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 24 January 2017

The Christmas Challenge. A beautiful idea from Marilyn.

The last week saw me add bottles of vanilla essence to my gift stash. I already gave two away. I started this brewing in about October last year. Finally I had some lovely bottles to use and printed some labels I found online to finish them off.

They are generous sized bottles and I think they will go in with kitchen gifts well. A bottle of vanilla, some jam, some bay leaves...  that kind of thing.

There are printable labels for just about anything you can think of and these make things look much better!  This one had great instructions I thought.

My bubble bars were not very successful. I have been using them but they won't be gifts. They didn't dry hard and remained mushy! Still they smell good and do bubble so at least I can use this all up.  Back to the drawing board on that one!

Now over to Marilyn B.  She emailed me with a great idea that I think needs to be shared. This covers everything we are talking about... something that can be made from what we have,  inexpensively and even really good to post.  And very versatile!

Marilyn decorated her Christmas table with coasters she made from old cards.
She laminated them so they are sealed,  waterproof and re useable.

I love to make a table setting special and straight away thought oh my goodness you could do this for any occasion! Valentines Day,  Easter,  children's birthday parties with any theme you want,  a baby shower with Beatrix Potter or Wiinie the Pooh coasters! 

Marilyn used cards she recycled. You could also use any gorgeous images you have,  picture books, magazine images. If the image had writing on the back you could just have a layer of plain cardboard to conceal that.

Then she made them into little gift packs as well to give away...

And next she applied the same thing to making book marks...

I have access to a laminator as Chloe has one. But you can look online and see that you can use an ordinary iron to seal laminating sheets!  
So I am looking for the images I want to do this with.  I want to do both coasters and bookmarks.  Watch this space as I am planning on sealing glitter and sparkles, confetti, rose images, birds and some of my favourite verses.  
I also thought how you could make children's place mats from pictures they have drawn or an image you know they are going to love.  There are so many possibilities! 

Thank you so much Marilyn for sharing this with us and taking the time to email me with photos and explaining what you did.  What a great idea, thank you! 

I noticed Aldi recently had laminator pockets. I hope they might still have them!

This week I am making (or trying to) a copy of Lush "Angels on bare skin" cleanser.  I hope this is successful!  I think so as it doesn't have to set, it goes into a jar.  
I am crocheting little cotton wash cloths to add to my spa themed gifts and packaging up Bay Leaves as they are now dry.  (they will go into the kitchen themed gifts!) 

Truthfully, I might not get so much done as we have a new baby due in 8 days! I would really appreciate prayers for Lucy and the new baby if that would be ok.
Also Mel S (she is the one who lives in Adelaide also... we have more than one Mel!) has lost her Dad and if you would pray for her that would be wonderful.

I hope your week is going well! It is sunny and mild here and perfect just now! I have a few more peaches to pick! 
What have you been working on? Finding wonderful bargains, adding wrap, cards or anything you need for gift giving also counts towards your gift cupboard! xxx


  1. What a great idea of Marilyn's!and also as you said this could be applied to all sorts of things like placemats for other special times.
    Mel in Adelaide -sending you a big hug at this sad time for you and family XOX
    Annabel -sending all the best for Lucy and baby no 2's safe arrival.
    Love Maria xxx

  2. Prayers going up for Lucy, the new baby, and the entire family. Praying also for Mel and her family.
    Blessings, Leigh

  3. Annabel the place mats are an old Brownie/Guide Leaders thing - the girls would either drawer or colour in a picture and it would be laminated for them to use while on an indoors camp. I also had double sided sheets of graces laminated - they could then be used for many camps.

    Just be careful with how much sparkly stuff you add to the pictures - I had a few disappointed girls who loved all things sparkly and when it came to laminating their pictures they were just too bulky to make it work.

    Thinking of Mel at this hard time - I know she lived quite a distance from her parents which makes it even harder. Also of Lucy, these 8 days are going to be the longest ones for you.


