Blender Approved Hot Process Soap – I made soap, now what? Prt 3 of a 4prt series

Hot Process Soap with Blender Instructions

Pouring lye/liquid solution into the fats/oils pot

Pouring lye/liquid solution into the fats/oils pot

You have poured your lye mixture into your fats/oils pot and started stirring. You can continue stirring for and hour to 2 days sometimes if you want to go the cold process way, but if you want to speed things up a bit, break out your handy dandy stick blender.

You can use a regular blender. I did, but I also melted the rubber sealing ring inside. A regular blender doesn’t really cut if for big batches anyway.

I also got my stick blender from, yet again, the thrift store. You can get a pretty pink one  at  http://www.brambleberry.com/Perfect-Pink-Stick-Blender-P5245.aspx  along  with other handy soap making products.

If you look up how to make soap with a blender you will see almost all the instructions say you don’t have to worry about the lye/liquid mixture or the fat/oils mixture temperature when using a blender to reach trace. I finally read one that said “just make sure the lye has cooled down. Wow!

I do NOT trust that method and I am NOT recommending it either! Do your job. Get both the mixtures to the temperature it calls for pouring in the recipe. No need to be lazy and possibly cause separation.

BLENDER SOAP INSTRUCTIONS

So, you’ve poured the lye/liquid into the fat/oils pot.

  • Stir for about 5 min to mix well.

Now you will either pour the contents of your soap pot into your blender, or have that wonderful stick blender ready. You are trying to get your soap to trace. Trace is when the soap has thickened up enough to see a ‘trace’ pattern of something swirled or tapped onto the surface of the mixture.

  • Submerge your stick blender into the mixture and swirl away. DO NOT let the stick blender come out of the mixture or you will spray caustic soap all over you and the surrounding area. This is NOT good!
Blending to trace

Blending to trace

  • If using a regular blender, blend for a minute or two then check the consistency, never going over a minute at a time before checking to get to trace. REMEMBER the lid!!!

It is almost impossible to get to trace hand stirring. I’ve stirred for up to three hours before and hardly got anything. I’ve heard that some recipes could take up to two days to trace. I do not have that kind of time, and doubt you do as well. That is why I was so excited when I discovered blender soap!

It took MAYBE three minutes total to get this particular recipe to trace. THAT’S IT! I couldn’t believe my eyes the first time I did this! I had never really seen trace before. Well, there it is.

That ring you see near the center is what trace looks like. A slight puckering of the mixture when tapped with the stick blender.

That ring you see near the center is what trace looks like. A slight puckering of the mixture when tapped with the stick blender.

The more you make, the more you will become familiar with the texture you are after. I like to stop at a thin trace. The hot processing will thicken your soap up even more and will be harder to mold so just be careful.

You can ‘over blend’ as well, whipping in more air bubbles, and voila, floating soap!

Some things to remember when blending your soap

  • It is still CAUSTIC and will burn you
  • Make sure your stick blender is completely submerged or you will get flying caustic soap everywhere
  • Wear you protective eyewear!!!
  • Make sure the lid is on the blender or you will, again, get a caustic explosion
  • Make sure the lye is at a cooled temperature (as per recipe) before pouring into the fats
  • SUBMERGE your stick blender completely! (I know I’ve said this already, it just bears repeating)!
  • Learn the stages of trace and incorporate them into your own particular style of soap making.

When you hit TRACE, move on to the next step Hot Processing!

http://www.brambleberry.com/Perfect-Pink-Stick-Blender-P5245.aspx

HOT PROCESS SOAP METHODS

Hot processing soap is basically ‘cooking’ your soap mixture to remove the caustic nature of the lye. It is the way to go in my opinion. I don’t really have the time, nor want to wait 4-6 weeks to use my soap! With Hot Processing you can use it as soon as it hardens up.

There are several methods of Hot Processing your soap.

I have only used the double boiler method. I had the extra equipment already (canning pot) so I thought, why not?

There is a high possibility of getting water into your soap, basically ruining it, so you have to be EXTRA careful when transferring the soap pot into the double boiler pot.

*A word of caution: the pot, when half way submerged into the water of the double boiler will sort of float out while you are taking the pot out. When it leaves the water it will ‘all of a sudden’ get kind of heavy. Be expecting the weight shift. DONT DROP IT BACK INTO THE WATER! Water will splash everywhere, getting into your soap and scalding you in the process.*

I don’t recommend the microwave method but the other methods seem worth a try. You can read more about the process of each on the links provided below. These sites offer a lot for the look. They are some of my favorite for soap making and reading pleasure.

