Monday, January 28, 2013

Christmas Ball Valentine Wreath (A Pinterest Fail)

Don't you just LOVE Pinterest?

Don't you just hate when your project doesn't turn out like the pictures?  I love this picture and this person's honesty.

Doesn't this happen to all of us?

Well, at Christmas I tried to make this very beautiful Christmas ball wreath where you bend a coat hanger in a circle and slide ornaments onto it.  To see the original designer, go here:

Except, I used the plastic balls from the $ Tree, because I didn't want to mess with glass ornaments.  It was fun and fine until the balls started popping off their tops.  As I added more ornaments, balls would all of a sudden drop to the floor and roll every which way.  When I tried to chase them - still holding onto the wreath - more ornaments would pop off!  Grrr......  So I tried hot gluing the tops onto the ornaments, but the little ornament hangers were so flimsy they just broke off of the wire hanger.......again more rolling balls.  I finally got so sick of it, I just stuck it out in the garage.  I wanted to stomp this thing into a million pieces.  Forget It!

But time heals all wounds, and as I passed by it every time I came into the house - I knew I had to throw it away or finish the darn thing.  (I should have taken a picture - but it didn't cross my mind.)

 I just glued a corsage pin onto a little heart.  
This would work with Valentine cards, too, to create a pick.

This time I took a straw wreath form, broke the tops off the plastic bulbs with needle-nosed pliers, and hot-glued them in place.  In my opinion, it was much easier and I could make a larger wreath than by using a coat hanger.  I never could get the coat hanger to have a nice shape anyway.

So, here is my saved Christmas wreath.  I added some glitter hearts to fill in the gaps between the balls (see how to make the pick above) and ended up with a lovely Valentine wreath.  That works!

What Pinterest fails have you managed?  Could you save them, or was it easier to chalk it up to experience and throw it in the trash?  I'd love to hear your stories.

Thanks for stopping by the tub,


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Etched Casserole Dish

Have you seen the etched casserole dishes on Pinterest?  I have a friend who makes them for gifts all the time, but I never had - until recently.

Rather than re-create the wheel, I thought I would link up to a wonderful tutorial here.  The only things I did different were:

1.  I cut the name I used out of contact paper with my silhouette machine

2.  I scooped most of the etching cream back into the container before I rinsed the dish.  It can be re-used, so why rinse all that cream down the drain?

Lavender Tub Tip:  If you do cut out a name using a cutting machine, try to stick the contact paper on your dish with the letters still in tact - and then remove them.  Trust me, it works much better this way.  Trust me!

I found a set of 2 casserole dishes at Wal-mart for about $12.00, and etched them both for a gift.  I am sooo happy with the results, and this was super easy.  It was such fun, I think I might block off an entire day just to find glass objects in my house and then etch them.

Do give this a try.  I think you'll really enjoy it, and I know if you make them for gifts - your giftee will be absolutely delighted.

Thanks for stopping by the tub,


Friday, January 25, 2013

Sushi - The Lavender Tub Way - Sushi Rice

In order to make sushi, you need to have the right kind of rice cooked properly, to have a nice, sticky rice to work with.

 This is the rice I use (found at Wal-Mart), but I do not follow the instructions on the package.  Instead, this is the method I prefer:

These instructions will yield 3 cups of rice  

Thoroughly rinse 1 cup of rice in cool water until the water runs clear.  Drain well.  

Place the rice in a heavy saucepan and add 1 1/4 cups cold water and stir.  Heat on high until the rice comes to a boil, stirring frequently to unstick the rice from the bottom of the pan.  By the time it boils, much of the water will be absorbed and the rice should look like this:

Cover the pan and reduce the heat.  Simmer for 20 minutes - and do not lift the lid.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and let it rest with the lid on for 10 more minutes.

