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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Melts Part 2

Please join me in patting myself on the back because I managed to patiently wait until late this morning to poke the cocoa melts. *smile* However…it wouldn’t be something that I made if it came out right the first time. *cracking up*

I poured three testers in beach themed molds so that I wouldn’t mix them up with what I hope to sell. So first I poked lightly and was encouraged. Then I tried to unmold one and it looked like I tried fingerprinting with chocolate pudding. Lol. A part of me, the chocoholic freak part, marveled at how it kind of looked like a really yummy truffle. *grin* I wrapped the entire mold of guest squares with cookie sheets and wax paper sandwiching the mold, and popped the whole bit in the refrigerator.

20130331-220514.jpg A Truffle Massage Maybe?

After a trip to the city to get chocolate Frosties because we couldn’t take the constant temptation of smelling cocoa, and a few French fries for the dog *grin*, I pulled them out and they popped right out of the mold. Unfortunately the cold made them look a little odd.

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I have them warming to room temperature now while crossing my fingers that they turn a fudge-like brown again instead of this ashy color. The bottom of the melts, the side that was exposed overnight, is completely different.

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After a lot of pondering those odd circles which are definitely not a part of the mold I finally realized that those are where I poured the mixture into each one! Lol. I’ve never seen this before and at first I was so disappointed because they don’t look all perfect. Then I took a deep sniff of them and realized that even if they don’t darken and the circles aren’t what I expected, they’re pretty cool. *grin* I’m going to keep working on my patience and in the morning we’re going to test one. It’s hard to frown when you smell like chocolate and have some really silky skin. ๐Ÿ™‚

Gauntlet Link

I wanted to share the link to the blog that inspired me that I discussed in my earlier post. Not only is it an enjoyable quick read and helps this blogger get more exposure, it might just inspire you to accept the challenge. If you decide to, please let me know and keep me posted as you go. Having a workout buddy is helpful and I think that concept applies well to this challenge. If you need help setting up a free blog to document your challenge, don’t hesitate to contact me. Maybe if everyone participating in the challenge reached out and helps another, then we might all get an extra benefit of connecting with others. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Jackie Blog Gauntlet

Cocoa Moisturizing Massage Melts

*stops dancing mid-rump shake, blushing from being caught* I thought it might take you a little longer to get to Part 2, so I was doing a little happy dance while looking at my little army of melts on the cabinet. I knew I should have stuck with a cool and casual head bob to my favorite song by Fun.

Anyway, I finally got to try making massage melts and I’m really excited over them. Unfortunately the melts are taking forever (queue the teenage dramatic eye roll of “this is so lame”) to set up. I, um, kind of made a really gross looking blob out of one tester when I tried to unmold it a little bit ago. Lol. Looks were definitely deceiving. Soon, my friends, I will post my deliciously scented finished product, but in the meantime I’ll share the process.

The Cocoa Moisturizing Massage Melts are basically a chocolate snack to your body. Instead of nibbling on that piece of Dove or that Easter chocolate rabbit that you hid behind the sofa cushion to attack rabidly when PMS hits, you actually do want this chocolate to go to the hips…or elbows, back, etc, and I want to test it on freshly shaved legs. I started with dark cocoa powder (rich in antioxidants); then added beeswax granules, grated cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, and I boosted the divine scent just a bit more with some Fudge Brownie FO. *happy sigh* I wish I could bottle the resulting smell for those raving lunatic, must-have-chocolate-or-someone-will-die, days. Lol.

I admit that it was the first time that I ever grated cocoa butter. I can’t even think of how to adequately describe the weirdness of how it melts in the hand while being grated, so my hand looked so oily. I couldn’t decide if I should let my mind play in the gutter over it or if I should wrinkle my nose and go all “eww” over it. *grin*

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In a double boiler (well, my generic version anyway lol) I mixed everything together. It looked really odd at first.

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It took me a while to get the heat just right for everything to melt. Beeswax granules are easier to handle and supremely easy to measure, but I had a hard time getting them to melt. As things began to melt and blend I was reminded of chocolate pudding.

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Suddenly everything was just right when I dipped the spoon in again to watch how the mixture dripped and I had to work fast when I turned the burner off. The mixture was poured into a large measuring cup to make it easier to pour and then I immediately poured into my guest squares mold. I had a little extra scraped from the edges of the bowl and cup that wasn’t as nice and creamy, since it’d been off of the heat a few minutes at this point, which I got into a couple of small molds to use as testers. I still think of chocolate pudding when I look at the melts.

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We tested what was left on the spatula and took “control” pictures to see how it will change with time, etc. My husband didn’t quite expect to be a tester. I suddenly walked up to him and smeared it down one of his legs while he was laying in the recliner. *cracking up* There were a few fun comments made, but then I think he started to enjoy the spontaneous leg rub. Next he got it tested on a hand and then I had him test it on my back, so we’d have several ranges of skin in the test. There was a bit of trouble with the cocoa leaving a slight tint when massaged into body hair, like manly leg hair. *grin* I’m going to keep checking it periodically and even seeing if it’ll rub in further with time. The patch on my arm and then the one on the elbow are both incredibly silky five or six hours later. The secondary, and most important, test is to see how the melts perform after they’ve set up. We have a baseline of expectations and I’m super anxious to get them un-molded.

So that I’m not tempted to poke the melts until they are set up (yep, I’m that kind of person that pokes jello and bruises lol), I’m going to go lay down and savor the lingering smell of chocolate. I can’t wait to share more about them with you soon!

The Challenge and Melts

This may turn into a two part post – it just depends how many words I can cram in under the limit…I mean *cough* how concise I can be. *grin* My strength was always in creative writing and not journalism, mostly because I love descriptions that wrap around you like your favorite fuzzy blanket, instead of a straight shooting line that smacks you between the eyes. *smile* Anyway, I reserve the right to continue this post because I have lots of ideas to share right now.

While I was really sick (actually only now am I starting to feel like a human again instead of a casing for phlegm – ewww, gross alert! *grin*) I caught up on some reading. I’m sure you probably know that I love to read and that it understandably means that I follow a lot of blogs. For awhile I had to prioritize and missed out on some blog posts. Well, one of my catch ups is on The Jackie Blog. I think this blogger is really engaging and I’m impressed that she has issued The Gauntlet to help motivate others to improve their lives. She’s accomplished a lot with her personal challenges and is really inspiring to me, especially because she’s honest and forthright about not wanting to do stuff some days. The challenge is to pick something in your life to improve that is quantifiable, for at least 30 days, and she has some incentives as well, although all participants will have the benefit of improvement no matter what. Well, I decided that I’d really like to apply the challenge to my business. Although I think about the business a lot and do a lot of research, I haven’t felt overly productive or successful lately, and I’m hoping that dedicated time with a little tough love will help both my feelings about my business as well as the business itself. So, although the challenge officially starts April 1st, I’m giving it a go now. We all know I’m not patient when I have an idea. *grin*

I totally nerded out and made an outline of goals to accomplish during the challenge, as well as a few other items to work on or consider. It’s a little sad to think about (let alone say) that I’m going to be removing some products from my line strictly because they don’t sell. My husband got a few extra days off and we couch potato-ed to help me recuperate, plus spend time together. Anyway, one show we caught up on with the DVR is Shark Tank. It’s one of those hate to love it shows for us. *grin* Just my luck one of the applicants was a young girl who is creating and selling homemade scrubs. She has a few variations of them, but that’s all. Of course Larry keyed in on that business model and said that I need to apply it to mine. “You need to focus on one or two items that actually sell instead of so many options that don’t always sell.” I understand, I totally do, and I know how he is looking at it. However, you have to have a bit of variety and change in order to find what is a perfect fit for the business and fills someone’s needs. I set my feelings aside and decided that I’d compromise by restructuring a bit, and I’ll also keep experimenting, but I’ll try to keep the new items under the main lines now.

I admit that this is a bit scary and kind of sad to revamp the business. The bad side of homemade sometimes is that every creative item has a little piece of your heart and hopes mixed in, so when they are unsuccessful you feel a bit emotional about it. However I am going to pull my big girl boots on and make bigger, and better, tracks for my business to step into.

