Sunday, February 28, 2010

Douglas High School Block D Memorial Scholarship​ Dinner

In Memory of:
Those who are no longer with us and have passed through the fields, courts and halls of Douglas High School.

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy."

This is from a Facebook page of Molly. Molly passed away April 23, 2009 after a swimming accident. She will always be remembered for her blue eyes and ever-present smile. “I’m convinced God gave Molly this infectious smile and put her on earth to make us happy,” her brother Pat said.

Molly was a friend of my daughters. On Monday, March 1, 2010 we will be helping the Douglas High School Block D Letterman's Club put on a Memorial Scholarship Dinner in Molly's name and many other Tiger athletes that left us way too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these outstanding kids who made such an impact on our lives.

Ernie Monfiletto is the Block D Advisor. On March 1, 2010 at 6:00 PM he, along with the Block D athletes, their families, and friends invites you to a spaghetti dinner, catered by the Douglas High School Culinary Arts Program, at the CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Avenue, Suite 101, Minden, NV 89423. Tickets are $10.00 each and may be purchased at the door. The money raised will be used for student/athletes that are in need. There will also be a raffle with some fabulous prizes. Please join us for an evening of sharing and caring, laughing and smiling.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It May Not Be Much

But it's the best I can do right now. I'm talking about helping someone out. Donating. Giving to charity. Whatever you want to call it. Whether it be money, time, or goods does not matter.

I learned from an early age that giving is a big deal. With 5 kids in the family you are always giving something up! OK not really the same thing. My mom was a stay at home mom so we were never rolling in the dough but my parents decided on an amount they could commit to and donated that amount EVERY month of their lives so far to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital On their web page it says "Finding Cures. Saving Children." That was important to my parents.

Growing up as kids we were always involved in the Scouting experience, both Boy and Girl Scouts. We would visit old folk homes and read and just talk to some of the people who had no one to visit them. We all went to Catholic School and were involved in many community projects.

I like the Thanksgivings in our adult years that all of us girls would get together and walk in the Walk for Hunger in Sacramento, CA.
And not just because the guys would have all the cooking done by the time we got back.

When I first started making soap, one of the soap groups I was on had a soap drive and we sent over 500 bars of soap to overseas soldiers. That was very cool.

My brother and my parents have both spent Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays serving meals to others who don't have a family to share with, some don't have a home.

My folks were great travelers with the Habitat for Humanity program. They would hop in their RV and drive all over the USA to help out other folks build homes for someone who otherwise would never be able to own one. Two weeks here, two weeks there, they had a great time, made many new friends, and made memories that will last a lifetime. My mom learned how to hang sheet rock when she was 60. She already knew how to paint and wanted to learn something new.

I love when my dad would tell me he had to go over to some old folk's house to crawl under his mobile home and fix his cable for him. They were volunteering at the senior center in AZ at that time. I did not have the heart to tell him that at age 70 some people might consider him old! He would just tell them that to stay young you have to act young and stay busy.

My dad has gone through a lot of cancers and with the first one my mom became involved in The Chemo Angels. That has been over 15 years now. She is still making cards and sending "pick me up" gifts to her chemo pals. Anything to brighten their day or make them smile. I like when she sends a big plastic soda bottle full of M&Ms or other bright candies. The post office loves her. They call her their Angel.

Here in Gardnerville there are many ways you can give to the community. We have the "Ring in Kindness" program being held at Three Rooms Gallery-Felix Pottery every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

My daughter is waiting for a "little sister" from the Big Brother Big Sister program. Their school clubs also have them collecting and donating Thanksgiving Meals, Christmas meals and gifts, coats, and food for the Food Closet of the Carson Valley. The Animal Shelter, The CASA Program, The Boys and Girls Club are just a few of the volunteer opportunites listed here.

With both my husband and myself laid off the past year, things are a little tight but I still try to donate to local organizations when asked for raffle prizes or gift baskets. After Christmas I had an extra $25 and I was able to start something I had been checking out for a while. It is the Kiva Organization. I loan my $25 to another business owner and when they pay it back I can re-loan it to someone else. It is way cool. I have only loaned to one person so far. I was looking for a woman owned business. I did not care what country or what business as long as a woman owned it. I found one and loaned my money. I just got a notification that it was already half way to being paid back. I went to the site and read about "my" lady and the weirdest thing caught my attention. She has the same birth date as me! I had never looked at all the details on her profile, just the type of business and location. I thought that it was cool we were born on the same date. I guess it was just "meant to be." It is fun to track her progress and will be very rewarding to me to be able to help out someone build up their business.

There are many ways to give in your community. You can donate your time to drive seniors to the store or doctor appointments. You can read to people in the hospital. You can teach someone to read through the reading programs at the schools. You can mentor a child or teenager. There are clubs such as the Rotary Club of Minden , The Carson Valley 20/30 Club or the Elks Club .

We are all busy, times are tough right now, money is tight. The rewards for giving of yourself to help someone for no other reason than you can, are indescribable. Try it, you'll soon become addicted. And what a good addiction to have.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You Can't Make Soap Without Sodium Hydroxide- And That's No Lye

OK, a little cornball humor to begin the post.

What is soap?

According Wikipedia, "soap is an anionic surfactant used in conjunction with water for washing and cleaning, which historically comes either in solid bars or in the form of a viscous liquid." And that is clear as mud.

Soap is the reaction of glycerides (fatty esters) with sodium hydroxide (strong alkaline solution). The process is called "Saponification." Vegetable oils (lipid materials derived from plants) and animal fats (rendered tissue fats that are obtained from animals) are fatty esters in the form of triglycerides. Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH), also known as lye or caustic soda is a caustic base. The alkali breaks the ester bond and the product of the reaction is glycerol and fatty acids. Fatty acids in the soap emulsify the oils in dirt, enabling the removal of oily dirt with water.

Sodium hydroxide comes in pellets, flakes, and granular form. It absorbs water from the air and should be stored in an airtight container. It is very soluble in water and heats up to over 200 degrees in a matter of seconds. Solid sodium hydroxide or solutions of sodium hydroxide will cause chemical burns, injury or scarring, and blindness if it contacts unprotected human tissue.

Sodium Hydroxide, or Lye, is nothing to fool around with. Protective equipment such as rubber gloves, safety clothing and eye protection should always be used. It reacts with certain materials so it should only be mixed in glass or plastic, never aluminium.

You might have someone tell you there is not any lye in their soap. Don't be fooled. What they mean is they use a soap base and melt it and pour it into molds. There is no actual saponification occurring in the process. The soap has already been made, with lye, by someone else.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lampworking Demo Makes "Whine About Winter Wine Walk" a Lot Warmer

We had our wine walk last night here in the Carson Valley. Six of us artists cleaned and decorated the store with bright lights, grape vines and luminaries. We just took plain paper bags and cut designs on the sides, filled with sand and put a candle in the middle. We only set one bag on fire so that was good.

We had the white wines chilling, the red wines breathing and the chocolate hidden all over the store. Melissa was at the desk handling sales, Renee was taking care of the raffle tickets and answering questions, Andy was pouring the wine, I was at the door marking off tickets (and flattering the ladies by asking if they were really 21 years of age even though they had to show ID to get a wine glass), Mary Ann was glazing some ceramics,

and Danielle was

playing with fire.

Danielle Reich is "A Self Representing Glass Artist" in the Lake Tahoe area. From her web site "I love working with glass in anyway that I can but enjoy sculpting it most!!! I teach basic and intermediate Lampworking, fusing and slumping, small glass sculpture techniques and glass blowing. My work has been featured in The Flow magazine and The Country Register." It was great fun having her demo, it really makes people stop and smell the roses. She makes the most wonderful glass beads for any occasion. Her web site is.

Lampworking is an ancient form of glass art that has been around since the 1st Century in Syria. It uses a gas flame to melt rods and tubes of clear and colored glass. It was widely practiced in Italy in the 14th Century. Lampworking manipulates glass either by the use of tools, gravity, or by blowing directly into the end of a glass tube. Early lampworking was done by the flame of an oil lamp, with the artist blowing air into the flame through a pipe. Modern artists no longer use oil-fueled lamps, most artists today use torches that burn either propane or natural gas and air (which can be produced by an oxygen concentrator) as the oxidizer. Lamp working is used to create artwork, including figurines of animals and botanicals, trinkets, curios, Christmas tree ornaments, beads and scientific instruments. Lampwork techniques were extended to the production of paperweights, primarily in France, where it became a popular art form, still collected today.

So thank you everyone for stopping by last night and visiting the shop. We love the wine walks held every "Third Thirsty Thursday" during the months of May-September so this was just an added bonus to chase away the Winter Blahs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Let's Whine About Winter Wine and Chocolate Walk

I just bought the chocolate for the Main Street USA Gardnerville's Let's Whine About Winter Wine & Chocolate Walk. I will be in the store, Three Rooms Gallery-Felix Pottery on Thursday from 1:30 PM until 8:00 PM pouring wine and visiting with all our lovely townsfolk who will brave the winter weather.

Wait a minute, this is February. It seems like this is the month that all the spring flowers bloom, the calves are born, the buds come out on the fruit trees, motorcycles galore and then....March roars in like a lion and the flowers freeze, the calves shiver, the fruit trees frost up, and the motorcycles are put back in the garage.

They have been keeping temperature records since 1/1/1928 for this area and the average minimum temperature for February is 21 degrees and the average maximum is 51 degrees. BUT I know it was 60 degrees yesterday when I drove through town. The birds were chirping and swooping and diving and singing!

So dress warm, bring a flashlight and gloves and join us Thursday, February 18, 2010 for a glass of wine and some dark, luscious chocolate. Visit with friends and shake off the Winter Blahs. Cost for the event is $10.00 plus $5.00 for a commemorative Main Street wine glass. Register at the Carson Valley Museum and Cultural Center. The address is 1477 Highway 395, Gardnerville, Nevada.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Some Things I Read Every Day

I was going to continue on Soapmaking 101 but I got called into work the store. So...I am going to share some blogs that I read everyday, for different reasons.

While taking an SEO class from Cricket Walker on the Yahoo Groups I started reading her blog.
She has wonderful stories but the photography she has on her site is incredible. Her pictures grab you and pull you in, some even leave you in tears. She has been pretty busy on the forums for SEO so no new blog posts. Maybe soon.

From her I learned about Pioneer Woman. I have to say, Cricket and I were reading her when she only had 200 to 2000 comments, not the 39,000 she gets now. I have followed Ree for a couple of years now and watched her grow from calf nuts to writing a cookbook. I still ask her when she is coming to Nevada for a book signing.

I read many soaper's blogs. This one is from Australia and I have ordered soap from Patti Flynn because it is wonderful! The scent blends she makes up while on vacation every year, each soap has an interesting story, her ingredients are to die for, and it is such a treat to start each day with a magnificent bar of soap that turns your shower into a spa treatment. She just got back from Korea where she taught soap making classes!

I used to babysit this little girl about 45 or so years ago. She is all growed up now! Her photos and wonderful finds on the internet and life in general keep my coming back for more. Her trips with her mom and her club are fascinating and you know she is on one of her many adventures if she has not posted in a while.

One of my favorite and most used suppliers is Anne Marie. She owns Bramble Berry Supplies and has a fabulous web site with so many tutorials and information I could spend all day there. But her blog has even more information on it from how to make a cake to how to make a soap cake. I love hearing about her and Mr. Fabulous as much as I love hearing about Marlboro Man! She is funny, informative on what is happening in todays world of the bath and beauty industry, and she even has her own Soap Queen TV.

This blog is written by Susan, I know her from a forum I am on. Her knowledge of the soap making industry is from a chemistry background and I am so impressed by her knowledge I have to not only check in everyday but have spent hours going through post she made before I started reading. I just made a facial moisturizer to use on my dry but oily skin based on one she posted. Thank you Swift!

Another soap maker I admire. She has taken her business to a new level and her branding is beautiful!

These are the blogs I check on every few days or if I get a notification email of a new posting. Wonderful information on all.
Tina writes my favorite herbal magazine. She is living a wonderful life filled with nature and I admire her so much.

Kayla of Essential Wholesale is another favorite supplier so when she started blogging I was right there with her. She is a ARC Registered Aromatherapist (my hero), chief formulator, and co-founder of Essential Wholesale and Essential Labs.

Another photographer-soap maker is Moni from up north (Canada). I love her photos.

These are just a few of the blogs I read. I find so many interesting things and I like seeing or hearing how other people view the world. I hope you enjoy them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I Lost A Friend Today

I have known him almost 5 years. A nicer guy would be hard to meet. He died on Friday. These hard times affect us all different. But why would you think your family would be better off if you were not around? I am sad and my heart is breaking for his family.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Making Soap 101

My daughter and I bought a "soap making kit" 10 years ago and had a lot of fun grating, melting, scenting, coloring, molding and using our soap. The local Michaels store and our other craft store had many kits for making soap at a reasonable price.
But....I was interested in learning how to make the soap making kit. A work buddy's wife is the Director of the Douglas County Library system so I paid her a visit and we combed the shelves for books on natural soap making from scratch books. I came home with 5 books and read them cover to cover. A couple were melt and pour books and a couple were the "cold process" method.

I was intrigued by the cold process method of soap making where you mixed your sodium hydroxide (lye) with distilled water and set it off to cool to 100 degrees and then melt your solid oils, add your liquid oils and let cool to 100 degrees. The chemical process is called Saponification and I fell in love with the word as much as I fell in love with making soap.

Off to the health food store for a couple of oils, butters and essential oils and then to the grocery for the rest. I started with cocoa butter, lard, coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil as my ingredients along with distilled water and sodium hydroxide from the Red Devil line. They no longer sell Red Devil Lye at our store, too many drug makers using it. Now I buy 50 lbs. at a time from a chemical supply house in Sparks. They require paperwork and I think that is a great idea! I wore long pants, long sleeves, tied up my hair, put on goggles and gloves, had my recipe from the book and dove right in. I already had a scale so I used a heavy duty plastic container with a handle and weighed my distilled water. Then I slowly poured the lye into the water and stirred until clear. I was very surprised at how HOT the water became, I took the temperature and it was over 200 degrees in a matter of seconds. I put the lye water aside and weighed my oils and put them on the stove to melt. I added in my liquid oils and put them aside to cool to 100 degrees. Waiting was almost impossible and in the future I would cool the oils in a sink of cold water to hurry the process. I added in a little lime essential oil.

Essential Oils are steam or cold pressed plant oils and can be very expensive. I just got an email from an Essential Oil supplier saying they are selling a Rose Oil and the cost is $1129.00 for 16 oz. of Rose Essential Oil. Now when you take into consideration that it takes a LOT of rose petals to make an ounce of oil the price is not unrealistic but I make 10 lb. batches of soap and use 8 oz. of scenting oils so even selling a 4 oz. bar of soap of Rose Soap for $30.00 would not work for me. I don't know any one in the Carson Valley that would pay over $30.00 for a bar of soap, no matter what it smelled like.

My first mold was a plastic drawer that I lined with parchment paper and the soap turned out fantastic. It was creamy and looked just like a thick pudding. I covered it with wax paper, wrapped it in a wool blanket and let it sit for 2 days. OK, I did peek a couple of times. The soap continued to heat up and the drawer was warm to the touch. The color darkened, I later learned this is called "gelling" and all my soaps do this. I let it sit another day and then took it out of the mold and cut it into bars. I let it cure for 8 weeks and then used it for a month. I took it to work with a questionnaire and handed it out to fellow employees and asked them to use the soap and fill out the paper, did you like it, the scent, how did it make your skin feel, did it lather, how long did it last, would you use it again, and so on. I worked at a casino so it was a smart ass group of people so I also told the guys if it hurt their privates don't come to me for help, it was use at your own risk.

I was sooooo happy when later in the month one of the guys came up to me and asked if he could have another bar of "that soap". I was "doing the happy dance" until he told me that he had put the bars in his shoes in his locker and they worked great as a deodorizer. Well, they were good for something.

I spent the next year reading online and as many books as I could find about soap. One site, Kathy Miller's Handmade Soap was a wonderful place to spend hours reading about the different methods of soap making, looking at other people's soap, questions and answers about problems you run into, and most important, online suppliers. Many of the suppliers have yahoo groups and the soap making community on the whole is a warm, generous group of people. They are willing to share information, answer questions, give opinions, and help out anyone who is willing to take the time to learn the art. I continued to make soap over that year trying many different formulas and ingredients until I found a formula that was so mild I didn't even have to use a lotion to moisturize my skin, had so much lather I never wanted to quit washing and smelled so good it turned every shower into a mini spa experience. I was making so much soap there was no one left to give it to and we were running out of room. The next step was to find a place to sell it.
That is a story for another day.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Pictures Are To Die For

A good friend of mine is a photographer. He takes some incredible pictures and has asked me to help him out. He is going to have a booth at the Bridal Fair in Reno this coming March. I went with him and his lovely bride to the last fair they had to get an idea of some set-ups and lighting effects, colors, and just general ideas. We watched what attracted people to what booths and who stayed, or did a quick glance and walk by. We spent hours there doing research, and eating the free samples. We liked the colorful booths, the booths with smiling people that were quick to say hello and easy to talk to, knew their product and had an air of excitement around them. And we liked the booths with FREE samples. We got lots of pens, magnets, candies, and so forth. So my friend decided to give away free samples also. He wants to give away MY one oz. hearts. They are a Victorian Heart and I package them in an organza bag. They are perfect and he wants 500 of them so I have to get cracking so they have time to cure.
My friend is Stebel and this is his web site.

Of course I am giving him a great deal as it is going to be advertising for me. The hearts I make as wedding favors and I have 5 molds and can make 70 at a time. husband informed me I have to tell Stebel part of the price is the picture in the gallery under "automobile and 4 x 4" and then "classic cars", the shiny green Cadillac with the buildings reflected in the side is TO DIE FOR. It is an incredible shot and my husband really loves it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This is what I do.

I have posted a few pictures of the Carson Valley, a few of Three Rooms Gallery-Felix Pottery, but I have not shown you what I do.

I made the Heart Soaps for a wedding.

My normal everyday soap looks like this.This soap is made with Lavender Essential Oil. I have been working on the apperance of my soap. I want it to look interesting, not just smell and feel fantastic.

This is Bay Rum.

It smells just like the men's aftershave lotion.

This is Cucumber Melon.

The scent is a fruity melon and green cucumber blend. The light floral notes are jasmine, lavender, and lilac. The base note is a soft woody musk.

This soap shows how fun it is to make. I was trying to get 3 colors of straight lines but when I poured in the final color, this is what I got.
I call it my Salvador Dali soap scented in Coconut Lime Verbena.

This is how the soap looks when I take it out of the molds. I make 50 bars of a scent at a time.

This is made with Peppermint, Orange, and Rosemary Essential Oils.

This is my curing rack for some of my soap.

I am a little out of control with scents. I LOVE them so I have a lot. Hand made soap made the cold process way (I will go into more detail on how soap is made in the next few posts. I will also share my favorite suppliers ) should cure 4-6 weeks. The longer a soap cures the harder it becomes. The benefit of harder soap is that is lasts a lot longer.

This is the last soap I made. The scent is Sun Kissed Currant. I was trying to get a warm yellow color with a dark red sun. It turned out just the way I pictured it. I love when that happens.
What do you think? Does it look like the sun to you?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Did You See That Moon The Other Night?

I think The Carson Valley has the biggest sky. Why aren't we "the big sky state"? Elevation is 4751 feet above sea level. On a clear night, of which there are many, you can see the man in the moon's eyelashes. I took a few shots of the full moon drifting in and out of the wispy clouds.

I love living in Gardnerville.