Fabulous DIY Foot Fixes -- The Tamara Blog

Let’s face it, our feet need care. After weeks of wearing flip flops, a few long days of standing at the job, or just their day-to-day function of supporting you, it’s nice to give your ‘dogs’ a little TLC.

This kit covers all the bases of good foot maintenance: exfoliation, hydration and freshening, with three of my favorite go-to foot favorites, Lovely Loofah Soap, Extra Moisturizing Lotion Bar and Refreshing Foot Spray. And they can be used on more than just your feet.

I use two foot-friendly essential oils to scent these items. They’re readily available, and perfectly suited for pampering your piggies.

Peppermint oil — it’s anti-microbial, anti-fungal, an antioxidant, and even has anti-edema properties.

Tea tree oil has some of the same properties, being antibacterial, anti-microbial, antiseptic, antiviral, it’s a fungicide, and even a stimulant! Additionally they smell delicious and are appreciated by both men and women. Here’s what you need to know to make each of these fabulous herbal body products.

Loofa Soap and Funky Foot Fixes, The Tamara Blog

 

Exfoliating Lovely Loofah Soap

This scrubbie-embedded soap is nice to use on rough spots.

Loofa Soap Ingredients. The Tamara Blog

Materials and Supplies:

  • Loofah sponge
  • Glycerin Soap Base — unscented
  • Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Food Coloring (optional)
  • Soap Molds — I use molds made for this purpose, but you can also use muffin tins, fancy ice or candy molds
  • Serrated Knife
  • Pyrex Measuring Cup or other heat-safe jar (mason jars work)
  • Chopstick (for stirring)

Prepare loofah by slicing with serrated knife. I like making my slices the same height as my molds. This keeps the loofah exposed, so its scrubbing qualities are available right from the start. Place loofah slices in molds.

Loofa Slices -- The Tamara Blog

Loofa Slices, The Tamara Blog

Loofsa Slices in mold. The Tamara Blog

Each soap mold holds 3 to 4-ounces of soap, and most meltable soaps come scored in 1-ounce sections. Cut soap base into squares and place in heat-proof measuring cup.

Melted Glycerin Soap -- The Tamara Blog

If using microwave, melt soap in 40-second increments. It usually only takes 2 to 3 rounds to melt all the soap. If using stove method, place mason jar/pyrex cup in water in saucepan.

Add peppermint & tea tree oil to melted soap base. For 2 cups of soap, I recommend 10 drops of each.

Adding Fragrance -- The Tamara Blog

Color in Melted Soap -- The Tamara Blog

Add food coloring, if using. I used 2 drops of blue and 1 small drop of green.

Mix colors and essential oils thoroughly into melted soap.

Pour soap into prepared molds, pressing down on loofah to ensure full saturation.

Loofa Soap and Funky Foot Fixes, The Tamara Blog

Loofa Soap -- The Tamara Blog

Loofa Soap and Funky Foot Fixes, The Tamara Blog

Loofa Soap and Funky Foot Fixes, The Tamara Blog

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Allow bars to cool for 30 to 40 minutes, and un-mold. If soaps don’t come out of molds easily, pop in the freezer for a few minutes.

Loofa Soap and Funky Foot Fixes, The Tamara Blog

 

Moisturizing Lotion Bars

 

Lotion Bars -- The Tamara Blog

 

Use this solid lotion bar a bit like chap-stick for your feet. Apply to rough patches, and rub in. The butters & oils will moisturize, and the fragrance will help de-funk those tootsies!

Materials and Supplies:

Lotion Bar Ingredients -- The Tamara Blog

  • 1/4 cup Shea Butter or Cocoa butter
  • 1/4 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup Beeswax — grated
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Oil
  • 20 drops Peppermint Oil
  • Pyrex Measuring Cup or other heat-safe jar (mason jars work)
  • Small Molds

Candy and Ice Molds for Lotion Bars -- The Tamara Blog

Combine shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax and melt. If using a microwave, heat in 30-second increments. If using the stove, place mason jar or measuring cup in water in saucepan.

Melting Lotion Bar ingredients -- The Tamara Blog

The beeswax will be the last ingredient to melt. In order not to burn or overheat the mixture, remove from heat once most of the solids are melted, then stir until the beeswax is incorporated. Reheat for a few seconds, if necessary. Add essential oils and stir.

Lotion Bars -- The Tamara Blog

Lotion Bars -- The Tamara Blog

Lotion Bars -- The Tamara Blog

Pour into molds, allow to cool, and un-mold.

