Slow Down World! The Week in Soap: 18th June ’17

It’s been a crazily busy week. And it’s not letting up, hence why I’m starting to write this at two minutes to eleven at night when I really should be going to bed! ¬†It’s going to be short ūüėČ

Monday evening saw me out at a community meeting, so I couldn’t get any soapmaking done, and then Tuesday night was kickboxing grading night.

I got my orange belt – woop!

An Orange Belfie

An Orange Belfie

Wednesday night was kickboxing class followed by my weekly soaping presentation, but I did get the opportunity during the day to cut the Welsh Rose and Yr Wyddfa that I made last week:

Welsh Rose

Welsh Rose, freshly cut

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa, freshly cut

Thursday night I had to spend catching up on paperwork and then finally, on Friday night, I managed to make something Р a shed load of bathbombs for a wholesale order going out next week.

Luscious Lavender Luxury Bath Bomb

Luscious Lavender Luxury Bath Bomb

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Luxury Bath Bomb

Oatmeal, Milk & Honey Luxury Bath Bomb

Serenity Luxury Bath Bomb

Serenity Luxury Bath Bomb

Bewitched Luxury Bath Bomb

Bewitched Luxury Bath Bomb

On Saturday, Dean took the kids out for a few hours and I finally got to make some soap – two exclusive custom batches for a local retailer. ¬†I LOVE making these two. The customer chose the fragrances and concept for them both, and they’re different in design to my regular restocks so I get to do something a little more interesting.

Potters' Soap

Potters’ Soap for Glosters

Ar Lan Y Mor

Ar Lan Y Mor for Glosters

Saturday night we were invited to some friends’ house for dinner (I always try to take Saturday night off, regardless of what else is going on) and the Sunday was Fathers’ Day, so we all went out for breakfast and spent the day together.

Sunday night I made the rest of the bathbombs for the wholesale order – phew!!

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

Welsh Rose Luxury Bath Bomb

First Kiss Luxury Bath Bomb

First Kiss Luxury Bath Bomb

Clarity Luxury Bath Bomb

Clarity Luxury Bath Bomb

Now to get them all wrapped for delivery on Friday!!

So although I’ve not been particularly productive this week, it has felt extraordinarily busy – I hope your week has been calmer. If it has, send some my way please?!

Thanks for reading, back soon.

 

 

 

Bathbombs and Specials – The Week in Soap: 11th June ’17

I don’t know what the weather’s been like with you, but it’s been absolutely atrocious here this last week. ¬†Rain, rain and more rain. ¬†It’s beyond the pale, it really is. ¬†I keep hearing people referring to that lovely warm spell we had in May and saying that that was our summer – it’s all over now. Arrrghhhh please, no!! ¬†Despite living in one of the wettest areas in the UK (and loving it) I adore the sunshine. ¬†It brings out my freckles and a sunny disposition that, to be honest, doesn’t often get an airing ūüėÄ

Anyway, come rain or shine, there’s always something that needs to be done in the soap kitchen, so I’ll crack on and update you quickly on what’s been happening this week. ¬†Four double batches of soap were made: Clarity and Lemon Verbena Confetti (one of the summer specials):

Clarity & Lemon Verbena in the Mould

Clarity & Lemon Verbena in the Mould

Incidentally, remember the last batch of Lemon Verbena Confetti that featured in the post about Fragrance Oils going rogue? Well I received loads of tips about more things to try to avoid it happening, which I put into practice and got NO acceleration. ¬†I’m in the process of putting together an other blog post about it which I’ll share soon.

I also made Welsh Rose and Yr Wyddfa. ¬†Yr Wyddfa is the Welsh name for Snowdon – the highest mountain in England and Wales, and after which this area, Snowdonia, is named. ¬†Yr Wyddfa was first made last year, and I always said I would bring it back as a summer special. ¬†I’ve made a couple of changes to the design, and I can’t wait to cut it tomorrow:

Welsh Rose & Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

Welsh Rose & Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

I also made up a big batch of my facial soap. ¬†I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from the trial bars that went out, and many more queries from people wanting to buy it, so I’ve gone ahead and made up a batch in my tall & skinny mould:

Facial Soap in the Mould

Facial Soap in the Mould

I cut it couple of days later, and was very surprised to see I’d got a double partial gel! ¬†I don’t usually gel my soap, but clearly this got much hotter in the centre of the mould than it did on the outer edges. ¬†I actually don’t mind the effect at all, and it makes no difference to the finished product other than appearance, so I’m embracing it. ¬†Don’t think I’ll be able to recreate it though!!

