Thursday, February 18, 2010

Things I like: Good Smells

I just love good smells.  I'm a good smell addict.  I love walking into the house after being out for a few hours and a gentle slap of vanilla hits your nostrils as soon as you walk in.  Candles are great, but often take awhile to freshen a room.  My favorite quick scent fix is room sprays.  One quick spray and instant nose gratification.  Today, I'm going to show you how to make your own sprays in any scent you want.

These are super easy to make, and you don't need much in the way of supplies.

1 cup of distilled water
1 ounce of fragrance oil or essential oil
a spray bottle

Pour your water into your spray bottle, add your fragrance oil.  How much depends on you really.  I would recommend starting with half an ounce, approximately 3 teaspoons.  Shake it really good.  Store it in a cool, dark place for a couple of hours.  Shake well before every use. Give it a couple of test sprays.  If you think you want a stronger scent, add more fragrance oil by the teaspoons full until you got it the way you want it.  Make sure you label your bottle so it's not mistaken for something else and keep out of reach of the little ones and pets.  Keep any items you used for making the spray seprerate from your cooking items. Once something has touched fragrance oil, it's no longer good for human consumption.    If you plan on using this spray for items like bedding, couches, carpets, etc; I recommend doing a test spray first on a part of the item that is not visible.  Use the back of the couch, the carpet underneath a lounge chair, you get my meaning.  And if you plan on using this as a clothes freshner, do a test spray.  It could be damaging to some fabrics.    Also, for clothing I would recommend using fragrance oils that are bath and body safe.  Actually, I recommend that even if you are using it strictly as a room spray. 

Finding the supplies for the spray is easy.  Distilled water can be found in any grocery store or walmart.  Walmart is also a good place to buy the spray bottle or sometimes your local dollar store will carry them.   Fragrance oils can be bought at most craft stores like Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  I get mine online.  I think they are a better quality.  I get them from places like Bitter Creek , Just Scent , Candle Chem or Majestic Mountain Sage

I hope you enjoyed this quick tutorial and even more, I hope you enjoy making these quick and delightful room sprays.  Happy Crafting!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blog Alert: National Hugging Day

A hug is a handshake from the heart. ~Author Unknown

Today is National Hugging Day...did you know that?  Well, me either to be honest.  A peek at my son's school calendar informed me of the fact this morning.  Actually, I think of all the made up holidays (if you want to call it that), this is a cute one.  Right up there with National Cookie Day.  It was started back in 1986 by Rev. Rev Kevin Zaborney from Caro, Michigan. Why? I'm not sure.  But hey, you can't lose with a hug, right?  So, go on! Grab someone and give them a squeeze, but be sure to ask first.  You don't want to turn this into, Your-butt-gets-thrown-into-jail-day.

In an interesting little side note, while I was researching Hugging Day, I came across something I wasn't aware of.  January actually, has 5 odd and unusual holidays (once again, if you want to call them that):  January 3rd: Festival of the Sleep Day,  January 18th: Winnie the Pooh Day (wish I would have known about this one, I LOVE WINNIE THE POOH!!),  January 21st: National Hugging Day, January 23rd: National Handwriting Day (It's purpose is to make people aware of the importance of handwriting.  It was created by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977.  This date was chosen because it's John Hancock's birthday and he was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independance.), and lastly, January 31st: National Popcorn Day (can't wait for that one...yum).  Big Hugs to all!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to make: Yo Yo Candle Mat, Yo Yo Sachets + some freebies!!

I love candles.  They are all over my house in every room, including the bathroom.  Back in my pre-rugrat days, I used to love to fill up the tub, light some candles, grab a good book and have a lovely soak.  Nowadays, I can't even shower without an entourage or at the very least, two little fist banging on the bathroom door going..."Mommy, let me in..what are you doing in thereeeeeee"  I was at a craft show many years ago and the lady next to me, who sold candles, had her's displayed with the cutest little mats underneath them. Being a yo yo lover, I quickly realized that they were made with those easy to make and oh-so-addictive little circles of fabric.  I broke the cardinal rule of craft shows and asked the lady if she minded telling me how she made them, which she so kindly did.  I had made yo yos before, tons of them in fact. I sewed them and stacked them to make dolls, Christmas ornaments, and the like, but I had never joined them side by side.  Of course as soon as she showed me how to do it, I quickly went home and did an Internet search that turned up all kinds of neat joined yo yo projects, like yo yo quilts, table runners, place mats,etc (to be discussed at a later time).    Yo yo crafting dates back to the 20's and 30's.  For the waste not, want not years of the Depression, it was a great way to use up every little bit of fabric, make decorations for home decor, and embellish clothing.  They are the perfect waiting room craft.  Stick a couple dozen yo yo circles, a spool of thread, and a needle in a tote bag and it will spare you a half an hour wait of reading Field and Stream.  OK, so I've talked up the wonderful world of yo yo making enough, let's get on with the how to, shall we.

To make  a candle mat, simple cut out a circle (size of your choice).  You can use any circle object to make a template, a CD, cup, plate, saucer, etc.  Trace it on to a piece of cardboard and cut out.  Now, they Clover Crafts makes a Yo Yo maker. They have  a large and a small size.  Personally, I think they aren't necessary.  Don't make yo yo making any easier, the only good thing is you will have perfectly uniformed stitches, which is not that important to me, but might be to you. 

After you cut out your template, lay it on the wrong side your fabric and trace, trace, trace. cut, cut, cut.  The number of yo yo's you will need will depend on how big you want your finished mat and how big your circles are.  The mat in the picture was made with circles approximately, 4 1/4 inches, the finished yo yo turned out to be about 1 3/4 inches.  I sewed four rows across and four rows down.  My finished mat was about a 7 1/4 inch square.  Experiment. 

Once you have all your circles cut out, thread your needle and sew a running stitch around your circle. As you sew, turn the edge of your circle under about 1/4 of an inch so you have a smooth clean edge.  If you don't know how, check out this video on how to make a running stitch.  A little tip:  Shorter or little stitches create a more open center, longer, wider stitches make a tighter, more closed off center when you are done.  I chose black thread so it would show up better against the white fabric, but you will want to pick a thread that will match.  Once you've sewn all around your circle, pull your thread slowly and firmly.  This will gather your fabric.  Pull as far as it will go, and knot off your thread.  Fix your gathers, and flatten your yo yo.

Now, to put it all together is just as simple. Take two yo yo, hold them together, front to front ( your two centers will be belly to belly so to speak).  On the side of your two pressed together yo yo's, sew them together with a whip stitch.  You don't want to sew too much. You basically want them tacked, about 1/4 of an inch. If you don't know how to whip stitch, check out this video.  Repeat this step till you have the length you want.  Personally, I sew two yo yos at a time, then when I several sets, I sew two, to two others ( like sewing a couple to a couple), til I get the length I want.  And once you do...well, you're done.  They really aren't just for candles, use them in place of doilies under lamps, candy dishes, vases, pictures, anything you want really.

For yo yo craft #2...also very simple...make a yo yo sachet.  These make cute gifts for friends, co workers, teachers and such.  Hang them from door knobs, dressers drawers, closets or throw some in your draws and cabinets. 

Cut out a big circle and a smaller.  I used a dinner plate and a saucer as a template.  Using the steps above, make a yo yo.  The exception is, before close off your yo yo, add some potpourri into the center of your circle.  You could also use herbs, such as lavender.    You don't want to make it too full, so experiment with the puffiness of it before you tie it off.  Once you got it where you want it, finish off your yo yo like I explained above.  Make your second, smaller yo yo the same way, minus the potpourri.  You are going to make this yo yo just like you did for the candle mat.  Once you got it done, glue the smaller yo yo over the center hole of your larger one.  This is going to keep your potpourri from falling out.  You can leave it just like that or cover your center hole of your smaller yo yo with a button, flower, bow, whatever.  Thread a needle with a bit of thread or floss and near the top of your bigger yo yo, just sew a hanger loop.  Once again, you're done!  How simple are these things to make!!??

Now, totally random here...I made some freebies that I was suppose to post back before Christmas...yeah, yeah I know.  But I'm sharing them now...that has to count for something...right??? Just right click and save to your computer :)  I hope you enjoyed this post and stop back again.  Happy Crafting!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Our December

OK, so I thought I would blog my way through December.  It being such a crafty and kitcheny (yes, I know that's not a real word) time of year.  Unfortunately with all the hustle and never ending bustle, I just didn't get it all together enough to meet the goal.
I thought for my journey back into blog land, I would recap the past of month with my favorite moments of holiday bliss.

We kicked off the season of merriment with a visit to see Santa. This was our first year to do this, but it's definately on top of the list for next year.  The look of complete amazement on the little ones faces actually getting to meet the big guy was a joy to watch.

Our next stop was the Build a Bear Workshop.  I, now understand why this is such a popular attraction to the kiddies.  The pure sweetness of it all had me fighting the urge to grab one of those stuffed cuties and build my own bear!

My kids walked out with two new additions to thier furry family, Bengal Bear and Holly.

We had lots of cooking adventures in December too.  One of my favs was our first try at making a popcorn cake.  The hubby had this at a work party last year and has raved about it ever since, so I thought I would surprise him and give it a try.

It wasn't very hard to make, quite messy and very yummy.  I mean, popcorn, candy, and can it be bad right??

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 quarts popped popcorn (16 cups - plain, unsalted, and unbuttered)
2 cups M&M candies
1 cup cocktail peanuts (lightly salted)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 pound marshmallows (mini or regular)

Cooking Directions

Grease a large tube or bundt cake pan with 2 teaspoons of the oil. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix the popped corn with the M & Ms and the peanuts.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, oil, and marshmallows over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When melted, pour over the popcorn mixture, and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared cake pan, pressing down to fit. Cover with aluminum foil to keep moist.

Let sit for 3 to 4 hours, or until firm and set.

To serve, invert the cake pan onto a large plate or platter. Shake gently to release.

Serve at room temperature.

The great thing about this cake is that it's not just for Christmas.  You can make it for any holiday thanks to M&M's they sell in various holiday colors (valentine, easter, etc.) or just about anytime.

Another fun night was teaching my kids to make chocolate lollipops.  We make a bunch for him to take to school and pass out to his friends.

Super simple:  A couple of chocolate lolipop molds (we found ours at Michaels Craft Store or look online)

A bag of chocolate melts (my son picked white chocolate with sprinkles in it)

A bag of lolipop sticks

Melt your choco melts in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave.  I start it at a minute, take it out, stir it and then at 30 second intrevals

Once you get it all melted, spoon it into the molds.  Tap them periodically to remove any air bubbles.  Slide in a stick and put it in the fridge for about an hour to set.

I got a box of regular sandwich bags and just slide one over each pop and tied with some curling ribbon.

My biggest craft project this year was making clothespin magnets for all of my son's teachers.  Seven sets of five each.

If you need a nice present in a large quanity, clothespin magnets are where it's at.  I got a pack of 50 clothespins at Walmart for a buck and a half.  Some scraps of scrapbook paper or wrapping paper, something with a small design works best, some glue and magnets. 

Just break apart one of your clothespins to use as a template, and trace on to the paper.  Cut it out and glue it to the top of the clothespin.  Decorate with some ribbon or sequins or buttons, whatever you have on hand and glue a magnet to the back. Cute, easy and inexpensive.  My kind of craft!!

I packed them in some brown paper bags. I bought a pack of 50 at the Dollar store.  Cut out some snowman pictures from a roll of wrapping paper and glued them to the front of the bag and then tied them closed with some curling ribbon at the top.

For now my tree is still up. I don't have the heart to take it down yet.  I just know looking at that empty spot where it stood is going to send me into a round of the after Christmas Blues.   It was an amazing month filled with all the good stuff that should come with such a wonderous time of year, made it all the more special sharing all these fantastic moments with the ones I love most in this family.

On with January......

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Things I hate: Cold and Flu Season!

Since my son started school at the end of August, we have had a different bug floating through our family every week.  We just recover from one and soon another new nasty is invades us.  Lysol and hand sanitizer has become my new best friends.  Woman's Day Magazine named six of the germiest places as he first floor elevator button, ATM keys, your desktop, the playground, the cutting board (more germs than your toliet seat if you can believe that) and shopping carts.  In a recent study 80 percent of the shopping carts tested positive for E. coli! I'm going to add my own germy place to the list, fast food resturant high chairs.  I always wipe them down before sliding my little into one.  Touch a dirty high chair, touch the food, food goes into mouth...instant trip to the doc's office.

I did some research on ways to stay healthy during this virus infected season and came up with these the most: Keep your hands off your face. It's a major way for the nasties to get into your body.  Stay hydrated. Stay warm.  Dress in layers, keep socks on your feet.  Carry sanitizer with you at all times and disinfect, disinfect, DISINFECT!

I found some really cool "make your own" hand santitzer recipes on The Soap Queen's blog: .  I haven't tried them yet, but I'm going to.  If I don't, I'm going to have to get a second job to cover the cost of cleaning supplies. 

On, a brighter note, me being...well, me...I found away to tie in some fun with all this ick (for lack of a better word).

I saw the cutest little tissue cozies on Martha's the other day.  I decided to whip up a quick one to show you all.  When I say quick, I mean quick.  It took about 10 minutes, give or take.  Now mine is kind of plain, but depending on your creativity level, the possiblities are endless. 

It was real simple to do. Just cut out a 6 3/4 by 5 7/8 inch square. 

Fold up the two end so meet in the middle and sew the ends close. 

Martha sewed her's on a machine and pinked the edges.   I sewed mine by hand with a blanket stitch or you could use a whip stitch too.  I added some felt roses and leaves, but you could use buttons, sequins ( make it really jazzy), felt circles, squares, flowers, beads.  Like I said, the posiblities are endless.

Give someone a "be healthy" basket for christmas.  Fill it with tissues, some homemade hand sanitizer, lysol, clorox wipes and there you go.  One less present to worry about. And it's a gift everyone just about anyone can use, especially teachers. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Things I love: Scents of Autumn

Fall has to be the most fragrant of all the seasons. The mere mention of the word calls to mind the scents of newly squeezed apple cider, or hot apple or pumpkin pies fresh out of the oven. This time of year finds me in the kitchen more than any other room in the house...well, when I'm not hanging out with the kiddies or crafting, of course.

Today I want to share with some of my favorite things: The Scents of Fall.

I was surfing around Martha's site ( ) looking for some easy Thanksgiving recipes, as this delicious holiday is almost upon week...eeekkkk!!

I found this wonderfully easy pumpkin pie recipe that looks absolutely yummy! The best part is it's made with a press in crust. I'll be the first to tell pie crust...they are...well, let's just say it...they are horrible!! Often to dry, cracking and not very flavorful. I'm really a really bad pie maker, but pie is a part of the holiday tradition, right??

I'm usually the first one lined up at the Kroger bakery section trying to look nonchalant, as I stuff box after box of premade pies into my cart. This year I really wanted to do the make it yourself thing, but out of extremely love for my family, I wanted to make something that they would be able to keep down :)

This looks super simple and it's going to be the one I use this year. For those of you who are like me, pie making's ok...stand can admit it. I'll start...Hello, my name is Eva and I can't make a pie. I feel better already.

On to the recipe:

Easy Pumpkin Pie with Shortbread Crust

Crust Recipe
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Stir together butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in yolk. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake, rotating halfway through, just until crust turns golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack. Make filling.

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl. Pour filling into prepared pie crust.
Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set and slightly puffed but still a bit wobbly, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 6 hours. (Pie can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Serve chilled, topped with whipped cream if desired.

Easy right?

Here's another easy way to celebrate the scents of the season, potpourri. I have two different kinds for you to ponder and play with.

First, simmering potpourri. I love to throw some of this on first thing in the morning and let it slowly drift through the house though out the day. I'll share my personal recipe with you (not like it's a big secret or anything. I got it right of the net...hehehe).

Take a large pot and fill it with apple cider. Cut up one whole orange and one whole apple, thick slices of each. 2 slices of lemon, 4 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of cloves, 3 cups of lemon verbena leaves, and 1/4 cup of allspice. I also like to drop in a few drops of fragrance oil like apple cinnamon, pumpkin pie, apple pie, etc. I will tell you, if you choice to add fragrance oil, make sure you don't ever use the pot for cooking again. Just simmer on low heat. If the cider dries up or just gets too low add more, or add water.

The next is primitive potpourri or prim fixins' as us prim lovers like to call them. Very simple to make. I get my supplies on the web, ebay to be exact. There are lots of suppliers online or maybe you are lucky enough to have them in a store close to you.

3 cups of rosehips
1 1/2 cups putka pods ( they look like little pumpkins)
1 cup of acorns ( picked them up on the ground going on walks with the kids)
mini pinecones
2 cups of mini cinnamon sticks
1 oz fragrance oi
cinnamon dough ornaments in star, heart and pumpkin shapes (optional and used mini cookie cutters to make these)

Okay, to make the dough ornaments: 1/2 cup cinnamon and 1/2 cup apple sauce (store bought, not the homemade kind. Mix together til forms dough. Roll out with a rolling pin to desired thickness. I sprinkle my rolling pin with some cinnamon. Helps with the pin sticking to the dough, like you do with flour when your making cookies. Just cut out the desired shapes with mini cutters. Allow to air dry 24 hours flipping from side to side occasionally.

To make the potpourri: combine all the ingredients. Mix well. I use a old baby wipes container. Make sure the lid is on good and shake it baby!

Once you got it like you like it, dump some in decorative bowls. I can go in just about any room of the house. I also bag some like in the picture below and stack them in a basket by the door. Come Thanksgiving Day, it makes nice little take home gifts for all who stopped by to feast.

Hope you enjoyed this walk through the scents of autumn. Have a Happy Turkey Day and Happy Crafting!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Things I Love: Craft Night

I've been trying to decide what I wanted to make my first blog entry about. Show off a craft project I'm working on? A craft tutorial? A baking tutorial? I love to craft and I love to bake, but I settled on writing about something that I love even more than those kids.

I have a four year old and a two year old. Every week or so we have Craft Night. I search the Internet far and wide for the perfect little project to delight and thrill the little ones. I raid my stack of supplies. Sometimes we have all the makings, sometimes we don't so we improvise, but in the end we always have a blast! It's such an awesome way to spend quality time with the babies while allowing them to explore their creative side. There are no rules: pink trees, blue pumpkins, purple frogs...well, you get the idea.

I love seeing their little faces light up when I dump out our supplies for each new projects. They oooohhh and aaahhh over the pretty glitter, shiny buttons and chase and tickle each other with fuzzy pipe cleaners.

My son is "the planner". He carefully plots his color schemes and sequin or glitter layouts before he puts his plan into action.

My little girl is more like me...a free spirited crafter. She dives in head first, throwing in a little bit of this and a little bit of that without any rhyme or reason and some how it all works out in the end.

The craft of the week was hand print turkeys. I remember making these in school many, many moons ago. And with turkey day fast approaching, I thought it would be the perfect craft.

So. I traced and cut out a flock of little hands. Well, my son's hand anyway. My girl had a severe case of ants in the pants and wouldn't sit still for more than one turkey trace.

If you've never done this timeless activity, I'll give you a fast rundown on the how to's.

Get some construction paper or card stock. I chose white, but you could use brown or whatever color you like...push the crafty limits. Lay your little one's hand flat (or as flat as you can get those wiggling piggies to stay) and trace with a pencil. Then cut it out and let the kiddies go wild. I just broke out the crayons, but you can use paint, glitter or even some colorful feathers. Once your little Picasso is done decorating, cut out some feet, a beak and a wattle. I didn't use a template, just free hand it. Glue or tape all your turkey parts and place, write your kiddos name on it and voila! Instant turkey. I wrote the date and child's age on the back..simply because I am a kid art rat pack and save every scribble they make.

In the end I had a lovely gaggle of colorful turkeys to hang from our mantle taking the place of the paper plate jack o' lanterns that hung there just an hour before.

Phew! I did it! My first blog entry. I hope you stop by and visit again. Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting :)