When things get stressful, we all need a bit of time to chill out and relax. When you can’t escape town or get away to a spa, it’s nice to have options for relaxing at home. I’m sharing with you three simple formulations for easy bath treats you can whip up yourself in just a few minutes. Check out the video, then scroll down for the ratios.
Fizzy Bath Salts
1 T. corn starch
2T. baking soda
2 T. citric acid
3 drops essential oil
Mix all together, stirring to get out clumps. Pour into bath.
2 T. epsom salts
2 T. coarse sea salt
3 drops essential oil
Mix all together.
Chamomile Oatmeal Tub Tea
2 T. dried chamomile blossoms
2 T. colloidal oatmeal (or regular oatmeal)
Mix together and place in a cloth bag or empty tea bag. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Place filled bag into pot. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes. Dump into bath water, being careful to adjust water temperature to allow for the temperature of the tea. Discard contents of bag (if using cloth) after bath.
Which one of these sounds the best to you? Comment below to let me know which treat you made and how you liked it.
It sat on my bathroom counter for years, “it” being a large cork with a styrofoam hemisphere glued on top and seashells covering the styrofoam. I’d had it for years. Way back when Peter and I were dating or engaged – I honestly can’t remember which Christmas it was – his brother and his family had given me a glass jar filled with red and green m&m’s and topped with this seashell-covered lid. The majority of the shells were augers, a small spiral shell that is easy to find along the Crystal Coast. Once the m&m’s were history (my love of m&m’s is legendary among my friends and family members and was a running gag in grad school), that jar made a lovely addition to my bathroom counter, often filled with cotton balls.
A few years ago, my younger daughter accidentally knocked the jar off the counter, leaving me with just the lid. I’m pretty sure my husband’s sister-in-law had painstakingly glued all those shells onto the lid herself, had designed it from shells gathered over the course of numerous trips to the family’s beach house. Because of that, I couldn’t bring myself just to trash it, and as I was striving towards decluttering the counter top, I really didn’t feel replacing the jar was a high priority.
One morning over breakfast as I was staring out the window at the grapevine trellis edging its way to winter’s dormancy, it came to me. I could make grapevine wreaths! I wouldn’t even have to buy them; I could harvest my own grapevines and make them myself. A little later that morning, the shell-covered lid caught my eye, and the idea of making beach-themed wreaths for Christmas gelled.
I immediately set about twining the vines into wreaths. I think I got a bit overly ambitious in my harvesting. My husband, Peter, got into the action, too. After a little trimming and tucking, they looked great! (These are before the trimming and tucking.)
I made a video of the designing of these, complete with a view of the final results.
I hung these right beside the front door, and I am pleased with how they turned out and how they look. Although it looks like they’re strung together, I left them separate so I could hang them differently in other years. I’m also excited to be able to showcase the beautiful shells that were originally on the jar lid and give them new life.
Happy crafting, and please post your project pictures! I’d love to see them!
I thought that I would change up my blog. I was thinking of one of my friends at the time I was writing this and decided that I would act as if I was talking to her and came up with questions she might ask. Hope this answers some of your questions!
Friend: What does the soap look like?
Me: The soap is pink with a fun amount of sparkles and a mango sorbet fragrance. With it being my first soap I would add a hint of blue to the pink color in the future. Mom says that I should start with one color, but I added sparkles to get close to the desired effect.
Friend: What good qualities does your soap have that will make people want it?
Me: It will be a small bar which will be easy for kids (and adults) to hold. Its fun fragrance will (ahem, should) make kids look forward to showering without bubblegum (take it from a young spurt, bubblegum can smell icky or get tiring). The soap has sparkles which gleam in the light some. It is very moisturizing, lather is a definite, and it is hard. I was rinsing off my cutting board after cutting it and I had a great lather. I love the soap (I kept a bar for myself).
Friend: If you were to sell it, what would you call it?
Me: Pink Paradise* or Pink Paradise Falls**. I’m leaning towards PPF, though if I do PP then I can do a series with Blue Paradise, Green, Orange, Purple, etc. I think that I’ll make another PP next year for sale, then every other month another color. I will be doing another soap (for sale) this year with the same recipe, and it will be Christmas-y. That will be sold online and at the Triangle area EPA show in November. I also do a show here called the Pender County Spring Fest.
Friend: How did you think the soap would turn out compared to how it turned out?
Me: I thought it would turn out sharper, more vivid, pinker. The top looks pretty and if the whole soap were that color, then the soap would look beautiful. The top is a powdery pink that, in my opinion, looks like pixie dust. The bottom is a sort of magenta, but not that dark, mixed with sparkles that add a welcoming touch. I really thought that the sparkles would come out more, that it would be darker or lighter.
Friend: What were some of your feelings as you made this soap?
Me: I was feeling exhilarated, happy, worried, slightly panicked, joyful, and free. I can make whatever I want (within reason) on any soap, swirl, etc. I was also very happy that Mom said I could. Truth be told, I don’t like Melt & Pour as much. They take up time freezing them and you have to monitor it. You can make a CP and leave it alone.
Friend: Give us some brief how-to’s.
Me: First, gather your supplies. Since I’m doing small batches then everything can be done in a 4 Cup measuring cup. Bigger batches are done in buckets.
4 cup measuring cup (4 cupper) Small container (yogurt container sort)
Spatula Wooden spoon
Big container (such as the containers you get when you order a quart of Chinese soup)
Oils, Lye, etc.
Goggles, Gloves, etc.
Soap rag (old baby diapers, washcloths)
Not all of your oils are going to be liquid. Put on your goggles, gloves, etc. and get the smaller container. Measure out your lye. In the big container, measure out your water (or ice). With the wooden spoon stir lye and water together but be sure to hold your breath; otherwise the fumes can hurt your throat. Once dissolved, set aside. You can take the protective gear off. Now measure out your solid oils. Mine were coconut, palm, and cocoa butter. Melt them in the microwave until liquid. Now you add your liquid oils. Mine were olive and avocado. Mix all your oils together and set them aside. Take another small container and scoop some of the oil mixture into it. Add your color to it and stir until smooth. Set your color aside. Measure out your fragrance and set aside.
Put your protective gear back on. Dump lye mixture into the oils. Take the stick blender and bring the mixture to a trace. It will be mixed together but thick. If you’re making tomato soup and it’s just out of the can, that’s about how thick it should be. Add the fragrance. Now you have one of two options. The soap will be a creamy white. You can add the color mixture now and stir the fragrance and color in, OR, you can stir in fragrance then add color. If you do option #2 then you have the option of not stirring the color in all the way and getting a swirl. Either way, when you get done, put it in a silicone mould, scrape it out (this is where the spatula comes in), and cover it with a box lined with cling wrap. Insulate your soap by covering it with towels and let rest for at least 24 hours before unmoulding. Take the soap rag and wipe your equipment before rinsing under warm water. “Make” it in a soap program and it should tell you how many days it has to cure (you can use it after it cures, usually about a month).
Pinterest can be my worst enemy. Pictures of lovely architecture, House Beautiful-worthy living rooms free of clutter and toys. Clever organizational tools put together from thrift store finds. And all this from home educating moms of seven kids who seem to be able to do it all. Seriously, Pinterest is not the website for the insecure.
Our living room is cluttered – painfully cluttered. The girls don’t seem to understand the basic concept of “pick up after yourself when you’re done.” It gets cleaned about three times a year. Other than that, though, I think we are doing well. I never really expected to be doing anything like homesteading. but over the weekend, I was told that I am enviable. OK. That’s pretty nice, though I never expected to be.
We had another weekend of glorious productivity. It started with restocking these beer soaps. On the left (the greyish green) is all natural basil and lime. Essential oils of Thai basil and lime blend together in this delightful blend with notes of licorice, pepper, and lime. The tan soap is Sweet Cinnamon & Clove. This was the first beer soap I ever made, and these bars go quickly.
These are just a few of the cucumbers that came out of our garden. We ended up harvesting about twelve pounds of cucumbers, all of which became delicious bread & butter and dill pickles.