Facial Bars with Partial Gel

Facial Bars with Partial Gel

This week also saw me making LOADS of bathbombs, some of which are heading out with a wholesale order today.  Clockwise from top left we have Oatmeal, Milk & Honey, Welsh Rose and Luscious Lavender

Bathbombs

Bathbombs

 

In other news, thanks to the rain, there’s been far less work done on the garden than my optimistic post last week may have anticipated. ¬†Dean did manage to make the frames for the raised beds, and place them in situ, but that’s as far as we’ve got:

Raised beds

Raised beds

Oh, and the kids and I made some DELICIOUS chocolate chip cookies. ¬†To be honest, they were SO delicious, they didn’t last very long and we had to make a second batch. Ooops!!

Homemade Choc Chip Cookies

Homemade Choc Chip Cookies

I may well post the recipe sometime soon!

I’m off now to make that wholesale delivery, so thanks for reading – I’ll be back soon!!

A Surprisingly Productive Week in Soap: 4th June, ’17

It’s June! ¬†Flippin’ heck I love the summer. ¬†Mind you, while we basked in some wonderful weather during May, June seems to have other ideas and has been a little wet so far, to say the least!

Anyway, I wasn’t expecting the last week to be particularly productive as far as soapiness goes. ¬†Dean (my other, some would say ‘better’, half) was working away most of the week and it just happened to be half-term so both kids were off school and I wasn’t able to get into the office for any decent period of time.

On Monday night I made the most of Dean’s last night at home to make some soap. This is one I’ve not made since last year, and is one of my summer specials. ¬†Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands) is an homage to our local(est) beach. Just 20 minutes from home, we spend long days there in the summer, building sand castles and playing in the waves. ¬†The base of the soap has ground apricot stones in it, for a mildly exfoliating, sandy texture, and the fragrance is a refreshing marine scent. Think seaweed, rock pools and a coastal breeze – summer in a soap. ¬†Last year I made 15 bars, this year I’m making 60, so I hope it sells! I’ve only got in the mould photos at this stage – which aren’t very exciting, but I’ll post some cut pics very soon.

Traeth Craig Du in the mould

Traeth Craig Du in the mould

By Tuesday I had sent off all the parcels in this year’s International Soap Swap, and a couple of recipients have already received theirs. ¬†In order to avoid spoilers we’ve agreed not to share any photographs until everyone has received their parcel, but as soon as I can, I will…

Dean arrived home on Friday night, to a hero’s welcome from the kids (I let them stay up a bit later especially). ¬†I was pretty pleased too, not least because it meant I got to spend the whole day in the office on Saturday, catching up on wrapping and labelling. ¬†Not the most exciting of days, but I needed to make up for lost time.

Last night brought more restocks – Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti:

Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti in the mould

Clarity & Lemon Verbena Confetti in the mould

In other news, and this IS exciting, we spent some time in the ‘soon-to-be-recogniseable-as-a’ garden today. We have some scaffolding boards arriving tomorrow to build three raised beds, and today we levelled some ground ready for Dean to build the beds this week. Because of the incline there a fair bit of levelling to be done, so we’ll probably have to create a tier or two. ¬†But this feels like real progress, and I may even have sowed or planted something in there by this time next week – woop!!

Garden progress

Garden progress

It doesn’t look like much here, but it took us¬†hours¬†of digging and carting soil to get just this patch of ground nice and level. ¬†Those retaining bricks are only temporary by the way!

A different angle...

A different angle…

Thanks for reading, back soon!

The Week in Soap: 28th May ’17

Building a business one soap at a time. ¬†That’s my blog’s sub-heading, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few years. ¬†Just like putting one step in front of the other, I’ve been making one soap after another, and slowly growing the business ¬†But a lot of the time it feels like I’m flying by the seat of my pants. ¬†I knew nothing of business before I started this venture, and it’s been (and still is!) a huge learning curve. ¬†I was simply a soapmaking hobbyist who frankly, was looking for a way to make a bit of money when I realised that I really DIDN’T want to go back to the long hours of Project Management when my son, my eldest child, was born seven years ago. ¬†Seven years ago today in fact. ¬†I’m not sure where I’m going with this ramble, but it’s my gorgeous boy’s birthday today, and I’ve been reminiscing on the passing of time.

Before my boy arrived I loved my job. ¬†It was fast paced and I worked long hours, but it was absolutely not compatible with a baby – for me anyway. So I started wondering whether it was possible to build a profitable business making handmade soap. ¬†Seven years on and the business grows month by month and I love THIS job. Working my own hours is so family-friendly (and will be even easier when my youngest starts school full time in September) but I’m still nowhere near making the kind of income I had from my pre-children employment, and I don’t know if I ever will. ¬†It’s exciting, exhilarating even, and sometimes it makes me anxious. ¬†At times I drive my long suffering husband insane by fretting and worrying about how much I have to do in what little time I have available to me, especially when he’s working away and that available time is further reduced. ¬†I’m frightened of taking too much on, overstretching myself and letting customers down. ¬†I’ve been holding back on launching the website because I really don’t know if I can handle more orders than I’m already getting… ¬†A great position to be in, but it means that growth is slower than it could otherwise be.

Well, having said all that, I was lucky enough to secure two new stockists this last week. My soap can now be found in Conwy Art & Craft, 7 High Street, Conwy and Slate and Things at 38 High Street, Caernarfon.  Do pop in and check them out if your in the area Рboth gorgeous shops with loads of lovely items for sale.

Needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of wrapping and labelling recently, but ¬†I also made soap (of course!). ¬†Two batches each of Serenity and Botanica: ¬†(please forgive the shadows – I thought I’d try some ‘arty’ photos in the dappled sunshine but, erm, it didn’t quite work :-D)

Serenity & Botanica in the mould

Serenity & Botanica in the mould

And I even managed to get it cut in time to share some pics with you:

Serenity Mid-cut

Serenity Mid-cut

Botanica Mid-cut

Botanica Mid-cut

I’ve been inundated with orders for the mini guest bars – plenty of them gone out this week:

Guest bars ready to ship out

Guest bars ready to ship out

I’m STILL in discussions with a couple of companies re boxes for my soap – I’ll be sure to share more when I have something definite to report.

On a personal note, I’ve already mentioned that it’s my eldest’s birthday today. We held a party for him and his friends yesterday, and much fun ¬†was had:

The birthday boy (and me)

The birthday boy (and me)

He absolutely adored his Minecraft themed cake:

Minecraft Cake

Minecraft Cake

made by the super-talented Julie of Stickytreats – check out her Instagram account if you love creative cake decor…

That’s it for today, thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon!

 

 

The Week in Soap: 21st May ’17

Did you have a good weekend? ¬†I’ve no idea where this last week has gone – seemed to fly by! ¬†My husband was away for a couple of nights at the beginning of the week, so although I managed to make a couple of batches on Tuesday night, once the kids were in bed, I didn’t manage to get as much done this week as I usually would… He’s away again next week, for three nights I think, and as it’s half term and both kids are off school, it could well be a rather unproductive week soapwise…

Anyhow, back to the good stuff. These were Tuesday’s batches – Clarity and Luscious Lavender:

Clarity & Lavender in the Mould

Clarity & Lavender in the Mould

And, for once, I managed to photograph the freshly cut bars – forgive the rough edges, these were taken just minutes after cutting:

Clarity - brand new and freshly cut

Clarity – brand new & freshly cut

Luscious Lavender - brand new and freshly cut

Luscious Lavender – brand new & freshly cut

I’m still on the hunt for soap boxes – I knew there was a reason I put it off for so long, it’s not an easy search! ¬†I’ll update when I have something to share.

This week saw the arrival of the last parcel (all the way from the US) in the 2017 International Soap Swap. I don’t want to spoil any surprises so I can’t really give anything away until all participants have received their return packages, but oooohhhhh I’m so excited to share. ¬†There should have been 15 of us in total, but 6 had to pull out for one reason or another, and the final count is 9. ¬†The contents of these boxes are stunning, and will be posted out to their rightful owners by the end of the week. ¬†Stay tuned as I can’t wait to share their contents with you….

Soap Swap boxes - woop!

Soap Swap boxes – woop!

My soapmaking routine is taking a bit of a shuffle this week. ¬†I’ve always been in the habit of making soap on a Tuesday night, so that I have a batch to cut at my soapmaking presentation on a Thursday night (48 hours later). ¬†However, the venue has asked me to move my talk to Wednesday nights (after my kickboxing training – eek!) for the foreseeable future, and therefore I ¬†need to make soap on a Monday night from now on. ¬†It does however free Thursday night up for soapmaking too, so my schedule from now on will mean soapmaking on a Monday and a Thursday as a general rule.

There you go, that was my soapy week in a nutshell. In other news, we spent most of yesterday working in the garden. ¬†Have I mentioned our back garden yet? ¬†It was a complete jungle when we moved into the house, and it’s slowly being tamed into submission. ¬†This was it last year¬†– just look at those overgrown boundaries :-O (But on a positive note they hid pounds and pounds of juicy blackberries)

A couple of months ago...

Last Autumn…

Then, after lots and lots of hacking, digging etc etc etc we got to this point a couple of weeks ago:

Before yesterday's efforts...

Before yesterday’s efforts…

And by the end of yesterday:

After Sunday's efforts...

After yesterday’s efforts…

I’m starting to see potential, and am getting excited about what we could do with it. ¬†It slopes upwards, so it’s foreshortened in this picture, and is actually longer than it looks. ¬†I have dreams of a greenhouse, a seating area, raised beds for veg and salad, and plenty of flower beds. ¬†I absolutely adore gardening, and can’t wait to get to it properly! And obviously I’ll be sure to share the progress ūüôā

Thanks for reading – back soon!

 

The Fortnight in Soap: 15th May ’17

Good afternoon from a very wet Monday in Snowdonia! ¬†We’ve had some glorious weather recently, but this morning we awoke to pouring rain and¬†it hasn’t let up all day. ¬†Ah well, the gardens will be all the happier for it!

I didn’t post a round up last Sunday, as, to be honest, there wasn’t that much to tell you. I’d made one batch of soap – yet another two loaves of Tutti Frutti (I’m selling out as soon as it’s cured, and I need to get stock levels back up):

Tutti Frutti in the mould

Tutti Frutti in the mould

And last week I only soaped twice – another restock of Welsh Rose:

Welsh Rose in the Mould

Welsh Rose in the Mould

and the second time was some wedding favours for my friend who gets married at the end of June. ¬†I’ll share those in another post as I’ve not got round to photographing them yet.

I’ve been really busy with orders for my mini bars. These are really popular with holiday accommodation owners in the village and the surrounding area. ¬†Three lots have gone out over the weekend, and there’s still more to do.

Welsh Rose Mini Guest Bars

Welsh Rose Mini Guest Bars

I only sell these on a wholesale basis, with the minimum order being 50, ¬†they’re just too fiddly and time consuming to wrap to make them cost effective in smaller amounts. ¬†I’m considering doing a selection pack of one of each of the core range,¬†but I need to think a little more about the practicalities (I’m back to whether or not I can make them cost effective again)

The other big thing taking up my time over the last week or so has been trying to get some quotes for soap boxes. ¬†I currently wrap in cellphane bags, but I’m looking for something a little more professional, and which will give the bars more protection in transit / on shelves. I’d like plain white boxes with a window, so that the soap can be seen (and smelled!) and early indications suggest that they’re not cheap!! ¬†It’s a work in progress, and I’ll keep you updated.

But the main reason I’ve not made soap for a while? ¬†I was all out of Olive Oil, and had been for a week. ¬†I strongly suspect that there’s a shortage at the moment as, although I could buy plenty of Pomace Olive Oil, I’m struggling to get regular olive oil at a good price. I know many soapmakers use pomace without any problems, but I find it accelerates trace compared to regular olive oil, and that’s no good for my drop swirls. ¬†I usually get mine via Amazon’s subscribe and save facility, but they didn’t deliver April’s order, and when I went online to check what was going on, ¬†they’d cancelled the order without so much as an email to let me know ARRGHH ¬† May’s order is still in place so I’m hoping that turns up as planned. Anyway, I ordered some more from another supplier last Monday evening, and it finally arrived today…

Oh, and this blog was featured in Feedspot’s 100 top soap blogs last week. I’ll be honest, Feedspot was new to me, but it appears to be very similar to Bloglovin’. ¬†If you’re interested in soapy blogs (and of course you are, right?!) do have a look through. There I am, right down at No. 62 ūüėÄ (and it seems my location is wrong – I’ve not lived in Manchester for over 3 years, so I’ll need to find a way to change that – I’m guessing it’s here in my settings somewhere?)

And don’t forget, if you have a soapy blog yourself then why not join our Soapmaking Bloggers Facebook Group?

Thanks for reading – back soon!

Another month gone…

I’m in holiday mode again. It’s May Day bank holiday here today, so even though Easter seems like just yesterday, we’re enjoying another long weekend, and I didn’t even think¬†to get my weekly round up post done yesterday. ¬†(*Ahem* If I’m honest, it did cross my mind briefly last night, but by that point we were binge watching Dexter on Netflix and enjoying rather nice bottle of red ūüėÄ It’s all about balance eh?!)

This week saw me making a start on the summer specials – Lemon Verbena Confetti. I’ve not got round to taking a photograph of this year’s version yet, but this is a photo from last year to give you an idea…

Lemon Verbena Confetti

Lemon Verbena Confetti

The Lemon Verbena fragrance oil smells absolutely amazing, but it’s such a fast mover that I was in two minds whether to use it again this year. ¬†In the end my (and my customers’) love for the fragrance won out, and last Thursday I made two batches. It was worse than I remembered ūüė¶ ¬†I’m in the middle of writing a post about it, and I’ll definitely have some cut photos of the recent batches by then.

The rest of the week was spent fulfilling orders (inc one for a brand new stockist, Crumpton Hill Farm Shop in Herefordshire), end of month accounts and wrapping & labelling for the monthly Porthmadog Craft Fair on Saturday, including these:

Botanica

Botanica (Lavender, lemon & lime essential oils)

Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)

Serenity (Patchouli, orange, lemon & ylang ylang essential oils)

This week we also enjoyed the fourth birthday of the littlest Soapminer¬†but I’m ever so glad such important birthdays only happen twice a year!!

Oh, and guess what? ¬†I actually read a whole book in April! ¬†Yep, I managed to finish The Girl on the Train yesterday and it’s definitely whetted my appetite to read more.

Goals. ¬†Should I or shouldn’t I? ¬†January through to March, one of my monthly goals was to read a whole book. ¬†Failed on three counts. ¬†In April I had no goals whatsoever and I read a book. ¬†In February and March I wanted to create a wholesale linesheet, or at least put all the information into one place for customers to access. ¬†Didn’t happen either month, but in April I managed to post about the Core Range. ¬†Is it just a coincidence or am I subconsciously sabotaging my own efforts when I have a ‘goal’ to achieve? Why would I do that though? Am I asking too much of myself? Perhaps I should just have the one goal until it becomes a habit and then introduce another… On a personal level that’d probably work well, but I need to be a little more productive and proactive workwise, and push myself a little more, not less…

So here’s the deal – I’ll give myself just one personal goal, and that’s to read a book (I so very nearly wrote ‘two books’ before I realised how utterly ridiculous I was being :-D) My challenge now is to find a book that will grip me as much The Girl on the Train. To that end I did a quick ‘what should I read next if I liked…’ Google search, and I now have 7 books on order with my local library. I’m hoping that at least one or two will arrive pretty quickly and I can make a start.

Workwise there are a few things I want to achieve, alongside the regular restocks, and I don’t think I’m being over-ambitious here either:

  1. Get my facial bars out to testers
  2. Make trial batches of lipsalve
  3. Get back to posting on the blog at least eight times during May

I also have another 200 mini guest bars, for three different customers, to be cracking on with this week and my regular Tuesday (tomorrow) night session has been hijacked by an meeting that I’m expected to attend, so I’m having to bring my soaping session forward to tonight in order to have soap to cut at my regular Thursday night soapmaking presentation.¬†Juggling, always juggling, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks for reading, I’ll be back soon with more soapy updates.