RECIPE: Garden Mint Chocolate Truffles

IMG_5837_minttrufflesComing out of hiding for one chocolatey post! If you’re in the Seattle area this winter, please come visit me at the Historic Shell Holiday Shop in Issaquah where you can find gifts from all sorts of local artists and makers- including cards, prints, and other great stuff by me (Alison) and by Rachel. Happy Holidays!

At his heart, Safety Husband is as crafty as anyone, so when he surprised me with truffle making lessons* for Valentine’s Day I wasn’t that surprised. Turns out truffles are the perfect combination of messy (for me), science (for him), and chocolate (for the both of us.)

Let’s break it down…

Kitchen Tools

In addition to the usual mixing bowls, platters, and spatulas, there are a few things that make chocolate a lot easier. I’ve listed the tools below, along with work-arounds if you’re missing them.

  • Microwave: You’ll need to melt your chocolate, without getting it too hot. We used a short zaps in the microwave to do so. If you don’t have one, you can use a well-monitored double boiler. Another option is to fill a large bowl up with hot water from the tap, and set a bowl on top of it: given enough time, the steam should bring the chocolate up to a nice liquid temperature.
  • Infared Thermometer: Just point this sucker at a surface and you get a quick sanitary temperature. Other kitchen thermometers will work in a pinch, just make sure to stir well before testing the temperature and leave the thermometer in until you get a true reading.
  • Chocolate Chipper: This guy is a huge help in breaking up the slab of chocolate into smaller pieces, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You could use a strong knife, ice pick, or many other kitchen tools to do the same thing (just not as easily.)
  • Kitchen Scale: There’s not really a work around on this one. You’ll need a scale that will tare (to ignore the weight of your bowl). We use both a digital scale and a simpler (non-digital) taring scale for various things when cooking.
  • Small Scoop: You will scoop small balls of chocolate and roll them with your hand. If you don’t care as much about the shape of the truffle, a spoon will work too.

Good Chocolate makes Good Chocolate

In the class, the teacher stressed that it’s best to use quality chocolate and fresh cream- and to try a bunch of different types to see what you like best. We’ve been using a Gourmet Bittersweet purchased from the Chocolate Man in Seattle, and used cocoa from them as well. I’m excited to try a million different kinds of chocolate- but I have learned the lesson that having truffles readily available stretches self control to its limits.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Garden Mint Chocolate Truffles
 
Use fresh mint and a touch of mint extract to build a well rounded and very minty truffle. (Not a fan of mint? Leave it out and you'll have amazing basic truffles.)
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 36 pieces
Ingredients
  • ½ cup Cream?
  • 8 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1 oz. Fresh Chopped Mint
  • 1-4 drops of peppermint extract (to taste)
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder
Instructions
  1. Measure out 8oz. of chunks of chocolate in a large microwavable bowl.
  2. Microwave in small zaps– 10-20 seconds at a time– stirring in between until most of the chocolate has begun to melt. The warmer portions should melt the remaining chunks while you stir. (It takes us approx. 60 seconds to melt the chocolate.) The chocolate should never get above 165˚; it should be more like 100˚
  3. Pour cream and mint into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, then remove it from heat. Allow cream to cool to approximately 105˚.
  4. Taste cream and add a 1-4 drops of peppermint extract to taste.
  5. Pour the cream and mint mixture over a strainer into your melted chocolate. Immediately begin to mix the cream and chocolate with quick strong strokes. Make sure to get all the cream and chocolate off the sides of the bowl into the main mixture.
  6. When the chocolate mixture is completely mixed, cover your bowl and set in a cool dry place to harden overnight.
  7. When the chocolate and cream mixture (ganache) has cooled, it's time to roll the truffles.
  8. Fill a small bowl with cocoa.
  9. Scoop a ball of ganache, and drop it into your hand. Quickly roll the ball into a sphere, then drop it in the cocoa.
  10. Roll the ball through the cocoa powder to coat the sides, then gently place it on a platter.
  11. Repeat until you have turned all the ganache into truffles.
  12. Cover and refrigerate the truffles for up to 10 days.

Day 1: Making the Ganache

IMG_5771_minttrufflesMeasure out 8oz. of chunks of chocolate in a large microwavable bowl.
Microwave in small zaps– 10-20 seconds at a time– stirring in between until most of the chocolate has begun to melt.

IMG_5779_minttrufflesThe warmer portions should melt the remaining chunks while you stir. (It takes us approx. 60 seconds to melt the chocolate.) The chocolate should never get above 165˚; it should be more like 100˚

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Pour cream and mint into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil, then remove it from heat. Allow cream to cool to approximately 105˚.
Taste cream and add a 1-4 drops of peppermint extract to taste.

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Pour the cream and mint mixture over a strainer into your melted chocolate.

IMG_5786_minttrufflesImmediately begin to mix the cream and chocolate with quick strong strokes. Make sure to get all the cream and chocolate off the sides of the bowl into the main mixture.

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When the chocolate mixture is completely mixed, cover your bowl and set in a cool dry place to harden overnight.

 

Day 2: Forming the Truffles

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When the chocolate and cream mixture (ganache) has cooled, it’s time to roll the truffles. Fill a small bowl with cocoa.

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It’s handy to have cool, dry hands when you’re working with the ganache; but no matter what you do, you will be covered in chocolate. Might I recommend an apron?

Scoop a ball of ganache, and drop it into your clean, dry hand. Quickly roll the ball into a sphere, then drop it in the cocoa.

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Roll the ball through the cocoa powder to lightly coat all sides, then gently place it on a platter.

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Repeat until you have turned all the ganache into truffles, or you get too full to finish and just start eating it with a spoon.

 

Storing and Gifting

Cover any remaining truffles and store in your refrigerator. They are usually best eaten in the first week.
If you’d like to share the love, you can get really creative with your presentation, or keep it simple by wrapping them in a small covering of parchment paper.

Ours didn’t last long enough. We really like chocolate.

*If you’re in the Seattle area, I highly recommend the “Introduction to Truffles” class at Chocolate Man. It was a great experience, and made us feel really confident about experimenting with different methods. You can tell Bill really loves chocolate, and science, and teaching. Chocolate Man also has a great selection of pre-made chocolate creations, chocolate supplies, and even tools to rent (CHOCOLATE. FOUNTAIN.)

SEPTEMBER DIY Challenge Roundup and Our Little Break

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We had two amazing submissions for our Cat Themed DIY Craft Challenge this month. We think they are purrrrrrfect. (Okay, now the month is over, we can move on from cat puns.)

 

Judith Laguerre shared a beautiful photo and photo collage made with decorative scrap paper.

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The central element of the collage is a touching photo of my sister’s cat, Muphasa. The photo developed from a photo session that came about organically. Muphasa loved to play with his favorite plush toy. I can’t recall his name. I simply love the regal pose displayed in the photo. You can see that he is in control of the photo shoot. It is my intention for the paper to enhance the photograph. Although he is no longer with us, he will never be forgotten or replaced.

I am fascinated with all aspects of art and photography. It is part method of storytelling and part therapeutic. I can be found out and about exploring this beautiful landscape with my camera and camera phone. Mediums vary, but it is important to remember to have fun exploring them! – Judith

 

This portrait was sent to us by the very talented artist, Britt Greenland.

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This kitty, Lucy Anne, had such a fun engaging expression. My usual medium is oil paint, but I wanted to try something different, so Lucy Anne is painted entirely with oil sticks. This created a much more textured look than I usually get with my brushes and paint. I really wanted the eyes to have a smoother texture, so I did use a brush to smooth those areas.

I love animals, and I love painting, so it’s only natural that I do a lot of pet portraits. I’m always happy to have a new animal on my easel. Currently a hedgehog is staring back at from there. – Britt

You can see other amazing pieces (or commission your own) by Britt at her website, www.brittgreenlandartist.com.

True to the spirit of Adventures in Making, Britt shared a few tips about working with oil sticks, too. (Thanks, Britt!!)

Oil stick pros:
• Easy clean up
• No odors
• No medium required
• Colors are mixable with gloved finger/brush once applied
• Dry to touch in 24 hours
• Self-healing “skin” keeps them from drying out

Cons:
• Not precise color application with the sticks alone
• Self-healing “skin” must be pulled off the stick each session

Tips:
• Let base color dry for a day before applying highlights.
• Wipe stick with a dry cloth frequently to keep color clean.
• Try on various surfaces for a different look and feel.
• Start simple: just an eye or a flower.

 

Here are a few catty posts from the past!

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RECIPE: Crunchy Tuna Cat Treats

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DIY: Add a Kitten Pocket 

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DIY: Pom-pom Cat Toy

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DIY: ‘Cat Nap’ Eye Pillows

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DIY: Black Cat Stamped Scarf

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DIY: 10 Cat Craft Projects


 

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You might have noticed that we have been a little sporadic lately. Rachel and I have both been juggling  amazing projects that we can’t wait to share with you… BUT it’s time for us to take a little break from the blog to focus on those big things.

We’re not gone for good, just until we can get some time back in our schedules. We have a couple of posts coming up, and hope that you’ll continue to share your projects with us!

See you soon!

Alison + Rachel

 

DIY: Quick Printable Catnip Kicking Bag

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This month’s DIY Challenge theme is Cats, so send in all your favorite kitty projects for the round-up at the end of the month. Visit the challenge page for more information, and use the handy-dandy form to upload your project photos. We can’t wait to see what you’ve made! Quick note to those of you who tend more to the barking or chirping animals – we welcome protest projects too. Show us why your favorite is better than our purring friends!

In typical cat fashion, my kitties seem to like toys that are not intended to be toys at all. You might think it’s a child-safe plug cover, but they think it’s the neatest thing since canned tuna. For a while they have been sharing a repurposed jack-o-lantern drawstring bag filled with catnip- and I decided it was time to give them something a little nicer. They do love the scale of the jack-o-lantern bag, which is long and wide unlike most catnip toys, so I decided to replicate the scale with a super-simple catnip kicking bag.

I wanted to customize the bags a bit, and I kept thinking about the lovely art Tara Bliven shared with us last month. I asked if she would write up a few feline words for us, and she did! You can use the free printable below to make this cat toy even cattier!

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Supplies for two Bags

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Download and print out the Cat Fabric according to the specifications on the package.

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Cut the fabric in half to make a sheet 10″ x 3.75″. Peel the backing paper off the fabric and stack it on top of the two pieces of thick fabric- with “right sides” facing out.

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Stitch, 1/2″ in, around three sides and leave the fourth open.

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Pour at least a teaspoon of dried catnip in the middle of your pocket…

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Close the last side of the bag, and trim around it with pinking shears to limit fraying (and add character.)

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Repeat with the second set of materials, and you’re done! A super cute sewing project that’s quick enough that you won’t mind when your kitties shed all over it. Now for the fun part…

(Warning, you are about to be bombarded with too many pictures of my kitties.)

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The dangers of catnip trips. Very unflattering photos.

 

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Success.

A couple of notes

  • The printable fabric is quite thin and I didn’t trust it to contain the catnip for very long, so I used it as an outside layer only. The catnip itself is contained within two layers of thicker fabric.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, try this tutorial to make your own printable fabric!
  • If you are worried about your print running, try this vinegar bath solution to set your ink.
  • Tara is a wizard at decorative writing (and many other arts). Visit her website tarabliven.com  to find out how you can bring more of her awesomeness into your life.

DIY: Add a Kitten Pocket with Polish Remover and Sharpies

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This month’s DIY Challenge theme is Cats, so send in all your favorite kitty projects for the round-up at the end of the month. Visit the challenge page for more information, and use the handy-dandy form to upload your project photos. We can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

I like to “joke” that I have a kitten biological clock. Every couple of years I start thinking about how much fun kittens are, and how cute, and how nice it would be to have the pitter patter of little feet.

Dangerous.

To nip this in the bud this year, I’ve signed up for some future fostering, and came up with this little kitten pocket to bridge the gap. It’s based on a picture of Wee Cooper (our last kitten) and I thought I would share it so you can all have a kitten pocket of your very own.

