April Round-Up + Thank You


April is coming to a close already - I can hardly believe it. April is a big deal in my house because my husband is a tax accountant - if you're American, you probably know that April 15th is tax day. The 2 weeks leading up to it are hectic for him and for me - when he works 70 hour weeks, that means I put in just as many hours as the main parent at home. That resulted in a slower month here on She Makes a Home, but I really loved the projects we took on this month - here are April's posts in case you missed any:



Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of April's amazing sponsors. I take great care to work with small, independent, and fiercely inspiring businesses on this blog. A BIG thank you goes out to:

Cloudpearls - elegant everyday jewelry, handmade in Sweden


Pictured above and below, Cloudpearls is run by Elsa who sculpts each and every bead so that each piece is unique. I personally love the bright, colorful necklaces - they say, "Spring!" to me. Elsa is offering 10% off orders with the coupon code LOVE10 at checkout! Which piece is your favorite?

KreativCase - personalized iPhone, Samsung, and Blackberry cases


I am thrilled to be working with Cindy of KreativCase again - you may remember her interview from Snowed In Magazine over the holidays. Cindy is a creative powerhouse over at KreativCase - some of the most popular cases are the wedding-themed designs for brides or the newly engaged. I'm a fan of her geometrically-patterned cases myself. Right now, KreativCase is offering a spring special - buy 2 cases, get 30% off! Just use code SPRING at checkout.

A Bit of Stone BeadsStone & Gem Bead Strands Supplies for Jewelry Making


Do you like to make your own jewelry? I'm excited to be working with Laura at A Bit of Stone Beads. The shop features some incredible specimens of gems and stones cut in beautiful shapes and in gorgeous colors. As a former student of geology I had a great time browsing through the shop. Are you into gem stones? Which ones do you like to work with?

Would you like to see your shop featured here? Visit the Sponsorship page for more info!

DIY Air Freshing Spray: Peppermint & Vanilla


I spent a good six hours last week spring cleaning my bathroom from top to bottom. I honestly don't think it's been this clean since we moved in - I scrubbed crevices in our shower that I didn't even realize existed with a tooth brush and some baking soda.

When all was said and done, it didn't feel like it was really complete without a pleasant scent. My mom would always end a cleaning spree with a spray of Lysol in each room. Personally, I'd rather have something a bit more earthy. And less sterile-smelling.

I've already created an essential oil diffuser for my dining room (as well as some stove-top scents for special occasions), but I wanted something I could just spritz around a room.

I use this spray specifically to just spray onto light bulbs, heating vents, the garbage can, and into the toilet bowl. I like that the heat from the light bulb seems to help the scent radiate into the room.

Ready to try it? Here's what you need:

  • a spray bottle
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of water
  • 8-10 drops of peppermint essential oil (depends on how strong you like your peppermint scent)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (here's a recipe to make your own)

Combine all ingredients inside spray bottle. Shake well before each use.



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.

Ingredients

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.

Directions

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:

Before


After


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!
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