Lavender Rosemary Soap : Step by Step

I've made simple homemade soap with varied results in the past, but I finally found a recipe worthy of sharing. Follow along and make some too! Let's make a big mess together and then use the soap we made to clean it up!

Being Lavender Rosemary soap, you'll be needing lavender and rosemary, silly. I used fresh rosemary and dried lavender...but fresh lavender and dried rosemary or any combination thereof is fine. You'll also need lavender and rosemary essential oils, glycerine soap base, and one teaspoon pulverized dried rosemary.

Pluck your rosemary and lavender until you have about 3 Tablespoons (total, not each). Pour one cup of steaming hot water over the herbs and let them infuse for about 10 minutes. That's right, you're infusing! Look at you! After 10 minutes, strain out the herbs.

Now grab your glycerin soap. I used a pretty big loaf pan as a mold, so I needed a lot of glycerin soap. I think I ended up using nearly 5 cups. You don't need to make that much, whatever you have on hand, between 3 and 5 cups should be fine. Cut it up into cubes, and melt it down in a microwave or a double boiler.

While it's melting, pulverize that dried rosemary! Probably a mortar and pestle would work best, but I don't have one, so I used a wooden spoon. It didn't work very well, but it didn't really matter in the end. I sort of liked the bigger pieces.

Once your soap is liquified, pour in your infusion, pulverized rosemary, and essential oils. I don't remember how many drops I added, but my gut says it was around 30 drops of lavender, and 20 of rosemary. I say just keep dropping till it smells good.

I know this picture is blurry, but I wanted show the swirly food coloring! So pretty. You don't have to add food coloring, but my infusion was just purple enough to turn the mixture a sickly grey, so I decided to purple it up a little bit. You only need a few drops.

Stir it all up really well, and pour it into your mold. A silicon loaf pan is great because it's easy to pop out the soap when its hardened, but they tell me you can use a normal loaf pan, just spray it with non-stick spray stuff first.

Wait a few hours till it's nice and solid, and pop it out!

Cut it into bars! You can use a fancy soap cutter, or just use a knife like normal people.

Wrap those soaps up! Tissue paper or wax paper both look nice. Use washi tape for extra credit!

Are your soaps going to be presents? Get crazy with it! Make them look like expensive. After all, crafting is about the praise you get when you share your work with your friends and family, isn't it? I have a great vintage stamp set that is terrifically difficult and painstaking to use, but the results are pretty charming.

There we have it! Soaps!

Wisconsin Winter Walks

Every year, Dylan and I spend 4 days around Christmas at a lodge in Wisconsin with his family. It is a festive event, annually including fireworks, games with the cousins, nightly nacho cheese and chips time, unlimited beers, and long winter walks.

This was a banner year for winter walks. Look at that snow! Drink in the majesty!

From inside the lodge.

We brought one cup of coffee, and then fought over it.

There seems to be a foot bridge up ahead.

There it is, as promised!

I'm on it! It made many alarming creaks and cracks as we crossed it.

Dylan's snowy feet balancing precariously.

Taking in the view.

This happened on a different day, but I had to include a photo of our chestnuts - roasted over an open fire! We burned most of them, but for those willing to search, a few were truly delicious. How to do so here.

Drawing on Mugs

This Christmas for my husband's family gift lottery, I decided to get all DIY with our contribution. Armed with my beloved Pebeo Porcelaine 150 paint marker, I made four camping/nature-themed mugs, and further equipped with Alton Brown recipes, whipped up some spicy hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows to complete the package.

I was excited about homemade marshmallows, but they ended up being an awful lot of work and mess for a final product that tasted EXACTLY like store-bought. If I was to do this again, I'd make them special somehow - maybe cardamom marshmallows. Actually...that's a pretty good idea.

Pickling Some Stuff

Last night I decided that our refrigerator could no longer contain the burden of two boxes of eggs and a small bag of green beans. So naturally I stuck them in some jars with vinegar! I have yet to try them (both the beans and the eggs take 3 days till well-brined), but I've made more than my share of refrigerator pickles, and I'm pretty confident that it's hard to mess up. I've actually never had a pickled egg, which is a wrong that needs to be righted post-haste. Here you can see the items required for spicy pickled green beans: garlic, celery salt, red peppers, a sprig of rosemary because I forgot to buy dill, and most importantly, a can of beer for the pickler.

The beet pickled egg recipe came from Southernoise Gluttony and the spicy pickled green bean recipe came from Three Points Kitchen. I pretty much made these so that I could take a picture of the pretty colors.

Potpies

When my sister visited a few weeks ago, I used it as an excuse to make tiny potpies, something I've been planning to do since I got ramekins for Christmas. I used a recipe via Babooblah, although it's only fair to disclose that we lazily opted for a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. And I also further elaborated on the recipe by adding a TON of fresh thyme. Because I had it. And I can never seem to get through a bushel of herbs before it goes bad. We prettied them up using my the little 50s Christmas cookie cutters that used to belong to my grandmother. I nabbed them from my mom's house when I saw they had been re-employed as play dough cutters for my 2 year old niece. It just wasn't right.

(The one on the lower left is supposed to be a turkey. I made the star really thick because there was quite a ball of extra dough. No wasting in this house.)

Plethora of Peaches

Dylan and I have been members of a CSA for three years now, and I can't imagine a summer/fall season absent of lugging vegetable/fruit laden bags back to the apartment Saturday mornings. This year we switched to a different farm share, finding our previous one to be lacking in fruit varieties. Because folks - I'm in it for the fruit. Dylan prefers vegetables. The stranger the vegetable the more he is delighted - even though I'm inevitably the one who has to figure out just what to do with a kohlrabi or bunch of tatsoi. But me, I just love fruit. I killed a pint of blueberries in about 4 minutes yesterday - I guess I was spoiled by the vast wild blueberry fields just a short walk down the railroad tracks from my house as a kid (yes, I grew up in a Stephen King novel, sans the dead kid). DSC_0281

Anyway, this isn't about blueberries, this is about peaches! Dylan and I aren't big on sweets - I mean, we love them, but we never seem to be able to finish off an entire pie, or batch of cookies, or tray of muffins, or dish of crumble by ourselves. And though I like my fruit best raw, there's only so many peaches that all ripen at the same time a girl can eat.

I promise that I won't do recipe posts often - this isn't a food blog - but I couldn't resist sharing these two because they were so darn good, and looked pretty for the camera. So without further ado, not-too-sweet-peach-recipes! (Both of these were culled from Tastespotting, my favorite place to look for good recipes, because I tend to go on the picture alone when choosing one, and tastespotting is chock full of them.)

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GINGER PEACH JULEPS (via Dirty Gourmet, who got it from Nola)

Take two slices of peach, about 10 fresh mint leaves, and muddle with 1 or 2 (if you're not a wimp like me) ounces of bourbon. I did this with a wooden spoon - it was my first time muddling, and I quite liked it. Then fill with ice and ginger ale. That's it! It's delicious. And probably best enjoyed at a picnic due to its refreshing nature, but it was raining when we made them. Don't worry, they're still delicious when had indoors. I do think the mason jar is mandatory though.

BLUEBERRY PEACH COFFEE CAKE (Via My Kitchen Addiction, who got it from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and grease a pie dish. In a bowl mix your dry ingredients - 1 1/4 cups of flour, 3/4 cups of cornmeal, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 tsp of baking powder and of 1/2 tsp salt. In another bowl mix 1 egg, 3/4 cup of milk, and 1 cup of ricotta cheese. Add these wets to the dries and stir until just mixed. Pour into your dish and press 1 cup of peeled chopped peaches and 1 cup of blueberries into the batter. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp of raw sugar and pop into the oven. in about 30-35 minutes (or 40 if the bottom drawer thing in your oven won't close like mine so everything takes longer because heat is constantly leaking out) it's done! It tastes a lot like a corn muffin, if you're looking for something sweeter, double the sugar.