I hope this works….

If you don't experiment, you don't learn.

It’s Spring…..Maybe….

Wow.  The Hoop House worked!  Last fall, on the advice of a dear friend, I made a simple hoop house out of PVC pipe, black irrigation pipe,  heavy duty gardening cloth, 3 mil plastic and some outside decorator lights that another dear friend found for me when I needed a way to keep the hoop house warm during cold spells.  Please note that the pictures are HUGE.  I didn’t plan it that way.  I don’t know what happened.  

Image

immmmm, that picture was supposed to be smaller……BUT, that is a pic of my hoop house.  You can see the black irrigation pipe that is held in place with short lengths of ½ inch PVC pipe at each end. There are four of them with wooden lathe that runs along the top and helps hold it together.  The heavy duty garden cloth is closest to the plants and the plastic is on top and the black plastic bags are filled with leaves and were used to help insulate the house.  I just stuck them around the outside.  The cloth and plastic ends are long enough that I can twist them shut.

On to more pics!  CHIVES!  

Image

 

Why are these pics so big?   Anyway, It looks like the Chives, Parsley, Oregano and Thyme made it through the winter.  I don’t know about the Rosemary.  It is all brown, so I didn’t take a picture of it.  It was three years old too.  I kept it in the house last winter.  We shall see.

So now I know that it works, I will probably make some more this year unless we move.  Even if we move, I shall make some more. All the stuff I used in this house was recycled, so I want to continue the trend.  It is easy when you are married to my dear hubby.  He is a pack rat of the highest order.  A couple of years ago, I wanted to make a potting bench/table thingy in my greenhouse, so I raided our shed and found an old wooden box that used to hold electrical equipment.  it was about 4 x 4 ft x 10 inches deep.  I turned it on end, made some shelves across the middle and nailed a few boards across the top that stuck out over the edge.  Voila!  A place to potter with pots. I think that box had been in that shed for about 10 years.  Sometimes I think he takes it to extremes tho.  His Garage Mahal is filled to the brim with stuff we don’t use….but will come in handy someday for someone else.  When I throw out something or give it away, he says, “You’ll wish you hadn’t done that.”  And he is right.  Usually within a month, there will be a need for what I just gave away.  Unless it is clothes.  He never says anything about my giving away clothes to the Goodwill. He does pay attention to the number of shoes I own tho, and will comment on that fact. “Don’t you think you have enough shoes?”  “What” I say crossly.  “I need shoes for work, gardening, hiking, running and church.” I point to a pair of shoes he bought and only wore once, because he bought cheap shoes.  They are sitting on a pile of boxes in the garage. “What about you? At least I wear the shoes I buy.”  He grins and we are “even” until the next go-around.  I don’t keep track of these exchanges.  Really.

 

 

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Sleeping in the Rain, the sequel….or, Further Adventures of Backyard Hammock Camping

I Found The Tarp!  It belonged to my Dad. I slept under it last night as we were expecting thunderstorms from early morning on.  It is now noon and no rain. However….I have The Tarp!

I found The Tarp yesternight, when looking for a better sleeping bag for the hammock.  At 10 o’clock at night. In the under-stairs closet. Under a bunch of old camping gear from the 80’s. I also found my 3-season mummy bag. The one made for short people.

Night the First: My sleeping bag of choice when sleeping on the ground was just too big for the hammock.  I’m a side sleeper and like to stretch out a bit, so the bag is a rectangular down-filled one. I saw some pics on the interwebs that had the hammock pulled through the sleeping bag, so you were actually on the hammock, surrounded by the bag.  I tried that first as I thought the bigger bag might be an advantage. Nope.  It dragged on the ground.  I didn’t like that idea,  so I struggled to get the bag into the hammock itself and climbed in.  Toooooooo much extraneous material, so i abandoned it and went to look for a mummy-style bag.  The first one I found was my hubby’s summer-weight one, so I pulled that out and and stumbled across the bag with The Tarp in it.  Yay!  The mummy bag worked well…..until the wee hours of the morning when I got too cold to sleep, so went inside and finished the night.

Night the Second:, I took down the cheap vinyl tarp and hauled out The Tarp.  It is bright red and meant to go over a tent of some sort, so it is not a flat rectangle. However, I was determined to use it.  It was my Dad’s and still had the ropes he used (three different kinds, lol) and the knots he tied. So you see, I had to figure out a way. It was long enough to cover the hammock if it was crossways, so that is how I strung it up.  I found the aluminum shock corded poles that went with the nonexistent tent….minus the shock cords….they had long since passed their prime.  I used them to hold out the “sides” of The Tarp using the erstwhile front and back grommet holes.  It looks pretty good – there is a bit of bunching in the middle across the ridge line, but it works. I used my short person mummy bag and slept warm and comfy.

My Dad was an up-cycler his whole life. He re-used, re-furbished and re-built. Once we lived on some property that had an old barn.  It fell apart, so he used some of the lumber to make a shed, panel the inside of the master bedroom’s bathroom, and make a greenhouse.  When we moved to another house, he transported the rest of the lumber to the new house (in an old VW van) and built a chicken coop, an equipment shed, turned the carport into an enclosed garage and built another greenhouse.  He bought old army sleeping bags and cut them down to fit us kids.  It was way cheaper than buying new bags all the time and we had custom length bags that fit us, plus we didn’t have to carry extra weight while on the trail. Back in the 60’s….things were heavy, so a shorter sleeping bag was a blessing.

I think my Dad would have been proud of the way I reused his old tarp.  Now to see if it really can repel water…..

You can see how the old front of the tarp makes a nice side facing into the wind.

You can see how the old front of the tarp makes a nice side facing into the wind.

A bit bunched up...all the corners are tight - but it covers the hammock.

A bit bunched up…all the corners are tight – but it covers the hammock.

From the deck looking down. You can see the odd shape.

From the deck looking down. You can see the odd shape.

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Sleeping in the Rain

Today I was rummaging through my under stairs closet looking for an old tarp to use so I could finally sleep outside in my hammock and I came across something else.  My very first tent that I bought all by myself.  It was a Sierra Designs Starlight and I loved that tent.  It started my mild obsession with tents.  It was a single-person tent, it was coffin-shaped and bright yellow and blue and easy to set up.  It had mesh screening on the roof so that you could look up and see the stars. It also had a matching yellow rain fly.  Those were the days before “low impact colors” were popular…..:)

When I worked for the YCC (Youth Conservation Corp) one summer in the 70’s, I had a long commute to work, so I bought the tent.  There was a campground near one of the areas we were working on, so I pitched my tent and me and my Alaskan Malamute stayed there for two weeks at a time.  I was a vegetarian at that time, so bought a wild food identification book and added to my diet what wild things I could find.  Once, I found one brown thing called a Pinesap that wouldn’t kill you if you ate it, so plucked it and threw it onto my soup.  I learned that just because something can be eaten, doesn’t mean it tastes good.  That was the exception to the rule tho, and I happily added Morel mushrooms to my supermarket basics.  Another time I invited my crew over for dinner and had spaghetti.  A dubious look came into their eyes as I expounded on what was in the spaghetti.  No one died – but no one ever came back for dinner.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take my dog with me to work.  Her name was Talia and being an intelligent animal, she got bored.  I had to tie her up when I was away and it must have been agonizing to be outdoors and not able to investigate all the wonderful smells.  One day, I came back from work and found that she had destroyed my beloved tent. Huge holes in the bottom and the rain fly was half ripped off.  I couldn’t sleep in it, so had to go home and take the long commute to work the rest of the week. That weekend I bought some blue ripstop nylon and began to sew. I was able to fix the rainfly with no problem, then I ran out of nylon.  Being from a camping family, we had plenty of it lying around, but most of it was scraps.  There was black, red, grey, green, white and blue.  So I did the rest of the repairs with those scraps…..and a lot of seam sealer.  My tent now looked like a patchwork quilt. I didn’t care, it was waterproof.  While I was sewing, I decided to add some extra touches.  I made little bags to go on the inside of the tent and I added a design to the door of the rainfly.

comet door

comet door

Artfully initialed bag. My initials were CED.

Artfully initialed bag. My initials were CED.

repaired floor

repaired floor

Anyway, the tent lasted for several more adventurous years.  Then I joined the Air Force and got married to a non-hiking man who is a wonderful cook.  I still managed to collect tents tho.  We did primitive car camping instead and I learned that “primitive” is a relative word….especially in relationship to cars.

Anyway. Obviously not finding a square or rectangular tarp that would work for a hammock, I bought a vinyl rainfly for 7 bucks at Sportsman’s Warehouse along with 50 feet of paracord.  I am now ready to sleep in the rain tonight.

YAY.

