Vegan Soap Recipe No. 2

During this time of uncertainty, I have found myself falling back upon activities and projects that brought me happiness in the past.  One particular task that seems to always give me a sense of peace is soap-making.  There is something about the slow process, the circular motion of mixing, and the smells of oils wafting throughout the kitchen that puts my mind at ease.

What I look forward to most is that hopefully by the time this batch of soap is cured, we will be out of the quarantine and basking in the summer sunlight with our friends and family members.

This go-round I decided to try throwing a new fat into the mix…shea butter.  I love the smooth, creamy texture the shea butter gave to this soap and I cannot wait to see how it feels on the skin! I also wanted to try to bring some summer love to this batch, so I sprinkled some dried calendula pedals (from last year’s garden) onto the top of the soap before curing.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I look forward to sharing more at-home projects with you throughout this strange time in our world’s history.  Be safe and be well, friends.

Vegan Soap Recipe No. 2

5 cups distilled water

12 oz lye

10 cups organic unrefined coconut oil

2 cups //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B07S9H5BYG&asins=B07S9H5BYG&linkId=fd80223b29de721b03c43d397b4e75a5&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff” data-wplink-url-error=”true”>organic shea butter

Essential oils of your choosing (if desired)

Brazilian clay of your choosing (if desired) (I used yellow Brazilian clay in this particular batch.)

*Before you get started, please know that making soap with lye can be very dangerous.  You MUST be sure you are wearing proper gloves and eyewear at all times, and you must be in a well ventilated room!  

Step 1:  In a large stainless steel bowl, carefully stir the lye into the distilled water.  Stir continuously until all the lye is dissolved.  (This mixture can rise in temperature to almost 200 degrees, so again, proceed with caution.)  Allow the lye-water mixture to cool to 75 degrees.  This can often take several hours.

Step 2:  Warm the coconut oil and shea butter in a stock pot until it becomes liquid.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 80-85 degrees.

Step 3:  In a very slow and steady stream, carefully add the coconut oil and shea butter to the lye-water mixture while stirring constantly.

Step 4:  Once all the coconut oil and shea butter has been added, I use an immersion blender to get the soap to reach trace phase (the consistency of a thick honey).

Optional Step:  If adding essential oils, blend the oils in at this time.  And if adding clay for coloring your soap:  mix a tablespoon of clay with .25-.50 mL of your chosen essential oil.  Partially mix the clay into the soap mixture so it streaks.

Step 5:  Pour mixture into soap molds.  Cover with plastic.  I then place lots of old beach towels on top of the plastic wrap to help insulate the soap.

Step 6:  Allow your soap to remain insulted for 3-4 days.  Then remove the soap from the molds, cut the soap (if necessary), and place on a cooling rack.

Step 7:  Allow your soap to cure on the cooling rack for at least 2 months before using.

Home

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The last few weeks have kept us very busy with a variety of DIY projects around the house.  With the absolutely beautiful weather gracing us, my girls and I decided to take advantage, move school outside most days, and just get after it.

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We first needed to fashion a new table for our deck.  Our old table, after weathering many a Midwestern winters, had finally called it quits and we needed another piece on which all of our summer family dinners could take place.  I happened to find a local woman who was selling barn wood, so we ventured to her barn and listened to a wonderful story of a Swedish family who immigrated to the Rockford area with hopes of building a family farm.  They bought property on the corner of Baxter and Mulford Roads and there constructed a home in 1902.  Later, in 1903, they gathered with neighbors to build a barn in which to begin their farming venture.

We brought home three 10-foot boards, washed them, and ran over them once with some sandpaper.  I then applied three coats of //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=makofahom-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B000C011CE&asins=B000C011CE&linkId=96a4608fd8c32411f7f8bbe7d4f64747&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>an exterior marine polyurethane to all sides of each board.  I connected the boards with 2 x 4’s in order to create a removable table top that I can bring inside during the winter months.  I then created “table legs” using cinder blocks.  I was so thrilled once the project was complete because I was able to craft a one-of-kind ten-foot table to entertain upon for under $100.

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My girls and I also got busy building a backyard washing station. While visiting Koviashuvik Living School in Temple, Maine last August, I was struck by all the ways in which the Knapp family used seemingly random household objects to craft “new” devices to serve a very sustainable purpose.  Our washing station is not completely sustainable, as we do plan to start our washing process with city water from our home, but our hope is to eliminate one avenue of waste through this process.  (And keep my kitchen cleaner too!) Each garden season we are faced with what to do with the dozens upon dozens of 5 gallon buckets filled with dirt-caked veggies that make their way into our kitchen.  Enter…our OUTDOOR veggie washing station 🙂

We had a random cement slab that was found in our yard when we bought our house and it has been milling about under a tree ever since.  So, with much assistance from my strength-and-conditioning-coach hubby, we moved the cement slab near our backyard water spigot.  I used the old legs from our outdoor table we had just scraped, and attached them to a countertop my dad had just removed from his basement during a remodel.  I then placed a washtub next to the table, with a bucket beneath the drain.  We plan to plug the washtub, dump in our muddy produce, and fill the tub with our nearby hose-water.  Once all the veggies have been scrubbed clean and placed in a strainer on the table, we can drain the tub into the bucket and then use that greywater to water our plants with.  And all of this will happen outside, and now only gloriously clean veg will make its way into my kitchen.

