Thursday, December 29, 2011

Customer Service

When I tried to get our furnace inspected last year, I had a heck of a time! I made three appointments with three different companies before they showed up. I understand that emergencies come up, especially in Colorado when a big storm comes in. I understand that things happen, but what really frustrated me was that the first two companies did NOT call me to let me know that the service person wouldn't make it. I called them after waiting an hour.

Well, this year, I didn't even bother with either of the first two companies!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Prices

I get a "Tip Of The Day" from Manta, a business that helps small businesses. I enjoy reading their tips because they are short and sweet :) Of course, they always include a link to more, but I like that I can get a quick idea.

Today's tip was simple, "Don't Compete on Price." I love this tip! I spend so much time trying to figure out how much I should charge for everything! It is so time consuming and complicated.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rough Time

I haven't blogged in a while and I keep saying that it will change. While I'm honestly trying, here is the biggest problem I'm having: blah!

It isn't that I don't have things to share. I really do! Some of the things I'd like to share are pretty darn awesome too! However, by the time I get home at night, get Hayden put to bed, and take care of everything else, I'm so exhausted and fussy and I can't think of anything positive to say. I've been having a rough time with parents of some of my students and problems with some of the other students. I do a good job of leaving work and my worries behind me when I'm with Hayden, but when he's in bed, everything just crashes down.

I spend the rest of my evening trying to think through the problems I've had, but I don't want to post them here. This isn't my place to complain. This is my place to share my creativity and ideas and other fun stuff in my life. I know that I don't have a lot of readers, but to those few of you I do have, I want to share the good things in my life. Believe me, there are plenty of good things, it is just hard to think of them at 8 o'clock after a long, hard day.

So, that is one of my goals for 2012! Find a way to let go of the bad things that happen at work and focus on the good things. Then, I will focus on the positives here and blog about some of the great things I'm doing! I really can't wait to share. I've started a few new things recently that I think you will like and I want to here what you have been doing too!

Do you have those times too? You know, those times when those little things throughout your day just get to you and make you forget how to focus on the good things.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pumpkin Bread

I love pumpkin! I have said that many times. This summer I found a bread machine cookbook and it had a recipe for pumpkin bread! Of course, I couldn't resist. I had to make some adjustments because my first loaf was too fluffy and it made a big mess, though it still tasted delicious.

Here is the recipe I adjusted:
Dry Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (you can do 1/2 cinnamon and 1/2 ginger, but I like nutmeg too)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp grated orange rind
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
After starting, I keep an eye on the kneading period. I'm still playing around trying to make sure it isn't too dry, but I've noticed that it starts more moist than most bread doughs. I have tried reducing the amount of water and either way, it still comes out tasting amazing!

What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lesson of the Day: Get a Babysitter!

I remember when I first found out I was pregnant, I thought about being a stay at home mom and running my business at the same time. Financially, that didn't work out. However, it would not have worked out anyway. I have found out that of his schedule or any rhythm we may have, I could not run a full-time business and watch him at the same time. I could probably run a part-time, craft show only business, but nothing more. I can't even get the kitchen cleaned before he is into something or wanting my attention.

Hayden has been sick, so I've stayed home with him. I have piles of papers to grade and a long list of stuff to make for the rest of my shows. But, it doesn't get done when I stay home. He does take a really good nap, once a day. So, I get about 2 to 2 1/2 hours of solid, uninterrupted work time. Which, would be good for a small project, but not full-time work. I barely made it through one class' journals before he woke up today. I had to wait until bedtime before I could start on the rest of my work.

Here is a (very) short list of things that I do myself to run my business:
  1. Make every product I offer.
  2. Order supplies and track inventory.
  3. Balance accounts, make deposits, and pay my sales tax.
  4. Package and ship orders.
  5. Clean.
  6. Invoices.
  7. Packaging.
  8. Marketing.
  9. Photography.
  10. Customer service.
  11. I'm done listing, but it goes on.
I can't get all that done and take care of my child at the same time. One of those must be neglected. Right now, my business is small enough that I can handle all of that (sort of ) in the limited amount of time that I have. However, when the time comes (hopefully) for me to quit my job and make my business my full-time job; I will not be able to do both. I will have to have someone else to watch him during the work day. That really is a simple fact. Of course, if he is in school by the time I'm ready, that is another story.

On a side note, I know how lucky I am to have an employer that offers low-cost daycare. I hope that someday, if I have employees, I can pay that forward.

What do you think? How do you balance your job and your family?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Hayden's First Birthday....Two Months Ago :)

Look at that cute little face! One of the ladies from daycare made him his bib, it was so sweet! This is his very first cupcake ever! He didn't quite know what to make of it. But, he did learn that he liked it.
 However, the eating of said cupcake was problematic. These were froggy cupcakes, but we removed the candy from the top to make it baby safe! I finally helped him out by tearing it into little pieces for him to eat. And he thoroughly enjoyed the sugar!
His mess was not near as bad as I've seen them and he was in sugar shock about 5 minutes later!

He had a wonderful party, surrounded by friends and family. He got some super cool toys and noise-makers! I am so thankful for my sweet Stoney and truly blessed to have such awesome people in my life.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Product Spotlight: Juicy Grapefruit Lotion

We have all heard about all the health benefits of grapefruits. They are high in vitamin c, antioxidants, and fiber; but are low in calories. They can help lower cholesterol and help you loose weight. Plus, they really are delicious. I love them in salads!

BUT, did you know that grapefruit essential oil is also good for your skin and your mood?

On your skin, it is reported to have a toning and stimulating effect. Grapefruit essential oil is commonly used in facial cleansers to help clear up acne and makes a good toner for oilier skin types. This fabulous oil is also thought to stimulate the lymphatic system and promoting cellulite reduction and healthier skin. It is also non-irritating and non-sensitizing as some citrus oils can be.

Grapefruit essential oil acts as a mood enhancer; reducing moodiness, headaches, and stress. It can be used in lotions, massage oils, or in vaporizers! It really is just all around wonderful.

