Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas on a Budget

It is finally safe to post all the things I made for Christmas this year!!!! I'm already looking for ideas for next year and determined to get an early start this time around!! I should say that handmade stuff can get expensive, so you still need to be aware of your materials costs if you're making things. I'm not sure I've ever paid full price for a fabric and I'm a big fan of the JoAnn remnants cart. I keep all my scraps and old clothes and they come in handy with smaller projects. Be creative with your materials and you can do quite a bit "on the cheap". I haven't yet separated out Christmas specifically, but we managed to stick to our gift budget for 2008---we spent just under $600 for the year (that includes birthdays, mother's day, father's day, teacher gifts, etc...). On to the list!!

1. Rag Quilt. This was Sierra's present. It's quick and easy to do. This was actually Josh's first big sewing project--as long as I was around to answer questions, he was able to do this by himself while I worked on something else
2. Tea Wallet. These were super quick to make and are a neat little addition to a "wellness pack". She also has direction to make it a credit card holder.
3. Hot/Cold Packs
4. Chicken Scratch Book Marks--I put a layer of felt in mine to give it some stiffness, because that's what I had around. If you happen to have a scrap of timtex, peltex or flexifirm, you could stuff that in after sewing.
5. Fabric Doll Houses I ended up making 4 of these this year and helped friends with 2 more. They really aren't complicated even though they look like it at first! This was a great use for leftover quilt batting and fleece scraps I had.
6. Felt Cat Toys for the cat lovers on your list
7. Playing Card Books I would've loved these to pass notes on when I was in middle school. I used wood glue b/c I didn't have any E6000, and I used the super thin, flexible vinyl (sold with Halloween costume fabrics)for my binding
8. Zippered Make Up or Pencil Case easier than it looks. I made one that was okay, but I wasn't thrilled with, so I cut the zipper out of it (the only part that cost more than a few cents) and made another...the second was super quick and came out wonderfully.
9. Fabric ball great small gift or stocking stuffer for toddlers. Really quick to make.
10. Marshmallow Shooters A blow gun that will shoot mini-marshmallows 50 feet. For about $10, we got a 10 foot piece of PVC, all the connection joints and a big bag of mini-marshmallows....enough for 5 shooters and ammo.
11. Car care bucket Okay, nothing to make here, but a good, reasonably cheap gift, nonetheless.
12. Real Fudge A little bit of a learned skill, but sooo worth it
13. Easy Truffles I know just what a teacher needs after handling my precocious child all morning...a big dose of chocolate
14. Felt Food--I don't have a link for this one, but the idea is trace a CD onto felt, cut out two of them and sew together, flip right side out, stuff, hand sew the inner circle...instant donut. Decorate with "sprinkles" (embroidery floss or beads) before sewing if desired. Use different colors felt for an icing effect
15. Quilted hot pads--also no link. Find a fabric you like and a scrap of terry cloth. Cut to same size squares. Also cut out some batting (I used 4 layers of cotton quilt batting) the same size. Sew across the squares for a quilted affect and bind (there is a good tutorial on binding with mitered corners on

There were some purchased gifts as well as a couple of quilts thrown in there too. If you are looking for ideas, Check out the Sew Mama Sew blog. They have been doing a "handmade holidays" series every November where they link to several tutorials each day. If you look on the right hand side of their page, you can click on the tag links for Handmade Holidays and Handmade Holidays 2008...LOTS of ideas. The TennZen blog also has some neat holiday on a budget ideas listed under their Holiday tag (not all homemade, so there are some ideas for you non-crafty folks too!).

A few pictures of things I remembered to take pictures of:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I started a huge, triple-batch of sandwich bread this morning and Sierra wanted to watch. After I mixed up water, sugar, yeast, salt and oil, she said, "now you add the flour and put it in the mixer to make dough". I told her I was gonna do it by hand and she informed me that I was wrong, it was supposed to go in the mixer. Then we had this conversation:
Me: Well, in the old days, they always made bread by hand
Sierra: But momma, these are the NEW days, and we put it in the mixer

Don't get me wrong, I love my kitchen-aid mixer, but this is 6 cups of water and 16 cups of flour, no way it was going in the mixer!!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Baby Yoga

Sedona likes to stand up, put her head on the ground, and then lift her arms in the air. I finally got pictures...

Friday, December 26, 2008

My poor neglected blog

I have managed to tear myself away from the sewing machine, at last! Well, sort I just get to help Sierra with HER sewing machine, that she got for Christmas! The days (umm...and hours) leading up to Christmas were a sewing frenzy. I'm pretty sure there is still a hold out in the family that's not opening our presents until Sunday, so I still can't post particulars.

I do have some pictures to share, though I kinda gave up after about 10 shots of a blur as Sierra ran around the room.

Christmas eve-eve....Sedona THOROUGHLY enjoying a good, ol' fashioned PB&J:

I kept my nephew for a few hours on the 23rd...I decided to construct gingerbread houses so the two big kids could spend the morning decorate them. Not so sure this was a great idea-----I really didn't have the time to be baking and building houses the night before (there was that pile of sewing to do...), and I really didn't need a 4 and 6 year old hyped up on sugar running around the house while a 1 year old was trying to nap. Oh well, they had fun, and that's what counts, right?

