Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Hard to believe a new year is about to begin once again.  When I think back over this year, after having been away for two years, I am pleased with the direction my little soap business, on the side, is headed.  I have gained many new local customers, and online customers this past year, not to mention a very busy Holiday season.  The new soap designs are being thought out and executed in a manner that makes them eye catching and fun, but yet they are still functional and useful.  There has been a considerable amount of time and thought put into the packaging and presentation.  While some are great for local sales, they are not so great for shipping and still need more work, while others I am very happy with.

Strawberry Daiquiri Soap Cake Slice
One of my newest creations heading into 2014, Strawberry Daiquiri Soap Cake Slices.  Soap Cake Slices and Soap Cupcakes were extremely popular this past Christmas as they are unique and fun yet functional.  Many customers mentioned they would be delighted to be the recipient of one of these beauties, which is why they bought them for gifts.  These beautiful soap cake slices are perfect for Valentine's Day, and will be ready to ship out on January 15, 2014.  They are currently listed in our online shop on a Pre-Order basis, and will ship out and arrive to your domestic location in time for Valentine's Day.

Going forward into the new year I have many new designs, new fragrances, and packaging enhancements for many of these new soaps.  Additionally, I have companion products that will be making their debut this next year.  Keep watch both here and on our Facebook page, which is where I tend to post a bit more frequently.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Mini Rainbow Soap Cupcakes
Custom Order
I took a much needed vacation from the bubble fun and just wanted to stop in and wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  Between craft fairs, online sales, and custom orders I have been kept quite busy this holiday season.  In fact, I even sold all of the Valentine's Day soaps that I had already made in anticipation of listing in our online shop in early January.  Good thing I have some time off from my full-time job and starting tomorrow I will be busy making new products for 2014.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Kitchen Soap ~ A Multi Purpose Soap

Kitchen Soap
Kitchen Soap...but don't be fooled by its name! Fully loaded, high octane coffee brewed extra strong, and fresh (unbrewed) coffee grounds have been added to this soap formula...with just a hint of orange. Coffee helps to neutralize the onion, garlic and fish odors left on your hands from cooking. If you spend a lot of time gardening, this also works well to scrub off the dirt and grime...without drying out your hands. My most regular customer is a mechanic who uses this religiously and tells me it works better than anything else he's ever used...and not as drying on his skin.

This soap is made with Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Kernel Oil, Sweet Orange Essential Oil.. The color of this soap is achieved by the coffee.

The formula for this soap has not changed over the years. The size, shape, and packaging has changed over the years, we are proud that this soap was featured in the Storque Article ~ "Featured Buyer: VeganYumYum Shares Her (Delicious!) Kitchen Know-How" on November 5, 2008.

Right now Kitchen Soap, along with everything in our online shop, is on sale at 20% off the regular price AND when you purchase $30 or more you can have your domestic orders shipped for FREE using coupon code CYBWEEK13 at check out.   And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Cupcake Soaps

Maple Soap Cupcake
At a recent craft fair the lady across from me saw my cupcake soaps and immediately thought "oh boy, I am in trouble" (thinking they were food).  When she discovered they were soap she breathed a sigh of relief.  Within less than an hour I sold out of two scents and shortly after ran out of a third.

The one thing that drew folks in was the unique design and the packaging.  The packaging is amazing, but sadly not conducive to shipping, which is unfortunate.  Thankfully I figured this out before I shipped any of the soap cupcakes.  Although,  I MUST figure out a way to keep the heavy soap cupcakes from going airborne and damaged in shipment with these clear plastic boxes, which I adore!  Until then, online purchases will be wrapped in cello bags and a final wrapping of bubble wrap just before shipping to protect them.

While most didn't think they would ever use something so pretty, the soap cupcake definitely fit their budget and provided an option for those "hard to buy for" recipients.  I had a couple people mention the intended recipient was either a baker, or a cupcake lover.

My Display at a recent Craft Fair
By the way, I have my wonderfully creative husband to thank for the amazing display panels.  Actually, the idea was mine from seeing a similar idea online.  He, however, was the muscle and brawn behind bringing the idea to life.  I also have them set up in my dining room to entertain local shoppers that stop in by appointment.

