Thursday, March 28, 2013

New Baby Soap

I have been playing around with some ideas for a really gentle soap that is specially designed for baby skin. I truly love the Naked Shea soap, but I wanted something even gentler. I wanted something that was soothing, creamy, and skin loving.

Here is what I decided I needed:
  • Aloe-who doesn't remember their mom keeping an aloe plant in the house and any time there was anything wrong, you got rubbed down with it?
  • Goat milk-gives the soap a rich, creamy texture and adds to the skin-softening properties.
  • Oatmeal-good for all sorts of skin problems, so it is going to be good for babies too.
  • Super skin conditioning oils: I went with avocado, shea butter, and cocoa butter. How luxurious are those together? Even without all the other goodies, that would make a great bar of soap.
I actually decided to use really fresh aloe, so I bought a small plant to be used for this purpose. I pulled it, washed it really well, the pulled the leaves off and dumped them in a blender. I then ran all the juice and pulp through a strainer to get the "skin" out. I didn't add the aloe to the lye mixture, but added it to the oils after adding the lye. I don't know if that makes a difference, but it is worth a shot.

I creamed the colloidal (finely ground) oatmeal into the goat milk before freezing, which I'm not sure was a good idea. While mixing goat milk and lye makes a stinky orange mess anyway, I think adding the oatmeal early also resulting in the orange speckles in the soap. It doesn't smell bad, so I don't think it is going to effect the quality of the final soap.

I melted the shea and cocoa butters over low heat and added them at light trace. I've noticed that sometimes when I used butters, the final bars can turn out grainy, so I treated these with the same care I would use if they were going into a balm.

I used a round mold because it seems that baby soap should be round. I don't know why I decided this, but I did. I'm glad I did, I think it looks perfect! I can't wait to be able to use one of these and give you some feedback on them. I probably wouldn't be so anxious if my target for this soap wasn't to very precious and delicate!

I don't have much of a name for it right now. The best I have is Baby Soap (oh yes, I'm that original) or Milk and Aloe Baby Soap (even better!). If you have any ideas, feel free to share.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Soap Packaging Decision

If you recall, not too long ago I started rethinking my soap packaging...again. Really, I think this is a question that is discussed on EVERY soapmaking forum. In detail. You can read about my past packaging here.

After thinking about it and weighing the pros and cons, I finally made a decision. The feedback I received said I should keep the paper because it was simple, yet very pretty. I really did consider that. However, on my list of cons was the time it took to cut the paper and wrap each bar of soap. The pros was that it was fairly inexpensive; that is, until you add in the cost of the time it was taking to package the soap. Then, it was about even with the soap boxes.

Considering that I am now a single mom of soon-to-be 2 children, I really do have to consider time a lot more. I don't want to give up my soap business, but my time in more limited than before. (To be honest, I've been considering a lot of things that I could do to save time, but more on that later)

So, the soap boxes won out. All I have to do is pop the box open, tuck in one end, pop the soap in, tuck in the other end, and add a label. We are talking maybe 30 seconds per bar of soap. That is a HUGE difference! Plus, I can't deny that I do like the look of the soap boxes.

I am still planning on having other types of packaging. For example, I'm starting to make round soaps, but they wouldn't fit in a box. But, I will be using boxes as the main way to package soap.

What do you think? Do you like the boxes?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Guess I'll Clean the Laundry Room-Week 5 ish

Ok, so I've been behind on everything because of Science Fair, which is over again. And again, it went amazingly well despite all of my stress.

But, with my little one on her way, I've started really working to get stuff cleaned up. I cleaned out the hall closet and my makeup bag again. I'm not that worried about the craft supplies because I just did it this past summer and I don't buy much anymore. The soap room will get done, but it isn't a top priority because I just did that in July too. The garage is on the list, but my plan is to have a garage sale and just pull stuff out starting that morning, then go through stuff after that. {I once learned that even if it isn't a garage sale, if you pull stuff out of your garage to clean, people stop to shop, so why not!} The upstairs is desperate, but I'm waiting on my ex to get stuff packed up and moved out, so I'm being patient.

However, there is one room I really had no plan for. In fact, I have been avoiding it like the plague! The laundry room...dun, dun, duuuuun. This is our catch all room. If it needs to be put away or moved, it goes in there. I hate it. But, I also didn't want to clean it.

That was until our plumbing backed up last Sunday. Oh yeah, coming out of the downstairs shower drain and the hot water heater drain. Luckily, the shower is sunk into the ground, so that was contained. However, the laundry room flooded (and leaked under the wall to soak the carpet on the other side). So, we moved everything out of the laundry room, pulled furniture away from the wall, and set stuff out to dry if needed. Plumbing got fixed and the laundry room got cleaned up. Now, my choice was to shove everything back in and ignore the problem some more or clean up.

I cleaned up. I put the laundry stuff back (for obvious reasons). I also put our fans and coolers back because that is the logical place to store them until we need them in the summer. I put the vacuum back because it goes there too. That's it! I went through all of the boxes and cleaning stuff on the shelves and organized everything. I didn't have anything to get rid of there though. Amazing! However, I did have lots of boxes in the living room to go through. I went through and got everything that is going to a new home packed up. My things that need to go out to the garage for sale or storage (I don't know what to do with the PlayStation) are boxed up and waiting to be carried out. Plus, I have a box for drop off at the electronics recycling place.

My laundry room looks awesome! You can walk in without tripping over anything. You can get to the tools and cleaning stuff without stubbing a toe. I'm just so excited. I really think this should count for two weeks. Anyone with me?

Has your Spring Cleaning started yet?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Crazy Week

We all have those weeks when we are so busy, we don't even realize just how crazy it actually is. Yeah, that was last week for me.

Saturday was going to be pretty low key because Hayden was with his dad. I went up to school to get a few things done. Then, I came home did a quick inventory of everything I needed to order and got my orders placed. I went back to make some soap and guess what! My scale quit on me. My trusty scale served me well for many years, but it was done. Luckily, it decided it was done when I was measuring out water, so nothing major was lost! So, I came back up to order a new one. From there, the plan was to get some cleaning and organizing done. The only thing that got finished was...all the photos from my computer transferred to my new one! Needed to be done, but not was I was hoping for.

Sunday, the weather was bad, so Hayden and I hung out inside. Cleaning, playing, and grading. Not bad right.

Then, Monday hit. Science Fair boards were due on Monday because of our snow day last week and I stayed late for those finishing up. It was insane! I think everyone was having a last minute panic attack trying to get one last letter or something added to their boards. Then, I talked my brother into taking care of Hayden and I went back up to school to grade boards. I was there until a little after 9, but they got graded and I was able to give the students feedback on Tuesday!

Tuesday, I helped the kids practice their presentations, plus I was trying to get a few last minute judges and get everything ready, so everyone knew what to do Friday morning AND I was still trying to keep up with the usual teachery things I have to do. Tuesday night meant more grading, but I also put together all the Excel spreadsheets I would need Friday.

Wednesday was when it really started getting crazy. I actually started going to each student to grade how they were presenting! I had more judges start rolling in (woo hoo!), so I had to get emails out to all of them about what to expect and when to be at school. It doesn't seem like much, but my brain was rattling when I left for home. That night, I got the schedule done! That was huge, last year I did the schedule the night before and it took forever.

Thursday, more of the same for grading, but students were starting to get nervous, so a lot of them had questions about what to say, do, or not say. I didn't get near enough graded (guess what I'm doing on Monday)! Plus, I had about 15 more judges volunteer! So much for my schedule :) Thursday night, I got together with two of the other teachers again and we got busy with last minute details. Setting up the gym with tables and numbering the tables. I fixed the schedule, so we start inputting data for judging sheets, printing and organizing judging sheets, and getting all the sheets attached to clipboards. We got everything set out and ready for the next morning. Computers were ready to go to the gym for scoring, the projector was set up and ready for my presentation, and we were exhausted because it was midnight!

Friday morning, I woke up early to get ready. Tried getting Hayden ready early (ha ha) and then went to the store to get stuff for coffee. I had intended to be at school and working by 7; instead, it was 7:30. Luckily, I work with amazing teachers, so they helped me get all the last minute things taken care of and I was actually ready to start at 8 like I'm supposed to. I had 5 judges that didn't show up, but I had scheduled alternates this year! We were all down in the gym to start on time, I had parent volunteers to help be runners and answer questions, I had people to total scores and enter them, and I had a great sound system so everyone could hear me! Once Science Fair actually started, I really had very little to do, which felt weird and wrong. It went so smoothly and the kids did such a great job.

I know I complain about it every year and I dread putting it together, but I can honestly say, in the end, everything was worth it. I could not be more proud of my kiddos for the work they did!

Friday night...I crashed :)