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My helper’s first visit and Lumps of Coal

The beautiful Miss Ashlee came over after school (middle school) last Thursday to start helping me out on little business tasks.  I wasn’t really feeling up to making anything and wanted to utilize the chance to get as many opinions for kid options as possible, so we spent the 1 1/2 hours just talking and smelling FOs.  We went through things I had made and was in the process of making, through a mail order catalog with kid friendly items that I was considering ordering from to supplement my items in baskets for various age ranges. 

The first thing I figured out was that Ash must really be into penguins right now.  *grin*  Either that, or I really need to invest in all penguin based toys, because I’m gonna get rich!  lol  I noticed that she pointed out every penguin item in the catalog as being perfect for kids.  It helped me develop the idea of color themed baskets, like all black and white products and toys like penguins, but I really doubt that penguins are quite that popular.  lol  Also, I can totally see her identifying toy musical items like kazoos as an easy little basket stuffer, but I thought about it and will not be ordering those.  *grin*  I sat there while she looked through the trinket pages and decided to run through the scenario.  If I gave a basket to Ash’s little brother, or even her, with noisy items, their mom would probably want a lot less to do with me.  Therefore, I think the parents of any prospective basket recipients would thoroughly hate my little business.  *small laugh*  I learned that pretty much anything in the catalog would be perfect, so I think I’m on the right track of thinking.  When in doubt I will ask my friends that are mothers to see how they would react to the basket.

Probably the most important thing that I learned was to not worry about being a perfectionist with the kid products.  I showed her the lump of coal soaps, which she inspected and thoroughly delighted in the smell of, and asked her if received it would it look enough like coal to be believable.  She looked down at me (yeah, almost a third of my age and she’s taller…*sigh*) and said, “If your package says that it’s coal soap, kids will just believe that’s what it is.  Kids believe whatever things say they are.”  Cue the cartoon light bulb over my lab coat and glasses clad cartoon character.  One, they don’t really know what coal is these days, and two, they don’t care.  It smells good and isn’t the boring stuff Mom keeps in the dish, so I’m in the clear.  Oh yeah, I did a happy dance after her mom picked her up.  *grin* 

The most heartwarming moment was when her mom showed up and Ash asked her if Ash was free after school on Monday, so she could come back.  *cheesy smile and hunched shoulders*  When that didn’t work she started running the days of the week, so I jumped in and said that we’d coordinate schedules, which looks like maybe each Thursday for awhile.  It meant the world to me that she wanted to come back on her own (we are a group of friends who usually have full family get togethers as time permits, so this was totally new for a child to be at any of the other homes without the rest of the caboodle) and that I had inspired her.  I’ve tried through the years to always encourage her interests, most especially art in the past year.  My parents raised me with a real appreciation for art and literature (you can blame them for training me for being a nerd), and if I see that interest in a child, especially one that may not get as much individualized cultivation of that interest as I did, I do everything that I can to help.  Anyway, she now is also interested in science, so she is super interested in how bath products are created.  Part of it is this amazement that anyone can make daily products, not just some mysterious big manufacturer.  It’s sad that crafts that were such a daily activity for hundreds of years are now a novelty and so mind boggling, but I won’t climb on the proverbial soap box.  *wink*  I realized that my interest in naturally beneficial products is a great way for her to get some hands on understanding of chemistry, artistry, and nature.  It’s pretty awesome that I have someone to share in the awe and delight of my hobby. 

I had lots to think about and decided the next day to start making a lot of the lump of coal soaps.  I’m not really sure where I went wrong in multiplying the recipe (I have a newfound appreciation for mathmeticians since my condition has screwed up my abilities apparently), but the soaps turned out navy blue, but I didn’t know this until yesterday, since the wet soap was just really dark and I thought it was black.  I’ll cut, melt, dye, and repour all of them soon, but while they started to set I had another light bulb moment.  I was working with the happiness that the kids would not question if the soap looked like coal, but still wanted something a little better to sell.  It dawned on me that if I used a fork to push the dried “skin” into the soaps it would give some internal texture and ruin that glossy perfection on the backs of the soaps (the irony is that I seldom can ever get regular soaps that perfect lol).  I learned while experimenting that just running the fork through the soap blended the skin and helped to melt it in the warmer liquid centers.  So I totally went into Psycho mode and just stabbed multiple spots in each square with the fork.  *grin*  Hey, I might not be able to do a lot, so I make sure what I do is thoroughly interesting or amusing.  lol  When I unmolded the soaps it really had helped and I could see a major difference between the two techniques.  When I repour I will do the stabbing technique again once it resets, trying to get to what would be the tops of the soaps, so that it is textured and interesting through the entire soap.  I’m pretty tickled that I have a pretty easy remedy to please the perfectionist in me just enough while also taking full advantage of no longer worrying about it if it doesn’t turn out like I hope.  I’ll post at least one pic of the first successful batch (worded in such a way because I’m not totally confident that I’ll be able to get the color right during the repour lol).  I am so relieved and excited!!

By the way, the sugar scrub is still getting firmer.  *cracking up*  I used it again today, which was an incredibly gentle and awesome exfoliation, and as I tried to scoop some out it became more of a prying action.  I’m pretty happy with it still, but think there will be a second version in the works with more glycerin and definitely not additional sugar if the mixture seems thin!  I hope you all have a great one and aren’t too upset by the length of the recent posts.

Epic Failure

I did two experimental pours of the lump of coal soaps. I did a clear base and a .25 oz white base in 2 oz of clear, to make it a little solid. It gives a neat look to the soap when mixed and has a better gloss than solid white base in my opinion. Anyway, like I mentioned in a previous post, I put the play doh in varying spots in the ghost molds to keep the soaps from looking the same and to keep the pumpkin design covered. I did the two pours and let them set. When I removed them from the molds the play doh was still gooey. (Usually it dries out really quickly and I use it for a stopper if I have a lollipop mold that I’m using for soaps.) The moisture of the soap rehydrated the play doh. Lesson learned! Anyway, I worked on removing the slimy play doh and it has left the weirdest texture behind. The second part that makes this an epic failure is that after 26 drops of black dye I only managed to get the soaps to grey. *pouting* Usually I only add like 3 drops of dye to 2 oz of base! The clear soaps took the color better, but it is still a dark grey. *sigh* If I put more dye, I run the risk of the color bleeding onto any surface once wet or even dying the skin of the user. I’m chalking this round up as a loss, since I could never sell them with the possibility of color bleeding and knowing the gross residue/texture that was left behind. Back to the drawing board. I think I’ll omit the play doh, but still use the ghost mold. I’ll do the pours and then whittle on each soap with my Xacto knife, to make each one unique and resemble coal a little better (it’s soap, so I’m not going to try to get too realistic). I’m just not sure about the dye issue. I suppose I’ll have to mix some colors to add to the black. I’d like to do the quarter white base, but white bases make colors soften into pastels, which still happened with the black in such a small amount of white.

Thankfully the scent is good, though. A strong licorice with just a hint of something else. It’s hard to distinguish, even for me, that there is vanilla in it. You can pick up just a slight different note though.

Lots of work still to do, but at least I learned a few new lessons. It’s still a disappointment and adds some stress, since I wanted some ready for the event at the end of the month. I think I’ll just make sure I make some easier products, like ones I’ve made recipes for and tested, to have on hand.

I’m off to package the last of the cancer ribbon soaps. *happy dance* Have a great day!


I had a really cruddy day Wednesday, so as a treat for surviving I got to go to the candy making supply store in Topeka.  I absolutely love looking at candy/chocolate molds.  There are so many possibilities that clutter my mind, since they’re made to stand up to higher heat, so I can use them for soap making.  I found an awesome website with thousands of molds, but I like being an informed buyer.  *grin*  I want to personally look at and touch molds.  I guess I’m like a shoe or purse shopper, but a little quirkier.  When looking at a wholesale website, it’s really hard to get an idea of what the soap would really look like and I seriously bite when it comes to dimensions.  I may have done great in school, but I still have no idea how I passed the measurements portion of school.  *rolling eyes with a sigh*  Anyway…

I’m happily twirling the racks, filing in my mind a few to get later on for holidays and what have you.  Suddenly I see this incredibly odd-shaped mold.  It has a really deep impression for each candy and as I lean over to look closer at it, I realize that the odd shape will work perfectly for the lump of coal soaps!  I’m so insanely excited over little things, I tell you.  I finally get a good look at it and it’s a mold for really cute 3D ghosts.  The little guy is holding a pumpkin and in full boo mode.  *grin*  Really cute and I can so use it for Halloween, so I have a few options available at my booth in a few weeks.  I think that if I put a little dot of playdoh over the pumpkin part and some other random ones, the soaps will be very oddly shaped, and be a lot closer to a rock shape than I otherwise probably would have been able to do with just a flat pour and breaking.  I can’t express just how excited I am over this mold!  I haven’t been feeling the greatest, so they’re going to have to sit on the back burner, but I’m just tickled that I found a mold that I can use.  It is so much easier to use a mold than try to break MP soap into pretty anything but slivers.

I also got two more small cancer ribbon molds, so that when I feel up to making stuff for the event in a few weeks, I can do thirty at a time.  I got all wound up Thursday afternoon and set out supplies, heated up the base, added the goodies, and then went to pour…um, the new molds are maybe half as deep as the original mold.  *sigh*  Remember, I suck at dimensions…*rolling eyes*  The nice thing is that one batch pour nearly filled both of the new molds and I’ll have a cheaper alternative as well (not that the others are expensive in bulk, really).  At least I’ll get a lot of them made pretty quickly.

I also found some Christmas molds I had bought on sale years ago (I’m a sucker for a sale, let me tell you) and tucked away.  Cute little ornaments, reindeer, and the like.  I think I’ll have some cute stocking stuffers and guest soaps available this year.  *big grin*  I think Christmas has the cutest options available.  I have a few larger molds, but I think I’ll do more of the small ones for my first official holiday season. 

Making bath products is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done.  When I walk through a store or flip through a catalog, I always see something that I can repurpose to use in my business.  I’ve even found some silicone ice trays at Dollar Tree that will be perfect for soaps.  I’m in awe of the crafters that make their own molds, since that’s a lot of work and totally cool, but whenever I’m tempted to hit the “add to cart” beside a starter kit, I think about all those easy options that I would never have thought of on my own, and skip it.  So when the next year’s city-wide garage sales start back up, I’ll be there with a new purpose.  *grin*  Repurposing!

Today’s delivery

It’s always like Christmas when I get my supply deliveries.  Today was no exception, although maybe a little more exciting than usual since I also got some stuff for a few booth events (I’ll discuss later).  Anyway, the best part, well second best part since the very best is getting to dig through the packaging to find the new items, is getting to sniff the new fragrances and let the ideas start flying around in my brain. 

Lump of Coal turned out to be a very fun scent!  I admit to being a little surprised that the Tahitian Vanilla is a very light note and very hard to discern when first sniffing.  I may have to play with adding some other vanilla to see what I come up with, but it has a very nice licorice scent.  It’s not the strong scent of anise, so that makes it a little more child-friendly I think. 

I found that the Naughty or Nice FO is incredibly complex and I’ll have to experiment with it to see if I truly like it.  *grin* I’m not usually on the fence with scents, but that one is so complex that I don’t know what to make of it.  I have my product information sheet that tells what the notes are and what have you, but I prefer not to look at it, honestly.  I think it’ll be a great heavy note in some baking scents, since I get the dark note of clove, but the other spices are so well blended that it’s hard to pick them apart.  It may be a good addition to the pumpkin FO. 

My customer loyalty sample of Root beer Float FO isn’t quite what I expected.  Root beer itself has a licorice undertone, but it is a little stronger in this FO.  I’ll add it to some base and see how it changes, then let you know.  *smile*

Sex in the Shower FO truly does smell like fruit punch!!  I want to come up with a child friendly name too, so please leave ideas in the comments if you have any!  *grin*  Or even if you just have some ideas and we’ll find FOs to match the ideas.  I had some fun ideas, but they were a little misleading, so I discarded them.  The scent is so nostalgic and fun!  I love the adult name though.  Catches your eye, doesn’t it? lol  I’m so using the FO’s name!

The Maraschino Cherry FO is absolutely divine.  *sigh* It will add such an awesome note to some other fragrances!  It is the best cherry scent I have ever smelled.  I’m so excited to try it out and really hope that the scent does not change in product.  I think that it’ll make a very sexy body/massage oil too. *sassy grin*

I also got Santa’s Tree Farm FO.  It is definitely more of an evergreen.  I’m glad that I have some empty amber bottles, because I really look forward to blending this one.  I want to try blending it with Christmas Wreath and maybe a few spice scents.  Christmas in a bottle, basically.

I couldn’t resist getting a massive bottle of Bubblegum FO too.  I’ve used almost half of my first bottle all ready. 

To top it off, I got several ingredients for some acne facial remedies that I’m going to work on, a gallon jug of shampoo base, and the cutest little spatulas for people to use to sample when I have events.  They’re these tiny, adorable little black spatulas.  Of course, the picture made them seem a lot bigger.  I guess I really need to read dimensions a lot more. *grin* I know I have fat fingers, but these cute guys make me feel like a giant! 

Today I need to focus on court stuff, but I have to say that I always itch to drag out my supplies and play mad scientist when I get new stuff.  *grin* My app will get a lot more ideas typed into it today, I bet.

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