Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pill Bottle Cotton Swab Holder

I never know what to do with prescription bottles after I'm done with them.  I had a particularly large one after finishing a round of meds for the dog, and decided to give it new purpose.

I had a scrap of decorative paper left over from card making.  You can use any sort of patterned paper for this project.

Clean out your pill bottle.  Make sure your piece of paper will cover the whole bottle when wrapped around.  Lay the bottle on its side, and trim the paper to the same height as the bottle (I trimmed below the lid ridges so the paper would lay flat).
 Use double-sided tape, and tape the short edge of the paper.  Press onto the bottle.
 Wrap all the way around, and use double-sided tape to secure the end of the paper.
 Easy!  I'm not sure that even counts as a "craft" could always get a little fancier.  If you're storing heavier things in it (like pens), you may want to weigh down the bottom with coins or pebbles so it doesn't topple.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wine Glass Charms

I am horrible at keeping track of things.  No matter how many times I tell myself to put things back where they came from, I inevitably will tuck my keys under a hat, leave my phone in the car, or lose track of what I'm looking for.  This applies to beverages and food in a shared space.  I'll set a glass of wine down on a table, and suddenly, in a sea of other glasses, I've forgotten which is mine.

Luckily, this is a problem that is affordably and quickly solved with homemade wine charms!  I made these with some friends of mine last week, and now I shall never lose track of my beverages.  These can also be used on mug handles!  

Materials Required:

  • 24-26mm earring hoop
  • assorted beads
  • charm
  • jump ring
  • needle nose or jewelry pliers

Using the pliers, open the jump ring.  Don't open up the circle to make a "C", because it will be harder to put it back to a circular shape.  Instead, hold it such that the ring is facing you and the joint is facing upwards.  Hold one side with your hand, and use the pliers to hold on the other side.  Twist it such that one side is towards you, and the other is away.  If you look at it straight on, it should look like an "O" still.

If that didn't make sense, check out this tutorial.
Slide the charm into the jump ring, and twist closed.
Thread your beads and charm along the hoop.
Your earring hoop should have two sides: one flat side with a hole, and the post on the other side.  Bend a few millimeters of the post at 90 degrees using the pliers.

Now the hoop will stay closed when hooked together.
Easy!  Now you know which glass is yours.

Make a whole set!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reusable Cup Sleeve

Sometimes I find myself without my coffee travel mug, and have to succumb to using another disposable cup.  This usually happens when I'm in a hurry, my travel mug isn't clean, and/or I'm being forgetful.

I've always felt the most wasteful part is the little corrugated cardboard sleeve.  If I were patient enough for my coffee to cool, I wouldn't even need it.  After seeing a few of these reusable fabric sleeves all over the internet, I decided it's not a bad idea to use up some scraps this way.  The sleeves are much easier to keep in my backpack and purse, and don't require too much space or cleaning (like the travel mugs do).  In the event that I forget my mug again, I'll at least have these to use!  Plus, it's a great way to use up smaller scraps of fabric.

Materials Required:
-One cardboard sleeve
-Quilt batting (I used a dense bamboo/cotton blend, ~12"x4" rectangle for each layer, I used two layers of batting since it was thin)
-Outside and inside fabrics (can be the same, ~12"x4" rectangle of each)
-Elastic (5")

Open up the cardboard sleeve at the glue joint.  Lay flat over your fabric pieces.  Cut with a 1/2" border around the shape for each layer.

You will end up with 3-4 layers: outer fabric, inner fabric, and 1-2 layers of batting, depending on thickness.
 Cut 5" of elastic.
 Layer the fabrics in the following order:
-batting (bottom)
-inner fabric (pattern side up)
-outer fabric (pattern side down)
-optional second layer of batting

Between the inner and outer fabric layers, fold the elastic in half and pin the ends to the center edge of the patterns like below:
 Pin in place.
 Sew using a topstitch, giving a 1/4" allowance from the edge.
 This is what it should look like now!
 When you open up the layers like a book, you should have the two fabric patterns facing up, with the elastic loop between them:
 Press the layers facing each other again, and stitch along the curved sides (1/4" from the edge) but leave the end opposite of the elastic open.
 Clip the corners, and turn it inside out.  Use a chopstick or other dull, skinny object to push out the corners.  Press with an iron, and it should look like this:

 Tuck in 1/4" of the fabric of the open edge.  Trim the batting to reduce the bulk.
 Iron in place, and top stitch to secure.
 About two and a half inches in from the edge, sew a decorative button in place.
 I used embroidery thread for strength and color.
 Voila!  It is complete!  Wrap around your coffee cup, and loop the elastic around the button to keep into place.  Overlap the fabric to adjust for the size of your cup.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everybody thinks they have the recipe for the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever.  I find there's too much variation in preferences to make a valid claim.  Some like them chewy, others crispy.  The topic of rasins/walnuts/oats is one of contention.  The real snobs will even argue the quality of the chocolate...

While I can't guarantee that I have found the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I can tell you that I haven't used any other recipe after finding this one.  Thank you, New York Times!

The claim to the true secret to this recipe is the wait time.  By requiring the dough to rest for at least 24 hours, the dry ingredients have a chance to fully absorb the moisture from the wet ingredients.  

In a pinch, you could probably sub the cake and bread flour with all-purpose and not suffer too much damage.  The differences between types of flour is gluten (protein) levels.  Cake and bread flours sit on opposite ends of the gluten spectrum, while AP sits in the middle.  Thus, you may not even notice a difference in replacing them all with AP, but I haven't tried it yet.

Recipe from the New York Times
Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size


  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 16-20 oz of chocolate chips, disks or fèves
  • Sea salt

The arsenal (including homemade vanilla extract!  The topic of a future post):

Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).

Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together.

Mix the eggs and vanilla extract into the sugar/butter mixture.  After well-incorporated, add the dry ingredients and mix until just-combined.

Add the chocolate and mix well.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  The cookies should be rolled into a size slightly larger than a golf ball,  and spaced a few inches apart.

Sprinkle with sea salt.

 Bake for 16-20 minutes.  The cookies should be golden brown, but not crispy.  Allow them to cool on a baking rack.

Enjoy warm, with a glass of milk!

Behind the scenes, I had to make sure our furry friend didn't ingest the chocolate! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homemade Magic Shell

This is quite possibly the best ice cream topping ever, and it's so easy!  When warm, this sauce has the same consistency as normal chocolate syrup.  After pouring the stuff on ice cream, the sauce solidifies and creates a crispy shell.  This is because the fats added to the chocolate are from coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature.

This recipe only requires two ingredients, but it would be easy to add your own flavor mix-ins.

Yields 4+ servings

  • 45 g (1/4 c) Coconut Oil
  • 70 g (2.5 oz or 1/2 c) Chocolate
  • Optional flavors: peppermint extract, sea salt, chili powder, cinnamon, etc.

 I decided to use chocolate chips, because that is what I had on hand.  A higher quality dark chocolate or flavored chocolate would provide a more complex flavor, but semi-sweet chocolate chips are certainly still delicious!
 Combine the coconut oil and the chocolate in a microwave-safe container.  Microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between.  Continue until the two ingredients are combined and smooth.
 This ice cream is looking pretty nude...
 Pour a thin layer over a scoop of your favorite flavor.  (Digby is an expert at photobombing)
 Awesome!  So easy.

You can store the leftovers in a jar, and leave it at room temperature.  You might need to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to get it back to liquid consistency.