Tag Archives: upcycling

ESSENTIALISM – RanCHING FOR PROFIT

Another excellent blog from Dallas Mount who now owns and operates Ranch Management Consultants aka Ranching for Profit. Although i’m most interested in the ranching bent to this business, many of the articles written by Dallas, Dave Pratt, former owner, and Stan Parsons, creator and former owner of Ranching for Profit are easily applied to any business or home life decision making.

You can spend money buying books or shelves or containers to declutter or you can save money by making better decisions. Starting with ‘do i really need this?’ then follow up by selling, giving away, recycling, upcycling, renovating, throwing away the stuff you haven’t used in ‘x’ amount of time. If you don’t do it now, it’s called hoarding and whatever value it might have will be lost to you and to whoever may be able to use the item to start a business or help their lives be better. Before you know it, 40, 50, 60 years have passed, and the item is obsolete and worthless. Now, that’s a waste and selfishness!

Essentialism

by Dallas Mount

closet

Each fall and winter our Executive Link meetings start with a continuing education program. We usually reach for something outside the ranching world that our members would not otherwise be exposed to. Often this is a book from business management circles. This fall our book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. The book challenges us to think about all the things we do in our busyness. Then develop focus by cutting out the trivial and finding the essential.  

In agriculture it is easy to constantly pile on more to our already busy lives. When you step back to really analyze what makes the difference in your life or your business, there are really only a few things at the core of what you do and who you are, that matter. This is the essential. McKeown challenges the reader to think of the things in your life, like you would clothes in the closet. Often, we cull the closet by asking the question “Is there a chance I’ll wear this someday in the future?” When using that broad criterion, we end up with a closet full of Garth Brooks 90’s era neon colored Brush Poppers. McKeown suggests changing the question to “Do I absolutely love this?” allowing us to eliminate the clutter to create space for something better.

I often hear from ranchers that are too “busy” with the daily tasks on the ranch to come to a school, or work on their numbers. What they are saying is that they are too busy to find time to complete the high value work that will make the difference in their businesses long term success or failure. This is a perfect application of McKeown’s assertion that an Essentialist separates and focuses on the vital few from the trivial many.  

In ag, the unspoken culture tends to value work, misery and sacrifice over financial success and healthy work-life balance. I often hear stories being swapped where we are competing over who has the ranch that creates more misery and work then the next. We tend to wear it as a badge of honor, who has to work the longest hours in the harshest weather. Maybe it is long days in the hay field, calving in the winter or feeding our way through the ongoing drought. If you want to get uninvited to the coffee shop pity party ask the question, “Why do you choose to structure your business in a way that creates these challenges?” We need to find the courage to push back on this culture of unsustainable work, coupled with unrewarding results. 

If you want to dive in and examine the essential in your life, here are a few questions to get you started. Take 10 minutes, write down your answers and share them with your spouse or confidant. 

  • What if your business could only do one thing, what would it be?  
  • Where do your passions, purpose, and skill set align? 
  • What specific things will you eliminate to create time to focus on the essential few?

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Soap, Soap, & More Soap!

All the deodorant soaps were left after i made that big batch of facial soaps.  So it’s been super cold, windy, and rainy – time to finish up that project.  I found plenty more soaps around at my father-in-law’s house – hopefully, these are the last of the old, old hotel soaps.

I found some more suitably sized pots and managed to guess the right amount that would fit in each of the blocks. This amount was MUCH easier for me to stir.  You can adjust the amounts, but these are the percentages.

  • 4 cups ground soap
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 2 cups of oils (i used olive oil, coconut oil, bits of glycerin and castor oils, & shea butter)

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the deodorant soaps melted nicely

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Bottles of old glycerin – might as well – not any good sitting in a bottle

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First batch was that bit of glycerin, 1/2 cup shea butter, and about 1 1/4 cup coconut oil

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Facial Soap Upcycling
Oddly, the facial soaps were really hard to break down to melting – lots of stirring. I started with my big spatula, then finally able to whisk it slowly.

Facial Soap finally smooth
Patience finally paid off on that lumpy facial soap batch.  To this facial soap batch, i added 1 cup coconut oil and 1 cup shea butter.  Just using up extra supplies.

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Wrapped up to slowly cool for 24 hours.

Soap block
Soap molds from Essential Depot.

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Three batches cut and laid out to cure.  Basically just to dry out.  No lye is involved in upcycling since the soap is already saponified.

Make Your Own Monday: Upcycling Hotel and Leftover Soap

Great instructions for upcycling hotel soap bars!

 

Make Your Own Monday: Upcycling Hotel and Leftover Soap

Greetings and salutations, followers! I hope you had a great weekend. I did the LoziLu 5k Mud Run in Milwaukee on Saturday and had a dirty, muddy, good time!

And what better way to get clean from all that muddy fun than by making some soap? Actually, easier and faster than making soap – upcycling it!

I discovered the process of upcycling soap about a year ago, when I realized I was taking after my mother and ALWAYS taking the free soaps from every hotel stay and saving all the little blobs from bars of soap I used at home. I could have used them as they were, but let’s be real – only the best hotels give you really good soap (in Las Vegas, we got Bulgari soap at the Tropicana!). So let’s take this stuff and make it better!

I spent some time scouring Pinterest, and comparing a few methods of melting soap. I’ve tweaked the process to one that works for me, but you’re more than welcome to explore and find what works for you.

YOU NEED:

  • Bars of soap, scraps, blobs, soap flakes, whatever you have!
  • A large metal or glass bowl and pot, OR a double boiler.
  • Molds
  • Strainer
  • Wooden spoon for stirring (you don’t want to use plastic, the hot soap will easily melt it)
  • Olive oil, glycerin, coconut oil – you need to choose a “binder” hold the melted soap together and replace the water.
  • Non stick spray for the molds.
  • Fragrance and coloring (optional I suppose, but  it really makes your soap look fancy! You can find it at any craft store)
  • Grate

Gather up all of your soap . I would wait to upcycle your soap until you have at least two cups worth of soap to work with. Image

Take your grater and pick one or two bars of soap and grate them down. I know, it’s a pain for your hands, but soap is fairly soft and you will be surprised how quickly it goes. You need to have the flakes to start a melting base so the rest will melt easily. Place them in the bottom of your glass or metal bowl/double boiler. You can chop up the rest of your soap with a knife, or grate it all if you feel like it.

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Fill your pot or double boiler 3/4 of the way full with salt water – it will reach boiling point much faster. And place it on the stove,

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Bring the water to a boil and continuously scrape the bottom of the bowl. The flakes will soften almost immediately, and you want to make sure they don’t clump up on you.

Now, take a pot holder and remove the bowl. Very carefully, take 1 cup of boiling water for every cup of soap you have in the bowl – I had two cups (or thereabouts, it’s okay if it isn’t exact), so I slowly added one cup of boiling water to the soap. Stir vigorously, and place it back on the boiler. Stir and it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then, repeat the process for however many cups of soap you have. The melting water will help break down the soap and eventually evaporate.

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It should start looking like a bubbly, kinda slimy mess. At this point, measure out one cup of your ‘binder’ – I used  Olive OIl here – for every two cups of soap. Slowly add it to the soap and stir.

Step back and let it simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Then, add coloring and fragrance to your soap. I added a mix of red and blue and yellow, which turned into this smoky Lavender color – and added a few drops of Sweet Pea fragrance oil. Stir and let it simmer for about five minutes.

Next, take the soap off the heat, and empty the hot water out of the pot. Dump the hot soap into the pot, and get out your strainer. Place the strainer over the soap melting bowl and slowly pour it through, using your wooden spoon to stir and press it through. This should leave you with a strainer full of lumpy soap remains – and a bowl of smooth, hot, colored soap. This removes all the icky stuff that might be in there. Set the lumpy leftovers aside for now, and get out your molds. Spray them lightly with non-stick spray, or wipe them down with your binder. Fill them and set them in the fridge – I’ve found that cooling them helps the soap set faster and smoother.

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Cool them overnight. Now, you may ask – Melissa, what do I do with the leftover lumpy stuff? Easy! That’s your ready-to-go base for next time! Put it in a tupperware container or plastic ziploc bag and start saving all your soap shards for next time! Trust me, you’ll want to do this again!

ImageTa da!!! Smooth, shiny, sweet scented soap! Looks like something you would be from a specialty store!

Come back tomorrow for The Happy Idiot’s very first giveaway!

 

MELISSA’S COMMENTS: 

This is seriously one of my favorite craft projects. It’s easy and it costs you nothing if you already have the soap, a muffin tin, and some olive oil. Most of us have food coloring and scented extracts in the cabinet already.

Here’s another great benefit – put your soapy supplies in the dishwasher, and you will have a sparkling clean and sweet smelling appliance when you are done!

The happy idiot

Greetings and salutations, followers! I hope you had a great weekend. I did the LoziLu 5k Mud Run in Milwaukee on Saturday and had a dirty, muddy, good time!

And what better way to get clean from all that muddy fun than by making some soap? Actually, easier and faster than making soap – upcycling it!

I discovered the process of upcycling soap about a year ago, when I realized I was taking after my mother and ALWAYS taking the free soaps from every hotel stay and saving all the little blobs from bars of soap I used at home. I could have used them as they were, but let’s be real – only the best hotels give you really good soap (in Las Vegas, we got Bulgari soap at the Tropicana!). So let’s take this stuff and make it better!

I spent some time scouring Pinterest, and comparing a…

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