Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bath & body products: Introduction

I love making bath & body products probably more than any other craft. It brings together science and art in an amazing combination you can use every day. And it does save you money big time, which is always a concern in this economic climate.

SOME BASICS

Preservatives: I know some people are really against preservatives, but I will not allow anyone to leave my classes or my workshop with adequate preservation. There are no "natural" preservatives, but you do have a range from which to choose. I like Germall Plus - it can be used at levels from 0.1 to 0.5% for most products, and it is affordable. Germaben II is also a good choice. There are others like Optiphen or Suttocide, but I know nothing about these, so I can't really help much. Some preservatives can alter your pH or emulsification, so research your preservative before you use it. Learning to preserve is an art in itself, but using Germall Plus or Germaben II is the easy way to start as they are easy to find and shouldn't mess with your pH or emulsification.

Measuring vs. weighing: As different ingredients have different densities, you will want to weigh your products. Get yourself a good digital scale that measures 1.0 grams (or up to 0.1 grams if you want to make more mineral make-up!) from a kitchen store (London Drugs has a good selection and great prices) or a supply store (Voyageur carries the Escali line for about $40 to start, and these are great!) For some things, like the toner, we could get away with measuring in measuring cups, but this just isn't as accurate as I'd like.

How to interpret recipes: A lot of recipes are listed in terms of percentage, so the entire recipe will total 100%. This makes it easier to make larger batches. If you are making a recipe with percentages, just convert the percentage to grams. If a recipe calls for 80% water, in a 100 gram batch you'll use 80 grams of water. If you want to make 300 grams of the recipe, you'll multiply the entire recipe by 3, so you'll use 240 grams of water. This goes for every ingredient, so if you need 20% oils, you'll add 20 grams of oil, and so on.

Fragrance oils: Please use fragrance or essential oils from reputable retailers (see the side bar for my favourite local suppliers). Do not use perfumes. We found this out the hard way: We made milk bath with Poison and it smelled horrible the next day! You can find water soluble oils at Voyageur, which are great for body sprays, body washes, bubble baths, and other things in which you wouldn't normally use an emulsifier, but most you'll find will be oil based.

Proper techniques: We use the heat and hold method for making lotion and other recipes containing water. This means you should heat your ingredients to 70C and hold it there for about 20 minutes. Now this does mean that some of your water will evaporate, so make sure you put in more than you need and weigh it again before combining. When adding preservatives, fragrance oils, or other heat sensitive ingredients, make sure you have a thermometer to tell you when you've reached 45C.

Packaging: Please do not re-use bottles. You can get really nice bottles at the dollar store or at the supply stores listed on the right. Re-using bottles might seem like a good idea, but if you have bacteria or other nasties in your bottles, you've contaminated your products from the start!

Labelling: This is a fun part of making your own products - coming up with names for the products and fragrances, adding your own pictures, customizing what you make -- and it helps when you want to re-make the products by adding the ingredient list. Make your labels waterproof by using waterproof inks (like Epson inks) on your printer, and spray with Krylon Make It Last! to ensure the labels don't come off under water.

EQUIPMENT
Scale (see above for more information)
Pyrex or heat proof jugs
Double boiler - make one on your stove with a pot and some water
Funnels to pour your creations into bottles
Pipettes (optional - great for small amounts, like fragrance oils)
Various spoons and forks you use only for making products.

A FEW THOUGHTS...
When I'm making a product, I ask myself what is my end goal? For instance, with my body wash I want to create something that has good cleaning power, good lather, a pleasant smell, and moisturizing abilities. So I need to choose my surfactants and additives carefully to ensure I get this end result.

So you've got all this stuff...what next? Tomorrow, tune in to learn how to make a facial toner!

Friday, February 27, 2009

March is National Crafting Month (2 days early!)

It's the most wonderful time of the year! March is National Crafting Month!

I love crafting. I had a moment a few weeks ago when I realized that almost everything I was wearing (my boots, socks, and undergarments aside), everything I had used to get ready that moment, and everything in my purse, including my purse, had been crafted by me or my mom. It was an interesting moment...

Raymond jokes that everything is an opportunity for crafting, that everything needs a cozy, and he's right. I love trying new things - I started by making chocolates, then took up crochet after a friend made me an amazing scarf. Then I tried knitting when I couldn't use those funky fluffy yarns for crochet, then I started sewing when I found it hard to make sweaters that would fit me. Now I make all my own bath & body products (except for toothpaste and deodorant), and I've learned how to fabric stencil and bead recently. What's next? Silkscreening!

So many people say "Oh, I'd love to do that..." and they don't. Why?

Do you fear failure? Are you scared it won't turn out how you planned or that your friends will laugh at you (well, then they're really not your friends!) or you'll waste supplies? Consider every attempt that doesn't work as a learning experience. Cast your ego aside and analyze the situation. Perhaps you didn't follow the pattern well, or didn't use exactly the right supplies, or weren't patient enough. We aren't all going to be awesome the first time we try something, but that's how we learn. We gain confidence from our successes, but our mistakes are when we learn the most. (We call these learning opportunities or teachable moments in social worker speak!)

I know I always thought I wasn't good with my hands...but crafting proves I'm not too bad! I thought I had no colour sense, but looking at threads for cross stitch helped me learn how to match hue and shade! And I'm a total chemistry fanatic now because of the bath & body stuff. So what do you think of yourself? Why not challenge that perception?

Or perhaps you're broke? There are tons of ways to get crafting supplies on the cheap (the dollar, thrift, or discount store are great hunting grounds) or free (re-use and recycle)! Go in with some friends on a product you can share, and make sure you sign up for all the "spend this much and get something off your next purchase" cards.

Chocolate making
Basic supplies: Chocolate (0.69 per 100 grams at Price Smart or Superstore), peanut butter or nuts
Equipment: Double boiler or heatproof jug and a microwave

Bookbinding
Basic supplies: Paper, needle, dental floss, cardstock for the basic cover, pretty paper for a fancy cover
Equipment: Ruler, pencil, scissors or paper cutter
Starter project: Single pamphlet book

Knitting
Basic supplies: Knitting needle, yarn, a pattern
Equipment: Scissors
Starter project: Dishcloth

Crochet:
Basic supplies: Crochet hook, yarn, a pattern.
Equipment: Scissors
Starter project: Dishcloth

Embroidery:
Basic supplies: Thread, fabric, pattern
Equipment: Scissors, needle, an embroidery hoop

Bath & body products - bath salts
Basic supplies: Epsom salts, dead sea or fine sea salts (optional), fragrance oil, food colouring
Equipment: Bowl, spoon, bag to put the sea salts into
Starter project: Bath salts

Bath & body products - bath bombs
Basic supplies: Citric acid, baking soda, oil, fragrance oil, food colouring
Equipment: Bowl, spoon, mold (optional, you can use your hands to make round ones)
Starter project: Bath bombs

Bath & body products - lotion bars
Basic supplies: Oil, beeswax, some kind of butter (shea, mango, or cocoa butter)
Equipment: Double boiler (preferably) or Pyrex jug and microwave, spoon, mould (ice cube tray, silicone ice cube tray, very clean containers from the house, muffin tins)
Starter project: Lotion bars (coming up!)

Fabric stencilling
Basic supplies: fabric paint, sponge brush, freezer paper, fabric
Equipment: X-acto knife, iron
Starter project: Basic fabric stencilling

Jewellery making
Basic supplies: Beads of some sort
Equipment: Wire cutters, pliers

Scrapbooking
Basic supplies: Paper, photographs,
Equipment: Scissors, glue stick, tape
Starter project: Try making a card

Digital Scrapbooking (this is free if you download freebies!)
Basic supplies: Paper, free files downloaded, photographs on your computer
Equipment: Computer, printer
Starter project: Digital Scrapbooking

Sewing
Basic supplies: Fabric, thread
Equipment: Scissors, hand sewing needle, pencil or chalk for hem lines

I hope I've offered you a few ideas that will cost you less than $10 in supplies to get started. Okay, you can go nuts and spend more (I always do!), but why not try something you've never done before?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

CRAFT GROUP CANCELLED TONIGHT

I've cancelled craft group tonight because of the icy conditions we're expecting now that the sun is out and melting the snow. We'll do the jewellery making class in the next few weeks and bump something else back!

Jewellery Making: Using crimping beads

More bracelet-y fun! Today we're going to make a bracelet using flexible wire and crimping beads.

I have no idea what to call this bracelet -- "Super Happy Fun Butterfly Time", perhaps? -- but this is what we're doing in craft group tonight!

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN TODAY
How to use flexible wire
How to use a crimper and crimping beads
How to string beads on a wire

WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY LEARNED
How to measure your bracelet

SUPPLIES (larger wrist size in brackets)
Stringing cable (also known as beading wire. I like to use Beadalon's 7 strand in silver)
2 crimping beads the right size for your beading wire
1 closure clasp
2 butterfly beads (you can use hearts or anything else you like here)
3 - 6 mm round beads (4)
6 - 4 mm bead caps (8)
18 light purple seed beads (21)
12 white seed beads (14)
4 bicone crystals (before & after the butterflies)

EQUIPMENT
Wire cutters
Pliers
Crimpers (optional - you can use pliers to close the crimps, but it is tidier and more secure with crimpers)

WHAT'S A CRIMPER AND CRIMPING BEAD?
A crimper is a tool used to crimp beads. Wow, that was helpful, eh? I guess the question should be: What's a crimping bead? A crimping bead is a small tubular bead used hold your beads in place on a wire or to attach a clasp. We use the crimping bead to stop the bead or wire in its track and hold it where we want it. You know those beautiful floating bead type necklaces? Those are held in place by tiny crimping beads. We are going to use them in this project to hold our clasp in place.

Check out this link at Fire Mountain Gems for how to use crimpers and crimping beads or at Rings & Things!

THE DIRECTIONS
For this project you'll want to cut your wire about 4 inches (10 cm) longer than your desired finished size. If you want a 7 inch (17.5 cm) bracelet, you'll want to cut the wire about 11 inches.

String your bracelet first. (If you are totally sure of the length of your pattern, you can start off by crimping one end of the clasp to one end, but if you do this and you aren't happy with the length of the bracelet, well...you'll have to take all the beads off and start again if you want to add something more.)

Tape one end of the wire down to a table or desk, then thread the beads onto the wire in this fashion...
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple
bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple
bicone crystal
butterfly
bicone crystal
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple
bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple
(for larger wrists: add another bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap, seed bead pattern)
bicone crystal
butterfly
bicone crystal
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple
bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap
seed beads: purple, white, purple, white, purple.

STRINGING & MEASURING: Hold both ends very carefully and see if it will fit your wrist (by now, I hope you've cut the fabric to size so you can use that as a measure, so you don't have to move this around much and risk losing your beads!) If it does, you're done stringing beads. If it doesn't, then add a little to either end - seed beads or the round purple beads - until it fits.

CRIMPING: Now the crimping bead part...don't be nervous! You should have quite a lot of wire left on either end of the bracelet. Keep one end taped down because we don't need it yet and you don't want your beads falling off when you pick it up!

(For a pictorial, please click here or here!) Take one end and thread a crimping bead on it. Now thread one side of the clasp onto this end. Now thread the end of the wire through the crimping bead to make a loop. You may want to trim the end of the wire at this point to leave about 1 inch (2.5 cm) or so. I like to thread the end of the wire through the first few beads because I've found cutting the wire too short can make it fray and come off! So thread the wire through the first few beads, now crimp the crimping bead using the crimping section of your crimper. Then turn the bead half way, and round it using the rounding section of the crimper. You're done!

Do the same thing on the other side of the bracelet. It is going to be harder to thread the wire through the beads as this side is tighter than the other. You're done. Rejoice!

NECKLACE MAKING
Making a necklace is exactly the same process as making a bracelet, only you'll want it to be longer. You'll have to figure out what size suits you best, then cut a piece of fabric to that length as a measuring guide. If you are going to make yourself a necklace with a pendant (using the making a charm with one loop technique), then you will want to make sure it is exactly in the middle, so don't crimp your ends at the start. This can be tricky, but it's all a matter of trial and error.

JEWELLERY YOU CAN MAKE NOW THAT YOU'VE LEARNED CRIMPING!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jewellery Making: Chandelier earrings

I have only recently started wearing earrings (thanks to the wonders of plastic hooks!) and I've fallen in love with wearing chandelier earrings. I have a lot of hair, so I need larger, longer earrings if you're going to see them.

Chandelier earrings are easy to make once you've mastered the one loop and two loop head and eye pin techniques, because really that's all there is to making these earrings.

The pattern on the left (which is what we are doing in craft group on Thursday), "Pretty in Purple", shows the use of a chandelier earring base. You can make your own, but that's a topic for another day.

SUPPLIES
6 - 6 mm round beads
12 - 4 mm bead caps
6 small bicone clear crystals
2 purple small glass beads (6/0 I think they're called)
2 white small glass beads (again, 6/0?)
6 - 2 inch (5 cm) long head pins
10 - 4 mm jump rings
2 chandelier earring forms (from Strung Out on Beads - 12 for $6.00)
2 shepherd hook earrings (plastic ones from Strung Out on Beads - 12 for $2.00, metal ones are cheaper!)

EQUIPMENT
Wire cutters
Pliers

HOW TO MAKE THESE
You will need to make three charms per earring.

Make four of these charms on a 2 inch head pin: bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap, bicone crystal. Make a loop at the top.

Make two of these charms on a 2 inch head pin: bead cap, round purple bead, bead cap, bicone crystal, purple seed bead, white seed bead. Make a loop at the top.

Open a jump ring and thread it through the top of your charm, then thread the jump ring through one of the loops at the bottom of the chandelier form. Do this for the other charms.

Put a jump ring in the top of the chandelier earring form, and thread this through the loop in the earring.

Repeat the above, and you're done! Wear and rejoice!

CHANDELIER EARRING FORMS
There are hundreds of different types of earring forms you can buy, and it really is hard to choose until you've made your first pair. The hardest part about making chandelier earrings is the balance of the bead charm lengths. You will want to make sure the dangly bits aren't completely even, so use your tiny crystals and seed beads to make the charms longer.

CHANDELIER EARRING PROJECTS
When you're strolling about the Internets looking for ideas, you don't have to use the form they suggest. You can use any form you want, providing it gives you the length you desire.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jewellery Making: Two loop bracelets

To your left you will see my "Water" bracelet. It's supposed to represent one oxygen (white) and two hydrogen. (Remember: I'm a chemistry geek!) I've put loops on both ends and connected them with jump rings to the next charm, although in this case I've used two jump rings as my wrists are quite large.

WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED SO FAR...
How to use a head pin
How to use an eye pin
How to create a loop
How to create two loops
How to attach two items together using jump rings
How to thread an eye pin or head pin

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN TODAY
How to size a bracelet
How to attach a series of things together

SUPPLIES (for a regular wrist...for a larger wrist, see brackets)
6 - 8 mm round beads (7)
12 - 2 mm round beads (14)
6 - 2 inch long eye pins (7)
about 20 jump rings (4 mm)
1 clasp of your choice (choose something you can take off by yourself easily!)

EQUIPMENT
Wire cutters
Pliers

HOW TO SIZE A BRACELET
Measure your wrist. Then cut a piece of fabric to the length you want. Use this as your guide to making bracelets. Write down the length of the fabric because you'll want to figure out how many beads you'll need for a project.

For instance, if you have a 7 inch wrist (17.5 cm) you'll want to count beads and clasp sizes to ensure you have enough for your project. If you have a 1.5 cm clasp, then you'll need to fill up 16 cm of space with beads. If you have 8 mm beads, you will need to have 20 of those for your project. If you are using 4 mm beads, you'll need double that.

(To be honest, I am terrible for planning my project in advance and buying just what I need for one project. I always figure I can use the extra for craft group...but if you're on a budget, or are already inundated with tons of supplies, then planning before going to the bead store is a good thing!)

THE PROJECT!
Thread in the following way: 1 small bead, 1 large bead, 1 small bead. Now create your loop on one end (because you've already got a loop on the other end). Do this five more times to create six charms (seven, if you're a big wristed girl!), then attach the loops to each other using at least one jump ring. Make sure it fits your wrist, then add the clasp to either end of the chain. You're done!

Here's a variation of this project I call the "Poison" Bracelet (to match the poison earrings from post #1). I've used three beads (6 mm - green, black, and white) with spacers in between the beads and bead caps at the end of each section. I've done exactly what I did above -- thread the beads on to the eye pin in this fashion - bead cap, white bead, spacer, black bead, spacer, green bead, bead cap - then made the loop at the end. I've attached six of these charms together with one 4mm jump ring, then added the clasp.

NOTES ON CLASPS
I asked Raymond what he wanted for Christmas, and he said "Jewellery you can take off by yourself!" I found these clasps at Country Lane (Surrey) and the Bead to Bead store in Chilliwack. I have no idea what they are called, but they are awesome. Choose your clasp carefully -- there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get your jewellery on your wrist!!!

BRACELET PROJECTS YOU CAN DO WITH THESE TECHNIQUES!
  • Smoky Twist Bracelet (Rings & Things)
  • Crimson Lace Bracelet (Fusion Beads - note: This calls for wire wrapping. You can make it without this technique!)
  • Green Room bracelet (Fusion Beads)
  • Festival of Lights bracelet (Fusion Beads - note: great example of adding charms!)
  • Monday, February 23, 2009

    Jewellery Making: Two loop projects

    Now you know how to make a loop on a head pin. So why not learn to make a loop on the other end? You can cut off the pin part of the head and make a loop so you have two loops per post or you can buy some eye pins and have a loop pre-made.

    Why bother doing this? Because now you can make some awesome bracelets and even longer or more elaborate hanging earrings. The picture to the left is of my Green Hearts earrings (yeah, I know, lame name). They're basic, but I like them!

    WHAT TO KNOW (see yesterday's post)
    Know how to put beads on a head or eye pin
    How to open a jump ring
    How to make a loop on a head pin

    WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
    How to make a ring at either end of a head pin or how to use an eye pin. By learning this technique, you are learning how to make longer earrings or how to make your own charms and attach them to a bracelet. It's a great technique to learn for making chandelier earrings.

    AN ASIDE...
    What's an eye pin? Look right...we have three pins here. The first is a head pin with a fancy head on it (great for molecules!) The second is your regular head pin. The third is the eye pin. It has a loop on the bottom instead of a head. Yeah, this might seem obvious, but if you're a beginner (like me!) sometimes seeing what you are looking for really helps!

    SUPPLIES
    2 small hearts of any colour
    2 small bicone crystals of a complementary colour
    2 larger hearts (you can get these foiled types or other hearts)
    2 eye pins
    2 head pins
    4 jump rings
    2 shepherd hooks

    EQUIPMENT
    Pliers
    Wire cutters

    BACK TO THE PROJECT
    Take your head pin and thread it through the large heart. Make the loop at the top.

    Take your eye pin and thread the crystal through first, then the smaller heart. Make a loop at the top.

    Open up your jump ring and attach the two pieces together. Now open up a jump ring and thread it through the top loop, then through the hole in the earring, then close it. You're done!

    PROJECTS YOU CAN DO WITH THESE TWO TECHNIQUES AND THE MAKING A LOOP AT BOTH ENDS TECHNIQUES

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Jewellery Making: Basic hanging earrings

    If you've never done it before, jewellery making can seem really intimidating. First, you have to go into the shop and choose some beads...and those stores are filled with beads! How can you choose??? Then you have to get some findings, and there are tons of those. Then do you want to make a bracelet, some earrings, a necklace? ARGH! Too many choices!

    For me, I started by finding a pattern that gave me all the information I needed to take to the store so I knew I'd succeed at making something. Then I did a search on-line to find some tutorials on how to do what I had to do (for instance, making a ring), then I tried it. And I loved it!

    So I'll show you what I did here to make my "Poison" simple drop earrings. (These are supposed to represent hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen for HCN or hydrogen cyanide.) You can choose the colours you want. (And yes, those are plastic shepherd hooks. My ears can't tolerate any kind of metal...even the expensive stuff!)

    WHAT TO KNOW...AND WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
    How to make a loop out of wire (from Rings & Things! Great resource, great store!)
    Jump ring hints (and other great information from Rings & Things!)

    SUPPLIES:
    6 - 8 mm round beads.
    4 spacer beads
    2 eye pins (these are 2 inches long)
    2 shepherd hook earrings
    2 - 4 or 6 mm jump rings

    EQUIPMENT
    Wire cutters

    HOW TO THREAD BEADS ONTO A HEAD PIN

    Take your eye pin and thread your beads in whatever order you like. As you can see above, I did green, spacer, black, spacer, white.

    Then follow the directions for making a loop out of wire to make the loop above. Now open your jump ring using your pliers. (Read this for jump ring hints!) Make sure you don't bend the jump ring too much when opening it up. Loop the jump ring through the top of your loop in the eye pin, then thread it through the hole in the earring. Close the jump ring.

    Do the same to the other eye pin and create your second earring. You're done!

    USING BEAD CAPS
    What's a bead cap? Look at the picture on the right. It's a little metal thingie that you can use to cover the ends of your beads. You'd put them on before putting the beads on the head pin. For a 6mm bead, I use 4mm caps. They aren't necessary, but they certainly make your piece look pretty!

    Now you've learned some basic jewellery making techniques:
    • opening and closing a jump ring
    • using an eye pin and creating a loop (Monday: How to make a loop at the other end and projects relating to this!)
    You'll want to practice these techniques for making bracelets - you can hang charms with this technique - and for all the jewellery making stuff that is coming up next!

    TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL (projects you can do with these two techniques)
    WHERE TO GET SUPPLIES!
    In Chilliwack: Bead shop on Yale Road (downtown) or Wal-Mart
    In Abbotsford: Strung Out on Beads
    In Surrey: Country Lane
    On-line: Click on Rings & Things above (Spokane) or Fusion Beads (Seattle)

    Jewellery Making: How to make a loop on a head or eye pin

    There are tons of tutorials on how to make a loop, but I thought I'd throw mine into this post. And yes, my loop is a bit messy...just like me!

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    Random Saturday links

    Work has been crazy busy this week, and I'm trying to get ready for the jewellery making class next week, so I know I'm falling behind in posting (the mineral make-up post, for instance), but I'm feeling very random today, so here's a bunch of stuff, accompanied by a picture of Raymond petting a chicken.

    Think natural equals hypoallergenic? Think again! Even natural fragrances can cause allergies! (from the beautybrains.com)

    What's the difference between skin irritation and an allergy? Read the Beauty Brains to find out!

    Lip scrub recipe at The Sage.

    Two beautiful rings: The imprint ring and the sound wave ring! (No, you can't make these yourself, but they are lovely!)


    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Dessert sushi!

    So we made some dessert sushi on Thursday night (no pictures, sorry, they were eaten far too quickly!)

    SWEET NIGIRI
    Get some rice krispy squares (buy them or make them)
    Some gummy fish
    Fruit by the foot (green, preferably, but we used tropical as I couldn't find green and the tropical was on sale!)

    Cut the rice krispy square a little wider and a little longer than your gummy fish.
    Put the gummy fish on top.
    Cut the fruit by the foot into a 1 inch strip, and wrap it around the entire thing.
    Eat.

    Here are a few links for awesome (fake) dessert sushi!

    Brownie Points' amazing dessert sushi...very elaborate, not for the beginner!
    From Disney, rice crispy squares and fruit by the foot! Very simple.
    Not Martha brings us a zillion different recipes. Try them all!

    Yeah, my blood sugar is soaring just thinking about this...

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Sushi! (Thursday night's class in Chilliwack!)

    We're making sushi tonight, so come hungry and interested in how to make your own maki, inari, and miso soup!

    MISO SOUP
    How to make dashi (from about.com)
    Or use instant dashi to make your dashi broth.

    5g dried wakame
    80g silken tofu (1/4 size standard block
    1 tbsp miso paste (red or white)
    300g dashi
    chives to garnish
    mushrooms to garnish (optional)

    Soak the wakame in water to revitalize, then cut into bite size pieces. Cut the tofu into 1.5cm cubes.
    Heat the dashi for 3-4 minutes, then add the miso and allow to dissolve.
    Add the wakame and tofu and heat gently for 5 minutes, being careful not to let it boil. Garnish with the chives when serving.

    SUSHI RICE
    3 cups Japanese rice
    3 1/4 cups water
    1/3 cup rice vinegar
    3 Tbsp sugar
    1 tsp salt

    After washing and soaking Japanese rice, cook and let it steam. Wash the rice! This is essential for nice rice!
    See How to Cook Japanese Rice video

    Prepare sushi vinegar (sushi-zu) by mixing rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Put the pan on low heat and heat until the sugar dissolves. Cool the vinegar mixture.

    Spread the hot steamed rice into a large plate or a large bowl. Please use a non-metallic bowl to prevent any interaction with rice vinegar. It's best to use a wooden bowl called sushi-oke. Sprinkle the vinegar mixture over the rice and fold the rice by shamoji (rice spatula) quickly. Be careful not to smash the rice.

    To cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look. It's best to use sushi rice right away.

    Makes 4-6 servings, about 2 cups


    FILLINGS: TAMAGO (rolled egg)

    4 large eggs
    105 ml dashi (a scant 1/2 cup American) (1/2 of a 210cc Japanese cup, smaller than a 240cc American cup)
    (you can substitute an equal amount of water and 1/4 tsp hondashi — bonito stock granules)
    1 Tb mirin
    1/2 Tb sugar
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp soy sauce

    INARI (my personal favourite!!!)
    Inari are tofu pouches you can stuff with rice or other things. A really nice combination is the seasoned sushi rice with black sesame seeds, but you can try regular sesame seeds or leftover tamago, even umeboshi (pickled plum).

    BENTO BOXES

    Note: If you are looking for cute bento boxes, check out Daiso (Aberdeen Centre, Richmond) or H-Mart (Surrey, supermarket).

    And I just found this link to an Obama roll! (In Japanese) And you have to see this Flickr set of various adorable bento box meals!

    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    More melt & pour geekery

    If you read the Monday post, you'll see life got away from me this week. The mineral make up post for this week won't be up until Thursday as I haven't had a second to do some serious writing and/or photography for it. Guess my resolution for getting organized isn't going as well as I had hoped!

    Digitalsoaps has done it again! She has made us fall in love with a bar of soap! I love love love this soap and wish to own it. So if you want to buy me a present...I do have a wedding coming up, you know!

    (And for those of you less crafty and more construction-y, here is the most amazing Nintendo table. I wouldn't mind one of these as a wedding present...)

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    Random crafting links for a lazy Tuesday!

    I love love love these paper bag recipe cards! Re-use, recycle, and be fabulous!

    Collapsible dog bowl for those long, wonderful walks with your bestest friend!

    Little boxy pouch tutorial! This would make a lovely make-up bag for the upcoming holiday season!

    Monday, February 16, 2009

    Bath & body link-o-rama

    I'm going to admit it...I'm having trouble being crafty this week between preparing for various groups and working too much...so this week is going to be about links that might inspire great craftiness. It's not that I don't have a million ideas, just that my hands don't seem to want to do what I ask them to do, and I keep messing up. There's nothing wrong with making mistakes -- hey, that's how we learn, right? - but I figure I'll give my hands a break this week and gather ideas. (Evelyn Lau once said that writing is 80% observing and thinking, 20% actually writing. I think I'm in an observing and thinking mood...)

    Voyageur Soap & Candle has some of the best recipes for bath & body products. Check out this section for bath products, this section for body care products, and this section for hair care products. (The bubble bath is the one we use for class, as is the body wash. The hair care section is incredible - I love the At Home Salon Conditioner and the Leave In Conditioner. I made 2 litres of the leave in this weekend with some tweaks!)

    Rose bud bath melts
    at From Nature with Love...add shamrocks to make it St. Patrick's Day themed!

    Foaming bath salts from The Sage. As a note, this recipe makes 25 POUNDS! If you want to make less, you could mix 4 cups of salts with 1 tbsp of SLSa (known as Lanthanol at Voyageur). Mix it all together, then separate it into 100 gram batches (1/4 to 1/2 cup), then colour and scent it. You'll want to use 1 gram of fragrance oil per 1/4 cup.

