Insert description here

I have no clue what to call this one! It’s a soap. Made with olive and coconut oils and a few other awesome things. No palm, no parabens, small batch. But writing it up to make it sound as beautiful as it is opens a whole new thought process for me.

 

Mango Coconut
a mango coconut soap that needs a home name.

 

It’s getting close to our first show and time to wrap up the soap making and move on to photos, labels and descriptions. I like to be honest with descriptions but to tell the truth, I am more ready to buy an item when it makes me feel like I am getting an “experience”. Don’t pretend you are different! We can buy a basic item and often do but we are lured into beautiful stores with beautiful things that cost more because they tell you that you will feel a certain way after buying the product. For instance, you could buy “a natural bastille soap, made with olive and coconut oils, fragrance added”. Or would you rather have “A gentle, all natural soap infused with the scent of tropical mangos and coconuts. Add a tropical feel to your bathing experience. A limited edition soap, exclusive to Seasons Bath and Body”. Yea, I know, right?? Both pretty much say what if is but that last one takes you somewhere wonderful in your mind. Same bar of soap, different place.

 

Gold 4
A lemongrass lavender soap that I may call Bob

 

What do you look for when you buy a bath product? All natural? Environmentally friendly? Vegan? Luxury? Do you look for that or do you fall in love with those beautifully wrapped soaps with those descriptions that take you far away from your every day world? Or a store that makes you feel like you are a part of something special? What makes you buy one soap more than another? I have a feeling there is a bit more to it than “good soap”.

And trust me when I tell you that I am working on that description for you! As soon as I find a name for these two!

 

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Trying Something New

I have been taking random classes lately. Weaving, Glass Fusion, Silver Soldering, Drawing and there is an upcoming Macaroon class that only my friend Linda could talk me into! I am going to try new things, not only because there are so many interesting things out there but also because I don’t want to miss something because I won’t step out of my comfort zone.

When it comes to soap making I have mostly been sticking to the tried and true. Good quality ingredients and a good and well loved Bastille soap recipe. Because it works and I can trust that it’s a good soap. And because I am either scared to try something new in a bath recipe or I have become complacent in sticking with what I know. My point being that we all get stuck sometimes whether it is a same-old hair cut, a routine or a soap recipe. Keep the good but try something new in case you find better.

I am going to try a few new recipes and ideas this year along with all those classes. Just to see what is out there. I am willing to take a chance, make mistakes (like the Moon Cake Shower Steamer recipe I made today that came out looking like insect repellent disks!) and hope that in trying something new and different I also find something new and wonderful .

The recipe I am sharing is a slight variation of what I say is the best bath bomb recipe EVER.  This was one of those chances, a long winded one because it took a lot of colorful phrases after negotiating the hell-paved path of bath bomb making to make this recipe a keeper. I am better at soap making! The original recipe is from SoapQueen.com https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/pearl-bath-bomb-diy/

Bath Bomb Recipe
12 oz. Baking Soda
6 oz. Citric Acid
1 ½ oz. Coconut Oil
.25 oz. Polysorbate 80
¼ tsp. mica or clay colorant
2 ml fragrance
91% alcohol for moisture as needed
Bath Bomb mold
Cookie sheet covered with parchment paper (for me, anyway)

Mix the dry ingredients, then add your wet ones (coconut oil, PS 80, fragrance). Whisk together until you get the feel of damp sand when you squish a bit together. If it feels a little dry, spritz a couple of “spritzes” of the 91% alcohol.

Here’s what I have learned-bath bombs foam beautifully if you use PS80. What is that? It’s a vegetable emulsifier used in ice-cream. It binds your ingredients together and makes a beautiful foam. Without that you get a bit of fizz and a bit of color that floats off and sticks to the side of your tub. So use it.

I have also learned that anything other than 91% alcohol sets off a horrifying fizzing reaction way too soon. Like before I even get a bath bomb molded soon. Because anything less than 91% alcohol is mostly water which is what you want to drop your bath bomb into later, not now! Using 91% alcohol drove me crazy because I also thought I had lost the scent but trust me, it evaporates and then you have the scent back and a nice bath bomb! No worries.

Once you have your “damp sand”, overfill your mold and press it together without twisting. You need more mixture than mold so it can compress together and “stick”. And if you twist it, you have probably “broken it” in half when you place it on a tray. I then tap all sides of the mold (because it looks cool, actually not sure how that works) and then while still over the bowl, lift off the top side of the mold, place it back on, turn it over and lift the other side just to make sure it is solid. Plus, if one side is falling apart I can just drop the stuff back in the bowl, spritz more and try again (again happens often). If both sides have held together I take the top off and turn it carefully onto the parchment paper. And repeat.

Do not touch it for at least 24 hours if not longer to let it dry out and firm up.

This recipe makes two hefty bath bombs in my 6 oz. mold with a smaller “tester”.

Have fun. Rule the World!

 

Losing a Friend, Gaining a Love

 

I was asked to share this with you from a friend who read it on another page.

I have had several friends say they could not own another pet after the pain they went through when their pet died. I understand.

Sasha was a member of our house for fifteen years. She was loving, gentle, goofy and simply happy. While I always pretended she was more Ed’s dog than mine, she gave me equal amounts of love and comfort. When I took her to the vet, on her last day, it was one of the hardest days I have had. She trusted me to do the right thing and while I knew it was the right, I cry even now over it.

Sasha Finch 2
It’s been about eight months and since then we have waved goodbye to our son, Adam, and Finch, our Chihuahua who become HIS Chihuahua when they moved to Arizona. Sometimes it happens like that, a bond that develops so strongly that a dog knows her person and where she needs to be.

And we still have sweet Henry. Henry is a senior, a terrier mix and our one “true” dog. He has noticed the lack of dogs in our home lately and I think he is slightly concerned about the disappearing dog trick that has been happening here.
Henry Sleeping 17There are so many lost and unwanted animals out there that the idea that I don’t want to be hurt also means that some sweet animal is left in a cage at a shelter. A dog or cat who would give so much for a warm house and a little love. A little time with someone who loves them. Wouldn’t it be worth it? Because the alternative is thoughtless.

Today I went to a shelter in Burlington, NC. The people there were kind and they knew the animals there and they really loved and rooted for them. I met eleven-year-old Princess, a Chihuahua who had been surrendered because her owners were moving. She was quiet and sweet and while polite, spent much time looking out through the glass window and whimpering a little, hoping her people would come back for her. She had me there. I am going to be her people.

PrincessNew
Every animal deserves a person. Even when it hurts so much to say goodbye. Because really? If it hurts that much, then you both have loved each other fully and that made it worth it.

We’ll let you know! And that name, seriously? Princess??

I Cant Believe I Said That!

I just looked back over years of soap making and my early posts make me laugh. And yet this is truly the evolution of a determined soap maker! Enthusiastic and helpful information that you may be using! Thank you and I hope you have grown along with me and have updated some of your methods, too!

 FPC3

Because if we stick with soap making over the years, we grow. And learn. And make a few horrendous mistakes. And a lot of good changes. But we keep going.

CH2

And let me share this most important tip with you. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Because we all started somewhere! I apparently started with Canola oil and some seriously ugly soap! Lots of people use Canola oil in soap and it works quite well and it is readily available and inexpensive. (apparently back in the day I knew that!). As I kept growing and learning I realized that I wanted to provide a soap that was good for skin, in addition to being good for the environment. So I started using Olive oil and I stopped using Canola oil. I gave up Palm oil for all my recipes but one because I need what it does there. That said, there are reputable distributors of Palm oil. Brambleberry for one and the company states it clearly for you “In keeping with our social and ethical responsibility goals, our Palm oil supplier is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), an organization that supports sustainable palm oil production.” I trust Brambleberry and they have earned my business. Still, I have learned to make soap without Palm and I like the results. Palm oil adds a nice hardness to soap bars. So does Sodium Lactate.  Just choose and source it carefully. Which means you are learning. Getting better at the craft.

Mixed Colorful Display

Making soap is fun. It has a beautiful  purpose. And a long and endless learning curve as I just learned by looking back on some seriously weird looking soaps and slightly embarrassing blog posts. Which I will keep. Because as Steven Wright once said, “It may be my sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others!” “Never give up, Never give in, Never Surrender” (Galaxy Quest) and keep on making that soap! Just promise me you will take all blogs from enthusiastic soap makers like me with a grain of Sodium Lactate!

Do What You Love?

Seasons Bath and Body had a very successful event at the end of October, spending three hours at a fundraising event at a local fire station. The interesting thing is that we had more fun, we sold more bath products than at any show to date. Yet I was expecting the night to be one of having fun, meeting people and making friends but not selling much. I mean, selling soap at a fire station? And I was wrong. Which makes me wonder what else I might be wrong about.

 

Wordpress 11_13_17
Trunk or Treat at the Fire Station

 

 

I love what I do. I create soap and bath bombs and it’s from my heart and that means a lot to me. But is that enough?

 

BRVS
Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

 

Making soap brings a joy to me. I like to call it “practical art”. I love picking the best oils for your skin and then creating a beautiful soap that makes you as happy as I am to make it for you. It’s art that is useful, and affordable. Sometimes making the choices to create a good soap creates a higher cost per bar for me as I choose good oils, sustainable ingredients and buy from companies that feel as I do about a good and safe product. But I have to believe in what I do. The practical side of me says that doing something else, selling something else would be less work and more income but what would I be giving up?

 

Beach 11_2_17
Beach Soap

 

So, for those of you who create a product (then make so much of it that you veer off into packaging, marketing, selling!), would you continue doing what you love? Even if doing something else would pay more? Or be less work? Why or why not?  I’d love to hear from you!

Cyd

 

Doing a Show

I have been doing a few shows. Only a few but that is my excuse for not writing lately. While I enjoy talking with people who stop by our booth and I am happy for the compliments and sales, I am not great as a sales person. I love my soap and I know it is a good and natural soap, smells good and makes people so happy they come back to our site for more but selling it? In person? Let’s just say I made some good friends! Heard some great stories. Oh, sell the soap. Right.
IMG_4019 I brought Ed with me for the Lebanon Car Show. After all, the guy spent many years in radio, on stage introducing major acts before concerts, here is my sales guy, right?

And here is the 10 second apron shot. He put it on, he tied it, looked down, took it off and came back hours later to tell me about the great cars that were there. He did that for two days.

But it’s still good to have a friend for comfort. A husband to count on. In spirit. From very, very far across the fairgrounds.  So put that on your list, people who are thinking of selling in shows. It should be first! And enjoy a few pictures I took at a great show.  And some awesome friends.

 

 

 

You Should have Seen the Before Shot!

I am one of those DIY people, obvious from my soap making and other things (don’t ever mention popcorn ceiling removal). Most of us are very happy to share our successes, our recipes, our how to create this with you, but very few of us really want to admit to those awesome moments of total and complete failure (been there right? Made you cringe, didn’t I)? I truly think that the best designers, chefs and crafters should take the time to do an entire “show” on what goes wrong. Because it does. And the rest of us wouldn’t feel quite so inept.

For me, I don’t mind admitting to my mistakes. It’s narrowing them down on what and how many to share that is my problem! But I think if more of us opened up to our goofs, the rest of us wouldn’t feel the pressure to get it immediately right!  Mistakes happen! Some mistakes become the next great idea and we become convinced we MEANT to do that in the first place. Many mistakes are learning experiences, akin to going home with a picture for the refrigerator and then having to explain patiently to the family what we drew. Who knew that was Uncle Dave? Who knew Uncle Dave looks like a giraffe with a hump?

My biggest and continual mistake is to try to make Bath Bombs. It should be easy, right? A no brainer! But a recipe for bath bombs not only consists of a few simple ingredients but should also require a weather balloon, an industrial humidifier and a hot weather guy (hey, my blog, my rules). Four ingredients, too much humidity and DOOM! Many people who attempt bath bombs slink away in shame but NO, NOT ME, I am still at it a year later. Someone please intervene any time.

My bath bombs press together beautifully. At it’s simplest it is 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup citric acid, 2 oz. melted coconut oil and fragrance. You whisk that together and fill two halves of a mold, pressing to create a perfectly round bath bomb. Then you unmold it.

ThumbprintSquish

Where the bath bombs begin to flatten into a new unspeakable shape, grow warts and start using foul language before exploding. Not all the time. One out of three. ONE. OUT. OF. THREE. Enough that I keep face palming while saying, “Why? Why? I make perfectly good soap. Why?? This is supposed to be easier! It’s not fair!” in my best whiney voice.

bath bombs before and after

On the left you will see bath bombs that survived. On the right? A moment of silence. For the humidity, moisture, reaction to my mood, I don’t know.

The point?  I want you to take heart. Failure IS an option. It happens (for some of us a lot)! And that’s okay. Because that is how you learn (that you shouldn’t make bath bombs)! And know that you are still beautiful, still creative, still absolutely awesome! At something else!

Look! A Kitty!

I have a lot of trouble sticking to one thing. My generation didn’t have a diagnosis for it, it was simply “too much sugar” or “what’s wrong with that child?” I was and still am interested in everything, at least for one split second.

As a result of that bounce, I have arrived at what I do best, soap making. Because it’s never the same. And I can’t ever guarantee the same outcome when making soap.

For instance, here is batch one and batch two of Winter Magic. Same colorings, same basic pour and yet.

Both pretty soaps but obviously not the same. And how does this happen?

There are so many variables when making soaps. Oils, temperature, fragrance, coloring, pour ability, time of day, did I eat breakfast, did YOU eat breakfast?, You can guide the process but you will never truly control it. That is why so many of us who make soap anticipate cutting day. The reveal!  The ultimate beauty of soap is that you don’t need to account for the outcome, just own it! I meant to do both of those batches just. like. that.

These are all lavender soaps. Same recipe, different ideas and again, unexpected.

So for those of you who follow kitties, then butterflies, then the flower behind the butterfly? Consider making soap. It will not only appeal to the practical side of life in use but you can chase all the kitties you want! I guarantee it!

 

 

Creative Minds

I have yet to meet a soap maker that only does one thing. Our minds don’t work like that. Is there a creative term for it? OCD: Open-minded Creative Designers? Basically, we see ordinary things everywhere and our minds go into scramble mode and combine it into…cool stuff.

We are the people you are talking to who tend to stop on the sidewalk while you are still walking and you have to turn around and lead us back to reality. We have seen something/thought of something/heard something and we loop. But we take you with us so those of you who need some fun, well, here we are! Children do this until we drill it out of them. I wonder how much creativity they lose?

Besides soap, and bath bombs, lotion bars, deodorant (it all ties together when wandering), I also garden, weave, cook, draw, photograph and take classes that draw me out of my quiet comfort zone (find my story on welding).

I have taken (talked her into) my artist friend Eileen to classes on silver soldering and weaving. Eileen Flanagan Kane is a fiber artist who’s work had been featured in local galleries. She creates detailed works of art with fabrics and threads. Here is a sample of some of her amazing work.

Thread Vessel

We are taking a class Sunday on bookbinding with a class on glass sun catchers later this month. And I have talked my friend Andra into coming to the bookbinding class (she is a wordsmith).
My friend Linda Long sends things to me that interest her and that I might like in regular messages. She is a class on her own, having taught me basic crocheting and knitting. One of many things she makes are intricately beaded, crocheted prayer shawls along with a million other sewn, smocked and woven things. Take a look.

Linda picture

Our next project together is cake decorating.

This is what creative minds do. We expand on what we know while happily picking up the creative offerings of other minds through classes, items we have seen and loved and sharing what we know. All art has a common thread whether it is fine art or a craft and life has a lot of creative things to offer if we look with friends around to guide us back to the sidewalk.

So what do you do? Besides what you do?