Friday, April 6, 2012

One More Thing

Here's a pic of a shawl I made for myself. I make stuff for everyone else, so I decided that I had some lovely leftovers and made this shawl.
I finished this a couple of months ago, but I never posted it. It is all acrylic yarns from leftover afghan projects this past Christmas.

Bars of Soap

Here are the bars I cut from the soap log. After I took this picture, I cut them in half again because they were pretty big. But this will give you a good idea what the log looks like when it's cut.
Bars of Soap
Another high-tech soaping tool. It's a drywall mud knife that I bought just for this use. It cuts the soap like a hot knife through butter! If I sold this soap, I'd probably buy a few nice molds for aesthetic value. But it's just for me and hubby so we don't need to be fancy. I also have a mitre box to put the loaf in to make even cuts. I use it when the log fits and I'm giving the soap away as gifts.

Here are some reasons I like homemade soap.
 - It smells clean when you pick it up.
 - It smells good when you use it.
 - It has all of the glycerine in it, which is very moisturizing.
 - It has no funky detergents or added ingredients.
 - If I use it for shampoo every day, I don't need a hair conditioner.
 - When I color my hair, which is never anymore unless I get highlights, I still don't need a conditioner.
 - It's great to use in the winter because your skin doesn't dry out as much with it.
 - It's very gentle even though it's made with lye. Lye reacts with the oils and the danger of it goes away.
 - Best of all, it's fun to make!

Finally Soap

Here is my soap the day after. It hardened enough to turn it out and cut it.
Soap Log
You have to line the mold with plastic wrap or the soap will stick to the waxy film on the carton. I used olive oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, corn oil and castor oil. The castor oil gives it a really really great lather. You use only a little bit, like an ounce or two, and you can't even smell it in there. Thank goodness for that!

Soaping (continued)

Here is what the soap looks like when it starts to 'volcano'. That's soap lingo for fluffing up and trying to crawl out of the pot.
Soap Volcano
I've already stirred this down once. I let it go again until it gets oily looking. Then I'll do the 'zap' test. That is when you touch your finger to the lye and just touch it to the end of your tongue. If you get 'zapped', then it's not done cooking. I got zapped right here. That's why I let it go again. The second time I didn't get zapped and it was oily looking like I wanted it.
Soap Log
I didn't add fragrance to this batch. I like it best without fragrance because it smells fresh like outside air when there is no fragrance to it. I made a chocolate swirl last time and it smells good. The only bad thing is that you use real cocoa for the coloring and it can look like potty stuff on a towel if you don't remember to rinse your hands after handling it.

Note my high-tech soap mold. It was an organic milk carton I rigged. It works well.


I am almost out of soap. I use homemade soap to wash my hair and the rest of me. I love the lather I get from homemade soap. If you've never tried any, you ought to invest in a bar. I guarantee you'll become a 'soap snob' like me. That's what the hard-core soapmakers call those who won't use anything but gentle, homemade soaps.
Soaping Supplies
I like to make my soap because I love the chemistry of it. I enjoy figuring out which oils to use and how much lye to use. It's really cool to do, but very dangerous to do. If you look, you'll see my goggles and dust mask to protect me from the airborne lye particles. Lye can kill you if you inhale it. The lye is in the brown paper bag to the left of the gallon jug. By the way, the gallon jug is vinegar in case I get lye on my skin and need to neutralize it quickly.

The stick blender is for blending the oils and lye together until it reaches 'trace'. That's soap lingo for getting thick like pudding.

This picture shows me in the process of letting the lye mixture cook. I get to sit back a while and let it do its thing. I won't have to do anything for about 1/2 hour.

More Strawberries

Here I go with the sugars, again. I can't help it. I love strawberry season. Uh, huh.
Homemade strawberry shortcake with a dollop of canned whipped cream and milk. Yum!

I said I love strawberry season!

Now that they are coming on quickly, I'll be making my strawberry jam for the year. I'll probably post about that later.

Strawberries Now

Here are the strawberries now.
Late Night Snack
Oh, yeah! Late night snack the other night. It sure is great to eat homegrown foods. They always taste so much better than storebought. I say they 'taste like sunshine'. ; )

I've been using rice milk and almond milk in place of cow's milk in order to keep down the cholesterol. I just read that sugars and carbs contribute a lot to the placque buildup in the arteries. Rice milk and almond milk are high in sugars. Ok. I'm not getting fats or animal protein, which is supposed to contribute to building placque. And sugars are also a culprit. I'm a sugar junkie like most everyone else. Does that mean I'll have to give up my cereal? I hope not. I love grains and fruits and milk. Maybe I'll try to modify my cereal snack a bit.


In February, we were busy transplanting our strawberries into new soil. We should have done this last December and we had a lot of babies to transplant.
About 250 Plants
This is our old garden. We planted a couple of rows last year to see how they would do in this area. They did really well so we decided to plant the strawberries here.
About 90 More
Well...we had leftovers. This is where I usually plant the strawberries. There are still 50-100 plants in the box you can barely see in the top left of this photo. I didn't get to amend the soil and transplant them. They are doing really well anyway.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mama Cave (continued)

Here's another pic of the other side.
Chicken Food Barrels
Here is the other side of the coop. Chicken food in the barrels and oyster shell in the tin bucket.

My time to brag...see that little brownish bench to the left? I made that because I saw one just like it in a catalog. It was easy to make. I used deck screws to hold it together. It's not going to break any time soon. I'll be making a few more of these to keep on hand for company around the fire pits.

Mama Cave

Here is the Mama Cave part of the coop.
My Inherited Bench
Bench to do my potting and other stuff on. It will mostly be potting.

New Coop!

Well, it's not really new. It was actually a storage shed we made into a coop / potting shed. I like to call my side my 'Mama Cave'. : ) We've lost a few hens and all of our roos so we're only going to keep a dozen or so instead of the 40+ we had. Downsizing is everywhere!
Front View
Back View
We do have wire over the top because of hawks. A hawk got one of them last year and it wasn't pretty. Funny thing is, we had chicken wire on top of the last one and the darned hawk pulled up a loose end and crawled in, we think. This one is tied in really well. I have the muscles to prove it!


New Nest Boxes

Yes, that's linoleum on the floor. I wanted to make it easy to clean so we went out and got remnants.

BTW, I found the setting to make more than one pic fit into a post.

I spoke too soon. I may need a better ethernet card. I replaced a blown one and didn't realize 'good price' meant 'slow moving'. I'll need GBs instead of mbps.

Anyhow, I've cleaned it and it works like a dream!

Table Napkins

In case you haven't noticed yet, I cannot publish more than one pic at a time for some reason. I've got to check my settings so please bear with me. Here's the next installment.

Did you ever get sick and tired of buying paper napkins? Do you hate to have pieces sticking to your fingers when you use paper napkins? I did. So I went to my trusty fabric stash and unearthed a bit of forgotten cotton cloth to make these.
They work really well. They clean up really well. I'm saving trees. I love being environmentally mindful. I try to use what I have before I buy. These only took a few minutes a piece to make. The hardest part was trying to figure out what size. The red and gold are 18" and the flowered ones are 15". I really don't know which size I like better. I guess I better make more of each size.

Doggie Stuff

Here's another thing I've been up to. I love my babies, which just happen to be furbabies. I decided to try to make them 'gourmet' biscuits. They looked and smelled so yummy! The girls thought so, too.

As for the recipe, I just make them up as I go. I use whole wheat flour, water, egg, some garlic powder (just a dash or two), grated carrots or other veggies, some water to bind. I roll them out on the counter in corn meal to about 1/4 inch. The cornmeal makes them look so dusty. Bake them and let them cool. I use what I have and take it from there. The girls NEVER turned them down. I've made batches now and again. I don't want to spoil them too much! Yeah, right.

Catching Up...Again

Once again, it's been a while since I've blogged. The weather has been unseasonably nice here in SC. We are enjoying being outside and getting the yard spruced up for the summer season. We get summer really early here. Like in April / May. However, the temps have been in the 80's and very close to the 90's already! Whew!

Here's a project I finished for a baby shower in March. A lovely young couple had a baby girl. This turned out very nice, if I may say so myself. ; )
Violet Brynn's Round Jacob's Ladder