The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Simple crochet edgings and things you can make over with them.

Recently I posted about elevating simple things with braids and trims as an easy way to make gifts.  It's fast and very pretty to add a little row of trim around the edge of a tea towel or along the edge of a pillowcase... lots of easy projects.

Braids, ribbons and trims are gorgeous but mostly are going to cost more than my preferred edging which is to crochet an edge myself around whatever I am working on. 

This is very easy. If you can crochet at all you can do this. You need to know how to chain, single crochet and double crochet. If you don't know these three stitches ask someone to show you or go to You Tube and look on learn to crochet tutorials. Find a teacher you like and understand. You can learn these in an afternoon of evening and then practice them a little bit. Otherwise if you know these three stitches you are set!

This is so useful. It makes lovely gifts and things for your home. Plus it is fun to do!

Some possibilities are edging on hand towels and face washers...  

This makes lovely gifts and is quick and easy.

Edging on tea towels/kitchen towels... this is really pretty.

A soft cotton edging on hankies or muslin face cloths (below) or muslin baby wraps... 

Around the edge of pillowcases. I made these pillowcases from old sheets and the hydrangea ones I made my daughter as hydrangeas are her favourite flowers...

Other possibilities are an edging along the top sheet of your bed or of guest sheets. An edge worked around a throw rug or shawl...  An inexpensive project is a piece of polar fleece as a rug and work a lovely edge around this. Or make a table cloth as a gift and napkins and work pretty edges around them. This looks just beautiful.

Just now I have been working around tea towels as a gift...

and frilly edges around pillowcases...

Now I am not much of a teacher as I cannot read patterns! (you have been warned) But I will try to teach you simple edges and these are the two I use the most. Alternatively try You Tube and find edges you like and learn a few easy ones. It will be such a handy thing to learn. 

In most of these projects I have used cotton thread and in either 4 or 8 ply. For more delicate projects you can get fine cotton in balls, I get DMC cottons from Spotlight. There are no rules! A thicker yarn will give a chunkier result a finer yarn a delicate result. Crochet needles come in all sizes... you will need a very fine needle and then a medium one as well. I have used... a size one hook for the first round to get through tough cottons etc and a size four for most of my edges crochet and on towels this will go through the first round quite easily as well.

Some fabrics are easier to work with than others. Mostly towels are easy as the fabric is soft to get your needle through on the first row that goes through the material.
So a small crochet needle will go through this fabric. But on cottons often a small needle just wont go through! Then you need a super fine needle for this first foundation row. So try a needle out on your fabric and see whats needed.

Whatever you are working on this first row forms the foundation. You might want to work all around something like a face washer or just do one edge like a hand towel, thats up to you.

This is for my frilly edgings as seen above. Your first row looks like this...

With a very fine crochet hook I have gone through the fabric every 8 millimetres or so and then worked one chain then gone in again to the fabric. I usually make the stitch about 1 cm deep. You need to stretch the stitch out so the fabric will sit flat... not bunch up which it will do if you don't allow that stitch to have enough yarn to sit flat. I go carefully the first stitches to get that right and check the fabric is going to sit flat under that stitch. Then you are off! 

An alternative to this is to work a row of blanket stitch with a darning needle around your project to form that first row. It looks almost the same. Another alternative is to use something sharp to go along and make the holes for your foundation row... ie a skewer or large needle then see if you can get your crochet hook through them and work your first row. 

The second row looks like this...

This row I have worked a row of double crochet into the foundation row. I work one dc into each stitch below it. 

The next row looks like this...

This is where the frill starts to form. This row I do three chain and then a double crochet into the stitch below, then three chain and skip one stitch below and into the next stitch below... 3 chain, skip a stitch below and into the next and repeat right along... this makes a row of little bridges....

Then the last row...

Ok this row you are working to make petals into the arches of the last row. Into each arch you do one single crochet, 5 double crochets then one single crochet. This makes a petal. Then repeat right along. 

This gives you the frilly edge pictured on my frilly things above.

For a simple flat edge like on my face washers or muslin or the blue pillowcases... 
Just do the foundation row. The the next row do single crochets into four stitches in a row below... then do five double crochets into ONE stitch below. So you are going along 1,2,3,4 singles which makes a row of four then all those dc into one stitch makes an arch of stitches, then 1,2,3,4 single crochet and repeat. This gives you an up and down pattern that is pretty. And thats it, it is all done in two rows. If you will look at the wash cloths you will see it and hopefully understand what I mean!

