Christmas Cards and Cardigans: I’ll be Coughing Glitter for a Week

Hey All, This is a piece I wrote last year and had forgotten to post.  🙂  More like Procrastinate-y Bitch, amiright?

So, over the weekend two of my friends had what I liked to call “First Christmas”.  Both of them are embarking on the crazy, fun adventure of moving to Saudi Arabia for a year to work.  So, my amigos, Crowe and Lady J, unfortunately will be spending their time eating McDonalds that can be delivered 24-hours-a-day and soaking up the sun in one of these spicy little numbers instead of shoveling their driveways and wearing 8 layers of clothes to keep from turning into people-sicles.

What actually sucks about their Arabian adventure is that they’ll be missing Christmas, which they are not allowed to publicly celebrate in the land of milk and camels.  The upside is that we are clever girls who have thought of a way to lesson this sting of holiday-withdrawal:  We had a “First Christmas” for them.  “First Christmas” is just like regular Christmas except no one drunkenly falls into the Christmas tree.  We ate dips and yummy homemade soup and hor d’oerves until we felt sick, then we exchanged presents and then settled in for a long winter’s nap, only to awake for turkey dinner.  Anyway, the point of this scpheel is that because they’ve been downsizing their lives to prepare for the move, Lady J gifted me all of her scrapbooking supplies—I was so excited I almost peed my pants.  So, I’ve been spending the whole day making Christmas cards and I figured I’d share my card-making experience with you 🙂

First and foremost, the first thing I learned was that one should figure out a couple of designs and stick to them.  If you try to get too Martha-y with these bad boys, you’ll get overwhelmed and quit after a couple.  Christmas is not the time to reach for the top; Christmas is a time to reach for the bare minimum and have low expectations of those around you, because, man, we’re all fucking tired.  I’ve been there—trying to wrap gifts and bake 3 fruitcakes, all while trying to transform my humble abode into a Winter Wonderland.  Well, I can tell you from personal experience—I ended up with a garbage can full of wrapping paper, 3 fruit-doorstops and my apartment ended up looking like a holly-jolly holiday hell-hole.  Don’t take on too much, my wee Gingerbread people, I worry about you.

Dos

  • Do look around before you buy, especially if you’re planning on sending out lots of cards.  If you’re willing to dig a little at your local dollar store you can find paper just as good as the fancy stuff.  Likewise, scrapbooking snobs will tell you that you “simply have to get the best quality rubber stamp because yadda yadda will deteriorate in such and such kind of ink” which is, to be blunt, a shimmering pile of reindeer-shit.  Usually that best quality rubber stamp will cost you your first-born and aren’t much different from the dollar-store kind except they might be a little more intricate in design.  If you’re fine with the plainer ones, then punch those stamp-snobs in the face and proceed with your day.
  • Do use glitter.  Some people think it’s tacky, these people have Grinch-hearts and smelly faces.
  • Do stray from the norm and find your own bits and bobs:  I like to use swirl candies in wrappers or pretty bits I’ve cut off of old Christmas cards or newspaper print (non-descript, of course, you don’t want your card recipient reading all about the Scranton Strangler, and whatnot).  I’m not going to patronize you by going through every single item you can stick on a piece of paper–my readers are smart.

Don’ts

  • Don’t spend when you don’t have to—Sure, you can spend 8 bones on pre-folded cards but no one is that lazy that they can’t fold paper.
  • Don’t buy the gadgets— The ladies in my card making class raved about their “paper cutters”.  How convenient, she was selling them for only $29.99.  Do you know what they called “paper cutters” in my day?  Fucking scissors.
  • Don’t stick to my designs– If you feel a crafty wind a-blowing, go with it 🙂

A Girly one— Pink! At Christmas!  Well that’s just re-dick!

Think Pink

Think Pink

A Trendy One– Black and purple, like my bruised soul.
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A Classic Folky One– For all those little kittens on your Christmas Card list who hate straying from tradition (all the people you can’t tell dirty jokes to).
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As I said, I had made a bunch in my first attempts but I narrowed it down to these three that I liked the most for reproduction. Here are the others:
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And the final step is just to fill in the guts of the card.  What to write, you ask?  Well, that’s easy, just follow your heart! Ooooor, this website.

Merry Christmas, ya ho-ho-hos!

Homemade Gifts or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bath Bombs

So,  I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping lately and as I’ve been wandering through throngs of people (seriously, don’t you people have jobs or families to go to?) and sifting through shelves of all the useless shit that’s piled up in the big box stores of this city and I’ve come to a realization that some of you little fruitcakes might have already had:  Christmas gift shopping sucks.  I know what you’re thinking: “But, Oh Crafty One, it’s only November, it can’t be that bad!”  But it is… it’s worse.  I like to spend most of my Christmas holidays not wanting to hang myself from the rafters with a piece of tack-licious tinsel garland, so I stay out of stores by getting all my gifts early.  However, I think I might be giving away too many of my secrets because it seems the masses have figured out my ploy and followed me, Pied-Piper-style, to Walmart and beyond.
So, what is a Crafty Bitch to do when you want to please your friendly-wendlies and loved ones and not kill your fellow shoppers in the process?  Why, you just whip together some hassle-free treats, stick on a gift tag, and call it a day.

One of the most underrated treasures in the world is homemade gifts.  Think about all the absolute crap you’ve gotten in your lifetime and how much it actually meant to you.  If I could take all the shitty teddy bears I’ve gotten in my life and get them together, I wouldn’t have a teddy bear picnic, I’d have a teddy bear bonfire.  I don’t know about you, but I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need any more junk, and so are most of my friends, so why should I be throwing away tons of my hard-earned money at the mall finding that perfect something  when my pal-ios probably already have two of them, or they never wanted it in the first place.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the most valuable thing you can give someone is your time, so why not put together a few time-filled goodies.

Bath Bombs
These are super easy to make and I love them because when you throw them in the drink with ya it’s like soaking in a big glass of champagne.

They’re also awesome  because you can lie and tell people they took you all day and they’ll believe you (Remember: The best relationships are built on a foundation of lies).

Ingredients:
1 cup baking soda:
I say sodium bicarbonate because it helps me remember baking soda, not powder.  Also, it makes me sound like  a fancy scientist: “Hmm, yes, I need some sodium bicarbonate for cleaning my flatware… AND MY DEATH RAY”.  You can get this anywhere, I like Bulk Barn because it’s cheapy-cheapy and I can pick up  a shit load of candy while I’m at it.

1/2 cup of citric acid:
… or as I like to call it– Waldo, because it can be pretty hard to find.  Here’s a few little tricks to finding it though that I didn’t really think of when I went out a-lookin’: Know what it looks like:
(I put a tiny wind-up Santa next to it to give you an idea of how big it should be.  Then I realized that tiny Santa’s aren’t exactly a universal measurement, but fuck it, I’m not taking the photo again.)

Secondly, you’ll probably be asked what citric acid used for just so they’ll know what section of the store to find it in.  The answer is- It should be everywhere, but it’s usually nowhere.  It can be used in small amounts as an additive to jams and jellies so it could be found in the canning section of Walmart, it’s also used to ripen cheese so it might be in your local health food or cooking supply stores, also, you can use it to cut heroine so you might try asking your local drug dealer.  Just joking, smack is whack.  Anyway, I thought I could just go out and ask some nice helpful salespeople and someone would have an idea.  However, most people looked at me like I was trying to build a bomb.  Which I was… a bath bomb!  (Just FYI, it’s probably not a good idea to use that one to said suspicious salespeople.)  After 2 Walmart`s, 4 Shopper’s Drug Marts, 2 Dominions (brawl with rude customer service lady thrown in for free), and 1 Sobey’s,  I had a stroke of genius that involved calling around before heading out.  Of course the first place I called was a wine making supply store that had tons of the stuff.  So, I’d look there first.  If you’re okay to wait, I’d recommend checking out Ebay or the Brewery Lane’s online store, Clickabrew, which is the store I got mine from.

2 teaspoons of cornstarch
Easy enough.

4 teaspoons of grapeseed oil
If you don’t know what grapeseed oil is it’s because it’s been camouflaged next to the olive oil at the grocery store for all these years.

A few drops of food colouring
I use neon food colouring because I’m wild and craaaaazy.

A few drops of fragrance
You can get these at Michael`s or any place with soap making supplies.  I’m not usually one who heeds all the warnings but I’ve heard that you must use soap fragrance as candle scent can irritate you body when added to a bath and I always abide by such disclaimers when my hoo-ha is involved ;).

