Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

How to Make a Homeless Care Package (Free Printable Supplies List)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Note: From November 2012, this is one of the articles I’m most proud of on Mom Advice, and I’m SO happy that it’s also one of the most pinned, making me proud of YOU. I’m republishing it for our November Focus on Giving M Challenge with the hopes it will see a whole new group of people who will be inspired to give!

One thing that you may not know about our family is that we are really passionate about caring for the homeless. Creating a homeless care package can be one fantastic way that your entire family can be involved in caring for the homeless. Today we want to provide a checklist of supplies for the homeless, a local resources sheet you can print out (if you are in our area), and some tips for involving the whole family in this project.

This month Walmart let me choose a project that I was passionate about for the holidays and showcase how families could recreate it in their own homes. As I always disclose, I am compensated for my writing, BUT instead of accepting the compensation, we invested what I would have earned along with the gift card budget Walmart gave me to give back to the homeless in our community. 

These homeless care packages can be prepared for your local homeless shelters or kept tucked away in the trunk of your car for those you may see on the street looking for your help. I love feeling armed in these situations and these kits are a simple way to show how much you care.

I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t tell you that my husband inspires me every day with his giving heart. Last winter, he was coming home late from work because he would see people in need and run to stores to get them supplies and gift cards.

That is his heart.

That is why I love him.

If there is one thing I firmly believe in, it is that giving should be a family affair. We have to lead our children by our example. I want my children to remember that what made our family special is that we always gave with our whole hearts.  

My kids assisted in every aspect of this project. My son came with me and did the number crunching on a good old-fashioned calculator, my daughter helped sort and organize all of the items we bought, and both kids helped fill the bags with all of the necessary items.

Here Are My 3 Essential Elements to a Great Homeless Care Package

Feed Their Needs- One of the greatest gifts you can give to someone who is homeless is personal hygiene items and food to nourish their bodies. Begin by picking up items that will satisfy this area in their life first. Simple items like shampoo, a razor, deodorant, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a bar of soap, and tissues are great items to keep on hand.

Food like granola bars, crackers with peanut butter, trail mixes, dried fruits, and a bottle of water are also great items to tuck into your bags. If you have the funds, small denominator gift cards (we did $5 Walmart gift cards) can also be great to give so that they can pick up a meal or item(s) they might need.

Provide Warmth- We live in Indiana and the winters here are brutal. I can’t imagine how cold it would be to stand on the streets without the proper items I need for warmth. Add items like thermal boot socks, gloves, scarves, and hats to your gift bags. Items like these may seem out of your financial reach, but I found all of these at the dollar store and the sets of gloves were a mere $.50 each.

Feed Their Souls- I am sure it goes without saying, but feeding someone’s soul is just as important as feeding their needs. You can feed their souls in a variety of ways depending on your families beliefs and resources. We created a local resources list (available for local residents to download) that they can tap into for further resources in our town. A note that lets them know that they are on your prayer list, a note of encouragement by your children, or a scripture that you find comforting can also be excellent additions.

God has been so good to us, but 10 years ago we were in a very different place than where we are now.  My husband was unemployed for almost an entire year, our financial situation was a house of cards, and my heart was in a bad place. Although I don’t like to admit it, I wondered what my purpose on this earth even was. I never have forgotten that dark place and it is why we still try to be so careful with the resources we have been given and why I have such a tender place in my heart for those who are struggling.

Being careful though doesn’t mean that you can’t be a giver. There are fantastic ways to give, both big and small, around the holidays. Be sure to check our list of ten painless ways to give back to charities to help you get started.  I call these smaller ways to give the, “scraps of life giving.”  I have talked a lot about that with my partnership with Pure Charity as well! 

We want to help you give back to your community! Here are some resources to do just that!

Grab our Free Homeless Supply Checklist for your your care packages. Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

Grab our Local Resources List for your care packages (if you don’t live in Michiana, you can use this as a template for your own sheet)!  Don’t just click on the picture, head to this link to grab a full-size PDF version!

 

How do you give back in your community? How do you teach your kids to be givers?

 

I am a part of the Walmart Moms program, and Walmart has provided me with compensation for these posts. For this project, all compensation was invested in aiding our area homeless.  My participation is voluntary and opinions are always my own.

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How To: Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles

Friday, November 6th, 2015

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from MomAdvice.com.

