Friday, February 29, 2008

Coconut Mango Bath Bombes

Here is one of my latest additions to my etsy site. If you have previously read my blog on Bombed Bath Bombes, you have an idea of the hazards of making these things :)..... not hazardous to the buyer of course.

Bath Bombes are such a magificent way to pamper yourself or someone you care about. These are fragranced with the tropical flair of Coconut and Mango that takes you away to a tropical place.Unfamiliar with a bath bombe? Simply drop one of these under warm, running bath water and watch them fizz up and distribute their delightful fragrance along with good-for-you oils that soften your skin and gives your bath water an added softness.The fragrance on your skin lingers long after the bath too.This listing includes a total of three bath bombes, 2 of them are regular sized and one is "bodaciously" sized for times when you need a little added stress-relief or uplift.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

So, introducing "the Day Job"

No, I don't sit in front of a computer all day and blog...and I don't make soaps and other body care products in my home all day long either. Neither do I sip on a margarita while lounging next to my pool overlooking some gorgeous scenery in a highly magical place (sigh).

Like so many other folks who have a heart for artistry and crafting, I have a paying job. I have a family complete with kids and hubby, dogs and fish, a home to care for and yard to keep up. Ah, yes....the American Dream.

My job outside of my crafting world is a bit unusual and it is something that most people would cringe at the thought of doing. I work in a correction know, with inmates...prisoners. The job has its rewards. The place itself is a bit depressing looking, after all it IS a correction facility. No pretty, bright wall hangings, no pretty matching decor, no "elevator music" to set a theme. No carpet, no pretty wallpaper designs. It is sparse, hard, cold and no-nonsense it its design. It has to be.

The job is demanding, tough...there is no "down time". There is no time when you let your guard down. There is no "playing on the computer when the boss ain't looking". I don't have time to think about my crafting when I'm there. I don't have time to foster new ideas for new designs. I save that for when I drive home at the end of the day if I have enough brain power left to do something besides think about getting home. Then, when I do get home, I make sure that the kids have done their homework, chores and have had dinner. I fix myself some dinner, through in a load of laundry, check my e mail and fall into my recliner before going to bed. They are 12 hr shifts, so I only do that 3 days out of the week and thank God that I have the rest of the week to take care of all the rest of my responsibilities. Somewhere in the midst of all that, I think of new ideas, design, create and sell soap, market my wares, blog, spend time with my family, go to church and enjoy life. Even though I don't have a pool overlooking some fantastic scenic view. I can't remember the last time I sipped on a margarita.

Is it worth it? Ask yourself in your own life, is what you do worth what you pay for to do it? Yes, I get overwhelmingly tired and ask myself that question over and over again. My job serves a purpose. It does NOT define WHO I am though. It is simply a means to an end. The end being to afford my home, pay my bills and allow me the luxury of doing my craft. My craft does not YET pay for itself. I hope that it will someday and allow me a little extra income in my retirement when I can devote a bit more time.

So, may be Day job be blessed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

What's a store without an occasional sale?

What's a store without an occasional sale?
Well, here's my sale.
I currently have a 10% off storewide sale through March 2nd, 2008.
However, if you happen to mention that you saw this blog on my blogsite, you get 20% off anything in the store.
How hard is that?
Save a few bucks, get great soap, read a little blog. What could be better than that?
Well, I COULD offer a free trip to Mazatlan, but I think you just dreamt that comment :)
Nope, free trips, just a sale.
Stop by and visit me at

Monday, February 25, 2008

Featured artist this week--- tlc designs

I've chosen to feature tlc designs on my blog this week. This piece shown here is one of my favorite designs of hers. If you go down a ways on my blog and look to your right, you will see a section and a link to her site. It is well worth checking it out.

Another trade

I recently traded another one of my items, some sachets that I have for this delightful sachet. It comes from whatshername.

Hand sewn with cute little shells sewn on and a delightful popourri fragrance. She even added some addtional popourri to my packing. Talking about opening up a fragranct package. Wow!
Whatshername has a variety of items on her site including dolls, wall hangings, pillows, magnets and bookmarks.
She has a great shop. Check it out!

A recent etsy trade

I recent traded some of my soap items from my store for these lovely earrings with another etsy artist.

My most recent trade was with rtisan

She has some really beautiful jewelry. She also has another site called rtisan2

It contains delightful original prints, puppets, art cards....all kinds of things.
Both of her shops are full of delightful items. Be sure and check rtisan out.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Blackberry Kumquat Soap with Pics this time

Ok, like I promised...I would add a picture of one of my latest soap creations.
This is my Blackberry Kumquat Soap
A bit bright, isn't it?
The stuff on top of the soap is dried Calendula blossoms (marigold) I thought they went very well with the soap color.
Tell me what you think.

