Monday, May 22, 2017

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

It's been a while since I've done a GKM post, as I'm trying not to have a GKM post AND a Soapy Friday post in the same week. Still, I can't make any promises... :-)

Hubs and I just came back to work from a week "staycation," which was originally supposed to be a trip back to O-town, but plans got changed so we hung around the house/area instead. It was nice because we didn't have any big projects going on and we actually got to rest and enjoy ourselves.

It's always hard to get back into the groove. Miss Thang didn't miss a beat; however, and was beside my desk at 4 p.m. begging for dinner.

She does this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Such a cutie...

Friday, May 12, 2017

Soapy Friday - Bubblescoop Sundaes

I've been working on making "Bubblescoop Sundaes," which are a bath bomb and bubble bar combo that look like ice cream sundaes. Aren't they AH-DORABLE?...

They really are big, and heavy. In fact, I need to make them smaller so they will fit inside their "sundae cups" without denting the tops.

Definitely a bath time treat that have taken me a while to get right. These particular sundaes are made with a tropical-fruity-type fragrance oil, which have more of a peachy scent. The "chocolate sauce" is peach-scented melt-and-pour soap. Fun, huh?

I'm not sure if they will become part of my repertoire, as I'm trying to figure out who my audience/customer focus will be, but they would be something fun to offer to kids.

I made another batch of my Honey soap, which I am still tweaking. I've decided that LOVE the fragrance mixture I've come up with so much I wanted to make some hand and body lotion to go with the soap. SO NICE! The lotion is made with aloe vera butter, avocado oil, and vitamin-e oil...super silky.

I did a 20% water discount in this batch of soap as well as adding a little pink Himalayan sea salt to the lye water to help give me a harder, quicker-curing bar. If that doesn't work, then I will start playing with the oil percentages in the recipe to see if that helps.

An old stand-by trick in the soaping world is to use bubble wrap in your mold to give you that "honey comb" look. When I take the soap out and cut it, it will look like the bars standing up behind the mold. Cute, huh?

Fragrance oils behaving badly...

I was playing around last week with an unknown "Cucumber Melon" FO that smelled suspiciously similar to a truck stop urinal puck. I really wanted to try again at a gold mica line in a soap, so I thought this FO would make a good sacrifice if it didn't turn out right. I normally don't like the FOs from the company I bought this from, so no biggie.

I modified the FO a bit with some peach and it actually came out quite nice in the end...AT FIRST. That is until after a few days of curing when that white creamy top started to turn beige with blotches of brown in it.

Oh well, the FO must have had some vanilla in it, which wasn't pointed out in the product description (another thing I don't like about that company). Anyway, I think this whole loaf might get shredded down and "re-batched" into something else.

The irony is the FO blend that I did actually smelled nice and the mica line was perfect!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Homemade Chicken Stock

We're having a couple of cold, rainy, spring days this week so it's the perfect time to clean out the freezer and make some chicken stock! Throughout the year, I save chicken pieces-parts in the freezer until I have enough to make a big-ol'-batch of stock for pressure canning.

My chicken stock recipe is never really the same, but the ultimate ingredient, if I can get my hands (or feet!) on them, is chicken feet! Chicken feet add an incredible, silky richness to chicken stock. They are loaded with collagen and can take your bland, watery chicken stock to another level.

I've made stock with them before, and usually you can find chicken feet at specialty markets, but I actually found these at a local grocery store! Throw in as many as you'd like (uncooked), but be sure to nip/cut off the nail tips so all that collagen-y goodness can seep into your stock while cooking.

My stock usually comprises roasted chicken pieces-parts, a cut up onion, a handful of roughly chopped celery and carrots, some garlic, bay leaves, fresh thyme and oregano, and some peppercorns. I bring to a boil and gently simmer for a couple of hours.

Afterwards, I let the stock cool, then strain out the solids and chill in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I skim off any solidified fat, bring back up to a simmer, and pressure can according to directions for my location.

It's really important to allow the stock to chill overnite and then skim off any fat, as large amounts of fat in the stock can prevent your canning jars from sealing. I learned this lesson the hard way the last time I made stock.

Anyway, I'm enjoying these cold, rainy spring days, as I know it won't be long till it's too hot to do anything in the kitchen.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

All Purpose Chili Lime Rub

My salad greens are coming in heavy in the garden, so that means diving into my all time favorite California Pizza Kitchen's Original BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad!

Man, I could eat this salad Every. Single. Day.

But, what really makes this salad special is the grilled chicken marinated with this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G All Purpose Chili Lime Chicken recipe from Carlsbad Cravings.

Photo from Carlsbad Cravings
I have used this rub recipe on chicken, pork, AND beef and it's nothing short of spectacular. It can be made and used right away, but do yourself a favor and let your meat marinate with it for at good 8 hours or even overnight. Besides being so flavorful, the lime juice and olive oil really tenderize the meat.

We like to grill a whole package of chicken breasts at a time and nosh on them over the week. They are just as tender as leftovers!

All Purpose Chili Lime Rub
Recipe Source: Carlsbad Cravings

*1 lb. meat of choice (chicken breasts, pork, beef)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (optional for heat)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoke paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp brown sugar
Lime zest from 1 lime
Fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)

*Note: I doubled this recipe to cook 1 whole package of chicken breasts (5 breasts). For faster cooking/grilling, pound chicken breasts to about 1/2 inch thick.

In a small bowl mix all of the rub ingredients. Place meat inside a gallon-sized Ziploc back and pour rub ingredients over the meat. Seal the bag, pushing out at much air as possible, and massage the bag to evenly distribute the rub over all the meat.

Place bag inside the refrigerator and allow meat to marinate up to 24 hours. After marinating, let meat come to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking/grilling. If cooking/grilling meat right away, allow meat to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Soapy Friday - Rose Clay and Charcoal Soap

Yesterday, I unmolded and cut some Rose Clay and Charcoal soap that turned out gorgeously!

In fact, this is probably the very first soap that I've made where I haven't had some sort of unexpected result or hiccup. I even planned for the fragrance oil to accelerate, but it behaved beautifully. I'm so proud! I think it looks exactly like the beautiful examples from Soapqueen, which  is where the inspiration came from.

Photo from
I tweaked their recipe to account my own "Old Faithful" recipe, as well as using a FO blend that matches my Rose Bombs. They smell OUTTA THIS WORLD!

I've found that it has taken me about 10 batches of soap (at least for me) under my wing to get my "groove on," but even still, things like additives, temperatures, and fragrance and essential oils can make soap behave badly. You just never know until you try it and keep notes on what worked and what didn't.

In the other corner, I made a batch of Orange Patchouli Castille Olive Oil soap where I was pouring the batter into the molds and realized that I had forgot to add the essential oils! ACK! What to do? Well, I then just portioned out the EO into each of the molds and stirred each cavity until incorporated and hoped for the best.

They actually turned out fine! And they smell soooooooo good! I tried to do a mica swirl, but think they would have been fine without it. Oh well, it gives them that "handmade, rustic quality". :-)

In other good news, I bought my first soap drying rack from won't be long till I fill it up with curing soap!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April in the Garden

This past month has been focused on facelifts for the yard and garden.

We FINALLY finished rescreening the back porch. I tilled in 6 wheelbarrows of compost, plus garden soil and I was able to replant all of my perennials. This area needed it though, as it was compact, hard red clay and the plants struggled. I actually have room for more plants now! These will grow up and hide the gap under the porch. Still, maybe next year we'll put in some lattice under the porch so it's not so ugly.

The winter sowing sprouts are doing marvelously. In fact, I need to get them in the ground this week. But before doing that, I needed to to deal with all those WEEDS!

It's been 3 years since we mulched around the beds and the old mulch had pretty much decomposed into the mud. This makes a perfect hangout for seasonal weeds, which take up too much of my valuable time to deal with, so new mulch is being laid as we speak.

This pile doesn't look like much from up here, but it's about 5 ft. tall. Many, many, many wheelbarrows to go...

The first iris of the season. I call this tiny thing my "Cemetery Iris" as I rescued it from the trash bin of a nearby cemetery a couple of years ago. It's only 6"-8" tall and blooms one or two flowers a year...still it's pretty in it's tiny way.

I bought many spring blooming bulbs from Breck's last year and have been really impressed with their quality. Here is a pot of red tulips in the front yard. One can never have too many bulbs...

Lastly, hubby and I spotted the most magnificent double rainbow a couple of weeks ago while driving. It was probably the brightest, most colorful rainbow I've ever seen. Happy spring!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Soapy Friday

I've still been in my basement experimenting with recipes and techniques. Yesterday, I made an amazing soap using a mantra swirl technique and used Anjou Pear and Lime fragrance oils (FOs). It smelled AMAZEBALLS!

I think I have settled on a bath bomb recipe. These are Rose Bombs that are scented with 50% "Rosehip and Jasmine" FO and 50% "Honey I Washed The Kids" FO, and this might very well be my most favorite fragrance combo I've done to date. They are topped with dried, organic rose petals...heaven!

I tried my first hanger swirl technique using some "Karma" essential oil and FO blend. I luuuuve the scent, but my technique needs work as well as learning what temperatures work better for doing swirls. It's topped with a gold mica swirl and black sea salt, and the black parts are colored with activated charcoal. The batter in this batch was a little too firm to do a nice swirl. Still it's interesting and smells wonderful...

Interesting thing when I cut the Pear and Lime soap, I found that I had a partial gel (rats!). I am trying to achieve gel using a heating pad, but I still need to find what works and for how long. I might try this "How to fix a partial gel" technique and see what happens. Still, I might leave it this way, as the different colored swirls are kinda interesting...

Pretty soap, and it's topped with a little bit of white silver mica for some shimmer.

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