Let Them Make Soap!

Forget hand sanitizers!  When soap is at a premium why not make your own?

I’ve been making soap for close to twenty years now and I thought it was the perfect time to share the process with you as it’s both enjoyable and relaxing and yields the most creamy and fragrant – and of course cleansing – soap you can imagine!

You’ll need a recipe – and though I’ve acquired many over the years – my favorite is the one I received when I first learned the craft.

I don’t expect you to read the instructions above; I just wanted to show you how wonderfully low tech they are.

The gist of it is this –  mix lye and oils together and stir until a chemical process called saponification takes place.

First the Lye

I use Red Devil Lye (sodium hydroxide) added to water.  This stuff is caustic and requires the most caution.  I usually mix it outside, let the fumes rise in the open air, then bring it back inside to cool down (for yes, it becomes very hot.)

Then the Oils

I melt these together in a stainless steel pot on the stove. My recipe called for coconut oil, olive oil and vegetable shortening, but many different oils can be used.

Once melted, the oils need to cool and when both the lye and oils are lukewarm I mix them together and stir.

This is the fun part, when the solution slowly changes before your eyes, dreamily, imperceptibly thickening, until  ‘trace’ occurs and you see an imprint remain when you dribble the soap on top.  (Or when it becomes thick like split-pea soup.)

If you’re lucky and have a good recipe, this will take 15 or 20 minutes. Then you add your essential oils or fragrances and pour into prepared molds.  I sometimes split the batch to make two different fragrances, one of which is always lavender.

When it hardens, I cut it,  let it cure for 30 days and voila – I have soap!  And yes, those really are sleeping kitties. 🙂

Wasn’t that fun?

~ Susanne

Welcome to my Garden!

Good morning!  And to all of you who are housebound, welcome to my garden!

That includes you hummingbirds –

you are welcome to stop by for a bath anytime! 🙂


~ Susanne

A Walk through Paradise – in Waimea Valley!

Need to get away?  Come with me for a walk in Waimea Valley!

Tucked away on Oahu’s North Shore, across from Waimea Bay,

you’ll find Waimea Valley,  a valley deeply rooted in Hawaiian history,  and Oahu’s last intact ahupua’a, a traditional Hawaiian land parcel extending from the mountains to the ocean.

It’s 80 degrees as we enter the gardens, home to 5,000 unique plants from Hawaii and around the world.

Close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin.

Listen to the flowing stream.

Rest awhile under the trees

then follow the paths beneath them

absorbing the beauty and color of the flowers around you.

Walk slowly, stopping to enjoy the unexpected,

until you arrive at the falls

and plunge into its cool waters.


Do you feel better, now?

I do!

~ Susanne

Everybody’s Gone Surfing on Oahu’s North Shore!

Coronavirus got you down?  Time for some armchair travel to the North Shore where surfing is king!

Yes, on our recent trip to Oahu – before the world went into quarantine – we spent four nights on the North Shore next to the Seven Mile Miracle, the most concentrated stretch of big wave surfing on earth.

Our first night at Turtle Bay we were delighted to watch the surfers as the sun went down.


And the next morning after sunrise –

we were even happier to watch this doggie surfing.  🙂

But for the big wave surfing we headed to Ehukai Beach Park, aka the Banzai Pipeline.

According to Wikipedia, “The Banzai Pipeline, or simply Pipeline or Pipe, is a surf reef break located in Hawaii, off Ehukai Beach Park in Pupukea on O’ahu’s North Shore. A reef break is an area in the ocean where waves start to break once they reach the shallows of a reef.”

And here we are riding the waves!

HA!  Only the experts dare to surf the dangerous Pipe.  In fact we were firmly planted on the beach watching the action off shore and even that was a thrill.

The Banzai Pipeline is one of three beaches where Vans Triple Crown of Surfing takes place during the winter where the best in the world compete. Fortunately our trip did not coincide with that event or we’d not have gotten close to any of these beaches, not to mention a room at Turtle Bay Resort.

Eventually we had our fill of surfing and headed to the famous North Shore beach town,

where I managed to find something to buy – no surprise there – a new bathing suit!  The young woman who waited on me was originally from Brazil, but spends the winters on the North Shore during the surfing season.  Ah to be young and free!  😉

After a full day we headed back to Turtle Bay where I took this picture and applied some artsy editing for an Instagram post.

More adventures to come from the North Shore including a walk through beautiful Waimea Valley!

Stay tuned.  🙂

~ Susanne

FOTD – Azaleas Heralding Spring!

I thought we could use some early spring cheer and I found it in my backyard where the azaleas are starting to bloom.

For Cee’s  Flower of the Day Photo Challenge

~ Susanne

The Cats Call Me Sue

My name is Susanne but I never heard it growing up, except on the first day of school when the teacher did roll call. “It’s Susie,’ I replied and so it was until I began working at Prudential Mutual Savings Bank in downtown Seattle.

One day I answered the phone, “Susie speaking,” and it no longer fit. So I went with the name on the birth certificate and set out to retrain everyone.

“It’s Susanne,'” I said over and over, until everyone made the switch and so it has been ever since.

Until I started my blog that is, and the cats decided to call me Sue. And in the words of Johnny Cash, “What could I do?”

“Isn’t that right boys?” I asked.

“Yes Sue,” said Tiger.

“That’s right Sue,” said Benji.

“But why?” I asked still puzzled myself.

“Maybe it’s easier for you to type,” said Tiger.

“Maybe it’s easier for us to say,” said Benji.

“Makes sense to me,” I replied.

~ Susanne (aka ‘Sue’), Tiger, and Benji.

Super Worm Moon Through the Trees

Strange name isn’t it? But that’s what tonight’s last full moon of winter is called.  It was a clear night so I went out to watch it while it was rising through the trees.

So there you have it.

The Super Worm Moon through the trees.

From my backyard.

~ Susanne

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