My holiday DIY projects

First of all, I hope you all had a wonderful time over the holidays. I know this isn’t the first post of the year, but now that Christmas and December birthdays are well out of the way, I thought it’s safe to post this now (I didn’t want to ruin the surprise for the recipients).

It started with me craving for Nutella. How did Nutella get me to DIY, you ask? Well… I’m lactose intolerant, and Nutella contains dairy, and unfortunately none of its dairy-free substitutes taste right for me, or have the right consistency. So one day I was looking at my Facebook feeds, and one of my friends posted a homemade Nutella video (it was one of those buzzfeed or something), and it got me looking for homemade vegan/dairy-free nutella. After looking at so many recipes out there, I decided there are 2 recipes I’d like to try, and so I did.

The result? It could use some tweaking to suit my taste, but other than that, it was pretty good! I’ve been using it on (dairy-free) pancakes and I absolutely love it, I’d imagine it would be great on ice cream too. Once I finished this batch I’ll either try this again but alter the recipe to suit my taste, or I’ll try the other recipe I found.

It was pretty close to Christmas when I made this, so J and I had to start thinking about what to get everyone for Christmas. Here I was looking through DIY stuff, and decided that maybe this year we should have a DIY theme to all the presents, including the birthday presents covered in this period. So I went on a hunt for DIY present ideas. To say I had information overload was an understatement. It got to the point where I don’t actually know what I want to make anymore, and my bookmark manager had accumulated so many links which I later categorized for easier find. There were 2 birthdays and 6 Christmas presents to think about. The Christmas presents have an agreed budget, which though we were thankful for that, actually made it a little bit harder.

The birthday presents

The first thing to get out of the way were the birthday presents. I was inspired to make jewellery, so after looking for ideas, I decided to make bird nest pendant. Thankfully we have a local bead store in town, and I know they sell gemstones, because I wanted gemstone beads for the nest pendant. If you don’t know already, I love wearing, meditating, and working with gemstones, but to find stones that work for a certain person may be a little harder than finding one for myself. In the end I made 3 pendants, 1 for myself (not only it’s a test, but it’s also a keepsake, to celebrate the first time I made one of these), 1 for my bestie, and 1 for J’s Mum.

My first bird-nest pendant:

Birdnest pendant

The green stones are Chrysocolla. I haven’t really worked with this stone before, but I was drawn to it at the store, and after finding out about the properties, I decided that it’s a good fit, not only for me, but for my bestie too. The white stone is Moonstone, which is something I always like, and always been drawn to.

For my bestie:

Birdnest 2a

Photo credit: @nJCz on Instagram

She and I share a lot of similar taste, and sometimes I feel that we’re in the same wavelength, and to feel that some of the stones I got for myself would suit her as well wasn’t a surprise. For her, I’ve put together Turquoise and Chrysocolla. It is said that when given by a friend, Turquoise will protect the wearer from any negativity. When I see the finished product, I knew it would suit her very well.

For J’s Mum:

Birdnest pendant

This was a combined effort. J chose the colour scheme, then together we searched for the stones that suit her. She’s an artist, so Carnelian was my first choice, as it is known to boost creativity. The others were Amber (for its balancing and calming properties), and Smokey Quartz (to remove obstacles). The result was a lovely colour combination, which we’re glad to know she loves.

Then came the Christmas presents

Cold-brewed Coffee

A few days before I made my first pendant, J made himself cold-brewed coffee, something he has been doing in the summer since last year. So he said that he’d be making those for the boys, except for his Dad because he doesn’t really drink coffee.

Cold-brewed Coffee, bottled

He spent hours filtering these into the bottles after the coffee were ready to be bottled, but eventually he got there the day before we went up to his parents’ for Christmas (that was quite a hectic day). And the result, we heard back from one of his brothers who said that it’s really good. I’ve also tried J’s cold-brewed coffee and it is really good.

Attempted bath fizzies

As for the girls, I’ve been through so many pages of ideas and after a lot of thinking and calculating to make sure we’re still within the budget, I’ve decided to do homemade beauty/bath products. Thankfully I use some of the ingredients needed pretty regularly, so I have some at home already, but the rest warranted a visit to the local health/organic store, and a couple of online purchases.

My idea was to make a pack of mini bath bombs, which I’ve been wanting to do for awhile, but never had the occasion to do it.

Ditha IMG_7263


The result wasn’t quite the way I hoped. It seems like on the day I made them, it was rather humid, and the bath bombs ended up fizzing early. Though I also thought that I may have sprayed a bit too much witch hazel.

Ditha IMG_7308

The second try went a little better, but still had too much moisture. I did try it without the witch hazel at first, but the mixture wouldn’t stay together, so I sprayed it with witch hazel (less amount that the first time), and the fizz still activated early. But this time I suspect it was from the food colouring I used (though at very little amount), since they’re water-based. I really need to find non-water based colourant that’s available locally or ships to NZ. So I had to scrap these. I ended up using these as toilet bowl freshener though, and also as fizzy shower melts, which worked pretty well.

Body butter

The other products I wanted to make were body butter and bath salts. And after a lot of thinking we decided to make shaving cream for J’s dad. After looking around for body butter recipes, I bought more fragrances, and away I went with making them. I gotta say I got really tired of whipping the butter, it took ages to get it to fluff. The shaving cream and the body butter recipes shared a lot of similarities, the differences are in the ratio, and that the shaving cream contains castille soap, while the body butter does not. The body butters were a lot of fun to make, though I basically took over the kitchen making these for a few days, which ended up in a few days of very late dinner.

Homemade body butter

The result was really good, I was very happy with how they turned out, and those body butters are just lovely. It melts on the skin and leaves it well moisturized.

Bath Salts

Bathsalt mix

The bathsalts on the other hand, were quick and easy, and they were a lot of fun to make too. I decided to make colour stripes for presentation. Much of the fun of these projects was finding out the fragrance that would suit the recipient, I’m glad that they seem to fit.

The labelling and wrapping

DIY presents and label ready to go

On the day we were going up to J’s parents place was quite hectic, with me frantically looking for my calligraphy marker, because I realized that my calligraphy set doesn’t have the nib I wanted, and my calligraphy marker with the correct tip was nowhere to be found. Originally I wanted to use stamps, but couldn’t find the alphabet stamps in town that doesn’t cost so much and also not so small. So in the end, I ended up using fine-tip sharpie to write the labels. Then J did all the wrapping. The end result was great, though we had to keep the presents in a box to keep them from falling over (the bubblewrap wasn’t helping).

So that was my DIY presents adventure, and though it was a lot of work to make these, I had a lot of fun making them.


One Response to My holiday DIY projects

  1. Pingback: Back at work in 2016 – Silver Duck

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