Funky Foot Fixes -- The Tamara Blog

Refreshing Foot Spray

This spray can be used in stinky shoes, or directly on feet for a an invigorating and odor-reducing boost. Use sparingly on skin, as alcohol can be drying.

REfreshing Foot Spray -- The Tamara Blog

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 1/2 cup Vodka
  • 20-30 drops Tea Tree Oil, Peppermint Oil, or a combination of both
  • Spray Bottle

Combine vodka and essential oils, pour into spray bottle. Shake well before using.

Refreshing Foot Spray -- The Tamara Blog

Refreshing Foot Spray -- The Tamara Blog

Packaging and Tips

Funky Foot Fixes -- The Tamara Blog

Funky Foot Fixes -- The Tamara Blog

Find a set of labels for your fantastic foot products here. They’re compatible with most 2-1/2″ circle sticker sheet templates, or you can simply cut them out of paper and glue on. Label and package all your goodies, and you’re done.

The loofa soap is fantastic for feet, but is equally welcome as a body exfoliator in the shower. Switch up the essential oils to your fragrance favorites. Same with the lotion bars – they are great for scaly elbows, or even to moisturize cuticles. And because they’re in solid form, they’re easy to travel with. No worries about spilling or TSA screening!

Enjoy pampering your ‘paws’ or whatever!

Lovely DIY Foot Pampering Kit -- The Tamara Blog

 

The Essential Teacher "emergency" kit -- The Tamara Blog

I have two sisters, both teachers (and a slew of cousins who are too!). One works at an elementary school, the other at a high school. Their jobs make for a fun summer for us all, but come August, they dread going back.

Not that they dislike their jobs, but come on… don’t we all hate the end of summer?

SomeEcards

One sister (the lucky one) lives nearby. When she started to feel the pull of the job, I figured that she needed a little care-package/emergency kit before the hustle and bustle of the new school year began. This is a great gift for friends or relatives, or other teachers you know. In my opinion, teachers tend to be highly under-appreciated, so any little token that acknowledges how hard they work goes a long way. So does a little humor.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Here is my take on the Back to School Emergency Kit for Teachers. I figure all the items need to be useful or fun, and all can go for male or female teachers. And if they’re things the teacher won’t think of, all the better. My remedies come in 4 categories: Wellness, Getting Through the Day, Luxuries, & After Work. No school supplies here. And nearly all of them came from my local drug store.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

  • Wellness: Lozenges, hand sanitizer, Emergen-C, tissues.
  • Getting Through the Day: Pain reliever, energy snacks, antacids, Tea/Coffee packets, chocolate-covered espresso beans, peanut-butter packets, single-serving cereals, coffee gift cards.
  • Little Luxuries: Calming hand lotion, aromatherapy items, chocolate, microwave popcorn.
  • After Work: Single servings of wine, fuzzy socks, a good novel, meditation music.

Find printable labels here from a template by World Labels. (World Labels has fantastic designs, for free!)

While these are already designed, you have to cut out each label individually. If you’d prefer to design your own labels, you can find the pre-cut stickers as well as the label template here.

Kit Tags

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Obviously the wine can’t go with the teacher to school (nor can it be presented on school grounds — use your own discretion), but some of the other items will end up in desk drawers, for whenever they’re needed.

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

Get a container, start gathering goodies and pack it up. Print the labels (be sure to set your printer to “actual size” when printing the pdf), and cut and arrange. I promise you, the gift, and the thought behind it, will be very well received!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She Loves the Kit -- Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

She loves it!

Teacher "Emergency" Kit -- The Tamara Blog

 

Enjoy!

Single Truffle Spoon with Ribbon

Chocolate ganache is a magical kitchen concoction. It’s an elegant cake drizzle, a silky whipped-frosting topping, and a gorgeous truffle interior. It’s versatile, impressive and deceptively easy to make. Ganache is one of those things that everyone should have at the ready. (And now that Trader Joe’s carries SHELF STABLE whipping cream, at any time, you can be 5 minutes from a perfect ganache!!)

TJs Cream

These truffles can be easily adapted to fit your taste. Craving a little spice? Add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon or cayenne pepper to the mixture. Need a kick? Add a teaspoon of instant espresso. For a more adult flavor, 2 or 3 Tbs. flavored liquor does nicely. For texture, mix in a couple tablespoons of finely chopped nuts, crispy rice, or toffee. The possibilities are limitless.

Display of Wrapped spoons

But the best thing about these little cuties is the presentation. I received these super cute wooden ice-cream spoons in my Christmas stocking from my sister. I wanted to make chocolate nib truffles for Valentine’s Day, so the elements all came together for this treat.