The next soap I've made isn't near as pretty. In fact it is so ugly, I'm considering whether I should put it on at would probably do well for the ugliest soap contest. It's only saving grace is that it really has a nice fragrance.
Ugly duckling soap, lovely swanlike fragrance..... it is scented with rose, milk, oatmeal and honey. I'll have to put a picture one of these days when I get brave enough :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Cold Process vs. Melt and Pour Soaping

For those that don't make soap, I understand that this blog entry may be a bit confusing. Soap is soap for a lot of you. What's the big deal about soap as long as you get clean, right? Right. We shouldn't forget that the main purpose for soap being soap is because if its ability to make you clean and smelling good. You wash your hands with regularly (I hope!), wash your face, and the rest of your body with soap, whether it be liquid soap, cheapo industrial made bar soaps, freebee soaps from hotels or handmade soaps like mine. But, I am already digressing from the original subject and haven't ended the paragraph yet!

Cold process soaps are soaps that are made using a specific method called "cold process" which I won't go into in great detail but it is probably the most common method of making handmade bar soaps. You add purified water, lye, oils, and then dyes and fragrances if you choose. Ta daaaaa! Handmade soap. If you read my previous blog, you already know that it isn't exactly a simple no-brainer process though. Cold process soaping (also known as CP soaps) allows the soaper to add whatever ingredients she chooses to make a great bar of soap and there are some pretty inventive and creative cold process soapers out there on etsy. You have full control over what goes into your soap product. CP soaps take awhile before you can actually use the soap. It is several weeks from start to finish so the soaper really has to think ahead of time to when the soap will be ready for use.

Melt and Pour soaping is another method that is a simpler process. In a sense, the soap itself is already made. You are simply buying the base soap product, melting it down and then remolding into another shape. During the meltdown process, you can also add other ingredients that show your creative flair such as colors, micas, fragrances, exfoliants etc. to personalize the melt and pour soap. Melt and pour soaps (also called MP soaps) lend themselves well to putting into cute molds, layering with different colors, adding imbeds etc. The process is much more instantaneous than the CP method. The soap is ready right away after being made. So, it is really a wonderful creative soaping method. The drawback is that you don't have full control of what products went into the MP soap because you are essentially purchasing already made soap.

Many sellers choose not to delve into the MP soap world because they don't have full control of products going into it. On the other hand, many soapers find also that MP soaps sell well because they can be made simply, easily, quickly, and there is so many creative things that can be done with it.

As a consumer, your decision lies as to whether you are purchasing a soap to get you clean, know what is in your product, or love fancy and visually exciting soaps. If you love different shapes, imbedded items and fun soaps, chances are you are drawn to soaps made by the MP method. If you are looking for purity of product, knowing exactly what is in your soap and just want to get clean, you may be more drawn to the CP method. There are many CP soaps that are visually interesting to look at as well. All you need to do is check out some of the many etsy sites and see the variety of soap bars available.

I tend to keep most of my soap bars simple. That is just my choice, although my next bar has a little more visual excitement than some of my previous ones. It won't be ready until next month, called Blackberry Kumquat...puple and yellow. (See one of my previous blogs regarding it. I will have a picture out shortly). I also make MP soaps and large quantity because I've found a base MP soap that is a great base from which to start.

Hopefully, some of you are now a little more informed about what soaps are out there and what are getting for your buck :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

My First Experience at Making Soap

My first experience with making soap came from a box that I purchased at a craft store, which is not an unusual thing. Lots of folk start out that way. My reason for purchasing it may have been just a bit different though.

I had a couple of agendas. First, I wanted something to do with my kids that we could do together. My kids are preteen/teenager and I wanted something easy enough but would still catch their interest. Secondly, I had written a novel that initially included a character that made soap even though I knew nothing about making soap at the time. Unfortunately, I took the character out of the story because she was something of a side point rather than propelling the story forward. I hated doing it because I really enjoyed the character. She had grown on me so much that I wanted to know more about soapmaking.

So, back to the box. I took the box home and opened it up and saw all kinds of strange stuff that already LOOKED like soap. All I was going to do with it was melt it, remold it into a different shape, add color and fragrance. Simple enough. We did that as a family, had a great time doing it and made some really fun bars of soap. I realized that after I had done this, I still didn't know anymore about making soap than I did prior to buying the box. All I had done was learn the basic art of melt and pour soap art. I liked it, had fun with it but I wanted to know more.

