If you love chocolates…and taking pictures…and winning big…well…

…meet Cocoagraph!

Artist-turned-Chocolataire Rae Vittorelli discovered she could combine her love for fashion, photography and vintage aesthetic into one medium: chocolate! So she founded Cocoagraph: The Original Chocolate Photograph Co.

What is it about?

Well, you get a taste of her custom photo bars which are artisan chocolates printed with edible Polaroid-style photographs. Imagine what a hit these would be at your next slumber party!

 

custom-photo-bars

or, you can surprise your BFF with a box of Chocstagram Instagram bars to reminisce over those good old traveling memories:

chocstagram-instagram-bars1  or, win some serious marketing points at your upcoming company event by handing out delicious company logo bars to potential clients. After all, chocolate is the ultimate universal pleaser!

favor-logo

Options are plenty. There’s a gluten-free, milk, white or dark chocolate bar waiting for you whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day!

Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-11.16.49-PM-300x300 Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-11.18.05-PM-300x300 Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-11.45.45-PM-300x300 Screen-Shot-2015-07-07-at-11.45.55-PM-300x300

Who can deny even when Oprah is all over it!

Oprah-bars

Don’t you think this is fabulous?

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Etsy Find of the Day!

Taken keychain

Loving this TAKEN Keychain by Etsy seller giftforbestfriends! This keychain can be custom made with any name, date or symbols (with 23 symbols to choose from). Such a cute gift to give to your friend on their engagement, wedding or anniversary.

And it’s only $10!!!!

DIY Honey, Almond & Oatmeal Soap

DIY Honey, Almond & Oatmeal Soap

First & foremost, I have to apologize for some really average photography this time around. I undertook this soap project towards the end of the day and from the looks of it, I didn’t give enough love to my shots!

But the good news is the soaps turned out awesome & refreshing!

I was dreading to incorporate 3 ingredients into one soap but the formula worked. I refrained from using actual almonds in this soap. In fact, I sorta refrain from using any type of food in my soap which has the ability of going stale, bad or discolored at room temperature after a prolonged period of time. A while back I used pumpkin spice for my Pumpkin Spice Soap recipe – glad I used those soaps quickly as spices tend to lose their freshness in a few weeks and turn brown/black in turn affecting the aesthetics of the soap. For this particular project, oatmeal is totally okay as several weeks later, I’m staring at these soaps and oatmeal seems to be doing just fine!

So why these 3 ingredients:

  • Sweet Almond Oil: good for dry & sensitive skin and helps relieve redness, itchiness and swelling
  • Oatmeal: it is a natural cleanser, exfoliator and moisturizer for your skin
  • Honey: can solve all the problems in the world!

Here’s what I used for the Soap:

ingredients

  • 1 pound Goats Milk Glycerin Soap Base
  • 1 1/2 tsp of grounded Oatmeal
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Honey (tip: altogether, I try not to add more than 3 tsp of additives to one pound of soap base)
  • 1/8 tsp of Honey Almond Fragrance
  • 1/2 tbsp of Sweet Almond Oil
  • Few drops of Yellow Colorant
  • Soap Molds (I purchased a combination of circular and square-shaped molds from Michaels)
  • Soap Making Straight Cutter (not seen in the image above but if you plan on making a number of soaps, it is a tool worth investing in)
  • Microwave Safe Measuring Cup or Bowl
  • Rubbing Alcohol (I keep a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol ready to go for my projects)

Step-By-Step Tutorial:

Cut up soap base into small cubes, place them in a microwave safe measuring bowl (as seen in the image above) and begin melting the soap cubes in the microwave in 15-20 second increments until soap is completely melted. Stir to make sure no small cubes are hidden within the soap mix and the soap is entirely melted, looking something like this:

Melted phase

Add grounded oatmeal, honey, honey almond fragrance, sweet almond oil and a few drops of yellow colorant to the melted soap mix and stir properly & efficiently (no need to rush this!) until all ingredients are dissolved and mixed well. These colorants can be very strong so I suggest you go easy at first and add only a drop or two to see how far along you are in accomplishing your final ideal shade. Then, if needed, keep adding a few drops until you’ve reached your desired shade/coloring. Here’s a picture of all ingredients stirred into the soap mix with a few drops of the yellow colorant:

coloring

Once the ingredients are mixed well, pour your soap mix into soap molds. I used a combination of the square- and circular-shaped soap molds and ended up making 5 soaps.

molds

Lastly, spray rubbing alcohol gently on your soap mixtures to rid your soaps of any bubbles which may appear at the surface. Let your soaps sit for at least a couple of hours at room temperature and then pull them out of the molds gently when ready.

…and we are done!

DIY Honey, Oatmeal and Almond Soap

Check out my Rose Water Soap recipe for more tips and intriguing ingredients!

DIY Rose Water Soap

Final Pic1

Growing up, I just loved the smell of rose-anything…roses, rose water, rose scent, rose soaps, rose drinks, you name it, I’ve smelled it. So of course when I took on the hobby of soap making sometime last year, I wanted to try soap making with pure rose water. Why rose water? Rose water offers many benefits for your skin and overall well-being and here’s to name a few:

  • It is rich in vitamins A, C, D, E and B3 hence good for nourishing and rejuvenating an ageing skin
  • It has natural antiseptic,  anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties so it can help cool and soothe irritated skin as well as diminish redness
  • It can be applied as a natural toner to help balance and revitalize normal to dry skin
  • It does magic as an aromatherapy ingredient to help reduce stress

I wanted to use pure rose water as an ingredient in my soaps, however, I had no idea how adding additional liquid-based ingredient would affect the properties of my soap base. So I set out to give it a try and guess what? Soaps turned out great! And they smell absolutely breathtaking, look pretty and make adorable holiday gifts. In fact, I made these right before the holidays as gifts for my special friends. They were a total win!

