Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lost The Challenge But Ikea Was Fun

I can't believe it. I had two days to go with this writing challenge and I missed a day.

I was doing physical work all day yesterday and then at 5pm, Brad and I drove over an hour away to IKEA. Fun store. We had fun, ordered some stuff, sat in chairs, ate Swedish meatballs and perused their Marketplace. If you've never been to an IKEA, it's like a huge warehouse. The upstairs is set up like a maze comprised of decorated rooms displaying different furniture, decorations, etc. Each piece of furniture is tagged with an aisle number and place number. At the beginning, you are offered a tiny pencil only a child would feel comfortable drawing with and paper to jot these numbers down. If you want to buy it, you have to go at the warehouse at the end of your journey through IKEA and locate your aisle and place number to find your furniture in a box.

I love rolling around the decorated upstairs because I like to see how other people decorate and I have dozens of rooms to peek at and sit in if I want. Living rooms, kitchens, offices, bedrooms, kids rooms, and on and on. Then when you are done with the hour long tour of the upstairs, you follow the stairs to the lower level (the Marketplace), where you get your shopping cart and find all the dishes, baskets, rugs, towels, fabrics, vases, ...everything you saw on display in the rooms upstairs except for furniture.
This is where I like to browse, but this is where Brad wants to hurry through. He wants to rush through this part, get the furniture in boxes and get on line before everyone else does. Well, we have a tendency to close the joint, so I understand his thought process, but stop rushing me!

So I lost the writing challenge with two days left in November. I've had an exhausting week, but Friday and Saturday were more than busy, they were jam packed with LONG hours and last night I just fell asleep.

Thanks for coming, reading and supporting me. You have NO IDEA how it pulled me through. You guys ROCK.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Am Thankful

I have beautiful memories of my family. I share a few with you... I attempted to make them in chronological order...

Nina as a stubby nub.

that's Desmond - age 18 months

My best friend...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Full Of Turkey

I have so much to be thankful for, but I am full and can't talk about it now.

My belly is filled with turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing with apples, strawberries, whipped cream, shortbread and IBC root beer. I am stuffed to the gills. Now I think I'll have some tea and snuggle on the couch with my soft pajamas and NAP blanket and watch a bit of tv.

Excuse me while I go into a food coma.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mr. Do Right

I have been struggling with what soap molds to use since I started soaping. And I know you all have, too, in your own way. There are so many to choose from! Brad made me one that is awesome, but lining has been a challenge. Then I found that incredible instructional video that saved me from losing my mind, because the step by step instructions were so easy to follow, I actually could take freezer paper and line any mold without creases! Every time. So when lining wasn't an issue, shape became my focus. I bought some molds from someone and they produced very square bars, which is lovely, but I want to also make rectangular bars that is easier to hold in the shower.

There are silicone molds, wooden molds, wooden molds with silicone liners (Elizabeth of Longcroft Soap uses those and makes such AMAZING soaps!) and hdpd molds. You can use old food containers as Anne Marie of The Soap Queen blog wrote about just the other day, pvc pipes, tupperware.... there are so many vessels to pour soap into its fantastic. Well, I found some great soaps out there perusing the soap world as I do and asked the soap makers who made them what mold they used, and sure enough, BOTH of them said, "Mr. Do Right on Ebay. Wouldn't pour into anything else."
REALLY? So what did I do? I bought the 3 lb molds (set of 2 with a cutter mold and soap slicer). See the pictures.

The Ebay listing photgraph

My patio photos

Tonight I made Pumpkin Pie soap in one of the molds and I will reveal pictures tomorrow. I am so happy. Rick, the guy I dealt with is really great. He is a good business man and I'd deal with him again and again and I'll be buying from him again! Very soon. Like tomorrow. ;)

update:  You must line these molds.  :(

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brad Wears Victoria

Maybe a bit personal, me showing you my bra and me showing you my husband wearing my bra....on his public....driving his Jeep.

What can I say? A blog post a day will do that to a person!


Monday, November 24, 2008

To Holidays!

Wine scented or are they made with real wine? Hmmm. Let me go get a glass and ponder how to make my next batch. Shiraz or Pinot... They do look lovely don't they?

Berry Wine Shea Butter Soap by Feto Soap (the lovely Lisa Chouinard soap guru)

Muscaberri Wine Soap (infused w/ Loofa Sponge) from Hyman Vinyards. Each Muscaberri soap comes with a wooden soap dish and natural packaging.

New Zealand White Wine Soap by Koru Naturals

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nina Reminded Me Of Little Voice

Perhaps I don't remember the movie well enough, but when Nina began singing like this, I felt like I was watching the independent film, Little Voice. She was goofing around and put on this young voice and I had to video her. Nina seemed so innocent for that fleeting moment. (There haven't been many of those lately). She was preparing herself for the notes and the "rests" and breaths before playing the French horn.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

To Die For

The Soap Store (AKA Arcadia Aromatics) makes some really beautiful soaps. I will study these and hopefully my muse will get back off the floor and start brushing off the dust since her horrendous fall! :o) If you don't know what I am talking about, then you should read the last couple of posts I've written.

Avocado Mint Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

Herbal Citrus Sorbet Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

Lemon Sugar and Vetiver Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

Rosewood Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

Bergamot and Violet Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

Tahitian Tiare Petals Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

24 Carrot Buttermilk and Honey Handmade Soap - 6 oz.

I haven't ever tried these, but they sure do look heavenly. This last one reminds me of freshly made fudge from the fudge shop in my old neighborhood in Park Slope (Brooklyn). Mmmmmm.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Is It Playdough Or Baby Poop?

I think the soap fairy came to visit my muse so she could slap her around a bit because I'm not sure what happened here! My soaps are coming out ... different.

I have to laugh. I was making this soap and had all my ingredients in a row ready to go. This batch used avocado and shea butter for extra moisturizing goodness and it is scented with peppermint essential oil and chocolate (peppermint patty). My idea was to make the topping a green and sprinkle with dark cranberry seeds. Have a creamy center, like a peppermint patty and smell like heaven.

I used titanium dioxide again to lighten a portion of the soap first, so the color would really POP. For some reason, I couldn't find the Key Lime Green I used in my last batch, so I grabbed the Lime Lab Color from Brambleberry, thinking, "How UN-green can it be?" Well, I added a bit, and it looked like baby poop (for those who have had newborns know what I'm talking about). Then I added more, but it didn't get darker, it just got more like intense baby poop. I either did something terribly wrong, the bottle was mislabeled or Brambleberry might want to consider renaming this strange color to Limey Yellow?

I love the other green so much, but this one must go. Allow me to describe this dreadful loaf: The lower section/bottom is straight soap, then cream colored titanium dioxide colored soap center, then topped with the famous poop "Lime" colored soap, sprinkled with cranberry seeds and sea salt and the black you see there is ground vanilla beans. I know, you are asking, "What was she thinking?" I'm telling you, the soap fairy kicked my muse off my shoulder and I was left hanging in the wind.

So that's three crappy batches of soap IN A ROW. I'm done. I hereby declare no more bad soap (cross fingers).

First bad: Guacamole Salad
Second: Crack
Third: Baby Poop

Looks like a menu. Ah, yes. I'll have the guacamole salad to start, then I'll do crack and finish off with baby poop. Thank you very much. Oh, can you bring me a lovely chardonnay with that?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Crack + Crap

"Crack" in the morning light

It's hard for me to admit my failures. I can admit to my personal failings, but when it comes to things I make, it's much harder. (What's THAT about?) I'd rather ignore them, put them in the corner and try again without letting people see the ugly process before I get a handle on things.

My Apple Bread soap (aka "Crack") came out today and it looked lame (aka CRAP). My intention for this puppy was to pour the plain soap, then save some soap and use titanium dioxide to lighten the topping so it looked like whipped cream or frosting, sprinkle colored sea salt on top (looks like sugar but won't attract ants), and then drizzle goat milk melt + pour on top like a drizzle of icing. I have never worked with m+p before and I was so gung ho about the whole thing, I melted it and drizzled it on top of the freshly peaked and sprinkled topping, except it just lay there like an oil slick. WHAT? Ack! So I got my handy plastic whisk and mixed it into the topping reapplied my sea salt sprinkles, but the topping just wasn't as white and pure as it was only moments before. You can see the close up...not white and pure. Swirly and blotchy. :(

I drizzled the m+p soap onto a cured bar of soap and it worked like a dream! Guess I should have checked if their was water in the pool before I dove into it. The other thing is this: I tried a new formula and it made my hands dry, so I don't want to sell it or give it away either. I can cut it up, add some shea butter or olive oil and cook it. Any other suggestions?

