Homemade Gifts in a Jar Ideas
For some reason, I had been feeling really inspired to make some homemade gifts in a jar for friends this year. I didn't really know what to put in the jar...just think anything in a jar makes a cute present.
I really think a "Me Day" is in order! I'm starting to get a little bit of that Christmas panic feeling. I have so much to do, so many Christmas presents to buy, I haven't finished decorating, I haven't made one cookie yet, and every day is getting closer and closer to Christmas! I'm running out of time!! AHHHHH!!!!!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
I just saw over at Moneysavingmom an offer for a free birthday card from TinyPrints.com. Use code FREEBD at checkout. Not sure when it expires.
Shipping is free if mailed directly to you, or the price of a stamp if mailed directly to the recipient. You can select the day you want it to arrive.
It's really nice having a card sent out automatically. I always seem to remember birthdays way in advance, have the card all ready to go, and then forget about it and end up sending it out late.
I've gotten a number of free cards from them over the past year and they are sooo nice and the personalization is a BIG hit with everyone I've sent them too. It's like a little gift itself.
Off to make my free card! I know cards are only a few bucks, but getting free ones makes me absolutely giddy!! :)
For the year before I was pregnant, I was baking pretty much everything from scratch...bread, bagels, rolls, pizza dough, English muffins, soft pretzels, pita bread, muffins, granola, granola bars, and more, I'm sure. I was a baking MACHINE!
And it was really fun, frugal, easy, satisfying, and everything tasted SO much better than store bought. It's so great knowing and controlling everything that's going into your baked goods..and scary when you realize how basic everything should be and all the junk added to everything in the stores!
But with a toddler running around now, baking just seems incredibly daunting.
I know I need to just jump back into it. I do miss the satisfaction of it. And I would really love to have homemade healthy snacks for my daughter.
So I decided to start doing "Baking Days" again. By dedicating a few hours once or twice a month, I can store extras in the freezer and get the mess over with all at once. Plus, it really helps to start with a plan in place.
If you've never baked from scratch before, I'd highly recommend giving it a try, even just starting with one recipe. I started off making bread and dough with my bread maker but lately make just about everything using the dough attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer (which I LOVE..thank you Aunt Linda!!).
I thought I'd list my baking day plan here on the blog, so you all can keep me accountable! My husband is deploying with the Air Force the beginning of December. I'm trying to fit in as much Christmas before then, so I'll get started on Christmas cookies. I also have some pumpkin to use up before it's out of season.
I'm going to try out some new recipes for "healthier" cookies and snacks...made without or with limited refined sugar and flour. I will update you with how everything turns out!
Here are the recipes I'm planning on making (baby permitting!):
Chocolate Butterhorns (like chocolate croissants..AMAZING!)
My all time favorite "Snow Ball" Christmas cookies
Itty bitty carrot cake cookies
Pumpkin pie banana chunk oatmeal cookies
Wedded Bliss Soft Ginger Cookies
Pumpkin butter oat squares
And do something with the beautiful head of cauliflower I got at the farm stand and has just been sitting in my fridge.
You'll notice most of the recipes come from a vegan blog. When looking for "healthified" recipes, I've found vegan recipes are a good place to start (like my yummy vegan Pumpkin Bread Recipe). Sometimes I un-veganize them though, depending what I have on hand (ie. butter and eggs).
A little over ambitious, I know. I just got a little excited about getting back into it. Rule #1 though, I don't stress about what I don't get done. I'll probably give myself several days to get as much done as possible. I'll let you know soon how it goes!
Sunday, November 20, 2011
This one was especially good and easy to do: Not sure how long this will last, or if it will really go through, but I just saw this post on MoneySavingMom.com for a super easy $5. Check out the details here. And check out the rest of the site while you're there. It's literally changed my life!
Saturday, November 19, 2011
He started off with some oak wood planks from Home Depot. We liked the knotty, grainy look of the oak. They only cost around $50.
THEN....the best part!
He had asked me the day before how I wanted to finish the wood. He said he could just seal it as is, but I hate the look of raw wood. He said he could stain it, but I don't love that look either.
What I really love, from the bottom of my heart, is the look of this wood from Restoration Hardware:
I love the aged look of tables like this.
However, I do not love the thousand dollar price tag!
Fortunately, while blog surfing a few months ago, I came across this post on staining wood with steel wool and vinegar. Sounded kind of crazy, but I loved the look, which reminded me of the Restoration Hardware table.
So I told my husband I wanted to stain the table with vinegar...and he looked at me like I had finally completely lost my mind.
