Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Ice Dam Commeth

Try as I might to combat the problem—the problem is real and serious. I'm talking ice dams.

Despite my diligence of using a snow rake to remove most of the accumulation, I am realizing that my house has a couple of strikes against it. First, it doesn't receive direct sunlight until mid morning and, with the short days, not enough to melt the ice significantly. Second, the temperatures have remained cold; below freezing at night and barely above during the day. Third, we continue to get snow. This week, we received about 5 more inches.

I was talking with my friend Nicole who suggested I use Calcium Chloride flakes, something she learned from This Old House. The procedure requires you to fill a knee-high sock with the flakes, tie the end with rope, and position it on the roof perpendicular to the ice ridge. The chemical helps to melt the snow and provide channels for the water to drain off the roof. Looks like I'll be shopping for Calcium Chloride and knee socks this week.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Step up to the Beauty Bar

As you know, I have been experimenting with a variety of soap recipes lately and made my first batch of Oatmeal and Honey soap this weekend. I found out that I could use the water from the cooked oats (known as oat milk) in the recipe as well as include ground uncooked oats into the mix. I also found out that adding honey—even small amounts—to the cold process soap-making process can raise the temperautre in the mold to "volcanic" proportions if not measured and monitored. So, I measured and monitored.

While I am starting to enjoy the process of making soaps, what I really love is capturing the images of the contents and process: the beauty of the uncooked oats and natural honey. . .the oat milk that I collected by straining cooked oats. . .and the resulting color, texture and scent of the traced mixture as I pour it into the mold.

The soap was probably the fastest curing batch that I've made so far. I am sure honey had something do with it, but I am finding that my skill at achieving better trace has resulted in faster curing times overall. I am just waiting for the soap bars (pictured below) to harden to see if the oatmeal and honey will prove to be a true and marketable "beauty bar". I'll let you know.