Weekend Wrap Up (Week of March 19th-25th)

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Weekend Wrap Up at Soap Deli News blog!

As some of you may or may not know, I recently quit my day job to venture into blogging full time on March 1st. I feel like I overdid it a bit getting started as I took on the big projects I’d always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for first. Those projects included my mermaid soap tutorial, my geode soap tutorial and my both loved & reviled DIY poop emoji bubble bars. In addition to the time it took to complete the projects, taking and processing all of those photos was insane.

During my first week I tackled 12 hour days – which is actually about two hours less per day then when I was working full time and blog as a side gig. (I also updated my about page as well. So if you’re interested about the changes I’ve made and the goal for my blog you can get the skinny right here.)

Why hello, #Paris.

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It all kind of got derailed however while spending a week in Las Vegas with my boyfriend while he was at a conference last week. My to do list of projects took a back burner while I was gone – I was only able to write and schedule one blog post for the week – my anti-aging eye cream recipe – and my instagram profile temporarily took on quite a new look. I also learned that Vegas isn’t much fun solo. And I came home sick.

I’ve been sick this entire week and the last half of the week prior. Due to my job change my new insurance doesn’t kick in until April 1st so I’ve been suffering through it. Today is the first day I mostly think I’ve started to feel a bit better. I take that I’m not sneezing and blowing my nose every two minutes as a good sign. And I’m crossing my fingers I didn’t just jinx myself because I have dinner with my boyfriend’s mom who I’m meeting for the first time this evening. (She flew in from Florida for the weekend.) Meeting parents is not my strong suit so I’m working through the anxiety.

Anyhow, I finally feel like I’m getting back on track and I’m super excited about what the next few months will bring. My goal is to *try* to blog three DIY projects a week and then do a weekly wrap up just like this one so you know what’s going on in my head and I can share all the super fun stuff I discovered during the week that wouldn’t ordinarily get blogged. If you follow me on social media you’ll find that I do share a lot of these things there. I also share a lot of past projects and recipes that you may have missed along with new discoveries on my Tumblr blog so if you’ve not read it, I hope you’ll check it out.

Off the Grid Modern Farm Dollhouse DIY via Handmade Charlotte blog

So diving right in (but not really because that intro was crazy long!) I am hard crushing on this Off the Grid Modern Farm Dollhouse DIY from Handmade Charlotte. As you may have guessed, I was also pretty crafty as a kid. In addition to once throwing a magic show on our back deck when I was around 7? where I jumped out of a me sized mermaid tail crafted from newspaper, tape and aluminum foil to kick off the show, I was also pretty keen on making dollhouse furniture. So when I discovered this DIY for making this farm dollhouse complete with furniture and other cool features, I got kind of giddy.

This is a great weekend project you can do with the kids! There are several parts to this DIY – this is part 5 and the one stumbled across first. It has some really cool tutorials for making kitchen appliances as well as teaching DIY’s for grey water recycling and a composting toilet! (And then you make them!) Seriously, check it out! I’m still excited over it. (Discover more projects like this one on my DIY for Wee Ones Pinterest board.)

DIY Knit Swing via Park & Cube blog!

I’m also super excited that spring is finally here! (Yay!) Today is sunny with a high of 75° and I’m looking forward to more of this weather! And then there’s this swing! Park & Cube blog has a sweet tutorial for making this knit DIY swing here. While I don’t knit, and I doubt I have the patience or the time to learn at present, I’m definitely tempted to learn just for this swing. We have an old wooden swing set A-frame in the backyard that I was considering using to grow upside down tomatoes in buckets to deter critters from eating them. But it’s highly likely those tomatoes could maybe possibly take a backseat and this swing will go up in it’s place. (Discover more projects like this one on my Jonesing for Crafts Pinterest board.)

