Get To Know Your Supplies: Frugal Stamping

When stamping an image on your paper, use an old mouse pad beneath the paper.  It is soft enough to have a bit of give which gives you a better image.

Color your stamps with crayola markers (or any water-based markers), give it a huff with your breath to moisten and stamp.  You can get some really beautiful results with very inexpensive markers.

Punch or cut out shapes from fun foam and glue to cardboard or foam core.  You can make wonderful background stamps for pennies.

Use styrofoam packaging as stamps.  I have a piece of styrofoam which came from a display at Dollar General.  The display was empty and I offered to purchase the styrofoam insert.  They gave it to me since the display comes with the product in it.  They had no use for an empty display.  Another foam stamp option is the weird shapes from electronics and computer parts.  I have some really interesting packaging left from my husbands order of computer pieces.  I attached to chipboard from a cereal box and have huge background stamps.

Make your own ink pad re-fills.

Purchase only a couple full-sized ink pads.  You will pay less for the mini-ink pads and they take up less space.  I have a couple black stamp pads and a brown stamp pad which I use for most of my outline stamping.  I color the image with watercolor pencils, colored pencils, markers, etc. once the outline is stamped onto the paper, or onto the stamp itself.  Purchase the re-inkers when you buy the stamp pad.  If these are colors you will be using all the time, it’s a good idea to have the ability to re-ink the pads before you run out.

Purchase stamps that are basic shapes you can turn into many things.  For example, circles, ovals, squares and rectangles are basic shapes.  Hearts, stars, flowers, tags, sentiments, alphabets, and numbers are basics too.  You can make a tremendous amount of things with these few sets.  They never go out of style and are always useful in your art practice.  Get the basics in different sizes and increase your options.

Make a DIY stamp cleaner from a travel baby wipe container.  I found mine at Dollar Tree.  They came in two colors, red with Elmo on it and blue with Cookie Monster on it.  I covered the image with decorative contact paper.  Use two paint pad edgers from the hardware store.  They have metal hook edges, which you will have to cut off.  Use doubled sided foam tape and attach one to each interior side of the box.  Write Wet on one side and Dry on the other.  Spritz the wet side with stamp cleaner, rub the inked stamp on it then rub the cleaned stamp on the dry side.  The stamp is ready to go next time.  Stamp Cleaner Solution:  1 part Simple Green to 9 parts water for rubber stamps.  For clear stamps use baby shampoo and water.  Another brilliant DIY from Lindsay the Frugal Crafter.

Store your clear stamp sets in page protectors in a three ring binder.  They store on a book shelf and are easy to page through to find the image you want.  When your collection grows, label the 3 ring binders to indicate what’s in them.  For example:  nature, sentiments, shapes, flowers, birthday, holidays, etc.

Use the small alphabet stamps you find at Michael’s and Walmart (for a buck usually) as one stamp.  Just wrap them with tape and use them as background stamps.  Also, before you cut them apart, ink them up and stamp the interior of the box they came in.  Believe me, you will never be sorry you did this.  It makes putting them back in the box so much easier.  These little alphabet stamps are handy for a lot of things.  I love mine.

Some more things you can do with stamps:

  1. Make your own designed tissue papers for art journaling.  Use a waterproof-ink stamp pad and stamp images and designs on tissue paper.  Use as you would any other decorative tissue paper.
  2. Use the mini-alphabet stamps to make word tiles.  Just roll out the clay or dough and stamp the words into it.  Cut into shapes and let dry or bake (depending on your clay).  You can also make “type-writer keys”, jewelry, embellishments of all sorts, ornaments, tags, etc. this way.  You can do this with other stamps too. If you have a poinsettia flower, for example, stamp the image onto salt dough (or clay) and bake.  Paint as desired and dip into varnish.  Let hang as it dries. Now you have a beautiful ornament for your tree.
  3. Use stamps to make your own paper.  Stamp on plain or patterned papers, craft paper, book pages, any type of paper you have.  I like to stamp plain images and color them with colored pencils, markers or watercolor pencils.
  4. Stamp your images, color and cut out for unique die cuts and embellishments.  Use the negative space left from your cut out image as a stencil.  Stamp image onto cereal box chipboard and cut out for a unique art journal cover or tag book.
  5. Use background stamps on art journal pages for all over designs. Use on plain white paper rolls or craft paper rolls and make your own wrapping paper. You can stamp with ink, watercolor paint or acrylic paints too.  Just make sure you clean your stamps well afterward.
  6. Use heat set dye-based ink (or embossing ink) and embossing powder for really cool raised designs. You need a heat gun for this technique.  (Refill your embossing ink pad with glycerine.  I find mine at Walmart in the pharmacy dept.  Also, use 4 oz. of distilled water with a teaspoon of glycerine in a spray bottle and it will refresh your dye-based ink pads.)
  7. Use permanent ink and stamp images and sentiments on fabric.  I have a burlap tote which is begging for some French words and the Eiffel Tower.
  8. Use a stamped image for making color swatches for all your media.  If you have a fairly simple image, say an umbrella, cupcake, or a hot air balloon, use the sections for your color charts.  These are adorable and also very useful for your art practice.  Punch paper with a three-hole punch and keep in a three ring binder.  You will have accurate color charts of all your media.
  9. Stamp sentiments on ribbon for great embellishments.
  10. Use stamps to make labels for all your storage.  Pretty and practical.
  11. Use stamps to make cards for jewelry displays.  I used frame stamps to make cards for my earrings.
  12. Use stamps to make your own business cards and stationary.

