About Hayley Nordstrom

Posts by Hayley Nordstrom:

DIY Harry Potter Party Highlights

Harry Potter party wands labels

One thing you may not know about Katie and I is that we are both HUGE Harry Potter fangirls. I’ve read through all the books a couple times and love the movies just as much. Maybe its something to do with being in that perfect age range where I kind of grew up right along with the characters… but I can never get enough Hogwarts!

My boyfriend and I recently threw a Harry Potter themed party at our house, and of course I went all out with the DIY decorations and party games. Maybe a little overboard…whatever. I didn’t really prepare any full tutorials for a post, but I thought I would share a few highlights of my favorite Potter-themed DIYs.

Sorry for the not-so-awesome photos… I was having way to much fun to do much more than snap a couple quick shots with my phone!

DIY Harry Potter wands from chopsticks

 

Hands-down my favorite was the slew of customized wands. I made enough for each guest to get their own, and we labeled each with the type of wood and “core” it was made of. We pulled a name out of a hat for each unique wand, because after all the wand must choose the wizard.

harry potter wands with chop sticks and hot glue

The wands were made out of chopsticks and hot glue. I swirled and dripped hot glue onto each one then painted them in various woody shades once they were hardened. I even stuck some marbles or stones onto a few for more variety.

how to make a golden snitch candy

The golden snitches I made out of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and white craft feathers. A little dab of glue et voila!

DIY Hogwarts house flags harry potter party

These Hogwarts house banners were made from dollar store plastic table cloths. Talk about bang for your buck! This one only cost me $4 and I had enough of each color left to cover tables with as well. The logos I hand-painted onto some construction paper and glued on.

Harry Potter Party Ideas
The Honeydukes sign was another favorite! I kept it afterwards to hang up in my little workshop :) I repurposed our little bar cart into a Hogwarts Express “trolley” filled with all kinds of candy, including some every flavour beans! I mixed some of these into a bag of regular jelly beans. Some of them were seriously gross…

Floating candles were a fun trick! Another easy dollar store DIY made out of electric tea lights and white construction paper, hung from the ceiling with a little scotch tape and fishing line.

And there is my sorting hat! I whipped this guy up out of a cereal box, some masking tape, brown fabric, and a lot of hot glue. We sorted all of our guests into houses by rigging up a small blue tooth speaker behind the hat, and having my boyfriend call in from his cell phone from outside the window as the voice of the sorting hat. It worked surprisingly well! He could see who was sitting in the chair through the window, but since it was dark outside, no one at the party knew where his voice was coming from! Aside from a few mosquito bites for my poor assistant, it was quite a hit!

harry potter party decor spider

 

A little trail of spiders leading out the window. They are stuck on with blue sticky tack.

Chamber of Secrets Harry Potter party prop

My awesome roomie made this Chamber of Secrets prop to hang over our mantel. It is finger painted onto wax paper and hung up with tape. I love when a party prop packs a big impact value and costs next to nothing to put together! On our Hogwarts mantel you can spot a couple additional DIYs: a pink Pygmy Puff, Neville’s remembrall, the house points vials, some feather quill pens (they work!) and the Marauder’s Map!

platform 9 3:4 wall prop

And last but definitely not least, here is Mad Eye Moody and the Sorting Hat himself in front of our homemade Platform 9 3/4. The brick “wall” is a sponge painted white sheet. I also made Mad Eye Moody’s eye using an amazing Instructables tutorial I found!

If there are any fellow HP fans out there, I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my nerd party!! Maybe it is appropriate timing for some of you who are planning your Halloween costumes! If you wanna know more about any of these crafty projects, just send me an email!

Pumpkin Biscotti with White Chocolate

white chocolate pumpkin biscotti

Happy October!! Thought I would kick off our favorite month with a recipe for some pumpkin treats! What’s better on a cold autumn morning than a hot cup of coffee and some homemade baked goods? Not much. Especially if those goodies involve pumpkin. If you agree, then make yourself a batch of these white chocolate dipped pumpkin biscotti to welcome Fall this weekend!

pumpkin biscotti dipped in white chocolate
Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp flour
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
white chocolate morsels

pumpkin biscotti dough
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F

In a large bowl, mix together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg, vanilla, pumpkin puree, and ginger. Beat just until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. You can also substitute an equal amount of “pumpkin pie spice,” which is just each of these spices pre-mixed together! I prefer using fresh ginger though, I think it adds a little something extra to the flavor that is really worth it!

Working a small portion at a time, add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients, mixing thoroughly until dough forms.

shaping biscotti dough

Split dough into two equal portions and shape each half into a flattened log shape, like you see  in the picture above. Place these on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. But don’t throw away your parchment yet! …Stuff is expensive…

how to cut biscotti

Once cooled, slice each “loaf” diagonally into pieces about one inch thick. This will give you the classic, elegant, biscotti shape. Biscotti actually means “twice cooked” so you will be popping these babies back in the oven again! They are meant to be crispy crunchy and dipped in coffee!

Lay them out flat side down back on your parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for another 15 minutes on each side, flipping them over in between.

baking biscotti - twice baked

Set up a double boiler and melt white chocolate morsels. If you are having trouble getting the melted chocolate smooth enough for dipping, stir in a spoonful of vegetable shortening. Dip the bottom of each cookie into the melted white chocolate, and lay back onto parchment sheet to set.

pumpkin biscotti with white chocolate

Personally, I think biscotti are best enjoyed in the morning, preferably on a Sunday… when you have refused to get dressed and instead cozy back in on the couch with your cup of joe and plate of cookies… and proceed to watch an hour or two of Netflix…  Enjoy!!! :)

100th Post! and a New Feature!

100th post collage

Today What to do with Lemons celebrates our 100th post! We have made so many things! I can hardly believe it!

A little over a year ago, Katie and I made the decision to start this blog. We put our heads together across the many miles that separate us, did a little soul searching and a lot of research, and in September 2014, What to do with Lemons was born! We had no idea what we were doing… Honestly, we still don’t, but we have learned so much over the past year!

craft collage

Needless to say we love making stuff. And we will keep on making stuff and posting it here. I hope we’ve reached at least a few fellow crafters or bakers or makers out there, and I hope we find a few more in the next 100! Let’s be friends!

craft and baking blog

Today we are sending out love to all our friends and family who have supported us this past year by sharing our posts and tasting our recipes.

And on that note – we are also introducing a NEW PAGE to our site! We’re calling it “Spread the Love” and you’ll find it under the Features tab. If you enjoy reading our blog, visit this page to find links to some other amazing little blogs that WE find inspiring! Spread some love around the internet, then go MAKE something!

Easy Homemade Bruschetta

easy homemade bruschette

This time of year I’m always looking for ways to use up the last of our summer tomatoes. Last year I did some slow roasting and shared my experience making my own oven dried tomatoes, which turned out absolutely fantastic! But let’s be real, those babies took a pretty significant amount of time to make. And large blocks of time I rarely have.

If I’m being honest, my go-to tomato recipe year after year is this simple, classic bruschetta. It’s one of my favorite appetizers, and being able to make it using fresh picked tomatoes from my garden is the best! Although it ultimately signals the end of summer which is sad. At least there are always pumpkin treats to look forward to around the corner. (I already have a pumpkin treat coming up for you guys but in case you already have pumpkin fever and just can’t wait, you might wanna check out our pumpkin scones or mini pumpkin doughnut muffins from last fall! Yeah, yeah… SO “basic.” Whatever.)

what you need for bruschetta
Anyway, let’s get to the BRUSCHETTA! Yum.

You don’t need a whole lot to whip up this simple healthy dish, just some fresh ripe tomatoes, an onion, a couple cloves of garlic, olive oil, and Italian style herbs and spices. I use fresh thyme, dried basil, salt and pepper. You’ll also wanna pick up some good crusty bread to spoon it onto. All good stuff.

make bruschetta with fresh thyme

My secret to a really good tasting bruschetta is fresh thyme. We grow it in our garden but you can pick it up in the produce aisle as well. Can’t beat this stuff. It’s the perfect compliment to anything tomato and it smells incredible!

how to make homemade bruschetta

This isn’t the kind of recipe where I can give you exact amounts for anything, you just kinda have to taste as you go. I like to keep the ratio of tomato to onion something like 5 to 1…ish… but it’s really up to your own tastes! Dice up your tomatoes and onion nice and small, then mix those together. Finely dice your garlic cloves and throw that in there too.

spices to use in tomato bruschetta

Drizzle on a healthy amount of olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Just pull all the little leaves off the thyme and discard the stalk. Stir that all up and stick it in the fridge until chilled. Boom. Done.

easy homemade summer bruscetta with thyme

My favorite way to eat bruschetta is just on top of some sliced Italian bread, maybe with a little hummus on there too. Add some good cheese, olives, and grapes on the side and you have perfection!

But wait, there’s more! There are about one million other ways you can use bruschetta! Throw it in a pasta or on top of an omelette, mix it into a salad or a sandwich, sprinkle it your ice-cream or run it through your hair!…. okay maybe not but you get the idea…

How To: Shibori-Style Tie Dye

image1

Tie-dye is the iconic craft of summer. Most of us have made at least one rainbow spiral t-shirt in our time. But if you’re in the mood to shake it up a little this time around, you might try crafting something in the style of the ancient Japanese fabric dying technique: shibori.

Shibori is a type of tie-dying, traditionally created with indigo dyes (this is the same dye that makes your jeans their iconic blue!) There are many different techniques in shibori, used to create an endless array of patterns. Techniques involve stitching, folding, twisting or even wrapping around poles to change the dying effect. The tie dye look shown here is modeled after a shape blocking technique called  itajime shibori. It involves blocking the dye from certain areas of fabric using wooden blocks and ties. This technique creates an awesome finished look with distinct squares almost like little windows!

shibori dye folding

First off, you will need:
– cotton fabric
– RIT dye in your choice of color
– small blocks of wood
– rubber bands
– bucket
– rubber gloves
– stirring stick

To achieve this pattern, you’ll need to fold and bind up your fabric in a shibori style before dunking in dye. Start out by uniformly folding your fabric accordion style, lengthwise. I’m working with a pillowcase in the photos shown, to give you an idea of the approximate size.

fabric folding for itajime shibori
Then fold it up accordion style again, in the opposite direction. You want to end up with a square that’s a little bit bigger than your blocks.

wooden block tie dye

Bind it up with rubber bands or string. Use as many or as little as you like. More will help to resist the dye further, leaving extra white space.

riy dye tie dye

Mix up your dye according to package directions in the bucket. Be sure to use a bucket or container that you don’t mind staining! *Note* – True black is very difficult to achieve using simple dyes, but I wanted my color as dark as possible, so I actually used two packets of RIT dye and ended up with a dark inky purple.

shibori dying technique

Completely submerge your bound block into the dye bucket. Swirl it around and let it sit for a few minutes, up to half an hour, depending on how deep you want your color to be. Follow dye package directions here, as timing and technique may vary.

using RIT for tie dying - shibori

Allow the dye to set for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. I usually tie them up in a plastic grocery bag until ready for rinsing.

Rinse excess dye out with cold running water before untying. Continue to rinse as you gently cut the ties, remove the blocks, and unfold. Rinse until water runs mostly clear.

shibori style tie dye pillowcase

Voila! No two pieces will look exactly the same, which is really the fun of tie-dying! At this point you can go ahead and throw your pieces in the washing machine on the cold cycle, then dry.

shibori style tie dye

Shibori is a beautiful tradition, and a really fun twist in the tie-dying technique that we all know and love here in the U.S.! I think it lends kind of a sophisticated edge to this summer craft. Check out our Pinterest page for some awesome Shibori inspiration!

Happy crafting!

Summer Beer Cocktail: The Wobbly Flamingo

melon vodka cocktail

I think I have a new favorite Summer cocktail, and I invented it myself! After a round or two of testing and polling from friends and family… it’s been dubbed “The Wobbly Flamingo,” and it’s here to stay!

It makes use of one of my favorite seasonal beers: 21st Amendment Brewery’s Hell or High Watermelon as a bubbly base for a fruit-filled punch. Making guest appearances: melon vodka, pink lemonade, and fresh berries! I implore you to give it a try.

watermelon beer punch

21st amendment watermelon beer cocktail
Make sure all your ingredients are nice and chilled before mixing up!

For a round of 4:
1 – Hell or High Watermelon beer
4 oz – melon flavored vodka
1 1/2 cups – pink lemonade
fresh strawberries (muddled)
fresh blueberries

pink lemonade punch with beer and berries

Stir all these ingredients together in a pitcher with some ice, muddling the strawberries beforehand to add extra flavor and color!

summer cocktail with muddled berries

In each chilled glass, muddle a few strawberries, then add the punch. Top off with a handful of blueberries, and garnish as you like! I found these awesome pink flamingo cocktail stirrers in the Target dollar bins a while back, and they were perfect!

wobbly flamingo watermelon beer lemonade
Ta-Da! The Wobbly Flamingo. I will definitely be making a batch of these at our next summer get together.

watermelon wodka beer cocktail
CHEERS!!! :)

Coconut Creamsicle Smoothies (and Popsicles!)

orange coconut smoothie recipe

We’ve been having some very hot summer days here lately, and I was in need of a cool refreshing treat.
I am one of those people who likes absolutely anything with coconut. I wanted to give a coconut-y spin to the classic combo of orange and cream, so I blended up these Coconut Creamsicle Smoothies for the boyfriend and I one afternoon.