Crock Pot Hot Processing – CPHP –   http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/09/making-hot-process-soap-in-crock-pot.html

Oven Method Hot Processing – OMHP – http://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/cold-process-soap/hot-process-series-oven-process-layers/

Double Boiler Hot Processing – DBHP – http://sumpena.wordpress.com/2007/03/14/double-boiler-hot-process-soap-making-method-dbhp-and-oven-hot-process-soap-making-method-ohp/

Microwave Method Hot Processing – MMHP –  http://www.greatcakessoapworks.com/handmade-soap-blog/index.php/how-to-make-hot-process-soap-in-the-microwave/

DBHP

Make sure you have only enough water in the canning pot to come half way up the soap pot when you have it placed in the double boiler. If you’re doing this for the first time and are not sure how much you will need, you should fill up the canner pot with water before making soap and place the empty soap pot in it, on the canner basket or lids, like you would if you were double boiling soap already, and measure the amount of water you will need in the canner pot. It shouldnt not come any higher than half way up the soap pot.

  • Have the canning pot water at a low boil with the lid on
  • Make sure you have something on the bottom of the pot to keep the soap pot off the bottom of the double boiler (canning lids or the canning basket that came with the water bath canner will work wonderfully.
  • When soap is at trace put a tightly fitted lid on your soap pot.
  • Uncover the boiling water,
  • Using hot pad or gloves, carefully lower the soap pot into the boiling water. DONT DROP IT or water will splash into your soap pot. Not good! If this happens, grab a dry towel to soak up the water off the closed soap pot lid before it seeps into your soap.
  • Re-cover the canner with its lid. – You now have your lidded soap pot inside the canner with its lid on.

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Soap pot inside double boiler

Soap pot inside double boiler

That’s it. Keep the canner pot at a low boil with the lid on for 1 hour.

Don’t Peek!!! I know its hard, but there is seriously nothing to see. If you must, wait at least 30 minutes and do it quickly!

  • After an hour you can turn off the heat and remove your soap pot CAREFULLY from the double boiler.

MOLDING YOUR SOAP

  • Remember to lay a blanket or newspaper under your molds when pouring to avoid a mess!
  • Grease your molds. Use vegetable shortening to coat your molds for easier unmolding.
Grease your mold with vegetable shortening or olive oil

Grease your mold with vegetable shortening or olive oil

  • Before you remove your soap pot from the double boiler have all your additives and molds ready.
Pre-melt all solid additives and mix in any liquid additives together

Pre-melt all solid additives and mix in any liquid additives together

  • Mix in whatever herbs, exfoliants, moisturizers, or scents you are using quickly before the soap cools too much and becomes impossible to mold
  • The soap will most likely be the consistency of thick applesauce and you will probably have to glop the mixture into the mold.

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Remember the tap tap method for removing air bubbles.

  • Tap the mold on the floor or counter top several times during pouring to remove air bubbles and settle the soap.
  • Let dry one to two days.

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UNMOLDING YOUR SOAP

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Since all molds are different I can only tell you the problems I have encountered and how to best go about preparing your molds and general things about unmolding.

– Always Always grease your molds!

– You can place your molds in the freezer for several hours and that will shrink your soap just enough to provide easier removal.

– Having a flat scraping device can really help separate stubborn soap from the mold.

– Scrape up all the leftover soap on the mold or from shaving the soap down and ball up to form another piece of soap. It isn’t pretty but its useful!

I’ve seen beautiful hand molded soaps. Mine just do not come out that pretty. Have you ever heard the saying “why that/he/she is uglier than a bar of home-made soap!” Well, that’s where it came from😉

I hope someone gives this a try. If you do PLEASE let me know! I love to talk about soap (not really write about it though, lol). It’s hard to find another soap maker. Feel free to ask any questions as well. Like I said before, I think I am better at making soap than writing about it!

 

Hot Process Soap – Straight and Simple Prt 2 of a 4 prt series- The Making~

The Making

Sounds like a horror movie huh? I actually love that Tyler Durden made soap in the movie Fight Club. Fight-Club-Soap-soap-19341078-450-284

Interesting concept, using human fat. Disgusting, but as a soap maker, I’m truly left to wonder…

I make soap all the time but it seems to be like pulling teeth with me to get this out of my head and written into a workable format. I apparently love to make soap but it doesn’t seem as easy to write about. I knew I would eventually have to do a piece on soap making, so maybe, if I get it all out, I can move on to other things. Therefore, I will work hard to make it a good one. I hope you will walk away after reading this post with a full understanding of how to make ‘old-fashioned lye soap.’

Have all your equipment and ingredients out and ready. Parts of this process is of a timely manner, and you don’t want to be searching for something and let something go to long.

Distilled water not pictured

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You will have TWO process going on at the same time, your lye/liquid mix and the fats/oils mix.

You will work with the lye/liquid mix first

Another word about Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) before we get started:

When you mix the lye (sodium hydroxide) with liquid it gets VERY HOT! Over 200 degrees hot. Hence the precautions in the previous post. Make sure you have NO distractions when working with this solution. It will eat your skin as well as your countertops and floors, or any children/pets under-foot. Take precautions and move deliberately and slowly when handing.