Tropical Strawberry Hibiscus Rum Smash Recipe via Half Baked Harvest Blog

I’m also really looking forward to using the screened in porch I now have at my new home with my boyfriend, James. He loves to grill and I’m a fan of creating cocktails so put the two together and you have the makings for some great evenings. I recently found this amazing cocktail recipe for making a tropical strawberry hibiscus rum smash over at Half Baked Harvest Blog that I’m dying to try. I’m ordinarily a gin and vodka kind of girl but this is one recipe I can’t pass up! (Find more cocktail recipes on my Cocktail Hour Pinterest board.)

Gut Feelings Podcast on how probiotics can help reduce anxiety!

My son, Cody, who is wrapping up his sophomore year in college as a psych major shared an interesting podcast with me this week called Gut Feelings. This podcast discusses how your gut bacteria (probiotics) can affect your emotions. Specifically, as my son put it, “some French peeps did a clinical trial with humans and the probiotic group reported less anxiety on self-report surveys.”

If don’t currently take probiotics and are interested in taking them for your health, I recommend introducing them to your diet via food rather than a pill. I took probiotic pills while I was in Vegas as the closest Whole Foods was a $25 cab ride away which, incidentally, was less than the probiotics. To put it nicely, it put my system into overdrive. Therefore I recommend starting with something like kombucha (now found in most grocery stores) or apple cider vinegar (with the mother still in it.)

I have a great recipe for my turmeric & ginger apple cider vinegar tonic that I drink everyday here. I also really like Purely Elizabeth’s Chocolate Sea Salt Probiotic Gluten-Free Granola. You can buy it at Fresh Market and it’s also available through Amazon’s Prime Pantry.

Speaking of diet, I recently restarted my subscription to Hello Fresh. Our closest Kroger is a 20 minute drive now that I’m in a small town and the other local grocery stores don’t have the selection I’m accustomed to. Not only does it make it easier not having to plan as many meals, but the convenience also saves me both time and gas money. I’ve tried other similar programs to Hello Fresh, but the menus that Hello Fresh has are more suited to the things I like to eat without going overboard gourmet.

Between my #birchbox and my #ipsy bag and all of my point redemptions via ipsy I got a huge #beauty haul for March!

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When I got back from Vegas I shared my shipments from both Birchbox and ipsy that had arrived while I was gone and someone mentioned Sephora Play. I’d never heard of this program having never shopped at Sephora, but it looked intriguing and at $10 a month – the same price as Birchbox and ipsy – I figured I’d give it a try. My first box comes next month.

Handmade Bath Bombs from Sud Buddy on Etsy!

Daily I’m discovering some really amazing shops and products on Etsy. One such shop is Sud Buddy. Sud Buddy sells a really fun collection of handmade bath bombs, soaps, lip balms, shampoos and more! Pictured here are just a few of the bath bombs available for sale including Sud Buddy’s Margarita Lime Bath Bombs – they come in cute plastic margarita glass so you can enjoy your bath then take the real deal poolside! – For Fox Sake Bath BombStar Wars inspired bath bombs and Just Peachy bath bombs! You can shop the entire line of SudBuddy products here. (Spend $50 and get free shipping with coupon code: MUCHOLOVE.)

A few freshly discovered Etsy favorites!

Other recent favorites include this calendula cleansing oil from Botanical Buddha, these art history hard candy lollipops from LIQ NYC, a super fun poo emoji bath bomb mold from Two Wild Hares Bath & Body, an artisan unicorn cupcake soap from Georgiou Boutique, a Recollections unicorn & llama washi tape set from Chicky Vintage Plus and a fairy garden artisan soap from Pink Sink Luxuries. (You can discover all of my favorite products on by following my Etsy favorites here.)

Free food + still life photography course offered by Christina Greve. Improve your photography skills in just 5 days! Plus there are helpful tips on branding, business, creativity, productivity, and blogging.

Speaking of Etsy, if you sell or are planning to sell your handmade products online, then you may want to check out the free food + still life photography course offered by Christina Greve. This 5-day email course not only can help to improve your photography skills, but there are also helpful tips on branding, business, creativity, productivity, and blogging. (Find more ideas for improving your bath and body business including resources and ideas for packaging and presenting your products as well as other ideas to boost and develop your small business on my Small Business Branding & Packaging Ideas Pinterest board.)

