Tag Archives: DIY

All wrapped up- Quick and easy gift tags

So I prefer to create home made presents for Christmas. Ben has a lot of family and buying up to two dozen presents on one wage can be difficult. In the past we’ve made roasted garlic in olive oil, chutney, breakfast hampers with nice mugs, homemade preserves, homemade muesli and teas, and all sorts of things.

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Mum, Dad and my sister’s gifts just asking to be tagged (and some of my summer reading behind it).

This year, we ran out of time and energy and bought most of our gifts. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t have homespun wrapping. As well as salt dough ornaments, our gifts this year are wrapped with easy peasy gift tags.

There was no template or fuss, just chopping paper into slips and then trimming the edges to look like old fashioned tags and punching a hole in the narrow end. I used the same stamps as the salt dough ornaments to put some pretty on them. Yellow paper for Ben’s family tags and brown for mine.

I think they turned out nicely.

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What do you think?

Do you make any gifts from scratch?

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Nailed it- Salt Dough Ornaments

So this year I jumped on the Salt Dough trend train that I saw all over Pinterest. It was super easy and although my attempts were a bit clumsy (see zombie gingerbread boy below), I had fun and made a cute decoration to go next to people’s gift tag.

 

YOU WILL NEED:

2 cups white flour

1 cup salt

1 cup water

(optional: food dye, cinnamon, etc.)

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Add your ingredients together and knead. I should have done this for longer, because the dough wasn’t as smooth after it had cooked as I would have liked.

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Roll out thinly. I used my super duper marble rolling pin that was a gift from Ben a couple of years back, but even a wine bottle with work (and did for me for many years).

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The thinner you roll it, the better it works out. Our better ones were the ones that were quite thin.

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We stamped patterns into them using a standard ink and stamp set. Holes were made by pressing then end of a drinking straw into the dough. I used all the dough that wasn’t stamped to roll out another layer and make even more ornaments. The second batch I remembered to flour the bench!

We baked them in the oven at 100C for 3 hours. We ended up baking them for closer to 4.5 because some were a bit thick.

TIPS: I sprayed the baking paper on my trays very lightly, but found that my ornaments stuck to the bench and didn’t want to move without stretching, so I had to be very careful. The trade off, however, is if you flour the bench you end up with dusty ornaments. I’d probably spray the bench next time. Also, keep the oven temperature down- you’re drying out the dough, not cooking it! If your oven is too high, your dough with brown and your ornaments won’t be white/off-white.

Everybody has an ornament on their present. Except this little guy, who will be leading the zombie apocalypse:

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I’ll be posting one or two more restaurant reviews and using the same stamps that I used for salt dough ornaments to make some gift tags for presents. Gift tags are much safe than dough!

If you’re not online much over the holiday period, I hope they’re everything you want them to be.

Stay safe. Avoid zombies.

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DIY Lavender Eye Pillows. Anyone could make them!

So I love making gifts.

If only my lavender plant still looked like this. Brown thumb!

If only my lavender plant still looked like this. Brown thumb!

I made several lavender eye pillows because I had lot of birthdays and found good quality loose lavender from Handmade Naturals on Gladstone Road in Highgate Hill.

I started by figuring out how big I wanted the pillows by using my own eye pillow (the purple one) to measure the size. You might recognise the fabric from my maxi skirt post.

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I made the first one by hand until Ben took pity on my and used the sewing machine to help me. I married the right man.

It’s as simple as it looks: folded the wrong way, sew two sides. Turn the right way out, fill with lavender, then fold edges in and sew last side (or hand sew using backstitch, which I did for the one you see above).

About five eye pillows (one super big one is not shown here) for less than half an hour's work. The blue ones have a plain blue fabric on the other side.

About five eye pillows (one super big one is not shown here) for less than half an hour’s work. The blue ones have a plain blue fabric on the other side.

One of the great things about this gift is that you can use up pretty fabric scraps you have, as you can see I did here. The black and white fabric was used for a skirt, the Morrocan white and blue is destined to be a table cloth.

I tied these up with a spray bottle of rosewater with a piece of raffia (and when I had run out, brown string) but of course these could be part of a much larger gift, or a simple “just because” gift. Ben has also made much larger versions of these using old denim and beans/rice as heat packs. These were the coziest things in winter (and lived inside our clothes and blankets!).

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Cute and easy. A great last-minute Christmas gift.

Do you make any gifts at Christmas? What sorts?

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Work It

So I made a maxi skirt the other day and discussed how I would wear it. But if I want to corporate it up, I would wear it like this. And I did.

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DIY Maxi Skirt- fun with prints

So I caught the DIY maxi skirt craze.

I really wanted some long, modest skirts I could wear to work (I don’t have to dress corporate) that didn’t cost the earth.

I found some beautiful fabric at Spotlight and looked at a million Pinterest pages and then decided on following this method from Lady Melbourne.

It’s basically folding down the top of the fabric twice to make a space for elastic, folding it over and stitching the side seam, adding the elastic and sewing it in and finally, hemming to the length you like.

The problem with my fabric is that the pattern was facing the wrong way! I had to make a very slim cut skirt with only one seam (down the back) and, because I like walking, I made a slit in the back. This was done by unpicking (ugh. Won’t make that mistake next skirt) the side seam up to my knee, then folding over the edges of the fabric and hemming, followed by stitching the top of the slit a lot so it wouldn’t accidentally open as I traipse up stairs at work.

Ok, and when I say “I”, I mean “Ben” because I don’t know how to use a sewing machine, but my awesome seamster husband does. So I designed, cut and pinned it and Ben sews it like the awesome tailor he is. You can barely see where the fabric lines up. Wife-husband team win.

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There are two more skirts to come. One of the other pieces of fabric (chevron print) also will be quite slim as a skirt and might need to be a pencil skirt, but the floral one should be all swooshy and lovely. I’ll post pictures as they are born.

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This skirt looks good with a black top and brown or red belt, but also works with my grey singlet with leopard print skull. A big pair of sunnies, a top knot and a pair of boots and that’s all the attitude you need during an Aussie summer.

Why not make one (or dozens) for people for Christmas? Or just yourself.

Yeah, just yourself.

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I made it: Laundry Detergent

Sweet Sweet Savings.

Sweet Sweet Savings.

So now that I’m revelling in the luxury of our new place (albeit on that we’ve had to caulk grouting ourselves and have to put in our own curtains at some point), I decided to make my own laundry detergent.

Why on earth would you do this, hippy?

Good question.

Firstly, our new place is $45 per week more expensive, and I wrote in previous posts that I’ve actually accepted four days a week work this year. It’s important that Ben and I make savings wherever possible, and things like eating out and unnecessary costs have been cut down. In addition to this, we’ve also re-jigged our budget to suit this so we can still save, pay of the credit card (nearly there, no thanks to all the work I had to get done on my car near the end of last year!) and buy our own washing machine (a super perk of a bathroom with a laundry space. Our Laundromat days are nearly over). More on these things later. Mostly, it was because we were nearly out of laundry detergent, and that shit is expensive.

I’d been wanting to do this for a while. The recipe for this was one I’d seen on Rhonda Hetzel’s super duper amazing Down to Earth blog and was also published in her recent Penguin book of the same name (I love that book SO MUCH). I’d found some Borax ($8-10) at Bunnings as it’s hard to find at supermarkets these days. Even at Bunnings, there was lots of varieties that had other things added to it. I found washing soda ($4) (not baking or bi-carb) and pure soap ($2 for 4 bars) in the laundry aisle of the supermarket. You might have to have a slow mosey to find these, as these are often generic brands or poorly placed on the shelf. My total cost for ingredients was about $16 and I found them over a couple of months.

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If you use pure soap flakes (like Lux), you simply dump a cup into 1.5 litres of water in a saucepan on the stove. If you want to make this even cheaper and get pure soap bars, grate it yourself, or better yet, chop/bash it up roughly then put it in the food processor until it’s dust. It melts even faster this way.

Next, heat your saucepan on medium, stirring, until the soap completely melts (it took me about 10 minutes). There should be no trace of granules, it should look like a clear soup (and yellow, if you use pure soap).

Add ½ cup of washing soda and ½ a cup of borax. Rhonda recommends leaving out the borax if you use your laundry water on the garden, especially vegetables. Stir until thickened then remove from heat. All of the utensils I used were my regular kitchen items, you just have to make sure you don’t leave soap traces in your saucepan/ food processor when you wash it.

Pour this into a bucket then fill up the rest of the bucket (you’ll probably add 9L of water, my bucket here is a little bigger, which suits a klutz like me perfectly). Stir a lot. It thickens as it cools. The more you stir, the less it will separate and the smoother it will be.

Separate into storage containers. As you can see, I cashed in on Ben’s soft drink addiction. I labelled the containers not because it goes off, but because I’m curious to see how long it lasts us.

You will need to shake this for a couple of minutes before use as it does separate again in storage. The soap will clump together and you’ll get a clear section at the bottom of your bottle. This is fine. You can add essential oils to the bucket or individual containers if you wish.

Use ¼ to ½ cup per load. Use as a stain remover directly on clothes. Use as a floor cleaner added to a bucket of hot water. Remember that this does not have detergents in it like commercial products, so it foams less even though it’s still doing a good job.

Total cost for 10 Litres of laundry liquid= $2- $2.50 and lots of ingredients left over to make more.

Compare this with 1L of Cold Power Advance Liquid Ultra Concentrate which is $10.24 at Coles, or Coles Laundry Liquid Top Loader Ultra Concentrate 875mL at $5.59 (or $6.39/ litre). That would be $102.40 and $63.90 respectively for 10 litres.

Totally worth that trip to Bunnings.

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