Friday, July 20, 2018

Soapy Friday: Planning Ahead

Happy Friday everyone! There wasn't much going on this week soap-wise...I've been playing and prepping for the upcoming holidays.

I know, I know. But when you make a product that takes 6-8 weeks to cure, you have to plan ahead.

But first...RYAN!

"Hey girl...I brought you some soaping supplies"
I ordered some highly-concentrated, cosmetic bath-and-body-safe dyes this week to play with in bath bombs. Look what I got...LOL! I love asking for pictures of Ryan Gosling whenever there is a "special request" option for online orders. LOL!

Next, onto what I'm planning to make for a Halloween-themed soap. Aren't these friggin' adorable? I made these teeny skulls out of SOAP ya'll!

3 down...1,000 to go!

Itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, little soapy skulls for me-ny!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Soapy Friday: "Taste of Honey"

Happy Friday the 13th everyone! This week has been busy soap-wise; I've been trying a few new things and making some old-standbys.

"Taste of Honey"
My "Taste of Honey" soap, an homage to Herb Alpert, is pretty much good-to-go recipe wise. I FINALLY got all the things I wanted out of that bar of soap and it's only taken me a year-and-a-half to get there.

Loaded with skin-loving sunflower oil, cocoa butter, local Virginia honey, beeswax and an intoxicating honey-almond scent, this soap is "a-buzz" with all the good things your body wants and needs. I believed in it from the very start, and that's why I kept trying.

That gel ring tho...
Other things...

I've been back at bath bombs trying new things. My Rainbow Heart bomb is loaded with a rainbow of colors and makes very pretty bath art, although I still have a way to go with getting that right too.

Trying out Rainbow Heart in the bath
I made some Unicorn Horn bath bombs and was trying out a new theory on one of my ingredients and again, discovered something new. I won't bore you with the details, but it's pretty exciting IMO.

Love how these turned out!
Have a happy & safe 13th...stay cool out there everyone!

Friday, June 29, 2018

Soapy Friday: "Beach, Please!"

Happy Friday everyone! This week I made another batch of my triple butter, cold-processed soap and have decided to name it "Beach, Please!" because, CUTE are these bars?!!!

"Beach, Please!"
Scented with "Coco Cabana" fragrance oil from Wholesale Supplies Plus and made with cocoa butter, mango butter, and shea's heaven at the beach! Even the "sea shells" are little, custom made soaps. Plus, some sprinkling of pink, white, and black sea salt on top gives it that extra beachy touch.

She sells sea shell soap by the seashore
I've made this before and thought my design would be better for the "water portion" but not really. Guess I'll have to try again. I LOVE the way they coconuts and Coppertone suntan lotion.

I'm pretty "solid" on my cold-process recipe, so I most likely will stick to making my larger loaves unless I'm trying a new design or fragrance. Gotta order some more supplies!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

We're still settling in. Chaz has gotten over his spookiness of seeing cars and people pass by outside the front of the house. Now it's a constant source of entertainment. I guess moving from the country to the suburbs has been a big change for all of us.

Watching the world go by
We are really loving having more free time in suburbia. Although, all last week I was in Oklahoma City for work. I had the most AMAZING steak at Cattleman's Steakhouse. This steak will haunt me...

The best steak I've ever had
I told hubby, "As god as my witness, I WILL take you there someday." I might be back around that area again next year, so maybe that will happen. Next month is Burlington, MA.

It's amazing the things you find when you are unpacking. :-) These glasses are an endless source of entertainment.

Who dat?

Friday, June 15, 2018

Soapy Friday: New Soap Studio

We still have about 1/2 dozen random boxes to unpack and we're finally at the point where we can start hanging some art on the wall. But more importantly, I MADE SOAP!

Oh, you have NO idea how I've missed this. The last time I made soap was in March...maybe late April. Anyway, here's my new soaping studio!

New "Soap Lounge" ...LOL!
It looks more like a "soap lounge" though, doesn't it? It's all cool... I can hang out there while I'm waiting for my oils to cool or heat up. But I love that it's finished, clean and bright!

I even have company! Bucky looks like he's ready to party, but he's in a rocking chair, so maybe not?

Chillin' like a villain 
It's a little messy now, as I'm still trying to find my rhythm down here, plus I made soap! I made a big log of my "Super Scrub" as I've really, really, really liked how the last batch turned out. It's funny...the first time I made this soap, I also made pickles that week. I made this soap and pickles this week too!

"Super Scrub" Soap
I thought I had enough of my fragrance oil blend to make such a large batch, but I didn't so it smells just a bit different. Kinda bummed about that, but it turned out gorgeous and it works wonders on dirty hands or bodies.

