27 ene. 2011

Of love letters long past

My uncle passed away last Sunday. He had a short and terrible fight with cancer, but there was nothing to be done. He was given painkillers and made as comfortable as possible. He went from being a huge burly guy to a shadow of himself.
My dad went yesterday and cleaned his house, and amongst the things he had, he had a beautiful love letter from my great grandfather to his -at that time - girlfriend, which would later become his wife. It's dated January 2nd, 1912 and is basically a letter apologizing to my great grandma for not being with her. Today we would send a text message to our loved one asking for a rain check, back then the apology turned into the most romantic love letter ever. It reads: "I'm sorry for not being by your side, you know how much the absent heart aches, but soon, the day after tomorrow, I will be able to enjoy the pleasure of seeing you and be able to tell you: I'm yours. But now, far away from you, my spirit is by your side and accompanying you, and telling you to please wait for me." He signs it "Goodbye machita (blondie), your Rómulo"
It's too bad that we've lost that eloquence and romanticism that would turn an everyday thing into a poem.
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25 ene. 2011

Jewelry pics finally here!

I finally got my jewelry pics together in a nice collage. They will go into my facebook page/cart for sale through there. I have nice earrings (pierced ear only) and bracelets. I'll keep adding to them as these are my outlet when I'm stressed or in a meeting. I need to do something with my hands so I can pay full attention to what's going on, so what better way to do this than to create beautiful pieces?

I don't actually use jewelry, I wear only one pair of earrings which I never change, besides that I wear my marriage ring and that's it, I don't even own a working wrist watch! But I do love being creative with jewelry! I also love collecting jewelry magazines, especially if they're in Japanese, they are sooo creative!! So similar to the soaping obsesion, I have no place to put them and need to sell them.

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21 ene. 2011

OMG - Inspiring soaps!!

I was blog surfing today looking for inspiration and boy was I inspired. There are soooo many amazing soapers out there - it's even intimidating!

One soaper in particular caught my eye (heart/inspiration/etc.) She's KBShimmer, her blog can be found here, and her shop here.


She by far is the most daring person I've known...15 color soap swirls?? I have just mastered the one color - but 15?? That's guts, and artistry...I would've probably ended up with a grey mess, as I tend to over mix.

I will however be trying a two color in the pot swirl she so kindly demonstrates in this video:

How fun is that!!
Be sure to go by her blog and drop her a note...she is going on my hero list :)

19 ene. 2011

Two more castile beauties out

Bagged and tagged :) I love castile soap, it's super easy to make, there's no forgetting to add oils (what's that on the counter? 5 oz of castor oil!! oh snap!! - you know what I mean), traces quickly when pomace is used, it's nice on everybody's skin and generally white, which means it goes well with almost anything you want to throw in the pot.

First I made some spotted castile - as I affectionally call it - it's a light exfoliator because of the poppy seeds and has no other additives, fragrance or color. It's a great seller because of this, there's no worry about allergies, yet provides "spa" soap properties.

The other one I made was a mad scientist one. Started out as a rosemary lavender, which people seem to love down here (I can't stand lavender). I added a whole sprig of fresh rosemary to the oils and put it on my magic bullet to mix...it came out almost like a mayo consistency, but everything chopped nicely. I then added the lye, I did notice something really interesting when adding the lye: the oil was at room temeprature, the lye was super hot...it had just turned clear, yet when I added the two together, trace happened within 2 minutes. I thought it was going to take forever because of the temp difference and the oil being just olive which tends to trace slower - go figure!

When I was mixing oils+lye, waiting for it to trace, I noticed I did not have any lavender on hand!! Sooo...I added calendula petals once cooked (which took about three hours and a nasty burn on my tougue - note to self: use testing strips for castile...it's tricky to cook), yet the smell was not what I had envisioned. I ended up choosing lemongrass EO and this amazing bar came out :) it smells really fresh, has a great texture, almost candle like smooth, has the soothing action of calendula petals and is 100% olive oil. What better way to love your skin!?!

I still have the soaping fever, but alas, I have no lye. So I'll have to wait to purchase more lye, and olive oil, and coconut oil, and.... you know how it goes.

