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!

How to make – Large, faux CHRISTMAS CANDY Decorations

Every year, pool owners purchase these inexpensive (apx. $1.00 each) 5-foot, foam “noodle” floats.  Eventually, they fade and are, many times, thrown out.   As always, I LOVE to think of ways to recycle and repurpose things (instead of adding to the landfill) and came up with a creative idea, using  retired pool noodles.  Of course, you can also buy them new (on clearance – post summer!) to make this project too.

My vision was to create several large, faux candies (for holiday decorating), mainly because they’re lightweight and won’t weigh down (tree, wreath & garland) greenery … PLUS, they’re inexpensive!

ONE

Begin by deciding approximately how long you would like to make each piece of candy (I chose 9″) and divide that number into the total length of the pool noodle to determine how many you’ll be able to cut from each one.  Mark (that individual measurement) along the length of the pool noodle (using a black marker) and then, carefully cut (using a knife) through the foam at each marking, on a safe surface.  I ended up with six (6) lengths, apx. 9″ each.

TWO

Choose a gift wrap, scrapbook or tissue paper to cover them with and cut pieces large enough to wrap each (cut) foam piece and wide enough so you have extra to fold down at each end of the foam piece (to hide the end of the foam).

To create a neat closure, fold over one end (of the length) and place one foam piece, in the center, at the other end.

Before you roll the foam piece up in the paper, add 3 pieces of double-sided tape along the length of the fold, half on the folded paper and half on the underneath (blank) side of the paper.

Now, when you roll up the foam piece, the tape will automatically secure the paper (closed).  Unless you want to, don’t worry if the pattern doesn’t match up perfectly because that will be the “back side” of your ornament.

Fold down the paper on each end and use a piece of regular scotch tape to secure it.

 

THREE

Repeat the paper cutting process (above), but this time using clear, plastic basket wrap.  This time, however, make sure the length is even longer (by 6″).

Place your gift-wrapped foam length in the center of the plastic wrap, at one end of the width.  Before you roll it up, once again, add 3 small pieces of double-sided tape on the other end (of the width) so the plastic wrap will automatically close, after rolling up the foam candy in it.  Also, try to line up the 2 closures (paper & plastic wrap) and that can be the back side of your ornament.

FOUR

Cut two (2) lengths of ribbon, using one to tie each end (of the plastic wrap) closed, displaying the bow on the front/top side of the ornament.

When you’re done, you’ll have inexpensive, lightweight Christmas candy decorations for approximately 50 cents each.  I found that mine tucked into my holiday greenery easily without the aid of a hanger.  But, if you’re using them to decorate garland, add a length of fishing line (tying it to each end, before adding your ribbon) as an ornament hanger.

I’m excited to share with you how I used mine in one of The Seasonal Home 2012 Christmas designs this year… so stay tuned… COMING SOON! 🙂

And don’t forget to consider this idea for other holidays!

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Inexpensive Gift Idea: CHRISTMAS SCENT Simmering Potpourri

If you’re looking for a little something special, to surprise your Thanksgiving guests with, consider this idea to kick off the holidays.  Placing one at each person’s place setting would be a wonderful new tradition you could start this year!

This Christmas Scent Simmering Potpourri is a great gift idea because it is inexpensive, all natural, you can make it yourself, and it’s a gift that lasts all season long!  And you can create several of these scent mixes to help you cross several people off your Christmas gift list also… at once!

Consider it for – friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, babysitters, nail techs, hair stylists, favorite postal worker or restaurant server, etc.

First, you will need to gather the following ingredients, in a large enough quantity to make the desired amount of gifts.

Ingredients

  • CLOVES
  • CINNAMON STICKS
  • DEHYDRATED ORANGE SLICES
  • CRANBERRIES (optional)

Look for inexpensive sources for these products to keep costs down.  Here’s where I found mine:

  • Cloves at The Christmas Tree Shop (57 cents per jar)
  • Cinnamon Sticks (check out the Spanish section of the grocery store for a large bottle of Badia Mexican Cinnamon Sticks – typically under $10)
  • Dehydrated Orange Slices (Home Goods -$2.99 for a bag of 16 slices.  Remember – Home Goods, Marshalls & T. J. Maxx are all the same owner, so you have 3 places to look for them! 😉
  • Cranberries ($2.50 in the grocery store produce dept.)

And if you prefer to save even more money and have a little time to devote to the process, here’s the directions to make your own, oven-dried Orange Slices (makes apx. 18 slices)

Ingredients

  • 1 navel orange, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  2. Cut the orange into thin, round slices
  3. Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or a (nonstick) baking mat and lie orange slices (on top) in a single layer.  Do not place them directly onto the baking sheet or the slices may discolor when they react with the metal
  4. Gently pat the orange slices dry with an absorbent kitchen towel to remove most of their moisture
  5. Use a sifter to lightly dust one side of the orange slices with confectioners’ sugar.  Flip and repeat this process on the other side of the orange slices.  (the sugar creates a slight “candied” look, which is great for presentation purposes or if you decide you’d like to hang some from a ribbon in your tree, wreath or garland.
  6. Bake apx. 2-1/2 hrs, turning half-way through (more often if you feel ambitious! lol) until the peels are dry and their flesh is translucent
  7. Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the slices to cool completely
  8. If you would like to reserve some of your orange slices to create “orange-aments”, use a sharp knife to open a small slit (between the peel and flesh of the orange slice) and slip a skinny length of ribbon through.  Tie both ribbon ends into a knot and hang… they look great when hanging in front of tree lights or a window’s light and smell great!

