How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Welcome Fall

Fall is officially here as of Sunday September 22, at 4:44 EST. Although it is 91 degrees outside I have to say that the shadows are getting longer. I am so looking forward to our first cool front. Fall is the one season I really miss from living up north. I miss the leaves changing, and the cool fresh air, harvesting apples, and apple cider, apple cider donuts, trick or treating in cool weather. Oh well…. Maybe someday I’ll move back up north, and when it gets too cold come back down to Miami to my winter home. I would combine the best of both worlds. One can only dream!

For the autumn season I thought that I would make soap with a seasonal scent. What reminds you more about the fall than pumpkin? So I followed a recipe on the soap making website I am calling this soap Pumpkin Spiced Latte. It smells just like a pumpkin spiced pie, or a Pumpkin Latte from Starbucks. Delicious!

In honor of celebrating the beginning of Fall I added 3 oz of real pumpkin to the recipe. I did my first swirl. Tonight I cut the soap and it looks pretty good, and smells great. I want to try to make a pumpkin soap that includes my pumpkin ale that I made. I bet you didn’t know that you could make soap with beer did you? Well you can, and you can also use wine, and teas, and milks. So I opened two bottles of my Pumpkin ale and I am letting them sit until the carbonation is gone and the beer is flat. The key to working with alcohol is to make sure the beer or wine is flat and then to boil the alcohol out of the beer. I will also freeze mine so when I mix it with the lye it will have less of a chance of creating a lye volcano. Many people when they start to soap are concerned about working with lye. I am concerned, but I guess because I have a scientific mind I respect the lye, and take the necessary precautions to work safely. I will keep you posted on how my pumpkin ale beer turns out. Yesterday I went to Total Wine to look for some local beer from the state of Florida. I specifically was looking for Michael’s Genuine beer. I found that it is only available on tap, and in certain restaurants. I did find a very interesting Toasted Coconut Porter, brewed by the Thomas Creek Brewery, in Orlando, Florida. I eventually would love to create some soap using some of the beer and wine from our local breweries. I would also love to create a soap using my own mead!

I made a Goat’s milk soap this weekend that is unscented. It is just plain goat’s milk soap. I added just a little of my honey, and a little colloidal oatmeal. This is the perfect bar for those that want the benefit of goat’s milk without the fragrance. It is perfect to use with the fall weather approaching. It is nice to use a soap that will protect the skin during the winter months, with the natural fats from the goat’s milk, and the humectant properties of the honey. I put some moisturizing Shea butter in this recipe also. I made a calendula lip balm to protect your lips from the harsh weather. Calendula is a beautiful flower, better known as the Pot Marigold, which has healing properties and is great for the skin. I flavored this lip balm with just the perfect amount of orange and grapefruit essential oils.

I signed up for a class through Brambleberry. Ann Marie Faiola, founder and owner of Bramble Berry, just completed writing a new book “Soap Crafting.” She has been soaping for many years and besides being very talented and creative in her artisan soap techniques, she is also a very smart business woman. She started a soap crafting club where the participants join on a quarterly basis, and she teaches you different techniques from her book. Each quarter several soap techniques are covered and by joining you receive her expertise and all the ingredients to make one of the soaps covered. I have signed up for the first 2 quarters. I hope that the year doesn’t sell out before I have the extra money to sign up for the rest of the classes. I love her book, and have plans to try many of her recipes. I would like to get creative and design my own recipes, but I am not at that point yet. I have so many recipes in my head using the herbs, plants, flowers, beer, and wine that I make from my yard.

Happy Fall Everyone! Hope you enjoy my new products, and that you find them comforting for the cooler weather to come. Now I need to concentrate on getting my garden together for our lovely South Florida winter. I hope to use many of my herbs in the soaps I create over the next few months.

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