It may be the weekend, but I’ve still been busy making soap. I generally try to avoid working on the weekend, but it’s half-term this week and we’re going away for a few nights, so I’m getting caught up in advance 😀
Yesterday I made 180 bars of soap – 60 Cysur, 60 Fresh Linen and 60 Rose:
And today I cut all the loaves into bars:
Yesterday I also cut the loaves of Luxury Facial Bar that I made on Friday. If you’ve never considered washing your face with soap, then this might the thing to change your mind. It’s cleansing but super-gentle, and won’t leave your skin feeling tight. Just check out the reviews on the website listing here
Today I’ve made 88 bars of Enfys (the Rainbow bar) – the most I’ve ever made in one go. These are currently sold out but are a great seller at Christmas, so I was really keen to get these made before we went away. Hopefully I should be able to get them all cut tomorrow (Monday) and then I can forget about them for a few weeks. All being well I’ll share a photo of the cut bars in tomorrow’s post.
That’s all for today, thanks for reading, I’ll be back tomorrow!
Phew! Made it to the halfway point! Tonight’s post needs to be a quick one because as always, I have nothing prepared and Saturday night is family TV night in the Hinde household and we have a date with The Cube!
It’s been a busy week making soap (I’m still catching up with stock levels) so I thought I’d show you one of the batches that came off my one-woman production line this week. Blodau (Welsh Flowers) is scented with a 50:50 blend of lavender & ylang ylang essential oils. Ylang ylang on its own can be a bit heavy for some, but combined with lavender it’s just gorgeous. This bar has been my 7th best selling variety of regular soap bars on the website this year, but for some reason it’s more popular in wholesale orders where it’s my 4th most popular.
I generally make four loaves of soap in one batch – this was Blodau in the mould this week:
The next day I unmoulded and cut the four loaves, and ended up with 60 bars of soap, no two of which were the same. I love how ever bar of soap I make is individual and unique:
All sixty bars have now been put to bed for their six week cure, but as always there’s plenty available on the website, get yours here!
I lurve soap tops. Fancy or plain, swirled or textured, it really doesn’t matter to me, I love them all. My favourite posts on Instagram are often the tops of bars, wet or dry, in the mould or cut… So, having had a really busy day trying to finish off everthing before the weekend (and not having spared a single thought for today’s blog post) I thought I’d share some favourite pics of some of my recent soap tops.
I can’t be the only one who’s incredulous that there’s only a week and a half left of October? They say time flies when you’re having fun so I guess I must be having a whale of a time 😉
I didn’t manage to get a weekly update out last week, I posted the info about the solid conditioner bars (here) and that, it would appear, brought me to the limit of my available blogging time. However, you really didn’t miss much. I made soap. I wrapped soap. I labelled soap. I dispatched soap to retail and wholesale customers. I read about soap and talked about soap soap – in person and online. Oh, I took the dog for a few walks as well.
Seriously though, I am living and breathing soap at the moment (with the odd foray into solid conditioner bars). I’m running out of space in my rented office space (a 20 second commute over the road above the village Tourist Info Shop – I should share some pics sometime), and I definitely need a larger making area at home. It feels like I should be expanding my space, but there isn’t really anywhere local I could move into, and the children are still too small for me to travel too far afield. We’ve talked about the possibility of building a workshop in the garden, which would solve the studio space issue, but I’d still be struggling for curing / wrapping / packing space. It’s one of those things that’s on the back burner, but always there, niggling at me to find a solution, so I’m trying not to fret about it too much during the run up to Christmas, and will give it some more thought in January / February (supposedly my ‘quiet’ time, but it didn’t quite work out that way this year so we’ll see).
I’ve had a big run on guest bars this last couple of weeks. The guest houses and holiday lets around here continue to be occupied throughout autumn and are always full over Christmas and New Year, so I think everyone’s getting their orders in now to be sure they don’t run out over the festive period. I have 250 of these mini bars to cut and bevel over the next two or three days. Thankfully customers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious and don’t always want them fully wrapped – the ‘naked’ option is becoming more popular, and I always provide a full ingredients list and other mandatory info for the customer to pass on to their guests.
