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Little Personal Free Fun (and it's G rated)

October 1st, 2008 at 09:30 am

"Think Outside the Box" Ornament Competition is being held by the local Art Association. It is free to members (which I am) and $2 for non-members. A small price to pay for a lot of fun.

Every entrant was given a 3 inch square cardboard box. Rules? Anything goes except (1) it had to be hang'able.

Voting is open to the gallery visitors and there will be prizes for winners (such as dinner gift certs).

My entry is themed 'Bless the Beasts and the Children'. Inside the mini stick and bark house are (toy) kids, dogs, sheep, horse, etc. The natural materials represent 'Peace on Earth'.



I don't expect to win, but am happy with the entry. Thanks for taking a peek.

Good Inexpensive Wine, Suggestions?

August 28th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

At the farmer's market weekend craft fairs I vended throughout this summer, a local singer/songwriter/musician duo performed tirelessly to attract shoppers. I enjoyed the music greatly at least a dozen times. And yes, it helped with foot traffic.

The craft fair end of the market was organized by a non-profit environmental association which paid the musicians modestly. Everyone involved with this summer long event made donations in - time, sales percent, kid's activities, and the like.

I want to show special appreciation to the musicians and am planning a (huge) wine and treat basket. The cost won't be huge because:

* I already have the basket with ample crinkled cushion paper
* Bought 4 wine glasses at the 99c store
* Plan to get a couple big 1 lb choc bars which the grocery store has frequently for $1

Now for the expenses, I'd like one white, and one red wine. Shall I go to Trader Joes and pick out something in the under $10 range each?

The remainder may be little cracker and cheese snacks, unless you want to post additional inexpensive ideas.

Thanks!

Inexpensive Graduation or Vacation 'Souvenir'

May 14th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Here's a great idea for saving memories (and $$). Instead of buying something for the graduate, get friends to autograph their remembrances and memories in this nifty little book:

Bear Hopes and Dreams Blank Journal


Such a personal gift will last a lifetime.

Great also for that summer vacation instead of buying souvenirs. Paste in pictures, stubs of tickets, snippets of brochures and more. A fabulous project for a kid.

Or the newly engaged! Take it to the shower and get autographs and wishes. Add photos later.

Maybe even at the baby shower, have guests write a little something and include pictures of the event.

It is a blank journal with a cover I cross stitched and accented with silk flowers. It is a real bargain and wonderful for many occasions.

For more details and pictures, click here:
http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=8918179

Inexpensive Gift in a Jar Recipe - Part 6 of 6

November 22nd, 2007 at 09:28 am

A hot cup of homemade soup hits the spot this time of year. If it is a snap to make, your recipient will be thankful. This last gift recipe is a thoughtful offer to many on your list; teacher, neighbor, young cook, friend, co-worker.

I hope you have enjoyed all the six ideas in the 'Handmade' category of this blog, recapped below. One for kids, one for the guys, one for the vegetarian, one for the fitness buff, and so on.

#1-Spicy Rice Mix
#2-Choc Chunk Oatmeal Cookies
#3-No Yeast Whole Wheat Bread
#4-Sun's Up Granola
#5-BBQ Rub

[u]#6-Confetti Comfort Soup[u]
Ingredients:
1 Pint Jar with tight screw lid
2/3 C dried green split peas
2/3 C dried yellow split peas
2/3 C dried orange lentils

(Note: these dried legumes are available at the whole foods, natural markets. Other types are also possible, just make sure they have identical cooking instructions)

Assemble Ingredients (see Photo)


Step 1 (see Photo)-Place green peas in jar for first layer.


Step 2 (see Photo)-Place orange lentils in jar for second layer.


Step 3 (see Photo)-Place yellow peas in jar for third layer. The items should reach to the top of the jar threads.


Step 4 (see Photo)-Tightly screw on lid and cover lid with a piece of wrapping paper or fabric. Tie on with ribbon.


Step 5-Tie tag with Mix instructions (as follows) around lid:
"Mix Instructions-Warm up on a cold day! Just place 1 C mix and 3 C water in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Promptly lower heat and simmer covered about 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste."

Low Cost Pins Make Me Happy

November 18th, 2007 at 11:23 am

Isn't it satisfying when the perfect use comes along for those little things you've been saving and saving?

I have a dozen little pots of craft paint that were left over from one of my kid's project. And bits of ribbon, a few sequins, some buttons. Even some little Christmas decorations when they were 90% off last year, for example.

So voila! They have been made into great fun pins which are destined for a few craft shows this year. They will cost $2.50 each.

Have a look:

BRIGHT CHRISTMAS TREE, RED 'SWEET' HEART
The tree is embellished with pearl swags, button ornaments, a bit of silver snow, and a big gold bow topper.

The heart is enhanced by a rosebud and lettering.


NATURE CHRISTMAS TREE, BACK-TO-BASICS HEART, ROMANTIC HEART
The tree is brightened with copper glitter branches, button ornaments, and a silver bow topper.