Gift-giving season is upon us and I am always looking for great gifts that don’t cost a lot, can be made in bulk, and will actually be used! Do you remember when we made Citronella Candles in our slow cooker for thoughtful hostess gifts for the cookout season? I am so excited to show you, yet again, how to make candles in your slow cooker and this time we are making easy Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles for the holidays.

As a Pumpkin Spice everything addict, these are full of my favorite holiday scent and can be made with just a few purchases from your craft store and your slow cooker! I just want to warn you how good your house is going to smell so GET READY!

DIY Slow Cooker Pumpkin Spice Candles from MomAdvice.com.

Head on over to the Kenmore Blog to get the scoop on how to make these beautiful candles for the perfect hostess gift for the holidays!

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DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs With Hazel & Ruby

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from MomAdvice.com

Friends, I could not be more excited today to share with you my Knitted Boot Cuff Kit that I have created with Hazel & Ruby for their Holiday Crafternoon line that is available in Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft stores nationwide. It was such a great challenge for me as a crafter to design a kit like this and I have learned so much (and have a new appreciation for) about how people create these kits for the stores.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from MomAdvice.com

What is Crafternoon?


The purpose of these kits is to be able to create a great gift in an afternoon for the holidays. In this kit, we have lovingly prepared everything you need to create a beautiful set of boot cuffs from lace to yarn to buttons. Instead of you spending time hunting down patterns, materials, or trying to muddle through a pattern alone, Crafternoon puts it all together to you in one easy-to-use package! Check out the video above to see what the fuss is all about!

Why I Know You Will Love This Kit

The thing that I believe really sells this kit though is a set of bamboo needles that you can use over and over again for knitting small projects in the round without the need for double-pointed needles. This particular set is typically not available in most craft and yarn stores. In fact, I have had to order my sets overseas and they cost about the price of this entire kit once I factored in shipping and the expense of the needles. This set includes my favorite needles and once you have them, you can use this pattern over and over again, adding your own unique and beautiful details to these cuffs.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from MomAdvice.com

Will This Pattern Challenge Me?

I really hope so! I didn’t want to just a simple knitted pattern, although you can definitely do that with the materials provided too. I wanted to create a pattern that would help you learn a little bit of the lace technique (without that super thin yarn!), but that there are enough basic stitches that you could zone out a bit with a Netflix binge and just enough that will hold your interest and create beauty within the cuff.

DIY Knitted Boot Cuffs from MomAdvice.com

If you have never knit in the round before, these needles make it possible.  Crystal, from Money Saving Mom, shared on her Instagram feed her pride of knitting in the round for the first time thanks to this little kit. I couldn’t have been prouder of her and I know that you can do it too!

The kit not only includes step-by-step instructions, but you can also access a video where I walk you through every step of the way through this process and be accessed with the QR code on the back of your packaging or you can just watch it above! Doesn’t it feel like we are crafting together?

Amy Allen Clark from MomAdvice.com

Now hurry up and order a kit so we can knit together or order one for a holiday gift for a favorite crafter in your life. You can also pick a kit up at Jo-Ann that you can use this weeks 30% of total purchase on Wednesday AND of course they always have a 40% off coupon!

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Have fun blog-hopping through all of the beautiful Crafternoon projects! Lolly Jane has a beautiful Christmas Art Kit that she would love to share with you so swing by to see her Crafternoon project.  Be sure to check out the entire Crafternoon line from Hazel & Ruby for all of your gifting needs!

xoxo

 

Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

Great Teacher Gifts on Small Budgets from MomAdvice.com

I am a firm believer that it’s a great idea to start your year off right with a little treat for your teachers. When my kids were small and I was tired, the gestures were small like a shiny apple on the first day and a handwritten note of thanks. Through the years, I try to do grander gestures like knitted cozies and cakes made from school materials.
When talking to teachers about what gifts they love though, I am told that the act of thankfulness can be a rarity in this harried world and that is why even something as small as a note to say thanks can mean so much.
Today I want to talk about small gestures that don’t cost a lot, but could mean a lot to a teacher. These are budget-minded projects created with a few items you can find at your local Goodwill store!

Read more over on the Goodwill Tips blog this morning!

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How to Make DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

What better way to focus on beauty than with a pampering bath salts recipe? Let’s celebrate this M Challenge repost of an earlier DIY project by making up a batch and use it today in a relaxing bath – preferably with a glass of wine!

