Jingle bells batman smells… We’re back with another round up of Christmas crafts, but this time they’re ones you can gift to your friends. On Monday, we shared delicious treats that are perfect for giving and today we’ll round out your gift list by adding a few non-edibles for your loved ones. These DIY gifts range from easy to advanced (mostly because of the ingredients), but we explain everything you’d ever need to know in the posts, so hop to it! We also sell a few of these items in our Live Seasoned etsy shop if you’re low on time. All of these homemade gifts have natural, gentle ingredients perfect for any loving home. We also love to pair these items with other handmade goods to really amplify the maker aspect of these presents. We love supporting other crafters and creators so after you whip up these potions, browse around on etsy for perfect pairing gifts if you think your loved ones deserve a little more this holiday season.
Today we’re rounding up past Christmas crafts. While Sarah was busy ordering gifts yesterday, I was finishing up the decorating. I love to get everything up as soon as possible so that there’s plenty of time to enjoy it (plus, I need the decorating out of the way so that I have every extra moment left to think about gift shopping!). If you’re taking your time and in need of decorations, we put together a list of past DIY projects that we made, love, and were excited to put out again this year.
This list provides a range of projects from those that can be finished in 30 minutes to others that may take a few hours, and the skill-level required varies from the simple to the more complex. In addition to decorating your house, some of these projects like the felt and cinnamon ornaments make great gift tags. What we have here is a little bit of something for everyone.
Merry Monday everyone! Christmas is coming quicker than I can handle, so while I shop online today, I’m also going to whip up a few homemade Christmas gifts that everyone on my list will enjoy. I love giving and receiving edible gifts. Knowing the treats were made with love and care in someone’s kitchen makes them extra enjoyable. If you still don’t have a present for me, here are a few suggestions 😉
Hey there! If you’ve been following along, you may know that Calder and I bought a house in March and moved in a week or so before little Luc was born. It could have been a crazy and hectic time, but all in all, it wasn’t that bad (really!). We were lucky that our new house was in great shape did not require any major work. In fact, the only thing I want to change about the house are the colors of the walls. The walls are painted shades of beige. It’s nice enough that we can live with them for a while, but eventually I would love to brighten everything up and paint most rooms white.
To give you an idea of where I’m going: between the mountain views outside our windows, the wooden trim and furniture, and eventual white walls, I’m feeling inspired my many of the elements common to Scandinavian design. I want to add pops of color with the artwork on the walls, the furniture and other elements that can easily be changed within the rooms. That said, we took a big risk and added a huge mural across one wall in Alex’s room. Luckily it turned out great! Today I’m going to share snapshots from his room and in a follow-up post I’ll provide a more detailed tutorial and tips about how we painted the mural.
Lemon is our ingredient of the season! So far we’ve used it in a buckle, in bars, in a savory pasta, and in the shower. Oh, and there are a couple of lemon popsicle recipes! This is also one of our many essential oil posts.
Hands down, one of our favorite perks at the beach is the outdoor shower. We love it for clearing away the sand after a day at the beach, but we also love to bring sand INTO the shower in the form of scrubs. Today’s lemon, sugar, and sand scrub is the perfect zesty indulgence as we’re looking to make the most of these late summer days.
How many times have you google searched cheap prints? I have a l o t. Pretty much every time I have a show or event. I’m always trying to figure out the best way to produce LARGE photographs inexpensively. Katie recently introduced me to a new method: Engineer Prints. Engineer prints reproduce line drawings and graphics with high definition and contrast, but they’re also really great for making large black and white photography prints. Engineer prints are the perfect low-cost option when you’re looking for a statement piece without the price tag. Since these prints range from only a buck to $10, the quality is obviously not fit for The Louvre, but they’re definitely awesome enough for a wall in your home or as a focal point at your next art show.
In addition to sharing our love of engineer prints, we also wanted to show you a simple way to add some structure to your print before hanging it. This will help to turn the image from something that looks like a poster into a more substantial piece of art.
Happy Earth Day (again)! We’re excited to check in this afternoon with a second post, especially one about making a space for native bees in your backyard!