Grapefruit essential oil is listed as photo-toxic; meaning strong sunlight should be avoided after using.
Juicy Grapefruit Lotion, available in 8 oz or 2 oz sizes!

You can get all the benefits of grapefruit essential oil and the high-quality moisture of Honu Naturals' lotion in our Juicy Grapefruit Lotion. Made with a non-greasy blend of almond, olive, and sunflower oil, our lotion is gentle, light, and highly effective. It is perfect for all-over, every day use!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who's A Busy Little Bee?

Why, that would be me! (I know, that was bad, but so true)

We are now into the 2nd quarter at school and I am still struggling to keep up. I didn't start at this school until December last year, so I'm still in that "I'm new and trying to get everything done" phase. Soon, I will be to a point where I have already made the lessons, the PPT presentations, the notes, and whatever else I will need. BUT, right now, I am doing something every night for class the next day.
School pic, but I like it anyway!

On the plus side, I have already started preparing my students for Science Fair, so hopefully we can avoid the mad rush around February. Probably not completely, but for the most part.

Here is how my schedule goes:
5:30-Get up, shower, and get ready
7:00-Leave for work
7:15-Drop Hayden off at day care
7:45-Students come in
3:45-Technically off work
4:15-Officially leave work and get Hayden
4:30-5:15 ish-Play like mad with Hayden (sometimes he sleeps, but not often)
5:15-Dinner, bath time, get ready for bed, story time, and a lullaby!
6:00 ish-Start working on school stuff; grading, planning, quiz making, presentation making, whatever!
9:30-Give Hayden some milk and put him back to sleep

Sometimes I take the night off from school stuff to work on my business. For example, tonight I worked on an order. Sometimes I take the night off and do personal stuff like scrapbooking or something similar.

I feel like there is so much that I am neglecting :( I enjoy teaching most of the time. I love running my business, although I wish I could spend more time growing said business.

The point of this was not to complain, but to let my very few readers out there understand exactly why things have been slow on here. I miss posting more and I can only hope that soon I will be at a point where I actually get to do personal stuff on my personal time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Soap

I had an idea for a Halloween soap, but I was running a little behind. Sure, I could make a hot process soap, but as my idea involved multiple colors and that we soapmakers generally assume you can't do pretty swirls in hot process. However, I found a soapmaker's blog and she specializes in multi-colored beautiful hot process soaps.

I decided to give it a try. I also decided to use pumpkin puree as part of my water to mix with the lye! I used one of my favorite soaping recipes and I mixed to light trace. Then, I separated it into two large stainless steels pots (picked up on the cheap at my local thrift store). I colored one orange and one black. *TIP* Use the stick blender to mix in the orange first, then use the same blender to mix the black in. It won't interfere with the color and you have less to clean up. I set my oven on 180, put the lids on, and put my soap in the oven.

Black and orange soap (it is about even, the picture is just off) 
It is a very big pot for so little soap, but it was $5!
Here is the orange soap ready to go in the oven, I didn't get the black soap, but you get the idea.

I used black oxide and Tangerine WOW from Bramble Berry to color my soap. I needed very little and they didn't fade or discolor.  I did have to add a bit more of the Tangerine WOW after cooking to get the orange I wanted, but that is a joy of hot process soap!

I let the soap cook and check on it every 25 minutes. After about an hour, both pots separated into and oily mess! After my initial panic, I simply mixed them both back together and continued to cook. They cooked about a 1 1/2 hours total before my tongue didn't get zapped when I tested it.

It is really important to let the soap cool for a few minutes after cooking before adding fragrances or essential oils, especially if they have low flash points. I scented the black portion with BB Rich, Dark Chocolate and the orange portion with BB Pumpkin Spice. I didn't scent the entire batch the same because the chocolate fo discolors.

Time for swirling...which I didn't get pictures of. It was my first time and I was too preoccupied with getting it right! I used a method similar to the tutorial I found. I folded my colors together and then swirled. I am happy with the outcome, but I know what I can do differently next time! Plus, this batch only had to sit a week before it was ready to go!

Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Soap-A Real Halloween Treat!
What is your favorite Halloween scent?
Interested in getting one of these wonderful bars for yourself? Check out my Etsy shop!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Wedding

I'm in the Dallas airport waiting to catch my flight to head home after a friend's wedding.  It was a beautiful wedding and it went well. The bride was stressed and worried about everything that could go wrong. She literally worried about everything.

She worried about the gifts for the attendants, that her dress wouldn't fit, there would be something wrong with the cakes, and every other little detail. She worried to the point that she was actually sick to her stomach. All of her worrying was for nothing. Her dress fit perfectly and could not have been more beautiful. The cakes were adorable. The only thing that could be considered a problem was that pictures were rushed because we were slow getting ready. Even those looked nice.

All her worrying made me thing about how often we worry ourselves sick. We worry so much we don't even get to enjoy those great moments in our lives. We planned and we prepared, but we didn't take a moment to stop and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Now would be a good time to do that. Stop, take a look around, and take a moment to enjoy your life and all the things that come out of your hard work.

Remember to do that the next you have a big event that you plan. Enjoy it!

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Monday, September 26, 2011

A MONTH!

I truly cannot believe that it has been a month since I have been on here. I know everyone is busy and we all keep crazy schedules, but sometimes the time just flies and you don't even realize it.

We started school in the middle of August. I have also been working on wedding soaps for a friends. I have been doing farmer's markets on certain Saturdays. My students participated in the "What If Festival" here in Colorado Springs; they performed fun Science experiments all day and it was GREAT fun! Hayden had his first birthday and is now a toddler. I have been grading and lesson planning in all of my nonexistent spare time.

Don't get me wrong. I love my life. I have a wonderful family, a beautiful baby boy, and 2 jobs I truly enjoy. BUT, I'm tired.