I’ll definitely be making them again and again, because they are downright delicious! Cool and creamy, they’re great for summer breakfast or dessert.

Orange and coconut smoothies or popsicles

The main components I used were frozen orange juice concentrate and coconut milk, but the full ingredient list includes:

1 12oz can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2  12oz can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup sugar
a handful of ice cubes (to taste)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup finely shredded coconut
coconut rum (optional)

making smoothies with juice concentrate

Throw the coconut milk, OJ, sugar, vanilla, and ice all in a blender and blend until fully combined and creamy. Then you can either blend the shredded coconut in if you like a smooooooth smoothie, or simply stir it in if you like the added texture (I do)!

shredded coconut in smoothies

I absolutely love this brand of coconut flakes for everything from baking to yogurt topping. It comes in this fine shredded texture and also in big flat flakes that are awesome for food decoration or adding to granola! I find mine at Wegmans.

DIY coconut orange juice smoothies

Pour into frosty glasses, add some festive toppings and stick in a straw for easy sipping! Next time I am definitely going to try these with a big dollop of whipped cream on top. Yum.

You could make this a boozy smoothie as well, by adding in some coconut rum or vodka!

coconut creasicle popsicles

If you have leftovers, pour them into popsicle molds! Keep the frosty treats comin’!

coconut creamsicle smoothie

Happy summer sipping everyone!

DIY Mason Jar Porch Lanterns

DIY Tissue paper Jar Lanterns

On a warm summer night, some pretty little luminaries can really set a relaxed mood. We are lucky enough to have a screened-in porch where bugs are not a problem, so we sit out there for dinner or drinks almost every night when the weather is right. I like the space to feel relaxed and fun, so I decided to make some colorful jar lanterns as a funky decoration and light source. Years ago, I also made dozens of these guys for my high-school graduation party. They are one of my favorite little projects to make!

Mine are all made from recycled jars in different shapes and sizes that I washed out, but if you are going for a more cohesive look, you can start with a pack of humble Mason jars!

tissue paper and mod podge lanterns

One of the coolest things about these lanterns is that they are very cheap to make. You probably have most of the supplies already lying around your house! Heres what you’ll need:

– clean glass jars
– tissue paper
– ModPodge and sponge brush
– wire

tissue paper jar lanterns

To get all prepped, cut some tissue paper strips that are a few inches wide and about the same height as the jar you are covering.

mod podge jar tissue paper

Working your way around the jar, adhere the paper to the glass with a brushing of ModPodge, then smooth over the top with some more ModPodge. Don’t be afraid to slather it on! It will dry clear and help to seal the paper down. Keep working your way around, overlapping strips as you go, until you’ve covered the whole jar.

jar luminary handle

Once the paper layer has dried, use the wire to add a handle. Wrap it securely under the lip of the jar, and twist together, leaving a six inch tail. 

wire jar lantern handle DIY

Loop the rest of the wire up and over the opening of the jar, creating a handle shape. On the opposite side, slip the end under the wrapped wire, and twist around itself to secure.

DIY hanging mason jar lanterns

Use a pen or a chopstick to wrap the excess wire, creating little curlique ends.

DIY Mason Jar Porch Lanterns

Fill your jars with candles or battery operated tea lights and GLOW! You can add any kind of “flair” that suits your fancy, like washi tape, beaded string, or stamps. Go crazy!

Mason Jar Luminaries

DIY Waterproof Oilcloth Bike Seat Cover

DIY bike seat cover tutorial oilcloth

Last year, as a birthday gift to myself, I bought a vintage women’s bicycle. A green, 3-speed, Raleigh Sport, made in England in the 1970’s. It’s crowning glory is it’s leather Brooks saddle seat!

My bike is a prized possession, but it’s also a functional one! What good is a cool retro bike to anyone if it’s just sitting in a garage gathering dust? Since I do ride my bike around, I try my best to keep it protected and in the best condition possible. So, I decided to craft up a cute and fitting waterproof cover for my seat, to keep it protected from the rain and sun.

I used a fabric called oilcloth, which is waterproof, inexpensive, and comes in tons of cute patterns! If you’re making one yourself, you will also need some nylon cord, a sewing machine, and some plastic cord stops (optional).

bike seat cover materials

Trace around the top of your bike seat and cut out a piece in a matching shape. Then, using a piece of yarn or string, find the length around the outer edge of the piece you’ve just cut. Cut out a long strip of oilcloth measuring that length by about four inches wide. Cut that strip in half lengthwise.

how to stich a bike seat cover

Working with one strip at a time, pin the edge piece to the top piece with right sides together and stitch around. Join at each end with a straight stitch. This can be a bit tricky since the oilcloth is somewhat stiff, but just take your time!

how to sew a waterproof bike seat cover

Turn right-side out, then fold down about three inches of the edge strips all the way around, pinning down as you go. I did this based on the shape and size of my own bike seat, so you may want to slip the cover over your own seat at this point to double check how much to fold over. Stitch around where you’ve placed the pins, creating an open canal for the drawstring to thread through.

making a drawstring bike seat cover

Cut two slits in the back end of the cover, on either side of the back seam. Then, using a safety pin as your guide, thread the cord all the way through.

oilcloth seat cover with drawstring

Use a lighter to melt the ends of the cord slightly so that they don’t fray. Here you can add two small or one large cord stop if you like, or you can simply tie the cords together.

DIY waterproof bike seat cover

Slip the cover over your seat, pull the drawstring until snug, and off you go! Rain or shine, you and your bike will be happy and looking fly!

DIY drawstring bike seat cover

I have some extra oilcloth leftover, so maybe I’ll make a matching storage pouch to attach to my handle bars!

Your Favorite Posts: Spring 2015

A few months ago we started a seasonal post series to recap our most popular posts throughout each season. We started out with the top 5 posts of Winter 2015. I can hardly believe a whole season has flown by since then, but guess what! It’s already time to share the top 5 posts of Spring!

#5) Upcycling Old Greeting Cards

DIY greeting card bookmarks
Waste not, want not. In April we shared a cute way to recycle all those greeting cards you’ve been stashing away, by crafting personalized gift tags and bookmarks!

#4) Pan Seared Citrus Scallops with Mango Quinoa

Citrus Scallops Lime Cilantro
No surprise that Katie’s incredible scallop recipe made the favorites list! My boyfriend and I copied her recipe and absolutely loved it! Who knew that mango and quinoa would play SO well together? Yum.

#3) DIY Running Stitch Throw Pillow

DIY running stitch pillow

I’ve been all about tassels this season, and I shared a fun DIY for a hand-stitched throw pillow to liven up your living space. It sits on my favorite pink chair and I’m still loving it! Glad many of you did too!

#2) Lighter Brunch Quiche

Healthy Breakfast Quiche
Using an easy Wholly Wholesome pre-made pie crust, Katie showed a great way to opt for a lighter morning meal with this killer mushroom and veggie quiche!

#1) Earth Day Project: Seed Bombs for Bumblebees

earth day seed balls
I was SO happy to see that our most viewed post this Spring was the project we shared for Earth Day: seed bombs to support bumblebees and other pollinators. Bee conservation is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, so I was thrilled to do my part to support! I hope you’ll toss some in your neck of the woods.

To all of you reading, we LOVE you! Tell us your favorite posts, make suggestions, or just say hi!

Try This: Fabric Covered Flower Pots

fabric covered flower pots
Potted plants are an awesome way to liven up any room. They also make a great hostess gift. Bonus points for both if your plants live in pretty, brightly colored pots!

Painted pots are so last year, so why not try covering some in fabric! There’s no end to the pattern possibilities or color combinations, and the texture adds a lot of interest. It’s an easy summer craft project that you can whip up in practically no time at all!

cloth covered flower pots
With just a few supplies, this is also a very inexpensive project. You might even have some of these supplies at home already.

scrap fabric covered planters
You will need: A small terra cotta flower pot, some patterned fabric (1/4 yard is plenty), a sponge brush, scissors, and some Mod Podge. I used the hard coat variety of Mod Podge because it’s what I had on hand, but any kind should do. If you don’t have Mod Podge you can even use Elmers Glue mixed with water.
how to wrap a flowerpot
Step 1: Cut out a piece of fabric that will fit around your pot, leaving about a one inch overhang for the top and bottom edges. You will end up with a curved shaped piece as shown above. The easiest way to do this is to lay your pot sideways on the fabric, hold a pencil against the edge, and roll it. Then cut one inch above and below the curved lines you’ve just created.
mod podge fabric pots
Step 2: Working a small section at a time, paint Mod Podge onto the pot and press the fabric on top, smoothing with your fingers as you go. Make sure to press firmly into the crease under the top lip of the pot. Once you’ve gone all the way around, leave about a half inch overlap and trim off any excess.
mod podge scrap fabric pot
Step 3: Cut the overhanging fabric into one inch tabs all the way around the top of the pot. Glue them down one by one, overlapping them as you go. Then do the same on the bottom of the pot.
diy fabric flower pot
Step 4: Paint a layer of Mod Podge over the fabric, covering the outside of the pot. This will seal and smooth everything down.
patterned mod podge flower pot
All done! Now go pick out a cute plant to live in your masterpiece while you wait for the glue to dry!
cloth covered pots
Try making a few in coordinating colors to plant a mini kitchen herb garden! Or make extra and bring a potted herb or succulent as a hostess gift to your next summer party. Be sure to share your summer projects with us on Instagram! Just use #WTDWLemons.
fabric wrapped plant pots

S’mores Bark

S'mores bark recipe

For some reason, Katie and I have BOTH been obsessively craving s’mores lately… But being the busy gal that I am, I don’t always have time for a bonfire. I needed a way to get my s’mores fix on the go. Something that I could snack on at work or in the car, but still gave me that classic s’mores goodness.

I decided to try to make s’more in the form of a “bark”, kinda like the peppermint bark everyone makes around Christmas time, but a Summer version. Well, let me tell you, it is GOOD! The classic summer treat, but crazy easy and made in one big batch that will last all week.
grahm cracker marshmallow chocolate bark

Beautiful.

s'mores bark ingredients

You only need three ingredients, the same as a regular s’mores, but in mini sized: mini marshmallows, milk chocolate chips, and crushed up graham crackers.

S'mores bark tutorial

Line a baking sheet with wax paper, and cover it evenly with crushed grahams and mini mallows. I like the texture to be a little more on the crunchy side, so I tore the marshmallows in half for even smaller pieces.

S'mores chocolate bars

Set up a double boiler and melt the chocolate over low-medium heat. You can add a tablespoon of vegetable shortening if it doesn’t seem smooth enough to pour. Then carefully pour over your prepared tray, and spread gently with a rubber spatula until you have an even layer of all three ingredients.

Make your own S'mores bark

Add some extra bits of graham and marshmallow on top to make it look pretty (and perhaps a little sea salt), then pop in the freezer for about an hour. Once fully hardened, crack the sheet into pieces for easy snacking!

DIY S'mores Candy

I like this s’mores bark best when still frozen, so I store the whole batch in the freezer. Couldn’t be easier. Craving satisfied. Time to make s’more. (haha sorry, couldn’t resist)

Floral PomPom Pillowcase DIY

pom pom trim pillow cases

Pompom trim is probably the cutest crafting supply ever. Especially when it’s pink and attached to dainty floral. I have a whole stash of the stuff, so this past weekend I decided to put it to use and make some girly, springy pillow cases. I love the look of mixed florals, especially when the prints are small.

DIY pom pom and lace trim pillow case

Simple pillow cases are a really easy sewing project if you’re a beginner, since you only have to sew in straight lines. For one standard-sized pillow case, you will need about 1 1/4 yards of fabric, and roughly the same length of trim.

With your fabric folded in half (so that the fold is the long edge of the pillowcase) cut a piece that is about 20″ x 30″. To make it really easy, just trace around a regular pillowcase that you already have, but be sure to leave roughly 4 1/2 inches extra in length to create the “hem” around the pillow opening.

iron edge in

Open the folded fabric (it will be ~ 40″ x 34″ opened up) and iron a 1/2 inch fold along the edge where the pillow opening will be.

making pillow case hem

Then fold over another 4 inches, iron, and pin along the inside edge. With a straight stitch, sew along the inside edge, through all 3 layers of fabric.

Fold the the fabric back in half, with right sides of the fabric together, so that you have the standard pillowcase shape. Sew along the two open edges with about a 1/2 inch seam allowance. Trim off the excess fabric and turn right-side-out. (At this point, you can test the size of your pillowcase based on the pillows you will be using, and if you need to, adjust the seams a bit if the case is too large).

stitching pom pom trim onto pillow

Pin your chosen trim along the hem of the open end of the pillowcase. Carefully stitch all the way around. Depending on which trim you chose, you can use a straight or zigzag stitch here. The purple pompom trim shown in the above picture was quite flat, so I used a straight stitch, but the pink pompom trim was a bit more three dimensional, so I used a zigzag stitch over the edge for that one.

Pretty floral pillow DIY

I love having lots of different pillow cases around to mix up my bedding and make things feel fresh. Plus, who doesn’t like something customized!? Use them for yourself, or impress your guests with something that feels unique and special. Who’s ready for a summer sleepover!?

trimmed floral pillow cases
Show us your favorite fabric patterns and trimmings on Instagram with the hashtag #WTDWLemons ! Happy Spring!

Easy Apricot Cream Cheese Danishes

cheese danish with apricot

Ahh the cheese danish… my favorite pastry. I could write poems about it, but I’ll spare you. Anyway, there’s something about Spring that makes me want to have brunch, and in my mind no brunch is complete without some sweet pastries!

If you’re hosting a brunch or just craving some of these bad boys for yourself, fear not,  you don’t have to get up at 5am and slave away with your rolling pin to make these fresh mini danishes. Thanks to some convenient frozen puff pastry dough, they are a cinch to whip up!

easy cream cheese danish recipe

Ingredients:
(makes 32 small danishes)
– 2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
– 1 jar apricot dessert filling
– 8 oz cream cheese, softened
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 1 tbsp of milk
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 cup powdered sugar
– splash of milk
– 1/4 tsp almond extract
– sliced almonds

fruit filling for danishes

I am partial to Baker Brand fruit fillings for these, in part because this is what we always use when making my family’s traditional Slovak cookies! I chose apricot just because it’s my favorite, but any fruit filling would be delicious. I recently discovered that they make a pineapple version which I would love to try!

cream cheese filling for danishes

For the cheese filling, mix up the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and 1 tbsp of milk. Beat until smooth. You will probably have some leftover when you’re done, so keep in mind that it makes an excellent fruit dip! Waste not, want not, right?

scoring puff pastry for square danishes

Next, open up each puff pastry sheet and cut into sixteen squares. Then, using a knife, score a smaller square into each one, making sure not to cut all the way through. The scoring helps the pastry to puff up on the edges and keep the filling in its place while in the oven.

fill danishes with cream cheese and apricot

On each square, place a dollop of the cream cheese mixture and a dollop of the apricot filling, then swirl together a bit.

Make a simple egg wash by mixing one egg yolk with 1 tbsp of water. Brush this around the outside edge of each pastry. *Note* – You might want to transfer the squares over to parchment paper before doing this step. They are a little harder to pick up after the egg wash. Clearly I forgot, but everything turned out just fine!

Egg wash the edges of pastries

On a parchment lined cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. They will look really puffy and rounded when you first pull them out, but they will quickly deflate a bit.

While they are baking, mix up the almond icing. Place one cup of powdered sugar into a small bowl, and add small splashes of milk until you reach a smooth glaze-like consistency. You won’t need much milk, so add in small increments! Stir in 1/4 tsp of almond extract.

Apricot Cream Cheese Danishes

Once the danishes are cooled, drizzle on the glaze and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Perfection.
Happy Brunching!

Etsy Gift Guide for Mother’s Day

Handmade for mothers day etsy picks

Mother’s Day is coming up fast (May 10th for you slackers who forgot)!

Since What to do with Lemons is all about homemade love, we would like to encourage you to buy handmade this year for the special lady in your life. Of course Katie and I are fans of the online makers’ marketplace, Etsy, so we created a little Mother’s Day Etsy gift guide to show you some of our favorite things from a few awesome sellers. See something you like? Check out the links below.

(one) – Sweet custom embroidery from KimArt
(two) – Adorable hand-painted jewelry from Lula Pearl
(three) – Customized stamped metal accessories from Fired Up Ladies Hammered
(four) – Beautiful serving ware from Fringe and Fettle Ceramics (my fave!)
(five) – Indulgent hand-poured soy candles from Pommes Frites
(six) – The classiest felt messenger bag from Popeq

Or maybe you would like to get creative and make something special for Mom with your own capable hands… Check out our archived projects and recipes for some last minute inspiration! Perhaps these or these?

Earth Day Project: Seed Bombs for Bumblebees

Seed bombs for bumblebees

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to use today’s post to talk a bit about your friendly neighborhood BUMBLEBEE! These fuzzy little flyers are one of our ecosystem’s most important native pollinators, but unfortunately, their population numbers are in dangerous decline.

With their large furry bodies and general foraging habits, bumblebees are uniquely effective pollinators, helping to produce flowers, fruit and food for hundreds of different species, including people! Yet many of our native bees are facing dramatic population declines due to habitat loss, pesticide use, climate change, and introduction of diseases.

Want to help? Today I’ll share a bumblebee-friendly project for Earth Day that you can make yourself to help restore helpful habitat for native pollinators: Wildflower Seed Bombs!!!

earthday seed bombs
A “seed bomb” is a little nugget made from clay and soil that contains plant or flower seeds. They can be lobbed over fences, tossed out windows, dropped on the ground or planted directly in your yard. Soil or compost acts as a growth medium, while clay holds the bomb together and protects the seeds from blowing or washing away on the surface of the ground. For our bumblebee bombs, we want to use seeds of native flowers that will be attractive and useful for our insect friends.

To make a batch, you will need:
– natural clay or clay powder (I purchased mine from Amazon here)
– seed starting soil or compost
– native wildflower seeds (I made my bombs with Aster, Coneflower, Snapdragon, Butterfly weed, Columbine, and Coreopsis)

When choosing your seeds, there are a few important things to consider. First, you’ll want to pick seeds that will attract and feed bees. Here’s a fun fact: Bees prefer flowers that are purple, blue, and yellow, since they can see the world in UV! Second, you want to choose plants that are native to the region where you live. There are a lot of great resources online to help you determine bee-friendly local plants, but if you are interested to read more, I recommend checking out the Xerces Society website!

making seed bombs
Now for the fun part – getting your hands dirty! In a container, mix together your clay powder, soil, and just enough water to create a muddy paste. Many seed bomb recipes recommend a 5:1 ratio of clay to compost, but the clay that I used directed a 1:1 mix, so thats what I did and it worked out well for me.

Grab a dime-sized amount of the mixture, and press in a few seeds. Exactly how many seed you want to use in each bomb depends on the germination rate of each species, but if you don’t want to get technical, just throw in 2-5. Less for larger seeds, a few more for the tiny ones. Then roll into a tight ball.

guerilla garden bombs
They kinda look like little deer poops, right? It’s okay- it’s for a good cause! Now leave your bombs out in the sun or a warm area to dry, this may take a day or so.

If you’re making these for your OWN guerrilla gardening interest, then you’re all done! Bombs away! But I plan to give some away to friends and family on Earth Day, so of course I had to package them up adorably…

seed favor supplies
I grabbed some scrap fabric and cut it into small squares…

seed ball packaging
…placed a handful of seed bombs onto each square…

wrapping up seed bomb favors
…then tied them up with twine into little bee bomb bundles! (how do you like THAT for alliteration!?) I also think these would make awesome favors for a spring wedding or garden party!

give out seed bombs for earth day
My seed bomb arsenal is ready. Bonus: these babies will also be helpful in supporting butterflies and honeybees (which face their own plight from the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder). Plus they’re pretty! :)

HAPPY EARTH WEEK!

P.S. – In case you were wondering, Bumblebees are non-aggressive and rarely sting people!

DIY Running Stitch Throw Pillow

DIY running stitch pillow

I have really been loving the look of hand embroidery lately, and when I saw this cool throw pillow at Anthropologie I knew I wanted to make my own version for our house. Gotta love a good Anthro hack!

The DIY version takes a bit of time (think a good Netflix binge amount of time) but it couldn’t be easier! You really don’t need any embroidery or sewing experience to try this one, I even started with a ready-made pillow sham.

hand embroidered pillow

Start with a basic white or other solid colored pillow sham, some embroidery floss in cool colors and an embroidery needle. These kinds of needles are a little bit bigger than your typical sewing needle and have a larger eye.

running stitch

Start out by threading your needle and tying a double knot on the opposite end. Working from the inside of the pillow sham first, poke the needle up through the fabric near the seam.

You only need to learn one type of stitch for this project. It’s called the running stitch. Basically, you are just going down through the fabric and then coming back up again a short distance further. You can even make several stitches in a row and pull them all through at once as shown in the photo above. If you’ve never done this stitch before, you will get the hang of it really fast! Trust me.

running stitch embroidery

Continue with your running stitch until you reach the seam on the opposite end of your pillow sham, ending on the inside. Then cut about a 3 inch tail, separate the threads in the floss into two halves and tie a knot to secure. Trim off the excess.

Keep on stitching lines in the same fashion, changing colors and spacing as you like until you have covered the whole front of your sham. You can finish here or add some extra embellishment by tying on some yarn tassels or pompoms to the corners! I went with oversized blue tassels made in the same way as we showed you in this past post.

DIY tassel pillow

I stuffed my stitched sham with a down pillow insert to make it extra comfy. I love it on my favorite vintage pink chair!

Top 5 Posts: Winter


What to do with Lemons is a fledgling blog. Katie and I are still VERY new to this amazing community and we are constantly learning. It’s exciting! As we head into our third full season of blogging, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at the past season and see which posts readers have liked the most! We plan to do this at the end of each season so that we can continue to grow and evolve our little corner of the internet and hopefully share more things that you will love!

So, without further ado, our Top 5 Posts of Winter 2015:

#5) Double Take: Easy Game Day Appetizers

Superbowl Snack Ideas
In our “Double Take” features, Katie and I each test out the same idea separately, then come together to create our post and see how differently (or similarly!) we each interpreted it. In January, we each set out to make an easy appetizer for Superbowl Sunday! Katie made a Chicken Vodka-Parm Dip and I made a baked pepperoni roll. Both turned out to be great crowd pleasers! Yum.

#4) Soft Pretzel Twists with Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

pretzel twists and cheese sauce
Another delicious appetizer, in February I tried my hand at making this ballpark classic, and it turned out great! I actually get cravings for these all the time now…

#3) Perfect Fudge Brownies

Heart Brownies for Valentine's
Katie was actually a bit famous for these babies back in college, so it took a bit of convincing to get her to share her recipe online! This time she cut them into perfect little hearts for Valentine’s Day. <3

#2) DIY Constellation Tights

hand-painted star tights
This project was a little collaboration with our good friend Ashley of AU Gold Standard. I had a lot of fun making AND wearing these, so I was so happy to see that our readers liked them too!  Of course they feature my own astrological sign, Pisces!  What’s your sign?! *wink wink*

#1) Washable Pet Travel Mats

flannel pet travel mats
And finally, our most viewed post of this Winter was the easy-sew Washable Pet Travel Mats! If you can’t already tell, I LOVE my cats! I often make special projects just for them. These soft flannel mats are great for pets and hold up really well through wear-and-tear and frequent washings. I love anything that makes my fur babies happy, and I’m so glad to see that we have many animal-loving readers out there too!

We love to hear your feedback, so tell us if you have any favorites too! I hope you’ll keep coming back to visit and help us towards our top five posts of Spring 2015! And don’t forget, if you have an Instagram, let’s be friends! You can find us at @whattodowithlemons

Upcycle Old Greeting Cards

DIY greeting card bookmarks

Today’s upcycling project comes from the crafty repertoire of a FABULOUS Great Aunt of mine. This is a woman who’s homemade flair puts Martha Stewart to shame (sorry Martha, you know I love you!) Never one to waste a beautiful piece of paper, my creative Aunt will often put an already used greeting card to use as part of an even better NEW card, bookmark, tag, or other paper craft. She will then tuck these into some snail mail to make someone’s day!

how to re-use greeting cards
If you’re anything like me, you might have some little box tucked away holding sentimental and pretty things that you just couldn’t bring yourself to throw away. Or if you are my co-blogger Katie, you might have five or six such boxes…haha! Anyway, if you’ve got one, pull it out. If you don’t have one, maybe you should start one, because these things can come in handy!
Grab a few pretty cards that you don’t mind cutting up, and make something new.
bookmark making supplies!
A few other supplies you might want for this project are a hole punch, a glue stick, some string or ribbon, and maybe some charms or beads.

Just get creative. Cut out images or shapes from the cards, layer them up with pieces of paper or cut out words and phrases, write on them, draw on them… whatever feels right and looks great! Then punch a hole in the top and tie on some ribbon. This is a great way to utilize little scraps. You could even make a tiny tassel for one of your bookmarks!

upcycle old greeting cards into stylish bookmarks
Sometimes it feels great to make something new from recycled materials, especially in April in honor of Earth Month! Tuck these little creations into snail mail or tie them on packages. One more cute and creative way to show someone that you think they’re awesome!
kitten birthday tags!
Bonus: pink kitten birthday tags! So cute.

Loren’s Homemade Hummus

Homemade Hummus

My boyfriend Loren has always made the BEST homemade hummus. I wanted to share his recipe, but when I asked, he told me he doesn’t really have one and just makes it each time by memory and taste. But I still wanted to share an easy, basic, homemade hummus recipe with you guys… SO we made a batch together and I took studious notes! This is a recipe for a basic hummus base which you can mix up to make dozens of different delicious versions!

Here’s what you will need:
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
2/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

The prep couldn’t be any easier – just throw all of the ingredients in a food processor (or blender – but this takes more patience) and pulse it all together until smooth!

My favorite add-in for this basic hummus is olive tapenade. I’ve recently made my own which I might share soon! It gives an awesome added Mediterranean flavor. Roasted red peppers, hot peppers, and roasted eggplant are also great additions! Get creative and create your own mix or enjoy it plain. Serve it with fresh cut veggies, bread and crackers, or spread it on toast or a sandwich.

Loren's Hummus Recipe

How To: Brightly Colored Yarn Tassels

make your own bright yarn tassels!

If you’re looking for an easy, fun, and trendy craft to make this weekend, this is it! Flouncy little tassels made of brightly colored yarn. Adorable. Tie them on packages, hang them on doorknobs and rear-view mirrors, sew them onto pillow corners and blankets, make a garland, or turn them into key chains and cat toys! Go ahead, everyone loves them. Including me! I kinda want to put them on everything I own.