So not only does the soap look dumb but it's drying and I can't even give it away!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Soap Crack

No. I am not on soap crack. My soap cracked. I have been reading up on why soap cracks down the middle of a soap loaf while it sits in the mold and now I'm feeling a bit disappointed I didn't figure it out before this morning. The last time I had a crack down the center of my soap loaf when I was about to unmold the soap, I hadn't been finicky about covering the soap well when I put the soap to bed. I assumed it was the coolness or humidity factor that caused the soap to change too rapidly and freak out, get cracked. Well, the last four days, the humidity level is low, not it's normal 100% and the temperature went from 85 on Sunday to 60 on Monday and has been 60-75 every day for days. Lovely perfect blue sky kind of days.

I made high peaks and didn't want to put a wood lid on the soap mold and squish them, so I put a large plastic storage box on top of it with a tablecloth on it. "Hmmm, this should do." And as I walked away, I thought to myself...."should I stick this in the oven for an hour? It's kind of chilly and dry in here this morning", walking around in my UGGS, long pants, and hooded sweatshirt cradling my hot coffee cup like it was was the only heat source on the planet. My fears were confirmed. My pretty soap is now cracked and not so pretty as it was this morning.

It's dark and my soap is still in the closet, so I'll photograph it tomorrow. Probably a "nothing to see here" moment.

Now, forget the crack, how about some soap PORN tomorrow??

Goodnight soap queens...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Soap Guild

"The Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild (HSMG) is an international non-profit professional trade association". I just became a member a week or so ago and I am pleased as punch. I have gotten so into making soaps, I've even gotten passionate and my experience with every soapmaker I've come across since I started this blog has made me love soaping even more. Who else would be interested in seeing my new batch of soap or sharing tips and recipes? Well, my daughter gets excited when I reveal a new loaf of soap...and definately me.

The soaping community is made up of extremely generous people and I am PROUD to be a part of HSMG and all it has to offer. It promotes the soapmaking industry in general, shares resources, information, vendors names, etc...

Last year, I read Anne-Marie's blog and Heather's blog and their amazing time at the Vermont Soap Guild Annual Conference. Oh, I wished I had been there. I am definately going to try to make it to the upcoming 2009 Conference in Palm Springs, California on May 12-14th. I have two cousins that live in L.A. so I can visit with family AND make the conference, although I may not even have time to tie my shoes let alone visit with family AND do the soap thang!

The Soap Guild even has a blog so you can read about what's going on if you are thinking about becoming a member or if you just want to keep up on soap news. You can read the Soap Guild Blog here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thea + Joe

Thea Gilmore

Joe Jackson

I went to see Joe Jackson play in Miami Beach on Sunday night and it was amazing. He has such raw talent and it is so apparent LIVE. When I was younger, I didn't like his stuff at all. Steppin' Out, to me, was boring and I just hated it. (I know. Harsh.) Since then, I've heard much more of his music, and I have to say, over the years he has cranked out some eclectic, interesting and talented work.

So back to Sunday... Brad and I went to the city and saw Joe Joe. We couldn't have chosen better seats than what we got. We were about 15 feet from the stage, saw every expression the man made, AND I was up against the side stage, so I had my own table for my glass of ice water. I was spoiled rotten. The songs he played sounded different from the originals because of his musical originality. It was absolutely stunning. What more can I say?

The opening act was a British singer/songwriter, Thea Gilmore, who I fell in love with instantly. What a honey! She has a beautiful voice with a nice tone to it. So give a listen. It's a bit sad, though, so just warning you..... in this video she sings with Joan Baez (second voice).

Music nights are good.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Unfortunate + Unintentional Food Imitation

I thought green - FRESH!- right? A great color for Sexy Laundry Day, right? Looks nice, I think and even could have been a little darker. But to add a little eye candy to the mix, I threw in some other Sexy Laundry Day scraps I had lying around and I stepped back and saw .... food. GUACAMOLE.

Wow. NOT the look I was going for. AT ALL. Maybe the individual slices won't look Mexican in nature, but as a loaf, it strangely resembles our local Mexican restaurant's guacamole appetizer. I added some glistening glitter to break the stereotype. Snap the brain back into reality. We'll see. It wouldn't bother me so much if I made this soap that smelled like cilantro and pepper or garden basil or something, but when people look at a soap that looks like a salad, maybe they don't want that rubbing on their naked body. Or maybe I know nothing and the world is much different than I have it pictured in my head. Hmmm. Something to think about.

Either way, now I know, that when I add embeds, I'll think ahead of time how the color works and if it evokes something yucky that I don't want on my body, like guacamole salad.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Heirloom Lemongrass Honey

Becky Rippelmeyer, of Heirloom Soapworks, sent me three bars of beautiful soap. All wrapped carefully in thin wax paper, then banded with kraft paper cut with those zig zag scissors and a lovely ribbon. I am loving the originality of it all. Don't they look nice?

The name of the soap company and photo of the old fashioned woman (her Grandma Annie) reminds me of the olden days. I'm sure it's supposed to express that Becky still does it the old fashioned way just as her ancestors did. And it does. It feels genuine and pure, as if it's a piece of history we should savor.

I tried the Lemongrass Honey bar (my Lemmy) and it was a wonderful morning eye opener. I never used lemongrass body products before, so this was a first for me. I've only tried lemongrass in thai restaurants... tom kha gai (lemongrass coconut soup) for instance - YUM. Let me tell you, the lemongrass and the honey together is a surprisingly lovely combination. I wouldn't have put those two scents together, but the honey mellowed the lemongrass and balanced the smell nicely. Either way, you will have to love the smell of lemongrass if you are going to buy this bar of soap. As far as the feeling I get when I use the soap? Energy. Yeah, pretty much. I actually feel like I'm waking up while I'm soaping it up in the shower with my love, Lemmy. It has lots of bubbles, worked like a charm for my shaving and washed off cleanly so I could go on with my day feeling clean clean!

Lots of good stuff in there, too!
The ingredients are saponified oils of olive, coconut & palm; spring water; shea, mango & cocoa butters; essential oil & honey.

Please go take a look at Heirloom's website as see what is cooking over there.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Tower Of Salt

I love salt bars. They look chunky and dense and they feel great when I use them as my facial bar in the morning and right before bed. These salt bars are made with fine sea salt and sprinkled with larger sea salt crystals on top. Scent? Sexy Laundry Day. It's for a wholesale order...they are loving the scent. I think the Sexy Laundry Day has the most awesome smell in soap. Mmmm!

tower of salt

salt bars close - click the photo for a REALLY close up peek

My daughter saw me setting up my soap shot this morning and asked if she could set up the bars differently for the camera. Her tower was much nicer than my haphazard jumble of bars. My soap display looked like a pile - similar to a pile of football players at the end of a play.

I will have to keep a couple of these bars for myself and make many more batches soon, but cut them much smaller. These are HEFTY suckers.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Yuzu Rhubarb Sparkle Loaf

the very sweet citrus cocoa butter soap loaf

close up of the very sweet citrus cocoa butter soap loaf

This holiday loaf is really only "holida" because of the green sparkles on top. Otherwise, there's nothing holiday about it. It smells sweet and citrus-y and has a light dusting of apricot seed powder on top. My husband wants a citrus soap. I keep trying, but I am not getting anywhere with it. My lemon soap (eo) became close to being unscented while it was curing. Same with my orange valencia soap (also eo) and and my pink grapefruit (FO!) doesn't stick around either. Grrr.

So he gets nothing.

I would love suggestions with any and all citrus successes you may have had. Citrus, being my favorite land of stench would be grand in my soapy end of things, so please DO share if you have solutions and successes. We are a soaping family, as I am learning. We are sharing with eachother so that we can all succeed in our little corner of the world.

It is November 13th today. Do you realize that we are halfway through November? I am either getting slower or there is WAY MORE going on in my life than ever before. It doesn't mean anything to my customers who I owe products to.

Gotta go make goodies. Bye!