Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Gifts on a Budget: Under $10 in the Kitchen

One of my go-to gifts now is baked goods. I like to gather a basket of yummy treats for friends, family, teachers, neighbors... everyone enjoys a good chocolate chip cookie and Oreo truffle.

If you want to dress up your treat basket, you can definitely do it cute and on a budget. There are a ton of gifts on Etsy for under $10 that you can add that will give your basket that personalized, homey touch.

Aprons are always a great choice. Etsy has a plethora of handmade and vintage aprons for under $10. (I already gave my mother-in-law one at Thanksgiving wrapped around a bottle of champagne- an easy, but thoughtful gift.)

I like the fun and funky aprons myself... but you can find many traditional and vintage to choose from as well.

Another fun gift is recipe cards. I like to fill one out with the recipe I am giving my gift recipient... you can then wrap the ribbon around the remainder of the recipe cards and add those to the basket.

Again, the cards on Etsy range from retro to modern. Choose a style to fit the gift receiver.

A gift I would love are these handmade dish clothes. I have found that crocheted dish cloth are the best at scrubbing dishes... and they look super cute on your sink. This shop has the best range of colors in her yarns:

3 for $10 is a steal when these clothes will last much longer than cheap-o, thin Wallyworld dish cloths.

If your gift recipient is a bit funky, a bit fun, go outside the box when you add a gift to their basket. Add a light switch plate:

...or a cool print:

(There are a gazillion fun kitchen prints for any style and under $10.) Just roll then up, tie with a pretty ribbon and add to your basket.

Everyone needs pot holders... I have to replace mine at least once a year after I burn my current pair! I love the pinch pot holders, they are smaller than the bulky oven mitts and this shop has such gorgeous prints...

$6 for a gorgeous pot holder that I wouldn't mind sitting on my counter! I would buy a few to add to a few of my treat baskets at this price.

There you have it... inexpensive, thoughtful and fun additions for your kitchen gift-giving baskets.

While you are at it, check out my $10 children's gifts.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Veterans' Day and beyond.

{my father}

I did not post on Veterans Day. I always feel guilty thanking a Veteran or making a big deal on Veterans Day. It seems so contrived. I do not say thank you enough for the rest of the year and I should not just spout out because the calendar tells me to.

But I did want to share something that Ariana wrote. She summed it up so beautifully... out of the mouths of babes.

"Veterans Day means a lot to me. It means a lot to me because I am related to some Veterans. For example, my grandfather was a Veteran. He passed away now, but I will still always remember him. Another Veteran I am relayed to is my uncle. His name is Anthony, but I call him Ant. Even though he never went into battle, he is still an honored Veteran. I am related to a lot more, but those are just the two I know best. I hope that every Veteran gets respected like my Uncle and Grandfather do. Also, I hope that Veterans Day always remains a holiday so that the Veterans can continue being remembered forever. In all, Veterans Day means we should respect the people who fought for us."

I also want to beg everyone to watch a new documentary: Where Soldiers Come From. It is a great movie that follows the four-year journey of childhood friends who join the National Guard after graduating from high school. As it chronicles the young men's transformation from restless teenagers to soldiers looking for roadside bombs to 23-year-old combat veterans trying to start their lives again. It was one of the most enlightening movies I have seen in awhile. It just made my heart ache even more for the young men and women who travel that path in their life. It is available online and I really think every American should watch it. Really.

{my memorial tattoo depicting Air Force wings and a propeller}

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Gifts on a Budget: Under $10 for Kids

For today's post on Christmas on a budget, I want to concentrate on children's gifts. More importantly vintage or handmade, which can be done inexpensively and will also save alotta Mother Earth's resources.

I am a HUGE fan of vintage gifts for the kids. They toys of yesteryear were made better, last longer and do not need 8000 batteries to work.

When I saw a friend had given her daughter her old collection of Care Bear figurines, it inspired me. The little girl brings the collection to dance class and the 3 year olds clamor to play with them while the older girls are dancing.

You can get large lots of figurines on Etsy vintage or Ebay for next to nothing. Everything from Star Wars figures to Cabbage Patch.

Have fun with an advanced search on Etsy for vintage toys from $0-$10. You will be thrilled with the things you can find. (Of course these toys also do not fall under today's more stringent safety guideline, so please be aware of that when you are shopping vintage.)

Another fun toy that travels well are finger puppets. You can buy these or very easily make them from felt of old gloves for cheap cheap.

These are great to have in a car to keep kids amused for even a few minutes. Personally, I splurged on the 2 bucks a piece for this lady's creations because she is way craftier with felt than I will ever be. (and seriously, after reading her tutorial on how she makes them, I am entirely unsure how she can charge only $2 per puppet.)

And my 3 year old is going to love the adorable assortment of animals I chose. I will whip together  a quick bag for her to carry them in and, voila, an adorable $10 gift!

You will find a large selection of amazing wood artisans on Etsy. I am a big proponent of wooden toys.  They are durable, quiet, and tend to foster a child imagination. And there are a many fantastic, inexpensive hand made choices.

Play food is always a great option. Either wood or felt are way nicer than their plastic counterparts. You can always make felt food for pennies... but take it from someone who spent 5 hours making 1 strawberry, 2 eggs and an orange slice.... but you can get a whole plate of food on the cheap!

If your house is anything like mine... you have 30 naked Barbies hanging around. This year, I will be outfitting them handmade. I have found that Barbie clothes on Etsy only run $3-$7 and you can get the most gorgeous outfits (and not all trampy belly shirts like you tend to get from big retailers)

I spent $20 on a plethora of Barbie clothes for Annika. She loves her Barbies and I like gifts that add to collections rather than add new clutter that will not be used.

Last, is actually a toy that I have featured before on a post about traveling with kids. But they are such great toys, they deserve another mention. It is the I Spy bags. They have been popular from the 3 to 11 year olds and it is something they can actually all play together.

These are also created by little girls... so they have the whole heart strings thing going for them... but it is absolutely still a great $8 investment.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A giveaway courtesy of the wonderful Party Palace.

It has been over month since Annika's birthday party and she is already planning next years princess party! It was really such a fun time for her (AND all of her friends) and for me to see how much she was enjoying herself.

Anyhow, enough gushing. What I wanted to share was a quick giveaway from Greta at Party Palace. She was so sweet to leave me with a few treats that any little princess would love. I have a beautiful set of costume wings, a pretty in pink tutu, a pink bow hair clip...

and I am also adding the felt flowered hair band that I gave for favors at our party.

All you have to do is 'like' her Facebook page and then come back here to tell me that you did. This contest is open to New England readers. I really want to get the word out there about Greta and her business. I love that she is a fellow mompreneur, she sustains this fantastic business while working full time, raising her children, volunteering as a Girl Scout leader, etc, etc.... Women like her inspire me and I hope to get her many more fans to help support and grow her business.

I will choose a random winner via Random.org on November 21st and ship you this cute package just in time for Christmas!

*Side note, you can see a couple of the Party Palace princesses at a great fundraiser for Girls on the Run NH this Saturday, November 19th. There will be a Princess Tea Party at the Red River Theater in Concord. A fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your little one.*

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Christmas Gifts on a Budget: Under $10!

I am sure many, many people are in the same boat as we are… just over a month until Christmas and we just had to buy a new dish washer, a new washing machine and 2 new cars. Needless to say, there will not be a lot of cash to spread around for gifts. So I am going to have to get creative and thrifty. In light of that, I am going to start a featured post on here for gifts that I find during my Christmas shopping that are $10 or less and handmade… or at the very least, locally made.

The first gift I will be featuring will be aimed at children and can be purchased from… me! I have seen these wooden peg dolls all over the internet and knew my girls would love to make them and play with them.

It is a fairly simple craft project requiring only a few supplies and some great creativity.

Supplies needed: 
wooden pegs 
wooden candle cups
craft paint in various colors (make sure non-toxic)* 
very small paint brushes 
fine tip permanent markers 
craft varnish (make sure non-toxic) 

This is a gift you can either give in the raw version, so that the recipient can create their own dolls, or you can create a nice family with your own hands and give the finished dolls as the gift. I gave my girls the wooden parts as the gift and then we created the babies together, which was most of the fun of the gift.

It is simple really, you just want to paint some clothes on the peg doll. We also chose to paint the candle cups (which the dolls will sit in) in a matching color (and don’t try to put the wrong baby in the wrong cup or Acadia will have a fit!). Be creative with your clothing- the more colorful, the better. 

Next, paint on a cute hairstyle and any hair accessories you like. At this point I varnished the entire doll before I drew the face on with Sharpies. I found that if I drew with the Sharpies on the raw wood, it tended to bleed. It worked much better if I drew the face over the dried varnish. I used a thin coat of varnish so that I only had to wait 15 minutes for it to dry.

Voila, these babies are ready to be played with. They are great because they are small and we can fit 5 sets easily into a small bag to carry to dance class or to the doctors office… wherever the girls may need to be entertained for a few minutes.

There you are. A great gift for children aged 2-8 and for only $7.50 for five sets!

Do you have any ideas for me for great gifts under $10 (or less!)??? I need all the help I can get.

(* I discovered a new line of craft paint and varnish at Joanns last night. It os from Delta and it is all SOY! Great for the environment and at a great price.)