Category Archives: Handmade

15 months later ….

I actually get a fair amount of traffic on this website, mostly because of a fewselectposts.

And, I know, the worst type of blog is a neglected blog.

We moved into our house in January of 2009, and I could probably write an essay on the last two years. Not to bore you with details, here it is in a nutshell: bought a house, planted a garden, made some food, grew my business, incorporated a new business, got a new nephew, lost my dog, joined a BNI group, realized that my business was quickly becoming more than a full time job, quit making soap and candles, painted two bedrooms and our family room, had two truckloads of compost delivered to our garden, replaced a section of floor, made quite a few things including a compost bin, threw a couple of parties, made myself a new website, and now I am in the process of having my kitchen remodeled.

I’ll post pictures of the kitchen later. For those who really like pictures, here are a couple pictures of eggplant that I grew this year:


Pink, Black, and White Eggplant


The cats lucked out today when Chris decided to share his honeydew with them.

In other good news, Ratchet has landed in the US, and is very healthy! Hopefully I’ll get to meet the celebrity dog at Gwen’s homecoming party. She mentioned arranging a play date with Nigel and Puck, too. Fun, fun.

My candles just about sold out at the Eveland Family Farm, so I took a trip down last weekend with a fresh stock. I’m hoping they sell out, and I have to return next weekend with more! One lady came just to buy candles, and she raved about them for a long time. Pretty neat.

After buying countless sample wick packs, I finally found a series of wicks that work well in the feather palm pillars. I don’t know if I want to try and sell them (if anyone would even buy them), but I’m making them for Jenny’s wedding next summer, so at least now I know they will burn for 8 hours without making a mess.

All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

All-Purpose Citrus Cleaner

After running errands this morning, I discoverd our MediaCom Cable Internet was down. I was curious and called; a cable was cut and sorry No Internet For You.

That was OK, because I’d already planned on spending my day putting stuff in storage. Except that the two storage facilities in town don’t have any open spaces, and won’t until the end of the month. So, now we get to clean the garage (needs to be done anyway) and store stuff there until we can get a unit. The next closest storage units are 20 minutes away – that seems quite unnecessary.

So, I made this all-purpose cleaner with distilled water, coconut surfactants, and essential oils of sweet orange, lemon, and litsea. And it seems to work really well, but it’s a bit strong. Hopefully it will still clean well after being diluted. This is A LOT of cleaner, even diluted 50/50. I have no doubt we’ll use it all though, in this house and the next.

So, this is life.


“Skittles” layered CP soap. It doesn’t have anything to do with anything, except that it’s pretty darn cool and took me a long time to make. Note the custom soap stamp too… it doesn’t show up too well in photos, but it’s still neat.

My website business is almost full-time. This is a good thing, considering my charge per hour. But a lot of it isn’t billable time (more clients, more work = more “office-type stuff”)… on the other hand, I just filed my taxes, and I learned that the business is doing quite well for itself. If it wasn’t for the Apple iBook Pro that I bought in January last year, I would have *owed* money on my personal taxes this year. Wow.

So, it seems like it’s time for me to meet with an accountant and see if I can continue filing on Schedule C or if I need to file business taxes separately from now on. That’s going to be a fun learning project, and may involve making myself an “employee” and setting up payroll. Whoopee!

And this is where the food co-op (doesn’t) fit in. I really love my job at the food co-op, and if it was really “part-time” I’d probably be OK with it. But with my website business growing so much, I’m not putting enough time into the co-op as I should… and when I do put in enough time, I wear myself out. Blech.

Chris and I have been looking at moving/land possibilities. We found a place near Princeton that was affordable, but unfortunately the house on the property isn’t livable. I talked to a Realtor, and told him what we were looking for. We’ve lowered our expectations a bit – thinking more like 10 acres – but up-and-moving to a different part of the state would require both of us quitting our jobs (well, besides my business)… and I don’t know if we’d be able to afford *anything* with land closer to the Twin Cities than we are now.

Ugh. We’ll see. Right now, I have to make my bread dough into buns for dinner, and then drink another beer.

“This is not Dawn” Dish Soap

This is Not Dawn.

In my quest to make everything I use… I’ve been trying for an Ecover-style dishwashing detergent for some time now. We’re still doing dishes the old fashion way, and cooking elaborate meals a couple times a day makes for a fair amount of dish washing, and many bottles of dish soap. Ecover doesn’t list their exact ingredients, but after working with surfactants for a while, I narrowed it down to three – two anionic and one “zwitterionic” coconut-based surfactants. Plus water, thickener, and Essential Oils.

Right. Anyway, it took me a few times to finally get it right, and I’m very pleased with the end result. (And I have about 15 bottles of chunky or runny dish soap that works just fine, too.) I tried adding aloe vera, along with different emulsifiers, but it just separated every time. The final (good) batch has essential oils of Sweet Orange, Lemon, and Lemongrass — a bit too orangey for my nose, but I think the orange EO helps with grease-cutting. (Or, at least that’s what I’ve been told, though this does work better than my unscented dish soap, albeit liquidy and/or chunky).

I’ve done three loads of dishes today, and this stuff measures up to Ecover. It’s just a bit thinner — I hope to find a happy medium between thin and chunky some day.

I should go focus on other things now.