Ooh, and I’ve added a new fragrance to the FO range… During the summer I released four limited edition bars, one of which was Watermelon, which proved to be extraordinarily popular. And justifiably so – it smells utterly delicious. When I dropped Tutti Frutti from the core range I had room for a new regular fragrance and adding Watermelon was a no-brainer. Here’s the very first batch of 60 in the mould:
I said in my last weekly update that I would share a bit more about the Christmas range soon but I’ve STILL not managed to take any photos. I hereby undertake, no, I PROMISE, that I shall reveal the Christmas range in my next update post. *Adds another thing to this week’s to-do list*
I’m still working on my HUGE order that I alluded to back on the 22nd September. The first batch are now all fully cured and are bevelled and ready for wrapping. There are almost 800 bars just in this first delivery to get labelled up with a cigar band wrap, and I’m so grateful that my lovely friend has been willing to come round and help me in return for a cuppa and a chat. Now these are new to me, but I love the way they look, and I’m edging more and more towards doing my own this way. They’re eco-friendly, look great, and are quick to wrap once you get into the swing of them. However my customer is an online only company, so these bars won’t be sitting on a shop shelf for any length of time, whereas mine would be, so I’m not sure whether it would work for my wholesale customers? I think I’m going to give it a go though. Here’s a sneak peek of some we’ve wrapped already:
And finally, here are some pics of cut soap and soap in the mould from the last couple of weeks…
Monday and Tuesday of last week were the big soaping days – this was the result of Monday’s session:
On Tuesday I was mostly speed (read: ‘panic’) making Christmas soaps. I made a load weeks ago, thinking I was really on the ball, but I wasn’t happy with them. AT ALL 🙁
I prevariacated for a while, conscious that time was getting on and that I needed to make a quick decision, and finally this last week I redesigned and made bars that I’m happy with – phew! They’ll be released a little later than I’d hoped, but still in plenty of time for the holiday period. I don’t have any pictures yet, but I’ll share the fragrances next week, and perhaps a photo or two the following week – maybe 😉 In the meatime, here’s a sneaky peek that doesn’t give too much away 😀
A brand new stockist came on board last week, Snowdonia Nurseries in Glan Conwy. They’ve taken a lovely range of soaps for their gift shop, and shared these photos with me over the weekend:
The next bit of excitement last week was the fact that my Cosmetic Product Safety Report finally came through from my solid conditioner bars. It’s illegal to sell any body care / cosmetic product in the UK (well, the EU actually) without one of these reports, which proves that your recipe has been checked by a qualified chemist and is safe to use. So although I’ve had them ready for a while, I’ve not been able to sell them until that report came through. These are some of the ones I made during the formulating / testing process:
They’ll be available in three varieties initially, to match the shampoo bars – Bergamot & Lime, Lemongrass & Spearmint and Unscented – but more varieties will be coming soon. Now I just need to get making! A few people have asked for more information about the ingredients etc so I’ll be writing a dedicated post about the conditioner bars later on this week.
Lastly, I’m giving away a free mini Peppermint Scrub bar with all orders over £10 this week (while stocks last). These are what’s left over when I make the full size peppermint bars – I use the usual amount of soap mix but because there’s so much extra stuff in there (ground apricot stone and oats) there’s far too much to fit my regular moulds and I have plenty left over to make these little ones – a little treat for my valued customers 🙂
I’m clearly not back into the habit of regular posting. It’s 10pm on Monday and I just realised that I haven’t written last week’s roundup post (I would normally do it on Sunday evening if not before). So this will be a short one, forgive me!
I didn’t get half as much soap made this week as last because, as much as I’d like to make soap every day, there is a lot of other stuff that needs to be done when running a business, however small, and it was a lot of that that got done this week ;-D
Monday I spent wrapping, labelling and dispatching retail orders from the weekend, cutting and wrapping guest soaps and putting together wholesale orders.
On Tuesday I travelled to Pwllheli, about half an hour away, to take stock to a new stockist – Oriel Pwlldefaid. I’ve been keen to find a stockist in Pwllheli for a while so I’m thrilled that they agreed to stock my soaps. In the afternoon I made soap – hooray!
Wednesday saw me making more soap again, this time 60 bars of Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime essential oils) and Lavender & Peppermint Shampoo:
See the orange in those bars above? That should be yellow! This soap has always been a white base with drops of purple, yellow and green (lavender, lemon & lime) but I used a different yellow mica this time and POW! Bright orange!! Luckily it morphed back to yellow by the time I cut it.
Thursday and Friday I spent getting ready for my monthly Craft Fair in Porthmadog on Saturday, none of which I took photos of. Saturday’s Fair was a strange one – very quiet in the morning but much much busier late morning and into the afternoon and ended up being a great day.
On Sunday I spent a few hours masterbatching enough oils and butters for 24 loaves, and took the dog for a looooong walk in the late afternoon. (Oh, I’ve just realised that Jac the Border Collie joined our family during my blogging break, so I won’t have introduced him yet – I’ll try to rectify that very soon!) Anyway here’s just one of the photos from my walk through classic Beddgelert weather – clouds, drizzle and a glorious peek of sunshine highlighting the autumn colours on the mountains.
I took very few ‘cut’ pictures this week (another thing I’ve got out of the habit of since taking a break from the blog) but here is the current batch of Eryri (Snowdonia), more of these are on the ‘to make’ list for this week or next…
That’s it for now. Apologies for the rather rushed and superficial post – maybe I just need to get back into the rhythm? I hope so…
Thanks for reading if you got this far, back next week!
Last week I set myself a challenge to make a minimum of 600 bars of soap in seven days with today (Sunday) being the last day. As well as trying to restock after a busy summer season and getting ahead for the festive season, I have a new wholesale customer who has placed a very large (for me) order that I’m steadily, but surely, fulfilling (I’ll share more about them once the first shipment has been delivered in a couple of weeks) and all that means I need to increase my rate of production. This week was a bit of an experiment in masterbatching larger amounts of oils & butters and working out how to work smarter and be more productive. That 600 bars was a fairly arbitrary goal – more than I’d ever made in one week before, but hopefully doable given my proposed new processes.
