Sunday, July 28, 2013

Summertime Fun - Beautified

I decided that I had to cover up the parts of the new septic tank that sticks up above the ground and what better way to do this than with perennials.  During this time of year they are on sale so I got some good deals.

For your viewing pleasure the before and after pictures.

Very plain looking isn't it?

Here's my collections of perennials.

Close up of the purple coneflowers (or Echinacea)  More on this plant here.

The some of the other plants I got.  The one in the front is Catmint and I picked up 7 carnation plants for $1.98 each.  What a bargain!

After planting and watering.

The beginning of my perennial garden.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Summertime Fun - Revisited

If you recall from my previous Summertime Fun blog, we have a septic problem.  Well, the problem is now resolved and I have pictures to prove it.  Not only did we replace the entire septic system, but I gained almost a whole new front yard to boot!  Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Just a reminder of what we started with at the end of June 2013

Here they are digging an even bigger hole to put the new tank in.  Note that no matter how deep he digs, there is nothing but sand.  Also of note the big evergreen bush is GONE! (this is a good thing)

The hole is dug and we are waiting for the tank to be delivered.

Backing up the truck

Lifting the tank

The tank is in place.

Finishing putting the tank together.

Final inspection of it put together.

Close up

Here they have installed the pipe from the house to the tank and are starting to backfill the hole.

A trench has been dug for the pipe going to the drain field.

Laying the pipe to the drain field

Here's what the drain field looks like before it's covered up.

The end of the drain field.

A look at the system from the end of the drain field.

Another look.  Also, this is the south side of the house.  All those windows really help heat the place on a sunny winter's day.

Filling in the trench.  He had to do this since it was the only way he could get the heavy equipment out.

Here they are setting up the tank pump.

Close up

Filling in the holes and smoothing things out.

Almost done here.

Finishing up

The pictures you see before are a before and after view of the yard.  On the plus side.  I'm very sure that we won't have to worry about mowing a lot of this part of the yard!


After  - All done!  Note that all the work you see here was done in two 90 degree days.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chocolate Drops and Orange Eucalyptus

Here's what I have been up to lately.  So far since I started making soap the end of May, I have made soap every weekend.  I took a break this weekend because I needed to start working on jewelry for my fall & winter shows.  I am also going to try and do a show at South Padre Island in Texas during January 2014.  Busy times ahead!

So, here are some pictures of the soap I have made and also something wonderful my husband made for me, he is a genius! (Don't tell him I said that, I'll never hear the end of it!)

First I am going to show you the soap I call Chocolate Drops.  I used actual cocoa powder (the kind you use to make hot chocolate, put in cakes, etc) for the 'drop' part of it.  This was my first time using it, so it's kind of experimental.  I don't know yet how it will turn out when using it, so I won't be selling any until I use it myself.

After I cut it into bars, I realized I should have mixed the chocolate part with the uncolored soap.  But that's why you experiment, right?

Chocolate Drops
This wasn't a big batch of soap, which was fine with me since I was doing an experiment anyway.

Chocolate Drops
I have cut it into bars and you can see where the chocolate streaked a bit when I sliced them.

Below are pictures of the Orange Eucalyptus soap I made.  It smells wonderful!
Oil for soap
Here's the pot with my oils I had to melt.  The flakes you see are Palm Kernel oil, the solid white blobs are vegetable shortening (think Crisco) and the tan chunks on the right side of the pot are raw, unrefined Shea Butter.

This soap came out more 'sticky' so I had to let the soap log dry for a week before I cut it. This was probably because I used less lye than I should have.  I didn't realize I didn't have enough lye until I had reached the point of no return!  Live and learn eh?
Orange Eucalyptus soap log
Here's the log after I took it out of the mold.  I failed to compact it a bit there on the right side as you can see the holes.

Orange Eucalyptus soap log close-up
Here's a close up of the top of the soap.

Soap Cutter
Here's what my wonderful husband surprised me with when I got home from work on Friday.  A soap cutter!  Now I can be even more precise when I cut the soap log into bars.  I love you honey!

Soap Cutter
Another angle

Here I have put the Orange Eucalyptus log in my new soap cutter.  You can also see the previous soap I have made that is on the drying rack.  I have the Chocolate Drops and Jasmine soap drying here.

A closeup before I start cutting.

Perfect cut!

You can see here where I have cut the soap into even bars.

I've added the new Orange Eucalyptus soap to the drying rack.  It was somewhat dry on the outside, but when I cut into the soap, it was a bit sticky.  I think I'll have to let these dry for about 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks.

Another angle.  You see the Jasmine soap in the foreground.  I have some labels I printed out from some brown grocery bags that are ready to be trimmed.

I am using brown grocery bags to print my labels.  No only am I recycling, but I also like the paper wrappers being heavier than regular paper.  That scroll-work design color will change depending on the soap it's wrapped in.  For instance, when I make lavender soap, I'll be doing them in purple.