The old fashioned heart is decorated with buttons, and outlined in yarn. It reads "Peace".

The romantic heart is embellished with a sweet pink flower, two ribbons and a bit of pearl string. It reads 'SWEET' on the side.



Every bead has it's place, right? Now I can't wait to start saving all the gift wrap decorations from this year!

Mix It Up Gift - Inexpensive Idea to Make, Part 5 in a Series

November 10th, 2007 at 08:04 am

This is the fifth 'Gift in a Jar' you can make for family and friends this December. It is rather inexpensive but thoughtful, especially if it is made even more personal.

For example, personalize this spice rub attaching a BBQ tongs or fork, or a big potholder (available at the dollar store).

Find more great easy recipes in the 'Handmade' section of this blog (click on category column left). And more are coming for you to collect and make later this year. Some of the recipes are my own originals, some are credited to others. All lean to the healthy diet, as I prefer to avoid heavy sweets and fats. Enjoy!

Spice Rub
Credit: Gifts from a Jar, Publications Intl.

Ingredients:
Clean dry jar with screw lid
1/2 C chili powder
1 1/2 Tb salt
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 TB ground cumin
2 tsp ground red pepper
1 TB black pepper
2 TB plus 1 tsp oregano

Layer ingredients in jar with the chili powder on the bottom. Cover the lid with a square of fabric or wrapping paper, tie with a ribbon and attach a tag with these instructions:

"Shake and Bake! Sprinkle the rub on burgers or chicken and grill to your heart's content!"

Free Inexpensive Homemade Gift Ideas-Part 4

October 28th, 2007 at 04:30 pm

How about another healthy snack for fitness fiends you want to gift?

This is the fourth 'Gift in a Jar' you can make for family and friends this December. It is rather inexpensive but thoughtful, especially if it is made even more personal. (Such as including a bowl and spoon, or water bottle, or small gym towel with this granola mix!)

Find more great easy recipes in the 'Handmade' section of this blog. And more are coming for you to collect and make later this year. Some of the recipes are my own originals, some are credited to others. All lean to the healthy diet, as I prefer to avoid heavy sweets and fats. Enjoy!

Remember - Early Planning Saves Money

Rise & Shine Granola
(from Parade Magazine)

Ingredients:
3 clean pint jars w/screw lid
(use a canning jar, or a thrift store find)

2 C oats
1/2 C wheat bran
1/2 C shredded coconut
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/2 C sunflower seeds

Combine above 5 ingredients in a bowl.

1/2 C oil
1/4 C honey
1/4 C lgt brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Cook above 5 ingredients in small sauce pan over low heat to dissolve the sugar.

Toss the two mixtures and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake 325 deg about 20 min until golden brown. Cool completely.

1/2 C dried cranberries
1/2 C chopped dried apricots
1/2 C golden raisins

Place baked mixture back in bowl and add above 3 ingredients.

Fill jars, affix fabric or wrapping paper over the lid with a ribbon tie. Be sure to leave enough tail to add a label "Granola Fit for You!".

Enjoy!

Jar Gift Recipes to Collect- Part 3 of a Series

September 25th, 2007 at 03:37 pm

How about healthy part-whole wheat to warm up this winter?

This is the next 'Mix in a Jar' recipe for an inexpensive gift you can make yourself. Great for the teacher, coach, young baker, hair dresser, neighbor, and others this year.

More great easy recipes in the 'Handmade' section of this blog and more coming for you to collect and make later this year. Some of the recipes are my own originals, some are credited to others. All lean to the healthy diet, I prefer to avoid heavy sweets and fats. Enjoy!

Remember - Early Planning Saves Money

WW Self Rising Bread
Ingredients:
Quart size jar with screw lid-sanitized and dry (get some from the thrift store)

2 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C sugar
1 C currants or raisins
2 tsp caraway seed (optional)

Combine all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Layer this mixture with the whole wheat flour, sugar, dried fruit and seeds. Pack each layer down firmly before adding next layer. Seal with lid. Cover with decorative fabric or paper tied with a ribbon. Attach the following recipe--

WW Hearty Bread
1 jar Hearty Bread Mix
1/2 C butter (1 stick) cut into small pieces
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 C buttermilk (or milk with a tsp vinegar added and left standing a few minutes)

1. Preheat oven to 350 deg. Pour contents of jar into large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture is crumbly. Pour in buttermilk and toss to form slightly sticky dough.

2. Turn dough out onto well greased baking sheet. Shape into 8-inch round.

3. Bake 50-60 minutes until golden and crust is firm.

4. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. Remove to wire rack and cool. Cut into wedges to serve with hearty soup and salad.

ref: Gifts from a Jar (Publications Intl.)

Inexpensive Gifts to Make Later This Year - Part 2 in a Series

September 12th, 2007 at 12:35 pm

Plan ahead now and save money in December! Many easy, handmade gifts can be possible this year and convey a thoughtful, personal touch.

