Something to Smile About: Stuff That Smells Good

This has been a week of working with stuff that smells good. From cooking and baking to soap making, my house has been fragrant, which is certainly something to smile about! But far and away, the thing that brought the biggest smile to my face was helping with the Valentine memory flowers for the widows and widowers of our church. The finished products look so pretty laid out in boxes and a basket for transport to the church building, but the sweet people they represent are the best thing to smile about, even when the memories are bittersweet.

Valentine Memory Flowers for widows and widowers at A Chat Over Coffee

Some other good things that have me smiling this week…

I managed not to give myself a massive allergy attack with my baking. Yay! It’s amazing what a little OTC allergy pill taken in advance of filling the kitchen with flour can do. Four loaves of bread and a double batch of granola are deliciously done!

Homemade granola at A Chat Over Coffee

I make granola two batches at a time in identical mixing bowls that I acquired at a yard sale and a thrift store, several years apart. I measure a batch’s worth of each ingredient into each bowl and then bake the two batches in two large cast iron skillets before mixing the finished granola in my storage container. Since the half gallon jar I ordinarily use for granola is currently filled with an in-process batch of vanilla sugar, I used an 8-cup storage container for storage this time. It is the perfect size.

While I was in the kitchen I made a batch of yogurt. I’ve made yogurt for years but for a variety of reasons hadn’t done it since we moved to the new house. Knowing our cold weather and a home thermostat set at “put on a hoodie” would make it hard to keep the yogurt warm enough to culture, I looked to the internet for advice.

Homemade Yogurt at A Chat Over Coffee

This recipe suggested putting the warm crock pot into a turned off oven while leaving the oven light on to provide the warmth to allow the yogurt to culture. That’s exactly what I did, and when I got up in the morning the oven was still warm enough and I had a crock pot of homemade yogurt!

For those times when my yogurt doesn’t turn out thick enough to suit me, I strain it through a wire mesh strainer that I’ve lined with a paper coffee filter. The strained-off whey is nice to use in bread recipes to boost the nutritional content a little bit.

Homemade Oatmeal & Honey Soap at A Chat Over Coffee

I made some more toy soap this week and packaged up the Oatmeal & Honey Soap I made a few weeks ago. My daughter says the oatmeal & honey soap looks like something to eat, but I wouldn’t advise trying it! I actually didn’t get the base soap melted correctly but it turned out to be a happy accident that suits the aesthetic. There’s one more type of soap I want to try, then I’ll share the details with you in a massive Soap Opera sequel.

My mother-in-law is sweet to save things for me, and this week she gave me a couple of jars and these four beautiful bottles. I removed the labels where needed and cleaned them up with some Goof Off (not a typo) adhesive remover before giving them a good wash. They’ll be great for mixes, homemade dressing, or other fun projects. Thanks, Mom R.!

Lovely bottles for special projects at A Chat Over Coffee

Perhaps I’ve saved the best news for last…I’ve completed one of my New Year’s Goals! In my effort to get back to my knitting, I set a goal to complete the slippers I started late last year and then complete two more knitting projects this year. I made a pair of bamboo stitch wristers for my daughter and then another pair for a friend. The wristers turned out so cute that I’m working on a pair for myself.

Now, two knitting projects, particularly such small ones, may not seem like much to you. But for someone who can start a knitting project and then put it down for months or years, two projects is a big deal. That’s why the goal was two and not twelve or twenty. I hope to keep on knitting while I’m working on my other goals.

The 52 Week Savings Challenge is going fine. We turn in the Baby Bottle Boomerang bottles on the 19th, so my spare change will be going back in the challenge jar after that. And I’m still reading and enjoying that cookbook. There are lots of pickle recipes, which don’t appeal to me as much, but also many other ideas. Once I finish reading it through I’m going to go back and mark recipes to try.

Have a great weekend, friends! What are you smiling about this week?

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8 responses to “Something to Smile About: Stuff That Smells Good

  1. I love making and eating homemade granola – HOWEVER, I found that I have to keep the dried fruit in a separate bag until I am ready to mix a batch or it will turn all the good crunchy stuff into rubbery stuff?!! LOL any thoughts??

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  2. Leigh how is the cookbook reading coming along? You should try pickles! They are fun to make and there are so many things that can be pickled. We have something pickled with almost every meal. It is good for your digestion.

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