Sunday, September 27, 2009

soap bubbles

i've been soaping up a storm lately, kind of in preparation for christmas, also because i have orders coming in!! i'm so excited, i cannot even tell you. (thank you, jess!) it all started because my mom "ordered" 20 bars earlier in the year, to give as christmas gifts for her teachers, and it's snowballed into this huge wonderful selling thing, and now i'm thinking i might as well put it up on the etsy shop. soap would fit in nicely with my random assortment of craftiness there, don't you think?

anyone else who might be interested in buying some, email me (estensler[at]comcast[dot]net) and i'll send you the email about the soap. in the meantime, here is the fun i've been having (with even more to do!):

oatmeal, milk & honey (same as this one)

hawaiian sand - a blend of bramble berry's matcha green tea, plumeria, and cybilla's vanilla vanilla, with almond meal swirled into it

gentle me - the baby soap

cool mint - a blend of peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, and fir needle essential oils. i was initially unhappy that the swirl did not come out as i had intended (i had hoped for a more vibrant, contrasting green and blue) but i like the subtlety.

clean & green - a blend of bramble berry's zucchini flower and lettuce fragrances, with calendula petals. the scent is a lot prettier than i had thought it would be.

buttermilk lavender castile - the very same

sunshine - because everyone always loves this one

if i put them up on the etsy shop, i haven't decided if i'll also put up the cedar & saffron soap that i made before the kiddo was born. i have a lot of it left over and the smell is pretty heavenly (in a masculine sort of way). the color turned out fantabulous imho, but i used a bit too much colorant i think, because the lather is sort of reddish-brown from the pigment. it doesn't turn your skin colors or anything so it isn't a problem, but it could make people think twice about continuing to use it. we'll see.

in other news, i love fall not only because the weather will change soon and i'll get to pull out my cozy sweaters in lovely rich colors, but also because the roses in front of my house go nuts this time of year. i have no idea what to do with them but i must be doing something (nothing) right, because they keep on blooming. occasionally i go out and hack them back and chop off the dead ones, and the pretty ones come into the house and into a vase with a bit of everything else in the yard.

two kinds of roses, day lilies, a branch from the mulberry tree (i think?), some pittosporum, some eugenia, even some rosemary. mmmm!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


sorry, it's not mine. but! i thought i'd send kelly some blog love. she's finally back after a busy summer, so go check her out. while you're there, don't forget to enter her giveaway. she's giving away two beautiful, handmade reuseable shopping bags, so go visit!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

meal planning

i'm sitting on my sofa with my five favorite cookbooks spread out around me, planning our meals for the week so i can plan my grocery list for this afternoon's shopping. i had not previously been a huge meal-planner, and i'm not quite sure why. i'm making the effort now in order to save us money on our grocery bill, and i really like knowing that when i come home from work, i don't have to rack my brain trying to figure out what to make for dinner (baked chicken again? with rice or pasta?) or whether or not we have the ingredients for it.

the other thing i'm really enjoying about meal-planning is that it is encouraging me (and brian, by extension) to try new recipes that we may have otherwise overlooked. i have a bit of a cookbook obsession - there's forty-five of them on my kitchen shelves. FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS. no, i am not kidding. would you believe that i want more? there's a couple that i am currently coveting, but when you already have FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS you try to hold off on indulging that particular obsession because your husband might throw you and your cookbooks out if you bring another one home.

FORTY-FIVE COOKBOOKS. that does not include my five binders full of recipes handed down from family and friends and torn out of magazines. so, there are a lot of yummy recipes to try each week. of course, there are a few trusted standbys. joy of cooking, of course - i refer to it as the kitchen bible. rachael ray's 2, 4, 6, 8, because everything in there is pretty much guaranteed to get dinner on the table quickly, with a minimum of fuss, and the larger recipes are easy to adapt to two people. any of my cooking light cookbooks - i especially like this one - for guilt-free cooking that still tastes good. i love julia child's french chef cookbook though most of her recipes are "weekend" food, not weeknight cooking. williams-sonoma puts out beautiful cookbooks with gorgeous photos and delicious recipes. the chicken cookbook and the pasta cookbook are definite go-tos in my house. and my all-time favorite dessert cookbook, butter sugar flour eggs - just the book itself is so beautiful as to be lust-inducing.

what are your favorite cookbooks? what should i be looking to purchase next? do tell!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

cannot live without my sewing machine.

it's been a busy week or so over here at our house. fortunately it's also been rather warm, so i don't feel guilty sitting inside and sewing instead of being out and enjoying all that sunshine. imho it's hard to enjoy a nice day when you're standing in a puddle of sweat.

the keema alu i made last week was WONDERFUL. so delicious and quite simple and cheap. i think brian was less than impressed however, and definitely less than impressed with my dal. nor did he want to go out for indian food when it was suggested as a possible activity at some point in the future. well, oh well. we might anyways, because sometimes we do things i want to do too. i took a picture of the whole delicious dinner but i can't find it now, sorry.

my package arrived and oh, how i love getting packages in the mail and new toys to play with. i was very surprised, the zorb is like felt. i am not sure what i was expecting, but. the diapermaker lining jersey reminded me of sports jerseys, only not mesh. i also got a half yard of organic french terry, which was a super splurge and i must say i'm not sure i'm thrilled with french terry. i used all of this to make washable soakers for the kiddo's diapers and i L.O.V.E. them. i used two layers of zorb (i think even three might be better) sandwiched between a layer of lining jersey and a layer of french terry; the jersey goes against her bottom, of course, to wick away the moisture. even though it is like felt, the zorb is not stiff, which was the problem with using only terrycloth - i had to use three or four layers to make it absorbent enough, and then the soakers were so stiff it was like putting a mattress between my baby's legs. no thanks. a walking foot (which i have since purchased) would have made making the soakers so much easier, but oh well, she's only going to pee on them. i got 13 out of $23 worth of fabric which comes out to $1.79 each. w00t!

i've also been sewing up a storm, sort of for the new etsy shop. alice's sexy kitchen set was a huge hit at the bridal shower and with the bride herself, and one of her friends asked me if i would be willing to make her some aprons and potholders to give as gifts. i said yes on the condition that i could use the pictures to start the etsy shop, and lo, she ordered four sets! the aprons are all finished as are half of the potholders; the other half are waiting on insul-brite which the fabric store has been out of lately. i am ridiculously excited about the etsy shop and really hoping this takes off, if only to support my sewing/fabric habit. also, my sewing machine? is my mother's old elna, which she received as a high-school graduation gift. 42 years ago. it has been in pretty much continuous, daily use since the day she got it. it's a wonderful machine... but it's old. she had to have the foot pedal replaced a couple years ago, and her repairman told her that it was getting harder and harder to find parts for it and there would come a point where he would not be able to repair it. currently the clutch is slipping a little, but it's only mildly annoying and not preventing me from working. but... brian has been informed that when the elna dies, we will need to buy a new sewing machine, and with the way i sew, a $100 singer from target is not going to cut it. (no offense to anyone who owns a $100 singer from target.) this will be a MAJOR purchase, on the order of $1500-3000, and not something that can be delayed for long after the elna dies. so if the etsy shop takes off, it will help ease the financial pain of buying a new machine, which means i will [hopefully] be able to get a more fun machine that does lots of fancy stitches and embroidery.

also, if the etsy shop takes off? i am SO getting one of these. and then one of these, because making bias tape? is the bane of my existence.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

check me out!

finally, at long last, i've set myself up an etsy shop! it's something i've been meaning to do, and i'm so excited now that i have. there's only a couple things up right now, more to come, but head on over to hannah's toybox and check me out!