Dans le Lakehouse

Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

February 15, 2017

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

I warned you: making melt and pour soap is addictive.  It's the perfect craft for stress relief because it's fun and foolproof - nothing vexes me more than a DIY project that refuses to cooperate.  But making soap is easy!  Plus it gets bonus points for being a useful, consumable thing.  I have so many crafty ideas pinned to Pinterest but I am really picky about what I make because I just don't want more clutter.  Really, I can only use so many decorated vases and clay trinket dishes, but that mindset really put a damper on my creativity so I've been on the hunt for fun DIY projects that are useful, too.

Perhaps the best part of this is that the soap base I buy is organic and it lathers so beautifully, so I enjoy it more than the humdrum white bars we were buying.  

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Today I'm sharing my latest melt and pour soap creation: "Lake Superior soap".  I wanted to create a bar that looked like the swirling depths of choppy water and it turned out so pretty.

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Supplies:

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Some Notes on Supplies: 

I purchased this exact soap base on Amazon in both clear and white, but I do prefer the clear glycerine base because the translucent base really highlights the shimmery mica so well.  I started with five pounds, three clear and two white, and that was a great amount for getting started with melt and pour soap making.   Definitely spring for at least 5 lbs! 

I have bought the mica colorants a few different times (including this exact teal as well as this teal shimmer plus this earthy color lot) and I'm not sure which ones I used here (plus I mix them).  If you're starting out, buy a mixed lot with color options - I guarantee you'll use them because you'll dream up different ideas while you experiment.

Because this project cleans up really easily, feel free to use a cutting board, measuring cup, knife and cheese grater from your kitchen cabinets.  While I was busy making soap, my white cutting board got a teeny tiny spot of discoloration from one of the mica colorants but everything cleaned up beautifully in the dishwasher - it's soap, after all. 

How to Make Swirling Melt and Pour Soap:  
The first step is to make the colorful "swirls".  Cut up the glycerine into 1 inch cubes and melt a cup or two in a Pyrex measuring cup for about 30 seconds in the microwave, until it's liquid.

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Add a pinch of mica colorant and stir with a spoon until the color is uniform.  Pour into the bar soap mold and spritz with rubbing alcohol.  Repeat for different colors, using varying shades of blues and teals.

Set the bar soap molds aside, undisturbed, overnight.

DIY Melt and Pour Lake Superior Soap

Place the loaf silicone mold on a cutting board for stability.  Pop the bar soap out of their molds and grate them into the loaf mold using the cheese grater.  The soap is slippery so be careful - this is where a set of thin, cut-proof gloves would come in handy.  Grate the soap right into the loaf mold, alternating colors, until it is almost filled to the top.  Layer the lightest blues on top.

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Melt about four cups of clear glycerine soap base in the microwave and add just a neutral white or pale gold mica colorant - just something for a bit of shimmer.  This is where you can add the fragrance - I used 20 or so drops of coconut essential oil.  Pour the melted soap into the loaf mold while it's still really hot.  The heat will make the top layer of grated soap melt somewhat and the resultant soap will have a pale turquoise background color with subtle swirls and movement.  By the time the melted soap reaches the bottom of the grated soap, it's cooler and the bottom layers stay much more intact.  Working with the hot melted glycerine is how I kept the grated soap design from just looking speckled (which also looks good).  Let it harden overnight and then pop out of the mold and slice, using a large sharp knife.

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap
DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

I don't know what scent best says "Lake Superior," so I just went with coconut because I like it.  I'm open to suggestions for my next lake inspired batch...

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

It is really difficult to photograph this soap because it's translucent and shimmering with different layers and a depth that I just cannot capture in a picture.  You'll have to take my word that this soap is staggeringly pretty.  I have literally stood in the shower for way too long, admiring it.  Just like my DIY gem stone soap, this soap doesn't dye or discolor any surfaces once it's finished. 

DIY Melt and Pour "Lake Superior" Soap

Have you tried making melt and pour soap?  I loved hearing about your experiments when I shared my last batch.  Tell me what you've been up to! 
SHARE:

February 10, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Behind the Scenes



I find it so interesting how people (myself included!) like to peer into the lives of other people.  Long before reality TV and blogging, my Mama would pop in on family, uninvited, "to see how they really live".  When she visited the townhouse for the first time, she unabashedly peered inside each and every one of my cupboards and closets, eager to ascertain whether I was actually a tidy homeowner, or I has just cleaned for her visit.  When I said the garage was off limits (because the house alarm would sound), she was convinced that's where I was keeping the mess.  I repeatedly asked her not to open the door, but that just made the garage more enticing.  When the house alarm went off at the crack of dawn one morning, I knew that her curiosity had gotten the better of her.