They are so fast and easy to whip up you could probably make a dozen or more in the time it takes to plop on the couch and watch the latest episode of your favorite show (The Walking Dead anyone!?). Lucky for you all, I made a photo tutorial so you can get started right away:

craft supplies for yarn tassels
Round up some cool colors of yarn (any kind will do), a rectangular piece of cardboard twice the length that you want your tassels to be, and your trusty scissors.
how to make tassels out of yarn
Start out by wrapping a length of yarn around the cardboard 10-15 times, then cut the end.
tassels from scrap yarn
Cut another piece of yarn about a foot long. Slide the wrapped yarn gently off the cardboard, then tie the second length of yarn around the middle of the loops as shown above.
simple way to make tassels for decoration
Cut through the loops on both sides to create loose ends. I know, in most situations “loose ends” are a bad thing… but in tassel making, they’re everything!
handmade yarn tassels
Fold the bundle over in the middle with the tie at the top. Using another length of yarn, wrap several times around the whole bundle about 1 inch from the top, and tie off. Slip the two ends of the tie you just made up, over, and down through the wrap so that they lay with the rest of the tassel ends.
trim ends of yarn tassels
Lastly, give your fresh new tassel a little trim so that all the ends are even and tidy.
funky yarn tassel
Voila! Now you can make a dozen more in every color of the rainbow! Or maybe that’s just me…
colorful yarn tassels
Show us your yarn projects on Instagram with the hashtag : #wtdwlemons

Soft Pretzel Twists with Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce

soft pretzel twists

Soft Pretzels are one of those foods that remind people of good times. Maybe its memories of ball games, amusement parks, or if you’re like me: mall shopping with Mom and splitting a big Auntie Anne’s pretzel… because of course she had a coupon! Whatever the memory, soft, warm, doughy pretzels are generally a fun time food.

While not the quickest recipe, making them at home is a lot of fun too. I have to confess that since I’ve been playing around with pretzel dough in preparation for this tutorial, I’ve become a little obsessed. They’re so good. I could eat them all day. And apparently so could my cat, Luna! Cats love soft pretzels… who knew? Anyway, without further ado: Homemade soft pretzels. And cheese. Did I mention the cheese? Wow.

pretzel twists and cheese sauce
I adapted this pretzel dough recipe from my kitchen hero Alton Brown on the food network. Its largely the same except that I don’t use a stand mixer. You really don’t need one as long as you have two arms!

For the pretzels you will need:
– 1 package of active dry yeast
– 1 1/2 cups warm water
– 1 tbsp sugar
– 2 tsp salt
– 4 1/2 cups of flour
– 1/2 stick of butter (melted)
– 2/3 cup baking soda
– 1 egg yolk
– course salt for sprinkling
Making soft pretzel dough
Mix the sugar and salt into the 1 1/2 cup of warm water, then add the yeast packet on top. Don’t stir it, just let it sit for about 5 minutes while you measure out the flour and melt the butter
mixing soft pretzel dough
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, melted butter, and yeast mixture. Fold together with a rubber spatula until a dough ball forms. Once the dough has come together into one mass, pick it up and move to a large cutting board or clean floured counter top.
hand kneaded soft pretzel dough
Now knead away! If you’ve never kneaded a yeast dough before, you basically flatten the dough ball with the heel of your hand, fold the dough back onto itself, and repeat. Check out YouTube for some great video demonstrations of the kneading process.

Kneading strengthens the dough by forming strands of gluten. Gluten free diets be damned, this technique is centuries old! You’ll know your dough is well kneaded when it’s smooth and velvety to the touch.

Spray a large bowl with some non-stick spray and place the kneaded dough ball inside. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm room for about 1 hour.
rolling soft pretzels
Once your dough has doubled in size, cut it into 15-20 evenly sized pieces. You can vary this depending on what size and shape of pretzels you want to make, anything goes!
twisting pretzels
Roll each section out into a long snake. Then fold in half, pinch the two ends together, and twist 2 or three times. Place each twist onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
boiling the soft pretzels
Around this time is when you’ll want to preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Fill a large shallow pot with about ten cups of water and mix in the baking soda. Bring to a boil.

Gently place the pretzel twists into the boiling water and baking soda mixture, a few at a time. Let them boil for 30 seconds, then lift out with a slotted spatula or spoon and place back onto the baking sheet. This step is what gives the soft pretzels that lovely toasted brown outer layer and soft white middle!
egg wash and salt
Thin one egg yolk with a spoonful of water, and gently brush over the top of each pretzel. Sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. You can season your pretzels with anything you like here. I made one batch with some everything bagel seasoning and they came out awesome!!

Bake for 15 minutes, then allow to cool a bit before stuffing your face! These are best served fresh and hot! Because I loathe mustard, I served them with a hot cheddar cheese dipping sauce (recipe below!). But hey, if mustard is your thing, go for it. It is traditional I suppose.

Extras can be stored in a zip top bag and taste pretty great warmed up briefly in the oven or toaster oven.
pretzel twists and cheese sauce
Spicy Cheddar Cheese Sauce:

– 1 cup milk
– 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (grated)
– 2 tbsp butter
– 2 tbsp flour
– 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
– 1 dash hot sauce
– sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat the milk in the microwave until steaming. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle in flour, whisking constantly, to form a rue. Slowly add in the warm milk, keeping the mixture moving. Toss in the cheese and stir until melted. Add cayenne, red pepper, hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Serve along side your fresh homemade soft pretzels and enjoy!
Yummy baked soft pretzel twists

DIY Faceted Bead Statement Necklace

make faceted beads with polymer clay

I have been noticing this design trend of faceted objects lately, from art to home decor to wearable accessories, and I’m loving it! Facets seem to lend a modern architectural look to just about anything, and I am really drawn to these crystalline shapes. Naturally, I set out to make my own interpretation, and settled on this funky beaded statement necklace.

I made the beads from polymer clay, then hand-cut the facets. It turned out to be a simple and inexpensive way to experiment with this trend, and I have to say I found the process pretty therapeutic. If you’re drawn to these gem-like forms also, and like quirky jewelry like I do, I highly recommend giving it a try!

faceted clay bead supplies
You don’t need a lot of supplies, just round up:

– some polymer clay
– leather cord or chain
– rub-n-buff or silver paint
– a paper clip
– an xacto knife or razor blade

I also covered my workspace with a piece of wax paper to protect the surface of my table.
making polymer clay beads
Start by rolling out 5 small balls of clay, with your largest one in the center, then two matching pairs, getting a bit smaller each time. It looks like we are about to make Wilma Flinstone’s signature necklace at this point, but just wait, it will get cooler.
shaping beads in polymer clay
Using the palm of your hand, roll each sphere into a cylindrical shape, applying a bit more pressure on one end, so that you’re making something like a carrot.
fimo clay beads
With the paperclip, make a hole at the narrower end of each bead, making sure as you go that it’s large enough for your leather cord to fit through.

Place the beads on a cookie sheet, and bake in a 275 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove and let cool.
cutting faceted beads in polymer clay
Once cool to the touch, use the blade to cut facets all around the surface of each bead. Work lengthwise and away from yourself, making shallow slices. Keep cutting facets until no rounded edges remain.

At this point you can bake your beads a few minutes longer if they are not completely cured. You should not be able to press into them with your fingers.
DIY faceted bead statement necklace
I added a silver tip to each of my beads using some scotch tape and silver Rub-n-Buff. Acrylic craft paint, spray paint, or even nail polish would work well also.

String them up and tie a knot in the cord so that its just long enough to slip on and off over your head. If you’re using chain, add a clasp.
faceted bead statement necklace
This was a fun experiment and a great a addition to my growing collection of statement necklaces! I think it has sort of a “modern-tribal” vibe. What do you think?

Red Hot Candy Infused Rum

cinnamon candy infused rum

No matter what kind of Valentine’s Day you’re having, it can probably be improved with a festive cocktail! Hot date? Fun “gal-entines” day plans with girlfriends? A quiet night at home with your cat? ALL deserve a special drink to toast the occasion!

I’m not sure if you knew this, but infusing alcohol with fun candy flavors is easy peasy. I mean really easy. Perfect for last-minute valentines. So I whipped up a version to share with you all that feels very appropriate for Valentines Day: red hot cinnamon-candy infused rum. Mmm!
infusing alcohol with candy
All you need is some light rum, some cinnamon candies, and an empty glass bottle or jar. Or no empty bottle if you want to make ALL the rum cinnamon flavored, in which case you can keep it in the big bottle!

If you can’t find Red Hots specifically, (they aren’t that common anymore) most grocery stores will carry something called “cinnamon imperial hearts” either in the baking or bulk candy aisle. Those will do just as well.
red hots cinnamon candy infused rum
The ratio that I used was 2 Tbsp of candies per 1 cup of rum, but you can adjust based on how strong you want the cinnamon flavor to be. It will also add sugar to the rum, sweetening it up quite a bit.
making candy infused rum
Combine your rum and candy, close off the container, and give it a good shake! It should immediately turn red. It will take an hour or two for the alcohol to completely dissolve the candy. Just let it sit on your counter for a while, giving it another shake every once in a while,
valentines day cinnamon rum drink
Once all the Red Hots are dissolved, you can move right on to taste testing! I like it over ice and topped with ginger ale, with some fun holiday garnishes. Here I used a pink sugar coated rim and a lollipop stirrer. I think I’ll call this little concoction “Cupid’s Flaming Arrow”… what do you think?
cinnamon rum and ginerale
If you’re making candy infused booze as a fun Valentine’s gift, you might add a nice label and some ribbon. Done. Move over chocolates and flowers, RUM is this year’s romantic gift of choice! <3
Red Hot candy infused rum
Cheers and Happy Valentines Day! We love you all!!! <3

DIY Sugar Scrubs: Coffee and Green Tea

DIY green tea and coffee body scrubs

Winter weather is harsh on your skin. We’ve been getting pummeled with snow up here in New England these past few weeks and I’m finding that I just can’t use enough lotion. Every once in a while, especially this time of year, your skin just needs a little revival, and sloughing off all those dead cells might be just the thing. Luckily, making your own exfoliating sugar scrub is super easy, and today I’ll show you how!

I made two different types of scrub: one “coffee” and one “green tea” but both have the same base ingredients: coconut oil and raw cane sugar. You can make a basic scrub by combining just those two things, or you can add a little extra to make all kinds of different variations! The one thing they all have in common? They work wonders for dry winter skin! The two I’ll share with you today are packed with natural benefits and blissfully absent of nasty chemical additives that you can’t pronounce. Good stuff.

Green Tea Scrub with Raw Honey and Lemon:
how to make a green tea sugar scrub
For the green tea scrub you will need:

-5 Tbsp raw cane sugar
-1 Tbsp coconut oil
-1 tsp steeped green tea
-1 tsp green tea leaves (you can cut open a tea bag)
-2 tsp raw honey
-1 tsp of fresh lemon juice and zest

First, steep one green tea bag in a small amount of water (you want strong tea!). While the tea is steeping you can soften your coconut oil a little, since it is usually solid at room temperature. You can just pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds or so.
green tea skincare
**By the way if you aren’t completely in love with virgin coconut oil as a beauty product yet, you’re totally missing out! You can use this stuff to replace so many products, from shaving cream to body lotion to hair masks. It’s the best. AND it smells awesome too! (I get mine from Trader Joes)**

Once you’ve prepped the tea and the coconut oil, just measure everything out, stir it all up, and press it into a pretty glass container! Now lets talk skin happy benefits:
DIY green tea honey and lemon sugar scrub
Since I’ve already professed my love for coconut oil, we’l start there. Coconut oil is an amazing natural moisturizer, and it absorbs into skin really well.

The sugar acts as a gentle exfoliant, and starts to dissolve under hot water, turning into a fine polish as you go.

Green tea is packed with protective antioxidants called polyphenols and also has a bit of caffeine which can be great in skincare, but more on that later…

Lemon contains lots of vitamin C and citric acid, which can help to brighten your skin tone.

Finally, raw honey – the “raw” part is very important here, since most of the good stuff in honey is lost during heating and processing. Sadly the kind of honey that you find in those cute little bear shaped bottles is essentially just sugar. Check your local health food store for the raw stuff, it usually comes in a jar, often in solid form. Raw honey has natural antibacterial properties, is a potent moisturizer, and contains gluconic acid, which can help to reduce dark spots. I could go on forever with all kinds of cool stuff about raw honey, but I’ll save that for another post ;).

Coffee Scrub:
how to make a coffee sugar scrub
You’ll need:

-4 Tbsp of coconut oil
-4 Tbsp of raw cane sugar
-1 1/2 Tbsp of coffee grounds
– 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (optional)

This one is a little simpler, just soften the coconut oil, and mix everything together.
make your own sugar scrub at home
I found that I prefer to use a light roast coffee. I just think it gives off a more pleasant aroma. If you really want to enhance that coffee shop scent, add the vanilla! It’s great to use this one in your morning shower – the smell alone will perk you up a bit.

The coffee grinds in this scrub give it a rougher texture. Since the grinds won’t melt in water, you can scrub for longer, making this one particularly great for your legs but maybe not so much for your face!
DIY coffee sugar scrub
The coffee in this recipe contains more caffeine than in tea. Caffeine can cause blood vessels to constrict, giving it an anti-inflammatory effect and also helping to reduce redness. As if I needed another reason to love coffee…
make your own sugar scrub
Homemade bath products are really fun to make, and arguably a lot healthier for your skin. You can even do some experimenting to come up with your own personal “formula” that’s perfect for you. Go ahead, raid your pantry and slather something on! We dare you.