Thursday, October 29, 2009

Homemade Natural Soap!

Yes! It's true! I made soap....not just any soap, but soap I almost want to eat. (seriously!) If you'd like to try some, let me know. The bar above is for my friend Heather. :) It still has another week to cure before we can use it, but I think it will be just great.
If you'd like to try to make your own soap. There are a lot of great sites and books out there that are helpful. Little House in the Suburbs has some great links. At some points I will probably do an entry on diagnosing soap problem and the whole process. But for right now, here's the recipe that I used.

Gilmore's First Soap!

21.5  oz.=50% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10.75  oz. = 25% Extra Virgin Organic Coconut Oil
6.45 oz. = 15% Organic Mango Butter
4.3 oz. = 10% OrganicGrapeseed Oil – 43 oz oils

6 oz lye
16 oz Distilled water

This recipe made about 15 bars, not quite 20 like I thought it would. Here are just a few quick tips. 
1) Your oils and lye solution need to be mixed when they are both between 95 and 98 degrees. For me, the oils cooled more quickly than the lye solution. This is great because the oils temperature can be altered more easily by placing it over heat or by placing the pot in some cold water.
2) Proper measurement is key. Measure by WEIGHT, not volume. So don't measure 16 liquid oz of water, but actually weigh 16 oz out on the scale. You can also convert your ounces to grams to make sure you don't mess this part up.

Happy soapmaking!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Sickness and Soap

Evan has been sick for just over a week. We went back to the doctor today and they said he probably got a viral infection first, and then a bacterial infection on top of that. I say...test the boy for the flu! They say that if he doesn't start feeling better in a couple days, they will. Heavens!
Elliot seems to be feeling much better. Back to his old playful self with no fever. Praise the Lord. I have also been thinking, that in spite of all of this, I am so thankful for the health insurance and benefits we have at IWU. I can't imagine having the stress of trying to figure out whether we could pay to go to the doctor or not on top of just worrying about my family getting better. But so many people do worry about that, or don't even have medical care readily available to them. These are times that I am so glad to be living in America AND so glad that our healthcare system hasn't changed...yet.
On another note, I JUST MADE SOAP...I think. It's out there sitting in it's containers wrapped in a blanket. I'll be able to tell by tomorrow evening whether or not it worked. I REALLY hope it did. So hopefully, by tomorrow evening, I'll be able to offer you my lovely homemade bars of soap. If not, we will be using a very moisturizing creamy liquid soap in our showers for awhile. Because this stuff is not cheap to make. I figured the batch cost about $40, so regardless of whether or not it firms up - we'll be using it. However, if it does firm up, I think I can get at least 20 bars from it, which is definitely cheaper than buying 20 bars of handmade, natural soap from somewhere else.
So look for me tomorrow with an update on family health, soap, and possibly the how-tos so you can make a batch yourself.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Thank you for your joy, my Elliot, and for the delight that you are to my heart each day! You are great in the sight of the Lord, and it is such a blessing to teach you to depend on the Lord as you continue to grow into His warrior, poet, and prince.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One Can of Libby's

One can of Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin....infinite possibilities. Now, I do have a real, organic pumpkin from Victory Acres. However, I'm currently using it for decoration.
I'm used to buying Libby's each year around Thanksgiving just to make pumpkin pie. But I have a confession to make -- I don't really like pumpkin pie. Ridiculous, I know!
I had some girls over from Carmin this week for dinner, and I made them a fall dinner. We had competing soups (Ev made chicken vegetable....I must say it was delicious! And I made butternut squash can find the recipe here! Sorry I can't give you the recipe for the chicken vegetable. My amazing husband cooks without recipes. The girls had to vote on which one was better.) and apple cider and crescent rolls.
"BUT!" you say, "this post is about pumpkin!"
Yes, yes! I also made pumpkin cookies! They were delicious!!! But after I made them I had a lot of pumpkin still left - Just from the one can!
So here's what I've made with my one can of Libby's! Do you have any other ways that you use it?

Pumpkin Scones 
(Sorry, no picture...we ate them too fast)
2 c. whole wheat flour
3 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
5 T. butter (softened, not melted)

4 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup Libby's pumpkin
1 egg yolk

1 egg white

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2) Combine dry ingredients
3) Cut in butter with a mixer, just until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs
4) In a separate small bowl, mix sour cream, pumpkin and egg yolk
5) Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring just until the dough clings together
6) Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead 10-12 times
7) Pat to 1/2 thickness and cut into circles or other fun shapes (we did flowers)
8) Place scones on an ungreased cookie sheet
9) Top with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg
10) Bake for 12-15 minutes
**These are delicious with the Autumn Tea Butter and your favorite cup of tea!**

Pumpkin-Peanut Butter Spread
Mix 1/2 cup peanut butter with 1/2 cup Libby's pumpkin and spread on crackers, an apple or celery. Add a dash of powdered sugar and nutmeg for extra fall flair! :)

That's about all of the pumpkin. I have a little bit more that I'm going to try to make pumpkin pancakes with tomorrow morning, but remember I want to hear your pumpkin recipes too. There's a whole lot of fall left!...I hope.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Consider the Radiance of My Redeemer and His Redeemed

originally posted on Flickr, Oct. 19, 2009 by cookieluver33

Selections from Isaiah 60

1 "Arise, shine, for your light has come, 

       and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
 2 See, darkness covers the earth
       and thick darkness is over the peoples,
       but the LORD rises upon you
       and his glory appears over you.
 3 Nations will come to your light,
       and kings to the brightness of your dawn.
 4 "Lift up your eyes and look about you:
       All assemble and come to you;
       your sons come from afar,
       and your daughters are carried on the arm.

 5 Then you will look and be radiant, 
       your heart will throb and swell with joy; 

18 No longer will violence be heard in your land,
       nor ruin or destruction within your borders,
       but you will call your walls Salvation
       and your gates Praise.
 19 The sun will no more be your light by day,
       nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
       for the LORD will be your everlasting light,
       and your God will be your glory.
 20 Your sun will never set again,
       and your moon will wane no more;
       the LORD will be your everlasting light,
       and your days of sorrow will end.
 21 Then will all your people be righteous
       and they will possess the land forever.
       They are the shoot I have planted,
       the work of my hands,
       for the display of my splendor.

My Son

Elliot....showing off that he can take both his shoes and socks off outside and not get in trouble! We were gardening with Aunt Sarah and Daddy. I just love this boy! He is the joy of my heart!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's the deal?!

I tried but I couldn't find a good picture. I've been trying to tell myself to drink more fluids....specifically water. I was getting to the end of the day a few weeks ago and realizing that I had consumed about 12 oz of fluid. And that fluid was typically a pumpkin spice latte or sticky bun chai, not water. Gross, I know!
So, I've been taking my big water bottle with me to work and trying to drink it, plus I have numerous meetings with students at McConn so I've been trying to drink good fluids there too. 
I am now sitting at my desk with a Nalgene bottle of water, a 24 oz. cherry vanilla ice tea, and a 32 oz cherry coke from Meijer. WHAT?! I must tell you though, the Nalgene bottle is 3/4 gone, I've taken about 4 sips from the tea, and I'm just starting on the coke. Here's my problem, I struggle doing things correctly...any body else have that problem? I could elaborate, but that's pretty much the main point. office is like the spoke on a wheel (the center is the spoke right?). I spend a good deal of time here, but then I go to McConn and get something and come back and then I go to my car and get something and come back and then I go to Meijer and get something and come back. Hmmmm....
Anyone need a drink?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Trying Again

I've been reading more about soap making, and I think I figured out my problem. Well, I have a couple problems. #1 - I need to stick with a simple recipe. #2 - I need to make sure and measure everything in the same state (either solid or liquid). #3 - I need to get a good thermometer to read the temperature on my lye/soap nuts mixture.
I'm going to order my stuff and try one more time. I hope that it will be a success and I can post the tutorial and recipe for you all to enjoy. In the meantime, you can read some great info on how to make soap and such --> HERE! The Tomato Lady just posted some good tips and an olive oil soap recipe at Little House in the Suburbs as well.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Seriously Now?!

I have had quite the week! I don't know about you, but I can't believe I still have another day at work and I actually like my job. Just think about all those people out there that hate going to work every day....Sheesh! was a doozy! Needless to say, I felt quite productive. A coworker submitted an article we worked on together a while back for publication in a journal. Crazy cool! I helped a few students. Also cool. Had some creative and collaborative meetings with my coworkers. And ended my work day by leaving a bit early with a massive headache. Here's the thing...I don't get headaches very often. When I do, they really impede my ability to think and express what I'm thinking.
So I drove home, excited to see my husband and son....oh wait, did I say "home"? I meant that I drove to the war zone at the end of Bragg Avenue. From the outside, my quaint little house looked the same as I had left it. The trash cans still needed to be pulled into the garage and a little weeding needed to be done in the mulch. So I pulled the trash cans up to the house, and told myself I'd work on the weeds tomorrow. Feeling a sense of accomplishment and closure, I proceeded to open the door....wait, I mean I stepped over the threshold.
Enter with me if you dare, oh brave one! I hung up the phone from talking with a friend about her grandmother recovering from surgery to kiss my husband (ahem...I mean, the General) hello. As I pull back from the General's lovely face, my vision of the room behind him becomes clearer. A bomb has obviously hit my living room. The cushions (like the actual seat cushions) and throw pillows are torn from our living room furniture, laying on the floor. An ottoman is turned upside down and each of Elliot's toys and books have exploded from their place in a basket or on a shelf and are littering the room. As I turn down the hallway, I realize that I am going to have to take precautions. Why? You might ask. Well, look around at the debris! The obstacle course of blocks, uniforms (the General and Lieutenant's clothing), emptied totes (the enemy must have found those and dumped them out), is our next challenge as we head toward the corner room. I think there was once a floor in the corner room but the enemy must have taken it! Because I can't see it anywhere. Blankets, pillows, blocks, DVDs, cars....but no floor! Now I'm concerned. I hear music coming from the other room...that sounds lovely!....WHOA! What happened?! Drawers and closets thrown open! The plunderers have hit the baby's room too! Seriously now?! I'd think they'd have the decency to leave that alone, but no.
At this time, the General needed to go to his next battle (work). Lieutenant Elliot was somehow robbed of his clothing throughout the day, so I grabbed him (wearing his sweatshirt and diaper) and swaddled his legs in a blanket. The swaddled lieutenant, the General and I loaded into the tank and headed down the street. On our way the General briefed me on the day's happenings. It seemed that I had neglected to observe the radioactive chamber (the bathroom)...he told me to avoid going in there at all costs. (The toilet and its "contents" had overflowed). Now, I was scared. WHAT invaded my home today?! Seriously now?!
With the general safely on to his next mission, the half-naked lieutenant and I (the wounded Colonel) headed back to the war-torn land. It took us a couple hours to clean up the wreckage, and I had to don a Haz-Mat suit to enter the radioactive chamber.
You might say that the headache hindered my perception of the situation. Whatever the case, I believe all is safe and well now in the Gilmore land of the free, and the General managed to do some dishes in the midst of it all, which made his Colonel very happy. I've still got a bit of a head wound, as you can probably tell from this disjointed tale, but the Lieutenant is sleeping and the General is still off saving the world (at work).

I've taken some pain reliever, and now I'm going to get a drink and a little debbie.

By the way, did anyone else hear it's supposed to snow tonight? Let's just name this place Valley Forge. Seriously now?! That's ridiculous!

Crafting a Green World

Found a cool new website! Check it out - CRAFTING A GREEN WORLD! There are tons of great posts and tutorials. Lots on fabrics and yarns, and awesome how-tos for topsy turvy tomato planters and "earth-boxes" (little self-watering contained gardens).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

About Growing Up

In my UNV180 classes, we've been talking about emotional intelligence. One part of this is recognizing the emotions impact our motivations very strongly. For example, anger makes us want to fight for or against something or someone. If we're experiencing fear, we want to avoid. Happiness enables us to explore, and sadness moves us to give up.
For the most part, American's (and this is a vast generalization) seem to be afraid of negative emotions. So they don't do well managing them. Instead we act like they don't exist, or we're so blatantly honest about them that we become abrasive. When we're experiencing negative emotions, those in relationship with us are either confused or cringing.
But negative emotions are an adaptive function that are a gift that God has given us, and a resource that Christ used in his relationship with God, with others, and in his ministry. He was sad, angry, fearful, and disgusted at times and yet did not sin. And guess what? His strategy for not sinning was not denying his emotions, He accomplished the task set before him by using and managing his emotions appropriately. I'm so glad that Jesus' life is written out for us to see! It gives me great encouragement and hope.
Lately, I've been dealing with a lot of mixed emotions concerning my capacity for growth in different areas and my ability to influence. Substantially investing the love of Christ in people's lives is my passion, by bringing healing, freedom, and the idea of potentiality to their hearts. I've found myself a bit stagnant, just trying to maintain rather than progressing, being more reactive than proactive, operating more out of an external locus of control than an internal one, comparing myself to other people and their circumstances rather than rejoicing in my own. This makes me sad, and honestly, just motivates me to give up.
However, I have had a few insightful and inspiring conversations in the past few weeks that have made me both happy and angry (an odd mix, I know), but it moves me to explore options and fight for those things that are important to me.
First, Dr. Jim Laub in his talk about leadership on Thursday night said that Servant Leadership is something that he believes in very strongly but he probably isn't very good at, or he has trouble practicing. I look at this man and think, "You've got to be kidding! You're one of the best examples of servant leadership I know, and you write and speak on it all the time." His transparency and humility spurred on my thinking though, and actually helped me immensely. There are so many things that I believe in very strongly, but struggle to practice with excellence. Does this mean that I stop trying to practice them? Does this mean that I stop believing in their effectiveness? No.
Second, I talked with Bill about the difference between "inspired annoyance" (a concept we talk about in leadership) and discontentment. He said that the difference is not necessarily the feeling that you get, but what you do with it. When experiencing inspired annoyance, you are motivated to act, to change, to make things better because they're not right yet. When experiencing discontentment, you typically sit back feel sorry for yourself and gripe. So...I'm in a constant state of reaction and maintenance, does this mean that I stop trying to change? Because I'm tired, it's easier to sit back and gripe, but is that really what I believe in? No.
Third, my husband is one of the wisest men I know. He can teach profound truths through simple illustrations that make sense to your mind and heart. We were talking and I was expressing some of my feelings about work and life. Then he started talking about growing up. At first I thought, "Were you even listening to me?" But this is what he said. There are some sad things about growing the first time your birthday isn't a big deal anymore (experienced that, it's kind of sad), or when you realize the things that people used to praise you for are no longer a big deal (like when a little kid starts singing for the first time we get super excited and love all over them, but if they start singing in the middle of the movie theater or at a program we tell them to be quiet), or the first time you realize no one is going to give you a gold star or pat you on the back for doing your job. POW! Was I really being that ridiculous?! I was. I was working hard, doing my job, and expecting a gold star. It didn't come, and I was discouraged and sad. Seriously now?! Yes.
Work diligently as unto the Lord....Think on those things that are excellent and praiseworthy...Do not think more highly of yourself than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgment...Exercise your gifts according to the grace given to you...Treat your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit...Bear the fruit of the spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control...Love...Do not let yourself be burdened by a yoke of slavery, because Christ came to set you free.
Why? Because it's easy? Because I know it will be effective? Because it's in my nature? No.
I choose to be Superman, rather than Peter Pan (if you haven't heard that song need's right brillant rockin sister wrote it).
Why? Because I'm a grown up who believes that it's true!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Going Greener - Cloth Diapering & Homemade Wipes

The past several days have been an adventure! A diapering adventure. Lots of cloth, lots of oils, and lots of trials at leak prevention with cloth diapers. I think we've finally got it going! :) Elliot is now on about day 6 of cloth diapers. We started out alternating between cloth and disposable, and after we received our diaper covers things really started happening at the Gilmore house. We purchased the Bummis brand and are pretty satisfied with it, but I'm also going to try Thirsties covers, and the Gro Baby system for when we're out and about. If you're interested in cloth diapering the benefits are explained well at Sprouts Babywear and there are tons of reviews on products at The Diaper Pin.
In addition to cloth diapers, you can also use cloth wipes. I'm not quite to that point yet, but I did make my own wipes yesterday, and they are working splendidly! Here's how:

Homemade Wipes
10 squares high quality paper towel
1/2 cup water
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Organic Coconut oil
5 drops each of lavender, geranium, and tea tree organic essential oils


  1. Cut paper towel in half, then fold those pieces in half.
  2. Stack cut & folded paper towel pieces on top of each other
  3. Melt coconut oil, by microwaving in a Pyrex measuring cup for 30 sec.
  4. Add water and essential oils 
  5. Pour mixture over stack of paper towel, by pouring on all sides of the stack and allowing liquid to absorb through entire stack
  6. Place in recycled wipes container, tupperware or another airtight container
These wipes have been GREAT at removing everything gently from my son's bum. And the oils are soothing, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. They're also very safe in this diluted form.
So the adventure continues on, but I think I'm about convinced that cloth is the way to go. I'm already saving money and not having to deal with trash cans with stinky diapers piling up that will later go in a land fill.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Late Night Ramblings with a Brownie

Tonight was the Leadership Convocation at IWU! It was a lovely night with guest speakers, awards, food and fellowship. I am now sitting at home, my boys are in bed, and I'm eating a brownie. Why am I still up? Because though I am incredibly tired. My brain will not turn off. I keep thinking about the power of belief and inspiration and how it can both empower and destroy. And what is the difference between "inspired annoyance" and plain old discontentment? And it's really nice that my husband cleaned up the house today and sent me an encouraging text message. And what is it about people in positions of leadership and addictive behavior? Whether process or chemical, it seems that all people of great influence struggle with one or another. Thoughts anyone?

Here's a pretty picture for you! :) ... It's a cloud.

Happy birthday to my little brother!!! I love you Will!

My brownie is gone. Good night all!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Re - Paint Chips

Reduce - Reuse - Recycle!!! So from now on - for any of my posts that have to do with making something that has to do with the 3 aforementioned "R"s - I will be tagging it with a "Re." Not to be confused with a reply or in regards to.
Anyway, to kick this off. Check out the site that Heather highlighted on her blog. It's a slideshow that shows you 50 New Uses for Old Things.
Re-Nest. I love this website! Check out how they made pixelated artwork from paint chips! ACK! I want to do this so badly in my hallway with a huge picture of Elliot's face.


Elliot is pooping...all the time! His top teeth are coming in and it seems to effect his digestive system. I've heard a lot of other moms say that this happens with their children too. But it's been going on for over a week. Four poops a day. Sometimes five. Today, every diaper has had poop in it. And the poor little guy's bottom is raw. I mean raw. 
So I figured, today we're home for most of the day. I'm going to let him air out a bit. (Airing out and lavender/tea tree/grape seed oil baths seem to help a lot). So I change his diaper (and of course, get poop on my pants in the process). Then I think "Alright buddy. Be free!"........So he freely poops on the carpet.

I was very grateful that Evan had picked up some "Nature's Miracle" the other day. It's pretty amazing when cleaning up excrement is a part of your daily acts of love.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

DIY Removable Wall Decal & Planters

SO...I love wall decals. You know, the vinyl ones that say things or make your walls look like a forest. Like the ones here. But they're pretty expensive. I've been using clear contact paper for a lot of different crafts, and I thought I might be able to make my own decals. One problem. I have clear contact paper. All the other contact paper I've seen are primary colors or weird patterns.
So I looked around online and found a place that said that you could paint contact paper if you did it with acrylic paint. After trying it, I'm sure that a regular wall paint would work as well.

Like it?
It's my first one, so I think I can do even better next time, but I like it a lot! Here's how I did it.

Just cut off a long piece of contact paper and paint it your desired color.

Then trace your design on the backside and cut it out.
Peel off the backing and stick wherever you want on your wall. If it's not just right, peel it off and try again. :)

I also worked on a project that I had been thinking about for awhile this weekend. I took my old formula canisters (yes, I saved some. I just thought, "seriously! I am throwing so many of these away! I'm sure I could do something cool with them. They're containers for crying out loud) I took them and nailed a few holes in them. Spray painted them with chalkboard paint and transplanted a few of  my plants that needed to come inside from the sun room since it's getting cold. I'm very please with the results!

Without chalk

With Chalk! :)


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