It’s my Blogaversary!

Or is it a Blogday?  Either way, I published my first couple of posts on the 28th June 2013, Woohoo!!  At that point I hadn’t made any soap since the birth of my daughter two months before, nor for a good few months before that due to day-long morning sickness and an extreme aversion to the smell of fragrance AND essential oils.  (I’d had to ask my husband to put all my supplies up in the attic as even catching an accidental whiff of any of my soaps had me heading for the bathroom – urgh..)

Fast forward and that newborn is now four years old (funny that :-D) and she’ll be joining her big brother at school full time in September.  That will mean much, MUCH more time for soaping and the business as a whole (including the blog!).  I’m also hoping that I’ll have a bit more time for myself, and of course my poor, long suffering husband who has spent more evenings than I care to mention alone on the sofa while I focused on The Soap Mine.

I have loads of ideas for new products, blog posts and growing the business generally, so please stick with me – I hope I’ll still be here in another four years time, and I hope you’ll still be reading.  Thank you all!!

Oh, here’s a little bit of soap in the mould from a couple of days ago, just because it’s pretty lol…

Bewitched in the mould

Bewitched in the mould

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 😉

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 –  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 😀

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!!

Goals for June

I am fully aware that we’re already a good quarter through the month, but I’ve been meaning to post this for days.  I’ve not set any goals for a few months, and I kind of miss them.  So with no further ado, this is what I hope to achieve this month, business-wise.

  1. Research, and make some test batches, of lip balm.
  2. Finish making the summer special soaps – I’m halfway there, still another 90 bars to go.
  3. Create a ‘Core Range’ post for bathbombs, much like this one that I did for soap. I recently received my first wholesale bathbomb order, and I need to have an easy link to send to potential customers.
  4. Post at least nine times here on the blog.

Just four specific goals – fingers crossed they shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve – I’ll post an update at the end of the month.

And, just because this is such a short, photo-free post, here’s a picture of one of those summer specials, just cut (and bevelled) Traeth Craig Du (Black Rock Sands), that I wrote about and showed in the mould in my last weekly update.

Traeth Craig Du

Traeth Craig Du

Thanks for reading, back soon!

Slate and Things – A New Stockist

I first met husband and wife team Jon and Gill a few years ago when I started taking a stall alongside them at the monthly Porthmadog Craft Fair, and I’ve seen them almost every month since. Jon is a photographer by trade and he prints his images of local scenery (amongst other subjects) onto slate, turning them into very popular gifts:

Printed slate

Printed slate

Gill also sells her extraordinarily cute handcrafted items:

Just some of Gill's crafty creations

Just some of Gill’s crafty creations

They recently took the exciting step of opening a gift shop on the High Street in Caernarfon:

Slate and Things, 38 High Street, Caernarfon

Slate and Things,38 High Street, Caernarfon

and I was thrilled when they asked me if they could stock my soap.  Of course, I said yes, and a week ago I delivered a selection of bars AND bathbombs, which are now available to buy:

Soap & Bathbombs

Soap & Bathbombs

Please do pop in and have a look if you’re passing / in the area. Jon and Gill are two of the most genuinely nice people you could meet, and it’s a pleasure to be working with them.  I wish them every success with their new venture.  Slate and Things are also on Facebook

 

 

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!

50 Things That Make Me Happy

And now for something completely different. Sometimes it does a lot of good to take a moment and count one’s blessings. I’ve realised how lucky I am that this really didn’t take me very long to put together…

  1. Making lists. Win-win!
  2. A large mug of tea.  Strong, just a drop of milk, absolutely NO sugar (urgh).  Oh, and a quiet 10 minutes to drink it!
  3. Gardening.  I don’t have much of a garden at the moment – it’s a work in progress, but I even enjoy the heavy, clearing work.
  4. Spotify.  Music while I work – yey!
  5. A hot bath. With a good book – often the only time I ever get round to reading for pleasure.
  6. An empty ironing basket.  I REALLY don’t like ironing, so I don’t often have an empty basket 😀
  7. Trying new fragrance oils for soap
  8. Making soap. Obvs…
  9. A long shower.  It’s my child free, thinking time, so it inevitably goes on for a little longer than it should.
  10. Running.  I’ve got out of the habit recently – must get back to it, for so many good reasons!
  11. An early night. Getting enough sleep is rare – must try harder!
  12. Linguistics books.  I love language, and languages.  I studied linguistics at university and it’s still a passion.
  13. Warm sunshine.  Need I say more?
  14. Camping.  Just me, the other half and the kids, and NO wifi. Heaven.
  15. Pink / purple hair.  I like jazzing it up sometimes. I’m not ready for frumpiness!
  16. Homemade Pizza.  My husband makes the absolute best pizza in the world – his pizza dough is the stuff of legends.
  17. A good novel. 
  18. Kickboxing.  I only started at the beginning of the year, but I’m hooked. Trying for my orange belt in a couple of weeks time.
  19. A glass of good red wine.  Malbec is a current fave
  20. Living here.  ‘Here’ is Beddgelert, in the heart of Snowdonia.  It’s often wet, but it’s also very green, very picturesque, very Welsh, and I never EVER take it for granted. I’ve done city living, now I’m home.
  21. Cheese.  Love love cheese. Except for goat’s cheese, bleugh…
  22. Barbecues.  With friends, sunshine and a couple of beers.
  23. My filofax. I’d be lost without it.  PLEASE don’t let me ever lose it!!
  24. The Archers. I don’t watch any soaps on TV, but I do like my daily 15min fix of this. 
  25. A tidy, clear kitchen.  It’s rare, but yeah, I like it 🙂
  26. Baking.  Cakes, cookies, scones, shall I go on?
  27. Netflix. I don’t watch much TV, but when I do get a free evening, House of Cards and Dexter are current faves. The Sopranos, The Killing & Breaking Bad were just incredible.
  28. Learning languages.  Currently it’s Russian. I did a short course at Uni, then did evening classes in my 30s and got to GCSE Level, and now I’ve taken it back up again with the Duolingo app. Now I just need someone to practice on!!
  29. Long walks in the countryside.  But at the moment they’re never long enough for me as we’re trying hard not to go too far and put the children off walks for good!!
  30. Days on the beach. With the children.  Building sandcastles and playing in the waves.
  31. My children laughing.  I could have just said my children.  And they do, of course make me happy, but they also drive me utterly crazy at times.  But hearing them laugh?  That’s just the best
  32. Blog feedback.  A little click on that ‘like’ button, or even better, a quick comment, is always appreciated, and guaranteed to make me happy! Unless the comment is to tell me you hate my blog. That wouldn’t make me happy…
  33. Greek yoghurt with fresh berries.  Not that horrid low fat rubbish mind – it has to be full fat!!
  34. Fresh bedding. Show me someone who DOESN’T like fresh linen on the bed!
  35. Modern Technology.  My fitbit is never off my arm, and I don’t know what I’d do without my bluetooth speakers!
  36. My mum’s trifle. She brought some to hospital after the birth of my first child.  Best post-delivery snack EVER.  But it mustn’t have jelly in it. Never ever put jelly in it.  Maybe I should share the recipe?
  37. Reese’s Peanutbutter Cups.  Not a huge fan of peanut butter really, but add it to chocolate and I could eat it all day.
  38. Christmas at home.  Surrounded by family.
  39. My husband’s cooking. I already mentioned his pizza up there ^^  But it’s not just pizza.  He does most of the cooking in our house and he’s flippin’ good at it. I’m a lucky bunny.
  40. Climbing mountains. It’s been over 7 years since I last climbed a mountain. Not since I was pregnant with my eldest.  The youngest starts full time school in September and I’ve already told my husband that he needs to book a day’s holiday THAT VERY WEEK and we’re heading to the top of the nearest mountain.
  41. Swimming in the sea.
  42. Roller coasters and water slides. I’m a thrill seeker at heart.
  43. Adventures abroad. I’ve done a bit in my time – Asia, Australia, Europe, but the last time we were overseas was when I was pregnant with our eldest, and I’m getting itchy feet. Plans need to be made!
  44. The Big Bang Theory. Binge watched it on Netflix last year, and was bereft when we got to the end. Are they making more episodes?
  45. Nutella.  My guilty pleasure – I try not to indulge too much!
  46. Star Gazing. I used to be a member of the British Astronomical Association, and I’m fascinated with all things space-related.  Another of those hobbies that I hope to pick up again one day.
  47. Waking up really early, and actually getting up…
  48. Good grammar.  I’m a Grammar Nazi. I can’t help it, it’s in my DNA 😉
  49. Going to the cinema. These days it’s usually to see kids’ films, but I still enjoy the experience.
  50. Second hand book Shops.  Big ones, that I could get lost in.

So there you go.  A little insight into what makes me, me.  Have you ever made a similar list?

Thanks for reading, back soon!