DIY Fall Floral Arrangements

Posted on

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.


Hand-Knitted Ear Warmer/Headband

Posted on

The days and nights are getting chillier. Fall is just around the corner. And beyond that…winter is coming… (Sorry, had to make *some* mention of the Game of Thrones finale).

For the knitters out in our little crafting world, I wanted to pass along this very simple pattern that I came across on the interwebs. I have adapted this a bit to custom to varying head sizes. This pattern works best with chunky soft yarn. I prefer the Lions Brand Hometown USA. Whichever yarn you use, make sure that it has a little give because you will want the headband to stretch.

You’ll want to have US size 10 needles and a pair of scissors and a yarn needle handy as well. You will need two different color yarns; one will be what you knit the band out of and the other will be your accent color to finish the warmer. If you want to dress up your headband, you can also have a plastic or fabric flower handy or some felt shapes cut out to be stitched to the band. This is also a slightly more difficult pattern in that it uses the seed (or moss) stitch. This requires knowledge of the knit stitch and the purl stitch.

First thing to do is the make sure you’re spotted. I like to have a knitting buddy for this.

Just make sure your buddy doesn’t try to play with the yarn. *wink*

Cast on 10 stitches. On row 1, start with one knit stitch, then purl. Repeat this to the end of the row.

Row 2: *p1, k1; rep from * to end of row.

All odd numbered rows will start with a knit stitch; all even numbered rows will start with a purl stitch. I highly recommend using a stitch counter to track your progress. You can lose track of which stitch you need to start on very easily if you’re not paying attention. Your seed stitch should look like this.

Continue this pattern for 70 rows. You’ll want to keep your tension loose so that the headband will still have some stretch and give. If the tension is too tight, the headband will not fit. Once you get to row 70, bind off your work.

Then stitch the ends together to make a knitted circle. Then take the ends and tie around the ends to bunch the band in one spot.

 

Once that’s tied off, you will take your accent color and pull it through the center of the band. I usually have about 3 feet of yarn on each side, then wrap it around in a chunk. Once you have it fully bunched up and covered in your accent color, you will tie off the ends and snip it close. Then tuck the knot into the threads to hide it. Flip your band inside out and you are finished! You can decorate the band with anything you choose; buttons, flowers, whatever ideas you can think of.

This pattern can also be adjusted for head size by either increasing or decreasing the number of rows stitched. It can be completed in a couple hours and make great gifts!

(Note: you also may want to make sure your buddy doesn’t fall asleep on the job. LOL).

~Scribe Sarah~

Save

Save


Etsy Shop Featurette: Identity Metals

Posted on

Who loves jewelry? I know I do, especially fandom-inspired things. I have a TARDIS necklace that is just the best. So when I stumbled across this little Etsy shop, my eyes just about popped out of my head.

Identity Metals is run by Katie Hroncich and is all about hand stamped metals. Every piece is unique in the smallest way. Katie explains in her Etsy bio that hand stamping means that no two pieces will ever be aligned or straight and that the pressure of the stamp gives a different depth and alignment to all the characters. These pieces are truly original and best of all, they go with everything.

There are bracelets, necklaces, and earrings. Fandoms featured include Supernatural, Teen Wolf, Game of Thrones (I personally adore the Game of Thrones Inspired – Moon of my Life, Sun and Stars Keychains), The Walking Dead and more. The best part of Katie’s shop is that she does customized pieces as well.

I highly recommend this shop to anyone who loves to wear their fandom heart on their sleeve…or neck…or ears. You can browse through the wonderful items at Identity Metals here.


DIY Bath Salts (part two): Know your ingredients

Posted on

Last week, I showed you how easy it is it make your own bath salts. As with any recipe, they are not set in stone. You can certainly customize these recipes just as you would food recipes. However, as with the food you eat, it is important to know which ingredients are good for you and which are not. That’s what this Monday’s post is all about.

There are three main ingredients in most of the DIY bath salt recipes you will find online; salt, essential oil, and the carrier for the essential oils (usually another oil). Some of these recipes will add baking soda but I have found it isn’t absolutely necessary. However, it does provide some health benefits in its own right! Let’s start with the salts.

There are four kinds of salt that are most beneficial for bath salts. The easiest to find is, of course, Epsom salt. Anyone who has played sports or been active knows that Epsom salts are incredibly helpful in soothing sore muscles. It also helps when you’re sore from a bad fall…not that I have any personal experience with that part at all…. I’m lying, I fall on my face frequently. But Epsom salt (and really all salts listed here) are a great source of magnesium. Epsom salt is actually composed of tiny crystals of magnesium and sulfate, making it very different from your run of the mill, regular table salt. Our bodies need magnesium for a number of reasons, one of which is that it helps our bodies produce serotonin. Serotonin is that fun little chemical in our brain that helps make us happy. Low levels of serotonin can be a key indicator of depression in humans.