Wooden Spoons

About ingredients:

Better chocolate makes for better truffles. Considering there are only 2 or 3 ingredients in these truffles, know that your chocolate will be the star. I love Belgian Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate. It’s delish all alone. In a truffle, it’s magnificent.

Cacao nibs. You may have seen them in fancy chocolate bars. Basically, they are the ‘mother’ of chocolate products – Nibs are cacao beans that have been shelled, roasted and crushed. Eventually the nibs/beans get pulverized, pressed and mixed with sugar and other ingredients to become what we know as chocolate. The slightly bitter nibs add a rich, lovely, vaguely nutty element to the truffle.

Salt. It’s all the rage to add salt to sweets – the fact that Starbucks has a ‘salted caramel hot chocolate mix’ indicates that the fad may have hit its peak. But truth be told, the salty-sweet combo is legit. Let’s face it, we like it, and we’re gonna continue to like it. (See Toffee Pretzels) That said, instead of sea salt, I use a Brava coffee flavored salt (find it here. I’ll show you how to make your own in another blog.). It adds another layer of flavor that really makes these truffles special.

Here’s how you can make these amazing chocolate ganache truffle spoons.(Click here for a printable version of the Chocolate Nib Spoon Recipe.)

Packaged spoon

Chocolate Truffle Spoons with Cocoa Nibs

Truffle Ganache Filling

  • 1½ C semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 C heavy cream
  • 1-2 Tbs. cacao nibs, coarsely chopped

Chocolate Coating

  • 2 C chocolate
  • 2 Tbs. shortening
  • Coarse salt (optional)

If using bar or chunk chocolate, chop coarsely. Place chocolate in a glass bowl or pitcher. Add cream. Place in microwave, and heat for 30 seconds. Stir with a whisk. Return to microwave for another 15 to 30 seconds and stir again. Repeat heating and stirring until chocolate thoroughly melts, is fully combined and glossy. Voila, ganache.

cream choc

choc in micro

stirring

Mid Stir

Note: Be careful not to overheat, as the chocolate can easily burn. Depending on your microwave, the melting process should only take about one to two minutes.

Add Cocoa Nibs

Allow to cool. To speed up the process, place in a shallow dish and refrigerate.

In order to pipe the ganache onto spoons, the mixture needs to be thick, but not so firm that it won’t pass through the pastry bag. The desired consistency is like that of frosting.

Piping bag

Place the ganache/truffle mixture into a piping bag, and pipe onto spoons. If you find the ganache is not thick enough, pop into the fridge for a few minutes. If it’s too thick, knead with warm hands for a few minutes, and it will loosen up.

pipe onto spoons

Place the piped spoons onto a parchment or waxed paper-lined tray and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the spoons are chilling, in a small saucepan, place 2 cups of chocolate, and 2 Tbs. vegetable shortening. Warm on low, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat, let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Piped spoons

Remove truffle spoons from fridge, and quickly dip into the melted chocolate to coat, allow to cool on waxed paper or parchment. Do this step quickly, as the warm chocolate can cause the ganache truffle to melt and fall off the spoon! (Learned that one the hard way.) Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate another 5 minutes.

Dip Spoon

Fresh Salt

Delish finished spoon

Serve immediately or wrap and give as gifts. Makes 30 to 40 small spoon-sized truffles.

Variations:

Truffles on metal spoons

Use larger spoons for a larger ‘bite.’

These truffles can also be made without the spoons. Simply scoop with a spoon and roll with your hands, cool and dip in melted chocolate, or roll in cocoa powder or finely chopped nuts.

Truffle spoon on rose

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Wooden spoon truffle with ribbon

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Three Spoons on a Tray

 

 

Click here for the printable Chocolate Nib Spoon Recipe.

Enjoy!

I make these almonds every year for Christmas gifts. And every time, have to make double/triple batches, because they inevitably get eaten before packaging. They’re easy, save well for a couple weeks, and are deeee lish, if I say so myself. Enjoy!

Rosemary Herbed Almonds

Rosemary Herbed Almonds

4 cups raw, whole almonds

4 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. dried rosemary

1 Tbs. herbs de provence (if not available, substitute more rosemary)

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1-1/2 tsp. kosher salt

P1030233 Herbs

Crush the dried herbs with a mortar and pestle or use the back of a spoon.  Heat the olive oil in the microwave for 20 seconds, add crushed herbs and mix together.

