Wining Wife®

Because housework goes better with Malbec...

Month: October 2013

Soap! Making Soap from a Kit

For a while now, I’ve wanted to play around with the art of making spa gift items – things like body lotions, soaps, candles, scrubs, and more – from scratch. I recently had an excuse to put together a gift box of such items, but decided I’d keep things easy and try my hand at making just one thing – soap. Wining Husband and I went to Michaels, where I found an embossed soap craft kit and a soap making kettle.

Soap making kit and soap kettle

Well, I couldn’t wait to bust into my kit and get started, but I waited until I was finished with work today to dig in. So, I rewarded myself with an after-lunch soap making session. I was surprised by how incredibly easy it was (it was a beginner’s kit, after all). First, you place some squares of the melting glycerin into the soap kettle. (You can also melt them in the microwave).

The glycerin is in the soap kettle, melting.

The glycerin is in the soap kettle, melting.

The kettle is like a crock pot just dedicated to soap making. Once the soap has melted, ladle the soap into a glass pouring container – I used a measuring cup that will be dedicated only to these sorts of projects. You can then add mica (the colorant for the soap) and fragrance. For the pink soap, I used red mica and gardenia fragrance that came with the kit. For the green soap, I used green mica that came with the kit and brandied apple fragrance I had on hand.

Mix the soap with the desired color and fragrance

Mix the soap with the desired color and fragrance

Once you have your soap well blended, you can then pour it into your mold. The molds I used came with the kit. If you’re also using an embossing stamp for the soap, that will go into the mold first, with just a dot of soap to hold it in place when pouring.

Pour the soap into the mold and let it be until solid

Pour the soap into the mold and let it be until solid (Ignore the mess. I’m a messy crafter!)

After the soap sets and is hardened, you’re going to apply pressure to the mold until the soap comes out. This is easier said than done! I cut around one edge of the soap to help it along. Patience goes a long way here. Finally, you’ll want to put your soap in plastic to protect it until you are ready to use it.

Red soap, one is all packaged up!

Red soap, one is all packaged up!

I decorated the red soap with some cute packaging since it’s a gift for a friend.

Mulberry paper and raffia ribbon

Mulberry paper and raffia ribbon

Then, I made two more squares of soap!

Green soap!

Green soap!

And

This image is dark, but it shows the embossing really well.

This image is dark, but it shows the embossing really well.

Finally, I packaged the soap up with some candles, and my gift is ready to go!

Candles, soap, and some tea to create a spa atmosphere at home

Candles, soap, and some tea to create a spa atmosphere at home

I cannot wait to get more molds and more colors!

Have you tried your hand at making soap or spa gifts before? What did you do? What did you use? Post your tips in the comments. 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cellar, Cooler, Closet: Wine Storage for Every Budget (Guest Post)

Electrolux ‘ReSource’ Kitchen with Domus Acade...

Electrolux ‘ReSource’ Kitchen with Domus Academy – WINE (Photo credit: Electrolux Design Lab)

Wine collecting often starts out innocently enough. You were a server and had to know wines for work. You turn 21, and rather than purchase you a bottle of Carlo Rossi, your college professor uncle buys you a Cabernet that you’re not supposed to open until you turn 31. Whatever your story is, your wine-of-the-month or rare bottle of Burgundy will not survive a few months stored in your sun room. There are a number of ways you can shield your wine from the elements, no matter your budget.

The Basics

Wines want to be a steady, cool temperature, and will be ruined by light, particularly sunlight. While white wines prefer temperatures around 45 degrees Fahrenheit and red wines are happiest around 55 degrees, wines don’t start to “cook” until they are stored at temperatures around 70 degrees. If you plan on opening the bottle within a few months, the warmer temperatures won’t affect the wine too much as long as you keep the temperature steady.

Conventional wisdom suggests bottles are best stored horizontally in order to keep the cork moist and the contents away from oxygen.  However, this matters less for wines with screw caps or plastic corks, though laying bottles on their sides is often a more efficient use of space. For the casual or apartment collector, space considerations may be more pressing than maintaining a wet, expanded cork.

When it comes to space, keep in mind that not all wines are meant to be aged. Cheaper wines should probably be enjoyed within six months to a year. After you open a bottle, white wines will be okay for 3-4 days, and red wines can last for 1-3 days. To recork, make sure you put the same end of the cork back in to the bottle.  Additionally, a longer shelf life for open wines may be possible with the use of a vacuum wine saver.

Storage Solutions         

The most creative wine storage solution I’ve encountered involved the storage of wine bottles in a card catalog. Though this kept the wine horizontal and dark, it couldn’t be used as long-term storage because it failed to keep the bottles cool.  I’m sure someone capable could rig up an in-catalog refrigerator, but for short-term storage—wines that will be enjoyed with a few months—an antique card catalog would be just fine.

For the casual collector, a rack that’s kept close to the ground, in the dark, in a room kept a steady temperature should suffice. Your wines would do even better in a closet that remains around 60-65 degrees or cooler, if possible.  Closets under the stairs are a great space to build a rack as long as your water heater or other appliances aren’t housed there. Excessive humidity rules out some basement storage, though research shows that with properly sealed bottles, the moisture is more likely to damage the label, not the wine itself.

If you’ve found that you’ve outgrown the rack that you built in your linen closet, a wine cooler may be your next most logical purchase. Many oenophiles dislike coolers because they can take the pleasure out of the storage—it can be difficult to find the bottle you are looking for, and you don’t really get to see the bottles. Nevertheless, when purchasing a cooler, look for one that has up to double the capacity of your current collection in order to make room for new bottles to drink later. The best coolers will be frost-free, will allow you to control the humidity and temperature in addition to self-regulating, and will have doors made of insulating glass or other materials that will protect your wine from light and other environmental factors outside of your fancy fridge. In general, a cooler will cost you anywhere from $65 to over $1000.

Of course, if you plan on saving wines for over 10 years, or if the cost of a cooling unit is less than 25% of your yearly wine budget, then you should consider professional wine storage.  There are many companies that will design a custom cellar for the right price, and plans for DIY wine cellars are available online, and you can find additional wine storing tips here. Make sure you build your wine cellar in the coolest, most humid space in your home. I’ve seen many alluring wine cellars accessible by trap doors in kitchens. Even though this would make my wine less accessible, I know I’d derive pleasure from descending a spiral staircase surrounded by my favorite bottles.

No matter how you decide to store your wine, be sure to keep a record of your purchases. This will help you remember what you have, and more importantly, what you didn’t enjoy so you don’t make the mistake of saving it next time.

Jenn Young is a freelance writer working with Uncle Bob’s Self Storage and is passionate about beautifying her home, one organizing project at a time!

Enhanced by Zemanta

© 2017 Wining Wife®

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

%d bloggers like this: