Friday, October 2, 2015

Acorn Wine Charms

 Fall is a season that really gets my creative juices flowing. There are so many beautiful colors outside. Then there's Halloween and Thanksgiving that inspire so many fun decorating ideas. 

We have an overabundance of acorns covering our driveway and yard right now, so I thought it would be fun if I could use a few for a seasonal craft. With some paint and a couple of inexpensive jewelry supplies, I came up with these acorn wine markers. They'll be perfect for later this month when I'm hosting my book club's get-together. 
 You'll need:
Acorns (bring in a few extra tops)
Hammer and nail
Acrylic paint
Glazing medium (I used Americana Triple Thick Glaze)
Paint brush
Wax paper
10mm jump rings
Hoop earrings
Round nose pliers
Glue gun

First, wipe off the nuts with a damp towel to remove any dirt and let dry. 

Poke a hole in the acorn top using a hammer and nail. A couple of my tops split when I did this step, so that's why you may need a few extras. Make sure you place something underneath your top to protect your table. You'll want to get the hole pretty close to the edge. Slip a jump ring on and make sure it closes properly before moving on to the other tops. 
 Lay down a sheet of wax paper and start painting the nuts. You'll probably need to apply at least 2 coats. TIP: a heating tool can help speed up drying time. 

Remember each acorn should be a different color to help your guests identify their glass. Try blending colors and making pastels with white to stretch out a small supply of paint colors. 

When paint is dry, apply a coat of glazing medium to give the nuts a nice sheen.  
Set the nuts down on the wax paper and dry. 
Open a jump ring and insert through the hole in the acorn top. Close the jump ring and insert the earring hoop. Use needle nose pliers to bend the straight end of the hoop into a hook. 
 Apply hot glue to the top of the nut and attach the tops. 
Put them on your glasses and get ready for a fun evening! 
Don't forget to take of your cute wine markers before washing the glasses. 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Shanghai Surprise

 Back in late March I was able to cross Travel To China off my bucket list. 

I'm about to overload you with pictures from our trip, so I'll try and keep the descriptions to a minimum. In a nutshell the trip to Shanghai was amazing. There were surprises around every corner. 

After a terrifying 45 minute taxi ride from Pudong airport, we arrived at the Astor House Hotel. I highly recommend this place. It was very affordable and the location, right off The Bund, was perfect. And just look at this room! It's gigantic. 
 This is an early morning view from The Bund. I tried to find an open café at 7:00 a.m. with no luck. Even Starbucks didn't open until 9! 
 And here's a look at the hotel's breakfast buffet. They had almost every breakfast food imaginable. The list included: egg tarts, pastries, tiramisu, yogurt, fresh fruit, warm soy milk, coffee, espresso, tea, steamed veggie buns, wonton soup, cereal, spicy pickled stuff, bacon, eggs, toast, curry dumplings, penne bolognese, and some other items I couldn't identify. It was all delicious and we chowed down before setting off for a long day of sightseeing. 
 Another look inside the gorgeous hotel. 
 On the first day, we walked to the impressive Shanghai Museum. It was a perfect place to spend a rainy morning. We passed this shop on the way which reminded me of Uniqlo, the Japanese clothing chain. 
 The next day we checked out the posh French Concession West. Don't expect to find any bargains here (We forked out about $20 for a cheeseburger.). What I loved about this area were the quiet, charming streets and hip shops.  

 A little farther away in French Concession East was the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum. The building itself was interesting to see. Inside there were artists plying their trade. I loved the paper cuts and bought a couple to take home. 
We did a ton of walking, which is my favorite way to get to know a city, but the subways were great, too (fast, clean, easy to navigate). And as scary as the taxi rides were, they were inexpensive and convenient. 
 Having a little coffee break back at the hotel café. 
Old Town Shanghai was a bustling area with no shortage of little shops and street food. 

 Just off a busy street, we found a peaceful shrine where our senses were awakened by burning incense and musicians playing delightful music. 
 Then it was on to the Flower, Bird, Fish & Insect Market where I found all sorts of interesting creatures like this pastel assortment of frogs. 
 The market was buzzing with the sound of crickets. 

 Yuyuan Gardens is not to be missed. We got there fist thing in the morning before it got really crowded and enjoyed a peaceful stroll through the gardens. 

 The last stop on our 3-day adventure was to the art gallery district on Moganshan Road. We got a little lost (and hungry) trying to find the place and ended up at this shabu shabu restaurant (at least that's what this type of food is called in Japanese). Boiling live shrimp at the table was a first for me and provided plenty of entertainment for the kids. 
 Here's a glimpse at some of the art and street scenes around the galleries. 

It's always a good time for coffee and this was the perfect café to rest our tired feet. 
After Shanghai, it was off to Kobe, Japan to visit family. I'll never forget our adventure in China!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Coconut Lime Body Butter

 I don't know what I love more about this Coconut Lime Whipped Body Butter; the wonderful scent or how good it feels on my skin. It really sinks in and does its job as a moisturizer. Even those annoying rough patches on my elbows feel instantly soft and smooth. 

The scent is so pleasant and not at all overpowering. If you're like me and can't handle some of those artificially scented store-bought creams, this is a great option. You'll notice the coconut aroma first, followed by just a hint of lime. 

Here's how simple it is to whip up. 

1 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup shea butter
3 tablespoons carrier oil (jojoba, olive, sweet almond, etc.)
15 to 20 drops lime essential oil

Melt coconut oil and shea butter in microwave (about 90 seconds). Add carrier and essential oil; stir to combine. Place in refrigerator for about 45 minutes until mixture is firm. Using a hand or stand mixer, whip mixture at low speed until peaks form (about 2 or 3 minutes). 

Recipe will fill 3 to 4 four ounce mason jars. Store at room temperature unless it's above low 70s in which case you may want to refrigerate. 
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