Making Soap

Odds & Ends

It’s Saturday again. Why does it feel that the weekdays crawl by but the weekends fly? It isn’t just me, is it? Anyway, today is a day of odds and ends.

First, over the course of the last two weeks, John’s had cataract surgery on both eyes. His eyesight had been diminishing rapidly and his ophthalmologist decided it was time. The first eye was done October 25 and seemed to go well but, with only his regular glasses, his eyes had to work pretty hard and he was often uncomfortable – tired and headachy. Not unexpected. This past Thursday, the second eye was done. Now, he has to get used to seeing the world in a whole new way and it’s shaken him up a bit. He will still need glasses for distance but he can see very well (perhaps too well) close up. He’s suddenly seeing all the dust and grime that, unfortunately, has built up around here.  Hmmm… with his time at work (gardening) coming to an end for this season, perhaps that’s not a bad thing??

dscn0333

Last weekend, we decided to have roast beef for Sunday dinner. Normally, when we have a roast beef dinner, one of our staple sides is, of course, Yorkshire puddings. However, recognizing that Kristen is gluten intolerant, I wanted to try something different. I’d also picked up a beautiful head of cauliflower on my trip to the market. I went hunting on Pinterest and found what looked like an interesting recipe… for cauliflower cake. The recipe incorporated one whole head of cauliflower and three eggs.

The recipe is one from Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli born British chef and I can heartily recommend it. John has been talking about that cake all week! Leftovers warm up beautifully and, with a bit of gravy, you’ll never miss the Yorkshire puddings.

It does call for one cup of flour but I substituted a cup of gf flour and it worked just fine.

cauliflower-cake-with-pecorino-romano-sweet-basil-8-of-12-8-of-1

The photo is not mine; it comes from the blog I found through Pinterest. Mine looked very similar though (I thought I had taken a picture of it; I didn’t). The recipe can be found on Ciao Chow Bambina‘s lovely blog.

This past week was also a week of surprises in the mail. I came home from work Tuesday to find two small packages on my computer desk. It isn’t that I wasn’t expecting anything, I was. I was involved in a soap swap on Ravelry so I knew there would be a couple of packets coming. My son had also let me know that a couple of bottles of essential oils were coming my way by mail so I knew there were parcels on the way. It’s still a nice little surprise to walk in the back door and see parcels waiting for me. Another parcel was waiting for me when I got home on Thursday!

blufrog-soap

This one was the first to arrive, from a Ravelry friend in Pennsylvania. The white flower bar of soap is a brine soap; the bar is a citrus soap; both have been aged for more than a year and, so, should be really good soaps. I’ll put them into rotation once the current bars in use are finished.

dscn0326

The second parcel came to me from Michigan and included some Peeps chocolates. John had never heard of Peeps before; I had but I wasn’t aware that Peeps also made chocolates. I’ve had to hide the chocolates as there’s a chocoholic in our house… and it isn’t me. The bar at the left is scented with Honey & Leather and the bar on the right is made with powdered peanut butter and Peanut Stout scented.

It’s always nice to try someone else’s hand made soaps and I’m very much looking forward to trying all of these.

There, I’ve rambled on long enough. I could go on and tell you what’s on my needles (yes, there has been knitting) but I’ll leave that for another day.

Categories: Baking, Health, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last Day of 2015

I suppose the last day of the year is a time for reflection on what has passed and looking forward to a new start but I’m not going to do that. It’s been a year I’m happy to put behind us. Yes, there’s been plenty of good but there has also been heartache. I would rather concentrate on the now.

It will likely be a quiet New Year’s Eve for us. Kristen and the kids will probably not be here as she’s come down with some kind of bug. I’ll try to stay up until midnight to help ring in the new year but, realistically, I rarely stay up that late. Part of today will be spent making olie bollen (fritters) and I may make some soap but I’m not even sure about that yet.

I do know I will be doing some knitting… have already, in fact. John’s cardigan is coming along, if slowly. The back is finished and I’m working on the fronts simultaneously, sort of. I started with the right side and have it almost to the armhole shaping. Then I decided it would be a good idea to work on the left side as well, and get it to the same point, then work the shaping at the same time. That way, the shaping will be the same, at the same time.

Incidentally, the soap making thing? It’s really coming along. I’ve been making, and selling, quite a bit of soap. Christmas, it seems, is a good time for soap sales. This week, I even made shaving soap… real, use a brush, soft, creamy, shaving soap. It’s awesome!

Anyway, I need to get this day going. To all of you, from all of us, we wish you a very happy 2016. I’ll borrow an image, posted by an online friend, that perfectly describes what I wish for all of you.

10398494_741207472681758_2154434283538946289_n

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Just stuff, Knitting, Making Soap, Review | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sun Still Rises

I’ve been spending some time working on John’s cardigan this week. I think I’m making pretty good progress.

HL3

I still need to work about two inches until the shoulder shaping. I’ve also been making more soap. This week’s batch is another batch of the BNA Blackstrap Ale soap. I’m really pleased with how my soaps are turning out. They look good (in my very humble opinion); they are not strongly scented (I don’t like overwhelmingly scented soaps); they lather (that’s the important part!).

BNA Batch2

The colourant in this one is, once again, cocoa for the bottom part and titanium dioxide to make the foam, along with a hanger swirl to make the “foam” swirl.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. What does it have to do with knitting and soap? Nothing, really. It is, however, relevant to my family’s experiences this past week. It’s a reminder not to focus on the difficult times, a reminder that there is another day coming, a day that will bring new beginnings, new experiences, even, perhaps, joy. Right now, joy is difficult to imagine.

My family is hurting this week with a pain that will never fully go away. On Tuesday afternoon, my eldest grandson, Zachary, was found dead in his apartment. I will not go into details other than to say he and his roommate were both found deceased. Until the cause of his death is known, we’ll have to wait for a funeral. Please, if you pray, keep us in your prayers. Both his parents are, justifiably, devastated. We all have a hole in our hearts that will never completely heal but we do know that sun will rise tomorrow and our lives will go on.

Zach

Categories: Blogging, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Just Another Weekend

It’s been… hmm… I was going to say that it’s been a quiet weekend so far but it hasn’t, really. On Friday, our kitchen baseboard heater decided to stop working… again. It does this every year – works for a week or two, then stops working for the rest of the year. We’ve been lucky enough to have an extra space heater that we’ve been using but it has decided it’s usefulness had expired this year and has now become nothing but garbage.

We let the landlord know about the heat situation and, on Friday night, K showed up to check the heater, the wiring, and whatever else he could determine. Yesterday, he and the landlord came by with a new heater to install but there seems to be some kind of an issue with wiring so, for the moment, we have no heat in the kitchen. Thankfully, it’s not yet cold enough that it’s an issue but it has made for a busy kitchen. By the time I returned from my shopping trip, there were three men and two dogs in my kitchen, with furniture all over the room, making it something of an obstacle course.

Later, Kristen and the kids came by for a fire and some roasted marshmallows. They even brought “coloured fire”, some packets of chemicals that you throw into the fire to make some fun and funky colours. I think it would have been more effective if we’d waited until dark but it was fun anyway. After a few marshmallows each, Kristen suggested we all go out for dinner and she managed to talk John into it. After a bit of discussion, we ended up at the Mission Tap House; if you’re in Kelowna and looking for a decent place to go for a meal, try it; everyone enjoyed their meals. I was the only one with leftovers, only because I really wasn’t all that hungry, not because it wasn’t good.

I even managed to get a batch of soap made. I’ve been watching a video channel (Soaping 101) and she’s made a couple of videos in which she takes a popular brand of soap (in this case, Dove) and breaks down their ingredients, creates a formula and makes a copy. I decided to try her recipe, now that I have all the supplies on hand. I added a scent (ylang ylang – just a little bit) and a little bit of silk protein, just because I still have some.

NoDoveBefore we even left for dinner, I was able to remove the soap from the mold; it was still a bit warm but already quite hard. By the time we got home, I cut it. Had I waited until this morning, I think it might have been too hard to cut! Do you see the white flecks in the soap? That’s from the titanium dioxide I used to colour half the batter. It’s nothing but cosmetic, just a little bit of interest in an otherwise pure white bar.

It needs to cure for at least 3-4 weeks but I’m looking forward to trying this soap.

And, in case you’re wondering, yes, there has been knitting. I have about 12″ done on the back of John’s sweater and I’ve started the third ball of yarn. At this point, apart from 12″ of straight on knitting, there’s not much to see. Imagine the last picture, doubled, and you get the idea.

Today, the plan is to make another batch of the first soap I made, the Coconut Milk soap, my personal favourite so far. After that, it’s all up in the air but I do anticipate some progress on John’s sweater.

 

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And The Winner Is….

Heather!

Email me your relevant information, Heather, and six samples of my hand crafted soaps will be making their way to your doorstep, along with an extra surprise or two. Congratulations!

Yesterday, Beth asked how she might be able to subscribe to my new soaping blog by email. This morning, I figured out how to add that to the blog and there is now a spot to subscribe by email… for anyone who would like to.

002

This is how the soap turned out, by the way. It’s a nice hard soap that was hard to cut. It did gel but not completely; that won’t affect the final product, just the aesthetics. Considering that it’s soap and will all be going down the drain eventually, I’m not overly concerned about it.

I did do a little more knitting on John’s sweater yesterday; I have about 6″ done so far. Right now, it’s straight up the back for 17.5″ before starting the armhole shaping. I don’t think much knitting will happen around here today; there is lasagna to be put together (I made the meat sauce yesterday) and a dinner to prepare for.

John’s planning on making a cheesecake for dessert, using a recipe his mother received years ago from a NYC native. I’m looking forward to it; he’s never made it for me. This is a traditional, basic, baked cheesecake with the cherry pie filling on it. Yum! It will be a lovely finish to our dinner, I think.

Now, it’s an absolutely gorgeous fall day around here. We had a bit of a wind storm last night; it was an amazingly warm wind that scattered chairs and leaves around the yard. Today, it’s bright and sunny out.. beautiful! It’s time to get motivated and out there!

Enjoy your weekend, all, and to my Canadian family and friends… Happy Thanksgiving.

grapes

Categories: Baking, Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Cooking, Making Soap, The Weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If You’re Interested…

I’ve decided to start a blog just for my experiments in making soap. If you are interested in that kind of thing, you can find it here…

Suds ‘n Things

It’s a place for me to make notes about each of the soap recipes I try, whether I’m following someone else’s recipe or designing my own. I don’t want to bore all of you with the details of my experimentation but if you ARE interested, you can follow along with my adventures.

And, even though I said I probably wouldn’t? I did.

009

This one is coloured with Red Palm oil (yes, red!) and scented with Rosewood essential oil.

Categories: Making Soap, Soap | 4 Comments

It Ends Now

Well, it sort of ends now. Today is the last day to get your comments in (on the blog, not on Facebook); I’ll be making the draw for 6 soap samples tomorrow.

soapsamples

Test pieces for some of my soaps… don’t they almost look good enough to eat?

It’s a long weekend here in Canada; we celebrate Thanksgiving on Monday. We will not be doing the “turkey thing”; I’d rather have a nice quiet weekend without the hectic busyness of cooking a full turkey dinner. That’s not relaxing at all, thankyouverymuch! I was thinking of putting together a big pan of lasagna, to be honest. Not very Thanksgiving-ish, is it? Certainly decadent, though!

I have every intention of filling the weekend with knitting related stuff. I have a book on the iPod (The Confessor by Daniel Silva) and a couple of projects on the needles; I am ready to relax!

First though, John’s slippers are finished… the knitting and the felting, although I will have to throw them back into the washer to felt a little more. For some reason, one slipper felted more than the other.

Johnslippers

My washer isn’t the best one out there, that’s for sure. I get lint on everything, and I do mean everything! I’m leery of washing anything white because I’ll end up with dark lint streaks on it; I’m afraid of washing anything dark because I end up with light lint streaks all over it. It’s rather frustrating, to be honest. In the case of the slippers, though, at least we can brush the lint off.

Because John’s slippers are finished, I’ve allowed myself to start his sweater. I’ve gone through one ball of yarn so far and that’s just knitting a few rows each evening while watching a show or two on the computer (we don’t have a tv… by choice).

HL1

The stitch pattern is an easy one to memorize and read and, as you can see, knits up fairly quickly. The yarn feels really nice in the hand and makes a cozy fabric. I don’t think he’ll be at all disappointed with this cardigan. I’m already a little jealous.

I also have another small project on the needles. I’ve decided I like having a face cloth on the go; they’re the perfect small project – they knit up fairly quickly, even with fine yarn, and they’re a usable little item. I don’t especially like using them in the kitchen but I do like using them on my face.

whitefacecloth

This time, I’m using Paton’s BumbleBee baby cotton, a 100% cotton, DK weight, that I do believe has been discontinued (yup… just checked; it was discontinued in 2005… and, yes, I’ve had it that long!). It’s a very soft cotton, nice to work with and knits up beautifully. I have about a half dozen or so balls of it so there will be a few of these face cloths in my linen closet before too long, or they’ll be given as gifts, accompanied by a bar or two of handcrafted soap.

Speaking of soap, I don’t think there will be any soap making this weekend; I’m out of coconut oil and I’m waiting for an order of a couple of items to arrive from Voyageur Soap & Candle in Vancouver. I could just run out and pick up some more coconut oil but soaping isn’t high on my priority list this weekend.

Categories: Blogging, Cardigan, Contest, Finished, John's Sweater, Knitting, Making Soap, Slippers, Soap | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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).

001

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…

002

…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.

003

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.

005

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.

007

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.

005

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

003

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.

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:

001

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…

2xchocolate1

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.

potatoes-3-1483281-639x852

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

Fermented Not Demented

Adventures in fermentation... a whole new world for me

Stuff Dutch People Like

Your satirical guide to Dutch culture and the Netherlands!

: silviasblog.com :

sketches, paintings, photos, random things that inspire me and other kind of art related stuff

Hiking Photography

Beautiful photos of hiking and other outdoor adventures.

domestic diva, M.D.

my mother raised the perfect housewife...then I went to med school

soknitsome

so knitsome ... so knit some