Booze bottle tiki torches

IMG_1041So since I made the tinted glass jars, (which apparently happened in January?  Really?) I have been true to my word, and I have not thrown away any jars, bottles, or basically anything made of glass.  I have quite the collection, and there’s always something soaking in the sink, in an effort to remove the label.

I had seen some posts here and there about making tiki torches out of wine bottles, and as per usual, I said to myself “how hard can that be?”  Usually the answer to that question is “much harder than you think,” but in this case, it’s actually not that hard.  I posted a couple of these over on Facebook and Instagram the other day and people seemed to like them, so here’s how you do it.

You will need:


  • An empty booze bottle of your choice.  It has to have a narrow neck.  Wine bottles are great.
  • Pipe coupling or bushing.  This is a pipe fitting that is a bit larger on one end than the other.  The smaller end should fit into your bottle opening.  I used 1/2″ to 3/4″ bushing.  If you’re like me, you will take an empty wine bottle to Lowe’s with you.  And look like a weirdo when you forget that the wine bottle is in your purse when you go to pay for stuff.
  • A pipe cap larger than the large end of the pipe bushing.  In my case, a 1″ pipe cap.  This will be a lid for the torch and you can use it to put the flame out.  Technically, I guess you don’t really need this.
  • Tiki torch replacement wick.
  • Plumbers tape, in the same width as the narrow end of your bushing.
  • Some kind of fill for the bottle.  The type of fill is up to you — gravel, glass gems, sand, shells, marbles.  Whatever.  Just make sure it can fit through the opening of the bottle.  And consider whether you’re going to see it when you’re done.  If your bottle is dark, it really doesn’t matter what kind of fill you use so go cheap.  If your bottle is clear, you might want to use something pretty.  The good news about this is that if you ever decide you don’t want to use the torch anymore, fill like glass gems and marbles can be taken out of the bottle, cleaned up, and used for something else.  Yay!
  • Additional embellishments like twine, beads, shells if you want to pretty up the bottle.  Up to you.
  • Torch fuel.

I bought all of the supplies for this at Lowe’s, except the stuff I used to fill and embellish the bottles, which I already had because I keep all that stuff.  I hoard craft stuff a little.  And then I get kind of sad when I use it, because then I no longer have it.  It’s weird, but I’m sure crafters out there will understand.

Anyway, the supplies cost me a total of $8.56 CDN, not including the plumbers tape which was 79 cents for a whole roll.  I figure the all in cost for this is about $10 to $12 if you have to buy the fill and embellishments and torch fuel.  So, in my opinion, it’s not cheap.  But is is cheaper than buying a torch and you get something unique.

First step — take the label off your bottle, if you want to.  Use whatever method works for you.  I have yet to find a great label removal method and I have tried many — soaking, scraping, baking in the oven (which was supposed to be a miracle label removal method which didn’t work at all for me — if anything the label was more firmly stuck than before).  I generally use a combination of soaking and Goo Gone, and yes, I realize Goo Gone has a big scary picture of a skull and crossbones on it, but I use it anyway.  If you know of a non-scary alternative to Goo Gone that works as well as Goo Gone, please let me know.  Now, if you have a super awesome bottle, like my 60th anniversary RCAF bottle, or you love a particular brand of booze, leave the label on. If your bottle happens to have 30 year old wine in it, like my 60th anniversary RCAF bottle, I suggest just pouring the wine down the sink.  I know that seems like crime, but trust me, it’s the right thing to do.

Next, wrap the plumber’s tape around the small end of your pipe bushing.  You are looking to get a pretty tight fit when you insert that end of the bushing into the neck of the bottle.  You kind of have to experiment.  I found I needed way more plumber’s tape than I expected.


Put whatever fill you’ve selected into the bottle.  For the RCAF bottle, I used some green glass gems since the bottle was green.  For the clear wine bottle I used sparkly gravel I had bought at the dollar store a couple of years ago, and added a few shells and pearls.  I think a bottle filled with shells would be awesome, but I don’t have many shells that will fit into the neck of a wine bottle.  For the whiskey bottle I used a bunch of marbles.

The fill serves a few purposes:  it allows you to use less fuel, it gives the bottle some extra weight so the wind doesn’t knock it over, and it provides a stopping point for the wick, should it get pushed or slip into the bottle.  For a 750mL wine bottle, you’ll need to fill it about halfway.  You can test for the right fill level by putting the wick into the pipe bushing and putting it into the bottle.  When the bottom of the wick touches the fill, you have enough.


Speaking of putting the wick into the bushing, do that now.  Fill the bottle with torch fuel.  Insert the wick/bushing into the bottle and wait for the wick to become saturated with fuel.  Adjust the height of the wick (no more than 3/4″ above the top of the bushing) and light it.  A side note about the wick — I found that the wick is a fair amount narrower than the 1/2″ bushing so the wick slides around a bit, even after it has soaked up some fuel.  That’s one reason it’s important to have the right level of filler in the bottle — so you don’t lose your wick in the bottle.  I could have tried for a smaller bushing, but then it wouldn’t have fit into the wine bottle properly.  I haven’t found the narrow wick to be a problem in the use of the torches, but thought I would mention it, because some of the instructions I’ve seen indicate that the wick can be difficult to get into the pipe, but I did not experience that at all.  Perhaps the wick comes in different sizes, but I found it hard to find just this size, so I didn’t even try to find another size.

At this point you can be done if you want.  You can use the pipe cap to put out the flame and leave it on for storing the bottle when you’re not using it.  Or you can skip the pipe cap and just blow it out or use a candle snuffer.