These amazing soap cupcakes are on sale at 20% off regular price, and when you purchase $30 or more from our shop you can receive FREE Domestic shipping by simply using coupon code: CYBWEEK13 at check out.   And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Christmas Themed Soaps

Christmas Berries Soap
We have been busy for months creating soap with a Christmas theme and have even created some custom scent blends for Christmas 2013.
Christmas Berries is a custom scent blend we have created with Cedarwood Essential Oil mixed with Red Currant and Cranberry Fragrance oils.  This particular scent was created for Christmas, but is great for year round use, well after the presents are unwrapped and the tree is put away.
Cowboy Christmas

The design for Cowboy Christmas happened by "accident" when it was hot outside and the glycerin "rivers" were created during soap making process,  lending a leather appearance to the soap to match the fresh denim fragrance used. The end result was better than I ever imagined, and I was greatly delighted, to say the least.  I had these cute little cowboy boot charms leftover from my younger daughter's wedding that are attached to the packaging to round out the final presentation.   After all, a cowboy rides his horse hard all year long and after all that riding is in need of a new pair of jeans. All he wants for Christmas is a new pair of jeans because after all, cowboys and jeans go together like boots and spurs. This soap is bursting with a fresh and clean fragrance reminiscent of a new pair of jeans on a crisp sunny morning in the open air.

This is just a couple of the Christmas soaps we have to offer this year, and right now all of our Christmas soaps are marked down 20%!  When you purchase $30 or more, you can have them shipped to domestic locations for FREE using coupon code CYBWEEK13 at check out.   And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Soap made with Local Brew

The Hibernator Beer Soap
In recent weeks, local patrons and online regional shoppers have purchased a lot of these soaps made with local brew from Long Trail Brewing Company.

The Hibernator Soap is made with Hibernator Beer, a seasonal offering at Long Trail.  The label on the bottle displays a winter scene with a cute bear all cozy and covered under a blanket in a chair. He is reading a book and smoking his pipe in front of a roaring fire.  And added in for good measure, above the fireplace are the heads of two hunters mounted.  The humorous aspect and appeal of the label inspired the creativity and smokey scent reminiscent of Santa's Pipe fragrance oil that I selected for this soap.
Made with IPA by Long Trail

The Vermont Beer Artisan Soap is made with IPA (India Pale Ale),  a year round offering at Long Trail.  The label on this particular beer bears an image of the brewery nestled along the river with the green mountains in the background.  The green mountains inspired the creativity of the green lines on the top of the soap and was scented with Pale Ale, which is delicate enough to enhance but not an overpowering scent.

These amazing soaps are now available for purchase at 20% off! AND, when you purchase $30 or more of product, your domestic order will ship to you for FREE. Simply input coupon code CYBWEEK13 upon checkout to receive the free domestic shipping offer.  And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Ultimate Body Scrub Gift Set

Scrub Set

This body scrub gift set is the ultimate gift to show someone they are loved and in need of some intense pampering. And it is now available for purchase at 20% off! AND, when you purchase $30 or more of product, your domestic order will ship to you for FREE. Simply input coupon code CYBWEEK13 upon checkout to receive the free domestic shipping offer.  And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Each gift set offers a bucket of solid body polish made with glycerin soap, sugar, and olive oil. Bucket closes to avoid moisture building up on the remaining cubes. To use, simply take one cube into your shower or bath and knead with water in the palm of your hands. Scrub over your skin for exfoliation. Reduce the slippery mess with these solid sugar scrubs compared to the oil based sugar scrubs. Add an extra 6.5 oz. refill bag for an additional $10.00 (select option above) which translates into $8.00 with the cyber week sale 20% discount.

Options Available
For those tired feet we've taken a generous slice of loofah and submerged it in a luxurious helping of 100% Vegan Friendly Glycerin Soap. What can be better than a nice bar of scented soap that will both exfoliate and cleanse those rough, stinky feet?

A free 3-4 oz. bar of soap is included with this gift set to complete the set.

Choose from:
Ladybug Kisses ~ a bit citrusy, a bit bubbly (like Ginger Ale), but not overpowering or super sweet

Peppermint ~ minty fresh

Razz Nilla ~ a nice blend or black raspberries and vanilla

Sea Salt & Lotus ~ a fresh and clean scent

These gift sets are wrapped up and presented in a gift basket complete with hand tied bow.