I laughed when I caught her red-handed!  I couldn't fault her, because my favorite hobby was to go for a walk at dusk - so I could nonchalantly peer into our neighbors' homes as I slowly sauntered by.  That was the reason I started reading blogs.  And I know this isn't some weird family quirk because that passion for voyeurism is what makes reality TV such a lucrative industry.

What's funny to me, is that the authenticity and realism we seem to crave is so illusive.  The Hills?  Turns out much of it was scripted!  Blogger homes?  A lot of those Pinterest-worthy images are staged!  Instagram was, for a long time, a place for those candid snaps, but it too has become more glossed over by highly edited and stylized shots.  The "way people really live" is driven deeper into the depths of the internet - now you can find it mostly in short-lived Instagram stories and Snapchat whatevers.  But in this world, where cash is king, there's no conspiracy to hide real life, it's just that glossier depictions perform better: better show ratings, better blog stats.  So do people really want "to see how people really live" after all?

I think about this so much.

I struggle with this as a blogger, because I feel pressure to produce Pinterest-worthy images but I'm still passionate about the function blogging used to serve: a glimpse into real homes, to see how people really live and decorate.  That's more difficult these days and the monetization of blogs blurs the lines even more.
  
The biggest lie I perpetrate is in my food photography and flat lays: I photograph so many things on the floor!  Not so scandalous, I know - until you see how heartbreaking this is for Szuka...


Szuka will come lurking and just hang out, staring longingly at the food that's within her grasp and yet so far away.  I can leave the room and she won't touch it, but she's there.  Watching. 

When I see blogging from her eyes ("why is the food on the floor, human, and why aren't we eating it?") it all seems so strange...

P.S. that's a diabetic-friendly cheesecake!
Read more »
SHARE:

February 7, 2017

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

Feel free to congratulate me on keeping this massive jade plant alive for the past year and a half.  It's a little dusty, but growing!  Hello little leaves.

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

Everyone says these are easy to maintain, but I've killed one before (after many good years together), so every day that this guy looks green and happy is a victory for me.  He seems to be enjoying his spot in the lakehouse, although he and Szuka do fight for window space.  Whenever I move him to wash the floors, she immediately settles into his spot, staking her claim on the whole wall of windows.  I don't move him often, though, because he weighs a TON.  His relatively stationary life has made him grow a little kitty womper, because I don't rotate him enough. 

Looking for an easy way to move this massive plant, I started looking into plant dollies but I couldn't find a cute one so I abandoned the search.  While shopping online for supplies for a different project, I stumbled across nice low profile castors and decided that a DIY walnut plant dolly might just be the easiest thing to make!

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

Supplies:

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

To make life easier (we loathe cutting circles), I bought a solid wood cutting board.  I ordered mine online and it was kind of expensive, but I always see inexpensive ones at places like Home Goods and HomeSense.  A less expensive wood, like bamboo, will only cost around $10 and acacia is in the middle (around $30).  I just love me some walnut.

For size, I recommend choosing a cutting board that has a diameter 2 to 4 inches larger than the base of your flower pot.  For thickness, I went with 3/4" and for strength I don't recommend any thinner, but thicker would work too.  I also chose one with a juice drip groove just in case but I doubt I'll ever need it because I've never over-watered the plant before.

How to Make a Plant Dolly:

The next step was painfully easy: just place the castors equally spaced out, about an 1/8" from the edge of the cutting board.  The wider the castors are placed, the more stable the dolly will be, so I inset them just enough so they can't be seen from the top.

Mark where the screw holes are once the castors are positioned.  Remove the castors and pre-drill the holes.  Put the castors back in place and screw them in.  Just make sure you don't screw to the other side (you can use a piece of tape on your drill as a poor man's depth guide, that's what I do).

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

That's IT!

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly

I am obsessed with how cute this looks!  The walnut really blends in nicely with our floors and these castors glide so smoothly, although, because the jade is so heavy, it's still really stable.  We need to purposefully move it, which is good.  A lighter plant might go skittering across the floor when brushed against, with such smooth castors.  No problems with Szuka knocking it over because she realized one Day One that the jade now moves, so she's been really gentle around it, it's kind of adorable.  If you have some overzealous pups or kitties, castors that lock (like these cuties) might be a good investment - and maybe even a super shallow wood bowl or a cutting board with a lip might be a good idea. 

