Saturday, July 30, 2011

Project: Wine Cork Bath Mat

I stumbled upon Crafty Nest's blog and saw this cute cork bath mat.  I am going to start saving corks for this project!

DIY Wine cork bath mat
CB2 bamboo bath mat
Inspired by CB2's bamboo bath mat
I’m evidently on a hot glue kick lately. This bath mat requires just three materials: shelf liner, hot glue, and 175 wine corks. How did I gather 175 wine corks, you ask? Working at Sunset had its perks. With all the wine tastings in that office, collecting corks was a cinch. So far, I’ve made a wine cork trivet with them and now this bath mat.
It was inspired by CB2′s bamboo bath mat, which is perfectly lovely and affordable but too big for my tiny bathroom, hence this equally eco-friendly version. My sister Christy gave me the genius idea of using non-adhesive shelf liner with a grip bottom, so it stays in place. The cork feels good on my bare feet, plus it goes perfectly with the natural color palette of my bathroom.
Yeah, but how durable is it, you say? Hmm. I’ll test it out for a few weeks and let you know how it holds up. UPDATE: Check this post for updates on the bath mat and to read about whether you should seal yours.

How to make a wine cork bath mat

  • pocket knife (sharpened)
  • cutting board (one that you won’t mind if it gets slightly damaged)
  • rotary cutter and mat (or scissors)
  • long ruler or yardstick
  • hot glue gun
  • coarse sand paper
Cut the corks lengthwise
1. Cut each cork in half lengthwise with a sharp pocket knife. Be patient and careful so you don’t cut a finger off. It’s best if you use natural cork wine corks that are similar length and width. Sand the bottoms flat if any of your cuts are jagged.
Arrange the pattern of corks
2. Arrange the corks into a rectangle, flat sides down. Use a ruler or the lines on a cutting mat to make sure your configuration of corks is as close to a straight rectangle as possible. My mat is 18.5 x 30 inches (10 x 35 cork halves)—a little smaller than a standard size bath mat, but then my bathroom is smaller than a standard size bathroom.
Cut the shelf liner
3. Measure and cut the shelf liner to size with a rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting mat.
Glue a wine cork border
4. Transfer the outer rows/columns of corks to the shelf liner and glue them to the top side of the liner. Apply a rectangle-shaped line of glue to the flat side of each cork, about 1/8 inch from the edge, line up the cork with the edge of the mat, and press hard. Wipe away any glue dribbles before it hardens fully, but after it cools (so you don’t burn yourself).
Glue the corks in the middle
5. Once your frame is in place, transfer the rest of the corks to their corresponding position on the mat. You’ll probably have to do some arranging and trading places to make all the corks fit. Then remove one cork at a time and glue it down. You’re done!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lavender Rose lemonade - yum yum!

    My ingredients - lemons, lavender, rose petals and a teapot
(honey not pictured)
Lemonade is a perenial summer time favorite.  I decided to add a different twist by adding lavender buds and rose petals.  I made this up on the fly but here's what I did.  My friend Virna gave me a lavender and rose tea.  I made a cup and really liked it - it was great as is without any sweetener.  I didn't want to be wasteful so i steeped it twice, and the 2nd steep, i used the lavender rose tea in my lemonade.
So here are my steps:
1. Boil water and add to lavender buds and rose petals to make a lavender-rose infusion/tea.
2. Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons.  Mine were from my friend Glo, actually the lemons were from her brother's tree).  You can use more depending on how much lemonade you want to make.  Mine was for 1 pitcher.
3. Add water to the tea, and then add your lemon juice.  I tasted it as I went along to figure out the right amount of water. 
4. Add sweetener such as honey or agave nectar.  i used honey.  Add it to taste.
Voila!  Pretty simple and fun to drink.  There's a faint lavender smell, and you can taste the rose and lavender in the lemonade.

Drink Up!  It's a litle pink from the lavender and rose petals

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Recipe: Salted Caramel Cupcakes

I recently had a Sprinkles Salty Caramel cupcake, and it was bliss!  They are only available until July 31 so I will have to make another trip and buy some to freeze.  In the meantime, i decided to search for a caramel cupcake recipe and stumbled across this recipe from a Sweet Spoonful.  While I haven't tried this one yet, it looks really good and I will add it to my list.

salted caramel cupcakes

This particular caramel cake recipe is from The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook. Now a word on these cupcakes: the recipe, as printed, is for a cake. But I’ve promised coworkers and friends I’d bring them treats this week so I wanted something more portable. The thing to know about this frosting: a) you can do it (go, go, go), b) the caramel is mind-blowing and c) as printed, it is so not acceptable for a cupcake. For a cake, it’s the kind of frosting that you pour over the top and spread around a bit and let it harden; for a cupcake, it’s just a flat, sticky mess. So I whipped up an American buttercream and simply added the majority of the caramel to it. The frosting is on the sweeter side, so if you’d prefer to make a simple cream cheese frosting and add the caramel to that, I think that would be fabulous. The good news is that the cupcake is not at all overly sweet, so it all works.
eating a caramel cupcake
The cake itself is light, and subtly sweet with a healthy dose of vanilla. It reminds me of being a kid. I plan on making it many, many more times. It’d be the perfect birthday cake with a good chocolate frosting or a fabulous summer cake with berries and lemon curd in between the layers. You’re going to fall hard for this cake. And the salt on top? It just seemed right. It helps to balance out the sweetness of the frosting and what’s better than caramel and salt together?

Salted Caramel CupcakesAdapted from: The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook
While it’s sometimes tempting to use all-purpose flour for everything, do follow the directions and use cake flour here. You’ll notice a difference in the lightness of the crumb–one of the most likeable features of this cake recipe. Because you won’t add all of the caramel into the icing, you’ll have some leftover. Good news! It’s perfect over ice cream or drizzled atop whiskey coffees in the evening.
1 cup whole milk
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 1/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, softened
3/4 cup heavy cream

(For the Caramel:)
3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
(For the Buttercream:)1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 – 1  1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
good sea salt, to top

Directions:Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray 2 cupcake trays with cooking oil and line with cupcake papers.
In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of the milk with the egg whites and vanilla extract. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, quickly mix the flour with the sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of milk. Beat at a low speed until blended, then beat at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the egg white mixture in 3 additions, beating the batter on medium-speed for 20 seconds after each addition. 
In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Stir 1/3 of the whipped cream into the batter, then fold in the rest with a spatula. Using an ice-cream scoop, spoon out the batter evenly amongst the cupcake tins. Do note that the batter does rise a little, so don’t overfill. Bake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers come s out clean. Let cupcakes cool on a wire rack completely.
Make the Caramel:
In a saucepan, stir 2 1/4 cups of the sugar with the corn syrup and milk. Cook over moderate heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Keep warm.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a deep, heavy saucepan. Cook the sugar over moderate heat, swirling occasionally, until an amber caramel forms. Carefully pour the warm milk mixture over the caramel. It will bubble something fierce. Keep stirring–this is normal. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring until the caramel dissolves.
Stop sitrring and cook until the caramel registers 235 F on a candy thermometer–this will take 5-8 minutes. Be patient. Remove from the heat. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of the heavy cream. Strain the caramel into the bowl of a standing mixer. Let cool for 15 minutes.
Beat the caramel at medium speed in the standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup of cream, until creamy, about 15 minutes.

Make the Icing:Using the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or hand-held electric beaters, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add the powdered sugar and beat to combine. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the  cooled caramel at a time until you reach the consistency and flavor you like, not exceeding 1 1/2 cups caramel. Beat on medium-high until airy and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Store remaining caramel in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Assemble:Using a pastry bag with a wide circular tip (or just a trusty spoon and an off-set spatula), pipe out the frosting for each cupcake in a circular motion until the top is just covered. A little goes a long way. Top with a pinch of good sea salt.
Makes: 20-24 cupcakes
Store: in an air-tight container; they will keep for 3 days.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cactus in a Floral Arrangement

The beautiful willow-like twigs add height to the display
 I went to a dinner at the Flood Mansion in SF this week, and I fell in love with the floral arrangements, which had cacti in them!  At the end of the event, we got to take floral arrangements home.  here's the one that I took; it was very tall and hard to carry on public transportation but I did it!  I pulled out the succulents and planted them in my cactus garden, and then I brought the display downstairs for everyone to enjoy.  It has the perfect height and presence for the reception area of the building.  The flowers included roses, hydrangea, grass-like clumps, and cacti.

Close-up of the arrangement

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Recipe: Soothing and healing shea butter balm

Calendula, Lavender, & Shea Butter Balm

A soothing and healing balm. Rub into sore muscles or apply to minor cuts, scrapes, insect bites, rashes, chapped skin, and other skin irritations.
3 oz Calendula flower infused herbal oil*
1 oz Shea Butter
1/2 oz Beeswax
20 drops organic Lavender essential oil
Melt beeswax, Shea butter, and Calendula oil over a double boiler until melted, then remove from burner and mix in the Lavender oil. Quickly pour into tins or glass jars and allow to cool thoroughly before using or capping jar.

*Making Herbal Infused Oils:

Place herbs in a clean, dry glass jar. If using fresh herbs, then wilt them first for 12 hours to remove most of the moisture (too much moisture will cause the oil to go rancid), cut into small pieces, and crush with a mortar and pestle before adding to the jar. You can skip these extra steps if your herbs are dried. Pour olive oil into the jar, making sure to cover herbs by at least 1 inch of oil so they will have space to expand. Stir well and cap the jar tightly. Place the jar in a warm, sunny windowsill and shake once or more per day. After 4-6 weeks, strain the herbs out of the oil using cheesecloth. Make sure to squeeze out every precious drop of oil! Pour into glass bottles and store in a cool dark place.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recipe: Herbal Spray to Help with Sunburn

Aloe Vera and Lavender offer immediate relief, shorten healing times, and are soothing while Peppermint is cooling and refreshing.
- 4 oz organic Aloe Vera Gel
- 15 drops organic Lavender essential oil
- 10 drops Vitamin E Oil
- 2-5 drops organic Peppermint essential oil
Mix all ingredients, pour into a 4 ounce bottle, and apply to the skin as often as desired. Store in refrigerator to increase its cooling effect upon the skin.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Project Tie Dye Soaps

These swirl soaps look like tie dyes!
Step 1: Add a few drops of color into the mold
First prepare your mold. Select a liquid color of your choice. You can use 1 color or if you really want to get creative you can use a couple different colors. Randomly place drops of color directly into the mold (not too close together). You need to use at least 5-6 drops in total.  Next melt your soap in a double boiler or crock pot.

Step 2: Pour the 2nd color over the dots to get a swirled effect
Once your soap is melted, start to pour your soap into the mold, over the drops. Try to hit every drop to get the color moving. Go slow and steady until the mold is full. 
-If you think you didn’t have enough drops in the mold, you can add a drop or two while you are pouring.

-If you have a spray bottle of alcohol, and can do two things at once, try spritzing once or twice as you pour, it can give you cool swirl effects.

-When you are done filling the mold (before the soap is dry), you can take the straight end of a spoon, place it into the soap, touching the bottom, and use it to swirl the color a little.

The soap needs to cool now. It will probably take about 30-40 minutes. It should be cool to the touch before you try to remove it from the mold. Once it has completely cooled, release the soap by applying constant, even pressure with thumbs to the backside of the mold. You may need to gently pull one side of mold away from the soap bar to break the air seal and apply, even pressure to back.

To keep it fresh until you’re ready to use or gift it, wrap the soap in plastic wrap, pulling it tight and snug, in the back of the soap bar. Use scissors to remove excess plastic wrap. You can decorate with strips of scrapbook paper and ribbon.
from: Life of the Party (note: I am not a fan of their soap but I think this is a cool recipe.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Project: Cappuchino Milk Bath

This delicious scented milk bath combines skin soothing Oat Flour with gently exfoliating Milk Powder to create a luscious, skin pleasing combination that you and your tub will love.  The sweet, familiar aroma of our Vanilla Frappuccino Fragrance Oil adds an indulgent twist to this recipe, but it can also be made with all natural aromatics.  Treat yourself, or a fellow latte lover to this yummy bath time treat.
Cappuccino Milk Bath 
Makes 1 20 oz. (by volume) Container

In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the Baking Soda and Dendritic Salt, and stir well.  Measure and pour 1/2 ounce of Vanilla Frappuccino Fragrance Oil into the bowl and mix it well to disperse the oil.  Next, add 1 cup of Oat Flour and 1 cup of Whole Milk Powder and stir again, making sure to break up any clumps.  Measure 1/2 cup of the mixture and set it aside in a smaller bowl.  Add two tablespoons of Cocoa Powder to the large portion of mixture and stir it well to disperse its color.  You can add more Cocoa Powder if you want the color of the powder to be more dramatic.  Spoon the brown mixture into the container first, followed by the white portion of mixture.  Make sure to tap the powder down as you are filling the container so that you can fill it completely.
Usage & Packaging
This recipe was created for use with our 3x6 Acetate Rounds, but it would look lovely in almost any tall, clear jar.  Make your batch look extra scrumptious by adding a Wooden Scoop, a Brown Ribbon, and our Printable Tags.  Download them here: Download Cappuccino Milk Bath Labels

*To create an all natural version of this recipe, substitute Roasted Coffee Oil and a few drops of Vanilla Absolute for the Fragrance Oil.

from: The Natural Beauty Workshop

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Time Grass Soap

Monday, July 11, 2011

Urban Art using Colored Drinking Cups - very cool!

For all the geeky gamers out there - check this out!  Here's the link to Pixeled Fence, a gamer's urban art project.  He talks about how he constructed them, and has pictures of his son and daughter helping him too.  He used spray paint and a bunch of cups to put this together.  A paper blue print with the layout of the color pixels helped!  These are located in Utah, but maybe this art form will spread to other areas as well!
Metroid Pixel Art Cup Close up
  • Subject: Classic Metroid (Nintendo Game)
  • Location: Provo, UT. Carterville Rd over University Ave
  • Cup Count: 670
  • Colors: 7 (About 9 cans of spray paint)
  • Build Time: About 2 Hours

  • Subject: Classic Mega Man (Nintendo Game)
  • Location: Provo, UT.  Carterville Rd over University Ave
  • Cup Count: 731
  • Colors: 6 (About 8 cans of spray paint)
  • Build Time: About 1.5 Hours

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Teacup Candles

Continuing on the teacup theme...
here's a craft that I have made - I used the chinese/japanese style tea cups for my candles but these european ones with handles work well too.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Teacup Pincusions

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Get Clean with Juicy Watermelons!

Summer time reminds me of BBQs, pool parties, and yummy watermelons!  Here's a soapy version of this favorite summer time fruit.  This project incorporates a lot of interesting techniques you can use for other projects. 

OR buy all of the ingredients you need just by clicking on the “Buy It Now” icon below.

ONE: Prep the watermelon “seeds” by melting 2 ounces of clear soap base and mixing in a couple drops of liquid black. Pour the soap into one side of the glossy tray mold and let cool. Once the soap has cooled, release the soap from the mold and use a ruler and an craft knife to cut thin strips of black. You’ll need five long slivers.
TWO: Now it’s time to make the “rind.” Melt 7 ounce of clear soap base and  mix in .7 ounces of liquid glycerin and 6-7 drops of liquid green colorant. Mix well and pour the soap into the tray mold. Spritz with rubbing alcohol to eliminate air bubbles. Let cool.
Hint: The liquid glycerin adds some pliability to the soap so we can bend it with out breaking.
THREE: For the white layer of the rind, melt 3 ounces of white soap base and mix in .3 ounces of liquid glycerin. Let the white soap cool to 125-130 degrees, spritz the cooled green layer of soap and pour the white soap down the middle of your mold.
Tip: I wanted the white section of the rind to be super thin. Three ounces of soap isn’t quite enough to cover the entire bottom of the mold so make sure you pour the soap down the middle of the mold. It’s ok if the sides are not covered in white.
FOUR: It’s show time. Release the green and white soap from the mold, bend it down the middle and place it into the half round log mold. Make sure that the white soap is even on both sides. Scoot the soap to one end of the mold and press it down firmly. Seal the other end with plastic wrap. You can wrap some of the plastic underneath the soap if needed.
Tip: See how my mold is tipping a little bit? You’ll need to find something to prop up the mold. I used two small matching bowls.
FIVE: To make the sweet, inside of the watermelon, melt 12 ounces of clear soap base and mix in .5 ounces of watermelon fragrance oil. For the fantastic pink color, I combined non-bleeding red with red blue mica. Mix well and let the soap cool to about 130 degrees and have some plastic wrap on hand to cover the soap to keep it warm between pours.
SIX: Spritz 1 long black sliver of soap and the white soap layer in the mold. Then pour about 1/3 of the pink soap. Place the long black strip of soap into the wet soap. Spritz with rubbing alcohol to get rid of any air bubbles. Then cover the remaining pink soap with plastic wrap to keep it warm. Let this layer cool for about three minutes and repeat this step two more times. On the second pour add two of the black slivers (one on each side of the original) and on the third pour add the last two black slivers (again on the outsides of the previous pour).
SEVEN: Once the juicy soap has cooled, unmold the soap and carefully slice off the long, green edges with a knife (and put it in your scrap soap bin). Then slice the watermelon in to guest size wedges.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of july robotic centerpiece

This Fourth of July craft is bursting with patriotic pizzazz! by Amy Kaldor-Bull From FamilyFun Magazine
July 4th Robot Craft for Picnic Tables See larger photo
Total Time Needed:   1-2 Hours
Do U need a GR8 helper 4 your picnic on the 4th? Well, this is one can-do robot. His recycled-can head holds a hair-raising array of utensils, and a clear container belly keeps cookies safe from eager little hands until it's time for dessert.
  • 2 cardboard tubes (toilet paper tubes, or wrapping paper tubes trimmed to about 5-1/2 inches)
  • 1 roll each of red, white, and blue duct tape
  • Clear 1-gallon, food-safe plastic pail (we got ours from
  • 2 (15-ounce) unopened cans of food, with labels removed (for weight)
  • Clean, empty metal can or plastic bucket (ours is a 12-ounce peanut can)
  • Parchment paper (optional)
  • 2 metal bottle caps
  1. Wrap the cardboard tubes with red and white duct tape. Affix an arm to each side of the pail with a loop of tape.
  2. Wrap the bottom of the canned goods with red tape. (Tip: Write the contents on the top of each can so that you'll know what's in them.) Place loops of tape on their lids, then press the pail into place on top.
  3. To make the robot's head, wrap the empty can or bucket with blue duct tape. Cut eyes from white duct tape and a mouth from red. (Tip: The eyes and mouth are easier to make if you first attach the duct tape to a piece of parchment paper. Cut out the shapes, then peel them off the parchment backing.) Attach the bottle caps to the white circles with loops of tape. Stack the head on top of the pail.
Happy Independence Day!!