Why is this caustic crap in your soap, (caustic: meaning it will BURN you, haha)? The chemical reaction when mixing the sodium hydroxide/liquid solution with the oils is called saponification. It creates soap! I never claimed to be a chemist so I don’t ask, I just do what it says.

It is in almost every soap, just check the ingredients label. All bar soap that is. Liquid soap is made using potassium hydroxide which lends it to have a syrup-like consistency. It is a whole different process than bar soap, so don’t try interchanging potassium hydroxide with sodium hydroxide because you will not get good results. Here is a good article explaining the difference and preferences in bar v/s liquid soap.

  • You can also see  information about how to make bar soap into liquid soap for super cute dispensers. Bar and liquid soap are made from two entirely different ingredients and melting down bar soap for liquid just doesn’t gel right. You can read more about that here on my website.

Making bar soap using the Cold Process method the caustic quality can remain in your soap for 4 to 6 weeks meaning you can’t use it. What a bummer!

BUT, we’re not using Cold Process! We are using the Hot Process method, which, in the end, removes the caustic, burning quality, adding only an hour to processing time! YAY! You can use your soap!

We are making bar soap, using SODIUM hydroxide just as a reminder!

*THE MAKING*

So, first things first – MIX #1 – Lye/Liquid solution – With Precaution!

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–  Measure your liquid you will be using to dissolve the lye and pour it into the plastic pitcher reserved for soap making only!

  Weigh your sodium hydroxide and slowly pour it into the liquid.

  • Always pour the dry sodium hydroxide into the liquid, not the other way around. It could cause a dangerous reaction the other way around

Sodium Hydroxide  ———————>  Liquid

–  Stir until desolved with the hard plastic spoonDo not hover too closely or breath the fumes it puts off at first.

–  Wait to cool.

  • When first mixed the solution will shoot up to over 200 degrees. We need it to cool down to around 120 degrees before we can use it. Just to note: Every recipe is different with the ideal temperature for that particular recipe.
  • The lye solution cools very slowly! You don’t really need to check the temperature for at least 30 minutes or so.

–  Check temperature after 30 min with glass candy thermometer. Once you get a good reading remove the thermometer from the solution to cool back down for the next temp. check. * Rinse the thermometer after being in the lye/liquid mix and be aware of where you lay it.

–  Check back every 15 min. or so to monitor the decline in temperature. (You can check the temperature whenever you feel like it. These times are just a general guideline for you)

* In the Meantime*

MIX #2 – Fats/Oils mixture

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  • While the lye/liquid solution is cooling go ahead and weigh out your fats and oils called for in the recipe for basic soap. Those should be your ingredients like shortening, olive, and coconut oils.

–  Measure each fat/oil individually and place in your enamel/stainless steel pot on the stove. NO HEAT  YET – we are simply preparing the oils to melt right now.

*Something to think on while your lye/liquid mix is cooling*

ADDITIVES

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You can add things to your soap mixture as mentioned before in the optionall ingredients list of the recipe section of part 1 of this post. To go a little further explaining the process, again we deal with our method of soap making.

  • Cold Process Method means you will be adding the extra things at trace, then simply molding the mixture while still caustic. Additives are added at TRACE
  • Hot Process Method allows you to double boil the caustic nature out of the soap lending a gentler base for your additives. Additives are added after DOUBLE BOILING

Some people believe adding things like milk or herbs when soap is still caustic, as in the cold process method, can burn or harm the additives. It is really a matter of opinion, but the hot process method insures your additives will be safe.

Also remember if you add anything fresh, such as vegetable/fruit  juice or pulp you will also need to add a preservative. Here http://www.soap-making-essentials.com/preservatives-in-soap.html is a good article about preservatives in soap.

Here are some links to give you an idea of the countless ways to give your soap a boost and create your very own signature soap, custom designed by you, to suit your own personal senses and needs.

*BACK TO MAKING SOAP*

When your lye/liquid solution is about half way to the magic 120 degree pouring mark you will start to melt your fats/oils mix.

Turn on the burner under your fats/oils pot to a low to medium low temperature. The idea is to melt them slowly so no bubbling of hot oils. Stir with your wooden or hard plastic spoon.

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When it is all melted together turn off the burner

Let cool.

Check temperature with the other glass candy thermometer periodically as the oils cool. You are trying to get at that magic 120 degree mark, just like the lye/liquid mix.

NOW STARTS THE JUGGLE!

You need both your lye/liquid mixture and your fats/oils mixture to both be at 120 degrees before combining the two (as per THIS recipe). The oils cool more quickly than the lye, which is why you start the lye solution first.

It is better to try to juggle the fat/oils mixture on the stove than to juggle the dangerous and toxic lye/liquid solution.

  • You can always re-heat the fats/oils pot
  • Have a shallow cold-water bath with ice cubes in your sink to quickly cool the fats/oils pot if needed. (do not let the fats/oils pot float or take on water)

You don’t want to put the lye/liquid pitcher into the cold-water bath, but, I have put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes, and only when it is very near the 120 degree mark. I don’t know for sure but I don’t think cooling your lye solution to quickly would be a good idea for the whole time. But to juggle with the temps right around pour time is ok. Just don’t let anyone near the fridge while you are doing this!!!

You can’t really re-heat the lye though, except maybe in a hot-water bath, but that is not recommended. Do all the juggling with the fats/oils mixture while the lye/liquid solution temperature is dropping towards 120 degrees.

WHEN YOU REACH MAGIC 120 for both mixtures

Pour the lye/liquid mix SLOWLY from the pitcher into the fats/oils mix  pot on the stove, burner OFF.

The lye/liquid solution is brown because I used coffee as my liquid

The lye/liquid solution is brown because I used coffee as my liquid

STIR STIR STIR. I suggest stirring for a good five minutes to ensure a thorough mix.

You are done! Just kidding! No you’re not! BUT, if you were making soap the cold process, old-fashioned way this would be the last step before hours of stirring .

Ain’t nobody got time for that! Well, I take that back, I have done this, and it is a really good experience, but only once or twice. That is a lot of stirring!

I’m taking you on a much quicker, more modern way to getting your soap out of the mold and onto your skin, which is the hot process method. The next steps we will be taking are

  • Blending
  • Preparing your molds and additives
  • Double Boiling (hot processing)

I regret to inform you though, I feel that two of these steps deserve their own separate posts. I will tell you about preparing your molds and adding your additives in the Double Boiling/Hot Processing post.

To continue making your soap please see the future Blender Soap posts and Double Boiling/Hot Processing Soap posts that I will link to this page when they are published.

If you want to continue to make your soap without using the Blender Soap method or the Hot Processing method you can!

Continue to stir for an hour or more until you get to trace. That is the indention on the mixture when tapped with an object. I have never achieved a good trace hand stirring, but when I just plain got tired of stirring (after two hours) I went ahead and mixed in my additives and poured the soap into its mold. It turned out just fine.

– If you do this, please remember the mixture is still caustic and will burn you even after you un-mold it. It will take 4-6 weeks curing time to lose the caustic quality.

Please let me know if you have any questions so far. I am excited to talk with anyone about making soap. Please remember to share this article with your friends and family. Until next time…

Eustace Conway continues his fight with the government

I have visited Turtle Island and I did not feel in danger one bit except when I went up into the treehouse boat🙂

myfox8.com

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Neither Eustace Conway, nor the things he builds, seem to be made for modern sensibilities.

Conway has lived on Turtle Island Preserve, near Boone, for more than 30 years, just as his ancestors had for generations–in harmony with nature.

But last year, the government in Watauga County told him that doing so was illegal.

They said his buildings were a hazard to visitors and workers on his preserve, and had to shut down.

Now, the North Carolina General Assembly has stepped in and passed a new law that exempts places, like Conway’s, from codes that were used to shut it down.

Both the state House and Senate have passed a law exempting “primitive structures” unanimously.

The bill is headed to Gov. McCrory’s desk.

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Hot Process Hand Milled Soap – Straight and Simple prt 1 of a 4 prt series – Getting It Together

Getting It Together

So ya wanna make soap?

soapsoap

Ok, I’m going to try to break it down for you.  It really is too much for one post so, I give you part I now. Take the time in between to gather your supplies. I will publish part II as my next week’s post. It is an involved and lengthy process so I hope you have the time and the patience. It is well worth it in the end, I promise you that.

 

 

  • A Little History: Making soap goes back to the cave men days when they would wash their clothes near volcanic ash, and I guess, on days the water was extra hot, and there was animal fat in the ‘clothes’ (skins) they would get bubbles and noticeably cleaner clothes.

Voila, soap!

See, ash can become lye, a major ingredient in soap formally known as Sodium Hydroxide.

A word about Lye:

You used to be able to buy pure Sodium Hydroxide in the grocery store aisle by the name of Red Devil Lye. It was used as a very effective drain opener. I’m pretty sure thanks to bomb making and meth making it can no longer be sold over the counter. Now you have to order it. The website I use is WONDERFUL! They sell any and everything soap making. Check out aaa-chemicals.com . Just know, it is highly corrosive!!! When working with lye it is a good idea to: use rubber gloves, maybe goggles or glasses, and newspaper to protect your counter tops. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

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Soapmaking is a time-honored tradition and necessity. The pioneers of America did it. England has its fine triple-milled soaps, but either way, the cave man did it first! It is a skill worth learning, and if you’re like me, you will fall in love with it.

I’m going to try to break the steps down for you and simply as I can. Just follow along with me and by the end of this, you should have your own, custom made hand-milled soap!

How do you make soap? A quick explaination:

There are two ways to make soap besides the melt and pour glycerin soap you can buy at your craft store.

  • Cold Process: Making the soap all the way to trace, mixing additives, then molding, still caustic.

(The advantages of Cold Process are, they are easier to work with when re-milling (to make double and triple milled soaps) and they are usually a harder bar. The draw backs? It takes about 6 weeks to cure (release all causticness of the lye). I’m impatient. 6 weeks is a long time)!

  • Hot process: Making the soap all the way to trace, then double boiling it for 1hr, then mix additives, then mold, caustic-free.

(The advantages of Hot Process are, the double boiling removes all caustic-ness from the soap, allowing you to use it as soon as it dries.  The draw backs are it takes more equipment (the canning pot), and it adds about an 1 1/2 hours to the process time. Still, I like to use my soaps immediately).

We will be using the Hot Process method.

So!

Gather your equipment . You will need:

  • A Plastic Pitcher: for mixing the lye and liquid. Get one that holds at least 3-4 cups of liquid. I like the hard plastic of tupperware.
  • Scales: digital are best, but I still use my dial scales. They were the first set I bought not knowing if I would love soap or not. They have not failed me yet!
  • A Large Enamel/Stainless Steal Pot: for melting the fats/oils. Make sure it is big enough to hold the fats plus the lye mixture comfortably and also small enough to fit down into a water bath canner. I just use an old stew pot.  will still fit inside a cold-water bath canner pot. I like enamel mixing with lye more than I like metal. DO NOT USE ALUMINUM!
  • Two Glass Candy Thermometers: get solid glass, not the kind with the cap on the top. Water can get into these when cleaning.
  • Two Long Plastic or Wooden Spoons: I like plastic
  • Extra Large Water Bath Canning Pot: preferably with the basket, or use some canning rings to hold the lg enamel/stainless steel pot off the bottom.
  • Some kind of Mold. It can be hard plastic, pvc pipe, wood, etc. Anything but aluminum or something hard to release the soap from the mold. They sell special molds for soap making. I got the hub to build the one you see here out of wood and a couple of long screws. The sides release from the mold, allowing for easy removal of the soap. I have two and that is enough for me and my family.

optional

  • Blender or Stick Blender: unless you have an extra hour or three.
  • Rubber Gloves, Goggles, and Newspaper: unless you’re hard-headed like me and forgo the precautions! Just be really careful when dealing with the lye!

I got all of my equipment from the thrift store up the road and  Wal-Mart, except for the canner pot. That was my moms that I lovingly inherited.

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Now for the most anticipated recipe and list of ingredients to gather:

Basic Soap Recipe

  • 6 oz Coconut Oil
  • 6 oz Olive Oil (the non-virgin kind)
  • 5 oz of Vegetable Shortening (try to get the kind that is made from only one oil, although mine is cottonseed oil and soy bean oil)  this only matters if you’re being creative and using the lye to fat ratio online calculator.
  • 2.6 oz Lye (Sodium Hydroxide)
  • 1 cup Distilled Water
Distilled water not pictured

Distilled water not pictured

optional additives

  • scented oils (essential or made for soap)
  • colorants
  • extra moisture
  • exfoliants or herbs

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Ok, so that’s the end of part 1. Please let me know if I have maybe left something out. I’ve been doing this for about six years and I may intend to say something, but actually only say it in my head and not on the instructions. Don’t judge me! :) I will have the rest for you next week, I promise! So go check out your local thrift stores and order some Sodium Hydroxide and I will see you all next week!

Elmer’s Glue Crackle Paint – Pintested

crackleyall

Yes, its true. You can make paint crackle using Elmer’s glue. Why is this good news? It saves you tons of money and gives you a designer look for your old furniture. What else could we ask for? Well, some trial and error information might be helpful if you want to try this nifty project on your own. If you have never refinished furniture before, know and be prepared for the time and step by step process it takes to get a piece right. To get to the finished product, I had to:

  • Clean
  • Sand
  • Re-clean
  • Primer
  • Apply base coat (turquoise) – let dry
  • Apply glue to areas I wanted to crackle
  • Apply top coat – let dry
  • Sand to distress
  • Glaze

It is a long process, but well worth the work!

(I do not know if this wooden sign above was aged using any kind of crackle method, but the Elmer’s Glue method would work wonderfully on such projects. I just liked the expression, as it is as southern as I am, and it links back to a pretty neat blog. Enjoy!)

Here is the ORIGINAL PIN for the crackle effect using Elmer’s Glue.

cracklepaint

This site gives you pretty good instructions with a lot of visuals.

 

 

 

 

I did my own piece using this same method.

This is what I started with:

cracklecabbef

Since this is not a tutorial on refinishing I will skip right to the heart of the matter, the crackling!

I only wanted to do a few areas in crackle, not the entire thing. An authentically aged piece is worn differently in different areas. It is rare that the finish is the same throughout. The key is to know the different techniques for getting the right effect where you need it.

Here are the areas I applied the glue to get the crackle effect:

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If you will notice the middle and the last picture have sort of a sagging effect. The last picture, more like a run. This was due to lack of experience. I applied the glue while the chest was standing upright. Believe it or not, the glue is heavy and will run if you are not careful. I probably applied it a little to thick as well. I tried to remedy it by tilting the chest onto its back so the surface I was painting was more flat.

The first picture, to the far left was perfect. Apparently there was just the right amount of glue on that one. I’m ok with it though. Nothing wears the same, and too much perfection can appear fake when doing something like this.

*Just remember, BEWARE of ‘the runs’ when crackling with Elmer’s Glue!

This is the finished project

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I went from an unusable antique sideboard to a fully functional, and beautiful (if I must say so myself) dresser! But I needn’t say so myself as I get tons of compliments on it. Makes a girl feel quite special😉

If you are taking on a similar project, please let me know. I would love to see your results with this method. Thanks for reading, and remember, you are more than welcome to use anything in this post, but please always link back to the original post. That plagiarism is nasty business!

10 Major Time Sucks

clock

Where did the time go?

Once upon a time I used to read a lot of books. Operative words being used to, as it is rare that you will catch me with a book in my hand these days. Why do I not read anymore? Because I have been trapped in some sort of cyclone of time being sucked down into nothing. Somewhere along the way I have lost time to do the things I love. I am rather upset at the lack of time I give to my old friend, the book. As well as a lot of other things I used to do and get done. I am pressed to keep up with my own schedule! What is happening here, I find myself asking. What is eating up my time? So, while brainstorming this issue last night, I came up with 10 real reasons why we can’t find the time. ‘You only live once’ and ‘time flies’ are accurate idioms to describe how important it is. Hopefully these time sucks I have identified will trigger a realization in your own day-to-day activities. Once identified, you can abolish it, remove it, eradicate it, and reclaim your life!

TEN MAJOR TIME WASTERS

and tips to reclaim it

  • 1. TV tv– Nothing needs to be said here. We have heard all our lives to quit watching so much television. Pick one or two shows and only watch them. If you find yourself watching something you don’t even really like, or re-runs, its time to get up and do something else!
  • 2. Procrastination roundtoit – It’s that little voice in the back of our heads that says, “Oh, I’ll do it later” or “I’ll get around to it.” No you won’t, so you might as well just go ahead and do it! I see stuff all around me that I’ve said I will get to later. Somehow I manage to not do all those things that need to be done. It makes for a messy and un-organized life.
  • 3. Late Nighters latenight – Are you a night owl? Do you find yourself up at 2 or even 3 am? Yes, bed time is a retreat from the busy world we live in. It’s where your mind can become quiet and you can concentrate on things you want or need to do. Some of us make our bedtime into a busy couple of hours. This is not good! You need that rest! If you lose sleep you will not be at your best. If you’re walking around groggy all day, not a lot will get done. So even if you’re reading a delicious book, limit your free time there and get some rest.
  • 4. Worry and Anger worry– You don’t get a lot done while you’re ringing your hands in worry.  Worry keeps us immobilized, frozen in fear. I’ll let this quote sum up how useless this time-consuming plague is. “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” – Corrie Ten Boom. Along with worry, don’t let anger get the best of you either. Letting things make our blood boil only gives them more strength. Don’t sweat the small stuff is more than a cute saying. Work on letting things go so you can have more time to concentrate on things that deserve our time instead of being angry at things that should really be ignored.
  • 5. Super Hero Complex superhero – This is what I call people who stay in horrible relationships, trying to make things work.  In the end it never does and look at all the time that was wasted. I’m not just talking about romantic relations here either. There are all types of relationships, and all are included in this category. We are compelled by certain people to stay in unhealthy relationships for many reasons. Why stay with something doomed? You could have spent all that time building something worth while, working on yourself, or lending your time to a better world. Be honest with yourself and your situations. Only you can decide when its time to move on.
  • 6. Waiting in line standing– Oh my goodness the time we spend waiting! Simple fix here though. Use this time to do your social networking, reading that good book, or anything else that requires quiet, alone time. Flipping through a magazine is fine, but this is an unsolicited time-out. Use it to get some time-consuming things you really like to do, done!
  • 7. Social Networking and Social Networking Games socialmedia – Ok, I’ll just say this straight forward, in the old days, before the internet, I was not consumed with my old school chums many random, day-to-day thoughts. All these social networking sites have sucked us in. We crave the daily contact. We crave the approval of our own thoughts and activities. In addition to the social aspect of these sites, they also offer super fun games to play. Did you get your crops harvested??? Look at my new score! It can be very addicting. I am very guilty of spending a lot of time using such sites. Maybe that is why you never see me with a book anymore! Limitations can be a good thing.
  • 8. Your Phone phone– Phones these days are basically tiny computers in our pockets. You can easily chit-chat with your buddy across the planet or try to beat someone’s high score. All the apps, cameras, texting, and shiny, whistle blowing things we can do with our phones! You can spend hours staring at it! I was thoroughly disgusted when I watched an entire family sit down to eat at a local resteraunt, barely spoke two words to each other while all four of their heads pointed downwards at their phones. We are losing real life social skills. We don’t take the time to communicate unless it’s over the phone. Again, limitations are fundamental.
  • 9. Winging It plan– When we go at anything with no plan, a lot of time gets waisted on trial and error, and forgotten aspects. Whatever you do, have a plan. Even if you have to write it down, do it. Forethought never does us wrong.
  • 10. Our Kids! kids– Yes, that is right, our kids suck up so much of our time. Cutting down on extra-curricular activities not only takes a lot of pressure off your kid, but gives you back a lot of your time. No more running from game to game. Limit them to one, maybe two activities per year. That is enough to broaden little Jack or Jane’s horizons and make for less stress. Do you feel like you are always doing something for someone else? Have no time to yourself? If you answered yes, you can reclaim even more time by teaching them to fend for themselves. Not with everything though! Our kids still need to be supervised, and have some quality time spent with them, but a ten year old can be taught to do his or her own laundry. Delegate, delegate, delegate! It gives your kids some real-life skills and lets you get on to the next thing!

I hope my late night thoughts on where my time goes has helped you. I have targeted a few things that I am personaltime rescheduling/restructuring so I can do some of the things I love. Please let me know your thoughts on this issue. I need all the time I can get!

Thrift Store Savvy

thriftshop

 

 

THRIFTING it’s the cool, not so new, hip thing to do! Why whole generations have adapted its look, from 1990’s grunge to the all-new 2010’s hipster wave.

hipsterfamThose hipsters just love a good thrift store! But no matter who you are, there is usually always something to be had for next to nothing. Here are a few things to remember while sifting and thrifting from a former thrift store manager, extroidinaire~

 

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

Besides normal apparel such as shirts and pants here are a few things to keep in mind that are handy and good to find on the cheap.

 

  • Lingerie: Don’t walk away so fast! While no one would want to have to wear used lingerie, there are still some good things to be had here! Sometimes the store will get a good deal on a brand new ‘lot’ of last season’s fashion. This includes bras and underwear! And too, people are always getting some kind of gown or pajama set as a gift  that they never use, and so, get tossed into the donation pile. This equals BIG savings for you! And also, gently used slips or tummy shapers can be found for next to nothing.

 

  • Coats and Jackets: It’s always good to look for that perfect pea coat, or even light jackets. You would be surprised at what people throw out. Designer labels are not hard to come by at thrift stores.

 

  • Boots and Shoes: Thrift stores seem to be in abundance with really nice dress boots while decent athletic shoes are hard to come by.thrift Athletic shoes get worn out the first go around and are hardly fit for a second go-around with a new owner. Dress shoes and boots on the other hand get replaced often with fashion changes and tastes. These type of shoes are also not worn hard. They usually sit under a desk at work or out on the town on occasion.  That being said, you need to wash your new kicks thoroughly!!! You can do this with a light soapy wash cloth and a good coating of Lysol. Good as new!

 

  • Books and Media: You can find children’s books out the wazoo at thrift stores. Have you ever priced new books for children, to draw in or otherwise destroy? thriftbooks1Here is the solution. Some kid’s just don’t play with books, so all those well intended gifts eventually find their way to the thrift store shelves.  It is always fun too, to see what your local store has in the way of music and movies. Rare DVD’s and albums  are not too hard to come by if you keep your eye open. Another tip is, if you still have a VHS player, you can find countless children’s movies here. From Walt Disney to Barney, I almost guarantee you can find something new for the little one’s to watch. If you don’t have a VHS player, you can probably pic up one of those too.

 

  • Old Furniture:  Antiques galore, usually not in the best shape though. There are so many ways you can salvage pieces of furniture you find at thrift stores.
    Repurposed dressing table

    Repurposed dressing table

    Ottomans can be recovered, dressers can be painted and distressed, old kitchen chairs can become planters. The list goes on. With a bit of imagination you can turn trash into repurposed heaven.

 

  • Odds and Ends:  Look for things like flower pots, coat hangers, cooking utensils, coffee cups, and plastic storage containers. The little things you find yourself needing around the house are all good things to keep an eye out for. thrift1Don’t pass up the half-used bottles of car care products and other cleaning agents, lamp oil, etc… You can get them for pennies! And last but not least don’t forget that quirky thing called you! Remember to look for things that catch your eye, just for the sheer beauty of it! IMG_0694Everyone’s eye is different. With the variety you find at a thrift store, it’s quiet possible to find just the thing that will tickle your fancy. Have fun hunting!

 

HOW TO BUY FOR:

 

  • Yourself:  Know thyself! In other words, know what you need and what you don’t need. Ask yourself, “do I really need another pair of white jeans? Keep a mental note of things you may need around the house like storage containers, curtains, etc. Maybe the family is in need of some entertainment like a movie, or board games (check pieces before buying!), or outdoor fun like horse shoe or croquet. Are you in the mood for some new music?

Size Matters: Some thrift stores have changing rooms, some don’t. If you are buying from one that does not, here are a few good rules of “fit” to go by:

  • Petite Sizes: Thrift stores are full of petite sizes in amazing designer labels. If you are a medium to tall person I IMG_0682don’t suggest buying shirts unless you are sure they are long enough to hide what you need it to hide. In general petite sizes are sized the same except in length. Petite people are, in fact, of a shorter nature. BUT, keep in mind that a medium to tall person can use petite jeans to cuff and get a cute cropped effect. IMG_0687

Too Long: Here is a handy diy guide to hemming without losing the original hem. Very informative!

  • Waistbands: On pants, shorts, or anything not a skirt, you can place the center crotch to your own center crotch to see where the waistband will fall. The most recent low-rise jeans phase put the waistband falling well below the actual waistline and onto the hip. But never the less, find out where the waist band will fall and then measure side to side. It must reach from the middle of one side to the other. If it doesn’t, don’t buy it, unless you are planning on losing weight. It just will simply not fit. Remember side to side!

 

  • Bust Size: Just as in pants. The side seams of a shirt (just under the arm pit) should fall in the middle of your sides under your arm pit, without pulling or gaping buttons. Just go ahead and hold it up there and measure. Trying to eyeball a fit will have you looking at size 5’s thinking you could do that. No shame in being cautious!

 

  • Tops and T-shirts: Just know thy length. One generally wants a top to not ride up when you move around. Also, be honest with yourself and remember you girth. Large breasts or extra pounds take up room in a shirt and tend to make them shorter. Sometimes it is just a bad cut.

 

  • Men: T-shirts and dress suits are in abundance at thrift stores. Gently used, or ‘lots’ of new t-shirts are perfect for work shirts.

thriftsuitDo your pocketbook a favor and check out the suits in both thrift and consignment stores before purchasing that rarely worn special occasion suit for the jeans and t-shirt guy on your list. There are truly some great pieces to be had here.

 

  • Kids:  Always look for gently used toys. Especially electronic toys for babies. These are hardly played with before the baby out-grows their use. Again, books are in abundance as well, but so are the clothes! There is no denying kids grow, fast! 

thriftkids1They hardly have time to put any wear on certain clothes before they out-grow them as well. You can quite often find pieces that still have the tags on them. While this is true for clothing items, shoes are another story. Even babies, crawling around, dragging their toes, wear out shoes. They are generally not worth looking for.

 

  • Special Occasions:  Thrift stores should be the first place you check before any special occasion event you must dress for.

thrift80sYou can easily shop for themed parties (80’s night, 60’s flower-child throwback parties, etc.) and Halloween. You can also find anything from wedding dresses to prom and evening gowns. thrift2If you think about it, these things are usually worn only once or twice then discarded and resold at a much cheaper price. What a great deal for you! Here is a picture of a (probably vintage) $10 wedding dress dyed black for Halloween. It matches the fangs perfectly!

 

  • Gifts:  Instead of re-gifting those unwanted items of good intent, they end up at the thrift store. You can find anything from wedding props (cake knives, toasting glasses) to glass wear, what-nots, ash-trays, and photo albums. All great, well intended gifts to give to that special someone😉

IMG_0696

WRAP UP:  Remember these points and you will have no problem finding that hidden treasure at your local thrift store: 

  • Negotiation is acceptable on certain items. You don’t want to take up the manager’s time with haggling on a $2 shirt, but a large piece of furniture might be up for negotiation.
  • Know yours, and your loved ones needs.
  • Know sizes and realize you can’t wish that size 6 to a size 10!
  • Know the return policy of the store.
  • Know the form of currency accepted at each store. Also ask about senior citizen discount days.
  • Clean you newly acquired purchases thoroughly!
  • Think outside the box in terms of usefulness.

Don’t go in without keeping these things in mind or you will end up on Hoarders, the reality show! I’m kidding, but these are some quick tips on thrift store shopping I hope will serve you well. You can check out a little thrift store shopping music brought to you especially by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in their recent hit thriftshop

Have fun and feel free to share your thrift store experiences here. I would love to see what you’ve found!