Cat Wall – DIY project

I started working on the cat wall last year, approximately 9 months ago. Thanks to self isolation and social distancing, I found myself with more time than I know what to do with. Last week, I also had two days of holiday with my destination as the shed(topia), so no excuse not to finish this lingering project.

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I originally had much bigger plans than what it turned out to be, however, the two other walls I was going to use aren’t suitable to have anything of any substance put into them, so it was scaled back to a one wall feature.

So heres what I bought to make this wall possible

  • 2 Bubble Domes for the bubble seats from Amazon
  • 2 Wall mounted cat beds from Zooplus
  • 8 Wall brackets from Ikea – I used Ekby Valter but is no longer available
  • 4 Shelves from Ikea
  • Wood  and screws – I had some left over from the pond enclosure I made last year
  • Primer, paint, paint brushes and clear acrylic spray paint
  • Wallpaper and glue – I used spray glue but if I had to do it again Id use Mod Podge
  • Wall plugs – extra heavy because I have Maine Coons
  • The small scratching post as a step up to the cat wall for the cats

I actually made 4 shelves but I only needed to use 3

Now the step by step tutorial on making a super awesome cat wall, which to date my cats are still not very impressed with.

 

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Wall mounted cat beds:

  1. These automatically come with velcro stapled onto it for the cat bed to attach to it, get your pliers out and remove ALL of the staples, this is tedious and I was hoping my circle would be big enough that they would be cut out but sadly no.
  2. Using the Bubble Dome fence attachment bit (technical term and refer to above picture, top left) mark out the size of the circle, inside circumference of the circle and then saw it out. It was a tight squeeze with the saw at the bits where it mounts to the wall. I did drill a few holes first around the circle to fit the saw blade into.
  3. Sand down your rough edges and they will be rough.
  4. Make sure the bubble fits (top middle pic), I did need to make a few adjustments.
  5. Drill the holes as per the fence attachment, which is how you will attach the doom at a later stage. I made the mistake of doing this after I painted it and had further chipping from the wood, which meant more painting.
  6. I then primed the wood and then painted them the different colours. I knew the cat wall shelves were going against a very white wall and wanted them to visually pop, hence my choice in colours. I also fell in love with the wall paper and then found the paint to match it. I did 2 coats of primer and then 3 coats of the colours.

2Brackets:

  1. Prime them, I did 2 coats
  2. Paint them, I did 3 coats.

 

3Shelves

  1. Because my cats are big, they like to be enclosed, ie not fall out when they roll over.  I realised that I needed to create an enclosed shelf, to stop any injuries. I had wood left over from making a pond enclosure from scratch last year and measured it all out, cut it all down to size – 1 front rail and then 2 side pieces per shelf, sanding down all the wood edges.
  2. I then covered the side shelf rails in wall paper. I used spray glue for ease and convenience.
  3. I screwed the front rail into the shelves, so that you wont see the screw when its covered in wall paper and on the wall.
  4. I then covered the shelves with wall paper. I decided to cover the bottom of the shelf, wrapping the paper over the front and having it finish on the inside of the front shelf. People cant see into the shelves, so no need to cover them and I thought the cats might damage the paper with their claws, so just leave it as is.
  5. I glued the bottom of the self first, attached the paper and then glued the front, edge and back of rail, wrapping the paper over the rail, in 2 steps.
  6. I then screwed the side rails to the main shelf.
  7. I then spray painted them with a clear acrylic for extra shine but also to cover any stickiness left over from the glue. I really dont want the cats to stick to the shelves!

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Creating the cat wall

  1. I measured out my wall to understand what my mid way point was and then measured out the space I wanted between the shelves or vaguely where I wanted the shelves to be – I used a foot between the shelves but given the size of my cats, I could easily gone for 18 inches instead.  To be fair I also did this on paper to see if a visual would help and it did in terms of measurements and knowing the midway point and where I would put all the shelves.
  2. I had a few ideas but I wasn’t really sure how I wanted it on the wall, so rather than making LOTS of holes in the wall, I put it all the floor and measured it out to what it would look like on the wall. I tried a few ideas and sent a few messages to friends for their opinions.
  3. At this point because I was about to drill next to an electrical socket, I did turn off the electric to ensure no accidents!
  4. I then marked on the walls with the shelves where the wall plugs should go (with a level!!) and drilled the holes and inserted the wall plugs. Four hands at this stage would have been incredibly helpful and saved me time but being a single cat lady means I could only use the two that I have and proves that one person can do this project.
  5. Get your level ready and start putting up the shelves. For the domes you will need to remove the dome to get the screws in.

SUCCESS!!! You’ve completed your cat wall, be very very proud of yourself.

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I really enjoyed this project, I wont lie. It absolutely built my confidence around my DIY skills and ultimately whilst my cats aren’t very impressed with the wall, I most certainly am!

Chocolate Pine Nut Tart

I was recently made an honorary Dutch citizen, sounds exciting, right? Yeah, this means I was hit by a car whilst on my bike (if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d literally have no luck at all). Luckily it wasn’t my fault even though the car driver really wanted me to think that it was (insert several expletives) but it most certainly bruised my ego more than my legs (which were most certainly 50 shades of bruising). Im very lucky that I wasn’t seriously hurt, my legs were covered in bruises and I broke a nail (which upset me more than the bruising). I naturally heal slowly, so being covered in bruises whilst the weather has been nice has added insult to injury, all I really wanted to do is get out my lovely bronzed legs and show them off and three weeks later I was still in black tights. Ive now shed the tights, with a bit of bruising to show my roadkill survival.

One of my colleagues brought me a load of pine nuts on the basis ‘you bake, make something sweet with these’! Awesome… was not the first thought that I had. Ive never worked with pine nuts and was slightly clueless, however, this did not deter me. I have the ultimate sweet tooth and love a challenge to make new sweet things.

My Pinterest search began and I came across this awesome recipe, Chocolate Tart with Pine Nuts and decided to jazz it up and make it more to my taste.  Heres the step by step tutorial on how to make this rich chocolate tart, which was enjoyed by many colleagues. They seriously love the fact that every Monday I bring in something different, new and something that most of them have never tried.

Chocolate Pine Nut Tart

Makes: 8-12 portions   Prep time: 3.5 hours Bake time: 25 mins Total time: 4 hours approx

Crust ingredients:

  • 1 cup (128g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (43g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (100g) ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup (67g) ground toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup (35g) toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (225g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried instant espresso grounds

Chocolate filling ingredients:

  • 6 ounces (150g) dark chocolate
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (40g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt 
  • 1 shot espresso

Now to make this very nice and delicious tart:

For the crust:

1. Grind the pine nuts down, I found that they went into a paste, which was unexpected but understandable (and made a bloody awful mess in my coffee grinder). I would suggest maybe using a pestle and mortar to grind the pine nuts down.

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2. In a bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add in the flour, cocoa, ground almonds, pine nuts (ground and whole), dried espresso and sea salt, mix at low speed until combined.

3. Roll the dough between sheets of parchment (greaseproof) paper to about 1/8-inch thickness. Refrigerate for a minimum of2 hours or overnight.

4. Once your dough has chilled, preheat the oven to 350°F (180° C). Coat a 10-inch tart or springform pan with a removable bottom with butter or line a springform pan with greaseproof paper (like I did).

5. Carefully press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the pan (not going to lie, this was beyond tricky and difficult for me). Bake for 15 minutes (I let mine go for 25 mins because it just didnt look ‘done), until firm to the touch. Be prepared – the crust will slouch/fall down the edge of the pan a little as it bakes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool whilst making your chocolate filling.

For the chocolate filling

6. Melt the chocolate slowly over a bain marie (double boiler). Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.

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7. Using an electric mixer (or kitchen mixer) whip the eggs and sugar on high speed until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla, espresso shot and sea salt. Gently fold a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate just until incorporated to lighten the mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg mixture.

8. Immediately pour the filling over the cooled crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed and set. A skewer or toothpick stuck into the center of the tart should show some crumbs but not a runny filling. Let cool before slicing into wedges.

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9. Refrigerate any cake that you do not eat and consume within 3 days, if it lasts that long!

 

Verdict: Im not going to lie, it was a LOT of effort that took hours to make and the taste was like a very rich brownie. You cant taste the coffee, as it just enhances the chocolate flavour, which is amazing. Part of me was like, ‘seriously, its just easier to make brownies’ but my colleagues were very impressed and asked for the recipe. I get the feeling once they realise how much effort it takes, they will be less keen to make it. Having said that, it did make an absolutely awesome Monday treat in the office.

Remember to share with friends (or colleagues) and enjoy! 🙂

The burn – sunburn, whipped body butter for sunburns

I am what is called a sun worshipper, give me any excuse to lie in the sun and catch a tan, I’m all over it. Theres something about Casper the Ghost white that’s just not for me, understandable for the winter months but not in Spring/Summer. Yes, I know that skin cancer is a real thing and that what I do is dangerous, this is not lost on me and I would encourage everyone to use high SPF levels of sunscreen whilst out in the sun. Naturally, this means that Im a do as I say, not as a do kind of person.

The weather in the Netherlands has been AMAZING this week, which is rare, unusual and unprecedented, which means that I naturally had to take advantage of it (I can’t begin to express how happy that I am winter is over and hopefully all the grey with it). It started out with a farmers tan, sitting in the back garden with the cats whilst reading, if the cats are happy in the sun, then I’m happy in the sun.

I had a light bulb moment of realising that I’m not far from the coast or the beach, hooray! Given that the hottest day of the year to date was being predicted, I decided to take advantage of it and go to the beach, that’s probably where I should have realised it was a bad idea and I would have been better in the garden with the cats.

I am a pampered princess, I can’t deny it. I’m a creature of luxury and camping or roughing it in any form has never been for me. My mother taught me at a young age that ‘camping’ was staying in a 2 star hotel or a motel and this is something that has been ingrained me in since a young child, which probably explains a lot about me.

I opted for what is considered to be the most popular beach near Amsterdam, Zandvoort aan Zee. I have to say that I was disappointed because it just wasn’t as nice as I was expecting. I understand that after spending a lot of time in Spain, its clean beaches and nice pools have ruined me. I just wasnt expecting dog excrement amongst the debris on the beach, it just added an extra level of grossness for me, which then heightened my germ OCD. I spent a few hours at the beach, quite literally sizzling like bacon in the sun and long enough to be utterly covered in sand, despite never leaving my blanket. I havent been quite so happy to get home and take a shower in a long time.

On the way home I was feeling ‘warm’, my skin was starting to feel more tender than wagyu beef and a tenderloin put together. I hoped that it was my skin turning into a healthy brown glow… no, no it was not. By the time I got home, I realised that I needed to start applying moisturisers and lotions and basically anything that would make it less ouchy (technical term). I decided to have a look too, you know, in the mirror to see how bad it was…. So I did my own version of The Scream by Edvard Munch and realised why it hurt when I sat down, because my legs (and all other areas) were various shades of red. I can already tell that I’m going to peel, which does not give me something to look forward to.

 

Sometimes aloe vera isn’t enough and that Id decided to make a body butter specifically for sunburns. Heres my body butter for sunburn, whilst it did help, it sadly wasn’t the overnight remedy I was looking for. I’m currently on day 2 of rubbing various potions into my skin to make it better. Yes the red is less, which is good but it does still hurt to sleep/lay down/move or wear any form of form-fitting clothing. Best decision made on the day was not to opt for the nudist beach because quite frankly, no one needs burnt bits!

