Monday, November 23, 2009

Southern Nevada Water Authortiy - Landscaping Helps

Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) offers tips and resources to help you keep your landscape lush and water efficient. Here are some helpful links.
A few years ago my husband and I took advantage of the Rebat Program and removed all our grass. Here is a picture of the project halfway done...

Here's the completed project.

No pictures of grass, since it was brown and dead when we started the project. The money that we received paid for almost all of our landscaping. We did all the work ourselves, so that helped with our budget. Remember BEFORE you start removing your grass, SNWA must come out to take measurements of your grass area.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Master Gardeners of Southern Nevada

I have been to several classes presented by the Master Gardeners of Southern Nevada. They are amazing people and have such a wealth of knowledge. There are 3 ways to contact them for ANY gardening questions you might have.

Call 257-5555 for free information and publications about your home gardening needs.



For information about the Master Gardener Training Program call 257-5501

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas Websites and Articles

Here are some great articles and websites that have great resources for all things Christmas!



If you know of any others let me know!

Handmade Bows

My 1st attempt :)

We had a wonderful girl come to our "Super Saturday" craft day and teach us how to make bows. I'm not very good at it, but I know there are lots of you out there that could excel in this art. So here are some additional sources for handmade bows.

  • How to Make a Perfect Floral Bow
  • How to Make a Loop Bow
  • Making Layered Bows
  • Basic 5 Loop Gift Bow (video)
  • 2 Toned Double Gift Bows (video)
  • Bows for Tall Lanterns/Shepard Crooks/Church Pews/etc. (video)
  • Corkscrew or Korker Bows (Hair Ribbons)
  • Gifts from the Heart

    A bell is no bell till you ring it,
    A song is no song till you sing it,
    And love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay—
    Love isn’t love till you give it away

    from The Sound of Music

    1. Make a Joy kit. Put together a basket, box or bag full of feel-good items: bubble bath, nail polish, a funny photo, microwave popcorn, a stash of candy, anything to give the recipient a pick-me-up.

    2. Give a Nostalgic Family Gift. A wonderful childhood Christmas memory for me and my siblings was reading a book called "Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book". One year, I went online and found beautiful hardcover copies (gently used, like new) for only a few dollars each. This was a great nostalgic gift for family members. Another idea is to duplicate a nostalgic decoration you and your siblings enjoyed growing up. We had a large felt Christmas calendar that we loved. This year, I am making duplicates for siblings.

    3. Make a homemade ornament. This one is from Mormonchic and is made from felt (you can also use flannel).

    4. Dinner and the Nativity - Invite another family to your home for dinner, then go together to see a free live nativity/Christmas program. Or, do dinner and then a family home evening that explains to the children about the symbolism of Christmas ornaments, i.e., candy canes = shepherd's crook. Likewise, invite the missionaries to your home and give them the gift of Christmas Day dinner. We did this a few years ago, and love that memory. They shared a special message with us, which helped us remember the true meaning of Christmas.

    5. Bandages for the Soul - revamp a band-aid box or tin with bandage shaped cut-outs with uplifting sayings or quotes on them. Stephanie made a super cute Band aid box template that you can download the word format or the pdf format. Here are here instructions. I just used two 8 1/2" x 11" regular, white card stock papers and then cut and folded the box to about 2"D x 4"H x 4"W (taking into consideration, the flaps that would overlap and glue together). The first page works as the front of the box, leaving a lot of room for the top closing flap of the box and the second page is the back.I literally used a regular store-bought, paper Band-Aid box as my guide, cut the flaps and glued the sides and bottom together.
    6. Tree Decorations - Have a "winter craft day" with your family and make homemade Christmas tree decorations. There are books you can check out from the library that are full of ideas! Wrap them and give them as a gift to a newly married couple, or anyone else who may not own many decorations yet.

    7. Make Homemade Sachets - My 4 year old made these using locally grown lavender and rosemary. Fill a small pouch with dried lavender and rosemary. Tie it off with a sprig of lavender for a special touch.

    8. Sewn Gifts - If you enjoy sewing, consider making an apron for a friend, a nursing cover for a young mother, a pair of hot pot holders for someone who may be leaving home soon, a simple drawstring purse for a young girl, etc. Here are some links for some easy sewn gifts.

    9. Dog Treat Jar - A super cute and easy idea from

    10. Popcorn Balls with Love Notes - One year, our family opened a box from our grandmother. It was full of homemade caramel popcorn balls. There was one for each of us, with a hand-written love note from her attached. We love that memory! And I later did this for my niece/nephews.

    11. Gifts in a Jar. Recipes that can be used are cookies, brownies, soups, and holiday drinks or just some homemade jams and jellies. Jars are great because they're reusable. Bags are great for mailing.

    12. Homemade "Bread of the Month" Club - give someone a loaf of bread with a promise that they will get a fresh baked loaf of bread each month from you for the next year.

    13. Family Recipe Books - Talk to parents and siblings about the meals/dishes that were memorable growing up. Gather recipes, compile into a file, and print. The pages can then be put in plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder, or spiral bound at a store with a clear front and back
      This one is from my mom, she also included pictures and stories about mealtimes or family members who supplied the recipes.

    14. Books on CD - Record Grandma (or mom, dad, etc) reading yours or your child's favorite stories. Create a CD of these stores so grandma give this as a gift to her grandchildren!

    15. Journal of a Loved One - Type up the journal of a family member that has past away and give either electronic or printed and spiral bound copies to family members.

    16. Create a Brag Book - Using a couple sheets of scrapbook paper, create a special book with photos for mom, dad, grandma, etc.

    17. Chocolate Dipped Caramel Pretzels - Make some homemade edible treats!

    18. Homemade Journal - Made simply with a regular composition notebook, decorative paper and mod podge, and any other embellishments. You can see the plain notebook on the right and the two different embellished ones on the left.
      Include this quote in the front cover from Spencer W. Kimball on keeping a journal.

      The Value of Keeping a Journal

      "People often use the excuse that their lives are uneventful and nobody would be interested in what they have done. But I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us—and as our posterity read of our life's experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted."

      -President Spencer W. Kimball

    19. If the journal is for a grade school child, include a Journal Jar filled with prompts for to get them started with their journaling. Here are some child's journal prompts and some adult journal prompts from Organized Christmas.

    20. Memory Quilt - The one doesn't apply to everyone, but after my (Robyn) mom passed away, my sister and I took all of her clothes and made patchwork quilts for all of our siblings and dad out of the material. That way when they were sick or sad, they could wrap up in our mom's love, so to speak.

    21. Calendar - This can be done a couple of ways. You can use Walmart or photo stores with pictures of family and all the family birthdays and anniversaries added in (a great gift for grandparents). You can also add in a scripture/inspirational thought to each month.Or have your child used a blank calendar that you can get from a craft store and then they fill in the numbers and provided the artwork for each month as a gift to mom or dad. You could just as easily make one at home with your computer and some card stock.

    22. Memory jars and Books - These are fun and easy ways to create a memorable Christmas gift.

      Stephanie did this for her parents' 30th wedding anniversary, but it could just as easily be done for Christmas - compile little blurbs and memories from family members concerning the individual or couple. Use word processing program to type up in a fun font. Can include family pictures, clipart or other quotes about family. Then print and bind pages at a copy store. Depending on the size, it can be done for as little as $10 or so with a laminated cover and plastic spiral binding at Fed/Ex Kinkos. Or you can print out copies and put them in a 3 ring binder for a couple dollars.

      Or you can get an inexpensive jar and fill it with strip of paper handwritten with memories of the one receiving the gift.

    23. Christmas Stories (Print out a few, or several, inspirational Christmas stories on beautiful paper and give as a gift. My mother did this for her children one year, and we love pulling them out at Christmastime and reading them with our own little family

    24. Crayon Roll - This would be a great gift for a budding artist. My daughter loves hers and takes it everywhere. It's especially useful at restaurants to keep her busy while we wait for dinner. Skip to My Lou has an awesome free tutorial for making your own crayon roll.

    25. Handmade Cards - use your child's artwork (or your own) to make any occasion note cards for your loved ones. Here are some instructions from Family Fun.

      Or you can just frame the artwork. I've had this artwork (frame above the cards) for about 10 years now. My boys made it using "Spinner Art" and I just framed 4 of their creations with an inexpensive frame.

    26. Old Family Pictures - Scan old family pictures (pre digital cameras) into the computer and put them on a disk for family members. Consider doing this yearly. Year one would be all the pictures of a sibling or other family member from birth to age one. Year two would be all the pictures from age one to age two, etc.

    27. Silhouettes - A great and inexpensive gift for parents/grandparents, or a gift that an extended family member can help children make to give to their own parents. Instructions: Tape a large piece of paper to the wall. Have the child stand or sit sideways next to the paper. Darken the room and shine the flashlight on them so their profile is shadowed on the paper. Trace the shadow. Cut out the profile and mount it on contrasting piece of paper. This looks great with the profile cut out of black paper and mounted on white paper or vice versa. Place finished silhouette in a frame and wrap.

    28. Personal History - Start your personal history this year. Print out the pages that you've started and put it in a 3 ring binder. This way you can add to it every year and family members can insert the new pages into the 3 ring binder. ScrapJazz has a some great Family History Journal Prompts on her website.

    29. "Mom Share Your Life with Me" - This is a great book to record your history. Each day has a question for you to answer. Do this from January 1st and then give your finished project as a gift. Consider using a word processer (such as word or wordperfect) to record your answers, this way you can print more than one copy. This book is also available for Dad, grandparents, etc.

    30. Hand lettered Tiles or Wood - These hand lettered tiles are very inexpensive to make and had a personal touch to your home. You can also make coasters from small tiles from Lowes. Skip to My Lou has a tutorial here.

      Thank you to Amy, Anjalique, Holly, Lisa, Rachelle, Robyn, Stephanie & Tonya for all the wonderful ideas!

    Monday, November 16, 2009

    Handmade Envelopes

    Super Cute Handmade Envelope!

    Thanks to Jessica for sharing this great idea! Using envelope templates and magazines you can make your own cute envelopes.

    Go through old magazines and tear out any pages that have some graphic designs or great pictures.

    Get your templates and/or envelopes. If I have a great shaped envelope I'll unfold it and save it to use as a template. Templates are available for download at these different websites.

  • Envelope for Gift Card
  • Envelope for Greeting Cards
  • Basic Envelope Template

  • Next, cut out your magazine pages using the templates. Here are mine.

    Fold & tape the envelopes. When addressing them, use a white label so that the address can be clearly seen.
    How fun would it be to receive one of these in the mail? The plate of cookies would be great for Christmas and the dragons head or jelly beans would make a great birthday envelope.

    Sunday, November 15, 2009

    Gifts of Service

    Ralph Waldo Emerson seemed to acquire a new depth of meaning: “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
    (Essays: The Poet)

    1. Create a coupon book for Mothers, Fathers or even for the kids. Here is a very cute book courtesy of Martha Stewart.

    2. Homemade Christmas by Gene R. Cook has many great ideas for Gift Certificates/Coupon Books for neighbors and family members.

    3. Give the gift of time to your children. Tinsel or Gold? by Tracy Hogan Barrand from the December 1995 Ensign says "There are few gifts we can give to our children that mean more to them than our own time freely offered, sometimes at personal sacrifice. 'You are really important' is the message that such acts convey." I highly recommend reading this article!

    4. Make a Service Jar. Feel the Christmas Spirit all year round as you do acts of service during the year. Download the Service Jar Template here.
    5. Give the gift of your time by doing Geneology work for your family.

    6. Give the gift of yourself to your family and loved ones. Spend the day doing kind things for your parents and siblings. You could make breakfast, help wrap and deliver presents, or clean up after dinner.

    7. Give your parents a break. Spend some time looking after your younger brothers and sisters during the Christmas holiday.

    8. Volunteer at a local food bank or shelter, or help with some other worthy cause.
      Visit someone who is sick or elderly. Ask him or her to tell you about a past Christmas.

    9. Express your love and gratitude for the Savior in your prayers.

    10. Christmas is a time for peace. Try to resolve differences with someone you don’t get along with very well.

    11. You can also encourage peace by not quarreling with your siblings. Try to treat your family as well as you possibly can.

    12. Write a letter to your parents thanking them for the things they have done for you.

    13. Write letters to full-time missionaries from your ward or branch to encourage them and to let them know you remember them in your prayers.

    14. Make your brother’s or sister’s bed without letting anyone know who did it.

    15. Baby-sit for free so parents can enjoy an outing to a Christmas concert, attend the temple, or spend time together.

    16. Read the Christmas story to a younger brother or sister, and teach them about the Savior (see Luke 2).

    17. If you’ve saved some money by giving free gifts this Christmas, you can pay a generous fast offering next month.

    Many of these ideas are taken from Idea List: Priceless Gifts from the December 2002 Liahona

    Our Most Popular Links

    Here are our most popular links on our Self-Reliance Blog!

    72 Hours Kits

    Homemade Laundry Soap

    Frugal Reading

    Price Matching

    Articles on Food Storage & Self-Reliance

    LDS Cannery

    Christmas with Spirit

    Where do I Store my Food Storage? (video)

    Mexican Pinto Beans and Homemade Tortillas (video)

    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    Gifts with Spirit

    Give a years subscription to the Ensign, New Era or the Friend!

    “As we seek Christ, as we find Him, as we follow Him, we shall have the Christmas spirit. … We shall learn to forget ourselves. We shall turn our thoughts to the greater benefit of others.”

    President Thomas S. Monson, “In Search of the Christmas Spirit,”
    Ensign, Dec. 1987, 5.

    1. Give an inexpensive Book of Mormon with these instructions.
      Use a red pencil or pen:

      check mark in the margin beside names and titles of Christ including pronouns and clear symbolic reference of Him

      underline direct quotes, His words as quoted by prophets

      circle his characteristics and attributes

      This is taken from Preach My Gospel (Chapter 5, page 12). You can see how red your Book of Mormon will get! This testifies to me of how much the Book of Mormon is truly Another Testament of Jesus Christ. There are over 2,000 references to Jesus Christ is just 1st and 2nd Nephi alone.

    2. Advent Calendar. Starting December 13th, use Prophecies of Christ’s Coming in the December 2008 New Era to prepare for Christmas now by remembering how others prepared for Him then. There is a prophecy as well as a activity for your family to do each day from December 13th to December 24th

    3. Give the gift of FHE A simple 3 ring binder can be filled with talks from on things that a particular family needs.

      Or create an easy "FHE in a Jar" I bought an inexpensive container from the DI (cost $1.00) and filled it with FHE strips. The download is available from Mormon Just print (in color or black & white), cut out the strip and place them in a jar, envelope or even a Ziploc bag. Each strip contains a song, scripture and topic to discuss that evening.
    4. Gratitude Journal - Create a gratitude journal for someone on your Christmas list. On the inside cover you can print the words to the song "Because I Have Been Given Much" Hymn 219. There are a couple great articles by President Thomas S. Monson on Gratitude, "An Attitude of Gratitude" and "Finding Joy in the Journey", that could also be included in the gratitude journal.

    5. Make someones family tree. You can either create a handcrafted work or art or promise to give a few hours each week doing genealogy work for your family.
      The sample on the left uses an inexpensive sheet of scrapbooking paper (this one was at Michaels). Using a black pen, fill in their family information. Print out black and white pictures and attach them to the scrapbook paper. Mount of a piece of wood or frame it in a 12x12 frame.

      Another idea to create a Hand-Lettered Family Tree. Details are found at Martha

    6. Generations Portraits - Frame the high school graduation (or close to it) portraits of the recipient, mother and grandmother, or recipient, father and grandfather.

    7. Instead of asking for tangible gifts, request for your family to spend a day at the Temple. What better way to feel of the spirit that to be in the House of the Lord

    8. Make a handmade Savings/Tithing/Spending bank for a future missionary on your list.
    9. Make a church quite book filled with family pictures, pictures of Christ, pictures of the prophets, Bible stories or Mormonads. Mormon Chic has a very cute Quiet Book to download.

    10. Read Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright this holiday season. Start your own Christmas Jar and use only the change you've collected to buy your holiday gifts. Or give the jar to a needy family this year.

    11. Start a Good Turn Diary. Fill each page with a good deed you've done this year, big or small it doesn't matter. Give this diary filled with your good deeds as a gift this year. This idea was taken from Christmas and the Good Turn Diary by James E. Faust. Here is an excerpt from the book.

      "Christmas was tough one year for the Card family because of the Depression, but somehow their parents managed to scrape up a few things for the children's stockings--a comb, a pair of socks, some colorful hard-tack candy. As the eight siblings were reveling in the feelings of love and excitement in the room, their father opened a small, plainly wrapped gift. Inside was a Boy Scout diary kept by one of his sons, Brigham, in 1933, with the initials 'GT' (standing for 'good turn') printed on each day's page. The evidence of his son's faithful, consistent service throughout the year meant more to the father than anything he could have received."

      "This lovely Christmas booklet by President James E. Faust recounts the tender true story of that unusual gift and reminds us of the joy of serving at Christmastime and always."

    12. Good Turn template can be downloaded here.

    13. Read The Last Straw over Thanksgiving weekend. Have family members draw names each night during Family Home Evening to find our who their secret person will be that week. During the week do special good deeds for your secret person. For each good deed you do put a piece of straw in the manger to make a soft bed for baby Jesus. The goal is to have all the pieces of straw in the manger by December 24th!

    14. Give pretty little gift boxes that say

      "To the _______ Family. The Greatest Gift of All"

      Inside the box reads

      "From Jesus Christ—The Gift of Eternal Life."
      The LDS article pictured above is called "The Gift Box" and is from the December 2008 New Era.

    15. Start a Mission Fund for your Parents. Here is a sweet letter and article from the Ensign entitled "The Gift That Took Our Breath Away" from the December 2006 Issue