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My New Business Flickr

Hi there!  Long time, no write.  😀  I haven’t really had anything new to post, since I’ve mostly just been focusing on my health and PTSD therapy, especially since I separated out my gaming into an individual blog.  I have, however, finally had the light bulb moment that I could create another Flickr account to work as a visual portfolio of products I have made.  Once I am ever able to start working on products again and then update the website accordingly, I’ll be able to display examples of other products that I have made that I am not featuring on the website.  This allows customers to get an idea of ideas, options, and skills I have for custom orders.  I added a convenient little widget (display link) in my sidebar, but wanted to post it in an actual blog post for your convenience, in case you’d like to follow the portfolio.  I’ll include work-in-progress concepts there (WIPs), so you’ll get a little bit more of a behind-the-scenes look than I typically post on the site and often don’t blog.  (I tend to prefer to blog when something is actually done or I’ve fully fleshed out an idea.)  If you’d like to check it out or follow my business Flickr, it is https://www.flickr.com/gp/157936082@N04/jV9q0y.  I made it a hyperlink that opens on a new page and you have the option to copy/paste instead, if you prefer.

Until I next have something interesting to write about, happy pampering and best wishes! 🙂

I forgot the pictures. Buh.

I was looking at my phone’s camera roll when I realized I forgot to post the pictures of the massive restocking I had to do, with a few new items and some gift discontinued items from my wholesaler. So, a little late but better than never. *grin*

Yep, I told you that leaving a mixing shot glass of beer on your counter in order to go flat can look very…unsettling. *laugh*

Look at the awesome molds!! Two sizes of loaves, with the wood one having a removable silicone insert and a little less volume than the red one. Two special adoption puzzle piece molds and two four-leaf clover molds that are actually pretty deep (since I have a hard time resisting anything in the realm of Celtic *grin*). These were pure additions and not replacements, except for the loaves, since my previous two weren’t overly good.

That’s one really full, heavy box!

I still look at the unpacked pictures in awe. It’s just a tiny bit less than when I first decided to start this adventure! The red thing in the left bottom corner is even a tiny square embeds mold, so all of them are even and none are wonky because I can draw or cut a straight line at all. *laugh*

This is the awesome fragrance blending wheel I got to help with making my custom blends. I’m used to just winging it and seeing if the proportions were right, for the upper, sometimes middle, and lower noted in a scent. Except for a few products, most are actually blends I’ve worked on. This takes all of the guesswork, luck, and grossly smelling batches out of the equation. It gives a range of what to use for each set of notes and on the back it has ratios, so you can create blends so much easier. There are also blender sticks in the haul to go with it, where I do sticks of scent per the ratio, hold them in a clothespin, and get an idea while wafting the scent if you’d like to change up the ratio, without losing more than a few drops of scent. Brilliant!!

I’m super excited about these spout bags. The darker bottom is actually the base that opens up so that the container can stand. This should allow me to ship some lotions and bubble washes at a lower price, since I won’t have to need big enough boxes for big jars or cylinders. *happy dance* Bonus, it’ll look awesome for some “Vamp tears” or something monster related! A vibrant red spouted pouch would make a wacky and wonderful stocking stuffer in my opinion, for the right type of person.

And lastly, explanation before picture just to hype it up for a few seconds, although this is just batch 1 and I need to work with the recipe a bit more…

Zombie Ale!! My first time soaping with a non-cosmetic ingredient (beer), actually turned out and looks pretty good, I think. In first testing the only scent left behind was apples, so I’ll do a second test on this batch, and then, if still just apples, time to play with more beer with bigger molds. I’m still digging the “head” I managed to get on the ale soaps with adding beer to soap and using a frothing mixer. I’m really loving the appearance.

I’m on batch 2 of the adoption soaps, along with a couple others, so pictures of those to come once I remember. 🙂

Slowly Sudsing

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I sorely underestimated how much effort it would take to get my business supplies re-organized and also sort through to find all of the expired ingredients.  My oh my was that an eye-watering exercise.  I honestly never knew that scents could seem  to ferment.  *laugh*  It is really nice to have an organized cabinet with a complete inventory list of what I have (I finally got smart enough to do that *rolling eyes*), and I’m about to receive an order of supplies of my best FOs to get the ball rolling again.  

 

In the meantime I’ve worked on the basics on some new recipes and am super excited to try a few out.  I’ve also been working on trying to figure out photo props and backgrounds for certain items, like Swamp Slime.  I’m not the kind of girl that has a high “ick” factor when it comes to touching things, so I don’t have gooey and gross things laying around.  I’m debating using some samples of shampoo that L will be testing for me, dyeing them neon green, and pouring some on my soap cutting mat around the finished product (or product up on a shot glass out of the much LOL), so I know I have a sterile base and he won’t care if I scoop it back up and bottle it for him.  I also can’t decide on what scent to use for “spray the bitch away”.  L came up with some fun ideas, but they were stinky, and I just don’t think that’s a real selling point unless it’s being given to the offender.  *cracking up*  I’m think of maybe something refreshing, like a light fruity scent, to cleanse the air of her existence.  *grin*  I was a little concerned at first with that duplicating a concept I had for toilet spray (you know, the spray before you go type), but then I realized having one recipe that could work for two products wasn’t actually a bad thing.  Very practical, for once.  

 

After sanitizing every item I actually got up some energy to make a gift and prepare ingredients to soap while I’m up overnight.  I’m working on a base recipe for a conditioning shampoo, so I can offer a combo of products all in the same scent (took me long enough, right?! *laugh*).  So batch 1 is a gift and so far the product itself is holding up well, but I need to see how it is in action, and I can’t condition my hair unless I want to look like I have Kid Rock’s locks within a few hours.  Meh.  *grin*  As to the soap, I have everything ready to go, except I had to wait for some beer to go flat.  So hard not to call a party foul on myself and super hard not to take a sip, but it’s my last day on my antibiotics, so I have behaved.  Just a note, a shot glass of beer going flat looks a lot like a small urine sample that got left on your kitchen counter.  It is…unsettling.  *grin*  This will be my first time soaping with a liquid ingredient outside of the soap ingredients, like glycerin, so we shall see how batch 1 of Zombie Stout soap comes out.  *nervous smile* ‘Cause, you know, it’ll either go just fine or be a spectacular disaster, since that’s the way I work.  I thought of doing a swirl soap, but I think I’m going to mostly do a naturally beer-gold base and then a separate layer of white fake foam head, although it make just end up being blobbed around into waves with a knife instead of aerating the soap, since the I’m nervous enough about the addition of liquid to the soap.  And, if I feel up to it after that, a few special soaps that are near and dear to me right now that I’ll share with pics when I can get to them.  Setting a backdrop for the pic will be the easy part of the Zombie Stout, if it works, since making product requires shot glasses and the like.  Nothing gruesome for this one, but lots of fun, gruesome ones to come, I assure you.  Mawahahaha.  😉 

One Soap Formulation Description

I thought today I’d give you a little more of a behind the scenes look at my process for a type of soap creation and also describe how I go about creating my formulas for products.

 

I seldom ever use formulas (recipes) created by others for my products, except every so often ones written by the professional soap crafter that created the wholesale supply company that I use.  It kind of ruins the creative and fun side of crafting for me.  Sometimes the epic failures are a bit overwhelming and discouraging, but most of the time that problem solving aspect spurs me on to keep going.  Probably remnants of my days as a Medical Billing Clerk and Coder, plus the HIPAA Clerk responsible for Risk Analysis.  Or maybe it goes all the way back to my love of Nancy Drew books.  *laugh* Any which way, I love the research behind creating a new formula and all of that tedious stuff that most customers never get to see.  

 

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Here I am at about 3 AM a week ago after getting all of the ingredients and tools ready, having finished my research, and written up the starting formulas for the Spoonie soaps and the Maple Bacon squares that I was considering making into embeds for the previously mentioned Grandma’s Roadkill Pie.  At the furthest back of the table is the window and wildly messy bed that one of my cats insisted on making look as bad as possible right before I took the picture.  Since I had just disinfected, I wasn’t about to touch his stuff.  *laugh* In front of that, on the right side, is all of the safety equipment, while my ingredient research book is on the left side.  From those items to me are the ingredients for my mad scientist moments.  *grin* There is vanilla stabilizer, to help keep the soaps from turning brown due to vanilla content, mica powders for coloring the soap, some color soap bars as a backup if the mica didn’t work to my satisfaction, and then the FOs I was planning on using.  

 

When I create a formula (after talking so much with the case worker for the adoption it came to my attention that really I’m performing chemistry and making math equations, and not really recipes, so I decided to go with the name for consistency sake), I start out writing down the basic ingredients that I plan to use.  So I start with how much soap base I want to work with or believe the mold may hold (that’s a fun guessing game some days *rolling eyes*; I really need to go through and just fill with water, and then make a list of each mold’s capacity, but that’d make things too easy).  I then write down which scent(s) I am using with a space for writing in the amount of FO I end up using, plus I look up and write down the government’s allowable amount of the ingredient in the base, and then I follow the same steps when I write down the stabilizer if applicable and what type of colorant I will be using.  There are a lot of scents that would be too overpowering if I used the maximum allowable, so I always write that in as I am in the creation process.  I’m not sure how they come up with a maximum allowable amount for a base, but the government has a percentage allowance for each ingredient dependent on what you’re using it in, and then I refer to a cheat sheet percentage conversion chart that lists 3% of 8 Oz equals 7 ML allowed, etc.  I also have a secondary conversion of ML to teaspoons for the micas and such.  Did I mention that periodically they love to change those allowables and so I have to go back through previously made formulas to check if they’re within the new allowable.  Sometimes I’m creating products when I really shouldn’t be because my hamster wheels aren’t quite running right in my brain and I forget to write down what mold I’m using or how many mold cavities my new formula holds.  Those can be interesting to run across when I sit down to type up everything in my computer.  *grin* 

 

Next I move on to laying out the molds and setting up all of the tools in the areas I will use them, plus getting my trusty scale out to make sure I’m going by weight instead of volume, which I learned to do after my first year of creating products and running into a problem with figuring pricing due to volume since those  weight to volume conversions don’t usually work out right.  *laugh* If I am using a scent that requires stabilizer I need to pipe in the amount of scent I want to start with and then mix in an equal amount of the stabilizer, and then thoroughly mix and let sit for at least five minutes, but no longer than fifteen, so I have a maximum of fifteen minutes for finishing prep and getting to the scenting stage when I make soap.  Thankfully it’s not an issue I deal with in any other product (mostly because scrub is all ready a mucked up color and bubble washes are used up way before a color change could ever take place, but soap color changes happen a LOT faster).  I mix the FO and stabilizer in these little shot glass sized measuring cups, and yep, it almost always looks like a frothy odd color of urine for some reason.  *laugh*

