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October Goals (Blogtober 4)

October GoalsGoals.  Goals, goals goals… Why do I set them? Do I achieve more in the months that I set proper goals than I do in the months that I don’t?  Yes, yes I do.  Granted, I’ve not done any empirical research to back up this assertion, so perhaps I should say “I think I do” or “I’m pretty sure I do“, but to be honest, I don’t really care.  I’m a listaholic and I like little more than to tick things off lists.  Goals are REALLY up my street, so let’s crack on with the goals for this month.

The Website

I really, really want to get the website finished this month, however I’ve not idea how long that’s going to take, and I want this to be a measurable goal. I need to spend some time taking some more photographs (one day I’ll get some professionally done but until then, it’s diy all the way baby…)  I also need to move the blog over to the new website, but I’m hoping my other half can do that – there has to be some perks to being married to an IT professional eh? So, I’m going to commit to working on the website for at least eight hours this month – that’s a measurable goal that I think is achievable, so we’ll see how close to launch that takes us.

The Blog

It’s Blogtober don’t you know?! There will be 31 more posts on the blog at the end of the month than there was at the beginning of the month.  That’s a goal and a half I reckon!!

Make a Lotion or Cream.  

Back in August, I was honoured to be gifted an amazing book on making skin care – Luscious Lotions, Decadent Creams & Nourishing Conditioners: 30 Emulsified Lotion Recipes and Detailed Instructions.  The giver was none other than the author herself, Lisa of Aquarian Soap, and I’ve been itching to try something out of the book since I received it. So, this month I’ll be making at least one recipe out of Lisa’s book and of course, sharing the results in a post.

So there we go. Three main goals.  I also need to make more Christmas soaps, wrap and label a shed load of Christmas soaps, keep up with regular soap restocks, design and make up a selection of gift sets and make LOTS of bath bombs.  Throw into the mix a Craft Show that I’m organising in my village for Saturday 21st October and it’s probably a good thing that I like being busy 😀

Oh, and one little one personal one for the road – I want, need, to get back into running. So, despite the fact that I’ve not run a single metre for a couple of months, I’m planning on running 50km this month (shoot me now).

Back tomorrow,

Vickx

 

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September Goals Reviewed (Blogtober 3)

I had three goals for September:

  1. Website
  2. Christmas Soaps
  3. 8-10 blog posts

Website

I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still not there. I’m really been struggling to find the time to sit down and focus on getting it ready for launch (just see yesterday’s post for how busy I was last week) but I can’t fret too much about it, I just need to keep going. It’ll get there.

Christmas Soaps

YES! 60 bars each of Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree and Warm Gingerbread made last month.  Last year I only made 30 bars of each, which wasn’t quite enough, so I was aiming to double that this year – boom! BUT there’s been so much interest thus far that I’ve decided to go for 90 bars of each. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but considering the big Christmas fair I have the first weekend in December, I’d rather have too many than not enough.  I’m lucky that I started making them early enough that it won’t be a problem to make more during the next couple of weeks and still have them ready for the start of the festive season.

I still haven’t taken ‘proper’ photographs of these three, but this is what I do have so far in case you’ve not seen them yet:

Warm Gingerbread
Warm Gingerbread
Candy Cane
Candy Cane
Frosted Christmas Tree
Frosted Christmas Tree

Publish 8-10 Blog Posts

I published 7 posts last month.  Didn’t quite hit my target, but, if I’m completely honest, I was holding back a little, knowing that I would be trying to post 31 times this month.  There were a few times I thought, “Ooh, that would make a good blog post” and then immediately thought “Ah, no, I should save that for next month…”  Basically self-sabotage, ha!!

Back tomorrow with my goals for October – no prizes for guessing what at least two of them will be 😀

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Goals: September 2017

September Goals

Does anyone else feel like September is a bit of a fresh start? Almost like a mini New Year if you will.  It’s always been the same for me, probably because it’s the start of the academic year, and therefore was often a time of change during my younger days.

