Monday, June 30, 2014
I remember when I first started making pottery, I made so many bowls, so many cups. And I glazed and glazed. I read and read. I learned. There were so many heavy thick bowls all over the house it was crazy. We used them until I made better ones, then they got the hammer or got sent to the thrift store and a new batch took their place. I read everything I could find about ceramics and took as many workshops as I could afford. I was obsessed with clay.
Now I have soap all over the place, and notes and recipes and books. I have made a bunch of batches, all pretty "rustic" to put it kindly. None of them are particularly professional looking, but they smell incredible and they have taught me much. I'm learning what I like in a soap, the recipes I want to work with, the colors I want, the fragrance I want. It's all learning and so much fun. And in four weeks we will have so many soaps to choose from. Who knew?! SOAP!!
Above is a clay soap I tried. I got the essential oil amount wrong so the fragrance is very faint, and it mostly smells like clay, but I happen to like the smell of clay, so it works for me! I also do not know how much of a recipe will fill my molds and I got this one completely wrong, so I cut it up into a bunch of odd sizes to see how it would look. It looks pretty bad, but it is a great color and I learned from this batch that I want more to make more clay soaps. The feel of the soap is so great and I just love that red color. Reminds me of Highwater Clay's Orangestone. I want to try using bentonite and kaolin and there are several other colored clays I want to try. The clay soaps really interest me, wonder why?!
The little antique molds worked nicely. I used rooibos tea instead of water for the making and added the tea leaves to the batch at the end. Lesson learned, the tea leaves speckled the soap a lot, I didn't know it would do this. It's kinda cool. These smell of sweet orange and bergamot with a hint of the rooibos tea, you almost want to lick them :) They look like I added manganese, don't they? Funny how I am relating so much of soap making to clay making. It is all very similar and familiar to me.
Speckled hens, ha! Love this mold.
This one, however, was the best one yet, and it has a mixture of fragrance. I used a fragrance oil of juniper and sage, then added rosemary that I ground into a powder. I used hemp seed oil at the end for a super moisture boost and the color came out a really nice light green. It smells amazing!
If I am going to make these soaps, I want them to have beneficial qualities. The oils I am using are nourishing for the skin, moisturizing and full of vitamins. I would like the essential oils to be the same but I also want them to smell great and have the benefit of aromatherapy. I got a bunch of books at the library and I have been reading about the healing powers of essential oils. Again, who knew!?
Clearly, I like learning. I have no idea why I couldn't be this engaged when I was in school, haha! This soap making is fun! We are going to be so clean and soft...........
Friday, June 27, 2014
You can't beat an OHAUS triple beam scale. This is how I learned to measure chemicals for glazes, and I just can't warm up to the digital scales. Kinda like I still can't warm up to CDs. Give me vinyl any day. Guess I'm just an old school sort of girl.
Gerry gave me this one for Christmas a few years ago, and it has served me well. I used it this week for measuring soap making ingredients. All the books and websites suggest a digital scale and recipes are in ounces. I can't do math, but I do have a unit converter on my ipad, so I just converted everything to grams before I started and it went even smoother than I thought it would. Very happy that I won't have to buy a digital scale!
I'm using my grandmothers old measuring spoons and antique molds I found recently.
I also brought out Gerry's old dark room beakers. We have had them for years, and until now, I never found a real use for them, except decoration and dust collection. Loved using these for the soap making.
I made two batches of soap just to get my feet wet. I was unorganized and inefficient, but I know now how to avoid that and I know it will get better as I learn. At least I had the right tools. That makes any job way better.
I made one batch in one of the old sewing machine molds. It has coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, shea butter, and castor oil as the base. I added moroccan red clay, sweet orange, bergamot and cedarwood, and then sprinkled cocoa powder on top mostly for looks but orange and chocolate is a nice combination for me. Scenting the soaps is going to be the difficult part, they all may end up unscented, I am struggling with this. The second batch was the same base, but I used Rooibos tea as my water component and added sweet orange and bergamot. I stirred in rooibos tea leaves and the soaps looked really pretty, warm and toasty burnt orange color. I will do great with the color palette, I got that!
Tea, coffee and clay seem to be the most attractive additives to me, the scents, not that appealing. I need an aroma class! Can't wait to show you the molds for the rooibos, they are chickens!!! Speaking of... mine are growing like the weeds in the garden!
Wesley and I made lunch together today, yum!!! All healing foods, gotta get Gerry nourished from the inside as well as the outside to heal that incision! Vitamin C, E, Olive oil, beta carotene and avocado....... good for you stuff!
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Moroccan Red Clay, Rosemary, Lemongrass, Lavendar, Sweet Orange, Juniper, Sage, Grapefruit, Bergamot, Hemp Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter....... you should smell my house!
My soap making supplies came yesterday and I am ready to start making soap now!
I found some antique sewing boxes that I want to use for my soap molds and I also got some small antique baking molds for smaller size guest soaps (or gifts for friends). A lot of my clay making tools will translate nicely to soap making, so I have plenty of stuff to get me going now!
This whole soap making thing started when Gerry was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face. I started looking for ways to help his skin. We began putting hemp oil and red cider vinegar on a month before his surgery, and unlike everyone else in the doc's office getting three or more layers removed, Gerry only had one layer removed, because his roots were shallow. I can't prove that what we did was effective, although we did notice a change in the shape of the cancer, but I would like to believe that the natural ingredients were healing....
So I continued to read, I got books from the library, I took a class with a very good instructor, and I learned all I could about natural essential oils and natural ingredients for soaps and creams. Gerry's wound is healing nicely, although yesterday he was having some pain and the scar was puffy and tight. I have been waiting for my soap supplies to arrive so I could make him a serum to help heal the scar.
Yesterday I made a serum with all of the oils I believe to have healing properties. Most contain vitamin E, are fighters of free radicals, they are moisturizing, and all have characteristics that nurture and heal skin. I used hemp oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, olive oil, lavender, rosemary, grapefruit oil, and for a little aromatherapy, sweet orange, my favorite.
We put the serum on Gerry's scar yesterday, and the smell alone relieved his stress! Etta helped out in the laughter department, jumping up on his head, haha! Amazing what aroma and chickens can do for your mental state :) We were getting bug bites working in the yard, so I looked up natural bug repellant and wouldn't you know, I happened to have lavender and rosemary, which are suggested to repel bugs. I made a quick oil with some coconut oil, added a few drops of each essential oil and rubbed it on. I didn't get one bite and I saw the mosquitoes buzzing over my arm. No more deet for me! Why has it taken me so long to find essential oils? Maybe because I have been so occupied reading all the food labels and trying to keep from getting poisoned internally! Now it's time to work on the external....
This morning Gerry got up and his scar was flatter, less pulled looking and less red. In twelve hours we have seen a significant change in appearance and all we did was add some wonderful healing oils to the wound! Why put a bunch of chemicals you can't pronounce on a wound when you can use what nature gives us? I am so excited to explore the healing properties in these oils and make some really great soaps for us. No more store soap for me!!!
I am also trying to purge myself of all the excess in my clay world. It gets out of hand so quickly, doesn't it? Buckets and plastic containers everywhere with various glazes and tests, broken pottery, test tiles, sponges, newspaper and sawdust for raku, bags of old chemicals, old wood for ware boards, just in case I don't have enough of them (I really do), brushes, the list goes on and on. I have had an area under my deck where I store a lot of these things. Yesterday, I tossed it ALL out. Most of the glazes had hardened or grown crystals, or the label had faded and I didn't know what it was. Boards were rotting. Time to get it all out of here. At the end of the day, it felt so good to have a nice clean area around my kiln. My studio is next....... and then I make soap..... and maybe some soap dishes.......
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Still waiting for my first batch of soap to cure. This is worse than waiting for a kiln to cool! It will be neutralized next Saturday, but for a good firm bar I really should wait two more weeks.
Coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, sweet orange and good karma fragrance oil with patchouli...... you can smell this all over the house...
I have it sitting in the kitchen and every time I pass it by, I pick it up for a sniff. Yum!
I ordered soap supplies this week and hope to start making more soon. I'm not sure if I want to sell them, although I am thinking about it. But there are about a gazillion soap makers out there, worse than pottery. Do I really want to get into this again?! Maybe soap and bowls, who knows, just wandering aimlessly at this point, enjoying the process. Just wanting to put less harmful ingredients on and in my body these days. The world has gone mad with chemicals and drugs and I want off, I've had enough!
Speaking of the world of drugs and health care..... More parent medical stuff for us next week. Gerry's dad is still in the rehab facility. He has been moved into the same room with Gerry's mom, so that is nice for them. But he may be coming home next week, and she will be lost and confused, I'm afraid. I guess we will have to go down and help out. Gerry spent the day with them yesterday, it's hard, watching all of this. Wesley is getting a hard core reality check, standing on the sidelines, watching.
The nursing home care and pharmaceutical drug industries are out of f*ing control in this country. If you have any money at all, the vultures will come swooping down to get you when you are elderly, and will pick your poor old bones clean. The doctors will fill you with so many drugs you won't have a mind left. Yesterday, Gerry called me... furious. He found a cabinet full of drugs they are giving his mom, and then I told him to look for the TWO grocery bags full of pills bottles that I found. He looked up the drugs they are giving her. His siblings and dad have been concerned with the constant diarrhea his mom has had. Well, guess what the side effects of the SIX drugs that they are giving her are? Yep, diarrhea! And the doctor can't figure out what is wrong.... I'll tell you what is fucking wrong, doctors giving six pills a day to an 80 year old woman!!!!!! This is down from the TEN or TWELVE they were giving her. Everyone was so happy when the doc said "we need to get her off of some of this medication". Jesus Christ! If I took ten different medications a day, I wouldn't know how to find the front door!!!!!
10 years ago, Gerry's mom was suffering from severe back pain due to arthritis. The docs filled her with pain meds, she had a back surgery that did nothing but cause more pain, they gave her more drugs, then they gave her drugs to alleviate the symptoms caused by the first drugs, and before you know it, Gerry's mom doesn't even know who the hell she is.
In 10 short years, we watched as this vibrant, strong woman became a shell of herself, and I swear to you, I believe it was the drugs, they fried her brain. Isn't it ironic that hers was the generation that tried so hard to tell us to stay off of drugs (pot, cocaine, LSD) that drugs were bad, and yet it is the same generation that the pharmaceutical industry is making billions of dollars on. Do you know that "legal" prescribed drugs have killed more people than heroin and cocaine and pot combined? And yet doctors keep prescribing these drugs, the TV keeps throwing ads at us, magazines fill their pages with drug ads instead of informative and interesting information, and the internet intrudes on us with drug pushing. The drug industry owns our government. Rich bastards...... I don't know how these people sleep at night under their down comforters on their Egyptian cotton sheets. All I know is Karma can be a bitch, they better watch out!
I took my mother-in -law to Walmart last week to get her drugs. I can't tell you how difficult it was for me to go buy them, and then give them to her. But would it be worse to not give them to her? What happens when someone this addicted to drugs at her age just comes off all of that medication? Anyway, we stood in line behind a dozen other old folks, waiting for their pills. The walls in the prescription area were full, top to bottom with bags of drugs. I have never seen such a booming business in all my life. Do you remember a time when you went to the pharmacy for an antibiotic or a flu med and you were the only one there? and there was a little basket with a few other bags in it? I do. But I don't take drugs, so it's been awhile since I have seen the drug pushers our pharmacies have become.
Nexium, Cymbalta, Lyrica, Previcid, Ambien..... they have become words in our daily lives. Eat whatever the hell bad food you want, just take a purple pill to make it go down better and alter your stomach acid synthetically. Never mind the side affects, you can still eat all that fat and grease! Just take a pill to help you sleep and you won't think about it! Got dry eye? there's a med for that. Get your shingles vaccine, get your teen girls vaccinated so they don't get cervical cancer, hey maybe the boys might get it too, get a shot for them. Got an erection problem? There's a pill for that. This industry has become HUGE and powerful and it is killing our friends and our family members and I feel incredibly helpless to do anything about it. All I can do is be very certain of the doctor if I ever go to one, and check out the drug he pushes at me very carefully before I put it in my mouth. I realize that sometimes a pill can be a good thing, but I haven't taken one in years and years. Maybe once in ahwile for an infection. I find it so ironic that the pot I smoked and the cocaine I did in my twenties have affected me less than the legal drugs a preachers wife has taken for ten years.
All we really need to do is eat whole foods, turn down those processed chemical filled grocery store poisons, stop using all of those chemical filled products on our bodies (have you read a sunscreen label? put cancer causing ingredients on your body to prevent skin cancer, brilliant!), get out and walk, do some yoga, meditate.... it's very simple. Educate yourself, read. Take care of the body and mind you have been blessed with. Enjoy your life while you are here, it's a short visit.......
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
We are trying to get back to some sort of "normal" around here, whatever that is. Friday the 13th with a full moon proved to be a day we won't soon forget!
Gerry got his bandages off yesterday, a thin scar runs from the corner of his eye to the end of his chin, but it's healing nicely and I think with some research we will come up with something that will help fade the scar. I have read olive oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and coconut oil. Anyone got any other home remedies that have worked for them? His parents are settling in to their new life, we will go visit this week and check up on them. Wesley has a friend staying a few days, and I finally got my house cleaned yesterday. From the looks of things, it has been awhile, I have no idea when I last cleaned the bathrooms, it showed!
I am reading The Good Life, by Scott Nearing. This book has been around awhile and like a lot of things, I am late finding it. But what a treasure of wisdom this book is. I imagine his other books are equally as good, this is the only one the library had available. Gerry and I are moving more and more towards having a self sufficient life and this book is full of helpful wisdom. We have started small, three chickens, vegetables grown in buckets so we can chase the sun on our shady land, eating as many whole foods as possible, eliminating processed foods, meat and as much sugar as we can stand. Little things, but they make a difference without being drastic and impossible to achieve. Now making soap. Have you read a label on your soap or shampoo lately? and we wonder why our world is cropping up cancer centers like a wildfire spreading......
I was going to write about my feelings on hand made soaps, but it is early morning, I just decided I am still sleepy, so I'll come back to it later, I think..... enjoy your day!
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Friday the 13th was a pretty miserable day for all of us. Wheels turned quickly on the Thursday before, and Gerry's parents both ended up at a rehab/nursing facility on Friday. It is a beautiful place, but having the family go through this major life change has been extremely stressful and challenging for all of us. On Wednesday, Wesley and I got in the car and drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway for the day. We are so fortunate to live close enough to the mts. for a day trip and it was a much needed getaway, just the two of us. We left Gerry home to rest his wounds, left early in the morning and were hiking in this beautiful field of wildflowers by 11am. We had lunch up on the mountain and then spent the afternoon in Boone. It was a nice mental break for both of us. Poor Wesley is getting her first dose of aging reality and it is not sitting very well with her.
Friday morning I decided I had done enough for everybody else, and I needed a little me time. I signed up for a soap making class with Lea Alston at Scentsuosity in Raleigh. It was so much fun, took my mind off of all the stressful events of the past week, and I just enjoyed the company of student/teacher, inhaled the aromas from her beautiful shop and took a mental break.
I have discovered that I love making soap, and I especially love all the tools that come along with the making, it's a whole new world!
The soap I made is a blend of coconut, olive and palm oil with essential oils of sweet orange and a blend called Karma that was a patchouli based aroma. Lea told us we should name our soap so I'm calling it Good Karma, I kinda like that. Can't wait to cut into it, this is sort of like waiting for the kiln to cool. In fact, soap making seemed very intuitive to me, since much of the process is similar to glaze mixing and I like the chemistry of it all. I could really get into this soap making thing, I love the idea of blending all of the essential oils and ingredients for healing and nourishing soaps.
