Christmas {Decorating} In July: Ruffled Christmas Trees



This is the last project in the Christmas {Decorating} In July series and I think this was my favorite. As a child of the 80's, it brought back fond memories of the ruffle skirts and dresses that my mom made for us.  It also made me more appreciative of the work she put into them.  One skirt that she made had no less than five layers of ruffles!

To start this project you will need a cone for the base.  A styrofoam cone can be used as a base, but I made my own cones by rolling up a piece of poster board. A piece of cardstock could also be used.  I used an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of poster board for the small tree and an 8 1/2" x 16" piece of poster board for the large tree.


I cut a fat quarter into 2" strips and sewed each strip, right sides together, to make one long strip.  To make the ruffles, I changed the stitch length setting to the longest length and sewed two lines down the entire length of the strip using a 1/4" seam.  (If you don't sew, you might like to try this no-sew version from building this nest.)


I made the ruffles by gently pulling on the top 2 threads on each end and gently pushing the fabric along the threads.


To wrap the ruffled strip around the cone, I used a glue gun and glued the first 2 inches of the strip to the bottom of the cone and used a small dot of glue to secure the other end of the strip at the top.  To finish up, I cut all the strings around the edges.

If you try this project, I would love to hear how it turned out.  This was my first time making ruffles and if I can do it anyone can!  I think I can see a few more of these trees in my future.



Other posts in this series:

Meal Plan Monday - July 29


This week I'll be cooking the frozen turkey in order to make room in the freezer for blueberries and blueberry freezer jam.  It is finally blueberry season and I can't wait to fill my freezer with blueberries that we can enjoy through the winter months!

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Blueberry Pancakes

Lunch
Tuna & Vegetable Salad Bowl
Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, Carrot Sticks
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Mini Corn Dog Muffins made with leftover hot dogs, Apple Slices
Blueberry Pancake Sandwiches made with leftover pancakes
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
     Hot Dogs, Green Beans from our garden

Tuesday:
     Korean Beef & Rice, Vegetables

Wednesday:
    Roasted Turkey, Homemade Bread Stuffing (using bread ends from the freezer), Peas, Applesauce

Thursday:
   Classic Turkey Tetrazzini (1/2 recipe made with leftover turkey), Leftover Stuffing, Leftover Peas

Friday:
    Loaded Turkey Salad (made with leftover turkey), Garlic Bread (made with leftover hot dog rolls)

Saturday:
    Leftover Night

Sunday:
    Veggie Burgers


Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - July 27

Our family had the opportunity to spend most of the week with my husband's family at a beautiful camp on a lake here in Maine.




We weren't home most of the week so there are only a few ways that we saved this week:

While at camp, the women of the family took turns planning and preparing dinner throughout the week.

I received a 10% "prompt pay" discount when I payed a doctor's bill by the due date.

I picked lettuce, green beans and a few peas from the garden!

My sister-in-law gave us some frozen blueberries.  I made blueberry sauce and we used it as a topping for frozen cheesecake and in oatmeal.

In my mailbox: a free magazine.

Our on-going savings:

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.


Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Simply Saving Saturday - July 20

I am very thankful to live in an area where there are a lot of free summer activities that we can enjoy.  This week we took the boys to Smalls Falls.  We walked the trails in order to see the waterfalls and the boys cooled off in the shallow water.




Our savings for this week:

I followed an oven-free menu plan.

Peaches were on sale again this week for $.99/lb.  Since the boys don't care for the texture peaches (my youngest says they have strings in them), I made Peach Pie Popsicles with a few of them.  The boys loved the popsicles and they will be a nice treat to take to camp with us next week.


My favorite frugal activity this week was making our own write and wipe worksheets.  When our older son was a preschooler we used Rod and Staff preschool workbooks to help him learn to write letters and numbers.  He used many of the pages, but I was able to reuse them for our younger son by tearing them out of the book and putting them into page protectors.  He copied the letters onto the page protectors with a dry erase marker that could easily be wiped off after he was finished.  We will be able to use them over and over again.

I accidentally saved money this week when I forgot to buy paper towels.  We made it through the whole week without them!

I hung our bedding on the clothesline to dry.

Made laundry soap.  I used Ivory soap since that is what I had and so far it seems to be working well.

Added beans to our tacos.

Downloaded a cookbook for free on my kindle for PC.

Bought bread at the bread store for $.67 each.

Used a coupon and paid $.16 each for soap.

In my mailbox: a free magazine

Our on-going savings:

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.


Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.

