Friday, March 15, 2019

Soapy Friday - Celebrations

There's much to celebrate this week! First, my trademark approval finally came in and Ravish Soap Company is legally legit from copyright infringement...


This alone has been a journey that has taken well over a year to finalize. I won't bore you with the legal details, but I'm very proud that I did this all on my own and have learned A LOT from it.

Secondly, all of my box designs are finalized and are ready to go to the printers. THIS I am very, very excited about and a bit nervous....it wasn't cheap to do what I did, but go big or go home, right? Some people have kids and spend the money to put them through college at my age...me?...I start a business. LOL! This is my child and I'm investing in its future. :-)

All the single ladies...almost ready for showtime! 

Have a few more tweaks yet...
Thirdly, I've started official production! I've made 50 lbs. of soap this week and put in my first "big soap" supply order. The UPS guy/girl is gonna hate me! Since I wan't to give my soap "at least" 6-8 weeks to cure, I need to start now. Each 25 lb. slab gives me about 80 bars of soap.

2 batches down, 7 more to go!

My "Taste of Honey" soap overheated, but I think it makes it look more authentic, yes?

Is it a real honey comb or soap?
My "original" goal was to launch by May 31st, but I don't see that happening. There's just too much to do graphic-wise yet and my graphic artist is taking sooooooo slooooooow to finish. I'm thinking of hiring a second one to help out in the meantime, but we'll see.

Lastly, I was recertified this week for a professional certification that I worked really hard to get 3 years ago. Something sparkling and alcoholic will be enjoyed tonight!

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

One Year Ago - What's Next?

It's hard to imagine it's been a year since we sold our house and began this odyssey of  "What's Next?".

Bittersweet...we miss the old place!
We are still very happy that we sold and moved. Still, it's hard for me not to think of all the things I would be preparing in the old gardens, what would be sprouting, getting excited for the upcoming season. Spring is the hardest because you're anxious to start moving and start warming-up. It's the season of renewal and growth.

Glory days in the old veggie garden
So, what's next? We are pretty sure that we do not want to stay in the D.C. area. No one moves to D.C. to kick back and relax or to retire. It's too hectic and expensive. And the traffic...don't get me started!

Retirement priorities!
We have our eyes set on Ohio - preferably the Columbus area. The area has a job market that will support us into retirement and it's pretty cheap to live there compared to here. Taxes are decent...not the best, but better than many. Retirement is decent there as well. We knew that we did NOT want to go back south (too hot) or even much further north where we would experience much of the same lifestyle - hectic and expensive.

The Buckeye State is lookin' pretty good to us!
Plus, when we went there last August, we really liked the "small town community" feel that many towns/neighborhoods had. We like the thought that our next house will be "our forever home" and we'll get to retire eventually...but more importantly, we'll be able to afford to do what we WANT to do versus what we HAVE to do as far as work. I want to make my soap company a legitimate business that would support us, and we couldn't do that if we stayed in the D.C. area.

We're going out to Ohio in May to do some scouting...if everything goes according to plans, we'll be looking into buying a home there later this year!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Soapy Friday: Almost Ready to Party!

After many, many, many tweaks and edits, my graphic designer and I have finalized a baseline template for my soap boxes. I am now shopping printing companies for production. Ultimately, these boxes will have a soft, matte finish with spot glossing...

My BFF Rosie...ready to get printed

This soap, "My BFF Rosie" is just one of NINE baseline soaps that I will launch with Ravish Soap Company later this year. This will also include matching body butters and sugar scrubs. I'm hoping to have shampoo bars too, but you know....test, test, and test.

I'm aiming for a May 31st launch, but it takes SO MUCH TIME to put all these pieces in place....including trademarks, licensing, insurance, A WEBSITE. Ugh...but I just try to think about the old saying that goes, "How do you eat an elephant?"

Friday, February 01, 2019

Soapy Friday: Sealed for Freshness

It seems like little has been going on this month, but there has been a lot. I've been tweaking formulas, buying equipment, and finalizing packaging labels.

I bought an induction heat sealer to give me lovely sealed jars like this:

Sealed for Freshness

Got anything you want me to seal?
It's an interesting machine. Hubby thinks it looks like one of those defibrillator paddles and keeps yelling, "CLEAR!" when I use it.

"CLEAR!"
I'm on a deadline of getting my business up-and-going by May 31st...god willing. I still have to have an e-commerce website built, get all the boring business stuff in place, and actually have a product line to launch other than one bar of soap. If I keep on top of things...and keep on top of the people helping me...it will happen.

In the meantime, I keep experimenting to formulate a solid shampoo bar that will give all the good things healthy hair wants and needs, but also remain hard enough in the shower. I think I stopped counting past batch #7...

