Friday 24 July 2015

Making Soap From Scratch

The first half of this summer has just sped by and I've been very remiss in getting blog posts up. The good news is, I've been learning some great, new stuff to share with you!

I had the most wonderful time taking a two-day soap making course. ~

My friend, Wendy's, husband gifted her with the course for herself and a friend for her birthday. I was the lucky friend!

I'm glad we had someone as knowledgeable as Kerry Turcotte, from Lyer Lyer Soapcraft to guide us through the process. It is chemistry and a whole lot can go wrong (really, really wrong!) we discovered. When things go wrong in soapmaking someone gets burned, something blows up or the plumbing gets destroyed. Kerry made sure none of that happened to us.

We're the kind of gals who want to know how to do everything from scratch, pioneer woman style.

The first day we rendered tallow from beef fat. That involved cleaning off any meat bits, chopping the fat into pieces and boiling it for hours and hours. ~

Watching beef boil down to separate fat is a tich on the boring side. We felt a nice bottle of wine was most helpful in whiling away the hours. We call this the Tipsy Tallow soapmaking technique.

After chilling the liquid in the fridge overnight, we had pure tallow solidified on top of the buckets. A bit of a scrape to get rid of the gunk clinging to the bottom of the tallow and we were ready to go. ~

When I feel I've done the whole thing by myself often enough to feel sure of what I'm doing, I'll do a step by step tutorial for you. Dealing with the chemical reaction of the lye heating up and mixing this hot mixture with a hand blender was, shall we say, a bit of a scary experience. Or, maybe I'm just a chicken about thermal burns.

Here's my friend, Wendy, suiting up for the scary part. Rock those goggles girl! ~

And, me carefully pouring the hot soap into the mould. ~

The really fun part comes in mixing up the dye colours and

choosing the blends of essential oils to scent the soap. ~

Voila! Twenty-four hours later, we had one batch of tallow based soap and two batches of vegan (vegetable oil based) soaps ready to cut into 72 good sized bars and curing in a drying rack for 4 - 6 weeks! ~

Oh, the scent of satsuma/mandarin/jasmine or rosemary or lemon/ylang ylang! I'm hooked on soap making now.

Give me a bit of practice time and then I'll try to get you all hooked on it too!

Wednesday 1 July 2015

It Took A Lot To Become Canada & I'm Proud Of Us!

It's Canada Day! We are celebrating everything it took to become this wonderful nation and keep it "The True North Strong And Free".

If you aren't quite sure how we became a nation, here's a brief history.

The French and English fought it out for who would claim this expanse of bountiful land. It wasn't a question of the French and English settlers  being unable to get along or even the First Nations people refusing the immigrants a place here.  It was a political, territorial fight between England and France. To make a long story short, in 1763 France relinquished her claim.

In 1867, four regions, Upper Canada, Lower Canada, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia thought it would be a great idea to form a country and call it Canada.

Canada's revolution for independence consisted of nicely asking Queen Victoria for it in 1867. She said "yes".  Yay! ~

It's a good thing she was so nice about it because she was sure going to need our help, on August 4th, 1914 when Britain declared war on Germany.

It was during WWI that Canada became a full fledged nation. We didn't even have a flag before the war, just an ensign, usually used to identify ships at sea.

Our Maple Leaf flag is only turning 50 this year.

The boys came from the forests, the fields, the towns and the fishing villages to lend a hand. They came as colonials, but by the end of the war, they were undisputed brave Canadians.

They took 'untakeable' key positions from Passchendaele to Vimy Ridge and even the Kaiser referred to them as Storm Troopers.

We came of age in a time of terrible conflict and showed the world it is much better to have us as friends than force us into a fight. As a nation, we prefer the, "Be nice to us and we'll be nice to you" attitude, but don't ever mistake us for sissies.

I've commemorated Canada Day 2015 by honouring this coming of age era.

The Victory Garden was an integral part of supporting our troops during the two, great world wars. When the government said to plough up our yards and plant potatoes, that's exactly what we did.

I love the idea of a Victory Garden and have painted and aged an old board in replica of a WWI sign as reminder of how important it is for all of us to do our part to preserve and protect our Charter Of Rights and Freedoms.

Happy Canada to us!  We earned it!