"Super Scrub" topped with Dried Calendula Petals

Friday, June 08, 2018

Soapy Friday: Bath Bomb Success!

Whenever I share or mention to someone that I now make high-quality, handcrafted body and skin care products, I’m almost always asked, “Do you have a website? Do you sell? How can I get some?”

Finally....bath bomb success!
You would think that with this foresight, I would immediately run home, build a website, put my stuff up on Etsy, and start selling, but no.

When I first started this journey, I remember reading somewhere that a person doesn’t just decide one day they are going to make and sell bath and body products and start doing it. It takes lots, and lots, and lots of time, practice, experimentation, persistence, mini-wins along the way, and failure.

Naming a dream is easy. What’s far less popular is the disciplined practice of a craft – the thousands of thankless hours it takes to become good – even great – at something before sharing it with the world.

I believe there’s no such thing as talent, only practice.

So, after almost 2 years of making bath bombs – at some point every single day – I’ve finally gotten a particular part of my bath bomb recipe down pat and they do exactly what I want them to do every time. This goes back to asking yourself, "What do I want my bath bomb to do?" If I just wanted a rock hard bath bomb that fizzed like mad, but sunk like a rock, I would have been done a long time ago.

But no, I also wanted the "fun stuff," and that meant my bath bombs had to align with what I call "The Four Fs for Bath Bomb Success":

  • Form - They dry rock hard, are not crumbly, soft, or fall apart
  • Fizz - They fizz and spin without "marshmallowing" out 
  • Float - They float!
  • Foam - They provide "bath art" with a surfactant

At some point in the future, I'll make a video of one of these in action!

Monday, June 04, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Ugh. Monday.

It's been interesting watching this neighborhood's routines outside my new office window. Lots of animals come-and-go, cats, dogs, people walking dogs, kids going to or coming from the bus stop, neighbors checking mail, garbage trucks, the mail carrier. Ah, suburbia!

The kittehs have adjusted amazingly well, although they are not used to looking out the window and seeing so much activity. It still spooks them.

We've "officially" been in this house 3 weeks now and have only just been able to start upacking the upstairs due to I can't even begin to start.

I will say that simply maintaining a home and keeping it safe and clean are two entirely different things - both of which the current owners were not very good at.


I'm keeping this box here as a reminder that I have a package to send out to my sister. But the kittehs have claimed it a their new, favorite perch. Now what do I do?

Rainy day observation perch

Friday, May 25, 2018

Goodbye Country Home

Some amazing memories were made here!

Today we settle on our beautiful country home. We’ve absolutely loved living there, and it’s been truly heartbreaking to let it go, but our decision to sell has been for the right reasons. We are looking forward to having more time to focus on the next chapter in our lives, which is to put us in a position to work and do what we want to do versus what we HAVE to do to make a living. Also, we want to start focusing on where we want to eventually retire, and it might not be here in the NOVA/D.C. area.

Secondly, selling was a smart business decision being executed at the right time. The market is up, we got a great comp for a sale, and we seized the moment.

But we will truly miss our country beauty. We are thrilled with the young family that is buying the place and we know they will love living there as much as we have.

Goodbye country beauty; we will always love you.

Friday, May 18, 2018

In Life, A Person Will Come And Go From Many Homes

In one week from today, we will say goodbye to our lovely, country home.

I am here now, waiting on a contractor to "de squeak" some of the upstairs floorboards. I always considered the noise they made when you walked across them part of the charm of this house.  I tried to sell it to the new owners as a perk to know when their kids might sneak around past bedtime, but no.

An empty house makes many noises
So, a de-squeaking we will go.

I picked these peonies from the front yard this morning. It's the first time I had enough from all the small bushes to make a bouquet. A big bouquet of fresh peonies is one of my most favorite things in the world.

They are mostly heirloom "Primevere Peony" which smell heavenly like roses. Most peonies that you buy from the florist or store have no scent at all.  Someday, I hope to grow them again.

Primevere Peony
The new home we are in has it's issues...mostly with the state of some things the owners left for us to deal with. So, we haven't settled in yet and it will take time. Next week we are having most of the upstairs carpeting replaced there...seems like flooring is the hot ticket for this move.

But I HATE that feeling...being unsettled. Living in limbo.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Bittersweet Blooms

This is the last week we are here at the house. It is truly bittersweet. ALL of my bearded irises are blooming for me this year, some of which I've never seen bloom in the 4-5 years I've had them. They've been moved 2 or more times, recovered from iris borers 3 years ago, and finally I found a spot where they would be happy. Since they basically had to start over from naked rhizomes on more than one occasion, it's taken all this time to get them established so they'll bloom.

To make this even MORE of a tearjerker, I found my order sheet from when I ordered them while packing things away and I have the names for them!!! Since they've been moved so many times and never bloomed, I didn't know who-was-who, and which ones survived over the years.

It's almost as if they are giving me a goodbye kiss...

Iris bed in bloom

Dorothy Davenport


Voltaire's Cloak

Table For Two


Even my False Indigo, which is notoriously finicky and has never bloomed since I got it 3 years ago, bloomed for me. I ended up sticking it in one of the garden beds to let it nurse it's way seems to like it there.

False Indigo
Everything here is really, really taking off ...FINALLY. Even my black raspberries, which I've moved twice, will give a bumper crop this year.

I will miss all of this for sure, but it's easy to see things now when the weather is nice and everything is pretty, and there are no bugs...except ticks. But during the summer, when it's close to 100° and we haven't had rain for 6 weeks, and I'm struggling to keep up with keeping everyone watered and alive....well I won't miss that. 


Friday, April 27, 2018

Soapy Friday - No Soap This Week

Just got back from L.A. last night for work. The work was stressful, but the location was cherry. I didn't want to come back.

Goin back to Cali, Cali, Cali...
The hotel I stayed at was right at the beach across from a marina. I could hear the seals barking out in the water.

Follow the barking seals
The kittehs are glad I'm back but did NOT pull their end of the packing while I was gone. Total slackers.

We watchin' you
There IS no soap for this week because it's all in boxes...well most of it. To be continued. Lastly, I need a moment of silence for a dear friend that I lost this morning.

Goodbye Ruskie...we had 6 beautiful years together. You will be missed.

R.I.P. Ruskie

Monday, April 16, 2018

Gratuitous Kitteh Monday

Ugh. This is the quiet before the storm.

Chaz is taking a moment of solitude in an afternoon sunbeam…

Meditating Kitteh
We loaded and unloaded 2, 15 ft. U-Haul truckloads of “stuff” this weekend into the new place and we are both incredibly SORE today. We are positively out-of-shape. There is certainly a huge yard-sale on the horizon once we are back in a real neighborhood.

Our “big move” isn’t until May 12th, but I’m in L.A. next week, so there’s a week lost out of that time. Our goal is to only have the movers move the big stuff and packed boxes, so we are taking care of all the loose odds-n-ends, most of the basement, and the garage, plus all the packing.

This is certainly better than the 4-day packing blitz we did in Florida for sure, but it still sucks.

“I LOVE MOVING”…said no one ever!

New digs

Beautiful, big kitchen...a must have!
The house we are moving too is really nice and it’s practically brand new (3 yrs. old), but we have found upon closer inspection and from talking with the neighbors, the owners had 3 dogs (golden retrievers) and a cat. There is HAIR EVERYWHERE! They did not do a post, move-out clean and the floors are disgusting, not to mention a suspicious odor is coming from one of the spare bedrooms upstairs. So, a total house clean, with professional carpet cleaning is being done this week. There are other things that need to be addressed as well, but I’m too tired to go into it.

I’ve never understood why people buy homes and then not take care of them. Why spend so much money and then watch your property values go down the drain?

Anyway, as usual, we will leave this house in better condition than we found it.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Soapy Friday: I'm Gelling (Sort of), Are You?

Happy Friday everyone. Posts for Ye' Olde Blog will most likely be a once-a-week thing for the next couple of months due to all the chaos of moving. We start packing this weekend.

Miss Thang is being chill, though. I know they know something is going on.

Chillin' Thang
It's Cherry Blossom time here up in D.C.! The trees are at their "peak" over today and the next day or two. It's fun to go see this amazing display of beauty....once. In order to make the most of it and the crowds, you really need to get there before sunrise. We did this the first year we moved up here.

Cherry Blossoms in D.C.
Getting excited about prospects for our new "home". It's a rental, but has very high potential for us to buy if we decide we like it and the neighborhood down the road. I mean, look at this basement! It's finished and it's ALL MINE! No carpets = a perfect soaping studio.

So many possibilities!
Speaking of soap...

I remade some of my 100% olive oil soap (aka Castille soap) and used tumeric to color it. I try to keep my olive oil soaps all natural using only essential oils (EOs) and natural colorants.