Christmas {Decorating} In July: Crochet Star Garland

Crochet Star Garland


With a large stash of yarn and my love of crochet, there was no doubt that I wanted to include a crochet project in my Christmas decor.


Crochet Star Garland

I found a skein of sturdy 100% cotton yarn, a G hook and this very simple free crochet star pattern to make the stars.


Crochet Star Garland

Crochet Star Garland

To make them a little more Christmas-y, I used a paint brush to add glitter glue around the edges and to the center of the stars.



After the glue dried, I attached the stars together with 3/8" x 1" brass paper fasteners and used a yarn needle to thread a length of yarn through the points of the stars on each end of the garland in order to hang it up.

The hardest part of this project was waiting for the glue to dry!



Other posts in this series:
Christmas {Decorating} In July: Make Old Christmas Ornaments Look New Again
Christmas {Decorating} In July: Rustic Christmas Candle

Summer Favorites: Orange Pineapple Pretzel Salad



This jello salad is one of our favorite summer indulgences.  It has a bright orange flavor and the perfect combination of sweet and salty that is hard to forget.


Orange Pineapple Pretzel Salad

2 cups crushed pretzels
3 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
2  (3 oz.) pkgs. orange jello
2 cups boiling water
1 (11 oz.) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whipped topping



1.  Combine crushed pretzels and 3 tsp. sugar in a bowl; stir in melted butter.  Press into a 13 x 9 baking dish and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

2.  While the pretzel layer is cooling, mix the jello with boiling water and stir until jello is dissolved.  Add mandarin oranges and pineapple and set aside to cool.

3.  Mix together cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar.  Fold in whipped topping and spread over the pretzel layer making sure to push the cream cheese layer to the edges so that the jello layer won't leak through.

4.  With a ladle or large spoon, carefully spoon the jello mixture onto the cream cheese layer.  Refrigerate until firm.




Recipe adapted from Orange Gelatin Pretzel Salad


Related Posts:
Tuna Macaroni Salad
Cheddar Broccoli Salad

Meal Plan Monday - July 15: Oven-Free Menu



Our menu this week:

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Cinnamon Stove Top Granola, Peach Slices

Lunch
Tossed Salad
Ham Sandwiches, Peach Slices
Mac & Cheese, Peas
Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Applesauce
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
     Crock Pot Taco Chicken Bowls (using leftover chicken from last week), Vegetables

Tuesday:
     BLTs, Potato Salad

Wednesday:
    Crock Pot Tuna Noodle Casserole, Salad

Thursday:
    Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta, Peas

Friday:
   Leftover Night

Saturday:
    Tacos

Sunday:
    Breakfast for dinner: Crock Pot Vegetable Breakfast Casserole



Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday - July 13

This week I planned an oven-free menu and cooked a whole chicken in the crock pot with a chicken that I bought on sale for $.99/lb.  I made Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot with the chicken bones and vegetable scraps that I saved in the freezer.  We ate one meatless meal.

This week I also bought peaches on sale for $.99/lb. and found coupons on packages of Birds Eye frozen vegetables, making them $.75 each.



For the second project in the Christmas {Decorating} In July series I made a Rustic Christmas Candle with a candle that I received as a gift, ribbon from my scrap jar and sticks that I gathered outside.

Before I went out of town for a day this week, I turned off both computers and checked to make sure all lights were off.

Earned $3 for taking a survey.

Cashed in Swag Bucks for two $5 Amazon gift cards.

Earned 180 Recyclebank points.

Cut children's hair.

Our on-going savings:

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Use online bill pay to pay our bills.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.

Christmas {Decorating} In July: Rustic Christmas Candle

Rustic Christmas Candle


This project was inspired by these cinnamon candles made with cinnamon sticks.  Since I don't have cinnamon sticks and I am challenging myself to make Christmas decorations with what I have, I needed to find something else.

I don't have cinnamon sticks, but we do have lots and lots of trees.  Small branches and sticks from those trees worked perfectly.

For this project you will need:
candle and glass holder
small sticks and twigs
pair of pruners
rubber band
ribbon

Rustic Christmas Candle

I used a pair of pruners to cut the sticks to the correct size and used a rubber band to hold the sticks around the candle.  I tied a ribbon around the middle to hide the rubber band and add a little bit of decoration.

This project couldn't be any easier and I love this simple, natural look.

Note: The sticks should be cut to just below the top of the glass holder.  In the pictures above, the sticks were slightly too long.




Other posts in this series:
Christmas {Decorating} In July: Make Old Christmas Ornaments Look New Again



Linking to:
My Salvaged Treasures












Christmas In July at Walking On Sunshine

Shoe Boxes for Boys: School Supplies


Welcome to the Shoe Boxes for Boys series. This year I am focusing on packing boxes for boys after reading a comment on this post about the need for more boxes for boys (especially 10-14 year olds). If you are packing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes this year, I hope you will discover new ideas and also share your ideas!

Before we know it, it will be time for back to school and many stores already have school supplies on the shelves.  Staples has advertised their back to school sale and Walmart once again has great prices on the Cra-Z-Art brand school supplies and $.17 notebooks.



While you are school shopping, consider buying extra school supplies for your Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.  While a box of crayons or a package of pencils may seem like a small gift, to some children around the world it is a life changing gift that allows them the chance to go to school and learn.

Suggested Back To School Supplies

Colored Pencils
Coloring Books
Crayons
Erasers
Markers
Notebooks  
Pens
Pencils
Paper
Pencil Sharpener
Pencil Case 
Scissors
Solar Calculators
Stamps & Ink Pad Set

If you like to make handmade gifts for your OCC boxes, you can find many ideas on my Operation Christmas Child Pinterest Board including ideas for handmade pencil cases.


Posts in this series:


Note: The information shared in this series will follow the OCC-US regulations. When packing shoe boxes from other countries, please refer to the rules and regulations from that country as they vary greatly from country to country. Thank you!

Operation Christmas Child Australia
Operation Christmas Child UK

Meal Plan Monday July 8: Oven-Free Menu




We are expecting hot and humid weather again this week so I planned an oven-free menu!

Breakfast
Cereal, Bananas
Homemade Instant Oatmeal Packets
Scrambled Eggs, Toast
Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes (leftovers from Tuesday dinner), Peach Slices

Lunch
Tossed Salad
Chicken Sandwiches, Peach Slices
Pasta w/Tomato Sauce, Carrot Sticks
Tuna Salad Sandwiches, Carrot Sticks, Applesauce
Dinner Leftovers

Dinner
Monday:
     Slow Cooker Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Peas

Tuesday:
     Breakfast for dinner: Breakfast Burrito,  Whole Wheat Banana Pancakes, Fruit

Wednesday:
    Whole Chicken in the Crockpot, Mashed Potatoes, Vegetables

Thursday:
    Super Sloppy Joes, Tossed Salad

Friday:
   Chicken Taco & Rice (using leftover chicken from Wednesday dinner)

Saturday:
    Meatless Hash, Tossed Salad

Sunday:
    Grilled Bacon-Tomato Sandwiches



Get more menu planning ideas at Menu Plan Monday

Simply Saving Saturday


To celebrate the 4th of July we made these popsicle stick flags with craft supplies from our craft box.  They were simple and inexpensive and a great inside project to do during a hot and humid week.

Since it was so hot and humid this week I didn't do a lot of baking, but I did make these Best Ever Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Bars.  I made them with SunButter so that our younger son could enjoy them with us.  They taste just like the no-bake cookies and are delicious.  The best part of all is that we enjoyed a wonderful dessert without turning the oven on!



I know it is probably way to early to start thinking about Christmas, but this year I am starting early and making Christmas decorations in July and sharing my projects on the blog.  My first project was to redo old Christmas ornaments.  I made them with craft supplies that I already had and I can't believe the difference!  I can't wait to put my "new" ornaments on the tree this year!

I started a price book and I'm doing a lot more price comparisons.  I discovered that the 80 oz. honey that I can buy at Walmart is a little bit cheaper than the smaller sizes at any of the other stores that we have in my area.

I printed a free children's Bible reading plan for the book of Matthew to go along with our morning Bible reading.  It gets the boys involved in the reading as they can color in each section as we read.

We made cards to send to my sister for her birthday.

I sent in a Lysol Rebate.

Made $3 by answering a survey.

I added some things to my sister-in-laws yard sale and made $50.

In my mailbox: Always, Woolite and Scotch-Brite samples.

Our on-going savings:

**Save eggshells for the garden.

**Follow a weekly meal plan.

**Earn Swag Bucks for Amazon gift cards that I use to buy gifts.

**Earn Recyclebank points for gift cards, coupons and free magazine subscriptions.

**Husband takes lunch to work everyday.

**Turn lights off when not being used.

**Use cash to buy groceries.

**Use scrap paper for notes and lists.

**Drive to town once a week for shopping and errands.  

**Buy less cereal and eat oatmeal and other homemade breakfasts several times a week.

**Reuse plastic and paper shopping bags for small trash and recycling.



Note: Some of the links in this post are referral links. When a new member signs up using my referral link, I receive bonus points for that referral.