Events

Lansing Community Library Art Show

IMG_20180303_141310_580ABM_152070807320180303_140717ABM_152070803620180303_140458ABM_152070799720180303_140435ABM_152070794720180303_140419ABM_1520707888ABM_1520710197Jaime Hazard art show

Welcome to my first art show! It’s from now until the end of April at the Lansing Community Library. I had a lot of fun revisiting my past work for this show and also creating some new things. I hope people can see it in person but if you can’t, I’ve included images of everything on display. Plus, all prints are available in my online shop. The library had to reduce my long-winded artist’s bio so it fits onto their marketing materials so the following is the official bio that I wrote:

Jaime Hazard has been a wildlife enthusiast ever since she hatched with all the other tadpoles in her clutch. Paired with that was a love of all things arts and crafts. In high school she studied art, played in several bands, walked dogs at the SPCA and spent every free second at the zoo. When it came time to decide what to study in college she was torn between animals and art. Animals eventually won out and she went on to earn an associates degree in Veterinary Technology from SUNY Delhi and for a little while she actually worked at the zoo she’d practically lived in as a teenager. Being the lifelong learner she is, she went on to earn a bachelors degree in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a masters degree in Environmental Communication and Participatory Process from SUNY ESF. Jaime went on to work as a field biologist and biological technician in various locations all over the United States including Yellowstone National Park. And although her work focused mainly on threatened and endangered species of reptiles and amphibians, she’s not biased. She loves all animals equally (with the exception of crabs, of course).

Needless to say, art definitely became an afterthought until one day a friend commissioned her to create some recycled jewelry for her store. Wanting to put her own personal touch on things, Jaime decided to depict her own experiences working with animals into small jewelry-sized works of art. What she discovered through that process was that her once very precise technical style had turned into loose, haphazard scribbles and what would normally take her months of agonizing over every detail was a quick, extremely satisfying, worry-free process of creation. These works are on display here as well as many more that she’s done since.

When Jaime’s not drawing, she’s working at Cornell University where she helps diagnose parasitic infections in every imaginable creature that this universe has cooked up so they can live long, healthy lives. She also teaches private tai chi and qigong lessons, volunteers for Hospicare, is diligently writing a book on life and death care, takes every opportunity to dance with complete reckless abandon, is obsessed with all things paranormal, makes and sells soap, builds furniture (and is currently working on a teardrop camper), and happily cohabitates with her furry best friends. Jaime would also like to warmly invite you to visit her photography exhibit coming up in May at Hopshire Farm and Brewery which will showcase some of her favorite moments of being a field biologist.

 

Events

Today is the big day!

Today is the grand opening of my long-lost and newly found friend, Shenandoah’s new store, Local Mojo. I wish her the absolute best! I love how she’s displayed all my goodies. Humm…I think I’ll take one of everything, please. She’s got a great eye for presentation, which I completely lack. Trust me, creating a nice looking display is a lot harder than one would think. I’m excited to see for myself what the rest of the store looks like. She’s gone above and beyond getting it ready, from refurbishing the floors to finding the perfect displays and moving them across the country. I bet it’s amazing! If you’re in the Ocean City, MD area, do us a favor and visit (3406 Coastal Highway). Make sure to clean her out so I can happily make more goodies. Cheers to making your dreams come true, Shen! May your first day exceed your expectations!

More on my travels in a bit. I’m on the last leg of my journey now and hope to arrive in Yellowstone today. It’s been one heck of an adventure but my car and my body are both looking forward to being stationary for a little while. And real food wouldn’t hurt either.

Sweet Pea's Groceries, Updates

Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap

Hudson Valley Seed Library soapThe Hudson Valley Seed Library Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap is finally available for purchase online and they’ve already had a few sales within the first couple hours of posting it. Yessss….that always feels good. I hope my hard work pays off for them. I literally had to make this soap four times before I got it to my liking. It ended up being a really cool Frankenstein’s monster of a soap because I used elements from each failed attempt to come up with the end result. The little colored, kaleidoscope chunks are from the first two trials, the colorful swirled design is from the third attempt and the fourth is where I fused it all together.

