Sunday, December 16, 2012

10 Handmade Gifts for Men for under $30

Handmade is good. But who says it has to be your hands?

It may sound like I'm just trying to get out of shopping (which on some level may be true) but I struggle to buy gifts at Christmas each year. I always end up feeling like a sell out. I can't stand the commerciality of Christmas (which is about as far from the spirit of the Holy Day as it could be) and I hate to feel that gifts are in anyway required, contrived, or obligated. I mean, it's a gift! It takes all the generosity out of it if you felt like you were forced to give it.

On the other hand, giving gifts is a love-language of mine. The more unique the better. I prefer greatly to spend $15 on a gift that is specialized and lovingly-selected than $100 on something they asked for. Yes, even if it's someone else's money. A handmade gift puts money back into the artisan marketplace, and it speaks to how you really feel about the recipient. I have had a lot of luck in the past finding unique and specialized gifts on As I surf the proverbial sea of etsy-handmade, in search of the perfect gift for my husband, I thought I could share a few of my best finds. No endorsement of the vendors intended - just good old fashioned shopping fun!

Here's my 10 favorite handmade gifts for men, all $30 or less.

$26.90 - Dark Blue Herringbone Tweed Wallet (7 pocket billfold)
My man loves a good wallet the way I love a good purse. Soon, our growing collections will need their own room in the house. Classic herringbone in navy.

$16.50 - Guitar Pick Case Keyring (hand-stitched leather) 
Guitarist are notorious for never having a pick when they need it. They're also known for chunky leather accessories. Perfect.

$15.00 - Grey Fingerless Mits/Arm Warmers 
Outfit those fists in the manliest of gloves. As Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have said, "When a man's wrists are encased, he need not triffle with the fingers." (Ok, I made that up)

$30.00 - Silkscreened Hops, Barley and Wheat Necktie (in Dove Gray on Black) 
Deck your neck with the trinity of beer-making grains. Artfully printed onto black, or many other colors.

$15.00 - Personalized Silver Tie Bar (hand-stamped to order) 
Maybe he already has too many ties, so outfit all that neck gear. I flippin' love tie bars. They make me think of my Grandfather, a personal icon of the greatest generation. I wonder if she'd engrave "Tie Master" on there for me...

$24.00 - "Write Drunk Edit Sober" Quotation Print (Original Illustration) 
This artist makes some of the best "man-friendly" art prints out there. Each one is a quote from a famous writer or historical figure, and there are some great ones for men. Feeling Romantic? He's got a great illustration with the quote, "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same." (Emily Bronte).

$18.00 - Upcycled Jack Daniels Torch 
I can think of at least 3 men that would probably hang this outside within 20 minutes of unwrapping. Enough said.

$15.00 - Art Deco Hunting/Pocket Knife (Laser Engraved)   
I just can't believe how great this product looks for the price. Art deco, a truly manly art style, in black metal and polished wood. Cut with lasers. And it's a knife. Can we say testosterone pleaser?

$22.00 - Gift Packaged Old Fashioned Shaving Set (Cup, Soap and Brush) 
If he hasn't yet experienced the difference of an old-fashioned shave, he hasn't lived. Classic shave soap and a beaver hair brush are a great start. This kit, barely more than 2 bits (anyone? anyone?), is a great value.

$24.00 - Wren Pint Glasses (Set of 2, screen-printed) 
This vendor offers several unique designs of charcoal sillouettes on pint glasses. Wrap them with a holiday craft beer, and expect the Christmas stress to wash away in front of your eyes. Luckily, there's a glass for you, too!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Duped Project 14/50: Dawn, Wizard of Kitchens

This is the size of Dawn I buy. Just kidding. Maybe.
I just recently wrote up this review of the guilt-factor on one of my favorite things: Dawn Dishwashing Fluid. It's all a part of my new motto: "Trying always to be socially and environmentally conscious, and making it at least halfway since 2010."

Dawn is fantastic. There's at least a couple dozen uses for it, and I intend to try them all. In the meantime, I thought I would repost the list from my other post on my other blog, so that you can find them on both sites. I believe that this qualifies as a dupe for a few reasons:

1. It's a big help in of reducing the number of cleaning products you need (use, buy, store). This multi-purpose wonder makes it possible to cut out several of the other bottles you need to make your house run. That cuts down on packaging, shipping, cost, and generally wasteful practices.

2. Dawn is so effective at cutting any kind of grease, you can use significantly less. It's also popular enough to be sold in bulk at your local grocery (in other words, you don't need to have a pricey annual membership to some builk-buying warehouse to cut down).

3. Even though this is a commercially-available product, you can avoid the dupe by getting the Original Blue Dawn (what I affectionately refer to as "True Blue"). All the other versions (different colors, scents, formulas) mess with something that doesn't need to be change. Introducing additional ingredients can mean introducing phthalates or other toxins, or could worsen the environment impact).

I usually don't repost to both blogs, but this will have to be an exception, since I think it falls right in the center of the imaginary venn diagram in my head. Enjoy this (somewhat hastily) assembled list of uses for True Blue Dawn.

Uses of DAWN Dishwashing Fluid: A quickly compiled list

NOTE: Original Blue Dawn. Not anything else - no other brand, scent, version. I'm pretty serious about this.

Sources: One Good Thing, Life Crafts & Whatever, Modern Day Moms

Freezer Packs
Partially fill a strong zip-type sandwich bag with Dawn dishwashing liquid, close and freeze. The liquid soap stays cold much longer and it can be re-frozen many times. It will conform to the place you need an ice pack.