Magnesium also helps relax us and reduces irritability. This is something that can come in handy for us females during certain periods of time. *winknudge* Another huge benefit of magnesium is that it helps eliminate toxins from your body. Soaking in this will allow your body to expel toxins through your skin, which helps to keeps us healthy and happy. Some people even believe that soaking in magnesium sulfate can help purge your aura of negativity. For some other ways that Epsom salts can benefit you, please see this article over at Natural Living Ideas.

The other salts I mentioned earlier also contain magnesium, so some of the benefits are the same. Himalayan Pink sea salt also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties which makes it really soothing and beneficial for skin problems like eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Also, it’s natural coloring makes it popular for bath salts since you don’t need to use artificial coloring then. Only downside there is that it only comes in pink. Dead Sea Salt is one of the most natural bath salt ingredients you’ll find. These salts are extracted directly from the Dead Sea and undergo very little (if any, in some cases) processing. This one, however, is a little more difficult to come by and can cost more. The biggest difference between Epsom and sea salts is the composition: while Epsom salts are purely magnesium sulfate, sea salts are mineral rich. They contain important minerals like calcium, copper, iodine, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, and zinc. These minerals are all natural and things that our bodies need to be healthy. Our lifestyles in today’s society tend to be deficient in a lot of these minerals so this is a lovely way to replenish them to our bodies.

A fourth salt that can be used is standard kosher salt. This works great to mix with the Epsom salts. This way you get the benefits of the magnesium sulfate from the Epsom salt and the minerals of the sea salts.

The other important ingredient is what is called a carrier or base oil. This is what you will add the drops of your essential oil to in order for it to mix with the water of your bath. I personally like to use oils because of the benefits to skin but you can also use things like castile soap or shampoo. I’m going to focus on the oils that I have used in the past. One reason I like these is because you can mix the essential oils with these and use them as moisturizers instead of mixing with the salts. Some of my favorites are apricot kernel seed oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, vitamin E, and grapeseed oil. You can also use green tea seed, olive, jojoba, sesame, and hemp seed. All of these oils are great for moisturizing skin but most of them also have antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.

As I posted in last week’s post, if you are using a base oil like sesame or sweet almond, make sure that the person using it is not allergic to it. DIY bath salts are super easy and inexpensive gifts for showers and holidays but you don’t want your gift to make your friend or family member to break out in hives or, ya know, go into anaphylactic shock.

Basically, these things are easy to make as long as you know and respect the ingredients. Some wonderful resources to look through if you want to research your own can be found here and here.

 

~Scribe Sarah~


DIY Spa Style Mother’s Day Gifts

Posted on

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. 😀


A Hand Warming Experience

Posted on

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

Posted on

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 Make Up Brush Box

Posted on

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. 🙂

 


Last Minute Madness

Posted on

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there! If you are in a fix and weren’t able to find the right gift in time, it’s not too late! How much time do you have?

If you can paint something really quick and let it dry, a chalkboard wine bottle vase would make that last minute bouquet extra special. Most big box craft stores are still open today so take that empty wine bottle, a little chalkboard paint (perhaps with a stencil if you aren’t confident in your freehand lettering), add on a personal message and voila!

Let's be honest, you don't even need to be that fancy with the design and it counts as recycling!

Let’s be honest, you don’t even need to be that fancy with the design and it counts as recycling!

If you don’t have time for a craft store AND a flower run or if you want to give her something that lasts a bit longer, you could always make the flowers yourself. Coffee filter flowers are simple, easy, and just as pretty as the real thing!

The best part is that they are allergy friendly.

The best part is that they are allergy friendly.

Ok, let’s say there aren’t any craft stores nearby but the local grocery store has great fresh produce. A quick cucumber mint sugar scrub is just the thing!

It's probably good enough to eat, too.

It’s probably good enough to eat, too.

Don’t underestimate the power of a quick construction paper/crayon handmade card to accompany any of these as well. It is definitely the thought that counts (no matter how last minute).

Enjoy the day and stay crafty!

~Laura

 

 


More For Mom

Posted on

Mother’s Day is only a week away here in the U.S. and as I promised, I have some additional ideas for gifts! You may not have time for personalizing items if you’ve waited this long but you can still order to your Mom’s tastes. For instance, if your Mom is a wine enthusiast but you don’t want to just give her a bottle, what about a wine scented candle in a recycled wine bottle?

Look Ma, it's recycling at its best!

Look Ma, it’s recycling at its best!

Or maybe you already got her a new book but would like something extra to make it super special? How about a handmade felt bookmark:

Pretty and functional!

Pretty and functional!

Is your Mom a crafter? Does she knit or crochet? How about a new (punny) yarn bowl:

Show her how much ewe love her...

Show her how much ewe love her…

Perhaps the kitchen is still your Mom’s domain. If you get her this lovely engraved cutting board, she can always blame the tears on the onions:

I'm not crying, you're crying!

I’m not crying, you’re crying!

You better get a move on if you want them to ship on time! If last minute is the name of your game, however, I’ll be back next week with some very quick and easy gift enhancements to add on to that thoughtful card you’ll pick up on the way to Mom’s.

Stay crafty!

~Laura