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candles; my maiden voyage!

Now I’ve really gone and done it-  I looked.
I stuck my nose where it didn’t belong, and had a good, long lookey-see.

Since I began making soap, I’ve purposefully avoided
anything to do with candle-making. Not that I have anything against candles,
on the contrary, I buy ’em by the dozen.

I have to admit, it wasn’t easy holding out when more than a few people said to me,
“You should make candles. Candles and soap go together!”

I knew eventually, I would have to go to there.
However, I was really enjoying learning how to make soap, and
there’s only so many hours in the day; soap’s ensconced me.

Then, I needed candles, I bought a bunch. After that, I received a
beautiful, hand-made candle and scented wax-tarts
as part of a soap-swap.
The little scratch at the door got louder.

OK, I was ready to look.  And I had birthday money!

A  friend recommended one of these Candle
Starter Kits from Peak Candle Supply, to simplify things.

It was a great idea, there’s a lot of stuff to know about candles.
Which wax? What wicks go with which wax? What? Why?

I put in my order for the Soy Container Starter Kit,
and started searching in forgotten cabinets for containers.
I was surprised at how many potential containers I already had!
My thrift-store, but perfect tea-cups, looked to be an attractive choice.

I had seen container candles done in tea-cups, and
find it really beautiful. Plus, I had plenty of dusty tea-cups
on hand that I could scrub-up and recycle!

Container candles are really fun and easy,
the perfect first-candle for anybody!
I may try those pretty little tins, come next round..

Candle Making can be pleasingly simple or simply complex,
depending on what you are creating.
It’s always beautiful.

Can’t wait to light my new candle 🙂

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fun, fun soap swap!

Alright, so I’ve only been involved in two my entire life, but they’re so fun!
I was introduced to them over on one of the forums last year,
and it was such a nice experience, I wanted to participate again.

The way that it works is this: a swap hostess posts the swap info
on the forum, and who ever wants to participate, signs up.

There’s usually a limit of 12 or so people, so you gotta sign up quick.
The hostess then collects shipping money from all the participants,
and we have a certain amount of time to create and then mail her our 12 items.

She will divide these up and make each one of us a box.
Each participant will receive a package containing 12 different items!

I’ve seen lip-balm swaps, soaps made with freshly dried herbs,
welcome swaps, and soaps using all-natural colorants.
Basically a swap theme can be whatever anyone dreams up.

It just so happens that both times I joined, it was a Halloween/Autumn themed swap.
Fall is my favorite season, I’m all about the pumpkin!
So, I made Pumpkin Seed Oil Body Butter:
That beautiful amber liquid is pure vitamin E, being added at the ‘cool down’ stage.
And below, my finished product:
So I mailed in my body butter, by the given deadline,
and I received a package in return, containing the twelve different items!
It included candles, lotions, soaps, bubble bath, perfume and a body scrub:
All of it wonderful.
I knew it was here, because the minute I opened the mailbox, I could smell it!
I didn’t get a chance to go through it until the following night at around 9:30 pm.
My friend was over and we were enjoying a glass of wine, when I remembered
I hadn’t had a chance to open it yet!

With Ooo’s and Ahh’s we admired the packaging, all the
while slathering ourselves in delicious-smellling lotions and body butters.
Then I put everything away, to wait for everyone to receive their boxes.
Once everyone has gotten theirs, the postings and reviews will begin.

I can barely wait to use all my Halloween Treats,
so much better than candy  😉

covet thy cupcake

What is it about the cupcake that makes it so appealing?
Maybe it has to do with the fact that although it’s beautiful,
with all its fancy embellishments, it’s also small,
so therefore, no sharing is required.

Any pretty soap intrigues me, but I find the soap cupcake especially appealing.
A yummy, decadent treat to use and enjoy.
So much so, that you almost feel guilty doing it.
With a case of the guilts, ya gotta be strong and shake it off- use the soap!

On a side note; those tall, lovely cupcakes are very comfortable to use
if you cut them in half vertically. They will fit perfectly in the palm of your hand.

I’ve made soap cupcakes only a handful of times.
Not because I don’t want to, (’cause I always really want to) but because life gets busy,
and there’s never enough hours in the day, and blah, blah, blah-
we’re all in the same boat.
This week I took some time off from work, so I’ve been getting my soaping on.
Lucky me!

I don’t have a huge array of food flavors for soaping,
so I went with what I had on hand.
I’ve always loved chocolate and mint together, and had both fragrance oils,
so I decided to go with that.
I divided my soap batter into three parts.
Two parts for the base, one part scented in mint, and
the other part scented in chocolate.

The last portion I saved for the ‘icing’.
I wanted to color it green, so I scented this portion in the mint.
Mint fragrance oil doesn’t discolor like chocolate & vanilla scents can.

Since I knew the chocolate part would come out brown anyway,
I added some of Brambleberry’s Vanilla Select
to it, just because it smells incredible!
I was having so much fun, I decided to make some Pumpkin-Caramel Delights.
(I just made that up, because that is what they smell like to me)
I figure with Autumn right around the corner,
who wouldn’t like a little Pumpkin Delight?