But being the wonderful husband that he is, he did some research about it on his own. He liked what he saw and decided to give it a try. Of course he took it to the next level and learned more about it than me. The stain process is called Ebonizing. The iron in the steel wool reacts with the tannins in the wood, to create that aged look. It stains the fibers of the wood instead of just sitting on top like regular stains, so it's really durable. You need to use a wood with a high tannic acid content, which oak has, so we got lucky since that's what we already had picked out.
To make the stain, you soak pads of steel wool in vinegar, for at least overnight up to a week or so. More rust equals darker stain. Since we had a Thanksgiving dinner to serve to my family the next day and no table, we just went with an overnight soak. I read from some sources that apple cidar vinegar is best, but distilled white vinegar is fine and what we used (I use white vinegar as a fabric softener for my laundry and to destink my cloth diapers so always have a lot on hand...in case you ever wondered who it is that buys those giant jugs of white vinegar, it's me). You can also add a rusty nail to the mix, but we didn't.
My husband also read about using brewed tea as a stain, so he decided to give that a try too. The tea has a high tannic acid content it adds to the wood. He did some test pieces ahead of time with various combinations of the tea and vinegar stain. We liked the look of a coat of tea followed by the vinegar. He did one coat of tea followed by 2 coats of vinegar.
Now, here's the thing. The stain takes awhile to develop. My husband said he put on the coats of stain...and then stood there like an idiot holding vinegar in one hand and tea in the other...with a wood table top that look exactly the same! Luckily, before he went inside to scold me for a stupid idea, he went and cut the grass.
By the time he came back the table had started to darken. He ran in the house, shouting like a kid on Christmas morning..."Honey!! Drop everything and come look at the table!!!!" So I ran out..and it really was like Christmas morning. I had my dream table finally!!!
So this is the stain reaction a few hours after application, while it was still drying and processing. But already looked great! We brought it in the house and it continued to darken for the next few days. Heat seemed to speed up the process. Pretty cool!! We LOVE it.! The tea gave it a red tint, almost a purple in some spots. To get a darker stain, you'd need to let the steel wool sit longer in the vinegar, but we didn't want it too dark.
And for the legs, he painted them using the same technique as the dining room antique dresser, with a coat of white paint followed by finishing glaze rubbed on and wiped off.
The table is currently in the garage with the finishing seal drying. I can't wait to show you the finished product soon!!! :)
Friday, November 18, 2011
And even better...just for signing up now, you get a $10 gift card bonus to either Barnes and Noble, Home Depot, or Target! I love nothing more than holiday shopping with free money! :)
Barnes and Noble 8%
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Immanuel made coffee this morning, and for some reason it was really bad... bless his heart, haha. But really I'm pretty sure it was the "to go" cups they were put in that gave it a weird taste. But this coffee was un-drinkable so we decided to walk up to this coffee shop that is literally around the corner. It's one of those places that we drive by constantly and always say "we should walk up there some day" but haven't. So the bad coffee this morning gave us an excuse to go there :)
It's amazing how just doing something a little different in your day can be so liberating. We just sat outside for a little bit enjoying the beautiful day, talking, and enjoying our tasty cup of coffee. We absolutely love living in Lakewood having so much in walking distance. There's just something about walking to a place that makes it so much more special than driving there.
With a morning like this you can't NOT have a great day!
I was so excited that Brittany found inspiration from my post on DIY Halloween decorations, by creating these adorable light up jack-o-lanterns. So I thought I'd share some more inspiration for DIY Fall and Thanksgiving decorations.
Here are some of my favorites:
I have a love affair with DIY wreaths, like my Valentine's wreath here, and my Spring wreath here. It's been a great way for me to break into crafting. You can find some great Fall wreath inspiration at my new favorite craft site, U-Create. You can buy plain wreaths and wreath forms for cheap at any craft store and add anything to them. LOVE the look of the burlap here.
I love this "Count Your Blessings" jar. You could use any container you already have, anything to fill it, and just make your own cute little sign.
I love the idea for a "thanks board" and it looks pretty easy. I really want to work on bringing a more personalized touch to the home to surround me with more family pictures and things with meaning.
I was thinking you could also do one with your last name and hang family pictures below. You could buy pre-made wooden letters from Michael's or Joann's or just make your own templates and cut them out from scrapbook paper.
I love this "be thankful" board also:
You could do this with a phrase for any holiday. You could also make it on a piece of paper instead of the board and use a frame you already have (or get one at the dollar store).
And the Graphics Fairy is an awesome site with tons of free images. I love the vintage-y look!
(Something about this picture totally cracks me up! :)
I love ideas like this wheat basket that are so simple, but my very uncrafty mind would never think of on my own. Just find a basket or any container (look around the house, you may already have one), and add a ribbon and some wheat or other Fall looking fillers from a craft store.
Here's another take on the wheat that I love:
Friday, November 4, 2011