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Today is the Launch of CF Classes, and I'm a Teacher!

I'm pleased to help announce the launch of the CF Classes platform on the Creative Fabrica website.  Also, I'm thrilled to let you know that I am one of the instructors on the platform!

You blog friends are all a creative bunch, so I can't think of a better group of people to check out this new platform.  Each time I take a look at all the new class offerings, I go down a deep rabbit hole of things I want to learn myself!

But, by now, you all know I have a tendency to squirrel-off in other directions because I am, like you, CREATIVELY CURIOUS.

What is CF Classes? And What is Creative Fabrica?

Ever since I learned about Creative Fabrica, I have thought about it like a giant idea board, complete with resources to actually bring the ideas to life!

Now that CF Classes has been launched, it seems like one giant playground for those of us who can't get enough of learning a new thing (raising my hand here).

CF Classes is a subscription-based learning and inspirational hub, where you can learn directly from passionate crafters via easy-to-follow video classes.  On CF Classes, you can find a wide range of classes covering different topics such as:

Cricut
Paper crafting
Scrapbooking
Painting
Drawing
Hand embroidery
Sewing (I probably need to check this out as this is something I always wished I'd learned!)
Crochet
Doll making
Clays

and "many more" into which my classes will fall!  I have a few soap making and candle making classes already available, and more in the works!

What Classes are You Teaching, Amanda?

So far, I have created several soap making and candle making classes for the CF Classes platform.

I will paste some affiliate links to my currently available classes, along with a few project photos to peak your curiosity! There's a little trailer at the beginning of each project to help you decide what's right for you!

Farmhouse Inspired Melt and Pour Soap (Blueberry AND Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey!)

Watermelon Popsicle Soap

Making a Wooden Wick Soy Candle

Cupcake Soap





Come On Over to CF Classes and Check it Out!!

Making a Tree Picture Soap - For President Lincoln's Cottage Museum Store!

Today's post is a little different, because I'm going to be talking to you about how I made this beautiful tree picture soap!  This soap is a custom order from President Lincoln's Cottage who requested some soap designs for their gift shop/museum store.

I was (no, I still am) honored to be asked and immediately jumped into designing some bars that would work with the theme of their garden and grounds.

Osage Orange Tree - The Inspiration

One of the most iconic living things on their property is the osage orange tree.  You can read more about this tree (if you're a tree person, or generally curious) in this article about the 10 most unusual trees in D.C. https://dcist.com/story/19/06/26/where-to-find-the-most-unusual-trees-in-d-c/

Osage oranges are, in fact, not at all orange, they're green!  The scent of the osage orange is somewhat citrus and somewhat cucumber.  Combining citrus and cucumber results is a very refreshing scent.  I used a similar fragrance profile to scent the soap, and I love it!

Here is how the soap design turned out:


Want Your Own Tree Picture Soap?

These tree picture soaps were designed especially for President Lincoln's Cottage Museum Store and are only available there!  https://www.lincolncottagestore.com/

Picture Soap - The Process

I used cold process soapmaking to make this soap.  If you're unfamiliar with soap making and curious what that means, check out this earlier post where I go into the basics of this process: https://amandatoryactivity.com/the-basics-of-diy-soap/

This is probably the most complex soap design I've ever made.  It involved multiple steps over the span of multiple days, but boy was is fun!

Day 1, I made soap dough and a tree trunk.

Day 2, I made the soap dough into oranges (green ones 🙂 ) using a clay extruder.  I also made leaves.

Day 3, I carved the tree trunk into a tree trunk shape, made the rest of the soap batter (sky, grass, tree foliage, etc.), and poured the design

Day 4, I cut it and experienced joy. 🙂

Making the Tree Picture Soap - A Video

I created the video below to walk you through the process in case you'd like to see how it was made.

Perhaps you've been to President Lincoln's Cottage and you've come home with a bar of osage orange tree soap and you were curious how I made your soap?

Maybe you're a soap-maker, but you've never made a picture soap?

Or, possibly you just like watching people make soap (I'm raising my hand here...I literally watch a soap video, or two, or four, every day. I LOVE IT).

Whatever your reason, this video may entertain you and/or answer some questions about how to make a picture soap!

Need Help Starting Your Soapmaking Journey?

Looking to start making soap and not sure where to start?  You can check out my earlier blog post linked above.  Below are also some super-helpful and creative channels whose content I ADORE.

Royalty Soaps: https://www.youtube.com/user/RoyaltySoaps.  I mentioned in the video that I used the Royalty Soaps base oils recipe for my soap batter.  It's my standard go-to recipe, and then I jazz it up periodically with additives. For this tree picture soap, I replaced some of the water with aloe vera juice.

Soap Queen TV (AKA Brambleberry): https://www.youtube.com/user/soapqueentv  There is a lot to be learned on this channel, and convenient links to supplies.  This is where I started out.  On Bramblerry's website, you can buy pre-mixed oils (quick mixes, they're called) or entire kits to try out the process before you go all-in with 50 gallon drums of coconut oil. 🙂

BOTH of these channels above include basic tutorials on lye safety, which are IMPORTANT TO WATCH AND UNDERSTAND prior to starting your soapmaking adventure.  Please use recommended safety gear!

Some Amazon and Online Links for Shopping Convenience

Experience has taught me that some of you will take issue with the "support of Amazon". Let's not forget that many of the sellers on Amazon are other small businesses who need a platform because their marketing budgets are small.  I myself sell my handmade goods on Amazon since there are already active shoppers on the site who are not shopping on my site, or even know I exist.

SO...please take the below recommendations as they are intended, as a list to help you with convenient shopping options.  Many items can be purchased from grocery stores or other soap making suppliers online.  If you are interested in a run-down of other shopping options for supplies, please let me a message.  I would be happy to dedicate a full post to the other places I shop for bulk products.

The Amazon links below are all affiliate links and help with the support of this blog and my YouTube channel.  Please know if you make a purchase through any of the links below, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thanks in advance for your support!

Base soaping oils:
Olive Oil - https://amzn.to/3gdvZLs
Coconut Oil - https://amzn.to/3zlHWpR
RSPO Palm Oil - https://amzn.to/358WmMi
Castor Oil - https://amzn.to/2SpKbIe
Sweet Almond Oil - https://amzn.to/3xaXR8G

Stick blender - my choice for new soapmakers is this inexpensive option, it's what I started with: https://amzn.to/2ShJ9Oz
I have since upgraded to a cordless KitchenAid, which I LOVE, but it's much more expensive: https://amzn.to/3gbZ1Lt

Make sure you use bowls dedicated to soap making, DO NOT mix and match these items with kitchen supplies.  My white bowls came from Dollar Tree, but my other large mixing containers are these: https://amzn.to/3cupXUs  You can also find smaller quantities of these at a hardware store.

Clay extruder used for soap dough: https://amzn.to/3cAzgCt

Mica's and colorants can be found easily at brambleberry.com and wholesalesuppliesplus.com (free shipping over $25)

I hope you enjoyed the video, and I'll see you next time!

Love,
Amanda

Beautiful Bath Bombs for Earth Day

Today's Mandatory Activity is creating these gorgeous Earth bath bombs. I’ve linked the video below, so you can check out the step-by-step tutorial.  All the ingredients and measurements are listed below the video as well as at the bottom of this post.

For what it’s Earth.../An idiot-proof recipe...

This isn’t my own recipe, but it is an easy recipe that is suitable for beginners and almost always works. I’ve struggled for a long time with making bath bombs so this is pretty much a fool-proof method! I love that you can use a hand mold too, they cost around $20, and are super simple to use.

In my experience, different recipes behave differently depending on your mold shape, and even material.  If you've seen my tutorial on the game controller bath bomb, you will know that I prefer a different recipe for that type of flat hand-press mold.

But since the Earth is round, my favorite recipe for round bombs is this one!

The Bath Bomb Recipe

This one of Holly’s recipes from Missouri River Soap, which she has already published on her channel. I thought I would share it with you all anyway because I’ve had very few problems with the recipe, and normally bath bombs are something I struggle to get right. The texture of the bombs is really nice with this recipe, there are rarely any issues with them being too moist or not sticking together and you don’t need a ton of ingredients.  So, it’s a great way to get started with bath bomb making!

Here is Holly’s recipe: 

• 1000g Baking Soda 

• 500g Citric Acid 

• 1 Tbsp Distilled Water 

 • 1 Tbsp Rubbing Alcohol 

• 25g Buttermilk Powder (I have also used this recipe with coconut milk powder and goat milk powder, which both work fine) 

• 50g SLSA (sodium lauryl sulfoacetate). The SLSA is optional, but if you omit it, just add 50g more baking soda. I would also recommend wearing a mask if you use it. 

• 10g lightweight carrier oil such as apricot seed oil, fractionated coconut oil, meadowfoam seed oil, rice bran oil. Some of these you will see in the grocery store, and in a pinch you can sunflower seed oil too. 

• 8g Polysorbate 80 

• 24g fragrance oil (check your manufacturer for skin safe levels, or eocalc.com if you choose an essential oil instead) 

• Colorant to desired shade (I have linked some that I like to use below)

The Method

I like to mix my wet and dry ingredients separately, apart from the distilled water and rubbing alcohol which I put into my dry ingredients. When everything is combined, if you grab a handful of the mixture and compact it, it should stay together. Then drop it back into the bowl, and if it still looks good, you're on the right track!

I loved putting together the Earth shape, I used green and blue mica powder, leaving some white for clouds and just packed them all loosely into my hand mold. I mentioned in the video that bath bomb colorants can be tricky, especially for blues and greens. This blog post from Nurture Soap does an excellent job explaining which colorants can be used and why: https://nurturesoap.com/blogs/nurture... so that’s a great blog to check out for more information on that.

My favorite part of this recipe has to be the surprise lava! Using red embed powder, I packed the centre of the bath bombs to create a gorgeous, surprise center.  You can, of course, skip this step and you will still have beautiful Earth shaped bath bombs.
I hope you enjoy trying these out for yourself!

Supply List and Vendors

The list below includes affiliate links.  If you make a purchase using one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

Hand bath bomb press mold: https://cadamolds.com/products/bath-bomb-mold I used the 2.5 inch size

Giant stainless steel bowls from Kohls: https://rstyle.me/+il05ha_pd2A0JKl0ZYCckA 

OR from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3gnO5uF 

Plastic measuring beaker from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3tArxKT 

Digital kitchen scale from Walmart: https://rstyle.me/+Ott-tWB7423pFMpqUkWzNw 

OR from Amazon (much less expensive, and the one I have): https://amzn.to/3n6gZAP 

Plastic bath bomb molds to dry bombs, from Wholesale Supplies Plus (2.75 inch diameter) https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/bath-bomb-ball-mold-2.75-diameter-2-pc-set.aspx 

Baking soda: from the grocery store or wholesale club 

OR from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mDI3r7 

Citric Acid: from Wholesale Supplies Plus https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/citric-acid-powder.aspx 

OR from Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xbrtnl 

Buttermilk Powder: I got mine from Amazon https://amzn.to/3a2BkSi 

I have also had success getting it from makeyourown.buzz here: https://www.makeyourown.buzz/buttermilk-powder/ 

SLSA (sodium lauryl sulfoacetate -a gentle surfactant derived from coconuts) from makeyourown.buzz here: https://www.makeyourown.buzz/sodium-lauryl-sulfoacetate-slsa-powder/ 

OR from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2RN2C98 

Rice bran oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus (see above for alternative oils you can source from the grocery store): https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/rice-bran-oil.aspx 

Polysorbate 80 from makeyourown.buzz here: https://www.makeyourown.buzz/polysorbate-80/

OR from Amazon: https://amzn.to/2QkhZ8q 

Fragrance I chose was Lemongrass and Nashi Pear Natural fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/search.aspx?q=lemongrass+and+nashi+pear

A Cakesicle Tutorial (?)

About halfway through this project, I struggled with whether I could call this a cakesicle tutorial.  But since I successfully made some cakesicles, despite the struggle, I decided I would, because ultimately, I have some helpful tips to share. 

In fact, I made so many mistakes, I have A LOT of helpful tips to share! 

So, let's go through some basics on how to make cakesicles, and talk about some things I will do differently next time.

Amanda, What's A Cakesicle?

If you've ever had a cake pop, you already know what a cakesicle is.  A cakesicle is basically a much larger cake pop, but instead of a lollipop, it's (wait for it) a popsicle.

They are really clever little desserts and end up being wonderful party treats, or favors for your guests to take home.  Cakesicles, in fact, could be easily customized to any occasion!

The cakesicles I made for my tutorial are Spring cakesicles, but I'm sure you can see how easily the color palette could be adjusted for a party theme, gender reveal, whatever you need!

Cakesicle group shot

The outside of the cakesicle is some kind of chocolate or candy melt (candy melts in our case).  And the inside of the cakesicle is a delicious combo of crushed up cake or cookies (I made both) and frosting.  They get combined into a kind of thick paste of deliciousness, and stuffed into the center of your chocolate coated mold! 

The Steps

Here's where things get complicated.  The steps for making a cakesicle sound easy. 

Melt your chocolate - I used both Wilton candy melts, and the new Easy Candy from Fancy Sprinkles, so I could compare the two products and decide whether Easy Candy was "easy" enough.

Get it in the mold - I used 2 types of molds, a big and a small, each of which presented it's own struggle

Fill the mold with delicious stuff - Or in my case, overfill the mold with delicious stuff :/

Seal it up with chocolate - Easier said than done when you've overfilled your molds!

Unmold, and decorate! - Okay, this part was actually legitimately easy 🙂

Simple, right?

There's little way for me to explain in text in exactly how many ways I struggled through these steps... 

Luckily, there is a video to help.  In this video tutorial, I will show you where I made mistakes, and how I fixed them.

Here's where things get complicated.  The steps for making a cakesicle sound easy. 

Melt your chocolate - I used both Wilton candy melts, and the new Easy Candy from Fancy Sprinkles, so I could compare the two products and decide whether Easy Candy was "easy" enough.

Get it in the mold - I used 2 types of molds, a big and a small, each of which presented it's own struggle

Fill the mold with delicious stuff - Or in my case, overfill the mold with delicious stuff :/

Seal it up with chocolate - Easier said than done when you've overfilled your molds!

Unmold, and decorate! - Okay, this part was actually legitimately easy 🙂

Simple, right?

There's little way for me to explain in text in exactly how many ways I struggled through these steps... 

Luckily, there is a video to help.  In this video tutorial, I will show you where I made mistakes, and how I fixed them.

https://youtu.be/2CLsHdY-Ed8

Supplies Used

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

Prism Powder by Fancy Sprinkles https://www.fancysprinkles.com/collections/prism-powder

Easy Candy by Fancy Sprinkles https://www.fancysprinkles.com/collections/easy-melting-candies 

Wilton Candy Melts single pack: From Michaels: https://rstyle.me/+VHVv7-b0ddJq1XUPDSdwkg 

OR From Amazon: https://amzn.to/3uuWK2v  If going the Amazon route, the multi-pack is more cost effective.  Split a bunch with friends! https://amzn.to/3cN4I0S 

Wish I had used this Wilton chocolate melter WHICH IS IN MY CABINET!!  Why didn't I make life easy?? https://rstyle.me/+kQ7Eh3nZc6GyglgmFD9Cvw 

Pearlescent popsicle sticks: https://amzn.to/3fBncTR 

Gem cut silicone popsicle mold: https://amzn.to/2R2vjP1 

Small silicone popsicle mold: https://rstyle.me/+vfZ7ISLRDfpJ-n39yFBcMw 

OR From Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ulcvZK 

Sprinkle options that I like: Fancy Sprinkles: https://www.fancysprinkles.com/collections/original-sprinkle-blends 

Just want to try a little bit?  Here's a tiny bag of Spring blend! https://rstyle.me/+50VCnmrpkKP5zX28DxA1LQ 

Going all in?  Here are large sprinkle assortments from Michaels:

Spring Party Mix: https://rstyle.me/+zFKJxQzbHKRPVbpchogsYg

Rainbow Sherbet Mix: https://rstyle.me/+VFAJWYvQjtEwHzyhudlnhg

Sunshine and Fun Mix: https://rstyle.me/+JetbUVOpzpP1EmC1NEeHyw

 

Would I Make Them Again?

Yup!  I spent this entire project thinking it was a disaster and wishing that I hadn't turned on the camera to waste everyone's time.

BUT, this is actually kind of a forgiving process.  The video will detail all of the things that I did wrong, but in the end, even with those errors, I ended up with cute cakesicles! 


Finished cakesicles

And now that I've learned all of the ways to do it better, the next batch it sure to be easier AND even more attractive. 🙂

I hope you enjoy!

❤, Amanda

Hitting 1000 You Tube Subscribers. What Does That Mean?

Well, first and foremost, it means I worked my hiney off for a goal I wasn't sure I would ever attain. 1000 YouTube subscribers, in conjunction with 4,000 watch hours (which I'm still shy of) would qualify me for monetization of my YouTube channel.

What's monetization all about?  Basically, my channel would become eligible to apply to receive a YouTube partner program status and would allow YouTube to run ads on my videos and start to generate ad revenue.  

Why is that important? Because keeping the website running isn't free, nor is the YouTube channel or any of the equipment.  It's been an investment with no return *yet* and the prospect of at least getting the channel to support the channel and the blog expenses is powerful.

It's a lot of work.  It's a lot of money.  It's a lot of time away from other things.

It's worth it.

See the little 1k subscribers note under my channel name?  It makes my heart do flip flops. 🙂

How Long Did It Take to Hit 1,000 YouTube Subscribers?

For my channel, about a year and a half.  

Let me tell you, that's a long time to be feeling like you are talking to yourself. 🙂   When I decided to start this blog and the accompanying channel, I took a giant leap into a realm that I knew absolutely nothing about.  I still learn all of the things I'm doing wrong with tags and keywords and analytics and various technology issues (okay, lots, not various.  Copious.  Let's go with copious 🙂 )   It's a whole new world out there, or in here.

I attempted to load a video each week while still working a full time job AND running a small, handmade, candle and soap business.  It was a lofty goal.

I failed that goal more than a few times. 

There were some weeks when work was too busy, and some weekends when my candle and soap business was too busy.  In those instances, I needed to give myself some grace to just miss a week.

Some Things I've Learned

Consistency is Everything

One of the things that I've learned over this part of my journey is that consistency is everything.  YouTube really likes it when all of your content is uploaded on a regular and dependable schedule.  And, YouTube really likes it when your content relates to other items on your channel.

I have obviously missed a few marks getting my "schedule" consistent.  I have also missed a few marks getting my content consistent.  I share the things that I enjoy doing and that is seemingly random at times.

Now that I have a little audience, I share the things that you/them want to know.  When I post a video that gets 10 views...that's a strong sign I've totally missed my mark. 😉  I am paying attention.

Ego Needs to Go

The one thing I haven't yet done is shoot a video without my makeup.  I cling to that one pretty hard (mostly because I feel like I look about 20 years older without some color in my cheeks!)

But the rest of the ego really needs to go.  I think I learned this primarily from other people's channels.  When you watch someone make mistakes, it makes them more human and relatable.  Nobody wants to have a relationship with a robot.

I made a rule for myself that nothing gets filmed more than twice.  In the beginning, I did take after take after take and ain't nobody got time for that!  If it doesn't happen the first time, I'll try again.  If it doesn't happen the second time, then you're gonna get me bloopering my way through it.

Using this rule makes it a little tiny bit easier for me to get content out.  If I'm not worrying about making it perfect, I won't take forever editing and filming.

Staying Positive is Hard

I struggle with this on the daily.  It's easy to get discouraged, especially when you are active on your platform on other channels.  You see "competitors" growing quickly and uploaded a ton and crushing it completely.  And in those instanced, it's hard to see your trajectory as anything except a failure.

Typically, I just go to bed (because these things are being done very late at night when I'm already feeling defeated from my day!).  Editing can happen another day when my outlook is more sunny.  I certainly don't want to turn on the camera and record a video when all I feel is dejected and like I'm never going to catch up.

But the next day, after some sleep, I feel better.  I close my eyes and make a promise to myself not to give up.  I want to see what happens next.  Maybe I'm just naturally curious and too curious to give up?  Regardless, hitting any milestone is important in your journey (I celebrated 100 subscribers too...triple digits, man!).  Hitting 1000 subscribers in YouTube is one of the largest milestones for a new YouTuber.

SO IT'S TIME TO CELEBRATE!! 

Let the Thanks Begin!

I uploaded a video on YouTube moments ago to announce a giveaway to celebrate hitting 1000 YouTube subscribers.  I'm going to share it here in case anyone is reading this is real time and want to enter the giveaway for a $35 gift card to my shop (shop.amandatoryactivity.com)!  There are 4 ways to enter: 

  1. Comment on the YouTube video posted below
  2. Comment on the Instagram post re: the 1000 sub giveaway
  3. Tag a friend on the Instagram post
  4. Comment on the Facebook post about the 1000 sub giveaway

You don't need to do all of those things...but if you do, you get 4 entries in the randomizer.  The giveaway closes on Monday, March 15, 2021 and 5pm EST.

If you enter, good luck!  If you haven't subscribed to my YouTube channel, consider subscribing.  I make a fool on myself on a somewhat regular basis, so that can be entertaining. 🙂

https://youtu.be/yDRrw8_b0F8

❤, Amanda

What Is Digital Paper?

This is a fun project and a fun post to write, because digital paper opens up all kinds of crafting possibilities without the need to purchase and store tons of paper packs!

Digital paper is pretty cool, and sounds really confusing.  I remember when I first heard the term, I thought "but I need REAL paper to make a card".  I thought I was going to end up making some kind of virtual card, or e-card to email to someone.  I didn't know how cool digital paper actually was!

Digital paper is a paper design captured in a digital file.  When you open a file, it looks like this:

Digital paper file example

Obviously, this file is one of flower carts.  But just imagine this file was your regular 12x12 piece of cardstock.  How would you use it?

Using Digital Paper

In the video tutorial linked below, I'm going to show you one of the easiest ways to use digital paper.

Personally, I think digital paper is a lifesaver, and I know I should use it more than I do.  

There's a strange anomaly in my craft room whereby I have a bazillion (technical term) of paper packs for various holidays and in various colors and textures, etc.  For some reason, I DON'T HAVE VALENTINE PACKS.

It's not like I don't like Valentine's Day, or like I don't make Valentine's...but this is now the second Valentine's Day in a row where I didn't prepare and get some Valentine's Day-specific papers in order to make some cards. 

Digital paper to the rescue! 

#1 Print It OUt and Use as Printed Cardstock

This is probably the most common way to use digital paper.  You literally download the file and print it on your home printer onto a piece of paper or cardstock or whatever you are using for your project.

So you are basically just using your printer to create a patterned paper as if you had purchased a paper pack (except this one is likely 8.5 x 11 if you are using your home printer). 

If you choose this option, you would just complete your project as you would any normal Cricut project.  When the time comes to load this pattern of paper, put the printed digital paper on the mat and you're in business! 

#2 Save the Digital File and Import the Pattern Where You Need It

This is the process I'm going to take you through in my tutorial.  I download the digital paper, upload it into Cricut Design Space, and use it to make a cute patterned card base.

Here's what I mean by that.  This is the simple Valentine card design I chose from Cricut Design Space:

Cricut Design Space Valentine screenshot

I would like the red part to be a cool Valentine-y pattern, but I don't have any paper that fits the bill.

Using digital paper, I upload the file into Design Space, and apply it to the card!

Digital paper pattern applied to Cricut Design Space File

See? Now my paper pattern is IN my Cricut file.  When I go to put this card on the mat, it'll be there ready to print and use for my card base. 🙂

# To Add Embellishments

Perhaps you are saying to yourself, "self, I don't think I'd enjoy digital paper, because I really like getting my paper packs and having all of those cute pages of stickers or embellishments in my paper pack".

WELLLL...that option is also covered for you in the world of digital paper.

In the case of my Valentine card project, I kept my envelope paper plain, but I downloaded a bunch of digital embellishments to decorate it.

Digital paper embellishments

The truck, farm fresh sign and wood heart did not appear in Design Space...they are digital paper elements that I downloaded with my digital paper pack and added into my design during the tutorial!

Where Do You Get Digital Paper?

Now that you are thinking to yourself "self, maybe I should give this a shot", you might next wonder how to go about finding some of this magical paper.

Truth is, you can Google digital paper and end up with a sea of absolutely lovely options.  Even if you went to Etsy and just searched for digital paper you would find a TON of designers who design awesome original stuff to sell.  That is a GREAT resource and obviously an awesome way to support a small business. 

BUT, there is a site that I frequent for digital paper, and I want to share it with you.

This is not in any way sponsored, but I realized as I was filming my tutorial that it sounded that way.  I'm just a big fan and their site is easy to use, so I wanted to share it with you. 

Additionally, I'm a giant fan of some of the major paper designers like Echo Park, Carta Bella, and Bo Bunny. All of them can be found in this one spot! 

I love the coordinated paper packs.
I'm a sucker for the embellishments.
I have TOO MUCH of it in my life, and yet I can't seem to dispose of the patterns I don't ever use.  

Is this you? 

The site I love for digital paper is called Snap Click Supply. You can snap, click your way to physical paper packs by all of the awesome designers; OR you can snap, click your way into a digital version for much less cost.

Snap Click Supply screenshot

Here is a screenshot for one of the digital paper packs that I purchased. Looks just the ones that come IRL. 🙂  This one is $3.99 but there is a 50% off sale for Valentine's Day, so it was 2 bucks!

The Digital Paper Video Tutorial

Fully interested in trying it out?  Enough chit-chat from me then, I'll give you the video link below so you can watch!

In the video, we will do the following:

  1. Pick some digital paper
  2. Pick some digital embellishments
  3. Purchase and download them
  4. Upload them to Cricut Design Space
  5. Apply them to the Valentine card design
  6. Cut out the card design and digital paper pieces
  7. Assemble the valentine

https://youtu.be/EzrPgu8sIK8

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

 

Heavyweight pearl cardstock for white card elements: https://amzn.to/2A5slkC I use this cardstock a lot, and particularly like it for placecards and card bases.   

Cricut Explore Air:  https://shrsl.com/2c9ek 

Cricut Access: https://shrsl.com/27tq8 

Cricut cardstock:  http://shrsl.com/2sewf

Rainbow rhinestone sticker sheet: https://amzn.to/2Z6AUof

Bo Bunny sparkly bits: https://shrsl.com/2sf1j

Additional resources can be found on my resources page here: A Mandatory Activity Papercraft Resources Page

Love,
Amanda

Making a Beautiful Rose Soap for Valentine's Day

Today's Mandatory Activity involves creating a rose soap for my shop for part of my Valentine's Day offerings.  I decided to set up the camera so I could record the process and show you guys exactly how I made it. 

In the linked video tutorial below, I go over ingredients, step-by-step process, and the final cut of this cold processed rose soap project. I call this soap Rose to the Occasion. 😉

I hope you enjoy it!

Roses Are Not My Favorite...

I know I'm not alone when I say that roses are not my favorite fragrance.  As a flower, I think they are beautiful, and they smell amazing IRL.  But as a scent that gets recreated in a lab, I think most people get it wrong. 

I struggled a little with exactly how to design a rose soap that was feminine and pretty, but that didn't smell my Grandma's underwear drawer.  

Anyone else? 

Potpourri sachets EVERYWHERE... perhaps that's why I now have issues.  Grandma is no longer with us to defend herself, so best to just leave it alone. 🙂

The hero that came to solve this problem for me was the Rose Petal Gelato fragrance oil from Candlescience.  It smells amazing...sugared rose petals, cream, jasmine.  It's such a nice, pleasant, warm, musky and creamy blend.  

I smell the roses, but in a way that I want to smell the roses. It's delightful.

rose petal gelato fragrance from Candlescience

The Rose Soap Recipe

I can't take credit for the combination of oils used to make this rose soap, but I do feel comfortable sharing it's origin, since it's creator does it on each of her videos. 🙂 

This base soap recipe is the one used by Katie Carson of Royalty Soaps.  She is this adorable creature who makes beautiful, creative and inspiring soaps on YouTube.  Despite being in her mid-twenties, she's somehow managed to be an OG soap-maker and YouTuber, so go Katie! 🙂

She generously shares all of her techniques and recipes with the soapmakers and wannabe soapmakers, and I have personally learned a lot about soap making from her.

Here is her recipe: 

? ??? ??????? ??????? ????? ?????? ? Olive Oil – 40% Coconut Oil – 30% Palm Oil (Organic, RSPO-Certified, and ) – 20% Sweet Almond Oil – 5% Castor Oil – 5% Superfat – 5% Lye Concentration (ie. Lye Solution Strength) – 35%

This is one of 2 base soap oil recipes I keep on-hand, master-batched in a 35 gallon drum at all times.  I often adjust it here and there (add in something like jojoba oil or avocado oil, etc.), but this is a beautiful base oils recipe and it makes solid, bubbly lather.

Ingredients, Process, and Video

If you read my post on the DIY Basics of soap making, you'll have a general idea for what cold processed soap making involves, and how creative it allows you to be.

You will also notice that I've added aloe vera juice into my lye water solution.  Aloe vera juice in your soap?? Yes! 

I learned this trick from Ellen at Ellen Ruth soap, also here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCu2X30DaxV69q9wjKTM6Omw

Ever since I tried it, I make the bulk of my cold processed soaps with aloe vera juice, or a mix of aloe vera juice and water. Such a nice additive!
 

I've made a video for you to show you the process for this Valentine's Day rose soap, which I will paste below.  

Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijWGkzH6Q5g

Supplies and References

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

 Used and referenced in this soap (in order of appearance):Small stainless steel pitchers: https://amzn.to/3ajtq6zReflection mica from TKB Trading: https://tkbtrading.com/products/reflectionGreen chrome oxide from Brambleberry: https://www.brambleberry.com/shop-by-product/ingredients/colorants/pigments/green-chrome-oxide-pigment/V000593.htmlApricot kernel oil: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/apricot-kernel-oil.aspx5 Liter pitcher: https://amzn.to/3rel5IdAloe vera juice: https://amzn.to/3relgTTLye: (make sure you use 100% lye! no additives of any kind). I buy mine in bulk now, but started with this brand from Amazon: https://amzn.to/36s8IQPKaolin clay: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/white-kaolin-clay.aspxCoconut milk powder: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/coconut-milk-powder.aspxRose Petal Gelato fragrance: https://www.candlescience.com/fragrance/rose-petal-gelato-fragrance-oilStick blender: https://amzn.to/3r8zZzzTitanium Dioxide (white) pigment: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/titanium-dioxide-pigment-powder-for-water.aspxPink Watermelon Mica: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/pink-watermelon-infusion-sparkle-mica-powder.aspxTall skinny triple-wide soap mold: https://www.workshopheritage.com/products/tall-skinny-triple-width-10-pound-mold-with-sllicone-linerReusable piping bags: https://amzn.to/3crwpMFOpen star piping tip: https://amzn.to/3cmtp4m24 Karate gold mica: https://tkbtrading.com/products/24-karat-goldFizz Fairy eco-glitter: https://fizzfairy.ca/collections/bio-glitter/products/gold-holographic-earth-friendly-glitterMicro scoop: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/scoop-0.15-ml-micro-size.aspxLeaf piping tip: https://amzn.to/3raO8MODisposable piping bags: https://amzn.to/3pNmp48

Love,
Amanda

Game Controller Bath Bomb - for the Gamer Control Freak

Today we are going to be making this game controller bubble bath bomb! 

Making bath bombs kind of sucks.  It's one of those things that looks like it should be easy, but really is so nuanced that you fail 50% of the time.  HOWEVER, thanks to Karen at Eden's Secret, a bath bomb recipe was shared on her YouTube channel that seems to have turned me around the bath-bomb-making corner!

Her recipe is easy, doesn't use a ton of expensive ingredients, and dried rock solid.  It was so easy to use, I was able to make this controller bath bomb and pick up all the little detail from this mold! 

The Devil Is In the Details?

Ordinarily, my struggle with even round bath bombs would make me shy away from a game controller mold. 

The mold is complicated, and full of tiny little details.  But the magical combination of this mold and this recipe make it all possible.

I've created a tutorial video for you (link is below) to help get you from measuring and mixing your ingredients: 

Mixing ingredients

To molding and unmolding the game controller bubble bath bombs with success!

Unmolded game controller bath bombs

The final touch of some mica paint, and they are ready for the tub!

Mica painted game controller bubble bath bomb

Surprise Colors Inside!

Yes.  I was feeling so confident about this new recipe (thanks again, Karen!!) that I also decided to sneak some FD&C skin safe colors into the center of the game controller bath bomb.

So, when it melts into the center, the color will become evident!

Surprise color inside game controller bath bomb

And, since it's not just a bath bomb, but a BUBBLE bath bomb, you get a ton of big, fluffy bubbles without even needing to put it under running water!

The fizz from the baking soda and citric acid set off the bubbles really well.  In fact, my first attempt to test this bath bomb was in a giant bowl and the bubbles were not contained within the bowl.  So...lots of bubbles. 🙂 

The Basic Recipe

The recipe from Eden's Secret is as follows (and published on her videos publicly, so I feel ok posting it here): 

1200g (7.05oz) Sodium Bicarbonate 

18 g SLSA 

12g (0.4oz) Fragrance Oil (I used grape soda from Wholesale Supplies Plus - Crafter's Choice) 

12g (.4oz)Carrier Oil (I use fractionated coconut) 

19g (0.67oz) Witch Hazel 

575g (20.28oz) Citric Acid

The Specifics of the Game Controller Bath Bomb Recipe

I used the above base recipe, but also wanted to provide you with a link to the game controller bath bomb mold, PLUS a list of places where you can find the ingredients.

Some links below are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you). 

I've tried to provide a few options for materials so if you are just a hobbyist and want to give this a try, you don't have to buy a ton of ingredients. You can also do the math and downsize the recipe to a smaller batch size. I get about 13 controllers out of this batch size. 

If you are already a soaper, you probably already have everything except the mold, which I will link here: https://fizzfairy.ca/products/game-co... 

Basic ingredients - 

✔Baking soda (you can source this from your grocery store easily!) or you can purchase from Wholesale Supplies Plus (especially if you want to try the grape soda fragrance I used and are already placing an order. They have free shipping over $25, and their prices aren't bad). https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com... there's also amazon if you prefer it: https://amzn.to/383q7An 

✔Citric Acid-https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com... or Amazon if you prefer: https://amzn.to/2KUu4yt 

✔SLSA (sodium lauryl sulfoacetate) https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com... or Amazon: https://amzn.to/34WMqpC 

✔Fragrance oil used: Grape Soda from Wholesale Supplies Plus https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/grape-soda-fragrance-oil.aspx

✔Carrier Oil - I use fractionated coconut oil, but you can also source this from the grocery store by using something like apricot kernel oil or sweet almond oil. https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/mid-chain-triglycerides.aspx or Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pFjQkg 

✔Witch Hazel - You can also likely get this at your grocery store or drug store. https://amzn.to/38WvIb8 Other Ingredients I used: Vegetable glycerin: https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/products/glycerin-natural.aspx

Mica powders for paint (here is the bath bomb safe list from Wholesale Supplies Plus): https://www.wholesalesuppliesplus.com/store-search.aspx?FBA=400&CatalogID=28&FBD=184&FBD=196&FBD=118&FBD=8&FBD=166 or Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pAJI0P 

Surprise Inside dyes: https://nurturesoap.com/collections/all-bath-bomb-colors/products/bath-bomb-dyes-sample-set

Video Tutorial - Game Controller Bubble Bath Bomb

I hope you find this helpful and fun.  Enjoy!

Control Freak Game Controller Bubble Bath Bomb for Purchase

I'm always hesitant to put product purchase links on my tutorial pages, but you guys seem to appreciate it!  If you'd like your own Control Freak bubble bath bomb and don't want to DIY one, or don't have time right now (or just want to try one before you decide to try a whole batch), you can find them in my shop here: https://shop.amandatoryactivity.com/product/control-freak-bath-bomb/

Control Freak Bubble Bath Bomb

Love,
Amanda

From Snack Box to Gift Box!

Do you need to cover up an ugly box so you can make it a beautiful gift box?  I know you know what I'm talking about, right?  You got a lovely tower of treats from someone for the holidays and the little boxes are SO cute, and super-sturdy, and you think to yourself "I wish I could reuse these boxes without everyone knowing they used to be full of chocolate drizzled popcorn". 🙂 

I KNOW YOU KNOW.

I Need Gift Boxes, STAT.

The holidays are coming, and I need gift boxes.  

Each year, I painstakingly fold up the boxes from Christmas morning and sometimes I even tape the tops and bottoms together so I don't have to play a matching game the next year...but most of the time, I'm just wondering where the heck all of the boxes are! 

I think I constantly underestimate how many boxes go bye-bye as gifts to other people each year...so while I think I buy boxes All. The. Time., I really never have boxes.

I have learned to be creative at times with gifting things like money (see the post about dollar bill origami...or $20/$50/$100 bill origami, depending on your budget!), and I've made my own boxes just for the sake of cuteness (see the post about making your own gift box).  But in this case, we can save a TON of steps, which is super-helpful this time of year when time is at a premium for everyone.

Also, reduce, reuse, recycle, right?  An ugly-duckling of a snack tower box can be the most lovely embellished gift box.

I Save the Snack Tower Boxes...and Then What?

I enjoy getting a tower of treats for the holidays, I truly do.  If you are reading this and thinking I no longer want my containers of bon-bons, popcorn, cashew nuts, and chocolate raisins, you are wrong. 

Just to be clear.

It's not the treats that I object to, it's the styling of the boxes.  They scream "gift tower", or "I ate all of this chocolate"...but they're so sturdy and seem so useful, I just get sucked into keeping them.  I know i'll use them for something.  Right?

Or worse...what if you reuse the box and have to withstand the horror of giving it to someone who thinks its tasty treats and ends up with socks.

(also, please don't read this blog post and think I also don't want socks for Christmas) 🙂 I love me some socks.

My point is, I want to reuse those boxes, but I don't want anyone to KNOW that I've done it.  Or if they figure it out, I at least want them to realize that I put some effort into disguising the box.

Snack tower box
Underside of snack tower box

Get Some Wrapping Paper and Double-Sided Tape

Some wrapping paper, some double-sided tape, and a pair of scissors.  That's all you will need.

If you pick wrapping paper that is kind of on the thick side, you might struggle to wrap the top AND the bottom and still be able to get the box pieces together.   If you need to wrap the top and bottom, you may want to use a thinner paper.

In my case, I was fine with the contrasting red box bottom, and I just wanted a fun new patterned lid!

Snack box lid to be covered

Cut Wrapping Paper Slightly Larger than Your Box

I didn't measure it, I just eyeballed it.  You want the paper to be long enough that the sides will wrap down the side of the box lid, but not too long.  I was aiming for about a half an inch on the inside, just a little lower than where the green and gold pattern is on the ugly box.

Grab Your Double-Sided Tape

Use the double-sided tape to create a sticky frame around the top of your lid.  Be sure to also put a piece in the middle to keep it tacked down.  If your box is small, you may not need that middle piece.  But it's helpful for an large ugly box. 🙂

Applying double sided tape to box lid
Add tape to center of lid

Center Box Lid on Wrapping Paper

You want to eyeball it again, but be careful when you put down your box lid on your wrapping paper. 

You get ONE SHOT at this.  Your lid is super-sticky, so you will not likely be able to peel it off and reposition it.

Center sticky box lid onto wrapping paper

Cut Corners, Literally

It's okay to cut corners sometimes. 🙂  In this case, cut each corner from the end of the paper to the corner of the box lid.

Like this...

Cut wrapping paper corners

Add Sticky Tape to the Paper Border and Fold!

You want to just make a nice border of sticky tape along each of the 4 sides.  I like to work with 1 or 2 sides at a time and work my way around.

Apply double sided tape to borders of paper

Folding in the sides is where the magic happens.  Start by folding in the center of the paper, and then fold the corners over the edge on each side.

There's a video link below if you need to watch instead.  It's easier for me to follow that way, so I made you a video. 🙂

Fold over edges

Pull gently up to bring the triangle toward the inside of the box.

Fold corner in

Fold the remainder piece down into the inside of the box lid.

Fully folded in flap

It looks so clean and crisp, like it's never had a former life hauling dried apricots!

Ugly Box Covering Video Tutorial

Here's a short 10 min video walking you through this process.  It's not hard, but I think it helps to be able to see it live...

https://youtu.be/QQIAnucBU_8

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

 

Reuse your boxes, and grab some scraps of wrapping paper.  The only thing you might need is some double sided tape.  I have an assortment, but I like these: https://amzn.to/36EuTng

Love,
Amanda

Learn to Think OUtside of the Box, Er, Cookie Cutter

You don't need to buy a cookie cutter for every cookie you want to make.  Learn to think outside of the cookie cutter and you may just find that you can make all sorts of designs your cutters were never intended for! 

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  When life gives you a paw cookie cutter, you make a turkey!  

I Make Lots of Cookies

I know there aren't a lot of ways to really express what I mean, so I'm just going to use a picture, then I'm not going to say another word. 

massive quantity of sugar cookies

We have a giant cookie party for our neighborhood each year (or we did, pre-COVID...2020 is in the works for something very different looking). 

BUT.  THERE WILL BE COOKIES.

I have hundreds of cookie cutters, but I don't use hundreds of cookie cutters.  I come back to a few shapes over and over again.  I have trained myself to try to think outside the cookie cutter design that was implied, and see what else might work.

A Word About Royal Icing

There is often reference to “piping consistency” and “flood consistency”. I have used those terms before in some of my own tutorials. BUT there are plenty of designs that don’t require the use of both. And for those, I split the difference! 

My icing consistency is neither flood nor piping, it’s 15 second icing. If you want a GREAT royal icing tutorial, here is one of my favorites…https://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2012/03/consistency-is-key-twenty-second-icing-and-more/

I almost exclusively use the 15 second icing, as you may have also noticed if you caught my other recent Fall cookie adventure: https://amandatoryactivity.com/owl-sugar-cookie-tutorial/

Paw Cookie into Turkey Cookie

I have a video tutorial for you below, so you can see the turkey design emerge from beyond the paw.  It's not necessarily the most tutorial-like of my videos, but I think it's entertaining.

It's also only 6 minutes long, and I recognize the appeal.  I do.  There are only so many hour long Cricut videos you can watch before you need a breather. 🙂

I started by sketching out the basic turkey shapes onto the paw cookie with an edible marker.

Then I added some feathers, making sure to work on every other feather, so the shapes don't morphe into one another.  

I let them dry for 15 minutes in between decorating, so the shapes stay nice and separate.

Then added final details, and boom!

Do you see it?  Can you think outside of the cookie cutter too?  I think you can...



High Speed Video of Paw to Turkey Transformation

I have linked my YouTube video tutorial below.  I hope you find it helpful and/or entertaining.

I you try thinking outside of the cutter and come up with a creative cookie design, drop me a note, I'd love to see !

https://youtu.be/A4BoqC29it8

Materials used for this project are listed below.  Some links are affiliate links, and if you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  If you do, thank you in advance for your support of this blog.

 

   

Large paw cookie cutter: https://amzn.to/35U8d29 

Icing colors used are Americolor gel colors. https://amzn.to/3oEcTQS 

Food color markers: https://amzn.to/3p0OBAS 

Tipless piping bags are from Truly Mad Plastics https://trulymadplastics.com/ 

Need a scribe tool? https://amzn.to/3mJQYpF

Love,
Amanda

About A Mandatory Activity

A Mandatory Activity sells artisan candles and bath products handcrafted, by me, in Maryland, USA. My candles are hand-poured using 100% soy wax.
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About Amanda

I’m Amanda, and I put the AMANDA in A MANDAtory Activity (and I like a good bad pun). I run a blog, A Mandatory Activity, focused on baking and crafting for gatherings and gifts.

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