New twist

Time marches on, things change, kids grow up, our homes evolve, family scatters, but sometimes we can feel like we’re standing still while the world marches past, moving inexorably forward.  Shouting down the marchers does no good.

That was more or less how I felt for a while. Clicking along, merrily, perhaps a bit cocky and overly confident in the day-to-day workings I’d churn out online in formulations, label production, graphic design, blog posts, Instagram & Twitter moments then Bam! It all came to a screeching halt.

Windows 10 ran an update,(cue ominous music) which did not play well with others.  My computer lost sight of several things – first, our network settings, so trying to get that back caused us to lose our sound card codec settings.  Trying to get those back, we then lost the ability to save custom settings for region, date and time of day.

The forced updates Windows began doing with its roll-out of 10 was a complete disaster to the desktop.  The laptop fared far better and still clicks along just fine.  I suppose in part because it’s newer.  It began life here on 8, which we could hardly wait to leave in the dust to upgrade to 10.

10 worked fine for a while on the desktop that began life here on 7, but then suddenly we could not get any wi-fi signal, so YouTube buffered constantly before dropping out completely. Being a huge fan of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and streaming online at various channels’ websites, that’s like being denied air.  Unsustainable.

The fixes to all of those issues did nothing to repair the situation.  There was no going back as another of the casualties was the ability to set aside a custom portion of our drive to rollback dates.  It wouldn’t go back beyond the date of the fatal update so all hope and hardware was lost.

The time had come.  My desktop was going to have to be retired from full time operations.  It’s still a great computer, but the internet connectivity is unreliable.  Still a lot of my files are on there and I need them daily.  So, it will still be used for offline work mostly, though it does still connect to some ghostlike form of someone’s network.  Don’t know whose network it’s latched onto since none are listed.  My 20 year era of faithful dedication to PCs had ended.

Welcome to the wonderful world of iMac!  It’s a brave new world and so far I’m loving this and wondering now why I waited so darn long.  Yes, a couple of my programs aren’t Mac compatible, but the PC still can serve that purpose.  I’m fine with that.  Now to learn how to find everything I typically use all the time and quit scrolling on a wheel mouse in the wrong direction. My iMac is an older model, but new to me.  Has plenty of power, lots of memory, runs on Sierra, updated to the latest iTunes so this chick is a happy camper.  Everything seamlessly syncs if you want it to.  It never fails to ask first and I like that!  So here’s to another long & happy relationship with Apple computers and the bright, shiny world of iMac!

Well, here it is again…

….the end of yet another summer and I have to say I’m rather disappointed in this one.  Too much cloud cover, too many rainy days, not enough sunshine for my thin blooded self, but i’m sure the green things love it.

With the end of summer and school about to begin again, we start thinking about cooler temps, leaves changing colors & falling away and all those fun (and expensive) holidays looming just over the horizon.  I start thinking about having oatmeal in the mornings with my caffeine jump-start of choice – Pepsi.  I’ve never learned to like coffee, sorry java lovers!  So with those thoughts rumbling through my brain the products to come are now coming to the forefront on my mental To Do List.

Here are a few returning scents I plan to make this year:

Cafe Mocha

Snow Witch

Ultimate Christmas – maybe.

I say maybe to that last one because it was not a huge seller last year but the scent takes you home for the holidays in such a memorable way that it’s hard not to use it in something.  I might just stick with making wax melts of the spicy scents that can discolor or seize and use the others that don’t produce gremlins in bar soaps.  Hand and body wash is also a possibility for the naughty scents since they won’t make an already made soap seize.

I would love to hear from you on what scents you know of that would be ideal for this fall/winter season of 17/18.  Comment below or email me at neecysnecessities@live.com.

Beer (or Wine)? In Soap? Why?

Fig Orange MeadFullsteam Rocket Science & Humidity Pale Ale 2

 

Some beer aficionados might be crying in theirs over the shocking abuse to an otherwise stellar brew, but soap makers know a little something or two about beer in a soap.

There was a time when girls used to rinse their hair in beer after the initial shampoo.  Why?  Well the answers varied about as much as the hair color, but the main one that sprang up most often was ‘shine’.  Lots and lots of shine is brought to your hair after using a beer rinse.

For a quick minute, let’s get a bit technical. Not too much though.  I’ll paraphrase and keep it simple.  What is it about beer that makes your hair shinier with it than without it? There are two main ingredients in beer – barley and hops.  Both are natural sources of proteins which hair needs for strength.  There’s also B vitamins in beer that sooth and smooth the cuticle of the hair, The cuticle is that layered outer coating of each individual hair shaft, similar to a fish’s scales.  When the cuticle is dried out or damaged, these cuticles are raised and damaged, leaving the hair feeling rough and dry.  Almost crackly.  The beer smooths those down and aids in building strength to the hair as well as the shine. The minerals and proteins found in beer are the perfect  way to bring back shiny, healthy hair we underappreciated in our youth.  Okay, technical lesson over.

Now you have a visual image to give you a deeper understanding of why I love to add beers, lagers, stouts, ale of all types, to my soaps.  Bar soaps and liquid soaps alike can benefit from the addition of these well-loved beverages as a positive additive to your next shampoo experience.

NeecysNecessities.com offers a wide variety of boozy bars for your bathing & shampooing enjoyment.  We use pale ales, IPA, & ITA in our liquid soap and every possible type of beer/ale imaginable in our bar soaps.  Many people like to use a bar soap for their hair and while it might work for some I cannot suggest it if you have anything other than very dry hair.

Our soaps rate high on the conditioning scale with a soap making calculator. My bar soaps are aimed toward dry, sensitive or easily irritated skin.    The same can be said for our liquid soaps. However,  I do have a bit more flexibility with these in that I can formulate with more glycerin for skin and less for hair.

Golden Silk Body Wash May 2016

Superfatting one one way to pamper the skin but it doesn’t work for a shampoo bar, so shampoo bars are not superfatted to the extent that a body soap is.  We also offer coconut water and aloe juice enhanced bar soaps for those that like the benefits found in these liquid replacements/additives.

One thing that should be noted here is it’s impossible to make a 1-bar-fits-all soap. What works for you might not work at all for your neighbor.  Still with the range of bar soaps and the liquid soap we also offer, we can make most of you happy with your skin & hair again and smell good while doing it.

Making Boozy Bars and beer-based liquid soap formulations has become something of a specialty of mine and with the large, and growing, microbrewery industry in the Durham, NC area, there’s plenty of potential candidates for our soaps. I love using a boozy beverage in a soap for the boost it gives to hair, the luster, that bounce and over-all beneficial mineral & protein jump start it adds with every use.  Of course once you’ve washed your hair again, those benefits will wash away, too, so don’t stop at just one use.  Use it as a regular routine treatment for highly damaged hair and once a week for regular hair.

 

Images:  photography by DJGunter

Fullsteam found here

Honeygirl Meadery found here

Neecy’s Necessities found here

 

 

 

Phytoscents for Bath & Body

What is a phytoscent?  It’s a fragrance from the plant that contains nutrients and beneficial components in the formulation, bringing function to your bath & body care in a way that a standard fragrance or essential oil scent does not.  Formulator Sample Shop carries this line of additives to extend bath & body formulations to a whole new level.  You can find their full list here.

PhytoScent Vanilla

Solution color

I was offered a chance to try out a phytoscent in soap, knowing that I love to play mad scientist  as often as I can, I jumped at this golden opportunity.  I chose to use one that I don’t have in abundance in my regular selections of fragrances, which, as it turns out, is vanilla.  Why don’t I have that one?  Well, as many a soaper will tell you, working with a fragrance that contains vanilla, or vanillin, will discolor your soaps in varying degrees.  They will turn anywhere from a light tan to a very dark brown and if your design doesn’t have that colour in its theme, well, there goes your design.  It’s totally eclipsed by the discoloration.

Going in, I’m assuming it will darken, so I didn’t use any additional colour.  I added more to one portion of the soap batter than the other and the division of the soap wasn’t equal.  It was probably closer to 2/3 : 1/3.

I used a regular 2 lb loaf mold plus a samples silicone mold, my standard regular recipe that contains silk fiber, coconut milk but no micas.  Here are the pics in order of the creation process.  They’re are captioned within the image so you know what you’re looking at.

Oils and milk

Fragrance added

Oops, sorry about the typo – should be ‘mixed’!

Soap Batter Divided

Cut bars

I also added a bit to a small bottle of liquid soap to see what would change other than gaining a really great vanilla scent and here’s the results.  First one is right after adding it in.  the second is the next day, after filtering the solution to a fresh bottle.

Body wash with Phytoscent Vanilla added

Hazy body wash

Today I’ll be adding it into some body lotion since the point of using a phytoscent is to not only scent your product but enhance it with benefits that are far beyond just great scent. In the listing from Formulator Sample Shop’s product listing I gain the following information:

  • prevents and reduces skin damage caused by free radicals, environmental pollutants
  • reduces fine lines, wrinkles, age spots
  • excellent source of B-vitamins niacin, thiamine, B-6 and pantothenic acid

While I’m not saying anything I make and use this as an additive will offer a user this very attractive side benefit, as that would be misleading of me to state such and I’d be in trouble with the FDA if I’d said as much, I will say the scent alone is wonderful enough to enjoy any day of the year!  Of course, our lotions always make the skin find its happy place.  FSS Phytoscent Vanilla just takes it one step further!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next?

Service tech arrived – more than an hour early – repaired the AC, so we’re back to work with a fresh, shiny new work week.  With Monday squarely beneath my feet, I decided since the internet is still sketchy at times to do a bit of work offline for a while and hope it would work later – like now as it appears to be cooperating for a change. Doesn’t change the fact I still want to leave our current ISP.  Their service stinks and my business can’t afford anything less than getting our money’s worth.

I’ve been asked more than once recently if I make bath bombs.  My response both times was no but have since revisited this to decide to give it another try.  Not that I was unsuccessful in making them.  I’ve done that sort of item before.  I made bath fizzies for the itchies from chicken pox with colloidal oatmeal and shea butter, a bath fizzy without SLSA for those with sensitive skin that doesn’t tolerate the foaming agent.  The timing apparently was not right because they didn’t move.  At all.  Eventually it became clear their time had not yet arrived, so I pulled them from the web site and let it rest for a while.

After being asked repeatedly recently about them, it looked like maybe it was time to revisit them.  Today was spent formulating recipes for bath bombs again though these will definitely foam and bubble.  That seems to be the way most want them so that’s what they’ll do.  In the next few days they’ll be tried out and I hope to have a cooperating internet to be able to write about the outcome when they’re done.

Another item on the agenda for the coming days is to fill more bottles of the body wash with some of this summer’s scents found in bar soap form.  Most this year were single note fragrances and so far have been very popular, particularly the challenges soaps crafted at the husband’s suggestions.  He has great ideas about some things soap related!

Golden Silk Body Wash May 2016

Still another is to work on a formulation for a liquid soap shampoo.  A shampoo bar might also show up in a few months or the fall for those that prefer bar forms of shampoo.  A previous attempt at a shampoo bar did not turn out as I wanted.  It was heavy, made the hair kind of greasy, so that’s been corrected, but the bars will have to wait a while longer while I focus on other things. One thing is for sure, no matter the form – liquid or bar – they WILL contain beer, ale, hard cider or something along those lines.

Room sprays are also in the early planning stages.  Many simple, complex, or holiday-themed scents are perfect for this application so watch for those to appear as the holidays draw closer.

Some of our scents offered in all current products will be discontinued over the next few months and that’s been mentioned in the NN Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you on which fragrances you’d love to see continue if you have a moment to pipe in on your favorite(s).  It’s difficult to say what others will like so it’s a bit of a gamble to try out fragrances when you aren’t sure of how well they’ll be received.  Some that have been noted as popular have already proved themselves as keepers with everyone and still others are not quite there yet.  Please visit out Facebook page and let us know which fragrances from our web site you’d like to see stay on or return if there was one you ordered some time ago and haven’t seen in a while.  You can find our Facebook page here and our web site is here.

Off the top of my head I know we have not had any bars of Caribbean Sands in quite some time.  It’s very popular when it’s in stock so please let me know if you’d like to see its return.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Challenge Met

A challenge is a polite way of approaching a dare.  A challenge is a nudge to grow outside your comfort zone, make you step outside your comfy, cozy box and explore new things, be they colours, toppings, styles, etc., without making it a permanent change.  But what if that challenge stirs something new inside you – that need to move beyond where you are in that happy little rut you tend to dance happily within?

Such is the point at which I now find myself.  My husband’s challenges pointed me into a new direction, one of bright colours, happy stylings, different themes & a whole new range of possibility.

He went for the simpler things.  Single note scents to start – Orange, then Pink Grapefruit.

He loved those and was please with the results though I could NOT force myself to make them all one solid colour.  Really when you think about it an orange and a grapefruit are not all one colour, are they?  There’s the rind of course, a deep orange and a bright yellow respectively.  Within that is the pith, which is white.  Snowy white.  Further in is the pulp of each fruit, a paler hue of the outer rind for the orange but a pale strawberry pink in the case of the grapefruit. So of course these first two could not be single colours simply because it wouldn’t match the object they imitated.  However, their fragrances are simple single note scents, pure and delightful!  Nothing else added.  One is orange.  The other is pink grapefruit.

Moving forward he offered several more though initially he’d hesitated to give up the final one until I forced him to spill.  He then listed them.  Something akin to the black cherry, chocolate chip in vanilla ice cream  of the two dudes fame Black Cherry cherries painted something with the gummy candies shaped like adorable little bears Tops a cotton-themed soap

New perspective

and last but not least, those green-gold orbs of wild-growing grapes we find everywhere in our state from mountains to coastal plane. Muscadine Collage

Since learning how to shape cold process soap into hand molded shapes and discovering (to my great delight) that the soap dough recipes lend themselves beautifully to hand piping with pastry bag and tips dedicated to that purpose, I’ve used that method frequently with satisfying & colourful results. The leaves of this batch are a soap dough recipe.

*See the bottom of this post to learn more about soap dough and how to get the wonderful books on the topic from Bee Iyata  of Sorcery Soaps.

Next time you’re given a challenge or a dare, try it (within reason, that is).  You never know what new wonders await you if you go beyond your road often traveled.

Sorcery Soaps Links

Book #1 – understanding the mindset of soap making, the zen of preparing a design from start to finish. A book of how to approach soap, soap dough crafting and your own ideas.

Enchanted Book of Peculiar Ideas and Soap Potions

Book #2

Soap Dough Book of Light and Shadow

This link takes you heavily into the experienced soapmaker’s mind, the techniques you’ll learn and add to your own growing list of how-tos.  This specific link is for the PDF eBook version.  There is also a hard copy version if you prefer.  You can download the PDF and print out exactly what you need when you need it.  This one has 20 recipes for soap dough, all tested and proven by Bee herself.  There are vegan and non-vegan recipes to choose from depending on your personal and customer base preferences.

Book #3

Soap Dough Recipes Only

Don’t need the How-To steps?  Here’s a link to download her third release which is ALL RECIPES  (PDF format link) .  No filler, just recipes.

Don’t have time or a desire to learn how to make it yourself, but want to try it out on a batch of your own soap you’re planning?  She offers dough, pre-made and pre-coloured.  Unscented only (mainly because that would be difficult to match her scents to yours and so many FOs and EOs sold today can alter the colours).

Soap Dough

Soap Dough Palm Base

Follow her YouTube channel

Sorcery Soap YouTube

Follow her blog

Sorcery Soap Blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Read for……

What are your favorite things to read – fiction, historical fiction, true crime, magazines, cookbook?  Why do you read them?  Illumination, education, relaxation, entertainment, brain boosting?  Your answer might vary from one day to the next depending on how the first half of the day went for you or where you are in the world or in your life.

I like to shake things up now and then by reading something that is completely out of character but it typically doesn’t last more than that one book.  Depending on how well written the book was, it might not even last that long.  If it’s poorly edited, that too is a fitting cause to abandon it and move on to the next.

Right now, I’m in a fit of reading some wonderfully put together magazines by Stampington.  I use that term with a wide brush stroke outwardly as there’s noting typically magazine-like about the publications distributed by Stampington.  They’re sturdy, matte-finished, thick stock pages of inspiration with no advertising.  They’re as far from a copy of Redbook as one could get and still remain on this planet.  They’re more book-like to me and long-lasting in durability and motivational articles.

If you blog, grab a back copy of Artful Blogging.  If you’re into all things crafty, you’d fall in love with Willow & Sage or Somerset Life. 

There are several titles I’d love to grab for the crafting interests I can’t seem to get enough of, but the one that really inspires me isn’t about crafting, soaping or blogging.  It’s about other women.  Those who create beautiful work of any of thousands of types of  works of art and the spaces they’ve built around them to let that creative muse flow through them – Where Women Create.  These entrepreneurial geniuses offer their own unique voices to give you that little nudge through the own-my-own-business door you need to find your feet and start running with it.  Their stories are heart-warming, honest, funny, and don’t give it that it’s all rainbows and butterflies.  There are cloudy days, potholes in the road to success, sometimes complete re-dos from the ground up.  But they are real.  You feel their joys, sorrows, successes and failures.  I love this one for the healthy dose of reality it serves while still being uplifting and motivating to try harder, perhaps from a different angle.

I share these with you to you can find your feet, regain your voice, find your muse, even if you don’t know you’re looking for them. Sometimes we’re so afraid of trying we push that whisper of an idea down so far we no longer hear it at all.  It still exists but the noise of the world is drowning it out.  Quiet the world for a while in something good to read, let that voice whisper louder in your ear and see what happens next.