Back in the days before cell phones, dvd’s, ipads and video games I was a normal kid growing up with 3 brothers. We climbed over the water pipes and hunted for blue belly lizards and horned toads in the open area of Southern California. This was what I did pretty much every day. We carried them around in our pockets. Sometimes we’d forget and they’d turn up later. Like in the laundry. Maybe that’s why Mom signed me up for Girl Scouts.
Technically, I was a Brownie. Being a Brownie was a big deal then. You wore your whole uniform to school once a week. It was a brown dress, orange beanie and tie with those really stylish knee-high socks. After school we walked to the leader’s home for the “meeting”. The “meeting” was a lecture, followed by coloring with crayons, eating some windmill cookies(did anyone actually like them?) and Kool-aid. I never earned any badges, never learned any cool secret handshake. They must have done that in year two, something I also never did. Girl Scouts was the ultimate snooze.
Naturally when my own daughter was old enough, she would take my advise and avoid the whole thing. Wrong. Nothing could deter my tomboy from joining the other girls in this right of passage. Eventually I not only agreed to this, I volunteered to be their “leader”. Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a Kool-aid drinking convert. I just wanted it to be more than crayons and cookies. I used the Scout platform as a way of giving them broader experiences. I encouraged them to face adversity, fears and challenges. They learned to ski, ride, canoe, and we camped too many times to count. They learned to be resourceful. On one of our trips they learned to roast a whole chicken on a stick in the ground. On another they learned that a wine bottle makes a good rolling pin. But I digress… the hard part was giving them a sense of accomplishment before they were old enough to do all the challenging stuff. One of the things Avery really liked was the time they “made soap” for Mother’s Day gifts.
This was one of the cheats; a way of re-crafting already made soaps into something special for Mother’s Day. It was done over 3 different meetings. First, we made blender paper (like this: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/crafts/crafts-basics/makingpaper.html) and tore it into rustic looking strips. The next meeting we went out foraging for flowers, which we dried. Then, we “made” the soap. We gathered hotel soaps as well as some basic oatmeal type soaps. We gave them a few good pulses in the food processor, adding rosemary and the dried flowers for the last pulse or two.
Then we dumped the soap mixture into a large bowl. Adding just a small amount of water, a tablespoon at a time, created a lumpy clay like mix. This was pressed firmly into muffin trays lined with plastic wrap.
After a few hours it was dry enough to pop out. We dried it overnight, then slipped a strip of homemade paper around it, tied it with jute and a sprig of rosemary.
It’s been about ten years since the first time we made these. This time Avery wanted to play with hers like clay. She got right in there and squeezed and molded that stuff for ages. I kind of like that about her. Then she made this soap creature. I’m not sure what kind of creature this is, but I have a feeling I’m going to find out on Sunday!