Monday, November 22, 2010

Heading Home

We are heading to Lubbock tomorrow for Hayden's first Thanksgiving! I'm excited to get a mini vacation and the grandparents are excited to see their grand baby again. We will also be celebrating an early Christmas because Grandma didn't want to miss his first.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Soap

I wanted to participate in Brambleberry's Soap Swap. The idea was to make 12 bars of soap using any of their fragrance oils and then send them in. The team there would swap them around and send you other people's soap to try. I so want to try other people's so I planned out some soap using their dark chocolate and pumpkin pie oils that I purchased last year to make a gift for a friend. I also wanted to play with layers, not swirls, and a cocoa powder line.

So, I planned my soap. I would use olive, coconut, palm, and sunflower oils. I would scent the whole thing with the dark chocolate and pumpkin pie oils. Now, they both contain a little vanilla, so I knew my soap would slowly get darker. My plan was to mix a little titanium dioxide into some of the soap, so it wouldn't get as dark. Then, I had the brilliant idea to add some pumpkin puree, mainly because I had just a little left over from my last batch of pumpkin spice soap. I figured, I could mix that into the titanium dioxide.

I premixed my titanium dioxide and pumpkin, plus a little olive oil so it wasn't clumpy. I premeasured my fragrance oils. I lined my trusty mold and I was set. I blended my soap to light trace, scented it and then poured about half into the mold. I tapped my mold on the counter top to even it out. Oops, I forgot to measure out some cocoa powder! Oh well, I scoop some out and sprinkle it over the soap. I mix my titanium dioxide and pumpkin puree into the leftover soap and pour the soap into the mold. I poured it onto a spatula to keep it in a nice layer over the top. Then, I used said spatula to even out the told because the soap had gotten a little thick.

This is a few of the bars. Overall, I am happy with it. They smell great and you can see that they are already getting darker. A few lessons for next time though:

  1. The cocoa powder needs to be sifted to prevent clumps of cocoa in between the layers.
  2. Mix the pumpkin puree into the entire batch of soap or use less. My top layer looks a little spongy, but hopefully will harden nicely.
  3. Start the whole thing at a much earlier trace. You can see that my top layer was a little thick and heavy, so my layers are wavy, not flat. 
Still, happy with effect. I wish I had gotten this done earlier because they won't be cured before Dec. 3rd to send in for the Soap Swap, but I had such a good plan, I just had to go ahead with it.

What do you think? Any other tips for making layers or a little line in there?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Did I Tell You?

I told you after my first successful attempt at diluting my soap paste to make liquid soap that it would take me FOREVER to get it right again. Well, I was right. Which, by the way, is not always a good thing. I have been playing with diluting my paste and then thickening it and it is always too thick or too thin. (You can read about my next silly adventure here.)

I think my major problem is...I'm impatient. I have the same problem with cold process soap making. I like to keep peeking while it is in the mold. It took so long to dissolve the paste with the amount of water I was using, I added more. The result: really thin soap that is impossible to thicken properly.

Using crothix as a thickener (because salt water was NOT doing it) I have made it a little too thick and so thick it actually was the consistency of GAK (if you remember that stuff). Looking back, I really should have colored and scented that in jars and marketed it to kids, but I didn't. However, it is always a possibility. I also decided that I would use the really thin soap in those foamer bottles to see if I would like it and then I could sell hand soap. So, I ordered some bottles. What did I forget to order? That's right; the pumps. Oops.

So, lesson learned. Patience is still important and I will use less water to dilute my paste and then it won't need to be thickened (much). Plus, soap bottles work much more efficiently if they have some sort of cap. I'm still going to play around with foaming hand soap though.

My word for the day is PATIENCE. What is yours?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Process Soap

I prefer making the cold process soap making way of doing things, but sometimes you need soap ready faster than that. In these cases, hot process is a perfectly acceptable way of making soap. The soap will have a different texture, but will still be wonderful, gentle, usable soap.

In addition to your normal soap making equipment, you will need a crockpot. I got mine used for $16 and it is perfect. Don't use a soap making crockpot for food! Don't forget that when making soap, safety always comes first!

The great thing about hot process soap making is that you don't have to worry about the temperature of your oils or your lye! You aren't pouring it into a mold, so if it reaches trace really soon, that's ok! First, measure out your oils into your crockpot and melt them over low heat (at least on mine, high is too high).
The bottle actually contains vinegar, which is always good to have on hand.

Then, carefully mix your sodium hydroxide and water. Always pour the NaOH into your water, never the other way around. I use almost frozen water so it doesn't get as hot and I mix it in my sink. If lye is harmful to your skin, just think what it will do to counters, floors, or anything else.
Notice I'm wearing gloves! I'm also wearing goggles.
Very carefully, pour your lye into your melted oils and mix with a stick blender (spoons work too, but that is soooo slow). Be sure you don't splash! Raw soap will burn your skin and counters. You should still be wearing your safety equipment. I mix my soap to a very heavy trace, but you only need to mix it well enough to make sure it won't separate. Mine looks lumpy and funny colored because I already added my ground chamomile flowers. Once your soap is at trace, put a lid on it and let it sit.
It will take a few hours to cook completely, but don't just leave it. Keep an eye (doesn't have to be a real close one) on it because it will start to expand and creep up in the pot and you don't want it to over flow.
Sorry about the picture, but look how much higher the soap got!

If it starts to get too close to the top, just use a spoon or spatula to stir it down. The first time you do this, it is very important to watch to make sure your soap isn't too big for your pot. I've used this pot a lot, so I'm know it will get really high, but won't overflow on low heat. Your soap is done when all of the lye has been reacted. You can test this using phenolphthalein or the tongue-zap test. Whatever you do, make sure your soap is done. I cooked mine for almost 4 hours, which was more than needed, but someone got hungry right about the time the soap was done.

When you are sure your soap is done, you will need to scent it. Check the flash point on your scent and the temp of your soap, it should be less than the flash point. Pour or scoop into a mold. It won't spread nicely like cold process, you will have to spread it. I put on my gloves and cover it with wax paper and press it flat. Be very careful not to burn yourself. It is molten soap, it'll hurt.

Let the soap cool. Once it is cool, you can unmold and cut your soap. It will be ready for use right away, but I like to let it sit a few days to harden. Again, the texture is different, but the soap will be just as good.

I know the top looks funny, but I press it well enough that the bottom looks pretty normal, so I just put the labels on that side :)

This is my Lavender Soap, which is one of my favorites! What is your favorite scent of soap?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Today I will take a moment to say THANK YOU to all those who have and are serving our country.

In honor of all my friends and family still with us and in memory of all my friends and family that we've lost.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coming Soon

Our line of Lil Honu products is complete! We are now offering a complete skin care set for your little one.
  • Heiny Helpers Balm-Infused with chamomile and calendula to help soothe sore heinys and then poured into a tube to keep mommy's hands clean.
  • Heiny Helpers Powder-Corn starch based powder to keep baby's heiny dry between diaper changes.
  • Lavender & Chamomile Lotion-Light, gentle lotion lightly scented with lavender and chamomile essential oils.
  • Mom's Gettin' Bigger Belly Butter-Terrific blend of cocoa and shea butters, this butter is packed with vitamins to help nourish your growing belly. We left it unscented for those mom's with sensitive noses.
We will also have some new scrubs, butters, and lotions soon. So, keep an eye on our website to get our latest products.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm So Excited!

I got my very first online order from someone I didn't already know! I have wonderful, supportive friends and family and they have ordered off my website because they LOVE my stuff. I get so excited every time I get an email to that account; although, it is usually an email from Paypal offering me something. Not this time! A friend of mine bought sent some products to her friend in Iowa. Her friend liked it, so she bought some!

Oh, I'm just so excited! The order was packed and sent out today! May this be the first of many to come.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Too Much "All Natural"

This morning I pulled out my carton of eggs to make a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs and biscuits and I noticed the carton was labeled "All Natural." I just sat there for a second thinking "Really, they really feel the need to label EGGS as 'all natural?'" I understand when they are labeled "organic" or "free-range," but do we really need it pointed out to us that eggs are natural.

I mean, they are still in the shells! It wasn't a carton of the processed egg whites. How could they be anything but all natural? Maybe they don't come from real chickens? As far as I know, the technology does not yet exist to make eggs in a lab. Or in a replicator. I would think that we could assume that the eggs came from real chickens, kinda like cow's milk comes from real cows.

At some point I think companies are insulting our intelligence. They want to increase sales and we all know that there is a huge movement by consumers to buy more natural products with fewer "chemicals" (that is a completely different post, so don't even get me started on that). BUT, labeling a carton of eggs as "all natural" is just....I don't know what word would work here, but it bothers me. There are times I chose to go with products that are "natural," but that's when I buy lotion or shampoo!


Have you seen anything labeled "All Natural" that just made you think "Well, duh!"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cloth Diapers

When I found out I was pregnant we talked about all the things we wanted to do for our little one. One of the things discussed was our options for diapers. Did we want to do disposables or explore cloth diapers? We got started researching cloth diapering and decided that we wanted to give it a try. Of course, there were plenty of people that considered up crazy.

We had many reasons that we wanted to try cloth diapers. The most obvious reason was to avoid all that waste and I understand that we use more water and energy doing more laundry, but it is still something I wanted to do. The second reason was the cost. I know there are all sorts of articles published about how much we spend on babies and diapers are a huge part of that cost. A jumbo pack costs $20 and lasts a little less than two weeks! We spent $200 on a pail liner, sprayer (gotta clean the poop off), cloth wipes, and one size diapers. We have enough diapers to get us through 3 days, which is plenty because you are supposed to wash them every 3 days.

The diapers we chose are one size diapers, so they are designed to expand (using snaps in the front) as he grows. We have a few pocket diapers for night time use (you want easy at 2 am), but the rest are just covers and we change out the insert when it gets dirty. You just spray the poop into the toilet and toss the insert or diaper into the pail. A little baking soda can be added to prevent a stinky nursery, but we haven't had a problem with it. I also like the cloth wipes better. I just spritz his little heiny with some water and wash off. It doesn't irritate him like the disposable wipes do. Traveling isn't really a problem either. We have a small dry bag and dirty diapers just get put in it until we get home to clean them.

It is a little more work, but overall I like the cloth diapers better. We've had fewer leaks than when we have used disposables (we do keep some on hand just in case), we don't have problems with diaper rash, and I enjoy not feeling guilty about all that waste. The cloth diapers are a little bulkier, mostly because I didn't get the sized diapers, but we haven't had any problems with his cloths not fitting or interfering with his movements.

Has anyone else tried cloth diapers? What do you think?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lavender Essential Oil

Oh, how I love lavender eo. I love all the varieties (though some more than others), it is so calming that I just can't get enough. When I found out I was losing my job last May, I used it as a stress reliever all the time. I was swimming in lavender lotion, lavender soap, and I even made myself a lavender oil for my temples. I keep a little dropper bottle full in the bathroom cabinet, just in case.

Just in case what, you may ask? Just in case I need it for any of it thousands (slight exaggeration) of uses. Lavender, unlike most essential oils, can be used undiluted on adult skin. I add a few drops to all of my facial moisturizers and toners. I also use a drop directly on my skin if my eczema flares up. It really helps prevent the itching and my skin heals faster. I've used it on bug bites and bee stings. I put it in my deodorant. If I have a small cut, I put a drop on to promote healing and prevent infections. Lavender can also be used on babies (though highly diluted) and I made my newborn a lotion with a little lavender in it. He loves getting his lotion time after his bath and he is so calm after, he is completely ready to fall asleep.

Of course, this is all from my personal experience. However, if you look up uses for lavender essential oil or its properties you will find that it is considered nalgesic, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, cicatrizant, cordial, cytophylactic, diuretic, emmenagogue, deodorant, hypotensive, insecticide, nervine, parasticide, rubefacient, sedative, stimulant, sudorific, tonic, vermifuge, and as a vulnerary. Which is quite a long list!

It also blends well with many other essential oils and adds a wonderful herbal scent to any blend. My favorite blend is vanilla and lavender!

What is your favorite lavender blend? What do you use lavender for in your house?