DIY foaming hand soap

DIY Thieves foaming hand soap

Last night I helped teach a class on DIY (Do It Yourself) products using essential oils.  One of the recipes I shared was my foaming hand soap recipe and since I love it so much I thought I’d share it with you too.

(By the way, if you want the recording to the DIY class let me know!  We talked about some of the recipes I’ve shared before, like sleep cream and stretch mark cream, but also body wash, germ cream, diaper cream, body scrub, lip balm, bug spray, shower scrub, and more.  Tons of great Make ‘n Take or Christmas gift ideas!  I’ll send you the link so you can listen.)

So let’s talk soap.

Even before I went totally crunchy/hippie/natural I was shying away from antibacterial soap.  I just felt like we were stripping our bodies of the bad and good bacteria and that’s one reason people are so sick all the time – they haven’t built up enough immunity!  So I made it a point to buy hand soap that was not antibacterial (that wasn’t super easy to find, but there were a few brands that sold “regular” soap).  Turns out I was ahead of the game…triclosan, the chemical in most antibacterial soap, has come under some scrutinization for the fact that it can mess with hormones and that it doesn’t actually clean any better than regular ‘ole soap and water.  Thankfully many companies are now phasing triclosan out of their products.

Got a little off track there, apologies.

So anyway, once we did start to move toward a more natural lifestyle and I started making my own cleaning supplies, laundry soap, etc., and it made sense to make my own hand soap too.  I found a recipe online and made a big batch but it was a disaster.  It was difficult – you had to grate a bar of soap and cook it in water basically until is melted.  The consistency was disgusting – it looked and felt like snot.  So gross.  The only thing it had going for it was is smelled good.  We used it for awhile (although if guests were coming over I switched out with a bottle of store bought soap because the homemade stuff was just embarrassing) but eventually just switched back to buying soap.

Then I got into essential oils and I found a recipe for DIY foaming hand soap.  I’ve never liked foaming soap but I figured foaming was better than snotty so I gave it a whirl.  I’ve gotten used to the foam by now and I love making my own!

Supplies needed

  • Castile Soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s – I’ve seen it at Target, Kroger, Whole Foods, and Amazon)
  • Gylcerin (I use the Now brand, purchased from Amazon)
  • Essential Oils (of course I recommend Young Living)
  • A soap dispenser (I bought some cheap Dial soap from Walmart, dumped the soap it came with, and then washed the dispenser to use for my soap; some people use old Bath and Body Works dispensers; and of course you can just buy foaming hand soap dispensers by themselves.  I actually saw some at Kroger the other day for $6, which is way cheaper than what I found online)

This  is the recipe I use:

diy thieves hand soap[source]

  • I do not add the vitamin E oil.  I actually have vitamin E that I use in my homemade body wash as well as my stretch mark cream, but for whatever reason I’ve been leaving it out of the soap.  I need to give that a try next time!
  • I don’t measure (that makes Michael crazy!  I cook that way too).  I would assume that I follow the measurements listed in the graphic pretty closely, but basically I just do a big squirt of soap, a smaller squirt of glycerin, then add a few drops of oil and the water.  It’s so fast, takes me just a minute to refill all the soap dispensers in the house.  I like to do them all at once, assembly-line style.

You can change this and make all kinds of combinations!  Dr. Bronner’s has several scents (lavender, peppermint, orange, almond, and baby mild are the ones I’ve seen in stores; they also have rose, eucalyptus, and tea tree, which I’ve only seen online and haven’t tried yet) and then of course there are tons of essential oil options you could use.  So far I’ve always done peppermint Dr. Bronner’s and Thieves essential oil.  I think it smells great and Christmasy and I feel that Thieves is the best one to add for extra germ fighting.

Other combos that would be lovely:

  • lavender Dr. B’s plus tea tree EO (proper name: melaleuca alternafolia)
  • lavender Dr. B’s plus lemon EO
  • orange Dr. B’s plus any of the citrus EOs (orange, lime, lemon, Citrus Fresh, bergamot, etc.)
  • baby mild Dr. B’s (unscented) plus any EO of your choice since the only scent would be the EOs

Be creative!  I like to open the bottle of soap and the bottle of oil and hold them both up to my nose so I can smell them at the same time and see if I think I’ll like the combo.

