Happy Autumn!

The trees are starting to change around here! I missed the first day of fall, but better late than never. Happy autumn everyone!

Welcome Autumn

Trip to Denver – Day One – Downtown Aquarium

We live about four hours away from Denver. With kids, we live about six hours away – we will never make it in four; I’m quite sure of it. Let’s face it – it wasn’t all my kiddos fault. We stopped for breakfast in Glenwood Springs, made the traditional stop at the rest area at the top of Vail, and then we had to make an all important Starbucks stop in Silverthorne. Had to. I had their very lovely Salted Caramel Mocha and a pumpkin muffin – I graciously let my son have the last pumpkin scone. Oh, and by the way, calories don’t count on road trips.

At the rest stop on top of Vail
At the rest stop on top of Vail

We left at five that morning, and we didn’t get to Denver until 11:00. We drove right for the Downtown Aquarium and met my lovely cousin who moved to Denver from Dallas about a year ago.

We’re classifying animals right now in science, and we just started the section on fish. This was a great way to study them up close! Surprisingly, there were also a few birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. There were also tons and tons of invertebrates.

Aquarium1

Can I tell you how excited the kids were to go to the aquarium? So excited that they would not look at me for pictures. So excited they would not stay in one place for more than two seconds. So excited that I gave up on taking decent pictures and just tried for snap shots so we could remember the day.

Aquarium2

Interested in checking out Denver’s Downtown Aquarium? Join their mailing list and they’ll send you a half-off coupon for one admission! (At least they did when I signed up)

Tomorrow I’ll post our trip to the zoo!

Soy Candle Tin Tutorial – Blueberry Cobbler

Soy candles are tricky little critters. I’ve been making them for years, and I sold them for several of those years, so I know how frustrating they can be. Candle tins are by far the easiest candle to start with. You’ll never know if you get ‘wet spots’ on the side, because you can’t see the sides of the candle!

BlueberryTin

*Please note – if you use different brands of wax/fragrance/wicks you may end up with an unsatisfactory candle. There is a ton of testing that goes into each candle – which, in this case, I’ve already done for you. All candle supplies are not made equal, and many don’t like each other at all!

Supplies (measured by weight):

4 8oz Candle Tins with a 3 inch diameter

1 lb 4 oz GB464 Soy Wax (You can buy this at many candle suppliers)

4 Eco 14 Wicks

1.5 oz Blueberry Cobbler Fragrance Oil (Candle Science Brand)

Blue Liquid Candle Dye (Candle Science)

Hot Melt Glue

Digital Thermometer

Candle Pot -or- Double boiler – or Stainless Steel Bowl (large enough to sit above your pot of boiling water)

Pot of boiling water

1. Glue your wicks into each tin. Set them in a place where they can sit for at least 12 hours undisturbed.

2. Place your wax in your candle pot or bowl and place over boiling water. Once the wax is starting to melt, add 6 – 10 drops of blue liquid candle dye. Stir often.

3. Once your wax has melted, insert your thermometer and gently stir your wax until it reaches 185 degrees F. Remove from heat.

4. Immediately add your fragrance oil. Stir gently for two minutes.

5. Once your wax has reached 160 degrees, slowly pour it into your prepared tins until in reaches the fill line.

6. There should be a little wax leftover. Set it aside for now.

7. Let the tins sit for twelve hours. If you notice frosting (swirling on the top of the candle), or if the top has cratered in, reheat the remaining wax and top off the candles with a thin layer of remelted wax. This almost always takes care of both problems.

8. Trim your wicks, and wait at least another 12 hours before you burn your candle.

BlueberryTin2

Rainy Day Portraits

I begged my sister-in-law to let me borrow her children to practice taking portraits. My own munchkins are, shall we say, slightly tired of being the guinea pigs on the other side of the lens. When I say slightly, I mean they groan and act like I’ve just asked them to scrub the kitchen floor with a toothbrush.

