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Travel Made Easier

With the holiday season approaching, families will spend more and more time on the road as they visit family and friends. To keep the kids (and adults, too) occupied without hours upon hours of screen time, we’ve come up with a simple, fun way to create a travel tic-tac-toe game.

Here’s how you make it:

Items Needed:

4” x 6” Celestial Gifts cotton muslin drawstring bag

20 small, flat pebbles (preferably uncoated, because you’ll be writing on them)

1 black permanent marker

1 white (or other color) permanent marker

Draw a tic-tac-toe shape over the cotton muslin drawstring bag (3 down and 3 across). Draw an X on 10 pebbles and an O on the other 10 pebbles. You’ll only need a few of the pebbles for the actual game, but it’s best to be prepared with extras in case a few go missing.

Store your pebbles in the cotton muslin drawstring bag when the game is not in play and use the bag for your board while traveling!

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Reusable Muslin Bags are Sustainable

Sustainability and environmental consciousness has become a trademark in our modern lives. From the plastic bags offered at grocery stores to the water bottles we drink from, our future points toward sustainability rather than single use items. In recent years, the anti-plastic bag movement has gone full-force, and from coworkers to grocery stores, you can see people replacing their plastic snack bags and grocery bags with cloth alternatives. Celestial Gifts reusable muslin bags are economic, sustainable, efficient, and reusable, capturing the essence of the reusable lifestyle.

Large families know the strain of buying the $5 box of plastic sandwich bags every 2 weeks. We understand the importance of making that dollar stretch… and for the price of 6 months’ worth of plastic bags, families can easily buy 100 reusable 6×8 natural* cotton drawstring bags for the same price. Essentially, by replacing your plastic sandwich bags with cotton bags, you’d save an average of $100 a year. While that may seem like small savings, think about the other areas in your life where you could replace disposable, non-sustainable items with reusable bags. Even with slightly wet foods like produce or cheeses, cloth bags remain a utility.

In an earlier blog post, we showed how pioneers have been waterproofing their cottons bags for centuries by simply coating them in natural* beeswax. Once proofed, the bag can be used to store veggies and leftover ingredients that typically release moisture. It holds up to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and doesn’t carry grease released by potato chips. The bags can be easily cleaned by just rinsing them in cool, soapy water. Whether you’re looking for sustainable goods or economic alternatives, Celestial Gifts offers a variety of natural muslin bags for all of your storage needs.

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The Brief History of Halloween

The history of Halloween goes deeper than tricks, treats, and Celestial Gifts holiday themed bags. Thought to have originated from the Celtic festival of Samhain, the Celtic’s believed that on October 31st the barriers between the physical and spiritual worlds would fade, allowing ghosts, demons, and the undead to re-inhabit our world. During this night, the priests and druids of the Celtic communities were believed to receive fortune telling powers that could predict the future, offering comfort and direction for the dark, cold winter ahead. But while fortunes were being told, spirits would run amok, playing tricks on humanity and ruining crops.

These Celtic traditions were later adapted to early Christianity’s All Saints Day in 1,000 A.D., where the poor would visit the homes of the wealthy to receive “soul cakes.” In exchange, the poor would provide the homeowner with a promise to pray for the souls of their dead relatives. Later in Scotland and Ireland, this practice was named “guising,” and children would visit the homes of the wealthy dressed in costume and perform a trick, sing, or recite a poem in exchange for a “treat.”

More recently, Irish and Scottish immigrants fleeing the 1840s potato famine helped to popularize Halloween by reestablishing these traditions in the U.S. Candy wouldn’t become a commonplace to the holiday until the end of the Great Depression, once sugar rationing was ended, allowing candy companies to capitalize on the holiday, making room for the trick-or-treat bags, and candy-filled satchels that we know of today.

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Shock the Block with Spooky Halloween Bags

Trickers and treaters and all the in-betweeners – we’ve got Halloween bags custom stamped for this coming Halloween! Give out spooky “bags of bones” by filling a Celestial Gifts’ natural muslin bag with meringues, marshmallows, or white chocolate-covered pretzels. Customize them even further by decorating the marshmallows with skeletal faces using edible ink or black icing. For Halloween party planners, our bags add the perfect touch to your event where the typical plastic bag appears all too common. And since our bags are reusable, your guests can use the bags again after.

Celestial Gifts’ bags are completely customizable, so DIYer’s can rejoice in creating an array of spooky décor out of them. Paint ghastly faces on a variety of Celestial Gifts’ bags with glow-in-the-dark paint and hang them from a tree in your yard to create a tree of haunted spirits. Whichever way you decide to get into the holiday spirit, Celestial Gifts has the bags to make your Halloween truly spooktacular.