Cyber Monday 2013

Build Your Own Gift Basket
Cyber Week Extravaganza Sale is happening in our online shop from now through Thursday, December 5.  Everything in our online shop is already marked down at 20% off regular prices, AND when you purchase $30 or more in product you can have it all shipped to you for FREE (domestic orders only)!  In order to receive the FREE domestic shipping promotion, product must total $30 or more (before shipping) and simply input coupon code: CYBWEEK13 upon checkout.   And, we are also running a Cyber Week Bonus Promotion!

Wrapping Options available
This year we are offering the opportunity for shoppers to create a custom/personally selected gift basket.  We have these adorable black and silver gift baskets that will comfortably fit up to four bars of soap. This allows you to have the fun of picking out the bars of soap you want included in your gift basket!  You will also have the fun of picking out which wrapping option you would like for the gift basket and we will take care of the rest!  Please note that we are running extremely low on our organza wrappers and won't be getting any more before Christmas.

Cyber Week Bonus Promotion

If you have been holding off on placing your Christmas order, now is the time to do it! We are offering  20% off everything in our online store, including wedding favors!  When your product total is $30 or more, you qualify for FREE domestic shipping using coupon code: CYBWEEK13 at check out.

Ok, so on to the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT of the day, I mean, WEEK!  One (OR MORE)  lucky shopper (OR SHOPPERS) is (ARE) going to be doing the happy soap dance with me.  Between now and 11:59 PM Eastern Time on December 5, everyone that places an online order through our shop will have their name put into a drawing, but it doesn't end there!  You can earn extra chances in the drawing to make the prize even bigger!

Want to know what the drawing is for?  I'm going to tell you the rules, first.  :)

1.  To qualify for the drawing you must place an order between now and 11:59 PM Eastern Time on December 5.  Orders placed through our online shop must be completed transactions (meaning, payment must be received either through Direct Check Out or Pay Pal using a debit/credit card).

2.  If you are not already a fan on our Facebook page, please do so, and then refer your friends to Like our Facebook page and tell them to mention your name in a comment on our fan page.  For every person you refer that Likes our page and tags your name in a comment, you will earn an extra chance in the drawing.

3.  Refer your friends to our shop and if they place an order through our online shop (transaction payment must be received either through Direct Check Out or Pay Pal using debit/credit card to qualify), ask them to put your name in the comments on the order so you can receive TWO additional chances in the drawing.

The more you refer increases your the number of chances you earn, increases the odds of you winning the big prize!

Now on to the prize...for every order placed with a completed payment transaction I will give an extra 10% off the winners order.  So you can see, the more orders that come in could translate into one (OR MORE) lucky shopper (OR SHOPPERS) getting a 100% reimbursement for their entire order!   At 11:59 PM Eastern Time on December 5, Cyber Week Bonus Sale will end and all qualifying entries will be entered in the drawing.

I will be popping in and out of Facebook throughout the week to update where we are at with the bonus discount sale.  The Winner (or WINNERS) will be officially announced on Facebook and on this blog on December 6.

Good luck, and Happy Shopping!  :)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Calling All Brides!

Soap Cake Slices
Locally this year our best selling scents have been Blueberry, Cranberry, Eucalyptus Mint, and Maple.  Soap Cupcakes and Soap Cake slices have been extremely popular, as well.

Some of our Soap Cake slices were recently included in gift boxes for brides that attended The Wedding Affair in Vermont, sponsored by "Vermont Vows" and "WellWed" magazines.

Mini Soap Cupcakes
Our Cyber Week sale is perfect opportunity for brides to place their orders for wedding favors at a 20% discount AND take advantage of the free domestic shipping option by using coupon code CYBWEEK13 upon check out!  Book your 2014 date early to avoid last minute wedding planning chaos.

We love to customize and personalize our soapy favor creations specific to your needs for your special event at no additional cost to you!  This discount and free shipping offer is typically not available on our wedding favors and will only available this week during our Cyber Week Sale.

Cyber Week 2013 is Here!

It seems like just a few days ago I was planning and creating all the Christmas soapy creations for 2013 and now it is December 1 and Cyber Monday is tomorrow!  YIKES!!!!
New School Cuisine

The time leading up to Christmas seems to have escaped me rapidly as this fall has been a busy one for me, personally.  Over a year ago I was asked to be a participant and contributor of recipes for a cookbook.  As you may or may not know, I am a School Food Service Manager for a K-12 school in rural Vermont.  The cookbook project came about as a partnership between Green Mountain Healthy Kids Challenge, Vermont FEED, School Nutrition Association of Vermont, and the Child Nutrition Team at the Vermont Agency of Education.  Years in the making, when faced with the new USDA meal patterns last school year, it was time to get busy and bring the dream into reality.  Many of the USDA recipes no longer met the new requirement for 50% whole grain rich and/or vegetable subgroup requirements.  What is available in California isn't necessarily available to those of us in rural Vermont.   Using raw ingredients including a lot of local products, fourteen School Food Service professionals (myself included) wrote recipes that were tested on their respective students before submitting them to the project.

I discovered very quickly that my recipes, although easy for me to understand the steps and processes, are not so easily translated to the next person. There is a real art in presenting a standardized recipe to gain uniform results across the board.  Equipment I might have may not be available in smaller schools, and larger schools most likely have more modern equipment to make the cooking process more efficient.  To pull it off, we utilized professional recipe writers for Eating Well magazine, Instructors and students from New England Culinary Institute (NECI), professional food stylists, and nutrition experts.  Each one of us involved donated countless hours to this project above and beyond our normal work load to test, give input, and more.  Thank goodness for those professional recipe writers to pull it all together for us.   In late October I received my copy of the finished cookbook prior to it becoming available publicly.  You can view a digital copy from this page (scroll down to the red box to access).

The very day I received my copy of the cookbook, I also accepted the nomination and was unanimously voted in to serve a two year term on the Executive Board for School Nutrition Association of Vermont.  I have been a member of this association for a number of years, but had no clue the complexities and amount of "behind the scenes" work they accomplish for the benefit of all school food service professionals and children  in our state and nationally.  As a result, needless to say, my time leading up until now has been jam packed with commitments for my full-time job.  :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Merry Soapy Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas Tree Cupcake Soap
Several weeks back I went a little bit crazy on the Christmas soap projects.  Finding the right tools to create the cutouts in the size I needed turned into another one of those "aha!" moments when I strolled down the clay aisle at the local craft store one day.  And those little cutout tools came in very handy for the Christmas soap projects.  Stockings, Christmas Trees, Snowmen, and Gingerbread men were quickly cutout of soap scraps begging to be put to good use.

Peppermint Cupcake Soap
I made cupcake soaps in a combination of chocolate and orangepeppermint and pumpkin spice, and then finally the Christmas Tree and cinnabun.

In the end I gained the awe and amazement of family and friends, with thoughts that they look good enough to eat.  I do not suggest that, however, as I am pretty sure they won't taste anything like they smell.  ;)

Chocolate Orange Cupcake Soap

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lightbox Challenged but Persistance Pays Off!

Before - First attempt with the Light box
Several months ago I bought a light box so I could take better photos of my soapy creations for my online store.  I proudly made my modestly priced purchase online and anxiously awaited it's arrival.  When it arrived, I was devastated to find that the unit came WITHOUT instructions, and I quickly discovered many other reviews complaining about no instructions included with the unit.  How hard can it be to figure out something as basic as that simple light box?  Ha!  Well, no instructions was the first clue that it wasn't going to be as easy as first thought and I should have returned it before I even got started.

My second clue should have been when one of my daughter's cats came flying through the room, slipped under the table and promptly pulled the cord for one of the lights and sent it airborne right in the middle of a photo shoot.  Needless to say, the force from hitting the floor was the end for the bulb in that light.  I was steaming mad, and my daughter promptly headed off to the store and bought not just one, but a three pack of replacement bulbs...after my husband spent a considerable amount of time trying to get the light bulb out so we could determine what size was needed because, instructions came with the unit!  I put the unit away for "a rainy day".

We had a lot of rainy days this past summer, in fact, most of the summer we were overloaded with it.  But I just didn't have the patience to even think about attempting the light box just yet.  A few weeks ago I saw a You Tube video of a "light box" where the person made a simple unit out of lights, a piece of poster board, and some clothes pins.  Really?  Why I didn't Google this sooner, I will never know!  I might have saved myself some green by playing with a more basic model.  Which leads me to today.

I hauled the unit out, replaced the bulb from the cat fiasco several months ago, and set it all up...on the floor and in a room where NO cats, dogs, people could mistakenly trip, fly, dance, or sit on any of the lights.  My third clue...Houston, we have a problem!  The new light bulb gave off better light than the original so it was producing too much shadow on one side.  No problem, I have two more bulbs!  Three of us struggled to release the bulb, each one of us cutting our fingers on the sharp edges of the bulb.  Finally, the bulb was out, and in went the new.  Success, the light was even on both sides.  Ha, ha...moving on to my fourth clue...