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Supplies

  • Cotton Tote that kneads needs a kitten. It’s important to use cotton or another natural material because acetone can eat through a lot of synthetic materials.
  • 100% Acetone finger nail polish remover.
  • Cotton pads, balls, or rags.
  • Bone folder or similar tool for burnishing
  • Masking Tape
  • Sharpie Markers – Black and Silver
  • This kitten template* printed with a laser printer or copier. Use the reversed image on the right for transferring.

Step One: Printing and Prepping Your Template

Use a Laser Printer or Copier to print the Kitten Template* on a normal sheet of paper. Black and white is fine. It’s important to use a printer or copier that has TONER instead of ink. The transfer process with move some of that toner onto the fabric. If you try it with ink you’ll end up with a mess!

If you don’t have access to a toner-based printer or copier, or this process doesn’t work for some other reason, never fear! You can use a light table to trace the kitten on your bag, or use transfer paper to apply the design. You can see examples of those processes here and here.

After you have printed your page, cut out the cat and pocket on the right, leaving a large border.

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Step Two: Layout Your Design

Decide where you want to put your kitten, and tape it firmly face down on your bag. Make sure everything is as straight and tight as you can make it.

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Step Three: Blot and Burnish

Saturate a cotton pad with acetone, and press it into the paper. You will start to see the design through the paper. Saturate a small portion of the design with acetone, then switch to burnishing with your bone folder. Rub the side of the bone folder on the paper to press it firmly down into the fabric. Repeat on small sections of the design, then go back over each portion one or two times, adding more acetone and pressure.

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If you can, peak to make sure that you have transferred the kitten. If not, you may want to repeat the process with more acetone and more pressure. If you see the design, move to the next step!

If you don’t see anything at all, there’s a chance your printer won’t work for this process. Don’t fear! You can use a light table to trace the kitten on your bag, or use transfer paper to apply the design. You can see examples of those processes here and here.

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Step Four: Fill it in

If you used a smooth material and have a good transfer you could skip this step altogether– it’s up to you. If you’d like, use a black Sharpie to darken in the design. You can use the left side of the template as a reference for portions you can’t see as well on the transfer.

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When you have the kitten filled in, use a silver Sharpie to add in the whiskers. It will show up on the black of the kitten and on the light bag as well!

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When you’re done let it dry for a couple of minutes, pile all your stuff in it, and take a kitten everywhere you go.

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Purrfect.

 

 

 

*Kitten template includes an original illustration by Alison Lang. We’re happy to share files for personal and educational purposes, but please don’t use it for anything else without our permission. Thanks!

AUGUST DIY Challenge Roundup

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We snuck back with a rainbow inspired DIY Craft Challenge this month, and it looks like you’re all as busy as we are! We got one VERY awesome Rainbow submission from Tara Bliven using our new submission form.

Tara used a brush and colorful gouache on butcher paper as a writing warm-up.

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Been doing a lot of cooking, so I used flavor-y words. – Tara

We love them, Tara!

Here’s a little more rainbow inspiration from our archives to brighten your day!

DIY: Rolled Paper Gift Basket

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RECIPE: Rainbow Bars

DIY: Tie-Dye Tissue Paper

DIY: Tie-Dye Tissue Paper

DIY: Crayon Candles

DIY: Crayon Candles

DIY: Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book!

DIY: Crayons + Free Printable Coloring Book!

DIY: Rainbow Shamrock Brooch

DIY: Rainbow Shamrock Brooch

 

 

 


We’re excited to announce that next month’s theme is close to our hearts… Keep an eye on the Adventures-in-Making blog and Facebook for a some purrrfect projects, and send your cat inspired work to us to be included in our roundup at the end of the month.

DIY: Recycled Rainbow Mobile

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This month’s DIY Challenge theme is Rainbows, so send in all your favorite rainbow projects for the round-up at the end of the month. Visit the challenge page for more information, and use the handy-dandy form to upload your project photos. We can’t wait to see what you’ve made!

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Rainbows are amazing. They’re awe inspiring in the sky, they are a great way to organize things*, and they are just plain magical.

This little recycled rainbow mobile tries to be a few of those things- and has the added bonus of being a nifty reason to doodle.

