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.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Christmas Challenge 2017.

The present cupboard is depleted.  After a whole year of making gifts and stocking the cupboard with handmade things, plus some bargains found along the way, it is time to start again!
Like last year I want to get going now so that I can have gifts for birthdays, the occasions throughout the year such as Easter and Mothers Day etc and also be working towards next Christmas.

This is one of those projects that has a big impact on more than one area. It is better than a Christmas savings account as you are adding things at a great rices rather than at full price or worse an inflated price like many Christmas Hampers and Clubs. You can do heaps better than that buying during the sales and at massive mark downs after the event. i.e. buying Christmas wrap after Christmas and putting it away for the next year. The savings are just huge.

A stocked gift cupboard means you never have to rush to the stores for an emergency gift. You really always have something on hand or you can cook something and you have the wrappers, tags, tape and everything ready. Another big saving.

Crafts are good for you. I really believe that busy hands make happy hearts. They even know that knitting or crochet lowers blood pressure. Unless you are me attempting cables in which case the reverse is true.
It is tough to think bad thoughts while decorating cards and playing with glitter. You become absorbed in what you are doing and it is so enjoyable! Having something to work on is calming. If you are a worrier or suffer from anxiety at all many crafts are just wonderful and I can say that I need to have crafts going and I am much happier when I do.
There there is the contented at home factor. I would far rather have some crafting time than mall time!

Leaning new skills is good for your brain! Improving your skills gives you a possible source of income as well. There are many benefits. Having a friend over to make cards together is nicer than going out spending money. It can be really social and a way to spend time with someone. If you still have your Nana then sit with her and learn!

My challenge this year is also to use up craft supplies and resources that I have. So I am decluttering and saving money as well.
Crafting may mean you can give to charity too.  There are too many beautiful things that come out of crafting to list.

You can really reduce spending on gifts and I am hoping this helps you to get ahead with your savings, emergency fund, pantry and preparedness!  So we are covering a lot of areas by getting busy and seeing what good things we can make from what we have.

You do not have to be "crafty" to make things. These are things we learn, not that we are born with.

Craft shops are expensive! There are jokes about how much cheaper it is to buy something than make it from all the things you need to buy from the craft store!
BUT if we use mostly what we have or great things we come by then it is another story!

I do get quite a few supplies at thrift shops.  Things I always watch for are lovely vintage sheets especially with roses on them. Sheets give you miles of fabric very cheaply. One time last year I was in an op shop (thrift store) and I was going through all the sheets. The lady there asked if I was Annabel from the Bluebirds are Nesting! This was Jo!  Can you believe that? I said she should be working for Scotland Yard to figure out it was me from the things I was looking for!
 If I want lace I usually look for lace curtains and cut them up.  Sometimes I have found amazing supplies at garage sales as well.

On Monday I said think abut your resources. Even if they are not craft materials you can still make gifts from them!

I have been going through my craft cupboard and making a list.
I have lovely wool fabric and plenty of embroidery threads and ribbons.
There is some crochet cotton and about thirty small balls of pale pink lambswool and angora that Sue gave me.
I have boxes of Lux Flakes and soap moulds.
All the roses I was drying are now ready for use.

There are several beautiful floral sheets washed and ready to sew into something.

I have three boxes of glitter!

There is probably some self help group I should be joining in relation to my glitter collection!

Several packets of blank cards and matching envelopes.

Lovely fabrics, laces and quite a few trims.

Glue, stamps, ink pads. 

And I have a collection of glittery appliqués. They are gorgeous! 

As well as obvious craft supplies I have resources that COULD be made into gifts...

My ever energetic sour dough starter.
A couple of times a year I can get a lot of figs from the farm.
I have a lot of peaches about to come my way.
Endless gum nuts, foliage, grape vine, pinecones....
Bayleaves, Mint, Rosemary and Parsley. 
Deer antlers.
Thats all I can think of! 

Ok, I have heaps and much more than I thought! 

Now the challenge is to find things to make that fit the list of people I will need gifs for. 

What are your supplies and resources? Even if you can't think of anything to make with them we will help! If you look at what you have in terms of what it would cost to go out and buy it all then you start to see the dollar value. Lets turn this all into gifts and possibly some lovely things for our homes as well. 

We will have Show and Tell at the end of every month so lets get busy and start building up our gift cupboards again! 

Hopefully you will soon see some of my supplies made up into things! Soon we will have pretty hot weather. That is a good sewing time for me as I need to stay inside and do something quietly. And I have Hydrangeas to dry. But first I think I will make up some soap and top it with my rose buds!

I hope you are having a good week and off to a great start for 2017! xxx


  1. Yesterday I cleaned out my craft cupboard completely. I did an inventory of all my fabric and have organised it so I can see it all clearly. I had only just finished this when My son, DIL and baby Tilly turned up. It was a complete, and most wonderful, surprise.
    Other resources I have are half a large bag of wine corks, shells by the hundreds and a whole beach more of them. I have access to lots of wood and a husband who knows how to use the tools to do stuff with it. Just have to wait until he has the strength to be able to interpret my ideas into reality. We could be waiting a while.
    In my cleaning and tidying frenzy I found a lot of resources I had forgotten I had. Some bags, purses and wallets will be made to go in the cupboard this year. A thrifted black satin sheet will be teamed with some gold satin in the stash and turned into some luxurious pillowslips for my son's Birthday in March.
    I plan to only use what I have. I have a lot so I cant see there being a difficulty in making all that I need.
    Tilly is awake and needs her Granny. Life is brilliant.

    1. Jane what a wonderful surprise. Enjoy your time with your family, especially Tilly.


    2. Dear Jane,
      You are ahead! You have shells! I never see shells and I love them. Ok I will get on to shell and cork ideas. I have seen the most gorgeous bathroom mirror with a thick shell frame...
      Your discoveries were really nice things! I would say your present cupboard is already going well.
      It was so lovely to get a surprise visit! Why a good week so far! With much love
      oh PS your sour dough bread making is full of potential gifts too!

  2. Dear Annabel,

    And we are off and running lol! I can see I need to be on the ball to keep up!

    I have been a little distracted these past three days, but I am about the start sorting through my stash to see exactly what I have on hand and jot down what I need to get. One thing I do need to get is more glitter, I don't have much of that.

    Your energy and enthusiasm is uplifting Annabel, enough to inspire anybody!

    Keep up the good work,

    Love Tania xx

    1. Dear Tania, I know you have had rather a lot going on up there! Important things too!
      I think you will have an interesting stash and that using it up, repurposing etc will be right up your alley. Plus your garden is full of potential gifts also! I cant wait to see what you get up to this year! With love

  3. Annabel what a lovely post. I was only just thinking this the other day. I have a lot of scrapbooking materials and cross stitch kits and materials i also have a fair amount of yarn. So for beginners I have DD16 turning 17 in February and apart from buying her an RAA membership (she begins driving) and I am going to knit her a mermaid tail afghan. Then I have my granddaughter turning two in March and I am writing her a book using scrapbooking supplies. I am also making her a mermaid tail afghan. That brings us to Easter. I am thinking a scarf for DD26 and DD17 and some fingerless gloves for DD19 and again a scarf each for my two DIL's and my sons, maybe I am still thinking on this. I do need to make up some birthday cards and I have plenty of supplies to do that. Also I want to remember the children's wedding anniversaries with a card and small gift each they are in March, August and November....I am not really sure. I do have plenty of fabric so that can be incorporated into gifts. Today I am starting on DD's mermaid tail. Then I will make some cards and begin DGD's book.

    Busy busy fingers here.

    1. Dear Mel,
      You have great gifts planned already! I always loved mermaids!
      I really have always liked to give warm things at Easter since it is autumn (for us at least!) and this lends itself to knitting, heat packs etc. I better get thinking. I have lovely wool I could embroider. I am itching to sew up some of my sheeting!
      You are a good example of busy hands making happy hearts! Keep cool the next couple of days! With love

    2. Mel are you in Australia? It sounds like, with the RAA reference. Have you looked into the Free2Go program? Both my boys had free roadside assist from 16 to 21 and it covered them for any vehicle they were in - such a weight off our minds when they were learning to drive and first had their license.

  4. Annabel I think you and Mimi must be in competition to see who has the most shiny, sparkly stuff.

    This year I it is all about 'mum's food' so apart from things to pop it into I just need to keep working on building my flybuys points up so that I can get what I need for the big cook up later in the year.

    My girlfriend and I have spoken about nightgowns - that lace would be perfect for at least one of the patterns I have. The plan is to use sheets of which I have plenty. Might even manage a robe or two.

    I am seeing my friend tomorrow (she also has some more large coffee jars for me) so will take my favourite pattern with me and show it to her - I think it is similar to what she has been talking about except with shoulder straps.

    I am going to be like Santa and make a list and check it twice. As I find things I can write it down on my 'to make list' so that I know if I have everything for a particular project.


    1. Dear Lynette, I have always been a sucker for glitter and sparkles. I don't even care if it messes up the house because its pretty even on the floor.
      I want to hear more about your nightgowns. I went through a stage years ago making cotton nightgowns. I don't think I could do them now. I made them with insertion cotton laces and pin tucking. I made so many and sold some. But I shed myself into oblivion and then just stopped and never have made on since. But now cottons and laces really appeal to me! Good cotton sheets cold be perfect. And very pretty. Nightgowns would be gorgeous gifts. Also for little girls!
      The big coffee jars will be great! I love mine and keep building up the numbers.
      I am not sure if you knit in the hot weather? I tend to go to cotton yarn and back to wool in autumn. With much love

    2. Dear Annabel the nightgown pattern has travelled with me for about 30 years, could even be longer. It is a page from a magazine and it has always been on my 'to do list'. It is just a simple square neckline of broderie lace and then the body of the night gown is in fabric. It is full length but I feel it needs to be shorter for our climate up here. I think this will fit the brief of a 'mumu style' night gown. While I love the look of the decadent nightgowns with insertion lace etc to me they were for someone else. I haven't picked up my knitting needles in a month or so - too much else going on and then the humid weather hit - I cannot knit in this sort of weather my tension goes out because everything sticks. As for sewing I have a 'thing' about keeping my work clean and perspiration dropping onto what I am working on is not keeping it clean. This is my planning and organizing time, making up for the past few summers when I have not been up to doing anything. I have ideas in my mind that I need to sift through the patterns for and also make sure that I have fabric pre washed etc and a few other projects that I have set myself as well like turning a plastic storage box, disposable plastic cups and a large piece of cardboard into a Christmas bauble storage system (pinterest a number of years ago). I need to get these things done so that I can settle down to my knitting and sewing. There is a little voice nagging me now that I am so much better.


