Friday, June 29, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 19

I am so loving making soap cupcakes with left over CP soap! I am currently changing the size of my soap bars and re-doing the packaging, so I am making batches of every soap that I sell to cut and cure at the new size, and have been getting lots of leftover CP! For those that don't know what CP means, it stands for Cold Process, which is just a method of making soap! ;)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 18

More on the Mother of Pearl theme! I actually made these little embeds in Washington and brought them back on the plane with me! They are in clear soap and it is double sided!

I like the subtle pastel and white in clear. It reminds me that I have been wanting to do some white on white compositions in oil paint! I have a few statues, vases, plates, and decorative objects in white so maybe this weekend I will set up a still life and get to it!

White on white compositions always interest me! You really get to see how light effects color and depending on the source, white on white compositions can be in shades of grey or have other hints of color. I just love the pallets you get!

A Soap A Day Project: Day 17

The metal table outside has this pattern and I have been wanting to do something with it for a while now!
a couple messy areas but that's ok!
The comment below reminded me that I should pay homage to the color inspiration! A cake from


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 16

Leftover soap CP cupcakes. I am taking the recycling to the extreme!
So Tired! Going to bed!

Annoyed that dew is forming on my soap INSIDE of the shrink wrap! Bleh!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 15

Soap From Friday! This actually took the weekend to make. The reason: I was making it in between other production so I only had time to pour one color each hour. Making just one soap like this is actually more difficult than making a whole loaf. In a loaf mold this would be a cross section, but because this was the flat top of one soap, I had to pour the color, then cut a strip and pour color next to it, then cut, then pour, then cut, and so on.
So, the whole time I was making this I was thinking about how inefficient it was to create. Efficiency is not the point of this project so I wasn't worried about that, but all weekend I thought about ways to make my processes more efficient so I can produce more with the same or fewer resources, including less man power, simpler but equally as gorgeous design, less time, and less packaging. I especially focused on packaging and resources as they are my little hang up with making soap.

Water: I think I can save 75% - 80%!
Water is a HUGE concern for me. We are so wasteful with potable water! I live in a dessert and people here want to make it look like the UK with all the grass and other water sucking plants that we maintain. My husband and I rent a house and it has a lawn which makes me a little sick. REALLY! There isn't much I can do about it except let it go brown and dormant during the summer, which I do, and which annoys my neighbors. Oh, well, I am not wasting 100 gallons of drinking water a week to maintain a lawn that I don't use and that shouldn't be planted here anyway. When I see hug complexes with rolling emerald patches of lawn it hurts me inside. REALLY!

I currently use too much water to wash soap making dishes. How can I run the water less?
1) Soak, melt and pour melting containers immediately when the soap is still liquid. Run the sponge over them to clean with the soaking water and then rinse quickly! Or, let the soap set up a little then peel it out of the container so there is less to wash.
2) For Cold Process, soak the utensils in soapy water and again, clean off with the soaking water then rinse quickly.
This is all to prevent me running the water as I am scrubbing with the sponge.
3) For the Cold Process pots, let them sit overnight until the soap sets up and then scrape most of it off. They can then be soaked and cleaned with the method above, but I can do it outside over the lawn and ornamental plants. I have done this before when soaping in 5 gallon buckets and the soap doesn't seem to harm the plants so I am just going to to this with ALL of my CP batches. I am going to say this will keep the tap off 75% - 80% more than it currently is!

This will take more time, and I will need more pots and containers as some will have soap setting up in them when I need a pot for a new batch of soap. Saving potable water is worth a little extra time, but I can still be productive while pots and containers are soaking. As with everything it will be more efficient in an assembly line fashion so I will just make washing an assembly line task!

Packaging is the next task to overhaul! I am moving towards all biodegradable and less less less! Stay Tuned!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Soap Weekend Intensive 2012

Detailed post at the Soap Queen Blog!
Me getting crazy with the sugar!
Last weekend I had the pleasure of teaching at Otion's Soap Weekend Intensive, a once a year weekend packed with top notch instructors teaching an array of Bath and Body recipes and techniques! I was so honored to be asked to teach Sugar Scrubs this year! We did a Whipped Scrub, Sugar Cubes and a Salt Glow! All recipes specially created for the SWI!

Thanks to Anne-Marie, Kat, Debbie, Kim, Courtney, Amber, Kristin, and little Jamisen! You guys made my stay amazing!

You can get all of the deets over at the Soap Queen Blog!

Otion does classes year round. If you are in the Bellingham Washington area or just want to fly up for a private lesson you can see the schedule here: Otion Soap Classes

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 14

When I was a kid I thought I was so smart! All of the smart people on TV, and grown ups at my grandparents house knew how to play chess. I was saying some arrogant little kid thing to an adult about how I knew how to play chess and that made me smart, and I forget who had to break it to me that I was actually playing checkers! It was a cruel day!

A Soap A Day Project: Day 13

I like working with all clear soap and brightly colored embeds! Gotta LOVE clear M&P!
Ok, I have officially lost track - I have random bars of soap laying around that I have to take pictures of! Not that it is that hard - the pics are all pretty standard! This is the soap I made for Wednesday so I guess I am only a day behind.

This soap really made me mad! I had thin little delicate strips of soap cut and I could not for the life of me get them to stay upright in the mold so they all fell over! My big clumsy fingers got in the way, I tried tweezers but my hands weren't steady enough. It could be that it was about 2 hours past my bedtime once I was finished with this. Also, once I poured the clear soap all the embeds moved out of place. You probably can't really tell but there should have been thinner stripes and more of them, very carefully placed in straight rows. I am going to try this one again for sure!
So I am a day behind and I find myself working on things for too long, in order to get a result that may not be better. This is a pattern! I spent a really long time researching new packaging yesterday rather than filling my last order for the week so now I am going to have to work for part of tomorrow. I don't NEED to redo my packaging but I NEED to make soap for my customers! I was just more interested in the packaging at the time! Silly me! FOCUS FOCUS!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Soap A Day Project Day: Day 12

The Updated picture!
Whew - almost missed it! It was dark when I finally got around to taking this picture after a busy day of production and a great workout at the gym. I will get a better pic to change out tomorrow. There is a 3D effect going on with this one that might be hard to see at this angle.

PROCRASTINATION is the word of the day! I didn't have a list of what I needed to get done and I wasted a lot of time! I need to make a more clear cut schedule for myself and assign time slots to projects so I don't go overboard on some things and neglect other things!

Some good news! I have a meeting set up with one of my local retailers to get my entire product line on their new website for sale! Whoo Hoo! I also have a proposal for them to customize their instore display. It is kind of a prototype that I want to test out with someone I have a good relationship with before making it an official product! I want to work on my branding so I am looking at offering displays for my Soaps and Lip Balms with my logo center stage and more memorable!
This is an in progress photo. I am now photographing the projects and steps as I go so I can recreate the projects later for a book of Tutorials! Looks messy huh? There is a lot of clean up involved with these to get a polished final soap!

Overgrown Mint - What to Do!

Flank Steak with Key Lime and Mint Marinade, Mango Peach Salsa and Roasted Veggies! 
Healthy and Low Carb!  

The mint in my garden is out of control! The stuff kind of grows like a weed anyway but mine is out of the planter boxes and is invading the yard! I harvested most of it to dry and use in soap and tea, and kept some fresh to use for cooking. Key limes were also on sale so I bought a pound of those and wanted to see what I could do with Lime and Mint for this weeks menu. Also, having been gone for a few days meant that all of the fresh fruit and veggies I had in the fridge were about ready to GO so I came up with some recipes to utilize the Mint, Limes and produce - I hate to waste food!
Key Lime and Mint Marinade
• 1/4 C. Fresh Mint Leaves washed and chopped
• 4 Cloves of Garlic peeled and rough chopped (more if you like!)
• 1/4 C. Fresh Key Lime Juice
• 2 T. Olive Oil
• 2 T. White Wine
• 1 T. Honey
• 1 t. Chile Paste or one small chopped Chile
• 1 t. Fresh ground Pepper
• 1/2 t. Kosher Salt

Throw everything into a small food processor and blend until smooth! This marinade is great for Meat and Poultry. I encourage you to try it on fish but the flavors might be too bold for mild fish.

Score a 2.5-3 lb flank steak on both sides across the grain. Place in a freezer bag and pour the marinade over the steak making sure the whole steak is covered. Marinate for 2-4 hours.
Mango Peach Salsa with Key Lime and Mint
This Salsa goes SOOOO well with the marinated Flank Steak!

• 1 Ripe Mango peeled and chopped
• 3 Ripe Peaches peeled and chopped
• 1/4 C. Fresh Mint Leaves Minced
• 1 Green or Red Chile roasted, peeled, and chopped. Any works, as hot or mild as you'd like! The Chile I used was about 2 T. chopped
• Pinch of Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste

Mix everything together in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for one hour to let flavors mix!
BE VERY CAREFUL when working with Chile Peppers! I like to wear gloves but if you are working with bare hands be sure to not accidentally rub your eyes or nose - it will BURN!

To Roast a Chile place it on the middle of your baking rack and roast at 400 degrees until the skin blackens and starts to separate from the flesh of the pepper. After Roasting the chile wrap it in a plastic wrap for 5 -10 minutes until it is cool to the touch. It will steam in the plastic and this will help you to remove the skin. Let the Chile cool completely since escaping steam can also burn your eyes and nose from heat and Capsaicin.

You can scrape out the seeds or leave them in. The seeds are very hot and will add a great deal of spice to the salsa.
Roasted Veggies!
You can use any Veg that you like - here is what I used:

• 1 Red Bell Pepper
• 1 Yellow Pepper
• 3 small to medium Zucchini (I think this is actually a fruit)
• 1 Sweet Onion
Toss in:
• 3 Cloves of Garlic Minced
• 1 t. Ground Rosemary
• 3 T. Olive Oil
• 1/2 T. each of Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper

Wash the veggies, de-seed the Peppers and remove the skin from the Onion. Cut the pepper and Onions into large chunks. Slice the Zucchini lengthwise.

Toss in the Oil, Garlic, Rosemary and Salt & Pepper. Spread on a cookie sheet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the veggies are tender. If you like the veggies less cooked then try 10-15 minutes.

Flank Steak!
Let the Flank Steak come to Room Temperature and remove from the bag. Pat dry with towel paper.

Fire up the Grill and coat the rack with oil. The grill is hot enough when you hold your hand about an inch over it and you can only hold it there for about a second. Grill the steak on about 4-5 minutes on each side for medium.

You can also cook the Flank Steak in a Cast Iron Skillet on the stovetop. Get the skillet nice and hot, coat in oil and cook the steak for 4-5 minutes on each side for medium.

When cutting the flank steak to serve it is best to cut think slices across the grain. This cut of Meat can be tough if cut with the grain!

Put it all on a plate and eat it up! 

You will have lots of leftovers! Steak sandwiches anyone????

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Soap A day Project Days 9-11

 I want to continue more on this Mother of Pearl thing. I was browsing the interweb and came across a Mother of Pearl inlay box and then searched for Mother of Pearl and the look translates well into Melt and Pour Soap! The possibilities are endless!
I was desperate for this one! I was hanging out for the Cold Process class at the Soap Weekend Intensive, helping to clean up and realized I hadn't made my soap for the day! I scraped out all of the leftover soap from the mixing bowls students were using, and managed to put together enough soap to make this little 2 ouncer! I used a paper coffee cup for the mold and random micas that were laying around to attempt to do a swirl on top. It is scented with lavender and peppermint - two of my favorites, so I may end up using this one! I am definitely adding a Lavender peppermint to the all natural line!
This was made on Sunday after teaching a scrubs class. Debbie of Soapylove taught a Neon Melt and Pour class earlier in the morning which was so fun so when I saw this mold at Otion I just had to do something with it! I love the detail in the mold! It was fun to play with!

A Soap A Day Project: Day 8

I was fortunate enough to be able to continue this project while on the road visiting Bramble Berry and Otion! It got a little banged up in transit home! The inspiration is pretty self explanatory - traveling!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

In the Air!

I am flying right now - well by the time this is posted anyway. I promise you I did not turn on my phone, endangering all of the passengers on my flight, just to write a post. :)

I am on my way to Bellingham Washington Home of Brambleberry and Otion, to teach at this year's Soap Weekend Intensive! You can see what it is all about here. Last I looked there was a spot left, which is rare, so if any of my readers are in the area and come want to learn how to make a variety of bath and body products, you may still have a chance!

Me and students from the 2012 SWI!

I am teaching Sugar Scrubs this year. I am doing a clay based facial scrub, a salt glow and my famous sugar cubes! I am so excited! It is sure to be a blast. I will try and update as much as possible on my Facebook page and I am sure they will be posting over at the Soap Queen Blog!

A Soap A Day Project: Day 7

I am doubling up on soap posts today since the light went down yesterday and I couldn't get my pictures taken! I do all of my photos in natural light so if I don't do it early the light gets lost! This is a visual representation of the all day headache I had yesterday. :) WARNING: Don't stare too long! I definitely got out of my comfort zone with the bright neon colors but I like it!
 I love how the backing pink color creates a neon glow in the white soap dish!
NOTE: I am traveling until Monday but hope to still do my Soap A Day but I may have to post all of them when I get back. I will try and post quick pictures from my phone on my Facebook page!