You may not be aware, but the honey bees that we all know and love for the pollination services and delicious honey are not native to North America. The bees arrived in North America by Europeans in the 17th century, and they are such efficient pollinators that over time our agriculture became dependent upon the insects. This dependency is due in part to honey bees living in such large colonies that we are able to easily move from field to field in portable hives. I love the idea of fostering different habitats in our backyard for a variety of animals from birds to insects to mammals; especially since observing these animals in our backyard is such a simple way to introduce and connect Alex and Luc to nature. As such, one day I would love to have a colony of honeybees in my backyard, but I know that requires time that I don’t have right now to learn about their care and monitor the hives throughout the year, not to mention the work that would be required to collect the honey. Meanwhile, our native bees are really interesting insects that receive relatively little attention yet are the perfect guests for a low maintenance backyard! Knowing that, we thought Earth Day was the perfect time to encourage everyone to invite these gentle creatures into your yard!
Today when discussing native bees, we’re referring specifically to Mason Bees, of which, there are over 100 species in North America. Unlike honey bees that live in large colonies, Mason bees are solitary insects and they do not produce honey. Another difference between the two types of bees is that Mason bees do not sting unless squeezed or stepped on. For that reason and for their interesting nesting habits (read more below!), they are a great bee to encourage to nest in your backyard; kids will enjoy watching them create their nests without the threat of being stung!
Macrame has long been my favorite fiber art. Although there are some crazy complex macrame pieces out there, when it comes down to it, you’re just tying knots! Making macrame plant hangers are similar to making friendship bracelets except on a slightly larger scale and at the end of the summer you don’t have to cut them off. This project is great for beginngers and advanced fiber artists alike (yes, you’ll be a fiber artist if you create one of these plant hangers 😉 ) because you can tie a couple familiar knots or mess around with complex combinations of knots – it’s totally up to you. I’m basically giving you an outline of how to make a plant hanger, but I want you to flex your creative muscles and make it your own unique macrame piece. I wouldn’t mind seeing a few of the finished pieces either, so feel free to tag us.
Oranges our our ingredient of the season. We have big plans for a winter of zesty recipes and sweet crafts.
Hey Spring Cleaners! Ok, I know it’s a little early for that. Hey, conscious cleaners! (How was that?) Do you buy green cleaning products for your home? Ones that aren’t so harsh and better for your kids, pet, waters and earth? I hope you do! I currently use Green Legacy garbage bags because they’re big, tough and biodegradable and for cleaning I use Legacy of Clean products. Personally, I cannot use Clorox or any other really smelly cleaners. I quickly develop a really big headache that just doesn’t go away. It’s probably because the chemicals are poisoning my brain or because I’m really sensitive to smells, who knows, I’m no doctor.
Anyway, if you don’t use natural cleansers, you can always start now with this easy natural orange cleaner. You just need a couple of items and a little bit of time to brew a batch. It’s super simple and you might even enjoy the smell of your cleaning products! This concoction uses white vinegar which is high effective at killing mold, bacteria, mildew and other household germs. If you don’t have a big jug of vinegar, go grab one! Vinegar is cheap and you get to leave the harmful fumes and toxic counterparts of other cleaners at the store. Vinegar is also biodegradable so you can wash it down drains and toilets without adding more chemicals to our water system.
Natural Orange Cleaner Ingredients:
- 1 16-ounce jar (or any glass container with a lid)
- a heap of orange peals (I used about three oranges worth)
- vinegar to cover
Natural Orange Cleaner Instructions:
- Eat a few oranges. Place the peels inside of your empty glass jar.
- Cover with vinegar. Screw the lid on and place in a dark, cool spot for a couple of weeks.
- After a few weeks (or a few months – if you forgot it like I did) strain the concoction so you’re left with only the vinegar. I like to add one part orange vinegar + one part water to a spray bottle for general cleaning.
Katie here: if you want to make a cleaner that you can use immediately, a quick and dirty trick is to use orange essential oil rather than soaking the fresh peels. Make a mixture of 1/2 cup vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon orange essential oil, then you can further dilute it with water as Sarah does.
I’ve used this mix on everything in my kitchen, bathroom and living room. Counters, tables, floors, sinks, molding, walls, etc. and it has always worked like a charm. Like I said, I dilute my mixture by 50% with water to tone it down a bit. I also always finish cleaning by wiping each surface with water so there’s no vinegar left sitting on my wood floors and other sensitive areas. I have read that vinegar is capable of deteriorating exposed window seals, dishwasher gaskets, and unsealed grout over time, so these surfaces should be rinsed with water after they are cleaned. Like any cleaning product warning, I suggest test cleaning on inconspicuous areas first to make sure this product is safe for your purposes. You could also google the specific materials you’ll be cleaning to see if there’s any information on how vinegar will react to them. So far I’ve only had positive results and lucky for me, this product keeps me headache free!
Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Did you get your tree? We had a disappointing, but funny, experience at a local tree “farm”. In more uplifting news, I was excited to realize that we’re almost done with the Christmas shopping! Unbelievable, right? Of course, there’s still a bit of Christmas crafting to do, but I’m feeling confident that it will get done. As a result, I had time to work on some of the decorations that have been on my list. First up ~ some super simple and quick Christmas trees for our mantel.
As I mentioned in my Elving post a couple of weeks ago, browsing Pinterest provided the inspiration for many of my Christmas decorations this year, including these simple Christmas trees. It started when I found an image from this post. I liked the simplicity of those trees and that they were made using balsa wood (no power tools or hard cutting required). I wasn’t as excited about how they were put together – mainly using glue to hold the pieces together. Having also come across this wooden tree post, I knew there was an easier way to build the same tree. And really, between those two posts, you have all the information you need for this project, but I’m happy to share my process photos below. And again I want to stress how quick these trees were to make – with all of the materials on hand, it took me less than an hour and a half to make the five trees from first cut to last dash of glitter!
Materials & Tools
- balsa wood
- Mod Podge
- Exacto knife
- cutting mat or board
About the wood : You can find balsa wood at many crafts stores, but not all (some Joann’s and some Michael’s carry it, but not all). If you’ve never worked with it, balsa wood is extremely soft and very easy to cut with an exacto or craft knife. It comes is a variety of thicknesses and widths, and there is no strict rules as to what you should buy for this project. I picked up two 36” long and 1/8” thick balsa boards; one was 3” wide and the other was 4” wide.
- Cut two isosceles triangles of the same size. I found that it was easy to do this without using a pen or pencil. Just mark the height of your triangle with a small cut, noting with a poke of your knife where the middle point of the board is width-wise. For example, the tree I’m cutting in the photo above is going to be 5” tall on the 3” wide board. The middle top point of the triangle is at the 31” mark on the ruler above. To cut the sides of the triangle, just place your ruler on the board, so that the ruler’s edge is at a diagonal from one of the bottom triangle points to the top middle point (as I did in the photo above). Make a cut along the ruler, and then follow this same process to cut the other side of the triangle.
- Following the image above, cut the slits that will be used to fit your triangles together. You want to cut a slit in each triangle that is as wide as the width of your wood (1/8” in my case). One piece will have a slit that runs from the top middle of the triangle halfway down the height of the tree. The other triangle will have a slit that runs from the bottom middle of the triangle halfway up the height of the tree.
- Put your tree together! Placing the triangles perpendicular to each other, slide the piece with the bottom cut down over the piece with the top cut. You’ll produce a free-standing tree that looks like the photo above.
- Decorate your tree! I put a layer of Mod Podge on the upper portion of my trees, and then sprinkled iridescent and gold glitters over the surface. Do what you want: you could leave your trees natural, add glitter, or paint!
- Repeat the process making trees of different heights. From the 3” wide board I made two trees that are 6” high and one that is 5” high. From the 4” board I made two 8” high trees.
I used these trees for simple forest scene on the mantel ~ pairing them with a cute little wooden tree from Michael’s and a couple of old glass trees that were once candy dishes (they have an opening on the bottom, but without their lids, they’re just glass trees). In addition to the trees, I added a few beeswax candles that were leftover from our wedding. You can read about how we made the candles (choosing your wick is key) and cut the green bottles here and here.
It’s so much fun to see the trees sparkle in the candlelight and to see their shadows on the wall. Calder mentioned that they also look like mountain peaks, which I think is really true when they are grouped together creating overlapping shadows!