The Year of the Christmas Craft: The Soap Chronicles (of the Honey Almond Oatmeal variety)

One benefit to being unemployed and broke is that you are forced to get creative for the holidays. That, or go into debt. I’ve inevitably ended up doing both. My family and friends have been alerted to the fact that I am going handmade or bust this year, so here goes nothin!

My first Christmas Craft is Honey Almond Oatmeal Goat’s Milk soap (sorry it’s a mouthful…of SOAP. HA.). ahem. There are many reasons this is a wonderful gift. First off, it’s fairly cheap to pull off (especially if you have a 40% off Michael’s coupon). Secondly, it’s EASY. Third, you can’t get the kitchen TOO messy because, well…it’s soap.

I adapted Angie’s oatmeal soap recipe after I found out I had everything she used already sitting in my cart. To this recipe I added honey and some almond extract. There have been no scientific studies on how these two additional ingredients will mesh – I will let you know post-Christmas if any of my recipients develop any rashes.

For 3 bars of soap, here is what I used:
12 chunks of Goat’s Milk Soap
approx 1/3 cup of slightly ground oats
72 drops or so of Sweet Almond soap extract (so that each chunk got 6 drops)
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

photo 1

(don’t forget the extract, if you dare to be adventurous as me!)

Grind up some oats ever so gently. You don’t want them to be powder, but big flakes won’t work well, either. I used my coffee grinder.

photo 2

Melt that soap! I put the blocks into a bowl and microwaved for 50 seconds to start, then 10 seconds at a time until everything was just melted down. When the soap was a nice warm liquid, I added my oats, soap extract, honey & almond extract. I found it helpful to not take too long during the mixing/pouring stages, as the soap hardens back up fairly quickly. However, as I found out the first time I tried this, another great thing about making soap is that you can just throw the bowl back in the microwave and re-heat! (So don’t waste any hardened bits!)
Before pouring, I chose to sprinkle some whole oats around the border of the molds for decorative purposes.

photo 3photo 5

Pour the soap into your molds, and feel free to sprinkle some more oatmeal on top (er, bottom).

photo 4
After a good little while (I waited an hour just to be safe), pry those bad boys out, wrap em up all nice and pretty, and give them to someone you love! (Or someone you don’t love, if it turns out my 2 magic ingredients cause harm)

photo (3)

Thank you for a wonderful recipe, Angie!

And just for fun, because I love them.
And because it’s really nice to spend a day crafting and look over and see this.

photo (4)


The Important Thing To Remember Is…

On Tuesday I voted for Obama. I sat in front of my computer that evening, watching the returns on MSNBC, slowly biting my fingernails off until we had secured victory. When the word was given, I danced around and smiled. I watched my facebook feed fill up with whoops, hollers and exclamation points. Soon after the initial projection was made, in between the congratulatory statuses of my fellow Obama-supporters, I noticed some other thoughts starting to pop up.

Some of my friends who had voted for Romney were not happy. Some were silent, some vocal. I understood. These people felt as strongly about the prospect of Mitt Romney leading our country as I did about Barack Obama doing the same. If Obama had been defeated I would have felt defeated, too. So I understood their disappointment. There was one facebook friend of mine, however, who was so utterly disgusted by the results that she requested that anyone -friends or family- who had voted for Obama “unfriend” her, immediately. I couldn’t tell if she was serious or not, but when she people actually started removing themselves from her list, I got a little concerned.

In all honesty, I hardly know the girl. We share a love for the same band and ran into one another at a number of concerts. I think she’s a riot and a whole heck of a lot of fun to be around. That said, I was shocked by her request. Feeling an urge to reach out, I sent her a private message. I told her that she had been popping up a lot on my page and while I respected her feelings of discontent, I thought she was really great and I enjoyed sharing a mutual musical love. I hoped we could still stay friends, regardless of our political differences. She wrote back, apologizing for her moment of weakness. She admitted she had let her anger get the best of her. We joked around, shared a few smiley faces, and that was that.

So. What’s the point of all of this? To me, this little instance was a reminder of what really matters between friends and family. Sure, let’s disagree on policy and presidents, but let’s not forget that we love the same music. You and I enjoy the same foods, the same healthy lifestyle habits. We share clothes and jokes. We love to run. This is why we’re friends. Let’s appreciate our similarities rather than let our few differences get in the way of our friendship, whether it blossomed 25 years ago while in nursery school or 2 years ago in line for a concert.

If I Could Ask One Question…

As an unemployed, single (not married) woman who does not have health insurance, I rely on Planned Parenthood’s donation-based services for my yearly checkups. Governor Romney, you have promised to immediately defund PP if you are elected President. Can you please explain to me how I will still be able to receive the preventive care that every woman needs?