Thursday, December 31, 2015

Cathedral Stars progress [Quilting]

The Band's donation quilt, Bonnie's Cathedral Stars, is well ahead of deadline DESPITE taking a 20 minute 'power nap' today that somehow increased 6-fold!!!  :D

A 7" overall feather pantograph was used (my definite go-to pattern), with each 7" pass taking about 15 minutes.  I started at 8 in the morning, taking small breaks here-n-there to stoke the fire, make lunch, and finish up a batch of hot-process soap.  

Murphy's Law hasn't struck in quite some time around here, so the fact that I ran out of bobbin thread with SUCH a little corner of quilting left shouldn't really surprise me!!!  Thankfully, the right song was playing in my ears to help me power through the winding, threading and quilting of this last little section.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celtic Solstice - Cathedral Stars - Smith Mountain Morning

Two years in the making, working between other projects and deadlines, but .... it's finished.
Celtic Solstice - Bonnie K. Hunter 2013 mystery
110" x 110"
Quilted using my favorite 7" overall feather pantograph, and Aurifil thread; one of the lighter tan/cream ones (I don't have the number readily handy.)

Part of the push to finish this was because I needed to free up the quilting frame in order to finish up Cathedral Stars for the band raffle quilt...
Locked, loaded and well underway already!!!!  I certainly do enjoy having some extra time during this week of vacation from school.

It's probably too much of a stretch to hope I'll power through this stack of other quilts all set and prepared with backing & batting for quilting ;)

Specially when this guy stares at me everyday in the quilting room;  the border units need piecing yet.

Happy Tuesday, everyone.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Winter tomatoes & herbs

No judgement needed -- it's really never a bad time to start plants if one has an indoor mini-greenhouse and grow lights!

A couple of Polish Linguisa and Power Pops (cherry) seeds were planted today in hopes we'll have some fresh tomatoes come spring time.

A few planters of herbs were also started;  thyme and basil.  The basil seeds were harvested from our plants in the fall;  it'll be the first time I've preserved basil seeds from the flowers.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Soaping Sunday [Orchid & Amber; Ginger & Lemon tea]

The past week has fired me up for some soap making again.  The gift baskets of soaps and lotions were a hit;  there wasn't any one fragrance that won the crowd over -- although the Cherry Almond and Hazelnut soaps ended up getting sniffed a bit more than the rest.

So -- a new batch of Cherry Almond, as well as a batch of Chocolate Hazelnut, were made up yesterday, using my go-to recipe for my hot-process method.  Although, the 850g recipe is a WEE bit too large to fit my 2lb mold comfortably;  no biggy if I have an extra mold or two handy for the overflow. 

The fragrance oil used for the Choc Hazelnut is called "Mint Chocolate chip," but there didn't seem to be any mint tones.  At all.  Therefore, I dumped in the last of my Hazelnut (maybe 2 tsp), to give it a little fragrance assistance.
I used the last drop of Castor oil with those batches, literally.  I also emptied the last of my yogurt, but had ZERO interest in running to the store --- on the DAY after Christmas.  No thank you, ma'am.

Therefore, I tinkered around with the site and came up with a good standby recipe...
... and used some remaining Heavy Whipping Cream (left over from an amazingly rich hot chocolate recipe.)  Note:  I also reduced the oils to 800g and decreased the water % -- the result:  a perfect fit for my 2lb mold, and a nicely hardening bar.
Orchid & Amber milk soap

Seeing how the suds were so excessive AND the soap feeling lovingly luxurious (from the single soap ball created from scraping the sides), this may end up being my new go-to.

THEN---today, I wanted to make up another couple of batches, but... I was out of olive oil!  nearing Ol' Mother Hubbard stage.  Once again, I had zero interest in heading to the store, so....
.... playing commenced on the site once more, in addition to some research on using brewed tea as a liquid...
Ginger & Lemon tea soap

The tea cubes ended up being darker than I expected.  Two bags of Green Tea & Lemon, along with a sprig of fresh Rosemary were steeped for about 2 hours before freezing into cubes.

Once emulsified, the mixture looked a bit like melted caramels!  

I needn't be worried about this recipe as a non-sudser!  Running some cleanup water into the bowl not only gave me an idea of the bubbles it is capable of, it also gave me an excellent idea of the aroma created by the lemongrass & ginger essential oil combination.  The ginger seems to be hidden under the citrusy lemon fragrance.  Very light and 'clean'!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas 2015

Christmas feels a bit different this year;  I'm not quite able to put my finger on it though.
Each of the girls requested a book or a series of books.  Caitlyn asked for this series, which is a cyborg-style sci-fi twist on the classic fairytales that we all grew up with. 

We also gifted her a large package of floss, accompanied by a "Friendship Bracelet" making book.  She and I sat in the back of the van on the trip down to the grandparent's house making up a few simple bracelets.

Cassie was gifted a set of bluetooth speakers 

and Candace spent lots of time enjoying her simple little gyroscope wand-thingy before some of her 'big' gifts were opened...

... her biggest being an early birthday present from Grandpa and Grandma!
The girl in in love, I tell ya!

... and if she isn't, then *I* am!!!!

Hoping all of your Christmas wishes have come true this year.  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas week

The other night, the girls were all in the bathroom, brushing teeth before bed.  When they came out, they had to show me what they also were doing in the bathroom in front of the mirror....
We love our lil' monkeys, certainly.

And exciting news hit on Wednesday:  we're ending up with a white Christmas after all up here in northern Wisconsin!

 The 2015 Christmas concert had been rescheduled to Monday afternoon due to icy conditions the Monday prior.  Thankfully, I have wonderful coworkers who volunteered to cover my afternoon classes so I could relax with some Christmas music :)

Caitlyn's class

Candace's class

I was also immensely happy while watching this year's piano recital!  Ms. Tam has given Candace so much encouragement and inspiration;  Candace has been in lessons for almost a year now, and is still loving it!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Preparing some soaps & lotions

With Christmas looming, along with my assistant, Candace, I spent the day whipping up some large batches of lotion, lip balm, and packaged up a bunch of soaps for holiday gifting. 
The first batch of lipbalm was of our go-to recipe using Peppermint extract, but then Cassie requested for us to try root beer.
NOTE!  DUH!  Pay attention to "concentrate" vs. "extract".  LOL.  Needless to say, the root beer concentrate did not lead to a very successful batch.  I've set the entire collection of containers aside and will try to salvage what I can sometime in the future.  But, with over a dozen little peppermint containers, we should be set.

Then came a large batch of the whipped lotion - simply my FAVORITE homemade lotion method to date!  
Mixing up the master-batch was the easy part....

... choosing the fragrances was a TOTALLY different challenge!!!!!!
I'm certainly thankful that Candace loves being my assistant!!!  Packaging up all the soaps, lotions and balm took much of the entire day;  I'm hoping they end up being a success with family and friends :)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Where's all of our snow???

Our chickens have most DEFINITELY been enjoying this unseasonably warm weather lately!!!!!  Smarty pants here jumped up on the railing in hopes to nip up the crumb remnants of the bread that has just been tossed out.

With the warm weather, we're truly thinking of firing up the charcoal grill later!!!!!  The local grocery store has a sale on brats, too!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Player down -- AGAIN!

The family has decided to rename and reserve a 5-gallon bucket solely for Cassie's HS athletic career, seeing that she's aiming to twist or sprain her ankle during each of her sports.

She wasn't too thrilled with me having the camera in her face after she went down...

I'm hoping this one is a quick heal, because I certainly enjoy watching her out there!!!!!!