christmas gift for girlfriends

  • Wreaths ~ Not Just for Christmas

    One of the wreaths that was pictured in yesterday's post reminded me {again} that wreaths, well, they aren't just for Christmas. I know I know, this is how most people think about them, but think about it, haven't you seen dried flower wreaths that are just lovely also? And, since it is summer here in the U.S., I'd like to talk today about wreaths that can decorate our homes any month of the year. Some are even functional!

    wreath 10Like this one ~ this wreath is made using both fresh and dried herbs! Hang this in your kitchen so it's at your fingertips while you're cooking. The fresh herbs are rosemary and bay leaf, and the dried herbs are oregano (that has flowered) and sage.

    While they are still fresh and supple, snip off what you need and chop as you normally would. Once they are all dried and crumbly, just pinch off what you need and put em in a small mesh bag. Throw it in that pot of soup or atop the pot roast....mmmmm!

    Even if you don't cook with herbs much, the aroma is fantastic! Make one up to take as a gift to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine. Anyone can pick up a bottle of wine, but a handmade herb wreath? That is a very special gift! You can find instructions here.

    wine cork wreathAnd speaking of wine, how about this creative use for all those corks that are just too cool to throw away? This one, clearly is for the Christmas season, but with just a little bit of tweaking it could totally be a year-round decoration.

    Do you have friends with which you often enjoy hors d'oeuvre and a glass of wine? This too would make a lovely gift for Christmas. What a memorable way to honor a friendship!

    So, the idea of a wreath belonging only to the Christmas holiday is outdated. I just love these fresh and creative ideas. There was another wreath I saw that was made completely out of balls of yarn! No matter the colors, what a perfect gift for the knitter and crocheting friend who is always so hard to buy for!

    Dreaming of different wreaths,

    Cheryl

    Photo credit

  • DIY Snowy Ball Ornaments

    snowy ballNobody here in the upper Midwest has spoken the "S" word yet, but we all know that these beautiful autumn days are numbered. Despite our best attempts to bribe the gods, winter will come, the snow "S" will fly and we will do what we hearty Minnesotans do in these situations: embrace it complain. I moved here from Washington state 10 years ago, and have never stopped being amazed at how long a Minnesotan can discuss the weather when they don't like it, lol. So it is with great hesitation that I show you this very doable, fun DIY project today. But, never mind the naysayers, here we go!

    This project has been posted on Pinterest from several different people, but I think the idea may have originated with the ever lovely Martha Stewart. I love the look of these, they look so lacey and sparkly, and the fact that it uses common crafting supplies is a big bonus in my book.

    So, let's get started. The gist of this project is that the snowy ball is made out of string that is wrapped around a small water balloon and then dipped in watered down glue. A wise suggestion would be to make just a couple of these to see how it goes before delving into the 100 that you will undoubtedly want once you see them. Okay, slight exaggeration, but maybe not. I love the idea of giving these as gifts to coworkers, extended family, girlfriends, etc. It is a small, thoughtful and very creative gift that anyone would love to receive. That said, there's also nothing wrong with  making these for ourselves, right?

    SUPPLIES

    • small package of water balloons
    • tacky glue
    • plain white string
    • glitter
    • ornament hooks
    • water
    1. Blow up your balloons so they're about 2" in diameter and tie a knot.
    2. Without cutting a piece of string off the roll, attach the end to the knot on the balloon.
    3. Then randomly wrap the string around your colorful little sphere. Isn't this fun?!
    4. Squeeze some tacky glue into a 4" bowl and add some water so it's pretty runny.
    5. Roll your string-wrapped balloons around in the glue until all the string has been coated.
    6. Sprinkle on glitter to your hearts content.
    7. Attach a twist tie to the end of the balloon and twist the end closed to form a small loop.
    8. Using a small piece of string, hang the twist tie loop on your shower curtain rod.
    9. After 48 hours, pop the balloon using a pair of tweezers, and remove the balloon.
    10. Wrap it up in a pretty box or hang on the tree!

    Project credit

  • Christmas Nail Art

    We here at Merry Stockings, unashamedly, love all things Christmas. We specialize in customized Christmas stockings, tree ornaments, holiday cards, and of course Christmas tree skirts. Our festive spirits, tho, are not limited to what we sell, oh no!

    Today's post is dedicated to all the ladies who work so hard to make Christmas special for everyone else. Feast your eyes, be inspired, print this post and take immediately to your nail salon!  I love the idea of doing just one nail per hand with these fun patterns, but wow, doing all fingers makes quite a statement!

    Candy Cane Stripe

    Santa's Buckle

    nail art 1Christmas Lights

    nail art 3Santa Hat

    nail art 4All That Glitters & Shines

    nail art 5Pretty Package

    nail art 6

  • DIY Sugar Cubes

    diy sugar cubes

     

    We were talking yesterday about fancy teacups, and so today I thought I'd jump off that topic and delve a little deeper into the cup. Yesterday we made really easy candles in our sweet little cups from the thrift store, but today we're actually thinking about and planning for a tea party!

    Plain ol' sugar just won't do with such precious cups, so we're going to get creative and make our own cute sugar cubes. Can you even believe how adorable these are?! And, as always, easy. I do easy well. :)

     

    Here's what you'll need to gather (and it's not much!):

    • granulated white and/or brown sugar
    • water
    • bowl
    • teaspoon
    • candy molds

    Step 1:  Pour about 1/2 cup of sugar into a bowl. Using a teaspoon, pour smal amounts of water on the sugar, little by little mixing until you have a paste-like consistency. Make sure the sugar doesn't melt!

    Step 2:  Fill the candy molds about halfway full with the sugary paste, pressing firmly into the mold. Let it dry overnight and carefully remove the adorable lumps.

    Step 3:  Pick up little cellophane bags at the craft store and tie closed with a ribbon to give as a Christmas gift.

     

    Recipe adapted

  • Tea Cup Candles

    tea cupI was shopping at Pier 1 the other day and couldn't get over how just walking close to the area where the candles are displayed gave me a strong whiff of those fabulous scents! I think they had an entire wall dedicated to candles, it's one of those home items that have been popular for a very long time. Today's craft idea takes advantage of the universal love of candles and combines it with a charming holder: the tea cup.

    This tea cup belonged to my mother, and when I saw it I instantly fell in love with it. It is so very delicate, the rim so thin, and it's yellow. Yellow is my favorite color, plus there are daisies! I carried a bouquet of daisies at my wedding! I was thrilled when she passed this cup and a matching saucer down to me.

    For today's gift idea, you don't need to use a family heirloom tho! Thrift stores have bunches of these fancy, sweet tea cups, usually without the saucer and that suits our project today just fine. They are almost always just a buck or two also, so super affordable. Even if you aren't making these lovely candles, pick up a bunch of those for an eclectic tea party for your girlfriends. :)

    For the candles, here's what you'll need to have on hand:

    • double boiler pan
    • partially burnt candles
    • candle (0r candy) thermometer
    • tongs
    • new wicking
    • teacups
    • wick sustainers
    • wooden skewers

    teacup candle1.  In a double boiler pan, melt down old candles. Clip your thermometer to the upper pot where the wax is, and keep the temp around 185 degrees. As the candles melt, use your tongs to remove the old wicks.

    2.  Cut a piece of wicking that measures the height of the cup plus 2". Attach one end to a wick sustainer and tie the other around a wooden skewer as shown in the photo to the right. Dip the wicking and sustainer into melted wax just to coat them, then adhere the sustainer to the bottom of the cup.

    3.  Pour in the melted wax to within 1/2" from the top of the cup. Allow to set for about an hour. Then, using another wooden skewer, prick a circle of holes around the wick. Pour in more melted wax to within 1/4" from the rim. Cut wick.

    These adorable, sweet gifts are perfect for girlfriends, daughters, grand-daughters and moms.....basically any female will love them, especially since you made them yourself.

     

    Photo courtesy

  • Better Than Nutella?

    nutellaI remember the first time I tasted Nutella. My step daughter brought it over, and I thought it had a weird name and at the time I wasn't very adventurous with food. I almost didn't try it, can you imagine?! But just one lick, and I was hooked.

    And, apparently I'm not alone, because back in 2007, February 5 was chosen as World Nutella Day! A couple of fans decided that just enjoying it in the privacy of their own homes was simply not enough. They reasoned that any food that has the capacity to create childhood memories that last for a lifetime should have it's own day, no?  Not sponsored by Nutella, these fans stepped up and created a day set aside to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella. Sounds good to me!

    Imagine what a homemade version of Nutella would do for your awesome factor with  friends and family. You don't have to tell them how easy it was either....they will think you are pure genius when they taste it. Who knows, maybe you could even give Nutella a run for their money.

    You'll need:

    • 1 cup hazelnuts
    • 4 teaspoons coconut oil
    • 6 ounces 65% dark chocolate, melted
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    1. Dump your hazelnuts onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and roast in a 350* oven for about 10 minutes.
    2. Let the nuts cool, then wrap them in a dish towel and shake to remove the skins.
    3. Next, put the nuts in your food processor and process until smooth.
    4. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth butter.
    5. Jar it up, and store in the fridge until you're ready to give it away (unless you eat it first, which is likely to happen so you may as well just make a double batch). It'll keep for a good month if you manage to resist.

    I dare you to try this.

     

    Recipe adaptation

     

  • Helping Others Help Themselves

    stormWe had a rip roaring storm blow through last night, complete with 50-60 mph gusts and golf ball sized hail. It was over in a matter of minutes, and wasn't as severe as others have been. However, for people who have ever lived through a tornado or hurricane level straight line winds, any event like this is scary.

    Best to be prepared, no? It may not be on the top of everyone's I-gotta-have-this-for-Christmas-or-I'll-die list, but you can be sure that adults who HAVE survived these horrible storms will be so grateful. There are lots of resources online for putting together emergency kits, many of them selling you something. I have compiled a list of items to stock up on, and if you are building your own emergency kit, it's the perfect opportunity to buy double or triple quantities to give to loved ones.

    • Water - the recommended quantity is one gallon per person per day, 3 days minimum. Nursing moms and those who are sick may need more. Purchase bottled water, and store in a dry, cool place without opening.
    • Food - canned foods with high water content, dry cereal, salt free crackers and dry mixes . . . things that don't require refrigeration. Include a manual can opener too. :)
    • Mess kit, complete with paper plates, cup and towels and plastic utensils.
    • Battery powered or hand-crank weather radio. I picked up one of the hand cranked types for my husband a couple years ago and they work well. Most come with a battery option, so keep plenty of batteries stocked with it.
    • Flashlight AND extra batteries! Enough said.
    • Emergency candles and matches, stored in a water proof container.
    • First aid kit - doesn't have to be huge, but a basic one with sterile dressings, cleaning agent, antibacterial ointment, and latex gloves. A first aid reference manual is a great idea too.
    • Whistle - if there is a rescue team trying to get to you, this will be such a great help.
    • Extra cell phone battery and non electric charging devices.
    • Pet food and water.
    • Blanket for each person.

    This list is clearly not exhaustive, but any of these items would be a great way to say "I love you", don't you think? Last night's storm reminded me that I want to get some of these things for my 20-something kids. I know they're invincible, but I can't help myself. ;)

     

    Photo courtesy

     

  • The Gift of Time

    It's Friday morning, the very last day of the work week, the day many have been looking forward to since Monday. We drag ourselves out of bed, stumble to the coffee pot and go through our morning rituals. Thank God it's Friday!

    This morning, in a most uncharacteristic manner, I bounded out of bed at 5am. Why, you ask? I had a coffee date with a good friend to get to! These java sipping events are one of the great pleasures of my life; they are the times when we talk about our lives, what's important to us, what's happening within our families, etc. It's also a place where dreams can and do spring up and are spoken out loud, sometimes for the first time.  My date this morning was with a good friend who has walked with me through it all . . . the happy, glorious days, the painful, unsettling and uncertain ones and everything in between.  Who wouldn't get out of bed early for that!

    The gift of time. There is nothing like it. You can't go to the store and buy more when you run out, you can't ever take it back once given. It is not a renewable resource; how many times have we said in frustration "that's an hour I'll never get back"?

    Giving time is a pretty special thing. I read a story this morning about a family who planned a birthday party for their 90 year old father/grandfather/uncle. It took an enormous amount of time emailing family members,  arranging and paying  for travel, setting up accommodations to host the family, preparing food,  packing and traveling.

    When the day for this grand event finally arrived, the 90 year old guest of honor had  a dozen or so family members on the edge of their seats, telling the stories of his life! Celebrating it all! Talk about memories! Small memento gifts were given, like a box of chocolates, a bottle of champagne, but the best gift of all he received that day was, without a doubt, their time.

    Next time I are tempted to run out to the store to purchase a gift, I'm going to stop and remember this story and the coffee chats that mean so much.  Maybe save a little gas and money, and pick up the phone instead.

    You with me?

    Photo credit

  • Peach Freezer Jam

    Is anyone else's garden going absolutely nuts about now? We've got an abundance of fresh food that we're gobbling up, but it's just too much for the two of us. So, we've been sharing some of it with coworkers and friends. This must be a common "problem" because, just yesterday, one of my husband's coworkers gave him a jar of Raspberry Refrigerator Jam that his wife had made, saying "take these to work and give them away, there are just too many for us!" Looking forward to cracking that jar open.

    This, of course, got me thinking about my favorite fruit of all time, the Georgia Peach. Is there anything better than a ripe, juicy peach, you know the kind that drips down your chin when you bite into it?  Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.

    So, let's buy extra at the market and whip up some super easy Peach Freezer Jam to give away during the holidays. It'll keep in the freezer for up to a year, and in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Here's what you'll need to fill 7 pint jars:

    • 14 large, ripe peaches
    • 10 cups of super fine sugar
    • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 2 packages of Certo (pectin)
    • 1 1/2 cups water

    Did I mention this is an EASY recipe? Here's what you do:

    1. Peel, cut and mash peaches, leaving some texture.
    2. Add sugar, stir and let sit for 10 minutes.
    3. Combine both packages of Certo with the water, and bring to a boil.
    4. Boil for 1 minute until the Certo is completely dissolved.
    5. Add the prepared Certo and the lemon juice to the peaches and stir for 3 minutes.
    6. Pour into prepared pint size jars and cover with lids.
    7. Let the jam sit at room temperature for 24 hours until set, then freeze.
    8. DONE!

    These make perfect hostess gifts, and I bet your neighbors, coworkers, and family members won't turn them down either. Really, who wouldn't love a jar of Peach Jam any day of the year?

    Merry jam making!

     

    Recipe adapted from

     

  • A Gift for That Special Teacher

    I'm so pumped about finding and sharing unique and affordable gift ideas for our Christmas Notebooks! Last week we found some rather tasty savory and sweet recipes for the holidays, plus a very cool gift idea that utilizes the Christmas cards from past years. If you missed those posts, make sure to check them out and print for your notebooks.

    Today's creative idea comes from none other than the ever-lovely Martha Stewart. What you see pictured to your left is a glycerin soap that is easily made in a mini loaf pan! This is a project that the kids can help with, and would make a terribly unique and welcomed gift for their teacher. Equally, these happy little striped soaps work well as stocking stuffers, secret Santa gifts, and even hostess gifts.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 2 cups clear glycerin soap (available at your craft store)
    • 2 cups white glycerin soap
    • peppermint oil
    • red food coloring
    • plastic spoon
    • mini loaf pan
    • isopropyl alcohol in spray form (98% preferred)

    Instructions

    1. Melt glycerin soap according to the package directions 1/4 cup at a time.
    2. Stir in a drop of peppermint oil with the plastic spoon.
    3. For the clear glycerin, add drops of red food coloring until you get the shade of red you like.
    4. Pour the 1/4 cup of melted glycerin into the loaf pan, and cool in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
    5. Remove from fridge, score the top with a fork and lightly spray with alcohol (this helps the layers adhere to one another).
    6. Repeat the layers, alternating the colors until the pan is full.
    7. Set in refrigerator for 4 hours.
    8. After 4 hours, set the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes (this makes removing the soap from the pan a cinch).
    9. Carefully slice so as not to dislodge the layers, and wrap!

    Make sure to print this gift idea and put it in your Christmas Notebook. If you haven't created your Christmas Notebook yet, it's not too late! This simple organizing task with really pay off as the holidays approach, so take the time to put yours together. You can find the posts for that here, here, here and here.

    Merry soap making!

     

    Photo courtesy

1-10 of 13

Page
  1. 1
  2. 2