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No Sleep Til New Years

Thank you Beastie Boys for allowing that song to mock me through this holiday season. First it was no sleep til Christmas then it was on to New Year’s. Hopefully normal programing will resume after this and Brooklyn can go on being the star of the show. I’m sure anyone who works in retail can relate.

As an indication of how sleep deprived and scatter brained I’ve been I documented this entire project and then failed to document the end result. I’ve done that with multiple projects lately, but oh well, at least you get an idea of where I was going with it.

So I’ve done a few homemade gifts this year. This one is certainly not Christmas centric. In fact it makes an excellent get well soon gift as it’s great for aching muscles and a stuffy head.

Bath Salts by the way, is what I’m talking about. I’m not trying to be cryptic it’s just the lack of sleep catching up with me again.

They are pretty easy to make and there isn’t really a rhyme or reason to them. You simply need magnesium sulfate crystals (aka Epsom salt) and some essential oils. You can add whatever you like from here. A little baking soda ( a little goes a long way), some sea salt, dried herbs or flowers, the possibilities are endless.

For my crushed mint bath salt, which is my favorite for the hectic and illness prone holiday time of year I stick with these ingredients.

Epsom salts, Baking soda, Peppermint essential oil, Clove essential oil, Eucalyptus essential oil, and Dried crushed mint leaves

First I measure the amount of salts I will need. I just do this by filling the container I will be storing or giving them away in. I then add around a table spoon of baking soda per 2 cups of salts. Then, as per my usual very precise measuring methods, I add a decent amount of peppermint, a dash of eucalyptus and a smattering of clove oil. Then just a sprinkle of crushed mint just to give the stark white salt a little interest. After that it’s just a matter of stirring the whole thing up thoroughly and attempting to carefully get it back into its container.

I use quite a bit of oil in my salts only because that way you don’t need very much of the salt per bath but it’s entirely up to you how strong or weak you make them.

After placing the salts back in their allotted container (usually a mason jar I have lying around) I like to spruce it up with a bit of washi tape or ribbon tape around the lid. I’ll also put a bow and tag with information on how much should be used in a bath.

This is where my photographic evidence fails me.

I also did a jar this year where I placed a bracelet around the jar to spruce it up. It made a nice way to present both the salts and the bracelet.

And thank goodness its all done with. Don’t get me wrong I love the holidays and look forward to them every year. Especially the part where I get to make goodies for people. But now I am simply ready for a good night’s rest.

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Cheater’s Chalk Paint

Back to those darn chairs, shall we?

I love the look of chalk paint particularly when used with dark wax. I just don’t love the price tag. A quart of good quality chalk paint can cost upwards of $30 add in the cost of the specialized wax and brushes and you’re looking at a $100 project. I figured I could either do it far cheaper or fail miserably at trying.

So first and foremost I cleaned up my chairs, chalk painting claims not to have any prep work. No sanding etc. but if you are working on old dining room chairs I suggest at least giving them a scrub with some Murphy’s Oil Soap just to get the grime from years of family dinners and years of furniture polish and wax off, or not even the best paint will stick.

After that I just started painting away with my favorite primer, which happens to be a really cheap ceiling paint. Ceiling paint is very thick, and very flat so it likes to stick to things and dries rather quickly, it also has good tooth to it. Tooth is the texture that helps other things stick. It’s like painting a canvas with gesso before starting a painting.

After the primer was dry I went in with the color. I did end up buying a quart of this color (it was a custom mix to match the fabric) just because I love it so I know I’ll use it on other projects, but I could have gotten away with just one $3 sample pot. Even at a quart it was only $15.

After getting the paint done I decided to tempt fate and go for the waxing. I decided to try to tint my own wax, I used Minwax finishing wax in natural (aka clear) which is around $10 for a can and a chocolate brown paint I had lying around. I simply took a scoop of the wax and a drizzle of the paint and very thoroughly mixed the two. As you can tell my measuring was very precise.

EEEEEEEWWWWW

I just used a cheap chip brush to mush the wax on, waited a minute or two, and buffed it off. The finishing wax is technically a matte varnish so it will dry hard and help protect the paint finish on the piece. That also means you have to work in small areas at a time so you don’t allow it to dry all the way before buffing it off. The now tinted wax will stick in recessed areas like corners and carved details and any cracks and scratches that the piece has accrued over the years. You could also distress the piece before starting if you wanted it to have a little more character. I discovered that if you happen to have a patch that dries a bit too much before you get a chance to buff it, it can be salvaged. Just put some wet wax overtop of it, wait a minute, and wipe again. It will soften the dried wax and take it back up.

Keep in mind you don’t have to tint your wax a chocolate brown you can tint it whatever color you like. A darker version of the color you’ve already painted the piece would look amazing I have a feeling. Go crazy and do lime green wax on a bright pink piece. Actually I would really like to see that. Or you could tint the wax with white paint and put it over a natural wood piece to give relief to carved areas.

From this to that to finally done!

Yes I realize in the long run it is a few more steps than chalk paint but it also only cost (even with brushes) around $35 in supplies versus the inordinate amount that doing it with chalk paint would have cost me. So the pros, at least for me, outweigh the cons.

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It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Cold Season

That doesn’t necessarily mean it feels cold here. This is a picture from December 1st.

No, I don’t live in the southern hemisphere.

You’re going to have to settle for another short post as I was battling the seasonal bug for a couple of weeks. I did manage to get a little work done on those chairs, though they are not ready to be revealed to the world yet.

However I did get all of my Christmas decorations up. Well… the village has no snow, but that’s a bit laughable around here anyway.

Of course there are bows on my Christmas tree!

Mostly it was a matter of putting up our tiny tree and, making my desk (see my series on it here) a little festive.

I decided presents would be the easiest thing to do, to the rescue empty gift boxes (again). This might be because of my obsession with wrapping presents. Sure I love giving them, and receiving them is nice too, but wrapping them is the best part.

As evidenced in the pictures above and below.

I also have a candle that has been on my desk for a while now that I periodically burn. I thought I would Christmas it up a bit (did I just use Christmas as a verb?) I started off with a plain old apple candle and took off the label. Any old candle would do, the fact that mine is red is a plus.

Next I took some wrapping paper and cut a 2″ wide strip to go around the candle. I got lucky and have a grid on the back of the wrapping paper I’ve been favoring this year but you can measure it out. In fact if you have a pattern you like or even a saying you can always print something out.

I then just taped it on tightly. I then put a second 1″ wide strip of another pattern over it.

Then to top it off just tie a ribbon around it. As you can also see I’ve been favoring twine ‘a la’ brown paper packages tied up with string.

Not only is it a cute way to spruce up your own candles it would be a nice way to gift a candle. The scent name is usually printed on the bottom or lid of the candle as well as the label so its not a big deal to peal it off. Don’t worry about the paper getting too hot. I guarantee with proper candle use the outside of your candle does not reach the required 451*F if it did you would have a problem even if there wasn’t paper around the jar.

Also,I forgot until after the fact, I have those funky patterned scissors hiding in my craft trunk, they would work well with this and you wouldn’t have to worry so much about straight lines… who needs straight lines anyway.

All the bows!!!