Tag Archives: Thrift

A Handmade, No-Spend Christmas

That’s my goal. We’ve been hit hard with car repairs and other expenses, as well as runaway inflation, so our plan is to either make all our presents by hand, trade, maybe use a few low-balance gift cards we have and just generally make this a different kind of Christmas. When I mentioned this to some of the family, I included that Dollar Tree gifts or gift baskets could be done, but I don’t expect to do them myself. It’s just an option if anyone wants to.

Josie, on her Cedar Creek Homestead youtube channel is talking this week about having a simpler Christmas. She tells a wonderful story about a Christmas during her childhood when all she wanted was a rocking chair, but knew there was no money for one and didn’t expect to get it. But out in the barn was an old rocker that had belonged to her grandpa. It was in rough shape.

But unbeknownst to Josie, her parents had plans for that chair. While she was at school during the day, her mother had been going out and sanding, repairing and staining the chair. On Christmas morning, there it was waiting for her. She was so surprised and pleased. Josie had a love for old things, so it was a double blessing.

This story reminds me of a couple of things. One was the story in Mark 14:3-9 about the woman who anointed Jesus with the ointment. She was criticized but He defended her saying “She hath done what she could.” What marvelous praise!

Another thing Josie’s story reminded me of was something my mother used to say: “It’s what you do with what you have that counts.” I’m not responsible for what’s impossible, but what I’m able to do.

My parents were a young married couple during World War II. This was before toys were mostly made from plastic, and metal was being used in the war effort, so new toys were scarce, and tricycles even scarcer. Daddy found a used one, and like Josie’s mother, cleaned it up and gave it a new coat of paint. And that was what my brother got for Christmas that year. Strangely enough, it was the start of his life long love of everything on wheels; everything from bicycles to motorcycles to race cars. I even saw him ride a unicycle once.

So, I plan on looking around at my assets and take stock of what I can do this December. I don’t have the talent of my sister to knit and crochet, or my friend Abby to bead or do paper engineering, but I can sew a little, bake and do a few other crafts.

Our home is full of books and magazines with projects and ideas.

One thing I tried this past year was making my own potpourri. We had a lot of oranges that needed to be used, but were past the eating stage. I sliced the nicest looking ones, put them on a cookie sheet and set it under our wood stove to dry them. I couldn’t believe how nicely that worked. For the others, I scooped out the pulp and dried the peels on the window sill on brown paper bags. Our back pasture is full of wildflowers, which my husband picked and brought to me later in the year, along with some berries (I have no idea what kind they are, and it didn’t matter since they weren’t for eating). After drying the flowers, I mixed it all together with the orange peel. No, it doesn’t smell as lovely as the store-bought kind, but essential oils or cinnamon oil can fix that.

I really like the chunky kind of potpourri, and was able to have some for free. True, it wasn’t nice enough to give for a gift, but it’s in the Making Do category.

I hope to do what I can, with what I have.


Filed under Christmas, Christmas, Crafts - Cheap, Free, Holidays, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Vicissitudes of Life, Wildflowers

The Truth Matters


It takes a special movie to separate us from the $20-40 it costs now.  When I saw the preview for 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, it grabbed my attention.


“This is the true story of six men who had the courage to fight back.”


“This is the true story you were never told.”


My husband and I saw it yesterday, and it’s difficult for me to think about anything else.  Now I want to read the book, watch the interviews with the survivors and research the lies that Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Susan Rice told with straight faces to the American people.


Because those four didn’t simply lie about the cause of the attack, they are now lying about lying.  They couldn’t be more Orwellian if they were literally characters in Nineteen Eighty-Four.


In the presence of the 4 flag-draped coffins on the tarmac, Hillary Clinton lied to the families.


Now, she’s lying about lying.


Because of his lies to the American people and attempts to cover-up the Watergate break-in, Richard Nixon faced certain impeachment and therefore resigned the presidency on August 8, 1974.


Now, when those in the highest offices in Washington, D.C. lie and cover-up, they fly around on Air Force One and golf in exotic locations on the hard earned money of the American taxpayer.


Or they run for president.


After September 11, it was a common tool of the left to throw down the gauntlet of “Are you questioning my patriotism?!” when challenged on virtually any political point.  The weenies on the right would slink off with their tails between their legs, losing every time.


I say:  anyone who would vote for Lying Hillary Clinton does not love this country.


Cheers for Michael Bay and the stunningly courageous men who defended the compound in Benghazi!


America is not lost as long as we still have people like those brave men who will fight against all odds.


The truth matters.






Filed under America, History, Military, Politics, Vicissitudes of Life

House Altered Book, part III



Girls' Bedroom



1 Comment

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

Made in the U.S.A. – Yardley Lavender Soap

For my second post on Made in the U.S.A., here is one of my finds from Dollar Tree. Generally we think of the various dollar stores as Chinese Emporiums but they actually do sell several domestically made products.

Yardley soaps have a lovely fragrance and have been my favorites for many years.

It’s very surprising that something of this quality is only $1.00, but it is.

Leave a comment

Filed under Made in the U.S.A., Shopping

The Tyranny of Green

First the caveat: I recycle. A lot. In fact, as much as I can: steel, aluminum, glass, plastic and all paper. We compost. No chemical fertilizers. Pesticides only for fire ants and wasps.

I don’t do it to “save the earth”; I think it’s arrogant to think that even if one could do almost everything the green police are insisting on, that it still wouldn’t make a lot of difference to anything but landfills.

Yes, I’ve read the statistics on how much less energy it takes to recycle something than it does to make a new something, but I simply don’t believe that just that bit of saved energy will add up to enough to make a difference.

Landfills are a different story, because most of that stuff just isn’t going anywhere, so I try to buy smart (glass containers instead of plastic and reuse them. I’ve had some of my jars over 30 years and I recycle what I don’t re-use). Plastic is generally avoided because I don’t like it. One of my pet peeves is that I don’t like drinking out of a plastic tumbler.

Books that tell how to re-use (the new term is re-purpose) are interesting and I check them out from the library. There’s not much I can use from them, but I like to look at them and see if I can get any ideas.

What this all boils down to is that I believe in being a good steward of what God created and has given us. I want to be a good steward of his bountiful gifts, but I will not be a slave to the earth.

Genesis 1:28 tells us: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”

Being Green has become a religion. One is not allowed to question their “truth” or not adhere.

I worship the Creator, not his creation. He gave us dominion over it.

There are degrees of being Green. Probably the lowest level is the most common one where someone preaches it for everyone else but doesn’t do even the basics themselves (like recycling; I don’t know even one young person who recycles).

At the highest level are the true believers. They think that man is so harmful to the earth that there’s no redemption except the elimination of the human race. Yes, there really are some who are saying that. We all must die to save the plants, animals and the dirt. I can’t find that link right now, but I’ll keep looking for it.

The leftist high priests of this new religion fly around in private jets going to conferences and high dollar speaking engagements but tell us to not be using fossil fuels. The rest us are told to drive the equivalent of go-carts (or better yet – walk) while they are chauffeured around in limousines. They heat/cool huge mansions while those of us in smaller homes are told that we’ll have to live hotter in the summer and colder in the winter. There’s even serious talk of smart electric meters that will tattle on us if we use more than bureaucrats deem proper. I’ve read that the person currently in the Oval Office keeps it warm enough that he can work in his shirt-sleeves. He likes it that way.

“Do as I say and not as I do” should’ve been his campaign slogan.

One of my favorite photos is of George Clooney looking cool while he stands by his swimming pool. A swimming pool. We’re stuck with toilets that don’t flush and shower heads that don’t flow, but he gets to have a swimming pool. Was that in the past before he saw the light? (Well, he certainly didn’t see the light if he was using one of those compact florescents.) And speaking of Mr. Concerned About the Earth, click here to read the article about how compassionate Clooney is towards people. He publicly mocked Charleton Heston and his struggle with Alzheimer’s and when called on it said “I don’t care.”

Let’s see, how many times must a typical Californian take a shower instead of a bath so that an elite like George Clooney can have a swimming pool filled?

“The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.” — Michelle Obama

It looks like the Ruling Class make the rules and the proletariat will have to live by them.

Magazines are some of the most egregious purveyors of this nonsense. Country Living magazine is almost completely ruined. The Green doctrine is a huge part of their editorial policy now. When I read it or even Better Homes and Gardens, I feel lectured at.

And what hypocrites they are. There again, they must consider themselves the Ruling Class which are exempt because they tell us to do all these little things to “save the planet”, when they are using tons of paper and all that ink. Then fossil fuel is used to mail and deliver it to us.

This empty hypocritical preaching to the masses doesn’t make sense when magazines are dropping like flies. How long do they think it will be before their readers (readers: the ones who provide them with incomes) connect the dots and quit buying this propaganda? Do they not understand that if they actually convince people to follow their mantra then consumers would quit being consumers and not buy their publication?

And speaking of propaganda, there’s another outrageous film (the others shall remain nameless) being shown to vulnerable school children called the Story of Stuff. Apparently, Annie Leonard doesn’t think we need to be buying radios and stuff that comes from factories; or at least cheap stuff. I wonder where those jeans came from that she was wearing in her video, or her shirt? Did she make them herself after growing her own cotton and weaving them? Where did her shoes come from? Horrors! Not a factory!

I highly recommend this video critique of The Story of Stuff. This is part 1; links to the other parts will be on that page.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s we were told not to reproduce. They said: The planet is overpopulated! So, a lot of people actually bought into this and either didn’t have any children at all, or only had one or two. Here is a youtube video of Mark Steyn talking about the resulting population demographics.

We were also told by the scientists that there is a coming Ice Age!


No, now they say just the opposite.

So, no, I don’t believe in man-made global warming. After those scientists have shown their proclivity for adjusting data to fit their philosophies, I don’t know if I believe in global warming at all.

But I do believe in good stewardship.


Filed under America, Current Events, Politics, Scripture


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.


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


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

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


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

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:


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.


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.


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

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.


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