Homemade gift ideas

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KMD
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Homemade gift ideas

Postby KMD » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 09:20 am

This topic came up on a thread in the Recipes forum a while back, and I thought I'd get it officially started, since we're approaching the season.

One of the things I've done in the past is a homemade spice rub. Here's my recipe. It's great on pork, but I also use it on steaks, and have friends who use it to season everything from fried chicken to oven fries.

4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp onion powder
4 tbsp garlic powder
4 tbsp dried thyme
4 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp mild paprika
2 tbsp hot paprika
4 tsp cayenne
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp kosher salt

Put all that in a big bowl with a lid, put on the lid and shake it up so everything is nice and evenly distributed. And then get some cute little jars, (a wide mouth makes it easier to pour into them) craft stores will often carry them for a buck each, and use a funnel to put your spice rub in. Decorate the jar with ribbons, make your own custom labels, etc.

What ideas does everyone else have? Doesn't have to be food-related, which is why I brought this out to the main forum. I might post another day about the bath salts and soaps and candles I used to make, if anyone is interested.
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Lady Celtic
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Postby Lady Celtic » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 09:31 am

I know just the person to give that meat rub to, KMD. Thanks for re-posting it!

This is my inspiration source for handmade gifts and crafts: The One Pretty Thing Handmade Gift Guide

I really, REALLY need to get my craft room set up. Halloween isn't so far away and Christmas is coming close on its heels and I have done NOTHING. Arg!
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Postby Momma Snider » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 09:38 am

I'm interested in the candles and stuff! Although I don't really give many gifts any more that can be homemade, except to the people I work with. But that's four people that I can never think of appropriate gifts for, so bring it on!

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Postby Card » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 10:59 am

KMD, does that spice mix have a good shelf life? Last year I made cowgirl cookie jars, and my friend finally baked hers last month. The brown sugar had to be chiseled out because it was packed in so tightly, and the cookies just seemed kind of stale. I'm not sure if it was something I did, but I think everyone had the problem with the staleness, even just a month after Christmas. I swear I put the lids on tightly! Also, they were too chocolatey.

Also, I am a big fan of making Christmas pillowcases. Sometimes you just want to sleep on candy canes or snowflakes. I don't usually do the three parts of fabric. I just make it all with the same fabric and just hem it. Last time I added some lace, but I'm all about simple.

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Postby KMD » Fri 17 Sep, 2010 12:14 pm

Shelf life on that rub is very long indeed. I usually make a batch once a year just for myself, so I know it'll last that long at least. Also, if you just want to try it out first, make a half-batch for yourself, and put it in an empty spice bottle. And, I can never seem to find all the different kinds of paprika at my grocery store, so yeah, I just use regular paprika and it's fine.

On the bath stuff, I used to make these in college, so back when I was seriously broke. So, if it seems to cheap for you, maybe it'll at least be a fun project to do with kids.

Bath salts: Go to the drug store, and get a big container of epson salts. I used to find it in the aisle with all the geriatric supplies or with bandages, usually on the bottom shelf. They are super cheap, that is why I love them. Go to the craft store and get a) cute little bottles, again for about a dollar, and b) head into the candles/soap making area and pick up some scents you like. Lavender, rose, that sort of thing. And then, the last ingredient can be found at the grocery store (or possibly your pantry), you want a box of powdered milk. Get a bowl, pour in your epson salts, about a tbsp of powdered milk, and a few drops of the scent, and mix it all up. Pour into the bottles with a funnel, add ribbons. The milk softens your skin, the epson salts do that effervescent thing, and the whole thing will cost you just a couple dollars a bottle. Maybe less.

Bath oils: In the drug store, get a bottle of mineral oil. Usually near the epson salts, how convenient. You're going to also need more bottles and scent from the craft store. Measure out how much oil you need per bottle, add in the scent, and you're done. To make it extra pretty, if you have any dried flowers around, you can stick those in the bottle first, then pour in the scented oil. I used to grow lavender and dry it and never knew what to do with it after that. This is a great use, and really makes it look pretty.

Scented soaps: When I used to do these, basically I just hit the craft aisle and got a kit. They'll have molds, scents, and big chunks of glycerin. Basically, you melt the glycerin (I used to do it in an old bowl in the microwave. I was in a dorm, I worked with what I had.) Once it's melted, you add the scent you wanted. Then pour into the molds and let it cool before you pop them out. Then you can wrap them up in tissue paper, or clear plastic wrap. Again, you can put dried flowers in these, or dollar bills or small rubber duckies if you want.

Scented candles: In the craft store, same aisle where they have soap making kits, they'll have candle making kits. This is one of the more involved of all the things I used to make. And you will definitely make a mess with it. In the kit, or if you buy things on your own, what you'll need are heavy-duty molds (or really cute glass bowls/teacups, depending on what you want to make), wicking (get the wax-coated kind, makes life much easier later), a mold release spray (I never ended up using this, so it's up to you), sealing wax, these little metal wick holders that go in the center of your candle, wax and scent. First thing you do is, prepare your workspace. You are going to be dealing with hot things, and candle wax is probably going to get places you don't want it to get. Put on clothes you don't mind messing up, get an oven mitt you don't mind ruining, keep the kids out, put down plastic on your countertops or something you can scrape wax off later. You're going to need to set up a double-boiler situation, but not with anything you ever want to use again. Because you will never, ever get all the wax out. I use a ridiculously old pan to hold the water, and an old mason jar for the wax. Put some water in the pan, maybe an inch, and then sit the jar inside that, with some wax inside. Watch out. When the water starts to boil, that jar will move around on you, might even try to tip over. Stay right by it. Oh, and an old chopstick or plastic spoon or something you don't care about to reach in and stir the wax now and again, so it melts evenly. While that's coming up to temp, prep your molds. Thread the wicks through the holes in the top of the mold, and there's this special sealing wax you use to close that hole off so the wax doesn't come pouring out. The other end of the wick goes through the mold, and the mold will usually come with a metal rod to tie it to, that suspends it through the middle of the mold. If you've got the mold release spray, spray it now. When the wax is completely melted in the jar, add the scent (more than you did in all the other projects) and carefully pour the wax in the mold. Not all the way to the top, leave a little room. Sit that mold down on a nice, level surface, and give it some good taps on the side to work out air bubbles. And then let it cool overnight. The next day, you should be able to remove the sealant off the tops of the wicks, and then grab the metal rod on the bottom and just pull, and all the candles should pop right out. The bottoms will NEVER be perfect. There are always air bubbles that completely deform the bottoms. If they won't sit level for you, you can either put them back in the molds, melt more wax and try to fill in the hole, or heat a knife and try to cut it level. Whatever you end up doing, with the end of the wick, work in through the center of the metal wick holder, and then push it into the candle bottom.

Reading all of the stuff I went through to make candles makes me wonder why I ever did it in the first place! But, if you enjoy doing it, you can have all kinds of fun with it. I used to keep the stub ends of used candles, cut them up and add them to the wax for new candles. Or add crayons to change the color of the wax. And there are all kinds of candle-making kits that let you do some neat stuff, like pour the sides of a square candle individually, add in dried flowers or little stones, and then once those are dry, you constructed the candle out of them, and then pour the center. Or little floating candles. I used to get little cut glass bowls or teacups, and just pour the wax directly into them. The hardest part about that was keeping the wick in the center. You just put the metal holder on first, and tie the top of the wick to a metal rod and tape that to the edge of the bowl, so the wick is centered. Or, do the same with 3 wicks, if your container is big enough. All kinds of neat things you can do. But, if you just want to make candles, super easy, here's the best way. In the candle aisle of that craft store are sheets of beeswax. Buy that, and some braided wicking. Take a sheet, lay the wicking on one end, and then just roll the beeswax around the wick, until it gets to the thickness you want. You can cut it with a knife to whatever height you want to make votives, or really tall candles. You can roll them at an angle and get a tapered candle. Super easy.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby KMD » Tue 21 Sep, 2010 09:07 am

The Simple Dollar is starting a whole series on Fridays of posts around making your own gifts for the holidays. This past Friday was his first post, on how to make your own homemade vanilla extract.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby ImAdhis » Tue 21 Sep, 2010 10:14 am

KMD wrote:The Simple Dollar is starting a whole series on Fridays of posts around making your own gifts for the holidays. This past Friday was his first post, on how to make your own homemade vanilla extract.



I'd love to make my own vanilla extract considering how much I use it and the price of a teeny bottle, but the day I pick up a bottle of vodka is the day I will end up in the checkout line with my bishop who will then think he will finally have figured out why my behavior is such as it is.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby robcan2 » Tue 21 Sep, 2010 10:32 am

Just go to the liquor store to buy your vodka. Your bishop is unlikely to be there to catch you.

I've been using imitation vanilla without a regret ever since America's Test Kitchen told me it didn't matter what I use. Yes, sometimes I let other people tell me what my opinion is.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby KMD » Mon 04 Oct, 2010 08:01 am

Caramel apple jam ya'll! I'm not a canner, but this looks so good, I might just have to try! Or, beg my mom, who IS a canner, to make it, with some help from me.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby lisapants » Thu 07 Oct, 2010 06:49 pm

KMD, that looks YUMMY! I might have to try that...
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby EthanBeckstead » Fri 08 Oct, 2010 01:15 pm

This may not apply to what you all are talking about, and Karenin, my mentor, told me to always stay on topic. If it's not on topic, hopefully the moderator will immediately delete this post and ban me for life (heh).

Don't ask me why, but my wife was searching for information about barbie graveyards and came upon this article about alternative Christmas gift giving ideas. It is meant for those with children, and I have none of those, but we might some day. I liked the article: Barbie Graveyard

The article is a little dated (it mentions a "roll of film" instead of a digital camera.. does anyone really use rolls of film anymore?) also, it quotes from George Durrant, maybe the author is LDS. Who knows?

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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby Momma Snider » Fri 08 Oct, 2010 02:07 pm

I read the article, and I still do not know what a Barbie graveyard is. Unless you mean that plastic tub in my garage with my girls' filthy raggedy 20-year-old Barbies in it...but I think I threw that out a year or so ago, when I realized my girls won't play with them again, and my grandkids deserve clean Barbies.

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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby KareNin » Fri 08 Oct, 2010 07:41 pm

I got the impression that a "Barbie graveyard" was just a layer toward the bottom of the container that was old, nekkid, bedraggled, beat up Barbies with frowsy hair and not much to recommend them for further use by other little girls.

EthanKitty, honey, I'm afraid you must have totally misunderstood my wise counsel. If I ever said anything on the topic of staying on topic, it had to have been, ipso facto, in error.

Nay, my best advice about that is to derail the thread topic just as soon as humanly possible. People just really seem to like it, and it makes you look very smart. I have gotten quite good at it, myself, if I am not bragging too much by mentioning that about myself.

Man, I miss MISS MISSsnuggling up with the kids and reading to them. I almost cried when I got to that part of the article. That was probably my favorite part of being a Mom. Maybe if my grandkids lived closer or I got to see them more often, it wouldn't make me cry to read stuff like that.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby lisapants » Sat 09 Oct, 2010 09:18 am

OK, so I made some caramel apple jam yesterday. It is pretty tasty. The blogger adds cinnamon to his recipe, so I added some, too, but I think it overpowers the brown sugar/caramel taste. The apple cinnamon flavor is still good, but I wanted more of the caramel taste. It is good on toast, like we had this morning, and it would be excellent warmed up and served over ice cream. Mmmmm...

I'm taking a jar to RenLass tonight for her housewarming party.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby ImAdhis » Sun 10 Oct, 2010 01:31 pm

EthanBeckstead wrote:The article is a little dated (it mentions a "roll of film" instead of a digital camera.. does anyone really use rolls of film anymore?)

I have a few professional photographers for neighbors, and one of them is world-renowned for using film exclusively.

So, yes.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby EthanBeckstead » Sun 10 Oct, 2010 11:56 pm

ImAdhis wrote:
EthanBeckstead wrote:The article is a little dated (it mentions a "roll of film" instead of a digital camera.. does anyone really use rolls of film anymore?)

I have a few professional photographers for neighbors, and one of them is world-renowned for using film exclusively.

So, yes.


Yeah, that's fair. I also have a neighbor who is a collector and seller of vinyl records and he claims that the only real good sound comes from the old LPs. Digitizing the music on a CD loses some of the sound, and converting to mp3 for ipods makes it even flatter with more loss.

He can tell the difference, but I can't.

Is that better Karenin? Completely off topic now.

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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby KareNin » Mon 11 Oct, 2010 08:52 am

EthanBeckstead wrote:Yeah, that's fair. I also have a neighbor who is a collector and seller of vinyl records and he claims that the only real good sound comes from the old LPs. Digitizing the music on a CD loses some of the sound, and converting to mp3 for ipods makes it even flatter with more loss.

He can tell the difference, but I can't.

Is that better Karenin? Completely off topic now.

(Watch and learn, Grasshopper.)
I've heard people claim this about vinyl records before, and in my humble opinion, those people who say that are blowing smoke that is probably laced with illicit substances. I grew up listening to vinyl records, both 45 RPM and 33 1/3 RPM. There are countless songs whose lyrics I just could not distinguish clearly on vinyl, but as soon as I heard them on CD, the clarity of the lyrics was such that I could hear the words for the first time and understand them clearly. Also, I could hear individual instruments in the musical accompaniment that were sort of just lost in the background on vinyl.

Maybe there is a difference in people's audial reception, because of the disparity in experience regarding listening to vinyl versus CD (digital). But I really did like The Monkees, especially Peter Tork. He is now in a band called Shoe Suede Blues.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby Audrey » Mon 11 Oct, 2010 09:13 am

ImAdhis wrote:
EthanBeckstead wrote:The article is a little dated (it mentions a "roll of film" instead of a digital camera.. does anyone really use rolls of film anymore?)

I have a few professional photographers for neighbors, and one of them is world-renowned for using film exclusively.

So, yes.


Aaaand I'm guessing that would be Jonathan Canlas? His work is really, really beautiful.
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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby SDR » Mon 11 Oct, 2010 09:22 am

KareNin wrote:I grew up listening to vinyl records, both 45 RPM and 33 1/3 RPM. There are countless songs whose lyrics I just could not distinguish clearly on vinyl, but as soon as I heard them on CD, the clarity of the lyrics was such that I could hear the words for the first time and understand them clearly. Also, I could hear individual instruments in the musical accompaniment that were sort of just lost in the background on vinyl.


Obviously the problem was not the vinyl you were sampling, it was the equipment. Had you spent thousands more on equipment, it would have far surpassed anything you ever heard on CD. Or maybe you just needed a new needle. :)

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Re: Homemade gift ideas

Postby Momma Snider » Mon 11 Oct, 2010 09:29 am

Yet again I'm right there with KareNin. Records were great in their day, but the sound quality on CD is much clearer. I guess it's possible that on the very first playing of an LP the sound was good, but with every playing it deteriorated. We didn't know it at the time, of course.

My next band is going to be called Vinyl Snobs.


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