DIY Healthy Natural Coconut Oil Stick Deodorant

0.diynaturaldeodorant_introI ran out of my old deodorant awhile ago, and was wondering what to do about it. I had been hearing a lot about “natural” deodorants, and wondered if they worked any better than store-bought.  With all-natural ingredients and no aluminum, they are undoubtedly better for you.  I found some links to various recipes here, changed some ingredients to create a stick-type product, and decided to try my hand at making my own DIY version.  Here’s how:

Recipe: (more…)

DIY Holiday Chocolate Bark: 4 Recipes to Gift Last-Minute

diychocobark_done2 So it’s only two days before Christmas and time is running out.  You want to give something thoughtful and handmade…but just can’t deal with cookies or fudge.  How about Holiday Chocolate Bark?  It’s super-easy (just melt chocolate chips and add mix-ins!), takes about 20 minutes to set in the fridge, and is totally customizable to your (or the recipient’s!) tastes.  diychocobark_caramelHere are 4 delicious and easy recipes I whipped up in a flash, all built upon a single basic recipe.

Basic Recipe:diychocolatebar_basicrecipe

1. Cover a baking sheet with foil or wax paper (a spray of cooking spray will help hold the paper or foil down).

2. Add 1/2 T canola oil to a 12 oz bag of chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl.  This is your Base.

3. Microwave on high about 1 minute; stir.  Microwave for 30-second increments a few more times, stirring in-between, until the chocolate chips are completely melted.  (Be careful not to over-heat!  Your chocolate will seize up – and the remedy for this is to add more oil and gently heat in 10-second increments until you can get the chocolate liquidy again.)

4.  Working quickly, stir in the Flavoring (if the recipe calls for it), then stir in the Mix-Ins.

5. Pour out onto the baking sheet and use a spatula to spread out.  Sprinkle with Topping if the recipe calls for it.

6. Place the sheet in the fridge about 20 minutes until firm.

7. Break into small pieces with your hands.  Enjoy!

So here’s how to customize: just choose your recipe and follow the how-to above.  Easy as…pie bark!

{ Coconut Pineapple Macadamia Nut Bark }

A creamy taste of the tropics.  White chocolate has a pretty distinct taste, so to cover it up and make it taste more “tropical” I added some coconut flavoring.diychocobark_coconut_ingredients

Base: 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips + 1/2 T canola oil (I needed a little more since my white chocolate seized)

Flavoring: 1 tsp coconut flavoring (optional)

Mix-ins: 1 cup chopped dried pineapple rings, 1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts

Topping: 1/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut


{ Double Peppermint Bark }diychocobark_peppermintTEXT

The perfect holiday recipe.  Use the same brand of chocolate for the Base and the Top Layer for maximal adhesion between the two (I’ve used two different brands before, and had the Top Layer separate from the Base when I cracked it into pieces).diychocobark_peppermint_ingredients

Base: 12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips + 1/2 T canola oil

Flavoring: 1 tsp peppermint flavoring

*Top Layer: 12 oz bag of white chocolate chips + 1/2 T canola oil

Mix-ins: crushed candy canes

Topping: crushed candy canes

*For this recipe, spread out the bottom flavored base layer first onto the pan, and cool in the fridge.  When hard, then melt the top layer chips, add the mix-ins, and spread on top of the Base layer.  Sprinkle with the topping, then place in the fridge again to harden completely.


{ Salted Caramel Cashew Bark }

diychocobark_caramelTEXTThis is the at-home DIY version of my FAVORITE Godiva chocolate bark…which is a whopping $12 a bar at the store.


Base: 12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips + 1/2 T canola oil

Mix-ins: 12 chopped soft caramels (Werther’s makes a soft version of their famous caramels which works really well in this recipe…and Lil Tot ate one just before I took the above photo), 1/2 cup chopped raw cashew nuts

Topping: 1.5 tsp chunky Maldon sea salt


{ Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bark }diychocobark_cherryTEXT

A grown-up version of chocolate-covered cherries, packed with antioxidants.diychocobark_cherry_ingredients

Base: 12 oz bag of dark chocolate chips + 1/2 T canola oil

Mix-ins: 1 cup whole dried sweetened cherries, 1/2 cup chopped slivered blanched almonds

Topping: fine salt sprinkles (optional)


diychocobark_doneFor gift-giving, drop broken bark bits into colored cellophane bags, or package in a beautiful gift box like this above from a gift box kit by Martha Stewart (available at Michael’s in the Scrapbooking section).  And don’t forget to enjoy some chocolate bark yourself!!diychocobark_peppermint

Happy Holidays to one and all~


Make It a D.I.Y. Fourth of July!

img source

Happy July 4th to all my fellow U.S.-based readers out there!

Though this day may be filled with family gatherings and barbecues for some, for others it may just be a lazy day off work and a time to relax.  Here are a couple ideas for projects to do if you’re looking to fill up your day:


Make a Patriotic Pinwheel Corsage quickly with some printed fabric and hot glue.  (And try the accompanying Pinwheel project for some old-school fun or party decoration!)

Stamp cloth napkins, a blank apron, or t-shirts with hand-carved potato stamps dipped in fabric paint for a patriotic pattern.

Add some sparkly adornment to a canvas tote (this photo is of a tote from The Gap from a couple years ago) by sewing sequin trim onto the straps.


Make a Patriotic Fruit Salad with watermelon, blueberries, and white peaches.  Or go for a July 4th Savory Salad: watermelon, feta, and purple fingerling boiled potatoes…or mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes (both red and dark purple)…or blueberries, strawberries feta, and lettuce.

Bake cookies in squares and start-shapes, and then ice in red, white, and blue frosting to piece together a U.S. flag like this inspiring Pinterest pin.

A Fourth of July Flag Cake is easy with blueberries and strawberries arranged strategically on whipped cream!

Hope your Fourth is a happy one!


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My DIYs of 2011: A Look Back

Happy New Year!!

As I do every New Year’s Eve, I planned to stay up late last night, watching old Law & Order reruns, and combing back through my blog archives to list out all the DIYs I’ve shared in the past year.  But it didn’t happen this year; what with the dog howling continuously at the noise from the neighbor’s fireworks, and my husband sleeping downstairs in hopes that his presence would calm the dog, it was not an environment conducive to getting anything done except throwing the covers over my head, plugging my ears, and trying to go to sleep.  So here I am posting all this today instead!


Woven Ribbon Sweater

Chiffon Bow Blouse

Corseted Tee

Peter Som Fabric-Embellished Cardigan

Starburst Safety Pin Blazer

3 Men’s Shirts to Convertible Skirt

Jil Sander Maxi-Skirt

Mesh Insert Sweater

1 and 2/3 yd. Easy Summer Lace Dress

Screenprinted Tree Skirt

Bead-Edged Cut-Out Top


Alexander Wang Stirrup Socks

J. Crew Flowered Neckpiece

Sequin Bow Belt

Alexander Wang Wool Glasses

Zac Posen Fruit Brooch

Marc Jacobs Colored Sunhat

Patriotic Pinwheel Corsage

Leopard T-Shirt No-Sew Scarf

Bead-and-Ribbon Fishnet Necklace

Sparkly Beaded Hairclip

Dyed Fabric Loop Scarf


Cage Cuff

Acrylic Bib Necklace

Woven Chain-and-Ribbon Earrings

Mesh Rhinestone Earrings

Gossip Girl Crochet Necklace

Pamela Love Arrowhead Ring

Bling-Bling Two-Finger Ring

Pamela Love Crystal Crescent Necklace

Ribbon-Wrapped Bracelet


Pink Leopard-Print Luggage

I Love NY Tote Bag

DIY Colorblock Bag

Glitter Zebra Clutch

Miu Miu Rhinestone-Embellished Flats

Balenciaga Cut-Out Boots

Painted Suede Heels

Glitter Faux Litas


Sally Hansen Salon Effects Nail Polish Strips Manicure

Eyelash Extensions

Minx Manicure with Nail Rocks Nail Wraps

Candy Cane Nails

Sequin Nails


Hamburger Cookies

Meatloaf Cupcakes

 (46 in total!!)

If you’d like to see the full yearly compilation of my DIY’s from other years, you can also check out:

My DIY’s from 2010 (63 Tutorials)


My DIY’s from 2009 (51 Tutorials)

(some of them may be missing photos b/c of my move to WordPress last year – if you see any posts missing photos, please let me know! {Leave a comment on the post}  Thanks so much!)

So, as I raise my glass of sparkling grape juice this morning, I wish all of you a very Happy New Year!  May 2012 bring even more wonderful things for everyone~



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Yummy (and Easy!) DIY Holiday Baking

Every year I always make a slew of treats around Christmastime to give to various people in my life: the neighbors, my son’s teachers, the mail lady etc.  This year I tried my hand at making Chocolate Fudge with Walnuts (above left), and was surprised at how simple it was!  (I bought Nestle Carnation’s Famous Fudge Kit from the supermarket and I think it was the most hassle-free holiday recipe I’ve ever made!  Just add 2 T of butter, mix up the ingredients in the box, and it’s done!  Genius.)  I added some chopped walnuts for texture and it came out beautifully.

I also made Double-Chocolate Peppermint Bark (above right), which I make every year.  This year I tinted the white chocolate green to make it a little more fun and Grinch-like.  Recipe is here.

I also made Double-Ginger Mango Shortbread, which I haven’t made since we were living in Hawaii 4 years ago and I found the recipe on the side of a butter box.  I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free shortbread cookie mix, which did simplify the recipe a bit, but still…the worst thing about making shortbread is the endless creaming of the butter (I don’t have a stand mixer, so have to do it all by hand).  I guess because of the gluten-free-ness, it came out a bit dry and crumbly, but the cookies melt in your mouth with the tiniest hint of ginger and chewy bits of mango in them.  I thought I took photos but now I can’t find them; trust me when I write they looked (and tasted)  as good as they sound!

Tomorrow: homemade gingerbread cookies, following this recipe and subbing in molasses for corn syrup, as well as adding 1/4 tsp allspice…they always come out perfect and gingerbready when I do that.  Also: White Chocolate Cranberry-Almond Bark, some of which I’ll give to the neighbors (and some of which I’ll keep for myself!!), and white-chocolate-dipped ginger cookies (I just buy the ginger cookies but they’re still delicious dipped in chocolate!)

In other news, my little boy lost his very first tooth yesterday, and was thrilled to wake up to 2 quarters under his pillow in the little fabric bag he had placed his tooth in the night before.  Because of the missing tooth (and another loose one on the bottom), he’s been having some trouble eating, so hasn’t been able to enjoy all the treats I’m making as much as he wants to, poor thing.:-(

What’s YOUR favorite holiday recipe?


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Happy Birthday, Lil Tot! 4 years of DIY Boy-Themed Birthday Cakes

It was my son (AKA LIl Tot)’s 6th birthday on Friday.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been 6 years since he was born and he is now a robust kindergartner.  I never imagined myself having a child in kindergarten!  This year just seems like a huge milestone, marking the end of his babyhood and beginning of the next stage of his life.

Each year I do my best to create a cake based on his favorite toy-of-the-moment.  I just used a boxed cake mix, but the decorations are an opportunity to flex my creative skills.  And he just loves Beyblade, so this year was a Beyblade cake, decorated with real Beyblades, sprinkles, and a Lego audience.

Last year I made a Mario Kart cake with details I created in rolled fondant; some molded over marshmallows, and the Mario Kart toys attached to the top of candy dispensers.

His 4th birthday cake was Lightning McQueen out of a specially-shaped cake mold; the first time I ever worked to tint icing black.  Which makes, incidentally, very nasty stuff.

And for his 3rd birthday I made a cake train diorama, with decorated cakes made with another specially-shaped train cake pan, wheels from Junior Mints, and trees made from cake baked into cake cones.  Ice cream cakes!

(For his 1st and 2nd birthdays, I just bought his cake.)

I wonder what next year will be?

Have you even made a themed cake for a little boy?  How did it turn out?  Do tell!!

Happy Birthday, Lil Tot!


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