  5. OK Annabel, I will have to put my thinking cap on. I have wool, a small stash of material, sheets that I am not using, towels that I want to re-purpose (but not for gifts), saved images from old calendars and other places, some craft kits. Closer to Christmas I can pot up lots of plants - bromeliads, dietes, and chives to name a few.

    1. Dear Sherri,
      I have projects coming up with sheets! And Lynette just mentioned making nightgowns from cotton sheets which would be lovely. I have seen a lot of pictures of little girls dresses and nightgowns made from pretty pillowcases. They are gorgeous!
      The potted plants are great presents! Our florist has them out wrapped in brown paper tied up with string. This looks so stylish I am pinching that idea.
      Towels have a lot of uses. I made a lot of pretty potholders (maybe pretty sheeting?) and used towels as my filling. I got a lot of gifts from them.I also could do that again this year! Now you have reminded me!
      It is great to have some supplies to work with! With love


    2. Towels! Even cloth nappies! Thanks for the idea of using these as filling for pot holders .... extending to placemats ....!

  6. Annabel, I decided at the beginning of the year not to get too involved in trying too many 'new' things but to use up the craft supplies I have built up over the years as I used to buy a lot from craft shows etc. Now it is time to either use them up or pass them on to someone else who will use them. I have hundreds of beads for starters, then there are the decoupage supplies, the handmade lace I was given from a rellie, wool embroidery threads, looms and the list goes on. I won't even mention the drawers of fabric :-)

    1. Dear Nanna Chel,
      Beads! Ok it sounds like you are set for the year. I cant wait to see what you make. They are all assets!
      I am soap making today! even though the weather is warm I will whip up a big batch. With lots of love

  7. Dear Annabel, thank you for a lovely post today, this is exciting . I love hearing about what resources you and the bluebird team have and what you will all be making. I gave an enormous amount of craft supplies and I added to it with some craft tools and die cut shapes and embossing folders, stickers, a shape cutter, a heart punch , a self healing cutting mat, some canvases to make wall art ( I will use these as gifts for my nieces ( one canvas each) plus some other craft supplies for their birthdays, unless i decide to use the two canvases for my wall in my Loungeroom!. I have bought all of the above items plus more from two gift cards I was given for Christmas plus a $14 outlay of my own money ( $9 was for postage) , I also need to take back a broken lamp and hopefully get a refund or credit, it is a weird lamp In That the bulb sticks out the top plus it was broken when I got it, just one of the beaded accessories hanging off it was not attached . The lamp does not represent the picture of it on the internet where I ordered it.i also have already in my craft supplies, lots of scrapbooking paper, stickers, some crochet cotton, glue, adhesive rhinestones, lots of stickers, stamps ( both wooden and clear ) , cardboard, blank cards, blank gift tags, colouring pencils, felt pens , gel pens, paints if they are ok , a paper mâché heart gift box , ribbons( quite a few rolls ) , bubble wrap ( for parcelling up gifts perhaps) , sticky tap, double sided mounting tape, a sizzix big shot machine to use with my embossing folders and dies to make cards, bookmarks etc.
    I also have random colours and numbers of beads ; many containers ) , plus I am sure when I tidy up my craft area I will find heaps more !. I am having a use it up year too and apart from glue, blank cards / cardboard and envelopes ( only when I need them) and maybe some cheap watercolour paints if mine are no good as they are old and I need them for a project that I have everything else for.
    I have decided to make as many cards as I can over the year and do them up in sets with a nice pen ( maybe) and some postage stamps ( maybe) as well as some envelopes and maybe some stickers to decorate the envelopes or for the recipient to use as they choose , these sets will become a nice, easy gift. I will also make bookmarks and try to find other ideas to use my embossing machine (it does die cutting as well) . I will maybe make up a craft kit for each of my nieces for Christmas with blank cards, colourful cheap sheets of wrapping paper ( as they love these for craft) , some stickers and ribbon etc. my aim is to put together lovely gifts for minimal extra money spent . There will be a few gifts that will not be handmade but I will look out of my gift budget which I am saving for now.
    I need more ideas please ladies , I will come back next week with more of what I have in my craft area. I have some blogs on my list of blogs to visit , thank you So much Annabel. I also have some great ideas from all of you here . Oh yes, I would like to do more decorated note books , I did some last year and they were well received.i look forward to show and tell and hopefully I will have something ready to show!. Another thing I forgot to mention is I have access to free lemons sometimes and I always have a supply of cooking ingredients I hand so when I get my new kitchen I will hopefully be able to do more easy baking and make chocolates, rocky road etc again.sorry for the long comment Annabel. I can tell this will be a great year. With live . Barb W.

    1. Barb, I'm also a cardmaker so I have many of the same items as you. I've made little matchbook notepads for a purse. You can use either cardstock or even a paint swatch! Stick them in an embossing folder and they're cute! Put a little sticky note pad inside, an initial on the outside, & it's very cute! I've also decorated Altoid tins and made little sewing kits or first aid kits. Scrapbook supplies can make all sorts of things!

    2. Debby, I love kits in little tins! I'm glad you mentioned that!

    3. Dear Barb, You have great supplies and I hope that when its hot you can be comfortable inside in the cool crafting away. That is lovely on hot days. I think the craft kits are fabulous presents for your nieces!
      I will look for some bead crafts for you and these might be handy for Nanna Chel as well.
      You are well ahead with supplies and gifts! That is really good. I hope I can send lots of ideas your way and i want to have a lot of paper crafts during the year as mostly they are very inexpensive. And good to post too!
      I hope you are having a good week! With much love,

  8. Dear Annabel,
    I loved reading your ideas as well as everyone elses. I know for me the sharing really stimulates the creative process. I'm so happy I learned to crochet, thanks to your encouragement and tutorials, last year as now I'm making a wedding gift that's called a fusion quilt which combines fabric and crochet and it's all being made from what was on hand.

    Yesterday, while altering some sweat pants' because they were too long, I looked at what I cut off and the thought struck me that what had been cut looked like a headband that would be warm in the cold weather. Just hemming the cut side and adding a crocheted flower or something else, two new gift ideas were born. As ideas pop up they're being written down in a notebook. While doing an inventory of supplies so many things were found that had been forgotten and will take on a new life this year.

    Show and Tell has been a favorite of mine and I'm excited to see what everyone is doing this year.
    Blessings. Cookie

    1. Dear Cookie,
      I am really thrilled about your crochet and you have inspired me to use mine on garments as you have. I loved the tunic with the edging. Also I must mention I have seen rows of crochet edging on each end of velvet scarves! Hows that for an idea! Or on the end of floral scarves....
      I love your headbands! They would be lovely gifts. In a kind of similar vein I have seen lace stretch headbands with a flower used to keep a diary held shut or as a wrap around book mark. This is brilliant as my dirt always ends up full of extra bits of paper. A stretchy "holder" is really handy. The ones I sw were really little girls stretchy headbands!
      I cant wait to see what you get up to this year and for the first show and tell! Thanks so much Cookie! With love

  9. Annabel,
    Now is it, "Great Minds" think alike. My first project of the New Year is to inventory my Craft Pantry. I need to clean-up my storage room in basement and take a specific inventory of all my craft supplies.
    I want to make most my gifts this year from "what I already have". But first I have to see, what I do have. Everything is in totes and labelled yarns, threads, material, etc... Like my one afghan that I made using 35yr old yarn, it made me feel good using it finally for a good purpose. It lays at the end of our bed and is so soft and warm. I only needed to buy 2 skeins of yarn as connecting yarn. It fits a queen bed perfectly and it matches a bedspread I purchased at a thrift store for $3.00
    So I am onboard with starting present making early.
    You always are there to give us a little push, so helpful.

    1. Dear Rubies, That is wonderful! I like the sound of your supplies! And I love that you are using things up!
      A lovely afghan for your bed is useful and nice to look at!
      Thank you so much! I hope you will share with us some of what you make in the monthly show and tell. The ideas we all get from sharing are fantastic. And inspiring! Many thanks! Love

  10. Annabel, It seems to be the 'use it up' year for the bluebirds and I love it! I am well set to be able to participate using what I have on hand too. The idea of making night gowns using sheets is quite clever. I have a couple on hand that would work perfectly for this. Such inspiration! I am looking forward to another year of the Christmas Challenge!

    1. Dear Patsy,
      Good quality and condition old sheets can be beautiful cotton and better than much you can buy now. Fabric by the yard is pretty expensive now. I saw some I loved the other day and turned away at $44 a yard! Back to my sheet collection!
      I felt so proud of your crochet. You really are going so well with that. I have lots of crochet projects coming up... with sheets and crochet combined! With love,


  11. Hi Annabel

    Your supplies shown are already beautiful, so anything you make with them has to be beautiful also!!

    Well, I have wool for knitting, crochet cottons, a little vintage sheeting, a chenille bedspread to cut up, flannelette op shop sheeting, macadamia nuts on the trees, ash from fires, vegetation holding aromatic oils, fabrics to recycle, small wooden boxes to use, wood to work with .... and plenty of ideas to match! I have recycled jars along with jar labels and toppers!

    I hope to send photos as things come off the table completed!

    With every warm regards,
    Rachel Holt

    1. Dear Rachel,
      Our supplies are lovely! And Macadamia nuts are a wonderful asset! I am very fond of wooden boxes also... so many possibilities!
      I love your photos and seeing what you are doing! Thank you so much! We are off to a very good start! With love

  12. I always check out the scrapbooking supplies at thrift store to use for card making. I also look for pretty fine china teacups to include with tea for my tea loving friends. Oh, and books in good condition unless it is for a friend I know loves old books.

    1. Dear Brenda, That is a good idea. I love old books for the images for card making. I am looking for Beatrix Potter books at the moment to make bunting.
      Also good books are great gifts! I need to think of that as I go through them with cutting them up in mind. Thank you! With love

  13. What fun this will be, Annabel! I had to purge some things for last year's move, but I managed to bring quite a bit of my fabric stash to our new home and I still have enough supplies for at least one batch of Cath's Simple Soap. My mother just gave me a bag of quilt batting, which gives me loads of possibilities. I also have plans to repurpose some leftover Christmas candy into Valentine's Day treats. I still have lots of the cellophane pretzel bags that I used for my dipped pretzels and biscotti and plenty of ribbon on hand to frill them up. I also have quite a bit of yarn in my stash, so I hope to spend many of the winter evenings still ahead of us with my knitting needles.
    I'm looking forward to seeing another year of everyone's lovely handiwork!
    Blessings, Leigh

    1. Dear Leigh, Moving often means starting again supplies wise but it sounds like you have some really good things still!
      Yes we will have to think of Valentines Dy ideas asap! I cant wait to see your crafty projects this year! With much love

  14. I am so on board with this challenge for this year! I was so disappointed with myself this Christmas. Every year I say I'm going to get my gifts done earlier so that I can enjoy Christmas and all it was meant to celebrate and every year I end up exhausted and grumpy ... running around to the stores at the last minute trying to get all the gifts I need. I also tallied up what I spent this past Christmas and I had spend DOUBLE what I had budgeted. That's what happens when you're rushing around at the last minute!
    I have a bunch of strips of fabric a quilter friend sent me that I wanted to make dream catchers with and never got around to it for last Christmas, so I will start with those. They can also be given out throughout the year as birthday/valentines gifts. I use a dolly in the center and then frayed strips of fabric and lace tied on for the bottom. I also found some cute sparkly butterfly broaches I'm planning on pinning to the dolly center. I can at least get a few of those done this month without purchasing a thing!
    I have plenty of scrapbooking supplies I can start making some cards with.
    I have a good amount of scrap wood I can cut and stain to make some signs with. I have a vinyl cutter that I use to make stencils so I can paint quotes and/or bible verses on them to give as gifts.
    I have some leftover burlap that has some sparkles in it from a project I was thinking of using to make some of the stuffed Christmas trees someone on here made. I think it would be cute and go with most all décor schemes.
    I spent about $10-20 on gifts for some girls that I work with the people that work in my husband's office - way too much! My plan is to make some jelly and/or baked goods for them next year. The trick is that I've got to figure out how make them early enough in the year before things get crazy, but not too early so that they're still fresh when we pass them out. Maybe I can try freezing some cookies throughout the year and seeing how good they are when I defrost them.
    I have 2 small children, so I would really like to be able to enjoy the holidays with them without running around so stressed out!
    Thank you for the motivation and inspiration!
    Did you happen to keep a list or take pictures of the haul of stuff from your gift cupboard that you gave out this year? I would love to see it all!

    1. Dear Tarin, Thank you and I am glad to have you on board! This year will be different! If you follow along you will be absolutely amazed how full your gift cupboard is well before December. It puts you ahead not just financially but as far as time and stress goes as well. It is really fun too!
      Mimi on A Tray of Bliss made lovely dream catchers and I saw them in the stores for $90 and more! I also saw Shabby Chic had a range of them... so they would be pretty gifts.
      You have great ideas. I do everything early then baked goods in December with is ok as it is all I have left to do. And I spread them out across December too and it worked out really well. You can prepare the cookie dough ahead then bake and send. I know that works well.
      I didn't take photo of everything together as I thought it looked too messy! But over the year most of what I made was in photos. It would probably take forever but you can scroll through the craft section. You could also try the pinterest page or the Facebook page and go through past photos... or google TBANesting crafts, card making, crochet, embroidery etc and go to "images" then its like a cheats way of seeing things the fast way! It kind of works!
      I hope 2017 is a really goo year for you! With love and thanks,

  15. I got such a good giggle out of your comment on your glitter collection. ;) Mine would be wine bottle corks at the moment. My father saves all of their's for me and of course I add to them meself. I have such great plans for them for next Christmas gift giving.

    1. I would so love to know what to do with the wine bottle corks. Looking forward to seeing any projects using these.

    2. Ha ha, Jane! You could sell corks at a profit to people like me who use them for floating oil lamp wicks, and replacing missing corks on gifted op shop glass bottles/jugs! Very few wines are sold with corks these days. Interested?!

    3. Dear Debbie,
      Jane has corks as well. I better get on to finding great things to make with them! Please share what you do! I hope 2017 will be lovely for you, love

  16. This will be my 2nd Use-it-Up year in my craft room. I did pretty well last year, but I must confess that I could probably go about 15 more years before anyone would even notice lol. I'm a raccoon in a craft store. Sparkly? Glittery? Shiny? I want it. Last year, I only bought glue, adhesives, envelopes, & an occasional sheet of odd paper. My friends admitted their admiration over such restraint so I knew I did well!! I have a good supply of Christmas rubber stamps that I've already used so I'm going to suggest a swap among my friends so that we can add to our own supplies without a penny being spent.

    I was hoping to be organized and ready to go when the clock rang midnight Sat. night, but I got a stinkin' head cold last week and am just now starting to feel better.
    I'm hoping that I'll be at full speed by this time, next week.

    My best source of flour sack towels is having a sale this week so I'll be picking up 6. I love embroidering while watching tv and I accomplish something, as well.

    1. Dear Debby,
      So it sounds like you have good supplies! They are an asset! I noted that Barb was making her nieces up some craft supply gifts. This can be a lovely idea for a friend who is keen on a particular craft... a little supply in a basket or a kit!
      I love the flour sack towels. On ETSY there is a shop called Sweet Magnolias Farm and her towels are gorgeous. So many ideas!
      I love to be doing something, I cant just sit and watch TV it seems like a waste of so much time so we are just alike! With love

  17. Annabel, half way around the world, you are a woman after my own heart. You are an incredible person. I have just a few items started so far for Christmas gifts, I didn't join in the challenge last year, but I am going to start to stock up on handmade items this year (I already have some items). One idea I have is to grow herbs and package them up to give to my step daughter, she will be able to use them and will appreciate them. I'll also be making pillow cases, they are easy and fun, and I'll continue with my quilt making, that is always a wonderful gift, also jellies and jams from our fruit. This is totally off-topic but one of my goals this year is to learn to cook on our wood stove. This morning I just finished making a simple breakfast of bacon, egg omelet and toast and it turned out pretty well. In addition, I learned many tips and possibilities for other uses for the wood stove (such as keeping a water pot on top to heat water to wash dishes). You have an awesome blog with awesome ladies who share so much knowledge and practical tips. Thank you!

    1. Watch out, Joy! You could find wood stove cooking very relaxing, and, particularly for larger meals, it could become your preferred mode of cooking! I use egg rings to sit cooking pots on when needing to reduce the cooking temperature!

    2. Dear Joy,
      Thank you so much! Well it is funny, distance seems to make no difference. I meet some kindred spirits here and it is lovely! I am also making pillowcases from my sheeting! I will be working a crochet edge on them. I have the sheets out to cut out tomorrow! Today I was soap making...
      Well done on the wood stove! this is a great asset and skill! My Nan had both electric and wood in her kitchen. She far preferred the wood!
      And she said scones (biscuits) turned out way better in the wood stove. It kept her kitchen warm and she had the kettle and something going all the time! You can simmer a casserole all day etc. Also we used to string up things like mushrooms onto cotton and they would hang near the dry and dry really well then go into jars...
      Thank you so much Joy! With love

  18. Annabel, my stash has quiet a lot of wool and crochet cottons, I am using some of it up knitting babies clothes. I have materials and lace curtains and will use that this year too. I have soap making supplies and I also want to make goats milk soap ( have never made goats milk soap).
    I also want to make one bedroom a craft room and get rid of the beds in there, that way I can leave my sewing machines set up and ready to sew.
    Bring on the gift making for 2017. Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie, I made soap today! I did the cheats Lux method using goats milk. So far so good...
      I am glad you have plenty of yarn. Your crochet is amazing. I dream of being as good as you!
      I think you definitely deserve a craft room. That would be really good for you! Go for it! I cant wait to see your work this year. With love

  19. I am so looking forward to participating in the Christmas Challenge this year! I, too, am trying to use up the supplies I already have. I realized during the recent holidays that I can use containers and dishes I was going to give to the thrift shop to hold homemade gifts, especially if I fancy them up with a ribbon or something sparkly as I've seen you do. I gave a couple of folks some honey butter and some herbs from my garden that way and they were really tickled with the gifts.

    1. Dear Chipmunk,
      Thank you! Containers are very handy to be able to hold your cooking etc. I am often spray painting things too, to make them into ok little hampers etc.
      The honey butter and herbs would be lovely gifts! Keeping jars on hand is another thing I try to do for when fruit might come in! Then I can have jam as gifts and the pantry.
      I hope you have a great crafting year! With love

  20. Happy New Year to everyone! I, too, am really looking forward to getting started on my gifts for next Christmas. I finished everything I had planned for gift-giving for Christmas 2016, except for the binding on my oldest daughter's crazy quilt. I bought the quilt top at an auction and hand quilted it myself. My son-in-law bought an airline ticket for me to fly out to visit them in February (a gift to my daughter from him, lucky me!) so I will finish the quilt when I get there as I also teach her to sew on her sewing machine that she has had for quite a few years.

    I am going to try to only work from supplies I already have on hand. My wonderful husband bought me Ikea shelving cubbies for Christmas so as I sorted and organized my supplies to put them away, I had the opportunity to see everything that I have on hand. One of my goals this year is to knit a pair of socks and something else that is wearable for an adult, maybe a sweater??

    We spent the week right after Christmas in California visiting my parents. We spent the time making repairs to their home and deep cleaning/purging as my dad has had a stroke and is paralyzed and my mom is busy taking care of him. What a week, lots of laughter, tears of remembrance, and just enjoying being together (my three brothers and their spouses were there also). I brought home lots of old family photos and even found the negatives from my parent's wedding day! My brothers do no know I found the negative as I kept it a surprise. I am going to have 8 x 10" photos made and then frame them and send them to them as they have their wedding anniversaries this year! My middle brother is not married though, so I will send his to him on his birthday. I think they will be thrilled!


    P.S. Also wanted to say that I have been welcomed so warmly into the Bluebird family and I really appreciate it! Annabel, your blog is my favorite blog of all and I always look forward to reading what everyone has to say and love all the sharing and friendship!

    1. Dear Jeanette,
      I have been thrilled to have you here and am so glad you will be crafting away with us all.
      You have a beautiful trip to look forward to! What a great gift!
      Organised supplies are a big help. Knowing what you have you can plan. We had some new knitters and new crocheters here last year. I think learning a new skill or extending one is really good fun and I hope to do the same myself this year. Although maybe not with socks... my knitting is not very good!
      It was beautiful to work at your parents place like that. That was so good of you both. The best gift. And the family photos! I would count those as a resource. So many gift possibilities there.
      Thank you so much Jeanette! I hope this is a great year for you! With love

  21. Jeanette, watch out for the sock knitting! You could get hooked, or needled?! There could be more sock knitters amongst us than we first realise!!

    1. LOL, Rachel! I'm not to sure how well I'll get on with the socks as I tried to knit a hat in the round, but kept leaving "ladders" where the needles change. I've been told to carry the first few stitches onto the next needle, so hopefully this will help me alleviate those holes!

  22. Hi Annabel. I have a really strong personal commitment to giving gifts that are practical or consumables. For quite a while I have been making potholders, library bags and quilts as gifts. I am not great on the sewing machine but have learnt so much (thank-you youtube) that I can really say I am improving and developing my skills. Small projects work really well. I also plan to take up some of the plant type gifts you have mentioned. I look forward to seeing all the great things the bluebird team makes throughout the year. Thank-you for the inspiration. (By the way, I caste my eyes and ears around the Op Shop each time I work there just to see if you are there! Looking forward to the next time you pop in) Cheers, Jo

    1. Dear Jo,
      Well done on you sewing skills! I love practical gifts too. I am not into ornaments etc. very much. I love things that can be both useful and beautiful. I found last year the variety of what everyone made was amazing! The op shop should keep you in some fabulous supplies! One year when I was there I sat on the floor and went through boxes out the back for vintage nighties and slips etc and got amazing appliqués, trims, pleating and so on! I think I was there about two hours!
      Please send me some photos when we have show and tell I would love to see what you have been making!
      It must be hot there today. Today and tomorrow are really heating up. I am going to stay in and start some sewing. With lots of love

  23. Hi Annabel and Ladies!
    I am looking forward to restocking the gift trunk. My supplies vary at times due to bartering and being gifted things, but I do have fabric, crochet cotton, flour sack towels, lace, some yarn and of course lots of junk! My DIL loved the paper bags I did for the girls and her paper stocking which I filled full of samples and requested them again. Ii would have to say my strength is actually not in making something, but embellishing things. I do have a few things in mind for this year though and can't wait to see what everyone makes.
    Also I would like to thank Cookie for her kind words and Rachel for her sweet, gentle personality!

    1. Dear Vicky, You have good supplies! And you did very well last year and I love your packaging and decorated parcels. I copied you on that!
      Embellishing is good. Taking something ordinary and making it over. Repurposing too is good and kind of similar!
      We are making some very special friends here along the way. I am so grateful. The encouragement is amazing. It makes life a lot of fun!
      I got my soap done! I will post pics tomorrow! With much love

    2. Vicky, if I was to thank my husband for something, he would likely say, "That's what I'm here for - for being thanked!"
      To you I say, "Thanks for the thanks!"

  24. A wonderful post as always Annabel.
    At the moment I am knitting dishcloths for my oldest DD's birthday at the end of the month, both she and her partner love them and they still have some I knitted when I visited them for the birth of DGS who will be 5 in just over 2 weeks.
    After that I will be knitting scarves, beanies and gloves/mittens for all 4 grandchildren for Easter, along with egg cosies, as the last lot were re-purposed as socks for the stuffed dog.
    I also need to get the sewing machine out to make some summer nightgowns, I am using an old one as a pattern, and have some old cotton sheets I bought early last year to make them with
    If I can get some suitable old cotton sheets I will make the DGC p/j's for Christmas.
    I also need to work out what to make for the DGC for their birthdays, but need to get working on a library bag for master about to be 5 who starts school on his birthday. I have some fabric but need to decide what to applique on it, a monster truck, his name or a dinosaur, whichever is quickets as it has to be posted along with DD's present.

    1. Dear Meg,
      You are off to a good start! And you have a great plan! I would dearly love to see your dishcloths and nightgowns especially. At the end of the month I put up my email address for show and tell so if you can possibly take photos please do. A lot of ladies love cotton nigh gowns. They make lovely pyjama pants. An expensive store here sells vintage designs pj pants and a plain little singlet type top to t shirt type top the coordinates for abut $75.
      The library bag will be a big hit I think!
      I hope you have a great year of crafting and presents Meg, with love

  25. Happy New Year Annabel and Bluebirders,

    Annabel, loved your Christmas photos. I didn't get to comment on your previous posts but didn't get to comment. We've already had a wedding (DGodSon) and birthday (DGS) since Christmas Day, so things were a little hectic.

    Love your craft supplies - I especially like the lace and glittery appliques. I still have plenty of supplies , mostly sewing, even though I've been working with what I have for the past few years and was doing so well until I inherited my DM's supplies (a lot was donated, but a lot was kept). Some time ago I decided to stick with sewing/embroidery with a bit of crocheting and knitting. I resisted the temptation to try too many other crafts as I tend to hoard bits and pieces, but seeing what everyone was making last year, I'd like to try a few new things.

    Rachel, I'm sticking with the socks! They were such a hit with the males in the family. I have long since realised I'm not going to be knitting any large items (too slow) so I already have the wool. I really should make the wool wash to go with these + a wash bag( I need to write this down before I forget).

