Posted in Decorating Ideas and Tips, Organizing Your Life, Pangkabuhayan, Something New


Homemade Soap
Homemade Soap The rich, earthy scents of homemade soaps are sure to please your special someone. Tied into a stack with raffia or twine, two or three bars are beautiful and special because you handcraft them with love. Create your own with instructions from this Simple Soap Making article.

Homemade soaps make for a great gift. Using the best materials, you can make fun and fragrant soaps, colorful soaps and soaps of all different shapes and sizes. This project, when paired with homemade bath salts, makes for a perfect gift basket. And these soaps are so easy to make that you can really get creative!

This project is perfect for Home Mavens who’ve never made their own soap before. This method is called “melt and pour,” using a pre-made soap base instead of creating the soap from scratch. Soap base comes in blocks, available at most craft stores. It is easy to melt and work with and contains all the ingredients of finished soap, except for color and scent. When you get comfortable with this method, you can move onto more advanced techniques, which involve a chemical reaction using oils or fats and lye.

Step 1: Bring Everything Together

As with any project that involves melting and pouring, you need to be prepared before you start or you’ll waste time and ingredients. Bring all your ingredients and tools together, and take the time to rearrange your work area to give you and your friends plenty of room.

Step 2: Cut the Soap Base

Weigh the empty glass measuring cup. Cut the soap on the cutting board and place the chunks into the measuring cup. Place the cup on the scale and subtract the weight of the empty cup. Keep adding soap chunks until the weight is the same as the amount the mold will hold.

Step 3: Melt the Base

Cover the cup with a clear plastic film and place in the microwave. Heat for one minute at a time, repeating until all the chunks are gone.

Another method is to use a double boiler on your stovetop over low heat.

When the soap is completely melted, remove and stir the soap.

Step 4: Liquid Additions

While the soap is still in the measuring cup and in its liquid state, add your ingredients. A pleasing scent, like lavender, is added using fragrant oils, like essential oils. When adding scented oils or other fragrances, a good rule of thumb is .25 ounces per pound of soap, but you can add more if you want.

Color is added with dyes that are safe to use in soap for use on your skin. For adding soap-safe dyes, a good rule of thumb is about 10 drops per pound.

Gently stir with a whisk as you add the liquids. Don’t stir too hard or you’ll get bubbles.

Step 5: Solid Additions

Slowly pour your materials into the liquid soap. Some great materials to add are regular (not instant) oats, ground herbs and spices or teas. At your local craft store, you may be able to find scrubbing materials like clays, jojoba beads and loofah. If you can’t find them in a craft store, search online using the term “soap making supplies.” Gently whisk these ingredients into your soap.

Step 6: Pour

Slowly pour the soap into the mold and then set aside for safekeeping. Use a rubber spatula to spread the soap evenly to make sure it sets properly.

Step 7: Pop Out Your Soap

When the soap becomes hard, popping the bars out should be easy. If you come across stubborn bars, try running hot water over the back of the mold. Trim off any imperfections with your knife.

Your soap is ready to use as soon as it’s out of the mold, so enjoy!


Fill a sink full of warm water and a couple drops of Dawn® Original, then quickly dip your molds in. Don’t scrub your molds or use a lot of soap, as the plastic will absorb some of it and transfer it to your next batch. Scrub your whisk, spatulas and knife with Dawn® with Odor Eraser. Use your dishwasher and Cascade® 2in1 ActionPacs to easily clean the rest of your utensils.

Earth-Inspired Jewelry
The imperfections of hand-shaped metals and irregular stones will remind your loved one of the organic beauty of nature. Look for jewelry that features pendants in the form of flowers or birds. For a bright and colorful look, seek out pieces made with recycled glass beads.

A Textile for Toting
Give your special someone a gift of style that makes more than a fashion statement. Canvas or natural fiber bags make shopping easier and save countless disposable bags from heading to a garbage heap. You can even personalize the tote with fabric paint, markers or iron-on designs.

Gardening Gift Basket

Gardening Gift Basket
Create a starter kit for a beginner or seek out hard-to-find seeds and decorative garden markers for a more advanced gardener. For more ideas about items to include, check out this article about creating unique gift baskets.

Refreshing Ideas
Help your nature-lovers get their essential water while being kind to the environment at the same time. Give the gift of a water purifier and some attractive re-usable water bottles so it’s easy to stay healthy and hydrated on the go.

Recycled Stationery
Give your unused stationery a new life as beautiful, handmade paper. Your loved one is sure to notice how each piece has a unique shape and texture of its own. You may even get one back as a thank you note! To get started, read this simple, how-to guide on handmade paper.

Nature Guides
Bird, flower and tree guides are a great reference to keep on a windowsill or pack for a hike. Or frame a map of your loved one’s favorite nature preserve. You can also supply colorful pins so they can mark their favorite trails.

Beautiful Specimens

Beautiful Specimens
Consider artwork made from or inspired by actual elements of nature. Pressed flowers or butterflies can be framed for display or made into functional décor. For example, you can create pressed flower coasters to give as a gift.

Wholesome Goodie Basket
Natural fare may be just the treat your loved one is hoping for. Arrange homemade bread and a sampling of cheeses into a gift set. For an avid hiker or park visitor, pack a picnic basket of fruits and nuts. Here are more travel-friendly food ideas, including a delicious peanut and fruit granola recipe.

Photographic Inspiration
A photographic calendar makes outdoor inspiration part of your loved one’s everyday routine. Another idea is a coffee table book, which offers them a special way to show their interest in the outdoors to friends, family and visitors to their home.

Posted in Budget Wisely, Pangkabuhayan, Recipes, Cooking Time

Potatoes and Eggs

Enjoy something new this spring with baked just-right potatoes filled with a cheesy, Dijon mustard and egg mix and topped with fresh parsley.

Serves 8
Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour *

8 small russet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil, or more to rub on potatoes
Coarse kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
2 ounces smoked cheese, such as Gouda or cheddar, grated
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish


  1. Adjust the baking rack inside your oven to the center. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Rinse and scrub each of the potatoes with a stiff brush under cold water. Remove any bruised or discolored portions using the tip of a sharp knife.
  3. Pierce the skin of the potatoes with a fork or knife several times to allow steam to escape.
  4. Rub each potato with olive oil. Sprinkle desired amount of coarse kosher salt over a small plate and roll each of the potatoes over the salt.
  5. Place potatoes in a shallow baking dish and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes. Test potatoes by piercing with a fork or gently squeezing (wearing an oven mitt). If they’re tender and give to the touch they are ready to come out of the oven. Let cool slightly.
  6. Cut potatoes lengthwise and scoop out the pulp, leaving 1/4” in the shell. Set shells on a greased baking sheet.
  7. Mash the potato pulp and stir in sour cream, cheese, chives, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in hard-boiled eggs.
  8. Spoon the potato and egg mixture into each of the shells. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Let cool slightly, and then garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve.

*Depending on the size of the potatoes and the age of your oven, baking may take more or less time. Use your best judgment and check often.