Wednesday, June 16, 2010

new molds and swirly castile peppermint

i've been meaning to make a castile soap for the longest time, so castile soap soap it would be! after a bit more research, i decided i didn't want to do a pure traditional castile with 100% olive oil since a lot of people report it to be a bit slimy and not have enough lather. so i went back to kathy miller and decided on her "favorite castile II" recipe (but only half). i've always gotten great results using her recipes, and the reasoning seemed sound to me.

because our last summer mint soap didn't turn out so hot, i decided to try again for a refreshing mint theme, but using the funnel swirling technique from lomond soap. i made a super strong mint tea and let it cool. i was a bit surprised when it turned dark orange when i added the lye. not exactly the color i was going for with a mint soap, but i figure, i'm still in the learning/experimental phase, so on with the show. i melted my oils, added the mint tea lye solution, and got it to a very light trace. added the peppermint EO with a splash of spearmint EO (bc it was all i had left) then divided the soap into two halves. even though it was all orange, i held onto my hope that it might change back to green eventually. i added about 2 tablespoons of french green clay and about half a tablespoon of spirulina to one half.
then i got my super helpful assistant, mr. aaron, to hold the funnel for me since i didn't have enough chopsticks to make a stand like the tutorial. pretty good swirls from what i could see!

thanks to a super tip from fellow soap blogger Jen, i bought two sets of the molger wooden boxes ($10) each from ikea to use as soap molds. so happy i did too! perfectly sized soap from a mold that cost about $5. just amazing.

here they are after cutting and i am quite happy that they are *much* less orange and way more green. i'm hoping with 4 weeks time, it will completely change to all green. and i am super happy with the swirls! so cool! every bar is different. enjoy!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

no bugs summer sunshine soap

natural color experiment #2: annatto seed

results: awesome!

i steeped several tablespoons of annatto seeds in olive oil while i was preparing the rest of the materials. i decided to use the same recipe as the margarita bar and the summer sunrise since it is such a nice final bar. very hard and lots of lather. i'd like a heavier, smoother lather eventually, but this one is my best so far. most requested soap has been the dog soap, the essential oil blend that repels bugs for dogs, gardeners, and hikers alike. i tweaked the e.o. blend a bit from last time to include some eucalyptus and a bit more citronella. and i wanted it a little more beautiful. *bright* yellow and covered in calendula petals.

i am 90% in love with this soap. the color is perfectly beautiful and i love it. the calendula petals got a bit oily and weird looking. there are tiny bubble on the tops in some places. and there is a small crack right in the middle of the top. i guess it got too hot?

Monday, May 10, 2010

summer sunrise and practice with natural colorants

soapy sunday! it took a bit of discussion to decide what we wanted to make. we have friends with babies coming up, so we've been wanting to make a super gentle baby soap with goats milk. the men have been asking for man soap, but we keep forgetting to buy guinness to use as the liquid. plus, we'd have to boil it and let it cool the day before. we decided to go for something a little more fun and play with color. we loved the recipe we used for the margarita bar that turned out to smell great, but was way over mixed color-wise. it was nice and hard and had great lather, so we figured we would use it again and try for better color technique this time.

we really want to go all natural with our soaps. only essential oils, no fragrance oils. only natural colorants, no lab colors. so j. made a beautiful EO blend of jasmine, orange bitter, and lemongrass for a nice summer scent that wasn't too citrusy. just bright and clean. for the colors, we were thinking yellows, reds, oranges, and peaches. so we went with (clockwise from the top) paprika, dried orange peel, ground calendula petals, and tomato powder.

we took 3 cups of soap out and colored each cup with 1 1/2 tsp tomato powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp orange peel.  we colored the rest of the base with the calendula petals (about 2 Tbsp) in hopes for a nice yellow base. j. had the awesome idea to pour samples of each into our mini muffin pan so we will know which colorants turned out what colors.

then came the hard part.

we had two molds/old pieces of tuperware :) we lined them with parchment paper, which is so hard btw, then dumped the base color (with calendula) about an inch think in the cake pan mold and about 2 inches in the log mold. (should have poured in the cake pan first only about 1/2 inch think so we'd have taller log soap). j. colored the log by pouring in the colors from up high to get them deep into the soap, then swirled a chopstick around a bit all the way to the bottom. then she used a spoon to get some sweet waves on the tops, but we forgot to get pictures. i poured lines on top of the cake mold, then swirled them lightly with a chopstick.

four weeks later:

the calendula and orange peel barely turned any color at all. paprika is a nice pinky color, and the tomato turned from a dirty red to a kind of ugly yellow brown color. no more tomato powder added at trace at least. maybe it'll be different added to the lye solution or the oil first.

so, barely any color at all in the soap itself. pretty disappointing. still smells great though.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

i may be getting the hang of this

i haven't been so good about keeping up, but hey, no one is reading anyway. this is more for me to keep my thoughts straight and hopefully document a bit of this soap stuff.

for mother's day, i thought i'd make my mom something custom. she's always in the garden, so she's always 1) covered in bug bites and 2) always has dirty hands. hands in the dirt is the only way to garden. you have to feel the dirt. but it's not so nice on the hands. so i made an ultra moisturizing soap with corn meal to really scrub off that dirt without leaving her hands dried out. i also wanted to play with a bit of color using greens with a bit of red. this is what came out of the bunch:

pretty good! did make a mistake though. i dumped the green oxide into the soap before i took any out for the red. so i mixed the brick red oxide with a bit of oil and added it after i poured the green into the molds. the first few days out of the mold, they leaked oil, but now they look pretty cool! the red has stayed put, and kind of carved out some neat swirls.

the next week, i felt the itch again! plus, i found some delicious smelling coconut oil at the farmers' market that i just had to try. so i invited my neighbor over to make soap while our boys were making beer. first, we made my recipe for white chocolate truffle soap. it has lots of cocoa butter, so it smells just heavenly. and instead of using almond essential oil to keep it white, we went with vanilla bean and just a dash of cinnamon. mmmmmmmm-MMMMMMM! it smells so good. and i think it will darken to a nice milk chocolate color, so the scent and colors should be right on. here it is right after cutting:

and here it is 6 weeks later:

didn't even see that crescent shape on the bottom until i was editing the pictures. weird. but using it is a dream. nice and hard, *great* lather, and my skin feels amazing after using it. definitely will keep this recipe around.

since the batch was going so well, we decided to go for another one...cupcakes! or more specifically, lemon poppyseed cupcakes. i saw a cute tutorial on cupcake soap on the soap queen's blog. i'm into more natural colors and fragrances, so i thought lemon poppyseed was a nice alternative to strawberry cheesecake. but i do love those bright pink colors! ours came out beautifully. poppyseeds and tumeric to color the "cake" and nothing in the "icing" to keep it nice and creamy looking. quite a success. it's been hard not to try a bite, they look and smell so delicious! can't wait to see how they soap!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

recent soap stories

it's been a while, so i'm going to catch up on the last few batches all at once. grab a cup of tea and settle in for some new soapers' bloopers. i swear we read and study and when it comes down to it, we apparently have no idea what we are least we have fun.


we never have enough time to make soap, and we usually decide friday afternoon before people start getting together seems like a good idea. somehow, we convince people to come over and hang out while we are slinging lye everywhere.

on 3/5, we made focused more on scent than soap quality. we were still kind of figuring out what an SAP value was. if we didn't have an ingredient, we just didn't make that recipe. we made a 4 pound batch of a nice shea butter recipe we found somewhere and focused on combining our essential oils. we wanted a nice summer cooling soap for the coming georgia heat and we wanted a dog soap for our adorable goldendoodles to help them battle the mosquitos and fleas.

j. has one of albus's little sisters from a different litter. same mom and dad, they are just a year or so apart. they love each other.

the batch went well, especially since it was our first batch using the immersion hand blender. god's gift to soap makers. amazing. really.

once we got to a super light trace, we separated the batch into two separate containers and added our scents. peppermint, spearmint, and sweet birch for the cooling soap. cedarwood, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, and tea tree oil for the dog soap. bugs hate those oils!

then, we colored the cooling soap half with blue mica for a nice "chill" color. now, if you are an experienced soaper, you would start yelling at your screen: "you can't use mica in cold-process soap!" well, we didn't know that, and it colored the soap a beautiful perfect blue color for our cooling least until the next day.

yuck. - it still smells great though. and the yucky color stuff cuts right off.

after some "grooming," it looks just fine, smells, great, and has a nice lather. it's a little soft in my opinion, but it lasts fine in the shower.

the dog soap came out just fine. lighter than the cooling soap, and with a pretty nice lather as long as you have plenty of water.

next time, i'd like a stronger smell. and maybe add eucalyptus and patchouli as well. maybe take out the tea tree oil or rosemary. not sure yet. and more coconut oil next time too for more lather.


two weekends later was a bath and body whirlwind. on friday night after having several cups of homemade apple cider (bad idea) we rushed to make our friend c. a wedding shower basket of goodies. having never made lotion or bath bombs, it was quite an experience. it turned out great! i had all the recipes and ingredients ready, and the day before, j. and i had written out all the eo combos we wanted to use. several "romantic" scents, a few "tingly/minty" combos, and a few "spicy" combos. we made lotion, body butter, bath salts, massage melts, and massage oil. it still took us until midnight to get everything made.

i didn't do so great of a job arranging the basket and felt extra un-crafty when another woman showed up at the shower with a professional basket that she made herself. she apparently has some baking company up north and does all the baskets herself. mine looked pretty frumpy next to hers...but, at the end of the shower, you know which was the only present c. decided to take home? ours!!! she would pick up the rest the next day, but our basket of lotions was going home that instant. very nice.

no pictures. sorry. you wouldn't want to see the sad basket anyway...but we did package everything in cute mason jars and little baggies. it was just the basket arrangement that sucked. new craft to learn!


on that sunday we invited a 3rd new soaper over to make a seaweed and dead sea salt facial bar as well as a margarita bar. the seaweed bar looked awesome, but the spirulina smells terrible. and it turns out, dead sea salt "sweats" a lot. well, damn. now we have cardboard stuck to all the bottoms of the soap. a few look alright though. we'll see how they turn out in a few more weeks though. they should be ultra conditioning with that aloe juice and sea weed.

not super beautiful. still figuring out how to cut soap, so next time, just regular sea salt. maybe there will be less moisture sweating and prettier designs.

the margarita bar didn't turn out like we wanted. we really just wanted to play with some color (the right kind this time - we tossed out the mica), but didn't have everything we needed for the margarita bar. oh well, let's make it anyway without the lime juice and raw sugar. but we already figured out the essential oil blend, so let's go for it anyway. maybe next time. then we realized we had no idea how to swirl colors.

we tried pouring in the separate colors into the tiny mold at once. these actually turned out the best. lack of stirring definitely helped out. but we only did 3 since the logistics were difficult.

then we tried adding the colors to the big pot to do something like kbshimmer's video on in pot swirling. sooooo did not work for us. we have a bunch of reddish brown green soap now. our fault for pouring into individual molds instead of one big one. every time we brought the pyrex up and down, the soap mixed again.

not as appetizing as a refreshing margarita, even if it does smell great and limey. our fault though. next project on the docket is building a log mold.


i found some sweet old school tupperware at a yard sale and was totally psyched to find several pieces in the exact shape of what a log or tray mold would look like! i paid 50 cents a piece and came home skipping. i had just finished watching tiggy's video (from future primitive - only the coolest soaps i've ever seen!!!!) on creating black lines in soap, so i thought i'd give a 1 pound batch a go to test out my new tupperware.

i was headed to the beach the next day, so i wanted a beachy soap. the scent turned out really nice: cedarwood, lavender, rosemary, and just hints of clary sage, lemongrass, sweet orange, and a drop or two of spearmint. heavenly.

then i thought: "why not color the top blue like the water, and add salt?" and then i thought: "ooh, i could add pulverized oatmeal to the cream color and it will look like sand!" and then i though: "holy crap, put the mold at a diagonal after pouring in the cream and it will look like waves coming up onto the sand!!!!!!" i was very excited. and for good reason. it turned out beautifully:

i imagine it will be very exfoliating :) also, i should have cut it after only 3 hours or so. the salt makes the top of the bar *very* hard. my first attempt to cut the log resulted in the blue part separating from the cream. i had to saw through the rest to keep them from splitting. but i really feel like this might be my best bar of soap ever. what a great way to end the night before going on vacation.

next time, i'll make a bigger batch so the bars will be taller. and, i'll remember to be patient for a super hard trace so i can make waves on top. it was 9:00 and i wanted dinner. by the time i got back, it was too hard :( next time...

i will try to stay up to date more often. i have a neat one coming up about the green goop smoothies i've been making recently, so get excited.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

introducing albus a.k.a. seƱor fluff a.k.a the dood

oh the first of many, many posts about my doggle, albus. really, the best introduction is through pictures:

4 month old fuzz face

6 month old autumn beauty

1 year after his first hair cut

i gave albus his first hair cut using just a pair of scissors. it took hours! but i think he turned out pretty good looking. i did this in july, so by march the next year, his hair was beautiful and so long and wavy. i just loved it.

looking like quite the gentleman wizard, if i say so myself. 

but once it hit 70*, albus just seemed so uncomfortable, panting all day and sleeping on top of the AC vent. so it was time for a change. i decided to go for shorter than last year so he wouldn't be hot in september and october like he was last year. besides, i wanted to go for something a little more fun:

mohawk time! 

i went for 1/2" all over except his face which i tried to thin rather than shorten. i trimmed the beard a little and ran the clippers through his tail a few times just to clean it up a bit. he seems much happier and we are getting some awesome looks at the dog park.

i'll probably clip the mohawk off in a week or so when it gets too long to stand up, but it's fun for now.

Monday, March 22, 2010

missing jury duty

kind of a random entry here, but when i found out i had missed jury duty in atlanta, i freaked out. i mean, it says on the summons they can throw you in jail and fine you thousands of dollars! i googled "missing jury duty" only to find very little actual information. most people simply said, "you're better off just not missing it. the consequences are steep." DUH! i mean, doesn't everyone already know that? and why would you need to hear that AFTER you already missed jury duty?



just can't stand people that feel like they are offering you advice on what to do about a problem by saying you shouldn't have gotten yourself into the problem in the first place. thank you. captain. obvious.

so, the answer for what to do if you miss jury duty here in atlanta is this: simply call the number you were supposed to call to see if you as a stand by juror even needed to come in. press 6 in the automated menu to talk to a real person, tell them you wrote down the wrong date on your calendar for your summons and what should you do? they'll say (or at least my extremely calm and well-mannered man said): "it's okay. let's just reschedule you. how's mid may?" i said mid-may was fine and he said: "how about may 19?" i decided to push my luck at this point and say "well, if i have a choice, could i NOT do may 19 since that is my birthday?" he laughed and put me down for may 17. what an awesome guy.

here's to you, awesome guy at the jury summons office. thank you for being so understanding and helpful. i'll see you on may 17.