The Week in Soap: 19th March ’17

I missed last week’s weekly update completely, so¬†this is me, trying to do better ūüėÄ

It’s been another busy week. ¬†I dispatched boxes of soap to not one but two new wholesale customers and delivered another order to a more local ‘new yet old’ customer. ¬†More on them all in a ‘Stockists’ update coming next week.

My new, double batch system of soapmaking is working really well. ¬†Last week I made soap on Tuesday evening last night, Sunday, making 8 batches, or 120 bars in all. This my absolute minimum for a week, and I’m still struggling to get stock levels back up to where I’m comfortable:

Scrubby Peppermint & Bewitched

Scrubby Peppermint & Bewitched

Luscious Lavender & Clarity

Luscious Lavender & Clarity

The lucky winner ¬†of the Facebook giveaway was announced earlier on this evening. I was overwhelmed by the number of entries and the lovely comments left on the page. ¬†I’ll be running another giveway at some point, so make sure you like and follow the page if you’d like to win some of my soap.

This was my most popular post on Instagram this week, with a whopping 473 likes. We got a bit of sunshine on Wednesday, so I took full advantage. ¬†It’s rained almost non-stop ever since ūüė¶

Welsh Rose in the sun

Welsh Rose in the sun

On Saturday I spent all day in the office wrapping and labelling while my other half took care of the kids, so today was more of a family day, though I did manage to fit in a 5km run. (we’re not having February happen all over again, ohhhhh no!!) ¬†This evening I cooked a traditional roast dinner, including Yorkshire puddings. I’m kind of proud of my Yorkshires, but I’m guessing they’re not eaten (or even known about?) much outside of the UK so I thought I’d share a quick snap:

Yorkshire Puddings

Yorkshire Puddings

They are, I promise you, delicious, and if anyone wants to know how I make them (and my recipe method will give you perfect ones EVERY TIME) then just let me know and I’ll happily share ūüėÄ

Coming up next week I will (of course!) be making more soap, and testing and reporting on the Castile I made a couple of months ago. I need to write a new ‘Stockists’ post as there are now a few more on the list, and I also have the first craft fair of the year coming up next Saturday, so bathbomb labelling needs to be a priority. ¬†Add into the mix my first ever kickboxing grading on Monday evening (the next time I post, I may well be a Yellow Belt – eek!!), and a pre-school committee meeting on Tuesday evening, and suddenly the week doesn’t feel so long arrgghhhhh!!!

Thanks for reading, back soon!!

Friday Favourite: OMG Serum by LJ Natural

Way back at the end of January I was lucky enough to win a prize draw run by Lisa of LJ Naturals.  Lisa makes handmade, organic beauty products and the draw (run on her Facebook page) was to win this lovely lot of goodies:

OMG Serum plus mini products

OMG Serum plus mini products

The prize comprised of mini Organic Deep Cleansing Balm, mini Organic Moisturiser, mini Organic Scratchy Balm and the star of the show (for me), a full sized (30ml) OMG (Organic Miracle Goddess) Serum.

Now, a bit of background. During my teens and twenties, I suffered (first world problems!) from fairly oily skin. Spots were common, and the battle against ‘shine’ was constant. ¬†During that period of my life I would have recoiled in horror at the thought of putting oil of any type on my face, but at some point during my thirties that’s exactly what I did. I was persuaded to try an expensive, fancy facial oil by a very convincing sales assistant in some smart department store. I kinda liked it. ¬†I was surprised by how good it felt on my skin (which by this point had edged towards the middle of the skin spectrum, and was probably kind of ‘normal’). But for some reason I never finished that bottle. Guess I didn’t like it that much eh?

These days I think I’m reaping the benefits of that oily skin early on as I have relatively few wrinkles for my age (though looking at my mum, genetics have played a part in that too). But, now that I’m in my mid *cough cough* forties, I definitely feel that my skin needs a little extra help. ¬†I’ve used the same popular, mass produced day moisturiser for a few years, but rarely get around to using any night time products as, to be honest, I don’t really have a night time routine other than a quick wipe over with one of those cheap facial cleansing wipe type things <Blush> (To be honest, my regular morning routine isn’t generally any better – I use a facial wash in the shower, then apply, without fail, a slather of moisturiser).

All this preamble is my way¬†of saying that until recently I didn’t really ‘do’ skincare products, and was unconvinced as to their efficacy. Well that sure has¬†changed. And¬†what was it that changed my mind I hear you ask? If you guessed it was one of Lisa’s products, you’d be right. ¬†I have fallen utterly and totally in love with her OMG Serum.

OMG Serum is made from a careful blend of 7 natural oils and butters, and fragranced with nothing more than pure essential oils. ¬†That’s it. It’s 100% natural and 99% organic. ¬†It’s supplied in an airless pump, which makes dispensing completely mess / spill free, and removes the need for an added preservative (as bacteria cannot transfer from hands to the product).

When I first started using the serum, about 6 weeks ago, I used one single pump worth, once a day. ¬†It (unsurprisingly!) has an oily texture as it goes on, gliding silkily over, and into, the skin. For that reason, in the early days, I tended to avoid using it in the morning as I wasn’t too sure how my tinted BB cream (I don’t use foundation) would fare on top of it. ¬†However, a couple of weeks in, I realised that the serum was absoutely not sitting on the surface of the skin. It was being completely absorbed, leaving no trace of ‘shine’ on my face. ¬†This was ¬†a revelation. I tried applying my BB cream about 10/15 mins after applying the serum. ¬†Still no shine. Happy days! Since then I’ve been using it after my shower/facial wash routine every morning.

I cannot overstate how good my skin feels these days. ¬†It’s perfectly moisturised all day¬†(I don’t use the mass produced moisturiser any more) and looks healthier, plumper, softer, more elastic. ¬†This morning, I applied the serum (two pumps a time these days folks, just because…), waited 15 mins, brushed on the teeniest bit of transluscent powder, and off I went. ¬†That’s how good my skin is these days.

Let’s talk hard figures. ¬†OMG Serum retails on Lisa’s website for ¬£17.95 for 30ml, and should be used within 6 months of opening. ¬†I reckon I’ve used about 1/8 of it so far, but of course I’m using much more of it now than I was in the beginning, so I reckon there may well be about 6 months worth in there. ¬†If there’s less, it won’t be much less, and if there’s more, well I’ve never worried TOO much about use by dates, so if it lasts me 7-8 months, I won’t worry too much about it. ¬†So assuming one uses approximately two 30ml containers a year, that’s ¬†¬£35.90 a year for the most amazing results – an absolute snip! ¬†(And I just checked – that fancy pants facial oil that I tried years back? Retails for ¬£33 for 30ml today, and it’s nowhere near as good, take my word).

For those cynics out there (I know you’re there, I’m one myself :-D) please be aware that although I didn’t pay for this product, I won it fair and square in a prize draw (check out the post on the 31st Jan on her FB page) and at no point has Lisa asked for my opinion on it, or asked me write a review. ¬†I’m simply a total convert, and will be buying more when the time comes.

If you’d like to know more about the OMG Serum you’ll find it here on the¬†LJ Natural website.

You can follow LJ Naturals on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you Lisa for an amazing prize! ¬†Oh, and I nearly forgot, the mini samples were fab too, but as you already know, I’m a bit crap with the whole cleanser / toner routine <blush again>.

It’s Competition Time Again

It got to Monday evening of this week before I even realised that I hadn’t written my weekly round up. It’s been incredibly busy again, lots of making and wrapping and dispatching, but nothing really new, so I’ll catch up next Sunday. ¬†I’ve also got loads of different draft posts lined up, but am struggling to find the time to write them up properly. Ah well, first world problems…

In the meantime I’m running a prize draw all this week on my Facebook page. This is how it works: I post one photo a day for five days, Monday through to Friday, and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning any FIVE different bars of luxury essential oil soap is to like the page, then like and comment on each of the five photos in the draw. ¬†This is where we’re up to so far:

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Clarity (Lemongrass & Clary Sage)

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)

Botanica (Lavender, Lemon & Lime)

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

Serenity (Ylang ylang, Patchouli, Lemon & Orange

It doesn’t matter at all that we’re halfway through the week already, you can add likes and comments at any point up to Sunday, 19th March at 7pm GMT.

The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening from all those who have liked the page and liked and commented on each of the five prize draw photographs.

The draw is open worldwide, and I’ll even cover postage costs, but you’ve got to be in it to win it, so what are you waiting for? ūüėÄ ¬†www.facebook.com/TheSoapMine¬†

Good luck!!

 

Teisen Gri – Traditional Welsh Cakes – A Recipe

Teisen Gri (literally translated – Griddle Cakes) are traditional Welsh cakes that we make and enjoy all year, and especially around the 1st March when we celebrate St David’s Day (the patron saint of Wales). ¬†Last week I took a break from soaping and made (another) batch of deliciousness…

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

They’re similar to a fruit scone, but flatter and cooked on a griddle over direct heat. Traditionally they’re dusted with caster sugar after cooking, but I usually skip that step. They are honestly utterly delicious – perfect to have with a cup of tea, and they’ll keep a good few days in an airtight container. They don’t tend to last that long in our house though! I¬†posted the above picture on the blog a while back, and I’ve been asked a couple of times since for the recipe, so here goes. This recipe makes 20 – 30 Teisen Gri, depending on the size of the cutter you use.

Ingredients:

  • 225g salted butter (lard is a traditional alternative – I always use butter)
  • 450g self raising flour
  • 0.5tsp mixed powdered spice
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 170g mixed dried fruit ¬†(currants are traditionally used)
  • 2 eggs

Method:

  1. Rub together the flour and the butter until they are the consistency of breadcrumbs. I usually do mine in a food processor:
Flour & Butter

Flour & Butter

2. Mix in the mixed spices, sugar and the mixed fruit:

Don’t forget the mixed spices – makes a huge difference to the final flavour

Sugar

Sugar

Mixed Fruit

Mixed Fruit

3. Add the two eggs and mix:

Add the eggs

Add the eggs

Mixed

Mix

4. Bring it all together on a floured surface, adding a little more flour IF it feels too sticky to roll out:

Dough ready to roll

Dough ready to roll

5. Roll out the dough to about 0.75cm. ¬†Many recipes say 1cm thickness, and while personally I find this a little too thick, it’s trial and error to find what suits you. I neglected to take a photo of this stage – sorry!

6. Cut out rounds using a fluted scone cutter, and place on a pre-heated griddle. Don’t grease the griddle – dry is best. ¬†A thick bottomed frying pan would work if you don’t have a griddle:

Cooking on the griddle

Cooking on the griddle

7. After a couple of minutes, when the underside has developed a nice dark colour (some of these below should really have been darker) flip over and cook on the other side:

Flip

Flip

8. Once they’re cooked and nicely browned on both sides, place on a cooling tray and, if desired, dredge with castor sugar. ¬†Enjoy hot or cold, with or without butter.

I’ll be back on topic with my next post, but even soapers have to eat eh? Let me know if you give these a try (and what you think of them!!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week in Soap: 5th March ‚Äô17

I got back into the swing of making soap this week. Having¬†realised that I need to be making far more to keep up with demand, a new process was required. ¬†¬† Previously I would usually make three different batches during an evening’s soaping, once a week, but the new routine is four batches a night, twice a week. By doubling up the batches – ie making two lots of two fragrances, rather than three lots of one, I find I can make the four batches as quickly as three, if not faster.

Wednesday was the first day of the new regime – two lots of Welsh Rose and two lots of Bewitched on the cards. ¬†But, wouldn’t you know it, I ran out of lye. Arghhhh – I felt sure I had a second tub but nope… ¬†Nevermind, I had enough for three batches: two Bewitched and one Welsh Rose:

2 Bewitched, 1 Welsh Rose

Two Bewitched, One Welsh Rose

More lye was ordered and arrived within 48 hours, so I was able to make more today – two lots of Oatmeal, Milk & Honey and two of Blodau (Flowers):

2 OMH & 2 Blodau

Two OMH & Two Blodau (Flowers)

I clearly need to have a better handle on inventory. ¬†I do have have the Soapmaker 3 program, which comes highly recommended, but haven’t got round to using it yet. :-/ Maybe that should be one of April’s goals.

This week I also delivered another couple of batches of ‘Ar Lan y Mor’ (By the Sea) and Potters’ Soap – exclusive fragrances/designs for Glosters in Porthmadog:

Ar Lan y Mor / Potters' Soap

Ar Lan y Mor / Potters’ Soap

I also finished off wrapping and packaging the mini guest bars for Plas Colwyn Guest House right here in the village – these are just a small selection of them:

Mini Guest Bars

Mini Guest Bars

We celebrated St David’s Day on Wednesday, and as is traditional, I made up a big batch of Teisen Gri (Welsh Cakes) for the village school show.

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

I’ve been asked again to share the recipe, so I’m planning on getting that written up this week and posted here on the blog.

This is my little three year¬†old in her traditional ‘welsh lady’ costume, singing her heart out at the front of the stage. She’s normally pretty shy, so it was wonderful to see her enjoying her moment in the limelight…

Little Welsh Lady

Little Welsh Lady

 

I also managed to get out for ONE run this week – 5km on Friday morning. If you saw the post about my goals for March, you’ll know that I want to run at least 30km this month. Easily doable, IF I can get my running mojo back where it was in January. Throw some motivation my way?

 

The Sad Story of February’s Goals…

Remember a month ago when I posted about my success regarding¬†January’s goals?¬†It had been a good month but, was I too full of hubris? Was I perhaps a little smug? Were February’s goals desperately ambitious and unattainable? I can only assume so because, my friends, February was a washout. Suddenly (seriously, without warning :-D) the end of the month arrived and was devoid of goal success.

So, here’s how bad it was:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet. ¬†Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‚Äėmust have‚Äô. Oops¬†Still need to do this asap
  • Make a test batch of facial soap Oops¬†Still want to do this asap
  • Make 3 Spring Special soaps Oops¬†Have decided against this – I’m struggling to keep up with the core range at the moment
  • Post 8 times on the blog ¬†Oops Only 6 posts in February ūüė¶

The personal goals weren’t much better. I was aiming to run 50km during February, and actually managed *ahem* 12km. ¬†I seriously lost my running mojo very early in the month. ¬†I’ve missed it though, and have arranged to go with a friend tomorrow morning, so hopefully I’ll get back into it soon enough. ¬†I also wanted to read more. Well, I have read¬†more,¬†but still not a whole book, so back to the drawing board with that one too. ¬†Lastly, I wanted to do some baking. ¬†Well that much I did do. I make a rather lovely Victoria sponge (but rubbish photograph) for my mum’s birthday, and a couple of batches of Welsh Cakes (which I’m going to post about very soon!)

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

So, a couple of small wins in a big sea of fails¬†un-met challenges ūüėÄ

I’m not, however, despondent. By no means. ¬†I’ve been ridiculously busy during February. ¬†I’ve taken on two new BIG wholesale customers, and I’ve been snowed under with making, wrapping and labelling. ¬†It’s all good stuff, but it does feel like I’m running to stay still, so I firmly believe that goals are still a good and necessary thing, helping to keep me challenged and moving forward. ¬†To that end, I’m going to reset last months business goals, excluding the one about Spring specials:

  • Create a wholesale Line Sheet. ¬†Wholesale enquiries are increasing and this is a high priority ‚Äėmust have‚Äô. ASAP‚Ķ
  • Make a test batch of facial soap
  • Post 8 times on the blog

And as far as personal goals go, I’m going back to basics – run 30km and read a book. That’s it. ¬†I’m taking part in a Library Bingo Challenge which is encouraging me to get to the library more often, and which might motivate me to find the time to read more often, but I’ll post about that another time.

Wish me luck! I’ll be back soon – I will smash that ‘8 post goal’ this month LOL

 

A Belated ‘Week in Soap’ – Tutti Frutti Cut…

I almost didn’t post a weekly update this week as it’s been a strange one, work-wise. The children have been off school for half term, and although the youngest only goes for two hours a day, I’ve still missed that time to ‘get stuff done’. Days have been spent entertaining the children, and evenings have been mostly spent wrapping and labelling for a couple of BIG wholesale orders I have going out this week. ¬†Then we had a weekend away visiting family, so I have very to share on the soapy front.

But then I remembered that I needed to show you the cut of the Tutti Frutti that I made last week:

Tutti Frutti - freshly cut

Tutti Frutti – freshly cut

Coloured with micas from U-Makeitup and Happy Olive, they didn’t let me down ūüôā

The children start back at school tomorrow, so I’m hoping this coming week will be far more productive on the soaping front, and keep an eye out for my February update coming up in the next couple of days.