Tag Archives: Making Do

Upcycled Tablet Case

“Goodwill kid’s shirt + bubble wrap + retired flexy plastic cutting board + duct tape, and a little sewing machine action…viola, custom case/sleeve for my tablet.”

Lance, my husband’s nephew, posted his project on Facebook, and with his permission, I share it with you.

Clever fellow.

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Filed under Crafts - Textile, Making Do, Thrift, Using What You Have

Contentment at Home

Natasha Burns has a lovely post about her home and her attitude about it. It’s called “loving what I have rather than wishing it was more.”

And over at Domestic Felicity, Anna has written a thoughtful post titled “No Cost Home Improvement.”

They both reminded me of a story by Amy Dacyczyn in one of her Tightwad Gazette books. I’ve looked through them and can’t find it, so I’ll have to keep looking, then post it. She told about going to the home of an older person – their furnishings weren’t expensive or even nice, but the home was spotlessly clean and welcoming.

Just what I needed to hear.

As I about to go to sleep a few nights ago, I sensed the Lord nudging me about the stashes of clutter everywhere. It’s a lifelong problem that I have to deal with and I simply hadn’t been dealing with it for awhile.

So yesterday, I tackled 3 problem areas and cleaned them up. The difference was amazing and so fulfilling. On days that I’m home, I hope to clean out at least one more area per day. On bad fibromyalgia days, I might be able to do only one, but one is progress and it’s one more step toward a clean house and organization.

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Filed under Cozy, Home, Internet links, Making Do

Vintage Christmas Cards, III

Christmas 1957

Every year my family sent out lots of cards at Christmas time and received many in return. In the photo above, there are over 90 cards on our living room wall. Mama always like to display them festively, doing something different with them annually.

Candles and bells were my parents’ favorite illustrations on Christmas cards. Those seemed to have been among the most popular depictions in the 1940s and 1950s.

I associate them with my parents and because of the fond memories of happy and simpler times, candles and bells are some of my favorites symbols of Christmas, too.

The fondness for this tradition is evident is this passage from Chapter 3 of Miss Read’s cozy tale, A Christmas Mouse:

“Mary sat down thankfully and drew the packet of tags towards her. The presents were destined for neighbours, and the tags seemed remarkably juvenile for the elderly couples who were going to receive the baskets. Father Christmas waved from a chimney pot, a golliwog danced a jig, two pixies bore a Christmas tree, and a cat carried a Christmas pudding. Only two tags measured up to Mary’s requirements, a row of bells on one and a red candle on the other. Ah well, she told herself, someone must make do with the pixies or the cat, and when you came to think of it the tags would be on the back of the fire this time tomorrow, so why worry? She wrote diligently.”

This post is linked to Vintage Christmas Monday ~5 at Anything Goes Here.

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Filed under 1950s, Books, Christmas, Cozy, Ephemera, Family, Internet links, Using What You Have, Vintage Christmas, Vintage Christmas Cards

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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Filed under Altered Books, Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Ephemera, Faith, Family, Free, Scripture, Thrift

Jazzing up Store Bought Cards


My goal every year is to make all my own Christmas cards, and of course write a personal note on each one that I send. In the real world, many times I just sign:

Love,

Joe & Carla

Also, I’m realistic enough to buy boxes of cards when they go on sale after Christmas. If nothing else, it gives me a cheap source of envelopes for the cards that I make. Sometimes the boxes go on sale for .25 for 25 cards. Now that’s a mathematical story problem I can solve. A penny apiece.

Affordable cards made in the U.S.A.


These came from the local Dollar General one year. One thing, though – I try to make sure that they’re made in the U.S.A. and not in …. well, that country that seems to make just about everything we buy nowadays. There’s probably nothing at all wrong with the ink they use. Probably no lead or anything worse (there was that scare about the toys a year or two ago), but my goal is to always buy American first if I can. Anyway, last year, I supplemented my handmade cards with these.

Stickles


They were awfully plain, and well, glitter is like a string of pearls: it just goes with everything.

For embellishments, I got out plain old Elmer’s glue – not made in the U.S. anymore – and my box of glitter tubes and bottles. My sister uses Stickles and it’s so easy to use and goes where where you want it to – next time I’ll use it for this kind of project. Stickles is glitter glue made by Ranger (in the U.S. as all there products are). It’s really superior to the kind of glitter glue I used to buy in the 1980’s. Nana’s Scrapbooks in Weatherford has some and I hope to add new colors to my stash. Nana’s is a very nice little scrapbook store. The owner is a kind Christian lady and very helpful. I’d link her website, but I couldn’t find it using the search engine.


Can a girl have too much glitter?


Red glitter for the berries on the bell cards.

These also needed something extra so I touched up the snow with white glitter and also a few bits of red and green.

Not exactly handmade, but at least hand embellished. And it was surprising how much nicer they looked. They certainly didn’t look like penny cards.

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Filed under Christmas, Crafts, Crafts - Paper, Made in the U.S.A., Thrift

Vegetable Soup

100_8140 My mother made the best vegetable soup in the whole world. Mine is similar and very good, but hers was great. And of course, she didn’t follow a recipe or write it down. Mostly it was just what she had on hand, although she always started with bacon, and since both of our sons don’t eat meat now, I nearly always omit it. But it really is better with the bacon.

I don’t follow a written recipe either, but I will try to give approximations. This is a very flexible and forgiving soup; if I don’t have one ingredient, maybe I have something else that will work. For instance, I like to add about 1/2 c. of barley after it’s boiling to thicken it. If I’m out of barley, then I grate a raw potato. Also, I like a variety of colors, so I put in corn (frozen or canned), or maybe some chopped yellow squash. For something green, it’s green beans, peas or broccoli. When using broccoli, I don’t add it until about the last 1/2 hour or it will turn to mush; very unpleasant. When our youngest son was a teenager and nearly all he ate was meat, surprisingly, this soup was one of his favorite meals. Inexplicably, vegetables that he wouldn’t have touched if served separately, were eaten along with everything else. I even used to sneak in a turnip once in awhile because it looks about like potato in the general mix. So, here goes:

VEGETABLE SOUP

1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
salt
pepper
herbs and spices (optional)
paprika
chili powder
oregano
~
3 carrots, scraped and chopped
Water
Tomato product: sauce, paste, canned tomatoes
6+ potatoes (I like a lot of them) peeled and chopped
yellow vegetables, chopped if necessary
green vegetables, chopped if necessary

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1. Turn burner to medium heat and add olive oil.
2. When oil is hot – but not smoking – onion, celery, & garlic.
3. After vegetables become translucent, add salt and pepper, paprika,
chili powder, & oregano.
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4. Add carrots.
5. Pour in about 2 quarts of water and tomato product.
6. Add potatoes, yellow and green vegetables.
7. Bring to a boil and add barley or grated potato.
7. Stir occasionally. It will stick and burn if left completely unattended (especially if you add barley).
8. Set heat on low and cook for about 2 hours.

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Notes:
~This is a very nourishing, thrifty and comforting soup. For a small family, it will make several meals.
~If you want to add bacon, fry it first, then crumble and use the bacon grease to saute the onion, celery and garlic.
~If you use canned tomatoes, the broth will be thinner, of course. Tomato paste will make a thick broth, more stew-like. When I use paste, I cut the vegetables in bigger chunks.
~Leftover spaghetti sauce can even be used for the tomato base. If so adjust the other herbs/spices accordingly.
~Add water while it’s cooking if it looks like it needs it, or you like it thinner.
~Use your own judgment about what leftover vegetables you would like to add. Personally, with the exception of lima beans, I don’t care for beans in vegetable soup but if you do, go ahead and put them in.
~Omit all the herbs and spices if you prefer the flavor of the vegetables alone. Or, if you want to make it more like minestrone, eliminate the chili powder and add basil and beans.
~I’ve never been successful in adding macaroni or rice to this recipe, but if you know just when to add them, try it. Neither one should be put in for the whole cooking time.
~My mother added shredded cabbage, but this is something else I can’t seem to get right. Maybe I’ve tried to use too much. Maybe she just put in about a cup of shred. It was very good in hers.
~Even though our sons are grown and gone from home, I still make a large kettle of this soup. It’s actually better the second day after it’s been refrigerated overnight. And it’s so easy to just re-heat a couple of bowls for lunch on Saturday when we’ve been working out in the yard or come in from church on Sunday.
~On subsequent days, it will look like it needs water added before reheating, but only add a little, if any at all. It becomes more liquid as it heats.
~If reheating on the stovetop instead of a microwave, stir fairly constantly while heating. It sticks and burns easily.
~Cornbread is the best accompaniment, but cheese and crackers are good, too. My husband likes it with hot, buttered toast.

Linked to:
Food on Fridays @annkroeker
Frugal Fridays @Life as Mom

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Filed under Cooking, Cozy, Family, Food, Recipes, Thrift, Using What You Have

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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Filed under Free, Hints, Making Do, Thrift, Using What You Have

September Door Decoration

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Fall is my favorite season. Here in north Texas it’s a real relief after summer. Just a few weeks ago it was 107 degrees, so I’m thankful even when the mercury goes down into the 80s.

So to celebrate, I wanted something to put on our front door, but I’m on a spending diet; going to Hobby Lobby and buying a gorgeous autumn wreath is out. What could I make?

What I came up with is not only cheap, it was almost free. I had everything on hand I needed, or more correctly, I decided to use only what I already had.

Apple Wreath

1. Fold a stiff piece of junk mail in half and cut out the shape of an apple 4″ tall. This was my stencil. Unfold and smooth it out, placing it on an ironed piece of heavy brown paper sack.

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2. Pour a small amount of white acrylic paint on a saucer, and using a stipple brush, stencil 10 apples. After they’re dry (and it doesn’t take very long), draw outside the white around 1/4″ with a medium Sharpie. Include a wide stem at the top of the apple when drawing the shape. Using a narrow brush and red paint, fill in the area between the white and black line. Cut out. Using either the Sharpie or some brown paint (I used black but I think brown would’ve been better), paint on some seeds.

3. After all that the stencil should be dry; if it isn’t cut another one (it should be slightly larger than the one used for the inside of the apple). Stencil another 10 apples, this time in red. When dry, outline with the Sharpie, remembering to include a stem. Cut out.
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4. For the leaves I drew out a basic leaf shape and traced it onto green construction paper. At 2 leaves per apple, the cutting out part was going to get tedious, so I tri-folded the paper. It was easy to cut this way because construction paper is so soft. Then I folded or bent the leaves before gluing them onto the stems to give it a little dimension. Use whatever glue you want (I think I used plain old Elmer’s) and place them on both sides of each stem.

5. For the base wreath I drew around a dinner plate onto cardboard; then used a smaller saucer inside and cut it out with my kitchen shears. (If you think the cardboard might show, go ahead and paint the ring red. This will probably take a little while to dry.)
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6. Before gluing anything down, space the red apples evenly around the wreath. Now glue them. Again, I used Elmer’s. Place the “cut apples” on top between the red ones.

7. Tie a piece of ribbon or jute around the top and hang on the door.

This would make a good project for children old enough to use scissors.

(This project is linked to Make Do Mondays

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Filed under Crafts - Paper, Using What You Have