#reverb10 – Day 6: Make. What was the last thing you made?

December 6 Prompt

Author: Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project
@gretchenrubin

Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

reverb10.com

I started making soap again. I’ve been making it on and off since about 2003, but I tend to go in fits and spurts. Make a ton of soap in a short amount of time, then not make any for months.

It’s been many months since I made my last big batch. I’m not even sure if Flora was born the last time I made a serious batch of soap. So it’s definitely been a while.

It felt really good to get excited about a non-computer-related hobby again. Of course, I spent lots of time online sourcing the best prices for my materials and reading up on new scents, but eventually I had to leave the laptop and iPhone and get my hands dirty (or clean really, since it’s soap and all).

Here are some of my latest creations:

Massage bar soapMassage bar. One of my newest molds, it’s a large bar and it looks gorgeous up close.

Snowflake soapHeart soap

Guest soaps (smaller in size) with snowflakes and hearts. This was my first time painting the shapes (or in the case of the heart soap, around the shapes) It turned out better than I thought, which always makes me happy).

Fish soap

Fishy soap! The fish part comes from an Ikea ice cube tray. The fish is then put in the oval mold and the second colour of soap is poured around it.

These soaps are made using the melt and pour method. Some purist soapmakers consider this slacker-style soap, which is okay with me. Melt and pour works like this:

  • Get your hands on some melt and pour soap base. This is premade, unscented, uncoloured glycerin soap. Other oils may be added. The fish and massage bar soaps have hemp oil in them, and the guest soaps have goat’s milk.
  • Melt the soap. This can be done in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove
  • Add your chosen fragrance and colourants
  • Pour into soap molds
  • Let harden, pop out of your mold, wrap and put in your bathroom
  • Scrub away!

I haven’t gone over the finer details like how much fragrance to use (important in these scent-sensitive times). That information can be found online or in books related to soapmaking. I am happy to talk more about it in the comments if anyone is interested. This is a craft you could do with school-age kids quite easily. I’ll likely make soap with my daughter when she gets a little older.

Two things I really like about melt and pour soapmaking are:

  • Soap is meant to be used. So many crafts just hang around the house, long after they should be tossed because “someone made it”. Soap can be admired while on display, enjoyed while using and put to rest when you’re down to the last tiny sliver. There’s a lifecycle.
  • Soap is a forgiving medium. I’m not the best crafter. I get sloppy and things never turn out as nice as I would like. Mistakes in soap can be considered artful, and at worse, you can always melt it down and repour it.

This is a craft I really enjoy. It’s easy, quick and produces impressive results. I’m happy to answer any questions you have, so if you have any, leave them in the comments or drop me an email.

I love a good magazine

I love magazines. I’ve loved them for nearly as long as I could read.

When I was a kid, I stealth-read my mother’s magazines – she didn’t like me reading them even though the titles she read were pretty tame. My tween years were filled with pinup mags despite the fact I didn’t recognize half of the non-threatening teen boys they covered (we didn’t have cable till I was past the pinup mag stage). I spent my teens and twenties reading music, teen, and fashion mags by the armful.

Now that I’m in my thirties and a parent, my choice of magazines is changing again, but I’m struggling to find the perfect read. I feel like I’m straddling two demographics: woman and Mom. Of course, women can’t possibly be both of those things at the same time, so never shall the two demographics meet in one magazine. This makes me crazy. When will there be an article about how to clean kid’s snack residue out of your killer purse?

Recently I’ve felt like I’ve grown out of some magazines. I’ve decided not to renew my ten-year subscription to BUST because I think their niche is too small – hipster feminists who like to craft – I’m just not cool enough for that magazine anymore (not that I ever was, but I’m really feeling it now). I still read Glamour, but it’s a little fluffier (with a couple Serious Articles thrown in), and usually a bigger read.

I’ve subscribed to Chatelaine since their big redesign in 2008 and I enjoy it. I appreciate that they cover a bit of everything, but I wish they’d do more longer articles on Serious Subjects, as I think they do that very well. I’ve used several of their recipes and they have always turned out successfully.

I tried Canadian Family this month because I love their blog: Family Jewels, and their Twitter feed. I wasn’t disappointed, and will likely get a subscription soon. I love their down-to-earth tone. Parenting is Serious Business, but it’s also full of funny stuff, and I appreciate a magazine that gets that.

I saw an interesting ad in the May 2010 issue of Glamour magazine about “The Power of Print”. As a magazine-lover, the lead-in: “We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.” really  Has this ad come up in your monthly reads? Did you notice it? I think this is an American-0nly campaign, so it won’t show up in your Canadian reads.

If you know of any magazines that straddle the woman/Mom demographic, or are just good reads, let me know what they are in the comments. I would love to read them. Bonus points if they have a great online presence. Extra bonus points if that online presence works well in a mobile environment.

often

Canada Day Weekend

401 Traffic
We liked this guy's bumper sticker
Wanker On Board (up close)

To celebrate Canada Day, Sean and I visited my parents and sister (who all live in Prince Edward County). Traffic was still very heavy when we left Toronto on Saturday morning. We saw this guy’s car (couldn’t really not see it because of the flags), and saw his bumper sticker, I had to get a picture of it.

Because traffic was so heavy, we ended up getting off the 401 (a high speed, multi-lane highway) and taking Highway 2 (a regular highway) from about Port Hope to Colborne (about a half an hour drive on the 401). We managed to drive on the slower highway at the posted speed limits (mostly), stop at the The Big Apple to pick up an apple pie and lunch, and when we decided to try the 401again at Colborne, we ended up seeing the Wanker On Board car again! So yup, traffic was definitely slow on the 401.

By the time we got to my parents’ place, it was raining so our plans of boating and water-skiing went out the window, which was a bummer. We also discovered we weren’t actually allowed in the house yet anyway; it is up for sale and someone was coming to look at it later in the afternoon, so it had to stay clean. After hanging out in the garage with my stepdad for awhile, Sean and I drove up to my sister’s place to hang with her. We took my dog and my parent’s dog with her, so the pet total at Kyla’s was four dogs, four cats and a guinea pig she was babysitting for the weekend. (Brindell the guinea pig was very cute – he looked like a walking toupee!)

The dogs were shockingly well behaved considering they were gated off in the kitchen for awhile (to keep from bugging the guinea pig, who was out to play and socialize). Once the weather cleared up, we went outside and Sean decided to get brave and go in the pool. He was trying to sit in Kyla’s newest pool chair, but he was having a hard time getting on it. This montage sums up about three tries. Our dog was trying to drink the pool water, and was also quite puzzled at Daddy looking so goofy.

The water was warmer than the air so it was a chilly swim. Kyla and I did not join him. It started to rain again so we went back inside. Now that the guinea pig was back in his cage, the dogs could come out and play. Sean got kisses from Cujo, Kyla’s youngest pug.

Finally, my parents showed up and we had supper. Kyla’s husband Chris was home by this point (he was fixing his race car), but he was zonked so we didn’t see much of him, which was a bummer because he is always fun.

On Sunday, the five of us (Kyla, my parents, Sean and I) went out in my parents’ boat to go to Kingston. We saw this boat along the way:

Fortunately, there was no pirate flags on it.

Once we docked at Kingston, we wandered around the arts and crafts show that was set up by the harbour. When we went back to the boat to have a snack, it started to rain, so our timing was great for snacking under the covered boat. Sean used his new fishing rod, but didn’t get anything more than a nibble.

We left Kingston to go to Wolfe Island for a late lunch/early supper at the Brown’s Bay Inn. Good meals were had by all, and it stayed sunny the whole time which was good because we were eating outside.

As we made our way home, we watched rain clouds wreaking havoc on other places, but we had a rain-free trip the whole way home. We also got to see a rainbow on the way, and it stayed long enough for me to get several pictures with both my and my mom’s cameras:

When we got home, I went with Kyla to go and pick up her dogs so she could bring them to my parent’s place while we went to watch fireworks. However, once she got home, she wimped out and decided to stay home. As a result, I got to drive her spiffy Ford Escape back to my mom’s so I could still see the show.

We went back in the boat to go and see the fireworks in Bath from the water. Sean decided to watch the fireworks from the shore by the fire. He made the wrong decision because once the fireworks started, we ended up being able to see the fireworks shows from Bath, Amherst Island and Kingston in the far distance. We hardly knew where to look! Once the show ended (and all the shows seemed longer than the average fireworks display) and we turned around to go home, we discovered that we could see Picton’s fireworks in the distance too! So we ended up seeing four official fireworks shows in one night. We also saw some mini-shows from people who were doing it in their yards. So we definitely got a better show than Sean did – less mosquito bites too!

Sean and I left my parent’s place at about 7:30 this morning to beat traffic. We didn’t see the Wanker car again so I think we succeeded.

Hope everyone else had a good Canada Day!

I guess three weeks between updates is better than 3 months, isn’t it?

For the first time in a long time, Sean and I had a very productive Saturday on our own. Usually, our most productive times at home come when my parents are visiting and they kindly offer to help us do stuff around the house. We did the following:

  • Finished painting Sean’s new office. It looks spiffy!

  • Began setup of furniture and computer in Sean’s new office.

  • Began cleanup of our former shared office, which is now my own office.

  • Did several loads of laundry – and most of it is folded and put away.

  • Shredded old mail

  • Gathered up a ton of recycling and trash.

  • Straightened up the storage room in the basement (didn’t really get rid of anything though, but that’s cuz Sean did it without me).

It was definitely a good day to stay inside and do all this. Today’s blizzard, as well as the continuing wind chill has made it a perfect day to stay inside and get stuff done.

Our house is far more cluttered than it should be for two people and a cat. While we did have a roommate up until last week, he took most of his stuff with him. The leftover stuff is getting on my nerves though, and I’m looking forward to getting rid of it too. As I’ve been going around the house doing stuff today, I keep thinking “I could have a yard sale this spring.” But I know that by the time yard sale season rolls around, I’ll have forgotten about which stuff I want to sell. So it would be prudent for me just to box up what I have now and send it to Goodwill or something, but I don’t know what their limits are for taking stuff. I don’t want to give them crap that won’t sell there, but may make a quarter from a little kid buying stupid stuff with change from the couch.

But back to my office. The major task of the weekend has been to get Sean and I into separate offices so that we can have our own space for doing stuff. I want to have my computer, books, aromatherapy stuff, and a spot to do crafty things. Just before Christmas, I saw the nicest craft desk on sale in the Canadian Tire flyer. My sister liked it too, and picked it up for herself right away. I decided to wait since I didn’t know that I was getting my own ofice yet, and now I can’t get the desk anymore – it was a special order, and now I can’t find it anywhere. I even looked on Ebay, and someone is selling one there, but in USD and with a pantload of shipping that makes it awfully expensive. So now, I have to be on the lookout for it.

There is still lots to do around here, but I don’t feel like I’m horribly behind at this point in the weekend like I normally do. I guess Sean and I are changing for the better.

Lots of things going on around here. I went out with a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, and we went for dinner and saw Kissing Jessica Stein. We both really enjoyed it, and it was a great movie to go and see with a friend. If you get the chance, try and see it – the story was smart and funny, and while I thought it was deliciously feminine, it wasn’t overly girly.

I also finally bought the bookshelf for my bedroom that I needed so badly. No more books all over the bedroom floor! Of course, being the Virgo that I am, I had to organize the books in a certain way between the two bookshelves I access the most. The bookshelf in my hallway has all of my fiction books, some biographies and my books on career and financial planning (because books on finances and career are not fun and do not belong in the bedroom). In my bedroom, there are several more categories, and I made sure they flowed into each other.

One shelf has health/weight loss (wish I could just say health – buying books on weight loss seems so pathetic), which moves into my books on herb gardening, which moves into my cook books (loosely sorted by cuisine type), which moves into my craft and home decoration books. The shelf below has all of my aromatherapy books, followed by my books on the Bach flower remedies, followed by my books on cleaning out the clutter and simplifying your life. The other shelf that has books on it has my books on writing and typographic design (something I’m interested in but haven’t really read yet), as well as various celebrity biographies. These arrangements seem like natural progressions to me, but I’m not consulting with the Dewey Decimal System to see how they categorize things.

I have two more shelves but I don’t have enough books to fill them yet. However, since my Chapters wishlist seems to have grown to over $600 worth of books in several categories, I hope to fill them up someday. So right now the top shelf has my diffuser on it, and the bottom shelf is still empty. And, since my camera was sitting on my desk, I remembered to take a picture.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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