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!

Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

I was recently over excited by the prospect of sun and happily sizzled and fried to the point of no return and am now suffering the after effects, as I basically do every year. Normally I’m in Spain and just buy diaper rash cream (true story) and suffer it out. This time, I’ve decided to take a more holistic approach. I recently made a body butter for sunburns, whilst it has helped, it didn’t reverse my stupidity entirely. Some lessons you have to learn the hard way, even if it means learning the same lesson every year and somehow seem to unlearn it over the next 10-12 months.

I am trying a serious variety of DIY sunburn stupidity fixers, I opted to try a oatmeal soak bath. I’m really not into baths, at all. Its one of the key signs that I’m sick actually, it’s the twice a year phenomenon when I say ‘I want to take a bath’ and that’s it, showers otherwise for me. I just hate the idea of sitting in your own muck, eugh, it doesn’t agree with my germ OCD. Clearly it means I’m sick enough that I don’t care. 

So when all else fails, aloe vera and body butters aren’t providing the instant healthy brown glow (I live in a fantasy world of false hope), I decided to go for a bath, because I mean I’m already every shade of red and in pain, chances of a bath killing me are slim and I can shower afterwards = win win.

DIY Bath soak for dry or sunburnt skin

Makes: 4 – 1/2C portions Prep time: 10 mins

  • 1 C (125g) Dried whole milk
  • 1/4 C (45g) Baking soda
  • 1/4 C (25g) Ground oats
  • 5 tea bags of 100% Chamomile tea
  • 1 teaspoon (5mg) of sweet almond oil
  • 3 drops of Lavender essential oil
  • 3 drops of Tea Tree essential oil

Now to make this happy healthy skin bath soak:

1. Using a coffee grinder (I have one specifically for my DIY body stuff), open your Chamomile tea bags and pour them into the grinder. Grind it down until it no longer breaks down the Chamomile, I found it ground about half the mixture and the rest were still whole size. Add in your oats to the ground Chamomile and grind until a fine powder.

 

2. Next take your essential oils and mix them in with your sweet almond oil. Once this is stirred together, pour it into your baking soda and mix it well, you are rubbing the oils into the soda to give an even mixture. I would suggest you do this in a separate bowl, I did it in a tiny bowl and made a horrific mess.

3. It was at this stage that I realised my tiny container wasn’t going to be anywhere big enough to hold the mixture (which is over 2 cups). I transferred the mixture to a Tupperware container that would allow me to properly mix and then added in the milk powder. I then put the lid on the container and shook it until it was completely mixed.

4. To use, add 1/2 cup of the oatmeal milk mixture to warm water and stir to dissolve. This will give you murky water. Soak in the bath for a minimum of 30 minutes to get the benefits of this mixture. You will need to rinse yourself and the bath off after the soak, as you will have bits of oatmeal and chamomile on you and can you can see, the bath gets  covered too.

 

My skin did feel better after this soak, however, this wasn’t quite the sunburn remedy that I had hoped it would be. I think when you’re red, in pain and utterly impatient in general, you hope for miracle cures and sadly this wasn’t one of them. I absolutely believe there are benefits to this bath soak, its just not a instant remedy for sunburn.  I think this is probably more of a winter dry skin soak, to help beat winter dryness and I would recommend it for that.

Facts that make this soak great:

  • Dried milk provides moisturising and softening benefits for skin
  • Both oatmeal and baking soda reduce inflammation and soothe the skin
  • Chamomile and tea tree essential oils are anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial.

I’d like to add that I’ve now also tried a bath with apple cider vinegar, not going to lie, it smelt horrific, it did sting and another remedy that didn’t quite live up to the internet speculation of sunburn cure.

Day 3, Im slowly starting to turn a shade of brown but still very much so have red painful to touch areas. Sadly my face has also started to peel, urgh. Im going to carry on with my regime of lotions, potions and soaks but I think the answer is… time. The body needs to adjust and heal naturally.

I feel like over the last 3 days Ive debunked a number of internet ‘answers’ to sunburn, none of which provide an instant cure, sadly.

DIY natural lip plumping cinnamon lip balm

On the same night I made my yummy fruity strawberry lip balm, I also decided to make another sweet lip treat. I think one of my life mottos should be ‘life is better with cinnamon!’. So this is a cinnamon lip balm which works as a natural lip plumper, you will feel it gently tingling away on your lips.

Lip plumpers work by irritating your lips, your lips reaction to the irritation is to swell up and just like MAGIC you have fuller more plump lips. What you really want is a small to mild reaction, you dont want anything to feel as though it is ‘on fire’ or ‘inflamed’.  Inflaming your skins is generally not something we seek to do but as you are applying a soothing lip balm, it acts to also moisturise your lips at the same time.  Please also refer to my WARNING and CAUTION at the bottom of this post.

You can use white beeswax for a more white filling and you can even add in literally just a dash (no more) of ground cinnamon if you fancy spots throughout your lip balm.

DIY natural lip plumping cinnamon 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)
  • 5 drops Cinnamon essential oil

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.  Once fully melted, turn off heat and take container out of the pan. Allow your lip balm mixture to cool.  If you add in the essential oil now, it can damage it. You dont want it to solidify but just to be cooler. Once it has cooled down, add in your cinnamon essential oil and stir well.

4. 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.

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I always keep 1 of each batch for myself (I highlight the edges so that its always clear which one is mine), then I have first hand experience of it the balms are too soft, too hard, overly/underly flavoured. There is always one in each run that is never quite perfect, so I call it mine.

 

CAUTION and WARNING using Cinnamon Essential Oil: Cinnamon essential oil must be use with caution and not with a heavy hand. Do not increase the number of drops in your lip balm, as it can irritate your lips. Cinnamon essential oil is a known irritant and strong skin sensitizer. Do not substitute or use the bark essential oil, it is really NOT skin friendly. Also should you ever have a cinnamon soap (which I love), NEVER wash your genitals or sensitive areas with it. 

This is just a word of caution (and to avoid people going crazy), I never had any problems with this lip balm but know that every person reacts differently to different products, even all natural ones.

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

 

 

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! 🙂

DIY Pimp your KitchenAid Mixer with Hello Kitty tutorial

Even though I am now WELL into my thirties, I still secretly (or not so secretly) love Hello Kitty.  Being a crazy cat lady has a little bit to do with it but I grew up with Hello Kitty and to be fair, she has had very few scandals, making her a rather wholesome character.

For Christmas, I was gifted with a KitchenAid Artisan 4.8L Stand Mixer <insert girly ear drum shattering screaming here>! This is very exciting because Ive been eyeing up KitchenAids for YEARS (and almost bought one for myself at Thanksgiving) but now I have a conundrum, I dont like using new things because it means they are no longer new. (Yes, I know Im proper whop whop crazy with this thinking!) Someone suggested that I get decals to personalise it because you can personalise/pimp anything these days.  Ebay and Etsy seem to be a proper destination for such decals and vinyl stickers. I knew I wanted Hello Kitty and couldn’t find anything that that fit what I wanted, I found a lot of things that I liked but nothing to specific to Hello Kitty.  I realised after my years of shopping experience and various decals Ive made for other things, I could do this! The total cost was £22.25 and potentially I could have even gotten it cheaper but I went with the first people that I saw would post to the NLs ( as getting post is HORRIFIC here).

Heres what you need to PIMP your KitchenAid Artisan Mixer

  • Hello Kitty Sticker Bomb Sheet 50X50cm (really all you need is 8.5in X 7 in), I bought mine from Buxton Sticker Shop at £7.95 (plus £7.21 shipping to the NLs)
  • 2 Hello Kitty Car Mirror Stickers in red, I bought these from Ebay at £1.90 (plus shipping at £1.10)
  • 2 Hello Kitty Car Door Handle Stickers, I bought these from Ebay at £2.99 (plus shipping at £1.10)

Now to pimp your KitchenAid out!

I started with my car mirror stickers, I measured 1 inch from the bottom of the base and placed the sticker in line with the edge of the top of the KitchenAid. I did have to make a few small cuts on the edge for it to sit flatly against the mixer.

I next added on the door handle stickers, I decided to put this on the back base and on the front mid section (yes this will be covered with the bowl).

First lesson learnt….. Take a tape measure (ideally for clothes, as it will bend around the KitchenAid) and measure the top of your KitchenAid. I measured out 8.5 inches(22cm)  in width and then 11 inches (28 cm) in length, I decided I wanted to ideally cover the entire top of KitchenAid. Let me assure you that this did not work out, at all. There was LOTs of swearing, cutting, overlapping and lying to myself that it could work over the compound curve…. Save yourself the trouble and stop short of the curve!

It looked lovely almost covered to the front from a distance, a very long distance. Up close the compound curve means you can see the lines, air bubbles, and rips, argh! So I decided to cut it back and it still looked, well, AWFUL. So I ripped it all off, took a break and then remeasured.

The accurate measurements for this model are Width – 8.5 in(22cm) by 7 in(18cm) in length.

I realised that I had a slight gap either side of the sticker once I covered cover the top (Ive never been able to cut straight, even with a ruler), I cut a further small piece and then sliced it down the middle and put it over the gap.

This is the overall finished KitchenAid with my Hello Kitty design. I wont lie, this was a project of patience, which I often seem to be short on. I went through quite a lot of the hello kitty bomb sticker do to miscalculations and  mismeasurements. In total it took approximately 90 mins but I think you could do it in 30 if you were quick and used the right measurements. Honestly, Im really quite pleased with it. Still unsure as to when I’ll actually use it but at least its out of the box and decorated to my delight.

DIY Gift: Hot Chocolate on a Spoon

Does being a hostess mean I have the mostess? Since starting my social group for expats, I seem to be hosting far more gatherings and events than I ever have, from parent and baby groups to ladies who chat over coffee and adult evenings where chat is had over a lot of beer. Having a sense of humour and being able to laugh at my own awkwardness helps a lot, I host parent and baby groups and yet have no children. The other parents naturally ask, ‘Do you have children?’, I awkwardly smile and say ‘No, I’m a crazy cat lady, just cats for me.’ I do get a lot of strange looks but they seem to be grateful the meet up has been arranged, so I get a pass, even if it is a slightly awkward one.

I recently hosted an expat event, it was equally horrifying and exciting. I decided that pizza and beer would be a great theme, its casual and yet combines two things adults love. I would make the pizza and the people would bring the beer (the irony here is that *I* dont actually drink beer). Then I secretly prayed that I wouldn’t have any gluten-free attendees. The pressure one person can put on themselves to host an event is incredible! I decided it wasn’t enough to open up my home (spending a day in advance cleaning it to be pretend like Im some sort of organised and tidy adult), to buy all the ingredients and make the pizzas from scratch, along with brownies and snacks, no no, I also needed to give a thank you gift to the attendees who came. Yes, Im sure its party planning rule 101 – one must give a gift of thanks for those who take the time to attend. Right! Great, now I need gifts, what gift do I give? Homemade gifts are the best gifts to give, it shows you’ve taken the time and initiative to make something, because clearly everything you’ve done above simply isn’t enough. 🙂 I thought, its practically winter, cold, rainy and what is something I can play on with that, and then like any good idea a light bulb went off, HOT CHOCOLATE!!! As I shouted ‘giddy up’ and fist pumped in the air, I started to make the list of things to buy to make these gifts.

Ive previously made hot chocolate on a spoon (normally I give it to close friends at Christmas with their gifts) and have learnt what I like and what preferences people seem to like. Hot chocolate on a stick is VERY popular, its all over Pinterest and other internet locations. However, Im not a fan of sticks, I think of sticks and have visions of dogs running across a field with a large dirty muddy dribble soaked stick in its mouth. Oh hell no! Im equally awkward when I go into coffee chains and they only have the little wooden stirrers and I think ‘surely be an adult means Im capable of using an actual spoon!?”, I know, environmentally friendly, rah rah rah blah blah blah, just give me a spoon! I also find the texture of a stirrer weird on my tongue but we wont get into that.

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Makes: 15 shot sized glasses   Prep time: 15 mins  Cook time: 20 mins   Mixing and Filling time: 15 mins Total time: 50 mins

What you need to make these really great drinkable treats:

  • 9 oz. milk chocolate (not chips)  – I used 3 x100 gram bars
  • 7 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (not chips) – I used 2 x 100 gram bars
  • 1/2 c (59g) cocoa powder
  • 1 c (115g) powdered sugar/icing sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoons salt
  • 2 (10g) teaspoons ground cinnamon (or go wild and use pumpkin pie spice!)
  • 15 large marshmallows or 150 mini marshmallows
  • 7 mini candy canes (optional) – I put a mini candy cane in every other hot chocolate made, some people dont like them, so lets not force them to eat it.

Supplies

  • Plastic spoons
  • Plastic shot glasses (approx. 15) – you can use glass shot glasses ( you can use them to mould the mixture or you can give them away as part of the gift.
  • Cellophane to wrap each gift
  • Ribbon to wrap around each gift and to attach the label with

*Please note that I doubled the recipe for the pics below as I knew I wanted to make a lot and I couldn’t find shot glasses but I found double shot glasses instead, sure lets do that!

20171117_190609.jpg

Now to make these awesome drinkable treats:

1.  Chop chocolate into small pieces (or you can grate it if you really fancy it) and combine in a glass bowl. You can either microwave in 30 second bursts on 50% power, stirring between each burst, or you can use a double boiler (as I did) and allow it to melt over slowly over simmering water.

I was a bit of a idiot and thought super hot water = quicker melting time and actually seized the chocolate. Not going to lie, I didn’t even realise that you could ‘seize’ chocolate. I was able to rescue mine (hooray!) but play it safe and melt it slowly.

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2. In a separate bowl, sift together cocoa, powdered sugar, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. You need individually grease each shot glass (THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT!!!), I used vegetable oil on a paper towel (kitchen roll) and lightly greased the inside of each shot glass.  This allows easy removal of hot chocolate once its set.

3. Once the chocolate has completely melted, mix in the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Mixture will be very thick, similar to brownie batter.

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4. I used two teaspoons and spooned the chocolate mixture into each cup or you can spoon the mixture into a piping bag (no coupler or tip is needed) and pipe it into the cups. I find the mixture too thick if Im honest and thought it easier just to spoon it into the shot glasses.

After you have filled all your shot glasses, shove a spoon in each one, ensure that it is straight, this will allow for easier wrapping. I then took a large marshmallow, cut it down the middle half way through (NOT all the way through) and then shove it over the spoon. When using mini marshmallows, I put 4 around the spoon and then just before I tie the bag up, I shove in about 6 more, as 4 mini marshmallows isnt enough!

Leave chocolates to dry a few hours.  Once all shots are dry, you can remove carefully from the glasses, the heat from your hand should be enough to release them from the glass, (obviously plastic is thin and this takes longer with an actual glass shot) wrap hand around glass around 10-15 seconds. I released each glass but put them back in the glass, to make it easier to remove when the giftee receives them and uses them.

I created the attached template that I use for labels on every cup. I print it back and front and it works great!

hot chocolate on a spoon

After everyone was full of pizza and beer and heading on their way out the door into a cold wet Dutch autumn evening, they were delighted with little gems.

Ive decided to work out the prices for these so you can see how affordable these great edible gifts are, all prices are based on prices at Albert Heijn unless otherwise stated (where the cheapest option has been chosen):

  • 3 x100 gram  milk chocolate bars  = €0.49 a bar = €1.47
  • 2 x100 gram  dark chocolate bars = €0.49 = €0.98
  • 1/2 c (59g) cocoa powder = €0.45
  • 1 c (115g) powdered sugar/icing sugar = €0.40
  • 2 (10g) teaspoons ground cinnamon = €.14
  • 15 large marshmallows or 150 mini marshmallows = €0.83
  • plastic spoons = €0.53
  • Plastic shot glasses = €1.29
  • Above total is €6.09
  • Total price per shot glass gift = €0.41

Remember to share with friends (and maybe take one for yourself to enjoy)! 🙂

DIY Nourishing Winter Lip Balm

Not that long ago I posted a tutorial on making a chocolate lip balm, whilst this was indeed a tasty treat for your lips, it didn’t feel very nourishing or last very long (this could be as a result of constantly licking ones lips constantly because it was so sweet). I decided to take inspiration from Reform Stead and make something a bit more hearty for the winter. 20171115_135912

I also realised that its possible to melt down lip balm that didnt work, with my chocolate lip balm, the top layer went funny as it was basically honey and cocoa only, making it gooey and not in a good way. I decided to melt it down, clean out the tubes and make something else. I put it in a double boiler, water outside and inside the pyrex dish, it took about 20 minutes to melt but totally worked without affecting the tubes at all.

This lip balm is firm and when you put it on, it feels waxy but in a good way, you can tell its providing a protective shield.

DIY Nourishing Winter Lip Balm

Makes: 11 lip balms Making time: 1 hour  Dry time: 24 hours minimum Overall time: 25 hours

  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax or beeswax pellets
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 1 teaspoons sweet almond oil
  • 1 teaspoons castor oil
  • 10g Mango butter (I used a small piece from the pot)
  • 20 drops cherry essential oil

Now to make these nourishing balms

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, 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.20171115_204505

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.  Once fully melted, turn off heat and take container out of the pan. Allow your oils and butters to cool.  If you add in the essential oil now, it can damage it. You dont want it to solidify but just to be cooler. Once it has cooled down, add in your essential oil and stir well. You may decide to add more or less the recommended amount, thats ok. Once you get a scent you are happy with, call it done. 20171115_205531

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). 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.  Like last time, 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! Be sure to clean the outside of your tubes before applying the labels! You will have drips and this will affect the adhesion!

20171116_130506

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!

Notes: You can change the scent by using a different essential oil, I would actually suggest sweet orange oil but I think cherry works well for winter or any season.

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

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

DIY Dump soap

I’ve never really understood the fascination with YouTube, apart from Simons Cat and the occasional make up video (yes in my 30s I still have no real idea about make-up and get hints and tips from teens, OH the shame), I’ve never spent hours just watching random videos. I’d rather spend the hours on Pinterest, however, in my search for soap inspiration, Id thought Id give YouTube a go and WOW, just WOW. I quickly realised that anything really over eight minutes is well beyond my attention span and that honestly after the five minute mark I’m starting to lose interest and looking for glitter and shiny things to keep me interested. I came across a video that made a unique fun soap, allowed me to use the existing soap I already had and made me think it was easy – I should have learnt my life lesson by now, if it looks easy, it really isn’t! However, after a few days and LOTS of melt and pour base, Im pretty pleased with the results! What I love about the soap is that I was able to use off cuts of colours that I already had, so really I was just ‘dumping’ what I had to create a new soap, happy soap recycling! 🙂

Its that time of year where I need to stock up for the holidays, dear friends and family, please look surprised when you get these!

DIY Dump Soap

  • 2Lbs (1 Kg) white melt and pour soap base
  • Mica to match the colours you want to achieve, you really want a minimum of 3 but up to 5 colours
  • Essential Oils/Fragrance oils for your desired scent, I used cherry, vanilla and peppermint for this to keep in line with my Christmas theme
  • 4 tablespoons Castor oil (optional)

This soap isnt straight forward and requires quite a lot of prep.

I screen shot a picture of the soap that I was using for inspiration and then tried to mimic the needed shapes from there.  What you need to create in your prep stage is:

Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 17.44.30

You need ‘shreds’ which are the feathery looking shapes to the right of the soap. I used unscented pieces of left over soap from my shape/embed cut outs and just cut them to quite smallish sizes. You need curls, I created these using mica powder and scents (vanilla&cherry-red and peppermint-green). Pour a thin and thicker layers into your pans, allow to set, remove and then roll into curls, as per the second picture where there is a red curls. I also created little hearts which are quite wide, as I was bored and looking for other shapes to, I wanted something different than the curls. Honestly you can use any shapes but you need them to be lengthy so that when you cut the bars you see the shapes.

Whilst you’re creating your curls, create your first layer of the bar. I used red and scented it cherry and vanilla, I added in a small bit of castor oil for a better bubble on the soap. You do not want this layer to be very thick but maybe 3cms/1in.  Allow it to set whilst you’re creating your other bits which will all stack on top of the base layer.

Once you’ve created all your curls, shreds, and hearts, now onto creating the bar! Super important note, cover EVERYTHING in alcohol as you go, every time to you go to touch something to add to the soap, spray it with alcohol! It makes such a massive difference and ensures good adhesion between the layers and pieces.

Taking your base layer, on one side, DUMP in the shreds to one side, remember to spray them all with alcohol as you go. On the opposite side to it, place some of your curls, ensuring that the majority of the length of the mould is filled.  Put in you curls in different directions so that the ‘seems’ are in different directions to each other. Remember to cover everything liberally in alcohol!

Now you are going to want to melt the rest of your white base, for me my mould was massive and it took about 3lbs/1.5 Kgs to fill!!!! I scented this with peppermint and added in 2 tablespoons of castor oil. You want the base to cool down once its melted, so that it doesn’t melt the items you’re pour it onto. Unfortunately I let mine cool just a bit too much it it was ok. I filled it roughly 2/3 full at this point, so that I could add in the last of my embeds/cut outs.

You can see the white base was setting with the pour but this was ok as I knew I was adding more over it after I out in the next layer of embeds/shapes. BE SURE to give your mould a gentle shake so that the soap gets in all the little holes and crevices and there are no air bubbles. I now added in all my little hearts I wanted to ensure there were enough so that no matter what I cut the bars there would be heart shapes, so dump them in! Once you’ve set all your embeds/shapes cover it with the last of your white soap base, remember to spray everything with alcohol, even the finished layer of white base.  Allow to set for 24 hours. This was the most difficult part for me, as I REALLY wanted to know how it had come out. However, I also realised that I needed a knife to cut the soap, so I needed to go shopping before I could. Fast forward 24 hours with a new knife in hand!

This is how the outside looked, It was obvious that I had a new air bubbled which bummed me out but I thought I needed to cut it first to see if it would just crumble into a mess or hold up. I measured it out to 1 inch bars, to be honest, they probably could have been slimmer given they are really quite wide. I used a bread load pan rather than a actual soap loaf pan, which would have given a better finish and everything would have been more compact but given I was just using what I had, Im pleased.

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Im really quite pleased with the outcome, yeah I have more white space than the original but for me, it works. It smells great and its held together, so win win. I think its a good outcome for a soap where you basically just dump stuff in!

I hope you’ve found this tutorial helpful and enjoy your adventures in soap making!

Remember to share with friends! 🙂

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! 🙂