Southern Charm

My hubby and I recently took a trip to Charleston SC.  I stayed busy on our carriage tour snapping pictures of the beautiful homes in the historic downtown area.  As a girl raised in the north I must say it wouldn’t take much convincing for me to move south.     We experienced all the sights and sounds of Charleston including great southern food, samples of  freshly made pecan pralines , the warm ocean breeze, shopping on Market Street, and southern hospitality.  Charleston is a definite must – especially if you have never been.

A Cake of Soap

  

HomemadenLavendar Soap

Lavender Homemade Soap

 

I thought I’d share another interest of mine.  Homemade soap making. 

I’ve been making homemade cold-process soaps for years.  Like baking, it’s quite a science.  Two important factors needed when making homemade soaps - proper measurements of the ingredients, and the order they are added.   

Homemade soap is made with three simple ingredients.  Water, lye, and a fat.  I like to use  dried herbs like lavender from my garden, pure essential oils, and very little, if any colorants.  My recipe makes a solid (hard) long-lasting bar of soap.  

Since I like making soaps, but don’t need large quantities sitting around, I sell my soaps at a local gourmet market.  Selling my soaps at the market helps me cover the cost of supplies, and gives me the freedom to experiment.   Along with the actual soap making comes the fun of designing labels, packages, and creating marketing strategies.  

Tickled Pink Homemade Soap

 

Orange Spice Homemade Soap

In between babies

 
Blueberry Oat Muffins

I decided I had to busy myself while the third baby duck hatched out of his/her shell so I whipped up a batch of Blueberry Oat Muffins – yummy. 

 Recipe as follows: 

  • 1 cup heaping all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • a ton of blueberries
  • sprinkle with sugar on top when they come out of the oven
  •  Bake at 375  until done 

    Oh, and here is number 3! 

    Baby #3

     

    And then there were two…

    Our babies

     

    With number three in the process of hatching as I write. Life – what an amazing process! 

    Late last night my husband came into the house  with a partially hatched egg in hand.  A baby duck was in the process of breaking out.  Not sure what we should do to help, we helped it (later to learn that is not a good thing to do) out of  its shell.  The little one was weak and we immediately put it under the light to keep it warm.  I was  nervous because it seemed so worn out.  But then again, I guess that would be expected – considering the whole birthing process.  

    Baby number one was running around burning off huge amounts of energy while baby number two was trying to rest from hatching. 

    I checked on them in the middle of the night and baby two seemed to be getting stronger.  By 5:30 this morning it was sitting up and making noise with its sibling.  I can’t believe how tough these little chicks are.  They are the cutest little things.  

    I imagine by the end of this evening we will have three babies.

    Hello Baby!

    Baby

     

     
    Last year my husband and I bought six Peking ducks (chicks) at Tractor Supply Company.  This was a new adventure for the two of us.  Of the six, two didn’t make it because of birth defects, but we were fortunate to raise three healthy drakes, and a hen.  The ducks have been so much fun to watch, listen to, and have around.
     
     
      
    This spring we decided to see if we could get some more babies from Momma.  So when the weather started to warm up we started leaving the eggs she layed in her house.  Eventually, she built a nest and stopped laying eggs when she figured  she had all she could handle.  Of the eight eggs she laid, she discarded four.  We figure she realized they weren’t developing.  So for 29 days now we have been watching to see the first sign of life. I knew something was up today when my husband was headed to the house with something small cupped in his hands.  Sure enough, it was Baby.  Still wet from his/her hatching. 
     
     
      
    From what I’ve read the hens are good at hatching their eggs but their maternal instincts don’t go much beyond that.  I’m not sure I believe that but we didn’t want to risk something happening to Baby so my husband put him/her in with some baby chickens we are now raising that  are about a week old.  The baby chickens accepted Baby with no problems.
      
    Tonight, Baby is strong, fuzzy, eating & drinking and making lots of noise!   I took this picture this evening, Baby is less than a full day old.

            

            

     

    Thinking and Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

    I got to thinking today.  Does anyone read my posts?  I write, share, and wait…  No comments – good or bad.  Maybe I’m wasting my time.  Maybe I’m not.  I feel like Julie in the movie Julie & Julia.  Waiting patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, for that first comment to be posted.      

    I guess it doesn’t matter.  This is more like a journal to myself.  Talking about things that would probably bore most of the people I talk to on a daily basis  to death…      

    Tonight I made one of my favorite casseroles for dinner.  Chicken Alfredo Lasagna.   Here is a photo essay of  the making of it.      

    Chunks of chicken cooking in olive oil & fresh garlic

     

    Diced red onion, green bell pepper and fresh garlic

     

    Mozzarella, feta cheese, cooked chicken & diced veggies

     

    All baked and ready to eat!

    TGIF

       

     In appreciation that Friday has finally arrived I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I try not to buy cookies and store baked goods because they are too convenient.  So, if I really want (NEED) chocolate, I have to get up off the couch and make something.  Sometimes the couch wins, but most of the time my craving does.  I followed the recipe that was on the chocolate chip bag.  They are mighty good.   TGIF!     

    Lemon Meringue Pie

    Recipe

     

    The day before Easter this year, I needed a little baking therapy.  Not to mention I needed an Easter dinner dessert.  So, to kill two birds with one stone I picked out something a little more challenging.  I’ve made a lot of pies, but never made a lemon meringue pie - probably because I wasn’t a very big fan of them.  But now, something has changed and I like lemon pie.   After searching for a recipe I settled on one from Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book – Souvenir Edition.  Making the pie was a bit time-consuming but I liked the way everything seemed to come together.         

    Instructions

     

    I used a store-bought freezer crust.  Typically, I would make my own but I had one on hand and decided since I was attempting a new, and time-consuming recipe, I’d cheat a little.            

    Baked Pie Crust

     

     I used a fresh lemon for zest and juice.       

    Lemon Zest

     

    Lemon Juice

    Lemon Juice

     

    Cooked Pie Filling

     

    Peaked Meringue

     

    The meringue was a lot easier to make than I had anticipated.  Turned out great - wouldn’t hesitate to make it again.         

    And, here is the finished product… Not bad for a newbie!          It was a hit!        

    The Finished Pie