Buy Nothing

I am seriously late to the game on this one, but a couple months ago I discovered my local buy nothing group on Facebook and it has been a game-changer.

As just one example of something we were able to re-home, we had a mysterious powder our pediatrician had recommended to us that we never opened. I put it up on buy nothing and, lo and behold, there are people out there who drink it every day. Someone then happily took it off my hands.

I’ve also found it easier to part with certain things knowing that someone else will use it. Once upon a time I bought a pair of non-returnable shoes online (never again!) Oh how I loved them…but they were way too tight. I put them up on buy nothing and was able to find a new owner who actually fits into them and can wear them. Because what’s the point of shoes that just sit on a shelf in your closet?

I am trying to put something up every day to slowly make a dent in the enormous pile of never-used stuff that we have. And it is working! Small paths are being cleared in the basement. The house is starting to look less cluttered. And hopefully, all that old stuff is making someone else just a little bit happier.

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A birthday party for a little girl

I’ve been voraciously reading everything over at designskool recently. I especially love her posts about things she does with her kids, like this birthday party. As the mother of an almost-two-year old girl, I’ve thought about birthday parties and how to do something fun and memorable while avoiding trashing the planet with balloons and bags full of plastic junk.

Her idea of a flower arranging party was so cute, and gives the kids something to do and something to go home with. I also liked the paper decorations she had up which are way cuter than balloons. If you wanted to do a no-gifts party (is this too mean?) you could ask the guests to bring a few flowers instead of a gift.

Here’s a few other ideas I had along these same lines- a craft that kids can take home.

1) A fairy garden. Each kid gets a plant in a clay pot or so, and there are supplies for creating the garden- some fairies, little flowers, recycled bits and bobs like buttons, etc.

2) Cake decorating, possibly with fondant. Each kid gets two cupcakes with basic white frosting (one to eat and one to take home), and there is a supply of different colored fondants, and possibly some instructions for different characters. Or just let them use their imaginations.

3) Fimo jewelry. Each kid gets a necklace made of leather or string (like embroidery thread braided together or so), and there is a supply of different colors of Fimo clay and various stamps and jewels for embedding on their creation. You could also do Fimo dollhouse creations, like food etc., but since not everyone would have a dollhouse this might not be ideal for a party.

4) Bead necklaces.

There are so many different fun little crafts that you could turn into a party for little girls.

Cute Bookplates on Etsy

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I found the most adorable bookplates on Etsy recently. I had been wanting to write in Alice’s books, who the book was from, and when it was given. So I got these bookplates with her first and middle names, and with two blank lines underneath so I can write the name of the giver and date or occasion given. I love that she (and possibly even her kids) will be able to look at these books years later and know who got it for her.

The shop is called PreppyProdigy and they have so much cute stuff. I especially love the personalized valentines and think it would be so fun to send these to relatives. They also have lots of fun greeting cards.

 

 

 

Homemade Vanilla

I decided to make homemade vanilla this year after reading this post by Heather Bullard. We had some extra bottles of vodka anyway because post-baby we don’t really drink much, so I decided to turn them into vanilla for Christmas gifts.

It really could not have been easier so far. I just bought some vanilla beans, cut them into 1/2 inch pieces, and added them to the vodka bottles. Every once in awhile I give the bottles a little shake. That’s it!

In November before the Christmas rush I will filter out the vanilla beans and pour the vanilla extract into individual bottles and label them for gifting. I can’t wait to try my own homemade vanilla!

Heritage Brands: Brio Trains

As a teenager I babysat for two sweet girls. Their family was not rich– we lived outside of a small town in Washington state– but their mother was a master of fun, and those girls always had interesting toys to play with. Every once in awhile we would pull out the bin of Brio wooden train tracks and would spend the better part of the afternoon crafting a track and then rolling the trains over our creation. Sometimes the track would stretch through most of their mobile home. Their collection was undoubtedly amassed throughout their childhood through birthdays and Christmases.

Brio trains provide endless hours of fun for a wide range of ages, are gender-neutral, and can be passed down to the next generation. These are often imitated, but beware cost-cutting measures in imitations, such as plastic connectors, that may shorten the lifespan of the tracks. When buying, look for tracks that are all-wood (especially those sets that are just wood track pieces) and trains that are wood-and-metal.