Monday, March 28, 2011

heavenly clouds of sugar...the marshmallow (recipe)

Once you've had homemade marshmallows, you won't want to eat storebought ones again.  In my winter swap, I received a bag of these heavenly puffs and this rekindled my interest in marshmallows (which have 0 grams of fat!).  The ingredient list is below.  Click here for the full recipe.  Once you have a couple of batches under your belt, you can use different extracts like almond, orange, lemon, etc and even use a few drops of food coloring for added appeal.  (orange food coloring for orange, yellow for lemon, pink for strawberry, green for pistachio or lime, etc).


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract (the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon but others who made it recommended 3)
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray
Tips and Tricks
  • It is VERY sticky, and you won't be able to scrape the bowl completely clean, but just soak it in water and it comes off very easy. I spread out a piece of newspaper over the counter where I coated my pan in powder to catch the excess that falls out and make cleanup easier.
  • The biggest trick to these seemed to be greasing the spatula, coating the pan VERY well with powder, and using a oiled and powdered pizza cutter to cut them (this was much easier than a regular knife. If you get the pan well covered with powder, the giant marshmallow flopped right out and excess powder just fell off the marshmallow.
  • Also, I used crushed up graham crackers instead of powdered sugar/cornstarch and they were AWESOME! Dipped it in some chocolate and it was like a s'more! I love that there are so many ways to experiment with this simple recipe.
  • These will last 3 weeks in an airtight container - chances are they will be gone before then!!
For comparison, I also found this recipe from the FRENCH LAUNDRY!  They are pretty similar except the recipe above has cornstarch. 

Make your own marshmallows with this recipe from gourmet restaurant, The French Laundry. Keep an eye on the mixer while beating because the marshmallow mixture tends to "walk" up the beaters to the motor. Scrape down frequently.

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • 3 envelopes of unflavored Knox gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Confectioners' sugar for dredging


In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Soak for 10 minutes.

Combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil hard for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed. Add the salt and beat for 12 minutes. Add vanilla and incorporate into mixture. Scrape into a 9 x 9-inch pan lined with oiled plastic wrap and spread evenly. (Note: Lightly oil hands and spatula or bowl scraper). After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of plastic wrap and press mixture into the pan.

Let mixture sit for a few hours. Remove from pan, dredge the marshmallow slab with confectioners' sugar and cut into 12 equal pieces with scissors (the best tool for the job) or a chef's knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar.

Yield: 12 large marshmallows

Recipe Source: French Laundry Cookbook by Thomas Keller (Artisan)
Reprinted with permission.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Bloom water color Note Cards

My mother in law sent me this series of wonderful spring bloom flowers.  She's a professional artist who uses watercolors to bring landscapes and buildings to life.  She sketches and paints on location and some of her most popular works involvescenes in England, Italy, France as well as the Hotel Del in Coronado/San Diego.  I was lucky enough to receive a series of spring bloom watercolor cards.  The watercolors are attached to luxurious papers - some made from hemp, others from sugar cane, recycled fibers, and recycled paper.  I will be sending notes in style!  Will you be a lucky recipient?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Neutralize Pet Odors Naturally!

Why not share your essential oils with Fido or your feline friend?   Try this natural and aromatic spray to help keep pet odors at bay.

Dropper bottles
Essential oils
1-oz spray bottle

Fill a 1-oz spray bottle with water (almost to the top but not quite - leave some room for 26 drops). Use your dropper bottles to pipette the essential oils listed below into the spray bottle.  Shake very vigorously several times before each use. Spray directly onto your dog, holding the bottle about 10 inches from him. Avoid spraying on the head and eyes.
* 10 drops Lavender
* 10 drops Geranium
* 6 drops Lemon

I recommend making this in small batches since it doesn't have a preservative. Note that lavender and lemon have anti-bacterial properties!

From Aromatherapy for Animals, Part 1: Healing Blends for Dogs by Fran├žoise Rapp

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Orange Loofah Soap

Still on the scrubby theme but at least combining it with soap. The original recipe can be found from Wholesales Supplies Plus.  I made a few modifications, particularly in the fragrance department by choosing to use orange and vanilla essential oils, and the soap bases.  The WSP soap bases carry SLS and I prefer to use soap bases which are real soap with non-artificial ingredients and no detergent.

Project Level: Beginner
Estimated Time: 1 Hour
Yields: Approx. (12) 5 oz Bars of Soap

photo from Wholesales Supplies Plus
  • 1 Pound(s) Goat Milk Soap Base or other white soap base
  • 2 Pound(s) Clear Soap base

  • 1 Ounce(s) Orange Essential Oil
  • 1 Ounce(s) Vanilla Essential Oil or Ylang Ylang Essential Oil 
• A few drops of orange non-bleeding soap safe colorant
  • 12 Piece(s) Plastic Wrap For Packaging
  • 12 Piece(s) Loofah Slices - 7/8" Slices.  You can purchase loofah from the dollar store and then cut them to size to fit your mold.

  • Round Silicone Mold
  • Droppers - Plastic
  • Gloves
  • Crockpot or microwave

  • Pyrex or Microwave Safe Cup (16 - 32 oz)
  • Rubbing Alcohol with Fine Mist Sprayer
  • Soap Slicer/Cutter
  • Spoon


  • Using a soap slicer, cut clear soap into 1-2 inch pieces. The soap slicer is dull and perfect for this project. Do not use a knife as it is very sharp and the soap is slippery. The knife could slip causing injury.

  • Place 8 oz of white soap base in a microwave safe glass container and heat for 30 seconds. Stir well. Repeat until soap is completely melted.

  • Pour 1/4" of white soap into each mold cavity. Allow to cool until firm. Once goatmilk soap is firm, spritz with rubbing alcohol. Set loofah on top of white soap.

  • Using a microwave safe glass container, place clear soap in a microwave and heat for 30 seconds. Stir well. Repeat until soap is completely melted.

  • Add fragrance and color.  Stir until fully incorporated. 

  • Immediately pour the orange soap over the loofah until the cavity is full.

  • Allow to return to room temperature and remove from mold.

  • Wrap in inexpensive plastic wrap. Pull tightly for extra clarity and to remove plastic wrap ripples.

  • If you are sellling your soap, don't forget to label the soap to complete the package. Label according to FDA cosmetic label guidelines.
  • Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Sugar Scrub Cubes

    Solid sugar scrub cubes look like little cubes of sugar but they are healthier for you (for your skin actualy!).  Who would have thought that sugar can be healthy?!  These cubes are single-use body scrubs that combine cleansing and exfoliation in one easy step.  To use them, bring one cube into the shower, mash it up in your hand, combine with water, and voila!  cleanse and exfoliate to your heart's content.

    I made this batch in a plastic ziploc container, and used my wavy cutter to cut it. I wanted to take pictures to chronicle this but I didn't think about it until after the fact.  But you can find a step-by-step tutorial on solid scrub cubes from Erin Pikor and featured by Anne Marie from SoapQueen by clicking here.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Upcycle your old ties!

    What do you do with your ties that are too narrow, too wide, or just plain worn out?  They can find a new life as a wallet!  My friend Alton bought his at Old Navy a few years studying its construction, we determined that it can be easily made, and it's quite stylish for business cards, bart tickets, receipts, fast passes, and gift cards!

    Materials Needed
    cardboard (you can get the thin kind from the back of a notepad for extra recycling points!)
    sewing machine and/or glue gun or double sided tape

    1. Cut the cardboard to size.  You'll want it to be big enough to hold credit cards, and also add a little extra room so you will be able to make pockets.  You may also want to cut the pockets out at the same time and make sure it will all fit together.
    2. wrap the cardboard with your fabric.  You can hold the fabric in place with double sided tape or a glue gun.  Or you can just wrap tightly and rely on your sewing machine to hold these two items together.  this is the base piece.
    3. Wrap fabric around the cardboard, secure in place and sew together!

    Try it out and let us know how it goes!  I'll post pictures once I get this going.
    3. Cut out pockets and

    Front Side

    Back side

    Sunday, March 20, 2011

    creamy rice and coconut scrub

    I'm in a scrubby mood.  Lots of posts on scrubs lately (and projects too!).  I came across this recipe from the natural beauty workshop  and really loved its ingredients - particularly the aloe vera gel, rice powder and coconut milk powders.   These items can be purchased from: From Nature with Love.  I have a gift certificate so I just may get some rice powder.  Believe it or not, I have all the other ingredients at home!

    Creamy Rice & Coconut Scrub

    Photo from the Natural Beauty Workshop


    This creamy cleanser looks soft, but it packs a serious punch.  This recipe can be used as an occasional exfoliating facial scrub, but it would be too harsh to use daily.  As a body scrub, this cleanser can be used to provide a thorough dermabrasion more regularly.  Creamy Coconut Milk, soothing Aloe Vera Gel, and scrubby Rice Powder make up the bulk of this recipe.  It is topped off by cleansing White Kaolin Clay, and gentle Jojoba Wax Beads.  The scrub has a loose, liquid texture, and smells faintly of fresh Aloe and Coconut Milk.

    Creamy Rice & Coconut Scrub
    Makes 4 ounces (by volume)
    • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel 
    • 1/4 cup Rice Powder, Fine
    • 1/8 cup Coconut Milk Powder
    • 1/ 8 cup White Kaolin Clay
    • 1/8 cup Cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon Jojoba Wax Beads, Brown
    • 1 teaspoon Jojoba Wax Beads, White
    • 10 drops Grapefruit Seed Extract
    Sift the following ingredients through a mesh strainer or flour sifter into a small mixing bowl: Rice Powder, Coconut Milk Powder, White Kaolin Clay, and Cornstarch.  Mix the dry ingredients well, then add the Aloe Vera Gel and stir vigourously to combine.  Continue stirring the mixture until it becomes smooth, then mix in the Jojoba Wax Beads and the Grapefruit Seed Extract.

    Usage & Packaging
    This scrub fits nicely in two 2 ounce PET Jars with White Lids.  To use, massage the scrub very gently onto the skin in a circular motion.  Follow with a toner and moisturizer of your choice.

    How do you like your scrubs?  Soft & gentle, or strong and abrasive?

    This recipe does not have a preservative so the shelf life is 3 weeks in the fridge.  Use a clean spoon or utensil to scoop out single portions of scrub, and avoid handling it directly or leaving the jar open.What I would probably do is make a batch for a girls's spa party or movie night and we could all use it as we hang out.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Desert Snow

    I got some feedback that the snowboy from last week looked like it could have been taken anywhere, and definitely not Arizona!  For those naysayers, here are a few pictures of snow-covered cacti!  This isn't really crafty, but I am responding to some feedback I received, and sharing some more trip pix!

    Yes, it snowed in the desert!

    One of my favorite trip pictures - love the snow on the branches

    Friday, March 18, 2011

    Mystery Knit Project - Part Deux

    Ok, more progress on mystery knit...any guesses on what this is?
    I am about 45-50% done here, and may post another two pictures before the finished project...I am making good headway though!  Now, I am getting to the point where it is too bulky to work on the BART train and I have to do this at home. 

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Happy St Patty's Day - Green Beer soap tutorial

    Here's a creative St. Patty's Day project - Green beer soap!  Two ounces of Coors light beer is used in this project, and it's scented with a honey ale fragrance.  Soap takes about 4 to 6 weeks to cure so for next year, I would start this project in early to mid Feb for it to be ready in time for St. Pat's day.  This recipe is from Anne-Marie, the Soap Queen, and all items can be purchased at Brambleberry with the click of a button.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011


    I made three different types of scrubs over the weekend - pictured left to right
    (L) = Whipped sugar soap.  it's both a soap and an exfolliant.  Very creamy, dreamy and light.  It's made from a base, and then customized with lemongrass and ginger essential oils!
    Center = Tropical Papaya foot scrub. This is an extreme exfoliating foot scrub using two different types of sugar, papaya powder.  (papayas contain a natural exfoliating enzyme), as well as oils, butters and an emulsifier to hold it all together.  What a great way to pamper your feet.  The little pot on top of the foot scrub jar is...LIP SCRUB!  Lip scrub is a gentle exfoliant to slough off the dead skin cells on your lips, amking them super soft and kissable!  This is scented with passionfruit vanilla, and a little goes a long way
    (R) = Whipped sugar scrub.  This one is made from scratch using organic shea butter and sugar.  It's moisturizing and exfoliating at the same time.  Colored with annato seeds for a natural orange color and scented with blood orange, cederwood and ylang ylang essential oil blend. 

