Handmade Gifts to Give and Get

This month we got a head start on the gift-giving season by sharing our ideas for creating handmade holiday gifts. The group shared past and present creations and found inspiration from fellow crafters.

November 13, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Crafters Circle – Handmade Gifts to Give and Get

Presented by Leeanne Frydrychowicz and Jennifer Quinn

November 13, 2019

Leeanne F: Welcome, everyone. My name is Leeanne Frydrychowicz, and I am one of the hosts of our crafting circle discussion group. And I am a learning expert here with Hadley, for those of you that don't know. I teach all of our braille literacy courses as well as all of our math courses. I've been an avid crafter most of my life. I have many macaroni projects from my youth back, back when I would do that. And I basically, my main interests in crafting are knitting, scrapbooking, card making and quilting. Before we go further, let me find my cohost on the list so I can unmute her. Goodness, there's Jennifer.

Jennifer Q: Hi Leeanne.

Leeanne F: You unmuted yourself. Okay, Jennifer. You want to introduce yourself?

Jennifer Q: Hi. I'm Jennifer Quinn. My name comes up as Jennifer James on the participant list. I am the graphic designer and in-house photographer here at Hadley, so if you get any of our publications, you'll know my work. On the side, I like to do all kinds of art. And as Leeanne and I were talking back and forth this week in preparation for today, we realized that we've done a lot more handmade gifting than we thought, so I'm really looking forward to today's conversation.

Leeanne F: Good. Thank you, Jennifer. Today we are going to be talking about handmade gifts to give for holidays, for birthdays. It's the holiday season right now and coming up for many people. But even if you don't celebrate any of the end of the year holidays, there's always things during the year that are gift giving opportunities. So our question here is: What have you made for somebody, or what are you currently working on for this year for gift giving? If you're not working on something now, what have you done in the past? Or what have you received as a handmade gift that might be something that was near and dear to you?

So if you have something to share, something you're ready to give, thinking about giving, would like to give, have received, tell us a little bit about it. We'll call on people as they raise their hand, tell us your name, what the gift is, maybe a little bit about the gift, how you did it, where that idea came from, who it was intended for, just so that we can start a dialogue on our gift giving. And Jennifer and I, like she had mentioned, have lots of ideas as well. But we want to hear from you first. So Deanna, I see that your hand is raised, so I'm going to go ahead and unmute you. What would you like to share with us?

Deanna: One thing that I've made that everybody enjoyed for Christmas was homemade hot chocolate. And then I put it in a jar with more of a decorative lid, or even if you don't want to do a decorative lid, just a canning jar with a lid. And then I tied pretty ribbon around it, and I printed out some labels for the hot chocolate of the directions of how many scoops, or how much to put in, and then how much hot water to add. And everybody loved it, and I still get requests for it.

Leeanne F: That's fantastic, Deanna. Thank you for sharing. When my niece will do this, we end up giving her the container back from one year, and we just politely say about a month before Christmas saying, "We'd like a refill, please." So it's kind of an annual gift for her to give because she likes making it. She likes giving it. And we're not wasting our containers. We just wash them out, we send them back. We're like, "We're ready for more." So that's a fantastic idea. Now did you create your own recipe, or did you find something online that you're using?

Deanna: I have one in a cookbook, and I've done that before. And then I've also done ... I've researched a few online. I haven't found one that just really stands out, so if anybody has any ideas for that, that'd be great. But the one from the cookbook, it's your pretty standard with the Quik and the creamer and powdered milk. It's pretty much a standard one. But like I said, if you have any other ideas, I've also done ones that have toffee bits, crushed up Heath bars in it, for a toffee, a mocha toffee one. Or I've had ideas on the card where it could be a cocoa mocha, where you add it to coffee, that type of thing, so just different ideas that I've looked up and found on the internet.

Leeanne F: Okay. That sounds fantastic. And yeah, just putting it in almost any jar, mason jars, you buy a 12 pack of those, they're really inexpensive. And they're nice because if somebody's not using it, they can recycle it. Or if they wanted to save it and use the empty container for something else, or to bring it back to you for repeats like we do in my family, good way to use your container as well. Thank you, Deanna.

