Bath Bombs!  Fun, Yet Irritating Little Bastards. Sorry for the swearing.

So,as part of my decision to try new things and also add things to my product inventory, I attempted that wonderful yet frustrating task of making a bath bomb at home.  Like many, I was fascinated by the concept when a friend introduced me to this addiction via Lush.  

Tutorials and gorgeous pictures abound on various sites, Pinterest in particular luring me into that belief that I can DIY anything easily and with ingredients around the home.  As a seasoned Pinterester, I approached this endeavor with a tad more skepticism, but I am happy to report that, for the most part, they are a delight to make.  Notice I didn’t necessarily say easy.  The basic concept is, in and of itself, easy.  However, it is the finer details that require trial and error before you get the feel of how this process works.  If it were easy, it wouldn’t be as frustratingly enjoyable, now would it?


I had planned this trial out in advance, and thus ordered good quality ingredients online.  I already had a good supply of essential oils and herbs, so I didn’t run into some of the costlier ingredients my first time around.  

WARNING! I am a messy crafter!


The biggest issue I had was the molds.  I couldn’t get the damn bombs out of the damn molds.  Plus, it has rained this whole week which just royally screwed with how these things dried.  Because they dried slowly, even after waiting 48 hours before taking some of them out of the molds, they would settle and flatten.  Irritating, the little bastards.  Also, they had this bumpy texture that I just did not understand how it happened, since it was a great texture pre-molding.  

So, I experimented.  I have the Fort Loudon, PA Peach Festival Saturday, and I had been kicking around this idea for 6 months and I was determined to have these at the fair.  I’m up to about 6 or 7 batches at this point.  I’ve also learned a few things.  

  1. Plastic wrap is your friend.  I put this in the molds after reading it on a Q& A post.  I had tried tapping the bombs out, and then outright slamming to get the little buggers out.  Bent a cupcake pan, but eh, I got it at the dollar store.  
  2. Texture of ingredients matters.  I tried grinding my Epsom Salts into a fine powder like the other ingredients, and Poof! Bumpy texture gone!
  3. Witch Hazel, not water.  Don’t know why, but I just had a better time of it after I grabbed a bottle for spritzing duty.
  4. Arrowroot Powder! I’ve seen this a couple places as a cornstarch alternative, the cost being the only issue.  I’ve read that cornstarch can gum up a tub, something my sister-in-law was muttering about on a bath bomb she had used previously (not mine).  I found 5lbs cheap at my local Amish store, and I use half of it per portion that I do of cornstarch.  Meaning if a recipe calls for 1/2 cup cornstarch, you can use 1/4 cup arrowroot powder.
  5. Oil ratios. My first 3 batches I based off of recipes I found online, all of which said to mix water with your oil.  My last few, I removed it entirely.  I’ve got enough humidity.  The troubleshooting post said that if it expanded, mixture was too wet.  If it crumbled, it was too dry.  I ended up with a f*cking crumbly expanding mixture, so at that point, the troubleshooting failed miserably.  I adjusted water and mixed some oils together and ended up with a ratio that I liked.
  6. If plastic wrap is your buddy, then silicon is your Friend With Benefits. I could peel the damn molds off the bath bombs all presto! No problem.  After abusing my cupcake trays, there was much swearing at how easy it was and a quick trip to Dollar General to see if they had any Silicone.  No such luck.  I live out in the boonies, so I wasn’t up to a 45 minute drive to Walmart on a Saturday afternoon.
  7. Wax Paper. Easier to peel off of and clean when you have powder everywhere from drying fizzies.
  8. Easy with the spritzing.  These mixtures go from dry to too wet instantly.  You need to spray once, then mix for a while.  It gets wetter the longer you stir.  The texture was the hardest part.  The best advice I read was squeezing it in your hand- step 1 is if it holds its shape.  Step 2, drop the clump into your mixing bowl.  If it holds fairly well, it’s ready.  
  9. Pack quickly and pack tightly. It dries very, very quickly.  Plus side, if your fizzy crumbles, you can bag then as bath salts!

