Friday, January 28, 2011

Strawberry Swirls

Here is the finished product for my first set of swirl soap. You can read about how I did it here. This is before I unmolded and off to the side you can see another mold full of soap. The log mold didn't hold quite as much as I'd hoped, but luckily I had another mold lined and ready.
Here are my cut bars.
My favorite

Not too bad.
So, they weren't what I was really going for, but they look pretty good. I don't think this was the best technique to to in a log mold. So, I'll try it with a different mold next time.

On the plus side, the soap make my work room smell delicious.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Someone Gave Me a Turtle!

For Christmas I received a sea turtle adoption from the Sea Turtle Conservancy and I decided to track a turtle. I chose Corona Del Mar and I can go anytime and track her migration in the Pacific Ocean.

I'm really excited and I could not have received a more perfect or thoughtful gift. Sometimes the best gifts aren't really things at all!

Stay tuned as we follow her migration through the Pacific Ocean!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Basic Swirls

Since I am doing research and practicing soap swirling techniques, I decided to start with the most basic of swirl techniques. I swirled with one color in a simple log mold. My soap was 40% olive oil, 30% coconut oil, and 30% palm oil, with 5% superfat. I did NOT discount my water, which I like to do when I'm not trying to be artistic with my soap. It traces way too fast. I mixed my oils and lye between 90 and 100 degrees. I've been wanting to try the "room temperature" method, but that's for another day. I made sure that I didn't do anything that would accelerate trace.

I used rose kaolin clay to get a nice rosy-pink shade and I colored about 1/3 of my soap base. Since I used a log mold for this soap, I decided to pour my colored soap in the mold in layers. First, I poured in about 1/2 of my uncolored base. Then, I poured my pink soap in, in a zig-zag pattern (see below). Next, I poured then rest of my uncolored soap and finished with another round of zig-zagging with my pink soap. 
Colored soap zig-zag pattern

I used a wooden skewer to swirl the colors together. I ran the skewer through the soap in a diagonal zig-zag pattern, making sure that my skewer went all the way to the bottom.
Alternating layers of soap
Pouring a zig-zag

I think it looked pretty nice when I finished. Hopefully it will turn out nicely when I go to cut it. I did not create my swirls so that they are sitting on top of the soap, but poured the soap so that the color sank. I'm hoping that they color will be all the way to the bottom, but that it didn't all sink. We shall see. If I hadn't used a log mold, I think I would like to see the swirls more on top of the soap, but when I cut the log, I want the color to look nice from the sides. I know what I'll be trying next.

I'm excited to unmold and cut the new soap. I can't wait to see how it turned out!

I've read about swirling with multiple colors using the "In The Pot" method and I think that might be pretty interesting to try.

 Tutorials can be found at: Aussie Soap Supplies, Teach Soap, and

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fragrance Oils

When I first started, I decided that I would use strictly essential oils and other natural products. This decision was based on my horrible experience with most commercially produced products. I have had some of the worst reactions to cosmetic products. I mean truly awful! In junior high my legs would be covered in horrible rashes and itchy bumps. It took forever to determine the culprit was lotion. Then it took forever to find one that didn't cause a reaction. This is true of the more expensive brands as well.

That was the main reason I started making my own stuff. I could test each ingredient to see if I reacted to it and then create a product that I could use. I really like the scents I've created using essential oil and I know other soapmakers that use fragrances, so I'm happy to point a customer their direction if they want something I don't have.

I first used fragrance oils for a friend of mine. She wanted something special, so I made it for her for Christmas last year. I love the scent and the best part was IT DIDN'T BOTHER ME. My skin did not have any problems and I didn't get a headache from making it. I have slowly started using some of the samples that companies send me and I'm enjoying it. I've found some that I love and others that I really can't stand and some in between.

I would like to add some products with fragrance oils because I can offer scents that are too expensive as an essential oil, such as sandalwood, or aren't available in an essential oil, like strawberry. I will, of course, continue to offer products made with only pure essential oils and other natural ingredients. I think I might even start experimenting with other colors! It will be madness!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2011 Theme

My theme for the year is quite simple:

Follow Through!!!

I have lots of wonderful ideas and things I mean to get done. So, this year I will focus on my follow through.

My word for the year is:


We can do anything we put our minds to. So, let's all focus on achieving!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Foamer Bottles

As I mentioned before (here, here, and here), I've been trying out liquid soaps. A few weeks ago, I diluted the last of my paste from my first batch. I diluted too much and was playing with crothix to thicken it back up. It was just too thin, so I had a brilliant idea and decided I'd get some foamer bottles and see how the soap worked.

Well, I ordered the bottles and when I got them I was sooooo excited! I couldn't wait to try my liquid soap in a pump. One slight problem...I forgot to order the pumps. Oops! So, I had the bottles, but no pumps. Oh well, I let the soap sit in the container and decided I would add the pumps to my next order. I got them in the other day and decided to pour some soap into one of them. I did notice as I was pouring that the soap had thickened slightly. Turns out it was too thick to really foam well. So, I poured out some of the soap and added more water. It is still a little too thick, but I have my own liquid soap in a bottle! This is very exciting for me.

On the positive side, the soap is actually thick enough to use as a shower gel or shampoo now. So, the rest of the liquid soap shall be scented and put in sample bottles to be distributed. (I am still looking for feedback, if you have tried some of my other samples).

I also made a wonderful decision. I decided to actually read Making Natural Liquid Soap by Catherine Failor, which I checked out from the library, but now I think I need to add it to my own library. There were some great tips that could have saved me a little time. Oh well, I've and learn! I highly recommend adding this to your reading list BEFORE you try making liquid soap, even if you've read other tutorials online. Failor's book is very thorough and helpful.

Would you prefer to use liquid soap or bar soap in the shower?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Soap Swirls

My soapy swirls just never do come out the way I hope. I've read tutorials and I've tried different methods, but it is usually pretty hit or miss. I've gotten a beautiful swirl pattern once. Once! In all the times I have tried swirling, I've been truly happy with the results once.

I've had soap that got way to thick and I was left with really horrible looking layers. Once, half of my soap was too thin and all the colored soap sank to the bottom (that has probably happened more than once actually). I have color that didn't turn out right, so the soap had some pretty good brown specks in a swirl-like pattern. I've also over-swirled and my colors mixed a little too much. What does all of this tell me...that I need to practice.

Don't get me wrong, I love the look of pure, uncolored, no frills soap. I love the creamy, light yellow bars that you get when you make soap. However, I also love colors and I love to have fun with those colors. I have used cocoa powder, cinnamon, mica, and rose clay to get lovely colors, but the swirls don't look right. So, here is what I will be doing. I will research different swirl methods, one at a time, from several different sources and put together some notes. Then, I will take that information and practice until I get swirls that I really like.

There are so many techniques you can use and you can use one color or multiple colors and it just goes on. I'm really excited to start this and I hope that other people are too. It will be a journey through swirling, but all the information (plus my lessons and mistakes) will be in one place and not all over the web.

If you have tips or information you'd like to share too, I would love to hear from you!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Public Declaration!

According to The Soap Queen in her recent series of posts about achieving our goals, one of the reasons we fail to reach those goals is because we do not have a written plan with a support network in place. This is one of my biggest problems. Everyone is afraid of failure and I have overcome that in some areas of my life, but not in all. I set reasonable goals and they are well thought out SMART goals, but I don't set up a support network to hold me accountable. That way, if I fail to reach them, I disappoint myself, but nobody else has to know I failed. I have also noticed that when I tell people I'm going to do something, I do it. When I decided I was going to do triathlons and then a marathon, I told my family (so they could get me what I needed as Christmas and birthday gifts). I often had those moments when I didn't want to get up and do my workouts, but I knew I couldn't complete either with absolutely no training, so I got up. Hmmm...maybe I should declare my goals for 2011. I will of course set up a support network, but at the end of this year, we will revisit this post and see how I did. So, I will be accountable to you as well.

Business Goals:
  1. To increase my knowledge of how to run a business in order to successfully manage my business as it grows and to be able to focus where I would like my business to go. I will accomplish this be reading at least 3 small business books, this first of which will be read by the end of February. I will contact the SBDC about talking with some of their advisers and attending at least one meeting quarterly about management or networking. I will read a new book on developing a business plan and will have a rewritten (and more professional) business plan in place by the end of March.
  2. To find 2 new venues for selling my products, either through wholesale customers or new craft shows. I will accomplish this by getting new product photos taken by the end of January, recalculating all prices and creating a wholesale price list by the end of February, and creating a catalog by the end of March. I will be researching businesses that I think might be a good fit for my products and will start contacting owners in April and continue with at least two meetings a month until I have 2 customers.
  3. To raise enough money to donate $100 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation by the end of October. I will accomplish this by completing my BooBees line of milk and honey products, 20% from the sell of all BooBees products goes to this fund. I will start promoting special gift sets for Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) in my August newsletter.
  4. To increase my "presence" to my customers. I will accomplish this by attending quarterly networking meetings. Create a quarterly newsletter and send out a monthly email about current promotions or specials to all customers on my mailing list. Focus my blog by creating certain topics of interest to others; for example, I will start doing a swirl anthology to show different swirl techniques and share tips that I learn as I practice and perfect my swirling techniques. 
Personal Goals:
  1. Complete a 5K race by the end of March  and one triathlon by the end of August. I will accomplish this by starting the couch-to-5K program the week after next and writing out my workout schedule that I will keep in a visible place. I will register for a race before February 13th. After I complete the 5K, I will start training for a sprint distance triathlon by using the 10 week training course from tri-newbies. I will also implement a strength training program to avoid injuries this time (I injured my rotator cuff last time).
  2. I will lose 30 lbs before June (the baby weight + a little extra). I will accomplish this by creating a journal to track my eating habits (although I can't cut calories much right now because I'm breastfeeding, I can eat healthier), my exercise, and weekly weight. I will also have a set workout schedule (see #1). I will create weekly menus, so we eat out less, and have more balanced meals.
  3. Spend more time focusing on my family. I will accomplish by getting a sitter twice a month and having a date night, this might involve a movie, a hike, or just a good ol' uninterrupted nap. We will use Thursday nights as "family nights, " cause its never to early to start; we will simply spend time together and enjoy each other. I will also focus on spending time daily playing with Hayden without worrying about what needs to be done.
  4. Organize the house by creating a better system for mail (it should not go on the kitchen counter), creating a chore chart to track what has and hasn't been done, and creating a budget to better manage money flow. We actually did the budget yesterday, but we will have monthly sit-downs to recheck and balance. The chore chart will be completed by next weekend, it will show weekly chores and monthly chores, plus those things that need to be done less often, but are still important. We are working on how to organize the incoming mail. I'm thinking junk goes straight into the recycle bin and then we need a place for bills and then one for miscellaneous stuff.  
Ok, that's it. I will be checking back for monthly updates and then we will see how I do by the end of the year.

Do you have any goals you'd like to share?