9/17/09

Homemade Soap

Today I made cold process (lye) soap. It'll be about 5 weeks before I know if it's any good. I'm hoping for lots of lather and a silky feel. I think I should have poured this batch a little sooner, time will tell. Right now I have this 12" X 19" pan wrapped in blankets allowing the soap to heat up and complete the process for the next 24 hours. I'm doing this from some info in Susan Miller Cavitch's book The Natural Soap Book.
However, the recipie I used is from Essentially Soap by Dr. Robert S. McDaniel.
Simple No-Weighing Soap
A really simple recipe with commonly available ingredients. OK, so you don't have a scale and can't wait to start making soap. Well, here's a good beginner recipe that calls for oils and other ingredients you can find in the supermarket and health food store, and everything is measured, not weighed. To add your own touch, try adding about 1/2 cup of finely ground oatmeal or some kelp powder (green, a teaspoon or two for color) from your health food or bulk food store. When I made this, I added lavendar fragrance at light trace, not Lillly of the Valley, before the soap got too thick. Simple isn't it.
Vegetable Shortening - 6 Lbs (common sizes are 3 and 6 Lb cans)
Coconut Oil - 14 Fl. Oz. (from the health food store, use the whole jar) Olive oil - 3/4 cup Lye - 12 oz can dissolved in 2-3/4 cup distilled or deionized water Fragrance Oil, Lilly of the Valley (I used lavendar) - 2 Tbs (optional)
I have quite a bit of money involved in this batch that will probably yield about 18 bars. I saw several soapmaking kits on the internet that are premeasured and contain some nice ingredients. Crabapple, Brambleberry, and Ye Olde Soap Shoppe are a couple sites with kits.

9/10/09

Okra. Very interesting.........


I grew Okra in the garden this year. Not to eat but I have visions of making some Santa Christmas Ornaments from the dried okra. Surprisingly, I got a nice sized basket full from only six plants. I also thought the plants, which grew to about 4 ft, were very ornamental. Maybe pretty enough to stick among the flower beds.
Then I heard the really good news about okra....... from a site called The Gardeners Rake........
From that site: I read that Okra would control Japanese Beetles. The year before I had horrible leave damage in the gardens and yard. I tried the beetle bag traps and they would fill with rain and fall over or the bugs crawled out. I ended up hand picking them off but it was a loosing battle. There had to be a better way!

One thing I did read and notice to be true is that Japanese beetles were attracted to the color yellow.
That spring I started a few okra plants. I started them indoors living in a cooler Zone 5 growing area and treated them like I would a tomato seedling and transplant. When the plants were ready to set outdoors and all chances of a frost were over I placed them in container and garden pots.

Growing them in containers gave me the ability to move the plants around the yard and gardens to places that were suffering from the beetles. I made sure I placed the plants 20 to 30 feet away from the gardens so that I was not attracting the bugs into the gardens or raspberry patch.
It worked! I quickly noticed a drastic decrease in my plant damage and the pests were no on everything. I moved the plants to another section of the yard and again noticed the bugs were disappearing.

The basis behind the okra plant controlling the beetles is that the large delicate yellow flower on the plant attracted the insect and they would chew on the leaves, which were toxic to this bug and would die. For me this worked and I will have this plant in my gardens from now on.
I also found that the pods dried well and could be used in crafts and dried arrangements.

One other added benefit, the plants are pretty. The leaves are heart shaped and the hibiscus-looking flower is beautiful and adds color to the gardens and yard.
Okra facts and trivia
v Okra is popular in Africa, the Middle East, Greece, Turkey, India, the Caribbean, South America and the Southern U.S. It is not a common vegetable in most European countries. Greece and parts of Turkey are the exception.
v Okra can be served raw, in salads or cooked on its own. It goes well with tomatoes, onions, corn, peppers, and eggplant. Its mild flavor is said to taste like a cross between eggplant and asparagus.
v When buying fresh okra, look for young pods free of bruises, tender but not soft, and no more than 4 inches long. The older and longer the pod is the better chance it will be tough and stringy.
v Okra should snap easily in half. The best varieties are a rich green color.
v Okra does not store well so use it within two to three days.
v Do not wash the Okra until ready to use, or it will become slimy. When preparing the vegetable remember that the more it is cut, the slimier it will become.
v Okra releases a sticky substance when it’s that has thickening properties. In Louisiana, the slaves taught the Créoles to use okra (gumbo) to thicken soups and to this day it is an essential ingredient in Créole Gumbo.
v Okra grows in varying shades of green and can be smooth or have a ribbed surface. There is also a new variety that is red.
v In warmer climates the okra plant can grow up to six-foot tall.The Okra seeds can be toasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute.
v Mature okra is used to make rope and paper. It dries well and pods can be used for many craft projects.v Aluminum pots will discolor Okra.
v Okra is a good source of vitamin C and A, B complex vitamins, iron and calcium. It is low in calories and a good source of dietary fiber. It is also fat-free.

9/9/09

The jacket. . . .

I've been attempting to take a real interest in getting rid of things...including this jacket which only has one hour left on EBay. I think it is soooo cool. Although I tend to push the limits of what is appropriate for someone my age, I wouldn't feel comfortable in this. Hope to see some young lady - or, more confident than I am, old broad - tearing down the road, on a Harley, wearing this wonderful bright jacket.

I'll have more vintage clothes, old ephemera, beaded items and who knows what next. I have tons of old hats and these things MUSTGO. Look me up on Ebay. Seller ID: treazyours......
This particular jacket is Item #200379796763.

9/7/09

My helper. . . .




Wherever there is a box, this cat likes to try it out. I had several boxes of old letters and mail opened in the barn and Mouser climbed in. Shortly after this photo, he had to try the other box which was only half on the counter....he and all the letters went flying to the floor.


I've started my destashing by listing a few items on EBAY. Although I listed the old gas stove in the apartment, I am about ready to remove it and keep it. All the burners work; however, one doesn't seem to be