Take the Handmade Pledge

I Took The Handmade Pledge! BuyHandmade.org

Take the Handmade Pledge this holiday season. I just did, and this will be going on about five years we’ll be giving only handmade gifts for Christmas.

Here’s a blurb from the Buy Handmade website:

Buying handmade is better for people, better for the environment, and better for giving truly special and well-crafted gifts. The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us all dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. The connection between producer and consumer has been lost. Buying handmade helps them reconnect.

We encourage all consumers to be aware of the social and environmental implications of their purchases.

Christmas Crafts: Bath Goodies (finished)


Wally and I finished up the bath and body items we started a few days ago. We were done before I realized the camera was still on the shelf…

But. We made bath salts (very easy, just stir together), Healing Salve, and Lotion Bars. The lotion bars were made with cocoa butter and they smell n-i-c-e. I’ve never made salve (just like lip balm, really) or lotion before, though I’ve wanted for a long time, and I was surprised at how easy it was! Just melt the ingredients together and pour into containers!

The toughest part of balms and lotions seems to be finding the right mix of ingredients to suit your own personal tastes. There are lots of website out there to help, though! My two favorites are Majestic Mountain Sage (where I purchased all my supplies) and Prairieland Herbs. I also remember browsing the Not Martha site, which then led me to see what Martha herself had to say on the subject.

So now we’re done with Phase II of making Christmas presents. I even finished up the (french seamed) gift bags that I’m going to put these little goodies in during Wally’s nap today.

So….I spent $70 on supplies (yike), including containers but not including things like honey and oatmeal that I already had in my cupboard. I used only a small portion of the ingredients I bought, intending to keep experimenting and making these well past Christmas. Plus I’m hoping that the recipients will return their empty containers when they’re done, so So…let’s say that 2/3 of that amount was for Christmas, which is still pretty generous, I think. So $46. I’m making gifts for 7 women, so that comes to $6.60 per person.

Add in the fabric for the gift bags: I bought it for $1.50 a yard, used 1 yard: $.21 per person. Add in some incidental expense for the labels (I already owned the label paper, but will undoubtedly need to replace it in the future). Those are $30 for a box of 100, $.30 each. I used 6 sheets, $1.80, so $.26 per person.

Total for all the women in the family: $7.07 each. Not bad.

Christmas Crafts: Bath Goodies


Today I started on the next set of Christmas gifts – lotions, balms, and other bath goodies for the ladies. I meant to take pictures of the process, but the processes are either time -sensitive, or I needed to keep a very close eye on my little helper, so I didn’t get as many pics as I intended.

Vinegar Hair Rinse

First up was Natural Hair Rinse, an excellent alternative to commercial hair conditioners. Made from apple cider vinegar, water, and essential oils. Easy peasy. I’ve been using this for much longer than I’ve been doing anything else Granola-like.

Sugar Scrub

Next, Sugar Scrub. Mmmmm. Also very easy. Brown sugar, oil, and vanilla. (Edible, too, as Wally discovered. “Mmmm. That’s Good!”)

Wally Helping

Here’s my adorable helper, making his “smile” face. He helped dump ingredients into the bowl, stir, and spoon the scrub into the tubs while I labeled them. (look at how efficient I am – the crockpot in the background is actually cooking our dinner – leftover turkey mixed with BBQ sauce.)

Sugar Scrub

And the completed sugar scrub.

The most involved item of the day was the lip balm. First we measured out the ingredients (Shea butter, olive oil, beeswax, avocado oil, EOs) using my digital postal scale (which is actually a kitchen scale), then we melted them in a glass measuring cup placed inside a hot water bath.

Melting the Balm Ingredients

After everything was all melted together, I stirred in the essential oil and then quickly quickly filled up my little containers. This was my first time making lip balm, and I didn’t realize that the recipe I was following would make about a metric ton of balm, so I filled all my containers and had a LOT left over. I’m going to see if I can find more containers locally tomorrow, then remelt the leftover and put it into containers and store it in the fridge.

If you decide to make your own lip balm at home, you might think about covering the floor and work surfaces with old newspapers.

Just in case.

Just in case you somehow manage to knock over your glass measuring cup still half-full of melted lip balm.

I’m just sayin’.

Christmas Crafts


This year, again, we’re going 100% homemade for Christmas presents. Here’s the first batch of gifts, all finished and ready to go. I even have the fabric gift bags done, though those are not pictured here. (But you can see them here. I’m swiping the SpongeBob and Scooby ones for these presents.)

First, raw-edge applique Tshirts for all of the kids in the family, except one teenage boy, who we deemed to be too cool for such a gift.

Tshirt 1
This is for Paige, my sister’s teenage daughter. I think it’s really cute! An interesting side note, I get Paige’s hand-me-downs. The child is very very tall and so beautiful. This is actually not raw-edge applique like the others. I mounted the circles to a separate piece of fabric, put them BEHIND the tshirt, sewed around the circles, then cut out the red Tshirt to expose the circles. I found myself mulling over whether this would work one day while driving, and am pleased to report that it turned out really good!

Tshirts 2

Yoda for my youngest nephew. I used white flannel on a black Tshirt and I think it looks nice. I hope it stays that way!! The pig is for neice #2, who likes pigs. She’s starting to outgrow the pig obsession a bit, but I couldn’t resist this cute clipart pig for her.

Tshirts 3

Flowers are for neice #1, I thought they were cute and without being too cutesy. The ballerina is for her sister, neice #3.

Tshirt 4

This flower is for Paige, I thought she needed two Tshirts. The elphant is for Wally. It’s a size 4/5, so it should fit him for a looooong time!

Next: Pillowcases. Pillowcases are fun, right? And they’re easy. I made all of these with French seams, so there are no raw or serged edges sticking out. They’re oversize, to make it easier for children to get their pillows in.

Pillowcases 1

Hannah Montana for neice #1, who L-O-V-E-S this show. Lizzie McGuire for her sister, neice #3. There are iron-ons I made from images I swiped from the Disney website. I hope they last!

Pillowcases 2

Star Wars for both nephews. Though they are about 5 years apart in age, they both love Star Wars.

Pillowcases 3

Tink for Paige, and Bratz for neice #2. This was a toughie for me, as I hate Bratz because they’re whores. But she really loves Bratz, and her mom suggested Bratz, and didn’t really have any other suggestions. I struggled with this, but ultimately decided that if I want others to respect what we suggest for Wally’s gifts, I need to respect what they suggest.

So there you have it. It feels good to have these done. It took, all told, about a day and a half of work, a nice diversion from diaper sewing.

As a side note, I bought all of the Tshirts secondhand. Most of them came from the Salvation Army (and are all brand names like Gap and Abercrombie), the ones for Paige came from Once Upon A Child. They were the most expensive, at $2.50 each. The others were all $1 each. The fabric for the appliques themselves was all stuff I had onhand, scraps I’d been saving over the years. So, average Tshirt cost: $1.43

The pillowcases are all new material. I purchased the fabrics over the course of a few weeks using 50% coupons. The Bratz fabric was on clearance (go figure) for $1 a yard, and the Tink and Star Wars fabrics were the most expensive at $5.99 a yard (minus 50% makes it $3 a yard). The solids were all $.50-$1 per yard after coupon and discounts. Each pillowcase takes about a yard of fabric. Even after factoring in $2 for the 2 sheets of iron-on transfer paper, the average pillowcase cost is $1.91.

So, there you go. Presents for all but one of my neices and nephews for an average of $3.34 per child. (The oldest nephew will be getting a pillowcase, and then I’m going to make him candy like I’m making for all the adult men.)