Posts Tagged With: contest

And The Winner Is….

Heather!

Email me your relevant information, Heather, and six samples of my hand crafted soaps will be making their way to your doorstep, along with an extra surprise or two. Congratulations!

Yesterday, Beth asked how she might be able to subscribe to my new soaping blog by email. This morning, I figured out how to add that to the blog and there is now a spot to subscribe by email… for anyone who would like to.

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This is how the soap turned out, by the way. It’s a nice hard soap that was hard to cut. It did gel but not completely; that won’t affect the final product, just the aesthetics. Considering that it’s soap and will all be going down the drain eventually, I’m not overly concerned about it.

I did do a little more knitting on John’s sweater yesterday; I have about 6″ done so far. Right now, it’s straight up the back for 17.5″ before starting the armhole shaping. I don’t think much knitting will happen around here today; there is lasagna to be put together (I made the meat sauce yesterday) and a dinner to prepare for.

John’s planning on making a cheesecake for dessert, using a recipe his mother received years ago from a NYC native. I’m looking forward to it; he’s never made it for me. This is a traditional, basic, baked cheesecake with the cherry pie filling on it. Yum! It will be a lovely finish to our dinner, I think.

Now, it’s an absolutely gorgeous fall day around here. We had a bit of a wind storm last night; it was an amazingly warm wind that scattered chairs and leaves around the yard. Today, it’s bright and sunny out.. beautiful! It’s time to get motivated and out there!

Enjoy your weekend, all, and to my Canadian family and friends… Happy Thanksgiving.

grapes

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Cooking, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It Ends Now

Well, it sort of ends now. Today is the last day to get your comments in (on the blog, not on Facebook); I’ll be making the draw for 6 soap samples tomorrow.

soapsamples

Test pieces for some of my soaps… don’t they almost look good enough to eat?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada; we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. We will not be doing the “turkey thing”; I’d rather have a nice quiet weekend without the hectic busyness of cooking a full turkey dinner. That’s not relaxing at all, thankyouverymuch! I was thinking of putting together a big pan of lasagna, to be honest. Not very Thanksgiving-ish, is it? Certainly decadent, though!

I have every intention of filling the weekend with knitting related stuff. I have a book on the iPod (The Confessor by Daniel Silva) and a couple of projects on the needles; I am ready to relax!

First though, John’s slippers are finished… the knitting and the felting, although I will have to throw them back into the washer to felt a little more. For some reason, one slipper felted more than the other.

Johnslippers

My washer isn’t the best one out there, that’s for sure. I get lint on everything, and I do mean everything! I’m leery of washing anything white because I’ll end up with dark lint streaks on it; I’m afraid of washing anything dark because I end up with light lint streaks all over it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. In the case of the slippers, though, at least we can brush the lint off.

Because John’s slippers are finished, I’ve allowed myself to start his sweater. I’ve gone through one ball of yarn so far and that’s just knitting a few rows each evening while watching a show or two on the computer (we don’t have a tv… by choice).

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The stitch pattern is an easy one to memorize and read and, as you can see, knits up fairly quickly. The yarn feels really nice in the hand and makes a cozy fabric. I don’t think he’ll be at all disappointed with this cardigan. I’m already a little jealous.

I also have another small project on the needles. I’ve decided I like having a face cloth on the go; they’re the perfect small project – they knit up fairly quickly, even with fine yarn, and they’re a usable little item. I don’t especially like using them in the kitchen but I do like using them on my face.

whitefacecloth

This time, I’m using Paton’s BumbleBee baby cotton, a 100% cotton, DK weight, that I do believe has been discontinued (yup… just checked; it was discontinued in 2005… and, yes, I’ve had it that long!). It’s a very soft cotton, nice to work with and knits up beautifully. I have about a half dozen or so balls of it so there will be a few of these face cloths in my linen closet before too long, or they’ll be given as gifts, accompanied by a bar or two of handcrafted soap.

Speaking of soap, I don’t think there will be any soap making this weekend; I’m out of coconut oil and I’m waiting for an order of a couple of items to arrive from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Vancouver. I could just run out and pick up some more coconut oil but soaping isn’t high on my priority list this weekend.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ugly Soap = Learning Experience

One of the things I’ve learned in my foray into soap making is that you WILL make ugly soaps – not intentionally, mind you, but you will make them. I have one soap that I wouldn’t even consider sharing with anyone, ever.

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This is a peppermint/rosemary soap I made at the end of August. That batch was cursed from the beginning. The recipe called for way too much of the peppermint leaves, it never got hard and there’s so much peppermint oil in it I could use it as a substitute for Vick’s VapoRub. Seriously, a fail all around.

I went to the Soap Making Forum and started reading about rebatching and confetti soaps and anything else I could find about turning ugly soaps into a usable and, possibly, even pretty soap. Or, at the very least, better looking. Here’s the result of my reading… and learning.

The new, and very much improved, Peppermint Soap.

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I grated up three bars of the ugly peppermint soap, made a batch of coconut milk soap, poured about half the batter into the soap shavings, mixed it well and poured that mixture into the mold. Then, carefully, I poured the rest of the soap batter over the base and made the top pretty. It gelled completely within a couple of hours and, by this morning, was hard enough to unmold and cut.

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That is a much prettier soap than the original soap, wouldn’t you agree? Just for the sake of comparison, here’s a picture with both bars.

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I’m looking forward to trying it in about a month. It still smells very minty but not as strong as the original. I think this will be a great “wake me up in the morning” kind of soap. I just need to practice some patience.

Speaking of patience, I also need to learn patience when it comes to unmolding my soaps from the silicone molds. They do take a little longer to firm up, I find. I’m not sure why, really.

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These are the soaps from the daisy mold. I love them but I did damage two of them by trying to take them out too soon. I should have waited the full 24 hours or longer. Ah well… a couple of uses and you won’t see the flower anyway. And it’s not as if they’re for sale. They sure are pretty, though, and I think the recipe is a good one. We’ll see how it hardens within the next couple of days.

Today, I’ll be trying a new (to me) technique, a feather swirl. John’s out right now, trying to make a tool for that purpose. It uses a hanger (yes, a wire coat hanger) or something a little thicker. I found something that will, hopefully, work but it needs shaping; John’s taken it to his work shop to bend it in the vise they have there. The technique creates a feather inside the soap using 3-4 colours. It’s the October challenge over on the Soap Making Forum and I’ve decided to enter; I’m really looking forward to seeing what everyone comes up with.

Ok, time to stop procrastinating; there are dishes to be done, slippers to felt (yes, I’ve finished the knitting; I just need to stitch them up and felt them), soap to design, a letter to write. Today’s going to be a full day!

Categories: Contest, Just stuff, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Don’t Forget – Soap Giveaway

You have one week left to enter to win a 6 pack soap sampler. Leave a comment and you’re entered!

Last week, I left you with a teaser about an upcoming work in progress – a cardigan for John. When the newest KnitPicks catalog arrived, I showed John one of the pictures of a man’s cardigan that I thought he might like. He wanted to see more so I brought up the KP web site and showed him the rest of the pictures there. He liked it. He liked it a lot. When I asked him if I should purchase the yarn and pattern, he said yes! I didn’t wait!

The yarn was ordered and has already arrived. I have been told, though, that I am not allowed to start the sweater until his slippers are finished. Yeah, they’re still not done.

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The pattern is the Hidden Light Cardigan; to see more pictures, click here. When I showed John the colour choices in the yarn, he pointed to the picture and said, “That one.” Apparently, he really likes that cardigan in that colour. I like it, too, so we’re going with it. I’ve already done a test swatch (just a swatch, that’s all!) and my gauge is right on so I’m good to go… as soon as his slippers are done.

This weekend is a weekend without grandchildren around so I’m getting a few things done. Once I’m finished with this post, I’ll be knitting. Care to guess what I’ll be working on?

Already today, I’ve been out – had my hair cut this morning, wandered around the farmer’s market, did some shopping, picked up a new mold for my soaps, stuff like that. Just before I sat down to write this post, I made a small batch of soap to fill my new mold… and a few more molds.

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I love the Fat Daddio’s silicone molds; the flower molds are so pretty. This one is the daisy; I have my eye on the sunflower, the narcissus, and the rose molds as well but those are a special order. I made a small batch of soap with sunflower oil, superfatted with 1 teaspoon of argan oil and scented with the last of my neroli essential oil. It’s setting now and I can barely wait to see how it comes out. The recipe this time is one of my own devising.

Now, I’m done here for today… I’m off to get comfy and finish those %*$(&^# slippers.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, John's Sweater, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ah, the Weekend!

And I’m feeling like it’s already getting away from me. There are so many things I want to do but, so far, not much is getting done. Well, I shouldn’t really say that. After all, I did make a small test batch of soap for myself (using 12 ounces of oils) and I did get some shopping done, including the purchase of a cake for a certain someone’s 60th birthday on Monday (but you didn’t hear it from me).

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When I say a small batch, I do mean a small batch. I bought a small carton of milk so I could have milk with my tea at work. Once it was empty, I washed out the carton and brought it home for this very reason. That makes about four bars worth of soap. The soap inside…

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…is a recipe I designed as a face soap, with lots of moisturizing, pampering oils (like cocoa butter, rice bran oil, coconut oil, and olive oil). The colorant is spirulina, which turns the soap a lovely shade of green. Right now, it’s still too soft to remove from the carton but I’m itching to get it out and see how the swirling worked out. To create the swirl, I used about one quarter of the soap batter, incorporated the spirulina into it, and poured it back into the soap pot before pouring the whole batch into the carton. I’ve scented the soap with the last of my sandalwood essential oil (there wasn’t much left).

I’ve also blind baked a pastry shell for the quiche we’re having for a birthday lunch tomorrow. And I’ve cleaned out the fridge.

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Lunch tomorrow will be Quiche Lorraine. I decided to blind bake (bake ahead of time) the pastry so it’s one thing I won’t have to do tomorrow. I did have a nice fluted edge on the pastry but that kind of melted. Oh well, it’s all in the flavour, right?

Still on the slate for today or tomorrow… finish John’s slippers. I got absolutely nothing done on them this past week. Two soles… that’s all I have left to do. In my defence, we did have company this week and the slippers take a good deal of concentration. I did do some knitting, though.

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The checkerboard face cloth is off the needles and I’ve started one of the ubiquitous garter stitch face cloths. I much prefer it in the finer yarn, to be honest. The chunkier ones are fine for dish cloths and such but for a face cloth, I do like the texture and feel of the finer yarn. Plus, it’s mindless knitting… never a bad thing.

Well, this post is taking a lot longer to write than I’d anticipated. It’s now Sunday morning and I’m already thinking about what needs to get done before Kristen and the kids get here for brunch.

While they were out rollerblading yesterday, I made another batch of soap. This one is a hemp soap.

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I love the colour! This morning, I’ve unmolded and cut it and I’m really happy with it. I’ve tried lathering up a small end cut and it lathers beautifully. I really think I have a winner with this one. I wasn’t sure what to scent it with so I’ve left it unscented; I don’t mind unscented soaps, especially if it’s something I’ll be using on my face.

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And the Spirulina soap, out of the milk carton and cut?

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I’m really pleased with the way the swirl came out. I haven’t tried lathering this one yet but I am definitely looking forward to trying it.

Now…. time to do some prep on our brunch. Quiche Lorraine coming up. I’ll tell you about John’s new (upcoming) cardigan another time.

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Contest, Cooking, Finished, Just stuff, Making Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

One More….

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re getting bored with all this soapy stuff, right? I apologize but I made another one last night. John was watching a movie that I wasn’t terribly interested in so I made soap. It isn’t ready to cut yet but I did take it out of the mold; now it can cure until tonight or tomorrow, when it should be ready to cut.

First though, Sandie asked whether or not soap can go bad. The short answer is maybe. Here’s a link that can explain it way better than I can. As you see, it depends on several things – the amount of lye (have all the oils been saponified?), the oils, the additives, and even the conditions in which the soap is stored.

A soap like Castile soap (made with 100% olive oil) can last for years and years if stored in a dry place. It becomes harder with age and the harder it gets, the longer it lasts. Soaps that are scented or coloured may lose their scent and/or colour in time but, unless it smells off, the soap is still safe to use.

Hopefully, it isn’t something I’ll have to worry too much about. I have a feeling my soaps will be well used. I’ve already been using some; each morning, I’ve been washing with my Coconut Milk soap. Oh my, do I love that one! It lathers beautifully, a nice creamy lather that washes away and leaves my face feeling clean but not stripped.

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There’s a sample piece of the Java Jumpstart soap at my kitchen sink and it, too, lathers beautifully with just the right amount of “scrubbiness” from the coffee grounds. The scent lingers on the hands after washing, a nice light, fresh scent.

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Yesterday, I sampled one of the shaving soap “cakes” and I can report that it, too is great. I’m just waiting for John to try it; I really want a man’s perspective on that one. It’s unscented on purpose because I know that some scents can be drying and/or irritating to sensitive skin and John does have sensitive skin.

Shave and Goat Milk2

Today’s soap is all about the colour and the mint. Rosemary Peppermint Soap through Pinterest that I thought might be a fun one to try. I don’t do a lot with colour because I don’t have a lot of colorant available. This recipe uses spirulina (which I had to buy) and peppermint leaves and is scented with peppermint, rosemary, and basil essential oil. Right now, my whole house smells of mint! (It’s no wonder I had a hard time falling asleep last night!)

RosePepSoap2

As I said earlier, it’s not quite ready for cutting yet and the soaps in the silicone mold will definitely need more time to harden up. I tried to take one out but it’s still very mushy. There’s only one thing that disappointed me a little. The soap did start to gel in the center and discoloured some of the mint leaves. I haven’t decided yet whether I like the small brown streaks or whether I hate them. I’ll decide once I cut the soap. (It does look a little bit cool, don’t you think?)

RosePepSoap1

A thought just occurred to me… how would a contest go over right about now? With fall looming on the horizon, I have a harvest of soaps; what if we have a draw for a soap sampler…. say, six different sample bars? Samples are approximately 1-2 ounces each.

Let’s see…. I’m not going to just give them away. I need something from you, too…. but what? I know! To be entered into the draw, tell me your favourite thing about fall. I’ll hold the draw in about one month, Saturday, October 10.

What’s your favourite thing about fall? Leave your response in the comments (on the blog, not on Facebook) and you’ll be automatically entered (unless you tell me you don’t want to be entered.).

 

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, Making Soap, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Happy Valentine’s Day

pink, white and red candied heart sprinkles

Wishing all my old friends (from the original Strings ‘n Things blog) and new friends (from this blog) a very happy Valentine’s Day. May your day be filled with love and good things.

I just wanted to let you know that today is the final day for posting a comment that would get your name included in the draw for the Metalouse (aka Hamburger) shawl.

metalouse4 Tomorrow (Friday), we will draw a name using a random number generator. I haven’t quite decided how to to it in such a way as to make it totally and completely impartial. I’m thinking of asking one of my co-workers (or John) to go to a random number generator website and have her (or him) fill in the numbers without her (or him) seeing my database of names. To keep everything open and above board, I think I’ll take a screen shot of the database so that nothing can change. Sound fair?

Remember, if you’d like in on a chance to win this shawl, just leave a comment anywhere on this blog. You’re automatically entered. But you only have today to enter!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Knitting | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blocked!

The Metalouse shawl has now been blocked and is off the needles! It had it’s photo shoot this morning; I must admit that, after blocking, I’m liking it much more than I did while knitting it. That is not to say I’m entering my name into the mix; I’m not. It will find it’s way, I hope, to someone who will love it and appreciate it more than I would.

Kristie made a suggestion in the comments on my last post – a sweater for John. Yes, it’s time, isn’t it? I’ve repaired his blue sweater and the green one I knit him ages ago desperately needs replacing (the holes at the elbow are getting larger by the day); I’m not even going to think about repairing it.

I asked him this morning what colour he would like his next sweater to be; his immediate response (he was still half asleep, incidentally) was “brown”. He has a green one, he has a blue one but he doesn’t have a brown sweater. So, I brought up the KnitPicks web site, the City Tweed Aran page, to be precise, and showed him one colour. He nixxed it immediately and pointed to another swatch. This one…

City Tweed Aran – Habanero

I will be ordering the yarn later this week, along with a couple of books, and will be measuring John, drawing out design ideas and drafting a pattern for his soon-to-be new sweater. In the meantime, I’ll be weaving in the ends on the Monster pants and working on the 10-stitch blanket while listening to an audiobook (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – I’m working my way through the series).

Ends, ends, ends!

Ends, ends, ends!

For those of you wondering, yesterday was enjoyable; I think we’ll do it again in the not too distant future. I first had him drive me to the fabric store to pick up a couple of zippers and some fusible interfacing (I’ll show you why tomorrow). We had a few groceries to pick up but before we did that, I gave him directions on where to go. He caught on fairly quickly. I think he had a mild panic attack when he saw Mama Panda (an Oriental buffet restaurant; we won’t eat there!) but I had my heart set on fish and chips. I’d tried to get him there before but he wouldn’t believe me that the fish was actually pretty good. Not as good as his but pretty good.

He was impressed. He was impressed enough that he agreed we could eat there again the next time the craving for fish and chips hit us.

The best part of the day, though, was when he told me that this is what he needed – to get out of the house, do something we don’t normally do – together.

Categories: Blogging, Finished, Knitting | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Blogging is Fun!

I wish I could tell you there’s been knitting happening around here but, honestly, there hasn’t been much. Oh, a couple more rows have been added to the Metalouse shawl today but, other than that, nothing. Absolutely nothing. I haven’t even been looking at knitting patterns!

So, what have I been doing? Blogging.

Seriously, I’ve been blogging. Just not here. I’ve started two blogs this week, one of which is mine. The other is for a customer at work who really wants a web presence but hasn’t a clue where or how to start. So, I offered to help her. I’ve set up a blog as her business website. Now, I’ll have to teach her how to post, or at least maintain the blog. That shouldn’t be too difficult, I hope.

Please, feel free to check out Electrolysis by Cynthia (if for no other reason than to check out what I set up for her). If you feel so inclined, leave Cynthia a quick hello, a welcome to the world wide interwebs.

The second blog I started, the one for myself, is for prose. I’ve always had the urge to write but I really didn’t feel that this blog was the place to do it. This week, that urge to write was completely unavoidable and I finally did it. Started writing, that is. The blog is there to “put it out there”. I’m not sure how often I’ll write something but when I do, I’ll have a place to put it. Care to check it out? You can find out what’s Blowing Through My Mind.

I’ve also reincarnated my photo blog, Clicks ‘n Thingsagain switching over to WordPress and giving it an entirely new look. I’m hoping that by doing this, it will kick start the creative juices again. So far, I’ve been having a lot of fun going through my archives and finding some great pictures, some I’d completely forgotten about.

The important thing, I suppose, is that I’m having fun, enjoying myself immensely.

By the way, don’t forget to leave a comment on any of the posts on this blog to be entered to win the Metalouse shawl. Only 19 days left till the draw!

Categories: Contest, Just stuff | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

What? No Cooking??

It’s Saturday again. This week has absolutely flown by! All of a sudden, we’ve passed the middle of January and February is coming fast! I wish I could say I’ve made good progress on John’s recycled socks, but some evenings were spent watching TV shows on the computer with John rather than knitting. I did spend a couple of evenings in the recliner, though, listening to an audio book (One Second After by William R. Forstchen… scary stuff, but sure makes you think!) and knitting the heel on the second sock while John did research on the computer.

As you can see, there’s definitely been progress. I will probably have these finished this weekend. That’s my goal. I have a shawl to finish, after all.

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Speaking of the shawl, I think I will change the original “rules” of the giveaway just slightly. Until February 14, anyone that comments on any blog post will be entered into the draw unless you specifically tell me that you really don’t want to be included. So, if you would like an opportunity to receive the shawl, be sure to comment.

Enough about the draw.

This week, I also made the trek across the road from where I work to visit the quilt shop situated there. I picked up a little more fabric for my growing stash of craft fabric. I refuse to call it quilt fabric as I don’t, and won’t, quilt. I do, however, like making the little snappy bags (as seen in this post); they’re cute and fun to make. I’d like to make one with a zippered pocket on one side and another one to use as a case for my glasses. Wow, do they ever have some gorgeous fabrics! It’s always a difficult decision and I have to stop myself from buying more than I can use.

Here’s what I came home with…

fabric

Aren’t they gorgeous? All but the orange fabric also have metallic gold accents. I’m so looking forward to creating something interesting with these fabrics. All I need now is some thread (I seem to be a little short on thread for some reason) and a couple of zippers. That means an outing today!

Categories: Contest, Knitting, Sewing | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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