Thursday, November 29, 2007

Homespun Tree Skirt

So, does anyone remember the tree skirt that wasn't from last year? Did you think I forgot about it? I did not! I've been working on it throughout the year and finally finished it.

I can't say I would recommend this project to anyone - it took a looooong time and I'm not sure I'm thrilled with the results. All in all, I will not be making one of these again!

Also, I greatly dislike taking photos with a flash - so forgive the flash - without it, you could hardly see the skirt and it never gets any direct light. Sigh.

The way I finally made this tree skirt work was to braid lengths and lengths of the fabric together and then stitch together the rows of fabric. Then, I made one or two big gathers here and there on the back and stitched on the sewing machine to form more of the shape I was looking for. I stitched ties on to the back edges so it can be tied shut holding it in place.

The next thing that happened was that I have TONS of this fabric left already cut into strips. So, I thought I'd make some garland for our tree! One of you spotted this the other day when I showed a picture of our tree. It is simply braided fabric strung around the tree.

Now for the fun part - I have so much of this fabric left STILL that I made a 20 foot garland to give away here!!! All you need to do is leave a comment - please, please, please do not leave anonymous comments without your name or e-mail address! If you don't want to post your e-mail address, please e-mail me at thehomespunheart (at) hotmail (dot) com. Entries will be taken until Saturday night and I will announce the winner next Monday!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Homespun Wrapping Ideas

I haven't quite finished my gift wrapping yet - but I thought I'd share the ones that are done. I wanted to do something different this year, but keep with my signature brown paper wrapping. I have acquired a large amount of vintage craft supplies this year from a variety of sources. The biggest of which was David's aunt who was cleaning out her attic!

I also used fabric scraps, buttons, tissue paper scraps, old ribbon and trims, an old book, felt and thread.

I made the to/from tags out of scraps of cardboard, some ink and more of the trims.

Since this was what I had and it is all cute to begin with - I sat down with all the supplies and started creating - here is what happened:



So, how do the rest of you wrap your gifts? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Family Night: O Christmas Tree

Saturday night, we headed out to get our Christmas Tree! We sang O Christmas Tree on the way and had fun picking out just the right one! Emily and Rachel had more fun looking at the display for a water fountain than the trees, so there weren't many photo opportunities!

When we got home, we had our traditional Christmas Tree dinner! French toast cut in half on the diagonal and sprinkled with green sugar. Add a sausage link for the trunk and serve.

We put the lights and garland on that night and the next day did the ornaments. Here is the finished product:

Christmas Fun!

I've been inspired by my friend, Amy, and her idea of a Christmas Jar. She comes up with ideas of things to do each day of December with her little ones and they draw one out each day.

I need to be able to plan a little bit more - so I'm not doing a jar. But, I have come up with a list of things we can do each day between December 1 and 24!

Here's my list:

* Drive around to see Christmas Lights.
* Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.
* Read Christmas stories by a fire.
* Advent Wreath: we'll be doing this each Sunday, so I'm counting this for four days worth.
* Make Cookies.
* Attend a live nativity.
* Watch Charlie Brown Christmas.
* Go to the nearest mall and ride the Christmas train ($1/ride).
* Attend the musical at church.
* Decorate Tree (we did this over the weekend)
* Play the ornament game. (A game my sister and I made up when we were little!)
* Star gaze; read the Christmas Story (Luke) and drink hot cocoa.
* Watch the Grinch.
* Rent Polar Express: watch together and have hot chocolate!
* Pop popcorn and play a game together. (Amy's idea!)
* Color or paint a Christmas coloring page.
* Have a Nutcracker Night - crack pecans for gifts, listen to Nutcracker, eat sugared pecans.
* Watch Frosty the Snowman.
* Make orange snowmen.
* Make a Glory Chain.
* Host an Advent Walk - Mitford style!
* Volunteer as a family.
* Festival of Lights drive through.
* Christmas Eve traditions.
* Christmas holiday parade or boat parade.

Some of these will not make sense until I post further details on what I have in mind - so just keep watching! I'll look forward to sharing pictures and more info on these activities! Almost all of these are free or can be done at home!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Deals of the Week

I just wanted to let you all know that I will no longer be posting a listing of deals for the week. There are a couple of reasons - of which I will spare you the details. However, you can check out a very thorough list at Crystal's blog - Money Saving Mom. Happy Saving!

Our Non-Traditional Thanksgiving!

Some of you may remember that last year for Christmas, David gave me a certificate for a weekend away all together to go and see some snow! Let me explain - I LOVE snow! It is so cozy to be inside when it snows - I love how it looks, smells, makes my cheeks rosy - etc... The next thing you should know is that it does not snow where we live. Ok, maybe once every ten years - I haven't seen any yet in four years. This was such a thoughtful gift and I have been looking forward to it!

We tried every three day weekend last winter and no where was getting any snow within driving distance. When we didn't really have plans for Thanksgiving, we decided to give it a try. We went to North Carolina and had a great time together as a family! We saw GORGEOUS trees (another thing we don't get!), got to wear our COATS! And, yes - it did snow on our last day!!!! It wasn't enough snow to even show in a picture - but, we saw it!

The girls and I enjoy the beautiful leaves!

Stunning!

Yeah! It's getting colder!

We came home the long way around by driving part of the Blue Ridge Parkway - this was definitely a highlight for David and I!

It was so nice to see rocks! Mountains! And, curvy roads!

Here is some snow off in the distance!

We got off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Blowing Rock (Mitford fans remember this is where the books were written) and it was snowing when we arrived. The town square park was decorated for Christmas and it was so charming!

The girls had fun playing at the park!

Especially Emily! When we asked her what her favorite thing was about the trip - she said with a smile, "Snow!" (That's my girl!)

We now have a host of new memories of time spent together to remember our Thanksgiving by! Incidentally, we did get a traditional turkey meal with some friends at a rented house up in the mountains where they were staying!

Hope all of you had a nice Thanksgiving too!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

CVS: Deals

Be sure to check out Crystal's post over at Money Saving Mom for the scoop on CVS deals coming up Thursday - Saturday. Lots of FREEBIES!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I won't be posting the rest of the week - hope you all have a very Happy Thanksgiving! I'll be excited to be back next week sharing Christmas ideas!

Psalm 100

Won't you join me in praying Psalm 100 today?

Dear God,

During this week of Thanksgiving - please keep us mindful of the many blessings you provide for us each and every day! Carry this attitude of thankfulness on in our hearts throughout the coming days, weeks and months.

Enable us to shout with joy to YOU! And, to share this with all we come into contact with. Let them know that we are different because of the joy You have placed in our hearts. Help us to be willing and quick to share Your glory and praise with all we meet.

Create is me a heart of worship. Lord, a heart that is GLAD to worship You and a heart that cultivates an attitude of worship. Put a song in my heart and let me verbally sing it to You as often as it is there!

Lord, I know that YOU are God! You are the One who made me and I am YOURS! Thank You for this amazing truth - remind me of it when I feel like I've failed. Enable me to be a strong witness as one of Your people and as a sheep of Your flock. Thank You for being my Shepherd!

Lord, I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise! I will give thanks to You and will praise Your Name!

You are good! And, I thank You that Your love endures forever! Thank You that Your faithfulness continues to generations. You will never be written out of history permanently - though many may try to erase You - You will endure for ALL generations! I praise You for that, Lord!

Lord, now as we gather with family and friends - we acknowledge the bounty from Your hand. Make us mindful and grateful of where our blessings come from.

With thanksgiving and praise!
Amen.

Inviting Touches: Nursing Room

I was contacted recently by a member of the leadership of our children's ministry at church. She mentioned that she wanted to work on the nursing room - a room set aside for nursing moms during services and women's Bible study. She wondered if I had any ideas for making it more inviting and welcoming to the moms.

I was immediately excited about this! I know that God brought these ideas to mind and some of them were born out of my time spent in the nursing room!

There were a couple of big "problems":

When you enter the room, you are greeted by the sight of the back side of two stackable crib sets - not inviting at all. There was no way to rearrange the room because they did provide privacy.

I bought four 16x20 stretched canvases and painted them each a different color. Then, I cut a circle shape out of a sponge and did polka dots on each canvas in a contrasting color. I hung these on the back of the cribs:

When you enter the room it is DARK! The big overhead light is too much for nursing moms to relax, and there is a lamp, but you have to walk around the cribs to get to it. So, picture this - crying baby in a heavy carrier, diaper bag, navigating around multiple rocking chairs to get to the light. Now, retrace your steps to turn the big light off. Now, go sit down and take care of screaming baby! This always used to bug me - so we came up with the idea of putting two night lights in there to help moms see on their way to the lamp - not completely ideal, but certainly better!

Another problem - some of the rocking chairs have cushioned arms, but some do not - very uncomfortable for nursing! So, I got these two cute green bins and 1/2 yard each of five colors of gingham ($1.00/yard at Wal-Mart) and made pillows. The pillows were treated with Scotch Guard before placing in the room!

Before

I also thought of how tired moms are who are often in there. Tired and maybe discouraged to be called out of the service AGAIN for a crying baby. I wanted to create a sense of refreshing and encouragement in the room as well. So, on a bare wall, I painted a chalk board. Around it, I stenciled the words, "Encourage One Another" and provided a small pencil cup with chalk in it. A note welcoming the moms encourages them to use this space to share a Scripture that has been meaningful to them recently or to share something God has been teaching them.

I got a small basket for less than $3 - painted it and lined it with some of the gingham. In here are stashed a Tide-To-Go pen, a Spray and Wash stain stick and some Lysol wipes to help with some of the spills that may occur in there. And, to help encourage keeping the room neat and clean for the next group of moms.

To finish things off - I hung a framed poem that was just propped behind the sink, mounted the flower arrangement on the wall and made a space for brochures about the church.

All done - and just in time to get to use it myself in a couple of months! :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Giving Thanks: T-Z

I'm struggling to write this post - some of these are hard letters! I can't wait to hear your ideas and I'm sure I'll think of more throughout the day!

T: time
talent
treasure
trust
Thanksgiving!

U: utilities!
umbrellas
understanding

V: vacuum
voices
vanilla
values
violets
view
vision

W: weather
words
wisdom
Word of God

X: x-rays (if I ever need one - I will be thankful for them!)

Y: I need help on this one! :)

Z: zoo (Emily loves them!)
zippers

Deals

CVS:
* Tylenol Extra Strength 10 ct: $2.49 sale price - $2.49 Extra Bucks - earn an extra $1.00 using a mfr. coupon good on Extra Strength Tylenol. Two offers per CVS card.

Walgreens:
* Brawny paper towels: 0.69 sale price - 0.50 mfr. coupon = 0.19
* Zicam Multi Sympton: $5.99 sale price - $4 Easy Saver Rebate - $1.00 mfr. coupon = 0.99
* Swanson's Chicken Broth: 4/$2 - mfr. coupon 0.25/4 cans = 1.75 for 4 cans
* Duracell Battery Charger or 4-pack batteries: $10.99 sale price - $5.00 Easy Saver Rebate - $3.00 mfr. coupon in Sunday's paper = $2.99 (this would make a great stocking stuffer!)
* Scotch tape: $1.99 sale price - $1.00 Easy Saver Rebate = 0.99 for three rolls (this is a great deal, but I got so much free last year at this time, I still have tons so didn't buy any!)
* Purell Hand Sanitizer: $2.49 - $2.00 Easy Saver coupon - $1.50 mfr. coupon = make $1.00!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Cozy Swap: Link Today!

Just a reminder, Cozy Swappers, to post your link today over at Carrie's blog! Thanks for making this a fun swap!

Family Night: Ivy's Ice Cream Shoppe

We are up to the letter "I" with Emily and I wanted to do something ice cream related. I thought about going out - but thought of how much it would cost just for the four of us to do that. So, I decided we would do it at home for our family night!

I decorated the chalk board to look like an ice cream shop!
For dinner, we had chicken fingers and oven fries in these cute paper trays I found recently.

I made a plate of brownies...

