Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Fling Extravaganza!

This morning at 7 AM our thermometer read a whopping 5 degrees F. No zero behind the 5! Can you say BRRRRRisk!?! Oh, but the day recovered quickly enough and we just HAD to dig out the last hidden package of bratwurst from the freezer and put them on the Grill. Yes, even though I still don't see much of anything but snow in my yard, and lots of it, the grill was cooking today.

I made this gorgeous gift bag about a year ago. It is made with a unique Italian Wool Blend yarn. The colors are stunning and I've had a lot of compliments. What to do with it? Well, it was actually the color inspiration for my Spring Fling Soap so it seemed appropriate to combine the two together and make a OOAK Gift.

Today was kind of a catch up day around the house, and time to take photos for my Etsy Store. I have a great digital camera, but I have discovered it is more camera than I know what to do with, at times. I take great close ups of my outdoor flowers (when they are blooming), and I *think* I've got the inside close ups about covered now. I've gotten quite a few pictures switched out on my Etsy Store and a list of the rest that need to be retaken.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's Maple Syrup Time!

This weekend marks the 7th Annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. Since we are not lacking in the snow department, particularly in Central Vermont, Sugar on Snow is likely to be enjoyed by many. Be sure to stop by the Vermont Sugar Makers' Association and the Vermont Maple Foundation website to learn more about Vermont Maple Syrup.

We have successfully captured the Vermont Maple Sugaring experience in one single bar of luxury soap. Get one before they are all gone!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Fling Take 2

It certainly didn't look like spring today when we were "blessed" with yet another snow storm. Since I'm not seeing any evidence of grass or flowers outside, it was time to create some spring flowers and sunshine inside.

The essence of spring wrapped in elegance and pure glycerin soap heaven. Lily and Jasmine are brought together with lemon and ozone for a truly unique blend. Real pressed flowers are suspended within the glycerin soap for added charm and beauty.

You can read more about these gorgeous glycerin soaps in the Spotted Cow Soaps Etsy Store. Hint - Mother's Day is May 11!

Now that I've created spring and sunshine INSIDE my house, I'm waiting for winter to relinquish its clutches so we can experience spring and sunshine on the OUTSIDE of the house.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Fling

This is by far the COOLEST soap I have ever made! It evokes vibrant spring colors that our current landscape is seriously lacking. This soap is screaming with the vibrance of spring! The essence of spring is wrapped in the elegance of Lily and Jasmine along with lemon and ozone. Fragrance is light and airy, not overly heavy. I have several men that enjoy this fragrance. I have called this SPRING FLING. The girl I am mentoring for soap making was really psyched out and digging the cool soap when we got together this afternoon for another soap making session.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

22nd Anniversary

It is a busy weekend with Easter and all...throw in our 22nd Wedding Anniversary and you have the makings for a very busy weekend. We have aged gracefully, have two teenagers almost ready to make the jump into adulthood, and one child that has already crossed out of the teen years. With 22 years of experiences (some good, some bad) to reflect upon, our love still rings true and is the driving force of our marriage.

For the occasion, we took a little ride to Hanover, New Hampshire to check out this fabulous restaurant, Jesse's. The rustic appearance of the place was so cozy and inviting, the staff equally pleasant. They have the most incredible salad bar loaded with fresh baby greens, vegetables, and salads. Much of what they stock on the salad bar is locally grown or handmade in house. Awesome, awesome!!! We were in pursuit of a good steak, and Jesse's delivered along with their signature steak sauce that is outstanding...and this chick is a die hard A-1 Steak Sauce kinda girl! The Turtle Cheesecake was so tempting, so we caved in on a rare occasion to indulge ourselves with dessert. Curiosity got the better of me...Green Tulip Martini? Not bad, catchy name, lured me right in! LOL I would suggest if you are ever in Hanover, NH and want to check out Jesse's, to call ahead to make reservations. The place is happening and busy.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Soaping Funness Part 2

Soaping Success from yesterday. I got home this afternoon and couldn't wait to cut the soap from yesterday. Batch #1 turned out beautifully. Creamy, nice lather, a little soft but it will firm up more as it dries out a bit more.

Batch #2 is dark on the outside and much lighter on the inside. It will continue to darken up as it finishes drying out. This is a much harder soap formula, but it offered a nice lather. I left the house for a while and when I came back the first thing that hit my nose was the scent of this soap! It is simply divine!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Soaping Funness...

