Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Resolutions...Crafty solutions!

So it's New Year's Eve. Another year over, a new one's just beginning...what are you plans for 2009? What do you want to change, achieve, or experience this year?

I have a few resolutions this year, although I usually think of September as being more new year-y than January (all those years in school warped my sense of time!)


Become more organized than I am now by the end of 2009. I want to get my books to the library on time. I want to put all the used paper in the recycling bin instead of leaving it on the floor for the random papers on the floor fairy to find. I want to know where the thermometer is in the workshop. How to do this? I have two new organizing kits for sewing and jewellery and I have already started filling them up with categories of things. I need to allot time the morning after craft group to put things away. And I need to allot time once a week for my paperwork at work. That's not too hard, is it? (Starting simple...)

Stop brushing my teeth so hard. Yes, this seems silly, but I burn out electric toothbrushes and my dentist harasses me about wearing down my enamel.

Continue my diet to get my blood sugar down and maintain it around 4.5 in the morning.

Wanda and I always say we want to learn or try two new things per year. We've usually accomplished this by January 5th, so I think we need a larger list.

Finish my chemistry class with an "A", start and complete Math 12, take provincial exams for both, and enroll at UFV for chemistry in September. (I think this one's in the bag, but I like to have things to tick off on my list.)

Take singing lessons with Wanda (and possibly Raymond).

Take more photographs. I noticed that I only seem to get the camera out for special occasions, instead of waving it everyone's faces all the time. I need to go back to harassing my friends and family with the camera. So I need to keep it in my purse. (I stopped carrying my camera when a young woman went into my purse and stole some money.) So I need to make another purse.

My crafty goals
  • Learn embroidery.
  • Learn silk screening.
  • Learn jewellery making. (I did start this a few weeks ago...)
  • Perfect our mascara recipe.
  • Perfect our foundation recipe.
  • Perfect my butter cream recipe.
  • Get my Christmas presents done in time. (This might mean starting in March!)
  • Finish at least two unfinished projects, sewing -- I have a pair of shorts waiting to be finished and at least one purse.

I'd like to get married in May. This isn't so much a goal but an adventure in planning and craftiness! Then I'd like to go on our awesome road trip honeymoon.

I will go camping with my friends this year. Last year, they were all busy on long weekends. The year before, they had to work. This year, we are going on an exciting camping trip, possibly to Idaho, possibly to Trout Lake, Washington.


What do you see for yourself in 2009? Let me know, and I'll get some tutorials up here so you can learn and make and do and achieve and all those other great things you want to see happen in 2009!

So where do we start? How about getting organized by designing your own date book or calendar? Tune in tomorrow for a month of resolutions! (Wow, that sounds exciting, eh? Susan will learn to brush her teeth softly...just kidding!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bacon -- it's what's for dinner!

I love bacon in all its incarnations -- maple bacon, 50% less salt bacon (which, ironically, tastes saltier), regular bacon cooked when we're camping, eggs fried in bacon fat, and so on. My favourite has to be British bacon: It's called "gammon" and it is either not smoked but cured, or not cured but smoked, and that's what you see to your left. Isn't it beautiful? (And yes, before you ask, I do take pictures of lots of food when I'm travelling. I made that sarnie myself, and it was spectacular).

Blondie loves bacon. Sometimes she jumps in the air for it. Blondie tested; Susan approved! If a dog likes it, you know it has to be good.

So in honour of one of my favourite meat stuffs, here are some ideas for extreme bacon enjoyment!

Bacon cheese roll -- Get some bacon. Weave it. Roll some cheese into it. Bake. Eat.

Bacon explosion -- Bacon with sausage and more bacon. Slow cooked over a BBQ.

Sweet-salty bacon furikake - sugar coated bacon from Japan. (I tried this one. It is very nice!)

Brown sugar glazed bacon -- as if bacon needed some improvements?

Bacon cups - if you've always wanted to make little cups out of bacon, then check out this link. You can fill said cups with all kinds of wonderful things. On the site, she puts salad in them! Salad? Salad goes not with bacon -- perhaps if it were a BLT salad, but not some fancy baby greens type thing! Anyway, enjoy!

What? This wasn't heart stopping enough? Then perhaps Bacon Today is the blog for you? All of the exciting, heart wrenching drama that is bacon in our modern society.

Happy Bacon Day (no, it's not officially bacon day -- that's February 4th, just before National Mole Day, but I'm declaring it as such because nothing says wintery yummies like bacon!)

Friday, December 26, 2008

How was your Christmas?

My Christmas was outstanding! It was white and snowy, then the day grew sunny and a bit warmer. Wanda cooked our Christmas dinner (turkey with stuffing, Brussel sprouts - for my mom & Cameron - broccoli salad, homemade perogies, and cabbage rolls!) and it was delicious.

Cameron bought her ABBA Singstar, so we tried a few songs out (note: very very high singing on that disk!) and I was shocked by how many songs I actually knew. (I received my first KISS album when I was 5 -- I've always considered myself a "headbanger" or "non-pop music liker", but I seem to know many pop songs. I guess it's all that shopping in stores that play music non-stop until you have to leave because you're sick of hearing the same tunes over and over again...but I digress.)

Fun was had by all. and for your enjoyment, I post here a picture of my dog enjoying her present. We wrapped some puppy treats in some paper and let her rip it open. (This is actually my present she is trying to steal!)

It's funny because some people complain about Christmas -- too much stress, too much commercialism, not enough of something else -- but in the end, we all celebrate in our own way. I always treat myself to eggs fried in the bacon fat; Raymond's family eats Pillsbury turnovers; and we always have to have Christmas pudding with custard on it.

I hope you had a lovely day! Only 364 more sleeps 'til Santa comes again!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Merry Christmas! It's finally here. All the shopping, the fretting, the making of lists, the creating of gifts -- it all comes down to's C-Day. Like little kids, Raymond and I have been up since about 4:30 waiting to see what Santa delivered under the tree. We're quietly drinking our tea, waiting patiently for my mother to wake up so the Christmas paper shredding can begin!

This demented Santa is my dad, who died in 2001. He loved Christmas. He was the biggest kid I have and will ever meet. He loved presents and always went overboard! And every year he received a giant Toblerone...which he tried to eat in one day, but never quite succeeded. So we still make sure Raymond gets the giant Toblerone as the man of the house -- a symbolic gesture, and one he enjoys very much. (Oh no, I have to eat all this chocolate!)

So Merry Christmas to you all. I hope today is filled with laughter and love and too much chocolate and merriment and presents. I have to get some AAA batteries for my's not a proper Christmas if you don't light up just a little bit, eh?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I have no idea how I feel about this...

It's Christmas Eve and all through the house, I can't stop being horrified and fascinated by the art of creative poodle grooming. I found a link on one of my favourite blogs -- The Park Bench (for us geek girls) -- and I have just spent the last half hour of my life looking at pictures of poodles decorated to look like weird things, like the dragon poodle to the left here.

I really am not sure how I feel about this. It's like laughing at fainting goats. On the one hand, fainting goats are hilarious. You scare them, they faint, we laugh, they get back up. On the other hand, they lie there completely terrified thinking we're going to eat them as they have involuntary myoclonic spasms, and somehow evolution thought a good defence mechanism would be to have the goats lie there motionless until the danger goes away. So it's funny but slightly twisted. I feel the same way about these poodle pictures.

So here are some more...and check out the comments. They are hilarious!

And more...(I love the dragonfly puppy because he's cute, but the Jack Sparrow one is amusing)

And still more...(from fashion week)

Hope you have a lovely Christmas! Enjoy the snow -- it's going to be here for a while!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Mineral make up - links to cool recipes

A quick post with more ideas for mineral make up recipes - primarily eye shadows. For most of these recipes, just use our base when it says "base" instead of using their base (unless you want to try other bases.)