Who's with me? Do you think sometimes we just overfill our plates?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

BooBees Lip Balms

We all know women that have been diagnosed with breast cancer and I'm sure you may even know a few men who have. Like many other people, I have family members that are survivors. I wanted to do something that would show support for everyone affected by this disease. The idea I came up with was my BooBees line of products. 10% of all sales of every BooBees product goes to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. They have a program for small business to partner with them and I hope to do that soon.

I created the BooBees Lip Balms to provide a wonderful lip balm and support breast cancer research all at the same time.


These are formulated with mango butter (find out more about the benefits of mango butter here)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mango Butter!

Mango butter? Does that go on toast? No, but if they did have mango flavored butter, you can bet I'd be buying it by the bucket load. Mango butter is often used in personal care products. It is similar to shea and cocoa butters, but harder than shea and softer than cocoa. It also lacks the very strong smell of unrefined shea butter, it has a sweeter smell. Mango butter will melt on your skin and can be smoothed in for a rich body treat; however, you might want to blend it with shea butter or liquid oils because it can be a little hard on its own.
Photo by Micaela Vega

Mango butter is pressed from the kernel of Mangifera indica, which I'm sure we are all pretty familiar with. Mango butter is good for softening the skin and restoring its flexibility and elasticity. It has even been recommended to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Mango butter is thought to be useful for a number of conditions including: dry skin, healing rashes and other skin problems (such as eczema), healing the skin after a burn or small cuts, smoothing tough skin, fighting off fine lines, and generally promoting healthy skin.

Mango butter can be used to make terrific body butters, body balms, or lip balms. Actually, its uses go far beyond that (massage creams, soaps, shaving butter, or hair products), but balms and butters are the most common. 


Mmm...mango butter, maybe I should look into mango jelly!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Little Hearts

I enjoy reading many blogs and some of my favorite posts are about...SOAPMAKING! I know, you didn't see that coming at all. Several of the blogs that I follow how classes for specific soapmaking techniques. I hope that in the not-to-distant future I will be able to start attending some of these classes. I learn a lot from ready tutorials and have tried a lot of my own, but I think it would be great to actually get to go and mingle with other soapmakers, while actually making soap!

One of the classes I'd love to attend would be Bramble Berry's Soap Weekend Intensive. It is a whirlwind weekend of soapmaking. I get to read all of the posts and see all of the great pictures, but I want to actually go and participate. One of the pictures from the latest SWI in June really inspired me.

Can you guess which one? I know its tough, but I love the picture with the little gold and purple heart swirls (you can see the soap here). How perfect would that be for one of the new kids' scents I wanted to make!?! I couldn't find a tutorial on how to do (although I'm sure there is one), so I decided to wing it. After all, I can see the way it would be done.

So, here is what I did...I made some soap :)
  1. I separated out a very small portion of the unscented soap and colored it with rose clay and some pink mica and poured it in a squeeze bottle (like the ones for mustard and ketchup at picnics).
  2. I scented the rest of the soap and blended until a thicker trace. I wanted my colored soap to sit on top easily. The base is scented with a vanilla blend, so it should turn a nice dark brown to contrast the rose color.
  3. I poured the thick soap into the mold.
  4. I very carefully made lines of little soap dots with the colored soap down across the soap.
  5. I ran a skewer through the dots in in a swirl pattern. I considered just running straight down each line, but decided I wanted more swirled hearts. 
I'm happy with the overall look of the soap and I can't wait to cut it! I think it will be even prettier after it cures and the main soap darkens!

What do you think? Did I overdo the heart swirls or did I do pretty good for my first time?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Playing With Scents

One of the things I love about certain companies is that I will always receive a free gift when I order from them. Sometimes they are not really things I will use, but I like getting free stuff anyway! Some companies send tiny little fragrance samples that I can't use, but I can sniff away just the same. Pens are always great to get because those walk off at shows a lot! One of my favorite companies sends 1/2 oz sample scents with every order and I really like that because it would be enough to use. I've just never really been able to use them in much, until I found the perfect size mold! You can read the details here and I talk about the scents and what I did.

Today, I'm sharing photos of the finished, cured soaps!

First, I must apologize because I don't have pictures on the Spiced Mahogany or the Summer Fling. I made the soaps and a bottle of lotion out of those and then took them to my family reunion for the auction. I will say this, the two bars of soap and the 8 oz bottle of lotion sold for a ridiculous price because of bidding wars. The Spiced Mahogany was a beautiful dark brown color that I think would have covered up any colorant used, but it was so lovely, I'd just go with it. The Summer Fling did not discolor at all and smelled much better in soap than in the lotion (I mentioned, I'm not a fan). Neither accelerated trace.

I know the soaps all look a little dark, but it is more the lighting than any discoloration that is not mentioned. I use a high percentage of olive oil too (I can't help myself).

First we have...Sweetgrass!
I love this scent! It is very mellow and soft. I can't stop sniffing it. It is very herbal and down to earth, I'm thinking a St. Patrick's Day soap next year! It soaps perfectly, no acceleration and no discoloration.

My favorite...Passionfruit Rose! (Psst...this one is a fragrance and a flavor oil, I didn't know that or I might have made some lip balms too) Sorry there is only one bar, someone wanted the other.
This one will discolor slightly, but I think it is lovely. A very light brown color, what I would call "latte." How does it smell? Wonderful! This scent held up well in the soap and smells just like it did before it went in to the soap, which doesn't always happen with CP.

Next we have...Amber Musk, I can't find it on their site, so it may be discontinued, but this is where I purchased it from. No, this one was not a free sample, but it was worth the chance I took (I hate buying before sniffing).
You can see that it did discolor and it has a strange mottled look to it, but it smells wonderful. It may have mottled like that because of incomplete gel phase or I unmolded too soon, who knows. If I knew I could repurchase this oil, I would experiment more before counting this FO out because of the look of the soap. It smells great and soaped wonderfully (other than coloring).

Last (but not least)...I have no idea! It is a BB scent, but the name rubbed off the label :( It is a masculine scent, almost like a cologne, but that is all I have for you.
I can say that it smells so HOT! It discolored slightly, but again, more of a "latte" color. No acceleration. The soap smells just as good as the original FO and I could definitely see this being a great "guy" scent. Too bad I can't tell what it is!

