Homemade Gifts or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bath Bombs

So,  I’ve been doing a lot of my Christmas shopping lately and as I’ve been wandering through throngs of people (seriously, don’t you people have jobs or families to go to?) and sifting through shelves of all the useless shit that’s piled up in the big box stores of this city and I’ve come to a realization that some of you little fruitcakes might have already had:  Christmas gift shopping sucks.  I know what you’re thinking: “But, Oh Crafty One, it’s only November, it can’t be that bad!”  But it is… it’s worse.  I like to spend most of my Christmas holidays not wanting to hang myself from the rafters with a piece of tack-licious tinsel garland, so I stay out of stores by getting all my gifts early.  However, I think I might be giving away too many of my secrets because it seems the masses have figured out my ploy and followed me, Pied-Piper-style, to Walmart and beyond.
So, what is a Crafty Bitch to do when you want to please your friendly-wendlies and loved ones and not kill your fellow shoppers in the process?  Why, you just whip together some hassle-free treats, stick on a gift tag, and call it a day.

One of the most underrated treasures in the world is homemade gifts.  Think about all the absolute crap you’ve gotten in your lifetime and how much it actually meant to you.  If I could take all the shitty teddy bears I’ve gotten in my life and get them together, I wouldn’t have a teddy bear picnic, I’d have a teddy bear bonfire.  I don’t know about you, but I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need any more junk, and so are most of my friends, so why should I be throwing away tons of my hard-earned money at the mall finding that perfect something  when my pal-ios probably already have two of them, or they never wanted it in the first place.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the most valuable thing you can give someone is your time, so why not put together a few time-filled goodies.

Bath Bombs
These are super easy to make and I love them because when you throw them in the drink with ya it’s like soaking in a big glass of champagne.

They’re also awesome  because you can lie and tell people they took you all day and they’ll believe you (Remember: The best relationships are built on a foundation of lies).

Ingredients:
1 cup baking soda:
I say sodium bicarbonate because it helps me remember baking soda, not powder.  Also, it makes me sound like  a fancy scientist: “Hmm, yes, I need some sodium bicarbonate for cleaning my flatware… AND MY DEATH RAY”.  You can get this anywhere, I like Bulk Barn because it’s cheapy-cheapy and I can pick up  a shit load of candy while I’m at it.

1/2 cup of citric acid:
… or as I like to call it– Waldo, because it can be pretty hard to find.  Here’s a few little tricks to finding it though that I didn’t really think of when I went out a-lookin’: Know what it looks like:
(I put a tiny wind-up Santa next to it to give you an idea of how big it should be.  Then I realized that tiny Santa’s aren’t exactly a universal measurement, but fuck it, I’m not taking the photo again.)

Secondly, you’ll probably be asked what citric acid used for just so they’ll know what section of the store to find it in.  The answer is- It should be everywhere, but it’s usually nowhere.  It can be used in small amounts as an additive to jams and jellies so it could be found in the canning section of Walmart, it’s also used to ripen cheese so it might be in your local health food or cooking supply stores, also, you can use it to cut heroine so you might try asking your local drug dealer.  Just joking, smack is whack.  Anyway, I thought I could just go out and ask some nice helpful salespeople and someone would have an idea.  However, most people looked at me like I was trying to build a bomb.  Which I was… a bath bomb!  (Just FYI, it’s probably not a good idea to use that one to said suspicious salespeople.)  After 2 Walmart`s, 4 Shopper’s Drug Marts, 2 Dominions (brawl with rude customer service lady thrown in for free), and 1 Sobey’s,  I had a stroke of genius that involved calling around before heading out.  Of course the first place I called was a wine making supply store that had tons of the stuff.  So, I’d look there first.  If you’re okay to wait, I’d recommend checking out Ebay or the Brewery Lane’s online store, Clickabrew, which is the store I got mine from.

2 teaspoons of cornstarch
Easy enough.

4 teaspoons of grapeseed oil
If you don’t know what grapeseed oil is it’s because it’s been camouflaged next to the olive oil at the grocery store for all these years.

A few drops of food colouring
I use neon food colouring because I’m wild and craaaaazy.

A few drops of fragrance
You can get these at Michael`s or any place with soap making supplies.  I’m not usually one who heeds all the warnings but I’ve heard that you must use soap fragrance as candle scent can irritate you body when added to a bath and I always abide by such disclaimers when my hoo-ha is involved ;).

Extras
There are a few extras you can add to your bath bombs, such as vitamin E oil, but really you’d just be spending money to gild the lily.  Some people add sugar, sprinkles, or candies, but apparently these peoples’ mothers didn’t teach them about the pitfalls of women’s health (Thanks, Ma!).

Instructions (Make sure you pay attention, it’s real tricky)
1.  Mix wet ingredients in a cup (this batch is grapefruit flavoured, in case you were wondering).

2.  Mix dry ingrediants in a bowl.

3.  Add contents of cup to bowl.

4.  Smoosh.   Throughout your smooshing process you will need to add more oil, just keep going until you get a sticky-ish consistency– enough so when you shape it it doesn’t fall apart.  Don’t worry if you go a bit overboard, as long as you don’t turn it into bath bomb-slop you can even it out with more baking soda.  P.S.  You will love how your hands feel after this– soft like buttah.

BAM! you got your mixture.  Use anything you want as a mold- ice cube trays, chocolate molds, plastic Christmas ornaments, it’s all good.
I like the little bubble  containers you get from gumball machines.  Pack it hard (that’s what she said) then extract from your mold.  Again, if they are a little powdery or oily just let them sit for a while to harden up.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match colours, some of my favorites are pink and green melon scented, and white vanilla paired with orange tangerine to make cream-sicle.

Put them in baggies, throw some straw or ribbon on it, and give them to all your smelly friends 🙂 .

Oh, and for all my homies reading this right now:  Guess what prezzie you’re getting!  And for all my friends that don’t like baths:  aw well, maybe you’ll get something next year.

Song of the Day:

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“Cake Bitch” or “The Bachelorette Party sans Man-Bits”

So, if you’ve been a keener on my blog you’ll remember that my friend Katie got hitched recently. So, many of you know, doing the bridesmaid’s shuffle includes more than walking down the aisle with your little bouquet of fleurs. It can be hard friggin’ work. Without even factoring in the tasks of holding the bride’s hair back as she heaves or trying to get her hard earned 50 dollar bills BACK from the undulating, male stripper, there are many steps involved in making sure that the bride’s last hurrah doesn’t turn into a snooze-fest.  The one relief I had came from the only request Katie had for her bachelorette party: Please, no peens.

What I thought of as comfort later became a bit of a pickle (pun always intended).  I realized man-bits are usually the go-to for every bachlorette and without that template, I can tell you now that we had a little bit of a stressful day trying to gather a booze assortment, buy/apply decorations, bedazzle t-shirts, whip up tasty delights, and plan activities. When my fellow bridesmaid and best friend, Ms. Cardigan, dropped her rum in the driveway and ended up crying hysterically while splayed out on the asphalt (I had to convince passer-bys that she wasn’t severely alcoholic), I realized that man-bits really are the easy out for a stagette.  But, staying true to the bride’s wish (and because she has been such an accommodating bride, who really didn’t ask for much) I wanted to do something special for her.  So we trekked on with our penis-less party and after a hung-over morning filled with Cake Boss marathons (you know you’ve been there), I figured a cake would be a a pretty surprise that lacks genitalia of any sort.   So, I’ve decided to share with you some of my amateur fondant creations so you can DIY the guts out of your bachelorette party (and it beats the hell out of paying someone else to do it).

