Monday, July 7, 2014

Black Vanilla Tea Soap



I am my mother's daughter. We share a love of everything British, antiques, vintage magazines, Sherlock Holmes (although different incarnations), reading, and tea.

I adore tea. Iced tea in the summer, hot tea in the winter or if I am sick, but never ever sweet tea (ick). I love tea candles, tea towels, and tea soap. A day alone with a hot cup of tea with a a couple of cookies and an episode of Downton Abbey or Sherlock, or even a new magazine, is the last word in indulgence for me, bonus points if I have a lovely knitting or embroidery project on my lap.

Not really surprising that I found an excuse to use it in my soap. I had some loose leaf tea I got in Nashville at World Market a few years back. It unfortunately got lost behind all my other teas and was forgotten about. It smells heavenly, a black vanilla, long leaf tea. And while I think it may be a bit too old to drink, I thought it would be perfect in some soap, and I hoped it would retain some of it's scent.

It did. Yummy. Truly, that's the only word for this soap. Or maybe delectable. All I know it that the FO (Bramble Berry's Black Tea, link below) coupled with the scent of the tea itself is fabulous. As for the soap itself, it gives a lovely, soft lather with small bubbles. Just because I was curious on how the tea leaves would exfoliate as compared to coffee grounds, I ended up tossing the (appx) tablespoon of leaves I used to brew the tea in at light trace. I was initially worried, once I had already dumped them in the batter, that the leaves would be too long for the exfoliating feel I wanted. But, thankfully, the stick blender shopped them up perfectly. The leaves are not as rough as coffee grounds, which a lot of my friends love but I find to harsh at times, it's a much softer scrub, but still noticeable. I already having people asking for this soap and they haven't even tried it. I don't know if I will be able to let any of my first batch go though, they might have to wait a few more weeks for me to make some more.

If you want to try making this yourself, here is what I used: (as usual, please run your recipe through a lye calculator like SoapCalc to get the correct lye and water amounts)

1lb Batch (13oz total oil weight)
Superfat - 10%

- Castor Oil - 10%
- Cocoa Butter - 10%
- Coconut Oil, 76 Degrees - 20%
- Palm Oil - 20%
- Olive Oil - 40%
- Brewed Black Vanilla Loose Leaf tea, allowed to steep for 4 hours in fridge. Replaced half the total water called for with the tea.
- .5oz Black Tea Fragrance Oil
- Appx 1tbsp of tea leaves at trace, stick blended in
- 1 tbsp honey at trace, whisked in
- I put it in the freezer for an hour to prevent gel phase, but as you can see in the picture it still gelled in the middle. The next batch, because this soap will be a staple honey, will be in the freezer for longer.

Have you tried tea, or any other interesting liquids in your soap? Link it up in the comments.

I am thinking yogurt, avocado, or cucumbers might be my next additive.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Craft Table is All a Clutter Once More!!


I can't even describe how happy this poorly lit, hot mess of a photo makes me. This is the first time a long time that that table has held anything but dust. 

A few months ago I posted that I was taking a blogging break. I was deep in a depression. Every day was a fight just to keep some semblance of normality going whether it be at work or at home. Even the smallest tasks were sometimes to hard for me to handle. My brain felt like it was wrapped in cotton candy and I just could not think. This from the woman who worked a full time job, studied for the Bar, and passed. I could barely write a to-do list. I wasn't eating, I was sleeping way too much, and I just wanted to escape into my new found obsession with the Sherlock Fandom, because it was the one thing that shut my mind off for a little while. I was exhausted all the time, I wanted to sleep, to cry, and a few scary times, even die. All my creativity was gone, and honestly, at the time, I couldn't even care. I just kept trying to put one foot in front of the other because I was hoping it would pass eventually. When I realized I was not getting better on my own, I took the step I swore I would never take. I went to therapy. Now, I am not the type to discuss my problems with anyone. The thought of even admitting on a blog that I am dealing with depression would have been inconceivable to me 6 months ago, much less the fact that I would admit to being in therapy. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and I know some of the bloggers I read who are open about their bouts of depression has helped me tremendously. So, there ya go.