Easy DIY Walnut Plant Dolly
Read more »
SHARE:

February 3, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Zombies + Other Completely Rational Fears


Being alone in the woods at night has always ranked high on my list of irrational fears - right up there with a Zombie apocalypse and shark attacks in swimming pools.

I never planned to move to the country.  I longed for a lake house, but I always imagined living close to a city.  Lakefront properties, however, do not often come up for sale around here and, if you remember my Sliding Door series, they are often out of our reach.  When this lakehouse came up for sale, we fell in love immediately.  It had some flaws to overlook (why would someone build a basement five feet tall?!?), but my biggest concern was its rural location.

We were actually cautioned against moving so far out to the sticks, largely because of the 45 minute drive to town.  But because we had been living in Ottawa, where rush hour can turn a 10 minute drive into a 45 minute ordeal, we weren't concerned about the commute.  Hubby had grown up in the country, on 80 acres deep in the woods, so the distance worried him even less.  He was more concerned about our measly little acre of land.  To him, our new home wasn't rural enough

I'll admit, I was mostly worried about zombies (in the woods - two fears in one!), so I didn't heed anyone's advice because their concerns (winter driving conditions/convenience) seemed pedestrian when there were much larger concerns to consider (seriously, why was no one else worried about the zombies?).

Shortly before we moved, we started watching The Walking Dead - which was such a mistake because it scared me senseless.  For months after moving here, I wouldn't set foot outside in the dark alone.  If I was in town for the day, I'd tear down the highway after dinner, trying to get inside before the sun went down.  If Hubby was out of town for work and I missed that sunset cutoff, I'd crash at my parents' place in my childhood bedroom.  I bought underwear and socks to keep there because this happened so often.

But it turns out that there are scarier things than zombies!  Since moving here, I've dealt with black bears, getting my truck stuck (and unstuck) in the snow more than once, a frozen well, and some really close calls with moose and deer on the highway.  Like, "is that deer fur caught in my grill?" close.   

Surprisingly, I took to country life like a duck to water.  The drive, the distance from everything, the well, the propane tank, the wood chopping, the garbage hauling - all of it feels routine now.  Eventually my fears melted away too.  I started driving home alone in the dark (although I'd sprint to my door at Olympic speeds).  But then I relaxed about that too, and now I putter around at night, taking out the garbage and admiring the stars.

One night Szuka ran away during her evening pee and I took off after her in my nightgown.  When I reached the road, I remembered that without street lights and our home's motion lights, it's really dark at night!  Then I remembered I was in the woods.  At night.  Alone.  At night.  Undeterred, I started jogging down the road until I found Szuka, who looked startled, like "oh sh*t, I thought you don't come out at night". 

Being able to be outside, in the dark and alone, seems ridiculous but that was a huge accomplishment for me.  Everything else was easy to adapt to, so when I finally felt comfortable in the woods at night, the country finally felt like home.

We even started watching The Walking Dead again (we're all caught up!)
Read more »
SHARE:

February 2, 2017

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

With my weight loss came the expensive realization that not only would I need a new wardrobe - right down to a replacement for my expensive parka (I bought the exact same one in a smaller size) - but even my rings would need re-sizing!  After a long pause, I'm actually still working towards losing a tiny bit more weight so I have been hesitant to fork over the dough to have my rings re-sized.  But after my wedding band got so big it started to fall off, I knew I needed a solution in the interim.  I read reviews on a lot of quick fixes and ultimately found what I think is a really great solution: the RinGuard Ring Size Adjuster.

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

These soft, hypo-allergenic surgical grade PVC tubes come in packs of three, to size a few rings at once or maximize the ways one ring can be temporarily made smaller.  The more times the RinGuard wraps around the bottom of a ring, the smaller it fits, so by snipping off some of the coil, a ring can be made just that tiny bit smaller.  But once it's trimmed, it's no longer an option to add loops, which is why I love the three pack - there's room for error.

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller
How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

I've mostly used these for my wedding ring, which I have had to size down a few times during my weight loss journey.  But I have also used it for fun cocktail rings - it offers the added benefit of helping heavier rings stay upright.

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

I've been using the same three RinGuards since May and they have really held up well.  Sometimes soap can get stuck in them, so every now and then I remove the RinGuard and give it a rinse - and I usually clean my ring at the same time.

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

Unlike some stiff tubes that are sold online, the beauty of these coils is that they curve to the shape of your finger, which helps create a comfy fit.  After a few days of wearing mine, I no longer really noticed.  It's been 9 months and still no complaints.  I know eventually I should have my rings re-sized properly but I'm just waiting a little bit more until my weight has settled before making that commitment. 