In the past, each soaping session has begun with the mixing of the lye solutions – usually enough for 8 loaves in four separate containers, which were put to one side to cool. I’d then weigh out four separate lots of hard oils & butters and melt them while also weighing out four lots of the liquid oils, ending up with four 5kg capacity buckets each containing enough prepared fats for two loaves (30 bars total) of soap. I would then go ahead and make soap, ending up with two loaves of four different varieties, giving me a total of 120 bars each full soaping session.
This week I decided to get all the oils / butters / lye prepared the night before production, and also to make more, and bigger (four loaf) batches. This gave me far more time the following day to make soap and I was able to get this lovely lot, a total of 632 bars (woop!!) made over three separate days:
So what about temperatures? I read a lot in online soaping groups that temperatures are important in the soapmaking process, but I haven’t used a thermometer since my very early days of soapy experimentation. I generally soap cool anyway, so using lye solution that was mixed the day before isn’t an issue, and I found that I needed to sit the buckets of oils & butters in some hot water in the sink for a little while to remove any granularity from the cooled hard oils. I dream of having a large insulated tank with a heating band in the future, but until then, this works really well – hooray!
Next week I aim to make as much, if not more, again. Keep rooting for me 😀
Thanks for reading, back soon!
PS Thought I’d share this little vase of nasturtiums, freshly picked from the garden today. I have a mass of them at the bottom of the garden where they’ve self seeded and they just keep on coming, in beautiful autumnal colours. Just lovely!
One year. One whole year, exactly. My last post was on 18th September 2018, a year ago. 365 days ago.
Right, well then, erm… Hello! Gosh, this is awkward. How’ve you been? Sorry I didn’t write, or call, or, well, you know… I’ve missed you though. Did you ever think about me? I thought about you a lot, even considered typing a few words a couple of times, then decided it had been too long. Didn’t think I could just jump back in like nothing had happened. Thought you might have found someone new. It would be rude, wouldn’t it? To try to muscle in on your new blog relationships, when I’d deserted you without so much as an au revoir?
Just kidding, obviously. I will ABSOLUTELY muscle in on your new blog relationship 😉
Yes, I’m back. I lost my blogging mojo there for a while, but with the launch of the website on the horizon, forcing me back onto my laptop to write about the benefits of a soap based facial bar, different types of solid shampoo bars and ‘about us (ain’t we just darn peachy)’ pages, I realised that I kinda miss writing.
So, a quick round up of the a last year in one paragraph. Christmas came, it was busy. January was supposed to be quiet, time for a bit of a break. It was busy. Spring came and things picked up, and then summer just went nuts – as did I, I think. Over that time the facial bars have become really popular, and I recently launched a charcoal version. The solid shampoo bars are also now available and are selling well – I’ll write a post all about them very soon. I’ve also submitted the paperwork for a Cosmetic Product Safety Report (CSPR) for solid conditioner bars which I’m hoping will be approved in the next few weeks, so fingers crossed I’ll be able to offer them for sale very soon. What else? I have a few more wholesale customers (more on them in another post), lots more retail customers AND a whizzy new Facebook Group (well, since May new) which now has almost 450 members. Join here.
I’m going to go back to weekly posting, just a round up of what’s been going on, together with ad hoc posts as and when the urge strikes. I hope you’ll forgive my absence and we can enjoy soapy stuff together just like the old days 😉
Here’s a quick pic of the charcoal facial bar in the mould – I promise to include more photos in future posts!!
I’ve realised this evening that I need to start some kind of daily diary. This blog is supposed to serve as a record of the development of my business, but as I sat down this evening to write, I wasn’t entirely sure what it is I’ve been doing all week 😀 I think it’s the heat, going to my head. It’s been another scorcher, with temperatures around 28-29 degrees every day, and I’m loving it… I have fingers, toes and everything else crossed that it hold up after the schools break up for summer (less than two weeks away now – yey/eek!!) but I’ll confess to being a little pessimistic about the chances…
Back to last week then, and on Monday I took the day off and climbed a mountain. The perfect start to week, despite the oppressive heat. I went with three girlfriends, and we took our time, putting the world to rights as we walked. This is the view back down towards our village from the top:
We got back in time for the school run and then we all headed down to the river for a cooling dip. By the time I got to bed that night I’d clocked up over 28,000 steps on my Fitbit. That’ll do me 🙂
I was back to work on Tuesday, wrapping and labelling stock to replenish what I’d sold at the fair the previous Saturday. I spent a bit of time reorganising my office, and came across these bars that I hadn’t put up for sale because of the partial gel:
It’s great soap (of course!) and has been curing for months so it’s wonderfully hard, but it’s just not perfect, so I wasn’t happy selling it. Anyway, there’s only so much ‘reject’ soap that we can get through at home, so I decided to offer it for half price on my Facebook page. I had absolutely no idea it would prove so popular. I went off to a dentist appointment and forgot about soap for a while, and when I came out my notifications were going crazy and they were all sold no time. Why on earth has it taken me so long to do that?
On Wednesday I sent off my application for the largest Christmas fair around here, the Portmeirion Winter Fair. It’s held on the first weekend of December, and I had a great (and profitable!) time there last year, so fingers crossed I can return this year.
Thursday was soapmaking day – woop! I made 4 loaves (60 bars) of my most time-consuming bar, the seven colour Tutti Frutti, scented with a jelly beans fragrance oil. I also made a batch of my luxury Facial Bar, in my tall ‘n’ skinny mould from The Moulds Shop. Nope, I’m not on commission, I just love their moulds :-D.
(Yes, that’s a permanent kink in the silicone liner 🙁 Entirely my fault, I stored it badly)
Generally I don’t gel my soaps. It’s too difficult to cover my textured tops to insulate them, so I don’t normally bother. Last time I made the facial bars I got a partial gel so this time, when I saw that the batter in the mould was starting to gel, I popped it outside into the (hot!) sunshine and let it do its thing. Because I don’t often get to see the gelling process, I excitedly took a few snaps along the way:
At this point I had to go over to the office and was worried that the batch might overheat if I left it in the sun unattended, so I brought it indoors again. I’m sure it would have been fine, and I kind of wish I’d left it out to finish off, but never mind…
On Friday morning I unmoulded and cut the facial bars:
I am ridiculously, utterly excited about this facial bar. I’ve been using it myself for months, to the exclusion of anything else, and I absolutely LOVE it. I don’t want or need anything else. It’s been tested by many others, and the feedback has been amazing, so this batch is the first that I’ll be offering for sale, probably in mid to late August. It’s got some wonderful ingredients, including evening primrose, sweet almond, jojoba and argan oils, and I’ll be writing a post about it closer to the launch date.
I took Friday afternoon off (yes, more time off lol) and caught up with an old friend, so I was back into the office on Saturday, just briefly, to cut the Tutti Frutti soaps:
The rest of Saturday (or what felt like an awful lot of it anyway) was spent painting our hallway. Not exciting, but very satisfying. Oh, and avoiding the flippin’ football. Apparently England are doing ok? Bah – give me the Tour de France any day 😉
Thanks for reading, have a great week, and I’ll be back soon!
Uh oh. I’m a day late posting again. I should have written and shared this yesterday. I had plenty of time to do so, but I was resting a freshly sprained ankle and if I’m honest I was feeling totally unmotivated and a little sorry for myself.
But hey, today’s a new day and I can just about hobble from one place to another, so that means it’s getting better, right? Anyway, my positivity has returned. Woo hoo!
Last Monday was mostly spent doing paperwork and putting together orders, and I had to wait until Tuesday to get any soaping done. Four loaves of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey were the result:
I ran out of the darker brown, so two loaves were made with it, and two loaves without. This is a quick snap I took of the freshly cut bars, just to compare the two colourways. I definitely prefer the version with the darker brown – what do you think?
I got some happy mail on Tuesday too. I’ve long admired the talents of Hayley of Paintbox Soapworks on Instagram, and was thrilled when she agreed to a soap trade. This gorgeous and generous selection is what she sent. I can’t tell you how good it all smells, and I can only hope that one day I can be as accomplished at the hot process technique:
Tuesday night (all night) was spent nursing a poor boy with an ear infection. I got very little sleep, and consequently very little got done on Wednesday. I spent the day in a fugue of tiredness, and pottered about the house doing the bare minimum. Luckily the little fella got some antibiotics and was soon on the mend.
Thursday was spent putting together an order for a brand new customer. All these bars were packed up and dispatched to the wonderful Cwtchicoo, a fellow Welsh business which specialises in baby photography, props and luxurious blankets:
Thursday evening was a toughie. After a few hours of hard work I earned my purple striped belt in kickboxing, and went home battered, bruised and knackered, but happy 😀
Friday was spent in a state of mild anxiety if I’m honest. I was preparing to host my first Bathbomb Making Workshop at the Glosters Creative Hub the following day. Although I was really looking forward to it, and I knew I would be fully prepared, you never really know how it’s going to go. I had to make sure that I had everything I needed for each attendee (ingredients, utensils & sundries such as disposable gloves/aprons etc) plus extra in case of last minute bookings. I also had to be sure that I knew exactly what I was going to cover theory-wise, that I knew what we were going to make, that handouts / recipes were prepared and printed, that my ‘plan’ for the three hours was doable… Lots to plan and consider and I used my usual method of mentally working through the whole session and making notes of requirements as I go along. It was only after going through this process to the VERY end that I realised that I hadn’t considered how the attendees were going to take home their bombs. Boxes were swiftly found and packed!
Saturday morning I was up bright and early and off to run the workshop. Thankfully all the preparation paid off and it was a successful workshop. There were five lovely ladies and an adorable four year old called Dexter:
and look how well they did:
It was a great session, and the attendees all seemed to go home really happy. I could have kicked myself that I hadn’t thought to make up some feedback forms to be completed before they left, but they’re on the list for next time.