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

These Mojito bath salts incorporate everything we love in a delicious mojito drink, with lots of fresh lime and mint. To really increase the mint component in these, we are adding a little mint essential oil to the mix. It’s easy to mix up an easy batch of Mojito Bath Salts that you can create with just a few items from your local grocer and craft store and makes a great addition to your beauty routine as well as a welcome handmade gift for the women in your life!

DIY Mojito Bath Salts

Supplies Needed

4 cups of Epsom Salt
2 limes, zest & juice
5-8 drops of mint essential oils (you can add more or less, depending on your preference)
2-4 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
Soap colorant in green (optional)
Glass Container or Jar

How to Make MojitoBath Salts

Have you ever made your own bath salts? It’s the kind of gift (or just for you!) that sounds really impressive, but you don’t have to have any craft skills at all to create it.

Epsom salts are the key ingredient in these and can be found at your local grocer or drugstore.  The wonders of Epsom salts have been well known for hundreds of years and are said to have beneficial properties that can soothe the body. Some of the countless health benefits include relaxing the nervous system, curing skin problems, soothing back pain and aching limbs, easing muscle strain, healing cuts, treating cold and congestion, and drawing toxins from the body.

The best part though is that these are inexpensive to buy and can be customized with your favorite ingredients, whether it be mint, lavender, eucalyptus, or any other essential oils that you might have on hand.

When purchasing these ingredients for this recipe, avoid any that have added ingredients or scents and just stick to the basic Epsom salts so the scents don’t overpower the essential oils that you are adding.

Easy-to-make Mojito Bath Salts

How to Make Mojito Bath Salts

1. Pour four cups of Epsom salts in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the zest and juice of two limes to your bowl.
3. Finely chop your mint and add these to your bowl.
4. Add 5-8 drops of essential oils. You can also add a small amount of green soap colorant, if you would like, to add a little color to your salts.
5. Mix the ingredients well and scoop into a glass jar.
6. Directions for use: Add ½ cup of Mojito Bath Salts to your bath.

Have you ever made bath salts before? What is your favorite recipe for these?

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Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets)

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

 

*This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!

As you know, since starting my fashion capsule project, I have become a huge fan of thredUP. I buy everything there from stuff for my kids (especially those one-time use special occasion outfits), to my workout gear for the gym, to our outerwear, and beautiful clothing for a fraction of retail prices. Nine times out of ten, if you see us wearing something… it is now from thredUP thanks to the affordability and how great it feels to get a pretty polka dotted box on our step filled with secondhand goodness.

That is why it was such an honor that they thought of me for an exciting campaign they are launching to support teachers and their classrooms for the back-to-school season. In honor of the Raise a Hand for Teachers Program,  I wanted to share with you our nomination for a deserving teacher and also show you a fun craft you can create for back-to-school for a special teacher in YOUR life.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

My daughter had a phenomenal school year this year and it was all thanks to Mr. Domonkos! I got to come in weekly to volunteer in her classroom and be a quiet observer firsthand at the kind of teacher he was and how he ran his classroom which is always a treat as a mom. I can tell you that if I had a teacher half that fun, the learning would have never felt like work. His goals were to not only teach our children the basics, but to teach them LIFE SKILLS.

Instead of just showing them math problems on a white board, he actually gave each child different roles in the classroom (like the classroom librarian or the banker) and then they would receive a salary for their jobs. They paid rent on their desks or they could save to buy their “home” and receive a deed for paying off their space.  Each week they were given the opportunity to save their money or spend it on trinkets in the classroom. They weren’t just talking about math… they were learning to use math like they will when they become an adult.

When I asked my daughter what she said that he taught her, she said it was how to manage her money. As a frugal blogger and author of my own personal finance book, this is MUSIC TO MY EARS.

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

The joy on my daughter’s face when she purchased her desk is the indescribable joy I hope to feel one day when we pay our own house off. 

From getting our kids signed up with Google accounts and having them design web pages to Sponge Bob theme music while writing about the sea to showing the kids YouTube segments to learn new math tricks, his classroom was filled with new and interactive ways to get our kids excited about learning.

I know there are many moments I didn’t get the opportunity to witness as well. The countless hours past his job spent preparing for class as well as those moments needed to stay after to help kids who are struggling. I am sure there were many moments sacrificed from his own family to teach our children…and we are so grateful.

The hiccuping sobs as she got off her bus on the last day of school were also indescribable as a mom. They were because of the absence of her amazing teacher and seeing him each day. 

That has never happened before. The adoration was very real.

Do you want to put a vote in for Mr. Domonkos? We would love your support of this phenomenal teacher!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Do you have a special teacher in your life? You can nominate them for a cash prize through their Raise a Hand for Teachers Program (#raiseahand) today!

thredUP.com has partnered with AdoptAClassroom.org to recognize and thank teachers for their hard work and the positive impact they make each day on our children’s lives. Why is thredUP thanking teachers? For starters, they know schools are super important to their customers. And, they discovered that 1 in 3 teachers are actually buying clothes for students (along with  school supplies) with money from their own pockets
. I have no doubt our favorite teacher has been doing this too which is why we want to nominate him for this prize today!
You can nominate your favorite teacher anytime between July 15 – August 23. Three teachers each win $2,500 for classroom supplies and $500 to thredUP. 50 runner-up winners receive $100 to thredUP.  How incredible is this? Today we nominate Mr. Domonkos for this award and we want you to help him win as well as nominate a worthy teacher of your own!  Winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 8 (following Labor Day weekend)! 
Be sure to check out thredUP for ALL your back-to-school needs. It’s a goldmine for families on a budget especially if your children have become brand-conscious or if you look for brands with longevity and that can handle your kid’s daily abuse. They have all my favorite brands including GapKids, Janie and Jack, Lilly Pulitzer, Mini Boden, Zara Kids and more! The best part is that the you save up to 90% off retail, so you don’t have to wait for the back-to-school sales to start to save a ton of money.

To support this fun campaign (and help with the school supplies problem that teachers face), we have crafted up the cutest Felted Flower Dry Erase Marker Bouquet that you can share with a teacher in your life. These felt flowers are so easy to create that even your child can make these (with a little assistance with the hot glue gun). Let’s get started!

Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

Package of Dry Erase Markers
Felt (can match the colors in your dry erase markers)
Hot Glue Gun & Glue Sticks
Scissors
Jar for Storage (optional)
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com

Directions to Make Felted Flowers

Begin by cutting a wavy circle out of your felt. The bigger the circle, the bigger the flower, the smaller the circle, the smaller the flower. If you want them all the same size, use the first one as your template for your other flowers.
Start cutting into the circle in a spiral motion. Around and around you go with your scissors until you get to the center. Leave the little circle at the end of your spiral intact.
It should look like this long piece of twirly felt (as we have pictured above). It will not be perfect.  Just remember that you can trim and angle everything the way you want it when you start creating your flower. It will look beautiful!
Starting with the end where you begin cutting, roll the felt back up. Keep wrapping and wrapping until you get to that little circle at the end. You can hot glue the felt as you go, but I found that the felt flower holds together well if you wrap it tightly enough.  Feel free to trim if you have any bits of felt sticking out or not laying as nicely as you like.
Raise A Hand for Teachers With thredUP  (Felted Flower Dry Eraser Marker Bouquets) from MomAdvice.com
After you have wrapped your rose up, dab hot glue on the back and secure the little end flap of the flower to the base.
Apply hot glue around the end of the dry erase marker (make sure you are getting around the exterior and not into the base of the marker. Secure your felt flower to the dry erase marker, holding it into place until it feels secure.
Repeat the process with the other dry erase markers until you have a bouquet! Place into a jar or tie a few with twine and give your teacher a bouquet they can use for back-to-school!
Don’t forget to Raise a Hand for a Teachers today with thredUP! We hope we have inspired you to nominate someone special and to create a fun gift for them as a thank you for all their hard work!
Felt-Flower-Dry-Erase-Markers-1

Looking for more great teacher gifts? Check out this round-up of 19 Awesome Ways to Show Teacher Appreciation! Yay!

*This post is sponsored by thredUP. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site!
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Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

As my kids get older, we have found that they need and want less and less.  We have also found that we desire less clutter and more moments with our kids so my husband and I hatched up a Choose Your Own Adventure gift for the holidays this year that we gave them in lieu of gifts.

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? They were my favorite when I was a kid because each time you read a book, you could make a choice that would take you down a different path. I think I reread this one a million times, returning the well-worn pages back to the library, only to to check it out again.

