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DIY Christmas Presents Anyone Would Love

15 DIY Gifts Anyone Would Love

I love making handmade gifts. They seem to project thoughtfulness a little more than a store bought something or other. I even opened a store full of mostly handmade items to share my creations with others. When I had kids and found they enjoyed crafting just as much as me, my heart became even fuller. We started making it a tradition to make handmade Christmas presents for our friends and family.

I wanted to share a few of our favorites. I have compiled a short list in case you wanted to try some. Enjoy!

  1. Do you have family members who love to hunt or know someone who could use a warm up while waiting at the bus stop? Try these handmade handwarmers by Rae Ann KellyDIY Handwarmers
  2. Mix up a batch of Peppermint Milk Bath from Tidy Mom to pamper someone special.Peppermint milk bath
  3. Download the cut files for these funny mugs from Happiness is Homemade for a handmade gift your Mom’s friends would be sure to love. Mugs.jpg
  4. Fill a pair of cozy slippers with goodies, such as nail polish, candy, or lip balm.slippers
  5. For a hostess who loves to cook, say thank you with a kitchen apron monogrammed with iron-on transfer letters. In keeping with the culinary theme, include some wooden utensils and a blank recipe book. You can personalize the book’s cover with a sticker printed with a customized stamp.Kitchen gifts
  6. Take a plain pillow from ho-hum to ho-ho-ho by simply wrapping it like a present. (Yes, it’s that simple.) Add a sprig of greenery or a festive ornament for an extra bit of flourish.festive pillows
  7. Rudolph Hot Cocoa Mix– Add a cocoa mug and you have a cute little kiddo gift! Tutorial at Mommy Musingsrudolph
  8. Sugar Cookie Sack- Add a mixing bowl, a wisk, a few Cookie cutters and you have a cute little gift basket! Get the Tutorial at Celebrate Creativity sugar cookie sack
  9. Bath Bombs- they’re also easy to customize based on what scent and color you think they’ll like best.- Tutorial at Inspired by Charm.bath bombs
  10. Fleece Blanket- With all the cold weather- this one will be loved by all- Get the tutorial at It’s always Autumn.blanket

  11. Peppermint Oreo Truffles-Peppermint + chocolate is forever our favorite holiday flavor combo. Get the recipe from Delish.truffles
  12. Gingerbread Fudge- Get the recipe from Delish.gingerbread frudge
  13. Pine Tree Christmas Candle- Get the Tutorial at Sugar and Charm.Pine Tree Candle
  14. Today’s Creative Life shows you how to make whipped body butter for a quick and easy handmade Christmas gift. Body Butter
  15.  Print out the 12 daytz of Christmas for an fun DIY gift for your husband or boyfriend that you guys can enjoy all year long! From Somewhat Simple. Daytz
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12 Days of Christmas Fun Activities

12 pic

Start a fun, simple and heartwarming Christmas tradition with your kids or grandkids. Every year I organize a fun 12 days of Christmas List for my kids. It is an exciting way for our family to spend time together each day and to celebrate the Holiday without breaking the bank.

Each year I come up with a fun way to present the activity calendar. Here are a few ways I have used in the past.

  1. I made a garland of paper stockings and wrote each day’s fun activity on the back. Each Evening the kids would flip over the stocking and find out that night’s evening of fun.
  2. One year I made cards and placed them inside envelopes. Each envelope was labeled with a number on it. Each night the kids had an envelope to open that revealed the surprise activity.
  3. Another year I purchased tiny gift bags and placed a card inside each one. Each night the kids would take turns opening a bag to see what fun thing we were going to do.
  4. Once I made an advent calendar so each night they opened a small door that lead to the listed activities.
  5. One year that I had a little more time and was a little more organized, I purchased medium sized gift bags (or recycled ones I had saved from previous Christmas gift wrappings), and placed the items needed for that nights activity along with a letter stating the nights activity and a short description of it.

However you choose to make your tradition one to remember for years to come, whether you use one of my previous ideas or come up with your own, enjoy yourself and the special time with your family!

I have included a few free printable links throughout!

I print or cut them out using card stock for durability.

Here are 12 of my favorite fun activities we have done!

