Thursday, December 31, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Cookie Mix Jars

So I've been saving containers like tupperware's and jars all year in an effort to be less wasteful. As you can see in my "green tupperware" post the plastic containers have had immediate use for me.
However, I've been having a hard time finding a use for the glass jars, like the ones left over from pasta sauce. I love to buy Classico pasta sauce in bulk at Costco because it's so good and it's cheaper than buying other brands individually. I use it in a lot of recipes from the obvious pasta to pizza sauce to homemade tasting tomatoe soup. (if I'm out of the regular stuff.)

Anyway, they've been accumulating in my cupboard all year and I know Jake was starting to feel annoyed with me because as far as he's concerned we should just throw stuff away from the get-go. But the jars are so nice I feel really bad throwing them away . . . much worse than if I throw away the plastic containers from my sour cream.

So yeah, anyway, I had an epiphany this November when looking at all these jars I realized that I could use them for Christmas gifts which would be putting them to good use as well as getting them out of my cupboard. :)

So I went online and looked at recipes for making a cookie mix in a jar. Most of them expect you to have regular mason jars with a ring separate from the lid, but I actually only had one of those from a jar of homemade apple sauce some neighbors gave to Jake when he helped them move. So I decided that since the Care Bear Ornaments were mostly for my sister-in-law, that I should give something that my brother Eric could enjoy . . . I figured cookies are a good gift, especially one's he can make himself when he feels like it. I decided to give them my mason jar with the typical fabric and ribbon decoration.

The Classico jars have one piece screw on lids so I decided to just paint those ones instead of cover them with cloth. I could have given a painted one to Eric and Ginny, but since Ginny is an artist too, I figured it would be better not to give her something that she might think was poorly executed. (Just in case.) So yeah, here's the cloth covered one I made for them.
Yep, I used leftoever material from the Strawberry Shortcake costume.

And here are more detailed shots of my painted lids. I gave these to some of my neighbor friends.
If anyone is interested in doing some of these, I used these directions from this website to make mine.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Taggie Blanket

Knowing that I was going to have a baby before or at least close to Christmas this year, I thought that it would be fair to plan on giving gifts to and from my new baby, despite the fact that she is completely oblivious at this point. But a newborn baby doesn't need much more than food, diapers and a place to sleep so one of the only things I could really think of to give her was a taggie blanket. My mother in law had made one for Lilly when she was a baby. I had actually been planning to make one myself back then but after she did it, there didn't seem to be much need. Now however, I figured it was a good time to try making one myself to give to my new baby.
I wasn't sure about doing it in Christmas colors at first, but since I had left over material from Lilly's Strawberry shortcake costume and tons of red and green ribbons collected over the past few years, it just seemed to make sense. Especially because my red material is satin-like and the green is flannel, which are the types of fabrics taggies are usually made of. So yeah, it just made sense to use those things if I didn't want to have to go buy anything new for such a little project.
So here it is! I think it turned out pretty well.
I'm thinking since I have such a collection of ribbon I may want to put these on Etsy too and let people commission me to make them as well.

Homemade Christmas Gifts: Care Bear Ornaments

So for my side of the family this year we drew names as usual but decided to have the option of either a $5 price limit or that the gifts had to be homemade. My husband and I went in as a couple and we drew my brother Eric and his wife Ginny. Not the easiest task in the world thinking of a gift for these two. On the one hand they are very vocal about what they like so it's not like one wonders if they have any likes or interests like with some people in my family, . . . But at the same time they are very particular about the things they like. Things have to be a certain way, so this makes them not necessarily very easy to please.

One thing that my sister-in-law really does like though are Care Bears and My Little Ponies. She actually does pony customs for people and is very talented at painting and re-hairing old ponies to look like new or to have fun and original themes.

You can see some of her ponies here. Some of my personal favorites are the Chinese Zodiac ones, like this dragon. and also her famous Ebay pony.

Anyway, so one idea I had was to go to a second hand store and find her some ponies which she would basically use as supplies for customs. But I wasn't sure if she'd really like that, or if she's even really doing those anymore.

Then I somehow formed an idea based around the fact that I still had tons of little plastic Care Bears left over from my daughters two year birthday party this year. I ended up buying a bag of 100 of them when I was planning party favors because it was cheaper per care bear to buy them in bulk.

Anyway, so then I began to think about what I could do with these Care Bears to constitute a homemade gift. Someone else had suggested making ornaments earlier so I guess that were I first got the idea, and when I first thought about making the Care Bears into ornaments there seemed to be only one way of doing it. I figured I'd buy some of those clear glass or plastic balls and put the Care Bears inside with some glittery or fluffy stuff. But the glass ones didn't come with big enough openings and even plastic ones would have cost much more than $5, especially since I wanted to use one of each color of care bear so I needed to make at least 8 ornaments and the plastic ornaments I looked at all cost at least a dollar a pop.

So yeah, I was leaving a store all discouraged and rambling on to Jake about how I didn't know what to do about the Care Bear ornaments when it suddenly hit me. I could make little swings for them that look like clouds with a rainbow as the rope part and that would also be what hangs on the tree. Genius! Genius! Genius!!! I seriously have no idea how I came up with it, so it must have been inspired. :}

Anyway, I figured right off that I'd use some clay I had left over from another project but then it turned out that making the clay look like clouds and also have a flat top for the care bear to sit on and have holes in the sides for the ribbon to go through . . . yeah it was bit harder than I had imagined.

So I went to the craft store thinking I might need some kind of mold to make it work, but while I was there, wandering through every aisle, inspiration finally hit again and I realized that putting beads in the clay would add the desired lumps as well as providing built in holes. Genius! Genius! Genius!!!

Okay so I know it sounds conceited to keep saying that, but I'm seriously amazed that I even came up with all this, and yet it just makes so much sense.

Anyways, enough with the boring details here are some pictures.
I couldn't find any rainbow ribbon that was thin enough that I liked so I ended up buying some white organza ribbon and hand coloring it with crayola fabric markers and then setting the color with the iron. I think they turned out pretty well because rainbows are made of light so they are technically transparent anyway, right?
I like how they turned out all shimmery and stuff.
Here are my clouds just after I painted and glittered them.
So yeah, apparently my sister-in-law really liked the ornaments. (According to my parents who delivered them for me.)
They were great fun to make and if I have the energy I may be making some more one of these days, especially if someone specially requests it. I'm thinking of posting them on Etsy to see if anyone will commission me to make some for their tree next year.