Three Clever Christmas Ideas

One of the most difficult parts of blogging, for me, is striking a balance between sharing ideas I think are ingenious and not sounding like a pompous know-it-all.  So I hope you know I don’t think I’m all that and a bag of chips, but I do have lightbulb moments on occasion!

That said, today I think I have three really clever things we do around here that make Christmas all the more fun, while keeping it easy and frugal.

Idea #1:  Annual Memories Ornament

The hubs and I exchange ornaments each year, usually from wherever we go on vacation, but I like to make this one, instead.  I simply find an inexpensive ornament with a large writing surface, and use a silver Sharpie (one of my favorite things EVER) to write a memory from each month of the year. I found this flattened circle ornament at Target for $3.

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Idea #2: Color-coded Gift Wrap and Initials

For the hooligans, I buy a roll of gift wrap for each of them, in the same color each year. Princess Thundercloud gets pink, of course, and the boys get blue and green. I can’t stand gift bags under the tree, by the way, and put everything in a box to wrap. That’s just my opinion, gift bag makers…don’t hate me. If something is too large for a box (like a bicycle or doll high chair), it comes from Santa and doesn’t get wrapped.

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Anyway, I wrap each kid’s gifts in his color, and put his initial, just to have a place to write the “From” info (I do all the shopping from relatives for them, usually).  This year, I’m excited that I could cut out a whole sheet of big initials on my Silhouette instead of stamping them or cutting them out by hand.

This makes it super simple to hand out gifts on Christmas morning, and the wrapping instead of gift bags means it takes longer to open things.  Then the hooligans can anticipate as they unwrap, and we avoid a lot of chaos.

Idea #3: 25 Gift-Wrapped Books for 25 Days

We have a whole plastic tote full of Christmas books that we only read during December (the kids get to keep a few out all year). I wrap them individually and put a number on them, then we unwrap one each night in December and read it. books-ChaosServedDaily

Before you roll your eyes at the amount of time and effort to wrap those books, let me tell you…it took less than an hour, while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie, and less than a roll of giftwrap (on sale at Target this week for $2.50).  I cut the numbers on my Silhouette, but you could easily buy a sheet of number stickers. The hooligans love getting to open things before the big day, and it’s as though they have all new books each year!

So there you have it…my three ideas on making your holiday simpler and more fun. And now I’m spending the morning hauling all the decorations up from the basement…the hooligans get out of school at noon today, and have been counting down all week to decorating.  I’m sure to be overwhelmed with assistance!

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Ornament Stamped Coasters

These coasters, another less-than-ten-minute craft, would make a fun hostess gift, don’t you think?

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To make them, I bought cork coasters in the plant department at Walmart.  They were less than a dollar each, and have a nice solid wood bottom.  That means they won’t soak through or snap into pieces as ones made of just cork tend to do.

The only other supplies I needed were Staz-On ink in three colors, a Sharpie for the strings, and some sticky notes.  You could use any permanent, pigment inks. The regular, water-based ones will run.

Step 1: Stamp the image you want in front.

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2. Stamp the same image on a sticky note and cut it out, right along the stamped image. Place it right on top of the stamped image on the coaster.  This is called “masking” in the stamping world. See how advanced you are!Coasters2

3. Stamp your other images, so that the sticky note prevents the first image from being stamped over.

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4. Tie a set together with bakers’ twine or ribbon and do a little happy dance…you just made a handcrafted gift in mere minutes!

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The Last Christmas Card- Indigo Chevrons

In my grand plan of blog posts, today is the last scheduled Christmas card post. Can you believe it?  And it’s not even December yet!  I wanted to give you time to order supplies if you fell in love with one of my cards, you see.

I’m not sure I’m really done with cards, though, so I may sneak in a few before the big day arrives.  Here’s today’s, though…it came almost directly from the Stampin’ Up!’s demonstrator magazine, another great resource I have as a demo. If you’re interested.

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All Stampin’ Up! supplies:  Delightful Dozen stamp set; Island Indigo and Whisper White Cardstock; Polka Dot Parade DSP; Champagne Glimmer Paper; Real Red and Gumball Green markers; 1/4” White Grosgrain and 3/8” Stitched Satin Gumball Green Ribbon; Chevron Embossing Folder; Rhinestones; 2-1/2” Circle, Scallop Edge, and Corner Rounder punches

Aren’t these colors fun together?  I love the combination of red with circles and the indigo chevrons.  I punched the sentiment out using the 2-1/2” punch, then trimmed the top and bottom. I also think the champagne glimmer paper adds such a festive sparkle.

Just as a plug for Stampin’ Up!, because I do love being a demonstrator, through Dec. 16, new demonstrators receive an entire color family of ink pads for FREE (that’s a $49.95 value).  If you’re interested, leave a comment below, or email me…I’d love to talk to you about how easy it is to be inspired and have fun!

And there you have it…the last card of the season.  Or is it?Signature

Co-Hosting the CHQ Blog Hop

I’m so excited to be co-hosting the CHQ Blog Hop today…I hope you’ll join in all the fun!

Today, we have a special giveaway! Megan from Chaos Served Daily is our special co-host!

Here’s a little about Megan!

“I love sharing my craft projects, cooking, photography, and, as the name implies, the happy chaos that colors our days. I’m an Army wife, SAHM to three little hooligans, and avid (thrifty) DIY-er. If it involves bakers twine, stamps and ink, fabric, or baked goods, count me in! That’s not an all-inclusive list, by the way.”

Megan has graciously donated this gorgeous Chalkboard Table Runner and set of markers for our giveaway this week!

Wouldn’t that make the perfect addition to your holiday table or buffet?

Enter using the Rafflecopter Widget below!

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Let’s get on to the partying, shall we? Remember, follow all four hosts plus the honorary co-host, and pretty please share our button via your blog, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. The more exposure the party gets, the more exposure you get. Plus, you get to meet even more amazing new friends, and that’s truly what it’s all about!  

**Note: This is a blog hop, not a link party. Link up your blog homepage using an image such as your blog button, and write your blog name in the “name” field. Links containing projects and individual pages will unfortunately be deleted. Thanks!

  Remember, if you are a new follower, please leave me a comment so I can thank you!

Countdown Calendar…and Stampin’ Up!

I know, I know, you (think you) need no stamps or supplies.  BUT Stampin’ Up!’s Online Extravaganza ends Wednesday, and look at the cute Countdown Calendar I whipped up using the 25 & Counting set…which is 50% off! The clear stamp set is Item 123794, and is currently only $16.48 until the extravaganza ends.

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I spent less than an hour making this.  Seriously. I used markers to color each stamp, stamped each on Whisper White cardstock, and punched them out using a 1” punch(which is on sale for 30% off).

To make the sour cream cartons, I cut Snow Festival DSP into 3”x4” rectangles and stapled one end (on the 4” side). It only took 2 sheets of the DSP, and, since it’s double-sided, I had 4 patterns. Then I put a treat inside (okay, it’s different Christmas candies) and stapled the other end at a 90-degree angle from the first, stapling the tag on, as well.

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The wire hanger came from Pick Your Plum a few weeks ago, but you could just as easily hang them from ribbon or bakers’ twine. The little swivel clips are from the jewelry making department at the craft store.  Those could be replaced with small clothespins, if you prefer.

I used this set quite a bit last Christmas, making tags and cards, but this is my favorite way to showcase it…because all the stamps get to join in the fun!

You can see all the specials at my website, http://meganodonnell.stampinup.net/.

Oh, and here’s a little heads up for Wednesday, Nov. 28, only…the Clear Block bundle, Clear Block storage caddy, and Stack and Store will be the doorbuster specials, at 20 percent off.

One of the best deals to be had is on My Digital Studio, for 50% off.  My Digital Studio is a digital design program, great for scrapbooking, card-making, or any other digital or hybrid projects your busy little crafting mind can concoct!

I’ve heard there were some glitches with shopping carts last week, but Stampin’ Up! says it’s all good now…so go forth and shop!

Jingle-Filled Joy

As I wander the aisles at the craft store, I’m always tempted to buy a glass block to decorate. I’ve long loved the look of glass blocks, in the design of homes, and their appeal as a base for a home décor object could no longer be denied. Then I saw a tube of big red jingle bells one endcap over, and the deal was done. Few things scream “Christmas” to me like jingle bells!

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I “may” have mentioned once or a hundred times how instant gratification crafts are generally my favorites.  If I can make it in ten minutes or less, and end up with a great quality product, I’m sold. This fit those criteria, and now I’m hooked. I need one for every holiday.

To make this, I took the endcap off, stuffed the blocks full of jingle bells, and put the cap back on.  I had the “joy” and stars from Stampin’ Up a couple of years ago and had never found the perfect project for them.  You could easily buy a vinyl word or make it if you have a die-cutting machine, though.

Joy-Block-ChaosServedDailyTo finish it, I cut a piece of burlap the correct width and pulled the edge strings off to fray it. I wrapped it around, then tied a piece of red polka dot ribbon over the burlap, and showed it off to my favorite GI Joe. He even remembered to say it was “Super cute!” which is my goal when I show him my latest and greatest creations.

Now that you’ve survived the Black Friday crowds, why not spend a few minutes making a great addition to your Christmas décor?  I’m planning to spend my day at home crafting and cooking, away from the madness.  The madness of the masses, anyway…there’s no escaping the madness of my hooligans!

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Count Your Blessings

I hope you’re enjoying a blessed Thanksgiving with friends and family.  I find myself humming “Count Your Blessings,” one of my very favorite hymns, throughout this season of gratitude.  I know, it should be year-round, but I’m doing my best!

I made this scrapbook page to remind myself how very blessed my life is, and that I should be counting my blessings every day. It’s a giant step on the path toward happiness!

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When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Wealth can never buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be disheartened, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Soul-Warming Russian Tea

I frequently find myself whisked back to my childhood as the holidays approach, with a whiff of cloves and oranges, or perhaps hearing a few notes of “Silver Bells,” my grandma’s favorite carol.  Russian Tea evokes memories of so many frosty winter gatherings, and so that’s what I’m sharing with you today.  I know, it’s not a trendy coffee drink (which as you know, I have absolutely nothing against!) or am invigorating herbal blend…but it warms you to your core and comforts body and soul.

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Russian Tea

2 cups sugar

2 cups orange-flavored breakfast drink (yes, that’s Tang)

2/3 cup presweetened lemonade mix

1/2 cup instant tea mix

1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

1 Tbsp ground cloves

Directions:  Stir it all together and package in cute containers!

Make 4-1/2 cups

Directions to give with the mix:

To serve, place 2 heaping tablespoons mix in a mug.  Add 1 cup boiling water and stir well.

Of course, I created some cute labels to go on jars or pillow boxes…and you can download them so easily!  They’re sized to punch out with a 2-1/2” circle punch and will print 12 to a sheet.

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Click here to download the printable labels

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Orange Cornmeal Sandies

Although I’ve made these cookies dozens of times over the years, they always remind me of the fall when I first made them, about fifteen years ago.  My in-laws had come to visit us in upstate New York, and we took a road trip over to Fort Ticonderoga.  The foliage was brilliant, and the weather was crisp and sunny…a perfect fall weekend.  We stopped in a village somewhere along our route and had fresh-pressed hot cider along with these cookies.  The flavors, the colors, the feel of the air…in my memories, it’s as though it were this fall, not all those years ago!

But enough sentimentality…you need these in your life!  They pack well if you’re taking them along on your Thanksgiving drive or make a tasty afterschool snack. And, they’re pretty!

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Orange Cornmeal Sandies

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup yellow cornmeal

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 egg yolks

1 tsp orange extract

¼ cup almond meal (or ground almonds)

6 oz dark chocolate morsels

1. Beat butter and sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Beat in egg yolks and extract until fluffy. Stir in dry ingredients and almond meal or ground almonds. Divide dough in half and wrap flattened disks in plastic wrap. Chill 30 minutes (it will get too hard if you leave it too long).

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On well-floured surface, roll dough to ¼” thickness and cut out with cookie cutters. I used leaf shapes. Place 1” apart on cookie sheet. Chill ten minutes before baking to prevent spreading.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until edges are slightly browned. Let cool on pan for one minute, then cool completely on wire rack.

4. Melt chocolate in plastic freezer bag in microwave, according to package directions. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and drizzle chocolate over the cookies. Let the chocolate set.

5. Serve at room temperature or freeze for up to a month.

Click here for the printable recipe

Christmas Card Monday-Ornament Keepsakes

I admit, I resisted buying the Ornament Keepsake dies and stamps from the Stampin’ Up! Holiday catalog. But, I kept seeing great ideas using them and had to give up and order them. I’m really glad I did.  Look what I made for an ornament exchange:

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It’s a pretty much straight-out copy of the cover of the Holiday catalog. I had to substitute some DSP from last year for the rosette and used a large half-pearl for the center from an old, old Pretties kit. I am quite certain I’ll have to make another for myself, it turned out so beautifully.

But on with today’s card:

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All Stampin’ Up! supplies:  Ornament Keepsakes and More Merry Messages stamp sets; Always Artichoke and Very Vanilla Cardstock; Cherry Cobbler and Always Artichoke classic inks; Illuminate ink; Corner Rounder; Pearls, Woodgrain Embossing Folder

I rounded the corners of the front panel, then attached it to a Very Vanilla card base…it looks a little wonky on the corners in the photo, but it’s a cool effect in person.  Also, I stamped several smaller ornaments using the Illuminate Glimmer Watermark Inkpad, under the verse, and embossed them with clear embossing powder. If you squint, you can see them…again, lovely in person, adding both a layer of texture and shimmer.

As a reminder, through December 15, if you’d like to become a demonstrator, you’ll receive an entire color family of ink pads FREE. That’s a $49.95 value!  It’s only $99 to join, and you can design your own starter kit, up to $125 value…plus, you’ll get all the forms and supplies you need to get your own Stampin’ Up! business started.

Becoming a demonstrator was one of the most creative things I’ve ever done for myself, gaining access to all the benefits of the demonstrator-only website, along with at least a 20% discount on everything I buy for myself. Okay, enough with the sales pitch. If you’re interested in further info, email me or click on my Stampin’ Up! website link up there in the right sidebar.

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