Well, I am happy to say, something is working. I don't know if it's the therapy (my work schedule doesn't really allow me to go more than once a month), or the combination of daily vitamins/exercise, or just the natural progression of things, but I am feeling so much better than I was a few months ago. I am not 100% yet. I still have bad days were I get bitter about the divide between my job and my education, but I tell myself that I am choosing, in a way, to have that divide because I do not want to practice the type of law that is practiced in my small town. Plus, my job lets me have the freedom to develop my own business (my dream). I still have days where my mind is cloudy and I just want to sleep, or read, and nothing else. I still have bad, sad, and angry days for no reason other than the fact I am still dealing with depression. 

And that's ok.

Why? Because I am having days, more than I have negative ones, where my mind is clear, Pintrest is inspiring the crap out of me, I have ink all over my hands, soap batter on the counter, and fabric cuttings on the floor. I am thisclose to opening my small online soap shop for friends and family because I have not only wanted to work on my business and it's development, but I have mentally been able to do so. 

In the words of Sherlock, Oh, it's Christmas!

Right now I am taking the FanGirl Workshop with Tangie Baxter, I just made some tea soap that literally makes my eyes roll back into my head when I smell it, I made some super cute retro inspired curtains with a crocheted edge, and my brain is happily buzzing with all the other stuff I want to make again. 

It's been like this for a few weeks, but I waited to do a blog post so I could make sure it was going to last. I wanted to enjoy the feeling of wanting to create even if I wasn't creating anything. For the first week I pinned things, wrote myself frantic notes about ideas I had for projects, and then just sat happily staring at said notes because they were actually there. I had lost that creative mania for so long. I really felt that that something I loved so much was never going to some back to me. 

So, I may not be posting with the frequency I was post-descent (thats what I call my depression, the descent, because thats what it felt like), which was about 2-3 times per week, or I may, I am playing it by ear. Right now I want to nurture my muse, rediscover my craft supplies, and work on getting my shop open. But I will be back fairly regularly to share with you my FanGirl journal, my curtains, my soap, some new vintage kitchen finds, and whatever else falls off my craft table. Oh, and most likely some pics from the tornado we had. My poor neighborhood will never be the same.

Thank you for sticking with my blog while I was gone, and while I continue to get my head together. I am just so grateful to be feeling like something so close to my old self, for the blog readers that stayed, and just honestly, for normal days. 

:) 



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tupelo Tornado - We Are OK

Just a quick note to let you know that we survived what is being reported as an F3 tornado that hit Tupelo, MS yesterday. Our neighborhood took a beating, but our house stands and we are so grateful. We are without power and a lot of roads are still covered in power lines and trees. Just wanted to post in case anyone remembered that's where we live and were wondering about us.

What a way to end my moms vacation, huh? Huddled in a tub listening to trees banging into our walls.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Promise I am still here!

Again with the excuses. Work is busy, I have had unexpected welcome company, and now, expected even more welcome company (my mom is coming in for the week!). Along with my creative muse, my blogging muse has also seemed to go into hiding. I am taking some much needed mental downtime in order to clear my head, deal with a depression I have found myself at the bottom of, and try a little each day to find my creativity again.

I am still making things, mostly soap, and creative pursuits are starting to become interesting again slowly. I am taking this as a good sign :)

So I ask that you bear with my longer than normal absence, send me some good vibes, and hopefully I will be popping back in soon with something awesome I made!

But enough about me, how goes it with you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

S.O.A.P Panel Scents 3 & 8

Yep, still here. These past couple weeks have been busy. Between the Symposium, company, my trip to Nashville, work being super task filled, and Hayden's and my weird hours, I have had almost zero brain power to write a blog post. But I am here now, so that counts, yes?

These are a couple more soaps I made for the S.O.A.P Panel before the deadline in the beginning of March. I used Scents 3 (a very sophisticated, feminine, almost perfume-y scent which I love) and 8 (the masculine scent). (My post on the other scents.) The recipe was the same for both scents (see below), I just made a 2 lb batch and divided it into 4 equal parts (as I was making duo colored soaps for each scent).



