Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Each year for Christmas I gather my little children together for an afternoon of torture to get the perfect image to give to all of the Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and such as part of their Christmas presents.

This years picture, they are exceptionally proud of.




So if I am not back before the holiday is over ~

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays!

And may you all have a peaceful and joyous season!






Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crockpot Breakfast... ICK!

I love cooking with my crock pot.  I only mention this... all the time.

Crockpot Applesauce, Crockpot Applebutter, Crockpot Lasagna, Crockpot Chicken, Crockpot Steak...

But let me take this time to tell you... Crockpot Breakfast... EPIC FAIL!

One of my favorite breakfast ideas is a sausage and potato breakfast casserole that I make.  I'm not sure if there is a recipe for this anywhere but it's those cheesy potatoes that everyone brings to a pot luck with sausage in them - sort of my creation but maybe not - someone else may have thought of this also.  But whatever.

This weekend while I was in the midst of a crockpot explosion with three crockpots on my counter going, I had an idea.  I would make the breakfast casserole and put it in the crockpot to cook for the night rather than getting up making it on Sunday morning. 

Brilliant. 

Genius. 

Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?

Because it was a REALLY BAD IDEA!  That's why!

The next morning when I ran into the kitchen to open the crockpot for a wonderful breakfast... I was disgusted to find a bunt, icky mess that made me gag to even think of taking a bite.  I never even tried it, just simply dumped it in the trash and tried to avoid smelling it.  It was so gross.

I should have known that breakfast casserole in a crockpot was probably not as smart as I thought it was.  I have made crockpot oatmeal and other random breakfast dishes over the years that have always been... disgusting.  Why should this be any different?

Of course this too would be far too over cooked!

So... lesson learned.  Not everything that is super awesome in the oven will be super awesome in the crockpot. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Snowman Shirt



Do you ever read Megan at Brassy Apple? 

I love her!  She has the most fantastic ideas for re-purposing clothing, sewing patterns or just randomly awesome ideas.  And lets not forget... her style! 

A couple of weeks ago she posted her snowman shirt.

I fell in love.  I needed to make one for my youngest.  I showed him and he was so excited to help make it.  So we bought a long sleeve white tee, found some fabric and buttons and got to work.

This is such a super easy and quick project!
Cut your fabric into the shape of the nose and adhere it to the shirt with fusible web.  I then zig-zag stitched around the nose for a cleaner look and added the buttons for the eyes and mouth. 

So quick!  So easy!

We did the shirt last night in about an hour.  I had never used the fusible web before so I had to read the instructions 50 times to make sure I was doing it properly... and besides wrecking a bath towel because I was too lazy to pull out the ironing board... super easy!

The buttons were a little tricky.  They kind of floated off a little further than I would have liked.  My middle son would like one too so I think I may try taping the buttons in place and then sewing them on his so that they don't seem to get away from me again.

My youngest was so excited to wear his new snowman shirt to school today and was so proud to tell everyone that he helped make it!

For Megan's full tutorial click here.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fabulous Find!

What did I find out on my venture today????

Six Brand NEW Flexsteel dining room chairs.


Price... $300 for the set of 6!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My First Day Off!

Tomorrow is my first day off in months! 

I mean I've had days off but normally my days off are; favors for other people, photo shoots, babysitting, helping with random things I'm asked, house cleaning, laundry doing, kid running, husband packing, lawyer appointment, estate settling, never doing what I want days off.

Tomorrow I am spending the day going places I want and doing things I enjoy and I just might let my husband come along for the company.  If he can be good.  Well... I guess he's coming since the day ends with a doctors appointment and I will need him for a ride home because I might not feel particularly great.  But he better be up to be a girlfriend for the first half of the day and a husband for the second!

But!  Other than the visit to the doctor, it will be a day of thrift and craft stores for me!  I can't wait.  It has been months since this girl who shopped thrift stores back when they were tabu has walked into a Goodwill.  I have shopped Goodwill for over 20 years.  My dad found this particularly entertaining when I was in high school and was voted 'Best Dressed' and often teased he would let the secret out, that I was sneaking off to Goodwill for clothes while everyone else was going to the mall.

So, tomorrow is MY day!

Wish me luck on finding lots of treasures!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Decorating ADD

I can't seem to find my style in this house.  I'm not sure what happened but somehow... I've lost it.

In the past month I have painted my hallway upstairs twice and have completely hated it both times. 

