Monthly Archives: September 2015

Ah, the Weekend!

And I’m feeling like it’s already getting away from me. There are so many things I want to do but, so far, not much is getting done. Well, I shouldn’t really say that. After all, I did make a small test batch of soap for myself (using 12 ounces of oils) and I did get some shopping done, including the purchase of a cake for a certain someone’s 60th birthday on Monday (but you didn’t hear it from me).

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When I say a small batch, I do mean a small batch. I bought a small carton of milk so I could have milk with my tea at work. Once it was empty, I washed out the carton and brought it home for this very reason. That makes about four bars worth of soap. The soap inside…

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…is a recipe I designed as a face soap, with lots of moisturizing, pampering oils (like cocoa butter, rice bran oil, coconut oil, and olive oil). The colorant is spirulina, which turns the soap a lovely shade of green. Right now, it’s still too soft to remove from the carton but I’m itching to get it out and see how the swirling worked out. To create the swirl, I used about one quarter of the soap batter, incorporated the spirulina into it, and poured it back into the soap pot before pouring the whole batch into the carton. I’ve scented the soap with the last of my sandalwood essential oil (there wasn’t much left).

I’ve also blind baked a pastry shell for the quiche we’re having for a birthday lunch tomorrow. And I’ve cleaned out the fridge.

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Lunch tomorrow will be Quiche Lorraine. I decided to blind bake (bake ahead of time) the pastry so it’s one thing I won’t have to do tomorrow. I did have a nice fluted edge on the pastry but that kind of melted. Oh well, it’s all in the flavour, right?

Still on the slate for today or tomorrow… finish John’s slippers. I got absolutely nothing done on them this past week. Two soles… that’s all I have left to do. In my defence, we did have company this week and the slippers take a good deal of concentration. I did do some knitting, though.

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The checkerboard face cloth is off the needles and I’ve started one of the ubiquitous garter stitch face cloths. I much prefer it in the finer yarn, to be honest. The chunkier ones are fine for dish cloths and such but for a face cloth, I do like the texture and feel of the finer yarn. Plus, it’s mindless knitting… never a bad thing.

Well, this post is taking a lot longer to write than I’d anticipated. It’s now Sunday morning and I’m already thinking about what needs to get done before Kristen and the kids get here for brunch.

While they were out rollerblading yesterday, I made another batch of soap. This one is a hemp soap.

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I love the colour! This morning, I’ve unmolded and cut it and I’m really happy with it. I’ve tried lathering up a small end cut and it lathers beautifully. I really think I have a winner with this one. I wasn’t sure what to scent it with so I’ve left it unscented; I don’t mind unscented soaps, especially if it’s something I’ll be using on my face.

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And the Spirulina soap, out of the milk carton and cut?

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I’m really pleased with the way the swirl came out. I haven’t tried lathering this one yet but I am definitely looking forward to trying it.

Now…. time to do some prep on our brunch. Quiche Lorraine coming up. I’ll tell you about John’s new (upcoming) cardigan another time.

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Categories: Baking, Blogging, Contest, Cooking, Finished, Just stuff, Making Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Weekend of Experiments

I know this is my second post today but I’m rather pleased with myself and wanted to share. That’s okay, right?

One of the things I’ve noticed about a lot of soap recipes is that they give the ingredients by percentage. For instance, my latest soap has this formula:

  • 50% tallow
  • 25% coconut oil
  • 25% olive oil

at 6% superfat

And that’s it. At first, that put me off. However, having done a bit of research and reading, I’ve come to really like the percentage way of doing things. Why? Good question.

At the moment, I have two log molds; each holds a batch of soap that has 30 ounces of oils. How do I know? Well, there’s a formula for that… width of the mold, times length of the mold, times height of the mold, times .40. (i.e. 9.25″ long by 3.5″ wide equals 32.375… times 2.5″ tall equals 80.9375. Now take that number and multiply it by .40. That equals 32.375; that number would be the total number of ounces of oil you would need to fill your mold. Are you confused yet?

Length times width times height times .40   Easy, peasy.

So, I have a mold from years ago especially geared to children. It has lions, elephants, and geese in a grid (cut marks). I’d show you but it’s full of soap at the moment and I really can’t turn it upside down to take a picture. I measured it, easy to do as it’s a square mold; I figured that it would take 19.75 total ounces of oils to make a single batch that would fill this mold.

Not very exciting from this angle, is it?

