DIY Facial Bar for Blemishes

Ever since middle school I've blemishes on my face. I was told that by the time I was an adult it would all be a thing of the past; unfortunately I'm now 28 and there's no sign of them going away.

I don't have acne bad enough that I'm willing to get a prescription of any kind. I've had some success with drugstore skincare, but it only lasts a month or two before I'm breaking out all over again. After a little research, I decided it was time to try making my own face wash.

This facial bar recipe features 2 key ingredients that I felt safe for use on my face:

  • tea tree oil
  • lavender

According to free radical researcher Dr. Anitra Carr, tea tree oil has been shown to be "active against all three categories of infectious organisms: bacteria, viruses and fungi." I've used it in the past for spot treatment, but never before in a face wash. The smell is what stopped me from using it for acne, which brings me to...

Lavender. Lavender oil has been used to treat acne, although there is insufficient data to support it being effective. In this recipe I'm using ground lavender blossoms instead of the lavender essential oil. The scent of lavender is commonly used with tea tree oil, as it really seems to level out the smell. Additionally, the finely ground lavender blossoms can act as a gentle exfoliator to help remove dead skin cells. 

It's actually the ground lavender that gives this soap its pretty green color. Lavender does not tend to stay purple when used in soap making.

*NOTE: tea tree oil can irritate the skin of certain individuals - please patch-test your own skin with tea tree oil before making this soap and applying it to your face.


1 lb soap base
1 teaspoon tea tree oil
1 tablespoon lavender buds, finely ground

The soap base I am using is Crystal ORG melt and pour, which was provided to me free of charge from Stephenson's Personal Care. I am not being compensated for this post - this recipe and my views are entirely my own. This particular soap base is certified with the Soil Association of the UK as being made with 72.07% organic ingredients.


Before getting started, get your additives prepared for mixing. I measured the tea tree oil into a teaspoon, and finely ground my lavender in my coffee grinder. 

Melting soap base is much easier if you break the blocks down into smaller pieces. I cut mine down to 1/2" - 1" cubes. Place in a microwave safe bowl or dish. Microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring between each interval. I use a silicon bowl scraper to do my stirring, since it's so easy to clean.

Once the soap base is entirely melted into a smooth, lump-free liquid, quickly remove it from the microwave. Add the tea tree oil and lavender blossoms, and stir well.

Quickly pour your soap base into your soap molds while the mixture is still hot. Let the soap molds sit for at least one hour, or until the soap has completely cooled and set.

I've read that spritzing the still-warm soap with rubbing alcohol can get rid of those little air bubbles - unfortunately I didn't have any on hand. That's alright with me though - since this soap is for my own personal use, I don't mind the tiny bubbles. If I were gifting or selling my soap, that's an extra step I might take.

Remove from soap molds, and package in paper wrappings, plastic wrap or plastic baggies.

I decided to cut one of my soap bars into thin sticks of soap for easy traveling. When we take vacations over the summer, it will be much easier to take one stick of soap and be done with it at the end of the trip. 

Have you ever used tea tree oil on your face to treat acne? How were the results for you?

Yay! I learned how to digitize my calligraphy

Recently I shared my ambitions to finally learn a bit of Photoshop and Illustrator. I signed up for Calligraphy II on Skillshare*, which teaches you how to digitize your designs. I was pretty intimidated at first - I've never used Photoshop in my life; however, the teacher (Molly Suber Thorpe) made it so easy to do! There were 14 videos, with complete step-by-step instructions. Perfect for a total beginning like me.

I realize my calligraphy still needs a lot of work... I haven't made much progress with it since January, but look at what I was able to accomplish with Calligraphy II:



Basically, I learned how to remove the grays from the original calligraphy, as well as the background and any blemishes in the image from the scanning process. I turned the calligraphy itself into a transparent .png file, and can now layer it over any background I want. I used a pink background to demonstrate this. I could now layer my calligraphy over a photo, which was what I was hoping to be able to do.

This example is not yet vectorized. I only finished the Photoshop portion of the class, not the Illustrator part. I'm assuming (and hoping) it will look even better after I learn how to vectorize.

My next step will be learning how to digitize my paintings and sketches - I have my eye on Creating Full Color Digital Illustrations From Your Hand-Made Drawings* with Sarah Blake. I'm still participating in Skillshare's referral program if you're interested in any of their classes, too and it's your first time signing up. If you use my link, we both get $10 off a class!

I feel a lot of doors opening up since I decided to just go for it with Photoshop. I know I have a long road ahead, but it feels wonderful to be learning new skills again.

Moon and Stars Baby Shower Theme Inspiration

I'm in total party planning mode this year - we have weddings, showers, graduations, and surprise parties every month through October. I really think this is our busiest summer yet.

I'm in charge of planning my sister's bridal shower, and I'm going to make as much of the food myself as possible. Sugar cookies are a big deal in our family, and going through my cookie cutter collection I found this adorable crescent moon that has never been used. While it doesn't fit with my sister's shower theme, moon and stars would be so perfect for a baby shower. It inspired me to look around and see what's out there for a star and moon-themed baby shower - I'll be ready when the time comes!

Below are my favorite moon and star finds from Etsy! Keep scrolling for resource links and my lemon buttercream frosting recipe.

All of these beautiful finds are from Etsy - click below to visit each shop:

Soft Moon and Star Sugar Cookies with Vanilla and Lemon Buttercream Frosting

For the cookie dough itself, checkout my Softest Sugar Cookie recipe, as well as my Top 10 Tips for Perfect Sugar Cookies!

Once you have your cookies baked, it's time to frost. Personally, I liked having the moon cookies as vanilla buttercream, and the star cookies as lemon buttercream. My go-to vanilla buttercream frosting recipe can be found along with my sugar cookie recipe, but here is the lemon buttercream frosting recipe:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • up to 3 cups powdered (confectioner's) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • food coloring, if desired

Start by mixing the softened butter, vanilla, salt, lemon juice, and milk.

Add the powdered sugar in 1/2 cup increments. Stir well after each 1/2 cup of sugar added.

If you find your frosting is too runny, you can add a bit more powdered sugar. If you find that your frosting is much too thick, you can add a bit more milk.

When making buttercream frosting, some people find that their frosting is lumpy or has a "curdled" appearance - this means that it isn't blended well enough. Keep stirring, or use a hand mixer on low until it is smooth.

Topping ideas: chunky silver sprinkles, clear sanding sugar, edible glitter, lemon zest, white cylinder sprinkles, gold dragees, etc.

I'm totally loving this moon and stars theme because it's classic and gender neutral. Do you have any ideas to add to this theme? Or have you ever thrown a moon and stars-themed party? Leave a comment below!

The Power of Acknowledging Your Dreams

I am a strong believer in putting your dreams into words. I don't know how else to put this without sounding all "New Age-y", but there really is something to putting your desires out into universe. I am not talking about the Law of Attraction, or any other kind of "secret": I am talking about being honest with yourself, admitting what you really want, and putting it down on paper.

I was recently going through an old planner and came across a sheet with a list of long-term goals on it. They weren't the basic goals a business owner might have, like "make $50,000 this year," or, "get into x-amount of craft shows." They were the daydream type of goals, like getting my work published in book or magazine; being Etsy's featured seller; writing for a particular publication, etc.

It was so thrilling to see that all of those dreams were actually realized. For the most part, they were out of my hands - I have no influence over the whims of website administrators or magazine editors.

So: if some dreams and desires are out of our control, then why is it important to put them into words? I think it's two-fold:

My Newest Card Designs

"Not only strike while the iron is hot, but make it hot by striking."
Oliver Cromwell

This year I've kind of forced myself to step back from work and to rest. Over the last week I've had a little time to start creating what I wanted to see in my shop. I did open it back up. I didn't think I would be ready to until the fall when my oldest is in school, but now that I've had time to create for creation's sake, I really felt inspired again.

If I'm feeling motivated, I really think it's best to take the opportunity, and run with it. There's no pressure this time; at least until my girls are in school full time, my paper goods are a passion project.

The big difference I have made since re-opening my store is that everything in shop falls under the same theme, or product line: "Heavy Metals". They all share the same metallic and neutral palette of black, white grey, silver, gold, copper, and bronze. These are some of the new editions to the shop:

"To the Moon and Back" - top photo and directly above; this card is cut into black card stock and layered under with white paper. I hand-painted the area under "moon" with silver paint to give it a sheen.

I'm really fond of the black cards. "Fortune Favors the Brave" is layered under with white paper, and I painted the space under "brave" a very metallic gold color.

"The Simplest Things are the Sweetest" is one of my favorite new cards in shop. I reversed the previous idea, with white card stock layered under with black paper. I used silver metallic paint to create shiny polka dots under the word, "sweetest".

"Be Brave" is the modern version of the sympathy card, or the "thinking of you card." This one was really fun to make - I colored the bottom tips of each letter with gold ink to create a "gold-dipped" effect.

There are still some of my favorites in store, but they've been updated to fit in with the new 2014 line:

"Ich Liebe Dich" is one of my favorite cards of all time. I used to make it in neon pink and orange, but I thought it would be better in a more unisex palette. I like how the hand-painted letters look like they're covered in gold foil.

"Love You Forever" was previously in a sparkling blue; now it comes with a glittering black layer, meant to mimic the night sky.

"My Lucky Star" was previously only available at the Lansing Art Gallery, but it's now available in my online shop as well.

"You Are My Favorite" used to come in shades of orange, and shades of blue; now it is available in gold and silver varieties.
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