Second to the Christmas tree, stockings are one of the common images of the season that transcend borders & styles.
As a kid, I could always depend on an apple and an orange being in the bottom of my stocking. I had attributed their appearance to being a cheap & reasonable way to fill a good portion of a stocking. It was fascinating to learn later that this had less to do with the burden of filling stockings after buying all of those gifts, but actually traced back to tradition. Which specific tradition, however, is a matter of contention among “experts.”
One item of folklore about St. Nick is that he had given a gift of a dowry to the daughters of a poor farmer, who could not afford to marry them off otherwise. The sacks of gold in the toes of the stockings had the look of oranges to them.
Other traditionalists claim that oranges – and soon after apples – started appearing in the stockings of the Great Depression, as at the time, fresh fruits were hard to come by and were considered a luxury. This doesn’t really explain why people from other countries could count on getting an orange in their stockings, however.
So after the oranges and apples have been placed softly into the toe of your socks, what next? You never realize how much a sock can hold until it’s stocking stuffing time. Filling stockings can add up to be an expensive endeavor, as well as one full of unnecessary, impractical clutter-makers. I’ve compiled a list of stocking stuffers for all ages to help make filling them easier for you.
Age: 0 – 6 months
At this age, you could get away with just handing the child the stocking (if they are closer to 6 months), or filling it with crumpled up wrapping paper. But, for those that insist on the joy of filling a stocking for the littlest of ones, here are some suggestions:
Age 6 months – 2 years
This is also an easy age. Practicality is the key!
Fisher Price Little People toys
Baby food/applesauce pouches
Tiny board books
Age 3 – 4 years
Toothbrush & toothpaste (I’m a fun mom)
Socks/hats/mittens (there’s a theme going on here)
Bathing products – soap, shampoo, bubbles
Christmas trinkets from $1 store/$1 aisle
Age 5 – 7 years
Blindbag toys (shopkins, littlest pet shop… those $4 that are sealed so you don’t know what you’re getting and you keep trying for those darn Super Rares)
More bathroom products
Age 8 – 12 years
It starts getting trickier to be cheap the older they get. Fortunately, at this age they likely have favorite things that hopefully need little accessories.
Hobby related items (paints & brushes for artists, legos for builders, comic books for comic book kids)
Age 13 – 15 years
I’m light years from dealing with this age as a parent, but this is what I would think would be appropriate.
Fancy lip gloss (EOS or other brands that seem grown-up (although I still love me a good Lip Smackers))
Bathroom products (at this age, you may be delving into the age of razor blade cartridges, which are not cheap and do count as good gifts because of that)
Age 16 – 18 years
Can parents do anything right at this age?
Bathroom Products (again) (but parents, let’s all agree that getting pads/tampons in a stocking is NOT cool)
Females over 18 years
Yes, I would still do a stocking for adult kids. Assuming my kid isn’t a butt head adult. #goals. But really – if you’re way into stockings and giving like I am, there’s no rule against doing stockings for adults. Here are some ideas that will vary in usage depending on your relationship with the adult.
“Expensive” chocolate – Lindt, Ferrero Rocher, Godiva… Nothing against Hershey’s, but I grew past that being acceptable gifting chocolate years ago.
Warm, fuzzy socks (getting someone pratical socks would be weird at this point. But those fuzzy ones for the winter – awesome giftage)
Planned out date night plans
Lotto Ticket scratchers
Tiny liquor bottles
Pens/stationery/washi tape if they’re into that.
Males over 18 years
This will again differ based on your relationship with the male. But in my research, I still believe that the key to men’s hearts is truly the stomach.
Tiny liquor bottles
Needed/wanted/nicer tools (do not be that person that gets a screw driver every year and winds up years later with a drawer full of nothing but screwdrivers) (although having one in each room of the house is sometimes more handy than you’d think)
Beard oil/grooming kit
Print outs of favorite pictures
Lotto ticket scratchers
Gloves/hats/mittens (switched it up on you!)
When all else fails, have fun with it! Gift giving shouldn’t be so serious. Sometimes the best thing to get a stodgy old adult is a good old slinky or yo yo to bring them back to their childhood for a moment. And who doesn’t enjoy a good whoopie cushion?
I was a Black Friday shopper for a few years, and I found that it absolutely was not worth the effort. You can find better deals throughout the year without the mad rush of crowds and greed, just hours after giving thanks for what you have.
As a reformed individual, I do find that I can get on board with supporting Small Business Saturday, though! By giving my money to a small business, I can see my funds going toward them keeping their livelihood, putting food on their families tables, and doing what they enjoy doing. Not that employees at Target don’t also need to be paid, but I feel less enchanted by the idea of how much the CEOs at large corporations are putting under their roofs from my hard earned dollar.
So, if you’re local to the Omaha, Nebraska area, or visit here frequently, I’d like to share with you some of the businesses & individuals I was happy to support this most recent Small Business Saturday.
To be completely transparent – these thoughts & opinions are all my own and I am receiving nothing in connection with my rants. I hope only to further local small business owners and contribute to their success, so please do stop by their pages/shops out of the kindness of your hearts. You may just find the perfect gift for someone on your list!
This shop has some cute, clever, and just generally warm & fuzzy print work that caught my attention right away (and not only because I’m insanely jealous of the concepts and prints she’s created when my mind goes completely blank once I get the carving tools out). My husband and I bought a “Lovecraft” print and can’t wait to find the perfect place to hang it in the house.
In addition to the items listed in her shop, you can also contact her through etsy for custom orders and for large quantity orders (think – Christmas cards). Anything you get from her shop will definitely stand out amongst the crowds of greeting/holiday cards. I’m also a sucker for a clever pun, so I am all over this shop. I need to have more greeting card occasions in life just so I can send these out. They will be a nice addition to my unique stationery collection!
