what do you want to do?

cleaning (5) craft (26) DIY food (7) niftyman (4) nondairy (18) vegan (11)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

DIY Mustache Mug

Desperate for a stocking stuffer for my husband, I searched online for a mustache mug. I tried urbanoutfitters.com but they were sold out. Next, I tried cafepress.com. They had some, but I would have to pay an additional $21 for next-day shipping. Ouch! Wait a minute, what am I doing? I can make this myself. Better yet, I would delegate this project to Chloe & Phoebe. We used some Crate and Barrel coffee cups we had in our cabinet.

Step 1. Freehand mustache with a washable marker.
If you make a mistake, just wipe it off and start over.

Step 2. Once you're happy with your mustache,
trace outline with a Sharpie.

Step 3. Color in mustache with Sharpie.

Step 4. Take out porcelain paint, available at Michaels.

Step 5. Apply porcelain paint.

The Pebeo porcelain paint will make the mustache dishwasher safe. Follow the directions on the jar of paint: Let paint dry for 24 hours. Bake in 300-degree oven for 35 minutes.

Some tips:
  • Make sure you consider whether the cup user is left-handed or right. Chloe accidentally made a mug for a leftie.
  • If you decide to make a bushy mustache, have a fine-tipped paint brush on hand. Phoebe lost a lot of the details of her mustache because our brush was too thick.
  • Check your paint for drips within the 24 hours of drying time. We hid the mugs in Chloe's room so Allen wouldn't see them. Luckily, we checked them and wiped off drips before the paint dried completely.

So cute! Every time someone uses one of these coffee cups, I get a good chuckle. Now I want to make a mug for Allen to take to work. And one for me. Maybe one for my dad. Mustache mugs for everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

DIY Gift Bag

Chloe got a bunch of headbands to give her friends for Christmas presents. They were too wide for the small gift bags we had at home so we had to make our own. These were inspired by the cute bags you get from Sanrio, only we used a series of origami folds to make the bottom "3D" for puffy items.

You can use this technique for presents anytime of the year.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Marbled Glass Ornaments

Every year I tell myself to pick up some fancy ornaments the day after Christmas. But of course the last thing I want to do the day after is brave the crowds. Then I saw a segment on decorating glass ornaments with paint on "The Chew" that looked really easy. I got a set of six ornaments at Michaels for $4.99 (regular price: $5.99) and dug some acrylic paint out from the garage. (Chloe's inherited a big box of leftover paint from her fifth-grade teacher.)

Glass ball ornament
Acrylic paint

*The guy on "The Chew" said to squeeze some glaze into the bottom of the glass ornament and then add the acrylic paint. I didn't have any glaze and couldn't find any at Michaels but read online that glaze is a medium used to thin out paint. I figured it's just so the paint would move around easier when you swirl it. I used the thinner acrylic paint ($.059 variety) as the glaze and the thicker Ceramcoat as the paint.

Some tips:
  • Even though it sounds restrictive, try to limit your kids to two or three colors. I selected red and antique white, because I wanted the ornaments to look like peppermint candy.
  • If you want to create vertical stripes, tip your paint from the bottom of the ornament to the opening. Then rotate the ornament about a quarter turn sideways so it spreads out a little and doesn't look like a harsh stripe.
  • Try not to use too much paint at the beginning. Otherwise, you'll end up with one big blob of color at the bottom of your ornament. And once that coats the bottom, anything you add on top will not show through that initial color.
  • You can reuse the excess paint that drips out of the ornament. I ended up with a pretty pink that went well with my peppermint theme.
  • Don't stick a chopstick in the paint to create the marble effect. I found out the hard way that this just results in the chopstick scraping paint away from the glass. Luckily, my paint was still wet so I just shook the ornament and the paint covered up my mistake. In fact, the shaking created pleasant pink parts.   

At about a dollar an ornament, this project would be a great activity that doubles as a favor for a kids holiday party. The only catch is that the paint takes days to dry so your guest will have to continue drying them at home or you can deliver them a few days later.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Nondairy Whipped Topping

Desperate for a non-dairy whipped topping, I decided to give whipping coconut milk a try. I found an unsweetened coconut milk (A Taste of Thai brand) at Target for under $3. Not sure if that's a good price but it saved me a trip to Whole Foods. The ingredients include coconut milk, water, and guar gum. Most recipes recommend refrigerating the coconut milk overnight but I was impatient.

Put can in freezer for about half an hour.
For some reason the label was upside down.
Your can opener will figure it out.

Thick "cream" should rise to the top.

Scoop out thick white part only. Leave water behind.

Beat with handheld mixer.

Looks promising. Add powdered sugar to taste.

Wow! Whips up in less than a minute.

I didn't look at the contents of the can before sticking it in the freezer so I'm not sure if it's already nice and thick because of the fat in the coconut. Maybe the guar gum helped, too. You can just open the can and take a peek. If it looks thick, it's ready to whip.

Verdict: If you like the taste of coconut, this works great! Too bad Phoebe and I don't like the strong coconut taste. The search for a non-dairy whipped topping continues. . . .

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Nondairy Creamy Corn Soup

My mom used to dress up canned tomato soup and canned cream of corn with an egg flower. Of course she also managed to work a full-time job and serve three different Chinese dishes on a weeknight. On most nights, I'm proud of myself if I have a slow-cooker meal waiting at home when we get back from dance. The other day Phoebe was off from school and asked for a hot lunch of creamy corn soup. She had watched us all eat a corn soup with dairy at Curry House over the weekend, while she had none. OK, now I felt bad. Not bad enough to go to the grocery store though. Here's what I came out with from things in my pantry and refrigerator.

Three simple ingredients: corn, chicken broth, egg

Step 1: Puree drained corn.
Step 2: Add to saucepan.
Step 3: Add chicken broth.
Step 4: Add drained corn.
Step 5: Crack egg into broth can, beat,
and set aside.
Step 6: Bring soup to a boil.
Step 7: Add egg to boiling soup
and immediately turn off heat.
Secret to billowy egg flower: don't stir!
Creamy soup without the cream! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DIY Lip Gloss

When I first did an Internet search for homemade lip gloss, I found a recipe involving Vaseline petroleum jelly and pixie stix. Of course, I also saw comments that read, "Shame on you! Do you know petroleum jelly is made from petroleum oil?!" We happen to have some in our house that my husband bought for dry skin, because he's too manly to use anything gentler. I say if you already have some at home and you don't have sensitive skin, go ahead and give it a try. Having said that, I'm reluctant to use it on Phoebe who has eczema and can only tolerate pure shea butter (from L'Occitane) or aloe vera (from Whole Foods). Aveeno lotion makes her cry so I'm not sure what Vaseline will do to her--and I don't want to find out. Martha Stewart has a lip gloss recipe involving melting beeswax in a double boiler. Groan.

Here's an easy recipe for a lip gloss base from Jeannie Mai. I chose this recipe because the ingredients were not only gentle but also they wouldn't go to waste if I had a lot left over: the aloe vera gel can be used for dry skin and the coconut oil can be used in baking.

1 tsp aloe vera gel* (available at Whole Foods but cheap at Trader Joe's--$2.99)
1/2 t coconut oil (Whole Foods)
1 vitamin E capsule
Optional (vanilla, cocoa powder, berry juice)
*Note: Aloe vera gel is not the same as pure aloe vera. I bought pure aloe from Whole Foods, thinking less ingredients is better. Turns out pure aloe is very runny and won't work in this recipe. No biggie. I keep the pure aloe on my refrigerator door--it's good for treating burns in the kitchen.

After you have the base, you can flavor and color any way you like. I've read different recipes using cosmetic-grade essential oils, such as peppermint, lavender, and rose. Some people use food-grade peppermint oil, vanilla, cocoa, drink crystals. I think if it's safe enough to eat, it's probably safe to put on your lips. Keep in mind that you should use up your gloss quickly, as food will probably go rancid at some point.

If you want to add color, you can put a bit of your leftover lipstick from the end of the tube.

Or if you're worried about germs, try a few drops of berry juice for color. I keep frozen berries in my freezer so I defrosted about eight raspberries, mashed them up with a spoon, and strained out the juice.

Once your lip gloss cools and hardens to the consistency of jello jigglers, it's ready to use.

Some tips:
*If you have trouble blending your ingredients, heat in the microwave for about 10 seconds and whisk.
*If you find your coconut oil has separated after it cools, add more aloe vera gel.

Coconut oil separated.
*If the color is too light for your taste, use more berries and reduce the juice to concentrate the color.
*Once you start adding a few drops of this, a 1/4 teaspoon of that, the consistency of your base will change. If it gets too runny, add more aloe vera gel.

Before you start, collect plenty of containers. We used containers from cosmetic-counter samples. I had some from Nordstrom and Sephora. I cleaned them out with warm soapy water and then put the glass ones on the top rack of the dishwasher and wiped the plastic ones with rubbing alcohol. I suppose you can use plastic contact lens containers. I've seen plastic containers in the travel section of beauty supply stores for less than a dollar. Or if you have the nerve, you can probably ask for some the next time you visit the cosmetic counter.

Potential containers?