This is what I have figured out thus far.  I’ll put more on storage and creation as I learn.  I came up with a nice recipe that I thinks elks divine.  I call it Rosey Dreams, and its got milk powder and rose petals in it, scented with rose, lavender, and sandalwood.  

To see packaging, they will be on my Facebook business page shortly.  Bear in the Woods LLC

If someone else is attempting bath bombs, hope this works.

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Candles- the subsequent birth of a new hobby

So it’s been a busy and exhausting year punctuated by starting a small business, a new job, the death of a parent, various medical surprises, and just an all-around resettling back into life.  All of these pretty much managed to collectively knock me on my ass and stomp on my face for good measure.  Recently, I was able to squeeze in a little craft time to help maintain my sanity, and the result is that I discovered a love of making candles.  

I had been kicking this idea around for awhile, especially as a product to sell in our new founded craft business.  What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy it!  I started out with trying to melt some pure beeswax beads into some tiny jars in the oven based on some Pinterest posts, and I’m lucky I didn’t just give up the entire thing then and there.  Pure beeswax is a bitch to work with.  There, got that off my chest.  *phew*  Lessons learned were a need for better reading and instructional materials, as well as utensils and materials better suited to what I wanted my final end product to be.  

I started immediately researching books and websites for the knowledge, and finally ended up purchasing “Candlemaking for Fun & Profit” by Michelle Espino due to it having a lot more positive reviews than other guides.  I love this book.  When I was researching wax, and I would read the reviews detailing problems others were experiencing, I turned to this book. One of my favorite parts is that it has a troubleshooting section on why you might be experiencing certain difficulties and how to remedy them.  It has good explanations and eases you through the process of different projects, from pillars to container candles, from novelties and tea lights.  

My focus was container candles, and I poured my first mason jar candles using a soy wax blend I bought in bulk at 50 lbs.  

I only had an issue with some wet spots, which the subsequemt purchase of a heat gun (best toy ever!) has remedied.  

Wicking a candle is still an adventure, but thankfully there are handy tips for figuring that out.  I’ve now started critiquing the candles I see in stores and it’s really easy to tell if a lit candle is improperly wicked, once you know what to look for.  I.e. Carbon balls forming in the end, uneven melt pools, etc.

I’m also still figuring out scenting, but that’s my favorite part, as I feel like a chemist or more aptly, a wise woman mixing potions and watching temperatures.  My next foray will be colors, and I am so excited!  

Interestingly enough, research can make a big difference, so make sure you do your research on materials so that your cost vs. profit numbers work out.  Beeswax is way more expensive, and making an 8 oz beeswax candle vs. a soy wax candle can have a price difference of up to 4 times the amount of the other!  In other words, you could be spending $2 per soy candle and $8 per beeswax candle!  My research led to a cost-effective soy wax and palm oil blend, designed for hotter climates.  Pillar candles will hold their sides better.

I’d honestly thought I wouldn’t be adding any more hobbies into my life recently, and yet I’ve added quilting, self-defense classes, and now, candles.  Also self reflection, but that is an important part of a hobby.  How else would you relax or find release?  Consider taking a class with a friend or partner.  My husband and I are taking Krav Maga, and enjoying ourselves immensely.

  Find a passion so that you may live your life passionately.

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Sewing patches on a leather vest

A friend recently asked if I would sew some patches on her husbands leather bike vest- a reqest that both excited and terrified!  I have been teaching myself quilting lately, and happily learning more to add to the sewing basics my mother taught me. 

I, like others who love to sew, dreaded working with leather, having heard how much of a bugger it was to work with, yet I also lusted at the thought of customized leather goods.  So, with much trepidation, I turned to that much beloved time- suck- Pinterest.  I found wonderful information on needle sizes and thread (learned that Cotton thread apparently reacts to tanins in leather and thus should be passed over for another choice, in my case, 100% polyester) and proceeded to carefully look at this expensive vest in the hopes that I could avoid pulling any stitches from the leather.  The vest has multiple pockets, both outside and inside, and I needed them all to be functional by the end of this endeavor.  