If you haven’t found a gift for a hard to shop for person, this is the etsy store to check out!
Cee Whit – Baked Goods
Find her at pop-up shops and Instagram @ cee_whit
I like baking, therefore, I am extremely picky when it comes to eating baked goods. I expect a lot. And when it comes to macarons – I expect even more. Going to France and having Laduree macarons spoiled me rotten. So when I say that I’ve found the only macaron that I’ve had back here in the states that measures up to the Laduree macarons I remember gaining about 5 pounds from in Paris, that means something.
This woman’s macarons are devine. And her hand pies… you’ll never look at a pie that comes in a wrapper the same again. Never. I also bought a red velvet whoopie pie that made me want to bathe in it. I’ve never liked whoopie pies, but I could eat these things to my sugar fueled death.
I may not do any holiday baking this year and may just buy more of her cookies instead. And then, I may not share. We’ll see how generous I’m feeling, because seriously – these are hide them from the rest of the family and eat them hiding in the coat closet good. Seriously – head over to instagram and check her out! A plate of her cookies would be the best teacher/neighbor/favorite blogger gift ever!
Furbelow Folly Terrariums
Find her at pop-up shops and Instagram @ furbelow_folly
Terrariums have always been neat to me, but not something I could actually see in my eclectic home, until seeing Furbelow Folly’s terrariums. They are the perfect mixture of terrarium and whimsy for my likings. A well arranged plant that I can’t kill – and it has fun characters in it? Sign me up! I’m sure it will not only help my home’s chi/feng shui/whatever, but I smile each time I see it!
The hardest decision I had to make was between a Star Wars terrarium, or the Doctor Who terrarium that had a really gorgeous pocket watch as the centerpiece. Strangely enough I went with Doctor Who – but had the StormTrooper terrarium not already been sold, it probably would have gone home with me instead. My husband is the Doctor Who fan in the house – I lost my love for it when Rose’s story ended, though now that the insufferable bowtie doctor is done, I’m more tolerant.
Take a look at her instagram feed and watch for her to be at a pop-up show – you will not regret it!
Daisy Jones Locker
Benson Omaha NE
This adorable little boutique is my favorite source for fancy clothes anymore! I’ve never loved clothes shopping until I ran into this store. It’s full of vintage inspired pinup clothes and shoes, in addition to great accessories and art from local artists. The owner is the nicest ever, and we have an inside joke where I end up going back for belts all the time. The clothes all come in a full range of sizes, from the super small to the plus side of things. Anyone can find something in this store that will make them feel like a million bucks. If you’re a lady, stop by and fall in love. If you’re a man, stop by and get a tee-shirt or a gift for a lady in your life.
And in addition to the awesome clothes & dresses & shoes & everything else, she carries the most excellent Star Wars (and other) themed purses that I get asked about everywhere I go.
You must visit!
I hope you enjoy this list of people & places to shop that are local to my corner of the world.
With the last of the turkey made into soup using the broth I made from the turkey carcass, I can officially call Thanksgiving DONE! And now I can say…
This is my favorite time of year, hands down. It takes everything I’ve got to put up Thanksgiving decorations after Halloween and not just go straight to Christmas. I revert back to my 6 year old self when it comes to December time, so to be able to hold it all together, I plan a bunch of fun Christmas related activities to last throughout the month.
December 1st is often kicked off with the start of an Advent calendar. Did anyone ever actually hold themselves to eating only one of those tiny little pieces of chocolate a day until Christmas? I never could as a kid, but my daughter has been pretty good at it so far. Anymore, there are a multitude of Advent calendars to choose from – you are no longer limited to that tiny square of chocolate wrenched out of it’s plastic shell. Here are some fun ideas for alternative Advent calendars, which range from cheap to pricey, and easy to involved. By creating your own calendar, or by purchasing a fun new kind of calendar, you can feel like a kid again experiencing something new each day of Christmas time!
Toy Advent Calendars
I don’t know if these are technically new, but I’ve noticed them more and more lately and actually bought one for this year. Advent calendars are available for sale by many different toy companies, like Playmobil, Lego, Disney, Fisher Price, Play Doh, and Barbie. While these are considerably more expensive than your $1 chocolate calendar, they do provide a longer lasting, tangible reward. The calendar I chose was a Playmobil Advent Calendar whose pieces add up to make a family Christmas scene. What I enjoy about that is that the pieces can become a part of our holiday decorations and come out year after year – IF my daughter doesn’t abscond them as part of her toy collection. Either way, it’s a fun way to see a scene build day after day and make the excitement last for 25 days, rather than 24 days of anticipation for 1 big day.
DIY Drink Advent Calendar
This calendar is definitely not for kids 😉 With the help of some PVC and spray paint from a hardware store, some Advent stickers from the Target Dollar Aisle, and many, many bottles from my local grocery store (Hy-Vee has a great selection of mix & match craft beer), you can put together an advent calendar that will bring 25 nights of deliciousness.
This calendar isn’t just limited to beer, either – mine contains craft & vintage sodas in glass bottles, as well. If you’re a fan of just one beer, you can certainly fill it with 25 of your faves.
To construct the tree, I had a 10ft section and a 2ft section of 3 inch diameter pvc cut into five inch sections. You’d think 5 inches into 10 feet would work out to not require so much extra, but when you account for the small amount removed from the cut itself, it adds up. Using PVC glue, the sections were attached together to form a Christmas tree shape, with 4 pipe sections at the base for the trunk. Spray paint added the festive colors.
Next, I used the advent stickers to top each bottle cap and loaded the tree up!
