Places to Party

Monday, April 25, 2016

Soapy Sunday

Courtesy of Graphics Fairy.
There are some things that you can coupon that are so close to free that you can't pass them up. Such is the case with soap. Dove Basic soap can often be couponed for a song so you end up with a lot of it. But I'm not wild about bar soap. The gloppy mess that it leaves in the soap dish is just plain nasty. Even with the strainer in the dish, the liquid eventually reaches the soap to become a soupy, soapy mess. 







Sunday I decided to do something about this soapy stockpile of mine and trolled the internet for recipes for how to make bar soap into liquid soap. I did find those recipes but in the end didn't follow them exactly but was very pleased with the end product.


 Soap Recipes
 
Most soap recipes are essentially this:

1 cup soap melted in 1 cup water
1 Tbsp glyercine
Essential oils.

I winged it and in the end ended up with this:

1 bar Dove Basic soap
3-4 cups water
2 Tbsp glyercine (can be found at craft stores in the cake decorating isle)
Essential oils or fragrance oil


 Tools:

Microplaner
Saucepan
Mixer
Funnel
Pump jar for liquid soap





I used the micro-planer to grate the soap into a fine powder with did the job splendidly.









  





It did a wonderful job grating it to a fine powder as you can see.









I started with two cups of water in a saucepan and slowly added the grated powder into the water. 





Using the mixer, I began mixing until the liquid and the power frothed up. I added two Tbsp of glycerine and kept mixing. 

Sorry, really bad picture here.




 


I took the mixture off the heat to cool but coming back periodically, discovered that as it cooled, it became the consistency of marshmallow fluff. 










So I began adding water and some left over fragrance oil (not enough to cause any type of skin reaction, a minuscule amount) and kept mixing as it cooled walking away periodically. Keep adding and mixing in water until you get the consistency you like. 


 




Mine was thin enough to pump but thick compared to the commercial product.  In the end I really liked it and will definitely do it again. I did have a lot left over but this can be stored or used in household cleaning as well. So, win/win. It was actually a lot of fun so try it for yourself!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Just What Was I Thinking?

I woke up Sunday morning and the realization hit me like a ton of bricks.
Chick days!

Just what the heck had I done yesterday?

Ever had one of those moments? 









Saturday I visited the local feed store and ordered chicks for this year. Now, I've raised six to adulthood and they are quite health girls. I love them dearly as the many blog posts illustrate.









But, after a year of setbacks and lots of medical bills that keep coming, I decided this year to be proactive in getting us back on the right track. For my part, that means lots of canning and making this small hobby farm start to give back. 


That means, the random woods that have grown behind my house that was once an open field is going to be cut down periodically for firewood. I think I can definitely speak for my family and absolutely for the cats that we all missed the woodstove this year. Luckily the winter was fairly mild.





It means, lots of preserving and canning this year. I started our tomatoes and tomatillos  this weekend as that is my main crop I can. I intend on canning lots of the following: tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, enchilada sauce, salsa and chili sauce (a new fav!)






It means that it's now the time to get serious
and raise our own flock for the freezer.
It's not going to be easy, because they are as cute as a bug in a rug, but after watching Food, Inc it's important that we know where our food comes from. Our food is our birthright, it should not be allowed to be controlled by corporations or one specific corporation. 








Aren't they adorable?

But I digress...I  woke up Sunday and realized I had ordered eight chickens. I was going to have a flock of 20 birds total! What was I thinking? Twenty birds? In the end it ended up 21 because there was this lone buff orpington that had been sent with the chicken order and I couldn't leave her there by her lonesome... In the end we had 8 cornish rocks and the lone buff orphington. The Easter eggers will be here in May...they are the ones that lay the different color eggs.

 

So this is our year of living a bit more basic and becoming more self-sufficient. This is the year of the food on our table coming right outside the door. It's going to be a lot of work but I think the payoffs are great.

Monday, February 29, 2016

The $5 Chair


I Need Some Love!


On it's own, isn't this the cutest chair? I bought this two years ago at a rummage sale. Marked $8 the owner sold it to me for $5. I just love the paint and definately was not going to repaint it.

I love good design even if it's a common object. I have a lovely necklace pendant in the shape of a ladderback chair. I used to wear it all the time (until one of the legs fell off. Once a coworker asked me if it had any personal significance. "No"  I told her, I just like the design. Maybe I'm weird.

It was the same with this chair. It fairly shouted at me, "Take me home! I need some love!"

So I did. 

And I knew exactly what I was going to do with it when I got it home.

Then it sat for two years still with the same intention.

But today was it's lucky day! Today it's getting it's moment in the sun.

It's no mystery that I love painting. Tole painting is so accessible to everyone that I love showing you how easy it really is because the end result is so impressive. With a little bit of paint you can turn a humble little garage sale chair into a work of art.

The first step in tole painting is to gather all your supplies. You'll need:

*Your Pattern
*Tracing Paper
*Transfer Paper
*Pencil or Pen
*Paint
*Brushes

Let me start off with a common problem that I had. My pattern was well over ten years old. I could not find my paint at Joann's at all. Same with AC Moore or Michaels. You may find one or two but never seem to find all of them in a pattern. If you have a good picture, you can approximate the colors, there are books that translates one line into another line or there are converters available online such as this.

First you will need to determine what size you want your pattern to be. Rarely if ever is a painting pattern (or any other pattern you may want to paint) the same size as the piece you are painting. 

If you decide the pattern needs to be increased, measure the total pattern size. Then determine the size you want the finished piece to be. Remember to add at least 1" to the finished size to give you a little "breathing space. Once you have your two numbers, dived the larger number by the smaller number.

To reduce the size, do the same thing as above but divide the smaller number by the larger number. 

This is how you get the percentage of how much to increase or decrease your size. Take it to a copier and increase or decrease accordingly.











 
Once you have your pattern, take your tracing paper and trace the design. You use the tracing paper because it so much easier to see your positioning when you lay it on top of the work. Copy all the lines, etc.










Take his tracing pattern to your work and decide where you want it positioned. Once determined, take some painter's tape and take a few pieces at the top to position your tracing. 










To start transferring your image, slide some graphite paper under your pattern. Transfer only the general shapes as it's pointless to draw any details you are going to be painting over anyway.





Using painter's tape which can be found in any hardware paint section, section off the ribbon portion of your pattern and using a small sponge (I cut up a kitchen sponge) sponge two of the corners of the bottom of the chair.




Now, had I used common sense, I would have painted the ribbon first, but as I was following the pictured directions, I did the pine cones so I had to redo my pine boughs..not traumatic but irritating.






 
Base coat and highlight basic shapes.





Once your paint is dried, taking your graphite paper, mark in the details:





  
To add details that appear as highlights or low lights, you need to float your paint. What this means is, with a damp brush, load some paint to one side of your brush. Gently brush that paint out on your palette so that the paint slowly seeps across your brush on the water that is still there. 








This allows the paint to gently fade away from the edge which gives a more natural shading or highlighting effect. You are going to add both highlights and low lights to your piece to give it depth.









 Add the foreground details:



And any text:





Once I got the main piece done and it dried, I felt it looked too "new". To age it a bit, I took a sanding block and very carefully sanded away some of the painting to give it a faded look that I felt was more authentic to the chair.









To age it further, I did a technique called "Flyspecking". Using an old toothbrush, dip in in black paint and run your thumbnail across the the bristles (you can also do it with a light paint to mimic snow). It gives you random little circles of color. It's a very attractive treatment although knowing what those little dots really are in real life... well, not really sure why we would want to mimic that.... 




 

I painted the back of the chair and liking the dots so much, added it around the word "pinecone". 












The easiest way to make dots is simply dip the other end of your paintbrush in the paint and "dot" onto your piece.









Here is the finished piece unvarnished and still in need of a little clean up: 

  
Now the unavailing. All finished and varnished:



Close up of the seat:



 This is why I love painting! You can take something that is, well, nice on it's own, and with a little paint, transform it into something magical. If you can color in a color book, this is totally accessible to you. Pick up a small pattern or even a child's coloring book and a scrap of wood and try it. I guarantee it's very addicting!