Christmas Decorations on a Budget

Christmas Decorations on $10

…and a few scrapbooking supplies.

So, we’ve moved and due to our small living arrangements at this time, I had to leave all our Christmas decorations in storage for this year. I was a bit sad at first since Christmas is coming up in a few weeks and my family is coming to visit. Of course I wish for it to “look” like Christmas, whatever that means anyways. Christmas here in America can be so overrated when it comes to decorating and the things we do. We so easily lose sight of what we’re really celebrating. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas! I love the time with family, the special productions, concerts and events, the treats and goodies that are shared and it’s a great time to do these things but it’s not what Christmas is all about.

Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birthday! Funny how we give gifts to each other when it’s HIS birthday! Again, there’s nothing wrong with giving gifts, it’s a great time to share but I so easily forget why there’s so much hustle and bustle in November and December!

So, this year with an empty box of Christmas decorations and no “extra” resources I decided to get creative. I gave myself a $10 budget and I’m doing pretty good!  I do have my scrapbooking supplies to use along with a little scrap paper to add in as needed.

I’ve created some of these little ideas already and others will have to wait as the time gets nearer.

First winner is the wreath for our door! Yes, I googled things but that’s what it’s for! 🙂 The local library has a little bookstore where they sell used books for a very small price. Don’t tell the librarian but yes, I bought an old songbook and it’s being torn to pieces but for a good reason I promise! 🙂 My wreath is made with song pages of worship and praise music. Quite fitting I do believe!

Go to: http://sewspoiled.blogspot.com/2009/11/gift-idea-2-paper-wreaths.html for a few instructions for this super easy craft!

My husband helped me make a nice little selection of paper snowflakes from music pages and I hung them with sewing thread from the ceiling near our double glass doors. The sun catches the few glitter coated snowflakes and it’s very festive! Thanks baby for your help! 🙂 I’m not sure what I will do with the remaining song sheets I have…we’ll see!

I found a few strings of Christmas lights on sale on Black Friday so my kitchen and our dining room is sparkling with warmth! We have a great big mirror on one wall next to our dining room table so I used a water based paint to sketch the nativity scene so we do not forget the reason we’re celebrating.

 

 

I can’t wait to decorate the table for Christmas dinner! Fresh pears with a little name tag will serve well for dinner and we’ll have fresh fruit for breakfast the next day! And quite possibly individual gift boxes made from recycled cards with a homemade peppermint patty for our after dinner mint! Oh I can’t wait! I’m so excited!

Budget of $10

Lights $5.76

Songbook $1.00

Paint $1.49

Poinsettia $2.99

=$11.24

I was hoping to score a poinsettia on sale as we near Christmas but I’m not sure my budget will fit even a small one, oh well…I’ll have to get creative with what’s left! 🙂 Maybe a single red rose in an elegantly modern vase with cinnamon sticks incorporated (I have those on hand). I’ll share the results! 🙂

Update: We found a poinsettia on sale! $2.99 so I’m over my budget by $1.24 but I decided that was acceptable. 🙂 A few evergreens snipped from trees=free! The scent is wonderful! I bought cranberries for a dish and they were on sale buy one get one free so I have a little leftover of my “free” bag. A little sprig of greenery and a few cranberries make a darling little decoration on my kitchen cabinets!  As for the remaining cranberries… they’ll garnish dishes and the table!

We’re almost ready! Today is full of food prep and baking desserts! A few gluten free and dairy free and a few just organic desserts that contain a little gluten and dairy for those of my family who are not allergic and prefer a few grains and cows! 🙂 I love having the vegetables all cut up and ready to eat with fresh hummus or homemade ranch dressing. It’s a healthy “go to” snack when there’s sweets around this time of the year!

More to come….

 

And here is our dinner table decorated on a budget for Christmas! Paper trees, mason jars, handmade napkin rings and pears graced with a name card for each person.

 

So pretty and easy and fresh fruit for snacks! Voila!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scrabble tiles displayed  helped to add to my low budget decorations.

 

 

Twas a wonderful Christmas making memories and being thankful for all the blessings God has given!

 

 

Iced Tea or Water?

Iced Tea…Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter!

Yes, I know, it’s not exactly ice tea weather although we’ve had some really warm days with plenty of sunshine, but I drink water all the time and sometimes I just need something with a good flavor! Shake it up a bit, you know? 🙂 My evening ritual  almost always includes some sort of hot tea and on occasion a hot cocoa but tea is usually the drink of choice. And the options are endless!

My favorite is fresh dried peppermint from my grandma or mom’s garden. We’ve been drying peppermint tea as long as I can remember and it doesn’t get any fresher than that!

In the summer peppermint tea is steeped from fresh leaves and gives a wonderfully potent flavor. It’s iced and often lots of sugar is added.  When I get a craving for fresh tea in the summer I add a little liquid stevia and maybe a few teaspoons of fresh honey. I don’t miss the sugar anymore and it’s so much better for us to drink!

Back to options…my tea tray includes:

Chamomile-good for relaxing, bedtime and pms cramps

Green Tea-wonderful antioxidants and good for your skin

Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat-the name says it all

Chia Spice-good antioxidants

Wisniowa by Malwas-one box which I am unable to read the label very well because I found it in my Ukrainian friends shop this summer! But, I can read the ingredients: aronia (or chokeberries), rowan (a bitter fruit used in Britain as a jelly to accompany meats), apple, rose hip, elderberry, cherry, hibiscus flower, red currant. Packed with flavor, color and antioxidants you can’t resist!

This tea makes a tasty and beautiful red tea full of bursts of fruit flavors and is perfect over ice! A little stevia to sweeten and a wonderful change from my boring water! 🙂

Iced Tea

3 Tb loose leaf tea or 3 tea bags

1 qt. boiling water

1 qt. cold water or 1/2 qt. + 10 ice cubes

12 drops liquid stevia

Prepare your tea bags or loose tea in a mesh strainer. Pour boiling water over and let steep 5-7 min. Remove tea leaves and add cold water. Refrigerate for an hour before serving. Add ice if you wish and enjoy!

Try experimenting with any tea you wish. You’ll find there’s plenty more to drink than just water! And, if you really don’t’ like tea, try a few slices of lime, lemon or orange in your water! 🙂

Balsamic Swiss Chard

Greens, greens, greens…

Yes, swiss chard is a green vegetable and guess what? It’s wonderful! When I was first diagnosed with food allergies I felt I had nothing to cook! But, I was so wrong! About a month into my diet change my husband and I went to buy groceries for the week and I decided to linger in the produce a bit longer. I took my notebook and made note of every vegetable and fruit that I had never tasted or did not know how to cook or prepare. I decided then and there that I was going to have fun with this! I was not going to feel sorry for myself and I wasn’t going to miss out of good tasting food! And so my journey began…

I attempted kale first and while I enjoy kale the swiss chard won the prize! I prefer the buy red or rainbow chard because its beautiful colors looks so exciting on my plate!

Swiss Chard offers an array of nutritional benefits. Due to its color palate it is packed full of at least 13 different antioxidants and a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. These are wonderful sources for controlled blood sugar, anti-inflammatory and detoxification support. It is packed with vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, not to mention long list of others. I suppose if I ate chard for every meal I may be able to skip my multivitamin! 🙂 Swiss Chard is one of the most popular vegetables along the Mediterranean and is considered one of the most nutritious vegetables available.

To store swiss chard before preparing, do not wash but place in a plastic bag and gently release air. Typically, it will store up to 5 days.

Balsamic Swiss Chard

Serves 2-4

4 large Rainbow Swiss Chard leaves, washed and ends trimmed off

2 shallots or boiler onions, sliced thin

2 Tb coconut oil

1 Tb balsamic vinegar

2 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Wash and prepare swiss chard, separating the stems from the leaves in separate bowls. Heat coconut oil in a pan on medium heat. Saute the swiss chard stems for 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add onions and leaves and sauté for 2 minutes or until leaves are wilting slightly. Add remaining ingredients and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately.

*Leftovers may be added to scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Fruit Roll-Ups

Homemade Fruit Roll-ups

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter…it doesn’t matter when you have Fruit Roll-Ups, they’re always good! I’m not one of those talented and committed girls that dehydrate everything and eat it all raw but I’m slowly learning a few things. I go for the easy ones…something I have on hand or that’s on sale. Sometimes its trial and error but in the end its tasty!

I love having a few healthy snacks on hand and these are great because they help curb that sweet craving, no sugar, just real fruit! The best is fresh fruit; puree and discard seeds if necessary. I’ve found that depending on the climate you’re in, it may take a little less time to dry them. You want them to be a little sticky to the touch, not dry or they’ll be fruit crackers when you’re finished! Trust me! 🙂

Have fun and try your own combinations and flavors. You can always add 100% juice or water if liquid is needed. Fresh fruit is always the best but frozen and canned will also work and sometimes needed for my budget! If you use either frozen or canned, you may not need to add liquid as they tend to have more water in them. Enjoy!

Peach & Pear Fruit Roll-Ups

3 large fresh peaches

3 large fresh pears

1/2-1 cup water

2 tsp cinnamon

Peal, core and quarter fruit. Place in a blender and add 1/2 cup water. Blend on high. Add a little more water if necessary to blend smooth. Add cinnamon and mix well. Pour onto lightly greased drying sheets and dehydrate for 2-4 hours checking every 15 min. towards the end. Cut fruit with a pizza cutter and roll into snack size portions. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks. Great for snacks, lunches and traveling.

Variations:

Very Berry

2 cups blueberries

1 cup black raspberries

1/2 cup apple juice

Follow as directed above. Strain mixture to remove seeds and follow instructions for drying.

Strawberry-Banana

2 cups fresh strawberries

1 very ripe banana

1/2 cup water

Follow as directed above.

May your day be full of tasty, healthy little snacks!

My Dirty Dishes

Oh how I love clean dishes…

Funny how God asks such small things of us and they seem so big to us to give up sometimes.

See, I have this thing with dirty dishes. I like to have the counter, the sink and the stove top sparkling clean, the dishwasher loaded and the pot and pans drying. This has been part of my evening routine for 4 years. Not every night but 362 days out of 365.

But this is what I thought is best for me. I’m keeping up with my responsibilities as a wife, cooking and cleaning and caring and serving my family through household chores. Most of the time I enjoy these things so it hasn’t really been a burden or something I dread. Have I ever really prayed about this? No.

I’m not sure what prompted the dirty dish issue but God has been working to remove the “stuck on crud “in my life lately and there’s a lot of it. So, somewhere in my day a little while back God told me to leave the dishes…and leave them every night rinsed, in the sink for at least 12 days. I may wash them in the morning, but I MUST wait until the morning.

What???!!! No! Surely that wasn’t God! Well, it wasn’t me! And why would the enemy care to tell me something of the sort?

Finally, after a few days I told God, “ok, I’ll do it because You asked”.

It’s been almost 10 days and guess what? Do you know how absolutely freeing it has been? Just for fun on the weekend, I left them set an extra day! 🙂

The first night we rinsed the dishes and put leftovers away and I sat down with my husband to spend the evening reading and communicating! And you know, it’s not that you can’t talk and clean the kitchen but we’re much more focused on our conversations when we’re sitting together. It was a pleasure.

On the busy nights where dinner is rushed because we have an appointment or schedule to follow, I don’t stress over the dirty dishes. Why? Because, guess what? The dishes will still be there in the morning! And you may say, “exactly! That’s why I do them every night!” but I say, exactly, that’s why it’s ok to leave the dirty dishes sometimes. 🙂

I’ve discovered that it’s ok to rest, to relax, to leave the dirty dishes. And besides, I’m very thankful I have dirty dishes because it means we are blessed enough to have food on our table. Thank You God.

I sincerely hope that if you’ve almost never tried it…that tonight…you have a “dirty dish” evening and that you even try it for more than one night. Seriously, it won’t hurt anyone! 🙂

God bless your dirty dishes.

Love, Sheila