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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Summer’s A’Comin’

I was busy experimenting yesterday, but it seemed weird to include them with the cocoa melts post. The gloom has finally lifted and Spring has come to Kansas. *grin* It’s been absolutely beautiful, although seems incredibly warm at 80 just because it’s been cold so often. It was too warm in the house for soap to set and I was too restless to make anything but experiments. In honor of the warmth and sunshine I decided to try and make a few summer ready items.

The first is a lemon sugar scrub. This smells like fresh squeezed lemons, perfect for some iced tea or lemonade, and has no kitchen cleaner-type notes to it at all. *happy sigh* I found a recipe for a sandal scrub during all my research and made a few changes to it. There’s brown sugar and granulated sugar for the main scrub, and although the brown sugar doesn’t do magnificent things, it softens the scent of the mixture and made it look awesome, in my opinion.

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It’s thought that Lemon EO (essential oil) has a lot of antiseptic properties, helps clear grease and dead skin, and may even help to fight headaches while it’s helping to heal small blemishes or cuts (although I’d advise asking a doctor before using it on wounds of any type). There are a ton of possible aromatherapy benefits too, with relieving depression and fatigue being key ones, which is why I thought it’d be the perfect EO for a summer scrub. There’s Aloe Vera in the mixture too, so you get that soothing and moisturizing feel from it. I’ll test it for a few weeks, since I can only exfoliate every few days, but the first test was fantastic. If I closed my eyes I could almost imagine that I had a tall glass of lemon tea in my hand while I reveled in a warm summer rain. (I was in the shower and it’s kind of hard to have a fantasy that doesn’t include rain when you’re in there. *cracking up*) The exfoliation is super soft and the sweet almond oil left my skin smooth and moisturized. It sounds like such a crock, I know, but I tested it on one arm and compared them after the shower, and literally the tested arm looks so much healthier and I don’t have any dry spots yet, almost a whole day later. It may be close to time for a happy dance.

The second experiment is an energizing or refreshing gel. This one I have some mixed feelings about. I’m not sure how sellable it would be, because it looks and feels…weird. I can’t think of any other polite descriptions; I just keep coming up with juvenile and gross comments. *laugh* The main ingredient is Aloe Vera, so it’s great for the skin, and it has Peppermint EO and Wintergreen EO to give some zing. The EOs are also thought to be great for aromatherapy; comforting, uplifting, relaxing, and not to mention that they help with congestion. I admit now that I was just excited to be experimenting and adapting some recipes that I found, and failed to think through a few of the ingredients. I added EOs and oils to suit my interests, and what not, but the original recipe for this gel called for cornstarch, and that’s such a toss-away ingredients when looking at bath recipes that I didn’t give it any thoughts. Yeah, you know that I face palmed when things went wrong, and you all ready know something went wrong because it’s just my destiny for something to go wrong. *grin* Anywhatsit…I added the cornstarch to my own version of the recipe and happily started to stir. Then I got my small whisk and beat the crap out of the mixture. Then I brought out the big gun – the electric whisk. I know that this little bad boy can send bath whip from my stove all the way to my kitchen table (I wish I could say that only happened once *blush*), so I figured this mixture had met it’s match. Let’s just give that a big, fat nope. Let’s just make that italic to emphasize that the cornstarch beat me. Nope. This fun little mixture turned into a super thick, gelatinous cloud that can stay in form for the first few attempts to rub it in. That’s some serious witchy superpowers there! *grin* I forgot to mention that I never could get the cornstarch to fully incorporate either, so there are pockets of white floating around in this blob. I know the benefits of the ingredients, so I was able to set aside my nose-wrinkling over the texture and used it twice so far. I like how my skin feels afterward, although it’s not as refreshing as I expected. At first. Take a shower and rinse it off, and be prepared to dance a little. Or maybe that’s just me and my super senses from my Fibro. *laugh* Once heat hit those mints came back to life and had some zing. I loved it, truth be told. *grin* I love when products surprise me like that (not when they surprise me by having gelatinous superpowers though…meh).

20130430-123626.jpg See, the blob doesn’t even fall off of the spoon. There was too much shadow (and I’m too clumsy to be able to snap a pic with my other hand) for the shots of the blob staying put when held upside down and completely sideways to come out.

Top it all off I tried to cut my coffee soap loaf and package it. Doh! The frosting was extra soft and stuck to the bag, while the bar tried to melt where I touched it as I cut and packaged it. Although the grid paper helped to get somewhat even cuts, I need to work on improving that a bit more still. The different sections aren’t totally equal. I set aside this project to finish once it gets a little cooler again.

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Top it with fiddling with the cocoa melts and getting the rest of my supply order, and I’m feeling pretty happy with myself. Although today will be a review and research day, I can tell. That whisking…whew!

I hope you have a wonderful and pampering Tuesday!

Cocoa Massage

I thought I’d start off with a DIY recipe. You heard all about the cocoa massage melts in a previous post. I can’t get them to look prettier and they resemble cracked jagged rocks. Meh. I really like how my skin felt after testing it, though, so I want to share the recipe for those with the inclination to make them. You’ll need some molds for this, but you can even use ice trays. I found that silicone molds worked best for me, because these buggers don’t want to budge after the set. If you have a bite size brownie sheet mold it filled all 24 holes in mine, plus three other small molds.

You will need:
1 cup of grated cocoa butter (available all craft stores, etc; and always measure before grating; keep a paper towel handy while grating since your body heat will cause it to melt, so keep wiping as you go, but don’t try to grate while holding the towel, no matter how tempting it is))
4 Tbsp dark cocoa powder (from the baking aisle)
6 oz (or 4 tbsp) Sweet Almond Oil (available in health stores and some craft stores)
4 tbsp Beeswax granules (you can also grate a square of it, but if you can find the granules they are way easier)

Put all of the ingredients in a double boiler and melt over a medium low heat. Whisk it frequently. The mixture will look frothy for a while; just use a spoon to check that the wax is fully melted. Once the mixture is fully incorporated and smooth work fast to pour the mixture into the designated molds. This will clump fast! Worst case situation you can pop it in the microwave in a safe container for a few seconds and it’ll buy you a few minutes.

The massage square melts with the heat from your skin. It will look brown on the skin at first, but as it soaks in, or you spread it to other skin, the brown disappears. If the squares will not set up and you find that the inside is still wet when you test one, then you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes. The only down side to freezing is that they will not look overly appealing because of the temperature differences. If they are setting well, let them sit and settle for a few days. That freezer is the last resort. Anyway, if you have any questions, let me know!
All you do is let a square warm in your hand and rub it in anywhere (except overly sensitive areas). It works so much better if someone else massages it in for you, too. *sassy wink* I hope a few of you enjoy the recipe. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me and I’ll try to help. Have fun!!

They massage in really well. If your body heat isn’t melting it as desired, just hit it for a few moments with the blow dryer.

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Oatmeal – Not Just for Breakfast Anymore?

I decided to spend my one-handed time researching some ideas and the how/why some ingredients do or don’t work.  I have a small issue with an incredibly rapid stream of consciousness.  Red light, yellow light, squirrel!  I should put some nuts out for the squirrels, although they keep stealing the sunflower seeds.  Hmm, I need to order some more poppy seeds for the Men’s Scrub.  The Men’s Scrub uses ground oatmeal.  I wonder if I have any leftover or if I need to grind some more.  I wonder why it didn’t help with the hives.  Do I have anything that might have helped with the hives?  Yeah, you get the idea.  Although it seems like I’m mocking myself, it’s embarrassingly almost word for word the internal thought process that inspired the latest round of research.  *grin*  And if you haven’t noticed I tend to get a bit obsessive on occasion.  Hey, if I was perfect and healthy I could cause some real trouble in this world. 

 

I got a little…interested…in slow cooker recipes the past week.  I go through phases where my nook seldom goes dark.  So when I needed to stop reading about ingredients and let the info actually soak in I would flip through recipes.  I stumbled across a homemade granola recipe and I’m really happy with how it turned out when I made it (I may be munching on some while I’m writing this).  Since oatmeal is one of my main interests of research lately I thought I’d go a little wild and share the recipe.  It’s the “Basic Granola” recipe in Carol Hildebrand’s “365 Winter Warmer Slow Cooker Recipes”. 

“4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (in case you haven’t dealt with oats much and haven’t been learning from anything/anyone about it, it’s the oatmeal tube that has the 5 minute recipe, not the 1 minute *smile*)

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup

3 tbsp. vegetable oil, enriched with vitamin E, if desired

Spray the inside of the slow cooker with cooking spray.  Put the rolled oats, honey, and vegetable oil in the slow cooker and mix well.  Partially cover, propping the lid open with a twist of foil or a wooden skewer to allow the moisture to escape, and cook on low for 2.5 to 3.5 hours, or until the oat morsels are roasted dry and golden brown, stirring every 30 minutes.  Allow the granola to cool, then transfer it to an airtight container.  Store it in the refrigerator….When the granola has cooled, add in a total of 1 to 2 cups of raisins, shredded unsweetened coconut, chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or shelled pumpkin or sunflower seeds.”

I used maple syrup for mine and I’ll admit that at two hours I added a bit more syrup right out of the bottle into the mixture.  *grin*  Don’t forget to stir!!  *starts whistling innocently* I believe the syrup can get a tough and bitter if it sits on the bottom too long.  Lol.  Mixed with some cherry craisins it’s still fantastic to me. 

 

One reason I started researching oatmeal after running across the recipe is that I’ve never figured out why the oatmeal I added to my bath failed to relieve my itching when I had hives.  To be honest it felt like I was bathing with a bunch of minnows or something and seriously grossed me out.  *cracking up*  I did a bit of mind-over-matter and kept bathing in it with the hope that I’d have a few minutes of relief.  Aveeno helped me when I was a kid and had the chicken pox, so I’ve been puzzling over it.  Oatmeal has phenols and other goodies that are consider anti-inflammatories, plus oatmeal creates a kind of barrier on your skin, which is suppose to protect it.  After a lot of reading (I was too miserable to ease my mind when I was itching) it appears that the oatmeal didn’t work because I had such an acute allergic reaction to the medication I had been taking.  So thankfully I’m not as skeptical about adding oatmeal to products.  It’s still fantastic for exfoliating, but I think it won’t go on my list of anti-inflammatories that I want to experiment with.

 

Anyway, I hope some of you find the recipe useful.  I’m still trying to organize my thoughts about Evening Primrose Oil and Clary Sage.  And sampling.  And mud.  And dogs, especially dogs that keep getting into mud.  And one cat stealing the bed of the other cat….

Planning

I did some intense idea journaling on the next Sunset Stroll (breast cancer event), which I touched upon the other night. It’s a few months away, but it takes me a little longer than the average person to get prepared for events.

I haven’t decided if I’ll try and set up a booth at the event. I never sold anything when I did before, but there’s always that chance that I have improved enough and have gotten some good exposure before, so I might get some sales. The pro/con spreadsheet is pretty dag on even, so I’ll be awhile before I make up my mind on that details I bet. Lol.

I’m planning to order 100 of the heat seal travel size packets (that I showed in the last post) and will put goat’s milk & honey lotion samples in them for the Stroll swag bags. The first time I made small pink ribbon soaps for the bags. It’s a fantastic marketing opportunity if used correctly, so I think that putting my best product in 100 hands is a smart idea. Plus it’ll look so professional and unique in that package. Soaps aren’t overly good sellers and the really whimsical ones are the only soaps that tend to go over well, so they’re not the best item to use for marketing, I realized. I’m excited because I think all of this planning and idea journaling has dramatically helped me improve.

In addition I plan to do a basket for them to raffle off, similar to last year, although I want to do a themed basket that isn’t a pink theme. I know I’m going against the grain a little, not following the pink and ribbon theme, but I think that’ll help my basket stand out more and get more interest. The more people that want it and don’t win it gives the potential of a lot of new customers. I have several full themes written out, but can’t decide on which I want to do. (See – I really can spend days writing spreadsheets, idea bubbles, and lists. *cracking up*) I’m seriously debating between pampering, sweet treats, or light and fruity. All three have some great options within the themes and really show some of my best items.

I also want to make a second basket that is focused on being kid friendly. I’m not positive that I’ll do this one, but if I can afford to do another donation and can manage it, then it’d be an even better chance to get some new customers. If a kid tries my products and really wants more, the caregiver has to come to be, since my items are so unique. I think a Monsters Away Spray, a couple bubble washes, a Splish Splash Duckie, and maybe even a Worms in Dirt Scrub to keep it all really whimsical.

I am so thankful that the Gauntlet Challenge has helped me do some much needed work for my business. I expected and hoped to have a lot more products made during this, but I feel like I’m much prepared to continue improving my business. There’s some disappointment that I can’t show you a truckload of pics and success stories, but look at how many details have been scrutinized and improved. *small happy dance* (On a side note I am becoming convinced that I have the world’s worst karma, mostly health-wise. I think I broke a warehouse of mirrors at some point and forgot about it. It’s all that I can come up with to explain how I am always getting injured or sick. *grin* When I left the forgotten warehouse I stepped under a lot of ladders too. That’s how I’m explaining a cut on my hand from the dog’s leash and spontaneously developing a croupy cough. Lol. By the way, door jams and gravity have a vendetta against me as well. I went out of my way to do some really nice things for others, so I’m hoping I get a healthy day as a reward. I’d really like to make some products and feel good about some accomplishments. *grin*)

Anyway, I’m crossing my fingers to start carrying out my ideas soon. I hope you have a wonderful and warm weekend filled with creativity and pampering!!

Could You Hear Me?

Did you hear it? Did you hear me squealing wherever you are? Ears are bleeding all around me. *grin*

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I got part of my supply order and the free sample of the Night “Blooming” Jasmine (got around that copyright, eh? Lol). It smells amazing! *starts to do a jig, then stops after the dog trips me* I’m so tickled over this FO. It definitely didn’t work to curb my FO addiction though. Oops.

I got a bag full of reducers and they kind of made me a little giddy too. I can convert all of the body oils on hand and I’m prepared for some orders.

