Bargain Alert!

I found a great product, just arriving in The Dollar Tree stores, that won’t last!  And if you don’t think you need them, you may change your mind when you check out the suggestions I have for their use!

What is it?  Large bamboo poles (apx. 5 ft. tall x 1″ – 2″ in diameter).  Although they vary slightly, in height & diameter, I found most of them to be fairly large.  Typically, bamboo poles cost $5-$7 each in DIY, craft or floral supply stores and  make great decorative accents.  At this price ($1.00), they are very affordable and will provide inexpensive inspiration for you!

Here’s what they look like (in the store) to make it easier for you to spot them, or when asking your local Dollar Tree staff where to find them. I found them hovering between the (teeny) craft section and toy dept.

s_reeds_distance_red

Distance photo (for size scale)

s_reeds_closeup_red

By the way,  I didn’t see this item on their website, so it is probably an “in-store” item only.

The first (and easiest!) suggestion I have for you is to place a few inside a large planter, vase or pot to use as a trending, contemporary and nearly care-free decoration (just a little dusting once in a while).  It would look great inside OR (because they’re weatherproof) outside, as seen in one of the photos below:

76118_0_8-8338-contemporary-living-room

Consider a greenery base to avoid dust inside the container

Great with the new, trending Asian decor

The perfect accent with the current, popular trend of Asian decor

Consider adding a light!

Add lighting (in container) for a super-contemporary look

s_vase_1_red

Because they are weatherproof, they make the perfect outdoor accent

Another great idea is to use them to create your own fencing.  There are tons of DIY instructions for many versions of this type of project (on the internet),

from easy to complex!

bamboo bountyfence

Bamboo_fence_backyard xscapes

You could also use them as inexpensive curtain rods, “as-is”, spray painted or bundled!

gardeners cottage blog_curtain rod

photo courtesy of The Gardener’s Cottage.
For a thicker rod, bundle several together & use 2 pre-made finials or unique wine bottle stoppers as finials

etsy bamboo rod

photo courtesy of etsy shop “Copper Bamboo”

And if you’re handy enough to hang a couple of rod holders on the wall, you could use them as a shower curtain rod in a tropical-themed bathroom:

Bamboo-Shower-Curtain-Rod

Create your own floor lamp!  Or cut smaller pieces for a table lamp.

lamp

Or how about an accent to a wedding reception centerpiece?

wedding reception

Need something sturdy to help you support your garden greens?

garden

How about making a DIY frame to hold bamboo creating an inexpensive Privacy Screen… inside OR outside your home?

Adding some lighting creates even more ambiance!

bamboo fencer blog_bamboo-room-divider

OR, do you need a privacy screen from the “Sun”?  Then, use them to create a cover for your pergola.

photo courtesy of Beautiful Bamboo Blogspot

photo courtesy of Beautiful Bamboo Blogspot

Ok, as long as we’re talking back yard, HERE’S a project for ya!  Buy a bunch to create your own Tiki Bar.  LOL 😉

tiki bar

I absolutely LOVE how great they look glued to the back OR front of a mirror to create inexpensive wall art!

[clicking on either of the next 2 photos will open a separate internet window with each of these creative blogger’s free tutorials]
2.15 Mirror 1

photo courtesy of Savvydesignwest.com

photo courtesy of Domestically Speaking blog

photo courtesy of Domestically Speaking blog

And, of course, my favorite…. as part of a fountain… ahhhh serenity!

safaffect blog_fountain

photo courtesy of Saaffect.wordpress blog

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

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12 Gifts for 12 Personality-types for $10… or Less!!

[CLICK ON ANY PHOTO to view it larger]

Still scratching your head for gift ideas?  Well, since we have finally reached the 12 days of Christmas, here’s some budget-friendly suggestions that I hope will help.  Each one is $10 or less and some of them even make terrific stocking stuffers!

mags

For the Reader, Crafter or Hobbyist – a magazine on their favorite topic (there are TONS of new ones out there!)  Simply wrap it around their favorite sipping beverage and tie it closed with a length of ribbon, tied in a bow!

tire gauge

For those who have to spend a lot of time in their car

a Digital Tire Gauge is not only easier to use, but a great reminder to keep their tires inflated, for safety and better gas mileage,

-OR-

a Personalized Car (removable) Decal for their car window.

