10 Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

They say the kitchen is the heart of your home. I find that’s especially true for me. My roommate Bambi loves to cook, so we are always hosting a weekly dinner night with significant others or friends. With summer on the way, we expect to do more summer entertaining than ever.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

We recently moved my patio table into the backyard to use for summer entertaining as the weather heats up. Bambi loves to grill. So we have a grill on our list of things to buy this summer. There’s nothing more magical than BBQ and great friends as the sun goes down. We’re even thinking of making our own string light solar lanterns.

As Bambi is also a gamer, not just an incredible cook, we’re also looking forward to hosting more game nights. While I prefer games that are more in the realm of Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity, Bambi prefers games of strategy. Hosting guests for summer game nights gives us both a chance to enjoy the games we love.

And of course, I’m looking forward to hosting a few ladies only craft nights as well. There’s something about the warm weather and shaking off the final remnants of those winter blues to inspire extra socializing.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

Before summer entertaining gets into full swing however, it’s nice to take a minute and create an inviting space we feel proud to entertain in. Bambi and I are both a bit obsessive about both cleaning and creating the perfect space for hosting guests. It’s one of the many reasons we work so well as roommates – especially post divorce. It’s also why we are both such big fans of Grove Collaborative.

We both love the non-toxic and pet friendly products that Mrs. Meyer’s has to offer. (Bambi and I are both mommies to fur babies!) Not only are they effective at cleaning our home, they also look great by the kitchen sink.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you aren’t already a Grove Collaborative member, you can get a free kit of Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap, hand soap, and lotion and replaceable head dish brush with your first order of just $20. We received this fantastic cleaning kit when we signed up and loved it! (You’ll want to hurry though as supplies are limited.)

Grove Co. offers more than just eco-conscious, non-toxic cleaning essentials. They also offer other homemaking and personal healthcare products from brands I trust. I buy Lovebug Here’s the Skinny Daily Probiotic at a discount from Grove for my own gut health. (Many of you know I suffer from fibromyalgia so vitamins and supplements are a must.)

Bambi on the other hand is crazy about Grove Collaborative’s Walnut Scouring Pads. In fact she ditched her regular brand of scouring pads for these after she tried them for the first time. She also loves Grove’s Cleaning Concentrate Essentials which are scented with natural essential oils. They’re another great way to get a pet safe, non-toxic clean we can both feel good about.

We also both found the Grove Collaborative Reusable Bag Essentials Set extremely useful. (I got these as a free gift as a part of Grove’s VIP member program.) These bags are super high quality and are great both in and out of the kitchen. We use the large bag for leftover Naan when Bambi makes curry. And the others for easily stashing personal care essentials when traveling and camping.

Place your first $20 order with Grove now to receive your free Mrs. Myer’s cleaning kit. Or, if you’re already a Grove Co. member, you’ll receive a free set of the Grove walnut scrubber sponges that Bambi is so fond of. Then keep reading for some great tips for entertaining guests in your home this summer.

Top ten tips for successful summer entertaining! If you're as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great tips for opening your kitchen, and the rest of your home, to guests this summer. Plus the best pet friendly, non-toxic cleaning products for cleaning your home!

If you’re as excited about getting into the swing of summer entertaining as we are, check out these great products and tips for opening your kitchen — and the rest of your home — to guests this summer.

Great Products & Tips for Successful Summer Entertaining

1. Hand wash summer accessories that have been in the cabinet all winter. Grove’s replaceable head dish brush has curved bristles and a sturdy bamboo handle that’s perfect for washing pitchers, platters, and prep boards.

2. Wipe down the counters to create a clean and tidy space for food prep and serving impromptu midnight snacks. All you need is some warm soapy water and a microfiber. I love the ones from Grove because they have a hanging corner for easy drying and storage.

3. Your sink gets a workout during the summer, from washing grilling utensils to cutting flowers. Make sure it’s up to the task by giving it a good scrub with a paste of baking soda and Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap.

4. Set up a beautiful sink side experience that makes everyone happy. Mrs. Meyer’s soaps and lotions come in a variety of cheerful scents like honeysuckle, lavender, and lemon verbena that guests of all ages will love.

5. Everyone’s always hungry after a day at the pool. Now is a great time to stock up on supplies like Bees Wrap and Grove reusable snack bags for storing cut-up fruit, cheese, and pretzels!

6. Cool drinks are a must for successful summer entertaining. Make sure your blender is ready for fresh fruit smoothies or frozen cocktails. Simply add a drop or two of dish soap and two cups of water and blend on high for 30 seconds. Then pour out the suds, rinse, and dry with a microfiber cloth.

