Sunday, June 1, 2014

from there to here

I just realized that I haven't written a blog post since January!  Wow!  Where have I been?  I've been right here hardly making soap or anything.  I think I got obsessed with making bath fizzes, lotions and then that went away.  It didn't help that we had to put our dog to sleep in November.  I'm a huge dog lover and it was sad to say goodbye to Milla.  My husband and I have been married 18 years and we pretty much had two dogs and then one dog the whole time.  Throw in winter and minimal sunshine and it just didn't make for a fun half of the year.  Spring is here, which means sun and warmer weather.  Yay!

This break from soap making gave me some time to actually use my soaps almost as if I didn't make them.  It was kind of fun to just grab a bar of soap without thinking about what was in it and use it.  I realized I prefer softer and creamier soaps.  I knew that and yet I didn't know that.  I was using a harder bar of soap and then I grabbed one of my palm free soaps and loved it.  I dug out the recipe and saw all of the lovely oils in it (avocado, shea butter, and cocoa butter) and thought that I really need to make this one again.  Sure, I use it up a little faster than a harder bar of soap, but the creaminess and lather really make up for it.  It's luxurious.  I feel motivated again to make more.  I think I might go back to simple soaps.  In fact, I did make a simple soap scented with Chamomile from Natures Garden and I really enjoyed making it.  This was the harder soap I made and while I enjoy it, I would make it using my palm free recipe next.  I just wish I had more of this fragrance oil!

So what else have I been doing with my life?  I had the urge to start sewing again.  This time I decided to make skirts out of old shirts.  It's amazing the tutorials you can find on the internet!  This one was made out of my husband's old polo shirt and a t-shirt of mine that I didn't like anymore.

The second one was from a simple black t-shirt and an old white t-shirt of mine.  I love making new out of old!  Plus, I didn't realize how comfortable skirts were for summer!  I made this one with more of an A-line shape to it with less gathering at the waste.  My next goal is making more of a yoga style skirt.  I may just have to buy a pattern for that however.  I just hope I don't need to use a serger, because I don't have one!

What else have I been up to?  Oh yes, hubs and I have started to go bikepacking.  That's where you throw all of your camping gear on your bike and go exploring!  I love it.  It's a two wheel adventure!  We can go places that would take too long to backpack to.

Sometimes we call them gravel grinders because we're suffering on the gravel.  But then a beautiful view comes into focus and it makes it worth it.

That's about it for now.  Happy soap making and happy adventures!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Soap Challenge Club - Taiwan Swirl

I really couldn't pass up learning yet another swirl from Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  Each month she hosts a soap challenge that soapers can join to learn new techniques.  I love Amy's teaching style and I always learn so much for her.  This month's challenge was the Taiwan Swirl.  I have never heard of it so I thought I would give it a try.

Because this includes delicate swirls I made sure to use a slow moving recipe, a well behaved fragrance oil (if it can reverse or slow down trace, that's the one you want), almost full water, and 85°F soaping temps.  Slow moving for me means no castor oil and no sodium lactate.  I use a lot of olive oil, organic palm oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and mango butter.  I also hardly use my stickblender.  I made a video so you can see what I did.  

I'm still in dire need of new soaping colors so I had to use my old standbys of white, yellow and purple.  I chose to mix my yellow and purple micas in a little olive oil so that I wouldn't have to use my stickblender.  It worked really well.  I added a little titanium dioxide to the base to whiten it.  The fragrance oil I used was Lemon Verbena from Aroma Haven and that tends to yellow a bit.  It behaved very well and I really didn't need to use much.  It would make the perfect fragrance for a kitchen soap and it will be a great pick me up in the morning.  

Here is a photo of the soap in the mold.  I made sure to gel it otherwise I bet I would've had to wait forever for it to harden up.

The next day I took it out of the mold and worked my magic with my soap cutter.  Lots of trimming to reveal the beautiful swirls.