... and a muffin tin of toppings ~

for Emily to create her own ice cream sundae:

It was a hit! I also cut a bunch of ivy from our yard and had that on the table!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mitford Moments: Beautiful Words

"The Company Stew, which had simmered with the peel of an orange and a red onion stuck with cloves, was a rousing success. In fact, he was so delighted with the whole affair that he relented and let Barnabas into the study after dinner.

Marge helped serve coffee and triple-layer cake from the old high-boy, as the scent of roses drifted through the open window." ~ page 52, At Home in Mitford
I don't know about you - but the descriptive words are so beautiful and draw me in. They make me want to be part of what is described. Is there a way that I can say the same thing only using more beautiful words - I think so, and I want to make it a habit. Not only because I would enjoy it and appreciate it - but I bet those around me would too!

Let's think about it - we are all so charmed with Sense & Sensibility and Anne of Green Gables ~ and the fashion in which they speak to one another. We don't have to say "huh?" and "yeah" to each other all the time - we just choose to. Anyone care to join me in cultivating a habit of speaking more beautifully to one another?

Giving Thanks: M-S

I'm realizing I better do more than two letters a day to finish by Thanksgiving! So, here is my next "batch" ~

M: ministry
Moms
memories
music
Messiah
Mitford
M&M's, milk, macaroni and cheese (all favorites of mine!)
mountains
medicine (knowledge of)

N: notes
nice (words, people, etc...)
nephew (also an "N" name!)
new life
neighbors
nursery workers!

O: opportunity
Operation Christmas Child
Oxxxxx Family (my maiden name)
others

P: peace
provisions
paper
pillows

Q: quilts (mmmm, I love this one!)
quiet

R: Rachel!
rest
refreshment

S: sisters
senses
sleep
Scripture
snow
songs
simple pleasures

I'd love to continue hearing your ideas!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Target Deals

I just found this list of great Target deals this week - definitely worth checking out!

Ahhhhhh!

One night recently after putting the little ladies to bed - I had a splitting headache - this was just the right cure! A great book and a mug of my favorite chai! So wonderful!

What do you do at the end of a long day to relax and rest?

Giving Thanks: Laughter

video

Doesn't this just explain why I love laughter?! This was a few months ago - but we still love the sound of these two giggling!

Other "L" ideas?

Giving Thanks: K

Kindred Spirits
Kids
Kindness
Kisses
Kitchens
King of Kings


What am I forgetting?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dog Biscuits

We have a chocolate lab and she has a love for dog biscuits! She ran out one day last week and I've been wanting to try my hand at making them for a long time, so this was the push I needed.

I used this recipe for Basic Dog Treats. I didn't have any chicken broth on hand, so made mine with bouillon, however I doubled the usual proportions to make it extra rich (ex: instead of 1 tsp. per 1 c. water, I put 1 tsp. per 1/2 c. water). She LOVES these - she stands at the door and begs for one.

They were very simple to make - I used my Kitchen Aid mixer to whip up the dough and didn't even need a rolling pin, I just flattened it out with my hands. I had some bone shaped cookie cutters - but they are a casualty of letting Emily play with the cookie cutters so much! So, I just used a circle and diamond.

As far as cost, I think it would work out to be about the same as buying them on sale. But, it was a great feeling to know I could do it and she loved them!

Giving Thanks: Jesus

I'm also so grateful for Jesus - for His birth, His death, His resurrection, His life! All of who He is makes my life what it is and gives me hope for eternity!

What are your "J" things?

Giving Thanks: Ideas

I thrive on ideas and projects! I am so grateful that God gives ideas and inspiration when we need it ~ to create experiences or gifts that are a blessing to others.

What "I" things are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Giving Thanks: Home

I am thankful for everything that home stands for. I am thankful for the actual physical dwelling we have to live in. I am thankful for the fun and happy memories that take place inside of it. For the cozy feelings - for the haven it is for me and for others. Oh, how I am thankful for a wonderful place called home.

What "H" things are you thankful for?

Giving Thanks: God

How could I not be thankful for who God is? He has provided salvation, life and has affected every dimension of my life in a positive way. How can I even express what God means to me? Father God, I am thankful for You!

