Sunday, September 20, 2015

My Classic Black and White Checkerboard Kitchen Collection

Sunday, September 13, 2015

South Side of Acre - Beer Drinking and Sitting Area

This is an area on the south side of our house. We bought the house and one acre. The whole area around the house was covered in poison ivy, oak, sumac, much brush and many trees. This took a lot of hard work over one year time to remove all the ivy and brush. Much snipping, poisoning, tilling and 30-40 bags of cypress mulch . One year later and several bad cases of poison ivy we have:

Azaleas, lavender, garden mums, variegated privits, barberry, gardenia, ferns, red salvia, ajuga, elephant ears, purple queen, iris, hibiscus and beauty berry. Also a fire pit, wood pile, chairs and benches. This is our favorite area and many of our neighbors have stopped to admire. Even better that we did all the work ourselves!

Before (Ugh):


Work in Process:


Today, Summer 2016:

Saturday, September 12, 2015

How to Start a Compost Pile - Composting 101

I started a compost pile this past month. Here is what it looks like currently. Hubby built from wire and wood.

When composting, you should keep in mind the carbon (brown) to nitrogen (green) ratio which as a general rule is 25 to 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. Here is a chart that shows the C/N ratios of many composting materials:

Estimated Carbon-to-Nitrogen Ratios

Browns = High Carbon C:N
Cardboard, shredded 350:1
Corn stalks 75:1
Fruit waste 35:1
Leaves 60:1
Newspaper, shredded 175:1
Peanut shells 35:1
Pine needles 80:1
Sawdust 325:1
Straw 75:1
Wood chips 400:1

Greens = High Nitrogen C:N
Alfalfa 12:1
Clover 23:1
Coffee grounds 20:1
Food waste 20:1
Garden waste 30:1
Grass clippings 20:1
Hay 25:1
Manures 15:1
Seaweed 19:1
Vegetable scraps 25:1

Note: Many ingredients used for composting do not have the ideal ratio of 25-30:1 as shown above. As a result, most must be mixed to create “the perfect compost recipe.” High C:N ratios may be lowered by adding grass clippings or manures. Low C:N ratios may be raised by adding paper, dry leaves or wood chips.

To reiterate:
Common brown (carbon) materials are fall leaves, straw, pine needles, cardboard (shredded), corn stalks, wood chips, sawdust and newspaper strips (dry). Chop up larger materials for faster decomposition.

Common green (nitrogen) materials are grass clippings, food scraps (uncooked fruit and vegetables), coffee grounds, manure, filters, tea bags and egg shells.

Remember compost also needs Air + Water. Your compost bin should let air flow through and be able to drain water well. You will need to add water to your pile and turn frequently. Don't let rain wash it away, cover with a tarp if needed.

A well-constructed compost pile built with the proper dimensions and maintained correctly will heat up fast, decomposes uniformly and quickly, kills many diseases, insects, and weed seeds, doesn't smell and is easy to turn and maintain.

Make sure that whatever you are putting in your compost pile is free of chemicals and pesticides! I never put weeds or any kind of meat in my compost.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My Homemade Laundry Detergent Pellets - Lavender Fresh!

Made from saponified coconut oil and lavender essential oil.

70.00 oz 76 degree coconut oil
12 oz Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) - 4% Superfat
23.10 oz distilled water
Lavender essential oil 30/32 to suit - appx 1 oz EO per 36 oz oil as a general rule - I used 1.75 oz

Follow cold process soap making instructions to make the soap. I mixed the soap in a 8 lb empty bucket that palm oil came in. Let soap cook, or set up and remove from the bucket. Mine was difficult to remove from the plastic bucket, I had to chip away at it. Maybe you would want to let set up in soap molds instead. Then I put it in an old food processor to shred into pellets.

I hope hubby doesn't mind the fresh smell of lavender on his clothing!

Needs to sit for a day to saponify

After I broke it out of the mold

One spin in a food processor

One more blend in food processor a couple of days later turns it into powder

Can't Go Wrong With This Soap - Pumpkin Puree Cold Process Soap Recipe

A few years back I posted that I tried Soap Queen's Pumpkin Puree Soap Recipe. I made it again this year and I catch myself going into my soap closet just to smell them. Here is a link to the recipe from my previous post and pics of the new batch, freshly cut!

My Soap Display at Work

My stash at work is getting a little low, time to add some replacements. I think I am addicted!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Little Pumpkin Plants

Planted some Lilly Miller seeds a couple of weeks ago, this is what they look like now. Apparently they don't mind growing in sand. I added a little garden soil and organic compost to the rows as I was planting. Hopefully I have enough time here before the first frost to see a few large Jack O' Lanterns!

How they look today 9/12/2015:

You should continue to add organic compost and cow manure underneath the plants in the direction that they are growing.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Goat Milk Whole Leaf Aloe Vera Cold Process Soap Recipe

The recipe:

Goat Milk - 12.2 oz
1 oz whole fresh aloe leaf - pureed
Lye 5.40 oz

Always add the lye to the water, not the water to the lye!

Olive Oil Pomace - 12 oz
Coconut Oil - 8 oz
Shea Butter - Unrefined 12 oz
Palm Oil - 8 oz

Various soap chucks from previous batches.

After stick blending the oil, aloe and lye water mixture and at light trace mix in:

Grapefruit Essential Oil - .80 oz
Peppermint Essential Oil - .40 oz
Green Liquid Pigment - to your satisfaction (it doesn't take much)
.50 oz whole fresh aloe leaf pureed

At trace pour into soap mold. Layer in the soap chunks.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lavender Oatmeal Cold Process Soap Recipe

The recipe:

Distilled Water - 11.50 oz
Lye 4.40 oz
Always add the lye to the water, not the water to the lye!

Olive Oil Pomace - 11.10 oz
Coconut Oil - 7.90 oz
Shea Butter - Refined 4.80 oz
Palm Oil - 4.80 oz
Castor Oil - 3.15 oz

Colloidal Oatmeal - 3 Tbs
2 tsp. Titanium Dioxide
Lavender Oxide Powder - 1 tsp or to your preference.

1.20 oz Lavender Essential Oil

Whole Oats

I followed basic soap making instructions, then at light trace I mixed in the Lavender essential oil and colloidal oatmeal, mix very well with a plastic spatula to break up the oatmeal. Add the titanium dioxide powder that has been diluted with a tbsp of water. Mix well.  Pour a small amount into a separate plastic container. Mix the lavender oxide powder with a tbsp of carrier oil such as sweet almond oil. Add the purple colorant into the small container of oils and mix well. 

Alternate adding the white soap with the purple soap swirling each layer until the mold is full. 

Top with whole oats. Cover and cut into bars 24 hours later.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Peppermint Swirls Cold Process Soap Recipe

The recipe:

Follow basic cold process soap making instructions.

Distilled Water - 12.00 oz
Lye 4.90 oz

Olive Oil Pomace - 10.80 oz
Coconut Oil - 9.0 oz
Shea Butter - Refined 5.40 oz
Rice Bran Oil - 5.40 oz
Sunflower Oil - 5.40 oz

After stick blending the oil and lye water mixture and at light trace mix in:

Peppermint Essential Oil - 1.20 oz

Pour a small amount into a separate plastic container and mix with red liquid soap color mixing to your color satisfaction.

To the remainder of the oils add 1 TBS titanium dioxide that has been diluted with a small amount of distilled water.

I layered the 2 mixtures swirling each layer until mold is filled..

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My New Valentine 2015 Cold Process Soap Recipe

The recipe:

Follow basic cold process soap making instructions:

Distilled Water - 11.50 oz
Lye 4.40 oz

Olive Oil Pomace - 11.10 oz
Coconut Oil - 7.90 oz
Shea Butter - Refined 4.80 oz
Palm Oil - 4.80 oz
Castor Oil - 3.15 oz

At trace mix in:

Sweet Orange Essential Oil - .65 oz
Cinnamon Essential Oil - .35 oz
Peppermint Essential Oil - .20 oz

During the pour at different levels add: Cubed pink pieces of another soap bar

Top with shaved pink strips of another soap bar and sprinkle 24 karat gold mica powder. Enjoy!