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One of Those Days

Don’t you hate when you have one of those days where everything goes wrong and there isn’t even a happy accident to make it worthwhile? Lol. My day was I Love Lucy worthy when I tried to make some product. *rolling eyes*

First, my foot has been really bothering me, so I tried to do some of the prep work while sitting, and when I cut some of the glycerin soap base I almost sent it flying across the kitchen. I ripped a hole in the wax paper, nearly dumped my FO and vanilla stabilizer mixture, and almost overflowed my measuring cup.

It has to get better, right? Nope. *laugh* I have a sample of Matte Burgundy pigment, which looked like the perfect red for Red Velvet Cake Soap, so I mixed the powder into some glycerin and it looked gorgeous. Added it to the soap and it turned lavender. Huh?! So I added more thinking it was so light that it wasn’t showing the real color and it just became an even richer shade of lavender. It was pretty, but not when representing a cake. lol. Added some yellow to bring out a muddy tone, but fourteen drops of yellow didn’t change it a bit. Holy smokes! I don’t think I’ve ever added that many drops of dye to a soap before and here I was adding it on top of a whole milliliter’s worth of burgundy dye! Somewhere around 8 drops of brown oxide made it a little darker, but not a big change. Finally I cut some slices from my strong and deep Americana Red color bar (which is basically a chunk of super strongly colored soap that you usually shave a tiny bit off of to color your soap) and finally after four small chunks of Americana the soap actually turned an acceptable reddish brown. *cracking up* I literally lost track of how much dye went into this soap and have no way to accurately figure up the cost, let alone recreate this color. I started to pour the first halves of the soap slices (I’m going to put a “filling” between layers and then pipe “frosting” on top) and my hand decided to do its own thing, and I poured soap down the side of one of the mold cavities. A little hard to have layers when there’s a smear of soap down the side, so I tried to clean it off. Buh me. It’s a silicone mold, so of course the cavity moved around when I tried to scrape the upper side, which resulted in me totally wrinkling up that slice of soap. *shaking head* I got disgruntled about that and then it suddenly dawned on me that I can’t duplicate this color, so I can’t do a second pour to finish these after pouring the filling layer. I’ll have to use half of the other first pours to make layers now. Dude, seriously?! Fine. I set the mold aside and I’ll deal with them some time after they set. Maybe my luck will improve by then.

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Since things weren’t going so well I figured I’d switch to an easy peasy pour. Just add some stabilized Buttercream FO to white glycerin base, and pour some ornament soaps to hand paint later. They turned peach for some reason. I’m not joking. I expected a little discoloration from the vanilla, but I’ve never had it become so noticeable. My mom was here helping so I asked her if it was too weird to use for ornaments, but she assured me they would be pretty with this color. I then overpoured one cavity so bad it went all over my stove top. Lol. I still have no idea how either. One moment it didn’t have enough to fill the top of the cavity and quicker than the blink of an eye I had soap pouring over the side of the mold. I wasted probably one whole soap’s worth.

I figured I’d try one more batch of soap that can’t go wrong (at least to my knowledge so far). Mechanic’s Soap. I pulled up soap recipes on my laptop and I couldn’t find over half of the soap recipes. I checked Overdrive and they’re not there either. Biscuits and gravy!! (Apparently a bunch of files were on a flash drive for me to transfer from the desktop to my laptop, but with my lovely memory issues I had managed to forget this key bit of information. This has since been remedied. *grin*) I pulled up the mechanic scrub which has some of the same ingredients, to refresh my memory, and after seeing apricot seeds and ground flax in the scrub recipe I started doubting that I’d get the soap version right, so I decided to go ahead and make the scrub, since I needed some anyway and actually had the recipe. Lo and behold I don’t have any pumice. *cracking up* I had put a note to myself in my grocery app to order more when I next ordered from my wholesaler, but I’ve been really well behaved and haven’t ordered from them in a long time, so I never got it and hadn’t seen that reminder for a long time. After sounding like Muttley from the Dastardly and Muttley cartoons I scrapped that and decided to try to save the work session, since it was one of the few times I had help, and decided to make some Sleepy Time and Monsters Away sprays.

In those missing files were the recipes for those sprays, but hey, no big deal. I know the scents that go into at least one, so I thought all was good. However, the spray base is a concentrated formula that has to be reconstituted, and I couldn’t remember the ratio. I got on the wholesaler’s website to find out that it was discontinued and they had removed the product directions, of course. I was about in tears at this point. *laugh* After some searching I found my binder of printouts from the wholesaler’s site of the MSDS files, which also included instructions. I finally found the sheet for the multispray base thankfully, but at that point I was so discombobulated that I knew I wouldn’t get the recipes right, and plus I was having a debate over should I even make more product to sell when I probably can’t recreate them later if they sell out. (After I sat for awhile I decided that I still will, but more about that later.)

I decided to move on to some bubble washes. Mom was here to help, so I figured I’d put her at the stove heating the base, to keep me from starting a fire somehow or something, with this streak I was having. Then I discovered that I only had a few ounces of base left. Mom and I talked it over and decided we would try to go to the store in Topeka in a few days (one of the few ingredients I can get in this state instead of online), and I figured I’d check their price on their website before I could forget, so we could figure up how many to get/how much I could afford. It too was discontinued. *shaking head* Wrap it up, no more filming today Folks. *laugh*

After Mom left and I finished putting ingredients and equipment away I did some research on my wholesaler’s site. Thankfully they have an all purpose body spray base that is also safe on linens, so it’ll replace the discontinued multipurpose spray, which makes me confident that I should be able to keep making my kid sprays. I also found a well rated bubble wash base that will hopefully be as good as the one I (and customers) have loved. I also ordered the low supplies and got a free sample of black glitter. Finally something went right. *grin*

It helped my mood to discover that the soap cake slices have turned out a usable color and Larry has a four day “weekend”, so hopefully he can use that steady hand of his to cut off the edges that bled on several of the ornament soaps. See, I think that although the cake soaps are more of a brownie batter color than Red Velvet, that it’ll work. Just might be a “Chocolate Layer Cake Soap Slice” instead. *laugh*

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Since I’m not truly convinced that my luck has changed, I don’t trust myself with an Xacto knife and will leave that to Larry. *cracking up* I don’t want to try to host Thanksgiving with a cast or stitches. So I’ve decided to let the fire burn out in the woodstove early in order to avoid burns or catching the carpet (or my hair) on fire and I’m just going to re watch some Quack Pack on DWTS. *grin* It’s probably safer for everyone if I just recline with Bo and watch Sadie. Redneck pride, baby!

I hope my misadventures in crafting has lifted some spirits and that you have some awesome luck this fine Tuesday. I think I’ll just wait until afternoon to test my luck again, so maybe I’ll sleep in really late. πŸ˜‰

Sugared Cranberries

I’ve been working on a little festive snack to have available for munching. I’ve been hoping that although it’s not overly healthy, it’s a step into getting Larry to start eating fruits. *grin* So when one of my favorite blogs posted a recipe for sugared cranberries I figured this was the one that would probably be the most likely to succeed with Larry. He loves tart and sour foods, as in he can actually straight up eat a lemon and enjoy it. *shuddering in mock horror* I’m more into mild flavors, probably because of my sensitivities from my illness that makes most regular things pack quite a punch to me.

I’m not going to post the actually recipe, since the blogger did a fantastic job, and I love recommending their awesome blog, so if you like what you see and read here, then hop over to Our Best Bites for the recipe please.

First off you rinse the fresh cranberries and then soak them overnight in simple syrup (I soaked them for 24 hours actually and used their 1:1 ratio syrup).

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Since cranberries naturally float I had them in a large measuring cup with the syrup, and then an empty margarine tub filled halfway with tap water to work as a weight, which I placed on top of as many of the cranberries as possible, and then I wrapped it in plastic wrap to try and keep the cranberries as submerged as possible. Basically:
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Scoop the berries out and let dry for an hour on a drying rack over foil. Now, the recipe said to make sure they weren’t touching. Um, pretty much impossible for me, since they kept trying to roll off if they were anywhere near the edges. *laugh* As long as you work with the berries after that hour then they’re easy to pull apart if they happen to stick together. Since I’m a slow mover the ones at the end of my project dried the longest and a few needed a little umph to pop apart. If you’re not going to work with the berries for a while I’d definitely recommend that you follow their instructions to keep them from touching, even if you need to do two separate trays!

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After they’ve dried you put a handful into some sugar and coat them. Now, I had a brain fart when I made my grocery list and forgot that the recipe recommends a coarser sugar, so I only had plain granulated sugar. It works, but you can’t just roll them in the sugar and call it good. To make a good coating with plain granulated I found that rolling all of the handful together first, and then working individually after that worked best. The initial roll keeps any of them from sticking, especially if they are bouncing into one another while you work the sugar around. Then I found that mounding and patting the sugar onto the berries seemed to hold the best. The coarser sugar is supposed to cover the berries much better and I bet it’s much easier to work with for this. Anyway, I also noticed that the longer I worked, the coarser my sugar became because of the syrup clumping some of it, and the better it covered, so when I ran out of sugar and had to add fresh, I dipped my fingers into some syrup and then swirled into the sugar. My fingers got coated, so then I just rubbed them together and let the clumps fall into the sugar, and mixed them into the rest of the sugar. It made all of my fresh sugar a bit coarse and the coating process went much faster then.

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It took me a lot longer than I expected to roll one bag’s worth of sugared cranberries, almost an hour and a half total. I’m a slow mover these days, but even for me that’s a bit long. I think the coarser sugar would massively speed things up, plus make sure you’re generous with the amount of sugar in your bowl for rolling! The more abundant it is, the easier it goes on. I’d much prefer to throw some leftover sugar out next time over spending so much time at this. *laugh* The coated berries dried on a wax paper lined cookie sheet for two hours. I think next time I’ll let them sit an extra hour. The coating was mostly hard, but I noticed that the coating was vet crumbly and came off easily as I moved them individually to the container, so I’d recommend three hours. If your home’s air is moist I might consider just a little more drying time even.

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Anyway, let them dry and then transfer them to a container. I’m using a cake pan that has a snap on lid for easy access for snacking. They emphasize in the recipe to keep them in a single layer to reduce rubbing off the coating. I think they look gorgeous and they’d be beautiful in a small crystal bowl as an after the big meal cleanser. Although it didn’t show up in the picture the sugar sparkles with the light; they look almost like a frost hit and you brought them right inside, so the ice is still sparkling and coating them. *happy sigh*

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They are truly pretty good and probably a healthier little snack than some options that are readily available at this time of the year. I’m a fan of cherry craisins, but not cranberries themselves, since I drank cran everything for most of my childhood, but I actually like these, so that says a lot! They’re totally worth trying again, too. I learned a lot this round and even thought of a few things I want to try next time. I think I’ll add some cherry extract to my simple syrup and see if I can incorporate a little of that flavor since I love cherry craisins so much. Also, I’ll definitely use a mixture of the finer sugar with a coarser one. I love that this recipe actually leaves you a lot of little options to tweak to your family’s preference, too.

I hope you’ll give these little treats a try and also that you’ll take a peek at some of the great recipes that the ladies over at Our Best Bites post. (And no, I received absolutely nothing from them for this recommendation or post. I just like them, and this snack, so I wanted to share. *smile*) I hope you have a relaxing start to your holiday week and that you carve out (see what I did there? lol) a little time to pamper yourself. πŸ™‚

Mint Cocoa FTW

I’m finally back to making some product! *happy dance* My mom came over and helped me make lotions for the first time. One sign that it’s been too long since I’ve been able to make lotions: I forgot how exhausting it is. *grin* Even with help that cut my time in half I felt like I had ran a marathon. I wanted to keep going and make some soaps, too, but my body developed a really strong dialogue with my brain that reminded me that I’m supposed to take a break for the same amount of time I’ve worked. *laugh* I’m so glad I was able to get over being on bedrest and start working again. (Note: in case you’re not up on acronyms FTW is “for the win”.)

First I worked on lotions to fill part of an order, then on some my mom’s asked for, and even had the umph to get a few jars done to start stocking my shelves. Booyah! While working on them I couldn’t find a few of my recipes on my laptop or the cloud, so I ended up having to write a new recipe for Mint Cocoa Goat’s Milk V2 lotion and boy howdy did it turn out awesome!! Like that first moment you lay back in a luxurious bath happy sigh awesome. I did four 1 oz samples in the mint cocoa that I need to figure up prices for and post, because this version is a total keeper (and is going into the cloud so that it never gets lost! Lol). I use Fudge Brownie FO most anytime that I’m going for a chocolaty scent profile, but now I have a straight up Chocolate FO that I tried in the new version, and it is perfect! I’m actually really glad that there are a few documents floating in one of the computers somewhere it’s not supposed to be. *grin*

My legs are still killing me hours later, but my skin is almost crawling from being so excited to start making soaps next, as soon as I’m able to be up for a bit. I even found and pulled out the cute holiday baskets and boxes to hopefully make (and sell this time! Lol) a few combos. And maybe started writing a new list of ideas that I want to try. *starts whistling innocently while pushing my notebook under the edge of the couch so no one sees it’s the fifth list* Yeah, my brain and artistic side are both very happy again. *grin*

Just a little shot to show off. There are four 4 oz jars and four 1 oz jars of Mint Cocoa GMV2, one 4 oz Dreamsicle GMV2, two 4 oz jars of On a (Pumpkin) Roll GMV2, and one super refreshing 4 oz jar of Lime Margaritas, Anyone? GMV2. Look at all my lovely little creations.

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I can’t be any happier over these. With the help I didn’t have to run back and forth, my lotion base never “broke” from my being unable to make it back in time while making a few jars of product, and my kitchen didn’t look like a war zone. I still ended up wearing some and managed to splatter enough onto the controls on my stove that it has a Baywatch sheen in case it wants to start flirting with the microwave. *overly dramatic sigh* You can’t take the disaster zone out of this girl, no matter what, apparently. Lol. At least I didn’t get burned, slip, or get lotion in the eye, so full success in my book. *grin*

Anyway, I just had to share my excitement and successes. Hopefully I’ll be sharing pics of some Red Velvet Cake Slice soaps, mechanic soaps, and a few stocking stuffer friendly soaps in the next couple of days. I’m eyeing an ornament mold that might even let me do a little painting on some soaps, too. Feel free to cross your fingers for me. (Just don’t do your toes because I’ve proven that doing that is pretty unlucky, since it will usually make you fall. Leave the falling to a pro like me. *wink*) I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend and welcome to the new blog followers! I’m really excited that you’re joining in my insanity, er journey. πŸ˜‰

Simple Syrup

I’ve been planning out our Thanksgiving meal with our parents and am getting a few things done before things get busy. One must have for us is some sweet tea, but since preferences vary I am going to be set up for people to sweeten to their taste. For a really good tea I’m a firm believer in using simple syrup instead of granulated sugar, since it incorporates so well, doesn’t leave part of the sweetener at the bottom, and keeps the tea nice and smooth. Until I got The Cozy Chicks Kitchen Cookbook (ebook) I didn’t know that simple syrup was so easy to make; I’ve been making it ever since. I thought I’d share my experience with their recipe in case anyone else has been too intimidated to try it, too. (Note: The Cozy Chicks are a group of authors who write a type of mystery called a “cozy”, and the recipes are either from their books or “used” by characters in their books.)

A quick word on simple syrup. The recipe I used is for a thicker syrup, with a 2:1 ratio, which is more common with southern sweet tea. Others are much thinner with a 1:1 ratio. I love the thicker syrup because it goes a lot further, so I don’t make it as often. A little bit goes a long way.

Leann Sweeney’s “Jillian’s Sweet Tea” has the instructions for the thicker simple syrup in her recipe. Basically it’s just a 2 sugar to 1 water ratio, so 6 cups of sugar to 3 cups of water. If you’re using bottled water, it can be hot, but if you’re using tap, definitely use cold water, since it’s the cleanest water for drinking (think no water heater). Mix the sugar and water in a saucepan/pot on your stove. I warn you, it’ll seem so extreme when you see all of that sugar. Lol.

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Heat the mixture on medium-high until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear (takes 5-10 minutes). You will see the following, but that’s not enough.

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It’s tempting to stop now, but trust me, if you keep going it’ll become so beautifully clear you can see the tiny nick in the bottom of my pot. *laugh* Stir/whisk the liquid until the sugar is fully dissolved. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if there is sugar at the bottom or just bubbles, so I usually turn it down a tad when I’m unsure, which reduces the amount of bubbles and lets me see the bottom clearly.

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Let it cool enough to pour into a bottle or jug and seal it (I just use a lidded jug with a pour spout that is blocked when I turn the lid). If you let it cool too much and you see some crystals start again on the top (like if you’re trying to multitask and vacuum while waiting, but encounter a little detour that you have to clean up in order to finish vacuuming, and then you have to fold that fresh load of laundry, and oh no! you suddenly remember the mixture after an hour *grin*), just warm it back up.

Most believe that simple syrup can sit sealed on your countertop, although some people feel quite strongly that it must be refrigerated. I’m not about to tell you what to do, but I will say that mine sits on the counter not far from my tea maker, and the only problem I’ve ever had is when I’ve forgotten to close the seal and some of it formed clumps of sugar.

A great thing about the syrup is that it’s really easy to flavor, too, by cooking with a vanilla pod, extracts, herbs, or even mixing in some steeped flavored tea into the mixture while dissolving the sugar. www.food.com has some great recipes/instructions for flavored syrups.

If you want to make some and have any questions, I’m more than happy to help. It’ll work great in tea or coffee, and I’m even using it to make a crunchy coating on cranberries (if it turns out I’ll post it soon). It’s a great recipe to have in your back pocket. πŸ™‚

The Ice Queen

I try to put a cheerful or amused spin on my illnesses, or downplay them, most of the time. In following support groups and Pinterest boards I’m starting to realize that maybe Fibromites have gotten a little too adept at these survival techniques, and maybe that’s part of why most people just don’t understand how we can be suffering so much. One of the blurbs really captured this so well and I wanted to feature it tonight, especially since I’ve been trying to be brutally honest lately about what I go through.

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I’ve been called “The Ice Queen” more times than I can count and what most don’t realize is that a lot of the time I’m barely holding on to get through the day. Breaking down makes others uncomfortable, sometimes makes me sick, and makes me feel like I’m losing control of one of the few things I can still control, so I’d rather stay The Ice Queen most days. The girl in the mirror is covered in invisible bruises and staring into the darkness that she’s afraid may fill the rest of her life; screaming in desperation to be heard by just one person, yet no sound ever carries. The people outside the window, living life out in that big world, bustling about to make the most of their day, while chronically ill sufferers are often watching, longing to be out there with the “normals” instead of trapped by the prison of their bodies.

Hopefully someday we can all learn to quit sharing those polite white lies that makes an easier conversation; avoiding the bare truth that is uncomfortable for both sides. Maybe if we try just once today to be honest about our vulnerability we will get a step closer to truly understanding one another.

A Little Sass

I’m in a lot of pain today, so I’m keeping this short and sweet. The first SO applies to my life, especially while I’m back on bedrest. I have the ideas and motivation, but not a body that can actually do anything I want most of the time.

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Now a few just because they’re my favorite “laughs” right now. I hope you enjoy them too. A part of me is worried about how accurate these are. πŸ˜‰

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A Little Awww to Start Your Day

My “day” is a bit unconventional, so my day doesn’t end until the wee hours (if then lol). This means that I am not going to follow a conventional day’s hours to qualify on this blogging challenge (so no ribbing me about being late Z *grin*). That said, before I try to sleep I thought I’d share a few more fur baby pics.

While grocery shopping I found a huge Bobo, which is a type of stuffed dog toy. Well, my dog Bo spotted the Christmas Bobo before I’d even started bringing the groceries in off of the deck. The little stinker snagged Bobo and went running inside. *grin* He was so happy I couldn’t bring myself to take it from him to hide until Christmas. So here are a couple of shots of him with his new Bobo that has what Larry coined “Christmas pox”.

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As if that wasn’t enough to grin about I have more proof that one of my cats, Abby, is silly as can be. To battle the cold and keep the heating bill manageable we’ve been using our wood stove almost around the clock. We hadn’t even finished unloading a bag load of firewood when little miss decided it was her new favorite spot. *laugh* By the way, it looks precarious from the angle, but everything was stable thankfully, so she was safe. Just looks really bad from that angle. Larry checked. *grin*

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Hopefully the couple of cute pictures will help you start your day, and weekend, off with a smile. πŸ™‚

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