A Baby Changes Everything

Five babies change, well,… Is there more than everything? I’m amazed at how much life has changed since having children. Yes, there are the sleepless nights, sweet sloppy kisses, crazy tantrums, love I never knew I could feel… But I’m not talking about all that stuff, as wonderful (and trying) as it all is! I’m talking about how much my perspective and lifestyle have changed.

You see, when the triplets came along, I started thinking about ways I could save us money. We suddenly jumped from one child to four, and I became a stay-at-home mom, cutting out a good chunk of income. Somehow I stumbled upon the giant world of cloth diapers.

And that’s where it all began.

What started as a way to save us money turned into a more natural way of living. I never intended to become so green. It just happened more and more over time. Cloth diapers led to natural remedies, which led to natural cleansers for our home, laundry, and bodies, which led to making my own soap. Once I realized I could make a lot of the things that I used to buy in the store, intrigue and even excitement set in. Creating things from scratch is exciting! It’s domestic triumph! And when you succeed even once, it spurs you on. From making soap to designing soap molds, from crocheting hats to knitting scarves, from making cute hair bows to sewing. The satisfaction that comes from creating is addicting.

This is true in the world of cooking as well. I’ve always loved to cook and bake (which is one of the reasons I love to make soap; it’s just making and following recipes, after all). And lately, I’ve been cooking up a storm. Maybe it’s the change in weather. Fall beckons me to make chili and homemade bread and pumpkin muffins. Or maybe it’s all the fresh produce we’ve been getting this year. Our measly garden has actually produced a nice little crop of tomatoes and cucumbers, and our neighbors have generously shared with us a bounty of strawberries, peaches, corn, potatoes and apples. I’ve spent a large chunk of time making jam and pie fillings, and freezing and canning the tastes of summer. Once again, domestic triumph! Preserving natural goodness and cooking from scratch = victory! And it all tastes SO GOOD! It’s fun to pull real food out of the freezer. It’s fun to make yummy and healthy meals for my family. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not always easy. It takes planning and work. But it’s so worth the effort. 

Five short years ago, it would never have occurred to me to do these types of things! Food from scratch? Canning? Making freezer meals? Being only me and hubby back then, we were content to eat out a lot and throw in a few home-cooked meals every so often. Now, I find myself researching real food cooking and eating. Who knows? Maybe in another five years, we’ll be nearly self-sufficient! My hubs and I are already planning a bigger, better garden for next year, and we’re excited at the thought of including our kids in harvesting, cooking, and eating well. We’re hungry to learn, and we’re fascinated with how it all works. We certainly haven’t arrived yet! We still eat processed foods and get take out, but it’s becoming less frequent. I don’t know if our goal is to always eat all-natural, but we do want to be more natural. This is true of our lifestyle as well.

I’m beginning to feel a little bit Martha Stewart-ish. Or Amish, maybe. An Amish Martha Stewart. From crafting to cooking to making my own soap. But I’ll keep my electricity, please.

In all seriousness, we are so very blessed that God gave us these five babies who changed absolutely everything. We feel like God has called us back to Himself, focusing us on His creation and His intentions for our family, and showing us how He provides for us continually. He’s given us the desire and ability to do all of these things. We love to create because He loves to create. And it’s a fun process, all this creating! We’re thankful for all of the changes that have come with our five messy babies, and we’re looking forward to the changes that will keep coming as we all grow up together.

My First Goat Milk Soap

I’ve finally done it: goat milk soap!

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

I’ve been looking for a local source of fresh goat milk for over a year now, but I don’t think I know the right people. I can’t locate anyone, but I’m certain that there are people around here who must have goats! I drive past pig farms and multitudes of cows every time I go to the grocery store. Surely someone has goats! I’m fairly close to Amish country, so I may have to go that route to find what I’m looking for. Once I do find it, I’m wondering if I can afford it! This stuff is expensive! I finally gave in and coughed up the money for a can of concentrated goat milk at the store.

For this batch, I used the same half and half method that I used to make yogurt soap. I began with a 1:1 lye solution (which takes an incredibly long time to cool down), then I added concentrated goat milk to my oils and butters. I also added some colloidal oatmeal at the same time and blended it all until it was nice and creamy. I really like this method of milk soaping; it’s much easier than freezing the milk and making the lye solution in slow motion! I planned not to add any color to this batch, but I just couldn’t help myself. At the last moment, I colored some soap purple, put a simple layer on top, then added some swirls down each side. I like the looks of it. Simple, with a touch of color to give it some interest.

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat's Milk Soap Loaf

Loaf of Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap.
I love to unwrap a loaf of soap from it’s mold. It’s like Christmas morning every time!

I used a lovely blend of bergamot and chamomile to give this soap a light and calming scent. I must say I’ve noticed every goat milk soap has a distinct smell that’s somewhat pungent to my nose, and the soap I made is no different. It’s not overwhelming, but I do notice that particular goat’s milk scent. I wonder what’s in there to make it do that? I find scents absolutely fascinating!

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Bergamot & Chamomile Goat Milk Soap

Now that I’ve made soap using almond milk, cow’s milk, breast milk, yogurt, and goat’s milk, I’m feeling rather like a pro! I know it’s only a few batches of each, but milk soap isn’t nearly as daunting to me now as it was a year and a half ago. I’ve got several other recipes in the works with new milks and combinations of milks, creams, and yogurt. The more soap I make, the more soap I want to make! The sky’s the limit with ingredients, techniques, scents and colors. This is so much fun!

Hooked on Crochet: Mug Cozy and Boot Cuffs

My mom taught me the basics of crochet when I was pretty young, and this past year I’ve picked it back up. I’m totally hooked on crochet! (Yes, silly cutesy pun intended!) Just like making soap, I love to crochet things that are both useful and pretty. It’s an awesome outlet for creativity, and I find it completely relaxing to sit with yarn in one hand and hook in the other. I’ve been meaning to post some of my fun creations of late, so here we go!

Our recent change in weather has gotten me really in the mood to make some warm and cuddly things. I started out with this cute little mug cozy. Find the tutorial and free pattern here. I used cotton yarn and it only took about half an hour to make. This really simple stitch turned into a beautiful fabric.

Mug Cozy

I love the lacy look of the fabric on this mug cozy.

Mug Cozy

It fits perfectly around my favorite mug and matches the etched rose detailing.

I’ve found several cute free patterns for cozies, giving me lots of great gift ideas. Look out friends and family! I’m thinking adorable cozies snuggled around a cute mug with a fav bag of coffee, tin of tea, or gift card to a local caffeine-laden hangout. (Along with some handmade soap, of course! 😉 )

My next project was inspired by a gorgeous outdoor wedding that I went to this weekend. We dressed down for this casual farmer-country weddin’. I saw lots of jeans with tall boots that could have used these little cuffs to really make them pop!

Boot Cuffs

Cute crochet boot cuffs

I found the tutorial for these boot cuffs here, and the pictures on that link are quite helpful. The cuffs are super cute and pretty simple to make with only chain, single crochet, and double crochet stitches, but I had a bit of trouble following the pattern at times. I noticed in the comments that several other people had questions at the same places I did, so I’m going to try to answer those questions and show a few more pictures.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Your favorite worsted-weight medium yarn (I used some Super Saver that I had on hand)
  • Size H crochet hook
  • A couple of buttons if you’d like, as well as a needle to sew them to the cuffs

