Sunday, October 3, 2010

Herb Drying

We decided this year, that we would dry our herbs instead of letting them die in our garden. I sent The Princess out with her preschool scissors to cut the herbs off the stems. Here's the little cutie.

We brought them in and washed them; thyme, oregano and basil.

Then The Princess put them on the food dehydrator trays. Here's thyme.

Sparse, I know. Then there's oregano.

We had a couple trays of oregano. I put them in this order because I figured the tiny thyme might fall through the cracks onto the bottom tray. Oregano would be less likely, and basil very unlikely. I figured they wouldn't get too mixed together this way. Here's basil.

We had basil coming out our ears!

I turned the dehydrator on to 95 degrees. I'll leave it all night, and check them in the morning. From what I read, it shouldn't even take that long, but I'd rather be safe, than have moisture (and eventually mold) in my herbs.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Crockpot Soap

I made soap today for the first time. I was a little intimidated. Mostly because I was using lye, and everything I read online scared the bageebeez out of me! Especially being pregnant, I wanted to do this with the utmost caution. So this is what my husband brought in for me to use.

It's a haz-mat face mask. Ok, I didn't really use it (I found some regular face masks around the house), but I thought it was cute that he wanted me to be *that* safe.

So, I read a little about making it in the crock-pot. It seemed easy, so I went for it. Here it is cooking.

Instead of using oils or fats I had bought from the store, I used some tallow I had rendered from the steer we just got (tallow is rendered fat from a cow, goat, or sheep). I had some tallow left over in my freezer from some goat fat someone gave me a while back, so I used that too. I figured it was a great way to use up the tallow, since I really don't like the taste or smell for cooking. Plus, it's free! The whole batch of soap (about 20 bars) cost me less than $2 to make. I bought some Lye, and used a few drops of essential oils (that I got on Freecycle, so I didn't really pay for those either). That's it!

In the end, it was way easier to make soap after actually doing it, than it was before trying it. Kinda like using cloth diapers for the first time, or making your own cleaning supplies: It's always harder before you do it. But once you try, you think, "What was I so afraid of? This is even better!"

Here's my final product.

I tried coloring it purple (to go with the lavender essential oils that I scented it with), but it didn't turn out too well. I definitely need to work on the coloring aspect. They might look like poop, but they smell like lavender!

The Hot Contractor tried it tonight and said it made nice suds and smelled good. That makes me happy. I was a little worried it would smell like stinky tallow.