Photos taken with my cellphone, photos taken with my digital camera.  Why oh why is the light just not making the inside of the box bright enough?  Why is everything looking so dark, no matter where I move the lights?  So, I went straight to Google and typed in a search for my dilemma.  Should I be offended that at the top of the search engine was "Light box for Dummies"?  Yup, you guessed fifth clue!

After reading several articles I finally found one that addressed my problem.  Um...clue number six...the lights needed to be shining from above the light box.  OK...the box stands approximately 15 inches tall, and the yeah, you could say they are vertically challenged and more suited for a unit that stand 3 inches tall, not 15 inches!  And darn it all, the legs were not telescoping legs so I was pretty much subjected to figure out another solution so it was time to elevate the lights.

Getting closer, but no cigar.  Everything was still coming out dark no matter what I did.  In looking at the piece that attaches to the back and drapes "nicely" to give a seamless background, I might have been better off with a piece of tissue paper.  Clue number seven.  Those clothespins and a piece of poster board was sounding pretty enticing by this point.

After a much needed break and some brainstorming I came up with an idea.  I have, in my possession, several white tablecloths...they are polyester, there are no wrinkles, and I could layer it just so through the back of the light box to achieve a thicker and cleaner background to play with.  Finally, we were starting to get somewhere!  Ha ha ha...moving right along to clue number eight!

In my haste to set the lights back into position after placing the tablecloth, I bumped one of the lights and tipped it over...a whole 6 inches to the carpeted floor, but now had another light to change.  Light bulb #3 was promptly installed, lights positioned and turned on, and camera in hand.  We were getting so much closer.  Camera, settings, remember you have to change the settings to adjust for the light on the camera?

And wah lah!  A beautiful photo with a pristine white background (by my standards). After a quick run through pic monkey for resizing and some other special photo editing touches, I can finally say that I have conquered the beast!

The challenge was frustrating, but I learned a lot about lighting, what works and what does not work.  I learned a lot about my digital camera and features I never even knew existed (after almost 7 years).  I made sure to take careful notes along the way so I would have a reference point for future photos.  I know today the sun was shining when I finally figured everything out.  Next time I go into a photo shoot it might be cloudy, raining, snowing, or it could be after the sun sets and then I will need to do more fine tuning and adjustments.  I feel accomplished for what I was able to achieve today and now have a starting reference point to work with, not to mention I am super delighted with the final result.

I have a long weekend coming up later this week so I plan to use that time to prepare for Holiday Craft Fairs and updating some more photos for my online shop.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Soap Design

Christmas Wreath Soap
For two months I have had a vision for this soap design rolling through my head.  For two months I have put off making this soap for fear it wouldn't turn out as I had envisioned.  This past weekend I decided it was now...or never and took the plunge.  

I started mixing the green and exclaimed, "I need to add more green it's not dark enough".  This, after extremely loud and vocal complaining and frustration of ugly blue poop color in the Sunset Dreams soap and my daughter pops up and says..."wait, let me see it before you add any more."  After her agreeing with me  that it needed more color, I proceeded.

My vision and trying to explain it to my daughter were not one and the same.  She clearly didn't see how it was going to look, but in my mind I knew what it was going to look like and proceeded.  She left me alone so I could proceed.  When I was finished I brought the mold over for her to see and finally she understood what I was trying to achieve.
Soap log

Much to my delight, this one did indeed turn out better than I had ever dreamed or imagined.  Two tones of green swirled with white that actually looks more ivory ...even better!  Soap curls added lending just enough splash of color but not too aggressively overpowering...just enough.

And this one is now my most favorite soap design created to date.

Monday, September 9, 2013

September Soap Challenge

Citrus Sunrise & Sunset Dreams 
This month I am participating in another soap challenge hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cake Soapworks. This month the challenge presented was to create a soap using a gradient technique using three colors next to each other in the color wheel.

Citrus Sunrise
Citrus Sunrise was created with the use of neon pigments (pink, orange, and yellow) and I used too much pink and not enough orange to get the effect I was needing in the end result.   The colors didn't have a very defined gradient look in the end result, but it was fun working with the technique and basically tabled the challenge for this month because of time.  Between the extras with school starting up, I am pretty well spent the first couple weeks until all of the extra catering jobs and Open House is wrapped up.

