Holiday House Candle Holder DIY

aka The Christmas Village!  I made several of these little candle luminaries last year out of clay and they were so loved I thought I'd share how you can make your own without stoneware clay and a pottery kiln.  These are made of Sculpy, a polymer clay that is easy to use and can be baked in a normal oven.  

Supplies:

white sculpy clay

a knife

a toothpick or pin tool

parchment paper or another smooth non stick work surface

a rolling pin

two rectangular or square dowels 1/8" thick, about 24 inches long 

template - use mine or make your own

Method:

1.  Print provided template or make your own.  Regular paper is great. Cut out template so you can just see the dotted lines.

2. Work on a clean non stick surface, like marble, a silpat or parchment paper.  Sculpy sticks to paper so don't knead or roll out onto a papered surface.  Knead clay until smooth.  Form into a flat disc.  Set up dowels on either side of your disc of clay.  These will help you maintain even thickness.  Use rolling pin and dowels to roll clay out to same thickness as dowels.  Pick clay up and rotate or flip over from time to time while rolling.   

3. Set aside dowels.  Place template over clay and cut out with a knife.

4.  Cut 4 walls and one base - you can use the base template as a wall if you don't want each side to have a roof.  Cut out windows.  Windows are on template for inspiration - feel free to place windows as you like.  Cut them out carefully with knife.  The windows will look a little rough.  After cutting them out, use your pin tool to smooth and clean up the inside window edges on both sides.  

5. If pieces are too wet to stand up, place them between two pieces of paper for an hour or so.  Cut house walls at a 45 degree angle with knife.  This will help them fit together more cleanly at the corners. Use a pin to cross hatch any part that you want to adhere to another part - like the where to corners will meet together and where the walls will meet with the base. 

6. Assemble on top of the base, not around it.  Pinch the corners of two walls together, then add another wall and pinch the new corner together.  Add the last wall.  Pinch corners.  Go back and smooth corners.   

7. Heat oven to 275 F.  Place sculpy house on oven proof baking tray and bake 15 minutes.  Do not over bake.  

8. Wash hands well after using - rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer is great for getting sculpy residue off your hands.  

**Roll out your scraps and break out your holiday cookie cutters to make yourself some tree ornaments or gift tags.

9.  Let piece cool completely.  Place tealight in holiday house and light.  Enjoy to glow. 

2016 Gift Guide: Downtown Loft

Part 2 of the Meats and Sweets 2016 Gift Guide.  This one is for the city girl and all the things she needs in her hard working, busy, fun, beautiful life.  

This shiny gold bottle.  $42 at  saks

This shiny gold bottle.  $42 at saks

This simple record player and speakers.  $169 at  urban outfitters

This simple record player and speakers.  $169 at urban outfitters

A warm and fuzzy coat.  $298 at  free people

A warm and fuzzy coat.  $298 at free people

For the eating of ramen noodles.  $28 at  moma

For the eating of ramen noodles.  $28 at moma

So she can see where she's going in the rain.  $24 from  amazon

So she can see where she's going in the rain.  $24 from amazon

A zippered pouch to help her organize.  $22 at  madewell

A zippered pouch to help her organize.  $22 at madewell

The SOFTEST sweaties ever.  $69 at  loft

The SOFTEST sweaties ever.  $69 at loft

Classic all white sneakers she can wear with everything.  $65 at  converse

Classic all white sneakers she can wear with everything.  $65 at converse

A one year membership to the Whitney or other museum so she can look at beautiful art all year long.  $85 at  W  hitney  Museum of American Art

A one year membership to the Whitney or other museum so she can look at beautiful art all year long.  $85 at Whitney Museum of American Art

One of these furry little bag charms.  $95 at  tory burch

One of these furry little bag charms.  $95 at tory burch

Wash all that city grime off her face at the end of the day with this luxurious cleansing oil.  $48 at  sephora

Wash all that city grime off her face at the end of the day with this luxurious cleansing oil.  $48 at sephora

2016 Gift Guide: Log Cabin Cozy

One of three Meats and Sweets' Gift Guides that I'll be posting every Friday this month.  For this one, picture your friend all cozy in her own beautiful log cabin - big socks, pjs, cup of coffee, fireplace, pixie light pillow fort... all the important stuff.  

 

super soft pj set because lounging is the best. $102 from  eberjey

super soft pj set because lounging is the best. $102 from eberjey

a nice smelling candle, like this one, made from clean burning soy.  $18 from  madewell

a nice smelling candle, like this one, made from clean burning soy.  $18 from madewell

these simple, stylish slippers. $78 from  anthropologie

these simple, stylish slippers. $78 from anthropologie

a teepee because she'll have to hang those little pixie lights on something $190 from  etsy

a teepee because she'll have to hang those little pixie lights on something $190 from etsy

a softly glowing aromatherapy diffuser that doubles as a night light. $69.50 from  muji

a softly glowing aromatherapy diffuser that doubles as a night light. $69.50 from muji

socks.  because adults love getting socks for christmas. $29 from  l.l.bean

socks.  because adults love getting socks for christmas. $29 from l.l.bean

a pom pom hat to keep her ears warm. $235 from  bergdorf goodman

a pom pom hat to keep her ears warm. $235 from bergdorf goodman

porcelain nesting splatterware bowls with a vintage feel. $130 from  food52

porcelain nesting splatterware bowls with a vintage feel. $130 from food52

this wool plaid scarf is almost big enough to double as a blanket. $44.50 from  madewell

this wool plaid scarf is almost big enough to double as a blanket. $44.50 from madewell

string light for the blanket fort. $28 from  urban outfitters

string light for the blanket fort. $28 from urban outfitters

warm, water proof boots for exploring the snowy terrain. $140 from  sorel

warm, water proof boots for exploring the snowy terrain. $140 from sorel

Smudging

Things are about to get a little good witch, new age-y over here.  Roll your eyes if you must but good energy is very important to me.  I'm really into vibes.  Creating and basking in the good ones, banishing and being cautious of the bad ones.  Crystals, chanting, candles, deep focused energy and smudging are all great for creating a positive environment. 

Smudging is, in my opinion, the best way to cleanse yourself, your space and your things of bad energy.  I do it whenever the mood strikes me.  Smudging uses the smoke of material with cleansing properties, like sage, to remove any negative energy that might be lurking about.  I will cleanse my home and myself.  For my method, you will need a flame, a fireproof bowl, a bundle of dried sage and something to fan the smoke with like your hand, a card or a feather.  

1. Crack open a window somewhere so the bad energy has somewhere to go.  Light the end of the sage bundle, let it burn for about 30 seconds and blow it out but do not completely extinguish.   You want the ember burning and smoking like incense or a cigar.  

2. Hold the bundle over a fireproof bowl to catch any ash or escaped embers.  Gently fan the smoke over and around yourself first.  Then continue onto your home or  area you wish to cleanse.  State your purpose as you go.  I like to have an intention that I vocalize over and over while I smudge - much to Chibi and Cameron's amused bewilderment.  (Yes, you do look a little nuts when doing this so feel free to do this alone or put up a sign.  Caution; chanting ahead...?)

3.  Pick a spot to start in and make your way around the perimeter.   Pay special attention to corners.  

4.  Finish your ritual by smudging yourself once more.  Extinguish the sage bundle.  Close the window.  

Need some supplies?  I have just put up a few one of a kind smudge bowls in my etsy shop. Take a look if you like. xo

Tools Every AIP Kitchen Needs

If you're on the Auto Immune Protocol, you do spend a lot of time in the kitchen.  It's just not a diet that works if you don't cook you're own food.  I've complied a small list of kitchen gadgets that help.  These are all items I use every week and make batch cooking so much quicker.  

1. High Quality Chef's Knife.  Get a good knife.  Out of all the kitchen tools, this one you use the most.  Hand wash and dry it, keep it sharp (either send it out for professional sharpening or buy a stone and do it yourself - every 6 months) and use a honing steel every time you use it.  Dull knives are dangerous, they don't work properly, slip off food and cut your fingers.  It's very important to take good care of your knife.  Between the two of us, we have a nice collection of knives: Global, Misono, Wustoff and Shun. My favorite is the Misono UX10 8" Chefs Knife.  This is also great 1st knife.    If you live in NYC, stop over to Korin.  

2. Salad Spinner.  I eat a very big salad for lunch everyday.  It's the easiest, most straight forward lunch option on the AIP diet.  So, I use this thing every week.  On my cooking day, I prep toppings and head of lettuce or two.  This works for drying and storing.  Salad spinners are pretty much all the same but I'd recommend getting a large one.  It's the best way to store lettuce.  Keeps greens staying fresh and crisp for a while.  Also, it's fun to use. We've had this OXO one for years.  Big points because I can take it apart and wash it in the dishwasher.

3. Storage Containers.  All that food we're cooking has to live in something, doesn't it?  I'm not thrilled with plastic but these are so convenient.  They come in three sizes, don't leak and stack.  Mason jars are also great.  They're glass and you can buy them in tons of sizes, buy them cheaply by the case, and use them for 100 things like canning, storage, eating and drinking out of.  And they are dishwasher and microwave safe. 

4. Cast Iron Griddle.  All that batch cooking you're doing is crazy but there's no way around it.  I use the cast iron pan for grilling large quantities of chicken breast and turkey burgers.  There's so much surface area and the pan gets nice and hot for a beautiful sear.  I like that there's a flat top on one side and grill on the other.  Who doesn't love options.  Here's a nice one.

5. Spiralizer.  So much fun.  Maybe not necessary but certainly a fun little gadget.  I picked up a super cheapie one of TJ Max on a whim and really like it.  I'll spiralize carrots and beets for salads, zucchini for zoodles and pretty much anytime I want long ribbons of anything.  This is the model people seem to be the most nuts for.

6. Mandoline Slicer.  If you have one of these, then you really don't need a spiralizer.  Mandolines, like this one, come with inserts that will slice food into matchsticks, spaghetti or fettuccine sized ribbons.  Or use it without the inserts of thin slices of anything. They are very sharp and are secretly hungry for fingertips so use the guard or a folded up kitchen towel to hold the food.  I use mine for veggie prep, making fresh cucumber chips, root vegetable chips, paper thin slices of garlic or shallots, fruit slices.  Lots of things.   

7. Food Processor.  I have two.  This little guy and a powerful 9 cup one by Kitchen Aid that they don't seem to make anymore.  I love them both for different reasons.  Lots of AIP recipes call for mixing doughs out of plantains or starchy root vegetables, pureeing, making rice out of vegetables.  They're a lot that you can do with the food processor that's just not possible by hand.   I use mine of batch cooking:  finely chopping the onions I'll need for all the recipes I'm cooking in one go, mincing garlic or making ginger paste.  It easily does all the little tasks I'm not crazy about. (onions = many, many tears)

So, did I miss anything?  

Shibori Tie Dye

Remember when I talked about Summer Sundays?  Well, last weekend we decided to have a Shibori Tie Dye Party.  It was great.  We rounded up a bucket, all the rubber bands we could find, cold drinks, a clothes line, sparklers (because why not?), white cotton everything and hot hotdogs for the grill.  It was a fun sunday.  

Shibori is a Japanese tie dye technique involving fabric that is tied, clipped, twisted, folded or wrapped to create patterns when dipped into indigo dye.  All the twisting and tying result in parts of the fabric that will resist the dye and retain the fabrics original color, contrasting with the dyed fabric areas.  Here I'll go thru a few classic styles of Shibori and how to dye.  Folds are demonstrated with square cotton napkins but techniques will work on all shapes.  

Start with clean, dry natural fiber fabrics like cotton, silk or linen. Other fabrics do not take dye well.  I would advise that you wash and dry anything before you start, even new items.  

For wrapping and tying you will need:

  • Indigo dye kit
  • fabric
  • 1 five gallon bucket, with lid or cover
  • another bucket for wetting fabric
  • gloves
  • scissors
  • drop cloth
  • stir stick
  • pvc pipe, string, rubber bands, clothes pins, wood squares...

Itajame:

Itajime: Fold fabric like an accordion vertically, then horizontally.  You will have a square or rectangle.  Place a small square of wood on each side of fabric.  Use string, clips or rubber bands to secure the wood fabric sandwich.  Clean tin can lids, rubber, oval carpet stoppers, acrylic panes - whatever can be used in place of the wood squares.  Smaller items need less ties and larger items will need more.  

Triangle:  Fold in half, fold outsides back to center, making a quarter width length.  Fold into accordion triangles, use a rubber band to attach chopsticks across the triangle.  

Arashi:

Arashi:  Wrap fabric around a pipe on the diagonal.  Tie it a few times, then squish it down, tie a few more times to secure it.  

Kumo:

Kumo:  Accordion fold fabric vertically.  Rubber band or tie sections down one side.  Other the opposite side, rubber band or tie in sections alternating the previous side.  Stay with single bands like in the close up photo or keep going until your heart's content like the piece I'm holding above..  

To make simple ring shapes: gather a little pluck of the fabric and rubber band it.  You can get the idea from what I did at the bottom of this tank top.

To make one big burst/ring shape: Pluck fabric from any point and secure intermittently with bands.

The Dying Process

The dye kit you purchased will have instructions what I suggest you follow.  READ THE DIRECTIONS COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU BEGIN.  There are steps you might find unexpected otherwise.  This is what we did for ours:

Prepare the Dye:

  1. Fill a 5 gallon bucket with 4 gallons (16 Quarts) or warm tap water
  2. Add the dye, soda ash and reduction agent into the water
  3. Stir very gently - a couple times in one direction, a couple times in the other
  4. Cover your dye vat - oxygen is bad of the dye
  5. Let it cure for 1 hour - in the mean time you can fold and bind your fabric

Dying the Fabric:

  1. Dip your prepare cloth pieces in water to get them saturated - if you skip this step your pieces will be all blue with no contrast of dye color to original fabric
  2. Squeeze extra water from cloth
  3. Uncover cured dye vat
  4. Remove the 'flower'.  You can't miss it.  It's a large mass floating on the surface of the dye.  Gently scoop it out and set it aside. You don't want it in the way when dipping but don't throw it out if you're going to save the dye afterward.
  5. While squeezing cloth, submerge in the dye vat
  6. Let it sit for 5 minutes
  7. When removing, gently squeeze it below the surface, slowly remove, try not to splash
  8. Cover vat
  9. Leave piece wrapped.  Leave it to oxidize for 15 minutes.
  10. Dye again. And maybe again. (We did two 5 minute dips.)  The more dips the darker it will be
  11. After it's last dip in the dye, until your piece 
  12. Wash it with warm water and 1 cup of salt.  Color is now set and your pieces are ready for use

Oil Pulling

meaoilpullinggif.gif

Have you tried oil pulling?  I've been doing it almost everyday for a month and really like it.  It's now part of my daily routine.  I swish about a tablespoon of coconut oil around in my mouth for 20 minutes first thing every morning before flossing/brushing.  

Oil pulling is rooted in Ayurveda, a centuries old holistic practice which promotes natural self-healing. Oil is used a often in Ayurveda for calming, healing and detoxifying.  The oil pulling we're talking about here is derived from traditional Ayurvedic oral care with sesame oil gently swished from one side of the mouth to the other for 3 minutes, spit it out and massage any residual oil into gums with index fingers.  

Famous herbalist and healer, KP Khalsa recommends extended daily oil pulling to reduce potential inflammation in the system.  Author and Doctor, Bruce Fife has a great book on oil pulling with documented scientific studies that show positive results in overall health from good oral care.  He connects daily oil pulling will decrease bad breath, gingivitis, gum recession, cavity risk and inflammation.  

