Friday, December 19, 2014

homemade body scrubs


A few weeks ago, we shared a couple recipes for homemade facial toners made with herbs that are great for sensitive skin. Today we have two recipes for natural, homemade body scrubs. The first scrub is a simple coconut oil and sugar scrub. The sugar polishes the skin and washes away and the coconut oil stays behind, keeping the skin moisturized. The second scrub contains coffee (my lifeblood and soul mate), sugar, and coconut oil. Coffee makes a great exfoliant that leaves your skin super smooth and helps reduce the appearance of cellulite. You can also get a nice little buzz from the caffeine being absorbed through the skin. I exfoliate with one of these scrubs at least once a week in the shower (just make sure you wash down the tub with soap afterwards). Try adding a few tablespoons of lavender or a few drops of scented oil to the sugar scrub or use hazelnut coffee in the coffee scrub to give it fragrance. In a pretty jar wrapped with a ribbon, these scrubs (or toners) would make a lovely last-minute holiday gift.


Sugar Scrub
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil

Add coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Add sugar and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Pour into a jar or plastic container and seal.


Coffee and Sugar Scrub
1/2 cup ground coffee
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil

Add coconut oil to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Add sugar and coffee and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Pour into a jar or plastic container and seal.

Note: Since coconut oil is usually solid in the colder months, I place the jar on the floor of my tub near the drain while I shower. The hot water melts the oil and makes the scrub easier to scoop out of the jar.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

brown butter bourbon cinnamon rolls


On Christmas morning, our family makes a huge brunch: eggs, bacon, grits, coffee cake, fresh fruit, oatmeal, biscuits and gravy, and pancakes. Oh yeah, and mimosas. Lots of mimosas. We often have homemade cinnamon rolls, courtesy of our sister Danielle. Unfortunately, we'll only get to see her via FaceTime this Christmas, so I'll take over cinnamon roll duty this year.

I took my favorite cinnamon roll recipe and added the only two things that could make it better: brown butter and bourbon! These are easy to make, not overly sweet, and completely delicious. They'll be the perfect addition to our holiday brunch!






















Browned butter bourbon cinnamon rolls
adapted from Peter Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice

7 tablespoons butter
13 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
    for the glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon bourbon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown 7 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over medium-high heat. Pour the butter into a large metal or glass mixing bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until the butter has solidified, but is not too hard. Cream together the butter and half (6 1/2 tablespoons) of sugar. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and yeast.

Add the flour and milk, and mix until the dough forms a loose ball. Knead the dough by hand for about 15 minutes (or about 10 in the stand mixer fitted with the dough hook). You may need to add a few tablespoons of flour as you knead to achieve a smooth dough that isn't sticky.

Return the dough to the bowl, spray with cooking oil, and roll the ball around to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise for about 2 hours at room temperature (or refer to notes below to make rolls partially or completely ahead of time). The dough should nearly double in size.

Meanwhile, brown 8 tablespoons of butter and set aside. (The butter needs to stay liquid). In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 6 1/2 tablespoons of sugar and the cinnamon.

When the dough has risen, lightly flour a clean surface and roll the dough into a rectangle about 18 inches by 9 inches. Brush the surface of the dough with the brown butter, reserving about a tablespoon. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough, covering the entire surface. Starting on the long side of the rectangle, carefully roll the dough into a log. When you reach the end, gently press the edge into the log, creating a seam. Turn the roll so that the seam is facing down. Trim the ends of the roll off if they are uneven, then gently score the log, creating 12 sections. Gently cut through the roll at each score (or adjust if necessary). Carefully transfer the cut rolls to parchment-lined baking sheets, so that there is about an inch between each roll. You can also place the rolls in a round parchment-line cake pan (about 5 to a pan). Brush the tops of the rolls with the remaining brown butter.

Allow the rolls to proof for about an hour at room temperature (or follow instructions in notes below), then preheat the oven to 350. Bake the rolls for 22-30 minutes, until they are lightly golden.

Leave the rolls on the pan and prepare the glaze. Pour the milk into the powdered sugar and mix well. Stir in the bourbon and vanilla extract. Add more sugar or liquid if needed to achieve a thick glaze.

Transfer the rolls to a plate and drizzle on the glaze. Serve while still warm, preferably accompanied by a mimosa!

Notes:
-These can be made with or without a stand mixer. I did not use one.
-These will take close to 5 hours, start to finish. They can be made fully or partially ahead of time. Here are the options:
     -Make the rolls completely the day before. After baking, allow to cool completely, then store in a
     single layer in an airtight bag or container. Warm in the oven before serving, then apply the glaze.
     -Make the dough the night before. Place the dough in the fridge overnight, then remove from the
     fridge about 3 hours before you want to start shaping the rolls. Fill a large glass measuring cup or  
     bowl with water, then microwave for 3-5 minutes and remove. Place the bowl of dough in the
     microwave to rise. Or, if your oven has a dough proofing setting, turn that on and place the bowl
     of dough in the oven. (Keep in mind the rolls will still need to proof for 60-90 minutes before
     baking for about 30 minutes.)
     -Make the dough and shape the rolls the day before. Place the pan(s) of rolls, loosely covered with
     plastic wrap, in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge and allow to proof (using the steps
     above) for about 3 hours, then bake.
-The bourbon can be completely omitted from the glaze. (Just replace it with an equal amount of milk, or even orange juice.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

reversible magnetic poster frame


I picked up some cute Cavallini papers and was wanting an inexpensive way to frame them when Kathleen came up with idea of making simple magnetic frames with lattice moulding. We made the frame reversible by making both sides different colors so that it could easily be flipped over or used for different artwork and used cotton cord for hanging to give the frame that old-fashioned classroom map look. You can also use small sawtooth hangers instead of cord if you prefer, and create a single-sided frame.


Supplies used:

1-5/8" moulding (we used 10 feet for a 19 inch wide poster)
8 mm rare earth magnets
E6000 adhesive
cotton cord
Minwax oil-based stain in Honey and Classic Gray
Minwax wipe-on poly
220-grit sandpaper
drill with 3/8" bit and a bit the same diameter as cord
miter box and hack saw
foam brushes
clamps


First, cut your wood to size. You will need five pieces that are at least an 2-4 inches longer than your poster to make room for the hanging cord. One of these pieces will be the template for drilling your magnet holes. (You can skip the template piece if you prefer, but we found it very helpful.) Sand off the rough ends with some 220-grit sandpaper. Next, mark and drill your template piece. We positioned our magnet holes 8 inches in from each end. Drill all the way through your lattice with your 3/8" drill bit. Line up your template perfectly on all sides with one of the pieces of lattice and clamp it to your work table. Start drilling slowly into the lattice through the hole. Once you have very shallow starter holes, remove the clamps and template and drill the holes deeper. Go very slowly and stop frequently to check the depth of the hole with one of your magnets until it is flush. Repeat for the rest of the pieces. Once your magnet holes are drilled, place the two top pieces of lattice with the magnet holes together and mark for your cord holes. (If you are using sawtooth hangers, skip this step.) Ours were 1 inch from each end in the center of the lattice. Line up your two pieces perfectly and drill all the way through both pieces of lattice with a drill bit the same size as your cord.


Next, paint or stain your frame pieces. We gave ours one coat of oil-based stain and a coat of wipe-on poly and let them dry for a few hours.


Once your finish is dry, glue the magnets in the holes with some E6000 and let it dry overnight. Be sure that the sides facing up will stick to the sides facing up on the corresponding piece.


Once everything is dry, add your cord, pop your poster in the frame, and hang it up!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

ikea vittsjo marble makeover


The Vittsjo shelving unit from Ikea is a nice, albeit rather bland, piece of furniture. Fortunately, it's a really easy piece to customize. We freshened up this shelving unit with a few coats of white paint and some pretty marble paper for a guest room we've been decorating. This project only takes a few supplies and can easily be completed in a day.


Supplies used

4 cans white spray paint
2 sheets 25" x 37" marble paper
Elmer's spray adhesive
X-Acto knife
Mod Podge Matte
foam brush
clear tape
scissors


First, we gave the shelving unit and top mdf shelf a few coats of paint. Not shown: rushing in and out of the house between coats like crazy people to rescue the shelf from the rain. We got the brilliant idea to do this in November, when there was only one weekend warm enough to paint outside, and it stormed sporadically all weekend.


Next, we papered the shelves. We sprayed the right side of the marble paper with a light coat of adhesive, pressed the shelf on the paper, and sliced around the edges with the X-Acto knife.


To paper the bottom mdf shelf, we sprayed the top and sides of the shelf with the adhesive and placed the paper on top and smoothed it out. Then we laid some fresh kraft paper on our work surface, flipped the shelf over, and trimmed the excess paper. Then we neatly folded the corners, taped the excess paper in place, and coated the top and sides with Mod Podge and let it dry for a few hours. Once everything was dry, we moved the shelf to its new home, put some pretty things on it, and took a hundred pictures.


The purple and gold swirls in the paper coordinate perfectly with the wall color of the room and give the unit a sassy, luxe feel. The shelves looks so pretty in person that I didn't even want to put anything on them. I feel like I say this every time we make over a piece of furniture, but this is one of my favorite projects we've ever done. Simple, inexpensive, and super fancy! Though I solemnly swear I will not spray paint again until spring.

P.S. We'll share details about the dresser and the room soon!