What's Working Wednesday- Gift Sets

Hi everyone! Can you believe it is already hump day? We are almost to the long weekend that symbolizes the end of Summer and the beginning of the Craft and Holiday season. Time sure flies!

I recently came across some interesting boxes with a magnetic tab closure. The boxes looked large enough for two bars of soap, so I bought a few to try. They do hold two bars quite nicely, and I have had a blast decorating the fronts. So far I have made a Whispering Willow and Whispering Willow Rain box set, an Autumn Apples and Pumpkin Lager box set, and a Baby set that contains a lavender sachet, a bar of goat milk soap, a soap deck and a tin of Baby Bum and Body Balm. I have two other boxes with floral decorations that are just awaiting soap. I will be taking these to the Wine Festival (in Summersville, WV) in a couple of weeks. If they go well I will be making some more.

The curing rack is now holding some recently made soaps in preparation for the Wine festival, the Herb festival, and the opening of the Christmas Cabin. Pretty soon Chardonnay, Cabernet Vineyard, Currant Tea, Jasmine Nights Tea, Sea Spray, Clover Fields with Aloe, and Wild Berries and Herbs will be joining the sales racks! Additionally, I have some lovely sachets in Linen, Lavender Kissed Linen,  Sugared Chestnuts, Daisies and Jasmine Nights Tea. I also have 30 of the 50 Diffuser Bottles filled. So far I have made Linen, Lavender and Chamomile Kissed Linen, Apple Butter, Autumn Apples, and Candy Cane. I plan on doing the rest in Gingerbread, Christmas Berries and some type of Pine or wintry forest. I won't really know what it is until I finish creating it! Lol

Well I have tried to add photographs of the items listed here and for some reason blogger isn't cooperating today. I will keep trying though, so check back. If I can't get them added, then I will put them into a slide show for tomorrow's post.
For now though, I need to get back to work. I am making Christmas Bulb earrings and have about six pairs left to get finished. So as I sit sweating, I am thinking about snow and hoho!

Try an Herb Tuesday- Skullcap

Skullcap, botanically known as Scutellaria lateriflora, is known as a "calming" herb, one that is good for any stressful situation, but especially for those that are grief related. Historically, Skullcap has been used to calm the mind, to stop the cycle of circular thoughts, and to ease emotional stress and tension, especially when dealing with the pain of break ups or loss. It encourages mental clarity and brings a renewed focus to thoughts, as well as actions.  

It is usually made into a tincture or a tea, and has a somewhat bitter taste. Skullcap is known to stimulate digestion, and even to trigger feelings of hunger. Since the gastro-intestinal tract tends to become sluggish when we are stressed, the use of skullcap can help to return our system to health. It is said to relax tight muscles and to relieve headaches. It can be used when needed, or it can be taken daily, as a preventative treatment. When taken daily, it not only restores the body and the mind, but it works as a strengthener to prepare the body to better respond to future stresses. This herb is one that was likely in every medicine cabinet, and would do well in yours! 

Make it Yourself Monday- Holiday Decorations

Yes the air-conditioner may still be in use, but VERY soon, long before you think it should happen, well before you know it, the holiday season will be here. So now is the time to begin preparing, the time for making decorations, and the time to begin making your gifts. think about it, the more that you accomplish now, the less stressed and the more enjoyable your holidays will be! So today's Make it Yourself project is a very easy, yet very cute decoration. This one is so cute. Make several, some to keep for decorations and some to give as gifts!

You will need-
(plastic) ice cubes
paint (black, orange)
artificial snow
*optional components; remnant material for scarf, felt for hat, iridescent and/or textured snow, pipe cleaner, pom poms, and wood or cardboard for a base.

Glue three ice cubes together, either in graduating sizes or if they are all the same size, as mine are, just off-set them a bit for added interest. Leave sit until the glue is completely dry. Once dry, paint a face on your snowman and decorate with a hat and/or scarf. I like to glue some snowmen to wood or cardboard bases. Just paint the wood or cardboard and then cover it in the type of snow that you paint on. I prefer the type that is textured, as it looks more real, but the iridescent kind (that comes in a tube, similar to icing gel) is also pretty neat. These are so quick and easy to make you can easily do some of each! Just let your imagination take you to a winter wonderland, and have fun!

To make ear muffs, cut a portion of pipe cleaner and glue small pom poms to each end. Bend over the top ice cube and glue in place. To make a hat (you can buy these already made in your local craft store), cut red felt, fold in cone shape and glue edges in place. Cut a strip of white and glue to bottom edge, then glue a small pom pom to the pointed end. Once dry, glue hat to corner of top ice cube.
Due to a medical emergency in the family I have been unable to post for several days and will continue to be unable to post for the next few. I am currently sitting in the hospital and do not have access to my notes or books and do not really have the time to create a post. My sincere apologies and I will resume writing as soon as I am home. I hope you will continue to follow me when I get back, thank you for your patience!

