I'm quite enjoying the jalapeno-infused tequila that I made and am sampling it tonite. It was really quite simple, but it makes the most interesting margaritas.
Do it yourself:
1. Get a bottle of white tequila (really any will do since you're infusing flavor, but I chose Sauza since it's 100% agave)
2. Slice about 5 jalapeno peppers into strips, removing seeds.
3. Pour the tequila into a glass container and add jalapenos. Soak for 24 - 72 hour depending upon the "spice" you want. I soaked these for just over 24 hours and it was flavorful, but not overwhelming.
4. Remove the jalapenos from the tequila. Save the jalapenos for garnish.
Now onto making the margaritas...
I don't really have a recipe, but more of a general "sense" of what I mix and it's something like this:
- 2 parts tequila
- 1 part lime
- 1 part Cointreau (do not use triple sec...yuk!)
- 2 parts juice of your choice (BEST is fresh grapefruit or watermelon...for a regular old margarita, I'll use the bright-colored margarita mix as my juice)
Yesterday I made a pretty neat earring holder. I'm going to use it for shows and events, but it would be great for storing your own earrings in addition to these display ideas.
This project took about 30 minutes start-to-finish...it's quick!
- Picture Frame: really this can be any size depending upon how many earrings you want to house. I looked all over for a vintage frame, but could not find one that met my esthetic requirements and weighed less than 30 pounds. So I opted for a $14 one that is 14"x18" from WalMart. Be sure your frame is at least an inch or so wide so that you have surface area on which to attach the screen. No skinny minnie frames!
- Screen: I had no idea there were so many different kinds of screen, but get the traditional metal screen, not the kind made out of plastic or fiberglass. You need the rigidity of the metal. I was only able to find a huge roll of this, so I have enough for about 10 more of these earring holders (handmade Christmas gifts!). This roll was about $8 at Lowes.
- Tacks: Plain old metal thumb tacks. I bought the flatest ones I could find so that I could use a hammer. The fat top of the thumb tack is critical (i.e. little nails won't work great). These were about $.99.
- Bias Tape: This can be found in any fabric store or WalMart. You could also use a thick ribbon. The bias tape worked great because it's thicker than most ribbon. This was about $1.
- Tools: all you need is a hammer and a utility knift
Remove the glass, paper inserts, and the hard back from the frame. I'm not quite sure what to do with the glass yet, but I'm sure it will turn into another project...stay tuned!
All you will be left with is the frame itself.
Cut the screen so that it overlaps the frame on the backside of the frame. My frame was about 1.5" wide and the screen came to about the middle of the frame. Don't make the screen fit to the edges because you want to cover up the rough edges of the screen and you won't be able to if the screen is too big.
I used a utility knife to cut the screen and it worked well. You could also try scissors, but the metal will probably dull your scissors. Be careful with the screen...those metal edges and stray metal fibers are sharp and pokey (and caused some minor blood shed on my end).
Unwrap the bias tape and pop the tacks off the cardboard.
Anchor the screen onto the backside of the frame in each of the four corners with a tack. PULL THE SCREEN TIGHT! I can't emphasize this enough. You don't want the screen to be loose and floppy. You want it to be very taught so that it's easy to put earrings in and out.
After securing the corners, it's time to start with the permanent attachment. Place the bias tape over the rough edge of the screen and then nail it down with the tack and the hammer. Slick!
Continue to do this around the frame, constantly pulling the screen taught. Place tacks 3-4 inches apart or closer if you have a small frame. At the corners, fold the bias tape and secure the corners with a couple of tacks as shown below.
When you reach the end, cut the bias tape, fold the end over, and secure with a tack.
Arrange your earrings! I opted to put gold-tone on one side and silver-tone on the other and then sorted by colors, but you can arrange them any way your little heart desires.
This is a view of the finished product from the back.
Now where to put your fantastic earring holder? You could get a plate/frame holder like one of these and place it on a dresser or any flat surface. You can buy these pretty much anywhere you can buy photo frames.
Or mount it on the wall like a regular photo frame. If you do this, I suggest using some little shims on all four corners after it's mounted. This will create a space between the frame and the wall, allowing you to easily put your earrings in the holder. If the screen is flush against the wall, you're going to have problems. The shims can be made out of folded cardboard or really anything that's about 1/2" thick.
Try mounting it on the wall with a decorative ribbon or fabric. You could even use something pretty to hang the frame from a closet rod or the ceiling.
Note: You may want to flip-flop steps 4 and 5 (mount first, then add earrings), but I was just too anxious to get the earrings in there!
I think I may have fried my lungs a bit with the extreme cleaning going on in our new place. Ammonia and bleach will absolutely kill any germs and pretty much anything in it's path...including you!
As such, I'm getting back to my homemade cleaning products and I thought that I'd share some ingredients, recipes, and tips with you.
- Microfiber cloths are miraculous. These are created to scrub and trap dirt without any chemicals. They work wonderfully on stainless steel which tends to be a streaky mess, but not with these cloths.
- All purpose cleaner (for showers, sinks, fixtures, etc): mix 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda into 1/2 gallon of water. Add some fresh lemon juice for extra-cleaning acid and that yummy smell.
- Window cleaner: 2 teaspoons of vinegar with 1 quart of water. Use newspaper to clean windows...it works great!
- Scrubby cleaner (such as Comet): just substitute baking soda
- Liquid castile soap is good for all-around cleaning. My favorite is by Dr. Bonner. I call it "crazy people" soap because the rambling on the packaging had to be written by a lunatic. Peppermint , citrus, and lavender are yummy! Plus this is an excellent soap for showers and hands.
If you're not up for a make-it-yourself project, the items from Method are effective and yummy. Pink grapefruit is my favorite. Plus you can buy 'em from Target...handy!
Cleaning jewelry can also be done more environmentally friendly with all the products listed above (except for pearls, opals, or any other soft or delicate material...those need special care). For more info on cleaning jewelry, click here.
Mother's Day is coming up (Sunday, May 10 to be exact) and that means only a few weeks for finding the perfect gift to express your love to your mom.
Here are a few budget-friendly, but thoughtful ideas:
1. Handmade Bath Oil: This is easy, inexpensive, but oh so luxurious! Mix a base oil (I prefer olive or almond) with nicely-scented essential oils. Lavender, rose, orange, lemon, and eucalyptus are all delicious, but select one that your mom will love. Mix about 1 cup base oil with 1 teaspoon of essential oil. Pour into a clean bottle, cap or cork, and tie a ribbon around the bottle neck.
2. Letter: Write your mom a letter and let her know how much she means to you...describe a fantastic favorite childhood memory...or explain what you learned from her . Don't type it! Write it out in your own handwriting. Use nice paper or embellish the paper with stickers or scrapbooking goodies. Frame the letter.
3. Personalized Music: make a CD or load up her mp3 player. Pair this with a list of the songs and a brief note about why you included that song. Some song ideas:
- Mother and Child Reunion - Paul Simon
- Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys - Willie Nelson
- Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
- Your Momma Don't Dance - Loggins and Messina
- Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This - The Shirelles
- Mama Said Knock You Out - LL Cool J
4. Childhood Photo: take a photo of you as a child and your mom...blown up into a large size (at least 8"x10") and have it framed. Do something fun like print it in black and white or add a fun effect with photo editing software. You can also get all sorts of items personalized with photos. I love the mugs, notebooks, and puzzles from Shutterfly .
5. Customized Jewelry: There are many ways to customize jewelry with items such as:
- Locket with photos or a little note
- Tiny frames that hold photos or keepsakes
- Children's birthstones
- Special moment or location mementos
If you need a little help with the customized jewelry option, let me know. I'd love to help you come up with a fantastic idea and then make it for your mom!
Lastly (and most fun!), let's display all your gorgeous baubles! There are lots of ways to showcase your jewelry including:
- Wall hooks or drawer pulls: get some cute and fun wall hooks or drawer pulls and mount 'em on your wall. Then hang bracelets and necklaces from them. Anthropologie is a wonderful place to find these! Here are a couple of my favorites:
Rosy Knob $10 each and comes in lots of funky colors
- Wall-mounted cases: there are lots of options for wall-mounted jewelry boxes. These are mid-sized pieces that you put right on the wall and open up for jewelry storage. This one from Overstock.com is pretty neat because it has a mirror on the front of it. So it just looks like a nice mirror, but opens up for all your goody storage.
- Vintage jewelry boxes: I personally love old jewelry boxes...they're perfect for all your glam jewelry! Here are some of my Twinkle Studio favorites in one of my favorite boxes.
Photo by Niki Rossi Photography
- Bowls, ash trays, goblets, champagne glasses, dessert dishes: any of these containers would be perfect storage. Look for vintage ones at antique stores!
- Traditional jewelry armoires: these free-standing pieces of furniture are a one-stop storage solution. This one from JewelryArmoire.com is pretty representative for what's available. Most have a flip-top compartment for earrings, doors for necklaces and lots of drawers for earrings and such. My
I personally own this glam one from Pier One (the photo doesn't do it justice). Each time I went to a store to buy it, it was always sold out. So be prepared to have one ordered and wait a week. It's worth it though!
This is the first of a few posts about organizing and storing and displaying your jewelry. The key is that you want to have everything sorted and organized so that you can see all your options...and choose the most fabulous pieces for a particular outfit.
STEP 1 - Sort!
The key to sorting your jewelry is to lay everything out where you can see it. I recommend laying out a large white bath towel and putting everything on it. White is best for seeing the colors and the bath towel has enough "grip" to ensure you don't have beads and baubles rolling all over the place.
As you lay your items out, group them in 2 ways. First, sort by silver or gold-tone. Put all the silver-tone on the top horizontal half of the towel and the gold-tone on the bottom horizontal half. Secondly, sort by jewelry type. Lay out all the earrings on the far left, necklaces next, then bracelets, rings, and miscellaneous things (watches, pins, brooches) on the far right. If you have a lot of a miscellaneous item, create it's own category.
Now that you have everything laid out in a way that you can see it all, pull out all the broken pieces and either bring them to get fixed or put them in a "to-donate" pile. Then pull out all the items that you can donate or bring to a swap party. Put all these items in small plastic bags and dispense with them.
What you should have left are all your cherished and favorite pieces.
Valentine Dates don't have to be expensive or elaborate to be effective. In fact, sometimes the simplest ideas executed with lots of thought and love are the best. Since Valentine's Day is just a couple weeks away, here's a list of ideas to try. None are valentine-specific so you could really do them any day of the year. Enjoy and have fun!
1. Get a manicure and/or a pedicure together. He may feel silly, but that's part of the fun. And I guarantee it will be enjoyed by all. Try to find a salon with comfortable chairs where you can sit side-by-side.
2. Go to the library. Find some poetry books and share versus. Watch a movie or listen to a cd of an unknown artist. Look at travel books and talk about where you'd like to go. Also, many libraries have private rooms where you can be alone and do your library activities.
3. Make an arts and crafts project. There are hundreds and hundreds of fun and goofy projects you can make. Just step foot into a craft store for ideas. I love the idea of getting a huge canvas and finger paints. See what you can create together.
4. Picnic at home. You must do this one to the nth degree for it to be fun and effective. Spread a tablecloth out on the floor and have a basket filled with food.
5. Bring flowers to a nursing home. Get a big bouquet of inexpensive flowers (like carnations) and go hand them out. You'll bring so much happiness!
6. Visit an animal shelter. Spread your love around to the creatures who are craving and will appreciate it.
7. Play video games. Go to Chuck E. Cheese or some other fun video game arcade and challenge each other at all sorts of games.
8. Donate blood. Ok, so this is a little strange, but neither of you will forget this date. Plus you get free juice and cookies.
9. Play BINGO. Go to a bingo hall or vfw and play with all the regulars. You'll meet lots of interesting characters and you may even win some money!
10. Bake cookies together. Go for cut-out sugar cookies because they tend to involve more work and cooperation than others. Make crazy decoration on the cookies.
11. Do a puzzle. When's the last time you put together a puzzle? Act like a kid again and use your teamwork skills.
Of course the silly ideas are always better executed with a bottle of wine or some cocktails. Give 'em a try!
Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday of all...and I'm kind of a holiday/theme kind of girl. So that's saying a lot. I'm not sure what it is about Valentine's Day, but I just love the hearts, colors, and all around optimism surrounding the holiday (except, of course, for the adamant naysayers).
