Thursday, October 30, 2014

Printing Monograms on Burlap

I'm so amazed at how easy this was, and how well it turned out.  It's not a pillow yet - but at the moment I'm too busy trying to see how many things I can print on burlap to settle down and sew the pillow together.  :-)

After my little living room rearrangement, I have been looking for an accent pillow, but haven't found anything I loved.

Then I saw something like this on groupon.  I think it was groupon - I am not even sure.  But it was something like this:
Wouldn't that make a great accent pillow?


So I googled how I'd monogram burlap, expecting ideas involving stencils and paint.

No.  Even better.  I found where someone had simply attached burlap to card stock using spray adhesive, and ran it through their printer.  Their PRINTER!!

Could it really be that simple?

Before the burlap craze hit, I found burlap coffee bags at Surplus City in Williamsport (my favorite store.  Ever.) for 25 cents each  I bought a few of them having no idea what I'd do with them, but loving them.  I was glad I had them when we were using our garage for the wedding rehearsal dinner here at the house.. I used them for curtains, to cover garage windows that were broken.  Burlap bags and drop cloths saved the day on that last minute change of plans...
Anyway, I cut a piece from one of them today, and then since I didn't have spray adhesive, I coated the card stock in glue from a glue stick, then used a cold iron to press it tight. 
Then I remembered that I am sort of graphically challenged.  I had no idea how I would come up with the monogram I had in my head...  so once again google to the rescue, and I found this tutorial:
http://www.pitterandglink.com/2014/05/diy-personalized-wedding-gift-using.html   She walks you through it step by step in Pic Monkey.  So simple that even I could do this.  :-)

Instead of creating thin black rectangles, I just used the option to add a black border (color one) when I made the rectangle across the monogram letter.


Choosing fonts took me a long time.  I finally settled on:
Backspace for the Initial
De Walpergen Pica for our name
EcuyuerDAX for the Est.


Next I attempted to place my card stock topped in burlap in the printer - and it wouldn't fit.    The card stock was wider than my paper feed.  Ok, trim it down a bit more.

Under my printer settings I unchecked the box "fit to page" and I chose the 8x10, instead of 8.5 x 11.5 option.  I didn't want this to print too close to the edge.  I could have placed the graphic in a word document and resized it with larger margins that way too, then printed from there.

I hit print - and got the message "out of paper".  Uh huh, I figured, this was too good to be true... so I hit "ok" and this came spitting out of the printer.  I'm amazed!  The cardstock peeled easily off the back.


Step By Step Home Made Peppermint Soap

(This is a "How I did It" post, but to make soap, you really need to read up on it before making it yourself, and be very, very careful with the lye.  I never have a problem with it, but it can be dangerous.  My favorite book is the simple, pretty,  Soap Book by Sandy Maine)

You can make pretty white soaps with dyes swirled through, etc, but that's not really my style, and mostly exceeds my attention span.  (Most things do...)  I like rustic looking soaps.  I use herbs and essential oils mostly.  Not because I'm opposed to the fancier soap fragrance oils, but mostly because they have to be ordered online and I don't often plan ahead well enough when it's time to make soap.  Perhaps one year when I'm not knee deep in football season during soap making season.. or maybe some time I'll make soap at a different time of year.  But for now, I usually make soap in September or October.  Which means I intend to make it in September, to give it 3 months to dry before Christmas, but I rarely get to it until October.  :-)

Traditionally I'm in sync.  Soap used to be made from the lard, after fall butchering.  So this is the time of year my ancestors were most likely to be making soap too.  I've tried making soap with lard, but  I can't get past the smell. It is a very, very strong smell.   Crisco works fine.  It's a little more expensive, but I gag just thinking about heating lard to make soap.

The Oils

Soap making is a science.  You can not just substitute one thing for another.  You cannot be casual about your measurements.  You need to use the exact measurements of the exact items.  No guessing.   No substituting.  As casual as I am about cooking, I never approach soap making that way.  This is not a cheap hobby, you do not want to waste all of your ingredients by not following the instructions exactly. A postal scale works great for measuring.

This recipe is from the book by Sandy Maine,  Soap Book.  I highly recommend it.  It's a little book, and other than the scents and additives, it's mostly the same recipe over and over, but the instructions at the front are what you should read and understand before making soap.  She explains all the whys, as well as the hows, of soap making, in simple, easy, terms, with photos.  

So for this recipe, I'm using these oils:
24 ounces Coconut Oil
38 ounces Crisco (MUST be 100% vegetable oil)
24 Olive Oil (Be sure it is 100% olive oil!)

All of these can now be found at Sam's club.  SO much easier than when I first started making soap!  I bought this olive oil at Wengers, because I was there when I thought of making soap, but I've bought olive oil at Sams' and the prices are comparable.

Cost Breakdown:
Crisco $7.98 for 96 ounces
Coconut Oil $15.98 for 56 ounces
Olive Oil $13.98 for 3 liters, roughly 101 ounces

Although I'm specific in my measurements of the oils, I'm going with loose math for the costs, knowing the prices change regularly anyway.  This is just a rough idea - 
Half a bottle of Coconut Oil $8
Half a can of Crisco $4 (it's not really half, like I said, rough idea here)
1/4 of a bottle of olive oil  $3.50
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Roughly $16 in oils

Some of the other oils I use in soap making are even more costly.  I often use palm oil & shea butter, in different recipes.

The Lye
Do not mess around with lye.  It will burn you severely.  This is not something to work with with small children around.  Notice that I use all pyrex when making soap - it handles the heat very well.  When you add lye to water it heats up VERY fast, and to a very dangerous temperature.  My pyrex bowls have always handled that well.  You cannot use aluminum when making soap - it will mess it up.  Plastic spoons are best, although I've always used wooden or bamboo.

Where to buy Lye:
        Brushy Mountain Bee   - located in New Columbia PA, you can go to the warehouse and buy it if you are local.  Or you can order it, and other soap making supplies, and have them shipped.  

         Lowes or Home Depot - Look in the drain cleaner aisle.  Just be VERY, VERY sure it is 100% lye, and not just a drain cleaner.  I bought a roebic brand there a couple of years back, if you look at the back of the bottle it should say "100% sodium hydroxide".

Cost:
                                                          $9.95 for 4lbs (64 ounces)
                                                              Roughly $2 for this batch of soap

Notes on the Water:
       Hard water does not make good soap.  If your water is hard, it's worth it to buy a bottle of spring water.

Mix The Lye & Water


I put some ice water in my sink, set the bowl of carefully weighed water in the sink, then carefully, very carefully, add the lye to the water.  Stir.  Make sure the water in the bowl was very cold - do not use hot water for this.  Then I let this sit in the sink, stirring occasionally, while I mix the oils.

Mixing the Oils
I thought I would dry melting the oils in the microwave, but I didn't have a bowl large enough - so on the stove it is.  :-)  Heat the oils just enough to melt them all and mix them all thoroughly.  

Then I remove the lye water from the ice water in my sink, add more ice, and place this pan in.

The goal is now to get both the lye and the oils to the same temp, between 95 and 100 degrees.  Use precise thermometer.

Making Soap

Once the oils and the lye are the same temp, mix them together.  Then use a stick blender (you can make soap without a stick blender, but it takes a LOT of stirring..  a stick blender will do the same work in a much more reasonable amount of time)

Once the soap reaches "trace", add your scents and colors.  Trace is, essentially, when you can pull the stick blender out, move it back and forth over the top so that the mixture on the blender drops down and it lays on top of the mixture in lines rather than dropping in and disappearing. There should be a "trace" when the liquid from the stick blender fell.

I put the peppermint leaves in my ninja and pulverized them, before I started mixing oils and lye.  This mixture, and a 2 ounce bottle of peppermint essential oil, went in once the soap hit trace.  I used half the amount of essential oil the recipe called for.  

Cost:
Dried Peppermint (On hand, I don't know what it would cost now)
Peppermint Essential Oil $6.50

In The Mold
I'm fortunate to have a variety of nice wooden molds made by my husband and my mom.  You can use rubbermaid containers though - these aren't necessary.  But they are nice.  The ends screw off of these, so the soap can be removed easily.  Sometimes I line them with wet muslin, sometimes I just coat them in crisco.  This time I used crisco.

This is the color when I poured it into the mold
A few hours later, you can get a better idea of the final color, around the edges of the mold here.  It usually gets really dark a few hours after it's in the mold, then it starts to lighten as it dries.

Always let soap in the mold 24 hours.  Longer is ok.  I left this one in about 36 hours.  The white here is from the crisco I lined the mold with - it wipes right off.  (This is after I unscrewed the ends from the mold)

I huge bar of soap, ready to be cut.


When I cut soap, any of the rough edges that I cut off, I roll into balls, like on the far left here.

This will sit for weeks - preferably 3 months, but in this case, until a few weeks before christmas, when I label it and wrap it for gifts.  You could use it right now, but it's soft and the bars would disintegrate fast.  Letting it sit will allow it to fully harden, so that the bars last.

Final Rough Cost:
$6.50 Essential Oil
$2 Lye
$16 Oils
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$24.50 for this batch of soap

That's not including the basic items that you'll need to get started - like a postal scale, a good thermometer, molds, etc..  but once you have those items, that's a good rough idea of the costs for making it right now.  A lot depends on the additives you use - those essential oils and fragrances are a big part of the cost of soap making.

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Soap Making Resources:
My very first post about making soap for the very first time, about 10 years ago
(I miss those soap shelves, Dan is making me some shelves for this house now)



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Moving the chairs 6 inches is not rearranging the furniture. :-)

Before:
(There was a clock on this wall, I took it down then thought to snap some before pics before I took anything else off the walls)
When I mentioned that I was frustrated with how dark and blah our living room felt, my boys all rolled their eyes, expecting to have to move furniture once again.  But really, this furniture only fits in here one way.  I told them they were off the hook - and hurriedly took some pics that night before I got started.  So the pics are really dark, and sort of blurry, making the before and after all the more dramatic.  :-) 
After:
 
The bench is new. I found it for $15 at the thrift store.  It opens up, and will make a great toy box.  (I keep a box of toys behind the couch for when friends kids are over).  I did NOT have to move the couch to fit the bench in there.  Not even an inch.  :-)
The shelf on the brick wall is from AC Moore.  I paid $1.99 for a walnut gel stain there, in the craft paint aisle.  I used a 50% off coupon on the shelf, making it $9.  $11 with the stain.  It dried so fast - staining it was a less than 30 minute project.
The pillows on the couch are from TJ Maxx.
The only furniture I moved were stands, and the chairs.  I moved the pink chairs about 6 inches each.  :-)
Before
Moving these chairs just 6 inches - in closer to the tv, made such a huge difference in the feel of the room.  Such a little thing....
After:
I added the rug, and moved the stands around too.. little things.  Such little things.
On the stand to the left is the Taufshein for my 5th great grandmother, that I printed this week. The swag over the star is sweet annie that I dried in a glycerin mixture earlier this month.  I like it so much better than the berry swag that was on here before - see below - 
Before:
See Finn in the middle of the couch here?
After:
Finn still there, I just moved his favorite blanket over for him.  :-)
The clock on the wall here was on the brick wall before.  
Before:
Here I added some electric  candles - amusingly, they came with a remote!  
(Sam's club  - $24 for 7 of them)
After:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Taufshein, printed & framed

If you are looking for Bender Genealogy, see my genealogy blog here:


I LOVE old German Taufshein's.  Or any old german certificate.  I search through them in every musuem, praying to find one that relates to our lines. I came across this one a few years back - not the original, just a photo on an ancestry.com tree, and later in a book by Nelson Sulouff.  



So my plan, to have a copy here in my house, was to print it out, trace it, and hand paint it to replicate it.

And then this week I came to my senses.  I have little to no artistic talent, even less patience, and I own a color printer.


Yes I could have uploaded this and had it printed at Sam's club, but this cheap yellow drawing paper (one of those artists tablets you can find at the dollar store, for small children) was rather perfect.  It was too large, I cut it down to 8x10 to run through my printer.




The first time I printed this, I printed just the photo. Then I went back and added the english translation, with a title explaining that this is the Taufshein for my 5th great grandmother, Anna Nancy Bender.

This is one of those 15 minute projects that just makes me really happy.  :-)




Thursday, October 16, 2014

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients:
6 apples, peeled & cored
Two Pie Crusts
a stick and a half, roughly, of  Butter 
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1.5 t cinnamon
1 t Nutmeg
4 Cups Water
2.5 Cups White Sugar
2 t Vanilla Extract

My favorite pie crust recipe is this one from Martha Stewart - made in a food processor.  

My second favorite is this one.  Second choice won out this week.  :-)
(side note - the berry pie recipe on this box is my favorite pie recipe of all time)
Roll the dough out.  Shown here is one pie crust, rolled thin.Pplace each apple on a square of dough.  Cut butter into chunks - roughly 1T per an apple.
 Stick butter inside the apple, sprinkle with brown sugar - inside and out.
Wrap the dough around the apple.
When I wrap each apple, I used the second pie crust, cut, to "top" the apples.

Place in pan.

 Make The Sauce:
Boil water, sugar, vanilla, and 3T of butter in a saucepan.  
Boil for 5 minutes, making sure all sugar is dissolved. 
(The sauce will NOT thicken much at all)
Pour Over Apples.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 50-60 minutes

I used a turkey baster to pull the sauce from the bottom of the pan and drench over the top of the dumplings.

Do not let them sit in the excess liquid too long, or they will spread out and get mushy..  although they are still great to eat, they won't look as pretty.  Once they have cooled a bit, put them in another pan or container.  (This was a mute point here, they were all eaten quickly, served with ice cream)

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There are a lot of opinions, and charts, for which apples are best for what.  I buy our apples from a local farmer (catch him on Saturday mornings in the parking lot by the river bridge in Watsontown.  Get there early if you want apple cider, he sells out fast!) & I just tell him what I want them for and he tells me what he thinks will be best that week.  If you don't have that luxury, here is a basic chart that may help: