.

11 November 2013

Remembering Our Veterans

This is a particularly poignant Veterans Day for our family as we have a recently returned veteran in our home. Let me just say that the sacrifices made by our military service members and their families are far and beyond anything I might have imagined, growing up with no real experience with military life. The impact of military deployment on families is not just for the few months they are away but the months in advance that they prepare, the time they are gone and for a long time afterwards. They are apart often, much beyond official deployments.

I saw it captured so well by author Liz Bell Young, who recently published In The Wide Country Of Love, the story of her own family's experience with military deployment. Liz, featured on DesignMom last week said, "Even the thought of that time makes my heart drop." I know that exact feeling and often wonder if I always will. I look at the photos of our deployment time with feelings of deep sadness and jubilant triumph at having survived it. And survival, in that context has many meanings: physically, emotionally, relationship wise, financially, and in so many other ways. 

I heard recently that there are over 1 million OEF/OIF (Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom) veterans now. That tells me there are at least 1 million families challenged by the struggles of post war stress, adjustment and injuries. I am grateful for a generation of military spouses who are speaking up, telling their stories and taking charge, with their spouses, of their futures and their families. This is one powerful group of women (and men), who I am glad to be a part of. They have taught me a great deal.

I have two fathers-in-law who fought in Vietnam and were career military. I thank them for their service and all who have served through times of war and peace. I of course thank The Man for his service. And I thank every one of the men and women (and their families) who I pass regularly on bases in our area and throughout all the world. Thank you for your sacrifices. May God bless you to stay strong, safe and well.

Great Gifts Under $10: Week Two

It's week two of my new series for the holidays called Great Gifts For Under $10. I have so many to share that I can't wait for another Monday to roll around. I'll also be back later this morning to post a tribute to our veterans, including one handsome one who I share a home with.

This week for great gifts I'm sharing four projects, two of my own and two from other bloggers. I'll start top left and work my way around.

1. Refurbished Wood Bowl. Here's a link to how I created a gorgeous wood bowl from a hunk of thrift store junk, inspired by the gorgeous and not inexpensive natural wood bowls at ABC Home in NYC. I also did a tray you can see here. You can buy old varnished wood bowls from thrift stores for a couple of bucks. Then all you need is sandpaper and food grade wood oil or beeswax. Absolutely gorgeous results.

2. Birch Bulletin Board. Little did I know when I first posted about this project from Ever Kelly, that Kelly would become one of my dearest friends. This is such a pretty project and would be great to brighten up a workspace or kitchen! Kelly gives a great tutorial. Image by Kelly Lee-Creel.

3.Stackable Bracelets. These are so easy to make and you can make them in all sorts of styles, colors and varieties. This is a easy gift to crank out in multiples and you can really personalize each set for the person you gift to.You could even make a few and mix and match them with inexpensive store bought bracelets. There are a bajillion DIY tutorials for bracelet projects on Pinterest and YouTube.

4. Handpainted Dish Towels: These are by the very talented Jenny Steffens Hobick of Everyday Occasions. You can find all the instructions at the link. There are so many pretty things you can do with this project. This is another project you can really personalize for each recipient. Image via Everyday Occasions.

That's seven easy DIY gifts for under ten bucks I've shared in the past two weeks. Hope you are finding inspiration for things you can make this year. It's not about the amount you spend, it's about how well you give. Looking forward to trying out some of these myself. I am thinking a lot about fabric paint, stencils and silk-screening this year.

See The Entire Series Here:
Week One
Week Three
Week Four

08 November 2013

Let Me Tell You All About Flu 2013

image via mca

Apparently at some point we volunteered to be first in line for Flu 2013. Agh. Headaches, stomachaches, fevers and body aches. No one is getting much sleep. Usually the flu means extra tiredness and naps but not here, not now. It seems like everyone feels too yucky to sleep or sit still for long. There is a lot of moving from room to room, chair to bed to chair.