You’ll Need:

  • Celestial Gifts 6×8 Bags Black Hem and Black Drawstring Bags (or any variety and size you’d like)
  • Glow-in-the-dark fabric paint
  • White rice (enough to fill the bag of your choosing)

Directions: 

Using our Celestial Gifts’ bags, paint spooky faces using glow-in-the-d ark paint onto the outside face of the bag. Let dry for an hour. Once dried, fill the bag with enough white rice to expand the bag and add weight. Hang from a tree outside your house and wait for nightfall!

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Beat the Burr With DIY Hand Warmers

The mornings are getting colder, the evenings are getting darker, and the leaves have begun to turn. It’s official: fall is here. While we love all that fall brings, it can surely get cold at times. Depending on where you live, you might have even skipped over fall and are expecting snow! Regardless, the cool mornings and oncoming cold nights means that you’ll want to dress warm, or be warm, with these nifty little rice-filled DIY hand warmers.

It’s super easy and only requires 3 materials to make, including Celestial Gifts’ bags. We recommend using smaller, 3.25×5 natural muslin bags for this project because they’re the perfect size for gripping. After you’ve made it, just microwave the hand warmers for 30-40 seconds and it’ll stay warm for up to 20 minutes! You could probably make a few of these and put them in an insulated container to swap out with at outdoor sporting events, too. Find the directions for making these reusable and economic hand warmers below!

 

DIY Rice-Filled Hand Warmers

Materials

  • White rice (about ¾ cup per 3.25×5 bag)
  • Celestial Gift’s bags of your choosing (we recommend 3.25×5 natural muslin bags)
  • Essential oil of your choosing
  • Microwave… (for warming purposes)

Directions

  1. Measure ¾ cup of white rice.
  2. Pour into Celestial Gifts’ bag until full.
  3. Place a few drops of your favorite essential oil in the bag.
  4. Tie the drawstrings in a tight knot!
  5. Rub around your hands so that the oil coats all the inside rice.
  6. Heat in the microwave for 30-40 second. It’s ready to use!

 

Notes

  • If your hand warmer has lost its smell, either open the bag and place a few more drops, or place directly onto the hand warmer.
  • These are perfect for people that don’t know how to sew and don’t want to go through the hassle of pins, needles, and a sewing machine!
  • Freeze these and they become ice packs.
  • This can only be done with Celestial Gifts’ 100% natural muslin cotton! Polyester anything will burn in the microwave. Don’t make that mistake!
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DIY Beeswax Cotton Bags

Most people that use plastic bags would hardly realize that they’re a fairly recent innovation. Dating back to the Pioneers, and even further back to the Ancient Egyptians, people have used cotton bags to store food for centuries. Now, with sustainability in the spotlight, some people have restored the craft of using cotton bags over plastic.

The benefits are obvious. Aside from the environmental and potential health benefits of using natural cotton bags over petroleum-made plastic, cotton bags are completely reusable (meaning you save money). Plastic bags can be expensive, and if you use them regularly to pack lunches or store leftovers, that can add up. For an economical, sustainable, and functional choice, Celestial Gifts’ natural muslin bags provide a variety of sizes that can be used to store sandwiches, dry foods, snacks…. or even produce and leftovers.

One of the best and easiest ways to innovate our bags for additional purposes is to seal them with beeswax. A natural protectant, when beeswax is melted and applied to cotton it creates a sealing, plastic-wrap like quality. As the wax absorbs into the cotton fibers, the bag becomes less “breathable,” making it perfect for storing non-dry foods… especially since beeswax is antibacterial.  Even better, you can decorate our bags before sealing them to make beautiful, economic, and sustainable storage bags that can be used time and time again.

 

DIY Beeswax Cotton Bags

 

Materials

  • beeswax, grated (or pellets).  About 0.5 oz. of beeswax per wrap
  • Celestial Gifts’ bags of your choosing
  • old cookie sheet (used exclusively for beeswax)
  • paintbrush (used exclusively for beeswax)
  • chop stick for stirring the wax as it melts
  • cheese grater (used exclusively for beeswax)
  • a make-shift clothesline and clothes pins
  • oven

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 185F (any higher will burn the wax).
  2. Place Celestial Gifts’ bags on cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle evenly and lightly with grated beeswax. You don’t need a lot!
  4. Place in preheated oven.  Watch carefully!  This should take 5 minutes or less.
  5. As soon as the beeswax is melted, remove from oven.
  6. Spread wax evenly with paintbrush to cover any spots that are not yet coated (including drawstrings).
  7. Hang on makeshift clothes line with clothes pins to dry.
  8. Once cooled, flip over and repeat the process for the other side of the bag. Make sure to brush both sides after, as the wax will have melted again. Once cooled, you can use!