7. Punch up your home decor with a pop of happy color, from new throw pillows to a fresh kitchen towel. I’m feeling inspired by lush greens like Grove’s garden tea towel.

8. Create an inviting entryway with plenty of space for guests to stash sandals, hats and pool gear. I like to stash my Full Circle dust pan and brush from Grove near the front door for quick cleanup of dirt and grass clippings.

9. The powder room is a small space, which means a little bit of effort goes a long way. Freshen it up for summer by laundering and fluffing up the rug, putting out a fresh hand towel, and switching out the hand soap and lotion for a summery scent.

10. Once you’ve submitted your Grove order, you’ll be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. The VIP program is a great way to keep your home streamlined all summer, with perks like free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. Now, it’s time to light a rose candle and enjoy the quiet while it lasts!

For more great summer entertaining ideas, be sure to check out these must have wine and cheese night party essentials. Or grab a few ladies craft night ideas. You can discover even more entertaining ideas on my Party Ideas Pinterest board.

You’ll also want to follow Soap Deli News across all of your favorite social media platforms including G+FacebookTwitterBlog Lovin’, and Instagram as well as subscribe to Soap Deli News via email for future updates, DIY projects and recipes.

How to Make Homemade Soap Last Longer + a DIY Soap Dish

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Proper drainage is key to getting your soaps to last longer! Learn how to make this minimalist DIY wooden soap dish to help you get the most out of your homemade soaps.

The key to make homemade soap last longer is proper drainage. The one thing your homemade soaps should never do is sit in a pool of water. A soap dish that allows proper drainage – like this minimalist DIY wooden soap dish via How Did You  Make This? – is an easy way to help ensure your soap drains properly and dries in between uses. (Re-pin this project here for later!)

Harder soaps also last longer than softer soaps. Therefore giving your homemade soaps a longer cure time can help your soap last longer as it inevitable results in a harder bar. You can also cut your homemade soaps in half so they are able to dry more quickly and thoroughly between uses.

Have a homemade soap that just doesn’t seem to get hard enough? Cure soft soap issues by changing your homemade soap recipes from the start. Using oils that create a harder bar from the get go will ensure a harder finished bar. There are many soapmaking ingredients that help to create a hard bar including shea and cocoa butters – or any butter for that matter – babassu oil, palm oil, palm kernel oil or flakes, lard (tallow), and coconut oil. (Using the soap calculator at soapcalc can help you determine the hardness of the final bar.)

Other ingredients like salt, stearic acid and sodium lactate – at around 1 teaspoon per pound of oils – will also result in a harder soap. You can also use a water discount to start out with a harder soap coming out of the mold. I always discount my water at 33% or slightly less for soaps I know tend to be softer when unmolding them.

For more inspiring soap ideas be sure to follow the Pinterest Makers Soapmaking Group Board as well as my DIY Bath and Body Pinterest Board! You can also find a collection of my own homemade soap recipes as well as bath and beauty DIY’s at my main website, Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen.

Never want to miss a post? Then be sure to follow Soap Deli News blog via Blog Lovin’ and Tumblr as well as on Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Instagram.

Winter Mint Homemade Moisturizing Hair Mask Recipe

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

This winter mint homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe is made with natural ingredients and delivers intense moisture to hair ravaged by winter's elements. It also makes a lovely homemade hand cream!

Winter can wreak havoc on even the healthiest of hair leaving you struggling to find new shampoos and conditioners to alleviate your dry tresses. Instead of switching up shampoo and conditioners this time around I decided instead to create a winter mint homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe to help counteract the effects of winter. Made using natural ingredients this homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe delivers intense moisture to hair ravaged by winter’s elements along with the fresh scent of spearmint and peppermint.

I was inspired to formulate this homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe by one of this month’s Birchbox samples of Amika’s Nourishing Mask For The Hair. This product conditions hair with the power of sea buckthorn berry and jojoba oil and provides intense conditioning for all hair types. I adapted their ingredients in my own recipe to provide more intense moisture by using less liquid and in lieu of the water – the first ingredient in their product – I used a smaller amount of aloe vera instead. I also made cocoa butter and argan oils the primary ingredients. Per your preference however, you can either use jojoba or argan oil or a combination of both when making this for yourself. Or even substitute the cocoa butter with shea butter or even mango butter.

This winter mint homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe is made with natural ingredients and delivers intense moisture to hair ravaged by winter's elements.

Winter Mint Homemade Moisturizing Hair Mask Recipe

© Rebecca’s Soap Delicatessen

Ingredients:

.75 oz. cocoa butter
.5 oz. jojoba oil or argan oil
.5 oz. aloe vera gel
.25 oz. emulsifying wax
3 ml dimethicone
1.5 ml sea buckthorn oil
.02 oz.Optiphen Plus (paraben free preservative)
12 drops spearmint essential oil
12 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops vitamin E oil

Instructions:

Using a digital kitchen scale begin by weighing out the cocoa butter and the emulsifying wax into a 2 cup or larger glass Pyrex measuring cup. Melt at 60% power in the microwave until melted fully. (Alternately you can also use a double boiler.) Now weigh out the jojoba oil (or argan oil) and sea buckthorn oil and stir into the mixture.

Allow the mixture to cool to around 160°F then weigh out the preservative and stir into the mixture.

Using graduated transfer pipettes measure out and add the Dimethicone, vitamin E, and the essential oils. Stir to combine.

Now weigh out the aloe vera gel in a separate container and heat at reduced power in the microwave to the same temperature as the melted oils and cocoa butter. (You can also try coconut water in place of the aloe!) Add to the hair mask ingredients and mix using a stick blender until the mixture starts to thicken and become creamy.

Pour into a 2 oz. container and allow to thicken fully. The final product will be pliable and similar to the texture of play dough.

To use scoop out desired amount based on hair length and massage into hair until fully covered. (It will melt into your hair as you massage it in.) Leave on anywhere from 5 minutes to overnight then wash out as usual. For extremely damaged or “fried” hair use once or twice a week as a normal conditioner or massage a small amount into ends of hair as a leave in product.

DIY Beauty Hair Care Tips

I like to use this as a regular conditioner when needed and rinse then follow with Not Your Mothers Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, 8 oz after towel drying. I then massage in the sea salt spray into my and towel dry a second time. This adds volume while still leaving hair looking healthy and shiny and prevents the extra conditioning from weighing my fine hair down. I then air dry and then turn my head upside down and finger comb through.

To help keep your healthier on a regular basis without stripping it I also recommend using a cleansing conditioner instead of a regular shampoo. I’m currently crushing on Renpure Solutions Rosemary Mint Cleansing Conditioner. While not as lush as my favorite – Macadamia Oil Flawless Cleansing Conditioner – it is more affordable at just $6.99 a bottle. I’m also able to buy it locally at Target.

If you can’t get enough of how good this hair mask smells, I also found that this homemade moisturizing hair mask recipe also doubles as a wonderful hand cream!

For more homemade hair care recipes as well as homemade soap recipes and bath and beauty DIY’s be sure to follow my Pinterest boards. You can also find and follow me on Blog Lovin’, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram.

How to Use Neem Oil for Plants as a Natural Pesticide

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

How to Use Neem Oil as a Natural Non-Toxic Garden Pesticide

Do you need a non-toxic natural pesticide alternative for your home and garden? Learn how to use neem oil for plants as a natural non-toxic pesticide!

In addition to neem oil’s many medicinal uses – for which I’ve already created multiple recipes for soap, shampoo, salves and lip balm – you can also use neem oil for plants in your garden as a natural broad spectrum pesticide. Neem oil is extracted from the seed of the tropical neem tree and contains thee active ingredient, azadirachtin, which acts as an insecticide, fungicide, and miticide.

You can use neem oil for plants in the garden as a natural, non-toxic pesticide to help control slugs, snails, fruit flies, white flies, squash bugs, Colorado potato beetles, Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, aphids small leaf eating caterpillars and other harmful insects.

In your home it works against fleas, ticks, ants, bed bugs, dust mites and cockroaches as well as scabies mites.

Simply combine between .5% and 2% of neem oil to warm water depending on severity of infestation. (So for every 16 oz. of water by weight, you’d want to use between .08 oz. and .32 oz. neem oil.) For the garden you can also include insecticidal soap or detergent at .01% – .02% of the water amount. Use the solution within a day or two and then make up a new solution to use as needed. If you have an existing infestation drench soil and leaves and apply once a week until infestation clears. As a preventative measure, use the neem oil at .5% dilution with warm water once a month.

Also be sure to check my natural homemade skin care recipes that contain neem oil: Natural Neem Oil & Rosemary Salve Recipe, Natural Homemade Neem Oil Cold Process Soap Recipe, Homemade Neem Cream Recipe, Natural Topical Anti-Fungal Toenail Treatment, Homemade Cold Sore Therapy Lip Balm Recipe, Natural Homemade Dog Shampoo and my Lanolin & Neem Salve Recipe.

For more home and garden tips and recipes like this one, follow my DIY Lifestyle Tips board on Pinterest. Or keep up with all of my new projects and recipes by following me on Blog Lovin, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google + and Instagram!

DIY Quick Tips and Must Have Soapmaking Equipment

I may receive compensation from links on this site. See my disclosure policy.

Turn a Pyrex Measuring Cup into a Double Boiler!

There are often times when making your own homemade bath and beauty products that you come across some rather heat sensitive ingredients that you just don’t want to use a microwave for. Sure a microwave is quick and easy but sometimes it can go a little overboard. Not to mention burnt waxes don’t smell pretty. If you’re just getting started and not ready to invest in a double boiler, no worries.

My friend and fellow blogger, Cari Dunn of Everything Pretty, told me that she uses a canning ring to convert a glass Pyrex measuring cup into a double boiler in a pinch. Simply place the canning ring your pot and set the measuring cup on top, then add your water around the measuring cup and turn on the heat! Or try a Universal Double Boiler for less that will fit your existing 2 quart and 4 quart sauce pans!

Speaking of Pyrex measuring cups, these have become a staple piece in my stash of soapmaking equipment. I own two each of the one cup and two cup measuring cups and one of the four cup or quart measuring cups. Following are some of my other favorite soapmaking tools and equipment I use on a regular basis.

Must Have Soapmaking Tools and Equipment

A good scale is an absolute must. I’ve been using a Baker’s Math Kitchen Scale for years. It measure in ounces, grams, kilograms, pounds and pounds with ounces. It’s heavier duty than standard kitchen scales and postal scales, doesn’t need re-calibrating and comes with a 30-year warranty. You’ll need it weigh out ingredients for soap recipes as well as many bath and body recipes.

A hand blender or stick blender is another must have accessory. It takes the hardest physcial part of soapmaking – the mixing – out of the equation and helps you not only achieve trace faster, but also ensures a evenly mixed batch of soap. In twelve years I’ve only gone through two stick blenders. My latest, and also the cheapest, has lasted longer than the first so it doesn’t need to be brand specific.

Loaf molds. While I regularly use my trusty wooden loaf soap molds my dad made for me – these are the size I use for the cold process soap recipes I post here on my blog – silicone molds have become commonplace and can help make crafting cold process soaps simpler. As there’s no need to line these molds it helps to save on time and waste. The Crafter’s Choice™ Regular Silicone Loaf Soap Mold is a great silicone loaf mold and most all of the soap recipes I create for Wholesale Supplies Plus’ eHandmade Magazine will fit perfectly inside this mold.

Bakers & Chefs 12″ x 3000ft. Foodservice Film continues to be a staple for my finished products. It’s not only inexpensive for the quantity but it sticks much better than regular plastic wrap making it a both a smart and simple choice for wrapping melt and pour glycerin soaps and giving them a more professional look. It also works great on cold process soaps. You’ll find that the 12″ size is perfect for most standard size bars of soap.

Graduated Plastic Transfer Pipettes are great for when you’re making smaller sized recipes for things like lip balm and salves where you need to measure out fragrance, oils and flavors in smaller quantities. These can be purchased in bulk and are relatively inexpensive so there’s no reason not to use a fresh pipette for each ingredient. The measurement marks make it easy to measure out your liquid ingredients in both millimeters and portions thereof.

Small graduated glass beakers or plastic beakers are great for pouring things by hand when you need a steadier hand. I love the 50ml beakers for pouring my lip balms into tubes. Trying to use a syringe can cause the lip balm to cool too quickly while a plastic transfer pipette can melt if you try to add the liquid lip balm to the tubes too hot. With the beakers both of those issues are solved and I find even without a lip balm filling tray, my not so steady hand can fill a lip balm tube on a kitchen counter without having to secure it in any way.

Silicone Spatulas are another tool I always have handy for helping get all of my soap in the mold as well as for random bath and beauty recipes. I also have an extra sturdy metal spoon with a thick handle that won’t bend when scooping out solidified coconut or palm oils from tubs and a basic 1 cup measuring cup scooping out ingredients to be weighed like sodium hydroxide and palm kernel flakes.

I also own a trio of stainless steel pots so I always have the perfect size to fit my cold process soap recipes whether they be large or small. It also allows me to make three small batches at one time.

Interested in learning how to make your own homemade cold process soaps from scratch? Be sure to check out my soapmaking tutorial or follow my DIY Bath & Body board on Pinterest for an ever growing collection of handmade soap recipes and bath and beauty DIY’s.

Do you make homemade soaps? I’d love to hear what your favorite tools and equipment are! Share your favorites along with any tips and tricks you have that make the job easier!