I started to work on my oldest son's bedroom but can't seem to find bedding and have reached a standstill. 

My kitchen is half completed.

My dining room sits empty.

I am just in a funk.

I keep moving from one room to another never really completing anything.  I have decorating ADD.  It's horrible and it's suffocating.

I need to complete something.

So... welcome to my living room.  My latest turn on this decorating roller coaster.



When we moved in I painted the living room the same color as the living room in our prior home thinking that it worked well with everything we had and looked amazing in our old house.  I was often complimented on how cute and homey that room was.  Ahhhh... my old house with it's pretty flat walls and crown molding.



The color is okay here.  But even with all of these windows in this room it just always seems dark.  Not helped at all by not having any overhead lighting that can be turned on at night.



This is my free Craigslist piano by the way.  It's pretty cool and fits perfectly into this goofy little nook.  It has also, as you can tell, become the place to put things that I don't know what to do with.

So, this room just isn't doing it for me... at all.

But this one is...


And so is this one...



Pottery Barn... my love...

My goal is to turn my 'frumpy caught in limbo of my previous house' living room into something beautiful. 

I need to let go of the house I had and work with what I HAVE and hopefully this will help bring on some good changes in this house. 

My inability to let go of what I had and embrace what we now have has made the most menial of tasks a challenge.  Something as small as replacing the throw pillows in the living room after the dog destroyed all but one, has left me indecisive and stuck... with one throw pillow it so seems.

So moving forward, I will embrace what I have.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Free Printables

After looking further into the Accountable Kids program and some other behavior and chore systems that are out there I decided that I am far too picky to hang three little pine peg racks with ugly little cards on my walls.  I just will never be able to bring myself to do such a thing.  Even if I hung it in the ugly bathroom, I would still have to see it and I would ultimately hate it and take it down.  Making the whole plan worthless.

So I have decided that I am going to create my own system for our house. 

Okay, first let me say that my kids heads do not spin around, they do not spew green vomit or float to the ceiling while attacking anyone who dares to enter their room.  They are good kids.  They are actually GREAT kids.  Right now we are all just going through a bit of a tough transition since my father's death a couple of months ago and I think it's bringing some trouble out.  Hopefully this system will start to get the little bit of anger and aggression that we are seeing under control.  Unfortunately, this aggression and inability to listen is not taking place at home but rather at school where it is out of my control. 

The system that I will be using for my kids is for behavior, routine and chores.  Each item completed will be assigned points and x amount of points will translate to tickets.  Tickets can then be turned in for privileges or prizes.  Privileges and prizes are assigned ticket values.  Easy.  Lots of work to put together.  But easy.

My kids are pretty excited about the idea of this program.  This week we are practicing while we wait for mom to finish getting things together.  Hopefully it only takes a week to compile everything I need.  They went to their rooms last night and turned in all of their video games and controllers and did so willingly!  Apparently the grand prize of a weekend at a water park is a great motivation. (We are actually planning this but they don't need to know that.)

I thought I would share my program as I put it together.  I made the tickets that the kids will use to turn in for video game time, movie rentals, sleepovers with friends, water park weekend (they are allowed to pool tickets for big items such as this) and whatever else I think of.  I was surprised when I was looking for tickets to steal  borrow for my kids that this was hard to find something I could just print out and go. 

Enter my tickets...


My tickets are standard business card size.  I have sent my tickets into my printers to be printed on actual business cards so that they will last longer.  Plus, 300 business cards costs about $30 compared to the price of the ink in the printer... no brainer for me.

I am attaching the tickets in two ways, the single ticket form that you can copy and download to Vista Printing or another online printer if you choose or a full sheet of tickets that can be printed and cut out individually.



Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What to do...

Each day I think more and more about giving up my job to become a stay at home mom.  Giving up is probably not a proper term.  It's not like I have a complete passion for my job by any means.  Quit!  That's better.

Each day I try and decide if what I am doing is best for my kids.  Is it best for them that we race through the morning and scramble out the door in a mad dash as I am trying to get 4 people ready for their day in less than an hour.  Is it best for them that when I get home at 5:30 I am in another scramble to make dinner, clean up the house, homework, baths, dishes, laundry and whatever else might be done before finally getting them to bed, late, every night.

