Friday, January 16, 2015

Christmas 2014: Pampering Gifts

  There was one person on my gifting list that I wanted to sew something for, but I couldn't find a fabric that was perfect for her. So instead, I began the gift with something she had once mentioned wanting, and built from there.

  That was my mother-in-love, and the base of the gift was a pretty washcloth. I knit a square (well, almost a square. After I'd bound off I realized it was a little shorter than it had looked on the needles) of seed-stitch and decided to do a crochet edging. That was harder than it sounded... I tried 3 different  trims and wasn't happy with any of them. I finally settled on a basic chain stitch loop for my 4th attempt, and liked it just well enough to keep it, though it still wasn't what I'd initially pictured.

  I used Martha Stewart cotton hemp yarn in (I think) flour sack white. I bought it over a year ago on Zulily, but the same yarn can be bought here. It was pretty nice to work with, non-squeaky and much softer than the cheap yarns I usually use, but it did split really easily. It's perfect for a washcloth though, very absorbent and shows texture really well. (No, I did not block the washcloth. I should have. I was just kind of tired of it after frogging the trim 3 times.)

  Since a washcloth alone isn't much of a gift, I made some pretty scented bath products to go with it.  First, I made a basic lip balm- 1 TBSP shaved beeswax, 2 TBSP shaved cocoa butter, 1TBSP liquid oil, and a few drops essential oil. I had some wonderful jojoba oil with vanilla CO2 in it, so I used about a half-teaspoon of that and filled the rest of my tablespoon measure up with almond oil for the scent... then added a single drop of rose absolute. It smelled gorgeous, and made about 5 tubes of lip balm, which turned out to be a good thing even though I thought I'd only need one. Having used this recipe to make lip balm for myself, I'd reduce the liquid oil to 2.5 tsp next time, as it's a bit soft.

  Next, I made some whipped body butter. I started with this recipe for the directions and quantities, and ended up going with 2TBSP shaved cocoa butter, 2 TBSP mango butter, 2 TBSP coconut oil, 2 TBSP almond oil with a tiny bit of the vanilla-jojoba blend mixed in, and a couple drops of rose absolute. It was a bit tricky to get the timing right for whipping it, and it still wasn't as fluffy as I expected, but it turned out nicely in the end. It was just barely enough for a half-cup size canning jar, so I'd make a bit more next time.

  Next, I mixed up a sugar scrub based on this recipe. I left out the vanilla extract and vitamin E oil, and used the same almond-jojoba-vanilla mix as I did with the other recipes, added a couple drops of rose absolute, and made a half-batch. I think I would have liked the texture better without the honey, but it did smell beautiful. 

  The last bath product was some simple bath salts. These were just 1/2 cup of Epsom salts with 2.5 tsp baking soda, a few drops of vanilla-jojoba oil and rose absolute for scent, mixed together. This one turned out just right. =)

  Finally to pull it all together, I made some pretty labels in Illustrator and printed them out on full-sheet label paper (because that's what I had). The labels are actually my favorite part... they came out just like I wanted. =) You can download the labels here, although I can't imagine that all that many people are making chocolate-vanilla-rose-scented bath products. ;-)

  I made another pampering sort of gift for my sister-in-law... a teacup candle. =) There's a pretty good chance you've seen teacup candles on Pinterest! I first saw the idea here. I bought this beautiful cup (affiliate link- it was much cheaper when I bought it), melted some soy wax (affiliate link) with lemon essential oil, and poured it in over a wick (affiliate link). I let it cool.... and was very disappointed in the results.

  The wax pulled away from the edges and cracked all over as it cooled (and it looked a whole lot worse than that photo, above)... at first I thought it was because the essential oil, but after troubleshooting online it turns out I overheated the wax... it was supposed to be poured at a much cooler temperature. To fix it, I melted and scented just a bit more wax, let it cool a bit, and poured it on top. It worked! Well, it was still a little too warm and pulled away from the edges, but it didn't crack. =) And it looked really pretty.

  I kind of wanted to keep it for myself, even though I use candles once in a blue moon.

  I'm not sure if it exactly falls into the category of pampering, but for each family I made canned goods. Since I canned some of these in the summer, I suppose you could say that I started making Christmas gifts in July. ;-) Anyway, the families with bigger/more kids received half-pint jars:

  And the slightly smaller families received half-cup jars. =)

  In case you can't read my writing, they are, from left to right, apple butter, blueberry jelly, pear preserves, and cherry jam. 

  The blueberry and cherry are adapted from the sure-jell pectin recipes, the pear preserves (okay, jam... but I wanted them all to have different names, and it's still technically correct) can be found here, and the apple butter is apples, peeled, cored, and chopped, thrown in the crockpot with a tiny bit of apple juice so they wouldn't scorch, sprinkled with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg (no idea on the measurements, I just sprinkled till it looked like enough) and sweetened with a tiny bit of sugar, then cooked for about 3/4 of a day until they turned into apple butter. =) Then canned. 

  These all taste amazing, by the way... especially those pear preserves, even though they are a bit too sweet. Next time I'll make at least double as much of each so there will be more for my family. =)

Thanks for stopping by,


  1. Those are great gifts--especially the washcloth and bath stuff. It looks so luxurious!

    1. I hope they were as nice to use as they looked. =) Thank you!

  2. Wow! You amaze me with all you get accomplished! What wonderful, thoughtful, special, made-with-love gifts. I adore the teacup candle! I had to laugh when I saw the first picture. I just finished posting about the next set of things I made for Kelly's shower and I ended with crocheted dish cloths that look so much like your knitted wash cloth! We ended up almost duplicating our edgings! LOL

    1. Thank you! I really love making gifts for people... I just wish I had the time to do it all year around. =) And how funny is that! I guess we have similar tastes in edgings. =)