The actual soap turned out perfectly. Neither scent accelerated trace or caused any other problems. Scent 3 is a little weaker than I would have liked after a full 6 week cure, but it is still noticeable, and I still like it a lot. Scent 8, the masculine scent, is still strong after cure, and I like it even better in the finished soap.

My only issue with these soaps are the coloring. I went for blue and gray in the masculine soap as, of course, I was mulling over Sherlock Metas in my head, and I was thinking about how much I love the blue scarf/gray overcoat combo. The colors were vivid in the batter but dulled after curing. I think I need to start adding more than what I initially think I need with colorants as the lye can just fade them during the set up and cure. The colorants used were Natural Brazilian Clay and Blue Oxide. For feminine scent, I used my normal Titanium Dioxide/Olive Oil mixture for the white, and Aqua Pearl mica from Bramble Berry for, what I was hoping, would be a bright turquoise, but again, the color faded a bit. As I have said before, color is definitely a learning curve in soap making. I feel fairly confident in everything else, but color seems to still, be hit or miss.

Recipe for both scents:

  • Castor oil - 10%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degrees - 25%
  • Cocoa Butter - 5%
  • Olive Oil - 30%
  • Palm Oil - 30%
  • 1 TBSP Shredded Loofah
  • 2 tsp Sodium Lactate
My next soap, possibly this weekend, is going to be a hot process Oatmeal, Milk and Honey with actual milk and honey. And, keeping with my Sherlock obsession, I have started on a new cross stitch project which is a lovely trio of B&W portraits of my favorite boys. :)

Off to bed now though, after I do my nails, as I have almost a 9 hours roundtrip drive for a 5 hour meeting. Yes, 9 hours. Bleh.

What are you working on?



Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Post This Week



I am off for the next few days. The 4th Annual LGBT Symposium, the one I started in law school, is tomorrow and then I am heading up to see a friend in Nashville for a few days. I hope to be back next week with some new soap. I am thinking of a rich, chocolate soap using cocoa powder and cocoa butter.

Anyone use the powder in soap before? Did you like the results?


Friday, March 14, 2014

Black & White Kentish Rain Soap

As promised, here is a soap post! One of my co-workers requested a guy soap for her beloved, something manly, but clean, and moisturizing but exfoliating at the same time. I ended up going with the Kentish Rain scent, one of my favorites from the Men's Sampler from Bramble Berry. It is very clean and soapy smelling, with just a hint of hot guy running through it. She definitely loved it, and honestly, I always think the partner of the person using the soap has more of a say in how the soap smells since they are the ones who have to smell it, right?





Half the soap was colored with the Titanium Dioxide mixture I keep on hand, while the other half was colored with 1/2 tsp of Black Oxide mixed into 1oz of Olive Oil. I had originally planned on doing a simple spoon plop layer, but the batter was very slow to trace and wouldn't thicken up enough. I ended up just using a simple layer on layer of the colors and then using a spoon to mxi them together, a very simple Celine Swirl if you will, that didn't really swirl. It gelled in the mold, and although I wish it hadn't I am still quite pleased with the look of it. The scent retained quite nicely, and still is strong after almost 8 weeks. I will definitely be ordering more of this one!

Recipe

  • Sweet Almond Oil - 10%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degrees - 30%
  • Mango Butter - 5%
  • Palm Oil - 25%
  • Olive Oil - 30%
  • Superfat - 7%
  • 1tsp Ground Loofah
  • Titanium & Black Oxide for color
  • .5oz Kentish Rain FO
I made some new soap today, a facial bar. I have to wear a lot of makeup for my job. Not scary heavy, it looks great if I do say so myself, but I really have to go all out with foundation, bronzer, highlighter, blush, primers, eye shadows, and usually my cat eye liner with a colored liner over the top of that (again, it looks FAB!). I have been noticing that my fancy schmancy face cleansers do not take the stuff off my face like my handmade soap does, so I wanted to make something that would not only be beneficial to my skin, but also melt my war paint off my face without have to scrub. I just made it day, so it will be a few weeks before I share how it works, but I know I am not thrilled with the color. I used some Purple Brazilian Clay as a colorant and it just came out muddy. Not a big deal since I made it for me only, but still kind of sad it is not pretty. Oh well, soap and learn right?