Makin’ Marshmallows

I’ve wanted to try my hand at homemade marshmallows forever, but every recipe and blog post I’ve ever read said that you have to have a stand mixer. And I didn’t have one. And it was frustrating. But Santa came early for this Sparklepantsgirl and now I have my very own stand mixer for a whole lotta marshmallow making goodness!

My first attempt was, um, not so good. Marshmallows are super easy to make, as long as you have the right tools..ie a candy thermometer. Me being me, totally thought I could eyeball the syrup and know when it was at the ‘soft ball’ stage. Um, no. It started smoking, then turned brown, and despite removing it from heat, the syrup still smoked and turned even browner. So I took the pot outside and dumped out the syrup on to the ground, beneath a bush. It subsequently hardened underneath the bush. Maybe I will have my very own candy tree next year? Or maybe the bush will die. Only time will tell. Determined to fix this, I ran to the market and picked up a candy thermometer and tried again. This time they turned out perfect.

Moral of that story: I don’t have infrared heat vision superpowers. I know you’re disappointed..I am too.

Since I had success making the marshmallows, I am gonna make more…lots more. So I rounded up some amazingly sticky, gooey, sweet and fluffy ideas I’ve found..

Marshmallows with Chocolate and Candy Cane via A Southern Fairytale

Toasted Coconut Marshmallows via Authentic Suburban Gourmet

Cinnamon Marshmallows via Technicolor Kitchen

Melon Marshmallow via sweet pleasure : plaisir sucré

 Chocolate Chip Marshmallows via Technicolor Kitchen

Any other flavored marshmallow ideas? I’ve seen cardamom, pumpkin and lavender..yum!

Snowflake Ornaments

A while ago I mentioned here that I wanted to make most of the ornaments for my Christmas tree this year. There are a couple reasons for this, but the most important reason is..toddlers! Yes, the Sparkletots destroyed an ornament or three last year. Cheap, expensive, new or old, the kids did not care and no ornament was safe. It doesn’t help that our floor is concrete, any thing glass that gets dropped/falls breaks. Sooo, the goal for this year’s tree is Toddler Resistant Ornaments. They don’t have to be made of rubber bouncy material, but maybe just be a little less likely to break when dropped, or if they do break they don’t shatter into a million sharp pieces.

That’s where this stuff comes in:

Crayola Model Magic. This stuff is like clay, but when it dries it has an almost foam-like consistency, but still has the look of clay. It truly is magic. I have searched high and low for a recipe to make my own Model Magic, but haven’t found anything that can replace the original. Each bag makes about 13 to 14 ornaments.

Supplies:

  • Crayola Model Magic
  • Candy/chocolate mold {I used snowflake ones by Wilton}
  • flour
  • drinking straw
  • craft glue
  • glitter
  • ribbon

Start by dusting a very light coat of flour on your candy mold. If you put too much on it, the flour will get into to grooves and then the clay can’t get the cool texture. Grab some Model Magic and roll it into a ball, a little smaller than the size of a golf ball. Slightly flatten it in your hand, then spread some flour across the surface of the Model Magic. Press the clay into the mold, making sure to cover the whole area of the mold. Smooth out the back with your fingertip. Then ever so carefully lift up the edge of the snowflake. Go slow and try to get your fingers between the clay and the mold, to support the clay.

Lay the snowflake on a flat surface and use the straw to punch a hole in the top. I usually put the hole at the spot where I first lifted the snowflake from the mold, since it would often get a little misshapen there.

They take a day or so to dry. I flip them over the next day to dry the backs. Once dry use a paint brush to brush off the residual flour. I love the way they look at this point, and intentionally left some like this. But for the others I added sparkle!

For the light silver ones, I sprayed them with a coat of silver glitter spray (Krylon). For the others, I diluted craft glue with some water, then painted on a light coat of the glue with a brush. Then I doused the snowflake in glitter. Then let it dry, tie on a ribbon and hang it on the tree!

Linked to: Tatertots and Jello, At Home With K, Today’s Creative Blog, My Girlish Whims

Falling Snowflakes Canvas Art

During the fall, I made some art for my wall using six square canvases and foam leaves. My original idea was to do this with snowflakes to represent falling snow, but it was September and snow in September would be silly (especially in Arizona).

Supplies:

six square canvases {I got a pack of 7 at Michael’s..use your coupon!}

foam snowflakes 1/2 to 1 inch {Either ones that stick, or you can glue them on. Here’s a good deal.}

glue

foam brush

paint {I used Snow (Titanium) White from DecoArt}

Stick the foam shapes on the canvas. I stuck them so the lower three canvases look like the snow is piling up at the bottom. If you are going to paint them white or a light color, try to use white or light colored snowflakes. They are easier to cover with the white paint. Then, with the foam brush, start painting the snowflakes and the canvas. Last time I made the mistake of painting multiple coats on the leaves, but not painting the whole canvas. This led to it looking funny in certain lights.

Can you see the white blobs around the leaves? It bothered me. So this time, I painted the entire canvas with each coat. I don’t see any blobs this time. Yay!

I’m debating on spraying them with a fine mist of silver glitter spray. Yes or no?? I love my little indoor winter scene.

Linked to: Designer Garden, Whipperberry, Remodelaholic, Nifty Thrifty Things, Under the Table and Dreaming, Blue Cricket Design, Mushki Loves, Organize and Decorate Everything, Tip Junkie, Centsational Girl, Tales of A Trophy Wife, I Gotta Create

Vintage Postcard Gallery Wall

A couple of years ago, I ran across something on the internet about Soviet Propaganda postcards that the USSR issued during the Cold War to promote various causes. I was drawn to the colors and the artwork on these cards and instantly started collecting them. Although there are a ton of different types of these postcards, I particularly love the New Year’s/holiday cards, especially the one’s that are promoting the Soviet space program. There’s nothing better than Santa waving to a rocket ship!

I’ve slowly bought them off of eBay and Etsy, here and there over the past couple years, and this year I figured I had enough to put up a little gallery.

The postcards are charming. Many of them are used, and though I have no idea what they say, I can only speculate that they are wishing happiness and warmth (brrrrrr, it’s cold there) for the new year. My oldest ones date back to the 1950s and the newest ones are from the early 1980s.

This one above is my favorite…

Or is it this one??

I put them over our mid-century desk and chair, where I had my Marimekko covered magnet board before. (Full disclosure: The desk is NEVER that clean!) I grabbed a bunch of white frames at Ikea, then used a leveling yard stick, painter’s tape and had Mr. Sparklepants help me tape off the different areas for the frames. Once they were up, I used poster tack to hold them straight. It was easy, but took time. I love the look. Subtle, vintage yet modern, Christmas.

Layered Ribbon Trees

In case you didn’t see my guest post over at Under the Table and Dreaming for the Handmade Holidays featuring STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam series, here is my project…

When I started making the trees I tried to keep three things in mind:

1) I wanted a little winter forest

2) It needed to match my more contemporary/modern decor

3) I wanted to use varying shades of silver and white, with lots of sparkle


Supplies:

  • two 18×5 Styrofoam™ Brand Cones
  • two 15×5 Styrofoam™ Brand Cones
  • two 12×5 Styrofoam™ Brand Cones
  • wired ribbon** or fabric
  • straight pins
  • scissors
  • adhesive spray and glitter (optional)

** If using wired ribbon, be prepared that this project requires quite a lot of it. The 18×5 Styrofoam™ Brand Cone required just over 20 yards of the ribbon. If you have a spool from a warehouse store then you are set! To be more cost conscious, you can use 1/2 yard of fabric (for each tree) cut into ribbon size strips.

Take the ribbon and fold it across itself, then fold it down to form a point. Cut it off the spool.

Take your ribbon point and pin it to the very bottom of the Styrofoam™ Brand cone, so that the ribbon hangs over the edge. Repeat the process all the way around the cone. For the next row, pin the ribbon so that the point overlaps the edges of the two ribbons below it. Repeat this process until you reach the top. Once at the top, cut the ribbon strips longer. Fold the sides of the ribbon in, so that the wire edges don’t show. Pin the point down on the tree, and take the longer end and roll it in and pin it to the top, being careful to hide the pins in the ribbon.

I try to make the top of the tree look pointed, but that is just a personal preference.

I used fabric on the dark gray trees, and to give them a sparkly, icy look, I sprayed the finished tree with adhesive spray and applied liberal amounts of glitter.

Linked to: Today’s Creative Blog, Remodelaholic, Tatertots and Jello, Shabby Art Boutique, Funky Junk Interiors, Blue Cricket Design, Organize and Decorate Everything, Nifty Thrifty Things, Tip Junkie, Home Stories A to Z, I Gotta Create, Christmas In July

Holiday Monogrammed Pillowcases

Today I want to bring up something that everyone has dealt with, either over the holiday or anytime of the year…house guests. You know, the mother-in-law that always wants to “help” or the cousin that doesn’t want to do anything and sits in front of the TV all day. We’ve all had them and possibly been them. It can be awkward, because day-to-day things still need to happen, and no one likes being hovered over while you’re cleaning the toilets, right?

I discovered that the most helpful thing you can do for yourself them is to make your house guests a little space of their own. A place where they can retreat to and not make the bed or leave out their skivvies if they like. (icky)

Nothing says “mine” like a little monogramming. I made some personalized pillowcases for the house guests, using the freezer paper method.

Supplies: pillowcases, freezer paper, iron, piece of cloth, scissors, X-acto knife*, acrylic paints, textile medium (found at craft stores), foam brushes

*If you have a Silhouette or other cutting machine, use it! It will save you half the work.

1. Make sure you wash and dry your pillowcases. Read the directions on your textile medium; mine said not to use fabric softener.

2. While your pillowcases are washing, pick out your design and font for your freezer paper stencils. Keep it simple. Some fancy fonts will have a lot of little pieces to iron on individually, so I’d avoid that. If you are cutting out your stencils by hand, you can print directly on to the freezer paper using an ink jet printer and cut out the design using a X-acto knife. Just make sure it prints on the non-glossy side. I took the short cut and used my Silhouette.

3. Iron your pillowcases. I do it on the table instead of an ironing board so that I can see the entire pillowcase.

4. Start ironing on the freezer paper stencils you made. Start with the biggest designs first, for me that was the letters. Place the glossy side of the stencil down and cover with your piece of cloth, then slowly move the iron over it. The great thing about freezer paper is that if you find you don’t like the position, you can just peel it up and re-iron it!

5. Once you have everything ironed on, take a step back and make sure it looks how you want it to. If you are using a white pillowcase, hold it up to a window.

6. Start mixing up your paint and the textile medium. Remember to follow the directions on the textile medium bottle. Mine (Delta Ceramacoat) says to use a paint to medium ratio of 2:1. Place something like magazines or newspaper inside your pillowcase to prevent any paint from bleeding through to the other side. I didn’t see any paint go through, but just in case.

7. Using the foam brush, gently paint your pillowcase. Brush from the edge of the paper into the middle, so that you have less chance of seepage underneath the stencil. Do two coats for adequate coverage.

8. Once the paint is dry, carefully peel up the freezer paper. You’ll need to heat set your creation. I turned the pillowcase inside out and ironed the painted area for a good 20 seconds. Then wait for 7 days and wash the pillowcases on cold and air dry. Again, check your textile medium instructions.

There you have it! Fun pillowcases to help your guest feel at home and comfortable, and it’s something they can take with them when they leave!

**These pillowcases were originally shared over at Sweet Rose Studio for the Handmade Holiday Series. If you haven’t seen the series, you should hop on over, there are some amazingly creative ideas!**

Today’s Creative Blog, Remodelaholic