Here’s another iteration of the wine-cork trivet from CraftyNest. So! Very! Cute!

Here’s another iteration of the wine-cork trivet from CraftyNest. So! Very! Cute!

3 years ago | Tags: earth day wine cork ideas tutorial

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A few weeks ago (OK, closer to a couple of months ago now!) my boyfriend gave me a bouquet of roses. They lasted for a while, as roses go, but eventually they started to die, as flowers do. So I decided to preserve them.
When I was a kid, I used to preserve roses whole by hanging them upside down on my wall or from my ceiling. It does dry them out pretty well and keeps them straight, but there’s not a lot of use for them and it’s kind of a slapdash way to decorate. So I decided to keep them in a way that they could serve some purpose — as potpourri.
It takes several weeks for potpourri to be usable, but the plus side is that you can hang around for weeks feeling productive, because you’re technically in the process of making stuff. (Just kidding. You should absolutely be making other things in the meantime.)
Step by step!
Make your roses are still pretty healthy; maybe a little softening and leathery, but you don’t want to start with roses that are already dead. This is a good one.

In fact, if they’re the right amount of dying, you should be able to grip the blossom whole and gently twist the whole thing off the stem, and have it keep its shape, more or less, not crumbling. It’s a pretty satisfying, feeling, actually. This is what the bloom will look like from where it attaches to the stem:

Spread all your petals out on kraft paper. I used about a dozen roses, so it takes up a good deal of space.

Taking the opportunity to see them all spread out like that, pick out any black or brown ones, which’ll ensure that your finished product is attractive as possible. This is one that didn’t make the cut:

Don’t worry! You’ll still have so many pretty petals!

Let them dry here for three days. I have a cat, so I can’t really leave a bunch of light and scatterable things out on a windowsill. So I covered them very loosely with another layer of kraft paper.

After three days, they should feel leathery and partially dried. Now we salt-cure them by layering them in a straight-sided bowl (I just used an old casserole dish), sprinkling so often with coarse non-iodized salt (Kosher salt will do fine). You should use about 1/2 tsp of salt, all told. Cover and weight it down. If you’re using a bowl without a lid, invert a plate and keep some kind of can or rock or heavy thing on top. Cover the thing in foil to seal the edges.
This is the annoying and slow part; you have to stir the petals every day for fourteen days with a wooden spoon, which means removing the foil, stirring, and replacing it. Be patient, young padawan.
But then after fourteen days your petals are cured! And you can get to the fun part — the actual smells. Here were my ingredients:

What you’re seeing there is:
the cured petals
a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest
a couple of tablespoons of scented cedar shavings
three bay leaves
a cinnamon stick
a tablespoon of cloves
some nutmeg (should have had freshly shaved nutmeg! but couldn’t find it whole)
some bay leaves
rose oil
Of course, they’re just my ingredients. You can play around with the measurements and throw in some things and omit some things. (I did. It’s not a science.)
Anyway, I had fun putting my solid ingredients in a plastic bag and smashing them in with a hammer. Before:

AND AFTER!:

Mua ha ha.
Anyway, mix everything in with just a few drops of the rose oil (maybe 15 drops, depending on the strength of the oil).

This will eventually be your potpourri!

…But still not yet, sorry dudes. When it’s mixed and smells nice to you, cover again, foil up again, weigh down again, and DO NOT OPEN FOR FOUR WEEKS. Especially if you opt to use lemon juice or lemon oil rather than just the zest. The word “potpourri” means rotten pot, which refers to the stench that the stuff gives off when it’s curing. You won’t smell it if it’s covered, so keep it safe and wait a month. Remind your roommates to leave it alone if you have to.

But! Lo and behold, a little more than six weeks after you start — you’ve got potpourri!

I decided keep mine in a pretty hammered-copper bowl. I actually only own the bowl by accident; I received it as a gift from a friend, just as the receptacle for a gift set of bath products. (Don’t tell the gift-giver: I liked the bowl better than what was inside.) I’ve been looking for a use for it: and BAM!

Now I keep it on the windowsill by the trash can to freshen up the air around there. So satisfying to take something that’s usually short-lived and decorative, and make it into something relatively permanent and purposeful!

A few weeks ago (OK, closer to a couple of months ago now!) my boyfriend gave me a bouquet of roses. They lasted for a while, as roses go, but eventually they started to die, as flowers do. So I decided to preserve them.

When I was a kid, I used to preserve roses whole by hanging them upside down on my wall or from my ceiling. It does dry them out pretty well and keeps them straight, but there’s not a lot of use for them and it’s kind of a slapdash way to decorate. So I decided to keep them in a way that they could serve some purpose — as potpourri.

It takes several weeks for potpourri to be usable, but the plus side is that you can hang around for weeks feeling productive, because you’re technically in the process of making stuff. (Just kidding. You should absolutely be making other things in the meantime.)

Step by step!

Make your roses are still pretty healthy; maybe a little softening and leathery, but you don’t want to start with roses that are already dead. This is a good one.

In fact, if they’re the right amount of dying, you should be able to grip the blossom whole and gently twist the whole thing off the stem, and have it keep its shape, more or less, not crumbling. It’s a pretty satisfying, feeling, actually. This is what the bloom will look like from where it attaches to the stem:

Spread all your petals out on kraft paper. I used about a dozen roses, so it takes up a good deal of space.

Taking the opportunity to see them all spread out like that, pick out any black or brown ones, which’ll ensure that your finished product is attractive as possible. This is one that didn’t make the cut:

Don’t worry! You’ll still have so many pretty petals!

Let them dry here for three days. I have a cat, so I can’t really leave a bunch of light and scatterable things out on a windowsill. So I covered them very loosely with another layer of kraft paper.

After three days, they should feel leathery and partially dried. Now we salt-cure them by layering them in a straight-sided bowl (I just used an old casserole dish), sprinkling so often with coarse non-iodized salt (Kosher salt will do fine). You should use about 1/2 tsp of salt, all told. Cover and weight it down. If you’re using a bowl without a lid, invert a plate and keep some kind of can or rock or heavy thing on top. Cover the thing in foil to seal the edges.

This is the annoying and slow part; you have to stir the petals every day for fourteen days with a wooden spoon, which means removing the foil, stirring, and replacing it. Be patient, young padawan.

But then after fourteen days your petals are cured! And you can get to the fun part — the actual smells. Here were my ingredients:

What you’re seeing there is:

  • the cured petals
  • a couple of teaspoons of lemon zest
  • a couple of tablespoons of scented cedar shavings
  • three bay leaves
  • a cinnamon stick
  • a tablespoon of cloves
  • some nutmeg (should have had freshly shaved nutmeg! but couldn’t find it whole)
  • some bay leaves
  • rose oil

Of course, they’re just my ingredients. You can play around with the measurements and throw in some things and omit some things. (I did. It’s not a science.)

Anyway, I had fun putting my solid ingredients in a plastic bag and smashing them in with a hammer. Before:

AND AFTER!:

Mua ha ha.

Anyway, mix everything in with just a few drops of the rose oil (maybe 15 drops, depending on the strength of the oil).

This will eventually be your potpourri!

…But still not yet, sorry dudes. When it’s mixed and smells nice to you, cover again, foil up again, weigh down again, and DO NOT OPEN FOR FOUR WEEKS. Especially if you opt to use lemon juice or lemon oil rather than just the zest. The word “potpourri” means rotten pot, which refers to the stench that the stuff gives off when it’s curing. You won’t smell it if it’s covered, so keep it safe and wait a month. Remind your roommates to leave it alone if you have to.

But! Lo and behold, a little more than six weeks after you start — you’ve got potpourri!


I decided keep mine in a pretty hammered-copper bowl. I actually only own the bowl by accident; I received it as a gift from a friend, just as the receptacle for a gift set of bath products. (Don’t tell the gift-giver: I liked the bowl better than what was inside.) I’ve been looking for a use for it: and BAM!


Now I keep it on the windowsill by the trash can to freshen up the air around there. So satisfying to take something that’s usually short-lived and decorative, and make it into something relatively permanent and purposeful!

4 years ago | Tags: week eleven project fifteen botanical tutorial potpourri repurpose craft handmade end result

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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

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Baby’s First Tutorial!

The video’s on the long side — 20 minutes! — but it’s condensed to show you all the steps of felting a small animal (a robin), which takes about an hour. (Also, I’m not wearing makeup and I’m getting over food poisoning, so be kind.)

Felting is fun, easy, and cheap; all you need is wool roving and a felting needle. By needling the loose fibers, you’re hooking them together so they condense and hold their shape.

I’m going to send my little dude to a friend of mine who likes tiny cute things and needs a little pick-me-up right now. (And my first attempt? Jovie’s already claimed it. I heard her batting it around violently at 4:30 this morning.)

Pictures of the finished product later!

4 years ago | Tags: bird felted robin needle felting project nine toy week six tutorial video

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