Consider their Monogram:

initial decal

Tons of these on ETSY

Family Members:

Click on photo for website

Click on photo for website

Or Fill in the Blank to create a Customized Decal:

Click on photo for site

Click on photo for website

For the Gardener – a basket of herbs.  Recycle one of your own baskets & tuck in 3 easy-to-grow, popular herbs.  My favs are Rosemary (Roasting small potatoes in fresh garlic, rosemary and olive oil is SOOO DELISH!), Cilantro & Parsley

Photo courtesy of www.Givingplants.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.Givingplants.com

For the Cosmetic-aholic – I know the store of “choice” these days is ULTA, however… I have found a new, inexpensive brand of make-up in Target, called “ELF” (LOL- this brand sounds as if it might have been made just for me, but actually, it stands for “Eyes, Lips, Face”).  It’s incredibly inexpensive and everything I’ve purchased works just as well, if not better, than the expensive brands!  Some facts I learned about them… they are: eyeliner

  • High quality
  • Hypoallergenic and non-comodogenic and their ingredients are listed, for each product
  • NOT tested on animals nor do they endorse such practices
  • NOT derived nor do they contain animal ingredients
  • Supportive of HSUS and are partners with PETA in the Caring Consumer Project

My favorite is the creme eyeliner and it comes in 11 colors, glides on like butter and stays in place without cracking or smudging.  Best of all… it’s only $3!  Here’s their website for more product review: http://www.eyeslipsface.com.

soap barAnd if you’d like to introduce someone to more natural products, consider a bar of natural soap, or make it yourself.  Once you’ve tried natural soaps, you’ll never go back!

For the Snacker, 2 suggestions (and P.S. – making several of these, at once, is a great gift idea for co-workers, neighbors, teachers, salon employees, etc.) –

Mini trays of either veggies & dip OR fruit & dip OR both!  Who wouldn’t enjoy receiving a healthy snack they didn’t have to make themselves?  And if you choose to give the fruit, don’t forget to try my family’s heirloom Fruit Cream Dip (the “How To” is located under the RECIPE tab on my website).  Party stores have small (condiment-size), lidded plastic containers or ask your local restaurant if you can have or purchase some of these to use with the dip so it won’t spill on the way.

a_veggie tray

If you would prefer to satisfy their sweet tooth, try your hand at making these easy cocoa dippers.  Purchase mugs (Dollar Tree), small box of regular-size candy canes

candy canes semi sweet morsels   marshmallows

peppermint chips

regular-size marshmallows, a bag of semi-sweet chocolate morsels and a bag of Andes Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips.mug and cane

Break off a section of the tail-end of a candy cane (so the remainder can hang freely from the  lip of the mugs, with apx. 1-1/2″ to spare, to allow room for the marshmallow). see photo on right for approximate length

Push the broken end end of the candy cane into a marshmallow.  Melt the  mini chocolate morsels and roll one end of the marshmallow in it.

a_cane in marshmallow    a_coating marshmallow

Crush some of the Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips (with the back of a spoon).  After dipping the marshmallow in the chocolate, immediately roll the chocolate end of the marshmallow in the semi-crushed chips.

a_crushing peppermints     a_completed

Allow to dry/harden and you will now have the most wonderful treat, when used as a hot cocoa dipper!  Place 1 or 2 in a plastic baggie, use ribbon to tie it closed and tuck it into a mug with a packet of hot cocoa mix.  Wrap it up or give it just like that!

cocoa dipper

For the CookCL mag

the 25th Anniversary issue of COOKING LIGHT just came out, with all of their best recipes, in magazine form so that really keeps the cost down!

Upgrade or replace one of their older cooking utensils, i.e. an ergonomic potato peeler or a sturdy, bamboo wooden spoon or spatula, etc.  Or, introduce them to a new kitchen tool on the market, ldishwasher 1ike a funnier dishwasher alert magnet or unique drink “ice mold”Eek!  Shark Fins! like the shark fin one pictured here. LOL

wine stopper

Target

For the wine connoisseur – Bottle Notes!  This new tool doubles as a bottle stopper and note board (write dates or how the wine tasted to you on this mini dry erase board)

For the Entertainer

Handmade set of Coasters (I love this idea I found on a website called Crafting Green World.com) and I included the link for details & directions:

scrabblecoaster

Click on photo to visit site

For the Organizer – dec hooks

Who couldn’t use a little extra hanging space, but not all of us are handy.  Solution:  look at how beautifully dressy “over-the-door” hangers have become!

baster duoFor the Grill Master –

2-Pack of Basters with reservoirs

grill light

Click on photo for link

Magnetic, battery-operated, LED Grill Light (found this one at Bed,Bath & Beyond for $8.99).

