Old Town Blue


A few months ago I got an entire new set of Old Town Blue Corelle, serving dishes and all. I absolutely fell in love with the pattern. Someone mentioned recognizing the dishes in another post, so I wanted to highlight them here. Old Town Blue is actually a retro pattern brought back to stores new now, though you can often find them in vintage stores and flea markets, too, if you have the patience to put a set together piece by piece!

From what I can dig up, it was first produced in 1972. They later produced another similar pattern called Blue Onion, and more recently True Blue, but nothing is the same as Old Town Blue, so they brought it back. The popularity of the pattern can be seen in its collectible fashion–check out the 63 Best Images of Old Town Blue and Blue Onion on Pinterest, for an example. I see some pieces there I don’t have…. I want that butter dish!

I didn’t care for Corelle much for many years. I didn’t grow up with any Corelle. My mother loved her fine dishes. She had a (gorgeous) set of Franciscan Apple dishes for daily use, and several sets of fancy china. I never cared for china–too fancy for me!–and never cared for Corelle–perhaps because I was brought up in the atmosphere that one always set the table, even with small children, with “nice” dishes. You didn’t worry about the children breaking the dishes. Heavens, no. The children were well-behaved. OF COURSE.

But then I did get some Corelle dishes when my kids were little. Because they weren’t well-behaved and for some reason I didn’t even particularly expect them to Not break the dishes. (Hmmm.) I considered them throwaway dishes. (They were the more plain jane Cafe Blue Corelle.)

When I decided to get some new dishes recently (I had distributed out some of my other dishes to my now grown-up children), I had a craving for Corelle, and it absolutely had to be Old Town Blue. I can’t even explain why, but it just called to me. Got any Corelle? Favorite patterns? Are you a fan? And are they your “throwaway” dishes the kids can’t break, or your “real” ones?

P.S. In the photo above, I’m experimenting with “frosting inside” mini cakes. That’s some apple spice cake with vanilla frosting. It was delicious.

Easy Homemade Lotion Recipe


I’ve been getting a lot of questions about this lotion lately, so I decided to just post the recipe! For years, I’ve taught this recipe in all-day soapmaking classes (not that it’s a soap–it was a beauty add-on product we’d do at the end of the day) and I’ve also sold it, both in the studio and on Etsy. I’m doing neither anymore (and I’ll explain later in the post why I’m not selling it anymore), but first I want to credit the smart, generous lady who gave me the recipe to begin with, years ago–CindyP.

Many of you will remember the fabulous CindyP, who helped me learn how to make soap and partnered with me in so many learning adventures, including my very first workshop retreats back when they were held at Camp Sheppard. (What a lifetime ago that all seems like now! And so much fun.) Like me, and probably a lot of you, too, CindyP’s life has changed and grown in different ways and paths since then. Cindy is busy managing an addiction center and is doing great! Helping people as usual.

She used to have this recipe posted on her own website, but she’s not blogging anymore and gave me permission to post it here, so back to lotion. This is the basic lotion recipe as CindyP shared it with me years ago–I added aloe vera to the recipe later. (It’s optional–if you don’t want it, don’t add it.) It’s a light, non-greasy, moisturizing lotion that is safe to use on your face as well as your body. We’ll start with the basic recipe then how to incorporate aloe vera or other things to personalize it to your needs.

All of the ingredients are easy to find. Emulsifying wax thickens the lotion and holds the oil and water together. Use emulsifying wax pastilles like this for quick melting. Glycerin comes in a solid and liquid form–be sure to use liquid glycerin for this recipe. The olive oil can be any kind, but I always use a light extra virgin.

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How to Make Easy Homemade Lotion:

1 ounce emulsifying wax
6 ounces olive oil
2 ounces liquid glycerin
12 ounces water

Heat the emulsifying wax, olive oil, and glycerin on low until wax is melted–this will only take a few minutes. Cool to 110-120 degrees. Combine with the water and blend until lotion-like–I use a stick blender, but you can also use a regular kitchen mixer. The lotion thickens further as it cools. Makes approximately 24 ounces.

Note: This is hard to make on a hot day! I can’t tell you how many hot summer days in the studio I watched attendees struggle to bring their lotion together. I learned over time that the best thing to do was refrigerate their bowls of lotion when that happened. Chilling the lotion brings it together and thickens it quicker. We’d chill the lotion, move on to another project, then come back to the lotion a little later and they could finish it quickly and easily.

Adding aloe vera: To add aloe vera, use a pure aloe vera liquid, not an oil, which is an extract in a carrier oil and not pure aloe vera. (It’s mostly carrier oil.) You can add the aloe vera two ways.

1. Add several drops of aloe vera after the lotion is made and just stir it in.

2. Replace part of the water with several ounces of aloe vera and incorporate it from the beginning.

I’ve done it both ways–it really depends on how much aloe vera you’re putting in there. If you’re only adding it by drops, it’s just as well to add it at the end. If you’re going to add quite a bit, as in several ounces, it’s best to replace part of the water with the aloe vera liquid at the time you blend the mixture with water. How much aloe vera to include? Though we usually did it by drops at the end in workshops, for the lotions I sold, I would add several ounces and incorporate it as a replacement for part of the water. (Adding several ounces at the end can upset the balance of your lotion.)

A few drops or several ounces? Up to you!

If you have an aloe vera plant, you can also add it directly from the plant by extracting a leaf and squeezing the aloe vera liquid from it. This is the hard method, by the way. (I have an aloe vera plant and used to do it that way, but squeezing out enough aloe vera to put on a cut on your finger and squeezing out enough aloe vera to add to a bowl of lotion are vastly different things….)

What about other stuff? Liquid vitamin E! This is great to add in also, along with just about anything you can think of that may suit a personal need or desire of your own. You can add fragrance or essential oils–several drops at the end–as well, but—-

Caution! Fragrance and essential oils can irritate sensitive skin, and even not so sensitive skin. I never sold this lotion scented, and didn’t usually let people scent it in workshops either. Sometimes attendees would request to scent it, and I would only allow them to add fragrance after their group had completed the lotion and divided it amongst themselves. Then I would allow them to scent their individual take-home container if they wanted. I don’t consider my own skin to be sensitive, yet even I would find fragrance irritating when added to lotion, so be careful. If you want to try it scented, separate a small amount from your batch, add a drop of your chosen fragrance or essential oil, and test it on your skin before scenting the whole batch.

Why did I stop selling it? This is a preservative-free product. When I was still doing workshops and selling it in the studio (I only taught the recipe in all-day soapmaking workshops) and also had started selling it on Etsy, I could go through quite a bit of it in a short time. Now that I’m not selling directly out of the studio anymore, I can’t go through as much lotion as quickly as I did before. Even kept refrigerated, the lotion will go rancid after a few months. This is why I always sold it in small 4-ounce jars that people could use relatively quickly, and always recommended keeping it refrigerated or in a cool place. Since I can’t sell as much lotion as quickly as I used to when I was selling out of the studio also, I just quit selling it because I would have waste–I’d have to throw out whatever didn’t sell in a short period of time. For this reason also I suggest you don’t double or triple the recipe thinking a large batch would be more efficient. Unless you are a heavy duty lotion user, a large batch could lead to waste.

Can you add preservatives to your homemade lotion? Sure! I just didn’t want to do it. I prefer a natural product, and there is no natural preservative that will extend the shelf life of homemade lotion to the same extent as you’ll find in commercial products anyway. To me, hand-crafting a natural, preservative-free product is a main point in making it at all. If you want to add a preservative to your lotion, you’ll have to research elsewhere for that information. My recommendation is to make small batches that you can use in a short time period, divide it into small jars and keep currently unused jars refrigerated, always keep your current jar in a cool place in your home, and don’t touch it directly in the jar. No matter how much you wash your hands, you still run the risk of contaminating the jar by dipping your fingers directly into it. Use a popsicle stick or small spoon to dip in your jar. I always provided a tiny beauty spatula with each jar when I sold it. (Look again at the photo at the top of the post and you’ll see them beside the jars.)

Enjoy your home lotion-making! I hope it opens a world of new possibilities to you. I also made a version of this with cocoa butter and shea butter. I can post this recipe at another time if anyone’s interested?

April 5, 2018 - Somebody Got In Trouble

And guess who it is! Unbelievably, our year-and-a-half-old Jersey bull suddenly, inexplicably, decided to start sucking on Glory Bee last week. I’ve had plenty of calves suck on other mothers over the years, but this bull didn’t even grow up with Glory Bee. He’s her boyfriend! I noticed the milk supply taking an abrupt nosedive...
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April 2, 2018 - Ramp-Infused Olive Oil

Indisputable evidence that it is, indeed, April. You know it’s springtime in Appalachia when they’re selling ramps on the side of the road. If you don’t know what ramps are, they’re wild leeks native to the Appalachian Mountain region. West Virginia is the ramps capitol of the world. People dig them up in the rich,...
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March 30, 2018 - The Frisky 60s and Other Generational Cracks

Morgan and her best friend Jennie stopped by last weekend. (Some of you may remember Jennie–she lived with us for a time when she and Morgan were in high school, after her family’s house burned down.) Jennie lives in Kentucky now (and is expecting a baby!) and had been visiting with Morgan in Morgantown for...
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March 26, 2018 - A Forecast of Rambling with A Chance of News

A couple weeks ago, I was out on the driveway at the farm and saw a car driving by slowly. Then a few minutes later they drove back down the road slowly, past the farm. I’ve seen this sort of activity before and had a feeling about it, but I was busy and didn’t want...
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March 25, 2018 - Gingersnap Has the Last Laugh

This is Gingersnap. This is Gingersnap when she was baby, in one of my all-time favorite videos. That’s her mama, Moon Pie, with Gingersnap (her baby) on the left and Pumpkin (Glory Bee’s baby) on the right–both of them nursing on Moon Pie at the same time. Gingersnap and Pumpkin were both born in early...
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March 24, 2018 - Jam People

I was talking to a friend the other day about carrot canning recipes. She’d just inherited (for lack of a better term) 10 pounds of carrots from a relative’s house. They’d been moved to a nursing home and had been in possession of a large stash of carrots at the time. Since she cans, everyone...
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