I was so excited to whisk my niece and nephew away to take their pictures. I had been looking up portrait ideas on Pinterest, I’d been studying my camera like a mad person, and I was ready.  Well, we woke up to rain. Of course we did, we live in Colorado, and as you may have heard – our state is washing away. Now, we live in Western Colorado, so we’re not in a flooding area, but we’re still getting crazy amounts of rain.

Needless to say, I was not going to cancel our photo shoot. I was not. I was ready to buy umbrellas, wrap my camera in a trash bag, and see what we could come up with. But you know what? We went for a quick coffee stop, and when we came out…it wasn’t raining. When we reached our destination, it still wasn’t raining!

I got to take pictures! It was so much fun! And the clouds made some great, soft light. Now I just have to find someone else who’s willing to let me take their pictures!

DSC_0197

DSC_0238
The sun peaked out from behind the clouds!

DSC_0228DSC_0129DSC_0153DSC_0358DSC_0392DSC_0504

 

Chocolate Zucchini Bread Recipe

My son was offended when I told him I was going to make chocolate zucchini bread. He was truly horrified that I was going to defile perfectly good zucchini bread with chocolate. He’s not a huge chocolate kid. Honestly, he’s not a huge dessert kid, but it’s growing on him.

My daughter? Yeah, she was pleased….

ChocolateZucchiniBread

Anyway, I found the original recipe on Taste of Home’s website, and I’m pretty sure it was one I cut out from my Grandma’s magazine back in 1996. I only made two tiny changes; I used white whole wheat flour and I cooked it in a bundt pan. It turned out great. Both my daughter and my son loved it.

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 Cups Sugar

1 Cup Vegetable Oil

3 Eggs

3 Tsp Vanilla Extract

2  Cups Whole Wheat White Flour

1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder

1 Tsp Sea Salt

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Cinnamon

1/4 Tsp Baking Powder

2 Cups Shredded Zucchini

 

1. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla until blended. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat into the wet ingredients until blended. Stir in zucchini. Transfer to greased Bundt Pan.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

DSC_0024

Easy Orange Cold Process Soap Recipe

My friend, Brittany, is quite awesome. She’s my soap-making buddy, and though we each make soap on our own, I think its more fun to make soap together!

OrangeColdProcess

We got together about a month ago to make an easy batch with another friend of ours, and we ended up with this lovely, luscious, cold process soap that just makes me so happy I had to share it with you all.

We started with the basic formula from www.soapqueen.com, and then we tweaked it a bit, checking our recipe with Brambleberry’s lye calculator. This is a pretty nifty tool, by the way.

Make sure you have your safety gear!
Make sure you have your safety gear!

So here’s what you need for a 2 lb batch:

7.5 oz coconut oil

7.5 oz palm oil

7.5 oz olive oil

2.5 oz avocado oil

3.5 oz sodium hydroxide (lye)

8.25 oz prepared calendula tea (room temperature) – you can also use water

1.5 oz orange essential oil

2 tsp paprika

2 lb loaf mold (or whatever mold you would like)

Stick Blender

Safety Gear – Gloves & Goggles

Orange Essential Oil
Orange Essential Oil
Paprika is a natural way to give your soap a great, earthy orange color!
Paprika is a natural way to give your soap a great, earthy orange color!

If you have never made cold process soap before, I suggest you watch this quick video on lye safety.

To make your soap:

1. Line your molds with freezer paper (you don’t need to do this if you’re using silicone)

2. Put on your gloves and goggles.

3. In a heat safe bowl (not aluminum), carefully sprinkle your lye into your cooled calendula tea. Do this in a well ventilated area, and be very careful not to breath in the fumes. Stir the mixture until it is clear, and then set it in a safe place to cool.

4. In a separate, large, non-aluminum bowl, melt the coconut and palm oil to combine them. Stir in the olive and avocado oil.

5. Very carefully add your cooled lye mixture to your oils, and blend with a stick blender until it reaches light trace. This will look like thin pudding.

6. Sprinkle the paprika over your soap, and then blend well. Once your paprika is blended in, add your orange essential oil and blend again.

7. Carefully pour into your mold.

8. Wait 24 hours, and then you may slice your soap.

9. Set your soap in a well ventilated area and cure for 4 – 6 weeks, turning your soap every so often to ensure even drying.

Enjoy!

DSC_0027

Free Autumn Word Art Printable – 8 x 10 Print

It’s rained all day long here! Whew! We live in sunny Western Colorado, and a full day of heavy rain is like finding a twenty dollar bill in the laundry. It’s wonderful!

Well, the moisture has cooled it down outside, and the breeze coming through the windows is pretty chilly. It’s feeling like fall!

In case it’s feeling like fall in your neck of the woods, here’s a free autumn printable for you! Just download it, and then you can either print it out at home, or send to a local print shop. It looks super cute framed! Happy Fall!

 

Click the picture and it will take you to the download. Enjoy!

*This file is for personal use only. Any use of this image for profit, whether altered or original, is strictly prohibited.

Train Them Up

My husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary on the 4th. Nine years! God blessed me with my husband. He pretty much delivered him to my doorstep and showed me he was the one, and I’m so glad God took over because I was making some pretty questionable choices in the dating department!

We had our son three years after we married, and I fell in love with my that man all over again. There is nothing like seeing your husband with your children. Nothing.

TrainUpaChild

It’s hard at first, because you both have to learn how to be parents. You make mistakes; you have regrets. There are dozens of things you wish you had done differently, but you grow, you trust God, and he leads you where you are meant to go.

My children aren’t babies anymore, but we’re still near the beginning of our homeschool journey. We still struggle, and we definitely make mistakes, but together we’re trusting God to lead us so we can train them up in the way they should go. I’m so happy I have my husband on this journey. I am blessed.

Pumpkin Caramel White Chocolate Mocha Recipe

It’s getting to be that time of year again – the time of the year when there’s a chill in the air and a pumpkin drink in my hand! I’m sharing this post from another blog I had for my Etsy business awhile back. Enjoy! 

Pumpkin Caramel White Chocolate Mocha

I love Starbucks. So very, very much. Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of cash flow that allows for daily White Chocolate Mocha stops. I know, it’s sad. I did, however, find a yummy white chocolate mocha recipe I can make at home.

The original recipe I’m about to share with you is apparently very popular. In my searches, I’ve found this recipe scattered over so many places on the internet I seriously have no idea who to give credit to. Instead, I’m going to thank the anonymous author and then give you the Pumpkin Caramel White Chocolate Mocha recipe I created myself.

The original recipe has you heat the milk in a double boiler. When it’s hot you add in the white chocolate chips and stir until they melt. I don’t have that kind of patience. Okay, actually I did try it the first time I made it. It made the kind of kitchen mess that I only allow for candle making and holiday baking. Instead, I have found that pouring the milk in a nice microwave safe measuring cup, dumping in your chips all at once, and heating in the microwave on high for a minute works quite nicely – so much less mess. Just stir it up when it’s done.

Both of these recipes will make quite a bit of the milk/white chocolate mixture. Store leftovers in the fridge and heat in the microwave for a few seconds when you want to use it again. 

Now, first things first. Here’s the original recipe:

Easy White Chocolate Mocha
•1 1/3 Cups Milk
•3/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips
•Hot, Strong Coffee
•Whipped Cream

-Heat your milk and chips in a microwave safe measuring cup for about a minute. Stir, and then heat a few seconds longer if needed. 
-Pour a little of the milk mixture in the bottom of a mug (use about the same amount you would if you were adding cream). Fill with hot coffee.
-Top with whipped cream

Now here’s my variation:

Pumpkin Caramel White Chocolate Mocha
•1 1/3 Cups Milk
•1/2 Cup White Chocolate Chips
•Hot, Strong Pumpkin Flavored Coffee 
•Caramel Dessert Sauce

-Follow the directions for the above recipe, leaving off the whipped cream. Drizzle the top with lovely, luscious, threads of caramel. 🙂