The new cover image

The new cover image

My wonderfully talented (and good looking) son, a graphics arts wiz, made me a cover image for my biz FaceBook page! This is what he sent me. I was completely blown away! It’s exactly what I would’ve asked for had I thought to request one. He wanted to make this for me to give me a branding image to build on and that’s exactly what I got. I love it!

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Pretty in Pink

Image

A second batch of patchouli cottonseed oil soap was made on Thursday and this is what popped out on Friday afternoon.  So far this is the only one out of the mold, but you can tell this one was still a bit soft because of the finger poke at the top.  I was sniffing it to see how well the FO held up in the soaping process, it slipped a bit in my hand, so I grabbed for it and my finger sank in at the top a little bit.  Oh well.  It’s not done if it doesn’t spring back, right?

The FO held up very well  despite pokes and slips.  It’s a pretty shade of pinkish-coral.  I  used the Mica from WSP in Coral for this one and just puffed it directly into the soap until it reached a color I liked.  I wondered if it would morph if I did it that way, but so far, it’s held  steady at this shade.  It deepened a bit once it got out of the mold and hardened up slightly.  We’ll see what a couple of weeks will do.

The next one I plan on doing is a spa bar, or as some folks call it, a salt bar.  I bought some snack-sized, round plastic storage containers for this batch because being a salt bar, it will harden very quickly and will crumble if you try doing a loaf and cutting it.  So to avoid that possibility, I’m making them individually in small ‘molds’.  They’re only a couple of inches across at the top and slightly less at the base, so they’ll be small, but good proportions for a soap bar.

I’ve been reading a lot recently on how wonderful a salt bar feels once it’s cured enough to use, which is typically about 2 months minimum, 6 months is ideal.  Not sure if I can wait that long to try it.  I couldn’t hold out with the castile!  Used it in a shower last night and my skin felt satiny smooth!   Fabulous!  The lather in a salt bar is supposedly very lotion-like as some have described it, so we’ll see when it’s ready if that’s an accurate description.

Lost weekend at the computer

It’s easier now to sympathize with policemen and doctors who complain about the amount of time they have to spend each day doing ‘paperwork’ after the weekend I’ve spent at my computer doing graphics design of the labels on some new products added into the NN line.  I should probably call it my Lost Weekend since that’s all I really remember from it.  But there is an upside – nicely printed newly labeled productsLotion Bar, Baby Balm, Body Wash, Foot Balm, and Lip Balm!

These labels are done courtesy of time spent perusing a site called The Graphics Fairy.  Loads of beautiful antique calligraphic art, pen flourishes, and art ephemera is constantly being uploaded to this site every day, so you’re bound to find something you like if you take the time to really look for it.  There is a search box in case you want to narrow your focus to one thing at a time.  This web site and the second she has are –

www.graphicsfairy-diy.com

and

www.backgroundfairy.com

I’ve saved a couple of backgrounds to try to use in other places  because they were just too beautiful to pass up!

The products that I lost the weekend for are Lotion Bar, pictured is Peach scent, Body Wash in the bottle with the silver flip top cap (unscented so far), Baby Balm in Baby Clean scent on the left in the flat white jar,  Happy Feet foot balm for sore feet with white camphor & eucalyptus in the flat white jar on the right, and lip balm in Margarita and in Peach flavors in the twist up tubes on the left.  Ta Da!  Very pleased with the outcome of my Lost Weekend.

The learning curve smooths out….just a little.

The order from Wholesale Supplies Plus arrived today with the anxiously awaited Pearlizer & Bubble Booster on board.  I added some ( as per instructions) to a small bottle of body wash I’d made with Peach FO and a slightly larger bottle of shampoo with the same FO and wowee!  It looks much better  – in the bottle at least – so the real litmus test will follow later this evening when I try it out in the shower.  Can’t wait!

Also in that box of wonders was a quartet of colours for soaps that are all oil locking.  This means it’ll work best being added to oils as I soap and hopefully my soaps will take on a whole new dimension! I’m very excited to try them out soon, though no soaps are really needed right now, so maybe i’ll give ’em a whirl with a rebatch.  There’s some fugly soap I’ve chopped up to be rebatched tomorrow.  The scent might need a bit of a booster, but the soap is fine.

For those who don’t really know the difference, oil based, Hot Process or Cold Process soap is very different from a Melt & Pour soap.  The oils in HP or CP soaps moisturize, leaving the skin feeling soft, supple and soothed after a shower or bath and the lye used is taken up by those same oils and neutralized in the curing (in the case of CP) or cooking (in the case of HP) so it is no longer in the soap itself once it’s ready for use.  CP soaps generally take about 4 or even 6 weeks to cure as they are not cooked but rather blended with the melted oils and the lye solution together at a similar temperature.   The saponification process takes place in the mold.  It goes through several stages, some of which are known as gel phase, which looks sort of clearish and slightly greasy, almost like Vaseline.  Rather gross in my opinion.  HP – Hot Process –  cooks the oils with the lye solution, forcing it to reach a quicker saponifaction stage and the stages come up much faster if you use a stickblender to get the two halves to mesh.  The colour will change, and slightly thicken, then it cooks and rolls in on itself.  It becomes very thick, too thick to stir with a stickblender, so a spoon helps here or even a spatula.    CP soap is easier to work with if you want to create swirls, or something equally fancy like frosting for soap cupcakes because it’s thinner when you pour it into molds.  It’s easier and you have more time to play around with it adding colours and giving it that tie-dye look.  Some soapers use funnels for this, others use plastic cups, others use other items that hold small amounts of the soap with enough room to blend the colour iin before adding it to the base in the mold.  Generally speaking CP soap is prettier.  Still I’m a die-hard HP fan.  It might not be all that pretty, but it’s the next best thing to instant gratification.  The soap can be used in a week or two rather than a month or two.

Melt & Pour is great if you’re in a pinch for time and really need something to take to someone the next day or within a few days.  It’s already sapped, takes colour beautifully so long as the colour is water-soluable, and FOs stay true in it.  It’s great for doing soaps with multiple designs, weaves, knotworks, hearts, flowers, bugs, etc.  It can be painted, tinted, or brushed with a gilding or glitter and be gorgeous.  Just keep in mind that often the glittery look does not translate well on the ‘net in pictures.  All in all it’s a great way to get your feet wet in the soaping business and decide if it’s what you’d like to try further.

It’s now time to go test the body wash and shampoo to see how I like that Pearlizer & Bubble Booster.    Now it’s clear what to do with the shampoo base to make it the way I want it to look, so let’s see if it’s the way I want it to feel.

Castile soap! A first….another one.

My first batch of castile is now drying to a lovely pale minty green shade for now with the delicate fragrance of Baby Clean.  Just wish I had better molds for them.  They’re pretty big bars, ranging from 6.75 oz to a whopping 7.2 oz. and there are 8 of those.  Not all of the soap would fit into the mold I had , so I put the leftovers in the only other mold I trusted to release them without tearing them to pieces, the knotwork mold.  They were all over 4 oz. too, but at least they’re pretty.  Can’t wait to try one! In about three weeks.  That’s the beauty of hot Process soapmaking!  (almost) instant gratification.

Beach Breezes, Torrential Rain, and Patchouli, oh my!

 

Sunday’s soapmaking adventures
Cottonseed oil recipe, modified
A modified version of the Cottonseed oil soap and my newest favorite scent Torrential Rain. This is one of those fragrances than makes you go "ooooh! " quickly followed by a low moan.
Patchouli in modified cottonseed oil soap recipe

 

Hot Process Cottonseed Oil Soap Bars
Nautilus Shell soaps with the original Cottonseed oil recipe. There are also 3 Celtic Knot soaps (notpictured yet) of the same batch.

What a day!  Three batches with three new scents!  The soap recipe was the same, well, more or less, with slight modifications in a couple of them, but only for the better.  I’ve fallen hard in love with that Cottonseed Oil recipe and made a batch of soap with the Beach Breezes  fragrance oil using the original form of the recipe which has just three oils – Cottonseed, Palm Kernal, and Coconut. The other two were with a modified version with aditional oils of olive, castor and switching out the palm kernal for palm.  I also used some of the new FUN colors for use with a 1 oz dollop of glycerin to distribute.  The Torrential Rain had a swirl of Ultramarine Blue, the Patchouli had a swirl of the Oxide Red, and the Beach Breezes had a complete tinting with a small amount of the Teal.  I think I’ve found the replacement for Beachcomber in Torrential Rain.  It simply sends me into blissful olfactory orbit when I get within noseshot of it.  Wow!

Tomorrow will be another day of production both soaping and culinary .  If there’s any steam left in me after soaping a batch of a new first – Castille soap with Clean Baby fragrance oil (also new), I’ll run up a batch of peanut butter cookies for the dear hubby.

The way to his heart is through goodies.  Lots and lots of goodies!  I’ve found one for me too, thank to my sweet daughter.  One-Pan chocolate chip cookie!  My kind of recipe – just one pan!  It’s nothing like the technique dear hubby employs, one I’ve dubbed the EPIC method of cooking.  E.P.I.C. to be precise.  Every Pot In Cabinet.  The kitchen is eligible for Federal distaster relief, but I’m too embarrassed to ask for it because I don’t want anyone to see the chaos.  But he is an adventruous cook and a good one, so I can’t complain.  He’s fun and I love him, so it’s worth it to let him just run riot every now and then.

For now, it’s dinner time for us, then a night’s good reading before tucking off to bed to go to work in my day-job.  Which I love, by the way, but it sometimes interferes with my other job – soaping!   Night all!

Grieving, loss and renewal

Today was the hardest day I think I’ve ever had in all my 53 years!  I had to say goodbye to a much loved grandmother who gave us safe haven, loving arms to chase away our fears, strength to give us wings, and smiles that lit up our lives beyond description.  Her smile was simply amazing.  Indescribable.  It shone through her eyes brighter than any beacon in the darkest night.  It gave us all a sense of safety, joy, but most of all like we were the single most important person in the world to her.  There were five of us though, but she still managed to make us all feel like we were all equally her favorites.  Even though she had no favorites.  We were all loved endlessly, overwhelmingly, equal.

We lost her just as the weather is about to turn toward the warming days of spring – her favorite time of year for the promises it held just waiting the encouraging touch of the sun and a gentle warming breeze.  Those first early blooms were met with excitement, then encouraged to go further and show off their bounty through the increasing days of sunlight, warmth, and gentle rainfalls.  Easter was a particularly fun time for us as little girls growing up under her ever-watchful gaze.  She and our grandfather would go to extraordinary lengths to make an annual Easter Egg hunt a thing of great adventure, fun, but also of learning to follow clues.  Were they they ones who first gave me that early taste of solving puzzles, finding clues, solving mysteries?  Perhaps, but it has made life  fun every single day as a result.  Each of us was assigned a number, myself being #5 as I was the fifth granddaughter.  We had a clue we had to follow, given as a riddle -each of which rhymed by the way-that led to the next clue with our number at the top.  That would continue with an egg at every clue and riddle to be solved and followed, until the end of the path.  What was at the end of these clues and eggs?  To be truthful, I honestly don’t remember becasue to me it wasn’t about the end, it was about the adventure in getting there.

They both were lifetime learners forever encouraging us all to be one also, ever curious to find out more, stretch our educational wings, be more, stronger, better.  They both knew so much about the worlds around them.  She loved birds, particularly hummingbirds. But all birds were a thing of beauty to her and my grandfather.  She could name every bird that ever perched on her feeders, hopped across the patio, or pecked through the foliage beneath the juniper bushes.  She knew the plants growing wild in the woods behind their home, could name every type of tree, but didn’t offer this knowledge in a showy way.  It was more of a sharing of what she knows in a simple, one-on-one way communicating something in hopes that you too will carry it forward somehow, someday to someone who could benefit from it.  Those walks through their woods, the tiimes spent looking through the books on birds and even butterflies were journeys we all five of us enjoyed at one time or another iin our young lives.

Her life was much like those Easter Egg Hunts and walks through the trees of our childhood.  It wasn’t about what was at the end, but about the in-between.  It was always the journey that gave us what we needed, not the destination.  In this, we can now give back to her what she so generously gave to us.  We give her the wings to soar in her own journey, not focusing on that destination because we know what is waiting there for her.  Our grandfather is smiling alongside her family, with open arms to greet her, welcome her, and give her joy and rest as they’ve waited so long for her to join them.  Ninety-eight years was plenty of time for her to complete everything she ever needed to do for us, with us, and nothing was left undone.  Her time here was done, and we could no longer be so selfish in keeping her with us, so she’s now with her loved ones, resting, smiling, rejoicing.  We will see her again one day and smile right along with her at the end of our own journey.