Saturday, March 30, 2013

In regards to Tiger Stripes...

All I have to say TONIGHT at least is this:  If you intend to do anything with "tigers" will need a better fence!

 Details to follow after I have slept on this one....but for now...I really mean it...if it contains the word "Tiger" make sure your fencing can keep one contained... :(

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Special Soap...

If you see that picture, and you can see through my impressionistic manner of soaping, then you may or may not get it....I hope you do get matter what you feel or believe...

That my dearies is lemon verbena scented goat milk soap...a TEENY was a test run of sorts.  If (and I bet I will) I make this design again, then I will do proper imbeds so it looks more like this:

Do you get it now?  I hope so...because here is the thing...

I don't care who you are, where you came from, or what you do with yourself - as long as you treat me well and kindly I will do so in return.  This was my "soapy way" of showing that I don't care who wants to marry who...actually if you ask me, I think allowing gay marriage would be grand for the soap makers of this country.  Just think of how many more wedding favors we could make and sell out of soap if we added a whole new demographic to the wedding scene ya'll! Plus then you add in how costly weddings are anyways and the boost THAT would bring to the economy in general - sure, it's a small one, but every little bit helps these days right? I just don't see any reason why the government should say who can and can't get married...and I choose to show it in soap.

While we are at it, let's be honest.  First of all - there's that whole "separation of church and state bit" - remember learning about that?  Church stuff and government stuff are not supposed to be mingled...okay...So THEN we take the whole "marriage thing" and make it totally a government thing! No really, they took a good deal of the "church" part out of weddings when they required licenses to do so (gotta pay someone down at the courthouse to get it), made filing your taxes different if you are married, and then look at divorces which are SO a big huge money maker for the local government with how costly they are in court fees and such....

Sure, any church still has the right to say what is acceptable in their beliefs and all and any church can choose not to recognize something for whatever reason - there in comes the freedom of speech part I suppose.  But, in my eyes, as far as the government goes they don't have the right to deny same sex couples getting married because the ONLY thing have to quote is religious text and and that isn't right because it goes right back to the first part - separation of church and state - can't use religious stuff as an argument when you work for the state if you are supposed to keep the two separate....there are just WAY too many differing variations and such in each religion and each version of the Bible and what not...

If all people are created equal and all people truly have equal rights, then let whoever marry whomever and rake in the cash from it ya'll!  There WILL be money to be made I promise you!  Think of all the fees collected on marriage licenses, think of all the fees collected on divorces later, and think of all the wedding stuff us handcrafters and small business people can sell!

Also...while they're at it...let's see about getting me a second wife in here to do the dishes and the laundry so I can spend all my time riding horses, making soap, and hanging out with the goats...well...I dunno...maybe... :) Love or hate my point of view, you have to admit the bottom line is there is a potential for all of us to make a little $$$ with this one if it passes ever - so don't be so judgmental on what's right and wrong...start seeing how it COULD be right for you and you may just change your mind!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shopping for the Soap Challenge....

Okay, so all things are a go with the Soap Challenge :)  Happy dance, happy dance, right?  I have most of what I need...kinda...sorta...except I needed to stock up on a few things anyways.  Challenge or not, mama is running low on castor oil and such...and a few new colors here and there never hurt any soapers collection right?  So I logged in to do a little shopping today...

Now...if you know me, you know one of my closest friends has not one, but 2 sons and BOTH are on the "autism spectrum".  I love them to bits - her oldest son who is the most affected is actually my "farm hand" and comes down to help out around the farm all the time!  He enjoys it, and I enjoy the company. He gets a sense of responsibility from helping out, it's a job for him, and I get someone to help drive me towards getting stuff done instead of procrastinating (which I am spectacular at by the way). He's "chomping at the bit" as his mother says, to come down and help out when I am lounging on the couch being is a total win-win for us to be paired up. So, what does this have to do with soap???

Well, one of my favorite go to suppliers is Wholesale Supplies Plus   Not only do they do free shipping (which is glorious on some stuff like oils - the shipping on a jug of palm or coconut oil can be KILLER!), BUT...if you have ever shopped there and paid attention when you go to check out you will realize they do a "donate the change" type thing....and guess where you change goes???  To a charity benefiting AUTISM!!!!!
Why yes, they hit so close to home with that one, I can't help but love them for it! 

There are a million and one good and charitable causes out there, and I am a million and one dollars shy of being able to give to all of them.  But tossing in my change when I can is what I do.  The little collection thing at the McDonalds drive thru window - yup, gets my change.  The jar at the feed store for the guy in the motorcycle accident - it gets my jingle too.  So by adding a "virtual" option similar to that, my winner for the day is Wholesale Supplies Plus! If you too need a few things to do the soap challenge...stop by there and don't forget to let them have your change.  It goes to a good cause :)

Soap and autism...who knew they had anything in common right?

Friday, March 22, 2013

I think I wanta take the "Soap Challenge"...

Okay, so if you know about soap, I bet you know about Great Cakes Soap Works .  Not only does she have an awesome blog going, but an amazing youtube channel full of nifty awesome videos as well.  Being a house that no longer does traditional cable but instead uses a "Roku" box I tend to spend my tv time watching other soapers and such on youtube - I don't get a lot of sit down time with running the farm ya know? And soap videos are usually shorter than a movie and thus I can commit to them easier :)  Anyways, point being if you haven't seen her stuff you SO need to go check it out!  Just awesome soapy wonderfulness!

