Friday, September 22, 2017

Customizing Christmas cards with Paperless Post (a review)

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out Paperless Post, a company that offers the capability to create one's own unique online and paper stationery.  There are many attractive designs for cards, invitations, and much more that can be completely customized to reflect one's own personal style (or, in the case of birthday cards, the personality of the recipient).  According to their About page, since 2009 Paperless Post users have sent out over 85 million cards for all occasions.

I was interested to try this out because I often send e-cards for holidays and birthdays.  It's been getting more difficult to find e-cards that I like everything about.  So the opportunity to customize my own digital cards with photos, personal messages, and more, seemed like a very good one.

Although I have only begun with seeing what Paperless Post has to offer, I'm impressed with it so far.

There is an entire category for holiday cards: Paperless Post holiday cards, featuring designs for a number of different holidays.  There also are many, many Christmas cards to choose from, and you can see them here: Paperless Post Christmas cards.

I decided to customize a photo card, so I chose an attractive design and got started.  The cards are completely customizable -- one can change the wording, change typefaces, text colors and sizes and much more.  These aren't at all like e-cards I've sent in the past where the design, greeting, etc. are put together in advance by someone else and I've just added a simple personal message.

It's very, very easy to upload your own photo.  I chose a mountain scene from our trip to Nevada this summer.

First there's the card front -- as mentioned above, there are many great designs to choose from.  The message on the front can be changed if you wish, the font made larger or a different color, etc.  Next, you can choose an optional backdrop to complement your card.  This isn't necessary, but it's fun and there are many backdrops to select from.  I used a sort of white stucco with greenery for my backdrop.

For many of the photo cards, there is a back side where you can also add photos and a greeting.  You can use their greeting or write your own, choosing the font, the font color, size, spacing, etc.  The envelope back is the next step; you can choose your color of envelope to coordinate with your card and then add an optional envelope liner which is lots of fun.  Again, loads of choices for these.  For the envelope front, you again choose a font, etc. for the address.  You can choose a postmark and a stamp for your envelope.

The whole process was quite easy and fun.  It actually reminded me of the photo calendars and books I've made online, with the many options for personalization.  There is the option to send a card right away or to schedule it for a later date and time, a feature that I absolutely love.  I have three Christmas cards already scheduled to be sent to friends in December.

All in all, I've greatly enjoyed customizing Christmas photo cards with Paperless Post, and will be looking forward to personalizing and sending more of their cards to family and friends.  I would definitely recommend this site to my readers who might be interested in something like this.

This post was written in partnership with Paperless Post and Anagram Interactive, but obviously all opinions are my own and reflect only my experiences.   I've also begun customizing and scheduling a few birthday cards and have posted about that on my regular blog.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A few posts from the August archives

Graphic from The Old Design Shop
Here are just a very few posts from the August archives here at my Christmas kitchen.  I suppose that, at least for the past few years when I've been doing Christmas in July, I have a good excuse for August being rather a lean month as far as postings are concerned. 

How I adapted the “Christmas in a Can” idea might give others some inspiration for gifts to help with a family's Christmas celebrating.
A dollar store find inspired me to make this Quote Journal for a friend.  If you can find a pretty, small blank book or journal, you might like to do the same.   Give her God’s Word in your handwriting is a post I found by Karen Ehman that presents a similar and very good idea for friends.

Candied Walnuts are a wonderful kitchen gift in their own right, but also great topping a salad of spring mix, dried cranberries or blueberries, and feta or blue cheese with a fruity vinaigrette.
Photo from Taste of Home

Have fun with these ideas!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thrift store finds with a Christmasy look

When we visit our daughter and her family in Elko, Nevada, I always enjoy visiting the local thrift stores.  I didn't get to all of them this time, but I did visit several. 

In one of those, I found two plates that will likely find their way into my Christmas decorating. (The photos were taken with my tablet so they came out rather faded-looking.)
The above plate is part of the Old Curiosity Shop line by Royal China.  It is called a handled cake plate.  I have a few other items from this line, so I thought this plate, in perfect condition, would make a great addition to my little collection.  I paid $3 for it.  As you see, these plates are selling on eBay for anything from $4 to $16.
The second plate, which is also shown at the top of the post, is a vintage pine cone Melmac plate made by Boontonware.  The Etsy listing has a set of 7 plates (with scratches and discolorations like mine) for $30.  Mine is a bit more faded; someone had tried to clean it, I suspect with a magic eraser.  I erased a bit more when I got it home.  Since I only paid $1 for this, I'm not too worried about it.  I think the colors of this plate will make it a fun addition to my fall decorating as well.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing these thrifty finds!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Christmasy find in Idaho!

