This year I was not so sure I was going to drag six or seven big boxes of Christmas decorations out and get into the hoopla--or even bother with a tree. Yeah, me! My house is not full of youngster or teenagers anymore and no one will surly be around after the first of the year to help pack it all back up right. I actually enjoyed the thought of watching my neighbors take down their stuff after the first of the year while I was already done, because I never started! After helping some ladies out at a local wreath making all night event, I decided tackling my own Christmas treasure trove was not only good for the spirit and I could really enhance much of my old stuff with a glue gun in hand and some imagination. This would also maintain a very nice Christmas assortment for a future time when there may be grand children running around. See Recycling Old Christmas Wares.
Our favorite Christmas Tree is the Frazier Furr for needle retention, fragrance, and firmness of branches, but we are partial to the Balsam Pine that has big lofty soft needles. We also recommend to whack the base of a new tree just a little with a hammer and soak it in a hot bucket of water over night. The five gallon bucket of hot water should contain 1/4 cup of bleach and a cup of corn syrup before setting the tree up in the home.
In the Christmas present or activity spectrum, I have really grown to like making Gingerbread or Sugar Cookie Decorating Kits for kids or gifts to Mom's with kids, and that involves baking up blank cookies, stacking and protecting them with plastic and ribbon, (I love pink gingham ribbon) and then supplying a side container piled with icing tubes and decorations. I think it is the unselfish act of not being able to decorate them yourself before giving that strikes me as the true part of the gift. The fact it is an economical and creative gift makes it one of my favorites. If you can obtain icings and decorations at good rates, you can make quite a lovely gift. I have one off shoot of that concept and that is to add a box of Cookie Cutters and already made dough from the store. I string the cookie cutters through a pink gingham ribbon like a necklace and wrap the dough in Kraft color paper or so it is not so tacky and commercial looking. Kraft color is almost brown but sure looks beautiful with the pink gingham ribbon.
Rice Crispy Treats to Decorate!
I admit, I saw Barnie's Coffee at the Mall doing this and just loved it. They had cut rice crispy treats out of holiday cookie shapes and then let their imagination go wild with holiday icing and decor. I know this project would also be great and easy for kids. I am also sure you can use crispy treats for the foundation, walls and roof of a Christmas style house. We did not have time to try this before the issue went out but we will hurry to try this, set "blue prints" and submit them to members.
Atkin's Diet for the Holidays: A Present for Myself
If I can drop ten pounds I can fit back into a slew of size 6 jeans I have. I am beating the few size 12's I have to holes. It would be a good gift to myself to be able to wear more clothes and taking weight off often does make you look younger. I am 40 years old. Most people do not believe the photo at the top of this page was taken last summer. Notice no new photos this year!!! I do not diet often, and when I do it tends to stay off a year. Everyone I know, including myself, has jumped back on the Atkin's Diet until Christmas really hits. I even had to print my own shopping sheet from Atkin's Diet for the Busy Professional to remind me of a few principles for success I wrote awhile back. I started preparation a day early, and prepared foods such as sugar free Tang, along with gobs of sugar free Jell-O and other low carb items so they are reality available when I decide I am hungry. As with any diet, it is good to drink as much water as possible and plan a time to walk each day and stick to it. Attention to fiber is critical and to already have a game plan to "keep moving things along." Flax seed oil, castor oil, or other oils may also help. I have heard some consistent serious stories also, but on the other hand I also notice consistent "no hydration" and no thought to the other end of the spectrum. Some people push a good thing to far and it is good to remember "everything in moderation." To me this is such a good diet, many people abuse it and then you hear extreme results about it. Because they were extreme or not designed for this type of diet.
Apple Cider Vinegar Diet I remember as a kid I was stick thin and even belts barely helped to keep clothes on. The main thing that stands out is that I did like vinegar very much and I would drink it right out of a pickle jar or however it came! I craved vinegar. Maybe because it contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Around the age of 12 my doctor demanded I quit that as I I guess it thinned my blood to much or something. I have always had very low blood pressure. Over the next two years I did gain weight and I guess developed out into a size normal for my height. But, it did make sense to me that vinegar does have an impact on metabolism. In no way do I suggest you make the choices that I do about dieting. I am not a Doctor and I may be wrong about my dieting approach.
Because I personally like the Apple Cider theory I will be incorporating it for the first time into my Low Carbohydrate Diet. I will not be using fat burning pills or anything else. Apple Cider Vinegar is produced from the fermentation of apples. Taken in small quantities, 15 - 20 minutes before main meals, Apple Cider Vinegar can help reduce appetite while promoting your body's fat burning potential. Apple Cider Vinegar is often quoted as having additional therapeutic benefits such as helping reduce cholesterol, enhance metabolism, fight infection and relieve arthritic pain. It is now offered in pill forms, but I feel that is just another way to market what is essentially a natural product. You can purchase Apple Cider Vinegar from most grocery stores and administer your own Apple Cider Vinegar programme. Apple Cider Vinegar contains:
The main thing I noticed in my Christmas Decoration Collection was droopy old bows on wreaths, garlands, and candle holders that also may not have matched other bows or decor in the first place. Some taper candles were simply broken and also not matching, so replacing these helped also. Many items are as old as ten years. A few wreaths were simply missing greens or sprigs. Second to my glue gun (or body wax if you are in a pinch) was to commit to a red ribbon and a gold ribbon I liked to replace just about all bows. Gold or silver metallic paint spray would also be a prudent investment for make-overs. During the all night wreath making event, bows were secured to the bare greens first. I thought they went on last, actually, but everything was designed around the bow. The bow was only secured by a pipe cleaner or floral wire to the object. (Click thumbnails for details on Design).
After the bows were all replaced on my decorations, I looked at adding items back in that may have fallen off or never been present. Objects to consider for adornment are: Ribbon, Pine Cones, (you can get them free and spray paint them gold if you like!) Ornaments old or new, (I am going to make an entire wreath this year just out of some old ornaments and a few new ones!) Angels, Silk Flowers such as Poinsettias, plastic berry sprays, pearls and strings of pearls, plastic fruit such as apples or pears, mini presents, candy canes, candles, horns, and/or icicles. You have to really think what you like as your main focus and work it through all of your decor. I like pine cones spray painted gold or left natural as a less commercial and traditional approach along with lots of ribbon and a few adornments. My work partner in the wreath making event was very bold and stuck big Teddy Bears in the middle of her wreaths and simply secured the bear with a glue gun. When she pulled out the first bear I looked at her and said "You are not going to hurt that bear are ya?" Well, she did stick him in there, he looked great and that wreath alone will sell for $75 or so. I may be pulling out my kids old bears and trying that too. Note, it does take about three yards of ribbon to make a nice bow. You may consider buying already made bows of they are under $5.
Beyond wreaths, garlands and candle holders, there are the actual tree decorations and stockings. You may want to inspect these, let them kids help paint and refresh older ones with glue, glitter, hand paint, decoupage', or simply spray paint. For the stocking maybe attach names more clear. (We just hand write names with glue and sprinkle with glitter.) For serious tree decor and theme you may want to bring in twenty huge pine cones, spray paint them gold, and attach hangers and maybe ten smaller pine cones to incorporate into the revamp of your wreaths and such. This would be a great and economical addition to your collection. After the lights go on, I garland my tree with fat ribbon that matches my other bows and decor. Then I place the pine cones and then the glass bulbs and such. If you had to pay for such gilded pine cone ornaments I bet they would be $5 each at least and that would be $100 if you just bought the twenty. This does not include the added savings of placing smaller cones into your old wreath designs! Also consider getting a gold or silver metallic pen and hand writing beautiful messages in glass bulbs. I also like to top some of these bulbs off with tiny bows that match the larger decor. I did my tree first actually, so I could what product was left over to glue into wreaths and such. The pine cone above was dipped in paraffin to act as a fire starter. See our fire starter series from last year. A basket of these with a big bow to go by a fireplace also make an very impressive but economical gifts.
Regarding Christmas lights, ugh, the main thing that goes first into the tree, I hear some department stores just throw theirs out at the end of every year and repurchase new ones. Lucky them. Yes, lights are not much fun, and do need to be inspected first. This will also make it easier to know if you have to pick up replacement bulbs or light sets anyway before you even get into the fun stuff. My shopping list was very small for this revamp, and a few items I had anyway: Glue gun, lots of ribbon, metallic paint, pine cones, and new candle tapers. Also get your ornament and/or wreath hangers before everyone runs out of them.
I hope you have a ball with this idea and let me know if you found another twist that worked for you along these lines.
Some women have the most amazing stuff in their bathroom they never use! Since we love to take items such as old cold cream or facial mud masks and melt them down--putting them into melt and pour soaps and such, we are offering to "recycle" your "stuff" as long as it still looks safe. For any pound of material that comes in we will send the giver a 4 ounce bar of soap, pillar candle, or other interesting item we make during our local classes and so on. The sender should have a return address envelope clearly made out so we can tape it to the box and mail finished product back to them with ease. We also request $5 made payable to Mabel White to offset shipping, even though return shipping may be more. If it is, we will cover it. There is an assumption here you may send about 4 pounds of various products to obtain four finished products. Customer preference of models or products they have seen on our site are OK and we will try our best to accommodate. We do not think we can deliver by Christmas but we will try. This is a new program will be on-going unless we become overwhelmed with UPS men. This program will save us from buying unusual clays and such and offer our customers nice gifts back. Example items we would like, but hey, you can get creative, would be:
Ribbon or bees wax sheets would also be great. If you want to pack any of these items all in a coffee can with a lid, that would be great, as we go through those too and dispose of them when done. We could use wax paper, wooden spoons, measuring cups, and any soap or candle bases you may have bought but never ended up using. Thanks!
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