Anyway, this September, things get serious for The Soap Mine.  My youngest starts full time school next week, and I’ve known for a couple of years that this September will be a pivotal month for the business.  Up until now I’ve had to work during the evenings and weekends, but going forward I’ll have 22 more hours a week to really grow and take this business forward.  (I’ll continue to work in the Village Pre-school for 8 hours a week – on Wednesdays and Thursdays, for the time being)  Having said that, it won’t actually  be 22 hour MORE, as I’ve no intention of continuing to work all evenings and weekends like I’ve had to do this last couple of years.  I’m taking some time back for me!

Ok, back on task. There really should be only one goal for September – get the website up and running.  I’ve made a start – today I spent a couple of hours inputting text and uploading photographs – but it’s going to be quite a long process if today’s anything to go by. Many of my photos need to be re-shot too so that may take some time.  Part of the website launch will involve migrating this blog onto the new site – I have no idea how that’s going work – am I likely to lose all my readers in one fell swoop or will you all somehow, magically, be redirected to the new site? We’ll see I guess :-/

But one goal’s just not going to cut it this month. I need to get the majority of my Christmas soaps made if they’re going to be cured and wrapped by the beginning of November. I also want to get back into the swing of regular blog posts too. I’ve committed to doing Blogtober again this year, but aiming for 8 – 10 during September should keep me on my toes.

So there we go. Website, Christmas soaps and blog posts.  Together with the ongoing restocks, they’re the priorities for this month. What are yours?

 

 

 

 

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Well, that was June…

I can’t be the only one who’s gobsmacked that we’re halfway through the year? The days are already getting shorter and I’ve started thinking about Christmas specials – and all this before the summer holidays officially begin 😱

At the beginning of the month I posted some goals for June – here’s how I got on…

1. Research, and make some test batches of, lip balm  ✅ After a bit of research I came up with a few recipes that I wanted to try, and made up a first batch:

Lip balm freshly poured
Lip balm freshly poured
Finished Lip Balm
Finished Lip Balm

I already love this one, but I’m only keeping one for myself – the rest are going out to testers.  I still have a couple of recipes to try.

2. Finish making the summer specials  ✅ I’m considering keeping one of them – ‘Yr Wyddfa’ – all year round as I think it’ll be pretty popular, living as we do at the foot of said mountain!

3. Create a ‘Core Range’ post for bathbombs  ✅ This link is proving so handy to send out to potential stockists!

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb
Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

4. Post at least nine times here on the blog – oh so close! Still, I posted 8 times, and if I’d got my backside into gear and posted this on Friday night like I should have, I would have hit my target.

Not bad going eh? Thanks for reading 😊 back soon!

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Goals for June

I am fully aware that we’re already a good quarter through the month, but I’ve been meaning to post this for days.  I’ve not set any goals for a few months, and I kind of miss them.  So with no further ado, this is what I hope to achieve this month, business-wise.

  1. Research, and make some test batches, of lip balm.
  2. Finish making the summer special soaps – I’m halfway there, still another 90 bars to go.
  3. Create a ‘Core Range’ post for bathbombs, much like this one that I did for soap. I recently received my first wholesale bathbomb order, and I need to have an easy link to send to potential customers.
  4. Post at least nine times here on the blog.

Just four specific goals – fingers crossed they shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve – I’ll post an update at the end of the month.

And, just because this is such a short, photo-free post, here’s a picture of one of those summer specials, just cut (and bevelled) Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands), that I wrote about and showed in the mould in my last weekly update.

Traeth Craig Du
Traeth Craig Du

Thanks for reading, back soon!

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Another month gone…

I’m in holiday mode again. It’s May Day bank holiday here today, so even though Easter seems like just yesterday, we’re enjoying another long weekend, and I didn’t even think to get my weekly round up post done yesterday.  (*Ahem* If I’m honest, it did cross my mind briefly last night, but by that point we were binge watching Dexter on Netflix and enjoying rather nice bottle of red 😀 It’s all about balance eh?!)