Our very own Tanna from Suds & Scents in Abbotsford shares her recipes for beautiful brown and perfectly purple eye shadows. Lovely! (We made a variation on this purple in class!)

The Soap Queen's pink champagne eye shadow is to die for! Wanda and I made it last weekend, and I wear it almost every day now. You can use our base for the serecite mica, just follow the parts in the recipe.

Sweetscents has a plethora of recipes -- blushes, eye shadows, foundations -- but no pictures. I do want to try the Forever Ivory Foundation at some point.

Finally, Coastal Scents Formulary offers some great suggestions for eye shadow colours. (When you get to the page, click on the "I agree" box to get into the site.)

Happy formulating!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More last minute Christmas ideas

Try making some of these for Christmas -- there's still time!

I love these clear bags! I'm giving all my bath & body stuff in these next year! (Too late for this year for me, I'm afraid. I've given all I am going to give!) This is definitely a sewing project you can do by hand!

A cute patchwork drawstring backpack. You remember these from the summer, right? You can do that pattern or make up this one with loads of bits and pieces!

And check out this tote bag. Beautiful!

Penny pockets are cute, easy, and quick!

And visit Whip-Up for the mammoth list of festive ideas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sewing for the freakin' blizzard!

It's cold outside. Not just normal cold, but blizzardy cold. I'm usually impervious to the cold -- we took our air conditioner out of the window last Saturday! -- but for some reason I'm really feeling it this year. So here are a few ideas to keep yourself warm during this blizzard-y time...

The Easy Beanie at Burda style. So cute, seems so easy!

The Elana hat and mittens at Burda Style. This is so cute!

Cozy blanket wrap at Burda Style. Easy, cute, cheap, and really welcome this time of year!

There's still time to hie thyself to Fabricland or Wal-Mart and get some fleece for these projects. (Or to Hamel's or Countryfolk for some fancier stuff!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

SCIENCE! Ach, I'm blind!

Well, I've had to cancel craft group tonight. My horrible snow driving aside, I didn't like the idea of people walking to the group in these horrible winds or driving in the icy conditions, so I've shut it down for the night. We'll make up for it by scheduling something in January. E-mail me so I can let you know!

As you may know, I'm kinda sorta addicted to chemistry. I realize when I was in grade 11, equilibrium constants and solubility indices weren't really all that exciting, so I'm not expecting you to jump in with both feet and buy a Bunsen burner. But think of the cool stuff you will learn about how the world works...and how to blow stuff up safely. Yep, chemistry can be all about the explosions! So today I bring you a link to the 10 greatest chemistry videos (from Wired). Check out #5 -- it explains how those hand warmer - hot bag thingies work. It's very interesting. No, seriously, it is. It really is. And if your mom asks you what you're doing on-line because you really should be doing homework, you can tell her you're learning about science!

Note: The image above is of the caffeine molecule. I need to embroider or silk screen this onto every single item I own!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

Oh the weather outside isn't frightful -- it's snowing, so it's delightful! Sorry for the early morning bad rhyme, but I love the snow!

But I can't drive in it. I grew up in North Vancouver on top of a giant hill and my school was another another giant hill (oh, let's be honest, North Vancouver is just a giant hill with houses on it!), and the bus couldn't handle going up or down my giant hill or the giant hill on which my school was situated. So, yay, snow day! I went to university on a giant hill, and my first job to which I could drive was on yet another hill (and I owned a rear wheel drive Mustang, so I didn't really drive it in winter because it had a habit of sliding me into houses!!!). So I never really practised much snow driving!

When they say "Oh, it's easy to drive in the snow. Just watch out for the OTHER PEOPLE"...I am those other people. Watch out for me in the snow -- you'll know me from the corn dog air freshener in the window. Just avoid me at all costs!

So today is probably a perfect day for staying in, doing paperwork, and perhaps a little crafting.

Here are some winter and snow related links for the day:

Stencil a fleece scarf -- you remember how to stencil, don't you? (Video podcast)

Which lip balm should you use? from

Make a string of felt lights as an advent calendar -- probably too late for this year, but get ready for next!

Some cute tags to print and use for Christmas.

Have a great snow day!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some neat stuff...

A few questions, a few links to tutorials...I'm too tired to think this morning. It's Monday. It's something like -8 outside and with the wind chill it feels like -20. I had the worst sleep last night -- and I know someone will make the comment "Well, you had a long nap yesterday afternoon!" as if somehow taking a nap fulfills all my sleeping needs for the next six months! If I sleep 10 hours last night, and 6 today, does that mean I got 16 hours of sleep? No!

Anyway, on to the links for the morning.

There's always been this notion that somehow humectants can draw water out of your skin to the atmosphere...

'Cause I need to embroider this on something!

How do I make an adorable felt tree? And where can I get the pattern?

Have a good Monday and stay bundled up! It's freezing out there!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mineral make-up - Part 3 - Metallics and sheens

So you've got a base colour, why not try making another colour? Yeah, you're addicted. I can see it on your face (the eyeshadow, that is...) It's the holiday season, so let's have some fun with metallics!

Metallics are all about shine, so you're going to use your mica as the primary colourant in these recipes. You can add some iron oxide to give your eye shadow some depth, but your goal here is shine shine shine, so you won't want much.

The usual! Baggies, Q-tips, micas, base, iron oxides, containers, and your recipes! (If you can't find the recipe to make your base, check out my first post on the topic here...)


1 part base
1 part green mica (I used Majestic Green from Suds & Scents but you use any shiny green mica you like!)
Blend together in a baggie and enjoy.
To increase this recipe to be in a container, increase to 3/8 tsp base, 3/8 tsp mica.

As a note, this is a great basic recipe for making a very sparkly eye shadow. I call these eye shadows sheens because they are more of a sweep across your eye lid rather than a full coverage eye shadow like the bases we did yesterday.

4 scoops sunpearl silver
1 scoop black satin mica
3 scoops base

This is a variation on the eye sheen above. We are using the black sparkle to add some depth to the recipe because otherwise it's just too light and is merely a sparkle instead of silver.

As a note, Voyageur now has a really lovely vintage grey that works well with the green sheen ratio above of 1 part base, 1 part colour.

4 scoops gold mica
1 scoop (or less) yellow iron oxide (optional)
3 scoops base

The gold needs the yellow background to make it pop. Try it first without the yellow and see what you think. You might like it.

1 part paradise sand mica
1 part base

Like the green sheen, just mica and colour. Paradise sand is a great brown-pink colour and it looks amazing on people with warm toned skin. (Us cool coloured women should stay sad!)

1 part violet mica
1 part base
titch ultramarine purple
If you're going to increase this eye shadow, use 3/8 tsp base, 3/8 tsp violet mica, and 1 scoop ultramarine purple and see if you like it.

To summarize, if you want to make a metallic colour, you'll want mostly micas with a titch of iron oxide in there to give it some depth. Try it first without the iron oxide and you'll see what I mean.

Have fun and stay tuned!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - pet tags!

Shrinky dinks have an awesome name (feel free to giggle right and are fantastic for making jewellery. Why not make your favourite pet an adorable, personalized tag for the holidays?

Shrinky dinks -- you can go for white, coloured, or frosted. (We usually use frosted in our group because you get 10 sheets for the price of 8!)
Colouring tools -- you can use felts (don't use washable ones), pencil crayons, or indelible stamping inks
a hole punch
an oven or heat gun
some pictures to trace (optional if you're quite the artiste!)

NOTE: All shrinky dink sheets have a "grain", which means they will shrink more one way than another. My experiments show that it is usually lengthwise. So on an 8 x 10 inch sheet, lay it in "landscape" mode. If you don't follow the grain, you will end up with a piece that will not keep the right shape.

SECOND NOTE: Shrinky Dinks shrink -- that's what makes them awesome. They will lose 50 to 60% of their size, so measure carefully. If you want something to be 2 inches by 2 inches (5 cm by 5 cm), make sure you make it 4 inches by 4 inches and you should get the right size.

THIRD NOTE: If you are making a large piece, prepare for it. The Shrinky Dink will warp and curl while shrinking -- this is normal -- but it could stay stuck on another part of the Shrinky Dink if it's a particularly large piece. (I think 5 by 5 inches would be considered "large" -- oh, stop giggling!)

1. Trace a picture, draw a picture, colour a picture. Use pencil crayons or felts. You can even stamp on a shrinky dink using alcohol based inks. You can use Staz On Ink if you want. Include your pet's name, phone number (in case the pet runs away, but they won't because they love you so much!), and other information you think someone else might like to know.

2. Cut out your picture using regular scissors.

3. Punch a hole into it if you want to use it as jewellery or as a tag for your dog. A 1/8 or 1/4 punch should be large enough. PUNCH YOUR HOLDS BEFORE SHRINKING.

4. Baking your shrinky dinks. You can use a heat gun -- put the cut out into a box, then blow it around with the heat gun. It will shrink.
Heat your oven to 325. Place the shrinky dink on a grocery bag or some kind of paper. Place the pieces, coloured side up, on the paper and place that on a baking sheet in the oven. Watch as they shrink. They will take about 1 to 3 minutes. When the pieces lay flat -- and they will, I promise! -- leave then another 30 seconds or so. If you aren't happy with the flatness, then place a book or something heavy on top of it for a few seconds.

To make your dog tag, put a small ring through the hole in the shrinky dink. Ta-da! You have a dog tag. Try your shrinky dinks to make jewellery. I've made a lovely Super Mario Brothers bracelet out of shrinky dinks and jump rings. And some matching earrings using earring wire from the jewellery store!

Now you have the cutest animal tag in the world!

Click on this link to download the PDF for the pet tag templates! (It's on rapidshare so it will take something like 30 seconds to load before you can download...sorry, still can't figure out how to load files to blogger!)

Off topic: Heaviest potato in the world

A Lebanese man finds the largest potato in the world. Ha! I found it in 2002 at the World Potato Expo in Blackfoot, Idaho. Look at the size of the thing! That guy's holding one...I was STANDING next to one. Think about how much butter and sour cream that thing's gonna need, and don't get me started on how large the chives would have to be to make any difference! (But that's probably located at the Word Chive, Onion, and Shallot Museum. Hey, there's an idea for our next road trip!)

Oh, wait, did they mean the largest EDIBLE potato in the world? Well, then his potato is very impressive.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - love your pets!

When you're handing out the prezzies, don't forget about your pets! Every year we make sure we wrap some jerky or a toy for our furry baby, and she's always pleased with her present (which she promptly eats or chews to death). So here are a few ideas for keeping your favourite pet happy for the Christmas season!

Don't use this with other animals. They don't like to be sprayed. Use on yourself, though. It's nice.

50 ml water
0.5 ml fragrance oil
0.5 ml polysorbate 20.

Add fragrance oil to your bottle. Add polysorbate 20. Pour water into the bottle. Shake well. Make a cute label. Use.

Please don't use essential oils unless you really know a lot about them. Dogs don't like citrus scents, and cats can't have essential oils -- they're very sensitive to scents.


3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 - 2 tablespoons ground lavender (optional)
essential oil or fragrance oil - 15 to 20 drops per batch

Measure your ingredients. Mix well in a small bowl. Add essential oils. Leave at least 30 minutes before using. Sprinkle some in your animal's hair, then brush through. Silky soft or what? You can also use this on carpets where your pet might have been or in his/her bed or other animal related place.

If you can get a shaker bottle (Voyageur, Soap & Suds, and Aquarius all carry them), then put them into a nice bottle and label it with your pet's name on it. If you can't get a shaker bottle, check out the dollar stores for a big salt shaker or spice shaker. That's always nice.

Finally, this recipe seems to last forever on a small dog like our Blondie (see cuteness above), so you can always make half a batch.

Put the ingredients on the label so if you give it as a present, people will know what's in it. Also, it's fun to make up names for your products -- "Fido's Fragrance Fix" or "Blondie's Coat Smoother" -- so make something cute!

Well, that's it for now! Tune in tomorrow for some more ideas for your handmade Christmas.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mineral make-up: Part 2, creating your first eye shadow

It's an exciting day, yes indeed! You are going to make your first eye shadow! Let's make a base colour!

Base - we made this yesterday, so make sure you have at least the basic batch size available.
Colours - micas and iron oxides!
Little scoops - get these at Suds & Scents or Voyageur (they hold 0.15 cc or about 1/32 tsp) or those small teaspoons that measure as low as 1/32 (any good kitchen shop will have these...)
Containers to put the eye shadow in when you are done
Q-tips - so you can check the colours in the bag.

We are going to add colours to the base to make it coloured. Pretty basic, right? I suggest choosing a recipe, then adding in your colour, then squishing your baggie (get some small ones from the jewellery making shop or the dollar store -- but the dollar store ones can leak) for a minute or so. Now check the colour. If you see white streaks or streaks of colour, you haven't squished it enough so keep going. Check it again. If you like it, make a larger batch. If you don't like it, add something to it to change the colour.

I find generally the ratio works out to about 2:1 to 3:2 colour to base (this is not a hard and fast rule, just a very basic generalization). This is a handy way to figure out how to make your own colours. If you want to make a blue, try using 3 parts blue mica to 2 part eye shadow base. You can always add more base if you think it's too strong a colour. If you are using iron oxides, start with 1 part colour, 3 parts base and go from there. (Probably less, but the colour blending is the art side of things, and I'm usually better at the science-y side of things!)

Finally, you will want to use both micas and iron oxides in most eye shadows. For a matte colour, use more iron oxide. For a shiny colour, use more micas. I find an easy way to make colours is to start with the iron oxide, ultramarine, magnesium, or chromium and add the mica to change the colour. (See an example below...)

I always suggest making a tiny amount -- maybe 5 scoops total -- to see if you like the colour. If you like it, then increase the amount so you're making 1/2 to 3/4 tsp per batch. For something like the cream or tan colours below, you'd increase the batch by 2x to have 3/4 tsp for your container. For something like the white recipe below, you'd want to increase the amounts to be 2/8 (1/4) tsp each for the micas, and 3/8 tsp for the base.

(If you are really going to enjoy making make-up, please invest in some of those teaspoons that go down to 1/8, 1/16, and 1/32. You'll be grateful you did!)

Warning: The iron oxides are quite potent. When you are making a larger amount, I suggest using less iron oxides than you think you'll need. So if the recipe initially called for 1 part red (light) iron oxide, 1 part base, 1 part mica, when you increase it try (for example) 3 parts base, 3 parts mica, 1 part iron oxide. You may find this gives you the colour you want.

If you make a colour and want it to be darker or richer in colour, add black iron oxide or black mica to it. (You can get black-blue or black-brown iron oxide. If it's a warm colour, add your black-brown. A cool colour, black-blue.) I know this sounds weird, but even a pink can be made richer if you add some black. I mean a titch of black -- if you are making a small batch, use a tiny bit. If you are making a 7/8 tsp batch, still use a tiny bit. You can always add more.

Write everything down. You won't remember what you did and it will drive you crazy. Keep a log of each scoop, titch, and everything else.

If you make a colour you don't like, you can throw it out. I know this might seem like sacrilege, wasting products and all of that stuff, but rather you throw it out than waste a container or keep around something you hate. Or add something to it -- you might discover something really awesome!


Cream - a matte base (and a great example of the power of iron oxide)
3/8 tsp base
1 scoop yellow iron oxide
Squish in bag. Squish it well as iron oxides are hard to incorporate at times.
If you like it and want to make more for a container, double this recipe.
That's it! You have a cream eye shadow!

(Notes: This is not a shiny colour. To get shine, we need to add micas. This is intended as a nice basic cream colour to use as a base for other warm colours.)

Tan - a matte base.
3/8 tsp base
1 scoop brown-umber iron oxide
Scoop, squish, test. Rejoice.

So you can see the power of iron oxides to colour your eye shadow. Try these bases with other colours using the same ratio of 3/8 tsp base, 1 scoop of your colour (ultramarine pink, chromium green, magnesium violet, or other iron oxides).

White - a shiny base
2 scoops white mica (satin or matte, depending upon your desired shine level)
2 scoops sunpearl silver mica
3 scoops base
Scoop, squish, test. Put into container.

If you use something like an arctic silver with a blue tinge, you are going to get a white base with a hint of blue. (If you like blue, why not a variation on this white with the arctic blue?)

Well, there's the base...but what about those wacky colours I want to try? Patience, grasshopper, all will be revealed. (I'm very busy with Christmas and all that, don't you know?) Tomorrow -- METALLICS!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mineral make-up - Introduction, part 1

To those of you who followed a link from Tutorializer or another blog to get here, welcome! This is only the first post on mineral make-up - I think there's something like 92 posts on the topic on the blog (click here to see them) with many ideas for various things like eye shadow, foundation, and so on. I encourage you to read other posts on the topic to learn how to make the shade you've always wanted - I am kinda partial to lime green and yellow and these neutrals really don't represent the full rainbow of possibilities! 

Or read this section. I'm sorry, but I really don't have time to answer questions I've answered before or those for which I have entire posts. This is meant as an introductory page - you really need to take a look at the other pages if you're eager to make products. 

So what's mineral make up and how do I make it? Whoa, slow down there just a little bit - 2 questions is a lot for first thing in the morning!

Mineral make up is generally defined as make up made from minerals. A colourless base is created using various ingredients, then you add iron oxides and micas to create a colour.

How do you make it? Well, that's really a question that starts off what could be a million part series for this blog...

First, we're going to call it MMU from now on because that's easier to type. Secondly, I find it is easier to understand something and make it your own when you know why you are doing what you are let's start with ingredients.

When you go hunting for MMU recipes, you're going to find a ton of various ingredients, all of which seem awesome and essential and wonderful. Some of them are essential and some of them are merely ones favoured by the company that published the recipe. So how do you figure out what you need, what you don't need, and what you can substitute for something else?

Concept: You could just mix the micas and iron oxides and slather them on your face, but you want them to stay there so you don't walk around with crazy clown face, frightening the children, who then run past your house screaming "crazy clown lady" on Hallowe'en. So you're left with all that candy, which you eat, because you are depressed at being the person on the block the children avoid. And your skin breaks out, so you put on more foundation, which morphs in colour, so you become the "zombie lady" and everyone avoids you because they think you want to eat their brains, but you don't, because you really just want another Mars bar. Then you have to move and you end up moving beside a really crazy cat lady and she makes your life miserable because she has so many cats and the smell is annoying and they keep you up with their incessant meowing and you don't get enough sleep, then you fall down a flight of stairs on a BC ferry because you're tired, but this time you don't end up with a hematoma on your bum, you end up breaking your neck and dying. All because you didn't want to use a base! Think about it, won't you?

And you need them to stay there when your skin gets oily or when you get rained on. And we don't want the colour to change - as it can when you don't compensate for the oily skin factor. So we include ingredients for that reason.


4 tsp serecite mica
1 tsp titanium dioxide (I use oil soluble)
1 tsp dry-flo

Put the ingredients into a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet and grind for quite some time -- at least 2 or 3 minutes. Now put into a container to be used as your base. (Feel free to increase the amounts by the same ratios -- I generally make up 8 tsp serecite mica, 2 tsp titanium dioxide, and 2 tsp dry-flo so I have a ton around!) An eye shadow container takes about 7/8 tsp.

Why these ingredients? What does each one bring to the party?


For mineral make-up, you want coverage -- this is usually defined as light, medium, or full coverage. This means how well it covers up your own skin colour. For eye shadows, coverage is a good thing because you want your colours to pop!

The opposite of coverage is translucency. You may want to include ingredients that aren't apparent once they are on your face. These ingredients are used for things like mineral veils or glitter powders (you don't want something white on your skin, just glittery) or sheer eye shadows and blushes.

Finally, you want slip. Slip is how well the product goes on your skin, how well it "slips" and doesn't drag. So we include ingredients that make application nice and smooth.


Serecite mica gives you the coverage. It offers medium coverage and adds a slight shine, which is good for an eye shadow. It's sheer and allows the minerals to stay on your face. It keeps your colour true during the day and can repel water.

Titanium dioxide gives you heavy coverage. It is opaque and can whiten your colours. It's also a great adhesion ingredient.

Dry-flo is modified corn starch. I find it gives the eye shadow a nice slip when applying and it's translucent when applied.

So what we have in this recipe are ingredients to:
1. offer slip;
2. create coverage - medium and full;
3. repel water;
4. keep your colours true; and
5. adhere to your skin.


When you are substituting, it isn't necessary a 1:1 ratio of substitution. For instance, you can substitute zinc oxide for the titanium dioxide in this recipe at the same amount, but substituting the dry-flo might take more. This really is an art in getting the right feel and staying power. So try some things and see if you like it!

Titanium dioxide -- Get yourself some titanium dioxide. It's pretty essential to most MMU recipes. You could substitute zinc oxide for this ingredient. This is available at pretty much all soap suppliers. It's cheap and it's easy to find.

Serecite mica -- You can use micronospheres, which are lovely, but I really do encourage you to get the serecite mica. You can get it at Voyageur or Suds & Scent (links on the right hand side of the page) and you can get micronospheres at Voyageur (as well as other MMU suppliers - this is just my favourite!). What do the micronospheres do? They offer slip, adhesion, water repellation (is that a word?), and adheres to your skin. So they do what the serecite mica does with a little less shine. This might be what you try it if you like!

Dry-Flo: Leave it out if you want, or substitute some rice powder, kaolin clay, corn starch, or silk. We want something translucent that offers slip. You can go hog wild and substitute all the Dry-Flo with silk, but this gets expensive.

You've got your base and you love it. Make a ton of will need it. You want to play and try new colours, and it is annoying to have to stop and make another batch of it in the middle of your colour extravaganza.

TOMORROW'S TUTORIAL -- How to make a basic eye shadow! Get out those micas and iron oxides because it's an eye shadow extravaganza!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - matchbook books!

Make some cute matchbook books to share with your family. Perfect for stocking stuffers or the person on the go who wants to make notes as they run around town! Use up your bits of paper or small stickers for this project! In short, they're awesome!

TEMPLATE - You can make this template as large or as small as you want. I suggest printing it out in something like publisher so the big square measures something like 7 cm large so it's a nice size. Save the picture however you save in your browser (remember: Mac user. I have no idea how to do things in Windows any more!)


card stock for the cover (plain or coloured)
pretty paper to decorate the cover (if you want)
paper cut into 2.25 inches x 2.25 inch squares for the inside paper (6 x 6 cm)
a glue stick, stapler, and scissors


Cut out a piece of card stock for the cover of your book using the template above.

Cut at least 20 little squares measuring 2.25 x 2.25 inches or 6 x 6 cm for the inside of the book. You might not want to use all of these, but it's nice to have them nearby.

Fold the cover in the manner shown on the template. Score the creases (to score the creases, run a ruler over the crease and press. Or, if you have longer nails, scrape across the top of the fold. This will ensure the creases are really in place.)

If you want to add a piece of pretty paper to the outside of your cover, cut it out and glue in on the cover. Then score the creases again.

Take the little pieces of paper and make sure they are centered in the matchbook. Then staple!

Fold over the top, and you have a little match book! Hooray!


You could use this a photo album or really small scrapbook by using pictures of your friends that are smaller than 6 cm by 6 cm.

You can put felt instead of paper inside and use it to keep your jewellery or sewing needles with you at all times!

If you want to make a bigger book -- choose a size for the square part of the book. If you want it to be 10 cm by 10 cm, then you want to make section A 10 cm by 10 cm, section B 10 cm by 10 cm, the crease section 6 mm and the foldy-up bit 6 mm. So you will need to measure a piece of card stock that is 21.2 cm long (10 cm + 10 cm + 6 mm +6 mm). You can make the crease bigger and the foldy-up bit longer. You can make it a rectangle by doing the same thing. As you learn more about making matchbook books, you'll see what you can do!


Love these matchbooks with the JELLYFISH design. This one has the staples on the outside to be seen. Computer designs so if you want to make it with a publishing program, go for it!

Scrapbooked matchbooks with the staples covered!


Friday, December 5, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - gift tags

The icing on the proverbial present cake is always the gift tag. (Ever better when my name is in the "to" section!) So here are a few links to get you started on making your own holiday themed tags.

If you want to make your own, check out these templates from Jersgirl's site...
Square cornered tags
Scalloped tags
Another scalloped tag
A tag and envelope in one!


Print these out on paper, cardstock, or even sticker paper!

A strange little circular elf tag

More elf tags

(What's with all the elf love this year?)

Bitter, angry, twisted gift tags -- is it wrong that I totally and utterly love these?

Yeti labels - because nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an abominable snowman!

Cute tags with birdies and other letter pressed looking prints.

Some strange cat like creatures on tags. Hauntingly beautiful and cute!

Colour collections I am so going to print out for this year!

Dr. Seuss tags! No comment necessary here!

From HGTV - snowmen, stockings, and ornaments - oh my!

Crocheted elf tags - the elf admiration society's at it again!

If you want more, check out the Gift Tag Round-up on Bella Dia.

Finally, Martha Stewart has some great, colourful tags!


Tag Pockets - gift tag and Christmas card in one!

Gift Tag No. 1 - very simple, very elegant.

3 easy gift tag ideas - even I could draw these!

Well, there's no excuse to buy gift tags this year, is there? So get crafting!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - single pamphlet bookbinding

Making books can be as simple or as difficult as you want it to be. There are dozens of way to make a simple book your giftee will cherish for years to come! Here are two simple techniques...single pamphlet and album stitch.

To make a basic book you'll need:
Scissors, embroidery thread, and needle
Inside paper (to write or sketch on)
Spine paper
Something to poke a hole (needle, awl, etc.)
Good cardstock for your cover (I like Bazzill, but use any you want)
Stick of glue

This is the easiest and quickest way to create a book like the one above.

First, measure your book. Decide how big it is going to be. You'll want something reasonably sized, like 1/4 of a sheet of printer paper (printer paper is 8.5 inches wide x 11 inches high, so if you cut the paper in half width-wise you'll have a sheet that measures 8.5 inches wide, 5.5 inches high). Fold those pieces over width wise so you have a folded sheet of paper with the pages 4.25 wide and 5.5 inches high. Fold up to 10 pieces of paper of this size together and keep them together.

Now measure some holes. I recommend at least four holes. Position the holes as follows for a 5.5 inch book -- 1 inch from the top, 2 inches from the top, 2 inches from the bottom, 1 inch from the bottom. Poke through all these layers with an awl or a nice thick needle.

Measure your cover. If your book is 4.25 inches wide and 5.5 inches high, you'll want a cover that is slightly larger -- 4.5 inches wide and 5.75 inches high. So cut your cardstock 9 inches wide and 5.75 inches high. This gives ensures the pages don't stick out when you're finished. Fold the cardstock in half width-wise, the same as the paper.

Poke the holes in the same place as you did for the paper. You can lay the paper stack on top of it and poke the holes through. Don't worry if it looks're going to put pretty paper over the spine to cover up the mess!

Now start stitching. Make sure the cover and paper stack are all together. I like to start stitching at the top hole -- from the outside to the inside, making sure you have left a tail of the thread about 2 to 3 inches long. You do not need to knot the thread, but you can if it is hard to handle.

1. So step 1 -- hold your book with the cover facing you. Put the needle from the outside of the book to the inside of the book through the first hole. (It doesn't matter if it's the top hole or the bottom hole, just the first hole you see!)

2. Now your needle is on the inside of the book. Insert the needle into the second hold and pull it to the outside.

3. Needle on outside of book -- insert into third hole and pull to the inside.

4. Needle on inside of book -- insert into fourth hole and pull to the outside.

5. Now gently pull the two ends of the thread and tie them together.

Now measure your piece of pretty paper for the spine -- about 2 inches wide and the same height as the book -- and glue it onto the spine to cover up the threads. You're done!

You can use thin ribbon instead of thread if you want to leave the spine uncovered.
You can put pretty paper all over the entire cover instead of just the spine.
You can use brown type envelopes folded over in half instead of paper and make an envelope book!

ALBUM STITCHING (kinda like Japanese stitching but not as picky).

This is a similar concept with a few small changes. Like the book above, you're going to cut your paper to size, but you won't be folding it. Cut your paper into single sheets of 4.25 inches wide and 5.5 inches high (a sheet of printer paper cut into four equal pieces). We are going to cut the cardstock as well. So you'll want your pieces to be 4.5 inches wide and 5.75 inches tall. And you'll want to decorate the cover before stitching as you really don't get a chance afterwards. I recommend making the cover and the back different because you'll never know which side is the front cover. So pick something cute for the front, something rather plain for the back.

So you cut your pages up and your cover up, then decorate the cover. Be generous with the glue on the pretty paper, then put it on the cover. Get yourself a bread knife or popsicle stick and press out the glue so there are no bumps.

Measure out at least FIVE holes this time (but you can go six, seven, even eight if you want!) I recommend trying to get them evenly spaced because we are going to see the stitching on this one. I find it easiest to find the middle hole, then put 2 holes above that -- evenly spaced -- and 2 holes below it. That's the easiest way because this is an annoyingly uneven sized book, but a good one for cutting.

Now you have your holes. Start at the top hole and go from the front cover of the book to the back cover of the book. Then up and around through the front cover again through hole 2, then hole 3, then hole 4, then finally hole 5. This will give you a "spiral bound" look. Now go back -- from the back of hole 5 to the front of hole 4, back of hole 4 to the front of hole 3, back of hole 3 to the front of hole 2, back of hole 2 to the front of hole 1. Now your thread is at the back.

Tie the thread you left at the start of the binding to the thread you just finished and tie very tightly. Now cut off the ends and you're done.

Look for the next post tomorrow for matchbook books!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - sewing a cold tie

Cold ties are easy to make and pretty darn awesome to give as presents. Okay, so maybe they aren't really suitable for the winter season, but they come in handy when someone has a fever or during the summer. And they're easy to make in really pretty fabrics!

So what are they? Cold ties are long thin scarves containing polymer crystals that soak up water. You tie them around your neck for the hot months after soaking them in water, and they keep you cool during the day. I couldn't make it through the summer without them!

What are the polymer crystals you need? You can get them at Michael's (for a small amount) or Minter Garden's shop on Young road (for a larger, but way cheaper amount). Ask for those crystal things you put in vases or planters that suck up water. They'll know what you mean. (Or ask me for some -- I have a huge container at home!)

1 piece of 100% cotton - quilting fabric is awesome here -- 1 metre long, 4 inches (10 cm wide)
needle and thread (or sewing machine)
1/2 tsp to 1 tsp polymer crystals (do not go over this amount -- you will have a very puffy cool tie!)

PATTERN - Click here for the PDF - pattern and instructions.

1. Put the right sides together for the fabric and cut out a piece about 4 inches (10 cm) wide and about 1 metre long (you won't need all this fabric...probably about 25 inches or so, but I always cut out the bigger piece...)
2. Mark your hem at 6 mm or 1/4 inch on all three sides.
3. Sew up one short side and the long side. Cut the corners for a sharper corner. Flip inside out.
4. Now iron it. Please do this -- it looks much much nicer.
5. Find the centre of the fabric and mark it with a pin. Now measure from that pin about 9 inches on either side (6 inches if this is for a smaller person), and mark that. This is going to be the casing for the crystals.
6. At the marking at the end you've sewn, sew across it. This is going to create a pocket that is completely closed. This is a good thing.
7. Now put in the 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of polymer crystals. (1/2 tsp for the smaller cold tie).
8. Now sew across the other mark you made.
9. Now sew the open side.
You're done!

Soak these ties for about 45 minutes before using. Over time, the water will evaporate out of the crystals and you'll have to re-soak it.

This is a great gift for someone who needs to relax. (Hmm, I'm seeing a theme here somewhere...I think in my own not-so-subtle way I'm suggesting I need to relax!)
Download this pattern and cut it out. Put in about 1/4 tsp crystals -- don't use more because you will make it too heavy! My modifications for a cooling eye mask:
1. Use a silky fabric on the back and a pretty cotton fabric on the front (or more silky fabric).
2. Don't use the batting in the middle. Just make up the eye mask with one layer of silky fabric, one layer of cotton fabric.
3. Leave the space for inserting the elastic a little bit bigger so you can put the crystals in.
4. Enjoy it!

Great eye mask from Burda Style but I think you need to log in to download it...

Eye mask on Craft Bits

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - Creating Kits

I like to put together kits to bring a few different items together. Create some cute packaging, and always make sure to include a note with instructions on how to use the items (do not use the pumice-y foot bar on your face!), ingredients in the items (respect for allergies and all that), and some ideas on how to enjoy the items (usually verb based -- eat, don't eat, relax, light on fire). Decorate the inside of the box with tissue paper, basket crinkle (that crinkly stuff that gets all over the place...I am not a fan of this, but it does look pretty), or printed paper.

As a note, you can put together anything you want in a kit...I thought I'd offer a few suggestions! Check out the past post on packaging and boxes for ideas and links!


It doesn't matter who you are, everyone gets stressed out (and some of us seem stressed all the time, eh?) So why not put your gifts together in a relaxation kit to give to that special someone in your life?

Candle -- a sushi candle or a scented tea light
Bath salts -- a nice soak feels great after a long day
Bath bombs -- again, soaking in the tub is great (if you haven't fallen down a flight of stairs, that is!)
Flax bag -- to get rid of those aches and pains
Cooling eye mask -- great for stress headaches and sinus problems (see Wednesday's post!)
Chocolate -- because nothing says "let's relax" like chocolate!!

Then suggest that the person in question pamper themselves silly with your wonderful relaxation package. Offer some instructions on how to enjoy your present! Light the candle, pop in a bath bomb, heat up the flax bag for afterward, and eat some chocolate! You can burn a CD with some soothing whale songs or sounds of nature and pop that into your parcel.

Try using some lavender, or a combination with lavender like lavender rosemary in your bath products. (Please don't use essential oils in your candle -- try instead something like Black Amber Lavender.) You can add lavender buds or lavender oil to your flax bag, but don't use it in the eye mask because it could be too strong a scent near someone's nose.

(As an aside, I've officially used "lavender" too many times in this post!)


Make some real cupcakes, bath cupcakes, soap cupcakes, and candle cupcakes for a cupcake extravaganza! Get some cute cupcake paper for the package, and make sure you let the person know which is edible and which is not!


This one's easy -- make up various chocolates, get some cute cupcake liners or foils, and put together your own chocolate box along with that little map you get in expensive boxes so people know what they're eating!


Why not stencil a few dishtowels with a pattern that means something to your giftee? Crows, Christmas lights, turtles -- whatever you like. Then add a cute mug filled with chocolates, cookies, or cupcakes you've made and you've got yourself a present!

These are just a few ideas for your Christmas gift giving. Look for more ideas in the next few days!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents -- stencilling fabric!

You remember how to stencil, right? If not, here's a quick reminder tutorial...(or click here or here for some illustrated tutorials).

1. Print out your picture on a piece of paper.
2. Tape the stencil with masking tape to a piece of freezer paper (wax side down).
3. Cut out the stencil with an X-acto knife (be careful!!!)
4. Iron the stencil to your fabric (wax side down).
5. Paint - don't use too much!
6. Leave about 20 minutes to 30 minutes.
7. Remove stencil.
8. Iron -- read the instructions on your paint. Speedball recommends ironing for about 3 minutes. Put a piece of regular plain paper over the stencil as you iron it.

If you're doing a T-shirt, don't forget to put cardboard in between the layers of fabric so the paint won't run through it.

fabric paint -- you can use fabric paint from the store, silk screening paint like Speedball, or make your own using acrylic paints and fabric medium
some paint or sponge brushes
freezer paper
X-acto knife
something to cut on like a self-healing mat (those green ones you get from Fabricland or scrapbook stores)
a picture
masking tape
something to stencil!

Okay, now that you remember how to stencil, why not stencil something for Christmas?

Tea towels -- find a pattern and colour that would look nice around the house. Stencil it. Make sure you iron this one well as it's going to get wet.

Place mats - get a boring, plain placemat and stencil this. Awesome!

A gift bag -- make a cute simple draw string bag and stencil a pattern or someone's name on it.

Other sewn things -- stockings, pencil cases, cosmetic bags, aprons. You name it, you can stencil it!

Baby bibs -- chenille pattern but you can make it in cotton and stencil the heck out of it!

(Remember, if you want any of these tutorials in PDF form, let me know and I'll send them to you. I can't figure out how to put files on this blog!)

Star Wars links - tons and tons and tons!
Free stencils is a cornucopia of stencil-y goodness.
Various stencils (Harry Potter, Monty Python, TWILIGHT!!!) at sewhooked!
Cut out & keep has Twilight and Star Wars references!

Do a google IMAGE search for the thing you want.
Check out wing-ding fonts for cool pictures (most of my Japanese type things come from wingding fonts!)
Draw your own!

freezer paper -- Home Hardware on Wellington carries it for about $5.00 a roll (which lasts forever!)
fabric paint
1. regular fabric paint - Michael's or Wal-Mart
2. acrylic paint - Michael's in Abbotsford or Wal-Mart - the fabric medium is there, too
3. Speedball inks -- an art store in downtown Abbotsford or Opus Framing in Langley (awesome store!)

Hope you have fun! I'm off to make my "GEEK" shirt!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - labelling

I love making labels! They are the proverbial icing on the cake of handmade Christmas presents. Not only are they good for people who might have allergies or are picky about what they put on or in their bodies, but they're great fun to create and make. You don't need much -- a few printer labels, some sharpies or a printer, and the ideas floating in your head. For my fizzing bath cupcakes I like to put the product name and scent -- fizzing bath cupcakes, luscious lemon curd -- and ingredients, but a little story about the product. "Cupcakes are adorable, but cupcakes you can bathe with? Well, that's the cutest thing I've ever seen". And instructions on how to use it. Use the pictures you want, designs, fonts, scrapbooking papers, etc. and create something unique.

For the kit to your left, I have a few jars -- all with labels -- then a big label on the front showing off the contents. (This was a donation for a breast cancer fund raising, so I went all pink with it!)

Here are a few label templates to get you started (you don't have to use these, but they're good for ideas!) And if you want more, google "free printable labels" for a huge list!

From the Soap Queen - free adorable labels (these are for specific scents, but you could use them as a template to make your own!)

How to wrap a bar of soap in this cute tutorial with lovely, easy to customize for any project labels!

You can make up your own fabric labels by printing out what you want on some iron on transfer paper! Run it through the printer according to the directions, then iron it on the fabric or ribbon of your choice. Now sew that into your purse or other item in the seam! It's awesome. (Put some fray stop on the fabric if you aren't doing hems on it!)
One tutorial for fabric labels
Another tutorial for fabric labels


The Warning Label Generator-- I love this thing! I made up Raymond's after shave lotion label with this one (Godzilla and shaving lotion -- it's a winning combination!) Use it for everything and anything!

Freak someone out with these old fashioned poison labels.

They're a little country cute, but I love the winter labels here.

Tons of free label templates at Alenka's!

Check out HP's website for label ideas. In fact, check out all the printer manufacturer's websites for printing ideas!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - packaging

So you've got a whack of presents made, but how do we package them? You can go out and get some cute packaging and put your stuff into it -- yeah, not so much hand made, but we'll make it our own! -- or you can print out packaging and customize it!

Okay, here's our exception. It's hard to package bath salts in packages made of cardstock because it all runs out -- trust me, I've tried this -- so I'm going to suggest cellophane bags for both the bath salts and chocolate. For the bath salts, put the salts into the bag and close with either a cute twist tie, ribbon, or a label you've created yourself with instructions on use (1/4 cup for every bath!) The cellophane is the best choice as it doesn't suck the scent out of your beautiful creation. With the chocolate, I suggest this for bark or chocolate lollipops, mainly because a bag of bark is really cute and the chocolate lollipops can be protected from the outside world with a cellophane bag over the chocolate-y part with a cute ribbon or twist tie to keep it closed.

Foils are sheets of coloured foils you put over chocolates, like they do in Purdy's or Roger's. It looks very cute. You can get about 100 sheets for something like $6.00 so go in on a package with a friend and save! (As a note, you can wrap foils around your small bath bombs for a cute treat -- but warn people it's not edible!)

I like to get the containers used for real sushi from Daiso (Richmond, Aberdeen Mall) and use those. (That's the picture up there!) You can make your own boxes for these items as well...

Get yourself some patterned or coloured small cupcake liners - the dollar store has some great ones in various colours, but for patterns you'll have to visit Dicken's or Michael's or other craft stores -- and place your cupcake or chocolate inside. Then put them in a cute little box big enough to hold the treats and wait for your kudos!

Mirkwood Designs - boxes, cards, envelopes, and pretty much anything you could ask for in a package.

Jersgirl's Computer Craft and Rubber Stamp Templates - I love the fry box and the crayon box for chocolates!

Papertech - pre-printed designs. I love the corrugated box set, but I like to create my own design for it.

Paper and More - very nice -- I love the take out box!

Stamped Candy Bags - I know this is for Valentine's Day, but there's no reason you can't print out or stamp some cute Christmas designs. Cellophane bags work best for this project.

Capture the Moment - not a lot of templates, but great ideas for making beautiful packaging. I love the standy up box -- very like the fry box, but more elegant.

There are more ways to customize a package than I could possible list in a hundred days of typing, so I'm going to give you a few small suggestions....

Add a photograph.
Find some digital scrapbooking paper online.

Glue on some wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, or other fancy paper.
Add some stickers.
Stamp it!

As everyone knows, I'm the alchemist not the artisan, so I'm not great with the visuals. But here are a few links for some beautiful packaging.

Essential Packaging in Surrey has some cute ideas!

Martha Stewart (video) (turn your volume down because it's really loud!) -- if you want to make these little bags with the window in them, make up a bag, cut a hole into it, glue a piece of transparency sheet to the inside of the box, and fold it all up!

And this site has tons of beautiful ideas for packaging -- some you buy, some you make, all lovely.


Check out Shabby Princess digital scrapbooking - I love her stuff! A lot of really funky, distressed patterns. Check out all the various packages on her site. Warning...the download is pretty big (at least 30 MB so make sure you're not on dial-up! But really, is anyone on dial up any more?)
Seasonal Sampler
Holiday Magic

And Pixel Decor's holiday stuff is to die for! (Click the link for the ornament and snowflake patterns.) They are quite small, but easy to tile so you can use it for larger patterns.

Christmas printable wallpapers that are quite nice, but impossible to download for us Mac users!

Now you have no excuse not to make a ton of presents this Christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - more chocolate and candy!

Yep, there's even more you can do with chocolate once you've learned the basics of chocolate making...

For visual instruction, click here!
You can paint in your molds to create chocolates with different colours. For instance, you can create a cute present chocolate (like the one in the link above) by painting the bow first with the chocolate of your choice and a paintbrush. Put it into the fridge to set, then continue on with the pouring of the chocolate. You can make layers -- my favourite chocolate mold for Christmas is a scene of a fireplace with stockings. I used red for the stockings, grey for the fireplace, yellow for the fire, brown for the logs, and so on. I painted one colour, put it into the fridge, waited for the chocolate to set, then did the next colour. It's great fun -- try it!

For this project you'll need a suitable mold, fondant or other filling, and melted chocolate. Do not use anything for the filling containing water. So no jam or cupcake icing here. Peanut butter, nutella, or fondant are great choices. You can flavour the filling with flavour oils, but not with water based extracts like you'd find at the grocery store.

Chocolate covered cherries are beautiful and tasty. Try these when you make filled chocolates.

Or peppermint patties. I have a mold for these, but you can make them as a dipped chocolate.

Here are some great tutorial sites:
Candy Molds and Candy Making - how to use your molds, melt chocolate, and create 3-D chocolates with molds.

One Stop Candle - yes, this is a chocolate making site. Learn about double boilers and melting chocolate.

Basic Filled Chocolates - you can use any filling you like; you don't have to use the one he suggests. Get some fondant from Dicken's or make your own. Put in some Nutella (YUM!) or peanut butter or anything that ISN'T WATER BASED! (Jam will not work here...)

More on how to use molds - some nice basics here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - chocolate!

Everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like chocolate! And it's the perfect gift for Christmas! It's easy, it's fun, and if you make a mistake, eat it!

Choose the chocolate wafers from somewhere like Superstore or Price-Smart - get a lot, you're going to need it. Do not use a regular chocolate bar. The melting wafers contain more cocoa butter to help them melt easier. Get or create a double boiler and put the chocolate into the pot. With chocolate, you want to melt it slowly and cool it quickly to avoid getting crystals. Always put your chocolate in the fridge to cool -- it creates that nice, shiny outside we love so much.

You can't use just any colourants for chocolate -- you need powdered. Because chocolate is oil based, adding food colouring to it will curdle the chocolate and make a horrible mess.

Why the heck would you want to flavour chocolate? It's chocolate flavoured, the best flavour in the world. Ah, but sometimes we want that little bit extra, that oomph that screams "I'm awesome, eat me!" For this you want flavour oils -- again, water based extracts will make it curdle and be disgusting -- so I'm going to suggest the flavour oils by Lorann Oils. They're not expensive, and you can use them for lip balms if you have some left over. (Susan's personal favourites - lime, cheesecake, pralines & cream, and cotton candy!) Use about 1 tsp (5 ml) for 1 lb (454 grams of chocolate). As you're unlikely to use 454 grams of one flavour of chocolate at once, I'd suggest using about 1 ml for every 100 grams or so. Pour in the oil, mix, try it, and if you want a little more, add a little more.

This is the easiest of the various chocolate-y treats. Just melt some chocolate, add your colour and flavour (optional), then pour into the mold of your choice. Bang the mold on the kitchen counter to get out all the air bubbles, and place into the fridge. Wait (yeah, this is the hardest part, I admit). Remove from the fridge when done and pop them out. (Press on the mold until the chocolate pops out. If it doesn't pop out, it's not ready!)

For molds you can use the candy or chocolate molds from the craft store, but you can use various things, like mini cupcake pans, silicone ice cube trays, and other plastic ware that looks interesting.

This is just a variation on molding chocolate -- use a mold that will allow you to insert a stick. Pour the chocolate into the mold, then roll the lollipop stick into the chocolate ensuring it is fully covered. Then give the mold a bang on the counter and put into the fridge. Remove but DO NOT REMOVE IT BY THE STICK or you will break it and cry.

Chocolate bark is traditionally white with almonds in it, but we don't stand on tradition around here! This is an easy, fun, excellent project for gift giving! You can put them into a circular mold, for instance, or just spread it out on a baking sheet covered in wax paper.

For almond bark, you'll want about 9 almonds for 20 grams of chocolate, but you can add what you like.

Crush up a candy cane. Add it to about 30 grams of chocolate. Mix. Spread on a piece of wax paper and put into the fridge. When it's set, break it up and put it into a cute bag.

CANDY HEARTS BARK (Valentine's day)
Buy some candy hearts. Add then to about 30 grams of chocolate. You know the rest...

Mix about 30 grams of melted white chocolate with 1 tbsp peanut butter. (The more you add, the more "fudge-y" it will be. So feel free to reduce or increase the peanut butter.) If you put the peanut butter on a spoon then pour the chocolate on top of it, the peanut butter will melt nicely. Spread on a piece of wax paper and put into the fridge. If you want to get all fancy, you can drizzle some melted milk or dark chocolate on top of it in a pattern.

PANTHER BUTTER: Same as above, only use milk or dark chocolate.

Mix about 30 grams of melted chocolate -- your choice of colour and flavour -- and spread on a plastic plate or baking sheet. Put into the fridge. Melt another 30 grams of chocolate -- may I suggest you change the flavour and/or colour so they're very pretty -- and pour that on top of the first layer. Put into the fridge. Finally, melt another 30 grams of chocolate and pour that on top of the first two layers. There. Done.

Ah, you're going to have to wait until Saturday for this!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - beeswax candles!

Beeswax candles are awesome, and seriously easy to make! You don't need a ton of supplies -- some wicking, an X-acto knife, a ruler, and sheets of beeswax -- to make some beautiful, burnable gifts. (You can get beeswax at Chilliwack Honey in Greendale or Michael's or Voyageur. The Michael's stuff isn't great -- they don't store it properly, so it gets hard and old and really difficult to work with, so my suggestion is shop local or visit Voyageur!)

Sushi Candles!
This is a great tutorial with pictures, and I recommend it! I prefer to use smooth sheets of beeswax for everything but the rice (white beeswax sheet), but you can use the crinkly stuff if you like. I like to make both the maki version (black on the outside) and the California-Dynamite roll types.

An alternative: Make liquorice allsorts using black for the middle and pink for the outside! Or black and yellow, or black and blue!

Packaging your sushi candle: I love the take out boxes from Daiso meant for real sushi, but you could get any kind of cute box or make your own (coming up shortly -- packaging ideas!). Roll up a little green for the wasabi, a little pink for the ginger, and add a pair of chopsticks. How cute is that?

Tapered candles using this tutorial or this tutorial.
Try connecting two small tapers together by using a long wick that will fit both ends!

Cookie cutter candles -- use stacks of beeswax to get a higher candle! Tutorials here and here! Imagine the cute cookie cutters you could use. I have a pirate ship one -- that would be awesome!

And, as always, I have supplies to share if you want to make some of these projects!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - candles!

Nothing says Christmas like lighting a candle and filling your house with light and fragrance. I like making tea lights this time of year -- you could make one large candle, but why not make a whack of them in various scents and colours and change them every day?

Here are my instructions for making colourful, smelly tea light candles that should burn up to 6 hours each!

SUPPLIES (you can get these at Michael's or Voyageur. And your scents are available from any of the links to the side...)
Tealight cups - metal or plastic
Pre-tabbed wicks (pre-tabbed tea light wicks are the best choice...)
Wax (I prefer 1242 wax because you can pull the candles out of the tea light containers if you want)
Fragrance (oil soluble with a decent flashpoint -- ask the retailer if you can use that fragrance for candles)
A melting pot for wax, a pot for water (to double boil the wax), something hot like a stove or hot plate

We will be using about 15 grams of melted wax per tea light and scenting at 8 to 10%, or 1 to 1.5 ml fragrance oil.


1. Melt your wax in a double boiler on the stove or hot plate. Make sure you are melting your wax in a heat proof container like a pyrex or metal jug. (I cracked one of mine because I didn't check whether it was heat proof or not!) You will want to use about 1.5 kg of wax for 100 tea lights. You can use an electric frying pan filled with water here. You will want to fill a few smaller containers with wax if you do this. If you want to re-melt your wax (see below), an electric frying pan is a great way to do it without burning yourself.

2. In another heat proof container, shave off some of the colour from the colour wax block. You won't need much as some of the colours will do up to 10 pounds of wax, so a shaving will most likely be enough!

3. Get out as many tea light cups as you would like to make with this colour of wax. It is approximately 2 tablespoons per tea light, but go a little over. We will wick them later, don't worry!

4. Get your scent ready. We want about 1 ml of scent per tea light. (1/5 of a teaspoon.)

5. When your wax has melted, pour your chosen amount into your second container with the colour. (Remember, it's a little less than 2 tablespoons per tea light, but we will want a little extra.) Stir it well with a wooden stir stick or spoon until the colour has melted completely into the wax (the spoon will get messy, so a disposable stir stick is a better choice.) To check the colour, drop a little on a white piece of paper. This is what it will look like in your candle. If you like it, get ready to add the scent. If you want the colour to be stronger, then add another shaving of the colour wax block. If you want it to be lighter, then add a little more wax to this container.

6. Adding scent is a fine art, to be honest. The wax is hot so some of the scent will burn off. You can use up to 2 ml of scent per candle, but this is going to be strong, so I recommend starting with 1 ml of candle scent and increasing it once you've burned it to see if you like it that way! (1 ml will offer a nice, light scent you can smell when you come into a room. At 2 ml, you'll really notice it when it's not burning!) Pour the scent into your second container and stir. It is going to cool the wax down a little bit, so if you notice the wax is setting too quickly, very carefully hold your container in the double boiler for a few seconds and stir it. It will melt again nicely. (If you leave it too long, the scent will burn off, so make sure you don't leave it longer than necessary.)

7. Pour your wax into your tea light. Wait until it goes a bit cloudy - between 1 and 5 minutes -- then press the wick into the middle of the candle and hold it for a second or two. It will eventually stick to the bottom. Try to keep the wick centered, because an uncentered wick can burn unevenly. It's not the end of the world, but you will notice that the candle won't burn as nicely.

8. OPTIONAL: As the wax cools, a pit will form in the centre of the tea light. This isn't a big deal and will not affect the burning of the candle. But if you save a little of your coloured and scented wax, you can pour a little on top to fill in the dent. You can also use a heat gun (it's easier to do it this way...if you own a heat gun!)

9. OPTIONAL: You can layer your candles with different colours. After adding your wick, wait a few minutes. Then pour a different colour and/or scent on top of the cooling wax. That's it. Pretty easy, eh?

10. You're done. Rejoice. Wait at least 24 hours to let the candle cool completely before you light it. (The paraffin molecules have their own odour -- by waiting up to 1 week, you're letting them set and smell only the candle!) And trim the wick to about 1/4 inch or 6 mm as you don't want a huge wick on your tea lights.

As a note, these instructions are good for beeswax and soy wax candles, but you will need to get a different kind of wick.


Cupcake candles! Yep, I'm obsessed with cupcakes, but these are too freakin' sweet not to make for gift giving fun!

Beeswax tea lights - very nice, but you don't add fragrance to these ones. Enjoy the scent of the natural beeswax! (You'll need different wicks -- the RRD34. See link below.)

SOY CANDLES: If you want to make soy tea lights, you'll need to get different wicks and different wax. Obviously you'll need soy wax instead of paraffin wax, and you'll need to get the RRD34 wicks because these burn hotter.