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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Last Minute Gift Idea

I didn’t plan to post again until after Christmas, but in case you’re feeling the pinch and wanting to jazz up a last minute, or small, gift, I thought I’d share a neat idea.

I saw a cute idea on Pinterest where someone filled a mason jar with gum balls, with a clean paper roll hollowing out the middle, so they could hide some money in there as a gift.

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I thought that this is a fun idea and much neater than just a gift card sleeve or card, and figured I could play with the concept a little. I got a couple of bags of holiday candy, the recipient’s favorite chocolates and then M&Ms for the filler to replace the gum balls. I can’t say what I hid in both jars just in case the kids or their parents read this, but I quickly realized that my gifts were definitely too big to fit in a paper roll. *laugh* This is why the M&Ms came into play, since I’d need some small candy to fill the spaces around the gifts, and I’d need a lot more filler without the hollowed out area. I put a small layer at the bottom, so even if they look at the bottom they won’t have a clue that they’re getting something better than a jar of candy. *grin* I put the gifts into baggies, slid the gifts into each jar and filled around them with the bigger candies, and then the M&MS to fill the holes. I then put a simple label and a little ribbon on each.

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No matter what way the jars are turned you can’t tell that there’s a secret hiding in there. A best friend pointed out that if I’m not there when the kids get their jars, then it’d be smart to say something to the parents, just in case the kids don’t discover the true gifts within a few minutes. Smart advice that I thought I’d pass along. I’m definitely one of those people that are too excited by great ideas and fun gifts that I can barely keep them secret long enough to give them to the person, so I plan to be there when the kids get them. *laugh* If they don’t dig in within the first few minutes I’ll suggest that they dig around a little.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, no matter how/if you celebrate it, and that this fun idea serves as a little inspiration if you need it. ūüôā

Blessed

Remember that slice mold I used for the “Slice of Peppermint Pie” and “Slice of Roadkill Remains”?¬† I’m still obsessed with it.¬† *grin*¬† This time I went a little more traditional and did a version of a fudge ripple cake.¬† You can’t tell that I’m in the mood for the delicious baked goods of the season, right?¬† *laugh*¬† I thought that a fudge ripple would look awesome and would break up the colors a bit, while letting me avoid trying to find more than an hour’s worth of patience.¬† I admit that I’ve been pretty restless lately, so I’ve been sticking with quick gratification, and this was perfect for it.¬† What do you think?

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I planned to frost the slices Monday since I knew that Miss Ash would be here to help, but there were a few complications.¬† *begins to bite my lip while trying to find a way to make it sound a little better than it really ended up being…*¬† Things started out pretty well.¬† I had all of the ingredients gathered and was measuring the FO when she came in.¬† While she filled me in on school and the other fun details of young teen life I started to heat the soap.¬† With her here I figured a half batch of bath frosting would be a wise decision, so we could have some fun together, yet still get to the bigger project that I really needed an extra set of hands for.¬† I wanted to get Ash used to using the scale and how to tare it, so I had her measure out the bath whip.¬† I should have known when the spatula bent as she tried to scoop some out that this wasn’t going to go well.¬† (Our woodstove is still being repaired, so the house is still pretty chilly, but I had been active and quickly overheat, so I didn’t notice this.¬† I’ve thought through all of this for hours and finally realized that this was the first domino that fell.¬† It’s only right to fill you in on my realization.¬† *laugh*)¬† Well, with a metal spoon and a butter knife we were able to get the whip out, although, yet again, warning bells should have gone off, but I didn’t notice that the spoon got impressively bent during this task.¬† *face palm*¬† Miss Ash is very deliberate and cautious, so things took a bit longer and the melted soap began to set up slightly.¬† (Yeah, those dag on warning bells again…*sigh*)¬†¬†I showed her how to get the mixer set up and started mixing the whip with some glycerin I noticed that it didn’t have the consistency that I remembered from when I made the cookie wash soaps last year.¬† I held out hope and¬†gave her the melted soap to add to the mixture.¬† As she did this I added some stabilized FO (so that it won’t discolor later from the massive amount of vanilla that is in Christmas Eve Cookies, the¬†FO I used throughout all of the soap layers).¬† While I was¬†putting a few things away I¬†heard some weird noises¬†coming from the mixer.¬† (You’re welcome to shake your head¬†at this point.¬† We both know this is just going to get worse.¬† Lol.)¬†¬†I turned off the mixer and poked at the mixture with a spatula, and realized that the soap had solidified between¬†taking too long during prep and it being too cold in the room.¬† Hey,¬†bath and body products require a lot of quick problem solving and that was basically my career before I became disabled, so I¬†did a little quick thinking and put the bowl in a sink full of¬†hot water, and had¬†Miss Ash keep rotating¬†the bowl around, so the soap would melt off of the sides of the bowl.¬† I figured the whip attachment would also help¬†(realistically I should have used it in the beginning, but it was the least of the¬†problems really).¬† After things were pliable again we whipped the mixture for a few minutes and I¬†started to add more glycerin.¬† This mixture had started to look really weird, so I figured maybe a little more moisture would stabilize it.¬† Nope.¬† *laugh*¬† I turned it off after a few minutes and packaged it in an empty jar to deal with later, so I could salvage the rest of the night.¬† I’ll spare you any pictures, because it looks like curdled milk at this point, and somehow the smell got a bit distorted.¬† I can still detect the vanilla, although there is definitely some funk going on, while Larry insists (with a very puzzled look¬†of “Why in the world are you topping the soap with…”) that it smells like burnt buttered popcorn.¬† Yum.¬† Nothing like curdled milk and burnt buttered popcorn to make you feel pampered, right?¬† *grin*

Thankfully the big project went well.¬† I needed to make a huge batch of heavy duty sugar scrub for Larry and then a little to have on hand.¬† With the movements and shaking I have some trouble with¬†keeping the jar lip clean when making scrub now, so I figured young hands would be perfect for this.¬† It took a little longer than I had intended, since we¬†took time for¬†explanations and demonstrations of things that she was unfamiliar with, but we ended up with something like 70 ounces worth of scrub.¬†¬†*happy dance*¬† Thankfully I¬†use repurposed empty supply jars for his items and jarring went pretty¬†well.¬† I have to admit that I felt like a superhero by the end, because Miss Ash had learned so much in the two hours together, and she totally had that awesome “mind blown” look going on.¬† *grin*¬† She learned how to use and read a pipette, why sugar¬†is used in scrub, how can sugar be safe for your skin if your dentist doesn’t want you to¬†eat it, what pumice powder is and how it works, what poppy seeds are (let me tell you that the seeds are incredible for¬†heavy duty exfoliating!),¬†what humectants are and how they work in soap, and how to convert measurements.¬† She’s going to be SO far ahead of her classmates now.

To make the evening end on an even better note she told me that she always loves coming over to work with me.¬† Not only does she get to do “cool things”, but it always smells so “awesome” in my house.¬†¬†Then¬†Miss Ash’s mom came over to pick Ash up and bought a Redneck¬†Gift Basket.¬† Yay!

Although the frosting was a disgusting failure I am pretty happy overall with our time.¬† The actual¬†cake soap still looks fantastic and¬†I was smart enough to not try the frosting on ay of the soap, so I can still¬†try again.¬† Larry’s stocked up on his scrub.¬†¬†Miss Ash lit up like a Christmas Tree when I surprised her with a few of the glitter bar soaps that she had made at her last visit, so she can give them as gifts or show them off.¬†¬†Best of all, we both learned a lot.¬†¬†The youthful way of just shrugging off failures and¬†just look to what’s next instead is something I have always struggled with, but with her literally turning and asking “what’s next?” I was finally able to.¬† I’m still¬†smacking my forehead, but I’m doing a lot better with just shrugging it off and laughing.¬† And Miss Ash learned a lot of little tidbits that should help with school, and hopefully even a few skills to help her with life.

This Christmas I think the best gift will be this.¬† Knowing that a young girl can see me as a¬†kind of rock star and not see the things that I can no longer do.¬† That I was able to have a good impact and that I got to see that thirst for information light up in her eyes.¬† No matter if the pies burn, the turkey turns out dry, or I have a fall and can’t walk between now and Christmas, I’m blessed.¬† And all because¬†I believe we should all¬†get pampered sometimes.¬† I couldn’t ask for much more.

I wish the same for you this holiday.¬† Whatever your beliefs and your traditions, I wish you happiness, personal development, and¬†the feeling that no matter how different you are, or¬†how your life has changed, that you¬†are still a rock star in somebody’s eyes.

A Little Bit of Fun

I decided the other day to go back to just amusing myself and made a couple of soaps that made me smile. The first batch were some simple guest rounds with the holiday erasers embedded in them. The reindeer is just so cheerful. *smile* In order to get the embeds to show well I had to warm and brighten the overall picture up, so the soaps are more of a clear with the faintest gold to them, and not so yellow.

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After those I decided to play with dye. I haven’t played with swirling colors in a while now and got a little wild with the toothpick (stirring). I had a few that became a blended color because I got a little too into it. Lol. I love some of the swirls though!

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Gingerbread people followed, although I use that term quite loosely, since I went incredibly unconventional with them. A bright pink with glitter. Mawahaha. *wink*

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My last soaps didn’t turn out unfortunately. I tried to embed the centipedes I had found and although they looked great at first, the soaps became cloudy. I rinsed them and everything, so I suspect a little chemical reaction between the material and the FO. They wouldn’t fit in any other mold, so they were poured in a brownie mold I never used (one of those that’s suppose to make every brownie an edge brownie since people supposedly like those best. Um, I’ll let those mysterious people have those pieces and I’ll take care of those ooey gooey center pieces for them. *grin*).

