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Pastimes: Handmade gifts for Valentine's Day



Jennifer Wutz-Lopes

In my opinion, February, not April, is the cruelest month. You’re still paying off the bills from the holidays and when you look outside, all you see is gray. On the other hand, there is Valentine’s Day, which is lovely if you’ve got someone to love. If not, well, you can make a gift for a friend, your neighbor, or someone you’ve got the hots for. You never know—things could turn around.

 

Action figure bowl

This bowl would make a cool gift for a gentleman friend to use as a catchall for mail, keys, or trinkets that get collected during the day. Kids would like it too—but keep in mind that this is not recommended for food.

 

Supplies needed:  
About a hundred plastic toy figures, depending on the size of the bowl. I got three bags of fifty men at a dollar store.
A glass bowl—a shallow one works best
An oven

 

Instructions:
Preheat your oven to 350°. Arrange a layer of the figures on the bottom and up the sides of the bowl. Arrange them carefully to cover as much of the bowl as you can, and gently place the bowl in the oven. Open your windows, because the melting plastic gives off an unpleasant (and slightly toxic) scent.

After twenty minutes, pull the bowl out of the oven and check to see that your men are melting into each other in a good pattern. Arrange another layer of guys around the sides and bottom where you see spaces. Stick the bowl back in the oven for about twenty more minutes.

At this point, you may want to stop. I actually did three layers of guys, which was nice because the first layer was almost completely melted and the men were just blobs of plastic. The second layer still had some form and the third layer brought everything together nicely.

Remove the bowl from the oven and stick it in a cool place for about an hour or two to let things set. Your new plastic bowl will start to pull away from the glass bowl and you’ll be able to remove it easily.

 

Peppermint sugar scrub

This homemade scrub is perfect for moisturizing and sloughing away all that lizard skin you may have accumulated over the past few colder months. Mix some up  for yourself and maybe a friend or two.

 

Supplies needed (makes about one cup of scrub):
One cup white sugar
1 cup olive oil or another oil that isn’t scented
3 or 4 drops of peppermint essential oil (available in certain food stores or at your local craft store)

 

Instructions:
Combine ingredients and mix well. I know it sounds simple, but all you have to do now is package it in a cute jar and slap a label or a ribbon on it. I used one drop of red food coloring to give some of my scrub a pink tint, which makes it perfect for a Valentine’s Day gift.

 

Moustache coffee mug

The fad of putting moustaches on everything might be a little old, but I still think it’s hilarious. I have a cool ring in the “gunslinger” ’stache style, and I wanted to make a hipster mug with a nifty mouth merkin.

 

Supplies needed:
Coffee mug (once again, mine is from a dollar store)
Sharpie pens—one thick point, one fine point.
An oven

 

Instructions:
First, decide which kind of moustache you want on your mug. You can find numerous styles on the Internet, or by watching old cartoons. Carefully sketch the moustache on the mug (you can draw it on both sides for easy display for both lefties and righties) and fill it in with the thicker Sharpie. If you make a mistake, wipe the ink off with an alcohol pad and start again. Once you’ve got a ’stache you are satisfied with, you need to oven-cure the mug. Place the mug into a cold oven, turn the heat on to 350° and leave for one hour. After an hour, turn off the oven, and let it cool down. Remove the mug.

 

Infused vodka for that special someone. Photo by Jennifer Wutz-Lopes.

 

Red-hot infused cinnamon vodka

Oh, vodka. I love you, almost as much as I love red wine. This is a simple DIY drink, and it tastes delicious. It’s tasty splashed into ginger ale but it’s also great plain, on the rocks.

 

Supplies needed:
Vodka
Red-hot cinnamon candies

 

Instructions:
I used Absolut because that’s what I had in the house, but any brand will work. Decant the vodka into a pretty bottle and pour in about eight ounces of the red-hot cinnamons. Place in the fridge for two days, shaking occasionally. Once the candies are completely dissolved, paste on a label, tie on a ribbon, and you’re ready for gifting.

 

Here’s some final advice for February—take care of yourself, eat healthfully, and drink plenty of water. Snuggle with your loved ones, and amuse yourself with DIY craft projects. Take your antidepressants, watch bad TV, and give yourself a break.             

 

 

Follow Jen Wutz-Lopes on Twitter @Jen14221.

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