Monday, December 19, 2011

Cold Process Soap!

This past summer I got interested in Cold Process Soap Making. It's really fun, especially since it allows you to minimize the amount of waste on animals that are killed/hunted. Pretty much my whole family deer hunts, so there's no point in wasting all that beautiful tallow. Same for using pork lard or beef tallow. Throw in some olive and coconut oil, a bit of lye and viola! Soap. :)

My prettiest experiments so far are as follows. Cedar soap (Hint of the Woods) because where we hunt in Oklahoma is full of cedar trees. It uses beef tallow, cedar essential oil and parsley to color it. Instead of using all that hunters soap that blocks your scent, my dad and brother use the cedar soap and just smell like a tree. It works better for them than the expensive stuff anyway. Next is Java Scrub (coffee soap). It's made with brewed coffee in it instead of water, and has coffee grounds for exfoliating purposes. Contains lard, olive oil and coconut oil. That's the pretty name for it, the real use is when my dad and brother (both like to play mechanic) come in full of grease and other grime, the coffee gets rid of the smell and the grounds scrub out the grime in their hands.

Next is Thin Mint, made with lard. I packaged it in cellophane after it cured because it has a very strong peppermint smell. Maybe I was a bit heavy handed on the essential oil there...I put half the batch colored with cocoa powder and swirled that with the regular color. My dad thinks it makes him smell like a thin mint, hence the name.

The final one is Home for the Holidays, with deer tallow, lard, coconut oil and olive oil. It's got pumpkin pie spice in the brown top of the soap. My mom got me a round cake pan and some cake decorating stuff for my birthday last week, so I played with it here. I like the smell of this one, but it's not completely cured yet. I cut holes in the bags I put them in so they can have room to cure still. 

All the scents/colors I use are 100% natural, due to asthma and allergies in my family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dehydrated Apples and Mixed Veggies

So we had some Red Delicious and Jonathan apples that were going kind of bad...solution? Dehydrate them! We have a lot of dehydrated slices already, so as these were softening I decided to make them into a powder for apple cinnamon oatmeal and the like. After tasting them in oatmeal, I have come to the conclusion that their flavor is not overly concentrated for something like that. You need a lot of apple to taste it in oatmeal.

Wash the apples, grab a knife, cutting board and one of those Pampered Chef choppy things (optional, I like it because it's my mom's and it's fun to play with).

Remove the cores, chop up into pieces small enough to go under the choppy thing. Chop up with that, dump in a pot and add enough water to cover.

Cook uncovered on medium heat until they're softened and most of the water is gone. Spread it on your jelly roll and stick it in the dehydrator until it's brittle.

Above is it wet, below is it dried and broken up to go in the food processor.

Powder it up, stick it in a jar (it's on the right side).

On the left is dried mixed veggies, previously frozen. They were $0.98 for a 1 pound bag at WalMart, so we got a few bags to do. When you rehydrate them for soup or something, they hold their shape and stay more firm than just using frozen or canned veggies in soup. These are really easy to do.

Open the bag. Dump contents on the dehydrator tray. Stick it in the machiene. Wash the bag. Cut it up for use in plarn (plastic yarn). Dry the veggies until they are brittle, stick them in a jar. Fill up a pint jar, and that's about the right amount for a large beef/veggie soup.

Shared with TALU.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making Plarn/Plastic Yarn

(still working out taking pictures, kind of bad with cameras some days...)

About a year and a half or two years ago, I came across this stuff called plarn online. Basically, it's the use of plastic shopping bags to make yarn to crochet or knit with. I've seen a bit of knitted plarn, and haven't really liked the look of it. Being a novice at knitting, I haven't given it a shot yet. Having crocheted since about the third or fourth grade, I felt much better about playing with plarn in crocheting. Since I first learned about it, I've come a long way in my crocheting with it. This is my attempt at how to make a ball of plarn from bags.

First off, get clean bags. If they're dirty, either wash or throw them away and find some clean ones. Lay the first victim out flat on your work surface.

Next, fold it in half.

And again.

And one last time.

Now take your cutting utensil of choice and remove the bottom of the folded bag. This is the section seamed together. Just cut off as much as needed, no need to waste any, unless you do like me and cut too much off. 

Continue to cut up the bag into about one inch pieces. If they're a bit bigger, it's ok, same for being on the small side. Dispose of the handle at the top.

I used a rotary cutter today since I was sitting at the dining table and had room for the mat and wanted a change up from scissors. But my usual weapon is the scissors. I use a pair of those titanium blade ones the late craft center at WalMart had. The better your blades, the easier time you will have.This is with the scissors. Same process.

Right now I'm making a big batch of varigated colors all with white background. This is what I had cut up for colors so far this morning. The box of white next to it is going into balls of white yarn and came from the un-inked sections of bags cut for varigated.

To put your yarn together, take 2 pieces of bag. Pull them open and place bag A (strip farther to the right) over top of one half of bag B (strip on left).

Pull the right tip of bag A up through the right tip of bag B.

Pull them together firmly to make a small knot. Don't pull too hard or else it will begin to tear the bags. However, the smaller the knot you have the less it will show up in your stitches.

Ball it up, bind with a rubber band and cut up some more!

I don't just use grocery/shopping bags. I go for pretty much any kind of plastic bag that comes through my house that I can repurpose to keep it from going in the trash. These bags here are all from bread, toilet paper in big packs, carrots and the like. They are a bit harder to crochet with, but I like the look of them as well.

When crocheted, they come out looking like this: