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, 11 July 2017

The Christmas Challenge. July progress...

Now we are in the second half of the year and I think knowing this has made me get moving a bit faster. Do you ever feel stuck and know you should be doing something but just can't gather any momentum? That is how I was with a lot of crafts earlier in the year.
Then I look back and think we had Lucy having Scarlett, Mum in hospital and I was sick and visiting the hospital myself. It was a bit of a crazy start to the year!  So considering all that we have actually done quite well!

But now something has clicked and my gifts, crafts and present cupboard are all doing better.
I have a lot to report this week and next week!
Mainly I am trying to use up supplies I have as much as I can.  First I got out all my card making things and magazines etc.  I also had some images printed on card that I had planned to make into gift tags.  These had been in a folder for quite some time! They were fiddly to cut out but I got quite a few...


I kept some to use myself as gift cards and made the rest up into packs (in cellophane bags) to give as little gifts.  We all need cards so I think they are a handy gift.

While watching football I cut out magazine images. I had some fantastic magazines from an op shop trip.   I was also just using up blank cards I already had.  I even used ribbons I already had!


I ended up with a couple dozen cards.  This is good as I had run out altogether.



They don't really come anymore simple than these.  I need a session to make some for men.  I have the supplies so that will be next!

Being cold weather I have been crocheting. With this also I am using up supplies.  Both of these are for a charity. They are a knee rug or cot size.


I just realised cot is one of those words! Cot here would be crib I think in the US? (before single bed stage.)

Also I am thrilled to have made a bulk purchase that takes care of seven men in the family at Christmas.  Yes,  seven gifts are completed!  Except I can't show you as too many are reading!  I will say this... other times the idea has come up to watch for bargains in the year and put them away when you can. And also that sometimes you can bulk buy something, split things up and re package.  All these are involved here!  The repackaging took me ages but now they are done and I have put these into the present cupboard ready to go!


I cannot tell you how happy I am about this!  I have saved a fortune and because I find gifts for men overall harder I feel so relieved to have come up with something really really good!  😊
My present cupboard is now looking really great!  

Since then I have been working on lots of gifts for women.  I have really made progress there too!  But I need to take some photos and these will be next week! 

One thing I think that has helped me lots is doing multiple batches of things.  I rarely make one of anything.  A few spares come in handy. We have birthdays to manage as well. There are always unexpected gifts to give.  Production lines really mean you produce a lot more. This doesn't apply to everything but gift wrapped soaps, packaging up cards to give a gifts, cooking gifts and many things work out really well as a way to get a lot of gifts at one time.

Another thing I find is around mid year are some of the best sales and markdowns.  This is the time to stash things that will complement hand made gifts.  Keep your eyes open as these little bargains can really help the gift cupboard grow! 

What have you been working on?  
I hope your week is going well!  Although it is cold we have perfect sunshine and it is just lovely! 
xxx



38 comments:

  1. Dear Annabel, well I am ashamed to say that I have not done nearly as much this year as in previous years. I've sort of got caught up in my daughters Senior year preparations and house renovations. However, I do have a pile of fabric ready to be stitched into pillowcases or teatowels, and I've made some soap. Card making over the holidays helped and I've always got a stash of my hand scribed wrapping paper. I also found a few blogs that had really lovely vintage inspired gift wrap that you can print out A4 size, that is perfect for giving home made soaps that lovely vintage upmarket boutique style feel. One in particular had a fine green gingham check and a vintage looking pear print, and stacked together with raffia twine and a clay medallion (which we made)they look really professional. Will share photos next month. As we keep saying, packaging makes everything look special. You're going great guns. What a relief to have the Guy Gifts out of the way! And of course, your cards are always prettiness personified! Love, Mimi xxx

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    1. Dear Mimi,
      Im pretty sure renovations have been a big factor for both of us. The whole house is thrown out by renovations!
      I agree... presentation is everything! I love the idea of printing out gift wrap for small gifts. Thinking of that.... I must watch for sheet music as that is lovely too for small gifts especially at Christmas. One time I actually had Christmas carol sheet music and could use the words i.e. Silent Night across cards I made.
      After you have finished with the kitchen and after the end of high school exams I hope life allows more creating! With love Annabel.xxx

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  2. You are so talented and always accomplish so much. Thank you for sharing ideas! Nancy

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    1. Thanks so much Nancy! Having so many mens gifts I feel its easier from here! xxx

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  3. Those rugs are beautiful Annabel, such pretty colours, and a great winter craft to keep you warm. This week I've made some covered needle cases, more dishcloths, covered some coathangers, made a couple of card sets and started making our Christmas cards, ready to send out on 29th November (I like the cards to arrive 1st December). Next on my list is cross-stitched bookmarks for a book loving friend. I have the ribbon, thread and chart in my stash so they won't cost anything but a couple of hours in front of the TV.

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    1. Dear Cath, You are well on your way to Christmas! I love having something to work on while watching TV. I cant just sit there! Week by week it is amazing how much it all adds up! I love to have spares to give to someone who doesnt expect it.
      It is pouring here today! I will be staying in and it will be a crouch evening watching footie! I am very happy being snug inside as it is freezing!
      Have a lovely weekend and thank you Cath, love Annabel.xxx

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  4. Annabel those cards are really pretty and I am sure anyone would love one on their gifts and they could also be framed afterwards for a nice picture in a home too.

    How lovely you crochet for charities there are so many needy people in the world who would dearly love to be under one of those blankets to keep warm.

    There is something about brown paper that speaks old vintage charm and it can be dressed up in so many different ways. The men's gifts will be a hit I sure.

    As there is only my husband and myself we tend to give each other gifts throughout the year instead but we do have handmade cards and a small gift stash put aside for special occasions that may come up.

    Sewingcreations15

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    1. Dear Sewicgcreations,
      Thank you! I love brown paper too. It can be feminine or masculine as well. Mum works constantly on little hats for preemie babies, rugs, hats for cancer patients and the list goes on. So often I have had comments from people who love to knit and crochet and they say but they have no one to do it for. As you mentioned this is not true there are so many people who would be helped by warm clothes. In some places that are cold there are poor schools that take hats etc for kids who have none. The list is just endless.
      Have a wonderful weekend! With love Annabel.xxx

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  5. Annabel you are powering along with your gift making. I have finished off another cotton crocheted facecloth and have a lap rug well on the way. Today I picked up some lovely wool that I plan on making up into a couple of gifts. I got some lolly pink wool for a cardi for Miss Tilly. I hope to pick up bits and pieces as we travel along. Life is good.


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    1. Jane, Travelling with a project to work on it so much fun. Its amazing how much you get done too. I would never leave home with out projects and you come home with a stack of things for the gift cupboard!
      I know you are enjoying yourselves! Its so good you can still check in! Have a good weekend! With love Annabel.xxx

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  6. Hi Annabel, I'll try and post again. I'm not sure why my posts aren't appearing. This is my first try this week as I too am involved in renos like you and Mimi.

    The cards you make are so lovely and having one in pride of place in 'my family room at the moment is lovely.

    I made a really cool shopping trolley liner last week. It's padded and sits in the shopping trolley with a square cutout for the legs to go through. No baby news yet but I'm getting ready. I also made a few more pairs of the ruffled nappy cover that I sent the picture to you of a while back. They are very easy and super cute.

    Can't wait to see what those seven men's presses are but am guessing it will be after Christmas!

    Have a great week.. fi xx

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    1. Dear Fiona,
      Thank you for trying again! This one worked!
      It sounds like your kitchen is under way! I know what thats like. To me it was a bit like camping as I had the dining room table set up with the kettle and sandwich maker etc.
      Yes I will show the boys presents after Christmas!
      Your sewing is just beautiful. I love the ruffles... and the idea of a shopping trolley cover is really good as those things are not clean yet Harper LOVES sitting up in the trolley! She is sure she is in charge of it.
      I hope the kitchen is going well I know its going to be gorgeous! With love, Annabel.xxx

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  7. Your work is just beautiful! I espylive the tags. How wonderful you are so far ahead on gifts. Wonderful incentive. Have a great day!

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    1. Dear Lynn, It is good if we can all encourage each other along. I already have some amazing new work come in for show and tell at the end of the month. This is good incentive to me too! With love Annabel.xxx

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  8. I love the colours of your crochet Annabel, and how lovely they are for charity. You've definitely made a good start to the second half of the year! I have been cross stitching lately, it's slow going. But it feels great to complete projects that have been on the to-do list literally for years in some cases. I have more to do but need a break, so am going to start cutting out squares for a quilt for my sons birthday. Which makes it sound like I know how to make a quilt, but I'll be learning as I go lol!

    I always feel inspired by the Christmas challenge posts, thanks!

    Jen in NZ

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    1. Dear Jen, A quilt! I will look forward to seeing this especially for a boy. That will be a beautiful gift.
      I like to have a few things going at once.... i.e. I will sew in the day when the light is good and crochet in the evening when the TV is on. This gets lots done and mixes it up a bit! Your cross stitch is gorgeous to I hope to see that too! With love Annabel.xxx

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  9. Annabel, as usual all your ideas are so practical and so pretty but the gift tags just jumped all over my heart, those are so me. This idea is definitely going on my list of thinks to do.

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    1. Dear Patsy,
      A very good site fro nice printable tags is Free Pretty Things For You. Gorgeous! Another is to cut out flower images and stick them on to card, then cut the card out in the shape of the flower with a little border left around the edges... then add a hole and ribbon. I am just working on some of theses so you will see what I mean! With love Annabel.xxx

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  10. I'm a little envious of your cooler winter weather just now as we are in the midst of a heat wave here in the middle US. My goal this week was/is to make some cards for upcoming birthdays. So are it hasn't happened due to having to water the garden & cattle each evening but the weekend is coming. :) I am also making pillowcases for all the grandchildren for their birthdays this year. I need to make up the last 3 now since their birthdays fall right around the winter holidays. Making them now will be one less thing to stress over. :)

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    1. Dear Kay,
      When its hot I find it exhausting. There si so much to do just keeping things alive.
      I love pillowcases. Even now I remember having special pillowcases when I was little! I loved them! Even for adults pillowcases are a personal gift.
      I hope the heat wave has eased up. With love Annabel.xxx

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  11. Such lovely items. I have some holiday gifts, but not nearly what you have. everything is so lovely, and anyone would be lucky to receive.

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  12. Way to go on knocking out some gifts for the men. They are the hardest for sure. I did find a great deal on a duffel at about 80% off in a brand that is teen coveted for my nephew. He is very hard to shop for every year. I am very much behind as hubby has been home all this year and taken a good bit of care but it's okay. It will all get done somehow.

    Cot here is more like a camp type bed or folding bed that can be stored away. We have two that we can take along when we visit our kids who do not have guest space. They are in no way comfortable for adults! They are great to have on hand though for extra sleeping space. When I hear a baby crib called a cot all I can think is that the baby will roll off! :)

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    1. Dear Lana, It is good you have one of the hardest presents out of the way!
      We have the first baby bed is a basinnette or crib then the bigger one is the cot. This happens all the time with words and still I miss some and no one knows what Im talking about!
      Have a good weekend Lana! With love Annabel.xxx

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  13. Dear Annabel, All your gifts are very lovely. I like your colors of your crocheted rugs.

    Love your cards. I may have to get busy and make some.
    Retirement here is busy than ever I never seem to be home!

    So many good ideas to explore!

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    1. Dear Laurie, I knew you would be busy! There is so much to do and never enough hours I think.
      Card making is really good since cards are something we use all the time! With love Annabel.xxx

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  14. Annabel,
    Everything is just so lovely! The tags and cards are just the best! And the rugs I am sure will make someone very happy and warm. Beautiful!
    XOXO
    Vicky

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    1. Thanks Vicky! We are making a lot of progress! I have a good craft report shaping up for next week! Something you will like! xxx

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  15. Dear Annabel,
    As usual, your handiwork is lovely! I am curious about what you have found for the men's gifts. They can be difficult to find gifts for!
    We got out of the heat for a few days and went to see our son and family in Colorado. Our little granddaughter was interested in learning how to sew by hand, so I had a lot of fun doing that with her. It also gave me a couple ideas for her birthday and Christmas.
    Love from Arizona,
    Elaine

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    1. Dear Elaine,
      I love that you are teaching your grand daughter to sew. I cant wait until I can teach my granddaughters sewing, crochet, cooking etc!
      I will show whats in my mens parcels after Christmas!
      I think craft related gifts are excellent... if you start your Grand daughter off she might have a life long love of sewing. My Nan taught me a lot of crochet, even flowers and more complicated things. I LOVED it and can remember and still do them all! It is really wonderful!
      With love Annabel.xxx

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  16. Wow, you've been soo busy and productive! Love your crochet blankets, and paper crafts, you have such an eye for beauty!