My husband is really looking forward to picking his bottle each morning and putting it into the fridge for a cold drink in the evening. It was really fun to put together as well. I’m not a beer drinker, so if I were to make one of these for myself, I’d have to get a much bigger diameter pipe to hold the wine bottle and would likely need rehab after the holiday season! But for someone that drinks an occasional beer here and there and likes to sample many different kinds, this is a fun gift to put together. I’ve paired with it a taste tracker so that he can remember which of the drinks he liked, and which weren’t as great.
Santa Beard Calendar
Who else remembers the advent calendars that soda companies gave out for free where you glued a cotton ball a day to Santa’s beard? I know they are truly a thing and not just my imagination, because I’ve met one other person who remembers this, and surely two people can’t be wrong!
I wanted to recreate that memory of my childhood, but also wanted it to be more permanent than a sheet of paper & cotton balls. With the help of a friend, I had a Santa head cut out of pine. Using Rustoleum Magnetic primer, I painted the bottom half of the santa head with two coats of the special paint. This paint is loaded with iron filings that make it magnetic upon drying. One drawback to this is that it is super expensive – so find a few friends that want to do this project along with you and split the cost.
After applying & drying the magnetic paint, I painted on a Santa face. You do not have to be an artist to do this if you have carbon paper – this was not free handed! Do not let this intimidate you. If you have a santa pic that you love, just use the carbon paper between your wood & print out to put the lines onto the santa to guide your painting. Instant artiste.
Finally, using some white pompoms scored from the quite successful Target Dollar Aisle and some glue & magnets, I made 25 beard balls (need a better name) that stick to the beard, despite my fears. Success! Instant Santa Beard Advent Calendar.
There was so much excitement that she couldn’t hold still for a second picture…
DIY Jar Advent Calendar
A pretty jar, some scraps of paper, and a pen make a really simple & quick advent calendar. Cut out 25 strips of paper and determine what you’d like to add to them each day. You can either start with 25 pre-filled items and pull one each day, or fill them out as you go and end up with 25 filled tags at the end of the day. Here are some ideas of what to write:
25 favorite Christmas memories
25 acts of kindness to perform during the holiday season
25 types of baked goodies to make (if you have all the time in the world to bake daily)
25 Christmas movies to watch
25 Christmas stories to read
25 Christmas songs to listen to
25 bible verses to read
25 Christmas themed activities to kill the time while you wait for the big man in the red hat
Have children write nice things about their siblings and read them each day until Christmas (you may want to pre-read these and remove the element of surprise)
Any combination of the above
Alternatively, you could use this as a perpetual advent calendar by reusing the same scraps over and over again. On each scrap, leave a lot of room for writing. When you draw a scrap for the day, write your best memory of that day. The next year, you start over with new memories being written right below the previous year’s memories. It’s a great way to keep a Christmas journal that you revisit year after year.
Envelope Advent Calendar
Similar to the jar calendar above, you can use an envelope to hold a daily treasure for the days leading up to Christmas. Fix your envelope to a cute bunting using some safety pins, or just tape them strategically around your home or on your fridge.
While not diet friendly, making 25 holiday crackers with your favorite holiday treat is easy if you can save 25 toilet paper, paper towel, or wrapping paper tubes. Simply fill them with your treat of choice and wrap them in some leftover wrapping paper scraps. Then hold yourself to only opening one per day!
Even though we now have a variety of advent calendars around the house to keep us busy until the big day, my daughter insists that she still needs the $1.99 chocolate advent calendar or her holiday will not be complete. There’s no pleasing some people! This is one craft project where you can let your imagination go wild and turn anything into a 25 day long activity that fits your family, home, style, tastes, and effort levels. Remember – putting together a red & green paper chain still counts as crafting!
“It’s the holiday season! So whoop-de-do, and hickory dock…”
I always thought that was the strangest lyric in a Christmas song ever. Maybe whoop-de-do had a better connotation in the days of Andy Williams? Maybe it wasn’t as sarcastic as it is today… Who knows!?
Point of fact- Andy Williams was born in my wonderful state of Iowa. There’s some great trivia for you the next time someone wants some good Christmas trivia. Which happens all the time, I’m sure.
At any rate – IT’S THE HOLIDAY SEASON! And while I feel a lot more excited than I do whoop-de-do about Christmas time, it’s a strain on the budget, even when I’m taking it easy. I attribute it to my love language of gift giving – I’m a giving person. It’s hard to reign me in once the Christmas music starts playing in stores and I see wrapping paper and tinsel and bows…
Here are three apps I’ve used to make some extra spending cash this season, along with the pros and cons of each. Hopefully you can find these useful like I did and make a little something on the side!
Poshmark calls itself a fun and simple way to buy and sell fashion, and I do agree with it being simple. Fun? Well, I suppose if you find fun out of buying clothes on your phone, you won’t find this not-fun, so, sure!
Poshmark is a buying and selling marketplace for all things clothing & accessory related. Much of it is second hand clothes being sold by people like you and I – although it does appear that there are some retailers using it – or people that appear to be acting as retailers.
I have used it both to buy and sell items, and I do agree that they make the process rather simple. To buy, you simply find an item you’d like to buy using their easy to use search functions and can choose to purchase it. You can link it through your PayPal account for convenience, and you can even make offers on items if you don’t agree with the price the seller has listed. Sellers have ratings that you can read from other people that have bought from them. Once you receive a package, you have three days to accept it or reject it and send it back, using a shipping label provided to you by Poshmark. So you don’t need to worry about buyer’s remorse.
I’ve actually used this app more for selling, and somewhat successfully! To sell an item, you can simply take a picture of it using your smartphone. You can take up to four pictures and load them all on the item listing. Then you need to provide a description, including the color, size, type of item, and state it is in (brand new, hardly worn, in good condition…). Before the listing goes public, you can enter the price you’d like to list it at. The app automatically shows you what your earnings would be if it were to sell at that price. Yes – Poshmark does take some off the top. But with the calculation done for you, it is easy to set the selling price at one that will make you happy with the earnings. You can also go in later if your item isn’t selling and adjust the price.
When your item does sell, sending it to the buyer is easy as long as you have a shipping container lying around and a printer. Poshmark covers the shipping, and you can download a shipping label and print it out at home, tape it to the box, and just drop the box in your mailbox. Once the buyer has received and accepted the purchase, Poshmark will hold your funds either in a Poshmark account for you to use to buy from, or they can transfer them to your Paypal.
I have found this a great way to not only get rid of clothes I hardly wear, but to get money for items that I would have otherwise just sent to the Goodwill. And it’s a great way to save money on clothes if you’re willing to buy clothes from your phone. This is actually the app that I’ve had the best luck with, believe it or not!
PROS – Simple & quick to use, shipping to a buyer is simple, and it’s easy to see how to price your item for maximum earnings.
CONS – If you have your phone set to allow notifications (which I would recommend as I originally did not have notifications set and it took me two days to realize I had my first sale), you will get A LOT of notifications. There are “parties” that you can be invited to, which I imagine is a way to get your item seen by more people, and I get notifications for at least 10 of those a day.
Words of Advice – Before you list, take a look at similar items and their prices & descriptions to get an idea of how to price competitively and what sort of information to share in the listing.
Ibotta is an app that gives rebates for products you’ve bought. You need to have your smartphone to be able to not only scan the barcode of the item, but to take a picture of your receipt. There are many different categories of rebates, as well as categories of stores you can browse. To earn a rebate, you select the item that is shown for rebate and for some, have to watch a quick commercial video or answer a quick market research survey question. So there truly is no such thing as a free rebate…
You can cash out on your accumulated rebates in a few different ways. One way to cash out is to receive a gift card of your choice with the amount of your rebates credited onto it. There are many different stores/restaurants/etc. to choose your gift card from. Another way you can get your earnings is to have Ibotta deposit them in your PayPal account. However – the minimum amount of earnings required for this is $20, which doesn’t seem like much, but for me, took a long time to reach.
Of all of the apps, I have found the least luck with this app, but that is likely based off of my lifestyle. I heard about this originally from a blog I read that talks about couponing, and there is a lot of money to be earned if you combine an Ibotta rebate with a coupon. Additionally, it appears that at almost all times of the year, you will get a $5 bonus for your initial sign up with Ibotta, which is large compared to the size of the other rebates. However, if you’re not a coupon shopper, or a sale item grocery shopper, it may take you a long time to rack up enough rebates to cash out. The items that are available for rebate are rather random at times, and were not items I saw myself buying normally. I didn’t want to go out of my way to buy something for $4 that I wouldn’t have bought otherwise for a $0.25 rebate, so it took me almost 3 months of use alongside the $5 bonus to reach the $20.
If you are the type of person that doesn’t mind buying things that you wouldn’t otherwise to stock up on them and take advantage of the related savings, this is right up your alley.
The other thing that disappointed me about this service is their customer service and the policies that they don’t share with you until you’ve gone outside of them. To explain, I do a lot of my grocery shopping on my local grocery store’s website, and then I pick them up curbside the next day. This saves me a lot of time on the weekends where I already have so little time. It is truly a lifesaver for me. I had submitted many receipts through Ibotta this way with no problem; however, when I submitted my final receipt to reach that $20 threshold, my rebates from it were all declined because the receipt had printed on it, “DUPLICATE RECEIPT.” This happens often when I do the online with curbside pickup, I’m sure because one copy of the receipt is created when I do the online checkout, and the other is done when the person at the store puts my groceries together. At any rate, Ibotta told me – after waiting for my email to be replied to for 3 days – that the purpose of Ibotta is to get people into the store to see products, so they could not honor my rebates. Strange that they had every other time… I was frustrated, so I went to Target and bought a bottle of liquor to get the associated rebate and be able to cash out. Good deal, though, because now I have a batch of fresh vanilla extract brewing and $21.75 in my bank account.
PROS – Simple & easy to use
CONS – Policies that you aren’t aware of until after you’ve stepped outside of them, very random assortment of items up for rebate, long wait to be able to cash out your accumulated rebates
Words of Advice – combine this with coupons to increase savings or use this if you’re a stock-up grocery type of person, but if you are particular about what you buy or aren’t buying to store a surplus, the effort may not be worth the payout.
Letgo reminds me of Craigslist in a way. It’s an app that lets you sell just about anything and ask for whatever price you’d like. You can load pictures taken with your smartphone and add your own description. What makes this different from other online secondary markets like Ebay is that it assumes you are listing locally, or that if you are looking outside of your geographical area, you’re going to figure out how to transport the item. It seems to be geared toward local buying/selling. So the items that will pop up in your listings if you are browsing are those that are close to where you are located.
The interface when it comes to listing is very easy to use and understand. I haven’t purchased anything from this app, or even browsed, so I can’t speak to how that works. But I have sold a few items from this and do think it’s a simple way to make some cash if you have something that might be worth value to anyone else. It works very similarly to the new Facebook Marketplace (before I got rid of my facebook account, that is.)
It does seem to be harder to sell items on this app than it does for me on other apps, but I don’t know if that is attributed to the types of items I am selling, or just that people are inundated with other ways to buy things. But, if you have something worth money that you’d like to part with, it’s much quicker to list with LETGO than it is on Craigslist or other types of services. There is a messaging area where you can speak back and forth with the buyer/seller without giving away any personal information like phone number or email. There are also verified sellers, but I don’t really know what it takes to be verified. It must be pretty cool, though. It is also easy to discount previous listings if they don’t appear to be selling quickly enough for you.
PROS – really quick & easy to get an item listed.
CONS – can take a long time for things to sell, if at all.
