What I Got For Christmas

And just like that, the holidays are over. I am now asking myself questions like: “What happened?”, “Where did they go so quickly?” and “Why do I feel so exhausted?”. I’m sure this is normal, something like PHSD (post holiday stress disorder) and with time and counselling I may recover some of my sanity again…

So while I’m waiting for my sanity to return, I thought I’d start out the new year by sharing some of my favourite (and most crafty) gifts that I received from the awesome people in my life.

Thing-A-Ma Jig by Bead Landing

Thing-A-Ma Jig by Bead Landing

The first awesome thing is a “jig”. It is a tool for wire work that allows you to quickly and easily bend wire into all sorts of shapes. This particular one came with several different sizes of pegs which means it can be used for both funky shapes and jump rings. It seems to be of solid construction, so I know the fun wire-bending times will continue for years to come.

Antique Sewing Box

Antique Sewing Box

This is an antique sewing box. Well, it may not be antique, but it is second-hand and made out of a really nice dark wood (close enough, I say). It’s a bit difficult to tell in this picture, but instead of drawers, its top two levels slide up and outwards, so you can see everything at once (see right side of unit in picture). Then when you’re done, it condenses nicely again (see left side of unit in picture). It is going to hold a lot of crafty awesomeness.

The only downside of this thing is that it’s a heavy sucker, so its level of portability beyond the house will be limited to how far I can convince my fiance to carry it. I am also considering putting wheels on it so that it’s easier to move within the house as well.

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin

This book was on my Christmas list and is in keeping with my goal to start my own etsy store this year (after I finish planning a wedding, that is). I’m hoping it will be the inspiration and guidance I need to successfully start up my own small (tiny, really) business, and maybe take it beyond that–or at least know what’s required to do so. I am nurturing a tiny seed of hope in that I have decided on what my first product will be (but it’s a secret!).

The Fairy Fastener - Best Invention Ever

The Fairy Fastener – Best Invention Ever

This little miracle makes putting on bracelets one handed a breeze. You just clip one end of the clasp and then hold the handle area with one hand, then fasten it with the other. I’m seriously stoked to have this and may just start making myself more bracelets so I can take advantage of it. Want one? You can get more information here! *

* note: I get really excited about certain products, but I’m in no way affiliated with the companies. I just want other people to have the opportunity to get as excited as I am.

I am extremely spoiled, and definitely got other things (including something very special that will get its own blog post later on), these were just a snippet of the ones I thought would most correspond with this blog. We also got something like 6 (!!) vegan cookbooks for Christmas, and I’m hoping I can convince my lovely fiance to do a guest post that talks about each of them.

What awesome things did you receive (or get for yourself) for Christmas?


The Fancy Tools of the Trade

Until recently, I was working with a basic set of tools–I had some combined pliers/wirecutters from my toolbox, and a pair of crimpers. (You can do a lot with just those tools. All I needed to make the finally earrings in The Perfect Earrings was a pair of crimpers.) But, less than a year ago, I “acquired” a set of needle nose pliers (thanks dad!–he won’t miss them, I’m sure). The avenues this opened! I was able to make earrings like these:

Then, last christmas, I got my fanciest tool yet, a pair of round nose pliers. Which allowed me to make earrings like these:

And now, for my birthday, I have received the fanciest (and possibly least necessary, but no less awesome) tools yet. The first is a pair of side cutters, that does the nicest, cleanest cuts I’ve ever seen (at least, compared to my other wire cutters).

Bead Landing™ Side Cutters from Michaels©

The second is a pair of “wire looping pliers”, which essentially make it super easy to start bends and coils in wire. This is especially helpful for me since I have issues with my wrists and the more fine work I have to do, the more I regret starting the project.

Beadalon® Wire Looping Pliers

Finally, the most mysterious of all the tools, the “bead drilling tweezers”, specially designed to make drilling holes in smaller beads (like pearls), easy as pre-made cookie dough. I am still unsure as to how it works, but the concept is very exciting. Beyond the obvious of how to use it in the first place, I have no idea what kind of drill bit to use. However, I do still have some pearls (in a currently unknown location, but possibly behind a dresser) that I got in hawaii that do not have holes in them. Can’t think of a better test!

Bead Landing™ Bead Drilling Tweezers from Michaels©

What will I make with all these fancy new tools? I don’t know! I’m excited to find out though–and am open to suggestions!


Tea Syrup and Jewelry

I have many hobbies, and though I love baking, I also love other things, like cute animals and tea. Just like baking, however, it is usually cheaper (and sometimes better) to make these things myself. (I do have a project in the works that involves knitting a tiny cute animal, but I want to wait to post about it until I’ve actually finished it.)

Yesterday, I discovered a recipe that I am eager to try. DavidsTea put a recipe for making tea flavoured syrups in their September 2011 newsletter. I can’t say I’d want to try it with boring tea, but with DavidsTea, oh yes, I’m excited. I have not yet decided which kind to make first, but I’m leaning towards Alpine Punch.

Tea Flavoured Syrup

  • 6 tsp any tea
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c sugar

Directions: “Steep your tea and strain into a small pan. Stir in sugar and simmer on medium-low for 10-15 minutes, until sugar dissolves. Store it in the fridge and drizzle into drinks, over fresh fruit, or right onto a spoon.”

Or put it on ice cream, or pancakes, I think.

Jewelry is also one of my favourite things. Buying it and making it. Making it is fun because then you can give it as very original gifts and people generally are pretty excited that it’s just for them. Recently I found instructions to make a wirework tree pendant. I’m pretty new to the world of wirework, though I have been making earrings and such for awhile. Original instructions are available here from Bead Studio.

There is a penny so you get a sense of scale–it’s not very big. Instead of the gauges in the directions (because I didn’t have them), I used 20g and 26g and it seemed to work out pretty well. I can definitely see the advantage of a thicker gauge for the circular base.

The main reason I wanted to do this is because I love cherry blossom trees, and I wanted to make one that will last year round. In retrospect, I think I would have the circular base ends come out at the top and create a loop with them, instead of trying to make them stay together with the wraps of 26g wire.

Hopefully will get back soon with more baking and maybe even reveal my knitting project!