A Soap A Day Project: Day 6

Monday was more inspiration from home decor!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Labels - one of my many tasks!

Running a small business means you have to basically do everything from designing and producing product to answering the phone and emails, taking orders, shipping, packaging, sales, marketing, and one of my favorites, label design!

I usually start with my logo and a rough color pallet. For the most part I like to keep it simple and let the products shine through, especially when I am doing a clear packaging so you can see the product without too much distraction. An exception are my bar soap labels which are a little fancier since I mostly use recycled paper boxes that hide the soap.

Here is the new square label for the Cardamom Vanilla Marshmallow Cream Soap! (And the old for comparison.) I added some more color to it as you can see - I am on a teal thing lately! All of the information is much larger and clearer. These didn't take too long since I had the old label to work from but my new lip balm labels for instance took 2+ hours to design! Usually the first label in a series of products takes the longest, then it is just a matter of changing color and tweaking text.
The ingredients and my company info will go on a smaller label on the backside. Soap labeling must have the company name, the word "soap", and the weight on the front. The company address can go on the back and I always include my ingredient list.

You may have purchased soap that did not have ingredients and this is perfectly legal but I like to include it so my customers know exactly what the are purchasing. The rule is only for soap -  I won't get into the details, but as soon as you say that your soap is good for anything other than cleaning, like that it is moisturizing for instance,  it is then considered a cosmetic and must be labeled differently. A lot of my soap falls under this category. The FDA defines soap as:
  • the bulk of the nonvolatile matter in the product consists of an alkali salt of fatty acids and the product's detergent properties are due to the alkali-fatty acid compounds, and
  • the product is labeled, sold, and represented solely as soap
Next is the Chocolate Marshmallow Cream Soap labels and then I can take pictures and get these listed! Look for them June 13th at!
The 2 hour lip balm label! I'm slow! :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 5

I took Saturday off and found it hard to get the energy to take a picture of yesterdays soap! Mondays are always a bit of a drag for me! I was pressed for time after my helper left and production was complete, but I did get to visit one of the shops I had on my list and I left my business card and a price list. The clerk had no control over ordering and said she would send the info to the owner of the store but she was nice in the brief chat I had with her. I had to fight hard to make contact but I did it and feel a little bit better about going around to more shops! Here is the soap for Sunday. I was inspired by my shower curtain of all things! :)~

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Big Cartel Meet Up San Diego

Hello all of you San Diego Friends! Do any of you have a shop on Big Cartel?

There is a meet up at Extraordinary Desserts this Thursday June 14th at 6pm. Ana of We Love Citrus coordinated the event and there will be Swag Bags that I put a little something in! Join other Big Cartel Shop owners for a night of Sweets and Networking!
Swag for the event

As always you can see what we are up to on Big cartel here:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 4

Today is all about facing some fears. My BIG plan for the day was to go around town visiting some boutiques to get a feel for what they are selling, what people are buying, and to target potential retailers. This soap I made yesterday was all about me (little blue dot) breaking out of the fears and distractions. I sit in a comfortable little place all cozy, filled with soap to make and scrubs to whip up but unless I want to become a soap hoarder, I have to break free and sell, sell, sell.

After a night of hanging out with friends I got up late, made a list of boutiques I want to visit and then, made a bird bath, read a little, watched some TV, and took a picture of this soap but did not go around town as I had planned.

I realized that I have a big fear of talking to people. My hubby and I had a really great talk about this today and I realized that I am so afraid that people won't like me that I either don't talk to them, or I am totally fake when I do. (Just a side note, my husband is the smartest person I know and he is a wonderful person to talk to for advice so I may give him cred a lot.) Ok, so I either don't talk, OR I try to make witty remarks to get a laugh, or I interrupt people to draw attention to myself, or I just talk about myself at length with no gaps. Again, that may not be the consensus that others get from me, but in my own head that is what I do. I have thought long and hard about where this behavior comes from but that is another story. So, you can imagine my mind set having to go into an already nervous situation like talking about my products or casually mentioning that I have some "product that I think would be a great fit for your store". I am a wreck! I don't think I am alone in this. I am sure most people would have fears about it.

I have regrouped and the plan is to attack it Monday when there will be better parking if I have to go back to get samples and promotional materials, and I will feel less intimidated in shops teaming with customers and employees who have more pressing things to attend to than someone trying to pimp a product.

My mantra for this task:
Just be yourself
You have awesome products
You are ok with rejection

If anyone has had and experience, good or bad, approaching retailers please share! I want to know how you did it and what fears, if any,  you may have had and how you overcame them!

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 3

Loving the neon green with the dark peach color combo!

I tried a new technique with this one and it isn't what I visualized in my head but that is ok! I am not sure what I was thinking with the strips in the background. Sometimes I just don't know when to stop and have to learn to let things be! The technique I used on the first two would have been better so I will switch back to that and keep this in the back of my mind for when it is needed.

This just reminds me that I have to focus on what I am good at! I strayed last night and tried making some bath bombs and I was having a hard time with the press I was using. (The recipe was fabulous though!) Mind you, I am going to get it right eventually and add them to my line eventually but I can keep the project close and bring it out when I get a marketing strategy in full swing! I have a little adventure to find some local retailers I am embarking on tomorrow and I will tell you all about it!

Do any of you have a technique for approaching Local Retailers that you would like to share?

In the mean time I am trying to do one thing a day to promote my business and am trying to get better at my customer service! Those of you who get an email back a week or two later know what I am talking about!

A side note - there is a reason I have suddenly started stressing about my business but I will tell that story later. :)

So far these posts have gotten a great response! I hope to keep em' coming!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Soap A Day Project: Day 2

These circles are so small that the were about the size of my finger tip!
I already almost failed! This soap, supposed to be finished yesterday, got finished this morning because I really had to get to bed last night. I was just too tired! I did stay awake for another hour reading one of my Dresden novels. When I closed my eyes I wondered if I could have kept going with the soap and was just lazy, or if stopping was the right thing to do to give myself time to wind down. We can't always work at 100%, 100% of the time. You will probably be more productive working at 100% in short bursts and then giving yourself sufficient time to recover.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Soap A Day Project

{pictures below} 
"Never thinking anything is good enough is a mindset breeding ground for self doubt and failure!"

As a small business owner, some days are good and some are bad. I am at a transition point with my business and I am finding it hard to stay focused. I have spent long hours for the past month of nights trying to develop new products that will "blow up", when I should be happy with what I am doing and focusing on marketing the products that my customers and myself already love. I have no idea what I am doing with the marketing so I have been taking on-line classes and reading books, trying to implement what I learn as I go, but it is a long road and I am moving slowly!

I am trained in art drawing, painting, photography, and graphic design, and have been thinking about why I didn't have the confidence to start a business as a graphic designer then, and how it pertains to my business now. I have set out on A Soap A Day art quest to try and answer some questions and to fill a creative void that I sometimes feel with regular daily production. I had some real talent as an artist studying photography, painting, and graphic design, and I wanted desperately to be some sort of visual artist after school but kind of failed at it. Wanting something isn't enough if you don't take action! Looking at my past failures may help me actively recognize pieces of my personality that are holding me back from taking my business to the next level, thus empowering me to change those pieces of my personality.

My husband recently told me the Japanese concept of Kaizen or continuous improvement, which is just taking baby steps on a daily basis to reach a goal, rather than being overwhelmed with big tasks that are daunting and may not actually help you achieve success. I am going to try and use my art and soap as a medium to visualize those baby steps I want to take in my business, and hopefully it will help open my mind to what is holding me back!

Here is the bar for June 5th 2012. The concept is "beginning" as depicted in cell type shapes. If you think about it the process of creating life is a series of baby steps! My business started with a single bar of soap like my life started with a single cell. I am going to keep going on this theme for a while slowly moving my way to an end.
 This one bar of soap took over 60 minutes to make! 3 inch x 3 inch bar.
The small "cell" shapes were made with a thin sliver of pink soap that I shaved round and centered in an empty pen tube and plugged off with clay. They are very tiny and were difficult to work with! The first couple of tries did not work as soap was hardening before I could pour it, or the soap was hot enough to pour but then melted the thin pink soap!

What I have learned from this bar is that I am fickle. I loved it for a second when I made it and the this morning was already looking for ways to make it better and criticizing the design, rather than just being happy with it as is. This is often my thoughts on products, not that there is anything wrong with wanting to improve, but sometimes you just have to be happy with what you have! Never thinking anything is good enough is a mindset breeding ground for self doubt and failure!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Come say hi!

 I will be introducing my new Purifying Facial Cleanser and Mask!

To all of my San Diego Friends out there I will be The Rockefeller Center for Anti-Aging in Kensington from 4-7 om selling my goods! They are located at 3938 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116. 

Come enjoy boutique shopping, food and wine tasting, candy bar, raffle prizes, a silent auction, and live music!

You can visit The Rockefeller Center for Anti-Aging on Facebook


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