Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's a clean hobby......

Well, I've been reading up on the internet about making homemade soaps. Now, some people actually make their soap using the original old-fashioned methods, which incorporate cooking up batches of animal fat (from the butcher) and caustic lye.
Although this is probably the true homemade way, after reading about how you should open your window when cooking up these batches and the length of time it takes, between the prep work and the weeks-long curing of the soap, I decided to take a short cut. After all, I'm just a beginner in this soap-making venture.
So, I went to the craft store and bought my supplies. I don't care if anyone thinks this is cheating. You can buy the "soap base" bricks online cheaper than at the craft store; but I wanted to buy my project ingredients right away in anticipation of a "snow day".
You buy the soap base, which is basically a slab of non-scented, uncolored soap. It is scored so that you can cut the amount that you need to heat up for each pour.
You can either use the microwave oven to heat up the soap base; or you can use a double boiler on the stove top.
After heating up the base, it's time to pour the melted base into molds. You can add colors and scents at this time. You can add the color and stir before you pour or you can put a few droplets of color into the mold after it's filled. A slight mix with a toothpick will swirl the color through. This is a blank canvas, so you can do whatever you please at this point.
I made a couple of swirly concoctions (the tie dye look) and several solid colors, too, experimenting with amounts of color and differing amounts of fragrance.
My first batch consisted of various shades and two different scents. One is eucalyptus/mint and the other is cucumber/melon.
Both smell fresh and pleasant.
I really enjoyed this new hobby and I plan on trying different molds and different styles of soaps. (Some are clear with interesting designs "floating" through them.)
You can also tuck a tiny duck or other toy right into the center of a clear soap for kids. These sound cute, but you have to be careful with toys small enough to choke on; and I was thinking that if a kid is young enough to like soap with a toy in the middle, they are probably still using a type of baby wash which is safer around the eyes. Also, although there are many molds available to purchase, a quick look around the house will yield unique molds such as cookie cutters, muffin tins or sections of drain pipe. (seriously) You can also pour a "loaf" and slice it later when it is set.
For those with a discerning eye, you can see a few bubbles that remained after I poured the soap into the molds. Although you can eliminate those by spritzing with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol, I wasn't set up with all of the supplies yet.
But then again, it's SOAP, people. Tiny bubbles won't last long after the first use under warm water. I loved making my first batch and I think the best part of this hobby is that every bar that you make is a unique creation.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all........

HERE'S A NICE IDEA! (click to enlarge)

A cozy fire

Plenty of goodies

games for the kids
L'il elf herself

Christmas display at Hollywood Studios, Disney World

These pics represent a Christmas combo. The first ones were taken at my brother's house on Christmas Eve. Latter ones taken today when we had dinner at my daughter's house and saw what Santa brought to the kids.
The last photo was at the Hollywood Studios and I was glad to see this creche displayed because this is the reason for our Christian holiday. In recent years the ACLU has targeted Christians by trying to legislate what can be displayed in various cities and towns. P.S. to the American Civil Liberties Union: Jesus is the one who gives true liberty. Hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Little Caylee

She's in God's hands.

BYOG: bring your own gum

<---God's beautiful earth
Osborn Family Lights
R&R at Magic Kingdom

Nana & Donald
Grampa & Mickey
Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

Well, we just returned from a week at Disney World in Florida. Every day was perfect, and we had rain on one day only. That was the day that little Caylee Anthony's remains were found in Orlando.

Looking across to the Boardwalk

When we first arrived at our hotel, we had planned to stay one night at the Caribbean Beach. Upon check in, they decided that it would make more sense to send us over to the Yacht Club because we were staying the rest of the week at the Beach Club Resort, which is also a part of the Yacht Club next door. We didn't resist being upgraded and they sent us over by taxi, giving us a voucher to pay the taxi driver. The accommodations were lovely and we could walk over to Epcot.
In the hotel lobby we found a carousel made of gingerbread and chocolate. I did not lick it....just for the record.
(Well, there was a fence around it....)
We also walked out on the pier to catch the ferry which took us across to the Boardwalk, where relatives were staying; and we also used that mode of transportation to go over to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios.
If you've been to all of the parks, I know there's no need to mention all of the many attractions and things to do at Disney.
Let's just say that it was incredible to see flowers blooming in December and the weather was just like one of our Massachusetts Spring days. When it was chilly in the mornings, we noticed the natives wearing winter coats! We chuckled at that, because we saw on the news that they were having destructive ice storms and snow at home. Floridian natives had better stay where they are, I think.
The service at Disney was impeccable, of course. However, I must say that in every hotel gift shop we found that they do not sell gum. Actually, that's probably a smart move on their part, what with hundreds of thousands of children who would probably chew, pop and stick gum all over the place each year.
So, if you're going to Disney World, BYOG.
Just as we decided that we had found our way around the services offered and the paths to take, car, waterway or bus to each location....it was time to leave.
Although I was not ready to return to cold New England, my cats were calling. Well, actually, I did the calling. I was told that one of my cats was crying in distress while I was gone, so I called the girls during the week and left them a message so that they could hear my voice. They have been sticking close by since we returned.