Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Little of What I've Been Up To

My recent efforts into soapmaking. I have to say, most of these didn't turn out like I had planned, but I have come to like the results.
  1. Sweet Tarts Sweet Heart soap, contains olive oil, coconut oil and palm. It is scented with a fragrance oil from Nature's Garden, smells like Sweetarts to me; grape, berries and oakmoss.
  2. My Tester soap, contains olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. This was a free sample from Nature's Garden. The soap separated on me and needed to be rebatched. You can read my adventure's of this here. Skinny calls this soap the Sausage soap, LOL. The scent came through the cook very well, at least for my nose. It is a very fruity, juicy scent. If I can get this again, I'd like to try it in my usual 4lb batch instead of a smaller one. 
  3. Rose and Violet soap, contains olive oil, rice bran oil, castor oil, coconut oil and mowrah butter. Scented with Nature's Garden Rose and Violet fragrance oil. This soap accelerated on me due to being too cool and soaping in a cold environment. It came out quite well, just not as planned. I popped a few rose buds and petals on top.
  4. Easter Confetti soap, contains olive oil, coconut oil and palm oil. Another scent from Nature's Garden, Champagne Pomegranate. Using up the some of the colored soap from my Sweet Tarts soap.
  5. Flowery Meadow soap, contains rice bran oil, palm kernal flakes, castor oil, mowrah butter, soybean oil, palm oil and almond milk. Yet another Nature's Garden scent, very floral. This one overheated and is still very slick with oil. I'm gonna test it out and see if I need to wait longer for the soap to reabsorb the oil or if I should go ahead and rebatch it.
  6. Twilight Skies soap, contains rice bran oil, lard, coconut & jojoba oils. My very first all essential oil soap with Lavender, Lemon Eucalyptus, Tea Tree, Orange, Clove and Star Anise.
I was in a Nature's Garden kick I think.  Even though I don't sell my soap, I love making it. I'm addicted to soap making. I have made another soap not pictured here for Cowboy Preacher, Barbados. A scent that Cowboy Preacher helped to blend. It smells divine, spicy bay, rum and coconut. Even more soap is in my future. Happy Soaping.

Meal Planning 2013

Well, it is another year and of course I'm late posting my little Meal Planner. Actually I debated whether I wanted to continue making this available or not. I have the undated version from a few years ago still available. For the last few months I have been meal planning using an app on my android phone. Yes, I'm a little behind the times and such. I like it that way. A friend had posted on Facebook an article on how to get more organized using your smart phone and I decided to look into it.

I've been using Pepperplate. I like that is has a section for recipes, planner and shopping list. I organized the shopping list according to how I shop. I love that. Adding recipes from some of my favorite cooking sites is dead easy. I still need to work on adding my recipes to the queue, but I'll get to it eventually. I like how I can increase or decrease the recipe. I have some issues with the shopping list, but I think that is me.

It has been nice. It has been easy. I found though, that I miss writing things down. It was nice just to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, my pencil and Meal Planner and just jot meals down. My boys liked having it around to look at themselves without always asking me what was for dinner. I don't generally add the meals to my little poster when I plan on my phone or computer. So here it is, my 2013 Meal Planner.
I decided to be a little more fanciful and decorate it a little. I am usually frugal and save my color ink for the "really important" stuff, but sometimes a gal has got to have some color. You can download it from my Dropbox here. Instructions on how to put the booklet together are here.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Nature's Garden Haul and Testing

 My family was thoroughly blessed this Christmas Season. Our church was very generous, to my children and to Cowboy Preacher and I. So as part of my Christmas gift with some of our Christmas money, I got myself some lovely fragrances. It was a lovely little splurge I don't get all that often. So here is my Nature's Garden haul:
  1. Burgundy Rose 4 oz (This is a restock for me, love this scent)
  2. Creamy Coconut 4 oz (Another restock)
  3. Bergamot 1oz
  4. Champagne Pomegranate 1oz
  5. Christmas Cabernet 1oz
  6. Lemon Meringue Pie 1oz
  7. Mojito 1oz
  8. Misbehavin 1oz
  9. NB Baby Bee Buttermilk type 1oz
  10. Yuzu 1oz
  11. Basil Sage Mint 1oz
  12. Lime Cilantro 1oz
  13. Dragon's Blood 1oz
  14. Oatmeal, Milk and Honey 1oz
  15. Sweetgrass 1oz
  16. Tomato Leaf Coriander 1oz
  17. Peppermint 1oz
  18. Sangria Punch 1oz
  19. Bay Rum 1oz
  20. Ocean Mist 1oz
Most of these I will be using in soap. Some will make it to lotions and bath bombs and such. Cowboy Preacher has never been more delighted smelling fragrances from Nature's Garden compared to the other companies fragrances. He has a great nose, so I usually drag him into smelling everything with me. In fact, he already told me which ones he wanted in his soaps and lotions. O happy day! The whole family gets into the sniff-a-thon. I'm a little sensitive to scents, so most of the 1 oz samples will make it into my usually 4lb batch of soap. Unless, I also make a matching lotion, the it will be 2lbs and some lotion. So this will be a lot of soap. *Happy Dance*

 I signed up for the free 1 oz fragrance tester sample as well hoping there'd be an available sample left for me. I was happy to see that did get one. Papaya Guava Mango.

It was kind of a mystery. There was no information on it. Nature's Garden is good about listing what you need to know about a fragrance oil. I thought it was terribly exciting to be testing a new fragrance. It smelled so fruity and very juicy. I had already started to plan what I wanted to do with this.

Now the soap I had planned for this tester was going to have four colors. Natural soap base to see if the fragrance discolored the soap. Pink kaolin clay for the guava, French green clay for the papaya and tumeric yellow for the mango.

I used my Trinity soap base (40% Olive oil, 30% Coconut, 30% Palm Oil) as I knew how it would behave. I decided that instead of a 4 lb batch, I'd go with a 2 lb batch (I mean 2 lbs of oils, so with the addition to the water and NaOH, the finished soap will weigh more than 2 lbs).

The problems start.

I usually soap cool, barely letting the oils melt before adding the hot lye solution. I get antsy and don't want to wait for the solution to cool down. I like to freeze the distilled water and make a cooler solution, but I forgot to freeze the water. Let me tell ya, if you soap cool, it isn't a good idea to do that in a cold room. The  soap was starting to accelerate to trace when I only wanted emulsification. Oh well, that's ok, I'll just plop the soap into the mold. So I separated out the soap batter so I could mix in the colorants. Then I remembered I hadn't even added the fragrance. So it was a dollop in each of the colorants and the rest into the main uncolored soap.

I stick blend the fragrance into the soap. It loosened up immediatly. Some fragrances have done that to me in the past so I was kinda happy. More room to be creative. It loosened up the colored soap batter as well. Then I look in the main bowl. SEPARATION!

At first I thought it was only ricing on me, but no, I could see the oils coming right out. Working as fast as I could, I tried to stick blend it all into submission. No dice, it would blend together great, then start to separate as soon as I stopped the hand blender. So frustrating, I could almost cry for the lost of the beautiful soap I had envisioned. I molded it anyway and put it into the oven to force gel; hoping for the best, expecting to rebatch it anyway.

I worked on some other soaps and then went to bed. The next morning this is what the soap looked like.  I noticed that the soap left in my soap bowl was bright yellow, interesting.

Floating oil on top. Grains of lye heavy soap. *Sigh* Rebatch time.

One thing you should know about me. I can't stand wasting anything. Most especially the ingredients making up a soap. I know I can salvage this, it is just going to look ugly and most likely flash off the scent. Now, I've never had a situation like this before, but I was hoping that despite the separation, I could save this soap.

Into the crockpot it goes. I was surprised to see how hard the soap under the oils was. Cutting through the lye heavy soap, I could see how it was crumbly like all the research I had done said that lye heavy soap would be.

As you can see, the natural soap base has turned very bright yellow. I used too much of the pink kaolin clay, so that looks more red than pink. The green didn't even show up and the yellow was muted by the non colored clay. Since it was still fresh, I didn't add any additional water. But I was concerned as to how much oil was lost, so I added the rest of my avocado oil to the pot, around 2 or 3 ounces, so this soap will be really superfatted.

After it cooked a nice long time, it looked very much like my hot process soap looked. I molded it in my round silicone mold and let it sit. Even though it is very humid and rainy here, once it cooled completely, it was hard enough to unmold. I like how pieces of the "red" came through. I usually would add more fragrance oil at the end, but I guess cooking it on low helped a bunch. This soap still smells wonderful. I was really surprised. Now it will most likely be too light for some people, but in the end, this is the concentration I like my soaps to smell. It even leaves a light scent on my hands that disapates in time. The soap turned out lovely lather and feels very nice in the end. So I guess I don't mind too much that it looks a little brownish with red flecks. I love this scent.

Nature's Garden, my recommendation is that this is not suitable for cold process at all. It seems to discolor the soap yellow. The fragrance cause separation in cold process. It works great in Hot Process though. I really love how fruity this scent is and I would definitely buy it for my Hot Process soaps.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy New Year! 2013

Happy New Year everyone. I hope that everyone had a safe and fun holidays. Our Christmas was fairly quiet, peaceful even. I got to sit back and enjoy the joy on all the kiddos faces. Several people blessed our children greatly this Christmas and they enjoyed the blessings full well. It was Princess' first Christmas, but we didn't do any special photoshoot or anything. I wanted a stress free Christmas and I got it.

My New Year's goal is to get to blogging a bit more. I have loads of ideas and crafts I'd like to share. Princess is getting more independent and I am getting my energy back. My schedule has been sadly lacking so it is off to reorganize my Home book a little. Actually, it is a total mess since I haven't cracked it since Princess was born. My sanity has suffered for it I think. I have be making inroads into being more organized and that has made me feel loads better. I have also lost 10 pounds this Christmas season, crazy. I am looking forward to losing more baby fat as well.

I have been watching some new videos and people on YouTube and they have inspired me to start experimenting. Cowboy Preacher is also looking forward to some special formulations I am planning to hopefully help with some skin problems he has been dealing with. I look forward to all that I will be learning from these trials and experiments.

New Year's Eve we usually have a Game Night at the church, but really I didn't feel well enough to put something on. So we stayed at home. What was to be a early night for me, turned into diluting a liquid soap I had made a couple years back. I had found it in my soaping supplies with no note as to the ingredients. (Another goal is to take better notes.) I knew it was olive oil based and so decided to play with it. Since I had sealed the soap paste in a vacuum bag, I knew it was still alright to use. It turned out great. I scented it with a little Sangria Punch from Nature's Garden. It smells divine, I am so buying more of the fragrance. Later on I will be doing a post on my haul from them.

2012 has been an excellent year and went by so fast. I am looking forward to seeing what God has in store for 2013.