Freebie Friday! (Plus New Products Review)

Can you believe that it is not only the last day of November but also Friday? Before I move on the giveaway of the week, I would like to share our newest products with you. We have added LOTS over the past three weeks and they all are so exciting! If you haven’t checked out the New Products section of the catalog recently, then you should.

NEW FRAGRANCES!

French Lime Blossom Fragrance: This fragrance is a wonderful floral that brings the idea of classic elegance and timeless appeal to mind. Fresh and light, this floral brushes past you on a soft breeze that whispers “Spring” in your ear. Touches of violet and wild lily mix with the linden blossom giving this fragrance that bit of grace that makes us think of a European garden with linden trees and perhaps … a kiss of romance.

Rhubarb and Sugar Cane Fragrance: When I was a teen, my parents picked up a DVD of some Petticoat Junction episodes. My sister and I enjoyed that DVD, but our favorite episode was “Kate’s Recipe for Hot Rhubarb.” This fragrance may not have much common with Petticoat Junction, but it is a yummy scent that is fun and energizing! A delicious concoction of grapefruit, pomelo and pomegranate topped off with black currants and a floral spray of white lily and pink roses. Perfect to give your day a energetic start. Can you hear that morning wake up call?

Vanilla Yogurt Fragrance Oil: Don’t think of your morning breakfast before smelling this fragrance! Vanilla and cream are the focus of the fragrance but there is tang twisted with a hint of citrus and caramel and the whole medley is topped off with a little bit of sugar like sweetness.

NEW FLAVOR!

Chocolate Bacon Flavor Wax: The popularity of chocolate and bacon flavored foods and treats hasn’t faded away. So many of our customers have requested this flavor for lip balms and I’m excited to say that it is back in the catalog due to popular demand! Smokey, salty bacon with a delicious chocolate. Can you just say yum? Watch this flavor fly off your shelves!

NEW BOTANICALS!

Alkanet Root Powder: A botanical that is often used to color soaps a deep red color. Color can vary from blue gray to dark purple depending on the amount of color. CHALLENGE! Submit a photograph of your soaps using this botanical as a colorant and we will send you a goody box!

Annatto Seed Powder: Another botanical used to color soaps, it can give your soaps a color range of yellow to orange. CHALLENGE! Submit a photograph of your soaps using this botanical as a colorant and we will send you a goody box!

Hibiscus Flowers: Recently, I’ve made a few blogs posts with Hibiscus Flowers. We now carry these wonderful blossoms so you can make your own tub teas, masks, and foot scrubs!

Madder Root Powder: History notes that Madder Root has been used a source of a red dye for cloth. Now we carry this botanical to give your soaps a red brown or warm red color! CHALLENGE! Submit a photograph of your soaps using this botanical as a colorant and we will send you a goody box!

Orange Peel Powder: Want to add a little extra exfoliation to your soap? Try Orange Peel Powder and I think you will find your kitchen will have a new favorite soap! Where else would you use our luscious Orange Peel Powder?

Safflower Powder Don’t think of cookin and Safflower Oil! Think soap colored with Safflower Powder! CHALLENGE! Submit a photograph of your soaps using this botanical as a colorant and we will send you a goody box!

Spirulina Powder: Spirulina is a powder from a blue green algae that will add a green and brown color to your soaps. I think soaps made with this would be pretty and easily play into an ocean theme. CHALLENGE! Submit a photograph of your soaps using this botanical as a colorant and we will send you a goody box!

NEW MOLDS!

We have added several molds to our molds collection and each one is adorable in its own way. Here is the picture list of our newest molds! (It’s because pictures are worth 1000 words!)


Celtic Round Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Fleur de lis Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Honeybee Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Floral Ovals Soap Mold
Dimensions: 3.5 x 2.5 x 1.125 inches
Number of Cavities: 3, 1 cavity per design
Ounces: approx 3.75

Leaf Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Lotus Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Shell Wax Tart Mold
Dimensions: 1.25 X 0.5 inches
Number of Cavities: 9
Ounces: approx 0.25 oz wax per cavity

Lavender Guest Bar Mold
Dimensions: 3.5 x .5 x 1.0 inches
Number of Cavities: 4
Ounces: approx 2.25

NEW GIFTS & TEAS!

