Soap Making Down on the Farm

As I have mentioned multiple times before, taking classes and learning new skills is one of my favorite things. In just the past year I have learned or taken classes for pearl knotting, flower crown making, basket weavingcalligraphysewingbutter making, knitting, and sushi making. I feel like a nonfelonious Martha Stewart.

soap

I’ve wanted to cross soap making off of the list for a long time, but it has been difficult to find a class that was hands-on rather than demonstration only. You learn a lot more (and have more fun) when you get to do things yourself. Fortunately, I found a class at Three Creeks Farm where not only could I get my hands dirty, but I could design my own soap.

soap-making-lye

We started with mixing the lye. This was the only part of the process we didn’t get to do on our own and our instructor, Seth, did it for us. Lye can be very dangerous and can burn your skin, blind you, and even kill you if ingested. Once it is combined with water it almost instantly reaches 180 degrees and therefore should not be handled indelicately. However, it is a vital part of soap making as its chemical reaction with the oils is what produces a solid soap (a process called “saponification”).

soap-making-fragrance

The first step was deciding what to put in our soap. I opted for coconut lemongrass for the fragrance oil, ground oatmeal and buckwheat for exfoliants, and a little bit of clover honey just for fun. Everything requires very exact measurements. After all, science.

soap-making-coconut-oil

Once we selected our special ingredients (and set them aside to use later) we started to mix our oils. Our soap included 7 oz of olive oil, 6 oz of coconut oil (yum), and 1 oz of canola oil.

soap-making-gloves

Once the oils were mixed it was time to put on my sexy safety goggles and add the lye and water to the oil mixture.

soap-making-mixing

The lye tends to sink to the bottom of the oil, so I gave it a quick swish before mixing it.

soap-making

To thicken the mixture and help it along its journey to magnificent soapiness, we used an immersion blender to save time. It did not take long for the consistency of the oil and lye to start to change and become custard-like.

soap-making-exfoliant

Then it was time to add the fragrance, oatmeal, buckwheat, and clover honey.

soap-making-pouring

After some more blending, I poured the mix into a one pound mold where the soap began to harden over the next few hours. I was supposed to wait a week before removing the soap from the mold . . . I waited approximately 24 hours. I have never been accused of being patient. Fortunately it turned out ok.

soap

I wanted a soap that was earthy, but sweet, and with a nice texture. I think I accomplished that. I still need to wait 2-3 weeks for the soap to cure through the saponification process before I can actually use it. (Waiting will be torture). Until then, every time I walk by the soap I pick it up and smell it. Mmmm!

Three Creeks Farm has an array of interesting class offerings including blacksmithing. Plus, they have a farm filled with alpacas, llamas, fainting goats, sheep, pigs, peacocks, guineafowl, and a very large mastiff named Hugo that you can pet and snuggle on . . . so you know I’ll be back.

Chakra Cleansing & Reiki

Chakra Cleansing
As I was looking for something new to try this week I came across free Chakra Cleansing and Reiki at the Center of Symmetry. I’d heard of it before, but I didn’t know much about it. I never want to make a judgment about something before trying it, so I thought I would give it a shot.

ChakrasChakra is Sanskrit for “wheel” or “turning” and they are are points in the human body that are centers of life force or energy. Apparently, this energy can actually be detected by something called a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device. There are seven major chakras in a human body: the root chakra, sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, and the crown chakra. Some believe that the chakras can affect a person’s physical and mental health.

The group was led by Dan Craft and Becki Baumgartner. There were about a dozen people present to attend the class, the majority of which were trying it for the first time. Dan and Becki started by having you lay down on a massage table and relax. First, Becki held a chakra pendulum over you. The one she used looked like it was made of rose quartz, which apparently is used for understanding emotions, love, and emotional healing. If she held the pendulum over your chakra and it was still, that meant the chakra was closed, if the pendulum spun (preferably clockwise) it meant the chakra was open. If the chakra was closed, Becki would spin a clear feng shui ball over you (which looked like a tiny disco ball) until the chakra opened. She explained that the way the ball reflected light had something to do with how it worked.

When it was my turn, I laid down and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see what was going on because I didn’t want it to alter my perception of what was going on. Some people said they could feel where Becki was holding the pendulum, but I could not. When she held the pendulum over me, she said that I was already incredibly open, apparently it was spinning like crazy. She asked if I did yoga (which I do), and said that yoga was really good for opening the chakras.

Reiki
Once our chakras were open it was time for Reiki. Reiki means “universal energy” and is the art of healing through touch and the adjustment of life force energy flow. Studies have shown that Reiki can lower blood pressure, reduce pain, and lessen anxiety.

Because there were so many first timers there, they gave us short sessions to try to fit everyone in. Dan cradled our heads in his hands while Becki placed her hands on our chests; everyone else formed a circle around the table and placed their hands on our arms and legs. I laid there for a few minutes doing a breathing exercise with everyone’s hands on me. After a few moments I started seeing vibrant hues of green and purple like a kaleidoscope on the inside of my eyelids. I can’t really explain it, seeing swirling colors isn’t something I normally experience when I close my eyes and when I closed my eyes in the same room at other points in the evening all I saw was darkness. When my session was over I felt incredibly dizzy and I took me a few moments to regain my balance. It seemed like about half of us experienced the same dizziness.

I can’t really say what I believe yet, it’s too soon to tell. However, I will say that I felt incredibly relaxed and peaceful after the session. If Chakra Cleansing or Reiki is something that interests you, then it is definitely worth giving it a shot. If nothing else, you’ll spend an hour learning something new . . . and that is never a bad thing.

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