Photo by Parlor Antiques
We just got back from a wonderful vacation to parts of Utah, Idaho, and Nevada.  I wouldn't have thought such a summer trip would generate any content to share on my Christmas blog, but yes indeed!  In a shop called Parlor Antiques in Buhl, Idaho, I made such a fun Christmasy find that I just had to share it with you all.

This shop has loads of beautiful vintage and antique items spread throughout several rooms and the basement (which I didn't get to visit due to time constraints).  The items I looked at were very reasonably priced.

I spotted a bowl full of vintage paper milk bottle caps and began looking through them just for fun.   I had never realized that these caps were made in special holiday designs.  (I'm well within the age range that remembers when milk was delivered to homes in glass bottles, but I didn't know or remember any special holiday bottle caps.  Our local dairies probably used them, but I didn't drink milk as a child and thus would never have been the one opening the bottle.) 

Back to the antique shop.  In a short time I found three pretty Christmas-themed designs.  The caps were priced at 25¢ so I bought four, in the three different designs.  What fun!

The one with the little red cottage is my top favorite.  Which one do you like the best?

I actually own a Christmas-themed glass milk bottle from the 1990s and I like to bring it out at Christmas time.  I had made my own paper cap to use when storing it, but now I'll be able to use a pretty vintage one. 

What a fun find!  I wish now that I had purchased more of the caps, as I can think of several ways they might be used in crafting and decorating.  Hope you've enjoyed this look at an unusual vintage Christmas item!

Monday, July 31, 2017

A patriotic Christmas card!

Just perfect for the month of July is this patriotic vintage card I recently found from 1973.  So I thought I'd share it before the month ends.  When I found this card (sent to my parents by some good neighbors), my first thought was that it had come to them as part of a fundraising effort by some veterans' group or other.  But as I looked at the back of the card, I thought not, seeing that it had a  Famous Artists Studio trademark.

A little research revealed that Famous Artist Studio did do mailings of Christmas cards for nonprofits, and some for the VFW, so that's likely where our neighbors acquired this card.

 My personal feeling is that the flag sort of overwhelms the pretty scene, but I thought I would scan the card and save it that way, for it is definitely an interesting vintage card.  It reminds me, too, that not all people have freedom to worship as they choose.  We are very blessed in America!

Thanks to all of you who've visited my Christmas kitchen for Christmas in July.  It's been fun!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Poem: Sometime During Christmas

It's Sunday, so I'm featuring one last poem from the 2010 Christmas Ideals magazine.  I have always enjoyed seeing the Christmas Ideals, ever since my grandmother used to have them in the 1950s.  I could pore over them by the hour back then, and probably still could today if I had an hour to spare.  Today's poem is Sometime During Christmas, by Ree Reaney.

Sometime During Christmas

Sometime during Christmas
As the days go rushing by,
Take time to see the Christmas lights
Mist-haloed 'gainst the sky.

Sometime during Christmas
Breathe deep the Christmas smell;
The bayberry and the piney scents;
What welcome they foretell!

Sometime during Christmas
When carolers are singing,
Retell the age-old story
For which the bells are ringing.

Sometime during Christmas 
Midst the gaiety and noise,
Take time to hear the quietness
Of simple Christmas joys.

Sometime during Christmas
Remember friends are near,
And feel the warmth of knowing
That your friendship's very dear!
~ Ree Reaney

I thought this was such a beautiful poem.  Sometime during Christmas, let us take time to do each and every one of these things!

(The illustration at top is the cover from one of my vintage Christmas carol books.)

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A sweet little card

I always enjoy finding sweet little Christmas cards in this stash or that,  Here's one I recently found and scanned.  This scene is surely from a different vantage point, isn't it?  Looks as if the artist was up on the roof of an adjoining building, or up on a hill above the town. 

There's the church steeple, complete with pealing bells, in the foreground, and townsfolk circling the lighted tree.  Maybe the tree has just been lighted for the first time this Christmas season, for everyone seems awed and delighted.  I think the person in the center of the group, back toward the tree, looks as if he may be leading the others in a Christmas carol.    Someone has even brought their sled along. 

Snow is falling and the entire scene looks as if it could be right at home inside a snow globe.  Sigh.  I simply love the innocence of vintage cards, don't you?

Friday, July 28, 2017

Planning ahead for a stress-free Christmas

"A Happy Christmastide" -- from Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
I know, I know, we have all seen articles and blog posts with this sort of a title.  We have looked at them and then commented that it's nice for the writer, or the people quoted in the article, but it would never work for us and our family.  Oh, you've never made a comment like that?  Well, maybe it's just me (but somehow, I don't think so).

But here is a real plan that works for a real family, probably not so much different from yours or mine.  This advice is from Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365. and she shared it last year for Christmas in July there on her blog.

 This is Vicki’s plan for a stress-free Christmas, and you just might find it very helpful.  Vicki shares her timelines for card writing, letter writing, card mailing, decorating, baking, and so on.  I can really see how this could work quite well to free a family up to just enjoy December and the festivities it brings.

I'm posting this toward the end of July because we are that much closer to Christmas and surely need the inspiration.  Why not do some work in your Christmas notebook and jot a few of Vicki's deadlines on your calendar?  I'm planning to!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A sweet decorating idea ~ miniature teacup trees

I've long been fascinated by the idea of miniature Christmas trees in teacups or sugar bowls.  They just look so sweet.  Some years ago I made some soft fabric trees, and this green one looks right at home in a Christmas teacup.

Even prettier is this teacup tree
 from Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage.  Sandi also has a beautiful Christmas blog called Christmas Pudding, which is well worth a visit for some lovely Christmas inspiration.  To read more about Sandi's teacup tree and how she uses teacups in her holiday decorating, go here: Mini Tree in a Teacup.

Lovely as these ideas are, Tuula at Thrifty Rebel Vintage has taken them a step further with her mini teacup Christmas trees, using miniature teacups.  Aren't they sweet?

Photo by Thrifty Rebel Vintage
In my cleaning out of a home and years of accumulation, I have found tiny souvenir teacups as well as children's toy tea sets that would work perfectly for this. What is even neater is that Tuula doesn't glue the trees in place; she just places them securely in the teacups.  That way, both teacup and tree may be used again in different ways.

This is a genius idea,  in my view.  Hope someone else has been inspired by it, as well!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

From the July archives, Part 2

Here are a few posts of interest (at least, I hope they will be of interest!) from the more recent July archives.  I know that not everyone has browsed around in the archives or even visited here much, so wanted to share just a few more of my archived July posts.  Here goes:

From 2012, Fantastic Felt Food shares some of the fun food items that can be made of felt.   The chocolates below and the foods at top are a couple of examples.  Kids love felt food!  The photo at top was taken at the county fair when my grandkids entered their collection of felt food.

How to Make a Christmas Memory Book, from 2013, is a clear tutorial on how to make a memory book for your family.  I have never regretted taking the time to make these for family!

From 2014, Nurturing kids’ creativity with Christmas in July shares how you can get your kids involved right now with preparing for Christmas gifts.  I found it inspiring.

Linked, but not baked, in 2015, Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Bars is a recipe I want to try for the cookie trays this Christmas.

 And last year I encouraged readers to Peruse my Pinterest boards!  I have a bunch of Pinterest boards specifically for Christmas and have even added another since this was posted: Bringing Home the Tree.

 You will find loads of inspiration here.  Pinterest is so much fun!

So there are a few archive posts.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Worth the read: 12 Tips for an Easier Christmas

Detail from a table runner I made for my daughter
This post, 12 Tips for an Easier Christmas, from Rachel at Small Notebook, is well worth your read.  In fact, it is well worth printing out and placing in your Christmas notebook for perusal again and again.

I'll briefly detail a few of Rachel's tips and how I'll use them, but you must read the full article to get the real benefit.

*  Handmade doesn't necessarily mean DIY.  So true.  I love to support Etsy shops and they are filled with great gift ideas.

* Buy, wrap, and ship gifts early.  Yes, indeed, especially if, like me, you have family living three time zones away.  I also like to schedule package pickups (very easy with Priority Mail flat rate boxes) -- and another thing I've done is to have gifts from places like Amazon and ThriftBooks sent directly to my daughter.  She then wraps and tags them for me.

* Limit traveling.  This is such a great idea, especially if you have small children or a lot of children.  Do not be guilted into going "home for Christmas."  You are home!  Let your parents come to you, if they must, or just enjoy your own personal family traditions.  Don't add stress to Christmas by traveling unnecessarily in iffy weather.

