Saturday, December 31, 2011

My favorite things

As the year draws to a close, we're finally getting a breather. Today we're off for a week. Up to Rochester to see my family. A cousins get together that occurs each year on New Year's Day. Then on to Parry Sound, Ontario to see Pentti's 94 year old mom. It's a family time and a respite from the soapmaking world.

I've been making soap, lots of it for the past 2 weeks, stocking up for the new year ahead. As I worked, I was thinking about some of my favorite soapmaking things!

My soapmaking bucket (the white one...with no handle) Every time I pour soap from the orange bucket, the handle flips over and I end up pouring soap all over the handle!

My extra long rubber scraper/mixer, a gift from my friends at Chivas Goat Milk Skin Care
Just like my other heat resistant red handled scraper...but longer! No more getting lost in the bucket!

My nitrile, chemical-resistant gloves from a company called Certified Lye. (the blue ones) I love these and they last forever.

Unlike the grocery store gloves (ie. the yellow ones) that get holes or slits in them. ( I've been through so many pairs) or the disposable gloves (not a fan of anything disposable)

Just a reminder that sometimes its the little things that make us the happiest!

So, Happy New Year! Hoping for the best for all of you in the year ahead.

Monday, November 14, 2011

We're back...

rested and relaxed and almost caught up on orders. Just one more to go and we'll be done.

So if you ordered while we were's comin' to ya!

Wish I was caught up on soap making...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Creekside is on Vacation

We're out of town for a few days. If you want to place an order you can do so on the website and we'll begin shipping again on Nov. 14.

Orders will be filled in the order received.

Thanks for your patience!

Susan and Pentti

Friday, November 4, 2011

I've had a little help

Jessica was just here for 3 weeks from Atlanta to visit and to help me in the soap workshop.
She lined soap molds, packaged candles, wrapped soap, kept track of inventory. She also decided that my work space needed some organization.

She's a great organizer. (read that: what's this?? when was the last time you used it??)

And, she didn't like the way we've been storing our soap wrapping paper.

We've always cut the big sheets into strips that fit the paper cutter.
Then we store those strips in a cardboard box with dividers until we're ready to cut bar size pieces on the cutter. It's worked for me for the last 6 years or so.

I guess it was a little messy and I was always flipping through to see how much paper was left of each king. Jess had Pentti make extra shelves for the books shelf....and voila!
And there's the paper cutter right on top! How convenient.

Boy, could I use a full time assistant like Jess!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bad news soapmakers

The price of lumber is skyrocketing like everything else. (More than 30% in the past month!)

If you use rose geranium essential oil in your soap, you'll know what happened to that, too!
We had to stop making that soap (one of our best sellers) When the price went from $130/lb to $250/lb....we just couldn't cover the increase....or charge that much for the soap!

So....we have to raise the price of our soap dishes.

The price increase has gone to the webmaster. It will be effective as soon as it goes up.

Monday, August 29, 2011


This is the beautiful Stoneledge Farm in the Hudson Valley of New York State where our CSA vegetables are grown.

This is what is looks like today after Hurricane Irene was finished with us up here in the Northeast.

10 to 14 inches of rain...the National Guard called in...severe flooding. What a shame.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The summer garden

Sarah was up here on Tuesday for a tiny motor vehicle glitch.

After a quick trip to the DMV....we had a lovely lunch in Mahopac at the Freight House Cafe.
Delicious homemade, healthy food.

Back home, she made and photographed flower arrangements all afternoon. Then cooked a luscious dinner of lamb sausage, raita, and grilled zucchini.

My guests last night thought my porch looked like a flower shop. She brought some flowers with her from the shop, but lots were just cut from my wild garden. The extras she brought from the shop, and left here, looked like an arrangement as it was. So, I put it on my front steps!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mah Jongg at the Lake

Sorry, friends. I've been out of touch.
Been making lots of soap to stay ahead so I could take time off and play Mah Jongg for a week at the lake.

And here I am!
At a lovely home on Owasco Lake in the Finger Lakes of NY State.

Playing marathon Mah Jongg and doing other fun vacation related stuff.
Be back soon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Gooseberries and Red Currants

Gooseberries and Red Currants in the CSA share.
Friends coming for dinner.
Too hot to bake.

Solution: Gooseberry Fool adapted with some Red Currant Puree.

Only a small pint of gooseberries, so I added some raspberries and some of the red currant puree....
I also tried the red currant vinaigrette. The jury's still out on that.
But the Fool was yummy....

Monday, July 4, 2011

here's what I think happened....

my cat chased the chipmunk into the pool

the cat couldn't get the chipmunk once he was in the he swam until he couldn't swim any longer...OR...he found a way out on the steps

Exhausted he rested while I went to get my camera

then he took off

and here's why I won't go into the pachysandra or tall grass to weed the garden:

yikes a snake
so afraid I'll step on one

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

scary soapmaking

Two things scare me about soapmakers. (novice soapmakers)

1. when they tell me their recipe calls for 1/2 cup of lye

2. when they want to start a business and sell soap but they haven't actually MADE any soap yet.

I'm not trying to say that soapmaking is hard....but it does take a bit of practice to get it right and make a product worth selling.
AND if you don't know that all ingredients for accurate soapmaking have to be measured by WEIGHT...on a GOOD SCALE...they you shouldn't be making soap.

A customer once called me to ask why her soap was coming out crumbly and dry. (A sure sign of too much lye) She said she had taken a soapmaking class and the instructor taught them to measure ingredients using tablespoons and cups. Uh Oh....not good! I told here she needed a scale...and fast.

Today a potential customer called to ask about our molds. She was starting a business and as we talked told me that she dissolved her lye in oils. LYE dissolved in OIL? I don't think so. Ever.
Lye dissolves in water. COLD water. Actually I don't think she had ever made soap, because you can't dissolve lye in oil.

So...lets face it. There is lots of misinformation out there on the 'internets'
And, a lot of folks making and teaching about soap who don't have their facts straight.

I've been making soap for about 15 years. You're welcome to ask questions in the comment section here and I'll post the answer....or email me.

And, while you're browsing the net, here's a reliable site about soapmaking!

Kathy Miller's Soap Pages

And if you really want to learn about all aspects of soapmaking, join the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild and attend one of their annual conferences! This is the best way yet!!

Remember...there is no soap without lye...but you need to be very careful with that lye. It's caustic until you turn it into SOAP!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

wine in the afternoon....

I taught soapmaking in the late 90s through the continuing education program in my school district. It was delightful to teach adults and I met wonderful people who took to the art of saponification like a ducks to water.

Victoria was one of my students. She went to live in Paris 8 years ago, and I haven't seen her since Sarah and I were in Paris in 2005. She has returned to the states and we had some leisurely time to catch up and have lunch yesterday.

She is now working as a LMT, but coming from 8 years in France, I knew I needed help choosing the best wine for lunch. I called ahead to the wine store and asked for recommendations before sending Pentti off to make the purchase.

So...2 bottles of Greek wine, Greek salad, and grilled sausage...and interesting conversation and a lovely day was complete.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

3 week of CSA....

and what to do with Mustard Greens?

I started with this epicurious recipe for Simmered Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings.

Instead of slab bacon, I used about 3 slices...sauteed with onions and garlic...and then added some water and proceeded as written.

I made the dumplings as the recipe was written....and they came out scrumptious! Comfort food for a cool spring night.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

a cool day in June

and I'm looking for two things:
  • Something to warm me up (it's 66 degrees here, but feels cooler)
  • And a way to use the mustard greens that came in our first CSA share this week

Both accomplished with Simmered Greens with Cornmeal Dumplings!

With a few adaptations!

I used 3 strips of thick cut bacon, 1 large vidalia onion, and 2 crushed cloves of garlic and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Sauteed and then added 2 cups of water. Right now it simmering on the stove, waiting for the greens.

I'll chop the greens and add them after about an hour of simmering the 'pot likker'...and cook them about 30 minutes more. Then do the dumplings!

Hope it's as good as it sounds to me right now.
Will report back later.
I'm off to get a sweater!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

about being a soapmaker

Everywhere you go people think you smell good. In office max today, the clerk wondered what smelled so good when she was ringing up my order. I told her it was me...that I'm a soapmaker.

The bank teller says my deposit slips always smell so nice.

When I get into someone's car they ask...what is that perfume? I don't wear any....

It has its perks. We always have soap, though you'll catch us using tiny slivers when we could have a full bar!

Friday, June 10, 2011

My new favorite

Sarah planted this last summer. Mock Orange. Philadelphus Virginalis.
We put it right by the screened porch so all could enjoy the fragrance.
What a lovely bloomer....hundreds of pure white flowers filling the air with their sweet smell!

I want a couple of more to put right into that bed of pachysandra.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

does it take this kind of village?

OK. This came from a retired friend who's trying to decide where, in Florida, she will settle down. She's trying The Villages right now.

I'll be staying in NY State!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Game of Thrones

Watching the HBO series while reading the book....the TV version can be confusing. The book helps to fill in the details. I'm loving both.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Dos and Don'ts of Gardening

So, if your tomato plants looked like this after 2 weeks in the garden....after you'd started them lovingly from heirloom seeds in little pots in February....Would you wonder if maybe those little 'peat' pots were not made to go directly into the garden with the seedling?

So...they've all been dug up this morning, 'cardboard' torn off, and replanted. Now to get the dirt from under my nails before the wedding today!

Friday, May 20, 2011

after the rain

A short hiatus from rain (which we've had since Sunday) allowed me to get out in the garden to find:
Arugula ready to pick....Radishes loving the cool weather. Stones are to keep the cats from lying down on the plants!
A cactus which Linda gave me last fall. I planted it, even though I didn't think it would survive the winter. It did. Then looked pretty ugly...until I noticed little cacti babies all over it.
And...for Sarah. Our newest Iris. Do we know the name? Could it be Darling?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Walk on By....

Aren't they cute?? Until you have 30-40 of them using the pond as a breeding ground and then a summer resort! They don't fly north to Canada any they're supposed to, but stay all season!

Goose sh*t everywhere. For some reason they don't like my yard. They walk right on by and up to the neighbors. I guess the grass is greener there.

But, I'll take them over the groundhog that's enjoying the young leaves on my brand new coral bells!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Flowers inside and out

Sarah and Eric returned from a trip upstate to spend a couple of days. On Sunday I had Sarah's help planting all flowers we bought last week. These are a few of the additions to the perennial beds.

A Chaenomeles (flowering quince called Cameo)...and a new sedum variety called Voodoo amidst a circle of ajuga that's just getting started for the year.
a new Spirea called 'mellow yellow' right in the center of mass of Lamium.

Finishing the shade garden that I started last front two kinds of Epimedium: white queen and pink elf. Next row, Heuchera (coral bells) and behind them, Tiarella (bottle brush). There are also Japanese Painted Ferns and Astilbe and Hostas that are just coming up.

Now to update the flower map. I keep a detailed schematic of all of the plantings so I know where to look for things as they come up in the spring.

And finally a leg of lamb dinner with a centerpiece Sarah put together with some prunings from the Magnolia that we watched open into full flower as the day progressed.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

Power to the Sun!

The False Friend

The False Friend by Myla Goldberg was the book club selection this month. I really liked the book. Not everyone in our group did. I guess we were split about 50/50.

I loved her perceptive description of how our 'adult selves' become adolescent again when we return to our family. Her description of the parent/adult child relationship is well done.

I also loved the way that her memories of the past and one incident in particular were reviewed, researched and altered as she sought out those from childhood to confirm what she thought was true.

Take your time if you read this. It's an interesting and thoughtful book.

Next month: Three Stages of Amazement by Carol Edgarian

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let the planting begin!

Sarah and I took a road trip out to Atlantic Nurseries in Dix Hills this morning and this is just part of my haul:

Pansies...I know they're annuals...but they were just so pretty!

From Left: Chaenomeles speciosa "cameo"(flowering quince) , Spiraea thunbergii 'ogon', hydrangea "Tokyo delight", hydrangea paniculata "little lamb",ivy, 2 pink clematis and a new hellebore: Ivory Prince.

And finally, several new irises, Epimedium Grandiflorum:white queen, Epimedium: pink elf, tiarella timbuktu (bottle brush), Stonecrop sedum, and asarum canadense (wild ginger) which I've been trying to find for ages. Also tulips and some new lavender plants to replace the ones that I had to remove after 12 years.

Sarah got some plants for the shop and some for her front stoop garden. AND...we fit it all in the back of my Prius!

Helleborous and Pulsatilla vulgaris

Hellebores popping way up in the garden this week. Also called the Lenten or Christmas Rose...they are here in plenty of time for Lent.

Then peeking out behind the hellebore (see her tiny blue head above) I found this little beauty the other day. She was in full bloom, with a bright yellow center but now she's moping about the rain!

Lots coming up in the garden now!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring basket

These blue babies are on their way to Atlanta in a box of sweet treats for Jessica. This won't ruin the surprise....she doesn't read my blog. Though if she did, she know a lot more about what's going on up north!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

it's official

When the weather gets warm enough to clean up the porch from the winter and sit outside with a coffee, spring is officially here!

Got my gardens all cleaned up too. Just so Rae Kwan could enjoy the dirt.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I want to join....

Clarisse and my potential tomato plants today...and just lay in the sun.

But instead, I'm going out to see about getting this chair restored. This was a wedding gift to my grandparents, Wallace and Susie and I think it still has lots of good years left in it! It's also a very comfortable rocker.
So here are Wally and Susie. They were married on January 1, 1912. I never met Susie. She died in 1945. But that is where my name comes from. I remember my grandpa quite well. He died in 1960 when I was 12 and he looks amazingly like my brother!

I wish I knew who gave them the rocker.

Monday, April 4, 2011

a litte extra time and lots of soap

This is "family soap." Soap ends that are cut from the ends of our soap logs.
Can't wrap them to sell. We use it ourselves, give it to friends. We box it up and donate boxes to shelters and the local food pantry.

But...they still seems to multiply like they were coming from a magic pot.

So the other day I made these favors to give to friends when I entertained. A soap dish in the bottom of the bag....a stack of soap in pretty earthy colors all tied up with a string and a label on the bottom telling what kind of soap was in the stack

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 2, 2011

Time to plant tomatoes. Last year I planted to early (Feb.) This year I'm a bit late. First the seeds go into the peat pots.

Then into a make shift green house until they sprout.

Then out of the bag and into sunlight.

BTW....Yesterday Pentti and I celebrated 31 years of marriage. I looked all afternoon for the snapshot of our wedding. Sarah wanted to see it. I came across it a sometime last year...but who knows where it is now. Maybe next year.

Yes, we just have a snapshot. We were married by a justice of the peace with one witness. My friend Lorraine has always joked that she was both our matron of honor AND our best man!