Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To all my friends and followers, have a safe and happy holiday! It’s been a great 2011, and I know 2012 will be even better. And yes, we will all live to tell after 12/21/12!
I’ll be M-I-A for a few weeks, so I’ll talk to ya’ll next year. Peace be with you-always!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fun With Melt and Pour Soap

About six months ago, I made the decision to stop making melt and pour soaps. Why? Because the bases are so expensive (IMO), and I wanted to focus my efforts on making my soaps from scratch. This is NOT a knock on melt and pour soapmakers. They do some of the most original, incredible work I've seen in soapmaking.

Now with all that being said, I was contacted a few weeks ago with an opportunity to preview a new e-book on melt and pour soapmaking, and of course I jumped on it! After all, it was melt and pour that got me hooked on this drug called soapmaking in the first place. Melt and pour soaps, by the way, (I keep forgetting that I have readers who are not in the "business") are pre-made, glycerin soap bases that are cut and melted then colored and/or scented then poured into a mold of some type. You can also add goodies like herbs and glitter to jazz it up. The book is called The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting by Lisa Maliga, and here's what's in it!

~ WHY you should make your own soap
~ How to make handcrafted soap in less than 1 hour!
~ Secrets of melt & pour soap crafting
~ Complete step-by-step instructions
~ Fragrance & essential oils information
~ List of reputable soap suppliers
~ Creative labeling & packaging ideas and photos
~ Easy-to-make craft projects for kids of all ages
~ Bestselling soap recipes
~ Color photos of the recipes!
~ NO experience necessary!

In honor of this book, I decided to post some pics of some of the soaps I made in the past using melt and pour soaps. I actually have Creme Brulee back in the shop cuz I love them so much! Thanks Lisa for re-inspiring me...

What I like about this book is it's just not a book full of projects. Lisa gives you some background on what melt and pour soapmaking is along with tips and tricks as well as facts and safety tips. This book is perfetto for newbs and presents some fun, indoor activity for the kiddos. Throw a soap party and invite your best buds over for a little pinot and soapmaking. I've actually scheduled mine for the first weekend in January. Thanks again Lisa!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sugar Lips!

I've re-formulated my lip buff so that it's now creamier than ever! Version 1 was basically my lip balm formula with sugar mixed in. I packaged it in 1 oz pots, and I loved them. They were pretty cool...but they were too hard, and when you dug your finger in the pot, you'd end up with product and sugar clumped under your nails...

Then I got the genius idea to package them in lip balm tubes. Again, same formula, but you got significantly less product, and pouring the thick, sugary liquid was a messy p.i.a.

So, back to the lab I went. I loved the pots, but I didn't like the formula. I decided to whip the butter-shea butter to be exact-this time to get a creamy, yet, thick consistency, and VOILA...Perfection! It's not goopy or runny, but like cake frosting with a heap of sugar added. DEE-LISH! I haven't listed these yet cuz the labels are giving me a major migrane.Comes in two flavors: Buttercream Cupcake and Mint Truffle. We'll start with these, and add on:)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Evolution of Vanilla Almond Milk...Soap

Happy Week-After-Thankgiving-Black-Friday-Madness! Did you get pepper-sprayed? Or did you trample somebody trying to snatch up one of the three big-screen TVs in stock at Wal-Mart? teehee...

I have a love/hate relationship with vanilla-based fragrances, and if you're a soapmaker, then you know where I'm coming from. No matter how intricate your design or swirl may be, it all goes to sh... in the end because it ends up turning brown. Not just brown, but a deep, dark, murky, "protein stain" brown that borders on dog turds.You could avoid all that by using a stabilizer, but that stuff stinks all to be damned, and I really don't like using unnecessary additives for the sake of vanity-unless I'm putting on make up of course!

So here is my latest creation. I actually made this soap about a month ago, and I need to list it.It's called Vanilla Almond Milk because I blended French vanilla, bourbon vanilla, and almond marzipan altogether to get this nose hair-singeing aroma. I always go a little heavy on the almond when you literally only need a drop-that stuff is very powerful! Check out how it looked when I first sliced it. The edges are dog turd-brown (okay, I need to stop saying that or no one will want to buy it!) and the middle is a light tan.

Within hours, if that long, after I sliced these, they ended up looking like this-deep, dark, and delicious!

Have I mentioned how absolutely delicioso these smell? Yes, they do! The almond has really mellowed out, and it's like this buttery fusion of vanilla pound cake with slivered almonds on top. Those shavings are my lame attempt at slivered "soap" almonds.The milk in these is goat's milk. I really like goat's milk in my soaps now. All the hype about it creating these creamy, luxurious bars of soap is so true! Now, to take better pics and list these babies. I'm excited for you to try them!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

It's Small Business Saturday!!

Yay!!! For us small biz owners, it's Small Business Saturday everyday, tee hee, but today is the Black Friday of small business owners.So, what-you-offerin' huh? I'm offering 30% off EVERYTHING in my shop now through Sunday. Use code SHOPSMALL.

Feel free to post your deal in the comments, and happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!


May your Thanksgiving be filled with joy, happiness, and remembrance of those less fortunate. Eat lots of turkey (or tofurkey....) and stuffing and pie and stuff. Then rest up on Friday. Then get ready to support all small businesses (like mine) on Small Business Saturday!

Stay blessed...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where's The Beef? In This Soap!

 I know this post may turn some people off-particularly vegans, but I've never hidden the fact that I eat meat. I love meat, and I am of the philosophy that if you're going to kill something for its meat then you should use all parts of that animal. Didn't they do that in pre-historic and the covered wagon days? Oh well, I'm not here to wage a war between vegans and carnivores, so let's get on to the soap shall we?

This is my first time making tallow soap. What is tallow you may ask? Well, quite simply, it's cow fat that's been rendered (the process of removing all the gunk and meaty bits and converting beef fat into a usable resource). Think of it as cow lard for lack of a better comparison. To see the actual rendering in process, check out this post. I have no desire to learn to how to render tallow, so I just buy mine from here. First off, the tallow arrives in solid white form. Duh, it is fat after all, and the smell is a little off-putting like used cooking grease. But wait-it comes from a cow so what do you expect? Double duh...Once you scent your soap accordingly, there is no leftover fried chicken grease smell.

Using tallow in your soap recipe is supposed to help yield a hard, white bar. Well, I can't speak on the white part-mine look very average, but I can attest to the hard part. The loaf came out nice and firm, and I was actually able to slice it up the same day. This particular batch is scented in black raspberry & vanilla. I didn't get too fancy with the design because I didn't know what to expect. The oils I used were very basic-tallow, of course, soybean, palm, and coconut oils. I haven't decided if I'm going to sell these or use them as a deluxe sample with purchase but if you don't have a problem with using animal by-products in your soaps, I encourage you to give tallow a try.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Baby Food Soap? Yup!

As I slowly (and I mean slowly) transition from using less fragrance oils to more natural essential oils and additives in my soaps, I found this easy peasy, yet initially intimidating, recipe on Soap Queen's blog from Amanda at Lovin Soap. It's a carrot soap made with pureed carrots-baby food to be exact! Whoda thunk?!

This soap is completely unscented and I can't do the math to save my life, but at least 87% natural (minus the lye). This was also my first time using buttermilk, and I was really nervous because I didn't know what to expect. Because milk contains natural sugars, lye can scorch or burn the milk causing a stinky, ugly disaster in your finished product, so I froze it and let the heat from the lye naturally melt it. The baby food (pureed carrots and water only) was added to the lye mixture before mixing with the oils. The pictures don't really do the color of this soap justice, so I'll shut up and just show you the project in pictures from start to finish!

Frozen buttermilk
Doesn't have to be organic, but it's an added selling point:)

Baby food added to my lye mixture. Baby food stinks by the way...

Baby food lye mixture added to my soap oils

Set up and swirled to perfection before CPOP'ing (That's cold processed/oven processed)
Voila! A beautiful loaf of carrot soap:)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane-Part II

I was looking for some Christmas graphics on my 'puter when I stumbled across an old folder. I completely forgot that I used to make candles and I mean all kinds of candles! The picture quality is horrible (I was just starting out, so cut me a break:D), but the candles are so cute. I still do a few of these around the holidays for friends and co-workers, but for the most part, I've hung up my chandler gloves. Here a few pics:

Apple pies and tarts

A La Mode Pies

Fruit Bowls

Candy Jars

Cinnamon Roll Votives


Misc. Jar Candles

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Tarts

Cola and Strawberry Lemonade Gel Candles

Bananaberry and Strawberry Shortcakes


Friday, November 4, 2011

Crack Is Wack-Just Say NO!

Crack is bad. Both the drugs and the ones on your hands. And feet. And knees. And elbows. So I have the remedy. The rehab. The therapy. It's called Crack Is Wack, and it's the ultimate moisturizer. Personally, I could use this all year round because I have the driest skin, yet the oiliest face-go figure...

I wanted to make this product as simple and as natural as possible: mango and unrefined cocoa butters (plus a few other proprietary ingredients). This stuff melts upon contact and can be applied evenly and smoothly to both damp or dry skin. This is a completely new formulation, and I'm so happy with the outcome. In keeping with the "naturalness" of the product, I've decided to only scent them with essential oils. There's something about the plant-like aroma of the essential oils and the natural chocolate aroma of the cocoa butter that just sets these suckers off! I'll be adding more scents down the line, but to start, I'm offering two of my favorite combos:

Up first is my personal favorite: sweet orange and patchouli. Sweet orange is non phototoxic meaning you can apply this and go out sunning and funning. Your mood is automatically lifted and your spirits brightened. I cannot get enough of this fragrance combo. It's sweet and sexy, and with the chocolate-y aroma from the cocoa butter, I just wanna grab a spoon, scoop it out, and eat it!

Lastly, we have lavender and vanilla absolute.  Lavender, ya know, is very calming and relaxing. I keep one of these on my desk at work (yeah, I have a 9-5...) After using that crappy hand wash in the ladies room, my hands are screaming for relief. I packaged these in 4 oz tins. This is really a lot of product. You literally only need a little bit-unless you're a total flake like me...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christmas Soap...On Halloween

So I'm reading some of my favorite soap blogs, and everyone is revealing their holiday offerings! I am so late-as usual. I have to start thinking and planning more like a business. Although it's only October (okay, tomorrow's Nov 1), retailers are already unveiling and debuting their Christmas stuff, so why shouldn't I? I am a retailer, after all. Sidebar: I am always hesitant to call a new soap a "holiday" soap because I don't want to be left with a lot of "holiday" stuff after the holidays have passed. That's just me...

Anyway, here is the soap, and I don't have an official name for it yet. It can be called a real "Palmolive" soap because it has just 2 oils: olive and palm. Sidebar #2: It wasn't until last year that I put 2+2 together to realize that Palmolive soap was named so because it was made with palm and olive oils. Duh...The main scent is a blend of balsam and pine-like a newly-chopped Christmas tree. This would make a great candle or tart scent (hint, hint). I was a little hesitant to use it in a soap because who would want to smell like a Christmas tree so I softened it a little with a few droplets of pomegranate for a bit of sweetness. The "Christmas bulbs" on top are scented in a delicate floral to further help balance out the pine-y aroma.

Sadly though the white part of the soap has morphed into a dark tan. I am completely out of titanium dioxide, but I still think it will be a cute soap in the end. Now I think I'll make some tarts in this scent. I really like it when my space smells like Christmas-even in the springtime!

Edit: Since it is Halloween, it's only fair that I share of picture of me looking absolutely ridiculous at the office party. Can you guess who I am?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Appearances Can Be Deceiving


I am convinced that that Dingleberry soap I made last month is cursed. I made some soap balls out of the trimmings and decided to use them in my newest batch of The Seduction Soap, and they are literally popping out of the soap. I had to “glue” them back in with some clear M&P soap. The soap itself is scented in Black Vetiver Café-a Jo Malone duplication. By the way, Jo Malone is the truth! My favorite scent by her is Nectarine Blossom Honey, and Sweetcakes carries a dead-on replication of it. It might be time to do something with that scent too…

Anyhoo, I added some coconut milk powder to the mix, and I didn’t incorporate it very well as you can see by the speckles throughout. It does give the soap character-yeah, right...

This scent is very woodsy and incense-y. I don’t smell any “café” at all. I smell pure mystery and sophistication (if you asked me what mystery and sophistication smelled like.) It’s definitely a grown-up scent and for those who don’t like floral, food-y, or sweet scents. Your guy could definitely use this soap, but I haven't decided if I'm going to list it or not. One oops soap is okay, but soon, I'm going to have to create a new category: JACKED UP SOAPS. We've already got a Soap Queen. I don't want to be the Soap Jester...teehee...

Friday, October 14, 2011

I Am Obsessed With Soap Molds!

My last post kinda hinted at my borderline addiction, but it's becoming a bit of an illness-this obsession I have with soap molds. Don't ask me why because I can't explain it. Ever since I started making cold processed (handmade from scratch) soap, it's always been more about the mold than the end result. Yes, yet another one of my many quirks. I'm really enamored of wooden soap molds. I just think they are the creme de la creme of soap molds. Every soap maker should own at least one wooden mold in my opinion. They're sturdy, rigid, and last forever, and they don't have to be "soap" molds per se.

Yes, it's stained and dirty, but I do line it before each use. Trust me, no dirty soap...
Above is a wooden box that I scored at White Barn Candle Co. about 5 years ago. It came with a candle set I bought, and I just happened to hang on to it after I used up all the candles. Making soap was the last thing on my mind at the time, but I am SOOOOOOOO glad I kept it. This is my official "slab" mold. I use this one for bulk soap orders mostly. Here are a few soaps I've made with this mold:

Vanilla Cake-This one looked so real and smelled like straight vanilla and butter. I can't duplicate it for the life of me!

Spellbound-A Vicky's Secret dupe

Okay, a beat up soap mold means it gets the job done!
This next mold is used in probably about 80% of my soap making. I got this one from Candles and Woodcrafts about 3 years ago, and sadly, they've closed shop indefinitely. This is a 3 or 4 pound mold (I can't remember), and it's the perfect size. I can get about 11,  5+ oz bars when I cut the loaf. If I had to buy this one over again, I would have chosen the hinged version as opposed to the pegged one because I'm always losing the pegs! Here are a few of my personal faves made with this mold, and again, can't duplicate them. It's always the experimental soaps that I never take notes on (duh!) and they turn out perfectly only never to be made again...

Dirty Sexy Soap. I blended patchouli essential oil and nectarine blossom. Fan-freaking-tastic!
Royal Soap-English tea rose

Lastly, is the score of the year! The Upland Soap Factory and Southern Soapers both closed shop this year (I was genuinely upset when SS closed), and Kelly, Southern Soapers' owner, announced on her Yahoo Group that she was selling off the last of her equipment including her prized Upland Soap molds. Some consider these the gold standard of wooden molds. The craftsmanship was said to be impeccable and top-notch, and I've always wanted one, but I am a tightwad in every aspect of my life. These molds started at around $60.00 and zoomed from there. So this is a major score because I copped this bad boy for 30 bucks! I guestimate this one to be around 2.5 pounds-maybe 3? Someone, lemme know if you know. I have yet to make any soap with it yet. I just received it the other day, and I'm going to use it to make my first holiday soap of the season.  What I love most about this mold? The silicone liner! No more lining with wax paper. YAY. No, double YAY!