Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Simple Soapmaking

I have been seeing this (All these moms are on Pinterest making their own soap and reindeer-shaped treats, and I'm like "I took a shower and kept the kids alive") lately and it makes me laugh because I am one of those moms making her own soap. However I am definitely not one of those moms that it is referring too.  I believe it is referring to moms who are super crafty and able to make all sorts of really nice looking DIY's. As I mentioned in my post before, when I tried to make my own chocolate peanut butter acorns, they came out rather pathetic looking. I am more like the mom who envies those types of moms who are so creative and aspires to be like them. I don't think I will ever be able to attain the levels of craftiness and creativity that I see on all the blogs that I follow and pins from Pinterest but I am able to get ideas from them and do a fraction of what I see and like.

Anyway back to soapmaking. Trust me it sounds a lot harder than it really is. A few years ago I read a blog post about "green" cleaning.  It is something I have been wanting to do since but it was only recently that I actually implemented the tips mentioned in the post. (The major impetus was wanting to use non-toxic cleaning supplies now that there is an infant in our apartment). For example I have been spraying a mixture of water and vinegar to clean my counter tops and wipe down mirrors (leaving them streak-free). In addition, I use baking soda when I need to do some stain scrubbing. Another tip was to use a mixture of Castile soap and water as another cleaning agent which I also sprayed to clean various surfaces in the bathroom. When I was running low on liquid hand soap, instead of buying more, I realized I could just fill the soap dispenser with some water and (the equivalent) of a few spoonfuls of Castile soap to....ta dum...."make my own soap". I told you it sounds a lot harder than it really is. When I think of real soap making I think of those fancy soaps that are so nice you don't even want to use them.

Anyway, I am really liking my "homemade soap". Because Castile soap is so concentrated, you don't need that much of it to add to the water.  I bought a big bottle of it online and I anticipate it lasting awhile thus it is cost effective even if you have to spend more in the beginning. I have other plans for it as well, such as using the water and Castile soap combination as a dish detergent once the one that I am currently using runs out. I especially like how it it is all natural since it is made of vegetable oil.  Because it is oil based it also keeps my hands much more moisturized than regular liquid soap which always dries out my skin at this time of year. Maybe I will be able to learn about and implement even more uses for it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Acorn Annoyance

After surviving the first couple months of motherhood, I was fortunate enough to join a mom’s Bible Study affiliated with my church. It was a wonderful group of moms but since our church is about 30 minutes away (longer with traffic) from our apartment most of the small groups, including this one, is about the same distance. Since I know how isolating being a new (and for the time being stay-at-home) mom can be, I really wanted to find some moms with whom I could connect, that also live in the same area as I do. It took a few months but I am now settling into some formal (organized on meetup.com) and informal moms groups that are also nearby.

With the formal groups, each mom is required to host a play date every once in awhile.  A couple weeks ago I volunteered to host. I was excited to do so because I had been wanting a reason to make these  chocolate-peanut butter acorns that I had seen in a Martha Stewart Living magazine.  After reading the directions, I thought that it would be really easy to make and that once I made them they would look just like the picture. How wrong I was! It took so long for me to roll out the peanut butter and they definitely did not have that perfect acorn shape. When it was time for me to dip the “acorn” into the chocolate, the shape became even more messed up. The reason was because the chocolate had to be hot enough in order to stay melted but then the heat from the chocolate would then melt the peanut butter causing the shape to change. Below is a picture of some of the more decent looking ones that I made.

Overall I was really disappointed with how they ended up looking. I still ended up serving the “acorns” at the play date and all the moms were of course very gracious.  They thought they were cute and the “acorns” also (at least) tasted delicious. It is hard to go wrong with a combination of peanut butter, chocolate, sugar and butter. I ended up eating more than just a few at a couple sittings. For the play date I had also prepared ham and cheese crêpes (which also took awhile to make), homemade hummus (a little complicated since I also made one of the ingredients tahini which is a sesame seed spread from scratch) and some other store bought snacks.

Lessons learned from this experience:
  1. No matter how easy a recipe looks, that may not be the case, especially one from Martha Stewart. I should have known since in the past I had made a craft that looked easy but ended up taking a long time and being harder than I thought.
  2. Be mentally prepared for the possibility that it might not end up looking the way I had originally thought it would based on the picture.
  3. Find hosting recipes (tested in advance) that don’t take too long to make and aren’t too complicated.