Handmade & Homemade Gifts

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It’s Monday, my fellow hackers! Hope you all had a restful and restorative weekend. I know I did!

It’s getting round that time of year and gifts are on everyone’s minds; both giving and receiving. Trying to find great gifts for the people you love can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to add in a little something extra to those gifts (and give something that can be natural and healthy), here are three easy recipes you can whip up in no time.

All these recipes utilize essential oils so please remember when choosing your brand of essential oils, purity and therapeutic value are of high concern. If you’d like to learn more about what to look for when purchasing your essential oils, The Herbal Academy has a wonderful blog post here that covers this.

First up is a little recipe I use around my own home a lot lately. It’s colder and thusly, the windows don’t get opened anymore. No fresh air flow tends to make the home a little…stagnant. Instead of spending tons of money a year on fabric deodorizers, you can simply make a fabric and air spray to make your home smell however you’d like. This one is SUPER simple and cheap (the most expensive thing will be the essential oils you choose as some cost more than others). It is also a great little stocking stuffer.

Homemade Fabric Refreshing Spray

Ingredients & Supplies:

*2 oz distilled water

*5-10 drops of your choice of essential oil (you can use multiple oils for a combination scent!)

*2 oz dark glass fine mist spray bottle

Directions: Simply fill the spray bottle almost to the top with your distilled water, add your essential oils, replace cap and give a shake. Ready to go! (You should shake the bottle before each use since the oil and water will separate.)

Next recipe is essential (ha..hahaha, see what I did there?) for those of us who have cold and dry winters we have to weather through (man, I am on a ROLL today). Dry skin can be downright painful but there is a way to combat it and that is with body butters. This recipe is quick and simple to make.

Handmade Body Butter

Ingredients & Supplies:

*3/4 cup shea butter

*1/4 cup coconut oil

*1 tsp vitamin E

*10-15 drops of essential oil (again, your choice and you can mix multiple oils together for custom scents)

*2 tbsp melted beeswax

*8 oz amber or dark glass jar

Directions: Combine the shea butter, coconut oil, and vitamin E in a mixing bowl and mix in a standing mixer or with an electric hand mixer. Scrape all the sides of the bowl and then whip again until the mixture doubles in volume (think whipping eggs to meringue). Add your essential oils and whip for about 10 more seconds. Put the mixture into jar (or jars, if needed) and voila! (This body butter, if stored in a dark place that doesn’t get too warm (below 76 degrees) will last for anywhere from 12-24 months!)

Last up is a slightly more difficult one (I promise, not much, though). This is also a great gift idea for winter months as the colder weather can really chap you lips. So what better to gift to people than a tube of lip balm? (You can certainly purchase the ready to use tubes for this one but this can also be put in to small, sealable tins as well).

DIY Moisturizing Lip Balm

Ingredients & Supplies:

*7 grams avocado oil

*5 grams shea butter

*5 grams beeswax

3 grams coconut oil

1 gram vitamin E

2 drops vanilla extract (or an extract that compliments whichever essential oil you choose)

3 drops essential oil (again, combinations are cool)

Directions: In a double boiler, combine avocado oil, shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil, vitamin E, and extract. Stir until completely melted. Remove this from heat and stir in your essential oils. Then you can simply pour into your lip balm tubes or tins and let cool. Make sure to cool completely before using!

Whatever the season, whatever the reason, each of these recipes is simple and cost-efficient. But most of all, they are natural and beneficial. And they make great gifts for yourself too.


DIY: Teacup Makeup Stand

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Hello Thursday readers.

I found something I thought was rather lovely, and I thought I’d share it with you. At first glance it’s really cool. But on top of that, it’s actually pretty useful for the intended purpose, which is even better. You will need some supplies and tools and a little technical know how: A plate, bowl and cup (it’s really nice if they match, and you can totally find some on the cheap at second hand and vintage stores), a threaded rod for lamps with nuts, 1/2″ (hole) washers, 1/2″ diamond drill bit and drill, spray primer and paint, a drawer knob and 8-32 machine screw for the drawer knob. You can find the original post here from Design by Studio C, if you’d like to check back for reference or check for some other awesome posts.

Your first step is to mark the position of the holes to be drilled into the pieces. You can find the original poster’s video on how to do this here. Using the diamond bit, drill holes and then set the dinnerware to the side. Keep in mind, if you want to add any decor, such as decals or any paint, or you want to decorate the plates on your own, this is the time.

