So first, what I made. These are called Friendship Bags. Along with them you get a little card attached explaining the bag’s contents to you. This is what it says.
Lifesaver – to remind you of the many times others need your help and you need theirs.
Cottonball – cushioned support of friends for the rough roads ahead
Rubberband – a reminder to stay flexible
Candy Kiss – we all need kisses and hugs
Paper Clip – to help hold it all together
Candle – a reminder to let your light shine
Marble – to help keep you rolling or in case you lose one!
Sweet and Sour Candy – to remind you to accept and appreciate the differences in others
Happy Face – smiling not only increases your face value, it’s contagious
Band-Aid – for healing hurt feelings; yours or someone else’s
Eraser – to remind you that every day you can start over with a clean slate
And here is what they look like. Terrible picture, I know, but you get the idea.
Now for what God made… a beautiful sunset which lit up our trees in orange glory! Enjoy these and see you again soon!
I found some yarn in Michael’s that I just fell in love with. I suppose it would be considered a novelty yarn. All I know is that as soon as I touched it I knew I had to make something with it. That something turned out to be a shawl that I found the pattern for in a small book in the store.
AS soon as I find the label I’ll edit this and put down the yarn I used. I can’t find it right now, (blush). It’s a bulky yarn that is kind of like a chenille on steroids. Fuzzier and much softer but with that sort of look. It’s totally lucious to touch and you really just want to sink into it.
This is the shawl I made. I had to learn how to do a Broomstick Lace stitch. It was a very odd stitch to understand, but once I learned it I loved how it looked. The shawl is soooo warm! The color reminds me of Neopolitan Ice Cream. I love how it came out.
When the van first broke down, as it always seems to be the case, it was during that week that we barely got above 0 degrees even during the day. My poor sweetie was out in that all day trying to fix the van. For 4 days he froze his bits and bobs off, and his face was practically numb it was so cold. I decided to try my hand at a helmet liner, or balaclava.
I found lots of patterns online. I started one and it was going great until I got to the part where the opening is. I couldn’t figure that out for anything, so I found another pattern and used that one for the opening. There was a bit of tweaking, but it worked out. The only thing I didn’t like was how short it is. It looked a LOT longer in the picture, even though I know I measured it and made it to the size they called for. Next time I would make it much longer and do it with a bigger hook so that it was more of a dickie look before moving into the neck part.
Still, it fits the sweetie fine and he LOVED wearing it the other day while spending hours snowblowing after the storm. He said his face was actually hot. yay! The yarn is Cascade 220 washable wool in a dark green.
I’ve been wanting to try learning to make baskets. I’m always looking for something different to make to add to my things for sale at the store. I looked at a lot of basket patterns and got the general gist of how it works and set down to make my first ones. These are made out of tshirt yarn that I salvaged from the sweetie’s old tshirts. I like the rag rug look. I’m going to stiffen them up and put a bowl in them to get the shape to really set, but I don’t want them too stiff. Just enough to add a little body to them. I like how they came out overall. I’m thinking of weaving some ribbon in to dress them up a little.
Since I’ve been making nice warm wristers for others and my hands are always cold at my computer, I finally sat down to make myself a pair. I bought this really pretty pattern for a set of cabled fingerless gloves and a cabled headband. I started them last night and one glove is about halfway done, even with having to rip it out and start over. They are going to be soooo soft and pretty and really warm. I’ll get pictures of those up when they’re finished. I’ll also show you my newest earrings, which are made with crochet thread and look like tiny doilies.
Talk to you all again soon!
The next picture is the store where I have my things for sale in town. It’s called Keepin’ It Local and last time I checked, there were over 50 local artisans with items for sale in there. It’s a great place and always changing. There are always new things to see in there. This is a small shot their setup.
My good friends at Cat in the Shack were also there. There are those who make soap. I make soap. But Cat in the Shack takes soap to a true artform. Her soaps are amazing. She does Emu Soaps, Goat Milk Soaps and other unique soaps of all kinds. She also makes lotions, creams and candles. I’m going to shamelessly promote her Pain Aid Cream. It’s ALL natural. So much so that when my puppy ate an entire container of it and I called her, freaking out, to see if I should rush the pup to the vets, she laughed and said don’t worry.. it too will pass. There is not a single thing in there that would hurt the dog…and it didn’t. She didn’t even get the runs. lol.
Anyway, it is by far the best cream for arthritis you will ever use. Unlike those ones in the stores that get burning hot, or worse, freezing cold, her cream is a gentle warm that just soaks in and works before you even realize its doing anything. Next thing you know you forgot your fingers were hurting and they just work better. She gets orders from Physical Therapy places and even hospitals for this cream. She does take online orders and I wholeheartedly and without reserve reccomend her Pain Aid Cream.
It was a great day. The customers were fun and appreciative of all the work of the artisans. It’s a nice feeling. Even if your stuff isn’t someones style, its nice when they appreciate the work and quality of your items. That makes such a difference to the person who makes the items. The fudge was up to par, as usual, and we even got free cider donuts still warm from the oven from the bakers at the farm. How can you go wrong with that?
That day and I made Lilac and Lavender soap. A number of you have asked me to put down my recipe and directions for soap making when I made it, so here it is. Warning… this is going to be a very long post because soap is one of those funny projects that is both very simple, but somewhat complicated, too. I want to be sure my directions are clear and concise because I want your soap to come out lovely, but I also want to keep you all safe. So please read ALL directions and ALL warnings/explanations before doing this on your own. I want all my lovely readers to be safe.
That said I’m not going to get into the science of why this works or get into explaining terms like Saponification. Suffice it to say there are tons of people more knowledgeable about the actual science than I am, though I understand it and I will be posting that information on a different post. This post is how to do it, not why it works.
First the recipe. I’m going to post just two here. One is the most basic white soap you can get and the second one is tweaked a bit to add just a little extra sudsiness and creaminess. I also use Tallow for my soaps. Tallow is rendered beef, sheep and bison fat. Lard is rendered from pigs. Sorry my vegan friends. Tallow is very easy for me to get since we have a slaughterhouse nearby and I get it fresh off the cow there. Tallow makes a very hard bar of soap which is the main reason I use it though. The first recipe is tallow and nothing but the tallow.
Castile soap (which is Olive Oil soap) is mild, but honestly nothing is milder than a plain white bar of homemade tallow soap. A bar lasts forever and there is nothing in it that could irritate even sensitive skins. True castile soap is made with ONLY pure olive oil and can be soft and slippery to the point of feeling slimy sometimes. Many people add other fats to the olive oil to make a more balanced bar of soap, but purists sneer at this.
A tallow bar also makes very little in the way of sudsiness or lather. Commercial soaps show you all that fluffy lather and you think, wow that must really get me clean! Wrong! All you are seeing is wasted money swooshing down the drain. Lather does not clean you, the soap itself does. That’s why those bars of soap also don’t last very long. They practically melt under water and again, there goes money down the drain. Tallow bars are the opposite. They lather (the older a tallow bar is the more it will lather), but not nearly as much as you’re used to seeing if you use commercial bars.
I must also add here a word about Lye. It is a bit harder to get lye than it used to be due to federal laws prohibiting its sale in public stores several years ago. I think the best place to get it is from http://www.boyercorporation.com/ . They especially work with soap crafters so you can buy it in bulk. I think the smallest amount you can get is the case of 12 2lb. cans. Unless you’re making it commercially to sell, that will last you a LONNNNNNG time. This big batch will make enough soap for sweetie and I to last a year or more.
This first recipe is truly the most mild, hard wearing, long lasting soap you can make. It makes approx. 5.5-6 lbs. of soap.
Basic Soap Recipe #1:
5.5 lbs. rendered tallow
12 oz. lye
4 2/3 cups. COLD water
Basic Soap Recipe #2: (this is the one I used for this batch. it makes probably closer to 7 lbs. of soap)
44 oz. rendered tallow
20 oz. olive oil
20 oz. coconut oil
12 oz. lye
32 oz. cold water
Please follow each step in order and READ all directions carefully. Not doing so could potentially cause at the worst, injury; at the least, crappy soap.
Gather everything you need first. Once the process is going you won’t be able to run around finding parts. You will need it all at hand. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM ANYTHING. Glass and stainless steel are best. When you mix lye and cold water it causes a chemical reaction and gets VERY hot. Hot enough to melt plastic. (Trust me…I know).
First, I get out the box I use for the soap. I made this box and it holds exactly the amount that this recipe makes. By the time you get to pouring the soap into the mold/container you can use anything, not just glass or stainless steel. Silicone cake molds (anything silicone) works especially well but even a plastic kitty litter box (a new one of course) will work great. People even use PVC pipe to make little round soaps. The main thing is to line it so that A) the soap doesn’t seep out and B) it’s easier to get out of the mold. I made this mold for the amount this recipe makes. (approx. 6-7 lbs.). You can buy really pretty ones with pretty wood,etc. but I’m really proud of this one since I made it all by myself
I prefer lining it with “Press and Seal” from Glad. It works really well. It’s a little sticky on one side so you can really form fit it to the box. I had to also add some saran wrap today up the sides because I ran out of the Press and Seal.
NOTE: The liner is just to help me get it out of my box. If you’re using something plastic or silicone, you can skip this step since you can bend those enough to pop the hardened soap out.
NOTE: Whatever container you end up using, you will need some kind of a lid for it. Cut up cardboard boxes can be a lid even. Styrofoam core board, wood, anything so long as your soap is completely covered. Since you’ll need to wrap your soap up completely once you pour it in, you’ll need a lid that covers the top of it totally.
Once you have your container all set, it’s time to move on to your fats.
2. Be sure to weigh out all your fats carefully. Soap is not like a stew where you can fudge a little here and there. Nope, it’s a chemical process and as in any lab, the ingredients need to be weighed/measured carefully. Also, with the method I’m going to give here, it helps if your fats are at least room temperature and broken into small chunks. It makes it a lot easier to get them melted down.
((NOTE: I USE A SOMEWHAT DIFFERENT METHOD AT THIS POINT. IT IS MUCH FASTER AND EASIER THAN THE WAY YOU WILL USUALLY SEE. I’LL DO A POST ON THE MORE STANDARD METHOD ANOTHER TIME.))
Put all your hard fats (the tallow and coconut oil) into a large stainless steel (or glass) pot. (I use a cheap SS stew pot. It’s tall so I don’t have to worry about splashing).
Honestly, these chunks are too big, but they were very soft since I had them sitting out and its hot today.
Now comes the scary part to most folks… the lye.
Clearly mark any items you use SOAP or POISON, whatever you want so that you never use those items for good ever again. I keep all my soap making things in a separate tote. MIX THE LYE/WATER IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA. The fumes, like the lye itself, is caustic. USE RUBBER GLOVES AND MASK FOR THIS PART. DO NOT stir with a wooden spoon. The Lye will sort of…eat… the wood and leave little bits of wood floating in your lye mix. SS spoon or those really heavy plastic ones (the really hard thick plastic stuff) will work. Just don’t leave it in there longer than it takes to stir it enough to dissolve the lye and it’ll be fine.
You will need (for this particular method you need less items) a large stainless steel bowl (it will need to have enough room for the 32 oz. of water and room to add the 12 oz. lye to it). I prefer something with extra room so that I have less worry about splashing, but stir very carefully anyway.
2. Measure out your COLD water and slowly add the lye to the water, stirring gently till the lye is dissolved completely. NEVER ADD COLD WATER TO THE LYE. (it makes a real mess and could be dangerous). You’ll notice it will get very hot, very fast. It shoots to over 200 degrees almost immediately so don’t be touching your container.
3. At this point you have fats in a pot and a hot liquid lye mixture. Now CAREFULLY, I mean really CAREFULLY and slowly pour the hot lye liquid into the pot with the fats. Start stirring and keep stirring. The fats will melt due to the very hot lye/water. This is what I meant about not having time to go running around looking for things. KEEP stirring. I wear a mask while I do this at least until most of the fat is melted.
I usually use a stick blender for this part, but alas, after my last kitchen rearranging day, I can’t find it. So I’m using a steel whisk instead. It worked just fine. This picture is right after I poured in the lye and you can see how much has melted already.
4. When all the hard fats are melted, pour in the liquid fats. (the olive oil). At this point your soap is starting to get a pretty creamy look. When you add the liquid fat, this is also the time to add other things like colorants, EO (essential oils), anything else you want in it like honey, pulverized oatmeal, etc. I put in my Lilac/Lavender EO a friend made for me.
Now stir until you get to “trace”. Pick up your spoon/stick blender (whatever you’re using to stir it with). If it leaves a little “trace” behind, you’re there. Some people describe the “trace” as a little mound of soap that takes a second or two to disappear back into the mix. The soap does not have to be really thick just yet, it just needs to be well mixed with no streaks of remaining oil.
This picture is from Ask.com. They had a good one and I didn’t.
5. Now its time to pour into your mold. I poured 75% of my soap into my mold. Then I added some colorant to what remained, mixed it good then poured it on top of the already setting up white that was already in my box. I then swirled a knife around in it to give the bars a swirly mix effect. You will also notice that your soap is a yellowy creamy color. That’s ok. It will lighten as it cures and hardens. My soaps are not “bright white” anyway because I don’t bleach them. I render my own tallow and it comes out a pretty creamy light yellow naturally.
6. Put your cover over your soap and bundle it up good in your blankets. You can’t overblanket soap. And you’ll be surprised at how much heat it puts out. You’ll be able to feel it through your blankets.
DON’T PEEK FOR AT LEAST 2 HOURS, BUT LONGER IS BETTER.
This is the hardest part for me. I love to look at it and see how its turning out. lol. Let the soap sit for 12-72 hours. You can test this if you want by inserting a thin knife into it. If it goes in and out smoothly and comes out clean you can usually take it out of your container and cut it into bars. If it comes out gooey then leave it longer.
Carefully cut your bars (again with something you won’t use with food again). Stack the bars in a pyramid shape so that they get air circulation around them. You’ll need to rotate them in the pyramids so that all bars get good air around them.
THIS SOAP NEEDS TO AGE FOR 3 – 4 WEEKS BEFORE BEING USED.
Remember the part about it being a chemical process? Well that process continues even while they are sitting and aging. if you use them too soon, the lye is too “fresh” and it can irritate your skin. It’s kind of what happens when you use fresh horse manure on your little plants…it burns them. Fresh lye is the same way. Some folks say after 2 weeks you can use them. I prefer 3-4 weeks.
I wait until the next day to wash my utensils/bowls/pot. It is essentially soap by then and easier to wash.
So here it is 3:30 am and I just unboxed my soap and cut it. It probably could have waited until morning but I was impatient. I really wanted to see how it came out. It’s a little softer and hotter than when I usually take it out so I stacked it and then recovered it with quilts again. But here is the unveiling!
Pretty loaf, isn’t it? Smells great, too. The color came out nice. I was worried about that. It looks better now than it did in the bowl that’s for sure. This block is more square than usual. I did play with the hard oils a little (I’ve been doing it a while now and knew how much I could ).
The slices were way too square and big so I cut each one in half. That makes them just a little small, but at least they will fit in the hand nicely. Tried for a little bit more swirl, but the box was really full and I didn’t want to take the chance on splashing it and wasting some of it. I still like how it came out, though.
And here it is all stacked. I got 44 bars of soap from this batch. That’s gonna last a long time. With the smaller bars I’ll probably use 3 a month at the most. That’s just under a full 15 months of soap made today. I’ll be making more for some Christmas pressies, but not bad for a day’s work.
Hope you liked this tute and hope it made sense. I’ll be doing more soap posts since there seems to be a lot of interest in it.
Yep, it was that time. Time to give the blog a facelift and a more “fallish” look. The welcome sign in the middle is a sign that I have in my kitchen. I love it and thought it would make a pretty header image. A little tweaking of color and I made a background image to match the fall leaves behind the welcome sign. I really like how it came out. How is everyone enjoying the Eagles’ songs? I turn it on and just let it play in the background while I’m working in my room.
This is a cribbage board for those unfamiliar with the game. I found a pile of them at a yard sale a while back and forgot about them. I have 8. They seem to be made out of red oak and are heavy for their size. I think they must have been made for a school or something as there were a lot of them. They all have pencil marks for direction on which way to go and a shallow groove every five holes for easy counting.
What I have in mind is to sand them down to get the pencil marks and any surface dirt off then maybe stain them. They are a beautiful oak so perhaps oil them and then just seal them. I need to make pegs for each one which shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.
I also thought maybe I would make a felted bag for them with a little pouch to hold the pegs so they don’t get lost. Might be looking for help on that one.
What do you guys think? Have any other suggestions?
I make my own soap. I use lye and do a modified process usually. I haven’t had to make soap for just us for over a year and a half now, but the supply is getting low. I have a friend who is a professional soap maker and she is kind enough to mix me up a custom EO, Lilac and Lavender, but until it’s ready, I need some soap. So I grabbed all my soap leftovers, spare chunks and a few never gonna use balls and started shredding them down.
Once it was all shredded I added some shredded coconut oil that I had in the freezer for when I make my next big batch and poured in about a cup or so of milk. Now whole milk makes it a little creamier because of the fat in it, but all I had was low fat which is why I added a bit of coconut oil. Coconut oil also makes it lather a bit more.
Then I turned the oven to 200 degrees and stuck the pot in the oven. The pot is stainless steel. Only use stainless steel or glass when working with glass. I didn’t time this but I checked it about an hour later or so and this is what it looked like once I gave it a little stir in the pan. Don’t stir roughly or whip because it will get frothy-ish and that looks ugly later.
Since someone may be wondering…this soap is already cured. It is pure soap and there is no danger of lye anymore. I don’t need to use my separated soap bowls and pans because of that. All I have to do is wash these up and all is well. In fact my pan will be really spotless.
Most of this soap was a chamomile cucumber (and yes I used real cucumber and real chamomile in it) so it had a light green color and smelled mostly of fresh chamomile. I also took a good sized handful of oatmeal and about a 1/4 cup of lavender buds and pulverized them into a fine powder.
The lavender will give it pretty flecks and will add its aroma to the light chamomile scent and the oatmeal is just really good for the skin, specially sensitive skin.
Once I let the soap melt about another half hour or so in the oven I took it out and gently stirred in the powdered oatmeal and lavender. I then poured it into one of my soap molds.
Notice it has darkened a bit? That’s ok. If this was fresh soap, there would be other things to do at this point, but since it’s just a rebatch it’s pretty much done already. I let it cool then stuck it in the freezer fora bit to finish cooling it and popped it out of the silicone pan. All that’s left is to cut it into bars.
If I was making this for someone else I would have been a little more fussy about the edges when I cut it and used a heated knife blade to smooth them all out. Since it’s just for us though I don’t care about the edges.
As you can see it has already lightened up quite a bit. It’s hard to tell in this picture, but the bars are a nice oatmeal color with little tiny flecks of lavender floating in it. You won’t feel them when you are washing, but they do look pretty. And the soap smells wonderful.
Soon as I get my EO from my friend I’ll be making my large batch and I’ll do a video step by step with that.