I was anxious to get home from work today because it was day one of mentor soaping with a student from RTCC. I kinda got a little tied up at work and was running a tad late. As soon as I walked in the door, the shoes came off, and the soaping goodies were quickly spread out all over the counters.

The first batch was In the Oven Hot Processed soap so she could see the volcano effect. Wouldn't you believe it...this is only the second time that the volcano never happened. After talking soap for a while, it was time to do the zap test, add the fragrance and colorant, then put the soap in the mold.

With the first batch under our belts, we tackled a second batch. This time my student was put to work doing all of the measuring and mixing while I took photos to document the process. The soap was put in the mold and immediately covered with the lid to show proper insulation to make cold processed soap. After a short while the mold was uncovered and put in the oven so my student could see the gel phase take place, and to experience In the Mold Hot Oven Processed soap. This batch cooperated and showed us exactly what it was supposed to as you will see below.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Crochet Inspiration

One of the first projects that inspired me to take up crochet again was the above valance design. I just had to dust off the crochet hooks and buy some cotton thread to make them! They were originally made for the room we were using as a dining room. About 2 years ago I decided to change that room to the living room and the valances didn't fit with the living room look. Nor did they fit with the wall covering in the "new" dining room. So, when we remodeled the kitchen and created a laundry room out of the unfinished room behind the kitchen, I decided to recycle the valances and make my laundry room high class all the way. Who says a laundry room can't have nice valances??? I have since been working on new valances for the dining room. I'll be sure to post pictures here when they are finished. I can't wait!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Glass Etching Projects

This past summer I spent some of the warmer days brainstorming ideas to etch on glass. It was a great project to do while I sat on the porch to enjoy the wonderful warm air. Each piece was unique and one of a kind. They turned out so well that I filled them with soy wax. They have been a huge hit at Farmer's Markets and craft shows, in that people are looking for one of a kind, unique gifts. Visit our Etsy store for more details.

Modern Day Soap Making

I've always been interested in the history of soapmaking. In my research several years ago, I came across the web page Colonial Soap Making. Its History and Techniques that answered those questions for me.

Today we have the luxury of purchasing ingredients to make soap with consistent results. With the click of a mouse we can order everything we need to make a batch of soap. Suppliers are plentiful and growing by the number every day. I can't help but wonder how different today's handcrafted soap making trend would be if we had to make our own lye and render the fats used in our soap making process.

Friday, March 14, 2008

In Search of Real Soap...

Several years ago I had problems with my skin that seemed to magnify in intensity during the winter. I developed what was thought to be allergies to perfumes in soap. The Doctor told me to switch to unscented boring! What I found is that my skin condition remained unchanged after I made the switch. I had multiple suggestions...use ivory, or liquid body wash...nothing helped until one day I happened to stumble upon a website that sold old fashioned lye soap. The seller told a story similar to my own, and how they discovered the "soap" as sold in the stores isn't really true soap. You can find more information about true soap from the U. S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Office of Cosmetics and Colors Fact Sheet dated February 3, 1995

Needless to say I was hooked on the idea, but not quite ready to jump in and make my own soap. I dabbled with melt and pour glycerin soap for several months, made lots of nice Christmas gifts that year, before jumping in with making lye soap. My first batch was made in the crock pot so I could test the soap as soon as it hardened up. I was so delighted with those first bars, even though they weren't a very luxurious bar of soap, but it was soap! I absolutely LOVE the way my skin feels after I have bathed with a bar of good old fashioned is like a cleanser and lotion wrapped into one single bar! My skin was digging it, and thanking me! I am no longer a scaley, cracking lizard in the winter.

I discovered that the "soap" I was accustomed to using from the stores had in fact been the culprit for all of the skin rashes, redness, inflammation, irritation, itching, and burning I experienced every day after I bathed. My skin problems had absolutely nothing to do with the fragrances, and everything to do with the fact that my "soap" was really a detergent.

If you found this information useful, you might also be interested in reading about the differences between commercial and homemade soap OR how commercial soap is made.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Long Week, but Thinking about Spring

I've had some rather long and exhausting days at work this week. I come home from work uninspired and not so much in the mood for crafting. All I want to do is collapse in the chair at the end of the day. I could, however, muster up the energy to take photos of and list the rest of the felted bags I've got ready for sale.

This week I received a call from a young lady at our local technical career (vocational) school that asked me to be her Tech Project Mentor. Each year, students attending the technical career school are asked to spend several hours working with a mentor on a specific project and then present their experience to their Program Studies Instructor and the English Teacher. Parents and family are invited to attend if their schedule so permits. It is an enriching experience for the students and some make career choices along that field after they have completed a project. Some chose to work on a specific craft type project while others chose to take on bigger tasks like restoring an engine, training a dog, or working on a dairy farm. It thrills me to be part of this great opportunity.