* Do "preventive life maintenance".  Wonderful ideas.  Stock up on tissues, toilet paper, cough drops.  Plan and even cook ahead for easy meals.  (I've written in the past about this concept.)  Life is going to go on.  It's not going to slow down just because it's Christmas time.  In fact, quite the reverse.  So be prepared, and there won't need to be emergency runs to the store or drive-thru.

Go check out Rachel's post!  Rudolph Day for July is the perfect time to give this some thought and do some planning.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Cute paper product for many Christmas uses!

Several weeks ago, we stopped in at the Dollar Tree on an errand.  I spent a few minutes browsing in the kitchen aisle and found the neat product pictured above: waxed paper basket liners in red and white checks!  These liners are 15 inches by 18 inches and are the type that might be found lining those classic red plastic baskets often used at takeout places.

I'm not sure if Dollar Tree carries these year round or not.  (They also sell the red plastic baskets!)  This was the first time I had seen them, so I bought 2 packages (and I would encourage you to purchase them this summer, if you think you'd use some). 

Since they are food safe, these would be great to use in packaging kitchen gifts.  I think they would work well for wrapping small loaves of quick bread like cranberry, lemon, pumpkin, and so on.  Wouldn't they also be cute lining a basket of gingerbread men or a tin full of cookies?

For a whimsical container in which to present cookies or take them to a potluck or cookie swap, you could buy one of the red plastic baskets, line it with one of these checked liners and fill with cookies,  then pop the whole thing into a clear plastic bag for transport.  This would make a nice neighbor gift, as well.

Another fun use I thought of was to place one of these liners in the red plastic basket and then fill it with felt food of the take-out variety, like hamburgers, sandwiches, chips, etc.  Wouldn't that be a cute way to present a gift of felt food like those below?

Have fun with this idea!  I plan to!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Poem: Stocking Stuffer

Today I'm sharing another poem from the 2010 Christmas Ideals magazine.  Today's featured poem is titled Stocking Stuffer, and is written by Elizabeth Collier.

Stocking Stuffer

Christmas fills the senses 
In a most delicious way.
The sight and sound and taste of it
For one full month hold sway.
Crisp and brittle holly wreaths,
Candles' velvet glow;
The smell of cookies baking,
The crunch of sparkling snow,
The eyes of little children
A-shine with hope and joy,
The shimmer of the Christmas tree,
Its base all banked with toys.
Christmas fills the senses, true,
But this is just a part;
For even more than all the rest,
Christmas fills the heart.
~ Elizabeth Collier

This is such a lovely poem!  I thought the photo of my two granddaughters decorating cookies last Christmas was the perfect illustration.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Ornaments from vintage cookie cutters

Photo by Thrifty Rebel Vintage
Aluminum cookie cutters like the ones from my childhood are pretty easy to find and fairly inexpensive.  I have quite a stash of them -- more than I will ever use to make cookies with.  This simple project by Tuula from Thrifty Rebel Vintage will make wonderful use of my cookie cutter stash: Christmas Cookie Cutter Ornaments.

Take a look at how creative Tuula has gotten with these.  Sheet music lines the ornaments -- in one case, even a page from a Christmas carol book.  Don't want to cut up your vintage booklets?  No worries -- scan the page, print it out and there you go!  These would look lovely with images from vintage Christmas cards centered in them, too.  My imagination could really have fun with these if I only had the time.

Hope you can use this idea!  Have fun!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Adorable mini trees for ornaments or place card holders

Photo from Cupcakes and Crinoline
This fun craft is from Mary Beth at Cupcakes and Crinoline: it's adorable mini Christmas tree ornaments and place cards!

I'm always enamored of bottle brush trees, and these teensy ones are the cutest ever.  They are placed atop wooden spools gussied up with vintage newsprint and liberal amounts of glitter.  This would be an easy craft to do at the picnic table this summer! 

To make them into place card holders, add a strip of newsprint with the person's name on it by pinning it to the tree with a corsage pin.  (Admittedly not a good idea for kids.)

A piece of pretty baker's twine may be tied around each spool to add color, but I sort of like them just as is. 

Have fun with this idea!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A fun personalized craft ~ Mod Podge photo ornaments

Photo from Our Southern Home
 It's always fun to make some new ornaments, especially if you have new or vintage photos to work with.  Some families like to make new ornaments every year with updated family photos.  These Mod Podge Photo Ornaments from Christy at Our Southern Home are so cute.

They begin with round papier mache ornaments and get gussied up with scrapbook paper (the perfect use for those small $1 packs of scrapbook paper that are so tempting in the craft stores!), a photo, and glitter.  I love these and hope that I can find time to make some.  I think they would be fun to make with sepia or black and white photos as well, and would be cute to make using copies of vintage photos.  (I would never recommend using the originals of family heirloom photos or treasured vintage Christmas cards.  Scan them and then print for your craft usage.)

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From the July archives, Part 1

Graphic from The Old Design Shop
 I thought it would be fun to take a little trip (or two) through the July archives here at my Christmas kitchen, in the years before I began doing Christmas in July.  Here are a few of my finds:

Brainstorming Christmas gift ideas has some very nifty gift-giving ideas which I brainstormed with friends on a crafting forum.  They combine hand-crafted gifts with purchased items for some very gift-worthy ideas.

Then there's a quote concerning Christmas crafting as stress relief any time of year.  I knew there was a reason I'd been keeping a small tote of Christmas craft items close at hand! 

Lastly for today, I'll share the Christmas Tea Wallet which I made as a gift for a friend. 

Pretty sure I've shared this elsewhere on the blog, but it's worth repeating for those who haven't seen it.  It's a fun, easy, and adaptable idea that would make a wonderful little gift or stocking stuffer.

Have fun browsing in the archives .. another archive post will be coming soon!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A sweet tiny Christmas card

Recently I have come upon a number of vintage Christmas cards, many of them unused.  This is a particularly sweet little card, only a few inches square.   What an adorable little girl, shoveling snow!  She reminds me a bit of my  2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Arielle.  And it looks as if she is making friends with a little brown bird.

The inside greeting says,
The perfect greeting to accompany this sweet illustration, don't you agree?

Hope you've enjoyed this look at one of my little vintage paper treasures!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sweet embellished kitchen towels

Photo and design by Shannon at Eat Sleep Make
You all know I love dish towels, right?  I've had this idea on my list for Christmas crafting for awhile now, and just might make one for myself.  Shannon, from Eat Sleep Make,  shares her fabulous idea for Grandma's Kitchen Towels, an Anthropologie knock-off.  Aren't they adorable?

You can see the Anthropologie design on the left and Shannon's on the right.  I actually think that hers is much prettier.  I love the rose fabric that she chose for her applique.  Motifs cut from a vintage sheet might also be pretty.  A blanket stitch (in red here, on both towels above, although you could choose any color that goes with your fabric) adds a fun and distinctive touch.

Have fun with this idea!  I hope to!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Poem: "Signs of Christmas"

I came into possession of a new-to-me Christmas Ideals magazine from 2010.  It has some lovely stories in it, but as usual, I especially enjoy the pictures and the poems.  Today I am featuring the poem Signs of Christmas, by Lucille King.

Signs of Christmas

Carols singing, church bells ringing, 
It's Christmastime again.
Wind a-blowing, hearth fires glowing, 
Candles shine in windowpanes.

Pine and holly, fir and hemlock,
A bunch of mistletoe or more;
Skaters skating, children laughing,
A jolly snowman by the door.

White-capped roofs and horses' hooves
Clattering o'er a crusted snow;
Sleigh bells jingling, store bells tinkling
As the shoppers come and go.

Candy canes and crowded lanes,
Goodwill and peace to men;
All around, this spirit abounds --
It's Christmastime again.
~ Lucille King

I love this for the way it conjures up so many different sounds and scenes of the Christmas season.  Hope you have enjoyed it, too!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Some small and simple kitchen gifts

I've blogged about this before, but I was looking back in my July archives and decided to share it again.  This post from July 2007 details my nifty idea for Christmas giving -- I'd been inspired by seeing some spice mixes packaged in fabric bags along with recipes, and thought this would be an idea I'd like to try.

This 2012 post shares a link for many baking, beverage, and seasoning mixes as well as some of my own recipes.

And this post from my regular blog, written in 2010,  describes the Kitchen Gift in a Pie Plate which is pictured at the top of the post.  This was such a fun gift to put together!

You can see that I've made pumpkin pie spice and apple pie spice, and then I made some of my favorite pie recipes into a little cookbook to go along with them, packaging the entire gift in a unique spatterware pie plate. 

[Edited to add: You can find these recipe cards at Graphic GardenIn the left sidebar you will see the category "Free Printables."  Down near the bottom of the list, click on "Recipe Cards".  There are so many beautiful designs to choose from!  The  ones I've used here are from the "Seasonal" category and are called "Winter cabin/blank".  At the top of the "Recipe Cards" page, you will find detailed instructions for how to use them.  You can either print them out blank and write on them, or save them to your computer and type on them as I have done here. ]  

I'm starting to get inspired by the mix idea all over again, in fact.  Hope others have as much fun with this idea as I did!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sweet handmade gifts: reversible fabric headbands

Photo from Happy Together
Time for a handmade gift idea!  These reversible fabric headbands from Jess at Happy Together would be a sweet gift for the ladies and girls on your list.  They can be made in kids' sizes, too.  It would be fun to make a whole bunch of these in all colors -- several for anyone who might enjoy them.

There's a free downloadable pattern, and the only other things you need -- other than a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies -- are fabric and elastic.  Very small amounts of fabric will be needed, so this would be a great way to use up some of your scraps.

The tutorial looks clear and the process simple.  I'm thinking I'll make a bunch of these for the girls on my list.  Summer is a great time to make fun little projects like this!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

More than a gift tag!

Photo from Laura's Crafty Life
Here's another nifty idea from Laura at Laura's Crafty Life: Christmas Shaker Tags!

Talk about creative ideas!  I'm not sure I would ever have come up with anything like this.  These tags combine elements from scrapbooking and card making, and have all the appeal of a Christmas snow globe, ready to be shaken.

They do require the use of a FUSE tool, which I do not own, as well as a few other items I don't keep on hand.  But if you are a card maker or a scrapbooker, you likely have nearly everything you would need to make a bunch of these.  More than a gift tag, they are like a little extra gift that the recipient may want to hang on their Christmas tree or display with their cards.

Have fun with this idea!  I think I may be pricing a FUSE tool, because this is such a neat project.

[Edited to add: I looked on Amazon, and here is one example of a FUSE tool which sells for around $20 and looks like a neat little gadget to own: American Crafts Fuse Tool.]

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cute idea for giving a gift of ground coffee

Photo by Skip to My Lou
I happen to think that ground coffee, especially seasonal flavors, makes a wonderful gift, and I recently went back and looked at an idea I'd saved some time ago on a fun way to gift coffee from Skip to My Lou.

Cindy has designed two wonderful "coffee carriers" in which to package gifts of coffee.  She shares a good tutorial for making these, as well as a downloadable template for each design.  The carriers are quite easily put together from the card stock of your choice and can obviously be customized as you please.  I usually tuck a bag of coffee into a couple of large Christmas gift baskets given to friends with large families, and I think these carriers will make a festive way to package that coffee this year.  Have fun with this idea!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A great idea for organizing one's gift-giving!

Photo by Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365
This fantastic idea is from the highly organized Vicki at Christmas 24/7/365.  It's her fabulous gift chart.  She shared this on her blog for Christmas in July 2016, and I was so inspired that I saved the idea.

Vicki explains just how she uses this, and I think you will find it helpful -- it may even have the potential to completely revolutionize your gift-giving.  You can certainly personalize and tweak this idea so that it better fits the gift-giving that you personally do.  Hope this wonderful idea is an inspiration for someone today!

[Edited to add: Deanna asked if there was a link to print this chart.  I don't think there is; I checked back on some of Vicki's older posts labeled "organize" and didn't see one.  She did write: "I've been using this method for almost 20 years and it certainly works for me. I create a table with a column for each person I'm purchasing gifts for. The yellow highlighted rows are for stocking stuffers. Since I took this photo I've also added a bright green and a purple row. One is for calendars, one is for ornaments. The pale pink and blue rows are for the grandkids' gifts. Each grandchild gets four wrapped presents."]

  I'm going to try and check in with Vicki tomorrow and see if she does have a printable page she could share. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bethlehem snack mix

There is nothing like a kitchen gift, in my opinion, and I give out lots of them each year.  As you see above, I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to Kitchen Gifts.  You can find it here: my Kitchen Gifts board.

Here is an idea that I found some time ago and have never tried.  It has been tucked in my Christmas notebook for probably 15 years.   Since we  had a poem titled "Bethlehem" for yesterday's post, I thought Bethlehem Snack Mix the perfect kitchen gift to share today.

