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Sunday Soaps

Blackberry-Basil, aka “Fantasy Berry” is officially ready to ship out!

I also have a small batch of my unscented, uncolored, shea & cocoa butter soap that is ready to ship out, but I haven’t figured out what to call it.  I typically name the soaps after the fragrance and/or a notable ingredient.  I could call it “shea & cocoa” but in this case I think the “unscented” part is a selling point for people with allergies. I’ve seen these called “Plain Jane” or “Minimalist”, but nothing is grabbing me.

Even without scent, I find I like this one rather a lot.  The pure soap cured out and smells vaguely of graham crackers to me.  I’d noticed this before in an oatmeal-honey soap, but I thought it was coming from the honey.

Now I’m just thinking of ridiculous names.  “Sin Nombre” sounds rather dangerous, doesn’t it?  It’s also what they called one of the Hanta Virus outbreaks in the 90’s, so maybe not. My husband is suggesting a marketing campaign around “I rode through the desert with a soap with no name.”  Or something using this guy:

No Face

I probably need to work on marketing skills.

Today’s plan is for me to make a decision about the name and then make one or two batches of Manly soaps that should be ready for Father’s Day.

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It feels like I only go into the city when we have visitors, but we did, and I did.  Of course we had to go to Pike Market and Seattle Center (on the monorail! – it’s the best way!)

Obligatory shot of Pike Market sign

Seattle Center
Pacific Science Center

From the monorail

Final shot.  I have a thing for amusing signs and this guy looks like there’s just been some sort of Urgent Diaper Emergency.

Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb
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Whidbey Island

Whenever we have guests from out of town and I’m looking for a day trip, this is one of my favorites.  We start by driving up to Deception Pass and walk out over the bridge to Pass Island.

View from about mid-span.

The current through the narrow channel can reach 8 knots at peak flow. I’ve been kayaking near there before but never through the pass itself.  This time there was a series of standing waves west of the bridge and high winds, which made crossing a white-knuckle experience.  I was afraid to look through the viewfinder, so this picture was taking by just pointing the camera in a direction and hoping it caught something good.

From the bridge we headed downhill into the park for a walk along the beach and a look at the ancient (800+ year old) douglas fir.  We’ve heard this called the “Monkey Tree” but I have no idea where that name comes from (we did fill it with our own little monkeys).

Then it was on to the hike itself.

A different wind-contorted tree with ukulele player
Ebey’s Landing
Looking up the bluff

Then our final stop was Fort Casey where we flew kites and let the kids run around in the tunnels. For some reason I always forget to take photos at Fort Casey, but here’s my dog looking alert in front of the old battery.

From there we headed south to the ferry for a short hop back to the mainland.

The only thing that would make this trip better is if it could be done in reverse so you wound up by Snow Goose Produce for gigantic ice cream cones on the way home.

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Red Cabbage Science

My youngest daughter needed a science experiment for school and I suggested we try something that I knew would give us pretty colors.

Red cabbage contains anthocyanin which changes colors based on pH.  So we got ourselves a red cabbage, chopped it up and added the juice to various substances.  (Science is here.)

After straining, get dark purple juice

The control solution was distilled water and then we tried various other things that were either acids or bases.  This particular indicator makes all acids red, but bases range from blue to green to yellow.  The colors were more vivid than I expected.  The only thing I’d change if we did it again is I’d pour some BIG jars of the indicator liquid (more dilute perhaps) and add our test substances to that, it seems to give more impressive results.

The final array:


And just for me, I wanted to test the pH of some of my soap.

Immediately after the drop was placed
After 1 minute

If we repeat this experiment I will use a LOT more solution to get a bigger color impact and I will look for something that will give me green (ammonia perhaps?).

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Maker Lab NW

A lot of creating was going on Sunday, but it was my kids, not me.  We joined a newly formed “cardboard battlebots” club and got started on our kit and getting all the information for programming and controlling the bots loaded (mostly) onto our computer and phones.

Two bots were working by the end of the session and got to duke it out. The bots are randomly assigned an animal and what you see here, is “hookworm”.  Our bot is “goose”.

And while we were poking around the Maker space, we found this really cool idea:  scales 3-D printed onto fabric. We’ve seen scales hand-sewn into gauntlets which looks extremely time consuming, if this works out, it might be a much cheaper way to achieve that effect.

Added: video of the bots fighting.

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Round bars and solid lotion

I intended to make two soaps today but I wound up not having the time.  Instead I’ve been working on packaging and tried making a few solid lotion bars as a test.  First, the new label pattern.

This may be a little dark, but I wanted something “citrus” themed for the label background for the “Tropical Citrus” soap.  I like the almost glass-like look of the cut fruit.  (My printer only does black and white).

Then I moved on to wrapping and labeling the round shampoo bars.  These are my first label mockups. I learned that I have to put the label on the flat side (the top is bumpier than the bottom).  Below that are my 4 tiny solid lotion bars to test out.  They are made with shea butter, beeswax, coconut oil and sweet almond oil.

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Seascape Kayak – Quick Update

Using the right tools and some WD-40 I managed to get the rudder apart.  Here are the metal pieces that need to be straightened.

And here is the critical central plastic piece that holds the rudder to the boat and allows the blade to slide up and down.  It’s seen better days.  I’m going to see if my Maker friends can cut a new one or if we need to purchase it from the manufacturer.

I’m currently researching the deck cording to see if I can do better than $.50 per foot.

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Broken Kayaks – Before

I made soap this week, but I haven’t taken pictures of it yet – those will come later. Instead, since we had a rare patch of sun today, I decided to repair a crack in the cockpit of my kayak and have a look at the free one donated to our club a few weeks ago.

The repair of my thigh brace went well – the company sent me a plastic patch to lay over the top (it’s a 14′ Delta Kayak, made from a lightweight ABS plastic) and some epoxy to hold it in place after a bit of sanding.  I love my Delta.  It weighs nothing (45 lbs), it has unique ‘gas-pedal’ style rudder pedals, a surprising amount of bulk storage, and a snack hatch!  It’s just fun to paddle.  I’m not entirely sure how the thigh brace cracked.  My guesses are either that I jumped into it too abruptly launching from a rocky patch into a quick-moving stream or something to do with my 13-year-old son.

The donated kayak is a 21 foot fiberglass tandem. A “Seascape 2” by Northwest Kayaks. I’ve seen them used by a lot of touring groups in the area. It had been stored upside down under a hedge for many years and the rudder was broken off. Today I went to see what we were up against.

All the bungee needs to be replaced and I had to pry/cut off two rotten pieces of wood that had once been used to mount an outrigger.  Fixing the outrigger holes and maybe some new gel-coat should do it for taking care of the body.  I don’t trust the hatch seals, but I’ll test those when I get it into the water.

The rudder needs the most work. The blade is bent and the plastic parts are cracked or broken completely in half so it is no longer attached to the boat

These are my ‘before’ shots.  I hope we can either replace or manufacture all the parts we need to get this rudder working again, and get the whole thing cleaned up – it’s filthy.


A shot of the 2 kayaks side-by-side.  The 21 foot tandem makes my 14 foot long sea kayak look like a toy.

The patch job on my Delta’s thigh brace.

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I managed to come down with the 3-week crud that has been plaguing everyone, but late last week I finally felt up to moving around and we went down to Seattle to catch the cherry trees before the blooms faded.  I didn’t wind up with too many great photos of cherry blossoms, but there was quite a bit to impress.

What I learned:  I need to think about the composition of my shots more and I find that difficult when I’m still tired.  It’s hard to nail the focus on macro shots, especially when I don’t have a tripod. I’m still learning how to take photos in aperture priority mode and it’s not always a success.

ferns and moss on a tree
tiny orange bells
mysterious fairy glen