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Friday, November 10, 2017

Easy DIY Holiday Wreath

I've got an easy, inexpensive, and fun DIY project to share with you today.

All you need is an old book, tape, hot glue, and a stapler!

So, let's start with the end product. 

Pretty nice, huh?

Believe me when I tell you, it's easy, after you get over the idea of tearing up a book.

Oh, you'll need something for the middle of the wreath. I used Christmas ornaments but I could picture dried flowers or autumn leaves.

I glued everything onto a cardboard box I cut in a rectangle shape 12" X 16" and cut the corners off.

Ok, here's the video on how to make your own wreath! I skipped the part about cutting the ragged edges off the pages and don't obsess over the rolling of the paper and that part about flicking the wrist. Just roll the paper like an ice cream code.

A big THANKS to my friend Rodney for sending me the video!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pressure Cooker Love Times Two!

Last March I shared my love for my new pressure cooker,well today I'm going to heap a little more love on it!

I originally bought it because dried beans can be cooked in 45 minutes. Last week I discovered a new reason to love it; acorn squash in 10 minutes!

Yes, you read that correctly, 10 minutes to get squash that's cooked so completely it pulls away from it's skin. That's a game changer for me. I love stuffed acorn squash and to be able to have it in 10 minutes rather than the hour it takes to cook in an oven, well, that's *heaven*.

Here's how you too can have perfect acorn squash in 10 minutes.

First, cut your squash in half lengthwise and clean out the seeds and stringy guts.

Next, pour about two cups water in the bottom of your pressure cooker and place a steamer basketinside using caution not to scratch the Teflon coating in the pressure cooker. Now, add your squash.

Set pressure cooker to high and cook for 10 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, on a skillet cook the stuffing for the squash. You can use whatever sounds good, I usually use some sausage, bell peppers, garlic, onions, and chili peppers. Grate a little cheddar cheese (or a lot) for the top.

After the squash is finished cooking, spoon in the stuffing and top with cheese!

What's better than stuffed acorn squash? Stuffed acorn squash in 10 minutes!!!


Friday, October 27, 2017

A Few Things I've Found and Love

Sometimes you run into a few things you really like and want to tell someone about, such is the case with these items.

First up, is this coffee my son actually found and brought back from his trip to Borneo.

It's lightly sweetened and makes the BEST ICE COFFEE EVER! I can't say I love it hot, but iced, it rocks! It comes in little bags, much like a tea bag. Simply toss a bag in a large mason jar and add cool water and let it steep in the fridge a few hours. When you want a quick coffee fix, pour it over ice. It's perfectly sweetened but add a little milk or cream if you like your coffee that way.

I just ALWAYS pack my lunch for work. On a whim, I picked up these reusable wraps:

I love that they're reusable, clean up easily with a soapy, wet cloth, and stay sealed in my lunch bag. Since they are made with bees wax, you simply close them and they seal from the warmth of your hands. Best of all, no more wasteful plastic wrap!

Have you tried Gin-Gins yet?

A couple years ago, a lady at work gave me one of these and since then I've ordered them faithfully. They're chewy and have a strong ginger taste as they're made with fresh ginger and because of that, they're good to ease an upset stomach. I've even tossed one into hot water and made a wonderful ginger tea! These candies would work great for Halloween trick-or-treaters and you won't mind being stuck with a bunch of leftover candy!

And finally there's this water filtration system:

I bought this for my son for his trip to Borneo. He ended up not needing to use it but we tried it out at home and it works great! It takes up very little room so packs easily in a backpack. It's so simple to use and there's no waiting to drink the water. You fill up the bladder, attach the filter and can drink right from it! This will be going in our Earthquake Preparedness Kit for sure (once I get it started.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

New: Oatmeal Ginger Goats' Milk Soap

Lora's Beauty is happy to announce another new fresh-from-the-goat goats' milk soap, Oatmeal Ginger!

This soap is made with finely ground oatmeal and fresh ginger. It's been widely known that nothing beats oatmeal for soothing skin and reducing inflammation caused from eczema and other skin rashes. It calms irritation by gently correcting the ph of inflamed and irritated skin.

Ginger's benefits for skin are not as well known, however, it contains over 40 antioxidant properties, meaning, 'hello glowing, radiant skin!'

This soap is scented with ginger and cassia essential oils giving it a beautiful spicy scent that lingers on the skin well after use.

The beautiful coral color occurs naturally from the cassia essential oil.  A little turmeric is added to provide the darker color in the bar. Turmeric is another natural choice to help soothe irritated skin.

The all natural ingredients in this bar will be a wonderful addition to any skincare routine. Fresh goats' milk, oatmeal, ginger and turmeric combined in one bar of soap will bring joy to your shower and your skin!

By the way, the Pine Tar Goats' Milk Soap is also available now in the online store.

I have a feeling this is going to be a popular bar, especially for the men out there. This bar screams rugged and outdoorsy (yet still being  gentle).

Also, did I mention pine tar is also great at neutralizing body odor?

Order now, from the online store!


Friday, October 13, 2017

Oktoberfest in Leavenworth Washington

Last weekend we made a rather spur of the moment trip to Leavenworth Washington for

Let me back up a little. This past summer we tried on numerous occasions to make it to our favorite summer festivals, we even tried to make it to a new one, however, EVERY TIME we lit out we'd arrive only to find the festival was the coming weekend or the last weekend. Even Google was in on it, telling us the Hawthorne Street Fair was going on when it wasn't. By September, we had given up, besides the whole Northwest part of the US was engulfed in fire and smoke so we just hunkered down and called it a summer.

Needless to say, when October came and the fires burned out, we were ready for a road trip so we checked and double checked and triple checked before we booked our reservations to Leavenworth for Oktoberfest! And lo and behold, we made it.

We purposefully drove the long way there, through the Columbia Gorge so we could see the aftermath of the Eagle Crest Fire that burned for most of September.

Yes, there were tell tale signs of it from the freeway, probably more so if you were hiking, but the Gorge is still beautiful.

As is the Yakima Valley, where the windmills are placed so close to the road you could almost reach out a touch them as you drive by.

Ah, but the town of Leavenworth was breathtaking and ready to celebrate! A parade though the main street began the party.

And what's a parade without horses! Seriously, they're my favorite part of parades.

The weather was beautiful so we drove a little outside of town for a quick hike before the eating and drinking commenced.

Nothing beats hiking in Autumn.
Except perhaps hiking in Autumn next to a beautiful river...

loaded with fish!
Back in town the party was getting started.

The music was jumping, the beer was flowing, and the food was delicious!

We may make Oktoberfest in Leavenworth an annual tradition (after checking and double checking what weekend it's on of course!)


Friday, September 29, 2017

Prepping for the Holiday Season

The thing about soap making is, you can't just decide to make soap a day or two before you need it. You have to plan and prepare for the day or event in which you'll need it because it takes several weeks for soap to fully cure. Therefore, I've been busy lately replenishing my soap stocks for the coming holidays.

Now, I'm not one for pumpkin shaped soap or soap with embedded snowmen, but I do like to try something new this time of year and this year I have several things up my sleeve.

To begin with, I'm implementing new labeling! My previous labels were a little laborious if I had a lot of soap to brand. The new labels will be a little more colorful and although I spent HOURS getting the alignment correct, now that it is, I can easily print out a sheet or two quickly if needed.

It's also this time of year that I review my mainstay soaps; the soaps I carry all the time. It's when I determine what works and what hasn't. My Pepperwood soap will be phased out so if you are a fan of that one, grab a few bars before they're gone for good.

Also being phased out is my Honey Hopped soap. I love the scent of this soap and will use the cassia essential oil in another bar (I'm leaning towards adding it to the Mug-o-Beer Bar) but I really love the fresh goats' milk vs the hops in soap. Again, if you want to try it, grab a few bars before they're gone for good.

Now, let me introduce you to the new lineup: Pine Tar Goats' Milk Soap made with real pine tar and fresh goats' milk!

Pine tar has been used in skincare and hair care products for over a century. It helps relieve the symptoms of  eczema, dry skin, psoriasis, bug bitesand itchy skin in general. It's also great as a shampoo to treat dandruff or inflammation of the scalp.

Yes, pine tar has a very distinctive scent, very much like tar and pine (go figure), which helps fight body odor. To this soap, I've added cedarwood and amyris essential oils to play up the outdoorsy, woodsy scent.  Look for it in the online store in a couple weeks.

Also new, will be my Oatmeal Ginger Goats' Milk Soap. This will be another soothing skin bar and I'm really excited about it! I'm making it tomorrow and the plan is to use finely ground oatmeal, a little turmeric (to provide a pretty orange color), fresh goats' milk, and grated ginger to the top. This bar will be scented with ginger and cassia essential oils. I'll be sure to post pictures when it's complete.

Both new bars will be available in a few weeks and in time for holiday shopping! Remember, orders over $29 ship free! Use your computer or access the new mobile friendly site to place your order!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Cornelian Cherry Jam

Once we planted a tree...

My sister picked it out. At the time, my sister and I owned the duplex I live in now. Sadly, she passed away 4 years ago last Saturday. The tree we planted survived though and thrived.

It's a Cornelian Cherry and if you have never heard of it before you're not alone. It's of the dogwood family and in the spring it blooms with beautiful yellow flowers.

In the summer though, it's loaded with small, bright red, cherries that resemble a coffee berry.

According to Wikipedia, the tree is native to southern Europe (from France to Ukraine) and south western Asia including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

The cherry's taste is very tart, almost sour, and they are ripe once they turn bright red and drop to the ground. The seed of the cherry accounts for over half it's size.

Last year, during my Home and Patio Sale, the tree was bursting with cherries when a lady approached to ask if she could pick the fruit. At the time, I was surprised anyone ate the fruit but she told me how it made wonderful jams. As she picked her fill of cherries, I decided next year I'd try my hand at cherry jam.

Fast forward a year and armed with a bed sheet and a colander, I went out to the cherry tree early last Saturday morning and started shaking the branches so the berries would fall on the sheet. It took less than 30 minutes to fill the colander (about 12 cups of berries).

I washed the cherries and set them aside as I was waiting the arrival of my food millfrom Amazon; I had no intention of pitting all those cherries one at a time. I was also waiting on a new canner and rackas I wanted to seal the jars of jam in a hot water bath.

Thankfully my food mill arrived later that day, however, by Sunday afternoon my canner had not. Since the day was predicted to be 100 degrees and I had to go to work the next day, I decided to get started on the jam and make due with tongs and a deep pot I had.

I brought the cherries to boil in about 5 cups of water for approximately 4 minutes. I then scooped out the cherries a cup or two at a time, placed them in my food mill, and started to remove the pits.

I'm not going to lie, removing the pits from the cherries even with the food mill, was hard work and probably accounts for why you don't see a lot of cherry jam around. It wasn't long work, just hard work, and in about 20 minutes I had pitted all my cherries, yielding about 6 cups of cherry sauce.

To this sauce, I added 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 3 cups sugar. I've read recipes that actually call for 8 cups of sugar! I couldn't bring myself to add that much, besides I didn't have it. I boiled the jam for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I had my jars and lids in the hot water bath sterilizing.

Using a soup ladle I filled the hot jars with the hot cherry jam, put the lids on, and set them back in the hot water bath to seal for approximately 3-5 minutes.

Although most cherries don't contain a lot of pectin, these particular cherries do and the jam set up nicely.

The finished jam is a beautiful red color and has a nice lightly tart flavor. I think the cherry flavor is great on it's own however next year I think I may add a few habanero peppers to it for a little kick. Now if the weather would just cool down, I could make some homemade bread to eat with it!

Just a reminder, Lora's Beauty is celebrating the launch of the mobile friendly website and Labor Day! Get $5 off any order of $25 or more until September 5 (discount taken automatically!)