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Monthly Archives: July 2012

hot-process!

I’ve been wanting to try this method of soap-making, and now that I have my
snazzy new slow cooker, I was ready to give it a shot.
The advantage to the hot-process vs. cold-process is time. When you cook the soap, it’s neutral at the end of the cook. Cold-process is generally neutral in about 24 hours, depending on a few different factors, but continues to fully saponify for much longer. This is one of the reasons CP requires such a long cure.
I decided I wanted to do a Calendula flower infusion into my soft oils.
Calendula has some nice qualities that are very soothing to the skin.
I like to do a warm infusion in tea bags, so I let these steep for a few hours
while I did a little cleaning..
HAHAHA!Ā  Ok, I’m lying, for good effect.
I didn’t clean..but I did cook dinner, and I made some
fun melt & pour soaps while I waited for my infused oils to be ready!
The seal-able tea bags keep things really neat, and when it’s done,
I don’t need to strain the hot oil. I infused all my soft oils. Today I used
Olive, Sunflower and Castor:
Using the hot-process, I didn’t even have to wait for my lye-water to cool, WOOHOO!
In the picture below, the soap has been cooking for about 45 minutes.
You want the soap to start to ‘fold in on itself’.
You can see where it is fully cooked around the edges at this point. So exciting!
I also incorporated some older soap shreds that were Tea & Ginger scented.
So hard not to stir, but I was a good girl, and sat on my hands.
The pic below is the ‘mashed potato stage’. It kind of looks Vaseline-y, which means the soap is fully cooked. At this point, I took it off the heat, let it cool down a bit and added some dried Calendula Petals and my fragrance and essential oils. I used an orange scented fragrance oil, and some Litsea Cubeba (citrus) essential oil.
This particular essential oil helps to anchor citrus, which,
to many a soapers’ dismay, is notoriously fleeting.
The finished bars contain the natural goodness of the Calendula flower infusion, and the sweet smell of citrus & ginger. These bars are made with the oils I listed above, plus lard, which offers hardness and creaminess to the bar.
I’ve already used one of these in the shower, because I’m the impatient type..
It’s beautifully mild and lathers quite thickly, I’m a HP fan!
I’m going to cure them for about a week or two, just to let the excess water evaporate, and then these beautiful babies will be ready to come to work with me šŸ™‚

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thrift

When I was little, my mom used to take us to the thrift store. She liked one in particular, but we would go to several different stores.
My Grandma used to call it The Junkie Store.
Sometimes, when it was my turn to sleep at Grams house, she would make me jelly toast for breakfast, and then take me to the big Junkie Store at the church. That was a great one because it covered the entire main floor and the basement,
which meant lots and lots of treasures to be discovered.
High heeled shoes, and fancy little brass make-up compacts. I would stand there and imagine the lady that once held that make-up compact.
Was she beautiful, elegant and worldly? In my young mind, she always was.

I used to get excited to go because I never knew what kind of special things I would find, and my mom always let us purchase what we wanted, something that never happened in a ‘regular’ store. I clearly remember the day I found a
grass Hula skirt, roller skates that fit me, and a Monkee’s album!
Awesome, awesome haul.

To this day, I am still an avid thrift shopper. It was a very satisfying feeling when last year, for the first time, my 15 year old daughter said, “Mom, can we go thrift-store shopping? I need some cool clothes and stuff.” Although I had to act casual about it, it was music to my ears. She was paying attention..

Hollister (and the mall pretty much in general) has got me on the verge of contempt. Besides the fact that it’s wastefully over-priced, there’s no..imagination.
Here kid, buy this. And they all do.

For practically my entire life, I could find almost anything I was seeking out at thrift. This morning I stopped at the store right around the corner from me to get myself a large crock-pot for soaping. I wanted to try a new method (for me) called hot-process. With this method, you cook the soap in the crock until neutral.
This means you can basically use the soap right away, as opposed to the
4-6 week cure for the cold-process method.
Within all of 15 minutes, I found this great big 7-quart pot, and low and behold, today, orange sticker items were 50% off.
Of course they were. The thrift gods love me, and I love them back.
I paid $7.50 for this perfect specimen of a crock-pot!
Another plus; I can almost promise that a little blond girl will not
spray you with perfume as you walk in the door.
Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Gram. šŸ™‚

sweet little thang

Forgive me, It’s been seven days since my last confession.
I’ve been sort of obsessed with sugar scrubs lately. Well, ok, completely obsessed.
I’ve been meaning to try a lip scrub, but have not had time to sit and formulate, so I started looking for a recipe online, just to get a quick fix.
Not surprisingly, I found a great one from The Soap Queen.
The recipe was simple, although I would not recommend mixing in your sugar while the butter and oils are hot enough to be liquid; I melted sugar that way. Also, when I tried to pour it into my pots, the sugar fell to the bottom of the mixture. I should have known better, emulsified sugar body scrubs are made in a similar way, with the addition of a few more ingredients.
No worries, though. I scooped the scrub out of my pots, all partially liquid, and waited for it to cool and solidify a bit. I added a bit more sugar, and then
glopped it back into my cute little pots.
Much better! The sugar stayed suspended, and upon standing, it all firmed up nicely. Similar to canned cake frosting. Yum.

Verdict: LOVE! My sweet & scrubby tendencies continue to grow deeper.
This is definitely something I’d make again. The scrub made my lips feel very soft and moisturized, without the application of additional lip balm.
The oils & butter used for this are extremely emollient, plus non- (or very low) comedogenic. The only exception to this is the coconut oil, which, at only a minute amount, is used to suspend the natural stevia sweetener.

Normally, I don’t use a sweetener in my lip balms, but I thought it would be nice for the lip-scrubs, since you really can’t avoid tasting them a bit,
and they taste really good!
I liked the sweetness so much, I may add the Stevia to my next batch of lip balms.
This may call for a larger variety of flavor oils.
I’d better get on that..

i’m hot and bothered.

And it’s not by 50 Shades. It’s by the weather. It’s hot soup out there today, although I shouldn’t say that, because under the right circumstances, I really enjoy soup.
My face contorts involuntarily each time I must step outside. I’m sorry, but I think it’s disgusting. I’m holed up in my air conditioned house with my dog. She won’t stay outside for any length of time, either.
Now, I know there’s those of you among us that absolutely love, love summer-time. I don’t mean to offend, but I am not one of them. Neither is my son. Just the other day, he was talking about where he’d like to reside when he’s older, so that he can be cool and comfortable all the time.
Go North, Young Man.

Shame on me, but I haven’t been to the beach once yet.
It’s an awful lot of work, packing up all your beach-crap, hauling it all from here to there, and then paying $12 for parking, why? To sit in the skin-sizzling sun all day. I happen to think there is nothing wrong with my pale skin, thank you very much.
Then, there’s the sandy, (and incredibly sticky?) ride home to look forward to.
I’m done pretending. I’ve done it long enough, I’m coming out. I’m not a summer-lover, my apologies. Yes, I have guilt, but I can’t keep up this charade any longer.

As I sit and write this, the sky is darkening. Soon the temperamental summer sky will open up and we’ll have another thunderstorm. For this I am thankful. Thankful that Mother Nature has offered this small token to our thirsty plants and lawn, but also because it takes the edge off of the guilt I feel for sitting so comfortably indoors.

Autumn. Now, that’s a horse of a different color.
Bring on October, please!
Crock-pot dinners and roasted corn. Soft sweaters and wooly scarves, not to mention the heady smell of nearby wood burning stoves.
A Lavender scented bath to warm and relax you before bed.
These are good things, and I’ll take it over summer any day of the week.
I’ll be honest; yes, I realize it’s only July, but I’ve got all things pumpkin on my mind..

Hey, Ma! Look what I made!
Have you ever tried pumpkin soap?
Well, if you haven’t, you should. It’s delightful. They are usually made with pure pumpkin puree, and some type of delicious pumpkin-fall scent. Pumpkin soap is one of my most favorite types of soap to make and use. I make mine with a healthy percentage of Olive Oil, the pumpkin puree, and a fragrance oil called
Frosted Pumpkin by Nature’s Garden for this particular loaf.
It. Smells. So. Heavenly.
NG describes it as “fresh top notes of citrusy lemon, leading to middle notes of creamy pumpkin and hints of nutmeg and ginger; sitting on base notes of maple sugar and vanilla frosting.”

Sounds good, but I describe it as October.
Don’t mind me, I hope you enjoy your summer.

nicely aged monkey farts.

My Sea Salt soap, or ‘Spa Bar’ that is.
Although it’s got a funny name, I love this fragrance! It’sĀ  juicy, fresh and summery.

After a nice afternoon at the beach you feel rejuvenated, energized, maybe even healthier; but why? One reason is that the sea salt you are swimming in is full of great minerals such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, and potassium, among others.
I poured these big, 6+ ounce, mineral-rich, sea salty bars back in May, so they are cured for two months as of right now. Salt soaps only get better with age,
so the longer they cure, the more divine they become.
I had never even heard of Salt Soap or Spa Bars before I started making soap at home. Now, it’s my favorite kind of soap. I love to make it and I love to use it.
My showers are longer these days, but I conserve in other areas, I swear that I do..
Salt soap makes you feel extra clean, it lasts and lasts, and as an added bonus, never gets gooey in the soap dish!
Ye old saltydog speaks the truth.

packaging!

Not long ago, I was fretting over packaging choices, (I have way too many ideas in my head at all times) so I asked my husband what he liked better. He told me I should relax. My product is really nice, he said. That’s what matters after all, isn’t it?
They could care less if it comes wrapped in a napkin, he said.

As much as I appreciate his unswerving love and support, the simple answer is, no. Packaging does matter. A lot.
Granted the product has to be good in order to keep the customer coming back for more, but the presentation is what attracts her to purchase in the first place.

I am so glad that I really enjoy creating packaging for my stuff, because before I started selling, I had no idea what a huge part of the process it really is. Hell, if I didn’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t be writing about it. Truth be told- I enjoy it almost as much as I enjoy making the soap!

I’ve discovered the Paper Art section at my local Michaels, and I really try to focus on the job at hand while I’m there. Paper Art looks divine..stay on task, stay on task..
We won’t even mention wandering over to the jewelry-making section. I need those horse-blinder things, or perhaps I should look into getting myself a shock-collar to help redirect me out of certain isles.

Anywhoo, I did manage to get myself one of those nifty straight-paper cutter things, and some fancy paper punch tools.
So much better than scissors! :
I’ve got a scalloped circle and a little heart punch tool, now- WOOHOO!
I think these little Love Birds would be adorable bridal or baby shower favors. They’re on a little soap dish-nest. Well, a little soap dish. I tried to make it look like a nest
with some kraft-paper shreds. ā¤

Ok, so I like kraft paper šŸ™‚
Because my soap is true soap, as opposed to a syndet bar, (‘synthetic detergent’- for example, Dove) the FDA does not require me to label ingredients. However, I think it’s smart to list all ingredients, irregardless. First of all, it’s all high quality stuff,
and I want you to look at it!
Secondly, if someone has an allergy to, for instance, Coconut Oil;
they need to be informed that it is in my product.

I use a very simple software program that comes with the labels I purchase. I like it because I can use it with regular card-stock, as well as purchased sticky labels.
I usually have an idea for the type of label I want to make, so I get them started and then save ’em.Ā  For soap, I wait six weeks while they cure before I print them out. This is so I can get a true weight after excess water evaporates out of the bar.
This is just one of the purposes of curing for so long.
Less water means a long lasting and hard bar of soap.

Oh, and I’ve found a beautiful Mermaid image by artist
John Waterhouse that is now deemed
‘public domain’- this means it’s ok to use on my label.
Mermaid Soap labels next..

lovely amber glass

I’ve always loved the look of amber glass.Ā  The dark bottles are a protective cloak, ideal for storing all oils, especially those that are fragile,
like fragrance and Essential Oils.
Being the Fragrance Hoarder that I am, I buy (too much) the most beautiful fragrance oils and Essential Oils from a few different suppliers, and I need them to live a long, healthy shelf life. Some companies package their fragrance in the amber glass, but most often, larger quantities come in plastic.
Of course, big glass bottles are trickier to ship, being heavier than plastic and prone to breakage. I get this, but it leaves me with yet something else to purchase, in order to protect my investments.
I was so glad to finally get my 16 oz. amber glass bottles! They were on back order from SKS, and I was hoping I didn’t have to wait too long.
I have almost all of my fragrances transferred to glass, now.
Hear, hear! Long Live my beautiful oils!

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