Saturday, February 16, 2013

I've Been Missing...

I know I last week was a slow week. To be honest, next week and the week after will probably be slow as well. Science Fair is March 1st! I am crazy, crazy right now trying to get everything graded, planned, put together, and whatever else I am forgetting. Plus, I still have to keep up with my other mothering, business ownering, and teachering duties. I figured if I was going to fall behind on anything, this would be the best one to let slip for a bit. I promise it won't be permanent or long.

Thank you for you understanding.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cleaning Out the Closet-Week 4

Last weekend was a little too hectic and involved a very needy toddler. So, I didn't get any major cleaning project done. I did get the house cleaned, he loves helping with dishes and pushing the button on the Swiffer, so as long as it could involved him, it was great. Unfortunately, really deep cleaning something should not involved a toddler.

One of the projects I've needed to do was to rearrange the closets in my room. There is a lot up in the air right now as far as the living situation. My lease is up in June and I don't know if I will stay, move, or maybe buy. I do know that as the house is currently arranged, baby girl will not have her own room in April. That's really okay because I was planning on putting her bassinet next to the bed for a couple of months anyway! However, there isn't enough room for a changing table.

So, what I wanted to do was put a changing table and all the things I'd need for her (except clothes) in one of the closets and since I now have two, it works out. However, the best closet for this plan was my closet because there is an outlet for a small lamp. I cleared everything that was still in the spare closet out!
Before organizing, pull everything out!
Then, I started going through stuff in the other closet. I had quite a few clothes on the side shelves, so I pulled those out and I pulled everything I can't currently wear off the hangers. I went through all the clothes, pants and skirts first, anything that did fit (or almost fit) before I got pregnant was neatly folded and placed on the bottom shelf in the closet. Anything else went into a pile for garage sale. Then, I did the same with shirts and put them on the middle shelf. Last, I went through my long-sleeve shirts and sweaters and put those on the top shelf. It will be a while before I don't need them, so I left them in the closet.

Next, I moved the plastic storage/drawer thingy over, but I didn't go through that because I did that during my declutter mission. Since I haven't bought new clothes (pregnancy, what's the point) since and I've been good about throwing out holey socks, there wasn't a reason too. Last, I pulled out all of the shoes from my closet and separated into three piles: "will wear once swelling in feet goes down/can currently wear" {place neatly in the new closet}, "don't fit since the first pregnancy, but are in great shape" {place in garage sale pile}, and "don't make Goodwill throw them out for you" {place in trash}.

I even went through the things on the upper shelves and reorganized all of that to be neat. Now, I have one very organized closet with just the things I need and one {almost} empty closet that has only baby things!
Yes, I have very few clothes that currently fit, though some are in the laundry!
I am also checking off clearing out the bedroom dressers because I cleaned out Hayden's and my own over Christmas break. So, when I opened them to look, there really wasn't anything to do!

I'm finding breaking this up into small projects is making me feel accomplished, yet not overwhelmed. Do you have tips that help you get a lot done in a small amount of time?

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Soap Packaging Revisited

Is there a soap maker out there that hasn't gone back and forth about soap packaging? If so, please explain how you made this decision and was it easy?

For me, this has been the hardest part of soapmaking!

Here is my original packaging:
The cigar bands were easy, cheap, and created minimal packaging. Plus, the consumer could smell AND see the soaps before buying. However, they didn't protect the soaps well and I had problems with them slipping off or getting torn with moving them so much.

Next I tried shrink wrap bags:
The label was printed on cardstock, cut, then placed on the soap before it was shrink wrapped. The wrap is still cheap. The soaps were very protected and you could see what they looked like. But, you couldn't smell the soap and the shrink wrap was hard to get off. Plus, the bags were too large. So, you could get the end and have one end open (I'll tell you this didn't always work out so well if you weren't careful cutting) or tape the end down before shrinking (this didn't look great).

I've recently found soap bands for shrink wrap. They are open on both ends and already sized for most soaps, so you just center your soap and shrink wrap. They also have a perforated tab for easy opening. It also sounds like it is easy to make them smaller for smaller bars. So, that would solve the size problem, smelling problem, and the hard-to-get-open problem.

I decided to try using paper wrapping and really pretty paper bands:

I printed a label and stuck it to the paper. I won't lie, I LOVE the way these look. I used different handmade papers for different scents and simple colored paper underneath. The soaps are protected and you can smell them through the paper. It is also nice because I can make it fit any bar. But, I have to leave on unwrapped for people to see. Plus, the cutting and wrapping is a little labor intensive. With the number of bands I can get out of a sheet of handmade paper, it isn't too much more than shrink wrap, but then you add your time to that! Plus, buying different sheets of handmade paper for the soaps and making sure I don't run out is harder to keep up with.

 Last option, soap boxes (never tried):

Lg Soap Box: White Daisy
Pic from Elements Bath & Body

I've thought about boxes, but they are the more expensive option. On the plus side, your soap is well protected. It is easy to remove the soap to see and smell, but easy to put back as well. They are really easy to pop open, stuff your soap in and slap a label on. They are most commonly sold as white or kraft color and come with a variety of cut-outs. I even found a site that does colored boxes (expensive unless ordering A LOT!). My biggest concern with this option has been the cost and the fact that it would only be one size, so I'd have to figure out something else for smaller bars. However, the time I'd save compared to wrapping in paper may be worth it! I could also offer the option for no box online to save people money or maybe do a box recycling program (I haven't thought that one through much).

So, what do you think? I'm looking for an attractive, easy, cost-effective, consumer-friendly method for packaging my soaps. My options are shrink wrap bands (cheap, quick, see-through, multi-sizes), paper (BEAUTIFUL, labor-intensive, not too expensive, not see through, mulit-sizes), or boxes (more costly, quick, easy open, one-size).

Which option would you like to see or think would be the best for me?

Scented Laundry Booster

I quit using fabric softener or scented detergent a while back. The fabric softener was originally an economic decision. A cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle left my clothes just as soft and static free and cost a heck of a lot less. However, I quit using scented detergent because my skin was just giving me too many problems. It was one of the first steps I took towards my soapmaking adventure! My skin is great, but I just never went back.

I won't lie though, I have missed having clothes that come out of the dryer smelling delicious. I tried a few tricks with putting drops of essential oils on a wash cloth in the dryer, but I wasn't impressed.

I have also been adding a laundry booster to my washes for a while. I made a jar of baking soda and borax and I've been adding that to the laundry. I've seen the DIY laundry soaps and even made my own for a while. However, I've found that toddler clothes and baby diapers needed a little more cleaning power! I mean, you should see the messes that kid can make. If you have your own, you know what I mean.

The last time I was ordering supplies {I promise this all comes together with a purpose} I found a section of odor neutralizing fragrance oils. That piqued my interest, so I headed over to check it out. I found a few that sounded okay, but the orange guava just sounded so wonderful that I had to get it. It was totally worth it too! I love the way it smells. I made it into some tarts for myself :)

{This is where is all comes together} As I was doing a load of laundry, I had an epiphany! I could add that wonderful fragrance to my laundry I put the load I was starting on hold and ran up stairs to do just that. It definitely made my laundry room smell good, but it didn't really make the clothes smell. Or so I thought! After putting away the clean laundry, I opened my closet and caught the light scent of orange and guava. It doesn't leave my clothes smelling strongly of the fragrance like a fabric softener does, but there is a lingering hint that freshens my closet and the linen closet.

This has opened up so many possibilities! I could do this with any fragrance or essential oil that I want to. It so cheap to make the laundry booster itself, that I could make multiple jars (I keep mine in mason jars) and scent them all differently!

To make it, all I did was fill a jar half full of baking soda, added the fragrance (I did about 5% fo), then added the borax, put the lid on and shook the heck out of it! It probably would have made more sense to put it in a bowl and whisk it together to get rid of clumps, but the shaking was effective, if inefficient!

Do you have any fun ways to add scents to your home?