Archive for January 2012

Behold the bars


So this is my newest batch of soap. I hadn’t made any in a couple of years, and I was extremely nervous to try again, for some reason. I guess because there’s a lot of finesse involved, and finesse comes with practice. I had to relearn everything as I went along.

This soap is made from lard, coconut oil, and olive oil. I don’t use any kind of fragrances—obviously, because of my MCS—so any recipe I use will have to include oils that don’t stink to high heaven. Lard does (omg, does it ever) but the coconut mostly covers it up. Since it’s fresh it smells strongly of the ingredients, but after it cures for a month, the scent will be very mild, if present at all. So that’s good.

I think all my soaps will include coconut oil. It smells heavenly.

Oh, and I forgot to mention the oatmeal. That’s why it’s all speckled. The pictures aren’t quite capturing the color, but your browser will change it anyway.


I think I might stick with the all-vegetable soaps from now on. Vegetable oil doesn’t have that dead-cow smell that always makes me gag. Crisco is a good solid vegetable oil that’s relatively cheap and readily available. Pretty silly, huh? Crisco? Who’da thunk it.

And I guess that’s why I keep returning to this soap-making deal. It’s fascinating to me the ways I can combine common household items (drain opener, grease) to make another, superbly useful household item. It’s probably why I never got into art for art’s sake, because I can’t use it. If I decide I need art to hang somewhere, I’ll make that, but not because I have a burning desire to paint. I have a burning desire to craft useful things, like knitting needles, hats and soaps. Having MCS has been a curse in a lot of ways, but in this way it has been a blessing, because I’d never have looked for alternatives if I hadn’t been forced to, thereby opening up this whole new crafty world. I mean, I always liked to work with my hands, but it was mainly focused on woodworking, fixing things around the house, occasional sketching. I’m happy about this new chapter opening up before me.

And now I need to go plan my next batch of soap.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Decluttering frenzy!

I’ve been in a decluttering frenzy. Somehow I’ve made it out of whatever funk was keeping me from living life beyond the bare necessities (probably that stupid Christmas thing I go through the last quarter of every year), and I now find myself with tons of energy and a huge desire to improve my space. That’s what prompted the last post, this “what do I do with this crap” quandary.

I pared down and organized the contents of my kitchen first, and then I actually took the stuff to the Salvation Army. Once I broke the ice, it became easy to let things go. I tackled the books, donating a large box to the library (all mine and the kids’—can’t get the hubs to sort his books), then the kids’ clothes and toys, including the ones in the shed.

And wow. The shed. My “shed” is huge, mmkay? People mistake it for a two-story house. It actually looks bigger from the outside, but still. That’s a lot of space to hold everything we decided we don’t need but don’t know what to do with. The guy that lived here before was a hoarder, and we inherited (long story) the shed portion of the hoard. O. M. G. It was packed. I tried to clean it a little at a time because I didn’t have a pickup or money, but finally gave up. I never did get all his stuff out. Especially irksome is an inline V-6 motor that’s immovable and constantly in the way. I’ve tried selling it on Craigslist and giving it away on Freecycle, and nobody wants this stupid thing.

But I digress.

Point is, I’ve been sorting stuff in there, too, and it feels good. A big problem in the shed is storage. There’s a ton of floor space but very little shelving, so everything ends up piled here and there. I’m dying to do a whole renovation to the place, maybe make a little apartment out there with a bathroom and everything.

First I have to rid myself of all those things.

Friday, January 6, 2012
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

Unfinished business


Christmas 2010 I made this decadent body butter to give away as presents. It’s made of shea and cocoa butters, calendula-infused jojoba oil, and hemp oil. It’s not really good for overall moisture, but it’s perfect for rough patches, like elbows. Only problem was I made so much that I couldn’t give it all away. Now, over a year later, I still have ten whole pots left and no idea what to do with them. The butter seem to be perfectly good for having sat on the shelf, but I doubt it would last forever, or even till I could use the whole supply.

I thought about selling it online, but where would I do that? Could I make an Etsy shop or something similar for only ten pots? Seems like overkill. Also, I’d have to charge six bucks a pot, before shipping, just to break even. I don’t know if they’re worth that much, and I’d like to make a profit. There’s also the question of packaging. Those nifty little tins don’t take glue very well, so I’d have to buy sticker labels. Sounds like a fun project, but for ten pots? I don’t know.

Another unfinished project is the wooden knitting needles I tried to make. Well, I did make them, but they turned out looking, smelling, and feeling like crap. Walmart doesn’t carry the size I need, and the internet said it would be simple to make my own, but it’s been a lot of work and I still can’t use them. If I want to continue this project, I’ll have to start fresh with a new dowel, but it’s so much work I doubt I will. I’ll just find the needles online, I guess.

And then there’s the hat I knitted my youngest. I made it, it was wonderful, then we washed it and the stitches loosened up, which made it too big. I expect things to shrink in the wash, not stretch. We unraveled it, and the ball is waiting for those damned knitting needles to be finished. So is my son’s ball of yarn. Meanwhile, I’ll work on my older daughter’s shawl.

You know, it seems like last year was all about letting go, in many different areas of my life. And 2012 seems set up for me to start tying up the loose ends letting go created. This is fine with me. I need forward motion.

If you have any ideas what I can do with this damn body butter, let me know. And happy new year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Posted by Sherri Cornelius

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