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 is still beautiful!

What are some of your favorite swirling techniques?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


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


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?

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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!