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!

FOR BATH AND BODY PRODUCTS
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!

LABELS FOR SEWN PRODUCTS
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

MISCELLANEOUS LABELS GOOD FOR ALL KINDS OF THINGS

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!

BATH SALTS and CHOCOLATE LOLLIPOPS
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.

CHOCOLATE FOILS
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!)

BATH CUPCAKES and SUSHI CANDLES
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...

CUPCAKES and CHOCOLATES
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!

PACKAGING YOU CAN PRINT!
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.

CUSTOMIZING YOUR PACKAGING
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....

BEFORE PRINTING IT OUT...
Add a photograph.
Find some digital scrapbooking paper online.

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

PRESENTATION IDEAS
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.

PRINTABLE PRETTIES!

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...

PAINTING WITH CHOCOLATE
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!

MAKING FILLED CHOCOLATES
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!

MELTING THE CHOCOLATE
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.

COLOURING CHOCOLATE
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.

FLAVOURING CHOCOLATE
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.

MOLDING CHOCOLATE
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.

CHOCOLATE LOLLIPOPS
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
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.

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

CANDY CANE BARK
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...

TIGER BUTTER
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.

LAYERED CHOCOLATES
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.

PACKAGING CHOCOLATES
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)
Colour blocks (DO NOT USE CRAYONS BECAUSE THEY CAN FLAME UP!)
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.

INSTRUCTIONS:

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.

TRY THESE IDEAS FOR OTHER CANDLES...

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.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - sewing a flax bag

Yeah, I like sewing, but there are so many things you can do with a needle and thread!

FLAX BAGS
You must know someone who is stressed out and needs to relax (perhaps that person is me? It has been a very long year!) So why not make them a hot and cold flax bag for their de-stressing needs.

Supplies:
piece of flannel (make sure it's 100% cotton)
needle and thread (or sewing machine)
scissors
flax - about 454 grams, get it from the bulk section in Superstore
(you could use rice, but flax stays hot longer, and it isn't that expensive!)

Instructions
1. Put the right sides of the flannel together and cut out a piece of flannel about 12 inches long and 6 1/2 inches wide (that's 30 cm long and 17 cm wide). (This means your unpretty side is facing up.)
2. Fold over the flannel and mark your hem at 1/4 inch (6 mm) on all sides but the folded one.
3. Sew up one short side and one long side. Sew part of the remaining short side but leave a gap so you can fill it with flax seeds.
4. Cut the corners of the bag on an angle close to the edges. This will give you a nice, clean corner. Then flip the bag inside out and iron it. Yeah, I hate ironing, but it will make for a prettier bag.
5. Now fill the bag with about 300 to 400 grams of flax.
6. Sew up the gap.
You're done.

You want to put these instructions on the bag -- Heat in a microwave at for 2 minutes. Please include a cup of water in the microwave while heating. If you want the bag to be hotter, please heat at 1 minute intervals for a maximum of 5 minutes.

And now you have an awesome present!

For inexpensive fabric, check out Fabricland sales. They have tons of really cute flannels. But make sure it is 100% cotton!

If you want to make a rice bag or make something more quilt-y, check out this posting at Sew Mama Sew. (Bookmark this site for tons of sewing ideas!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents -- bath & body products


Continuing with the idea of a wonderful handmade Christmas, may I suggest making your own bath & body products? They're cute, they're smelly, and people like to bathe (well, most of the people I know like to bathe!)

BATH BOMBS
These are super easy if you follow the instructions properly. Bath bombs are made with citric acid and baking soda. When you add them to the bath, they fizz up when they touch the water. So you don't want to use water based colours or scents in these.

My recipe:
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup citric acid
1 to 2 tbsp oil of your choice (I like soy bean oil, but olive oil is awesome also)
colour
about 1 tsp of fragrance oil (not water based - and do not use perfume!!!)
Mix together your baking soda and citric acid. Then add the oil, a few drops of colour, and your fragrance oil. Mix together well. You can press these into a cupcake pan lined with a cute cupcake liner for a cupcake look, or use a silicone ice cube tray. Press very well. (If you don't have a mold, try using your hands to make a ball!) Let sit over night. Package in a cute bag or box. You're done!

Here's Anne-Marie's updated blog entries for making bath bombs -- here and part two, here. Check out the day two post for an adorable packaging idea and label links!

BATH SALTS
These are even easier than bath bombs! You can use water based colourants and fragrances for this project.

My recipe for 100 grams of bath salts (enough for 2 baths):
1/4 cup epsom salts
colour (use food colouring here if you like)
2 to 3 ml fragrance oil of your choice
Put the epsom salts into a cup. Add your colour. Add your scent. Stir. Package in a cellophane bag or glass container. Label and give to your favourite person who needs a hot, relaxing bath!

MELT & POUR SOAP
Melt & pour soap is easy and fun.

You'll need...
melt & pour soap of any type
a colourant -- you can use a variety of colourants here...food colouring works well, or you can get some colours specifically for the bath and body things and use those as well
a scent (fragrance or essential oils)
a mold (silicone ice cube trays are fun, as are chocolate molds)

Melt your melt & pour soap in a double boiler. Don't have the water temperature too high -- don't let it boil -- and let it melt slowly. You can mix it as you wait -- it feels like you're actually doing something instead of just sitting around waiting!

