Saturday, May 31, 2008

Union Street Soapworks

union street soapworks

Nate and Jen Whaley (aren't they cute?)
Union Street soapmakers

In one of my previous soap posts, I talked about simplicity in packaging and I have discovered a soap company that also successfully packages simply.  I have had the pleasure of testing a few of their bars.  My favorites are Toasted Coconut, Orange Peel and Sandstone.

Sandstone has an amazing texture.  It feels extremely exfoliating but with a fine sand-like texture.  I loved it!  I love exfoliating bars, and this one may be my favorite so far.  Small sandy pumice and ground apricot seed makes my skin sing, and it's softening because it's packed with shea butter to condition the skin.  I only had a tiny sample to work with, so I scrubbed on my whole body and used it all up.  Lovely!!

Toasted Coconut
I got a whole bar of this one - it was chunky and industrial looking.  I loved it.  The scent was not as coconut-y as I had hoped but it was still very smooth and tropical.  It was a dark brown and lathered beautifully.  Nice bar.  All gone.

Orange Peel
I had a little sample of this one, too.  Pure heaven.  The scent was as if I took an orange and sliced it freshly - it was the real deal as far as scents go.  They nailed this one perfectly with the scent and I recommend that if you like the smell of orange that you rush over there and get some.  

Their bars are hefty at 5 ounces a piece.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Strawberry Banana Soap

Final short bars

Strawberry Banana soap before curing

Last night I was determined to make a Summer soap.  I made strawberry banana soap, uncolored, with cranberry seed sprinkles.  I really like the way it came out except I made too little soap, so my bars are quite short.  I wish they had 2 more inches of height.  I smell Summer!

Recipe for this batch:
Coconut Oil: 12 oz
Palm Oil: 14 oz
Soybean Oil: 10 oz
Walnut Oil: 2 oz.
5% Superfat - 5.5 oz.
Water: 12.5 oz.
Banana fragrance
Strawberry fragrance
Cranberry seeds

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Basic Packaging Serves Up Beauty

With all the fancy packaging that I've seen in the soap industry, sometimes the most simplistic, generic packaging makes the biggest statement of all.

Suzanne Graham For You makes handcrafted soap using real veggie purees, oils, spring water and botanicals - completely all natural.  Her packaging is on my list of favorites right now.  Here are a few examples.

She even has a mongo big bar for the mongrel in your life.

I wish she sold her beauty bars here in the States, but for now you can purchase them on line or getting them physically from a handful of Ontario locations.  I may have to break down and but the ki-lime or banana baby bars.  Don't they look good?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ceci Cela Almond

I was sent Ceci Cela's products for review and I've had them for quite some time.  I am really having a hard time getting through all my bars of soap.  You see, when I love a bar of soap, it is hard for me to move on to the next one.  I like to linger a bit with them.

There are three products this company offers.  An Almond Moisturizing Body Bar With Oatmeal (with the cool nubbies on one side) and two Lip Balms - one in Almond and one in Spearmint.  That's it.

Let's start with the bar.  It had a delicious scent of Almonds when I opened up the packaging and looked like this, all nubby and smooth.  

It wasn't too sharp or strong of a scent, it was mellow and sweet.  A very nice bar to awaken the senses.  I tried the nubby side on the skin and then as a finger grip, but I was sort having trouble understanding the nub-concept.  I was seriously nubby challenged.  I looked like I should have been wearing a helmet and riding the short bus.  

After a few minutes of lathering and cleaning and fumbling about with the alien bar, I noticed that it became more exfoliating.  Mmm?  As I continued to rub a dub, I became more satisfied with the nubby side because I finally got the purpose of it.  With the exfoliating oatmeal exposed and the smooth side being, well, smooth I got into it completely.  I think I scrubbed and cleaned myself for a good 15 minutes before I even got to washing my feet or shaving my legs.  Oh, the feet.  Once the nubbies were worn down a bit and the exfoliator claws were out, I had a field day with my feet.   I really just needed someone ELSE to rub my feet with it so I could relax.  Can I get someone over here to rub my feet please?  

