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Friday, July 31, 2009

Truly Touched By You

I want to thank all of you who took the time (and courage, I know for some of you) to come out of your comfortable place and tell me what you want from this blog. From me. I was beyond blown away by the things that were said. I have to admit to you I wasn't really prepared for the emotions that surfaced. Perhaps I am a bit more emotional at this point in my life, or this time of the month or this time of the year or whatever... I've put more of myself into this blog than I realized... Maybe I need this more than I care to admit to and that actually seeing that people are really reading this blog kind of stuns me even though google analytics tells me so. Those analytics are numbers... Comments are real. And so were the heart felt emails I received from people that were inspiring, life changing, incredible stories they shared with me that I am so honored to have been even part of their soap and life journeys that they are on. It brings me more joy than you know.

So as a part of my life is pivoting so is my blog and I am pleased to have you with me as we move together and I don't feel alone doing this. I absolutely love this and as long as I do, I will keep doing it so no worries about me stopping. Really, the point of me asking was to make sure I was touching the wants and needs of all of you.

Soap Porn
I think I hear you. We definitely need to keep the soap dope going. Porn is a good thing. We all love to look at the pretty soaps people are making and I love to gather it for hours every time and share it with you so it works out really well that it's my job.

check!

Reviews. Yes. It has been very rare lately and I will tell you why. For a long time I was getting loads of soap to test and review and it was going great. I was doing reviews all the time. Remember those days? Well. Life became busy, work, life, you know...reviews slowed down and so did deliveries of soap. Then I received a number of soap packages that I couldn't review. Didn't like the soap. This really stinks when this happens because I really do not want to make anyone sad and tell them I couldn't use their soap or review it. My policy is that if I don't like it, I won't review it. Period. I just won't bash soaps and their soap makers. Unfortunately, during the move into the new soap shop I lost 2 or 3 small soap packages and now no one knows whose soaps were lost or if theirs were rejected by me. Typically, I have an organized list and a soap cabinet where I have things labeled but when we moved the list went missing as well. My memory is like a sieve so all I can do is fess up right now and tell you that if you sent me soap and I have not reviewed it, please don't just assume I hated it. Get in touch with me, pleeeeease.

We will work it out.

So reviews will be back up very soon. That being said, I do need soap to review if you want your soap to be reviewed, this may be a good time. I will be taking a vacation from this Florida place for one week starting on Monday August 3rd and returning on August 10th. After the 10th I can receive soaps at my shop.

I need to start fresh.

Techniques and Tutorials
These are all thanks to guest bloggers which I try to get periodically because we need flavor over here. FLAVA! We all need to learn new things, teach new things, try new things. We have so many talented people among us, we have to dip into the vat of goodness, dont you think?

So, thank you to all of the tutorial makers of the past, and I urge any of you who would like to create tutorials for the future for The Soap Bar. It is good for all of us. Think about it, then get in touch with me.

I keep telling you: I don't bite.


Contests
Contests and Give-Aways... I haven't had those in awhile, it's true. I had some good ones, though, didn't I? My favorite one was the cereal challenge. :P Did you play that? It was more fun putting it together than playing scrabble. My kids had too much fun trying to stump you all with picking the cereals, too. I guess with postage going up and business costs increasing I just got cheap. Lame, I know. I will spice it up and do one soon. I'll try to think of something fun while I am on my road trip relaxing and unwinding....

  • Business Tips, balancing home/work. Great topic. I hadn't thought about that. Should really talk about that. Didn't think anyone would be interested in me rambling, really. Just SOAP SOAP SOAP.
  • My hair? OK, I will post a picture of me soon. Not crazy about my hair right now.
  • oil properties: I can list those.... list more resources and guides...
I have a lot to do here with you. For you. But I think I have been going in the right direction and I am so glad that you have spoken your mind. I urge you to continue to comment and tell me what you'd like and what you want to share, whether it be your experiences, thoughts, pjhotos or soaps.

This is not just my blog. To me, you are my community. You.

And thanks for making me cry.

***

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

You As My Rock

I love to write this blog. I really do. It gives me great pleasure and every time a comment is left, I get excited, like when I was a kid finding presents under the tree with my name on it.

Well under 1% of you leave comments on a regular basis and the rest of you are just readers, and that's ok. I read a lot of blogs that I don't leave comments on. I will, say, however, that I am wondering if I am continuing to interest you, finding interesting topics, keeping it real enough, providing enough soap porn...etc. I would LOVE to get feedback on what you might love, like, would rather see less of, more of, none of....

