Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Let's Make Soap

I live in a toxic-to-me city (and quite certainly to everybody, but I happen to be reminded of the negative effects it has on my body every single day), and there's not much I can do about it right now, so I decided to go as green as possible inside my home.  Without becoming obsessive about it.  Which was surprisingly hard to do, once I started getting into it.

The idea of giving up commercial cleaners and their industrious feeling sudsy-ness and deliciously CLEAN scents, was one I have been putting off for a long time, but once I started getting into the whole process, I found the fascination of this going-green business and make-your-own-this-and-that experimentation more than made up for the loss.  And really, once you start reading about the benefits, it's not even a loss after all.

To start, I made my own liquid hand soap.  I Googled a bunch of recipes and they all looked pretty similar, so I ended up doing my own thing....which is pretty much the same thing as everybody else.  I grated a bar of unscented Castile soap and added it to four cups of boiling water, followed by a splash of glycerin (which was completely optional, according to the various websites I skimmed, but I'm definitely glad I used it).

(My camera was too flashy, so I turned the flash off, hoping to edit some light back into it, quite forgetting there is no program on this computer with which to edit the pictures...but at least they all match in their yellowy under-exposed fashion.)

(Note: The Electrolyte Enhanced Water was the only thing I had on hand that was not chlorinated, fluoridated and whatever other fill-in-the-blank-ated stuff is floating around in our tap water....sorry, John, I know you'll cringe.  I did, too.  Really.)

Once the soap had dissolved, I put the pot on the back of the stove for twelve hours, so it could cool and solidify a bit.  I remembered reading one online review that said a tablespoon of salt would cause the mixture to solidify before my very brown eyes, so I gave it a shot.  Didn't work.

Then the fun part, mixing essential oils and coming up with a pleasing combination.  I mixed three separate combinations and then asked myself, "Which of these do you like best?"  I love asking myself the questions, because I always get the answer I want to hear, which, in this case, was lavender and eucalyptus and peppermint.

Maybe my tacky green (but ever so warm and comfortable) sweat pants were part of my success. Then again, I can't prove it was successful, because I haven't actually used the soap yet.

As for what I can observe, the soap separates a bit, but I guess it's no big deal to give the soap pump a shake now and again.  I'll see if I can resolve the issue with batch #2.  

Next up...reusable disinfectant wipes.

And here was have an over-exposed picture of Joshua, who was happily drinking milk and munching on his QT snack during the whole soap-making process.  I love him.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Country Love

Phooey on me for forgetting the camera today.  On the other hand, it was quite foggy, especially over the rolling hills and farm fields, so they may not have looked so great.

We now live close enough to Lancaster that we can bypass all the city traffic and within 5 minutes of leaving home, we are cruisin' a country road. Every second of that drive leaves me breathless.  I'm certain I've never seen more beautiful farmland.  (<--admittedly coming from a not-so-well-traveled writer...also from someone who loves the beauty of the prairies, but considers them to be a whole different sort of category)  Perhaps I should have reworded my statement, rather than adding an entire disclaimer to explain it.

We just went to the outlets today, spending more time there than usual. I found a winter coat and jeans at the Gap outlet.  We'd usually stop at one of our favorite roadside stands, run by an Amish family.  They sell raw milk and homemade cheese, canned goods, fresh produce, flowers, and fresh cider donuts.

My craving for the fresh air and gorgeous scenery has been satisfied.  I've never loved the city, though I am fully capable of enjoying the benefits, and every once in a while, an escape to the country or a quaint small town is just what it takes for me to come back home with a renewed tolerance perspective and a thankful heart.

Ps. I am not one who particularly enjoys shopping, but I have developed an absolute obsession with Whole Foods.  They are so expensive, but I am somehow satisfied to just roam the aisles and buy a few sale items...and a jar of kimchi. Seriously...who falls in love with a grocery store?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Ramblings

The days have been filled with schooling and playing and cooking and drinking tea and eating chocolate with dear friends, and then company coming from Canada- the most delightfully last-minute, spur of the moment decision they made to detour on their way to their vacation spot- and the park, and the library, and more dinner guests (what a formal way to describe a great night with friends), and talking and dreaming.  And so the last days of summer have passed, and it is fall.

The fall makes me nostalgic.  It gets me to pondering the past, looking ahead to the future, and I'm filled with gratefulness for the memories.  I'm learning to fill each day with thanks, each moment with awe and wonder at the simple beauty found in the ordinary.  I breathe thanks with each conversation, every kiss, every laugh.  Every prayer.  But I am repeatedly 'human' and it shatters the momentum, the perfect rhythm of a fully embraced day.

I'm learning: sometimes the beauty is in real-life messes, too. A simple thought, even an obvious one...definitely not an original...but much bigger when actually applied to the living of it all.  The parts where I am human, I make mistakes, or I want to give up.

Often, the pain intensifies the joy.  Sometimes the joy is in the pain, in the mistakes, not just in the obviously good things of life....because it takes us to places beyond ourselves and outside of our comfort zone.  We can't grow or learn or trust if we are in our realm of simple goodness.  The great stuff is on the other side.