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.


Making polymer clay from scratch

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie.

For those of you that use polymer clay, have you ever thought about making your own version? I have researched and tried out several different recipes. I don’t recommend any salt based recipes, as they can be extremely poisonous to pets. Most of the ones out there are air dry clays, can be tinted with food dyes, or painted after dry. The one below is a baked recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups corn starch
  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 1¼ cups cold water
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients in a saucepan and stir while heating over medium heat. It will start to thicken. Take it off of the heat and let it cool.
  2. When it’s cool enough to work with, knead it as above. You can add a tablespoon of oil (baby or mineral oil works) and a teaspoon of liquid vegetable glycerin to make it more smooth.
  3. At this point, you can pull off small pieces and color with food coloring. You can also wait until its baked to paint it.
  4. Form pieces into desired shapes. Bake at 250°F for 15-20 minutes. This is not an air dry clay.

This recipe is a great idea, especially if you have kids that want to try polymer clay out, and you may not want them working with the chemicals. Have you tried it? Let us know how it works!

 


Loot Carriers Made Easy

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Happy Sunday, all!

Last week I promised some DIY loot bag ideas and these will not disappoint! 3 of the 4 do involve sewing but they are all pretty easy to make, even for those new to sewing. The first one up is a very simple box bottom bag done in fun Halloween print from Almost Supermom:

Best part is making them to suit the size you want…for more loot.

I think they are super cute and will give everyone some more practice on the basics. Now you’ll have the pattern for a basic box bag! Bonus! Plus the fabric selection is completely up to you – so if your kiddos want a bag to match their costume, there is plenty of fabric out there to choose from (like those new Star Wars fabrics we mentioned?). The second has a similar tutorial but on a much cheaper scale. So if you are trying to save a little money by making your own trick or treat bags, this bandanna bag tutorial from 2 Little Hooligans is the right choice for you:

I am NOT a fan of candy corn but I do love that bandanna pattern.

I think that one is also super cool for customizing as I’ve seen all kinds of themed bandannas out there. Again, this does not have to be used solely for Halloween purposes. Super awesome bandanna bags for all occasions! The third one is interactive and kind of creepy. This “sticky” spider web loot bag from Merriment Design has just the right amount of fun for the little ones:

They also make flies and other bugs that the spiders could have “trapped”…just sayin’.

I love the innovative use of the Velcro to bump up the play factor. The fourth one I found is for those of us that either don’t know how to sew or would rather let our sewing machines have a break after rocking out some amazing costumes. This duct tape bag from Dukes and Duchesses looks simple and useful:

Plus this one is guaranteed to be fairly waterproof in case Halloween is a bit damp.

I’ve seen all kinds of cool, creepy, or even shiny types of duct tape that could be used for those. Hope you’ve enjoyed our festive romp through DIY bags this week. May your bag overfloweth this Halloween season!

Stay crafty!

~Laura


Fall and polymer clay

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Happy Wednesday! This is Kim, with Fantastical Menagerie. I live in the South, where fall is very definitely not in full swing yet- today its so humid that pea soup comes to mind. However, it is October, pumpkin spice and apple cider are everywhere, so its time for me to get with it!

There are some great pumpkin themed items on Etsy right now. I have a set of pumpkin earrings and a pendant available here. They are available as traditional pumpkins, or as glow in the dark pumpkins.

I saw these adorable acorns- they are clay, and could be used as pendants, keychains, or even added to a fascinator! You can find them in Sweet Birch Designs Shop here.

 

Selena Jewelry Bijoux has these amazing leaves, so perfect for this time of year. As a pendant, or added to a wreath, they are breathtaking and reasonably priced.

 

I am always a fan of clay food, and I adore pumpkin pie! CMYKlays has some adorable pumpkin pie earrings. They are fun, and look entirely edible.

 

If you are feeling crafty, I do have a pumpkin tutorial that was published here on Crafthackers last year. Its simple, and takes under an hour from start to finish. It can be found here.


Halloween Out of Doors (DIY Decorations)

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Happy Monday, my crafty little minions!

Last week, I gave you all some ideas and tips for fun and freaky Halloween decorations that can spruce up the inside of your abode. But what about the outside? If you live in a home with a yard or porch/balcony area, this provides a fantastic addition to showing off your Halloween-y adoration.

The website HomeBNC has a lovely article that you can check out here if you want some great tutorials and ideas. A couple of my favorites from this site include Hanging Spider Sacks and Haunting Hooded Ghouls.

    

Another thing that is quick and easy to do and helps creepify your porch or balcony is just pulling some cheesecloth or natural cotton scrim around the railings or from the ceiling, hanging down. If you’re feeling extra crafty, you can dye this black, grey, or tan to give it an extra edge.

Nowadays, you can purchase orange colored string lights. These are just as fun to simply wrap around trees or through bushes as they are to hang across your porch. However, you can also take small plastic hollow pumpkins (usually found at places like your local craft or dollar stores), poke holes in the tops or bottoms and slip them over the individual lights. Viola! String o’ lighted pumpkins! (You can also hood the lights with orange Solo or Dixie cups. Draw Jack’O’Lantern faces if you like.) This can be hung or strung as usual or you can tape/staple it down to the top of your balcony or porch railing to display a cute row of glowing pumpkins. (Make sure that you don’t leave them on all night because the plastic could become too hot and melt, creating a fire danger.)

Want something a little extra creepy? Go buy a skeleton head and arms and stick it into the ground. You can have it look like it’s crawling out from under that big old oak in your front yard or it can be clawing its way out from under the front porch. If you have a felled log or slab of rock in your yard that you consider a terrible eyesore, use it to your advantage. Have this be the thing your skeleton is emerging from underneath.

The best thing I can suggest for your yard or outdoor areas are to use your imagination. Every space has unique aspects to it; use the items around you, incorporate them into your decorations. It can make it feel more authentic!

Happy decorating!

~Scribe Sarah~


Easy DIY Halloween Crafts and Decorations

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Hey Crafty Peoples! Sorry about my absence last week; I was on vacation but I’m back and ready to hit you with some sweet sweet Halloween decorations and crafts. Y’all, this is my favorite holiday of all the holidays. I would celebrate this one all year round. Nothing is better than the creepy, the scary and the Halloween-y. In my opinion, that is.

This week, I wanted to focus on some easy and cost-effective ways to decorate the interior of your home for the spookiest of holidays. Next week, I shall direct you to some wonderful sites with ideas for outdoor decor.

There are a lot of crafty folks out there so the majority of these ideas I saw via Pinterest or Facebook. Most of these are ways to re-purpose old household items into fun crafts to keep the kiddies busy or to decorate the house/apartment when you’re pinching those pennies. Some of these are as simple as getting some construction paper or poster board and cutting out Halloween-y shapes. For example, you can cut out bat shapes and either just tape them to your walls (make sure you use painters tape to protect your walls!) or you can pinch them near the middle, attach a string and suspend them from your ceiling. I personally like this way because it looks like there’s bats flying ’round your house and it scares the crap out of people who come by to visit or take care of your cat. You don’t have to stick with bats either. Pumpkins and Jack’O’Lanterns are fun and festive but easy to cut out. If you’re feeling particularly artistic and ambitious, you can cut out witches on brooms, ghosts, mummies, zombies…the possibilities are endless!

For those of you who can’t seem to bring yourselves to toss out those empty pill bottles, you can use them to make some fun and creepy-looking, old-timey apothecary bottles. Magia Mia has a wonderful tutorial here that walks you through making that garbage into Halloween gold. Also, environmentally friendly because you’re reducing the amount of trash you toss. Recycling at it’s crafties.

Another quick and inexpensive way to dress up a room is to give your candles a little makeover. I saw this on Pinterest but the original idea was posted by the wonderfully hilarious (and stylish!) Big Ang Raiola of Mob Wives fame. You can add flourish to small candles in glass by gluing lace around the glass. These have a gothic Victorian feel to them but you can add any kind of ribbon or lace you’d like. Customize to the theme of your Halloween abode.