So happy soaping everyone, make one batch for me ;)

18 ene. 2011

Success - CP red on white swirls

  Hooray for me!! I did it!! I made a successful batch of CP soap including swirls and all. It turned out beautiful and will be ready by St. Valentine's day...so perfect timing!!

I scented it with ylang ylang and roses, red part is vainilla. So it's a girly girly bar of soap, really sweet and flowery :)

I've also created a shopping cart on my Facebook page!! I've been busy :) So you can go have a look at what is available for purchase. These are the four sizes I'm currently offering, small 1.5 oz, medium 2 oz, large 4 oz and extra-large 5 oz.

I've also made more HP soap: coffee soap, beer soap and ginger cinnamon. For some reason my soap this year is colored grey or beige...which I'm perfectly fine with...but I do feel like I need some color in my life, so I'll go ahead and order some micas from TKB Trading. A colleague uses them in her makeup line and is really happy with both the quality and the service. So I'm confident about the product, plus all the talk on forums about the company makes me feel good about working with them.

On my curing rack I have mango/peach (CP), another batch of beer soap (CP), lemongrass rosemary castile(HP) and spotted castile (HP). I'm running out of space, but I have the soaping fever, so I'll be making some coconut soap today.

Starting next week, I hope I can begin with the 300 project. I need to refill my coconut oil and olive oil (again) I'm running short on both of them, plus I need the beeswax and cocoa butter to start making the lip balms and perfumes - packaging not here yet, but I'm sure it's coming this week.

A lot on my plate, but extremely happy :)
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12 ene. 2011

Solid perfumes and lip balms to come

Since I work best under pressure, I went ahead and ordered these two thingys for my new projects this year. It also helped that Elements was having a $0.12 sale on the pots and $0.14 on the lip balm tubes.

First one is a line of solid perfumes, like the ones I used to have when I was a little girl. I've always been fascinated by them, they lasted forever and were easy to carry around, and have not seen one in years, so I'm bringing them back this year ;) This is me being fashion forward!!

The other project is a line of lip balms, three different types of lip balm: Mint lip balm (Love My Lips), Cinnamon lip balm (Lust My Lips) and Honey lip balm (Kiss My Lips). Not sure about the name Lust my Lips, but I think I'll go with it anyways. Think super yummy nurturing lip balm.

Now that I think of it, I have to think of pretty names for the perfumes...and the soaps. It's hard for me being creative in terms of words, I'm usually really square about it - lavender soap is just lavender soap...not Purple French Autumn or something of the sort...I need to let my inspiration run wild.

Where do you get your inspiration from??
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11 ene. 2011

New soap mold+ Cutter in one

My lovely husband made this amazing artifact this weekend. Call it his contribution (of many) to the soaping business. It is a soap mold, capable of holding up to 5 pounds of soap (maybe a little more), with movable dams that can regulate from 4 oz up to the max.
As you can see, the sides open up, so it is easy for the soap to be unmolded. Here you can see a nice 2 lb log of coffee soap ready for cutting.

After the soap has been unmolded and the lining has been peeled, you can put the sides back up and slide the log forward until it hits a stopper, carefully placed at 1 inch, so each bar is cut as exactly as possible. Here shown with my faithful pasta cutter right in there.
 Soap is easy to get out as it just slips to the sides.

I've tested it with two batches and have no complaints. It's also easy to store as it folds completely flat. Will have to test it at full capacity and see if I can actually move it :) as it is built quite sturdly. My hubby does not trust nails, so he uses screws for everything. Another plus is that it's all made from wood we had lying around, so we only had to buy the hinges and screws, around $4 worth of them. So it's the cheapest mold in history :):)
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6 ene. 2011

Third time's the charm!