Determine the height of the organizer (and take into account any room needed to grasp the top to move the thing) and cut a length for the rod. You can use a metal primer to prime the metal bits (including the nuts, rod and washers) and you can spray paint them a particular colour, if you so choose.

 

Thread a nut onto the rod and leave it as close to the bottom as possible. Add a washer and then the plate. Add another washer and then a nut to hold the plate securely in place.

Thread a third nut onto the rod and add another washer. Adjust the height for where you would like the bowl to sit. Leave a little room so you can get your hands underneath it to access anything that gets pushed closer to the middle. Add the bowl, another washer and a fourth nut to secure it in place.

Do the same with the cup.

Remember that so long as you’ve left enough height, you can adjust things at this point so that there’s enough space and every piece is at the height you’d like it to be.

Insert the machine screw in the bottom of the drawer knob, making sure the head of the screw will fit through the opening in the rod.

The last step is to glue the drawer knob to the top of the rod inside the cup so that it can be a functional handle. Voila! your project is complete. Super easy and makes a really beautiful gift.

Happy crafting!

 

~Megan

 

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Change is in the Fall Air

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Good morning and Happy Wednesday to all of you crafters out there! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. As your Wednesday blogger, it has been a joy to write for you, and I hope you’ve gotten some inspiration and great ideas. I’m going to be taking a break from blogging, as my schedule with shows has been a bit hectic. Next week there will be a new face and voice here for Wednesday.

If you’d like to keep up with me and my art, you can find me on Facebook, Etsy or Instagram, and also support my art and get rewards on Patreon

Till next wendesday, get your craft on!


Feature: 42 Nerdtastic Place

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Happy Monday, Hackers!

Today I want to tell you about a wonderful place you should all visit: 42 Nerdtastic Place.

Last month, I was working at a convention out in Schaumburg, IL for the television show, Gotham. It was a small show, it only had a few vendors but there was a new booth that I hadn’t seen before. I was intrigued. A friend of mine and I went over to check it out on Friday night during pre-registration and the young woman I spoke to was an absolute delight. She told me all about her products and that they are all handmade. I told her about my quest to become truly cruelty-free in my product usage and asked about that. She said that not only are her products cruelty-free, they are 100% vegan. What caught my eye was the comprehensive selection of lip balms she had out (and it wasn’t even all that she offers). I had found out that the balm/chapstick I had been using most of my adult life wasn’t something I was comfortable using anymore (short version: the company itself is cruelty-free but the parent company is not). So I had been looking for a balm to replace it and was finding it difficult. You don’t want to spend money on something like that only to discover you hate it and you have this whole tube of it you won’t use. So a lot of the online options I was finding, I was hesitant to purchase. But here, I had testers.

Long story slightly less long, I fell in LOVE with these balms. It was like smoothing silk onto my lips and the scents were unique but still heavenly-scented. The best part was that they are GEEKY. This woman taylors her recipes and products to a myriad of fandoms.

I walked away from that convention with four new lip balms (two of which were Gotham-themed).

Now, I want to share this fabulous person and her equally fabulous products with you all!

Amanda Mayer launched 42 Nerdtastic Place on Etsy in 2014, starting out with fandom-themed jewelry and coasters. But Amanda’s crafty mind didn’t just stop there. She branched out, wanting to provide a plethora of items for shoppers. She started making other items, like scented candles and melting waxes, lip balms, room sprays, etc in addition to original items like necklaces, bracelets, and bag clips. Her site’s About page states that they “wanted the feel to be of a place you would go to when shopping for your Hogwarts school list or a place you might go to cozy up to fellow enthusiasts.” Amanda and her crack team have accomplished this goal resoundingly!

42 Nerdtastic Place sells both online and maintains a presence at local fan conventions so you have different ways to purchase products. They are also always expanding. The Gotham blends, for example, were created specifically for the Gotham convention (though Amanda had been asked by shoppers in the past). And it doesn’t just stop with television and movie fandoms. There are products that feature animation (both American and Japanese), fantasy creatures, literature, even musicals (I personally need to try the Forgotten Spot in the Caribbean – Hamilton body spray).

42 Nerdtastic Place offers the following items: Bag clips, bracelets, necklaces, Hogwarts House combs, air fresheners, candles, hair care & grooming products (like Asgards’s Finest Beard Oil…You too can have the beard of a god!), lip balms and lip sheers, perfumes, and wax melts. They also have some lovely gift sets and they offer samples (not something you come across for online stores much, in my limited experience).

Amanda has also generously provided all our Craft Hacker readers a discount code for 15% off any regular priced items. Simply input code CRAFTHACKER15 to receive 15% off any of their regular priced items!

Hope you all enjoy as much as I do, Hackers! Be beautiful to each other.


For the Host with the Most

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Happy Sunday, all!

Since the holidays are coming up and most of us are forced to interact with people we don’t see often, I thought an opportunity to bring the host/hostess a little handmade gift would be very appropriate. Some of these take longer than others to make and some make multiples at a time so if you have plenty of parties/get-togethers or just want to get a head start on some stocking stuffers or secret Santa gifts this may be the time to start! First up, for those that already have crochet implements, this crochet rope trivet is super sturdy, cute, and serviceable:

For those hot tea pots or even candles (especially if you include those in the gift, too).

It appears to be simple crochet but may take a little bit of muscle to get it through the loops. Next up is an idea for making their table a little prettier, some quick and easy sewn reversible napkin holders:

There’s also instructions on the site for a matching bias tape table runner.

If you have a little more time on your hands and are comfortable with the corner to corner method of crochet, then this Thanksgiving themed pillow set CAL that just released it’s last part of the pattern is for you:

So super cute and perfect for the season!

If you’d rather not assume their decorating style or give them something they are more likely to use, how about one of these neat little tea trees:

This is also a chance to get creative in finding tea bags in several colors.

Or even trying your hand at making these dip mix filled ornaments:

Whichever you choose or if you want to brainstorm on your own to suit your particular host/hostess, we all just want them to feel appreciated. Next week we’ll continue with some ideas for cooking/baking based host/hostess gifts that I’ve really wanted to try out!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Crochet Slippers

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I think the weather getting colder has me thinking of yarn.  I don’t crochet or knit but I can’t help looking at all of these amazing patterns.  After looking at all of the Amigurumi patterns yesterday I discovered another crochet trend that I didn’t know existed, Crochet Slippers!

It started with this Etsy listing for Monster Crochet slippers.

Then I started down the rabbit hole.  First I found a ton of free patterns at All Free Crochet including this one.

Then I found these amazing Dragon Scale slippers.

But the winner of the day must be these amazing Hulk slippers on Ravelry.

Now to find someone to make me the amigurumi from yesterday and some of these super cool slippers.

-Toni

 


Amigurumi Patterns

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I have been exposed to a lot of Amigurumi over the past few years courtesy of Nicole at Craftigurumi.  So when I discovered Amigurumipatterns.net I was blown away at some of the amazing designs and wanted to share a few patterns that you can buy and make yourself.

As an animal lover I couldn’t help but love these amazing dogs and cats.

 

I even found some really cool gaming patterns.

 

But my absolute favorites have to be the Moana ones.

 

They are super cool and I may have to buy a few patterns and convince a certain crocheter I know to make them for me.

-Toni


DIY Wax Luminaries

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Good morning, Thursday readers.

I found a really cool tutorial from Candle Tech that caught my eye and initially I thought it might be a little silly, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. Tea light/votive holders made from wax. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but what makes it work is the type of wax used. And plus, they look really cool.

You do need some supplies and tools: High-melt paraffin wax – IGI-1260 – (this one is super important – don’t use something that isn’t high melt), party balloons, a double boiler and a cookie sheet with parchment paper. You will need to start by filling your balloon with tepid water.

Your next step is to melt your wax in a double boiler. The best temperature for this project is 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  Using a double boiler will help to keep things from overheating, and you can use a thermometer to double check if you have one.

Slowly dip your balloon into the wax to just below the water level inside the balloon. If you go past the water level, your balloon can pop. Hold the balloon in the wax for a few seconds and then slowly lift it out. Let it cool between dips, but you’ll need to do this a few more times to get a good thickness of wax on the balloon.

When the wax is still fairly warm, put the balloon on a piece of parchment or on a cookie sheet. This will allow a flat bottom to be created so it’s level and won’t topple over. Allow to cool a little, and then repeat the above process a few more times. You’re going to want a thickness of about 1/4 to 1/2 an inch of wax on your balloon. Set it aside again to let it cool.

 

When the water inside the balloon and the wax are completely cool, holding the wax portion so it doesn’t fall and aiming the mouth away from you, pop the balloon over this sink with something sharp to let the water drain out and toss the deflated rubber.

If the top of your luminary isn’t level, that’s okay. There’s an easy fix, since you’re working with wax. Just heat up a cookie sheet in the oven and place the luminary top down onto the hot metal (you can put some parchment paper down to catch the wax) and melt the edges until it’s level. You can wipe the paper with a paper towel if you’re going to need to do it a couple times.

And you’re ready to go with a tea light or a votive (remember, votives need some kind of container to keep them from melting everywhere). So long as you’re just using those types of candles, the luminary won’t melt. Remember, it’s high temp wax, so you need more heat to melt it. If you want to add some colour to your wax, you can add some crushed crayons (though it might make them a little less transparant). You can also think about adding glitter or even doing a few white layers of wax as a base with a couple colour layers over top. You could even dip the top rim in glitter once you’ve melted it to make it level or you might want to carve your creations afterwards… but regardless of what you end up doing, they do look super cool!

Happy Crafting!

~Megan

 

 

 


Flower Crowns and Horns

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I know it’s become a big ~thing~ on the internet to give bad guys flower crowns but sometimes you just want your own real flower crown to feel pretty yourself. If that’s you then I’ve got a great shop to recommend.

Hand made in Europe by Katerina Metamorphose, these flower crowns are some of the best I’ve seen. Each flower is made by hand from varying textiles and can be custom tailored to fit your needs. Not into flower crowns and more of a laurels or leaf person, she’s got you covered! You can also find unique horn wreathes, antlers and Unicorn horns to accompany a wide variety of costume possibilities. Yes you’ll have some wait time if you live outside of the EU, but man is this quality worth it. I highly recommend giving her Etsy store a look thru if this at all strikes your fancy. 🙂


The Great Experiment: Pie crust edition

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Good morning, beautiful crafty people!

Yesterday, our fabulous Laura and I got together to test a recipe we’d been discussing. Now, I’m a big-time baker. I love to bake confectionery treats and goodies but I have only made one fruit pie in my life (and I cheated there and bought the pre-made dough that you just lay into the pan). Pie dough is quite daunting to me. Laura has made many and was kind enough to help me in working with this new-to-me medium.

I thought it would be fun to share with you all what I learned in my first real foray into making pie dough. Pie dough is not like cookie dough. My first moment of “Oh dear, am I doing this right?” was when I was mixing the butter into dry ingredients. The recipe called for cubed butter and I just sliced off the stick into rectangles, thinking that would be ok. Laura suggested actually cubing the slices as well, stating it would make the hand-mixing much each and would blend more thoroughly and easily. She was right. We had also discussed the use of a pastry blender, since this recipe specifically called for hand-blending/kneading. As I worked the ingredients together, I felt that the reason this recipe called for hand-kneading was so that you have a real feel for when the dough is blended enough. I wouldn’t be opposed to trying it with the pastry blender though, if for no other reason than it may be a little easier on my upper body muscles. (Also, I’m short and Laura’s counters are tall, LOL.)

Next, Laura talked me through the roll out process. This recipe called for you to roll the dough out to about 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter. Then you roll it out again to 8 x 13 and fold like a business letter again. At this point, you wrap the dough and chill it for 30 minutes. This was the next point where I got confused. The roll out cookies I’ve made in the past didn’t require chilling. It was especially nerve-wracking when we took the dough out and I tried to roll it out again. It was tough & required a bit more effort than a cookie dough to get rolled out. I recommend definitely only chill for the suggested time in the recipe. Laura and I left ours in longer (we had to break for dinner, we were starving) and she thinks that may have contributed to the difficult roll out.

The next thing I discovered is the thickness of the dough. This recipe called for me to roll out the dough to 14 x 14. I’m used to cookie recipes saying something like, “roll dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness.” I think for the next time, I will gauge my roll out this way. We found after baking that the crust was a bit thick along the bottom. I also noticed it was a bit more difficult to slice venting slits in the top through a thicker dough. However, unlike with cookie dough, I noticed that the dough did not get consistently tougher as I re-rolled. And adding flour didn’t dry out the dough.

We also discovered that we had a little awkwardness during the crimping edge process. Laura and I exercised a little trial and error and eventually felt that the following method seemed to work best. We started off pushing the edges down and then, as you pressed the fork around the edges to crimp, you put a finger over the top of the fork as you press down. However, for next time, we also want to try putting  a little of the egg wash around the bottom edge before covering and crimping to see if that helps seal it a bit. 

Overall, the recipe/experiment was a resounding success, resulting is a light and flaky dough, and I learned a lot about making pie dough from scratch. I hope that these little tips and lessons we learned help you all in your future baking journeys!

Have a delicious Monday, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~

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