Working around a wash cloth is a good way to try it. Often things like towels etc might have a border worked into them and other things light have a hem or seam. These are often handy as a guide to a straight line to work along.  I sort of assess each thing as I go. The tea towels I am working on now have about a 1 cm hem... so I work my first row just along that hem on the side of it that is only one layer of material. You do not want to try and work through multiple layers of fabrics. Have a look and work out what is going to be easy on what you are working on.

I find small projects like these really handy, I can take them anywhere with me. They are really economical. And in a lovely linen store I saw a set of six napkins with pretty edgings that were tied up in a bundle with ribbon. The set was $80. What a perfect gift! Sewing up some napkins from some vintage cotton sheets or some gingham would be so quick and easy then crochet around them. You have gone from a bit of inexpensive fabric and a couple of balls of cotton to a beautiful gift! This is an upcoming project for me. I love table cloths and napkins! Nothing makes a table look prettier! 

Today is the last day of the month, I don't know how the month went so fast! I use this day to see how I did on all the things I hoped to do and plan a little bit for what I want to achieve in October. October is Christmas cake making month amongst other things!

As the year is flying by it's also time to get busy on Christmas presents and save save save by spreading things out. This has helped me so much over the last few years. And it has made Christmas so much better, with out the stress of too much to do and too many expenses. 

I had a wonderful September, I hope you did too! xxx

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Christmas cards and tags and other money saving ideas!

This week I went on with card making. I have already used several of the cards I pictured in my last post. Today one went to the old lady in the nursing home Kath. She keeps them all and has them dotted around her room so they live on! This makes me really happy, that they are special to her as she is to me. It only takes such a little thing to make someones day a little bit sweeter.

Each post currently is adding on to my ebook... ways to save so much money this Christmas (and all Christmases from now on!) by getting started early and identifying both your own abilities and talents as well as gifts that are suited to the people you are giving to. 

This can be found on my blog page and in my Facebook shop.If you have face book following Bluebirds there you will often get little updates and funny photos that I pop on when I have a few minutes! Also on face book we can chat!

This week I went on with cards and got onto Christmas cards and gift tags. Now I am working on gift bags, boxes and ribbons which I will post next week.

Making your own cards can be very inexpensive. I get my blank cards from cheap shops, here we have Cheap as Chips and Browse and Save but I think most larger towns have some kind of cheap shop.

Each year I have a theme... that also saves money as I can use the same things over and over.

My stamps I have had several years and bought on ETSY. They are wonderful. So much choice! And I always use glitter and glitter glue!

When the girls were little I would set them up on a table with all kinds of supplies and let them loose. In school holidays this would keep them busy for several days and it was wonderful. Lots of crafts really helped establish "being busy at home" and they were so content and happy. I have always saved every bit of ribbon, trim, interesting things and then added glue, glitter, cards and so on. 

I find tags really useful. I notice even tiny tags in the shops are at least $1 each.

Just making these cards did a lot for my Christmas Spirit. It helped me get into the mood! As I make them I am thinking of who will get which card... and I make loads of spares. I think Christmas time is the perfect time to write people thank you/appreciation letters....

I have a lot of friends who I mail. The problem is postage so I am always thinking of gifts that will fit into an envelope. The trouble is I want to give presents to everyone... at least making things I can to some extent send something little to all the people I want to. I am making little note books that will fit into these cards and be flat enough to post this way... I'll post pictures of them next week I hope!

When using glitter it is helpful to work over a tray of some kind... it confines the glitter somewhat and you can scoop up the left overs and re use them. You will always end up with glitter around the place but these accidents are happy ones to me... I don't mind them!

If I make enough cards I usually wrap some in cellophane bags, in sets of six or so and tie them up with ribbon. A set of cards you have made make a really good gift and save someone else a lot of money too. This is a really thoughtful gift. The pink cards I posted last gave me a few sets for gifts. Then I just add a pretty pen or even some stamps and present them in a pretty way. At least I know it is a really useful gift and they look pretty. I love stationary so all of this fills my stationary cravings somewhat!