Fluff the rice, but do not scrape the rice off the bottom of the pot.  It will be too crunchy for sushi making.  At this point, put the rice in a non-metal bowl and add 1-2 Tbs. of seasoned rice vinegar for flavor.  My family seems to have a huge aversion to the smell of vinegar, so I don't always add this.  It does add a nice flavor, though.

I usually make this recipe X4 to have plenty of leftover rice.  Of course, I only add vinegar to the amount I plan to use in the sushi.  It does keep well in the refrigerator, and you can make sushi again from this batch if you warm it and let it cool back down to room temperature.  It doesn't handle as well as when it is fresh, but almost.

I have also created a sushi salad from the leftover rice that I will share with you in another post.

Now, on to the sushi.  You can find a tutorial on how I make it here.  

Thanks for stopping by the tub!


Sushi - The Lavender Tub Way - Eel Sauce

I think everyone who loves sushi would agree that the sauce is one of the best parts.  There are so many delicious sauces, but one of the most popular and versatile is called eel sauce.  While I knew I loved the taste, I can't tell you how relieved I was to learn that a person doesn't have to go hunt down eels to make it.  I'm not sure why it is called eel sauce - unless it is to be served on eel - because it doesn't have eel, or fish, or any unusual ingredients at all.  What a relief!

For eel sauce, you simply combine equal parts of these 3 ingredients (I usually use 1 cup of each):

  White sugar, wine, and soy sauce (see, no eels).

The official recipe calls for Japanese wine, but I use white cooking wine with great results.  Because the cooking wine has salt added, I use the low sodium soy sauce to compensate.   

To make the sauce:

Combine the ingredients in a sauce pan, stir well
Turn the heat to medium - high
Cook until the sauce reduces by about 1/2, stirring frequently

This takes about 20 minutes, but will vary with the size pan you use and with the amount of ingredients.  You want the sauce to coat a spoon and be about of the consistency of a thinner pancake syrup.  Just remember it will thicken a bit as it cools.

That's it!  I like to make the larger batch (1 cup of each ingredient) because it makes a great base for teriyaki sauce and some PF Chang type sauces.  It is a nice sauce to keep on hand.


So, eels of the world relax!  You're safe at The Lavender Tub!  To learn how to make a sushi roll, go to my tutorial here.

Thanks for stopping by,


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sushi - The Lavender Tub Way, The Roll

If you're a sushi lover, I suspect you are going to love this post, because wouldn't it be great to have sushi at home?  If you're not, you're probably wondering why I'm even bothering with this at all. 

Well, my family loooooves sushi.  The problem is we are blessed with two, strapping, teen boys who can't seem to get filled up, and it costs us a fortune to go out for sushiWe hate to live without it, so I became determined to figure out how to make it!

Lavender Tub Tip:  I've taught all of my children how to make their own sushi rolls.  On sushi night, we prepare the ingredients and then have a sushi making party.  It is really great fun, and you should see how impressive my kids' sushi is.  Won't they be the life of a party some day?

While I did some research, the internet didn't answer all of my questions, therefore the method I'm describing is pretty much my own trial and error.  What I'm demonstrating probably doesn't follow any of the appropriate ways of making sushi, but it is what works for me, and I hope it will for you, too.  I can tell you that the end result tastes about 99% like one of our favorite sushi rolls in our favorite local restaurant, which makes us sooo happy!

All crab sticks are not alike.  I prefer crab sticks that can be pulled
apart in strings, like the brand shown above.  Some crab sticks are
all one pressed tube, and I don't like the taste as well. 
If you have a favorite brand, I hope you will share.

To keep this post from getting too long, I'm going to show you how to make the rice and eel sauce in tomorrow's post.  For now, we are going to assume that you have already prepared those a few hours in advance.

To learn how to make eel sauce, go here:
 For instructions on sushi rice, go here:

For this roll, we will be filling with avocado, cucumber, crab sticks, and cream cheese.  Prepare each of these ingredients by cutting into thin narrow strips (see the pic at the top of the post).  By the way, every ingredient needed to make this roll can be purchased simply at Wal-Mart.

To make the roll, place a piece of plastic wrap on a flat surface such as a cutting board.  Lay a sheet of sushi wrapper on the plastic, and spoon sushi rice onto the wrapper.  The rice will be very sticky, but you can still press it somewhat into place with the back of a spoon.  Completely cover the sushi wrapper with rice about 1/3 "  thick.

Place a second sheet of plastic over the rice and press the rice through the plastic with your hand.  You are not trying to smash the rice, just trying to get it to stay together.  Next, flip the sheet over and remove the piece of plastic that is covering the green sushi wrapper.

Line up the sushi fillings along the side of the sushi wrapper closest to you.

Now, grasp the plastic on the closest edge and begin rolling the fillings into the rice covered sushi wrapper.  You will roll the plastic right into the roll.  Press and shape as you roll.

With the roll only about 1/3 complete, stop rolling and gently pull the plastic that has been rolled into the roll, out.  You may need to roll and untuck the plastic a couple of times until you have a roll completely formed.  Again, squeeze and shape the roll until it feels like it is holding together.

Remove the plastic and place the sushi roll, seam down, on a cutting board.  For me, the next part is the hardest to master.  Using a serrated knife that has been slightly dampened, carefully cut the roll using gentle sawing motions.  I find it is best to clean my blade and dampen it between each cut.  It may take some practice to get this down, so just be prepared.

To finish the sushi, I like to garnish the top of each slice with some additional crab meat and a drizzle of eel sauce.

So, what do you think?  No special equipment to buy, no cooking classes - just tools you already have in your kitchen and a little practice.  Do you think you will give it a try? 

I'm surprised how many of my friends think sushi is just raw fish, and are turned off by that.  Sushi comes in raw fish versions, but it is often made with cooked fish/shrimp, and there are vegetarian rolls, as well.  Unless you absolutely hate fish - the wrappers have a bit of a fishy taste - you should give sushi a try.  It really is very, very delicious.

And to my sushi-loving friends, I hope this is exciting for you because you can now have fun making sushi at home, and save enough $ to send your kids to college!  Please write and let me know if you had success with this method, and what flavor of sushi rolls you put together.

Thanks for stopping by the tub,


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

From Milk Stool to Tutu Vanity Chair

When I was decorating the Little Princess Room, found here, I decided to dress up the old milking stool we were using with the vanity table.  I really liked the stool just the way it was - with paint chipping a bit and all, but I also knew it would be fun to give it a tutu skirt to dress it up a bit.

To make the tutu, I took a spool of bridal tulle we had left over from my daughter's wedding.  The price says $9.99, but it's from Hobby Lobby so I'm sure we purchased it for about $5.  The entire stool took about 1 spool.

Rather than measure and cut all the strips to the correct height, I found a board that was already cut to that measurement and wound the tulle around it.  If you don't have a board, perhaps a piece of cut cardboard would work.

Lavender Tub Tip:  Notice I ran my camera cord along the top of the board as I wrapped.  This makes it so much easier to get my scissors under the tulle to make the cuts.  Any cord or dowel would do the trick.

Once I wrapped what I thought would make enough strips, I cut through the tulle on one end only of the wrapped board.  Trust me, the camera cord makes this a snap.  Just be careful not to snip your cord.

Then, taking all of my even lengths of tulle, I tied a knot in each one.  I pulled the knot completely, but not tight.

Finally, I divided the perimeter of the chair in halves and hot glued the strips onto the edge of the seat.  I find it is best to eye where to glue by looking at where you've already glued strips, and then gluing a new strip at the mid-point between the two - continuing this method until the stool seat edge is evenly decorated.  For me, this works better than measuring.  

I want to be able to remove the strips easily at some point, but also have them stay in place until I'm ready to remove them.  Hot glue is perfect for this application.  

I really like how the knots almost give the seat the appearance that is has pearls around the edge.  I'm debating whether to put an added layer below for more fluff, but I'm not sure it really needs it?  What do you think?

I'm always so glad when you stop by the tub!


Origami Owl Living Lockets

I'm so excited to tell you about some gorgeous jewelry I've just become familiar with.  A few months ago, my son-in-law ordered a locket for my daughter for their anniversary from a message board he is part of.  Needless to say, she was giddy delighted - and for good reason.  WOW! was it beautiful!  Since I was so impressed, yet had never heard of this company - I thought you might not have either.  So, I thought I would share:

This is a special locket made just for me!!! 
Notice the camera and the postcard (to represent posts)?

The company is called Origami Owl, and they are a direct marketing company that sells lockets and other necklaces through their designers.  What I love about the lockets, aside from how lovely they are, is that they can be opened and the charms changed to fit whatever look you desire.  This fits my style exactly, because I love having items - whether decorative, clothing, or jewelry - that can be used many different ways. 

The lockets are made of stainless steel, are hypo-allergenic, plus will not tarnish nor rust.  The gold and rose-gold lockets are actually plated with 18K gold.  I think the quality is very noticeable, and when you consider how versatile the lockets are - it seems like a great product for the price, to me.

I also like that the plates and tags are hand-stamped here in the US.  I am very concerned about human trafficking, and I like knowing where the products I buy are made.  I want to support our domestic industries, and I'm happier knowing that some child in a remote third world village is not stamping out what I'm choosing to wear for ornamentation.

My designer is Dorraine Hudson, and I hope you will check out her website here (or there are now links in the right sidebar of my page)

and go like her facebook page here:

She may be offering some giveaways in the future - 
and you wouldn't want to miss out!

You can place an order directly through her website, or contact her on FB.  I know she will love to help you out.  These are the steps she suggests when shopping for a locket.  

Aren't they stunning?  Have you heard of Origami Owl, or are they new to you too?  If so, what lockets have you put together?

The biggest problem I see is 
How do you choose?
Thanks for stopping by the tub,


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fun Free Photo Effects From Ribbet

One of my favorite things to come out of blogging has been that I've learned more about taking and editing pictures.  I'm still not a wiz on Photo Shop or anything, but I have become pretty familiar with some of the on-line editors - and at least I can say I'm better than I once was.  I have a long way to go, but that's part of the fun of this journey.

Today, I thought I'd share a couple of techniques I've figured out that might be fun for you to use in your crafting.  I used the free on-line editor called Ribbet to create these effects, but you could achieve the same results using PicMonkey.  PicMonkey used to be free, but they started charging for several of their features a few weeks ago.  At some point, they all need to make some money, but for now Ribbet is still free - hence I am using it these days.

For these projects, I first downloaded some black and white pictures from The Graphics Fairy onto my computer. I thought this Typography piece was especially pretty.

I changed it to this

by following these few simple steps:

1.  Go to and upload the picture you downloaded from The Graphics Fairy

2.  At the top of the screen you will see a tab that says Edit, and under it a link that says Touch -up.  Click that link.

3.  Go to the frog for Eye Color

4.  On the rainbow, move the little white circle until you find a color you like.  I chose a bright teal. 

5.  Slide the brush size to the largest size and then begin coloring your black and white picture with the big circle.  The black on your picture should turn to the color you selected.

Isn't that fun?  It's like when we used to paint those pictures with plain water and the paint would magically appear.

Here is another example:

For a final fun effect, follow all of the steps above, except for #3.  Instead of Eye Color, choose the Blush frog.  Instead of painting your ink, this will instead paint your background.

Wouldn't this make a cute pillow to print on fabric?

If you have any trouble with this, let me know and I will try to make it more clear.  Otherwise, I hope this gives you some new crafting resources that are completely free.

Thanks for stopping by the tub,