For Valentines Day I am shooting for long lasting arrangements, as I do with any holiday. To aim for an arrangement that should last a good two weeks I would choose white snap dragons, as shown above, and pink carnations for the primary flowers. Add a few miniature purple carnation for contrast, a few roses and lilies for a focal flowers and you are all set. Since my birthday lands in mid February, I consider Valentines a national holiday. Because I am busy these days, I find silk flowers (as long as they look real)--are perfect. They last forever and cost about the same as real arrangements which means I save money. The flowers behind me in my kitchen window are silk geraniums as and such. They look real and if I am out of town, they do not keel over. To make those, I simply took flower pots, stuck dry floral foam in them, covered the foam with moss and used body wax to secure the moss to the foam. (My glue gun was on the missing list that day.) I then just cut some silks apart I found on sale and made them appear to be meant for those pots. I think I made them all for $3 each. I feel I could sell them to friends for $10 each. In the store they would cost a good $15 each. You could even paint the terra cotta now which is a popular thing to do. Recently, I came across www.petals.com that offer the most tasteful and affordable arrangements on the web. Right now they have free shipping on any orders over $50 so I will be securing a silk arrangement for the dining table that has year round appeal. I may just pop in a few seasonal colors into a classic arrangement as the seasons change. I made a hint to family I would rather have silks this year. Allowing one of your favorite roses to float in a mason jar on your kitchen counter is still a very eye pleasing practice.
Making Heart Shaped Bath Tea's with Coffee Filters
I do not have a photo of this one, but it is very nice project, easy and oh so pretty. Simply draw a heart on a V-shaped coffee filter, then stuff with your favorite herbs or bath teas. When you are done stuffing, simply sew around the heart and trim the edges when you are done sewing. A sewing machine makes it worth the effort and offers the ability to do many in fifteen minutes. I would pile 6 on top of each other, and secure with a pink satin ribbon to give as a gift for Valentines. You may want to do the same thing for sachets or dream pillows. I think that would also offer much longer purpose of the final product. You could then stuff the coffee filter with downy sheets, lavender blossoms, or whatever you have handy! You could also glue gun some pretty objects to the final heart shaped filter. My book, The Bathroom Chemist discusses recipes for dream pillows, sachets and the like.
Valentines is the perfect occasion to give rose scented soy candles in frosted jars and heart shaped soaps in vanilla and cherry spice. We still love to add a little melted beeswax to our soy candles because it gives it a beautiful opaque and rich quality while adding to the burning time. Hemp wicks are also ideal for the soy line and do burn longer. 2007 Update: We found Hemp Wicks to be a Fad--they tend to smoke. Cotton wicks are still the best for SoyWax.
For the month of February 2003, new subscribers and present subscribers will get a free bath bomb factory kit. Being a subscriber is more than just being on our e-mail list. Click here to learn what subscribers get. Over to lip balm, our last focus area, I like making lip balm and solid perfume so much now, I secured www.lipbalmsupplies.com. The Grand Opening offer for this site is to buy one lip balm making kit and get one free for a friend. That is a great offer. After much searching, I found there is not enough product on the web, including lip balm flavors or lip balm related products. More over, I wanted to buy a clear double compartment locket to wear around my neck with lip balm I created on one side and solid perfume I made on the other. I know I would really enjoy this as I travel and it would be a great conversation piece. Well, no one sells such a thing, not even close. So I am creating our own at Mabel. The lockets we make will be heart shaped and round shaped. They will have a decent sized jump loop, so the person using a locket can use a silk cord or metal chain of their preference and length to wear the locket. As a side note, Chanel #22 is my favorite perfume but they no longer sell it. I have been trying to re-create the all white flower perfume for some time. Last week I smelled carnation essential oil for the first time, and I basically found my Chanel #22 formula! I would have never guess all white carnations.
The new "Self Apothecary" contains all the new contemporary recipes including making your own bath oils beads. I never thought I could make bath oils beads, but after seeing a staff member do it--they were great. Several people are writing me about no fizz to their bombs. This is because they bought a low grade of citric acid and no supplier seems to sell the highest grade but Mabel. This is because most people do not know the difference. We had a chemical company send us all grades and explain the issue as we looked at prices.
As a side soap note, the wife's of the military stationed over seas have been of great help to me. I asked them how they make their cold process soap hard, and they said they always place a blanket or sleeping bag over the mold during the 24 hour cool down time. That was a shock to me! They swear it helps hardness by 20%. I have asked them to write some articles and they are happy to accommodate. They have mentioned to get lye is outrageous over there. I find a little Shea Butter makes a bar hard and shiny. 2007 Update: *See Curing Soap in the Oven in more recent issues. 2 1/2 hours at 180 Degrees really does it and saves a lot of counter space issues. We use PVC plumbing molds or the newer silicone baking molds.
The best soap I ever made is shown above. (I think they are all the best soap.) It is my melt and pour Kitchen Deodorizer bar made with simple white melt and pour soap and vanilla fragrance oil in the first layer and a second layer of coffee grounds added in to the vanilla mixture. The grounds seem to rise to the top and gives the appearance that three layers were poured. Recently, while playing in the tub, I saw that I like Cold Process and Melt and Pour equally as much. Both have different advantages. Melt and pour is fast, easy and offers the humectants of glycerin. Cold process is harder, perceived as "real" soap, and fairly sturdy. So, I am going to pour cold process soap half way into any mold and when it has cooled down, I will pour the remainder with melt and pour that I know will set quickly. I plan to make quite a bar where one half is very cleansing and the other very nourishing with the glycerin. I can also do more fancy things with the second layer, the melt and pour, such as use a clear base and add lavender buds, (that would not do well in the CP method.) So, the appearance of this bar will be very classy, more so if I attempt to use the same color for both mediums. For example, I will make a Cold Process Emu Soap that I know comes out a true crème color. I find Emu the most luxurious soap ever and I am totally spoiled by it. The second layer I may make with a clear glycerin and just add honey vanilla scent. But the over all bar, half crème and half clear, should look smashing and truly serve a dual purpose in the tub. This will also lower my overall cost of Emu per bar if half of each bar is a less expensive glycerin base.
