Tag Archives: inexpensive gifts

Less is More for Bachelors, More is More for Mommas

My son comes home from college almost every day with a new revelation. I remember those days. You’re filled with the newness of it all and have to constantly discern what’s pure malarky and what’s useful. It makes for interesting dinner conversations.

My son showed me the video below.  Click on the pic to bring you to youtube.com.

image

Hill’s main point was that Americans have three times more living space as 50 years ago. We also have a new  $2.2 billion industry in storage units. Once we fill up our houses, we start filling up storage units.  He says having more leads to:

1. Credit card debt

2. Huge carbon footprint

3.  Happiness levels flat line

His conclusion: Less is best.

As I looked at my overfull house, I had to agree.  In fact, as a mother of six kids, I know if I don’t constantly purge,  the house would explode at the seams.  Nobody can find a pen or a matching pair of socks, but there’s stuff everywhere. In every room.  In every closet. In every drawer.  Under every bed. UGH! He ramped up my ambition to clean, purge and organize in June.

In fact, he made me feel a little jealous. 

  • He doesn’t know what it’s like to open the pantry and have a newly opened box of cereal that was balanced on top of a newly opened bag of pasta fall on his head before he’s had his morning coffee.
  • He doesn’t know that little motion of shoving all the towels in the closet quickly to close the door before they fall.
  • He doesn’t have to throw at least five things off the couch when a friend drops by.

Then, he made me feel a little guilty, until I tried to find his bio. 

  • No mention of wife or kids.  I’m gunna’ assume he’s single, ‘cuz I don’t think he hid a wife and children in the closet of his 420 square foot apartment when he shot his video. The paraphernalia alone for a baby would fill up his space.  A woman with any amount of clothing and hobbies could fit it up at least one time over.  He didn’t mention a roommate, so he didn’t have to accommodate anyone but himself and one hobby – kite surfing.
  • With no yard, no gardening tools. I suspect I own more power tools than he does. Why does that make me feel a little smug?  He probably doesn’t have any old letters from friends, or a picture of him in the 7th grade. I’m 100% certain he doesn’t have any baby teeth or locks of baby hair in a hope chest, either.
  • So, other than kitchen items and toilet paper, Hill  basically only needs 7 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of undies, 7 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, any 4 pairs of shoes.  He’s done.  Each item in a man’s closet matches every other item in a man’s closet.  There are no rules for men’s clothing, just that you wear them.  He has a distinct advantage in living with less by being a male bachelor. 

As my son and I discussed this video and how we could realistically apply this to our family,  I had to cut off our conversation.  I had about 48 hours to make 35 centerpieces for the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, our annual writers conference, with no money budgeted. I wanted to honor our keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, a Christian historical fiction writer, with my decorations.  They had to be free.  Inspirational.  Reflective of her books’ themes.  Vintage.

I was ready for the challenge.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 020

Of course, on the rare occasion that I allow my kids to drink pop, I save the bottles, don’t you?  They’re so cool.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 025

I removed the label with every Mom’s favorite liquid super-hero, Goo Gone.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 022

To make the bottles look vintage, daughter Beka and I roughed them up while watching an old movie together.  On the deck.  In the sunshine.  A moment to cherish.  We were wincing with the annoying sound of the sandpaper on glass (think fingernails on chalkboard) but it was a great time of creating something out of nothing.

I  cut strips of woven fabric, unraveled the edges, then hot glued them around the middle.   I save buttons from everything, and have been known to buy a $.99 shirt at the thrift store just for the buttons.

The glue can be peeled off and the bottles put in the recycle bin if nobody else cares to use the vases again. The buttons can also be peeled off and reused.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 131

The Daughter’s Walk tells of  Helga and daughter Clara Estby, who walked from Spokane, WA to New York City trying to earn $10,000. The Kinship and Courage series tells the story of 11 amazing women who lose their husbands on the Oregon Trail, but continue alone. Vintage maps ripped into squares represented the movement of Kirkpatrick’s characters. Of course, I save old maps, don’t you? Homeschooling/crafty women tend to save weird things.  This paid off.

Inspirational quotes from the novels by Kirkpatrick were written with a calligraphy pen on tags cut out of brown grocery bags and tied with compostable twine.

My OCD is freaking out that the fabric slid to the bottom of the bottom.  It needs to be centered.  If you have OCD, too, either pretend it is centered, or quickly scroll down to the next picture.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 156

I have an old wooden crate of milk bottles.  We use them for drinking glasses when we have a party and for vases. No filling up the dumps with Styrofoam with me, no sirreee.

Vintage is the new green.

You’re probably wondering about the flowers.  Who in the world has enough silk flowers for 35 arrangements?  Well, apparently I do.  I hit this amazing sale when Michael’s was clearancing out their summer/ fall items for $2 a large, black trash bag.  I told my husband to close his eyes, smile, and work with me.  After 27 years of marriage, he understands. We filled the back end of his Jeep. But, for about $12,  I had toys for Bible camp prizes, the birthday basket at our church and Sunday school prizes, plus enough floral picks for two 18 gallon plastic containers.

All you bargain hunters are bemoaning the fact that nothing this good ever happens to you. All you men are SO glad you’re not married to me. Yep, so is my hubby. He adores me. In all my quirky ways.

Renewal Book Table Genre Labels

I continued the vintage theme on our book table, using old bottles, more brown paper and buttons to label the genres.  The small crates were $1 at Michael’s and held business cards and book markers from authors. (These little bottles would also work well to put name tags and/or a flower to mark a place setting for a meal.) Large, wooden crates were used to display books.

