Makeovers (7. Love Spell / Bewitched)

The soap that I’ve long called ‘Love Spell’ is scented with a fragrance oil that is a copy of the designer perfume ‘Love Spell’ by Victoria’s Secret. Having recently applied for my bath bomb assessment, which includes bombs fragranced with the same fragrance oil, I was reminded that I can’t call them (or my soap!) Love Spell as it contravenes copyright. I knew this, and I should have changed it ages ago, but to be honest I just didn’t spend the time to come up with a replacement. As it was, when I received the message from my assessor, the new name came to me within a minute or two. Typical! Anyway, it will henceforth be known as Bewitched.

I first made it back in the summer of 2014. You can clearly see where the top portion, coloured with titanium dioxide, shrank more than the rest of the bar during the curing process. The top was simply spattered with leftover soap batter:

Love Spell V1

Bewitched V1

Soon after that I got into tiger stripe pouring, which I initially made with a flat top (and experimented with some black stripes):

Love Spell V3

Bewitched V2

Love Spell V3

Bewitched V3

And later with a textured top:

Love Spell V4

Bewitched V4

Finally I brought it in line with the rest of the range i.e. with a full bar drop swirl:

Love Spell V5

Bewitched V5

Day 23 of Blogtober 2016. I’m starting to believe I can actually do this 😀

 

Name that Soap! (Competition Time)

I have a brand new essential oil bar, and it needs a name… This bar is scented with lavender, lemon and lime EOs.  Heavier on the lavender and lemon, lighter on the lime, but it’s definitely discernible.

Give me a name!

Please give me a name 🙂

I’m offering a free bar to the person who comes up with the name that I eventually select, and you can either enter below in the comments field, or on the competition post on my FB page. It’s open to anyone, wherever you are in the world – I’ll cover postage costs too (last time I did this it the bar went over the pond to the US).  So don’t be shy – I know you’re a creative lot!!

FYI The other essential oil bars in my range are called Serenity, Clarity, Peace, Boho Baby, Flowers and Luscious Lavender.

PS – the winning name will be chosen on Saturday 29th October, 9pm UK time.

Go go go!!

The Christmas Specials

This year I’ve made three seasonal bars especially for the Christmas period.  These are limited edition soaps – there are only 29 available of each fragrance – but they’re made with the same luxurious base recipe of highest quality, food grade oils and butters that all our bars are made of.

It still feels rather early to many to be thinking about the holiday period, but these bars need a good 6 weeks curing time, so won’t be ready to buy until mid-November – just in time to start shopping 😀

Without any further ado – here are:

Christmas Tree (Cool herbal fragrance of pine, mint, green leaf and ozone, hints of jasmine and lily and supported by notes of precious woods, amber and patchouli)

Three Kings (A resinous, woody-oriental fragrance with citrus top notes mingling with warm base of frankincense, myrrh and amber), topped with gold mica.

Candy Cane (Buttery peppermint and spearmint with hints of vanilla)

Christmas Soaps

                 Christmas Soaps

Swiss Roll

Today has mostly been spent keeping the children occupied, made easier by the fact we had a 3rd birthday party to attend this afternoon – 28 small children and a bouncy castle kept the adults on their toes!  Once the kids were in bed, wrapping and labelling soap took up most of my evening and once again I’m on the threshold of being late with my latest Blogtober post.  Deadline is T minus 80 minutes – eek!

Today I thought I’d share something a bit different.  I’ve been baking for much, MUCH longer than I’ve been soaping; I was baking with my mother as a small girl, and I’ve continued to do throughout my adult life. There are undoubtedly similarities between soapmaking  and baking, so I thought today I would share one of my recipes and see if I can’t inspire a soapmaker out there to try it.

Sadly, the time to bake just doesn’t seem to materialise these days, and the closest I get to baking is catching up with The Great British Bake Off while wrapping soap. Last week the contestants were asked to make a roulade, which, let’s be honest, is nothing more than a big, fancy Swiss Roll.   Homemade Swiss Roll is MILES better than the mass produced ones that you can buy at the supermarket, is really quick to make and has the added bonus of being a fat-free sponge. What’s not to like?

Swiss Roll

                Swiss Roll

Pre-heat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6

Take 3 large eggs.  Weigh these three eggs (unbroken, in their shells) before you do anything else. Once you know the weight of the three eggs, you then need the same weight of caster sugar and plain flour.

Whisk together the eggs and the caster sugar with an electric hand whisk. You’ll need to keep whisking for a good 10 minutes.  The mixture will thicken up and eventually will leave a trail when the whisk taken out of the mixture.  It’s very similar to when soap batter reaches ‘trace’.  Sift in half the flour, and fold in gently. You don’t want to lose any of the air that has been whisked into the mixture. Once the flour is completely folded in, do the same with the remaining flour.  When the ingredients are all combined, pour into a greased, lined 12″ x 9″ baking tray.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the sponge is just cooked. If you go over, it’ll be difficult to roll.

