Friday, December 17, 2010

8 Days and Counting!

I'm having trouble accepting that Christmas is only 8 days away. It doesn't feel like the holidays. This could be perhaps it's just starting to snow (however, there's not much accumulation). Or it could be because holidays are cursed in my family. Perhaps because my beloved Mama passed away four days after Christmas two years ago. And perhaps it's all of the above. 

Yeah, I know, this is getting depressing.

But this year it's been different from the past several. This year has been a very crafty Christmas. I've made:
  • Christmas tree ornaments and tree topper.
  • Stockings.
  • Curtains. Simple, but definitely bring a Christmas-y feel to the house.
  • Cards
  • Presents! 
I've never done this before. At first, because Mama was always the one who did the decorating (one year, we had a Pilsbury doughboy Christmas!). Then because I just got too busy (school, work). But this year I finally had the time, and will, to do things myself. And that's making this Christmas good.

So why did I decide to make a majority of presents instead of buying them?

Your first thought is probably "because it's cheaper!" And I can't lie. This is part of it. Being in a one income household, you have to find ways to remain inside your budget. But it's more then that. This is a time of giving, a time of thinking about the people who really matter to you. I've always loved homemade gifts because it gave me a sense that the person was really thinking about me. And that's what I've tried to do this year. I put a lot of thought into the presents I've made, trying to take the recipient's likes and personality into it. It's also unique and one of a kind (unless I like it so much I decide to make one for myself, lol). Hopefully, they'll appreciate that. I know Sam did, hearing her delight as she opened her presents. I'll let you know in 9 days if I was successful or not with the others. ;)

I know it's last minute and everyone's in a rush to get their shopping finished, but if you're stressing over those last minute gifts, I really suggest trying to make something. It doesn't have to be big or flashy. All it has to do is show that you really thought about the person you made it for. :)

So here are some ideas that can be done quickly and inexpensively.

  • Earrings. At Joann's they have small kits that have all the findings you need to make several pairs of earrings. See here and here. They also have several more colors (gold, bronze, copper) in the actual store. All you need to do it add some beads, jewels or baubles. Herehere and here are some examples of earrings I've made. You can make them as extravagant or as simple as you want.
  • Scarfs. Here's a super easy idea for men and women. You can either make the scarf yourself, using fleece (just cut out a long, thin triangle, then cut slits at the end about an inch apart for fringe) or go to the Dollar Store and buy one. Then personalize it. You can go buy a patch and iron it on or even make one yourself. Have a guy friend who likes Batman? At any craft store, they sell 8x11 sheets of felt for approx. 30 cents. Buy/make a black scarf, then using a sheet of yellow felt, cut out the bat symbol and iron it on using Steam-A-Seam or craft glue (if you're using glue, make sure it's the washable kind).
  • Bookmarks. Have a friend who's a bookworm? I know for myself there's no such thing as too many bookmarks. Have a printer? Find a quote, a picture, put them in the program of your choice (for me, it's Microsoft Publisher) and print! Laminate and you're done! If you want to get more fancy, you can use scrapbooking paper, stickers, stamps, ribbons, the options are endless! To make this even better, buy a cheap book you think the person would like and put the bookmark in it.
  • Magnets. Do the same as above, just get a magnetic strip and adhere it to the back! 
  • Stationary. Get some plain white (or colored!) paper and envelops, then using rubber stamps and/or stickers, decorate them. Use themes. Cats, dogs, dragonflies, monkeys, ninjas. I have a set a friend made me with cat paw prints along the top and bottom of the paper and I love it!
  • Ornaments. You all know my new obsession with ornaments. I've had good luck with the guys liking these because sometimes ornaments are too girly. This way they can have their superhero/villain, zombie, sci-fi, motercycle, manly ornament. Just get some cheap balls from the Dollar store, paint them then coat them Modge Podge or another sealer. If you want to get really fancy, make them out of clay. 
  • Jewelry organizer for chains and earrings. This isn't as hard as it sounds. Get an 11x18 cheap mirror with a wooden frame (I got mine from the dollar store) and paint it. Then using push pins or small screw in hooks place them down each side and across the bottom of the mirror. That's it! This was one of my favorite projects because all my earrings and necklaces are organized and I can decide what I want to wear based on my outfit! See mine here
  • Picture frames. Again, dollar store. Paint and decorate them.

I know a lot of people here "do-it-yourself" and start freaking out because they think it'll take a lot of time and energy.  But it really doesn't have to. And here's a helpful hint: dollar stores are wonderful! They have items already constructed that all you have to do is tweak a bit: slap on a coat of paint, add some ribbon/stickers/embellishments and ta-da! Worried that these little things might not be enough? Why not do several and stick them in a gift bag or stocking? The point is to think about the person you're making them for and to reflect their personality!

Speaking of... I need to finish making my Christmas presents. Happy crafting!

* I use Joann's website to show you the products I'm talking about, but you don't have to shop there. I like them because they're a chain store, are everywhere and usually carry the same products.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a Geeky Christmas!

Finally! The Geeky Christmas Tree Completed!

I know, I know. It's been a while. But you have to forgive me because it's the busy holiday season! ;) But here it is! The rest of the ornaments and the finished Christmas tree! 

One of hubby's favorite movies. He can quote it from beginning to end. I think this this is his favorite one. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sam's Christmas presents!

My friend Sam is now in Japan! I'm so envious of her because I've always wanted to go. My elementary nurse was married to a man from Japan and we always saw pictures and it just looks so beautiful! Oh, well. Until I win the lottery, I'll just live vicariously through her. :-D

Anyway, she's from a pretty warm state. And Japan is not so warm this time of year. Knowing that I love to sew, she asked me to make a coat for her. And I did.

I used Simplicity 2508. As a general rule, I HATE Simplicity patterns. I always have problems with them: sizing, seams not matching up, uneven bottoms. I use to think it was me, but I've heard other people have the same problems. *whew* Why do I keep using them? 1) Because they're on sale at Joann Fabrics for 99 cents, a lot (and after using them, now I can see why). And 2) even with the pattern difficulty, they still have really cute patterns. Now I just go into it expecting some problems, lol.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Superhero Ornaments!

I love superheros. Movies, TV shows, cartoons, comics. I just love superheros. So of course I had to make some superhero ornaments for my tree. 

Batman is my all time favorite superhero. I've been obsessed since I was a kid, watching Batman: The Animated Series. I can never get enough.

Batman Symbol