Make and give these cute Valentines! Find the instructions over at The Fitly Spoken Word.
Make and give these cute Valentines! Find the instructions over at The Fitly Spoken Word.
In my ever ongoing efforts to de-clutter, I’ve come across my stash of wedding cards several times. As unsentimental as my husband accuses me of being at times (well, he’s right… I’m a pretty practical old girl at heart), there are some things that I am loathe to part with even though their one and only value is sentiment. Wedding cards are one of those things. Up until recently, I really didn’t know what to do with them; I just had them stashed in a wedding gift bag waiting until I had a brilliant idea.
And it’s true that good things come to those who wait… since I gave it about 9 years, give or take a day, I finally hit upon a brilliantly simple idea. Let’s not talk about how it should have come to me quite literally YEARS ago, ‘k? Let’s just call it brilliant, simple, elegant, and leave it at that.
a length of ribbon, preferably left over from your wedding or at least in the same color scheme
a hole punch
your wedding/bridal shower cards
Told ya that was brilliantly simple. And really rather elegant, yes? And it makes it easy for me to read the card from my grandma and grandpa, both who have passed on to their eternal home within the past nine years. Their legacy of a lifetime of love is one I will treasure always.
I’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for most of my adult life, but it’s been a new experience for me the past couple of years to be the parent of a student. Having been on both sides of the equation, I know the importance of a thoughtful gesture that shows appreciation for the hard work a teacher does throughout the school year.
At the same time, I’m not exactly rolling in dough! Quite the contrary; every penny counts around here. So as the end of the school year rolls around, I have to put my thinking cap on to come up with a teacher appreciation gift that will be appreciated but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This year, my Certain Little Someone helped me out with his own ideas and his own special flare. He’s only 5, but I thought he put together a great gift with only a few minor suggestions and input on my part.
He was quite insistent that he wanted to buy his teacher a beach towel, which at first I thought was rather an odd gift until it rather grew on me. I mean, what could be more perfect to herald the start of the summer (and the end of the school year!)? So from there, we came up with a perfect summer-themed gift, including a card that he helped me design. He wanted to be able to color part of it, so I made one with black and white flip flops that he could color in himself.
I thought his little gift turned out so well that it deserved to be shared with the world at large, so I’ve created two PDF printables of the teacher appreciation card we designed: one that can be colored in and one that is ready to print and give. There are 2 cards on each page, so you can use them to gift multiple teachers. You can personalize the card with a note on the back.
I recommend printing on card stock, but you could also print them on regular copy paper, then cut out and glue onto scrapbook paper for a little more pizzazz.
Click on the images below to get your free printable teacher appreciation cards!
There are lots of great summery gifts that go perfectly with this little card! We chose a beach towel and some flip flops, but the possibilities are almost endless:
Now that Christmas is over, I’m sure you have a plethora of Christmas cards you don’t really know what to do with. At least I know that’s what happens to me every year! The photograph ones I keep in a photo album, but the actual Christmas cards are not so easily dealt with: they’re so pretty, you hate to throw them away… but what can you do with them?
This year, I hit upon a creative solution: Every year at Christmas, I like to help my boys make some ornaments they can give as gifts to various family members. One year it was cinnamon ornaments, and another year they were made with salt dough. I feel like the whole process teaches them the joy of giving as well as the joy of creating, and family members (grandparents especially!) love to receive their little handmade treasures – a total win-win!
This past Christmas, I took on an ambitious project for their ornament gifts; and in the end, their role was minimal (probably shoulda waited ’til they were a little older), but I loved the final result anyway! What I particularly love about this project (which I originally found on Pinterest , of course) is that it is made of recycled materials. In particular, it makes use of Christmas cards, which are so beautiful… but so plentiful. You can only use them for gift tags so much, and then even that gets a little old, ya know? I was thrilled to find this unique and creative usage for all the Christmas cards I’d been hoarding in a little box.
This isn’t as simple of a craft as I usually undertake, and I actually did have to buy some items specifically for this project (never happens!), but I love the result. I might make some more next year and give them as gifts myself!
Summary: Upcycle your old Christmas cards into these beautiful ornaments.
I haven’t posted much about my decorating skills, because, uh… I have none. I’m seriously lacking in that department. I’m always amazed at the genius and creativity of all those bloggers out there who look at an object and say, “Sweet! I can make THAT out of THIS!”, when “THAT” has absolutely nothing in common with “THIS”, and the end result is always extraordinary. I am not that kinda girl. I look at “THAT” and see… well, THAT.
So as you can see, creativity is not one of my strengths. Not even close! And that, my friend, is why I am inordinately proud of this recent project I completed! Because you know what? I completed the project start-to-finish without consulting Pinterest or any of those creative types (unless you count my DH, who has a degree in graphic design, and whose opinion was invaluable when it came to choosing the colors and papers). And I think the end result is absolutely lovely!
Here’s how this project evolved: I started with two picture frames that my DH had given to me for Christmas some years ago; and although I had pointed them out to him as a potential gift item, I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, so they sat largely unused for… umm…. a while. (Let’s just leave it at that.) The biggest problem was that I didn’t have enough actual pictures of people that were oriented in the same way (all vertical or all horizontal), and I also couldn’t figure out the best way to hang the two frames together, and where to put them, yada yada yada. Too many little problems for my pea-pickin’ little non-decorator brain to figure out.
But in our new place, I was determined to use them somehow, because – despite the issues they presented – they were beautiful frames, and my DH had given them to me. Thankfully, finding the spot on the wall was easy this time around. They fit perfectly in the space between the built-in media cabinet and the curtains and would totally finish out the little tableau I was creating there.
Unfortunately, figuring out what to put in those dumb frames was still an issue. I pondered over it for quite some time, mulling a variety of ideas before settling on creating some type of text-based graphic design myself. Then I pondered a little longer, trying to come up with two words that were 5 letters each, were meaningful to our family, and made sense. Faith and family would’ve been perfect except for the minor detail that “family” has 6 letters, not 5. Love and hope? Only four letters, and not necessarily words that personally meant a lot to us. Pretty words, but nothing that struck a chord in me.
Finally, I settled on using our initials. Not a perfect solution, I guess, because if our family grows, then we have to redo them! But for now, it works beautifully: they are both meaningful and personal, and the 3 characters balance nicely in the middle of the 5 slots.
I love the finished result, and these frames -inexpensive wall art that they are!- make me smile every time I see them. The colors complement the overall color scheme in our living area (gray, blue, brown with some black/white accents) and help to create a put-together look. But what I love best is that this art is personal to me! It’s not something I picked up on sale at Michaels’ or from the clearance rack at Marshall’s, and that makes all the difference in the world.
What I love second best is the price! I already had the frames on hand, and the paper cost less than $10. The whole project came together in one afternoon, and wasn’t that difficult at all. Actually, it was really quite easy!
I measured and cut the scrollwork and silver papers to fit the openings in the mat, then I taped them to the back of the mat (scrollwork paper first, then the silver background). I alternated the blue and the black scrollwork papers to create a balanced but varied design.
Then I drew the letters freehand (my DH actually drew the ampersand template for me because my ampersands kept coming out like “S”‘s, lol) onto a piece of paper that was cut the size of the mat opening, making sure the letter filled the space but was neither too large nor too small. Then, using scissors and the craft knife, I cut the letters out to create templates, which I used to cut out the actual letters on the sturdy linen paper. Again, I used black for one set of initials and white for another to kind of balance out the look but keep things fresh.
Then I just used my glue stick to carefully adhere the letters to the scrollwork paper through the opening in the mat. Once they dried, I put the mat back into the frame, put the backing on the frame, and secured it. Then my DH hung it on the wall, and… DONE!
I love re-usable coffee cozies, mostly because I hate waste. Those disposable ones at the coffee shops always seem so pointless, but then I have this little problem of accidentally throwing away the re-usable kind. Henceforth and therefore, I have no desire to spend any amount of money or time on a re-usable coffee cozy (as cute as some may be, and I’ve seen some awfully cute ones!) when it’s just going to end up in the trash one day anyway.
When I was on my organizing spree earlier in January, I cleaned out my sock drawer. (Yes, my sock drawer.) In there was a lonely old slipper sock that had lost is mate a loooonnnngggg time ago and was merely biding time in the dark old drawer, waiting for me to sadly end its life. Only I couldn’t quite bring myself to do that, the poor lil’ slipper sock having been worn only a few times before being reduced to singlehood, and thus in excellent condition still. (I think I have already mentioned that I hate waste.)
As I sat staring at the spinsterly sock, waiting for inspiration to strike… it did! Inspiration, I mean. It struck! This perfectly good slipper sock (that was not dirty in the least, thankyouverymuch!) could have a new lease on life with a new purpose and a new design! All it would take was a snip of my scissors and what was old would be new again.
Almost gleefully, I grabbed a pair of scissors and made two short cuts (don’t worry, it didn’t hurt a bit). Reluctantly disposing of the heel portion – but only because no inspiration struck as to what I could do with that ridiculously shaped tube – I ran into the kitchen and tried first the toe and then the band. And woohoo! It worked! Perfectly, I might add.
Why, yes, indeed. I turned that lonely – but adorable – slipper sock into not one, but TWO adorable coffee cozies that, being free, will not cause me one moment’s grief if they happen to be accidentally disposed of. (OK, well, maybe a tiny moment, because they are awfully cute!)
So. Happen to have any spinsterly spare socks lying around your house in lonely dark drawers? (Of course you do, who am I kidding?!) Give them a new lease on life and release them from their loneliness with a fresh purpose as your own adorable little coffee cozy.
The best part? Everyone will think you knit it yourself by hand. (*snicker*)
Come back tomorrow for another quick tip to help you simplify your Christmas by focusing less on spending and more on celebrating.
I love turning trash into treasures. Egg containers, coffee cans, empty jars and bottles… none of them are safe from me! I love figuring out new ways to use them instead of just throwing them all away. Join me at Homemaker’s Challenge today where I show you how to turn an empty oatmeal canister into a toilet paper dispenser that will beautify your bathroom (really!).
Sharing at Frugal Days Sustainable Ways
Last weekend was my Baby Boy’s first birthday, can you believe it? An entire year has passed since he was born! And as you can imagine, planning a birthday in the midst of all the holiday mayhem was, to say the least, challenging.
My friend Leigh Ann of Intentional by Grace came to my rescue with a simple but fun first birthday theme that she had come across on Pinterest for her own child’s first birthday. The idea was so charming, I had to steal it (my apologies to Leigh Ann, who had the idea first!). And many thanks to the awesomely creative people who come up with these ideas in the first place. I am totally in your all’s debt! (And so are my kids, because Mommy could never come up with such cool stuff from her own head!)
The birthday theme idea, of course, was based on the game UNO. You know, for the number one. (In case you were unaware, “uno” means one in Spanish. Just in case you needed to know that.) As it happened, I had an old box of UNO that was missing quite a few cards (not to mention that someone put a new box of UNO in my stocking!), so I took that as a heaven-sent serendipitous sign that the UNO party was just meant to be.
One thing I LOVE (L-O-V-E!) about this theme is that the decorations are so terrifically cheap (a good thing considering the state of our bank account right after Christmas!). I used random supplies I had around the house to throw together some fun decor that was bright and cheerful and just screamed “party!”. All the decorations were made with that same a-few-cards-short-of-a-full-set! Add to that non-investment, 2 paper plates, a long string of curling ribbon, a stick of hot glue, and some random pieces of tissue paper (oh, and 2 pieces of felt), and you have the sum total of the items needed for UNO party decor.
The other thing I love is that it has a built-in color scheme: red, blue, green and yellow (plus a little black). Easy peasy. No thinking necessary.
Oh, and by the way, this party theme is not just for one-year-olds! Any kid, or even adult, who loves games or numbers would have a blast with this party theme!
This UNO wreath was a last minute inspiration that I literally whipped up in 2 minutes. And then I still had a ton of UNO cards, so I whipped up another one in a couple more minutes. This one’s a no-brainer, people. Take a large sturdy paper plate, and fold it in half. Cut out the inner circle, leaving the outer ring to form your wreath shape. Knot a ribbon around the top, then tie it into a bow. Lay the plate flat on a table, and use hot glue to attach UNO cards to the plate to form the wreath. I tried to match up the top left corner of each card to the top right corner of the previous card, slanting each one at a slight angle.
I made these tissue paper pom-poms using up some tissue paper languishing in my present-wrapping-box. I will spare you my own garbled attempt to explain how to make them, and direct you to this great picture tutorial instead. I used the colors from the UNO theme – red, blue, green and yellow. Black would be a nice addition, but I didn’t have black. I could have hung these up individually, but my DH and I decided to hang them together in a cluster above the birthday cake to draw attention there. It was a great choice! The cluster had more impact than individual pom-poms would have, I think.
To make an UNO garland, you’ll need to start with a tremendously long piece of curling ribbon (I used red because it’s what I had.). To secure the cards to the ribbon, you’ll want to tie a knot on each one. To do this, start with a long piece of curling ribbon. Punch a hole in the top of an UNO card, and thread the ribbon through it, leaving about 6″ or so on the left for hanging. Tie a knot and pull it taut just above the card. Then thread another card through the ribbon, once again tying a knot. Keep adding the cards one at a time, tying the knot for each one, until you come to the other end of the ribbon, once again leaving about 6″ or so for hanging. Voila! An UNO garland!
Even the birthday boy was part of the decor! Check out his designer onesie:
I used two pieces of felt (Warning: do not try to use peel’n’stick felt. It doesn’t stick. Just so you know.), one blue and one white (you couldn’t tell that yourself, could you?!). I cut a rectangle to fit the front of his onesie out of the blue felt and attached it via the adhesive on the back of the peel’n’stick felt. Bad decision. I should have hot-glued it on, because it wouldn’t stay put once we got to the party. Lesson learned! Thankfully, the white felt was not peel’n’stick! I cut out a slanted oval to fit in the center of my blue rectangle and attached it with hot glue (And it stuck. Like glue.) I also cut out some mini little “1”s from the white felt and glued them to the top right and bottom right corners. Then I cut a larger “1” (all of them attempting to replicate the UNO font) out of the blue felt and stuck it to the white oval. To this day, I do not know where it is. *Sigh* If you want a more permanent onesie, of course, you can skip all the gluing, and use iron-on backing and/or sewing it to secure around the edges. I was just going for the effect that day, so it wasn’t a really big deal that it wasn’t a permanent design.
Ain’t he a cute little model?!
Not shown (because I don’t have a picture) are the table decorations, which consisted mostly of black plastic table cloth, scattered with all my leftover UNO cards (yes, I still had more!). I considered running the UNO cards through our shredder to make confetti, but I ran out of time. It made more impact anyway, I think, leaving them whole.
Because, of course, there is no way Baby Boy will remember his first birthday years from now, we (all the guests at the party) made a scrapbook for him. Each person decorated one page and wrote a personal note to him for his birthday. The pages all have an empty spot where I can insert pictures from the party (I predict I will finish this in time for his 21st birthday party). I did the same thing for My Certain Little Someone’s first birthday, and I wanted Baby Boy to have the same special scrapbook.
Each piece of UNO decor was awfully QUICK, I can tell you that! The tissue pom-poms were the hardest part, but once I figured out how to make them, the process went more quickly. I made the garland while watching TV one night, and it was done before the show was over, so it didn’t take all that long.
Everything was super EASY, I assure you. OK, a slight learning curve on the pom-poms, but easier than other things I have done.
We’ve already covered how CHEAP these decorations were.
And HEALTHY as long as you don’t try to eat them.
Read the Rest of An Uno Birthday Series:
My friend Sheila of Alice and the Mock Turtle knocks my socks off with her creativity. Her active mind is always churning with ideas and new ways of looking at things to come up with such unique solutions and fun stuff of all kinds.
One of her recent blog entries totally blew me away with its simplicity and just sheer genius! She used empty tea bags to create individual instant coffee bags and dressed them up for gift giving. I didn’t even know you could buy empty tea bags!
Anything with the word coffee instantly grabs my attention, so I was all over this idea like white on rice (or brown, I guess I should say) and I started thinking about how I could incorporate this into my gifts from the kitchen for Christmas.
And since I can’t leave well enough alone, I began dreaming of different flavored coffees – my own coffee blends, so to speak – that could be placed into these little tea bags for sheer coffee-drinking pleasure. Cardamom-Orange Coffee to Go is the result of that mental brainstorming.
Sheila had found these amazing press-and-seal tea bags that you can iron after filling to create a completely sealed envelope of coffee. For some reason which I can’t remember now, I opted to go with Teavana’s PerfecTea paper filters instead. These tea bags don’t require any ironing (not my favorite chore), but neither do they have any way to seal them at all. I found that for my own use, simply folding over the top (as they were designed to do) was sufficient, and not even one teeny tiny coffee grind found its way into my coffee.
For gift-giving, though, I wanted to be sure that the envelope didn’t spill, so I simply used a doubled length of thread and a needle to make a running stitch through the top of the folded filter. I left a 3″-or-so length of thread on either side and tied those together into a knot. Not only did this keep the coffee grinds from spilling out of the bag, but it also created a useful handle for pulling the filter in and out of a cup of hot water. And it gathers, so it can be used to help squeeze out all the coffee goodness! The whole process took maybe 30 seconds for each coffee bag (and I am by no means a proficient sewer!).
Unfortunately, it’s too late for you to order the tea bags in time for Christmas at this point, but they may be available at your local Teavana store (or other tea specialty shop). If you can find the tea bags, filling them up is super quick and easy, making them a great Christmas gift or stocking stuffer!
Some gifting suggestions: