Archive for the ‘handcrafted’ Category

I’m always on the lookout for great baskets.  There is just something about the shapes, textures, and materials that draws me in. Maybe it’s because it is a functional art form ;0}  I’ve thought of creating some of my own… have even gone so far, as to add plants to my garden that could provide materials in the future (willow and red twig dogwood). I’m thinking this could be a skill that will be of great use in the future… I mean, we all need something to store items in =0}

Year after year, I’ve circled the basketry (and the ceramic, and the photography, and the medicinal herbs ;0}) workshops in the community class schedules. Then somehow, it gets lost in the day-to-day shuffle, we call life. This time, Hubby signed me up, as a Christmas gift! Class was last Saturday!!

Peeta Tinay (Whicker and Basketry ) showing us how it’s done

the beginnings

the base… can you see the bit with the slight twist to it… the spoke was a little weak and the weavers overpowered it

added spokes to the base

worked on the sides

added in some colors and played with a different weave pattern

rolled the edge

the finished basket!!

I am addicted!! I signed up for Peeta’s other workshop, where we meet once a week, for a two-hour session, for four weeks. I must confess, I liked the all-day workshop better, but I’ll take what I can get ;0}


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I Did It

I did it – I made soap!!

I finally did it. I’ve been thinking about making soap, since December… longer, really. But December is when I started looking at recipes and collecting ingredients. Hubby even got me lye, for Christmas (never, in a million years, did I think I would ever write that and be excited about it ;0})

There are only pictures of the finished product. I was way too nervous about the whole lye-thing. I didn’t dare stop to take any pictures. I must say, I thought it was going to be far more dramatic, than it was. So much so, that I wonder if I didn’t do something wrong.

I relied heavily on Soap Making Essentials – she has some great recipes and tutorials. She also pointed me to SoapCalc… which, saved my butt, when I realized, that I only had about half the cocoa butter I needed, and the coconut oil was already in the crock pot, warming up.

I think I went a little overboard with the vinegar. I rinsed all the utensils/tools, I used in the lye mixing process, with vinegar, washed them with hot-soapy water, and then rinsed again, with vinegar. I wanted to be absolutely sure that the lye was neutralized. This coming from the woman who actually did the zap test… you know? When you put, what you hope to be, a fully processed product to your tongue, to see if it will zap you like a 9-volt battery. Luckily, the soap didn’t zap me =0}

This time I added Calendula flower petals and a Cascade Blend EO (think cedar and pine). The soap smells heavenly, and it seems to lather really well. The real test will be in the shower, tomorrow morning… will I feel clean after using it =0}

Next time (yes, I’m already thinking about next time), I want to try a soap with coconut milk and/or honey with oatmeal!! With the SoapCalc, the possibilities seem endless… at least for my lifetime ;0} And I want to try a shampoo bar…

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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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