So, there ya’ go.  In my 2,200 square foot home, that includes a double car garage, where up to 11 people have lived at a time, (that’s 200 sq. ft. per person)  and I have been hoarding recyclables and craft materials for decades, I created decorations for a writers conference. I made something outta’ nothing.

I guess Hill and I have similar ambitions in life, after all.

1. No credit card use

2. No carbon footprint

3. No unhappiness

More stuff, more happiness.

When I begin that summer purge, I’ll probably avoid the craft room.

 

My Husband Calls Me An Ol’ Bag

Years ago, my husband started calling me

The Ol’ Bag,
short for
The Ol’ Bag Lady.

Of course, he wasn’t referring to my age or my crankiness.

He was only referring to my love for bags.

It started as a light addiction.
On Sunday mornings, I usually had a paper bag of stuff for someone.
It might be hand-me-downs  or books for a homeschooling family.

When gift bags replaced wrapping paper,
baby gifts, birthday gifts, and thinking-of-you gifts,
were all delivered in beautiful gift bags –
usually recycled bags.

My addiction grew.

bags 140

Then, I discovered I could sew my own bags.
and began organizing my house with drawstring bags.

(I’ll reveal later what cool thing is INSIDE this cool bag.)

bags 005

Toys are in bags and sleeping bags are in bags.

I previously blogged about  my system of using a
different tote bag
for each activity in my life.
That’s  also when I first admitted my hubby calls me
this delightful nickname.

So, when I started crafting a wedding gift,
it just had to include some bags to keep up my reputation, right?

Right!

So far, the gift has included

a tin for matches and

a tin for coffee.

Then I had to sew.

Blogging Pics 061

The drawstring bags were to hold more goodies for the gift.

One was filled with clothespins and a clothesline,
the other filled with misc. kitchen utensils.

If you haven’t guessed yet, these few items were part of a
Camping Kit

389335_10150771831172467_263162923_n[1]

for this couple.

525820_10150771831632467_322084296_n[1]

That’s my boy, Dan, and his new bride, Sarah.

I’m pretty sure the highlight of their honeymoon
was my handcrafted gifts,

don’t you?

 

Almost Free Teacher Gifts

I’ve gradually learned thankfulness over the years.  It didn’t come naturally.  For 18 years, my Mom taught me manners, but often I said “thank you”  from compulsion and expectation, not conviction or true appreciation. I knew it was polite, and wanted to be polite, but often I thought that person owed me something, so the thank you was to make me look good.

Afterall, why thank Mom for making dinner?  She’s the mom, isn’t it her job to make dinner?

Then I became a mother.

Why thank someone for a service? They’re getting paid to do it, right?

Then I started working as a busboy.

Over and over in life I realized I failed in thanking others. The biggest conviction came when I studied the Word of God.  Word studies on “give thanks” and “thanksgiving” gave me a deeper desire to improve. The basis of a thankful heart comes from thanking the Lord for our salvation.  Daily we should marvel that the Holy One who knew no sin became sin for us.  How can our hearts not be thankful?

When I learned to notice and appreciate the cost of what I received, financial, effort or time, it increased my thankfulness.

I learned to watch the examples of others as they ministered to others.  One thing I learned was giving little gifts of thanks.  You don’t need to empty the bank account,  pour out from the heart and hands. In other words,  my gifts are simple and inexpensive.

It never occurred to me until I saw others bringing them,  but this year I planned and conquered teachers’ gifts.  You might be thinking I’m pulling a fast one since I homeschool – making my kids give me presents.  They’re for the teachers who instruct my adorable, smart, house-trained kids in a homeschool co-op.

Succulents grow well in our climate and add color to the garden all year ’round.  When the skies are gray for months and months, these babies are always green.  They’re a comfort plant for me, since My mom usually had hen and chicks in her gardens.  This was a $.99 vase from Value Village.

These little terra cotta beauties were in my craft room because I found  a box of them at a thrift store for $1.99.  Who can pass up a bargain like that?  I bought the saucers for our Resurrection craft this spring. I like to plant them into little odd corners between rocks where I don’t want to weed.

This green and yellow plant grows prolifically and brings great color into the fall.  I can’t remember what it’s called and the little plastic identification tag  disintegrated years ago.  Another $.99 pot  I knew would perfectly compliment the plant with no name.

It was supposed to be a quick 5-minute job making the Thank You Flowers. Afterall, I still had flower scraps leftover from the Graduation decor I crafted last May with my Cuttlebug.  Some were  used some to make the Multiplaction Flower Power Manipulative, but there were still shapes longing to be crafted into usefulness.

I couldn’t find my glue gun.  I couldn’t find my 1-inch circle punch. Afater a half hour of hufingf and puffing, my way of expressing frustration, I found everything and glued them together.

DONE!  As long as they survive the car ride in commuter traffic, we should be good to go!

While junkin’, my mom’s term for hitting the garage sales and thrift stores, I also look for mugs with Bible verses  and vintage baby planters.  I also love unusual items, like old tea kettles and coffee pots.

My gifts of thanksgiving were almost free, but they express my heart.  I’m always thankful when someone invests in my children. I want the teachers to know that. A thankful heart overflows in word or deed.

How do you show your appreciation to others in word or deed?

I’d love to hear your ideas, I’m still learning about being thankful!