Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Shanny Bananny's Choco-Macaroon Lotion

     I finally wrote down how I make my natural lotion bars. Lotion bars is a misnomer, because I found them too melty to truly use as a bar, so I put them in a jar.  I like them to be sort of firm, but easily warmed by the fingers to allow it to be applied evenly. I also use this for my hair pomade and have found that using it on my eczema soothed it enough that I did not have to keep using cortisone. Since the eczema is around my eyes, that was major! The cortisone thins the skin and can cause glaucoma when used near the eyes.  This lotion has caused no side effects, other than smoothing out some wrinkles a little! I also keep some around to use as a foot lotion, which prevented any heel cracks this winter! The beeswax really seals in the moisture and when used on frequently washed hands, helps provide a water-resistant seal which seriously prevents cracking. Did I mention that this is a great lip balm also? Yes, this is a great all around product, which i love, love, love because less waste is generated by having to buy less individual products. I save the containers, clean and boil them and reuse them with the next batch. Also, this smells like chocolate macaroons, without adding any fragrance! I highly recommend the Nutiva coconut oil, It smells and tastes wonderful. I got an excellent price on amazon for it.
          This is so easy! If you can make microwave oatmeal, you can do this. If you can't find these products locally, they are easily found online. I use a postal scale to weigh my ingredients, but I didn't when I first made it, I just eyeballed it. If I felt it was too firm or too soft, all I did was reheat it and add more of the coconut oil (to soften it) or the beeswax (to firm it up).

recipe:     Simply melt equal portions of the following, gently stir, pour into containers and allow to cool.  
                                             * BEESWAX
                                             * COCOA BUTTER
                                             * COCONUT OIL
Here's how I did it. I used 7.5 oz. of each. Why 7.5 oz.? No reason at all, just seemed like the right amount for the containers I had, and I nailed it, down to the last drop.

This stuff is hard!

whack it with a hammer! Or just get it in pellet form :)

Weigh out the beeswax if you have a scale.

I keep a clean can that I use only for melting my beeswax. I put a little water in a sauce pan and place the can in it. Be careful not to get water in the beeswax, I'm sure it won't be good.

Serve up some cocoa butter, mmmmmm, chocoriffic smell!

Same for the coconut oil. This is starting to smell heavenly already!

Put the coconut oil and cocoa butter in a microwave safe bowl and melt it in the microwave, stirring every minute until melted.

This is good stuff!

cocoa butter and coconut oil are melted

So is the beeswax, which I pour into the coconut oil/cocoa butter mixture and stir until blended.

Simply piur into your containers and allow to cool.

Voila! Pretty as can be, natural, gentle and smells good enough to eat!

Knitting A Four Seasons Cowl

     This is a pattern I came up with because I wanted a cowl that would be good for my sister-in-love since she lives in a warm, sunny place. The more I thought about it, a cowl that could be worn all year was a good idea, why limit yourself to just the cold months. I love lacy looks, but really was hungry for a knit that worked up quickly without a lot of change ups. This is so simple, a new knitter could definitely tackle this project. Plus, this is a one skein wonder, larger skeins can yield two cowls! This is knit in the round, so no seaming needed! Yeah!

Four Seasons Cowl in double strands of fingering weight yarn. I don't know what it is because I purchased a large bag with about 6 skeins in it, sold as "mill ends". My local craft store features these for $4-$5 a large bag. Eco-frugal!

 Use yarn with a nice drape, can use 2 strands held together if using fingering weight. The thinner the yarn, the more lacier this turns out. works up fast! Keep your tension loose. Cast on more stitches for a looser cowl. Add extra sets of rows 6-10 if you want it fuller...Have fun with it!

Cast On loosely with long tail cast on for 81 stitches on US 10 circular needles. Join for knitting in the round, being sure that the stitches have not twisted (double-check!)
Row 1: knit all stitches
Row 2: Purl all stitches
Row 3: knit all
Row 4:Purl all
Row 5: knit all

Rows 6 and 7: knit all
Row 8: (YO, K2TOG, K) repeat this until row is finished.
Rows 9 and 10: knit all

Rows 11-50: Repeat rows 6-10 in order for a total of 8 more times

Row 51: knit all
Row 52: Purl all
Row 53: knit all
Row 54: Purl all
Row 55: Knit all
Bind off loosely and enjoy!

What I love about this pattern is how different it looks with different yarns. Worsted weight will give you a denser knit. Striping yarn in an ombre effect is fabulous! My fave drape was when I used SPA from in the color ocean spray. I made those for gifts this Christmas and never took a picture! Shame on me because it is gorgeous.

Done in single strand of caron simply soft, maybe the color is pagoda?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What's new at the Zoo, er...Hoffman Haus

One of my favorite blogs, Soule Mama (written by a fave author, Amanda Blake Soule-- do check out her books, and her magazine, Taproot) does this "Right now" feature, which I love. So, I, of course, must also try it.

Right now, I am...
:: listening to the birds chirping. Spring is here!
:: eating seeds like it is a full time job. Sunflower, chia, flax and hemp. Can't get enough!
:: feeling weirded out by how warm it was. I can't believe everything that is blooming already. The boys each have a tree planted in their honor and are enjoying seeing them covered in blossoms.
:: working on a major cleaning job that I am procrastinating on like you wouldn't believe.

:: loving that the boys are into building Legos of video games rather than playing them (mainly due to being grounded from them for right now. Caught them playing "pong" with a ball the other day. Vlad made paper pacman too. They are hardcore addicts)   
:: appreciating my sweetheart for all the little things he does, especially for giving Wolf his piano lessons. Especially since I don't know how to play piano.
:: dreaming of a vintage metal glider for my front porch.
:: plotting How to finish our homeschooling for the year before our trip to see my Mom.
:: enjoying kale chips that we made tonight.   
:: thinking about the blender soap I made.  I was inspired by this blog, Homespun Living. I made olive oil castile soap-- only 3 ingredients! It will be done curing in about 2 weeks, I can't wait to try it! This has got to be the easiest and fastest way to make soap from scratch!

:: knitting a super stripey outrageously cute pair of socks for myself with the tiniest knitting needles yet. 
:: looking for a good explanation for why I made a felt goomba after a night with only 30 minutes of sleep. The boys talked me into it by finding some British guy's tutorial, and they helped me make it. I am a sucker for requests to be creative. Afterwards, they commented, "It sort of doesn't look too much like a goomba." I'll need to increase my on-the-fly plushie creating skills. Apparently.

:: treasuring Olivia's artistic endeavors, which mainly feature her coloring herself.  But, oh how she loves it!
:: feeling like I have a revolving lap. Seriously, there is never a time when my lap is empty, there is always a new child or creature to jump up as soon as it becomes available. I think I'll get a shelf installed so I can hold small humans and poodles whilst standing. Oh, wait, I already have that. It's called a gut.

:: planning a day of birthday in honor of Matty's birthing-day! Hip, hip, hooray!
:: wishing I would never see another ant in my house again. Last year they were horrible. They are back already since the weather was warm. Ugh. We had to have an exterminator come 2 or 3 times last year. I hate pesticides. But, I can't have them eating my house. Bastardo ants. At least this time they ate the poison and have stopped coming out. But will it last? Or will it be night of the living ants? Zombie ants are the worst!

::chuckling about an overheard conversation -- Wolfie must have taken some lego creation of Vlad's and V was livid. We hear him say through clenched teeth," That's it, Wolfie! You are in peril!"
Also,Wolfie is very anti-potty humor while Vlad is pro-potty humor 110%. Imagine Vlad's delight when Wolfie embarrassingly called a rectangle a rectal angle during a math lesson. 

::partaking in A homeschool dance! It was great fun and one of Wolf's friends from music class was there so it was extra fun! Check out these videos! (email subscribers can click links)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Saint Lego's Shrine

This shrine sits right by my shrine to the Man with the yellow hat. Because dinner ain't gonna cook itself. Thank goodness for the miracles performed by these gracious Saints.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A new book review form for homeschooling (grades K-2)

I have been wanting a way to keep track of what the kids read. I wanted a simple form that will cover some of the basic things that we talk about when we finish reading a book. We usually spend time talking about the beginning, middle and end. We talk about the conflicts (in a very basic way) the characters face. We talk about how the story makes us feel, which characters would we like to be and if any of the story reminds us of things in our own lives or in other stories/movies/etc.. I wanted the form to be basic enough that a first grader could complete it, but certainly a parent could write in dictated answers by children not ready to write (like Vlad). This is my first attempt, sure to be fiddled with as we use it! Do you have anything similar you use?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wolfie is en fuego.

Wolf has developed a serious thing for creating stop motion "vids" as he calls them. He started with directing me to photograph a stuffed animal that he scripted. He has progressed now to writing the stories, building the sets and doing his own photography. He needs help with setting up the animation, but he comes up with what to write, sound effects and soundtracks. This has really turned into something he is quite proud of, which makes me so happy. Check out his latest offerings which are becoming more and more of his own productions. I can't wait until he can do one totally on his own.
p.s. He is loving the weird little jokes in the credits. They crack him up!

p.s.s. He has found a way to incorporate his beloved video games into his life even when he has blown through his alotted tokens for the day-- recreate the games in Legos!

Sippy Cup Hack!

     I am trying to purge some stuff around the house, but I haven't been very successful, mainly because it sounds like a lot of work and I just don't want to work any harder. Ever feel like that? At some point in the near future, I will be doing something when an avalanche of house crap will smother me and I will make some promise to the gods of Good Housekeeping that if they get me out alive I will mend my junky ways. I will emerge from the debris with my cape waving behind me and tear through my house like a clutter-busting super hero! Or not.
     At any rate, I have been looking for safe affordable cups for the kids that minimize the chances for spills because my kids spill like it is their full-time job. So, I came up with this eco-frugal hack. I have small jelly jars left from my daughter's wedding. I had some BPA free lids that came with some bowls and I never use them. So I traced the inner lids onto the plastic lids and cut them out. I hate plastic, but the drinks don't touch the tops really, they are BPA free, and they were on hand, so there you go. A paper hole puncher makes the perfect hole for my GLORIOUS Stainless steel straws.  Then  I realized that by using the original lid and packing the other lid, I can actually keep these in a cooler for picnics/outings. And, I do know that canning lids contain BPA, but I am working on  a replacement that doesn't. I have found these:
Tattler Reusable Regular Canning Lids and Rubber Rings - 12 PackWhich are BPA free, but still plastic. Same for these

If anyone has found a better replacement for canning lids, please do pass them on!