This past weekend, however, I had a renewed and refreshed outlook and decided Citrus Sunrise really needed a companion and I created a custom scent blend that would suit a soap called Sunset Dreams.

Sunset Dreams
Sunset Dreams was created with the use of many different micas (blue, pink, orange).  I was so disappointed when the pink portion morphed into a darker shade of orange.  My daughter heard every minute of my frustration.  Even worse, when I mixed the larger portion of pink into the blue, it turned a horrible shade of blue (it wasn't even remotely pretty...I think my exact wording was...looks like ugly blue poop :/ ).  Plodding on, I continued the process and tucked the soap into bed for the night.

Tonight when I got home from work I was delighted to see the pink was no longer orange, and most of the blue wasn't as bad.  The horrible shade of blue is still just as ugly as it looked yesterday, but it is masked by the beauty of the other colors so my eyes aren't focusing solely on the appearance of that one layer of blue.

I had so much fun creating these soaps and learned a lot.  Thankfully neither batter accelerated on me, and if nothing else, I accomplished what I started out to do and I didn't give up after the first try.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Holly Swirl Challenge

Bayberry Soap
This month I had the time to participate in the monthly soap challenge hosted by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks.  When I started making soap years back, we were limited to books and online tutorials with photos.  Now we have You Tube to learn new techniques and the creativity is mind boggling.  This month's challenge was to use the technique called The Holly Swirl, or a swirl within a swirl. 

My first attempt was the only one that I took pictures of the entire process, and fortunately that is the one that I liked the best.  My second and third attempts are posted here.  I had done something similar to the Holly Swirl prior to the challenge and included the resulting soap along with the second and third attempt. 

As this was The Holly Swirl, I was thinking along the lines of Holly Jolly Christmas and chose to make a soap scented with Bayberry.  I used oxides for colorants, and after the addition of the fragrance the batter started moving along into a thicker trace than I would have wanted but I liked the results, none the less.  (My second attempt was more fluid and poured at a light trace, and the third attempt was poured at medium/light trace.)  For the Bayberry soap, the contrast between the red and white swirl against the green really made the colors pop. 

 The process to the end result:

Red and white swirl in the pot
Red and white swirl poured into the green soap base

All finished and ready to tuck the soap into bed for the night

Someone recently posted in one of the soap groups that I particpate in to take thumb tacks and poke them into the top of the mold before tucking textured top soaps into a blanket for the night.  Great tip, no more botched textured tops on soaps!   
Soap log ready for cutting

I don't have one of those fancy cutters (still a dream for me), just my trusty old Cutco chef's knife and a wooden cutting guide.  Seeing as no one was home when I made or cut the soap, I have no photos of the cutting process to show you. 
Close up of one of the cut bars of soap
I really enjoyed participating in this month's challenge and have some amazing soaps to show for it.  One of these days I might get brave enough to produce some You Tube videos of my soapmaking adventures.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Practicing for a Challenge

I decided since I was on vacation that I would have a bit of fun by participating in a soap challenge (more about that in another post to follow).  It was great fun practicing the technique for this challenge and I wanted to share the ones that didn't make the final cut as being "the one" I would enter in the challenge.  :)

#1 ~ Eucalyptus & Mint ~ This soap was the second attempt for the challenge.  My daughter says the top looks like ribbon candy.  Smells heavenly, but the pink and white swirls kind of just "disappear" and no clear contrast of colors. 

Eucalyptus & Mint Soap

#2 ~ Lavender Pine ~ This soap was the third attempt and this time I wanted the lavender and white swirl to be wispy and achieved that, but the contrast against the green while very pretty, didn't give enough contrast of colors to be "the entry" for the challenge. 

Lavender Pine Soap
#3 ~ Ok this doesn't really count as an attempt for this challenge.  However, it must be shared that when I made this Candy Cane soap I made a similar swirl of red and white for one of the layers.  Although this soap wasn't made for this challenge, and the swirl wasn't dropped into the lower portion of the soap, the end result turned out really cool.

Candy Cane Soap
So what about the soap I selected to use for the entry in the challenge?  Well, I happen to love the first attempt.  And, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow to hear all about the challenge and see the soap I chose to enter. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Hibernator

The Hibernator Soap
There is nothing more comforting on those cold winter days than to sit in a cozy chair with a steaming cup of hot cocoa all nestled in with nice warm blanket by a roaring fire. 