First, several items that have never sold or seldom sell will be completely removed. I’ll have my friendly line reminding customers to please inquire if you don’t see what you’re looking for, because I may still be able to make that item, but I’m losing money by having them available full time.

Second, I’m going to come up with a brand logo that will go with the company name and product title on the main label. I’ll also probably add a label to the back for the “do not eat”, which will help to make the product label much more interesting and professional. That girl on Shark Tank had some really adorable packaging and a cute label. I know it’ll take some work and may not be finished within the month challenge, but it is a key priority to me, and one goal of the challenge that I’m really excited about.

Third, I need to finalize and implement the concept of “As Supplies Last”. I’ll use that for trying out my experiments and things that won’t be made any more, but I still have stuff on hand. I’ll see if the new items sell well and if they do, then they make it to a standard page of my website. If items don’t sell or ideas fall flat, they get a reduced price and will be removed once appropriate. It will be a lot easier than having to dedicate fluctuating space on my standard pages when they’re set up fairly well right now.

Fourth, I really want to do a sale. Larry thinks it needs to be labeled as a liquidation sale, which in my opinion is what the As Supplies Last page really is. I want to do a flash sale. I have a few real reasons behind this idea – I personally love to shop them so why wouldn’t others, I can control the time frame, I can possibly do high volume at a more discounted price for a limited time which will still make me more than slowly selling off a few at the moderate liquidation sale price, and lastly, it may generate some interest and excitement. When I’m excited about something it comes bubbling out of my mouth any time that the conversation goes idle, and if anyone else gets that excited, maybe they’ll spread the word to their friends and I’ll get some new sales.

Lastly, I have some smaller goals such as working on gift giving/boxing options that make the products even more attractive, better marketing, and some good ol’ tedious work like changing some names, editing my site, getting improved pictures to use in marketing, and whatnot.

I think I have a few months of work outlined, plus my work on trying some new items. I have the supplies on hand, so when I get a creative urge, I’m going for it. *grin* I hope to do a few featured ingredient posts to help everyone know a little bit more about a cool item and I have a few little summer recipes that I will share. They use perishable ingredients, so I can’t sell them, but I think some will appreciate them, even if they only get to the recipe via Pinterest. If there is something you would like me to write about, such as a specific ingredient or product, or whatever, please drop a comment and I’ll add it to my outline. Periodically I’ll share my overall challenge status with you, because that will help motivate me when I don’t feel well. I’ll be held a bit more accountable, even if you don’t honestly give two figs if I succeed at the challenge. Just acknowledging the challenge and putting that into the forever zone of the Internet…that helps me feel more accountable than when it’s just for my eyes only. *grin*

Now, I also mentioned melts, which is something I’ve been impatiently waiting to discuss, but I’m running out of space, so I’m taking the allowance I gave myself earlier and making a second post to accompany this. I’ll see you on the other side of the post. *big grin*

Queue the dirge

I admit that I’m morbid enough that I have the funeral march as a ringtone. I’m not in that honest of a mood to confess who earned that tone, but I have it and played it today in honor of the poor Worms in Dirt Soap. I think I’ve exhausted my troubleshooting abilities and have to call the code on it. *sad smile*

The last batch of Worm soaps have been sitting at room temperature, exposed, to make sure that they would be fine once at the consumer’s. I dreaded checking them today while working on stuff. I honestly did, with good reason. Every day something else has gone wonky or wrong and today was no different. Now the color on the worms is bleeding into the soap. Lol. I am out of solutions. I have been bested. *hits the ring tone again while hanging my head* I admit that I’ve learned a lot between them and the ducks, so it was worth it. It was a damn fine idea if I say so myself. *smile*

Ah, yes, I mentioned the ducks too…I have tried every bag that I own for packaging the ducks. Nope. I’ve had them wrapped in wax paper and big zip bags while trying to figure it out, and thankfully nothing has gone wrong with them…yet. *smart aleck wink* I decided that I have to give up the idea of bagging the ducks and tying them off with some curling ribbon though. I hate to raise the prices of anything, as you well know, but I’m going to have to add the fifty cents each box cost me and stick to boxing them. (Of course I won’t charge that to orders I all ready have, although I have no idea where to write that down for the accountant, so I guess I’ll write a note and staple it to my 2013 tax worksheet for her to figure out. Mawahahaha!) I feel a bit silly because I have taped these boxes to high heaven to try to keep the soaps as fresh as I can and it kind of feels like I’m diapering the poor things. *cracking up* Seriously! Just look at the picture! The boxes have to be folded and assembled. It seems like an origami diaper. *shaking head in amusement*

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Anyway, thank you for sharing in a moment of mourning the poor worms. *grin* I never expected to ever write that…hmm. I best get out of my reclining camp chair, soaking up a bit of rare incredible weather, and craft some ducks. I hope you have some beautiful weather to enjoy this weekend and have a fun, yet safe, St. Patrick’s Day.

“But the greatest love – the love above all loves, even greater than that of a mother – is the tender, passionate, undying love of one beer drunken slob for another.” – unknown

“A toast to your coffin.
May it be made of 100 year-old oak,
And may we plant the tree together, tomorrow.” – unknown

๐Ÿ™‚

Weird “Worms”

I checked on my soaps today (they’ve been relaxing in some wax paper) to make sure everything is still going fine after a few days. Unfortunately I found one of the weirdest things that I’ve seen since first experimenting with bath stuff years back. I knew that there was a risk of an air bubble around the shads in the Dirt soap when I decided to keep them upright and the tippy top breached the surface. Yesterday there was the tiny hole, but today it’s as if the soaps completely changed. I suspect that the shads dried out and shrunk a little, because there is an air bubble completely surrounding each shad. That is kind of understandable and although the presentation won’t be as nice, it’s an easy fix with just laying them down when I embed them and using these for shreds or whatnot. The weird part is that each of them sweated.

We’re still experiencing winter temperatures and I work in a room away from the woodstove, so the temperature doesn’t get overly warm during the winter, and it hasn’t been a long time, so I’m a bit puzzled right now. A soap “sweat” is not pretty to look at, but is still completely useable. Glycerin is a humectant, which draws moisture from the air, so the surface gets a bumpy white or a beaded surface texture. I realize that the sweat around the shad is because of the soak and apparently not enough time to dry out, although they sure seemed like they were. I’m just absolutely puzzled over it having stripes of sweat. *shaking head* Thankfully it’s only the one variety of soap, but I need to do some research obviously. I guess it’s good that I have been waiting a few days to check on it before posting to my site. I’m going to experiment with a difference base and see if that’s what went wrong. Cross your fingers please!

Ducky in the Window

I’m too pleased to hold this post for a more traditional time. I didn’t want to mention that I found some cupcake boxes to try for packaging the duck soaps in case it was an epic failure, but I’m really stoked to report that I think it turned out cute. *time to boogy* Here, I’ll wait a moment so you can get up and boogy with me. Whew, I didn’t want to do that alone, so thank you! *grin*

I found that the tallest soap with an apple hat on the duck is just a tad too high to put in the boxes. With the lid open it looked super cute to me, so I went ahead and photographed it. If needed I could still close it and it would just make the window pyramid a tad.

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I decided to swap out for a hatless soap (there’s wax paper under each soap, so that’ll protect them from each other). I happened to take two angles with the lid down, although admittedly I hadn’t taped anything down since this was my first test.

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I think the boxes, especially with a touch of Easter grass or tinsel shreds, look so sharp and also should make it easier/more secure for shipping. There will also be less smudging too, since the splashes are wide and the ducks have to be wiggled down into a cello bag, which will smudge the bag and possibly the edge of the soap. I’m going to keep experimenting, but this is definitely the version that I think looks great. That window gives it the feeling of a gift and makes me think of that first peek at a corsage. *smile* Hopefully it invokes some nice feelings for you too. I’d love to know your reaction and hope you have a great day!!

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