I am enjoying hearing all of your thankful things too - how about "G"?

Deals of the Week

This was a great week for deals! And, I decided to keep track of regular prices so I could compare what I spent versus the regular retail price. Regular prices will be listed in parentheses after each item.

CVS:
* Hershey's Chocolate: 2/$5 ($2.99 each) - $3.00 Extra Bucks Reward = $1.00 per bag
* Tums Smoothies: $5.49 ($5.49) - $2.00 Extra Bucks Reward - $5.49 mail-in-rebate in yesterday's paper = make $2.00 on this deal!
* ameal: $29.99 - $29.99 Extra Bucks = Free
* Dimetapp: $4.99 each ($6.49/$5.99) - $5.00 Extra Bucks with purchase of two - two $1.00 coupons on boxes at store - two $1.50 coupons for signing in here = Free
* Venus Razor: $8.99 ($9.99) - $4.00 Extra Bucks - $2.00 mfr. coupon = $2.99
* Sign in with your e-mail address at cvs.com and get a $4 off $20 purchase coupon. Or, use this $2 off $10 to make these deals better.

Here is what I did:
Purchase:
- 2 bags Hershey's Kisses
- Tums
- Venus Razor
- 2 bottles children's Dimetapp

Use $4 off $20 coupon and other coupons noted.

Total Regular Prices: $33.94. I used $7.50 in Extra Bucks and spent $11.70 including tax, but received $14 in Extra Bucks and $5.49 in mail-in-rebate, plus a $3 reimbursement from an item for a friend: $10.78 EARNED

Rite Aid:
* GE Reveal Light Bulbs: 2/$6 ($4.79 each) - $3.00 Single Check Rebate - two $1 mfr. coupons in yesterday's paper = 0.50 each box
* Nature Made Rx Essentials: $9.98 - $9.98 Single Check Rebate = Free
* Sunsilk Shampoo and Conditioner: 2/$7.98 - buy four and spend $15 and get $5 back through Single Check Rebate - combine this with two buy one get one free coupons from yesterday's paper and look for bottles with free samples attached! = $2.98 for four big bottles and four sample bottles
* Electrasol Dishwasher Detergent: $2.99 ($4.49) - $2.00 Single Check Rebate = 0.99

Regular Price: $30.03. Total spent after coupons and rebates: $4.97 + $1.75 tax = $6.72

Walgreens:
* Chicken Broth: 0.39 ($1.19 or 2/$2)
* Nabisco Crackers: 5/$10 ($3.79 or 2/$7) - $3.00 mail-in-rebate - two $1 mfr. coupons in yesterday's paper = 5/$5
* Clorox Cleaners: 2/$5 ($3.99) - two $1.00 mfr. coupons plus buy two and get a free bleach with another mfr. coupon = all three Clorox products for $3.00
* French's Onions: 0.99 ($1.99) - 0.50 coupons in yesterday's paper = 0.49 each
* Unilever products: I bought:
- 3 All laundry soap: $3.99 ($6.49) - one $1 and one 0.50 mfr. coupon - spend $15 get $5 Register Rewards
- 2 Suave hair styling products: $2.00 ($2.49) - one 0.50 mfr. coupon - combine with All soap for $15 total = $8.97 for three bottles laundry detergent and two Suave products.
* Fasprin: $3.49 - $3.49 Easy Saver Rebate = Free
* Always liners: 3/$8 ($3.79) - $2.00 Checkout Coupon = 0.67
* Colgate Toothpaste: 0.99 - $1 off two coupon = 0.50 each

Regular Price: 65.87. Total Spent after rebates and coupons: $23.96 including tax.

Target:
* Stovetop Stuffing: 0.79 sale price - coupon in yesterday's paper for $1.00 off of four boxes = 0.54/box

Updated: Use this link to get a Target coupon for 0.50 each box - combine with the above mentioned coupon and get these for 0.04/box! Thanks, Crystal for the heads up!

Combined Totals:
Regular Prices: $129.84 before tax
Total I spent: $15.14 before tax ($19.90 after tax)