Valentine's gifts and activities are on most-people's minds. Or at least they should be! Over the next two days, I'll share with you some ideas that should make your planning a bit easier. Today I have some gift ideas and tomorrow I have some date ideas. Both list will have ideas that cost you nothing--just some time and thoughtfulness. Sweet!
Stay away from the trite (and unthoughtful) gifts such as red roses (unless it's several dozen) and chocolate (unless it's amazing and special). These gifts sort of seem like an obligation, not a true gift from the heart.
Valentine Gift Ideas:
1. Childhood Photo(s): Gather some childhood photos of you and/or your special person. Put these in a nice frame with a white or light-colored matte. Get some colorful pens and write fun and silly comments about the photos on the matte.
2. Painting: Make your loved one a painting! You don't have to be an artist to do this. Think modern, contemporary art such as splatter painting, modular shapes, stick people, and just colors. With the right combination of colors and love, your painting will be cherished forever. For more impact, get it framed or use a large canvas. Wrap it and hang it on the wall wrapped for great dramatic effect. You can enlist your children's help in this activity, too!
3. Loved-One Comments: Get family and friends to write some great things about this person and compile these. The compilation can take the form of small notes that are put into a large photoframe or 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper that are bound into a book. Top it off with your loving thoughts about your partner!
4. Lottery Tickets: Scratch-off lottery tickets are a fun way to spark conversation about what you'd do with the money if there was a winner in your bunch. Before your loved-one scratches off any, have some dialogue and make a deal as to what you'll do with your proceeds. The winnings could be used for your Valentine Date that night!
5. Photo of You Two: Get a photo of the two of you printed in a supersize and have it framed. Be creative and convert the photo to black and white for some drama.
6. Bake Cookies: Homemade cookies are such a great gift because they show that you put some time and effort into them. If you feel ambitious, make cut-out heart-shaped sugar cookies and put your initials on them as if you'd carved them into a tree. AF + KO. Or put a word on each cookie that describes your loved-one.
7. Journal and Pen: This gift can cost $2 or $200 depending upon your budget. But the most important element is that you write in the first page of the journal. Make it a timeless love letter!
8. Car Wash Coupons: Can't get less romantic than this, right? All depends on how you play it. What if you attached a short love letter to each coupon. So that each time your loved-one went to wash his/her car, they had a little note to look forward to.
9. Handmade Book: Craft stores have blank books where you can make your own story. Think of a particularly fun time you had together and tell that story in your book. Make stick-figure people and large-type printing like a children's book.
10. Anything Creatively Personalized: You can get just about anything personalized including pens, shirts, underwear, jewelry, mugs, M&M's, blankets, clocks, picture frames, flags, etc. Be thoughtful about your personalization and think about items such as the date you first met, your favorite place, the location of your first kiss, secret love names, or future shared goals. I'd, of course, be happy to help you with designing a piece of jewelry to meet your needs!
I hope you received some great sparkly jewelry for the holiday! Jewelry can remain sparkly and fabulous if cared for properly. It doesn't take a lot of effort, but it will be worth every minute invested. Here are several simple tips:
1. Sonic cleaners are fantastic. Just a drop of ammonia and dishwashing liquid in the water does wonders! Make sure to let the jewelry dry completely before putting it way. Don't put pearls, rubies, turquoise, amber, coral, or emeralds in a sonic cleaner. Use mild soap and water with a soft cloth instead.
2. If you don't have a sonic cleaner, or if you jewelry is seriously dirty, invest in a soft toothbrush. Softly scrub the jewelry with mixture of a cup of hot water with a splash of ammonia and a small squirt of dishwashing liquid.
3. Tarnished jewelry should be cleaned with a tarnish remover specifically safe for jewelry. Silver polish works brilliantly on tarnished silver, making the piece almost like new.
4. Don’t spray hairspray or perfume while wearing your jewelry. These sticky particles will adhere to your jewelry and attract dust. Jewelry should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off to avoid damage. Most cosmetics are harmful to jewelry.
5. For a quick clean, spray window cleaner on a soft cloth (like a washcloth) and wipe the jewelry. Don't spray the cleaner directly onto the jewelry as you won't be able to wipe it from all the tiny nooks and crannies.
6. Remove your jewelry when cleaning, putting on lotion, swimming in a pool or ocean, gardening, or when you're in extreme heat or cold.