  1. Name Snowflakes– The kids were really excited to see their names in the snowflakes. We had to do this one twice as the first time it did not work out! (Folding error) Here is step by step instructions.                                                 name snowflake
  2. Handmade Christmas Cards- Before sitting down with your store bought box of Christmas cards, have your kids/grandkids make a bunch of beautiful cards to send out. If you don’t send out cards, think about having them make them for the local nursing home, fire department or children’s hospital.
  3. Handmade gift tags– Make it a tradition, as we did, that your kids/grandkids hand make the gifts they hand out to friends and family. This gives them pride in their gift and it holds more meaning. What goes better with a handmade gift than a handmade gift tag! Free printable for the kids to start with.
  4. Handmade Christmas Tree Ornaments– We have done this one a few different ways. One year we purchased the plastic bulb ornaments from Walmart and decorated them. Another year they we given 10 mins to search the house for items that could be recycled. We used those items to make the ornaments.ornament
  5.  Indoor snowball fight– I made each one of my kids a “Santa Sack” filled with 12 snowballs each. Every year we spend one of our 12 fun activity nights throwing snowballs at each other. You don’t have to deal with the cold and slushy mess and the handmade balls are soft enough that they do not hurt or break things around the house. If you would like an Indoor snowball kit, you can let me know. I would be happy to have them at HandCrafted Prosperity again. 

Continue reading 12 Days of Christmas Fun Activities

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“FREE FUN” CHALLENGE

Tuscan AZ

If you are new to our blog, we would like to welcome you and thank you for reading with us. If you are returning, welcome back and thank you for continuing to read with us!

We are a family of 4 who live fulltime in our RV and travel around the country. Our children are homeschooled and loving the adventure. So far we have visited about 22 National Parks, National Monuments, and/or National Lakeshores. We started in Pennsylvania and have made our way to Arizona; weaving in and out of 18 states total to-date.

This week we spent in Tucson, AZ. We stayed on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management) near the Saguaro National Park.  Most of the time BLM land is free to camp at for up to 14 days! Free is always good in our eyes.

We met another fulltime family during our stay here. The family of 5 has been traveling fulltime for almost 2 years now. They have 3 kids around the same ages as our children so you can image how much fun they all had together!! You would have thought they had been friends for years! Even though they just met, they shared memories that will last a lifetime! It was nice to hear them all running around and playing all week. We were also able to share a few days of exploring with them. We went to the Saguaro National Park (an amazing place, if you get a chance to go, you won’t be disappointed!) as well as a few local events: which I’ll talk about a little later in my story. Unfortunately, the family had to move on and continue their travels, however we will forever stay in touch and our path will cross again soon. Meeting new people and families is one of the awesome experiences we get to have as we travel around and explore new parts of the country.  Learning about other cultures and how other families live in their RV is exciting to us.

To help make our stays more memorable we also like to find fun, free events we can take the kids to.  We don’t believe you need to spend a ton of money to have fun. We make it a challenge to see how little money we can spend but still make amazing memories and fill our days. Every place we have been to so far have had a ton of FREE things to do. We did a quick search for Tucson, AZ. and found a long list of Fall Festivals and Halloween events for families. We had to pick and choose which ones we wanted to do, as we did not have enough time to do them all. Because it was Halloween we wanted to spend at least one night celebrating the holiday. We met our new friends at a local church and took all the kids to the Trunk or treat event they were hosting. This was a lot more fun than we expected. We had never been to a trunk or treat event and the kids all had a blast! There were about 30 cars, all decked out for Halloween, parked around the parking lot. The kids enjoyed looking at all the decorated cars as they “trunk or treated” around. We had found at least 10 Halloween events close to us that we could have gone to but felt one night of getting candy and eating a ton of sugary snacks was enough. We did however go to a few Fall Festival events; the Tucson Village Farm Harvest Festival and the 3rd Annual Pumpkin Smash.  These were both fun, educational events to spend family time together and enjoy the local area.

Although our days are filled with fun and exciting memories, there are also sad memories too. During our stays, our eyes have been opened to the amount of homeless people there are in the US. I know we have only seen a small fraction of the total homeless population however it is still very sad to experience. There are so many different circumstances that caused the people to become homeless. Trying to wrap our heads around it and answer the kids’ questions is not an easy task to do. It is however an experience that will help us to become a more compassionate person and it made us even more thankful for the life and family we have.

