Soap Sudz

As much as I love old beat up stuff.. I have to draw the line at my skin. As I get older, I refuse to have my skin get older with me. I learned many years ago to get out of the sun and take better care of my skin because I refused to look my age. I accidently learned how nice hand-made soap and lotions were for your skin.. and I have never looked back. My mother had purchased a bar of cold process soap for me and I had it sitting in a dish because it was decorative. Well, I ran out of soap and was forced to use the decorative bar. WHAT a difference in my skin. I was hooked and on a path of learning to make my own.

 Hand-made soap does not tend to dry your skin and you can even use it to wash your hair. Chemicals added to commercial products to increase and stabilize lather are not found in hand made products. They will initially feel a bit different on first use, but you will be loving the feel of your skin. If your skin tends towards an oily side, use soaps that have clays in them. The clay absorbs the skin’s oil and the clay leaves a silky smoothness behind. Adding things like goat milk and oatmeal also affects the final bar and the properties it brings to your skin. 

 Because of the time it takes to make these products andthe expense of oils like olive , they are more expensive than a bar of soap you purchase at the grocery store.. but believe me.. you are worth it. Give up one coffee a day and splurge on a hand-made bar of soap for a special treat. Cold process soap involves combining oils and butters with lye to create a new product ~ soap. By choosing oils and butters by the properties they bring to the finished soap, you can create bars that have great lather or are very moisturizing.

Castile soaps, made with 100% Olive Oil are the most moisturizing for your skin. Using a high Olive Oil content in any soap will increase the bar of soaps conditioning value for your skin. This oil is good for dry skin and creates a long-lasting, non-drying mild bar of soap with creamy lather. No other soap making oil contributes its unique set of characteristics. It retains moisture to the skin by forming a breathable layer but does not block the skin’s natural functions while performing its own.

Another favorite oil for me to use in soap making is Grapeseed. This oil is rich in vitamins, minerals, and other essential fatty acids which help strengthen tissue cells. This oil helps preserve the natural moisture of the skin and is great for damaged or aging skin. You will find I also like to add this oil to butters and lotions as well.

To get a nice, rich lather in a bar of soap I use coconut oil. This oil will produce a bar of soap that will lather in the hardest water and even sea water if the bar is made of a high percentage of this oil. This is a light and penetrating oil that when used in soaps makes lots of rich, creamy lather that will not clog pores and is readily absorbed into the skin. To see other oils used in soap making and their properties check out THIS PAGE on our web site.

Hand-made soaps are a process. Because of the lye, care must be take with their creation. And to be sure all the lye is use by the soap oils to become soap, calculations determining how much lye is needed have to be figured. When we create our soaps, we do what is called super fatting. We calculate the oils needed to convert the lye and have 5% of the oils that remain unreacted with the lye.. a safety margin and extra conditioning factor for the soap.

The required lye is measured into water and it immediately heats up to over boiling. This must cool down as you melt your solid oils and butters. Again, each oil has to measure exactly to the formula specifications. When everything is about 100 degrees, the lye solution can be combined with the oils and mixing then begins. Some recipes blend into soap in about 5 minutes, some take several hours.. and a few can make instant soap. Not a fun thing to put into a mold. It can easily take half a day to make a batch of soap.

Our soaps are ready to unmold the next day. They will air dry another day or two before we cut them and put them away to dry for 6-8 weeks. This is a cure time for them. Water evaporates from them and they become more solid and hard. I have used a week old bar in the shower with no harm.. they just tend to go quicker because of their softness.

After they drying process our soaps are then shrink wrapped and labeled. We hope to get in the back and get more of our soaps made this month. Soap making is not easy to do when the shop is busy because of all the measuring, and when the batch starts to turn to soap, it has to be poured immediately. When we do get some made I will have some small pieces that I will offer as samples. I have used hand-made soaps and body products for over 10 years now.. and because it has made such a big difference in my skin I want to encourage others to experience it as well.

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Published in: on March 13, 2010 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Eggs-Actly PrimiTive

I enjoy searching the net looking for ideas and products related to Country and Primitive decor. I like to make things myself.. when I have the time.. so like to check out patterns. These Primitive Easter Eggs are darling in this small basket. The price of the pattern is only $4 and you get her staining recipe as well. Make up several to use around your home in baskets and bowels. Click on the picture or HERE for the site to order.

According to the site, this egg pattern kit is a ‘No Sew’ pattern. This might be a good project to do with kids. The eggs are beautiful and the rich colors would be great in any Prim home. An old basket, some grass or straw and these rustic eggs and you have a nice touch for the coming season. Click HERE or on the picture to check out the sellers web site.

While you are on this site check out the articles and the rest of the information contained on the site. I have been here before I have gotten a lot of info here.

Another very nice site with lots of great patterns. These eggs are very cool and I fell in love with several of the patterns on the site as well. I particularly love the Woolie Sheep.. and am tempted to get that pattern for myself. I just don’t know when I will find the time to make them. Maybe when I get moved later this year I will have a few evenings to myself.. lol.. time to wake up from that dream. 🙂 anyway, click HERE to visit the site and enjoy.

Chicken Spagetti

When I moved to Texas I was treated to a dish called Chicken spaghetti. I  had envisioned a spaghetti sauce with chicken chunks instead of beef.. boy was I wrong. The dish is creamy and different from what most people think of spaghetti. It is a good recipe to bring to church functions and pot luck dinners as it is easy and feeds a lot of people. So, for you Northerners that have not heard of it, give it a try.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup oleo or olive oil 
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 2 can (12 oz) chicken broth more or less to taste
  • 1 can (12 oz) of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can (12 oz) of cream of mushroom soup
  • 3 cups of diced cooked chicken
  • 1 can (16 oz) of rotel tomatoes
  • 1 pound thin spaghetti cooked in; chicken broth
  • 1/2 pound of velveeta cheese sliced; more or less to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

Preparation

In a large skillet,  saute bell pepper and onion in oleo or olive oil if you prefer.  Cut chicken into bite-size pieces as it’s cooking. Use 3 cups of chicken. I’ve used canned chicken as well as dropping a whole bird in water and simmering till done, then removing the meat. If you boiled the bird, you have to stock to use for the spaghetti.

 Cook the spaghetti in boiling water or chicken broth until just slightly cooked “al dente”.  Add cut up chicken, all soups and the Ro-tel tomatoes. Stir into the spagetti. Cut the Velveeta into chunks and add.. stirring until melted.

Serve up a large portion and enjoy! The Ro-tel adds some kick.. if it is too much, use less the next time.

Published in: on March 5, 2010 at 1:20 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Simple Life

  I got wind of a new magazine called ” A Simple Life“. It looks to be very interesting and the pictures from the sneak peek have made me get a subscription. If you love primitive furniture and the simpler way of life, I think you will enjoy this magazine.  I have included the link to their site above and by clicking the picture. Check them out for yourself.

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 8:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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LoCal FlaVoR

Kenton is such a wonderful place. The area has a rich history, people are friendly, the architecture of the old buildings is interesting and the miles of farmland encourages one to slow down and relax a bit. Our shop is located downtown on the square in the Historic Courthouse District. When I came to Kenton 5 years ago, not much was happening on the square. Now we have several interesting and thriving businesses and upper floors are being converted into living space. I see downtown Kenton a real happening place in a few years.

Kenton is also home to some very talented local artists. I am very fortunate to have several of these artists as friends. Sycamore Circle Heritage Farms produces hand-made herbal soaps with herbs they grow on their farm. Their family is  four generations working together on various aspects of farming. They also have a concentration on nineteenth century (or “heirloom”) herbs, apples and poultry. Sycamore Circle offers several lines.. herbal, specialty and goat milk soaps, soaps with Civil War and Victorian fragrances and their incredibly popular Foot Scrubbies and Doggie Bath line. They can be found at several markets and craft shows in Ohio, at Whole Foods and at Helen’s Gifts in downtown Kenton.

Another very talented local artist is Marilyn Reed. Her motto is “if it doesn’t move ~ Paint it!” The owner of Marilyn’s Artistry, Marilyn has painted everything from wooden bowls to murals on buildings. Kenton’s own Michael Angelos is a show case of her work. A lifelong student of the arts, she is inspired by the latest trends and colors and a master of many techniques.  At the shop we sell her hand painted furniture, candle boxes, plates and what ever else she can get a paint brush on. Right now we have a wonderful table with a checkerboard painted on top and a delightful potting bench. Be sure to check them out when you stop by.

When you do craft shows, you meet  and get to know the regular professional crafters. Over the years we have become friends with talented artists and always enjoy seeing new items they bring forth. Cindy and Frank were two crafters we enjoyed and they constantly had new items. Their booth was always attractive and full of people buying.. a nice thing to have next to your booth. And, I learned about crafting from them.. from setting up my booth to always have something new. Imagine my surprise when I found out they lived right here in Kenton! I begged and pleaded and finally have some of their items in the shop. This house is only one of their lighted houses. We have smaller, shorter and wider ones.. and they are available in mustard, burgundy and cream. Their lighted church is darling.. and the price point they offer can not be found else where. They also make a narrow shelf that we are constantly selling out of. They do not have a web site but can be found at many of the finer craft shows in Ohio. Look for them at shows we will attend.

Because we started out as crafters, we love to support other crafters. If you make a quality hand-made country prim product and would like to consign at the shop, stop by and discuss it with us. As the area grows and more tourists come through, there will be a market for locally made items. If your not ready to sell and just need some advice, also feel free to stop by. I am more than happy to share the knowledge I have picked up over the years. Who knows, someday you too may have a business on the Square.

Cool Blogs to Visit

I love information and reading. Both are combined in searching the internet. I was spending some time looking for decorating ideas, repurposing sites and generally any kind of info for those of us who are having to tighten up and make things stretch. My search led me to several blogs dealing with Goodwill finds, crafting and being frugal. I find I enjoy reading blogs as the tone is conversational and you feel like your hanging out with one of your friends.  Here are some of the sites I found interesting while searching.

Suddenly Frugal – a cool blog with a lot of info. There are Freebie Fridays with info on free stuff from retailers and restaurants, information was given on where to find the best shopping deals during the holidays and there is lots more. I found this blog a bit later in the evening and was a bit too tired to fully explore. I plan on checking back regularly.

Primitive Lifestyle – This blogger is in Ohio and loves to hit the Goodwill store and repurpose items she finds. She posts the latest treasures and will later post her project to change the item into a new piece for her home. I enjoyed going back through the archives to see all the neat items she has reclaimed and given new life to. Though I too love to redo items, she has inspired me to look at things a little differently to find the hidden treasures.

Behind My Red Door – OK.. not really a lot of How-To-Do.. but the pictures are delightful eye candy to those that love the country/prim style of decor. Cruising thhrough her posts gave me ideas for decorating the shop. Sometimes the bets way to save money on decorating is to get some free inspiration. Enjoy..

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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TeA and CoFFee StAiNed FaBriC

crowdollI get asked a lot of questions about how to do things around the shop. My experience is candles and scented products. But I have come across others that do a wonderful job of other types of crafts and I also like to cruise the net looking for info to see how others go about doing things. So, although I have not tried these procedures for myself, I have heard and seen the results of others doing them.

Primitive decor has a palate of darker colors.. the colors you get over time. Blues and reds become muted, black gets more charcoal and anything white developes an darker antique patina. So, to get that age-old look instantly on fabric, you can tea or coffee stain.

Tea staining is the less extreme of the two methods. It will give you lightly stained, yellowish-brown areas on your fabric. Different teas will result in different tints and tones in the final product. Standard black teas will give a soft brown or cream color to your fabric, while some of the herbal teas leave more of a red tone.

 To create tea dye you will need to bring to boil enough water to soak your fabric in. Then add 1 tea bag to every half a cup of hot water and let it brew for about 10 minutes. Soak the fabric you wish to age in the bucket of tea. Swish it around every so often if you want a smooth textured finish. Leave it without moving it much for a mottled finish.

When the fabric has soaked “enough” pull it out and rinse it under cool water. You will loose a lot of the color doing this, so if it isn’t dark enough to suit you, soak it some more. Be aware that when the fabric dries it will be slightly lighter as well. It’s been found a medium light tan color can be achieved after about an hour. A richer tan can be achieved with an overnight soaking.

 Another method of staining fabrics is to sponge them. Make up the stain as before, then using an old sponge, soak up some of the tea dye and blot it onto the fabric. This gives a distinctive mottled look to your fabric. You could build up layers using different strengths of tea. The more tea dye you use, the darker the stain will be. This process gets the fabric pretty wet. You can lay the fabric out to dry, run a fan over it or bake it in the oven at about 200 degrees for a few minutes to dry it. Reapply additional coats of tea dye as necessary to get the desired color.

 Tea dye is only for natural fabrics like cotton and linen. Tea dye is also semi-permanent. What this means is that while it will not wash out easily, you can usually remove it with bleach. It may also fade in sunlight. It is not suggested for use on items (such as clothing) that will be washed regularly as modern detergents are designed to remove the tea stain.

For a richer and darker color, try coffee dye. A recipe I found was mixing 5 tablespoons of instant coffee crystals in half a cup of hot water. They also added a few drops of vanilla extract to add a bit of scent to the mix. Other recipes throw in a tablespoon of cinnamon for the aroma as well as the texture it gives.  To stain with the coffee dye, use the same sponge-blotting method described above for the tea dye. When the piece has the desired color it can then be baked in the oven. You can also spray tea or coffee dye on with a spray bottle, or dry your fabric outside in the sun on a warm day.

Since I had to get this information from other sources, here are the web sites I found the most information on and they are worth a look for other things as well:

Primitive Folk Art

Kiss My Crafts

Cinnamon Sticks and Candle Wicks ~ for the doll pictured

FeaThEr TrEEs

feathertree-5Christmas items have been arriving at the shop for months now. It has been no fun to have all this cool stuff and not be able to have it on the floor. In a few weeks we will be phasing out Fall and bringing out the Christmas goodies in preparation for our Open House November 7th.

One of the items we have new this year are Feather Trees. I did some checking on the internet and found out some history of these trees. I’m going to pretty much quote a page I found at Victorian.com. This site has a lot of cool information if you are into Victorian decorating so check them out when you finish reading this. Here is their article:

Yes, it is actually true that feather trees were the first artificial Christmas trees and they were originally made in Germany as early as 1845.  Like many inventions, tabletop feather trees came about out of necessity. By the mid-19th century, decorated trees were more popular than ever; however, in Germany deforestation was widespread, especially during the holiday season. It had become the fashion to chop off the tip off a large Fir tree to use as a Christmas tree; however, this practice prevented the tree from growing taller and thus made it useless as a timber tree. Statutes were enacted to limit people from having more than one tree, hence protecting the forests. With the introduction of the “goosefeather” tree, this problem was resolved. Goose feathers were plentiful and these feather trees began to be produced as a cottage industry as the alternative to cutting a live tree. These goose feather trees became the first artificial Christmas trees. Metal wire or sticks were covered with goose, turkey, ostrich or swan feathers. The feather sticks were drilled into a larger one to resemble the branches on a tree; the feathers were often died green to imitate pine needles. The trees were made to resemble the locally growing white pines of the German forestland, so they had wide spaces between their branches, short “needles,” and composition “berries” on the end of every branch tip.

feathertree-3Meanwhile in America, cut live trees were the cherished way to make the holiday come alive.  When the Germans immigrated to the United States, they took their beloved portable feather trees with them to use in their new homes. While it was the German immigrants that introduced feather Christmas trees into the U.S., the practice of using artificial trees really did not take off in America until Sears Roebuck first advertised artificial trees for sale in their 1913 catalogs.  Often they had berries and candleholders at the branch-tips and a round white base.  They ranged in size from 55 inches to 17 inches tall.  By the late teens, Japan followed suit and manufactured feather trees for the U.S. market.

In the 1920s feather Christmas trees were gaining in popularity, especially to European-born Americans continuing to follow their customs. However, by the mid-1930s their popularity declined somewhat as the tree farm industry grew.  In an effort to revive the market, Germany began supplying Montgomery Ward with a wider variety of color choices and fancier designs on the tree stands. Artificial trees all but disappeared during WWII. Then after the war, in the 1950s, feather trees were replaced by artificial trees made of synthetic substances, like visca and aluminum.  It’s no small wonder why feather trees are now a popular decorating choice for people with period homes.

Published in: on October 2, 2009 at 1:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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ChriStmaS in OcTobeR

findlay 09-1The Findlay craft show is this coming weekend, October 3-4, and we are very busy getting ready. We will close early Friday to get set up for the show and be closed Saturday. With all the Christmas items we have received around the shop the last few months it will be nice to get away and just enjoy Fall. The weather should be cool and crisp, perfect weather for strolling around the Craft Show. If you have never been to this show you are missing a wonderful way to spend a day.

Findlay’s Christmas in October is one of NW Ohio’s largest and most distinctive Fall Craft Shows. Every year it features over 300 exhibits from 10 States. With ten buildings, two tents & dozens of outdoor locations brimming full of Americana, Country, Contemporary, Folk Art and Victorian Arts & Crafts it is fun for the entire family!

You can pre-order your candles and lotions from us now so you can enjoy the show and pick up your items when you are done. No need to see us early to get the best selection or worry about your favorites being sold out. Buckeye is always sold out no matter how many I bring and we have some wonderful new fragrances that we are expecting to sell out of as well. Amish Harvest and Toasted Hazelnut have received many comments around the shop while being tested and will be available at the show. Other favorites will be  Caramel Crunch, Glazed Baklava, Coffe Cake , Pink Sugar and Pumpkin Crunch. In the lotions it is hard to beat Pink Sugar and Sandalwood Vanilla.

So come see us in Findlay this weekend. To get $1 off admission see HERE. Come for the day or make a weekend of it and stay in one of Findlay’s many fine hotel accommodations. We hope to see you there!

Amish Country

farm 4Another place my son and I traveled about and took pictures on Mother’s Day was in our Amish Country. I love a drive out past the Amish farms and along River Road. The rolling hills and stately barns make me hard pressed to enjoy Amish Country any where else. The beautiful sunny day and gentle breeze made the drive a wonderful way to spend the day.

horses Sundays are a day of rest for man and beast in Amish country. Here a herd of Belgiums are enjoying the beautiful weather.  My son got to drive a pair of these horses when he helped an Amish friend dig his basement. That’s right.. DIG.. with horses. They are hooked up to a large scoop and layer by layer they scrape up the soil. Then it is shoveled onto a wagon and taken out into a field and scattered like their manure. My son loved every minute of all that hard work.. especially when he was given home made bread and Coconut Cream Pie.

baby bell2Spring also brings all the young colts and fillies. We caught this young’un trying to reach something on the drive. He was funny to watch as he spread his legs to get anywhere close to the ground. He was also a neat light color with a darker strip down his back. I imagine he will be a light buff color when he matures.

river road 3

 This farm is also along River Road. I wish I lived out that way as I would love to travel this road every day. The winding turns, beautiful farms and the river make for some incredible scenery. I have yet to drive this road and not meet a horse and buggy along the way. I can think of no better way to slow down and enjoy the simpler things in life than a ride in our Amish Country.

Published in: on May 11, 2009 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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