Or, an Apron with pockets for tools AND slots for drinks! (disclaimer: okay, I found this on the internet for $13.90 so it’s a little pricier, but provided they don’t fall over -with the weight- what a funny gift!)

grill apron

For the Designer – a decorative tile featuring their home to display on a stand…. turning it into a design feature!  This is totally do-able if you are artistic.  If not, you can always take a photo of their house and transfer it to the tile (here’s a link for directions I found on whatIlivefor.com: http://www.whatilivefor.net/2010/06/mod-podge-photo-transfers.html).

house tile_a

HELPFUL HINTS:  1)If you don’t have a laser printer, most copy shops do, and 2) be sure to find out the “Year” they moved in so you can hand paint “Established _____” somewhere on the tile also.

batonFor (my favorite) the Sentimentalist –

This requires a little detective work, accomplished by having some 1-on-1 time with the gift recipient so you can (covertly) ask questions & garner “CLUES”about their youth, i.e. favorite hobby, toy, an old skill they have that you didn’t know anything about, etc.  Doing this will give you an idea about something sentimental that you can help them revisit, via a gift.  For example, I just found out (during one of those 1-on-1 times) that a BFF used to be a majorette.  So, I headed to the toy store and brought a $7.99 hot pink baton, which I plan to wrap & give to her as a sentimental LOL.  She’s going to LOVE it!!  And you better believe that I plan to ask for a demonstration of her whirling & twirling skills of old… I can’t wait! 🙂

MERRY CHRISTMAS and…

Enjoy the Creativity!

EILEEN

P.S.  Next week’s blog post... a Yummy SNOWFLAKE BREAKFAST!

Spring Garden Project

Do you have some mis-matched plates, saucers, bowls, cups or votive cups tucked way in the back of your cabinets?  Or, maybe you have a chipped or cracked plate that you inherited from a relative and just can’t throw away?  Even if you don’t have any of these items, you can still enjoy the following project, I saw at my local garden shop, by shopping for the ingredients at thrift stores or garage sales and the end result will be an adorable keepsake for your garden.

When looking for the ingredients to make these flowers, the best combination is typically a dinner-size plate, bowl, tea cup, votive cup, old vase or salt-cellar.  Tap into your own style & creativity, however, keep in mind that coordinating colors makes for the best & most attractive combination.  Also consider colored glass (as one of the pieces) to create the most artistic drama in the sunlight.

Sometimes, people drill holes in the center of each ingredient and then bolt them together, however, it is much easier to glue each of the ingredients together using a weatherproof, clear adhesive called GE silicone II for Windows & Doors.  The flowers above were professionally made and the artist went to the trouble of crafting green metal leaves to weld onto a green metal stem, but that is totally beyond my own capability and I’m guessing yours as well.  So my solution is to purchase re bar (available at hardware stores) and spray paint it green.  I also love the ease (shown in photo on right) of gluing a small, straight-sided vase to the back plate of your flower (upside down) so your creation can be easily propped on top of your newly green, re bar stem before placing it in the garden.

Some helpful hints: 

  • ONLY work in a well-ventilated area (like outside)
  • Protect your work surface
  • Have a cloth rag handy to wipe any excess glue, especially off of you (lol)
  • Practice first!  Put your combinations together, before gluing, until you are happy with the completed flower look you create
  • As you place your combinations together, use chalk, a pencil or masking tape to mark around the outside of each area where the glue will attach, so you won’t have to re-position the pieces
  • Apply the adhesive to the back of each piece, at the highest, protruding point
  • Press each piece gently & firmly in place and wait at least 10-15 minutes between placements for the silicone adhesive to set up.  If it doesn’t set up in apx. 10-15 minutes, it may be old and you should return it to the store.
  • Wait 48 hours before placing the finished flower in the garden.  Use this time to spray paint your re bar green!
  • Consider using several different lengths of re bar to create different flower heights in your garden

Below are some closeups, you can click on to see a larger view and more detail.  Hopefully, they will inspire your own creations… they certainly inspired me! 🙂

             

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

Last Minute Christmas Decorating Ideas

[click on any photo to see a larger view]

Are you finding that shopping, card sending and party-attending has left you with very little time to create holiday magic in your home?  Then, here are a few ideas you can try.

Ribbon is definitely your friend, in a pinch.  Below are a few photos (I took in a store) that demonstrate that idea perfectly, and they highlight both indoor & outdoor items.  Obviously, stores can’t afford to completely switch out merchandise for each holiday season, so they learned a long time ago that adding (holiday-appropriate) ribbon to an everyday object creates an instant holiday feeling!

      Don’t have any ribbon handy?  Head outside and trim some greenery from the garden.  You can add that to anything – OR – simply place ornament balls on top of candle holders or in any container, like I did in this bowl – 

The ribbon idea also works great for outdoor decorating –

And finally, here’s a cute outdoor “CANDY” idea.  There is something special about gumballs, so I rolled out a (apx.) 2 ft. length of plastic wrap and placed a ball at one end, in the center (I found these leftover last year at Michael’s Craft store… I don’t think anyone knew what to do with them… lol).   Next, I rolled the ball & plastic wrap forward.   I cut an apx. 12″ length of ribbon and tied a single knot around the plastic wrap, at each end of the ball.   I took some additional ribbon and created 3 loops, then placed the center of the loops in the center of the tied length of ribbon and tied a 2nd single knot to secure the loops.   This created a bow on each end, which I fluffed  and finished by trimming the excess plastic wrap on each end. 

Below is the finished look.  I used them in my goat cart in the front yard.

Enjoy the Creativity!

Eileen

EASY (Child’s Craft) Gift for Dad on Father’s Day

DAD_HAPPY_FATHERS_DAY_CARD_

 

This idea was born as a Elementary School project prior to Mother’s Day.  The teacher had no funds then or prior to Father’s Day for the kids to make something special to take home to their favorite people… their parents… to honor their special day.

Of course, you can just create this sentiment and frame it, or do what I did and go to a local frame shop and ask if they have any FREE scrap pieces of foam core board or heavy matting.  Cut the donated piece into a rectangle or square.  Check the bins at discount and craft stores for very inexpensive ribbon (there’s always a roll of plaid ribbon).  Add a few strands of VERY inexpensive raffia along with a few pieces of silk greenery as well as some golf tees, etc.  You know…. match Dad’s personality or hobby.

Spell out Dad’s name on a piece of paper and ask the child to think of a word or a way to describe their father that starts with each of those letters.  Type and print it on the computer (see photo), including any misspellings, where applicable, for a touch of quaint realism.  Plus, you’ll enjoy looking back at that part for years to come.  NOTE: at the top, I typed “MY DAD” and at the bottom, I inserted “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!  LOVE, (insert child’s name) and the year” into a text box.  Then, help your child glue their trimmed (to fit) paper onto a piece of foam core board or heavy matting and embellish their sentiment by gluing a length of the ribbon around the outside of the paper, creating a “frame”.  Add your other embellishments by next, gluing them in the corners.  If you want to make this a hanging sentiment, simply punch a hole in each corner of the matting/foam board, feed each end of a cut piece of ribbon (apx. 4-6″ long) through one hole and repeat on the other side.  Knot the end of the ribbon length on the back side of the foam core, after feeding it through.  Or, check dollar stores for a fold-out easel to use as a stand, creating a desk display.

This project takes very little effort and minimal cost to accomplish, but will be treasured by Dad (and Mom, on Mother’s Day) forever because it was a descriptive sentiment expressed from their child’s heart, at a moment in time in their child’s life.  How much more precious can something be? 🙂

If there are children or grandchildren in your life, please do yourself a favor and check out my book as well.  It’s stuffed full of MORE budget-friendly traditions & ideas… all the things I did to create fun and provide memories for my own 4 children.  You’ll find it in my SHOP (above) and…  Thank you! 🙂