There are many, many things you can do with stamps.  If you are just starting out I recommend the basics first.  I don’t have many of them.  I don’t have very many stamps at all, really, but I was given most of mine or bought them second hand.  I plan to expand my collection by purchasing the basics as funds allow.

Wood backed stamps take up a lot of room and are more expensive.  You can use a second-hand store purchase of Jenga blocks for mounting your stamps if desired.  Rubber stamps and clear stamps can be stored in page protectors and three ring binders.  And they cost a lot less.  You need a clear acrylic block to use them if you want a complete image, but I often use my larger ones without it.  I  just stamp part of the image as a background on my art journal pages, sort of rolling the stamp onto the page.







When Creativity Leaves You

I confess, I have been struggling lately with my creativity.  My health problems and my injured hand have left me without the ability to make much of anything.  This has sent me into a downward spiral creatively.  I’ve made some storage units from foam core, I’ve been coffee dyeing my book pages, but not much else.  My printers are broken, so I cannot print what I want for my art journal pages.  My work horse sewing machine broke earlier this week which prevents me from sewing my paper projects.  I have several things which are ready for the sewing part, but that’s not possible either…It feels like everything is working against me, preventing me from making things.

Here are some suggestions for climbing out of your creative slump.

  1. Clean and organize your work space.  Clutter and confusion are not friends to creativity.  Another wonderful result of this is you not only have a clean environment, but you begin to see things you had forgotten about.  Maybe a supply you wanted to try but never got around to it.  Maybe seeing a couple things together in your hand will inspire an idea for a project.
  2. Go through your closets and drawers and clear out the things you could add to your art practice.  Rip apart old clothes for scrap fabric, buttons and zippers.  Grab the odds and ends you find and bring them into your work room.  Organize these items and see what might inspire you to make something.  Some people go shopping for some new product that inspires them.  Since I am broke, I “shop” though my closets and cupboards.  This can often give your lagging creativity a shot in the arm.
  3. Make prompt cards.  They don’t have to be art journaling prompt cards, but those are the same idea.  Make cards with a product or technique on each one.  Make as many cards of different things as possible because you want to have a large variety of both techniques and materials.  Here are a couple examples of what might go on a prompt card:  acrylic paint, markers, spray inks, modeling paste, watercolor pencils, water-soluble crayons, palette knife painting, collage, stitching, yarn, thread, buttons, beads, doodling, spatter painting, monochromatic, three colors in different media, stencils, stamps, inks, hot glue, fabric, ribbon, scraps, etc.  Pull two cards and do what they say.  If you pull fabric and paint-make a spirit doll or throw pillow.  If you pull collage and stitching-make an art journal page, card, tag or multi-media painting.
  4. Pick a supply you’re not that familiar with and play with it to get to know what it can do.  This is just play, you don’t have to actually make anything at this point.  Just use the supply to get to know it.  Mix it with other materials and supplies to see how it reacts to them.
  5. Either watch you-tube videos for inspiration or get off you-tube and ignore what others are doing.  Seriously, this can go either way.  Quite often I start by watching what others are doing but it doesn’t take long for me to become over-exposed to the videos.  This can be a serious problem if you compare your work to the work you see others doing.  Remember, there are many very talented people out there and they each have their own style.  You are talented, too, with your own style.  Embrace your talents and abilities and never compare yourself to others.  You need to be the best YOU you can be.  Not a clone of someone else.
  6. Take a break from creating or force yourself to do it.  This is another one of those “it can go either way” things.  Sometimes you need to step away and recharge your batteries with other things.  Maybe you need to read some books, bake some cookies, get outside and play in the garden, play with your kids.  These are activities which may restore and refresh your worn out muse.  At other times it may be necessary to just sit your bum down and do something.  Anything.  Get your hands and mind working.  Don’t try for perfection.  Don’t even expect what you make to be good.  This is just an exercise in getting you back into doing something.  Keep playing with your supplies until your creativity awakens.
  7. Make technique cards.  Use tags, poster board, cardboard, chipboard-whatever you have quite a bit of that can be punched with a hole punch and put on a ring.  On these bases, do various techniques.  Anything goes here.  Whatever techniques you can think of, in any media.  When the technique card is dry, flip it over and write out the technique you did and how you did it.  After awhile you will have a large variety of techniques in a handy flip through book.  When you get stuck and don’t know what to do, grab your cards and see if anything sparks your interest.  This is similar to prompt cards, but being able to see and feel the actual technique in your hands may make a big difference.
  8. Make paper.  We all use paper in our art practice.  Here are some ideas for making your own paper to use in your projects.
    1. Dribble paper.  Fold a sheet of paper in half.  Open and lay flat.  Dribble paints over half the page and then fold it shut again.  Open to discover a unique pattern on the paper.  Let dry and use.
    2. Gelli printing is a big thing now.  If you have a gelli plate, smear paint on it in various colors with a brayer.  Press paper onto the plate and lift.  Re-moisten with a spritz of water and keep pressing paper onto the plate until most is gone.  Add more paint to the plate, use brayer to spread it around and press the paper onto the plate again.  You will build up layers of paint on your paper, creating some really unique and beautiful papers.
    3. Shaving cream marbling.  This is a terrific project to do with your kids.  Use the inexpensive, non-gel kind.  You want the foam.  Spray foam into a shallow dish or pan.  Smooth flat.  Dribble liquid watercolors, inks, or acrylic paints over the top of the shaving cream.  Use a skewer or Popsicle stick to swirl the colors.  Lay the paper on the swirled color/foam.  Lift paper off.  Scrape extra foam and color from paper immediately with a piece of cardboard, a plastic ruler or a paint stick.  Let dry completely.  You can get several papers from one layer.  Add another layer of shaving cream over top of the used up layer and repeat the process.  When you’re finished take the pan and tools outside and spray off with a hose.
    4. Textured paper.
  9. Make your own supplies.  I have several tutorials on this site explaining how to make your own supplies.  This is a great way to jump back into making things, without the pressure of having to make something pretty.  You’re just making art supplies with which to make your projects.  Easy and no pressure.
  10. Begin a project you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time.  Maybe you were always interested in puppets but never had the time to learn to make them.  Check out you-tube tutorials and make one or two.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to make a quilt-you-tube has tutorials for that.  Just jump in and get started.  Maybe you always wanted to make a quotes journal.  Look them up and get started.  What about kites, paper dolls, coffee filter flowers, jewelry, stuffed animals, polymer clay beads, sock monkeys, recipe books, large fabric checkerboard and checkers, cards, color mixing books, fascinators or headbands, the possibilities are endless.  Just pick something and start.

If you are determined to get out of your creative slump, you can do it.  It may take a while before you feel you’re back in “the zone”, but with some effort on your part you’ll get there.


Inexpensive and Easy Gift Ideas, 8

If you have college kids on your list, here’s another easy and cheap idea:  Mason Jar kits.

For example, you can fill a mason jar with things like headache pills, bandaids, cold tablets, mentholated rub, and cough medicine.  They have a little medicine chest in a jar.

You could fill the jar with coupons for things like getting your oil changed, the local grocery store, nearby restaurants, their college book store, add gift cards for gas and meals.

Fill mason jars with the dry ingredients for cookies, brownies, soups, dips, the possibilities are endless.  Add the recipe to the jar with ribbon or twine.

Make dry hot chocolate mix and put it in a mason jar.  Include a cellophane bag of homemade marshmallows.

