Saturday, 27 November 2010

Christmas Craft Fair

I share some photos from last night as I was setting up in practise for my Christmas Craft Fair today. However it has been cancelled because of rain and wind today, or rather postponed until tomorrow. Fingers crossed for good weather tomorrow!!!

Happy American Thanksgiving! Regardless of where we are or where we live, Thanksgiving reminds us to be thankful for what we have... right here right now. Since the breakdown in August, I have been writing in a Gratitude journal every night before sleep and what an awesome excercise this is... It has made me focus on all the wonderful things in my life just as it is right now, instead of what is not going so well.

...And there are so many wonderful things to be thankful for each day.


Monday, 22 November 2010

Personal Update

I am finished with the stressful day job. Thank you Grandma! My grandma died at the end of March and even though she was elderly, not well and ready to go, I was not prepared for how much her death would affect me. Luckily I was able to go back to Canada for the Celebration of Life for her and reconnect with family.

What I wasn’t able to do was incorporate back into my life here as it had been before. Somehow I had been affected deeply and was not able to just walk back into a stressful job that I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t understand what I was here in Spain for if I was so unhappy in my job, where I spent most of my time. I couldn’t understand why I came here... it was supposed to be for a better quality of life. But if the majority of my time was spent doing something that I hated, and very negative and stressful, why was I here?

I did go back to the job. I lasted until August until I actually broke down and needed time off. This led to an agreement with my boss in the autumn so that I could leave on good terms.

So now, I find myself spending more time with my daughter and husband than I have in years. I take morning walks along the boardwalk each day. I am here for my daughter when she gets home from school, with lunch ready... I am able to listen to them and be with them, without feeling rushed to get something else done. Our financial situation is SERIOUSLY reduced but it’s okay. I am okay sharing a car with my husband... I can walk and take the bus most places. I am okay dying my hair with the supermarket dye, instead of going to the salon. I am okay walking down to the local market each Friday to get fruits and vegetables instead of rushing to the mass supermarket for something quick.

And... I am going to focus more on doing what I love... what I feel passionate about. And remind myself not to get caught up again in things I don’t love... just for money. I remember vividly the day my now ex-boss promoted me. I said to him “I am not sure I want that job. I did not come to Spain for money. I came to Spain for better Quality of Life.” He said “Won’t earning more money imply a better Quality of Life?” I said “No, I don’t believe it will.” But, I didn’t listen to my own heart and I took the job and spent 4 and ½ years in something so negative for me that I eventually got sick from it. I need to remember to listen to my heart, to my gut feelings.

Within the next couple of months, I will be turning my soap-making hobby officially into a business. I know there won’t be a monthly paycheque. I know it may take some time to build up clients. I know there may not be a lot of income for a while. European/ Spanish standards and regulations are high and I even need a dedicated space (not able to produce out of my own kitchen) so I am going through all of these procedures now in order to open properly.

I don’t usually post personal posts here, but I wanted to let you all know what has been going on. Of course I will let you know when I officially open!

Happy Soaping. Be happy. Do what you love.
PS. As I always prefer visual posts, I attach some of my favourite photos that I took on our trip to Mallorca.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Fabulously Frustrating Blue...

What an awesome blue!!! Right? It is a fabulous blue, even though I wasn’t looking for blue. It’s like a Robin’s Egg!! I got it from Ratanjot!

The thing is – it is the same recipe as my fabulous purple a few weeks ago... !!??(!/¿&/%**!???????

October 31 Wild Lavender, Ratanjot (Ylang Ylang, Geranium & Clove EO)

This perfect purple was achieved with a touch of Ratanjot in this wonderful recipe full of shea and avocado butter - soothing... moisturizing... luxuriously lovely lavender!!! Except it had been achieved without Lavender Essential Oil since I ran out. The Essential Oil blend in this soap was Ylang Ylang, Geranium & Clove. Not a fabulous scent, but a fabulous colour.

So, when more Lavender Essential Oil arrived, I tried again! The EXACT same recipe EXCEPT with Alkanet instead of Ratanjot and Lavender, Patchouli and Spearmint Essential Oils. Here it is:

November 4 Wild Lavender, Alkanet (Lavender, Patchouli, Spearmint)

What the ??!!?? Completely different. Not very purple. We are back to blue gray. The Patchouli I have is pretty dark so I think it really affected the colour. Also, the Alkanet?

So I tried AGAIN. The EXACT same recipe EXCEPT I went back to Ratanjot and did half water half goat milk for the liquid. I wanted to see how Ratanjot reacted to goat milk. Achieved gray-blue.

November 7 Wild Lavender, Ratanjot & goat milk (Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Spearmint)

So I tried AGAIN. The EXACT same recipe as the beautiful purple from 31st October EXCEPT I only used Lavender and Patchouli Essential Oils. What a difference! Could it really be just the Essential Oils that are affecting this colour?

November 14 Wild Lavender, Ratanjot (Lavender & Patchouli)

So I tried AGAIN. (Some say I am not a quitter...) The EXACT same recipe as the beautiful purple from 31st October EXCEPT for 3 things:

1) I accidentally went overboard by 3 grams of Castor Oil
2) The Essential Oil blend is Lavender, Ho Wood and Ylang Ylang (all clears)
3) I finally used Orris Root powder for the first time, as a scent fixative, added at trace. You can see the specs in the photo

Here is the gorgeous blue! (Same soap as the very first photo in this post)

November 15 Wild Lavender (Lavender, Ho Wood and Ylang Ylang)

Note Orris Root speckles

Oct 31 Purple & Nov 4 Wild Lavender - Colour Comparison

But what good is achieving the perfect lavender purple if I can’t seem to replicate it with Lavender Essential Oil?

As I am nearing the date of opening my on-line shop I want to have some recipes set. I think I am feeling pressure to get my lavender recipe set and it is teasing me...

So, I think for the moment I will offer a nice cream coloured Goat-Milk Lavender soap until I finally get the colour I want with the scent I want!!! AAARRRRRGGG!

Questions and opinions:

1) What Essential Oil scent/ blend would you put with the awesome robin’s egg blue soap?
2) Have you worked with Orris Root powder? How do you get it not to speckle?
3) While I am asking questions – what sort of scales do you work with? Mine is only accurate within 2 grams. Please recommend good scale(s) - brand name and model if possible.

Thanks all!

Happy soaping!


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Coffee Soap - Aroma...

Smells deliciously like fresh coffee grinds... you know... when you cut open that vacuum packed bag of coffee and the smell overwhelms you? Or when you freshly grind the coffee beans? That.

Normally I make my coffee soap with at least a portion of coconut cream but I didn’t have any this time and the liquid is entirely coffee, brewed the Spanish way. This recipe also has Coco Butter.

Previously, I had been attempting various Essential Oil blends in my coffee soaps, but nothing that wowed me. I tried a non-scented version and then I even tried a soap with an non-natural coffee fragrance oil, which smelled nice but didn’t feel right for me. It smelled good but it smelled fake.

Then I discovered Coffee C02 oil from and oh my God! It is natural and amazing! The aroma of the finished soap is deep, real and addicting. It is like the powerful rich scent of the fresh grounds themselves.
I LOVE this coffee scent. I am addicted!!!

Aroma Beauty – Lemon & Lime Loofah Bar

What a wonderful soap!

After using it all week in the shower, I have found that the soap part is mild, skin-softening and has a luxurious lather. The light scent dreamy and unique - a feminine and romantic citrus.

The loofah in the soap is fabulous. It is the softest natural exfoliation I have tried, so much milder than oatmeal, coffee grinds or poppy seeds.

I would recommend this bar to anyone. I love it! Thank you Jan!!!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Soap Swap - AromaBeauty

So excited to receive today the long awaited package from AromaBeauty all the way from Australia!

I ripped the shipping envelope apart, paper flying, to reveal this stunning gift-wrapped box...

After impatiently taking photos of the box, I opened it to find three beautiful soaps - Lemon & Lime Loofah Bar, Mandarin & Vanilla and So Pure Goat's Milk Bar.

They look divine... the scents are soft and unique... I never imagined I would say of a Lemon Lime soap - intriguing, feminine and sweet? It's not your straight-forward lemon lime aroma... Mandarine Vanilla has a spicy kick to it and So Pure, just a hint of citrus & lavender.

I am too excited to wait any longer... I am going to shower. The first soap I am going to try is Lemon & Lime Loofah Bar.

Thank you so much Jan for this wonderful gift and opportunity to try your soaps!


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

I Got It! Orange & Purple!

Pretty excited about the two soaps I unveiled yesterday!!!

Finally, an Orange soap I am in love with all around...

And a beautiful natural purple for my Wild Lavender soap! I got this purple with Ratanjot, and using only clear oils for the liquid oils. I removed Olive Oil altogether.

As you know if you have been following, I have been experimenting and experimenting, trying to get that perfect bar, the recipe that doesn’t need any tweaking, that I love just as it is... Sometimes I feel like all I do is experiment with new soaps instead of perfect recipes. Although I must admit that I LOVE experimenting. I feel like a mad scientist sometimes...

So many factors to consider:
Purpose, Feel, the actual recipe - How it leaves my skin feeling is the most important factor for me and I really love the recipes I have now for my palm-free soaps.
Scent – I am still playing with staying power for the Essential Oils but getting some great lasting scents.
Size – I have decreased the width of my soaps a few months ago & increased the thickness and really like the size.
Packaging & branding – Still experimenting...
Colour - I feel colour is the final touch. I am really getting some great natural colours lately.

Ideally, I am looking for about 5 to 10 bars that are just awesome without any more tweaking that I can sell and produce again and again... then, of course, keep experimenting for new bars.

I now add this perfected Mediterranean Orange soap (with the addition of 10-fold Orange Essential Oil... the scent is divine!!) to my repertoire and have a little more tweaking with the Lavender scent but will soon be adding a Wild Lavender bar to my perfected soaps as well!! Oh yes, I have an great Coffee Soap but never could get a good natural scent that went with coffee and today (what a day!) I just received my order from Fresholi with Coffee CO2 extract!

The aroma when I open the bottle is the same as when I open a fresh package of coffee grounds... Amazing. I would also like to just thank Helen from Fresholi for her fabulous, sweet, pro-active, positive and delightful customer service. I admire and learn from her as she is clearly someone who is following her passion!

On a personal note, it hasn’t been an easy few months... I have done a lot of work towards a positive mentality. As my mum puts so perfectly: “Keep your mind on what you want and off what you don’t want.” Wonderful changes happening at the moment. It all just seems to be coming together.

Sending positive vibes out to everyone today.

Happy happy soaping!!