P1030236 Almonds 1

Pour  the almonds on a rimmed baking sheet.  Add the herbed olive oil and stir until all the nuts are coated.  Spread the almonds in a single layer, and place in the oven at 325 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

I use two timers for this.  One I set at 25 minutes, the other for five.  I re-set the 5 minute timer each time I stir, and keep the 25 minute one, so I don’t lose track of the overall time.  After 25 minutes, taste an almond to see if it’s crunchy.  Don’t over cook the almonds.

P1030262 Almonds CU

When done, let cool, then add salt and stir.  Allow to cool for 1 hour before packaging. Keep stored in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

P1030249 Pretzels and Almonds

My super talented pal, Cathe Holden made the label template, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it.

20121215_153130

Ribbon Rose Wrist Corsage — say that five times fast!

I’m long past my Prom days, but I do believe that we need more reasons to wear flowers — in our hair, on lapels and the ever-lovely corsage. But fresh flowers do have a more ‘Weddings and Proms’ sort of vibe, so I’ve created a ribbon wrist corsage that you can wear anytime and with anything from a little-black-dress to jeans and a t-shirt.

This is an easy project that you really will use for years to come.  To make it, all you need are a few coordinating ribbons, some beads, and a needle & thread.  It’s perfect for a Mother’s Day gift, birthday present, or to keep for yourself.  And, best of all, no pimply boys sticking you with pins!

My finished corsage

Starting from the top layer, here’s how to make the corsage/bracelet.

Choose ribbon that’s not too slippery, and not too thin. My beige ribbon is 5/8″ wide cotton, 16″ long. If you are using wider ribbon, start with a longer piece. 1-1/2″ ribbon requires about a 30″ piece. Don’t use wire-edged ribbon for this part. You also want to have the same color thread already threaded in your needle, with a knot at the end, and have some coordinating seed beads handy. Don’t skip this preparation step… you’ll regret it in a minute if you do!

Just so you have enough, start with about 16″ of ribbon, find the middle, and create a 45° fold.  Like this:

♥♥♥

Then turn down the top, so that top point is pointing down.

♥♥♥

Then flip the entire thing over, like you’re turning a page, so you’re now looking at the back, and it looks like this:

♥♥♥

Take the tail on the right and fold it over to the left.

♥♥♥

It will look like this:

♥♥♥

Then take the bottom tail, and fold it up… like this:

♥♥♥

Fold that tail on the left over to the right, like this:

♥♥♥

See a pattern forming?  You’re creating little box folds.  Keep doing it for about 12 to 15 times.  Your ribbon will look like this:

♥♥♥

Be sure to hold the bottom securely, and let your ribbon expand out like this:

♥♥♥

Now the fun part! Still holding the bottom layer with your left hand, gently pull one of the tails (it doesn’t matter which one).  Keep the bottom secure, but let the ribbon slide through… the top will sort of collapse down to your left hand.

Holding and pulling… gently…

Keep going…

STOP!  (Don’t pull too far and ruin all your work.)  Magic!  You have a little rose. Look how cute!

♥♥♥

Now we have to secure the cutie-pie. This is where you need your pre-threaded needle. Grab that, and start to make little stitches from the back to hold your folds in place.

Back of your tiny cute rose

Make sure the stitches go through all layers of ribbon. Then bring some stitches from front to back and add a sparkle of seed bead.

I put about ten stitches in my rose, just to make sure it doesn’t move. Trim your ends on a diagonal.

Finished Rose

Next step is the satin flower base. Simple. Really.

I’ve got 8″ of single faced satin ribbon, 1-1/2″ wide. Stitch together the short ends, shiny (right) sides together, knot.

♥♥♥

Next, along one of the long sides of the ribbon, create some gathering stitches — about 1/4″ long, with a knot at ONE end.

♥♥♥

Next you’re going to gather that one side.  Gently pull that thread tightly…

♥♥♥

Once the gathering thread is tight, you can secure it in place with a couple stitches.

♥♥♥

Here’s that pretty flower…

♥♥♥

A little greenery as a base (this ribbon has a wire edge, so it stays put.).

Then I finished off the ends of my velvet base ribbon with velcro (Velvet ribbon 1-1/2″ wide, 7-1/4″ long).

♥♥♥

Stitch all the flower layers together on the base ribbon, and you’re done!  I added a vintage brooch to the end, to make the back look more finished, and the weight of the brooch keeps the flower from twirling around to the back of my wrist.

I must say, I think it’s beautiful, and I wear mine A LOT.  Of course, you can use the same flower-making techniques for hair ribbons and handbags.  Make something beautiful. Enjoy!