This is a really easy step you can take into switching your household products to something more natural.  I think it would be really fun to get together with a bunch of friends for everyone to make some soap to take home!

Have you made soap before?  Did you like it?

What combinations do you think would smell good?

Oh and if DIY is just not your thing, you can buy foaming hand soap from Young Living; they have Thieves and lavender.   Ask your favorite friendly Young Living distributor (me of course) how to order.

Books of the New Testament envelope book

Wednesday I went to a professional development and attended a session about bookmaking.  We learned about all kinds of fun little books that you can make with your students – some that could be used as graphic organizers and others could be used for students to write stories and “publish” their own books.  I got some great ideas to use next school year…and one to use that very night in the 1st and 2nd grade class I’m teaching at church.  I had to hustle to get everything prepared in time, but I think it still turned out pretty neat.

The topic I’m teaching this quarter is The Epistles.  In this particular lesson I wanted to work on the divisions of the New Testament.  I turns out that most of the kids didn’t know the books of the New Testament yet so we’re going to be working on that too, but this is a fun activity that will help with sorting the books of the New Testament by divisions.  Surely someone else out there will need to teach the divisons of the New Testament at some point, so I thought I’d share what I did in case you might could use this (downloadable templates at the end of the post).

books of the New Testament envelope book suppliesWhat you need: 4 or 5 envelopes, labels, a front and back, and the books of the New Testament (not pictured: scissors, glue, and staples)

books of the New Testament envelope book envelopeCut the flaps off the envelopes

books of the New Testament envelope bookStack the front cover, the envelopes, and the back cover.  Staple.

books of the New Testament envelope book gospels

books of the New Testament envelope book historyCut out the labels (Gospels, History, Epistles, and Prophecy) and glue on the envelopes.  I used five envelopes and only had four labels because I left one envelope for storage.  You could make a label for that one, too, I just didn’t think about it.

books of the New Testament envelope book back coverBack cover – I put the divisions on the back so they can check their answers

books of the New Testament envelope book activityThe extra envelope is for them to store the books, then they can sort them into the appropriate pockets.

assembling the books of the New Testament envelope book

cutting out the books of the New Testament envelope bookThe kids worked hard and seemed to enjoy making their books

Obviously this envelope book can be used for tons of other activities and it’s easy to make – all you really need is some cardstock and envelopes.

Click here to download the templates for this activity: New Testament books

What’s a scrapbooking retreat anyway?

I’ve been scrapbooking since 7th grade but I had never been on a scrapbooking retreat until this past weekend.  I never really saw the appeal – I mean, it’s a lot of work to pack up all your scrapbooking stuff, lug it to the retreat, set it up, and then pack it all back up at the end of the weekend.  Plus, I just couldn’t justify paying money to go scrapbook when I could do that for free in my own home.

Boy was I missing out!  A friend from church invited me to go on her annual scrapbooking retreat, and I finally decided to check it out and see what all the hype was about.  I am so glad I went.  First of all, I had an absolute blast.  And second, I got a ton of scrapbooking done!

I had no idea what to expect since this was my first one.  The retreat actually started Thursday night, but I had to work on Friday so by the time I got there Friday night, everyone else was in full scrapbooking mode.  When I walked in the door I was totally overwhelmed.  It looked like a scrapbook store exploded in there!  There were Cricuts, computers, printers, albums, punches, tools, papers, stickers, tables, chairs, boxes, and bags galore.  It was overwhelming.  I thought I had a lot of stuff, but I’m pretty sure I had the smallest amount of stuff of anyone there (except maybe the girl that was working on a digital scrapbook and only had her computer).

scrapbook retreat 6

scrapbook retreat 4 scrapbook retreat 5We each brought a folding table, chair, and of course, all our stuff.  Mine is the one on the right side of the picture with the pink chair.