Edited to add:

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Using the percentages above, as well as an online lye calculator (I’ll post links at the end of this post), I came up with the following recipe:

  • 9.75 oz. beef tallow
  • 5 oz. olive oil pomace (the cheapest olive oil you can find)
  • 5 oz. coconut oil

With a superfat of 6% (the percentage of oil that will not be saponified by the lye, to put it simply), I would need:

  • 7 oz. water
  • .5 oz aloe vera extract
  • 2.8 oz. lye

And that is exactly what I used. I added about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla oil that I still had from way back and, after all was mixed, poured it into my mold, where it is now waiting to firm up.

I’m not going to go into the entire process; there are more than enough good tutorials out there if you’re interested in making cold process soap. I’m just so pleased that I now know how to size a recipe for any mold I might have. Using the percentage method, it doesn’t matter the size of the mold or the size of the batch; it’s easy to size it to fit.

As for the soap, as I wrote, I’ve scented it with vanilla but, other than that, it’s plain… no colour added. It should be a fairly hard, white soap with good cleansing and good lather. Hopefully, it’s something that the grandchildren will like.


Where to find lye calculators:

These are by no means the only ones; a Google search will bring up others. From my own research, these are the most popular lye calculators.

Next step? Design my own soap recipe…. one day.

Categories: Just stuff, Making Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sandie, This One’s For You

When I started posting about the soaps I’m making, Sandie commented that I should make a chocolate soap. I listened, Sandie (so to speak… how do you “listen” to a written comment?). I’ve just been waiting for the perfect recipe. Well, I found it.

Voila! Double Chocolate Soap…

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Unfortunately, it doesn’t smell like chocolate because I couldn’t find any chocolate fragrance oil. It is, though, two shades of chocolate and does include some real chocolate among the oils. The darker layer is coloured with Dutch process cocoa powder while the top layer is just the oils with semi-sweet chocolate.

I was attempting to do something called a pencil line – a thin line of another colour – but it didn’t work very well. You can see it but barely; this bar has the most visible line of all of them. Often, it’s done with a sprinkling of cocoa over one layer of soap with another layer poured on top of it. Apparently, I didn’t use enough of the bronze mica powder I was using. I know for next time.

Last night, after cutting the chocolate soap, I also cut the swirl soap. It was still pretty soft and I probably should have left it for another day but…. well, I’m impatient and I really wanted to see how it turned out.

swirl_cut

I’m satisfied. It isn’t perfect but I do like the look of it. Unfortunately, you can see that the colorant didn’t get evenly dispersed in the oil I used to blend it. I used a small wire whip to mix the oil and the colorant; I should have used more oil, I think, or spent more time getting it thoroughly mixed. Lesson learned. On the whole, though, the technique was fun. I’ll use a different recipe next time, though; this soap, after almost 48 hours is still very soft and will take a good long time to cure.

Today, there will be no soap making… I have been told (it’s okay, I hadn’t planned on making any today, anyway). Today, we will be making REAL french fries… fried in beef tallow. Which John doesn’t mind buying, now that he knows that our local butcher carries rendered beef tallow. Which I like using in soap. Which makes THE best french fries ever. That is a win/win in my book.

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Categories: Blogging, Cooking, Finished, Just stuff, Making Soap, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One Down, Another On The Needles

The Waffle Stitch face/spa cloth is finished! It only took a little over a week to finish one cloth – that actually surprised me; it felt like it took forever! I do have to say, though, that I’m really happy with it. It has a very nice feel to it, not thick but still cushy, with enough texture to help exfoliate and stimulate the skin without being rough. Now, we’ll have to see how it stands up to use. Looking nice is one thing, performance is another.

I’ve also cast on for another face cloth; I figure that if I have the yarn and needles out, I may as well keep going. I think I know a few people who will appreciate these. This time, I using a checkerboard stitch, 5 knit stitches, 5 purl stitches, 6 rows, then alternating the knit and purl stitches. I’m really liking how this one’s working up, too.

faceclothsx2

The soap in the picture, incidentally, is the Java Jumpstart soap, one of my favourites (who am I kidding? They’re all my faves!). This one has the most amazing scent and so far, everyone who smells it, wants it.

And speaking of soap, I did a bit of experimenting last night. I’ve been seeing some amazing pictures and videos of something called a Taiwan Swirl (google it and you’ll see why I’ve been blown away). I used two colours (does uncoloured count as a colour?), natural and ultramarine blue and poured alternating sections of each. Then, with a chopstick, the colours are swirled together to form a pattern. Here’s how it looked after I’d finished the swirling…

Taiwan swirl

I chose not to add any scent to this one because I wanted to see how it turned out. If/when I make another swirled soap, I will definitely add some scent to it. To be honest, it takes almost as much time and thought to decide what scent to use as it does to plan and make the soap. It’s one of the reasons most of my soaps aren’t scented. That, and the fact that I don’t care for perfumed things on or near my face.