In the last month, I've noticed slightly whiter teeth and a much cleaner feeling mouth.  My teeth feel smoother - like when I leave a teeth cleaning.  You'll notice this especially after the first time you do it.  That's what got me opening the jar of oil again on the second day.  It's an amazing feeling. 

I'm still unsure if this is related to the pulling but I've experienced a huge increase in energy, both physically and mentally.  Serious mental clarity over here. 

Sounds good, doesn't it?  Here's how to:

  1. Choose oil.  It's up to you but I suggest coconut oil.  You can start with it solid or warm it up to a liquid state,  depending on textural preference.  Sesame oil is more traditional. 
  2. Get oil in mouth and gently swish for no more than 20 minutes.
  3. Don't swallow it.  It's full of toxins and icky stuff.  Spit it out into a garbage bin - not the sink.  It's bad for drains, pipes and plumbing.  
  4. Floss and brush.

Here are a few tips for getting started:

  • Find an oil you like the taste of. I really like coconut oil so that's what I use. I also like the texture change from solid to liquid during the pull.  
  • Getting started is all about building up.  You don't have to start with a full tablespoon for 20 minutes on your first try.  Start with a teaspoon of oil.  Start with 5 minutes.  The next day, add 5 more and so on, until you're at 20.  Or maybe 12 minute daily pulls are your thing.  It's up to you. 
  • I prefer to this in the morning before tea or tooth brushing.  I do it first thing after getting out of bed.  Actually, I do my oil pull while I walk my dog, Chibi.  Yes, I walk around Brooklyn in my yoga pants, cheeks puffed, swishing oil every morning.  My point is, you can be efficient about this or you can let this be a little quiet time for you.  Consider taking these 20 minutes every morning to read the news, check out pinterest, knit, meditate, choose your clothing for the day, write a friendly email to someone, prepare breakfast... whatever.  It's your silent time. Enjoy it.

Anyone tried it?  Leave a comment - I'd love to hear how it went!

Sea Salt Spray for Beachy Hair

How great is beach hair?  I love it.  Big, wavy and so much texture.  Sadly, we can't spend everyday at the beach, soaking up all the sun and salty air we can so here's an easy DIY product you can mist into your hair for those beach waves and texture we love.  

I always avoided this because of my bangs but hey - I think it works!  

Sea Salt Hair Spritz

2 oz warm water

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon conditioner

4 drops lavender essential oil, optional

Whisk everything together until salt and conditioner have dissolved.  Let cool.  Pour into small spray bottle.  

To use:  Spritz into damp hair, twist hair into 4 sections, turning away from your face, let air dry or hit with a hair dryer.  Loosen with fingers as needed.   Or spritz into damp hair and let air dry, scrunching with hands occasionally.  

Lavender Olive Oil Body Scrub

It's green!  (It's because of the olive oil.)  This body scrub looks weird but is moisturizing and smells amazing.  It's a great one for relaxing, evening bath time.  Your skin will thank you.

Makes about 1 cup.

Lavender Olive Oil Body Scrub

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

30 drops lavender essential oil

Mix everything together and transfer it to a lidded container.  

(I prefer plastic to glass for anything near the tub because I'm clumsy.)

 

Coconut Coffee Sugar Body Scrub

Need a quickie handmade gift?  I bet you have everything in your panty to make this one.  It's an all natural DIY gift and it smells like a little cup of latte heaven.  It improves anyone's shower or bath time.  Who doesn't want to scrub up with a caffeine filled, moisturizing, something all winter long?

Makes about 1 cup.

Coconut Coffee Sugar Scrub

1/3 cup coconut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup raw cane sugar (turbinado)

2 tablespoons coffee grounds

Warm coconut oil to its liquid state.  Stir in vanilla.  Stir in sugar and coffee.  Transfer to clean, lidded container.  (I prefer plastic for anything near the bath because I'm clumsy but it's up to you.)