Weekend Links

Guess who learned how to blow raspberries?

No-Sew, No-Knit Homemade Gift Ideas (updated for 2011)

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck. It originally appeared in November 2010 and has been updated for 2011.

Last year, I wrote about homemade gift ideas and shared with you what I was working on Christmas 2010.  Since I”m a knitter and I dabble at sewing, many of the gifts on that list were related to those skills.

I got a request for ideas that don”t involve knitting or sewing and I thought that would be a helpful idea for a post.  So, here you go: a round- up of homemade gifts ideas that don”t involve any sewing or knitting – updated for 2011.

Handmade Gift Ideas: The No-Sew, No-Knit Version

I have been going through my bookmarks, my Pinterest boards, as well as some of my favorites from this year”s Weekend Links posts, and have pulled together a list of no-sew, no-knit gift ideas for kids. (Note: I have not personally tried all of these).


This year our family has been doing some woodworking and my oldest two kids are helping their Dad make a set of blocks for our youngest.  The blocks we are making are simple rectangles and squares that the kids are measuring and cutting (with help from Mom &  Dad).  Max and Jillian are sanding the blocks smooth and we will give them a light beeswax polish finish before giving them to Lucy.

2011 notes:  these were a big hit and have turned out to be a terrific present idea that we can add to.  This year Jillian and her dad have been busy in the woodshop and we”ve got a few more blocks, including some arches and longer pieces, to put in Lucy”s stocking this year.

Tree blocks (blocks with the tree bark intact) are also a favorite of ours and I found a tutorial for making them here at Counting Coconuts.

Other Wooden Gift Ideas:


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Eight Lessons from Hanukkah for All of Us

The following was written by contributor Robin Zipporah of The Not-Ever-Still Life. It originally appeared in November of 2010.

When Hanukkah begins this Wednesday night I’ll light the brightly-colored candles with my family, sing the ancient blessings and traditional songs, and delight in my kids’ enjoyment of the holiday. And then I’ll wash dishes or pay bills or fold laundry, I’ll tuck my little ones into sleep, and I’ll prepare for work on Thursday.

In terms of religious significance Hanukkah is actually a minor festival. We make time in our schedules to remember a long-ago miracle but we move about our regular days. It’s a little sparkle at the beginning of winter. Its significance is conflated because of its proximity to Christmas, but really, they’re not in the same league.

Still, I think there’s something in Hanukkah for everybody:

1. Let your light shine out.

The two-sentence version of the Hanukkah story is that when the Eternal Flame in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was extinguished, only enough oil to relight it for one day could be found. God made the day’s oil ration burn for eight days, the time it took for messengers to travel and return with more rations. Jews light the Hanukkah candles to remember the miracle of the oil, and they light them in their windows and doorways to publicize the miracle. What gifts can you share with your neighbors?

2. Develop the long view.

We’re commemorating a story that occurred over 2000 years ago. It still matters. Can you imagine what impact your actions will have in 2000 years? How can we add relevance to our everyday lives?

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10 Great Gifts for Kids Under $25

The following is by editor Kara Fleck.

Unless you”re one of the lucky few who is already done with their holiday shopping (and, yes, I do know a few folks who claim to be finished) then you are currently looking over your list and checking it twice.

Here are a few gift ideas for kids to get you started, all under $25.


First on my list because I believe that books are a can”t miss gift.  Books are great to give kids young and old, boys and girls alike.

A few of our current favorites:

You could combine a gift of the book Strega Nona with this adorable wooden Strega Nona and her magic pasta pot from etsy seller Crunchy Family Rising and you”d have a lovely gift for just under $25.

Check out our Books & Music category for more ideas.

2. A Hippopotamus for Christmas

Photo by Happy Bungalow
Speaking of etsy, I have recently been introduced to the Happy Bungalow shop.  Don handcrafts wonderful items from wood.  Does your child want a hippopotamus for Christmas?  This adorable stocking stuffer is extra special because Happy Bungalow will donate 40% of all its handmade hippo sales between now and December 31st to Heifer International and Cincinnati charity The Neediest Kids of All.  Be sure to check out the wooden chickens, giraffes, and the doll house furniture, too.

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Weekend Links: Home for the Holidays Winners

It has been a wonderful week.  Thank you so much for joining in during our Home for the Holidays fun and conversation.  A huge thank you also goes out to the generous sponsors who helped make this week possible.

I”m happy to announce that the winners of the giveaways are:

Barley & Birch $100 Gift Certificate

Diana, who said “I have a little boy who would look pretty cute in these clothes, I think! I love seeing some unique kids clothes, instead of all the “licensed characters” these days.”

Initials, inc $100 Gift Certificate

Rachel, whose comment was, “I incessantly misplace my cell phone. Perhaps there is a small bag I could keep my cell in? Or maybe the tote would work and I”d designate a certain pocket for the cell phone. At any rate, I need help!”

Strider Monkeys Bike Gift Package

Myrtle, whose favorite bike riding memory was “I remember when I was young riding bikes with my friends “the twins”. We”d head to the nearby park and either ride down the hill as fast as we could, or play demolition derby in the unused wading pool!”

Congratulations!  Check your email soon for a message from me about how to claim your prizes.

Giveaway Sponsors (and coupon codes)

A huge thank you to all 15 giveaway sponsors this year! We love these companies, so keep them in mind for your holiday shopping:

Barley and Birch: 20% off your entire purchase with the code SLM20.


Edgeware: 10% off all items with the code HOLIDAY11.

Epiphanie Bags

Hearthsong: $1.99 shipping on orders $50 with the code HSPR199, valid through December 15, 2011.

I Heart Maps: 15% off with the code SIMPLE15, valid through December 11, 2011.

Imagine Childhood: 10% off with the code SHS10, valid through December 5, 2011.



Mineral Fusion: Click here for a $3.00 off coupon, valid through December 31, 2011.

My Initials, Inc: Free U.S. shipping on orders of $50 or more—email Angela at personlizeme [at] live [dot] com and mention Simple Living Media. Valid through December 10, 2011.

Sarah’s Silks: Use the code FAMILY to receive a free mini-star playsilk with your order.

Shenzhen Knives: Get a free peeler with the purchase of a chef’s knife with code FREEPEEL3, valid through December 31, 2011.

Strider Monkeys: $10 off a Nutcase helmet with the purchase of a bike—mention Simple Kids in the checkout comments. You’ll need to request an electronic catalog in the comments to see all the helmets.