Cheap Ways to Add Life to Your House
Rich people use the word "in-expensive" and I say cheap. Whoever said "necessity was the mother of invention" was not kidding. No one can write a book about how to "get by with less" unless they had to do it. Not feeling too well last month, I was compelled to still do something. Much of my success was simply in making old items VERY clean! The smell alone is worth it. Beyond replacing old light bulbs and adjusting lighting, adding music where possible, here is what I did this month to each room with just a few dollars:
I found all my cleaning products were rather dirty, and not organized, so I had to start there. I threw out some, combined some, and found some I had long forgot I had. With girls in college, things do develop legs and walk out the door. I started with cleaning out the vacuum and air vents, also adding some fragrance oil on the filters. Wow, what a change! That helped every part of the house. Also, making items more available in each room was an added bonus in itself. For example I keep all paper products and cleaning products in one part of the house and I am always having to take a hike to get them. This time I distributed them where they would be needed. I also cleaned all silk flowers in all rooms. Difficulty level? 2.
I hand washed my living room furniture covers and cut up old pillows to revive extra foam for stuffing. Over time they sag and I have not done this in a few years. I now appear to have a new living room set and the revival cost me nothing. I was about to throw the old bed pillows out due to stains. I was even able to simply just re-arrange a few couch pillows in a better way making a major difference in the over all look of the living room. I will be taking nice family photos, converting them to black and white and blowing them up for the living room wall. Difficulty level? 4
I purchased a new shower curtain because the last one could not stand another cleaning. A new liner is only two dollars and I think I spent $1 in Clorox trying to keep it clean--not counting the value of my time in that instance. I also spruced up the bathroom by making my own bath items with stuff from around the house such a salts, food coloring and baking sodas. I also cleaned the bathroom very well, and put a few candles around, which did wonders. Difficulty level? Very high if the bathroom is in use.
Here I simply swapped out pillows and sewed a bed liner that was obviously ripping apart. Cleaning the sheets with lots of downy was the hallmark and throwing sachets or fabric softener sheets in my drawers as even I forget to do, was a very nice thing to do. Placing a note pad and pen by my bed, to write down things as I awake was also helpful.
Simply organizing this area gave me many more resources that I did not know I had. There were many items I thought I had long lost, NOT. A few new dish towels and over mitts were all the kitchen sorely needed, along with a good cleaning of the appliances and floor. I have a patio near by with river rock and I simply used a paint roller to roll two coats of wax over it and it sparkles. We will mention again the Kerr Jelly Jars in the 8 Ounce sizes are a beautiful and cheap addition to your drinking glasses. They are sold at Walmart and run about 50 cents each. Also very "country" and pretty to look at. The jar to the top left is a 4 ounce.
The military wives over seas suggested this, as one way to feel more at home. I don't know about you, but I would also like a REPLY ALL on-going discussion group about soap making, cooking and such. Some of you sell your product and you can share the best selling items and so on. There are many times I have a simple question and many of you could answer it. It is also neat to hear what experiments the cooks, soapers, candle makers and bathroom chemist are trying and what worked out great. If you would like to be a part of the REPLY ALL discussion group, you must always hit reply all when talking to the group, and not just one person. That is rude. This does not mean all members of this group need be present or read the thoughts for the day, but at least no one is left out and someone may know the answer. If you are interested please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and subject title "Group." I will add you in. You can request to get off the list if you see too many e-mails going back and forth for your taste. Anyone in the group may answer question's they feel they know.
Your Own Godiva: Making Chocolate is Easy!
I hate to disappoint those eager to learn how to make their own chocolates by stating the mere fact you just melt it in the microwave and pour it! That is all folks! As Valentines and Easter come upon us, I will write more about making chocolate with techniques and photos. I do hope you try to make your own. The secret is not to buy the store bought melt and pours--or the craft store coins. I find them everything BUT chocolate and actually quite gross. In fact I think they put wax in those because it is cheaper than chocolate. I would find a place that sells to bakers, the real chocolate coins. They come in dark, milk and white. They are about $6 a pound last I knew. THAT is real chocolate! I buy pretty molds, and can even use soap molds to pour the chocolate into. Like my angel soap mold. I would pour some chocolate, then stick graham cracker and marshmallow in the middle and then pour chocolate to fill up the rest of the mold. That may be so rich it would take a week to eat, but HEY! Who cares. You may also dip things like dried pineapple and make your own expensive looking treat. Chocolate Bunnies come out very pretty, and they are not hollow and waxy! I only melt the chocolate enough to make it liquid. Too much microwave can scald it. The white chocolate is the most delicate. It needs to be poured quickly as it is quick to scald and quick to cool. As a Valentine project you may want to cut out Rice Crispie Treats with heart shaped cookie cutters and dip them into chocolate. Decorate later with cake icings. But find a source for chocolate. If you do not use it now, you will use it later.
Valentine Traditions by Judea Bentley
Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine's Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:
Good morning to
In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it
means she will marry him.