If you’re a Pinterest addict like me, you’ve probably seen more than a few pins touting the benefits of making your own foaming hand soap. It’s cheap! It’s easy! You can control the ingredients!
You know I’m all about cheap and easy, but today, I just needed soap. The soap dispensers were empty, and since the main road has been closed since the floods, the nearest store is over an hour away.
A quick search on Pinterest for “foaming hand soap” yielded approximately 39802938 slightly different recipes for foaming hand soap, so I took a closer look at a few of them.
- The Moms Who Blog take the straightforward, thrifty approach: 1 part soap to 8 parts water, shake gently, and you’re done!
- Melissa at Frugal Creativity likes to use body wash, which she says gives great results – and she only uses one tablespoon of soap!
- But, Glamour Puss cautions to never use “creamy” soap, because it can clog the dispenser.
- Kim, from What’s That Smell, is concerned about unnecessary chemicals in her family’s life, so she uses castile soap.
- At More Green For Less Green, Pamm scents her castile soap with essential oils.
- And Ashley Benson suggests adding “1/2 tsp of Vitamin E oil, Almond oil, or vegetable glycerin” for a little moisture.
There’s a lot of varying advice out there, but I decided to try two different approaches. Here’s what I did:
Method #1: “Regular” DIY Foaming Hand Soap
One glaring problem with most of these “recipes” is that they don’t give any actual measurements for soap and water. “Fill 1/8 full” doesn’t help very much if your container is shaped all weird like mine. “Use 1 tbsp.” doesn’t help if you don’t say how much water you’re adding. So, while you can certainly just eyeball it, I’ve included actual measurements. I like to mix it up in a Mason jar so I can refill my soap dispensers easily.
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup soap
- 1 empty foaming soap dispenser
Combine soap & water; mix gently. Pour into an empty foaming soap dispenser.
Method #2: “Natural” DIY Foaming Hand Soap
Dr. Bronner’s is a brand of castile soap that’s biodegradable, certified fair trade, and action-packed with exclamation points. All-One! My bottle of Dr. Bronner’s is peppermint-scented, so I used lemon essential oil to create a light and clean fragrance. You can leave it out completely if you prefer unscented soap.
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup castile soap
- 15-20 drops essential oil
- 1 empty foaming soap dispenser
Combine soap, water, and essential oil; mix gently. Pour into an empty foaming soap dispenser.
Just look at that beautiful foam!
Both recipes created foam that’s just as good (if not better!) than the store-bought refills. It’s always so satisfying when a Pinterest project succeeds, isn’t it?
Making extracts! It’s super easy to make your own – just take your favorite flavoring ingredient, put it in a jar with some vodka, ignore it for a couple weeks, and then strain out the solids. Right now, I’ve got watermelon, peach, chocolate, and pineapple in jars, just steeping away. Yum!
What can you use extracts for? Well, baking, of course. But since we’re homebrewers, we use them to flavor beers. We’ve got a delicious hazelnut-vanilla English mild in the keg right now. And while I can call them “extracts” all I want, they’re really just flavored liquor, so they make one heckuva cocktail.
I just put together some new flavors (and I actually measured things this time!), so after a taste test in a couple weeks, I’ll put up some instructions.
What else? Well, I broke my favorite garlic press – right through the metal! You’re impressed, right?
I would love to get a new one just like this one, but I can’t figure out the brand. Anyone recognize it?
But what have I really been doing? Yeah, playing with my new phone. It’s so shiny! It’s so fast! It does so many things! I think I’m in love…
So, what have you been doing recently?
A couple days ago, a neighbor told Bruce that it’s possible to grill a frozen pizza and since then, he’s been dying to give it a try. He actually made an attempt yesterday, but instead of preheating the grill to 425°, he preheated it to 700° – at which point, it caught fire. Oops.
So, take two.
Why grill a pizza? Well, I could say that it’s because our natural gas is still out (no oven) or because the nearest pizza place is 40 minutes away – but really, it’s because Bruce wants to prove it’s possible.
And guess what, folks? It turned out just fine.
The crust was a little charred in a few places, but the pizza was cooked all the way through. Next time, we’ll probably use our pizza stone (that we forgot existed until the pizza was almost done), and I imagine the crust will be even better.
Just one note: You should probably wait until the cheese cools down before you tilt the pizza to get a photo of its crust.
So, grilling a frozen pizza? Totally possible. We’ll definitely be doing this again…
Wow, guys. It’s been quite a week.
After a week of the wettest weather I’ve ever known, the sun is finally shining in Coal Creek Canyon. It started raining on Wednesday morning and just kept raining. You have to understand: it doesn’t rain in Colorado! I mean, ya know, it does, but not like this. This was the wettest, thickest, heaviest rain I’ve ever seen – and it went on for days!
The nearest official rain gauge registered the 7-day total as 10.36 inches, but I stuck a Mason jar on the deck on Thursday, and by the next morning, it was overflowing. I’m guessing we were getting close to 1”/hour for several hours.
Our first indication that this wasn’t a regular storm came on Thursday morning. Bruce was just getting in the shower when the phone rang: it was an automated call from Xcel, explaining that the natural gas had been turned off. So, no hot water. Perplexed, we turned on the computer and checked http://www.cotrip.org. Sure enough, Highway 72 was closed.
Then we turned on the news.
Lyons is being evacuated! The Big Thompson is destroying things! People are stuck in trees! Things were getting real.
And still, it kept raining.
We spent the next couple of days at the house, just waiting. We walked around in the rain, talked to neighbors, and brought coffee to the rain-soaked JeffCo cops who were manning the barricade at Twin Spruce.
But mostly, we stared in awe at the amount of damage that water could do.
(Click for video)
The little drainage ditch that runs along Twin Spruce/Gap Rd. was a raging torrent of water. I don’t think it even has a name most of the time, but now it was destroying driveway bridges, ripping apart culverts, and washing debris onto the road.
Further down, it ripped apart the road itself.
In some places, there’s less than a lane remaining. See the yellow line?
The intersection of Twin Spruce and Highway 72 is a waterfall.
It swamped the liquor store and the Kwik Mart.
And ripped off the deck of the old coffee shop building.
After a summer of worrying about fire danger, all this water was a bit of shock. But now, the flows are finally starting to subside, and there has been a steady stream of road construction equipment running back and forth in front of our house. We’re moving into the recovery process, although it’s going to be a long time before things are back to normal.
But compared to so many, we’re incredibly lucky. Our house is fine – we took in a little water in our storage/utility room, but a couple of hours wringing out towels was able to solve the problem. We don’t have natural gas (no hot water, stove/oven, or furnace), but we’ve had power, internet, and clean water from the well throughout the whole storm. There’s only one dirt road to get out of our canyon, but at least we can get out! All in all, it could’ve been much worse.
I posted a few more pictures on Flickr, so take a look if you’re interested: Coal Creek Canyon Flooding.
Last Saturday morning, my Facebook feed erupted with important news – it was International Bacon Day! I’m never one to pass up a food-related holiday, so I pulled a Costco pack of bacon out of the fridge and got busy.
For dinner, we had veggie burgers with bacon (affectionately called “Hippie Nightmares” around here), but the real star of the show was much more extravagant.
I planned to make these little gems: bacon cups. But none of this salad nonsense – we would eat them for dessert with a scoop of homemade cinnamon ice cream.
I had made them once before, with great success, so I figured I knew what I was doing. I didn’t need to look up the directions, right?
Wrong. Some of them looked okay, but they were completely stuck to the muffin tin. We tried prying them off with a butter knife, but they just crumbled.
But as long as you don’t care about presentation, it makes no difference. Bacon-topped cinnamon ice cream is basically the most delicious thing ever, no matter what it looks like. We’ll call it a win.
Update: This project was recently featured on one of my favorite websites, CraftFail! You can read Robyn’s commentary here.
Sometimes, It feels like my thrifting mojo is gone. For a the past couple weeks, I’ve had some rotten luck during my regular rounds.
But then these babies entered my life.
Thrift store Chacos! In my size! Nearly new! And with this very important tag:
Chaco manufacturing used to happen here in Colorado, but they’ve since been purchased by a larger company. And while their current sandals are still top-notch, they’re just a little bit different. My current pair is nearly 13 years old – I bought them the same month I moved to Colorado. I wore them down to nearly nothing and had them re-soled by ReChaco last year – with their original sole, a burly Vibram number they call, aptly enough, “Colorado.” It’s only available on resoles and custom orders these days.
Which brings me back to the new-to-me pair – since they’re older, they have the same “Colorado” Vibram sole. If you’re not a Chaco person, you probably don’t get this at all. But if you are: I know, right?? I was stoked!
Best part? They were marked at $5.99. And…I had a coupon!
Final price: $4.72. That’s over 95% off retail!
So, that’s more like it. My luck has returned!
This past Saturday, we decided to venture down the hill to check out the Denver County Fair. It’s relatively new event – this is only their third year – but it was well-organized and adorably representative of Denver’s quirky urban homesteading movement. We had a great time!
The event is held indoors at the Western Events Complex, and there were 14 different “pavilions” to explore.
We arrived at the Fair just in time to catch the Hot Dog Eating Contest in the Kitchen Pavilion. We ended up standing near the cheering section for a guy named Matt. Go Matt! We’re on Team Matt!
Matt did pretty well – second place with a total of 19 hot dogs in five minutes! Goodness, that is a lot of hot dogs. Fortunately for the contestants, this was a bun-less competition – so you could be gluten-free and still compete, I suppose. Very Denver.
We really loved the Geek Pavilion, of course. I think R2D2 should be at every county fair.
The Boy even got to try on a Stormtrooper helmet from a local costume-making group.
