Teacup candle!
This was kind of a trial run, which ought to be semi-obvious.
Hint 1: little drip of wax on the outside of the cup. I hear Sue Sylvester’s voice admonishing me: sloppy baby!
Hint 2: the weird sea-foam green of the wax. I anticipated this would have been a richer color, because when I read that I could add dye to the wax (which I wanted to do, because white wax in a white teacup would have looked boring), I assumed that food coloring would be sufficient. Oh-ho! Not so. When I added the drops to the hot wax, they stayed marvelously intact. Little, individual drops of food coloring, lingering where they were in the wax. I tried in vain to blend it, stirring furiously, and what happened was that the drops reluctantly subdivided into more and more miniscule particles instead of ever actually dissolving. While the wax was still hot and clear, this actually looked like it just had thousands of little greenish specks suspended throughout the mix. Thankfully, it evened out some, but through no mastery on my part.
Anyway, I think this is a precious idea, even if my first attempt isn’t visually mindblowing. Next time I’ll get dye that is meant to be used with wax, first of all, and make a slightly richer color. (Better yet — use a clear wax and dye it the color of a good cup of tea!)
Secondly, I’d like to make a bunch of them in mismatched thrift-store teacups and give them as a set. I think they’d be more striking all together.
I guess (after the soaps) I’m on a tea kick! There are worse things to be addicted to.
(Also everyone please admire the lovely teapot that my sister gave me last Christmas. It is The Best for steeping the loose teas I buy at the Clark Park Farmers Market.)

Teacup candle!

This was kind of a trial run, which ought to be semi-obvious.

Hint 1: little drip of wax on the outside of the cup. I hear Sue Sylvester’s voice admonishing me: sloppy baby!

Hint 2: the weird sea-foam green of the wax. I anticipated this would have been a richer color, because when I read that I could add dye to the wax (which I wanted to do, because white wax in a white teacup would have looked boring), I assumed that food coloring would be sufficient. Oh-ho! Not so. When I added the drops to the hot wax, they stayed marvelously intact. Little, individual drops of food coloring, lingering where they were in the wax. I tried in vain to blend it, stirring furiously, and what happened was that the drops reluctantly subdivided into more and more miniscule particles instead of ever actually dissolving. While the wax was still hot and clear, this actually looked like it just had thousands of little greenish specks suspended throughout the mix. Thankfully, it evened out some, but through no mastery on my part.

Anyway, I think this is a precious idea, even if my first attempt isn’t visually mindblowing. Next time I’ll get dye that is meant to be used with wax, first of all, and make a slightly richer color. (Better yet — use a clear wax and dye it the color of a good cup of tea!)

Secondly, I’d like to make a bunch of them in mismatched thrift-store teacups and give them as a set. I think they’d be more striking all together.

I guess (after the soaps) I’m on a tea kick! There are worse things to be addicted to.

(Also everyone please admire the lovely teapot that my sister gave me last Christmas. It is The Best for steeping the loose teas I buy at the Clark Park Farmers Market.)

3 years ago | Tags: week thirty-five project forty-two end result teacup candle candle upcycle gift

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I looooove these little tea soaps, and I can’t wait to offer them as hostess gifts.
I found the tutorial through cucumbersome.com, and I suddenly knew that there was a reason I obsessively save even the tissue paper that comes in gift bags.
I used a glycerin-based melt-and-pour soap base, which is easily available in any craft store; you melt it down, add your colors and scents, and pour it into any mold you’d like. What I did was chop up about a pound of the stuff and tossed it into my double-boiler (I have this awesome canary-yellow one from the 70’s that I found at a flea market and am super proud of). Then, once it started to get hot, I ripped open three bags of Earl Grey tea and stirred the leaves directly into the soap. The soap steeped while it was melting, rendering it a honey-brown color. I also tossed in a few drops of sandalwood essential oil, to give it a bit of an earthy scent (the tea smell doesn’t really stick).Then, in lieu of a real mold, I poured it all into a small, shallow box I’d lined with wax paper, and popped it in the fridge for an hour or two to cool; when it slid out and held solid, I cut the block into little bars, a bit bigger than hotel soaps.
The downside (?) of the steeping process is that obviously, then your soap is studded with tea leaves. I wasn’t sure if I could steep the soap as evenly with the leaves still in the bag, so I didn’t try, but if you’re more adventurous than me, you could give it a shot.
Anyway, all you need to wrap the soaps to look like tea bags is white tissue paper, string, cardstock, tape, and a stapler. I recommend turning to the tutorial for details rather than having me hash them out here, but it’s so easy and satisfying (I did it while I watched Real Housewives yesterday). I handmade those tags by myself, drawing the teapots freehand with a Sharpie; but if you’re not so inclined, the tutorial also has a printable template for your tags.
P.S. This is just a wrapping technique! Don’t dip these in your bath whole. You’ll end up with a mess of soggy tissue paper.

I looooove these little tea soaps, and I can’t wait to offer them as hostess gifts.

I found the tutorial through cucumbersome.com, and I suddenly knew that there was a reason I obsessively save even the tissue paper that comes in gift bags.

I used a glycerin-based melt-and-pour soap base, which is easily available in any craft store; you melt it down, add your colors and scents, and pour it into any mold you’d like. What I did was chop up about a pound of the stuff and tossed it into my double-boiler (I have this awesome canary-yellow one from the 70’s that I found at a flea market and am super proud of). Then, once it started to get hot, I ripped open three bags of Earl Grey tea and stirred the leaves directly into the soap. The soap steeped while it was melting, rendering it a honey-brown color. I also tossed in a few drops of sandalwood essential oil, to give it a bit of an earthy scent (the tea smell doesn’t really stick).Then, in lieu of a real mold, I poured it all into a small, shallow box I’d lined with wax paper, and popped it in the fridge for an hour or two to cool; when it slid out and held solid, I cut the block into little bars, a bit bigger than hotel soaps.

The downside (?) of the steeping process is that obviously, then your soap is studded with tea leaves. I wasn’t sure if I could steep the soap as evenly with the leaves still in the bag, so I didn’t try, but if you’re more adventurous than me, you could give it a shot.

Anyway, all you need to wrap the soaps to look like tea bags is white tissue paper, string, cardstock, tape, and a stapler. I recommend turning to the tutorial for details rather than having me hash them out here, but it’s so easy and satisfying (I did it while I watched Real Housewives yesterday). I handmade those tags by myself, drawing the teapots freehand with a Sharpie; but if you’re not so inclined, the tutorial also has a printable template for your tags.

P.S. This is just a wrapping technique! Don’t dip these in your bath whole. You’ll end up with a mess of soggy tissue paper.

3 years ago | Tags: cheap gift pretty packaging project thirty tea soap week twenty-five craft handmade end result

Comments
This pattern was so hilariously campy that I couldn’t NOT buy it. It took me hours and hours and hours and ages and ages, but it made me crack up a lot.
I had no interest in keeping it, but luckily a Person From The Internet agreed to take it off my hands. So she’ll enjoy it in a very classy plastic picture frame I scored at Target.

(I know I’ve done a bunch of cross-stitches before, but this one used techniques I haven’t used before! Backstitching, French knots… I did learn something new.)

This pattern was so hilariously campy that I couldn’t NOT buy it. It took me hours and hours and hours and ages and ages, but it made me crack up a lot.

I had no interest in keeping it, but luckily a Person From The Internet agreed to take it off my hands. So she’ll enjoy it in a very classy plastic picture frame I scored at Target.

(I know I’ve done a bunch of cross-stitches before, but this one used techniques I haven’t used before! Backstitching, French knots… I did learn something new.)

3 years ago | Tags: week twenty project twenty-four cross stitch gift craft handmade end result

Comments
My mom called up a couple of weeks ago and said, “Phoebe’s birthday is coming up, you should make something for her!”
Phoebe is a cat. She’ll be six.

So I busted out some felt and my trusty bucket of Cosmic Catnip ($4 for a giant bin!*), and I made this little mouse-y guy.
I can thank High Priestess of the Glue Gun Martha Stewart for the design (which can be found here). But hers is very long for a cat toy, so I had to trim down her template to about half of the original size so that it was small enough for a petite cat like Phoebe to carry around. I used the trimmed felt in place of batting in order to stuff it.
You can read the full instructions at her website, but it’s really a matter of cutting three pieces of felt for the body (the bottom is kind of an elongated oval with pointy ends, and the sides look like the two halves of a heart) and gluing the edges together; stuffing it with batting and catnip and making sure a rope tail sticks out the back; and using tiny circles of felt, cut halfway through and curled around, for the ears. The eyes are just drawn on with marker.
Is it a good enough toy? Well: last night after I finished it, I hid it on a high shelf behind some things so that my cat Jovie didn’t destroy it before I had a chance to give it to my mom. By the time I woke up this morning, Jovie had found it, dragged it to the ground in another room, and managed to put a few bite marks in it. If nothing else, it’s potent with ‘nip.
*If only people drugs were that cheap, AMIRITE??

My mom called up a couple of weeks ago and said, “Phoebe’s birthday is coming up, you should make something for her!”

Phoebe is a cat. She’ll be six.

So I busted out some felt and my trusty bucket of Cosmic Catnip ($4 for a giant bin!*), and I made this little mouse-y guy.

I can thank High Priestess of the Glue Gun Martha Stewart for the design (which can be found here). But hers is very long for a cat toy, so I had to trim down her template to about half of the original size so that it was small enough for a petite cat like Phoebe to carry around. I used the trimmed felt in place of batting in order to stuff it.

You can read the full instructions at her website, but it’s really a matter of cutting three pieces of felt for the body (the bottom is kind of an elongated oval with pointy ends, and the sides look like the two halves of a heart) and gluing the edges together; stuffing it with batting and catnip and making sure a rope tail sticks out the back; and using tiny circles of felt, cut halfway through and curled around, for the ears. The eyes are just drawn on with marker.

Is it a good enough toy? Well: last night after I finished it, I hid it on a high shelf behind some things so that my cat Jovie didn’t destroy it before I had a chance to give it to my mom. By the time I woke up this morning, Jovie had found it, dragged it to the ground in another room, and managed to put a few bite marks in it. If nothing else, it’s potent with ‘nip.

*If only people drugs were that cheap, AMIRITE??

4 years ago | Tags: catnip mouse felt gift week fourteen project eighteen craft handmade end result

Comments
This weekend I made: pistachio brittle!
I actually made this for a “purpose,” more or less, where “purpose” is loosely defined. A friend of a friend who is huge into letterpress printing made a fabulous print of a relatively obscure quote from the unbelievably addictive/trashy MTV show Jersey Shore (see it here). Before it was on Etsy, I told her I needed to buy one from her, and she offered to barter. She asked for something “delicious,” but was currently several states away. What is delicious and can be shipped easily? Candy!
I love candy-making; while it’s precise enough that you can pretend you’re doing science (! safety goggles optional), it’s also not particularly challenging or taxing as long as you follow the instructions carefully.
So, step-by-step, here’s how I made my pistachio brittle.
Put 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of light corn syrup, and a ½-cup of water in a big pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. It’ll be a pretty white-and-clear swirl like this.



Keep that up until it comes to a rolling boil. These persistent, all-over-the-place bubbles are a good sign.



Here comes the part where you have to relinquish any hopes for healthy eating and give into Our Milkfat Overlords. Here we have: TWO STICKS OF BUTTER. Not margarine. No “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not.” Pure, unadulterated butter. (Seriously, not only are substitutions discouraged, they actually won’t work, so give up and give in.)



Plunk that right in there. Mmm, butter.



When the butter’s in, you don’t have to do much for the next two minutes. Cover the pot and let it sit for two minutes. The butter will melt by itself, and the steam that’s created by covering the pot will melt down any of the sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the pot. After two minutes, when you remove the lid, it’ll be foamy. That’s normal, and when you remove the lid the foam should subside just a little. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pot so the bulb at the bottom is in the mixture, but isn’t touching the sides or bottom of the pot. (And yes, the candy thermometer is a MUST. It makes your life so much easier.)



Keep heating and stirring until you reach 280°F, or the “soft ball” stage. A good candy thermometer will have your stages marked. At the soft ball stage, you should be able to drizzle some of the mixture into some cold water and have it immediately solidify, but still be pliable like taffy.


(not quite there yet!)

Once the mixture reaches 280°F, pour in two cups of shelled, salted pistachios.



Now, more of the same! Keep stirring, keep waiting. The more you heat it, the more it will start to look like a thick syrup rather than a foamy sugar-cloud.



We’re looking for 305°F, or the “hard crack” stage. If you drizzle a bit of this into your cold water now, it’ll immediately form a rigid strand that’s, well, brittle. Rather than the pliable strand you had before, you’ll have something that’ll crack in half if you try to bend it.
When you get to this stage, immediately remove it from the heat and just as immediately stir in half a teaspoon of baking soda. (The baking soda helps to make it a little bit less rigid, so it won’t break your teeth when you try to eat it.) It’ll be golden-brown and beautiful like this:



Pour this mixture into two well-buttered cookie sheets (again! buttered! using vegetable oil spray will make your brittle taste weird), and spread out to ¼-inch thickness with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Because of the baking soda, which foams up the mixture from the inside, spreading it might make it look pockmarked and bubbly and gross at first, but don’t worry - it’ll settle.
Also, at first, I admit, it will look like puddles of vomit. Not so appetizing.



Let it cool completely, and then comes the fun part. BREAK IT. Whether you want to use your hands or the back of a spoon, crack it, splinter it, make it into manageable little chunks. And then you have your brittle!



I popped mine in an old cookie tin I covered with craft paper, and handstamped a little gift tag and tied it with ribbon to ship it.



But—I have to admit—I saved some for myself.

This weekend I made: pistachio brittle!

I actually made this for a “purpose,” more or less, where “purpose” is loosely defined. A friend of a friend who is huge into letterpress printing made a fabulous print of a relatively obscure quote from the unbelievably addictive/trashy MTV show Jersey Shore (see it here). Before it was on Etsy, I told her I needed to buy one from her, and she offered to barter. She asked for something “delicious,” but was currently several states away. What is delicious and can be shipped easily? Candy!

I love candy-making; while it’s precise enough that you can pretend you’re doing science (! safety goggles optional), it’s also not particularly challenging or taxing as long as you follow the instructions carefully.

So, step-by-step, here’s how I made my pistachio brittle.

Put 2 cups of sugar, 1 cup of light corn syrup, and a ½-cup of water in a big pot over low heat, stirring occasionally. It’ll be a pretty white-and-clear swirl like this.

Keep that up until it comes to a rolling boil. These persistent, all-over-the-place bubbles are a good sign.

Here comes the part where you have to relinquish any hopes for healthy eating and give into Our Milkfat Overlords. Here we have: TWO STICKS OF BUTTER. Not margarine. No “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not.” Pure, unadulterated butter. (Seriously, not only are substitutions discouraged, they actually won’t work, so give up and give in.)

Plunk that right in there. Mmm, butter.

When the butter’s in, you don’t have to do much for the next two minutes. Cover the pot and let it sit for two minutes. The butter will melt by itself, and the steam that’s created by covering the pot will melt down any of the sugar crystals that may have formed on the sides of the pot. After two minutes, when you remove the lid, it’ll be foamy. That’s normal, and when you remove the lid the foam should subside just a little. Clip your candy thermometer to the side of the pot so the bulb at the bottom is in the mixture, but isn’t touching the sides or bottom of the pot. (And yes, the candy thermometer is a MUST. It makes your life so much easier.)

Keep heating and stirring until you reach 280°F, or the “soft ball” stage. A good candy thermometer will have your stages marked. At the soft ball stage, you should be able to drizzle some of the mixture into some cold water and have it immediately solidify, but still be pliable like taffy.

(not quite there yet!)

Once the mixture reaches 280°F, pour in two cups of shelled, salted pistachios.

Now, more of the same! Keep stirring, keep waiting. The more you heat it, the more it will start to look like a thick syrup rather than a foamy sugar-cloud.

We’re looking for 305°F, or the “hard crack” stage. If you drizzle a bit of this into your cold water now, it’ll immediately form a rigid strand that’s, well, brittle. Rather than the pliable strand you had before, you’ll have something that’ll crack in half if you try to bend it.

When you get to this stage, immediately remove it from the heat and just as immediately stir in half a teaspoon of baking soda. (The baking soda helps to make it a little bit less rigid, so it won’t break your teeth when you try to eat it.) It’ll be golden-brown and beautiful like this:

Pour this mixture into two well-buttered cookie sheets (again! buttered! using vegetable oil spray will make your brittle taste weird), and spread out to ¼-inch thickness with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Because of the baking soda, which foams up the mixture from the inside, spreading it might make it look pockmarked and bubbly and gross at first, but don’t worry - it’ll settle.

Also, at first, I admit, it will look like puddles of vomit. Not so appetizing.

Let it cool completely, and then comes the fun part. BREAK IT. Whether you want to use your hands or the back of a spoon, crack it, splinter it, make it into manageable little chunks. And then you have your brittle!

I popped mine in an old cookie tin I covered with craft paper, and handstamped a little gift tag and tied it with ribbon to ship it.

But—I have to admit—I saved some for myself.

4 years ago | Tags: food gift pistachio brittle project twelve tutorial week eight end result

Comments
Super-cute Valentine’s idea from Martha Stewart: felt fortune cookies!
They’re very simple: cut a circle of felt and glue a piece of thin wire across its diameter; cover the wire by gluing a thin strip of felt or a matching ribbon over it. Write your fortune or message—maybe something you love about your sweetheart?—on a strip of paper, and place it over the ribbon. Fold the circle in half along the line where the wire is, then bend the corners toward each other to make your fortune cookie! (For a diagram, click through.)
Not edible, but it is reusable!
I made these for my boyfriend last night; I’ll post the picture a little later.

Super-cute Valentine’s idea from Martha Stewart: felt fortune cookies!

They’re very simple: cut a circle of felt and glue a piece of thin wire across its diameter; cover the wire by gluing a thin strip of felt or a matching ribbon over it. Write your fortune or message—maybe something you love about your sweetheart?—on a strip of paper, and place it over the ribbon. Fold the circle in half along the line where the wire is, then bend the corners toward each other to make your fortune cookie! (For a diagram, click through.)

Not edible, but it is reusable!

I made these for my boyfriend last night; I’ll post the picture a little later.

4 years ago | Tags: idea special occasion gift valentine's day felt

Comments