DIY Graceland-Style Rock Wall!

Hello Everyone!
Dave and I are so happy because we have finally begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Our involuntary basement renovation is close to being finished!!! YAY! We got PermaSeal, new electrical work, put down a new floor, put up new drywall and paneling, AND... we now have our very own rock wall! Graceland style!!! If you're looking to spruce up a wall or two in your house, I recommend mortaring up a rock wall of your own! 
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You will need:
- a smooth trowel
- a trowel with teeth 
- mortar & mortar mixer
- 2 buckets
- water
- your choice of rock tiles
- saw with rock cutting blade
- protective floor covering and protective gear for yourself
- metal lathing, nails and a hammer
This is a few day process, but totally worth it!

Step One
Nail up your metal lathing onto your drywall wall with nails. Once it's secure, you can begin to mortar!
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Step Two 
Cover the floor and set out your tools and one bucket with water in it to clean tools and one to mix mortar. Read the directions on the packaging in order to get it to the correct consistency. Once your mortar is mixed and ready to go, you can begin spreading your first layer of mortar on the metal lathing. 
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We learned that it's best to work from the ground up and you will want to smooth on about a 1/2 inch of mortar over the lathing. After your wall is mortared smoothly, you will need to take the trowel with teeth and drag it along the mortar in order to create grooves.
 photo ridges_zps835fe4b8.jpg Step Three 
Once your mortar is dry, you can start mortaring on your rock tiles from the bottom of your wall up.
You'll need to measure out your rock in order to make sure it will fit onto your wall correctly. You will need to be VERY CAREFUL when cutting your rock tiles to size. This can be very dangerous, so do your homework and wear protective eye-ware and a breathing mask.
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When you are ready to mortar your rock pieces onto your wall, only put up 4 or 5 full layers of rock the first day. In order to get your rocks to stick, you will need to spread about a half an inch of smooth mortar onto the rock tile and then press it against the dry mortar ridges on your wall. Repeat for five full lines from the bottom up. You'll need to let it dry overnight to ensure a stable foundation for the rest of your wall! 
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Step Four
The next day (once your first few layers are dry) you can finish mortaring the rock tiles onto your wall!
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Step Five 
After your rocks are dry (more than likely, the next day) you can start to decorate your wall and put your furniture back in place! We bought a bunch of fake plants from Hobby Lobby and went all out on the Jungle Room theme!
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Congrats!!! You did it!!! You've got your own  Graceland-style rock wall!  Sit back, relax and enjoy a cocktail in your brand new Jungle room! 
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Until Next Time!
~Steph @ Calamity Layne
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DIY Pancake Bar!

DIY Pancake Bar!

For Iggy's birthday, I decided to not have a big party, and instead just invite immediate family over for dinner. Since Iggy is a somewhat picky eater, and it's his birthday and all, I decided that we would have one of his very favorite foods for dinner - pancakes!

Now, I LOVE having breakfast for dinner. But not everyone in my family likes doing things in a non-traditional way, and not everyone enjoys eating the same foods. I decided that the best way to make lots of people happy was to have some type of DIY buffet where everyone could customize their food (in this case, pancakes), to best suit their own tastes!

...Enter the DIY Pancake Bar! I make the plain pancakes, you top them any way you like!

DIY Pancake Bar!

I searched around online and made myself a list of lots of different pancake topping options. I picked the ones that I thought would be most popular with my own family, and that would be readily available.

I like being able to pull out all of my weird serving pieces and use them for these types of things. You've probably seen a lot of these pieces serve a purpose in my DIY bloody mary bar a few weeks ago too!

DIY Pancake Bar!

Here are some items you can include in your own pancake bar:

  • Syrups: real maple, faux, flavored...
  • Peanut butter
  • Nutella
  • Jam
  • Caramel sauce
  • Powdered sugar
  • Honey
  • Butter/margarine
  • Sprinkles
  • Tiny M&Ms or candy pieces
  • Mini chocolate chips
  • Shredded coconut
  • Slivered almonds
  • Crushed walnuts
  • Cinnamon
  • Cinnamon sugar
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Cream cheese
  • Whipped cream
  • Crumbled bacon bits

DIY Pancake Bar!

Although I neglected to take photos of my actual pancakes (we were hungry and ate them very quickly!), here is the recipe that I used. I found it easiest to mix all the dry ingredients in one bowl, all the wet ingredients in another, then mix together. I made several batches (3-4) in order to accommodate everyone the night of the party. I got lots of compliments on my pancakes, and it was just as easy as using a box mix!

Easy (From Scratch) Pancakes

  • 1 egg 
  • 3/4 cup milk  
  • ¼ cup water 
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
  • ½ cup white flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt 

In a medium – sized bowl, beat egg with whisk until fluffy. Mix in milk, water and oil. In a separate
bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients until smooth, do not over-mix.

Preheat skillet on medium heat. Test that skillet is hot with drops of water. Skillet is ready to use
when water sizzles. Spray skillet with cooking spray. Using a ladle, pour about ¼ cup batter into
middle of skillet. Cook pancake until bubbles form across the top and pancake is brown on the
bottom. Flip with flipper/turner and cook on other side until pancake is set.

Makes 6-8 pancakes.

Everyone seemed to really enjoy having pancakes for dinner, and also seemed to enjoy trying out something new or unusual on their pancakes and comparing their choices with others, which made for some fun conversation!

Rock On,
Jen @ Hell Razor

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Iggy @ 2 Years Old

Iggy @ 2 Years

I used to give you updates on Iggy every two months, and I stopped around 16 months because I didn't want to be one of THOSE moms who force her children on you... but I also enjoy being able to look back for my own memories and see how Iggy has changed, especially because at present, we don't have any plans to bring any more children into our family. I don't want to lose or forget any of the special moments that I have this one time around.

Iggy @ 2 Years

I thought I'd check in since Iggy had his 2nd birthday last month and give you a little bit of an update on what he's been up to. If you're not into the kiddo stuff, scroll on, I understand.

Iggy @ 2 Years

Iggy is super smart. As in, when he sees something that he wants, he problem-solves to get to it, no matter what, even if he is not supposed to. We have this little fold-up stool that he's taken to carrying around and setting up in the kitchen to get things off of the counters or putting in front of the bookshelves to reach his iPad or to brush his teeth in the bathroom.

Iggy @ 2 Years

We've begun very short (1 minute) "time-out" sessions with him. Because he is bossy and stubborn and will ignore directions if there is something that he wants, and he throws a fit if he doesn't get it. Ugh, so much drama. I think it's my karmic payback for my childhood.

Iggy @ 2 Years

Iggy is also hilarious. As I'm typing this, he's figured out how to clip my school ID to the dog bowls and is dragging them around the room while yelling "beep boo beep boo" which is his robot noise - I'm not sure what this game signifies, but he's enjoying himself.

He picks up on things we are saying really fast. We have to be VERY careful what we say around him, because he will repeat it. He still thinks that giraffes say "hey man" and penguins say "dude" (we'll cross that bridge later when he gets to school), but one day my mom was cooking hot dogs and exclaimed "oh that's a hot weiner!" which resulted in a string of "HOT WEINER! HOT WEINER! HOT WEINER!" being yelled in the kitchen.

However, you can make this work to your advantage, too... As former fans of the tv show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," I can now ask him, "Hey Iggy, what's the time?" and he'll say back "diaper time!" before we go to change his diaper.

Iggy @ 2 Years

Iggy is just now becoming aware of the whole diaper/potty training thing. He hides in the shower or under the kitchen table to do his business. So we just started asking him if he's interested in sitting on the toilet and bought him a little seat, but I'm not trying to rush things. He's only just turned two. And I hate reading gross Facebook updates from people about their children's potty habits, so we'll just end our conversation on this topic right here.