Extras
There are a few extras you can add to your bath bombs, such as vitamin E oil, but really you’d just be spending money to gild the lily.  Some people add sugar, sprinkles, or candies, but apparently these peoples’ mothers didn’t teach them about the pitfalls of women’s health (Thanks, Ma!).

Instructions (Make sure you pay attention, it’s real tricky)
1.  Mix wet ingredients in a cup (this batch is grapefruit flavoured, in case you were wondering).

2.  Mix dry ingrediants in a bowl.

3.  Add contents of cup to bowl.

4.  Smoosh.   Throughout your smooshing process you will need to add more oil, just keep going until you get a sticky-ish consistency– enough so when you shape it it doesn’t fall apart.  Don’t worry if you go a bit overboard, as long as you don’t turn it into bath bomb-slop you can even it out with more baking soda.  P.S.  You will love how your hands feel after this– soft like buttah.

BAM! you got your mixture.  Use anything you want as a mold- ice cube trays, chocolate molds, plastic Christmas ornaments, it’s all good.
I like the little bubble  containers you get from gumball machines.  Pack it hard (that’s what she said) then extract from your mold.  Again, if they are a little powdery or oily just let them sit for a while to harden up.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match colours, some of my favorites are pink and green melon scented, and white vanilla paired with orange tangerine to make cream-sicle.

Put them in baggies, throw some straw or ribbon on it, and give them to all your smelly friends 🙂 .

Oh, and for all my homies reading this right now:  Guess what prezzie you’re getting!  And for all my friends that don’t like baths:  aw well, maybe you’ll get something next year.

Song of the Day:

Get Some Scents: Start Sniffing the Seasons

Walking into my Ma’s house during the holiday season always reminds me of being a kid.  As soon as you walk in the door you get punched in the face by a taste-tastic blend of cookies, Christmas tree, and just enough rum to make it a happy holiday season.  When I started living on my own I tried to copy this smell, however, not having fully developed my crafty bitch powers mixed with copious anxiety brought on by end of term finals meant I didn’t have the time or energy to put into it.  So, what’s a junior crafty bitch in training meant to do?  I bought a candle!  Whomp, whomp.

The problem with Christmas candles, mon petite bon-bons, is that they come in three scents: Vanilla, which is generally tasty but is a smell of any day of the year, evergreen, which is supposed to smell like a snow-filled forest or some bullshit but ends up something more akin to Pine-Sol, and Winterberry.  Winterberry is a variety of holly and, for anyone who doesn’t know, real holly actually smells like a big fat sack of…. wait for it…. nothing!  In an open statement to the candle companies of the world I would like to say:

I’m all about the commercialization of Christmas, but don’t scrape the bottom of the aroma pot, slap a stock-photo on the packaging, and tell me it’s the smell of heart-warming seasons to come.

In an effort to combat shitty holiday marketing ploys, my friend Marlena, who I will now refer to her only as Ms. Cardigan, likes to pull a fast one on her guests and make her own easy-peasy, air-freshener at X-Mas time; or as I like to call it an air-holidizer.  Because being a true crafty bitch is partially being a lazy bitch, she captures all of the dee-lish smells of Christmas with a fraction of the work.  So I’ve decided to steal her idea, tailor it to the autumn season, and take all of the credit.  Huzzah!

So, here goes:
What you’ll need:
1 medium sized sauce pan
2 cups of water

Autumn
1 cinnamon stick
2 apple peels
Spices: ½ tbsn ginger, ½ tbsn of nutmeg, ½ tbsn of all spice
1 vanilla bean or 2 tbsns of vanilla extract
Christmas
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange peel
1 tbsn of ginger
About 4 tbsns of needles from an evergreen tree (think the park, tree farm, etc.).  We’re an artificial tree family, so this ingredient rocks my reindeer socks off.

Slap your ingredients and water in a pot and turn on the oven.  Let your aromatic mixture sit on the lowest heat and if you notice it getting a little dry add some water.  I’m not going to be like the candle-company hoodlums and tell you not to leave your mixture unattended, but I will say don’t be an idiot and burn your house down.

Try your own different concoctions at home—although I recommend not making a smell of spring air-freshener as a whiff of simmering grass isn’t as delightful as it sounds.

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice,
Crafty Bitch

Song of the Day: