Archive for December, 2011

Today started out horribly unsuccessful… so much so, that at one point, I climbed back into bed and didn’t want to get out again. The house reeked of burnt meat… so did my clothes and hair. There was no escaping it.

The plan had been, to spend my day off trying my hand at soap making (a new book had inspired me – thank you Santa). I was going to go, and get the missing ingredients, first thing. I wanted the lye out of the kitchen, in time, for me to make my beef stew (I let it cook for hours). I was so excited/nervous about my little adventure, that I woke around 2:30 am, and couldn’t get back to sleep. I used my sleepless time wisely though ;0} I checked to see what time the stores were open in the morning. I had it all planned out. I was going to be out the door by 9 am and back in the kitchen by 10:30… and be done with soap making by 1 pm… in time to start my stew. Around 6 am I fell back asleep. At 8:30 am, I decided I needed 10 more minutes of sleep… I didn’t wake again until 10:15 am. My whole plan was shot.

I convinced myself to at least get the beef stew started. A stew, by the way, that I have made too many times to count. I don’t follow a recipe, I just make it. Today, instead of browning all sides, I burnt the meat to a crisp on one side. I had been distracted by the many onions that had gone bad in storage. I kept thinking, 30 more seconds and I’ll have the last bad onion. I went a few too many 30 seconds, too long. By the time I got back to the pot, to stir, the damage was done. Let me tell you, the smell of stew meat, dredged in flour, burnt to a crisp, is far worse than the smell of rotten onions. And if I were a wise woman, the story of the stew would end there… but I am not… well I am wiser NOW ;0} In an attempt to salvage my pride, and the cost of the meat, I continued with the stew, Thinking/hoping that maybe if I add enough stock, potatoes, carrots and onions, that the taste/smell of scorched meat would be diminished and the stew would be saved. Let me just say, this is NOT the case. What resulted was a stew that looked as disgusting as it smelled. It was black. It was so bad that I couldn’t even snap a picture of it… I’ll leave it to your imagination… believe me, it is better this way =0}

I climbed back in bed, willing the day to start over. I was already nervous about working with the lye… and now, with the colossal failure of a stew, I could make blindfolded, my confidence hit rock bottom. How was I going to tackle something new… especially, something new, where I was working with poison? I read through some soap recipes. I watched how-to videos… hoping that it would boost my confidence. It did not. It just convinced me I needed to do some more reading. I did come across lotion bar recipes. I decided to get myself out of bed and try my hand at those… plus I was hoping it would help eliminate the stench of the disastrous stew ;0}

Thanks to iMake Body Lotion Tutorial, I had success today! I liked making lotion bars so much, I made two batches – one scented with Orange Sweet EO and the other with Peppermint EO. The house began to smell like home again… I prefer the smell of coconut oil, almond oil, beeswax and essential oil… don’t you ;0}

I had so much fun with the lotion bars, that I decided to make more healing salves (I’ve made them a few times). The olive oils were already infused, I just needed to add beeswax and EO… and then pour them into their little tins. Luckily I still had the paper bag, where I wrote down what herbs I used to infuse the oil… now I just have to keep the groupings straight… so I know what to put on the labels =0}

I was having so much fun in the kitchen, I decided to make the Lemony Pickled Cauliflower, from Serious Eats. It was fast… now I just have to wait twelve hours for them to pickle =0} If you make them, I would reduce the cauliflower to 1 lb, or double the brine. I ended up having to make a second batch of brine to cover the cauliflower. I’ll let you know how they taste, tomorrow!

So my day got flipped around. I ended up picking up the missing items, to make soap, at the end of the day. There was no beef stew, but the house smells heavenly… and my hands are really soft ;0}. PLUS, I got a steal on silicone molds at Goodwill… a trip I would not have been able to squeeze into the original schedule.

So at the end of the day the total is:

1 disastrous stew, 10 lotion bars, 26 healing salve tins filled, 1 qt and 2 pt of lemony pickled cauliflower, and 4 new silicone molds for $2.99

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What a day! I was excited for a day off… to catch up on gift making. It ended up as a day filled with several failed attempts to transfer images to fabric. I have a history of planning for things to go smoother than they actually do (doesn’t everyone?). So this time I planned a few trials. Good thing I did, otherwise, the planned gift would have been ruined. Instead I just screwed up some scraps of fabric and wasted some paper and gel medium… and a whole day.

By the time hubby got home from work, I was a little annoyed. I had spent the entire day trying to make progress on my gift, and had nothing to show for all my effort… nothing but messed up images, in various stages of disaster. I told him about my frustrating day. And HE said:

“Would it help if I gave you one of your Christmas presents early?”

I thought about it for a minute or two. You need to know that I have a tendency to NOT wait to open my presents =0} I was making a concerted effort this year to be a “good girl” and wait. So when my husband asked if I wanted to open one early, I had to really think about it… plus I was trying to figure out what in the world he would have found that would help me with my dilemma. At first I said “no”… but I just couldn’t let it go. I wanted to know what he had that could help me. So I gave in and accepted a “solstice” gift from him =0}

It was when he handed me the printable cotton roll that I realized my mistake. You see, in my head, I keep thinking that we have laser printers. It was when I read “inkjet” on the label that everything became very clear…

why the images had failed on so many levels… peeling, bleeding (notice the black around the olive image and the blue in the water), fading. It wasn’t operator error… well okay, it was a little operator error =0} I should know by now that we own inkjet printers and NOT laser printers… and believe labels that say “DO NOT transfer very well.”

So hubby’s early Christmas gift has saved the day. I have to redesign what I am creating, but it WILL be finished by Christmas. I will post a picture of the project AFTER Christmas… so it will be a surprise!

And I just have to say “WOW Hubby! Great job on the Christmas present!” =0}

UPDATE:

So, after I realized that I did not have the printer I thought I did, things went a little smoother. Hubby came to the rescue, again. This time, he went out and made color copies, while I worked on other projects.

I must confess that the project was not completed in time. It was sewn, and the images were in place, but I still had not figured out the whole image transfer thing. I, once again, thought I knew better than others ;0}

 

This is what my sister saw, as she unfolded her gift. The images were there, but not clear. I wasn’t able to remove all the paper… I’m not sure if my impatience played a role. Perhaps I needed to let them dry longer, or maybe I needed to use more gel medium, to allow a stronger transfer. Or maybe I just needed to follow the directions… which were to use a lint free towel to roll the paper away from the image. I thought that would be too abrasive, so I insisted on using my fingers. After damaging a few images, I stopped trying to get it done before Christmas Day.

Days later, I decided to try again… this time following the directions. Amazing what happens when you learn from those who have gone before ;0}

It’s a planting calendar. There are pockets for every other week, starting with 18 weeks before the last frost and ending with 20 weeks after. The pockets are for the seeds that should be started or planted during that time… or a 3×5 card with notes. Plus a big pocket to keep the seed catalogs in (I love them as a resource all year long). She loved it, when she opened it – she’s great at seeing potential! She’ll love it even more, now that it is complete!

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