Friday, November 1, 2013

Giving Gifts

I've known gift giving to be a blessing and a burden. There have been times in my adult years when I have wanted to give a nice gift but haven't had the money. That has been a burden. Yet, there have been other times when I have had money and gift giving was a blessing. Still other times when I have had very little money .. yet God answered my prayers and I was able to give a special gift within my budget. That was the best blessing of all.

My mother taught my sister and I to give gifts. We were encouraged to make Christmas gifts for our relatives throughout our childhood years. I learned to crochet, sew and craft through the means of gift giving. I believe my mother did the right thing by developing the habit of giving into the lives of others. Unfortunately, I twisted  it into a pressure it was never meant to be.

Our 'grandones' love to sit in our front yard tree.
Recently my curiosity has piqued over recycled projects. The internet is full of ideas. I've pinned a lot of those ideas on my Pinterest page under Re-use it.  One idea is a jean quilt from old jeans. I have quite a few squares already cut. I had two old pairs of jeans given to me recently that were not worth passing on so those will be cut up, too.  I'm also saving yarn to crochet a rug. Now this one will sound strange but I'm saving 1/2 gallon milk cartons to make a child's gift. I'll explain that one later in another post. :-)

I remember a Christmas many years ago when my oldest son was 5.  There was very little money for Christmas gifts. So the idea came up to make a race track for his Matchbox cars. Plaster was used along with molding clay to make road and ponds and then they were painted. It was his favorite gift and I image he may still remember it to this today.

The older I get the more I've come to realize that it's not always the amount of money spent on a gift but the thought that goes in to it. I've received lovely handmade gifts that cost very little and I've enjoyed them so much. I've also been on the receiving end of hand me down gifts that I've also enjoyed.


Here are a few ways ways I stretched our money this week...

1. I finally roasted the sunflower seeds and also roasted pumpkin seeds from the free pumpkins. I have one pumpkin left and plan on cutting it open for more sunflower seeds.. but I probably won't be canning the pumpkin. I'm up to my eyeballs in pumpkin. :-) Well, maybe I will can the pumpkin. I can't stand to see things go to waste. But, the seeds came out great except I think the sunflower seeds needed to dry out a bit more.

2. The wind kicked up this past weekend and there were leaves EVERYWHERE in my backyard. I swept and put them in a large garbage can to use in my composting buckets.  The leaves really tired me out last year but this year I see the leaves as a blessing since I learned that you need more 'brown' (leaves) in your compost than 'green' (food scraps).

3. I'm out of pumpkin pie spice and believe me.. I have a LOT of pumpkin in my pantry so I will be needing it soon.  I was able to find a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Spice at ALLRECIPES. I had all the ingredients on hand. Here is the link.

4.  The nights are starting to get cold. Our house was built in 1917 so there is no insulation in the walls... none.. zippo... zilch! I keep looking for ways to make our home comfortable. I have throw rugs in our bedroom since we don't have wall to wall carpeting. The throw rugs help our feet to stay warm when we get out of bed in the middle of the night. I turn the furnace down to 60 degrees when we go to bed and then turn it up to 68 around 5 am so the house will be warm when we get up.  My husband and I keep gloves and a stocking cap on our nightstands in case it gets too cold at night. I also found thick (REALLY thick) socks at Bass Pro in their hunting department that we wear to bed, too. We're snug as two bugs in a rug. Rarely does a night go by that I don't thank God for my warm and comfortable bed. I know there are so many in this world that do not have a bed to call their own.

5. We are starting to experience a few overcast and rainy days. I have started hanging my clothes in the garage when I see the clouds overhead. I have 2 lines strung in the laundry room, 2 drying racks plus 4 Amish Hangers that I use.  My clothes are dry by the next day. I just avoid hanging towels in the garage because they don't dry fast enough. I rarely use my dryer, even in the winter.

6. I started watching for sales on baking items that I'll use for Christmas. I don't bake nearly like I used to before we changed our diet to low carb but my  husband still insists on one batch of Mounds Balls. Last year I baked homemade bread (instead of candy) for extended family and neighbors. It was the perfect replacement for candy because I couldn't 'taste test'. :-) This year I plan to make Cranberry Scones to give as gifts. I'll probably bake homemade bread, too. Both are inexpensive gifts and enjoyed. I already found a large bag of dried cranberries and chocolate chips on sale at Costco. It's too expensive to wait and purchase all the baking items in December so I'll buy a few items each month.

7.  Things I didn't throw away this week:
  • Powdered sugar plastic bag (washed/reuse).
  • Brown sugar bag (washed/reuse)
  • Erythritol bag (washed/ reuse)
  • 1/2 gallon milk carton (washed/ to make a gift)
  • Dog food can (To bury and use as fertilizer for acid loving plants)
  • Plastic bags from vegetable department (reuse)
  • Coleslaw bag (washed/reuse)
  • Used canning lids (Washed and then turned upside down and put back with canning ring onto the jar to keep the jar clean)

8.  Do you know about Freecycle? It's a wonderful resource. I've met some great people through this group, too.  This past week a young lady posted that she had extra groceries to give away. I was blessed with lunch meat and canned goods. I had a lot in common with this young mother and we hope to meet for coffee soon. 