Another sad thing we see is the amount of trash people leave, not only along the roadside but on the BLM land. If people continue to trash these areas they will not be here for people like us to enjoy in the future.  This is why we are not only learning about new ways we can help the homeless but we spend time cleaning up trash that others have left behind; keeping these places beautiful, available, and FREE for other families to enjoy for years to come.

“Life is only as good as your mindset; Do what you think you can’t do.”

Free List of Resources:

  1. https://www.blm.gov/

Bureau of Land Management website is a good place to search for BLM land in the area you want to stay. Remember most places are free for up to 14 days of stay. Most do not have any amenities.

  1. https://www.campendium.com/

Another good resource to find free places to camp. You can also find places that you can dump your tanks and fill up your fresh water for free.

  1. https://ibotta.com/r/sqeudqw

A free app or website you can subscribe to. Go shopping and scan your receipt, earn cash for shopping. I use this and earn cash on all my grocery shopping trips!

  1. https://national.macaronikid.com/

Free website we like to use to find events in the area we are in. You can also find fun ideas of things to do at home with kids.

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PROBLEMS

When choosing the life of fulltiming, problems do not just go away. Problems just come in different forms.

It is an inescapable fact of life that you can’t escape problems. For every action there is a reaction. Even when you are making the best choices, doing good things, other things happen as a result of those choices. Even the best of plans, nothing ever goes 100% as planned.

“You are doomed to make choices. This is life’s greatest paradox.” – Wayne Dyer

Realize that it’s your choices that create problems. Understanding that, it doesn’t mean that you are making bad choices. There will always be obstacles. Every undertaking brings obstacles. But worrying over these or complaining about what hassle they are is a complete waste of time and energy. Understanding that in every road life- problems comes with the territory. But no matter what, large or small – problems are simply something to deal with. After all, isn’t that what life is; A continual string of things to deal with. That’s the norm so what’s the problem?

Choose to love your problems. First, embrace the fact that there will always be problems; whether on the road or in a sticks and bricks house.  Problems are simply obstacles. In fact, that’s how you should view problems, as temporary obstacles. They are temporary because you will overcome them or at least get around them if you put forth the effort.

Therefore, if you approach your problems as opportunities to learn and grow, you can actually learn to love problems. That’s right, LOVE them! Why? Because problems are simple steps you take to climb to a higher level.  Every problem you defeat makes you stronger. It builds your “problem solving” muscles. The more you do this, the less any problem will rattle you and the better you will get at foreseeing a potential problem and will have better skills and knowledge to solve it.

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” – Wayne Dyer

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RV Remodel on the Road

Hello Everyone. Thank you for joining me for this week’s blog post

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are a fulltime RV family. This means we live in our RV fulltime. We travel the US visiting as many awesome places (like National Parks) in each state as we can; allowing us to live life the way we always wanted. This week we didn’t go to any National Parks. We spent the week doing another remodel to our 5th wheel. You might remember I have talked about how we renovated our RV before starting out on our journey. These changes accommodated our living needs as well as our shop needs (so we could continue to work while we travel). Well, as we have lived in our RV we have noted some things that would make life easier. We decided it was a good time to get some of the renovations completed.  We are currently boondocking at Saddle Mountain, near Phoenix, Arizona. (This is an amazing place on its own) We chose this spot to do the renovations because any supplies we needed are right at our fingertips in Phoenix. (The city has everything)

We started with a new kitchen table. Before we started our journey my husband had built a fold out table that could utilize the bar stools that were already in the RV when we purchased it. Although the table was beautiful, it was difficult to set-up and the kids didn’t like sitting on stools all the time, as they had no backs on them. Since we used the table for school work and for meal time, it was important to have them comfortable (less complaining we had to hear, hahahaha).  We decided to take a trip to Ikea and see what they had for choices. (Oh MY!!!) This was our first trip ever to Ikea. This store is HUGE!, so it’s a good thing we did a little research before we went. It helped give us an idea in our minds of what we wanted to look for. We eventually found a space saving table that had a leaf on each side. This allows plenty of room for the kids to spread out their school books and for all four of us to sit down and eat our meals together. Best part is when the table leaves are folded down the unit is only about 10” wide, so it is perfect for our small space! And it has 6 drawers in the center. Extra storage is always a plus. We also switched out the stools for folding chairs, which store nicely behind the table.

https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10290221/?query=NORDEN

The second renovation was the kids’ spaces. Our 5th wheel has a double loft. We thought this was great! We had a place for both kid’s beds and we didn’t have to worry about making the beds every night, like you do with the conversion beds. You know the ones that can be a couch but you fold them out into beds at night. (What a pain when you are full timing) However as time passed we realized the kids needed to have their own spaces, so they could have a little time away from each other when they wanted to. So our original build of the playroom/pantry/office has been converted into a new room for our 7yr. old son. Now he doesn’t have to climb a ladder to get to his bed, he has a space to “play” with all his toys and isn’t getting into his sister’s business (as she says) all the time. In the same room we built stairs which go up to the double loft; now converted into a larger space for our daughter. She no longer has to climb a ladder to get to her bed, she has space to put all her things and decorate as she wants, and she doesn’t have her brother “in her business” all the time. It has only been a few days since this renovation has been complete, but already we are noticing a difference in their attitudes and they absolutely LOVE their new spaces.

The last renovation we did this time was a new office space. Our 5th wheel model came with two bathrooms. As a lot of toy hauler RVs do. We originally removed everything from the bathroom and converted it into a closet for the kids to hang their cloths and store their toys. Well now that they have their new spaces, we changed this closet into our new office! It is cozy, but it is working out great! All our business paperwork is now contained in a room that is not out in the open. (Little fingers tend to stay off things that are not in their vision path)

Although all these renovations are amazing, you cannot take without giving up right? So in order to make our son’s room big enough to accommodate the stairs going to our daughter’s room, we had to make the workshop smaller. It is still large enough to accommodate or equipment and other supplies however it is pretty tight quarters for my husband to move around in.

We do have a few other renovation plans however we plan to save those for a later date.

Also because we were able to reuse some of the wood from our original renovations we spent less than $500 (the new table being the most expensive item we purchased) and made our life in an RV more like living in a tiny house!

“Life is only as good as you make it!”

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Destination USA

We have currently traveled to 14 states and have stopped at so many amazing places. We have chosen to stop at as many National Parks, National Monuments, National Lakeshores and National Historic Sites as possible. People ask us, “Which one has been your favorite so far?” I have spent a significant amount of time thinking about this question and my answer would be; each place has been so unique in its own way. There have been some places that are more spectacular than others however I have yet to not be in Aww at any of them. I make it a point to not research a place before I go there. Sometimes seeing pictures beforehand spoils it.

When we first started our trip we would stay at campgrounds however when we were preparing for our travels we made sure we were self-sufficient in our RV. This way we did not have to worry about always making it to a campground before we wanted to stop traveling for the day. Because we have two children, we don’t like to travel for more than 3-4 hours in a day. One time we came to an area were all the campgrounds were around $70 a night. We decided that was too much to pay since we had everything we needed in our RV and just needed a place to park for the night. We ended up going to a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) site and boon docked for the first time. You can stay at most of these sites for 14 days free. The sites do not have water, sewer or electric hookups, but we have all of that already. After we boon docked for the first time we found how easy it was and how much less money we would spend if we did not pay to stay at campgrounds. We have been boon docking on BLM sites ever since. We have a few apps that we use to search for BLM Land in the areas we plan to stay at. https://www.blm.gov/

We also purchased an America the Beautiful pass before starting our trip. (My husband researched things like this before we launched our travels.) America the Beautiful is a pass that you purchase for $80.  A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free. Each place typically has its own entrance fee, most being between $10- $35. We have already been to around 20, so the pass has paid for itself more than once. https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm

I also want to mention GyPSy Guide. GyPSy Guide is an audio tour for scenic road trips. They include stories, tips and directions that play automatically; all the benefits of a guided tour with the freedom to drive yourself. They do cost a small fee, usually under $5, however you can listen to them while driving through the parks and they tell you so much information about the park, things you would not learn unless you spent a significant amount of time at each visitor’s center. This is super educational for the kids but a little secret; I think I enjoy it just as much, if not more, than they do. https://gypsyguide.com/

