Hopelessly Devoted to Soaping

Hopelessly Devoted to Soaping

Monday, August 22, 2016

Bubble Party!

Hey All -  I want to share some pictures of the beautiful bridal shower my sister and I put on for my niece last weekend.  I've had the opportunity to make bridal gifts the past few years for my daughter's bridal showers, but "The Bubble Party" was a brilliant idea - courtesy of our bride, Lauren.  She asked me if it was possible to do a "create your own" bath boutique for her bridal shower.  YES!.. And it turned out to be such fun!

Her idea was to have a hands on fragrance bar where her guests could create a personal gift for
the bride, as well as something to take home
for themselves.  I made three batches of CP soap and Lauren chose to make bath salts, sugar scrubs and body butter, with an assortment of fragrance and essential oil choices. We rounded out the theme with sparkling wines and adorable "bubbly" decorations!

This was a party for all ages - both my grandmother and my granddaughter were each able to make something lovely.  (I think I see a budding protege in my future, don't you?). It turned out to be a very special day, and everyone went home happy and smelling gorgeous - overall a smashing success!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Personal Renewal

 Hello All -
Again, it's been awhile since I've posted, huh?  My life has taken some unexpected turns since January, that's for sure.  I believe in divine intervention, and I experienced one of those times in life that try your spirit.

In January I made a job change that I believed would be a great opportunity.  Guess what? I could not have been more wrong,  Within a few weeks, I knew I'd made a big mistake without a backup plan in sight.  In addition to the financial wake up call I was facing, my self confidence and gumption took a major hit. Although I had to give up my farmer's market gig, I refused to deny myself the physical pleasure and mental escape making soap provides me.

It took me some time to believe something better was on the horizon, but it was and I'm so grateful!  I had been focused on money, but for me the true reward I've received has been the people.  What a difference it makes to be surrounded by positive, supportive co-workers in a happy atmosphere!  I can now see I'd been struggling for a year or more under choking job stress was actually making me sick.  Now I can just breathe, do some good for people, enjoy my day and come home happy.  It's a whole new world!

Now, I've been able to regroup and rethink what I really want to do with this soap habit.  I've decided that I don't have to decide anything right now.  I'm just having fun introducing the concept handmade soap to the new people in my life and happily converting them one by one. 

And then - last week Hubby and I were able to get away for a well deserved little road trip.  We wanted to stay close to home, so we decided on Arkansas, for the beautiful scenery and low key atmosphere we were craving.  My husband got to indulge his own hobby by digging for Arkansas crystals, and I got to visit  Bathhouse Soapery in Hot Springs!  Bathhouse owner Charlene Simon was a presenter at Central Soaper's Workshop a couple of years ago....sadly, a day I had to miss, but I've been admiring her store and concept from afar ever since.  So once more, divine intervention allowed me the opportunity to visit and experience this gorgeous, fabuloso soap shop in person!

My impression?  Total Soap Nirvana!  This boutique style shop is full of beautiful natural light, streaming in on loaf after loaf and bar after bar of  colorful and gloriously fragrant soap!  HEAVEN on earth that dazzles the senses.  Although I didn't get to meet Charlene in person this time, I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with her fun, funky and knowledgeable staff.  This shop is right in the heart of historic Bathhouse Row, where the therapeutic, mineral filled waters have drawn health seekers and bathers to the area for over a century.  So, not only are the soaps beautiful, they are infused with that healing local spring water.  No matter what you choose, you get a true spa experience for the skin that can only be found in Hot Springs.  It was a tough decision, but I limited myself to purchasing only "a few" bars. I am stealing time to enjoy using them and believe I can feel my own renewal taking place as well.  Isn't it funny how things just work themselves out?


Monday, January 18, 2016

Vegan Readers - Beware....You should skip this one!

            Using Rendered Fats - 2016

In giving thought to reducing the amount of palm oil in my soaps, I've been considering experimenting with lard.  I will admit, yes, my very first thought was "I don't know...kinda gross!"   But I've had some good conversations with other soapmakers in recent months who have had super success with using both lard and tallow.  Some, like friend and colleague Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks are making the switch to rendered fats exclusively.  While I'm not ready for such an undertaking, I've been curious enough to give it a try.  

I spent a day researching and playing around with Soap Calc and came up with a recipe using these percentages:

    30% Olive Oil
    25% Coconut Oil
    20% Lard
    15% Rice Bran Oil
      6% Castor Oil
      4% Palm Kernel flakes (ok..I was still worried they would be too soft without a little palm :)

I used a 30% lye concentration and added 1 TBSP goat's milk powder to make a one pound trial batch.

These soap bars were made yesterday, and unmolded in about 16 hours.  They came out of the molds very easily, and 24 hours later, are already quite firm and super smooth to the touch.  While there was a very slight "cooking" type of odor when the lard was first melted, that went away when the other oils were added. I used Alkanet root (right) and Nettle Seed powder (left) as my only colorants.  I wanted to see how the fragrance oils might effect the color.  The white portion is uncolored...so far it's stayed very creamy white. This recipe held the fragrance well with no problems so far.  I just blended up some bits of this and that I've had left over from other batches, so very random scent combos, but they smell really nice.

I can't wait to test the lather, but it's going to be awhile...Sigh.  I will report back on the bubble factor.

All in all I am very impressed with the look and feel of these bars.  Next time I'll try this recipe in a loaf mold so I can see how cutting will go...these are so pretty, I'd hate to cut into them now.  (You know I will, right?)

I'd love to hear what your experience has been using animal fats.  I know this topic can be controversial, but all opinions matter for good conversations...let's just keep in friendly folks!