DIY Shampoo Bar

I love shampoo bars! I moved away from traditional shampoo and conditioner a few years ago in an effort to reduce our plastic consumption, and I have to be honest, I never expected to prefer them over regular shampoos! I have found though that my hair is healthier and more manageable since I have made the switch. I am also enjoying the unexpected side effect of less clutter in the shower!

Last summer my sister-in-law Chrissy showed me how to make shampoo bars, and since then I have been off and running. There are a few ways to make soap and shampoo bars and depending on my available time, I switch it up. Well, we are going on vacation next week and I needed a new batch – I am down to a small sliver! I don’t have time for the longer version of the process, so I opted to make a melt and pour batch, my go-to in a pinch. They are quick and easy, especially when you keep the ingredients on hand, which I do. So the other day I whipped up a quick batch of patchouli scented shampoo bars just for me! Billy is not a fan of the scent for himself, but I have always loved it, so I indulged myself a bit by making this batch. It took only half an hour or so to make them, with an hour or two of waiting for them to cool and set! Super easy, super fast, super sustainable. Plus with this recipe there is no fiddling about with lye!

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For my basic shampoo bar, you will need:

  • 1 lb. melt and pour soap base (I use the goats milk version but there are others)
  • 1 tsp. Shea Butter
  • 2 tsp Jojoba Oil
  • and your fragrance. The amount varies based on the fragrance used, Brambleberry has a calculator to help you use the appropriate amount. Since I used Brambleberry Patchouli in medium strength, this recipe called for 0.28 oz of fragrance.
  • Soap Mold – I like this one from Amazon or this one from Brambleberry
  • a double boiler or, if you don’t have one, a small pot with a baking safe bowl set on top works. I use an old pyrex bowl actually when I make soap.
  • Rubber spatula to stir, measuring spoons

When you have all of your ingredients, you can start!

  1. Get your water going and measure out your ingredients. Cut your soap base into smaller pieces, as this will help the soap to melt easier.
  2. Put your little squares into either the top of the double boiler or your heatproof bowl. Place on top of the pan with the water, which should be at bubbling away. (some people use a microwave. I don’t have one so I do it on the stovetop)
  3. You don’t want the heat to be too high, I leave mine set between low and 2, and keep stirring to make sure it melts evenly. You want all the bits to melt and form a nice milky consistency. When you have achieved this, remove from heat.
  4. Next, mix in the shea butter, the Jojoba oil, and fragrance. If you are getting fancy you can add color to your bars in this step too. For this recipe I kept things simple though.
  5. Once everything is all mixed in together, simply pour into your mold. Then wait for it to completely cool and harden. And you are done! You have made a shampoo bar!

And really that is it! If you end up making a few, let me know!


We made shampoo bars!

Over the weekend, my sister-in-law Chrissy showed me how she makes shampoo bars. We both are die hard fans of soap bars and shampoo bars, and Chrissy started making them last fall in her kitchen. For my lesson, she moved it outside and we masked up – but only for the lye. We were able to socially distance and hang out and make cool things. I have been wanting to learn how to do this but the lye freaked me out. I had visions of myself falling face first into a vat of boiling lye and emerging as a supervillain. Or something similar. So Chrissy was out to show me how non-scary this whole process really is.

Wasn’t she nice to bring everything outside to show me how to do this? I think so. One thing I learned is to have dedicated bowls and products just for soap making due to the lye. And you can’t use anything aluminum, because that could cause a bad reaction. Chrissy actually bought all of her supplies at the dollar store, including her goggles and long gloves. And then we just wore our masks that are just a normal part of life these days. (My mask is from Love Woolies). I bought my goggles and gloves from Amazon since I am not really shopping these days.

We used a recipe from The Nerdy Farmwife so if you want to make these, make sure to pop over to her site for the full instructions and not just my abbreviated version. She has many recipes as well as a soap making 101 post. That being said, after Chrissy added all the oils and shea butter it was time to add the lye. And it wasn’t as terrifying as I had imagined! You do have to take precautions though – you don’t want to get it on your skin or in your eyes, and you don’t want to inhale the fumes, so avoid breathing those in. If you have breathing issues or sensitive lungs at all, wear a mask. Do this project in a well ventilated room, no matter who you are. Chrissy said that in the winter she keeps the window open in the kitchen and sets the lye solution near it, and when she adds the lye to the water and mixes it, she turns her head away from the mixture. Also, you never want to add water to the lye; you want to add the lye to the water, or you will create a volcanic reaction. But if you follow these rules, you should be ok.