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And last, but certainly not least of our DIY adventures of late, I have created a spot in the garden entirely for me.  I moved around some aimless pieces that had been littering our property and used them as the basis for this new space.  I then crafted prayer flags and stitched each stitch with a heartfelt intention.  So here I stand to greet my morning, in my very own corner of the garden, setting positive intentions for my day.

Wishing you all a productive, yet peaceful start to your week.

 

 

Social

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My girls and I have found a new love:  ceramics.  We happened upon a class that had some open seats and immediately we knew it was a match made in Heaven.

A common misconception of homeschooled-children is that they lack socialization.  My experience (be it only a brief one and a half years so far) has illustrated to me that the exact opposite is actually true.  Not only do my girls interact with children their own age while at homeschool co-op, through sports and camps, and during their involvement in scouts, homeschooling allows time for my girls to interact with those much younger and older than them.  My girls love helping out with the little bitty ones when they are at the YMCA or at co-op, and they also cherish the moments they get to spend with residents of their great grandmother’s retirement community.

Our new-found ceramics class has also offered my girls a wonderful opportunity to, not only learn a wide array of artistic techniques, but also interact with a lovely group of ladies of an older generation.  My girls love listening to their stories, and watching their experienced hands craft the most beautiful pieces of art.  Our time spent in the studio on Tuesdays with these women is definitely a life experience for which I am so very grateful.

Old Becomes New

A few years back I shared with you my love of all things old:  books, clothes, music and furniture.  I love that in nourishing vintage items, we can breath life into them and make the old become new.

My husband’s grandmother recently got some new digs, and she was unable to fit all of her furniture in her new place.  I was thrilled when she asked if I could use them for something.  Yes, please.

It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some clearance fabric can do!  The only downside of this project is that now I have the itch…and I want to do oh so much more 🙂

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The Apothecary

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About a year ago, my husband bought me this fabulous piece of furniture for a late birthday present.  I had been eyeing it for a couple years at a great local shop, and I knew exactly what I would use it for if ever I was lucky enough to take it home with me.  So, when it finally made its way across the threshold and in the confines of my house, I immediately went to work at crafting my vision: my very own apothecary cabinet.

Since establishing my apothecary cabinet in my kitchen, I have experimented with a slew of tonics, tinctures, and the like.  One of my most recent favorites is my “Homemade Refreshing Face Mask.”  This mask is made with bentonite clay, known for its healing and detoxifying properties.  To this clay, I add some invigorating organic non-alcohol witch hazel with aloe vera, and frankincense essential oil, which in my option is one of the best oils you can use on the regular.

So this weekend, pamper yourself with this treat 🙂

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Homemade Refreshing Face Mask

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons bentonite clay, 1 drop Frankincense, and enough witch hazel to form a paste.  Mix slowly until a paste forms.  With your fingers, smooth the clay over your face, being sure to avoid your eyes.  Allow the mask to rest on your face for 5-8 minutes.  Wash off with warm water.

 

Obsessed

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Obsessed.  There is no other way to describe what is happening in this house right now after discovering this new craft.  The possibilities are endless.

A Vessel

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Friends, I’m telling you, there are times when it is just awesome to have a dad who owns a hardware store.  For those times you want to paint a room, or unclog a drain, or make a basket.  Wait, what? Yup.  I think I did indeed just find a new obsession:  rope basket making.

For months now, I have been eying Amanda Blake Soule’s baskets made with clothesline on her blog.  I yearned to make one myself, but was not confident in my sewing ability.  Then Taproot’s “Folk” issue arrived on my doorstep, and within its pages were step-by-step instructions for these rope baskets.  So, this week I decided to give it a try.  I went to my dad’s hardware store, bought some clothesline, and got to work.

Now let me be clear…I am by no means a seamstress.  I can barely handle sewing pajama pants and nightgowns for my girls.  So believe me when I tell you, these baskets are a cinch to make, and so much fun!  And there is something so meditative about working in a circular pattern, which made this particular project that much more wonderful.  Once I got started, I couldn’t stop.  Have I said making this basket was a blast?  🙂

Dinner ended up being super late to the table and my family was starving, but I made a fabulous basket!  I think I will find myself in the rope aisle of my dad’s hardware store again very soon.  Man, this is fun!

(P.S.  If you are in my family, plan to get a basket for your birthday this year.  And Christmas.  And on a random Tuesday.)

Vegan Soap Recipe

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Friends, I am so very excited to share with you my vegan soap recipe today!  It is a recipe I have been experimenting with for several months now, and at this point I am very happy with the way the soap is turning out.  I also worked with Brazilian clay this go round, and I am thrilled with those results as well.

This soap recipe has been a gradual evolutionary project for me.  When I began making soap many years ago, I used a melt-and-pour base to which I added essential oils, herbs, and other fun things.  I then moved on to making my own cold-pressed soap using a combination of lard and coconut oil.  My struggle with making this type of soap was that at times when I did not have access to lard from a pig in which I knew the farmers that raised it, I was using lard purchased from the grocery store.  I had a hard time with this because I am so careful to consume (and feed my family) foods in which I feel confident in its raising/growing, and here I was, making soap that would go be lathered onto the largest organ of our bodies (our skin!) and I didn’t know where it came from.  I started to seek an alternative for our family during those months when we did not have access to local lard, and this is the result of those efforts.  I hope you enjoy!

Vegan Soap Recipe

5 cups distilled water

12 oz lye

12 cups organic unrefined coconut oil

Essential oils of your choosing (if desired)

Brazilian clay of your choosing (if desired)

*Before you get started, please know that making soap with lye can be very dangerous.  You MUST be sure you are wearing proper gloves and eyewear at all times, and you must be in a well ventilated room!  (I never, ever make soap when my children are awake.  It is not worth the risk of having them underfoot in any way.  I normally make soap very late at night after my household is asleep.  I open all of the windows in the kitchen, turn on all of our ceiling fans, and then begin.) 

Step 1:  In a large stainless steel bowl, carefully stir the lye into the distilled water.  Stir continuously until all the lye is dissolved.  (This mixture can rise in temperature to almost 200 degrees, so again, proceed with caution.)  Allow the lye-water mixture to cool to 75 degrees.  This can often take several hours.

Step 2:  Warm the coconut oil in a stock pot until it becomes liquid.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool to 80-85 degrees.

Step 3:  In a very slow and steady stream, carefully add the coconut oil to the lye-water mixture while stirring constantly.  (I often have my husband help with this process.  I slowly stir the lye-water mixture while my husband ladles in the coconut oil.)

Step 4:  Once all the coconut oil has been added, I use an immersion blender to get the soap to reach trace phase (the consistency of a thick honey).

Optional Step:  If adding essential oils, blend the oils in at this time.  And if adding clay for coloring your soap:  mix a tablespoon of clay with .25-.50 mL of your chosen essential oil.  Partially mix the clay into the soap mixture so it streaks.

Step 5:  Pour mixture into soap molds.  Cover with plastic.  I then place lots of old beach towels on top of the plastic wrap to help insulate the soap.

Step 6:  Allow your soap to remain insulted for 3-4 days.  Then remove the soap from the molds, cut the soap (if necessary), and place on a cooling rack.

Step 7:  Allow your soap to cure on the cooling rack for at least 2 months before using.

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An Afternoon Project

As we prepared to begin our homeschooling adventure last week, I needed to do some pretty hefty cleaning and organizing.  Our crafting space in our basement needed some extra special attention because it had gotten a bit out of control over the course of the last two years.  (Yes, I am sad to say this is how long it had been since I organized this space.  And maybe how long it had been since I had cleaned it too.  Ooops.)

Anyway, while organizing my hovel, I found a ton of scrap fabric that was just asking to be used for something quick and fun.  So I pulled out one of my favorite crafting books, The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule and her husband Stephen Soule, and got to work on the handkerchief pattern.  I love using this pattern to make cloth napkins so as to not contribute more waste to the landfills with paper napkins, and it also helps me to get rid of lots of scrap fabric.  It’s a win win.

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Winter Sewing

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My sewing machine spent it’s summer and fall days collecting a nice little layer of dust in my basement.  I never really felt overly drawn to it during those months.  I’m guessing because my time and attention focused on all of the outside work that needed to be done, and sewing never really seemed to fit with that particular rhythm.

But now all of that has changed.  It’s darker earlier, it’s colder outside, and it’s time to begin sewing again.  I have quite the stack of projects in the works, because I couldn’t decide on just one project to start.  It all seemed so fun!  I have forced myself to get a bit more organized in the past few days, and I’ve now completed a pair of nice flannel night gowns for my two favorite gals.  My little ones much prefer to wear night gowns than any other form of pajama, and I’m happy to oblige.  For is there anything cuter than a little girl snuggled up in a warm comfy night gown?  I cannot think of anything better.