This blog is not about me. It is about the soap community and bringing us together and there is, of course, some personal ramblings and funny finds that make me giggle. I really just can't help myself with that. It comes with the territory.

Anyway, I would love to address topics that are important, discuss new techniques you may want to share, places you think the community should know about. Send me the name of a great new handmade artisan that you think is awesome. I love to find new soap artists! There are so many things that can be talked about, brought up, shown, shared, done. Open my mind to the world of soap!

Really.

You might be sitting back and lurking and I get it. You don't have to get involved, but I would love it if you could share 3 or 4 words.

Just a comment. ... .. .. ..

Just Say It



thanks to sweetspot labs

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Haus of Gloi




I stumbled on this Etsy artist with this one photo that caught my eye:


The Lavender Sugar soap


...which as you know isn't my scent at all. Not a lavender girl. But the look of that soap made me swoon. Then I started to browse the rest of the shop, and saw the other soap and bath beauties. So creatively designed, nicely photographed and uniquely packaged.

Haus of Gloi? HOUSE OF JOY! I had so much fun jumping from one product to another. I was like a child in a candy shop!

Absinthe soap



Moon Dog coconut -spices-sandalwood


Honey Tree
honey-woods-black vanilla-coconut milk



Elevenes
sugared almond-hot black tea-orange cake (loving the crackle!)


Satyr blood orange-black vanilla-charcoal (looks edible, mmmm)


Bathing Dust. Shea Butter Salts


So after tripping over all of these great photos of product I realize I have been following Britton for months now on Twitter and didn't realize this was her until just this second. Funny. I found her on my own because of the beauty of her work. Not just because she's marketed herself.

According to the profile on her Etsy shop, Britton lost her job a little while ago and and is trying to make soap making a full time gig and loves what she does. To me, that's apparent. Her work is lovely, unique, beautiful to look at. Having one's own business is hard work and needs constant perserverence, but I love that she has gumption and the drive! Now the talent.

You can check out her blog here to follow what she's up to now and definitely visit her Etsy shop.


Impressive line up.

Who's the culprit?

**


Friday, July 24, 2009

Beauty By The Batch



Beauty By The Batch is the brand spanking new website dedicated to promoting artisans of handmade skin and home care products. Awesome. You know who conceptualized it? Natural Sourcing (From Nature With Love). I was contacted by one of the overall media/project organizers there to be a first featured artisan and was thrilled beyond belief to even be considered. Vaclemt, I was! Alongside Product Body are some really fantastic companies that you can look up. The site is also so easy on the eyes.... You can search for companies, suggest an artisan, read articles on all types of topics. It has so much information in one place, you won't need to go anywhere for a while. I think this is an excellent concept.

I also would like to shout out to Emmy of The Natural Beauty Workshop who had a lot to do with Product Body being a part of the new launch. Thank you.

*

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If You're Short On Time, Lazy + Need A Quick Dinner Recipe

We all have days like this. Some of us, more than others.

I had food in some places in my home and my husband was in Ft. Lauderdale picking up my daughter at the airport (Jealous. She was in Austin, Texas for 5 days), my son had his sweet friend, Amy over and my stomach was grumbling.

I needed to cook and I had no food plans, not a meal plan in sight and people to feed. This is what I came up with. This is a quick step by step no nonsense, so easy recipe that might take you 10-15 minutes to make.

  • Make pasta. Drain. Set it aside.
  • In a frying pan or saute pan, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 FAT cloves of minced fresh garlic. Saute.
  • Once nice and bubbly, add one cup of frozen shelled edamame and 1/8 cup water.
  • Let simmer, uncovered for 3 minutes.
  • Get CAN of (oh yeah I'm not joking) Progresso white clam sauce.
  • Add to garlicky soupy edamame saute and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce a bit
  • Combine pasta and sauce together back in large crock pot until all is sizzling nicely (fried spagetts!)
Sadly when everyone came home, Brad wanted his left over chili, Nina wanted a cheese and jalapeno injected hot dog (puke!) and Desmond wanted the pasta with cheddar melted on top. I was the only one who enjoyed the lazy meal.

Some lazy meal. I prepared 4 of 'em!



Canned food to the rescue! This doesn't happen often in my house, so you can see
how happy I was when it worked out for me =)

*

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Coconut Vanilla With A Creamy Dollup On Top

Made you look. =)

You don't have to tell me I don't make any sense. I already know.

Oh, a vanilla dollup.....dreamy..... and coconut, yummmmmmm. So being that we are on the subject of my favorite things...

1. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (but strangely, I have never received a case of the glorious cuppies from Hershey's Co. even though I have plugged their candy on numerous occasions. I question their loyalty, really)
2. Mounds candy. I know, I don't talk about them much, but I do love the dark chocolate coconut thing.
3. Steamed lobster with clarified butter (haven't had that in like 5 years)
4. Fresh, phenomenal sushi (haven't had that since I lived in NYC.)

Hmmm. Are you seeing a pattern? f o o d. . . ? It's a wonder I'm not huge.

But you ask me what is floating my boat right now? The idea of a coconut vanilla bar of soap with real smelling coconut. That's what I want in my shower. I have 5 other bars in there, but none of them are hitting that mark. So today, I am on the lookout for coconut vanilla art.

vanilla coconut made with real vanilla and coconut milk by DeShawnMarie





vanilla bean coconut milk soap by SoapStore
6 oz! Yowza




coconut cream pie with shea butter by Soap Deli
(scent coconut, vanilla and graham crackers)





coconut vanilla by plantlife

So, this is the first time I didn't have a PLETHORA of soaps to choose from. Strange... Surprise surprise. These were the standouts of the "bunch" but DeShawn Marie takes the cake with popularity on the web - - this soap is all over the web. Must smell pretty good.


And then I will continue...***sniff*** to search out true coconut..... and maybe one of you will help me discover it.

***

Soap reviews to resume again shortly. I have been on review vacation. Thanks for understanding.

It's A Soap Seduction ... A Soap Cupcake Tutorial

...by Patrice Harrison of Soap Seduction

I’d like to thank Joanna for giving me this opportunity to share this special project with you.
Cupcakes are the rage everywhere-from baking to bath and body products! I love to make soap and I love cupcakes. How wonderful to be able to combine my two loves and make something sweet, whimsical, and functional. I warn you that soap making itself is a dirty job, but cupcake soap making is an even messier, but fun and rewarding endeavor! Wear old clothes or an apron when working with whipped soap because it tends to get everywhere (at least for me it does)! The original recipe calls for 1 pound of whipped soap base and about 18 oz oz. of melt and pour soap. Once you combine and whip the melt and pour and whipped soap base, it really doubles in size, so we’re going to pare this down a bit. This recipe should yield enough frosting for at least 2 cupcakes, if not more, depending on the size of them. Let’s get started!
Here’s what you’ll need to make your cupcake soap(s):




• Cupcake mold or silicone baking cups. Basically you want a “base” on which you can decorate with your soap frosting
• Electric hand mixer
• Mixing bowl that you’ll use for soap making only (plastic, glass, metal-I’ve used them all)
• Wooden spoon or whisk
• Cake decorator with various decorating tips (I bought mine at Wal-Mart for about $10.00)
• Cupcake or muffin silicone soap mold (I use a cupcake mold because I like the realistic appearance once I “frost “ it.)
• 2 TSP of fragrance (cupcake fragrances are ideal but whatever fragrance tickles your fancy)
• Non-bleeding soap dye (micas or oxides work best IMO)
• 8 oz of whipped soap base (I like Wholesale Supplies Plus or Brambleberry)
• 8 oz of white melt and pour soap base (I’m a fan of WSP natural soap base and SFIC Corp)
• Alcohol in a spritzing container
• Pipette or measuring spoons
• Glass measuring cup (at least a 2 cup capacity)
• Microwave oven
• Stearic acid - I use 1 tbsp per 8 oz.(optional)
• Vanilla stabilizer - For the stabilizer, I personally mix equal amounts with my FO, so in this case, it would be 2 tsp. (optional to use with your soap cupcake, not the actual frosting itself)
• Soap glitter or candy sprinkles (optional)


Step One:
Before we even begin to make our frosting, you’ll need to make your “cupcake”. For my cupcake soaps, I’m using an actual cupcake soap from a mold that I got years ago on Ebay. You can use a silicone cupcake or muffin mold to create your base.



(This is a pic of the how the cupcake I’m going to decorate looks.)

Step Two:
• Add your whipped soap base to your mixing bowl.


Step Three:
• Melt your M&P soap in short bursts in the microwave. There’s nothing worse than burnt soap so go easy on the micro zapping! You also don’t want the soap piping hot because it will liquefy your whipped soap base. If that happens, you should wait until it cools and begins to solidify. Otherwise, the soap won’t be “whippable”.



• If you’re using stearic acid (it’s a hardener used in M&P soaps to raise the melt point), add it to the soap base now. Stir well until all the stearic acid is completely dissolved.
• At this point you’re ready to add your FO and vanilla stabilizer if you’re using a scent that contains vanilla.
• Now that the M&P soap is melted and cooled, add it to the whipped soap .
• Now let’s make this baby come to life!

Step Four:
• If you’re coloring your frosting, you can add it to your soap mixture now.
• Slowly mix the ingredients with your mixer on the lowest speed until everything is incorporated. Gradually increase the speed until the soap mixture begins to form the texture of cake frosting.


• Don’t over-whip the soap because it can deflate. You want it to be the consistency of Cool Whip. Once you achieve this, STOP WHIPPING THE SOAP or you’ll risk it deflating!


Step Five:
• Now that your soap is whipped, colored, and scented, you’re ready to add it to your cake decorator.
• Spoon the mixture in your decorator until it’s almost full. Choose any tip that you like. For this project, I’m using the “star” tip because I’m going to do the continuous swirl effect.



• I suggest before you use the decorator, that you may want to do a couple of practice runs if you’ve never used one before. I was initially a little intimidated, but after a few tries, I was a pro!
• Now that your decorator is filled, and you’re ready to decorate your cupcake, you’ll want to spritz the top of your cupcake with alcohol. This will aid in adhesion.

Step Six:
• This is the step where you are free to express your creativity! Decorate the top of your cupcake anyway that you please. Add your sprinkles or glitter at this point.


• Once your cupcake is finished, you’ll want to set it aside to let it harden. I let mine “cure” for at least 3 days until the frosting is nice and firm. The stearic acid really comes in handy here.
When your cupcake is ready, package it in a cute cupcake box or a clear cello bag and top with a ribbon. The choices are endless. Here are a few examples of how I decorate my cupcakes.





Before you even ask if the leftover frosting is reusable, I don’t know because I’ve never had a lot of it to find out. I have used what little I did have left to make little meringue soap cookies, and decorated the tops of soaps, and they were really cute!

I encourage you to play with whipped soap if you’ve never tried it. You’d be surprised at what you can create with it!


Patrice can be found in SO many places!

www.TheSoapSeduction.artfire.com

www.thesoapseduction.etsy.com

www.thesoapseduction.1000markets.com

http://thesoapseduction.blogspot.com


Thank you, Patrice, for your generosity and for your beautiful tutorial. You are a wonderful artist! I am proud to have you be my guest!! Hugs for you.


*

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going Bananas

With a name like Joanna it's hard not to get tagged with a nickname like Joanna Banana while you are growing up. I still get the occasional, "banana!" when my Dad calls or comes off a plane. Being that I just ate a yummy banana, I thought it would be a perfect time to feature banana soap. It is one of my favorite smelling baked goods and I love banana anything, really.

I found these lovelies so you can see them too. :O)


Banana Brulee soap by Naiad


Banana soap by live laugh love



Banana Chips- mini guest soaps by soapopotamus



Beastie Bar by kzsox :: choc. banana soap :: (Kim of Stella Marie Soap)
oh I think this one is a favorite of mine this month



Ana's Banana Buddy Bar with collectible coin inside. Available at circle of friends.



If you've made banana soap, send me a picture! Maybe we'll share!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Holiday Stuff That Caught My Eye

c a n d y!


Paper Lanterns
(found these on "How to decorate paper lanterns cheap and easy" on Associated Content)



Independence Day themed wedding cake made by
Philadephia's Whipped Bakeshop



Red, white and blue parfaits... mmm
looks just like a photo taken from the Martha Stewart Magazine. You are RIGHT!
You can find these on www.marthastewart.com


4th of July Soapsicles by anniepoo


Patriotic cupcake soap by machinegunlullaby

Enjoy your goodies on this 4th of July!

*

Friday, July 3, 2009

Summer Ads

I've lowered the rates through the Summer here on this blog so you can advertise your art, business, supplies, whatever you do or sell.

The economy sucks.

Get your name out there.

Get noticed.

jo(at)productbody.com

:O)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Piece Of Advice

When you are working in a lab, try to refrain from tasting things that have not been labeled. I suppose it could have been poison, but I was lucky. That full body shiver I had almost threw my back out. Ew..

It has been confirmed. It was citric acid. Know how I know? Because I had to confirm that the labeled citric acid tasted the same. Don't try it at home because I can tell you it really does not taste good and you are better off licking the bottom of your shoe.

What was I thinking? That is was sugar?