    I was really grateful for the push last year to make most of my gifts - they were truly appreciated and I appreciated having a couple of days up my sleeve just before Christmas.

    Looking forward to this year,

    1. Dear Janine, It is lovely you have great supplies and I think your Mum would be thrilled you're using her things too. You still may be able to use things up and learn new skills as well. I do think it is really fun to try new things and develop new skills it adds some excitement too. A challenge is good! But with sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet you already have so many possibilities!
      It is lovely that the gifts you made were appreciated. I hope this yer will be great for you and that starting now will see your gift cupboard fill up for you! I cant wit to see what you make this year! With love

  26. Dear Annabel and everyone,

    I can see this is going to be a lot of fun for another year! I am just working on some practical crafting at the moment...knitting some mittens that are needed right now and I just made a couple of pillowcases out of a sheet I had on hand which already had a gorgeous edge to it. (You would love the fabric, Annabel...soft pink roses with pale blue centres...which match the blue of our bedroom perfectly!) I was desperate, as a pair of pillowcases wore right through in the last wash, and I am not getting out to shops any time soon. But I am certainly thinking hard about next Christmas's gifts! I have lots of yarn (wool), embroidery floss, fabric, and card making supplies, but I also have a few "started" projects that have been languishing on the back burner that I feel I should "clean up" and finish!! But I always have to have small projects on the go for travel, etc., and so I think I'm going to start on a knitted toque and scarf for my Dad first. I don't know if I'll knit quite as many socks this diligence this year paid off and I managed to restock everyone quite well, so the need isn't so great this year. Although I could use a pair or two! :) I am definitely in the midst of planning for the year and also some much needed deep cleaning after the holidays, and it is fun to dream about crafting plans!! I agree, crafting is cheap therapy!!

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      I want to see the pillowcases! they sound beautiful and how clever to use the lovely edging of the sheet on the pillowcase!
      You have good supplies. I really look forward to your pictures this year!
      I also needed a big clean up after Christmas and now have felt ready to get making things. I made soap yesterday and yes it is good therapy it was so much fun and I was up late last night slicing it as I couldn't wait!
      Many thanks Jen, love

  27. Hi Annabel, I have been reading your blog for a long time. But I am inspired today to comment. Thank you so much for creating this community of encouragement. I really enjoy reading your posts and everyone's comments. I did not make as many gifts this year as I intended to, so I have lots of leftover supplies that I want to put to good use this year also. One new skill I am learning is to crochet. My daughter knows how to do a simple stitch, so we worked together to crochet a mat for our dog's house out of plastic grocery sacks. It was really ugly and lumpy since we are teaching ourselves, but today it is snowing and our dog appreciated the extra insulation. I am hoping to get more practice at this and be able to make nicer mats and rugs.

    1. Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for commenting I really appreciate it! Well done on the crochet! You tube is wonderful to learn crochet stitches and patterns. Once you have the three basic stitches (chain, single crochet and double crochet) you can make pretty much anything! Plus its really fun.
      I hope you will be able to turn your supplies into lovely gifts! In the winter when its snowing it must be lovely to have a project to work on inside. It is the same here now only with the heat! With much love

  28. Hi Annabell,

    This year I have also been inspired to take up a bit of crafting/cooking gifts. So far I have made mango chutney from the abundance on our trees.

    My Gran taught me to crochet and she always gave crochet edge washers each year to all family members.between crazy work hours i dream of restarting this tradition. Can any one tell me how to upcycle towels into these? Does the material need heming first? I have an old flannel night shirt.and a heap of sentimental pieces of clothing that i would love to turn into a quilt.I dont machine sew so would have to do this by hand like in the old days. In my craft box i have lots of little ods and ends.i have recieved some lovley wrapping paper from thailand.Im thinking cards may be in order this year as well. I often dont get a lot of spare time these days so im all ears for quick simple things. Excited to get started for the year.

    Di in Australia

    1. Dear Di,
      Even with small spaces of time you can craft. Crochet is wonderful as it is so portable and it is beautiful that your Gran taught you!
      Cutting up towels is a bit difficult as they fray and are messy. I do it and use them to fill things like pot holders. I would suggest watching for nice face washers or even tea towels to do a crochet edge on, you might see some great specials at this time of year.
      A quilt would be great! I really like hand stitching and even a few minutes a day really adds up!
      I use pinterest a lot. You can search your subject like "quick craft projects" or whatever you want and get so many beautiful suggestions, it is really helpful!
      I hope you have a wonderful year of crafting! With love

    2. Di, keep your eye out for Show and Tell!! There is a beautiful crochet-fabric fusion quilt coming up. They can be made as small quilts, and look special!

    3. Hi Di,
      I just happened upon your post. I've made many quilts entirely by hand. There are many tutorials online to get you started and there's also very good book by Ginny Byers on hand piecing and quilting. She got into it because her husband was posted in India and they had very little electricity and she's gone on from there and is quite famous in America. Hand piecing and quilting can be very addictive and so relaxing. Starting with something small and seeing the results is the way I started and then I moved on to something larger (like a totally hand pieced and hand quilted queen sized bed quilt). Have fun with it. Hand piecing is also quite portable and can just be put in your purse while you're on the go and do a little when you have a few minutes. Your mango chutney sounds wonderful. Cookie


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