3 Affordable (and Adorable!) Homemade Gift Ideas

Christmas is almost here. I can hardly believe it! Seriously, this year has FLOWN by!

This year, I’m trying to focus on meaningful and homemade gifts. Here are a few of my favorite gifts to give.

1. Homemade Dry Shampoo
Since writing the original dry shampoo post, I’ve found a way to make this gift adorable. I found spice jars for $1. I tossed the spicy hole filled shaker thing in the trash. I don’t need it for this. I fill the jar with my homemade dry shampoo. I ordered small round labels from vistaprint.com and put a cute “Dry Shampoo” label on each lid. I buy inexpensive make up brushes for $1 and include that along with the dry shampoo. The gift is too cute for words. I personally love my dry shampoo and use it weekly. I think it’s a great little gift!

Homemade Dry Shampoo

Homemade Dry Shampoo

A practical and pretty gift!

A practical and pretty gift!

2. Homemade Taco Seasoning
I use this recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. It’s super easy to make and only has 4 ingredients! I found these super cute little mason jars from Target for $1.99 each. Each jar holds 3-4 batches of this recipe. I printed a little label on colored card stock. I used a business card template only to keep the size small and played with it a few times to get the font the right size. I cut it and punched a hole and attached it to the spice jar with some twine. (The twine was a clearance deal at Target- I think I paid 45 cents for it!)

Doesn’t everybody make tacos?

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Handmade Label

Handmade Label

Back of Mason Jar

Back of Mason Jar

Inside the Jar

Inside the Jar

3. Homemade Pumpkin Bread Mix
I love pumpkin bread! I premix my dry ingredients and store them in empty and cleaned giant olive jars. I could use that jar with a pretty handmade label or splurge and buy a cute and new jar. Fill the jar with the dry ingredients. Make a label on card stock including “Homemade Pumpkin Bread Mix” along with the directions. Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix 1 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 c canola oil, 3 Tbsp of maple syrup & 3 Tbsp water. Add dry mix. Bake for 45-50 minutes for large loaf.

As a gift, the jarred dry mix would look adorable with a can or box of pumpkin puree and a mini maple syrup bottle. I haven’t yet given this as a gift, so I don’t have a photo to share yet. But here’s what the glass jar of dry mix and a box of pumpkin look like together… precious!

Just needs a pretty label

Just needs a pretty label

These gifts are easy to make, useful, affordable and just plain adorable! Merry Christmas and happy gift giving!

The Freezer is my Best Friend Part 5: Homemade Pizza

It’s not delivery. And there’s no way it’s DiGiorno’s. (Did I even spell that right?)

But sometimes (ummm- a lot of times!), us food allergy families want an easy dinner.

We occasionally enjoy Daiya “cheese” pizza, but at almost $10 for a small frozen pizza, it’s quite spendy. It’s worth it, though, for the sake of ease and convenience.

A friend of mine blogs over at Ally’s Sweet and Savory Eats. She wrote about a way to freeze homemade pizza. I pinned it and finally gave it a go.

Ally’s recipe needed a few changes to adapt it to our diet.

Here’s how I made dairy, egg, and beef free pizzas for our freezer.

Homemade Pizzas for the Freezer:
(Freezer instructions come from this recipe. Thanks Ally!)

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Click on the homemade pizza dough recipe above. I don’t follow their instructions. I put it all in my bread machine and press the “dough” button. In an hour and a half, I have gorgeous homemade pizza dough!
  • Click on the homemade pizza sauce recipe above. Double the recipe.
  • Prepare your toppings. I like to use chopped onion, chopped green bell peppers, and olives.
  • Once the pizza dough is ready, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Flour large surface. Separate pizza dough into 4 equal parts (Or 8 if you want smaller pizzas). Flour your rolling pin. Roll each portion of dough into a round circle. Use a fork to prick the raw dough. Place onto a round pizza pan or pizza stone. (I use $3.99 pizza pans with holes in them. They work great.) Bake for 6 minutes. Repeat with each pizza dough. (I always have a few pizza dough bubbles and prick them again with the fork.) Let the partially baked pizza crusts rest on a cookie rack while you pre-bake them all.
  • Spread pizza sauce on each pizza. I didn’t measure it. I just eyeballed it. If you like really saucy pizza, you might have to make more pizza sauce.
  • Spread cheese on the pizzas. I generally use 1/2 bag per pizza.
  • Add toppings.
  • Flash freeze in the freezer for 45 minutes. (The tricky part is finding space to flash freeze them. You flash freeze the pizzas unwrapped.  I put the pizzas on a cookie sheet in the freezer.)
  • Wrap the pizza in plastic wrap several times and label and date with reheating instructions.
  • Ally’s reheating instructions are to bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Vegan Cheese Pizza

Vegan Cheese & Veggie Pizzas

Random Notes:

I almost ran out of vegan cheese because I did this on a whim and wasn’t quite as prepared as I should have been. I will add a bit more cheese to the cheese pizzas when I bake them.

Also, I decided to make 2 of the 4 cheese pizzas. I can add toppings later if I want or leave them as just cheese.

I made two normal size round pizzas and four smaller ones. The smaller ones are above in the photos.

The Daiya “cheese” is $4.99 a bag, but even at that price, these pizzas still come out cheaper than the store bought Daiya frozen pizzas ($9.59 at my HyVee.) The cost of the other toppings are minimal and are always in my pantry or fridge as staples, so I don’t really count that towards the final price of cost savings. (One onion, one bell pepper & a jar of olives maybe cost $3.00. Add the two bags of “cheese” and the cost for all of the pizzas are maybe $12.98. This is my best quick estimate. I’m not figuring in the pizza dough or pizza sauce.) By this rough estimate, each pizza costs about $3.25!

I’m so EXCITED to have 4, that’s right 4, homemade and SAFE pizzas in my freezer right now. I almost don’t want to use them because then I’ll have three… I know, that doesn’t make sense. I wish I would’ve made more!

Right now, I’m one happy mama!

I’d love to know:  What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Shopping Rush, Soymilk Ice Cream & Necklaces= Fantastic Friday!

Today I’m extra happy. I think I got a little rush from a super duper deal! Plus there are a few other random things from today that have made this a fantastic Friday.

I’m a part of several food allergy online support groups. Yesterday, the topic of Just Mayo, a vegan mayo, came up. We use Just Mayo and recently ran out. Our grocery store was out and we were stuck without any safe mayo.

Enter yesterday’s online discussion… A mom in one of the groups mentioned that Dollar Tree is starting to sell Just Mayo (are you ready?) for ONE DOLLAR! What?!?!

I called around and one of our two local Dollar Trees already has it in stock. I went today and purchased two 8 oz jars of Just Mayo for just $2 total. Ah-mazing!

Amazing Deal of the Week!

Amazing Deal of the Week!

I literally felt a rush when I bought these. Such a score!

Something else is making me happy… safe ice cream. I just devoured this:

Yummy & Safe for Me Treat

Yummy & Safe for Me Treat

Doesn’t it look too good to be true? I crushed up some mini Oreos, used SO Delicious vanilla soymilk ice cream, and Hershey’s chocolate syrup. (I’ve not tested the Hershey’s syrup but many of the moms in my online group have safely given it to their kids. I’ve just not worked up my courage to try it on her yet. That’s a whole ‘nother post- introducing new foods and the anxiety that comes with it!!!)

Our Choice for Soymilk Ice Cream

Our Choice for Soymilk Ice Cream

Anyway, this was my treat. And it made me happy.

The last thing I’m sharing today is my favorite online boutique, Sew Simply Chic. I’m sporting this beautiful handmade necklace today. I NEVER wear costume jewelry because of my nickel allergy. But this, friends, is only fabric and wooden beads. I’m in LOVE with these necklaces. Check out her online store. She also sells amazing scarves.

My Latest Obsession from Sew Simply Chic

My Latest Obsession from Sew Simply Chic

Isn’t this a pretty necklace? It’s such a fun print. It’s making me happy today.

Also, I’m having a dinner with one of my favorite friends tonight… Just the two of us WITHOUT kids. Yeah, I’m excited.

There you have it… my excitement and little happy thoughts for the day.

What has made you happy today?

Frugalista: Homemade Dry Shampoo

Y’all, I’m just so excited about this post today. I mostly write about faith, family, fertility and food allergies. But today you’re gonna learn something new about me… I’m also a frugalista! Yes, I have a stockpile. But that is not what I’m so fired up about today.

image

Dry shampoo. Do you use it? I do. And y’all, it’s SO expensive. I’ve used Alterna dry shampoo for over a year. I believe I pay $22 for it. Yes, honey, that’s spendy! But it’s worth it for the ease of not washing and styling my hair everyday.

Well, I’m kind of a pinning fool on Pinterest. I even have a board I named “Frugalista” for all of those make your own pins or how to do groceries on $30 a Week! pins. Yeah, y’all food allergy moms know we cannot survive on $30 a week. That buys us a few half gallons of dairy free milk and some dairy free yogurts. So, I economize in other areas. And my latest and greatest find is making my own dry shampoo.

The best part? You probably already have one of the just TWO ingredients needed in your pantry. I did. And really, the second ingredient is used for a fresh scent to your hair.  So the second ingredient is optional.

I also texted back and forth with my hairstylist Emily, to make sure I wasn’t going to ruin my hair. I have it colored to hide my tons of gray hairs and I surely didn’t want to ruin my every 6 weeks investment.

So here are the two ingredients… cornstarch and essential oils. That’s it! I already had the cornstarch and bought a little bottle of lavender essential oil for $9.79 at HyVee. The $9.79 seems a little steep for a half ounce of the essential oil, but when I realized I will only use 5 drops of it per batch, it seems like a steal!

Here’s how to make Homemade Dry Shampoo:

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of cornstarch
  • 5-10 drops of any essential oil you wish (Optional. I used lavender.)

Directions:

  1.  Mix 1/4 cup of cornstarch with 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil in a bowl.  I used 5 drops.  Mix well with a fork.
  2.  Spoon mixture into a labeled airtight container.

That’s it! Now here are a few ways to use the dry shampoo:
At first, I put my homemade dry shampoo back into the purple store bought container. This didn’t work because my dry shampoo wasn’t thin enough to pass through the little hole in the top.

I solved this by storing my dry shampoo in a plastic GLAD bowl. I use a $1 make up brush from Target and dab it in the dry shampoo and then target the oily zones in my hair. Gently rub in.

Here’s the key for us dark haired girls. Use a blow dryer and brush and blow out that dry shampoo! If you only brush your hair, there will be a few gray-ish spots. Trust me on this one. Thanks Emily for the blow drying tip!

One other way to use the dry shampoo is to put it on before bed. I tried this and it worked just as well. When I woke up, a teeny bit of dry shampoo was visible and a quick run through of the blow dryer was all I needed. This is perfect for hectic mornings. Take a quick shower the night before with a shower cap, toss some dry shampoo in your hair before bed, a quick blow dry in the morning (oh and make up for me) and the morning routine is over in a snap.

Another way to store and use the dry shampoo is to store it in an empty and cleaned spice jar and sprinkle it in your hair.

I like dabbing the exact areas I want with the make up brush. It seems to waste less dry shampoo.

image

image

image

There you have it. Dry shampoo on a budget. The entire 16 ounce cornstarch bottle cost me $1.69. The essential oil cost me $9.79. $11.48 all in. With a brand new cornstarch, I can make this dry shampoo 8 times. EIGHT TIMES! And I’ll still have tons of essential oil left. Considering the store bought dry shampoo (2.65 U.S. Oz. and $22) last me for approximately 6 months, this is an incredible cost savings!

I’ve only used it for about a week and I see no difference between the way the homemade dry shampoo and the store bought dry shampoo works.

This would make adorable gifts! Use a pretty glass jar and attach a brand new $1 make up brush and you have a thoughtful and very practical gift.

If you end up trying this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I already gave some of this dry shampoo to my mom and sister-in-law and made a second batch for myself. I asked my sister-in-law for her honest opinion and she said, “It’s fantastic!! I may never shower again! You can quote me on that.” Y’all know she’s just kidding about the shower part. She’s a clean lady! 🙂

(P.S. We just got back from a week in the South, and the y’alls are flowing out of me and I just can’t stop!!! And I don’t think I want to stop, y’all!)

*This dry shampoo was inspired from these two websites.

http://lightcleansimple.com/dry-shampoo-recipes-that-keep-hair-fresh-and-save-money/
http://smallhomebigstart.com/2013/02/dry-shampoo-for-light-hair-and-dark-hair.html (This site gave me the great idea to use a make up brush, which was perfect after my original idea didn’t work. She also suggested using a spice jar, which I reference above.)