Sierra has such a pained look on her face because the icing isn't even dry yet and she's already asking me, "can I eat the house NOW?" as if I've made her wait an eternity.

To keep them from destroying the houses, I decided we'd make shrinky dinks. I'm getting quite the collection of "kids staring at the oven" pictures...

Then it was Christmas Eve...time to open presents:

The collection of gifts...we were all quite spoiled

Sierra frantically handing out gifts

The girls opening their BIG gift...the grandparents got them a big train set to share

Sedona deciding big gifts are best viewed from an aerial vantage point. Once daddy and Pa-paw had assembled the train table, she climbed on top of that too.

Pa-paw with his BIG gift---why yes, that is 50 pounds of popcorn kernels. What do you DO with fifty pounds of popcorn kernels? I have no idea, but it cost the same as buying significantly less popcorn in smaller packages, so fifty pounds it was.

The girls all got matching aprons of the CUTEST fabric! Sedona doesn't quite get it, but Sierra was all excited and we donned our matching aprons while baking cookies for Santa

Then I got a Christmas Eve phone call that unexpectedly dumped a great potential business opportunity in my lap. Can't make it public yet, but I'm excited to explore the possibilities!!!!!

Then Christmas morning rolled around and I got...count 'em...ZERO good pictures of the girls, but I did end up with a picture of the dog :::rolls eyes:::

There were other cameras around, so I'm assuming there are also other pictures. Christmas morning, my brother came over and we did the gift extravaganza all over again and then ate Christmas dinner for lunch (and I managed to get all the food to the table while it was still warm this time...go me!)

Today I have blatantly abused the fact that my wonderful hubby is off work---I slept in, I went shopping alone, I went to the library alone and I sat on the couch and read a book. That's pretty much it. Tomorrow I have to get back to actually doing something.

I decided (as I was sewing Sierra's last gift about 3 hours before we opened presents) that I really need to work on this whole Christmas gift thing throughout the year. Unfortunately, everyone seems to do their holiday posts, holiday time. So, in the next few weeks, I'm gonna assemble a list of links for things I made and post it here. Then I'll remind those procrastinators out there about it closer to Christmas time ;-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

An early Christmas goodie

Josh's brother has been here visiting...we all enjoyed spending time with him, it was a bit of an early Christmas present. After we dropped him off at the airport, Sierra's bottom lip started quivering and her eyes filled up with tears and she said, "I miss Uncle Coo, I'm upset". It was pitiful.

He introduced me to Pandora, which I can't believe I didn't know about before now! He also brought his nice camera, so we have lots of pictures to share....

Okay, these were actually with my cheap camera while we were waiting for Josh and his bro to get here, but whatever. This is the most snow I remember seeing in Texas in a long, long time. Unfortunately, we seem to be settling back into our "Falltering" pattern from last year---snow on wednesday, short sleeves by saturday, freezing rain and ice by tuesday. My poor, poor winter garden. At least the kids enjoy it though!

Sierra and Uncle Coo peeling 20 pounds of apples...I found another sale, so we made applesauce.

Playing at the park

Sedona's mad face (I admit it, she totally gets that from me)

Sedona getting her quilt that Aunt Jen-Jen made her

Talking to Santa Claus

Sedona swinging

Saturday, December 6, 2008

It worked!

Thanks to Dawn over at UK lass in US for stopping by to give me the confidence to give the doll house a try! It worked out great--one night of sewing and one morning of detail work. I should have added landscaping to the inside and maybe some little people, but since I procrastinated and waited until last night to start making a present I need for a birthday party today, this one is probably gonna stay pretty plain. Pictures:

Both my girls really liked it. Sierra keeps saying she wishes she could have one too and Sedona went for the direct approach of just stealing it off the table and screaming bloody murder when I took it back

Looks like I will be making at least two more of these (three? Sierra needs a gift to take to school for their gift exchange). Hoping to find the time to make little fabric people as well

And I always have to add random things onto the end of my posts...

The girls watching rolls bake (I don't get it either, but they were fascinated)

And another mystery Christmas present fabric picture

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I want, I want

I think this portable doll house is super cute and quite possibly the perfect "it's a cheap Christmas, let's appreciate the many things we have" gift for little girls. I want to make one for each of the girls, but I'm thinking there's not time. She says it's easy, but it looks a bit time-consuming, don't you think??

I just can't stand it!

It's driving me nuts not being able to post about all the things I've been making for Christmas. I just have to post SOMETHING, so here's an up close look of some of the fabric involved...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Saying Ahhhhhhh

Stephanie posted about a little challenge from Little Homestead in the City. The challenge was to "say ahhhhh" and post a picture of your food storage. Because I'm not quite awake and I have a very smallish child to chase after, I limited it to home canned food:

Some was home grown, some was purchased (in season and on sale) and I realized when I uploaded the picture that my sweet potatoes aren't on there---they're on the very bottom shelf, 17 qts of them. In addition to this, I have my actual pantry (with all the store bought food) that harbors about 15 pounds each of dried beans, oatmeal, and sugar, about 50 pounds of flour, several cases of evaporated milk and about 15 boxes of cereal, plus the other stuff that's only in "normal" quantities. And two deep freezes that are each about 3/4 full.

Oh, and I also have two adorable children that truly like each other:

(yes, the both fit themselves into a toddler sized bed when there is a full-sized bed meant for them to share only 5 feet away)
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