I did not leave the house at all yesterday, except to go see #1 son’s car, on which someone had written “You are my sunshine” with ketchup and jelly. Is this a bizarre modern courtship ritual or something? He went off canoeing with some friends, leaving bits of ketchup and jelly all over the driveway where he washed his car.

We were expecting rain all day, and it finally came late in the afternoon. #1 son had a tent with him, though, and he is young and strong, so we didn’t worry about it.

My husband headed out with a sheaf of internet printouts on the Vang Pao story, which is pretty exciting. It would make a good movie. Apparently this is what everyone is talking about in his set, and he is able to pull out his documents to solve disputes.

I talked with both my girls on the phone.#1 daughter is going back to school, and went to register with the other freshmen, all of whom are younger than she is. She is only 24, but it seems that is old enough to leave a gap between her and the other students. Their girlish giggliness made her feel old.  #2 daughter had an interesting encounter with a guy she used to date. Each of them was meeting someone at a restaurant, and in each case the date arrived there first. The two — not knowing one another at all — chose adjoining tables. This sort of thing happens in movies all the time, and it happens where I live because it is a6 small town, but in a city the size of #2 daughter’s it counts as a stunning coincidence. #2 and the old flame did not acknowledge one another’s existence at all.

I stayed in and made things.

First, I made lip balm. This is very easy. You put 3 tablespoons of beeswax and 3 tablespoons of almond oil into a Pyrex measuring cup and melt them together in your microwave. Get the beeswax in nice clean pellets like this and you will have no troubles measuring it.

You can adjust the proportions. I live in a hot climate and my husband keeps his lip balm in his pocket all day, so I go with the one-to-one ratio, but some folks like to use more oil for a less firm product.6

Once the main ingredients are melted, put 20 drops of peppermint oil in. The odd plastic thing in the picture is a pipette, which is how you get 20 drops.

Stir it in.

It is possible to use something else besides peppermint oil, as long as it is nontoxic, but using actual flavored stuff tends to make people lick their lips.

I don’t think that I have ever done this, but perhaps people are unaware of it when they do it. The article where I read this said that they end up with chapped lips as a result. You could also leave the scent out altogether. Beeswax smells wonderful all on its own.

6 Then you just pour the mixture into the tubes.

I have tried using funnels, but it doesn’t work that well and you lose a good bit of the lip balm that way. You can see that there is a little bit of spilling involved in doing it this way, but it is minimal and easy to clean up. it just takes a steady hand.

The mixture is transparent and liquid at this point, but it firms up and becomes opaque when it cools.

You will notice that there is no petroleum in this, as there is in most store-bought kinds, and they cost about thirty cents apiece (assuming you buy fresh tubes every time) and take about twenty minutes to make. Larger quantities take no longer to make. If you are very frugal, you could pour the stuff into old film cannisters or something, since the tubes constitute half the cost.

6 If you are making lip balm or lotion bars or anything of that kind, it makes sense to go ahead and make some soap. The oils left in the measuring cup will enrich the soap. So don’t wash the container, just chop up some melt and pour soap and throw it in. Melt it in your microwave and then have fun playing with the colors and scents.

Inspired by the previous day’s hike, I made a scent combination of honeysuckle, pine, grass, and just a touch of rose, and colored it a lake blue. It turned out very well.

I also made some gardener’s soap, which means a soap with a bit of scrubbing power. To do this, you add a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal (or ground pumice, coffee grounds, or clay) to a cup of melted soap.6

I scented it with spearmint and eucalyptus, but found that the cornmeal had such a strong scent of its own that it drowned out the herbal component, so I gave it a shot of cinnamon oil. I then colored it to look like a cinnamon soap I used to buy in the college bookstore when I was a student.

You would be surprised how much tinkering with primary colors it takes to get a natural-seeming brown like this.

I finished up the pound of soap with some plain old girly pink soap, stargazer lily scent. A single note scent and a single color make soapmaking very quick, though perhaps slightly less entertaining.

These are ordinary things such as I might make on any ordinary day. For a true vacation crafting feel, I had to try something new and unreasonable.

