As a proud member of craftster.org I have quickly become obsessed with craft swaps. Basically you find a topic that interests you, get a partner to swap crafts with, and end up with a load of great handmade items.
At the moment I am signed up for a "Bargain Hunter Swap". I have $5 to make my partner something wonderful and pad out the package buying treats with the leftover moolah. It's pretty amazing how far you can make money go if you have the time, and are willing to put in the effort. It's a fun swap with little financial obligation.
One of the reasons I joined this swap is my love of finding treasure in second hand and junk shops. While on the hunt for swap items I have found loads of great things that I have picked up for myself (a bookshelf, sewing basket, pirate mug, frames, books, puzzles, games) but have to find a treasure for my partner.
Searching through all that stuff can sometimes be pretty depressing. It never fails to shock me when I see an item that has been signed "With Love, from Grandma". This past weekend I found a great little nick-knack shelf that had the following written on the back "To my wonderful father. I (heart) you so much. Lots of Love. Fathers Day '03" It breaks my heart to think that someone just tossed that away. I know you can't keep everything (I have every little bit that my son has ever made or given me and it's reaching ridiculous proportions.) but how do items from Grandma make it into the trash heap? I can't imagine.
Ah well, the shelf is getting a new life. Funny thing about timing ... I just happened to find a 50 cent piece that my own father (whom I haven't had a relationship with in over 16 years) gave me when I was young. I'm going to include it in my little creation. The pic above is the work in progress ...