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.


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.


Cauldron Bath Bombs

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I’m sure some people are sick to death of seeing posts about bath bombs, but it’s the month of Halloween, and these were just too cute!

 

This is a Cauldron Bath Bomb designed by LeBijouDesign of Louisiana. Shop owner Kaeli Creel is a big Harry Potter fan and decided to use that passion to create all sorts of lovely magical inspired items. Each plastic mini cauldron comes filled with a bubbling and fizzing ‘potion’ that will help turn your bath experience into a magical one. Sadly they are sold out right now, but be sure to keep an eye on her shop of restocks in the future. 🙂


Labor Day Celebration: Relax yo’self

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Hello my beautiful Monday Hackers! And a happy Labor Day to you all!

In honor of the holiday, I wanted to spend a little time on relaxation and rest. It is important to maintain a balance in our lives, which is part of the reason our country celebrates this holiday. As such, I wanted to give a few ideas for things you can do to help rest and restore yourselves from the stresses of every day life.

One of my absolute favorite ways to relax is to take a long, hot bath. Adding bath salts and fragrances add a lovely level to your relaxation time. In a post a few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for making your own bath salt. It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s inexpensive and you can find that recipe here. Some great relaxing scents you can use for this (or for a spray that can be misted over your bed before you go to sleep) are lavender, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, and frankincense.

In addition to the salts in your bath, having a good book with you can be a super addition to your rest time. Sometimes, taking a journey into a fictional world while inhaling calming scents is just what a human needs to fully decompress.

Another way to pamper yourself is to mix up a homemade facial mask. Many of these can be made with items you have in your kitchen, some are a little more detailed. But sometimes, unclogging your pores can really help unclog your mind. This may be construed by some to be a rather ‘feminine’ thing to do but I feel this is a great thing for any gender. Clean skin makes anyone feel better about things. Below is a quick and easy hydrating mask for dry skin.

Cocoa Dream Hydration Mask:

Mash up one quarter of an avocado and add one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of cocoa powder. Apply the mixture to a clean face and let sit for about 10 minutes. Rinse with lukewarm water and pat face dry. (I like to follow things like this with my favorite toner, Pacifica’s Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic, which can be bought at Target, Ulta, and Sephora or online at Amazon. Pacifica’s products are also all cruelty free and 100% vegan!)

Another fabulous homemade mask ingredient is bananas. Bananas are great for skin as they are high in antioxidants and moisture. This mask is super easy and great way to get glowing skin.

Organic Banana Face Mask:

Mash up half a banana and add one tablespoon orange juice (fresh squeezed is best!) and one tablespoon of honey. Apply to a clean face and leave on for 15 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water.

One of my favorite ways to relax and de-stress is by doing a little yoga. Even the most novice yoga practitioner can accomplish these basic poses for relaxation. As with any physical exercise, make sure that you are trained on how to do these poses correctly by a licensed yoga instructor. Doing yoga poses incorrectly can actually damage your body. This webpage has five easy to achieve and fully relaxing yoga poses. Other poses that I enjoy and that help relax and relieve tension are locust pose and supine leg twist. For anyone who is a yoga practitioner who wants to have yoga on the go, I highly recommend the apps FitStarYoga and Asana Rebel. They are easy to use and show videos on the poses as well so it’s great for people who are not yet proficient.

I’d like to end my post on the most efficient way to de-stress, relax, and recharge. It’s quick, it’s easy and you can literally do it anywhere. Deep Breathing. Some people call this meditation and it is. However, all you really need to do is take in oxygen in order for your body to naturally relax and find serenity. Sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. If you can’t find a somewhat quiet spot, put in earbuds and start whatever relaxing music you like (I personally go straight for Chopin’s Nocturnes). Close your eyes and take one slow, deep breath in, then slowly let it out through your mouth. Repeat this for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, however long you feel you need to fully let go of your stress and find peace. Don’t think about anything; no mental lists of what you still have to do for the day, what you’re going to have/make for dinner, if you need to stop at the store on the way home for toilet paper. All those things will be there waiting for you when you’re done breathing. Just focus on the slow intake of oxygen and the release of breath out. Imagine all the bad thoughts and feelings you have exiting your body with the exhale. Even just 5 minutes of this can make all the difference in your mental state and how you approach or deal with your day.

Our weekend is long and for that, we are all grateful. Who doesn’t love a day off work? But remember the real reason for it and that is to take care of and treat yo’self. Happy Labor Day, kids!


Fantasy Tights for your inner Nymph

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Tights have been making a resurgence lately in fashion, but not in the way they originally were. Now they come as brightly decorated and embellished as your heart desires! One New York based artist Lirika Matoshi is bringing her vision of fashion tights to the masses with stunning fishnet tights, that are beautifully embellished with faux flowers, stones, and beads.

While the boring self that I am can only think about how they would get caught on all the yarn in my room just putting them on, they are absolutely stunning in their design. You can find all sorts of themes to fit your needs/style in her Etsy shop. 🙂


La Chacha Soaps

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Good morning, Thursday Crafthackers!

I bring to you a small business who I really enjoyed meeting a few months ago. This is La Chacha Soaps, which is a company that makes a wide collection of skincare products that are all hand made in Canada. Hand made in Canada, that’s what I like to hear. It has such a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? What’s even better is that this is a family owned company and it is their business philosophy to create high end, non toxic and all natural skin care products.

I love that they don’t just make soaps, though. They have a huge variety of skin care products that are made with love. Bath bombs, deodorants, face serums, shampoo bars and lip balms. You can of course see all the things they offer at the different shows they attend, and you can shop on their website also.

One thing that I loved was that when I visited this booth, the young lady who helped me (she must have been in her teens), was the one who was manning the booth and man was she informed about the majority of the products that they carry. She was able to explain much of how the different products worked and what ingredient in them made them exceptional, like their muscle and joint body butter. I love that they have a natural, topical alternative to muscle pain.

I also talked with this young lady about their facial serums and about what products that they might have that would be beneficial to eczema sufferers and I loved what she had to say and the products that they offered. It was quite a lovely experience, and I love the diversity of the skin care that they offer. You can check out their Facebook here, as well as their Instagram to follow and keep up with the goings on of the business and for new products.

I hope you enjoyed meeting them as much as I did.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


DIY Spa Style Mother’s Day Gifts

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Gift giving can sometimes put a strain on a budget. Depending on the person and expectations one’s family has, it can cause load of extra stress and pressure. Well, if you have someone you’re celebrating this mother’s day that enjoys a bit of personal pampering, I’ve got some DIY suggestion to help you out in the remain crunch time days here.

From the lovely folks over a Lil’ Luna, here’s all the info you need to make a simple custom set of spy type items; namely bath salts, candles and a sugar scrub. All you need is a custom mix of relaxing music to go with it and you’ve got the perfect at home relaxation kit. 🙂 You will need several supplies to make all 3 items, so if you’re strapped for cash, it might be best to pick 1-2 items that would work best for the recipient. You’ll need a container for all the items, so I won’t list that as other then the candle needing to be glass, the type/style is really up to you. We’ll start with the easiest:

Bath Salts:

  • 1 Cup Epson Salts
  • 2 Tablespoons of Baking Soda
  • 3 Drops of Essential Oils
  • Zest of one citrus (optional) Citrus types include Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruits, etc.

Simply mix all the ingredients together and place them in your jar/container and seal it up. Doesn’t get easier then that. 🙂

Sugar Scrub:

  • 1 Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 3 Drops of Essential Oils

Heat up the coconut oil a bit in the microwave to get it nice and runny so everything will be easier to mix. Then, simply add all the ingredients together and pour in jar.

This last one is the hardest/most expensive so if you think it’s beyond your skill then buying a candle may be the better choice

Candle:

  • Soy Wax, enough to fill your container twice
  • Container
  • A Wick
  • Skewer
  • Essential Oils
  • Pan

First, wrap the top of the wick around skewer and set in container. Then, melt the wax in a double boiler, stirring constantly. When the temperature reaches 170 F remove from heat, addind about 8 drops of essential oils and wait til it drops to 150 F before pouring the wax into the jars. Leave for a few hours to set, and then snip off the top of wick, leaving about 1/2″ above the candle for lighting.

You can get fancy and add various colors using food grade dye for the body products or colored wax for the candles, or even mix and match essential oils to get a custom fragrance you know they’ll love. 😀


Adorable Sterling Silver Origami Necklaces

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Inspired by her kids and with her parents background in art, California based jewelry artist, Cindy, designs beautiful tiny sculptures that resemble origami folding and cats them in sterling silver as jewelry.

Her shop is called Jamber Jewels and she specializes in minimalist jewelry. Her pieces can be bought as necklaces, charms, bracelets, and even earrings in all sorts of simple animal designs. I personally love the turtle and the elephant.  🙂

If origami isn’t your style she also has some simple geometric style pieces to appeal to any minimalist out there. All her work can be found at her etsy shop and extremely well priced. I highly recommend giving them a look. 🙂


Self Employment, the Holidays, and Relaxation

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Hello Thursday Readers!

Like Beauty and the Beast, self employment and the holidays have a very complicated relationship. This is often a time of money making, but it is also a time of family. If you’re like me, then even when you have done a lot of what you need to, you still feel guilty taking time away from your work over the holidays. Add in lack of sleep, travelling, trying to find time and money to get all the gifts that you need to, sleeping in beds that aren’t your own, and the general blahs that can sometimes come by virtue of the lack of sunlight, or the holiday season in general, and you can have a pretty rough time without realizing.

Image from Dreamstime

So I wanted to take a post to remind all of you how important it is to make sure that you give yourself a break over the holidays. If you have orders, if you can get them done before hand, do. But, make sure to check with clients when they need things as you might find that some aren’t on a timeline and may be more understanding with the time restrictions during this time of year. Knowing that your client is flexible can take a huge load off, and keeping them in the loop about your schedule will help to keep you from feeling guilty about it. Remember, that even though you might not be able to take a full vacation, giving yourself a vacation from obligation for a couple days is super healthy and really needed around this time of year.

To that token… here are a couple DIY relaxation remedies that will help. Spirit Sister gives you three recipes for cosmetic pick me ups that will help relieve your winter stresses, all while doing it on the cheap. Check out her moisturizing avocado face mask and her sugar lip scrub to help relieve some of the physical symptoms of winter. Taking care of your body when the weather is out to get you is a good step to taking care of the self.

 

Also a must to check out is The Plant Strong Vegan who gives recipes for four steps to self love that are especially important at this time of year. Please check some of these out as there are some great recipes linked into her page and some good ideas for taking a load off after going through one of the most stressful (though fun) seasons.

Your crafting business is only as healthy as you are, both in mind and body. So be kind to yourself, and remember that you absolutely deserve some time to replenish your energy and gather yourself for the coming year.

Happy Crafting!

~Megan


Fantasy Headbands and Crowns

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Have a desire to unleash your inner fantasy side? Secretly wish you’d been adapted by Elvin Royalty? Well I can’t help you make those dreams come true, but I can point you in the direction to help you look like one.

A Mon Seul Desir is a French based company that makes custom fantasy jewelry for all occasions. Seen above is their Elven Wedding Crown, but they also have works from more modern fantasies, like Game of Thrones, and even cartoons such as My Neighbor Totoro.

Their work is elegant and beautifully designed and I highly recommend giving them a look if you’re in the market for some truly unique and professional fantasy costume jewelry. 🙂