So...this whole "Soap Challenge thing" right?  What is that?  Well...basically it's being challenged to try out something new each week for a few weeks with your soap making skills - and 2 of the things on this years challenge are ones I SO have been meaning to try out!  Leopard spotted soap (which I believe I mentioned prior) and the "Elemental swirl".  I have been meaning to get in the soap room and give these things a this kind of gives me the incentive to make sure I do before the goats start kidding :) I think the hardest part will be holding back and not running in there to make all of them now LOL :)

I say that joking AND in all honesty - I don't know if I can wait for the final week because the final week is the week of the next goat show and while I am more than likely not going to be showing any goats I am going to be taking some "me time" to travel to it which requires a ton of work to prep for leaving this place for a weekend.  AND THEN I have baby goats due that I have to get ready for (the earliest they should be here is the Monday after the last soap is due but there is much prepping to be done and udders to be shaved and such) I dunno...I asked tonight if it is cheating if we skip ahead a bit. We will have to see what the answer is.  I figure I already have a plan in mind for the Leopard I could do that one the week she has scheduled "off" and post it and then it won't be on my plate the week I am prepping for "Goat Madness".  Fingers crossed she says yes to it!

I am so excited!  I keep meaning to start being active in stuff and this year I think I am finally finding balance between the farm and the "outside world" - it's hard to squeeze in people to your life when you have so much animal stuff to do, but I am gonna try!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Importance of Note Taking and Black Raspberry Vanilla :)

I am the world's worst person about jotting down all sorts of notes in all sorts of places!  No really...twice a year at least I find myself cleaning out this house and having to rewrite all of this valuable information into notebooks that won't be lost - and some of it is not so valuable and gets thrown out....but with a few things I am positively anal and much better.  My goats and my soaps - these things I stay on top of meticulously!

I had someone inquire the other day what they needed to start making soap and on the top of my list was "Notebook".  I wasn't always as good as I am now about taking notes and it came back to bite me a few times...

Like the time I concocted a really awesome bar of soap with an even more awesome fragrance I had mixed up out of left over bottles...yup, you guessed it, the post it notes with all that info got lost never again to resurface and I have never quite gotten it exactly right again....or the time I played with the soap calculator and THOUGHT I had an awesome recipe only to realize later that it traced too fast to do anything with...yup, you guessed...that envelope I had written it on wandered off and somehow - oh joy of joys - I DID manage to recreate that soap on a stick mess once more!  Taking notes really helps.  I recreate almost exactly the same soap I have made once before OR I can totally avoid another hot mess!

So, when I went into the Soap Room the other night, I grabbed my notebook and did a remake of Black Raspberry's been a while since I made this soap and everyone loved it last time!  So, I didn't want to go changing it up entirely, I wanted something easily recognizable for what it was right?

I followed the same recipe, using the same fragrance from the same supplier and even the same colors as much as possible....I think it turned out mighty nicely :)
The lighting even cooperated for a change...well...actually, I just timed it better getting in there to take pictures haha! I think it looks like a raspberry patch with all the berries and leaves and shadows you'd see out in nature...that's what it reminds me of and it smells yummy too!

So, keep good notes and you'll be able to make more of something just the same as it was before (or avoid it completely) and don't forget to take pictures too!  I am still bad about getting photos of stuff for reference...but I'm working on it :)

Now...what should I do with myself today????

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Goats Eat Oats...

Well, my goats used to eat oats - but now they eat fodder and that my friends is a whole different blog!  Actually...that's what I call oatmeal, milk and honey soap - "Goats Eat Oats" - and it's turned out just scrum-diddly-umptious!

The white is a portion I didn't put any honey or oats into because to me it represents the goat milk in it visually...that honey has a strange way of making what my husband calls "caramel soap" LOL...he really likes the color and texture of this one.  Since he is mostly color blind I figure it's a good thing he can pick out the colors and contrasts in this bar as he asks for it more than any other.  He also has wicked allergies and never asks for anything by it's proper scent and when you top that with being color blind half the time when he wants a particular bar I make him walk in the soap room and say "Just point at it!!!"  But when he says he wants my caramel soap I know he means this one.  He also calls it the "no wash cloth bar" sometimes because of the ground oat flour in it - he travels for work and some hotels he gets stuck at have crummy towels so he takes this one with him when he leaves hence "no wash cloth" is needed due to it's natural exfoliating scrubbiness.  A welder needs all the scrubbiness he can get from a bar of soap some days too, so it's a really REALLY good thing he likes this one right?

The honey comes from a local producer out of Lovelady.  A place named Lovelady HAS to make some great honey right?  I sure do like it's hard to stay out of the honey stash when it's this good and we have a strict rule here.  If you get caught dipping in my soap honey I will get a bee hive so we ALWAYS have honey.  Hubby isn't fond of bees so he stays outta my stash...

And finally cut, edges raw, but in bar form with morning light streaming in to blind me...I need to start cutting stuff later in the day I think...just a few white swirls inside to match the top and all kinds of naturally soothing and exfoliating oatmeal goodness plus the ever present goat milk and honey! MMMMmmmm....scrum-diddly-umptious I said!