Of course most of our time was spent scrapbooking.  The schedule was pretty much eat, sleep, and scrapbook.  We did have some fun activities like contests on who did the most pages each day, a contest for who made the best page using the same paper, a pajama and ice cream party, and a scavenger hunt.  And the food was amazing.  There is a sweet lady who does not scrapbook, but volunteers her time to come to our retreat and cook for us so that none of the participants has to stop scrapbooking to fix food.  The food was amazing – way better than your typical “camp food”, and it was so nice to just grab a plate, eat a quick meal, and then get right back to scrapbooking.

We also got a surprise snow while we were there.  It was the first weekend in March and no one expected snow, especially not this much!  It snowed pretty much all day Saturday and it was absolutely beautiful!

scrapbook retreat 3

It was so fun to stay all cozy inside the mess hall while we scrapbooked, with snow coming down outside all day long.  And then fortunately it was all melted by Sunday when it was time to go home so we didn’t have to deal with slick roads.
scrapbook retreat 2 The snowflakes were unlike any I’d ever seen before.  You could actually see each individual snowflake – they were huge and looked like the ones you cut out of paper.  What an amazing testament to God’s design.  So intricate and beautiful.  I tried so hard to get a picture but my camera just doesn’t have the capabilities to zoom in that close.  scrapbook retreat 1Overall it was a fantastic weekend!  I made new friends, had a blast, and got a ton of scrapbooking done.  It also motivated me to get more done, so I’ve been working this weekend on finally getting my craft area set up in our bonus room.  I hope to have that area semi-organized soon so I can keep on working!

As for the retreat…definitely worth the money!  And I’ll certainly be back next year.  Oh and next year it will be held at our church’s new camp that we are currently building (thought I’d throw in a little plug…) – check out the great article about Big Reedy that was in the paper this week!

 

Wizard of Oz cakes

Nora's first birthday smash cakeThis lil’ cutie turned one last week (hold the phone…how is that even possible?  I’m pretty sure I attended her baby shower just yesterday…but I digress)

Her momma took a major leap of faith and asked me if I would be interested in making her cakes so I could practice using my newly acquired cake decorating skills.  Outside of the cakes I made and decorated in class I’ve only made two other cakes – both which were very simple.  So being asked to make the party cake and the smash cake for Nora’s party made me feel incredibly honored but also quite nervous!

The party had a Wizard of Oz theme (I can’t wait to share more pictures of the rest of the party later…Julie did an AH-MAZING job with all the decor and food!).  Julie found some cake ideas she liked and we bounced around some ideas until we settled on one like this (although this one was absolutely incredible…no way could I recreate that but it was certainly fantastic to look at…go ahead, click over and check it out, you won’t be sorry).

Not only was this my first cake for someone else but it was also my first tiered cake.  As I started looking at cake pans to figure out the size of the cake, I realized that in order to have room on the tiers for the little figurines to stand that I was going to have to have some pretty big layers!  The bottom layer ended up being a 14″ round that took 15 cups of batter and was almost too much for me to remove from the oven myself!  It turned out quite a bit larger than I expected but the overall finished look was totally worth it!

Michael and I were also nervous about transporting a cake of that size and weight but fortunately it arrived unharmed.  We put a bunch of dowels in it for support and that seemed to work really well.

3 tiered Wizard of Oz cakeHere it is – my first tiered cake!  I had a really hard time getting a picture because of the window behind the cake so I’m hoping the photographer got a better one I can use later.

The bottom layer was chocolate, the middle layer was white, and the top layer was white with chocolate filling.  The green icing was buttercream, the yellow brick road was made out of fondant, and the poppies are made with royal icing.  Julie made the Emerald City for the top.  The little ruby slippers were American Girl doll shoes.

I was really pleased with how it turned out!

Wizard of Oz smash cakeI also made Nora’s smash cake – a simple, 1 layer chocolate cake with buttercream icing, buttercream clouds, and a fondant rainbow.

Let’s zoom out and check out that high chair, shall we?
Adorbs.  I love the high chair’s decorations!

I also love this little munchkin and am so glad I got to be a part of her birthday!

DIY super quick Kindle case

e-reader cover tutorial

I recently switched purses from a rather small, structured purse to a large, black hole-type purse.  In my old purse, everything had its own little section and so my Kindle was sort of protected by the soft side of my purse and the soft cloth of my wallet.  However, in my current purse, everything is all tossed in there and jumbled up so I was afraid that my Kindle was going to get scratched up.

What’s a girl to do?  Why, sew a little protective case for it, of course!  And because I’m so nice (wink, wink) I created a tutorial for you so you can make one too.  This is such a fast little project – it takes maybe 30 minutes, probably less if you are an experienced seamstress (which I’m not).

Just a note before we start – this is NOT a padded protective case.  I just wanted a layer of fabric thick enough to keep my Kindle from getting scratched, but it will probably not protect it if you drop your Kindle.  That would require some extra padding that I didn’t use.

Also, I just make things up as I go along – there are probably much better ways to do some of these things but I just do what works for me.  Forgive my novice skills.

Supplies needed: 2 complimentary pieces of fabric (this is a great project for your scraps because you need such a small amount of fabric), a button, some elastic (I used a ponytail holder…it didn’t match but it was free so I didn’t really care)

From each pattern, cut a piece that is 6 inches wide by 14.5 inches tall.  This can easily be adjusted if your Kindle is a different size than mine, or if you are making this for a different type of e-reader.

Place your two pieces with the right sides together.  Stitch the two short ends together, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

You’ll end up with a large tube.  Once it is stitched, turn the tube inside out so the right sides are facing out and iron the seams.

You can start to see the pocket forming.

Fold the fabric in half opposite of how you want your pocket to look (I wanted the flowered fabric on the outside and the polka dot fabric as my lining, so I sewed it with the polka dot fabric out and the flower fabric inside).

Use your e-reader to estimate where you need to sew the sides.

Sew up each side of the fabric, making a pocket.

It should look something like this.  Flip it inside out and slide your Kindle down into the pocket to make sure it is tight or loose enough.  You can see on the left where I stitched a second time to make the pocket a little smaller.

Trim off the excess fabric on the outsides of each seam, then flip inside out.

It’s like a little sleeping bag for your Kindle :)

In the middle of the side that you’ve decided will be the back, sew your elastic on, about an inch down from the top.

Cut a long, skinny strip of your lining fabric (I think mine was about 2 inches by 15 inches). Set your machine to it’s longest stitch length and sew a long, loose seam up each side of the fabric (aka, baste it).

To turn that into a ruffle, pull on one of the threads from each seam – don’t pull both, just grab one thread and pull.  The fabric will start to ruffle up.  Then move to the other seam and pull once of those threads too.

Now here is where I stopped taking pictures because this next part was a little difficult and required my total concentration.  So bear with me and try to imagine these next few steps.

Once you’ve adjusted your ruffle to the ruffley-ness you desire, wrap it around the case about a half an inch from the top (make sure it will cover the spot where you sewed the elastic to the pouch).  Pin it into place.  Then sew the ruffle onto the pocket, on top of the basting stitches you used to create the ruffle.  My machine has a piece that removes and leaves a skinny place to put a sleeve or other small circular object.  This pocket just barely fit on there and because it was such a tight fit I had some real problems with turning it while I was sewing around the ruffle.  Next time I might see if there is a way to sew the ruffle on before trimming the pocket part down.

Anyway, once you’ve sewn the ruffle on, then sew the button on to the middle of the front of your case (no specific measurement, it just depends on how far down your elastic will come.

A note about the ruffle – I just left the raw edges on the ruffles.  I know they will fray a bit over time and I’m ok with that look.  If you don’t like that, you’ll need to fold the edges over and somehow sew them down before creating your ruffle.

And your Kindle case is done!

I was pretty pleased how it turned out, especially since I had all the things I needed at home and didn’t have to buy anything (although that resulted in an elastic and thread that didn’t quite match, but oh well).

The thread that goes on the ruffle should have matched the purple fabric.  I have a camera case with a similar ruffle on it – the thread holding the ruffle on is a contrasting color and it looks good, so I thought using the white would look ok on mine.  Turns out I was wrong.  It just highlights my crooked stitches and draws attention away from the cute ruffle.  Next time I will use thread that matches the ruffle fabric.

Also, the thread that I used to sew the button on was yet a different color.  It happened to match the goldish tan color of the flowers from the fabric, but it doesn’t look good right next to the white that I used for the ruffle.  Note to self: use the same thread for the ruffle and the button, and make sure the color will blend in.

Now that I know what to do differently, I could whip this up in a jiffy!  Too bad I don’t need another Kindle case.  Maybe someone I know will need one for Christmas…

Oh, and on a semi-related note: hopefully this will be the last sewing project I do where I have to haul out all my sewing stuff and drag it to the kitchen table (the only surface large enough in our apartment) to sew since my next project should be done from the comfort of the permanent sewing table/area/station in my craft area in OUR NEW HOUSE.  Yep, you read that right…after 4 months of searching and 30+ houses visited, we finally found one we loved and we got a contract on it yesterday.  SO EXCITING!

October block of the month

I’ve finished my October blocks of the month…which means I’m finished with all the blocks for my very first quilt!  I’m so proud!  This month we learned how to do paper piecing.  Once I’d done one section and got the hang of it, it turned out to be so easy!  I loved it!  Paper piecing with a template was so much easier for me then trying to cut out precise shapes and then make sure to sew the seam not too narrow and not too wide.  I’m definitely a fan.

Craftsy block of the month October - friendship circle

Craftsy block of the month for October - circle of geeseI just love how crisp and neat each block looks, thanks to the wonders of paper piecing!

Now that I’ve finished all 20 quilt blocks, I laid them all out to get a feel for how they will look once they are put together.  I’ve just had them in a stack and this is the first time I’ve laid them all out side by side…seeing them all at once makes me so excited to finish the quilt!

(Pardon the bad picture – our bed was the only place big enough in our tiny apartment to lay the blocks all out at once…and it’s hard to get up high enough to get a good angle!)

Craftsy block of the month quilt blocks

I laid them out by month for this picture (starting in the upper left hand corner, the first two are January, then the next two are February; on the second row we have March and then April, and so on).  I like the idea of grouping them together by month since this was a Block of the Month quilt, but I don’t think I’m going to end up leaving them in this order because there are clumps of similar colors that need to be spaced out, like the five blocks toward the bottom right that are predominately pink and turquoise.

Next month we will learn bordering and sandwiching, and then in December we finish it off with binding and quilting.  I am a mere two months away from completing my very first quilt!  Hooray!

Wanna make your own quilt?  It’s not too late – the class is free, all the past videos are still available, and they will continue to be available even after the class ends.  Check it out here:

September blocks of the month

Another month, another set of quilt blocks.  This month in my Craftsy Block of the Month class we learned how to do curved piecing using the Drunkard’s Path templates.  When I first started trying to pin and sew these pieces together, I got super frustrated.  In fact, after I botched the first one, I had to just set it aside, go to bed, and try again the next day.  After a little bit of practice the next day, though, I finally got the hang of it.  They weren’t all perfect, and this was definitely more time-consuming than many of the other methods we’ve used, but I’m so proud of myself for conquering my fear of curved pieces.

September Craftsy Block of the Month - Chain Block

I really like this chain block – I thought it turned out really cool.

September Craftsy Block of the Month - Cleopatra's PuzzleThe Cleopatra’s Puzzle block wasn’t my favorite we’ve ever done, but I still liked the end result.

I can’t believe it is already September – that means that I only have one more method and two more quilt blocks to make in October!  Then I’ll have all 20 blocks done and it will be time to learn how to bind and quilt my very first quilt in November and December.  I’m so excited!

High Five for Friday

Hello Friday!  This week has seemed both long and short at the same time to me…short because I was only at school three out of five days, but long because I was at school Monday, at a training away from school Tuesday and Wednesday, and then back at school Thursday and today, so it actually felt like two school weeks…but without the weekend!

Anyway, needless to say I’m excited for the weekend!  We have another busy one coming up, but hopefully it will be productive.

