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homemade

Craftiness, Thrifty

Cinnamon Christmas Bird Ornaments

11 December, 2012


There has been an image doing the rounds on Pinterest, of some homemade, cinnamon smelling heart shapes. I am SURE you will have seen them, possibly you are one of the millions of people who re-pinned it. Because it’s genius, no? Who doesn’t want a house smelling like Christmas, and the wondrous smuggity feeling of having created that pong yourself?

(Some people get this same feeling on the Underground. They let one go and the whole carriage is retching, and they are thinking to themselves, all proud, “I did that.”  I SO know who guffed when I look around a crowd like this, Tube Farters nearly always fit into one extreme –  either Mr I Dealt It You Smelt It with the subtly vainglorious posture, or the opposite purple-faced, Wishing They Could Squeeze Out Of The Crack in the Doors mortified soul.)

Putting together some ingredients to fill your home with the heavenly smog of cinnamonny Christmas is a winner, so I got some stuff together and made it happen.

The gorgeous, original recipe is Stateside so calls for applesauce and bulk cinnamon, of which I had access to neither so here is how I did it:

To make 6 birds and 6 hearts you need….

1 huge apple, peeled and cubed

1 35gram pot of ground mixed spice

1 35gram pot of cinnamon

  • Put the apple in a pan along with a table spoon of water, cover and simmer on low until it is totally soft. It doesn’t take long, around 20 minutes.
  • Leave to cool then blend using a whizzer/ blender until it is smooth as a babies bum.
  • Stir in your spices, bit by bit. Soon you won’t be able to stir, you’ll need to get in with your hands and knead it. You want it to be totally combined. It will be just like a dark dough. Keep adding more spice until it is super dry, like a biscuit dough.
  • I used one pot of cinnamon and one mixed spice as the pots of mixed spice are dead cheap, but still smell lush.
  • Pop your oven on to Gas Mark 2 to heat up.
  • Roll your dough out, using spice like flour so it doesn’t stick.
  • Cut out your shapes.  (Why, YES, I DID use my home made cookie cutter – of course, you could make any shape your fancied!)
  • Push a skewer through to make a hole for hanging.
  • Put on baking tray, with a light dusting of spice on the bottom.
  • Leave in oven for 1 – 1.5  hours or until completely rock hard. (Mine didn’t take long as we have a really hot fire and brimstone oven from the 50’s)
  • Once they are cool thread them up with some ribbon and hang!
  • I also did a layer of  home made mod podge and glitter, to give them an extra sparkle, the smell is still super strong.

handmade christmas cinnamon decoration birds

Happy Christmas pong creating!

Craftiness, Thrifty

DIY Cookie Cutter

29 November, 2012

Just a really quick post today, I am running around like a blue arsed fly getting things ready for the Oxford Street Fairtrade Christmas market on Saturday – woooo!

I needed a cool bird (it HAD to be a bird) cookie cutter to make a Christmas decoration with, and our collection is limited to one lonely, lowly gingerbread man shape. We make gingerbread men biscuits all the time (I say we, but Tim is really the baker), they are Ramona’s faves- she calls them “The Boys”, which makes for quite cute exclamations like “YUMMMMY! ME LIKE BOYS!”

I had a rummage in our Throw-Everything-In cupboard and came up trumps with a ream of sturdy metal. Anything would have done – a strip of copper, or the bottom of one of those aluminum take away trays cut into a strip would be ideal (especially as you wouldn’t have any questions abut toxicity.)

I sketched the shape I wanted, and with a pair of pliers bent it into a bird.

I am SO excited by this new prospect of being able to twist metal into a myriad of shapes – it will be nice to have quirky biscuits, but also I am thinking about being able to cut shapes out of air-drying clay. Wheeeee!

*Forgets the Christmas Fayre and spends day with a pair of pliers*

Craftiness, DIY, Thrifty

Homemade Rosehip Oil – a bit of thrifty foraging

16 October, 2012




*sings* Tis the season to pick rosehips, tralalalalaaaalalalala!

When I was pregnant the last time I was sent a tiny, expensive vial of rosehip oil. Oof, it was LUSH.  It is apparently amazing for stretch marks and scars and also adds a pre-emptive resilience to your skin. However, not one to waste such an ingredient on my vast, mostly unseen belly I used it on my face and it ended up softer and smoother than my newborn’s bum.

The oil is all gone now, and I’ve been kind of pining for it lately, knowing I’d never get my mitts on such a fine Frankincense-like substance again. And THEN I googled “rosehips” (oh man, I am such an urbanite) and turns out I like, er, pass them everyday of my life! My front garden is bursting with them, because, of course, they are just the seed pods of old roses! Heavy laden branches of them hang over my head as we walk to the park, their red skin squishes beneath my feet as we trundle to the bus stop. Glory be.

I wanted to make the most of them before all the gardeners cut their roses back, as October is the season for that. And homemade rosehip oil, with it’s skin restoring, vitamin A packed goodness, is about as easy as it gets.  Whilst this method isn’t pure seed oil, this does achieve a huge amount of the goodness and is commonly used extraction method in The Industry.

You Need:

Rosehips

Oil (any oil will do- almond oil is lovely and light for your skin but I went with normal nut oil as it is cheaper and is incredible for your skin all by itself)

Something to warm it in – I used my yoghurt maker, but a slow cooker on lowest setting will do, or keeping the jars in a warm airing cupboard/ on a radiator

A siv with a piece of cloth in/ muslin to strain it through

How to:

I filled one third of my jars with clean, dry rosehips. I topped up with nut oil. I placed in my yoghurt maker for 12 hours then strained into another squeaky clean jar.

The jars need to either be dark (snazzied up Marmite jars?) or kept in a dark place as Rosehip Oil is a little sensitive to light.

A whole jar of thrifty beauty, just like that. I reckon a jar of this – particularly if you made the jar look nice– would be a gorgeous Christmas gift, no?

(Argh, not only have I gawn and got a Christmas tune in your head, I’ve actually gawn and said the word! That’s it folks, you know what that means. It’s festive frivolity from here on in. WOO!)

(Meanwhile, my foraging neighbour Lakota has also posted about rosehips- with some delicious syrup. HELLO! Linking up with her rosehip sweetness and Ta Da Tuesday.)


Craftiness, Thrifty

Homemade Mod Podge Recipe 2017 – Don’t be hoodwinked!

19 September, 2012

I’m so glad you made it here! There are lots of dubious homemade mod podge recipes out there but this is the one that is perfectly proportioned! The one handed down from crafting whizz to crafting whizz, and now here it is, in your very hands! I first posted this recipe many moons ago (six years ago!) when I was living in London. These days we live in a yurt in New Zealand (seriously!) and I still use this homemade mod podge recipe every single day. I use this homemade mod podge on DIY projects like relining my drawers with beautiful old wall paper, everyday crafts with my daughters and the collage artworks I love to whip up.

Now, in lots of ways I am a hand clapping optimist. I find it really hard to imagine the worst case scenario and always think everything is going to work out, which is often to my detriment. In other ways I am a doubting cynic. When it comes to brands and their promises I am more dubious then Scooby doo smoking doobies in dubiousville.  When a grand claim is made of a product my mind screams “LIES, ALL DAMN LIES!” like some kind of crossed witch.

There are some exceptions:

  • Helmans mayonnaise (no other will do. I can eat this with a spoon for lunch.)

Ummmm.

Okay, actually, I think that is it on my list.

So when I first heard about crafting super power that is Mod Podge I tried to ignore the screamy witch and find out exactly what it is that makes Mod Podge such a delight. First of all I began by trying to find out what Mod Podge is.Wanna know what it is, basically?

Watered down PVA glue.

That’s: Homemade Mod Podge is PVA glue with water in it.

PVA (that you can buy in bulk for a few quid) with water (free)

But people are paying heaps for this crafting Must Have, to do things like decoupage and scrapbooking, that people have done for years with watered down PVA. PVA is also known as Elmer’s glue or woodowrking glue or simply white crafting glue. It is gluggy and sticky and thick and perfect.

I kind of think the people of Mod Podge are trying to fox us all a little bit.

Oh well. Now we know, eh?

Homemade Mod Podge - the actual recipeHomemade Mod Podge Recipe

To make a jar of fake / homemade Mod Podge you need 1 cup of glue and 1/3 cup of water.  These proportions are perfect – don’t mess with them. Other internet recipes for homemade Mod Podge abound but they are TOO WEAK. Beware! Shake really well  and use as you would Mod Podge. To make it gloss add 2 table spoons of water based varnish or to make the sparkly add super fine glitter.

What to make

You can make ANYTHING with this stuff – it is the business! I craft left, right and center with my trusty jar of homemade mod podge!

Decoupage – mod podge is traditionally used to decoupage. This stuff works just as well.
Scrap booking – it is perfect.
Sealing – fling a bit of this over a freshly painted canvas or a craft to seal it all in.

I have even made hardcore DIY recycled flooring with mod podge and paper as the base!

Recently I wanted to try making some decorated pegs. I made some Christmas pegs with ribbon and scrabble tiles in this way but found cutting the fabric and getting it to not fray really tricky. Using homemade Mod Podge on fabric turns it into a paper like substance and makes cutting out fabric a real breeze – perfect for a peg craft, thanks.

