27 oct. 2011

Something exploded

Packing stuff for the fair on Sunday...I know it's just Thursday but I like to get there and do minimal set up. Saturday is bike riding day so can't do it then...and I hate leaving things for the last minute. For example: the soap sitting in the yellow platter all needs repacking and relabelling plus I ran out of packing material, if I'd waited until Saturday I would be seriously freaking out...but since it's justThursday I can repack/relabel tomorrow :-)

Anywho...I'll keep on with what I'm doing with the very special help of my DD.



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25 oct. 2011

New Comers Fair on Sunday

Next Sunday is the "New Comers" fair at the Cariari Country Club. This is the fair that started it all. Last year my mother-in-law invited me...I scrambled to get everything ready and I went with a very limited and - lets face it - ugly set of soaps. Small sized, almost none of them containing coconut oil, most without color. I of course did not sell much - more out of nerves than out of product.

After that fair, I decided to make soap more like Inner Earth or Patti Flynn, and I've been experimenting ever since. I still have a long way to go to get to the great masters, but I feel I'm light years ahead of what I was like last year.

I'm not taking a lot of product to the fair mainly because I did not get inspired, so I have these bars and maybe a set just like it. Hopefully they'll all sell, but if not there's another fair I did quite well last year.

Now I'm off to make lip balms and solid perfumes. Those were hot sellers during the summer. I also have to fix some labels which I printed incorrectly two times...grrr.

Keep positive!
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18 oct. 2011

A little of fashion - Fave Spring 2012 looks

Lately I've had this uncontrollable craving for fashion. it all started with a runway show I caught on TV, it was a designer from Argentina as the show was on of the BAF Week show, but I can't seem to find the piece I absolutely adored or the designers name :( It was a very simple black dress with an overcoat that looked like a short sleeved shirt in white with these wonderful red flowers. The concept just blew me away. I've been looking for it ever since, but while I was trying to find it I also ran into these beauties. They are from various designers...all for the Summer Spring 2012 collections. My fave surprisingly are Edun and ISSA, closely followed by my regular favorites Oscar de la Renta and Diane von Furstenberg. I would love to dress like this on a daily basis and I'm trying to get sewing again to do so (I refuse to pay what the designers ask for)

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14 oct. 2011

Soap packing by Naturalmente Mediterraneo

I wanted to share with you a beautiful packing method by Jennifer from Naturalmente Mediterraneo. Her attention to detail is amazing and her products even more so.



13 oct. 2011

From fugly to ugly duckling

I went to the meat market the other day and saw these beautiful bags of lard. So white and lovely I HAD to buy some and try to make lard soap. I did my research and decided to make a lard+olive+coconut recipe just because I want to use the soap in the shower without it being to drying, and I wanted to boost suds :)

I went ahead and got everything ready, melted the lard in my crockpot - and it smelled horrible!! Not rancid but just - well - like lard. I anyways went ahead and threw in the coconut and olive oils,  and mixed in the lye. It took a little bit more to trace than usual, but when it did I just went ahead with the HP. After about 30 minutes I went to check on it and it was a beautiful translucent brown :( I was wishing for creamy white bars and got stuck with ugly brown. But still I kept on (you know where this is going right?). I prepared the pigments - wonderful purple and green - and got the fragrance out. I planned on doing a in the pot swirl with the two colors and the cream base (hah!). I threw in the fragrance, which did not seem to mask the horrible lardy smell - and got a bit of the soap out to mix with the pigment. I don't know why but the color would just not stick! No matter how much I mixed and added I got a nasty looking grey instead of a nice violet. Not learning when to quit, I got another bit of soap and dyed it green - or at least tried to - it turned out bleh!

I was too far along to quit now so I got the two back to the main pot, swirled and molded in hopes that the cured soap will look and smell like I envisioned.

Later that day I went to check up on the soap and it still looked horrible :( It looked like it was already hard enough for me to unmold so I did and left it there to harden up a pinch more before cutting. NOT A GOOD IDEA!! The whole loaf warped! When I went to cut it next morning one of the sides had bumped up, dragging the other side to a horrible shape. But somehow it all matched - horrible smell, horrible colors and horrible shape.

I cut it and let it sit in a corner. this morning I took another smell...urgh, not so bad as when I molded the soap, but still quite leathery. Color hasn't improved....and well, the shape is just too much. So I went at it with a biscuit cutter. I was merciless! And then it happened....my fuglies turned to ugly ducklings right before my eyes!! they no longer looked hunchback, smelled leathery and well...color's about the same, but at least they have a shot of being swans some day - I hope.

Lessons learned: when something just doesn't feel right - don't push on. When you've pushed on far beyond the quitting point stick to it until the end. When all else fails, re-batch.

Until next time...

11 oct. 2011

Almond soap

Since I have been quite absent lately, I thought it would be nice to share with you how I made this really special Almond soap, formulated with what I had in hand at the moment, which turned out to be perfect for mature dry skin. The design was inspired by this beautiful log from Product Body...a nice plain bottom with a whipped top in contrasting color.

First off, I prepared almond milk to use instead of water. For this I used about four cups of water and 1 cup of almonds. I heated them on medium until they boiled, then lowered the heat and let them sit there for about an hour. After this time, I let them cool off and then hit them with my stick blender until the almonds were really mashed up.

I used a "state of the art" filtering system to get all my almond milk and none of the almond bits. Ladies and gentlemen...I introduce...."the sock". It's not really a sock, but it looks like one. It's what is traditionally used to brew coffe in Costa Rica. It's a very dense cotton bag which allows liquid to filter through without the grinds. It's very effective specially if it gets clogged up because you can just grab it and squish.

There is a very nifty wooden frame that goes with it but, alas, I do not have one, so I had to use a PVC pipe to hold the baggie while I poured. Once everything was filtered, I added the lye and stirred stirred stirred....it turned out more mashed potatoes than lye water, but it worked just fine.

 While all of that was going on, I cut and cleaned an aloe vera leaf and added it to the almond milk as well, for extra goodiness.
I weighed my oils, melted them and split them in two...2/3 to color with my base color - in this case a nice terracota color. And 1/3 to go uncolored for the whipped topping. I also got my fragrance ready just so I wouldn't forget (never happened before LOL).
I mixed the lye mash with the oils until trace, added fragrance and color and poured into my prepared mold. Lined with foam since I felt horrible for using so much freezer paper :( - it's actually working really well...peels off very nicely.
After about half an hour, I started with the white whipped topping. Not before noticing a nasty crack running down my terracota base :( it was really really hot that day, so it just split a little bit.
I mixed my oils with the lye and mixed until very heavy trace and added the fragrance - this bit goes without color. I sprayed my base liberaly with alcohol and poured the topping. The way it fell is the way I left it...it looked really nice :)
And here's the finished product...doesn't it look nice?? A delicious blend of olive, palm, coconut, almond and castor oil, made with almond milk and a delicious almondy fragrance. I love it!!

Now it's in the softy stage...sitting in my drying area and I'm crossing my fingers it will be ready for the next fair.

Hope you've enjoyed reading :) Next time I'll try video :)

Irene F.