POSTED ON DECEMBER 19, 2012:
Tis the Season to be Thrifty
Skip the holiday haggling with do-it-yourself gifts
Round this time of year, cheer is often sacrificed on the altar of our ever-thinning wallets. But just because prices are rising and wages are falling doesn't mean you can't do it up this holiday season. Feeling your pocket's pain, we have come up with several avant-garde craft classics that you can make your loved ones to give yourself a financial leg up and leave your gifts head-and-shoulders above the rest. Besides, people always appreciate homemade gifts.
Kick Back Bath Soak
Two-for-one deals always give us consumerist Americans butterflies, so why not make your friends feel like they are getting more for your money as well? Our first gift option is an effort to promote relaxation despite the fire of holiday hurriedness.
Things you will need for a bath soak project include a coffee mug, Epsom salt, essential oil, ribbon, and tissue paper. Coffee mugs of all sizes can be acquired very affordably from a variety of thrift stores in Tulsa, which can be found at the following locations.
Those in the Midtown area should check out the Animal Aid Thrift Store, 3307 E. 15th St., where your money goes a long way in addition to doing a little good for our four legged fellows. Those who frequent the Brookside area will want to swing by Quality Thrift Store, located at 5133 S. Peoria Ave, and those on the more northwesterly side of the city can find some good picks at Value Thrift Store, 1112 S. Memorial Drive.
With your ever-so-carefully chosen mug in hand, you, my fearless and festive crafter, are ready to proceed.
The next step requires some decision making, and perhaps a little more knowledge of those to who you are giving. Essentially you have been given the difficult task of choosing the fragrance for your salt soak. We humbly submit the following options for your consideration.
Relaxing Bath Soak: 20 drops lavender
Energizing Bath Soak: 10 drops lavender, 5 drops rosemary
Invigorating Bath Soak: 20 drops sweet orange, 10 drops grapefruit
Soothing Bath Soak: 5 drops eucalyptus, 15 Drops lavender
In general, you want the potency of your mix to be roughly 16 oz. Epsom salt per 15-30 drops essential oils. The best way to approach the project will be to make big batches of your desired fragrance, and worry about the rest later.
To begin, mix Epsom salt in a large bowl with the allotted amount of drops, and then spoon mixture into coffee mugs pre-lined with several sheets of tissue paper. The mixture should not be moist and thus will not cause the tissue paper any damage. Wrap the top with ribbon and revel in wonder at your very own crafty creation. Once all the relaxation or invigoration has been had, simply repeat the process. If you really want to overachieve, include fine tea or coffee as an additional offering.
Epsom salt can be purchased cheaply at any local drug store, as can ribbon. Essential oils can be found in a variety of scents at the Whole Foods Market.
If you decide on only one scent for your salts, this project will set you back $35 tops, though the price increases considerably if you choose several scents. Regardless, split amongst several family members or co-workers, this gift idea is worth its weight in gold with five people of almost any age or gender being knocked off your gift list for a cool $7 per person.
Relaxation not your cup of tea? Spice things up with another gift from home, this one even more delicious than the last.
Tulsans love their bar-b-que, and odds are even that difficult-to-buy-for person on your list will have a hard time turning up their nose at these classic concoctions. We offer three takes on the classic sauce: a thin vinegar base that is perfect for those who enjoy a good marinade, a classic red for those who want their flavor bright and dripping, and a mustard-based sauce for those with a more adventurous palate.
All three sauces can be packaged very neatly in canning jars, which can be found and purchased affordably at any Ace hardware store.
Vinegar Sauce: Carolina Red
A perfect for marinade or table sauce for those who enjoy Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce.
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne or 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to dissolve the sugar. Serve at room temperature or chilled. The sauce keeps indefinitely.
Tomato-Based Sauce: Traditional Red
Perfect for beef, chicken, or vegetables, this sauce is thick and sweet with a hint of smoky flavor.
1 can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
8 oz Tabasco or similar sauce
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan. Heat on low for 10 minutes. Allow to cool. This sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about a month.
Mustard-Based Sauce: Carolina Red
A perfect gift for avid entertainers.
1 cup prepared mustard
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon powdered oregano
1/4 teaspoon powdered thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Combine dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add enough vinegar to make a mixable paste. Mix well. Place over high heat and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
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