A little background… I love to sew, but need lots of practice before I can be happy with what I create.  My sister, makes these beautiful creations and has run a sewing business for many years, managing to decider much of the instructions that I believe should have been included as an additional side of the Rosetta Stone.  Instructions on making darts or modifying patterns look like hieroglyphics to me, such as it were.  

Anyhoodles, I was able to install the first patch on the front right shoulder without endangering pockets, by way of going through the liner seam- the white edge.  This is after I hand stitched it back up using another instructional pin on the back stitch (my hand sewing is rather atrocious).  

re-stitched seam, please ignore the cat fur.

fully sewn on

The finished patch!  Thanks to a gutermann thread board as a Christmas gift years ago, I had yellow  thread that closely matched the outside edge.  I sewed on the inside of the patch boarder, trying very hard to make sure my needle went in the holes of the patch border.  The resul: my husband told me he couldn’t tell this had been sewn on.  

Now, my biggest problem.  Trying to get the vest under the presser foot without scratching leather or having the patch shift.  You can’t pin leather, those holes don’t close and are there forever.  So, I tried a pin suggestion of using scotch tape. That so did NOT work.  It made me too nervous and the patch kept moving with all the manhandling I was giving that leather.  So, now what?  I then read about spray adhesive!!!!  It’s a big thing in quilting, and someone suggested gluing the patches on before sewing them.  

It worked beautifully!

I found some elmer’s multi-purpose spray adhesive At the local dollar general and I was able to make small adjustments after I used it.  I had to wait for it to dry, but the peace of mind was well worth the wait.  It did come off if pulled hard enough, and dries pretty clear.

The second patch was a little trickier, as placement was on top of two pockets, an inner and an outer.  

patch that is drying from the glue.

The inside pocket was also anchored by another fabric strip seven into a seam.  I pulled probably around 10 inches of stitches out of the lining, but it gave me enough room to shift pockets and leather out of the way.  

the finished patch

Here it is!  I didn’t have as close a color match with this thread, so you might be able to see my stitches along the interior blue edging.  I put white thread in the bobbin to match the background.  

The longest part was sewing back the lining, making sure I out the pockets back where they belong.  Removed cat hair, and it’s done.  Returned the vest, my friend’s hubby was very happy!

  

Thoughts: 

My first project with leather was both terrifying, yet addicting. My sister convinced my dad to buy a presser foot collection with my sewing machine as a gift, which has been a Godsend.  I had a Teflon coated foot that didn’t stick to the leather.  

I want to make more!

Moving the leather worked easier once I lower my feedogs.  Mi e are lowered by a switch which made this easy.  Any time I had to rotate the vest, I’d put my need down, lower the feed dogs and the. Switch them back.  I’d rotate the vest and start sewing again, because my feed dogs don’t come back up until the needle starts moving again.  That way. They didn’t scratch the leather.

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Crafty!

So I have to share my first quilt!

My hubby’s nephew and I share a similar addiction to all things Toothless and How To Train Your Dragon. So, I decided to make him a Toothless quilt!

I made it lap size, with machine quilting lines along the simple 2″ squares & a little bit of free motion quilting in the middle to do a dragon. Metallic thread sucks (just for the record).

My husband is my display rack for these pictures.

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This is the front of the quilt. You can see the dragon better in the next picture.

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I even did the part of his tail that was replaced in red metallic thread ($17 a spool, thank God for random strangers with coupons).

I did the backing in a black cotton that has little circles, picked up especially because they looked like dragon scales! The machining was done entirely in green thread to match the accent, and it made for a cool effect on the back.

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I pretty much just did a 1/4 inch straight stitch along the edges of the piece seams, and a decorative stitch around the center rectangle. I made the binding from scraps, and discovered I had a binding foot in the process that I hadn’t known about. The 1/4 inch presser foot was a God-send.

A good deal of my help came from wonderful Pinterest searches!
I certainly learned alot, and I can’t wait to start my new project – a Christmas table runner!

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https://cookingexploitz.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/the-monster-garden-of-doom/

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Worm Composting

Worm Composting Post in cooking blog!

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