Monday, March 10, 2008


noun ~ 1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
verb (used without object) ~ to have love or affection for another person; be in love.
Verb phrase ~ love up, to hug and cuddle: She loves him up every chance she gets.
Idioms ~ for love a. out of affection or liking; for pleasure.
b. without compensation; gratuitously: He took care of the poor for love.
for the love of, in consideration of; for the sake of: For the love of mercy, stop that noise.
in love, infused with or feeling deep affection or passion: a youth always in love.
in love with, feeling deep affection or passion for (a person, idea, occupation, etc.); enamored of: in love with the girl next door; in love with one's work.

Well, you get the point. I love my day job, but my passion is what takes place in my "spare time" ~ making soap, cooking, gardening, crocheting, and spending time with my family.

At the end of a tiring day I enjoy sitting down to crochet. I am very proud of the piece displayed above. If you enjoy the piece as much as I have enjoyed creating it, you may learn more about how to make it yours by visiting my Online Store.

Making soap has been a passion for several years now. It never ceases to amaze me with the chemistry that takes place as one makes a batch of soap. I was never very good with chemistry in High School, so my chemistry teacher would be so proud. Needless to say, chemistry was not in the cards for me when I went off to college. Not every batch of soap has been successful. I've had some flubs and blunders that were better off destined for the trash. On the flip side, I've had many successful batches of soap that have made me proud. Speaking of successful batches of soap, you can view all of the soaps I currently have in stock by visiting my Online Store.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Healthy Cooking

I love to collect recipes and have been attempting to rebuild my collection after water damage ruined many of my cookbooks prior to our move to Vermont. I was so anxious to test out a few of the recipes from the newly renamed Healthy Cooking Magazine by Taste of Home. Their slogan is "eating right never tasted so good!" I think it is inspiring and helpful when a magazine commits to writing and rewriting recipes that will include certain ingredients subscribers just can't leave out of the recipe. Little changes to make the recipe healthier, but still tasty.

Moderation is the key. It is the message I try to instill in my kids at school. It's OK to have that piece of cake once in a while, but eating a piece of fruit is Nature's Dessert because it provides nutrients & vitamins, no added sugars, no added salt, and no added fat. In other words, you shouldn't make a meal out of cake...although it is a nice treat once in a while! LOL

Since I was diagnosed with hypertension last year, I have been making a more proactive effort to cook more meals from scratch and looking for healthier options for fat & sodium content.

I flipped open the current issue ofHealthy Cooking Magazine and wrote out my shopping list and then went shopping for the week. Tonight it was Baked can never go wrong with that! Ground beef in pasta never does it for me so the thought of ground turkey wasn't going to cut it for me. Italian Sausage speaks my language but I was a good girl and purchased a chicken sausage instead of pork sausage. And I settled for the lowfat mozzarella cheese instead of my fav artisan whole milk mozzarella. It turned out fabulous, along with a nice bowl of baby greens topped with a mountain of fresh veggies and topped off with a reduced fat/low sodium Raspberry Vinegarette Dressing, and a nice thick hunk of homemade garlic bread where I indulged in real butter but opted to sprinkle with parmesan cheese instead of oozing with the much preferred whole milk mozzarella cheese. My family didn't seem to notice it was a healthier version. I consider the first meal a success.

Inspired to Organize

I woke up this morning and decided to pull out all of the soap from the crates that serve as storage and transporting and then used for display at shows. The space I had to work within did not permit the entire display to be set up, but compact and organized enough for what I needed. Everything listed in my Etsy store is in the display. Now that I've got it all in place, I see there is room for more soap, and I haven't even started hauling down all of the soy candles and the rest of the felted bags that I've made and are waiting for homes.

The "table" that the display is set upon is an old free-standing cupboard & counter that I recycled from the kitchen when we went through a remodel last spring. I keep all of my bags, boxes, recycled packing, fragrance oils, and misc. supplies in the cupboard. I've hidden the fact that it is old and in need of serious painting by creatively covering the cupboard with a cloth in an attempt to camouflage the fact that it is hideously old!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rainy Day

We are experiencing RAIN (and lots of it) instead of that other ugly 4 letter word that starts with "S"! Our driveway is in the beginning stages of a lake. The town never cleared the snow and ice from our storm drain, so the water from the road is adding to our lake. ARGH!!! Now when it turns colder we'll have frozen globs of rain saturated snow...aka ICE! I'm so ready for spring to get here!