If you want some scary spiderwebs around your house but you don’t want to deal with that sticky, hard-to-clean fake webbing from the party supply stores you can either just not clean for a really long time (hey, realism in decorations is KEY) or you can make these fun balloon spiderwebs. They are easy to make but it does take a little longer to make than some of the other crafts I’ve posted about here. You’ll want to make sure you have ample time to complete them properly. You can find the instructions here.

And for my pièce de résistance, a little something for all you Harry Potter fans out there. Ever want your home to look like the Great Hall at Hogwarts? I don’t know about you, but I wanted candles magically hovering above my head from the first moment I saw it in the movies. Well, here’s a way to accomplish this feat, at least for a few weeks. Follow these easy-to-understand instructions over at The Sway to make your home into your very own Great Hall.

These are just a few ways to make your home more festive for this spooky holiday. I highly recommend checking out Pinterest for more ideas and remember to think outside the box. Something you see someone else having posted may inspire you to create your very own unique Halloween decorations.

Next week, I’ll talk about some truly terrifying decorations you can add to your porches and yard (should you be lucky enough to have a property with either of these things) to make your house the most frightening on the block.

Happy decorating, Hackers!

~Scribe Sarah~


Tutorial- Polymer Clay Hearts

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Hey everyone! Happy Wednesday. This is Kim with Fantastical Menagerie. This week I have a simple clay tutorial for you. Its on creating a steampunk heart.

Supplies

  • Sculpey III in Dusty Rose
  • Sculpey III in Gold and Silver
  • Optional- Pearl X in Rose Gold

Tools

  • Mini Screwdriver
  • Needle Tool
  • Straight Blade
  • Pointer Tool
  • Clay Roller or Rolling Pin
  • Tweezers

Steps

  1. Condition your clay. You do this by kneading it in your hands. It needs to be soft and malleable.
  2. Pull off a piece of the Sculpey Dusty Rose Clay. You want a round ball the size of a quarter. Roll it into a teardrop shape, then flatten it.
  3. Use your blade or a wedge tool to divide it down towards the
    center. Gently shape to form the top lobes of your heart. Curl the tail of the heart.
  4. Make a hole in one lobe. This is for you to attach a jump ring in after the piece is baked.
  5. Run the gold clay through your clay roller. If you don’t have one, you can use an acrylic roller or a rolling pin. Cut out a rectangle, about 3/4 of an inch by 1/2 an inch, and another much smaller one.
  6. Gently place the patches on your heart.
  7. Now its time to add the screws! Make a handful of very small balls out of the Sculpey III silver clay. Place them around the hole for the jump ring, and one more on top of your patches. You can impress the screw shapes with the mini screwdriver, or a butter knife.
  8. Add more detail- small dots or texture to form a frame around the heart with a needle point.
  9. Optional- dust heart with Pearl X in Rose Gold.
  10. Use your straight blade to move your heart to a baking tray, and then bake at 275 Degrees for 30 minutes. Allow the heart to cool completely before adding your jump ring and chain.

Let me know how they turn out!


DIY Fall Floral Arrangements

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Happy Monday, Hackers!

My favorite season is now upon us and most people seem to be super-duper excited about Pumpkin Spice Lattes. I, however, most look forward to two very important things related to fall: Fall decorations and Halloween (my favorite holiday so be forewarned…my October posts will ALL be Halloween-related).

I usually put up fall decorations right around Labor Day and most of these I procure at Dollar Tree because they are cheap and easy and well, we all love cheap and easy. But there is one thing that I do every single year not only because they add lots of those beautiful fall colors to my apartment but they are also really cheap and easy and FUN to make. Floral Arrangements!

Using fake leaves and flowers are a wonderful way to dress up your space without having to maintain a plant. It’s also beneficial for those of us who have furry friends and family (since many real plants can be toxic to our beastly brethren). You can customize these easy arrangements to your specific decorative vision. Unlike real bouquets and plants, you can create something that you know you’re going to love.

