Saturday, October 31, 2009

You Never HEARD of THIS?

What? You never heard of this kind of handmade soap? It's amazing! Made from real Japanese Plum wine, it has the sweet, heady fragrance of the sweet dessert wine, plus an added berry wine fragrance to make it a "dessert soap".

Each bar is hand-cut, approximately 3 oz each.

Talk about lather! This soap has lather that doesn't quit; and leaves the lingering scent of the soap behind.

The perfect holiday gift! This was the first time that I used the plum wine for soap-making and it turned out wonderful! The texture is hard, smooth and I'm amazed at the lather it produces! Must be all those ingredients in the plum wine that has made the difference.

Extra precautions had to be made when mixing the wine with the sodium hydroxide due to the sugar content in the wine, the mixture heated up very quickly and was quite hot initially...even though the wine was chilled prior to mixture. I added the sodium hydroxide slowly to prevent over heating and "boiling over" of the mixture.

But the end results were worth the extra precaution.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  It is currently available on my etsy site and will soon be available on the rest of my shops sites.

"...Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Nehemiah 8:10

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Luscious Pink Grapefruit

Luscious pink grapefruit scented handmade soap. Sweet and tangy all at the same time. Plus soap that doesn't leave your skin feeling dry and itchy. Perfect for a soothing bath after a hard-working day!

This has been one of my favorites and one of my best sellers! I still have a few left.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love this Adorable Item from Critters and Crafts

This reversible snuggle bag for small dogs that measures 25" x 23" and has a soft fleece with a cute puppy pattern on it on one side and a soft denim on the reverse side. It can also be used to pad a crate or use as a cushion on furniture or floor.

Great for the burrowing dogs like the doxies, or chihuahuas (My chis would LOVE this!) The fleece is cuffed over the denim and sewn. All seams are double stitched. The corners are tacked down so the layers will stay together.

This adorable item can be found on Critters and Crafts etsy site at:

Check this and many of her other adorable items!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

What to do When There Just Isn't Quite Enough!

A few weeks a go I was on a soap making binge! I made about eight different batches of soap in less than a week and still had ideas cooking in my head.

Problem was, I ran out of ingredients! Most of the time I can make a substitution or two and not sacrifice soap quality, but this time it was different. I ran out of sodium hydroxide (Lye), which is the ingredient that makes soap what it is...SOAP! Without it, there is no chemical reaction of the oils mixed with it that hardens it into a viable bar of soap and has great cleansing action.

This is not an ingredient you can just hop over to the store and buy. They don't sell it craft stores. It is definitely a specialty item that requires special care in handling.

So, here was my problem. I was busy making my next, and last batch of soap, although I didn't know it at the time. I had my oils ready, I had my colors ready, my fragrance oil ready, had my liquid ready (in this case, it was wine). I had donned my apron, my gloves and my mask and my tools were out and ready to go. I carefully measured my sodium hydroxide out....and there was only half as much as what I needed!


This stuff has to be measured out according to the content of the oils and I didn't have near enough!

Not to be thwarted by a small (?) planning glitch, I quickly re-evaluated how much soap I COULD make with that amount of sodium hydroxide. A few more minutes and I was on my way again, only making less than half of a batch. I had to revamp my soap mold to create a smaller version too! I typically used an antique countertop drawer lined with wax paper. It has wooden dividers in it to make smaller molds. I was already using a smaller mold and the only way I could make it even tinier was to create another temporary divider. I quickly grabbed a thick piece of cardboard, cut it to fit the loaf mold, placed it inside the mold and relined it with wax paper. I used the leftover bottle of wine to hold the cardboard more securely in place by placing it inside the mold just behind the cardboard.

Voila! It was a REALLY tiny loaf mold! I made the soap, poured it in the mold, realizing that it was going to be pretty small in height, even with the cardboard adjustment. I'd worry about that later.

When it came time to unmold the soap and cut it, I knew I had to do something to compensate for the smallness of the soap. I ended up cutting the loaf into small guest sized (1 to 1.5 oz each) bars, and wrapped them in cute organza bags.

There you have it! The creation of my guest sized BERRY WINE soaps!
Fun little soaps wrapped in organza with the decadent fragrance of berry wine!
This soap is made using real wine to provide your skin with all the ingredients that wine contains. (Yes, there are ingredients in wine that your skin LOVES!)

This is a hot process method soap which means that the fragrance usually doesn't change as the soap cures. This scent smells just like a heavenly Merlot sweetened by Raspberry, Blueberry and just a hint of Blackberry. This fragrance is a great scent in the fall, when the leaves turn their gorgeous shades of red, orange and yellow.

I put a lot of innovative ad-libness to this batch!

Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Commercial "Natural" Soaps

The bigger companies are noticing that "natural" soap is an increasing popular item and are capitalizing on it and producing their own versions.

I actually was unaware of that since I make my own soap and really don't pay much attention to what the commercial guys are up to.

That was a mistake. I should've been paying more attention.

Strolling through my local grocery store today, I happened to find myself in the "soap" section. I was totally amazed at the amount of "natural" and "designer" soaps that the BIG companies are producing now. Less than a year ago, I happened down that same section and took a look and there was barely a bar of soap to be found! Everything was liquid body washes and such. There were only a few of the very basic soaps that most are familiar with...and that was all there was.

Now, there are all these claims to "glycerine" soaps, "natural" soaps, special fragrances in the soaps and all kinds of designer scents. I was completely floored!

Curious, I picked up one of the "natural" soaps and read the ingredients. Floored again, I couldn't believe was I was seeing for their "natural" ingredients. Very vague wording, it all sounded good to the lay person who doesn't know about soap ingredients, but I wasn't fooled a bit! Some of the soap ingredients didn't even label the botanical names of anything, which I thought was a labeling requirement! I label all my ingredients on my soaps in both common and botanical names, why do they get away without doing that?

Maybe because it wasn't "natural" after all.

Most of the "designer" soaps were nothing more than a waxy cube of detergent with a couple of natural additives and fragrance!

Well, the price was good anyway! They were charging at least 1/3 of what I can charge for a bar of soap. If I could charge that much and make a living at it, I most certainly would! But, because I really do make soap the way it was intended to be made, I can't do that.

Don't be fooled by the bargain price. It isn't such a bargain, and you aren't getting what you probably think you're getting. It's all in the wording and clever advertising.

Clever advertising...I guess I need to work on that! Clever, yes, but not misleading...where does one draw the line? Nope, I don't do well at misleading! I want my customers to be totally in the know about what they are purchasing.

Maybe that's why I won't make millions at this, but at least I've maintained my integrity.

And that's OK.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's Sunday Morning...and Everything to Do!!!

It was so nice for me to get away for a few weeks a few months ago...first time in years, yes, years! Now, I'm back into "the routine" again and slowly the "must dos" and "ought to dos" are building back up again.

The Lord designated a day of rest, probably realizing that life's little battles overcome the best of us sometimes and we need a break. It's up to us whether we decide to take heed to God's suggestion (used to be a commandment to the Israelites) that's how important it was.

Now, I work full time at very stressful job, so that takes lots of hours out of my time where I could be doing other things, like making soap, cleaning my house, fixing meals, and spending quality time with my family.

I've broken it down into hours designated to what I do, more or less:
1 week =7 days, which there are 24 hours in a day
7X24= 168 hours in a week! Whoo hoo! That sounds like a lot, doesn't it?

I work 36 hours of it, plus lunch break (.5 hrs) plus the hour commute both ways
168-37.5= 130.5 hours left in my week! Not bad, or so it seems.

My time at home, let's say just doing the bare minimum basics of "domestic management" such as housecleaning, preparing meals, washing clothes and outside chores...and I'm talking BARE minimum per week, are around 12 hours per week.
130.5-12= 118.5 hours left. Well, OK, still doesn't sound too bad, does it?

Oh, now I have to talk about spending time with my family. I've got a hubby and 2 teenagers still living at home. I honestly think teens take more time than toddlers! Just in different ways! (Guitar lessons, voice lessons, shopping for "just the right" clothes that mom will approve of), shuttling to friends and back, school games, dances, get-togethers, parties, competitions, school shopping, Dr. and dentist appointments, take daughter to driving lessons, help her find a job. The list goes on and on and on. My hubby work opposite shifts, so we try very hard to spend at least a few hours during our work week with each other, and have at least ONE day off together every other week. Try to break this down into hours per week, I'd have to average about another 10 hours per week...and that is probably a bit short.
118.5-10= 108.5 OK, I'm still over 100 hours per week. Still sounds good, right?

Wait a minute! I have SLEEP sometime during all this! I SHOULD give myself 8 hours of sleep every night, although I seldom actually sleep 8 hours! Well, just to be healthy, I'm giving myself that time anyway, in case I do!
8 hours of sleep every night is 56 hours per week.
108.5-56= 52.5 hours Uh-oh, this is starting to sound like a time crunch!

One recent thing that I've begun for my own health and sanity is to workout in a gym at least 3 times a week. That usually takes 2-3 hours each time, given the getting dressed,driving, warming up, working out, cooling down, showering, getting dressed and coming back home again. I'm giving myself 9 hours a week for this.
52.5-9=43.5 hours Hmmm...

I'm a devout Christian and spend time reading and studying the Bible, going to church etc. I'd like to spend more time, but given my circumstances, it doesn't seem to be happening. I will average probably about 6 hours per week in these endeavors.
43.5-6=37.5 hours It is really starting to dwindle.

Oh, that's right! I run a business too! Making soap if you haven't already figured that out. I generally spend one entire day every week devoted to my business, about a 10 hour day, plus little snippets during the rest of the week that probably amount to another 10 hours, just making soap, wrapping soap, cutting soap, unpacking soap supplies, re-stocking, printing labels, making supply lists, preparing for craft fairs etc, preparing soap for shipment, and shipping them, taking pictures. That equals about 20 hours per week.
37.5-20=17.5 hours YIKES!

What I mentioned about the soap DOESN'T include my time promoting online or many of my other online things I do that are related to my soap, such as listing my soaps online, coming up with the perfect description of my soap, editing pictures, twittering, facebooking, and all the other online, soap-related things I do. I typically spend 2 hours per day doing those things, which is a pretty conservative number, if you ask my kids and hubby.
That's 14 hours per week...
17.5-14=3.5 hours!

OK, I now have 3.5 hours per week left over to do whatever I feel like! Almost like heaven!

Uh-oh, the dog just threw up on my carpet. I forgot that I have a dentist appointment this week! The dishwasher just broke. My computer is acting goofy and won't upload my pictures. I ran out of milk and need to make another trip to the store for groceries that I didn't intend to do. I THOUGHT I had enough material for soap packaging, but apparently didn't, so now have to make an emergency trip to JoAnnes for a small supply until my order comes in....

There goes my 3.5 hours!!!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Apple Harvest Soap

This soap smells like a fresh apple after biting into it. Delightful! Leaves your skin feeling soft and supple after using. All the glycerin has been retained to give your skin extra love.

I used coconut oil for suds, palm oil for hardness of the bar, castor oil because it gives great lather quality to the bar, shea butter and avocado oils for extra love for your skin.

Each bar is hand-cut, approximately 3-4 oz each. No two are exactly alike. Although it is somewhat round on purpose, I decided NOT to add a little worm coming out the side. A soapy stem on top might've been fun though.

"Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings" Psalms 17:8