Just give the little scraps of fabric a good soaking then leave them to dry as flat as you can. Then snip them up. It is truly ace and made making these pegs so easy. And if you are like me and keep every snippet of beautiful material than this is the PERFECT use!

I used some navy polka dots and even a bit of lace, so simple and quick (excuse the late-at-night in mid-winter photography!)


Does it yellow?
I have been using this for several years and it hasn’t yellowed. Beyond “several years” I can’t answer as I haven’t been making it for ages. However, my gut feeling is that people have been decoupaging for EVER, without things yellowing- and mod podge didn’t actually exist until quite recently. So, yeah.

I made retro fabric bird garland using this technique and transformed some rubbish old tins.
Is it waterproof?
You can make it waterproof by adding varnish to it. However, if you really want something waterproof, hardcore, then I would say you need to use varnish. Not mod podge at all. (Remember Mod Podge isn’t waterproof unless you select the waterproof option too.)

What do you think? Are you a Mod Podge Die Hard? Or are you generally happy with the fake/ home made versions of things?

The best place online to buy PVA is undoubtedly my affiliate chums Yellow Moon. You can get 1 litre bottles or 5 litre bottles and it never goes off.  They also have almost every possible craft thing you have dreamed of. It is a crafter’s paradise.

*sings* I’ve been spending most my years living in the crafter’s paradiiiiiise… power in the money… money in the power… minute after a minute…. hour after hour…

Sorry. Totally carried away with my 1990’s rapping there.

Tell me about the project you are whipping up with your homemade mod podge!

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Thanks for reading!

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Craftiness

Homemade fingerpaint in awesome crafty jars

10 April, 2012

We visited my sister’s family in Gloucester this past weekend, glamping (well, it was in a caravan and we had bunting?) in their paddock. Ooh, twas lovely chilling with them all, apart from the incessant rain and freezingness. Instead of celebratory Easter Eggs I took them home made finger paints –  something that might fuel their imaginations rather than their existing bouncing off walls tendancy (this is still edible though, Ramona reveals every time she uses them!)

A little while ago Louise from Sew Scrumptious posted about these most amazing jar lids she had crafted up. I duly tucked it away in my mind’s craft drawer and have been searching for little figures ever since. My heart leapt into my throat and my hands got the shakes (you don’t have this reaction when pouncing on a proper bargain?) when I nabbed this WHOLE BAG of little fellas for £2 at a car boot last week.

Red Ted Art (kids craft queen) posted a recipe for home made finger paints a wee while ago. It is just a few ingredients and I always have them in my kitchen. I have a great love of this kind of easy crafting and avoidance of toxins.

Together I reckon they made an awesome pressy. (You are allowed to say that if the ideas weren’t yours, eh?)

The Finger Paints

1/2 tsp spoon salt

1 cup corn flour

3 tbs spoons sugar

2 cups water

Beat it all together in a pan while heating over a hot element. When thickened allow to cool. Pour into jars and add a couple of drops of food colouring.

The jars

I used Barts Fairtrade spices jars, a nice little size.

Spray paint lids and figures seperately with a white under coat.

Keeping them seperate give them a few licks of a bright acrylic paint.

Using super glue or a hot glue gun stick the figures onto your lid.

GIVE IT UP FOR EASY CRAFTS ALL AROUND THE WORLD!

PS Unfortunately my little gift didn’t survive the bus, tube and train to Glasterr and the Cowboys and Indians had escaped the lids taking some paint with them.  Woe, WOE, me. And my sis who has to superglue them back on. I have adjusted the directions to prevent this happening to yourself.

PPS I am a day late (blaming WordPress, the ratbags) but am linking this up with the other Magpies at Liz’s Magpie Monday celebration

Craftiness

Flapper band for a lovely little head

11 November, 2010

Ah, maternity leave is the bees knees! I basically just make stuff all day, maybe have tea and cake with someone, loll around on my birth ball. It’s lush. I’ve also been initated in to the mums club with my two besties and my sister and their riot of rapscallion kids. Tomorrow it is a party for one of them who is turning two, so I whipped up some pretty head gear for her, 1920’s styles with a few bits of lace, polka dot fabric from a pillow made into rosettes and then some delightful buttons.

To be delivered in its own little felt envelope, with the wrist from the armpit slipper jumper.

With a personalised stamp and a quick knot she can undo.

This is probably the kind of thing you make for a little kid before you have kids and know how unrealistic it is for them to keep something fancy like this on their noggin. Oh well, I’m soon to become a more reality based maker of kids things!