    1. Dear Lynette, Thank you I will show the results if they are ok and keep things very flat thanks for the tip!
      Yes poor Mel has had a lot including long distance travel.
      We are lucky it is not really hot weather especially for Lucy I hated being pregnant and the heat! Yuk!
      Much love

    2. Hi ladies,
      You could cover bulky things with contact paper instead of laminating. We did that for a children's party. We cut pieces of contact paper to placemat size, let them glitter, paper, stickers ribbons, whatever they wanted. being too bulky wasn't really a problem. Then we carefully laid a second piece of contact paper on top, sealing from the center out. They turned out really cute, and I noticed over a year later we visited the house of one of the girls who was at the party, and she was still using her placemat in her "spot" at the table.

  4. Love this idea =especially the place mats made with school projects. I have just the one from my grandson that I can't wait to make this way. Great idea!

  5. Annabel, I love the coaster idea and the book mark idea! The idea of using children's drawings appeals to me. I'm thinking that you would want to reduce them in size to make coasters and bookmarks too. What pattern are you using for your wash cloths? I will be praying for Mel and will continue praying for Lucy. Thanks for another great gift/Christmas post!

    1. Dear Patsy, I don't really follow patterns. Or should I say I cant follow patterns. I do granny square type ones in a small tight stitch, a sea shell pattern I learned from you tube, or just single crochet rows.
      Thanks for your prayers! Love


  6. Hi Annabel and birds of a feather!

    The generous bottles of vanilla extract look wonderful, labels and all! That's a superb gift!

    I really like how Marilyn's work has become a helpful resource while Lucy's second little one is anticipated! (Hint, hint, every Bluebirder!! Ha ha!!)

    Mel S, you have had a rough trot. I have been praying for you and your Dad through recent times. My hope is that you knew that the Rock was with you as your strength, and that some goodness came through the hardship. Rest now. You need it.

    What am I working on? It's best that you wait and see!!

    With very warm regards,
    Rachel Holt
    'blog secretary'

  7. Annabel, love the vanilla! And the coasters are super cute. This group always has such wonderful ideas. Beautiful calendars are another great source of images to laminate. I've seen 'souvenir' placemats that are really just laminated images printed on paper. They are expensive! Prayers for darling Mel. I'm so sorry to hear she's lost her Dad. Sending love and hugs to her. Love, Mimi xxx

  8. Annabel the bookmarks and coasters is a great idea. These would fit in with your plans for things that could go easily through the post.
    My thoughts and prayers are with Mel S on her loss of such a significant soul. Big hugs sweet lady for you and your family.
    I have been remembering Lucy and bubby in my prayers since we first found out she was expecting. I hope that Lucy can find a nice cool place to be comfortable in for the next week. My thoughts are with you too Annabel, as our babies are very much in the front of our minds this close to the birth of their bubs. Much love to you all.
    Remember that life is good and full of small miracles.

    1. Dear Jane,
      Thank you. I am possibly more nervous etc than Lucy. She seems perfectly calm really.
      Your DiL is very clever by the way and I think we can expand on the coaster idea from here! I am watching out for tiles!
      Today is beautiful and mild. We are having a picnic! Have a wonderful day! With love

  9. Annabel, not long till you see your new grandchild. How wonderful. You are very fortunate that you live so close and have such a good relationship with Lucy. I will be praying for her and Mel as well. I have seen online somewhere about placemats made from Christmas cards which have been laminated. They looked great.

  10. Dear Annabel and the BBB 's ( bluebird bikers) !, firstly I must say I am thinking of Lucy and she will be in my thoughts in the coming weeks and months as she has the new baby. Annabel I don't pray very often but I have a few thoughts on my mind that I was going to pray about so Lucy will be part of that prayer. So will Mel S. , mel I am so so sorry to hear about your Dad , sending you hugs and my deepest sympathy .i will keep you in my thoughts and include you in the prayer when I pray.

    Annabel I love this post and not just for the paper craft ideas , I love them of course but I absolutely love the vanilla idea . I have seen it as a gift idea before but I have thought it was too hard in the past , you make it look so easy Annabel.
    I have not done much gift making this week but I have been researching for more ideas , I have spent time on Pinterest and Google. I have been amazed at how much these big hamper and flower companies charge for hampers/ baskets of goodies. I am putting together hampers as gifts and some companies charg nearly. $20 just for an empty basket!!. No way could or would I pay that!. I hope everyone is having a good week. Annabel is show and tell next week or the week after. Please?.love Barb

    1. Dear Barb, Thank you very much! You are right about the gift baskets. Many places put five thing sin a basket and fancy it up then times the price of the goods by 5 and people pay it as it saves them doing it themselves! I am continually amazed at the prices! Yes we can do this!
      The vanilla is so easy its just vanilla beans in vodka and it takes time. It starts off clear and gets richer and richer. Plus you can keep it going as the beans will keep producing more for ages. I love vanilla in so many things and I love the scent.
      Research is good! Its all about gathering ideas and knowing the prices too! With lots of love

  11. Beautiful post Annabel!
    I will be praying for lucy and the baby for safe delivery and that the weather stays mild. What an exciting time. Mel is in my prayers. I pray for comfort and the peace that passes all understanding.
    Paper crafts are fun. You can use wide clear tape to laminate book marks. We can buy clear contact paper here if we want to do a little laminating. Also teacher and office supply stores have reasonable prices on laminating. I worked on my sewing corner and it looks much better. I want a tall shelf to go behind my sewing desk. I will keep watching Craigslist and other second hand places. Gift baskets are so fun to make. We made one up for a house warming. Have a blessed week ladies.
    Much love Patti

    1. Dear Patti,
      Oh my goodness... I just never thought of using wide tape for bookmarks. That is rather brilliant! Thank you! You have really got me thinking!
      Well done on your sewing corner, I hope you find just the right shelves! A good set up is such a help! Thank you Patti! With love

  12. Annabel,
    Prayers for Mel. I am so sorry to hear about your loss.
    And prayers for Lucy and the new baby! What a joy a new baby is though as rough as it can be at times to get them here.
    Marilyn I love your coasters they are super cute.
    Annabel your vanilla looks divine and expensive too what a lovely gift!
    And Rachel I can't wait to see what your working on!
    Happy crafting everyone!

  13. Sincere condolences to Mel. It's an awful thing losing a dad. I'll be sending kind thoughts your way. And of course dear Lucy about to produce the next adorable baby. I'm sure all will be well and your devotion and kindness will be lapped up Annabel.

    I laminated the Beatrix potter bookmarks a couple of years ago from strangers and pilgrims blog. They are worth looking at too but agree a personalised one might be better.

    I had to go past spotlight today on the way home from somewhere and I was very surprised when the car turned in there, and seeing as it was nice enough to take me there I bought 14 lots of fabric!!!!

    Off to work the next couple of days so will dream in my head about making it up.

    Enjoy the next few days as grandma to 1 before you have to say "my grandchildREN!!!

    Fi xx

    1. Your car is really well trained! haha I hope you are having a lovely Australia Day! xxx

    2. Fi, I have had to have strong words with my car. It is not allowed to take us to Spotlight at all. I have to keep reminding it that we are on our use it up year.

    3. Lol Annabel, I didn't even have to train it, I think it's psychic! Jane I'm not sure I want to have strong words yet ...... I'll see if it takes me there again. I'm quite impressed at it's mind reading abilities. Sometimes it takes me to the library when I didn't even realize I wanted to. Either that or I'm going mad. Hmm, better ponder that.

  14. Lucy is in my Prayers and the new baby all the best to you all.xox
    Mel iam sorry for your loss,the memories of your dad with stay forever in your heart,and may with time heal your pain a little xxx

  15. Dear Annabel,

    I had just been thinking about Lucy and wondering how she's been doing and when a new grandbaby might be arriving. Prayers for both Lucy and new baby. And I am very sorry to hear about Mel's Dad.

    Your vanilla labels are beautiful...they make the bottles look like something from a medicine side show in the 1800's! :) My vanilla is steeping along and just starting to turn color...very exciting! Great idea for coasters...they look very smart!

    xx Jen in NS

    1. Dear Jen,
      I had those old bottles in my jar cupboard and they were really just right as they have screw top lids. That thick old glass too...
      Vanilla is very useful to have on hand too. Much love

  16. Dear Annabel,
    Sending my condolences and prayers for Mel S.and her family during this difficult time of loss.

    How exciting that there are only 8 days left before Lucy has her baby. Children indeed are a blessing from the Lord.