This week saw me making a start on the summer specials – Lemon Verbena Confetti. I’ve not got round to taking a photograph of this year’s version yet, but this is a photo from last year to give you an idea…

Lemon Verbena Confetti
Lemon Verbena Confetti

The Lemon Verbena fragrance oil smells absolutely amazing, but it’s such a fast mover that I was in two minds whether to use it again this year.  In the end my (and my customers’) love for the fragrance won out, and last Thursday I made two batches. It was worse than I remembered 🙁  I’m in the middle of writing a post about it, and I’ll definitely have some cut photos of the recent batches by then.

The rest of the week was spent fulfilling orders (inc one for a brand new stockist, Crumpton Hill Farm Shop in Herefordshire), end of month accounts and wrapping & labelling for the monthly Porthmadog Craft Fair on Saturday, including these:

Botanica
Botanica (Lavender, lemon & lime essential oils)
Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)
Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)

This week we also enjoyed the fourth birthday of the littlest Soapminer but I’m ever so glad such important birthdays only happen twice a year!!

Oh, and guess what?  I actually read a whole book in April!  Yep, I managed to finish The Girl on the Train yesterday and it’s definitely whetted my appetite to read more.

Goals.  Should I or shouldn’t I?  January through to March, one of my monthly goals was to read a whole book.  Failed on three counts.  In April I had no goals whatsoever and I read a book.  In February and March I wanted to create a wholesale linesheet, or at least put all the information into one place for customers to access.  Didn’t happen either month, but in April I managed to post about the Core Range.  Is it just a coincidence or am I subconsciously sabotaging my own efforts when I have a ‘goal’ to achieve? Why would I do that though? Am I asking too much of myself? Perhaps I should just have the one goal until it becomes a habit and then introduce another… On a personal level that’d probably work well, but I need to be a little more productive and proactive workwise, and push myself a little more, not less…

So here’s the deal – I’ll give myself just one personal goal, and that’s to read a book (I so very nearly wrote ‘two books’ before I realised how utterly ridiculous I was being :-D) My challenge now is to find a book that will grip me as much The Girl on the Train. To that end I did a quick ‘what should I read next if I liked…’ Google search, and I now have 7 books on order with my local library. I’m hoping that at least one or two will arrive pretty quickly and I can make a start.

Workwise there are a few things I want to achieve, alongside the regular restocks, and I don’t think I’m being over-ambitious here either:

  1. Get my facial bars out to testers
  2. Make trial batches of lipsalve
  3. Get back to posting on the blog at least eight times during May

I also have another 200 mini guest bars, for three different customers, to be cracking on with this week and my regular Tuesday (tomorrow) night session has been hijacked by an meeting that I’m expected to attend, so I’m having to bring my soaping session forward to tonight in order to have soap to cut at my regular Thursday night soapmaking presentation. Juggling, always juggling, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon with more soapy updates.

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March Goals Revisited

Is anyone else incredulous that we’re a quarter of the way through 2017 already? I’m still recovering from Christmas, really should be thinking about my summer specials, and yet I’ve been so busy this last few months that I’m still playing catch up, stock-wise… March also saw the first of my monthly craft fairs, and the first of my weekly Thursday evening soaping presentations… I may be setting the scene here for what’s coming next 😀 😀

Right, so, at the beginning of the month I set out my goals for March. February wasn’t the most successful month goals wise (though rather good business-wise, so who’s complaining?) and I was convinced I could do better this month.  I intended to:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet.  Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‘must have’. ASAP…
  • Make a test batch of facial soap
  • Post 8 times on the blog

I’ve not got round to the Line Sheet. It’s been on my mind constantly, and I’ve come up with a workaround for the time being – within the next week or so I’ll write a blog post outlining my core range.  Once that’s posted I can send the link to anyone enquiring, and then when the time comes to design the Line Sheet I’ll have all the info in one place, ready to go.

