Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Scrub-A-Dub-Dub: DIY Sugar Scrub

This year, I was once again on a quest to give homemade gifts to my co-workers. (In case you weren't around last year, I had put together these gift baskets with some baked goodies and a crafty cinnamon stick candle.)

And now that I’ve discovered Pinterest, I’m not sure if it makes my quest easier (because there are so many great ideas out there) or harder (because there are TOO many great ideas to choose from!).

There was one gift idea in particular that I really wanted to try though: DIY sugar scrubs. I researched many different variations and recipes – all which sound amazing. I finally settled on this Coconut Sugar Scrub  that I found on Pinterest.

It consisted of two simple ingredients: granulated sugar and coconut oil. I decided to go with the Nutiva brand coconut oil, which is organic and unrefined (found at local health store - $7.99 for 15 oz.). This stuff is actually for cooking, but according to the label it can also be used for “luscious skincare and healthcare.”  Double duty - love it!

Based on a different recipe I had seen, I also decided to mix my plain granulated sugar with some raw sugar, also known as turbinado sugar (found at Walmart). It’s much coarser, and seemed to me like it would add nice texture and make a good exfoliant. (In my non-expert opinion, anyway.) So basically, you could eat this sugar scrub, although I'm not really sure I would want to.

With my three ingredients on hand, I mixed together 1 cup of granulated sugar, 1 cup of turbinado sugar, and 1 cup of the coconut oil (for a total sugar-to-coconut ratio of 2:1). NOTE:  I had to warm the coconut oil a little in the microwave to soften it up so it would stir better (it’s a solid at room temperature).

Once it was all mixed together to a nice “scrubby” consistency, I of course had to try a little bit out. It actually felt pretty good rubbing it around my hands, and the amount of oil wasn’t too overbearing. I rinsed well with warm water, dried my hands, and I do think they felt nice and soft afterward (and yes, they smelled just like coconut).

I spooned the mixture into the little airtight jars I had bought from Hobby Lobby, then decorated the jars with ribbon and a gift tag (made by laminating squares of single-sheet Christmas paper from Hob Lob).

Another side note: I had some leftover sugar scrub that I saved for myself in a different jar. After a couple of days, it seemed to get a little dry and crumbly, but I think that's just because the coconut oil hardens up. The oil will still distribute itself once you start rubbing it in your hands.

Are you giving any homemade gifts this Christmas?

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Dare to DIY: Christmas Vases

I'm finally joining in one of Kim's Dare to DIY parties @ Newly Woodwards! This week, it's Dare to Deck the Halls... and I had the perfect project in mind.

Dare to DIY

So, ever since I joined Pinterest, I’ve been a pinning maniac. There are so many amazing DIY projects that I want to try, but I don’t even know where to start. Over the long Thanksgiving break, I was getting a little bored and decided I needed a Christmas project pick-me-up. So I turned to my Pinterest boards and this pin in particular:

Hot glue, a wine bottle, and spray paint? It seemed super-easy and super-cheap (read: right up my alley). So I headed to Hobby Lobby to get three glass “wine bottles” ($1.50 each at 50% off). Since I wanted to use my bottles as vases, I also bought some frosted Christmas berries (64 cents each at 50% off).

Then I started thinking that while I was there, I should probably look for a back-up plan in case my hot glue words didn’t look so…well, hot. In the sticker aisle, I found some glittery foam letters for $4.99 (full price). They’re actually called "Thickers" – clever, right?

Back at home, with glue gun in hand, I was ready to write some Christmas sentiments on these bottles (I chose Love, Peace, and Joy). I started with the word “Love” first.

Let's not sugar-coat things - it looked like it was written by a third-grader. (No offense to any third-graders out there.) My hand was obviously not steady enough to do this with the glue gun, and I’m really impressed with the one that looked so nice on Pinterest. I didn’t even bother trying the other two words. Accepting my failure, I turned immediately to the back-up stickers.

The glue letters peeled right off, and I proceeded to adhere the stickers to the bottles instead. Much better. I was actually kind of digging it just like this, but I wasn’t going to let myself off that easy. (And frankly, I was just really itching to paint something.)

At first I thought about doing each bottle in a different color, then decided to keep it simple (and cheaper) with all white, which would look nice with the red berries. Since I had never spray painted glass before, I decided to buy the Krylon Fusion, which is specifically for slick surfaces like plastic, glass, etc. (Krylon K02320000 Fusion For Plastic Aerosol Spray Paint, 12-Ounce, Gloss White). 

I put one of the bottles in a big cardboard box in the backyard, so I could spray all the way around it and try to keep the over-spray to a minimum (since I have been known to be a little careless with my spray paint in the past).

After a couple coats, I could tell that the white paint was not going to cover up the black stickers very well. Drat. I didn’t remember seeing any white stickers like this at Hobby Lobby, and I didn’t have the patience to paint 10 coats on each bottle just to try and make these stickers white.

Time for Plan B. (Or I guess Plan C by this point?) Since I did actually like the stickers as they were – black and glittery – I decided to just paint the entire bottle white and add the stickers afterward for a contrasting effect instead of a subtle effect.

Each bottle still needed about 3 coats of paint to get solid coverage, which was already stretching the limits of my patience. But finally they were all Satin White and wonderful!

Once the paint was almost dry, I put on the sticker letters. Loving it!

The final touch was to add a berry pick in each one. And here are my Christmas vases on top of the piano (aka my "mantle"):

Even though they didn’t turn out exactly like the ones I saw on Pinterest, I really like my version! It would also be cute to use other short words or phrases, such as
 - ‘tis the season
- deck the halls
- peace on earth

You could even package the bottles up all nice and give them as a gift set. Oh, the possibilities!

The overall cost of this project (bottles, berry picks, stickers, and paint) was about $15, but I still have leftover paint and stickers to use for something else. So, have you done any Christmas crafting yet?

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

When one door opens...

For quite some time now, we’ve talked about installing a screen door on our front porch. We only have one operable north window in our house, so it would be nice to be able to open up the front door and let in a breeze every once in awhile. On the other hand, it would also provide more insulation, since our front door alone is a little drafty when cold winds blow during the winter.

And after taking notice lately of all the screen/storm doors in our neighborhood, I was really starting to get door envy. A couple weeks ago, we finally turned our talk into action. I had already done some research and decided that the Larson Lakeview storm door was the way to go. This particular model (Screen-Away) has a retractable screen that rolls up into the frame, so you can choose whether or not you want the screen open. Genius!

Menard’s happened to be having a sale on storm doors, so we got the 36" Lakeview for $268 ($30 off the regular price). We chose white with aged bronze hardware, to coordinate with our existing trim and hardware.

Having never done this before, we didn’t really know how long it would take to install the door, but figured at least a couple of hours. Even though it claimed to have “Easy-Hang Installation,” I wasn’t going to be too optimistic.

Although I have to admit, my heart sunk a little when we opened the packaging and saw all the pieces and parts that we had to put together first. I had foolishly hoped the door would be ready to hang right out of the box. But since it was made to be either right-hinge or left-hinge, we had to assemble the hinges and hardware ourselves.

It took awhile to drill all the holes for the screws we needed, but the instructions were pretty easy to follow (and in color, too!). And I have to say that the hinge rail did allow for easy hanging onto the door frame, once we reached that part.

Here is proof that I did more than just take pictures the whole time.

Following the instructions for the hardware was a little more tricky, but we figured it out. The scariest part (for me) was drilling the ½” and ¾” holes into the metal frame. All we had were paddle bits made only for wood, but Luke went ahead and used them and they still cut through the metal (even though it made some awful noises).

Once the hardware was installed, we had to put up the latch rail and mortise on the other side of the door frame, so the door could close and lock properly. And it did! Woo-hoo!

Not quite done yet... We still had to install the bottom of the door, which was adjustable based on how much space you need to the sill.

FINALLY, we had to add the top and bottom closers. With the turn of a screw, they allow you to adjust how slowly the door closes.

All in all, it took about 5 hours from opening up the box to finishing the installation. Okay, so a little longer than we had planned… good thing we started early in the morning. But we really didn’t come across any major setbacks during the process, which is pretty amazing. (Well, except for when Dudley almost swallowed a tiny O-ring that was crucial for the closer installation.)

I’m so glad we have a storm door now, and I think it looks pretty good. It’s been great being able to let more natural light in, and we were even able to open up the screen a few times last month. But when Old Man Winter gets here, the door has heavy-duty weatherstripping to help keep that cold air out. There's also a deadbolt, which is a nice added security feature.

Oh, and I'm not the only one who loves it:

Which means I’ll probably be cleaning the glass every day now to keep up with their snout smudges. Oh well, still worth it!


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