Four Cards in 10 Minutes
Greeting cards - birthday, get well, sympathy, new baby, thank you and so on, are expensive. Even from the $2 shops these days they are, well $2! It used to be you could get five cards for $2, then it was four for $2, then they were $1 each, and now you pay $2 for a very simple, very boring cheap card.
You don't need a lot of special equipment to make cards, and you don't need a lot of fancy papers and stickers and other embellishments.
And best of all, you don't need a lot of time.
In just ten minutes, you can make four beautiful cards, for less than the price of one from a $2 shop. Best of all you can make them to suit the recipient by personalising the greeting, the colour, the embellishment.
To make these four gorgeous cards in under 10 minutes you will need:
4 coloured card blanks
(4) 5-1/4" x 2-1/4"" black cardstock
(4) 5-1/4" x 2" white cardstock
3/4" Circle punch
Small hole punch
Step 1. Take the black cardstock and using the 3/4" circle punch, punch out 7 circles, leaving a narrow border. Punch 5 small dots from the remaining black cardstock.
Step 2. Stick the white cardstock to the black cardstock, being sure to hide the holes.
Step 3. Stick the black and white cardstock to the card base, leaving a narrow border at the top and sides.
Step 4. Lay out the black dots. When you are happy with the pattern, stick them down using tape runner or liquid glue.
Step 5. Stamp your sentiment to the bottom left corner of the card.
Step 6. Stick the small dots to the bottom right of the sentiment.
Repeat for the remaining three cards.
Crochet Towel Toppers
This is a very quick and easy topper to add to a hand towel. I love to give them as gifts, sometimes with a bar of homemade soap, sometimes with a knitted dishcloth.
You will need:
1 tea towel, cut in half (you get two hand towels from the one tea towel)
Crochet cotton to match
3mm crochet hook
Hem the raw edge of the tea towel.
Work a row of chain along the top edge of the tea towel. This is your foundation row.
Row 1: Ch. 3, skip one chain, work 1 tr.t in each chain to end of row. Turn.
Row 2. Ch. 3, skip one tr, work 1 tr. in every second tr. to end of row. Turn.
Row 3. Ch. 3, skip one tr, work 1 tr. in every second tr to end of row. Turn.
Continue in this manner until 5 treble remain. Turn. This forms the "handle" of your towel topper.
Work 1 tr. In each chain to end. Turn.
Continue in this manner until handle measures 10cm.
Next row: Work 1 tr. In first four chain, ch. 2, skip 2 tr., work 4 tr. In next four chain. This forms the buttonhole.
Next row: Work 1 tr. In each ch. to end. 10 tr. Turn. Repeat this row twice.
Sew button in place.
Your towel is finished.
The towel in the photo cost $1.50 to make.
I buy handtowels and pretty tea towels from $2 Shops, on sale at Kmart or Big W and sometimes from the op shop if they are in very good condition (i.e. new). Supermarkets often have lovely tea towels, but wait until they come on sale for $2.50 each or less.
From Debt Free,Cashed Up and Laughing
Pretty cups and saucers can be used for more than just afternoon tea. This candle in a tea cup is gorgeous, and cost almost nothing to make.
I used a 50 cent cup and saucer from my favourite Op Shop, a candle we already had that was a little out of shape, a length of cotton string from the kitchen drawer and a few drops of lavender essential oil to scent it.
They are quick to make too, about 15 minutes all up. This candle cost me 50 cents. I saw a similar thing at Coles yesterday, in their Mother's Day display, for $11!
A Candle in a Tea CupYou will need:
1 tea cup and saucer
2 or 3 coloured candles
Cotton string (or a candlewick if you have one)
Your favourite essential oil
Hot glue gun
An old fruit tin or similar for melting the candles
A large saucepan
Step 1. Using your hot glue gun, glue the cup to the saucer.
Step 2. Break your candles into smallish pieces. Put them in the fruit tin. Fruit tins are ideal for this step as you can throw them away when you are finished. If you do use a saucepan, don't use one of your favourites or you'll be cleaning it for ages. Wax is very difficult to remove completely. Use a fruit tin and avoid the stress (and the work).
Step 3. Sit the fruit tin in a large saucepan. Fill it with water to about half way up the side of the fruit tin. Bring the pot of water to the boil, all the while stirring the melting candles. Once the water is boiling, turn it down to a simmer. Continue to stir the candles as they melt.
Step 4. Cut a length of string twice the height of your cup. Dip the string into the melted wax a couple of times to stiffen it.
Step 5. Carefully pour a tiny blob of melted wax into the bottom of the tea cup. Stick one end of the wick to the bottom of the cup.
Step 6. Holding the wick straight (you might need someone to help you here) fill the cup to the brim with the melted wax. As the wax cools it will form a slight dip in the centre. Melt any remaining wax and fill the dip.
Add embellishments to the rim of the cup, the handle and/or the saucer if you wish to.
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I loved school holidays. Having the kids home was pure joy for me. It not only gave me an extra couple of hours in my day (no school runs), but our days were relaxed and easy. I planned easy meals, didn't fuss too much about tidying up toys and games and scheduled an extra special outing or two to keep us all entertained.
We also had a list of over 200 things to do, most of them free, all of them cheap, that would keep everyone happy and entertained during the holidays. I even threw in a few household chores - after all, not everything has to be pure entertainment and chores can be fun.
I've published the list before, but here it is again, just in time for the winter school holidays. School hols start here in Victoria tomorrow, so, if you are struggling to end the "there's nothing to do" whines, choose a few things off the list, and then have fun.
• ride bikes
• roller blade
• play board games
• make a tent out of blankets
• squirt with hoses - but don t waste water
• run through the sprinkler
• have a skip-a-thon
• start researching your family tree
• start documenting your family tree
• organise and plan a family reunion
• hold a family reunion
• read books - visit your local library and try some you haven t read before
• blow bubbles
• colour free templates you've downloaded and printed
• play with play dough
• press flowers
• do crafts with pressed flowers - make a start on your Christmas cards
• write a letter to a relative, friend or pen pal
• clean bedroom (one of my favourites)
• vacuum living room
• clean bathroom
• make a craft - try something new
• make homemade play dough
• pull weeds
• give your favourite person a surprise party
• watch a movie
• write stories
• use binoculars - look for as many different things as you can
• use magnifying glass
• use microscope
• bird watching - how many different breeds can you find in your backyard?
• write a play
• act out a play
• invent circus acts
• perform a circus
• play card games (snap, old maid, go fish)
• make art on the footpath with chalk
• play catch
• play baseball
• collect rocks
• collect leaves
• collect feathers
• play Frisbee
• make Frisbees out of old plastic lids, decorate with markers
• dust the house
• brush the pet
• write letters to the editor of your local newspaper about articles you are interested in
• read a magazine
• play dress-up
• play Cowboys
• pick vegetables and then help Mum cook dinner
• play outside with the pet
• build a fort in your rooms
• build a fort in the backyard
• do a jigsaw puzzle
• play on the computer
• surprise Mum and Dad with breakfast in bed
• listen to a story or book on tape
• do extra schoolwork to get ahead
• do brain teasers (i.e.: crosswords, word searches, hidden pictures, mazes, etc.)
• prepare lunch
• surprise a neighbour with a good deed
• play shops
• prepare a "restaurant" lunch with menus
• hold a tea party
• have a Teddy bear picnic
• play with toy cars
• play dolls
• play house
• chase butterflies
• collect caterpillars and bugs
• plant a garden or a pot
• collect seeds
• hunt for four-leaf clovers
• learn magic tricks
• put on a magic show
• plant a container garden
• sprout seeds or beans
• grow a grass head
• make sock puppets
• put on a puppet show
• make Christmas presents
• make homemade wrapping paper
• make homemade gift cards
• make picture frames from twigs glued onto sturdy cardboard
• crochet or knit
• make doll clothes
• sew buttons in designs on old shirts
• run relay races
• make bookmarks
• take a quiet rest time
• take a shower or bubble bath
• bath a pet
• feed the birds
• watch the clouds
• organise a dresser drawer
• clean under the bed
• empty dishwasher
• vacuum under the couch cushions and keep any change found
• write these ideas on pieces of paper and pick out one or two to do
• whittle bars of soap
• practice musical instruments
• perform a family concert
• teach yourself to play a musical instrument (recorder, harmonica, guitar)
• fold clean washing
• sweep kitchen or bathroom floors
• sweep front paths
• sweep back verandah
• sweep driveway
• wash car - on the grass, of course!
• vacuum car
• vacuum or dust window blinds
• clean bathroom mirrors
• clean sliding glass doors
• clean inside of car windows
• wash bicycles
• clean garage
• play in the sandpit
• build a sandcastle
• work with clay
• copy your favourite book illustration
• design your own game
• build with blocks or Lego
• create a design box (copper wire, string, odds-and-ends of things destined for the garbage, pom-poms, thread, yarn, etc.)
• plan a neighbourhood or family Olympics
• have a marble tournament
• find a model train club and see if they have visitors at their running days
• take your bikes to the local BMX park and have a picnic and a day of riding
• spend an hour or two at the local skateboard park learning some new tricks
• paint a picture with lemon juice on white paper and hang it in a sunny window and see what happens in a few days
• finger paint with instant pudding
• make dessert
• make dinner
• have a sleepover
• have a pamper party and paint your nails
• make popcorn and watch an old movie
• make toffee with Mum
• make pink or blue (or whatever colour) pancakes for lunch
• give your pet a party
• start a nature diary
• have a read-a-thon with a friend or sibling
• have a neighbourhood bike wash
• play Kick the Can
• check out a science book and try some experiments
• make up a story
• catch butterflies and then let them go
• arrange photo albums
• find bugs and start a collection
• do some stargazing
• decorate bikes or scooters and have a neighbourhood parade
• play hide-and-seek
• create a symphony with bottles and pans and rubber bands
• listen to the birds sing
• try to imitate bird calls
• read a story to a younger child
• find out what's on at the Library and then go have free fun
• find shapes in the clouds
• string dry noodles or O-shaped cereals into a necklace
• put together a family newsletter
• write reviews of movies, plays, TV shows or concerts you see during the summer
• bake a cake
• bake a batch of biscuits
• decorate a shoe box to hold your treasures
• create family scrapbooks with old photos
• glue noodles into a design on paper
• play hopscotch
• play jacks
• make up a song
• make a teepee out of blankets
• write in your diary
• find an ant colony and spill some food and watch what happens
• play charades
• make up a story by drawing pictures
• draw a cartoon strip
• make a map of your bedroom, house or neighbourhood
• call a friend
• cut pictures from old magazines and write a story
• make a collage using pictures cut from old magazines
• do a secret service for a neighbour
• plan a treasure hunt
• make a treasure map
• make up a "Bored List" of things to do
• plan a special activity for your family
• search your house for items made in other countries and then learn about those countries from the encyclopaedia or online
• plan an imaginary trip to the moon
• plan an imaginary trip around the world, where would you want to go
• write a science-fiction story
• find a new pen pal
• make up a play using old clothes as costumes
• make up a game for practicing math facts
• have a Spelling Bee
• make up a game for practicing spelling
• surprise an elderly neighbour or relative by weeding his/her garden
• Finger paint with shaving cream
• collect sticks and mud and build a bird's nest
• write newspaper articles for a pretend newspaper
• make a hideout or clubhouse
• make paper airplanes
• have paper airplane races
• learn origami
• make an obstacle course in your backyard
After you've made your choices, use the Holiday Fun Planner to schedule all that fun, so you don't forget what you've planned or over-schedule (holidays mean down-time too). Stick your Holiday Fun Planner on the fridge so everyone can see what's coming up and have something to look forward to.
Make a Cloth Shopping Bag
Now the supermarket plastic bag ban is in place here in Victoria, shoppers are going crazy trying to decide what they're going to use, not just for the groceries, but for bin liners (that seems to be the biggest re-use of plastic grocery bags).
I've used cloth bags since Aldi opened. Don't get me wrong, I too use plastic bags for bin liners, but the come from other stores (fruit and veg, butcher, department stores) or they're given to me.
I also use cloth bags I've made. They're easy, cheap and usually very sturdy. Buy the calico or denim or homespun on sale, or recycle it from shirts, jeans, skirts, dresses you no longer wear to save money.
You can buy plain calico totes at craft stores, they're not expensive, if you don't think you can make them.
Here are the instructions for a couple of bags I made a couple of years ago. The instructions use bought bags, but by all means make them if you can.
Vintage Rose ToteYou will need:
Calico or plain coloured cotton tote
A picture to fit the tote
Iron-on transfer paper*
Step 1. Wash and dry your bag. I like to pre-wash the bags so that if they shrink they'll do so before the transfer is applied. Iron it.
Step 2. Find an image to use as the transfer. I found this image here: http://www.freeprettythingsforyou.com/ Make sure it is going to fit onto your tote. I usually print the image then use it as a template to work out the placement of the actual transfer.
Step 3. Follow the instructions on your transfer paper to print then apply the transfer to your tote.
And voila - in around 30 minutes (more if you can't make up your mind about the image) you have a lovely and unique tote to use or give as a gift for around $6.
This is a tote with an embroidered pocket. I embroidered the piece of fabric for the pocket (it only took a few minutes using the sewing machine) and then attached the pocket to the front of the tote. You'll need a sewing machine with a free arm for this or you'll need to unpick the tote, attach the pocket and re-stitch the seams.
*Spotlight and Lincraft sell iron-on transfer paper, but it's expensive. Buy it on sale (at least 40% off to make it cheap enough). You can also get it at Officeworks, where the packs are bigger, bringing the price per sheet down. Again, wait for a sale if you can. I have found it in some $2 shops too and it seems to be just as good a quality for a fraction of the price.
You can make really pretty and unique baubles for your Christmas tree with just sewing thread, paperclips and two or three different, recycled gaudy necklaces made of large beads. Just string one large bead with two, three or five large ones and use a paperclip to hang them on the Christmas tree. You'll find a wonderful assortment of necklaces at any op shop for just $1 or $2 each and you'll get a lot of ornaments from one necklace.
How to Make a Willow Wreath
Willow wreaths are so easy to make and they look lovely, either as they are or decorated. I use small willow wreaths to decorate our Christmas tree. If you want to use them for the same thing, you need to make them now so they have time to dry.
To make a small willow wreath, approximately 5cm in diameter you need one long or two short willow strands.
Step 1. Strip the leaves from the strands.
Step 2. Take one strand and twist it into a small circle. Weave one end around the circle to secure.
Step 3. Take the other end and weave it in and out of the circle until you reach the end.
Step 4. Tuck the end into the weaving to secure.
Step 5. Lay the wreaths on several thicknesses of newspaper and place them in a warm, dry spot (in front of a sunny window is ideal). Turn the wreaths every day or so. Leave them for a month until they have dried.
To decorate use craft paints to spray them gold, silver or red. Use a hot glue gun to stick berries, flowers, bows or other embellishments. Cut a 10cm length of narrow ribbon. Fold in half and glue raw edges to the back of the wreath. Let the glue dry then hang by the ribbon.
Where to find willow: Weeping willows grow all over the place. They were once very common but have fallen out of favour due to their creeping and invasive roots. You'll still find them in parks and along creeks and waterways, or even along the side of a country road. I make Wayne stop at the picnic area between Goulbourn and Yass every time we are coming home from Sydney so I can collect a few more willow strands (the willows are on the southbound side of the freeway, which is why we stop on the way home). If the willow is on private property ask permission before taking just the number of strands you need to make your wreath.
Glitter is fun to use. It adds sparkle and shine, and wonderful colour to lots of different craft projects. Kids love to use it on posters and cards and on dough crafts. Mums love to sprinkle it under the Christmas tree or on a bedside table as fairy glitter and watch little faces light up with wonder and delight when they see it.
The problem is glitter is expensive. And it gets absolutely everywhere. Well not this homemade glitter. It's so cheap it's ridiculous, is really easy to clean up, safe for kids to use and can be made whenever you need it because it only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.
To MOO glitter you will need:
Table salt or sea salt, depending on whether you want fine or chunky glitter
Air tight jar
Turn the oven on to heat to 180 degrees Celsius. Put your salt in small dish and add 1 drop of food colour. Stir with a fork to mix the colour through. Add another drop if you want darker colour. Make sure you mix it really, really well so the colour is evenly spread through the salt.
Line a biscuit tray with baking paper. Spread the salt on the tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Let the glitter cool on the tray. Store it in an airtight jar, and use it just as you would regular glitter.
Shared from Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
One of the things I love about living the Cheapskates way is the challenge to re-purpose things. Sometimes it's things we no longer use, often it's things we have never used but have in the house, just waiting for a purpose.
Over the years I have collected a lot of vintage linens and I love to turn them into things I can use, things that make me smile and make our lives as a family just that little bit more comfortable.
Today I made a scosie from a lovely old tea towel. I have been waiting for the perfect project for this tea towel and the scosie was it.
A scosie is a scone cosy, a simple way to keep fresh scones warm while on the table. After all scones with jam and cream go much better when the scones are warm. You can use new tea towels, but vintage tea towels add a charm that new fabric just doesn't have. Waffle weave or toweling tea towels will keep the scones warm until the last bite. For a prettier scosie use printed cotton or even tulle and lace.
To make a scosie:
Step 1. Use a dinnerplate to trace 2 circles onto your fabric. Cut around the edge of each circle.
Step 2. Finish the raw edge of each circle with bias binding. Add any lace or ric rac embellishments.
Step 3. Use tailors chalk (or a very light pencil) to divide one circle into six wedges. Place the marked circle on top of the second circle. Sew along the lines.
Scosies make a lovely gift, especially if you fill them with scones and present them on a vintage plate.
Shared from Debt Free, Cashed Up and Laughing
I love these pretty face washers with crocheted trim. They really are pretty, adding a nice touch to the bathroom. And that crocheted trim isn't just pretty, it's practical too. It reinforces the edge of the face washer, making it stronger so it lasts longer before getting tatty and needing to be re-hemmed or put in the cleaning cloth pile.
I'm self-taught when it comes to crochet. I like simple patterns and I usually make them up as I go along. Basic crochet is simple; there are books showing the basics, YouTube has hundreds of tutorials showing you how to get started and of course there are websites and blogs in the thousands with simple instructions to get you started.
You don't need expensive equipment either. A 4mm crochet hook will cost around $3.50 and will last you forever if you remember to keep it somewhere you can find it.
Crochet cotton can be bought on sale. One ball costs around $5, often less at $2 shops and specialist wool shops or online, and you'll get 3 - 4 face washers trimmed from one ball, depending on the pattern you work.
The photo is of children's face washers. I've done them for a friend's new baby. They make a lovely gift and when our children were little they'd get a new face washer of their very own in their Christmas stocking each year. I'd buy the face washers on sale through the year and work on them when they were in bed at night. We still have a couple of Barbie washers and Batman and Thomas the Tank Engine washers in the kids' bathroom!
Add a cake of lovely soap to a trimmed face washer and you have lovely gift for just a couple of dollars.
But crochet trim isn't just for face washers. It goes well on hand towels too.
And pillowslips look lovely with a crochet trim.
Work a trim edge around a square of linen and you have a beautiful doyley.
It doesn't take long or cost a lot to add a pretty crochet trim to your household linens.