Place a clean (!) tea towel over a cooling rack and dredge it with caster sugar.  Turn the sponge out onto the tea towel, and immediately, while still piping hot, roll it up in the sugar coated cloth.  Allow the sponge to cool down a little, for about 10 minutes, then very gently unroll and remove the cloth. The sponge will hold much of the ‘roll’, without cracking. Spread the ‘inside’ of the roll with jam, chocolate ganache, lemon curd or whatever takes your fancy, and roll it back up again. Ta-da!  You could now carefully slice off both ends (just like a loaf of soap!) and make it look really pretty, but the most important thing is to enjoy!

This is the last one I made, filled with lemon curd. I’m now inspired to make another very soon and I’ll try to add some ‘making of’ pics to this post.

Swiss Roll

                          Swiss Roll

Right, I’m off to press that publish button. Deadline T -29mins 😀

Home – Blogtober Day 11

A full third of the way through Blogtober, and I’ve had a good run of soapy posts (with a single bath bomby interlude for good measure), so perhaps it’s time to share something a little more personal.

Whoah now, don’t get excited. No please…don’t 😀 I’m just going to show you where I live, that’s all. And not even my house – the closest you’re getting is my village. And, if I’m entirely honest, I probably wouldn’t even share its name with you here, except it’s plastered all over my soap labels so I can hardly keep it a secret 🙂

I live in a small village called Beddgelert, within the Snowdonia National Park in North West Wales.  It’s nestled in a valley mere minutes away from the foot of Snowdon itself, and surrounded by mountains and rivers, yet only 20 minutes away from the coast and some beautiful beaches.  As someone who loves being outside, walking the hills or swimming in the sea, I honestly cannot think of anywhere in the UK I’d rather live (despite the rather high level of rainfall we have to put up with!)

Beddgelert

                       Beddgelert

Beddgelert

                          Beddgelert

This river runs right through the middle of the village and is ideal for a dip on hot days:

The River

                         The River

Or we can walk a little further downriver and spend some hours messing about in the water here:

River Glaslyn

                       River Glaslyn

A lot of the time though we try to get up high.  The six year old seems to have boundless energy,  but the three year old is still somewhat limited in how far and/or high she can go so we’re slowly increasing the length and elevation of our walks.

View of Llyn Dinas

             View of Llyn Dinas

Cwm Bychan

                     Cwm Bychan

View from the Miner's Track (up Snowdon)

View from the Miner’s Track (up Snowdon)

On the Watkin Path (up Snowdon)

On the Watkin Path (up Snowdon)

I was brought up here, but spent a good 25 years of my life studying and working elsewhere, latterly in Manchester. There’s no doubt in my mind that moving back home to bring our children up in this area was one of the best things we’ve ever done.

My my, these blog posts are getting later and later – this one I’m publishing with just 2.5 hours to spare, but Blogtober, you’ve not beaten me yet!!

 

A Custom Order

A couple of months ago I began supplying my soap to a local retailer, Glosters in Porthmadog.  Glosters is a beautifully curated gift store, stocking handmade items made in-house, locally and further afield in the UK.

front_large

They took a selection of my regular range, but also wanted something exclusive, just for them.

One half of the Glosters team (Tom) is a potter (who sells his ceramics in the store) and the store also has a nautical feel to it. It made sense therefore when Myfanwy (the other half of the Glosters team and textiles whiz) said that she would like a ‘Potters’ soap and a ‘Sea’ themed soap.   I sent away for some sample fragrances, and in due course Myfanwy chose her two favourites.

This is the Potters Soap, fragranced with a fresh, clean scent of green florals and citrus, on a base of amber and musk. The dark blue reflects the colour of the Glosters’ logo, and for this one I kept an element of my signature drop swirl:

 

Potters' Soap

                          Potters’ Soap

 

And this is the Sea Soap, fragranced with a  refreshing salty sea fragrance (of course!), designed with the sea in mind and topped with real sea salt from Halen Môn:

Sea Salt Soap

                      Sea Salt Soap

Both these bars will be available exclusively from Glosters very soon.

Wet Soap Wednesday – Blogtober Day 5

Did you know Wet Soap Wednesday is a thing? Certainly on Facebook and Instagram it is anyway. Today’s post is a quickie – the fruits of last night’s soaping session.

From left to right: Three Kings, Luscious Lavender & Christmas Tree

Wet Soap Wednesday

Wet Soap Wednesday

Back tomorrow 😀

 

 

 

 

Soapmaking…. The Why – Blogtober Day 4

I posted last year about the first bar of soap I ever made and I’ve shared the ‘how’ post again below. But WHY did I make that first batch of soap? It’s a question I’ve been asked many times and the answer is quite simple. Curiosity. A friend came to visit, and proudly showed me some soap that she’d made. I was intrigued. How on earth did one make soap at home? Up until that point I’d assumed that it was some kind of highly technical laboratory process and I don’t think I’d even wondered whether it was possible to make it at home. It was just there. Soap. From the shop.

Had I ever suffered from sensitive skin, or had problems using soap I may have looked into it earlier. It’s more likely however that I would have gone and bought soap ‘for sensitive skin’ and left it at that. Nor did I try soapmaking because of ecological or environmental concerns *blush* (yep, I know a whole lot more about that side of things now!) No, it was pure curiosity. I did a bit of internet research, and became more and more excited. There was a whole big soapmaking world out that and it was fascinating.

My very first attempt was with a soapmaking kit. With hindsight I could easily have bought what I needed separately and just got on with it, but if I’m honest I wanted to MAKE SOAP NOW and the kit sped things up for me a little. I made soap, and I loved it. So what next?

I bought some books. Okay, I’ve bought a lot of books. One of my first was Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson. A great book, though I did find that I had to tweak the recipes slightly when I ran them through Soapcalc. In those early days I also bought The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grasso, The Natural Soap Book by Susan Miller Cavitch and The Handmade Soap Book by Melinda Coss. Since then I’ve bought many more – I’ll have to gather them together and write a round up of soaping books I think.

I also did a lot of internet research. I don’t recall too many forums or Facebook groups back then, but there were an awful lot of Internet articles offering their soapmaking advice.

So having made that first batch of soap out of pure curiosity, and doing a LOT of reading on the subject, I was hooked, and I’ve never looked back. (Well, apart from when I was pregnant with my second child. The smell of all fragrance oils made me feel so violently sick that I had to have all my soapmaking stuff – including ALL handmade soap – put away where there was no chance I’d catch smell of it – for months… They were dark days :-D)

Post by @TheSoapMine.

Source: The first step

October Goals – Blogtober Day 2

I’m pretty sure  I should be doing this every month – having a list of goals would probably lend focus to my work wouldn’t it?  October is going to pretty busy even without this daily blogging malarkey, but this is what I’m hoping to achieve by October 31st.

  1. Get my website up and running.  This has been a goal for so long, it’s become a bit of a joke, but I know what needs to be done now and I want the website live, even if it’s not perfect to begin with.
  2. Finish organising, and successfully hold a craft fair in my village.  This is a biggie – not something I’ve done before and it’s a bit of a learning curve.
  3. Prepare a wholesale linesheet.  I’ve managed so far without a formal linesheet, but wholesale enquiries are increasing, and it’s no longer good enough to be directing interested parties to my Facebook page to see photographs (especially given that I don’t even have a website yet).
  4. Prepare a stock of bath bombs. I’ve finally perfected my recipe, and applied for my assessment so that I can sell them.  I’m hoping the paperwork will come through so that I can start making them in readiness for the festive season.
  5. Post at least 31 blog posts – eeeek!!

So much to do, so much to learn!

Thank you for reading – I’m off now to make as start on that lot up there ⇑⇑⇑

Blogtober Blogging Challenge, Day 1

When I woke up this morning, I reached for my phone (and my glasses – not sure when exactly THAT became a prerequisite for reading my phone screen but it’s now automatic – arghhh) and checked my Twitter feed. At 6.30am I had no idea that such a thing as Blogtober even existed but by 6.45, I was doing it.

The Blogtober Challenge is all about blogging every day, for a month.  You may know that I recently committed to update the blog more often but I’m still struggling to do so, mostly due to time constraints. So how on earth I think I’m going to do this, I’m not really sure, but hey that’s what a challenge is all about eh?!

As far as I can tell, many, if not most, bloggers out there are following a set list of prompts for each day of October,  but I didn’t want to be quite so constrained, so I’ve created my own list of potential blog post topics. So as well as the usual soapy stuff I’ll also be writing about more personal topics and day-to-day life. They may not be long posts (in fact, they’re very unlikely to be!)  but If nothing else, you’ll get to know a little more about the person behind The Soap Mine!

If there’s anything particular from this list of topics that you’d absolutely like me to write about, please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to oblige.

  • Goals for October
  • Soapy (and related) stuff
  • My (non-soapy) daytime job
  • How/why I started making soap
  • Where I live
  • World Smile Day – things that make me smile
  • Weekly wrap-ups
  • If I could go anywhere in the world…
  • A day in my life
  • Instagram tips
  • Favourite IGers
  • Recently read, currently reading, want to read…
  • Favourite recipes
  • Book reviews
  • Pet peeves
  • My garden
  • Other crafts
  • My pinterest obsession

Anyone else committed to doing this or done it before?  Please do share any tips, ideas or advice you may have (and leave a link so that I can follow you too)