Carpet Cleaner/Stain Remover for any Cloth
1 part Dawn with 2 parts Hydrogen Peroxide. Mix together and pour directly on the stain. Add light scrubbing.

Spot Treatment/Pretreat
For oil-based stains such as lipstick, grease, butter, motor oil, cooking oil, and some pen inks, simply apply some Dawn dishwashing liquid directly to the stain and scrub with a small brush or toothbrush until the oil is removed, and then launder as usual.

Flea Dip and Dog Shampoo
Use it to bathe the dogs. It kills fleas on contact and is much cheaper than expensive dog shampoos.

Bubble Solution
1/2 cup Dawn, 1/2 gallon warm water, 1 tbsp glycerin or White Karo syrup. Best. Bubbles. Ever.

Greasy Hair Disasters
If your kids get into the vaseline, or maybe (like me) you're doing a super-cradle cap treatment with mineral/baby oil, you'll want more than shampoo to cut through that mess. Use it just like shampoo and rinse well.

Clean Automotive Tools or Spills, or "Mechanic Hands."
After you have finished your automotive repair project, soak your dirty tools in Dawn before you put them away to remove all the oil and grime. Dawn also helps prevent rust from forming on the tools. Spill oil on the driveway or garage floor? Start with cheapo kitty litter to absorb, then finish up with a scrub of dawn and a stiff bristled brush. It's also the best cleaner for oily, greasy mechanic hands.

Soap Scum Remover
Heat up a cup of vinegar in the microwave to 1.5-2 minutes and add to a spray bottle with an equal amount of Dawn. Little to no scrubbing is needed.

Repel Ants
Spray counter-tops, cupboards and any other area where you see ants with a solution of Dawn and water. Wipe dry. The slight residue of Dawn that remains will not be a problem at all for kids or pets, but ants hate it. Should you see a trail of ants, go ahead and hit them with the Dawn spray.

Stripping Cloth Diapers**
Add a squirt or two of original Dawn dish soap to your washer and run a hot wash, then rinse until there are no more bubbles. Dawn is a degreasing agent and helps stripping by removing oily residue. Be sure to rinse, rinse, rinse until the water runs clear.

** New to cloth diapers? Here's my post on cloth diaper savings, and another about how we cloth diaper. You can also make your own detergent, which is super effective and safe on cloth diapers

Unclogging Toilets
A cup of Dawn detergent poured into a clogged toilet allowed to sit for 15 minutes and then followed with a bucket of hot water poured from waist height will clear out the toilet. Apparently, human waste is grease-based. Yikes.

Poison Ivy Treatment
Poison ivy spreads through the spread of the oil within the blisters. Washing the affected area with Dawn, especially on children who keep scratching the blister’s open, helps dry up the fluid, AND keep it from spreading.

Sidewalk De-Icer
When walkway is clean (right after you did all that crazy hard work) pour on a mix of 1 tsp of Dawn, 1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol, and 1/2 gallon hot water. They won’t refreeze.

Repel Pests from House Plants/Aphid Control on Fruit Trees
In a spray bottle, combine 2 tablespoons Dawn in a gallon of water. Try to get spray both sides of the leaves, branches and the tree trunks. In the case of fruit trees, let sit for about 15 minutes and then rinse the trees thoroughly.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Duped Project 13/50: The Best Deodorant Ever

Unlucky 13! I've been avoiding you. But now, I have the ultimate dupe to write up (plus weeks of trial to back up my claims). Take that! Kapow!

Nothing ruins a good day like smelly pits. Remember the SURE deodorant commercials where the rocker chick at the once-in-a-lifetime concert can't cheer for her favorite band because she has to keep her arms glued to her sides? Her day was ruined by pit stink. And I'm here to make a confession - I have had a day or two ruined by pit stink as well. I think we all have. Whether real or perceived, who among us is immune from feeling less than daisy-scented? Let down by the deo. After all, they're called pits, not floral valleys.

When I began looking into DIY toiletries, some of them were obviously good ideas: hand soap, moisurizers, etc. Spa fodder. But there's a few products you simply don't want to fail. To me, homemade deodorant sounded more crazy than I could handle. It's one thing to look like a tree-hugger. That's hip. But smell like one? No thanks! Yet, for YEARS I've been hearing bad things about aluminum and other nasties in store-bought deodorants, so when I came across this recipe on Homestead Revival (and I already had all the ingredients from some other DIY toiletries) I decided to give it a go.

Yowsers, I am so glad I did. I have always been picky about deodorant - only a couple would work for me at all. But this simple, cheap, super natural DIY deo takes the cake. I've been using it for a couple months now, and it remains the best performer out of anything I've ever used. I'm talking August-in-South-Texas-at-a-midday-football-game kind of good. Literally. That was actually a scenario in which this deodorant was tested. At the end of the day, my team one, and I smelled amazing. Win-win.

One note: This recipe, along with several others that I looked up, all pointed out that this is not an antiperspirant, but a deodorant. You will perspire, but you will not odor. What? Well you get it. At first that was on the con list for me, but in the end, my thought was: aren't I supposed to sweat? Isn't that a pretty healthy function? If it doesn't smell, who cares?

For the recipe, an awesome tip on storage, why you should probably throw away the stuff you've been using, and more pit(hy) banter, click to jump!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Agnes in Symmetry

This one is all mine, except moral support.

With edits (not so sure about the texture...)

Original sketch

Concept Art for Agnes (with J. Binkley)

More collaborations with J. Binkley ( on black and white "grunge sketches." Concept art for "Agnes."

Sunday, July 29, 2012