I also crunched the numbers and determined that it’s 82.7% organic so that’s almost as close as you can get with soap. There’s no such thing as 100% organic soap because although sodium hydroxide (better known as lye) is essential to soap making, it’s not organic. Because of that, soap can only be labeled as “made with” organic ingredients instead of “organic” or “100 percent organic”. I also learned that the USDA allows you to exclude water and salt when calculating your percentages so that’s helpful in bumping up your number. To get more of the skinny on organic labeling, visit here.

Here are the Kaleidoscope Carrot Soap ingredients:

  • organic extra virgin olive oil
  • organic coconut oil
  • organic sunflower oil
  • organic, non-gmo pure carrot juice
  • distilled water
  • sodium hydroxide
  • sweet basil & sweet orange essential oils
  • natural colorants (spirulina, indigo powder, sandalwood powder and alkanet root)
  • Kaleidoscope Carrot seeds

 

 

Sweet Pea's Groceries, Updates

The last bits of craftiness

 

 

beach blankets

I’m thrilled to report that the light-weight, quilted beach blankets (bed covers, tablecloths, tapestries, picnic blankets, couch/chair covers, whatever you wish…) are finished and being shipped off to OC Local Mojo with the rest of the goodies today. Pictures do not do them justice. They were so much fun to make and I wanted to keep them all, however, I have enough quilts as it is so I was able to talk myself out of hoarding them.

Here’s the final result of my flaxseed, rice, lavender herb and lavender essential oil hot/cold pack making jam session:

hot/cold packs

hot/cold packs
Eye pillows

For both projects, I used clothes purchased from the Salvation Army on half price day. I literally walked out of that store with enough fabric to make the hot/cold packs, all of the blankets and a whole heck of a lot more for under $30. When I got home, I cut the seams out of the clothes (which I saved for other projects) and used the material like you would if you had just bought it off the bolt at the store. The hot/cold packs are made with from two super soft pairs of pajama bottoms. Plus, I salvaged some velcro from a few of the garments and made the packs refillable for when they need an aromatherapy refresher.

That’s all of my creations for a while. Now it’s on to packing!

Sweet Pea's Groceries

Commercial VS Handmade Soap

handmade soapPeople often ask me what the difference is between commercial soaps and handmade soaps. I also get the question of why handmade soaps don’t last a long as “regular” soaps. Well the easiest thing to say is that they are almost completely different animals that cannot be accurately compared or put into the same category.

Here is the ingredients list for Irish Spring: sodium tallowate (animal fat), sodium cocoate (coconut oil), and/or sodium palm kernelate (palm kernel oil), water, sodium hydroxide (the saponifying agent otherwise known as lye), hydrogenated tallow acid (skin conditioner), coconut acid (skin conditioner), glycerin (skin conditioner), fragrance (of unknown origin), sodium chloride (table salt to increase the hardness of the bar), pentasodium pentetate (an agent that improves the bars performance in hard water), pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate (an antioxidant that prevents the soap from becoming rancid over time), titanium dioxide (a mineral whitener), D&C green No. 8, FD&C Green No. 3 (dyes).

Here’s the general list of ingredients I use to make my soaps: distilled water/homemade beer/pure carrot juice/organic coconut milk; olive, organic coconut, castor, rice bran and avocado oils; sodium hydroxide; herbs/oats/coffee grounds; and essential oils.

Clearly, there’s a lot more going on in the Irish Spring. It’s animal fat based and they’ve added hardeners, conditioners, fragrances, dyes and other ingredients that make it vastly different from a handmade bar. Keep in mind, your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it does seep into your body and is processed internally. I think we conveniently like to forget that. I can’t say which you will or should prefer. That’s completely up to you. But for those who are looking for the longevity of a commercial soap but want to go handmade, here are my tips:

* Keep bar soap away from water when not in use. If your soap dish does not have drainage, throw it out or make some sort of craft project out of it but certainly don’t use it for handmade soaps. Standing water will most definitely turn your soap to goop and waste your hard-earned bucks.

