Category Archives: crafts

DIY: Candy Hearts

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Have you ever thought, “What is the craziest thing I could make from scratch, instead of easily buying it for less than $5”?  If the answer is yes, then I have a couple things to share with you.  The first is DIY candy hearts, and the second is homemade hostess cupcakes.  I have a draft blog post written for the hostess cupcakes from so long ago, the cultural references are no longer valid.  Everyone go re-watch a couple years of Mad Men and I will share the hostess cupcake post.

In the meantime, get to work on these candy hearts because Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and this is a multi-day thing.

There are quite a few recipes out there, but here is what I did – this is mostly adapted from this Food Network recipe.

1 1/4 -ounce packet unflavored gelatin powder
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 cup boiling water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1 -pound boxes confectioners’ sugar (about 8 cups), plus more for kneading
Assorted food coloring
Assorted extracts (such as peppermint, strawberry or almond) – I used just peppermint because that’s what I have in my house.*
Cooking spray
Food decorating pens – I bought these.
Parchment Paper

*I may branch out if I make these again.  Our grocery store remodel was a couple years ago, and I just now ran across the extract-secret-hiding-place.

Steps:

Throughout this process, you want to keep the dough covered and work quickly enough that it doesn’t dry out.  On the other hand, they won’t be totally dry for a couple days, so don’t stress too much.

Add the the gelatin, corn syrup, salt and the half cup of boiling water and whisk together. Do this in the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, or in that same bowl with a regular whisk.

Once the gelatin is dissolved, switch to the paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer on low – medium and add the vanilla and then slowly add the confectioner’s sugar.  You can add a cup at a time, adding more as the prior cup gets incorporated.

Take the dough out of the mixer  when it is smooth and tacky.  If you plan to do 4 colors, separate it into 4 sections. I did white, purple, green, and pink.  Roll the white into a disk and cover with plastic wrap.  Keep all sections of dough that you aren’t working on under plastic wrap.  Add the food coloring to the other sections, as well as the extra flavor.  All I did was add a little peppermint with the green food coloring. You can mix the color in the mixer, or by hand as you knead the dough.  I did it by hand because my mixer doesn’t handle very small amounts of dough very well.  I added a couple drops of color, and rolled the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap, kind of folding it over itself a couple times.

As you get the color mixed in, start to roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/4 inch.  Roll it between two pieces of parchment paper. You may need to add extra powdered sugar so the dough doesn’t stick to the paper.  Cut the dough with cookie cutters and leave to dry on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

Repeat for each color.

Leave the hearts to dry.  I read that it takes 24 hours, but ours took a little longer.

Write your messages when the hearts are dry.

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Don’t think they will look like the hearts in the box or the hearts on pinterest.  Don’t be discouraged.

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Crafty: Soap Surprises

IMG_0363A million years ago, I bought a Star Wars Craft book.  The craft I really wanted to make was the  Han Solo in Soapanite, but I didn’t have a Han Solo figure.  And to be honest, if I did, I probably would not have wanted to give it away. (I can’t make random crafts, they have to be gifts.) I had to wait a couple years for the new Star Wars movies to come out so I could easily buy a Han Solo figure at Target.  I had bought the soap making supplies at Michaels two years ago, just a few days before our house flooded.  The stars aligned so that just as the Star Wars merchandise was hitting the stores, the soap making supplies arose from the metaphorical ashes of our flooded house.  The timing was ripe for the perfect Christmas gift.  Of course, I was unable to find 40 minutes to get this done before Christmas, and so it became a mid January late Christmas gift.  But it was a beloved gift!  All family members were jealous and I suddenly had birthday gift ideas too!  It was the gift that kept on giving!  I asked my nieces what they wanted encased in soap and I got to work.  I went ahead and made one for my nephew too, because why not get a head start on his birthday?

The soap supply stuff that I bought at Michaels was easy to use.  You just heat it in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir and keep heating at 15 second intervals until it is a liquid.  I heated the soap in my 2 cup pyrex measuring cup.  I took a travel soap dish and lined it with freezer paper to use as a mold.  I made sure to have the freezer paper hang over the sides so I could pull the soap out.

I positioned Han in the mold before I heated the soap.  I put a lot of thought into what food coloring I should use to give it that carbonate look.  Then I realized no one wants to rub food coloring on their hands when they are using a bar of soap.   I added a capful of vanilla to the melted soap to give it color and fragrance.

All that was left was to pour the melted soap over Han, and watch the scene from The Empire Strikes back in my head.  I let the soap sit over night, but it was pretty solid after an hour.

The next three soaps were each better than the last.  The first thing I figured out was that I should have the figures facing the back of the mold so the bubbles wouldn’t obscure the view.  I did each of these the same afternoon, reusing the mold and it really didn’t take long for the soap to set.  This is the perfect craft for turning random toys from the jar above the washing machine* into fun and desirable objects.  It could also inspire more frequent hand washing!

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I wrapped these in homemade wrapping paper that Jack had made for Luke for Christmas and which I just found in the piano bench.  (Weird.) Then I sent them off in the hands of the USPS.  Sadly, the tracking says they were delivered on Presidents Day, which seems highly suspicious.  Worse, the package has not been found.   Let’s keep our fingers crossed that they turn up soon!

*Only some of these objects were found about the washing machine.  Some were gleaned from the boys toy bins, some from a neighbor’s toy bins.