Tag Archives: Free or Almost Free

House Altered Book, part III


Kitchen


Bedroom

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Girls' Bedroom


Pantry


Patio

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Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Cheap, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Thrift, Using What You Have

Imperfection

There are some fantastic handcrafted cards being made.


Mine aren’t among them.

However, if I allow the pursuit for perfection to stop me, I won’t ever do anything.

Sometime back, Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me posted a quote by Edith Schaeffer about doing nothing while waiting for perfection; I can’t quote it and I can’t find it, but when I do, I’ll update this post.

Here is one that I did find:

“People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection, which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it.”
Edith Schaeffer


When looking at the craft magazines and books and paper crafting blogs, it’s apparent that some people are just a lot more talented than others. If my workmanship is not in the same league, I can’t let that stop me from doing what I can.

My mother was a treasure trove of old adages. One of my favorites was:

“It’s what you do with what you’ve got that counts.”

She’s probably not the author of that little quote, but I sure heard it often enough and it’s true. It’s so important to me that I stenciled it (very imperfectly – and not intentionally so) onto the wall above my kitchen cabinets.

Jesus taught us in Matthew 25:23:
“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”


That ties it all together. If the Lord has given me an interest in something, will I be faithful to use that and nurture it, or will I bury it in the sand because I’m afraid to fail?

This post linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom.

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Filed under Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Family, Free, Scripture, Thrift, Using What You Have

Christmas Altered/Mini Scrapbook

Fran's Christmas book, cover

Two years ago I made an altered Christmas book for my sister. It was like a mini-scrapbook and personalized with family photos and memories.


This was a gift that couldn’t have been bought in a store because it was geared to my sister. The cost was absolutely $0.00 because my supplies were items and embellishments that I already had, including photocopies of old pictures. (If the pictures hadn’t already been photocopied, it would’ve cost about $1.00 at Kinko’s to do so.)

Space was left for her to add notes of her own remembrances. I included the Nativity story from Luke and words to Christmas songs. Part of the personalizing was including the lyrics to Frosty the Snowman. We never could remember all of them and that in itself was kind of a family tradition.


Looking back at it now, it’s obvious where some of the pages could be improved and maybe she’ll let me borrow it back to work on it some more, but I’ve found that with altered books, at some point it’s just time to quit.


This post linked to:
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom

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Pot Pourri Starter

Doesn’t pot pourri add something beautiful to a room? It’s more than simply the smell, it’s the look of it, too. All those lovely flowers and fragrances. However, I don’t like paying for the good stuff so I usually make my own. Besides, it’s something nice to do with all those rose petals, etc. that will be falling next spring and summer.

Now, in the winter is a good time to start on a new year’s fragrant bowl. Citrus fruit is in season and this is a good use for all of that usually discarded rind.


This morning when I peeled an orange, I tried to leave the rind in pieces as large as possible. Using a small cookie cutter, I pressed it into the rind to cut out little hearts. As you can see, I used a plastic one, which I don’t recommend, because it’s difficult to use, especially since this orange had really thick skin. A small metal one would’ve been better but I couldn’t find one in a generic shape that wouldn’t look Chrismasy next summer. However, I did employ the rolling pin to distribute the pressure and got a better cut that way. (That sounds like a physics problem. That’s about all I know concderning that subject. When Joe went back to school and got his degree in physics, people would ask me just exactly what that was. Really, I don’t know but my stock answer is that it’s the mathematics of how things work, like pressure, light, etc. Now if they had asked me about literature or history we could’ve had a longer conversation.)

Inserting the cloves


After getting the shapes trimmed (use kitchen shears or cheap scissors, it’s easier than a knife), I used a chop stick to poke holes for inserting the cloves. A large nail will work just fine, too. The hole at the top of each shaped piece is a little larger so I could hang one from a ribbon on a garland. You don’t have to use cloves, but they do add a lot of oomph to the smell. A few stars of anise thrown into the mix later on is nice, too.


All of the rind can be used, even the ragged bits. Just slice then into little pieces or cut them with the scissors.