How to Temporarily Make a Ring Smaller

I know that quite a few of my readers can share in the struggle of having to buy new everything after a weight loss, so I wanted to share this quick tip!  I guess it's re-sizing for the DIYer, haha. 

I promised a detailed post about my weight loss ages ago but I've struggled to write it.  I have been writing and re-writing the draft, but at some point I will just have to take the plunge and share it!
Read more »
SHARE:

January 31, 2017

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Although I will always favor solid wood (I'm currently in my home office, admiring the DIY solid walnut desk), plywood has a special place in my heart.  It's affordable, versatile and comes in gorgeous veneers ranging from walnut to knotty pine.  If you're looking for inspiration, here's a list of 15 modern plywood DIY projects - including some of our favorite plywood projects, from the Dans le Lakehouse archives.

Easy DIY Plywood Counter Top

How gorgeous is this plywood counter top?  It's such a perfect choice for a laundry room, where not everyone can - or wants to - drop major coin on a solid surface counter.  It was made for under $100!  Seeing this project makes me really antsy to renovate our laundry room (not that hiding it with a curtain didn't do the trick for now!)  In the meantime, I did pick up a little inspiration from this boho laundry room and add a wicker laundry basket to mine. 

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Quirky DIY Plywood Wall Art

This unusual wall art is the perfect way to put plywood scraps to good use!  The different shapes and stains add a lot of interest and warmth to an otherwise minimalist white wall.

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Clever DIY Plywood Day Bed with Storage

How cute is this plywood day bed?  I love that it boasts hidden storage inside - that's so practical for smaller spaces and guest rooms. 

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Our Gorgeous DIY Walnut Plywood Bed

You knew I'd include our recent DIY bed on this list!  Even though not everyone can whip up those welded legs (you can buy some that are kind of similar), the frame is SO easy.  Imagine it with mid-century modern legs...these sturdy hairpin legs might work.

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Inexpensive DIY Plywood Credenza Top

Our plywood topped fauxdenza is still going strong even though the whole credenza was fairly inexpensive.  I would have loved to have splurged on a slab of live edge, exotic purpleheart wood that I spotted while we were shopping for supplies, but plywood fit into our budget so much easier!

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Practical DIY Plywood Storage Bench

An unused wall was packed with function thanks to this DIY storage cubby meets bench.  What a great multi-function project.  

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Turquoise Painted DIY Plywood Magazine Storage

A white wash finish really brought out the grain on our DIY magazine holders - but the turquoise interior is really what makes me smile!  This was such a practical project and they still have pride of place on my Expedit in the office.

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Versatile DIY Plywood Desk on Hairpin Legs

This DIY plywood desk has a secret: it's transformable and can adapt to different tasks.  Such a great idea for a hardworking space.  Plus I'm drooling over the idea of mint hairpin legs!  Why do hairpin legs just look SO GOOD with plywood projects?

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Handy DIY Walnut Plywood Storage Bins with Lid

I am still so smitten with these walnut plywood storage bins build we made - they are great for stashing stuff in our otherwise storage-less bedside tables.  Plus now they complement our walnut bed!  

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Minimalist DIY Plywood Side Table

This plywood side table on - you guessed it: black hairpin legs - is such an easy beginner project.  It's simple and straightforward to make but looks so modern and chic.  I'm also loving those casual eucalyptus branches.  I tried to grow a eucalyptus plant inside during the fall, but it withered and died - dried eucalyptus might be more my speed.   

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

Mid Century Modern Inspired DIY Plywood Bench

Check out how slick this DIY plywood bench looks - but it's such a simple project as well.  The glam gold legs are the perfect finishing touch - these mini hairpin legs or these walnut ones would be cute too. 

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

DIY Plywood Outdoor Sofa

This plywood project takes the cake!  Hubby and I have wanted an outdoor sofa for the deck but outdoor furniture is pricey.  I don't know if we'll have time this summer, but I love the idea of just making something.  I already found the perfect turquoise sunbrella outdoor pillows, so I'm extra motivated!

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You
 
Simple DIY Plywood Dog Bowl Stand

Both of Szuka's raised dog bowl stands were made with leftover plywood and hairpin legs.  Those hairpin legs make a simple design look so retro.

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

DIY Plywood Necklace Display

Another great beginner woodworking project - or the perfect way to use up scraps - this triangle jewelry stand beautifully displays necklaces.  Why not turn those pretty baubles into art?

