Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Eat Local!

This school year I requested a student to assist me with some marketing for our school cafeteria.  One of the projects we've been working on is taking photos of the meals served to students to showcase our food to parents and visitors, in newsletters, bulletin boards, and more. 

The culmination of the project has been pairing some of the food photos with some of the student garden photos, which were then blown up poster size.  Some foodie posters were mixed in to balance everything out and today they were hung up as the cafeteria art.  I was delighted that the photo of the veggie pizza we served was made into a nice poster to hang right outside my office door.  I love it! 

What do you think? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

27 Years Ago Today...

Three kids and two grandgirlies later....

August 2012 with our youngest Grandgirlie, Hailley

And we are still in love!

I can so hear my middle child laughing right now over the big glasses I wore back in 1986...but hey, they WERE the fad of the day way back then! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fun With Blueberries...Soap, That Is!

Freshly poured Blueberry Soap
If you remember, the other day I made all of the blueberries for another fun soapy project.  Ok, more than one project, but I can't spoil all of my secrets just yet. 

On Tuesday I made one of the blueberry soapy projects rolling through my head.  With a snow day callled I had cellphone in hand and a pot of soap in the other and it was of to the soap room for some fun. 

Setting the larger half spheres in place
What I didn't show you the other day was the larger larger half sphere embeds I made to go along with this project.  To start off with, I poured a small amount of soap into the bottom of the mold and then set the larger half spheres in place. 

A sprinkle of mica on top
After I was satisfied with the way everything looked, I poured the rest of the soap overtop then sprinkled a bit of the blue mica mixture down the center that I had come up with for this project. 

Not happy with how the mica looked, I changed my mind about what I wanted to do on the top, and carefully folded the soap over the mica line with a spoon and added the blueberries to the top, as seen above. 
Cut bars of Blueberry Soap
Today was cutting day, and I was anxious to see what mysteries were hidden inside the bars.  Did all of the larger blue pieces stay down?  I didn't spoon the soap over the larger embeds, so it was likely some didn't stay at the bottom.  Did some of the embeds float up?  It didn't matter to me, because each bar has its own personality and I love each and every one of them!

I still have a ton of blueberries leftover for another project or perhaps two?  We shall see what happens this weekend!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Almost a Doozy Snowstorm Day

At least that is what our weather man says.  He has a Doozometer and we are between Bamboozy and Doozy...not quite worthy of a REAL Doozy, but we have a Snow Day from school out of the deal, so that means another soaping day for me!  We are expecting 12-18 inches of snow with this storm, and hubby is excited as this means the snowmobile season got a little boost and isn't quite over just yet. 

Hyacinth Soap
Last night I cut up the logs of soap I made on Saturday, and am delighted with the outcome of each one.  I have to say that the Hyacinth soap was a fun one to make, and I loved how it looked in the mold.  The bottom of the soap was created by swirling three colors in the pot then I created a textured top with the hyacinth blue and spring green colors, and garnished the top with iridescent glitter.  It smells heavenly.

Strawberries & Champagne Soap
Strawberries and Champagne was created with the same in the pot swirl method using two colors, and garnished with iridescent glitter and sugar pearls to give the appearance of champagne bubbles dancing on the top. 

Bay Rum Soap
Bay Rum!  I am most excited with the way this batch turned out.  The photo gives the appearance of the color brown, but it is really the color of a dried bay leaf.  I made this one by dividing the soap and coloring half the batch.  Alternating the bay leaf color and white, I poured a strip of soap down the middle of the mold over top of each other.  It took quite a bit of time to finish the pour, but it was well worth the effort as the end result is amazing! 

Pale Ale Soap
Pale Ale about killed me with the fragrance when I was working with it.  It has mellowed out in the soap now that it is cut and drying out a bit, much to my relief.  I wanted to give this one the appearance of foam on top, so I tinted the top white, and used cocoa to make the pencil line.  I will go a bit easier on the cocoa next time, as the line is sort of heavy looking to me.  Regardless, it is still and eye catcher.

Today I am going to be working with my brain idea for the blueberry embeds made over the weekend, and the rootbeer soap idea floating in my head.  A new slab mold with dividers arrived yesterday and I'm twitching to break it in.  I bought the additional dividers to make guest/favor size soaps so this will most definitely be a well used mold and with all of the ideas rolling around in my head, I may need more than one of these molds to satisfy that creativity. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Blueberries and More!

These blueberries are part of another soapy project I am working on, and is phase two of the project.  Yesterday I made the soap for the blueberries, today is turning that soap into blueberries.  The third phase of the project will make its debut soon and photos will most definitely follow. 

Strawberries & Champagne Soap
Yesterday was a full day in the Soap Room.  Aside from the blueberry soap, I made some embeds for the Rootbeer soap idea I am working over in my head.  Pale Ale, Bay Rum, Strawberries & Champagne, and Hyacinth logs of soap were made. 

Lemon cupcake, anyone? 
The last project of the day was lemon cupcake soaps.  It ended up being a very productive day for me, and I was delighted with how everything turned out.  However, the lemon cupcakes managed to work their way through the gel phase, even though I soaped at very low temps.  Needless to say I was disappointed that the "frosting" had flattened out when I looked at them this morning.  They still look nice, just not as impressive as when they were freshly made, as shown in the photo. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

350 Cupcakes Later....

Yesteray our Supervisory Union held an all day District wide Music Festival (for Grades 4-12), and I was commissioned to make cupcakes for a lunch celebration.  It was quite the project, but the kids were delighted when I rolled the cart into the room and that was reward enough for me.  After practicing all day we served the students dinner and then they made the final preparations for a free concert. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Greening Up Bit by Bit

I see some green!
It doesn't take much to get me excited except when I am anxious for winter to finish melting away and discover a small patch of green slowly making its appearance. 

I have been itching all winter to go sit on the bench under the pergola we built last summer and this afternoon I trudged my way through the snow to enjoy a moment of tranquility when I discovered a small patch of green grass poking its way around the snow melting away. 

The driveway and yard is rapidly turning into a lake and mud bog.  For the first time this winter I had to lug out my boots so I can get in and out of the car without ending up with water logged feet and/or shoes being sucked off my feet by the mud.

Lilac soap cut into bars
I was so thrilled with the results of the soap I made last weekend and wanted to share how the Lilac soap turned out.   The swirls look like whispers of purple in the base of the bar and the piping adds a fancy touch befitting of the delicate lilac fragrance.  I can't wait until it warms up enough for my lilac bush to bloom.  Until then, I will be enjoying the fragrance of this soap as it finishes curing. 

Hailley and Christina saying "cheese and macaroni"
Last Sunday my oldest Grand Girlie turned four.  Seems like just yesterday that she was born, the time has flown by so quickly.  We took a road trip to celebrate the occasion, and went from needing jackets to no jackets back to needing jackets in the time we were there.  We played in the snow and mud, blew bubbles, dumped some bubble water on accident (actually a lot), and took a nice walk on the muddy back roads.  One thing for certain, I was glad I wasn't the one having to wash the multiple jackets, boots, and clothes the girls got covered in mud. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Shimmering and Glittery Lilac Soap

Swirled Lilac soap base
The sun is shining today (yeah!!!!) and the air warming up (yippee!!).  We're getting closer to my kind of weather, come on summer!  But first, we have to get through all of the snow melt down and mud before everything dries out again.  I envision a lake of water and mud ruts in the driveway very soon, particularly with the weather predictions for the next several days.  You haven't experienced excitement until you've made it through mud season in Vermont.  It is that time of year I am so glad we live in town and on a paved road.  Dirt roads during mud season definitely tests the limits on your vehicles and nerves, to say the least. 

Hubby hit the snowy trails first thing this morning to get one last ride in and out from our yard for the year.  Any further riding for this year most likely will require trailering to other areas where the snow is a bit more plentiful in supply. 

Soap piped on top
I wanted to play around in the Soap Room this morning and practice some swirling and piping techniques.  Since Lilac is one of my favorite flowers of spring, and it feels like a nice springy kinda day, it seemed appropriate to soap in Lilac first.  I took photos of the swirled base first, then waited for the rest of the soap batter to thicken up more before I tackled the piping technique. 

Waiting ever so patiently (or maybe not LOL) for the soap to thicken up further, I decided to try a two toned piping.  Had I waited a bit longer, the two colors would have been more pronounced.  Only a few of the twirls came out white and purple, but overall I was still extremely pleased with the end result.  A sprinkle of some iridescent glitter and now we wait to see how everything looks once it finishes hardening up and I can release it from the mold. 

Today's Soapy Creations
I was inspired and went on to create two more batches of soap before cleaning up and tackling other projects that need my attention around the house. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

It's Thursday Already?

Lavender Goat Milk Soap
This week has flown by.  But of course, it is a short work week for me after being on vacation for a week, plus.  :)  I have more soapy plans for this weekend, of course. 

If you remember a few weeks ago I ended up with botched batch of Lavender soap so last week I made another batch and I am pleased to report this one turned out fabulous!  This batch has some layering of lavender throughout the base of the bar, and a textured top with lavender and green.  I was delighted with the results, and the bars smell absolutely heavenly.

My new photo light box arrived yesterday but my camera was MIA.  Ashley's camera was in my camera bag, and turns out she had mistakenly placed my camera in her bag.  Now that my camera is safely back home I have plans to play around with my new toy this weekend.   After all, I have all of these new soaps that are begging to be photographed.  :)

Not so good news about the homemade dish soap I made the other day.  It just wasn't up to my standards, so I will be reformulating and testing further. 

I have used the dish detergent a couple times and it needs to be tweaked a bit more to be comparable to what I have been using before I send it out to my testers for additional feedback.  It is close, but I'm not quite happy with the results just yet. 

However, I am happy with the laundry soap I've been testing, and I've enlisted the assistance of others to test and report back to me on how it performs for them.  I have folks that use HE machines and others that use standard washing machines so I will have a pretty good idea on how the formula performs and if any further adjustments might be necessary for optimal cleaning performance. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hidden Inside the Soap

The other day I mentioned that hidden inside the logs of soap I had added a pencil line of mica colorant and I wanted to show you how the bars turned out.  After a happy bubble dance around the soap room, I took a photo of the cut bars.  The rose petals on the rose scented soap stayed true on their color and didn't crumble when I cut the bars (yeah!!!)  My only regret is the lighting in the soap room does not lend itself for good photos.  Hopefully that will be remedied as I finally broke down and purchased a photo light box and will be anxiously awaiting its arrival later this week. 

Floral Bouquet Goat Milk Soap with purple mica pencil line

A Bouquet of Roses Goat Milk Soap with 24 K Gold mica pencil line

A Mother's Love Goat Milk Soap with a green mica pencil line
Today part of the day was spent on the road in search of Washing Soda for the laundry soap.  Pity I had to drive 23 miles one way to find some.  The afternoon was spent mixing up a small tester batch of laundry soap which promptly was put to good use, and so far, so good. 

We are trying very hard to eliminate household products that aren't green.  The next project of the day was mixing up dishwasher detergent.  I will let you know how that works for me in a follow up post.  While I was on a roll, I made some liquid dish soap with the addition of some Orange Essential Oil, and could barely wait for some dirty dishes to hit the sink to test it out. 

I have to admit, I am pretty much married to Dawn dishwashing liquid due to its grease cutting abilities, but I also know that the  MSDS ratings aren't the greatest, either.  My hubby absolutely hates dish liquids because not all of the soap rinses off the dishes.  He is extremely sensitive to the taste of dish soap, so I am anxious to see how the homemade version compares.  What I can tell you is that I found a really greasy dish and headed to the sink with the newly made dish soap to test it out.  My first observation is that it doesn't bubble up like Dawn, but I wasn't expecting it to.  Instead, the water turned cloudy and I was cautiously optimistic because I didn't see ANY bubbles whatsoever, but I was not going to be detered.  I know bubbles don't clean, but we have been so conditioned to believe that unless it bubbles up, it isn't cleaning.  I was astounded to see that the grease was gone, the dish clean, no soapy film left behind.  I will keep using the new soap and plan to do a follow up post in the near future. Oh, and I am about ready to test out the orange cleaner I started making a few weeks ago so I can write a follow up post about that, as well. 

I have one more day of Winter Vacation left, and have MANY soapy creations dancing in my head.  The time has gone by quickly, but I have accomplished much.  When I look around the soap room I am extremely pleased with all of the soapy creations, and my house smells absolutely AMAZING.  :)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

All in the Day of a Soapers Life

Chocolate heaven in a log of soap
Yesterday I made some chocolate soap as it was feeling like one of those days.  My son was excited when he smelled the chocolate and thought I was baking.  Needless to say, he was sorely disappointed to discover the source of the chocolate smell was coming from the soap room and NOT the kitchen.  The only problem I have with this soap is that one of my son's friends thought the soap was fudge as he walked through the soap room and took a bite out of one of the bars.  He quickly found out it was NOT fudge! 

The beginnings of laundry soap

The next project of the day involved creating a soap base for some laundry soap that I will be testing in the near future.  This morning I needed hubby's help to release the soap from the mold because the arthritis in my hands is really giving me fits the past couple days.  After cutting the soap into managable chunks I grated the soap before it turned hard as a rock.  When finished, it looked like snow.  Hmmm...inspiration for a Christmas project?  Perhaps!

Last night in my haste to get a third batch of soap poured before hubby returned from his snowmobile adventures I had a "little" issue with one of the molds.  Due to the arthritis acting up, I "thought" I had secured the bottom on one of the round molds.  I fill these molds inside of a bucket to avoid any spillage dripping all over the place.  After the first mold was filled I moved it to its resting spot, and then went about filling the second mold.  All was fine until I went to move the second mold when the bottom let loose. 

I was stunned over what had just happened and amazed that none of the raw soap got on me or my shoes!   To date that has to be the biggest mess to clean up after.  The plus side is that the floor got a good cleaning, and I was thankful the tile didn't get ruined.  It is apparent that next time I pour in these molds I plan on laying down a bunch of newspaper on the floor for easier clean up if that ever happens again. 

I had hubby make sure the bottom of the molds were secure before he headed out on the snowy trails this morning "just in case" a soapy inspiration comes over me, but my plans are to take the day for myself and putter around the kitchen.  I'm feeling like it is a good day to make some fresh baked bread to go with our dinner tonight.  If my son hasn't eaten all of my chocolate chips "in hiding", we might even have some chocolate chip cookies to enjoy. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013


Logs of soap waiting to be cut
The soap from the past two days is waiting to be cut.  Last night I mixed up two more batches of soap before calling for take out and ending my soapy fun day.  It's always fun to remove the soap from the molds, I'm like an anxious mom waiting for her baby to arrive.  Once the logs dry out a bit more I will be cutting into these beauties to see what the insides look like. 

I am running out of room on the drying racks once again so it is time to remedy that situation before I make any more soap.  Well, at least until any new batches made today need to be removed from the mold tomorrow.  ;)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fantastic Friday

This week has really gone by quickly, as it always does when one is on vacation.  Vacation extends through Tuesday of next week due to Town Meetings in Vermont.  The weather has been absolutely splendid this week..a little snow and rain, a little sunshine, and some nice warmer winter days to melt the snow piles that have been plowed up in our yard.  I would be much happier if it were 70 degrees or warmer outside, but I will take these warmer winter days and enjoy them.  At least I have been able to enjoy them and not stuck inside all day. 

Oatmeal Soap
Last night while waiting for dinner to bake I mixed up a batch of Oatmeal Goat Milk Soap.  It smells yummy and released from the molds beautifully this morning.  I am really loving these round column molds that I got from Brambleberry.  This time I used both of the molds I purchased to hold my batch of soap instead of downsizing the batch.  After releasing from the molds this morning I realized why I had so much batter leftover the other day...it was enough to fill two molds!  Later today the molds will be holding yet another soapy creation.  I am serioulsy going to have to invest in more of these molds, I love them!

Day Soaps
Today marks Day Seven of Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza and this morning I made a couple of soaps with thoughts about Mother's Day.  Two more floral scents made their debut.  From left to right we have...A Bouquet of Roses and Floral Bouquet.  If floral is not your thing, I do have some non-floral soaps in the works for Mother's Day as I know not everyone is into floral scents. 

In the winter my house is the perfect environment for drying flowers.  Ashley had given me some beautiful tea roses in the most amazing color for Valentine's Day.  After they dried out I carefully removed the petals with the thoughts of placing them on a soapy project for Mother's Day.  I am hopeful that the color of the petals don't morph during the saponification process, we'll soon find out.  The soap is a nice rosey color, which I can only hope doesn't morph into another color during the cure time as well.  Hidden inside the log is a pencil line of 24K gold mica that won't be visible until the log is released from the mold and cut into bars.  24K gold mica has also been dusted on top of the rose petals giving the soap a regal appearance. 

Floral Bouquet has a textured top of yellow and purple.  The lighting in the soap room made the yellow look more orange when I snapped the photo, but I assure you it is yellow.  Lurking below the two toned top is a nice creamy base with a pencil line dusting of purple mica hidden inside.