Monthly Archives: July 2015

How to Make (Real) Soap

I’ve had many people tell me that if they were stranded on a deserted island, I would be their first choice of a partner. It’s not because of my charm. It’s because… there’s a bit of MacGyver in me. I was the kid who dismantled broken clocks, watches, appliances… and as an adult was able to put some of them back together, without any many parts left over. Just ask Wendy, my old roommate. 🙂 I’m always learning how things are made, and usually try to make them myself. Just because.

I made soap for the first time about 20 years ago. Of course, I had to buy beef fat to render into tallow — no wimpy bottled oils for my soap! It was fun and successful enough for me to repeat the process. But then life got busy and I left soap making for my future.

Which came about last year, when I challenged myself to make, from scratch and with safe and natural ingredients, as many household and personal products as I could. I found a really nice bath/body bar soap recipe and love the gentle, moisturizing soap so much that I’ve stuck with that same recipe ever since. This recipe happens to be mostly vegetarian (depending on how you view beeswax) and I use all organic, food-grade ingredients. Well, except for the lye. Lye is… lye.

Making soap is EASY and will be successful if you follow the directions. The most important thing to remember is that there is chemistry behind the “turning fat into soap” process ( Saponification ) and so the ingredients must be measured accurately. Lye can also seem scary to people, but if you are careful and smart about handling lye it is not a problem. Get careless and you could burn a hole through your flooring, counter top, clothes, skin… you get the idea.

So here’s the process. You can skip directly to the recipe if you’re experienced in soap making. Continue reading

Moisturizing Soap

If you’ve never made soap before, I recommend you review the complete step-by-step instructions on this page:


Moisturizing Soap

This is a gentle, foamy moisturizing soap that you will love! It's easy to customize with fragrances, textures (ground cloves, herbs, etc). My favorite oil is tea tree because it's so skin-friendly, but I also love lavender, frankincense, clove with citrus... NOTE: ALL MEASUREMENTS ARE BY WEIGHT, not by measuring cup.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time2 hours 6 minutes
Servings: 2 pounds (about 12 bars)


  • 9 oz coconut oil
  • 2 oz shea butter
  • 2 oz cocoa butter
  • 1 oz beeswax shaved or pellets
  • 9 oz olive oil
  • 5 oz castor oil
  • 3 oz sweet almond oil or can use Jojoba oil
  • 4 oz filtered water
  • 6 oz coconut milk (or more water)
  • 4 oz lye (drain cleaner; can be found in hardware stores)
  • 1/2 oz essential oils (optional)


  • Prepare your mold (plastic shoebox lined with wax paper).
  • WEIGH your fats/beeswax and place in a large stainless pot. Melt on low temperature. When melted, set aside to cool to 100° F.
  • WEIGH lye in a baggie, slowly pour into container of WEIGHED liquids (water or water/milk combo) (see main instructions for precautions). Set aside to cool to 100° F.
  • Weigh essential oils and set aside for later.
  • When melted fats and lye water are both as close to 100° as possible, pour the lye water into the fats and alternate using a mixer and stirring by hand until mixture begins to trace.
  • Stir in essential oils and other ingredients you like (ground cloves, herbs, cinnamon, etc.)
  • Pour into the mold, wrap in towels and let sit in a temperate place for 24 hours.
  • Remove soap from mold and cut into bars. If you make the bars about 1" x 2" x 3", you'll get 12 or so.
  • Place bars on a rack with good air circulation and let it harden for 6 weeks. Don't use the soap before 6 weeks, as the lye can still be active.

Kefir “Pudding”

Kefir "Pudding"

Delicious, satisfying and healthy! This easy-to-make breakfast pudding is also high in probiotics. Letting this sit in the refrigerator for a few days will soften the almonds and muesli, and thicken the kefir.
Servings: 1 person


  • 8 oz milk kefir (more or less)
  • 1/2 cup muesli Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free is my choice
  • some raw almonds
  • some fruit or berries
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds Optional


Add muesli, almonds and fruit to a small glass bowl. Pour kefir over these ingredients and gently mix. Let this age in the refrigerator for 1-3 days. Eat & enjoy!