Deanna: You're welcome.

Leeanne F: Okay. Next I see Ann, you have raised your hand. What would you like to share?

Ann: I like that idea. But first of all, I was going to say I'm actually working on making blankets for my twin nieces, my four-year-old twin nieces. I've already made blankets for my older niece, my nephew and my daughter earlier. But I'm making these for Christmas. And with the leftover yarn, because I end up having a lot more yarn leftover because sometimes you buy these really big skeins of yarn and you don't need both of them, an entire second skein. So what I did is I make scarves, and I've still got yarn leftover after I make scarves.

Leeanne F: Okay. And so are you knitting or crocheting?

Ann: Crocheting. Yes.

Leeanne F: Okay.

Ann: Oh, yeah. I love to do that.

Leeanne F: Okay. And so about how long does it take you to make a blanket for somebody?

Ann: Depending on the size, it can take two weeks to a month, depending on the size and the time that I have to do it because I'm, like I said, right now writing. And I do a few hours a day when I can, but it just varies. But I get started and I don't want to stop.

Leeanne F: Sure, sure. And how do you pick your colors, Ann? Do you have sight to pick them?

Ann: No. I have my mother, because I'm living near my parents' house, she'll go with me to Walmart, or I'll tell her what colors I need, and she'll pick them out for me when she goes.

Leeanne F: Okay. Okay.

Ann: And I haven't thought about doing this, but I haven't done this, but I've thought about maybe when I'm making something different, to look for yarns online.

Leeanne F: Sure, sure. Absolutely. Yeah, but it's nice when they're local because then you get to feel them and have them right away.

Ann: Yeah. I don't know if I'll get Lion Brand though because Lion Brand yarns are expensive.

Leeanne F: Okay. All right. Then we look for the sales. Right?

Ann: Exactly.

Leeanne F: Exactly. Well, thank you, Ann. I appreciate you help ... You're adding. Okay. Next I see that Debra has her hand raised. Debra, what do you make?

Debra: Yes. Well, I enjoy taking a muslin tea bag, which they make small ones, but I like the larger ones that are about three to four inches tall and an inch or two wide. And if you put all kinds of hard spices, whole spices, like cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, whole nutmeg, just any spice that is whole or seeded, and then it becomes a simmering bag, which can be used and reused, so that when you give it to a friend, then they will just boil it in a pan of water. Or I've also heard that people have tried to do it in the microwave, and that works as well. And the actual cloves and cinnamon, once you take them out and once they dry, you can reuse them. But it makes just a delightful aroma, holiday aroma in the air, not just in the kitchen, but it goes throughout the house.

I also use those muslin teabags for ... I make sachets, so with all kinds of flowering herbs and flowers, some lavender, some oris root, just all kinds of different things that go together well. And I tell that they go together well by going to the whole foods store and smelling different jars of the bulk, and then go, "Wait a minute, that lavender might go really well with the rose petals. Or this might go with something else over here, the Angelina root or something." And then make those as sachets for people to drop into their lingerie drawers or into their sock drawers. So the muslin tea bags are very inexpensive and are available in most grocery stores. And you can get large packages of them online. They usually come in packs of three, and so I get multiple packs. But you can also find them online for a dozen at a time. But muslin bags can be a really nice start.

Leeanne F: Okay. Very nice. Now these muslin bags, Debra, are they self-sealing? Do they tie themselves? How do you close them to keep everything in?

Debra: Okay. They are the dimensions that I gave, and at one, at the ... We'll just call it the top end, it is a drawstring, and it's a very tiny like a thread, and you can pull it from both sides as you would a drawstring bag. And you can tie it off, but I don't because I like to reuse them. I just pull it, cinch it up, and then that way, the person can open it and reuse it. And they're originally made for tea. People who use whole tea, use loose tea, zen blends, et cetera, it's made for that originally. And I just got the idea of I make my own chai. And I thought, "Well, people have always loved this chai," so what I can do is take the spices that I normally use in a chai and put it in the tea bag, which can be used for tea, and also as a simmering bag. And people have really enjoyed it as a simmering bag.

Leeanne F: Okay. Well, thank you very much, Debra. That's really neat. Okay. Next on our list, we have a guest that starts with the phone number 201. Could you please tell us your name?