Recipe for Hot Chocolate Mix:

2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted into a bowl

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted into the bowl

2 cups powdered milk, mixed into the sifted ingredients.

Once it’s well mixed, pour into mason jar and add lid.

Combine equal parts of hot water and mix to make a cup of delicious hot chocolate.

Homemade Marshmallows

Pick up some clay flower pots and paint a label on them with chalkboard paint.  Fill with dirt and plant commonly used kitchen plants.  Basil, thyme, parsley, chives.  Put in a small crate.  I’ve seen the crates at Walmart.

If you live in a cold state, make a “stuck in the ditch” package.  Include a shovel, kitty litter, extra gloves, a flashlight, flares, warm blankets, jumper cables, snacks, water bottles, etc.  Make sure they understand if they are stuck they need to clear the exhaust pipe of all surrounding snow and to keep the window cracked open while the car is running.  Every year we have people around here who die from carbon monoxide poisoning because they didn’t clear the exhaust and didn’t crack a window.  Also make sure they understand they need to keep the car fully fueled when the weather is lousy.  If they are stuck in a ditch in a snow storm for 5 hours with the temperature at 20 below, they need fuel to keep the car warm.

Okay, the “stuck in the ditch” survival package won’t be that cheap.  But if you have a student who drives through lousy weather to get back and forth to school, it is well worth it for your peace of mind while they travel.  Each of our kids has a winter survival pack in their trunk.  It gives me great comfort to know if they are stranded they’ll be alright until help arrives.


Inexpensive and Easy Gift Ideas, 7

Many people are using Planners.  Some are absolutely adorable and very expensive.  Others are bare-bones basic and still more than I want to spend.  I made my own based upon Lindsay, The Frugal Crafters suggestions.  Here’s how to make one for yourself or as a gift:

Supplies needed

Mini-three ring binder.  I found mine (it’s Avery brand) at Walmart on clearance and bought a couple then.  If you’re making this for yourself you can reuse the binder every year.

Week At A Glance Planner which I bought at Dollar Tree

Patterned paper

Lamanator or contact paper

Washi Tape

Paper Clips



Free Planner Printables

Other Useful Printables

I have made several of these now and they are wonderful.  I highly recommend using Lindsay’s tutorial to help you create your own.

Mine has more pockets and plain paper in it because I sketch ideas all the time.  I need paper constantly and have in the past sketched ideas on napkins and toilet paper because there was nothing else.  I have lots of pockets because I’m forever gathering ephemera from where ever I am-ticket stubs, programs, receipts, napkins, everything goes into the pockets and I clear them out when I get home.

I use the largest paperclips I can find and add ribbon to them.  I just saw adorable ones which have buttons on the ends.  Use a piece of felt as the back of the button to hold it on the paper clip.  I used hot glue but you can use E600 too.

The washi tape does not stick well.  I used double-sided tape to keep mine in place.

This is a frugal and useful gift for those on your gift list.

DIY Scrabble Tiles are another cool thing to make.

Use a 1″ by 8″ board, 6 ft. in length.  Cut to 7 1/4″ square.  You get 10 from the 6′ board.

Sand to remove rough edges and to give your top some tooth.

You can cut the letters and numbers from vinyl or you can use a stencil and stain or paint them on.  Add a saw tooth hanger to the back of the board for hanging or use easels to hold up your wood letters.

Make whatever letters you wish and create words, quotes, sayings-anything you want. You can prop them on a plate rail, add ribbon and make a garland on your wall, use individual letters for a child’s initial, hang in a way that looks like it’s actually scrabble words on the board.

My daughter made my parents and MIL a Grandparents Brag Board last year for Christmas and it was a huge hit.  Here’s how she did it:

Get a board in the size you want.  She used some scrap lumber she found in a bin at Menard’s.  Sand and wipe off.  Prime and paint the board in whatever color you desire-or leave it as it is.

Using a stencil, write out what you want on your board.  She used our last name and the word Grandkids.  Paint.

Once that’s dry, add the hangers to the back of the board.  Glue the clip kind of clothes pins to the bottom of the board.  She painted hers with the names of the grandkids on each.  Hang photograph from clothes pin.

Erin also made a birthday board.  She, again, used scrap lumber from Menard’s.  After sanding and painting the board, she added the months of the year to the board.  In order and in a decorative circle.  Beneath each month she screwed in a hook.

Using salt dough, she made round disks using a drinking glass to cut them out after she rolled out the dough.  She made a hole in the top of each disk for hanging.  Erin baked them at 200 for nearly 3 hours to dry completely.  Once they were cooled she primed and painted each.  Then added the name of our family member and the date of their birth.  For example, Paige, 24.  This was then added to twine or ribbon and hung from the month of her birth.  Each month holds the names and date of birth of our family members.  (So the month of March had many more disks than the month of December.)

This turned out so cute!  It hangs in both my parents and MIL’s hallway.  It’s a very handy thing to have if you have a large family-which we do.  In fact, I guess I didn’t realize how many until they were all hanging on the wall.  You can easily add names to the twine or ribbon as more people are added to the family.

This was a very special and treasured gift which cost less than 5 dollars to make.

Still Unable To Use

either of our printers.  I find this incredibly debilitating because the printer is one of the essential tools in my work room.

I am anxious to finish my Journaling by 5’s art journal. I can’t because I cannot print the pictures I want to use.  Or the quotes…I think the journal will be quite interesting and I’ll share it here when I finish it.  I had hoped to add the last two 15 minute sessions before now, but-no printer!

Sometimes I want to pull my hair out in frustration…

Get To Know Your Supplies: Foam Core

Dollar Tree foam core is one of my work room staples.  I use it all the time.  Here are some ideas for foam core:

I make stamps using foam core.  I cut fun foam and glue to the foam core scraps.  I have made all sorts of interesting stamps.  I added plastic stickers to foam core to use as stamps too.

I make storage containers from foam core.  I have made watercolor boards to hold my watercolor paper while I paint, I have made miniature furniture, I have made doll houses, I have made picture frames.  I made a vision board or two from foam core.  I made a ribbon storage unit, artist rests, inspiration tiles, embellishments, Tim Holtz Configuration-like shadow box, display boxes, and puzzles.  I made signs and posters for girl scouts.

Then there are the wreaths I made.  I use a foam core circle as the back and add vintage book pages (rolled into cones) to it with hot glue.  I leave the center open and fill with flowers made from coffee filters.  These were some of the most loved gifts I ever gave anybody.  I also made a cardboard egg carton flower wreath using foam core as the base.  It hangs in our bedroom above our headboard.

I made huge (2ft. tall, 1 1/2 ft. wide) letters using foam core.  Cut the shapes out and use cut up toilet paper or paper towel tubes (all the same length) in between them for depth.  I used hot glue to attach the tubes standing upright.  Once you have the two letters attached to the tubes, wrap with cheap masking tape.  Now you have a “solid” letter.  I wrapped mine with burlap, made three flowers from scrap fabric and attached them to the letter.  It hangs on my living room wall.  Very lightweight and inexpensive.

I made jewelry storage trays and easels for lightweight paintings.  I use foam core as dividers in my storage units.  I have made several trays from foam core to hold my colored pencils and other supplies.  I made a tool caddy for my desk top which holds my most used supplies.  I repaired busted plastic trays for my Inktense pencil tins.

This is an essential material for so many things.  I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with even more ideas for this versatile product.

Streamline the Process

for your art journals.  I have picked up several old books at Goodwill.  I removed them from their covers and have been separating the pages.  I lay them out flat on a scrap piece of luan and spray them with coffee and spray inks.  I let them dry, flip them over and spray the other side.  I’ve been doing this to the “newer” encyclopedia pages, dictionary pages, foreign language books, maps, newspapers, magazine and catalog pages, you name it.  Because most of my art journals are “vintage-y” this works well for me.  I store the pages in 12″ x 12″ paper totes.

You can also make your embellishments this way too.  If you’re getting the stuff out anyway, make several at one time.  Tags, envelopes, flowers, art tiles, word tiles, whatever you would normally use on an art journal page.  If you have an art journal theme in mind, make the embellishments for the entire journal at one time.  Using the same papers, fabrics and trims.  Use the scraps for additional embellishments or as decoration on the journal.  Store and label.

I also do this for art journal covers.  I make several from recycled cereal boxes (or whatever) at once, let them dry and store them in a tote.  This way I can just grab a cover and get right to work.  When I cut manila tags from old file folders, I make at least 30 at a time.  In various sizes.

This doesn’t hinder my creativity, as I can always make something else if what I have isn’t speaking to me.  But having several things made ahead of time does help me get a lot done in less time.  If time is a concern for you, give this a try.

Inexpensive and Easy gift ideas, 6

Salt dough is a wonderful DIY material.  You can make countless things with this dough.  I used it to make several different types of Christmas Ornaments.  I made Santa, tin soldiers, snowmen, Christmas trees, wreaths, you name it-I made it.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup salt

1 cup flour

water to make into dough.

Roll out and either cut the shapes with a cookie cutter or make your own.  Make the little parts that go on your ornament like eyebrows and beards.  I used water to dampen the dough when attaching them to the ornament.  Put a hole for hanging in now before you bake them.  Bake on a cookie sheet at 200 degrees for around three hours to dry the dough out completely.  Check to see if the ornaments are getting dark.  You really don’t want them to darken, just dry out.

Once cool, remove from cookie sheet and paint.  I used cheap craft paints for mine.  I needed a couple coats to cover completely.  Once they were painted and decorated, I used liquid varnish and dipped them right into the can.  I hung them from a dowel, allowing them to drip onto newspaper.  You could tie them to a hanger and let them drip from that.  Before they were completely dry, I removed the “drip” from the bottom of the ornament.

This dough is quite heavy, so be careful not to make your ornaments so large your tree branches will bow and not hold them.  I wouldn’t make any larger than 2″ or so, but my tree is not the best.  If yours is stout, don’t worry about it.

You can also make name tags for gatherings.  Roll out dough, cut into shape, bake and decorate.  If you paint them with chalkboard paint you can erase the name when finished and use again and again.  Add holes for ribbon or twine before you bake them.

Chalkboard Paint Recipe:

1 part latex or craft paint (any color)

1 part calcium carbonate

Mix very well before using.

Make garlands from the shapes.  The really small cookie cutters work perfectly for this.  Make garlands from a variety of shapes or all the same-up to you.

Make salt-dough embellishments for your gifts.  They can be used as ornaments once the gift is unwrapped.

There is endless fun with this dough.  Your kids will have a great time helping make the stuff.  You could even make a Nativity scene, with all the animals, the manger and baby Jesus.  (My daughter made one and we call him “cannoli Jesus” because that’s how he looks.  We laugh every Christmas to see Him there in the manger.)

Once you have varnished the ornaments well-you can dip them a couple times just to make sure they’re fully coated-they will last for years and years without worry.

Cinnamon Ornaments are another favorite.  I buy the cheap Dollar Tree cinnamon and applesauce.  Here’s how:

3/4 cup applesauce

5 oz. cheap cinnamon

Mix into a dough.  Roll out and cut with a cookie cutter or design your own.  Add hole before baking.  Bake at 200 for 1 1/2 hours.  These also last a very long time and make your tree smell delicious.  I don’t decorate or paint my cinnamon ornaments.

Make several circles in various sizes from cardboard or chipboard.  Use a Popsicle stick to attach three together to make a snowman.  Flip over and decorate your snowman with batting, paints, yarn, twine, whatever you want.  Add a hat, eyes, arms from pipe cleaners, a broom, and a scrap of either fabric or paper for a scarf.  You have adorable snowmen ornaments from scraps you found around the house.

Use your strands of lights as garland.  Add strips of festive scrap fabric in between the lights.  These are really cute in a “rustic” tree if you use gingham or plaid fabric.

Pick a “theme” for your tree and make things to go along with it.  For example, for the campers in your life, make a little camper from chipboard and paint.  Add salt dough wheels and hitch.  For the bicyclist in your life, make a bike from jewelry wire.  For the quilter in your life, make little quilts in various patterns.  (Since I don’t sew, I would make the mini-quilt ornament from chipboard and paint the design on it.)  Add ribbon on the edge to finish the “quilt”.  If someone loves Raggedy Ann and Andy-make them from salt dough.  If someone is a hairdresser, make a blow dryer and scissors from dough.  The theme idea is endless.

Make these ornaments to go into your gift baskets for your loved ones.  A sports gift basket might include an ornament from his favorite team, a book gift basket could have a dough shaped book from the recipients favorite author.  Use your creativity and have fun with it.

A frugal holiday doesn’t mean an awful holiday.  It just takes some creativity and time to create a holiday you and your loved ones will remember and treasure forever.