I am torn.  I don't know what is best for us to do.  I have worked since I was 14.  Legally since 14 anyway.  I grew up in the family business, there was a nursery in the office and our parents would tote us along to work.  As we got bigger we were sent to baby sitters but still, in the summer a few days a week we would be brought out to work to price groceries (way back in the days before scanners).  So my job is a big security blanket for me.  The idea of not working when you have done it for almost 20 years is just scary and even thinking about it causes me anxiety.

But now, more than ever, I think I need to make some decisions.  My middle son is a  struggle.  A constant struggle.  He is a wonderful, affectionate, loving little boy, who also happens to be bull headed, strong willed and can bring me to my breaking point daily.  I think I need to make some serious changes for his sake.  I really do not know what to do. 

So for the past few weeks I have been researching different behavior systems to try before I go to the extreme of walking away from my paycheck.  We have done chore charts in the past but both the kids and I quickly loose interest making it a complete waste.  I think what will work best for us is a pre-planned system that all we need to do is 'insert family here' and go.

In looking for different products that I could achieve this with I found the Accountable Kids program.  I had heard of this program before from a friend who was using it with fairly good success with her children.  (She also has a difficult #2 child.)  With this system the kids are awarded points for good behavior, chores, homework, cooperation and penalized by loosing points with bad behavior, not completing chores or homework.  At the end of the week you tally up the points and award tickets to the kids based upon points earned.  They then can turn their tickets in for special privileges such as playing video games, going out to eat, having a friend over, whatever is determined to be special privileges in your house.  And the best part is, everything is planned out for you. 

My husband doesn't know if he loves the idea of this program.  So I will continue to look for some more.  If anyone has any suggestions of good behavior/chore programs I'd love to hear from you. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Photography

This weekend I did this little dolls pictures.



We saw a snake.

I screamed.

He laughed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Martha...

I want to be Martha Stewart. 

Even prison Martha Stewart seemed to have it all together arranging knitting circles and craft times while keeping up with her daily Prison chores.  Making herself productive and doing the best with a bad situation.  I'm sure Martha had the best decorated and cleanest cell in the prison.

Let's be clear here...
I don't want to be Prison Martha.  I'd prefer to be Free Martha.  But either way, I want to be Martha.

I want to have it all together. 

I want to have a sparkling clean house that is so organized when someone asks where their shoes are we don't spend 20 minutes looking under furniture in every room.  Because if I was Martha I'd know where the shoes are.  They are in their proper location, you know that space we took the time to organize and designate for shoes?  And my family, so dutiful and always cooperative, of course put their shoes right in that perfect little space, so they wouldn't have even ever asked .  They would have known where to look because Martha's family would always listen.

I want to come home from work at night and glide into my kitchen to open my fridge and know exactly what will be for dinner.  Because if I was Martha I'd have a meal plan of course!  I'd be a whiz in the kitchen who doesn't make a mess, and that several course meal would be whipped up in a breeze.  My family would sit down for dinner together and no one would complain.  The food would be fantastic and the table manners would be perfect.

After dinner, clean up would be a breeze.  Because if I was Martha my family would get up from the table and take their dishes to the sink.  I wouldn't need to tell my boys to go do their homework, no, this would have been completed hours ago and neatly tucked back into their bags ready for the following day.  There would be no fights, there would be no arguing, there would simply be peace because Martha would not have anything less.  

I would quickly make up batches of homemade cookies for that PTO bake sale the next day, no store bought for Martha.  They would be light and fluffy, not burnt and crunchy and all of the mom's would want my recipe.  I'd be the envy of the mom's with my fantastic baking and great ideas.

I would sit and knit or make a quilt with all of my spare time.  Because if I was Martha my beautiful, pristine, organized home would run so efficiently I would have plenty of spare time to do the things I love.  Not only would I do what I enjoy, every project would turn out perfectly or better than planned. 

The weekends would come with dinner parties and lots of friends.  People would flock to our home and be honored to be invited.  They would marvel at the beauty of my well decorated home, ask for tips to be so productive and tell me I am so creative; secretly wishing that they were me.  Because if I were Martha I'd have it all under control.

I am not Martha.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shopping!

Shopping for boy's bedding is difficult.  Actually, shopping for anything for a boy is a bit on the difficult side.  If you have girls you have unlimited options for clothes, toys and anything you could think of to decorate a bedroom from a baby to a teen.  Boys on the other hand, that is much more difficult.  The options are so limited.

While I hold the final decorating say-so of my oldest son's bedroom, I don't want it to look like a 20 year old's room.  I've know people who do this and it makes me batty.  He's 8.  His room should be a creative space that encourages his imagination and he feels comfortable.  It should not be void of him and his personality.  This really shouldn't be that difficult.  Oh, but it is.

He's at that kind of awkward stage being 8.  He's not yet a big boy but certainly isn't going to want his room covered in things he perceives as baby things (even if he still likes them himself). 

I have looked all over for new bedding for his room and I think we may finally have some options we can both agree upon.

The first has the orange he would like to keep because of the school colors.  I think we could do something a little fun and funky with this.  I think we can come up with a nice combination of vintage and modern that we will both like.
The second option I can see a million ideas for in my head already, khaki walls, vintage pennants, maybe a couple of vintage footballs for fun.  I am also a little partial to the Tommy Hilfiger bedding.  Not because of the brand name but because of the durability of the bedding and boys are destructive.

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Boys Bedroom Decorating


I hate this room.  I actually hate how all 4 bedrooms in my house look.  They are all terrible.  But this room drives me crazy.  I hate the uneven stripes and the misshapen Indian head.  (I figured the room is so ugly making the bed wasn't really going to improve the pictures.)

My oldest son's bedroom was adorable at the old house with the perfect shade of blue, skateboards hanging on the walls and a giant skateboard mural on one of the walls.

Since we have lived here for 6 months now and we finally have our legal deed filed (crazy long story) it is about time that I get to work on the bedrooms.  Our plan is that the bedrooms will be taken down to the studs and fresh new drywall hung but that may be a while off because of the long list of other more pressing issues that need to be addressed.

In the interim...





I don't think we are going to continue on the skateboard theme this time.  I'm looking for more of a Pottery Barn look for his room.  (My son doesn't get too much of a vote here - he is actually fond of the Indian and stripes since this is the school mascot.)

I am in a search for new bedding as a starting point and hope to be able to select paint colors and start working this weekend.



Hot Beef Sandwiches

One of my favorite things to make in the crock pot for dinner is Hot Beef Sandwiches.  They are quick to put together and make for an easy dinner.  I'm all about ease.  Who doesn't love little to no prep work and even better... no clean up!

There are two recipes that I use for this and they couldn't be more simple.  I don't have a preferred type of roast for either recipe.  I actually just grab what is on sale and looks to be the leanest cut.

Recipe #1

1 2 - 3 lb Roast
1 can of beer
1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Place roast in the crock pot, cover with packet of soup mix and can of beer.  Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat falls apart for sandwiches.

Recipe #2

1 2 -3 lb Roast
1 16 oz. jar of Pepperchinies

Place roast in the crock pot and cover with pepperchinies.  Cook on low for 8 hours or until meat falls apart for sandwiches.

Both are great on hamburger or hoagie buns (preferably toasted) and topped with your favorite slices of cheese.  We use American cheese with Recipe #1 and Provolone with Recipe #2.

Getting pictures of food is not my strong suit.  Everyone in my house hits the door starving and grabs the plates out of my hands quicker than I can dish things up.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Crock Pot Cooking

I am a crock pot junkie.  A complete crock pot junkie.  As in, had 5 crock pots until my husband bought me a new big fancy one under the agreement that I would dispose of at least 3.  I still have 4.  I can't help it.  I'm addicted and  have been for my whole adult life.  I have a 7 quart, a 6 quart, a 4 quart and a 2 quart.  Life is just so much easier if I do not have to cook when I get home and crock pot cooking is so easy.

Even with all of these crock pots I still have two I must have.

This one from Cuisinart looks FABULOUS!  This may seem like nonsense but from the time I leave my house in the morning until I get home it is usually at least 10 hours.  So the additional settings, timers and features are like gold to me.  Only one of my crock pots currently has these features.

The second one I NEED is this...
To be able to have meat cooking in one, potatoes in another and a vegetable in the third.  All in one!  Divine.

At any rate, before I got off track on my crock pot obsession, there was a point here.  I thought I would begin to share a few of my crock pot recipes.  Since this is the main form of cooking in my house I have lots and have tried just about everything from lasagna to whole meals all cooked in one crock pot.  It's amazing what you can do in one of these little things!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fried Ravioli

My husband is gone this week for work.  Since he is gone that means easy dinners for the kids and I.

One of these quick and easy meals is Fried Ravioli.  It's really not meant to be a meal but my kids love it so it works for dinner when it's just us. 

This couldn't be more simple.

Frozen Cheese Ravioli
Italian Bread Crumbs
1 Egg
1/4 cup of Milk



Heat about 3 cups of oil for cooking
Defrost Ravioli
Beat egg and milk together
Dip Ravioli in the milk and egg mixture and roll in bread crumbs
Cook the Ravioli in the oil



When the Ravioli is finished sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve with spaghetti or marinara sauce.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sugar Scrubs

Rainy Sunday afternoons usually mean that my two oldest boys spend their day in their room playing games together, my husband lays on the couch watching whatever game may be on TV and my youngest and I spend the day searching for something fun to do. 

Today we decided that we would make a Sugar Scrub.  I've seen random recipes around and all are easy enough.

2 1/2 cups of sugar
1 cup of olive oil
4 tablespoons of lemon juice

So we made up a batch and quickly ran up to the bath tub to give it a try on our feet.  The two of us rolled up our jeans and sat on the edge of the tub and began scrubbing.

Now, while the scrub does a good job exfoliating and the oil does leave your skin very soft, it smells terribly of olive oil and leaves an oil slick in your bath tub that can only be cleaned up with Dawn.  So I am not really in love with this recipe, even though it looks so cute in the jar.

My conclusion, olive oil is not a good oil for sugar scrubs.  It is too strong of a smelling oil and perhaps a little too heavy that it leaves a thick residue.

I did however have some sweet almond oil from some homemade lip balm experiments a few months ago so we decided to try our luck with another recipe.

1 cup of white sugar
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of sweet almond oil
vanilla
ground cloves
ground cinnamon
ground allspice

The second recipe was a little better.  It was a concoction of what we found in the kitchen that we thought would smell good together.  The almond oil is not as strong as the olive oil.  We used about a half tablespoon each of the cloves, allspice, cinnamon and a few drops of vanilla.

Our final try was not a sugar scrub.  We used epsom salt rather than sugar because the essential oils I had were eucalyptus and it just didn't sound like it belonged with sugar.  And essential oils rather than spices from the kitchen because I could still smell the almond oil although it is no where near as strong as the olive oil.

1 cup epsom salt
1/2 cup of sweet almond oil
a few drops of essential oils

All three recipes do a great job of exfoliating and leave your skin very soft and are easy to make.  But if you are looking for a spa like treatment with a pretty scent, do not use olive oil as many recipes suggest.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kitchen Progress

Over the past several weeks the kitchen has made some great progress.  It still has a long way to go but it is looking much better.  Almost like a real kitchen.

I decided I would try and salvage the cabinets before replacing them because they were structurally perfect.  I stripped away the yellow and blue paint and gave them a fresh coat of my favorite white paint.  New hardware has been added and it looks fantastic.  I love the look of the white cabinets with the dark hardware but I worry about white cabinets in a house with three boys.  I am constantly cleaning up spills or dirty fingerprints.


The new stainless steel appliances are fan-freaking-tastic.  LOVE!  Minus the fingerprints and constant cleaning and polishing.


And the new floor!  It couldn't be more perfect, the color and how it contrasts with the cabinets and appliances.  So pretty.



The new counters are also wonderful.  No more 1970's blue and gray speckled counter tops.

With any luck, this room may be completed by Christmas.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Our House

I thought I would share a few pictures of the inside of our house from the day we closed.  Again, keep in mind, this is what I enjoy to do so yes, I actually did pick this house.  My husband was talked into this by my explaining that we would be doubling our square footage, would have closets for everyone, an acre of yard and the big sell... he would no longer hit his head on fixtures or ceiling fans.  He's around 6'4 so our 8' ceilings in our old house were miserable for him.  Not to mention - this house was a STEAL!

This is our living room on the day we closed.

You can see some of the great features that drew me to this house.  The downstairs has all of the original woodwork still in place and it is beautiful, or will be someday.



The original front door from over a hundred years ago is still there.


Tons of windows and tons of natural light.  That also comes with tons of windows that need restoring but that's okay.  Or at least that's what I tell my husband.


The living room opens up to the dining room.  That filthy carpet was thrown away before we ever moved in.  But that woodwork is amazing.


This is the other side of the dining room.  It has a huge picture window.  It is ridiculously large.  I believe it is 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide.  I don't remember for sure... I just know it took me a million yards of fabric to make the curtains to cover it.  Notice the bushes outside the window.  The house was so neglected that the bushes were overgrown up to the second story.  The pile of junk is the tile and fixtures that I came armed with on day one.


I came with tile and fixtures because of this...



Not only the world's ugliest bathroom... but most disgusting on top of it!



Hard to believe that this is what I asked for isn't it?

Don't worry, the bathroom isn't there anymore.  I had it walls and all in a dump trailer by the end of the first weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Goat's Milk Soap

I love Goat's Milk Soap.  It's rich, creamy and doesn't dry your skin like other soaps can.  For the past couple of years I have been making our own soap.  Well, sort of making.  Kind of cheating. 

After reading up on how to make my own soaps I quickly decided full blown homemade was probably not a viable option since this idea had actually started as a project to do with my boys.  Therefor completely homemade recipes with lye would not work.  It sounded like an accident waiting to happen. 

So I did further digging and found a company where you can purchase the soap bases.  Majestic Mountain Sage has a great variety of all soap bases reasonably priced.  http://www.thesage.com/ if you'd like to take a look.  They also offer fragrance oils and many other bath and soap making products not to mention... recipes.  

Fragrance oils I prefer to get from From Nature With Love.  I have never gone wrong with one of their fragrance oils.  Perfect every time.  If you've ever ordered oils of any kind online you know this can be 'hit or miss'.  http://www.fromnaturewithlove.com/ is their site.  Also fabulous and full of recipes.  Their oils are a little pricey but well worth the extra money to get it right the first time.

The soap making process with a premade base is very simple.

First chop your base into cube that are 2" or so each.

Then place your cut soap over a double boiler and begin the melting process.

I don't have a double boiler so configure my own with a ceramic bowl over boiling water.  The soap needs to be melted over indirect heat so this is a must.  The soap base will need to melt down fully to the consistency of milk.

If you would like to add color to your soap you can purchase additives to make colors.  (You MUST use colors made for soap making or your soap will color your skin - colors can be purchased at both sites I listed above.)  I prefer my soaps mostly white with just swirls of color.  To do this separate out a small amount of soap to add the color to and set it aside.  An old crockpot works great to keep the colored soap melted while waiting for the rest of the soaps to melt down.  I happened to have left over colored soap from previously so I just melted down my colors and saved what was left for next time.
Once the soap is melted you will need to move it to a mold.  This is my homemade mold because molds can be a little pricey.

Because the mold is homemade it must be lined... or it will spill out the bottom and all over the floor.  I know this for a reason.  I line my mold with a trash bag.  It does the trick.

Once the mold is properly lined gently pour the soap into the mold.  Slowly pouring the soap will avoid sudsing and a foam forming on the top of the soap. 

It is at this point you can add your fragrance oils.  I suggest adding oils during this step for two reasons, one is that you do not want to add your oils while the soap is at it's hottest point because the oils will cook off, second is that if you have cooked down too much soap base you can set it aside and let it cool down to keep for future scents.  How much oil is used is a personal preference.  I prefer my soaps to be heavily fragranced so I use approximately 1/2 oz for a full mold.
To get the marbled effect to your soap wait until the soap has cooled to the point of a stiff film or layer on the top, puncture the film the length of the soap and pour in the colored base.  Then gently swirl the colored base into the white.  A few gentle swirls is all you will need.  Too much swirling will cause too much mixing and then you will just have colored soap. 

After several hours of cooling you can remove your soap from the mold.  I cut my soaps with a butcher knife in no particular sizes.  They are only being used by my family so the soap cutters are not necessary for us.

When you are all done you have a beautiful batch of rich Goat's Milk Soap!

Just a quick side note... clean up of all dishes used making soaps is best done by first washing by hand.  If you choose to just quickly throw everything into the dishwasher keep a bottle of vinegar handy along with a full load of bath towels as the soap will suds like crazy causing a giant foam ball to roll out of your dishwasher making you feel like you are in an episode of The Brady Bunch.  Quickly before your husband notices douse the dishwasher in vinegar to neutralize the soap and sop up soap suds and water from the kitchen floor with bath towels.  My extreme hatred of washing dishes by hand has perhaps caused this to happen on a few occasions. 

Linking up to:
Just a Girl
Stuff and Nonsense
Under The Table and Dreaming