Here’s what I’m excited about this week:

1. We have been canning our little hearts out, but we’re almost done.  Two weekends ago we spend the weekend canning salsa and pizza sauce, while last weekend we canned a ton of tomato sauce, some tomatoes, and green beans.  This weekend we hope to get some pickles canned, and the call if quits for now (since we might do some apple butter later in the fall).  I am so proud of how much we’ve gotten put up: 7 quarts of tomatoes, 11 pints of green beans, 13 pints of tomato sauce, 17 pints of salsa, and 9 pints of pizza sauce!  It’s going to make sticking to our real food lifestyle so much easier this winter.

canningmost of our cans in their current storage spot…under our coffee table

2. I’ve really been in an organizing and cleaning mood recently – even more so than usual, so that encouraged me to get some stuff done that I’ve been putting off for a while…like selling back textbooks.  I had a ton of books from undergrad, graduate school, and some other random stuff lying around.  We finally sat down Monday night and Michael listed them on half.com – it was WAY easier than I thought it would be and we were able to list 19 books in less than 30 minutes.  And…we’ve already sold seven of those books!  Yay for getting some of our money back and getting some of the clutter out of our house.  Now if I could only find the time to go through, donate or sell, and organize my shoes and purses…that’s another organizational itch I have that I really want to scratch right now, just haven’t found time to get around to it.

3. It’s my 1 year blogaversary next week!  I cannot believe I’ve been blogging for almost a year!  Wowzas.  I’m pretty excited.

4. Banana mocha smoothies (made with all real ingredients) have been my dessert of choice this week.  It sounds a little weird but it tastes quite good, and is a fairly good alternative to mocha frappes…I may have to share the recipe soon.

5. I finally got the time to work on my quilt this week.  That was fun, but the bad part is that once I get started, I want to work on it all the time!  And sadly I just don’t have the time right now.  I have so many fun ideas for quilts floating around in my head and no time to create them…maybe someday.  But at least I got to do a little this week.

Linking up with Lauren

Photobucket

August block of the month

After a weekend full of canning tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green beans, I had a bit of a break yesterday and got to spend my Sunday afternoon working on my quilt.  I completed my August quilt blocks and, as with every month, I’m already wishing I knew what September’s would be so I could get to work on them!  This month we learned how to do two different star blocks.

Ohio Star

not my favorite – pretty plain jane, and I couldn’t get all my corners to match up nicely

Double Star

I was a little skeptical about this one at first, but I ended up really liking it and it wasn’t nearly as hard to do as I expected

I just can’t wait until December when I’ll have my very first quilt completely done!  I’m so excited to see how it turns out!

(in case you’re new around here, I’m taking a free online quilting class: Craftsy Block of the Month…feel free to join at any time if you want to make a quilt, too)

Pinteresting Tuesday

I haven’t done one of these in a while so I decided to take a moment to show you some of the cool things I’ve found on Pinterest recently.

 

This corn looks so yummy (and easy, too!).  I’m planning to make this tomorrow so I’ll let you know how it is.

 

I would love to have a pantry this amazing someday!

 

Crayon art is all over Pinterest, and in fact I’ve made some myself (plus we did some last week at camp), but I thought this was a really unique version.  I might have to make this someday!

 

What a genius idea – put paper/foam plates between your plates when you move rather than wrapping each one in paper.  I never would have thought of this so I’m glad I saw this pin!  Definitely keeping that in mind as we house hunt and (hopefully) move soon.

 

Most of the nail tutorials I see on Pinterest look really cool but way to complicated for me to do.  This one actually looks like something I could manage (paint the base coat, then dip a straw in other colors of paint to make the circles)!

Source: jokideo.com via Caitlin on Pinterest

 

I absolutely do this…

And one last thing…If you are of the elementary librarian/teacher persuasion, you might want to check out my school stuff board – I’ve been collecting tons of ideas for the upcoming school year but there are just way too many to share here!

Speaking of school, yesterday was my first day of work – I spent the day cleaning the library and organizing my office.  It was exhausting, a little overwhelming, but exciting!  Today I hope to start figuring out what exactly I have as far as books and materials go.  So fun!