Wednesday, 9 November 2011

In all its ugly glory :)

Here is my 'Down Under' Soap.  The camera doesn't pick up the green too well.  It is a bright green almost a cross between Avocado and Lime.  I wonder how well the colour will hold up.  It smells very refreshing and the colour is perfect for the scent.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mixing Business with Pleasure

Wow it's been a while!  Here is why...

This is my first Christmas selling my products, in fact I have only been selling now for a few months.  Everyone warned me that starting a new business was hard, but they weren't telling the whole truth -it is near impossible!
The effort that goes into experimenting, testing, creating, packaging, promoting, actually making the product, and PLANNING (sigh), is hard work.  The average person doesn't realise that soap takes 4-6 weeks to cure, so can you imagine how difficult it is to predict how each market will go, and how much soap you will have left over to add to the newly made soap, for the following market - 6 weeks in advance.

So I have been running myself ragged making every soap I can afford to make.  My curing rack is stocked to the brim, I have spend weeks packaging, and I am ready - I think!?  I am broke, and with every penny I have invested in my brand new business, I am hoping for fine weather, and happy customers with bulging wallets over the next few weeks :)

So when all this happens, and the blood, sweat and tears (lots of tears) start to become a little overwhelming,  I decided to take a day off (for the first time in as long as I can remember).  And guess what I did with my day off - I made soap! lol
Not customer driven soap, not 'pretty soap' that will hopefully sell, but experimental, all for me and no-one else soap - and I loved every minute of it!  I was reminded of why I love this addiction so much, and what I had begun to loose sight of.

So here it is:

A delicious Cucumber soap (my first ever), with Parsley for colour and scented with EO of Eucalyptus, Peppermint, and Tea Tree.  It is miles away from every other soap I sell, and for the first time in a long time, I can't wait to cut it.  I am going to call it 'Down Under'

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

I nailed it! :)

I have a love hate relationship with Oatmeal, Milk and Honey soap. it's beautiful to use and I love the 'wholesomeness' of the bar.  However I hate making it. I've had it overheat (many times), I've burnt the honey and the milk, I've had it separate, and I can't for the life of me get it to look a beautiful creamy colour.  I have made some bars that are good - but not great. 
So you can imagine my happiness when I FINALLY got it.  I am 100% happy with this batch.  I did a couple of things differently - I used a different honey, I warmed a small portion of the milk and mixed the honey in with that and added it at a thicker trace, and I added oats that were ground a lot finer.

All these things seemed to have given me the bar I was looking for :)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Salt Bars

A while back I made some salt bars.  A simple 100% coconut recipe.  I love them, but not for my body, more for my face.  I use mine religiously as a facial bar, and its fantastic for combination skin.
However, I have decided that I needed to revamp this simple recipe and add a little bit of luxury to them.  So I have now made a batch with coconut oil, Shea butter and a tiny bit of Castor.  I'm so excited about these, they are scented with Eucalyptus and peppermint and are 99.99% natural ( I just had to add a couple of drops of colour) -  these need a super long cure, so I'll let you know what I think in 6 months ;) lol

Thursday, 11 August 2011

A new Look?

I hadn't made soap for a while, until I received a few new fragrances last week.  Since then, I have been making up for lost time.
I have a new recipe, as I am now planning on going palm free.  My new recipe has lots of Shea butter in it, which seems to give my batter a creamer texture, is slower to trace and beautiful to work with.  So my new batches are now taking on a life of their own.  They are simpler, less colourful and I guess less technical.  But I like it.  
When I first began soaping, I decided I would call my business K.I.S.S as I was once told on a forum to 'keep it simple sweetie', and it's something I have to remind myself every time I make a batch.
Sometimes there is beauty in simplicity.

So here are some of my 'simpler' soaps

This is a Vanilla and Cinnamon soap - I didn't use ANY colour in this, just a little TD.  This could be a first for me!

The dark swirl is vanilla, the tan is cinnamon and the white is unscented

Berry and Cherry - O.k this has a little bit of colour and a touch of glitter, but I only used one colour

and a tiny swirl ;)

and a beer, oat and honey soap, scented with sandalwood. Simple.

Friday, 5 August 2011

8 colour swirl

Today I attempted my second in the mold swirl.  I have discovered a fragrance from Sweet Cakes called Cucumber Melon.  It slows down trace, so is perfect for multi swirl, so I decided to to try 8 colours.  It is a mix of pinks, purples and blues, with a little black and white.  The pics have come out a little darker than the soap, and as it has cured the purples and pinks have come out more:

My colours

The colours after pour

First swirled with a spoon

Then with a skewer
After cutting

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Gold Bar

I ordered some organic unrefined beeswax from a farm that was selling on Trade Me.  There name is Huttons Honey. 
When I picked it up wrapped from the post office, the lady behind the counter said 'for some reason this reminds me of a gold bar!'.  When I got it home and unwrapped it, I thought she couldn't have been more spot on!

I just think it looks delicious

Only $20 for 1kg

Or maybe it's just because it reminds me of a block of soap!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cupcakes :)

So yesterday I made 'real' cupcakes.  I thought it might be an opportunity to brush up on my piping skills.  Hmmmm....I think I'll stick to soap - they didn't go quite to plan :(

But here are some soap ones that did!

I've got 2 batches - one is Hazelnut, coffee and cinnamon, the other Cranberry.  I've also managed to source these cute little boxes that fit perfectly.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

A day of reflection

I am a very private person, so it feels strange to be writing this.  But I think there is healing in sharing, not just for the writer but also for the reader.  So here is my story......

In January of this year I suffered my second miscarriage.  I was 11 weeks pregnant and an ultrasound revealed that my babies heart had stopped 2 days before.

Today is significant because it would have been my babies birthday.  

There are many milestones to be passed both in pregnancy and in miscarriage, my due date was the last in my journey.  Grief is a funny thing, sometimes we surprise ourselves with how well we are coping, and sometimes it just sneaks up and crushes us with its relentless ferocity.
I have surprised myself, I am coping just fine.  I have spent the last couple of days reflecting on how things would have been, how different I would look, and how much I have missed.
There are a few things I have learnt in my 9 month journey:

1.  Bad things happen to the best of people.  Sometimes these are out of our control, and no amount of bargaining, blaming or anger will change this.  
2.  It's just as important to forgive ourselves as it is others
3.  Tragedy gives us two choices - we can either survive or surrender.  I choose to survive.
4.  Be nice to strangers, we never know what impact our words will have on others.  Some of the kindest words I received were from people I had never met before, although they will never know it - their kindness got me through some of the toughest days.
5.  Priorities - it's not about how much money we make, or the status of our jobs.  At the end of the day family comes first.
6.  The importance of passion - channelling the grief you feel from loss into something you are passionate about, is not only healing, but also provides us with the ability to succeed beyond any measures.
7.  Sometimes tragedy opens the doors we never knew were shut.  Under the instruction of my Dr's, family and partner I was told to slow down.  I gave up a job that had defined me.  I found my passion, and I took my hobbie of soap making to the next level. 
8.  Stop and smell the Roses - there is beauty in many things, and sometimes the simplest things like a sunset, cooking a meal, watching the rain or spending time in the garden can be overlooked when we preoccupy ourselves with things that don't really matter.

So these are my reflections.  It seems my journey is only just beginning and I love where it is taking me.  With every batch I make I am reminded of the road I have taken and as I dedicate every bar I make to the baby I have lost, I know that I am making the best out of a bad situation.

I had scattered a few tulips through the garden a couple of months ago.  I couldn't remember where I had planted them.  Yesterday I found this one.  It seems to fit here for some reason or another.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


I think for me the progression from handmade soap to handmade body products was only natural.  I love creating things, I love being able to use MY product, a product I designed, tested, tweaked and eventually loved.  I cant think of anything more satisfying.

But on reflection, I have begun to realise that it was actually the other way around.  I have been making my own face masks, conditioners, foot soaks and steam baths since I was at school.  I used to cut out recipes from Mum's mags.  Oatmeal, avocado and milk masks, egg and beer conditioners, I was forever tinkering. But alas a busy life took over and my creations took a back seat.

Now I have the freedom to experiment, research, develop and trial my creations.  I now have a better understanding of oil and additive properties.  I know how to use an emulsifier and what the benefits of this are, and I have learnt the importance of preservatives, and most of all I have learnt, that handmade products can be better than commercial products.  

I am doing what I love and I have rediscovered my passion ..... for me the word FREEDOM is significant.......

So on that note, here are some pics of my latest tinkerings.  Bath bombs combined with bath melts.  The ultimate in luxury - they are divine :)  I have used Shea and Cocoa Butter in these, and added an emulsifier so that the oils don't float on the top, but mix nicely with the water resulting in a luxury 'lotion' type bath.  I have named them 'Butter Bombs'......

Ginger Kiss butter bomb

Zest (lemon & lime) Butter Bomb

Hubba Hubba (Spicy Cranberry) Butter Bomb

Egyptian Musk Butter Bomb

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

mmmm coffee......

I'm a huge fan of foodie type soap.  My mouth waters at the sight of them, so here's a couple of pics of my newest soap.  Hazelnut, coffee and cinnamon.....ahhh smells delicious. 

It's made with fresh goats milk, which I thought was quite appropriate ;)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Almost forgot!

With the chaos that has become the Christchurch norm, I almost forgot to post my cut pics of the blue swirl soap.  So here it is:

 I need to work on my cutting, these bars are huge!  Weighing around 150 grams!  I think I might have to save up for a slab mold with dividers ;)

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Time for a Give away!

I think NZ needs some cheering up after recent events, so I have decided to hold a monthly draw to give away prizes.  All you need to do is like my Facebook page via the link on the left of this screen.  Winners will be drawn and announced on the first of every month.  This month I am giving away a bar of my NEW Apple Jack soap. This soap is scented with Apple, Cinnamon and Clove and is perfect for winter.  Good luck :)

(Sorry NZ residents only)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Just Like Christmas!

I think the thing I love most about making soap, is the unveiling of the creation.  For me the morning after a pour is just like Xmas, the anticipation, the excitement, never knowing what your gonna get, and yes sometimes the disappointment (when its not what you had hoped for)

Tonight is like Xmas eve.  I have made my first ever slab mold - yay!  I've been waiting for my dear partner to make me one (in like forever!) so you can imagine my excitement when I came across a wooden box that  had at home and it is PERFECT.

Here is a sneak peak at my newest creation:

Its a 5 colour swirl.  My first 'in the mold swirl' and I'm pretty happy with it so far.  The fragrance is a dupe of Ralph Laurens Blue fragrance (hence the blue overload) - I've used this fragrance in the past, but I decided to relaunch it with a new look!  Its pretty and powdery and floral all at the same time.  LOVELY!!

Will post cut pics in the morn

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A glass and a half of goodness :)

Cleopatra bathed in milk but that is soooo last century, this season its all about chocolate.............

I love trying new soap recipes, and to be honest I don't venture away from my regular recipe all that much.  But then I thought dang it!  I'm going to try something new.
I have been hunting for the perfect chocolate scent.  Its actually harder to come by than you might think.  There is nothing available in New Zealand that even resembles chocolate, and my regular Australian supplier doesn't stock any chocolate fragrances.
So you can imagine my delight when I was FINALLY able to source an awesome chocolate fragrance.  Again this one is imported, but from a new supplier who has a whole range of delicious scents.

My goal is to create the ULTIMATE chocolate bar (of soap).  I figure what better way to do this than to increase the cocoa butter, add some milk and add some dark chocolate.

Here's how I did it :)

There are 2 ways you can add goats milk to your recipe, I am going to do it the easy way.  To do this I am going to split the total liquid needed.  Part will be water to dissolve my lye, and the second will be goats milk added at trace.

First I prepare my recipe. 

This batch is going to have a whooping 30% cocoa butter. This will be added to my other oils and melted down.
Here is my minimum requirement of water added to my lye 
I have my other additions ready.  Goats milk, and Lindt chocolate.  I am premelting the chocolate.
Once my lye mixture and oils are at the correct temperatures I combine them.  I am going to stir this by hand as I want to give the mixture time to cool (so my goats milk doesn't overheat) and so I don't bring this batch to a heavy trace.  I want it just emulsified, because I know that when I add the chocolate and the milk things are going to set up pretty quick.
Here it is just emulsified, it took about 10mins of stirring to get it to this consistency.
Now I slowly add my milk, stirring the whole time.
As you can see, the mixture has thickened up, and has a lovely creamy appearance.
Now I add the melted chocolate (I have used about 20grams for a 1kg batch, any more and the soap will run brown when washing)
Yummo - I have to remind myself that this is soap!
Once combined I then add my fragrance oil, and pour.
I then get a spoon and dip it into some more melted chocolate, I am doing this to create delicious chocolate swirls.
All done!
And here it is cut, it looks and smells just like chocolate.  Now I just have to wait 4 weeks......