    I've been cranking out more scrubs than i know what to do with so if you receive scrubs from me instead of soap, don't be surprised!

    Saturday, March 12, 2011

    Let it Snow! (in the desert)

    I've been so slammed at work that I haven't posted for the last few days.  I'm getting back on track with some new projects to post.  In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a snow picture - Believe it or not, I was in Arizona from Feb 20-28 (and didn't miss a blogpost beat!)  It snowed on Sunday, Feb 27!  In the desert!!  Here's a picture - what does it have to do with crafts?  My friend David made a snow-boy!  It's a snow-boy because it's a short snow man.  And it's an organic one - organic Blueberries were used for eyes, and mouth, and the nose was an organic carrot. The arms are made from twigs.   I'm a little excited about this because it was my first time in a real desert with super tall cacti the size of trees, and a snowfall!

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Mystery knit project - can you guess what this is?

    Mystery Project
    Ok, so I am trying out a new pattern.  I started last Tuesday and this is a pretty good pace for me - I'm about 30% done.   i learned a new technique - which was casting on stitches in the middle of the project to increase it's size.  Let me know what you think this is.  i will post another update next week and hopefully the finished product soon! 

    Hint: it's not a hat!

    Monday, March 7, 2011

    Cleaning is Fun Again!

    I participated in a home cleaning product swap and my swap box arrived this week!  I can't wait to try these goodies.  When you make your own cleaning products, it's always nice to try someone else's as it gives you ideas for future formulations (or lets you know what to avoid).  Best of all, everything was scented with essential oils, which not only smell great but many have antiseptic or antibacterial properties.   In this swap, I received a toilet bowl cleaner, citrus fresh dishwasher detergent, scouring powder, glass cleaning concentrate, carpet powder, air freshener, four thieves spray, stain stick, lavender dryer sachets, and laundry soap.  I now have enough natural cleaning products to cover from sinks, dishes, laundry, air, carpets, windows, tubs, etc.for a while!  My swap contribution was the air spray!
    Home Cleaning Product Swap 2011

    Sunday, March 6, 2011

    Place your heart on a card

    Our dear friend Kelly made us this card.  I like how she uses two thumb prints to form a heart - very creative!  She is an artist after all, who makes amazing original oil paintings  Check out her website and let me know what you think.  I really like her artist statement, and her portraits are very colorful, vibrant, and full of life - you can understand the emotion being conveyed without any words.  She is represented by Timmons art galleries and you can view more examples of her fine work there.

    I may make a few cards like this, and also think it would be fun craft project with the kids.

    Saturday, March 5, 2011

    Ending hat week on a blue note!

    Here's a powder blue hat that I worked on during knit night.  It's soft and fuzzy and one of my favorite patterns, even though the yarn is a little hard to work with.  When I first learned to knit about a year and a half ago, I made a similar hat as my first project.  I like the top knot. The yarn is lion brand velvet spun and the pattern is on the yarn label.  Anyway, I made one for a baby boy who is now 6 months old, and the hat I made is still too big so I decided to make the next one a little smaller so it would work for 0-3 months.  i think this one fits the bill and I can't wait to gift it.  Who says blue is for boys?  maybe I will put a little flower to embellish it.

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    Baby A and her purple hat

    I love little baby A!  She is cute and cheerful and one of the coolest babies ever!  After seeing tons of cute little pictures of her, I finally met her in person for the first time last month.  I made her this little hat which fit perfectly!   Here she is in the playground with her hat!  I want to make another style for her...maybe if I get started now, it will be ready for fall!

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011

    Afghan blanket

    Here is my friend Yvonne's afghan blanket. She made it for her daughter Fiona, who is seen modeling the blanket! i love the waves and the size! I have not yet tackled a project of this size - i typically stick with scarves and hats...and once, I made a baby sweater - which is the largest thing I've made.  Something like an afghan would be too complicated for me to figure out! Yvonne is one of the fastest knitters I know and her finished projects always look great!