The Best Homemade Gift Ideas Monthly Digest: free-gift-ideas-newsletter-February2009.html

by: Brenda Mullard

Table of Contents:

1. Love Is In The Air!

2. Did You Know?

3. Welcome New Subscribers

4. What's new?

5.Crafter/Artist Interview of the Month

6. Reader Recipes

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Jim Dine

1) Love Is In The Air! Ahhh... tis the season for love. Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday to make a homemade gift.

2) Did You Know? Did you know that almost 188 million Valentine’s Day Cards are exchanged annually? Teachers receive the most Valentine's Day cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, and then, sweethearts. Children between ages 6 to 10 exchange more than 650 million Valentine's cards with teachers, classmates, and family members.

More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine's Day. American men say they’d prefer to receive boxed chocolate as a Valentine’s Day present followed by gourmet, high-end chocolates then conversation heart candies.

On average, men shell out $130 each on candy, cards, jewelry, flowers and dates. That’s more than double what women commit to spending.

At least 10 new conversation heart sayings are introduced each year. I still like the old stand byes. Be Mine.... Love U.....

3.Welcome New Subscribers

A big welcome goes out to all of my new subscribers! This website wouldn't be worth creating if it weren't for my wonderful valued readers. Thanks for your continued support! It's great to have you here with me. I love to find out where everyone is from and what it is you create and do. Please drop me an e-mail if you get a chance. I am always looking for new artists or crafters each month for this newsletter.

4)What’s New? This month I have added a pet gifts page. You will currently find some recipes for yummy dog treats. Keep checking back as I will keep adding recipes for other pets as I find them.

5.Crafter/Artist Interview of the Month

I saw this artist/crafter on The Rachel Ray Show. I thought her story was great and just had to meet her to learn more. Her name is Brenda and she has taken food into a whole new category! Fake food! That’s right, I said fake. Her work has been used in many TV shows and movies. What can fake food do for you? Read on and find out.

1) Hi Brenda, please tell us a little bit about yourself. Your family, where you live, how you got started doing what you do. I have been married to Mark for 23 years. We have three children Alison who is 21, Christopher 20 and Bradley 18. Alison and Chris are currently attending the University of Tulsa, and Brad hopes to join them there in the fall. We live in Broken Arrow Oklahoma. I was a stay at home mom looking for something to make a little extra money but still be able to be at home with the kids. We were visiting friends in North Carolina, where I saw a potpourri pie in a craft store. It sparked an idea. When I got home I did some research and through trial and error figured out how to make them along with a few other items. We lived in a neighborhood that had a very large garage sale every year, so I decided that would be a good place to try to sell my creations. To my surprise, I had sales of almost $400.00. I got busy and made more inventory, and got a booth at local craft shows over the next 3 months.

2) How long have you been making your "fake food"? Where do you make you food?

I have been making fake food for 14 years. For the first 11 years I worked out of the kitchen in our house. We then built a house that had an extra two car garage. We turned it into a studio to work out of, but after 2 years that was not enough room. A year ago we rented a 2500 square foot office that is now the home for Just Dough It!

3) What do you make your fake food out of? I use several different mediums to make the fake food. Everything from resin, salt dough, styrofoam, glue, etc. I am always on the look out for new things I can use.

4) How long does say a fake cake or pie take to make?

I can make a fake cake in about 5 minutes. I no longer make pies (they took about 45 minutes to make one)

5) What has your fake food been used for?

My fake food was used in the Santa Claus 3 movie, a CBS show "Hack", LifeTouch Photography uses the cakes and milk in their photo studios. It is used by home decorators and stagers, furniture stores and sold in gift stores. Most of the items that I make are actually used by individuals to decorate their home. 6) Your fake food looks so real, has anyone ever mistaken it for real food? What did they do when they found out it was fake?

I actually fooled the health dept. at a craft show. They wanted to know where my food handlers permit was, it took a few minutes for them to figure out that the items that they were looking at was not real.

7)Where do you get inspiration from to come up with new fake food products? Most of my ideas have come from my customers. I also look through magazines, cookbooks and resturaunt menus for ideas.

8) Where did you learn the art of fake food?

I have always loved to cook real food. I just try to figure out what I can use to make it look real, I am very visual which helps. I am not afraid to try something to see if it would work.

9) If someone were interested in buying some fake food from you, how would they go about doing that? My website address is All of the items are available there.

10) You started this business all on trying something you wanted to purchase yourself. If someone wanted to Try to start a business with a hobby they love, what advice would you give them?

You first need to pick something that you love. Last year I sold 11,000 cookies. If making fake food were not something that I enjoyed doing, I would have pulled my hair out after the first 100. Make sure it is something that other people will pay for. When I did the local craft shows I got a feel for what people wanted to buy and what they were willing to pay for that item. The customer feedback was very valuable. If you want to go into business, you must treat it like a business. I have worked with several large companies over the years, and they never knew that I was working out of my garage. I printed a professional looking brochure and business cards, and set up a website. Talk to other people who had been in business for awhile and tried to learn from their success and failures. I would suggest NOT going into business with a friend. It is one of the quickest ways to end a friendship. (learned this one the hard way)

11)Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?

Be your own biggest fan. If you don't believe in what you are doing, no one else will. I got on the Rachael Ray Show because I sent them an email explaining what I did and telling them I needed to be on their show. They called me the next day and scheduled my appearance on the show. You never know what you can have or accomplish is you don't take a chance.

6)Reader Recipes

This recipe comes to us from Andy in Scottsdale Arizona. “I seldom have time to cook. So many times when someone from our office is sick or has a situation where cooking isn’t convenient for them I will make this recipe the day before I plan to give it to them. It’s easy for me to put it all together and they are grateful for a home cooked meal!”

Comfort Roast

You will need a slow cooker for this recipe.


1 boneless beef chuck roast (3 pounds), cut into serving-size pieces

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

4 medium carrots, cut into chunks

2 cans (11-1/2 ounces each) tomato juice

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

Comfort Roast Directions: In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours or until meat is tender. Makes 8-10 servings.

7. Project of the Month Like always, if you try any gift ideas from this site or else where, We would love to hear about it. Show us pictures and tell us how it all went for you! We all learn from each other.

Do you have a talent, a passion or just know a lot about a certain subject? Do you want to learn how to make money by sharing what you know?

I never thought it was possible and yet here I am! I am so lucky to be able to do all the things I am able to with my kids and husband. Gradually I have seen my website take off and it has been an exciting ride. I would have never believed that I could get paid to share information about subjects I know and love. Even if you are a little bit skeptical watch the passion video. It's amazing what you can do and where Site Build It will take you!

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