Nope, no fragrances, no froo froo colors or such.  I like my few "natural" bars that I make to be all the way natural as much as possible.  I know... I KNOW!  The oatmeal honey fragrances are delicious!  But this one really has a light, slightly oaty smell all of it's own that I love :)

I actually made this a few days ago now - been side tracked by spring cleaning the outside of the house the last few days - but I just think that this batch came out lovely with honey from Lovelady and milk from my herd  (and ground oats from WalMart because I am not that kind of farmer...) :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Hands as Steady as a Parkinson's Patient....

No really - I say that in all honesty.  Some days I wonder about myself, but I am not that fond of doctors and in no mood for a diagnoses...but let's just say I seriously have the least steady hands of anyone I know.  I use the phrase Parkinson's Patient in the title here because it's grandmother AND her sisters ALL had Parkinson's - it's something else to live with that's for sure.  So I know my slight tremor in my hands and inability to sit still without random twitches is probably a sign I am headed that way myself...

Now, what does that have to do with soap?  This:

That would be my cherry almond scented soap - yes, goat milk soap like always - look closely, closer...

You can tell the hands that piped those cherries and stems are NOT steady hands - so I added glitter :P  Sparklies cover up my shaky hands.  Well, not really, but they add a little distraction that's for sure!

It still looks pretty good, and since I am never going to have steady hands and one day it MAY get worse I'm over it.  For now, for me, it's freakin' awesome! This is also why you won't be seeing cupcake soaps here anytime soon.  I can do some piping and frosting type designs - but limited easy stuff.  If it gets too complicated my hands get all shaky, and the design turns into a blob - no bueno I declare!  I am gonna have to stick primarily to swirls and drizzles and layers and such.  Things that don't need precision are more what my hands can handle.

I got the idea from a Soap Queen blog - she did apples - but I don't really like apple scents.  I did have cherry though...totally perfect for the design with a few tweaks!

Also...I forgot to post pics of the sleepy time soap after I cut it!
I think the colors are perfectly divine versions of purples! And it came out just how I had pictured it...this how my mind is when I go to sleep with lavender in the room.  All floaty foggy purple happiness with a little fluffy cloudy dream topping!  I know - I'm so one of those crazy impressionist artists aren't I?  But, me likey :)

I'm thinking maybe this evening I want to do a fresh batch of oats, milk, and honey OR maybe black raspberry vanilla with a peacock swirly top....I dunno just yet.  Today is actually a "work outside all day" kind of day.  So tonight I may just go right to bed lol :)  We shall see....guess I better head back out tho....

Friday, March 15, 2013

Where the Buck Stops and the Soap Starts....

Above is Starmaker - our nubian buck....wee bit fat, I know.  But ain't he a looker?  Snapped that pic a while ago now, but it's still my favorite of him all happy tail wagging while he munches on yaupon...He is where my soap really begins.

Bet someone is wondering what he has to do with soap huh?  Well, without him and his bucky saanen sidekick "Crisco" I would not be making soap.  That's right, no bucks = no milk = no soap! 

For those that don't know, here's the run down (it gets a little blunt and pg13 rated for a paragraph ya'll, not that bad but - be warned)....A doe (female goat) needs to kid (give birth) in order to produce milk.  In order to do that you need a buck to do the in theory at least, my soaps and lotions start with 2 goats bumpin''s a farm...not just a little graphic and full of the facts of life but true. Without that guy above and the udder below I probably wouldn't make soap... milk for my products comes from here (and a few others) twice a day, fresh as can be :)  Sure...I freeze it before I soap with it to help with the whole "lye heats it up thing" and I always pasteurize it prior to putting in a lotion or sugar scrub (gotta be sure to kill off any nasty stuff since it'll be sitting around a bit ya know?).  But we drink it fresh, chilled and raw. I also make cheese and yogurt and such...but we still have PLENTY of milk left over from that!  Sometimes, we even have baby goats to help drink it up lol...but not always and a doe can "stay in milk" (meaning she makes milk - duh right?) for at least ten months around here while baby goats are often long gone by then. We sold the last goat from the last kid crop back in January (we bottle raise - whole 'nother blog ya'll) so I have had milk, milk, and more milk for a while now totally kid free! Currently I get about 3 gallons a day from 3 does...that's a lot of creamy goat milk goodness!  If you've never had it fresh and raw you HAVE to try it out!  So so so much better than store bought goat OR cow milk!  And so many awesome benefits too!  (But that my friends is another day and another post...)

 I know a lot of others buy goat milk to put in their soaps and I think they are missing out (though I know not every one has a place to put goats)...but it makes me kind of sad because the joy of owning goats is part of the fun!  Yes, it's work too...but I love my herd! If you've never had a need a few...I'm just saying...I love having our goats, no matter how much work they make for me:

Even when they do stupid, bad things, like climb on the picnic table behind the house....

Or when the baby in that belly has a super creepy looking "Alien moment" and sticks a hoof out like that to say hello...see it poking out the side there?

Or when they reach over to steal something out of my pocket...she was taking my cell phone when I got that pic with my other camera...Lucy is nosey...
And the baby goats that take my spot at the kitchen table and crowd me out of my chair can be obnoxious....

It's all worth it for those quiet moments when you look out and they are being good and eating and doing appropriate goat things! (Plus, the baby goats are REALLY super adorable when they aren't getting into stuff!) The fresh milk is priceless too :P

This is where my milk comes from.  This is where my soap and lotions and such start...because lord knows we get enough milk lol...I have a freezer full AND a fridge full as I type!  Sure, I make cheese and such too...but it's not the same as soap making.  Cheese = cooking = work and dishes I have to wash....soap making = fun experiments and artsy stuff and dishes that practically wash their sudsy selves! You can't really go putting glitter and shimmery micas and swirls in your cheese now like you can with yout's just not the same...I mean, I guess I could, but I wouldn't want to eat cheese with glitter on top.

This ya'll, this is where the buck stops and the soap starts for me and even though most days I have a hard time finding time for evrything, I love every single minute of it when I look back. Without the herd I never would have started soaping :)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Drawing Inspiration from others...

I often draw inspiration and ideas from other soapers and their blogs and websites.  Let's be honest here:  I am crafty but not creative.  Yes, there is a difference between the 2! 

Crafty people are very good at copying patterns and recipes - they may have a bit of creativity as I feel I do and they may be able to change things up just so as to make it look a tidly bit different.  But ultimately, they draw inspiration from others and not from within.

Now, creative people are also crafty, but they have the added touch of being able to pull random, clever and original ideas out of their own minds.  I do NOT have that ability!  I do, like I said, draw my inspiration from them...take for example this one:

Oil and Butter is one of my faves to see what is going on!  I LOVE the leopard spots and want to try it in the next batch of soap...or maybe the one after it...with Love Spell as the scent.  I do want to change up the color scheme some though...just haven't decided on one yet.  But the whole blog is just so well done, with gorgeous soaps and photos!  It gives me something to try out, new and different stuff, I LOVE it!

Then there is Soaping 101 on youtube - another one I love to watch over and over lol....for someone who doesn't watch much t.v. I sure do like to watch a lot of soap making on youtube!  I saw her video on altered mica lines, happened to have a bunch of shimmery micas given to me by another soaper that weren't great IN cold process soaps, but work PERFECTLY for this technique (I discovered now that I have played with them) and I never would have thought of it if I hadn't seen her do it first!

The Soap Queen  herself is another one who pops up with great ideas that I often find myself needing to try out at least once - one of her latest is a soap with little "apples" on top...I want to do the same thing, but change it to cherries for my cherry almond soap I intend to make...and I never in a million years would have thought of that on my own...I'm just not creative, but I am crafty enough to follow directions :P

Please remember, like "Teach" says in her mica line video - give credit where credit is due!  That kinda hit me last night - I like to post pics of clever things I make, but I had been forgetting to let ya'll know where my bright ideas come from!  So...if you ever get an idea from another soaper, share the source of that idea with others. And...there's been rumors of all sorts of crazy thievery going around the internet lately.  From fodder to soap to lotions...people will stop at nothing to make a buck I tell ya!  Just keep in mind, to be blunt, karma is a BITCH!  Don't steal - it will come back to bite you in the ass when you least expect it! Trust me...I've seen it happen to dishonest people time and again...honesty is ALWAYS the best policy ya'll!

Now, go check out those links and tell me you don't get like a million zillion ideas for things you want to try yourself!  It's so hard to resist experimenting with designs after you see those lovely pictures!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On a roll...Sleepy Time is saponifying as I type...

Actually, it's a fragrance called "Bed Time Bath"....but I am undecided if I want to call it "Sweet Dreams" or "Sleepy Time".  I know some people feel you should use the original name of a fragrance as your name - but to me it's a bit like cheating when I soap a dupe (short way of saying copy of a scent) and I don't give the name a new spin.  I mean, come on now...I'm already using a scent another big name brand froo froo fancy pants place markets, the very least I can do is call it something else right?

There it is, just before I stuck it in the freezer for a bit...when I unmold and cut it I'll be sure to post pics.  On my camera you can barely see the pale lavender shimmery swirly top - it's much prettier and more vibrant in person though.  It's a Nature's Garden fragrance, smells just like the real deal, behaved pretty well in my soap too :) I'll leave ya'll guessing on how the inside looks...for now...but soon there will be a new picture! Let's just say I am keeping my fingers crossed that I managed to whip up 2 of the most perfect colors EVER and I'm keeping my toes crossed that I can get them just right like that again next time I soap this scent...because there will be a next time with this one. It's just that heavenly to smell.

I must say I love this one and anticipate it flying out of here pretty fast - it's a classic for sure and one of the few floral things I like to boot! Until next time my friends....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

"Antique Rose" - a Hot Process Adventure

Yesterday afternoon I made a batch of castile soap.  Well, you could actually call it "Bastile Soap" as another soaper coined the term elsewhere.  Castile is a 100% olive oil soap and mine has a tidly bit of castor and coconut oil in it - and don't forget the goats milk!.  Castile is supposed to be very mild, lovely to use...but I feel it's a bit less bubbly than I like my soaps to be, which is why I add the other 2 oils.  I had started to make it just plain old castile soap with no scent and then I changed my mind and added the "fresh cut roses" fragrance oil from Nature's Garden.  I'm hoping that by working with a hot process soap the scent will stick a bit better since it won't have the initial battle with the lye to survive AND I had wanted to do a mild soap for this very mild scent....I always make this recipe hot process because it cures MUCH quicker - a few weeks instead of a few months.  Patience...something I can be short on :P it is. All cut into bars but still needing the edges trimmed up...

Pardon the glare from the morning was awful early when I went it and cut it...but you get the idea right?  I think I shall call it "Antique Rose" since it's kinda old fashioned looking. 

The adventure comes in with the fact this is a new to me first in the bottle I thought it was kinda weak...then when I added it to the soap it was still just kinda weak...about 5 or 10 minutes later BOOM!  For just a minute it got strong and the scent wafted through the house nicely.  Sadly, it went away and I got all worried again.  Had I added it too hot?  I had temped the soap and it was well because the flash point of the fragrance oil per their 70 degrees cooler than the flash point...But the scent had gotten very faint again...Okay, so then I went to wash up the soap dishes and WOW!
The bubbles smelled WONDERFUL!  I was still kind of sad thinking my soap would not throw any scent dry.  It's pretty important that something smell like you have it labeled.  No one is going to believe that the bubbles smell when the soap doesn't right? I left my soap to cool in the mold and walked away...florals aren't my favorite, but I figured at least I could use it...

Then bright and early I cut it up and snapped a pic and walked away again.  To me it was still very hour to two later I was standing in the kitchen prepping fodder like I do each day and it kinda crept up on me...stronger and stronger the scent from the soap room grew in the kitchen!  YAY! I could smell my soap from a room away! That's normal, finally! Usually the whole house smells like whatever I am soaping and cutting (it helps that the house is small)....

So, the adventure is will the scent last or not?  I guess I should say "the adventure continues" lol :)  I'll keep ya'll posted for sure...Also, my husband thinks I should call it "Creeping Rose" because it just sneaks up on you instead of whacking you in the nostrils like other fragrances...we'll see...I kind of don't think so though...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Presenting "Rustic" and "Country Skies"...

I promised photos and photos we have!

Nothing overly special or new for me here...just a fresh batch of each to replenish my stock.  First we have "Rustic".  Right now it is creamy...but it will go as dark brown as the bar on the far left corner of the picture on the edge there...see it...barely?  Yup, it's a delightful 'vanilla oak' scent with hints of patchouli that make it smokey but sweet.  Very popular and I always sell out!  This time I added some sparkly green mica to the top and a pencil line or two really, as well.  Can't wait until it's ready to use!

Then we have what I call "Country Skies".  Its a fresh out doorsy manly type scent - very green but ozoney all in one - hard to describe but yummy to smell.  Perfect for the country boy in your life!  This bar will stay a lovely bright white with pale blue wisps through it, just like big fluffy white clouds in the sky!

Each bar weighs in between 5 and 6 ounces...most are closer to 6.  Since I am making bigger bars now prices may inch up a tad, but it's totally worth it to have more of your favorite soaps!  They both are made of olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil, castor oil, safflower oil, goat milk of course, sodium hydroxide, a touch of sodium lactate and fragrance oils and colors too...It's all really good stuff when you combine it into a bar of soap!

Until next time, stay dirty ya'll!

Why weight holds weight with me....

No, not my own weight lol...long as I don't need to buy bigger pants I don't care what I weigh :)  I mean weight in regards to soap making (and lotions and such too).  It's so important to weigh your ingredients out as you soap instead of guessing or going by volume.  A comment made the other night put this thought into my head to share...follow along if you will....

These 2 bottles pictured above are a perfect example of a few things in soap making. Weight and volume are not the same and scales are important to have!  My husband actually pointed it out which got me thinking - he does not make soap (thank goodness) - when he said "Why'd they send you half empty bottles?" as I unpacked my supply haul.  He's a "glass half empty" kinda person, can you tell? Well, I had news for him.  This is a case of the glass being half full not empty!

One bottle is glycerin (for mixing colorants) and the other is sodium lactate (for my soaps).  They each weighed over 16 ounces, which is good because that's what I paid for :P! To compare, below is a picture of the exact same packaging, but different product:

On the left is the sodium lactate (weighing in at 17.8 ounces) and on the right is a brand new bottle of avocado oil (weighing in at 18 ounces even).  Crazy, but it goes to show that weight is critical when soaping! Two different ingredients, which take up different amounts of space (or have different volumes) but weigh the same.  Kind of the difference between a ton of feathers and a ton of sand. This is why working by weight in soap making is crucial.

You need to have a fairly accurate scale and a digital one at that, one that weighs in grams and/or tenths of ounces at least to soap properly.  Especially when making smaller batches of stuff!  Being off by just a tad in a small batch can be a BIG disaster!  To me, it's like grains of rice....another dorky analogy...

If you need 4 grains of rice, but you have 5, it's a noticeable difference.  Not only can you see it, but the percentage of extra rice is 25% of what you should have.  Now, on the other hand, if you need 50 grains of rice and you have 55 you are less likely to notice the 5 extra grains aren't you? Then, when you do the math that's only 10% more than you should have - a smaller difference.  Soaping is much like that when you look at the grand scheme of things.

I have found that the bigger a batch is of something the more forgiving it is to an extra tenth of an ounce of something, but the smaller a batch is the more accurate I need to comes the part about a good scale!  If your scale only measures in crude ounces or doesn't have grams as an option it becomes far harder to end up with accurate amounts of oils and such...which leads us to the next issue.  Weigh everything every time!!! Don't get all cocky and start using your measuring cups or guessing and eyeballing stuff - eventually this will blow up on you.

That's right, you heard me...WEIGH IT OUT WITH A SCALE!  Sure, there are some soapers out there who use recipes that have measurements in cups and teaspoons.  Maybe it works for them, kudos to them, and good luck.  I've even seen videos on youtube where people are making soap using what I call "kitchen measurements" - those cups and teaspoons I mentioned instead of a scale.  In my opinion they are purely lucky!  Clearly, as demonstrated by the two different products being two different VOLUMES in the same exact bottle and pictured above, one cup of sodium lactate is going to weigh more than one cup of avocado oil.  Weight and volume are not the same thing and are not interchangeable when it comes to soaping!  Take the chance when you bake a cake...not when you are making a loaf of soap....there's no caustic lye in cake batter but there is in soap batter.  See where I'm going with this?

Be patient, be accurate, and invest in a decent quality digital scale and 99% of the time your soap will turn out perfectly (there's always that oddball happens...soap gone wild and such).  But if you gamble with your weights and measurements be prepared for more failure than those of us that don't.  Accuracy and attention to detail are what make a really good soaper. We all have a bad night or a bad batch, but your odds are so much better when you are accurate! my little soap box now and back to my soap room.  I shall have pictures in the next day or two of the 2 loaves of soap I cooked up this evening :) Until then my friends, stay dirty!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Experimenting with scrubs and colors...

Because I just couldn't stand it any longer I HAD to get into the soap room today and do SOMETHING! So, I got in there and made a mess :)  Actually, I made 3 different batches of goat milk sugar scrubs and one test batch of soap.  Nothing fancy, just a little color and a new oil mix. But it made me happy to finally be soaping after what feels like an eternity!

Not only did I want to run a test run on a very lovely sparkly green mica, but I am also trying to work out what I feel are a few kinks in my current cold process recipe.  It takes closer to 2 to 3 months to REALLY cure up nice and hard even though it is a VERY nice bar of soap to bathe I tweaked a few bits in the recipe.  We shall see tomorrow when I unmold it what my first impression is...How about that green though?  I think for what I want it for it will be PERFECT!  Nice and bright and glitzy! Very nice indeed :P

Then there's the sugar scrub saga....I've been playing around with these scrubs recipes on paper for weeks now! Yup, just imagining how they would turn out and not having a chance to get in there and work with them.  Today I finally stole a moment and got on it!

I made 3 slight variations in the same basic recipe.  I personally notice a difference and I have my favorite already.  This is one that's gonna have to go out to my loyal test mean my friends :P

Here they are, all plopped into plastic containers and cooling a bit more before I finish getting them ready for my testers...
After all the testing I already did on my own self today I think I've scrubbed a tad bit more skin off than I expected to!  I made a batch, tested it on one arm, repeated with the other arm, and was out of arms for the third batch so I started over on the first arm again...Yup...from the elbows down I am officially the cleanest, smoothest, stinkiest person in Texas tonight!  Wait, what? Stinky?  Oh yes...STINKY!

See, now, what had happened was I scented each batch differently so I could tell them apart.  Because as you can see from the picture they all look pretty much the same.  Up close in person they are a tad different...but I wasn't taking any chances. So I tossed a different scent in each one and of course took notes on it as I worked.  I then scrubbed with each one.  I now have 3 different scents wafting up from my arms and I smell somewhat like a French brothel if you ask me - fruity, floral, all mixed up - it's just plain stinky when you mix it all together! BLEH! One by one each scent is great but not to self do not mix pomegranate, cherry almond and relaxation ever into one big batch of anything! These are not scents meant to be mixed up like that I tells ya! So, yup, stinky :( It's finally wearing off though...a little...

 Also, I am still on the fence about coloring them.  In my humble opinion a nearly natural product should remain nearly natural and scrubs are even more natural than soaps.  Soap goes through saponification and what you begin with is not what you end with.  Sugar scrubs are emulsified (well, mine are anyways) but nothing really changes.  So...soaps can have a little color but I'm still not sure about the scrubs...Back to the point though, I scented rather than colored them because I don't know if I even want color in the final product, but I DO know I will have scent in it.

So, there you have it :)  Scrubs are made, soaps been put to bed and I am next! I can't wait to see which scrub is everyone's favorite because that means I get to make more of it!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Spring Supply Haul :) (one of many to come)

So, soap room complete (let's not mention the kitchen though...) I headed into town today to pick up my boxes.  They were waiting for me at my little post office store...not the boxes as much as the guy that runs the place lol.  He was outside when I walked up and said "You have a STACK of stuff!"  I knew it, I just wanted to wait until the last box had arrived before I drove 50+ miles round trip to get it all! Graciously they helped me cart it out - it took 2 of us :P I was so so excited until I got home...then I was frazzled a bit upon closer inspection...I know it wasn't my po box people because they always put my boxes up special since they are usually labeled really.  They have a few shelves and my stuff is ALWAYS up high and safe.  They know I soap, they know some of this stuff can be overwhelming to smell all day if a bottle busts, and they take care of me.  The delivery companies however CLEARLY could care less....

Now...let me just start off with this...I don't know what I ever on earth did to UPS and FedEx, but they HATE me!  Seriously, twice at least now they have flat out lied about leaving a box on my porch (once it was in a strangers mail box and the other time down at an abandoned house), and MANY times I have gotten packages in questionable shape. Today was no exception, what was I expecting right? I really think they see my name on something and it's red flagged to try to trash it....

Exhibit A:  This poor little box looked like it was part of the UPS weekend company football game - AS THE BALL!  All beat up :( Not one corner was a corner, they were all dinged in and it had what would be described on a human as multiple contusions (or if you want to say bruises of the cardboard kind you can).

Then there's Exhibit B and C:  SERIOUSLY! How many times do you need to put a sticker that says "FRAGILE" in BRIGHT RED on something before they believe it????  Apparently the answer is "7" because this box had SIX of those stickers and STILL it had HOLES in it!!!  I was seeing red and it was NOT the stickers before my eyes, it was anger I believe...Below is a picture of just one of the holes, but this poor victim had at least 2!

Do you also see the second smaller box underneath (Don't worry, I wasn't squashing it, that big box is ULTRA light and the littler one is actually twice as heavy)...anyways, do you SEE the corner on that little one? Somehow, some way, the phrase "FRAGILE Handle with CARE" in plain English and also in red translates into "delivery driver speak" for "kick this box, dent it, and pray no one catches you on camera like that dude with the TV who made the news".  Why oh why do they treat my packages like this?  I just don't get it...someone tell me I am not the only one...

Needless to say I was a tad bit concerned for the health and well being of the contents...but...drum roll ya'll.........EVERYTHING ARRIVED IN ONE PIECE!!!!! Yup, miracles DO happen other times of the year besides Christmas folks!  There were no leaks, no spills, no broken bits and each and every package was entirely there!  I sat down and emailed every supplier a thank you note too.  It takes people who are conscientious and caring in how they do their job to pack something so well that even FedEx and UPS can't destroy it!

So...I bet you wanta see what I got huh? Well...all unpacked it looks like this:
There's bottles, lids, oils, butters, fragrances, new molds, new equipment, colors...oh it's a soaping wonderland I declare! Crazy right?  You should see the price tag on that table top lol...this stuff ain't cheap! But, it is all GREAT quality and from wonderful suppliers!

Here's my quasi-replenished oil stash:
In the WAY back is my lye order that came the other day...I already put it up safe and sound last week since it was the first box to arrive :) There's still not that much there, I have a few more orders to place actually, but this is what I could get from Kroger today while I was out - they ran outta oil before I ran outta money haha!  I wanted at least one more olive oil and all they had was 2! Oh'll keep me busy for a few days :P Plus I brought home some more paper towels and such I would be needing, so the trip to Kroger wasn't a total loss, even if they were running low on ginormous olive oil jugs...

There's a few scents that aren't really my favorite that I bought as samples and in smaller sizes, though they may soap better you never know, a few I just love and keep going in to smell, and some really neat samples and little bonuses :)  All in all it turned out to be a happy occasion, though to judge by the boxes they were a tad bit sad upon arrival.

So, I dare say It Begins!  Now if only I can find a minute to get creative with this stuff :P

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The soap room is ready ya'll!

Here's a little video of the soap room...all I really did was paint and clean it out and organize a bit...and I still haven't put down floorin...and I hadn't refilled it with my supplies and soaps that are curing yet :)  There's still a few boxes of stuff stacked on the couch that didn't make it into the video LOL :) It's enough to get the jist of things though, that's for sure!

By the way - it took me all afternoon to upload the dumb video...thank you slow as heck internet for FINALLY letting me get this up!

Here it is :) The soap room video I promised!

Hopefully, the clinky link thing works...I'm not so hot at all this technology stuff yet :(

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

So it begins...the soap room adventure :)

After living in this house for nearly 2 years now and making slim to minimal progress on, well, a lot - work has begun on the soap room!  No...the kitchen isn't finished...but I needed to get the "soap room" aka "mud room" portion cleaned out and prepped before I felt like I could go any further.  Well...maybe I just felt like I needed to...

The problem is that until now so much of my kitchen has flowed into that little bonus room just off of it that it has become a "catch all spot" - a crap collector if you will...It has a huge laundry type sink in there, perfect for washing the giant pots and pans that do not fit in my tiny kitchen sink.  It has copious amounts of built in shelving - not exactly level slightly crummy shelving, but still...It has the shelving and storage the kitchen lacked (though that has been some what remedied lately). The best part is...drum roll has  DOOR!!!  Yes folks, I have been able to stack junk in there and shut the door and close my eyes to the mess! This is not a good thing though...

I decided last fall that this space with it's bright sunny windows, sink, and shelves would be PERFECT for a REAL soap room! Finally!  A place for all my stuff with running water AND electricity and STORAGE! I was excited and of course, had to make soap right? So...while I managed to shuffle some stuff around, reorganize a bit, and find a place for bars of soap to cure, I hadn't really made it a nice place to be in.  I still had to cart all of my equipment, supplies and oils out to the kitchen to work as actual "counter top space" in there was already awash in, yes, you guessed it, JUNK! I had to shuffle and reorganize just to GET TO STUFF I needed...and the spiders...let's not forget the copious amounts of 8 legged frenemies I have in there.  Yes, they do a job eating things like flies and mosquitoes...but they are just plain creepy and not really high on my list of buddies...

Anyways, I managed to make quite a bit of soaps and lotions until recently when I realized I was drowning in junk again...Something had to give.  Things had to change, you can't be soaping in a funky space! Let me say now, even if you are just a hobby soaper, you NEED a space all your own, safe for your lye and oils and fragrances and what not.  Even if it is just a few shelves in a closet, you should have a nice, neat, organized spot for all your supplies and for soaps to cure.  It just makes it that much easier to keep it together, I'm telling you now.  Have a dedicated space before you begin and you won't be fighting the mess I am now :)

So, this afternoon, once my morning chores were completed, I started in one corner of the soon to be soap room cleaning, prepping, and painting.  Yeah, I know, my kitchen is still not finished and my fridge is still out in the middle of the yard...I know...but I needed to conquer one more small job while I was on a roll to give me strength to get the big one completed!  I'm hoping that the soap room paint will be dry enough by the time the kitchen is done to actually get in there and soap!

Don't worry...there will be pics or maybe even a video tour once I get it how I want it :)  I guess I best head back on in there now and get to work...there's no telling how many more spiders I have to evict before I can finish painting the shelves!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A reward and a review....

About...oh...I dunno...5 months ago now I guess, I did a "tutorial" for one of my favorite soaping supply companies.  I had sat down one fine fall day to order supplies for the coming Christmas season, only to discover that they were offering a "reward" for doing a had one in mind that was PERFECT!  Whipped soap!  It's super easy to work with, almost fool proof really for beginners, and great for playing with fragrances that may seize and away I went...

My whipped soap tutorial can be seen here.  It took a bit to get it just right, a few emails back and forth and VOILA!  Something I created is up for all the world to see - I was very excited at the time and proud as heck...and then life happened and I forgot about it :(

Minor crisis here at the house, holidays approaching, goats kidding, the stupid kitchen, learning to grow fodder....all these things took over for a bit.  Then, yesterday, I sat down to place some more orders for spring time soaping supplies and it hit me - I never heard back after they had published the tutorial!  So I sent an email, and being Sunday, I fully expected it to be a day or 2 before I heard back from anyone.  Well, within NO TIME I tell you I had a reply AND a coupon code!  Same day even - I was so not expecting that due to the weekend! Way cool, very awesome service there, and well played!  So yay for soap supplies with a big discount right?

I will say this though, in all honesty now, YAY FOR A SUPPLIER THAT VALUES THEIR CUSTOMERS! seems that in the world of oils, lye, fragrances and dyes, well, the suppliers are all much more concerned with doing GOOD business and not just business!  At least, the ones I use are and that is really special to me :)  They get right on customer service questions, are highly available and fairly quick to ship out as well and I appreciate that a BUNCH!  There are some places I use for "goat stuff" that take ages to ship an order, but are the only ones that carry certain items, and just plain frustrate me in their lack of ability to communicate.  With my soap supplies this is not so. I have heard of a few with crummy service, and I have stayed away from them admittedly, but all in all, most are pretty awesome.  Certainly, Rustic Escentuals tops the list after yesterday!

If you are looking for a place to get great scents from, and few other essential things Rustic Escentuals is the place!  They have a huge section of tutorials available for learning which is free to use and nice to have on hand, a ton of fun scents, and offer GREAT customer service!  They are geared a bit more towards candle making too - so be careful that any scents you buy for body stuff are "body safe" scents...but that's not a bad thing especially if you like candle making! I'm thinking I need to take that up this year...we'll see...but I often get requests for candles and if I can find the time to add it to my day I know for sure where I will go to for my supplies!

Anyways, guess it's time to get off of here and go do something productive with my day right? to stay out of trouble today :P

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'm finally starting to take my soap and lotion making and such to another level this year - I will be adding a line of classes for friends and family to my routine, adding a delicious new sugar scrub or two to my products, and per a friends request may be developing a natural type deodorant even!  It's amazing how as time goes by I find more and more that I want to do with myself and my products - I always figured I would stay small and simple.  But, now as I see things grow and change, my desire to take things to a new level has as well :)

I would love to teach others how to make this!

I have several shipments of oils, and jars, and fragrances all waiting for me at our little post office type box that I need to get, a remodel that begs for finishing, and a fabulous set of scents and products to get made in order to gear up for spring! This season's current line up will include the usual soaps and lotions, but my newest thing will be a sugar scrub...details to come once I settle on a recipe LOL.  I have to get my testers out there and feed back first...but I see it being a hit!

I will be making some of the same stand by scents and a few new ones this time.  I will be giving some more floral scents a try...don't know if I can handle them as they tend to give ma headache...but I'm gonna try...and one name "Butterfly Hugs" that actually sounds yummy!  Since it is spring, cucumber melon will be back, and maybe a few more before it is all said and done.  Choosing fragrances is always the hardest part!

Stay tuned for soap making class details and scheduling!  I'm thinking I will offer a 3 hour all inclusive type deal - to cover of course safety and sanitation, easy stuff like a small batch of lotion and a scrub, and then once comfortable working with the scale and measurements I will do a small batch of simple soap.  I want to keep the classes small - ideally 2 to 5 people no more - and everyone will get to take home a bottle of their lotion and scrub and some finished soap perhaps.  I'm still torn on cost, because in order to let people leave with product and cover my own time I have to charge something right? I certainly want to be fair with it I am thinking in the $20 - $40 range...I dunno for sure yet...we will see...I hope to have a tentative test group with feedback coming up soon though! Now away with me to go ready the house for visitors and soaping stories to come!