The Hibernator Soap is our second in a series of soaps made with beer from the Long Trail Brewing Company.  Smoky and mysterious, this scent has notes of cherrywood, raspberry, vanilla and tobacco.

The creamy tan color was achieved by a combination of the beer and fragrance oil used, and was muted a touch with the use of Titanium Dioxide (white).  The blue was achieved with the use of Indigo Powder and Titanium Dioxide. 

Tha natural sugar content in the beer helps to boost the lather, and soap made with beer has become a favorite in the shower around our house. 

The Hibernator Soap will be available in our online shop later this month. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ode to Autumn

I came to realize the other day that I have been away from my blog for over a month now and need to get back into the blogging groove. 

To catch you up to speed...I am still struggling with back issues and the healing process has been extremely slow going.  I think I tend to forget/ignore that I am supposed to not be lifting heavy items, and that doesn't help.  For one who is very independent let's just say it isn't always easy changing habits to become dependent on others and to ask for help.  I've learned a valuable lesson in patience so to not annoy my family with nagging when I need something done.  I've had to adapt my day to day chores to fit within the lifting limitations and wait for help to tackle the ones that are beyond those limitations. 

Fortunately, making soap has not been affected with these limitations, so long as I get someone to lift the heavy buckets where I have been extremely creative in masterbatching the oils into a 5 gallon bucket that I keep warm with the use of a heating pad so all I have to do is scoop out what I need to make a batch of soap without having to move things around all the time. 

Rustic Pumpkin Soap
I have made so many new soap designs over the summer, but the one that has quickly become my favorite is the Rustic Pumpkin soap.  It was a very hot day when I made the soap and I was really bummed out when I noticed the color sort of "crackled" on me during the saponification process.  However, that disappointment was extremely shortlived as the crackled appearance actually enhanced the look of the soap and by the time I finished cutting the log of soap into bars I was in love!   This soap is made with pumpkin, and the scent is like taking a walk through the pumpkin patch on a crisp autumn day combined with a hint of spice from a freshly baked pumpkin pie. 
Fresh Fallen Leaves Soap
Autumn is spectacular in Vermont with a beautiful display of foliage that is jaw dropping.  It has already been feeling like September weather and there are visible signs of foliage changing over to color popping up on the trees.  We've captured the fall foliage hues and scents in a single bar of of soap that offers many showers of bubble lathering goodness ~ Fresh Fallen Leaves

I am currently working on soaps with a Christmas theme so keep watch for soapy updates. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

New Yummy Soap

Yummy soap freshly made
Friday was a good day for me..very little back pain and no arthritis flare ups.  The weather cooperated and we didn't get the predicted rain in our otherwise waterlogged region, at least where I live.  The day started off in the low 60's so I was ready to start working on at least one batch of soap and concluded the day with 5 new soaps. 

Earlier today I posted a picture of the cut bars from this log to our Facebook page and asked if anyone could guess what fragrance was used in this soap. 
Freshly cut bars of new soap

What fragrance do you think it is? You can certainly leave a guess in the comments on this post but be sure to  Find us on Facebook to see the answer and to participate in future guessing contests and soap giveaways. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mom's Day Out

Today was a fun filled day of travel as we headed off to tour the Long Trail Brewing Company located in Bridgewater Corners, Vermont and sits along the banks of the Ottauquechee River.
Long Trail

I was pleasantly surprised to notice first off that the size of the facility is much smaller than I had imagined.  After taking a self-guided tour, we were treated to a VIP tour of the facility as my daughter works for this company.  The VIP tour offered a more in depth explanation of the entire process from start to finish. 

This company maximizes every square foot of their facility and everything is efficiently laid out.  This facility is very unique in that they have taken great measures to minimize the impact on the environment around them. 

Steam from the brewing process is condensed into hot water and the thermal energy is used to heat water for the next brewing cycle, saving thousands of
Where it all starts
gallons of propane per month and also reducing their water consumption by 1/3.  The spent grain and hops are fed to local dairy cattle as supplemental food.  This company has been acknowledged by the state of Vermont with the "Governor's Award for Environmental Excellence in Resource Conservation". 

This company truly gives back to the community.  A story was told that when Hurricane Irene came to visit back in 2011, the facility was spared any damage to the inside, but the river had expanded up to their building and had spilled over into the parking lot.  As they already are equipped for commercial dining and had the equipment, staffing, and facilities they became a shelter to those affected by the hurricane and offered clean clothes and meals to those who had
Fermenting Tank
no home left, or severely damaged by the hurricane.  There is only one place in that small town where a helicopter could land, and it just so happened to be right next to their building.  The military was able to get in and out to bring food and supplies to the people who needed the assistance in that area. 

