2-14-15 links
1. Decorate your place with this pretty knotted yarn garland.
2. These heart earrings would look great year-round (not just Valentine’s Day)!
3. I bet this chocolate mint soap smells amazing.
4. Make and tend a mini zen garden to help you de-stress.


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Valentine's Day chocolate peanut butter pretzel hearts recipe

Ready for a super easy Valentine’s Day treat? This is perfect if you’re the last-minute type, because it involves no baking or complicated steps. Save that for the rest of the dinner. Plus, if there’s any pairing that represents everlasting love, it’s peanut butter and chocolate. Those two belong together forever.

Have a sweet Valentine’s Day!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Hearts

What you need:

Mini hard pretzels
Peanut butter (I used the natural kind, specifically Whole Foods’ store brand)
Chocolate chips, chunks, or bar (I used 67% dark chocolate baking chunks)
Wax paper
Colored sprinkles (optional)

Grab a handful of pretzels, a cutting board, and a sharp knife, and trim the little bumps off the sides of the pretzels. This will make them a bit more heart-shaped. Place the pretzels flat on a piece of wax paper on a plate or baking tray that’ll fit in your freezer. With a butter knife or small spoon, fill the holes of each pretzel with a layer of peanut butter and smooth it out. When you’re done, put your pretzels in the freezer for a couple of hours to allow the peanut butter to solidify.

When the peanut butter is solid, put about half a cup of chocolate chunks/chips in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 10-30 second increments. Stir, and check if the chocolate is smooth and melted after each stint in the microwave. When it’s ready, remove the pretzels from the freezer and use a spoon to dunk each one in the chocolate, coating it completely. Place each pretzel back on the wax paper and wait for the chocolate to harden. If your chocolate gets too chunky or cool during the process, put it back in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, and if your peanut butter gets goopy, take a break and put the pretzels back in the freezer for a few minutes.

Before it solidifies, you can sprinkle the chocolate with colored sugar for a decorative touch, if you’d like. If you have chocolate bits around the edge of your hearts that interfere with the shape, you can always clean them up a little by trimming them off with a sharp knife (and eating the scraps, of course).

Valentine's Day chocolate peanut butter pretzel hearts recipe

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DIY bath tray

In my post about making bath bombs, I mentioned that Steven likes relaxing in the bath. Reading with a glass of whiskey (or beer) in the bathtub is a bit tricky when you don’t have a dry place to set your book, though. So I decided to make him a bath tray for Valentine’s Day. I found a piece of reclaimed wood at my local Rebuilding center, and built this tray to fit our bathtub using this tutorial as a starting point. The heart and initials are woodburned, and though they’re not perfect (I had never woodburned anything before), I think they fit the rustic nature of the piece. He’s under strict orders not to look at my blog before Valentine’s Day, so I hope he likes it!

bath tray 2

The whole thing is waterproofed with several coats of clear, outdoor sealer, and I used screws meant to stand up to water, too. I really intended to photograph this on the actual tub, until I discovered that while it fits the tub we use perfectly, it doesn’t fit in the more photogenic tub. And the brown faux stone tiles in that bathroom are much too ugly to make an appearance here. But this tray/caddy really does work as intended.

Pictured on the tray are my heart bath bombs, and beeswax beaker candles.

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DIY Valentine's Day heart bath bombs
Bath bombs are something that I’ve wanted to try making ever since the days when Lush was a big deal. Even though I rarely take baths, I like the idea of a scented, fancy-schmancy fizzy bath. But when I investigated how to make them, I was intimidated by the ingredient list, especially the citric acid. It sounded like something that would be difficult to find. Then I noticed that my local grocery stores (New Seasons, Whole Foods, and even Fred Meyer) have it right in the bulk spices sections. And aside from the essential oils, everything else should be available in any grocery store these days.

So after buying all of the ingredients I needed, I figured I’d just follow one of the many tutorials I’d bookmarked online, and then I’d have bath bombs. Easier said than done when you live in a place that currently has 100% humidity. Water, in the bath or in the air, is the key ingredient to set off the fizzing reaction. Like NotMartha (who lives in damp Seattle), I had trouble keeping my bath bombs from slowly fizzing away while still in their molds. I tried a couple of recipes until I finally stumbled on this one at the top of the page, which I adapted to work for me. The key is that there is no liquid added other than the food coloring and essential oils. If you live in a dry climate you might need to use a different recipe with more water (I tried these: one, two, three), but this recipe was successful for me.

I molded my bath bombs in a heart ice cube tray (from Ikea several years ago, but you can still buy one here), a heart cookie cutter, and a heart candy mold (the same one I used for these peanut butter wasabi ginger filled chocolates). If you want the traditional round shape instead, you can mold your bombs in fillable plastic ornaments (they also had them at Michaels before the holidays).

DIY Valentine's Day heart bath bombs

DIY Valentine's Day heart bath bombs

Bath Bombs

Makes 3-4 small bombs.

1/4 c baking soda
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp citric acid
2 Tbsp Epsom salts, finely ground in a spice grinder
5 tsp coconut oil (DO NOT melt)
4-6 drops essential oil
4-6 drops food coloring

Mix cornstarch, baking soda, citric acic, and Epsom salts with a whisk. Mix in the coconut oil (remember NOT to melt) until mixed together well. I found a fork or my hands worked best for mixing at this step. Add essential oil and food coloring, and mix well.
I didn’t need to add anything else to my mixture, but if the mixture isn’t sticky enough, add a drop of water and quickly mix. Continue adding water dropwise until the mixture will stick to itself when squeezed. Press into molds as firmly as possible. Let dry for a few hours, then remove from mold and let dry throughly in a warm location. This can take a couple of days, depending on dryness or wetness of your area. You can tell by touch.

A note on colors: If you want to mix food colors to make non-primary colors, mix them first before adding to the dry ingredients.

Put the bombs in a pretty jar and give them away with instructions for the receiver to pamper themselves. Or a dumb Valentine’s Day pun like, “You’re da (bath) bomb!” These would make a great Valentine’s Day gift even for someone you’re not romantically involved with. Moms, friends, sisters, or anyone you know who deserves a luxurious bath. Out of the two of us, my husband Steven is much more likely to enjoy a bath (sometimes with a glass of whiskey in hand, to keep it manly), so he’ll no doubt be testing out my supply of bath bombs.

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2-7-15 links
1. Food gifts in jars (including homemade nutella) are perfect for any occasion.
2. Follow this tutorial to make an easy stone and brass necklace.
3. This crocheted Chinese New Year sheep looks a bit sad, but still so cute.
4. Give your Valentine’s Day gifts in gold foil heart boxes.
5. If you’re counting down the days until gardening season, build a pretty chevron trellis to get a jump-start on beautifying your yard.
6. Transform a cigar box into a jewelry box with paint, paper, and leather.

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