The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Getting ready for Christmas. Show and tell part 2.

This is another show and tell post! The last one showed lots of amazing things you all have been making as Christmas presents. That one can be found here.
If there are ideas right for you there is a little time left otherwise make a note of them for next year. We are starting a Christmas challenge in January to make things all year. So having ideas ready to go will be a big help.

Apart from the money savings making my Christmas presents means I can give to many more people. Even people I don't know. This adds a lot to Christmas!

Firstly Debbie has been very busy. I always knew she had many talents...
She made mini Christmas Cakes...

As Debbie did you do not have to buy special tins to make small cakes. If you have nothing suitable save tuna tins or others, wash them up and they make perfect cake tins.

Debbie has made up hampers...

And this is amazing...  she is giving her Grandson a train set. She painted a board green to set it up on. This can slide under his bed when he is not playing with it. How beautiful does this look? And can you imagine a little boy over this present!?

If I have a Grandson I am doing this!

Rosanne has been crocheting dish cloths in the shape of an angel. Lovely for Christmas...

Barb W has been making cards. Barb also makes packs of cards to give as gifts.

Leigh from A Chat Over Coffee has been making Candy Bouquets. These are a great gift for everyone from neighbors to teachers and nieces and nephews!

She saw these as an expensive item in a shop and made them up herself instead. You can find instructions here.

Thank you everyone! I love seeing what you are all making. It is brilliant.

As I said before making gifts and cooking gives me a lot more gifts to give. I have a basket of extra gifts to be able to give out at the nursing home to ladies I don't know. I love this! I couldn't hope to do it if I didn't make things all year round.

Last time we were talking about having confidence to give handmade gifts. It took a while for me to reach that point. This time I want to tell you something that has stuck with me for many years.
We have all probably had that time when time was short and we were desperate to get a gift and so spent way too much money. In part this is the gift and in part it is the desperation to rescue the situation.
For some people I guess all Christmas shopping is like that.

Making things and also spotting amazing bargains and putting them away all year helps prevent this last minute syndrome. But the biggest thing that changed my mindset was something Laine said. She was telling how she manages gift giving in her budget and how she had needed a gift and she had $3. What stuck with me was that keeping within her budget was more important than the pressure to get the gift.
To stay within the money her husband brought in (which was budgeted down to the last cent) and to not get into debt was the first consideration. And so she set about finding something with that $3.
Remembering this has stopped me from doing MANY dumb things over the years!

If you still have gifts to get before Christmas have pride in a lovely hamper of your cooking like Debbie's or a gift you assemble in a stylish way like what Leigh did.

We are all busy now. It goes without saying this time of year! But I hope we can all find enjoyment in it and spot people that we might not of thought of that we could help in some small way. Then we really feel the Spirit of Christmas. xxx


  1. What great Christmas projects, they inspire me to get going on making a few last minute gifts. Thanks to all who shared, and thank you Annabel for posting!

    I totally agree with you about Laine's gift budget being an inspiration. I printed out many of her letters years ago and they have helped guide me too. I need to go re-read the sections about gifts...I spent way over budget this year, which cut into other categories in my budget (I did not go into debt, but I was not very wise with spending). I notice that I when my life gets really busy (as it has been lately), I seem to use money to buy my way out of stress, which explains why I have overspent on gifts this Christmas.

    On a positive note, I have been cooking at home more (thanks to your blog and to Mimi's), which saves me money in my food category.

    Blessings from the USA!!

    1. Dear Teresa,
      I think this is what happens to us all. You put it well... we buy ourselves out of stress! I hope that the challenge in January might be helpful as it has helped me so much to have made things all year.
      Well done on cooking more at home. Remember there is nothing wrong with easy things some nights ie toasted sandwiches etc. We do that many times!
      I am so glad you also read Laine! Here advice has stuck with me so long! With love and thanks,

  2. I love this post. I love the idea of using cans for little cake tins. How amazing. I would have never thought of this. I love all the gift ideas above. I plan to do the candy bouquets. I am making a memory scripture box for my dad and aunt. I plan to do a reading basket for my mom with some classics I find in resale book stores, with some homemade goodies. I found some cheap cozy socks and scarves like just a few dollars. I am wrapping them up for my nieces. I am doing a puzzle basket for my mother in law. She loves puzzles. So, I am collecting puzzles and making her a special basket of puzzles. Those are my ideas so far.

    1. Dear Chrissy, My friend saved about 20 tuna tins for these cakes. Her husband turned over the sharp edges with a hammer. Every year she used these for Christmas cakes. They were the perfect size. Then she decorated them. During the year she made little birthday cake gifts in them.
      Your presents sound beautiful! Very personal and considerate. With love,

  3. Oh I also plan to make a prayer journal for my ladies prayer coordinator at church. I am so excited to start this in January. I have always waited until December and I end up making unwise decisions. I am plan to be very intentional in doing this with you all.

  4. Lovely post Annabel. You and Andy are such beautiful, generous souls. The world needs more like you. With love, Lisa

    1. Thanks Lisa, We can all do a little extra to be kind. That would help. I think people need help to manage and feel encouraged. Thats always on my heart... to try and encourage. Thank you so much, Love

  5. Thank you for posting this Annabel. I love to see what others are working on and everything looks so good! I will start baking soon, but can't do it too far ahead or the wood burner dries everything out. The photos of food always make me hungry though! LOL

    1. Dear Vicky,
      I love seeing what everyone is making too. Especially your Mum! That will be included next week! With love

  6. Dear Annabel, thank you for this post , I love seeing gifts that others make Also thank you for putting photos of my cards in your blog post today, I have never had something like that happen before , apart from sharing photos of my cards on forums. Thank you so much Annabel. I need to make a few more cards and then I will be pretty much finished my Christmas gifts. I do need to make chocolates and rocky road and choc chip biscuits ( cookies) but other than that I am done. Thanks again Annabel. Love Barb.

    1. Dear Barb, Thank you for sending them to me! I love all the things you do to try and ahead and also help others.
      I am planning rocky road too! It is so nice to be able to give and it just takes a bit of effort and planning. Thank you so much, Love

  7. Hi Annabel. Could you please provide a link to A Chat over Coffee. I presume it is a Blog? Thanks Michelle

    1. Dear Michelle, Yes that is a blog. Where it says "you can find the instructions here" that is the link to the blog and instructions you will need. I hope that helps. Love

  8. I personally love homemade gifts. I recently met a younger woman who is 28 and she was making all her gifts and was worried that some of her family would make fun of her.I told her that then they had no idea what the true meaning of Christmas and to hold her head high. My grandma whom I loved dearly, she's been gone over 30 years, made granny square slippers I loved them. She always gave us a box of things she had made or had gotten over the year loved them.

    1. Dear Tealady, I am glad you encouraged that woman! I hope her gifts are a great success. I love your Grandmas slippers. They would be very nostalgic for you now. With thanks,

  9. Love what everyone else is making and I'm happy to see my gifts there. I hope they help inspire others to make a few things to save money.
    I think people like getting things that we make for them it is more personalized.
    Thanks you Annabel. Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      Thank you! I am saving your idea... I wont forget it either! Also... I have seen on pinterest... if a little boy is mad on dinosaurs... it is a deep tray, box or drawer filled with stones and rocks and dirt, "trees" etc and then toy dinosaurs live in here and wreak havoc. lol Well it looked really good and I can just imagine a little boy having a great time. I dont know if your GS is into dinosaurs... or maybe not yet!
      I hope your gifts are a big hit but I know they will be.
      With lots of love,

  10. Annabel, I too love seeing what others are making. On my 'next year's list of things to make for gifts' are home made cards. Thank you to you and everyone else for sharing! It is so inspiring!

    1. Dear Patsy, You will love card making! But you have done a lot this year with all the sewing! With lots of love,

  11. What truly lovely gifts! Those food hampers look just gorgeous. And the crochet angel is so sweet. Handmade card sets are such a thoughtful and practical gift. And a candy bouquet would be right up my alley! Well done everyone, they are fabulous. Couldn't agree more Annabel, there is going to be one very happy grandson come Christmas morning :)

    Thanks so much for posting these pictures Annabel, although I'm mainly sorted for this year, they are giving me some really nice ideas for next year. I just remembered another idea I saw that I really liked that there's still plenty of time to make. Here in NZ we have cookie samplers that come out in boxes or tins which have a selection of 'favourite' packet biscuits in them, displayed nicely. They are typically about 1kg boxes. Last year I was watching a Christmas special and the chef on there made her own handmade cookie sampler. She used a basic cookie recipe (you know the kind with butter, condensed milk etc), and made about six different varieties using the same base. Some she dipped in sprinkles, others she topped with almonds, some had edible lavender through the,. Then she gifted them as a sampler. They looked wonderful. Of course you could use different types of cookie base too, and could put them in the freezer and then have a day of baking and putting them together. I would definitely enjoy that gift!

    Enjoy your week :)

  12. Thank you so much, Annabel, for sharing the candy bouquets! It's an honor to be included with so many other lovely gift projects.

    And thanks also to everyone for their kind feedback on all of the projects. What a sweet, generous, and talented group of readers are here!

    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Its such a good idea. I keep thinking of versions... from colour themed (pink) to seed packets (garden) to morning tea etc.
      Thank you so much for the great photo. With love

  13. Dear Annabel and everyone, your home made items look wonderful!
    Life has been very busy here with hubby moving back home with his job, and our house exterior painted and roof replaced and front verandah updated for safety.So I haven't been keeping up .Most of my gifts are wrapped and ready ,but cards for posting - well not many will be sent this year, although I had hopes of making them , time ran away. I will keep that thought for next year now the craft supplies are tidy.
    Annabel , your Christmas cake recipe is delicious, we have cut into one cake , the workers have sampled it too , mmmm they say :-) . I've been hunting for some cake and biscuits tins to store baking in, and last week hit the lucky spot when I found a set of 3 tins (made in USA) which were expensive , reduced down to 1/3rd the original price, Im thrilled!
    I too have made gifts that were not appreciated , but I think over the years one starts to hone one's skills and how we present our home gifts.Like Laine with her $3.00 for gifts , some of my best have been when unexpected moments arrive and time poor and wanting to keep to my budget, Ive made eg truffles out of cake leftover bits and dipped in chocolate and they got rave reviews at a dinner party my aunt held.If I'd had plenty of time to think and make, I don't think it would have had the same effect.
    The builder's are still here and happily munching on homemade buttered fruit loaf ,birdseed bar and honey oats biscuits, and leftover smoothie from my brekky (it makes 2 huge glasses, so I had a medium and gave them 2 mugs).
    I will try and keep up here, such a lovely caring community you have and everyone is so talented ,young Emma too , how well you/she is/are doing.
    Sorry this is getting long , but Ive caught up on a few older posts, Harper is dear wee baby , I bet your heart is bursting with love for her!
    Before the workers started here with help of my grandson now 4, and his sister 2.5yrs, we planted little plots of vege seeds and sunflowers, little realizing that the scaffolding and workers tools would get in the way of looking after these growing plants. The scaffolding is down now and today master 4 has taken 4 long slim radishes roots and leaves to kindy for show and tell, he is soo proud and loves planting things, and at the other end of the spectrum he loves being in the kitchen helping. Miss 2&1/2 joins in to copy but loses interest.
    A Happy and merry Christmas to you and all your readers.With love , Maria xx

    1. Dear Maria,
      You have had a lot going on! It will be nice when the work on the house is all done though.
      Thank you for the feedback on my cake. Because it keeps so long it is a very handy recipe or cake to hide away.
      Yes I just love being a Grandma. Now I know how you feel and it isnt something you can explain to someone, like Motherhood! But it is wonderful and Harper is just gorgeous and endlessly entertaining!
      Also a first Christmas... that is special.
      Thank you for this update Maria. A fair bit and a few adjustments with DH working back from home.
      With lots of love, Annabel.xxxx

  14. Annabel, I was reading a lovely book, "A Woman's Christmas", published by Victoria magazine back in 1995, and this comment just jumped out at me: On page 47, "Gifts, to be conferred with grace, need only be well-considered, not expensive. Everything needn't come in a fancy box - some of the nicest gifts make their appearance in baking pans, flowerpots, and sewing baskets." I just thought that was SO appropriate in light of your post and wanted to share. Thank you for your blog! Kathleen in IL

  15. Thank you for sharing ladies. These are wonderful!

    1. Thank you Leslie! I hope you have a good week! xxx

  16. Dear Annabel, More lovely gifts! And great ideas. Thank you everyone for sharing. I have been sewing and working on getting presents done.

    I love the idea of using tuna cans to bake breads in! Many years ago, I washed out 8 or so canned soup cans and used those to make my raisin bread in. They turned out so cute and I had forgotten until lately.

    Have a wonderful week! Love, Teri

  17. Annabel, what you say about taking pride in your home made gifts is a very valid point. I've heard of people making disparaging remarks about home made gifts, and I've even had it done to me, and it really knocks the stuffing out of you. But the key is to simply build up a reputation as someone who takes the time and care to gift the RIGHT home made gift to the right person. Sure if you gift jam to someone who is on a sugar free diet, you can be fairly certain that one will either end up in the bin or re-gifted. If you gift home made alcoholic liqueur to a teetotaller, the same will happen. This too, is a lesson I learned the hard way. Listen to people, take their décor and colour preferences and lifestyles into consideration, and make them feel like the gift you've made, was made especially for them. Have an ever expanding repertoire of skills that encompasses many gifting choices from cooking, to sewing and crafting, to knitting and crochet, to beading, calligraphy or whatever. Everyone can be good at something, and probably several 'somethings'. You just have to work out what they are. My earliest and most successful home made gift, was Chicken Liver Pate` when I was just 19. My friends would clamour for it, and I only made it at Christmas. It was so easy and inexpensive, yet so luxurious, and the most costly part was the pate` knives which I always included to make them look more professional! Of course, now you could buy those online for mere cents I'm sure. I did that pate` for literally years, and I was 'famous' for it in my social circle. Everyone can be 'famous' for something. You just have to find your 'something', and perfect it. Gosh that was a long! Love, Mimi xxx

    1. Dear Mimi, You were ahead of me at 19! Thats for sure. Very luxurious.
      It is true what you say about a gift being suitable. It is true whether homemade or purchased to be a success. I think I will put it in the challenge next year to keep a note book. In mine I note the colours of everyones kitchens and bathrooms, diet things, craft things I know the person does and so on. Any genius ideas or hints. Later it is really handy info!
      Also what you say about everyone probably has a skill, or a few, they can maximize and turn into great gifts. So true!
      Thank you for this. It is so good! I have many ideas for next year and its kind of exciting. With love and thanks,

  18. Thank you Annabel and everyone for being so generous with your talents and sharing them with us. Having a little boy, I just LOVED the train set. It is just such a cool present. The hamper looks so luxurious, as do the Christmas cakes (beautifully presented). I have to say, how handy would it be to receive a pack of cards...the candy bouquet is so clever too. There are so many good ideas here. I have gone from earning a full time wage to now being at home with my baby. I was the type of person to spend a small fortune on everyone for their birthdays and Christmas. I felt I could never gift something homemade as it wasn't good enough. However, two things very much struck a chord with the present has to be right for the person, thanks Mimi and how you said Laine had $3 to spend so that's all she spent. This was a breakthrough for me! Now I am home, I have to be our family's gate keeper to the budget and if this is all we have to spend, then I need to spend wisely. This is a big thing I want to improve on for 2016....thank you for inspiring me! Love, Bridge

    1. Dear Bridge,
      I can see the train set in your future Bridge. The fact you can slide it under the bed is really good! Just remember this for in a few years time!
      Seeing the prices the shops charge ie for a fruit cake... I saw a medium size decorated fruit cake, nicely packaged is $50 here. That is a good gift. And I know you can make fruit cakes. So even this one gift is something you cannot go wrong with (provided the person likes cake!). I hope you will join i with the Christmas gift challenge in January... with this you can also add in Birthday presents. So next year you could have amazing savings and get more confident in giving what you make... plus we can add little bargains too. (I get quite a few bargains for my gift cupboard in the after Christmas sales). Thank you Bridge.
      I hope you are enjoying the pre Christmas build up... it is exciting having a babies first Christmas! With love,


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