As some of you may know, I’ve managed to get a toy kitchen for Bub from freecycle. For pans, we’re using cup measures that I picked up from a charity shop for 99p – they fit the toy hobs exactly. I’ll take a picture one of these days to show you. For the rest of the kitchen gear, I’ve been buying one mini-item per week from Wilkinson’s. It’s not as anti-consumer as I’d like, but at 75p a go for real kitchen equipment that I can add to the cupboards when Bub is finished with it, it’s not so bad. So far, we have a tiny wooden rolling-pin, a tiny balloon whisk and a tiny sieve (which fits the pans perfectly).
Which leaves food and crockery I suppose. I’ll get on to crockery before too long – I have a few ideas there – but for now, let’s do eatables.
You might remember that I made some bow pasta not too long ago (bow pasta which is annoyingly not to scale!). Whilst I plan to do more with felt, I decided that salt dough was another possibility – mostly because I’d just made Bub some salt dough to play with. Here’s what I came up with:
So, when instructions say, “bake on a low heat”, you’re best off doing that, lest your fake cookie dough end up brown and puffy. I will be doing this again, without whacking the oven up to 200 because I’m impatient.
A little more prep involved in this one – in order to be sure the dough bakes all the way through, you need to make a base of tin foil, then cover it in a thin layer of dough, shaping it until it looks like a bread loaf. You don’t need to top it with seeds, but I think it looks more realistic for it.
Men are intolerably hard to buy for, and unless you fancy knitting jumpers (which will inevitably turn out wrong) making them gifts can be even harder. Last year, I managed to find a wooden box for Dad to keep his collection of antique maps in, painted it the same colour as his study and lined it with silk. This time, I decided to do something for his paperwork/stationary/general gubbins.
A cheap paper storage box…
A very old, very tatty well-travelled map…
A combination of the above, and some PVA.
Ready for wrapping.
Points to consider:
- Use a decorative paper personal to the recipient. For my dad, I used maps of places we’ve lived, been on holiday etc.
- Other ideas are: sheet music, sports pages from newspapers, a favourite book (I’m not advocating that you destroy their first edition, but getting a cheap paperback version from a charity shop might be an idea), dress patterns, recipes etc. The list is endless.
- You can fill the box with other gifts as a really personal hamper.
I have the biggest craft I’ve tackled yet to show you… I’m just waiting for a few more things before I hit the interwebs with the awesomeness that is this upcycling. Meanwhile, if anyone knows where I can score me some upholstry foam, then I’d be most grateful to hear about it! 😛
Rather than faff with sachets of powder which inevitably spill it all over the kitchen side, I thought I’d make these real hot chocolate stirrers to dress up mugs for friends and family.
- Some decent chocolate
- Some lolly sticks/spoons
- an ice-cube tray
- any dressing you want. i.e. mini marshmallows or butterscotch chips.
All you need to do is melt your chocolate and fill the ice cube tray. I used dark choc for flavour, topped with white chocolate for sweetness. Once you’ve done that, sink your lolly stick/spoon into the cubes, sprinkle with any extras and leave to set. Don’t be tempted to put this in the fridge, as you’re risking sugar bloom which never looks good.
Ready for the fridge. I know I told you not to put yours in there, and this is how I know you shouldn’t! Sugar bloom is bad. Except in this case when it’s good because it means I need to keep and use all of the sticks.
Nom nom nom!
All finished – sugar bloom carefully hidden for the picture.
Dunk it in your milk. Vanilla soya milk makes outstanding hot chocolate, if you’re interested.
Points to consider:
- Does your recipient tend to add sugar to regular hot chocolate? If so, milk and white chocolate, marshmallows and butterscotch are probably a good idea.
- Does your recipient like fancy chocs? You could add orange, rum or peppermint essence and give a ‘variety’ pack
- These could be made using shaped moulds for children.
Well, this is about the single, easiest tutorial ever. In short: take kirby grip, slip shaft-button on. Wear.
Combine the items (Horadric Cubes make this easier).
Sell your newly crafted item to passing merchants for gold. Spend less time playing games.
