It has been a crafty holiday season!!! Since I’m still operating on a grad student budget, and since what can you get the people who have everything, I’ve done mostly homemade christmas presents this year.
- Lavender Vanilla Sugar
I found this awesome project on Joy the Baker.
Vanilla beans are pretty pricey (anywhere from $10 to $15 for 2 at the store), but this store on eBay sells them in bulk for cheap. Fast ship, great seller, A+++, will buy again. I got 10 organic, grade A, Madagascar Planifolia vanilla beans for just under $10, including shipping. (A word to the wise on vanilla beans: You want to spring for the good kind if you’re going to cook with them or use them directly in food; if you are making your own vanilla extract — this is a project for next year — you can go for the cheaper/lower grade kind.)
Culinary-grade lavender can also be fairly hard to find and expensive, but I ordered mine from Washington Lavender and got 0.4 ounces (enough to make about 8 batches of sugar) for $5.50, including shipping. All their lavender is hand-harvested and organic, and they were super nice and answered all my lavender-related questions.
I found cute containers at Michael’s and Daiso, added some festive ribbon, and voilà!!
- Jars of Baking Mix!
Gabrielle and I made a whole bunch of these two Christmases ago, and they were such a hit among my family that I’m resurrecting them this year. Gabrielle had a little cookbook full of recipes, but this site also has a lot of options.
They’re pretty easy to put together once you get the hang of how to pack down the ingredients. To make everything fit, pack down the layer after you add each ingredient (a medium-sized bottle of Cholula is an excellent packing agent).
And to make them pretty, the layering order is important. I’ve found it works best to put sugars at the bottom, then add ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder and/or soda, and salt next (it’s nice to also stift together the flour, spices, baking powder/soda, and salt), then add oats, and put chunkier ingredients like chocolate chips, nuts, or dried fruit at the top. Packed well enough, they will survive being in checked baggage during a cross-country flight.
Wide-mouth jars are a wise choice. And no matter what kind of jars you use, you’ll likely need to use a funnel (or fashion a funnel out of paper or paper towel).
Tie on some ribbon, make a little card with how to turn the mix into a delicious baked good, add some puffy glitter paint, and you’re ready to give!
- Scarves, Scarves, Scarves!!
I’ve gotten back into knitting lately, and I joined Ravelry for new project ideas and patterns.
I made this one for my mom, and it knitted up in about 3 days of moderate-paced knitting. The pattern is on Ravelry, but you’ll have to join to see it.
I also found this yarn that I’m kind of obsessed with for gift items. It knits up super quickly, too, and comes out looking really fluffy and cute. I originally thought my grandma might like a scarf made out of it, so I made her this one. There’s a pattern on the back of the label — but you just cast on 12 stitches and knit until the yarn is gone.
It came out so cute that I bought more in pastel green/blue and made a mini-version for Baby Margaret’s 3rd birthday, which is right before Christmas. I cast on 6 stitches instead of 12 and knitted until it was long enough.
I’m also working on an ambitious project for John’s Christmas gift — a face/neckwarmer for snowboarding, knit in the round with 2×2 ribbing. I have some cute fleece I want to line it with once it’s done. We’ll see how that goes. It’s still very much in progress:
I have lots of ambitions for other projects from Ravelry for friends’ upcoming birthdays, including this one and this one.
Happy giving and getting!!