OK...so I didn't get home early yesterday (but I did get home debt free - one of them at least :). So I just whipped up this batch during lunch hour. A delicious beer soap recipe of my own. Soapcalc says it's nice, firm and conditioning. Ant he best part? It's CP!! I finally got it right!! It took a while to trace, but I was patient about it, when I started to feel antsy, I would wash something, clean up my work station, listen to music, anything to keep me from not mixing. And it paid off :) Perfect textbook trace, I even made little patterns with the mixing thingy, twirls and palm leafs. Now on to the first wait before I unmold, then the second and hardest, 4 weeks drying time.
Now, the whole point of this excercise is to be more artsy about my soaps. I want to open the shop with soaps that will sell themeselves. As of now I have to explain what the soap does and it's benefits, if I go into retail, it's just easier for someone to fall in love with the look and then come back for more because of the benefits. it made more sense in my head anyways. So now that I have the recipe down to one I really like, I'm starting on the artsy part. Still to come, colors...have to buy them, I think I'll go with the reputable TKB Trading colors, they seem to be the most talked about, and they have a nice starter kit.
Tomorrow I'll try the coffee one. Just wanted to make sure I could CP before I tried to do anything else more complicated.
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5 ene. 2011

Of beautiful soaps and such

 Balsam offers this beautiful soap, which is complete inspiration to me. Such a marvelous piece of art, perfectly balanced colors which temp you into taking a bite. I want my soaps to look like that when I grow up.

I've been trying to do CP soaps for two days now, both attempts have failed horribly. The first one, a 100% coconut oil soap, which when I cut it crumbled to a million pieces. The fix? Put it in the crock pot with a couple of more oz of coconut oil and cook it out. The result? A marvelous white on white soap - scented with rosemary mint form Elements Bath & Body. My second try was with a cinnamon ginger soap. I mixed ingredients, got trace, took out 4 oz and mixed with cinnamon and swirl with the rest. 24 hrs later I had a beautiful glob of soap covered with 1/4 of and inch of oil. GRRRR. The fix? You guessed it, stick it in the crockpot and cook the heck out of it. I lost the swirls but ended up with a nice brown colored bar, with amazing cinnamony smell, half of which is natural (5 bars) and the other half I added Mediterranean Fig fragrance, again from Elements.

I seriously thought CP was easier to do than HP, but it seems not. If I come home early today I'll give it another shot with beer soap. The beer is sitting on the counter with salt since this morning, so it will be nice and flat. I'll whip up some soap and see what happens. Next up...coffee soap! Hopefully, it will end up looking like Balsam's bar and not another glob.

4 ene. 2011

New Year's resolutions

Happy New Year!!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season!

I've been thinking about the different goals and resolutions we like to set for ourselves every year. And how most of them are lost and forgotten a couple of weeks later.

This year I want it to be different, I want to stick to my resolutions and in the process teach my child by example how to create, work towards and accomplish the goals we set for ourselves.

My goals for this year are as follows (WIP)
1) Obtain health permits for my products - so far, that means 5 recipes: bar soap, liquid soap, lip balm, solid perfume and lotion bars
2) Source product to at least 3 other stores
3) Get off my behind and excercise for at lest 30 minutes a day
4) Eat well under the supervision of a nutritionist

The first two are linked to my 5 year plan of creating a solid soap label and then open my own store. My dream is to create a body care empire I can enjoy and when I'm gone I can leave my child with a solid financially healthy company. I don't want her to go through the trials my husband and I have had to go through.

The last two are part of my growth as a person and my search for peace. I've fought with my weight and health habits all my life. I'm far to critizicing of myself but rarely do anything about it. My hubby put it the best way, in our jobs we are doers, and that's what makes us outstanding employees, if we could transfer that to our personal lifes, we would also be as succesfull.

I guess this all sums up to teaching my daughter how to live a complete life, loving herself, loving what we do and doing, not saying.

Having layed out my heart, I want to share a crazy plan I have. I want to follow each of the recipes found in the book 300 Handcrafted Soaps: Great Melt & Pour Projects, by Marie Browning. This means that I will make master batches (which will help me perfect my recipes) and remelt the soaps to create the beautiful soaps listed in the book.

This excercise will help me stick to my goals, help me experiment with different decorating techniques and finally will help me find new fragrance blends for my future store.

Since there are 300 recipes, I suppose I can do them in a year. Let's see how that flies. I'll be posting pictures and comments of my advances for each recipe I make, kind of like the Julie & Julia movie.

Wish me luck! I have to run and buy olive oil as I'm out.