That idea of choosing your own adventures still lives on and I decided that this year, our family would make travel a top priority. I want my children to have big adventures and see the world so at Christmas, we gave them the unique opportunity to, truly, choose their own summer adventure with us as a family.

I tell you this now instead of in the winter because this one requires a chat with your kids about gift expectations and it also requires saving money for your adventure. 

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

We asked our kids if they would like to do a vacation instead of gifts this past Christmas and they were so excited to do this which thrilled us to no end.

Since my husband is a web designer, he came up with the genius idea to create a retro travel brochure (complete with a typewriter smear) that would make it look like this package was designed just for them that they could open on Christmas morning. Since there would be no gifts under the tree, we really wanted to give them something to enjoy on Christmas morning and to create a new tradition of gift-giving in our family!

The Mom & Dad Travel Agency (making dreams come true since a few minutes ago- ha!) cover sheet was designed with their names on it and placed on top of the gift.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

The first package they opened outlined the rules of the adventure.  If you decide to do something similar, you can create your own rules, but these were the rules we set up to make sure that things went smoothly. 

Found below are the rules we gave our kids! 

Rules for Our Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Package

ONE- You must agree TOGETHER on the trip. We know that this will be tough, but it is also a great opportunity to work on your teamwork skills. Take your time coming to your decision and read through each of the files carefully. In it, we have outlined how you will get to your destination, where and who you might visit, as well as the exclusive adventure you will get to take.

TWO- Although we will do our best to book the places we have outlined for you, these will also be subject to availability. Do you know what that means? It just means, it depends on if the places or owners have space for us. For example, if the place we show you ends up not being available when we are able to go, we promise to find something as close as possible to what we have shared with you. That is the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY guarantee.

THREE- We will book the destination of your choosing as soon as possible, but the trip will be taken in the SPRING (sometime between the months of MARCH-MAY). Again, all of this will hinge on the availability and the ideal weather for wherever you select.

FOUR- HAVE FUN! Again, the MOM & DAD TRAVEL AGENCY is so pleased that you want to do something with… well…, your MOM & DAD as a gift. How many parents get to say that? We are so proud to take this trip with you and look forward to serving all of your travel needs.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I designated one file folder for each package idea and my husband created retro cover sheets for each package. For our family, the three destinations were to Florida (Universal and our Mimi), Boston (renting a houseboat and seeing where my son was born), and California (to see the Redwood Forest). Each package was wrapped individually so they had three files to open in the morning.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I then typed up travel itineraries that we hoped the kids would love reading together in the morning. We really wanted to make each of these special and a true gift in the morning.

Upon opening all three, they had a little conference session on their own to decide the trip that they wanted to do.  As outlined in the rules above, they had to decide together.  We knew this might be tough, but there was also the option of one picking one year and the other picking the next year.  

In fact, we are planning to recycle one that wasn’t chosen (that seemed to get a lot of buzz) and add a couple of new options.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Over our annual Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls, they shared that Universal was the chosen holiday for the year. I am proud to say it wasn’t really about seeing the Harry Potter world at all… it was, in fact, getting to see their amazing Mimi that really sold our Mom & Dad Agency package.

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

Choose Your Own Adventure Travel Idea from MomAdvice.com

I hope this idea is inspiring to your family! We are so excited to take adventures with our kids this year and in the years to come and are so happy they enjoyed this gift as much as we enjoyed creating it for them!

*This post contains affiliate links!
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DIY Money Book Page Posies

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

DIY Money Book Page Posies from MomAdvice.com

Graduation season is here and that means being prepared with lots of great gifts for the amazing grads in our life. It probably goes without saying that one of the most useful gifts to a poor college student is money. Of course, giving just money can sometimes feel less personal than I would like. So, I crafted up some adorable money book page posies that you can create out of a few supplies you probably already have on hand, to make one beautiful posy or a bouquet for the graduate in your life.

DIY Money Book Page Posies from MomAdvice.com

I created this adorable, “What’s blooming? BOOK MONEY!” gift tag that you can attach to one of these simple paper flowers! How adorable is that?

To snag this tutorial and my free printables to make these Book Page Posies, head on over to the Kenmore blog today! While you are there, be sure to check out their handy list of easy Mother’s Day DIY gifts that you can make for a special mama in your life!

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How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALDI.

Today I wanted to share an adorable gift idea for someone special in your life. Today’s tutorial is how to make beautiful chocolate coffee spoons that you can pair with a big basket of coffee for gift-giving. This gift is perfect for any occasion and can be made in less than 30 minutes. The inspiration for this project came along with the opportunity to try the new Barissimo line of premium coffee products that are available at your local ALDI store.  I’m so excited to be partnering with them again on this project.

In case you missed my Maple Coffee Bacon post from last week, I had the opportunity to try out all of the new coffees from ALDI and create some fun projects using this newly launched line at their store.

This line features nine bagged and single serve coffee items, along with additional seasonal and Special Buy items that will be available for a limited time. Pictured below are a few of the ones that I found on my store shelves this month.

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

Nothing pictured here is over $5 (even the Fair Trade coffee) which means it is quite the steal. In the past, I have relied on these bags of coffee for easy hostess gifts and breakfast baskets for new homeowners. It is an excellent gift to give especially to a tired new mom or a new college student.  I thought it would be fun to dress these baskets up a bit with beautiful chocolate coffee covered spoons that you could package in your basket.

Let’s get started!

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

Supplies Needed

1 bag Baker’s Corner Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Baking Morsels

1 bag Baker’s Corner Milk Chocolate Baking Morsels

1 cup Baker’s Corner White Chocolate Baking Morsels

½ teaspoon Carlini Pure Vegetable Shortening (or more, if needed)

Edible sprinkles of your choice

Ribbon

Pastry/candy decorating bags

Candy wrappers

Antique spoons or plastic spoons (I got these six for $5 an antique store)

*Some of these items are Special Buy or Seasonal items that are only in stores for a limited time and may no longer be available.

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

Directions

  1. Melt your semi-sweet chocolate chips (the whole bag) over a steam bath or in microwave. Melt chocolate slowing, stirring frequently. If chocolate clumps or doesn’t melt smoothly, add 1/2 teaspoon of shortening to help smooth it out.
  2. Dip your spoons into the chocolate and then rest them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

 

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com 3. Decorate with your choice of milk chocolate, white chocolate and/or various garnishes. Drizzle with melted white chocolate (using my pastry bag) and then shake on some edible pearls so they would stick. Let these set completely before placing into decorative bags and tying with beautiful ribbon.

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

How to Make Chocolate Coffee Spoons from MomAdvice.com

We placed these beauties into a basket with a variety of our favorite Barissimo coffees, exclusively from ALDI. A pretty dishtowel on bottom pulls it all together and acts as bonus gift.

These spoons add another level of richness to your coffee giving you a rich chocolate flavor. These also would make a fun addition to your cocoa.

I hope you enjoyed our fun series with ALDI this month and that these ideas have inspired you to give their new coffee line-up a try! I promise that you won’t be disappointed, not just in the incredible taste, but the incredible amount of savings to be had for your family!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ALDI.

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How to Make the Perfect Prayer Shawl

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

how-to-knit-prayer-shawls-header

*This post is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this site! 

Many times in life I have felt like there is  so little I can do when hardships arise for those I love. The gift of learning to knit though has been one of those skills that I have been able to share with others in their time of need and always seems to be appreciated, particularly during those difficult moments in life. Although I have talked often of my chemo caps I have created,  one of the gifts I especially love to give is a knitted prayer shawl.

Have you heard of a prayer shawl before? It’s a special gift that you can knit or crochet that can be wrapped around the shoulders of someone who is need of comfort. As you knit or crochet it, you pray for the recipient…thus, its beautiful name.

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Each shawl I create has a special personal touch for each recipient and I spend a lot of time crafting, knitting, and selecting a prayer to make each of these uniquely special.  My patterns have come from an amazing book called THE PRAYER SHAWL COMPANION by Janet Bristow & Victoria A. Cole-Galo, who also happen to be the founders of the Prayer Shawl Ministry. Janet was kind enough to do an interview with me to help inspire you to create a shawl for someone in need.

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How did you find your passion in knitting/crocheting prayer shawls?

I started making prayer shawls with Vicky Galo after we graduated from the Women’s Leadership Institute at the Hartford Seminary in 1997. We were challenged to use what we had learned and apply those insights to our everyday lives. We felt that making a shawl for someone through the work of our hands and the thoughts and prayers from our hearts was a loving way to reach out to others in need of comfort.

What types of yarn are your favorite to use in creating your prayer shawls?

I have no favorite yarn and use what appeals to me.

I am sure that all the shawls you have created are so special, but do you have one in particular that you are most proud of creating and who was it for?

Each shawl is special; but the ones I made to send to Newtown, CT to be given to the families of the children that were lost stay in my heart because I knew the comfort they would bring; but I also drew a lot of comfort in making them.

I love to weave in trinkets and charms that people can clutch, like crosses or pictures of their children/grandchildren on the edge of my shawl. What are some unique personal touches that can make a prayer shawl even more special that you like to use?

I always make sure to attach a charm or medal to the fringe and encourage the receiver to do the same and add their own trinkets as a source of inspiration and meditation.

Do you have a favorite prayer that you like to include or say while creating your shawls?

Many times throughout the making of a shawl and upon completion, I say the “Prayer of Blessing” I wrote:

“May God’s grace be upon this shawl, warming, comforting, enfolding, and embracing,
May this mantle be a safe haven…a sacred place of security and well being,
Sustaining and embracing in good times as well as difficult ones.
May the one who receives this shawl be cradled in hope, kept in joy, graced with peace,
and wrapped in love.”

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Like Janet, I have made many prayer shawls over the years and I wanted to share some answers to some questions that I have been asked about my prayer shawls to help you if you might be considering making one of your own. 

What is your favorite type of yarn that you use for your shawls?

I am a big fan of the Lion Brand Homespun Yarn as my yarn of choice. I like the bulkiness of the yarn and that it has a lot of texture. The yarn is thick so it helps to knit the shawls quickly and I usually knit with size 15 needles so that I knit them quicker.

I always try to ask what the recipient’s favorite color is and weave that into the packaging in some way. I love a good neutral shawl that can be worn over everything, but if their favorite colors is purple, for example, I use ribbon to tie in that bolder color to attach my charms on the edge.

What types of charms do you love?

I try to be very personal with my gifts so I like to weave in an element of faith (usually a cross) and then a personal element. The other element I love to do is a photo element because it is a great visual for someone in their time of need. The jewelry section of your craft stores or the craft section of Walmart offer a variety of charms that you can use for photo storage. It depends on the person I am knitting it for though on what I choose to do.

When my grandfather passed away, I had the sweetest picture of him and put this in a charm for my mom & grandma as a gift for the holidays. For those that are fighting a battle of some kind (a miscarriage or cancer), I like to add a photo element that encourages them to keep fighting. Pictures of grandkids or their children offer a gentle reminder of all they have to fight for.

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What types of patterns do you recommend for creating a prayer shawl?

I feel like this is really a matter of preference, but since the object is to focus on the person you are creating it for through meditation or prayer, I love simple patterns and not anything too complex. As a busy mom, this is a project you will find me toting around back and forth from piano & dance lessons, so it needs to be one that I can pick up easily and come back to or be able to knit a quick row in the car while waiting for the kid’s bus.

My go-to pattern is in THE PRAYER SHAWL COMPANION and is called Alice’s Lace Shawl. I love it because there is just a single row of stitching (very easy to remember) and then the other two rows are a knitted row and a purl row.  If you are a crocheter, THE CROCHETED PRAYER SHAWL COMPANION is a great resource & Janet recently added THE NEW PRAYER SHAWL COMPANION which I can’t wait to check out too!

You can also check Ravelry (you need to get your free membership to view the patterns)  for a variety of shawl patterns.

How long does it take to knit a prayer shawl?

To be honest, many of the shawls I knit end up being needed urgently so I try to knit them quickly, often in a matter of three marathon knitting nights. Lately, with our family schedule,  it takes me several weeks to get these done. I try to remember that the true purpose of this is to be in prayerfulness  and to provide comfort, not be the quickest at knitting. The longer I have it in my possession, the more time I have to think on that person. Provided it isn’t an urgent situation, I can usually get these done in a few weeks!

If you have a special talent for knitting or crocheting, consider donating a little of your time to creating prayer shawls for others. Many of the people I have knitted these for, I have never met, but have discovered their struggles through mutual friends or family. This gift for people I know personally or not…  it is just never forgotten. I still have some of the most heartfelt teary-eyed chats with family members or recipients of these shawls years and years after the gift is given.

In a world where we are expected to rush, rush, rush and hurried text messages sometimes replace our real & true presence, a gift like this is impactful in ways you may never realize. 

Have you ever received or created a prayer shawl? Feel free to share your experience here! I’d love to hear your stories!

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