Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 A Look Back

Wow, what a year it has been!

As we finish out this year I was looking back in my minds eye and thinking about all the things I've learned, people I've met, blessings I've received.  I'm amazed...

The year 2012 brought cancer to our family again.  My husband was diagnosed with Prostate cancer late in 2011, he received treatment in April of 2012, reached his six month milestone and is doing well.  
His Oncologist recently said "See you next year", praise God!

My oldest son and his fiance` told me I was going to be a Grandma, we are all so excited!

My two younger children are healthy, beautiful, smart and becoming the people God made them to be more and more each day.  I'm so proud of them.

(There aren't very many pictures of me)

I've learned this year how to be more self sufficient through other women's blogs and Pinterest,
my family has benefited from the new skills I've acquired.  I've enjoyed learning how to make homemade soaps, lotions, balms, shampoo, hair conditioner, laundry & dishwasher detergents, etc.

It gives me great pleasure to go up and down the grocery store isles knowing I don't need to fill my basket with many of their cleaning, health & beauty or convenience products, I can make my own that are just as good or even better. 

I've also learned how to preserve foods from our garden.

We rescued a homeless Boxer dog & he's learning how to be a house pet and that people are generally pretty nice.  He still has issues but he's coming along.  Maxine thinks he's lots of fun too.

All in all it's been a good year, I'm looking forward to 2013!

Thanks for visiting my blog today - Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hambo Stamps Mushrooms

I have a fun Splitcoaststampers sketch challenge card to share today, my layout is SCS sketch #413.
I stamped my Hambo Mushrooms #2902 on Copic X Press It blending card and colored with Copic markers using earth tones.  It was fun to experiment with the E20's, E30's, E40's & E50's beside each other to see what they would look like.  Here are the markers I used:

E49, E44, E42, E41
E37, E34, E31, E30
E50, E51, E53, E59
E21, E23, E25, E29
BV01, BV000, BV0000
YG01, YG13, YG25, YG67
RV00, RV02, RV04
Y08, Y19
B0000, B01

I cut out the image with Spellbinders Ovals before coloring and matted it on Via Vellum Black, the green is also by Via Vellum called Leaf Green, Papertrey Ink's Hibiscus Burst is the pink and the purple is Discount Card Stock's Cobalt.  I added texture using two different Cuttlebug embossing folders and rounded corners using a We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Splitcoaststampers - Sketch #413

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Paper Smooches Zoo Crew

Happy Saturday!

I have a fun black & white card to share today using Splitcoaststampers sketch challenge #403 using a stamp from the Paper Smooches Zoo Crew clear stamp set.  This was a fun quick card to make!

The Zebra print paper is digital, the "missing you" sentiment is from the Paper Smooches Circle of Honor stamp set and I used Spellbinders Circles.

Perfect for our Operation Write Home Midweek Throwdown challenge!

Thanks for visiting my blog today -


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Handmade Chocolate Espresso Crock Pot Soap

Hi blog friends, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

I saw that my Homemade Lemon Green Tea Crock Pot Soap was featured on the Frugally Sustainable blog and at the Clever Chicks blog hop, wow ... I'm totally honored and amazed!
I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who's been visiting and checking out my Tuesday/Wednesday Homemade blog post/tutorials.

I made a last minute batch of soap a couple of days before Christmas I wanted to share.  
I ordered a Chocolate Espresso Fragrance Oil from Brambleberry that arrived earlier than I expected so I just couldn't help myself!  After dinner I got out my big Crock Pot and went to work.  It was a little different,  I had to use my Stick Blender toward the end of the cooking process because the mixture seemed to have thinned and had separated.  I mixed and let it cook another 10 minutes and it was just fine.

My photo above is of the Chocolate Espresso Soap curing.  Our house is small so there isn't a really good spot to cure soap or lots of soap for that matter!  The headboard of our bed works well, I just put the bars of new soap on a wire baking rack and set it on the headboard.  
Each time I walk into our room I smell chocolate, it's delightful!