What batch # is this?

Friday, January 04, 2019

Soapy Friday: Goals for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I'm SOOOO glad the holidays are over, although I always get the "post holiday blues"...I'm glad to be rid of the mess, but I do miss all the fun and cheer. Now it's on to 2019!

This year will be very, very interesting. I'm not going to set any uber lofty goals other than officially launching an online and vendor-based business, which to be honest is a lot! We are on the fence on what to do with our current renting/living situation and may be moving again by April...and it might be out-of-state!

We shall see...

In the meantime, I am on revision cycle #3 for my soap box templates with my graphic artist. This does take a while, but it's worth it and we're close to finalizing something.

So close and yet so far
I haven't made any soap lately, as I don't want to waste ingredients if I'm producing and not selling, AND those ingredients are expensive to purchase and have expiration dates. Also, I don't want to make a lot of soap that may or may not fit in my future soap boxes.

So...I experiment with formulas. Here I've made 3 different shampoo bar samples using 3 different formulas, I'm close to getting what I want, but need to order more ingredients.

Shampoo Bar Formula Experiments
I've FINALLY found the holy grail of rock hard bath bombs that float and fizz...except now they are FLAT! Grrrr....back to the mixing bowl.

I like flat butts...said no one EVER!
Although the funny thing is I don't think I will sell them as part of my product line...they're too mainstream now and you can buy bath bombs at the Dollar General Store. I just prefer to solve the mystery and move on....I don't like to leave problems unsolved.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Favorite Christmas Cookies 2018

This year marked another one for my annual "Great Christmas Cookie Bake Off".

I figured that between all the packages of cookies that I send to family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, I bake between 300-500 cookies over a 2-3 week period. I prep all of my cookie dough in November, by saving each batch of dough in a gallon Ziplock bag and freezing it. When I'm ready to bake, I just pull whatever bag(s) I want out of the freezer and let it defrost in the refrigerator at least overnight.

YUM!
For shipping, I bake all the cookies I want to send on a Sunday and ship them 2-day UPS on Monday. That way, recipients will get their cookies as fresh as possible without it making me broke. :-) I usually bake and ship-out over a 2-week period, as it's a lot of work, but I do enjoy it.

Over the years, I've learned to become selective of who I ship cookies to. I used to send out a lot more, but for some people Christmas cookies are not something they want or need, so I take the hint and focus on sending them to people who do.

Anywho, I have two keeper recipes to share this year! I usually try at least one new recipe and it either "makes the list" or not.

Santa's Helpers
Recipe Source: Sherry from the Cooking Forum

*These cookies are to die for! I've had this recipe for years and years, but never got around to trying them...OMG!

Cookie:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
Add 1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla Beat until smooth

Add:
2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt Beat until smooth

Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Stir until smooth and then add:
1 cup chopped walnuts (I used pecans)

Divide dough into quarters. Form each quarter into 6 balls. Place 2" apart on ungreased cookie sheet. With finger, make a wide deep depression in each cookie, clear to the edge. Fill with topping. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, (or in a convection oven, about 9 minutes) 

If you undercook these, the filling is so heavy that it will break through when you pick them up, so I make them crunchy. You could also not make the depression in them as deep and there would be more dough to suport the filling so that it did not break through. Also, if I make a huge depression in them, I sometimes make half again as much filling so I don't run out.

Makes 24 cookies

Santa's Helpers

Chinese Almond Cookies
Recipe Source: I can't remember

*I've been making these for the past 2-3 years and they are probably my #1 favorite cookie!

1 1/3 cups of almond flour, lightly packed
1 cup of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
Pinch of kosher salt
2 eggs (1 for use in the dough, another for later)
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 3/4 cups of flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Slivered almonds

Place the almond flour, salt, and butter into an electric beater with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for three minutes. The mixture will become course and chunky looking. Add one of the eggs, reserving the other for later, and the almond extract. Mix on low speed until just incorporated.

Sift together the flour, sugar, and baking soda then add to the butter mixture at low speed. Mix until just combined. Take the dough and flatten it into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for two hours to chill.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the other egg into a bowl and beat it. Take pieces of dough and roll them into balls about a half-inch wide. Place them on the sheet about and inch apart and then press them down slightly with your palm to make a coin shape.

Place a slivered almond onto each cookie and lightly press it into place, then paint the surface of the cookie with some of the beaten egg using a pastry brush or your finger (this will give the cookie a lacquered appearance once it bakes). Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the edges just being to tan. Cool on the sheet on a wire rack.

Makes 5 dozen.

Chinese Almond Cookies


Monday, December 17, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

I spy with my my little eye....a furry guy with my Christmas bows to untie.

Le sigh...

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