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

December 6 Prompt

Author: Gretchen Rubin
The Happiness Project

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?


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.

Chores with a toddler

When they want to be, two year-olds are pretty hilarious.

Last week, I went in to get Flora up for the day. I was just out of the shower so I went in while doing up my brassiere.

Flora looks at me and says the following:

“Oh mummy, you’re wearing your pretty brassiere.” (yes, she says brassiere – just like mummy)

I wasn’t expecting that phrase to come out of her mouth, but I rolled with the punches.

“Yup, I’m wearing my pretty brassiere.”

“Mummy, I like your pretty brassiere.”

“Oh, I do too.”

Try having that conversation with a straight face. I couldn’t do it. I laughed a lot about it.

That evening, I decided it was time to wash my brassieres. I was running the sink and pouring the soap in when Flora came in and asked “Mummy, what are you doing?”

“I’m washing my brassieres.” Then an idea hit me. “Would you like to help?”

“Yes mummy!” and she went to grab her stool so she could reach the sink.

I put the brassieres in the sink one at a time and Flora splashed them around the sink. She was a little upset when I would switch one for the next – “Mummy, I want to wash your pretty brassiere!”

“But they’re *all* beautiful. Look at the lace and flowers on this one.”

“Yeah” And washing continued.

Once my brassieres were thoroughly soaked and washed (thank heaven for no-rinse lingerie soap!), I dried them off and hung them on the railing like I always do.

And I was glad that I found a chore that Flora liked to help with. At least for as long as splashing in the sink is great fun.


Saw this survey on Little Odd Me’s Vox today. Haven’t done one in awhile, so I will answer the questions.


Q. What is your salad dressing of choice?
A. Italian, blue cheese or balsamic, depending on the salad

Q. What is your favorite fast food restaurant?
A. I think Taco Bell

Q. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?
A: I love the Keg. I know it isn’t cool to like chain restaurants, but the Keg is always tasty, so I stand by my choice.

Q. On average, what size tip do you leave at a restaurant?
A. 20% – I believe in tipping well since restaurant wages are crap

Q. What food could you eat every day for two weeks and not get sick of?
A: cheese

Q. What are your pizza toppings of choice?
A. Right now, it’s spinach, roasted garlic and bruschetta-style tomatoes

Q. What do you like to put on your toast?
A. butter and smooth peanut butter


Q. What is your wallpaper on your computer?
A. It cycles (using Webshots) between various pictures I’ve taken and professional garden/flower/nature pictures I’ve downloaded. Very relaxing, and I always smile when the pet pictures come up!

Q. How many televisions are in your house?
A. Two


Q. Are you right-handed or left-handed?
A. Right-handed, but both my parents are left handed, so that’s kinda weird

Q. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?
A. I had a birthmark (a big gross mole) removed from my ribcage when I was 13

Q. When was the last time you had a cavity?
A. I think about two years ago. It was my first one too, so I was pissed

Q. What is the last heavy item you lifted?
A. I don’t know – probably the last bag of groceries I brought home

Q. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?
A. No


Q. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?
A. Absolutely not – I’m not living life on a schedule and what if someone made a mistake in the calculation. I’ll be taken by surprise, thanks.

Q. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
A. I don’t have a serious answer for this. All I keep thinking of is “Hootie McBoob” and “Chesty LaRue”. Maybe I should go with something more soap opera-y. How about “Davialla Starr”? (I got that from What is my Soap Opera Name?)

Q. Pink
A. The colour of both my purse and cell phone. They don’t match each other though so I am not totally coordinated.

Q. Have you ever swallowed a non-food item by mistake?
A. I swallowed a marble when I was seven years old (old enough to know better). I found out a few years ago that I did it right before my parents were to go away to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. I was a real buzzkill. Never found out if the marble went away. I wondered a few days ago if it was causing the pain in my ovary.

Q. Have you ever saved someone’s life?
A. I don’t think so.

Q. Has someone ever saved yours?
A. Not in a literal sense.


Q. Would you kiss a member of the same sex for $100?
A. Depending on who it was, I’d do it for free.

Q. Would you allow one of your little fingers to be cut off for $200,000?
A. It’s tempting, but I’m a wimp so probably not.

Q. Would you never blog again for $50,000?
A. Again, it’s tempting, but I don’t think so. I don’t want to lose the opportunity to tell the world about bumblebee’s having an orgy on my deck. Or answer surveys like this one.

Q. Would you pose naked in a magazine for $250,000?
A: I don’t think any magazine would have me without airbrushing me to the point of being unrecognizable. Depending on the magazine, I’d consider it seriously.

Q. Would you drink an entire bottle of hot sauce for $1000?
A. Nope, the after-effects aren’t worth it.

Q. Would you, without fear of punishment, take a human life for $1,000,000?
A. Nope. My conscience couldn’t take it.


Q: What is in your left pocket?
A: No pockets in these pants.

Q: Is Napoleon Dynamite actually a good movie?
A. I really wanted to like it more than I did, but it was just a little too dumb for me.

Q: Do you have hardwood or carpet in your house?
A: hardwood and laminate.

Q: Do you sit or stand in the shower?
A: Stand – makes leg-shaving an adventure in balancing.

Q: Could you live with roommates?
A: Yes, but I’d rather not. Living with a husband, cat and dog is enough right now.

Q: How many pairs of flip flops do you own?
A. None. I wear real sandals

Q: Last time you had a run-in with the cops?
A: I saw some cops walking through the office building next door to work today – does that count?

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Happy, considerate, curious and adventurous

Q: Who is number 1 on your top 8
A: Is this a MySpace thing?


