Shelf Life of Your Homemade Products

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Good morning, Hackers!

I have posted a lot about DIY and homemade products like bath salts and body scrubs, but I want to stress in today’s post that these products are made from natural materials. Unlike those store bought products, natural ingredients and can and will go bad so, for your health (and the health of anyone you sell or give your products too), it is important to understand what the shelf life of your products will be.

Today, I’m going to focus on two things that can affect your products. The first is mold and bacteria. We all know about these lovely little buggers because we all have bathrooms and no matter how meticulous you want to be about cleaning it, somehow, mold still occurs. That is because water is present. There is nothing mold likes more than moisture.

If you are making products that have water present in them (like lotions or emulsified scrubs), mold and bacteria are likely to occur. In this instance, a preservative should be used. There are a number of preservatives that you can buy to add to your product but if you want to stay as natural as possible in your product, there are two things you need to help preserve you product; antimicrobial preservatives and antioxidants. Coconut oil is an antimicrobial as is the carrier oil apricot kernal seed oil. There is some debate on if grapefruit seed extract is an effective preservative due to the revelation a few years back that most grapefruit seed oils contained other, harmful products. As with anything, be sure you know what you are using/buying. Read the labels, ask questions, sometimes you might even want to call the company that produces the product to find out what may not be listed on the label.

Antioxidants like vitamin E and rosemary oil extract are also great things to add to your products not just for the mold/bacteria repelling properties but because they are good for your skin. Just remember that if your product has food in it, like avocado, a preservative is not going to prolong the shelf life of the product. Make these types of things in small amounts that can be used well within the few days shelf life of this type of product. And remember to refrigerate these types of products or they’ll just go bad all the faster.

The second thing you want to be aware of is rancidity. A lot of people think that bacteria and something being rancid are the same thing but they are not. Your product can grow mold and bacteria at ANY time (because of the water). However, if you use a preservative to prevent mold/bacteria in your product, that product can still go rancid. Rancidity doesn’t necessarily mean your product isn’t safe to use, it just means that the benefits of the natural products may have depleted. (Mold and bacteria on the other hand, DO make the product unsafe and you should chuck it out immediately if you find mold.)

So now you’re probably asking yourself, “how do I know when I should use a preservative and when I don’t have to?” Just remember the water. Anything that doesn’t have oils, butters, waxes, etc in it but is a cream or lotion should have an preservative. Basically, creams, lotions, toners, moisturizers, emulsions…those need preservative. Things like lip balms, salves, ointments, body and facial oils, oil-based body butters… those do not require a preservative.

You can also extend the shelf life of your products by following a few simple steps in your making and storing process. Use clean, sterilized containers and tools, use distilled of boiled water (or water substitutes), and store your products in dark or opaque containers in a cool, dry place.

Making your own products can be fun and easy and safe when you understand what to watch out for.

Stay safe and healthy, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~


A Beautiful Light in the Darkness

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Happy Sunday, all!

I know I promised a tutorial this week but that is going to have to wait! I have found a new artist that I must bring immediately to your attention! This passed week I was introduced to Brittany Cox AKA Britt the Badger and I am simply blown away by her creations. Brittany makes paper cut “dreamboxes” out of what appears to be magic and rainbows.

It feels like you just walked into this secret fairy hidey hole.

Seriously, though, her very intricate scenes come to life through custom LED light setups hidden behind layers and layers of laser cut paper in surprisingly small (for all the detail she achieves) shadow boxes.

Just look at the depth (pun intended)!

The part I am especially in awe of is her artistic vision when it comes to those layers. These pieces are not just beautiful in the dark.

 

She draws and plots out each of the images and then figures out how many layers and what goes in each one plus the lighting effects (which she also wires herself). She also does original paintings and drawings of equal beauty.

The watercolors here just make the cuts pop so well.

So if you would like one of these absolutely gorgeous pieces for yourself (or commission a custom piece), Britt can be found on her website, Etsy, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you would like to watch one of these emerge step by step, you can follow her on Twitch under brittthebadger.

Next week, I will attempt the tutorial, I promise!

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Hard Working Leather

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Happy Sunday, all!

I promised some more MAGfest vendors and this week I would love to direct your gaze toward the creators over at Detroit Leather Company. They have quite the selection of very wonderful leather goods. Ranging from masks:

   

To goggles:

 

To leather wrapped flasks:

 

To these absolutely gorgeous leather journals:

   

I am so entranced by the twisting lock and the pin locks on those last two pictures. Aren’t they amazing?! I can personally attest to the effective holding power of their flasks as well. If you would like to view their other wares, they can be found on their website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. See you next week with a new tutorial!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Simply Charming

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Happy Sunday, all!