I am posting the second recipe for "Mix in a Jar" gifts (scroll down my blog for previous entries) for you to collect and use to your advantage.

Great for the little folks you want to surprise including coaches and teachers, nurses, mailmen, salon and anyone who has an appetite! Some of the recipes are my originals, some are credited as shown.

I prefer healthy, easy on the sugar and fat foods. This one is saved by the oatmeal! (Kids and teens would love to get this too!)

SUPER CHUNK OATMEAL COOKIE MIX
1 quart jar with screw lid, sanitized and dry (get decorative ones at the thrift store or just use canning jars)

1 C sugar
1 C whole wheat cake flour
1 C quick cooking oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
6 Sq semi-sweet Baker's Chocolate, coarsely chopped

Layer ingredients in the jar (starting with the sugar on the bottom). Close lid tightly and tie a nice piece of fabric or wrapping paper over lid with ribbon, leaving a long enough tail to attach a recipe card as written below.

"Eat Me Quick Oatmeal Cookies"
Preheat oven to 375. Beat 3/4 C softened butter in a large bowl until creamy. Beat in 1 egg and 1 tsp vanilla.

Stir Cookie Mix into the butter mixture until well blended. Spoon heaping tablespoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375 fo 12-14 min or until golden brown. Cool on bakin sheet 1 min. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Makes 30 servings (1 cookie each)"

Enjoy and stay tuned for more in coming weeks Wink

Hot time to Plan for December-Part 1 of about 6

September 6th, 2007 at 06:50 am

The heat wave is almost over and now is the time to start on the December gift planning.

Early Planning Saves Money

'Mix in a Jar' is a thoughtful inexpensive gift you can make yourself. Healthy food mixes are suitable for many of the incidentals you want to surprise (like the teacher, hair dresser, neighbor, and more).

I will share some great easy recipes in coming weeks for you to collect and execute later this year. Some of the recipes are my own originals, some are credited to others. All lean to the healthy diet, I prefer to avoid heavy sweets and fats. Enjoy!
----------------------------------------
Spicy Rice
Ingredients:

1 glass pint jar w/screw lid, washed and dried (tip: go to the thrift store and find interesting jars, or just use canning jars)

2 C brown or basmati rice

1/8 C dried mushrooms

1 tsp red hot pepper flake

2 tsp onion powder

Mix ingredients thoroughly by placing in a ziploc bag and shaking well. Pour into jar and close tightly. Cover lid with square of fabric or wrapping paper. Tie covering around lip of lid on with ribbon, leaving a long enough tail of ribbon to attach cooking instructions.

Using the rice instructions, write the cooking instructions on a small card punched with a hole in the corner. Tie onto the ribbon.

Another Inexpensive Last Minute Gift Idea

December 16th, 2006 at 07:03 am

Muffin, soup, rice mix in a jar is a suitable gift for someone who has everything. The teacher, the elderly aunt/uncle, the casual neighbor.

Here's a couple recipes that cost pennies. Notice I prefer to give unsugary foods. Buy enough supplies to make several to save even more.

Supplies:
Glass jar with a lid (get it at the thrift store, wash well)
Square of Fabric to cover the lid
Ribbon or raffia to tie on the fabric

Spicy Lentil or Pea Soup
One to two cups dried lentils or split peas (bulk available at health food store, or bagged in the grocery store)

1/8 tsp flaked hot pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Pour into jar. Close and cover with fabric. Attach tag with instructions (from bag) how to cook soup.

Herbed Rice Mix
3 C long grain rice such as basmati
dried mushrooms
1 Tb dried onion flakes
1 Tb garlic powder
1 Tb parsley

Mix ingredients thoroughly. Pour into jar. Close and cover with fabric. Attach tag with instructions (for rice cooking)

Last Minute Inexpensive Gift Idea

December 13th, 2006 at 07:18 am

Have you ever tried to make a wreath?

It's easy, thoughtful and costs little.

Small: Bend a wire coat hanger into a circle (use pliers if necessary). The hook is already in place for hanging! Gather small branches and greenery from your yard. (Don't be afraid to go to the street trees if necessary, but just a little!). Use a variety of greenery, such as ivy, pine, and berried bushes. Wire them to the hanger. Finish with small bows, small ornaments, cinammon sticks, etc.

Large: Gather medium and small pieces of greenery from the yard. Wire them directly into a circle. Be generous, as this will make your circle more sturdy. Weave a ribbon in and around the circle. Or decorate with a theme. Make a 'gardeners' wreath and tie on cloth gloves, seed packets, small tools. Very easy and smells nice!

Harvest your greenery ahead of time and put the cut ends into a bucket of water. Store in a cool place for about 2 weeks until you have time to do your crafting.

Don't forget to make a small one with inexpensive items at prettycheap.etsy.com!