Q: Person you talked to?
A. Sean

Q: Last person who called you?
A: Telemarketer or political candidate – we didn’t pick up

Q: Person you hugged?
A. Sean


Q: Number?
A: 8

Q: Season?
A: Summer


Q: Missing someone?
A. not really

Q: Mood?
A: Impatient – how many more frigging questions are there on this thing?

Q: Listening to?
A: Sean playing computer games

Q: Watching?
A. my cursor flicker

Q: Worrying about?
A. what the test results could be (but not worrying much right now)


Q: First place you went this morning?
A: The bathroom

Q: What can you not wait to do?
A. That’s a secret (and not a dirty one, surprisingly)

Q: What’s the last movie you saw?
A: In full? I’m not sure.

Q: Do you smile often?
A: Yes! 😀

Q: Are you a friendly person?
A: I hope so.

It's done!

The bathroom is done! I’m thrilled with how it turned out, although I know I’ll be agonizing over every mistake and doing small touch-ups for at least a week. But it’s done. Everything is put back and cleaned up and bathing can be done without stepping in a paint can.

The funny part is that my mom phoned me this morning and told me that she had a day off on Tuesday, and did I want her to come up and paint it for me? I shocked her when I told her that I was almost finished the job cuz she knew I dreaded doing it. My mom is like that, and I don’t like taking advantage of it too much cuz it’s easy to grow dependent on someone else doing all the work.

Well, I promised pictures, so here they are:

This was the colour I had in the bathroom before I painted. I loved this colour – it was so cheerful. However, I did a horrible paint job when I put this on, so I don’t really miss it now. Sean thought it looked like Kraft Dinner, but I thought it was too orange for that – maybe Extra Creamy no-name macaroni and cheese, but not regular KD.

This is it! It’s really hard to take a decent picture in my bathroom cuz it’s so small (I’m sitting on the floor beside the toilet to capture this shot). Since the flash is bouncing off the glass shelf, it’s throwing things off a bit. The green is not quite that blue-tinged. It’s very spring-y to me, and kinda like the blades of grass on my Vox banner if that helps. The hooks are a new thing (I actually scraped some paint off while putting this up, so that’s one of my touchups – aargh!)

These are my new sink, bathmat and shower curtain. Again, the bathroom is so small, it’s hard to capture everything individually so here’s a bit of everything all at once. The shower curtain does have some green in it, so it does match. I like the bright colours though – it’s feels so cheerful, and the white fixtures and trim really set them off.

I know I’ve posted pictures of these bars of soap before, but I’m posting them again cuz they look so nice against the green. I also wanted to prove that I do use my own soaps – they aren’t just decoration. (Wait a minute – this picture doesn’t really prove that at all, since they are sitting here as decorations. But I don’t think a picture of a used bar of soap is necessary.)

I’m really proud of myself. I did a lot of work to get things the way I wanted them. Oh, and Sean did help, but he did stuff like holding or screwing in shelves when I had trouble with them, and checking the walls for orange spots (at those points, all I could see was spots so I needed the extra eye). He also did the final hardware store run this morning. Most importantly, he made sure that I got most of the paint off of me – I always get covered in it.

I’m so glad it’s done. Even if there are still touchups to do.

I've been making a lot of soap lately

This is all the soap I’ve made in the past week or so. There’s probably 30 or so bars in there.

Everytime I take up a hobby or interest, I get obsessive about it. I want to learn everything I can about how to do it well. I buy lots of supplies and books. I create like crazy. I make lists of other supplies I want so I can create more stuff.

A few years ago, I got into the knitting craze, and bought all sorts of books, and patterns, but since I was still learning, I didn’t buy a lot of yarn. I even went to a knitting workshop held by the Downtown Knit Collective (a Toronto knitting guild) where I participated in several classes and talked about knitting with like-minded souls.

I never really got past cotton dishcloths and a still-unfinished scarf, so it’s a good thing I didn’t buy much yarn. I wasn’t an awful knitter (see the dishcloth to your left), but knitting just took too long to get results. Since I am a perfectionist, I spent a lot of time ripping rows out and starting over again, which I found frustrating (although not frustrating enough to just let the mistake lie). I also never felt ready for anything more advanced than those dishcloths and scarves, and the idea of anything fancier than stockinette stitch (yarnovers? k2tog? yikes!) was alien to me. Never mind the whole increasing and decreasing bit for sweaters.

Now my knitting supplies sit unused in my deacon’s bench by the front door. I’ve passed some stuff over to my mother-in-law, and should probably pass the rest on to her and my mother and sister. But I keep passing this beautiful yarn that’s on sale right now, and I think “two balls, 13 stitches, and it makes a scarf. I could do that.” Then I remember those unfinished projects and think that I shouldn’t start new projects until I finish old ones. Also the beautifiul yarn is a little overwhelming since it’s usually that eyelash yarn or something fuzzy and hard to work with if you don’t know what you’re doing.

And that’s why I like making melt and pour soap. I can have four bars of beautiful, scented coloured soap ready for shower use in less than two hours. That’s from cutting the base into small pieces to melt to colouring and fragrancing, to pouring in the molds, to drying and popping them out, to wrapping the finished bars. Most of that time is wating for the soap to dry, so I can do other things (like catch up on Vox) while I’m making soap. (I’m so glad that I setup my soapmaking station in my office next to the computer – makes multitasking so much easier.)

Soap is easier than knitting to me. I find it more rewarding because I’ve actually seen myself improve and grow my skills in this hobby. The only advantage knitting has over soap is that knitting is portable, and soap isn’t. But since knitting is next to impossible on the subway (I’ve tried), I’m quite happy to continue making soap at home.

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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