I joked with my good friend earlier this week that it didn't seem fair she was going to Hawaii and I was going to the gynecologist. Little did I know that in reality she was going to Hawaii and I was going to have the flu too. So not fair. Ha. We are impatient sick people at my house. Lying around after about 24 hours starts to drive us all crazy. We in day three and I am hoping the kiddo is headed for school today since she got sick first and seems to be on the mend. I hope it will be a quiet day.

If you are up for a little inspiration today, can I recommend a couple of my favorite Pinterest boards. Right now I find myself referring frequently to my Favorite Fall & Winter Fashion board,  Christmas and  Holiday DIY boards. Lots of pretty things to see and be inspired by for fashion and holiday planning.

I'll be back on Monday with a salute to Veterans Day and the second week of my new series on great gifts for under $10. November is going to be very action packed for us. I have a feeling it will be over in a blink.

07 November 2013

I Can't DIY Dining Chairs: The Hunt For Replacements

image via Overstock

If you've been around here for a while you may remember the extreme disdain I have for the dining room table and chairs we have in our eating area. I will first say that dear friends were kind enough to give me this set years ago. I will also admit that the wife, my dear friend, hated the set as much as I do, but at the time I was grateful for the gift. I never anticipated I would still have it six years later. But with all the constant changes in plans over the past few years it didn't make any sense to buy something new.

When I inherited the table and chairs I immediately reupholstered the chairs with fabric I had on hand. I picked a fairly neutral yellow color which sorted of blended in with the light wood to make the whole set seem not quite so offensive to the soul. A lack of contrast made the entire set less noticeable which was just what I wanted. Push the chairs in, put some eye-catching display on top of the table and shazam not so bad.

I've been excitedly watching bloggers creating their own dining tables for a while. I wrote about some of my favorites including these from Stylizimo and Talkin' Chow Playin' House. So I've been toying with this idea for a while. My only hesitation was the cost of new dining chairs. DIYing dining chairs just seems like a bit of a stretch.

As of the past few weeks, for some reason ALL the seats on the much hated dining chairs are coming unscrewed. The seats are falling off every one of the chairs and the screw holes are so stripped out that it's impossible to screw them back in. To me this in an announcement by the table itself that we should be done with it. (I do realize I could go to the hardware store and get some kind of adhesive, etc. that would fix the seats, but I prefer to think otherwise, haha)

image via Terrtry

I have narrowed down my plans for a table which I'll show you soon. I am strongly considering something like this or the one below. I am considering using either these legs or the ones from IKEA seen here, which Nina and Kara also used on their tables. I'm still looking at a couple of retail tables as well. We'll see what I decide for sure in the coming weeks. But I do have an image of a table in my head that I am liking.

However the bigger issue is chairs. Sure I could DIY a kitchen table for less than $80 but I couldn't see how I could add chairs for less than several hundred dollars. And so I waited and budgeted. I think by the end of the year I'll be ready to make a decision and make things happen.

I would like to incorporate a bench or maybe two benches and then two chairs on the ends. We don't use much space for just the three of us so it would be great to have bench space on the sides to save some money and space. It would be so each to push the benches under the table and totally out of sight when we need to, in the tight space we have in the dining area. Here are a few chairs I am liking from Overstock. I'll share another post with benches soon.

Chair 1 (above): Emerson Wood Dark Vintage Dining Chairs. I like these because they are very much like chairs we had when I was younger, although not quite a sturdy looking. I'm not sure how comfortable they would be and unfortunately there aren't any ratings yet. I might want to paint the metal parts silver. Hang on, we're just getting started.

Chair 2: Julia Zig Zag Grey Dining Chairs. These are a little trendy but since I've pretty much done nothing with chevrons or zigzags in my home, it wouldn't be bad to bring in a bit. I like the gray tones. Well, here's a turn of events. I just pulled this photo a few days ago and now the chairs are nowhere to be found on the site. So I linked to the Julia chair, different fabric though. Maybe they will reappear soon. I guess that's a sign that Julia is a popular girl.