Browsing cards online, on Pinterest, in the stationary shop can give you ideas. Choose a style you love or a colour scheme you like or possibly choose these from the supplies you might have on hand. Often it will take me a while to come up with one card I really like. Then I'm right, I will go on and make heaps.

Gathering a few supplies and recycling lots of things gives us materials to go on and make other things as well... ribbons, boxes, gift bags, gift wrap... we will get to those coming up!

Have a wonderful weekend. Keep your eyes out for pretty things that can be used. I mentioned to save or rescue an old Christmas tree for something I have coming up... add to that an old or cheap hoola hoop and pine cones and gum nuts! There are so many things to make for next to nothing that just now are featured in home ware stores and gift shops for a fortune!  Well, we can do better than that!


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Pretty cards from scraps.

It has been an all over the place week! In the "normal" moments I have been making some cards using up a lot of little scraps left over from sewing projects. I keep every little left over bit of lace, braid etc and they are so good when you make up some cards.

After my session of sewing braids and trims on to tea towels I had a lot of lovely snippets left. Mostly this lot are cards for letters and notes or birthdays but a few with angels could be also used at Christmas I think.

I just love the luxury of a box full of pretty cards. When ever I go away I take this with me, with pens and stamps, and write letters, more than I get written when I am at home.
From home it's so easy to email or message someone. Either way when I feel under the weather or tired nothing cheers me up like writing to someone. I think it is a bit like diary writing. Writing helps you think about things and the over all picture as you work on how to put things into words. I have always felt if you have a problem after writing it down it can seem clearer and so does what to do. So letters to friends are really sharing whats going on and letters from them I feel are the same. The words you write down often sum up whats going on and how you are feeling at the time. Well, it's lovely to take the time for letter writing and beautiful for your friendships.

I've noticed lots of people tend to save cards and letters as if they are treasures. That says something about them. I still look in the newsagents and check the prices of the cards I think are lovely and often they are around the ten dollar mark which I just think is so expensive. And surely the dozen cards I made yesterday isn't worth $120! But I know the cards were $2 for 6 and beyond that I used things I had on hand and had saved up. That's quite a difference in price!

So many people are lonely, housebound, in nursing homes... so many people do kind and wonderful things everyday and no one thanks them, so many are unwell or in hospital.... there are a lot of opportunities to send cards. If every week we sent a card to someone randomly to thank them, cheer them up or encourage them it would make such a difference. 

Later today I'll get back to making some more and onto my Christmas ones (which I have started but no photos yet!)

This part of my day is really lovely and quiet and good fun.

Meanwhile I have food to shop for and errands to run and all the usual stuff. 
I hope you are having a good week. The little things we do count and they all add up, whether its little savings, little attacks on messy spots in the house, a few minutes gardening, a little kindness. It all counts. It's is amazing how lots of little things end up being something big! Be encouraged that your efforts mean something. You would be surprised who notices and who will remember even a little thing you might do

Thursday, 18 September 2014

How to make powder puffs and luxury body powder (gifts and for yourself!)

This is my third post that is an extension of my E book "How to make ALL of your Christmas presents". Week by week I'm trying to get through lots of projects to make upcoming Birthdays and Christmas just wonderful but within my budget.
This craft post is an answer to a lovely letter I had asking me how do I make the powders to go with the powder puffs I showed in the E book (and earlier in the blog as well).

Well, I love powder. And powder puffs. If you know someone loves powder as I do then this is a lovely gift to make.

Firstly the powder puffs. This started when I saw in a department store beautiful full luxurious Hollywood style powder puffs for over $50 each! They were GORGEOUS but wow! I also looked on Etsy and found equally stunning ones and in all kinds of pretty colours and was in love! But I thought I could make them and it turned out to be very easy.

Start by buying some beautiful fur material in your fabric store. I would not do this on line as the feel of it is important. So I go along feeling the ones in the colours I like! You want it to feel lovely and soft. This is usually sold as fabric to make soft toys. The sky is the limit. I considered doing leopard print ones or ruby red... but typically I ended up with soft pastels. I made them quite large, around the size of my hand if I spread my fingers out as far as I can.

