Today is our wedding anniversary. Sixteen whole years ago, on the 14th October, 2021, we got married, and look how young we were!
Sixteen years is DEFINITELY worth celebrating so we had a lovely lunch out, and then it was back to work for both of us. Might have eggs for dinner though!
According to Google, sixteen years is traditionally celebrated with wax, which seems like the perfect opportunity to mention a lesser known Soap Mine product – Wax Melts
Some time ago I asked Jodie at Charismatic Cat whether she could make some exclusive wax melts for The Soap Mine. I wanted the same fragrances as six of my best selling bars/bath bombs – Lavender, Cysur, Traeth, Rose, Sugar Drops and Fresh Linen:
As the evenings draw in, wax melts are a great way to enhance cosy evenings. They give a gentle glow to the room while spreading the most delicious fragrance, or melt one in the bathroom while you take a bath with a matching soap and/or bathbomb – perfection! Get yours here
That’s it for today, thanks for reading! Back tomorrow 😉
Tonight’s planned blog post was supposed to be all about soap for our four legged friends – it seemed appropriate after yesterday’s post about Jac the Crazy Collie. However things don’t always go to plan and now I find myself at 9.30pm having just finished work and with absolutely nothing prepared for today’s post…
Let me tell you why.
Last week I made lots and lots – hundreds! – of solid conditioner bars for a wholesale order.
Although I can only make 100 at a time (yes, I really do need to get additional moulds) I knew how long I needed to get them all made and I was organised and in control – or so I thought. What I didn’t count on was delays at the printers. My plan was to pick up the labels on Friday, box and label all the conditioner bars over the weekend (breaking my no weekend working rule AGAIN), and then deliver the whole lot on Monday.
Unfortunately the labels were overlooked on Friday but I was assured they’d be printed on Monday. I’d already told my customer that I’d be delivering them on Monday, so I had to email over the weekend and explain the delay. But somehow the printing got overlooked again on Monday – Dean turned up to collect them late Monday PM and YIKES they still weren’t done. Luckily I’d given myself a little bit of wriggle room with the new delivery time – late Tues pm or Wed am, I’d said – so when I finally got my hands on the labels at 5.30pm today I headed straight over to the office to get to work. Four hours later I’m finished and all boxed up and ready for delivery tomorrow morning:
So there you go. Sometimes mistakes happen, and things go awry, but at least it gave me something quick to write about this evening 😀
My number one bestselling soap is Eryri, the landscape soap:
I’m pretty rubbish with technology, but I’ve been asked so many times to record some videos of my soapmaking I thought I ought to give it a go, and this video shows me pouring and sculpting Eryri. Some people use scrapers to ensure that all the bars are uniform in design, but I sculpt my layers freehand, so no two bars are ever the same. I like them that way 😉
I always make this in batches of six loaves (90 bars), but you only see five in the video – the sixth was just out of shot.
I don’t think there’s much else to say about this one, but if you have any questions just pop them in the comments below and I’ll respond asap.
Thanks for reading (and watching). I’ll be back tomorrow with Day 11.
A quick and easy post today in the shape of the cut of Serenity made on Monday – 120 bars cut on my ancient single string soap cutter! It’s quite a so process and I’m getting very close to ordering a fancy-pants multi-string cutter – yey! (Maybe it’ll be here before the end of the month so I’ve got another easy blog post 😉 )
So anyway here they are, some quick snaps of Serenity taken today, literally seconds after they were cut from the loaf:
I love how there’s never, ever, two identical bars. These particular ones have now been put down for their 6 week nap, but there’s plenty available on the website – get yours here.
Thanks for reading, almost a quarter of the way there now! Back tomorrow with Day 8
During the summer, while I was trying to button down the fragrances I wanted to use for the autumn specials, I came across the most amazing Toffee Apple fragrance. Unfortunately it was an absolute nightmare to use in cold process soap. It massively accelerated trace, and did actually turn the soap solid in the bucket before I could even think about adding colour, never mind pour it into moulds. Nevertheless, I adored the fragrance and decided to break with tradition and offer my customers a soap made using the hot process method. If you’re not sure what that is – check out this post
Now I’m really not an expert at this method, and while some people can make amazing looking soap this way, my attempts have always been pretty basic and rustic looking, with no fancy swirls or patterns, and that was just how this one came out.
I honestly didn’t think I would sell very many at all, so only made 30 bars, but completely underestimated my lovely customers loyalty and preparedness to try something new and sold out within the hour – arrghh! I felt duty bound to make more PDQ, which I did. A couple of days ago.
Hot process soap is generally made in a slow cooker / crockpot, and is so called because additional heat is added to the soapmaking process to speed up saponification. However, knowing how quickly this fragrance accelerates trace, I dispensed completely with the crockpot but made sure that my oils and lye solution were significantly hotter than I would normally have them. I added the fragrance to the heated oils and butters first and mixed very well, to ensure that it was completed incorporated. I then slowly added the hot lye solution to the oils and mixed well again. It turned solid in the bucket quite quickly, and I let it sit for a while it continued to heat up. This is NOT something I would recomend for any beginner soapmakers, overheated caustic soap batter is dangerous.
I’ve tried to upload a video of the mixing of the batter but I can’t seem to get it work, but here are a couple of photos:
Once I was happy that it was all thoroughly mixed and of the right ‘vaseline-like’ texture I plopped it into the moulds. They’re certainly not the most beautiful ‘in-the-mould’ photos 😉
Yesterday I unmoulded and cut the loaves and I’m really happy with how they turned out. While I usually give my regular bars a full 6 weeks cure time, these psuedo-hot process bars don’t need quite so long, and will be available for purchase on, aptly enough, 31st October.
So, Day 4 and I confess I wonder what on earth possessed me to do this. The reality of having to come up with a blog post every day (when I’ve managed about three in the last year) has well and truly hit home. Had I made the decision back in September I might have pre-written a bunch of posts, or at least prepared some topics / ideas beforehand. But noooo, that would have been too easy…
But back to today, and it’s probably time for a soap related post. I was approached a few months back by Penmaenmawr Museum who not only wanted to stock my soap in their museum shop but were also interested in having a custom landscape-type bar created exclusively for them.
The town of Penmaenmawr is situated on the coast of north Wales and has an old slogan which goes ‘Penmaenmawr – twixt mountain and sea’, and the customer sent me the following sketch to give me an idea of what they wanted:
And this was what I made, scented with the same ‘outdoorsy’ essential oil blend as my regular Eryri landscape bar (get yours here)
Thankfully, the customer loves them and I quote: “These soaps look beautiful! Thank you so much, exactly what we were hoping for.” Hooray!
Once they’re fully cured and properly wrapped and labelled for sale I’ll update this post with a ‘finished’ photo, but I thought Blogtober was a great opportunity to share them for the very first time. I hope you feel honoured 😀
I had thought to write a quick round of ‘The Week in Soap’ today – always a good Blogtober fallback – but then something pretty cool happened and my fallback is no longer required 😉
Some of you may know that back in June I had an operation on both of my feet to correct bunions and to treat advanced cartilage deterioration caused by arthritis. I’d been on the waiting list for nearly 4 years, and had suffered daily pain for far longer than that, so when the hospital called asking whether I would be willing to be admitted for surgery within a fortnight, I didn’t have to think about it for too long.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, the surgery went ahead as planned on Wednesday 23rd June. The affected joints in my big toes were broken and had steel rods inserted to fuse the the joints. It was a day case under general anaesthetic and I was given special shoes to get me back on my feet straight afterwards but I had to make judicious use of painkillers and rest for long periods of time afterwards. I spent the whole of the unusually great weather during July (and my birthday!) in plaster casts, but they eventually came off on the 2nd August and rehabilitation began in earnest.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Prior to the surgery I walked a lot. I averaged 17,000 steps a day, but 22,000 wasn’t unusual. Obviously this dropped right down post-op, but as the weeks go by I’ve slowly been increasing my activity and this week, for the very first time, I managed to walk over 10,000 steps EVERY DAY! This is a massive milestone for me, and worth a blog post dontcha think? 😉
So, I’ve done a little research and I’m happy to announce that I am NO closer to having a plan for this 31 day jaunt into Blogland. Search Google or Pinterest and there’s no end of ideas for Blogtober blog posts, but I’m massively underqualified to write about ‘My Favourite Fall Outfit’, ‘Updating Your Make-Up for Autumn’ and ‘Making the Perfect Pumpkin Spice Latte’ so it looks like I’ll be winging it. There’ll probably be a little bit about soap and soap-making, a little bit about The Soap Mine, and a little bit about me.
Today’s post is going to be a quick round up of the limited edition autumn special range, which was released on Friday 24th September. It does feel a LITTLE pointless blogging about them now, given that they’ve already sold out, but it’ll be nice to have a record of them all in one place for posterity.
There were four autumn specials this year – Campfire Marshmallow, Hocus Pocus, Vetiver and Toffee Apple. Getting them all made in time was a real challenge; I was out of action for roughly three weeks during the end of June / beginning of July, and when the time came to make the autumn bars I was still in stock-making catch-up mode. As it was I ran out of time and was only able to make half the number of Vetiver that I’d planned to make. Toffee Apple threw another spanner in the works. It’s an AMAZING fragrance, but behaves very badly in soap, turning it solid in the mixing bowl within seconds. With this in mind I decided to experiment with the HP (Hot Process) soapmaking method which was very successful but resulted in a bar which looked much more rustic than the others in the range. Being sure that they wouldn’t be as popular as the others, I only made 30. Big mistake but hey ho…
A delicious sweet-and-smoky toasted marshmallow fragrance with caramel & vanilla on a base of smoky campfire, and was back for it’s second outing after going down a storm last autumn. I made two designs – firstly an attempt at a ‘fire’ type pattern which I wasn’t 100% happy with, but which looked so much better once the soap had cured a bit, and secondly a more abstract pattern with identical colours. With hindsight I should probably have stuck with the first design – noted for next year (because I’ll get shot if this doesn’t come back as part of next years autumn range)
The was a new-to-me fragrance which is predominantly sweet cherry with notes of almond, vanilla and sherberty citrus fruits. I’ve never made Halloween soaps as such, but I wanted this one to have that kind of feel, and the colours reflected that idea. I ran a competition in The Soap Mine Community Facebook group to find a name, and Hocus Pocus was the winner.
This was another new-to-me fragrance which had been requested a few times, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the smell out of the bottle. In soap though? It’s phenomenal – a deep, woodsy and very sexy smell which I just kept going back to. I can’t describe it better than the description given by one of my awesome testers, so I’m just going to share it all here:
“This is the one I’ll buy for my husband cause it smells just like a whiff of gorgeous bearded man in the woods with an axe and just a hint of danger and sparkle in his eye!! A bit like sweet masculine sweat fighting with the fresh scent of soap they slathered on in a tin shower at dawn in the mountains, the two intermingled but perfectly balanced! And it’s the one I’ll borrow just occasionally enough so I can carry that image around with me”
How’s that for a recommendation!! I’m convinced this particular description is the reason it sold out within 12 hours, so thank you Laura!!
A delicious blend of tart apple with just enough sweet caramel to make it irrisistable! A very naughty fragrance but too good not to share, which I why I used the Hot Process method to make this one. Sadly I only made 30 bars and it sold out within the first 2 hours. I’ve had to promise to make more forthwith!
Day 2 of Blogtober wasn’t too painful. Just another 29 days to go 🙂
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