Stay tuned because I have more "Test Drive" scents coming soon! They will all be available at the markets and craft shows I do, but not online. If you are interested and can't make it to any shows, let me know and we'll work something out!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monster OUT! Monster Repelling Spray

Hey Kids! Do you have monsters lurking under your bed or in your closet? Do your parents refuse to believe that they are there? Don't worry, we understand what you are going through. That is why we are pleased to bring you Monster OUT! Monster Repelling Spray! This spray has a light vanilla almond scent that monsters just HATE! Plus, it is so easy to use, you can do it yourself. Simply spritz under your bed or in your closet (why not both, just to be safe) and monsters will stay away all night. Reapply each night for best results. Don't worry, it won't stain your clothes or carpet!






Hey Parents! Does your child's room smell like old gym socks? Maybe some forgotten experiment left in their closet? Not to worry, this spray will take care of that problem too! This is the perfect way to kill two birds...uh, make that monsters, with one stone! Spritz the closet, under the bed, the laundry basket, the sheets, or anywhere else that smells "a little off" and enjoy the smell of their room for once. You can even let your kids use it and chase away the monsters themselves.


Monster OUT! is a skin safe linen refresher. So, don't worry it they get it on them, but do avoid contact with eyes and mouth (it doesn't taste good, but won't hurt them).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Traveling

We just returned from a week long vacation around Texas. I don't know if you know this, but to go anywhere in Texas, you have a long drive.

We left last Wednesday night to head to Lubbock. It is about a 9 hour drive and you have to add an hour because of the time change, so we got there around 3 am. Why did we leave so late? Simple...Hayden. He sleeps all night anyway, so he doesn't fuss about being in the car seat that long. We got to Lubbock and spent the day relaxing and visiting family. On Friday we went to see Harry Potter because Grammy T was getting to spend the day with her grandchildren. Around 2, we headed to Gatesville for the Walls Family Reunion; another 5 hour drive.

We had a great weekend visiting family! Hayden had a great time racing around the concrete floor and was positively filthy by the end of the day Saturday. Sunday was breakfast, clean up, good-byes, and another drive to Dallas. Although, this one was only 3 hrs! We didn't stay long in Dallas, which I would have enjoyed because I have a lot of friends there that I don't get to see very often. Early Tuesday morning we headed back to Lubbock on another 5 hour drive. We had planned to stay in Lubbock and rest, but really wanted to get home. So, we had dinner with my parents, I napped, and we hit the road around 10:30 TX time. We took turns driving and arrived at about 6 am in Colorado Springs. Just in time for Hayden to wake up.

I had a wonderful time, but 100+ heat just didn't agree with us (although we did have a/c the whole time). I miss my family terribly and would love to see them more often, but having an infant changes everything about traveling. Trips take a lot longer because we have to stop for him more often. We can't just grab food and go, we have to stop and feed him. Then, you have to consider how much more stuff you need. You can't go anywhere without his toys. We have to pack a food bag just for him with his formula, bottles, bowls, spoons, some baby food, and snacks. He is getting older and can eat more of a variety, but is still limited. Don't forget the big box of diapers (cloth diapers are not so great when traveling without access to a washing machine). We have to take his seat to feed him because he will not stay still otherwise. And of course, we have to take his pack n' play because he needs a place to sleep and nap safely.

I love my family and wish Hayden could see them more often, but this may be the last trip we take until Christmas!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not A Winner

Well, the Supermompreneur has been chosen by Volusion and it wasn't me :( You can read my entry here.
This little guy thinks I'm an AMAZING mompreneur!

When the winners were first announced, my reaction was "Of course I didn't win, I never win anything!" Seriously, could I be anymore negative and self-pitying? Probably, but that's not the point.

No, I didn't win. There were 171 applicants and only 4 winners. So that means that 167 other women didn't win either, so I'm not alone there. Plus, if we're being honest, there are A LOT of amazing women out there that run a business and make great mommies. I can't imagine trying to pick just of them from all the applicants.

So, I didn't win, but here is something I know for sure...If I hadn't entered, I definitely would not have won. So, thank you to everyone who took the time to go read my story and like me and I'll just keep trying.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Family Reunion!

I'm very excited, my family reunion is this next weekend in Gatesville, TX! I love my family reunions, we have so much fun talking and eating. It is always relaxing to get away and just know that there really isn't a whole heck of a lot to get done!

We always have an auction to help pay for next year's reunion. Everyone brings stuff that they make and we all throw out ridiculous bids to get it. Sometimes the fights over who gets what can be the best part of the weekend :)

This year will be different for several reasons. Motch and Uncle Hack are no longer with us. They will be missed by everyone and I don't know what we'll do without them there to irritate each other. One year Motch brought in the family crest she had and hovered over it protectively, just in case someone tried to make off with it. Uncle Hack amused himself (and a few others) by trying to run (walk quickly because he couldn't run) up and snatch it before she could stop him. He kept coming back empty handed saying that she was on to him. Nobody could give a glare like my Motchie and she let Uncle Hack have it :)

On the other hand, Hayden and the still developing Rhylee will be joining us. Hayden will be quite the handful and luckily we'll have family helping to wrangle him. He is now trying to climb everything (including the dog) and everything still goes in his mouth. Rhylee will be far easier to care for (at least for the next 1 weeks)!

We are leaving Wednesday night to head to Texas! I can't wait to see all the Walls'!

What is your favorite part of your family reunion?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Camp

I'm at camp right now in Las Vegas, NM. I've been coming to Camp Monakiwa since I was in the 7th grade and I still enjoy coming. I don't get to do as much this year because I have Hayden with me. I enjoy seeing some of the same people each year, but I do wish that we could get more new people. Camp is struggling, but I keep hoping that we can pull through. I want Hayden to get to enjoy coming someday too.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Favorite Mommy Moments (so far)

#10-The first time he giggled in his sleep while I was holding him. It was so cute and so sweet, I thought I would just die.

#9-The way his eyes used to roll back when he started eating, like it was just the best thing ever.

#8-The first time he got excited to see me when I went to pick him up from daycare.

#7-That I can tell when he is done eating because he burps and grins at me.

#6-When he is upset and reaches for me because he needs his mommy.

#5-Watching him stare at something and suddenly get it to work right (doors being the most recent).

#4-The first time he crawled up the stairs, he turned his head to look at me and smile as if to say "wow, look what I just did."

#3-How he has started following me. If I walk out of the room, he'll start heading my direction.

#2-The way he smiles for me every morning when I go in to get him.

#1-Every smile and every laugh that goes straight to my heart.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Milk & Honey Soap

I make a milk and honey soap that I just love. I leave it unscented, but I use rose clay to create pink swirls. Every time I do this it looks different. I've been playing with a lot of swirl techniques, but today I decided to do something simple. I did a modified "in the pot" swirl.

I separated out about 12 oz of soap and colored with the pink clay. Then I just poured some in 4 corners of my soap pot. I did NOT swirl it in the pot. Instead, I poured it in a swirl pattern! I don't know how it will look cut, but it looked cool when pouring.

I kept a small amount of pink soap and poured it in lines across the top of the poured soap. The I pulled a knife perpendicular across the rows of color. That's it!

As always, with milk or honey soaps, I soaped at a low temperature and I did NOT insulate my mold. The soap will gel without insulation, so don't cause yourself problems (like volcano soap) by insulating!
No insulation!
It is a little different than what I've done in the past, but that is what I love about swirling...it is still beautiful!


What are some of your favorite swirling techniques?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Trip

We just got back from a whirlwind trip to see the grandparents! We went down to Lubbock last Wednesday night and just got back this morning. I like traveling at night with Hayden because he sleeps the whole way and it doesn't mess up his schedule. If we drive long distances during the day he wakes up and gets really angry about being in the car seat. Plus, he sleeps more and he doesn't sleep well at night.

We spent Thursday in Lubbock and went to Oklahoma on Friday to see my niece Andi. We had a great time. We went to the zoo (in 100+ heat) and to the pool. Hayden has been to the zoo, but he got to see some new animals this time. It was his first time in a pool! He liked splashing and kicking. Poor guy was so tired that he kept leaning back and just floating there!

He was smothered in sunscreen and sporting his cool hat at the zoo!       
We did have a little accident in the hotel. He was crawling around and tried to use one of the chairs to stand up and the chair moved. He bonked his sweet little head :( He's okay, but he has quite the little bruise.
See his ouchie!

We got to Lubbock on Monday night, spent most of Tuesday recuperating and left about 5 pm last night. It was so nice to get home and get to sleep in our own beds. Hayden slept like a rock until 7 this morning! He even enjoyed having his bedtime routine back.

Don't get used to it kid, we leave for camp next Thursday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stars and Stripes Soap

This is the back of a special soap I made in honor of the 4th of July! I made separate red and white soaps and I cut out white stars and red stripes, but you can't see them because they are on the bottom. I couldn't figure out how to make sure that the white stars were centered in the soaps, so I put them on the bottom. I was going to put the red stripes on the top, but I thought the stars and stripes should go together. Now, that was difficult making sure that all the pieces stayed in place!

I mixed to a pretty thick trace and then VERY carefully poured around all the pieces. It took forever, but the result was worth it!
What scent is it? Well, what is almost as American as Old Glory? No, not baseball! Apple pie!

These will be ready to go next week! I'll be putting them on Etsy soon, so stay tuned.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scent Samplers

I love getting sample scents with my orders! It is just a fun little surprise inside each package and I get to sniff before I buy. My only problem has been deciding what to do with the scents once I have them. They are only .5 oz, so it would be less than a pound of soap and I don't have any molds that small. I could blend them, but I'd like to know what the scent will be like first. I have used a few to make special lotions for friends, but overall, I'm stuck.

That was before I found the perfect 12 bar mold at Bramble Berry! It is not just any 12 bar mold, it is 12 individual bar molds. Light bulb! I purchased my mold and made a batch of soap that I separated into 6 equal portions to make 2 bars of each scent.

So, you can see here, I set everything up and had a game plan before I did anything else. I chose my scents and labeled where each one would go. I even put a little piece of tape at the top of my mold so I could remember where the top was. You can also see that my plastic wrap is attached to my cookie sheet and ready to go.

I also lined up 6 plastic cups and put in popsicle sticks for quick blending of the scents. I didn't know how the scents would react and I didn't want to have to scrape any out of a cup because I was taking too long. So, I was prepared for everything I had to do.

Then, I mixed my lye water and let it sit and cool. As that was cooling, I mixed and melted all of my oils. I actually let the lye and the oils sit a little extra because I wanted to soap at a lower temperature, just in case!

My scents were (from left to right) BB Sweetgrass, Passionfruit Rose, Spiced Mahongany, Summer Fling, Amber Musk (not a BB scent), and some unknown that I absolutely love (love, love, love) but the name was rubbed off :( Here I am ready to mix my soap and then separate to scent.

I didn't have any true seizing of the soap, but the unknown definitely accelerated trace. I then covered these and insulated well ('cause I love gel).

When I pulled these out two days later (I hate waiting that long) they looked great! The Spiced Mahogany had already discolored and the Passionfruit Rose was a little discolored. The Amber Musk  (you can see in the photo it looks pretty orange) is a strange whitish-brown color. The scents have all held up nicely in the soap and the discoloration actually enhances the soap. I will admit that Summer Fling is not my favorite, but I seem to be in the minority. All the others I just adore. I think I like the Sweetgrass better in soap!


What do you do with you sample scents?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Redesigned Lavender Chamomile Soap

I've been unhappy with the look of my lavender chamomile soap, I'm just over the plain look with flowers blended in. I love the smell, but the flowers just look boring and old; so I decided to redesign it.

Instead of adding chamomile flowers to the soap, I made a tea with them and used that to mix my lye. The tea was pleasant smelling and had a lovely yellow color. When I added the sodium hydroxide it smelled like urine and looked like it too. Luckily, that disappeared and the soap turned a nice yellow shade, but the smell was lost (of course).

To give it a little something different, I infused some of my sunflower oil with alkanet root. The oil was a beautiful shade of burgundy. It is supposed to give cold-process soap a nice light purple color, but it can do all sorts of funny things.

I scented the soap with lavender essential oil and separated half out to be colored. When I added it to my soap, it turned a dark gray! I alternated pouring colored and uncolored soap right in the center of my mold and just let it run as it wanted. I gave it a quick circular swirl right in the center and covered it. Then I insulated and crossed my fingers that the color would change during gel.

This is what I pulled out of the mold! I love it! The main soap is a light yellow like chamomile tea and the rest is a light purplish-gray like lavender! I even like the pattern from pouring.


What do you think? Do you like my redesigned soap?

Monday, June 13, 2011

LIKE Me

Volusion is an e-commerce company that is offering a super makeover for a Super Mompreneur (like me)! I submitted my story and need as many people to LIKE my story as possible. PLEASE go to my story and LIKE it. If you don't think I need it check out my website and tell me it doesn't need a little freshening up.

Summer Time Rhythm

Running my business at a new job with a new baby was pretty tough. I can't lie, I seriously considered closing up shop (so to speak) and just focusing on Hayden and work (read more here). However, I decided not to and I'm glad I decided to stick with it.

Summer is here and as a teacher, I have two months off! I have already been more productive than I was last year. I don't know if it is because I have less time to work that makes me work harder, but I am getting LOTS done.

I have also fallen into a nice rhythm with Hayden. I wake up with him and feed him, I get ready while he plays in his crib. Then, we hang out until nap time and I kick it in to high gear. I work hard until he wakes up, then it is al Hayden until his afternoon nap. I get to working again. After he goes to bed, I keep working, although at a slower pace.

Sometimes I get stuff done while he's awake because he entertains himself. For example, I'm typing this on my phone while he crawls around the kitchen. I'm close at hand if he needs me, but he really just wants to explore. I also get relieved on Saturdays and get the day to do whatever I need without interruption, unless I take a break from working to enjoy my baby.

While he naps I have made soap (lots of soap), cleaned, organized my desk, done laundry, assembled a grill, done computer work , done inventories, and even started a project. I don't do anything of the sort when he's awake! I may play on my phone, but it is all about him and doing what he needs. No computer, no tv, and definitely no soap making!

It is a comfortable rhythm for us. How do you maximize your productivity and still meet your family's need?

T-Mobile. America's First Nationwide 4G Network.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Soap Packaging

If you ask any soaper, the hardest part is actually deciding how to package the soap you so lovingly created. Compared to that the oils to use, scent, and color is downright simple! There are numerous ways to package your soap. You can put it in a box with a little see-through window, you can wrap it in ribbon, raffia, or a cigar band, you can shrink wrap it...oh the list just goes on. We also have a lot of fun checking out other soapers' packaging (so much so, that we get really excited when other soapers blog about packaging)

When choosing your packaging, there are a lot of things to consider. Do you wish to reduce costs? Do you want to reduce packing waste? Do you want you soaps to be visible because you put a lot of work into making them pretty? Do you want to be able to package them quickly because you make A LOT of soap? Do you transport your soap to a lot of shows, so you need a way to protect it?
My original soap packaging.

Packaging is tough for all products, but soap is the one that I agonize over the most. Lotions are fairly simple. They must go in a bottle, so all I have to decide is the material, shape, and color. Then I had to choose a pump to a flip-top. That was about it. But man, the soaps just make me crazy!

Originally, I choose to go with a simple cigar band made with a special tree-free paper that was recyclable. The paper was made with plant parts that did not require the plant be cut down or irreparably harmed in any way. I then taped the band around my soap. It was simple, clean cut, and it saved a lot of waste (I mean, you don't hold on to the packaging, no matter how great we make it).

I ran into quite a few problems. First, cold-process soap tends to continue to shrink over time as the water continues to evaporate (good for the consumer because you get a harder, longer-lasting bar), but I had to keep tightening the bands. Second, I transport my soaps to shows and after a few shows, the labels and the soaps looked a little worse for the wear. Third, people like to pick up the soap and sniff it (you can't blame them), but that adds to the wear on the soap and we all know people's hands are not always clean. Overall, my soaps and labels just weren't holding up the way I wanted them to.

So, after much though, I decided to go with shrink wrap and a small label inside the wrapping. This allows my customers to see my soap and the label, while protecting both. The shrink wrap does have a small opening on one end for sniffing, but I'll keep sniffy samples out too. I also changed the type of paper I used because I couldn't find more of my other paper :( but now I can get 15 labels on each sheet instead of 5. Big difference! I am saving so much paper. I did consider boxes, but decided that the overall cost was not what I was looking for. Overall, I'm happy with the new look. What do you think?
New labels on the left and old cigar bands on the right.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Still Using 'Em

I have been using cloth diapers (read about the reasons I choose them here) for almost 9 months now and you know what...I still love them! I had A LOT of people tell me that I would get tired of all the washing or that once he started on solid foods, I would want to just throw the nastiness in the trash. I will admit there have been times when I did want to just trash the diaper (who knew something so small and cute could produce such a vile stench), but overall I can deal with it. As for the laundry, we worked out a system and it isn't a problem. We have had to start combating diaper pail stinkies, but I came up with a solution for that too. I purchased an odor neutralizing fragrance and made a pail deodorizer out of baking soda and borax. You do have to do an extra rinse cycle (or use less detergent), but it works well. Plus, with sunny days, hanging them out on the line works wonders.