The Cake for Katie:

Fondant is just like Play-Doh for grown-ups, so just think about it as making many shapes and gluing them together (with water, not glue, because if you really are a grown-up you know that eating paste is for the weird kids). So here’s how to do it…

Easy as Pie… er… Cake
Make your cake.  You’re going to spend a fair amount of time on fondant, so I would recommend a mix from a box.  We don’t want to twiddle our lives away on measuring flour and other such foolishness.  I opted for a Betty Crocker French Vanilla.  The size and shape of your cake is up to you.  I wanted to do a triple layer because I wanted an excuse to use my teeny tiny pan.  After I had made the individual cakes and they had set enough that they weren’t doing all that steaming and crumbling business, I cut each one in half and filled it with a generous heaping of Nutella and sliced strawberries.  Then I put it back together and “dirty iced” the bottom layer (thanks for the vocab lesson, Cake Boss!).

The Fondant:
Fondant is a pretty easy thing to work with, but it looks scary.  Buy a big tub of it (got mine at the Bulk Barn) and say over and over to yourself “Do not be scared, this is just a cake.  It’s only a baked good, I’m not performing open heart surgery”.  Use your kitchen table (clean clean clean), with a nice little layer of flour.  Knead in enough colour to make it vibrant, I choose flamingo pink, and roll it out with a floured rolling pin.  When you think it’s big enough, throw it up over your cake.  Mind you, the dirty icing will make it stick so make sure it’s positioned well before you set it down.  Now, a lot of fancy, shmancy cake makers have a steamer that make for seamless fondant edges, however, I refuse to bust the bank for something I’ll only break out for holidays and special occasions, so I made some folds around the top corner using the natural sway of the fondant (kind of like how a tablecloth has natural folds when on a round table).

(BTW, check out my sick MS Paint skills.)

Add a band of  fondant to cover the untidy fondant edges at the bottom of each cake layer.

Pump it Up
Fondant shoes are super cute, iconically girly, and easy to make in a few simple steps.  You’ll need gum paste for these.  I used Wilton’s Ready to Use stuff.

First, mix in your colour.  And flatten ‘er out with a floured rolling pin.

Cut out the shape of a shoe-sole…

And the toe of it.  You can gauge the size of the toe by tracing the tip of the sole and making it just a teensy bit wider.


And assemble using water as glue.  Lean it on a piece of thick-ish paper so it’s got some slope to it and use a ball of plastic wrap to keep the toe rounded.  Make a little stump out of the gum.  Add as a heel.

Pop it in the fridge until it’s hardened (once it’s stiffened a little bit easier to work on- that’s what she said).  Add gum paste ribbons or bows.  “But, Crafty Bitch,” you say, “How will I ever make a bow?!”  Well, my darlings, I will tell you!

Tying the Knot
Bows are super-duper simple and look elegant .  They’re a little delicate so don’t Hulk-smash it onto your cake, but once you make a couple, you quickly get the hang of it.

Cut two “flower-petal” shapes out of flattened fondant (or gum paste, whatevs).

Fold each petal around a pen (wash the pen first, you filthy minxes).

When you’ve got two of these little pieces, stick the points together with a little water.  Cut out a tiny rectangle of fondant to wrap around the centre of the bow, hiding the stuck-together-bit.

Cut out some slightly larger rectangles and attach like an upside down “V” to the main bow part.  Cut tiny triangles out of  the bottom of these rectangles, and, voila, you’re fit to be tied.

Shaken, not stirred
A party for dirty girls isn’t complete without a few dirty martinis.  So I decided to stick some on the cake. For the olives, roll some green fondant into a ball, add a little red dot.  Shove a toothpick through it and place on your cake.  Voila!

For the martini glasses, use black fondant.  Roll it out on a floured surface. Using a knife, cut out some triangles, then cut smaller triangles out from the inside of your big triangle.  Add a stem of flattened fondant and use your small triangle for the base of the glass.  Throw in a tiny green ball for a mini-olive.  You should get something like this:
(BEHOLD the power of MS Paint).

The End
Arrange your tiny fondant pieces around your cake at your preference.  And if you’re wondering how tour party went: we stayed true to our word, there was not a twig-‘n’-berries to be seen.  However, I must admit, I thought pretty hard about serving the cake on these napkins:


Song of the Day: