Skin Soap

You would think that would be obvious, right? But I started making soap because I was curious about how it was done, veered off into all the beautiful ways it can be made and then, here I am.

Making claims about the medical properties of a soap is a no no for a soap maker. We can read up on what oils and herbs do but honestly, most of us have no medical training and to imply our soap will cure something is just wrong (in my opinion). Yet most of us know that commercial soaps have all kinds of extra things in it to extend shelf life that we don’t want in our soap and many of us have delved into the properties of herbs in a search for a good soap.

I made this soap for my daughter, Season. Season is beautiful inside and out. She has very fair skin and also has the occasional break-out issues that comes with delicate skin. A doctor recommended an acne medicine that made her so sick that over the holidays we ended up at an Urgent Care. There are many, many good doctors in this world and I do believe that there are good medications. I just am not a fan. Because I personally believe that we end up on so many medications as a result of side effects from other medications and I feel that taking something internally for a topical issue can result in well, sometimes a trip to Urgent Care. So, the doctor stopped the medication.

In the meantime, I did some of that research into herbs and “potions” and made this recipe from lovinsoap and all the credit goes to them. This is a charcoal soap with tea tree oil and is said to be great for acne prone skin.

On making this, I have to say that charcoal is an insidious thing. It is a fine powder, pitch black and one tiny dab of this stuff created black spots on more surfaces than I knew were possible! Add a little oil to it and I do believe it could be used as a mental weapon for all fastidious people. Oh, and this soap stinks. Which is the point, I guess. This has a very astringent smell and if the smell alone will clear up skin, this will work.charcoal-tea-tree-soap

Here the the recipe courtesy of lovinsoap.

The only thing I changed was to take approximately one cup of the trace before adding the charcoal and sitting it aside. I added 1/2 teaspoon of super pearly white mica from Because I just couldn’t totally give up the design aspect of soap making.

New Year, New Ideas

I have given up the day job. That is frightening and exhilarating and puts just a bit of pressure on me in where I am headed in this world. There are a million soap makers in this world, most are good, some are outstanding so where do I fall in that world?
For those who love and live for our soap, thank you! It has meant so much to me to think we are creating something you like to use and that you believe in. I plan to continue doing what I love doing and sharing that with you. I also plan to make our soaps even better for skin than ever. In that, I have a range planned from the well-loved brown rice soap, which is so gentle and soothing for skin to a few new soaps that I hope will give you what you love and need in skin care.
Coming up in February is a soap filled with pureed carrots. I have tried it (I always do) and for my aging skin it is a creamy, moisturizing bar.
We also have a cocoa butter soap for extra moisturizing over the cold months and I am planning on a tea tree charcoal soap for problem skin.
I will be sharing recipes that I love with you so come back soon! Thanks for stopping by.

Good things

I spent the beginning of summer filling orders for the shops that feature my soap and then I stepped back. For a long time. Because filling bulk orders sometimes feels  a bit machine like and I lose (my mind!) the reason I make soap and I lose the creativity when I am filling one type of order in bulk.

Making soap, for all of us who do it, is and should be fun and fulfilling.We should be happy making soap and proud of what we do and mostly I am. Very much. I love seeing techniques from other amazing soap makers and the open enthusiasm is a great thing to see among soap makers. I like taking a little time to think.

I followed the Instagram trip of Handmade in Florida.Her work is some of the most beautiful soap I have ever seen. There is so much more to the best soap and that is the artist’s heart behind soap making. The wish to make a good and beautiful product is art. Looking at the pictures of her travels through Europe, the amazing photography; I realized that she was also filling her soul and would come home recharged and ready to create.

That step back or sideways is a good thing. I spent my summer working in the vegetable garden, doing some weaving, taking some time to spend with friends, enjoying the butterflies, rabbits and turtles that spend time in my yard.

So no soap thoughts today but I do want to share the most wonderful and simple recipe from an abundant harvest of cherry tomatoes. The recipe is from Nigella Lawson and it is called Moonblush Tomatoes. I serve this with pasta and Parmesan and it is summer. Best of all, you can take these straight out of a cool oven, freeze the tray and drop the frozen tomatoes into freezer bags to enjoy all winter long. Enjoy!


Moonblush Tomatoes(photo credit Lis Parsons)


Soaping Mania!

AssortmentThis last weekend I was on a roll. Funny how that one works. I was sitting lazily on the couch on Saturday morning and out of nowhere I decided to make a batch of soap. Which led to two batches because the first one was so lovely and then a third because I couldn’t believe how nice the first two turned out. I just didn’t want to stop

bts2I have a go to recipe that tends to fit several of my molds just right. It is simple, too.

as always, I assume you have made cold-process soap before and have thoroughly read all safety information!

Classic Soap Recipe
6.9 oz. Lye
15.8 oz. distilled water
16 oz. palm oil
16 oz. coconut oil
16 oz. olive oil
4 tablespoons of fragrance oil
micas to suit whatever I am creating

It is almost like those cooking recipes that are one batch makes three different cookies! Soap making can feel that simple when you are ready to create. Since the basics are oils, liquids and lye the variation comes from the combination of oils, the choice of liquids and the fragrance and coloring. That’s when you can complicate things! And I have. But that is another story!

I also had some leftover beer. I know that sounds wrong but there you go! Flat beer. So instead of throwing that out, I made an entire loaf of soap to go with it! From this recipe by the SoapQueen. A happy variation as the beer was not stout (color difference).

B Soap

Let’s see what next Saturday brings!


Soap Avalanche

I do this all the time. I lose interest in soap making. Okay, not lose interest but get distracted. Did I tell you I have a weaving loom? That the vegetable garden is planted and looks great? That the “day” job has been a bit consuming? And did I mention the last couple of batches of soap did not have my full attention and they looked like it? But I am back. Because I am a terrier and have to solve the problem. Not easy to find with soap.

When a batch goes wrong there are many possible reasons from a new formulation of a fragrance oil you have used before to colorants to (not paying attention to) the recipe. I have it straight now, thank you.


This is the way By the Sea soap should look and it does. Light trace allows time for working with layers and avoids bubbles, clumps and a dry looking soap. Simplistic but true. A light trace, which is a blend of your oils and lye mixture, looks like a thin milkshake. Over blending is tempting but not good.


And I made lavender for the Etsy shop. This is an in the pot swirl with an S swirl at the top. Adding lavender at the top can create a problem if the buds get damp. Just like any natural flower they will (I hate to say “rot” when talking about soap!) leave a yellow residue. So add a little at the top and leave it uncovered. Spritzing the top of the soap with Isopropyl alcohol will help stop ash and then you can dust the top with the lavender buds.

Finally, I made a quick melt and pour soap. I have mixed feelings about melt and pour. I feel that someone else actually made the soap and I am just melting and reforming it. There are some really beautiful melt and pour soaps out there and I may look into a few more recipes. If you want to create this one it is from my favorite soap site:


and for more recipes, please go here!


I had this chair.IMG_0924

I bought a chair from Habitat for Humanity last November. We are a casual family and our dining room consists of a table and a group of four mismatched chairs (also from Habitat). I like the mix. It suits. But we were having a get together so I needed another chair. Simple.

After the holidays, I kept looking at that chair.

Those reading this know me because you ARE me. The ideas that float around in my head when I see some things. You have those. Ed has handled this over the years with a lipstick pink wall, a DIY popcorn ceiling removal, wall art and more. I promised that from now on I would limit my ideas to things that didn’t entirely destroy the house. Smile.

So there was the chair. And some old tee-shirts. Which I cut into strips.And started weaving.IMG_0927

There’s no tutorial. You may not have a chair like this or would even consider the idea. But you get the idea. And the reason behind it. And I like it. That’s enough.



I have been making soap for several years now. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I bought a bar of commercial soap. My husband raids the soap rack without thought for  orders so you would think I could make soap sort of automatically, you know?

But it doesn’t work that way.

No matter how many batches I have made, things happen. Sometimes it is a slight miscalculation on my part (didn’t that sound nice?) or I might try something new and (not good) different. I might not have read the important info on how an essential oil or colorant handles itself in cold process soap. And sometimes a company has reformulated a product and it just doesn’t act the same as the tried and true. At that point, I have to decide whether to aim the batch I am not proud of at friends and family, try for a rebatch or toss the mistake which is costly.

Note that sometimes fiddling with an ugly batch of soap is not only time consuming but also costly.


The soap in the front of this picture looks like a fairly acceptable bar. But it is blueberry. I used a violet mica in an in the pot swirl. Yes, I know. So it smells wonderful. BUT.

Please note, I highly recommend never selling your soap because it is “close enough”. You do yourself a real injustice in letting that soap go to a consumer because that soap is an ad for a less than great product/look that you aren’t proud of and you really don’t want the consumer walking around sharing your work like that. Go for the “chuck it” method if it won’t rebatch well.

Picture two is a rebatch of the blueberry using and indigo mica. And I am still not sure about it. IMG_0884.JPGSo here is what I do. After rebatching this particular soap in a round mold, I cut it and take it to my “other job”. It sits on my desk and I look at it a while, smell it, consider my options.

One option at this point is the marketing. What do I call it? Blueberry? Blueberry Cobbler? Rustic Blueberry?  Telling it like it is, I am going with Rustic Blueberry (how about Rustic Blueberry Rebatch Round…..stop!). If I use this soap, how would I package it into an attractive sell? The smell is great, it is a rustic soap..can I find a rough net back that resembles a fishermen’s net? An idea forms.


And it works.

Blizzard Soap

It happens every year in my area of North Carolina. We get snowed in for a day or two and I get creative and make soap. Out of snow.IMG_0676It was a blizzard this round and if you are reading this in January of 2016, you know what I am talking about here.

I set a bowl on the deck rail, went to bed and had enough snow for 5 batches of soap. I made one small batch. Just for fun.

Be sure you have all your ingredients ready to go including your soap mold. Working with snow means that your snow/lye mixture will be a low temperature. My oils were 15 degrees above the  lye mixture 85/100 and I had a light trace in no time.

As always, I assume you are experienced with soap making and the safety rules involved so here is the basic recipe-

small batch about 6 bars
20 oz. olive oil
2.5 oz. coconut oil
2.5 oz. palm oil
8 oz. clean snow
3.3 oz. lye crystals
1 oz. essential oil (I used Brambleberry’s Kensington Rain)
Coloring below

This time I did an in the pot swirl using the following: three containers, smallest container as one, middle 2 and leave a large container for three as you will incorporate one and two below to the third container
1) 1/2 teaspoon Ultramarine Blue mica in one mixed with 1 tablespoon oil
2) 1/4 teaspoon Ultramarine Blue mica and 1/4 teaspoon Titanium Dioxide mixed with 1 tablespoon oil
3) 1/2 teaspoon Titanium Dioxide mixed with 1 tablespoon oil

When you reach a very light trace, add your fragrance, lightly blend and divide your mixture between the three containers. I varied the amount with the most mixture in the white (TD), the second in the lightest blue and the remaining amount in the dark blue. When they are mixed to your liking, pour the first two (your blues) into container three (the white/TD) and then pour this into your soap mold. I dusted the top with pearl mica, insulated with a towel and the resulting picture is above.

What I really wanted was a batch of brownies. The calories in this were a lot better, trust me.


Soap Packaging

There are some people out there who can not only make beautiful soap but also seem to have enough left over creativity to package that soap beautifully. Believe me, it counts.

Soap making in itself is an amazing talent. It has taken me a few years to get where I am pleased with most of my soap making skills. When buyers see my soap, they don’t always see that the ingredients are natural or the process it took to make it or the fact that it is a darn good soap. What do they see? Is it pretty?

Sometimes, my soap smells great and has a great consistency but the fragrance oil has changed the color of the soap or a clay did not produce the look I wanted. Is it a loss? Not always, because how it is packaged is almost as important as how it is made. What? Unfair! But true. And you may not want to admit to it, but you know it.

You have been to craft shows where soap is stacked in a row on a table. You have seen a booth a few down with old fashioned farm baskets or wooden crates filled with soap, a rustic sign, a special display. Where do you tend to linger?

So even though you think you are finished when you cut that loaf, you are rarely done. Because it’s all in the view and here is one example: a wonderful smelling soap that discolored on using the fragrance oil.

IMG_0553I could have scrapped a five pound loaf, could have rebatched it. Instead, I wrapped it in glitter and sold it all. Because it is a beautiful smelling, vegan soap that just needed a little extra TLC.