Here’s what I used for my Rose Water Soap:

Step-By-Step Tutorial:

Cut up soap base into small cubes, place them in a microwave safe measuring bowl (as seen in the image above) and begin melting the soap cubes in the microwave in 15-20 second increments until soap is completely melted. Stir to make sure no small cubes are hidden within the soap mix and the soap is entirely melted.

Melting

Add 1/2 tablespoon of pure rose water, 1/8 teaspoon of rose fragrance and a few drops of red colorant to the melted soap mix and stir properly & efficiently (no need to rush this!) until all ingredients are dissolved and mixed well. These colorants can be very strong so I suggest you go easy at first and add only a drop or two to see how far along you are in accomplishing your final ideal shade. Then, if needed, keep adding a few drops until you’ve reached your desired shade/coloring. Since I wanted more of a rosy shade, I added my red coloring very slowly to the mix to avoid ending up with a deep red color. To give you a perspective, here’s the mix when I added my first two drops of red colorant:

Add Coloring

See what I mean?

Once the ingredients are mixed well, pour your soap mix into soap molds. I ended up using 4 of these molds for my entire mix.

Put in molds

As you can see, bubbles appear as you settle the mix in the molds. No worries. Spray rubbing alcohol gently on your soap mixtures to rid your soaps of bubbles. Let your soaps sit for at least a couple of hours at room temperature and then pull them out of the molds gently when ready.

What a beauts!!!

Final Pic1BTW I’m already taking showers with my rose water soap and the bath smells like roses!!!

These soaps literally took me less than 30 minutes in the making (from prepping to settling into molds). So think: they’re quick, economical, pretty and make great give-away’s!!!

For some helpful tips for your soap-making adventures, refer to my tips on my previous DIY Pumpkin Spice Soap project.

Also, fyi, I bought these ingredients very last minute as this fabulous idea materialized in my head practically two days before the Holiday party (where I unveiled them to my friends). Hence I had to rely on what I could find quickly at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby. Albeit I’m an avid shopper of both, there are plenty of online stores which offer way more soap making ingredients and molds you can play around with. One of my personal favorites one-stop shop is Bramble Berry. But, with Michael’s and Hobby Lobby’s frequent 50% and 40% coupons, you can’t beat the savings!

Enjoy!!!

10-Minute Pumpkin Spice Soap

Pumpkin Pie Spice Soap

Last week I came across this recipe of a 10-minute Pumpkin Spice Soap on Pinterest by Heidi of Happiness is Homemade and was hooked instantly. I do agree everything homemade translates into happiness. And since I have this fear the world may come to an end during my lifetime, I might as well catch up on all the tricks and trade of making/growing/creating everything on my own while I can! And sooo speaks my love for zombies and The Walking Dead…

Besides learning how to grow vegetables, I want to be able to create my own au naturel facial remedies, bathing goods and cleaning supplies. This is the first step to my magnifique plan – it’s simple, quick and doable.

Follow the step-by-step instructions on Heidi’s blog and if it helps, refer to my “rookie” tips below to guide you through this tutorial.

Here’s what I used for this project:

Ingredients

and here are my final soaps!!!

soap

I’m smelling them as we speak and I love the scent! Reminds me of Autumn!

Can’t wait to give these away as Holiday gifts. And if you have kids, these make awesome gifts for teachers. I already wrapped a sneak peek for my sister!

Tips:

DIYers! Always, and I mean ALWAYS, keep your supplies close and your patience level closer to you when it comes to DIYing!!! And remember, doesn’t matter if it’s a 10-minute, 30-minute or 1-hour project, expect it to last longer if you are attempting at it for the first time. These projects are being performed by seasoned crafters who have been doing this for a long time. You will catch yourself in the 2nd hour of a 1-hour project at some point, trust me on that!

  • Soap base overheat saga – I followed the original directions to melt soap cubes in the microwave in 30-second increments, however, after the 2nd 30-second increment, I noticed cubes remained intact so I made the hasty decision to heat them for 1 minute. I ended up with an almost boiling soap mix which is not good as boiling made the soap mix settle quickly, clump up and stick to the bowl. The idea here is to slowly melt the soap cubes so please, be not impatient like me, and start your melting process in 30- to not more than 45-second increments – better to increase your frequency of increments not the allotted time of each. I believe my blooper is the reason why I had to let my soap molds cool down for at least an hour.
  • Missing measuring spoon saga – Of course, I did not keep my supplies close to me so when it was time to add 2 tbsps of Pumpkin Pie Spice, I desperately searched my kitchen drawers for the measuring spoon only to finally remember I had broken the sucker during my last cooking disaster. So I had to resort to a normal tablespoon which is why I’m guessing I ended up using more spice, hence more coloring. See? Keep your supplies ready to go before your project!
  • OCD saga – I’m a sad sad sad perfectionist, so much that…

OCD

Know that nothing in life is perfect not even these cute little pumpkin’ed out soaps, take a deep breath, tread forward in life and pray the receivers of these soaps are not as OCD’ed out like you!