There was a booth set up by the guys over at The Concoctory and I got to see a 3D printer in person for the first time. I loved that there were competition categories for the Geek Pavilion. It’s not just prize-winning zucchinis and pies at the Denver County Fair – they also handed out ribbons for categories like Best Homemade Robot, Best Use of Recycled Materials, and…
Best Peeps Diorama!
This one is MINE next year.
There were plenty of animals at the Fair, too. Chickens, goats, rabbits, ducks…not to mention a couple of black bears and a tiger cub.
You could even take a unicorn ride!
We finished up our day with Digger and Mudslinger, a pair of seriously talented hogs. According to their trainer, they’ll do just about anything for Cheerios.
I’m planning to actually enter the Fair next year – definitely the crochet category, and maybe baked goods or one of the Geek categories. I think Bruce should enter the homebrew competition, for sure. And there was a Juvenile division for every category, so maybe the kids will enter, too. Now we have a whole year to think about it…
I’ve got a thrifting post for you later today, but I had to stop everything to tell you about this yogurt I’m having for breakfast. Seriously. I’m about to write a post about yogurt. It’s that good.
Noosa Yoghurt has been around on the Front Range for a couple years now. I had heard a few people rave about it, but since it’s so expensive, I had never tried it myself. Yogurt’s yogurt, right?
No, people, this is yoghurt. And it’s the best yoghurt I’ve ever tasted. It’s a bit too rich for an everyday breakfast, but this might be my new favorite dessert. The cute little container reseals easily, which is awesome – it’s labeled as 1 serving, but I only made it through about half before I put the rest away for later.
So don’t be cheap like me, because Noosa is absolutely worth the upcharge. I’m imagining it plopped onto a bowl of oatmeal or a warm stack of pancakes…I’ve got plans for this stuff. Yum.
**Note: This is not a sponsored post. Noosa has never heard of me, and they didn’t ask me to write this post. I just wanted to share something I really like. Over and out.**
This morning, I spent my first cup of coffee reading this piece from The Atlantic, in which author David H. Freedman discusses the problems associated with prescribing the “wholesome food solution” as a cure for America’s obesity epidemic. It’s a two-fold problem, really. First, many foods touted as “healthy” may not be as saintly as they seem. Fried kale chips? 300-calorie fruit juices? Not great. But the more important part of the problem is the cold, hard truth of the obesity epidemic: no matter how much healthier it is to eat whole foods, some people are still going to eat junk food.
Sadly, based on many of the comments, some people don’t seem to be getting the point at all! Commentator after commentator lambastes Freedman as being a paid shill for the Big Bad Food Industry. They think he’s saying that fast food is healthy and that healthy food is a waste of money.
No, people. That’s not it at all! “How hard is it to put a piece of fruit in a bag?” one commentator sneers. Well, it depends. Do you already have the apple? For thousands of people living in the food deserts of America, obtaining healthy food is work that requires already scarce money and time. “It only takes 10 minutes to make a smoothie from scratch,” another commentator chimes in. Well, sure. If you already have blueberries and pomegranates and yogurt in your home. Oh, and also a blender. And a reusable to-go cup. And don’t forget a kitchen.
As Freedman – maybe too eloquently – says, “The pernicious sleight of hand is in willfully confusing what might benefit them—small, elite minority that they are—with what would help most of society.”
So here’s the thing: People are gonna keep eating Big Macs. I don’t eat them, and maybe you don’t either – but the numbers don’t lie. Huge numbers of people are going to continue to eat huge numbers of Big Macs – no matter how many times you tell them to go eat a piece of broccoli. So let’s try a different tactic – let’s make the Big Mac just a little bit healthier.
So, the question isn’t whether an apple is healthier than a cheeseburger. The real question is: What’s healthier? A full-fat Big Mac or one with 100 fewer calories? For those of us who never eat fast food, the question doesn’t really matter, does it? But for the millions of obese Americans who eat (and enjoy!) fast food on a regular basis, it could be a radical change.
Now, I’m off to enjoy a bowl of whole-wheat couscous with organic tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden…even though a cheeseburger does sound delicious right about now.
Living in the mountains, we have to be on high alert for wildfires this time of year. We’ve been lucky so far this year, and today was our closest scare yet.
I was down in Boulder this morning when Bruce called to let me know we had received a reverse 911 call for “Stage 1 evacuation orders.” Stage 1 is the lowest level – it basically means standby for further information. There was a house on fire about a mile away, and fire fighters were on the scene.
So I headed home and Bruce stood by. By the time I got home, the smoke was already calming down – our amazing volunteer fire department, along with support from other local fire fighting organizations, had the fire completely contained. It destroyed only one structure – the house in which it started – and never spread to any of the surrounding areas. Thank goodness!!
I wanted to thank the firefighters, so I wrote this thank you note to the fire department.
And what’s the point of a thank you note if it doesn’t come with a plate of brownies?
So, thank you, guys. You really are the best!