20130424-172141.jpg (freaking adorable IMO)

Now for the meaty part. I got a few injuries from a mishap with Bo (my dog), so I’ve been working on more planning and research instead of making soaps (disappointing, but I’m tickled with what I’ve planned out). I started planning out what I want to do and accomplish with this year’s breast cancer awareness event. After a lot of comparisons I decided that if the little heat seal packets that I ordered a sample of are actually as neat in person, then I’m going to do lotion samples in them for the event’s grab bags.

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Oh yeah, they are perfect!! They are just a little bigger than my business card, so I can secure my card on one side with a glue dot and label the other side. (Have you ever tried them? It’s oddly addictive and you start looking around to see what else you can glue together *cracking up* It’s kind of like when you get a labeling machine and find yourself labeling the shelves in your pantry just because you can.) They don’t photograph well when the sun starts going down, but you can get the idea. How cool are these?

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The end is open, so you fill there (um, still not sure how I’m going to get the lotion in the small opening without burning myself, but that’s a problem for another day lol) and then just slide the heat along it. Those notches just delight me for some reason. I know…I have some really odd quirks. *grin*

As I was sorting through my new items someone decided to try to grab some packing peanuts. 🙂

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A Little Nerdy

In case you have forgotten just how nerdy I can be, I’m letting my nerd flag fly today. 1. I watch Dr Who, 2. I have been on SL (Second Life, an online community, kind of like The Sims and a chat room combined) for years, and 3. I tend to shop for nerdy things to dress my avatar in on SL. Lol. While doing some window shopping for my avatar last night I found a shirt that combines my love of all things nerdy with my love of the bath and body world.

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I want to find this in real life. I think it’d make an awesome shirt to wear for business events once my business info was added. *grin* To ice the cake, so to speak, I took a picture of my computer screen via my iPhone while playing Netflix on my Nook beside my computer. *cracking up* I amuse myself when I take a step back and analyze myself.

On a more business-related note, I ended up getting both types of sample packaging discussed previously, although I’m mostly going to go with the little flip top jars. I can’t resist the chance to heat seal some product though. Lol. It might be even more enjoyable than shrink wrapping my soaps. *grin* Yep, I’m a dork. A dork with some seriously “buh me” moments. I amuse myself, though, and that’s a key to my happiness. *sassy wink* Anywho…For my free gift for my order I chose a Night Blossoming Jasmine FO knockoff. If it’s as good as the Bath & Body Works version you’re going to be able to hear my joy wherever you are when I open it. I’m pretty sure ears will be bleeding in my tiny town. Unscented fabric softener sheets will never be the same in my house. *grin*

I also had a lightbulb moment the other day that inspired a lot of pages of stream of consciousness bubbles. Since the decorative trim and buttons felt rather odd on the soaps when washing, why not try embedding them? A total smack my forehead and say “buh me” moment. *smile*

I hope you don’t mind that this is mostly just a really fun post and not full of business “meat”. I’m super giddy because I’m done with my website changes (except for proof reading) and I am so proud that I have gotten so much done. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and if things go right I should have some pics with new embeds soon!

Sampling

One of the top items on my list is to find a better way of marketing. One part of that includes more efficient sampling. I’m a strong believer that if you try something, then you’re more likely to buy it. I found a little packet that can be sealed with a flat iron. It’s really cost effective, so I could easily budget a fairly high quantity of them. My business card can be stapled right onto the packets too. To open you just tear it open, like ripping open a hot cocoa packet.

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The second option is the flip top jars that I used for the testers at my booth at the Christmas craft fair last year. These would be perfect because they’re resealable, transported easily even after being opened, and will hold the true scent well. They also look more professional in some ways.

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Down side to the packets is that once they’re open, they’re open, because they’re not resealable, so the whole sample must be marketed right then. They’re cheaper to make though, so I can do a few of each for other moments of sampling.

Down side to the jars is that someone might like my product and walk off with the little jar, which has a bigger amount of sample in it. It also is a little more expected, I guess you could say. It says handmade lotion instead of high end sample. I don’t mind either of those impressions though, so it’s definitely not a con for either. Lol.

After looking over my lists over areas that I can improve marketing is one of the biggest and I think really doing a lot more sampling, not just my testers, will help. Maybe if I get a lot of samples in hands, like Avon or Mary Kay can, then maybe they’ll be able to see that my best items might compare to their favorites. Plus, the real samples will give true examples of my incredible scents instead of the unpredictable scent of a soaked cotton ball. A small sample of my bright and fresh summer scents might find their groove then. *grin*

Anyway, if you like one over the other, please post your vote in the comments. I appreciate any and all feedback. I want to tweak the business just right that my customers really like all aspects of it. 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful day/night!

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