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Although the last batch didn’t come out, I enjoyed myself. Nothing fancy or anything to tweet home about (especially for me since I haven’t joined the twitter bandwagon), but some fun little soaps. I got a few supplies today to keep the ball rolling, too. A new bubble wash that suspends additives, so I can put the centipedes or jojoba beads in some bottles of wash (we won’t talk about what happens if you try adding jojoba beads to a non-suspension formula…ugh!). I also got these cute little guys to embed and maybe even put on top of some fancy bar soaps (thank you Pinterest for that bit of inspiration).

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For a little size perspective here’s a picture of one in my palm. It’s plain adorable!

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With that little bit of cuteness I bid you adieu. I hope you are enjoying the middle of the holiday season and have a splendid weekend! ūüôā

A Little Disappointed

I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that my first big sale resulted in a big fat goose egg. I guess the lazy side of me can celebrate that I can do stuff on my own time table. Lol.

In the meantime I decided to experiment with an unconventional mold. I’ve wanted to try making Popsicle soaps for a long time, but haven’t been able to justify the cost for the silicone mold. A few weeks back I found a hard plastic Popsicle mold at the store and mistakenly thought it might work. Now I remember why I am trying to switch to all silicone molds. *grin*

At first things seemed to be going well. I had some soaps scented in Christmas Eve Cookies that didn’t turn out well, so I melted them back down and poured them into the Popsicle cavities. I have Popsicle sticks on hand for mixing and stuff, so I figured there’d be no problem. I did not take into consideration my tremor or involuntary movements, however. *cracking up* I apparently cannot hold a stick, let alone two, in place as soap begins to solidify. When I need it to be timely, soap takes forever to get even a soft set. Any other time it seems like I have ten seconds to get the next step done. *laugh* After I started causing wrinkles to form in the first skin I adjusted to try to keep my hands more stable. I didn’t notice that in doing so I accidentally let the sticks settle to the bottom. Turn that mold over and basically that stick runs completely through the soap to the very top. Doh! *grin*

Top it all off the plastic was too firm to twist a little and make the soap release. I ended up trying a short round in the freezer, under hot water, and leaving them upside down, too. *laugh* I ended up edging a knife in there. Although they don’t look so great and I definitely messed the sticks up, there’s something kind of adorable about them.

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Thankfully I have a lot of experience at finding little things to smile about when things seem down. I think it’s a good habit for all of us to learn and especially to keep in mind this time of year. It’s easy to let things get us down when things are busy and stressful. With this in mind I think I’ll go soak with some of my holiday goodies and a new book. ūüôā

My first sale!

I’ve done a few events in the two years I’ve been building my little business, but this is my first full site sale.¬† In honor of Cyber Monday I decided to offer 20% off all items.¬† I pushed hard to get the big combos/baskets done in time and am so proud of that.

One thing I’ve been a little sad that I couldn’t accomplish was getting two kid combos available for this sale.¬† Unfortunately I ran out of vanilla stabilizer, which keeps soap from turning brown due to the vanilla content in the scents (which all holiday scents I’ve hoarded have apparently lol).¬† I put in an order for more at the beginning of last week, but apparently because I had a small order I wasn’t quite as high of a priority, and my order is still awaiting processing once they return from the extended down time.¬† I’m glad that they got to have an extended time to enjoy their family and the season, so I definitely don’t hold it against them, and it was my fault for not noticing I was going to run out during the most critical time.¬† I just really hope they get it sent out in the morning!

 

I have been itching to make the new soaps for the holiday.  I found some cute little flexible centipede toys that I want to embed.

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Aren’t they cute?!¬† They’re not “worms in dirt”, but I think they will work perfectly in the Dirt FO as a stocking stuffer.¬† *grin*¬† I also found some cute holiday erasers to embed.¬† I might have mentioned them before, but I don’t think I shared a picture.¬† I think guest rounds with one or two of these would be pretty adorable.

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To top things off I am writing this post from my brand new laptop.¬† Larry was incredibly awesome and got me my first laptop on Black Friday.¬† I’ve wanted one for so many years and most of my interests have required gaming computers, so I was super lucky that they had a massive sale on a gaming laptop.¬† *cheesy grin*¬† Just in time to have my business recipes on hand when I really need them.¬†

Cross your fingers, please, that the sale is a success.¬† In the meantime, I’m going to go¬†re-watch last season’s finale of Doctor Who.¬† Bo has felt a bit neglected that my lap has been full, so I haven’t given enough snuggles to “the poor puppy” lately.¬† *grin*¬† I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving if you celebrated it and that you have found some great deals if you’re into Black Friday and Cyber Monday.¬† ūüôā

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