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SUPPLIES

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Use the thick material punch to cut circles out of every piece of plastic you can find. Don’t worry, the idea of using recycleables for art will make you look insane. Embrace it. (;

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Use your rainbow of markers to doodle decorations on each circle. It’s okay if you have an uneven amount of some color because you think orange is terrible, just have fun!

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Tie three strings to your top ring, and tie those three together to hang the ring parallel to the ground. Find a place to hang this ring while you work.

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Choose one of your most popular colors (purple for me), and poke a small hole near the top of each piece with a safety pin. Cut a piece of thread approximately 12″ long, and string it through one of the holes. Tie the ends of the thread together, and attach it to the hanging ring using a lark’s head knot. Repeat this for each circle of this color.

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Choose the next color in the rainbow (blue in my case) and poke each piece like you did before. This time add two inches to your thread for a length of 14″. Attach each of these pieces to your ring.

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Continue by adding 2 inches to the length of each new color until you have tied all of your pieces to the ring.

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When you have finished, hang it in a bright window and watch it sway and catch the light.

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See, sometimes trash-art is fun!

 

*I may or may not be one of those people who sorts books by color. My librarian mother may be driven insane by this fact.

DIY: Watercolor & Wax Paper Jewelry

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Sometimes I come up with a project that I enjoy so much that it’s hard to stop to write a post. This, my friends, is one of those.

It’s a simple combination of watercolor, melting wax, and punching shapes- but it’s oh so satisfying.

 

SUPPLIES

  • Thick paper for Watercolor
  • Watercolor paints and brushes
  • Pencil
  • Straight Edge
  • Paraffin Wax
  • Scraping Tool, like a vegetable peeler.
  • Iron, ironing board, towel or other surface to catch wiley bits of wax
  • Parchment Paper
  • Scissors
  • Large Thick Material Punches (optional but recommended) I used circle punches in 2″ diameter, 1.5″ diameter, and 1″ diameter
  • Small hole punch
  • Thin cord or ribbon
  • Jump Rings (optional)

Step One: Paint it

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Gather your paper, pencil, straight edge, paints and brushes.

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Draw several parallel lines with your pencil to create stripes of varying widths.

Begin filling in each stripe with a color in the order of the rainbow. (ROY G BIV –  Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet).

If you fill a small stripe, use a similar color next to it (Orange red and Red for instance.) It’s okay if your paint is a little irregular, or you have small white spaces.

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Now it’s time to paint the back of your pendant. Draw some non-parallel lines on a new piece of paper, and fill them in with some of the same colors you used on the other side. Leave a little white space as well. Set your paintings aside to dry.

Step Two: Wax it

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Now you will need your ironing setup, parchment paper, and wax. You might have a little wax escape during the ironing process, so it’s a good idea to have a scrap towel or cotton fabric to protect your ironing board. Remember to keep an eye on your ironing so you don’t singe anything!

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Sandwich one of your dry watercolor sheets inside a piece of parchment paper. Shred a pile of wax on top. (You can always add more wax, so this is a good time to play!)

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Turn your iron to it’s lowest setting, and gently melt the wax between the sheets of parchment paper. You will see the paper start to look wet. Continue working the liquid wax into the paper until it starts to be consistently translucent. You may want to add more wax.

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Flip your paper over, and add a pile of wax to the other side. This will be the “glue” that holds your two sides together.

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Lay the other piece of paper on top of that pile…

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shred some more wax on that, and iron again following the earlier instructions.

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Continue to add wax until the papers are translucent and consistently wet looking. When you’re happy with the look, put a little bit of weight on the stack, and let it cool for a couple of minutes.

IMG_6356_waxedpaperjewelryWhen it is still warm, but safe to touch, uncover the paper, and use your finger or a tool to smooth any puddles of wax. (Playing in wax is one of my favorite things!) Now let it cool completely (a few minutes.)

Step Three: Punch it

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I am loving these thick material punches from Fiskars. I have long abused normal paper punches, and they have a habit of breaking at the worst possible moment. These punches go through everything like butter.

IMG_6361_waxedpaperjewelryUse a punch (or scissors) to take shapes out of your waxed paper…

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until you have a nice little pile of shapes to work with. To turn solid shapes into pendants, punch small holes on one or two sides. You can run cord through these holes (or attach jump rings.)

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After you have everything cut out, polish the shapes by using your fingers to rub excess wax off the surface and edges.

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Feed thin ribbon, cord, or chain through the holes in your pendants. You can feed your cord through, wrap it several times, or tie a lark’s head knot. Anything goes! Leave enough room to slip the necklace over your head, and you’re set.

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Double sided rainbow pendants!

Now I want to wax all the paper. Someone stop me before I go too far!

MAY DIY Challenge Roundup

This blog is powered by whimsy, so this month’s theme was perfectly in line. Fairy tales aren’t always bright tales of princesses and happy endings, but they are a wonderful way to let our imaginations run wild.

Here’s a roundup of submissions we got this month. They are magical!!

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Michelle sent her amazing take on a fairy garden.

Thank you so much for an awesome craft challenge this month. I love anything to do with fairies and would like to submit our Desert Fairy Garden. We used an old wooden tissue box for the main house, built a porch with a swing so the fairies can enjoy the desert sunsets and when nature calls there’s even an outhouse with a long drop.

Check out the blog, A Crafty Mix, to see how they built the garden out of basic materials, and a lot of imagination and talent!


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Morena shared this cheery bird bath inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

 I always loved the tea party scene with Alice and the Mad Hatter, so I created a bird bath with teapots and saucers.  

You can see her DIY instructions on the blog – Morena’s Corner.


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Our challenged inspired Tara to have a little fun with illuminated letters. She used copic pens to draw the beautiful black details and added mica pigmented paints with a brush and a pointed pen to make it all sparkle.


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The students of Eastern Hills Elementary put together these lovely castles from boxes, tubes and other materials.

Kelly Benbrook (who happens to be Alison’s Mom) sent in a few shots of the fairy tale neighborhood on the library shelves.


We have a few things to finish up before we take a little summer break. What are you up to?

 

 

SHOW+TELL: Spray Paint a Briar Rug

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There once was a girl named Alison who had an awkward entry space and no good options. She went searching for a rug to protect what was left of her ugly carpet. She went to store after store with no luck, instead bringing home a rug that was so bland it made her cry.

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No really. I could find NOTHING that I liked. Everything was either too small, too bold, to “contemporary”, or too “tempting for a cat to destroy.” I decided that bland was better than something that was REALLY not me, and I grabbed a can of spray paint in case I got inspired.

This month’s theme was a great chance to embrace my inner subtly-secret-goth-girly-girl and decorate the rug with a few briars (á la Sleeping Beauty, or Briar Rose.)

 

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I used Con-Tact paper to make a mask for the rug. I cut a bunch of free-hand curved pieces, and laid them across each side of the rug in a random arrangement. When each piece was in a location I liked, I stepped on it to adhere it to the rug firmly ( are an awesome tool, too!) Once I had the stems all lined up, I began to decorate each with triangles of thorns.

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When I was happy with everything, I sprayed a thin layer of white all-purpose spray paint across the rug, paying special attention to the edges of the mask. Then I tortured myself by leaving the whole thing to dry a few hours before removing the mask and seeing what it was going to look at.

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After those couple of hours, I gently peeled the mask material off of the rug…

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and had the big reveal.

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After airing the rug out overnight, I put it in place in my entry space.

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No more bland rug!

 

Here’s a word of warning: This was so fun and transformative that I want to spray paint everything in the house now.

I’ve got my eye on you, dining rug… what do you think about circles?

DIY: Patio Friendly Pile-Up Cushions filled with Styrofoam Peanuts

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The weather was nice for a few days in April, uncharacteristically, and began the countdown to the Pacific Northwest Summer. Ahhh; the handful of blissful weeks that makes you fall in love with the trees again, and wipes the memory of the last 8 gray months.

Safety Husband and I have been trying to be more mindful, and that extends to the way we interact with our home. We are who we are [not catalog people] and we want everything at our house to be conducive to the way we live. (Safety Husband is really into Ham Radio, so he would also like to make a great deal of the house conductive*, but that’s a different story.) We have several outdoor areas that would make great external living spaces, but we haven’t done a great job of outfitting them for the task.

