Wine bottle lights – a gift for you, a gift for them

Wine bottle lights are a gift that can be given any time of year really. Especially if you want to give yourself the gift of drinking a few bottles of wine so that you have some nice looking bottles to start with.

I saw this idea in a number of places and can’t even really point to a source.

Supplies:

  • Empty wine bottle (colored ones are nicer than clear)
  • Indoor/outdoor christmas lights. I used a clear strand with 20 bulbs and a plug only on one end
  • Corded drill (cordless will run out of batteries)
  • 1/2″ Glass drill bit (like this one at home depot)
  • Wire and beads if you want to make a “necklace” for the bottle

Instructions:

  • Wear safety glasses and gloves while drilling through the bottles. None of mine broke during drilling, but make sure to be safe.
  • I used a piece of styrofoam to cradle the bottle while drilling it
  • Use the label to start the hole. If the bottle doesn’t have a label, put a piece of masking tape on the bottle.
  • Start drilling. The whole process takes 20 – 30 minutes. I would start and stop quite often because my hand got tired.
  • Drill until the drill bit fits through the hole
  • Soak the bottle in hot water with a bit of oxyclean until the label is easy to get off. A razor blade will help. I also used a brillo pad to take off the glue. After that was done, I used a bottle brush to clean out the glass dust left in the bottle.
  • Feed the lights one by one through the hole
  • Using some wire and vintage beads from Etsy I made a necklace for the bottle

I’d like to think I’ll make a whole army of these to decorate my yard, perhaps under the bottle tree but we’ll see how that goes. For now though, the bottles have been a hit with the recipients!

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Making a quinoa loaf

The holidays this year have been crazy. We didn’t even have time to make our typical multi course holiday meal to enjoy slowly throughout many days. Instead I settled on making one dish that was somewhat festive. To avoid using meat, I found this whole foods recipe for a quinoa loaf with mushrooms and peas.  I didn’t get that many pictures, but you basically make a paste with oatmeal and chickpeas and then stir in the mushrooms, peas, onion, sun dried tomatoes, and quinoa. To bake it, the mixture is pressed into a loaf pan:

After baking:

The loaf was good, but definitely go heavy on the spices and add any additional spices that you like. To reheat slices, I first heated them in the microwave and then browned the outside on a pan so that it would be toasted. We added either some hot sauce or tapenade to the top.

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Caramel apple oatmeal cookies… a perpetual hit!

If you ever want to make cookies that are guaranteed to get raves, try these caramel apple oatmeal cookies. They take a bit of work to make but the result is delicious. The trickiest part is cooking them long enough. Either my oven isn’t hot enough or the time quoted on the recipe is way too short. To get them fully cooked, I ended up baking them for at least 16 – 18 minutes.

Assembling the ingredients:

Chop up the oatmeal in the food processor. I really like this step because I’m not a huge fan of oatmeal cookies, but if you chop it, the texture is much nicer.

Chop up the apples into little bits:

Mix the wet and dry ingredients:

After mixing in the apples and caramel bits, the dough is chilled for an hour or more and then formed into round balls and placed on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Extra caramel bits are added to the top of the dough for presentation.

After baking, they are ready to eat! This particular batch was actually under cooked. You need to make sure that the tops are a golden brown. Even under baked, they are quite delicious.

These cookies are quite soft and get softer by the day because of the moisture in the apples. I found it best to store them in the fridge.

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A homemade gift: Vanilla!

Earlier this year, I wrote about making my own vanilla extract. I know a number of women who like to bake, so I decided to give some of this deliciousness as gifts this year! I bought some small swing top bottles at the container store, made labels with a home made stamp and packaged up the vanilla. I sure hope it’s a hit 🙂

To make my own stamp, I first started by creating gridlines on my sketch paper and then drawing the word in a nice font of my own making.

I then carefully carved my stamp block using a speedball lino cutter handle. After doing some test stamps and cleaning up the carving, I mixed red and brown to make a slightly dark red colored paint and stamped a thick piece of cardstock.

After the paint dried, I cut up the paper into labels, punched a hole in the label and used some rafia to tie it around the neck of the bottle.

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Personalize your stockings with beads and wire!

A number of years ago, a friend gave me an awesome idea of how I could personalize our stockings WITHOUT using glue and glitter like we did when I was a kid. It took a bit more work than glue and glitter, but every year I get out our stockings and smile because I love them so much.

Here’s how you can do this too:

1. Get some flexible wire. You need to bend it into letter shapes. I used cursive writing for our names. The wire should be flexible enough that you can just form it with your hands and cut it with scissors.

2. Form the letters. Include little loops at the end so that you can put thread through the loop and secure it to the stocking.

3. Put small seed beads on the wire. I used a red and white pattern to match our stocking.

4. Use red (or other appropriately colored) thread and secure the letters to the stocking. I used the start and end of the letters to do this.

5. Add other buttons and beads that match. You can see the little snowflake buttons that I sewed on.

6. Hang them and enjoy 🙂 Happy Holidays!

Making myself festive

This past weekend we had a holiday party to attend. Not just any holiday party, but an ugly Christmas sweater party. Unfortunately, I seemed to have purged my wardrobe of all ugly holiday sweaters many years back. On that same day, I just happened upon this blog post on Craft about how to make a festive headband. Since I have a ton of craft supplies, I had everything needed to make myself a silly holiday headband but the headband itself. A quick stop at Walgreens to pick up a headband (and a blinking Christmas pin as an accessory) and I was ready to do some last minute crafting!

I wrapped my headband first in some shimmery white ribbon, held in place by hot glue, and then added a red ribbon accent.

Finally, I used some red tulle to tie on a big bow. Just in time for the holiday party!

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Beer cap ornaments

I have a HUGE collection of beer caps because not only do we drink a lot of beer in our house, our friends also save their caps and give them to me. Because we have a beer theme going on in our house, I got the idea to make Christmas ornaments with beer caps. Here’s how I did it – make some of your own!

Supplies:

  • Ornament hooks (I found some fancy ones at World Market last year)
  • Beer caps (preferably holiday themed or colored)
  • A drill
  • Some easy to bend wire
  • Scissors
  • Small pliers (I have some jewelry pliers)

Process:

First, I sorted my caps. I made each ornament from 3 matching caps. Here you can see my supplies:

Next, I drilled holes in the caps. For each set of three caps, I drilled two holes in two caps and one hole in the third cap. The third cap is the bottom cap so it only needs one hole.

Then I used the wire to attach the caps together. I just twisted the wire together on the back side of the caps and cut off any excess. I made sure to point the wire ends toward the cap so it wouldn’t scratch anyone. For the top cap, I used a longer piece of wire so that I could make a few twists before attaching the ornament hook. That way, the directions that the caps faced could also be adjusted relative to the hook direction.

The finished product!