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Discovering Cities: Richmond

Hey ya’ll! I can say that now because I officially live in the south. Not the pseudo south (i.e. Virginia) where all the locals want to call themselves southern, but really aren’t. Now I’m deep into southern North Carolina and I’m loving it. These warm temps just don’t quit. Sunshine and 60’s in the middle of January? I’ll take it! While Luke is in Fleet Marine Force training at Camp Johnson, I’ve been exploring all the local treasures. More on those great places to come! Right now I wanted to touch on a sweet little town I visited with my family recently that I just loved, Carytown, Richmond, Virginia. First on our agenda this trip was to get some food to fuel up. What better way to fill up than on doughnuts? Guy you have to check out Sugar Shack on N Lombardy St. They have a couple different locations, but this is the original and the one we visited that day. They have so many different amazing flavors so we got a whole dozen. Gotta try as many as possible, right? I had the cinnamon roll doughnut the size of my hand. I highly recommend it. As my sister Sadie is modeling, they are thoroughly enjoyed by all ages.¬†IMG_0609

After we quickly devoured all the doughnuts we decided to do a little shopping. There’s plenty of cute stores to buy all different types of things. By far my favorite that we came across though was Creme de la Creme. I’m huge into french country decor right now, and that is what this store is all about. They have fresh made soap and lotions, beautiful dishes, linens, and quaint games and books for kids. Plus all of their Christmas stuff was on clearance. Steal! Although they are a tad on the pricier side, I’d still recommend giving it a go. Especially if you want a neat little souvenir from Carytown to take home with you. They are located on W Cary Street if you plan to take a visit.

Finally we made it to the last leg of our trip, The American Civil War Museum. Unfortunately the museum was just about to close so only had a moment to look through the first part of the museum but it was definitely worth it. If history fascinates you, this is the place to be. I could have spent hours in there reading and browsing all the artifacts. Right outside the museum is a bridge called High Bridge. When Richmond was being invaded by Union soldiers, the Confederates in Carytown had to flee and they crossed High Bridge to do so. Although there is only remains of the original bridge, there is a replica with a timeline and testimonies from people who fled from that area during the time of the civil war. Below is an example of one of the quotes.

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I hope you guys choose to visit Carytown if you get the chance. Please leave comments below about what more you guys would like to see and feed back on what you thought of my recommendation should you choose to visit. More cities to come! Thanks guys,

The Navy Wife xoxo

How to Make Your Own Natural Soap

I was never a soap person. I’ve always loved my strongly scented sudsy body washes. I know you’re all with me! Doesn’t a body wash just feel like much more of a luxury? But do me a favor, and take five minutes to research sodium lauryl sulfate. I promise you it’ll make you question if you really want to keep using it. So many people ignore the ingredient on their bottles because, hey, it hasn’t hurt them so far right? I believe we have a duty to keep our bodies healthy though, and ignoring the problem doesn’t lead to a solution. “…If you use conventional cosmetics on a daily basis, you can absorb almost five pounds of chemicals and toxins into your body each year…”1. That’s a lot of toxins your liver has to filter!

So what was my alternative to all these chemicals? My lovely mother bought me an all natural goats milk soap bar to try, and I was hooked. A natural soap that felt just as fancy as my other washes, I had to have more. I searched frantically to buy more scents only to discover the bars were $6 each. Being the frugal navy wife that I am, I was a little disappointed to say the least. “Well, how hard can it be to make your own?” I thought. Scanning through page after page of soap making instructions, I came up with two options to make this amazing soap. I could either use lye and goat’s milk, or I could use a pre-made base. Lye is a very caustic substance that can be dangerous if it touches your skin or really most any other substances. All of it burns out of your soap in the process of making it so it’s not harmful once your soap is finished, but it was the in between time that concerned me. Not that I’m a scaredy cat, but I rent an apartment in the city, not a prime spot for using potentially hazardous chemicals. Also, goat’s milk, something that again was a problem from my city apartment. I wasn’t easily going to be able to pick up at the grocery store. So I did my research on a good base, and Bramble Berry came out on top.

Bramble Berry was the most cost efficient and had all these ingredients listed for me on the site so I knew exactly what I was getting. Something all natural, with no extra harmful additives. I just got a package from them this week with the soap base and a few other things I bought. They even sent me a free gift, a little bottle of soap scent (the pure honey scent is amazing)! A 1 pound bar of soap base costs only $3.30 plus shipping. The more you buy, the more cost effective it is. I can usually make about 8 bars of soap from 2 lbs of soap base (you may be able to make less or more depending on how big your molds are). Working out the cost of shipping plus 2 lbs of soap ($12.60) and dividing that by 8 bars of soap, each bar costs me approximately $1.57 to make. I do add essential oils into mine (to make it smell pretty) which you might say adds a few cents to the cost, but it’s a negligible amount. Not bad I’d say!

So you ready to make your own? All you need is molds, base, essential oils, and a little bit of time.

Step 1. Get a glass bowl large enough to fit your base in

Step 2. Melt your base in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring with a spatula in between. I recommend cutting your base into smaller cubes to make the melting process quicker.

Step 3. Add your favorite essential oil scents! I like peppermint/rosemary and lavendar/vanilla the most so far. I usually make 2 bars at a time and add about 10 drops of each essential oil, but keep sniffing and adjusting the amount of oils you put in until it reaches your preferred strength.

Step 4. Gently pour soap into your molds and wait for them to cool and harden. This usually takes about and hour or two.

Step 5. Revel in the thought of how crafty and frugal you are! You go girl!

Post your comments and pictures on how your soap turned out! Tell me if your find any fabulous new scent combinations! Until next time time,

The Navy Wife xoxo

1.Mercola, J. (2010, July 13). Sodium Lauryl Sulfate: Facts Versus Fairytales. Retrieved June 12, 2015, from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/13/sodium-lauryl-sulfate.aspx

Review of “How to Make Burger Buns”

Summer time for me is burgers, pool time, burgers, lying in the sun, burgers, and maybe eating some watermelon. That’s why I was so excited to try these burger buns! I have been working on trying more bread recipes to perfect my technique, and these were relatively easy to make. Alright, on to some of the pros and cons I found making these burger buns.

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The thing I love the most about these buns is the smell! They’re all yeast-y and delicious smelling. My favorite! They’re also very fluffy and soft, but hold up well when eating your grilled masterpieces. As I said before they are also, relatively easy to make. If you’ve never made homemade bread products before this might be a bit of a challenge for you. However, if you have a moderate amount of experience these will be basic for you.

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The downside of these buns I found though is that they don’t seem to turn out quite like the blogger’s picture says they will. Her’s seem to be very tall and fluffy, while mine flattened out to be wide and thin. Both times I’ve tried the recipe they have always expanded out instead of up. How did she get hers so tall? Sorcery? A fairy Godmother? It’s a mystery to me. Second, you need bread flour for this recipe. I’m generally against fussy recipes, and I don’t keep bread flour around all the time. I did try them with regular white flour. To my dismay, they turned out rather hard and crumbly. The bread flour is definitely necessary for the consistency of the roll.

The only other thing I have to add is that I did not use the egg wash on the top of the rolls so they weren’t as dark as they could have been. I didn’t want any sesame seeds on mine so the egg wash wasn’t important to me. Try them for yourself though and tell me about your results! Sincerely,

The Navy Wife xoxo

Link to try out this recipe! (www.handletheheat.com/how-to-make-burger-buns/)