Homemade Dip Mixes

Hello Friends,

Herbs and Spices for Dip Mixes

   For this year's homemade goodie treats I am doing dip mixes. Over the years I have done smoked/seasoned/herbal salts, homemade vanilla, cheese balls, party mix, cookies, candies, herbal gifts, homemade hot cocoa mixes etc.  I try to do something new each holiday gifting season. You can find recipes and instructions on my other blog posts.  Recipes

 These are quite easy to do with lots of variety to choose.  If you want it even simpler, you can purchase dip or herb mixes in bulk and just package them up.  Fun project to do with the little ones and they would made wonderful teacher or grandparent gifts, too.

Cute holiday packaging - Christmas ornaments filled with dip mixes.

Herb de Provence
with my own garden herbs

    I use a lot of my own grown garden herbs when possible and purchased other ingredients at the Amish bulk food store. If you don't have a local source for bulk foods, you can find many options to purchase ingredients shopping via the internet. I have included a few recipes and you find many more on line so you can be sure to find something to your favorite flavor profile.

    I purchased things like buttermilk powder, granulated bullion, dehydrated onions, garlic, vegetables, powdered cheeses, sea salt and many spices.  You can also purchase dried herbs at great prices if you don't have your own herb garden.  I used my own grown and dried thyme, rosemary, lavender, dill, sage, oregano, parsley and marjoram.  Dehydrated fruit powders like blueberry, raspberry, strawberry make a nice base for sweeter dips for fruits and cookies 
 just mix with a little sugar and you are ready to go.

    I packed some in clear cello bags with tags and did a few in cute Christmas ornaments. You can find the fillable ornaments and bulb shapes at the craft stores.  If you don't find ones with regular screw top lids, you can use plastic ornaments, just be sure to cover the hole with a piece of foil before replacing the cap.

    You can package it in individual size packets, cute jars, bulk cello bags, decorative ornaments or glassine bags.  Be sure to label everything with directions for use. You can make the gift more upscale by including gourmet or homemade bread sticks, crackers, dip bowls, decorative containers, quality olive oil or a keepsake basket or serving platter. 

Here are some recipes:

Bacon Onion Dip Mix

1 cup Bacon Bits( imitation if you are not able to refrigerate it, or real if you can)

1 cup Minced Dry Onion Flakes

 ½ cup  Beef Bouillon Granules

3 tsp  Onion Powder

1 ½ tsp Parsley Flakes

 1 tsp Ground Celery Seeds

1 tsp  Black Pepper

 1 tsp  Paprika

 1 tsp Salt

Fiesta Dip

1/2 cup dried parsley flakes

1/3 cup dried minced onion

1/3 cup chili powder

1/4 cup ground cumin

2 tablespoons dried minced chives

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


2 Tbl Garlic Powder

1/4 Cup Onion Powder

1/2 Cup Dried Oregano

1 Tbl Freshly Ground Black Pepper

1 Tbl Dried Thyme

1 Tbl Dried Basil

1 Tbl Dried Parsley

1 Tbl Sugar

1 Tbl Sea Salt

1/2 tsp Celery Seed


1 cup powder buttermilk

1/4 cup dried parsley

3 tbsp dried dill

2 tbsp dried chives

1/4 cup garlic powder

1/4 cup onion powder

1/4 cup dried onion flakes

2 tbsp salt

2 tbsp ground black pepper

(Options - add bacon bits for Bacon Ranch, Parmesan for Parmesan Ranch)

Individual sized packets of 3 tbl each make it easy to use.
Each packet makes 2 to 3 cups of dip adjusted to your tastes


4 Tbsp Minced Dry Onion Flakes

2 Tbsp Beef Bouillon Granules

½ tsp Onion Powder

¼ tsp Parsley Flakes

1/8 tsp Ground Celery Seeds

1/8 tsp Black Pepper

1/8 tsp Sweet Paprika

1/8 tsp Salt 

Herb Dill

1 Cup Dry Parsley

1 Cup Dry Dill

1/2 Cup Dehydrated Onion

1/4 Cup Dehydrated Garlic

2 Tbl Smoked Paprika

1 Tbl Sea Salt

2 Tsp Black Pepper

My labels

Herb de Provence

1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers

3 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried savory

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 teaspoons dried rosemary

2 teaspoons dried marjoram

Process to fine grind with mortar and pestle.

    These make wonderful hostess gifts, stocking stuffers and thank you presents for when you need a little something for the special people in your life. Consumable gifts are always appreciated and homemade gifts from the work of your hands makes it heartfelt.  Make some up and have fun!

Thanks for visiting,


Soapsmith's Party Mix

Soapsmith's Cocoa Mix

Cheese Balls

Soapsmith's Homemade Vanilla Extract

Cookie Delivery Day

Harvest & Replanting Aloe Vera

 Hello friends,

Today I harvested some aloe vera and replanted the overgrown container.  My aloe vera plant is over 45 years old. My Mother-in-law gave me a pup in the 1970's. It has been divided many times.  I move it indoors for the Winter and keep it outside Spring through frost.  Frost is coming very soon, time to start prepping the gardens for Winter.

Here was the plant this Spring, I should have taken a photo before I removed it from the pot, it has grown significantly throughout the ideal Summer months. It was huge, almost 6 feet across.  I could barely lift it.

The plant was root bound, I had to hack away at the roots to get it out of the pot but these plants are tough and can handle rough treatment.  I wanted to harvest some leaves for my products and to remove any that were partially cut, used or generally scarred. 

 Healthy root system, time to repot.
Peel off the leaf rather than cut it. Once you do it you will see how easy this comes off and leaves a nice clean stem. When you repot, set the plant so all of that exposed stem is covered with soil and it will develop roots from the newly harvested areas creating a strong healthy plant. This method is the best practice rather than cutting.

I save any of the off shoot pups to replant, there were about a dozen of them. 


When you harvest the leaves the best practice is to gently twist and peel the entire leaf from the stem.  It circles the stem but comes off cleanly.  I took off about 8 pounds of leaves. Note the bottom of the leaves, they aren't cut but removed by simply peeling from the mother plant.  This left about a dozen smaller healthy leaves and a 6 inch newly exposed stem with the root system attached at the bottom.  The newly exposed area will develop new roots resulting in a very strong and healthy plant with many more years of life.

The newly repotted plant - 10 pounds lighter with room to grow!

I use the aloe in my soap, bath and body products so I prepare the harvested leaves ready for use.  I use various methods. After washing the leaves, I peel and extract the pure gel by simply pressing.  The larger leaves have enough pulp to scoop with a spoon and cube. The cubes are the same as the extracted gel/pulp but they are so pretty, like clear crystals, I just enjoy seeing them that way.

Truly beautiful crop, sliced and ready for processing.

Peeling, scooping and extracting the gorgeous gel - such a pretty bowl full.

                      The large leaves yield chunky cubes of the pure pulp.

I also process some of the leaves with the green peel.  The food processor works well for this, then they are poured into ice cube trays for a quick freeze for long term storage.

Aloe vera, a wonderful plant that is really easy to grow 
with wonderful properties for skin care.

Thanks for visiting,


Sun Pickles

Hello Friends,

The vegetable garden is in full production mode. Look at what I harvested this morning!

Today I would like to share with you a simple recipe for delicious, crispy, dill pickles made with solar power. This is a great fun project to do with the children.

The containers are filled with an abundance of pickling cukes and fragrant dill from my herb garden. The pungent aroma of the dill fills the air in the afternoon sun.

Soapsmith's Sun Pickles

Makes  about 1/2 gallon. You can use pints, quarts, larger jars etc.
Wash jars well with hot soapy water, rinse with hot water and allow to air dry until ready to use.

 For crispy pickles you need to start with firm, crisp cucumbers.  Best to make them the day you harvest the cukes.  If you are purchasing them ask if when they were picked.  Pickling or kirby cukes are best.  If you use the traditional cucumbers from the grocery store it is more likely you will not be able to get a good crisp/crunch. If you can bend the cuke it will not be crispy when finished.  They will be tasty, just not crispy.  Also, if you decide to process them for longer storage over winter the pickles will be softer because they are cooked during the processing.  You can use Pickle Crisp or Alum in processed pickles to help with crispiness but that won't make a difference in sun/refrigerator pickles.

It is important to use pickling salt. You can use other salts and it will still be good but the brine will not be clear - cloudy but still safe and flavorful.

Dissolve together:

1/4 cup pickling salt

2 1/2 cups white vinegar (or any vinegar combination of your choice)

2 1/2 cups very hot to boiling water

Enough pickling cukes to fill the jars - sliced, whole or spears, your choice.

Add to each jar:

1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

heads of fresh dill weed or dried dill seeds (one to four for each jar depending on the size of the jars)

cloves of garlic   (one to four for each jar depending on the size of the jars)

You can add any other spices you like, pickling spice, dry mustard, black pepper, celery seed, chives etc.

Wash cucumbers, rinse dill heads, peel garlic cloves,
slightly smash garlic to release flavor.

Add heads of fresh dill & fresh garlic to taste.

Pour the warm brine to cover and put on lid or covering.

Set the jar in the sun for a day or up to 3 days - I usually just do one day if it is in the hot summer sun. Bring in, keep refrigerated.  It takes at least a week in the fridge for the best flavor, the longer they sit the more the flavors blend and infuse the cukes but you can eat them at any time in the process.

Optional spices as desired:2 tsp. cayenne pepper, pickling spice, black peppercorns, mustard seed, celery salt etc.This works great for cauliflower as well, you can add fresh hot peppers for some extra kick.

Gather your ingredients and utensils.

Wash the jars and lids with hot soapy water, rinse with hot water and allow to drain while you prepare the recipe. It is not necessary to use canning jars as this recipe is for fresh pickles, not processed for long term storage.

Slice the clean cucumbers lengthwise in quarters or sliced and pack into jar.

Place dill heads, garlic and any spices that you like into the jars. My favorite is cayenne pepper, it does provide some heat so use it to your family's tastes.

Use very hot tap to boiling water, stir in the salt to dissolve and add the vinegars. Pour the warm brine over the cukes to fill the jar. Note, if you need more, you can just supplement the brine with more water and vinegar to cover the cucumbers. This is a forgiving recipe, feel free to improvise.

Put the lid on the jar and set it in the summer sun for a day up to three days. After the waiting period, place the pickles in the refrigerator until full chilled. At least a full day but a week is better. Don't be tempted to try them yet, they need that cold treatment to crisp up and fully develop the flavors.

These pickles will keep well refrigerated for several weeks, but they never last that long in our house!

Please note: The pickles are not preserved to be stored on the shelf. They must be kept refrigerated. If you want to make pickles to last through the seasons, you will have to follow traditional safe canning methods utilizing heat processing with proper canning jars.

I hope you will give these a try. Delicious, spicy, crisp and refreshing, yummy.

Thanks for visiting,


Reader's Comments

By Guest on 06/17/2014 @ 06:32pmAdd a couple teaspoons of hot red pepper seeds. The best!

By Guest on 08/25/2013 @ 06:15pmTo try to see if my solar pickles would be more crisp my recipe called for 3 grape leafs I also tried adding 1 tsp. per gallon of Ball Pickle Crisp Granules I had my cucumbers in cold water for a couple hours before I added all the other ingredients.

By Soapsmith on 08/08/2013 @ 09:52pmSince these aren't heat processed, I wouldn't want to take the chance that they could spoil without refrigeration. I do know that the strong vinegar and salt might help prevent some spoilage but I am not an expert. The home canning advice is to always heat process for long term storage insure safety. I would not want to advise you what to do because I really don't know for sure and I wouldn't want to be the cause of any bad reaction. Sorry I can't be of help, I just follow the directions and refrigerate them.

By Guest on 08/08/2013 @ 09:11pmWhat if you do not have enough refrigerator room? My Mother used to put them in a cool dark place for about 3 months. No processing. Some of my jars have sealed and some have not.

By Soapsmith on 07/30/2013 @ 09:17pmI wouldn't add any more days. The sun helps the process but it isn't vital. The pickles will be fine with cloudy days.

By Guest on 07/30/2013 @ 09:05pmWhat it you get 1 cloudy day? do you just add another sunny day to it

By Soapsmith on 07/29/2013 @ 11:27amI just leave them sit for the three days, I don't refrigerate them at night. After the three days, then I keep refrigerate them.

By Guest on 07/29/2013 @ 04:09amThis looks like an excellent recipe. Thanks! Quick question: Do you bring them in or refrigerate these at night or just leave the jar out for 3 solid days?

By Soapsmith on 07/22/2013 @ 04:29pmI don't use alum. I know some old time recipes call for alum because they require a longer processing time. The alum is supposed to help with crispness when the pickles are hot processed. Since these pickles are not heat processed, I don't thing alum would make a difference. You could try it to see, maybe add it to one jar and compare. If you do try it, post a comment and let me know if there was improvement.

By Guest on 07/22/2013 @ 04:07pmdo you ever use alum

Wild Harvest Yarrow

Hello friends,

A nice little patch of wild yarrow cropped up this year along side the dirt pile from the retaining wall project. It is too rough to mow so we have daisies and yarrow there - conveniently growing right off the back deck.

I harvested enough to distill a hydrosol, small bunch for drying and fresh herbal yarrow tea.

Such a pretty herb - delicate fern like leaves and tiny flower clusters with yellow centers.

Love "volunteers" in the garden! Lots of positive medicinal properties in wild harvest herbs. A delightful herbal tea can be made from fresh or dried yarrow sweetened with a little raw honey from the Amish farms - warm and inviting!

Thanks for visiting,


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Dead Sea Mud and Clays

Hello friends,

The primordial Dead Sea churning with ancient mineral deposits inspire this mud pack treatment.

Soapsmith's Dead Sea Mud Pack

Pure natural dead sea mineral mud pack treatment for your body is also suitable for facial use. Treat your skin with Dead Sea Spa mineral mud. 

Highly concentrated with 29 essential minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, bromide, iodine, sodium, zinc and potassium; this mud is extracted from the Dead Sea. My mud is the finest quality as it is harvested from Southern areas of the Dead Sea, where the mineral content of the waters is at its highest. I carefully choose importers who employ high standards of operation. The mud is shipped fresh and I process it by hand to improve the texture by removing some of the excess water and filter out any large pebbles.

Soapsmith's dead sea mud is a wonderful skin treatment to stimulate, revitalize, cleanse, purify and soothe the skin. To be used all over the body, prior to showering or as a facial mask. Gently spread a thin layer over the areas you would like to treat, avoiding eyes and mucous membranes, allow the mud to dry and shower off, leaving your skin feeling refreshed.

I also offer a full line of pure natural dead sea and pink Himalayan bath salts and herbal soaks.

My dead Sea clay mud drawing facial mask is formulated utilizing pure all natural ingredients. This mask is perfect for oily to normal skin.

Wonderful earthy blend of natural clays and essential oils. The sea clay is harvested from the Dead Sea. Filled with 20 beneficial minerals essential for good skin care. The sea clay is combined for white kaolin clay which is a mild clay to compliment the drawing properties of the sea clay.

Pure essential oils of Tea Tree and Lavender complete the ingredient list for this 100% pure natural treatment.

For normal to oily skin mix with water, aloe or witch hazel.
Normal to dry skin mix with yogurt, honey, milk or cream.
For a great treat combine the clay with mashed fruits such as banana, avocado, papaya, cucumbers, strawberries etc.

For a gentler clay mask, I recommend
 my rose clay mask.

Thanks for visiting, enjoy!