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I move on to weighing, cutting, and warming up the soap base (which was previously created in bulk), almost always in the microwave in a business dedicated measuring cup, although I also have a bulk soap heater, which is kind of like a specialty crock pot.  I like having more control over each step, and the individuality approach, so I prefer all ingredients for a soap in a single large measuring cup instead.  Although there are differing “must follow” instructions for which comes next, I then start adding color after the base has melted, and once the preferred color is reached I add the scent mixture, and stir the tarnation out of the concoction.  If the scent doesn’t seem like enough it seriously sucks, because I need to recheck the allowables, add scent into the emptied cup and then blend with stabilizer again, and try to keep the soap warm while waiting for the blending time frame to finish.  I honestly seriously suck at this part.  I almost always either warm it too much and it boils a bit (which isn’t great for the mixture and it dilutes what scent is all ready mixed in), or I get caught up in another task and the soap sets up partially in the measuring cup and it’s a pain to try to reheat that since it’s not a stage that I can cut up or remove from the cup.  I’m learning to quit trying to multitask and just mother hen during the warming process, which totally goes against my grain.  *grin*  And then I cross my fingers and add the scent blend when it’s time, hoping that it comes out smelling just right.  At times the maximum allowable just doesn’t allow for enough scent if it’s a delicate scent or one with mixed notes, while other times some scents just go funky once added to a base.  Like I said, it’s basically a chemistry experiment.  *smile* 

 

Once it’s as good as it’s going to get I pour into the mold(s) and if I have extra (what I call overpour), I hurriedly grab a random clean mold and pour the extra into that.  *laugh* Spritz the top (which is actually the bottom of the soap) with some Isopropyl Alcohol (yep, the stuff you use for antiseptic), which actually causes most, if not all, bubbles to pop and usually the smell fully dissipates.  Then I cover with wax paper, since I don’t have a separate building to be doing this and who knows what could get into the air or splatter since it’s a kitchen in a lived-in house!  And following that is the dreaded clean up process which is usually killer on my Fibro, since I’ve usually used up all of my energy on the creative part (thankfully I have help sometimes that handles that for me!  Bless you guys!).  The worst part then follows.  Waiting a day or even a few before the product sets up and I can see how it turned out.  I am so impatient with creative endeavors, plus the scent tends to fill the house, and if I created several products with varying scents, sometimes we have a headache inducing, nasty blend of smells filling our house.  *laugh*  Once set it is time for packaging, altering it as needed if being used in other ways, or bagging it up to deal with later if I’m kind of lost creatively at that point.  I can’t tell you how many bags of product I’ve had to toss that I just couldn’t figure out what to do with or wouldn’t work in the concept I had originally came up with and can’t come up with an alternative use.  People have gotten tired of my giving them these soaps, since there are usually several soaps and don’t get used up fast enough to need more soap dumped on them *grin*, and I’m in a location that isn’t that great for donating.  I’ve shipped lots of this soap to emergency areas, but can’t always afford the shipping or run out of room to hold them while waiting for a chance to donate.  The efficient and reduce/reuse/recycle side of me goes ape over this, I assure you. 

 

After this I figure up the pricing of the ingredients in the formula (subtracting the amount of overpour when I figure up the pricing, of course), add my 55% labor charge (yep, I don’t do like most people and have a markup of 100 or 200% since I want to keep the price points lower, and just mostly someday make enough money to cover the costs so that I can keep getting to be creative), and add the tax.  I hate as a consumer trying to figure up and set aside tax for a purchase, so I decided a long time ago to just add it to the product cost and then I’ll just take the extra tax needed out of my profit, if applicable, or get that tiny extra percentage added for a little more profit that I can turn around and spend on more ingredients. And then quarterly I get to pay my quarterly profit tax or notify them I had no sales for the quarter.  So. Much. Red. Tape.  Almost every stage has something I need to keep track of or watch for changes.  *laugh* 

So, in almost full detail, that’s a pretty good look at what goes on for basic mold poured soaps.  Manipulated soaps are a lot more complicated and I’ll tell you about that another day, unless someone comments that this was super boring, because I really don’t want to bore you!  I really hope that it was kind of neat to know what is going on to deserve that labor mark up.  Until tomorrow, have a warm and happy day, and don’t forget to find a few moments to pamper yourself.  You always deserve even just a few moments!

 

 

Day Two – The Monster Product Line

As you may remember from last year I made some Monster Duck soaps as well as some Zombie Bait brain soaps.  A bit gory to some, mostly just funny and interesting to most people, and really interesting to work on creating.  While I was quiet on here I thought a lot about those products and about how proud of them I am (yep, I’m mixing tenses, because I’m still incredibly proud of those little beauties and the fun photo shoots!).  I came up with several ideas of products to add in the same realm, so I decided to make an actual line for these kinds of products and allow my creativity to have full reign.  

 

A few ideas I had to throw out because they’re were too gross even for my macabre and sarcastic sense of humor, and then a few just weren’t logical enough for me to tolerate.  Which seems ironic to most people I tell that to, since it’s all about implausible things anyway.  I have no idea why, but some things have to be logical to me.  For example, I thought about making “Grandma’s Roadkill Pie” soap slices.  At first I thought of just embedding a bunch of different colored soap cubes and chunks of brain soaps, etc., but then I thought about how that would be more like a pot pie for the roadkill embeds to fit in, and all I could picture was how that first crack with your fork of the pot pie always makes the contents pour out almost like a stew inside of a crust.  That just did not work for me with having a pie slice mold and I became obsessed with how it wouldn’t be logical for the roadkill to stay in pie form.  *cracking up* As a result I went a little further down the rabbit hole and want to try formulating a “Dreadful Delights Cake” instead.  It can have things like goblin syrup, eye of bat, rotten pumpkin, and swamp scum in my small bundt cake molds.  Just like with a regular cake you have liquids and then your flour gives it a binding, cake-like texture.  I don’t have any good excuses for why that is so much more logical and reasonable to me, but my brain works in mysterious ways and that’s where it settled.  *grin*  

 

I also came up with some other concepts to play with and hopefully make some successful formulas for.  I’d like to do a Vampire-themed soap that’s black and red.  I haven’t decided if I want to swirl the colors in guest rounds or if I want to try a new technique I watched a tutorial about where you make a loaf of soap with straws making open holes through the soap that can then be filled by another color of soap and it makes a complete stripe of that color.  I could either make it look like bloody veins where a vampire’s fangs had fed, maybe even with those cheesy fake vampire teeth stuck into the soap.  Who knows where this concept will take me.  *laugh* I also want to actually make a product I thought of ages ago called Vampire Tears, which will be a red bubble wash.  I’m debating Vampire Ashes as a name for some bath salts, too, but my mind battles over which genre of vampire lore I’d go with – some depict the ashes as grey ash whereas some (albeit mostly B movies) show it as a reddish substance, which would definitely be more attractive than soaking in grey bath water.  *grin*  I have the same problem with the name/idea of “Gargoyle Dust” salts due to the whole dirty water look.  It might work for a new formulation of the mechanic soap that’s less abrasive.  Rotten Sweets will probably be mini bundt cakes in chocolate for the cake and either cherry or strawberry FO drizzled over as blood or some other gore.  I think I’ll let the drizzle be an unshaped pour, too, instead of having shaped pooling at the base like I did for the brains and ducks.  Partially because shaping hot soap really hurts and I try to limit how often I purposely do stupid things to myself.  *laugh*

A few other product names I am playing with and need to develop some product concepts for are “Deathly Morsels”, “Devilish Delights”, “Swamp Ooze” (or Scum) for a bubble wash probably, “Zombie Stout” (a colored bubble wash using the Ale FO and it even calls for using stale beer in it that theoretically has the liquor part burn off during the heating phase – that’ll be an interesting experiment I suspect!), and some version of a Zombie Repellent, although I need a different name for that, since I found an actual soap made by a crafter named that, so I need to play with the name because I’m not giving up on that one because I love the concept.  I’m also wondering if a “virus” or “zombie” combo would be of interest to customers.  I personally would be incredibly amused to get a basket with that type of theme, but, then again, I’m not the normal kind of girl, as we know.  *laugh* I’m also debating if Zombie Boogers bath salts or bubble wash is too gross or just gross enough that it would really appeal to kids, and in honor of the pride of Kansas, I want to make a product named “Melted Witch”.  *grin*  The great thing with the monster line is that I can have all of these wild things and use any scent that I fancy, instead of actually trying to make a logical connection, like if it’s red people expect a red fruit or a rose scent, etc.  Monsters are a free zone of creativity.  Mawahahaha

 

I’d love to hear any of your ideas or even creative criticisms if you have some. Do you have a name that you think would make a fun addition?  Have any ideas of tweaks on the names I’m toying with?  Or even what kind of product to match to some of these names maybe?  I think it would be a lot of fun to try to make some products inspired by readers, so please bring them on…*in a fake, deep, creepy voice* if you dare…

😉 

Big Changes

All sorts of fun things are happening that I want to share with you.  First off, I’m not starting at the right time, but I’m going to try to do the month of daily blogging challenge again.  Settle in for a wild month!  Kind of like that famous box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.  *grin*

Second, my website is under construction and will be for a bit longer.  Some is pretty familiar, but I’ve specifically developed a Monster theme line and a Whimsical line, and that’s going to be a main focus for now in my creating, as well.  For some reason that’s what inspires my creativity right now and I’m really excited about them.  So, my overall theme is no longer about pampering with natural benefits; more like making your bath and body routines a little more fun with some creative products.  I haven’t really decided on a tag line yet, honestly.  I also seriously overhauled the shopping content on the site.  It’ll now feature products I have on hand, in my featured themes, or my best sellers.  I’ll give a scent, a price, a description, and it won’t be so complicated anymore with so many options.  I’ll totally welcome custom requests, as always, and will make most of my older products if requested, but there won’t be long pages of scents to choose from anymore or the kind of build your desired product concept.  I’m really liking the organization and streamlining of the site so far, although there are a lot more pages than there used to be.  We all know that I’m obsessed with organization, so I’m totally fine with having a lot more organization!  So if you are interested in ordering anything while the site is in disarray, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll get the information to you, I promise.

Next, I am going to have guest bloggers!  I’ll introduce them soon and give an idea of what their focuses will be, but it’ll diversify the blog content, hopefully help some readers in ways I definitely am not educated in or good at, and also help prevent some of these spans of silence.  We’re hoping our adoption process will progress further soon, so I may have all of my attention focused completely away from my business and blog.  The other ladies will keep things running and interesting.  I’m also facing the possibility of a couple of surgeries this year, so it’ll be a relief to know I have some pinch hitters when I’m bed bound and cranky.  *grin*

Also, I’m going to blog a lot more about my personal life instead of the crazy creation process and epic failures.  Expect some information about adopting that I’ve learned, so it’s out there for people looking for reliable information about adopting teens.  A lot of the research and information we went off of in the first half of our process was all completely inaccurate.  It really lit a fire inside of me to provide a resource for people considering adoption and hopefully even raise awareness of the need for people to adopt teens and youths instead of focusing on infants and toddlers.  You can also expect a lot more tidbits about my Second Life (SL), which is an online community I’ve been a part of for a decade now.  Some will just be my fun adventures, or adventures of those close to me in SL, and some will be helpful resources for SL avatars like free items or where to access some fantastic tutorials.

Basically, it’s going to be Whatever Wednesday any day of the week from now on.  *laugh* I’m excited to add some new dimension to the blog and new insight into my life, especially with my journey of changing my perspective of losing my former life due to disability and instead gaining a new version of life with new abilities.  I’ve struggled a lot in the past year with my health and an unhealthy perspective about it, focusing on the limitations and losses, and hopefully I can help a few others in their changed journey in life.  In one post you’ll even get to see my attempts at making Spoonie soaps (Spoonies is a name used for those that suffer chronic illnesses with a lot of fatigue.  If you’d like a great explanation of the theory, please read this wonderfully written description.).  

So that’s the big update with lots of info that I probably should have broken up to use for several days of posts, but I want to share all of the big stuff together first.  Until tomorrow…happy pampering! 🙂

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