Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza ~ Day Five and Six

Lemongrass Sage
Day Five was spent cutting a lot of soap, then making a batch of Lemongrass Sage Goat Milk soap.  This fragrance is Ashley's (DD #2) favorite fragrance.  She was more than thrilled when she stopped by on her way to work to discover the freshly made batch in the mold.  She has graciously volunteered to be quality tester for this batch. 

My soaping time was shortened with the invitation to join my favorite sister-in-law (I can safely say that because she is my only sister-in-law) for lunch.  I gladly accepted the invitation and the opportunity to clear my nose from all of the fragrances building up in the house. 

Day Six started off as the big T day....TAXES.  I am sooooo glad to have that headache behind me for another year.  Major headache because I received a very small amount of money in a class action lawsuit against an employer I had worked for like 12 years ago when we lived in Illinois.  Of course, the state taxes were paid to IL and not VT so of course, for the $5 I gave the state of IL, they took $4 and I get a whole whopping $1 back (laughing as I type).  Vermont gave me a whole whopping $2.00 more back on my return because of the tax paid to IL. 

My son got up earlier than normal and made a late breakfast for us, then we went about moving a bunch of stuff to unearth one box of soap supplies I KNEW I had, but could not find.  After we had most everything torn apart he remembered what I was looking for was in his closet the whole entire time!  I had asked him multiple times if he was sure all of my supplies had been taken out of his room when he moved back home, and he insisted it all had been.  Unbelievable!!!  I was just glad to finally find what I was looking for!
Table & Drying Rack set up

While I had my son captive, we moved a table down to the soap room and got a nice wire shelf in place to load up with curing soap.  Needless to say, you can see it is already full, but that leaves all of the other racks that all of those soaps had occupied wide open for more soapy creations. 

And now I am headed back into the soap room to turn out more soapy creations and fill up the now vacant racks.  :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Champagne Goat Milk Soap

Freshly poured in the mold
Champange is a real sparkling, bubbly fragrance that is requested quite often around here.  I always tend to grab the 24k gold mica when working with this one because I feel there is a regal quality about champagne and gold going together. 

On this particular log I wanted to try out my piping abilities.  Now rest assured I can pipe frosting on cupcakes lickety split and can whip out 100 of them in no time flat.  I can make frosting without a recipe because I've done it so many times I know what consistency I am needing and can adjust volume just by looking at the frosting.  Working with soap batter, however was a unique challenge.  Next time I need to let the soap batter set up a bit longer before attempting to pipe, and be a bit more patient waiting for the soap batter to come into the consistency of frosting. A slight dusting of gold mica (this time I used a small sifter) really got the shimmering effect I was aiming towards.

Removed from the mold
Cut bars look like champagne bubbles on top
The side view of the log of soap shows off the piping, and you can barely see the gold swirls I was attempting to achieve throughout the log.  What amazed me is the gold swirls seemed to get lost in the mix of things, but stood out with the piped top. 

When I cut the bars I was amazed at how it looks as though there are champagne bubbles dancing on top of every bar.  The swirl might not have achieved much interest, and the piping in need of some more patience, but I was deeply pleased with the end result.  The bars have been moved to the rack to finish curing and will be available in our online store late next month.  :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza ~ Day Three and Four

Day Three ~

To start the day off, I went about cutting all of the logs of soap made on Day One and Day Two,  then realized I had run out of room on the drying racks, so I rearranged the racks to make things a bit more organized and tidy. 

Lavender Goat Milk Soap
If you remember earlier this month I made a large bath of Lavender Goat Milk Soap just before I came down with the "Creeping Crud", which consequently did not turn out, but I didn't discover the problem until a week later when I started feeling better.  Soooooo, I made another single mold of Lavender Soap on Day Three. 

Not Good!
Apparently,when I mixed the large batch of Lavender Soap earlier this month, I "thought" it was thoroughly mixed in the 5 gallon bucket I was using, but alas, it was NOT!  I knew there was a probem when I cut the first log (after sitting for over a week) and noticed it was extremely soft.  The hidden problem was lurking in the two logs behind the first when I noticed some dripping and weeping under the drying rack from the logs behind it.  I also noticed the two remaining logs had further issues lurking on the underside. 

Dark Orange areas, a lot of soda ash (from the lye), about 1/2 inch of crumbly "soap" on the bottom, and the tops were extremely soft.  The importance of making sure you have indeed thoroughly combined the mixture prior to pouring it into the molds!!!

Day Four ~

I got a very late start to my morning due to the fact that Ashley's "baby" Emma, the Bassett Hound, which we dog sit while she is working second shift, had a rough night because she was not feeling well.  This dog has serious separation anxiety, and needs a lot of TLC when she comes to stay with us so not feeling well didn't help and made for a very long night.  I won't bore you with the details, but Ms. Moo was VERY tired and slept in this morning. 
Day Four Projects
Mr. Moo reminded me last night that he was in need of some clean clothes, so I went about starting the laundry when I heard a noise on the porch and discovered my precious package from Brambleberry had arrived!  Yippee ~ new soap molds and one of my favorite fragrance oils so it was off to the soap room we go.

I knew my soap batches were a touch too much for these molds, but I purposely did not adjust my batches because I wanted to pour some smaller soaps for future planned projects.  From left to right we have  the beginnings of a Mother's Day project (I haven't fine tuned the name yet), A grape scented soap, and Energy. I am anxious to see how the round soaps turn out in the new molds I receieved today. I poured the two round molds with more than one color and curious to see what the cut bars will look like.  As for the log for the Mother's Day project, it is a floral scent that has been added to the list of fragrances that MUST be soaped when I can have a window open.  Mr.Moo came home from work as I had just mixed up the batch and mentioned he could smell it as soon as he stepped onto the porch...outside!!!   Pretty, but extremely intense when I played with it. 
Small molds filled with excess soap

As you can see I had a lot of soap leftover from the new round molds so I had quite a few smaller molds that were filled with the excess, more than I thought.  Next time I will adjust my batch so I don't have so much leftover. 

My son's laptop is seriously misbehaving tonight, so I apologize for any oddities with spellig and/or punctuation tonight.  Argh!!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Blackberry Sage Goat Milk Soap

Freshly poured in the mold 
Blackberry Sage is blackberry blended with sage to keep the sticky sweet smell of the berries at bay. It is also one of those fragrances that behaves very well when I soap with it, so I knew I had plenty of time to play with the raw soap. When I went about making this soap I wanted vibrant layered colors in the natural "white" soap and a textured top that I then sprinkled with 24K gold mica. I would use a cosmetic glitter next time to avoid the little clumps of mica. 

Playing with the textured top was a lot of fun.  I might have let it sit up a bit longer to achieve a deeper textured look, but all in all I was very pleased with my first attempt and the end result. 

Fresh out of the mold
You see that the color is muted after the batch hardened in the mold.  I wanted to give you a side view of the log to show you how I layered the colors in the log.

Fresh cut bars
I used the crinkle cutter on these bars, and very happy in that decision.  The layers of color turned out great, lending a true one of a kind quality to each bar.  The addition of the crinkle cut really makes these colors rock!  These bars of soap smell every bit as amazing as they look.  In fact, I think to date this has to be one of those batches of soap I am most proud of. 

The bars have been tucked on to the rack to finish curing, and will be available in our online store when we reopen later next month.  :)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza ~ Day Two

This morning I was twitching to unmold the soaps that were made yesterday.  As you can see, the logs look amazing! 

After the logs of soap were removed from the molds to dry out a bit more, it was time to line the molds and play with more bubbly fun. 

Oh, what to do!  So many ideas, not enough hours in the's soaping adventure brought to life (from left to right) Cool Mountain Lake, Vermont Maple Cream Pie, and Fuzzy Navel.  I must say that the Fuzzy Navel was the most challenging to pull off. 

I have enough olive oil to make one more batch of soap before the man in the brown truck pulls into the yard and delivers more.  It is scheduled to be delivered two days earlier than expected, and I am jazzed about that! As you can see there is a lot of soap to cut, and I MUST unearth the drying rack from the closet in my soaping room because I am running out of counter space for the soap to cure. 

Can hardly wait to see how today's logs turned out, and of course, I am very anxious to see the inside of the logs that were made yesterday! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza ~ Day One

We're off and running with our Winter Vacation Soaping Extravaganza!  We're testing out some techniques after drooling over the NUMEROUS You Tube videos so many other wonderful soapmakers graciously shared with the rest of the world.  Some videos were in languages I could not understand, but the universal language of soapmaking was all I needed for inspiration. 

Fresh from the soap room today (from left to right) Blackberry Sage, Champagne, and Green Irish Tweed.  A blog post is in order for each batch with closer views, the unmolded logs, and (drum roll) the reveal of what's inside after cutting them into bars. 

Brain cells are going haywire and on a major overload with soap project ideas so it is going to be a very busy week around here.  :)  Good thing a lye shipment arrived just in time (the supply was getting pathetically low), and more soaping goodies will be arriving from Brambleberry early next week! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Terrific Tuesday!

Woo Hoo!  That means I have three more work days to maintain sanity before reaching the goal of 10 days of winter vacation. 

Early on duirng winter vacation I plan to spend an entire day in the kitchen cooking, prepping, and freezing meals for a month.  It saves me a lot of time and money to have those meals at my finger tips ready to go.  All of the major mess and fuss is behind me, and after working all day I can pull a nice meal together in a matter of minutes.  No more wondering what to fix for dinner, it is alreadey planned out and ready to go.  I don't use any special books or recipes, I use what I know we love and will eat.

The benefit of having all of those meals in the freezer is that if you get sick, like I did, there is still a meal waiting in the freezer for the guys in the house to eat, without you having to fuss over it.  It is also helpful when you've been sick and your hubby volunteers you to fix a pot of chili for the local snowmobile club winter cookout and you already have it made and in the freezer. 

My favorite weapon of choice to pull off these all day cooking events, FOODSAVER!  If there is one piece of equipment every kitchen should have,  it is one of those beauties.  Mine is rather old, but still gets the job done.  I also know that if this one fails, Ashley has her brand spanking new one stored at my house and it will come out from hiding and be put to use. 

After I get all my meals in the freezer that will leave me a lot of days to spend in the soap room playing in the bubbly fun!  I can harldy wait!  :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Behold The Dutch Oven!

I have many kitchen utensils and all sorts of gidgets and gadgets that I've collected over the years.  But, it wasn't until Ashley left her dutch oven at my house before I had the pleasure of using one.  I was immediately in love!  I dropped a very "not so subtle hint" that I really NEED Santa to bring me one of those dutch ovens for Christmas this year.  Imagine my excitement when Ashley, my little cupid, brought me a beautiful cranberry color dutch oven for Valentine's Day!  I guess my "not so subtle hint" worked!  :)   Of course, I have always been in love with cast iron, but sadly have set them aside because they are not safe to use on the glass flat cooktop and only haul them out to use on the gas burner on my gas grill in the summer. Imagine my excitement in finding out that these beautiful enamel covered cast iron beauties can be safely used on my stovetop!  

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Getting Back in the Groove

I am feeling better today, and even returned to work, although I pretty much stayed in my office all day.  Even though I sat at my desk the majority of the day, I was pretty tired when I got home this afternoon. 
I am staying away from the soap room until this persistent cough subsides.  When I work in my soap room  I wear a mask, hair net, and gloves but I don't want to risk passing any stray germs into the soap I make.  I also feel I need to not over-do it and end up with a relapse. 
Obviously, I have no new soap photos to share, but I wanted to share a cute photo I snapped of my daughter's cat, Maci.  I caught her sleeping on the couch the other day and found her pose to be quite comical.  She was born with the bob tail which I find to be the cutest thing ever, and she has the longest whiskers!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Down with the Creeping Crud

I haven't forgotten everyone, the soap production has come to a screeching halt until the creeping crud makes its exit out of my house.  I came down with the affliction on Friday afternoon...suddenly and swiftly it settled in, and still have not gotten over it.  My husband and son now both have it.  Today we all spent the day off work together nursing our ailments.  Since I work around kids and food for my full-time job, health regulations are that I need to be symptom and/or fever free for 24 hours before I can return to work.  As of this afternoon I am still running a 100 degree F fever.  I have an amazing team in the kitchen aat school and they do a fabulous job pulling it together in my absence so I can focus on getting better.  The plus in all of the current situation is this will behind me before winter vacation starts in 11 days! 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Homemade Orange Cleaner

The other day I stumbled across a recipe on Joybilee Farm blog  for making homemade orange cleaner .  As I have a lot of beautiful old woodwork in my house, I was curious and anxious to test this out! 

Two simple ingredients...citrus peels and white vinegar....and time to "brew" for the next 2-3 weeks.  Once my concoction is ready for testing I will post an update.  I need more orange peels to fill up my gallon jug, first.  :) 

It has been a couple hours since I started the mixture and these photos were taken. and I am already noticing that the vinegar has already started to take on an orange hue. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Soothing Lavender

Yesterday the school where I work had a half day and I wasted no time getting home to play in the soap room. My enthusiasm escalated with pure delight at the sight of a brown cardboard box waiting for me on the porch when I pulled in the essential and fragrance oils! First out of the box...Lavender Essential Oil! This called for a triple batch & three molds to get through this soap making session.

Freshly poured Lavender Goat Milk Soap

Purple swirls were dancing in my head...can you tell?  These lovely logs of soap were made with Goat Milk using the same same formula I was playing with the night before.  I was taking a huge gamble by making a triple batch before knowing how the goat milk was going to factor into the soap behavior.  I love living on the edge sometimes, and this time it worked to my benefit. 
Here is a closer look at one of the molds full of freshly poured soap.  I love the white and purple contrast and cannot wait to see what the "inside" of the logs look like.  It will have to wait until tomorrow as I will be busy tonight and no time for soaping.  I am really holding out for a snow day tomorrow, we have not had one yet this school year and I am so ready to have one of those "unplanned" days off work.  :)   

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Loving those RazzNilla Bars!

I'm really loving the new soap formula I played with yesterday. Totally delighted with the "inside" look of the soap log when I cut them into bars, from the pour to the cut, I'm in love!. The entire downstairs is smelling like Razz Nilla, even overpowering the strong Rosemary Mint already curing, and the triple batch of freshly poured soap I made this afternoon which I will blog about tomorrow. Now the true test will be once the soap is fully cured when I can take some soap to the shower to test it out!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

RazzNilla is Back in the House!

I had the evening to myself and took to the soap room once again, after I tucked dinner into the oven to do its thing.  RazzNilla is one of my all time favorite soaps, and second best seller after the Kitchen Soap.  The mad scientist in me decided to tweak the soap formula a touch, and play away.  This time I used water instead of goat milk because I wanted to see how the formula behaved before advancing to goat milk.  I am anxious to see how this one turns out when it is ready to come out of the mold and cut into bars...but most of all, I can't wait for the cure time to pass by so I can test the new formula.  It is always a mystery until then.  It is hard to see the swirls on top as I used my cell phone to take the pictures, and the lighting at night doesn't exactly do me any favors, either. 

RazzNilla Soap

Monday, February 4, 2013

Green Apple Goat Milk Soap Snafu

Saturday I made a second batch of soap that caused me some grief.  As soon as I poured the fragrance into the soap it immediately started seizing up and I was scrambling to get it into the mold... glob, plop, mash, mush, smush...well, you get the idea.  I did manage to get some color mixed into part of the soap before it was no longer working for me.  In the past I have used this particular fragrance with no issues, so I'm thinking the addition of the Goat Milk might have had something to do with it. I have to admit it was looking pretty bad and I had no ambition to take a photo but now I wish I had. 

To make matters worse, the soap began heating up and I was fearing the goat milk would scorch so I yanked it out of the mold, it was mostly solid going into the mold, so I didn't worry about it leaking everywhere.  Even outside the mold the soap was still slightly warm when I got up Sunday morning and I have to admit...the UGLIEST log of soap I have ever made.  It smells amazing, so I hated to see it go to waste.

Green Apple Soap Balls
What to do?  I grabbed the grater and shredded up the entire log of soap.  Dry it out?  Throw it out?  Rebatch?  As the soap was quite fresh and still warm when I grated it up I took my chances to treat it like playdough.  After donning my gloves, I squished and kneaded and had fun playing with the otherwise ugly soap...and transformed it into cute soap balls just the perfect size for keeping by the sink for hand washing. 

I guess we shall ride the storm and see what happens during the cure time.  Stay tuned for an update.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Rosemary Mint Goat Milk Soap

Freshly poured Rosemary Mint Goat Milk Soap
 Yesterday after cutting all of the Kitchen Soap I made a batch of Rosemary Mint Goat Milk Soap.  I decided this one needed some swirls, and chose to make two colors ~ green and a blue/green.  The mixture behaved very well, and I was absolutely delighted with the way it turned out after the pour. 

Today I cut the end off the slab of soap because I just couldn't wait to see what it looked like inside.  The soap needs to dry out a few more days before I continue cutting the bars, but I wanted to share what it looks like on the inside of the log. 
View inside the log of soap

It is really hard to see the two different colors.  I even had a hard time distinguishing them apart up close.  It still turned out pretty cool and I'm really liking the look.  Smells absolutely amazing!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Fun in the Soap Kitchen

Logs of Kitchen Soap
I have the day to play around in the soap room.  First off I needed to cut bars out of the logs of Kitchen soap that were made the other night to make room for more soapy creations in the works for today.  This batch turned out much darker this time because I increased the amount of coffee used and it was a darker roast than I have used in the past.  To achieve that dark coffee color in the soap I mix the fresh coffee grounds into the lye water when I mix it together which in turn "brews" the coffee and turns the lye water a very dark brown, almost black color.  When the coffee/lye water is mixed with the oils the color becomes a more muted brown color.   

In the lot of soap making supplies that I purchased last weekend, there was a soap cutter  guide which I was delighted to put to use.  The old method of cutting soap was to pull out the tape measure, mark, then cut the bars.  Often the bars were uneven in size, and harder to keep my cutter from going down straight. With this nifty gadget I ended up with a bit more even size bars, and it was so much easier to cut the bars.  I would have never considered purchasing a cutting guide had it not been included in the purchase, but now I wouldn't cut the bars without it.  I ended up with less waste and one more bar of soap compared to cutting them by hand. 

Cut bars of Kitchen Soap
The bars are now cut and on the rack curing.  Now that I have made room for more molds to be put to use, it's time to head back into the soap kitchen and be creative!