Archive for gifts

Natural Homemade Valentines Gifts

Valentines Day is just around the corner and that special someone in your life is expecting something special. Can you afford to go out and buy them something sparkly and gold? Have you already bought them something like this and now it’s time for something different? Have you ever considered giving them something you created yourself, as a special gift that takes thought and consideration? Is your special someone who would enjoy something special like this? If so, then consider making something sweet, lovely, warm and creative that will leave them with something they can use all year and perhaps think of you every time they do.

Most of these projects are very simple and require very few ingredients. The ingredients they do require are easy to find for the most part and where they aren’t, I either provide links or good leads on where to find them. Overall, I truly believe that making these items yourself not only saves you money but it also stimulates your creativity and craftiness. Once you see how nice the items are that you can make, you may be motivated to keep going. Natural products are safe, holistic, organic, cheaper, funner and more full of love! Only the most jaded lover or partner would reject these thoughtful, loving gifts because they weren’t made in China or came from Walmart! Remember the days when we used to be able to buy local, handmade arts and crafts that cost a bit more but had truly lasting value and were usually made here in the good old U.S.A? Well, it’s up to use to rekindle that kind of quality product. Give it a try. Who knows maybe you’ll be so good at it you’ll end up selling your product to your neighbors! At the very least, you will have given someone you love the ultimate expression of love: something you took the time and energy to make, just for them! Happy Valentines Day!

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New Charitable Website and Monthly Contest

I just launched my new site, “Cheap and Charitable”. This is a charity blog/website and shopping portal. I want to kick it off by giving away a prize every month of the first year. A different prize will be given each month, starting in July. Julys’ prize is a cellphone. This is a Motorola L2 TriBand Unlocked GSM Cellphone. You can enter to win this until July 31st, at which time the prize changes. At any time, if you go to the same link you can enter the current month’s contest.

The purpose of cheap and charitable is three fold. One: to make people aware of the various issues that face our world today, issues like human trafficking and homeless vets, and give them ideas, motivation and links to help. Two: to offer lots of products at discount prices and at great value and include coupons. Three: to sell enough product through my partners to garner money for charity. That’s it.

If you wish to enter the contest you will have to answer three questions correctly.  The answers are on the front page of the site, in the text.  If you wish to visit the site to find and answer the questions, then follow the link below. Look for the widget in the sidebar that has the three questions for this month and once you have the answers, click on the link to enter. It’s that simple. Once you enter the contest you will be sent a link to your email each month for a chance to enter the next month’s contest. It doesn’t cost you a thing. Unless, of course, you take a look around Cheap and Charitable and decide to do some of your shopping there. Lots of needy people and animals would thank you!

So go here to find the questions:


… and GOOD LUCK!


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Summer Craft Project: Sunflower Wreath

Summer Wreath Project: Sunflower

This is a design of my own that I came up with a few years back and have made every other year or so since. It is a really pretty wreath when finished and it brightens up any room. It doesn’t involve a lot of expensive ingredients and all of it is easy to find in craft stores and even Wal-Mart. Cheer up the sunroom this year with this lovely wreath.

What you will need:

Large Eucalyptus Leaves
Lemon Leaves
Floral Wire
Wire Wreath Base (the larger the better!)
Cattails or Bottlebrush Anthers
Spanish Moss
Floral Picks
Floral Glue

Simple Instructions:

Using floral glue or hot glue gun, grab handfuls of the Spanish Moss and attach it to the wire frame with the glue. Bunch it so that it does not stick out of the sides or straggle. Also pad it down (taking out extra if need be) to make it lay flat and not be “bumpy”. Wire it in if need be to make it lay flat. But also make sure it is thick and covers the wire frame completely. I have found that wrapping the bunches of moss and the wire frame over with the floral wire helps to make it even and tight.

Next, sort out the large Eucalyptus Leaves and bunch them together in a group of 4 of 5. Wire them together and then tack them to the wire frame. Tack bunches closely together all around the frame so that it covers the frame. Allow the leaves to point in different directions to give the wreath a full and fluffy look.

Group together the anthers in bunches of 5 and wire together as a group. Tie in two groups of 5 anthers on each side of the wreath, measuring on average 1/4 length from the top and the bottom of the wreath sides. Make them even to the eye. You should have two bunches of anthers on each side. See photo for clarity.

Plug in the large Yarrow heads at the very top and very bottom of the wreath. Make sure they are balanced and then wire them in. Push Lemon leaves in behind the Yarrow all the way around to make them look like Sunflowers. Glue them in with the glue gun or floral glue or use the floral picks.

The finished wreath smells fantastic and looks gorgeous when fresh. It dries gracefully as well, I have one that is several years old that is still hanging. This wreath loses its smell about every 2 years so it’s a good idea to make a new one every so often. Have fun!

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Eco Freindly Readers

There is no excuse in this day and age to be buying magazines, newspapers or even books! Admittedly, there are already an awful lot of books in circulation on this planet and it’s better to keep passing them along than throw them out. Magazines and newspapers have a place in big events, such as the 2008 Presidential election. They make great keepsakes of big events, photos and all.

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Gift Idea: Homemade Scrubs and Lotions

Here are some great ideas for homemade gifts people will just love! I have used every product I list here, made it myself and can swear on a stack of bibles that each one is easy and luscious. Some are more expensive to make than others so pick and choose as suits you. But each and every one will save you money over the retail version and when you take the time to make it yourself, it just drips with love. The way to rush past any possible negative reaction is to package carefully. Pretty bottles with ribbons and painted decorations are reassuring to “retail focused” consumers. Make sure you cap or stopper the product well and always tell them that there is nothing in it that can go bad or make them sick. None of these are edible, although the scrubs sound like they are! So folks shouldn’t be nervous about using them.

Some of these recipes take less than a half hour to make and can be packaged in a beautiful bottle and given for Christmas with delightful results. Body scrubs are the hot product of the day so make some up and package them in lovely jars. Your friends will love you for it, I promise. Some of these recipes are so awesome, they make your skin feel so soft and new, almost like a baby! Hey, I’m saying this and I’m a middle aged woman with a thyroid problem that makes my skin look like suede. So, if it made me feel good, you know it rocks! The only problem with this idea is once you make this stuff… you won’t want to give it to anybody! Be careful, folks. I ended up with an awful lot of scrubs, lotions and rinses, so much so that I just could not use it all over time. When we’re trying to go green, surplus is undesired. So make some and give it but don’t overdo it! Have fun.

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May All Your Christmases be Green!

It’s almost that time of year again and this year is going to be hard. With the economy on a downward spiral, many of us out of work and the cost of goods rising daily, it does not seem to be a joyful time of year. But there are good ideas on how to get useful stuff for friends and family, keeping it green and save money at the same time. In fact, going green saves money no matter how you look at it. It’s our overly commercial, plasticized and technology driven lifestyle that costs a lot to maintain and robs the planet at the same time.

So let’s see if going green is feasible and affordable. I have done a previous post on how to give green gifts that will help you with the gifting choices. But a lot more goes into Christmas than just the presents. There is, of course, the tree and the decorations that go on it. There is the packaging for all those gifts; a pile of plastic store packages wrapped in gift wrap, all of which gets torn to shreds and tossed in the trash. Ouch. According to an article I saw on Associated Content, over 4.4 million tons of holiday gift wrap, shopping bags, and holiday catalogs are sent straight to the landfills each year. And then to all of this you have to add the gas you spend scooting through bumper to bumper traffic from store to store and mall to mall, searching for the right item at the right price. And don’t forget the extraneous stuff like the extra electricity it takes to power all those decorations, especially Rudolph and the Elves on the front lawn surrounded by 400 feet of flashing colored lights. So how do you stop spending and wasting? How do you do the planet the favor and go green? Here are some ideas.

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How to Give Green Gifts

As a part of my series on how to have a green Christmas, I thought I would get back to the making and giving of green gifts. There is no way you will get through the season without having to buy a gift for someone, even if it’s just a secret Santa thing at the office. It would be nice if you could spend a reasonable amount of money or time and get something that is earth friendly to boot. But it’s not as hard as you might think. The marketplace for eco friendly goods has literally exploded in the past few years and there are offerings of every kind. Remember making or buying green gifts reduces pollution, conserves resources, promotes fair treatment for workers, sends a powerful message to businesses about the importance of environment, and doubles the love of the gift you are giving. Here’s how to find or create great green gifts for everyone on your list.

One of the easiest and most popular is to give food! Gifts such as cookies, organic teas, or gift baskets full of homemade goodies make a thoughtful gift for almost any occasion and produce very little waste. Consider this, if you make this yourself, you can also save on gas and time shopping or standing in line.

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Green Up Merry Christmas

No, I’m not referring to Global Warming and the idea that it might not snow. I’m referring to great green ideas that will save you money and the planet, too, ensuring that it will continue to snow for years to come. And there’s a bonus: You won’t have a ton of credit card bills to weigh you down at the start of the New Year! Imagine that. Of course, a lot of us have already been hit really hard and the concept of a credit card with available credit is only a memory. For you, these ideas are even more intelligent and useful. And if you’re worried about the kids, that they won’t have the same experience and come away harmed in some way, then I’ve got ideas that will help you with that problem, too. The entire family can get in on Christmas in new and exciting ways which cannot help but tighten the family bonds and enhance the holiday experience. Believe me, these are worth a try. And you might not ever go back to the “old way” again.

When you finally wake up out of the consumerism “daze” and start living life outside that box, it can be a truly wonderful and exciting experience. It allows for great personal expression, creativity, spontaneity and offers unlimited chances to express love. You are creative in ways you never imagined and even if you aren’t, these ideas don’t take Picasso or Martha Stewart to make them work. I have easy step by step instructions that will tell you exactly what to do and when to do it. And none of this stuff is nearly as hard as gassing up the car on a cold winters night and rushing off to a Mall full of crazy people. In fact, you can start doing some of it now, here and there, easy goes it and make the week before Christmas a time for baking cookies, reading to the kids and having dinner at home. Here are the 7 six easy steps you can start today:

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Foraging Project: Pine Needles

Ok, so maybe you’re one of “those” people, the ones that don’t believe they are “crafty” or “good with their hands”. You can’t imagine yourself making a wreath, a dining table centerpiece or your own homemade candles. Well, imagine this: I was one of “those people” for a very long time, too. I always thought I was good with words, maybe, a fast typist, organized, made a good housekeeper or secretary. But I never imagined I could make things; my common refrain was “I am creative, but not in that way.” I’m not just saying that because it might make a good story. It wasn’t until about 10 years ago, the late 1990’s in fact, that I thought I’d try my hand at making things. I’d read some books on herbs and crafts and thought I’d try making herb candles or homemade massage oil. Well, after a few tries, I fell in love with the work and ended up making a ton of stuff that I tried to sell at first and ended up later on giving to friends and family as gifts. My walls are still decorated with aging herbal wreaths that I made myself and truly love.

Being a business woman at heart I could not imagine liking anything that wasn’t part of a “company project”. Everything in my life was career minded; my clothes, my hair, my hobbies, my attitude. Even my Friday nights. If something could not be turned into a “business” it just didn’t hold my interest. But I had a “hobby” of sorts, gardening on Sunday (after my sunbathing was over) and I loved and cherished the moments I spent in the yard. Not that I didn’t try to sell the plants and start a nursery (the old dog is still trying to hunt!) but I slowly began to realize that it wasn’t all about money and work. So when I started making wreaths I first imagined it as a business and then later made it a work of love. During this process I became a self-taught herbalist, of sorts. And now I am always on the lookout for lovely natural things that can be used in my daily life. I have reduced my lifestyle to the most basic of simple and gotten rid of all that baggage and I’ve never been happier and closer to “balanced”. Foraging is path to joy and happiness for me. And I want you to try it, too. See if the shoe fits.

Today I want to toss out some recipes and ideas for using Pine needles. Hey, these things are all over the place, even here in Florida. I walk along the river front roads through the orange groves or trailer parks and Pine needles fill the gullys, trenches and ditches along the way. Bring a bag and fill ‘er up! And then on home with the goodies, ready to make some neat stuff. Sure, at first I thought, hey, this is a lot of work and I can just go to WalMart and buy the same thing. But the truth is, even if you don’t care that Pine needles are free or natural or everywhere, this is a work of love. Any time and attention you spend on anything is translated into love. And once you allow yourself to focus in this fashion, you begin to express that love and this makes you healthier, happier and calmer. It gives you a chance to slow down, to focus on something that isn’t stressful or competitive and come out with something special that only you have made. It’s a priceless experience and I recommend it highly. This, from a business woman who could never imagine anything mattering outside of an office. If I can learn love in this way, so can you! So get on out and get a bag full of pine needles. Here are some neat ideas:

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Herbal Skin Products For Men

Most of the recipes I find for herbal products, both new and old, are directed at women. There is sort of a general assumption that not only are men less concerned about their upkeep but completely unlikely to make some recipe for skin tonic or herbal perfumes. However, they have been inclined, in my experience, to try out the great herbal beer and wine recipes I have. They also like to hear about herbal spices that make hot wings hotter or zestys up a pizza. But have you considered trying out a product on your man and seeing how he likes it? The recipes aren’t any harder than the ones you make for yourself and you’ll be surprised at the reception you get when you offer him a homemade mix. Most men will try it and find out, to their total surprise, that the stuff is good.

So, Ladies, it’s time to try some herbal cosmetic recipes for that man in your life. They are cheap, easy and fun to make and they are grrrrr..reat! I personally love the Dill Aftershave and I haven’t found a man yet who thought it was feminine or undesirable.. in fact they all love it! So get out the colanders and pans and run out to the health food store for herbs, it’s recipe time again! Or those of you who have a herb garden going (bravo for you!) can just step outside in the morning and gather up the goods. Think about packaging now for the coming holidays. You can dress up a bottle of homemade aftershave in a homey, warm way and make your gift truly special this year. And he’ll be happy when he sees the credit card bills.. no more huge perfume charges at the Mall! So, get going….

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