Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Homade Lotion Bars

September has been a busy time of returning to work and getting resettled into a regular schedule of work and home.  We have started a couple of home improvement projects that we had hoped to get to before summer was over but it was just too hot.  Now that we are enjoying cooler fall temperatures, it is time to move forward with some painting and replacing of carpets and flooring.   At the moment, the house is a bit torn up and everywhere I look there are things to be done.  But it's Sunday, time to take a break and do something fun.  So, after church while The Investigator was watching his football games I decided to try something new.  

I have been doing a little research on homemade lotions bars and I wanted to try making them for myself.  It turned out to be quite easy to do. 

 For my first try I decided to use three simple ingredients, coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax. 

The use of beeswax dates back to ancient Egypt where it was written by historians that Cleopatra used it in her cosmetics and bath soaps. It's a natural anti-inflammatory and seals in moisture to the skin.  I chose pure white beeswax pearls because they are more refined than the yellow wax which is used for candles.

Next, I chose refined shea butter which comes from Africa and is extracted from the shea nut.  It helps with skin elasticity. 

This is what the shea nut looks like.

<b>Shea</b> <b>nuts</b>; magic beans! (Photo: Erik (HASH) Hersman /Flickr)

 Finally, I chose organic coconut oil which is rich in fatty acids, penetrates the skin and helps keep moisture in.  It is also soothing to skin that has been mildly damaged by the sun.

I measured equal amounts of each ingredient into a large mason jar.  After placing the jar into a pan of water I boiled the water and stirred constantly until all the solids had melted into a clear liquid. At this point I could have added an essential oil but I wanted just the light clean scent of the coconut oil. 

I poured the liquid into my "molds" which which was just an old muffin tin filled with cupcake papers to give the bars a small ruffled edge.  Once they were filled I set them aside to cool.  It took only too a few minutes for them to begin to harden.

Now all I needed to do was sit back and have a drink of cold lemonade and relax as I waited for everything to harden.  It was Sunday after all.

After a couple of hours I came back and removed my bars from the molds.  They came out perfect, pure and natural, no chemicals.  Just lightly rub on your warmed skin after a shower.  The warmth of your skin melts a little of the oils onto your skin to moisturize and protect with just a hint of coconut.  Now don't you think these would make a lovely gift?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Paradise Pear Jam

Over the years anyone who has known my mom well knows how much she loves to cook.  My childhood is filled with memories of either watching or helping her put together delicious meals and treats in her kitchen.  Every year at harvest time she especially enjoyed making jam from whatever fruit that would come her way.  Living in Southern California it was usually strawberry, peach and apricot.

When my dad was stationed in the desert, close friends from our church would give her bags and bags of pomegranates from their orchard. She would squeeze out the juice and make beautiful ruby red jars of pomegranate jelly.   Oh to have those pomegranates today, (sigh of wistfulness and delight).

There was even a time when we were camping in New England and we came across a farm where we could pick raspberries.  When we had gathered enough berries Mom stopped at a store and got supplies to make raspberry jam right there at our campsite.  When the park ranger stopped by, to his amazement she sent him on his way with a freshly made jar of raspberry jam.

So it should come as no surprise that when my mom moved near to us and had access to our pear tree that she had a special jam recipe all ready to go.  This year when she picked up her pears I asked if I could come over to help and watch just as I used to years ago.  Come along and watch with me and if you like what you see you can find the recipe Here.

If you like marmalade most likely you would enjoy this jam as it has seven ingredients including orange and lemon peels along with pineapple and cherries added to pears.

When I arrived Mom had already done much of the prep work, including chopping up the fruit and slicing up the orange and lemon rind.

All that was left to prepare was peeling and mashing up the pears.

 Soon everything was ready to place in the pot.  Mom poured in the pectin and began cooking down the fruit.

Once it came to a boil it was time to add the sugar. She cooked and stirred it until it reached a full rolling boil.  Then, she boiled it for one minute.


Once the fruit was cooked and ready it was time to pour it into the jars and place in the canner.

We used a steam canner rather than a water bath but you could use whichever you prefer and process accordingly.

There is her finished product.  Isn't it beautiful?  Look at all the rich beautiful color and texture.  These will go into the cupboard until Christmas time.  Then, when Mom has her friends over for lunch or tea each guest will get to take a jar home to savor over the holidays.  I hope you have enjoyed spending an afternoon watching my mom make jam as much as I did.  Perhaps if you drop in to her house for tea she will send you home with your own special jar of  Pear jam.