This morning, I took the soap from the mold; it’s still too soft to cut but I anticipate that I’ll be able to cut it tomorrow. I am really eager to see how the swirls look inside the soap.

Taiwan swirl2

Normally, I cut my soaps in about nine bars, straight down. In this case, the recommendation is that you first cut about four bars across the mold, then cut each of those bars horizontally. That way, the swirls you see on the top become the sides of the bar. If that sounded confusing, just wait for the pictures.

Back to where we started… knitting. The weather here definitely has autumn overtones. Mornings and evenings have that unmistakable coolness that comes with the changing of the season. Another sign that autumn is on its way is the fact that John’s been whining about not having slippers to wear.

That should be remedied by the end of the weekend. I started his slippers last February; they’re almost done. I think I only need to work one more sole, then put them together and felt them. I’m making a point of getting them done and off my plate.

slippers to finish

Then, I can start on a pair for me!

Categories: Blogging, Contest, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Branching Out, Back To My Roots

For anyone who’s been following my blog since the beginning (are you still out there…. anyone??), you may remember that I used to make all my own creams and lotions. Since we first moved into an apartment that didn’t have a dishwasher, I haven’t made any, partially because of the fact that a dishwasher is great for cleaning up oily dishes and the fact that we just don’t have the room.

However, I’m getting tired of being disappointed with commercial creams and hand lotions. So, I’m going back to what I used to do.

I still have some of my supplies from way back then (we’re talking ten years here, people!), things that don’t go bad… like beeswax. Oils are readily available so I’ve used a combination of rice bran oil, avocado oil, and sweet almond oil to make Rosemary Gladstar’s Perfect Cream (an excellent article, by the way). For a light scent, I added 7 drops each of ylang ylang and lemongrass.

 

This cream is a little greasy when it first goes on but does absorb fairly quickly. Truly, for my face, this is more than enough.

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As for my adventures in soapmaking this weekend, the Peppermint Soap…. well, I’m not calling it a failure and I’m not calling it a success. It was a definite learning experience. Botanicals (plant matter) in soaps are not really a great idea.

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This soap is taking forever to firm up. There’s still one mold that’s too soft to unmold but I think it’s because the mold is hard plastic; it just doesn’t breathe. I may need to pop it into the freezer for a while.

I cut the loaf of soap after we got home from the fair last night but it really should have sat for another day or so; it was a bit mushy. Today, however, it has firmed up somewhat so I think that, in time, it will be alright.

Now, time to relax and do some knitting and continue listening to an audiobook – right now, it’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

 

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, Making Soap, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

One More….

Yeah, yeah, I know. You’re getting bored with all this soapy stuff, right? I apologize but I made another one last night. John was watching a movie that I wasn’t terribly interested in so I made soap. It isn’t ready to cut yet but I did take it out of the mold; now it can cure until tonight or tomorrow, when it should be ready to cut.

First though, Sandie asked whether or not soap can go bad. The short answer is maybe. Here’s a link that can explain it way better than I can. As you see, it depends on several things – the amount of lye (have all the oils been saponified?), the oils, the additives, and even the conditions in which the soap is stored.

A soap like Castile soap (made with 100% olive oil) can last for years and years if stored in a dry place. It becomes harder with age and the harder it gets, the longer it lasts. Soaps that are scented or coloured may lose their scent and/or colour in time but, unless it smells off, the soap is still safe to use.

Hopefully, it isn’t something I’ll have to worry too much about. I have a feeling my soaps will be well used. I’ve already been using some; each morning, I’ve been washing with my Coconut Milk soap. Oh my, do I love that one! It lathers beautifully, a nice creamy lather that washes away and leaves my face feeling clean but not stripped.

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There’s a sample piece of the Java Jumpstart soap at my kitchen sink and it, too, lathers beautifully with just the right amount of “scrubbiness” from the coffee grounds. The scent lingers on the hands after washing, a nice light, fresh scent.

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Yesterday, I sampled one of the shaving soap “cakes” and I can report that it, too is great. I’m just waiting for John to try it; I really want a man’s perspective on that one. It’s unscented on purpose because I know that some scents can be drying and/or irritating to sensitive skin and John does have sensitive skin.

Shave and Goat Milk2

Today’s soap is all about the colour and the mint. Rosemary Peppermint Soap through Pinterest that I thought might be a fun one to try. I don’t do a lot with colour because I don’t have a lot of colorant available. This recipe uses spirulina (which I had to buy) and peppermint leaves and is scented with peppermint, rosemary, and basil essential oil. Right now, my whole house smells of mint! (It’s no wonder I had a hard time falling asleep last night!)

RosePepSoap2

As I said earlier, it’s not quite ready for cutting yet and the soaps in the silicone mold will definitely need more time to harden up. I tried to take one out but it’s still very mushy. There’s only one thing that disappointed me a little. The soap did start to gel in the center and discoloured some of the mint leaves. I haven’t decided yet whether I like the small brown streaks or whether I hate them. I’ll decide once I cut the soap. (It does look a little bit cool, don’t you think?)

RosePepSoap1

A thought just occurred to me… how would a contest go over right about now? With fall looming on the horizon, I have a harvest of soaps; what if we have a draw for a soap sampler…. say, six different sample bars? Samples are approximately 1-2 ounces each.

Let’s see…. I’m not going to just give them away. I need something from you, too…. but what? I know! To be entered into the draw, tell me your favourite thing about fall. I’ll hold the draw in about one month, Saturday, October 10.

What’s your favourite thing about fall? Leave your response in the comments (on the blog, not on Facebook) and you’ll be automatically entered (unless you tell me you don’t want to be entered.).

 

Categories: Blogging, Just stuff, Making Soap, No Knitting | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

September Already

It seems that summer has taken its leave. The weather has suddenly turned cooler and wetter. That’s very good news for the British Columbia/Washington State fire situation; if I’m not mistaken, all of the fires burning around here are now under control and a campfire ban has been lifted. Our skies are clear of smoke; they’re not clear, though. It’s still overcast but it’s regular clouds, rain clouds, not smoke. This doesn’t mean winter’s on its way yet; September and October can still be very warm around here; it does mean that autumn crops are coming on strong! Apparently, the farmers growing pumpkins have them ripening far ahead of their usual season.

Around here, life is interesting. There have been a few changes around the yard, nothing I need to share but it is definitely more quiet (a welcome change, to be sure) around here.

Trinity and Ethan were here last night while Mom had a much needed night off. They’ve been (and are) outside with their roller blades, trying not to fall, and avoiding the rough patches on the road (we live on a fairly quiet street so I’m not worried). So far, there have been a few tears but no major injuries, thankfully.

One of my co-workers let me know this week that I’ve become obsessed with soap making; you know what? She’s right. I made another batch before I left for work yesterday, in addition to the batch I’d already made this week.

This is a soap from Anne L. Watson’s lovely little book “Milk Soapmaking”, which was available on Amazon at no charge. As the name of the soap suggests, it’s made with yogurt! I’m surprised at the array of ingredients that can be used in making soap.

Yogurt Parfait sliced

I wanted to be able to tell, at a glance, which soap is which, so I coloured this one with some blue colorant that I still had from my lotions and potions making days. I didn’t want a solid colour so I mixed some of the colorant with a bit of the oil and coloured half the soap batter, which I then swirled back into the uncoloured mixture before pouring into the mold. I love the result.

This one has also been scented. In this case, I used a blend that I’ve used in the past as part of a muscle rub – equal parts of ginger, juniper, rosemary, and peppermint essential oils. Now that it’s curing, the scent is amazing; the peppermint is definitely there and the remainder blend very nicely with the mint, making it an almost masculine scent.

The one I made yesterday is also from one of Anne L. Watson’s books, “Smart Soapmaking” (also free on Amazon). This one is the Almond Facial soap, made only with liquid oils (just how many people do you know who just happen to have fractionated coconut oil lying around?). I wasn’t sure what colour to make it because, again, I want to be able to tell at a glance which is which, and decided on pink and purple, simply because those are the other two colorants I have on hand.

Mermaid soap 1

This soap took a lot longer to solidify than any of the soaps I’ve made so far; I think it’s because of the fact that there are no solid oils (fats or butters) in it. The colours are amazing and it makes me think of a mermaid’s tail, with the swirling pinks and purples that Trinity loves so much. Because the soap is still a touch sticky on the top, I decided to take it a step further.

Another item I have left from my lotion making days is some opalescent cosmetic grade glitter, very fine, very sparkly, and very Trinity! Before I let her cut it, I sprinkled some of the glitter on the soap and we now call it Mermaid Soap. The wavy cutter only adds to the mermaid feel, don’t you think?

Mermaid soap

As for my knitting, the face cloth is about two inches from being finished. I’m hoping to have it finished this weekend but we’ll be taking Kristen and the kids to the I.P.E. That stands for Interior Provincial Exhibition, the longest running exhibition in British Columbia. That will take care of tomorrow. Monday is Labour Day, though, and I’m off; perhaps I’ll have time to finish it then… and immediately cast on for another one.

Now, I’m rambling so I’d best go finish up the breakfast dishes and get this day going. Happy Labo(u)r Day to all!

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Categories: Blogging, Finished, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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