9. My mother is known for her homemade applesauce. The grandchildren love it and her home always smells so good when it's on the stove. I made a batch for our early Thanksgiving dinner which we are celebrating a few weeks early.  It's a wonderful addition to holiday meals and it's so easy to make. 

Grandma's Homemade Applesauce
6-8 Fuji apples
1 cup sugar
Pinch of cinnamon, less of nutmeg and even less of cloves

Peel apples and chop in chunks.  Put in a large sauce pan with
a small amount of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil and then turn 
down to a simmer. Watch and stir so it doesn't burn. Cook until the
apples are soft and then add the sugar and seasonings.  
Simmer for a few more minutes.

That's about all for this week!

So, I'm curious! Do you make any gifts from recycled items? :-)

I hope you have a joyful weekend!



  1. Hi Georgene love your post as usual. I do often make gifts from recycled things--but usually it is some type of holiday decoration or toy. That's the kind of thing I'm good at making.

    I just closed my etsy shop for the season. I just found out that Hubby has decided to move from the place he is renting and instead he is going to buy a used camper of some kind and rent a space at an RV park near where he works. He wants to save money. The camper he can bring here when he moves home--if that day comes. Meantime it will only be $400 a month for his rent and that includes utilities. currently it costs 1000 for rent & then almost 200 for electric and propane when the heat is running can be about 300 a month. He is trying to find a way he can move home permanently, but in the meantime we don't want to run two full households.

    so--since he will move I need to go up there a couple times before Christmas and get small things and really clean it well and pack so he can leave before Christmas and have it all ready for the landlord to rent again.

    I've decided that with that stressor thrown into the holiday season--I am not going to try to work. I did that before when moving and it has always made my fibro flare up really bad. Its hard enough with a normal winter holiday to not let myself over do and get stressed. So-- I'm done working --except for one customer who I have told I will do her order if she can purchase this week. If not-- I'm just not able to do it.

    So-- this will give me a little free time too-I'm busy getting this house better organized and cleaned. When I sit down to rest I want to work on gifts or decorating.

    our holidays have been too rushed and stressed several years in a row and I really want to not have to rush.

    I want to enjoy my grand kids--the ones who will be here, and be rested enough to not be cross and nervous.

    I've been enjoying organizing my pantry and hauling some things up to our attic--which I had forgotten I had a nice big attic! So that frees up a lot of space. I can get closets cleaned up and declutter and clean my house better.

    I am also saving milk jugs and soda bottles--to start seeds or cuttings in for next spring. I happened to see a very weedy looking bed near a bank ATM one day about a month or two ago--in the bed was the prettiest cherry red flowered crape myrtle tree with lots of suckers at the bottom all kind of unkempt and messy. So I just grabbed a few while I was waiting for my daughter to get her cash at the ATm. I dipped them in rooting hormone powder and stuck them in a mix of peat and perlite in a milk jug. I cut the top off-- to get them in--and then put it back on to keep it humid. Then I stuck it all in a clear plastic container with lid and put them in a shady spot on my deck. Some did not make it-but looks like I will have 3 trees-- 2 look great, one looks 'ok' so I think they have rooted. I will try to pot them up for the winter in some used nursery pots. They will probably stay in the pots for a year before I plant them in the yard.

    I plan to take cuttings of more things--shrubs in particular and see if I can get enough to landscape at our rental and maybe sell too.

    I'm trying to figure out what the exact cultivars are of some of the shrubs in my yard here. I have a gorgeous old hardy gardenia that flowers in spring--big lovely blossoms that smell wonderful--right under our bedroom window. :)

    There are some other shrubs too. and a bunch of big camellias that have gorgeous flowers in winter.

    Anyhow--i think gardening is an art-- a homemaker can make the garden not only pay for itself--but also make a profit. :)

    I love that.

    Well that's all that is on my mind to share. have a lovely evening.

  2. Hi Mary,
    I'm so impressed about your gardening skills. I wish you lived here so I could learn from you. I also have 6 Crepe Myrtle's you could take slips from. :-)

    It sounds like you have a new goal of helping your husband come home. Does that mean he would be retiring? I can imagine it must be costly to run 2 households. I bet you can't wait until you're back under the same roof full-time. I'm sure you miss him terribly!

    I think you are wise to back off the business while you are helping him so you won't be under too much stress.

    I always enjoy reading your replies! Big hugs!

    1. Retire.. o my no. :) I don't think he'll ever do that. He was thinking of buying a rural trash service--but I think that's maybe fallen through. Next thing is he wants to find a job here--which he has been trying to do. He'd prefer to own a business, or even a couple of them. Cobble together something. He has an idea for paying off the mortgage, but that will not be for a while. The first house has no mortgage and the rent really mainly pays the taxes as we don't charge our daughter's family much since they are working an he is in school--and they don't make much. They are 'holding it' for us until we sell it or use it as a 'real rental'.
      If we hadn't bought this new house he could move home--but this house is the reason he wants to. LOL.
      As for gardening skills--I have moved so much and am in not the best shape-especially for our climate-- so your garden I am sure is better than mine. I learned about propagating & grafting--stuff when doing high school biology. :) Back before we moved from WI. So I learned as I taught. :)

  3. We have this cute table at our church fair where people fill jars with random stuff and the kids win them as prizes. I've been keeping all of my glass jars and lids for this purpose. We had some leftover Halloween candy and I filled 2 jars with the candy and couldn't believe how cute they looked. I'm going to make the lid pretty and tie on a little ribbon and use them for the table. But, I was thinking these would make cute gifts. A child could fill a small jar with some of those odds and ends toys around the house (army guys, erasers, matchbox cars, etc and make a cute present to give to a friend.

    I'm giving out mint jelly, strawberry jam, and raspberry preserves for Christmas this year. I'm also framing some paintings I've made and a few photographs for family. Hobby Lobby has good sales on frames.

    1. Cute idea! I love jars!

      You have a good jump on Christmas gifts with your preserves! Good for you! I made 2 batches of Jalapeno Pepper Jelly. The peppers are from our garden. I made apricot jam from our apricot tree for gifts, too. It didn't set as much as I would have liked. But, I still think it will work.

  4. The back of our house takes the brunt of the wind and snow. I put a tall bookshelf on part of this wall near the head of my bed. I had read somewhere to put bookcases on outer walls to cut the chill. It definitely works.

    It is wonderful that you made a connection with the young mother on freecycle. The Lord likely arranged that :)

    You are truly an inspiration.

    1. I like that idea about the bookshelf. Is it used as a headboard?

      Yes, I do believe the Lord made the connection. :-) I met another Christian on Freecycle and we've become friends, too. I've passed clothes on to her and she passed plants and almonds to me. :-)

    2. No the bookshelf is on the wall beside my bed. It is against a wall that is constantly hit with wind and snow though and it is definitely not as cold with a full bookshelf against it. I remember reading the tip and thinking it was so clever.

    3. :-) Now I understand. Thank you for clarifying. I think a bookshelf as a headboard would freak out my husband but I'd love it! I'd have all my favorite books at my fingertips! :-) It is a clever idea. Thank you for sharing.

    4. One thing I recall seeing from antiques in a magazine is that beds in one place were made with wood up one complete side to prevent the wind and cold from coming through. On the other side there was a heavy curtain. I guess this is similar to a canopy bed where the sides of the bed are really covered by drapery rather than just pinned back for decoration.

      In Prague, I saw that many small cafes had heavy double curtains hung at the door way just before you exited. This prevented or helped prevent cold wind and air from disturbing patrons inside as people entered or exited the cafes. I was thinking that if a person lives in a cold place, they could even hang curtains along the walls to keep the place warm during the winter months.

  5. Georgene G.
    I love to make homemade gifts. Even when I had money I made a lot of gifts.
    We recently moved from a 3 bedroom home that hubby, me, and my son lived in for a year as he was going through a divorce after 20 yrs of marriage and needed a place for his kids to come to. We found a 1 bedroom place that was over 900 sq. ft. It has a laundry room and large kitchen. Plus a garage. My hubby does rock cutting, etc. It cut our rent cost by $330. We do have to pay all our utilities, but we did at the other house too.
    I cook from scratch, and on occasion wash my bread bags, etc. Never thought about brown sugar bags. I believe they are zip lock. It sounds like a really good idea.
    I do not have a garden so been wondering how I could save the water and use it. The hot water heater is at the end of the house by the bathroom and bedroom, so will get really cold. I do filter my water so I do first put the cold water in the filter pitcher.
    As for putting the lids and rings on your canning jars, I did that years ago and the tops rusted on the jars. They collect moisture in the winter, I assumed. I do not know if the rings are made of the same material or not. If they are you may not want to have to scrub off rust. Just a thought. I do save some lids so that I can use jars to store things in the fridge sometimes.
    That is all I know for now.

    1. How do you like your small cottage? :-) I like mine just fine and I like my mortgage payment even more (less than $500 a month including taxes and insurance). I think we can learn from each other on how to live 'small'. :-)

      The water that I save from the washing machine runs out a hose that I move around my flower beds. I don't actually use that water on my vegetable garden.

      I'll have to keep an eye out for the rust on the lids. I've been doing it a long time and don't remember a problem but I'll watch for it. Thanks Nina!

    2. Nanasknoll...have you thought about maybe saving your wash water in buckets to flush the toilets? That might save on your water bill and helps to preserve water too.

  6. I like my little cottage a lot. It allows me to go to the same church and ladies Bible study is just 2 min. down the street from here. Will have to figure out a way to capture the wash water. I was actually talking about the kit faucet water in the morning. You know letting it run to get cold and saving the water that is cold. I thought about getting some pitchers at a thrift store and holding the water and just filtering to drink during the day.
    Thanks for your suggestions.

  7. said it wrong. I meant letting the cold water run till it gets warm.

  8. Hey.It's great how people did this just because they wanted too make other people happy for Christmas. I wish more people would do things like this, just because they wanted to make others happy. It's sad that it's such a big deal when things like this do occur because it's not common.Thank you so much!!
    Romantic Gift Baskets


Thank you for your comment.