I haven't made any cold processed soap today but I've been working on a few glycerin soap projects that I've had up my sleeve. Zero Calories Chocoholic soaps are back... There was a quick inventory of soap I have in stock so I can make a soap making list. Some new fragrances came in this week that I was itching to open and sniff...can't wait to get those made into luxury soap! I also finished weaving in the ends on several wash cloths and made a few more bath puffs. The dreary weather isn't the greatest for inspiration today, so I stuck with simple projects that offered quick results.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Heat Wave ~ Melt Down ~ I'm Famous!

Today has been a catch up day to get things wrapped up before returning to work tomorrow. It warmed up to nearly 50 degrees today and we experienced nuclear meltdown. I made the comment to my neighbor that we were about due for another snow storm now that we can actually see the pavement on our paved road again. LOL With the much desired warmer air, I let the woodstove die out and opened the windows to bring in some fresh air. The cat went a little wild on me by jumping from window to window. He was just as delighted to enjoy the fresh air as I was. There is hope that spring is coming...we just can't see beyond the massive snow "mountains" in our yards yet.

Today I was featured in an article writted by the Valley News. It was based on an interview they conducted while I was at the Healthy Cuisine For Kids training. Very nicely written article. The online version doesn't include the color photos they took at my school last week that were part of the print edition.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pansy Single Use Soap Petals

These Soap Petals are great single use guest soaps. Decorative, uniquely elegant, fun and yet functional. We have taken a simple silk petal and coated it with scented glycerin soap. There is enough soap on each petal for one single hand washing. When you are finished, the petal is simply thrown in the trash. The fragrance lingers on the petal to freshen the room even after the soap is gone. Indulge yourself, make your guests smile, or put a smile on someone else. You can view and purchase these gorgeous petals in our Etsy Store.

Layered Soap Success!

Fresh out of the mold I consider the layered soap making effect a success!

While the bars are not trimmed yet, they are absolutely gorgeous. I will definitely use this technique again.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Soap Making Day

Today has been a soap making day. They are hot out of the oven and cooling down as I type. The first soap is Fuzzy Navel...gotta love it.

The weather hasn't been the greatest this winter. We've seen an incredible amount of snow. In spite of all the snow, March is here and sugaring season in Vermont typically starts this month. It seemed appropriate to make up another batch of Vermont Maple Sugar Soap.

When I've made Cold Processed soaps, I have made swirls but have never attempted a two layer soap with different colors. I was inspired with Lavender Mint and decided to give it a whirl. Won't know until tomorrow if it worked, because it's still hot in the mold. The bottom layer was tinted lavender when I poured it in the mold. I let it set up for a few minutes before lightly spooning the green layer on top. Keep watching for the updates tomorrow.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Serving Up a Soap Sampler

I've been twitching with this display idea for a while now. Isn't this ribbon plate the most gorgeous plate you have ever seen? By changing the ribbons according to the theme or season one can change the entire look of the plate. How cool is that?

Wanna know where I got the plate from? Well, lets back up a few months, first.

October 2007, while attending the Taste of Home Cooking School, I met Cindy Meyer. Cindy is an Independent Consultant for Taste of Home Entertaining. The quality of the items are outstanding. I have always been a big fan of Taste of Home and I even hold the Premiere Magazine Issue amongst my recipe collections.

The Soap Sampler can be viewed and purchased in my Etsy Store ~ here.

R.I.P. ~ Pepper ~

She had been with us for almost 17 years. This past year has been a long road, as we've dealt with many Senior issues. This winter had been hard on the old gal. So much snow and ice to deal with and an old dog that often needed to be carried back into the house. Some days she wouldn't even go down off the porch when we let her outside, instead using the porch as her potty. About a month ago she began having seizures related to the ever growing number of tumors. We had to keep her closed in a safe room when we weren't home and at night to ensure her safety. On Sunday, 2/24/08 the poor old gal went through a cluster of seizures that she was never able to recover from. I am thankful that this did not happen while I was away during the prior week, and I am even more thankful that the kids were not here to witness this. It was a family decision to care for Pepper to the very end. Shortly after I returned home from work on Thursday, 2/28/08, Pepper took her final breath and passed away peacefully. Due to the multiple FEET of snow this winter, we took her body to the Vet's to be frozen until spring when we will give Pepper a proper burial. This photo was taken on 2/10/08 by one of the kids.