2.28.2012

goo and liquid soap help? (and a giveaway!)

I need some help! If you have any suggestions for better goo or liquid soap after reading this post, please share your advice in the comments. I'll choose a winner from them on the weekend, and send out two bars of my amazing, moisturizing, limited production lovely soap. I hope you win!

*Edited to add: If you have no advice to offer, leave a comment saying so! You'll still be entered in the draw. And it will probably be Sunday when I choose the winner.*

I need help Part 1: Phillip and I made some goo last weekend. I wasn't thrilled with how it turned out as far as how it feels and is manipulated, but wasn't it pretty? (I used some Martha glitter in there. You just can't go wrong with Martha glitter.)
If you let it sit on your hand for a minute or two, it very slowly started to sink down. But it wasn't really stretchy at all; if you pulled it really slowly it would stretch a very little bit before breaking. You could just break it into pieces, and little tiny goopy sparkly chunks would go flying everywhere and stick to everything. I used Elmer's clear glue, and borax dissolved in water, which seems to be the standard. Does anyone have a recipe that's nice and goopy? Stretchy and pliable? I'm wondering if maybe white glue would perform differently? (Insider tip: a mom told me today that you can buy giant jugs of white glue at Home Hardware for around $10. Score!)

I need help Part 2: In other make-y news, I feel as though I should have given you an update on my liquid soap sooner. But I still haven't perfected it, so I didn't want to give any instructions. I will, however, gladly share the secret that I dug up and let you know how I've made out so far.
I often have little bar soap odds and ends around, and have tried to convert them into liquid soap on more than one (or two, or three) occasions. I haven't had much luck. This time, I followed instructions I saw on Pinterest, which didn't work at all for me - I ended up with a gallon of really thin liquid and had to use about 8x the amount of soap to water that was recommended in the recipe. You could take the really thin liquid and put it in a foaming dispenser, but since I don't have one, I searched and searched for another natural, effective solution, and eventually found it: SALT. I wish I had taken a before picture. The soap was clear, and thin. Kind of like maple syrup looks. I sprinkled in some sea salt (maybe 1 or 1 1/2 tbsp to 4 litres (1 gallon) of soap), let it sit for a few hours, and stick blended it. (I thought that this would make it lather more than it did; it just kind of incorporates air into it.) I let it sit again (maybe overnight, I can't remember exactly), blended it again, and then all of a sudden, it turned into this lovely, thick liquid soap!
I've had soap from two different batches on the go in the house for the past week or two. One of them continued to thicken, and the pump is sucking up the water and not the solids. Fail. The other (the one pictured) seems to be starting to separate after about a week, but you still get a nice bit of the thick part and the thin in your hand that does the trick.

To sum up: I have no specific instructions, mediocre success, and am curious if anyone else has tried salt in your grated bar liquid soap. Has it worked? Can you please help me with the proportions / method? I'm just planning on making this for our use here at home, but I would like it to be awesome.

I hope that your week is going well, and thanks in advance for your help!

2.26.2012

sunday morning

I bought these daffodils so we would have fresh flowers during our open house yesterday. (Still no house movement.) And so I would be able to enjoy them this week. Aren't they cheery?

We just finished a lovely, late pancake breakfast and then had a great time playing with some vintage Lego that were given to us yesterday. The pieces are too small for Thomas - he still likes to put things in his mouth. But they are so much fun to build with!

I'm planning to get some more soap made today (I got three batches made last night and didn't have quite enough olive oil for my fourth, so I'll need to pick some up). Maybe I'll make a soup, sauce, stew, or something else that begins with 's' and takes awhile on the stove.

I hope that you have a lovely slow day, too.

2.23.2012

in its own sweet time

 Isn't this one of the most beautiful sights you could imagine? I thought so.

Some people we know a little bit tap these trees and have made syrup for the past few years. I looooove it. Not just the syrup, but the whole thing. I wrote last year "The thought of people just making amazing things because they want to thrills me." That still very much holds true. The buckets are all along the road, in people's yards and wooded spots, and they appear all of a sudden at that perfect time of year.

I like to think of them as blossoms of sorts.
When someone told me that they have taps at a local little store (one of those places that carries everything) I stopped in to pick up a couple. My Dad has a woodlot, so I think I'll see what we can set up this weekend. I'll keep you posted.
 
 And I took this for you, too - I could have stood there all day.
video

2.22.2012

twine jar

This is one of those things that was sooooo easy, I am thunking my forehead for not doing it sooner. I always have a roll of twine on the go; I use it for wrapping up and typing just about every gift that leaves the house, for tying our Christmas tree to the wall, and a million other things. I keep it in a tidy deep drawer with other wrapping supplies, and even though I left it in its (ugly) plastic wrapping, a bunch always escaped from the top and it ended up getting tangled with something else... a minor annoyance, but one that was easily, quickly, and prettily fixed by punching a hole in the top of a jar and running the twine through the top. I used a screwdriver to punch the hole, then flipped the lid over to flatten any sharp bits. Done.

Do you have a small but mighty trick like this that's gotten rid of a minor annoyance? Do tell!

2.20.2012

i personally challenge you not to smile


...at what P's been drawing lately. Above is our family portrait (I'm the pink one.) Although you may think that the body-shaped thing under the heads are torsos, they're not. They're necks, according to P. And this little man appeared on his hand yesterday. Isn't it adorable? I am LOVING this age. For a long time, even up until the past few months, Phillip was not into drawing or writing at all. He's hitting his stride now.

2.19.2012

the store

The boys have had a 'store' in Phillip's room for about a year and a half. Until this weekend, it consisted of that single table you see in the front, a few food toys, and a cash register. Last weekend, we bought some new nightstands at an antiques place (even though they're not antiques):
(nice, eh?) and had Adam's old one to find a new use for. Inspiration struck last night while Phillip was having a special movie-watching with Adam pre-bedtime, so I did a quick cleaning of his room, rearranged the store with the new cash register stand, put everything in its proper place, moved some new things in and attached the phone and a hook for shopping bags. And when the sun appeared this morning, Phillip and I took a lot of pictures. (These ones are mine.)

I know I've mentioned 3M's Command Picture Hanging Strips before. (They don't pay me, but I would happily accept if they offered!) We LOVE them, especially with our plaster walls which they won't damage. The medium ones will hold up to 9 pounds of weight, so I used them to attach the phone to the side of the cash register stand. It wasn't a thick enough piece of wood to drill or nail into, so they were the perfect solution.







Part of the store takes up one of P's bookshelves. We use clean actual food packaging that's sturdy to add to the collection. When it gets worn out, there's usually something being emptied in the kitchen that we can move upstairs.
I found these toys at Frenchy's when Phillip was brand new. I can't even tell you how much I love them. The boys don't play with them much, which is good because they're probably made of solid lead or something.








Serious business talk. 
 This is my favouite play area in the house, and it keeps the boys busy for fairly long stretches of time, so I think they like it, too. It's when it's really tidy and everything's in its proper place that they play the longest, which makes perfect sense. It was not expensive at all, mostly because many of the toys were gifts over the past few years. And it doesn't take up much space, either. The cash register is one of my favourites (can you tell from the ridiculous number of pictures?) and the breakfast set has always been very well loved. The ice cream set, food cutting set, and pizza set are all Melissa and Doug (and we have the shape sorter under the table, there, too .) Thomas is really into the food cutting set right now - it would make a great gift for a little one around two years old if you're stuck for an idea. The food pieces are velcroed together and there's a wooden knife to 'cut' it apart with. The bags were given to us with Christmas gifts inside, and are the perfect size for little shoppers. I found the phone on Etsy and gave it to the boys for Christmas. I love the cloth tea bags, too - they're also an Etsy find. My sister made the larger table in her grade 9 woodworking class (thanks, Mar - please don't ask for it back) and the nightstand / cash register table was Adam's since he was a kid.

Pretend play is so important to kids' development. (Not to mention fun!) And it's also really important to me that it's with nice objects that are solid and feel pleasant to hold and interact with. Having a play store provides a tonne of learning opportunities - to practice math, counting, social interaction skills, memory (when taking breakfast orders, for example), nutrition label reading, budgeting and planning shopping trips. Along with those kinds of measurable things, it's also a place to talk about the kinds of things that we believe are important about consuming. Why we buy the foods that we do, why it's important to us not to buy needlessly, why we think carefully about the things that we do purchase, and what we as a family are looking for in the things we buy. All of that (and more) from a couple of tables, some toys, and some food packaging.

I hope you've had a lovely weekend, and enjoyed this little tour of P&T's store!

2.14.2012

love


I saw love today.  

Real-life love. Not the cupid kind. The kind that breaks your heart open and leaves it vulnerable and exposed, and which isn't fair or just. A mother's story of her daughter's recent seizures and medical struggles was shared hopefully, gracefully, and openly in a room of professionals, and I was privileged enough to be there.

Chocolate and cards have their place, but what I'm really thankful for today is the kind of love in the world that goes through day after day and year after year of travelling, appointments, worry, medications, and working incredibly hard to help their child meet their potential. That's one manifestation of real-life love.

Happy Valentine's Day.

2.12.2012

baking soda

I'm guessing that I'm preaching to the choir, but baking soda is amazing. So much so that I bought a 10kg bag of it last time I ran out. (It should last for awhile.) My favourite uses are as a scrub for the kitchen sink, and for the bathtub - a combination of baking soda and 5% hydrogen peroxide is the only thing that I have found works to get our old enamel cast iron tub really clean. I spray it with the peroxide first, sprinkle of the baking soda, let it sit for awhile, until I remember about it, and rinse it off. There are thousands of other uses for it, from toothpaste to deodorant to homemade 'clay' (I really want to try that one!); a quick search will give you all kinds of ways to use it to freshen up.

Incidentally, that lovely label is one of Martha's new Avery labels from Staples. Love them.

And this is where I happily spent much of my morning with the boys:
And it's back to work tomorrow. Good night!

Edited to add: What do you use baking soda for? Really, I'm curious!

hearts


There are lots of hearts at our house lately.

Right now, at this very moment, I have some liquid soap in the works, made made from one of my Basil Kitchen bars. I've tried making liquid soaps a few different ways before, and haven't had much luck with getting it the way I would like. This method, with the added glycerin, the sitting time and blending at the end, looks promising. (Phillip wants me to type "I'll show you how to make it" here. And I will, this week. He's been helping me to take pictures of the process.)

I haven't chatted much about my soap here lately, have I? I am still selling it locally at Yarmouth Natural, and doing direct orders as well (just drop me a note if you're interested in ordering some or bartering). Any more than that right now (for example, having an Etsy shop with regular listings rather than the custom order system I have set up right now) would be more than I'm interested in. Since I'm not doing it full time, and it's in addition to my teaching, mothering, and other fun pursuits, I need for it to be purely fun. And right now, it is!

Molly crocheted this adorable heart garland for me, and I loooove it. Thanks, Molly!

I hope that you're having a lovely weekend, and that there are some hearts at your house, too.

2.04.2012

date rolls

Remember those dates that my mother-in-law brought for me? Well, here's the first thing I made with them. E-a-s-y p-e-a-s-y.
Toss about 2 cups of dates into your food processor until they're kind of chopped up and start to come together in one sticky blob. Plop them into a bowl and knead in a cup of unsweetened coconut. Roll into balls, wrap in waxed paper, and they're ready to toss into someone's lunch box.
I like these because a) they're delicious and healthy, and b) they're something sweet to toss in Phillip's lunch or to take with me to work for a snack. They're also fin to enlist kiddos to help with - they love to press buttons on kitchen gadgets, and as long as they don't lick their hands, they can easily help to knead in the coconut. Yum!

We had a super fun potluck this afternoon with a full house. There was a seriously disproportionate number of desserts to main dishes, which was awesome. The luck of the pot, as they say. There were a dozen kids here (a literal dozen, along with an additional four in utero!), and I only heard two tiny bouts of crying, neither of which was from my offspring. The rest of the time, everyone played together beautifully, which meant that the adults got to have a nice visit, too.

And now, I am tired. I'm going to get some leftover crème brûlée from the fridge (yes, we had guests who brought crème brûlée! And left us some!) and settle in to watch something mindless.

Hope you're having a good weekend, too.

2.01.2012

plans


I'm happy to share that our house is now listed with Modern Realty - our real estate agent (and friend) Louisette has started her own business, and we're her first listing (and her first sale, I hope!)

Eggs are beautiful. Not to mention delicious. They're also my reminder that our house will eventually sell, and the timing will work out so we have just the right place to have our little piece of land, our chickens, and a banging wall for the boys (it's the one thing I actually promised to Phillip - I hope the neighbours will be a suitable distance away, or have boys of their own!) I believe that this will happen eventually, because that's how I function in the world. The idea of the Law of Attraction kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies (earthquakes and other tragedies and all of that), but I am a relentlessly positive person, and I do see how that comes back around to me in many ways. Regardless of how I feel about it, I really enjoyed Rachel's post about her experience with the idea of manifesting.

A few silly things:
I haven't painted my nails since I was ten, but the teacher in me REALLY loves these.
Adam took this picture of the boys yesterday. Oh my.
How can you not smile at this?


Happy Wednesday!