Making Body Butter and More Exploration

Several months ago I purchased all the raw products to make body butters. I’ve seen so many recipes on Pinterst and wanted to have a go.  I have experimented with coconut oil, but today was serious business. 

I started with a few recipes I had found on Pinterest but did a lot of tweaking. First batch was simply equal parts coconut oil and coconut butter. I melted them all in the microwave then refrigerated until opaque.

After it was opaque, around 20 minutes, I took it out and whipped it with the electric mixer. Then put it back in the fridge again for 5 minutes to firm up before the final beating. It takes a lot of beating to get to stiff peaks. If it is not making stiff peaks put in back in fridge for another 5 minutes. 

Using approx 6 oz of each coconut oil and cocoa butter yielded 3 containers.  For the pink butter I used 3oz coconut oil, 6oz shea butter, 2 oz cocoa butter, 1-2 oz vitamin E oil.  I melted the coconut oil and cocoa butter in the microwave and then added the Shea butter and mixed. I placed this mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes, removed it, added bit E oil and then whipped and whipped with the electric mixer. It only yielded 2 containers. I added essential oils to both but never really got a good smell. The Shea smells awful and needs masking!  With both the finish products feel a bit greasy, but I’ll let them set and test them both tomorrow.  Next I’ll just use Shea and cocoa butter. The coconut oil seems to hinder the firming up of the butters. We’ll see what it looks like in 24 hours. 

Pulled out all my Christmas goodies today!

So excited to start the process!!  Has always been the tradition to decorate on Thanksgiving week-end and this year will be no exception. It is always such a treat as every year what with yard sales and such my decor grows and allows even more holiday cheer!!  This year I am hosting a company party so want everything just perfect!  

As the hubs and I continue to plan for retirement and view homes we have been doing serious thinking and can’t decide between property in the country or the coast. So far with all the places we have viewed country property is winning. On our foray to look at homes yesterday we happened upon this treasure!

This wonderful cheesemaking operation was just tucked off the highway beside the family dairy farm. Willamette Valley Cheese!!  Sampling was free and you were allowed all the samples you desired.  As there was just too much of a selection, I deferred to their recommendations for my tasting. Every single cheese was exceptional….every one!!!  I walked away with a nice selection. And the prices were beyond reasonable!!  

I love small family businesses! From their website I copied this excerpt:

“It’s sunrise at Volbeda Farms. The creek runs cold and clear in the countryside surrounding Salem, Oregon. Rod Volbeda’s jersey cows are enjoying a breakfast of home-grown, fresh forage. Their milk is the prime ingredient for the award-winning line of Willamette Valley Cheese Company brand Gouda, Havarti, Jack, Cheddar, Brie, Fontina, and other farmstead cheeses. Some are updated with subtle herbs and spices. Others represent classic European recipes Rod learned as an apprentice with Dutch cheese masters in Holland. All are buttery-smooth, mildly fragrant, and all-natural. They are enticing alone; prepared for discerning palettes. Their depth and intensity are heightened by hearty red wines and crisp, refreshing whites. The specialty cheeses of Willamette Valley Cheese Company consistently exceed expectations.

Treating the herd well ensures the finest cheese ingredient: top-quality milk with high-butter fat and extra protein. Time-honored recipes, innovative techniques, and imaginative flavors are balanced by Rod Volbeda’s dedication to artisan cheese making. “Cows and dairy are a family tradition,” says Rod, a second generation craftsman with a degree in food science from Oregon State University. Rod spent more than a decade perfecting cheese recipes and growing his herd of jersey cows. Only after careful consideration of every aspect related to the cheese making process did he believe the timing was right to launch Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Honors and awards for the company’s 100% Jersey milk farmstead cheeses soon followed. Health-conscious consumers seeking fresh, natural products began lining up at specialty stores and growers markets for their cheeses.

The Volbedas know their customers care about where their foods come from. Raw milk produced at Volbeda Farms goes directly from the milking parlor to a thoroughly modern cheese making facility. Pasteurization takes place in an on-site vat with no bumpy truck ride or lengthy trip through pressurized tubes. The Volbedas believe it makes more sense to create and age their cheeses on the same farm where their trademark Jersey milk is produced.

The Volbeda’s philosophical approach to farming includes the practice of environmental sustainability. They fertilize their pastures and crops with nutrient-rich compost. Their cows are not treated with hormones. Their cheese making operation focuses on quality, not quantity. That may be old-fashioned, but the Volbeda’s care about their customers and never rush to market with products that don’t meet their stringent standards for freshness and flavor.

Loyal customers appreciate and savor the flavorfully soft and creamy hand-crafted cheeses created by the Volbedas – part of their dairy family’s heritage since 1962. Rich western soil and verdant fields provide pasture for the happiest cows in the valley. Willamette Valley Cheese Company guarantees you’ll find their products distinctively fresh, smooth and uniquely flavorful.

Pamper your palate. Explore the textures and tastes derived from the fine art of hand-crafted, slow-made, all-Jersey cow milk farmstead cheeses. Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s offerings are from the Volbeda family to you and yours. Natural cheese just doesn’t get any better than this.”

All so very true!!!

While out exploring we headed to Monmouth and Independence.  Salem is surrounded by small towns and we both love visiting them.  Found the sweetest used bookstore in Independence.  Who doesn’t love a good used book store?!

Could spend hours here!!  Shelves and shelves of magic!!!

Closer to home we make our usual forays to Minto-Brown Park for our routine walks.  We have yet to explore all the paths. Minto-Brown Park is 1200 acres with over 20 miles of paved paths and numerous dirt paths. It borders the Willamette River.  It is meticulously maintained by the city and an absolute jewel!!! 

It is one of our favorite places to walk!  I just love it when cities care enough to preserve green areas for public use.  I have been fortunate enough to live in cities that offer these amenities. But have to say Minto Brown Park is the best hands down!!!  The boxers would certainly agree!  Here they are after a walk

Cozy and content!  

And now I must attend to all those boxes of decor…

Making Merry!



Going Home

The hubs and I recently made a trip to my home town. It had been a year since I had made it back. Which is really crazy since it is only 4 hours away. But it is a world away as I always step back into my childhood as I enter the community.  While the world changes I can always count on Condon remaining the same, it is a constant in an unpredictable world!  I like that!

While there we spent our time on the farm with 4 of my favorite sweet peas!  We got to enjoy Halloween with them.  I think they had some darn clever costumes!!

Paul Revere and Marie Antoinette. Love it!

The town was all decked in Halloween wear as well. The Main Street trick or treat event had a huge turn out.  Love how the community all comes together to sponsor this event for the kids.

My favorite store! It is worth making a trip to Condon just to visit this store!

The community has been restoring all the store fronts in a campaign to beautify and wow does it look beautiful!!  I am just delighted that my grandchildren have the opportunity to grow up on a farm in my little home town!

And look at this loot!  Toys, goodies, home made treats.  Made me remember the Halloweens of my childhood and pillowcases full of goodies. We always knew just what houses had the best treats and who made the best popcorn balls!  Small towns; truly the backbone of our country!


Also stopped in to see my momma.

My brother and his son came over from their home in a neighboring community how nice was that!

It was great catching up with everyone and spending time with Chrissy and Bill. Also got to see Doodle Bug and hear her latest adventures.  

Located on the high desert plateau, Condon affords magnificent views of 5 mountains.  For as long as I can remember there has been a place marker on the highway towards Portland that identifies these 5 mountains that are visible: Jefferson, Hood, St Helens, Adams, and Rainier.  

All to soon we were home again and back to the usual routine.  Which always includes a trip to the beach!

It was cold so we had the beach to ourselves and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. 

I have to admit I am a holiday junkie and am already listening to Christmas music. While everyone seems to grumble about decor in the stores I love seeing the bright displays.  I hate to shop but will spend hours just looking at holiday decor.  I can’t really choose a favorite holiday as I love Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, really just any excuse to decorate in a festive manner and celebrate!!  I think perhaps this love may have its origins in my Catholic upbringing.  Catholics celebrate a myriad of occasions and make the mundane sacred. I love that!!!  Also as a quilter, knitter, crafter I am always planning and creating for the next holiday months before it begins.  So yes I am that woman in aisle 27 in a hypnotic state with a smile on my face surrounded with holiday fare.  And yes my gifts are generally purchased and wrapped by December 1st. Although I do love a mad Last minute Christmas rush!  But I never do black Friday or shop on holidays.  Businesses should be shuttered up on holidays so families can be together!!  Well that’s my two cents anyway!!  

Next week I will share some of my holiday makings.

Until then Make Merry!




It’s Christmas Time Again…


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Yet another Christmas has arrived and how I adore Christmas time.  I start playing Christmas music in November!  With a new home and new town decorating was new all over again.  I did feel a tiny bit of sadness, but just a tiny bit, as I brought out all my decorations and began to decorate this new place we call home.  I remembered the excitement I felt at decorating my own beautiful cottage in the Villages….but time marches on and life brings changes.  I am very happy living here so near to the ocean and the city!  But still there is occasionally that twinge of sadness.  But then don't holidays always bring a bit of melancholy?!  However, the sadness could not remain long as the house was tranformed with Christmas finery.  So many of my decorations hold deep sentimental value and have been used year after year.  And this year Jimmy and I bought a real tree, no artificial stuff when you live in Christmas tree land!!  It makes the house smell heavenly!  Now if only I could have all the girls and grands here for Christmas it would be perfect!!

Although we have both been really busy, we got out for more exploration and found this amazing nature area right here in the city…


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My little girl is getting so grey.  How fun it was to wander through these bent and broken trees.  One of the things I love about Salem is that although it has all the amenities of a city, it is loaded with so many natural places to explore.

As the year comes to a close I am vowing once again to slow down my pace.  I often feel like a hamster on a wheel….spinning and spinning and getting nowhere.  The change of ownership at work has made for long days as a new model of operation is embraced with new (and improved) systems.  It is all good and will be a marked improvement, but most time intensive for a bit.  Since moving here my daily workouts at the gym are a memory of the past and my figure is showing it as is my health.  I just don't feel as good and find myself once again just grabbing whatever is easy and close by to eat, which at work is usually unhealthy!  My wonderful hubby makes me yummy dinners which I eat too much of…..  So looks like 2014 will need to be a repeat of 2012…focus on putting my health first.  As we all know, no one else can do it for us and if we don't make the priority it will never happen…

But it is the Christmas Season so no negative thoughts, just gratitude for all my blessings.  Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones may your blessings be many!!




“my friend, the ghost is through, his power ends.”  One of my Halloween family traditions has been to watch Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow as narrated by Bing Cosby.  I grew up watching this, shared my love of it with my daughters, and now my grandchildren are enjoying this yearly tradition.  Because of this I have always had a fascination with covered bridges.  Imagine my delight when I discovered that Oregon is home to more covered bridges than any other state.  And most are right here within an easy afternoon drive!  

Of the original 500+ bridges around 51 are still standing today.  The bridges were built between 1890 to the 1950s.  According to the Covered Bridge Society:


Rugged pioneers armed with only hand tools, sweat and ambition began building covered bridges in Oregon during the mid-1850's. They often camped out at remote sites, living off the land or contracting with local farmers for food. Early covered bridge owners often financed construction by charging tolls: 3 cents for a sheep, 5 cents for a horse and rider.

In the early 20th century, the state provided standard bridge designs to each county, most of these structures incorporated the Howe truss. The abundance of Douglas Fir and the shortage of steel during the world wars continued construction of covered spans well into the 1950's.

A wooden bridge was covered to keep the huge truss timbers dry. A covered bridge could last 80 years or more, while an uncovered span would deteriorate in about nine years. In Oregon, legislation was established in 1987 to help fund preservation of these rich links to our past and heritage.

With the help of this map that gives a driving tour of six bridges we set out.

The day was beautiful and was so excited to get started!  First up was the Stayton-Jordan Bridge.

Next up was Hannah Bridge:

Then on to Shimanek Bridge, my very favorite of all the bridges!!



Bridge number four was Larwood, it also had an old water powered sawmill nearby that had fallen into disrepair.

Hoffman Bridge was the next stop, however it was closed for repairs.  But we still got some nice pictures.

Our last stop was Gilkey Bridge:

What a perfect way to spend the day!  The bridges are such an amazing piece of history.  They are still in use today, standing strong and beautiful.  But to me they were more than merely a means to cross a river, they excited my imagination.  At every turn I expected to see the Headless Horseman come thundering out of the woods, his sword lifted high, looking for another head to chop!

For more information about the bridges go to:

"Man, I'm getting outta here"