Here's what you need:

Animal crackers
Red and green M&Ms*
Star-shaped pretzels*
Potato sticks**

I am sorry that the recipe I have does not include quantities.  Probably if you started with a cup of each ingredient, you could not go wrong.

* Red and green M&Ms and star-shaped pretzels can usually be found in stores as soon as the holiday items begin to appear.
** Potato sticks are the (fried, I assume) shoestring-shaped snack item -- like potato chips, only in sticks.  They come in a can.  It looks a bit like hay or straw if you use your imagination.

Edited to add: Several people mentioned not having seen the star-shaped pretzels.  I'm pretty sure I have seen bags of only star shapes, but can't remember for sure.  Snyder's of Hanover makes seasonally shaped pretzels which you can see here: pretzels in seasonal shapesYou may have to scroll all the way down to see them.  They show the holiday shapes (which include stars) and football shapes.  They have also recently come out with a patriotic shapes variety, which includes stars, flags, and liberty bells.  You can see that in a snack mix recipe here: patriotic pretzel mix.   Old Dutch is another brand that makes holiday pretzels, and you can see them here: Old Dutch Holiday PretzelsTheirs come in the shape of stars, bells, and Christmas trees.  I think that Utz also manufactures a holiday pretzel assortment.)

The recipe had a poem with it, which I have tweaked in a major way, but it was originally written by someone named Bonniek and posted to Craftsayings.  So, with apologies to Bonnie, I tweaked this to better suit my theology and my grammatical perfectionism.  The poem could be printed on a gift tag which you would attach with a ribbon to the top of a clear plastic treat bag.  Or, fold the top of a plastic or paper treat bag over and staple a rectangular tag to the top of it.  The mix could also be placed in a jar, which would make for a festive-looking gift as well.

Bethlehem Snack Mix

This yummy snack is an easy way
To remember that very first Christmas Day!
Potato sticks remind us of hay
Like that in the manger where Jesus lay.
These crackers remind us of the animals that night --
Sheep and donkey surprised at the sight.
Pretzels in the shape of stars
Remind us of all that the shepherds saw.
Red and green, the colors of the season,
Remind us that Jesus is the only reason!

Or you could certainly write your own poem, or simply list what the ingredients are intended to represent.  Have fun with this idea!  I can see individual bags of this mix being a wonderful gift for Sunday School students.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Poem: Bethlehem

As I mentioned last week, for Sundays during Christmas in July,  I am trying to find meaningful poems to share with you all.  Here is one,  by an unknown author,  that I recently found:


A little child,
A shining star.
A stable rude,
The door ajar.
Yet in that place, 
So crude, forlorn,
The Hope of all 
The world was born.
~ Anonymous

How beautiful, don't you agree?  He is our only Hope.

The illustration at the top of the post is a page from one of my vintage Christmas carol books. 

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Cute and easy gift card holders!

Photo from Laura's Crafty Life
 Here's an easy project -- Washi Tape Gift Card Holders from Laura at Laura's Crafty Life!

These are made with plain tags (2 per gift card holder) and washi tape.  Essentially, what you do is cut the top part off one tag and then neatly wrap them together with washi tape, then add a string with bakers twine.  So cute!  You will want to check out Laura's tutorial as it is so much clearer and better than my sketchy description.

I have everything I need on hand to make these, including 2 large boxes of tags.  I had bought these from Amazon for a different project, and it was way cheaper to get two boxes, so I did.  I'm thinking these would be a really fun and easy project to do sometime this month.

These tags would be nice for Christmas gifting, but would also be easy to make for any gift-giving occasion.    Why not start now and make a bunch for all of your gift-card giving needs?

Friday, July 07, 2017

A lovely gift or decoration -- decoupaged glitter candles

Photo and design by Ashlee at My So-Called Crafty Life
I spotted these gorgeous decoupaged glitter candles at My So-Called Crafty Life and just had to share the link.  Ashlee is such a talented designer, and I especially love those crafts she designs with a vintage flair. 

I've read before about decoupaging candles with paper napkins and have long been intrigued, though I have never gotten around to trying to make any.  Paper napkins can be found in such glorious designs and patterns, and are a very inexpensive crafting medium indeed.  For Christmas gifts, you could use either holiday napkins or something else that you know the recipient would enjoy.  The glitter adds such an amazing touch to this simple craft.

Have fun with this idea!  I hope to!