All this to explain why I decided I needed to make a giant pile of outdoor cushions that I could lay upon like the Princess and the Pea. I wanted them to be cheap, washable, refurbishable, and also work with our inside decor. Fabric and wood don’t do well outside over the Seattle winter, and I can’t store things in out non-existent storage space. So I put together a handful of pillow forms from scrap material, filled with recycled styrofoam peanuts; then covered them with painted canvas covers. In one afternoon I had 7 assorted cushions, and dreams of the perfect summer.

SUPPLIES

  • Fabric scissors and optional pinking shears
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Pillow Form Fabric: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 45″-wide lightweight scrap fabric per pillow
  • Pillow Cover: approximately 24″ (2/3 yard) of 52″ to 60″-wide canvas-type material per pillow
  • Styrofoam Peanuts: about a grocery sack full per pillow. Make sure that you are using styrofoam peanuts instead of the cornstarch ones that melt under water. Imagine the mess!

DECORATING SUPPLIES

  • Tulip Color Shot Fabric Color:  I used Teal, Blue, and Green.
  • Scissors
  • Tape: masking, packing, cello, washi. Whatever you want!
  • Con-Tact Paper: A great option for cutting out larger masks or covering more material.
  • Decorative punches and scissors
  • Compass, or fun shapes to trace

 

Step 1: Making the Pillow Forms

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Take your scrap pillow-form material and fold it so that the selvedged edges touch. Cut the other two sides with pinking shears so that you have an approximately 23″ square (45″x23″ unfolded.) Sew a 1/2″ seam along the two pinked edges, then do the same for about half of the remaining side.

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Fill the form about halfway full with peanuts, then sew the opening closed to seal your pillow form.

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Hire a professional to test the security of your stitching.

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Repeat until you have run out of material. (I made 7 pillows so that I could make a GIANT PILE.)

Step 2: Making the Pillow Covers

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There is dirt outside, so you want to make sure that your pillow cover can be easily removed and laundered; this also means you want to pre-wash your fabrics so there is no future shrinkage.

Cut your fabric to about 23″ wide. With the back side showing, fold the width of the fabric into a tube about 22″ wide. The overlapped pieces will make the flap for inserting and removing your pillow form.

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Stitch up the two open ends of your tube approximately 1/4″ in.

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Then turn the cover inside out using the open flaps. Make sure to press the corner all the way out with your finger or a pencil.

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Stitch around the outside edges of your pillow cover, about 3/8″ in- then you’re done!

Step 3: Decorating the Cushions to Match your Life.

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Decorating the pillows was definitely the biggest fun in this project (other than sitting in the sun on the cushions later.) If you’re a selfless person, you could share that fun with your family and friends, and let each person design a mask for their own pillow. Masking the pillow is as easy as using tape and scissors. Build shapes out of strips of tape, or cut shapes out of contact paper. (ABOVE: I used a compass to draw circles, then cut and arranged them on the front of my cover.) You could have the initials of everyone in your family, silhouettes of your pets and favorite animals… anything really.

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Once you’ve settled on a masked design, take it outside and spray it down with your fabric spray paint. (I used Tulip Color Shot Fabric Color which is washable and flexible.) Remember that spray paint doesn’t ever go on consistently, so embrace the irregularity and leave some patches lighter than others.

After you’ve got a nice coat of paint on, let your cover dry for an hour or so before pulling off the mask.

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Then let your covers air out for a few more hours.

When everything is dry (not sticky or smelly) you can put your pillow forms into your covers. Slip the form into the open flap, then push it down under the inner over-lapping flap. Press the corners of the form into the corners of the cover and shake and stomp it until everything looks nice.

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Then build the tower of pillow on which you will reign.

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Or, you know. Share with your friends.

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Wheeee! Pillows.

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*I have a feeling that SH will have something to say about this line in the post when and if he reads it, so I’m going to put a disclaimer- like all nerdy types, there is typically a method to his madness, so I am sure the most of the house will remain non-conductive, or resistive, or whatever. Just, you know, antennas. He likes antennas.