Add colour and scent (about 7.5 grams per 454 grams or 1 gram for every 60 grams of soap), mix together until the colour is nice, then pour into your molds.

Spray the back of the soap with rubbing alcohol -- it takes out the bubbles.

Now wait until the soaps are set. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe 2 hours -- it depends on how much you used!

Package in a cute box or cellophane bag and gift away!

Visit Anne-Marie's site for more information.
And you have to try the soap cupcakes! Too cute for words! They have some great tips & tricks for melt & pour soap making.
OH MY GOSH! You have to see Anne-Marie's birthday cake idea! (Hey, I've got a birthday coming up...hint hint! And if anyone needs "Hello Sweet Thang" or "Cream Cheese Icing" I have a little too much in my workshop!)

Hope you've enjoyed these ideas. Don't forget -- if you want to try some of these projects but need some supplies, let me know and I'm happy to share my stash of scents, colours, and molds!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - sewing tutorials!

Sewing presents can be a little time consuming -- especially if you're like me and you hand sew and are picky about how you cut things out -- but you can make wonderful pouches and wallets for your loved ones with nothing more than a piece of fabric, a printed pattern, a needle, and thread. But if you're running low on funds this Christmas, a quick trip to Fabricland, Wal-Mart, or Hamel's can get you a ton of cute bags for practically nothing! If you had 1 metre of fabric, a few zips, some matching thread, and some grommets, you could make everything listed here (okay, the iPod case is felt, but at 49 cents a sheet when it's not on sale, it's even cheaper!)


Make a cute pouch bag...like the one I use for our Gloom game (above). Or find another version at thimble.ca

Sew a cute pencil case using the grommets we used in the backpack making group in the summer.

Cute felt iPod nano case. You can applique some of the adorable pictures from the "Cute Book" on the front -- the serious monkey would be great on this!

Tea Wallet Tutorial - use your snap smashing skills here and make a cute wallet. You don't have to use it for tea -- cards and money will go in here quite nicely.

Very cute drawstring pouch - refer to the drawstring backpack pattern we did in the summer for inserting the cord!

Sew a pirate hat! You must know a few pirates with cold heads!

Simple coasters! Great for the bits of fabric you just can't throw out!

Key chains and lunch bags! So cute!

Very cute wallet with a zipper.

I hope I've given you a few ideas...next up, bath & body product ideas for Christmas!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cookie and cupcake decorating links

Eat this cake, become invincible!

So we had fun last night decorating cookies and cupcakes, despite the disgusting cherry filling mix (I won't try to freeze cream cheese and cherry pie filling again, I promise!) Can you believe I've never ever decorated cookies before? So I know what project I'm doing before the holiday season!

Here are some links that will keep you decorating and filling for the Christmas season!

Some basics...
How to fill and use the piping bag
Decorating Cookies!
Cake decorating basics!
How to Eat a Cupcake - awesome recipes and ideas!
Cupcake Bake Shop
Hi-Hat Cupcakes at Martha Stewart - very challenging, and ignore the stupid video (turn your sound down!)

How to make cream cheese cherry filling (or other flavoured fillings!)
1 - 8oz package of cream cheese (regular, not light!)
1 tin of pie filling (any flavour) - about 500 ml
Cream the cream cheese until it is soft. Leave it out of the fridge to get soft before using.
Then blend up the pie filling until the berries or bits are blended. We used a food processor -- you can use a blender or chopper here.
Mix together. Put into piping bag with a berliner tip on it (some call it an eclair tip) and pipe into your cupcakes!

Hope you have some fun decorating cakes. As a note, did you know that you can get almost 80 mini cupcakes from one box of cake mix? (So 3 mini cupcakes work out to about 1 large cupcake...with more icing! Which is always a bonus!) And don't forget to bake the cupcakes at about 2/3 of the time as the large cupcakes -- so for a recipe calling for 17 minutes for a regular cupcake, try it at 12 minutes or you'll burn them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Handmade Christmas presents - a series of tutorials

We've learned a lot in craft group in the last few years, and Christmas is the best time to show off your mad crafting skills! Although you can't knit an iPod or create a DS game, you can make some beautiful presents that will make your giftees happy and create a less stressed out holiday time for you. I always love handmade presents at Christmas. I know some people think you're being cheap, but I think of how much work and energy that person took to make this for me. She considered my personal tastes, favourite colours (lime green is always safe, eh?), my needs, and thought about how I'll react when I open it and see the beautiful gift within.

I'll never forget how I really got into crafting. Sure I was cross-stitching, but I wasn't making things from scratch. My friend, Melissa, gave me a beautiful crocheted scarf for my birthday. It was stunning and meant so much to me. I wear it all the time, and every single time I think of Melissa. She showed me how to crochet and that lead to knitting, sewing, and all the other things I have learned to do in the last six years.

So she not only gave me the gift of a wonderful scarf that keeps me warm when I walk the dog at night, she gave me the gift of crafting...how amazing is that?

(I now return you to your less sappy programming...)