Pumpkin, lemon, caramel & a touch of chocolate.
And it’s mine, all mine!
Well, one of them is, I’ve had my eye on on it..

liquid soap; in search of the faster dilution

Not too long ago, a couple of people asked me why I don’t make liquid soap..
and I didn’t know the answer.
I love to peruse Etsy, and all things soapy on the interweb.
So much creative and inspiring talent out there!
So after the intriguing question was posed, I started to look for LS specifically,
and wondered why the offerings were so much fewer than for bar soap?

Now that I’ve done some research and made a few batches,
I have a clearer understanding.

I can tell you that from what I’ve learned, the challenge is not in
making the soap itself, (and there are different methods of doing this)
but trying to figure out the proper water to soap-paste dilution rate.
In my experience, this is where things become much trickier..
Oils and lye at the early emulsion stage

Liquid soap begins by creating a soap paste. This calls for Potassium Hydroxide,
as opposed to the Sodium Hydroxide (lye) that we use to make bar soap.
Depending on your method, this can take several hours.
The soap needs to go through different phases,
and then become a thick, clear, honey-like goop.
‘Mashed-Potato’ Stage
Finished Soap Paste

This clear goop cools down into a taffy-like, pliable soap-paste.
This concentrated paste is then diluted, using heat, and/or time..
lot’s of time.

Ah, and herein lies the rub.
As I write this, my 35 oz. of soap paste has been diluting for no less than 6 days today.

I tried a new technique, in hopes of an easier passing from paste to liquid.
~Let Go, Let Go, Let Go~
I ripped off small pieces of paste and flattened then out with my fingers.
I was hoping that this would create more surface space for faster dilution.
Sounds scientific, this just may work!
Soap Paste Chips in Dilution Water
After some ph testing
(I personally go high-tech and use my tongue)
the soap-paste is ready to dilute.
The thing is, every soap recipe dilutes at a different rate.
A soap high in Olive Oil takes a ton of water to dilute properly,
roughly a 3:1 ratio, while a soap high in Coconut Oil takes very little.

Each new recipe tweak requires patience for the long
trial and error method of water dilution.
There are general guidelines, and one expert recommends
starting out at 60% of the weight of the paste in water.

Since it’s easier to add more water than to take it away,
water amounts are adjusted slowly, in ounces at a time.

Sequestered Soap
Successful dilution results in a soap that is clear, not too thin,
and doesn’t form a ‘skin’ on it’s surface when bottled.
In addition, of course you want it to lather well and feel silky and mild.

These are attributes of the perfect, hand-made liquid soap,
and something I’ve been keen on producing for a while now.
Each time I make a batch, it will become easier as I get my
dilution rates down to a science..hopefully 😉

Right now, it is my labor of love, but I’m still learning and experimenting!
The Loverly Finished Product!

That being said, I really like this recipe, that I formulated myself!
Formulated by me, but I have to give credit to people at
some great sites, where I’ve learned  so much.
The Soap Making Forum is the first craft forum
I ever joined. There are many educated, helpful folks there.
And many thanks to my friends over at Let’s Talk About Soap, my daily haunt.
There’s also a particularly informative thread on the
glycerin method of liquid soap making over on The Dish Forum.

If I didn’t have to work, I’d probably spend
way too much time in each of these places 😉

I can’t even begin to tell you how invaluable these forums are
if you are interested in learning how to make your own soap.
Without all the generous sharing of information,
guidance, encouragement and humor I find there,
I probably wouldn’t find soaping to be half as enjoyable as I do.

Not to sound like I’m giving my Academy Award acceptance speech,
but I like to give acknowledgement where acknowledgement
is due. And besides, this craft is so rewarding,

I do, indeed, feel like I won something!

My posts are not meant to be tutorial in nature,
they are just my personal observations and creations.
If you’re interested in specifics, In addition to the forums above,
I’d  like to suggest this  e-book, offered by The Soap Queen.
Catherine Failor’s Making Natural Liquid Soaps
is also a great place to start.

I can see clearly now (you see what I did there?) why this type of soap
is not as abundantly produced, and a little more costly to purchase.
I’m not so sure there is a short-cut to making a fine
liquid soap, but then again, the best things in life
always take dedication and patience,
and are worth waiting for.

a rose by any other name


I’ve always made home-made lip balms and tints.
I actually forgot all about this, but my sister in law recently pointed it out to me after I presented her with one of my newer, from-scratch concoctions.
“Remember when you used to make the Chapstick & Leftover Lipstick’s for me”? OMG- yes!

I now know that lip balm is not that difficult to make, just some
lovely hard & soft oils and Beeswax,
melted together at the right proportions.
But back then, I had no idea and was just trying to get a little more bang for my buck.
Irregardless, I had a super-easy system for great lip product
re-furbs, that anyone can do.

When I was young, and didn’t have much money, I resented the fact that there
was so much lipstick left at the bottom of those $9.00 tubes when it was all ‘finished’. Back then, I preferred lipstick over the clear balm I favor now.

I would scrape out the leftover lipstick with a knife and put that into a
plastic medicine cup. Then I would scrape out my half used
Chapstick out of the container and add that to the medicine cup.
Microwave the contents until they were liquified, and stir it up well.
Pour it into the emptied Chapstick container, let it cool, and viola;
a full size moisturizing lip-tint in the perfect shade!
Rose Bud Mouth Beeswax Lip-Balm:
Apricot Kernel Oil, Beeswax, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Avocado Oil,
Sunflower Oil, Wheatgerm Oil, Vitamin E, Rose Flavor Oil & Lip Safe Mica Colorant

I adore Rose Lip Balm!
There’s something so luxurious about the scent of roses in a lip product.

I am spoiled by the lip balms that I make today,
and reach for them over anything else.
I don’t say that to boast, but the fact is that when you make them yourself,
you can tweak them to precisely how you like them best!

I love Coconut Oil in my balms. It’s got a delicious slickness that’s perfect for the lips,
and fights signs of weathering and aging.  Even straight out of the container,
Coconut Oil provides a protective barrier and feels great on chapped lips.


For my next batch, I’m going to be playing with some color.
Not full-on lipstick color, just some nice, sheer mica tints.
Reminds me of the good old days.

Did you ever make your own home-made bath & body
concoctions or cosmetics?

soap-pie

Oh, me, oh my, I really want to make a soap pie!
It looks like a beautiful pie, but it’s soap, how cool its that?

A true, round soap-pie, that my family will want to eat, and then be sadly disappointed when they come to realize that it’s not ‘real’.
Then I will know, my job here is done. Muwahaha..

Of course, you have to get your confidence up to make a soap pie,
so I’ve been practicing:
Pumpkin Pie Bars:
Olive Oil, Palm Oil, Coconut Oil, Water, Pumpkin Puree, Sodium Hydroxide,
Avocado Oil, Sunflower Oil, Castor Oil, Sodium Lactate, Titanium Dioxide,
Fragrance Oil, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Clove & Oo La La Soap Glitter

And I have other questions. There’s the detail of cutting the thing. And packaging.
Will people want to use pie-slice shaped soap to wash with in the shower?
Does the pie slice ever even make it there?
Or just sit prettily on display for years to come?
I’ve considered these things, and still, I really need to try one.

I hear it time and time again, “I can’t use your soap, it’s too pretty!”,
to which I sincerely reply, “It’s ok, I’ll make you more!”

The thing is, hand-crafted soap can, indeed, be quite beautiful.
So beautiful in fact, that those of us who like to make it
refer to the photos as Soap Porn..and it can be addicting.

But I’m going to let you in on a little secret; beauty is not it’s best feature.

In my opinion,
(and I’d wager my precious supply funds
that my fellow soap-making friends would agree with me)
the best part of hand-crafted soap is the quality of the ingredients,
the luxurious feel of the soap as you use it, and the way your skin feels afterwards.

Try it once, and you will immediately feel the difference between it and commercial.
Hand-made soap is insanely popular on Etsy.
People are so impressively creative, you can find something to satisfy any taste.

So go ahead and do it, unwrap the pretty package.
Use The Soap!
I promise, it’s going to be more than ok 😉

java love

Coffee is bad.
Just kidding, it’s good again.
Actually, coffee was always good, they were just confused for a little while.
I admit, I’m one of those morning zombies that needs my cup of java before you may want to address me. My family knows this, and my husband is kind enough to have it ready for me each day when I wake up. But studies show that we may be benefiting from more than just the energy-boosting caffeine in coffee, we might also be reaping its cancer and stroke preventing benefits, just to name a few.  Of course, as with all good things, moderation is key. All that caffeine can be addicting.

Coffee is versatile. Did you know that besides it’s health benefits, coffee also gets rid of odors? It’s true, professional “noses” often use it in between sampling different fragrance notes to help distinguish the latest scent from the previous one.
You can hide coffee beans discretely throughout your home to absorb odors. They’re very effective and will cost you less than other deodorizers.
Coffee will also take cooking odors off of your hands. The stuff that makes our food taste so good, like onions and garlic, don’t smell so nice
lingering on our hands, afterwards.

I’ve been needing (well, wanting) coffee soap for a while, and finally had time to make
a nice, utilitarian kitchen-coffee-scrubby-soap.
After using my soap, you can go to the movies without anyone knowing you just cooked the most fabulous fish dinner!
We won’t even get into the fact that caffeine is supposed to help
reduce the appearance of cellulite, so I wouldn’t be opposed to rubbing
this on my thighs, as well.
Yup, caffeine is the active ingredient used in most cellulite-reducing creams, (personally, I think all the massaging helps, too) check it!

My soap is made with double-brewed coffee instead of water.
I added some black-coffee fragrance oil and peppermint essential oil, too.
It’s also got coffee grounds, dried citrus peel and oatmeal to gently scrub odors away, while leaving your skin clean and silky soft.

I never did learn how to order those fancy soy-latte-decaf-tall-half-twist? drinks,
but that’s ok, because I never could get past a regular, good ‘ol cup a joe 🙂

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