All of the citrus bits are now sitting in a baking pan under our wood stove to dry. That’s not necessary, and you certainly won’t want to install a wood stove just to save on pot pourri, but it’s a good place for drying things. It doesn’t get hot to the touch, just a constant warm. When we were in England, my friend Julie, taught an art class and she used her hot water closet to dry papier mache. Just use what you have. In the past, I’ve just put the ingredients straight into the bowl and let them dry that way.

So this is the starter. You can add whatever you have or whatever you like to it. There are lots of pot pourri recipes in some of my books, but they were awfully intimidating and terribly expensive. They called for several ingredients which are not in my kitchen and probably not on the shelves of our local store.

What I’ll put in mine: the cinnamon sticks I got on sale at Wal-Mart for .20, petals from all the flowers that come around (either cut flowers or wildflowers), a few rose leaves for something different, a few drops of oil of cinnamon (from the spice section at the grocery), a little bit of essential oil and some dried orange or grapefruit slices. They look so pretty in the bowl.

This post linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

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Filed under Cozy, Crafts, Free, Gardening, Thrift, Using What You Have

White Christmas Season


Possible snow flurries? That’s what the radio said at 5:00 this morning.


Well, I’m telling you, this may not count for much in Montana or New England, but in north Texas, this counts as a White Christmas.


Lovely and free. A gift from God on this day when I needed it.

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Southern Gospel Singing Convention

The only time I had ever heard of a singing convention was when Joe talked about his grandmother going to them. Then 2 years ago our friend, Patti invited us to the one which is held every October in Decatur.


What an experience!

Unlike my husband’s family, I’m not very musical. I wish I could sing, but I can’t really. My voice is too low to sing soprano and alto is a little difficult to learn. But I enjoy listening.


Singing conventions are centered around shaped notes music, 4 part harmony, Southern Gospel and incredible pianists. A brief overview of shaped notes: each of the 7 shapes tell which tone of the scale it’s on. People who are familiar with it can sing parts (bass, tenor, alto, soprano) music they’ve never seen before and change keys without a problem. Heavenly Highway Hymns is a shaped notes book.

That’s about all I can grasp. For more in depth information, you can go here for a History of shaped notes in Southern Gospel.

Very talented musicians are still writing this style and publishing new books about every year. Texas Legendary Music lists some of the publishers and also has the 2010 schedule of events all across the U.S.

Several of the attendees were songwriters. And the pianists are incredible. One man, Cecil is 90 years old and it’s a joy to hear him play. When I get permission to post the other songs, I’ll upload them to youtube and do an updated post.

Click here for a youtube video of the Decatur convention. The song is “Vacation Bible School”, a very clever, catchy tune by one of our talented local musicians, Blake Boyd. The chorus incorporates lines from several of the wonderful old songs we learned as children.

Meetings are still conducted very much like the description in the link above. Anyone who desires to sing, play or lead the congregation is given the opportunity. It isn’t dinner on the grounds anymore, but there’s a covered dish lunch on Saturday.

Admission is free, but an offering plate is passed to cover expenses.

I highly recommend it.

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Thrift: Postage Stamps – Both New & Used

There is a little drawer in my desk in which I keep stamps. Along with the new ones, I also toss in ones torn off of envelopes that were never sent. For those really organized and efficient people, it will remain a mystery why anyone would go to the trouble to write out a card or letter and then not send it. But as an imperfect, very imperfect, human, I can tell you that after a couple of years, I have a little collection of these torn off corners of envelopes.


Now the slightly less efficient may simply toss the whole unsent letter into the trash; the slightly less efficient but conscientious would recycle the whole thing.

As a member of the above mentioned imperfect group, I set out a saucer of water and soak the stamps off of the paper, then place them on a piece of waxed paper to dry (if they were placed onto the countertop while wet, then I’d have to soak them off of that.)

5 minutes of work netted me just a little less than $4.00. With stamps at .44 now, I’m glad to save those expensive little bits of colorful paper. I would no more put an unused postage stamp in the trash than I would throw away .44 in coin. Or, in this case, four $1 bills.