One thing that excited me so much was when someone opened an actual store for cloth diapers here in The Springs. The diapers aren't really cheap to begin with and when you add shipping, it can get ridiculous. The Cloth Diaper Market is awesome and I love their Rocky Mountain Diapers because they have the cutest colors and patterns and I like the overall design. Plus, I'm supporting another small business owner, not a large corporation!

I love cloth diapering so much that I even created products designed for parents that have chosen to cloth diaper. I have a cloth diaper safe balm, a cornstarch based powder, and a wash for getting that tiny heinie clean! They will be added to the website soon, so "like" Honu Naturals on Facebook or sign up for our newsletter to get the latest information!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fragrance Oils

I know that I said in the past that I was against using fragrance oils because I had had bad reactions to products that contained fragrances.

Well, it seems I must change my mind. I purchased a few fragrances for a friend because she requested in for her birthday. I did not get any of the oil on me, but I did try the product to make sure it was what I wanted to send. Guess what? No reaction!

This got me thinking, maybe it wasn't the products, it was something else that caused it. So, I tried some of said big store product. Guess what? Unhappy skin :(

My hypothesis is that it is not the fragrance, but something else in the products that caused my reactions.

I decided to try out some of the samples that companies keep sending me with my orders. I have still not had a reaction.

Because of this, I have decided to add some scents that are made with fragrance oils. I have chosen pthalate free scents only and I will continue to offer products that contain essential oils only for those that do not want any artificial fragrances. I will also continue to offer products that are completely unscented.

I made this decision for several reasons. First, I wanted to offer a larger selection to my customers; I've received numerous compliments, but also many requests for other scents. Second, for some scents, this is more cost effective and allows me to keep my prices down (patchouli is a great example of a recent price spike). Third, if we are being honest, some of the fragrances are just delicious.

I hope you enjoy my coming selection. To get the first scoop on our new scents, sign up for our newsletter!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

After Bath Oil

Since I've moved to Colorado I have had extremely dry skin. Sometimes lotion just isn't enough and I need to use something more. My solution was to create an after bath oil that I could apply to moist skin and last all day.

Recipe:
  • 2 parts olive oil
  • 1 part grapeseed oil
  • 1 part jojoba oil
  • 10 drops peppermint eo
  • 10 drops rosemary eo
I mixed it all together in a bottle with a pump. I use peppermint and rosemary because I can always use a good pick-me-up in the morning, but any would work. I rub this on right after the shower before I dry off. It helps keep the moisture in and I don't feel greasy.

I chose olive oil because it is simply amazing for the skin and you can read about some of its benefits here. Grapeseed oil is lightweight and provides your skin with vitamin e. It is also thought to help repair delicate eye tissue and supporting blood vessel strength. I used jojoba oil because it is similar to human sebum and balancing for the skin. Jojoba is also very stable and doesn't go rancid like many other oils.

I have recently read about an oil cleansing method using oils. I think I might give it a try to see if I like it. I'll let you know what I think.

What kind of fragrance would you want in an after bath oil?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Peanut Butter Pancakes

I got these for breakfast. These were so good, I decided to share the recipe. I didn't use any syrup, just butter. I think they might be good with jelly too!

Peanut Butter Pancakes:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1Tbsp sugar
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 slices crumpled bacon (I didn't add this)

Combine dry ingredients. Beat peanut butter, butter, and eggs until creamy. Add dry ingredients and milk, blend until smooth. (Stir in bacon-again I didn't do this) Make the pancakes as usual! They don't get really fluffy like most pancakes, but they tasted delicious!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Corona del Mar Won

Corona won the Tour de  Turtles! She hasn't transmitted a signal since February 18, but she traveled a grand total of 2,382 km! See her trip here.

If you don't remember, I got an adopted sea turtle for Christmas and you can read about it here!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Half-Price Soap Sale!

I have some bars of soap that I need to clear out to make room for my summer inventory, so I am putting those bars on sale! You can get some of your favorite Honu soaps for half off (click here)! You have to hurry though, I have very limited quantities remaining.

Friday, May 13, 2011

SOAP Panel, Please

Well, it is time for another SOAP panel and I'm giving it another try.

What is my favorite Bramble Berry product? Well, I'm going to be totally cheesy and give you a movie quote; "I could no sooner pick a favorite star from the heavens." Anyone know who said it? Oh yeah, it was Drew Barrymore's character Danielle from Ever After. But, that is way off topic.

Favorite Fragrance Oil: Dark Rich Chocolate FO Why do I like it? It is delicious. I haven't made anything with just that fragrance (although I'm sure it would be wonderful), it blends well with several other fragrances. For example, for the Soap Swap, I made Dark Chocolate Pumpkin soap and blended it with the Pumpkin Spice FO. I also made a special soap for a friend and mixed it with a coffee scent and it was the perfect trip to the coffeehouse, without the calories or overpriced drinks. Works great in CP soap!

Favorite Essential Oil: Hungarian Lavender EO This is not like grandma's lavender! It is soft and floral, but not powdery and old lady-like. It sticks well in CP soap and is long-lasting in lotion.

Wishlist: Baltic Birch 36 Bar Wooden Mold Talk about making things simple! You can also get a different dividers to make smaller size soaps. No more cutting, just pour the soap and put the dividers in!

Bramble Berry is one of my favorite suppliers (and not just because I hope they pick me). One of the things that I look forward to with every order is my free samples of different fragrances. They are perfect for trying before buying! I have made small samples of soap using several of them and I would be so excited if I was picked to help them test possible fragrances!

Check out their Facebook page or the Soap Queen blog to see the results

Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Car Seat Cover

A friend just had a sweet little boy!

I made a carseat cover for her little Bryson. They are wonderful, they block the cold, wind, rain, and sun! Bonus, it attaches to the handle, so you don't have to worry about it blowing away.