Chair 3: St. Thomas Indoor Wicker Washed Out Brown Winged Back Arm Chair. I like these if I could have two on the ends of my table. I think the color and style would go really well in our home. I am trying to lighten up on some of the woods and wickers, we have a lot of very dark brown now. This would complement in a nice contrasting way. I am thinking of doing the table in a lighter wood, so if I did, that would be great. It would be a little tricky to find benches in the same shade that would work, but maybe it's possible. I'm just not sure how comfortable these would be.

Chair 4: Wishbone Chair With Leatherette Seat. I would very likely reupholster these seats, but I love the shape and the light colored wood. Would be a nice combination with a very simple table. I was surprised how positive the ratings were for this chair. My only concern is how the front legs stick up beyond the seat. You can see the hemp seat version at the top of this post.

Chair 5: Orange Parsons Chairs. I have liked the idea of a dark brown table and orange leather or microsuede parsons chairs for quite a few years now. I'm not sure I'm still loving it. But these would be a nice punch of color around a dark table. I have orange everywhere in my house so they would tie in easily and be nice and basic.

So that's my first roundup of dining chair options for the new table. I think I will start construction on the table in early December. Until then I'll keep revisiting the dining chair and bench options. It's good to have some time to work things out. Do you have a favorite of these or another dining chair you are gaga over these days? I'd love to hear about it.

06 November 2013

Anthropologie Winter Display Event: Cardboard Ornaments

I have been so excited to share this post with you. I found out on October 30 that it was again time for the Anthropologie Winter Display event. The timing for these events sneaked up on me this year. Last year I was registered and so excited to go and then the morning of the event, I got busy and forgot to go. I was crushed. So sad.

When I realized it was on again this year I quickly found out that I was behind the eight ball because most of the dates had already past. I was lucky enough to find two classes in my area still available (imagine that within an hour of my house there are at least 10 stores). So I picked one, called first thing the next morning and was thrilled to get a seat at the table.

We made decorations for the store holiday tree using single faced corrugated cardboard sheets. Cut into long pennant shaped strips, you can make all kinds of different designs. A paper clip is all that is needed to create the hooks on the ends. We used a glue gun to attach the paper clip to the edge of the widest end of the cut cardboard. Then using the glue gun you do a few inches at a time and roll it up towards the skinny end. You can also make doubles by attaching paper clips to both ends and then hooking another ornament's paper clip onto one end. A small cardboard cover on the paper clips made them even more festive. It was amazing how no two ornaments ever really looked alike.

With more than a dozen people participating it was amazing to see all the variations on a theme and the different ways you could glue, attach together and paint these simple strips into charming ornaments for the tree.

 We had a selection of metallic paints in golds and bronzes which beautifully complimented the kraft brown paper. There were equally as many shiny, sparkling personalities at the table too. Along with all the tools we needed there was fun conversation, encouragement and laughter.

Here are the ornaments that I made. I painted all of them even though in these photos it doesn't look like it. The darker ones are actually painted bronze with gold highlights. The all gold seem to stand out a little more, at least in the photos.

I am hoping that some time during the next couple of months I can pop back down to Torrance and see the decorated tree and maybe even find one of two of my ornaments. The store was so kind to send us away with a little goody bag with supplies so we can make a few of these at home. I am looking forward to making them with The Bug. I think she'll like this project.

So that was my fun adventure at the Anthropologie Winter Display event. I've already made a note in my phone calendar to start watching for dates come the beginning of October.

all images by kalanicut

05 November 2013

A Pin Test #17: Halloween Scary Eyes In The Bushes

This is a very belated Halloween post, but since it's Pin Test #17, you can pin it for next year! I've been wanting to try this scary eyes in the bushes pin by Thrifty Crafty Girl Priscilla since I first pinned it sometime earlier this year. If there was a week to test it, it would be Halloween week. Then I ran out of glow sticks due to getting overly zealous cracking them open to hand out at the Trunk or Treat activity. I didn't get a chance to buy more before Halloween so I didn't get a chance to test it until very late in the game.

I just drew the eyes on with a pen and then cut them out with scissors. These are my first, experimental three I tried. I saved the rest to do with the family for family night last night, knowing the lighting would be bad and it would be hard to get a photo. And I say that because this photo is so fantastic...not...ha.

I had hoped to put these in the tree in our front entry but then realized that the front courtyard is now very bright, so I positioned then in the plants on the balcony garden. In the original Pin Test, Christmas lights were used and then in the comments someone recommended glow sticks. I liked that idea. So that's what I used. I like the idea of all white eyes with the Christmas lights though. I may try that sometime when I have a little more space.

Here's how they looked positioned in the planters on our patio. That was about the best we could do for bushes at night. Getting a good photo was a challenge and you can obviously see the toilet paper rolls, but I think if these were positioned in bushes they would be pretty cool. I used glow in the dark bracelets that come in the 15 pack and put one in each and after a few minutes they were not that bright. If I were going to do these in the yard I would either buy bigger glow in the dark lights or I would put in two or three bracelets.

So I would say despite the fact that this post was one of the most troublesome posts I've worked on in a while the idea is a hit. I would definitely do this again and use them in the yard for Halloween. I would love to see a front yard lit up with them in the trees and bushes. You could probably use small cardboard boxes to create a variety of sized heads in the bushes. Sounds like a fun way to welcome guests to your doorstep.

Pin Test #17 after a lot of pain and suffering, haha, is in the books. I give it a thumbs up.

04 November 2013

Great Gifts For Under $10: Week One

Starting a new series today that I hope will run right up to the week of Christmas. It's called, as you may have guessed from the title, Great Gifts For Under $10. This is going to be a series filled with ideas I really love and think are way cooler than what they cost. These will be great ideas for DIYers and some will be easy things you can just pick up quickly at a local store.

The key to great gift giving is not the dollar amount but it's all about presentation. A phenomenal wrapping job is as much a part of the gift as the gift itself. The most exhilarating parts of getting a gift is seeing how beautiful it looks and the unwrapping. The excitement and anticipation in the opening is my all-time favorite part. So making a fuss about how pretty the gifts look really bumps up the value, appreciation and love for these great gifts that don't cost a fortune. I'll be doing some gift wrap posts soon. For my first week, I am going to highlight a few previous Pin Tests that would make great gifts.

  • Lettuce Stamps: a set of pretty cards made with lettuce or celery stamped flowers would be so pretty. They're easy to make with a few sheets of card stock and ten envelopes. You could even embellish them by stamping the recipients initials on each one.
  • Homemade Eye Cream: Super easy recipe. Bottles and jars are available many places for just a dollar or two. This is a good project to make quite a few of these at a time. Would be a great girlfriend gift! You can make a lot out of two bottles of the ingredients. Super inexpensive but you could make this such a great gift with an inexpensive but fun little jar, handmade label and a really charming wrapping presentation.
  • Eternity Scarf: I don't think this one was actually a pin test in the end but I did use a pin, linked to a blog post for the pattern. Here's the trick with the eternity scarf, the yarn can get very expensive, but if you take advantage of  sales and 40-50% off coupons like you can get from Michaels or Joann you can get two skeins of yarn for about $10. The needles obviously would be an additional expense. 

So that's the first week of Great Gifts for Under $10. Looking forward to sharing all the ideas I've been gathering for great gifts this year. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to give memorable, love-filled gifts. I'll have more ideas for you next Monday. Tomorrow I'll have a new pin test for you. I'm looking forward to this lead up to the holiday season. I'm teaching a class on gift wrapping at our church on Wednesday night. I'm looking forward to it but have a good bit of prep to do. I have my outline written up, just need to gather all my visual aids. That should keep me busy for the next couple of days.

See The Entire Weekly Series Here:
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four
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