Dinner! Soooo much parmesan!

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I’m also having the most fun creating mini-stop action videos. I really want to try an upcoming DIY video that uses the same technique and see how it works out.

Well, that’s all for this week! I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their weekend and that’s filled with many fun and creative discoveries!

Don’t forget you can find and follow me on across all my social media profiles. I’m on PinterestG+TumblrFacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram. You can also sign up to receive new posts from Soap Deli News blog to your email via FeedBurner.


Blog posts may contain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission when you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.


How to Make Homemade Cocktail Bitters

Disclosure: Blog posts may contain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission when you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.



Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus free printable labels for your finished bottles!

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with two easy cocktail bitters recipes. Following you’ll find bitters recipes for both orange bitters as well as peach bitters. I’ve also included a PDF of free downloadable cocktail bitters labels that I designed for your final bottles of bitters. Just for fun they say “Orange you bitter!” and “You’re such a (bitter) peach!

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus printable labels for your finished bottles!

These homemade cocktail bitters are perfect not only for your home bar but also for gifting to friends who love cocktails or simply bartending in general. (Or even as a gag gift for your favorite grump!) They’d make a great homemade gift paired with a cocktail recipe book – I’m keen on “Shake: A New Perspective on Cocktails” and “The Craft of the Cocktail” – and a mason jar shaker. Or even a large 2″ square silicone ice cube tray.

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus free printable labels for your finished bottles!

To create your own homemade cocktail bitters you’ll need organic fruits and spices – I purchased my organic spices from Mountain Rose Herbs – and Gentian Root Extract which I bought on Amazon as I couldn’t source this anywhere locally. As you use orange peel and lemon zest in these recipes as well, I chose to buy these organic and used fresh zest and peels. You’ll also need 100 proof vodka to make these homemade cocktail bitters. I specifically used Smirnoff 100 Proof Vodka. One  750 mL of vodka will make about eight 1 oz. amber glass bottles (or four 2 oz. amber glass bottles) of each of the bitters.

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus free printable labels for your finished bottles!

 Orange Homemade Cocktail Bitters Recipe

Ingredients:

375 mL Smirnoff 100 Proof Vodka
4 oz. organic orange peels (from around two fresh oranges)
1/2 teaspoon organic fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon organic coriander seed
2 organic cardamon pods
10 drops Gentian root extract

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and tightly screw on the lid. Keep in cabinet (out of light) for two to two and a half weeks, gently shaking once every other day. After two weeks strain the contents using a coffee filter. Use a small funnel to fill about eight 1 oz. amber bottles with glass droppers. Print out my homemade cocktail bitters labels here, if desired, onto a full sheet sticker label, cut out and then affix each jar with the “You’re such a (bitter) peach!” labels. To protect your labels from moisture you can first cover your labels with clear packing tape before cutting them out and adhering them to the bottles.

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus free printable labels for your finished bottles!

Peach Homemade Cocktail Bitters Recipe

Ingredients:

375 mL Smirnoff 100 Proof Vodka
2 peach pits from fresh peaches
zest from 1/4 organic fresh lemon
1 organic sweet (true) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon organic whole allspice
1/4 teaspoon organic coriander seed
2 whole organic whole cloves
10 drops Gentian root extract

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and tightly screw on the lid. Keep in cabinet (out of light) for two to two and a half weeks, gently shaking once every other day. After two weeks strain the contents using a coffee filter. Use a small funnel to fill about eight 1 oz. amber bottles with glass droppers. Print out my homemade cocktail bitters labels here, if desired, onto a full sheet sticker label, cut out and then affix each jar with the “Orange you bitter!” labels. To protect your labels from moisture you can first cover your labels with clear packing tape before cutting them out and adhering them to the bottles.

Learn how to make homemade cocktail bitters with bitters recipes for both orange bitters and peach bitters plus printable labels for your finished bottles!

Now that you’ve completed your homemade cocktail bitters it’s time to put them to good use! One of my favorite cocktail recipes is for a French 75 with a local twist. This cocktail recipe calls for orange bitters and is a bit sweeter than the more traditional French 75 cocktail. Gin of course goes in a French 75, however if you prefer bourbon that works as well. It’s simply called a French 95. You can find my favorite French 95/75 cocktail recipe here. (For the French 75 I use New Amsterdam gin which isn’t mentioned within that particular cocktail recipe.)

For more homemade cocktail recipes be sure to follow my Cocktail Hour board on Pinterest. Or keep up with all of my new posts by Tumblr and Blog Lovin’. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Instagram.


Blog posts may contain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission when you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.


Homemade DIY Gin Recipe and a Simple DIY Gin Kit

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Homemade Gin Kit and DIY Gin Recipe

I’ve been trying lots of new DIY projects lately and one I’m super psyched about is this homemade DIY gin kit. It’s available for sale at Amazon (Amazon Prime eligible) as well as Darby Smart, where I’ve been purchasing a lot of my DIY craft kits lately.

I’ve been tempted for a while to buy the entire kit, but I instead opted for simply purchasing the homemade gin refill kit available from Darby Smart which is essentially a tin of the botanicals you need to infuse vodka to taste like gin. It’s $15 with free shipping and makes sense if you want to try this out before buying the botanicals in bulk for your own recipe blend. And since you have to buy the vodka anyway, you can simply re-use the same vodka bottle for the gin without having to fork out a lot of extra money for fancy vintage styled bottles. (Or if you want to get fancy, use a Bormioli Rocco Giara Bottle With Stopper.) Then simply use cheesecloth to drain the botanicals out of the final product.

Running your homemade gin through a Brita Everyday Water Filter Pitcher five times will remove any remaining sediment. (Be sure to start with a new filter and soak it in water for fifteen minutes before using.) This is optional of course depending on the end product you’re looking for. If you used cheap vodka I highly recommend not skipping this step.

Now use your homemade gin to make a classic French 75. (A French 75 is the same as the French 95 but it’s made with gin instead of bourbon. (Check out this popular recipe here.)

If you’re ready to make your own botanical blend – and get more bang for your buck – give this DIY gin recipe a go. Then feel free to punch it up with other botanicals of your choosing.

DIY Gin Recipe

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons juniper berries
1/2 plus 1/4 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried chamomile flowers
1/2 plus 1/4 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
5 cardamon pods, broken into pieces
6 whole allspice berries
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon dried grapefruit peel

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in large glass jar with 3 cups of vodka and tightly close lid. Shake well then allow to steep for 36 hours. Strain through cheesecloth and then use a funnel to fill up your final bottle of choice.

Experiment with making your own homemade DIY gin recipes by adding or subbing some of the ingredients with a small amount of other herbs and botanicals such as but not limited to Star Anise, whole cloves, Thai basil, cherrywood, whole nutmeg, and cilantro leaf.

Also be sure to follow my new-ish Cocktail Hour board on Pinterest for homemade cocktail recipes for all occasions. Or follow Soap Deli News via Blog Lovin’ and never miss a post!


Blog posts may contain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission when you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.


Ginger Lemongrass Martini Cocktail Recipe

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Ginger Lemongrass Martini Cocktail Recipe

While the fourth of July has come and gone, it did inspire me to try a new vodka. I’ve been on a huge gin kick lately but after seeing the Spud Ginger Lemongrass Vodka at the ABC store I just couldn’t resist. A fifth of this flavored potato vodka was a reasonable $20 and it’s distilled five times so I decide why not. In the end I was pretty pleased with this vodka though I wish they had more recipes on the Spud Vodka website for this one as I’m not a great mixologist. I generally go out for my drinks but I did really enjoy the one Spudtini recipe they had.

The original recipe for this martini cocktail recipe called for honey syrup. However, I had no idea what honey syrup is or where to find it so I subbed this ingredient for some mighty delicious agave syrup instead. I hope you like this one. I know I did. And please, if you have other ideas for this awesome vodka, share them so I have more reasons to keep it in the freezer on a more regular basis. I’m kind of also wanting to try their pumpkin spice vodka come fall as well for a grown up Halloween treat.

Ginger Lemongrass Martini Cocktail Recipe

The Ginger Lemongrass Spudtini Martini Recipe

Adapted slightly from Spud Vodka’s Spudtini Recipe

Ingredients:

2 oz. Spud Ginger Lemongrass Vodka
1 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. Madhava Light Agave Nectar (or other light agave syrup)
1 egg white
dash Angostura Aromatic Cocktail Bitters

Directions:

Combine all ingredients but the bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Pour into a martini glass, add a dash of bitters and stir. If you’re using a whiskey glass simply double the recipe.

Also be sure to check out this great recipe for a French 95 from my favorite local bartender. You can find that bourbon cocktail recipe here. Or for even more great cocktail recipes follow my Cocktail Hour board on Pinterest.


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Hunter’s French 95 Cocktail Recipe

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Hunter's French 95 Cocktail Recipe - A delicious custom version of the 1920's cocktail made with bourbon and champagne!

Bourbon has never been my drink of choice, however, Hunter – the man behind the scenes and behind the bar at a local restaurant called Lucky – was able to bring me around.

Hunter is without a doubt the best mixologist I know. While he’s only been bartending for 4 1/2 years, he has a unique knack for not only mixing drinks to perfection, but has also mastered the skill of inventing his own great cocktails. Key ingredients are house made like the lemongrass infused tonic, simple syrup, maraschino cherries and even smoked apple ice cubes that are paired with small batch bourbon. Other ingredients are simply fresh from the source like the shaken egg whites that go into my favorite drink, the Silver Fizz, and seasonal drinks made using fresh watermelon or cucumber. Finally, you’ll only find top shelf liquor behind this bar.

How to Make Hunter's Version of the French 95 Classic Cocktail

Of course, with such devotion to the drinks, you can’t leave out the food. The menu at Lucky is also chosen and invented with the same care as the cocktails as Hunter strives to bring the best of both worlds – food and drinks – together for a phenomenal experience.

DIY Homemade French 95 Cocktail Recipe

The drink that brought me around to bourbon is the French 95. Hunter of course has put his own twist on the recipe that has fans around the city asking bartenders at other bars, both locally and while traveling, to make a French 95 like Hunter does. I’ve yet to find another local establishment that can meet the expectations that Hunter has set, but then not everyone stocks the same bourbon or creates their simple syrup and garnish from scratch.

How to Make a French 95 Cocktail

Still, Hunter was kind enough to share his love of bourbon with us, by sharing his cocktail recipe for the French 95. First created in the 1920s, the French 95 is quickly rising in popularity in Roanoke much in the way Cosmos took off again after Mad Men first aired. Here’s his version of the recipe.

French 95 Cocktail Recipe

Hunter’s French 95 Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

1 oz. Evan Williams Black Bourbon
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters
3 oz. Cava Sparkling Wine
Maraschino Cherry

Instructions:

Combine the bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters in a shaker with crushed ice and shake well. Now strain into a champagne coupe – a delightful glass rumored to have been patterned after Marie Antoinette’s breasts for all of you Jeopardy fans – then finish by pouring the champagne or sparkling wine on top and adding a cherry.

Should you live in Roanoke, VA or are simply visiting, I highly recommend you add Lucky to your “to do” list. It’s definitely an experience you’ll love to have again and again. You can find Lucky online and on facebook. They are open six days a week Monday through Saturday for dinner starting at 5pm.


Blog posts may contain affiliate links for which I receive a small commission when you make a purchase. Full disclosure can be found here.