Nor have I managed to make the facial soap. Oh, this one is frustrating me.  I REALLY want to get down to it, but each soaping session I manage to carve out of my week is devoted to core range soap and getting stock levels up. It’s going back onto the goals list for April, and I think I have a chance of actually doing it *crosses fingers*

But the third goal?  Write eight blog posts? Phew – including this one, I wrote ten – yey!!

My personal goals were to run 30km and to read. Read anything, and for any length of time.  I only managed to run 24km, but considering I’ve not been for a run since the 19th of the month, I don’t think that’s too bad.  I’ve spent some time this month training for (and earning) my yellow kickboxing belt, so I’ve not exactly been idle lol.

I have read. Not a lot, but on the few evenings I’ve managed to get to bed before midnight I’ve picked up a book and got through a few pages before my husband gently lifts the book away and switches of my bedsight light because I’ve fallen asleep… I’ve realised that I’m not Superwoman, I can’t do everything that I’d LOVE to do, never mind the things that I’d like to do, so if I can, I will, but reading is coming off my goals list.

Thanks for reading, April goals to follow soon.

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The Sad Story of February’s Goals…

Remember a month ago when I posted about my success regarding January’s goals? It had been a good month but, was I too full of hubris? Was I perhaps a little smug? Were February’s goals desperately ambitious and unattainable? I can only assume so because, my friends, February was a washout. Suddenly (seriously, without warning :-D) the end of the month arrived and was devoid of goal success.

So, here’s how bad it was:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet.  Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‘must have’. Oops Still need to do this asap
  • Make a test batch of facial soap Oops Still want to do this asap
  • Make 3 Spring Special soaps Oops Have decided against this – I’m struggling to keep up with the core range at the moment
  • Post 8 times on the blog  Oops Only 6 posts in February 🙁

The personal goals weren’t much better. I was aiming to run 50km during February, and actually managed *ahem* 12km.  I seriously lost my running mojo very early in the month.  I’ve missed it though, and have arranged to go with a friend tomorrow morning, so hopefully I’ll get back into it soon enough.  I also wanted to read more. Well, I have read more, but still not a whole book, so back to the drawing board with that one too.  Lastly, I wanted to do some baking.  Well that much I did do. I make a rather lovely Victoria sponge (but rubbish photograph) for my mum’s birthday, and a couple of batches of Welsh Cakes (which I’m going to post about very soon!)

Victoria Sponge
Victoria Sponge
Welsh Cakes
Welsh Cakes

So, a couple of small wins in a big sea of fails un-met challenges 😀

I’m not, however, despondent. By no means.  I’ve been ridiculously busy during February.  I’ve taken on two new BIG wholesale customers, and I’ve been snowed under with making, wrapping and labelling.  It’s all good stuff, but it does feel like I’m running to stay still, so I firmly believe that goals are still a good and necessary thing, helping to keep me challenged and moving forward.  To that end, I’m going to reset last months business goals, excluding the one about Spring specials:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet.  Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‘must have’. ASAP…
  • Make a test batch of facial soap
  • Post 8 times on the blog

And as far as personal goals go, I’m going back to basics – run 30km and read a book. That’s it.  I’m taking part in a Library Bingo Challenge which is encouraging me to get to the library more often, and which might motivate me to find the time to read more often, but I’ll post about that another time.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back soon – I will smash that ‘8 post goal’ this month LOL

 

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Goals: February 2017

February will see an increase in the pace of restocking the core range of soaps and (finally) bathbombs. In addition, the plan is to:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet.  Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‘must have’. ASAP…
  • Make a test batch of facial soap
  • Make 3 Spring Special soaps
  • Post 8 times on the blog

On a personal note, I have these (particularly un-SMART goals). I’m going to run 50km this month, read something (yep, that’s deliberately vague as I have. absolutely no idea what yet – better decide soon eh?!), and do some baking. I LOVE baking but never seem to find the time.  Maybe a cake or two, maybe some cookies, I don’t know,  but I WILL bake two somethings 😀

A short post, but it gives February some structure. Thanks for reading and keeping me accountable!

 

 

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January 2017 – Goals Roundup

So that was January! Four and a half weeks of my least favourite time of year, but you know what? It’s been pretty productive.  Back on the 3rd January I posted my goals for the month, and I’m really happy with what’s been achieved since then.

I completed my tax return.  Deadline was today, 31st January, but I made sure it was one of the first things I ticked off my list. Missing that deadline was not an option!

I finally got round to making some Castile soap – something that had been on my list of things to do for aaaages. I’ll be posting an update on the cure is progressing towards the end of next month:

Castile Soap, first attempt
Castile Soap, first attempt

I’ve done a fair bit of research for my facial bar. I’m planning on making two – a charcoal bar for younger / combination skin, and a bar aimed at older skin.  I have a good idea of the recipes now, and hope to make some trial bars next month.

Finally I hoped to post on this blog at least 8 times. Well, this post is the eighth of the month, so a big fat tick for that one too…

I was gentle with myself as far as the personal goals went – I wanted to run 30km, and read a book, any book, just to try to get back into the habit of reading again. Well, I smashed the running – I’ve run 65.5km (!!) during January, and it would have been more had I not picked up a bug which morphed into a cold towards the end of the month which meant I only really ran for the first three weeks or so.  I’ve also started kickboxing once a week, which is hard work but amazing fun.

The reading went pretty well too.  I finished the book that I’d been crawling through for the last three months of 2016 – Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages by Gaston Dorren It’s an extraordinarily interesting book (if you’re as fascinated by languages as I am) and a very easy read. Each stand alone chapter is only a few pages long but packed with facts that made me ooohh and aaahhh with delight as I learned about the vast similarities and differences that exist within the languages of Europe.  I also got halfway through a novel – The Magicians (Book 1) by Lev Grossman. I enjoyed it enough at the beggining, but I had a nagging feeling that it was aimed at a younger readership – maybe a YA novel? Turns out it’s not, but I can’t get excited about the characters, and have decided life’s too short, and reading time too precious, to continue with something that I’m not ABSOLUTELY loving.  I only found out today that it’s been made into a TV series in the US. Have you seen it?  Is it any good?  Anyway, I now need to find a better book to read for February, ‘cos it’s going on that goals list again 🙂

So there we go – January goals smashed… I was going to include my February goals in this post but it’s got a bit longer than planned, so I’ll leave them for tomorrow – which gives me a little longer to think about them too 😉

Don’t forget to comment below if there’s a particular novel that you would absolutely, definitely recommend I read – I’m open to all and any suggestions and genres (except horror – I don’t do horror)

Thank you if you’ve read this far – the fact that someone might actually read what I write is definitely an incentive to stick to my plans.

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Making Castile Soap

Traditional castile soap is made of nothing more than olive oils and a sodium hydroxide solution, and its origins lie in the soap that has been made for many centuries in Aleppo (Syria), from local olive & laurel berry oils. When the recipe was brought to Europe (specifically the Castile area of Spain, with its abundance of olive trees) it would appear that laurel berry oil was hard to come by, leading to it being dropped completely, becoming the 100% olive oil soap that we know today. It’s considered to be the gentlest of soaps – kind to sensitive skin often used as a baby soap (though personally I don’t think very small babies need any soap at all!)

At the beginning of the year I decided to make it one of my goals for January, and hey presto, last week I made my first ever batch of castile.  I don’t always bother with test batches, and I didn’t think an awful lot could go wrong with this one, so dove right in with a full sized batch. The recipe was simply:

  • 1500g Olive Oil
  • 570g Water
  • 193g Sodium Hydroxide (NaOH)

I used my usual method – made up the lye solution and left it to cool down to room temperature.  For my regular bars I melt together the hard oils/butters, then add the liquid oils and let it cool down to room temperature, but there was none of that faffing about with this one – I just measured my olive oil out of the bottle and into my mixing bowl.

Olive Oil
Olive Oil

Then added the NaOH and whisked until it was emulsified:

Oil / NaOH Emulsified
Oil / NaOH Emulsified

Gave it a bit of a mix with the handblender until it traced:

Soap Batter at Trace
Soap Batter at Trace

And poured it into the mould:

Castile in the mould
Castile in the mould

I knew from my reading that I probably wouldn’t be able to unmould / cut after my usual 48 day wait, so I left it a little longer, then kind of forgot about it for a couple of days (oops) and eventually unmoulded it 8 days after it was poured. I was happy to note that it was a lot whiter than it originally appeared to be:

Castile 8 days later
Castile 8 days later

Perhaps I’ll only leave it three or four days next time as it was the hardest batch I’ve ever cut, and I feared for the wire on my poor Bud soap cutter.  I took it slowly, and the end result was this:

Castile freshly cut
Castile freshly cut

The usual recommendation is to allow castile soap to cure for a good six months, if not more, as it’s notoriously slow to harden. I’m not convinced though, and will be testing it often in the next few months to see how it’s developing.

By the way, I’ve never actually used castile soap myself. The things I’ve heard haven’t always been particularly positive – the lather has even been described as ‘slimy’, so I’m going to (try to) put the opinions of others out of my head and be as objective as possible.  Stay tuned and I’ll keep you updated 🙂

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Hello 2017!

Another year, another set of goals… To be honest, last year’s weren’t a huge success – on a personal level I didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped, and I certainly didn’t run as far as I wanted to. Luckily, I’m not anywhere near as bothered as perhaps I should be 😀 On a business level I achieved two out four of my goals – I generated significantly more income than I did in 2015 and I nailed down my bath bomb recipe / got my assessment paid for and certified, so I can now crack on with making and selling them.  Lip balms and website are back on the list for this year…

Speaking of which, I’m going down the route of monthly goals this year.  Last year’s goals weren’t time specific enough, so without any further ado, here are my personal and business goals for January:

Personal

Run 30km.  Yep, I’m running again.  Last year I started off with a rather gung ho attitude and injured myself. I was out of action for a good couple of months and never really got back on track properly after that. This time I’m starting very gently. I’ve run 6.5km so far, so I think 30km is achievable.

Read one book.  Any book. Just read dammit!! We’ll see… This is one I may have to give up on until the kids are a bit older.

Business

January is usually a quiet-ish month, but I’m generally kept busy restocking after the Christmas period, so that’s a given, not a goal. In addition I want to:

Complete my tax return.  This is not optional. It has to be done by 31st January, and WILL be done by 31st January, so I know I’m onto a winner with this one 🙂

Make a batch of Castile soap.  Castile is a pure olive oil soap, with no other oils or butters, which needs at least 6 months cure time. I’ve wanted to make it for a while but not got round to it. I figure if I put it down here as a goal I might be more motivated to find the time.

Work on a formula for a facial bar.  I probably won’t actually make it this month, but I’d like to start researching and formulating a recipe so that I can try making this soon.

Post a minimum of 8 times on the blog.

And there we go, nothing really groundbreaking but, fingers crossed, they’re achievable. If you’re reading this, thank you!  It’s you I’m counting on to keep me on track, if only because I have to report back here in four weeks time – hopefully with my head held high 😀

 

 

 

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Commitment

I’m slipping.  After successfully completing Blogtober, I planned on continuing to post at least twice a week, but because I don’t have that challenge mentality it’s just not happening. I need a plan.  I need structure and regularity (and a little more determination :-D).

Commitment
                        Commitment

So here’s the deal. I’m making a commitment, now, to post a minimum of twice a week, most likely on a Sunday and a Wednesday. I plan on doing a weekly roundup on a Sunday evening of everything soapy (or maybe the top 5 soapy events / the best soapy stuff) that has/have happened that week. I’d also like to start sharing some book reviews (I have an AWFUL lot of soapmaking books, for starters) and also posts about other products that I’ve tried and enjoyed.

Somewhat disconcertingly, out of all my Blogtober posts, the one that received the most ‘likes’ was the recipe for a Swiss Roll. Ohhhh, OK. Nothing to do with soap at all.  Well, this blog is supposed to be about my soaping life, and baking is part of that, so I will probably share some more of my favourites – occasionally.

I do have plenty of ideas for the Wednesday blog posts, I just need to buckle down and write them. Now that I’ve made a commitment to post more regularly, I think I will!

 

 

 

 

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October Goals – Blogtober Day 2

I’m pretty sure  I should be doing this every month – having a list of goals would probably lend focus to my work wouldn’t it?  October is going to pretty busy even without this daily blogging malarkey, but this is what I’m hoping to achieve by October 31st.

  1. Get my website up and running.  This has been a goal for so long, it’s become a bit of a joke, but I know what needs to be done now and I want the website live, even if it’s not perfect to begin with.
  2. Finish organising, and successfully hold a craft fair in my village.  This is a biggie – not something I’ve done before and it’s a bit of a learning curve.
  3. Prepare a wholesale linesheet.  I’ve managed so far without a formal linesheet, but wholesale enquiries are increasing, and it’s no longer good enough to be directing interested parties to my Facebook page to see photographs (especially given that I don’t even have a website yet).
  4. Prepare a stock of bath bombs. I’ve finally perfected my recipe, and applied for my assessment so that I can sell them.  I’m hoping the paperwork will come through so that I can start making them in readiness for the festive season.
  5. Post at least 31 blog posts – eeeek!!

So much to do, so much to learn!

Thank you for reading – I’m off now to make as start on that lot up there ⇑⇑⇑

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Blogtober Blogging Challenge, Day 1

When I woke up this morning, I reached for my phone (and my glasses – not sure when exactly THAT became a prerequisite for reading my phone screen but it’s now automatic – arghhh) and checked my Twitter feed. At 6.30am I had no idea that such a thing as Blogtober even existed but by 6.45, I was doing it.

The Blogtober Challenge is all about blogging every day, for a month.  You may know that I recently committed to update the blog more often but I’m still struggling to do so, mostly due to time constraints. So how on earth I think I’m going to do this, I’m not really sure, but hey that’s what a challenge is all about eh?!

As far as I can tell, many, if not most, bloggers out there are following a set list of prompts for each day of October,  but I didn’t want to be quite so constrained, so I’ve created my own list of potential blog post topics. So as well as the usual soapy stuff I’ll also be writing about more personal topics and day-to-day life. They may not be long posts (in fact, they’re very unlikely to be!)  but If nothing else, you’ll get to know a little more about the person behind The Soap Mine!

If there’s anything particular from this list of topics that you’d absolutely like me to write about, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to oblige.

  • Goals for October
  • Soapy (and related) stuff
  • My (non-soapy) daytime job
  • How/why I started making soap
  • Where I live
  • World Smile Day – things that make me smile
  • Weekly wrap-ups
  • If I could go anywhere in the world…
  • A day in my life
  • Instagram tips
  • Favourite IGers
  • Recently read, currently reading, want to read…
  • Favourite recipes
  • Book reviews
  • Pet peeves
  • My garden
  • Other crafts
  • My pinterest obsession

Anyone else committed to doing this or done it before?  Please do share any tips, ideas or advice you may have (and leave a link so that I can follow you too)

 

 

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Bath bombs – I dipped a toe…

We’re nearly a quarter of the way through the year (already!!) and I’ve not been making much headway with those goals, so I decided to give bath fizzies, aka bath bombs, a go.  I’ve always called them bath bombs, but apparently Lush have patented the name and now everyone’s scared silly to call them ‘bombs’. I’ll continue to call them bath bombs until I come up with my own clever, witty and amusing name. Obviously…

So, bath bombs.  I have a vague recollection of making mini bath bombs in a craft class I took once many years ago, but this was the first time I’d attempted to make them from scratch at home. I duly did my research, and one book and a bunch of Facebook groups later I was ready to give it a go.  I started with the simplest possible recipe: 1 to 0.5 Bicarbonate of Soda/Citric Acid, water, colour & fragrance:

Bicarb & Citric Acid
Bicarb & Citric Acid

For my first try I added the fragrance oil to the dry ingredients in the bowl, and added the colour to the water:

Water & Colour
Water & Colour

I spritzed and mixed, mixed and spritzed, until I thought I had enough moisture in there, and, of course, I added too much, not that you can tell from this pic:

Ready for moulding
Ready for moulding

I used a spherical mould in two halves and went for it.  It was pretty successful initially:

No 1
No 1!

But as I made more, and left them to stand a while – uh oh!

Expanding bath bombs!
Expanding bath bombs!

For the second batch I added cornflour into the mix. This is supposed to give smoother bath bombs, and also helps keep the mix stable while adding the liquid (ie helps keep the fizz from happening too soon). This time I added the fragrance and the colour directly to the dry mix, and spritzed with water from the bottle. I got a bit of bubbling as they dried out, but these were much more successful:

Bombs with cornflour
Bombs with cornflour

For the third lot I used the same dry ingredients – bicarb, citric acid and cornflour, but tried spritzing witch hazel (with a little added yellow colouring) rather than water.

I crumbled up the first, failed, lot, added a little cornflour and remoulded them, which seemed to work just fine.

By carefully making sure all the flawed sides were facing back or down, I managed to get a half decent picture of all them together 😀 😀

My first Bath Bombs!
My first Bath Bombs!

Now, I’m not generally a huge bath bomb user, so I handed some out to friends to get some opinions, and I’m happy to say they’ve gone down well. I personally couldn’t see much difference between the second (cornflour / water) and third (cornflour / witch hazel), so I’m not sure yet which is the best.

I can’t start selling yet though.  In the UK (and the whole of the EU) each bath & beauty product that we sell must be covered by a full Safety Assessment, issued by a qualified chemist. Assessments aren’t cheap, but they are a legal requirement and are there to ensure that members of the public can rest assured that the products they buy and use are safe. So, there’s more experimentation on the horizon (I’d like to incorporate a little skin loving cocoa butter next) and once I’m happy with the recipe I’ll get my Safety Assessment done so that I can start adding them to the range – woop!

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Business Goals (finally)

I promised weeks ago to update on my 2106 business goals, but I’ve found it so difficult to decide what my priorities should be. The days have passed and I’ve pondered and prevaricated, mainly because the next 12 months could, hopefully, bring some serious disruption to my soaping.  When we bought our home 18 months ago, we knew we wanted to build an extension at the back, and within that extension would be a dedicated soaping area (woop!). We’ve finally had the planning permission through, and are hoping that the extension will be built this year.

All great stuff, BUT it does mean I’m unwilling to plan for expansion, or an increase in the number of retail outlets that carry my stock, for fear of being unable to keep up with demand if, as is likely, my current soaping area is out of action for a period of time.  It’s difficult to plan for, as it’s by no means certain that it will go ahead as planned, or if it does, how long it will take. So my goals for this year are modest and *crosses both fingers* easily achievable:

  1. Generate at least as much income as I did in 2015. If it’s more – happy days!
  2. Finalise my recipe for bath bombs / fizzes, organise – and pay for – the safety assessment (a legal requirement in the UK), and start selling them.
  3. Lip balms – as above
  4. FINALLY get the website up and running. This one shouldn’t be a problem, but given that it’s been ‘in production’ for over 2 years it’s going to take more focus than I’ve had thus far to get it done.

There, four goals. Nothing too taxing there is there?  We’ll see…

And a quick soapy pic – here’s a stack of a recent batch of ‘Delicious’, with a lovely upside down depiction of the island of Cyprus in the middle 😀

 

Delicious
Delicious
Cyprus
Cyprus

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon!