Thursday, December 15, 2011

Winning at Christmas - Homemade Moon Pies!

Yes, I am winning at Christmas. I've been making up a slew of holiday cheer - mostly in the form of marshmallows! I was asking my Mom, what kind do you think Dad would like? She listed a bunch of possible flavors, and then added, "he really only LOVES them in Moon Pies." This is kind of an effort, but you can make the cookies in advance, then assemble the pies when you make the marshmallow, and then dip at some other time. It is completely worth your time though, and makes a fancy gift!

The Cookies:

2/3 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Add egg, milk, vanilla, and mix well with an electric mixer on medium, about 1-1/2 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients, and add gradually to wet ingredients until your mixer has had enough, then mix the rest of the flour in by hand. Measure 1/8 cup of dough for each cookie, roll into a ball, then flaten the ball on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook for 8-1/2 minutes, until edges are just very lightly browned - you want these to be somewhat soft, not crunchy. Cool well on a rack. Makes 18 cookies.

The Marshmallows

2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 packets gelatin
1/2 cup ice water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract(or whatever flavor extract you like, or five drops of oil flavoring for candy)

You will need a good electric mixer for these, that can run on high for 10 minutes. A stand mixer is best, but a good handheld mixer will work just fine. Put the sugar, corn syrup, 1/2 cup water, and salt in a medium sauce pan on medium high heat. Stir just until combined and sugar is dissolved. Then, place the ice water in a big mixing bowl, and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. You should be watching your sugar mixture while you do this - when it comes to a full boil, turn the heat down to medium, and set your timer for 4 minutes. At the end of 4 minutes, turn the heat off, and with the mixer on low, slowly add the hot syrup to the gelatin, pouring at the side of the bowl to prevent spatter. When all the syrup is incorporated, turn the mixer on medium for two minutes, then up to high for eight minutes. Add the vanilla about one minute before you are done. If your marshmallow goo starts seriously crawling up your beaters, you should stop and consider it done. Spread a generous amount of goo on the bottom of a cookie, then put another cookie on top. Repeat with other cookies. Spread the remaining marshmallow goo in a butter and powdered sugar lined pan. You can cut those up and use as marshmallows later. Let all sit for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

The Chocolate Coating:

1 twelve ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons of vegetable shortening

Mix together in a microwave safe bowl, nuke and stir, one minute at a time, until its all melted and mixed together. To dip moon pies, hold with a thumb and a finger in the center, and spin the edge into the chocolate. With a knife, spread chocolate from the sides onto the centers (you're going to have chocolate all over your hands, how awful), then place on wax paper. You can dip a few plain marshmallows in the leftover chocolate too. Put the chocolate coated things in the freezer for 20 minutes to solidify, then wrap and serve. Remember, these don't have any preservatives, so you need to freeze them or eat them within three days. The plain chocolate coated marshmallows are good for a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Merry (Insert Your Holiday Here)!!

The holiday season is a great time for retailers, and while I'd love to have everyone say to themselves "I'd just like to send everyone fancy soap for Giftmas this year", I have a great love for the handmade gifts. I just thought I'd post a few ideas, if you're looking for inspiration, and don't know what to make this year.

Gift Baskets: These only require assembly, but can be super impressive just the same. Think outside the basket when it comes to your packaging - brightly colored bowls, mini-coolers or lunch totes, or even decorated kraft gift bags are some options. You can take a nice towel, roll it lengthwise, and form it into a basket with safety pins to hold a bath & body collection. For kids, an activity set with crayons, markers, paints, art paper or coloring books, and modeling clay in a plain bag (for them to decorate) is fun. And for the dude in your life, a mini-cooler stuffed with snacks (nuts, jerky) and a couple of bottles of his favorite brew makes a gift he'll really appreciate on game day :) Your finished gift set can be wrapped with clear wrap, and finished off with some ribbons and a nice tag. Some of my favorite tags are from LuckyCees over on Etsy:

Edibles: Made from scratch yummies are always loved! Handmade fudge, divinity, toffee, or marshmallows are super popular at the holidays. Biscotti and coffee make a great gift together, I have wonderful biscotti recipes that I bought from, they're as easy as cookies and totally fancy! If you're not a superstar in the kitchen, there are some wonderful cookie mixes from Betty Crocker that you can use to make great cookie tins, or you can whip up a batch of haystack cookies - just melt chocolate chips and butterscotch chips together in the microwave, add a bag of chow mein noodles and a jar of peanuts, stir together, and shape into lumps on wax paper. Let them harden, package and win at gifting. And if you are really, really lost in the kitchen, you can still make a nice fruit basket :)

Hand Knits - or crochet, this is the best time of year. Even if you don't have advanced needle skills, simple garter stitch scarves and cowls are really impressive, and you can get a double crochet scarf done in just a couple of evenings. Chunky yarns are really hot this year! If you don't have access to a nice yarn shop, even Walmart is carrying Lion Brand Hometown USA, a super soft, super chunky yarn for quick projects. Other good gifting with yarns - washcloths, crochet coasters, and christmas ornaments - tiny stockings, sweaters, and bells are all pretty simple & quick too!

Let them make it themselves - sometimes the best handmade gift is one that you let them make themselves. Crafting kits, yarn, art supplies, and paper crafting supplies are all great for DIY types.

I hope everyone is having a great season, whatever holiday you're celebrating! It's nice that whatever your holiday, we all have giving on our minds at this time of year :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sales!

It is that time of year again, and I'm all about folding to peer pressure. So, there are sales in my shops. On the soap front, I'm offering 25% off with coupon code HOLIDAY11, and for this weekend only, if your purchase (not including shipping) is over $10.00, you will get a free stocking stuffer sampler. The sampler includes a lip balm, soap (2 ounce), and body cream (1/2 ounce). Offer is good in my Etsy shop, or in my BigCartel shop.
And in over at KnitHabit, I have free domestic shipping and $5.00 international shipping on everything, no coupon needed. All shipping is via USPS Priority mail, so even international shipments have a good chance of getting there in time for the big day.
And on to real stuff! We had Thanksgiving yesterday at my sister's house (thank you Karen, for not poisoning any of us!). It was DELICIOUS, all the foods were represented, and I also got some free modeling from my niece, score! A perfect break from working in the soap mines day and night :) We're both in holiday mode, but she is a great hostess, and had Christmas decorations already up. I tend to keep the spirit of Halloween alive in my home year round. My house - Addams family, her house - Martha Stewart. When I'm done vacationing for the weekend, I'll be whipping up new cream soaps, the batch is just about ready, but I won't have jars until Tuesday, happy times! The new stock will all be going exclusively to the BigCartel shop, with a few samples available over on Etsy. Happy holidays to everyone!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Woot, New Things In the Works!

Howdy y'all! I've been working on some new things, of course, soapy stuff and knits, but also... My very own website! It's not much more than a launch pad, but it's all mine, so I'm pretty excited to have a place where I'm not one of millions, I'm the one. My site is Blog is being difficult today about letting me post a link. The website links back to this blog, to my BigCartel shop, and also has a link to contact me directly. I'm really happy with all of it, and the new shop is super neat. If you're a repeat customer, your coupon code "REPEAT" is also good over there, forever, and my current sale for 25% off with coupon code HOLIDAY11 is also fully functional over there. I have set all the shipping for a flat rate, so no matter how much you order shipping is never more than $4.75 for domestic orders and $13.25 for international shipping, and I still refund any overage.
I have all the holiday limited edition soaps listed in both shops, as well as the lip balms and shampoos, and my top sellers. I will be making more body creams today, and sugar scrubs, and perhaps even lip balms, if my evil toddler will let me do some work :) He's demanding TORTILLAS!!!! So, I'm sharing my recipe, so we can all have tortillas!

All measurements are approximate, I make these by eyeball measurements.
4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 Tbs vegetable shortening
1-1/4 cup warm water

Mix flour, salt, and baking powder well. With your hands, squish in the shortening until the mixture looks kind of like cornmeal. Pour the water in, and mix with a spoon until it is all absorbed, and the mixture forms a ball. Squish the ball a little to work in any crumbs or loose flour, then let it sit for 10 min.
Heat a cast iron skillet, or griddle, or other large flat pan over medium heat. Pull off a bit of dough about the size of a golf ball, and roll it with a heavy rolling pin until it is the thickness you like, anywhere from 1/32 to 1/8 of an inch is fine. Place the tortilla in the heated skillet, cook until it starts to puff and brown, flip, and cook the other side. Each side should take 1-2 minutes, if they're browning too quickly, or taking too long to cook, adjust your heat. This recipe makes a dozen 8-10" tortillas, or eighteen 6" tortillas.

Friday, October 28, 2011

This is Halloween!!

The big Halloween sale has begun!! Take 30% off your purchase in my soap shop, SweetsNThings with coupon code SPOOKY. The Halloween special edition soaps are up, and there will also be a couple of new creams in the shop tomorrow too! Have a Happy Halloween, blessings to all!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweets N Things Shop Updates and News 10/18/11

First, I regretfully will be discontinuing the silk shampoos (Strawberry Silk and Blackberry Silk), as my allergy to the silk protein has become too severe for me to continue using it as an ingredient. I will be restocking these scents, but without the silk.
Halloween, and a few other holidays are rapidly approaching, and I will be bringing a few special, limited edition soaps and fragrances into the shop to celebrate! I just listed the first fragrance oil, and matching body cream, Samhain, and there is also a soap curing as well! Here's the full list of the Halloween scents:

Samhain: Dark amber blended with vanilla and sandalwood, on a base of dark spices, incense, and a roaring bonfire in the distance.
Headless Horseman: a masculine blend of leather and woods, with a bit of dust from the road and demonic pursuit.
Hayride Cocoa: a fall hayride is nothing without a hot cup of cocoa! Rich chocolate, a bit of molten marshmallow, and a touch of coffee, for the grownups.
Candy Apple: Tart green apple, with a coat of buttery caramel, and a bit of spice and chocolate drizzle.

The full release will be on Friday, October 28th, in conjunction with my Halloween sale weekend. I will also continue to stock the pumpkin and pumpkin lavender soaps through the holidays, and perhaps even into spring, I'm really liking the way they make my house smell!

And in the works, scents for the winter. My winter holiday soaps will mostly be molded in rounds, and made available in gift packs. Already in the shop, Red Peppermint and Green Spearmint soap, and to follow after Halloween:

Three Kings: Frankincense and myrrh, with gold swirls set in a dark night. 100% natural, with activated charcoal, this soap is beautiful, but also a wonderful detox facial and body soap.
Brown Sugar and Fig: Ripe figs baked with brown sugar, a perfect fig tart with some vanilla and spice.
Bayberry Spice: Inspired by a memory from my own childhood, a bayberry candle in the form of Christmas carolers my mom carefully unwrapped each December, for nearly 30 years! A classic holiday scent, with plenty of cheery spice.
Cranberry Christmas: A tart cranberry scent blended with a bit of fir, a nostalgic memory of stringing fresh berries for garland on the tree.

I'm really excited about all the holidays this year, our witch costumes are ready (my little one is a green wizard, so cute!), and there's also a flurry of knitting with the cold as a great inspiration to keep the needles & hooks moving! I hope for a happy holidays for all of you, and much goodness in the new year.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Halloween Entertainment!

As a full time crafter, I watch a lot of Netflix. The knitting and soap making you know. I just participated in the Practical Magic Blog Party, and that movie continues to be a part of my fall feast of mystical movies. I have a few favorites that also make their way to the top of the queue this time of year, I'd love to share!

1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I'm not a giant fan of the movie, although I love Donald Sutherland. He's one of secret crushes, but not sexy enough in that one to do it for me. I prefer the bang fest that is the TV series. I am solidly on Team Spike, and many of the episodes in season 6 and 7 make me cry like a little girl, he's just so awesome.

2. Let Me In
I've watched both versions of this one, English & Swedish, and I just like ours better - I have to admit, I think the children are just cuter and creepier in the English version. I'm still torn up over this one, Abby is definitely evil, but perhaps not the worst best friend to have for life.

3. Silence of the Lambs
Not really for Halloween, but it's the time of year for ghastly things. After reading the books, and seeing the movies, I have to admit, Hannibal is kind of my hero. To ruthlessly be able to destroy and consume what offends you is compelling, and it's hard not to admire Hannibal at the same time as he freaks you out. And Anthony Hopkins - another secret crush.

I'd love to hear what you like to watch as Halloween approaches - creepy, romantic, or just quirky, I have a lot of knitting to do!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

See the Prize!

Just a quick update to show off what LuLu will be getting! Thanks again to everyone!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Giveaway Winner!

It's time to pick a winner for the giveaway, Wheeeee! Thank you to all who entered, and here's the list:
1. Heather
2. Birgit
3. maddyrose
4. LuLu Kellogg
5. dogsmom
6. Krista
7. monkeycstars
8. Misty
9. Magaly
10. Airmid
11. Andreann
12. Kiki Howell
13. cauldronsandbroomsticks
14. B'ham
15. Willow
16. Pabkins
17. Celia
18. Spritrunner
19. Susan
20. Sandi
21. Lady Jess
22. Michele Seraphim
23. Dana Wright
24. Faerie Moon
25. victoriantailor
26. Kelli Bear
27. Melanie Statnick
28. Rinni's Playground
29. Moncha
30. Rachel Smith
31. Sylvia
32. Linda
33. WickedFaerie
34. Lisa
35. Rickie Jill Treleaven
36. aradia's cauldron

And, now going to to generate the number.....
The winner is....
NUMBER FOUR!!! LuLu Kellogg!! I will be e-mailing her immediately, and posting pics of the prize before I ship (tomorrow, hopefully, all is ready)! Thank you to everyone who entered, and to everyone who participated in this years' Practical Magic Blog Party, hope to see you all again!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Practical Magic Blog Party!

The party is on, how convivial!

This movie has meant so much to me, and the book as well, for so long. I come from an "Owens" style family, down to the pairs of fair and brunette sisters in every generation. And I have to confess, I'm the Gillian. But back in 2000, I was that pregnant witch stranded on an island, alone and in despair.

I probably watched this movie fifty times that year. And I think it saved me. I didn't curse myself, or my family, although the Denver Broncos will never play in the superbowl again while I live, maybe even longer. That is his favorite team, and now they SUCK. Anyhow, I have gone on to live and love again, finding and making magic in more useful pursuits.

Which brings me to the giveaway! For your witchy pleasure, I am giving away a hand crocheted witch hat, pumpkin soap, pumpkin hand & body cream, and pumpkin lip balm, all to one lucky witch! Made with great ingredients, and my best, happiest wishes. To enter, just leave a comment to this post, with your e-mail address. I will pick a winner tomorrow at noon, MST. ***UPDATE, I had the suggestion, and I'm taking it, to extend the giveaway a couple more days - I still haven't checked out everyone else's party posts yet, so it will go on, drawing will be at Noon, MST, Monday 9/26*** Everyone have a most blessed Equinox, and enjoy margaritas with me until then!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Equinox Sale, Practical Magic Blog Party Giveaway!!

It's nearly time!! I am having a sale starting tomorrow at 8:00 am EST through Sunday at 9:00 pm to celebrate the Equinox, I am so excited for the official beginning of Fall! Everything in my soap shop, SweetsNThings will be marked down 15%, and you may also use your discount coupons for an additional 15% off! Repeat customers can find their coupon at the bottom of any of your previous orders from my shop in the "Notes from Shop" section.
The other big happening: The Practical Magic Blog Party! I'm super excited about this one too, Practical Magic is a favorite book and movie of mine. You can click the link on the right side of this page to see other blogs that will be participating. I will be posting a favorite bath tea recipe, my reflections on the movie, and on Saturday night, I will be selecting a winner for my giveaway! Included in this fabulous prize package will be a hand crocheted witch hat, great for winter, and a delightful pumpkin soap, pumpkin body cream, and pumpkin lip balm! To enter, post a comment to this post or the Practical Magic post coming the morning of the 23rd, and include your e-mail address. You have until Saturday morning at noon EST to enter, feel free to share this giveaway with all your friends!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rave Review for Cahmille Soap!

Y'all may not know it, but I buy a bit of soap on Etsy myself. I just received my order from Cahmille, a new shop. I am super proud to be her first Etsy sale! She makes cold processed soaps with her own milk. Human milk is not just something you can run down to the store and buy, so it's pretty rare to find soap made with it. Her soap also contains vegetable oils, primarily olive oil, and it lathers like a very, very well cured castille soap, a creamy moisturizing treat for your skin. This soap is also completely suitable for use by vegans, as she makes the milk herself. A super treat, because no other milk soap can be used by vegans, and human milk is far superior than any other, at least for humans. There is only a limited supply, so you should get yours before it's gone, it's truly amazing.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Labor Day Sale, and New Stuff in the Works

Another frenzy of activity here these last couple of weeks! To kick off September, I'm having a sale, using EtsyOnSale, so you won't need a coupon, everything is marked down 15% at SweetsNThings. However, if you do have a coupon, you can still use it for extra savings! Repeat customers, if you look at any of your old receipts at the "Note From Shop" section at the very bottom, you will see your coupon! Applies to KnitHabit customers as well, you have the same coupon, same place.
And, on the new products front - I'll be mixing up a few more body butters this weekend, with a mango butter free recipe. One of my favorite people is allergic, so this one will be unrefined shea butter, and other things, but no mango. I have also perfected a soy-free recipe, and for now it's only available in Lemon, but I'm taking scent suggestions. Now's your chance, if you have an allergy, sensitivity, or just hatred of soy, you get to pick the next scent. Also, I will be making a few new lip tints this weekend - Wheeee!!!!
And finally, we are still working on a bubble bath concoction, the poll results were fairly conclusive - you want liquid bubble bath, so that's what we will make. I'm thinking mostly natural, but with a bit of sodium laurel sulfoacetate (SLSA) added. SLSA is a very, very mild surfactant and foaming agent, used in baby products because it is milder than soap. Also, the poll results showed that many of you don't care for bubble bath at all, so we will be making a couple of herbal bath teas, and a couple of bath milks as well.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Labor Day, keep the shiny side up!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Using Preservatives in Your Handmade Bath & Body Products

I love handmade bath and body products. Even though I make them myself, I often indulge in the delights that other soapers come up with as well, because handmade carries the personality of the creator. Sometimes, I want the soap of someone with a sweeter personality than mine. Or just someone who doesn't swear like a biker. So I do cruise the interwebs looking for awesome stuff, and I find it, yay! But in the search, I find OTHER THINGS too.
I've already posted here about the super hippie preservative free lotions available. All natural means bacteria and fungus. They're natural too, but I don't want that much nature in my lotions. I love a little preservative. I said a LITTLE!
That's what this post is about. Overuse of preservatives. I have a list here, with the most common preservatives, their INCI names, usage rates, and effective pH range:

Optiphen - Phenoxyethanol (and) Caprylyl Glycol, 0.5%-1.5%, no pH restrictions

Phenonip - Phenoxyethanol (and) Methylparaben (and) Ethylparaben (and) Butylparaben (and) Propylparaben (and) Isobutylparaben, 0.5%-1.0%, pH 3.0-8.0

Germall Plus Liquid - Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, 0.1%-0.5%, pH 3.0-8.0

Germaben II- Propylene Glycol (and) Diazolidinyl Urea (and) Methylparaben (and) Propylparaben, 0.3%-1.0%, pH 3.0-7.0

Tinosan SDC - Silver Citrate and Citric Acid, 0.1%-0.5%, pH less than 7.0, this preservative should be used with Potassium Sorbate to prevent growth of fungus.

Potassium Sorbate - Potassium Sorbate, 0.1%-0.5%, pH less than 6.0, not a broad spectrum preservative, most effective against fungus.

When reading the MSDS and Technical Data Sheets on these preservatives, one thing that really jumped out at me was a recurring phrase: wear protective equipment, including respirator, goggles, and gloves. Why? Because all of these, for lack of a better term, are poisons, and they kill bacteria and/or fungi. In large enough quantities (which for some of these is not very large), they can harm you too. And if used to excess in products applied to the skin, they can cause irritation and rashes.

What has me a bit worried, is that I see products with the preservative listed higher in the ingredient list than fragrance. This is a problem because in a best case scenario, the manufacturer doesn't know that you should list ingredients in order, by weight, from highest percentage to lowest. In a worst case scenario, it's a terrible problem, the manufacturer is using more preservative than fragrance. Now, fragrances and essential oils used as fragrance have varying rates of safe usage, but typically, that rate is anywhere from 3-10%. Some are even safe at 100% concentration, like anise, cedarwood, and fennel essential oils.
Anyhow, the preservative amount is so tiny, it should always be the last ingredient on your list. Tiny, tiny, tiny. Usually less than 1%. Never, ever as much as 2%, which is what one body butter I saw tonight claimed to have. Two percent of a preservative that should be used at no more than 0.5%, and can be effectively used at 0.1%. So that body butter had 20 times the amount of preservative that was needed, and four times the amount that is safe. I know that math isn't everyone's forte, but it's important to have the math skills necessary to safely formulate B&B products if you sell them. To figure out the amount of preservative you need, if it's given in a percentage, you need to move the decimal point two places to the left to get the correct multiplier. If the percentage given is 0.5%, then your multiplier is 0.005, or in fractional form, 5/1000. Multiply the total amount of your recipe, let's say 1000 gm of water, 300 gm of oils, and 100 gm of emulsifier, by the multiplier. In this example:
(1000gm + 300gm + 100gm) * 0.005 = 1400gm * 0.005 = 7gm
Translated into ounces, that's 50 ounces of lotion, with .25 ounces of preservative. 1/4 ounce in 1-1/2 quarts.

Another option, is to make butters with no water, aloe, or other water bearing liquid - bacteria and fungus need it to grow, and can't grow without it.
And you can get a respirator at Home Depot or Grainger (for example) for about $30.00, and it's something that I highly recommend. Safety first!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

New Fall Lines in Both Shops!

I've been in a creative frenzy for a couple of weeks now, and it's awesome! I created a new pattern for a crochet witch hat (available here), it comes together so quickly! I can make a couple of these hats every day, but I was distracted by fall leaves. I'm on a scarf now, basically a brown skinny scarf with fall leaf embellishments, lots of leaves!
I've also made some Autumn scents for my soap shop, pumpkin lavender body gloss, several sugar scrubs, and the Fall/Winter lip balms. I will also have the body butters available again in two weeks - completely water free, and made with organic raw shea butter, and organic cocoa butter. I'm just waiting on containers! I tore through my last order of jars making hand & body creams and scrubs. I ordered tins for the new body butters, they're very nice, and will be great for gifting.
My Etsy Anniversary sale is still going on in my soap shop, 25% off everything with coupon LUGH11, the last day for bargains will be August 14th. If you have any special requests, now is the best time before the holiday shopping season starts, I've already had requests to restock the Detox Soap and Winter Skin Rescue Soap. The Detox Soap is available now, Winter Skin Rescue will be back next week. I'm not listing full sized loaves in my Etsy shop, but if you'd like a 40 ounce loaf for your gift baskets, you can e-mail me at, full loaves will be $28.00 plus shipping, invoiced through paypal.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cold Process, Hot Process, and Melt & Pour

I was chatting last night on an Etsy board, and the question came up, "what's the difference between cold process and hot process?" Another soaper claimed that hot process is milder and has a better lather. I avoid the drama llama, so I kept my fat mouth shut, but that wasn't entirely accurate, and I thought I might bring my soapy experience, and my science degree here and shine some light on this. Most soapers think of soap making as: lye + fatty acids = soap + glycerin. But there's another ingredient, and that is heat. Heat is a product of this chemical reaction, but heat can also be added or conserved by insulation to speed up this reaction. In cold process soap, no extra heat is applied to the emulsified lye, water, and oils. This process can take a very long time. A cold process soap with milk, for example, will darken if heat is allowed to stay in the process, because the milk cooks, caramelizing the milk sugars. For that reason, many milk soapers will even refrigerate the soap to prevent this. But this soap may take as long as six weeks to fully saponify.
With a hot process soap, heat is added, and saponification may be complete within an hour. It doesn't make this soap any more gentle, it just makes it gentle faster. Much faster. Also, it evaporates most of the water from the product, making the bar harden faster. A fresh hot process soap, cured for one week, will lather better than a six week old cold process bar. The reason for this is that this fresh hot process bar still has a higher water content than the fully cured cold process bar. Soap salts have to dissolve in water before they will lather, and the fresh HP bar is already partially dissolved. A six week old HP bar and a six week old CP bar made with the same recipe will have the same lather - and the CP bar, being more porous may even lather better, as it will dissolve in water easier.
So, HP is not more gentle than CP, and does not lather any better. These are properties of your formula. Gentleness is kind of a vague term - it may indicate pH, superfatting percentage, or how much the soap dissolves the oils on the surface of your skin. If a soap has a high percentage of coconut oil, it may feel like it's harsh, because it does remove your skin's oils very well. A lard soap may feel very gentle, if it's been superfatted up to 8%.
And what about melt & pour, what makes it different? Well, melt and pour soap is prepared with a hot process method, with an added alcohol such as sorbitol (which is a long chain alcohol that does not evaporate and dry the skin) used to dissolve the soap salt into a solution which will solidify at room temperature, but will remelt at a relatively low temperature because of the added glycerin, with no additional fluid added. To melt a regular HP or CP soap, you have to heat it to over 140 degrees, and have added liquid to dissolve fully. A melt and pour soap will melt at temps around 100 degrees, with a nice pourable consistency. Making melt and pour soap from scratch is frankly, a pain in the ass. Many high quality melt and pour bases are available, and they are relatively inexpensive, and very safe to work with - no lye! Some bases even have added detergents, making their lather very bubbly, but a bit more drying.
So that's the truth. The process you decide to use for soap making will highly affect what additives you can use, how much and what type of fragrances to add, and what pigments as well. But it's all soap, and the formula is what makes it lather, clean, or condition - not the process.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Make Your Own Soap Balls

You don't have to be a soap maker to make beautiful handcrafted soaps for gifts. For this project, all you need is to save up your soap scraps, it's super easy.

One quart sized zip lock bag full of soap bits, scraps, shavings, or grated bar soap. Can be any kind of soap, including melt and pour, cold process, hot process, or plain soap from the store.
1/2 cup distilled water (you can add a few drops of essential oil with this, if you'd like a scent to bring the different scents together, or 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, but this will discolor the balls)
One sheet waxed paper
Optional ingredient: Brambleberry Gold Mica, used to coat the balls after they dry, use with a soft make up brush or clean meat basting brush.

Instructions: Make sure all your soap bits are small pieces, less than 1/4 inch square. If you're starting with new bars, grate them with a cheese grater, and use at least 4 bars. Put them in the bag, bag should be stuffed full, but still able to zip closed. If you don't have a full bag, use less water. Pour water in bag with soap, and seal the bag. It should be just enough water to make all the soap bits nice and moist. Leave the bag sitting out overnight. The soap will all be soft and a little sticky in the morning. Give the soap a good kneading inside the bag, about 1 minute. Then, open the bag, and grab a handful of soap (about 1/4 cup), form into a ball, and place on waxed paper to dry. Repeat until you run out of soap. Don't worry about how perfect the surface of the soap looks, you will be able to smooth it when the soap dries. Let these balls dry for one week, turning once a day so all surfaces get some air. After drying, you can smooth the balls by rubbing with a dry dishcloth, then paint with gold mica, or other mica pigment, you can even use eyeshadow.

A couple of these balls can be packaged in a cello bag with a nice washcloth for a super nice stocking stuffer or gift for co-workers, and you can also use them as a component of a nice bath gift basket.

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Sale Every Day

For the rest of this month, I'll be placing one item in each of my shops on sale for half price, a different item every day. At SweetsNThings, my soap shop, this discount will already be applied to the deal of the day. At KnitHabit, I'm doing the same thing, I was going to do a coupon discount, but now, you won't forget to get a discount. So, if you're planning on giving awesome handknits as Christmas gifts, or you're looking for a baby shower gift, or just something great for yourself, now is a great time.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Easy Summer Snood Pattern

I'm always fighting with my hair! It wants to be a part of my crafts, and sorry hair, you can't be in it. So, I made myself this quick & easy hair net, and it's become my favorite summer accessory. Light and colorful, this isn't your lunch lady's hair net!

Materials - one ball worsted cotton yarn (about 90 yards used), I used "I Love This Cotton" from Hobby Lobby, it's really soft!, one N size crochet hook, one yarn needle, one elastic headband, scissors.

Begin: ch4, dc eleven times in first chain, join in top stitch of ch4 (12)
Round 1: ch 3, dc in same stitch, 2dc in each stitch around, join in top of ch3 (24)
Round 2: ch 3, dc in same stitch, dc in next stitch, *2 dc in next stitch, dc in next stitch* repeat around, join in top of ch 3 (36)
Round 3: ch3, dc in same stitch, dc in next two stitches, *2dc in next stitch, dc in next two stitches* repeat around, join in top of ch 3 (48)
Round 4: ch3, dc in same stitch, dc in next three stitches, *2dc in next stitch, dc in next three stitches* repeat around, join in top of ch 3 (60)
Repeat round 4 five more times, can repeat more for a slouchier hat for dreads.
Last round: hold elastic head band together with edge, *2 sc in first stitch, sc in next stitch* repeat around, being sure to catch the head band inside each stitch, join at end with slip stitch, weave in ends.


Friday, July 01, 2011

What's On Sale?

I'm having an Independence Day sale in my soap shop all weekend, including Monday. Just use coupon code JULY4 for 25% off your entire order at checkout for my Etsy shop SweetsNThings.

In addition to knit hats, gloves, baby stuff, and scarves, I have a couple of patterns listed in my knit shop, and will be adding more over the weekend. KnitHabit will be participating in the "Christmas In July" sales promotion on Etsy, with a 15% discount on all orders, including custom orders, with coupon code CIJ11. Thanks to everyone!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Getting Ready for Halloween!

I have new stuff in my soap shop for my favorite holiday, Halloween! I know it's early, but hey, Hobby Lobby was putting out Christmas stuff today, so maybe it's not that early. Halloween inspired soaps so far are: Blood Orange, Grape Goblin, and Triple Pumpkin. Just a note on the Triple Pumpkin, there are lots of ingredients in soap making that cause the chemical process to speed up, and pumpkin is apparently one of them! I checked my soap one hour after I put it in the mold, and it had completely gelled, without any insulation or added heat. My whole kitchen smelled like I was baking pumpkin bread, yummy, but disappointing, since there was no freaking pumpkin bread. I love this soap though, it is lush. The pumpkin seed butter is one of those luxurious oils that you can just spread on your skin right out of the tub, I'll definitely be making a whipped butter with this one when the weather cools down.

I also have some awesome yarns in stock for the fall knitting frenzy, angora, bamboo, and of course, wool. If you happen to see a hat or scarf in my shop you'd like in a special fiber or color, just drop me a line, I can knit it up, and send a picture - if you want it you can purchase at that time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer Solstice Sale

The Summer Solstice is on Tuesday, but the sale starts at Midnight tonight! Everything in the shop will be marked down 25%. Returning customers and LSG members can still use your coupon codes, so the savings will be very nice. I'll also have a few new products to add to the shop over the next few days. I'm always in a Halloween kind of mood - like keeping Christmas in your heart, but with candy corn and spider webs instead of peppermint and trees. So Triple Pumpkin Soap, and Grape Goblin are coming out this week. I also have an Agave Oatmeal Soap, vegan and specially formulated for delicate skin, just a hint of lemongrass and amber for a super light fresh scent. Discounts will also apply to custom orders. The sale will continue through Midnight on Tuesday, and thanks to everyone!

Monday, June 06, 2011

New Soaps in the Shop

Oh yeah, and it's a good one. They're all good, but today's additions are just completely awesome. My good friend, NeedleNookCreations needed more soap for her hubby, so I made an new batch of an old favorite, Touch of Grey Nag Champa Soap, for her. But there's 2-1/2 pounds of it, so we can share. The really, really new soap is my favorite, perhaps of all time. I had a hard time coming up with a name, so I called it Handmade Soap of Super Awesomeness. I blended the scent myself, with citrus oils, cedar oil, cinnamon, ginger, and a tad bit of patchouli. Then, this went into swirls of pink, purple, green and black, and I painted the top of the soap with gold mica when it was all done. It's just stunning, both visually and smell-wise, and I'm very happy with it!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Father's Day Sale!!!

Everything in my shop will be marked down 25% for the weekend, so you can get Father's Day gifts in time for the big day! You can also use your repeat customer coupon with this sale, so you can pick up a little something for yourself. I can also ship direct to your dad, just be sure to add that address to paypal when checking out. Oh, and let me know if it's going straight to dad, so I send a card that says "Happy Father's Day from your kid", not "Thanks for buying my stuff". Big sale starts tonight at MIDNIGHT!!!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sponsoring a Giveaway!

If you've never checked out the blog Mad In Crafts, now is the time! I'm sponsoring a giveaway there right now! One full sized bar of The Island soap, and a jar of Absinthe Hand & Body Cream. Jessica has a great blog with all kinds of crafty information, so whether you're into soap, or fiber arts, or stuff with glue or metal or paint, it's just full of fabulous! My giveaway is live right now, but there will be many, many this month, so keep checking in, there's a new one every 2-3 days all month long.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Walnut Sugar Scrub

For this scrub, I started with one pound of my cream soap base. It is very, very stiff, so I added 1/2 ounce apricot kernel oil, one ounce aloe juice, and a few drops of coconut fragrance oil, and kind of squished it together. Then, I went at it with the hand mixer on medium. This part is kind of tricky, kind of like making frosting. If you add too little aloe, the soap won't be creamy enough to whip, but if you add too much, goop. So, I added one mL at a time with a pipet until it was like divinity, or whipped until stiff peaks form. I then took one cup of this whipped soap, and added two cups white sugar, and 1/2 ounce finely crushed walnut shell. I'm sure pumice would have worked as well. The addition of the sugar made it very creamy again, not stiff at all. And that was it! Just a little mixing with the hand mixer on low, just until it was well mixed. The result was a creamy honey consistency, and just dreamy on my hands! It feels a lot like an oil based sugar scrub, but rinses completely clean, moisturizing but not oily. Yea!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Cream Soap Progress

I checked the cream soap this morning, and it is delightfully unchanged! That means it is fully emulsified, I won't have to worry about any liquid soap or other fluids separating out. Right now, it's like a firm putty - like fresh playdoh, but translucent. After I've had my coffee and breakfast I'll be taking one pound of the soap, and whip it with a hand mixer. I can let it sit for a couple of hours after the whip, to see if it stays whipped, and then mix in crushed walnut shell and sugar, perhaps a little apricot kernel oil or jojoba, and see what kind of scrub it makes. My feet are just dying for some scrub, I've taken to going barefoot or with sandals since the layoff, and they look pretty bad! It's too hot to put back on my hand knit socks, but they were doing a great job of keeping my feet nice and soft - but it won't be so bad using handmade scrub and foot cream instead!
And speaking of things that scrub, I have a couple of new soaps in my shop. I sent my oldest son to town to pick up, gasp, lard. My brother just bought a new house, and he prefers an old recipe of mine that is about 27% lard, and requested new soaps for the new bathrooms. The instruction I gave my son was "There are several different sizes of lard, I just need the one pound box, not the giant tub". What he heard was "Blah blah blah lard, blah blah blah blah giant tub." He brought home the EIGHT POUND TUB! Gah! Oh well. It is a great formula, with creamy lather and a long lasting rock hard bar, so I made enough for everyone, not just little brother. The Slab of Slate soap and the Lemon Poppy seed are made with this non-vegetarian recipe, I had forgotten just how luxurious those soaps are, and still full of great veggie oils (olive, macadamia, mango butter). Coffee is cold now, I'm off to whip me some soap!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shop Update, and Cream Soap

**This recipe is intended for soapers with some experience, and please don't forget your safety gear - goggles & gloves please!. If you're new to soap, you may want to see my earlier post "Beginner's Soap"**

I have whipped up a new batch of cream soap, new recipe! I had tried a low stearic recipe, and it wouldn't hold a whip, AND had a terrible lather. It felt like lotion on the skin though, and it was a small batch (1 pound of oils), so it is all mine. I created a new formula yesterday, with the goal of LATHER. Bubbles. Froth. I still want to keep the stearic to a minimum though, so here's the recipe:

14 oz. coconut oil
10 oz. olive oil
8 oz. stearic acid
6 oz. soy oil
4 oz. castor oil
3 oz. palm oil
1 oz. cocoa butter
1 oz. mango butter
8 oz. glycerin
24 oz aloe juice
28 oz distilled water, frozen
1.4 oz NaOH
7.6 oz KOH
supercream - .4 oz stearic + .6 oz glycerin
day one additive: .2 oz germall plus, .5 oz polysorbate 80, .5 oz aloe juice

I melted together all the oils and the glycerin on low heat in my big stainless pot. Then I mixed the aloe & ice in a heavy plastic pitcher, and added the lyes slowly while stirring. Then, slowly added lye mixture to oils while blending with the stick blender, this worked very well, no stearic separation! Then I put on the lid and popped it into a 225 degree oven. Checked and stirred every 20 minutes for two hours. I no longer do a phenophthalein test, mainly because the long curing time on this soap allows it to fully saponify long before you actually use it. Then, I melted the supercream ingredients in the microwave, and used a potato masher to incorporate them into the soap. It is really stiff at this point, and very hot. Then, I turned off the oven, and just stuck the pot with lid on into the oven to sit overnight. The second pic is what was there this morning. Some liquid had separated out. I mixed in the day one additives, and with a gloved hand, squished it thoroughly until it was all mixed well. My hand was tired! After the squishing, I took the pic on the left, and now the soap needs to rot (sounds gross, but that's what the curing process for cream soaps is called). I tested a bit on my hands, and it is very bubbly! Success! I was also pleasantly surprised, it is very mild, my hands felt very soft afterwards, which is unusual on a day one test - cream soap is usually somewhat harsh before it's had a chance to mellow. I can't wait, I will be using this soap as a base for foaming scrubs as well as scented cream soap, I wish I had a time machine to age it faster! This soap needs to cure for at least a month before using, and should really be cured for six months before whipping.

And, oh yeah - the shop update! I'm having a sale in the soap shop, and also have opened a new shop for my hand knits, Knit Habit, on Etsy.

BWS tips button

Friday, May 20, 2011

Proudest Moment of My Life

I just had to share a bit, about my son Jack. He's about 6"1", with brown hair, and one brown eye, one green eye, dimpled, and dashing. He has a silly grin, and I loved going to his parent teacher conferences - once, a teacher said he was "magical". He's full of sweetness, and bluntness. And he's on the autism spectrum, with Asperger's Syndrome. He's never been able to ride a bicycle (no sense of balance), and he can't remember most of the names of the kids he's been in school with for the last 13 years. He could tell you the names of every planet in our system, and how far from the sun they are when he was 5. And the names of their moons. Every year at school has been a struggle, and he has worked so hard. Today he graduated from high school, and will continue to college this fall - another challenge as he is terrified of driving. I sat in the crowd today, watching as he went in line across the track, to the chairs, and then after the speeches, up in line again to the stage.
Jack participated in Key Club, but he's very uncomfortable in social situations. He wasn't in band or sports, and he doesn't go to parties, although he likes to be invited. When he walked up the steps to the stage, and his name was called out, his entire class stood and applauded for him. As he took his diploma, I was crying, to hear how much support and love he has. He really is magical, and I'm so proud of him.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In My Mailbox Today!

I guess it's no secret, I love handmade soap. I make it every day, but even so, I like to try other soaper's stuff, because we're all different. Today, I received my order from BuzzPlanet on Etsy. I met her on the Etsy forums, and she is just a wonderful, wonderful person, and like me, she's a mother of five, and a soaper with less than 5 years experience. And her soap is AWESOME!!! I received two bars, one of the Hula Bugs, and one of the Dirty Bugs. Both scents are wonderful, but my favorite is the Hula Bugs, very fresh and uplifting. And the soap itself was a delight! Bubbly, but with a nice creaminess to the lather, and it left my hands looking and feeling so nice! I have hands that need a little TLC, from all the years of sun exposure and riding on my Harley, and there was no drying whatsoever! I'm super greedy, for a communist, but I have to recommend her shop - you can never have enough perfect handmade soap.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Hand & Body Creams

I have removed the body butters from the shop, they are too heat sensitive to ship again until fall, but to make up for their temporary loss, I have a new line of hand & body creams! They are all vegan, and chock full of great ingredients! Organic aloe juice and witch hazel sooth irritated skin - I used the sweet papaya on my son's recent sunburn, he loved it! And the oils - macadamia, hemp, mango butter, pumpkin seed butter, cocoa butter, and more! The scents are all wonderful, but I especially have to brag on the Absinthe - blended by me, it's not too licorice-y, a nice herbal blend of essential oils that is sweet and mysterious.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th Good Luck Sale

Everything in my shop is marked down 20% through this weekend! I have several new soaps listed, and will be adding fragrances and more body gloss also, and some super awesome market bags! I have a love of yarn that is overwhelming at times, and I am loving these market bags. All of my friends and family use these bags as well - they last forever, and you can easily smush a few of them into your purse for shopping. And, our local grocery store gives you a 5 cent discount per bag when you use them instead of paper or plastic. Which is like, an extra fifty cents back when you have a big family like mine :).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sponsoring a Giveaway!

I'm sponsoring a giveaway on an awesome blog, The Remodeled Life. Megan's blog is wonderful, with much advice and great remodeling projects that any budget can accommodate. I especially loved the new lighting project in her bathroom! Megan also has a wonderful shop on Etsy, Day Dream Designs where she has beautiful Victorian style jewelry.
The giveaway on Megan's blog is for a bar of my Lemon Rosemary Shampoo, and a jar of Pumpkin Spice Handmade Whipped Soap. Thank you for checking it out!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Soaps in the Shop

I'm working super hard to get the shop filled again, and I have a couple of things added - Goat's Milk and Honey, which is one of my old favorites back again, and Chocolate Covered Almond Soap. The Goat's Milk & Honey has no artifical ingredients, no added fragrance, but with the milk & honey & hot processing, it has a beautiful caramel color and scent. And the Chocolate Covered Almond is a new thing, what a PITA!! But well worth the effort, it is so smooth, and has such a great almond scent, it was my daughter's idea, thank you Esperanza! Oh, and I'm on twitter now, if you want to follow me, I'm @sweets_n_things. Not for under 18, I use bad words.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!!

I am having a great Mother's Day!! My oldest daughter is coming to visit me next weekend, I was gifted with a bunch of new knitting needles, a potted snapdragon, and a six pack of Smirnoff Ice Green Apple! My kids know me well, LOL! I hope your day is splendid, and if you're in the mood to treat yourself, you can use coupon code SUNDAY for 25% off your order today.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Treats For Mom

I know it's a bit late to shop for Mom online, but if you're the mom, and you'd like to get yourself something totally awesome, you should check out this shop, Pernilla's Something Swedish. She makes all kinds of handcrafted candies, many that I've never seen or heard of anywhere else. While I have to admit, I've never had a chocolate I didn't like, her's really is something special. I've never been less than euphoric over her treats - they are full of happiness, and you can taste the love she puts into each creation. My favorites so far are the "You Are My Sunshine" bars, full of fresh nuts and plump dried fruits, and the chocolate covered marshmallows, so light and perfect. And you'll never buy from a sweeter lady.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

You're Not the Boss of Me!

My day job is no more! Our new area manager decided that the company had too many contractors, so most of us were laid off yesterday. Later they will decide which jobs need to be filled, and hire some new real employees instead of contractors. My former job was purchasing and warehousing, and I was the only person there doing that job. But in the meantime, I still have my bath and body business, and will be concentrating on this. I'm super excited to have this chance to devote my time to doing what I love. I'm also available to take on more wholesale accounts at this time. Thank you to everyone who has supported me thus far, and for your continued support.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Eat Yer Weeds!!

Kind of appropriate for 4-20! I always listen to NPR in the morning, on Monday, they had a story about urban foraging - finding weeds in vacant lots and eating them. Now, I currently have a crop of weeds going strong in my yard. I knew the dandelions are edible, but I just never thought of researching the others. Apparently, my yard isn't a weed infested eyesore, it's a garden of AWESOME!!! I have blue mustard everywhere, and also a bit of milkweed, which according to the link does not live in western states. Link is a liar. Just be careful when identifying your milkweed, dogbane sprouts look very similar, but are not edible. It's a perennial, and easier to identify the mature plant, so if you look for the sprouts where the big plant was last year, you can rest easier. Be sure to forage in an area free from traffic, pesticides, herbicides, and animal waste. Want a recipe for weeds? Here's TWO!!

Simple Milkweed Sprouts
3 cups milkweed sprouts, harvest sprouts 6" long or less, strip of all but the smallest leaves
two quarts water
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
butter, salt & pepper to taste

Prepare and wash milkweed sprouts, bring water to a full rolling boil. Carefully add sprouts to boiling water, boil for at least 10 minutes, 20 is fine too. Remove from heat, and stir in the vinegar. Then just drain, season with butter, salt and pepper, and eat up. Expect a flavor like asparagus + green beans. Makes 3-6 servings, depending on how ravenous you are.

Wild Blue Mustard Greens
8 cups of leaves from Blue Mustard, washed
one slice bacon, or 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. diced onion and red bell pepper
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

If using bacon, fry the bacon in a large skillet until it releases some grease, but not until crispy. Add olive oil, onion, and bell pepper. Saute until onion is translucent. Gradually add greens, stirring and adding until all are wilted. Sprinkle with vinegar and sugar, and if you're using liquid smoke, now is the time to add that. Cook for one more minute, remove from heat, and add salt and pepper to taste. Makes two decent servings.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Beginner's Soap

FIRST of all - if you are clumsy, prone to dropping things, or unable to bake a good cake from scratch, you may want to pass on making soap from scratch. You need steady hands, the ability to follow a recipe and measure accurately.

One of my good friends has really been wanting to learn how to make soap - and I've encouraged her to do more reading and research before she jumps in. I talked to her this week, and she's been reading everywhere that she should start with cold process. I disagree. Cold process gives you a lot more opportunities to make a mistake. You might have ash, you might have separation, your temps might be a little off, you can experience "seize" and not even be able to pour your soap into a mold. Your first time, you might not recognize "trace", and could mix your soap too little or too much. And if there's a real problem, like mis-measured ingredients, you might not know until a month later, when your soap has cured but is still too harsh for use. It takes a little longer to actually make hot process soap, but you will know what you have that day. For this recipe you will NEED to have:
Rubber gloves
Safety Glasses

An electronic scale (available at Walmart for $20.00)
A heavy plastic pitcher, at least one quart (at your dollar store, never use for beverages, mark it so that doesn't happen)
A stainless steel pot, 4-8 quarts (at the Family Dollar or Dollar General, ten bucks or less;, absolutely no aluminum for this, and this should also only be used for soap)
A sturdy long handled spoon (Plastic or stainless is best, if you use wood, it's only good for one use, the lye will eat it a bit, and you'll need to toss it after one use)
A plastic container, or a clean paper milk carton with the top cut off, to use as a mold. For your first soap, a square-ish disposable 4-6 cup plastic gladware container is fine.
Ingredients: A jug of distilled water.
One 17 oz. bottle of 100% olive oil(cheap, not the EVOO)
One can of Coconut Oil (at Walmart near the Pam, or at your health food store if you want to spend way more)
A small can of Crisco (needs to be Crisco brand, made with soy and palm oils)
A one pound bottle of 100% lye. Available at Ace Hardware as Rooto 100% lye drain cleaner, or sometimes at Lowe's. This ingredient will be the hardest to find - make sure that your lye is clearly labeled 100% lye or sodium hydroxide, most drain cleaners are not lye, and you may have to ask for it, provide ID, and sign for it. It can also be used for making meth, hence the security.
Fragrance - for this recipe, I recommend a pure essential oil, like lemon, lime, or orange, patchouli, lemongrass, eucalyptus, rosemary or sage. You can find these at a health food store, or sometimes in the soap section of your local craft store. For this recipe, you can also use a fragrance oil designed for Melt and Pour soap, because you will add the fragrance after the soap has processed. Unscented is also fine.

The Recipe:
12.5 ounces distilled water
4.7 ounces lye
14 ounces olive oil
10 ounces coconut oil
9 ounces crisco
.5-1.0 ounces fragrance

First, place the pitcher on your scale, and turn it on. It should read 0.0 oz. Carefully measure 12.5 ounces water into the pitcher. You can be as much as an ounce short on this, but do not go over 12.5 ounces. Set the pitcher to the side. Put on your rubber gloves and safety glasses. Place a disposable plastic cup, or other small plastic container that you don't mind disposing of on the scale. Press the "on" button again, so your scale reads 0.0 again. Carefully open the bottle of lye, and slowly measure 4.7 ounces of lye. You can use as little as 4.2 ounces and get nice soap, but do not go over 4.7. Get your spoon, and sprinkle a little lye into your water. Stir. Sprinkle, stir, sprinkle, stir, until the lye is completely mixed in. Your water will get very hot, and may produce steam and fumes. You need to do this in a well ventilated area, or even outside, and do not breathe the fumes. Do not spill, splash, or slosh the lye water, it is very caustic, and if you come in contact with the lye, rinse that area with cold water for at least 5 minutes, then wipe with a vinegar soaked cotton ball. Set your lye water aside in a super safe place, like the sink. You can now remove the gloves and glasses, for now.
Next, place a big plastic bowl on your scale, press "on" to zero it out, and measure 9 ounces of crisco, 10 ounces of coconut oil (scale reads 1 pound, 3 ounces after this addition), and 14 ounces olive oil (scale reads 2 pounds, 1 ounce after this addition). Place these oils into your stainless pan, and put it on the stove on low heat. Watch it carefully, and stir. Turn off the heat when it has mostly all melted, but not completely melted, but continue stirring until it's all liquid. Now, put back on your gloves and glasses. While stirring the oils, slowly add the lye water to the oils in the pan. Stir, stir, stir. This may take awhile, up to an hour, and if your arm gets tired, you can stop for a few minutes and come back to it. You will see your mixture become more cloudy, and then creamy. When your spoon leaves trails behind it, and your mixture is like pudding or gravy, this is called trace. You can speed this process by using a stick blender (not a hand mixer), and stirring like you would with the spoon, with occasional blasts with the blender. If you use a stick blender, you can't use it for food again, so I wouldn't advise using one on your first batch. Once your soap is well mixed and thick, or if your mixture becomes too thick to stir, you've done enough, and can cook the soap. Just put the lid on, place the pot in the oven at 175-200 degrees Fahrenheit, and set a timer for 30 minutes. Continue to wear your glasses when checking the soap until it is done. Check your soap every 30 minutes for the first hour or so, until you can stir it when it becomes completely gelled - no more solid white chunks. Then check and stir every 15 minutes until it looks and feels like mashed potatoes. It should hit this stage after 2-3 hours of cooking, but it can be done as soon as 1.5 hours. Stir it one last time, and let the soap on your spoon cool down. Touch it to make sure it's cool enough, and then touch it with your tongue. If it zaps you, like a 9V battery, or tastes SUPER bad, let it cook another 15 minutes. If it just tastes like soap, it's soap, and you're nearly done. Pull it out of the oven, and let it cool without the lid for 5 minutes. Pour in the essential oil - use an ounce of any citrus oil, but half as much of other oils, and as little as a quarter ounce of a fragrance oil. Too little is better than too much, so take it easy. Stir it super well, and then grease your mold with a little Pam, and then dollop a few spoons of soap into the mold. Bang it on the counter to release any air pockets, and spoon some more in, bang, spoon, bang, spoon, until all your soap is in the mold. Place that in your freezer for 2-3 hours, until it has completely cooled. It will not easily come out of the mold until it has cooled completely, you can even leave it in overnight. After you unmold it, you can slice it with a sharp knife into bars or squares for use, and set it on a rack to dry out for a week or so. You can slice off a bit to test now - or use it, but it will last longer if you wait until the water has completely evaporated out of it. And take care when cleaning up the mess, any uncooked soap residue or lye residue in your pitcher is still caustic.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The New Stuff is Mostly Live!

All I have left to list are the sugar scrubs! I should have those all photographed and up by lunchtime tomorrow. I listed the body gloss and body butters today, but I won't be able to ship any body butters after May 1st, they are very heat sensitive, as they are a completely water free butter. Very lush though - I like to test lotions and butters on freshly shaved legs, these were completely creamy and soothing, no burn, and a nickle sized scoop was enough for both of my ginormous legs.
On another note, my husband who is a SAHD to our little 3 year old son had been feeling a little down. He has anxiety disorder, and is not able to go out very often, but today was just awesome! He's decided to start making stained glass again, it was a hobby he used to do a lot, but lost touch with over the years. Today we went together and purchased all the supplies he needs to get started again, and he's already cut and foiled all the pieces for a new pane on our front door. I'm just happy to see him happy, and excited about something.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

All The New Soaps

I have pics and descriptions of my new soaps on my alternate site SweetsNThings I will have them available there in April, but tomorrow night at midnight on Etsy! Coupon code FACEBOOK is also available for a 15% discount!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Considering a Change of Venue

I'm sure everyone knows that there have been some issues at Etsy recently. While I don't want to go into them here, I understand that some buyers may be hesitant to shop there at this time. I have been considering perhaps moving my special seasonal sales to another venue, but I do not want to cut off my own nose to spite my face. I haven't personally had any problems with the changes, and I've been happy at Etsy so far, but if my customers aren't happy, then something must change. I have less than a week now to make that change - but if it's not necessary, then I don't need to. If you have a concern, please e-mail me at, or feel free to post in my comments here. Thank you for your advice, and support.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New E-Mail Address

If you'd like to be on my mailing list, I have a new E-Mail set up just for the bidness stuff - it's I'm the queen of all procrastinators, so I'm cutting it really close for the relaunch - soaps are done, but I'll be super busy all week, whipping body butter, mixing body gloss, and of course, lip balms! I will definitely have all the new things available for purchase for at least two weeks. After that, I will be only keeping the shampoos and the Detox soap in stock. I will also be available for custom orders - but if you want something special, or something that's no longer in stock, there will be a minimum wait time of 2 weeks for hot process soap, 5 weeks for cold process, just a couple of days on lip balms, body butters, sugar scrubs, or body gloss.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sneak Peek

lemon sunshine 3 by Surrender Dorothy
lemon sunshine 3 a photo by Surrender Dorothy on Flickr.

Started photographing my new soaps and "stuff" today, my least favorite part, but it is getting easier for me. Chemistry is easy, art is hard. I may be one of the only people who LOVES daylight savings time, I love coming home from work, and there's still sunshine for me to play in! This soap is Lemon Sunshine, it's everything I love about summer. The fragrance is not a straight lemon, it's a blend with a little floral, a little herbal, and a little amber for a nice base that lasts.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Clearance and Relaunch

I'm going to be clearing out all of my current stock for a relaunch later this month. The only items in my shop that will remain after the relaunch will be the shampoos and the Detox soap. Everything that remains after the sale will be donated to charity. So, coupon code CLEARANCE1 is active, it gives a 25% discount on your entire purchase. I will also be listing multiple quantities of the items I won't be carrying in the future, so you can stock up if you have a favorite.

The new line will feature scents especially blended for spring and summer, focusing on floral and tropical top notes, bright colors, fruity and cold beverage lip balms, and a couple of light summer-y fragrance oils, all limited edition. All of the new soaps will be cold process, except the cream soaps, those are a hot process soap, totally from scratch. And also, a few sugar scrubs and body butters.

The revamp is due to the massive growth of my little business - I'm just not able at this point to leave my day job, so I will only be doing retail sales on Etsy twice a year, but continuing with custom orders and wholesale accounts. Thank you to everyone who has helped our family with this success.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Handmade Whipped Cream Soap

What a cool new thing - sort of! I've been trial & erroring this for a while, and have achieved some awesome success! This is basically just a hot process soap, but prepared with potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. Using potassium hydroxide alone produces a liquid soap, using sodium hydroxide alone produces a solid soap. I used a basic soap recipe, but used pure stearic acid for 45% of my oils. I then separated the oils into two groups - my olive, shea and cocoa butter into one group (about 17% of my oils), and then the rest of them, as if I was making two different batches of soap. The little batch, I calculated with NaOH at 5% superfat, and the big batch with KOH at 0% superfat. Then, I combined the two recipes, the total was 36 ounces of oils. Instead of using the 14 ounces of water recommended by the soapcalc calculator, I used 40 ounces - the usual in most cream soap recipes is six times the weight of the lye(which would have been 42 oz), but I wanted it just a bit more solid, so it would be the consistency of the foaming body butter base that I have been using for whipped soaps. I prepared it just as I would have any crock pot hot process, adding 5 oz of glycerin to the oils, as cream soaps can be drying to the skin, and glycerin helps to counteract that. Then, I cooked it in the oven in a stainless pot at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours - the KOH needs a bit more heat and time to process. I stirred it up every half hour. At the end of that time, there was no zap to the tongue, but it was still a bit harsh on my hands, and it was quite solid - I've unmolded HP soaps that were just as solid! My plan was to "supercream" it with an ounce of glycerin and an ounce of melted stearic, but it was too solid, so I figured I might be able to adjust the pH later. I let it sit in the covered pot for three days, squishing it each day(some liquid separated out the first day), and it became more squishy each day, and mellowed so that at the end of three days, it was as mild as commercial soap - like ivory. Also, no more liquid separation the last day. To prepare what you see in the pic, I measured 10 ounces of the soap, and whipped it with a hand mixer, adding .5 ounces of jojoba oil, .5 ounces of apple cider vinegar (to further adjust the pH, and for a nice liquid), and .01 ounces of germaben plus preservative, a must for any product with this much water, and paraben free! Oh, and also, about 1/4 ounce of red apple fragrance. It is just awesome. I washed my face & hands with it, and it left everything soft and moisturized - very nice on the face, I'm super happy with that! The lather wasn't as bubbly as the detergent based Stephenson base, but was still quite bubbly and creamy. Now, my soap, let me show you it!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Whipped Soaps!

whipped soap
Originally uploaded by Surrender Dorothy
I'm in the process of adding my whipped soaps to the shop, I really like them! While I have a big batch of cream soap "rotting" to perfection, I'll be using the Stephenson foam bath butter base for these - it's free of parabens and SLS, but is a very bubbly detergent based soap, not so awesome on the face, but still very nice. I've added some shea butter to one batch, and grapeseed oil to another, and that made it really nice, even on the face part of me, and it really takes a fragrance well. Nommy.