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Dec 1, 2011
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Frugal Homemade Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers

Hand rolled felt beads
Photo Credit: Emmanuelle Bourgue

This post is a part of
Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things,
Frugal Friday at Life As Mom, and
December’s Frugal Family Carnival
at Natural Mothers Network

Christmas this year will be celebrated with family in the traditional way of celebrating on Dec.25th.  Michael and I hope to begin a new tradition of celebrating presents and stockings on St. Nicholas Day next year, when we can celebrate in our own home.  However this year, I am on the hunt for frugal, handmade Christmas stockings for Naomi.  Last year for Christmas, I knitted her a lovely stocking.  I’m excited to fill it with some delicious treats and trinkets for little hands.

girly girl fun apron

Sweet Girly Little Apron. Photo Credit: Leia Barker

I likely won’t be getting to my sewing machine before Christmas, but I would like for Naomi to have a pretty little girl’s apron to use in our kitchen.  So if I find the right t-shirt, I might try out this tutorial for making one out of an old t-shirt.  I save all my old stained t-shirts for just such occasions!  I have an idea for a waterproof (read: mess-proof) apron as well, so stay tuned for that!

mmmmm COOKIE!!

Photo Credit: Chris Gehlen

Cookies are a sweet, homemade treat that can be specialized to meet her dietary needs.  We are a real food, whole food, nourshing type of family, but Naomi seems to have an unpleasant reaction to cinnamon.  So I can avoid that by simply baking her some delicious treats for her stockings.  A simple shortbread or chocolate chip cookie recipe would do the trick nicely.  I just have to be sure they don’t become breakfast!

Another interesting little toy would be several pretty felted wool balls in different colors and sizes.  Next time I am at my favorite secondhand store I will pick up some wool and make some.  These are great for little hands, for tossing around (without damaging anything), could be strung on a string for necklaces, etc.  Oh!  And I found this great idea from Meg at Mega•Crafty on how to make them without getting your hands dirty!


Pocketbook slippers

Pocketbook Slippers. Photo Credit: SewPixie

Little feet get cold quickly.  So a comfy pair of knitted slippers are great, especially ones that are easy to put on and off.  These pocketbook slippers are a favorite I’ve knitted several times.  Just be careful to put some puff paint on the very bottoms to prevent slipping and sliding!  Tumbles are no fun at Christmas.

To make bathtime more fun, homemade soap crayons are a great idea too. I like the idea that I can use a natural soap on Naomi, as well as use natural food colorings, rather than anything with ingredients I cannot pronounce. I like this technique because it’s pretty simple.

Finger paint 2

Photo Credit: Rael B

If my mess-proof apron is a success, I might venture into the realm of homemade finger paints.  Poor Michael might have a stroke, but I know Naomi would absolutely love to try finger painting (though this might be restricted to the walls of the tub before bath time).  This recipe from Tiffany at Easie Peasie seems to be really popular!

Do you have any suggestions for frugal, homemade stocking stuffers?  If so, please share!  I’d love to hear about them!

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Nov 15, 2011

How to Begin to Knit For Free (Or Almost Free!)

i think i'll ♥ to knit...

Photo Credit: Karine

I have a bad habit of picking up something, and then never finishing it.  So when I decided I wanted to start knitting, I wanted to be sure that I didn’t invest too much money into it.  In doing so, I have amassed quite a bundle of yarn that I have practiced and created some great items.  I have discovered quite a few neat ways to find yarn, needles, resources, guidance, and especially patterns.

The Library.  Obviously if you’re just beginning to learn to knit, heading to the library for books that teach you how to knit are great, especially if you’re a literal (not so much a visual) learner, who finds it easier to read the instructions than look at the pictures.  Also, your library often has great (mostly free!) beginner classes.  I have seen free Knitting for Beginners classes at my local library.

Your Church.  Knitting, for years, was seen as the “little old lady” hobby, and there is some merit to that.  But for many seniors, it’s a great way to keep their hands active and their fingers strong.  If you look at your church bulletin, you might find an opportunity for women to get together to knit prayer shawls.  This is a great chance for your to not only learn to knit, but also an opportunity to give back to your community by knitting something warm and wonderful for a sick person, a new baby, or a poor cold homeless person.  Sometimes, these get togethers also have people who have a spare pair of needles or a few extra balls of yarn that they’d be happy to give to you for you to practice with.

Freecycle.  I have received dozens of sets of knitting needles from Freecycle.  I’ve also been able to give away extra yarn to those who are looking to learn as well.  Post a message and see what comes up!

Yard Sales.  I received a huge box of yarn from someone who just couldn’t get the hang of it for $2!  You cannot argue with that!  Even amongst that box, I found a gorgeous set of wooden knitting needles.  They are just so pretty!

Secondhand Stores.  Yesterday when I stopped by my favorite secondhand store, I discovered they had changed their arrangement with yarn.  Rather than having a bunch of bags of mixed yarn, they now have a huge bin of random balls of yarn and a sign that says “Bag Your Own Yarn for $3, or $0.99 A Ball”.  Happy dance!!!

The Internet.  Nevermind the patterns!  How about the resources available to you?  If you don’t know how to do a specific stitch or method of knitting, just hop onto the various beautiful craft and knitting blogs and you will find plenty of wonderful people who are happy to show you how!  Or have a creative way of finding (cheaper) alternatives.  And there are various forums of people who can help you troubleshoot your latest snarl.  Trust me, there is no mistake made in knitting that someone else online has not experienced.

Family and Friends.  My mom loaned me her favorite knitting beginners book, which is how I was able to teach myself to knit.  A coworker taught me how to quickly cast on.  My aunt taught me how to bind off.  It’s so easy to find someone who can teach you something.  Hey, even that lady who knits on the bus might be willing to help you!  Knitting has a way of spreading warm, gentle feelings between people.

Local Craft Stores.  Our city has plenty of gorgeous knitting stores.  And I have seen plenty of courses and classes of people who want to show you how to knit for free or for a very reasonable fee.  If you look into it, I will bet you will find something similar in your neighborhood.

Gift Certificates and Coupons.  It’s getting close to the holidays, so start making your desires known!  If you do secret Santa at the office, start mentioning to your coworkers your desire to learn to knit.  If your mother asks for a list of stocking stuffers, note your favorite craft store.  If you get a gift certificate for a big box store, go grab a pair of needles and a big ball of fluff.  Might as well give it a try!  Also, keep an eye on your flyers and newspapers.  I have two coupons on my fridge for 50% off at my local craft store so I can go get my hands on some delicious wool.

Volunteering.  Giving back to your community can open so many doors.  Why not head over to your nearest seniors home and have tea with a lovely elderly lady?  Ask her to teach you.  No wool sweater in the world could compare to the warmth in the smile of a senior who wants to share time and conversation with someone who is interested in what she has to say.  Or stop by a local women’s shelter.  Knitting is a destressor and is a great way to strike up a conversation while you’re serving others.  Or look at some of the wonderful knitting organizations out there who take your funny practice pieces and make them into something wonderful.

Do you have other tricks to find free or frugal knitting supplies and lessons?  I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and tell us about it!

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Sep 30, 2011

Free 101 Days of Christmas eBook and Printables


Taya at Simply Frugal notified me of this one via Twitter a week ago!  It is a free eBook entitled 101 Days of Christmas and it includes free printables!  I love it when they take out the work for me and I just have to fill in the blanks!  Yippee!  Especially since Christmas just seems to be getting closer and closer all the time.  Sheesh!


This post is part of Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things and Frugal Friday at Life As Mom.



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Sep 23, 2011

Free Vintage Printable Alphabet Cards


After chancing on these on Pinterest, I decided to venture further into the internet and see if I could find these beautiful vintage alphabet cards.  I think these would be lovely to print out and hang on the bedroom wall of an imaginative child to spell out his or her name, or the alphabet.  Or even to print them out small and laminate them.  They are just so precious.


What creative uses can you come up with to use these alphabet pictures?  I would love to hear!


This post is part of Finer Things Friday at Amy’s Finer Things, Frugal Friday at Life As Mom and Friday’s Nature Table at The Magic Onions.



Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed my post, please subscribe to miniMOMist and share on Twitter or visit my Facebook page.