Make them by tracing a circle on the non fluffy side a centimetre or so larger than the finished product will be. I traced around a small plate. Make as if you are making a little pillow, sew fluffy sides inside, leave a gap and turn inside out. Then by hand you will sew up the little gap. I decided they needed filling... you could use soft toy filler, I used quilt backing about 3 cm thick. This just makes them seem plump and luxurious. I cut these a little smaller than my fur circles and slid these in before I sewed them up. Once sewn up you need to make a bow for the top of each one. You could do contrasting or matching ribbons. The important thing is to have luxurious and lush looking ribbon and form a lovely bow then stitch this on going right through the whole powder puff. I found when I turned the powder puff around the right way I needed to release some of the fur caught in the stitches to re fluff it. I used a needle to gently free some fluff. Some spots I trimmed with scissors until I was happy with the shape and how they looked. Just fiddle around until it looks full and fluffy.

These look really pretty, soft, feminine and lovely on your dressing table.
I ended up making a heap as most were for gifts. 

As I said in the book, if you know something will suit a few of your family members or friends then it is quick and easy to make quite a few of one thing. Plus a spare or two for unexpected gifts. This just saves you time. And fabric like this is sold by a wide metre so you will get at least several from even the small amount you might buy. I think I bought 25 cms of white when I made these. These can be given as a gift on their own. You could spray them with perfume and wrap in cellophane or place in a gift box lined with tissue paper. I used cellophane bags and tied them up with a ribbon. Or you can go on and make up a box or container of power and give as a complete gift.

Now for the powder as Nanna Chel asked me how I make it. The first time I did this as a gift I had round boxes with lids. I lined each box with florists plastic wrap. Cellophane would do too. I filled them with my powder. Then I perfumed it then added the powder puff on top. (instructions for perfuming coming up...) I added the lid and tied them up with big bows. If you are going to do this it is easier to choose your containers first then make the powder puffs to fit than the other way around... I found out the hard way by making powder puffs and then having trouble getting boxes just the right size for them to sit on top inside with the powder!

This time I used glass containers I found in the op shop. This one was $2 and just right...

You could also use a tin or other suitable ceramic or glass container. For myself I use powder everyday so I use a crystal bowl (also from op shop) that I stuck to a stand which was a candle stick to make a pretty container... For instructions see my post on how to make your own Cake Stands.

For the powder itself... powder is inexpensive. It's the perfumed and specially packaged powder that is more costly but unscented powder is easy to buy in large containers for a few dollars. So buying something like that and scenting it myself is the easiest option. I choose a perfume I love and simply spray inside the container a few times, place the powder inside, re spray one or two sprays onto the powder (it will absorb) and also spray the powder puff once or twice. Then shut the lid and keep it closed. This works really well to scent the whole container of powder. You could do this using lavender oil or any floral oil. Because it is absorbent it holds the scent. If you know someone loves a certain scent then that is helpful. You know the samples you get at the department store of a tiny vial of perfume? These are enough to perfume a batch of powder. It doens't hurt to ask for these I have had luck many times!

You can also add shimmer or glitter. I have used shimmer powder that is sold as body shimmer and I have used very fine glitter. This is lovely for a little girl. The body shimmer is sold with powders and body products in many bigger beauty shops or even a natural coloured shimmer eyeshadow crushed up would work. You don't need much, just mix it in.

The next alternative is to use cornflour. it is natural, unscented... this will suit some people and it can also be scented.

Scented or plain powder has a lot of uses other than as body powder. Placed in a salt or pepper shaker or a sieve it can be used as bed powder. Fine hotels sprinkle the finest little bit of bed powder over your sheets. It perfumes them and feels heavenly and is considered a great luxury. It is too when you wish you changed the sheets and couldn't, this trick gives you fresh sheets for a night! If you have never experienced this then try it! You use the smallest amount and it feels gorgeous. A few times when I have been ill and dying to change the bed I have done this and it has made the bed feel fresh until I have been able to change it then next day.

Powder makes wonderful dry shampoo and can save you on a bad hair day.
Sprinkled over a mattress or carpet and rubbed in, powder can absorb odour and dampness and when vacuumed out it will have refreshed things that cannot be washed.
Placed inside sneakers or shoes it absorbs smells and dampness.
Rubbed into a grease mark it can absorb the oil and remove the mark.

This is a really inexpensive and luxury gift and really pretty and feminine. Now I am thinking I really want to look for powder blue and softest pink fur to make some more powder puffs and watch for more lovely containers for this. Powder adds a little bit of luxury to every day! 