Speaking of healing.... Gerry is healing nicely, my mother in law is making fast friends at her new home, my father in law is joyful to have his wife back with him and today is a nice quiet father's day at home since Gerry doesn't want to go out in public yet with his black and blue face. I went to the farmers market and got some fresh veggies so I'm going to cook a big southern lunch and be a lazy girl today. We all need a stress free day. Wish I could take a nice long bath with my new soap. Just have to wait two more weeks! I see soap dishes on my studio shelves, don't you?!
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Ger had a place on his cheek about the size of a quarter. Flat, a little shiny, no idea what it was. He basically ignored it. Just thought it was another sign of aging :) A few weeks ago I mentioned to him that it looked like it had changed in appearance and he should get it checked, since I had a skin cancer removed just two years ago. Sure enough, it was a basal cell cancer. The earliest they could schedule surgery was, yep, the week of the US Open. Be careful what you wish for.
He covered the Open last time it was here and he nearly had heat stroke. It was scary and I was not looking forward to him going back. I was hoping there was some way it could be avoided, but not hoping for this!
His poor eye is almost swollen shut, he has an incision from his eye to his chin. Looks like he had a rough night in a bar, haha (or he made me mad!). We spent all day yesterday at the doc. He elected to have mohs surgery, which was the best option for this type of cancer. The doctor here in Chapel Hill is apparently one of the best in this field. There were people that had come from all over to see this doc.
Gerry was one of the lucky ones. With Mohs, they take off one layer, test it and if there is still cancer they keep removing layers until they get it all. You go in, get a layer off, sit and wait for an hour, go back in, get your results. They got it all with the first removal, thank God. While I sat there waiting, two other elderly ladies went back for a second and then a third removal. By the time they came out from the third trip, they looked so dejected. I really felt for them when Gerry came out happy with his results. I decided that I definitely chose the wrong career path. Dermatology is a HUGE business. I have never seen such a busy doctor's office. Does everybody in this country have skin cancer? WHY? Ugh, this cancer planet! Get those suspicious places checked out! I'm still not convinced all of this is from sun exposure though. I believe the foods we are eating and our environment are all becoming more and more harmful to us. But let's just blame it on the sun, since nobody will be affected economically that way!
So another week of looking after someone, and then Friday back to Gerry's mom. Maybe I need to go to the community college and get a nursing certificate :) I let the deadline pass for Festifall and for the Chatham Artists Studio Tour this year. I just couldn't face filling out applications, trying to figure out where the money for al the show fees was going to come from, and then actually planning what to make for the shows. I think the pottery train has left the station without me this year. I am consumed with more family stuff than I can keep up with and it is pushing pottery making right out of the way. Gerry's dad has made the difficult decision to relocate himself and his wife into some sort of care facility and I see the next few months being difficult ones, there will be no room in my head to think about art unfortunately.
In chick news: they were stalked by a fox yesterday morning at 4am. I was standing out in the rain at 4am trying to scare him off. We think he has a den in our woods right behind the coop, mighty convenient for him, right? The coop is pretty secure, but I don't want to see that mofo trying to dig in. Later when we got home, I was sitting on the front porch and heard them screeching. I ran to the backyard and there were two hawks siting on top of their coop. The chicks were losing their shit, trying to get out through the chicken wire, proving to me that they aren't going to be very smart, just sweet, haha! One cut her beak a tiny bit, there was a speck of blood. I helped them understand that they could go up in their box for cover, they liked that idea and they stayed up in the box the rest of the day. This morning I let them out, they came down, ate breakfast and went back up in the box. They now have had a reality check and are wary of every sound they hear. They will stick their little heads out of the door, look around and scoot back in. What funny little creatures they are. Well, now they know, everything wants to eat a chicken.
Sunday, June 8, 2014
I have spent this past week down near Charlotte NC, staying with my mother in law. Gerry's dad had some pretty major surgery, unexpectedly and since everyone else has a 9 to 5 job, I was the best choice for staying there. It was exhausting, enlightening, joyful, sad, frustrating, hard. I have a whole new respect for what Gerry's dad has been through for the past few years, and I honestly do not know how he has taken care of her and the house and himself. I did it for a week, and I crashed hard yesterday when I got home. If any of you have parents that are going through this, I strongly urge you to help them as much as you can. There are great rewards. I learned a lot about myself, and what I can do, I quietly observed Joyce and understood her needs and what I should do for her, I grew to love her even more than I already did, she is a remarkable woman, even with a mind that is trapped inside of her.
As many of you know, I have a hard time sitting still. There was no way I could sit in that house while Joyce laid on the sofa all day and watched TV. We got out! We went to Walmart the first day I was there and we got some coloring books, some crayons, watercolors, scissors, construction paper. She talked to everyone, she is a preacher's wife after all. That's what she does. She told many of the folks there that I was her husband. Haha, we made quite an interesting gay couple!
Every morning after breakfast we would do some artwork. I cleaned off their back deck and put the swing out there, so after our art time, we went outside and sat in the swing for awhile and listened to the birds and the trains go by. Got a little vitamin D, talked and laughed.
We made a get well card. It took about 45 minutes for her to write get well soon, but I could not have been more proud of this. I cried.....
I also changed her diet while I was there and the bathroom business improved greatly, very happy about that! They get Meals on Wheels once a day, and I have to say it was a great disappointment. This was the meal on day three and I was completely put out with this. She wouldn't touch it. Look at that shit! Would you eat this? The cabbage smell gagged me and I wasn't really sure what the meat was, turned out to be a rather dried up pork chop. I spoke to a friend of theirs that helps deliver these meals and it was her understanding that the nearby prison prepared them. Oh, just terrific, my mother in law is eating prison food, isn't that just great?! This went in the trash, and instead we had some watermelon and cantaloupe, some peanut butter on sourdough bread, apple juice and organic roast chicken. She ate every bite.
I don't know what is going to happen now. Gerry's dad will not be coming home for awhile. He has to go to a rehab facility. Everyone is doing what they can to help out, but everyone has busy lives already and this adds a great strain to an already busy world. In the blink of an eye, Tuesday morning all of our lives changed.
My chicks seemed to have doubled in size while I was gone. Gerry and Wesley took good care of them and they seemed happy to see me when I got home last night. They are staying outside now since our house was starting to smell like vomit. They are adapting nicely and love their coop.
This morning I got up, got a cup of coffee and went outside to give them some kale. Then went and said hello to the cat and the tomatoes and just enjoyed the quiet. This is all the life I want right now. Caring for a family, animals and food that will feed me. What more in life do we really need?
Today, I cooked a nice breakfast including homemade biscuits, and now I am going to catch up on some blogging. I had limited computer time, and only had my iphone for email, so I have some catching up to do.
I have no plans for any clay making right now, it is a time demanding craft and I have no time for it. I have actually started to consider selling my kiln and getting an electric one sometime in the future. Life is in transition, Gerry and I are looking towards a different future and considering what is next. The Universe seems to be pointing us in all the right directions and all we really have to do is listen.....
Monday, June 2, 2014
I had just moved to Asheboro, in the foothills of the Uwharrie Mountains. I had lived at the beach all my life, the guys I knew had bleached blond hair, wore rainbow leather sandals and surf shorts. I had never seen anything like Gerry Broome, and I haven't met anyone quite like him since!
This past weekend was our 29th anniversary. We went up to our favorite place in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway. The weather was cool and foggy with a misty rain falling, but it was perfect mountain weather for us. Perfect for hiking and driving around old dirt roads, and napping and drinking good roasted coffee.
Gerry has a new camera obsession since I introduced him to instagram. You should check out his photos from the weekend. What that man can do with a camera! This one below was my favorite, I made a clover necklace in this field while the clouds enveloped us. What a weekend.
Thanks Ger for a great 29 years, looking forward to the next 29!