Recipe follows:

Chocolate Espresso Soap

Oils Selected                               Amount                  %

Castor Oil                                               4.0  oz                          10.8%
Coconut Oil (76 Degrees)                 9.00 oz                       24.3% 
Lard                                                         12.00 oz                      32.4%
Olive Oil                                                     8.00 oz                       21.6%
Shea Butter (Unrefined)                   4.00 oz                      10.8%
5% Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)Amount       5.113 oz
Ounces of liquid recommended              12.21 oz

Yields (3.39 lbs.)                                  54.32 oz  

2.8 oz Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
1 oz Cocoa Powder
When melting the cocoa butter and heating your oils, add the baking chocolate and cocoa powder

For Chocolate Espresso Fragrance Oil add 2.44 ounces for medium strength or 3.26 ounces for a really strong scent.

All of the wow with none of the guilt, this
fragrance oil will discolor your soap to a dark brown.  

Enjoy the recipe and thanks for visiting my blog today!

Link Parties:

Hambo Stamps Bailey Christmas

We have a new Hambo Hoedown starting today!

The theme is Anything Goes using a Hambo Stamp, the free stamp set we received for playing in the last challenge is called Bailey Christmas.  Isn't he cute?!

I decided to make a quick gift tag using Bailey and one of the sentiments from this set.  He's colored with Copic markers and the tag is an old Sizzix red die I kept. 

I hope you'll play in our Hambo Hoedown this week!

See you again soon, I'm enjoying some family time with my hubby and kids -

Friday, December 21, 2012

Maxine & Buster

Just a picture today of Maxine and Buster snuggling on the dog bed.
I've never seen them share this big pillow before.

Have a good pre Christmas weekend!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Memory Box Spearmint

I have an Anniversary card to share today from the dozen or so I made recently.

My layout is a sketch from Splitcoast Stampers that when I first saw it I wasn't sure what exactly to do with, now that I've used it I LOVE this sketch and use it as an old standby.  

I used a couple of  patterned papers from a Memory Box Spearmint pad and a piece of Papertrey Ink Ocean Tides card stock along with Stampin' Up! Barely Banana.  The butterfly is cut from the Cheery Lynn Designs Exotic Butterfly die.  Anniversary Wishes is an acrylic stamp from the Wishful Elegance set by Verve.  Envelope liner die by Papertrey Ink.

Thanks for visiting my blog today -


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Handmade Lemon Green Tea Soap in the Crock Pot

I've been inspired by a new soap making blogger friend so
I'm gathering supplies today to make a five pound batch of soap in my biggest crock pot!
Coconut Oil, Lard, Sweet Almond Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil...

Green Tea and Lye -

I've weighed out all the oils on a kitchen scale and have them in the crock pot on low to melt.

The Lye has been added to the green tea and is cooling in the kitchen sink.

In the time it takes for the oils to melt in the crock pot I've kept busy lining my five pound soap mold with non stick pan lining paper, that's all I could find when I went to the store and it works great.  
My stick blender is ready and waiting...

Edited to Add:  I've gained more experience soap making since this post was written and learned soap molds should NOT be lined with any type of aluminum foil.  Aluminum reacts with sodium hydroxide (lye) and can give off poisonous gases.  Wood molds can be lined with freezer paper, some soap makers use plastic bags for liners.  I've opted for silicon loaf molds so I don't need to line them anymore.

After the oils have melted slowly pour in the lye solution being careful not to splash.  Stir with the stick blender a few times before it's turned on.  Turn on the stick blender and start to blend the oil and lye together.  This batch took between 5 and 10 minutes to reach trace.  Trace looks like a thick pudding and when you lift your stick blender out the soap leaves a trace on top of the mixture.

The crock pot has been on low all this time, next put the top on and set your timer for 60 minutes.  The soap will go through a gel stage and cook, it takes about an hour on low.  Some soaps take a little longer, some take a little less than an hour.  Just keep an eye on it so it doesn't rise up and over flow out of your crock pot!

Pictured above is my Essential Oils measured out and waiting to be added to my final soap.

An hour has passed, my soap has gone through the gel phase and looks ready!

I removed the crock from the cooking pot to stir and help the soap cool a little before adding my essential oils for fragrance.  I should have waited longer because my fragrance is pretty much non existent, patience is a virtue =) they say...

It's time to scoop it into the waiting mold where it will stay for about 24 hours to cool.

The next day my soap is out of the mold and ready to slice into bars.

I'm not sure exactly what my soap cutting tool is called, my friend gave it to me and it has Pampered Chef embossed on the handle.  I like the way my soaps look when I use it.

I was able to get sixteen one inch thick bars of Lemon Green Tea soap from this recipe.

I know there's one missing here, it's in our shower!  The lather and bubbles this soap produces are lovely.

Anna at Nature's Home Spa inspired me to make this batch of soap, when I saw her Lemon Honey Green Tea soap I had to try it or something like it!  She has a wonderful blog making natural soaps and other beauty products, I hope you'll stop by and visit her too.  I didn't have the exact ingredients Anna had so I checked my oils and improvised a recipe using the Lye Calculator at Brambleberry.

 Lemon Green Tea Soap Recipe

Oils                                                         Amount               %

Almond Oil (Sweet)                                4.0 oz                 7.01%
Castor Oil                                               8.0 oz                 14.3% 
Coconut Oil (76 Degrees)                       8.0 oz                 14.3%
Lard                                                      32.00 oz               57.1%
Olive Oil                                                 4.0 oz                  7.01%
Lye - 5% (Sodium Hydroxide)                7.60 oz   
Ounces of liquid recommended              18.48 oz

Yields (5.13 lbs.)                                    82.08 oz

My Notes:

Optional Additives -
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Kelp Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
2 teaspoons ground Lemon Peel

2 teaspoons Lemon Essential Oil
1/2 teaspoon Lavender Essential Oil
1/2 teaspoon Tea Tree Essential Oil

Optional Variations -
Replace water with brewed green tea (chilled or frozen)

Feel free to use this recipe, if you don't have the same oils use what you have and be sure to run it through a lye calculator so you know exactly how much liquid and lye to add to your recipe.  I'd still recommend running my recipe through a lye calculator too.  I'm human and if I typed something wrong...

I hope you enjoyed my crock pot soap tutorial, thanks for visiting my blog!

Link Parties -

Adorned From Above

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Christmas

Hi blog friends!

I spent most of my day yesterday packaging and labeling all my homemade goodies for Christmas gift baskets, whew that was a lot of work!  The soaps I usually wrap in up-cycled tissue paper and add a "belly band" with the name and list of ingredients.

Half a dozen Orange Bath Fizzies, eleven packages of Calming Lavender Bath "Tea", five bars of Lavender Eucalyptus soap, two bars of Orange Honey Soap, ten bars of Lemon Green Tea Soap and the unwrapped bars of soap are from yesterday's experimental batch of Orange Oak Ylang soap.  Half is still in the mold waiting for my friend to come over and cut up her part, it smells divine!  I also added Orange Honey Lip Balm to my baskets.

I made up the mixture for the Bath Teas ahead and added a half cup to each large tea bag and sealed them with with my flat iron.   My 12 year old daughter thinks I'm weird.  She said her friends Mom's use their flat irons to straighten their hair not seal tea bags! 

The pile is shrinking a little. 

I still have left overs but I was able to fill six baskets for friends and family, 
I'm happy to say four out of six of my baskets are up-cycled too. 

All the baskets need are tags so we know who they are for.  
I still have packages to wrap so perhaps then?

I feel a little more prepared for Christmas now, how about you?

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lilyboo Dress Up Angel

I have a Lilyboo Designs card to share with you today!
My card is for Operation Write Home's Midweek Throwdown challenge and also uses Operation Write Home's Sketch #150 covering two challenges for this week.

I colored this cute Lilyboo digital image called Dress Up Angel with Copic markers:

Skin - E000, E00, E01, R20
Hair - W3, W5, W7, W9
Dress - G12, G21, G24, BV01, Y08, Y13
Wings - G0000, B0000
Glow - YR30, YR1

The OWH Midweek Throwdown challenge had an optional part to the challenge - to use punches or dies.  I used a new Banners Die-namics die and trimmed it then rounded the end corners with a We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper to mirror the other rounded corners.

My paper choices are mostly old Stampin' Up! colors, Certainly Celery, Garden Green & More Mustard.  I also used Copic X Press It and Via Vellum Black.  The sentiment is from the Papertrey Ink Fillable Frames Sentiment clear set.

Into my Operation Write Home box you go -

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Opearation Write Home - Midweek Throwdown Challenge
Operation Write Home - Sketch Challenge

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hambo Stamps Pig Tangle

Are you ready for the Hambo Hoedown this week?!

Our challenge is to make an Easel Card using a Hambo Stamps rubber stamp or digital image.
I used this week's digital stamp set called Pig Tangle and colored it with Copic markers:

Pig Skin - YR0000, YR000, YR00, R01, E11
Santa Suit - R000, R35, R46, R59
Lights - N3, YG93, B00, B01, Y35, Y28, YG13, YG25, R32, R35
Outline/Shadow - B0000

Hey have you heard the news at Hambo Stamps??? 
Starting now Hambo Stamps is carrying stamping supplies, you can check it out here!

I hope you'll have time to play along with us, be sure to stop by the Hambo Hoedown to be inspired by our design team creations!

Thanks for visiting my blog today -

Hambo Hoedown - Easel Card

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

In an effort to become more self sufficient and because I love to make things I'm making Elderberry Syrup on my blog today!  Our December weather in Arizona is still beautiful, as I sit and type up my blog post the windows and doors are open, I'm wearing jeans, short sleeve blouse and I'm barefoot.  Blue sky, bright sunshine and 75 degrees at home in Parker today.  

But... our kids are in school, winter visitors are arriving and cold and flu season is upon us.
This year when one of our family members gets that cold or flu bug we'll be ready to treat it and get well without having to go to the store for the appropriate remedy.   The thing I dislike the most about the over the counter cold and flu remedy's is the "non-drowsy" stuff they put in everything - makes me feel weird.  

The above picture is of the supplies I've gathered to make the Elderberry Syrup, I'll have the recipe at the end of my blog post.

Everything but the raw honey goes in a sauce pan to cook on the stove for 30 minutes.

The mixture has simmered for 30 minutes and is cooling before I strain it and add the raw honey.

After adding the raw honey, stirring until it dissolved I used a green glass beer bottle a friend brought over to me and made a label with directions for use and put it away in the refrigerator.

This was so easy to make and the house smells wonderful!

Elderberry Syrup Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried elderberries
3 cups distilled water
1/2 cup raw honey ( If you can get raw local honey it's best )
1 cinnamon stick, 3 whole cloves, and ginger (optional)

Place berries, distilled water, and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes or until a syrupy thickness. Mash the berries to release remaining juice and strain the mixture. Allow liquid to cool. Stir in raw honey only after mixture has cooled to preserve the enzymes and good stuff in the honey.
Elderberry Syrup will last 2-3 months when refrigerated.

Use: Child: Administer 1 teaspoon per day for prevention or 1 teaspoon per waking hour at the onset of cold/flu-like symptoms. Adult: Administer on same schedule, however increase dosage to 1 tablespoon.

Note: Not suitable for children under one year of age.

My favorite place to buy Elderberries online is Bulk Herb Store, they have fresh quality products.

My recipe, health benefits and directions for use came from Deep Roots at Home and Frugally Sustainable
I'm very thankful to be able to learn valuable skills of self sufficiency from these ladies.

Health Benefits:
Elderberry is used for its antioxidant activity, to lower cholesterol, to improve vision, to boost the immune system, to improve heart health, and for coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsillitis. Bioflavonoids and other proteins in the juice destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. Elderberry juice was used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.

Elderberries contain organic pigments, tannin, amino acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, sugar, rutin, viburnic acid, vitaman A and B and a large amount of vitamin C. These, including quercetin, are believed to account for the therapeutic actions of the elderberry flowers and berries.

Elderberries were listed in Mosby’s Nursing Drug reference for colds, flu, yeast infections, nasal and chest congestion, and hay fever. In Israel, Hasassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system, and they are treating cancer and AIDS patients with it.

Thanks for visiting my blog today -

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