Or, you can embellish.  I decided to embellish the two clear bottles.  For the clear wine bottle, I found a shell that already had a hole in the top, because I am way too lazy to drill holes in stuff and I would no doubt break the shells.  And my boyfriend was at work, otherwise I would have maybe asked him to do it.  Anyway, I tied that shell around the bottle with some hemp twine, and then decided to wrap the neck of the bottle with the hemp twine.  I have to say, hemp twine is the bane of my existence.  It looks nice on the roll, but when you use it, it sheds all over the place, randomly bunches itself up and ultimately leaves pieces sticking out that look like grey pubes.  I trimmed off the pubes after I wrapped the neck of the bottle.  In retrospect, wrapping something that is just below something that is going to be on fire in hemp cord is probably not a great idea.  But I like to live on the edge.

For the smaller whiskey bottle, I used an iridescent green plastic gem that I tied around the bottle with some thin iridescent ribbon.  Then I wrapped the ribbon around the neck of the bottle.

In general, I think that wrapping the necks of the bottles might be a bit too much of a fire hazard.  Might be best to just stick with hanging a charm around the bottle.  Or hot gluing something on to the bottle.  I’ll let you know if mine end up catching on fire.  So far, they’ve been okay.


For the caps, I decided to fancy things up by hot glueing a shell onto one, and another green gem onto the other.  A word of caution here if you’re using copper pipe.  Copper is a really excellent conductor of heat.  Be careful when applying hot glue to copper and then touching the copper.  The only thing that burns more than hot glue is copper that has had hot glue applied to it.  Or so I’ve been told.  You could use E6000 if you’re a wimp, but then you’d be sitting around holding your embellishments until tomorrow because E6000 takes forever to set.  Hot glue is magic.


So there you have it, homemade tiki torches.  Enjoy your bottles, and keep mosquitoes away.

IMG_1041 IMG_1043 IMG_1045 IMG_1047 IMG_1048

I have tons of bottles and nobody needs that many tiki torches, so stay tuned for other bottle related stuff coming soon.

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Tinted glass jars


Last weekend I was looking at my friend’s Pinterest boards and she had pinned a bunch of stuff to do with Mason jars.  Most of the time I don’t love Mason jar crafts, but I have been obsessed with bottles and jars because I always figure I am going to do awesome things with them for Halloween (and actually did do some awesome things this past Halloween), but I still had a bunch of plain glass jars I’d been saving for some unknown purpose.  Anyway, I had pretty much decided to toss the jars when I saw this post about making tinted glass jars on my friend’s Pinterest board and decided to save the jars after all.  The weird thing is, right after I finished looking at her boards, all but one of the the pins on a couple of her boards disappeared, and I would be super mad if I were her.

So last night, I decided it was time to deal with these jars and I enlisted my kid to help, because although he’s a teenager, he still likes to make stuff, especially if making the stuff seems sort of science experimenty, which this does.  And as a mother of a teenage boy, having him be distracted by making stuff is the only way I can get him to talk to me about stuff and not play video games and watch YouTube videos.  So win-win.  You could also do this with little kids because everything you’re using is safe.

If you’ve ever read about any of my craft attempts before, you know that I have a long history of not following instructions.  That was not the case here.  In this case, I read all the instructions, and the comments.  And I followed them.  Which is  how I know that some of the instructions are better off not followed.

This is actually quite easy to do, however, it is messy and time consuming, but most of the time is waiting around time.


Here’s what you need:

  • Jars.  We used various food jars that I’d saved
  • Mod Podge Gloss (I also made a couple with Mod Podge Glitter and that worked out okay too)
  • Food Colouring
  • Mixing bowls and stuff to stir with
  • Paper towel and trays and stuff to clean up

So the short method of how to do this is:

  • Make sure your jars are clean
  • Put Mod Podge in a bowl and add food colouring of your choice until you have a colour that you like (or you give up on being able to make a colour that you think you like — check out my notes below though, really all the colours are good, even if they look gross at first)
  • Mix it up
  • Dump it into a jar and swirl it around until the jar is completely covered
  • Dump any remaining mixture back into the mixing bowl or into another jar
  • Turn your jar upside-down on something for a while to let the remaining mixture drip out (otherwise you will have a pool of glue in the bottom of your jar and it might not dry well).  The original post said to wait an hour.  I waited more like an hour and half to two hours.
  • Put the drained jars in the oven at 225 for a while until the glue is dry.  The original post said 45 minutes.  I left mine in the oven over 2 hours.

The long drawn out version with all my explanations:

  • I don’t know the exact amounts of Mod Podge and food colouring you need to cover a jar.  It depends on the size of the jar, how dark you want the tint to be and what kind of coverage you want.  I like deep, jewel colours, so I went very heavy on the food colouring.  I would say that you likely need less Mod Podge than you think — there can be a lot of waste.  I did end up re-using mixtures and adding different colours to try and change things up.  That’s how I got the brown jar, which was actually a pleasant surprise.
  • On food colouring — we just used what we had, and sadly we were pretty much out of red, so that left us with blue, yellow and green.  Later on I managed to find some neon food colouring that I had stashed somewhere, and let me say, I totally recommend that neon stuff for this project — the colours are fantastic.  The bright purple jar is just one colour of neon food colouring.  In the future I may also try cake icing colour because they have unusual colours (like black, and clearly I will need to make Halloween themed jars this way).
  • Other posts that talk about how to do this added some water to the Mod Podge/food colouring mix.  However, I actually read all the comments, and a few people said that the jars where they used water had a bunch of streaks so I chose not to use water.  I guess some of my jars have streaks, but I don’t really care.  I think they’re supposed to look kind of rustic anyway.  The water may aid in the mixture dripping out of the jar better though.
  • The colour of your mixture will likely look nothing like the end colour of the jar.  For example, the small jar that’s a dark grey colour in the middle of the picture below turned out a beautiful dark purple.  And the kind of ugly brown one is the colour of a beer bottle and looks really cool.  Honestly, I can’t imagine a colour that I wouldn’t like.


  • The original post says to leave your jars upside-down on newspaper or paper towel to let the extra mixture drip out.  Don’t do that.  Put them on plastic or tin foil or something that glue doesn’t stick to all that well.  Mod Podge is glue.  When it drips out, some of it will get under the rim of the upside-down jar and when you try to take it off the paper, the paper will stick to the rim of the jar, and you will be annoyed.  Or at least I was.  You can peel this off before you bake them, or scrape or sand it off afterwards, but still, better to avoid it if possible.


  • I found it was impossible to avoid at least a small puddle of mixture in the bottom of the jar.  This does not bother me as it hardened up fine in the oven.
  • I would let the mixture drip out of the jars as long as possible to avoid bigger puddles though.
  • A baking time of 2 hours worked for me.  No way they were ready after 45 minutes.
  • Speaking of baking time, I’ve read that you don’t have to bake them at all.  I imagine they would dry fine on their own but it would take a lot longer and I need instant gratification.
  • You can use glitter Mod Podge and it looks pretty cool, but not nearly as cool as I thought it would.  Maybe because the colours I made with the glitter stuff were really dark.
  • Mod Podge and food colouring are safe and non toxic, but I still wouldn’t put anything you plan to eat in these jars.
  • I have read that if you put water in the jars (e.g. to use them as vases), the paint will come off and/or the colour will turn opaque.  I have no idea.  I don’t intend to put water in them, so it doesn’t matter much to me, but just an FYI.
  • Some people mentioned that maybe painting them with a paint brush would help avoid streaks.  As I said above, I don’t really notice the streaks (or care about them when I do notice), but I have seen at least one tutorial where they painted the mixture on.  The advantage I think would be that you would have less waste if you painted them as you wouldn’t have to let the mixture drip out.  However, you’d have less coverage so if you wanted a really deep colour, you wouldn’t get it by painting.  So it’s a tradeoff.  Oh, and some people said that brush stokes are super obvious if you paint them, so who knows.
  • Speaking of painting, someone else mentioned maybe painting them on the outside so that you could use them with water.  I have no idea how you’d paint the outside of these without it being a monstrous hassle and a huge mess, so I don’t intend to do that.
  • And speaking of the outside of the jars, you may want to make sure they are cleaned of any residue of mixture that ended up on the outside before you bake them, just so you don’t bake on stuff that makes them look bad.



So that’s it.  I’m totally in love with these and I basically plan to never throw away another jar, much to the chagrin of my boyfriend.  I’ve also got some ideas for trying to make them with cool designs, so if that works out, I will come back with another post.


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I can’t sleep because of this

So today, someone I’m friends with on Facebook posted a link to this article that talks about a proposed amendment to a Canadian trans rights bill that would essentially put transgender people in the position of having to use the washroom/changeroom of their biological gender versus their gender identity.  So, if you were born with a penis, you use the men’s bathroom.  If you were born with a vagina, you use the women’s bathroom.  Gender identity be damned.

According to those proposing the amendment,  it is so “This act will no longer allow biological males to identify as female and gain access to vulnerable persons.”  They also believe that the current bill “allows for pedophiles to take advantage of legislation that we have in place”

Anyway, the originally poster of the article expressed her disgust with this amendment, and a few people (myself included) agreed.  Because from my perspective, I’m pretty sure that the fact that a washroom or change room is labelled “women” is not what’s keeping male sexual predators and pedophiles out today.  Does a pedophile really look at the label on the door and say “oh, I can’t go in there because it’s against the law?”

It seems to me that the risk is purely imagined and not backed up by any facts or data whatsoever.  If anybody has such facts, please point me to them.

Anyway, a couple of people mentioned that allowing transgender people to use the change room that corresponds to their gender identity infringes upon the rights/security/privacy of others.

Now usually, I don’t engage in debates about stuff like this on Facebook because I’m generally conflict avoidant, but these days, I’m trying to stay true to myself, so I decided to engage.  And because I honestly didn’t get it, I asked what rights were being taken away from others.  I mean, it’s by definition a public bathroom, so therefore, only minimal privacy should be expected.  Most public places are not particularly secure to begin with.

And the only answer I got boiled down to “people would be uncomfortable”.  What about the situation where an adult male was changing beside a young girl.  Does that young girl’s discomfort not count for something?  And that this would allow anyone to use any change room or washroom. It would be naive to think that this would not be putting children at risk.

Umm.  Really?  I’m a pretty smart person, and yet I remain confused.  How were you ever sure of the biological gender of the people in the bathroom with you?  It’s not like there’s an attendant at the door that asks everyone to drop their pants for an equipment check on the way in.

Do you really think that if a biologically male transgender person walked into a women’s change room or bathroom that you’d know that they were biologically male?  I’m thinking you really wouldn’t (but I am very far from an expert on this, so would love some feedback from trans people here).  I’m thinking that person wouldn’t be flashing their penis around (and what if they have had gender reassignment surgery and no longer have a penis — do they still have to use the men’s washroom because they had a penis at birth — it’s just too confusing for me), or announcing “hey y’all, I was born a man, but my gender identity is female”.  Yeah, I don’t think so.  The point of gender identity is that the person actually IS the gender they identify with, and therefore, once they’ve embraced and accepted that gender identity, they generally look like a person of that gender.  Thus you don’t know that they were assigned a different gender at birth unless they tell you.  And you don’t get to say what gender they are.  It’s actually not any of your business.

And … discomfort.  Do we actually have a legal or constitutional right to being comfortable?  I don’t think so.  I’m uncomfortable changing around women who are skinnier than I am, so I think we should have different places for thin people to change.  Nope.  I have to deal with that discomfort.  I can change at home, I can change in a bathroom stall.  (Yes, I fully recognize it’s not the same thing, and that I’m not at risk of physical harm from women who are skinnier than me.  The sad truth is though, that women are often at risk of physical harm from men in many places, public and private.)  Also — see the previous paragraph.  You probably aren’t going to know anyway.

In the end, it comes down to perceived risk.  People perceive this to mean that anyone can use whatever bathroom they want to use (not true, people can use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity — it is not a free for all crap and change where ever you want system).  This translates into a perceived risk of harm due to the possibility that people will abuse the system.  This is a perceived risk, not a real one.  Male pedophiles prey on male children too.  Those sexual predators are already in the bathrooms and change rooms with young boys.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the real risk of harm is actually higher for biological male with a female gender identity using the men’s washroom.

In 44+ years of using public bathrooms, I can recall 2 instances of seeing a male in the women’s washroom.  One was a homeless man in a park where I had a job cleaning bathrooms.  He was also sitting in the stall with the door wide open.  He closed it pretty quick when I walked in to clean, so I figured he just hadn’t paid attention to which bathroom he walked into.  The other was last spring at the Black Sabbath concert.  Some guy came in, went into a stall, did his business and left.  No one cared.  A few people chuckled and figured he was drunk.  He wasn’t an ass, so who cares why he was in there? In fact, the only reason this was even remotely memorable to me is because there is generally no reason for a man to want to use the women’s bathroom, particularly at a concert, because the line up to get in is ridiculously long.  I do not know what women do that takes such an enormous amount of time.  Honestly, I have no idea.  But that’s a subject for another day.

I have once used a men’s public bathroom.  At a bar downtown on Canada Day because I would have peed my pants waiting in the line for the women’s washroom.  None of the men seemed to care.  They were all drunk no doubt.

It’s been legal for women to walk around topless for over 20 years in Ontario.  Not once in the past 20 years have I seen a woman walking around topless.  Not once have I seen a woman topless on a beach in Ontario.  I don’t know anyone else who has either.

Just because a person can do something doesn’t mean they will.

Generally, societal norms will continue to prevail.  People, regardless of biological gender or gender identity, will use the bathroom and change room that they feel most comfortable using.  People will not start pretending to be trans so they can do creepy things, unless they were creepy people to begin with.

I would have hoped we’d have more important things to concern ourselves with these days than the plumbing of the person sitting in the bathroom stall next to you.

I decided to stop engaging in the Facebook discussion, because I felt like nothing useful would come of it.  But I couldn’t sleep because I kept going over and over this in my mind.

Maybe I’ll be able to sleep now.

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Unicorn fibers and the best and worst of humanity

I went to Florida last week.  Took my kids and we stayed with my parents.  In 8 days we went to 5 theme parks (6 if you count Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure as 2 parks), Downtown Disney, and an airboat ride.  According to my Fitbit, we walked somewhere between 10000 and 20000 steps every day.  And my feet felt every single step by the end of the day.  Fun, but exhausting.

Disney is such an interesting experience.  You see both the best and the worst of humanity at a Disney park.  Just the parks themselves are amazing — how they transport you to a different world.  All of this exists because of a man, who in fact died relatively young.  You see great things at Disney — people being kind and considerate to their fellow humans.  Kids meeting heros, adults remembering what it’s like to be a kid.  One person gave me a rain poncho as the kids and I boarded a raft ride that was bound to get us soaked.  And you see things that make you shake your head.  People who don’t care whether they take you out with their stroller.  People pushing you aside because THEY NEED TO GET ON THE RIDE FIRST AT ALL COSTS.  It’s pretty nutty.


The most magical place on earth. The crane in the background detracts a little from the magic, but hey, you can’t have everything.


So in addition to walking 47 miles or about 75 km and over 108,000 steps, I bought a pair of jeans.  This is really big news for me, because generally, I cannot find jeans that fit me properly.  If they fit in the waist, they are huge in the hips and butt.  If they fit in the hips and butt, they are not ever going to button up in the waist, no matter what kind of magic I try.  If I get a pair that approximately fits, they generally either fall down and I have to hike them up repeatedly (belt or no belt), a la Chris Farley when he was that motivational speaker living in a van down by the river.  Or I get a pair of those “comfort fit” ones that have no fly or zipper and and super stretchy, in which case I am dealing with them constantly rolling down.  Oh, and don’t get me started on this whole skinny jeans thing.  Skinny jeans are just a big nope for me.  My kingdom for a pair of flare leg jeans.  Dear 70s, where did you go?  Or failing flare leg, at least boot cut.  Please, please, please.  For once in my life, let me get what I want. Lord knows it would be the first time (with an appropriate nod to Morrissey).

Hope springs eternal, so I continue to try on jeans, because hey, maybe I’ll find a pair that works.  And my some miracle of unicorns, rainbows and glitter, I actually found a pair of jeans that fit.  They do up in the waist without constricting. Without need of lying down and using a coat hanger to pry up the zipper.  And when I walk or sit or stand, they stay put.  The waist does not roll down.  They do not fall off.  They are not huge in the hips or ass.  They don’t seem to lose their shape when I wear them.  They are a stylish colour.  They don’t look like mom jeans.  And — wait for it — they are flare leg!!  I’m not sure how many unicorns needed to be shaved to get the fiber to make these magical jeans, but I give my sincere thanks to those unicorns and unicorn shavers for providing me with the first pair of truly wearable jeans I’ve had since … I dunno when.  I’m sure it’s been at least 25 years.  Probably more.

And for that alone, the trip was worthwhile.

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Sort head from ass

It’s a brand new year and things are happening.  Launching a new business (go over there and sign up for my newsletter) while still working a full time job, working on feeling good, all the usual.  Hoping the pain in my knee disappears before volleyball starts up again next week.  And I still have a lot more of the “I made stuff” posts to write.  Maybe I’ll save them for closer to next Christmas.  We’ll see.  In previous years, in January I would be writing about whether I’d stuck to my diet/exercise/self-flagellation program and getting on the scale and wringing my hands about whether I’d lost weight.  This year is different.  This year is all about feeling good.

So it was upsetting to me that in contrast to the feeling good that I want to feel, by the time I got to work today I was in a super bad mood.  I don’t know why.  I’d had a good weekend.  Watched a movie with the kids, had family game night (Scrabble, which we won’t do again because holy slow and boring) made homemade pizzas (including the crust), Glee is back for another season.  I spent $114 on sports helmets that my kids will only use once but are required for school trips (and decided to be thankful that a), I could get the helmets used so they were only $114 and not closer to $400, and b) I can afford to spend $114 on helmets when many people cannot).  After seeing The Maze Runner on Friday night, my son was actually talking excitedly about reading a book, which is practically a miracle because nothing but Minecraft handbooks has ever motivated that kid to read of his own accord.  He even went and bought the books with his Christmas gift card.  I prepped a whole bunch of food for the week, so I was feeling pretty productive.  And I’d gotten to level 50 in Candy Crush (I just started playing and I refuse to pay for anything or connect it to Facebook or ask friends, so I think it will take me a while to get to any kind of impressive level).  But for some reason this morning I woke up pissed off and making a list in my head of all of the things I hate about everybody and all of the wrongs that have been done to me recently.

And then I asked myself “how is this helping me?”  And I revisited how I wanted to feel (Authentic, Magical, Expansive) and realized I didn’t feel any of those things when making lists of (real and imagined) wrongs that have been done to me.  So I decided it was time to sort my head from my ass and concentrate on the things I could make better.

So I read a few inspirational blogs.  And I updated my own motivational boards and re-visited the actions I want to take for January.  And reflected on how I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far.

And it worked.  My mood improved.  I felt better.  In fact, I had a good day.

It’s a powerful thing, this stopping and thinking about how I want to feel.  It has the power to turn a crappy day into a good day pretty quickly.  I’m impressed.

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Homemade sugar scrubs

I continue to make all the things.

This weekend, among many other things, I decided to make some homemade sugar scrubs.  I decided to start with this one for mint sugar scrub.  Seemed easy enough, and I actually had mint essential oil and green food colouring.  So it seemed like a good choice.

Generally, the recipe for almost all sugar scrubs seems to be a ratio of 25% oil to 75% sugar, with whatever essential oil you want.  And tiny amounts of food colouring if you want colour.

This particular one called for 1/2 cup coconut oil, 1.5 to 2 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon peppermint extract (I used about 6 or 8 drops of mint essential oil) and one drop of green food colouring.  Basically, you melt the coconut oil and combine everything until you get the texture you like.

So I did that, and it came together pretty nicely.  It made enough for 2 containers (about 6 oz each).  I put one in my shower to try the next day.  Only to find it absolutely and completely rock hard.  Because coconut oil is solid at room temperature, and I have no idea why I didn’t think of this when I was making it.  But this was more solid than coconut oil.  It hurt my fingers trying to get it out of the jar.  Maybe my house is colder than most people’s (but I don’t think so), or maybe there’s something about adding the sugar to coconut oil that makes it turn into a rock.  So I decided something needed to be done.  I figured I would add some oil that is liquid at room temperature.  So I chiseled all the sugar scrub back into a bowl and I added some baby oil.  I’m not sure how much — I just stirred it until it was kind of gloopy, figuring the coconut oil would make it more solid when everything was done.  It was a new bottle of baby oil, so the amount missing from the bottle is how much I used.


I put it back into the two jars and let it set.  After an hour or so, I noticed that the baby oil was starting to separate and sit on top of the coconut oil.  No good.  So I opened the jars, stirred everything up to mix them again, and then put the jars in the fridge.  I figured that the cold would help the coconut oil set faster — not giving time for the baby oil to separate.  I further reasoned that once the coconut oil had set, the baby oil wouldn’t separate again.  Because that’s how I wanted it to go.

Then I forgot about it until I went to get some food out of the fridge several hours later.  The scrub had solidified and nothing had separated.  I took the jars out of the fridge and let them set out at room temperature.  Still no separation.  I’ve been using this scrub in the shower the last couple of days and it’s quite nice.  The oils are not separating, it’s easy to get out of the jar, it makes my skin feel really nice and the mixture of mint and coconut scents is appealing.  The texture is kind of like sticky/slightly runny beach sand.  Perhaps a little more runny than most people like their sugar scrub, but I’m really pleased with it.  This is a win!

I also decided to try a honey citrus sugar scrub, which I saw here.  I had clementines on my counter, so that’s what I used.

This one asks for 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tsp of honey and 2 tsp of citrus zest.


I’ll be honest — I didn’t measure the honey or citrus zest.  I put the zest of 1 clementine in.  I also was inspired to put some of the juice in, so I squeezed in half a clementine worth of juice.  I’m pretty sure I used more than 1 tsp of honey.  I also put in some orange extract with the hope of making it smell more orangey, but that didn’t really work — essential oil is what’s needed here, and I didn’t have any orange essential oil.


The finished product was a little more sticky due to the honey, and more oily than the mint scrub.  I think if I made it again I would add more sugar, as I increased the liquid ratio by adding more honey and the clementine juice.  The colour is really pretty and it feels nice on the skin.  I’d still like more of a citrusy smell, so I’d add some essential oil.

It fit nicely in this small Mason jar — I think it’s an 8 oz jar.

Then it was on to coffee sugar scrub, inspired by this post.



This recipe called for 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (I used olive oil because that’s what I had), 1/3 cup brown sugar (I used Demerara sugar because I had some that I’d never used and figure this would be a good application for it and also because I’m saving my brown sugar to make fudge), and 3 tablespoons of coffee.  I used Starbucks Caramel coffee because I thought it would smell nice and now I can call it trendy because it has Starbucks in it.  I also added a couple of pinches of cinnamon because I love cinnamon.

So the first thing you need to do here, if you’re anything like me, and you buy Demerara sugar cause it seems cool and you’re sure you’ll do something with it, but you never do, so you end up with a great big sugar rock, is to find a way to get the sugar rock into something you can work with.  A quick way to do this is to put your sugar in a plastic bag or container with a couple of wet paper towels and microwave it for a little while — maybe a minute or so.  Be careful, because the paper towel will be steaming hot.  This works like a charm — I’ve done this a few times with hard sugar.  Apparently sticking a cut up apple in the container with the sugar also works, but you have to wait overnight for that, and who has the patience?

I mixed everything up.  This makes a very coarse grained scrub that isn’t very liquidy and it smells amazing.  I haven’t used it yet because trying out all these scrubs will soon result in my having no skin left.  Apparently it’s supposed to help with cellulite.  I bet that’s a pile of crap.  But it smells good and I imagine it will leave my skin feeling good, so that’s enough for me.

One other thing I tried out, but don’t have pictures of is making a hand scrub.  There’s a post about it here.  Basically you take 5 tablespoons of sugar, add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap of your choice and mix it up.  It makes a really nice scrub for your hands.  However, I found that overnight the soap separated from the sugar and sat on top (other people mentioned the same thing in the comments on the post).  I put them in small containers, so I just mix it up with my finger before I use it, but I’d like to find a way to stop the separation, so I think that I will try it again and add a little more sugar to the mix to see if that makes a difference.  I imagine this will be great stuff to use in the summer when I’m digging around in the garden.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with this experiment.  Now that I know how easy this stuff is to make, I’m unlikely to be buying anything like this anymore.  One of my next experiments in this area will be to make a sugar scrub body wash.  I see the purchase of a bunch of essential oil in my future.

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Christmas balls stuffed with … stuff

I got home from work yesterday to find out that the Topboxes I ordered on Black Friday had arrived.  So that was fun — 4 boxes and one little pouch full of treasures — makeup, hair stuff, bath stuff, nail polish.  Lots of stuff for a good price.

Anyway, each of my 4 boxes came packed with this stuff.


Pretty packing stuff


This is the kind of stuff I hate to throw out because I’m sure I’ll have a use for it some day but then I end up storing it and it takes up space and then I finally toss it out years later.  But since I’ve been in such a crafty mood lately, I looked at that stuff and said to myself “hey, that stuff would look good inside those Christmas balls I bought.”

Last week I bought these empty plastic Christmas ball ornaments.  They were $5 per pack at Walmart.  They come in 3 sizes, this is the largest and they come 4 to a pack.  Each size is the same prices, but there are more in the box (meaning the medium sized ones have 6 in the box and the little ones have 9 in the box).


This is the large size ornament


I bought them because I was going to make some glittered ornaments (which turn out to be easy to make and quite pretty — but I’ll make a separate post on that).  Anyway, I was inspired by looking that the crinkly packing stuff, which had a significant amount of gold in it.  So I set out to make an ornament stuffed with the gold crinkly packing stuff.

This turned out to be rather easy to do — just stuff the gold stuff in the ornament until you’re satisfied — but also a bit of a pain in the ass, because I wanted JUST gold in the ornament and this stuff was all stuck together, and it took a while to just pick out the gold.  I like gold.  I think it probably took about 15 minutes to make it.

I’m happy with it though.


Ornament during the stuffing process


Then I thought, hey why not just stuff the crinkly stuff in all mixed up like it is.  That one took maybe 2 minutes to make.  Maybe not even that long.

Then I started thinking, “Hey, what else could I stick in these balls?”  I happened upon some red beads I had from another crafty endeavour last year, and decided to try those.  That’s another 2 minute project.


Beads everywhere


And then I thought of this jar of glitter gravel I got for $2 at the dollar store, and decided that would look good in the balls too.  You might want the help of a small funnel for this one.  And pour the gravel very slowly through the funnel, otherwise it will jam up and not come out.


Blurry picture of the $2 glitter gravel


Then I grabbed some glass jewel like things I had intended for another project and started filling a ball with them.  I ended up recovering those for their intended purpose, but they looked nice.


Glass jewel things


Then I thought — old jewelry.  So I rounded up some beads from broken bracelets and necklaces, and stuffed them in the balls.


This one was made from stones on an old broken necklace



And this one from the beads from a couple of broken bracelets


Really, the options are only limited by the size of the opening.  Tinsel would be nice.  Maybe even tissue paper.  Ribbons.  Small toys.  Cat fur.  Okay, maybe not cat fur, but I do have an abundance of that.  And there’s no reason that they necessarily have to be Christmas themed.  Depending on what you put inside the ball, you could hang it in a window year round.

And as fate would have it, today I stumbled across this Buzzfeed post that gives 39 ways to decorate a glass ornament.  I’m sure many, although not all, of them would work on plastic too.

Some tips:

  • I found bright colours worked better.  I just liked the look better.  So I’m happier with the red, white and gold ones than the ones I made from beads.
  • If you’re using beads on a string like I did, when you get close to the top of the ornament, you’ll likely need to cut the beads into smaller strands so you can better shove them in.
  • If you use glitter gravel, shake it down as you go.  It settles a lot.  Of course you could also leave the ornament partially full.  That would be nice too.
  • If you’re using something with any weight to it, consider what you’ll be doing with the ornament.  Even the red plastic beads, which were fairly light, would weigh down a Christmas tree quite a bit.  Glass beads even more.  If you’re going to hang the ornaments, you may want to seal up the opening with some fairly strong glue, otherwise the plug (is that what you call it?) will fall out of the ornament when you hang it.

The final results


In the end, this is super easy to do, really quick, gives nice results, and you could do it even with really young children.

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Nail polish mugs and The Sure Thing

Craft trials continue.  The other night, I decided to take a crack at these watercolour mugs that I saw over on Poppytalk.  The idea being that you can make pretty mugs by dipping them in nail polish that’s floating on water.  Apparently people do manicures this way?  I have no idea.  I rarely paint my nails anymore because they get chipped within hours and that irritates me.

So, I bought 4 plain white mugs from the dollar store for $1.25 each and I have tons of nail polish. I figured that this would be a cheap thing to do, and if it didn’t work out, then I’m only out $6.  Or not really even, because I could probably still use the mugs.


Dollarama mugs


And, imagine my surprise and happiness when I found out that The Sure Thing was on TV that night!  I love John Cusack.  Love him.  It was on Turner Classic Movies.  I didn’t even know that we got that channel.  So I got to make these mugs with The Sure Thing in the background.

Right.  So I’d done a little experimentation with this technique a couple of days before, and found that I preferred the results when using a metallic nail polish.  So I went and rounded up all of my metallic nail polishes.  Your mileage may vary, depending on the look you’re going for.  Glittery nail polish did not work at all.  Not enough colour.  You will also want to have nail polish remover and paper towel or some other such thing on hand for this.  I also had a wooden skewer, which was supposed to be to make a pattern in the nail polish, but in the end was more useful for removing nail polish scum from the water.

Put some warm water in a little tin foil pan and proceeded to drop nail polish in.



These are the nail polishes I used in my original trial. The purple and blue were the ones that came right off when washed. I liked the effect of the gold metallic one better, and it seemed more durable. FWIW, the purple and blue are brand new polishes, the gold I’ve had for a long time.



Based on the trial results, I rounded up a bunch of metallic colours. And nail polish remover.


Here’s what I experienced:

  • Some of the time, the nail polish landed in a ball at the bottom of the dish.  Apparently this was because I poured the nail polish from too far away from the water.  Hold the polish close to the water.

Nail polish floating. Note the drops stuck to the bottom of the pan.


  • I needed way more than a drop of nail polish to make this work at all.
  • The nail polish forms a scum on top of the water really quickly.  It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of polish you use, how old it is, or what, it scums up fast.  So you have to work really quickly on this project.  Really, really quickly.

Scummed up nail polish.


  • The idea of using a skewer to make a pattern in the nail polish didn’t work for me at all.  The polish just spread out over the surface of the water, and if I took the time to dip the skewer in to make a pattern, the nail polish had scummed up already, resulting in the skewer collecting the nail polish scum.  Which is handy if you just want to change the colour.
  • I had a hard time making nice looking designs on the mugs.  I think they kind of look like coloured tongues.  You be the judge.  Apparently there is a bit of a dipping technique here.  The original poster mentions in a comment that she dipped hers straight down into the nail polish blob then rolled it to the other side.  This was in the comments on the post though, and of course I didn’t read those until after I did the work.

One of my original, test mugs. I like the gold, and the patterns are okay on this one.


  • I did a couple of these several days earlier to test things out.  I found that even after 3 days of drying and being left alone, the polish came off with almost no effort at all.  Like with soap and water.  I ended up taking nail polish remover and starting over with one of the 2 mugs I tested the technique on.  The second mug was the one done with metallic paint — it held up better, but would still be very easy to scratch the polish off.  This could be because of the finish on the mugs I bought, or because of the type of nail polish I used — no idea.  This time, I set all the mugs in a 200 degree (F) oven for 45 minutes to see if I could bake the finish on.  Haven’t touched them since though, so I don’t know if it would work.  It later occurred to me that nail polish is flammable, and maybe heating it up isn’t an awesome idea, but nothing caught on fire.  So do that step at your own risk.
  • For once, I actually read the instructions, but it turned out that this is one where I should have read all the comments, because there were some very helpful technique tips from a person named Kayla, which are, in summary:  use a smaller, shallower dish — the polish spreads out and dries too fast if the dish is too large;  using more polish keeps it from drying out too fast; work really fast; drop the polish in from close to the surface of the water.

The 2 colours actually happened because there was still a little bit of red in the pan when I added the purple. I think it would be more interesting the pattern was better.



Went for a 2 colour technique here. The second colour is actually a purple nail polish, but looks black on the mug. I like the combination, but again, not the pattern. And you can see how the nail polish scum affected the mug here, but I was able to pick it off.



This red nail polish actually formed the most interesting patterns on the water. I think with an improvement in my dipping technique, I might have liked this better.


Bottom line on this — meh.  They’re okay.  Not as nice as the ones in the original post, which is maybe because I don’t have the right touch.  I also kind of rate crafts on how relaxing they are to do, and this one isn’t all that relaxing.  You have to work too fast.  The marbled clay dishes on the other hand, were relaxing to make.

So for me — watercolour mugs — not a Sure Thing.  It would not be tonight 🙂  I enjoyed the movie though.

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That looks easy – Marbled Clay Ring Dish

So in my must do ALL the crafts frenzy, I came across this tutorial for making marbled ring dishes out of clay.  They looked pretty cool and I figured “how hard can it be?” so I decided I would make some of these myself.

I should start out by saying that I have never made anything out of clay.  The closest I have come to using clay is playing with PlayDoh.  I remember having a PlayDoh set that was a barbershop,  where you could squeeze PlayDoh hair out of these little figures that had holes in their heads.  Kinda looked like worms growing out of their heads.  And then of course you couldn’t get the PlayDoh out of those little holes and you’d sit there poking each one with a toothpick.  Or give up and just let it dry and harden.

Anyway, the point being, my experience with clay was previously limited to PlayDoh.

So in a mega shopping extravaganza on Sunday I decided to buy some clay.  I bought this exact sample pack of Sculpey clay.  There are 12 different colours, each of them 1 oz.  It had lots of purple and I like purple.


Clay. Notice the lack of white, grey and black.


Of course, I had failed to thoroughly read the instructions in the tutorial, where it was suggested that each dish should include grey, black and a lot of white.  Ooops.  There was only 1 oz of white and grey in the pack and no black at all.  I used up all of my white in my first completely failed attempt, which I won’t even go into here.

Anyway, I figured, what the hell, I will make these dishes without white or black and it will be fine.

I pretty much followed the instructions in the tutorial, substituting whatever the lightest colour I had remaining was for white.  I am reasonably happy with the results.  I used up all of my clay and I made 4 dishes.  Would have been 5 if I didn’t screw up the first one.

I did this on my coffee table with a cheesy Lifetime Christmas movie on in the background.  The movie was called Love at the Christmas Table and it starred the girl (Danica McKellar) who played Winnie in The Wonder Years (which shows you how old I am, because I’m pretty sure I was over 20 when The Wonder Years aired) and a guy who I recognized but couldn’t place and he turned out to be Dustin Milligan who grew up in Yellowknife (which is pretty crazy) and was the love interest/friend of Annie in the first season of 90120.  Not the original Beverly Hills, 90210, but the new one that came out in 2008 or whatever.  Which shows you how immature I am, because I binge-watched the whole damn thing on Netflix not all that long ago.  Oh yeah, and the movie also starred Lea Thompson but it took me a while to recognize her, because I was expecting her to look like she did in Back to the Future.  Again, I am old.

Anyway, you may want different background noise, or a different movie, or wine or something like that.  But for me, it was Love at the Christmas Table.  And Fresca.

Here are some of my observations, which might be useful if you’re a newb like me.

You probably should read the instructions.  While I’m happy with my dishes (especially the blue/green one), I think I’d be happier with the others if I had more white in the mix, and if I’d had some black.  I’d also have avoided some frustration if I had re-read the Sculpey package and baked my first 2 bowls at 275 rather than 200, which caused me to curse my stupid oven for taking longer than necessary.

Before you get going, do search out a bowl that will serve as the mold for your dish.  I had only one bowl that really suited, so I had to bake them one at a time.  A 6 inch diameter circle is bigger than you think.


The baking bowl


When you’re doing the step where you roll the clay snake out long to mix the colours and then re-twist and re-roll it, my advice is to do this until the colours look marbley.  I’m pretty sure I did it more than 2 or 3 times.


Starting to marble. Boo to the blurry picture.


I probably rolled mine out thinner than 1/4″.  Maybe 1/8″ for some of them.  They worked out fine.

I used a regular rolling pin.  I tried with glass jar but I couldn’t find one long enough and it kept making weird lines in my clay which pissed me off.

When you’ve rolled out your clay, flip it over to see which side you like best and want to be the inside of the bowl.  The two sides will look very different, and in my case, there was almost always an obviously nicer side.

You really do need a decent exacto knife or something of the sort.  I tried with a standard kitchen knife and the edge was too rough.  Be careful when you cut, because if the edges are rough, you will see it.  Some roughness is fine, but you don’t want too much.

I used a scrapbooking circle maker as the template for my bowl.  It happened to be the perfect size.  Again, 6 inches is wider than you think, and I didn’t have much around the house that was a 6 inch circle to use for a template.


Creative Memories custom cutting system to the rescue!


After cutting. I like how it sort of shimmers.

When you put your clay in the bowl, make sure you get the edges flat, otherwise you’ll have weird ripples in your bowl.  Also, all of mine are a little bit higher on one side than the other, in spite of the fact that I was sure I put them in the bowl evenly.  I’m okay with that, but if you’re not, you might want to be extra careful.

Combine the cutoffs from your bowls to make one final bowl.  I had enough cutoffs from the first three to make a fourth.  Even if it’s ugly and you end up throwing it out, well, you were gonna throw out the clay anyway.

Consider making other cool shapes.  I made one using a sort of wavy vase.  I don’t love it as much as I thought I would, but it’s still pretty neat.  I think baking the clay in an interesting shell or something would make for a cool bowl, especially if you used some delicate, shell-like colours.


The wavy one. This was made with the cutoffs of the other bowls.


Red Sculpey clay likes to release its colour.  Which is okay on your hands and table (or maybe not, depending on what your table is made of) because it washes off easily.  However, in making a bowl, red takes over.  I will probably limit the use of red to a small strip with lots of white if I make more of these.

I used gold acrylic paint (from the dollar store) that I already had to paint the edges.  It worked fine.  It needed 3 coats.  I decided to paint the bottom of one of the bowls gold.  It also needed 3 coats.  No picture, because I didn’t finish it.


With a gold edge

My boyfriend was at work, and I sent him a picture of my creation.  He said “what does it do?”  So I sent him a picture of it in action.


The bowl, hard at work, holding some rocks.

All in all, I think these are nice.  I especially like the green/blue one.  I do believe I’ll buy more clay, with a heavy emphasis on white, and make a few more of these.


You can see in the red bowl how much the red takes over. And the brownish-multi-colour one is nicer than expected, given that it looked like dog poo when I was rolling it.

Back soon, with more adventures in crafting!



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So many things

Wow, it’s been a while.  So many things going on in the last few months.  Kids back to school, trying to launch a business, work work work, renovations, Halloween (which is always an event at our house).  Cleaning up after Halloween.  Putting out Christmas stuff.

Avoidance of writing.

Somewhere around mid-November, I start to feel like I want to do ALL THE CRAFTS.  So I spend lots of time on Pinterest looking for stuff I can make, Christmas related or just neat things, preferably that aren’t geared towards toddlers.  I’m somewhat crafty, but I have the propensity not to read instructions very well, and not to be very patient when I do stuff.  And let’s face it, some of those tutorials on the interwebs just aren’t realistic.

I did make over 100 paper flowers for my Day of the Dead party.  The tutorial was good (although it says you need crepe paper, which to me is that crinkly stretchy stuff that comes on rolls and you use it to make streamers for parties.  I used tissue paper.  Bought out the dollar store).  This is a very time consuming process though.  It takes forever to make these flowers.  I ended up making only half of the number I intended because it took so damn long.  Wine helps with this process immensely.  Open a flower, take a sip of wine.  Open another flower, take another sip of wine.  Of course there is a point at which the wine starts interfering with productivity, but by then it’s probably time to stop anyway.


Anyway, for the next little while, I’ll be working on making some stuff, and I’ll be posting about my experiences here.  So those of you who, like me, don’t bother really reading the directions and and are rather impatient can see how some of these things might turn out if you were to attempt them.

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