The perfect girlfriend gift- bar soap!

I started doing this recently.  Actually,  I was out of ideas for gifts for women friends.  For years, there was a deluge of “Bath and Body works” products– liquid soap, hand sanitizers (is this really a gift? Come on! It reeks of germs!), and buckets of body lotion.  And scented candles are great, but some folks who live alone and fear house fires don’t really appreciate these.  They give them away to other friends as soon as they receive them.  Then I hit on the idea of bar soap.  It is one of those gifts I don’t buy for myself, but love buying for friends.  Besides the usual places you would buy them, also check in organic grocery stores.  And they don’t clog up landfills like empty liquid bath soap bottles.

Spanish Sands excerpt (Amazon ebook)

Andy surveyed the beach to see the distance to the Holiday Inn.  It appeared about fifty yards away from where he originally entered the water.  Now they
walked through the surging surf and sand and little brown fish tumbled around their knees.
“You’re safe now.  Are you with a group?”
Lucia pointed to a cluster of red blankets, a rental umbrella, and ice chest.  Two other young women in bikinis were spread out, tanning, and motionless.
“Those your buddies?”
“Doesn’t seem that you were missed.”  Andy felt disgusted.  How could you not watch out for your friends?
Lucia picked up her pace upon nearing the blankets.
“Patricia, Helen!  Why didn’t you come save me?”
Andy looked over the spot.  Empty plastic drink containers with straws were propped in the sand next to each woman.  They rolled over and looked at her stupidly.
“You were asleep, weren’t you?”  She looked at them indignantly.
“I just drank a coupla beers,” the one in the orange bikini said.”
“Yeah,” the other girl parroted her.  “I just had a couple of beers, too.”
Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, Andy thought.  I could already have been home eating lunch with my dad now.  I could be doing a whole lot of other things too.
“I hate to leave you pretty ladies, but I have to find my shoes that I tossed on the beach half an hour ago.”
Disgusted, he turned to leave.
“Wait!”  Lucia reached out to touch his back.  “I didn’t thank you!”  Her eyes were a startling blue color.
Andy turned to look at her.  She bore such a damned pretty look he almost forgot their situation–almost.  He never could bear stupidity well.

kickstarting an old hobby I had in the Eighties

for years I always said “when I retire I’ll have lots of time to make hand crafted presents.”

That time came in 2007. I decided I would take up my abandoned Eighties hobby, counted cross-stitching. I have to say some things have changed since then! I still had all the supplies—pattern books, embroidery thread, needles, and scissors. Some of my material had developed severe stains and fold marks, so it had to be tossed. I went on a quest to buy new 14 count material.

Years ago (when the hobby was booming) we had three or four hobby shops in town that sold everything you wanted, including lessons. They were gone, and all that was left was the big box store. They had very little to choose from and the nearest big city hobby shops were 54 miles away. Thank heavens for Amazon and Ebay! Ebay has thousands of pattern books and some sellers even will email you patterns in a PDF file upon payment. Besides these two giants, you can search Etsy and Pinterest for ideas and free or low-cost patterns. These places even have stitchers who will create custom-made designs for you. Isn’t the Internet wonderful! I visited my local library, and they had a surprisingly large collection of pattern books and a handy copier close by where you could copy a pattern and thread color chart for a quarter.

Back in the day I used frame shops to custom mat my creations. Nowadays I haunt local thrift shops for donated frames. You wouldn’t believe the beautiful frames I’ve purchased for fifty cents to two dollars.
When I was younger, I made the patterns exactly as they were written. Now, I find that with my skills, I “fit” the patterns to the frames beforehand and stitch extra borders to compensate for the expensive matting I used to pay for. My gifts have gotten a lot of compliments and sometimes friends even think I have purchased them at a gift shop!

Making homemade things is a great way to save money and impress your friends!