Look What Mommy Made

A creative, home-made, hand-made blog

How to Make DIY Mint Syrup

DIY Mint SyrupIf you saw my post about how to get a free mint plant, than you’ll love this!

DIY MINT SYRUP!

What?! Yes! I tell you, it’s awesome.. if you like mint. You can use flavored syrups in a variety of drinks, and some are even good on ice cream or other desserts. This syrup is something I use in my iced tea, and I love it. LOVE.

It’s super simple, if you don’t think you’ll use a lot, don’t make a whole lot.

What You’ll Need:

A jar, bottle, or other clean, recycled container (I used an empty Amaretto bottle)

1/2 cup Sugar

1 cup Water

Mint

After you have a decent sized mint plant, and it’s growing wild, you can start “harvesting” it. I waited until mine started to flower. (Side note: any herb or edible plant has it’s best flavor right before flowering. You can discourage flowering by “pinching”, or cutting, off those buds, which will encourage more branching.)

All I did was take my kitchen scissors and go to town. I didn’t want to cut it back too hard, just in case our wonderful summer weather decided to heat up too much, but I had roughly 1 foot stems on the plant and I cut most of those down to roughly 6 inches. I left some stems longer, and just removed the buds, but I was also making a rather large batch!

I know that crushing the leaves and stems releases the flavor, but I just didn’t want to chop all this mint. I took it by the handfuls and just crushed it by twisting and bending it. Your hands will smell delightfully minty. As will your kitchen. If you aren’t like me, and you want to chop it up, go crazy. Chop up everything. Stems and leaves.

Making Mint Syrup

Get a decent sized pot and add your water and your sugar. If you want more, the ratio is 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. This should produce a fairly syrupy product. If you want it a little thinner, you can add a little more water.

Turn the heat on medium and stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, turn the heat up to med-high and look for a rolling simmer, not really a hard boil. Once you get there, let it simmer/boil for a few minutes, 2-3. (Side note: It’s SUPER IMPORTANT NOT TO BOIL THIS TOO LONG. A few minutes will do. 2-3.) turn off the heat and remove the pot.

NOW.. Throw in your mint! If you were like me and didn’t chop it up, then shove it in. Stir the syrup and make sure the mint is covered or at least wet. Cover your pot with a lid. The minty flavor oils can evaporate, so try to leave the lid in place. I know how nice it smells, but just leave it.

Leave it alone. For a while. The heat from the syrup will “cook” the mint. After oh, 10-15 minutes, go ahead a take a look inside. The mint should resemble cooked greens, like cooked spinach. It will be darker green than it was when we started. If not, stir it around again and leave it alone again.

If everything looks great, it’s time to strain the mint into our bottle. I used a coffee filter in a funnel. It’s what I had on hand! And it worked!

Making Mint DIY Syrup

Just pour everything into the strainer/filter and funnel, slowly! You don’t want to be over zealous in your excitement for that first minty iced tea and spill syrup everywhere (like me. Cough. Cough).

Once it’s all strained, just squeeze the mint, or push on it with the back of a spoon to get out any extra syrup then throw away the mint. It’s all used up.

TA-DA! You have just made minty syrupy goodness!

Mint Iced Tea

Mint Syrup to taste. I just “eyeball it”, but I’m guessing it’s close to a tablespoon per 16 oz. glass. It might be more or less, just depends on how minty you want it and how strong your tea is! 😉

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How to Get Your Own Mint Plant for Free

Mint Plant for Free
If you like to garden so that you can really home-make things yourself, than you’ll enjoy this one.

I like mint flavor. I like the smell. I’m not in love or anything, but I find it pleasant, and even enjoy mint tea on occasion. When I found out that mint plants were easy to grow (and I mean, they-turn-into-a-weed-if-you’re-not-careful, easy) I wanted one.

I’ve actually grown it before, having tried sowing it from seed. This is uber difficult. Apparently, mint seeds have a 50% chance of growing, so out of a seed packet, you’ll get lucky if you get 50% of those seeds to grow. (However, germinating the seeds in a paper towel first, does do some good, that’s another post!).

So anyway, if you’re like me, and you’re broke more often than not, You’ll love finding a way to get this plant without paying for it.

Here are some ways to do it:

  1. Ask around! Mint is SO prolific and easy to grow that if someone has ever made the mistake of putting it directly into their garden, they will be digging it up for years and years. Most people that have a decent sized plant will be more than happy to provide you a plant or two.
  2. Ask for a cutting. If your friends or family don’t really have a lot of mint, but they do have a plant. Mint is SUPER easy to grow from a cutting, and I will explain how to do this in a moment.
  3. Freecycle.org : Go look on Freecycle.org and ask for a plant or two. If you’re frugal, you should know all about this site. It’s like an email list/group of people that all post things they want/need or are looking to get rid of. It’s all for free.
  4. Lastly, you can do what I did, and find some!

Okay, so number 4 is pretty vague. What I did was found out that one of my favorite restaurants had mint growing outside. I have been their enough to have seen them hacking at it with a weedwhacker. That smell is distinct. You can’t mistake mint.

So the last time we went to eat there (which was nearly 6 months or more ago, now) I pinched off a decent stem with my fingers. I had planned to do this before we left, so I had a wet paper napkin from dinner. I put the “cutting” into this paper napkin, making sure the “cut” end was inside the wet napkin.

Once I got home, I picked off the last two leaves (make sure you get one that has 3-4 leaf “sets”, for good measure) and I put the cut end into a cup of water. I also made sure the area I had picked the leaves off was in the water, because this is where the roots will shoot out from first. I put it in my window and made sure to keep the water at the same level.

Growing Mint in a cup

After about 2 weeks, I had roots, and the plant was ready for the outdoors! TA-DA! Mint plant for free.

Growing Mint

Here, you can see the roots starting to grow.

Now all you have to do is get some soil (I used top soil), poke a hole, put the plant in, and cover. Water regularly until you begin seeing new growth (which won’t be long). Once it gets in there, it will start going crazy! It likes sun, so put it somewhere sunny!

Growing Mint

I put mine into cinder blocks, as part of a raised bed. This will keep it from spreading anywhere I don’t want it!

Good luck on your search!

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3 DIY Gifts for Christmas

DIY Gifts for Christmas

Well, I’ve been away for a while, what, with the holidays and family and craziness. So I thought to make up for the lost time, I would share 3 projects in one post! 🙂

Make Your Own Personalized Mug1.) DIY Personalized Mugs – Porcelain paint pens (or sharpies), mugs, and oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Leave alone over night.

Make your own skull shirt2.) DIY Skull T-shirt – Two old shirts, one stenciled and cut out, then sewn together.

DIY Coffee Creamer Sample Gift

3.) DIY Coffee Creamer Sample Gift – Small glass bottles, a little of your favorite coffee creamer, then freeze. Do this with 3-6 creamers and leave in freezer until you are ready to give away.

Hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think, or if you have any ideas that use these projects! I’d love to hear about them, or maybe even feature them! 🙂

-Roxanne, LWMM

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DIY Personalized Mugs

Here’s a fun one. My mother has drank coffee since I can remember. In fact, I remember making her coffee when I was young, and carefully trying to walk with the cup back to her bedroom without spilling it, to wake her up in the morning. My brother and I both did this all the time. So now, I’m older, and I, too, appreciate coffee. So when my mother asked for coffee mugs this year for Christmas, you know that I had to make something, and it had to work with my non-existent budget. 😉

So here we go!

What You’ll Need:

  • Mugs from a thrift store, white or light colored
  • Sharpies or Porcelain Pen
  • Oven

So this is super simple. Get some mugs from a thrift store. Our local Salvation Army has plenty of houseware items like this, and I scored a set of four matching mugs for less than 2$. My husband and I have somehow managed to accumulate what seems to be hundreds of Sharpie markers, so I had no problem there. (BUT I did end up buying paint pens, and I’ll explain why later).

Clean your mugs and remove any stickers from the store. I ran mine through the dishwasher and sanitize cycle. Find some quirky sayings, or your favorite quotes, or anything you want to write or draw on your mugs. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, go ahead and draw or write on your mugs.

Once your oven is heated up, use a shallow pan or cookie sheet to place your mugs on. Then pop them in the oven and wait. I heated mine up for 30 minutes. The first time. I say the first time because after I pulled out the first mug and let it cool for an hour or two, the sharpie scratched right off when I used my fingernail. This freaked me out a little, so I bought those paint pens. HOWEVER, after I did the other 3 mugs with the paint pens, and I was ready to clean the first mug off and try again, the sharpie wouldn’t come off! I scrubbed it, and ran it through the dishwasher and it wasn’t coming off. EVENTUALLY, using LOTS of elbow grease and a “scratchless” scrubby sponge, all of the sharpie came off and I redid the mug with the paint pens to match the others. (But it was apparent to me, that the sharpie method was just fine!)

On the other three mugs, I did use 350 degrees for one hour and I recommend leaving your mugs overnight before throwing them into the dishwasher. They ARE dishwasher safe! (Especially if you use the paint pens)

Have fun! These are really fun, and if you have older kids, they can make some, too, for the perfect permanent artwork. 🙂

-Roxanne, LWMM

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DIY Coffee Creamer Sampler Gift

In my post, DIY Personalized Mugs, I talked about my mother’s love for coffee. Well, since she asked for coffee mugs, I wanted to add something to make it even cuter. So, since I recently bought myself some International Delight York Peppermint liquid coffee creamer, it gave me an idea. I could put a few “samples” of coffee creamers into her mugs. I don’t know if she has tried the ones I plan to give her, but I know my mom’s tastes, and I figure she’ll either like them or she’ll have tried them already! 😉

What You’ll Need:

  • Small Bottles or Jars
  • Coffee Creamers

So, anyway, I had an empty sample bottle from a company that sent me a sample syrup, and decided it would be perfect. You can collect a few from Cracker Barrel, with their glass maple syrups, or you can find them all over the place. Find something cute and go with it. You just want to make sure they are small and not too big. Its supposed to be a “Sample Pack”.

I cleaned my bottles and took off the stickers. If you need to, use a razor to get off anything particularly stuck. Alcohol, q-tips/cotton balls, and a razor work well for this.

After the bottles were clean, I poured in my creamers as I opened them. Since I don’t regularly have two or three open at once, I did this over a period of time. Since I knew it was going to be a Christmas gift, I began this in November, freezing the creamers until I am ready to give them to her. I wrote what each one was on the bottle. (And that isn’t so pretty, but you can make it prettier using your own stickers and a printer, or prettier handwriting! :p.)

Once you have as many creamer samples as you want to make, freezing as you go, if you did it like me, then you will want to package them up! I plan to simply place them into the DIY mugs that I have made and wrap them up with little gift bags or tissue paper and ribbon.

Have fun with it. You can even make DIY syrups instead, and use those! Happy Holidays!

-Roxanne, LWMM

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Homemade Chocolate Syrup!

So, by now, if you’ve been following my blog, you’ve heard about my non-existent budget. Well, like most people, my husband and I like to have chocolate ever-so-often. In fact, it led me on my search for cheap and easy chocolate recipes, like the Recipes in a Mug and my absolute favorite quick and easy, one-pan chocolate brownie recipe, ever.

Well, I just happened to find this recipe while searching on a coupon website. It’s great for chocolate milk and all the other lovely things that you can make with Chocolate Syrup!

So here it is,

How to Make Chocolate Syrup!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vanilla

Mix cocoa and water in a decent sized saucepan (to be safe, use a large one!).  Heat it up and stir it to dissolve the cocoa.  Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve it, too.  Boil this mixture for 3 minutes over medium heat, but be careful not to let it get too hot and boil over (which it will do very easily if you aren’t careful!)  Turn off the heat and add the salt and vanilla. Let it cool completely (which can take a few hours, honestly) and then pour it into a glass jar, or use a funnel to pour it into a recycled plastic container to pour from. 😉

Voila! You have just made chocolate syrup!

It will thicken in the fridge some, and it’s runny when its still warm, so don’t worry about any of that too much! 🙂

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We’ve used it over ice cream, in milk, and over brownies! It has been great and its cheap and easy to make!

ENJOY!

-Roxanne, LWMM

To give credit where its due: recipe was found here.
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