I'm very happy with how this turned out and can't wait to do another soap like this.  I think I want to try it in my slab mold from Brambleberry next.  Some new colors would be great too!

Last, but not soaping videos!  Enjoy!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

goodbye milla

I'm not really sure how to start this post except to say that my husband and I had to say goodbye to Milla on November 14, 2013.  It was just one day after she turned 16.  Her poor heart just couldn't take it anymore and we didn't want her to suffer any longer.  Our final gift to her was a peaceful goodbye.  Sweet dreams Milla, we will miss you.  

Playing with Bart.  I'm sure she's playing with him right now.

All groomed and pretty.  Although a puppy cut was much better suited for her!
She loved hanging outside with daddy.  She was also very shy in front of the camera!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

practicing some soaping techniques

I felt the urge to be creative.  I've been watching lots of videos on soaping techniques and felt like trying some of them.  I thought I would try the tiger stripe again, the spoon swirl and the tilted tiger stripe.

I've done the tiger stripe before and loved it so I attempted it again using a black raspberry vanilla fragrance.  The batter was a bit too fluid to do my fluffy tops so I just swirled it a little.

I used my favorite color combination and I'm so happy with how these turned out.  There may be some vanilla in the fragrance oil because my beautiful white is slowly turning to a cream color.  It may eventually go darker.  The tops ended up being very sticky so I had to trim them off.  I kind of like rectangular bars.  Sometimes it's nice not to go fluffy.

My next one was going to be a spoon swirl.  I had some champagne sugar fragrance oil to try and a new palm free recipe too.  I can't wait for it to cure.  I thought I would go pastel with this one and bling it up with some glitter.  What a fun technique!  The soap recipe behaved perfectly too.  I used olive, coconut, avocado, castor, and cocoa butter.  Gotta have the castor oil in this one!  I also used 2% sodium lactate to harden it up and it was a breeze to unmold 12 hours later.

These smell sweet and the pastel color seems to compliment the fragrance.  Just a quick test with a scrap and the lather is silky and creamy.

Last, but not least I attempted a tilted tiger stripe.  I soaped a little warm and my batter got thick so I had to change up the game plan a little and had to throw in a spoon swirl at the top.  I think it turned out great!  I picked my color scheme first and then chose aloe vera and cucumber as my fragrance.  This would be perfect as a peppermint scented soap too.  I could really go for some mint chocolate chip ice cream right now!

I had so much fun making these and have more ideas in my head!  No videos for these as I really had no time to talk and made a good mess each time.

Happy Soaping!

Monday, September 9, 2013

body scrubs

I'm not sure why, but I am totally obsessed with making emulsified body scrubs.  I've been making them for a few years now.  I love trying different emulsifiers and different ingredients to see the end results and how my skin feels.  There's nothing like the feel of soft and smooth skin after a shower.  They are especially great in the winter.

I've made salt and sugar scrubs and for some reason I just love salt scrubs.  I've played with table salt, pickling and canning salt, and various types of sea salts.  Fine grained sea salt is my favorite since I find it to be gentle on my skin and seems to last the longest in the shower.  The only drawback is if I have a scrape on my leg from mountain biking and the salt hits it...ouch... a little bit of a burn.  Oh and you can't use salt on freshly shaved skin either.  Yikes!  But, I think the results are worth the extra care.  What do you prefer? Salt or sugar scrubs?

Here's a salt scrub I made last week with BTMS (Behentrimonium Methosulfate (and) Cetearyl Alcohol), shea butter, and high-oleic safflower oil among other things.  I scented it with a blend of Sweet Peas & Rhubarb from Soapalooza and Sea Kelp from Rustic Escentuals.  This was right after making it and packaging it.  It was on the soft side at first, but stiffened up a bit more over 24 hours.  It's important to not judge the consistency of scrub on the first day as it can still harden over time depending on the ingredients used.

Here's the same scrub after being used several times.  I'm careful to not get water in the scrub so that I can keep the consistency the same.  I use a preservative also.  You can see that it has lost some of the opacity and is a bit more translucent.  What I love is that it is still scoopable and didn't get too hard or waxy.  This feels great in the shower too.  I also love to leave these uncolored.  

I just realized that I'm almost out!  Time to make more!  What are some of your favorite fragrances for scrubs?  Do you like citrus, margarita, floral, herbal, vanilla types?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

lavender martini with a twist

I've never actually made a real lavender martini (must search for a recipe), but I do love the fragrance in soap!  I get mine from Nature's Garden. I finally got my act together and made soap and a video.  I've been happily using up my recent soaps, with one of my favorites being my Mantra Swirl soap I made in July.  I wish I would've made more of it.  The fragrance and texture of the soap is amazing.  Since I really liked Hippie Chick from Rustic Escentuals (used in my Mantra Swirl soap) I decided to add a touch of that to this soap.  I'm very happy with how it turned out.

With the exception of shampoo bars, I have decided not to use castor oil in my soaps anymore.  I still have soaps left with it, but my new recipes won't have any.  I realized I prefer the creaminess of my soaps without it.

My goal when choosing oils is to try to buy locally first.  It's just so nice to be able to drive somewhere and pick up a gallon of oil and make soap with it right away.  I still have to order most of my oils, but at least I can find olive and rice bran oil locally.

My lavender martini twist soap was made with pomace olive oil, rice bran oil, organic/sustainable palm oil, and coconut oil.  I also added about 0.5 oz ppo nonfat greek yogurt.  The soap behaved beautifully, but silly me let it overheat a little in the mold.  It was softer than my usual recipes so I am going to add some shea butter back in.  I realized that having a little butter in there always seems to help with the hardness as well as creating a milder bar of soap.  I am going to skip the yogurt for this next batch and add 1 or 2% sodium lactate back in.  I love that stuff!  I went with one of my favorite designs, an in the pot swirl (ITPS).

Here's the making of it video too!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Summertime is drawing to an end and I'm not ready.  I feel like there's more I need to do (even though I've done plenty).  My dog Milla is reaching the end of her life.  It has made me sad this summer.  She'll be 16 in November and I have a feeling she won't be with us next summer.  It's been a roller coaster of emotions watching her age this past year.  We didn't take any vacations this summer because we couldn't put her in a kennel and we knew we would worry ourselves silly even with a pet sitter.  Traveling with her was not an option either.  Some days I feel like we are getting close to saying goodbye and then other days her zest for life emerges when she enjoys her stinky chew bones outside or her walk down the path behind our house to sniff her favorite bushes.  I hope we will know when it's time if we have to make that decision.  I've never had a dog for 16 years.  Our other dog, Bart, had cancer at 12 years and we knew the decision then.  She's a tough dog that's for sure.  We didn't name her "Milla Runs Wild" for nothing!

I haven't made a lot of soap lately.  I took a little break after the mantra swirl soap challenge.  I wanted to let my soaps cure and try my different recipes.  They are all very similar with small changes.  I'm always fascinated with experiments and results.  Cocoa butter vs. shea butter or castor oil vs. no castor oil.  I even tried a no butter recipe recently as sometimes I just can't bear the thought of using a butter in soap!  Maybe because I looked at how much I've spent on soaping supplies!  Does butter matter?

Besides soap experiments, I've been doing more mad scientist experiments again.  I always feel the need to test one more ingredient.  It's exhausting, but I need to know how different emulsifiers work or how different oils or butters feel in my products.  I just need to be sure!  I have a lot of recipes that say "Final" on them and that feels good to me.  I have to realize that nothing will ever be "perfect" and that's OK because it's close enough.  I think one of my faults is that I'll love a recipe and then think "hey, why don't I replace this oil with that oil since I'm already using that oil in something else?"  Seems like an efficient plan, but then it changes the product.  My husband finally said to just leave it alone and make it the way I like it.  So....lesson learned.  I need to quit going in circles.