Holiday Gatherings are Gaily Wrapped Gifts

Lovely holiday luncheon yesterday.  Dear Lady put on a sit-down holiday luncheon for about 20 women in our community.  If  it had been 1950, the luncheon might have looked like women wearing shirt-dresses with petticoats to make them flounce, hats and gloves, and a fashionable purse.   But it isn’t 1950, and that is not what the women looked like at our luncheon yesterday.  Although, our dear hostess, bless her heart, had a gift for each of us at the close of the luncheon — individual hand-sewn aprons that she had been making since the previous summer.  She made them specifically to gift to each of us at her holiday luncheon.


I would share photos, but I haven’t obtained permissions from the women, so in respect for their privacy, if I have photos that don’t reveal faces, I’ll post those later. 


I’m just tickled with the holiday festivities this year right here within our small little village.  Open house party, holiday luncheon, church potluck, Women’s Club potluck coming up next week, annual Christmas play put on by the children, Open house party on New Year’s Eve, chili dinner – bring breads later in January.  Perhaps these gatherings have been the norm here for several years, but I’m just entering into all the festive fun this year, so it’s all new to me.  And as such, it’s like opening a lot of gaily wrapped presents, different in form and shape.


Gifts in a Jar – Collections


Straight from your kitchen; it’s become a holiday tradition now – the growing collections of ‘gifts in a jar’.  They are all over the internet, blogs and websites.  Thought I’d make a post, open a category and collect links to what is already out there.  Since so many have built their own collections, it would be redundant for me to repeat one by one, so let’s go for collections.

Found this one today at ‘The Old Front Porch’ and they have a pretty good collection already underway there.

Sustainable Christmas? The year of ‘No Consumer Shopping’ gifts

lighted Christmas tree

I’ve issued what I think is a fun challenge to the families that make up some of our family tree. This year, with the economic issues, downright crisis in some instances, and with sustainable living – green – recycle – reclaim – reuse – global warming, well seems a perfect year to make a change we’ve been gradually making anyway.

Say No to Consumer Shopping and Yes to Joyously Remade Christmas. In my challenge to my families , I put out simple rules; No purchases at stores, not even Dollar Store but Thrift Stores okay. Food gifts okay, but cannot purchase outside your normal food budget (so can’t run out and buy up all kinds of holiday food items to make food gifts). How creatively can we recycle items into gifts?

I’ve been interested in this for a while now, and with re-fashioning clothes into other fashions, re-making used items into something else, and all the crafty, sustainable living, green, recycle, re-use, re-claim websites and blogs online, I think it would be a fun challenge for our families. What do you think? I’ve asked also for fun links to websites and blogs with how to tutorials, diy (do it yourself), trash to treasures kind of thing. I welcome your participation too. Tell me about your effort towards no consumer shopping Christmas gifts this year.

Weekend Soup Specials

I read about this idea somewhere else a while back, and don’t recall where I read it, so oops – no hat tip to whomever posted it somewhere, but it was a great tip!

Place a container in the refridgerator and through the week, rather than toss the scraps of fresh, raw food into garbage, instead place in the container (onion ends, carrot ends, cabbage cores, shavings from potatoes, etc).  The scraps will add up and at the end of the week, cook them up in large pan with water for 20 minutes or so and you will have the makings of soup stock.  Drain the liquid via strainer into bowl, saving the liquid and discarding the now cooked scraps.

You can now use the soup stock to make soups, adding fresh raw food ingredients, ie, onions, potatoes, carrots, root vegetables, pasta, macaroni, beans, grains like barley or bulghur.

In the summer months, when I’m working on my vegetable garden, all the saved scraps go into compost bin.  In winter, though, here in Pacific Northwest, where it rains more than there is sun, I don’t work the compost, and it almost hurts to discard scraps of fresh, raw food into the garbage.  Finding another way to use the scraps to make weekender soups in the colder months is a workable idea for us.

I’ve made soups the last 2 weekenders using this idea and I call them surprise soups because not sure what I’m going to get for soup stock.   For example, I had used several apples one week, so had apple peelings, along with cabbage core.  I knew the soup stock , using these scraps would be on the sweet side,  so I wanted to make a kind of curry or ginger winter squash soup on the order of pumpkin soup.  That way I could use up some of my left over summer squash as well.   This week, I had carrot peelings, another cabbage core, and I had pulled fresh beets from the garden so tossed in the leave stocks, knowing it will produce a red, root vegetable flavored stock.  I will be adding tomato base and something along the order of potatoes, carrots, beans and make a version of vegetable type soup.

Lavender projects

 I like growing lavender in my yard.  Like the smell, like using it with my linens, as a restful sachet, and have tried my hand at making lavender wands.   So when I saw yet another blog pointing to lavender craft projects to make, I followed the link and wound up at All Free Crafts.  Oh, yes, I remember that website from back in the day….good for her that she is still keeping up the website, has kept up her yahoo group, by popular request brought back her newsletter and also added a blog.   I’m adding a link to her website to my blogroll.

From her blog, lavender projects;

Lavender Fan

Lavender Wands

Lavender Bottles

Aromatherapy Lavender Bath Salts

Penny Rug

Inspired by an entry I found at blog A Storybook Life, I went to Wikipedia to see what entry was there on history of the Penny Rug.  Sure enough and quoting;

penny rug

In the 1800s, starting around the time of the Civil War, thrifty homemakers would use scraps of wool or felted wool from old clothing, blankets and hats to create designs for mats or rugs. Using coins as templates, they created circles and each piece was then stitched in blanket stitch fashion. (Thus, the name “penny” rug). Sometimes, the mats or rugs were backed with old burlap bags or feed sacks. Sometimes a penny was stitched inside the mat to make it lie flat.

Penny rugs are not actual rugs for the floor, but decorative coverings for beds, tables and dressers and mantles. Sometimes they are used as wall hangings or pillows. Most designs include circles and some include images from everyday life such as cats, flowers, birds and shapes such as stars and hearts.

Penny rugs are made by selecting good quality 100% wool. It must not be too thick. It may be hand-dyed or overdyed to give the piece dimension. Circles are cut from the wool in varying sizes and then stitched together concentrically using complimentary colors. The circles are stitched to a wool backing in a pleasing design. When finished the entire piece should have a backing to cover the stitches and to protect it. The backing may be wool, linen or burlap.

Rag Rug and Homemade Bed MattressTopper

 I don’t remember where I got these two tips, something I was saving and don’t know if there is a linkback.  If it’s your idea and you want link credit, just let me know.

Homemade Bed Topper

This decorating tip is to create a mattress topper to revive an old mattress or for use as sofa bed support mattress or even as a floor mat when a house guest visits.

Collect or purchase new low cost bed pillows, standard or queen size; fiber filled ones usually run $2.00 each or use old ones you already have that have gone flat. Collect enough, approximately 9-15 pillows. Stitch together sides and ends in a vertical manner, much like a quilt is prepared. You have now created a topper! Cover with a bed sheet when in use and store in a plastic comforter bag.

Much less expense and just as comfy as a faux feather bed topper!

If you have a pampered pet, this would make an awesome bed for them as well. Just scale it down in size and cover with their favorite blanket. Sweet dreams!

Rag rugs

Haven’t yet done this, not sure it would work.  Saving old fabric, tear into 2 inch strips and save in rag bag.  Using variable strips,  sew strips together to form long chains.  Crochet the chains into rag rug using croceht pattern.  I’ve read about crocheting plastic bags into rag rugs.  I’m sure a google search will net how to croceht rag rugs patterns.