Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giftmaking, redux (part 1 of 4)

I've been positively remiss in updating this poor dusty and neglected little blog, so if you've been eagerly awaiting the next chapter in my misbegotten journey, I apologize sincerely that I've kept you in a state of unbearable anticipation and irritable agitation.

It's really just been more of the same bla, bla, bla, repeating some of the classes that I have written about in detail on here before so I didn't think it was really worthwhile to write about it all over again. But then it occurred to me that I am rather proud at how my gift making class has evolved... it's a smidge better and more stream-lined than it was four years ago when I started ( can it really have been four years? Crikey!).

I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir here when I say that gift making is just cool. I really like to be part of shifting consciousness from getting to making and giving. Making is probably more fun in the long run, anyway.

I'll try to keep up with this and tell you all my ideas that we've been using in my giftmaking class over the next few weeks, just in brief. These ideas are pretty tried and true and I think I've whittled them down to the ones that are the most fun/easy/engaging and that are actually quite nice on the receiving end, as well. So, here we go:
  • Beeswax candles. I have a crockpot that I got from the thrift store which is reserved strictly for wax. This is SO much easier and better than trying to do it in a double boiler on the stove, esp. when you're doing it with kids and you need to get the wax down on their level. We made container candles... one is just a little mason jar with a wick in it. I actually taped four chopsticks together and then attached them onto a metal measuring cup so the kids could dip into the wax from a bit of a distance. A crowd of excited kids jostling around a pot of hot wax can sometimes end badly. Just sayin'. Also I had been using a plastic measuring cup and the fool thing completely melted into a misshapen plastic glob! Lesson learned. Oh yes, and the other container candles are poured into a gigantic acorn cap, from the giganto acorn bearing tree, the Burr Oak. I love these but have also learned the hard way not to fool around, and to use these as a centerpiece for your autumnal table ONLY when they are floating in a bowl of water. It's quite beautiful. But they can turn into fireballs otherwise (although we do all love fireballs, there's no denying). I need to find some more good wax projects. Kids really seem to get fascinated in exploring wax. I get a little tetchy because my beeswax is on the expensive side, but I should get some cheaper stuff so they could explore a la this project by Teacher Tom.
  • Dried flower centerpiece. This has been super easy and the kids actually LOVE it. We saw segments off of fallen branches we have lying around (pecan, crepe myrtle, anything really) and then let them drill holes in it wherever they'd like. I had a bunch of dried flowers and little pussywillow branches that my friend from Austin Ikebana had given me so they worked perfectly for this project. Dried grasses would also be nice and very zen.
  • In the blue-topped upcycled container we have cocoa mix. I use this recipe from Alton Brown. I actually think it's really really good. Kids say thumbs-up as well.
  • Lastly, we have made mosquito repellent in the blue bottle. Austin has been so warm this fall, mosquito repellent still comes in handy. This is an all natural recipe and it seems to work pretty well. It definitely is good for soothing bites, because witch hazel is all about that. The recipe I have been using is just kind of a mishmash from different recipes I have read about on the web. Here it is:
'The Bugs Don't Have a Chance" (product name by Max, age 10)
Scant 1/4 c. vinegar
1/2 c. witch hazel
8 drops eucalyptus essential oil
4 drops geranium essential oil
8 drops citronella or lemongrass essential oil
4 drops cinnamon essential oil
You can most definitely sub in other essential oils for these, there's lots of smells that bugs (supposedly) don't like.

So anyway, there you go, Quite nice, tune in again soon because I may just might have a healthy shake of new ideas for you (for once), actually.