I changed this one from the one I made. I made it reversible! She can choose which side she wants to display! I hope Mr. Bryson appreciates it.
What kind of things do you like to give as baby gifts?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Making Baby Food

I decided that I wanted to make my own baby food for Hayden. A lot of people thought I was nuts, but it is really easy and super quick! I steam everything in the microwave for about 5-10 minutes and I let it cool. Then, I dump it in the food processor and puree it until smooth. Some foods don't puree as well as others, but you just add a little water and you can get a pretty nice smooth texture for most foods. Then, they go into ice cube trays and into the freezer. I just thaw a few cubes out and it is ready for a meal. He loves it!
Homemade baby food takes up the majority of my freezer. on Twitpic
It fills my freezer, but it is so much cheaper than baby food. The jars at the store are anywhere from $.70 - $1 for 4-6 oz of food. But, he can eat 4 oz at each meal! I spent $5 on sweet potatoes this weekend and I have enough puree to last for a few weeks! Plus, steaming loses less of the nutrients. I can also buy local, organic, or whatever is freshest. OR, he loves his peaches, but they aren't in season yet, so I buy frozen. It tastes wonderful, it isn't like the canned baby food we all know and detest.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Avoid Loose Strings

I don't remember where I found the idea, but I read about a great idea to save the cut edges on fabric.

You are supposed to wash material before you sew it so it doesn't shrink after you've made the finished project. BUT, you always end up with lots of strings and you have to trim them all off. I follow several sewing and other project blogs and on one of them suggested sewing the ends up with a serger to prevent them from unraveling and tangling.

Well, I don't have a serger, but I have a handy-dandy sewing machine. So, I ran a quick stitch along each edge and then threw it in the wash.
Before washing.

I did have to trim a few loose strings, but not nearly as many as I usually have to. I'm so excited that I found a trick to save me that headache! I'll show you what I made soon!
After washing.

Do you have any handy-dandy little tricks that make something you enjoy a little easier?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mud Soap

I loved my test batch of Dead Sea Mud Soap so much that I made a bigger batch! It makes a wonderful face soap. I've been using it and my skin feels wonderful. I have even tested it on friends with very dry and acne prone skin and it cleans well without drying the skin out.

I used Dead Sea Mud (obviously) and mineral sea salt in the test batch. The only complaint was that it smelled like mud (wonder why), so this time I added a little rosemary, peppermint, and tea tree essential oils to cover the smell but still be good for skin.
Separated soap!

I was also going to be creative and make it a layered soap. So, I separated out about a third of the soap and left the mud out, but added a little extra salt. I should have considered that the mud portion would be more dense, but I didn't. So, the mud part tried to sink and the lighter layer tried to rise. It will obviously not be perfect layers, but I didn't mix the layers, so it should still be interesting.

Lighter layer on bottom.
You can see the lighter layer that didn't stay on bottom.



 What do you think? Pretty cool, huh?

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swappin' The Soap

I had planned on doing the last one, but it didn't happen. I was ready for this one though! I am participating in Bramble Berry's next soap swap! I am sending in my Chocolate Pumpkin soap (you can read about that adventure here and here) and I can't wait to get some soap back! I love trying soap from other soap makers.


I spend a little more time labeling these than I normally do, but it was only 12 bars and not a big batch. I think they look quite cute...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Name It

I accidentally spilled the beans to my friend that the soap was for her birthday and she guessed the scent. So, I'm officially announcing that the scent of my funnel soap is Bramble Berry's karma synergistic eo. It is mostly patchouli, but also has citrus, floral, and ambergris. It smells so good! It is not just straight patchouli. It is pretty too!

Now it needs a name. I can't just leave it as karma soap. I want something fun that describes the scent and the fun tie-dyed look. Any ideas. Submit your ideas here or on Facebook. If your suggestion is chosen, you will win some of this fantastic soap (if you don't like patchouli, you can ask for something different).

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Funnel Soap

I finally got the chance to make soap again! I decided to make a funnel soap. It is so easy and exactly like it sounds. I took lots of pictures, but they seem to be lost.

I used a base of olive-coconut-palm-shea with beer as my liquid. I seperated my soap into 5 plastic cups and colored it blue, yellow, red, green, and purple (although it looks blue). Then I poured each color through the funnel into my mold. I poured half of each soap through the funnel twice. Then I used a skewer to lightly swirl in a starburst pattern from the center out.
I know I used a lot of colors but it goes with the scent. The green is hard to see because it isn't very dark. I did not cover or insulate because I didn't want it to gel. I'll unmold in a few days and let you know how it turned out.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

My Life Is Being Taken Over

My life is slowly being taken over by a new man! I love him so much and I just can't help it. Every time I see him, I just can't control myself. When he smiles at me, my heart just melts. I've tried to escape the hold he has on me, but I just can't. I find myself thinking about him during the day and I know I have to focus on work. I rearrange my schedule just so I can see him and spend time with him. I don't get things done like I should because I'm too distracted. I don't know what I'm going to do!

I mean could you resist this face:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Coathanger Swirling

I saw this method at Heirloom Body Care and just had to try it out. This works well with a log mold and you can use it to work the swirls up and down. All you need is a wire coat hanger that you bend to fit the length of your log mold.

I did this with new silicone log mold I just purchased. I made a 2 lb batch of soap and decided to make my swirls pink and brown. The brown was because one of the fragrance oils I used contained vanilla, so I just went with the eventual brown.

I made my soap using my tried and true olive/coconut/palm recipe that I love! I decided to separate as soon as the soap was mixed and wouldn't separate, but before trace. I poured half into a second bowl and added rose kaolin clay and strawberry fragrance oil. I also added some strawberry seeds, just to be creative.

Strawberry soap
 Then I added dark chocolate fragrance oil to the second half with some cocoa powder (I really wanted it to be dark brown).
Dark Chocolate Soap

I layered my soap by putting the pink soap on the bottom and covering it with the brown soap. I couldn't take a picture, but to minimize mixing of the layers, I gently poured the brown over a spatula and let it run onto the pink layer. I think it worked well. Then, I used my bent hanger to swirl my layers up and down. I even did a few spiral patterns to see what would happen.
In the mold
See how my coathanger fits.

My soap is now insulated and finishing itself off. I can't wait to see what it looks like! Can you guess the scent?
All done!