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Chain (ch) 8. Turn.
  2. Single crochet (sc) in the second stitch from your hook and in each remaining stitch to the end of the row. Ch 2, turn.
  3. Double crochet (dc) in the third stitch from your hook and in each remaining stitch to the end of the row. Ch 1, turn.
  4. Sc in the second stitch from your hook and in each remaining stitch to the end of the row. Ch 2, turn.
  5. Repeat Step 3 and Step 4 for several rows. Use your leg as your measuring guide. This long fabric will wrap around your leg, probably at the calf or just below the knee (wherever the tops of your boots hit). Remember that the yarn will stretch, so make it a bit small. Mine ended up being a total of 30 rows. You’ll want to stop at a double crochet row (Step 3) in order for the seam to be less noticeable.
  6. Once you reach your desired length, it’s time to connect the beginning row to the end, forming the actual cuff. I slip stitched my work so that the front of the double crochet stitches would be the front of my cuff. It’s really personal preference as to which side you choose to call the front. To connect the ends, put the front to the inside of the circle and slip stitch all the way down the row. You’ll put your hook through the 2 loops that touch each other when the fabric is put together. When you get to the end, do not cut your yarn. Flip your cuff inside out, so the front is now facing outward.
  7. Here’s where the confusion set in for me. You’ll be working in the round for the remainder of the boot cuff. That means you’ll have to turn your cuff and work on what used to be the side of your fabric. It’s now the top of the circle. Find the first double crocheted row that is to the left of your hook. Work two double crochet around the first double crochet loop of that row. Take a look at the photo below. Now work 2 dc in each top double crochet loop all the way around the circle. Slip stitch the last dc to the first when you get all the way around the circle. (If you made 30 rows like I did, you’ll have a total of 15 pairs of dc in the round.)

    Making the Boot Cuff

    The scissors are pointing to the single crochet row (they look like ridges), and the hook is inserted into the double crochet loop. See the small scalloped edges all along the bottom? Those are the loops you’ll use to stitch 2 dc in the round (as already shown on the top of my work in this picture) and to complete the large scallops in the final step.

  8. Continue working 2 dc in the space created between each set of 2 dc stitches in the round below. Slip stitch at the end of each round. Repeat this for 6 more rounds, giving you a total of 8 rounds.
  9. Still working in the round, chain 2, dc in the third stitch from your hook. Dc in each stitch all the way around. Slip stitch to the top of the chain 2 space when you get to the end of the round.
  10. Ch 1. Sc in second stitch from hook and then in each stitch to the end of the round. Slip stitch to the first sc.
  11. Repeat Step 9. Tie off your yarn. You’ve just finished the bottom of your cuff!

    Bottom of the boot cuff

    Here’s the bottom of the boot cuff. The hook is pointing to the double crochet row (Step 9), the scissors point to the single crochet row (Step 10), and above them is the final double crochet row (Step 11).

  12. To finish the cuff, you’ll flip it over and create a lovely scalloped edge on top. Remember those dc spaces we used on the bottom side to start the round? You’ll be using the dc rows again for this edge. Attach yarn to loop using a single crochet. In the next dc loop, work 5 dc. Slip stitch to the next dc loop. Work 5 dc in the next dc loop. Slip stitch to the next dc loop. Repeat 5 dc in one loop, slip stitch to next loop until the end of the round. Slip stitch at the end of the round and tie off your yarn. Weave in your ends, then attach buttons if you’d like. And there you have it! Of course, you’ll have to make another one to have a matching pair! The second cuff is going to be quick and easy now that you’ve got some experience. If you have any questions, please ask and I’ll try to explain!

    Finishing the boot cuff

    Attaching the yarn on top of the cuff using a single crochet stitch.

Now pull out your tall boots and donn your lovely new cuffs! These are so cute! I think I’ll be making several pairs in different colors. It’s a great project to use up scraps of yarn, and it’s easy to come up with variations to make unique patterns. Wouldn’t these make a super cute gift as well? My girls will be sporting these this fall and winter, too! I may adapt them a bit and make them leg warmers instead of just cuffs. How cute would that be?

Boot Cuffs

I love the combination of sideways rows on top with in-the-round work on bottom. To make legwarmers, I’ll just work more rows of double crochet pairs (Step 8) until I reach the length I like.

I’ve pinned lots of free patterns for boot cuffs, mug cozies, and many other projects to my crochet board on pinterest if you want some more ideas! Happy hookin’!

Yogurt, Soap and Candy Apple Red

As promised, I’ve just completed my first yogurt soap! And as always, I got more than I bargained for in the process. Here’s a first look at Enchanted Apple Soap.

Enchanted Apple Soap

Enchanted Apple Soap made with yogurt

Silvia of SoapJam has been raving about how wonderful yogurt soap is, and her soaps look divine! When I saw her posts, I started looking around the web for more information about making yogurt at home and then using it in soap. Apparently I’ve been missing out on yogurt awesomeness for years by paying for it in stores! I had no idea it was so easy to make. Why would I do this, you ask? Well, first of all, it’s much cheaper to make it than to buy it. One of our local discount stores has milk on sale for $1.49/gallon! That’s less than 5 cents per serving compared to the typical 50 cents or more per serving for store-bought yogurt. Second, I have the pleasure of making something myself. That’s one of the main reasons I make soap. I find sheer joy and satisfaction in creating things. Plus, yogurt is quite useful; I can eat it and make soap with it! Yummy and healthy, inside the body and out. Last but not least, it’s really easy! So why not try making it at least once? No harm.

There are recipes all over the internet on how to make yogurt. Some ways look a bit complicated, but I chose the seriously simple crock pot method:

  1. Put 8 cups (a half gallon) of milk in the crock pot set on low for 2 hours 45 minutes.
  2. Turn off the pot and let it cool for 3 hours with the lid on.
  3. Stir in half a cup of yogurt that contains live and active cultures. I tempered it first, then whisked it gently into the milk in the crock pot.
  4. Put the lid back on, wrap it in a towel (this is so much like insulating a soap mold 🙂 ), and let it sit overnight.
  5. The next morning, transfer the crock into the fridge.

A few hours later, voila! Homemade yogurt. Pretty cool, huh?

To make soap with yogurt, I followed Silvia’s (and many other soapers’) advice and made a 50% lye solution with water, added yogurt to the oils, then added the cooled lye solution to the yogurt and oils. I was going to do another two-color Holly swirl of red and white into plain base, then finish it off with white on top. Unfortunately, my fragrance sped up the process dramatically! I poured the main uncolored soap into the mold then worked quickly to get the other colors swirled. To match the Enchanted Apple scent, I wanted a bright red pop of color, but it was muted when I swirled it with the white soap. In the short time it took me to mix the red and white, the soap was already completely set in the mold. Once again, I got layers more than swirls, but it actually looks kind of pretty.

Enchanted Apple Soap

Each bar is so different than the next!

Enchanted Apple Soap

There are a few little air pockets, but for the most part (to my great surprise) it turned out smooth.

Since the colors didn’t mix quite as I’d hoped, I thought I’d try to add some pizzazz to the top of the soap with some peaks and gold mica sprinkles. In my typical klutzy fashion, I spilled the gold mica right on top of one end of the loaf. A few bars will just be extra sparkly! My girls will love it, I’m sure.

Loaf of Enchanted Apple Soap

See that sparkly spill of gold mica? It’s not as noticeable now that it’s cut into bars.

Now, here’s the extra kicker that I wasn’t expecting. As I was cleaning up my soaping mess, the triplets woke up from their nap. And I was home alone with them. I had already put away the lye, the oils, and anything that I thought might be even slightly dangerous to leave out and about. But apparently I missed one little sample jar: the candy apple red dye powder. BIG. MISTAKE. While I had my back turned, Chloe must have sneaked in and stolen that little jar of horror. She also must have thought that it was some form of food, because she ate it! In a matter of seconds, she’d eaten some of the colorant, then tried to spit it out, wiping her tongue off with both hands, and spilling the remainder of the powder on my living room carpet. She came running into the kitchen with what looked like blood spilling out of her mouth! I panicked, ran water in her mouth and over her whole face. It was obviously not blood, but was staining everything red. So I ran into the living room looking for what might have caused this, saw the spill on the carpet and immediately knew what she’d done. I was so thankful that it wasn’t blood, but I was also so mad that I’d accidentally left that jar within her reach!

This was a monster of a mess. I put Chloe in the bath tub and scrubbed her down. After a long soak, the red stain finally disappeared. Then I had the task of attempting to clean my carpet. That’s still a work in progress. Candy Apple Red dye powder is as fine as dust, easily spreadable, and darkens upon contact with liquid. Oh my! Believe it or not, it’s only a very faint pink now! That Bissell carpet cleaner is the best tax refund money I’ve ever spent.

Candy Apple Red water from my carpet

After cleaning my carpet for the third time, this is what the water still looked like coming out of the cleaner! If I hadn’t been so mad, I might have thought to take a picture of the carpet before I started cleaning it!

It’s amazing what soaping has brought into my life. I now know how to make yogurt and how to clean red dye out of carpet! (#thingsineverthoughti’ddo) I’m hoping this yogurt soap will be as wonderful as everyone says, making this mess worth it!

Oat-Infused Milk Soap

While perusing other soap making blogs the other night, I found this lovely Oat Milk Recipe for Soap over at Oil & Butter. It’s a simple recipe that calls for soaking oats in water, blending, and straining. I’ve used this same basic process to make almond milk. Simple. Fast. Inexpensive. Great!

Seeing the recipe inspired me to make a batch of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey soap with a new twist. I typically only use milk in my recipe, but did you see my post on Mama’s Milk Soap? I love how it turned out, and the benefits of breast milk are staggering. So I decided to use heavily fatty breast milk and infuse that with rolled oats. I guessed that soaking oats in only milk would create a very thick mess, so I cut the milk with water first. Here’s what I did: two parts distilled water, two parts milk, and one part oats. The oats soaked in the milk water in the refrigerator for a day, then I blended it up and strained it using a tea strainer (since I couldn’t find any cheesecloth). Boy, was that a mess! The milk was stringy and sticky with tiny bits of oats floating around. I strained it again twice, but somehow the tiny oats remained in the mix.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

Here’s a first look at the new Oat-Milk & Honey Soap.

I froze the oat-infused milk, then used it to create my lye solution. As with any milk soap, I added the lye very slowly, one tiny bit at a time with the pitcher sitting in an ice bath so as not to overheat and curdle the milk. Because there were still tiny bits of oats in the milk, I was worried about the lye dissolving properly, so I stirred and stirred and stirred. It looked like a mess of disfigured rice pudding! After about half an hour of stirring off and on, I thought it was time to take a deep breath and attempt to make the soap. I had to carefully glop the pudding mess into the oils. To my great surprise, the soap traced at the same rate as usual, didn’t seize, and didn’t cause any other problems either. I poured off a few cups to turn white, then added fragrance to the main batter. A simple in-the-pot swirl resulted in a very beautiful soap. In my excitement, though, I forgot to add the honey! I remembered the bubble wrap for the top and bottom of the mold to make it look like a honey comb, but I forgot the honey! Darn. Despite that, I really love the look of this soap. And I’m still calling it Oat-Milk & Honey Soap because the fragrance has a hint of honey in it.

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

I just love a good in-the-pot swirl. Every bar is so unique!

I’m honestly thrilled that I could even cut this loaf! I was afraid that the wet oats might leave me with a soppy goo rather than a hard bar, but so far it’s hardened wonderfully. The bits of oatmeal add great texture to it. I’m not usually a fan of exfoliates in soaps, especially large chunks of oats or loofah. But these bits of oats are so tiny that I hardly feel them and don’t mind them at all. I’m hoping that this soap will be even more moisturizing and soothing because the oats were infused directly into the breast milk. As always, time will tell. I got impatient (what soaper can wait for the full cure?) and used an end cut to lather up, and it’s just delicious! It starts with a super bubbly lather, then turns rich and creamy. It leaves my hands feeling like silk!

Oat-Milk & Honey Soap

See the specs of oats in the soap? They look bigger than they feel, and they add great texture without being harsh.

Now that I’ve tried this infusion, I’m excited to delve deeper into the giant world of milk soaps. I’m going to experiment some more with infusions, different kinds of milk, and using multiple milks and creams in the same recipe. I’m seeing more and more blogs and recipes that include a combination of milk, cream, and/or powdered milk in the same soap. And there are so many ways to add it into recipes. The half and half method. The frozen milk method. The hot process add some milk or cream after the cook method. (I’m making up names for methods here, but you get the point, right?) I want to try them all! Next experiment: yogurt soap. I’ll be posting about that as soon as I make it!

Bathroom Disasters

It is Friday, the 13th. That typically means absolutely nothing to me. Nothing. But, today, somehow it means…another bathroom disaster. These happen very frequently at my house. You see, it’s rather difficult to keep track of what every one of my kids is doing at any one moment, especially the three two-year-olds. And like most children, they are absolutely enthralled with the bathroom. The toilet. The sink. The bathtub. The soap. It’s like an amusement park in there! Here’s what happened at Bathroom Adventure Land today.

While I was feeding the baby this morning, I heard intermittent laughter coming from the kitchen. I knew that couldn’t be good! They were up to something. I put the baby down and ran into the kitchen to find all three girls sitting on top of my kitchen counter with a beautiful floral arrangement dismantled all around them, all over the floor, and on the bar stools they’d used to climb onto the counter. You see, hubby dearest sent me a gorgeous red vase filled with perfect red roses, daisies, and gigantic white lilies earlier this week (completely out of the blue, gasp! He’s so sweet!). My girls, in their love for all things pretty, apparently decided to smell the flowers and then to play sword fight with them! Ugh.

I got them all off the counter, put them in time-out for climbing up there, and proceeded to clean up flower petals. When their time-out was over, I put them in the living room with a pile of toys and got them started playing. I returned to the mess and attempted to think like a florist as I rearranged the flowers they’d nearly destroyed. I hid the half-headed daisy swords as best as I could.

So, how long did that take? A matter of minutes, right? Not that long, right? I glanced in at the baby who was happily playing away in her exersaucer. All good there. Then, I went to check on the triplets. Uh oh. One was missing.

And then I heard it. The sound of water. Lots of water.

I ran down the hallway to the bathroom, opened the door, and there stood Chloe on the step stool, in front of the sink, faucet running, surrounded by water, wearing one of her older sister’s swimsuits. I guess she wanted to go swimming. The floor was covered in at least 2 inches of water. The vanity was flooded as well, and there were waterfalls spilling over the edges, into the crevices of each cabinet door and drawer. Ugh again.

How did she even do that?!

The large rug in front of the bathtub was completely saturated, so I threw it in the tub. Then I methodically began to clean up the flood. We’ve had so many messes in the bathroom that I am an expert at cleaning it top to bottom. (I know what you’re thinking. No, I will not come to your house and clean yours. Just because I’m good at it doesn’t mean I like it! 😉 ) I checked on the kids frequently as I cleaned up the water, trying really hard to bite my tongue and not mutter anything I’d regret! Even the floor of the linen closet was flooded. You know, the place where we keep the extra toilet paper? I had to remove every bottle from under the sink to mop up the cabinet. An entire bag of cotton balls that I just bought was saturated. Somehow every bow, hair tie, and headband was sopping wet. I used several giant towels in the process of mopping up all that water. I even ripped the tip of a fingernail off while I was handling one of the heavy soaked towels.

But the worst part: the soap dish was full of water, too. I had several lovely soaps in that dish, including a couple of soap balls from Great Cakes Soapworks and the last bar of a favorite batch that I made. Alas, all was not destroyed. I drained the soap dish and aired out the soaps. They are still usable, albeit smaller and a bit misshapen now. And on the bright side, my bathroom is sparkling clean right at this moment.

And to be very honest, I realize completely that a wet bathroom certainly doesn’t qualify as a disaster! There are many worse things. Like that time they flooded the bathroom when they tried to flush down an entire roll of toilet paper. Haha! I’ll tell you about that one some other time!

Just another day in the house of Five Messy Babies.

Multi-Colored Gradient Soap Challenge

After taking my baby time-out, I’ve finally rejoined the Soap Challenge (now a Club!) put on by Amy Warden of Great Cakes Soapworks. This month’s challenge was to create a seven-layer multi-colored gradient soap. Last year, I created Sage & Citrus gradient soap using only one color. It was fun, and I’ve used the technique again, but I’ve never tried it with multiple colors! Challenge on!

I searched through my growing supply of fragrances to find one that had multiple facets to inspire several color choices. The winner was Satsuma, a very bright citrus scent with a mix of juicy ruby red grapefruit, sweet orange, and tangerine. What better colors to use than those new neon samples I’ve been waiting to try?! I chose Neon Laser Lemon for the bottom layer, Neon Citrus Blast for the middle (an awesome bright orange color), and Neon Tutti Frutti (HOT pink) for the top. Even the names of the colors are perfect! They’re also side-by-side on the color wheel, making them beautifully blendable.

Thanks to Amy’s step-by-step tutorial, I was very comfortable creating the right amounts of soap needed for each layer. I began by making the lye solution and letting it cool to about 100 degrees. The oils with fragrance added were at about 110 degrees when I added the lye and blended to emulsification. This fragrance worked wonderfully, allowing me plenty of time to play with colors. In fact, I almost wished things would move a little faster! Almost

Here are the three main colors getting ready to be poured.

Here are the three main colors getting ready to be poured.

Here’s a look at the layering process.

Layers 1 & 2 of Gradient Soap

First and second layers

Layers 3 & 4 of Gradient Soap

Third and fourth layers

Layers 5 & 6 of Gradient Soap

Fifth and sixth layers

Final layer of Gradient Soap

Final layer!

The raw soap colors were very pretty but weren’t very extreme, so I put it in the oven to force full gel, hoping to bring out those neons. 

Satsuma Gradient Soap

Wow, do they pop!?! The colors are absolutely neon now, and they blended together so well. My girls love the bright pink tops, too. When Annabelle (one of the triplets) saw it, she squealed, “Mommy, you made me a rainbow soap!” She went to tell her sisters, then they all ran in together oo-ing and ah-ing over the “pwitty wainbow” soap. Too cute! They obviously approve of my color choices, and I’m pretty darn pleased as well!

Satsuma Gradient Soap

You can see that some of the layers aren’t completely flat. I have a few waves from where the layer beneath was still rather soft when I spooned on the next. I really love the effect that it made!

Satsuma Gradient Soap

Satsuma Gradient Soap

As always, I had a great time taking part in this challenge. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else created!

Another Swirl

Lately I’ve been making soaps galore, and I’m really having fun trying out new-to-me techniques. I find myself browsing through various soap making blogs and YouTube videos late at night after the kids are in bed. Recently, I came across this video by The Soaperstar Celine Blacow where she shows a cool spoon swirl in the mold, which she coins “The Celine Swirl.” (She’s a hoot, by the way! Check out her videos for a giggle.) It’s a pretty simple swirl that has beautiful results, so of course I had to try it out!

This is Sexy Sandalwood soap, made with the simple Celine Swirl. First I poured in one layer of uncolored soap, then I spooned on a stripe of light brown soap, followed by the remainder of the uncolored soap. Then, I randomly pushed a spoon to the bottom of the mold, twisted and pulled up in one gentle motion. I did this throughout the mold, down both sides and intermittently in the middle as well. What fun it was to cut into this loaf of soap. I had no idea what to expect really. The swirls are stunning in person, and every bar is so unique!

Sexy Sandalwood Soap

Somehow it looks as if I used a white colorant in there, but I can assure you that I didn’t! Is it the way the soap heated and gelled, perhaps? The mysteries of soap. And even though I tamped the mold a lot, I still found a few air bubbles throughout the soap. Oh well. The luscious scent and swirls make up for a few small air pockets here and there. I absolutely love this very sexy and unisex scent. It’s one that you sniff once, put down, then instinctively pick back up and inhale deeply. The scent lingers.

Sexy Sandalwood Soap

My husband likes the scent as much as I do. Before he knew the name, he commented on how this smells like a resort. Then I told him the name, and he thinks it sounds like a resort, too. Makes me want to travel. Wait, how exactly does one travel with five very young children??? It’s do-able, but certainly not very enjoyable! Maybe someday… But for now, I’ll have to have a little resort getaway in my own shower.

Dreamy Swirl Success

Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap with Holly SwirlsI did it! The Holly swirl was a success! It’s amazing how excited I get over making a beautiful soap. After my first try didn’t work out quite as I’d planned, I was super antsy to try again. A lavender and vanilla scented soap has been on my list of things to make for quite a while. I need something calming after chasing around those energetic kids all day! So I wanted to go for a dreamy nighttime swirl of colors in hopes that some night I can sit in a bath tub relaxing with my soapy creation. (I’d also settle for a quick shower while the kids are napping. Have I mentioned how much I love nap time?)

For this batch, I made sure to soap at lower temperatures and not to blend too much. After adding the lye solution, I poured off a bit of unscented soap to color white. Then I added fragrance to the main batch and only mixed it in by hand. I separated out more soap to turn light blue, and some to turn midnight blue. The main batter is a lavender/bluish/gray color, similar to the nighttime sky at dusk. While everything was still very fluid, I poured the white and midnight soaps into the light blue pot. I put about three-quarters of the main batter into the mold, then poured the mixture of 3 colors into the mold from high above.

Creating Holly Swirl

Everything was perfectly fluid, and I knew immediately that this was exactly what I’d been going for! Pure satisfaction! To finish it off, I painted the top of the soap with splashes of each color and had fun swirling it as well.

Raw loaf of Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap

Oh, the joy of cutting into a loaf of soap that you’ve worked hard at planning and making! Each slice of the soap was fun to study. I had a hard time deciding which beautiful swirl was my favorite. And I love this scent blend. So much so that I may just schedule time for myself in the bathtub very soon. I will most certainly continue to use this technique in soaps. Success looks (and smells) sweet!

Lavender Vanilla Sleep Time Soap

Soaping Marathon turned Soaping Sprint

On the weekend, when Daddy’s home, Mommy gets to play! I have more time to make a mess all by myself since he can help keep the kids at bay. I started getting my supplies out while the little ones were eating lunch, and then I was able to get started right after the triplets went down for a nap. And amazingly, the baby went down for a nap at the same time! I made three big loaves while they were in bed (which is a lot at once for me)!

Three loaves made during my soaping marathon!

Three loaves made during my soaping marathon!

First up was Baby Bee Buttermilk. Check out my previous post to find out about that awesome creation! Next was another batch of Black Raspberry Vanilla soap. That’s a super popular scent that I can’t keep in stock, and it’s one of my personal favorites too. Here’s a peak at this batch.

Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap

After making 2 big loaves of soap, I knew that I’d have to work really quickly to get in another batch before nap time was over. I’ve been wanting to try out the Holly Swirl technique (named after Holly of Missouri River Soap Co) that was last month’s Soap Challenge Club challenge. Though I missed out on the actual competition, I would love to master this beautiful technique.

I knew it was risky to try out a new fragrance and a new technique at the same time, but I only have one day a week to make soap while the sun’s still up and I’m not bone tired! It seemed like an OK idea at the time, but things never seem to go as planned. Green Aloe & Clover was the scent of choice, and I planned to create a light green main batter, then make some dark green and some white to swirl together. The plan was to pour about two-thirds of the light green soap into the mold, then pour in the dark green/white swirl, then pour in the last of the light green soap to finish it off.

Here’s what actually happened. I added the lye solution to the oils with fragrance. About 5 pulses of the hand mixer, and trace was already reached!!! Oh no! Must work faster! I poured off two cups into two containers and colored one dark green and one white in all of 20 seconds. I glopped the white soap into the dark green and had to stir with a heavy spatula to mix it. Then, I turned the main batch light green as fast as I could and slapped it into the mold.

First layer of Green Aloe & Clover

First layer of Green Aloe & Clover, still almost fluid.

Second layer of Green Aloe & Clover

Second layer of Green Aloe & Clover, sitting firmly on top of the first layer.

When I pushed the dark green/white mixture into the mold, I knew immediately that it was going to be a stripe instead of a beautiful fluid swirl. And then, I had to spoon in the rest of the light green on top. It nearly seized in my bowl! Since it was already so set up, I made some peaks on top to give it more character. 

Final layer of Green Aloe & Clover being pushed into the mold!

Final layer of Green Aloe & Clover being pushed into the mold!

Did I soap it at too high of a temperature? Was it simply this fragrance? I’ll have to try it again and see what happens next time. Making soap is always an exciting experience! Prior to making this batch, I had asked Matt to take some action shots for me. He was quite befuddled at my muttering and frantic movements. Am I the only one who talks to the soap as I’m making it?

Green Aloe & Clover SoapEven though it didn’t work out like I’d hoped, I think the final creation is actually pretty cool. The dark green and white swirl turned into rolling waves, and the scent is fresh and clean. 

Green Aloe & CloverI’m sure that other soaper’s accidents like this one have turned into new techniques. Or maybe that’s just how I console myself when I have a big fail! But at least it’s soap. It’ll still get me clean! Now I’ll be trying this technique with a scent that I know doesn’t accelerate trace.