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DIY Whipped Body Butter For Sunburn

Makes: 240g(ish) Prep time: 5 mins Cooling time: 3+ hours Overall time: 4 hours minimum

  • 1/3 C (75g) Shea butter
  • 1/3 C (75g) Cocoa butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45g) Mango butter
  • 1/8 cup (25g) Coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Sweet almond oil
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Castor oil – I use camomile infused version that I’ve made myself
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Advocado oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) Apricot Kernel Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch (this takes out some of the greasy feel but not entirely)
  • 3 drops of each of the essential oils– Peppermint, Lavender, Tea tree, Frankincense, Eucalyptus and Lemon
  • Clean pots to put your product into or when all else fails, Tupperware!

How to make this burn healing body butter:

1. Over a double boiler combine the shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, mango butter, sweet almond oil, castor oil, avocado oil and apricot kernel oil. Once its all completely melted, combined and no lumps at all, remove from the heat.

2. Allow your mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oils, vitamin e oil and cornstarch (you may want to sieve this in to avoid any lumps or beat very vigorously until they have all been mixed). If you add the essential oil whilst your butters and oils are melting or still very hot, they will be damaged by temperatures in excess of 100F (38C). This can result in reducing their therapeutic value and may cause skin irritation.

3. Now the waiting game starts, you need to wait for the mixture to cool down to the point that it has solidified before you can start whipping it. For me, this literally took HOURS (and given that I was feeling the burn, it felt much longer!). You want the mixture to be more of a solid and have no liquid like texture, so when you put the beaters in your mixture, you can visibly see where the beaters touched. Once it is good to go, use your hand mixer and whip it good! I whipped mine for easily 5 minutes but probably closer to 10, you want medium peaks but not soft floppy peaks.

4. Now to take your whipped body butter and put it in a pot and label them. I made two pots of 60g and one pot of 120g. When putting it in the pot, you will need to tap the air out of the pot where you’re putting it in the pot. I lightly (or not so lightly) tap the pot against a counter top to release any air bubbles in the pot, yes, this does make the lotion slightly less airy but not enough to make a difference and it ensures you fill your pot entirely.

 

Why I used the essential oils that I did?

  • Peppermint: is a natural painkiller and helps soothe burnt areas by providing a cooling sensation.
  • Lavender: reduces the sting of burns and reduces redness. Due to its antimicrobial properties, it’ll speed up healing, allowing your body to recover faster.
  • Frankincense: helps to rejuvenate the skin by hydrating and providing the necessary moisture (and is generally awesome for skin).
  • Eucalyptus:  it numbs the pain, has antibacterial properties that protect the sensitive, sunburned skin from infection.
  • Lemon: speeds up healing
  • Tea tree: has anti-inflammatory properties which help to prevent infection and swelling following a sunburn.

Honestly there are tons of other essential oils that you could add, so you can play around with it and swap out different oils if you wanted or didn’t like the scent of a specific one.

*Notes: you do not have to whip this body butter, you can use it as is once it’s solidified, however, whipping it gives it a fluffier and lighter texture. This body butter does have a greasy texture

*When making body butters, potions, lotions, soaps or any body product, always make sure that the equipment, spoons, bowls etc you use will NEVER be used for edible purposes again and are only used to make body products with.

*When using any essential oils directly or indirectly on skin, ensure that you stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application. This might sound quirky but as per this article, the combination of sun and essential oils can cause the skin to severely burn and blister.

Remember to share with friends or just keep it all for yourself! 🙂

DIY fruity Strawberry lip balm

A all natural tinted yummy lip balm.

I know Ive previously done two other lip balms but this weekend I had lip balm on my mind. I wanted something different and yummy, something that will leave you wanting to lick your lips whilst nourishing them at the same time. Ive come up with a fruity strawberry lip balm using freeze dried strawberries (NEVER use fresh/frozen). After seeing the sites of Amsterdam, I came home and made these at 11pm, thats just how Rock ‘N Roll I am!

The hardest part of this easy to follow tutorial is cleaning out the coffee grinder to remove all the pink dust! (you’ve been warned)  You can use any freeze dried fruit for this recipe if you’re feeling adventurous, I bought it at my local grocery story but you can can buy it online or at local health-food store.

DIY Strawberry Lip Balm

Makes: 7 lip balms Making time: 30 mins  Dry time: 24 hours minimum Overall time: 25 hours

  • 1 tablespoon (14g) grated beeswax or beeswax pellets – I used yellow beeswax because its what I had
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) shea butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon castor oil
  • 5g Mango butter (I used a small piece from the pot)
  • 1 tsp ground freeze dried strawberries
  • 5 drops Vanilla essential oil (optional and honestly I cant tell that it makes any difference at all)

Now to make these nourishing balms

1.  Over  a ban marie or double boiler (or cheat like I do and use a milk jug in a pan with water) add the beeswax, shea butter, almond oil, castor oil and mango butter in a small heat proof bowl. Bring the water to the boil and then allow to simmer, until the mixture is just melted. You can stir the mixture but you dont need to stir it constantly.

2. Whilst your oils and butter are melting together, get your lip balm containers ready. I find it easy to put five (5) together and wrap a rubber band (loom bands work perfectly) around them, this stops them falling over when filling them. I also like to put them in a small plastic container, so that if there is any spillage, its contained. I find it easier to use my Pyrex jug making lip balm, as the spout on the jug allows for easy pouring.

3. Grind down your strawberries. (Remember you cannot use fresh/frozen strawberries, they must be freeze dried) I used a coffee grinder but a pestle and mortar also works. My coffee grinder is specifically for my hobbies but cleaning it after the strawberries was quite the mess – be sure to scrape it all out! As you can see, the strawberries didn’t entirely grind down, so you will need a small sieve for the next step.

4. Once the lip balm mixture has fully melted, turn off heat and take container out of the pan. Put your small sieve over the container and pour in the ground strawberries and sieve them, discarding any left over chunks you may have. Give it stir. Allow your mixture to slightly cool, now add in the vanilla essential oil if using.  If it you let it sit, you will notice it starts to seperate, STIR IT.

5. Pour the mixture into the lip balm tubes and allow to cool completely. Between Do NOT pour all of the mixture into the tubes (leave 1-2 teaspoons spare). As your mixture cools, A (small) depression will form in the center, use the spare balm that you didn’t use to fill this in, leaving a even finish. Simply reheat the leftover balm and top up the tubes. Allow your lip balms to set over night.

Technically now you are done with your lip balm, HORRAY.  Like last time, I decided to take it a step further and created the labels for the tubes. I have glossy adhesive sheets, which were perfect for this! Be sure to clean the outside of your tubes before applying the labels! You will have drips and this will affect the adhesion!

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These are my finished all natural tinted yummy strawberry lip balm.

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

4 Ingredient protein pancakes from scratch

Last year I had a personal trainer and was on a high protein low carb diet, my my how times have changed! I still enjoy some of the recipes I used at the time but no longer log all my meals (snacks or anything else that goes in my mouth) with MyFitnessPal. Some days I miss my PT and others I realise that life really is easier when you’re not counting every single calorie, carb, protein and fat that goes in (I still do enjoy the occasional protein shake)! I never got the post fitness high either, when your endorphins are pumping and you love life, the gym and being healthy… er no, I always just wanted to nap, like seriously take a nap. Seriously all the hard work and never any of the good feeling, I think Im broken 🙂

Being an American means I love fluffy pancakes, HOORAY for fluffy pancakes, being on a diet (or nutritional eating plan, as I was asked to call it) means no unhealthy fluffy pancakes, BOOOOooo. So I found a recipe that I could actually fit into my high protein diet, HOORAY and still use it now, double HOORAY. Its not entirely carb free but its still a massive step in the right direction.

Sundays are for being lazy and I mean staying in your pyjamas until at least 2pm and eating comforting food. These pancakes are absolute go to for Sunday breakfast. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

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4 Ingredient Protein Pancakes 

Makes: 4-5 large pancakes – serves 2   Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 4 mins approx each   Total time: 25 mins

Required Ingredients:

  • 300g Skyr Greek Protein Yogurt or Total Fage Greek yogurt – (plain or fruit is fine, I used blueberry for this tutorial)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup (128g) plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda

Now how to make this healthy breakfast:

1. Crack the eggs open and whisk them until beaten. Add your yogurt to the beaten eggs and stir until combined. (I used blueberry yogurt that had blueberry bits in it, hence the blue purple colour)

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2. Add the flour and baking soda to the egg and yogurt mixture. Stir until just combined, you do not want to over stir it. The batter will be extremely thick (think America biscuit dough).

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3. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed pan ( I use Fry-Light) heated to medium-high. I use a ladle to put the mixture in and then scrape it out with a spatula. I then flatten the mixture in the pan with the spatula (second picture), otherwise they are so thick that they will not cook all the way through.

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4. Flip the pancake when it starts to bubble a bit on the surface in the middle, this should take approximately 3 minutes. You should see that the outter edges are cooked too.

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5. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve with butter (real or fake or without for low carb) and syrup.

Old habits die hard and I still use my zero cal syrups from Bulk Powders (their maple syrup really is great for zero carb and calorie), however, I did recently come across some American style syrups in Lidls and naturally bought 2 of each! One set of pancakes was served with blueberry syrup and the other was with my zero cal butterscotch syrup.

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 Look at the fluffyness! FLUFFYNESS!
The best part about these pancakes? They are actually semi healthy! I used MyFitnesspal to work out the FACTS (again, old habits) and each serving is as below, I think fluffy pancakes at under 400 calories for breakfast is AWESOME with 27 grams of protein!
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 Notes:
*You want a high protein Greek yogurt for this recipe, such as Skyr or Total Fage, I buy Skyr in Lidls, I buy the 150g pot at  €0.49 cent each but you can also get a large 350g pot for €0.89 cent.
*For even healthier pancakes use an egg white instead of the whole egg, which reduces the calories and fat.
*You can use just unflavoured Greek yogurt in this recipe, which will also take the carbs down slightly more, if you are carb conscious. To add sweetness add a teaspoon of cinnamon to them and half a teaspoon of nutmeg.

*I have a super sweet tooth, so I add cinnamon and sweetner to my pancakes (think Can­de­rel or Splenda), this does add a few more carbs but less than actual sugar.

Remember to share with friends and enjoy! 🙂 

 

 

 

DIY Moisturising Body Butter for ladies

Recently I did a tutorial on body butter for men, it’s a great whipped body butter and I’ve been told that it works a great and also works well for psoriasis by my aunt.

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I’m currently in the states for turkey day (sorry turkeys) and decided that not only would I bring a LOT and I mean a LOT of soap that Ive made (as per the above picture), I would make various lotions for the family. Just a quick note to say that whilst Europe seriously doesn’t seem to care about the transport of soap in your hand luggage, America’s TSA take personal offence at them (apparently the shape and weight make it very suspect), be prepared for questions and searches, even when you’ve already cleared two other security points! I decided that not only would I make lotion for my dad but Id also make some whipped body butter for my nana and mother (and secretly Id make something for myself). I made three versions of this (yes, I made a LOT of body butter for the lay-deez), geranium (Jesus, this is a scent that I honestly did not get on with, it actually made me gag and smelt nothing like roses! I was literally turning my head away as I whipped it trying not to breath), lemongrass, and tea tree and eucalyptus body butter.

Why this whipped body butter is good for you?

  • Shea butter: It contains vitamins A and E and is rich in fats that make it an excellent emollient and skin moisturising agent.
  • Coconut oil: It has antibacterial properties, protects against fungal infections and can prevent premature ageing.
  • Sweet almond oil: Enriched with vitamin E, monounsaturated fatty acids, proteins, potassium, zinc, and a number of other minerals and vitamins. It is a mild, hypoallergenic oil, it moisturises the skin without irritating it further, its good for eczema and psoriasis.
  • Castor oil: Heals inflamed skin, reduces acne, moisturises skin, fades blemishes, prevents stretch marks and reduces pigmentation.
  • Mango butter: Due to its rich minerals and vitamin content, it can heal scars. It is high linoleic and oleic acid content, making it good at maintaining the skin’s elasticity and flexibility.
  • Vitamin e oil: Can improve the appearance and texture of rough and dry skin due to its role in maintaining skin barrier function and helping the skin to retain water.

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DIY Whipped Body Butter For Ladies

Makes: 210g(ish) Prep time: 5 mins Cooling time: 3+ hours Overall time: 4 hours minimum

  • 1/2 cup (110g) Shea butter
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Mango butter
  • 1/8 cup (30ml) Sweet almond oil
  • 1/8 cup (30ml) Castor oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops essential oil – as above, I made 3 batches which were geranium, lemongrass, and tea tree and eucalyptus – I added a few more drops to get a more intense scent
  • Clean pots to put your product into or when all else fails, tupperwear!

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How to make this girly body butter:

1. Over a double boiler combine the shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, and mango butter. Once its all completely melted, combined and no lumps at all, remove from the heat. 20171115_133035.jpg

2. Allow your mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oil and vitamin e oil. If you add the essential oil whilst its melting or still very hot, they can be damaged by temperatures in excess of 100F (38C). This can result in reducing their therapeutic value and may cause skin irritation.20171115_134850.jpg

3. Now the waiting game starts, you need to wait for it all to cool down and start to solidify before you can start whipping it. For me, this literally took HOURS and HOURS. I tried beating it a few times in hope that it was ready and it just really wasn’t! In the end, I left it overnight (bottom left), and it was solidified and ready to be whipped. The top left and top right picture are the various stages of it solidifying and me trying to whip it and it just not working. Now that I have made so many of these, it really does whip best once its solidified. Once it is good to go, use your hand mixer and whip it good! I whipped mine for easily 5 minutes but probably closer to 10, you want medium peaks but not soft floppy peaks.

4. Now to take your whipped body butter and put it in a pot and label them. When putting it in the pot, you will need to tap the air out of the pot where you’re putting it in the pot. I lightly (or not so lightly) tap the pot against a counter top to release any air bubbles in the pot, yes, this does make the lotion slightly less airy but not enough to make a difference and it ensures you fill your pot entirely.

I created labels for the pots, so that there wasn’t a mystery as to what is in them. I used a glossy self adhesive printer paper (for laser, as thats what I have), measured the pots and changed the font according to the size of the pot. As with anything you’re giving to someone, its best to list all the ingredients to avoid any allergic reactions.

The great thing about this whipped body butter is that you dont need much at all, a little really does go a long way. I use it as a day and night cream for my face, along with as a lotion for my hands and body, so it really is an all in one body butter/cream. I personally like lemon grass as a face and body butter, as its not overly strong in scent and doesn’t seem to affect the scent if I wear a perfume. Tea tree and eucalyptus are also great for the same reason but does smell slightly more strong.

This is a great example of how truly easy it is to make your own products or products that will moisturise and nourish you and your family.

*Notes: you do not have to whip this body butter, you can use it as is once its solidified, however, whipping it gives it a fluffier and lighter texture.

*When making body butters, potions, lotions, soaps or any body product, always make sure that the equipment, spoons, bowls etc you use will NEVER be used for edible purposes again and are only used to make body products with.

*When using any essential oils directly or indirectly on skin, ensure that you stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application. This might sound quirky but as per this article, the combination of sun and essential oils can cause the skin to severely burn and blister.

Remember to share with friends or just keep it all for yourself! 🙂

DIY Whipped Body Butter For Men

Man products (as I like to call them) are totally underrated. I get that lotions, potions, balms, and scrubs are a girls paradise BUT men have needs too! Ok, we’re not talking about those kinds of needs… We’re talking soap, skin and lotions. I’ve been making what I call ‘Man Soap’ for a few years, it’s a basic soap with sandalwood essential oil with a bay leaf in the middle, giving it the essence of man and nature. I like to think men smell it and they automatically flex their muscles and beat their chests, ok ok ok, I know I’d be boring without my imagination! Seriously though, when you think products, you think girly stuff galore but you don’t really think dude wash, man lotion, or man maintenance products!

Cedarwood essential oil is GREAT for the skin and is known to treat eczema and other skin conditions. My aunt has had great success (within a using it a few times) with treating her psoriasis with this whipped body butter, where other ointments haven’t previously worked.

My dad has super sensitive skin, something that I inherited. As a result he is incredibly limited in what he can use, as am I. My dad is also what you’d call a ‘mans man’, not the type that smashes beer cans on their chest but more the type that spends 80% of his life outdoors and wears a LOT of camouflage and not just when he’s outside. He’s also not the type to go to the store and spend more than 30 seconds in an aisle looking for lotion or comparing what the best or more natural product would be for him.

I wanted to make a super moisturising non greasy lotion that he could use in the winter or generally for dry skin that had a ‘manly’ scent, allowing him to avoid the beauty isle entirely.  I came across this recipe that I realised I was able to alter and make it my own!

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DIY Whipped Body Butter For Men

Makes: 210g(ish) Prep time: 5 mins Cooling time: 3+ hours Overall time: 4 hours minimum

  • 1/2 cup (110g) Shea butter
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup (55g) Mango butter
  • 1/8 cup (30ml) Sweet almond oil
  • 1/8 cup (30ml) Castor oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
  • 20 drops cedarwood essential oil – I added a few more to get a more intense scent
  • Clean pots to put your product into or when all else fails, tupperwear!

How to make these manly products:

1. Over a double boiler combine the shea butter, coconut oil, sweet almond oil, castor oil, and mango butter. Once its all completely melted, combined and no lumps at all, remove from the heat. 20171113_110835

2. Allow your mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oil and vitamin e oil. If you add the essential oil whilst its melting or still very hot, they can be damaged by temperatures in excess of 100F (38C). This can result in reducing their therapeutic value and may cause skin irritation.

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3. Now the waiting game starts, you need to wait for it all to cool down and start to solidify before you can start whipping it. For me, this literally took HOURS. I tried beating it a few times in hope that it was ready and it just really wasn’t! So I’d leave it another hour and then go back. The picture on the left was an hour before it was ready. Once it is good to go, use your hand mixer and whip it good! I whipped mine for easily 5 minutes but probably closer to 10, you want medium peaks but not soft floppy peaks.

4. You need to put it in pots. This for me filled 1 large pot and 2.5 medium pots.

I also created labels for the pots, so that there wasn’t a mystery as to what is in them. I ensured that the logo was consistent with my soap and TADA my dad has his own range of man maintenance products!

The great thing about this whipped body butter is that you dont need much at all, a little really does go a long way. Start with the amount that is the size of a pea and work from there.

A female scented version of this recipe can be found here.

This is a great example of how truly easy it is to make your own products or to save your dad the hassle of the beauty isle!

*Notes: When making body butters, potions, lotions, soaps or any body product, always make sure that the equipment, spoons, bowls etc you use will NEVER be used for edible purposes again and are only used to make body products with.

*When using any essential oils directly or indirectly on skin, ensure that you stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application. This might sound quirky but as per this article, the combination of sun and essential oils can cause the skin to severely burn and blister.

**Before I forget (again), you can also make this for your boyfriend or husband, however, as you can tell Ive now been single for such a long time (after 5 years, you stop telling people the real amount of time) that I dont even think of these things and when I think of love, I have visions of my cat and only my cat. Yes, she is also the screensaver on my phone…

Remember to share with friends or your Dad! 🙂

*Edits: Ive been told that this whipped butter treats psoriasis exceptionally well and other dry skin conditions as quickly as within a few times of using the body butter. Cedarwood essential oil is well documented in treating eczema and other skin conditions, which I believe is the element that makes this so good for psoriasis. I used it specifically for its woody masculine scent but it is also great for the skin!

DIY Chocolate Cake Lip Balm

So I came across a recipe that combines chocolate with lip balm, hooray! I mean really, who doesn’t love chocolate? So naturally I decided to adapt it to fit me and I have to say its been a success! I found out that my lip balms were quite soft (VERY soft), in my adaptation Ive added in more beeswax.

Chocolate lip balm

DIY Chocolate Cake Lip Balm

Makes: 12 lip balms Making time: 1 hour  Dry time: 24 hours minimum Overall time: 25 hours

  • 4 1/2 teaspoons grated beeswax or beeswax pellets
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon almond oil
  • 1tablespoon cocoa butter (grated)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon vitamin E oil,
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Over  a ban marie or double boiler (or cheat like I do and use a Pyrex jug in a pan with water) add the beeswax, coconut oil, almond oil, and cocoa butter in a small heat proof bowl. Bring the water to the boil and then allow to simmer, stirring mixture until just melted.

2. Whilst your oils and butter are melting together, get your lip balm containers ready. I find it easy to use 5-8 and wrap a rubber band (loom bands work perfectly) around them, this stops them falling over when filling them. I also like to put them in a small plastic container, so that if there is any spillage, its contained. I find it easier to use my Pyrex jug making lip balm, as the spout on the jug allows for easy pouring.20171024_164914

3.  Once fully melted, turn off heat and take container out of the pan. Stir in the honey, cocoa powder, vitamin e oil, almond and vanilla extract. Make sure all ingredients are fully mixed and even. Be quick and mix well!

4. Pour the mixture into the lip balm tubes and allow to cool completely. Do NOT pour all of the mixture into the tubes (leave 1-2 teaspoons spare). After you have poured two, stir the mixture again, do this until you’ve filled all your tubes (this is important!!! With mine I just poured the mixture and was basically left with just cocoa and honey at the bottom of my pyrex jug, this wasn’t what I wanted). As your mixture cools, A (small) depression will form in the center, use the spare balm that you didn’t use to fill this in, leaving a even finish. Simply reheat the leftover balm and add it to the tubes. Allow your lip balms to set over night.

Technically now you are done with your lip balm, HORRAY.  However, I decided to take it a step further and created the labels for the tubes. I had a few glossy adhesive sheets, which were perfect for this! I thought this would be easy, sadly it wasn’t as straight forward as I wanted and I ended up having a fight with Word. (Be sure to clean the outside of your tubes before applying the labels! You will have drips and this will affect the adhesion!)

So here are a few resources that I found and were SUPER helpful (ish). Whilst I dont sell my products I still want to present them in a professional way. Labeling Your Products : Lip Balm gives great advice on how to create labels that meet a USA legal standard, even offering a free downloadable template. I wasn’t sure how to even create a template, as I wanted mine to be unique and this free template was the right size for small lip balm tubes. I tried using it but Word and I started getting into a fight and my images were shifting and yeah… In the end I measured my tubes, length and width (kind of guessed here) and then went into word, made four columns, sized them accurately for the tube and went from there. Oh and if you didnt know, you can get all kinds of great royalty free photos at Pixabay, a great selection you can use across all your crafts!20171024_222052

Im really pleased with the results. I also put mine in the refrigerator overnight to set but honestly, it wasn’t necessary. The top of my lip balms were cocoa and honey, which tastes great but it is a bit weird at first, luckily it was used by the first 3 uses. This lip does go on clear but if you wipe at your mouth you will see a slight brown tint but no one would know you were wearing chocolate cake lip balm. 🙂

Notes: You can change this to White Chocolate by using white chocolate drink POWDER instead of cocoa powder. Additionally you can add in flavours if you want to by replacing them with the almond extract, which is what Im planning on doing next. Ill update with my next lip balm creation.

I bought my lip balm tubes on ebay but they can be found a variety of different stores.

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

Making Layered Soap

Im still quite the soap novice and Pinterest seems to feed my curiosity like catnip to a one of my cats! I think the nice thing with soap is that you can literally be as imaginative as you want to be, you can go simplistic or over the top and you get great soaps either way.

Last year I made some really cute layered Christmas soaps, they were just too cute. Unfortunately, I didn’t think fo taking pictures of creating a tutorial.  Over the weekend I hopped back on the soap bus and decided to play around and see what I got.  Im pretty pleased with the results and am looking forward to making more!

These soaps are time consuming and require a large number of steps but are worth it.  These soaps are great for yourself but also make fantastic gifts!

Making Melt and Pour Layered Soaps

I know I normally put the how much, how long, how many section here BUT this isnt quite that straight forward 🙂

What you’ll need to make these super cute soaps

  • 1/2 Kg  minimum of White & Clear soap melt and pour soap based (you could technically just use clear but I dont advise it and see you’ll see why)
  • Mica Mineral Powders – several colors
  • Fondant Sugarcraft Icing Plunger Cutters in different shapes and sizes
  • Cutting/chopping board
  • Square or Silicone Cake Mold
  • essential oils
  • Oil, I used castor

These soaps take a lot of prep! I did it a few nights in advance 15-20 mins at a time or basically until I got bored.

The first step is to create your colors. I took a 2LB/1 KG block and cut it into 7 sections. I then cut up and microwaved each of the sections (remember to cover with cling film) and then added in the mica powder to get my desired color, you honestly dont need much, maybe 1 gram or so. You can also add in essential oils if you want your colors to smell (nice) but because they make LOADS of cut outs that you can use across loads of soaps, use a oil that will not effect other scents. Below are 6 colors that I made and how I create them.  Once you’ve made your color, pour it into a silicone pan (this makes it easier to get out!) As you can see here, one part was thicker and the other part was SUPER thin and unusable, so I just melted it back down and repoured. You want it to be more thin than thick, if that makes sense but not so thin that you cant work with it. Allow to harden for a minimum of a hour. 20171020_113323

Now take your plungers/cutters and start cutting our your shapes. As you can see, I get a lot of shapes out! I also NEVER throw away the excess, I put it in a plastic baggie for later and then melt it back down and make more.

I know the picture below is awful, I didnt think to take pictures of what I was doing, augh! I wanted to make cute flowers. I used 4 different sizes of flower cut outs across the different colours. Once these were all cut out, I got a VERY small amount of CLEAR base and melted it in a tiny jar for about 10 seconds (be careful here and watch it, I did manage to actually burn the soap!) until it was melted. I then worked quickly with a toothpick and stuck a small amount of the clear soap base between my layers of flowers. I found it looked best with 3 layers of flower.

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So now the prep work is done, HORRAY!

Take your clear base (I used 1lb/.5 Kg) and melt it down (remember to use cling film if using the microwave!). As its a large amount put it in for 90 secs first and then 30 sec bursts after that until its completely melted. Add in your essenital oils now (10 drops of each) and castor oil, I used roughly a tablespoon worth, I went for Lavender and Lemon to go with my flower theme and my final layer. Be careful of using a color that will mature over time, like vanilla or orange, they go darker over time. Pour into your mold roughly 3/4 to the top. Spray with alcohol, honestly this was my first time using alcohol but I am BEYOND sold now that Ive done it. It clears away the bubbles AND the will help your layers adhere. As you can see this filled 5 of my molds. I then started to toy with patterns and how I wanted it to look in the soap.  The reason you dont pour in the clear base and then shove in your cut pieces of soap is the base is hot from being melted and will actually melt your cut outs (Im speaking from experience here!). So leave it a few mins. Get out your toothpick, which is my trusty soap making tool and touch the top occasionally to see if a film has started to form. Its roughly at this point that you want to start putting in your cut out pieces. REMEMBER you want to put them in upside down.

You do have to be quick at this stage as your soap is not starting to form a film and harden, if you wait too long, you will be able to see the film in and around the cut outs that you put in. Sometimes you can hide this with the final layer but not always. Once you’ve put your cut outs in, give it another quick mist of alcohol, for good luck. Allow to sit and harden for at least another hour if not two. Remember that you’re putting on another layer of HOT soap base and it will melt the soap youre pouring it onto slightly, so the longer you leave it, the better.

How for your WHITE melt and pour base. Why am I using white? Because it highlights the bits you’ve just done. I melted the white base as I did the clear base, added in lemon and lavender essential oils (15 of lavender and 10 of lemon), castor oil, I used roughly a tablespoon worth and then added in some dried lavender and dried lemon zest for added effect. Sometimes people need a visual to remind them of what they are getting. The first pouring always get the most goodies (right middle corner). Remember to mist with alcohol! 20171021_172046

Looking at them from the side you can see LAYERS, hooray, its a success!!! You can also see the dried lavender and lemon through the top layer. You can also see if you’ve done things wonky (a bit late now) or your mistakes.  Allow your soaps to dry over night and give them AT LEAST 24 hours before you use them.  You can unmould them after a few hours. When making blocks of soap like this where you want the different elements to be clear and visible I find the clear hard plastic moulds work best. I found that silicone moulds can make the clear base cloudy and the results just simply aren’t as good.20171021_172114

The finished products! I have to say that I was pleased with some of the results, I had one where I thought, ‘Ill use that one for myself rather than gift it’ but overall I think they are cute and smell great.

Notes: Going forward I might/might not put castor oil in the clear soap base. The reason I use castor oil is it gives a better bubble/lather on the soap when used. However, it did make the clear slightly cloudy, clearly so not cloudy that you cant see through the soap (not going to lie, I did initially panic when I added it!) but its kinds of annoyed me. Now Im on the fence as to if Id do it again or not…

Also with Melt and Pour you never want the base to be rapidly boiling away, so the idea is when melting it in the microwave to do short sharp bursts of heat, then stir to melt the larger pieces. If you allow it to boil rapidly until its fully melted, it can lead to the soap sweating after its been moulded. Sweaty soap is just not nice!

Handcrafted soaps always last longer when they are kept dry when not in use.

Please let me know if you have any questions or queries if if I can offer any further advice on making these cute soaps. I will also be making Christmas soaps soon (it is THAT time of year) and will be doing a similar tutorial on making them.

I package my soap in cellophane and attach a small label that explains what the soap is, it adds that something special.  These are great for yourself or as gifts for friends.

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

DIY Exfoliating Coffee Sugar Soap

I truly love the smell of coffee, there are very few things that even compare to the smell of freshly brewed coffee.  Having said that, I am a weirdo (well, duh!) and only drink my coffee cold, occasionally lukewarm but NEVER hot, EUGH! Now lets mix two things that I love, showers and coffee, giddy up!

Im currently on a soap making kick, I had forgotten how nice (and fragrant) is it to make soaps. Great for a gift to others or yourself (win!). I also cheat and use melt and pour bases, why? If it weren’t for bad luck, Id honestly have no luck and there is something about using Lye to make soap that just gives me visions of horror. Its also impossible to get clear lye based soap for obvious reasons (ingredients used) and I like the effect you can get with a clear base, based on what you’re doing.

What makes this soap so good? It exfoliants whilst smelling awesome and doing great things for your skin = win win!

Coffee: Coffee grounds are soft, allowing them to naturally exfoliate dead skin, leaving skin silky smooth without irritation. Coffee is a diuretic, creams it can temporarily minimize the visibility of cellulite by drawing fluid away from fat cells. Coffee’s acidity helps to boost the skin’s protective barrier too, which keeps your skin healthier and happier.

Sugar: Its fine texture gently exfoliates the skin without leaving harmful residue that can clog the pores. It has moisturizing properties that prevents the skin from drying. It is safe to use even on children’s sensitive skin and to soothe chapped lips.  Sugar is tough on cleansing the skin while retaining its natural moisture.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon helps remove dead skin cells and helps restore shine and suppleness to the skin. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties, helping enhance the complexion. Cinnamon improves blood flow and brings the oxygen and blood to the outer surface of the skin. (which backs up my claim that ‘Life is better with cinnamon’!)

Sweet orange essential oil: Sweet orange essential oil is full of antioxidants and has known benefits that spam a wide spectrum, including but not limited to increasing circulation, decreasing wrinkles, improving complexion, and decreasing hypertension.

Castor oil: Castor oil has many amazing benefits but must be used sparingly when making soap, as it can turn it sticky quickly. Castor oil heals skin inflammation that can be caused by sunburns, acne, and dry skin. It can also treat acne, fade blemishes and scars, and can provide relief from the joint and tissue pain.

Word to the wise: This soap is a messy soap, which forms part of the exfoliating experience. Exfoliating is a fun messy experience, sugar scrubs get everywhere, this is no different. Those who use this soap will notice a dirty shower/bath afterwards of coffee grounds, THIS IS A GOOD THING, it makes its has worked! Just make sure you wash down your shower/bath after you get out. AND avoid getting your bar wet between uses, this extends its longevity.

DIY Exfoliating Coffee Sugar Soap

Makes: 10 smallish soaps  Making time: 15 minutes  Dry time: 24 hours minimum Overall time: 25 hours

  • 1lb/.5 Kg of Melt and pour base
  • 1/2C (100g) sugar
  • 1/2C (100g) coffee grounds (Ive found that flavoured worked great!)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon essential sweet orange oil
  • 1 teaspoon vitamin e oil
  • 1 teaspoons castor oil (or any other oil, oilve, almond, coconut etc)
  • 1 teaspoon essential vanilla oil (optional but smells great!)

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Now to make this amazing smelling GOOD FOR YOU exfoliating soap.

1. Have your moulds ready! This soap sets quickly and you dont want to have it mixed and ready to go and then be faffing with getting yours moulds.

2. Cut your base into chunks and then melt it. I microwave mine at 30 sec intervals, when I start out. If using a large amount,  I start at 90 secs and then go with 30 secs after that. If you are microwaving your base, ALWAYS cover your own with cling film. You can also use a double boiler/ban marie method to melt your base.

 

3. Once your base is fully melted, now the fun starts, making all the smells and having a fantastic sensory sensation! Add in your coffee, sugar, oils, and cinnamon. I always throw in a little extra coffee for good luck. Stir and mix to fully combine, giving a thick even mixture.

4. Now to pour into your moulds. You can spray with alcohol at this stage if you have a lot of bubbles, which this recipe, Ive never really had this problem but wild if you like.

5. Leave to set for a minimum of 24 hours.  You can take them out of the moulds after a few hours but its never advised to use the soaps before 24 hours have passed.  20171021_184828

A very cute finished produce that smells amazing and does great things for your skin.

I package my soap in cellophane and attach a small label that explains what the soap it, it adds that something special.  These are great for yourself or as gifts for friends and family or heck, turn your hobby into cash and sell them (for a good cause).

Remember to share with friends! 🙂