Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cool and Inexpensive Gift Ideas Collected by Me 2013

Ok, so I have been missing from my blog for a month and a half or so, but this is a post that I wrote right after Christmas.  It is not as inclusive as I had originally intended, but so that it is not time and effort lost, I have posted it rather than hide it in my drafts.  Feel free to add other ideas, if you are so inclined!

Gift 1--We are ornament collectors, and I have always tried to give my children an ornament each Christmas that depicts, in some way, an event or accomplishment or hobby or character trait demonstrated during the year.  Sometimes, they are hard to be found, so I have to create.  This year, I was the recipient of a cool ornament from our PWOC group leadership who lead in a study of Mark Driscoll's book Who Do You Think You Are? in which he listed all of the "benefits" we have as children of God.  The ladies purchased clear ornaments, printed the "benefits" on diverse colors of paper, cut them apart and placed them inside the ornament.  So meaningful to me, but I see the endless possibilities of other interests as well.

Gift 2--This one came from craft fairs and holiday bazaars that I attended this season.  I attend such events, yes, to purchase unique gifts, but also, to get ideas and make my own.  One of our retired military wives has, in the past, hand printed various sayings on cardstock, framed them and then sold them for $6 or so.  They are very simple, and while I am not very artistic, I certainly can use a computer right down to the art to enhance it!  The Dollar Tree sells 5x7 and 8x10 for--you guessed it!--$1.00!  For less than $2, I can create something personal and inexpensive.

Gift 3--Very similiar to gift 2, but a unique idea for a Christmas card.  Going through my mom and dad's collected items this past year yielded vintage cards of all kinds;  some were even from my grandmother's collection.  I have not only Christmas cards, but birthday, thank you, and other sorts of cards.  These framed in frames to fit the card style itself make wonderful gifts.  Two downsides would be 1) I have a hard time parting with them myself when it comes to my families' cards and 2)  I believe that you would have to find these at estate sales or yard sales to keep them inexpensive.

Gift 4--I've mentioned The Dollar Tree already, so there you go.  This year, for an inexpensive gift for right at $10, I purchased a popcorn bowl shaped like the retro movie popcorn containers ($1 each),  a cellophane sleeve for baskets (2 for $1), a classic Christmas movie from Amazon (varies in price, but at the most $8 with free shipping with Amazon Prime), and a variety of hand written recipes for caramel corn and others, popcorn flavor shakers (buy several small ones from a variety of stores and split up the packages), and hot chocolate for a "classic" Christmas basket.  Plastic Coke glasses would be cute additions, and the list of ideas go on!

Gift 5-- Last year since my daughter and son-in-law were in their own home for the first year, I decided to collect items to mark the holidays throughout the year for the purpose of decorating principally and make those one of their gifts as a couple.  Some of the items were reusable while some were consumable. If you gather these as the special days arrive, depending on what you want to spend, you can get quite creative and still remain conservative in price;  after the gifting, it is a year of remembrance of the one who gave it.

Yikes! I am Becoming My Dad!

Whenever I look in a mirror, I see my mom's arms and a few of her facial features in my own!  I hear her voice speaking from my lips--several of those phrases I use to hate to hear from her, I actually find myself repeating!  However from the beginning of my life, if I look myself in the eye in the mirror, I have seen overall the look of my dad!  Recently, I am finding that I am beginning to take on many of the same "thoughts" that made my dad my dad!  For example, I hear myself say "you need to eat plenty of good fruit and vegetables," or what really scares me is that for the past few weeks I have found myself wanting to save empty food containers or old shoe boxes for the purpose of storage!  I didn't grow up in the depression era as my dad did, but I find myself thinking, "oh, I might want to use that later to put scrapbook materials in," or "I could put those small things in the garage in that shoe box."  Stop!  Hold it!  I spent the entire month of March 2013 cleaning out all of those collections boxed up, suitcased (I do realize this is not really a verb) up, and coffee canned up in my dad's house and three storage areas following his death!  All through his life, it had been a joke between us that he was going to leave all of that "stuff" for me (the minimalist compared to him)  to clean up after he was gone!  So with that memory, I will overcome the urge to keep all things!

One thing, however, that I will keep is the attempt to waste less and repurpose more.  Food, for instance!   When I move to a new place, is difficult not to waste at times as I can't find the brands or flavors that I am used to from the prior place of living.  My best example of this is with bread.  I fell in love with Honey Wheat Berry bread by a certain company, and I have tried to duplicate it ever since I arrived in Washington in September.  I have had failed attempts, to say the least.  That fact, coupled with an overly ambitious waitress at Outback a few days ago who greeted us as we sat down with two loaves of their finest dark bread and brought us two more loaves (which we brought home) before we had finished the first two,  put the idea in my head to make my own croutons!  Afterall, Outback has scrumptious croutons on their salads!  I did it!  I googled or pinterested (another made up verb) several recipes and combined the ones I thought would be good and turned two loaves of Outback bread and a half of a loaf of Honey Wheat Berry bread into a airtight container of goodness which can be kept up to a month!  Thanks, dad, for all of that good training!!!

Tip:  if you order pizza in and get the parmesan cheese packets and have left overs, I found that these make a good source of flavoring for homemade croutons.