    The vanilla and it's packaging look so elegant,Anabel. Lucky are those who'll be gifted with it. I loved Marilyn's coasters and bookmarks. So many possibilities. Thank you for sharing them.

    I've been working on a couple of things and will send some pictures as soon as they're finished. I think I'll be mysterious like Rachel on this one:) However, since reading Monday's post I've been doing nothing but "creating more space for storage items and also now have a pile of things to be donated. Wishing everyone a beautiful and creative week. Blessings, Cookie

  17. What neat ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Prayers said for Mel S for comfort and peace on the loss of her father. Prayers also said for Lucy and the new baby. How exciting!

    I love your vanilla bottles and labels, Annabel, I have been thinking of doing this for some time and I think seeing yours has really got it fixed in my mind so I remember to go buy vanilla beans and vodka!

    Thank you Marilyn, I love your coasters and using Christmas cards is a great idea! I have seen coasters made before by printing out photographs onto regular paper and modge-podging them onto matte ceramic tiles. What type of material did you use for the surface of your coasters, tiles?

    Annabel, I have been meaning to send you a photo of the box of eggs on the shelf at our Walmart this past weekend that were 60 large eggs for $2.08! Eggs were very pricey at one time last year because of bird flu so that same box of eggs had been $17.xx!

    I don't know if I posted it here or not, but our son bought us four weeks of Blue Apron food as a Christmas gift. We receive a box every Wednesday with all of the ingredients and recipe cards for three meals. We've enjoyed receiving these but it is quite spendy and a tremendous amount of prep to cook these meals. What I am learning is that more intensely flavored foods (many of the spices used in these dishes are ones I am not familiar with using regularly) really make dinners exciting, so I am going to continue this in some of my more mundane dishes. I have also dusted off my electric pressure cooker and plan to get it back into rotation in my kitchen. I've pledged to use it once a week or I will give it to one of my daughters or my son to have. No sense in keeping it if I don't use it, right?!

    I'm still deciding on Christmas projects for this year, and have a short list so far. I need to get moving or it will be December already again!


  19. Hi Annabel, everything is so pretty, and wow oh wow, love the idea of the laminated coasters. What an excellent addition to all the ideas you have presented here over the months. Congrats on the upcoming birth of another grandchild!

  20. Oh, what great inspirations for gift basket components! You've really gotten my imagination going. DH and I enjoy going to estate sales and yard sales on Saturdays, and I've been picking up pretty containers to put things in for gifts. Last week I found a couple of small teapots which I was going to gift with Lemon Balm from my garden. Coasters from laminated pictures would go so well with that, and could be themed especially for the recipient!

    Prayers for Mel as she adjusts to her loss. It's hard to say goodbye to a parent. Prayers for Lucy also, that all would go well with the birth (how exciting!).

  21. Thank you for including my coaster and book mark ideas in your blog Annabel. It gave me a real buzz.
    Sending hugs to Mel, it is so sad to say goodbye to your parents. It takes a long time to adjust to life without them.
    I hope your new grandchild arrives safely. Love to Lucy too. My only grand daughter is Lucy and I love the name.

    1. Dear Marilyn, Thank you so much for the idea and taking the time to share it with me. We are all busy yet we can be a big help to each other and I really appreciate it!
      I am glad you have a Lucy too! With much love

  22. Hi Annabel and all Bluebirdians,
    The bottles of vanilla look divine and I do love the labels.
    What a great idea of Marilyn's! also as you said this could be applied to all sorts of things like placemats for other special times.
    Mel S -sending you a big hug at this sad time for you and family
    Annabel -sending all the best for Lucy and baby no 2's safe arrival, I think that we as Grandparents worry more than the one having the baby. It is an exciting time for all of you waiting to met the new little one.
    I visited Dad at the farm yesterday and he gave me about 10kg of nectarines and heaps of zucchinis, squash and cucumbers so I will be busy making pickles and jams and stewing some for the freezer.
    We have a cool few days here so enjoying that before the heat comes back
    Love Debbie xx

    1. Dear Debbie,
      I love how your Dad sent you home with so much beautiful stuff! How wonderful! I know you will so so much with all of that.
      I agree we worry more than they do...
      Have a lovely weekend! Love


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