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Category Archives: Gifts

Being Green (in the tub)

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A month or so ago, a friend of mine had to move suddenly from Prague, and left me with a nice bottle of bubble bath that she had used once.  We don’t use bubble bath around here, what with our uber-sensitive skin, but my penchant for procrastination meant that the bottle hung around for a week or two.  I couldn’t decide what to do with it, since it was nice stuff, but who can you give a bottle of partially used bubble bath to?  Except me, of course…

Then, I was cruising around a new to me blog, and swiped this idea for Monster Bubble Bath.  Actually, all I did was add neon green food colouring to the bubble bath and pour it into a new jar instead of making it from scratch, but hey, it will be perfect for my nephews.

Don't you love the color?

Don’t you love the color?

I love being able to repurpose stuff, and what little boy won’t enjoy bathing in monster green bubbles?


Counting blessings

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This week seemed to be full of little austerity pleasures, and I just wanted to share a few…

We were out of jam, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found some rhubarb leftover from a visit to an aunt last year.  I made enough jam to last us through the next month, and even though I’d never made rhubarb jam before, Husband and Daughter are quite pleased…  (I’m not really an accomplished jam maker anyway, but winging it worked out well in this case.)

Daughter has a birthday party this weekend, and somehow I managed to knit a lacy scarf as a gift with bamboo yarn I had in my stash.  Daughter made a card, and now we’re set for a gift, without ever having left the house…

Daughter also decided, of her own accord, to make lavender water for the birthday gift.  I added a slug of vodka to keep the solution from going off (you can’t smell it after a few hours), and then we labeled it and added it to the gift…


A gift from the heart - a handmade card, homemade lavender water, and a knitted scarf

A gift from the heart – a handmade card, homemade lavender water, and a knitted scarf

I threw together this honey lavender cake with lemon-basil frosting with what I had laying about the house, with just a few hours warning.  The cake is divine, and I’m even more impressed that I didn’t even have to go to the store…

Daughter starts a reading club soon, and the book isn’t available on Kindle or at any of the libraries here.  I was gnashing my teeth about spending a ton of money for a book in English, but then I checked my list of books that Daughter has already read.  It turns out that I bought the book for her at a charity shop on a trip to London, and she read it so quickly that we left it there for my nephews.  She remembers the book well enough, so the problem was solved, without even leaving the house…

I’ve been trying to buy new cookie sheets, but had been having a really hard time getting the size that would fit in our oven.  On the third trip to the store, I managed to return the second set of cookie sheets and get ones that were the correct size (I was clever enough this time to bring one of my old ones with me).  It turns out that the store was having a big sale, and I ended up saving quite a lot, though it took me three trips to the store…

Over the summer, I found two new (to us) libraries with loads of English books for Daughter to read.  They know us well enough now that they let us take out twice the number of books if we need to, which we did for our trip to Croatia last week.  As I returned twenty books to various libraries, I was reminded of how little we pay for the privilege of reading all of those books.

Lastly, I managed to salvage a pair of Husband’s beige trousers by dying them black.  They came out more of a very dark grey, but Husband is happy,

Homemade Christmas Craft Along – Week 9

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I’m a bit late on this one, but I’ll post anyway.  My thoughts this week turn to wrapping, and I am reminded of my previous post on the topic here.  I wrap gifts in plain paper off of a big roll that we buy at IKEA for Daughter, and then I let her draw all over the packages.  All the previous years, she has drawn princesses and fairies, but this year she has moved on to Christmas images.  I knew this time would come, but I still wasn’t ready for it.  So it seems we will be celebrating Christmas this year with nary a princess nor fairy.

Daughter has also taken responsibility for writing out gift tags.  She alternates between cutting and designing her own or using some pre-made ones.  If push came to shove, I might also give her some address labels to color, cut and decorate.

We don’t really do ribbons on gifts for ourselves, as it seems to be very wasteful and superfluous.  If we do use ribbon, it is usually something that can be used again, perhaps out of the sewing box, or raffia that  has come off of some other package.  We do have a stash of that plastic stuff that we use for packages that need to be very socially presentable.

We also have a small stash of gift bags and proper wrapping paper, but I really dislike braving the shops at this time of year, fighting off everyone else trying to buy wrapping materials.  I have gotten quite good at preserving what comes our way throughout the year, and Martha Stewart has some nice ideas for using up wrapping papers, and there are also some general nice ideas of wrapping with odd things here.

Finally, before you throw out all the wrapping paper at the end of Christmas, be sure to check out these ideas of re-using wrapping paper.  I love the tray and the matting ideas.  I am actually kind of excited to see if I can re-use some bits, especially for Daughter to brighten up her room.

Christmas Craft Along – Week 8

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I wouldn’t normally post another blog page again, but Soule Mama just put up her list of Christmas crafts, and I am swooning.  Here is the link to her list.  I am particularly swooning over her bread bags and lip balm.

I won’t leave you hanging though, because I’ve hit on an old tradition that has all but died out.  I’ve convinced Daughter to learn some more traditional carols to perform for us on Christmas Eve.  This works for us because we live in a non-English speaking country and we don’t hear English carols very often, so hearing them is always a treat.  Still, I think it is a nice idea and could easily be complimented by a puppet production of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas or a Christmas Carol.

Do you have any similar ideas?

Handmade Christmas Craft Along – Week 7

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Oh, I missed it by one day, and I haven’t been able to post it over at Crunchy Catholic Momma either.  No problem though, because this week is a total cheat.

I swiped the link to this page about links to 21 gifts parents can make for the kids from somewhere else, but I am in love.  Really, some of these are within my time and resource means and won’t overwhelm me.  I especially like this one about magnetic paper dolls, which will be perfect for Daughter’s birthday party.  (I know that technically isn’t Christmas, but it’s on Boxing Day, so it counts in my book.)

So, yes, I cheated by borrowing someone else’s work, but I’ll take it as spreading someone’s great ideas around.  Enjoy, and let me know what you like.

Handmade Christmas Craft Along – week 6

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Here we are again with another Christmas Craft Along, and I am on a roll…

(crickets chirping)

Well, truth be told, I made this lap blanket back in the summer while Daughter was away, and I saved it for Christmas (or her birthday, maybe, but it’s on Boxing Day, so it’s still Christmas).  The pattern is simple enough, just casting on how wide you want it to be, then K2tog and then increasing again when the band is wide enough.  It came out of my favorite knitting book, “Weekend Knitting: 50 Unique Projects and Ideas"" “Weekend Knitting, and I played with it a bit given the wool I had available to me.

To complete this gift for our little reader, I am going to wrap up some books from my secret stash of books I find in charity shops.  When I ever I go to Britain, I raid the charity shops for books I think Daughter or Husband will like, and then I bring them back to Prague.  This means that I always have a selection of books to chose from for gifts and holidays, and I am not out the stratospheric cost of getting books in English here.

Handmade Christmas Craft Along – Week 5

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For this weeks Christmas Craft Along, I am going to share a very labor-intensive project.  A friend, who knows both my love of shawls and Daughter’s love of the Little House books, sent me a link to a Little House Shawl Pattern from Rhythm of the Home.  I fell in love with the shawl, didn’t read the pattern (who does though?), and committed myself by buying a beautiful pink wool to knit it with.  I then realized that you need to cast on 396 stitches before you even get started, and that it took me the better part of 20 minutes to knit one row.  Throw in the shawl slipping of the needles a few times because of the weight of the wool and then losing a ball of wool completely, and this became a project to be reckoned with.

Needless to say, I finished it, managing to keep it mostly hidden from Daughter in the process, and I am happy with the result.  Now I am just praying that Daughter isn’t going to lose it or accidentally felt it, or something along those lines.

Since Husband has returned, I also have pictures…

Here is a detail of the Old Shale lace pattern on the edge.


a bird’s eye view of the shawl.  I can’t wait to see it on Daughter!