Afterwards, as I was loading the car, was when I tripped and sprained my ankle. Right in the middle of the street. Carelessness I guess. A kind passer-by helped me load up the car and I managed to drive home somehow, but as soon as I took my boot off my ankle swelled right up and that was it – no more walking for the rest of the day, or the following one (Sunday) for that matter – it was incredibly sore. By today (Monday) I’m able to weight-bear a little, so I’m hobbling and wobbling about painfully and hoping it continues to improve…
So yesterday was a total waste of a day – I relaxed a bit and read a bit, and generally felt sorry for myself. There were a couple of rays of sunshine though – one was my 4 year old writing me a little get-well note (that blob is a heart, apparently :-D)…
…and the second was finding out that I’d won an Instagram giveaway – the prize being something I’ve genuinely lusted after for quite a while. It should arrive at some point this week so you’ll have wait until my next update to see what it is – sorry! 😀
I normally try to get this weekly round up out on Sunday evening but yesterday was Mothering Sunday here in the UK and there was no way this was going to get written last night. I had a lovely day actually – woken by very excited children at 7am and brought a card, flowers AND chocolate in bed.
A quick 5k run at 8.30 was followed by an extremely good breakfast at a local cafe Caffi Gwynant, a long walk in the hills:
and the day was rounded off with a roast dinner at home with my mum and her partner. A glass of wine turned into a couple more, and while we managed to get the washing up done, writing wasn’t really an option lol…
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. The week started, as it so often does these days, with a soapmaking session… Four loaves of Bewitched:
And I also made two loaves of Castile.
Castile isn’t one of my best sellers, but I have a small (and growing) group of return customers, so I always make sure it’s in stock.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos worth sharing of the cut of these two yet, but here’s a new photo of Bewitched from a batch that’s just finished curing…
I sent out a couple of wholesale orders last week – one to the shop at Storiel in Bangor, and one to Siop Ogwen in Bethesda (which reminds me I really need to update my stockist list), and I also spent the best part of one whole day wrapping and labelling bathbombs…
On Thursday we woke up to an unexpected dump of snow, and soon after we got notification that the school was closed. The kids were thrilled, me not so much – another day’s work missed, but we baked a couple of Lemon Drizzle Cakes so it wasn’t all bad 😀
Did you see my Happy Mail on Instagram or Twitter? The super generous Terry of Oldways Soap agreed to trade soap with me, and this is what our postie delivered last week:
Aren’t they gorgeous? Five varieties of soap (one of which has already joined me in the shower) PLUS a bunny each for the children (who were utterly thrilled – far more than they ever are with any of my bars lol…) Terry is an expert at the Hot Process method (which I tried for the first time a couple of weeks ago) and she’s given me some hints and tips for my next batch which I’m looking forward to putting into practice soon.
So other than sending out the usual stream of retail orders for soap and bathbombs, that was my week. This coming week is going to be very busy – I have a bathbomb making workshop on Saturday morning, and then a craft fair on Sunday, both of which I need to prep for. I also have a few wholesale orders to get out this week, I’m making soap tomorrow (Tues) for a change, I have a networking meeting on Wednesday morning, AND my grading for my next kickboxing belt is on Thursday. Plenty to write about next week lol…
Sometimes a week goes completely differently to expectation. This last week the kids have been home from school for the half-term break (already! Yikes…) and I honestly thought it was going to be a toughie. I’m right in the middle of the pre-Christmas rush and I knew Dean was crazy busy with his work and not able to take any time off, so was resigned to night time working. I was able to arrange one reciprocal playdate with a friend who has similar aged children, so i had a houseful of children on Tuesday, and Thursday was to be my one and only ‘work’ day.
Still, on Monday and Tuesday I managed to escape over to the office at 4pm when Dean finished work to pack up a few orders. When I got back, I found out that he’d managed to take the following day off as a holiday so that I could work. He’s a good ‘un.
So of course on Wednesday I took full advantage of an unexpected work day and made a load of bathbombs, as well as making a serious dent in the orders that needed to be packed and dispatched.
Thursday was my kind of day. Once the kids had been safely delivered to their friends’ house, I made over 16kg of soap – the first time I’ve ever used all my moulds at once:
I think I may need more moulds! Clockwise from top left these are Serenity (Patch, Ylang Ylang, Lemon & Sweet Orange EOs), Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime EOs). Blodau (Lavender & Ylang Ylang EOs) and Luscious Lavender.
Later on Thursday Dean said he’d managed to get the Friday off too – result! I managed to get another few batches of bath bombs made, and then I indulged in a little experimentation I made another test batch of lip balm – this time in packaged in a tin:
This one was made with beeswax, cocoa butter and rice bran oil, and turned out harder than the last test – this one would probably have been better in a tube rather than a tin. I didn’t flavour or fragrance, and I think I prefer it that way…
I also tried making whipped body butter – two separate batches, both made with unrefined shea butter and coconut oil, with a touch of evening primrose oil. I added lavender and rosemary essential oils to the first batch, and ylang ylang and benzoin essential oils PLUS 1tblsp of arrowroot powder to the second batch.
Amazing how much final product came from a relatively small amount of oils – these are far from dainty containers (I popped a pound coin in the photo to give some idea of scale):
I used unrefined shea butter, and I’m definitely not a fan of the fragrance – I’ll use refined next time, which is what I usually use in my soap. I also didn’t add enough fragrance, although it might be that the shea was overpowering the essential oils.
On first trying it I found the body butter to have quite a greasy texture. Being used to commercial body butters, this version does feel oily on the skin, but having used it for a few days now I find I’m liking it more and more – it sinks into my skin quite nicely. The arrowroot is supposed to reduce the greasiness of the body butter but I can’t discern much difference between the one with, and the one without.
On Saturday I took over family duties while Dean did some work on the house – the children and I visited the library and went swimming, then had fish and chips at the beach.
On Sunday Dean and the children went to visit friends for the afternoon while I went to the office and unmoulded, then cut, the soap from Thursday’s soaping session. I’m conscious that I often share photos of freshly poured soap and then forget to share the cut pictures, so I made a special effort to get a snap of the freshly cut soap – do bear in mind that they’re still soft here and haven’t been tidied up yet. Clockwise from top left – Luscious Lavender, Blodau, Botanica & Serenity:
Finally, some exciting news on the home front. Since moving into this house over three years ago now we’ve lived with a really grotty bathroom while we upgraded other parts of the house and it’s meant that I haven’t been able to share the kind of in-use product photos I would have liked. This week work begins on our new bathroom – woop! I can’t wait to share pictures, just as soon as it’s done.
This week is half term here in in Wales, a week later than the rest of the United Kingdom it seems. This means, of course, that there’s no school all week, and I’m left wondering how I’m going to fit in everything I have to do while entertaining two energetic children. It also means that this is going to be a whistle-stop post as every minute counts this week!
On Monday I made two double batches of Candy Cane and Frosted Christmas Tree. I’ve been caught by surprise somewhat at how well (and quickly) these soaps are selling, and seeing as I still have time, I made some more…
Wednesday was my last-but-one day at the day job, followed by kickboxing and then my last Wednesday night soapmaking demo of the season. I have been asked back for next year (yey!) but that won’t be until the hotel opens to guests again at the end of March.
Thursday was bittersweet. My last day at the pre-school was lovely – we took the children for pizza and ice-cream, and then to the park and everyone had a wonderful time. It was sad to think that I won’t be working closely with them again BUT I can’t wait to be able to focus properly on this business from now on (well, after this week anyway!!) As soon as Dean finished work at 4pm I headed over to the office to put together orders for the following day’s deliveries and ended up feeling elated and just a little bit in awe at how quickly the Christmas soaps are heading out the door!
Friday morning was spent making soap deliveries, including to a brand new stockist – always exciting! The sky was clear and it was a joy to drive around beautiful Snowdonia in the sunshine, delivering soap and chatting to the stockists. I had a load of wrapping and labelling to do in the afternoon, in preparation for the Porthmadog Craft Fair the following day but by 7pm I’d had enough and took the evening off.
Up and out early the next day for the end of month craft fair in Porthmadog. Honestly, I think it was the quietest day I’ve ever had there in all the years I’ve attended. I suppose it’s that lull between the end of the summer season and the start of the Christmas shopping, but given that I’m busier than ever with wholesale and online orders I really didn’t mind. While I was there I managed to put together a long list of places I want to approach in the new year with a view to becoming stockists, and also worked on plans for new projects, so it wasn’t wasted time.
I spent most of Sunday with Dean and the children on a Halloween themed day out. The plan was to have a completely work-free day but during the drive home I started getting anxious about my low stocks of bathbombs. Arrghhh! I couldn’t help myself, I made 5 different varieties – 75 in total. Ho hum… the life of a business owner 😀
Back tomorrow for the last Blogtober post of 2017 – woo hoo!!
Blimey it’s been a busy week! It started on Monday with two double batches of Luscious Lavender and Warm Gingerbread:
and continued on Tuesday with two double batches Welsh Rose and Clarity:
I was so SO pleased that the Clarity turned out ok:
The two previous batches failed (I wrote about that trauma here) and I still need to try my hand at rectifying the failed batches with the oven method. Soon, soon…
Wednesday was my regular weekly soaping presentation. I only have one more to go this season before the hotel closes for winter, but I’ve been asked to go back in the spring which I’m really happy about. That’ll be my fourth year so I must be doing something right!
On Thursday (after the day job) I spent the late afternoon / most of the evening wrapping and labelling soap for the Beddgelert Craft Fair the following Saturday. I spent all day (and evening) on Friday doing the same.
Saturday was the fair itself and, being the organiser, I needed to be there before anyone else to set up, and was the last to leave after the clear up. Despite the (relatively) poor turnout, which was entirely down to the rubbish weather, it really was a good day. The stallholders and customers left happy, and I breathed a sigh of relief – it’s definitely going ahead again next year 🙂
Sunday, yesterday, was a family day. I needed a breather, away from work, so the kids and I baked and generally spent the day relaxing. Well, as much as one can relax when one’s dear husband is taking apart the bathroom… Yep, the next phase of home renovation has started, the reno-rollercoaster has begun again and we should have a shiny new bathroom by Christmas. I’ll share pictures when I can.
°OMG I’m so relived today. Remember a couple of day ago in my last Reader’s Questions post where I confessed that I’d recently had two failed double batches of Clarity? The ones that looked like this when cut?
6kg / 12lbs of soap that I don’t know what to do with (except I might have a plan, which I’ll come to in a moment..)
Anyway, it was with much trepidation that I decided I had to attempt making it again. It’s a REALLY good seller, and I can’t afford to run out, but I was nervous – wasting more precious oils (both regular and essential!) wasn’t an option. I had decided that it was probably down to a partial gel situation, and it would appear that, contrary to what I said here about changes in the weather not affecting my soapmaking, recent changes in the weather had indeed affected my soapmaking (Gah! This is where making bold statements in a blog post gets me!!!!)
I decided to try the CPOP (Cold Process Oven Process) method. I made the soap with the oils and lye solution just a little warmer than room temp (I usually soap at room temp) and preheated both ovens (on the dough proving setting) to just 40°C. I had to use both ovens as I make two loaves at a time but can only fit one in at time:
I did actually try to take a pic with the door closed but it didn’t quite come out as planned :-D:
So, I left the moulds in there for an hour, then turned off the heat and left them there for another hour.
When I took them out the tops definitely looked different to my non-CPOPped batches:
And then, a mere 24 hours later (I usually leave them in the mould for 48 hours) I cut the first one loaf, practically holding my breath as I brought the wire down for the first slice…Success!! (but do bear in mind that these are freshly cut and not yet tarted up…)
Cue a little happy dance…
And what to do with the other 6kg of spoiled soap? Well, in the comments section of this post where I also shared my ‘fail’, Sly of Soaps by Sly was kind enough to share a video of Tania of Soapish showing a method that seems to ‘fix’ a partial gel. This could be a gamechanger, and I’m definitely planning on giving it a go (just don’t ask me when!!)
It’s been a quieter week on the soaping front. I was grateful for that to be honest – we had family visiting for the first half of the week, and I’ve been getting into the swing of Blogtober. Day 9 today, almost a third of the way through the month already!!
On Monday I made two double batches, both restocks, of Welsh Rose and Blodau:
The Welsh Rose wasn’t my best – it accelerated a little and the colours weren’t as bright as they usually are, but it’ll be fine. The Blodau on the other hand, turned out great – this is a closeup of it in the mould which proved to be really popular on Instagram:
On Tuesday I made more restocks – double batches of Clarity and Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands):
The new wire for my cutter arrived on Tuesday, and it would appear I ordered the wrong one again. AARRGGHHH It was a coiled string (?) and slightly thicker than I expected it to be. Well, we fitted it onto the cutter anyway (taking a bit of a risk but by Wednesday morning I had 12kg of soap to cut and I couldn’t risk it getting too hard) and although it IS a little too thick, it did the trick. I did a bit of research and discovered that I probably need 20 gauge wire, so I’ve ordered some and it should be here soon. What a flippin’ palaver!
On Wednesday evening I gave my regular weekly soapmaking presentation. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy giving these. It often turns into a bit of a conversation rather than a ‘talk’ and I get to indulge in waffling on about my favourite subject to a captive audience. AND then I get to sell them soap too! I’ve only got another two or three weeks to go before they stop for the winter, but the manager has already asked me to go back next season – hurrah!
Thursday was another completely soap free day, and Friday was spent in the office, cutting soap, labelling soap, wrapping soap, photographing soap etc etc….
I took some better pictures of my Christmas specials, which I’ll be sharing with you this week, and of the mountain soap (from yesterday’s post) and this one – the Blodau from earlier this week:
I realised that the reason I don’t get round to sharing cut pictures as much as the ones in the mould is that I don’t usually tidy them up until they’ve been curing for a couple of weeks, so I made and effort to try to tidy up the freshly cut bar and take a picture, and it worked ok I think:
Towards Friday evening I started to develop a sore throat which worsened as the evening went on and meant I got very little sleep on Friday night. Saturday was spent feeling ill, lethargic, weak and sorry for myself generally, and Sunday was mostly spent in bed, trying desperately to kick whatever it was that was making me feel so rubbish…
I’ll be back tomorrow, come what may, hopefully with a clearer head and body that’s more willing to co-operate!!
This last week has been incredibly tiring, if I’m honest. I’ve had busy days and evenings, and I’ve really seen the effect on my energy levels. I’m hoping that adding Blogtober into the mix for the next month isn’t the crazy idea that I’m currently thinking it might be…
Monday has been become my regular soaping day (as I need to have a loaf ready to cut on Wednesday evenings for my Soapmaking presentation) and last Monday was no exception. I made three double batches of Bewitched, Lemon Verbena Confetti & Christmas tree:
And a close up of the Bewitched, because I can’t resist those swirls…
On Tuesday I was out and about delivering stock to local shops and doing a bank run, then spent the rest of the day wrapping and labelling bars. I’ve recently bought some shrink wrap bags to try, as I’m still not happy with my packaging, so I had a bit of a play with them too. During the evening I was out at a meeting of the local Village Hall Committee meeting (of which I’m the Secretary)
Wednesday saw me at the day job in a local Pre-School, and in the evening I was out giving my weekly soapmaking presentation at a local hotel, and then on Thursday I was back at the day job again, and in the evening I had another meeting, this time for the Annual General Meeting of the Pre-School committee (of which I’m Treasurer)
Friday was again spent wrapping and labelling soaps and bathbombs, as I had the monthly Porthmadog Craft Fair the following day, and I’d realised that I didn’t have nearly enough stock ready to take. I also needed to cut all the soap which I made on Monday (which I really should have cut on Wednesday!) but I got halfway through and the wire snapped on my cutter. Arrgghhh… Never mind, I was well prepared and had some replacement E strings ready for precisely this eventuality. Except I’d bought E 1st strings, instead of E 6th strings. Who knew that there are two DIFFERENT E strings on a guitar? Double arrgghhh… . I swiftly ordered some of the correct ones, but they won’t be delivered until next week, and I have soap to cut, so I asked Dean to fit one of the thin ones with the idea of giving it a try the next day when I could get back to the office.
I did manage to get the Lemon Verbena Confetti cut before the wire snapped:
THEN I remembered that I needed to print some new name/price cards for the fair, so Friday evening was spent wrestling with my printer. I have an intense love / hate relationship with my super-duper wireless printer. When it works, I absolutely flippin’ love it, but I’m essentially a hardware technophobe and when it doesn’t work, I’m screwed. On Friday night it didn’t work, I was tired and frustrated and about to have a meltdown when my other half stepped in and sorted it out. Meltdown averted….
Saturday was the craft fair. A fairly early start which didn’t help my tired state, and not a particularly busy day, but hey ho, you win some you lose some… I don’t think the weather helped:
While I was there I took some photographs of all the other crafters’ stalls – there’ll be a post coming up about this local monthly event as part of Blogtober but for now here’s a little peek at my stall:
I got home around 3pm, and spent the rest of the day preparing for a visit from Dean’s parents who were coming the following morning and staying a few days.
Those six days were the busiest I’ve been in a long time, and I can’t even blame the business! Sunday, by comparison, was a joy. A lovely family day – breakfast out with the in-laws, a bit of biscuit making (Viennese fingers – recipe to follow) a relaxed afternoon in front of the fire, rounded off with a roast chicken dinner. Even the pounding rain couldn’t put a damper on it. Bliss.
I’ll be back tomorrow with a roundup of September’s goals…
Just a quick catch up this week. Posts have been fairly few and fair between over the last couple of weeks because I’m gearing up for Blogtober – every time I think ‘Ooh, that might make a good blog post’ I decide to save it for next month…
I was waiting for supplies to arrive last week so I only made one main batch of soap – a remake of ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (Snowdon):
I’ve been trying to find a better way to create this design – this was the previous version which, while it sold really well, has, to me, more than a passing resemblance to *ahem* dog mess :-/
and when I saw the lovely designs created and document by Danica on her blog Seife und anderes, I realised that the sculpted layers technique might just be the way forward. There’s a great description of the technique on Danica’s blog, so I won’t go into details here (and anyway, I forgot to take any photos of the process, I was so anxious to get on with it – next time I will definitely document it better) so here’s the final result:
The colours aren’t quite right this time – the mountain needs to be more grey, and the greenery needs to be more, well, green… but I’m getting there. It’s fragranced with a blend of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and patchouli.
I also made another batch of dinosaurs and more stars for the next batches of Frosted Christmas Tree (which I still need to photograph to show you – oops!)
A couple of weeks ago I ordered a selection of green mica samples from U-Makeitup and this week they arrived – a lovely collection:
Oh, and the Christmas ribbons have started to arrive – I know it probably still feels a bit early but I’ve already had a wholesale order for my Christmas range for delivery by 22nd October, so there’s no time to be to complacent…
Thanks for reading – my next post will be the first of this year’s Blogtober posts on the 1st of the month (next Sunday – eek!)
It would appear that Autumn is well and truly here. There’s a chill in the air in the mornings, and we’re lighting the fire every evening. It’s also a reminder that Christmas is coming, and with it that big, three day Christmas Fair I’ve committed myself to at the beginning of December – eek! To that end, this week’s soapmaking was all holiday based: Double batches of Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree and Warm Gingerbread:
I’ve not taken ‘proper’ photographs of the cuts yet, but here’s a sneaky peek at the Frosted Christmas Tree:
And a quick (and rather rubbish – sorry!!) snap of the Warm Gingerbread (this is the previous weeks batch – this week’s moved even more quickly and I didn’t even attempt the drop!)
I had a bit of a mishap with the Candy Cane – there was a knock on the door mid-pour, and instead of ignoring it I went to answer it, thinking that the soap batter was nice and fluid and I could leave it a moment or two… There’s a lesson learnt – I was away from the soap just that little bit too long and when I came back it had thickened up too much to finish off the drop swirl, arrghhhhh….
Bath bombs are a relatively new thing for me and I’ve always found them a little tedious to make to be honest. Last Friday I made 90 of them, and I seemed to be quicker this time. I guess practice does make perfect (still need a LOT of practice though :-D) They were pretty trouble free, except for one variety, but that’s a story for another day…
I also packaged up another 100 guest soaps, and bevelled a load more – there’s confetti soap on the horizon I reckon:
On a personal note, the highlight of the week was earning my green belt in kickboxing on Monday night:
Unfortunately I didn’t feel quite so kickass when I got to training on Wednesday night and discovered exactly what I’m going to have to do to earn my blue belt – there’s some hard work ahead of me!!
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