BAM Family

BAM Family

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frugal Festivities: Decorating for Christmas on a Budget

It's the first Saturday and December and if you aren't the "buy/put-up-the-tree-the-day-after-Thanksgiving" type, you are probably buying/putting up your tree today and thinking about how to make your home festive for the holidays!

Honestly though, if you weren't smart  lucky enough (I wasn't) to score major sales on Christmas decorations on on December 26th last year, decorating on a budget can be a daunting task. 

Here are some simple projects I've made this year (or in past years) that make my house feel like Christmas:

Homemade Sweater Stockings
I made these stockings a few years ago from felted wool sweaters that I bought from Goodwill. 
(felting = wash and dry on HOT)
I found a simple stocking pattern online used that as a template. Stockings are such a family tradition and even though I had a beautiful knitted stocking from growing up, I wanted new ones for my new family. 
You can personalize your homemade stockings in many ways, especially from a sweater--for mine (in case you couldn't tell, the hurts-your-eyes pink one above. I must have been acutely feeling the testosterone in my home the year I made this) I used the cowl collar of the sweater for the opening of the stocking. Pretty!
Even if you already have stockings, monogramming them can add a special personalized touch to your holiday decor. 

Countdown to Christmas Garland
I did a blog post about our 24 day Countdown to Christmas Activities here...
...but this fun activity also doubles as a garland for our mantle. 
(if you click on the picture you can see that the decorations on the Left are stacked holiday tins. These were left over from cookies and hot chocolate gifts that I received in years past. Totally free!)

So, you may be saying, hey...your stockings are on the mantle in your previous pictures. Well, last year they were, but this year I have them hanging from the top of our upright piano. The bright colors of the stockings contrast beautifully against the dark wood. 
 Placing your stockings in a unique location can add freshness to your holiday decorating and provide color and cheer to a perhaps neglected area of your home. 

Twiggy Christmas tree
I wanted something simple and striking to grace a small bookcase by my front door so I decided to fill a  vase with rice and poke some branches in (collected from my back yard). I added a few simple red balls and a photo ornament from when the boys were one and ta-da! Unique and fun! (Later I added the BAM letter ornaments that are on my blog header to this twiggy tree)

DIY Paper Stars
I found this tutorial for these paper stars via pintrest. Though they are a little hard to see in the picture due to the glare of the sun, they look absolutely beautiful and add a special touch to my dining room.
I used cardstock for these but I've had some friends make them out of wrapping paper too! Pretty!
They look great in a window or would be absolutely magical if hung from the ceiling in your child's room too! 

DIY Festive Phrases Painting
I can't take credit for this project because my sister-in-law Brittany (yes we have the same name. There were two Brittany Meng's in the same family for a few months before she got married) made me these little beauties last year for Christmas! How much fun is this? Simple and sweet but with a big decorating impact. She used small canvas cards (they aren't very thick) from a craft store. 
"Ho! Ho! HO! Would be a fun combination too!

I am really not much of a decorator. This is actually the first year that I have actually decorated my house (beyond simply a Christmas tree) for Christmas. I love it and it feels very festive! I hope that these ideas inspire you to add simple and inexpensive decorations to your own home for the holidays. 

DIY Gifts for Grown-Ups

Christmas is coming! 
How about some DIY gifts for the grown-ups in your life? (Can you tell I spend most of my days with kids?)

Buttercup Bag
(The lady who designed this bag offers a FREE pattern on her blog for a small purse. 
I bought the larger pattern for an extremely low price. So worth it!)
Even a beginning sewer can complete this easy purse.
I made bags for all my sisters and sis-in-laws and best friends a few years ago for Christmas. 
What made this project super economical was the fact that I made all the bags from upcycled clothing and fabric that I got at Goodwill (the lining of this purse is new fabric). This pink purse is made from a lady's blazer. I also made bags from corduroy pants and curtains. 
Every purse is one of a kind!
If you are into fashion and going green, this is the project for you. 

Sewing Machine Pin Cushion
If you have a mom, grandma or hey, even a best friend that sews, this is a sweet, fast little project. 
Click here for how to sew this simple pin cushion that ties onto your sewing machine. No more rolling your pin cushion onto the floor! 

Monogramed Ornaments
Last year, I made monogramed ornaments for every member of my family and extended family. Wow! That was a big project--but fun too! With just a little craft felt, crochet thread, ribbon and hot glue, you can make a personalized gift for your family and friends to grace their Christmas tree year after year. 

Christmas Cards or Note Cards from Kids Artwork
Do you have a ton of your kids' artwork that you don't know what to do with? Cut it up and make note cards out of it to give to your parents, grandparents and teachers!

Favorite Sweatshirt Pillow
Ok, I know these ideas are low on the scale of male ideas. And aren't men the hardest to shop for? Here's a little idea of what to do with his favorite sweatshirt that is just not wearable anymore. Make a pillow out of it! (Be sure that he really is ok with you cutting up his shirt though...believe me.)
I made this soft pillow a friend's request and he loved the outcome! 
And I loved that it was so fast and easy to make.

Food!
When all else fails and you don't know know what to make for all those people on your list, make them food. Everyone loves food, especially cookies!
These Mint Double Chocolate Chip Cookies are DELICIOUS, easy, and super economical--the base is  cake mix!

Hope this gives you some DIY ideas for your family and friends!

Coming soon: DIY Christmas Decorating on a Budget

DIY Christmas Gift Ideas for Kids

Christmas is coming! 
Are you planning on making gifts this year for the kids in your life? I'd love to share some ideas from my past projects with you. Most have links to blog posts or tutorials--feel free to use them for your gift making this year. 

Play Food
All kids love play food! This would be a great gift for boys or girls age 2 on up! 
Everyone loves sandwiches! Grilled cheese....

...or peanut butter and jelly!

Felt Mr. Potato Head

This toy is so inexpensive and can easily be customized for a little boy or girl (Mrs. Potato Head, anyone?)

Felt Puppets

Do you have a budding performer in your family? How felt puppets to spark their imagination? 
We made a lion and a chicken at our house! 

Treasure Bags
Does your little guy or girl need a special bag to stash their stuff? Make a simple bag (with or without a zipper) to for your little one to keep his or her treasures!

Super Hero Mask and Cape
My boys love to play superheroes! 
Mask:
1. Cut 2 simple mask shapes from felt
2. Stich around the outside and eye holes
3. Stich elastic to fit your child's head
Cape:
1. Cut out the back of a large men's t-shirt in your super-hero's favorite color
2. Cut out a simple letter from felt or knit and zig-zag to the back
3. Hem sides and top with zig-zag
4. Add a hook and loop closure
SUPERHEROES!

Dinosaur Tails
Make a dinosaur or dragon tail for your little monsters! 

Character Pillows
....even for the beginning sewer. 
Score one of those 40% off coupons from Joann's and this project will be very inexpensive too! 

Softy Owl
Make a sweet softy owl for your little one. Draw a simple shape on paper first and then use your pattern to cut out. Use felt for the eyes and beak. 

Homemade Bibs
Upcycle your old receiving blankets into bibs for your little or big kid. 
(UPDATE: Two pieces of flannel work great too. Reversible bib, anyone?

Christmas Dresses
Every little girl needs a Christmas dress! A new dress doesn't need to break the bank. All of these outfits were made of upcycled clothing

Monogramed Blankets
Even a simple blanket can be personalized for that special little one in your life.
Add a monogram for a special touch to your Christmas gifts.

Topsy Turvy Doll 
I wish I had a blog post about this doll but sadly, I do not! I made this a few years ago for my little niece and I adore how it turned out. It took a little time but the end result was totally worth it! 
Check out this FREE pattern here

Stay tuned! DIY Christmas Gift Ideas for Grown-ups is coming up later this week!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

DIY Countdown to Christmas

Christmas is coming!!! 
When I was a kid, I always loved one-a-day countdown to Christmas activities. We usually had one of those Advent calendars where you opened up a little "door" a day or this Advent calendar (we had this one when I was a kid and my parents very generously bought it for us this year!) 
In addition to our one-a-day Nativity Advent Calendar, I made a one-a-day Countdown to Christmas using this picture via Pintrest as my inspiration. I made the envelopes out of fleece by hand-stitching them together and embroidering the numbers. I also made the buttons out of Sculpy clay and sewed them on (I started this project last Tuesday and finished today so it took me a few days).
 I am going to put little gifts or pieces of paper with fun activities that we will do each day leading up to Christmas
Thu1. Tow Mater Socks (Dollar Section at Target)
Fri2. Make Cookies with Mommy/Christmas Party!
Sat3. Make Christmas snowmen ornaments
Sun4. Mini Candy Canes
Mon5. Corduroy Christmas Book (a lift-the-flap book I got at the used book store)
Tue6. Make Nativity toys (been saving the toilet paper rolls!)
Wed7. Drink hot chocolate with marshmallows
Thu8. Chocolate Candy
Sat10. Watch Veggies tales Christmas movie
Sun11. Mini Candy Canes
Mon12. The Night before Christmas book (used bookstore)
Tue13. Play games on the computer (evening)
Wed14. Ride on Train at the mall
Thu15. Chocolate Candy
Sat17. Bubble bath (Dollar Section at Target)
Sun18. Mini Candy canes
 Mon19. Make Christmas Cards for Teachers 
Tue20. Play games on the Wii (evening)
Thu22. Chocolate Candy
Fri23. Go look at Christmas lights
Sat24. Away in the Manger Book (used bookstore)
We don't have a lot of money for Christmas presents this year but I am hoping that we can make some great memories together with these special activities
 I am looking froward to celebrating the whole month with Micah
...and Benji. 
Oh, and Aaron too. :) 

How do you count down to Christmas? Please share your ideas and traditions! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Meng Menu: Thanksgiving +(Recipe for Apple Sausage Stuffing!)


Sunday: Calzones, salad
Monday: Ham, roasted herbed red potatoes, green beans
Tuesday: Stuffed Shells w/marinara sauce, greek salad
Wednesday: Cheeseburger Soup, rolls
Thursday: Thanksgiving = Turkey, Apple Sausage Stuffing (RECIPE BELOW!), Mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, Cressent rolls, blueberry pie
Friday: Turkey Pot Pie
Saturday: Turkey Sandwiches, leftovers

So, I had such a hard time coming up with menu planning this week before Thanksgiving--I had turkey on the brain! We are just doing Thanksgiving alone this year (sniff!); our plans to go to FL fell through due to copious medical bills....oh well. 

We budgeted at total of $300 for groceries for this week and last week because of Thanksgiving shopping but I am proud to say that we didn't need the extra $$! I spent $122 last week ant $119 this week! YEA! Plus, included in the $119 was shampoo and conditioner, paper towels, a brining bag for the turkey, plus a few extra "yummies" like root beer, goldfish crackers, and egg nog! YUM!

I am looking forward to holiday food--we are still trying to figure out how we are going to cook our turkey: fried or smoked? 

I am looking forward to a break from school this week--relaxing, crafting, holiday decorating, painting the livingroom, and cooking (oh, and grading...:P) coming right up!

Apple Sausage Stuffing
Serves 10-12

Ingredients:
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 small (or two medium) apples (I used gala), peeled, cored and finely diced
1 red onion, finely diced
1/2 pound mild sausage
3-4 TBS butter
One bag Pepperidge Farm herbed stuffing
2 cups hot chicken stock

Make it:
1. Brown the sausage in a large skillet. Drain and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, melt the butter and add the veggies and fruit. Saute for 5-8 minutes, or until tender-crisp. 
3. Pour stuffing into a 9 x 13 casserole dish and add veggies/fruit and sausage. 
4. Pour chicken stock on top and mix everything together. 
5. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Cover with foil if you like a soft stuffing, or leave uncovered for a crispy top. 

Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving to you all! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Three years of pictures: How they grow!

10 months old (2008)
(Sorry, year 2 got skipped for the professional photo shoot)
3 years old (2010)

 4 years old (2011)
 (How I feel often as a mother of 4 year old twin boys)
(not my favorite photo of me--one of those "do I really look like that in real life?" pictures and a "I need to lose about 10 pounds" pictures)
But, for the sake of comparison to photo one, WOW! How they grow! 
And it is the same kid in both pictures on the same side: Micah on R, Benji on L in both pictures!) 

(All Photos taken by Sabrena Carter Deal)

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