To assemble your Christmas Scent Potpourri:  add 1/4 – 1/3 cup of Whole Cloves, 3 – 5 Cinnamon Sticks, 2 – 3 Dehydrated Orange Slices and 10-12 Fresh Cranberries in each bag.  I also have suggestions for ways to give this gift:  in a small bag (plastic or paper), with instructions included.  Click HERE to download and print the “INSTRUCTIONS” tag I created so you can add it to your package also.

Give the Christmas Scent-filled Bag by itself -or- add it to a holiday theme take-out container

or place inside a mini potpourri crock.  I found the electric crock below at The Christmas Tree Shop for only $4.99:

but they are also available at Bed, Bath & Beyond for $9.99 and if you use a 20% off coupon, they will cost you only $8!

ENJOY THE CREATIVITY!

Eileen

Inexpensive Easter Gift Ideas

Being the mother of 4 children has taught me to be creative  & thrifty when it comes to gift ideas.  With Easter around the corner as well as many other gift-giving occasions in the near future, I thought I would share some of my favorites I’ve either made, myself, or come across.

Small Children – gather up some of their forgotten tiny trinkets & treasures or explore yard sales for new ones and place them in a container, along with rice, silica pellets or small beads to create a personalized I SPY container.   On the left is one that you can purchase in the store for apx. $25.00  OR, you can fill an empty (and dried) water bottle, 1-liter bottle, lidded jar or sew a small pillow and insert a clear vinyl window.  Just remember that once your container (of choice) is filled to your satisfaction, you should add strong glue to the lid before placing it on the container.  If you’re sewing the container, add a little sew-safe glue to the seam before stitching, similar to this small pillow version I saw on etsy.com –

Seller: The Crafting Corner

Older Child Option:  by the time a child reaches their teenage years, they typically have TONS of what-nots lying around that are too special to throw away, like concert ticket stubs, a favorite, long-ago treasure from a gumball machine, childhood race car, tarnished (but still loved) ring, coin from their trip to another country, etc.  So, why not give them a permanent resting place inside an I SPY container, like the (pictured) window-pillow.  What a cool & sentimental keepsake, to take, when they go to college…. literally, pieces of home!

Children of ANY Age:  One year,  I had noticed bars of soap with money inside being sold in stores.  You could not see the money, but they guaranteed that a certain number of their bars contained larger bills.  I thought the same thing you are thinking right now…. it won’t be in the one I purchase!   However, in craft stores, you’ll find glycerin soap making products (many times, they’re put together in a kit for around $14.00) like – clear glycerin soap base, soap mold tray, a bottle of fragrance and instructions… typically enough for 5 soap projects.  When I made these for my own children, I was able to put in the size bill I wanted and it was a HUGE hit.  This idea is great for an – Easter, Graduation or birthday gift as well as a cool stocking stuffer.   Plus, it will not only be a useful gift, but also rewarding for the recipient!  Here’s a photo of a nice example I found, on a cool website that features recipes for homemade bath products –

Teenagers and up: For a long time, the smallest gift card you could purchase was $25.00, but now any of the local drug stores (Walgreens, etc.) carry several gift cards in $10.00 increments. 

An Edible Goody for Kids of  ANY Age:  Do you remember the candy dots on paper?  Rachel Ray has a FREE recipe for these old fashioned goodies that you can try.   And if you want to personalize them, consider spelling out the child’s name (with the dots) rather than just putting them on the paper in rows.  Wouldn’t this idea also be a COOL placecard at your holiday table.  Now that I’ve thought of it, I guess I should try it this year!  I’ll post it when I do. 🙂

For Grown Children – Guys or Gals: If you’re having a super tough financial year and need something absolutely FREE to tuck in an Easter basket of a teenager and up (in age), head to your local department store in the mall and ask for SAMPLES of the latest perfumes, or for men… cologne. You can usually pick up several at no cost and it gives the recipient the opportunity to try them out before they buy, the next time.

I hope some of these ideas work for you or at the very least, help you to think of something else that would  (also) be a perfectly inexpensive basket stuffer. Please feel free to share your ideas in the COMMENT SECTION (below).

Wedding with an Oriental Theme

Check out my CREATIVE book, under the ABOUT THE AUTHOR tab~ it makes an AWESOME GIFT!

These photos are from a wedding where I made the floral bouquets and centerpiece, in a very simple & low-cost design.  Photos were taken with older camera, so I apologize for the poor quality.  The bride’s bouquet was made with silk orchids and long grass, accented by a bow.   For the bridesmaids, I added silk orchids and a bow to a simple oriental theme fan.

For a centerpiece, I made a simple arrangement, but added pink tinted bamboo, which I tied together at the joints to create a structure within the arrangement.

Bride's Bouquet

Bride's Bouquet (Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.)

Bridesmaid's Bouquet

Bridesmaid's Bouquet (Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.)

Oriental Theme Table Arrangement (full view)

Oriental Theme Table Arrangement (full view) - Design/Image/Idea copyrighted by Creative Family Traditions. All rights reserved.