Then we waited for everything to come down in temperature. The lye solution creates a heat all of its own, which is just crazy chemistry! But the oils and things are heated up to melt everything down. So both have to cool before they can be mixed together. While we waited, we just chatted and I checked out the garden and talked to my niece who was running around the yard. A little wren came down and was singing away to us – we later realized it had built a nest in the birdhouse in the tree and was probably mad we were so close! I can’t tell you how just nice it was to be doing something different for a change. Billy had the kiddo, I was chatting with Chrissy, one of my very best friends, and the day was gorgeous.

Once everything was cooled down low enough, Chrissy mixed everything together and used an immersion blender to thicken it. You basically blend it on low until it looks like well, shampoo. You keep doing it until you get trace, which is when you pull the blender out and the drip forms a line on top. Then you carefully pour the mixture into your mold, cover it, and let it sit for 2-3 days. After that time you cut it into bars, then let it cure for however long it takes to cure, a few weeks generally. Then all you have to do is clean up! The lye solution is still active until 24 hours has passed, so you don’t want to get any of this any on your skin. Chrissy carefully washes the smaller items, but bags up the bigger items and stores them in the basement for a day or two before washing, which makes a lot of sense!

I haven’t ordered anything yet to make soap or shampoo bars from scratch – I just placed a huge order for supplies to make melt and pour soap, which basically takes the saponification out of it, but you can still add in scents and other things to personalize the soap. Once I use those supplies up, I am going to put my newfound knowledge to the test!

Thanks so much to Chrissy for taking the time and effort to show me how to do this!

Puddles and Pinecones

Over the weekend the weatherman predicted torrential rain storms, flooding, and then to top it all off, ice. Well, it did rain, a very drizzly cold rain that did do a little flooding, and raised the rivers and creeks a little bit higher. We had plans to stay inside and do fun things there for most of the day and night, but..we couldn’t resist a little splashing in puddles first!

Wyatt wears AFO’s – braces for his feet to help him stand stronger when he is working on walking and standing. We love his braces, they are great tools to help him. But they also make it hard to buy shoes and boots, boots especially, as we can’t really manipulate his foot into one with the stiff braces. But we found that Butler boots have enough give in them that they slide fairly easily right over the braces – so we ordered him a pair of bright cheery yellow boots, his favorite color, and perfect for adding some sunshine to a dreary day. Then it rained and we got our wish to go stomp around in the puddles!

The cutest little stomp and splash ever!

While we are all excited that we found boots that work with his needs, Wyatt is more excited about the fact that he now has gumboots like the character and kids on one of his favorite shows, Scout and the Gumboot Kids! This very morning while we were watching one before school (they are short and perfect for a moment like this!) Wyatt went and got his boots out and started putting them on, just like Scout and the Gumboot Kids. Gumboots are another name for rain boots, or wellies, whatever you want to call them, and this show is adorable, with nature mysteries presented by a felt mouse in his own little cardigan and gumboots. The episodes are short, with a quick mystery that includes clues, and a mindful moment, which I am hoping to incorporate more of into our lives. The talented Jessie Farrell also provides the music and song for these episodes, with lovely lilting tunes that are so catchy that kids don’t even realize they are learning as they are singing along. As a companion to the Scout series, there is also Daisy and the Gumboot Kids, and Daisy is a crafty little mouse full of ideas for nature crafts. We love these shows and I love the inspiration they provide, while teaching Wyatt about all sorts of things – caterpillars and butterflies, space, agates, trees, dinosaurs are some of our favorites!

Not only is this series on television, they are now a series of books published by Firefly Books! We were lucky enough to receive a set of four signed books before Christmas, and now that the holidays are over, we really have time to spend looking through them together and talking about what we read. These books are beautiful, with full page artwork that captures the eye and attention, as page-size photos of the characters that Wyatt loves, solving the mysteries on paper within a book! Each book also contains two pages of field notes that relate to the mystery, mindful moments, and a nature craft. There is so much within the pages to inspire creativity and learning! We have been having a lot of fun with them. We also received a cute little coloring and activity book, a signed CD of Jessie Farrell’s music for the show, and stickers!

Today we spent some time reading through the books a little after school – Wyatt likes to “read” them to me too.

After we read about bird feeders and butterflies, I had a book and craft set up in the other room waiting for us.

We read the book, The Wooden Timekeeper, and talked about conifer trees, pincones, and the rings on trees, and how when you count them you can find the age of the tree. Wyatt really liked playing with the pinecones and petrified wood the best.

I showed him the pictures in the book of the craft, and let him choose whether we made an owl, bear, or mouse. My sweet boy chose to make an owl, my favorite! It was a group effort, with him doing the gluing while I helped out with the placement and cutting. We had a great time reading and making this little owl together! And look how cute!

Scout and the Gumboot Kids and the series, both on television and the books by Firefly Books are such a great resource for kids to learn, and entertaining and cute to boot! (yeah, see what I did there..)

Thanks to Firefly Books for the wonderful gift of the books, CD and extra little fun things!

A Wild and Woodsy Birthday Weekend

This weekend was my son’s fourth birthday! Time flies – I never knew how fast until I became a mom.  One minute he’s my little peanut baby boy and the next he is a big time four year old!

We love to be outside, especially in the winter, so this weekend we kicked off celebrations with a special outing just for the three of us to the Howell Nature Center. The Howell Nature Center is a rehab facility for wild animals that get sick or injured, with most of the animals being returned to the wild. However, not all of their animals are able to return due to the severity of their injuries, and reside at the Nature Center.

It was a cold and snowy morning, so we had the place to ourselves, which was nice honestly. Quiet, peaceful…until the Sandhill Cranes figured out it was their feeding time. Wow they are so loud! It was pretty cool to hear them though, and we watched them get fed. When we approached the enclosure the pair were excited, asking their caretakers for their frozen mice. And on the ground was an egg! The female had laid an egg, unfertilized, but an egg. It was really huge and pretty, and brand new. The woman working said it would be used for educational purposes. It was neat to see!

After watching the cranes, we wandered around, visiting the other enclosures. Some animals were being housed indoors for the winter, but many were still in their homes and feeling like visiting us, such as the bobcat, who strolled on by like a giant indifferent cat; the beautiful foxes – my favorite – Vixen and Copper, who were rescued from a breeder in Ohio that was going to use them for fur; the mink, who was flipping and flopping and playing all over his enclosure; and many mammals, like the deer, the coyote, and the porcupine. And we saw almost all of the birds – including two beautiful snowy owls! Yeti is a snowy that is their most recent intake. He was found in a back yard, starving, having been hit by a car as well, with a broken wing, no longer able to fly. We saw so many owls and hawks and eagles – I also fell in love with a handsome guy named Leo, who is a long eared owl. He was so cool!

On Sunday, we celebrated with a party for the boyo! We go to our local metropark all the time, and Wyatt loves it there. So it made sense to have it at the nature center! We did an owl theme, since my kiddo loves owls (and does a pretty good imitation of an Eastern Screech!) and there was so much for the kids to play and do. The interpreters read the book Owl Babies to the kids, then had them all make the cutest little owl babies out of pinecones and cotton! It was such a simple little craft, and the kids really enjoyed it! Although getting them all to stay in one place was a little like herding cats. They would wander around, come back, make another – typical preschooler behavior. They all did such a nice job though, and the interpreters did a great job with the kids. It was the perfect activity.

We kept the food simple, just pizza and some trail mix, pretzels and Teddy Grahams – and of course cake and ice cream. I went a little crazy ordering the cake, but it was beautiful and delicious. Then we just opened gifts, and let the kids explore and play for a while. It was a really nice day – and it even snowed for us, causing the woods to look gorgeous and all the birds to flock to the feeders. We saw so many different birds, but the most brilliant were the cardinals, with their red feathers so bright against the snow. At the end of the afternoon, we said goodbye, and handed out the goodie bags that my stepdad made that looked like cute little owls! Inside we had a small decorative birdhouse for all the kids.


We were all exhausted of course afterwards, but it was more than worth it. My boy had a wonderful, fun day with all his friends, just the way it should be on your birthday.


Snapshot Saturday


My prayers go out to anyone suffering right now – I feel like every time I turn on the news, something is happening that breaks my heart.  Much of my last week was spent glued to the news too – there was a lot going on, and while I try my best to not get over inundated with current events for my own mental health, the past two weeks or so have demanded my attention. The timing of these events coincided coincidentally with a 30 Day Slow Down Childhood Challenge that I joined, and honestly, with the way I have been feeling, it was perfect timing. I needed something positive, and the challenge has forced me to do new things, and focus on my family and family time. And it is time very well spent.
For instance, last Wednesday I was having a rough day. Our challenge was to create a family moondala – something I had never heard of before but we were game. Billy and I are creative, and together make a good team, and it was fun to do a creative project with Wyatt. A moondala is a visual representation of what you hope to do in the next month, or lunar cycle. It can include drawings, bits of nature, whatever you want to represent these ideas. So, I poured myself into gathering the materials we might need, and then after dinner, we gathered around our table and started putting it all together. Billy and I really got involved in it, more than I thought we would! Definitely a case of the parents having more fun than the child. Lol. We had a lot of fun, and Wyatt did too, adding stickers and directing us on where he thought certain aspects would go. It was a hopeful, optimistic project, and it was just fun to sit as a family and make. I would think in families with older kids, etc everyone could make their own too.
I think we are going to try to do this every month!