I accept not everyone loves powder. My Nan did and I obviously do but it doesn't suit everyone. Thats ok, I have so many things lined up as gift ideas and plenty for men as well. I usually have to think harder on gifts for men. 

Thank you for all the letters about the trims and braids post! That one was so easy but effective and I got lovely mail responses! I really appreciate comments and mail. Thank you! Also for all the letters about the ebook and all the ideas it gave you. I love to hear the excitement of "I can do it!" especially from people who have felt that they are not very crafty.

This weekend I am starting on gift bags, cards, tags and decorations! If you could see my dining room table!  Using what I have in my collection of all kinds of left overs from craft projects over the last few years I am making all the cards and decorative things ready for December. I can't resist glitter so it will be everywhere! Doing this though, gets me in the mood for Christmas coming!

Have a lovely weekend! xxx

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

An easy project... adding a trim.

Following on from my ebook we are working on Christmas and gifts. I hope between the book, the time was have allowed and the ideas each week that I post, that this is the best and most economical Christmas ever!

Today I'm talking about trims and braids. This is a super easy craft or sewing project. As really you can take something ready made and by adding something to it make it into something special.

I have sewn braids on to tea towels to make them lovely for my friends kitchens. But braids and trims can add something to cushions, hand towels, table cloths, napkins, pillowcases... so many things!

One of my first sewing projects I ever made was cot sheets and I edged them with a braid with little ducks along them! It was so easy but looked so nice! Strictly straight line sewing!

Most of this work would be lovely for a young girl. With a little assistance they can create all kinds of presents and have a great time doing it (and learning!)

Like all projects you have to keep an eye on the costs. I have collected braids and trims and bought some from Spotlight. On a project like tea towels you can add trim just to the bottom edge. This will look beautiful and be enough. In a couple of cases where I have heaps of trim I have sewn right around the four sides.

I've found lots of trims in op shops. I always watch out! Many times they are old fashioned rick rack braid which is lovely. Also many cheap shops have laces and trims and I always go through them. I have also cut trims from bedspreads, lace from curtains etc that I have  bought in op shops and ended up with vast amounts for a couple of dollars.

My tea towels are being teamed up with crochet dish cloths in kitchen themed sets... all the things I make end up kind of going together and they work out as themed gifts... (usually!)

Again knowing your friends kitchen colours is the thing! Some of my friends are internet friends so I just have to ask! I have two friends who have red in their kitchens and I found red pom pom trim!

And a family member with yellow...

I have neutrals still to go, having trouble with that one!  

Other years I have also made my own tea towels using vintage materials. They are the best! But this year I am short of vintage materials as I made pillowcases with them!

The sky is the limit with this. A row of little trains across the top of a little boys sheet or a row of chickens on a baby towel. Or beautiful ribbon or lace around a pillowcase for a girlfriend or your Mum...  It is such easy sewing and can be stitched by hand, you do not have to have a sewing machine.

It is worth asking Mum and Nan and older people if they have braids in their sewing collections. Many times people keep all these things and no longer use them and are thrilled someone might make something with them!

Whenever I make gifts like these I make a supply for my own kitchen. Beautiful tea towels have so many uses. Covering a picnic, wrapping around scones, keeping food warm, lining a basket... as well as drying dishes!

And I make some extra sets for unexpected gifts. Some things are fairly basic and are going to come in handy at some point so a few extras are likely to be a money saver.

In my last post I mentioned save an old Christmas tree if you have one or see one for a beautiful craft I have coming up. Add to that save and collect any pine cones, interesting gum nuts or cones from other trees. Mostly we can pick these up for free. So watch out as they will give you free craft materials in a few weeks time!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

The best Christmas ever starts now!

This week I released my first ever ebook, How to make ALL your Christmas Presents. (It is available on the blog and on the face book page).
Thank you for all the lovely comments and letters!

Over the next few weeks I am posting all kinds of ways to continue to save money at Christmas and have the best Christmas ever.

Yes, we are starting now! Because to make your own gifts, cards and treats it will happen if we get started with a realistic amount of time to do everything!

The ebook covered a series of ways to make your presents suitable for those you are giving to, that will be fabulous and inexpensive. Also how to present things to give them that wow factor. It also covered how to choose things that suit you and your own skills. You do not have to be crafty to make all your own presents!

The savings can be incredible. Of course it all depends on what you have been spending. Taking the pressure off financially and having money instead for the emergency fund, a family holiday or pay off debt is wonderful. And Christmas need not be "less".  In fact I feel I can make lots of spare gifts and give to more people than I might otherwise be able to afford to. It makes Christmas better!

My worst scenario used to be the last minute rush. You know, when you are desperate and have no time left, and you buy something way too expensive as you simply have to get something!  It's a terrible feeling! I've avoided this in the last few years just by starting early. This one change alone is a big saving if you have tended to do that.

So lets take the pressure off financially and work wise and do a little bit each week from now on in. I take the same approach to birthdays. In our family most of the birthdays are in December and January so everything happens at once!

A few weeks ago I posted the wash cloths and cleaning cloths I was making in a bobble stitch I had found on You Tube.  Since then I have used up the smaller amounts of cotton that were left over to make dish cloths. I have always seen them in pictures on other blogs and on Pinterest and thought how sweet they looked.  For these I have used Shell Stitch which I learned also on You Tube.

The thing is for anyone who can crochet if you can do chain and double crochet you can do these stitches. Both the bobble stitch and the shell stitch are made up purely of chain and double crochets, its just the order you do them in!

If you cannot crochet but would like to learn it is really easy. You can learn and be crocheting in a day. Ask someone to show you or use You Tube and set aside half an hour to get started. Learn how to chain and then how to so single and double stitches. It just takes a little practice and is really good fun!

I have found quite a bit of cotton in op shops and if I see it I get it! Otherwise my cotton comes from Bendigo Woollen Mills. They will send you out a colour chart and they also have big sales so that is when Mum and I get our cotton. It is beautiful quality.

In the e book I talked about choosing things to make that your recipient will love. I find men the hardest.
My uncle likes natural products, things without chemicals, natural cleaning products... stuff like that. He is also big on cleaning. So I made him wash cloths and dish cloths and added natural bamboo cleaning cloths and natural soap. I know he will really like that and yay I have a male present completed!

Knowing the colour schemes of friends and family is how I work out suitable colours for gifts. My daughter Chloe has pale blues in her kitchen...

And then I have the colour schemes of my sister in laws and my Mum and various friends. So I try and make something suitable for each of them. 

Mostly I make stacks of three and tie them up with a ribbon. Some will go with other items like tea towels with crochet edges and some will go into hampers I am making up with all kinds of kitchen things in them. It all adds up and these are really quick to do. And they are great for using up left over cottons as each one is only small and contrast edges use up another left over colour!

These are some of the things I am doing but the things you might work on can be entirely different, things suited to your skills and talents, and that was what the  ebook covered.

If you would like to join in on some of the projects as we lead up to Christmas and treat it as a challenge, watch out in op shops etc for an old Christmas tree. a couple of projects are going to use old Christmas trees. I bought a new tree in a box for $4 as the box was damaged. I found this in the January sales... and I have big plans for this $4 tree. Also in the lead up to last Christmas I saw several trees in boxes thrown out on the side of the road as well as in op shops. So grab one if you see one!

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Today is lovely, sunny and I have a lovely day to look forward to! xxx

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Planning for Christmas and my new E book!

I love Christmas and I love gift giving and all the celebrations that go with it. For many years I planned to make all my own Christmas presents and often made some, but I never really managed to make that many! Until the last two years when I finally did it! I made almost all my presents for Christmas and for Birthdays as well. I even has spares!

My friend Helen adores Christmas as much as any person I ever knew! She is probably planning her decorations as we speak. She makes it gorgeous and so special. But she has it right, she would not go into debt doing all this.

There is a lot of pressure on everyone financially and socially. Gifts can be part of that and people feel they need to participate in a level of gift giving that they know is going to leave them in debt come the New Year.

You know there really are ways around it. And ways to still give beautiful and thoughtful gifts for very little actual money.

One fo the keys is to start now. We all do the same thing... if it is the last minute we will buy and pay anything as there just is no time to do better! I have felt that sick feeling before.

I have written my first e book! I am really passionate that anyone can make all their gifts. And that if you have children they can be involved and they will love it. You do not have to be crafty. You do not have to be a good cook. There are ways for all of us whatever our talents might be.

Starting now (or earlier) there is time to make so many beautiful things. Part of that is snooping and knowing what the people you are going to give to like, need and love. 

The e book takes you through a process that has you making things that are easy for you and matching them to gifts suited to those you are giving to. They will be things you never even thought of but you will be so proud of!

My book is available on my blog front page or via my store on Facebook. I really hope it saves people so much money. That is the aim. We do not need to spend a fortune to have a beautiful Christmas. Think of the other things we could be doing with that money. Paying of debt, a family holiday, an emergency fund that could be a saviour in the future. Security is so much easier to live with than debt!

Over winter I've been working on projects to give and now coming up is some cooking I do. In October I always do fruit cakes. I do them then as by December they taste divine, as they "mature".  The week before Christmas I usually make coconut ice, shortbread and a few extra things. They are all I do near Christmas.

One trick is to make big quantities of these things for extra gifts. So I do a little production line.

Pretty packaging/presentation is part of things being "gift worthy" My coconut ice every year is something I would get complaints about if I didn't make it!

Last year we needed gifts for young girls. I made lolly kebabs which cost about $1 each. They were a great success...

I think lots about wrapping and packaging. I use lace from curtains (buy op shop lace curtains and wash them up and dye them) or tulle... as both are much much cheaper than ribbons and bows purchased from the store. Tulle cut into strips makes fabulous bows very cheaply.

If you want to save money this year make a little plan. Really you can save so much money and have the loveliest Christmas ever. Just a little planning is a saviour.

Christmas is also a hard time for many. It is a better time for us if we do something beautiful for someone that we don't even know or know from a distance enough to know this is a difficult time for them. Make a few extra things or a hamper and be ready. This will add joy to your Christmas in volumes.

This Christmas can be your best Christmas ever. The things that we loved as children are clues about what kids love and remember. I asked my girls last year what were the things they loved the most. Chloe said eating supper under the Christmas tree with the twinkly lights and her pillow was one of her favourite things. You see what I mean? Creating memories is really what it is about. She doesn't remember the gift that year but she remembers how much she loved that!

Today I am off to Spotlight for a few little things that allow me to keep working on gifts tonight. Ohhh I am so excited!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Using what you have.

I am really in luck that rustic and salvaged things are everywhere in home ware stores and magazines. The prices for some old things are just amazing. Like my old ladders I use for my tea towels and things would be so much in a store but I just wait until I find things and consider it the thrill of the hunt!

If you love the look of romantic old things use what you have first of all! If say, you have old watering cans, google or use Pinterest and search "decorating with watering cans" or just "old watering cans" and you will have a list of ideas. Old rakes are another that I keep seeing, oars, crates, baskets, gates... (ooh gates as a headboard for a bed are gorgeous!) and so on. Giving old things new life is just wonderful.

After Lucy's wedding I took a while to choose the photos I would like enlarged. So many to choose from! In the end I have chosen the ones that really mean the most to me, for various reasons, like the one of my Dad holding Lucy's head in his hands and kissing her...

In my wardrobe I had 5 large sturdy frames in a dark wood. I just painted these with ceiling white and this gave me a matching series. They are in a row in the hallway and look lovely!

They look great and so the cost of framing was $0!

I have admired photos framed in old window frames. And during the year I found window frames on the side of the road in front of a house being renovated (on our street!) They were filthy but just what I wanted and with that old fashioned think glass with little bubbles through it...

Well, I did need some help and Andy made backing boards to do this but I love them!

I added the old keys which I had saved somewhere along the line...

This all really fits in our home and I'm really happy. And the best bit is every time I walk along the hallway my heart is lifted seeing all these images of the most happy day.

This was a project I was dying to do and finding the windows was perfect timing. 

The very best up cycling projects though are using things that have been in the family. Our coffee table is so rustic... when I was little I remember Mum cutting the legs off an old table (turned legs too) to make a low table for us to play at. That today is our coffee table. I just love it! My dining room table was my Nana's dining room table and I love having that. They are interesting and have a story...

A beautiful blog with so many ideas like these that inspires me so much is Miss Gracie's House. Her family portraits are just divine as well. She uses old birdcages, gates, all kinds of "junk" and her home is so gorgeous!

Inspiration like this keeps me really from ever wanting to buy things from the shops. Collecting instead is so much fun.

I hope you might be inspired to use something you have lurking in the shed for a decorating project!