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Reader Questions #1 (Blogtober 10)

Back in mid-September I put out an appeal to you lovely people for questions to help me with topic ideas for Blogtober and I wasn’t disappointed.¬† Rather than try to answer them all in one post, there will probably be three posts in total during Blogtober – this here being the first.

Question 1 came from Claire of Saponista, who asked ‘What is your favourite soapmaking oil, and why?’¬† Without a doubt, my favourite soapmaking oil isn’t actually an oil, it’s a butter – cocoa butter, and I can’t imagine making soap without it (that’s a bit of an exaggeration of course – I made castile recently, and there ain’t no cocoa in that, but as a general rule each batch I make contains 10% cocoa butter) Cocoa butter adds skin loving properties to soap, and because I choose not to use palm oil, it also helps a lot with making a nice hard bar.

Question 2 comes from Jo who asked what I do about soaps and bath bombs that aren’t perfect.¬† I’ll be honest, I have my own idea of what a ‘perfect’ drop swirl is, and it’s very rare that I achieve what I see as perfection.¬† Consequently, practically none of my soaps are perfect in my eyes and I’m always striving to make them better. Providing a soap is a good hard bar, even if the design isn’t my best, it’s made available for sale. (Having said that, I’ve just cut one this week that I’m¬†really not happy with¬†– 3kg of soap that is more than likely going to have to go on the reject shelf – but I’m keeping the details of that one for a post later on this month)¬†¬†

Bath bombs, on the other hand, don’t go out unless they’re pretty much perfect.¬† It took me a while to be able to get the mixture to the right consistency every time, but I think I’ve cracked it and it’s rare that I get bombs that aren’t pretty good (but the odd one that doesn’t quite make the grade will always find a place in my kids’ bath!)¬† Interestingly (and this was part of Jo’s question), although I live in a particularly wet part of the country, I haven’t found that the climate or weather conditions have any effect whatsoever on my bomb making abilities.¬† This seems to go contrary to what I’ve heard so many others say about bath bomb making, but there you go, that’s my experience.


Jo – I will write up some of my top tips for bath bomb making in a near-future post – I promise!

Question 3 kind of leads on from the last question, and came from Barb of Scrub Me Down Soap¬†who asked how the weather affects my soaping.¬† This one’s easy – it doesn’t!¬† I live in a mountainous area, but the climate is effectively wet, cloudy, windy and mild.¬† We don’t experience great extremes of temperature, and the only time the weather has ever affected anything to do with my soapmaking was that time my coconut oil unexpectedly melted and made one hell of a mess in my storeroom. It’s ALWAYS solid at room temperature, but that one time – arrghhhhh we just don’t get that kind of heat here often…

Question 4 is another one from Barb – what music do I listen to when soaping?¬† Actually, it’s not always music.¬† I LOVE the radio, and I’m a big fan of BBC Radio 4. It keeps me up to date with current affairs and has the most insanely interesting programmes, on all subjects under the sun.¬† When I do listen to music, it’s inevitably rock music; contemporary rock,¬† 70s rock, or any era in between, including the occasional trip down memory lane to my uni days with 1990s indie rock.

Question 5 is the last one for today, and yet again comes from Barb – where do I buy my stash?¬† I buy my oils and butters from a variety of companies, including LiveMoor,¬†¬†Mystic Moments, and the local Cash&Carry for olive oil. (Anyone else notice how expensive olive oil is at the moment?!!)¬† I buy my soap colours (micas) from U-Makeitup¬†, and my bath bomb colourants from Soaposh.¬† ¬†As for fragrances, I buy most of my fragrance oils from the wonderful Gracefruit¬†(who. by the way, have the BEST customer service) and essential oils, well I’m currently looking for a new supplier, so if you have any recommendations…

Thanks for reading – back tomorrow!

Vickx

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Blogtober 2016, Day 31

I only flippin’ went and did it! ¬†Participation in the Blogtober 2016 challenge was such a random, hasty and last minute decision that, in all honesty, it was highly likely that I would fail. ¬†I realised, after mentally committing myself, that many of the other participants had been (sensibly!) planning ahead, preparing and scheduling posts beforehand. I didn’t have that luxury, having decided approximately 8 hours into the first day of October that this was something I could/should/would do.

