The Week in Soap: 29th Oct ’17 (Blogtober 30)

This week is half term here in in Wales, a week later than the rest of the United Kingdom it seems.  This means, of course, that there’s no school all week, and I’m left wondering how I’m going to fit in everything I have to do while entertaining two energetic children.  It also means that this is going to be a whistle-stop post as every minute counts this week!

On Monday I made two double batches of Candy Cane and Frosted Christmas Tree.  I’ve been caught by surprise somewhat at how well (and quickly) these soaps are selling, and seeing as I still have time, I made some more…

More Candy Cane

More Candy Cane

More Christmas Tree

More Christmas Tree

Tuesday was a write-off, work-wise, thanks to that power cut.

Wednesday was my last-but-one day at the day job, followed by kickboxing and then my last Wednesday night soapmaking demo of the season. I have been asked back for next year (yey!) but that won’t be until the hotel opens to guests again at the end of March.

Thursday was bittersweet.  My last day at the pre-school was lovely – we took the children for pizza and ice-cream, and then to the park and everyone had a wonderful time.  It was sad to think that I won’t be working closely with them again BUT I can’t wait to be able to focus properly on this business from now on (well, after this week anyway!!)  As soon as Dean finished work at 4pm I headed over to the office to put together orders for the following day’s deliveries and ended up feeling elated and just a little bit in awe at how quickly the Christmas soaps are heading out the door!

Orders in Progress

Orders in Progress

Friday morning was spent making soap deliveries, including to a brand new stockist – always exciting! The sky was clear and it was  a joy to drive around beautiful Snowdonia in the sunshine, delivering soap and chatting to the stockists. I had a load of wrapping and labelling to do in the afternoon, in preparation for the Porthmadog Craft Fair the following day but by 7pm I’d had enough and took the evening off.

Up and out early the next day for the end of month craft fair in Porthmadog.  Honestly, I  think it was the quietest day I’ve ever had there in all the years I’ve attended.  I suppose it’s that lull between the end of the summer season and the start of the Christmas shopping, but given that I’m busier than ever with wholesale and online orders I really didn’t mind. While I was there I managed to put together a long list of places I want to approach in the new year with a view to becoming stockists, and also worked on plans for new projects, so it wasn’t wasted time.

I spent most of Sunday with Dean and the children on a Halloween themed day out. The plan was to have a completely work-free day but during the drive home I started getting anxious about my low stocks of bathbombs.  Arrghhh!  I couldn’t help myself, I made 5 different varieties – 75 in total. Ho hum… the life of a business owner 😀

Back tomorrow for the last Blogtober post of 2017 – woo hoo!!

Vicki

 

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The Week in Soap: 15th Oct ’17 (Blogtober 16)

So, Blogtober rolls on and, to be totally honest, here at the halfway point,  I’m suffering from a bit of blogging apathy.  I’m certain it’s temporary, and I’m absolutely not giving up (are you cheering or groaning?? 😀 ) but I am glad that today is my usual weekly update day and I don’t have to come up with something new!

Despite only having a few more weeks in which to squeeze in Christmas soap making, I only managed to make two double batches this week – Clarity & Tutti Frutti:

Clarity & Tutti Frutti

Clarity & Tutti Frutti

You probably won’t remember that I made two batches of Clarity the week before too.  Unfortunately they proved, shall we say, problematic – the first one I cut had developed soda ash throughout the bar (or is it a partial gel?) which in a black bar is really ugly. How bad does this look?!

Clarity fail...

Clarity fail…

I’ve seen photos of this before, but never experienced it, and I was absolutely gutted – it’s throughout BOTH loaves.  I had read that it could be because the oils & butters weren’t completely transparent when I added the lye (ie too cold) – which is perfectly possible as I soap at room temperature, so for my second lot this week I made sure that the oil mixture was completely, utterly, thoroughly, melted… And the same thing happened again.  6kg of soap spoilt…  Gahh!!  I’ve ALWAYS made this the same way – nothing has changed. Anyway, I’ll be upping the temps for the next batch and hope that that does the trick.

I released the Christmas soaps (Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree & Warm Gingerbread) for pre-orders this week – they’ll be ready by the 21st October and orders, both wholesale and retail, have started coming in…I KNOW it probably feels early to many of you but I got caught out last year – retail outlets wanted to stock Christmas items immediately after Halloween, so really, I’m only just ready…

The Christmas Line Up 2017

The Christmas Line Up 2017

The rest of my time has been spent wrapping and labelling LOADS of bars for the *crosses fingers* Christmas rush.

Oh, and I think I have redesigned my labels.  I’ve not been totally happy with mine for the longest time, and I’m quite excited about the new look, but all will be revealed in due course.

Thanks for reading – I’ll be back tomorrow, hopefully reinvigorated and ready for another fortnight of daily blogging!

Vickx

The 2017 Christmas Line Up

There are three Christmas specials this year, Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree & Warm Gingerbread:

The Christmas Line Up 2017

The Christmas Line Up 2017

Candy Cane is fragranced with a buttery/vanilla-y peppermint, and smells just like the Candy Canes that decorate the tree at this time of year:

Candy Cane Handmade Soap

Candy Cane Handmade Soap

Frosted Christmas Tree is a cooler, ozoney scent, with hints of pine & fir (of course!) and green leaves, topped with a star, just like the real thing 🙂

Frosted Christmas Tree Handmade Soap

Frosted Christmas Tree Handmade Soap

And finally we have Warm Gingerbread.  Smells mouthwateringly as you would imagine – freshly baked ginger, cinnamon and notes of vanilla:

Warm Gingerbread Handmade Soap

Warm Gingerbread Handmade Soap

Each bar will be decorated with a festive ribbon and will be available from the end of October.

 

 

September Goals Reviewed (Blogtober 3)

I had three goals for September:

  1. Website
  2. Christmas Soaps
  3. 8-10 blog posts

Website

I’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s still not there. I’m really been struggling to find the time to sit down and focus on getting it ready for launch (just see yesterday’s post for how busy I was last week) but I can’t fret too much about it, I just need to keep going. It’ll get there.

Christmas Soaps

YES! 60 bars each of Candy Cane, Frosted Christmas Tree and Warm Gingerbread made last month.  Last year I only made 30 bars of each, which wasn’t quite enough, so I was aiming to double that this year – boom! BUT there’s been so much interest thus far that I’ve decided to go for 90 bars of each. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but considering the big Christmas fair I have the first weekend in December, I’d rather have too many than not enough.  I’m lucky that I started making them early enough that it won’t be a problem to make more during the next couple of weeks and still have them ready for the start of the festive season.

I still haven’t taken ‘proper’ photographs of these three, but this is what I do have so far in case you’ve not seen them yet:

Warm Gingerbread

Warm Gingerbread

Candy Cane

Candy Cane

Frosted Christmas Tree

Frosted Christmas Tree

Publish 8-10 Blog Posts

I published 7 posts last month.  Didn’t quite hit my target, but, if I’m completely honest, I was holding back a little, knowing that I would be trying to post 31 times this month.  There were a few times I thought, “Ooh, that would make a good blog post” and then immediately thought “Ah, no, I should save that for next month…”  Basically self-sabotage, ha!!

Back tomorrow with my goals for October – no prizes for guessing what at least two of them will be 😀

The Week in Soap: 24th Sept, ’17

Just a quick catch up this week. Posts have been fairly few and fair between over the last couple of weeks because I’m gearing up for Blogtober – every time I think ‘Ooh, that might make a good blog post’ I decide to save it for next month…

I was waiting for supplies to arrive last week so I only made one main batch of soap – a remake of ‘Yr Wyddfa’ (Snowdon):

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

Yr Wyddfa in the Mould

I’ve been trying to find a better way to create this design – this was the previous version which, while it sold really well, has, to me, more than a passing resemblance to *ahem* dog mess :-/

Yr Wyddfa

Yr Wyddfa

and when I saw the lovely designs created and document by Danica on her blog Seife und anderes, I realised that the sculpted layers technique might just be the way forward. There’s a great description of the technique on Danica’s blog, so I won’t go into details here (and anyway, I forgot to take any photos of the process, I was so anxious to get on with it – next time I will definitely document it better) so here’s the final result:

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon

The colours aren’t quite right this time – the mountain needs to be more grey, and the greenery needs to be more, well, green… but I’m getting there.  It’s fragranced with a blend of essential oils including rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon and patchouli.

I also made another batch of dinosaurs and more stars for the next batches of Frosted Christmas Tree (which I still need to photograph to show you – oops!)

Star Embeds

Star Embeds

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a selection of green mica samples from U-Makeitup and this week they arrived – a lovely collection:

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples

Green Mica Samples - labelled

Green Mica Samples – labelled

Oh, and the Christmas ribbons have started to arrive – I know it probably still feels a bit early but I’ve already had a wholesale order for my Christmas range for delivery by 22nd October, so there’s no time to be to complacent…

Christmas Ribbons

Christmas Ribbons

Thanks for reading – my next post will be the first of this year’s Blogtober posts on the 1st of the month (next Sunday – eek!)

 

I seem to have lost a month…

I had an inkling August would be busy. I hadn’t planned on posting often on the blog, but abandoning it for a whole month really wasn’t on the agenda either. The kids have been on holiday of course, but the soap business doesn’t stop for the summer (if anything it is busier than any other time, bar Christmas) and I’ve been frantically juggling childcare and keeping on top of the business for the last month.

I won’t dwell on it here, but the weather during August was utter pants.  Seriously, it was rubbish.  I had so many plans for picnics by the river, and lazy days on the beach, but it just wasn’t going to happen.  We took walks in the rain, visited castles in the drizzle, and went geocaching under stormy clouds. The kids even climbed their first (small!) mountain, and loved it. Ha! Take that, weather! We had fun anyway…

As well as keeping retailers stocked up, I’ve made 330 bars of soap during August. Not as many as I would have liked, but with BOTH (finally!!) kids back at school all day as of next Tuesday, I’ll able to get back on track fairly quickly.  I’m not making any Halloween bars, so it’s restocks and Christmas soaps all the way… Candy Cane proved very popular last year, so that’s what I started with:

Candy Cane, freshly cut

Candy Cane, freshly cut

I’ve also started on the star embeds for the Christmas Tree bars:

Star Embeds

Star Embeds

And Dinosoaps are back!

Dinosoaps

Dinosoaps

It really doesn’t seem right thinking about Christmas in August but last year I got caught out when retailers wanted Christmas stock in store right after Halloween (eek!) so this year I’ll be better prepared.

Oh, and do you remember that marmalade I made back in January? I entered it into our village show a couple of weeks ago, and it only went and won first prize!  I knew it tasted good but absolutely didn’t expect to win anything.  These aren’t the best photos but I also won firsts for my Viennese fingers, Melting Moments and Swiss Roll plus second prizes for my Victoria Sponge and Coconut & Lime Loaf:

Village Show Successes

Village Show fun!

These are the Viennese Fingers, which get their own photo because, frankly, they were bloomin’ delicious. Excuse the wonky one – only three were entered – that wasn’t one of them! If anyone wants the recipe let me know and I’ll post it – it’ll give me a great excuse to make more!!

Viennese Fingers

Viennese Fingers

It’s been a great month, but things will be getting back to normal here over the next few days and I’ll be glad to get back into a routine – the blogging schedule will be back on track – I promise!

Thanks for reading – all being well I’ll be back tomorrow with my goals for September.

 

The Week in Soap: 11th Dec ’16

It’s unlikely that anyone noticed but it’s been a fortnight since my last weekly update.  That’s because soapmaking truly has come to standstill thanks to the ongoing kitchen renovation work, but we’re getting there. It’s been two whole months without a kitchen and I can’t tell you how tired I am of washing dishes in the bath (Oh and I cannot wait to bake a cake, never mind make soap!) but I’m absolutely certain it will all be worth it.

The kitchen itself was finally delivered last week, and is in the process of being fitted. We’re now waiting for the plumber to come back to finish off his side of things before the electrician can do the same, and then the carpenter can do the finishing touches. The new dining table and chairs are due to arrive on Wednesday, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be almost complete by the end of the week.  I’m so looking forward to sharing the pictures, but just to set the scene – this is what it looked like at it’s worst:
img_0232 20161107_124719144_ios

20161107_124625815_ios

On the business side of things I’m at various stages of discussions with another three retailers regarding wholesale accounts – I’ll share more if and when the deals are done. Next Saturday marks my last craft fair of the year, and after that I’ll be focussing on enjoying the holiday period with my family.  But I WILL be making soap, so I should be able to share some soapy pictures again before too long.

On a personal note I’m finally beginning to feel a bit Christmassy. We put the tree up this week, the kids are thrilled to be having a morsel of chocolate from their advent calendar each and every morning before breakfast – such decadence 😀 There’s only one week left of school before the Christmas break begins, and what a week – the Christmas show (with my youngest making her debut as Mary no less, while my eldest is playing The Hulk and a Wise Man – go figure), their Christmas dinner, the Pantomime trip, Christmas Jumper day,  Christmas Party AND somewhere amongst all that my eldest has a karate grading – YIKES!!

I hope your holiday preparations are proving to be fun rather than stressful – thanks for reading!