Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Banana Split Cake Batter Cookies

I'm not a chef.  I don't really like to cook, except for the eating part.  I never bake...well, on occasion I make brownies from a box when I have a chocolate craving.  I never make cookies because they take too long.  But I had a hankering for cookies and do sometimes make a mean cake batter sprinkle cookie.  I didn't have all the ingredients for those, but I did have a box of pink cake mix for some odd reason ( I think I was going to use it for #3 boy's birthday cake, but decided cutting into a turtle would be disturbing if it were pink ).

So I got my creative on and mixed up my cake batter cookie recipe with what I had on hand.  Wonder of wonders they turned out pretty tasty.  I might be making them this way again.


Banana Split Cake Batter Cookies

Ingredients:
One box strawberry cake mix
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1 over ripe banana, mashed

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.  In separate bowl, beat eggs, oil, and extracts.  Add to dry ingredients, stirring until combined.  Drop by spoonfuls on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 12 minutes or until slightly golden.  Allow to cool 5 minutes then transfer to cooling rack. Eat!




Thursday, October 17, 2013

DIY: Repurposed Flannel Receiving Blanket

When my first two boys were babies I always ran to the bathroom before diaper changes and waited forever for the tap to warm up to warm a soft cloth to wipe up the little bum.  Of course by that time the baby had usually escaped or was really mad.  This time I decided to splurge and buy a wipes warmer (BEST thing EVER!!).  So handy to always have a moist warm cloth on hand to wipe a tush or hands or face.  I also knew I didn't want to use disposable wipes.  My warmer came with some terry cloth wipes that I really didn't like so I set out to make some of my own.

When I dug out the remaining baby items from my first two boys I found a few flannel receiving blankets that quite frankly weren't useable as blankets.  However, being the thrifty mom I am, I didn't want to throw them out either. And now I'm glad I didn't, because those used flannel blankets are the softest thing ever to use on bottoms.

A not so new flannel blanket.

Here's how I turned a flannel baby blanket into a burp cloth and a small stack of reusable baby wipes.

 Re-purposing a blanket into a burp cloth
1. With right sides together, fold blanket half the long way.  Cut from folded edge approximately 14" wide x 18" long.  Set aside the remaining blanket.

2. Stitch the long side together using a 1/2" seam allowance. 

3. Turn right side out placing seam approximately 4" from the folded edge (see image above).  Press.

4. Top stitch along the seam.  Turn your work and top stitch 4" from the other folded edge.  Tip: I use a sticky note as my stitch guide so I don't have to mark on my fabric.  Then I can remove it or reposition it for other widths.

5. Using a over-lock machine, finish the raw ends, trim threads, and DONE! If you don't have a serger you can turn the raw edges inside and top stitch before step 4.


Re-purposing a blanket into reusable baby wipes.
1. Using remaining blanket, cut rectangles measuring 8" x 6 1/2".  I was able to get eight cuts from what was left.  Of course, feel free to alter the size to your needs.  This is just what happens to fit into my warmer the best.

2. Optional rounded edge: If you like nice round edges, you can use a bowl, cup, plastic lid to mark the corners and trim down. Or you can easily leave the corners squared.  I've done it both ways.

3. For double layered wipes layer two cuts with wrong sides together and finish edges with over-lock machine.  For single layer wipes, over-lock a single layer.  With this blanket I made 4 double sided, for those extra messy jobs.

Finished product!

I can't wait to put these wipes in the warmer with my homemade wipes solution (more on that next time) and turn this super thick, double-sided Good Will $1 find into some changing pads using the same methods as above.

Good Will $1 Find



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tutorial: Herb Infused Baby Balm

Now that there is a baby in the house again, I've been working mostly on being a mom again, but have enjoyed creating things for the little guy. I've been making baby food for him to enjoy, doing a little sewing for him (you know the cute hats, little ties, and decorated onesies), and cloth diapering.  Of course, I am making and using natural bath products...baby wash, soap, oils, and baby powders all made by Mom.  

Happy Cloth Bottom

From time to time my little guy gets a little rashy on the bottom end (usually to sampling a new food) and it needs taking care of.  I wanted something that was natural and mostly safe for cloth diapers and safe for baby bottoms.

With a little ingredient research, I concocted this little balm that takes care of rash pretty quickly to keep baby bottoms happy.  The ingredients are few and simple, but each has purpose.   Coconut oil and shea butter both have anti-fungal properties and are great all around skin soothers and softeners.  The herbs are both anti-bacterial, which in turn helps with rashes.  I've added  Bee's Wax to help make the soft oils a little more firm. Zinc oxide is used as a drying agent.  I made some with and without the Zinc oxide.  I like to have some on hand for non-rash purposes.

Ingredients:

·         Dried Chamomile 2 heaping Tbsp
·         Dried Calendula 2 heaping Tbsp
·         Coconut Oil 1 cup
·         Shea Butter 1/2 cup
·         Bee's Wax 1/4 cup
·         Vitamin E 1/4 tsp
·         Zinc Oxide (optional) 1 tsp


Equipment:

·         Measuring cups and spoons
·         Heat Seal Bath Tea Bag
·         Hot Iron
·         Double boiler
·         Balm Pots


Herbal Infused Baby Balm
Directions:

Measure your Chamomile and Calendula flowers into the heat seal bag.  Using your home iron on the hot setting, seal the bag.  You can add your herbs directly to the oil, but trust me when I say this will save you the time and mess of straining later.

Add an inch or two of water into the bottom pan of your double boiler and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, measure out your oils and bee's wax into the top double boiler pan.  Turn your heat down to simmer and place pan of oils over, toss in your herbal tea bag, cover, and let simmer 1-2 hours.  As the oils heat you should smell the sweet aroma of the herbs infusing into the oils.  Be sure to check your water level so it doesn't boil dry.  Do not allow the oils to boil.

After the two hours, turn off heat and let oils cool to room temperature.  Don't let the oils start to solidify.  Carefully remove the tea bag and gentle squeeze oils from bag.  Add in the vitamin E and stir.  Here is where you add the Zinc oxide.  I split my batch, putting zinc oxide in only half of the batch.  Zinc oxide helps keep the rash dry and thickens your balm at the same time.  I like to have some on hand for minor rashes or just to soften skin without the oxide.  Pour into small pots.  I used a thick walled cosmetic jar and two recycled/sanitized baby food jars (for the zinc oxide portion).  Small canning jars would work nice too.

Let cool.  Put a lid on your balms and store near your diapering station or in your diaper bag.

Use liner with cloth diapers





**NOTE:  If cloth diapering, you will want to use a liner when using this balm as the oils can cause build-up that will render your diapers ineffective.  I use a scrap of flannel or an old t-shirt cut, but you can also purchase disposable diaper liners.  Also be sure to wash the liners separately from your diapers. 


Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Bitter Sweet Day

The first day back to school is always a little nerve racking...this year especially seemed to be trying...for all of us.  At four am I lay awake (and oddly enough the baby was sleeping) pondering some of the events of the past few months, years even, that have lead us to the here and now.  Over seven years ago we agreed that we wanted a Christian education for our children.  Living in the size of community we do, we have numerous options, but we elected to send them to the small Lutheran school housed in our home church basement.  Though they don't have a state-of-the-art facility, they do have exceptional teachers who love children and God.

Over the years we've been blessed many times over as we've watched our children grow from timid Kindergartener's to mature, caring, confident young men.   We've made so many great friends both in the teaching staff and in the families that attend along side us. It's home.  We've also watched the school change as teachers and administrators come and go.  We've watched beloved friends move and of late many friends find cause to leave.

Over the past year we've seen the school somewhat come apart at the seams as it tried to recover from the "moving on" and repair the causes.  Sadly we too were in the fold of finding reason to search for an alternate option for our children's education.  It's been months of sleepless nights (not unlike last night), hour upon hour of prayer, meeting after meeting.  Being a parent is difficult--the choices we make now help to mold the people these children are going to become--our future.

As we approached a final decision, it came down to not so much as why others were leaving, the problems the school was facing, what other schools had to offer, the cost of changing schools, or even whether or not the boys wanted to move on (and we did consult them and consider their feelings--neither were too keen on the idea), but more about the reasons we had to stay (because we truly believe we have equipped our boys with the tools to thrive anywhere).

We chose this school because it included daily biblical instruction that would overflow into and flow from our home...it still does that.  We chose this school because of the strong emphasis on academics...our boys are excelling above and beyond what is put before them in the classroom and teachers work constantly to give them the extra work they need to stay interested.  We chose this school for its small class sizes...and while they seem to be a little smaller than in the past, we know the boys are getting ultimate one-on-one teacher time.  And finally we chose this school because it had a caring environment that we believed was not unlike our home where our children could thrive and learn...daily I see how the entire staff has worked to make the boys' lives richer and more Christ filled.  They are loved to pieces.  In short, we had no real reason to take our kiddos from a school that they love as much as we do.
   
I don't know what these boys are doing, but I love them! 

So today as my boys went back to school, it was a little bitter-sweet.  Sad to see the familiar faces missing from the opening chapel service, sad that we've come to this point of change.  But so sweet to see smiling faces of two boys as they greeted old friends and unloaded backpacks.  So sweet to see them as they helped new friends find their way.  I have faith that we have stood the test and made a choice that is good for our family and our school. We are confident that this is where God wants us right now.
 
We never know where God will take us, so we just pray that our hearts are open to the way He will take us, because He will NOT lead us astray.  And as we were reminded today in chapel, sometimes we are afraid...afraid of change...He will always be with us and will guide us if we call upon His name.  AMEN!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Life Happening

Seems like it's been awhile since I've posted...a REALLY long while!  In a nutshell...life happens, has been happening.

We've grieved and celebrated.  We've worked and played.  We've been busy being a family and growing in so many ways together.  It's been a long, hard road that we've traveled.  But here we are, relatively unscathed and hopefully better for all of it. And now I'm back into the swing of new momma-dom washing diapers, finding fun natural toys, and making baby food all on top of mothering two older boys who need me in other ways.

I put aside my soap business for a time (and really haven't picked up full time yet...just a little on the side and some for ourselves).  And I truly mean packed it up and put it in boxes and stored it away!  Who would have thought.  But it was necessary to move into this next portion of our lives, necessary to simplify the everyday and focus on family.  And believe it or not, I am content with that for the time being (although I do miss the creation process).

In the mean  time I'm re-reading soap making books and freshening up my knowledge base so when I do come back it will be with all the mental tools I can possibly muster to make this soap making business grow and thrive again.  I'm excited to learn more about essential oils and herbs, about techniques and equipment, and even more excited to put it all together again into products I love.

Until next time I'll be busy here with three boys, crafting, creating, doing the momma thing. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Winner Announced

Thank you to those who participated in the Egg Hunt and Giveaway.

The winner of the $25 gift certificate and Spring Single Use Soap set is:

Holly M.

Congratulations!!

(I intended to be all fancy and have a screen shot of the number generator, however my laptop is being testy and it is so pretty out......I'm heading out side with the boys for their last official day Spring Break!)


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Annual Easter Egg Hunt

Daffodils are in bloom, birds are flitting from tree to tree, gardens are being planted and it is time for our annual Easter Egg Hunt and Giveaway.

How does it work?

1) Find the image below 10 times in my Etsy shop.
The eggs will be hidden as one of the item listing photos.



2) E-mail 10 listing links to: support@lifesoapsimple.com with the subject EASTER EGGS by Friday, March 30, 2012.
Please don't post your links here. We don't want to give away the hiding places.
Include your name and contact information so I can reach you if you are the winner.


But wait! Once you've found all 10 you can earn up to 4 additional entries!!!


Follow Life . Soap . Simple on Facebook to earn ONE additional entry. Let me know in the comments below that you follow and you can leave me a message on Facebook too! I love to see everyone over there commenting and asking questions.

Share this post via Facebook once per week during the duration of the hunt (prior to Mar 30th). Good for TWO additional entries (one for each post). Be sure to include Life Soap Simple in the status so I can keep track of the links and post here in comments for each time you do a Facebook post.

AND

For a final entry into the drawing, find the secret egg! I'm not telling what it looks like or how it will be included in my Etsy shop, but it will be there! E-mail me a separate e-mail with the link to the secret egg.

The prize is a $25 Gift Certificate for Life . Soap . Simple products
and a special gift I'll be making next week sometime
!! Perfect for stuffing your Easter Baskets this year!!


(**certificate not valid without winning Gift CODE)

Hunting begins Friday, March 16 and all entries must be in by Thursday, March 29.

Drawing will occur Friday, March 30 and will be announced right here on the blog. Winning participant will be contacted directly so be sure to include your contact information when entering your links.


Happy Hunting!


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