Tavianna: Hi. My name is Tavianna.

Leeanne F: Could you spell that for me, please?

Tavianna: T-A- V as in victory, I-A-N-N-A.

Leeanne F: Thank you so much. What do you like to make for the holidays?

Tavianna: In the past, I used to make collage.

Leeanne F: Okay. And what kind of materials do you use?

Tavianna: I use some colored paper and some glue. And I used to use the backs of some waffle boxes and cereal boxes.

Leeanne F: Okay. And are they more sculptures that you would set on a table, or wall art?

Tavianna: I'm not really sure, to be honest.

Leeanne F: Okay. Okay.

Tavianna: Once I did make a clay-shaped kind of a base.

Leeanne F: Okay. Very nice. Well, thank you for participating.

Tavianna: Thank you.

Leeanne F: Okay. Merle, I'm going to unmute you. What do you like to make for gift giving?

Merle: Well, what I just did this weekend, I had a friend from Portland came out. She's blind. And she wanted to make some Christmas presents for her caregivers and her mother and dad. So I helped her turn ink pens and bottle stops and some key chains for her to make for Christmas presents for her family and that. I like to help people do stuff like that.

Leeanne F: Sure. And so you actually taught her how to work the lathe and helped her make some, so that she had an active part in it?

Merle: Oh, yeah. She held the chisel and I just helped support it to where she could get it done right.

Leeanne F: That's really neat. Yeah, that's really neat.

Merle: She made three secret pocket key chains. And she made an ink pen for her dad, and a wine bottle stopper for her mother.

Leeanne F: Nice.

Jennifer Q: That's really great, Merle. If anyone didn't get a chance to join us or listen, the woodturning workshop that we did last month with Merle was just so interesting. So you can still listen to that at Hadley, Hadley's website.

Leeanne F: Yeah. Merle and Ray did an amazing job of just, first of all, educating us as to what woodturning is, what that means, what you can make with it, how to do it without sight. It was really interesting, so I would highly encourage if you haven't, if you weren't here last week or last month, to go back and listen to that. Thanks, Merle, so much.

Merle: Yeah. I went back and listened to it. It was pretty good.

Leeanne F: Awesome. Awesome. Thanks, Merle.

Merle: Yep.

Leeanne F: Okay. Next we have Tammy. Tammy, what do you like to make for gift giving?

Tammy: Hi. Well, this year I've made a little gift bag. It's crocheted. I made it with red and white because everyone likes peppermint, and made it with a drawstring, and then filled it full of peppermint candies. And I've also got a little knitted hat that I've done for a nephew.

Leeanne F: Nice. And now do you usually give handmade gifts? Or is this something that's new this year for you?

Tammy: Oh, I've given handmade gifts in the past. But I've made afghans and given them, tea towels with the crocheted tops, different things.

Leeanne F: Nice. Okay. And so you said you're a crocheter, so that was crochet. And I had an email the other day from somebody that was asking about crocheting blind without having any sight. Tammy, does that fit you as a description? Do you crochet blind? Or do you have some sight?

Tammy: Blind.

Leeanne F: Okay. Well, that person may want to be looking for you as well because she has some very specific questions.

Tammy: Okay. Well I’ll give her very specific answers.

Leeanne F: Thank you, Tammy, for sharing. I appreciate that.

Tammy: You're welcome.

Leeanne F: Okay. Next we have Sara. Sara, what do you like to make to give as gifts?

Sara: Oh, hello. Right now I am making, I'm crocheting a baby blanket for a new grandson, who'll be born in April. But what I've done is I got some of that baby yarn, that real soft, and it's so thin that it's just really thin to use. But I've got, with the help of my sighted friend, she chose out a real nice baby blue and then another, it's the blue, but it's kind of a heather blue with some gray in it. So I take the two strands, and I'm using two strands to crochet the blanket. And it's really coming out really, really nice because just that one thin thread is pretty small.

Leeanne F: Sure, sure. Well, and it makes for lots of holes when it's that thin.

Sara: Yes, yes. Yeah.

Leeanne F: So Sara, when you knit, or sorry, when you crochet with the two strands, it's exactly the same? You're just pulling from two skeins of yarn instead of one?

Sara: Yes, yes. I am. And what I've done is I took two Tupperware containers, kind of square, and I put the one color in one, and I marked it with my pen friend, this is the blue, and then the other one is marked with a heather blue. And I put them each in their separate containers. And then when I pull out the strands, they don't get twisted up in each other, and it just makes it easier to keep it kind of just coming out straight and not twisted all up together in knots.

Leeanne F: Sure.

Sara: Yeah, it's working out really nice.

Leeanne F: Right. So when you're using the Tupperware containers, do you put the lid on and poke a hole through the lid? Or do you have them just open at the top?

Sara: Oh, yeah. Well, what I did is on the corner, because they're square, the one corner I have kind of open. The other kinds are shut. But the one corners on each of them are loose. But I was considering poking a hole in them if this didn't work, just having each corner, one corner open. But it's working out pretty well, yeah.

Leeanne F: That's great. That's great. I've seen people take even from the deli, if you were getting maybe potato salad from the deli, in a larger container, saving those plastic containers because they have a nice plastic lid as well. And then just cutting or poking a hole in those lids, putting the ball of yarn in there for the same idea. But basically keeping the materials that they had, without poking a hole in your nice Tupperware container. So I like that idea.

Sara: That's a great idea. I know the containers you're talking about. Thanks for the idea.

Leeanne F: My deli used to carry those, and now they have these plastic squares. The container lid is attached, and so they don't work quite as well. But I do like having something so that my ball of yarn doesn't get attacked by a cat as I'm knitting. Thank you, Sara. Okay. Next, we have Debra. Debra, what do you like to make for gift giving?

Debra: Well, since you mentioned cats, my idea was for Tammy and other people who crochet, to use those scrips and scraps that you have leftover and you think, "What am I going to do with this?" They're the size of a ping pong ball, and you don't want to waste it. You don't want to throw it away. I make balls. Let me try to think of how to say this. I take live catnip and just pinch off maybe one left and crush it, and then wind a little bit of the yarn around it, pinch off another leaf and crush it, wind a little bit of yarn around it. So what you end up with is your yarn that was a ping pong sized ball, now it is again, but it's got little bits of catnip, of live catnip throughout it. And the kitties just go crazy over them. They bat them around, and of course love the smell. And sometimes they'll even chew on the leaves. And if you don't enjoy that indoors, take them out on the deck or the terrace. It's a fabulous way to use the ends of your yarn.

And if you wanted to do it for stocking stuffers, like for a whole bunch of people, and you wanted to get a skein of yarn, I would suggest the variegated that change from one color to the next. And not that the cats enjoy that anymore, but whoever is able to see it does, it's kind of interesting. But it makes a fantastic stocking stuffer. You use up all of your scrips and scraps of yarn. And you get the live catnip, I have found it at many just different potting stores and plant stores and gardening places. And if you're not able to find that, or don't want to, you can always get little packets of dried catnip. But it's just, kitties go crazy. And I also wanted to thank Merle, I think it was, for reminding us that giving your time and your skill is a wonderful gift. It's just time, but it's also your skill. And you're passing on something, I think it's a brilliant idea, so thank you for reminding us about that.

Leeanne F: Thank you, Debra. I agree. Giving of yourself, be it a handmade gift or the gift of time, and teaching somebody a new skill, absolutely priceless. I agree. Thank you so much, Debra. I love the idea of the catnip. My niece will make cat toys out of corks, wine corks, because [crosstalk]. And I've seen a lot of them around. Yes, yes. But I love the idea of using up your leftover yarn because any of us that work with fiber have lots of leftovers that we don't want them to go to waste, so thank you.

Debra: Okay. Thank you.

Leeanne F: Okay. Next we have Ray. Hi Ray.

Ray: Hello. I was just going to give my input a little bit on both couple of things. One, we do a neighborhood neighbor gift each year, and so everybody makes something. It has to be handcrafted, or we call it from the heart. And so this year, I'm doing cheese planes with a cheeseboard for the neighbors. And in past, I've done pens and Christmas ornaments, wooden Christmas ornaments. But kind of backing up, like what Merle said, is I like to throughout the year, do special gifts, or let people do them. So for Mother's Day, one of my neighbors, her kids, who are three, six, and seven, came over and they all worked on a pen. The three-year-old did the sanding, and made a pen for their mom. So it was something that was made for them, for her from them.

And I also had for Christmas, one of our neighbors had a pear tree in the yard, and the wind blew it down. And it was really upsetting to her because the kids planted it when they first moved in there. So we took some of that wood and turned it into different pens and different things, so she's given them part of them tree, now that it's gone. And the one I liked the best was a bullet pen that she made for her son. And she's going to give it to him this Christmas, and we're calling it a cartridge out of a pear tree.

Leeanne F: That's hysterical.

Ray: One last thing, going back to the mason jar, I love the idea with the hot chocolate. I've done in the past where I've put all the dry ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in there, and then made a wooden lid to go on top of a mason jar lid, and that. So all you have to do is dump everything out into a bowl and add an egg and mix it all up, and you've got cookies there to cook.

Leeanne F: Right. Excellent. Yeah, there's actually now cookbooks out on just mason jar gifts, with all different kinds of recipes to add those dry ingredients. And when I do them, I like to leave the layers. So I take a funnel, and as I'm putting in my flour, I leave the flour, and then I put the brown sugar in, and try to keep them in the layers because for those of us that are visual, that layered look of the different ingredients just adds to the novelty of it and how sweet it is to give. And I usually will tie some ribbons, and with the directions, the recipe on there as well. You go a step further making wooden lids. I don't have that skill. But just the jars that the lids that they come with can be decorated with fabric as well to help kind of make it more festive.

Ray: Yeah. I like that layering idea. That's great. Thank you.

Leeanne F: Thanks, Ray. Okay. Next we have Deanna. Deanna, what would you like to share with us?

Deanna: Well, back to the jars. Yes, they do have some cookbooks like that. I have three of them that I use CCTV to read. And my grandson, he calls them his cookbooks.

Leeanne F: Thanks, Deanna. Okay. Let's see. We have Sue Brasel. We haven't heard from you. Tell me what you like to make.

Sue: Well, I like to make all kinds of things. But specifically this Christmas, I have asked one of my friends to go get me some greenery from wherever they're selling Christmas trees, the live Christmas trees. Usually, those trees will shed some branches, and different parts will be on the ground. And instead of letting them sweep it up and put it in the trash, I want them because I will take all those and lie them out around a frame. And right now in the springtime, I made some kudzu wreaths and some wisteria wreaths. And now that those have retained their shape, I can just put the greenery on those. So that's one thing that's really fun to make, and people like to hang the wreaths outside on their doors, or on their houses, so that's a greenery project.

Another wreath project that I did back when I was in college. You take a clothes hanger, shape it into a circle, and then tie the wrapped candies on it. And just keep shoving all those wrapped candies as close together as you can. And you've got a candy wreath. And I actually entered one of those into the state fair, well, maybe a decade ago. Didn't get any prizes, but I got a lot of comments.

Leeanne F: That's really neat. I actually remember those wreaths. I remember my mom tried to make one. It went horribly wrong for her, but the idea I think, it turned out better in her head than in the execution part of it. But she was diligent. She really tried.

Sue: Yeah. That's fun. But the thing yesterday I went to a Thanksgiving party for the deaf and blind. And one of the things that we're talking about for a Christmas thing, and I'm probably going to be able to do crafts again, yesterday we made the Oreo cookie turkeys. But for Christmas, I want to take toilet paper tubes. You squish them flat. And then you can decorate. You can wrap wrapping paper around them and glue it on. And then you squish it flat, and then at the very top where those two sides are, you move that middle portion into the center, and you do that with the two sides, so this is like a little pillow kind of gift box. And those are really cute, really easy to make.

Leeanne F: I agree. And you know, for those people that are challenged when it comes to, you know how do you poke in the edges? If you take an old CD, or anything that has a curve to it, and take a pen or a pencil, and kind of put that CD on the very edge of your tube, draw a line to give you almost like a crescent at the end, that'll help give you a spot to start folding. And usually, if you draw back and forth a couple of times, it creates a bit of an indent on the cardboard, making it easier to tuck in those sides to make the gift box kind of even puffy in the middle to put a little treat or trinket of some sort, and then closing the sides nice and securely.

Jennifer Q: That's a really good tip.

Leeanne F: Yeah. That's what we would do when we liked to make them. Well, thank you so much, Sue.

Sue: You're welcome.

Leeanne F: Okay. Let's see. Ann, you have your hand raised. What would you like to share?

Ann: I was going to tell you guys, and I don't have it now, I don't even know if I have the other ones, but there are these little containers that you can get. You can get a small one and you can get a large one, and I had a multi skein one. But you can get containers with holes already in them [inaudible] holes for your balls of yarn or your skeins of yarn.

Leeanne F: Sure, yes. They do make them. They make just about everything. But I have a daughter that will not let me waste anything in this house, as well as she's very big into recycling. She's very globally aware, thanks to a specific very special teacher to her. So she came up with the idea, mom, you could just poke a hole and put it in here. And so although I saw the nice ones that you can buy, when she suggested that, I thought, "You know, it's a really good idea. And it'd be helping reinforce the whole reuse, recycle, use what you have philosophy that she's been working on these past two years."

Ann: Yeah, I get that. But some of those containers, when you buy food from a deli, some of those containers don't last very long.

Leeanne F: Sure. Sure. Some of them are really well made and really nice, and you can reuse them. You can put leftovers in them. You can do things for months and months, if not years with them. Others are not as well made. You're absolutely true. Good point.

Ann: Right.

Leeanne F: Good point. Well, thank you, Ann.

Ann: You're welcome.

Leeanne F: Okay. Merle, you had something to add.

Merle: Yeah. I just had a suggestion for the crocheters that are using their Tupperware. They can go to the Dollar Tree, or dollar store, and buy containers to put the yarn in. That way, they can poke holes, it's only a dollar, so you're not wasting anything.

Leeanne F: That's true. Very good idea. And they have all kinds of containers, at least at our dollar store.

Merle: They have all kinds of shapes and everything.

Leeanne F: Sure. Sure. Well, thank you very much, Merle. Okay, Tammy. What would you like to add?

Tammy: For that person that was speaking about the candy on the hanger, you can also get a wire hanger and put those loops that you make the potholders out of and put them on a hanger for a wreath. And then get something for on that wreath to make it more decorative.

Leeanne F: Okay. Well, thank you. Maybe adding a bow or something as well.

Tammy: Yeah. Yeah.

Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, Tammy.

Tammy: And for those that crochet, another thing that you can use to put your ball of yarn in is get a two-liter bottle of soda that you drank and put it in there. That should keep it. Cut it and put your ball in there.

Leeanne F: Okay. Okay. So I haven't heard that suggestion, thank you.

Tammy: Yep.

Leeanne F: Jennifer, what are you making this year to give as gifts?

Jennifer Q: Well, this year I'm making ... I always say, "Oh, I don't have the time to do this. I'm just going to buy." But really, there is something good about just I think calming down and focusing and making something. And then I think people just like it and hang onto that more. It's a little more meaningful. This year, I'm making coasters. So I found the idea because I was looking for a set of coasters. I'm running out. And I found that you can get a plain tile at Home Depot, or Lowe's, or even online if you have to order. But at Home Depot, they're about 12 cents apiece. So if you were making just one coaster, or a set of two, or a set of four, it's still a really reasonable gift, an inexpensive gift to make. I think I haven't really decided how I'm going to do that, if I'm going to do a holiday theme and do just different papers, or if I'm going to do photos of my son, who's two. I know his grandmas will like that.

So I'm not really sure. But I think there's a lot of flexibility that you can do this, whether you're painting. I tend to do more mixed media with maybe some different kinds of papers and then some acrylic paint. And then I'll put Modge Podge over the top to seal it. And then I found these wine cork material, the cork backs that you can buy. It was set of 40 backs for about $10, so they don't ... They're self-adhesive. They stick right on the bottom of the tile piece. And so then it doesn't scrape, and it kind of holds the coaster in place. So that's what I'm doing this year. That's my gift. I don't know if I'm going to do this ... And I usually do them for people as extra gifts. Maybe it'll be like I make a set for everyone, or maybe it's for my maintenance man in my building, or people at work sometimes too. So those are kind of fun when you're able to give more gifts too.

Leeanne F: Okay. Well, thank you. Thank you. As I was trying to think about what I've done in the past, probably my most ridiculous high hopes gift was last year. I have four children, and I have a best friend in Arizona from when I lived out there. And I got this brilliant idea that I was going to make them quilts for Christmas. But I got the idea in August, so I had to figure out how to make five quilts in five months. And I do all of the quilting, the making the quilt sandwich and the quilting and the binding and everything myself because it's so costly to have a professional do it, that it was a fast and furious thing. Besides realizing that I was way out of my league, and I had far too much to do and not enough hours, I was also trying to do it while my children weren't around. One was off at college, so that made sense, but the other three are around a lot. And when they're not around, they're in school and I'm working. So it got to be a lot of late nights. So that was my probably farfetched dream. It all happened, but it was pretty chaotic. Some of them that I liked making the most is I'm a big tea drinker, and at Starbucks, I've never had their coffee, but I drink their chai soy lattes quite often. And a couple years ago, found a recipe to make a chai latte dry mix that is absolutely amazing.

And so it's basically it's lots of ... It's powdered milk and powdered creamer and vanilla creamer. And there's pepper, and there's all kinds of spices in there, and there's brown sugar in there. And you basically just put it in a blender. It's all dry ingredients. And you just pulverize it until it's a really fine powder, so that it will dissolve well. And then it's basically a quarter cup of that to a cup of milk. You can drink it cold, but it doesn't mix as well. We like to heat our milk up either on the stove top or the microwave. But I've made those back when my children were a bit younger, we used to give gifts to every single teacher. And they had lots of extra teachers. They had the art teacher and the music teacher, the orchestra teacher. So sometimes there were 20 teachers between all my kids that we were giving gifts to, that we did a chocolate chip cookie layering in a mason jar, that I think Merle had mentioned, one of the people had already mentioned. And then the other part of that was that we did the chai mix in a smaller mason jar with the directions on how to use it, tied it all up in a striped kitchen towel, tea towel, that we actually got, I think it was a 12 pack from Ikea for maybe $5. It was really inexpensive. But the kids gave them with such pride and such love to their teachers that, that's what reminds me every time I think I don't have time for handmade gifts this year, I'm going to go out and buy things. Then I think about what my kids, how much they cherish their gifts that they receive and how proud they are when they give a gift. So I tend to keep going with the handmade gifts.

And back to the quilts for a moment, out of my four kids, the two that use their quilts are my older boys. The two that just put them up on a shelf just to look at are my girls. And I thought for sure the boys would not be the ones using the quilts, and I was dead wrong. So you never know, you never know how you're going to affect somebody. I see that Charles has his hand raised, so I want to be able to get to everybody. So Charles, what would you like to add for us today?

Charles: Coffee, everybody's favorite. So the lady a few minutes ago that was on there, said something about ceramic tile that you get at the Home Depot. You could take the ceramic tile and take some washers, rubber washers, and glue them on the bottom in each corner, and then use it for a hot plate, where you can sit hot ceramic dishes that come out of your oven on your countertop.

Jennifer Q: That's a great idea.

Charles: And keep [inaudible].

Jennifer Q: What do you get, Charles? What is the piece that you put underneath there?

Charles: Just rubber washers that you might use in your sinks or something like that.

Jennifer Q: And you can get those at Home Depot as well?

Charles: Yeah. Yeah. You could get those at Home Depot or anyplace.

Jennifer Q: Yeah. I like that.

Leeanne F: I like that too because then you have a bigger surface if you wanted to choose a bigger tile. Decorate it however you want to.

Charles: 12 by 12. I mean, you could even paint the tile if you [inaudible} something. But I've got one that I did that I put on the countertop, kitchen countertop, from getting damaged. And you can put the casserole dish on top of that.

Jennifer Q: Thank you.

Charles : What I do is I paint pictures, oil paintings. And I have done some pastels. I went to school when I was young to be an artist, but I don't do that anymore. But I've given paintings away to people. And I've gotten most of them back because people died, and all of them seems to end up back with me. And so my house is full of paintings from trees, like rainbow trees, [inaudible] trees.

Leeanne F: Interesting. Interesting. I love the idea of using it as a hot plate, just choosing a bigger tile because I don't think I've seen those. I've seen the coaster idea, but I've never seen the hot plate idea. I really like that. Thank you, Charles.

Jennifer Q: Thanks, Charles.

Charles: You're welcome. Have a good day now. Bye.

Leeanne F: You too. Okay. Deanna, did you have something to add?

Deanna: Yeah. You were talking about making blankets. And my granddaughter's other grandma had made some blankets for all the grandkids using two different colors of that really soft material, and cut the squares like a big square, however big you're wanting it, or a big rectangle, and cutting strips like probably four to five inches at each corner to start, and doing it even with two layers, putting one on top of the other. And that way, it can be reversible, or you could have just a solid color, or a solid color and a print color that way, or even a softer and a not as soft on the outside, something like that. And cutting them the same exact width and height, putting them together, cutting the strips at the corners first, about four inches long, tying a knot using both of the materials. And then from there, then going every two inches, cutting a strip, tying them together, cutting a strip, tying them together, all the way around the whole quilt. And it makes a simple quilt without having to sew. And the kids thoroughly love them.

Leeanne F: Sure. Sure, Deanna, yeah. They're called tie knot blankets, and they're really popular. Typically, people will use fleece. And fleece is on sale right now at a lot of the craft stores. A lot of people make them for the holidays and for gifts. I know that my daughter's Girl Scout troop made them for as donations that they were doing service projects. And so they did them, and even at a young age. And I think it's a really good project because it's a really tactile project. It goes fairly quickly. And they're relatively inexpensive. They even have kits now that have the two coordinating fabrics, maybe a solid and the pattern already all bundled together, already precut exactly to what size you need as a lap throw usually.

Deanna: Oh, nice. I didn't know that.

Leeanne F: Yeah. And they are almost always on sale at Jo-Ann's and Michaels when I'm looking. It's hard for me to not purchase them because I don't need to purchase them. But it's a great price and it's a cute idea. But yeah, they're really popular and they're relatively easy to do as well. Well, thank you for adding that. Okay. We have time for just one more quick one. Ann, you have your hand raised. And then we're almost coming up on our ending time.

Ann: I'm sorry. Okay. What I was going to say was talking about those fleece tie blankets, our church used to get those, and they'd cut the little fringe off to tie them. We did two layers and tied them to make blankets for one of our local nursing homes.

Leeanne F: That's a great idea. That is a very good idea. And again, they're always on sale. And actually, I'm glad you said that because I have ideas with that, so thank you very much. We are just one minute shy of our ending time, so let's see if we can get one more person. And thanks, Ann. Okay, Susan, what did you have to add?

Susan: I just want to know... See, I never crochet or anything. Is it easy to learn?

Leeanne F: So I'm a knitter, and I'm sighted. So I have friends that have been lifelong crocheters. They say it's once you get in the rhythm, it's just second nature. It's just this rhythmic that they keep doing, and it gets to be very easy. Learning from the beginning, I'm not sure, Susan. Can anybody respond to that quickly?

Ann: Yes, it is easy to learn. There is a book on BARD called Crochet Your Way. It teaches you how to crochet with one hand. But I end up doing it with two hands because I use one hand with the hook, and then I use one hand to guide the loop over the hook because for me, trying to pull the loop through with just the hook is not easy. So I do it with two hands.

Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you.

Susan: Is it in braille?

Ann: No, it's on BARD. Yeah, you can get it in braille, but it is also on BARD. So you can request it in braille, or on cartridge, or download it.

Susan: Okay.

Leeanne F: Okay. Thank you, everyone, for your fantastic ideas.

Jennifer Q: There's so many great ideas in this discussion, so I think that if we can get a list together, it'd be nice to be able to kind of go back through. Thank you.

Leeanne F: Thank you, everyone. Have a fantastic, fantastic Thanksgiving. And we'll talk to you next month.