Points to consider:
- If your button shaft is baggy – and I am fully aware that somehow, that sounded like a euphamism – you can stop the button from moving aroound too much by fixing the under side with a little glue. Please don’t be as impatient as I am though, and try to wear straight after applying the adhesive.
- If anyone wants to see, I can show you a way of turning these guys into a cute skull-and-cross-bones card. I just didn’t think it was so Christmassy…
- This makes an ideal gift for any relatives living far away as the grips don’t cost more than a normal letter to post. Card and gift in one – score.
Hey there all you lovely knitters and sewers. I have something to ask of you.
It’s a tough subject to write about, as no one wants to think of their hard work ending up in a charity shop – unwanted by the recipient you slaved away for – but the reality is that from time to time, this happens. And I bet you’d rather they end up in the charity shop than the bin, right?
I’m not sure whether the English crafters here need to listen up too but for those of you in Scotland, USE WASHING INSTRUCTION LABELS. Please. Even if you just play it safe and get ones which say ‘dry clean only’.
To explain: Mum started volunteering for Barnardos in Inverurie (near Aberdeen for those unfamiliar with the geography of Grampian) and it’s policy there not to put anything out in the shop unless it has washing instructions on. If things don’t, they go for recycling. And all that work… gets turned into wall insulation. So please, because it pains me so, so much to think of things that have been worked so hard at thrown out, get some labels…
(This is where I got my logo labels from. Geeky Sweetheart found hers on this site, and these guys also look really good – all will print washing instruction labels for a very small outlay.)
A very kind lady gave me a copy of Mass Effect 3. I am giddy playing this thing. Yeah, you can make fun all you want but I am an unashamed whore for Bioware so… and it means I own my very own game. It’s all mine. I never have to give it back – take that Blockbuster!
I can play as many times as I like. Now that’s a dizzying concept.
Picking up the slack here at home while I don my Sheperd suit, S- has been making schnapps and toys.
What do you guys think? Paint this?
Bub loves this a crazy amount. Everything new must be tested by trial of hole.
Speaking of Bub – I’ve not been totally idle. After the success of her last dress, I thought I’d give this tutorial a go. Sent to me by the wonderful Cybele via Pinterest, I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, but finally got around to it this morning.
A close up – non-moving target allowed this to happen.
So yeah. That’d be about it.
Got some crazy-easy upcycled button things coming soon. Until then, I have to go meet Garrus and prove – once and for all – that I’m the better shot 😛
For the foodie in your family, you might want to try your hand at making chilli oil. Usually costing as much as £3.19 for a scant 250ml bottle, the homemade alternative is not only cheaper, but you also have a greater degree of control over how hot the oil is!
I used olive oil from Aldi – pretty good stuff, and voted amongst the best available by Which magazine – but even at Waitrose, you can pick up olive oil that costs £3.19 per litre – essentially giving you four bottles of chilli oil for the price of one.
I used the BBC food recipe, which called for dried chillies, however since I have my own chilli plant I was reluctant to pay extra. I ended up drying fresh ones myself – I just chopped a few very finely and placed them in a ramakin dish while the oven cooled one evening. I also dried a few whole ones on a baking tray at the same time to decorate the bottles. If you don’t fancy drying your own, you can usually buy some from Asian supermarkets fairly cheaply.
As for the bottles, mine actually came from German beer (Flensburger). On the continent, it’s fairly standard practise to return glass bottles to the brewery for refilling. On purchase of the beer, you pay something which the Danes call ‘Pant’, on top of the cost of the drink. You then get this back if you return the bottles. It’s such a small amount though, that often we keep them to use for schnapps, sloe gin and in this case, chilli oil. You can find similar things on ebay, in Lakelands and often at local markets.
This isn’t the cheapest of my homemade gifts, but when coupled with some fruit jam, a few chutneys and some homemade soap, it’ll look a million dollars in a food hamper.
Points to consider:
- Carefully plan who you’re making this for and do so at an appropriate time. The longer you leave the chillies in the oil, the hotter it becomes. If your chosen recipient isn’t into vindaloo, I’d recommend making it in November/December. I did mine in June…
- The bottles can be dressed up with luggage tags, raffia and dried chillies to make them look really special.