I began researching the internet to find places where I could learn more about soapmaking and found some great places such as a magazine called "The Saponifier" that is all about soap, several sites that show you step by step how to make soap from "scratch" and several sites that sell supplies for such a thing. What I REALLY wanted was someplace nearby that actually taught me how to make soap, but found nothing at all.

Determined, I continued my search and finally gave up, bought some books on how to make the stuff, studied them for months on end, and researched the net for as much information as I could gather. I got on forums, asked questions, asked more questions, kept studying about rules and regs, importance of sanitary conditions in soapmaking, the dangers (yes, it can be dangerous if not handled properly when making it). It gave me a very healthy respect for the art of REAL soapmaking and I wondered if I really wanted to pursue making it or not.

Step by step, I continued until I felt brave enough to actually purchase all the ingredients to make my first batch of what is called "cold process soap". I set all the ingredients out in the order that I would be using them including all the utensils that I would be using as well. I felt fairly confident that I would make a great batch of soap. I started off making a small batch so halved the original recipe I had.

Because I am naturally creative by nature, I can't just make an exact replica of someone else's recipe. I can't help myself, but have to experiment, even just a little. In this particular case, I chose to use some fragrance oil that wasn't in the original recipe. I had read enough to know that this is frequently done and felt safe enough in attempting it, even on my first try. I also chose to one of those hand held beaters to mix my ingredients up rather than hand stir...another thing that I learned was done regularly and also speeded up the process a bit.

I donned my gloves, apron, and goggles and began mixing lye with water. Whoa! I forgot to open a window! That was toxic smelling! I held my breath till I got to the window! I forgot about that part of the instructions where it says "well-ventilated". After I caught my breath, I went back and checked the temperature of the water lye mixture and was amazed at how hot it was. I then began to start mixing my oils in a separate pot (stainless steel), and heating them up to the correct temperature until everything was melted. Once the oil and the lye/water mixture was of a similar temperature, I mixed the two mixtures together, first by hand and then chose to play with the hand mixer instead. Once I started to see some thickening (called trace) I added my fragrance oil. It smelled marvelous! Wow! This was going to be great! I continued using that hand mixture full speed ahead. I noticed that everything was completely mixed together but was hardening up so fast that I could barely get it out of the pot and into the mold fast enough. The books I read never said anything about this phenomenon. I was confused, but covered up my soapy mass and allowed it to "cook" overnight.

Next day, I took it out of its blanket and took a look. Something just wasn't right at all. This soap didn't look a bit like those pictures. It wasn't mixed very well together and looked like some sort of ucky yellowish blobby mass of goo. Still smelled great though. I waited and waited and allowed it cure a bit further, but it never changed the way it looked.

I researched a bit further and found out that I had done a few things wrong that my first books never talked about. My soap had "seized", meaning that it set up much faster than it was supposed to. I had throw the whole batch out!

Not wanting to give up so easily though, I started again. This time I followed the recipe exactly and was rewarded with some great bars of soap. I have since learned more advanced techniques and researched my ingredients further so that I can make some great bars of soap.

It has been a long time since that first experience at soapmaking occurred. Soapmaking the first time without a teacher nearby is not a method I would recommend now that I've been through that myself. I learned some things the hard way as a result, but learned them well. The great thing about making soap is that I am constantly learning new things about it. It is a challenging art and you must always remember that someone else will be using your creation on their skin. Never lose sight of that. I never lose sight of that when I am making soap. I test batch things and try it out myself many times before it goes out to others.

Great and responsible soapmaking is a long process of learning. It isn't something you can just decide to do one day and open up a store and sell soap the next. The more I know, the more I realize how much I still need to know.

Now, I can go back to my character in the novel and really write!!!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Alaska Series...Winter in North Central Alaska, an Introduction

In my previous blogs about Alaska, I spoke of traveling to Alaska in the wintertime and some exciting weather experiences.

Well, I am continuing on with that same theme now and will be talking about what I experienced during my FIRST winter in Fairbanks, Alaska.

If you have ever been to Fairbanks, it is quite different from what you usually see in the pictures on travel catalogs and it isn't anything like Anchorage if you are looking for a comparison. At least it wasn't when I lived there and that was a few decades ago...I refuse to say just exactly how long ago it was! Where Anchorage was kind of like the Seattle of Washington state, Fairbanks was more like the country cousin wannabee. And the problem is that the surrounding area isn't quite as breathtaking as Anchorage either. Top it off, the weather is CONSIDERABLY colder in the winter.

But Fairbanks isn't all negative either. There were things there that I would never have experienced in quite the same way as I would have in a more metropolitan area like Anchorage. Fairbanks is a larger Alaskan city that tends to stand alone...a beacon admidst all the tundra, mosquitos, cold and frontierism.

Fairbanks has a university...the University of Alaska in College, AK. Fairbanks has Fort Wainwright next door and Eielson Air Force Base just down the road apiece. Fairbanks has NOAA. Fairbanks has Blair Flats to the South, North Pole (the town) to the east with the Santa Claus House, Nenana down the other way with the great place to watch the ice breaking the spring (and making bets on it), the Yukon River to the North and some great hot spring resorts to warm up that cold body of yours.

Fairbanks has comfortable summers that are sunny and seldom cold, sunshine constantly 24hrs a day from June until fall and nearby Cleary Summit to check out the summer solstice.
Fairbanks also has some of the most cotton pickinest cold winters there are too. Too spend a winter....even one winter there, can make or break a person and there will be stories to tell for a lifetime afterward.

My first winter in Alaska was a culture shock, I admit. I arrived in the middle of January after driving there. You can read about that experience in some of my previous blogs. I never really got to SEE Fairbanks for the first 3 weeks I lived there because it was so amazingly cold (45 to 65 below zero everyday) that the city's pollution literally froze in mid air, causing a phenomena called "ice fog". Literally, frozen air pollution! By the end of 3 weeks, I was ready to fly back or die!!! I'd had enough! Then, something changed. The weather warmed up to a more pleasant 10 below zero and the sky was still relatively clear...the ice fog went away and nighttime was absolutely astounding! Clear as clear can be, the stars shown in a way I had never seen before. I could almost reach out and touch those stars. The northern lights (aurora borealis) were the most amazing sites I've ever seen...better than Disneyland. Well, maybe not, but close! If you have never seen the northern lights, it is well worth seeing it even just once if you get a really good view. Sometimes you can see them further south in the lower 48 states but they don't compare to anything like you see in Alaska.

The next time, I will talk about some strange experiences that you can only have in the coldest of climates and what happens when cabin fever hits.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Working Fool and the Bath Bombe that BOMBED!

I really am a bit envious of those of you out there who craft away and don't have to have that additional outside job to make ends meet. Yes, some of you make some financial sacrifices to make that happen...I understand that. would be so nice to pour more into my craft without the time constraints of a full time job too.

How many of you out there are working fools like me? Comment me and let me know how you feel about it.

How many of you out there are stay at homes? Comment me and let me know how you feel about it too. Is it as envious a position as I am imagining it is?

When I get another few days off, I plan to make some more springtime soaps and bath bombes. Haven't made any bath bombes in awhile and it would be a nice change. I have to be careful about when I make bath bombes or they don't turn out well. There's a story about that. OK, I'll tell you. It is one of my more humorous mistakes that I've made.

The BATH BOMBE that BOMBED!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was fairly new at making bath bombs when this happened. I believe it was my third attempt at bombing. For those who have no idea what a bath bomb is, it is a delightful little thing you add to your bath that can give your bathtime an experience that is decadent. The bath bomb can add a variety of things to you bath.... skin softening oils, water softeners, fragrance, color to the water, bubbles etc. It all depends on what is in the bomb. The reason it is called a bomb is because it is created to "fizz" up when it hits moisture (water) and acts like an alka seltzer in your bathtub, which is a fun, visual addition.

OK, I live in the part of the northwest U.S. that is well known for its wet climate. Rain, rain, rain all the time. Not good when you make bath bombs because even the humidity around it can cause it to react if it isn't encased in some sort of waterproof plastic or something. Because I was a bit new to bath bombing, I wasn't aware that they were THAT sensitive to their surroundings. I chose to make some delightfully lemon creme bath bombs on a very rainy, humid day. All went well at first. The fragrance was amazing, the bombs were colored a pale lemon. I put them molds and they were looking like big sellers!!! I put them out of their molds and allowed them to dry and harden up a bit more before I packaged them by putting them out on a plate. About 15 minutes later, I checked on them and all of them appeared to be "growing". They had expanded so that they were touching one another. Confused as to why they were doing that, I separated them and waited a bit longer. I checked back again and these things had doubled in size, lost their beautiful look and was beginning to look like ever increasing "blobs" of I don't know what. Frantic, I tried moving them somewhere else, tried to remold them, but it was too late, they kept growing and growing and pretty soon, all I had was one HUGE blobby mess that overfilled my plate. It smelled great, I admit to that, but otherwise, it was a disaster!

My kids loved the way it looked and had great fun checking out mom's "BLOB" monster.

Since that time, I have learned to be more picky about what days I choose to make bath bombs. If you have never tried a bath bomb, give it a shot sometime. I will be posting some on my etsy within the next week or so. I love molding them using my mini frog molds since I love frogs, but also use the mini muffin mold and "hockey puck" soap mold for them. By the way, the picture above is a rather poor picture of one of my first bath bombes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Ok, so it is still February and lots of places still have snow everywhere. I come from an area of the U.S. where the winters are rainy wet and really not very long and I already see hints of spring around me. I have early Snowdrops already blooming. Crocus's are coming up, daffodils are peeking through the ground and I see lilacs beginning to bud. My roses are beginning to show a few leaves. Yep! Spring is coming.
It is time to think about springtime soaps too. Pictured here is one of my loofah soaps with fragrance that is energizing and fresh...kind of like springtime. Time to think of flowers blooming and grass growing and all those delicate, fresh scents of springtime. I'm getting excited just writing about it.
Anyone out there reading this, what is your favorite springtime thing? Fragrance, flower, scenery, or memory?
By the way, I have a featured artist this week. Check out Fools and Jewels at
She has some awesome jewelry. I really love her stuff!!! There is some info about her in my Featured etsy artist section and one of her jewelry pics.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Blackberry Kumquat?

What is life without creativity? If I weren't constantly thinking about creating something, I'd go stark raving insane I think. It is a blessing....I think. There are moments when it can be quite bothersome too. Like, when I am supposed to be thinking about my job (yes, I work outside the home too). Sometimes, I have difficulty staying focused on my job because my mind is too busy creating some new thought or project. Frustrating at times.

But, beyond that, I love what I do and I really love my latest creative project. It is a heavenly scented soap called "Blackberry Kumquat". An odd mix? I thought so too at first. I spend hours and sometimes days comparing fragrance combinations to come up with the right thing. When I discovered this combo, I thought, "No way!" I tested it, having others take a whiff and give me their response. It was a unanimous "WOW! I want some of that!"

So, I took the fragrance and added it to my latest cold process soap formula, combining colors and fragrances until I came up with what I have sitting on my table where I make my soap, curing for the next several weeks. My family can even smell this from another room. My daughter said, "Mom, save a bar for me. I want to smell like the house smells right now. It smells sooooo good!"

Blackberries are quite common where I live. The berries are amazingly sweet but you have to get past the thorns to get to them. Kumquats are not native to where I live but I am very familiar with them. When I was a kid I lived in California and one of my friends had kumquats in their yard. She invited me over to her house one day to eat kumquats. I didn't know what a kumquat was but decided that she wouldn't lead me astray. A very interesting fruit, the kumquat. It is quite small, maybe the size of a key lime, but very orangy citrusy. Has a tangy/sour fruit center, but the skin is actually sweet...yes, you eat the skin too. Quite an odd little fruit, but the fragrance is sooo good.

When I found a fragrance oil that had kumquat, I had to give it a try.

The colors are a bit odd too....just like the soap. Swirled purple and marigold. I added calendula blossoms to the soap as well, so there is a sprinkling of calendula through and a calendula blossom topping. It matches with the marigold color and contrasts nicely with the purple.

Just in case you aren't familiar with calendula, it is another name for marigold. Marigold has wonderful healthful properties that has been used in folk medicine for....well, a really long time.

I will be taking pictures shortly. The soap should be ready just in time for Easter. Check out my pics by then. I wish I could let you take a whiff of this stuff. Ahhhh, but for now, it is for me to enjoy and for you to imagine!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Creative Diversity as a Calling in Your Life

Even though I currently work in the soap medium most of the time, I can't seem to limit myself in just one area. I also love to crochet, paint in oils, portrait drawings, beading, sewing, trapunto, poetry, writing novels and list goes on and on. The one really great thing that I love most of all is that GOD is so diverse and He created my ability for diversity. I love the fact that I can take anything I see and apply it to a variety of different mediums. God has so blessed me with creative diversity as well as life skills diversity. He has spoken that word "DIVERSITY" into my life over and over again. I am not to limit myself in just one area but should expand into a variety of areas in my creativity and in my home, church and work life. He has blessed me immensely with this ability and I thank Him with all my heart for this.

For the longest time, I would read books that would ask me to pinpoint and focus my interests into a single area and to work to perfect that. These statements would frustrate and upset me, sometimes depress me because I felt that maybe I would "never get God's calling because I couldn't make up mind." God has spoken against that in my life, saying that I am a "woman of diversity" and this in itself is a gift from Him as well. As a result, I have not limited my creative, ministerial and work areas into just one place. God has sooooo much more planned than that.
My suggestion to everyone is to listen to God and not men when it comes to your giftings and how you should use them. He is the expert. I have listened and have been blessed as a result.

My diversity is my gifting and I plan on using it.