I'm not exactly sure how I decided to make all of our Christmas presents this year. I think I would describe it as the perfect storm of revived frugality, a raging Pinterest addiction, and sheer, Type A determination. Because, you know, it's not like I have a lot of free time, or ever have the luxury of getting too much sleep or feeling "bored." No, it's not that I needed to fill my idle time with crafts. I just ... well, I just decided it was a good idea.
Durel, of course, was on board. He is infinitely supportive of my ideas, which range from ambitious to impossible to wacky. He is supportive of them, I believe, because it's important to be supportive of your spouse; because he is frequently impressed with what I manage to do/create/pull off; and because he was excited that my toil over our Christmas gifts was, to say the least, financially sound. He is a good partner.
That said, here's part one of me getting all Crafty Crafterson.
1. Homemade vanilla extract.
This was fun and super easy. I had in mind a specific way that I wanted the end product to look, so I found this amazing website to order bottles from. I bought cute, preppyish, holiday ribbon from Michaels. I bought vanilla beans en masse from a spice dealer in New York (thank you, Amazon). I used...wait for it...vodka. And some brandy. Because what isn't better with brandy?
The "recipe" goes like this:
-- Open jar.
-- Slice vanilla bean open, lengthwise.
-- Put vanilla bean in jar.
-- Pour vodka in jar.
-- Add splash of brandy.
-- Put lid on jar.
-- Let sit in dark place for about a month.
The up side to this gift is that it's yummy and everyone uses it. And it's cute and easy to give. And relatively gender neutral. (The few dudes that I gave it to were appropriately psyched.) The other up side to this gift is that it is handmade, which is cool, and totally affordable. I am not sure I'm going to repeat it anytime soon, though, because I have to be realistic about how quickly people use vanilla. I don't know. If people start telling me that they've run out and how great it is, I'll definitely do it again.
2. Wine Cork Monograms
This was super fun and pretty easy. (Nothing is quite as easy as pouring vodka into a jar.) Durel and I have been saving our wine corks for a looooooooong time (before you ask any questions). We intended to take them to a local store for recycling, but as my Pinterest addiction gathered steam, I realized that I could, like, *do stuff* with them.
I decided to make wine cork monograms for a few friends and family members. You can use them as a trivet, hang them on the wall, hang them on the wall and use them as a noteboard, whatever you want.
This project was noteworthy for me because it required me to buy a hot glue gun. In all my life, I've never owned a hot glue gun. As such, I thought they were much fancier and more expensive than they actually are. Anyway, here the supplies:
-- hot glue gun
-- wooden letter thing (lots of variety at Hobby Lobby, FYI)
-- lots of wine corks
-- hanging thing to stick on the back so it can be hung on the wall (also from Hobby Lobby)
And here's how it went down:
1. Lay corks out on letter. Save the "good corks" for the outside edges. It's also a good idea to alternate the red end and the not red end for the overall look of the thing.
2. Open glue gun. Realize how easy it is to use. Realize how many corks this project will require. Open bottle of wine. Start drinking.
3. Start gluing. It's a good idea to put a strip of glue lengthwise down the side of each (or every other) cork, as well as putting glue on the bottom. This will ensure the corks stick to the letter, but also to one another, which makes the entire thing sturdier.
4. Let cool and dry.
I, um, forgot to take a picture of the finished products before I sent them off. But, they looked like this, I promise.
Or, actually, more like this because I did the trick of flipping the occasional red wine cork for styling purposes.
I've got to say, these were a huge hit. But because of the unprecedented number of corks required, I only made two -- which were given to two of my brothers-in-law. In fact, I have another wooden letter waiting in the wings for someone's birthday or something, or when I have amassed enough corks to start gluing again. This is a craft I will definitely repeat!
Okay, so that's part one. Thoughts? Feelings? Gift requests for Christmas 2012?
Ho ho ho,