Monday, 24 December 2012

On the 9th day... I ran out of time!!

Well, in keeping with my usual holiday tradition, I spent so much time working and getting things ready for the holidays that I ran out of days for my 12 days of DIY! Perhaps I will plan better next year and start them in June! I hope you found the ones I was able to post helpful and I wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Merry Christmas to all and to all... a good night!

Friday, 21 December 2012

On the 8th day of DIY... Homemade Laundry detergent

I started making my own homemade laundry soap about a year ago. It is a great way to go eco friendly and costs just pennies per load. You can make it quickly and easily and put it in a large bail jar or special tin and give as a gift. I found a great post on Soap Deli News that shows you how to make it!
Photo by Rebecca Dillon of Soap Deli News

On the 7th day of DIY... Loose Leaf Tea

Loose leaf tea shops are popping up everywhere! For the price of a single cup, you can make a whole jar of your favourite tea blend to give as gifts to friends and family. You can purchase herbs and spices from any herb store, bulk store or health food store. I love Mountain Rose Herbs because they have an enormous selection of organic and wildcrafted herbs and spices at very reasonable prices. For just a few dollars you can make multiple batches of tea for gift giving or enjoying yourself.

I have a few favourites that I enjoy throughout the year. They are very easy to make and only require a few ingredients and some nice containers to put them in. Tea tins make a nice choice for gifting and they come in a variety of sizes to suit any need. You can order them from many packaging suppliers such as New Directions Aromatics, Specialty Bottle or Mountain Rose Herbs.


Licorice Mint Soother 
1 part Licorice Root
1 part Peppermint
This tea has soothing licorice root which is great for coating a sore throat. The mellow minty sweet flavour is sure to please any herbal tea lover!

Evening Calm
1 part passionflower
1 part lemon balm
1 part chamomile
I love this blend after a hard day. If I'm feeling a bit frazzled, it helps calm my nerves and I sleep like a baby!

My Chai
1 part cardamom seeds
1 part clove buds
1 part crystallized ginger
2 cinnamon stick (in chunks)
2 vanilla beans (cut up)
3 parts black tea
You can adjust this recipe to suit your taste, but I find this version very rich and yummy! You can also substitute Red Rooibos Tea in place of black tea for a very mellow tea.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

On the 5th day of DIY...Gift wrapping options

There are so many ways to package a gift that shows you care and they can be done without spending a fortune! Here are a few of my favourites! Now granted, some are easier to make than others, but trust me-you'll have fun doing it!

I found several fun videos on YouTube that teach you how to craft your own packaging from a simple piece of paper or fancy cardboard. You can find the supplies for all of these at your local craft store...or even just around the house!  Hope you find them fun and informative!

How to make  a pillow box:

 How to make a gift box:

How to make an Origami Box:

The last one is my favourite, but as you can see, it is more ambitious than the others. I hope you have fun with this project and save some money on gift wrap!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

On the 6th day of DIY...Fun with Scrubs!

For this DIY fun day, I am turning it over to the "Queen" of bath and body DIY, Anne-Marie Faiola at SoapQueenTV who did a super episode covering scrubs for the face, body and lips! I couldn't have done it better myself! Without further ado....Take lots of notes, enjoy and don't forget to order your supplies from Brambleberry!

Onthe 4th day of DIY... soy candle fun!

I recently had a grown up play date with my friend Andee to show her how to make soy candles to give as gifts to our friends and family this Christmas. I provided the wax, wicks and smelly stuff... while her task was to find some nice inexpensive holders for our creations. She went to a local thrift store and picked up a whole bunch of great glass containers that were just perfect for our project!

We decided to make soy candles although I also enjoy beeswax too! Soy is known for its soot free, clean burn that lasts and lasts. It holds scent very nicely and is eco friendly. I got mine from New Directions Aromatics, but you can get candle making kits at your local craft store.

Candle making is a fun and easy project that you can do in your own kitchen with relatively little equipment. All you need is...
 a pot
 pyrex jug
 stainless steel tablespoon
 wax of your choice (we used soy because of the clean burn)
 dye blocks (optional)
 wicks (to suit size of candle)
 fragrance oil or essential oils
 popsicle stick (you'll see why)

  And away we go!.....

First lay out some old newspaper on your pouring surface to prevent any damage and catch spills.

Set up your pot with a bit of water (a la Bain Marie)
Measure out wax in your pyrex jug (I like to work 1 lb at a time)
Turn stove on to medium ish (just under) heat and set jug in pot
Allow time for the wax to melt, stir to ensure even melt

Remove the wax from the heat and turn off the stove
Add your fragrance (1tsp per pound for EO, 1/4 oz per pound for FO)
Shave in colour if desired ( We tried mixing 1/8 of a block of red and a bit of blue, could have used twice as much to get deeper colour)

Wick setting

Now you want to get your wicks set and there are a couple of way to do it. You can use glue dots (highly recommend) or you can just wax set them. The only problem with wax setting them is that your wax will remelt and possibly dislodge the wick from its position. Allowing the wax to cool a bit before pouring is a good way to prevent wicks from moving too much.

Here, I set the wick in place and used popsicle sticks to hold it in place until the candle solidified.

 In general, your candles will probably need a couple of hours to set completely. We took a nice lunch break and came back to find our candles were ready!
Voila! Our finished candles!

                                    Aren't they pretty!

Monday, 3 December 2012

On the 3th day of DIY... Lotion Bars

Winter can definitely take a toll on our skin. We all experience dryness, cracking, chapped and red skin during the colder months. Sometimes, regular water-based lotions are not enough. A great alternative is a solid lotion bar. These little bars of goodness are just brimming with nutrients that are ready to go to work protecting and soothing your winter skin. The best part is they are 100% natural and because they don't contain water, they do not need a preservative.

You can make lotion bars using a host of herbal infused oils for added skincare benefit. A few of my favourites include Oatstraw, Calendula, Chickweed or Plantain Leaf. These are all great choices for soothing dry, irritated skin. Of course, you can customize your herbal infusion to use any herbs you wish, but do your research before selecting your plants. I also prefer to use organic or wild-crafted herbs whenever possible. I purchase mine from Mountain Rose Herbs. They have an amazing selection of organic and wild-crafted bulk herbs and other ingredients you'd need for this recipe.

This recipe is a great starter recipe for beginner crafters, but feel free to experiment and make it your own.

Most of my supplies come from Canadian companies like New Directions Aromatics, Voyageur Soap and  Candle Company and Saffire Blue, since I am in Canada. Check your area for local suppliers or go to any health food store.
What you'll need:
1 mold of choice (I try to use smaller molds, their small size fits in your hand nicely)
Beeswax pastilles ( or candelilla wax for vegans)
Cocoa butter
Shea or mango butter
Essential oils or fragrance oil
Vitamin e

You can also play with different liquid oils, but that will require some adjustments to your proportions. For now, let's just keep it simple.

For this recipe, I have decided to use an essential oil blend that I found in one of my aromatherapy journals Vita Danzare. I out a little twist on it by adding another oil, but thought it would be a great blend to brighten the spirits on gloomy winter days. Our recipe is as follows:
  • 2 oz cocoa butter
  • 2 oz organic fair trade shea butter
  • 2 oz organic beeswax pastilles
  • 2 vitamin e capsules
  • 18 drops lavender EO
  • 6 drops litsea cubeba EO
  • 6 drops lemongrass EO
  • 6 drops ylang ylang EO
You can use more or less fragrance as you desire, but keep in mind, some people do not want a lot of fragrance. I find that about 1-2% is a good amount.

Step one
Pre-measure all ingredients in separate sterilized bowl.

Top left- Shea butter, top right- cocoa butter, bottom middle- beeswax

Step two
Melt all of your butters and wax together. You want to do this over medium-low heat. I like to hold mine at 70 degrees for 20 minutes to prevent crystallization or graininess in the finished product. Stir your mixture very well to be sure everything has melted evenly.

Step three
Remove your mixture from the heat and put in your vitamin e and fragrance oils. Stir gently but thoroughly to incorporate.

Step four
Now we are ready to pour our mixture. You can use pretty much anything as a mold. Dixie cups work great, soap molds in pretty much any shape you can imagine, even muffin tins like the mini one shown here!

Be sure to pour your oils slowly so you don't get splashes or spills.
This is what your poured product will look like.

 I stick mine in the fridge so they set up faster (about 20 minutes). Once they are hard, you can go ahead and unmold! Drumroll please....
Okay, ya caught me! These are ones I made with a different mold. But they still came out about the same. The point is, you will end up with a hard bar that melts in your hand at body temperature. These luxurious gems make great gifts and you can package them in little jars or metal tins. You can wrap them in nice white parchment paper with a sticker or ribbon. Whatever you fancy!
 Voila! Instant gifts everyone will love!