Sunday, March 31, 2019

Spring Giveaway!!!

Before I talk about the spring giveaway let's talk about soap. I always get lots of questions when I announce a giveaway so maybe I can give you some answers right now.

First, lets talk about ingredients. For many of you this is a primary concern. If you are like me and you are sensitive to lots of things, you need to know what I put it in.

Every bar has a label on the back.

The oils I use the most are olive, coconut, palm, canola, rice bran, avocado, sesame, sweet almond, safflower and castor. From time to time I add a splash of wheat germ and hemp. When I do I put it on the label. I also always add hard butters like shea, cocoa and mango.

 I add a lot of milk powders. Coconut, buttermilk, goat and soy are my favorites. I also add a few spoonfuls of yogurt powder and sometimes a squirt of honey. They make the lather creamy.

 For even more slip, I add kaolin clay. For color I use titanium dioxide for white and cosmetic grade micas for the rest. Everything is FDA approved for soap.

One of the weird things you will see on the label is sodium lactate. It's a salt solution which helps harden the bars and add to the lather. I've tried dissolving my own salt but it's harder than you think to get it right so I use a commercial product instead.

I used to try to clean the naturally forming the soda ash off the top by steaming but now I just go along with it and add a lot of sparkle.

 After some cosmetic glitter I add a sprinkling of sea salts. It's pretty but it's probably a good idea to wash it all off before use especially if you use it on your face first.

The most iffy ingredient is always the fragrance. If anything ruins a batch, it's the fragrance. I look up the FDA approved amount per batch and then use a quarter of it so all my soaps are barely scented because fragrance can make me itch. It's why I make my own soap in the first place and that's why I test them all before I send them out. If they don't meet my very high standards they become kitchen soap. So far, no duds in this batch. Brambleberry makes excellent fragrance oils. for the giveaway. Pick FOUR of your favorite soaps from this post or this post or this post and I will see that you get TWO of them. Pick from the photos and descriptions that look like this one. The strongest scented ones are Waterlily Bluebell and Blue Agave Sugar. The other ones are all on the mild side with Jasmine Dream the mildest of all.

One of your soap picks can also be the glycerin soap that I posted about on Friday. Pikake is the strongest scent. Cherry Blossom is the mildest. Tropical Vacation is somewhere in the middle.

You also get to pick ONE "ride along". You can pick a yummy night time lip balm in the Pineapple Colada flavor OR......

...... a full size lotion bar in the Creamsicle Cybilla scent OR a sample of my newly formulated Whipped Pineapple Butter that I have been using as a cuticle cream on my poor wood ravaged hands. It's lovely and does not smell like my first attempt using the natural shea and cocoa butter that ended up smelling like chocolate covered pineapple.

OR you can pick a small pot luck sample of the glycerin soap.

You old timers know the drill. Go to Ravelry or and send me your choices and your mailing info and sometime in April you will get your soapy surprise package....

...that includes the bunny card-no strings attached.

The last question I always have to answer is....NO. I don't sell the soap. I know it's crazy but I love making it and I can't use it all up so I have to get rid of it. I factor mailing costs in with my hobby allowance so it's all good. I love making up your packages as much as I love making the soap. It keeps me busy for months so it's worth every penny.

So stop reading......and go pick your soap. I've got 150 lovely bars and they ALL need a good home.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Wash Day

 This is Trinidad.

She's a 3 pound fleece that I picked up last year at the MDSW.

I love it when Shepard's put these personal notes in the bag with the fleece. Who can resist a fleece with a face?

 I always wash in March for the Tour de Fleece and since it's almost not March I needed to play catch up.

 SInce Trini is a very clean girl she went into the kitchen sink. I know it sounds yucky but I nuclear bomb the sink with cleaners as soon as I am finished.  I actually don't really think it's any worse than putting a dead chicken in it anyway.

 While that fleece was soaking I got out the bag of fiber I washed last spring and gave it a carding with the carder.

I had spun up a sample during the last TdF and found her to not be on the terribly soft side so I am going to try to spin her for socks this July. There is nothing better than a thick pair of handspun socks over top of your regular wool socks when the polar vortex has come calling.

 I got two batts done before it was time to do some wood chores.

The washed fleece dried nicely in the bright March sun. March is the best month for washing. I wish I had remembered that sooner.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The Other Soap

I had a lot of nice fragrances from the spring and summer sample kits that I couldn't use in my regular lye soap. It was a shame not to use them. Then I remembered I had all these slabs of glycerin soap leftover from the baby shower soap making fiasco.

 When I couldn't get the baby themed fragrances to work with regular old lye based soap I had to resort to this quick fix. You can make it and use it the same day.

 I use a mixture of coconut, buttermilk and goat's milk commercially made soap bases with grated honey, hemp and aloe bases mixed in for extra moisturizing and general yumminess.

 It's so easy to make. You just melt it all up in the microwave and pour it in the mold. That's why it's called melt and pour soap. A spritz of alcohol tames all the bubbles and helps the layers stick together. It's like magic.

What I love the most about making this kind of soap is the clean up. Unlike your lye based batter it can go right in the kitchen sink. Nothing is toxic. No goggles or respirators are needed.

 What I don't like about this soap is cutting it. It's not soft like my other soap so I can't use the wire cutter on it. I have to slice it and I am pretty terrible at cutting a straight line. They all end up a bit wonky.

Meet Pikake Flower. See all those bits of yummy honey, hemp and aloe floating around just waiting to burst into a silky lather? I have no idea what a Pikake is but it smells exotic and sweet at the same time-kinda like gardenia.

 This is Cherry Blossom and it's yummy. Very cherry.

Tropical Vacation smells like a fruity drink you would sip on the beach-the kind that has an umbrella in it.

 I had so much fun making them that now I have a box full of them.

I'll be offering them up on Sunday for the Spring Giveaway. This time for real. These bars are the same size as my regular soap. I used the same mold for them. They smell a bit stronger even though I used only half of the fragrance oil that I would use in a lye processed soap which is a quarter of the suggested amount. Since the lye doesn't burn anything off the fragrance always stays nice and crisp. I love this type of soap for summer. Without all the heavy butters it rinses cleaner which is something I really appreciate once it gets hot and humid.

All the glycerin soaps are wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then placed in a sealed bag. Unlike the lye soap, you don't want it to breathe until you are ready to use it. It will pull moisture out of the air and dew drops will show up all over it, especially if it's humid. That glycerin dew will make you feel nice and silky but you don't want it working its magic until you are ready so you have to keep it in a dry place.

If you'd like to try it but don't want to waste your soap pick on one of the big ones, you can try a small sample. I've got a ton of these leftover from different giveaways and events. I'll have all the details on Sunday. Stay tuned. For real this time.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Wood Work

 All this nice weather gave us lots of time outside to get back to the tree mess.

It's time to deal with the really, really big ones now. It's scary. I won't go near the bigger gas powered chainsaws so that's all on The Mister.

I'm not very good at splitting either but I did some. I love watching The Mister split wood.

That's my very first cart load. I did it all by myself. Split and loaded. I managed four whole logs before I was worn out.

The wood from this particular tree is so pretty-but really heavy.

We split and loaded all day and when we were tired we just rolled the biggest of the logs across the yard to the new pile.

My reward was my first fire in my new pit. It was a little one but it was such a pleasure to put my feet up and listen to it crackle. I have to admit that I hated cutting down all my pretty trees but at the same time putting in a hard's days work is the cure for what ails you. I'm having a ball-blisters, bruises, backache and all.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Spring. Sprang, Sprung

 I think it's finally official.

 Spring is here to stay.

 I've got color where there used to only be gray.

 Even the heavily wooded areas are blooming.

 How these got out in the woods I'll never know. I wonder if they'll bloom.

 My potted bulbs have made their presence known.

The Camellia has finally shed herself of all her frost bitten blooms and has put out a crop of beauties.

 Even the moss is in bloom. I love the moss. It's like a tiny fairy forest.

Now if only the trees would get the message. As you can see behind Pup, they still think it's winter. Silly trees.