We have added a collection of chocolate bars from Vosges Haut Chocolat! (Can I actually get away with text speak for once?) OMG! These are to die for! They are so yummy! Yes, I am truly this excited and I did break the grammar rules regarding exclamation points. I feel that those just help get my point across!

The Barcelona Exotic Chocolate Bar is a deep milk chocolate bar with Fleur de Sel Grey sea salt and roasted almonds. Guided tasting notes accompany this bar of bliss.

The Blood Orange Caramel Chocolate Bar is 70& cacao dark chocolate bar filled with a soft burnt sugar caramel and mixed with sweet blood orange puree juxtaposed to bitter aperitif Campari® and tart hibiscus that will captivate your palate.

The Caramel Toffee Exotic Chocolate Bar is made with a deep milk chocolate with pieces of buttery toffee, walnuts and pecans.

The Cherry Rooibos Exotic Chocolate Bar is a deep milk chocolate flavored with rooibos tea and then Michigan cherries are a soft contrast that makes this bar yummy!

I just talked about chocolate and bacon! Well, you can eat it too! We have Mo’s Bacon Milk Exotic Chocolate Bar and Mo’s Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar. Both chocolate bars contain sulfite-free hickory smoked bacon and alderwood smoked salt. The milk chocolate bar is 45% cacao and the dark chocolate bar is 62% cacao!

The Naga Exotic Chocolate Bar is a deep milk chocolate bar flavored with the spices that make the sweet curries in Northeast India and then coconut is added to balance this world traveling chocolate bar.

The Organic Peanut Butter Bonbon Chocolate Bar is a deep milk chocolate bar filled with peanut butter and then flavored with pink Himalayan salt and Maldon salt. Yum!

The Pink Himalayan Crystal Salt Caramel Bar is a dark chocolate bar filled with a burnt sugar caramel that has been salted with Pink Himalayan salt. A complimentary bar all around!

TheRed Fire Caramel Exotic Chocolate is a dark chocolate bar filled with a burnt sugar caramel that had been poured over dried chilies. Smooth, spiced and oozing, this chocolate bar speaks of the very origins of chocolate!

Brave Orange Caramel Rooibos Tea: This herb tea has the bright freshness of sweet oranges atop the rich, velvety flavor of caramel. A smooth base of caffeine-free, healthy rooibos adds body and can stand up to a splash of milk or be cooled and served over ice. This spirited cup is a treat for any journey.

Madagascar Vanilla Extract: Vanilla is a SERIOUS staple in my kitchen as a baker. I don’t know what I would do without it! Now you can also add vanilla to your orders as a freebie or as a purchased item!

Whew! I’m done reviewing all the new products! (For now. Just wait, the R&D team will come up with more items to be released!)


Now, onto this week’s giveaway! This week we are giving away some fun items! This week’s goodies include 2 lbs of Extra Large Size Salt, 1 fl oz of Vanilla Yogurt Fragrance, and a partial bottle of Posh Petals Fragrance!

The winner for this week is … Wanda! Congratulations! I will be sending you an e-mail for your mailing address. Your treasure box will be sent out on Monday!

Remember, if you comment any time during the week, you are automatically entered into the Freebie Friday Drawing.

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Shea Butter Lip Scrub

I love lip scrubs! They are my favorite way to pamper myself and so easy to make. If you don’t believe me, our blog now has 8 recipes for lip scrubs! Because lip scrubs are so fast and easy to make, I decided to show that you don’t need lots of ingredients to make these lip scrubs. Let’s go check out the ingredients I chose for this recipe!Sugar: To have a lip scrub, one must use an exfoliant and sugar is the kinder exfoliant to the lips. (Salt can sting if you have chapped lips.)

Shea Butter: I wanted to use Shea Butter to give the lip scrub a cream feel as well as a low odor impact on the finished product.

Peach Kernel Oil: I chose Peach Kernel Oil for this lip scrub for the light feel it has as I didn’t want any lips to feel like there were heavy weights on them!

Vitamin E Acetate: I wanted to extend the shelf life of this product by slowing the oxidation process. Vitamin E Acetate was my first choice!

I flavored this lip scrub with Natural Vanilla Oil and sweetened it with our Sugar Baby Flavor Oil. Trust me, it is fabulously yummy! Let’s go make some now!

Collect needed items:

Ingredients
Sugar
Shea Butter
Peach Kernel Oil
Vitamin E Acetate
Natural Vanilla Oil
Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Equipment
Scale
Transfer Pipettes
Microwave safe container
Food Processor*See Notes*
Spoons
10 mL Lip Balm Jars

Recipe: (Makes 100 grams or 3.53 ounces)

Recipe in ounces:
2.29 ounces Sugar
0.71 ounces Shea Butter
0.35 ounces Peach Kernel Oil
0.04 ounces Vitamin E Acetate
0.07 ounces Natural Vanilla Oil
0.07 ounces Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Recipe in grams:
65 grams Sugar
20 grams Shea Butter
10 grams Peach Kernel Oil
1 grams Vitamin E Acetate
2 grams Natural Vanilla Oil
2 grams Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Recipe in Percentages:
65% Sugar
20% Shea Butter
10% Peach Kernel Oil
1% Vitamin E Acetate
2% Natural Vanilla Oil
2% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil

Weigh all of the ingredients into the food processor bowl. Gently pulse the ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Once the scrub is mixed together, fill the jars and cap.

Notes:
If you want to make a small batch, you can easily use a small personal blender like I did for these photos. I used a food processor attachment for a stick blender.

How do I use this?:
I’ve been asked over the phone about how I use a lip scrub, so here is how I use a lip scrub. Scoop a pea sized amount out of the jar. Using your finger, rub the scrub over your lips. Don’t scrub too much, or you can irritate your lips. Now you can either wipe your lips off, or lick them! Apply a lip balm and now you have pampered your lips!

This simple lip scrub is very reminiscent of holiday baked goods and a perfectly sweet way to exfoliate your lips. I hope you enjoy this scrub as much as I do!

Enjoy!

Finished lip scrub in sample jars.
Weighing ingredients.
Weighing ingredients in the food processor bowl.

The food processor attachment for our stick blender.
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Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Simple Shea Butter Lip Balm

As the weather is changing, I have find my lips are trying to dry out and chap. The recent series, Starting with an Empty Cupboard, inspired me to make a lip balm and KISS (Keep it simple, Sue). I decided to go look at my newly filled cupboard and find some ingredients to make a simple, yet indulgent lip balm. Let’s see what fun ingredients I found!

Filtered Beeswax: I’ve been excitedly waiting for a chance to play with this new item. The filtered beeswax can contribute a yellow color to a lip balm. I would agree that this will contribute a light yellow color if used in combination with oils that are light in color.

Castor Oil: As I wanted a lip balm that could handle long segments of time between applications, Castor Oil was a perfect addition to the ingredients list.

Peach Kernel Oil: I can’t help myself! Peach Kernel Oil is my new favorite oil because it is feels nice and it just sounds luxurious. (To my ears anyway!)

Deodorized Cocoa Butter: I didn’t want to have a chocolate scent to the lip balm, so the best way around that is to use Deodorized Cocoa Butter.

Refined Shea Butter: I wanted to use Shea Butter as this gives lip balms a creamy texture that glides on easily.

I flavored this lip balm with Natural Vanilla Oil and sweetened it with our Sugar Baby Flavor Oil. When I labeled these lip balms, I called it “Vanilla Cupcake Lip Balm”. Let’s go make some now!

Collect needed items:

Ingredients
Filtered Beeswax
Castor Oil
Peach Kernel Oil
Deodorized Cocoa Butter
Refined Shea Butter
Natural Vanilla Oil
Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Equipment
Scale
Microwave Safe Container
Spoons
Pipettes
Lip Balm Tubes

Recipe: (Makes 100 grams or 3.53 ounces and filled 22 Black Lip Balm Tubes)

Recipe in ounces:
0.71 ounces Filtered Beeswax
0.35 ounces Castor Oil
0.88 ounces Peach Kernel Oil
0.53 ounces Deodorized Cocoa Butter
0.88 ounces Shea Butter
0.07 ounces Natural Vanilla Oil
0.10 ounces Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Recipe in grams:
20 grams Filtered Beeswax
10 grams Castor Oil
25 grams Peach Kernel Oil
15 grams Deodorized Cocoa Butter
25 grams Shea Butter
2 grams Natural Vanilla Oil
3 grams Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Recipe in Percentages
20% Filtered Beeswax
10% Castor Oil
25% Peach Kernel Oil
15% Deodorized Cocoa Butter
25% Shea Butter
2% Natural Vanilla Oil
3% Sugar Baby Flavor Oil
Completely filled lip balm tubes.
Weighing the ingredients.
Completely melted oils and wax.

Empty tubes to be filled.

Weigh all ingredients except the Natural Vanilla Oil and Sugar Baby Flavor Oil into your microwave safe container. Microwave in short bursts until all ingredients are melted. The beeswax will take the most time to melt, but if you stir the lip balm after the other oils have been heated, it will melt quickly. Once the mixture is melted, add the flavors . Stir until all of the flavor has been incorporated. Fill tubes or jars. Cool. Label.

Texture Notes: Those who I begged to test and review this lip balm told me that it was nice and creamy while tasting delicious! One of my knitting friends who got a tube told me that her husband swapped his tube of generic lip balm with her tube. After asking where her lip balm had gone, she was told, “The texture is much better and it feels nice on my chapped lips.” Needless to say, she didn’t get her lip balm back.

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Shopping as a Consumer

A Hostess Cupcake. Public Domain Image by Evan Amos.

I’ll admit that I check the news on a sporadic timetable. One to three times a week and even then, I skim to find articles about business, crafts, good deeds and news about the political climate here in China. When I saw the news about the Hostess Brands closing, I was shocked. I have fond childhood memories of many of the products including the Fruit Pies, Twinkies, Cupcakes, Wonder Bread and more.

I asked my mom to see if she could track down some cupcakes to include in the next box of goodies that she sent me. She scoured all of the local stores and couldn’t find anything. All the shelves had new products on them and no Hostess products were in sight!

While the news has died down about the Hostess Brands closing, I still can’t help thinking about it. Reports have popped up that some other companies may purchase different portions of the big company that had been Hostess Brands, but no definite buyers have stepped forward yet. I’m not sure when, or if, these products will return to the shelves but it has me thinking about shopping as a consumer.

As a consumer I shop for a variety of things, food, clothes, hobby supplies, and entertainment, along with other things. When I was a teenager, my mom told me about a rule she called “The 3/50 Project”. The rule is simple, choose 3 independent businesses that you want to support and spend $50 with that business once a month. After thinking about the rule I asked her, “What if you can’t afford to spend so much money?”

She looked at me and said, “Then you should spend what you can. Buy local produce or baked goods instead of shopping at a big chain grocery store. Buy gifts throughout the year to give away for birthdays or holidays. Buy from small, local businesses rather than big, national stores.”

We continued to talk about shopping with local or small businesses and how that it was a great way to support local economies. Even supporting small businesses that were not in our own town or state was good because we want those businesses to stick around. Some of those businesses offer unique goods and services, some offer tons of technical help, some offered a boost for our funny bone. Thanks to my mom and her lesson, I try to help support small businesses that are unique and locally helpful. I feel more community empowered when I do so.

I would like to challenge all of you to try to support 1 local business that means a lot to you during this holiday season and then share with us! I would love to hear about the businesses you support!

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Rendering Lard

If you remember, last week I posted a teaser photoof my first batch of rendered lard. I had so much fun with this project and I haven’t even gotten to make soap yet!I referenced our Soapmaker’s Forum as well as Punk Domestics and A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa. All three sources were extremely helpful in this project and I thank them for their help!

To begin my project, I started storing the fat that came with the pork meat I purchase on a “almost” daily basis for our meals. Here in China, the butchers block of any grocery store is open to the customers. Unlike grocery stores in the USA that have the big enclosed cases, grocery stores here allow you to sort through and pick your favorite cut of meat. Using wooden “tongs”, you can simply pick up and examine each piece of meat before deciding to keep it or not. (It has taken me a while to get used to this process and some days I still can’t buy meat!)

The most common meat pieces that I purchase are pork loin with the backfat and skin still attached. The Chinese feel that the best meat is something that has a a fair amount of fat. I trim most of the fat (and all of the skin) off our meat and instead of throwing it away, I bag and then store it in the freezer. When I ran out of room in the freezer, I had 2-1/2 gallon-sized freezer bags stuffed with pork backfat.

Time to render! I began by pulling the bags of fat and set them on the counter to defrost. It took about 2 hours for the backfat to thaw enough for me to cut it up easily. Once the backfat had thawed, I started cutting the slabs into small chunks. I used a Chinese style meat cleaver and a small paring knife on my bamboo cutting board. It took me 2 hours to cut all of the backfat into small-ish chunks and I had a few blisters by the time I was done. I think a meat grinder would make this task easier.

If you are going to render your own fat, I would HIGHLY recommend grinding into small chunks or if you purchase from a butcher to have the butcher grind the fat before you take it home. I promise it will save you time as well as your hands! As I can’t communicate well with my butcher so I chopped up the fat by hand. :)

When all the backfat was cut up I had a completely full pot, and silly me, I forgot to weigh the backfat and skin before I started the rendering process. I estimate that I had around 5 to 6 pounds of back fat when I started. I added 1/2 cup of water to the pot and turned on the stove. Since my gas stove has three options of heat (hot as Hades, “I’m thinking about medium-low”, and “Oh! I’m on?”), I turned the heat to what my stove considers medium-low.

As this was my first time rendering, I was nervous about things turning out right. I stayed in the kitchen working on other projects while the pot heated and slowly, the lard began to melt. I stirred approximately every 15 minutes while the lard melted. When I could see and scoop out the liquid lard, I began to do so. I poured the lard into a glass water pitcher that had a brand new knee-high nylon hose stretched across the mouth of the pitcher. This allowed me to filter the liquid lard easily.

I reached a point where it seemed that only the biggest chunks were left and the stove wasn’t “quite” producing enough heat. I pulled out my stick blender and used it in the pot to help break down the chunks. Once the chunks were tiny pieces, I stopped blending and let the stove continue working on the smaller pieces in the pot. The process seemed to speed up and the lard floated on the top easily.

The overall time spent cooking on the stove was about 4 hours. I used a total of 2 pairs of brand new nylon hose to filter all my lard. (I really don’t care about that since I rarely wear nylon knee-high hose and I keep it on hand more for cooking than wearing.) I ended up with 75 ounces of rendered lard once the process was over. I didn’t keep the “cracklings” because I had the last portion of lard filter by gravity over night by hanging the filled hose over a clean pot to drip the last of the lard.

Now on to the questions!

Reader: What is the purple coloring on some of the pieces in your pictures?
Andee: That is a food safe ink that is used to mark meats at slaughter houses, processing plants and butcher’s shops. These marks help determine the which animal it is as well as helping create a paper trail through the process of butchering.

Reader: What exactly is the difference between lard and tallow?
Andee: The difference between these two fats is that lard is rendered pig fat and tallow is rendered beef fat. Lard is used for frying, baking and soapmaking. Tallow is used for frying or soapmaking. I’m sure some of our readers can also give us other examples of uses for these two fats.

Reader: After rendering, are you going to soap with your lard?
Andee: Absolutely! I’m currently formulating recipes to work with the ingredients I have on hand.

Reader: I love using soap made with lard, but I can still smell the “piggy” odor and I can no longer use my soap due to the smell. Any suggestions?
Andee: The smell can vary depending on the type of lard you have as well as the percentage of excess fat in the soap batch. I have read suggestions of adding baking soda or bay leaves to the pot during the rendering process to lighten odors, but I don’t know if it works. If you still have some of the soap and it bothers you, I can recommend gifting the soap or even donating to a local food pantry or shelter.

Reader: What benefit does using animal fats in soap have over not using animal fats?
Andee: It is simply a matter of preference. Some people like using lard or tallow in soap and others prefer to not use it. I enjoy soaps of both types. As soap isn’t a leave-on-product, I’m not sure if there are any skin benefits.

I also got a lovely e-mail from Dianne P. with tips from her experiences of rendering lard. It was so nice, that I just had to share the whole thing with you!

I just thought I would share a tip. I render my own lard & also buy some. When I render it, I keep it in the freezer as it spoils faster. I start with ground fat (not chunks). I use a big roaster, outside, as it is smelly. I probably do 15# at once. I keep stirring it off & on. When the “cracklings” are brown, we strain the lard in cheesecloth. It will be a nice white color. Makes a big mess (when I do it)!

I guess the “store-bought” kind is sterilized or something to keep it fresh. I keep it on my shelf.

I enjoy your blogs & posts!
thank you,

Diane P.

Do you have any questions about rendering lard? Do you have questions about soaping with lard? I would love to hear your questions and help you find answers! Even if you just have a comment to share, I would love to hear them!

Backfat with skin attached and waiting to be chopped into small pieces.
Using a meat cleaver to chop the backfat.
Pile of chopped backfat.
Stirring the pot of melting backfat.
Using an immersion blender to break up the larger chunks into small pieces to allow faster melting.
Stirring the pot again!
Removing the oil floating on top.
Strained lard that is still hot.

Completely cooled lard.
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December 2012 Class Schedule

Looking for great gift ideas? Sign up soon to take a class that will teach you some fun, easy and economical ways to make all those great gifts. All of your supplies will be provided. You will be making and taking two containers of each of the items we are making in the class. What a great value! Also, each product that is demonstrated and made in class will be available, including labels, for you to make additional items for yourself or to make as gifts. All of these products are reasonably priced so bring your holiday gift list and let’s get your holiday gifts completed early.

December 2012 Class Schedule
Class fee $20.00 each class
Register by calling our office: 435.755.0863, preregistration is required.
Business Hours
 Monday – Friday
 8:00 am – 4:00 pm

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Class held in Riverton! at 6:00PM
Stocking Stuffers: Make Bubble Bath, Bath Bombs, Bath Salts, and Salt Scrubs

Thursday, December 4, 2012
Class held in Riverton! at 6:00PM
Stocking Stuffers: Make Body/Room Sprays, Lip Balm, Hand Sanitizer, and Body Cream

Sandara N. Lloyd Community Center
12830 S. Redwood Road
Riverton, Utah 84065

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Class held in Nibley! at 10:00AM
Stocking Stuffers: Make Body/Room Sprays, Lip Balm, Hand Sanitizer, and Body Cream

Majestic Mountain Sage
2490 South 1350 West
Nibley, Utah 84321

I’m looking forward to demonstrating all these wonderful products with you and showing you how easy it is to make these yourself. See you in class!

Tonya

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving Day. No matter if you are having turkey, ham, tofu, chicken, beef or fish for your Thanksgiving meal, I hope it brings enjoyment, laughter and a good time. I hope you have a wonderful day and if you need to travel, please travel safely.

Enjoy your day and we will see you on Monday! All orders placed over the Thanksgiving break will be processed Monday. We will ship as many orders as possible on Monday, so I expect we will almost fill the UPS truck!

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Pie Day!

It is Pie Day! You may be wondering what Pie Day is. Pie Day is the day before Thanksgiving that is the day that some foods (including pies) are prepared in advance for many big dinners tomorrow. Here at Majestic Mountain Sage we will work until noon so that we have time to go home and prepare those foods.

When I was a little girl, my mom always cooked and baked from scratch year-round. I have fond memories of breads, cookies, cakes and naturally, Mom’s pies. Mom always made her pies that had flaky, tender crusts and fillings that were bound to please. I remember different pies gracing our table during different periods of my childhood, peach, blueberry, apple, lemon meringue and pumpkin. Those pies were made with popular vote in mind, but there was one pie that was made without fail every Thanksgiving. Pecan pie. My dad loves pecan pie and he says my mom makes the best one he has ever had. While I haven’t had a chance yet to learn the secret to Mom’s pecan pie, I have learned a secret to making a pie dough that is even better than Mom’s.

Back in 2009, I shared a recipe for Blackberry Pie. This pie dough has been my only recipe for making pies ever since.You need to follow all the directions and there aren’t any possible substitutions, but the resulting crust is out of this WORLD! Here is the recipe for my favorite pie dough.

Foolproof Pie Dough

Makes one 9-inch pie with top crust or two 9-inch pies without a top crust.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup vegetable shortening , cold, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka , cold
1/4 cup cold water

Measure 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt and sugar into the food processor bowl. Pulse briefly until the ingredients are blended. Add butter and shortening and pulse until the flour mixture has been completely coated with butter and shortening. At this point, I think it looks like coarse cornmeal with some large clumps. Add the last cup of flour and pulse again until mixed. Pour the crumbles of dough into a medium mixing bowl. Add cold vodka and water to the crumbled dough and press with a rubber scraper to blend. Mix until the dough is tacky and holds together. Divide the dough into two halves and roll into balls. Flatten the balls into disks and then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 45 minute and a maximum of 2 days.

Once the pie dough has chilled, remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Place the chilled dough on floured work surface and roll the dough into a 12 inch circle, leaving the dough about 1/8 inch thick. Gently place the dough in a pie plate and adjust the dough to fit in the pie plate, while leaving the overhanging dough. Refrigerate while working on the filling.

What is your favorite kind of pie? Do you make your own or do you buy them from the store? Good luck preparing for the big turkey day!

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Upcoming Blog Teaser

My first batch of rendered lard.
I’ve been playing in my kitchen recently and I’ve learned a new thing! You may be asking what I learned, so I will share this teasing picture with you. Don’t worry as I promise that I’ll share all the details and the whole process with you soon!

If the picture doesn’t make sense to you, then let me tell you what the pitcher contains. (Yes, that is a pitcher as it was the only heat stable container I had available at the moment.) The pitcher contains … drum roll please … my first batch of rendered lard!

Right now I am putting together a blog post about the process, but I thought I would share this little teaser with you to make you think about it during your preparations for the holiday!

Do you have any questions you would like answered about lard, rendering or soaping with lard? I would love to hear them!

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Starting with an Empty Cupboard: Ingredients for Miscellaneous Bath Goodies

This post was delayed due to me fighting a nasty cold over the last week. I’m feeling better, so no more excuses!

Today is the last post of the Empty Cupboard series and we are covering the miscellaneous small and fast goodies one can make. These items can be bath bombs, fizzies, tub teas, bath salts, scrubs and more! Let’s take a peek into the ingredients I put on my wish list for making such fun bath goodies.

Exfoliants:
Some of these ingredients may be strictly exfoliants or also used as skin soothers in soaks for feet or the body.

•Salts: This is one of those ingredients that can be used for either exfoliation or as a skin smoother. You can use salts in foot soaks, bath salts or salt scrubs. If I am making bath salts or foot soaks, then I prefer using Epsom Salts or Dead Sea Salts. On the other hand, if I am making salt scrubs, I prefer the Medium Bath Salts.

•Sugar: I generally use sugar in my scrubs for a finer grain and smoother exfoliation. I generally use white granulated table sugar, but there have been times that I have used brown sugar and even fine baker’s sugar. Sugar is a humectant, so it will pull water towards itself and that makes it a great ingredient for scrubs.

Pumice: While we haven’t used pumice very often in blog posts, I still enjoy using it. Pumice is particularly helpful when cleaning up after tinkering with engines, gardening, home repairs and other similar dirty jobs. Pumice is best used in scrubs or soaps.