What's Happening Wednesday- Prize Basket & Soap

Tammy Houchen will soon be receiving her goodie basket prize for naming the #77 soap, Morning Dew. Here is a picture of her prize basket. Thanks again Tammy, and congratulations! I hope you enjoy your gifts!

This has been a very busy few days, as I am preparing for the Art Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio this coming weekend, while also trying to get seasonal soaps and  crafts made for the upcoming Wine Festival, as well as the Herb Festival and the opening of the Christmas at the Cabin.

I made some whipped shea butter yesterday and today. So far I have Lavender, Lavender and Ylang Ylang, Sea Spray, Sugared Chestnuts, and Embrace. Since the printer is out of ink, I have labels to make still, but at least they are in their jars!

I am making at least one batch of soap a day now, and sometimes two or three since I am working on wine soaps, seasonal fragrances, and trying to replace  some popular ones that I am out of , or almost out of.

 I love the way this batch of Embrace turned out. It has such a pretty turquoise color in it. The pictures don't do it justice, so you will just have to trust that it is quite lovely!

More soapong pictires tomorrow!

Make it Yourself Monday-Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Here is an inexpensive, easy and fun craft project that you can prepare ahead of time and have ready for your kids and their friends to use, or you can let supervise the kids as they make it on their own. This is a recipe for making your own sidewalk chalk "paint". The so called paint really does look like chalk when it dries, and if the sun is out and it is warm, then it dries pretty quickly. 

You Will Need (per each color):
1/4 Cup Cornstarch
1/4 Cup Water
Food Coloring colors of choice

Mix the cornstarch and the water together, when thoroughly mixed (make sure all lumps are worked out), add the food coloring and mix it thoroughly. Be sure to add the food coloring one drop at a time and use the minimum number of drops to achieve the color you want. Remember that food coloring, when used in excess, can stain skin, and children are notorious for painting themselves as much as anything else! As long as you use it in moderation, there is no problem with washing it off. If you have  Repeat real small ones, or don't trust yourself with the food coloring, try using some of your soaping herbs for a natural colorant. They don't give quite the colors you get with the food coloring, but it's your choice.
 Anyway, repeat this process for each color that you want to make, then go on outside and paint! When you are done, cover the paint and store in the fridge for another afternoon of sidewalk painting! I am not sure how long the shelf life is on this paint, it's never sat around long enough to test!  But since it does have water in it, we know that it will grow nasties at one point or another. I recommend keeping it refrigerated and only making what you will use in a week or two. You may however, find that it stores longer, but I error on the side of caution, especially where children are involved. Be sure to shake or stir the paint well prior to use, and make sure to keep it stirred while you are using it, because the cornstarch will settle to the bottom of your container. 
If you want to make it easier to use several colors, try putting them in a multi-compartment something. Try a soap mold, a muffin tin, a brownie pan, or even an ice cube tray would work, although you may need two or three sections for each color. Use your imagination as you look through your kitchen cabinets!  


Tripod Thursday-Northern Ohio Country-Side

The winning name for soap #77 is Morning Dew. It was a very close race, but this name is in keeping with the unique freshness of the scent and it is in the garden every day! So my Thanks and Congratulations go to Tammy Houchen, as well as a bar of Morning Dew and a surprise or two!

Now for today's Tripod Thursday subject. This past weekend we took the rv up North to visit some of my Mom's friends. It is absolutely beautiful country and we had a wonderful time, so I wanted to share it with you! The first picture is of Kiki just before we left. I was looking all over for her and finally saw her sitting in the middle of a  grapevine wreath, on top of a stack of totes and boxes. She must love the spot, because that is also where I found her when we got home!


The Name That Soap contest is now closed. In no particular order, the top contenders are;
1)Spring Renewal/Renew/Renewal
2)Morning Dew /Dew Drop
3)Summer Rain

Remember, this soap has a grapefruit, lavender, and eucalyptus scent, and is colored with Nettle, French Green Clay, and Spirulina.

Please let me know what you think by casting a vote for the number you like best! If you have a preference for an alternative that is listed by that number, by all means, feel free to let me know that too!  The Winner will be posted tomorrow!

Teaching Tuesday- Calamus Root

Calamus Root, also called Acorus calamus, Sweet Flag, Cinnamon Sedge, Sweet Myrtle, Acorus, and Sweet Rush is a sharp-edged perennial. It is a semi-aquatic plant that grows in marshes and on the muddy banks of streams. Although experts usually say the plant has been used in herbal medicine as long as 4,000 years ago, the first mention of the plant as a medicine is in the Divine Husbandman's Classic of the Materia Medica, a Chinese medical text that dates  to about 2837 BC. The traditional use of the calamus was to "open the orifices"  to allow the inner spirit to reach out to the world. Chinese physicians (of old) reported that calamus "vaporized phlegm," but the word they used refers to not just physical phlegm, but to the "residues" of difficult emotions. Calamus was also used to treat winter-time joint pain, wounds, and sores.

In the United States and Canada, calamus was used to make calamine lotion, which was used to relieve skin inflammation, mostly from poision ivy, oak and summac. It was considered a sacred incense by the Sumerians and the Egyptians, and was planted by Native Americans along their migratory paths so that it could be harvested at later times, where it was commonly used as an antiseptic, mostly for headaches and toothaches. Oddly enough, it was also used as an attractant for muskrats, who voraciously ate the root, and often collected it and stored it in their nests for future meals. Native Americans would plant it on the edge of  their villages so that they could trap the muskrats as they came for the root.

The rhizome is dried and either chopped or ground, where it is typically and traditionally used to make a tea. Varieties of calamus that are traded in the United States (and all the varieties of calamus permitted for import by Health Canada) are most effective when used externally. Theses varieties are best used as bath additives, gargles, lotions, or washes, unless they are combined with other herbs from Chinese or Ayurvedic medicine.  As a bath additive, calamus helps with circulation and joint pain, used as a gargle, calamus relieves sore throat. In the United States and Canada, calamus has been used for many years to make calamine lotion, and to relieve skin inflammations of all types.

 Although we may best know calamus root because of calamine lotion, if you look at Walt Whitmans famous work, Leaves of Grass, he wrote 39 poems that referred to Calamus!  Even today, Ayurvedic medicine uses it as a rejuvenator of the brain and nervous system, as well as a remedy for digestive disorders. In modern Chinese medicine, calamus is used with platycodon to treat laryngitis, turmeric to treat deafness, magnolia to treat any kind of chest congestion, and is mixed with lychii fruit and chrysanthemum flowers to make a tea that is sold for use as an eyewash. It is, however, rarely found as a capsule or extract.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the USA) strictly prohibits the use of calamus in food products. They have regulated this herb for external use only. Its internal use as a medicinal herbal product should only be administered by someone with experience in using this botanical. Although global cultures have, for a great many centuries, associated the consumption of calamus with a long life and good health, the American government prohibits its use in that manner. 

Make it Yourself Monday-After Sun Spritzer

4 oz. Aloe Vera Juice (Water) *can be made from aloe powder
2 oz. Witch Hazel
1 oz. Distilled Water
30 drops German Blue Chamomile Essential Oil
15 drops Lavender Essential Oil
15 drops [Egyptian] Geranium Essential Oil
Preservative of Choice (use according to manufacturers directions)
*baking soda

Add all the ingredients together, mix well, then pour into a bottle with a spray top. While not necessary, storing this product in the refrigerator will extend the shelf life AND add to the cooling relief it offers.
Need more relief? You can mix some of the above with baking soda and apply a thin layer to a sun burn. This makes a wonderful cooling and soothing paste, much like a (facial) mud mask.

Tripod Thursday- Flowers are Good for the Soul!

Whether planted by Man or by Nature, in a yard or the country side, flowers and plants have much beauty to behold, and bring a joy that touches the soul.

What's Working Wednesday-Upcoming Shows

I am three weeks from the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts 11th annual Summer Arts and Crafts Fair. It is Saturday, August 18, 2012, from 10am to 4pm, at 4990 Glenway Avenue in Western Hills, a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. I will be  among 60 or so Artists displaying mixed media products including; pottery, jewelry, water colors, photography, soaps and more! It is free to the public, so if you live in the tri-state area, I hope to see you out there!

In September, the 15 & 16th (yes that is a Saturday and a Sunday), I will be at the Kirkwood Wine Festival,  in Sommersville, West Virginia. It runs from 10am until about 8pm on Saturday, and until about 630pm Sunday. Please note that the wine tasting and sales do not begin until after 1pm on Sunday, due to the law. This is a great, family festival, down a nice country road, set on the beautiful property of the Isaiah Distillery and Kirkwood Winery. They have grape stomping for the kids, bands, step and square dancers, food and fun for all. There are also prize drawings, wine tasting, and several craft vendors available for your shopping pleasure. You will find jewelry, jams, purses, soaps, lotions and more. And don't forget to stop by my booth for your one of a kind wine charm, before you set your glass down! This festival would make a great road trip for anyone from WV or the surrounding states! The New River Gully Fest is also that same weekend. Camping spots and hotel rooms fill up fast, so make sure you book your spot in August, or plan on driving home or to another town for the night.

October 12,13,and 14, I am planning on being at the Wheatridge Old Tyme Herb Festival and Harvest Celebration. It is at the Grindstone Farm, 817 Taterridge Road, in Adams County, Ohio. This will be my first year there, but I am told it is a great time for all! This festival specializes in all things herbal. There will be lavender growers, herbal remedies, butters, jams and jellies, you name it! Of course there will also be the usual festival Artisans too, such as metal art, wood crafters, toy makers, basket weavers, photographers and much more. With over 150 Artisan booths, I am sure you will find something that makes you smile!

So plan for an interesting and fun-filled family weekend, and come out to one or more of these shows!