We are back from MAGfest and I find myself with a rather nasty bit of con crud but we definitely had a great time! As promised, I scouted out some new and amazing creators, this first of which I realized I’d already met before. Apparently when I purchased adorable Calcifer cameo and Kodama in a bottle necklaces from Stephanie of Charming Little Fox at Anime Central last year, I didn’t post about it. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?!?!? I know! What is wrong with me??? So here we are giving her absolutely cute cutey cute creations a spotlight. Did I say Calcifer cameo? I did:

Lookit this widdle mean and scawy fiwe demon…

She makes all of these crazy tiny beauties by hand with clay so each one tends to be somewhat unique (which I love) so mine actually has a pretty teal background. The main pendants that truly captured my attention the first time around, though, were her terrarium necklaces like Totoro here:

This one looks so confused, too, like how did I get in here?

My little Kodama is just as tiny and detailed plus it glows in the dark! It’s these bitty details that really set her apart. Just think about the amount of time it takes to make things like these teeny sushi rolls or this koi pond:

 

Super duper cute, right? She also does do some slightly larger but no less detailed pendants like this lovely octo I would just love to put in my own rotation:

All the tentacles to hold you!

I would highly encourage you to take a look through her Facebook or Instagram for more examples of stunning clay artwork and once she comes back from a brief hiatus, you can purchase a piece on her Etsy shop. Next week I have some new leather wares to take offer.

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Personalize Your Drinking

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I hope you are all enjoying a healthy and wonderful new year already. A few weeks ago, I did a fun little craft with my 4 year old niece. It was a gift to her parents, but I thought this was a fun and relatively easy way to personalize a cup, glass, or mug. How does this fit into your new fitness routine or eating healthy? Easy! I am currently cutting down on caffeine, but I still drink coffee (decaf) or even lower caffeine level teas. Or you can do a version on a glass for your water.

Supplies:
Whatever mug, cup, or glass you want to decorate
Acrylic paint (you can use one or more)
Medium or big point permanent markers
Duct tape or stickers
Foam paint brush- circular is good for dabbing, but to paint straight lines consider a flat rectangular brush
Clear spray paint that will stick to glass (if you are decorating a glass)

Directions:
You can do a few different things but the first step is to thoroughly clean the surface of the cup and ensure it is completely dry before starting. Next step is to place stickers or duct tape in a pattern or spell out something that you want to be on the cup. You can use sharpies to create a multicolor pattern of dots around the pattern or word(s) you made with stickers or the tape. If you chose to use paint, I’d highly recommend doing dabbing or painting of one color, let the paint dry, then do another color. When you’re all done with the paint or marking it all up and things are dried, peel off the duct tape and/or stickers.
Now, the key to ensuring a glass won’t have any issues with the paint coming off, I’d use clear spray paint that will adhere to glass. I found my can for less than $4 at Ace Hardware. It was quick drying but you’d want to have ideal temperatures and circulation of the air. However, you decide to decorate it, remember to just use your creativity.
When I started this project with my niece, it was right as I found out her dad doesn’t drink anything hot. So I adapted and bought a set of plain glasses to decorate. Her dad likes his soda and water and her mom drinks a lot of different kind of drinks so it was the easiest way to ensure the whole set of glasses were used. My niece was super neat but I’d still recommend if you have a child helping that an old set of clothes or a smock of some sort is used. I also covered the table with plastic bags to protect the table. I then had to improvise to ensure this didn’t become an epic fail. I let her do her thing so she did some dabbing then layered on paint in other areas. She wanted to paint the entire outside of the glass too. I let her roll knowing her parents would just use it as a semi-permanent art piece if necessary.


Then when I was dealing with peeling paint from the glass as I took stickers off. That was where going to Ace Hardware paid off for me. The biggest thing to remember, is you may want to primarily hand wash glasses. Or do a test run with a decorated one in the dishwasher before you use it in the dishwasher. It all worked out and my friends how things were done.


10 Scrap Wood Projects for the Novice Wood Worker

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Hi! This is written by Paul from Woodworkboss who is the guest blogger today.

If you’re a novice wood worker, you might be looking for a few easy projects to hone some of your basic skills, so you can then move onto more advanced projects. There are numerous projects that you can start with that you do fairly inexpensively by using scrap wood.

Here are ten projects that can be completed within a day or even a few hours, that will help you practice your skills, and only require scrap wood and the tools that you will need to invest in to move onto larger and more complex projects.

1. Wood Wall Hooks
If you have some old crown molding lying around, you can make wooden wall hooks by painting or staining them and attaching hooks. With this project, you’ll can practice drilling and using a power sander. As the end result, you’ll have a fun place to hang your coats, hats, and scarves in your entryway.

2. Kids Step Stool
With a couple of 2X4s, some scraps, a few screws, and the help of a miter saw, you can make a stool that will help children reach the sink to brush their teeth and wash their hands in the bathroom or kitchen. As always, don’t forget safety when dealing with saws and remember to use safety goggles. This is a great project for learning how to cut with a miter saw and make fairly simple schematics for the project.

3. Wood Shelves
A miter saw might be helpful for this project, too. If you choose to make shelves that require 45 degree angle cuts, you will learn how to use your miter saw’s capabilities for cutting other than 90 degree angles. You will also learn how to fit corners snuggly.

4. Scrap Wood Snowflake
Decorations for the home can become expensive, but if you learn to make wall decorations, such as a wood snowflake using reclaimed wood, you can have a project that you can proudly display, at a fraction of the cost. This project will also help you visualize a complete project, but it’s nice for beginners because the angles don’t have to fit snugly together.

5. Pallet End Table
There are countless projects that you can create just by recycling pallet wood. An end table made from an old pallet is just one of many. Using exclusively 90 degree angle cuts, this project is easier than it looks, but it also gives the maker practice is creating a sturdy design. For projects two through four, you can check them out here.

6. Drum Planters
The nice thing about scrap wood is, if you make a mistake, you can try again at a low cost. A drum, due to its circular shape, will require you to make 45 degree angle cuts for the top, but the bottom is simple, straight lines.

7. Scrap Cutting Board
With a few pieces of multi-colored wood, a miter saw, a hand or electrical planer, a sander, and some wood glue, you can make a beautiful cutting board. Photos and more detailed directions for ideas six and seven are here.

8. Gardening Trellis
Many plants, such as cucumber, need a trellis to expand and grow on. This is a greatly useful and super easy way to use your scrap wood. Attach some mesh wire to the frame with a staple gun and your plants are ready to grow.

9. Tea Light Candle Holder
This is a very popular project, because it only requires a small amount of wood. You can create them in simple square shapes or get fancy with sanding and shaping and make them into hearts.

10. Fish and Fisherman Wind Chime
This is a really fun project, and it only requires some scrap wood and some old silverware. Photos for projects eight through ten are here.

There are countless ways that you can use old scrap wood to make items that are fun, beautiful, and useful.

Seamless texture of wooden blocks in collage background.

 


Light Bulb Ornaments

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It’s just another Manic Monday, fellow crafters! The last one before Christmas Day! So I thought I would focus on the holiday that is quickly approaching.

If you celebrate Christmas, you no doubt have had at some point in your life, a Christmas tree. And you probably were really excited to decorate it too, right? Except ornaments (like so much else during this holiday nowadays) can end up costing you quite a bit of moola. And that’s money you could be spending on presents for your loved ones. But you don’t have to sacrifice your decor just so you can put presents under that tree. If you have old burned out light bulbs, you can decorate with your own personal flair. Heck, you can do what store bought ornaments don’t always allow and customize your tree to whatever your holiday heart desires.

All you need to accomplish this goal are those burnt out light bulbs (and don’t limit yourself to regular sized incandescent light bulbs! You can also use candle, flame, candelabra or even classic Edison style bulbs). You will also need a selection of different sized paint brushes, acrylic paints in the colors you plan to use, and some ribbon and a hot glue gun. I personally also like to keep some colored felt, puff balls, and scraps of old fabric to use, should I be so inspired.

If you don’t feel particularly good at coming up with ideas on your own, here are a few you can try. Christmas ornaments don’t just have to be Christmas-related, you can also do winter themed ideas. So in addition to Santas, Rudolphs, and elves, you can also make snowman and penguins! Really, you can make whatever you want to decorate your tree with. Maybe you want to go with a ballet theme to your decorations this year…paint a Nutcracker’s head. My mom’s house always has references to a Winter Wonderland…this would be a great theme to incorporate snowman and penguins and maybe even a narwhal into.

The penguin would probably be the quickest and easiest to paint. An upside down light bulb already resembles a penguin, you really just have to color it in. Go as simple or as exquisite as you want. You can make a simple cartoon penguin or a regal Emperor penguin (if you are a slightly more talented painter than I, that is. I’ll stick to the cartoon-y one). And you don’t have to add anything to the top to hide the metal portion, you could just paint it black. But I personally like the idea of giving your chill little friend something neat like a hat.

For you Santas and your snowmen, you have a couple different options. Stick with either the head only (easier to paint in the long run in most cases) or make the full body too! Again, adding little touches like a flannel fabric to Santa’s body (Santa Jammies!) or a tiny yarn scarf around your snowman’s neck can give your ornaments that something special, a little personal flair.

While I personally love this idea for decorating your tree each December, decorative bulb ornaments don’t stop at Christmas. You can make dreidels as well for Hannukah. You can make turkeys and scarecrows for Thanksgiving, witches and jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and bunnies for Easter. And you don’t have to hang these from a tree either. You can hang them in doorways (just warn your taller guests of the potential hazards), dangle from the front of your mantelpiece or even hang in your windows.

This is not only a great way to decorate with your own style and flair, it is also an inexpensive and relaxing way to holiday up your home. Enjoy sitting down with a few old light bulbs, some paints and your imagination and see where the day will take you.


Twitch Updates

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If you follow my social media you may have seen this posted on Monday.

If you haven’t watched me on Twitch you may not know what this meant.  In Twitch when someone finishes their stream they can choose to “raid” another streamer.  Basically they take all of their viewers and bring them to another stream.  This raid can be announced with a “raid call” or other ways to let the new streamer know they have joined them.  It is a lot of fun and a great way to introduce people to new streams.

I am trying an incentive to encourage people to raid me so we can grow the channel.  From now until January 3 if we get raided the streamer gets 1 pixel for every raider they bring (pixels are the currency that I use to make quilts for viewers).  I will also immediately do a give away!  I will still do giveaways for viewer counts, subs and followers.  So there could be more than one giveaway if we are raided!

I would also like you to mark your calendar for December 23.  If you have ever wanted to watch me make a quilt start to finish this is your chance.  I will be making a quilt start to finish the entire day to raise money for St Jude and will be streaming it live!  Cutting, piecing, pinning, quilting and binding.  For every $5 donation you make to St Jude through my link you will earn 1 ticket to win the quilt I make!  The stream will start at 9am and will last until I finish the quilt and conduct the drawing.

So make sure you sign up for a free Twitch account, follow me and tune in!


Twitch!

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I am making some big changes to help my stream to benefit you and I need your help!

I am making the push to be a partner on Twitch.  This will allow me to do more for my viewers and encourage more people to quilt and sew.  I have met all of the requirements for Partner except I need an average of 75 people watching my stream over a 30 day period.

What are these changes?  More Giveaways!! Starting today I will be holding giveaways for every:

  • 5 new followers
  • 5 new subscribers
  • 30 people watching the stream (and then 40, 50, 60, and so on!)

What can you win if these things happen?  The winner has their choice of the following

  • A Quiltoni quilt pattern of your choice
  • A bag of scraps
  • A custom made dice bag!

So how can you help?

I am also looking for a community manager.  At this point it is not a paid position, but they will receive hand made goodies from me, invites to conventions, and if I make partner it will turn into a paid position!  What does the job entail?

  • Working on my social media to promote  my Twitch channel and keep in touch with other streamers.
  • Help monitor my streams to update goals for giveaways or make sure another moderator is present to do this.

If you or someone you know is interested, send them my way!


Steep Yo’self – Herbal Bath Teas

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Good Monday, Hackers!

It’s coming on that time of year that so many of us love; and yet, it creates a large amount of stress. Many of us make a variety of gifts and goodies for our friends and loved ones, we prepare for hosting family, we decorate (that in and of itself can wipe a person out). So many things topple onto our plates in the month of December that it can be easy to forget to just stop and breathe. Tea has always been touted as a soul-soothing remedy but did you know that you don’t just have to drink it? You can bathe in it too!

One of the best things about this stress reliever is that you can either grow your own herbs for these bath teas or you can buy them from a store or local market. If you’re growing your own, you’ll want to dry them (Organic Authority has a lovely blog post with three methods found here.)

Items you will need along with your herbs are muslin drawstring bags or double layered cheesecloth (but if you want to repurpose those old stockings or save a little money, you can use nylons or support hose as well). All you need is something that water can move through but these three things work best.

You can mix and match, use whichever herb combinations you would like. Chamomile, rose petals, and lavender are all soothing ingredients while things like lemon, peppermint, and sage can be revitalizing & rejuvenating. When mixing your herbs in the bag, you’ll want to keep the portions as even as possible. Each bag should have up to 6 tablespoons of herbs so if you’re going for a rose petals and lavender blend, you want three tablespoons of each herb. Essentially, this is just like making yourself a cup of hot tea, just on a bigger scale. You can use more than 6 tablespoons for a stronger tea but it isn’t necessary. Sometimes less is more.

You can add things like oatmeal or milk powder but these things are not necessary. The herbs themselves are going to do the heavy lifting; additions to the bag can be used to contribute to softer skin and the like.

To use your bath teas, I know the knee-jerk reaction may be to run the water and toss the bag in to steep. This is not the best way to steep your tea bag in a bath. Instead, you will want to hang the bag from the faucet and simply run your bath. It doesn’t need to be boiling to “brew” the tea; you can run it at the normal bath temperatures and it will be just fine.

As per usual with my posts, these fun little DIY items not only benefit you, they also make wonderful gifts. So on top of getting some you time in this stressful holiday season, add a little something to your loved ones’ stockings as well. Spread the stress relief!

Happy steeping, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~