6I had four cups of dried rose petals left over from last year, and this year’s crop ready for drying, so I decided to make rose petal beads.

I think my mother had some rose petal beads once. They looked, I vaguely remember, like very dark wood and smelled of roses.I read about them online and compared all the various recipes, discussed them with #1 daughter, and prepared this unappetizing mess of rose petals, water, and rose oil in the blender.

I cooked it down for several hours while doing all these other things.

If you look up rose petal bead recipes, you will find widespread disagreement on the method and ingredients, and a startling lack of specificity. While lots of recipes said to use four cups of dried organic rose petals, they then said things like “water” or “some water.” Recommended cooking times varied from6 many hours, with intermittent coolings, to none at all.

I tried to follow the assorted incompatible instructions as well as possible, and ended up with these beads, which look, I said, like dog kibble. #2 son suggested that they actually looked like dog poo, and that I had been waiting for him to say that so that I wouldn’t have to.

The stuff did not hold its shape well enough to form nice bead shapes, nor well enough to string them on a knitting needle as the instruction suggested. They are supposed to shrink down into small black beads, but this morning they are still  like uncooked meatballs in texture. I have lots of them in all different sizes, and I intend to leave them alone and see if anything changes.

I had been reading about the birth of chemistry in A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. He is repeatedly surprised that people who did significant things like discovering new elements also did mad things like try to turn urine into gold.

I don’t think that it is really surprising. People were making soap, and rose petal beads, and herbal concoctions that worked as well as anything else they had access to. Urine was actually used for several practical purposes. They were all doing it in slapdash ways like my soapmaking (I was very accurate the one time I used lye, but the oldtime soapmakers weren’t, back before Lavoisier invented chemistry and, in almost entirely unrelated news, got his head chopped off in the Reign of Terror) and rose petal beads. Who knew what might happen?

6 The process does make your house smell like roses. And it might yet work, if perhaps it takes weeks for the beads to dry. I’ll let you know.

Still, with so little visible success, further unreasonable crafting was called for.

I began the bunny slippers from The Happy Hooker.

I am not impressed by this pattern. For one thing, they are made in numerous flat pieces. I don’t get that. Crochet is so three dimensional. You can just sort of hold a shape in your mind and crochet around it. Why make separate pieces and sew them together?

Since it was written that way, I took the opportunity to add a layer of batting between the upper and lower soles.6

I just cut out a couple of pieces of batting the shape of the finished lower sole.

The counts in the pattern also did not seem to be correct, though I know that I am not very accurate and I could have been making mistakes. Fortunately, all the pieces are pretty basic obvious shapes, so I just ignored the pattern after a bit and made the shapes.

The method of assembly was also unclear, so I just sewed the bits together in what seemed like a logical way and hoped for the best.

As of last night, they were a cozy, if rather dorky-looking pair of fairly standard slippers.

6 #2 sons says to stop here. The heel is too low, he says, but otherwise they are okay, and he likes the cushiness of the padded soles.

He feels that the bunny faces would ruin them.

I saw a pair of these at my local yarn shop about a year ago and was charmed by them. I do not know anyone who would wear mohair bunny slippers, but I bought the book with the pattern. While visiting the LYS this week, I saw that the mohair was on sale for practically nothing and the slippers were still sitting there, looking cute. I bought a couple of skeins of the mohair.

I put it together with several different shades of leftover Peruvian Highland Wool.

Having done all these unreasonable things, can I really stop short of adding bunny faces?

The pattern says to throw these in the washer and dryer to make them fluffy. “Don’t worry that they will get smaller,” it says. I, having made and felted a lot of slippers with the Highland Wool, feel completely sure that they will get smaller. This seems like a chemistry sort of thing, too, or possibly physics. Why would crocheted wool not get smaller, when knitted does? And yet, the authors of the pattern must surely have tried it themselves.

Since no one will wear them, will it matter?

It looks like rain again today, but it is the last day of my vacation, so I may go hiking anyway. Or I may stay in and make bunny ears.