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).

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 ;).

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:


Art for Tarts

So, I used to have secret dreams of becoming a beret-wearing, cigarette smoking, beatnik artist. It would be nothing for me to pick up a shirt or two because, “I could see myself painting in that”. However, through my grown-up years, I’ve found that while the art we hear the most about is often wrapped in pretentiousness and snob-jobbery, most artists are not. The best artists are the ones who aren’t afraid to give up their secrets and let you experiment for yourself, a la:

Ba-blam! Bob Ross is the man. Not only is his soothing, melodic voice the only thing I can stand on hung-over Saturday mornings, but he actually cuts the bullshit and tells you exactly what to do. Ex. Take your brush… put it in the titanium white, put it here on the canvas. Fabulous. I love a man who can talk about painting and not the “pain deep in my soul” (artsy fartsy types drive me off the deep end). So, I’ve taken a cue from Mr. Ross and figured I’d post up some instructions on making some cute “stick up on your wall” art. However, I’m going to let you in on a little secret about oil painting that no-one tells you: that shizz is expensive. And in my opinion a painting shouldn’t cost a hundred-gazillion dollars to be seen as an accomplishment. I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a cheap-decorator and I’d rather make my own artwork than hang up some swirls of paint from some chap I don’t know from my Uncle Ernie. So, here goes:

What you’ll need:

  •  One piece of canvas. I prefer the stretched stuff because getting paintings framed is a major hassle, for which I have no time. “Gallary Wrap” is what fancy fuddy-duddies call this stuff 😉 You can get this at most craft stores but you could end up fiddling away your hard earned nickels. Walmart canvas is where it’s at. I got a pack of 5 for somewhere abouts 20 bucks.
  • 1 bottle of paint thinner. You can get this anywhere. Mine cost me 2 dollars and will last me until apocalypse is upon us. 
  •  Assorted brushes. This is the only place I’ll ever tell anyone not to skimp. There’s no need to buy individual brushes because they’re usually expensive and often end up getting destroyed (maybe that’s because I paint like I’m at war) but a nice pack of 5 nylon ones will run you 5-7 dollars and you will use these for everything. Read the labels carefully, because stiff bristles will make your painting look like you did it with a rake. Take care of your brushes and they’ll take care of you. Although, I recommend not leaving them in charge of your children as they won’t take care of them.
  • Oil Pastels. Now, some arts stores are tricky and will tell you that these suckers can go for pretty expensive and then they’ll try and sell you the best that money can buy. I got these for a dollar at Dollarama and they are golden. Hoo-ah!

Step One: Print this. You may need to make it bigger or smaller depending on how big your canvas is. Or, eyeball it if you got drawing skills.

Step Two:

 If you have printed the above, cut out the pink dotted lines.

Step Three:

Slap it on your canvas and lightly trace around it with a pencil.  I say lightly because if you leave too much lead behind you’ll end up muddling the grey into your colours and everything will end up a hazy shade of Winter.  After you’re done tracing you may have to add in a couple lines here and there that are un-traceable, like the lines in the cupcake cup. 

Step Four:

Pick your colours and go to town with oil pastels. They work just like crayons. Try not to press too hard, because you don’t want itty-bits of crumbled pastel all over the place. If it’s not dark enough for your liking you can always go back and add more after the painting step. For the background pick a lighter colour pastel and use it horizontally on the canvas so you can cover a large area. I’d recommend applying a little bit more pastel in the corners, making it darker and giving your picture some depth.

Step Five:

Dip your brush of choice in your paint thinner and stroke along your pastels. Give it a go and don’t be afraid. I’ve seen my friend Marlena stare at a blank piece of canvas for what seems like hours, terrified to touch brush to canvas lest she make a mistake. This is not science, put down the rulers, people! If you think something would look good, throw it in there. I just put some circles in the background doing the same “technique”, drawing in oil pastel then painting over with paint thinner.  This is your painting and it represents you. It figures that my favorite things to paint are tarts ;).

When you get into it it takes you a very short time to make one painting and you’ll get braver at free-handing.  Here are a couple more I did:

Step Five: Stand back and marvel at your masterpiece which costs about five, fiddy.  Sign your name and display proudly. Or, better yet, sign someone else’s name and tell all your artsy-fartsy friends you got it at auction for a c-note.