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Sleeping with the Animals

So now that we have thwarted the skunks, I find we have raccoons as well…..  Still signs of digging, just not as much damage and not every night. Raccoons can climb. Fences are useless. Grow a garden with good organic methods and you find out what kinds of wildlife thrive in urban environs. Do ‘possums live in Colorado? At least I haven’t had to weed hardly at all this year…

I went out and bought a cool outdoorsy thing last week.  It is a camping hammock, so no wooden spreader bars that make the hammock unstable.  It is made from rip-stop nylon and the design is only a couple thousand years old…  I hung it between the maple tree and the outside deck post.  It is very comfortable.  It sways in the breeze. I can lie on my side and my back, but not my stomach. You don’t lie in the exact center, you lie crossways or diagonal, so you are more flat. Here is a better explanation. I would like to sleep in it.  It has been raining every night since i got it. I haven’t slept in it yet.  Perhaps the other reason I haven’t slept in it has been the garden raiders.  The hammock is further away from the house and quite low to the ground.  I don’t really fancy waking up to find a baby skunk or raccoon curled up with me. However.

Last night I was sleeping on the back deck and wake up this morning (it was raining) to find that the  2 container plants had been dug up/gnawed on.  The lovely Jade plant is no more. My Basil has been shortened a good deal.  Anyway, the point is that while I was sawing logs, the critters were right next to me…like a foot away and they had to practically walk on me to get to the plants. They didn’t wake me up and they didn’t bother me either.  So, with that in mind, I only have the rain to worry about.

I shouldn’t be worrying about the animals anyway.  We camped a lot when I was a kid. Growing up on a Ranger Station in the Cascades meant we camped most of the summer and into the fall.  Two week hikes were not uncommon.  Sometimes we stayed at lookouts or guard stations or with trail crews, but mostly we were alone. Just our family of 5 wending our way through the mountains. I loved it.  I love the hollow sound the ground makes when you are up high. The pink alpenglow in the early morning. The sound of snowmelt and the rushing green silt water.

I never remember being threatened by animals.  We saw cougar and deer, beaver and marmot, and of course all the birds, but we only heard stories about bear, we never saw them.  In fact, the animals I remember best are mice.  We encountered them at one of the guard stations. It was a floating station on Ross Lake, next to the dam.  I remember those little buggers running around on top of our sleeping bags. All night long.  It got real tiresome. Kinda funny….out in the wilderness we were never bothered, but in a man-made structure we were overrun with mice. My mom made sure we never stayed there again.

In an interesting side note, one of the kids I grew up with turned those floating guard stations into a floating resort. I’m trying to convince my hubby we should go there some time.  i think it will be fun and I know we won’t have to worry about mice this time.

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Skunk Thwarting

All that ranting I did earlier on squirrels?  It turned out they were a mere practice run for the main event – skunks. Yes, we have skunks.   I was reading a random post on a random gardening journal and it was about how to get rid of (or protect your garden) from deer. However, the author also answered  questions about other animal problems and one of them was about skunks. All of a sudden it clicked. Skunks are powerful diggers. Skunks don’t eat the plants, they are after worms and grubs. Skunks are nocturnal.

My garden was getting dug up at a prodigious rate.  They figured out how to pull up the staples that were holding the netting down and were busy turning my healthy, green, growing plants into uprooted, just sitting there, sickly ones. The skunks were up-rooting the plants and I would plant them again in the morning.  Poor babies just couldn’t grow. The beans they hadn’t touched were almost 5 ft tall on the trellis, the ones that kept getting up-rooted were like 6 INCHES tall…..I was amazed they still stayed green.  The swiss chard that was unbothered was about 10 inches tall, the ones that were getting disturbed were 3 inches tall……in July…..  I tried putting rocks around the beans and swiss chard, it just slowed the critters down a little and they found a new place to dig. Soon my veggie garden was looking more like a Rock Garden….and not a pretty one either. It is not a nice way to start your day….going out to the garden and surveying ruin.

Then I read the garden journal. And read it again. Skunks. So I began to try some of the home-made garden protector ideas. Red pepper flakes didn’t bother them. Mothballs didn’t faze them.  They were hungry and after worms, what was sprinkled on the surface didn’t even slow them down. I say “them” and “they” because it seemed as if a mom and her brood were at work.  The holes were all different sizes and way too many for just one skunk it seemed to me. I finally found a wildlife website that offered solid advice. They said there were only two things that worked for discouraging skunks: bright lights and fences. Ya see, the little buggers can’t climb.  At all.

