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Showing posts from June, 2015

Lunar walk candles

I wanted to use some shiny stones I got from Ikea and the Estéban amber fragrance oil...

I got inspired by the colour of the stones for these 'lunar walk candles'

How to use your own herbs!

Cupcake candles and soy wax whipping

You can make really wonderful candles by whipping soy wax so to make it appear as a soft cream!
You DON'T necessarily NEED an electric whip or a hand whip: I always whip the wax by using a chopstick! The only secret is to wait that soy wax cools down and becomes pretty thick.  I do not use a thermometer either: I just look at the change of colour of the wax over time and I test the thickness with the chopstick (if it stays upright for few seconds that means that you're ready to pour!). 

Pillar candles with chunks !

As I've already written, for stand-alone candles you should ideally use a pretty hard wax like paraffin. 
But paraffin doesn't have a spectacular 'scent throw ', that actually soy wax has!

How to take the best of the two waxes? 
A nice idea is to make pillar candles with coloured and scented soy wax chunks!

1) You first melt the soy wax, add colours and fragrances/oils, then you pour the wax as an about 1 cm layer and wait that it cools down;
2) 15 to 30 minutes later, when the wax has solidified but it's still a bit soft, you will cut with a knife small cubes (the more irregularly shaped, the better);
3) Prepare the mould with the cotton wick;
4) Fill half (or even more) of the mould with chunks, melt paraffin (colour it if you wish) and then pour it in the mould!

That's the final effect you will obtain! 

With love and sun...Must-have herbs/plants in your kitchen II

That's how they became in less than 3 weeks!

Ideas for original wedding favours

Lemon poppy seeds soap

Speaking of skin-friendly M&P bases, for this and all the following projects I have chosen an SLS and SLES-freeStephensons 'Crystal' soap base.
It doesn't containsurfactants or mono propylene glycol, parabens, phenoxyethanol, sulfates, PEG and Propylene glycol.
Made from 100% natural ingredients. Vegetable based. It has a good moisturising power because of glycerine. Products are from The Soap Kitchen.

I have 'personalized' the soap base with a superb lemon fragrance, yellow liquid colour, titanium dioxide for the white layer, and  poppy seeds for a gentle and natural scrub!  The top layer is sprinkled with dried marigold petals.

Melt & Pour Soap-making

Let's start by saying that making soap with the M&P method will allow you to prepare a home-made product that, differently from the commercial soaps, will have a controlled list of ingredients.

M&P soap is actually a blend of true soap ingredients plus glycerin (great for repairing skin) and molecules like sorbitol and propylene glycol (also used in coffee-based drinks, liquid sweeteners, ice cream, etc.) which allow this kind of soap to melt.  M&P soap is made with lye+natural oils like true soap, but this step is done for you, by the soap base producers, beforehand.
This method is suitable for kids  (taken for granted that an adult will be around to avoid the poor kids to get burned!) 
It doesn't need lye (Sodium Hydroxide) handling and it doesn't require CURING time.

The only disadvantage I see, is that you have a limited number of ingredients you can choose because you start from a pre-existing base.
For this reason you have to be very careful about the base you …

Pillar and square candles

This post is dedicated to moulded candles.  You can use either 100% of paraffin (light pink candle) or a mix of paraffin/soy wax (blue candle). I strongly discourage you to use 100% soy wax for this project: pillar candles should be hard enough to stand alone without the help of a container and pure soy wax is a way softer than paraffin.

Hand and foot lotion (for spring/summer time)

I wanted something natural, easily spreadable and not too thick or greasy.

This lotion does not contain preservatives or emulsifiers (usually needed when you mix water and oils)!
It's only made of sterile water, beeswax, sweet almond oil (that penetrates skin in few minutes) and vegetable glycerine. 
I didn't use a stick blender, but I've hand-whipped it.
Being all natural, water-based and without preservatives it would be advisable to keep it in the fridge especially during very hot months and to use it as fast as you can (in few weeks or so).
If you use less than 40% of water, the emulsion shouldn't separate, but in casesome water comes off you can drain it off and normally use the cream.
This lotion is moisturizing and soothing thanks to the sweet almond oil!
Healing and calming for my incredibly dry skin! 

Calendula hand-cream (good for WINTER time)

A cream, differently from lotions, is pretty thick. 
The recipe I've used here is water-free: an important trick that makes the cream last for some months even without preservatives.
I wanted to exploit the calming properties of calendula (marigold) and that's why I've infused the sweet almond oil, included in the recipe, with calendula dried flowers.

Day 1: Prepare calendula infused oil. 
Put 10 grams of dry calendula petals in 250 mL of sweet almond oil and infuse the oil for 30' to 1 hour by using a double boiler or a bain marie. 
Filter the oil by using a kitchen mesh or a gauze.
Day 2: melt the ingredients for the cream in a a double boiler or a bain marie and pour in clean tin containers, sterilized glass jars or whatever clean and sterilzed container you prefer. .
Beeswax 10%
Shea butter 30%
Calendula infused oil 30%
Avocado oil 30%

More floating candles and more ideas

You can definitively put in the water some drops of food/soap liquid colours, twigs, lemon wedges, (non-flammable) objects etc... unleash your creativity!

Usage of ice cubes for candle making!

If you wish to make your candle appear as it has craters, you definitively have to use ice cubes!
While melting your paraffin, you'll prepare the mould, insert and fix the cotton wick and eventually add some coarsely ground ice cubes in the mould (up to 1/3 or half of the mould).
When the wax is completely melted, you can add dyes and essential oils/fragrances and after a good 5 minutes of stirring you can pour the wax into the mould.
Ice cubes will make the wax solidify very quickly and they will leave an empty space around them when they will melt.
It's a very simple technique, but it gives a very peculiar shape to your candles!

Must-have herbs/plants in your kitchen

It's 4 years now that every spring I try to create my apartment-compatible garden! I sow seeds I've collected the previous year or I transplant small plants that I've bought in the supermarket. It requires time (that I don't always have), will and a bit of physical efforts but the reward is incredible.
Sweet basil: I'm Italian and I use sweet basil in many recipes. Especially during summer time you can use it with tomatoes (which I'm growing too), mozzarella, beef carpaccio and in many other ways to prepare quick but tasty plates.

Anise basil: a weird but extremely interesting variant that gets along with grilled swordfish and tuna fish. Noteworthy the combination with strawberries (the plant I have, doesn't set many fruits but the few ones are amazingly sweet), red wine and sugar.
Rosemary and Thyme: Any BBQed meat and (almost) any fish.

Parsley (please grow! please grow!): mainly to prepare sautéed mussels/sea shells, but also for tomato sauce (penne all'a…

Floating candles troubleshooting

More floating candles. Double coloured and scented with a strawberry fragrance. I was very happy about the result up to when I've lit them: they didn't burn longer than 5 minutes... I suspect it was some sort of a problem with the primed wick (I had the same problem with another candle).  Take home message: primed wick can vary from batch to batch, a cotton reel it's a guarantee of success!

Floating candles and Berlingot

Floating candles matching the colours of the famous French-made candies BERLINGOT that a friend chose as wedding favour (see the post 'Floating candles')

Floating candles

The first time I prepared floating candles, it has been for a friend's wedding: she wanted something special for decorating the tables!

As wedding favour, she chose something very peculiar (French hand-made candies) that she wanted to match with the candle colours.

But let's spend few more words on my floating candles...

They are made of 100% paraffin with cotton (lead-free!!!) wicks. I've both used primed and non-primed wicks: buying a (non-primed) cotton reel is definitively less expensive.
The candles for the wedding were fragrance-free, but I've also made some with essential oils or fragrances (btw, scent throw is not bad at all!)
I've been using pre-coloured pellets and kids crayons for the colours and added glitters or other decorations.

WARNING: if you use dry botanicals DO NOT put them too close to the flame and, above all, use as little as you can.

For the floating effectany container works great! In addition you can put some decorations in the container too.

It's a matter of taste...

...and this lady certainly has great taste for many things!

If you're looking for an inspiration about make-up trends, fashion, style and more... visit her blog VERYSSIMA!

The blog is in italian, but topics and pics are self-explanatory!

50 shades of food

Tangerine lip balm (natural ingredients, no preservatives)

I use lip balms all over the year, several times per day and in great amounts. I keep one lip balm in my office drawer, one in my bag, one at home on the night stand... I think you got it: I'm a lip balm maniac! 

Fed up of buying commercial lip balms that are expensive and full of c**p I decided to prepare one by myself.
For the recipe the only suggestion I can give,  is to use beeswax,a solid oil and liquid oil/s..
Then you'll find the recipe you like most empirically: for example you can change the proportions of different ingredients to make the lip balm harder or softer. 
After having reviewed a lot of recipes I decided to invent mine:

Beeswax (33%)- mild antibacterial properties. 
Sweet Almond Oil (20%) - Good for dry, inflamed, or irritated skin. Contains vitamins and minerals. 
Avocado Oil (14%)- Rich in vitamins A, D, & E. Moisturizing and excellent for extremely sensitive skin. 
Shea Butter (33%)- Also known as the African karite butter. Moisturizing.

and some drops of tan…

Bon Bon bath bombs

I've used tangerine essential oil and micas for the colours. I was afraid I have gone too far with the amount of micas: apparently they might turn the bath tub in a mess!
I've eventually used them and I have to admit that it's true that micas leave a halo on the sink edge, but it gets away with a bit of clean tap water!!!They smell incredibly good, the bubbling is adorable and colours are amazing.

Lemon bath bombs

Lemon bath bombs made with Lemon Superb fragrance, food-grade yellow liquid colour, marigold (calendula) dried petals and edible gold flakes.

Strawberry bath bombs

1. Mix Sodium bicarbonate and citric acid (3:1 or 2:1 work well)
2. Add Ultramarine violet powder, dried cornflower petals, strawberry fragrance, cristalline and silver glitters and mix well
3. Keep mixing and spritz some water (but not too much)
4. Spritz and mix until you can mold the mixture by squeezing it in a hand.
4. Put the mixture in the desired mold, press well the two halves of the mold, unmold
5. let the bath bombs dry on a layer of cooking paper

Bath bombs or bath fizzies: an introduction.

I'm sure you all know LUSH bath bombs! Amazingly coloured and fizzy, they make your bath funnier! ...but they are incredibly expensive!
If you actually think about the basic ingredients you need for preparing bath bombs you'll be surprised about how muchoverpriced these branded bath bombs are!!!

You basically need citric acid, baking soda and water. In the presence of water, citric acid and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) react to form sodium citrate, water, and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is the responsible for the bubbling effect.
You can find ingredients for making bath bombs in supermarkets for few quid/bucks or buy them from specialized suppliers (,,

You can then add colours (I've tried liquid colours and micas), essential oils or skin safe fragrances, herbs and dried botanical, glitters, salts etc.
You'll also need:

a mixing bowl (one you'll use O…

Home-made lavender sachets

Giving new life to your lavender sachets: a costless and safe way to perfume your house!

- empty them and collect the floral buds in a container
- add lavender essential oil or any fragrance you may like
- stir for 5 minutes (chinese chopsticks work really nice)
- cover with a plastic film for half an hour/hour (ideally better for longer times)
- re-fill the sachets with the buds and put them in your closet, drawers etc.
You can repeat the process each time your sachets lose their scent!

Home-made sugar scrub

The original recipe comes from the italian blog 'fotoefornelli' (, but I've actually modified it and used the ingredients I had "chez moi"!

15 tbs of brown cane sugar
4 tbs of calendula infused sweet almond oil (previously obtained by following the suggestion of Anne-Marie from Bramble Berry
10 drops of tangerine essential oil (cosmetic grade, skin safe) that I bought from The Soap Kitchen