Peppermint Bath Salt DIY

I have a large circle of fabulous people that I work with.  I have never been a big fan of buying gifts for colleagues for many reasons, but have found that my homemade gifts are much more memorable.

This year, I have all women (with exception of one great guy) that surround me professionally. All fun, friendly, and festive. I needed something that I could make a large batch of, please the masses, and acknowledge the hard work that happens daily.

Each jar was less than $2 to make with plenty of extract left over for another craft.

Homemade Peppermint Bath Salt

For 12- 4 ounce jars you will need:

.5 fl ounces of Peppermint Extract

3 lbs. of Basic Epson Salt

The Super Easy Instructions

1. Pour Epson Salt into a large bowl

2. Drop 12 drops of peppermint extract and mix together

3. Scoop into jars and seal

4. Add your own adorable touch (Cupcake Liners for a jar topper)

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Tastes of Fall

Figs. Why is it, the fall calls for figs? I searched my local stores for these delicious little delicacies without success, until my brain finally calculated the most likely location to find these little sweets.  The Olympia Co-Op to the rescue! Even as a member of the co-op, I still forget to go there first. While on my search, I stopped by another favorite produce and local food stop- Spud’s Produce Market, and found persimmons.  I can’t say that I have ever cooked with persimmons, but hey, there is a first time for everything and they just stood out in all of their golden orange beauty.  I have my usual produce haul in the fridge, and had some pears that begged to be used.  So enter my first attempt at a baked fruit tart. Beautiful, not so much. Delicious, absolutely.  Recipe at bottom (excuse the blurry photos as the recipe goes on… wine may have been involved…)

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Ingredients:

1 Cup of Flour

1 Stick of Butter

2 Pears

1 Persimmon

4 Figs

A drizzle of Honey

How To:

Start by slicing your chilled butter into the flour, taking time to pinch it in on a cool surface.  This keeps the “dough” cold.  Keep combining using your fingers, until all flour and butter are together.  Roll into a ball, place between wax or parchment paper and roll out.  Place in the fridge to keep cool.

Slice your fruit into thin, long strips.  I chose to use more pears and persimmons to keep a texture that is more firm. Slice figs in half. Set aside.

Take dough from the fridge, press into a tart pan. I chose my porcelain version, but it might be better to get a removable bottom tart pan if you’re feeling fancy.  Once dough is flattened to bottom and partially up the sides, place the fruit on in a pretty pattern.  I used extra figs and honey to create a glaze in a pan on medium heat. Preheat your oven to 425. I drizzled honey mixture on top and placed it into the oven.  Baked for about 40 minutes.  Cool, serve, eat.

Calligraphy- a nearly lost art

I’m not sure about anyone else in my immediate generation, but I haven’t really written cursive since Mrs. Petrich’s 4th grade class. It’s slightly depressing to see my attempts at formal cursive- nothing seems to properly connect, and as for scale? Totally non-existent.

Enter Calligraphy, and a lovely local artist, trying her best to rekindle this dear pastime. Caitlin Dundon of One Heart Studio in Ballard, Washington is meticulously mastering her craft and willing to share with any wanting to learn.  I signed up for her Into to Calligraphy course with my favorite photog-friend, Mary of Mary Jo Photography.

After venturing around Fremont and Ballard to partake in deliciousness at The Other Coast Cafe, we wandered around Venue-the location of the class. It is an incredible local store with really great locally crafted goods. It took a lot of willpower to not buy every.single.thing. in that store. I did not leave empty handed- but could have enjoyed everything there.

The class had 8 openings, 7 of which were filled. Two long tables are set up with all necessary supplies in the middle of Venue. Paper, ink, and your own take-home Calligraphy pen are included. Caitlin is attentive to learning needs, and demonstrates her craft with ease. She gives a little bit of background for each type taught.  Students are encouraged to learn the basics and add their own flair. Needless to say, I struggled immensely with my “formal” calligraphy style, but the whimsy of my innate penmanship certainly took over with plenty of support of all around.

I have all intentions of signing up for Calligraphy II: Fun and Fancy Lettering offered.  Classes start at $40. Which is  a stellar deal for the art of a diminishing craft.

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DIY- Industrial Iron Pipe Shelves

In between the day job and the portrait photography, I LOVE to create. Luckily, so does the Handsome.  Part of why we work so hard is to really enjoy our home and life together.  I found myself with some free time in the last days of my vacation recently, and could not sit idle.  We’ve been improving our home for the last 5 years, from bathroom/kitchen remodels, to a pergola, and a new 2nd story deck.  We tend to reuse materials often- we’re green like that.  The Handsome has been hoarding the old lumber for more than 3 years now, and was consolidating recently- we just couldn’t part with that old decking.

There has always been an unused portion of our tall living room wall that has never looked quite right.  It was time to fix it. Enter iron pipe and the salvaged lumber.A trip to the hardware store to get the following after doing a little math for how big we wanted this masterpiece to be:

2 – 6″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

2  – 8″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

12 – 10″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

4 – 12″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes

6- 1/2″ Threaded T’s

4 – 1/2″ Threaded 90’s

2 – 1/2: Threaded Couplings

10 – 1/2″ Flanges

1 box of 1 5/8″ Counter Sunk Screws

1 can of Rust-o-leum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray paint

1 can of Rust-o-leum Indoor Clear Polyurethane (optional)

You will need lumber if you don’t have the salvaged wood option

Directions and cost breakdown are listed below.

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1st, thing is 1st: your flanges will probably be silver. I was informed that they don’t make un-galvanized flanges because they are usually used outside and need to be rust-proof.  The can of spray paint will more than cover the flanges, so do this first to let them dry.

Gather your pipes and complete a configuration that will work with your space. I chose to have a mix of smaller and larger shelve spaces to break up the wall a bit. Your hands will be filthy- the pipes are not clean FYI.

My pattern went for each “leg” went from top to bottom: 90, 10″, coupling, 6″, T, 12″, T, 8″, T, 12″, 90.

I then attached 10″ pipe to each 90 and to each T.  These will be the pipes that hold your shelves. Depending on your wood width, you could use a different length.

To each 10″ pipe, I attached a flange.  This will serve as your connection to the wall.

With the Handsome’s help, we attached each “leg” to the wall. We used a level and a tape measure to ensure the distance was correct and that the shelves would stay level.  We pre-drilled a few of the flanges before attaching to the wall to make sure we had some solid footings in the wall. This is a fairly heavy frame, so a stud should be used to secure the shelf “legs” to the wall.

We went through some of the old decking that we had salvaged that had some dry wear on it.  Some cracks and dings didn’t scare us.  We measured a portion of the wall and made cuts accordingly.  54 inches in length for four boards. Our lumber was mismatched a bit, so we had to make a cut to make the depth match the iron pipe. Using Polyurethane, I added several coats to make a slick surface on the worn wood to make future cleaning much easier.  This is definitely not necessary, but for someone who loves to make cleaning easier, this is a lifesaver.

Once the boards were dry, we placed them on the shelving frame.  After a few days, I took out one of the middle planks to make the space a little more dynamic.  I am still working on adding our favorite collections to the shelves, but it has changed the entire feel of the room for a pretty small price all things considered.

Here is the cost breakdown:

2 – 6″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $2.05 x 2= $4.10

2  – 8″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $2.89 x 2= $5.78

12 – 10″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $3.40 x 12= $40.80

4 – 12″ Black Threaded 1/2” Pipes $3.84 x 4= $15.36

6- 1/2″ Threaded T’s $1.95 x 6=$11.70

4 – 1/2″ Threaded 90’s $1.53 x 4= $6.12

2 – 1/2: Threaded Couplings $1.53 x 2= $3.06

10 – 1/2″ Flanges $6.24 x 10= $62.40

1 box of 1 5/8″ Counter Sunk Screws=$6.47

1 can of Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray paint =$6.42

Lumber = Salvaged ($0)

Polyurethane= Optional ($7.99)

Grand Total: $162.21

Suburban Homesteading

Although I’ve grown fond of my current home, I don’t quite belong in the suburban area of Olympia. I am naturally drawn to the extremes of a big city or small town.  Lately, it’s definitely been on the smaller side of things. This is best demonstrated when I use my spare time to do a little homesteading. This can be anywhere from using local flora for decor, or making preserves from local bounties.

After a trip to my Gram’s orchard, I found myself with two large crates of our family pears amongst apples and Italian prunes.  In hopes of avoiding waste (and fruit flies), I took to the kitchen with mason jars and some patience. Pears were 1st.

The method is so simple:

Wash & Rinse

Cut pears in half

Remove the core

Peel and chunk

Add a squeeze of local honey and lemon juice in the bottom of each jar

Add the pears with some hot water

And finish in a water bath to seal

No unnatural additives, just pure, sweet home pears.

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