The lip balm was mighty smooth and creamy.  It didn't glop on or grit passed my lips, it glided with the grace of a ballerina.  I kid you not.   It is SPF 15 for sun protection and includes Vitamin E, aloe and beeswax among the ingredient list it comes with.  The Almond was sweet and sexy, while the Spearmint was wakey-wakey fresh and clean.

The only thing I noticed about the soap, which really didn't bother me, was that it kind of lost its initial scent.  It smelled clean with a hint of almond, but not so much Almond-y.

I do not think her soap is handmade, but it was still yummy and I give it a thumbs up.  I also think Ceci is a lovely person!

Blood Orange Basil Mint Sorbet

Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy is a food blog I discovered a few months ago and I can't help but drool just about every time I visit it.  Sharon writes about her food creations and shares recipes, too.  

I am trying to think how to make a soap that's tropical and gorgeous and colorful like the picture.  If I can figure out how to make similar colors in my soaps, I am going to attempt the blood orange minty yummy sorbet thingy.  If anyone else gives it a try, send pictures!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Product Radar :: Lily Bay Soap & Sundry

Lily Bay Soap - an Etsy find.  I'm glad I did because it is the eye candy, soap porn that I needed this morning.  These are some of my favorites.  She has plenty more where these came from.  Now it is 9:30 in the morning and I am ready for an ice cream.  Thanks Lily Bay for the extra calories I will now insert into my hips.

Ice cream cone soap - whipped cold process soap

Soap Stars - whipped cold process soap

Cerveza con cal  (Beer soap... made with beer instead of water!)

Orange soap with bentonite clay and shea butter

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Soap Dish Soap Making Supplies: 15% Off Sale

The Soap Dish is having a sale!!  15% Memorial Day Sale

They are a family owned soap making supplier that I highly respect.  They are super honest and they try to pass along savings to their customers when they get a break in price.  From Thursday, May 22, through the end of Memorial Day, get 15% off orders of $35 or more.

Sale ends Monday, May 26th at 12 am EST.

"We value the craftsmanship and quality of products and raw materials originating from the United States, and wish to encourage our local and national economy. With this in mind, The Original Soap Dish® strives to utilize as many local resources as possible in sourcing raw materials. From our custom manufactured soap boxes to our Emu oil and honey powder, we are proud to offer raw materials and products made in the USA."

Upcoming Reviews

Union Street Soap, toasted coconut...

Ceci Cela, almond body bar...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Almond Layered Playdoh Smelling Soap

Not sure I love them.  In my mind I thought they'd be much cuter.... and smell not like almond scented playdoh.

My recipe:
Soybean Oil 16 oz
Coconut Oil (76 degrees) 12 oz
Cocoa Butter 4 oz.
Beeswax 1 oz
lye 4.8 oz (superfatted at 5%)
Almond fragrance
top layer added blue and green soap colors (why is it pink?)

I think it is time to spring for some new Lab Colors from Brambleberry.  The ones I have work in bath and body but not soap, even though they are called "Soap Colors".  Hmmph.

My next batch will be a fresh scent with a beige-brown hue.  A request from a loved one.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lori Nova:: Award Winning Swirling Champ

Lori Nova owner and teacher at The Nova Studio in California, sent these soaps for me to try.  Aren't they beautiful? The Nova Studio is a workshop where Lori teaches many different classes/tutorials on: cold and hot process soap making, candle making, bath melts and bombs as well as many other crafty courses.  I so wish I were closer so that I could take her classes.  They sound like so much fun!  I wrote about her soap making boot camp before and it sounds like a BLAST!

I love the swirls in all the soaps she sent, obviously, but then the little packaging... simple cello bags with cute handmade tags and thin raffia to bind it all together.  The final touches certainly do speak to me. It shows how much time and care goes into it all.
The soap I tried and kept going back to, was the Lemon Cinnamon soap.  At first sniff, it smelled a little like mulled cider with a hint of lemon.  BUT, when I bathed with it, it exploded with the scent of lemon with a hint of spicy cinnamon.  It was fabulous!!  I wouldn't have put the two scents together thinking they were too foreign to each other, but it worked so well and they melded together like a ballroom dancing couple, dancing.

The size was perfect.  It was on the smallish side, but not skimpy at all.  It was also a bit thicker than a typical bar, but the shape worked quite well in my hands and the suds came willingly and easily as I rubbed my hands together.  I must say that it was a refreshing bar to shower with and it gave me the boost I so desperately needed yesterday morning.

Thank you so much, Lori, for the gorgeous soapy artwork.  No wonder you are The Soap Making Guru.  

Please check out her site and also her blog to stay informed about what is going on in the soap world and at her soap studio.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No Soap Molds

This weekend was a very busy family weekend and I never got to Home Depot for caulk and I couldn't find a good make shift wooden drawer or box at either garage sale I went to.  So my plans to make the lined soap mold with silicone caulk fell by the wayside.

It was HOT this weekend, with temperatures hitting 95 degrees with a million percent humidity. South Florida is experiencing a drought and half the lawns in my town, Tequesta, are brown and flowering bushes look sad and empty.  The moisture in the air is just teasing the plants heartlessly.  I think the last time it rained here was well over a month ago, maybe two.

It is hysterical that the motor in our water pump for the sprinkler system blew out just as it stopped raining, so my poor husband has to run around with the three sprinklers to saturate each section of our property every few days.  (We are only allowed to water two days a week: Thursday and Saturday from 4pm - midnight).  Mandatory drought restrictions.

I have reviews to do on Lori's soap (THe NOva Studio), but this will have to wait until tomorrow, as I just don't have it in me to write something eloquent this morning.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Lining Your Soap Molds With Silicone Caulk

I have been struggling with the soap mold lining dilemma.  I have tried the garbage bag.  That leaves deep creases in the soap loaf. Waste of soap, because you either have to cut of the creases or have it be ugly.  

I have tried doing this wax paper cutting/fitting thing, and I am spatially and measuring-ly inept.  I even used BitterCreek's instruction sheet on how to line a wooden soap mold.   There is a lot of measuring, cutting, creasing, taping and doing it right in that tutorial.  This is a great LOOKING tutorial and if you are a crafty attention-to-detail with your fingers person, great.  Go check it out. I am not someone who can master that with the time I have and frustration levels I climb to.  Soap making is supposed to be fun for me, not a lining challenge.  The last thing I want to do is spend more time trying to line a mold than making the soap.  

It comes out perfect, and when I do it, it looks like a hyper Jack Russell Terrier got spooked in a paper factory.  You know exactly what I mean because you have probably been there yourself.  


But while reading Smelly Chicks, I found an easier and permanent way to line your wooden molds. I am going to try doing this this weekend.  Marr found the original tutorial on the Soap Dish Forum.  You have to be a member to access it - I just signed up as The Soap Bar so maybe I'll see you over there.

Lining your mold with silicone caulk.
If anyone has other ways of lining a mold easily, please share and if you'd like to write a tutorial on your lining talent, I'd be happy to post it.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Open Window Soap Works

soap after the shower - notice the uber bubbles all over

It is Spring and I am reviewing "Warm Autumn Spice".  Well, I can explain.  I have been busy, BUT Open Window Soap is still selling this soap on their site, so I don't feel so bad... and anyway, cinnamon spicey scents are good all year to me, even though they can evoke memories of leaves on the ground and fireplace smoke in the air.  I know.

The soap is a nice size, with a very pretty swirly top.  I particularly liked the layered look.  The cream colored top layer is a peaceful color while the brick red bottom portion screams, "Fall!"  When I got in the shower it was a lather fest.  Very nice lather and the scent was a powerful Autumn mulled cider-like scent.  Smells like real mulled cider.

Thank you Kat of OWSW for sending me this bar.  I am thoroughly enjoying it.

Take a look at some of the other things Kat has available.  Scrumptious photos, ya?  Go check out her Etsy Shop here.

Mint Chocolate Chip Soap Cake Slice

Lemon Sugar Bar SoapCucumber Melon Bar Soap

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming Reviews: Nova Studio + OWSW

OWSW - Open Window Soap Works sent me a bar of Autumn Spice (They have an Etsy shop, too!)  It has taken me too too long to get to this.  (sorry!)

Lori Nova of The Nova Studio in California sent me four bars to try...lucky me!

Ash Tastic

Ashy soap - according to Walton Feed, The soda ash just needs to be rinsed off.

Well , my husband tried my "shave soap" and quickly tell me it was like shaving with soap.  Nice.  So the heaping tablespoon of clay wasn't enough to call it a shave soap.  I also tried it in the shower and shaved my tender legs with it.  It foamed beautifully, but 'tis true - it din't feel any different than a regular soap.

I am not wild about them being unscented because I don't think many people would enjoy that smell.  There IS a smell to my unscented soap.  When a recipe isn't great, gifting them doesn't seem an option.   

Ah, I will power smell the next one and make it colorful.  I have plans... 

Monday, May 12, 2008

Shave Soap

I made this batch last night.  I guess it is shave soap because I used bentonite clay in my recipe to assist in "slip".

I did not scent this one, although I am sorry I didn't because half the fun for me is smelling soaps!  The color "swirl" on top is soap mixed with blueberry fiber.  I just cut it, so we'll have to let it cure and then see how it performs.  Hopefully, it can help with my shaving dilemma.  I am still tending to a major gash from 3 weeks ago when I borrowed my husband straight razor.  That was like Psycho in the shower, blood everywhere.  I looked at the old fashioned bakelite razor to find a hunk of my leg still attached to the shiny blade.   Evidence of poor shaving skills. 

Sorry.  I just gave myself the willies, too.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Motor:: Cat #2 - Final Cat Post

The totally crazy one.  
He picked us and that is the story and I am sticking to it.  About three and a half years ago, we went to the local shelter to find a cat to adopt.

We were at the pound and this medium sized black kitten meowed and cried and climbed right up my arm and sat on my shoulder, pushing his nose and face into my neck, as if he were trying to get closer than was humanly or feline-ally possible.  He was such a love, we decided it was meant to be.  He chose us.  Maybe our late Tiger wanted this cat with us.  To watch over us.  When you have kids, the impossibility of pre- child rearing beliefs become a possibility and magic can consume the tender hearted for a fleeting moment here and there.  Moms, don't lie!

devil  - demon  - kuckoo

ready to pounce the camera

Okay, so we took Motor home and he was instantly a handful.

We had a screen enclosed pool area.  He climbed it from the outside and proceeded to whine and cry until we could extract him and his fierce claws from his death grip from our second story bedroom window screen.  

When he wants something, he whines and cries big ugly cries.  Not a nudge or a wink.  A wail.  

He runs in front of me when I start walking, as if he is trying to race me and guess where I'm going. Half the time, I trip over him.  Yeah.  Funny. There is a lot of tripping and mumbling under ones breath over here with dear Moti. 

He wails to go out.  5 minutes go by.  He wails to come in.  (sigh)  This isn't something one can ignore, either.  He doesn't have a stopping point.  He'll just continue until pigs fly.

But there is the other side of the cat.  Motor rocks and we all love him.

He loves us like no other.  When one of us is feeling blue or sick, or is in pain, he'll come from nowhere and lie right on top of the pained one.  Directly on top of the belly or chest and won't leave until you get up or start feeling better.

His fur is like silk.

He purrs and meows a soft, broken crackling sound as if he has learned the barking skill from Sippowitz, but on a gentler side.  Sippowitz barks when he is hungry, Motor crackles when he is content and on someone who is touching him.

He sleeps at my feet every single night.

He sleeps on his back, fully outstretched (a total of two feet long, legs wide open and snores. Loudly.

He likes to drink the water at the bottom of the shower when I'm done instead of using the fresh water in his bowl.  Must be a ritualistic black magic thing.

He is good luck, despite what the books all say about a black cat crossing your path.

So there you have it.

Cat #1:  Sippowitz (aka Kitty or Fatty)  Adopted him in 1993
Cat #2:  Motor (aka Moti or Triangle Head)  Adopted in 2004
Cat #3:  Dot (aka Fot or Girlie)  Adopted 2006

My three cats.  I don't think one is considered a "cat lady" until many more are acquired, so I am good.