 

Notes

  • If your wax starts to harden before you have evenly spread it, simply reheat it.
  • This recipe uses less than 1 oz. of beeswax per bag.
  • If you have a lot of wax left on the cookie sheet, place another bag on empty cookie sheet and it will absorb the extra wax.
  • Wash in cool water with a mild soap.
  • Each wrap will last several months or more depending on usage.
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Call in Fall with Mulled Cider Spice Bags

Fresh fall apples are in, and if you’re like us, you’re looking to cuddle up this autumn with a nice, warm glass of spiced cider. What’s great about this recipe is you need just a few ingredients while other cider recipes call for all kinds of crazy jazz. Of course, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment! While we use cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and star anise, you could easily add orange zest, ginger, black pepper kernels, a vanilla pod, or allspice to make the recipe your own. The only problem is that with more spices come more unpleasant bits in your cider (which can be frustrating to get out).

That’s where our bags come into play. Celestial Gifts’ natural muslin bags make perfect spice bags for brewing or cooking. This really comes in handy for easily removing small clove and black pepper pieces from your cider. As well, it allows you to step away from your cider rather than having to constantly stir to insure that all the spices don’t clump. Our bags aren’t limited to cider, though. You can reuse our natural muslin bags to create spice bags for stews and teas as well!

Regardless of how you cider this fall, we’re sure you’ll love this easy, warm recipe. Enjoy!

 

Spiced Apple Cider

Serves 2

 

2 cups Apple Cider

1 Cinnamon Stick

1 Anise Pod

¼ tsp. Whole Cloves

1 Nutmeg Pod

 

Heat up the cider, cinnamon stick, anise pod, nutmeg, and cloves in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cider to mull until desired. Remove from the stove and garnish with orange slices.

Optional:  Mix the ingredients together in a container and cover. Let sit overnight and heat the next day for a spicier cider.

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Scrub-a-Dub-Dub, Toss a Bag in the Tub!

Sylvia Plath once wrote “There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.” We have to agree; nothing is as relaxing after a long day than a hot bath, except maybe a hot bath with a fragrant salt or scrub to leave your skin soft and refreshed.

Salt baths have many health benefits, as well, including stress relief, reducing muscle aches, and improving circulation. They are especially helpful if you are suffering from respiratory illness, acne, joint pain, or eczema, and they can help relieve discomfort from poison ivy or poison sumac rashes.

Our muslin bags are perfect for holding homemade bath salts to help wash away the stress of the day. If you’ve never made your own bath additives, take a look at some great homemade scrubs and salts below. Simply fill one of our bags and toss into the tub for an aromatic soak with no irritating salt crystals. Best of all, these will dissolve in the water so you can refill and use the bag again. . . for tomorrow’s post-work soak!

Lavender Mint Bath Salt

  • 2 cups epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sea salt
  • 30 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Fill any of our natural cotton drawstring bags with the mixture and toss under running bath water. Store remaining mixture in an airtight container.

Healing Detox Soak

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup epsom salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

Mix ingredients together in a natural drawstring bag and toss under running water. This ginger soak will prompt your body to sweat profusely for about an hour post-bath, so be sure to drink plenty of water and wear lightweight clothing afterwards. Also, you’ll smell delightfully, but quite strongly, of ginger. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to allergies, test this mixture on a small area of skin before diving into the bathtub.

Congestion Relief

  • 1 cup epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • 15 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Mix all ingredients into a thick paste and fill bag. Place in hot bath water and soak for at least 20 minutes.  Store any remaining mixture in an airtight container.

Vanilla Coconut Exfoliating Scrub

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients into a thick paste and fill bag. In shower or bath, squeeze bag until mixture seeps through, then rub gently across your body to exfoliate and rejuvenate your skin.
These recipes will keep your skin soft and radiant while you soak away the day’s stresses. Have you tried your own homemade bath salt or scrub? Leave your recipe in the comments!

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Ring in Spring with our Lavender Toss Bags

April showers have arrived across the nation, the trees are blooming and the sun is shining – spring has definitely sprung, and that means June weddings are quickly approaching! Wedding season is one of our favorite times of the year, and it’s prime time for one of our favorite products: our lavender-filled stamped bags.

Throw Me
Throw Me

If you’re a bride planning a wedding, you already have enough to worry about: catering, photographer, cake, dresses, making sure the DJ understand that The Chicken Dance is absolutely off-limits. The last thing you need is to stay up until the wee hours of the morning before your big day stuffing rice or bird seed into tiny, forgettable Ziplock bags for your guests to throw during your recessional. Besides, rice has become taboo and bird seed often contains dust and dirt that you don’t want to wear on your dress or in your hair for the duration of your reception.

That’s where we come in! Lavender is a great alternative to rice or seed because it is earth- and animal-friendly, won’t ruin your dress, and it looks and smells sublime. As an added bonus, these bags arrive ready-to-use, already filled and stamped with your choice of stock graphics or custom imprints. Your guests will remember the scent lingering in the air for years to come, and can use the bag as a sachet or keepsake after the festivities.

Best of all, these bags aren’t just for wedding favors. We can custom-stamp and lavender-fill these natural cotton bags for bridal or baby showers, birthdays, graduations, and many more occasions. The possibilities are limitless with this all-purpose product. With a two-week turnaround time for custom-stamped bags, there’s still time to order these for your summer wedding, graduation, or other celebrations; contact us today to get started!

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From Genius to Delicious: The Many Ways to Use Our Bags

Our bags can be used in many ways, and among our most versatile products is our 4×6 natural bag. Read on to discover our favorite uses for this bag, including a delicious corned beef recipe just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Protect Ripening Vegetables

Birds, deer, and rabbits can wreak havoc on your garden in the coming summer months. Slip a 4×6 natural muslin bag over your tomatoes, cucumbers, and other garden produce and secure the drawstring around the vine to keep scavengers from making a meal of your hard work while they ripen on the vine.

Bath Scrubs and Salts

We love a relaxing soak in aromatic bath salts as much as anyone, but salt crystals can be scratchy and irritating to the skin. Fill a natural bag with salts and toss in your bath water for all of the aroma and relaxation without any of the irritation.

Loose Leaf Teas and Ground Coffee

Disposable tea bags are not only less fresh and tasty than loose leaf teas, they’re also not entirely biodegradable. Fill a reusable natural bag with your favorite blend of loose leaf tea or freshly-ground coffee for an individual cup of fresh, delicious tea or coffee made perfectly to your liking.

Spice Bags for Soups and Stews

We’ve all been there: enjoying a delicious bowl of jambalaya when suddenly, you’re trying to gracefully spit out a bay leaf or peppercorn without betraying your manners. Our 4×6 bags can be used to hold your own blend of spices and seasonings while cooking any manner of meals, so you keep the full flavor of the meal without the mess and embarrassment of picking spices out of your teeth.

For a particularly-timely practical use of this bag, try the corned beef recipe below for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Spicy horseradish cream and malty Guinness mustard amp up the flavor of this home-corned beef.

Ingredients

Brine

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups lager beer
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Insta Cure no. 1* (optional)
  • 1/4 cup pickling spices
  • 1 6- to 8-pound flat-cut beef brisket, trimmed, with some fat remaining

Corned Beef And Vegetables

  • 1 12-ounce bottle Guinness stout or other stout or porter
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 whole allspice
  • 1 dried chile de árbol, broken in half
  • 12 baby turnips, trimmed, or 3 medium turnips or rutabagas, peeled, quartered
  • 8 unpeeled medium white-skinned or red-skinned potatoes (about 3 pounds)
  • 6 medium carrots, peeled
  • 4 medium onions, peeled, halved through root ends
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 2-pound head of cabbage, quartered
  • Horseradish Cream
  • Guinness Mustard

Preparation

For Brine

Pour 6 cups water and beer into large deep roasting pan. Add coarse salt; stir until dissolved. Add sugar; stir until dissolved. If desired, stir in Insta Cure No. 1. Mix in pickling spices. Pierce brisket all over with tip of small sharp knife. Submerge brisket in liquid, then top with heavy platter to weigh down. Cover and refrigerate 4 days.

Remove brisket from brine. Stir liquid to blend. Return brisket to brine; top with heavy platter. Cover; refrigerate 4 days. Remove brisket from brine. Rinse with cold running water. Can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap corned beef in plastic, cover with foil, and refrigerate.

For Corned Beef And Vegetables

Place corned beef in very large wide pot. Add stout and enough water to cover by 1 inch. Fill a 4×6 natural bag with bay leaves, coriander seeds, allspice, and chile, enclosing completely. Add spice bag to pot with beef; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 1/4 hours. Transfer beef to large baking sheet.

Add turnips and all remaining vegetables to liquid in pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and boil gently until all vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to baking sheet with beef. Return beef to pot and rewarm 5 minutes. Discard or empty spice bag.

Cut beef against grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange beef and vegetables on platter. Serve with Horseradish Cream and Guinness Mustard. Serves 6-8.