Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Presents

For the past few years, I have tried to make most of my Christmas gifts. This presents a problem after a while. For the first year it is fairly easy to come up with something. But after a while what can you make that friends and family will really enjoy without saying "Oh, thanks. You must have made this," with that half smile/grimace? Also, I would love to include handmade gifts for the kids in my life...any ideas?

The first year I made beeswax candles and bath salts. (I admit, very Martha-ish. But I was using one of her books.) That was many years ago when I was a poor, barely graduated professional. Two years ago, I used left over fabric from my baby bedding business and made fabulous furry blankets. I had swirled furry, fluffy fabric on one side and cool designer fabric on the other. I still get requests to make these blankets.

These are the baby versions:

Last year, I made sets of re-usable grocery bags, again from left over fabric. This was also a big hit and of course very fashionable and environmentally friendly.

So far this year I have made Kahlua. Lots and lots of Kahlua. If you have never had handmade Kahlua - this is the bomb! I have people who will never drink the real stuff and beg for more of mine...namely Darrin, who said that Kahlua was a sissy, girl drink. I have saved wine bottles from the year to fill up and bought wood topped corks to seal them. I have yet to make my labels, but that should be easy.

I have finally tried my hand at soap making. I love handmade soap and buy it at every craft show I go to. Soap from the store is not actually soap, but a detergent that dries out your skin and is made with lots of yucky stuff. Making soap yourself can be a little tricky and I'm not sure yet if it all turned out, since it has to cure for at least three weeks before it can be used. There are some wonderful
instructions on line for soap making.

And finally, I upgraded my grocery bags. I bought beautiful brocade on sale and made happy bags for all those people in my life who steal my grocery bags for overnight bags, school bags and anything else that needs carrying! These are reversible and very strong. I designed the pattern to fit my life. They fit a lot of groceries, the handles are long enough to be carried over your shoulder, but short enough to carry like a regular grocery bag without dragging on the ground.

And if I have any time left over, I would like to try to make bags out of
up-cycled plastic bags. You can iron several layers of regular plastic bags together to make a hardy plastic fabric and then make whatever you want out of it. I have already tried the melting part with varying degrees of success - although I will say it is pretty easy. And it looks really cool!

This I made for me! It is an up-cycled poultry feed bag lined in a very cool, coordinating cotton fabric...

2.5 cups sugar
3 cups water
10 teaspoons instant coffee
1 vanilla bean
3-4 cups vodka

Split vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. To a large heavy pot add all ingredients including bean and seeds. Slowly bring to a boil, stir until sugar is dissolved and then stir occasionally. Boil for 15 minutes. After it cools, measure liquid, if it has reduced to less than 3 cups, add water to equal 3 cups. If you have more than 3 cups, don't worry. You want to add the same amount of vodka as coffee/sugar liquid. Mix and bottle. This gets better with age!

I will post my pattern for bags later, because I think you really need pictures to understand sewing directions!

1 comment:

Sandra said...

Wow! I love your ideas!!! I can't sit still reading about your handbags--you really should market your idea or do some custom work (maybe even from used baby clothes, blankies, etc.). The poultry bag is too cool--you still amaze me Jenn!