DIY Cinnamon Room Scent

One of the things I miss about the US while living in a foreign country is familiar smells.  Like pumpkin spice candles filling the room with scent.  I’ve brought candles back with me from the States, but they are gone too soon and I’m left bereft.  Without cinnamon…

Last year I finally thought up a solution.  It’s so simple you’ll love it too.  Be you at home or abroad.  I had two of these:


And, nerd that I am, had no clue what it was.  I also had some horrid smelling oil that I assumed went into the top, but which burnt and smelled even worse when I poured it in and tried to warm it up.  Anyway – lightbulb!  Poured in some olive oil, and spices of my choosing and there it was, the comforting scent of cinnamon spice filling my room.  I’ve since moved on to coconut oil, but you can use olive oil too, just not a strong tasting one.

You need:

1 TB coconut oil/light olive oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. cloves

That’s it!  Light a votive underneath, give your oil and spices a stir and leave it to fill up your room with “holiday” cheer 🙂  Feel free to experiment.  I’ve added ginger, cardamom & anise, but didn’t really like the combination.


Keeping kids busy

I’m working on perfecting my sprouted grain recipes.  Since I have not found my muse yet, here’s a few ideas to keep the kids busy while working in the kitchen:

1.  Playdough.  I love this homemade recipe.  It’s not greasy, and doesn’t dry out very quickly, and is nice and soft.  Of course you MUST add the pie spice or at least cinnamon.  Your hands will smell like pie for hours 🙂

2.  Sensory Rice.  This can make a mess – so if you have an in-closed yard, use it.  I don’t, so I use a tent.  coloredrice

Provide plenty of spoons, measuring cups and cars.

Keep a broom handy 🙂




3.  Magnetic city or dolls.  I have a metal front door.  It’s awesome, because the kids can play with magnets without getting underfoot in the kitchen.  DSCN2718

You can buy adhesive magnetic paper in any craft/stationary store here.  It looks like this. DSCN2723

And look closely to see that the back is paper – you can also buy plain colored magnetic sheets too.  I had the kids color a print out from the website, placed each one on the sticky back of the magnetic paper, covered it with clear packing tape, and cut them out one by one.  I also taped some background scenery and a road to the door.

4.  Tangrams.  I don’t have an Altoid tin, but this sounds like it would occupy the 4 year old.

5.  Felt Road.   This looks like the next project I’ll try that both of them would like.  I think it needs some velcro hot-glued on or they’ll flip out because the road is not staying together.

Chalkboard paint – in Taiwan!

I’m totally stoked – I finally tracked down some unsanded tile grout and was able to make chalkboard paint.  Here’s the elusive info:

After exhaustively searching every 五金 (hardware/dollar store) in town, I finally checked the craft store, and sure enough – unsanded tile grout.  It was in the section for tile projects (unsurprisingly), you could also choose sanded or not and various colors. 

So simple, but it’s taken me at least 6 mo. to find this.  Anyway, followed the directions on Martha Stewart above and presto!  Chalkboard paint on my refridge.  I’m drooling over all the possibilities now 🙂

A couple thoughts on the whole project:

1.  Read through the comments on MS – many people had clumpy paint problems.  (as did I)  Either add your grout to a little water before mixing it in the paint, or sift it in slowly.  Either way, after sitting for a day, it will have dissolved in nicely.

2.  Here’s what I did:

enlisted slave labor to clean my surface






traced my design using a projector






filled in my contrasting border color






mixed my paint using acrylic or water based black matte paint (glossy is fine, but different looking)  Use 1 c. paint to 2 TB tile grout.

I did a few coats because I didn’t want holes when I sanded the surface at the end.  Make sure to sand between coats or any bumps will stay where they are.





one thing I would do differently next time would be to do the finer border design in regular paint, not the chalkboard paint.  It looks a bit chunky to me.  I still love it!  Go out and find your tile grout today 🙂













Playing with wood

Hey I’m still alive – just barely though.  My 婆婆 came to help us out for a month while my ribs healed.  Which meant that I got a lot of rest, but nothing done 🙂  I thought up a zillion projects, attempted to do some, and then realised – I can’t do that!  Ribs hurt.  Grr…

Here’s one I’ve thought about a while, and actually completed a month before.  I know, there are a million of these tutorials online, but none for Taiwan… so there 🙂  Here’s what you need:

1.  old pallet boards (I found mine lying along a paddy road behind some warehouses, and NO, they were not in use, just dumped.  I helped myself.)

2.  remove the rusty old nails – carefully.  I found it difficult to remove all of them because they were sunk into the wood.  So, I just nailed them down in the back.  Not the best idea, but time efficient.

3.  paint if you want another color besides “weathered”

4.  this is where my hack comes in… my printer broke, and I haven’t replaced it yet.  So I chose a font I liked, wrote out the phrase I wanted in my word document, enlarged it until it fit the size I wanted on the board, and traced it carefully with a felt tipped pen.

5.  traced over my paper with a ball point pen onto my board -FIRMLY, so the outline of the letters would be impressed onto the soft wood.

6.  painted the outlined letters with a small flat edged brush in my color of choice.