Not just at Christmas, but all through the year I ask the Postal clerk what kind of commemorative stamps they have. These are the ones other than the Flags or Liberty Bells, featuring historical and/or popular illustrations; some of my favorites have been Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Stewart, the state of Oklahoma, Desi and Lucy, Elvis and Henry Fonda. Commemorative don’t cost any more than the others and give a certain oomph to the envelope. Of course, one has to actually mail the letter or card for it to have the final polish of that cancellation mark.


Speaking of which, canceled stamps are a great embellishment for handmade cards, scrapbooking, altered books or any papercrafting project. There is an almost infinite variety of ones available and one begins to look at mail, even the junk mail with a whole new perspective.

This post linked to Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom.

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Altered Books, A Sister Project


Sandra, over at Add Humor and Faith was asking about altered books. I’ll bet they’ve been around a long, long time on an individual basis (when people wouldn’t have access to a blank book or fresh paper, etc…) but I’ve only known about them for the past 4 or 5 years. It’s a particular niche in the crafting/art world. Actually, the scrapbook/craft type are more to my liking because the art ones get weird really fast.

It was not easy for me to start making them because I’m such a book lover; rarely have I even written in my own books (the big exception is my Bible where I make lots of notes) and the horror of painting or gluing in one was hard to overcome. But I did.

And still, I’m pretty selective about the ones I’ll use for a project. It has to be one that I don’t think I’ll ever read, one that I really disliked or one that no one else would want – for instance, even if I donated it to the library, they would probably end up sending it to the paper recycler because it wouldn’t sell. The sources are almost unlimited. Our younger son had a huge stack of mathematics magazines that he didn’t want; instead of regular slick pages these have the book type pages and are just right for this craft.

The project from my previous post is in one of these magazines, and I also used one for a round robin that was just between my sister and me. I use cardboard from a cereal box to stiffen the soft covers, then decorate them with fabric or something else.

Sometimes crafters will buy a buy a book (hopefully a secondhand one – I can hardly stand the thought of a new book going straight to altering!) that’s in the same theme as their subject. For instance, using a gardening one when their subject is flowers, or an old cookbook for recipes, etc… That looks pretty clever when finished, and I’ve gathered a few to do that sort of thing, but haven’t started them, yet. Also, really unconventional materials are used and are nearly limitless, like paper sacks, or sewing fabric pages; children’s board books are good but not as versatile.


In a Round Robin, each person chooses their own theme and sets the rules for working in their book. They do their own cover and two pages, then pass it on to the next person (who passes theirs on, etc.). Normally each contributor would only do 2 pages in another person’s book (like my sister’s paper doll book), but since she and I were the only ones involved we passed ours back and forth several times.


She allowed me to set up the overall rule that this project was to be unconventional in the sense that nothing could be used that was bought specifically for paper crafting and we should use as much stuff as we could that had cost nothing at all- or at least had not been bought new. I wanted to see just how creative we could be. There are incredibly wonderful products on the market (and my sister has lots of them) but I wanted to see what we could do with our imaginations. She talked me into altering the rule to include one new product per page. Yes, I know I’m cheap thrifty.

It was a lot of fun.


Her theme was Tranquility; mine was Cats and Cups. All the photos in this post are of her book. Mine will be in a future post.

She used old file folders cut down to make her pages and key rings to bind it. Her cover (seen at the top of this post) was fabric from a drapery sample book (Thank you, Pat Fischer. Pat is my friend who gave me those wonderful, out-of-date books from her shop Ruffles and Things and I shared with Fran. Also, the background floral on the page below is one I got from a sample book). We used magazine pictures, church bulletin covers, used postage stamps, scraps of fabric, hand painting, journaling, ribbon, buttons, counted cross-stitch, embroidery, both watercolors and acrylic paint, the interior of security envelopes, old trumpet music (from the library sale), a few rubber stamps; and even more. Most of the stuff we used would make a traditional scrapbooker head to the fainting couch – almost none of it was acid free. We aren’t worrying about that. This is for us, not posterity; our inheritors are probably not interested.

For these 2 pages, I started by gluing down (I use glue sticks) pages from an old novel, then painting them yellow and green to match the cut-outs I was going to use. Then I painted a border around both pages to repeat the border in the cut-out. Using a pair of decorative scissors and a hole punch, I made the paper lace to go under the fireplace picture (which I had glued in). Using watercolors, I painted a little house, a bunch of flowers and little yellow hearts. For added dimension I wanted them to be a little thicker, so I made my own chipboard pieces by gluing them onto the cereal boxes, then cut them out and sanded the edges. The little house had a hole punched in the top and threaded with pearl embroidery cotton to hang on the binder ring.

I love books and it’s fun making my own. It can be about anything I want it to be. My efforts won’t ever be featured in Cloth, Paper, Scissors or a Stampington magazine, but I really enjoy it, it costs almost nothing and as they say, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Linked to:
Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.

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Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Paper, Family, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have

Classic Movies

Barbara Stanwyck
The Lady Eve, 1941, comedy
Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, William Demarest, Eugene Pallette

An ocean liner, a beautiful card shark, a gullible and handsome millionaire + an excellent script = one of the best screwball comedies ever made. The story moves right along and has enough plot twists to keep one guessing.

Preston Sturges was a talented writer, producer and director. Pratfalls, sparkling dialog, and oh, that beautiful ship.

It’s terribly romantic but safe enough for the whole family, although small children will probably get bored between the physical comedy scenes.

Costumes:
Designed by Edith Head and they are stunning; Barbara Stanwyck was never more beautiful. It’s worth watching just to see the her clothes.

Where I’ve seen them:
Barbara Stanwyck – (too many to mention but here are a few) Mad Miss Manton, Meet John Doe, Christmas in Connecticut, Dial M for Murder, The Big Valley
Henry Fonda – Mad Miss Manton, The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, Mr. Roberts, Yours Mine and Ours
Charles Coburn – Stanley and Livingston, King’s Row
Eugene Pallette (Fonda’s father) – My Man Godfrey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
William Demarest – My Three Sons, That Darn Cat!

Something I learned:
Card Sharps and Card Sharks are interchangeable terms.

Highly recommended.

Linked to Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.

*Updated March 31, 2013

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Using What You Have – Glass Bottles and Jars

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We recycle lots of glass bottles and jars at our house, but I reuse a lot of them, too. It’s free storage and I prefer it to plastic.

My canisters are gallon pickle jars, mostly from a movie theater where I worked when my husband went back to college in the late 1970’s. After washing and soaking off the labels, I painted “oats”, “flour”, etc. on them but that eventually wore off. A few years later I stenciled red cherries on them to match the new curtains I made, but that, too has worn off. Now they have labels I printed off from the computer, onto regular paper, cut and attached with clear strapping tape.

The jars work very well as canisters because they hold a lot, seal against little invaders and I can tell at a glance how much of something I have on hand. We buy in bulk at Sam’s Club; it’s not only cheaper, but convenient, too. We live about 4 miles from the store and I just won’t get in the car and drive in for a missing ingredient. I love having plenty on hand.

I store the 25 pound sacks of flour and sugar in large plastic buckets with tight lids, from which I replenish the smaller vessels, but everything else goes into glass. Currently we have flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, macaroni, dried beans, baking soda, and powdered milk stored in large jars. Breakfast muffins are in a large one in the freezer. Quart to half-gallon sized ones contain yeast (in the refrigerator), cornstarch, barley, rice, grits, cereal and lemonade mix.

This summer we bought a large box of Texas peaches and froze most of them in a light sugar syrup in jars. It was too hot for me to get out and pick blackberries, but we usually have jars of them in the freezer, too.

For convenience and because I like the way it looks, I keep bottles of canola oil, olive oil and vinegar in small bottles. Sometimes I order water at restaurants and it comes in beautifully colored bottles. Lovely shades of green and blue. A package of corks from the hardware store seals them. This is very convenient for making salad dressing and cooking.

My parents were young adults during the depression and I learned about this from them. My dad would sit and shell pecans during the winter, put them in jars in the freezer and then we’d always have plenty for cooking the whole year.

This post is linked to:
Make Do Mondays
Frugal Friday on Life as Mom

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