Inexpensive and Easy Gift Ideas, 5

One gift I received from my aunt, which I really appreciated, was Holiday ornaments and decorations.  She gave this to me at one of my bridal showers and I was really overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness.  When a new couple is starting out, we often think of things for the kitchen, bathroom towels, bedroom linens, etc.  We sometimes forget they will not have any holiday decorations for their new home.

If possible, stock up on holiday items following the holiday.  Halloween is rapidly approaching and there will be huge sales following.  Grab some things then.  And from each holiday you would like to include in your gift.  I received things for Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Valentines day, Christmas, and Halloween.  You can add table cloths, napkins, yard art, window clings, centerpieces, the sky is the limit.

If you prefer, which I always do, make your own.  You don’t have to wait to purchase things until after the holiday sales events if the gift is going to be given before you have time to collect the sale items.  This is a quick and easy gift idea that I still remember.  I cherish many of the ornaments to this day.  30 years later.  How many of us can remember a gift we were given thirty years ago.  This one stood out in my mind and I have often given similar gifts to young couples starting out.

Inexpensive And Easy Gift Ideas, 4

Rough week with medical stuff, but I’m back.

Today’s very easy project is DIY hand warmers.  These are incredibly easy to make-you can make 30 in an hour.  Here’s how:

Cut your choice of fabric into 2 3/4″ squares.  You will need two per hand warmer.

Lay them together-right side of fabric facing out.  Stitch along three sides, 1/4″ in from the edge of the fabric.

Fill 3/4 of the bag with dried corn or rice.  I prefer the dried corn for my bags.  Run the last edge through the sewing machine, 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric.  You now have a bag with corn or rice in it.  Use a pinking shears, if desired, to cut the edges of the fabric giving the bag a nice finished look.

Pop in microwave to heat and drop into coat pockets.  Will stay nice and warm for quite a long time.  Perfect gift for those who go to outdoor winter sports events, hunters, campers, kids who wait outside for the bus, anyone who gets cold hands in the winter.  Very inexpensive to make with scrap fabric and a very handy gift for those of us who endure brutal winters.

Another very easy and helpful gift is pine cone fire starters.  Gather pine cones on your walks.  Wrap the cones with a wick.  You can purchase candle wick in a roll.  Once your cone is wrapped, set aside.  Melt your old candles in an old double boiler, or make your own by using an old pan with water in it and a clean tin can inside of it.  Put the candles in the can and let water heat, melting the wax.  You can add scent to the wax if you wish.

Let the wax cool a bit (it will stick better to the cones).  Dip the cones in the wax and let dry.  (Dip a couple times if the wax isn’t covering completely.)  You can also color the wax for really pretty fire starters.  Place in a second-hand basket to keep near the fireplace.

Another easy gift for those who have fireplaces is dryer lint fire starters.  Use a cardboard egg carton for this project.  Fill each cup with dryer lint and pour melted candle wax over it, filling the cup.  Let cool and harden.  Rip the egg carton cups apart and use the rough edge of the cardboard to light the fire starter.  Again, you can add scent to the candle wax or lint, if desired.  Make several of these and put into a decorated Pringles can with long matches.

One of my very favorite gifts is rag rugs.  When my kids were little, I made each of them a rag rug in their favorite colors.  Here’s how you do that:

I cut all our old jeans into strips.  I stitched the ends together to make long strips of fabric.  I made several strips, and just added one when I reached each end.  I made mine oval shaped, but you can make them in whatever shape you want.  If you’re making a square or rectangle rug, I found those a bit easier to do.  I just stitched the strips together, one next to the other until the rug was the size I wanted it to be.  Then use a non-slip rug mat beneath it for security.

You can sew the strips together as you wind them into shape with a large darning needle, or you can pin them all together and stitch them.  I began in the center and pinned the strips as I went, sewing them to each other in an oval shape.  You can also use the strips and crochet a large rug with a huge crochet hook.  You make the strips of fabric in the same way and use as you would yarn.

I used denim for our rag rugs because I had so many worn out jeans from the kids.  It was simple to do, they look great in a “homey” decor, and the kids loved having their own rugs in their bedrooms to cover the wood floors.  It is also possible to make rag rugs from any old clothing-just make your strips of fabric and go from there.  I preferred the heavier material but it’s personal preference.

Rag rugs last forever and are a lot of fun to make.  You use up all your old clothes, which gives you more room in your home, and makes a cozy, heartfelt gift.  All for pennies, really.