Small company with a big heart in a small town in rural Vermont. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Making Boxes is Fun!

Two Bar Gift Box
Lately I've been turning to my scrapbook supplies to create packaging for soaps that will showcase the personality of each one while  making them gift ready.  I've come up with packaging for the soap cupcakes, single bars, and one that will fit two bars of soap. 

I'll be introducing some special limited edition gift boxes of soaps featuring autumn and holiday scents later this summer. 
Single Bar Box

Soap Cupcake Boxes

Speaking of soap cupcakes...see the the little ladybugs on top of the soap cupcake to the left?  They smell amazing and will be ready to list in our online shop very soon! 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Soap made with Beer?

Soap made with IPA from Long Trail
So what have I been making lately?  First up is a great new soap made with IPA (India Pale Ale) by Long Trail Brewing Company, a local Vermont brewery.  For those? not so sure about bathing with soap that contains beer let me just say...why not?  The natural sugars in the beer aids in boosting the lather, and after testing in the shower I can honestly say that this one holds a close contention to the emollient feel of goat milk soaps.  And no, you don't smell like beer afterwards because I passed the "you don't smell like beer" test at the school where I work. 

Five adults in my house agree, and this soap disappeared rapidly with a unanimous request that I give up more bars for further quality testing "just to be sure".  Even my picky husband had to tell me that the good bar of soap was gone and I should put more like it in the shower. 

Vermont Beer Artisan Soap is now available in our online shop.

For those who may not know...The soap momentum has been a bit slow the past couple months due in great part to the fact that my lower back and hip have been giving me problems. Problems that are a result of multiple trauma to the same area over the course of several years where I have neglected/put off treatment until I could barely move. I am on the mend, but ever so slowly. For the past few months I have had good days, bad days, and some just plain awful days with the pain levels. I have a high tolerance to pain, but this is wiping me out. My husband and family have really pulled it together to help keep the house running, and for that I am extremely thankful. Most of my energy has been expended at work, leaving little time in the evenings and on the weekends to blog and create so to lend enough time for healing.   Now that summer is here my energies can shift into the soapy fun without over-doing it. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

National Blueberry Pie Day

Blueberry Themed Soaps
I can remember going blueberry picking with family and friends. I still say they needed to weigh everyone going in and out, because the blueberries became a meal as we were picking. LOL Who couldn't resist those round, plump, delicious berries? Afterwards we would dine on fresh blueberries and make some awesome blueberry pies before freezing the rest for "later". I can remember one time my BFF didn't have enough blueberries left to make a full pie, so she combined peaches to make up the amount needed and called it a Pooberry Pie. Anyway you serve them, blueberries are the best!

In honor of this national celebration, I have the perfect blueberry treats minus the calories. All of these soapy masterpieces have been made using the cold processed method of soap making. Each blueberry hand rolled and the "cream" hand piped to give that realistic look and smell of a delectable treat.

You will find these awesome blueberry treats in our online shop ~ Blueberry Artisan Soap, Lemon Blueberry Cupcake Soaps, and Lemon Blueberry Pie Artisan Soap...just remember that while these look and smell real, it is not recommended that they be eaten. ;)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

New Soap Designs Require New Packaging

The unveiling of our new packaging for some of the new soap designs
This week I have been on Spring Break and not making much soap because I have so much packaging to finish up and get ready for our Open House for local customers this weekend.  (The house needed a good spring cleaning, too)  With the new soap designs that have more eye appeal than the simple looking bars of the past, there was still this itch to take the look up a notch further.  I am happy to say that I am 100% happy with the new eye appeal of both the soaps and the packaging.   Gift ready for any occasion ~ Mother's Day, Birthday, Anniversary, and more. 

Labeling is the last feat to accomplish before Saturday, and I might just have to buy a new printer because I don't have another minute to waste on ink streaks with labels.   I think the problem requires the assistance of a professional cleaning above and beyond the capabilities of the features on the printer and time is not in my favor at this stage of the game. 

Last week I started listing items in our online shop and have already shipped the first order out.  From now until May 5, 2013 we are offering a free bar of our Kitchen Soap with orders of $20 or more (before shipping).