•Seeds and Fibers: Seeds are truly optional exfoliation options. They can be used to add interesting color, label appeal, and different shapes. You can use Ground Luffa, Vanilla Bean Specks, Ground Apricot Seed, Blueberry Seeds, or Strawberry Seeds as each one can give you a variety of options!

Clays: Clays are used most often in scrubs and masks. Typically, when I use clays in scrubs I am trying to help remove excess oil from the skin. Clays give scrubs a silky glide and less abrasive feeling. I like making facial and foot masks with clays as well. Many times, I feel like there are so many clays and not enough time to use them! You can choose from these options; Bentonite Clay, French Green Clay, Fullers Earth, Pink Kaolin Clay, Red Moroccan Clay, and Rhassoul Clay. I told you that there were lots of options!

Botanicals: Most of the botanicals that I use are ingredients in tub teas and foot soaks. I enjoyed using the Calendula Petals in the Sensual Milky Tub Tea; the Rose Buds and Petals in the Cleopatra’s Milk Bath; Lavender Buds in Taylor’s Tub Tea; and the Peppermint Leaves in the Summer Time Foot Bath. The only botanical I haven’t had a chance to use yet is the Chamomile Buds and I think I need to remedy that problem soon!

Additives: When making tub teas, bath bombs and bath salts, sometimes you want a little more and this is where these additives come in!

Citric Acid: If you plan on making bath bombs or fizzes, then Citric Acid is one of the most important ingredients you will ever need. (Along with Baking Soda.) Citric Acid helps provide the acid portion of the fizzing reaction that bath bombs are known for.

•Baking Soda: An ingredient commonly found at the grocery store, this is the other necessary portion of making bath bombs and fizzes. Baking soda is the alkaline ingredient for bath fizzies.

Natrasorb: While Natrasorb is not required to make any of the miscellaneous bath goodies, it can be used to help add fragrance or oils, add volume, or make products look like powders. I like using Natrasorb in tub teas, but it can be used anywhere!

•Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate: This is another ingredient that isn’t required, but it does pack a foaming punch that is a fun addition to bath bombs, bath salts and more. We now carry it in two types so you can choose the powder or flakes with your formulas in mind!

Fixed Oils: Most of the oils that we use are for scrubs. The majority of the scrubs are made completely with liquid oils and any oils that you have on hand for other products can be used. My favorite oils for scrubs are; Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, and Macadamia Nut Oil.

Colorants: If I am making scrubs or masks, I rarely color these products as I prefer to leave them their natural color. Plus, it is a little more difficult to color oil based scrubs due to their oil based nature. This little problem can be solved by coloring the salt or sugar and allowing it to dry. Once it is dry, oils can be added without worrying about growth of any nasties! On the other hand, bath salts, fizzes and bombs are fun and easy to color. You can add dry colorant to the ingredients to make Magic Color Bath Fizzies or you can dilute a color in water and spray over your ingredients. This particularly works well if you are making bath bombs that need to be slightly damp before pressing into their shapes. If you want to use color, I recommend that you use one of the four dyes we offer: Lemon Yellow, Grape, Purple Raspberry or Ocean Blue.

Packaging: It is hard to make bath bombs, fizzies or tub teas if you don’t have way to package your product!

•Tub teas should be packaged in the Heat Sealable Tea Bags as you really don’t want to find your bath tub looking like the lawn mower or the potpourri dish had been cleaned out in the tub!

•I package bath salts and fizzies in either Bath Salt Tubes or Gusseted Bags for presentation and easy packaging. Never package fizzing salts in glass. Water put inside the glass and then sealed with a lid will cause an explosion of glass shards. So, repeat after me “I solemnly swear to never package bath fizzies, or similar products, in glass containers.”

•I package bath bombs in the Gusseted Bags or Shrink Bands/Shrink Bags.

Yay! I’m finally finished with this series! Do you have any suggestions for starting with an empty cupboard? I would love to hear them!

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