The EO blend I mixed as called "Sunset" and was a beautiful blend of grapefruit, tangerine, ylang ylang, litsea cubeba, and rose geranium. I wanted to color the soap a sort of orange/rust to compliment the citrus notes in the EO blend and look what happened:

I'm gelling...sort of
This is called a gel ring. When a soap "gels" after it is made, it heats-up either naturally or is forced to heat-up using a heating pad, insulation, or even an oven. "Gelling" a soap contributes to more saturated colors and less chance for soda ash. Soap crafters either prefer to gel all the way or not at all, as a partial gel (like in my soap) can be distracting and take away from a beautiful soap design.

Neither a good mother, nor from Marseille
In my case, I think it contributes and makes it more interesting. I tried to gel this soap by putting it on a pre-heated heating pad and then turned it off, as I was afraid it would overheat. I guess I should have left it on.

BTW, "Savon de la Bonne Mere Marseille" means "Soap from the Good Mother of Marseille" which I am neither. I need to make my own stamp.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Soapy Friday: Soaping to Relieve Stress

Happy Good Friday everyone! Easter is the farthest thing from my mind right now as I have bigger fish to fry:

Bye bye big country house
Yup. We had a contract in less than 4 days! And between all the inspections, repairs, more inspections, more repairs, work and travel for work, all I've wanted to do to relieve the stress is make soap. It really calms me down and helps channel my nervous/anxious energy.

But a couple of these help too. This is the only pic I grabbed from Fort Worth, awesome margarita. In a few weeks, I'm off to L.A.

Fort Worth Margarita
We DO have a place picked out to rent that is exactly 2.7 miles from hubby's office and it's practically perfect. So much so, we may even consider buying it if we like renting there and the community it's in. I'm not going to jinx anything though, as we are still waiting for our appraisal to come back.

If our appraisal comes back low and we have to go back to the table and renegotiate, then things could get sticky.

So, I make soap.

I've made more soap than I've taken pictures of, but I did feel confident enough about my current luxury bar recipe to remake a large, 7 lb. batch of "My BFF Rosie". It's one of my most popular bars and it's a keeper.

Big BFF Rosie
My 7 lb loaf gives me just shy of 20 bars at a time. In the future, I will be making this at 100 bars at a time or more...mark my words.

In SUPER exciting news, I've received the first logo and branding concepts from the graphic designer I hired to help me with design. I am in love. I'm not going to give anything away, but it's going to be pretty awesome; I have a gut feeling about this.

So, now I need to reorder almost ALL my supplies as I've run out. Keep soaping!

Beautiful BFF Rosies

Friday, March 16, 2018

Soapy Friday: My Little Hooters

Happy Soapy Friday everyone! Hope you are getting ready to drink some green beer tomorrow and enjoy the weekend. There will definitely be wine enjoyed somewhere, SOMETIME for me. 

Ugh. I can't even begin to explain the chaos that is going on in my life right now. Long story short, we listed our house for sale and have had a bidding war going on. So, we will be moving soon, hopefully it will be into another home that we own, but the market is so HOT right now who knows. If not, then we will rent again.

On top of that, my job wants to send me on a traveling odyssey for the rest of the year...just really bad timing. Next week, I'm in Fort Worth, TX.

Anywho, on to soap, shall we?

First, I tried to rebatch some old soap that I didn't like. I "tried" to go for a turquoise stone look that is so hot right now, but ended up with soap that looks like 1950's terrazzo tile. LOL!

Ugly soap only a mother could love...

Ugly terrazzo tile soap
Second, I wanted to retest a few theories about a certain fragrance oil (Rosemary Mint) and using mango butter in my soap. About 2 months ago, I made a beautiful green soap using this fragrance and my usual recipe that contains mango butter.

This soap smelled off after cure
When it cured and we tested it, the soap weirdly lost it's scent in the shower (but smelled great dry!) and had a more waxy, crayon scent. This has never happened before and I figured it was either two things: One, the mango butter I was using was right at its expiration date and it went bad I think, and two, the fragrance oil may not be sticking.

So I made another test batch. Both with the same fragrance (Rosemary Mint) but only one containing fresh mango butter. I wanted to test if it was the fragrance, the expired mango butter, or just mango butter itself.

Two soaps, one scent - with mango butter and one without
The conclusion: I think it is a little of all three! The fragrance really has toned down, which has allowed the "natural" soap scent to come thru. I CAN smell a difference between the non-mango butter bar and the one containing mango butter, BUT, it's not anywhere near the scent I had from my very first batch using old mango butter. In other soaps that have mango butter, I can't smell it at all.

Note to self - Use fresh mango butter always and don't use that fragrance again.

Now, finally my little hooters! Aren't these just the cutest things ever? They are perfect for medium-sized bars of soap. These were made with Lavender Lemongrass essential oils. Heaven!

Hello little hooters!

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