December 2013 archive

Simple Wooden Nativity Scene

| Crafts & DIY, For the Home

Easy to make wood nativity scene

Easy to make wood nativity scene

Simple Wooden Nativity Scene – This past weekend we finally pulled out our Christmas decorations and got our house looking festive. I always seem to forget all the amazing things we have until I see them coming out of the boxes.  One of our favorite decorations is a very simple nativity scene that my mom made a few years back. My Mom is very crafty and artistic… I’m sure that’s where I inherited all my creative genes from (no offense Dad).  My lovely and talented Mother has given me permission to share the details of this project with my readers – oh, and she wanted to mention that my Dad played a vital roll in the creation of these nativity scenes; he cut out all the wood pieces. This sweet and simple nativity scene is great for your home and makes a thoughtful and unique gift as well. It’s also simple enough that children could make these too.


    • 5/8″ cedar or pine wood
    • 1/8” plywood for the star
    • Band saw or jigsaw
    • Template for wood pieces to cut out – Get Nativity Scene Template here
    • Sand paper
    • Acrylic craft paint (use whatever colour you prefer – we used, dark green, brown, dark red, cream, pink – you can mix the red & cream, black and gold)
    • Paint brushes (mini roller and fine brushes)
    • Matt finish varnish


  1. Using the template, cut out shapes and then trace all the shapes (excluding the star) onto your cedar/pine and then cut out your pieces of wood using the saw.  Do the same with the star using the 1/8″ plywood.
  2. Sand all the edges of your wood until they are pretty smooth
  3. Starting with the people pieces, paint on the faces and shawls – just keep it a simple design (feel free to draw a little outline with a pencil on the wood first if that helps)
  4. Paint the star gold
  5. Paint the edges of the trees, arch and people using the mini roller
  6. When the paint has dried, glue the star onto the arch

Cover and seal everything with a coat of matte finish varnish

Looking for more Christmas related ideas & projects: Eco Friendly Christmas Ideas, Homemade Preserved Lemons, Printable Christmas Gift Tags, Oatmeal Honey Face Scrub, Reusable Crochet Face Scrubbies

~ Jamey

  1. DIY Wooden Nativity Scene

    DIY Wooden Nativity Scene


Eco Friendly Gift Giving Ideas

| My Life

Gift-Giving-IdeasEco Friendly Gift Giving Ideas – With Christmas quickly closing in on us, we’re in the gift giving frame of mind. It’s at this time of year that I reflect on what we’re giving and receiving. I’m trying to be a little more conscientious with my gift giving this year by giving gifts that create memories and experiences, not garbage. I wanted to share some ideas so you can help be a green giver this year.

Ideas for No Waste Christmas Gifts:

  • Create a one-of-a-kind online slide show from your photos ( is great for this) – my husband made one for my birthday (he made my show with PowerPoint) and I just love it and watch it often.
  • Give tickets to a sporting event, concert or festival
  • Plan a weekend getaway – skiing, surfing, fishing or wine tasting are some fun ideas
  • Give seasons passes to a local museum or attraction
  • Get old and/or damaged furniture and take it to be fixed, recovered or restored
  • Plant a fruit tree – the gift that will keep giving (you may have to hold off until warmer weather depending where you’re located)
  • Give the gift of fitness with a pass to a local recreation or fitness center
  • Spa gift certificates are always a hit – you could even turn it into a girls weekend
  • Give a subscription to Netflix
  • Give the gift of education with which offers access to thousands of easy-to-follow video tutorials on software, creative, and business skills. GC’s start at $25. I absolutely love by the way and they aren’t even paying me to say that.
  • Get bikes repaired and serviced
  • Give theater or movie tickets
  • Make coupons for free babysitting services along with a gift certificate to a great restaurant
  • Send your family or friends eBooks with the click of a button. Kobo and Amazon both gift eBooks
  • Plan a family bowling night and let the competition begin
  • Know someone who’s having some financial hardships? Most grocery stores sell gift cards now.  I’ve given this gift before and I know just how much it was appreciated.
  • Classes or lessons including: art, pottery, music, golf, language, dancing, cooking, auto repair, computer design, photography, etc.
  • Give a ready to eat meal that can be kept in the freezer until needed
  • Give a small savings bond, investment or educational savings plan
  • Finally, and I love this one, donate to a favorite charity or organization in the individual’s name you’re buying for. For example, there are fantastic organizations where your child can choose to donate goats, chickens, ducks, sheep and other animals for children and families in Africa. It’s always great for kids to learn the value of giving as well as receiving.

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Homemade Preserved Lemons

| Cooking, Crafts & DIY

Preserved Lemons make great gifts.

Preserved lemons make a great gift.

Homemade Preserved Lemons – Every year, I try to make a number of homemade Christmas gifts for my family and friends and over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a number of DIY gift ideas on my blog.  To my family and friends, avert your eyes, forget you saw any of these photos and back away from your computer.

As you’ve probably already noticed, I really enjoy cooking.  I am particularly drawn to really flavorful dishes (my chicken noodle soup recipe is a great example). I love adding sauces, flavored vinegars, fresh herbs and spices, etc to my food to enhance the taste.  This year I’ve decided to make lemon preserve, a traditional North African staple that often goes with food like Moroccan chicken, festive salads or tagines (a stew like dish that’s named after the pot it’s cooked in). Preserved lemons are also great in grain salads, salad dressings, sauces, salsa, dips and pasta. These preserved lemons are bursting with rich flavor and are also beautiful to look at in the jar. I’m also including free printable gift tags here to go with the jars as well as printable recipe ideas here.


  • Lemons (organic if possible):  2-3 lemons for a small jar, 3-4 lemons for a medium jar and 5-6 lemons for a large jar + a couple extra for any extra lemon juice you need to fill the jar
  • Sea or Kosher salt: 1 tbsp + 1 tsp for each lemon
  • Cinnamon stick: 1 for each jar (broken in half for the smaller jars)
  • Coriander seeds: 8-10 seeds for a small jar, 14-16 seeds for a medium jar and 20-24 seeds for a large jar
  • Black peppercorns: 3-4 peppercorns for small jar, 6-8 peppercorns for medium jar and 10-12 for a large jar
  • Cloves: 3-4 cloves for small jar, 6-8 cloves for medium jar and 8-10 cloves for a large jar
  • Bay leaf: 1 leaf for a small jar, 2 leaves for a medium jar and 2 leaves for a large jar


    • Sharp knife and cutting board
    • Sterile mason jars (I used a variety of sizes but the medium or larger jars are easier to work with)


  1. Scrub lemons clean and then dry them off completely.
  2. Cut off the little nub on the ends of the lemon and then ¼ the lemons to within ½” of the bottom (so it makes an X shape), making sure that the lemon pieces remain connected.
  3. Take your jar and add 1 tbsp of salt to the bottom of the jar.
  4. Pull your lemon open and pack about 1 tsp of salt into the lemon and then push the salted lemon into the bottom of the jar, squishing it down as much as possible. Add a few coriander seeds, peppercorns and cloves (I like them along the side of the jar so you can see them). Add a bay leaf and cinnamon stick (on the side it possible). Repeat this until your jar is pretty much full (feel free to cut the last few pieces of lemon into individual separated 1/4’s so that you can stuff the jar as full as possible).
  5. If your lemons aren’t completely covered with juice, add a little extra fresh squeezed juice until everything is covered in liquid. Throw in a last sprinkling of salt over the top.
  6. Seal the jar and let sit (in a cool or refrigerated spot if possible) for at least 1 month (if this is a Christmas gift, feel free to put a note with the jar that says: “not to be opened before day/month/year” – see photos below).
Preserved lemons

Learn how to make these tasty and beautiful jars of preserved lemons.


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