Cute in the Kitchen

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Happy Sunday, all!

The unseasonable warmth continues here in the midwest US but that does not mean that I’m not spending time with a warm oven on! I do spend a great deal of time in my kitchen as I have an especial passion for baking. Creating comfort foods is one of my favorite activities for stress release. If you’ve followed the Sunday posts for a while, you may have also grasped that I love all things cute. So imagine my surprise and delight to come across many of the adorable Studio Ghibli oriented kitchen utensils in Zeniba’s Attic:

No Face, Catbus, and Totoro spoons for that geeky chef in your life!

Joanne, the artist, burns the images into the very functional pieces to create these wonderful and adorable items.

Some soot sprites to help scoop with the spatula?

I think many of them would make fantastic gifts for any Ghibli enthusiast.

Like this Totoro cutting/cheese/serving board!

She not only creates cute kitchen utensils but also paints ceramic items to match!

Maybe you shouldn’t have a Calcifer oil burner near your bacon, though.

Since she makes her items to order and they are shipping from the UK, it may take a while to receive your lovely pieces but it looks like all are well worth it! Zeniba’s Attic can be found on Etsy and Facebook.

Have a wonderful week, everyone – I’m off to bake!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


A Hand Warming Experience

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Happy Sunday, all!

While we are enjoying some unseasonably warm weather this week, it’s still winter and the Midwest US is famous for it’s sub-zero temperatures. So how to keep warm? With a little help from some grains (or seeds)! I’m talking hand/feet/neck warmers here. If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, I am quite sure these have popped up in your feed at one point.

If they have unicorns on them, even better!

They are pretty fantastic and a tutorial for the rice type ones has been posted before on Craft Hackers (here) but I want to go a little more in depth because these things are super effective, easy to make, and great for gifts. I’ve seen tutorials for rice, corn and flax seed types but hadn’t quite settled on which one would suit me. Lo and behold, someone has actually done some informal research on the subject! Sew4home compared the three for the time it take for each type to cool down (read the entire article here).

Which will it be? Will longer grains prevail? The seeds? The round kernels?

It turns out that flax seed keeps the heat steady for the longest period of time but there are other parameters to consider such as smell, feel, and cost. Each has a bit of a smell when heated but this can be reduced by adding in some aromatherapy (a great tutorial with different smells can be found here).

A little lavender can go a long way!

As far as feel goes, corn with all of it’s round bead-like size can be the most soothing against the skin. Corn also heats up faster and has great heat staying power as well. My favorite tutorial for making corn bags comes from the PlaysWithNeedles blog where she has a handy dandy tip sheet for making a “Cozy”:

The final parameter they mention is cost but I would also put in an honorable mention for availability. Rice is generally cheapest and most widely available but if you have a feed/grain store nearby, corn and flax can still be very economic. Flax does recommend itself as a reasonable option, especially as it is a seed and won’t need replacing as often (a purely flax tutorial can be found here).

Although I can just imagine the mess that comes with flax vs rice vs corn cleanup.

Whichever you may choose, there are some items they all share in common when making a warmer/cooler (yes, these can be stored in the freezer for soothing ouchies and headaches as well):

  1. Only use 100% cotton fabric, flannel is preferable for feel but not a necessity.
  2. Only partially fill the bag so that it still has movement and is not as hard as a rock – this also helps when sewing the end closed.
  3. Ensure that before the first use, you zap it a couple of times in the microwave to kill off any possible bugs and eliminate moisture.
  4. A funnel is your best friend when filling.
  5. Put a double seam around the edges to prevent these from breaking open (the temptation to toss them like bean bags is great).
  6. A cover is a great way to prevent these from getting too dirty but again, not a necessity.
  7. Heat in a clean microwave as I’m fairly certain you don’t want them to pick up the smells of leftovers.

That’s everything I’ve saved along my way in the quest for fantastic hand warmers! I think I’m going to use some of this good weather to open the windows while I get some sewing done, in prep for colder temps I know are just lying in wait.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Recycled Gifts to Warm the Heart

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Happy Sunday, all!

There is only one week left until the big holidays hit so if you still have some gifts to find, I have a few suggestions that are not only budget and environmentally friendly but also rather thoughtful. First up is a tutorial to help you make a nice new pair of warm mittens out of old sweaters:

Just think about how many mittens could be made out of some thrifted ugly sweaters!

Just think about how many mittens could be made out of some thrifted ugly sweaters!

Even if you don’t have many older sweaters to use, the second hand stores (pun intended) should have plenty in all kinds of awesome patterns. One sweater usually has enough fabric to make a few pairs of mittens OR you could use this tutorial to make a matching hat.

So now that you’ve made some gifts to keep warm outside, I think an inside warmer is in order. Let’s make sure that it’s fun and stylish, too! A tea wreath is a cute present for those tea drinkers in your life:

This may also help to get rid of some of that excess tea in the cabinets. Or is that just me?

This may also help to get rid of some of that excess tea in the cabinets. Or is that just me?

Using recycled cardboard, old clothespins, and bright paper with some colorful teabags would make a wonderful, functional decoration. Maybe tea isn’t their thing? How about music? I don’t know about you but my ear buds always get tangled or lost in my purse. I could really use something to keep them contained and I bet others could, too. This earphone holder made from a recycled mint container is just right:

Super adorable and just the right size. No more tangled cords!

Super adorable and just the right size. No more tangled cords!

I think the only issue would be mixing up mints and earphones when digging around in the carry-all. The last tutorial I have pains me a little because it requires you to cut up a book but I think the prospect of “saving” an old book from the trash is incentive enough to make this neat portable art case:

Never fear, the tutorial also includes links to further crafts you can use the pages for.

Never fear, the tutorial also includes links to further crafts you can use the pages for.

Any artist on-the-go should be well equipped with it in hand. So there we are, folks! I hope one of these at least inspires an idea or two for that hard to buy for relative. I’ve got a lot of crafting to do in the next week so I’d better get to it. See you in a week for the big day!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


DIY: Seasoned Ornaments

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Good Morning Thursday readers!

I came across something super cool last week when I was looking at what I wanted to write about. It’s simple, and easy, and makes a really nice gift for anyone who loves entertaining or even better, it makes a great host gift alternative to wine. Though… I know many people who love a good bottle of red.

This is probably one of the easiest tutorials I’ve posted, though I was inspired so I wanted to share it. You really only need a few things, and the main one you can find at a craft store. The one important material you will need to search for is food safe ornaments (plastic or glass) that have a removable top. I know that my local craft store sells many ornaments that can be taken apart and filled and are all different sizes. Outside of those, everything else is up to you. I would recommend ribbon to trim, fancy tags to attach to show how to make the dip and what it is, and if you want to be really fancy, run to the dollar store and grab a nice basket/box/tin to package them in.

 

The only other thing you need is a funnel, and the right ingredients for your mixes – if you are planning on doing more than one batch, I would fill some airtight containers with your dip mixes, and that way you can keep them separate and make enough for each gift. You will need about 6 tablespoons of your home made mix.

So take a look at some of the photos above, check out what’s available at your local craft stores and get creating some beautiful gifts! To get you started, here are some links to recipes that you can use to fill your ornaments with. You can do dips, you can do soup mixes, you can do hot chocolates, dried herbs… really any mix that is non perishable!

Here are some fantastic dip recipes from Naturally Loriel (just scroll down a bit to find them)

Here are some from Sprinkle Some Fun

I hope you enjoy making these. I think that they are such nice gifts, especially because they’re consumable but they look so nice and they’re a little out of the ordinary.

Happy Crafting!

~ Megan


DIY: Vintage Electronics Organizer

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Good morning Thursday Crafthackers.

I found something super cool on my wanderings through the internet, and I end up (as I have noticed I often do) browsing through Design Sponge‘s DIY section. I came across something super special and awesome, but be forewarned, this is probably something that will take a little bit of time to put together, not to mention patience, but the end result is super impressive. Check out the full tutorial here.

You will need to do some shopping for materials:

  • vintage cloth-bound hardcover book with dimensions close to 6.5″ x 10.5″ x 1.75″ thick
  • black rubberized fabric like a non-slip black drawer liner material from the hardware store, but a thin neoprene foam will work, as well, You can also probably use vinyl from a fabric store.
  • 9 yards black elastic ribbon, 0.5″ thick
  • sewing machine, pins, needle and black thread
  • illustration board or thin mat board (same dimension as your book)
  • Elmer’s Glue and fabric glue
  • ruler, box cutter and cutting mat
  • black photo tape (available at art stores)

Your first step is to use your box cutter and (carefully, so as not to remove phalanges), to remove the pages from the book, keeping the covers and the spine in tact. Lay your book, face down, on top of your black fabric and trace the dimensions, and use your box cutter and a ruler to cut a rectangle 1/8″ smaller on all sides than the traced dimensions.

Next, take your elastic and cut it into both short strips (the width of your book cover) and long strips (the height of the cover), and cut enough of them to fill the book cover when laid side to side. If your strips don’t match up exactly, opt for one less and space them out slightly. Starting in the upper left corner of the black cut fabric, pin your long strips in a row and sew them down along the edge. Don’t secure the bottom yet, and don’t forget to remove the pins.

This is when you can add the short strips, and do the same thing along the long edge that you did with the long elastic strips.  you can sew this edge before arranging them if you would like.  This is the point where you will need to create a weave, and pin all the other edges of the elastic in place before sewing them. You will basically need to alternate laying the short elastic over or under the longer strands to create a basket like pattern. Take a look…

You do not want a symmetrical weave, as the more space you leave, the bigger the accessory that you can store. Keeping places where you leave 2 or 3 elastics exposed is a good thing.You can choose how big or small you want your spaces to be, and you may want to keep some accessories handy so you can test it out.

When all the short strips are pinned in place, and you’re happy with how it looks, sew around all of the other unsewn edges to secure them in place and trim any excess from around the edges.

 

Cut your illustration/mat board to the inner dimension of the front book cover. Use your sewing machine or an awl to poke holes around all four edges of the board. You can hand crank the sewing machine, which allows you to space the holes out a bit more.

Use a needle and thread to sew the board to the backside of the black fabric – behind the side of the elastic grid.You can do this easily and securely using a blanket stitch. Just make sure to pull each edge tight, since you’re sewing to stretch the fabric and tighten the grid.

Once your board is sewn to the backside of the grid and the grid is pulled tight, cover the three edges with black photo tape (or you can sew or glue on fabric tape if you prefer).

On the right-hand side of the fabric rectangle (the side that will cover the inside of the back book cover), use your knife to cut a 3.5″ horizontal slit for the pocket 1″ from the edges (not including the width of the spine) and 4.5″ up from the bottom edge. You can also cut 2 horizontal slits at 4 inches above the pocket and instert a thick band of fabric so that a phone can be held in place. You can really add whatever you’d like, and if you really like the elastic grid, you can do a second one of those too.

You’re now ready to add your lining to the book cover. You can use craft glue on the side with the paper board, but be sure to use glue that is good for fabric on the side with just the fabric backing. Add your glue (make sure to get to the edges), and press into place. Make sure to line up the edges evenly and press down firmly. Clean any glue mishaps, and lay the book open on the floor, cover it with a sheet of clean scrap paper and then put something heavy on top so that everything will dry flat. Let everything dry overnight. If you want to add any latches or elastics over buttons to help to keep this closed, you can do that. Or you can leave it just like a book.

I think that this is such a fabulous tutorial for such a unique gift. Love it so much.

 

Happy crafting!

Megan


DIY Make Up Brush Box

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So with the holidays fast approaching, the stress of finding gifts and not going broke is a reality for many people. Fear not though, as we here at Craft Hackers are all about the DIY and will be highlighting some nice ad unique DIY items that you can make as gifts that won’t break the bank. 🙂 Today I have a super lovely (and super simple) make-up brush holder.

Kelly from the Smart School House has created this lovely and simple DIY that will likely thrill any make-up lover. This stand is made from a wood base that you can find at most craft stores, like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby, and simply requires glue, vinyl, paint and rice.

The rice in the base allows the brushes to stand up straight and not end up mixing or getting bent out of shape. I would suggest maybe pouring the rice into a separate bag, then place the bag inside the box when giving it as a gift; just to keep messes from happening when it gets unwrapped. 🙂

 


Giving Thanks

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Hello Sunday readers!

This coming week includes one of my favorite US holidays, Thanksgiving! I’m quite food motivated so cooking and then eating a whole bunch of it with friends/family is just my style. Since I’m a pretty good cook as well, most folks are thankful when I bring a dish along. This got me to thinking about how to transport my tasty additions so that they would still be warm (oven space is limited at our destination) and not burn anyone’s lap in the car. Behold! The casserole carrier is a quick and easy DIY that may also make great holiday gifts in the coming month:

The best part is using fabric from the stash!

The best part is using fabric from the stash! My Legend of Zelda casserole carrier is going to rock!

I cruised a bunch of sites looking for this pattern because the others I’ve seen use dowels or the actual wooden spoons in the handle. As clumsy as I can be, I sure don’t want to wear the food if I don’t insert those just right. Cloth handles with reinforcement seem like the safest options. Now once we DO get to the cousin’s house, I want to make sure that we can get it out of the carrier without burns so how about some coordinating oven mitts, too:

I am going to have so many geeky patterned kitchen accessories!

I am going to have so many geeky patterned kitchen accessories! Should I use more LoZ fabric or the Doctor Who fabric?

I really liked that pattern because the grips or “thumbs” were on the bottom and not to the side. The link leads to a Danish site but I assure you that the pattern is in English! I would suggest using some sort of insulated lining fabric instead of regular batting (like Insul-Bright) to keep those hands safe. So since we are good guests and like to bring a host/hostess gift, what else would be quick and easy? Maybe a table runner in fun fall fabrics:

Or depending on your host/hostess we could add in some fun video game patterns, too.

Or depending on your host/hostess you could add in some fun video game patterns, too.

That one seems so simple, others may also be getting stash fabric table runners for gifts as well. Or if they are really special to you and they also like to cook a good apron is worth it’s weight in gold:

Again, the fabric possibilities are endless!

Again, the fabric possibilities are endless!

Ok so we’ve got the carrier, the mitts, and a gift but what about the most important thing about holiday meals? I’m talking LEFTOVERS. There are always leftovers and, as stated, I am a bit of a klutz so bobbling the big bowl of turkey and trimmings out of the microwave is one of my worst nightmares. What could possibly be done about this? I’m glad you asked! Behold! From the same site as the lovely carrier, a guest post containing a pattern for microwavable bowl holders:

Give the creator of these a medal, for they are my hero!

Give the creator of these a medal, for they are my hero!

What brilliance and insight! I shall be making a good dozen of these out of stash fabric in the near future.

On a last note, I would like to get a little mushy on you, folks. I must say that I am thankful for many things, not the least of which was our fearless leader taking a chance on me so that I could write about fun crafty things once a week. I’m thankful that I have money enough to own a stash of fabric. I’m thankful I have a family to fight for leftovers with. Most of all, I am thankful for the great crafting and convention communities I’ve been introduced to over the last couple of years. Without them, my life would be pretty sad and a lot less fun. So thank you to whoever may actually be reading our posts, we appreciate you!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Epsom Salt Christmas Candles

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Hi there Thursday Crafthackers!

I have for you today a lovely DIY that’s cheap and cheerful and can make for some easy gift giving for those in your life that you’d like to acknowledge but, like for co-workers, maybe you don’t want to spend a lot of money on gifts for such a large group of people. This tutorial is taken from Hub Pages and what I love best about this tutorial is that it can be done in so many different ways with so many different colours that can make them a great token gift for occasions that aren’t holiday related, as well. One thing to keep in mind, it’s not ideal for the epsom salts to be burned so you may want to inform the receiver.  That being said they make amazing decorative pieces, and if you’re using large pillar candles, they can be used so long as they are not burned straight to the edges.

Your materials and tools are simple: You will need some undecorated pillar candles – they can be any size and height but I do recommend that you splurge a little bit and get ones that are of a higher quality paraffin wax and cotton wick so that you don’t have smokey wicks or extremely drippy candles that would make them more of a pain to use. You will need your preferred colours of acrylic or tempera paint (which any craft store will have), clear craft glue, epsom salts (which you can buy on the cheap at any pharmacy or grocery store), masking or painter’s tape (painter’s tape is easier to remove), as well as paint brushes. Also make sure to cover whatever surface you’ll be working on. You can also get some glitter to mix in with the epsom salts, but glitter is far less easy to clean up.

Candles taped and ready for painting. Notice that you can do any type of design, and to make them safer to burn, you can avoid putting anything around the top rim.

Candles taped and ready for painting. Notice that you can do any type of design, and to make them safer to burn, you can avoid putting anything around the top rim.

First, you will need to tape off the areas of the candle that you don’t want painted or salted. Before you start, you’ll need to mix your paint and glue together, to eliminate any extra steps. Just use equal parts of glue and paint to ensure that the salt will stick to the candle. Pour some (or lots) epsom salts on a plate and set this aside for rolling.

Notice that both the top and bottom sections of candle are taped off, so you'll have a cool design that still lets you have a usable candle. (For those who haven't burned pillars before, you generally have a shell of wax as you burn through the centre and only have to worry about the top edge being covered)

Notice that both the top and bottom sections of candle are taped off, so you’ll have a cool design that still lets you have a usable candle. (For those who haven’t burned pillars before, you generally have a shell of wax as you burn through the centre and only have to worry about the top edge being covered)

When you get started, apply the paint/glue mixture liberally to any area that isn’t covered in tape, but be sure not to paint the bottom of the candle. To make it easier to take the tape off afterwards, try not to paint all over the covered areas.

When you’re finished, roll the candle through the epsom salts a few times to ensure you get lots adhered to the candle, and when you’re finished, give it lots of time to dry, say, 4 hours or even overnight.

Once everything is dry, you can peel the tape off and throw it away to reveal your work of art. You can do whole candles to make it look like snow if you use clear glue, you can paint diagonal lines like a candy cane, or you can just detail the bottom of the candle. Your imagination is your limit, so find things to inspire you! A snowy candle wrapped with a bow is a gorgeous thing.

Have fun and happy crafting!

~Megan


Coffee Mug Sweaters

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While the weather can’t quite get there on my part of the eastern shore, it is officially fall and hot beverage season. 😀 The only thing I like more then being able to cuddle up at night with a hot drink, is to have an adorable container to drink it out of. It just makes me feel so cozy, and what’s more cozy then a sweater.

Thanks to the folks at MugSweater, you can now bundle up your drink in an adorable sweater that will keep it warmer and your hands from burning off. They make all sorts of lovely designs and are even kind enough to offer their pattern for purchase for those of us that would like to make our own. 🙂 If you can knit or know someone who can, now might be the time to start dropping gift hints.

~Nicole


A Girl’s Best Friends…

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… Where the answer may often be diamonds, sometimes the answer is her bridesmaids. Last week I gave you a few links with some great DIY ideas for the men involved in a wedding, this week I’m going to post some ideas for the ladies in your wedding. It’s just as important to thank these tireless babes as they helped to make your big day special and stress free. After all – what are friends for? Now, one of my general rules of gift giving – especially for big events that tend to merit trinkets with dates etched into them or something else that you wouldn’t want to use, I follow my own personal rule of giving something consumable or useful. That way, the people who helped you on your big day can have a little enjoyment out of their gift rather than having something that sits in a cabinet.

1. My first offering, is from Lia Griffith who  has given a step by step tutorial, including printables for labels (if you are a member of their site) and recipes, for how to give a spa day in a box.

I love that this gift lets your lovely ladies open something fabulous, and the fact that this is all hand made is what makes this gift special. You can find most of the ingredients easily at a grocery store, and you can visit your local craft store for any containers that you may need to buy (you don’t need the roll tubes for your lip balm, think of some small jars instead). The other nice thing about this is you can really make all of this in bulk so that you can make one for all the ladies in your bridal party.

2. What about these delicious and unique cookie butters (that’s right, you read that right) from A Beautiful Mess?

There’s recipe and instructions for how to make a butter out of any kind of cookie, and the other supplies for the labels and the jars can be pretty nominal, depending on how to do them. But imagine a set of 4 different cookie butters for your bridesmaids to treat themselves with over a piece of toast or waffles!

3. For your ladies who love to cook there’s an amazing idea that can be applied to spoons and other wooden utensils, but also to bread boards, wooden trivets, and really anything else that’s wooden and living in the kitchen. I’d like to thank Design Mom for their lovely, design inspiration. All you need is a dremel and some creative gumption.

I think this is such a fabulous way to personalize some every day items and give them just a touch of class. Especially since you do these  by hand, they can be as intricate or simple as you’d like, and you don’t have to worry about getting food grade paint as you are just burning the designs in! Keep in mind if you’re going to do something more complex (like a full picture on a trivet, for example…), you may want to etch it with pencil first, as there are no takebacksies when it comes to wood burning.

4. And finally, my last offering in this little gift collage, is to give the gift of soap, with this tutorial provided by A Pumpkin and a Princess. She provides recipes for a few different flavours, too.

 

What I love about this, is that it’s simple, thoughtful, useful and can be made in large batches so that you can give multiple flavours of soap and you can gift to your ladies without breaking the bank. If you get some nice craft paper, or printed wrapping paper and some ribbon, you can make this simple thank you a very very beautiful one!

 

I hope that you enjoyed this as much as last weeks. And good luck!

Happy crafting,

~Megan