Iggy @ 2 Years

I am getting a little frustrated on his eating habits, but I am told that this is normal for a 2-year old to get so picky about food... and his food choices are really not the worst. Good things that he will eat include: bananas, broccoli, applesauce pouches, yogurt, TJ marinated tofu, and hummus. Not-so-awesome-things that he wants to eat in bulk include: bread of any kind, ritz bits peanut butter crackers, french fries, dip (like by the spoonful - gross), and pretty much any kind of chip. Oh, and he just discovered candy in the form of Hershey kisses on Valentine's day.

Iggy @ 2 Years

One weird thing that I never forced on him is that he only drinks water and milk. I tried to give him juice when he was younger, but he never ever wanted it, he refused it and gave it back. I know that it's a good thing in the grand scheme of things (so I seriously don't bring it up as a humblebrag "oh my kid won't drink juice!"), it really is just a bizarre phenomenon that I did not try to create in any way. I expect that one day it will suddenly change, but it hasn't yet.

My favorite thing right now is that Iggy says "I love you" a lot. Like this morning, he asked me for more water, so I went into the kitchen and filled his cup. When I handed it back to him, he said, "I love you," (even thought we've taught him "thank you" previous to this) but it was really sweet. I like those kinds of moments and I want to remember them always.

Rock On,
Jen @ Hell Razor
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An “Engaging” story.

Lisa Gets Engaged

I am sharing a more personal story this week as something pretty awesome happened last Friday on Valentine’s Day!

But first a little back story.

I have mentioned Shane before in my posts, and even have referred to him as my “fiancé” even though technically in my mind he “officially” was not yet. You see, Shane and I have been together 3 years. In the first year we were together, we had a fabulous “oops!” and made Gunnar. This was a miracle, as I had been told it would really be hard for me to actually get pregnant, and here I am now, the mother of my crazy little two-year-old. Many new couples suffer with an unexpected change like this, but Gunnar did the opposite for us -  he brought us closer together and brought many new friends into our lives. We knew one day we would get married, but we (more like Shane) were taking our time.

So now, present day…we have actually set a date, and have booked a location and many details of our wedding is planned, but I did not have a ring yet... so you know being a girl, it was not official until I had a “ring on it." Back to Valentine’s Day... Shane is not a Valentine’s guy, so I was trying to not be into the holiday, as it is kind of commercial, but nice at the same time. I was working my wine demo job that night and getting sucked in watching couples purchase wine, flowers and chocolate covered strawberries. I decided I would get Shane a little something, as why should I not enjoy getting him something?

When I got home, I picked on him for his lack of Valentine’s love, and gave him his present. Shane was playing with Gunnar, so I joined and climbed into our awesome IKEA castle tent. When I got in, Shane said “Gunnar, tell mommy there is a present for her in the tent.” I then turned around and found this awesome Frankie Stein Monster High doll.  I was thrilled, because picturing Shane picking out a doll for me was hilarious. I was all smiles, and then proceeded to play this game with Gunnar where I put puppets on my hand, he feeds me “Yo Gabba Gabba” figures, and then the puppet proceeds to barf them up. Lovely eh? (I have a boy, and he thinks it’s hilarious.) Shane was giving the figures to Gunnar, and we are playing for a bit, until the Unicorn puppet had something “weird” in its mouth. I look, and it’s a ring box and I am floored. I open it, and there it is the amazing pink and green engagement ring I had chosen. I cried and Shane put it on my finger and then POOF! I now can call him my fiancé!

Lisa Gets Engaged

I am sharing this to show that everyone has a different story to how they came about to be a couple and get married. I love that it included Gunnar. Some people do a super romantic night, some people make giant signs, or slip rings into desserts, but I LOVE that my son was involved and it included barfing puppets and a castle tent. It is just so US! I would love to know your story! Share some with me!

P.S. October 25 is the date! I cannot wait!

Stay Sweet,
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Top 4 Apps for a Healthier Lifestyle

Hello everyone!
I don't know about you, but I've found myself packing on extra pounds this winter due to cabin fever and fear of frostbite! I've decided to get my butt in gear AND in shape with a little help from these 5 user-friendly apps!

Lose It!
Ok, I'm REALLY bad at diets and calorie counting...AND I'm not the most tech savvy person in the world, so if I can make this work for me you are bound to be able to make it work for you. It's a simple and easy way to track your eating habits and keep your calories in check. You can also set goals for yourself, connect with your friends and join challenges to keep you on track ! The best part is, it's free!
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Yoga Studio
I tend to get SUPER stressed out at work and by the time I get home I'm completely wound up. I've been looking for something that can calm my nerves (that doesn't involve calories). Yoga Studio has really helped me relax and forget about the constant bullshit that goes along with everyday stress. I do my cardio first and then do a 15 or 30 minute video directly from my iPhone. It's great because you have access to workouts from anywhere and you can schedule your workouts so it syncs up with your phone's calendar. They have multiple skill levels to choose from too (I'm definitely a beginner), so don't be scared! ($2.99, but worth it!!)
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By far the most simple and easy work out app out there. You open the app, click on the area you want to focus on, the length of the workout and the videos begin. Simple sweet and to the point. Free app!

Whole Foods Recipes
I'm not gonna lie...I hate Whole Foods...(I know sacreligious....sue me). They do have great food, but seriously...I need to knock over a bank to be able to afford everything...ANYWAY, they have this fantastic app that lets you meal plan and will automatically feed ingredients into a shopping list for you. This little guy has made it much easier to come up with low cal dinners for Dave and I with little effort on my part. Having trouble figuring out what to make for dinner? You can input some main ingredients you have around the house and it will give you multiple recipe options for those items! Oh! Also, this app is free!

As you already know...exercise and a balanced diet are always the best options for weight loss...(It's a pain in the ass, but you can do it!!!). If you need a little push in the right direction, try out one or two of these apps. Hopefully they will work for you too!

Until next time!
Steph @ Calamity Layne

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I Love Leslie Hall

I <3 Leslie Hall
dress - Target / boots - MooShoes / socks - Betsey Johnson / leggings - Forever 21+ / sweatshirt - Leslie Hall / necklace - ?

On this day, I decided to design my outfit around my giant hooded sweatshirt that I purchased at the Leslie Hall concert on the previous weekend. It is so giant and comfy and warm, and I'm so fed up with this lousy cold and winter snow that is never-ending, I just didn't want to take it off.

I <3 Leslie Hall

This day was also just before Valentine's Day, so I incorporated a heart motif into the theme. I could have sworn I'd worn this dress on the blog before, but as I'm typing this, I just sifted way back through posts, and I can't seem to find this dress anywhere! How weird! Because I've had it for a long time. And I've worn it a bunch. Sometimes I get dressed and I have every intention of taking outfit photos for a post, but it doesn't happen. I'd bet that's what happened here, too.

I <3 Leslie Hall

Did you notice that the hearts on my socks are upside-down? That's because these socks are actually super super long (like over-the-knee), so I turned them inside-out before I put them on. Then, I pulled them up all the way, and turned them down so they'd be facing right side out. But also upside-down.

I <3 Leslie Hall

I can't even remember where I got this necklace from... if I had to guess, I'd say it was from Kohl's junior's department or something like that. I have a pretty good collection of necklaces that are heart-shaped things. It gets hard to keep track of them all.

I <3 Leslie Hall

I like the army green and light-pink color combo in this dress. Normally I can't pull off light pink too well because it's so close to my skin tone and makes me look all washed out, but the green makes it all ok. Did you notice that I still have my ankle all wrapped up? I'm still waiting to see the podiatrist. My doctor told me that I have something called "fibrocartilaginous talocalcaneal coalition," so I Googled it and found little to nothing that matched those exact three words together.

I will finally see the podiatrist at the end of this month (pretty soon) and I just want to have an answer as to how to fix this because I'm pretty miserable. I've actually had to take a hiatus from roller derby class and that just makes the miserable-ness even worse. Ugh.

I <3 Leslie Hall

Let's talk about something happy and good. My sweatshirt from the Leslie Hall show reminds me of the best night ever. Lisa and I had a double-date with our special men and we sat in the only bar stools in the entire place. Then, right at the end of the show, Leslie came out into the crowd and I got to hug her and it was one of the most awesome things in my whole life ever. You know, after having Iggy and getting married and stuff.

If you have not heard Leslie Hall before, please take a minute or two to check her out:

Rock On,
Jen @ Hell Razor
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My First Art Snacks Box!

Art Snacks!

Just this last month, I received my very first Art Snacks box! Art Snacks is similar to other subscription-box services, except it caters to artists and creative-types. Every month, you receive 4-5 full size premium art products! And it's $20/month. I actually had to sign up to be on a wait list before I could actually begin to subscribe!

...Worth it!

Art Snacks!

This is the February box, which shipped out on January 20th. I love the Art Snacks logo, and I hope I get that cute little sticker every time, because there are a zillion little places I can put them (or give them away as prizes to students)!

So, in your box, you get your 4-5 items (the one pen this month was a 2-piece deal: the pen body and the ink section come separate), a little treat (the conversation hearts), and a logo sticker.  There's also a "menu" card that details each item in your box.

Art Snacks!

You can make unboxing videos and vines, and there's a special hashtag for Instagram and Tumblr (#artsnackschallenge) where you create an artwork using your Art Snacks supplies.

Art Snacks!

Palomino Graphite PencilPrismacolor Kneaded Eraser

This month had a Palomino graphite pencil and Prismacolor kneaded eraser, two items I am very well-versed in (in general) as an art teacher.  But I appreciate the attention to quality brands, as I am very partial to my #2 Dixon Ticonderoga for all-purpose pencil writing needs. The graphite pencil is a "B" grade, which is a nice softness for sketching and shading. It pairs nicely with the kneaded eraser, which you can shape to the area/size you need to erase from.

Art Snacks!

Copic Ciao Marker

What I know about Copic markers are that they're super fancy (as in expensive - I can't afford to buy them for my art classroom) and professional.  I received a red double-tipped marker, which is kind of appropriate for Valentine's day. One end has a broad chisel-tip, and the other end is a "brush" tip with a varying width based on how you use it.  Now, I'm a Sharpie girl, so I think that this kind of marker has a bit of a learning curve... but I imagine that once you get the hang of it, it's amazing.  And the tips are replaceable and the ink is refillable? Crazy! So, worth the investment then.

Art Snacks!

Zig Cocoiro Lettering Pen + Body

This was my favorite item in my Art Snacks box this month. I love new pens and writing tools, especially things that can be customized and have special options. I was however, slightly disappointed after I discovered that there are different colors for the pen body and I received the crystal white? Aw man, how about a summer apple green or rose komachi pink? At least the crystal white body has a very subtle glitter in it? Hey, the important part is the pen itself - I can always buy myself my own new body, they're only like 3 bucks. I really like the black ink pen. The width of the line is nice for general writing as well as sketching, and I can see myself carrying this pen around in my purse and using it all the time. Score!

Oh, and not only can you buy different pen bodies, but you can buy different inks, too, like pink, mint green, blood red, and cobalt blue.  Excuse me, I have to go shopping now.

Rock On,
Jen @ Hell Razor
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Swap It Out!

Swap It Out!

Last Saturday I did something new - I attended a food swap! ...What is a food swap, you ask? Well, it is like going to the best bake sale ever, but you do not need any money!

It works like this; you make something (I brought chocolate and blueberry balsamic caramel sauce, neapolitan marshmallows, and candied dark chocolate dipped lemon peels) and then place it upon a table. You fill out a swap card that lists the ingredients and usage of the product, then other attendees that are swapping come around - if they have an interest in your product, they jot down what they have brought and would like to swap for your item. When the official swapping starts, it can get a little crazy, and you do not always get what you want, but you still will come home with amazing home baked items!

Swap It Out!

This was held at All Natural Chicago Catering Service, which was an amazing space. Very big, open, and even had some video games to play (I cannot believe I did not ask to play the table top Ms. Pac-Man!). The owners of this location are a husband and wife team that does fantastic catering. If you need catering in the Chicago area, check them out!

I was so excited to participate in this event! My friend, Cheryl, had done one before, so she was my guide (and the one that clued me in to the fact that this even existed!). It was great to be in a room with other passionate cooks and bakers that just want to share something awesome that they made with others. Everyone was so nice, and it was a pleasure to meet everyone. There was a large group, so I was almost fearful for the chaos of when the swapping officially began, but it ran nicely. I learned a tip from seasoned swappers - they put their goods in a box and walked around and swapped...smart! I will try this next time.

Swap It Out!

So, by the end of the swapping, I had gotten rid of everything I had brought except for a few lemon peels, and came out with this stash: green tea mandarin soda syrup, blood orange sugar, pickled beets, butterscotch sauce, pear butter, amaretto, salted molasses butter, lentil soup with prosciutto, carrot cake jam, bacon onion jam, lime curd, hot fudge sauce, fresh “fire” pasta, spritz cookies, matzo toffee, dark chocolate wine cookies, Punjabi choley garbanzo beans, quinoa salad, vegan cookies, siriacha salt, Thai peanut soup, vegan split pea and barley soup, taco filling, broccoli and feta frittata, and sweet potato muffins. What a haul!

Swap It Out! Swap It Out!

If you live in Chicago, check out Emily and her amazing team and join. You can follow the Chicago Food Swap on Facebook or via their website for information to when the next swap will be. Just be like me and set your alarm to register, because it can fill up quick! And if you are not in Chicago, I would search around online, I bet something like this could be going on in your area or better yet...start one up on your own!

Stay Sweet,
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A Cure for the Valentine's Day Blues

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If Valentine's Day has you down in the dumps, why don't you try out a new craft for some good, clean fun...Soap Making! It's easy, creatively stimulating, AND therapeutic (make sure you pick some relaxing scents like lavender and bergamot).

You will need:
  • A double boiler (or 2 pots you don't care about)
  • A wooden spoon
  • A soap base of your choice (you can get this at Michael's or Hobby Lobby)
  • Essential Oil (scents of your choice)
  • Soap Dye (colors of your choice)
  • A large bowl with a spout
  • Soap Molds (I used vintage Jello molds)
  • Any extra fun stuff (like lavender flowers, salt, shea butter, etc...)
Step One  
Get all of your ingredients out and your molds ready to mix because once you begin the process, it goes pretty quick.
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 Cut your soap base into smaller blocks and get your double boiler going. Once your water is boiling, go ahead and place your soap blocks in the pot without the boiling water.
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Step Two
Make sure you continually stir your soap base as it melts with your wooden spoon (you don't want it to catch on fire)!
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Once your soap base is completely melted, it's time to add your other ingredients! This is where you can let your creativity shine! If you're bummed out this V Day, choose your favorite color and some soothing scents for your soaps!
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Step Three
Pour your mixture in your "bowl with a spout" (in my case, I used a large measuring cup). I added my lavender flowers in after I removed my soap from the heat.
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Right after you are finished mixing in your extras, pour your soap into your molds! I used some vintage Jello molds, some plastic soap bar molds, and a few coconut milk cartons. You can also use 1/2 gallon cartons for soap making as well!   photo soapMolds_zps70a9c3c5.jpg
After you've poured your soap into your molds, it has to cool (this is the super boring part). I let mine sit overnight, but it depends on the soap base you're using AND how deep your molds are. The cartons took FOREVER to cool, but the Jello molds cooled pretty fast. I made a few different kinds of soap, so I had to make sure I marked what scents and ingredients were in the different soaps.
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Step Four 
Pour yourself a glass of wine, draw yourself a nice hot bath, and lather up! Enjoy your hard work and feel your blues melt away.
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Until next time! 
~Steph @ Calamity Layne

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