We can go a week without needing to refill our water, we have a battery for electricity and we have our generator for recharging our battery and running the workshop equipment. We have been learning there are gas stations that have RV sewer dumps and fresh water fill-up stations. Some charge a small fee and some are free. I do a weekly menu for lunch and dinners and we grocery shop accordingly. I use Ibotta to find offers near me and earn money on the groceries I buy.  https://ibotta.com/r/sqeudqw

BLM sites are usually outside of town a bit but with a little planning you can spend one day doing all the domestic things and you have the rest of the time to do the fun stuff. We usually dedicate the mornings for getting work done (fulfilling orders) and completing school work. We do a lot of hiking and again visiting of National Parks. The kids usually spot any playgrounds in the towns we go to and love spending time at them. We do not typically eat out much or do all the touristy stuff, so our expenses are pretty low. We use a credit card that gives us cash back when used at gas stations, and since diesel fuel for the truck is our largest expense it also makes us a little money. Deisel fuel is a large expense however without it we wouldn’t fulfill our original goal, Destination USA!

“Don’t look back; you are not going that way!”

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Work Hard to Give it All Up!

How did it all get started??
Well I won’t go back too far and completely bore you with our life story; I’ll start about 6 yrs. ago.
My partner, of then 10 yrs., and I had a 4 yr. old and an almost 1 yr. old. We were finally confident enough in our financial situation, to buy a house. One more step closer to the “American Dream”, right? We figured we needed to be settled before our daughter started kindergarten. Moving around a lot most of my younger years, I didn’t want my daughter to have to constantly change schools like I did.
Things were going great, we moved into our house on our son’s first birthday. Both of us were working full time and making an OK salary. Things would soon turn upside down. After 6 months at our house, my partner lost his job; he had been there 4 yrs. so we never expected this to happen. We would then spend the next 9 months with one income. Most people would probably have spent the whole time nagging their partner to find another job; which I would have, except my partner didn’t waste the time he was given. He spent 12-16 hours or more, every single day learning everything he could about wood working and making wedding bands. He eventually felt confident enough in his work that he started selling them online. The first year we did so well, we decided to add a different style of ring. I eventually left my job and we lived solely on the income we made from the handmade rings. I started to refurbish and repurpose furniture. My sister and I would eventually open a small store with 80% of the store being handmade items.

If you put your mind to something and work really hard at it, you can accomplish amazing things! We have now been making wedding bands for 6yrs.  Most people would think we “had it made”. We had three businesses, a house; each one of us had a car… However we felt all we did was work. Every day was the same routine. We stepped back and looked at it all and asked ourselves, why? Why do we all work our butts off? To buy “things” we want? To have the big, fancy house? To have the newest, fancy car? None of those things seemed to be “worth” it. We are not ungrateful for the success we have had. We just didn’t feel like we were living. We didn’t feel like the material things were important to us. We wanted to work hard to live life and enjoy every day we were given on this earth. Kids grow up way too fast and we didn’t want to miss any of it. So we decided to “Give it all up”! (Well, most of it.)
In November of 2017, we decided we wanted to take our kids out and see the US. We wanted to be fulltime RVers. We bought a fifth wheel Toy Hauler and started the process of transforming the RV and downsizing at the house. We had to make the RV accommodate our living needs as well as the workshop. We converted the garage portion of the RV into the workshop so we could continue to make the rings while on the road. Because we decided not to sell the house, we didn’t have to get rid of all our stuff, however we did down size a great deal and I closed my store. When “purging” it became even clearer to us, we didn’t need most of the things we had anyway. We bought things just because we could. I mean come on, who needs every kitchen gadget ever made? (A bit of an exaggeration) but I did however have a ton of things in the kitchen that I never used.
In July of 2018, we started our journey as a fulltime RV family. We have now started our fourth month of traveling and most days, we enjoy everything about it. Our kids are enjoying homeschooling and like to be able to work at their own pace the most. We have visited 20 National Parks, Monuments and Lakeshores, in 14 states. We even thought it was time to make our life commitment to each other official and after 16 yrs. of being a couple, we got married in Los Vegas last month. “Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.”

In later posts I will highlight some of our favorite spots and share some pictures we have taken along our journey so far.