Decision made, I had to be clear on what on earth I was going to write about every day. ¬†I didn’t think I would have enough ‘soapy’ topics to cover, so I made sure I had a rough list of other possible topics. As it turned out, I didn’t need to use many of those off-topic ideas – turns out there is an awful lot to share / write about in the soapy world!

Now, here I am, 31 days later with 31 more blog posts under my belt than I had at the beginning of the month. ¬†I did it (!) and it’s been an extremely useful experience – primarily because it’s got me back into the habit of blogging on a regular basis. I’ve discovered during the last month that I really do enjoy writing, but that doing so within such narrow time constraints doesn’t do anything for the standard of what I produce. ¬†It has without a doubt been a case of quantity over quality (sorry about that ūüėČ ) Some of the topics I’ve covered have been done hurriedly and I’ll probably revisit them in greater detail at a later date.

Coincidentally, this post is also my 100th on the blog and I’m determined to keep blogging on a regular basis from now on. ¬†More soap pics, more tutorials, more reviews and more personal ‘meet the maker’ posts (Ooh – they scare me :-D).

Thank you SO much if you’ve stuck with me over the last month, and a double/triple thank you to those of you who’ve rewarded me with the odd ‘like’ or ‘comment’. ¬†It really has helped spur me on, knowing that there is somebody, anybody, out there reading every now and then. ¬†Thank you, thank you, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

 

 

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Banishing Soda Ash – the easy way…

I see a lot of discussion on line about how to deal with soda ash on soap tops. Freshly poured soap is so glossily glorious – it can be a disappointment when you come back to it a day later to find it dulled and marred by an ashy deposit:

Ashy Soap Top
Ashy Soap Top

The ash is formed when the lye (Sodium Hydroxide, NaOH) in the soap reacts with Carbon Dioxide CO¬≤ in the air, and is totally harmless; the soap is no less effective. Nevertheless many find it to be aesthetically displeasing,¬†and I’ve seen many methods used, some fairly elaborate, to eradicate it. ¬†In my early soapmaking days I was advised dip each individual bar into a pan of boiling water. ¬†Yes, this removed the ash and resulted in wonderfully glossy bars, but wow, it was tedious. ¬†I then read that could simply hold each bar in the steam that came from a boiling kettle. Only kettles these days don’t boil continuously – and flicking that switch 20 times a minute was….tedious. ¬†Then I had a lightbulb moment – I could hold the soap in the steam that came from a pan of water at a rollling boil. ¬†Yes, I am FULLY aware that I could have easily missed one of those steps out… That worked too but was still pretty longwinded and let’s be honest, tedious. ¬†There was also the ever present risk of scalding myself trying to use these methods. I came perilously close, believe me.

These days my ash removing regime is simple, fast and effective. I use an ordinary steam iron, on steam setting, to remove the ash from the soap tops before I’ve even unmoulded them. Half of this loaf has already been steamed:

Half Steamed
Half Steamed

My old, but trusty, Morphy Richards…

Steam Iron
Steam Iron

Holding the iron just a couple of inches above the top of the soap, I press the steam button continuously to cover the soap in steam, moving the iron back and forth. This is the result

Steamed top
Steamed top

Easy peasy!  And absolutely zero chance of scalding myself.  It looks freshly poured but is actually fully set up and ready to be unmoulded.  I usually leave it for about 10 minutes to dry off, and then unmould:

Unmoulded batch
Unmoulded batch

And cut – notice how glossy it still is:

On the cutter
On the cutter

After the cut, before the tidy up – perfectly dry and glossy:

Cut Soap, Still Glossy
Cut Soap, Still Glossy

I’ve made a video of the steaming process, but¬†I’m struggling to upload it :-S Once I figure it all out I’ll add it to this post ūüėÄ

 

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Soap tops revisited

As I was putting together yesterday’s ‘Wet Soap Wednesday on a Friday’ post, I was thinking about how much I like soap tops, and remembered that I’d done a post a while back about them. ¬†When I went looking, I was surprised to find it had been almost two years ago: Soap Tops from November 2014. I was also struck by how different those tops were to the way I do things now.¬†So today’s post is a quick round up of my favourite soap tops from more recent times.

First up is a dupe of the DKNY fragrance, Be Delicious – appley, cucumbery and absolutely….Delicious:

Delicious
Delicious

Then there’s a recent batch of Clarity which turned out just beautifully (last night’s batch didn’t look quite as good as this in the mould!)

Clarity
Clarity

The top of this Oatmeal, Milk & Honey batch swirled really nicely:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey
Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

And this batch of Florida Sunrise (now discontinued) looked gorgeous as it started to gel:

Florida Sunrise
Florida Sunrise

Another recently discontinued fragrance – a custom blend called Enigma, looked luscious freshly swirled:

Enigma
Enigma

Finally I just LOVE how this batch of Serenity looked in the mould:

Serenity
Serenity

I’d be lying if I said every single batch looks like these, but I do tend to add a lot more texture to the tops than I used to, and I think I prefer them that way. I guess it’s about time I revised my header photo!!

 

 

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Wet Soap Wednesday……on a Friday

Today was the first chance I’ve had to make soap in a while, so this week’s Wet Soap Wednesday is a little late! I made three batches:

Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH
Clarity, Welsh Rose, OMH

Clarity is fragranced with lemongrass and clary sage essential oils, and coloured with activated charcoal, green mica and titanium dioxide:

Clarity
Clarity

Welsh Rose is made with a rose fragrance oil, coloured with titanium dioxide and two pink micas:

Welsh Rose
Welsh Rose

And finally Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, made with an OMH fragrance oil and coloured with titanium dioxide and mica:

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey
Oatmeal, Milk & Honey

Three more days left of Blogtober 2016 – relief from this incessant posting is imminent ūüėÄ

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Free time? What’s that?

Last month I posted this photo on my Instagram page:

Lovely Language Literature :)
Lovely Language Literature ūüôā

It’s a selection of books I’d bought with some Amazon vouchers I’d received for my birthday back in July. ¬†At various points in the subsequent comments I mentioned that my degree is in Linguistics, and as well as being fluent in a second language (Welsh), I have also studied French, German, Spanish and Russian. ¬†Ever since my teenage years I’ve had a passion for anything to do with language in general, and to this day I have a special interest in the history of language and how different language interrelate.

I was fascinated by the comments this post elicited from other soapmakers – so many are bi- or even multi-lingual, and/or have an interest in history, as well as a huge variety of other interests and hobbies. ¬†Soap, soapmaking and soapy social media have a tendency to dominate my life and I forget to take a break and do something completely different. ¬†Truth be told I struggle to find the time to stop and do something different. ¬†Having a business that is also one’s hobby is not the best combination for a good work/life balance it would appear.¬†In the last six weeks I’ve managed to read just the first 35 pages of one of those books, despite finding it deeply absorbing (I usually manage 1.5 – 2 pages in bed before nodding off, no matter how hard I fight it).

So, go on, tell me what you do in your free time. What are your interests, your passions, and how do you find the time to indulge them?

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Wrapping Gift Sets – A Tutorial

Much of today has been spent putting together gift sets for Saturday’s craft fair:

Gift Sets
Gift Sets
For my Blogtober 2016 Day 26 post (just 5 more to go – hurrah!!) I thought I’d take photographs of the process and share it with you.

  1. Take a (fully cured & bevelled) bar of soap, a co-ordinating facecloth and a wooden soap stand:

Gift Set Step 1
Step 1
2. Fold the facecloth twice to create three layers:

Step 2
Step 2
3.  Fold one third of the length over, and open up the end to create a little pocket:

Step 3
Step 3
4. Fold the other half of the facecloth over into the pocket:

Step 4
Step 4
5. Place the wooden soap stand onto the facecloth:

Step 5
Step 5
6. Place the soap onto the soap stand:

Step 6
Step 6
7.  Take a longish piece of string, ribbon or raffia – I use raffia – and place it under the the facecloth (apologies for the quality of the photo here):

Step 7
Step 7
8. Cross the raffia over like so:

Step 8
Step 8
9. Turn the set over and tie the raffia securely:

Step 9
Step 9
10.  I then slip an information card under the raffia

Step 10
Step 10
11. The secured set, ready for cellophane:

Step 11
Step 11
12.  Place the set, face down, on a large square of cellophane, bring up opposing sides and roll over and secure, as if wrapping a gift:

Step 12
Step 12
Step 13:  Fold up the other two sides – again just like wrapping a gift:

Step 13
Step 13
14.  Cellophane wrapped gift set:

Step 14
Step 14
15.  Take a length of co-ordinating ribbon and labels – I have two labels – one for the soap name and one for the ingredients:

Step 15
Step 15
16. Using sticky tape, stick the ribbon in FACE DOWN on the top right corner of the set, and thread on the labels:

Step 16
Step 16
17. Tie a knot in the ribbon – this makes it much easier to create a half decent bow:

Step 17
Step 17
18.  The finished set – Ta-da!

Step 18
Step 18
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10 Tips for Organising a Craft Fair

10 Tips for Organising a Craft Fair
10 Tips for Organising a Craft Fair

Last Saturday I had a stall at a local craft fair. Not any old craft fair mind you, this was important to me for two reasons. First off, it was right here, in my village – the first one we’ve ever had. Secondly, it was the first craft fair that I’ve organised myself. ¬†It was the culmination of a couple off months of planning, and, if I’m honest, a fair bit of anxiety. ¬†I needn’t have worried – it was a great success, so I thought I’d share with you here a few things to consider if you’d like to organise something similar yourself.

  1. Do your research regarding other markets and craft fairs in the area and make sure your event doesn’t clash with another on the same day. As well as competing for visitors, you’ll also be competing for stallholders.
  2. As soon as you’ve decided on a date, secure your venue. ¬†You don’t want to be inviting stallholders until you’ve confirmed your accommodation for the day.
  3. Invite / organise crafters as far in advance as possible. Many crafters book themselves into markets and craft fairs many months ahead. ¬†It’s also worth considering asking for a deposit on the cost of the table –¬†this decreases the risk of stallholders not turning up on the day.
  4. Ensure that all your stallholders have public liability insurance.
  5. Ensure you know how many tables you can fit into¬†the available space. You don’t want to ask 20 crafters to attend and then find when you’re setting up that you can only fit 19 tables into the room! ¬†It’s definitely worth having a trial ‘set up’ before deciding how many crafters to invite.
  6. Don’t double up on crafts unless it’s a BIG event. ¬†There’s nothing worse for a stallholder than setting up at a fair of, say, 12 stalls to find that there are two or three other stallholders there selling something very similar. It’s not fair on any of them.
  7. Don’t try to charge too much per stall / table, especially¬†if it’s the first time this event has taken place. You won’t have any idea what the footfall is going to be and won’t be able to make any claims as to likely number of visitors.
  8. Advertising, advertising, advertising. You want as many people walking through the door of your venue as possible, so this is an instance where too much advertising is never enough. ¬†Get your event all over Facebook – on your personal feed (ask friends to share), on local selling pages, and on local community sites. Put a small ad in the local newspaper, a paragraph in the parish magazine, get it listed on’What’s Happening in Your Area’ type websites. Make sure there are posters put up in the area. Don’t forget your local tourist bureau and local hotels / guest houses if you live in a popular area for visitors – local crafts are just the thing that they’ll be interested in.
  9. Have a spare cash float or two. ¬†It’s not unheard of for stallholders to arrive at a craft fair without their cash box. ¬†Not me of course, oh no… well, only that once a few months ago ūüėÄ and I was both grateful and impressed that the organisers had thought to bring along a couple of ‘spare’ floats for just that eventuality.
  10. Rope in as much help as possible. ¬†Setting up, decorating the venue and getting plenty of directional signage outside and in the immediate area can take longer than you anticipate. ¬†If you’re also planning on holding ¬†raffle / tombola / lucky dip / cake stall you’ll need yet more hands on deck.
  11. A bonus tip – if you’re holding the craft fair or market to raise money for a local cause, consider also having a raffle / tombola / lucky dip / tea, coffee & cakes stall. Just make sure that you put out the call for donations well in advance
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I IG, do you?

I love Instagram. I was a bit of a late adopter, signing up in October 2014, posting once and then posting a second time in November. ¬†I didn’t really get the point of it to be honest, and didn’t post again until February of the following year.

However, once I had devoted just a little bit of thought and time to it, I began to see the benefits:

  1. Promoting the business. ¬†By actively seeking out potential stockists on IG, following them, interacting with them and even direct messaging them, I’ve gained five new wholesale accounts in the last 9 months.
  2. Connecting with other soapmakers. ¬†When you’re as obsessed with soapmaking as I am, following, ‘meeting’ and chatting online with other soapmakers (many of whom are now Facebook friends too) is a joy. I once tried to reach out to a local soapmaker with the hope of soapy chats over mugs of tea (can’t stand coffee lol) but was rebuffed. I have no idea why, but I thought it was a shame – there are absolutely enough customers out there for the both of us but hey ho… ¬† I digress – IG has helped me to meet loads of other lovely, friendly and inspirational soapmakers, even if it is only online.
  3. Which brings me to – Inspiration. Now I’m not talking about seeing someone else’s soap and copying it – that’s very much frowned upon, and rightly so. No, my inspirational¬†browsing is purely revelling in the beauty and creativity that is other people’s soaps. Sometimes I might see something that inspires me to try a particular natural colourant, or give a particular technique a go. Sadly though, I’m usually too busy making my own restocks that I rarely get the opportunity to ‘play’ and experiment.
  4. It’s a vanity platform. ¬†Let’s be honest, it’s a rare person who doesn’t enjoy a bit of positive feedback. ¬†Once you have a few followers and those hearts and comments start totting up, it’s quite a confidence booster.

These days Instagram is overwhelmingly my favourite social medium. Follow me here for daily photos of soap and more.

Blogtober 2016, Day 24. Completed with 13 mins to spare… And breathe….

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Makeovers (7. Love Spell / Bewitched)

The soap that I’ve long called ‘Love Spell’ is scented with a fragrance oil that is a copy of the designer perfume ‘Love Spell’ by Victoria’s Secret. Having recently applied for my bath bomb assessment, which includes bombs fragranced with the same fragrance oil, I was reminded that I can’t call them (or my soap!) Love Spell as it contravenes copyright. I knew this, and I should have changed it ages ago, but to be honest I just didn’t spend the time to come up with a replacement. As it was, when I received the message from my assessor, the new name came to me within a minute or two. Typical! Anyway, it will henceforth be known as Bewitched.

I first made it back in the summer of 2014. You can clearly see where the top portion, coloured with titanium dioxide, shrank more than the rest of the bar during the curing process. The top was simply spattered with leftover soap batter:

Love Spell V1
Bewitched V1

Soon after that I got into tiger stripe pouring, which I initially made with a flat top (and experimented with some black stripes):

Love Spell V3
Bewitched V2
Love Spell V3
Bewitched V3

And later with a textured top:

Love Spell V4
Bewitched V4

Finally I brought it in line with the rest of the range i.e. with a full bar drop swirl:

Love Spell V5
Bewitched V5

Day 23 of Blogtober 2016. I’m starting to believe I can actually do this ūüėÄ

 

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Name that Soap! (Competition Time)

I have a brand new essential oil bar, and it needs¬†a name… This bar is scented with lavender, lemon and lime EOs. ¬†Heavier on the lavender and lemon, lighter on the lime, but it’s definitely discernible.

Give me a name!
Please give me a name ūüôā

I‚Äôm offering a free bar to the person who comes up with the name that I eventually select, and you can either enter below in the comments field, or on the competition post on my FB page.¬†It‚Äôs open to anyone, wherever you are in the world ‚Äď I‚Äôll cover postage costs too (last time I did this it the bar went over the pond to the US). ¬†So don‚Äôt be shy ‚Äď I know you‚Äôre a creative lot!!

FYI The other essential oil bars in my range are called Serenity, Clarity, Peace, Boho Baby, Flowers and Luscious Lavender.

PS ‚Äď the winning name will be chosen on Saturday 29th October,¬†9pm UK time.

Go go go!!

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The Mermaid Spa, Portmeirion

It’s been a busy month on the wholesale front, and I’m so happy to introduce yet another new stockist of our luxury handmade soap – The Mermaid Spa¬†in the extraordinary village of Portmerion.

Mermaid Spa
                     The Mermaid Spa

For those not in the know, Portmeirion is an Italianate village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. It’s situated on a headland on the north Wales coast, and the spa itself overlooks the estuary. It’s a stunningly beautiful and relaxing place to have a spa – the perfect place to visit for a bit of R&R if you’re in the area.

View from the spa
                    View from the spa

Yesterday they took delivery of a great selection of our soap – as if you needed another reason to visit such a glorious place!

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Chaos Reigns on Throwback Thursday

A spanner has been thrown into the Blogtober 2016 works. This week my kitchen (well, the entire interior of the back of my house) has been ripped out. Right back to the brick:

Renovations 1
                      Renovations 1
Renovations 2
                       Renovations 2

I knew it was coming, but I stuck my head in the sand and told my myself everything would be ok. ¬†Well of course it is, and it will be even better, but flipping heck it’s having a major effect on daily life!! ¬†Needless to say I’ve not had much of an opportunity over the last few days to just sit and write, so here I am, again, with just 63 minutes of the day left, determined to get Blogtober Day 20 out before midnight.

Fortunately for me, today is Thursday, so I can do a little #throwbackthursday post.

This here soap is one of the very first drop swirls that I made to sell, made on the 15th June 2014. If you know my current range, you’ll know that I’m rather partial to a drop swirl, and here, folks, is kinda where it all started. Things have changed a bit since then:

Black Jack
                        Black Jack

Black Jack was fragranced with Aniseed and Spearmint essential oils, and although I thought it smelled utterly amazing, sadly Joe Public didn’t and It was dropped from the lineup PDQ. ¬†Perhaps one day I’ll make it again, just for me ūüôā

I’ll be back tomorrow with Blogtober Day 21. I Will. I WILL ūüėÄ

 

 

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10 Favourite Foods

When I woke on Saturday 1st October, the idea for this blogfest of daily posting came from some fellow bloggers who had all committed to participate in Blogtober 2016 as organised by Mandi at Hex Mum +1

I very much wanted to do my own thing though. I needed to get used to blogging again after a few months away from the keyboard, and I also wanted to find out whether I would/could be inspired to find something to write about every day.

Having got halfway through the month it seems that inspiration isn’t an issue at all, but lack of time is. ¬†I have ideas for many posts, but many of them will take more time than I usually have to do justice to the topic.

So today I’m going to rattle off a fairly quick one, and for this I’m referring back to Mandi’s original list of themes:

Blogtober 2016
        Blogtober 2016

October 19th – 10 Favourite Foods.

I love food. I was a terribly picky, fussy child, but as an adult there’s very little I won’t eat. ¬†Unfortunately, while I’m eating my way through the foods of the world (except for tripe, and goat’s cheese, bleugh!) my children are channelling my youthful aversion to anything remotely interesting. ¬†Karma…

So, in the interests of sharing a little more of me, I give you 10 of my favourite foods, in no particular order (note, I don’t say my 10 favourite foods – there are far too many favourites for that kind of narrow mindedness :-D)

  1. Cheese. ¬†Yep, despite considering goat’s cheese to be an abomination, I LOVE all other types of cheese, especially Camembert and Stilton. A good mature cheddar is a thing of wonder too.
  2. Chocolate Mousse. ¬†Not just any chocolate mousse mind. It has to be a dense, rich, dark chocolate mousse. The more like a ganache the better…
  3. Smoked Salmon.
  4. Great bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  5. Moules Marinière
  6. Steak (rare) and chips
  7. Crispy, oven baked jacket potato with (real) butter and cheese
  8. My mum’s raspberry trifle. Oh my word I salivate just thinking about it. I guess I should share the recipe here sometime.
  9. Pizza.  Not necessarily a fancy pants pizza, just one made by my husband with plenty of mozzarella, pepperoni, onions, peppers and mushrooms. Yum!
  10. Chicken fajitas, nice and spicy with lots of guacamole and sour cream.  A traditional Saturday Night In dish in our house.

I’m not sure whether there’s anything ¬†more you can read between the lines here, but there you go, you now know a little more about this Soapmaker.

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The Christmas Specials

This year I’ve made three seasonal bars especially for the Christmas period. ¬†These are limited edition soaps – there are only 29 available of each fragrance – but¬†they’re made with the same luxurious base recipe of highest quality, food grade oils and butters that all our bars are made of.

It still feels rather early to many to be thinking about the holiday period, but these bars need a good 6 weeks curing time, so won’t be ready to buy until mid-November – just in time to start shopping ūüėÄ

Without any further ado – here are:

Christmas Tree (Cool herbal fragrance of pine, mint, green leaf and ozone, hints of jasmine and lily and supported by notes of precious woods, amber and patchouli)

Three Kings (A resinous, woody-oriental fragrance with citrus top notes mingling with warm base of frankincense, myrrh and amber), topped with gold mica.

Candy Cane (Buttery peppermint and spearmint with hints of vanilla)

Christmas Soaps
                 Christmas Soaps
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Luvit, Barmouth

I am VERY excited to announce that we have a brand new stockist!

Luvit is a gorgeous gift shop on the High Street in Barmouth, in the south west corner of the Snowdonia National Park.

luvit-barmouth
                     luvit-barmouth

Owena at Luvit is very supportive of local makers, and sells a wide range of lovely gifts, many of which have a retro / vintage twist. And now she now also stocks a selection¬†of our luxury handmade soaps too – woohoo!! ¬†Please pop in and have a look if you’re in the area ūüėÄ

Check out Luvit’s Facebook page too.

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Dinosoap!

I rarely make novelty soaps, but I spotted a great dinosaur mould and thought the kids – my kids that is – might like some dinosaur shaped soap. ¬†They were a HUGE hit so I’ve made a few more batches to sell as stocking fillers at the Christmas fairs. Made with exactly the same base recipe that I use for my regular bars, some are scented with a Christmas Tree FO and others with a Jelly Beans FO¬†which is always popular with children.

Hopefully they’ll go down as well with my customers as they did with my children:

Dinosoaps
                         Dinosoaps

This was Day 16 of Blogtober – hanging on in there ¬†ūüėÄ

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Throwback Thursday – Blogtober Day 13

I started out so well. ¬†Most of my Blogtober posts have been planned, if not half written, the day before, at least.¬†Occasionally they’ve been written early morning, on the day. ¬†Never before have I got to past 10.30pm before getting an opportunity to sit down and write. I’m flying by the seat of my pants here…

So it’s going to be another quickie (though I would imagine that’s no big thing when they’re coming at you every day :-D)

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a HUGE Instagram fan and Instagram is where Throwback Thursday comes into its own. Using the #throwbackthursday hashtag gives you the opportunity to showcase pictures of projects, creations or events from the past, and for me it’s a chance to look back at soaps I made years ago.

Back in 2013 I went through a phase of making gradient, or ombr√©, soaps. For some reason I’ve not made any since, but anyway, today seems like the perfect opportunity to share some photos of them here. ¬†Wonder if you can guess which ones were made in a proper soap mould and which ones were made in silicone baking pans ūüėÄ ūüėÄ

Blue Gradient
          Blue Gradient (Ocean Mist)
Purple Gradient
         Purple Gradient (Wild Berries)
Pink Gradient
                      Pink Gradient
Green Gradient
         Green Gradient (Citrus Burst)
Brown Gradient
             Brown Gradient (Amber)

This last one was made in September 2013 for one of Amy @ Great Cakes Soapworks monthly challenges – the challenge was to make a gradient soap using more than two colours:

Multicoloured Gradient
         Multicoloured Gradient (Eventide)

Actually I know perfectly well why I’ve not made any gradient soaps recently – I’m so busy keeping up my stock levels I’m not getting any opportunity to ‘play’ and make soap for fun. ¬†Now there’s something to put on my ‘To Do’ list.

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Makeovers (6. Clarity)

Blogtober Day 10. ¬†Day 10 folks!! A third of the way through, nearly…

Anyway, this the sixth in an occasional series on the evolution of Soap Mine soap designs. Previously I’ve covered Serenity, Wake Up! (discontinued), Tutti Frutti,Delicious and Luscious Lavender, and this time it’s the turn of ‘Clarity’,¬†fragranced with a gorgeous fresh blend of Lemongrass and Clary Sage Essential Oils.

This one has proved to be one of my bestsellers over the years, and I’ve been making it for a long time, so please forgive the quality of some of the photographs. I’ve said it before but soap photography is as steep a learning curve as soap making!

First came the two color version – a cool grey base with lime green drops:

Clarity v.1
Clarity v.1

I wasn’t overly enamoured with with the grey, so soon after it became a three colour bar, with a green base and white and black drops.

Clarity v.2
Clarity v.2
Clarity v.3
Clarity v.3

When I started adding texture to the tops, Clarity was included of course:

Clarity v.4
Clarity v.4

And so it was, for many, many batches. But then one day, very recently, I decided to ring the changes and, drum roll please…Ta da! This is the new look for Clarity:

Clarity v.5
Clarity v.5

The black base of the bar is coloured with activated charcoal, purported to be excellent for your skin. I found this post recently which talks about the benefits of activated charcoal in soap, but of course, I make no medical claims for my soap whatsoever! ūüėČ

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Holidays are coming… Blogtober Day 9

There’s no point pretending any different by this point, Christmas IS coming ūüėÄ

I’m waiting for my holiday soaps to harden up a little so that I can get them bevelled and generally tidied up before I take some decent product shots,¬†but¬†here’s a first look at what I did with those stars I posted three days ago. ¬†Nothing fancy, but I rather like the simplicity of this one:

Christmas Tree
                      Christmas Tree