After the cucumber harvest, my youngest daughter and I harvested the first batch of basil for homemade pesto. This was so fabulous on chicken and pasta, topped with home-grown tomatoes!
A friend of ours hooked us up with a lime basil plant. I thought, What in the world am I going to do with this? I was looking up basil recipes online and saw one for strawberry basil popsicles. A local indie popsicle business makes something similar, and I thought the lime take on the basil would be delightful with the strawberry. I blended in a bit of vanilla yogurt, and wow!!! It’s like a virgin strawberry daiquiri on a stick!
And no weekend would be complete without a visit to the kittens. Momma Cat is doing great, and my kitty co-parent/friend and I were both surprised to discover that she tested negative for FIV, Feline Leukemia, and worms, which is quite miraculous, considering that she was a completely outdoor cat until three weeks ago. The girls and I placed a few kittens on the bed to give the tiniest one of the litter a chance to nurse without “the chubbies” pushing her out of the way.
I don’t consider myself as that enviable. I am simply a woman who enjoys playing in the kitchen when I’m not making soap or enjoying kittens. Cooking, like soapmaking, is sweet alchemy – taking a variety of different ingredients and putting them together in fun, creative ways to make something new. It’s even more enjoyable when I can make something completely new to me, stretching my skills.
The next post will contain suggestions for making DIY easier and doable. I’m not selfish with my recipes, as most of them come from outside sources. Comment if there’s one you’d like.
Once upon a time, I was a suited-up professional working in a healthcare environment, punching a (mostly) 8-5 clock. Some days I worked until 7 or 8, and I was on call every single weekend. I was rocking the soap biz on the side, working markets one weekend a month. We lived in a townhouse in a nice urban area and could walk to the grocery store if we wanted. Unfortunately, it was uphill coming back. In fact, making soap was the closest I came to doing the neo-hippie-slash-homesteading thing.
A couple of years after leaving that position, it became very clear to us that we were going to be trading urban life for coastal rural life. I was pregnant at the time, so finding a new job wasn’t high on my list of priorities, but making a home was. I had visions of biking places, eating fresh-caught fish on a regular basis, and having our own little garden spot where we could grow our own fruits and vegetables, enough for our family. One out of three ain’t bad.
In the six years since we moved, my business has taken off in unexpected ways, and I have changed in unexpected ways. I never dreamed I’d be home educating my daughters. Our “little” garden spot has had really bad years and really great years, but those great years haven’t yielded just enough for us to enjoy, but enough to share. This year, it’s giving us some to can, too. That’s another thing I never expected to be doing – putting up my own canned goods. We tend to gravitate towards condiments (cranberry mustard, jellies, jams, and butters) and dessert stuff (pie fillings and chocolate sauce), although we have made and put up pickles, Brunswick stew, and chicken soup. These, too, we are able to share.
When we lived “in the city,” I didn’t own a working sewing machine; I’m on my second one since we moved, one that my fellow business owner said is “a good one for children” (thanks, Sarah), but which is most definitely a step up from my Singer. I used to sew; when I was a teenager, I made pillows for myself and for gifts, and I’ve done some of that since being married. My long-time customers have seen the bags I’ve made for gifts or to hold bars of soap, too. I’ve made a messenger bag and three purses. Most recently, I’ve sewn curtains, a rather large project, as they’re covering a sliding glass door.
Soapmaking. Canning. Sewing. Knitting. (My oldest daughter is over my shoulder, or I’d show you what I’m working on for her.) I look around at all these things my hands have made, at all the ways I’ve stretched myself to create a warm home and the ways we’ve worked together as a family to achieve it, and I am pleased.
(Next week, look for pictures of homemade pesto and more pickles. I wish I could share our bounty with you.)
Some weekends are just made for indulging in all sorts of hobbies and fun, with added points for making a home homier. While the girls were gone last week, I spent a few hours making the curtains for the back sliding glass door. This project had been on my radar for at least two years with a couple of agendas: One, I wanted to get rid of the horrendous vertical blinds that had been slowly falling apart, slat by slat, since we moved into this house six years ago. Two, I wanted to find a fashionable way to block drafts in the winter and the hot morning sun in the summer. I think I’ve met my goal, don’t you? I love how they let in diffused light!
I tripped across a small sniglet of coconut cream in my fridge, and I really didn’t feel like keeping it in there, nor did I want to throw it out. Plus, for a few minutes, I was bored, so I decided to toss that coconut cream into a small batch of soap. Gorgeous, n’est-ce pas? Beautifully swirled with Mad Oils micas with a base of blushing Bazooka Jo pink and swirls of Grape Nehi and Silverfin Blue, this soap is scented with a dupe of Sun–Ripened Raspberry for a fun, fresh, summery finish.
With our bumper crop of pickling cucumbers coming in now, kindly augmented by one of hubby’s customers giving him five more, it was time to work some magic. Magic, however, had to allow for the fact that I don’t have any space cool enough to ferment pickles, so I have to make adjustments. In addition to restocking our cranberry mustard (the dark red stuff), my youngest daughter and I put up 8 pints of Polish dill pickles. They look and smell delicious, but the recipe says we have to let them cure for 4-6 weeks. WEEKS!!! How ever are we going to be able to wait to dig into these?
Hannah, my youngest, decided she wanted to make a mermaid soap for her Grandma, complete with mica. It turned out so pretty! She opted for Lemon Grove scent, her Grandparents’ favorite.
Visiting this sweet girl, her siblings, and her mom topped off our weekend. This little one has the sweetest face. Her sister is my next kitten, but she was buried in a kitten pile nursing. I have to wait another FOUR weeks before I can adopt the adorable little furball. And who doesn’t like looking at cute kitten pictures? Instant happiness!
What made your weekend great? We’d love for you to share it in the comments.
When my younger daughter was a baby, I faced two separate realities: (1) I didn’t want to use commercial, scented laundry detergents on her clothes, and (2) I couldn’t afford the unscented ones. I explored homemade laundry soap, and discovered it is very easy to make.
First, I whipped up some very basic soap, and by basic, I mean basic! Half palm oil, half coconut oil, very low lye discount. This soap would get a body clean, but it would be much harsher than my usual soaps. Not great for bodies, but fabulous for dirty clothes. I used the crockpot to make it go quicker, then let my soap cure for a few days.
Once it had cured a little, I grated it with a cheese grater. (I could have used a food processor for this, but I like physically making my shreds by hand.) I spread my grated soap out on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and set it aside to dry out the rest of the way. After two weeks, my soap shreds were wonderfully brittle to the touch, so I knew they were ready for the next step.
I put those little buggers in my food processor and processed all that soap into powder. I measured out two cups of soap powder into a bowl, added one cup of Arm & Hammer Washing Soda and one cup of Borax, and stirred it all together with a spoon. Then I poured it all into a repurposed large yogurt container (clean, of course) and placed it on my dryer.
We have used this regularly, and it worked great, even on my baby’s dirty cloth diapers. When I clean my soapmaking equipment, I wipe it down with a rag, and I wash these rags with our regular laundry. This means, it can be anybody’s guess what our laundry will come out smelling like. One time I had washed a load of my baby’s laundry, and the only rag I had was from a batch of Orange Patchouli soap. Patchouli really sticks, and I had a little hippie baby for a few days. And so a patchouli lover was born.
Using this soap on laundry besides that of my daughters, I discovered that it wasn’t quite cutting it on my husband’s dirty, grimy work socks. They were coming out clean, but not as sparkling white as I wanted, and that dinginess was spreading to my whites. I tried increasing how much soap I used. Didn’t work. I added more washing soda straight to the load. It helped some. Then someone suggested using Oxyclean in place of the washing soda. Oxyclean is like washing soda, plus some. It worked! I tried it in my next batch of laundry soap mixture, and it worked like a dream. It does make it a little less than completely natural, but the end result is still mostly natural, and our socks are bright white again.
You can click the beautiful picture above to purchase some of this fabulous soap for yourself. I will soon be playing around with homemade, natural fabric softener sheets and will post those instructions for you when I do.
I wrote about homemade laundry soap at the urging of my friend April, and I’m happy to share my natural alternative tricks. About what natural home and personal care DIY products would you like to read?