We Get Our Creative On

DIY3 I love my friends. I don’t get to see them as much anymore, now that we are all crazy running around to work or with kids or all the other stuff that comes with being an adult, but we do try to get together at least once a month for book club – and sometimes to try a new thing! In the past we have gone to those paint and sip nights, where  everyone paints the same picture and drinks wine, and have had a blast – although we have ended up with paintings that don’t always match our decor (like the giant peacock that I have). Not that it matters that much, it’s all about the fun!

Well, my neighbor is super crafty and talented, and runs a business for a DIY wooden sign making. In fact, I can hear her outside cutting all the boards right now for an upcoming show. So after a flurry of emails between all of us, we managed to coordinate our schedules to have a night of sign making (and drinking).

I have to admit, I had some anxiety over this activity! Lol. We were having it at my friend’s immaculate house that looks like a magazine, and I kept thinking oh lord, what if the paint spills? I wanted to go crazy tarping off her whole house. That was unnecessary however – the whole process is very tidy and neat – at least the way Heather does it. In fact everything was so organized and efficient that we had the easiest time making them! All we had to do was follow the directions, drink our wine, eat our snacks, and have a good time. Which we did!


It was quite simple the way Heather did it – everyone’s signs were precut, the wood and the stencils. She set out our materials in front of us and led us through it step by step. We could choose our color palette from a huge array of colors, and kind of play around if we chose as well. My friend Kelly mixed two colors for her background to come up with a cool spooky gray (she made her sign for Halloween decorating) and Chrissy played around with colors to make a fun color for her moon sign too. We painted and sanded and peeled, and picked the little plastic out from the letters, which while tedious I strangely enjoyed, talking and eating and laughing the whole time, peeking at each other’s creations. And then we were done! Everyone did a great job I think, and we had quite a variety! From Kelly’s “Ill Behaved Children Will Be Baked Into Pies” to Chrissy’s phases of the moon, to Mary’s “As For Me and My House, We Will Serve Tacos”, to Jill’s family monogram that will go up in their new house, to my acorn and nature sign, I think they were all quite individual and unique, just like us!


Here is my sign, all finished. It is not hanging yet, I can’t quite decide if I want it in Wyatt’s room or above his play table, which will soon be moved to my office. So for now I move it about. The acorn is kind of our family talisman – it stands for many things, but mainly because my little guy is such a tiny guy. I was a small kid too, and my grandma always used to say “From tiny acorns grow mighty oaks”. She herself was a tiny firecracker of a lady, so it was very appropriate. And I usually do have an acorn in my pocket – in fact, they are stashed all over my house, squirrel like I guess.

We had a blast – and I am looking forward to our next thing, whatever that may be!




Easy-Peasy DIY Valentines Day Banner

February in Michigan can be tough. Gray, sunless, gray, cold. Did I mention gray? Michigan only had two days of sunshine in the past thirty days. So this year, I decided I was going to try to embrace February to make it a cheerier month in our household. I usually don’t decorate for Valentines Day – typically I am not organized enough, and it has come and gone before I can do so! But this year, with the help of my amazing husband, we have managed to decorate in a very bijou and petite way. And that is a good start, I think! 
I have tons of ideas, I am always thinking of different projects. Unfortunately, my creative flow kind of ends there. I am all thumbs when it comes to crafting, I can’t draw, etc. Luckily, Billy can make anything. Today, he lent a hand in making a sweet little Valentines Day banner for our dining room. And I love it! 
The materials were simple, and cheap. A romance novel we rescued from the recycle bin at the library, that was already falling apart, and which my husband meticulously removed the pages from, sticker paper, twine, and a printer. Ordinarily I would not support this destruction of reading material, but honestly, this book was already falling apart. Billy then cut the pages into the little banner shapes, and folded over a teeny bit of the top of the page, so that he could run a line of twine through it to hang them. He just used some tape afterward to hold it all down.  He had also printed out stickers spelling out Hugs and Kisses, using a free font that he found online, which he then just stuck onto the pages. I would link to the website of the font if he could remember where he got it from! As soon as I find out, I will add a link. 
Once this part was all put together, he strung them and hung it. 
I think it turned out pretty cute!

Due to the absence of light in our state, it was really hard to take a photo! Sorry for the poor photo quality there. 
I have a few more Valentines Day surprises in the works, and I am excited to keep working on them!
How are you celebrating this month? Anything planned?