    And more from The Sage - magic coloured bath fizzies. They look white, but change colours in the bath! This is awesome!


    Sunday, February 15, 2009

    Hobby and craft resource centre at the library

    If you have a Fraser Valley Regional Library card (and if you are a craft, games night, video games club, or Genshiken member I hope you do!) you can now access the hobby and craft resource centre on-line! Visit the link, punch in your library card number, and enjoy the access to a ton of various magazines, books, and other publications that we'd normally have to spend tons of money to read! So get there now!

    (I'm still having a browse, but there are so many great ideas and patterns in PDF format. It doesn't allow tabbed browsing, so I might be a while...)

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    The day of love is upon us. If you have a partner, grab 'em and give 'em a kiss. If you don't have a partner, then find someone you love and give 'em a kiss! Yeah, some people complain Valentine's Day is a man-made holiday that is intended to make us spend money during a slow time of the year (see "The Simpsons" for Love Day!), but I think it's a cheap excuse to give someone you love a wet sloppy kiss and remind them what they mean to you! You don't need to spend money...just spend some time!

    (And yes, this is me, age 7, with my dad. I have a terrible haircut. And my dad is straight out of the 70's, but considering it is the 70's, let's not pick on him for his fashion sense, eh? This picture should tell you why I fear hair dressers! This was the last time my hair was shorter than half way down my back!!!)

    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Can you feel the love?

    Well, Valentine's day is almost upon us, and there's still time for a little craftiness! Although I'm of the opinion that nothing says I love you like chocolate and sugar (this cake is our "Jurassic Love" cake with kissing dinosaurs!), there are other ways to show the love! Here are a few last minute items you can make in time for the big day of love. (And if you aren't a fan of Valentine's Day, there's no reason you can't make these things anyway and call them "Saturday gifts"!)

    Valentine matchboxes! Perfect for little gifts!
    Bath melts! (Not chocolates - do not eat, although it won't kill you!)

    As I always say, I love the love! Have a great Valentine's Day!

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    CRAFT magazine is no more...

    Well, today marks the day of the last printed edition of CRAFT magazine. I am proud to call myself a crafty girl. I'm always looking for new ideas and new crafts I can enjoy. I teach craft groups. I am the epitome of the target market for this magazine...but I've never bought a copy.

    I check it out each month, but at $15.00 a copy, it would have to be pretty spectacular to justify that hole in my budget. It seems like a lot of their ideas are ones I've seen time and time again, or ones I can find for free online. Raymond points out that it seems most of the ideas from both MAKE and CRAFT are meant for people who live in Manhattan (or another large American city with tons of resources) or for people who are willing to save money by dumpster diving. (I'm all about the cheap crafting, with my tendency to injure myself doing normal things like walking down stairs, I don't think climbing into giant containers to find stuff is a good idea!)

    So farewell CRAFT magazine...we hardly knew ye!

    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    Mineral make-up - Part 8: Purple with manganese violet

    This week, we're going to learn the joys of using manganese violet to make purples. If you compare it to the ultramarine purple, you'll notice it is a much deeper colour than the purple. Which means you're going to use much less than you would for the lighter colours.
    You can make an awesome base just using 3 parts eye shadow base (from the first post) and 1 part manganese violet. (If you don't know how to make eye shadow or what I'm talking about, please see the second part of this tutorial on how to start out!)

    DEEP PURPLE (no micas, matte)
    3/8 tsp base
    1/8 tsp manganese violet
    1/32 tsp (small white scoop) black-blue iron oxide
    You might recognize this recipe from the previous post on purples. We're doing a variation here with the manganese violet. You are going to see a deeper colour here than with the ultramarine violet, and I think it's a good exercise in learning what the different colours do with the base...and it's an awesome colour. The black takes the colour deeper - you could leave it out, but then you just have the base colour listed above.

    PURPLE (shiny)
    3/8 tsp base
    1/8 tsp manganese violet
    up to 1/4 tsp patagonian purple or metallic pixie (from Suds & Scents)
    This is going to be a shiny purple and quite awesome indeed. The picture to your right is of patagonian purple mica. I would suggest getting something like this into your mica collection as we use it all the time. This is a great colour for contouring and eye lining.

    PURPLE MIST (shiny)
    3 tbsp base
    1/2 tsp and 2 small white scoops ultramarine purple
    1 scoop blue-black iron oxide
    3 scoops magnesium violet
    1 1/2 tsp patagonian purple
    2 scoops sunpearl silver
    This has some nice sparkle to it.
    And finally...

    PURPLE SHEEN (really shiny)
    1 part base
    1 part patagonian purple or metallic pixie
    This is a very light, sheeny purple (Yeah, I know it doesn't contain any manganese violet, but I thought it was pretty!)

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Karaoke video games: Verdict? Awesome!

    Ladies and gentlemen! Point of Interest is proud to present Wanda and the Elvii!

    So finally managed to get Rock Band to work (we tried it for the PS2, it wouldn't run; the Wii version we rented had a huge scratch in it, so we finally bought the thing!) and it's awesome! So here are a few of my thoughts about karaoke or singing video games...

    1. Get out the midnight black eyeliner - Wanda is a secret emo girl! The second a song comes up that sounds remotely emo-ish, we hand her the mike and let her rip! 5 stars!

    2. There are so many songs you think you know - trust us, you don't. "We are family! I know that!", but it turns out you only know the one line from a Cheez Whiz commercial and you have to mumble or hum to get through the song.

    3. The flip side of this? You know many more songs than you think you do! How do I, a headbanger since the age of 5, know every single note of "Take on Me" by A-Ha? I blame the resurgence of radio stations only playing hits from the 80's and clothing stores that play the same four songs over and over again!

    4. Songs have stupid lyrics. So many songs that held such deep meaning -- ones that made me weep for their beauty as a teenager -- are babble. I had to sing a death metal type song about headless corpses and trees and something about someone falling in love with someone - three to be exact! -- and I still can't make sense of it. (And remember, I was an English major, so I spent a lot of money and much time learning how to inject symbolism into the most banal things!)

    The inverse of this - some songs you think are really silly will actually make some sense to you when you think about them for a while. Listen to "Spoonman" by Soundgarden. I think I figured it out (I'll let you interpret that one for yourself!)

    5. Some of these songs will run through your head for days. There's one -- I think it's PDA by Interpol - which has lyrics like "sleep tight, grim right, we have 200 couches so you can sleep tight..." I can't get it out of my head. (And is it wrong that, with a little tweaking, I think this might be a good ad for Sleep Country?)

    6. Songs are quite repetitive. Raymond did an amazing job on "Pretend We're Dead" by L7, but had to spend 2 minutes of his life he's never going to get back intoning "Dead......dead.......dead" and so on. It is amazing how many times you have to sing "Girls just want to have fun" at the end of the song. It's like the song writers just gave up at a certain point in the song and decided throw in a Gregorian chant. (Raymond points out that this is so the band has a chance to shine with solos, but it is still pretty annoying.)

    7. You are probably a much better singer than you think you are. I realize most of us sing in the shower (or car) and secretly think we sound awesome, but most of us really can carry a tune. With a little confidence and more singing from the chest to give it some power, I have yet to hear someone who is truly tone deaf. This is why I like singing things like power ballads - you can be totally silly and over the top and have some fun with it, and you will realize you did really well and get more confidence! The more confidence you get, the better you are going to sing!

    And finally...try the songs you don't know. We've been having fun trying songs we've never heard, and we're surprised at how quickly we've picked them up. (See 1 above for Wanda's secret talent!) And you get to sing songs about headless corpses and trees!

    Monday, February 9, 2009

    WEEKLY CHALLENGE (and awesome crafting!)

    What's better than a soap? A soap shaped like a Playstation controller! (Raymond says you have to watch out for the analogue joysticks when you're bathing!) Check out Digitalsoap's Etsy site for more awesome geek inspired soaps (and I use geeky as a compliment!) like calculators and cell phones! (And her fragrance choices fall into the category of serious yum!)

    If you've taken a look through this blog, you'll know I'm a big fan of the chemistry, and Molecular Muse (check out her Etsy shop for molecular awesomeness!) If you wanted to get me a gift, this caffeine necklace would be the epitome of excellence (ironic, considering I don't actually drink coffee) or the theobromine earrings!

    Inspiration can come from anywhere, and cross-overs from things you love that aren't crafty make that craft your own. (And as Raymond says, everything's an opportunity for crafting!) Molecules and video games aren't usually what comes to mind when you talk about crafting, yet look at these beautiful examples of amazingness when you cross life with crafts!

    What has meaning to you? Is it a saying you could stencil (I think about Melissa's "Lion and Lamb" tote bag - beautiful!) or a joke that only you and your friends get that would make an awesome cake (that is not a lie!)? When we're learning to craft, we need patterns and tutorials, but as we learn more, we can find inspiration in pretty much everything and drawing from that inspiration makes the project yours! We craft because we want something that is uniquely ours, something no one else has, and these two examples show you where others find their inspiration.

    So I am offering you a challenge! Craft something that is uniquely yours this week. Something someone else could immediately identify as something you've made. Ask yourself some questions - Who are you? How do you define yourself? What adjectives to you use to describe yourself or your interests? Are you a 21st century crafter or are you a fan of the retro look? What is your crafting style? Do you like to purchase patterns and follow them to the letter or do you like to see something and figure out how to make it? Choosing your fabric or colours or flavours or scents with these thoughts in mind will make the crafting your own. (You know if you see a 50's font, a lime green anything, a sushi purse, or something that smells like cake, it has to be mine!)
    • Create a purse with a funky fabric you love...
    • Stencil something on a shirt that only a few people will get...
    • Sew a stuffed animal that looks like a friend...
    • Create a pair of earrings and give them a name that only a friend will understand...
    • Bake a cake and decorate it...
    • Find something to use as a mold and make a soap (try very very clean food containers for new ideas!)
    • Create a new eye shadow colour!
    • And as always, try making marble magnets with pictures you love..

    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    Yarrow: Saturday, February 7th

    If you attended the group in Yarrow on February 7th, thanks! We had a great time and I hope you enjoyed it, too.

    Here is a link to some ideas for chocolate making!
    Part 1 and Part 2.

    Saturday, February 7, 2009

    Better crafting through chemistry...part 1 of a million!

    Hi, I'm Susan, and I'm addicted to chemistry. Everything I see, do, eat, or breathe can somehow relate to chemistry. A great deal of my crafting has to do with chemistry -- bath & body stuff, mineral make-up, cooking & baking -- and now I've started making molecules. My friends and family are starting to think I'm slightly eccentric, but I can't help it. Chemistry is amazing - fascinating, even -- and it surrounds us every second of every day.

    (left & right: "poison" earrings and necklace - hydrogen-carbon-nitrogen - or cyanide molecules! Below my heptahydrate or 7 water molecule bracelet!)

    If I say "Wanna know something interesting?" my family cringes, knowing I'm about to say something about chemistry. But it is interesting. The more I learn about how the world works, the more fascinating it becomes. I can't just look at a cup of tea any more -- it's now a heterogeneous mixture (solution) that may be precipitating while I watch it!

    But this post is more about how amazing science can be and how I wish I'd learned it sooner. I didn't take chemistry or physics in high school because I wanted straight As to get into university...and I always regretted it. Hence the taking of chemistry now. I think more people would be interested in the sciences if they could see an application for it, say, like bath & body products.

    Think about it. If you were introduced to the concept of acids and bases through a textbook or by learning how to make and use a bath bomb, which one would intrigue you? Or if you knew more about the chemistry of cooking? I always hated in school when someone would whine about never having to use "this" (algebra, history, English, and so on) in real life, because there are so many applications for what we learn (like tidy posts on a blog not filled with punctuation and grammar errors!), and so many times in life when we could use what we've learned to make life a bit easier (figuring out area using algebra). So here's a way to make learning science hands on and useful to those students who might otherwise not be interested.

    (I'm not sure how to end this post other than to say that science is awesome, and I'm sorry if I'm annoying people with it. I guess I'm just so fascinated by it all!)

    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Melt & pour plus stamps equal awesome soaps!

    Hie thyself to the Soap Queen's blog to check out her tutorial for rubber stamping soap. This is awesome. It's better than awesome - it's super mega ultra double dog awesome! (And check out the other ideas here!)

    And yes, I'm feeling a bit better...I'll get posting the eye shadows soon!

    Wednesday, February 4, 2009

    Valentine's Day gifts: Cakes!

    As a note, as I am currently enjoying the stomach flu or something similar, the Wednesday mineral make-up tutorial is replaced with this post. I hope to be well enough to post the purple eye shadow post on Thursday or Friday. (Just in time for National Mole Day on Friday, February 6th! Cupcakes, anyone?)

    (This cake is not a lie...)

    Nothing says "I love you" to your Valentine than gooey, chocolate-y (or vanilla-y) cakey goodness, so why not get baking? You remember the basics of decorating, right? No? Then why not click to the post from November in which I link like silly to various cake and cookie decorating sites (with recipes!)

    Okay, so you have a few ideas, but how about a few more?

    So the first suggestion I have is to make some cupcake bites. They're the goodness of cupcakes in a lollipop format! Highly adaptable - check out these ideas - and very tasty! Try those today!

    Or devil's food cake with chocolate frosting (you can use a boxed mix for this cake!)

    Or ice cream cone cupcakes! Lactards like me can enjoy this kind of ice cream treat (because there's no ice cream...)

    And this might be out of my decorating league, but I had to add to today's post to include this amazing box of chocolates made out of cake! Yes, it's cake! It's freakin' cake! (I'm astonished, okay?) And she has a tutorial for making it, so you need to click here so you can make your own!Stop thinking about it and click to see this. And then make me one. Hey, my blood sugar's doing fine and I love cake!

    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Valentine's Day gifts: Paper crafts & decorations

    More love, I say! This time of year might be cold and damp, but when you have the love, who cares? So I bring you some ideas for card making for the loveliest day of the year!

    Sewn paper cards are lovely, and easy!

    A no-sew paper garland with fabric. You could use paper for the front of these hearts to make it easier! I know what I'm making this weekend!

    I love these old-timey cards -- I printed these a few years ago for my office!

    This is awesome! Valentine's day tea bags and tags - two great things in one!

    I love the woven heart bag - I did these a few years ago in felt - and you can make them out of fabric or paper! You can make them with three sections or a ton, like this post. (I think this is the best tutorial I've found so far at Maya*Made.) You can fill the bag with chocolates you've made or other trinkets, and you'll see a happy smile on the face of your giftee!

    There's the round up for the day...I'm sure I'll find more as the big day approaches!

    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Exploding bath bombs?

    EXPLODING BATH BOMBS (click here to read more at the CBC)? Apparently a company from China sold a kit over the Christmas holidays that allowed you to make your very own bath bombs at home! But they failed to allow for ventilation of the citric acid/baking soda mixture, and the tops flew off, injuring quite a few people.

    How the heck does this happen? When citric acid and baking soda come together, they release carbon dioxide (CO2) - the fizz in the bath bombs. If the CO2 has nowhere to go, it will put pressure on the container and it could force the top off the container violently. So what does this teach us? Do not put your bath bombs in a sealed container - plastic, glass or otherwise! Put them into a nice cellophane bag or a sushi container (in the case of cupcakes) or other bag-like storage!

    As a secondary note, the article mentions the citric acid could irritate eyes. If you put the citric acid in your eyes, then yes, it will sting. An easy way to avoid this? Don't put the citric acid in your eyes. (If you are the unfortunate victim of this exploding container, then I guess it's unavoidable. For the rest of you, remember what I say in craft group - if you eat it and you get sick, it's not my fault. I'll be sad you're sick, but I warn everyone to not put things in their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth!)

    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Valentine's Day: Stuffed food and more!

    Why not make a more lasting symbol of your love for your Valentine - one in the form of a stuffed toy?

    I found this incredible site - Cherrymix.com - with wonderful Japanese food themed stuffies. Onigiri, shrimp tempura, fortune cookie (okay, not Japanese but still cute!) -- I'm sure your Valentine would really appreciate it! And don't forget the cutest cupcake stuffy you will ever see! (That's not to say the ones below aren't adorable, but I really like this one for beginners!)

    Or make some sushi catnip toys (from goodygoody.com). You can make these for people you love as well!

    A heart covered pincushion from Lollychops says both "I love you" and "sew for me"!

    How about an adorable cupcake party stuffie? (From Craftster). And another adorable cupcake stuffie! And yet another! (Or check out the cupcake wars for more excitement!) Oh, my blood sugar can't take it!

    Show your Valentine some love by making a stuffed Valentine pin he (or she) can wear as a constant reminder of your love (and your craftiness)! (Link to pattern here...)

    How about a little sewn fortune cookie -- yeah, it might not seem Valentine-y, but it's the perfect medium for an adorable and loving message! Or try this, more elaborate version done with fabric (not felt).

    And you can top a lot of these off with an accompanying stuffed strawberry!

    If you like crochet, why not crochet a cupcake amigurumi!