I was so happy!  The first night I remembered to shut the garden gate. Next morning there were still holes and dis-lodged plants. Perused the fence line. Aha!  Our garden is enclosed, but the north side is “shadow fencing”.  Slats which are offset one from another.  The cats could come in and out of the yard at will through this fencing, apparently the skunks could too.  I proceeded to screen the north side fencing using the leftover plastic hail/shade cloth.  Perfect length. anchored with zip ties and heavy rocks. Then I got my hubby to make a “sweep” for the garden gate. He used zip ties to attach a piece of wood to the bottom of the gate.  Success!  I say again “SUCCESS”!!!!!

shade/hail cloth put to another use

shade/hail cloth put to another use

I still had the south garden to secure. A while back my hubby had acquired a 100 ft of that red, 4 foot high, plastic “Danger Will Robinson” fencing and the stakes that went with it. We surrounded each bed with the red fencing, making it about 2 ft, 6 inches tall.  I am short, so that height will still allow me to lean over the top to harvest and weed

another use for this fencing....keeping skunks out, but not people.

another use for this fencing….keeping skunks out, but not people.

I am pleased to report that the skunks have been thwarted.

I  planted more lettuce, spinach and beans and know they will be safe…..except for the squirrels……oh noes!   I forgot about the squirrels!!!!!!

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poetry and body images

A few years ago i wrote a rap-poem.  I have a friend who is a comedienne and she supplied the opening line which is, “If I wanted to make mountains out of molehills…..I would have had the surgery by now.”  Her name is Sara B. Sirius and she will be here all week…..

The poem is as follows.

Dear Ms. Fashion Fairy,

I quit. I’m not trying or buying into your arbitrary codes and modes of thinking.  Unblinking, I will look at myself, not put myself on your perfectionist shelves.  Let me explain myself, my plain jane face and body….. my straight-ness.  Ya see, I  am the kind of woman a man looks at….in the face.  No saving graces bounce and trounce the male mind and eye.  My forays into the departmental elements end up in a send up of the “Wish it were true” body fashion image.  My bra’s bear names like “Barely There” and “Featherweight.”  …..Obviously, I am still in training, been maintaining that budding figure for 40 years.

See, I like to hike and poet in wild tribal attire. Dragons and slogans are more my style.  Pink?….. sinks my spirit and all those feminine curves miss the corner on my straight frame. But try and tell that to an industry whose industry is busy portraying false body images. Don’t you know that all a woman has to show are flat abs and thin thighs, that dancing on a narrow fashion plate is du’rigour for the vigorous well thought out woman?

Their fickle fashions trashes the honest shape and their solution is to push you into a padded push-up bra. Wearing those well-rounded perfectionist things means I trip and skip over my own body, bumping boobs like I’m a stranger to myself.  Padding through narrow aisles, past racks of underwire torture devices–– I decide to buy duct tape.  The last time I attempted such under-attire, the wires broke and poked in unusual places.  An art gallery!  There I was making Picasso faces among still lifes with vases trying to save my ribcage from serious damage.

So, let me break it down for you Ms. Fashion Fairy –—— go screw yourself –

I refuse to be fused into what an image-obsessed business is trying to forge on mass-market masses.  I don’t need or seek approval from what some dumbed-down, over-sexed fashion factory tries to tell me what to wear.  I swear we don’t need ten-year-old girls getting in a swirl of jeans that says “Juicy” on their behinds, all the while crying about rising child molestation statistics.  We should be going ballistic on this, not implicitly buying into this lie.

So stay away from what some candy-coated spandex think tank is trying to sink you into.

Don’t let fashions fragment you further into freaky foxed-out boxes.

Don’t be a slave to that which spews forth tricky impossible images of physical perfection.

All y’awl, even the guys,  make your own choices.  Better yet, buy a sewing machine and start ……. a rebellion.

*********************************************************************************

I suppose I should explain myself a bit.  I was the only daughter of a Forest Ranger. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. I had two younger brothers and all the kids on the Ranger Stations were boys. We had no TV, no outside influence. My mom was something of a tomboy herself. I was always climbing trees and hiking, playing in the woods and my playmates were boys. My parents allowed me to date when I turned 16…..Only no boys stepped forward to play the romantic role, they were too busy being friends.   With  two exceptions, it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized women could be funny. I had grown up around boys and just figured I was one of them. I absorbed their ideas and idealizations and jokes about women.  I thought all girls talked about was make-up, clothes and kids. I did not want to hang around with them.

So what does this have to do with the poem?

One of the reasons I was able to hang with the boys so much was because I did not have those curves, I was not beautiful, I was what Lucy Van Pelt of Charlie Brown comic fame called a “Raving Cutie”…:) I was always being mistaken for a guy, even in college. When I went skiing and got on the chairlift with strangers, you could always tell the moment the guy figured out I was a girl.  Talk about awkward moments….

What I think this did was to free me from a lot of the “things girls do” ideology. I didn’t learn to manipulate, I didn’t like frilly pink stuff, I hated romance novels, I pretty much got along with everybody, catty remarks went right over my head. Now, I am not saying that all women do/like things like that, I am saying that kind of behavior was the expectation of the boys around me. They didn’t treat me like a girl and I didn’t act like one in their eyes because, (I think), I didn’t look like a real girl, one they would date. All a matter of perception and expectancy.

About a decade ago I was with a friend of mine who is beautiful. (Yes, I finally grew up and am happy to say I have a lot of  female friends.)  She has generous curves, gorgeous eyes, very intelligent, and a lot of fun to be with. One of the perks of being with her is watching how she affects the men around her. Taxi drivers take us places for half price, men give her things all the time, she could be trying to steal something and they wouldn’t stop her, they would help her…. All because of her shape.  She elicits something in them and they are always trying to impress her.  Sometimes they are very stupid and sometimes they are very funny. All of which is to say, nothing like that has ever happened to me.  I get doors opened for me all the time, but that is about it.  Am I jealous? Maybe. It sounds like it, doesn’t it…. but you know? I like being me.  I like having guys treat me like a person and not trying to impress me. I like knowing that I have guy friends who like me for who I am, not what I look like. And I dislike the fashion industry for saying that kind of thinking is wrong.

 

 

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of Aprons and Memories

I like to hang clothes on a line.  They smell good, I’m outside, I’m saving money, I’m outside….  In Colorado, we are a “right to dry” state, which means that anyone can have a clothesline in their backyard…..it usually is a roll-up type and if you are renting, the landlord has the final say and if you live in an area with an HOA, their rules take precedence over the state laws…?????? BUT we are a “right to dry” state.  This makes me happy.  When I lived in WA state and when I lived in the UK, I hung clothes out to dry. Even in humid conditions, they got dry.  In the winter, they freeze-dried…  Now I live in arid CO and boy, do clothes dry fast here, even inside.

Last year I made a little clothespin holder that hangs on the line.  It is an old plastic vinegar bottle that I cut up and drew on with magic markers to make a little brighter. It works, but sometimes if the wind is strong, it will fall off and finding clothespins in the grass is not easy, especially when your hubster won’t mow the lawn as often as your neighbors would like.

A few days ago, I saw a picture of a clothespin apron and knew I had to have one.  Rummaging around in my fabric stash I found some potential fabric, but I also found three old aprons that my grandmother had made.  One was red and black patchwork, the second was blue and white patchwork and the third was turquoise with touches of pink and brown.  My grandmother loved brown. I have a twin-sized patchwork quilt she made and the main colors are varying shades of brown, with touches of blue and orange. I recognize some of the fabric from shirts and dresses my mom kept.

My grandmother was a seamstress of mediocre ability. When I was a teen, she made me a pair of gold pants out of polyester that I hated, but had to wear as we were not rich enough to ignore gifts merely on the premise of dislike. I loved my grandmother, so that was another reason to wear them. I’m sure she made me other things to wear, but those pants are the ones I remember.

She was also a woman that didn’t blend in with the crowd.  True, she had married, but she also had a job as a secretary before she met my granddad and she was a member of the Women’s Institute, and went around speaking to other women on the latest medical practices of the day.  I have one of her speeches.  It is about child-birth.  At that time in the 20’s, the best thing you could do when pregnant was to not eat much.  The old wives tale about eating enough for two was considered “old hat”.  Babies were smaller when you didn’t eat much and therefore easier to deliver.  Ether and wine was considered the best pain-killer when giving birth.  My grandmother also included a short dissertation on the latest in child-rearing practices. The one that my mom remembers was that everything had to be on a schedule.  If it wasn’t time to eat, you didn’t eat.  Grandmother would play classical music until it was the correct time.  Both my mom and her sister love classical music.  I guess it was the promise of food at the end….lol   Later on, my grandmother loosened up and became much more easy-going. She was a gracious woman with a good heart who was always trying to help her fellow man.

Grandmother and me working together.

Grandmother and me working together.

It was the turquoise apron that caught my eye as a potential clothespin apron.  The front is partly stained yellow from some unknown substance but there is a row of triangles sewn to the bottom edge,  The whole things looks like grandmother sewed it up by hand. I found some checkered turquoise fabric and decided to use that as the pocket. I also found some pink trim that looked nice around the edges and along the bottom, just above the triangles.  I made the pocket big enough to cover most of the yellow stain. It went together in a jiffy and I am pleased with the results, I just need to wash it and am rather worried that I will ruin it because of its age. I think I will soak it first and see what happens.  Maybe I should have washed it first?  Too LAte!!!

update: I washed it. It held together. I have used it.  It works!  🙂 The pocket looks crooked in the picture. It is not. 

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Picking up Things You Like at the Thrift Store…even tho you have no use for them…..

Yay for picking up things you like at the local thrift store/garage sale/giveaway even tho you have no idea how you are going to use it.  I found this adorable turquoise 50’s style short sleeved top this spring.  A friend was moving away from the country and had piled some of her clothes in one room in the building where I work. She just didn’t have room for everything she owned, so I went through them along with other co-workers.  She is short like me and wears cute things. Well, I think they are cute.  I found the top and a couple of other things.  Apparently she was taking all the cute things with her……lol.

Time passes. The adorable top is hanging in my “to do something with” stash.  The fabric looks like a rough-woven cloth, lots of texture, but a smooth hand.  I was thinking of maybe sewing a skirt onto the bottom edge and making a dress out of it, but  couldn’t find a fabric that worked well with the texture of the blouse. So it sat there.

Until today.

Enter crisis mode.  I have an annual meeting I attend and usually wear something quite nice to it.  I didn’t get around to buying something nice to wear and the meeting is this weekend.  I have a skirt and shirt combo of blues and greens that was my Mom’s, which I like to wear in the hot summer, as it is a thin fabric and bright colors. I usually wear a tank top under the shirt. I pulled it out to pack it up and noticed the tank top was stained….OH NOES!  What to do?  It is a casual cotton tank and although the color goes well with the outfit, it didn’t quite have the penache to pull it off completely.  Enter the adorable blouse.

Grabbing a seam ripper, I took the sleeves off, then hemmed up the raw edges.  It took me about 20 minutes.  I now have a nice textured sleeveless shell that looks great with the thin, smooth fabric of the blue and green outfit.  I say again…YAY!

 

Yes, yes, I know…it doesn’t take much to make me happy….:)

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Blender Hand lotion

I may be posting too soon, but I think the experiment went well.  Everything looks good, but things are still cooling down, so I can’t give you a definitive answer yet.

Last time I made hand lotion, I used emulsifying wax to enable the oils and water to mix together.  It was really cool to see the reaction.  Almost instantly the oil and water turned this creamy white color and got thick. I made it back in the winter and it is almost gone now.  It did a good job, a bit thicker than I liked, but it worked and I happen to like when things do what they are supposed to do.  However I also like to experiment, so when I came across a recipe that used a blender instead of the wax to mix things together, I wanted to try it.  “Just like Mayo!” I thought.  “Will it work?”  Only one way to find out.

This afternoon I had the time and inclination, so set out to see what I could find.  The recipe came from a site called Dave’s Garden and I liked it because it was written out in parts…..i.e. 2 parts liquid oil to 1 part solid oil……I like that method because you can make any amount you want. I ended up with 3 cups of lotion, BTW.

The hardest part about making this recipe was getting the temperatures of the oil and water pretty much the same.  When you add beeswax to anything you automatically get hotter oils because the beeswax needs higher temps to melt. My thermometer was reading 150 on the oils and 100 for the water, so I put the bowl with the oils in a cold water bath to cool it down a bit.  Once it had cooled down to the same temp as the water, I poured the water into the old blender I bought at the the Goodwill and started to slowly pour the oils in.

I was glad my hubby decided to become interested in what I was doing, as he held the old blender still, so it didn’t move and mess up what I was trying to do.  Slowly, slowly (arrrrrgh) adding the oils, the water began to turn white…..It was working!  At one point about a minute into the process, I thought it wasn’t blending anymore and took the lid off, but it was still swirling around.  I added the rest of the oils (slowly)(ARGH) and whizzed it for about a minute more…I didn’t time it, so don’t know the official time, but it felt like only a couple of minutes for the whole thing to blend together.  At the last minute I added some lavender essential oil, but living up to my reputation, didn’t add enough.  So I had to add some after I had poured it into the jars.  I hope that it will stay mixed.  On the bright side, I added other essential oils, one is now Rose Geranium, the other Lavender Cajuput, and the third is still lovely old plain lavender.

Anyway, the solid oils I used were Lanolin and Cocoa Butter and just a touch of Shea Butter..All three went into a 1/2 cup.  The liquid oils were, Olive, Jojoba and a bit of Safflower for a total of one cup.  Then there was the tricky bit of figuring out how much beeswax to use. 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons was what I ended up with.  A cup and a half of 100 degree water finished it off.

Covered them loosely and am now waiting for them to cool.  And I want to officially thank my hubby for the help.  He not only held the blender still, but even did the washing up!  We had to add baking soda to hot water to get all the oils and beeswax off the blender.

The picture on the Dave’s Garden link is pretty much how mine looks.

I am waiting impatiently for the testing!!!!!!!

Next day UPDATE!  Yes, it worked. It cooled down and thickened up and feels nice on the skin. It took a while to sink in, but that may be because I used it to test it, not because my  skin felt dry.  I added too much lanolin tho.  The essential oils barely mask the lanolin smell….at least right now, maybe it will chill out as it gets older… dunno…..

OK….it is 9:15 pm and I hear an ice cream truck in the neighborhood.  Do we have a new neighbor that I don’t know about?

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Strawberry-Rhubarb-ness

Although strawberries aren’t exactly my favorite fruit (I ate too many when I was young and foolish and didn’t care about earning a living wage, and I was hungry.), I love them with rhubarb. Rhubarb. Rhuuuuuuuubarb. Our Rhubarb plant is old and venerable.  It started out life as an ignored rhubarb and never got watered regularly when it was a mere sprout. But it never let the lack of water stunt its growth.  Year after waterless (well, rain, but no sprinkler) year, it grew. Huge leaves would appear and as we never did much with it, die back as fall approached.  After about 5 or so years of neglect, I started to garden seriously.  Well, semi-seriously. I did a great job of growing zucchini and making Zucchini Relish, which I have recently been informed is called Chow-chow in Tennessee. But that meant more regular watering for M. Rhubarb, which in turn meant more vigorous growth. We still did very little with the Rhuuuuubarb.

Then one day my hubby discovered strawberry-rhubarb pie.  A co-worker brought in her version of it.  Hubby took a slice home with him, so I could try it.  Up until that time, my strawberry-rhubarb pie experience was limited.  Village Inn and it’s ilk. Rather tasteless.  I think people buy it because they remember what it used to taste like…..because once I tasted this pie? I will never go back to pre-made SR pie again. So a tradition was born.  Every spring, hubby buys strawberries and I harvest some rhuuuuuuubarb and he makes pie. Delicious.  He takes it to work to show it off and I get to eat the remnants. He never eats it. I don’t get it. He makes this delicious pie and doesn’t eat it.  I am forced….FORCED…..I tell you, to eat it because it will go bad if I don’t.  And bad strawberry-rhubarb pie is something you don’t want to deal with. Ask me how I know.

*crickets chirping*

OK. Ill tell you. Once, I didn’t eat it and we had problems in the kitchen for a week! The sink clogged up and there were ants in the garbage and everything in the fridge had this reddish-green slime on it, like it had been slimed by a strawberry-rhubarb pie. *Shudder*  Never again.

So! Now I like the strawberry-rhubaaaaaaaarb mix and have decided to make Strawberry-Rhuuuubaaaarb Freezer Jam. I attempted last night. I took a recipe for 5 half-pints and doubled the amount of fruit because I wanted more than 5 half-pints.  I kept the amount of sugar the same and the pectin the same, because I understood that pectin reacts with the sugar and I didn’t want to mess up that part.  Welllll, you guessed, I messed. I now have 10 half pints of lovely-tasting strawberry-rhubarb syrup. I put it in the freezer and will pass it out to unsuspecting friends as the year passes.  See? It pays to read my blog.  Consider yourself forewarned.

 

 

 

 

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