    I am very very curious about the gifts for men, wish you could tell us sooner than after Christmas. :) I have lots of guys (sons, brothers, husband, FIL), on my Christmas list and am running out of ideas....! Have a happy rest of the week Bluebirds, love Teresa

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    1. Dear Teresa, Thank you! I should have taken photos of the gifts before I wrapped them... I will at Christmas then show what they were! Its a while to wait though! Many thanks! Love Annabel.xxx

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  17. Okay, I'm the child. I wanna know what fabulous gifts are in those tall bags!!! I agree about finding gifts for men. A very difficult thing, except for my brother. He likes just about everything.

    My big Christmas project is always making cards. I need to get started pretty soon as I always like to have them ready to mail out in early December.

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    1. Dear Debby,
      At Christmas I will try and get photos of the unwrapping!
      As for men... food gifts they like is one of my regular gifts. Men and teenage boys seem to go mad over food. Otherwise if men have a hobbit or interest that is helpful... i.e. fishing, camping etc as these all have a lot of possible gifts.
      I love making Christmas cards! I need to do some planning on this as one thing I have a big supply of is glitter! Masses of it!
      We could have a Christmas card show and tell! Ok we better get busy! With love Annabel.xxx

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  18. Dear Annabel,
    Everything is just beautiful. Our thrift stores (op shops) here don't sell magazines which is strange as they sell all manner of books. I love all the pictures you were able to make into cards, and the ribbon adds a wonderful touch. The rugs look so inviting, with gorgeous colors, and I'm certain will be greatly appreciated by the recipients.

    I haven't officially joined the 100 day sewing challenge but am trying to make a point of getting at least 15 minutes in a day of sewing, which usually occurs very early in the morning before my husband arises. And in the evening I'm continuing to crochet spa clothes from the never ending cone of cotton yarn that I have. Inbetween has been devoted to garden activities and canning and dehydrating. Blessings, Cookie

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    1. Dear Cookie,
      Usually books are a bit more expensive than magazines but overall books are better for card making as the paper is thicker and better quality which means you can better cards in the end. So watch for books that are full of glorious images you love. I love rose or shabby chic type books.
      It is so good you have all that cotton! I have almost none left from my once good stash!
      While you have produce canning and dehydration and cooking is the best thing you can do as these things don't wait for anyone! Life is so beautiful with all of these lovely things and some sewing snuck in too! With love Annabel.xxx

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  19. I am not a crafter and therefore I don't make many gifts. OTOH, I don't give gifts to neighbors and friends or co-workers, but to my immediate family only, so gifting is not really a big part of my life or budget.

    I do budget for gifts and buy them as I find them. (Which means I am never broke in January). I already have my DD's birthday gift (September) and my future DIL's Christmas gift. The latter is a signed art print I found on eBay. (The picture is of a church next door to where she used to live!). The seller was asking $180; I offered $110; I bought it for $130. Now I only have $20 left ($150 budget--$100 for birthdays) for frankincense and myrrh, but fortunately good gifts come in all price ranges. Finding them will be part of the fun. (BTW, if you see "Make an Offer" on an online item, always offer 25% to a third less than the stated price. It has worked EVERY TIME for me).

    We follow the Three Gifts of the Magi tradition, but they don't have to be 3 equal gifts. I've already made blueberry jam this year (about $2 pint) and hoping to make wild blackberry jelly in two weeks. Fiance likes jam, so I'll make up a gift basket of homemade food for one of her gifts. Maybe with a quick bread or some muffins, and some teabags out of my pantry. BTW, she will be my DIL in September.

    What I'm hoping for is to find some good blue jeans patterns on the 'net. As I've said, I'm not a crafter, but I can sew. My DS barbecues and I was thinking a blue jeans BQ apron and potholder for one of his 3 gifts for Christmas. I also like to get him something used every year (to keep him humble!), so I'll be checking around. Although old, worn-out blue jeans might be used enough...!

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  20. Dear mikemax, If you can sew that is enough to make so many wonderful things! Many of the ladies here sew all their gifts. You sound well ahead on your present cupboard!
    Cooking is another fantastic way to make gifts! So you have a wide range of choices! This is excellent!
    There are amazing things you can make from denim. One lady here made a denim quilt for a teenage son and it was gorgeous. She included the pockets. I loved it!
    Thanks for the tip on "make an offer" with love Annabel.xxx

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