Words of Advice – as with any transaction where you are meeting a person that you don’t know, use caution & common sense! Only have a person to your house if you don’t have another alternative, and meet them outside. I would only advise having a person to your house if you have another person there to intimidate them ;). Always have a 2nd person with you for added safety whenever you can. Only accept cash. Many Police Stations have places now at the station dedicated to these types of transactions for safety – if this does not exist in your area, consider meeting at another location that is well traveled and only in daylight. I’m a big fan of meeting at places like gas stations or grocery stores – places where there is always likely to be someone walking around that could aid if anything bad were to happen. That said – I’ve had many transactions that have all been 100% safe and legitimate by following these steps, so don’t be intimidated to give it a try.
I’d love to hear about your experience with these apps, or with any other similar apps that you’ve used and had success (or failure) with. Share with me in the comments section!
Can anyone believe that Thanksgiving is less than 2 weeks away? I sure can’t! Maybe it’s the warm weather we’ve been having, which I loved at first, but I’m actually starting to want weather that is more fall like to get me into the holiday spirit.
At any rate, it is truly coming quickly. It’s not too late to create some easy, quick, and cheap décor for your home to help usher in that Thanksgiving feeling faster than a blobby cylinder of purple sour “cranberries” will. It’s another Dollar Tree Craft Challenge!
For this project, you will need:
Plain glass vase – or other vessel – from Dollar Tree
Tissue paper in fall colors – or colors of your choice – from Dollar Tree
Mod Podge – not from Dollar Tree, but a versatile supply that will be an investment in many craft projects. This should really be in every crafter’s tool box!
Brush to apply mod podge – this could come from Dollar Tree! I use the spongy brushes for this, but you could use a standard paint brush in any size just as easily.
To start, tear or cut your tissue paper into small bits no smaller than the size of a quarter, but no larger than the size of a post-it-note. You could really do them in any shape – if you like a more uniform look, cut them into squares. For a more random or unplanned look, rip the paper into different shapes. There are no rules in craft club. That’s not true. There are rules. But for this step, go wild.
To affix these to the outside of the vase, we will start by working in small sections to put a base layer of mod podge onto the vase. Mod podge does tend to dry quickly, so I work one piece at a time by putting down the mod podge in a layer that I think is the size of the piece of tissue paper, then putting the tissue paper down on it. Smooth any wrinkles out as much as you can, but tiny wrinkles here and there won’t impact the overall piece.
For my vase, since I had lost my yellow tissue paper somewhere so only ended up with red and orange. Because it was going to be difficult to really alternate two colors, I didn’t worry about placing a red next to a red or an orange next to an orange. So placement of colors/shapes of paper is entirely up to you as the artist. Depending on if you want a uniform piece, a random piece, or a logically random piece (red, orange, yellow, red, orange, yellow…), you will place your pieces how you like them. Don’t stress it, though. This is a Dollar Tree craft, after all! If you don’t like how it turns out, Goodwill it and head out for another $1 vase.
Once you have a section with a few pieces of tissue paper glued to the vase, go over these with a top coat of mod podge. This will put a good seal on the pieces, making them stick for a long, long time. Mod podge has different finishes – the product I was using has a matte finish, so I tried to keep my top coat thin to avoid having too much of a cloudy appearance once dry. Mod podge does dry mostly clear, but the thicker you put it on, the cloudier it is. I’ve never used a glossy mod podge, so if you use it, let me know what you think of it!
Repeat this process until your vase is as covered as you want it to be – base layer, tissue paper, mod podge! The tissue paper is great for this project because it’s thinness allows for a really great adhesion using less mod podge, and it also still allows for some light to shine through. Allow this to dry for at least 24 hours before handling or using.
I finished my vase with some fake flowers that I also got at Dollar Tree! For a $1, I think this looks pretty good!
Things that are coated with mod podge are not food safe, and not all finishes are water safe, either. I would also not recommend using mod podge for anything that will hold a candle or be near a flame as all glue finishes should be considered to be highly flammable. Here are a few alternatives if you were using this on something you hoped to be able to eat off of, wash, and/or use with a candle:
Food Safety: Mod Podge is non-toxic, but is not recommended for food touching surfaces as it would have to be tested and approved by the FDA to be considered food-safe. If you are doing a glass plate, mod podge your decorations to the BOTTOM of the plate so that the top can still be used for food. This would make a really cute charger or saucer!
Waterproof-ness? (not a word…) Mod Podge is not water proof. That said, you can get items wet by accident and not lose hope. You can even clean items that have been sealed with mod podge with a lightly dampened rag. But I wouldn’t submerge anything that’s been Mod Podged in water. There is an Outdoor Mod Podge and a Dishwasher Safe Mod-Podge, however, even the outdoor mod podge is not water-proof and is water-resistant. Using the outdoor version would be your best defense if what you’re making will be in wet elements, but it’s still not fool-proof. I have not personally used the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge to be able to recommend it or not, so if you have, please share with me your thoughts!
Flammability – I always assume anything that has glue or sealant or paint to be highly flammable. Actually, I assume EVERYTHING to be highly flammable. Thankfully modern technology has come up with flameless candles – which are basically tiny flashlights that look like tea lights or other candles. I like using these as much as possible when decorating as I don’t have to worry about the cats starting their tails on fire or my daughter starting herself on fire, or falling asleep without remembering to put them out. This vase would look really pretty with the glow of a flameless candle coming out from it!
I received an email on my phone today that actually caught my attention – unlike the handful of emails I find myself deleting each morning out of habit (I should work on unsubscribing more often). The attention grabbing email was from WordPress, and it was notifying me that my subscription was going to renew in 2 days since my year was up.
I’ve had this website for a year now (in two days).
Not that you’ve seen it for a year – I did a lot of prep work before I took the website live. But wow – so much has changed in a year! Outside of New Year’s Eve or my daughter’s birthday, I never really take the time specifically to think about how much has changed in a year.
So much has changed for me in one year’s time –
I started out on this blogging journey.
I’ve learned A LOT about blogging do’s and don’t’s.
I’ve gotten slightly better at taking pictures.
I’ve gotten a little better about time management (but not much).
I’ve learned a bit more about the size of “my plate” and when I have too much on it.
I’ve learned that I’m really not good at some things I’d like to be good at (like painting).
I’ve learned that I’m actually good at things I’d never thought I would be good at (like wood crafts).
I’ve gained new skills that I hope to go even further with.
I’ve enrolled to finish my bachelor’s degree.
I’ve un-enrolled for my bachelor’s degree in business and re-enrolled for a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design.
I’ve un-enrolled for my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design and have completed courses to become a Web Developer.
I’ve re-enrolled for more Associate’s degrees in Front End Web Design, Web & Database Management, and yes – Graphic Design.
I’ve learned that I’m not as bad at math or logical thinking as I always thought I was.
I’ve lost 20 pounds.
I’ve gained back 15 pounds.
I’ve decided that my focus right now is not on the numbers on the scale, but on being healthier overall – mentally and physically – and making lifestyle changes that are small baby steps toward someday worrying again about that number on the scale.
I’ve found through experience that time truly does go faster the older you get, and that it’s hard to have it all.
I’ve learned that there are friends out there that understand that, and will be there three months – or six months – or nine months later to pick back up exactly where you left off ages ago when you weren’t quite as busy as you are now.
I’ve learned to recognize in myself when it’s time to phone-it-in.
I’m still learning that when I’m afraid of failing or letting other people down, that there are no other people to let down but myself, so I should stop making up imaginary people that will be left down by my “failings” (lack of consistent blog posts, changing school directions once again, still having a credit card bill because for some reason I just cannot commit to not spending money on things).
I’ve learned that no matter how old I get, I’m still going to make bad decisions sometimes, but life goes on.
I’ve still not gained much patience in my life, but have instead learned ways around my lack of patience and how to be calmer.
I have a lot of room to go still toward being calm.
I’ve been to another new foreign country.
My husband and I got matching tattoos in the new foreign country. His faded quickly, and mine got infected.
I have fully lived many times the idea of “too good to be true.”
No matter how hard I try, I’m still NOT an outdoorsy person, and I don’t think I really ever will be.
Possibly the biggest thing that has happened over this year is that I’ve truly learned that there are things in my life that I am unhappy about, and what those things are. It can be hard to pinpoint the thing that isn’t working for you, but I believe I have. And I believe I’m taking the steps necessary to fix it. It’s been a slow road – and it’s hard when I see people doing similar things much faster than I am (some have started and succeeded in the time that I’ve still been working on it). But I’m sure there is an adage about how things that take a long time and are hard are usually better than if they weren’t hard or didn’t take as long.
I’m going to fail along the way.
I’m going to get frustrated along the way.
I’m probably going to waste a little bit of money along the way making bad decisions and failing (see above). But money is just paper. They print new money every day, right?
I think it will be worth it. I think I’m teaching my daughter important things by being at class at night when I’d rather be home with her. I think I’m teaching her that you have to work hard at life sometimes to make it how you want it, and it’s worth it. Nothing is truly ever given freely, and you can’t count on luck to get you through.
What does all of this have to do with blogging? Well, nothing, and everything. Taking the plunge and putting myself out there has opened me up to new possibilities and reminded me of what I enjoy spending my time on, which has led me on many paths I wouldn’t have known otherwise. Hopefully all will become clear and transparent in the next coming months.
I guess the moral of this almost-anniversary post is to put yourself out there, fail, make mistakes and bad decisions, but keep growing and learning. Because the only time you are DONE learning, DONE evolving, DONE changing as a person, is when you are dead. There is no age of being done, or having your life together.
What’s the phrase? If you want God to laugh, show him your plans? I’m sure I have that wrong, but the sentiment is there. If you think you’ve finally got it all sorted and your ducks are in a row, those ducks could be running amok at any moment.
Happy HALLOWEEN! For me, the entire month of October is Halloween. I don’t know why I love Halloween so much – I’m not really into scary things, and not at all into the occult, but for some reason, at the end of summer, I can’t wait to start seeing cute skeletons and pumpkins and witches and ghosts all over the place!
Holiday decorations can get expensive fast, so I wanted to attempt to get creative with some cheap items this year. And what better place to get cheap items than the Dollar Tree! Everything I’ve made here is a combo of random scrap pieces around the house and Dollar Tree items.
My first project was inspired when I saw packages of colored, sparkly “tube.” The package even showed a neat wreath you could make with them. SOLD! I added in some spiders for spooky effect.
However, when I actually got the tube home and opened the package, I found out that the materials were just a small piece of what you’d need to make a wreath, and I found out after handling them that they were a stupid piece of that wreath, and if you tried to augment them in any way by opening them up and making them not-a-tube, they fell apart. Sigh.
Not one to be discouraged for long, I got creative and grabbed an old beat up piece of wood from the garage.
Look – free spiderwebs already!
I started gluing the tubing down in a random mess, hoping to make something that looked like a really colorful spiderweb out of it.
After adding my spiders – and some leftover Halloween colored tulle tied in a bow, I came up with…
… the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It was part modern art, part huge failure. I wanted to share it with you though so that you see that not all crafters are prefect – we just tend to hide the bad projects and not talk about them. Not me – I’m putting it out there for all to see!
I did rescue it – by tearing off the awful tube-y stuff and replacing it with some Dollar Tree fake spiderwebs.
Not terrible! The wood was technically free since it was in my garage, and the tulle was leftover from another project, so for this project, free. So in total, I spent $2 on what is shown above ($5 if you count the original purchase of worthless tube stuff), and the cost of the hot glue used to attach.
You can also get some really cheap glassware items from the Dollar Tree, including some very generic looking glass vases. Glass also takes extremely well to spray paint, so you can easily customize some glass pieces with different colors of paint. In a previous year, I took some empty glass bottles and sprayed them with stripes of white, orange, and yellow, to look like candy corn!
This year, I took my hot glue gun and put a spiderweb like pattern of glue on the vase. Once that dried, I covered it with black spray paint for a shiny, black spiderweb vase. The flowers added into it later were not from the Dollar Tree; however, they do sell fake flowers that could also be spray painted into Halloween colors.
It’s a bit hard to really show off the spiderweb in photos thanks to the shine in the vase, but it’s a really neat way to dress up a cheap vase. You could also use hot glue as a sort of negative and peel it off after spray painting; however, if doing this, I would do a base color under the glue as it might be hard to see the clear space below with black showing through from the back of the vase. This would also be a great way to make some jack-o-lantern vases by using orange spray paint as the top coat and using the glue to shape out the face cut-outs; afterwards you could go over the face cut outs either by hand or by spraying the inside of the vase black (I would be cautious about spraying the outside black first and then trying to cover with orange. It could work, but it might take a lot of orange to cover the black!). Remember always to use a lot of ventilation when spray-painting. The fumes can get to you really quickly and it’s quite flammable as well. My grass with it’s many outlines from spray painting projects can attest to being a great place to use spray paint!
Decorating for the holidays does not have to be an expensive feat – it can be done cheaply with a little imagination, hot glue, spray paint, and being okay with having a few failures here & there!
It is a dreary, dark, rainy day today. And honestly, I’m not all that sad about it. It signals the coming of fall, and the end of summer. Fall is my most favorite time of the year! It’s like spring, but less mushy. This fall will be a difficult time for me, though, since I am returning to school and am currently in a night class that takes 12 hours a week for 7 weeks. My mom guilt is hitting hard since it keeps me from my family for 3 nights a week, and on some of those nights, the only time I will see my daughter is before work/school that morning.
To counteract that mom guilt, I’ve been trying to fit in as many family activities in my free time as I possibly can. That does mean burning the candle at both ends for me, but it’s only for 7 weeks, right? It’s all temporary! I’ve chosen the sunniest project that we’ve squeezed in recently to bring a little vitamin D to your day.
This project was actually inspired by a tangled slinky. Trying to untangle it, I ended up just bouncing the bottom of it around on the coffee table and noticed that the action was similar to stamping something over and over and over again, which led my mind into imagining it was bouncing in some fresh paint and then bouncing on a clean canvas and leaving it’s imprint behind. My mind is colorful – what can I say? It got me wondering – what other toys could be used to make unique prints on a canvas? I discussed it with my husband and daughter, and I was affirmed that this was not one of my crazier ideas, because it got them thinking about it, too. So since I already have a stash of paint & blank canvases in my craft studio, we were off to the Dollar Tree to get some toys that could act as neat prints!
This project is great for more than just busting boredom, or getting those creative juices flowing. We had a really fun time looking at different toy shapes and trying to find out if they would have a distinctive shape. Even my 4 year old daughter was grasping the concept – when she wasn’t just trying to get new toys. It made us think about things and shapes in a different way, and that kind of spatial, conceptual thinking can be hard to reign in with children (and to inspire in adults), so it’s a great thinking method to foster and develop. Yes – this toy is a pull tractor – but what does it look like just from underneath? What kind of shape would it leave behind? Would you stamp it – like the pony hooves – or drag it – like the sand roller? How would it be distinctive – or, how would you know afterwards which toy it was that left that shape behind?
The toys we ended up choosing were a plastic dinosaur, pony, the broken slinky, a tractor with a pull behind cement mixer (though we couldn’t figure out how to attach the cement mixer to the tractor – that’s what you get for buying toys at the Dollar Tree), and a sand roller, which I guess is used while playing in sand to leave neat imprints in it? I felt a little bit like we were cheating with that toy, but it was neat so I let it slide. The only thing I put my foot down on was a rubber bouncy ball. Not only did I think it was only a ploy to get another rubber bouncy ball (how many bouncy balls does a child need), but even if we did use it, I did not want a ball covered in paint bouncing around my porch – even if it was outside! I didn’t want to try and get hot pink acrylic paint off of my siding, or out of my hair, or off of one of the high up windows. So I was mean mom about the bouncy ball 😉
Funny story – when we got the dinosaur, we were so intent on looking at the foot shape that I didn’t realize until we got it home that I have no clue if this was ever an actual dinosaur, or if this was just another Dollar Tree toy fail. Thoughts? Anyone know what this is? Duck Billed Platysaurus?
I had two blank canvases and some assorted acrylic paints. Using a piece of cardboard from our recycle bin as a palette, we were ready to go!
We did the tractor first with bright pink paint. The tires were a little too small to leave a distinctive tread – the paint seemed to just go onto them so thick that it was hard to see. But in some places if you look close enough, you can see it, and the two tracks right next to each other made it a distinctive print.
Next up was the platy-sarus, which left the two little blue foot prints on the page there. My daughter was getting pretty dramatic with the dinosaur stomps, hence how high in the air he is. He was really stompy.
The pony hooves left four distinct purple prints. I feel like this toy was chosen just because my daughter really wanted a pink pony to add to her pony collection, but that’s okay, too.
We used light green for the slinky, and sadly, this was the most disappointing of the toys. It didn’t bounce up and down and all over like I thought it would. Instead, the viscosity of the paint held it to the canvas once it hit the canvas, so it really had to be pulled up and then forced back down to be hard enough to stick. It did not act as bouncy as we thought it would. In hindsight, using an ink maybe, instead of a paint with a level of thickness, might have made the bouncy prints we thought it would have. But we were still happy with the “forced” placement of the green rings.
Last up was the sand roller, and since this toy was remarkably wider than the other toys, we were going to need more paint spaced out on the palette. So we used all of the colors already on the palette for a sort of muddled rainbow effect (without mixing them into an icky shade of brown). If you asked my daughter, this was her favorite tool, and the one she was looking forward to the most. It worked like a paint roller does, only it left wavy lines rather than just a solid block of color.
After that, we went back with the other tools to fill in areas that looked empty, or to add more prints from those that we thought were under-represented. Since the colors were mixed up on the palette, we didn’t stick to the colors from before and ended up using the random colors on the prints.
Our finished prints! I really like how these turn out! I am hoping to find some cheap pop-in frames to put these in and hang them on the wall in the toy/play area in our family room. You can definitely see the pony hooves and the roller marks. The dino prints are a bit more hidden, but there. What I like most about these is how I remember so vividly making them whenever I look at them. I can remember shopping for the toys and trying each one individually to see how it looked. And I can remember my daughter’s sense of wonder when we saw what they did. Maybe I’m just sentimental, though.
Clean up from this project was quicker and easier than setup. The cardboard went back into the recycle bin, and the tractor and slinky toys went into the garbage. The pony hooves and dino feet got washed off for future play, as did the sand roller for play at the sand pit next summer. If I hadn’t decided to wash them and just toss them, I would have only been out $3. Since I did this outside on our front porch, I wasn’t worried about paint splatters on anything.
Other applications I could see this for would be for remembering a special toy or item that doesn’t hold a function, but still holds a special place. If you have a certain color theme in a nursery, this would be a neat way to incorporate those colors in a fun, homemade print. A lot of baby items have distinctive shapes, too – like little baby shoes, pacifiers, teething rings… Although I wouldn’t recommend holding onto any of those once they’ve been used for painting. My daughter is old enough (most of the time) to know not to chew on toys, so I worry less about her ingesting the paint. And she’s nearly 5, so I’m sure her immune system is pretty strong by now (right?).
It can be a challenge to do projects like this with kids – they are messy, they have short attention spans, and sometimes they are just so unskilled (amateurs). Just kidding… But seriously – if you’re a perfectionist, or a naturally control-driven person, it can be hard to let go. Give this project a try, though. If your child understands WHAT each item can do, they can mimic it pretty well. Clean up is minimal, and it’s easy and quick, and if your child is like mine and drawn more to experiments than art, it can be a way of experimenting how different toys look that will still capture their curiosity. Putting art into children’s lives is so beneficial that it should never be seen as a waste of time, but an investment into their future success and creativity. I only wish there was more of an emphasis on that in schools! But I’m not a teacher, nor do I wish to be 😉
Earlier, I told you about how I had planned a 3 part project using all of the parts of my daughter’s long since outgrown crib (you can read about that here). I’m ready to share with you part two of this use it all adventure – my new clothes drying rack!
This part of the project involved using one of the long panels of the crib that held the little bug inside with vertical slats.
It also involves the use of power tools – namely, a circular saw and a drill. I’m pretty proud of myself, I’m not going to lie. If you’re ever nervous about using power tools, spend a day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity on a site build, and you’ll quickly learn more than you ever thought you’d learn. Continue reading →
Anyone else out there a parent? A few of you? I swear, there’s never been a time in my life where I’ve spent more money on things I’ve used so little. The baby swing, the cloth diapers, the adorable clothes, the bottles… I guess I could have had more than one baby to make these items have a little more life, but that seems like a lot of investment just to get more use out of a bottle! 😉 I’m a one and done mom. More power to you if you have a large brood, but my family feels whole as three.
One of the biggest investments my husband and I made was the crib. Paired with the matching dresser/changing table (which is now a “buffet” that is storing towels & washcloths in my hallway), the total came up to right around $300 – and that’s cheap compared to the fancy furniture some parents buy! What can I say? I’m frugal.
Thankfully, most of our baby items found new homes after they grew out of usefulness for our family. We loaned out the crib once my daughter was in a big girl bed to a friend that had need for two cribs at a time, but I’ve found that there is little need out there for used baby cribs. It seems that among families that don’t mind buying new, the crib is something that is rarely bought used. There are those that buy everything used, which is a great way to be – but when it came down to it, I felt a little bit attached to the thing once it found it’s way back to me. Sure, there were other things I kept, too – some baby blankets, some of the cutest little teeny tiny baby outfits, a couple special toys… But those are easily packed away into my special things chest.
The decision was made – keep the crib, but upcycle it into items that are more purposeful. The internet is FULL of furniture upcycle ideas, and cribs are definitely up there in terms of reusability. I’ve divided the parts of my crib into three projects of varying difficulty. I’m using the whole buffalo, as it were. (Is using that phrase cultural appropriation? Or offensive? I hope not. It isn’t meant that way..). No parts left behind (except maybe hardware, and a couple little bits and pieces that I cut off here and there)!
The first project is by far the easiest and takes about 5 minutes and a small investment of hardware. I was actually inspired (who am I kidding, I totally stole the idea) by a friend of mine who did something similar (not even similar – absolutely the same thing) in her living room.
By taking the metal grid that holds the mattress and hanging it on the wall, you now have a lovely, large picture or memo hanging grid.
I use clothespins to hold the items on. Clothespins are also great to customize with some acrylic paint, markers, glitter, spray paint, washi tape… Another fun thing about this is that it’s magnetic – so you can use magnets where they will fit.
To attach it to the wall, I used my husband some large sized screw in hooks and just hung the grid right from them. That’s it – easy peasy.
I did say this was the easiest of the projects. One piece of the crib used, a pile more to go! What do you think? Is this too “out-there” of an idea for you, or are you going to kick your toddler out of their crib early so you can get a head start? Let me know what you think!