* Ask your soapist how long ago the soap was made. Generally speaking, most soaps are considered cured and ready to sell and use in four to six weeks. This waiting period is mostly to let the excess water evaporate and allow the soaps to shrink. After that time it’s safe to package them without the labels getting dewy and not fitting properly. I find that the longer the soap is allowed to sit, the harder the bar is and the longer it lasts because even after six weeks it’s still losing some moisture. So letting soap sit for a few more weeks is certainly not the worst idea if you’re looking for a harder, longer-lasting bar. There is a threshold here though. I wouldn’t let it sit for too long because: 1. the excess oils may turn rancid and 2. those skin-benefiting oils may be drying out. So store your soaps in a cool, dry, dust-free location and aim to use them within a few months of purchase. Honestly, I’m still using soaps that I made a year ago with no problems. They’re super hard and lasting me forever, however, I’m creating a trade-off because I’ve more than likely lost some of the benefits of the excess, superfatted oils drying up over time. I try to tip the scales back in my favor though by slathering my body with a lotion or butter after my shower. My advice is to figure out where your sweet spot is and go with it.

* Consider the base oils. 100% olive oil soaps take a long time to fully cure, months in fact, and will remain softer compared to a coconut oil/olive oil combo which takes only a few weeks to cure. Compared to olive oil, coconut oil is a lot harder and will lend itself to a longer lasting bar with a great lather, however, saponified coconut oil is nowhere near as conditioning to the skin and will often give you that tight feeling if it’s present in too high of a concentration. So there is a trade-off. It just depends on what you’re looking for.

* Salt. I was taught that adding a little bit of table salt to the mix creates a harder bar but due to my general disdain for the stuff, I’ve yet to try. Commercial soaps use it as a hardener and it certainly can be added to any handmade recipe. Gourmet salts, such as Himalayan pink salt, are now all the rage so you can easily find a wealth of luxurious handmade salty soaps on the market if you do a little exploring.

Making Crafty Magic, Tutorials

Tutorial: Handmade Heat Packs & Sachets

herbal heat pack tutorialWell, if you’ve been following this blog at all recently, you’ll know that I’ve been a hurtin unit. My belly aching has been sounding like a broken record. Ouch this, ouch that! One of the few things making it possible for me to even stand in the morning has been the religious, nightly use of my homemade heat pack. Originally, I made one for myself and one for a friend with migraine relief in mind. Luckily, I haven’t had even the slightest headache in a while so I haven’t been able to test it out (knock on wood). However, my friend has been finding her’s to be helpful. Instead, mine has been employed in the sore muscle relief capacity. Let me tell you, I need to make an entire outfit out of this blend!

If you don’t know how to sew, have no fear. You can use iron on hem tape at best or a sock at worst (just fill it and knot the open end). Here’s what I used:

♥ Scrap fabric

♥ 2 pounds of jasmine rice (not the microwaveable kind…yuck)

♥ 0.02 pounds of calendula from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ o.04 pounds of chamomile from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ o.o5 pounds of lavender from the bulk herb section of the health food store

♥ 2-3 drops of rosemary essential oil added to the mix

♥ Velcro to seal up one end so you can empty and refill it.

I basically eye-balled the herb amounts so don’t sweat it if you have more or less. All of the herbs are completely optional. They’re great for migraine relief but not essential for muscle pain relief. I was able to make two hot packs plus two sachets (for those stinky drawers) out of the mix. The packs can be either put in the refrigerator or microwaved depending on your ailment(s). The total cost of the rice and herbs came out to be around $5.00. Not too shabby considering that a vendor at the farmers market sells them for $12 each.

Here’s to a pain-free existence!

Health, Wellness & Enjoyment, Tutorials

Tis the Season for Tincture Time

DSCF3022Okay, I’ve been sitting on these puppies since April and they’re now more than ready. In that span–while the herbs jovially intermingled with the alcohol–they’ve lived in three different homes and seen their fair share of vigorous shakes. They’ve paid their dues and now they’re ready to fulfill their medicinal destiny. Back in April, I procured organic herbs from the bulk section of my local health food store, recycled some food jars, and purchased two bottles of 100-proof alcohol from the liquor store. (For the love of everything holy, do not use rubbing alcohol or anything remotely toxic if ingested! You can use rum, distilled water, vinegar or vegetable glycerin if you don’t want to go the vodka route.) Easily enough, I put the herbs into their own jars and covered them completely with the alcohol. I labeled the jars with the name & date, stored them in a dark, cool location, and shook them as often as I could (like the non-suggestive version of the Shake Weight). The tinctures were ready to be strained and used, ideally, after six months but it took me a little longer to get my act together. (No worries though because we’re talking about 100-proof vodka here–it’s not going to go bad!) The herbs I chose were valerian, horsetail, witch hazel, dandelion leaf, lemon balm, comfrey leaf, raspberry leaf, lavender, St. John’s wort, chamomile, yarrow and rosemary. I chose each herb for very specific reasons HOWEVER, due to the fact that the FDA would be on my ass quicker than I can even blink, I’ll just have to recommend doing your own herbal homework. There’s a plethora of fantastic resources out there but this is my favorite. Now, whenever I get even the slightest notion that I may be coming down with some yucky illness, I can crack open a jar and take a teaspoon 1 to 3 times/day. More than likely, I’ll probably hide it in my smoothie because I’m a total wimp! The tinctures will last for at least two years so I’ll easily get my money’s worth.

Tutorials

How to disarm a Snuggie

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I’m not sure how I ended up with a Snuggie, all I know is that I tried to use it for it’s intended purpose and all that extra fabric tripped me and sent me flying. Without a doubt, Snuggies are like deadly weapons to us short folk. Instead of burning that evil thing, I decided to make it into a simple, harmless blanket. Snuggies are a dime-a-dozen now. Right this very second, you can easily find one or two at your local thrift store. That’s a lot of good fleece just waiting to be repurposed. Here’s how I exacted my revenge:

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I cut the entire top half off just above the useless pouch pocket. Of course I saved the top half with the sleeves so that I could eventually make it into a mega stylish fleece half-shirt.
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I made a blanket stitch with embroidery floss across where I cut it. This is fleece so it won’t fray, thus making this step totally optional, but it looks mighty nice.
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I picked up some eco-felt from the craft store and made this owl, which anyone can do. Just use this picture as a template if you like. It’s basically a bunch of simple shapes laid on top of one another. Easy peasy.
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First, you may want to glue all of your pieces down to the main part of the body to help keep everything in place. Fabric or craft glue will work just fine. Using embroidery floss, hand-stitch the eyes, nose, wings and buttons to the body. Then place it where you want it and hand-sew the entire outside of the bird to the Snuggie. Then add the feet.
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Voila! You have an adorable–and harmless–fleece throw. Mine has two owls in the bottom corners and I kept the pouch at the top because I can stash my remote in it. This would be a fantastic baby blanket (minus the buttons for safety purposes).

Here’s a great tutorial on how to do a blanket stitch.

Here’s a tutorial on hand-sewing basic stitches and knotting.

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Here’s my Snuggie blanket covering Petunia’s chair. We both use it all the time since it’s now the perfect size. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Tutorials

How to make herbal salves

As a follow-up to yesterdays post on making your own herbal infusions (here), today, I’m showing you how I use those oils to make beeswax (or candelilla wax for the lovely vegans out there) salves and lip balms. So without further ado…balms away!

salves

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Gather all your goodies into one central location because this requires some hustling.
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Portion out some of your infused oil into a measuring cup. I like a 4 to 1 ratio of oil to wax. Some people on the internet suggest 2.5 cups of oil to 1 ounce of beeswax. However, the amount of beeswax depends on how hard you want your salve to be. The more wax, the harder it will be. It’s all a matter of personal preference.
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Create a double boiler by filling your pot with water so it reaches the same level as the oil in your measuring cup. Put the pot on the stove and begin heating your water and your measuring cup.
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Melt your wax or if you’re using wax shavings/pastilles you can skip this step and just throw them straight into your measuring cup with the oil.
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Add the desired amount of wax to your oil and stir like crazy until they begin to melt together. Then turn off your stove.
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Add a couple drops of vitamin E oil.
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Add a couple of drops of grapefruit seed extract. This and the vitamin E oil will help preserve your oils. These are optional steps though.
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Are there any essential oils you’d like to add? Or if you’re making lip balm, now’s the time to add a flavoring oil (you can usually find them in the cake decorating/baking aisle in the grocery store) and perhaps some stevia so it tastes yummy. This is all optional of course. Personally, I prefer mine without all the bells and whistles.
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Add a few drops of essential oil at the very end just before you begin to pour the mixture into the container(s). You don’t want to get your mixture too hot at any point in this process. You just want the oil and the wax to combine. If it gets too hot your essential oil(s) will evaporate.
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This is where the cold spoon comes in handy. Take your chilly spoon and dip it into your mixture. This will give you an idea of the consistency of the salve when it solidifies. Now is the time to tweak your oil to wax ratio if need be.
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Pour your salve into clean, dry containers. Let them sit until they solidify (like the two on the left). Now enjoy! You’ve just made something totally awesome!

Tutorials

How to make herbal oil infusions & tinctures

Unfortunately for me, I lost almost half of my blog posts when I split my two blogs last year. I have no idea where the heck they went but they’re long gone. Most of these missing posts were tutorial in nature and it would be a shame to not repost them. Luckily, I was smart enough to save all of the photos so I can do just that. My first re-do is how to make herbal infusions. Most of the olive oils I use for salves, lotions, butters and sometimes conditioners are made from these herbal infusions. Olive oil is merely one oil option, however, it’s usually the most affordable. Coconut oil would be a fabulous substitute or sweet almond oil or rice bran or avocado oil…the list goes on. You can also follow the same steps below (just substitute the oil with 100-proof vodka or vegetable glycerin for the kiddies) to make medicinal tinctures that can be taken orally to help heal certain ailments. If you want to go a step further and gather your own herbs from mo’ nature, let me direct you to my post on harvesting and drying your own herbs here.

There’s a lot of confusing and sometimes dangerous information on the internet regarding the medicinal uses of plants. I suggest not looking to the internet and instead investing in a few good books. My personal favorite is The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants: A Practical Reference Guide to over 55o Key Herbs and Their Medicinal Uses by Andrew Chevallier. This is, without a doubt, worth the investment. It’s the best book I’ve seen on the subject and I’m pissed at myself for returning it to my former housemate Thom. Sometimes honesty does nothing for you. With that said, let’s get started!

list

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Gather your CLEAN jars. You can use spaghetti sauce jars if you want, it’s all good. Just make sure they’re clean and dry. I either boil mine in hot water or bleach them beforehand. Label them now so you don’t get confused later.
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Procure some herbs. I used a combination of herbs found in the bulk section of a local health food store and some I had gathered and dried from the wild. You can also go out into the garden and pick some fresh stuff. Dry or fresh, it doesn’t really matter just make sure your freshies are clean.
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(Skip this step if you’re making a tincture with vodka.) Start heating your oil. Do not boil, scorch, or super heat your oil to the point of smoking. If you do so, your herbs will be pissed and you can kiss their medicinal properties goodbye. What you want is to feel a gentle warmth when you hover your hand above the oil in the pot. Yup, it’s not rocket science.
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While your oil is warming, place your herbs in the correspondingly labeled jars and get your funnel ready to earn its keep. You don’t need to overstuff your jars with herbs either. Halfway is fine, even less is okay–use what you have. If you’re using fresh herbs, you’ll want to use more.
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(Skip this step if you’re making a tincture.) Add a couple drops of vitamin E oil to your jars. This is totally optional but it helps to slow down the oxidation process. In other words, it’ll help to prevent your oil from turning rancid. If you plan to use your oils quickly, you probably don’t have to sweat this step.
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Pour your warm oil (or room temp vodka) into the jars via the handy funnel.
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Take a break for a second because your arms are probably on fire at this point. Okay, break’s over. Now pour until you can’t pour no mo’!
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Give it a few minutes for your concoction(s) to cool down a bit, especially if you’re using fresh herbs because the water in them needs to evaporate, and then seal em’ up. Now shake!
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Shake your jars as often as possible. Leave them in a cool, dark place (like my heart) for at least a week or two before using. If you’re making a medicinal tincture, I suggest leaving them for three months, ideally six months if you can manage it. Remember to put the date on the label so you know how much time has passed. Enjoy!