All the supplies I gathered for the small piece I made for this post were obtained at my local Dollar Tree. They always have a pretty broad and diverse selection of flowers and leaves to choose from and it’s an inexpensive place to find the foam forms and floral moss you’ll need to stick the pieces into and dress up your arrangement. Other stores that you can find great and usually inexpensive supplies at are Michaels and Joann Fabrics. But also check out your local craft stores, especially those independently-owned ones. Support local businesses!

 

For this piece, I wanted something small for the little table by my recliner so I chose this lovely white ceramic bowl with a festive fall leaf design around the rim. I then placed my foam form into the center of the bowl. You’ll want to find a form that is just slightly smaller than the dish or basket you are placing your arrangement in. It should almost fill the space, leaving room for you to dress with moss around the edge and over the top. There are also large forms that can be cut down and shaped to whatever you need.

 

I like to choose a center focal point for my arrangement. This gives me an idea of what colors I’ll want to use, the different levels I’ll want to achieve and where the rest of the flowers and leaves will be placed. While you don’t necessarily want your arrangement to be perfectly symmetrical, you do want to have a sort of uniformity to the piece. Using a focal point helps to accomplish this.

Then, I put my floral moss around the edges and over the top of the form to hide it. Once you have that finished, let your creativity flow. Play around with what flowers, berries, or leaves you want where. Use different lengths to the stems when you cut them (you can use a regular scissors to cut them but it is a little tough to get through the wire stems so I recommend having a wire cutter handy). Poke the stems into the form to place the flowers; don’t be afraid to angle the stems, bend them to place the flowers exactly where you want.

 

Move the pieces around as you go, play with the arrangement until each item is exactly where you want it.

Once your arrangement is complete, all you need to do is set it out in whichever room you want to display it. Don’t forget you can also redo them anytime you like. Just take the flowers out and rearrange them or add new ones whenever you feel like a change. You can make small arrangements, like the one I made here, or you can make them as large as you like. I made this slightly larger one last fall and still love it. It will definitely be a part of my fall decorating tradition for years to come.

The best part of this fun and simple DIY is that it is not season or holiday specific. You can use any color or type of fake flowers, add touches like holly for Christmastime or eggs for Easter. You can make them with school colors for graduation parties or as gifts. The possibilities are endless.


Halloween Glass Lanterns

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Is it Halloween yet? No, wait, I need some prep time for it still. Gotta work on my awesome costume. 😀 Still, I love Halloween and I love decorations for it even more! You have such a wide range of options from cute to scary and realistic to mind bending. Truly the most welcoming of all holidays. 🙂 Well today I’m gonna share a great DIY that you can easily do at home to make lovely glass lanterns for your future Halloween festivities.

The folks at Adventure in a Box have a great method to make some really lovely lantern jars that you can design for just about any event, but their Halloween ones are what caught my eye. You can find the full process with pictures on their site here, so I’ll just give the quick run down of supplies you’ll need along with the recommended methods.

Materials

– Jars of different sizes and shapes

– A can of high quality spray paint in your choice of color

– Battery Powered Tealight

– Paper/Paint/Vinyl depending on method

 

Now for that last item you have to decide how you want to make you designs before you get it. The easiest way (for me) would be to draw/print out the design you want, cut it out and glue/attach it to the inside. If you’d prefer to free hand it though, then painting the outside of the jar is gonna be your best bet. This method can be prone to scratching however, so make sure to apply clear sealant layers of spray paint after you finish. If you can’t paint and want something more lasting on the outside (and have access to a vinyl cutter) you can simply print out a design in vinyl and attach it like a sticker. 🙂

The last step is of course placing the candle inside and I would highly recommend a fake one. Real tealights can get very hot, heat the glass (dangerous), and heat the design. Making some methods like vinyl run the risk of losing their adhesiveness. For simple and lovely decor you can make in an afternoon though these little lanterns just can’t be beat.


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!