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

DIY Plywood Peg Wall

The plywood peg wall featured below was shared on Apartment Therapy and it got me thinking that a plywood peg wall might be a fun project for the "fish room" (what I hope to turn into my craft room - see the house tour for photos).  Here's a great tutorial, if you're thinking you could use a pretty peg wall somewhere too.

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

If you're going to try any of these DIY plywood projects, skip the home improvement stores.  I hate seeing a great DIY project marred by construction grade plywood.  Head to a local lumber yard instead, where you will find a bevy of gorgeous wood grains.  My local Windsor Plywood stocks so many gorgeous veneered plywood varieties, including teak, walnut, maple, oak, and cherry.  If you absolutely cannot find any locally, you can always order sheets of specialty plywoods like walnut online, which certainly adds to the price but sometimes it's the best option!  For the edges, I prefer to edge band my plywood with matching edge band but I think these examples demonstrate that it can look good raw, too.

Have I missed a favorite plywood project?  Let me know in the comments!

Modern DIY Plywood Projects - 15 Ideas to Inspire You

P.S. Check out my Pinterest board devoted to DIY furniture for more ideas and inspiration!
Read more »
SHARE:

January 27, 2017

Lake Life Lately: Adiós Winter

I'm starting a new series: every Friday I'm planning to get a little personal and share a snippet of life on the lake.  I'm going to keep the format really relaxed and casual. 


As you know, I've been on a mission to embrace all four seasons - as opposed to complaining my way through Fall and Winter, like I normally do.  When the temperatures really plummeted in December, it was a challenge!  The biting cold definitely sidelined my plans for snowshoeing and other outdoor winter fun.  Mostly we got cozy by the fire under a blanket.  With snacks.  There may or may not have been one day, after the snowblower broke and I got stuck trying to power my way out of the driveway in four wheel drive, that I beat a metal post at the end of our driveway with a shovel, screaming "I hate this f*%$ing snow" before flinging my shovel into the woods.

But all in all, I've been pretty good at living in the snowy moment and appreciating just how beautiful winter can be.  I've barely complained, I swear.

It helped that I discovered the trick to enjoying winter when you live somewhere really, really cold: book a trip somewhere really, really warm.  There are actually direct flights from my one-horse town to Punta Cana!  That says a lot about how people here handle the winter.  Hubby and I have never been anywhere warm in the winter - we've only been on one beach vacation (Portugal, seven years ago this May).  So when, on a particularly blustery day in December, friends invited us to Punta Cana with them, we said yes!  Ironically, there goes my new snowblower money...   

Of course, since then the weather warmed up considerably and temperatures have actually been above freezing - the snow even melted in places.  The bay opened up and one particularly glowy sunset even had me thinking that spring was on its way.


I could really get on board with winter if it was this mild all of the time.  It hardly feels like winter at all!  Still, I'm counting down the days until I'm sprawled on a beach. 


We've never stayed at an all-inclusive resort.  The adults only (yes!) one we booked has something like 700 rooms, which is so nutty to me!  We usually vacation very differently: coming home from vacations more exhausted than when we left because we tried to cram in as much sightseeing as possible.  This will be different, that's for sure.  Packing has been a real challenge because after my weight loss, I never really dealt with my too-big wardrobe and so I'm doing this unintentional extreme capsule wardrobe thing, meaning only a handful of things fit and I wear them over and over again.  I recently bought some new swim suits, a floppy brim straw hat, and I'm on the hunt for cute summer dresses.


In my bathing suit shopping haul, I bought mostly two piece tankinis (my favorite) in different turquoise designs (literally nothing but turquoise) and paired them with high waisted bottoms.  I also got a cute turquoise bottom that's a little skirt plus I bought an adorable one piece with the cutest vintage styling.  The funniest thing is that I was so wowed with the selection at a local shop, I brought my Mom there the next day because she's had her bathing suit since I was in the second grade.  She ended up finding only ONE that fit her, and it fit her perfectly.  Want to guess which one?  The one piece I had bought the day before!  She was reluctant to buy it, but I am cracking up picturing us swimming in them this summer and the neighbors spying across the bay with binoculars like, "what the...?"


Although we have a house/Szuka-sitter all lined up, I'm not sharing the dates we leave.  Any would-be robbers would know from the blog that I've spent all my money on Pyrex anyway, lol, but I always cringe when bloggers blast their trip dates all over the internet.  It just seems unsafe!  But I'll be sure to share some photos - and what I ended up packing - when we get back, all sunburned and blissed out.   

Does anyone have any tips for packing for a beach vacation?  I'm all ears!
Read more »
SHARE:
© Dans le Lakehouse | All rights reserved.
See What Inspires Me on Pinterest