Saturday, December 24, 2011

homemade holiday: chai tea concentrate

remember this photo from my homemade body scrub post?

things got a little out of hand after that post and i made about a million of them...

because they are just so cute. what's a girl to do? well, this girl had to figure out a way to use all of these newly-chalkboard-labeled mason jars. 

hello homemade chai tea concentrate! fav holiday bev for sure.

what you need:
1 quart mason jar
4 1/2 c. water
8 bags orange pekoe black tea
1/2 c. coconut sugar, date sugar or raw cane sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
3-inch section of fresh ginger, cut into pieces
10 whole cloves
8 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 whole star anise pods
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. fresh orange zest
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. of vanilla extract
1 small 6″ square section of cheesecloth
kitchen twine

what you do:

remove any tags from the tea bags and tie them all together. prepare the spices (cinnamon sticks, ginger, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, anise, peppercorns, and orange zest) by laying them out on the cheesecloth square. pull up the edges of the cheesecloth and tie them shut to make a pouch.  in a saucepan, boil water and sugar over medium heat. once boiling, reduce to simmer and add the tea bag bunch and the spice pouch. simmer for 20 minutes, then remove the bags and pouch. add honey and vanilla extract and stir until dissolved.  allow the mixture to cool completely, then pour into your mason jar.  keep refrigerated and use within one week.  to use, mix one part chai with one part milk and serve warm or iced--both are so tasty!

i tripled this recipe because i had quite a few jars to fill...


Friday, December 23, 2011

homemade holiday: vanilla coconut body scrub

thank you pinterest and fellow bloggers for more creative inspiration this holiday season! i found this recipe for warm vanilla brown sugar and coconut body scrub and thought i'd give it a try.  living simply and naturally appeals to me, but i've never been to into the homemade hygiene products; the idea of rubbing food on my skin and in my hair honestly causes a gag reflex. i am fully aware that hair and skin products have all kinds of chemicals in them, and i don't like that. i do like composting, recycling, thifting, crafting, couponing, etc., but i'm still working my way into the all-natural hygiene thing. this recipe was a great introduction. i have a sweet tooth so the idea of scrubbing with sugar and coconut oil sounded much better than scrubbing with lemons and avocados. some day.

the supplies: a 2-cup mason jar, organic unrefined coconut oil, brown sugar or raw sugar, and vanilla fragrance

place 1 1/4 cups of brown or raw sugar in a bowl

coconut oil is rock solid at room temperature, so heat the jar in a pot of water over medium-high heat (warning: this takes forever, so don't do this if you're in a rush)

add 6-8 tablespoons of the liquid coconut oil to the brown sugar and mix well. add 15-20 drops of vanilla fragrance, mixing well after each addition.

pack the scrub into your mason jar.  i ended up having some extra room at the top so i made another mini-batch of scrub and added it in. 

 and now we get to my favorite part--decorating the jar. i tied kitchen twine around the jar (any kind of burlap, vintage lace, etc. would work well) and bought chalkboard paint to create a label on the top of the jar.

paint a circle on the top of the jar (stay away from the rim or you'll paint the lid together). since it's a thin layer, it will dry to the touch quickly, but be sure to let the paint dry for at least four hours before writing on it.

 the finished product! more to come...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

homemade holiday: teacup candles

i love crafts. i get giddy about taking on projects and creating new life out of old things. this christmas season, we decided to go with homemade gifts because, let's face it, spending hours in my kitchen beats spending hours in my car looking for a parking space at the horribly overcrowded mall. 

so, this christmas i skipped the mall and i skipped online shopping.  instead, i shopped for craft ideas on pinterest.  i admit...pinterest has sucked me in. [my name is heather and i am addicted to pinterest.] time waster? yes, but so is facebook and my iphone and lots of other things. creative inspiration? heck yes! check out these adorable teacup candles that i found.

this is a super easy craft that cost me around $10.  i picked up a couple of vintagey tea cups from a local thift shop ($1-$2 each) and some candles ($.50 each) and wicks ($2) from the craft store.  you can also use old candles that you have lying around the house, but we didn't have a huge stash of those.


 to prep, place the metal part of the wick at the base of the teacup, wrap the extra wick around a pen and tape it into place. the pen should lay flat across the tea cup and the metal part of the wick should touch the bottom of the cup.

using a metal can to protect your cookware, heat the candles in boiling water until fully melted (the wick and metal won't melt so you don't need to worry about removing those first).

when the wax is completely melted, pour it into the cup but leave a few centimeters between the pen and the top of the wax and be sure that the wick stays in place. if you want to make scented candles, add a few drops of fragrance at this point (i used candles that were already scented).

the wax will start to get cloudy right away.  let it set for a couple hours before trimming the wick and removing the pen.

 the finished product!  more to come...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

belated thanksgiving post

i'm thankful for paint and the power it has to transform spaces with a bucket, a brush, and a ladder.

take for example this space:

 this was the dark and dingy hallway leading up to our apartment...

 the hallway that we had to quickly shuffle friends through as they came over for dinner in hopes that they wouldn't notice the grimy fingerprints and furniture dings lining the walls...

BUT thanks to paint...

 and a very handy, handsome, hard-working husband...

 (don't judge...i promise i painted too)

 we now have a beautiful, glowing, pristine, clean hallway!

 friends, you may now slowly saunter upstairs to our apartment and join us for dinner...

...thanks to paint, sore legs, a wonderful husband, an entire saturday, and take out.