Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Soap Batch #6 - Rosehip Jasmine scented!

Hello friends! :)

On Sunday, 12/4 I got the urge to make some more soap! I wanted to make soap with avocado oil, and created a recipe and everything. I printed it out and went down to my storage room to pull the avocado oil and it turns out I didn't have any! I guess it must have gone bad and I threw it out and forgot. So I ended up using another recipe I created with walnut oil instead.

This soap consists of the following:

Olive Oil, Water, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Walnut Oil, Fragrance Oil, Castor Oil, Brick Red Oxide, and Titanium Dioxide.

Here is a photo of the soap after I poured it. Since I liked the way the design turned out last time, I copied the same pattern on the top of this batch.

I checked on the soap an hour after I poured it and I noticed it started heating up and slightly cracking on the top. I decided to just leave it and try and cut it off later if it looked bad.

Today, 12/7 I cut the bars. I was DELIGHTED to see what had happened with the first cut...

I honestly have NO idea how this marbling happened, but I really like the swirly look I got! I think the titanium dioxide didn't fully mix in and ended up with those white swirls.

Here's another view. I was able to cut 13 bars from this set.

Here they are on the drying rack, their new home for the next 4-6 weeks! The ones behind them are from my previous post. It's just about time for me to package these up and ship them off to my Aunt!

I am so happy with how these turned out!!! :-)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Soap batch #5. Oatmeal, milk, and honey soap made on 10/30

Howdy everyone!

I am fully aware that I have been VERY absent from my blog for many months now. First off, I moved back in July, then started working in August, and just haven't had time to update this thing...

A few months ago, my Aunt commissioned me to make her some soap for Christmas gifts. On Oct. 30, I finally got up the energy to create her soap! She requested that I make her oatmeal, milk, and honey scented soap so that's what this post is about.

The ingredients that went into this soap was as follows:

Olive oil, water, coconut oil, palm oil, sodium hydroxide, sunflower seed oil, fragrance oil, and castor oil.

This soap was superfatted to 5%. The photo below was taken on Oct. 30th right after I poured it. I attempted to make a fancy design on the top of the soap with my spatula. :)

On Nov. 2, I un-molded the soap. To my pleasant surprise, It gelled only part of the way through leaving a cool square in the center of each soap! It wasn't planned, but I thought it would make a cool gift for my Aunt's friends. :)

I was able to cut 13 bars from this batch.

Here they are at their resting place! If you look closely, you may notice that some of the soaps have cracks in the tops of them. This batch super-heated and cracked in some areas. I will be keeping those as "rejects" and most likely using them myself. ;)

I walk past these in my kitchen every day, so I watched them change from what you see above to slowly darkening to what you see below. The squares in the center of the soap are no longer there, it is one solid color throughout. They also ended up with soda ash (sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda) on the tops of them. I haven't decided yet if I should just leave it on there or cut it off. I'm tempted to leave it for looks. :) What do you think?!?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My name is Cassandra and I am not the next American Idol.

Yep, you read that right. I understand this is NOT a soaping related post, but singing is one of my other passions, so I thought I would share it here. :)

I actually decided to try out for American Idol last Friday (7/29). I only told a hand full of people (3!) I was trying out because I didn't want to be embarrassed and have people asking me to sing for them. The people I told all heard from me, "I know I'm not good enough to get through, but I'm not bad enough either." The only way I would be able to get in was to have a good personality. Now that it's in the past, I can totally talk about it. ;) So here is my Idol experience...

Registration opened on Wed. 7/27 at 7 am. Anyone who knows me knows I'm not a morning person and would sleep until noon every day if I allowed myself to... I decided to go down there around 10 am to get my wristband and ticket. I went so early to ensure I would get a good spot and not have to sit around all day on Friday waiting for my turn. When I got there at 10:15, there was absolutely no line and I walked right up to the table and got the things I needed for audition day. Then I headed home.

Above is my wristband to get into the stadium. Below is my seat ticket.

I couldn't believe I was actually going to do this. Anyone who knows me has never heard me sing besides in a group (although I did do a duet ONCE in middle school). The reason for this is that I am absolutely terrified of letting people hear me. I think I'm a good singer and by keeping my voice to myself, nobody can tell me anything different. I am so afraid of people judging me and I don't think I would take the criticism well... MY OWN mother hasn't even heard me. That's how shy I am. However, put me in a group in front of 8,000 people at the Key Arena and I am totally fine!

So I'm guessing by now you are wondering why in the world I decided to try out. There were two reasons:

1. To check it off my bucket list and say I did it. I wanted the American Idol experience.
2. To face and overcome my fear of singing by myself.

Fast forward to Friday morning. I didn't get much sleep the night before because I was nervous. I got up at 5:45 am and got ready. I left the house at 7:10 am and arrived at Invesco Field by 7:45 am. I was SO thankful there was no traffic! I was worried about hitting that 8 am traffic but it was non-existent so that was a plus! I got in line and just waited. A few minutes after 8, they started letting people in. To be honest, there was less (WAAAY LESS) people there than what I was expecting. I saw an old co-worker who now works at the stadium and chatted for a few minutes before I went to my seat. She told me there were only 5,000 people there, and about half were "support" people. They were expecting 15,000 people to show up.

Above is a blurry photojournalistic shot I took while walking to my seat. ;)

When I got to my seat, we filmed the crowd scenes where we wave, clap, shout random things ("I'm the next American Idol" and "American Idol is the original"), and sang the group song which was River Deep, Mountain High by Tina Turner. Filming was done by about 8:30, then we just had to sit and wait until it was our turn. So I started chatting with the people sitting around me to pass the time. Did I mention I HAD NO IDEA WHAT SONG I WAS GOING TO SING?!? The one most important decision I had to make and I didn't have a clue!

The stadium was pretty empty. It was crazy!

It was hot (like mid 80's by 8:30) and everyone was sweaty and miserable. So people started heading into the concourse to get out of the sun and get some snacks. I finally went in there around 10 am and to my surprise, a group had formed a large circle and people were taking turns singing for each other! I thought it was pretty cool. :) At one point, I actually FORGOT I was at an audition and was just having fun watching people sing! It also could have been the fact that my brain cells were dying from the heat and I mentally checked out. ;)

Here's that large circle I just told you about. 

By 11:30 am, it was time for my section to go line up to march into battle. By then, I had decided to stay true to myself and sing a Sweet Adelines song that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE called "If You Loved Me." (Plus I felt like the words sort of fit) We retired this song after International Competition last year and I was so sad to see it leave our repertoire. So we lined up in rows of 4 and waited on the field to be told which table to go to. We were sent to table 11. I was still not nervous, which is pretty good for me! I kept telling myself, "Just think of this as a Sweet Adelines performance where everyone else forgot to show up." ;)

This is what the audition tables looked like from my seat.

We went to table 11 and there was one man sitting there (one of the producers). I ended up in the position to go FIRST in my group. *GULP* I started getting shaky at that point. I stepped up and handed him "My Story" which was a bunch of questions about me then he told me to go ahead. OH BOY, I started to freeze up. I almost started singing 3 times in a 10 second time period before finally just going for it. 

I hadn't practiced AT ALL the entire day and I've never sang that song outside of my head voice, but I belted it out with my chest as good as I could. I stayed in pitch and had every single word right. I've NEVER heard myself sing the way I did at that audition table. It wasn't bad, it was weird. If I had to compare it to anything, I'd say I channeled my inner Orphan Annie. (HAHA) I actually had an out-of-body experience at one point during my song which was REALLY weird. I sang for about 35 seconds and got through 2 verses before I stopped myself at an appropriate place. The producer looked into my eyes THE ENTIRE TIME and while I was singing, the other 8 people standing around completely disappeared and I forgot they were even there. He said thank you and I stepped back. The second girl sang "Circle of Life" from the Lion King and I SWEAR she was tone deaf. ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE. The producer actually asked her to stop singing! The third girl sang something I didn't know and she was ok (side note: she sat next to me in the stadium and was from Olympia, WA). The last girl sang something with a bunch of runs and the producer asked her to sing a second song with more melody. He called me and the second and third girl to the table and said, "Thank you so much for coming out. You guys were good but not what we're looking for" and were sent down the walk of shame. The fourth girl (Sarah) ended up making it through. I felt bad for the girl from WA for wasting her money and coming out and not getting picked. I would never go out of state to try out, I just got lucky that it came to my city and since I don't have a job right now, I figured it couldn't hurt to try. :)

So... Even though I didn't get a golden ticket and get to move on to the next round, I still feel like I won. What I mean by that is: I put myself in an EXTREMELY uncomfortable situation and forced myself to face my fear. I did just that and I am so proud of myself for it. :) Since I went in there not expecting to get a golden ticket, I wasn't disappointed with the outcome. AND actually, I think coming away from this experience has made me MORE confident in myself and my singing! So how's that for a twist!

Here's my fake sad face that I didn't make it.

Up next in fear conquering: auditioning next Tuesday for a solo in my Sweet Adelines western show this month! Wish me luck, I hope I get this one. :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Unmolding batch #4: Peppermint and Eucalyptus soap

Yay, two days have passed! You know what that means... Happy unmolding day! :-)

This batch was the first time I did two pours with different colors. I was hoping to get a cool swirly effect by sticking my spatula into the mold and "mixing" the two pours together... Here's what I saw when I pulled the paper down the sides... It's not looking so swirly yet...

(* The peppermint flakes I used here were compliments of my friend, Chatti! Check out her blog if you need an awesome photographer and live in CA!) :-)

Here is the first cut! I think I did it wrong, because it isn't swirled together like I had wanted. :( I am however, liking the little peppermint flakes mixed into the soap. I think it gives it a little texture and a cool natural look. :)

I was able to cut 14 bars from this batch.

I was trying to show in this next picture that no two bars are exactly alike! Some are more white, and some are more green.

Here's another picture of the bars.

Here is a view from the front of the bars sitting on their new home. They will be sitting here for the next 4-6 weeks curing and drying out! (Technically, they will only be sitting here for about 10 more days, because I'm moving! Not sure how that's going to play out exactly, but I'll make it work!)

Here's a shot of the bars from the back. Don't you just love them? I do. :-)

Even though I didn't get the swirly effect I was going for, I am still really digging the way these guys turned out. :) They smell so minty! (It's a mix of candy canes and halls cough drops! Yum! lol)

Thanks for stopping by! :-)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Batch #4: Peppermint and Eucalyptus cold process soap

Hey everyone, I'm baaaaaack!

After taking 2 weeks off from soapmaking, I got back in the kitchen today to make some more! I took my first recipe and tweaked it a little bit, in order to make it slightly larger and to switch out the sunflower oil for something new! I like trying new things. :)

So what is new this time, you ask? Well, I decided to try using walnut oil, I added peppermint leaf flakes, and used peppermint and eucalyptus essential oils.

The ingredients for this recipe are as follows: olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, walnut oil, castor oil, water, lye, peppermint essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, peppermint flakes, titanium dioxide, and green chrome oxide.

As you can see from my ingredients, this soap will be 100% natural!

After I added my lye water to my oils (which had titanium dioxide mixed in to whiten my soap), I waited until I got to light trace and added my peppermint essential oil. Then I added in my peppermint flakes for some texture.

I then took about 60-70% of my mixture (rough estimate) and poured it into my loaf mold.

With the mixture I had left over in my bowl, I added green chrome oxide and eucalyptus essential oil. It sort of turned a much more radioactive green than what I was going for... I'm hoping it will make a nice contrast. :)

Then I poured my green mixture on top of the white mixture and I stuck my spatula into there and tried to swirl it. (I've never tried this before and to be honest, I'm not even sure that I did it right) We'll see what happens when I unmold it, I'm hoping it turns out really cool! Then I sprinkled peppermint flakes on top for that added finishing touch. :)

Check back on Wed. when I will be popping this bad-boy out of the mold! :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Soap batch #3: Unmolding time!!!

The past two days have gone by rather slowly, as I have been eagerly awaiting the time this batch with lavender essential oil and lavender buds would be coming out of the mold! Since I used a smaller recipe, this soap didn't completely fill up my 4 pound mold, so this batch is a wee little short one. ;) Each piece is 2.5 inches tall or slightly less...

Below is after I had popped it out of the mold. My excitement was building! I couldn't wait to cut these babies! Oh, did I mention this soap smells WONDERFUL?!? It's like visiting the botanical gardens!

Since this batch was shorter, I cut each bar slightly wider than usual. Each bar was a little over an inch and I cut 13 total this time (I usually get 16 bars).

Below is what the bars look like after they had been cut. To be honest, I was rather disappointed with each cut because the lavender buds in between each bar ended up sliding out of the soap and left these weird lines. :*( Any fellow soapers out there have any tips on how to NOT get these lines? I'm going to ask my trusty source, Bramble Berry. Anne-Marie is always so kind and helpful. :)

Here's another shot below with the lines... If you are wondering why there are little yellow spots, that's where the lavender buds were before coming out with my knife. Since the buds are organic material, they will always discolor the soap right around them.

Here's a shot of the bars on my drying rack! I know what you're thinking... I need another drying rack because I now have TWO batches squished in tight quarters to one another! I know people talk about scent swapping, which is a real thing (I have some going on right now in my bathroom cabinet!). This is when the soaps take on one another's scents at some point because they are too close. My guess is that the brown tropical vacation scented soaps on the right will take on the lavender scent because it's stronger... I decided to re-arrange my soaps after these next two pictures. ;)

front view of my little soldiers lined up and ready for battle!

Here's after I re-arranged the soaps. I feel much better having them like this on my drying rack. :)

I honestly want to make another batch tomorrow, but I have nowhere to put them! It may be time to drive on over to Goodwill and try to find some cheap racks and other supplies!

I was also rather excited today when I found out (10 months late!) that one of my plaid soaps was featured in a blog post on the Soap Queen website! Here's the link.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend! :-D

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cold process soap: Batch #3 with my own recipe!

Howdy Folks! 

Since my last slightly disastrous post where my soap came out less than perfect due to a discoloring oxide (and too much humidity), I was a little discouraged to try again. But I couldn't just allow one error to get the best of me, so I took a few weeks off and decided to try something new today... 

This time, I decided to make a 2 pound batch so I wouldn't need to use two molds. 

I took the recipe I normally use and made some modifications to it, which included changing the percentages of oil, as well as adding in a totally new oil (sunflower!)! I also added titanium dioxide to try and get my soap as white as possible, and this was my first time using essential oils and botanicals in cold process! 

(I want to give a shout-out to my super awesome friend, Chatti for giving me a WHOLE box of soap supplies, some of which I used today in this batch! I appreciate it soooooooooo much!) :-D

Here's what my recipe consisted of today (in no particular order): olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, water, lye, sunflower oil, titanium dioxide, lavender essential oil, and lavender flower buds!

I won't bore you with the process today (if you want to see the process, you can look at this previous post), but here's a picture in between stirrings of the lavender buds!

I also saved some of my lavender buds to pour on top of the soap to give it a more "natural" look. I think it turned out pretty cool (so far).  If you click the pictures, you can see them better. ;)

I can't wait to un-mold this bad-boy in two days to see what the inside looks like! I'll take pictures for everyone to see! :-D

Monday, May 23, 2011

Unmolding soap batch #2

Yesterday, I wrote a post on my second cold process experience which took place last Friday. I also unmolded the soap yesterday! Here is what I found...

I'm not exactly sure why parts of the top turned white... I just ended up cutting that part off to make the top more visually appealing.

First, I popped out the bad-boy that was in the blue silicone mold! I actually found this mold at Goodwill for less than $2! Don't you just love the little squiggly lines on top???

In this picture, I cut the end off so the soap would have a smooth look on both sides. I got some weird marble look towards the bottom of the soap. I think it gives it a cool "natural" look! And next to the soap is the surplus purple oxide I used. I was hoping to get some variation of that purple color. It wasn't even close! ;)

I was able to get 8 bars from this mold! The soaps all weigh 3.4 oz or more (at least for now, until all the water evaporates from them and they lose some of that).

Next up was the big log mold! Remember the white stuff on top? It's gone since I cut it off and I got a cool marbly look! It sort of makes me think of Smacks cereal!

And bar #1 has been cut from the mold! You can't really see it all that well, but the bars cut from this batch also had a little marble look inside each bar! (I just think it's really cool since I wasn't going for a marble look at all) :)

I was able to get 16 bars cut from this mold. Those are little air bubbles that you see below. The mixture was SOOO thick when I poured it, I did try to tap the mold on the counter to get the bubbles out. I guess I wasn't completely successful.

Here are all the bars in their new home for the next 4-6 weeks!

If you look closely below at the bar in the front from the blue silicone mold, you will see something that looks like blubber on the left side. I think this was fragrance oil that didn't get completely mixed in (by the time I added the fragrance oil, the mix was already a THICK pudding consistency so it was hard to get it all mixed in). This was the only place I found this through all of the cuts I made in the soap (which I was pretty excited to find. I thought it would have been much worse!). I can report today that the yellow color below is starting to blend with the rest of the bar.

Since it is really difficult to tell what color these soaps are, I decided to take a picture of my first batch (oatmeal, milk, and honey scented) on the left next to this new batch (tropical vacation scented). I think it is very brown, but my husband Todd said it looked army green to him. He also said they look "organic" so they have that going for them. ;)

Even though I didn't quite get the pinkish/purple color I was going for in this batch, I think overall these soaps still turned out pretty nicely. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cold process soap: Batch #2!

On Friday, May 20 I attempted my second batch of cold process soap. Since my first batch turned out perfectly, I wasn't expecting anything less for this one... ;) I did encounter some slight issues, but I will go into that later...

For this batch, my ingredients list included olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, water, lye, tropical vacation fragrance oil, glycerin, and surplus purple oxide (which ended up being a mistake).

Here is a visual of all my ingredients before I weighed them out.

The next step is to weight out the water and lye crystals. As Norm Abram from The New Yankee Workshop ALWAYS says... "There is no more important safety rule than to wear these -- safety glasses." It is VERY important and a MUST in order to keep lye fumes and flakes out of your eyes!

Next, I took my lye and my water outside and mixed them together. Mind you, this water was ROOM temperature before I added the lye to it. It is 188 degrees!!! CRAZY chemical reactions going on here. ;)

While I was waiting for this to cool down to about 120 degrees, I mixed all my oils together and heated them up.

When the lye water and oils were about 10 degrees of each other (the oil was about 120 degrees and the lye water 130 degrees), I mixed them together with my trusty stick blender! (Thanks mom! :-D)

Now I'm not exactly sure what was different with this batch because up until this point, EVERYTHING I had mixed together was the same as the last batch. For some reason, this batch reached trace within a few minutes. Last time it took 10-15 minutes of mixing to get to that point... Almost immediately, I added my surplus purple oxide and glycerin to the mixture. I was hoping to get a nice pinkish color for this soap since it is tropical scented. By the time I had mixed all the color in, it wasn't quite what I had hoped for but it would work. Quickly, I added my fragrance oil and the mixture was getting really thick by now. I just tried to mix it as fast and as well as I could before pouring it into my molds...

Here is when I poured them. I made some nice little swirlies on top of the soap in the wooden mold and I was SOOO proud of myself. I just tried to smooth everything out in the blue mold since you are actually looking at the bottom of the soap. This is a cake mold so the top has cute squiggly lines on it.

After I poured them, I carefully covered them and wrapped them in towels. I checked on them an hour later to see if they were going through gel phase... OMG! I almost lost it! My orangey-pinkish soap had turned into brownies! AAAHHHH!!!! If you look closely at the wooden molded soap, you'll see my cute little swirlies disappeared. This made me sad because I spent like 5 minutes trying to get that look. I was confused because I used PURPLE oxide and somehow it turned brown...

I immediately contacted Anne-Marie from Bramble Berry to find out why this happened since she is my supplier. She informed me that the purple oxide I used is THE ONLY oxide they sell that isn't stable through the chemical process that takes place when making cold process soap. SERIOUSLY?!? Leave it to me to use THE ONLY oxide that discolors. How wonderful... :-/

I checked on it again a few hours later... The good news is that it browned all the way through, so it wasn't going to be multi-colored and weird looking...

So for anyone out there with the SURPLUS purple oxide from Bramble Berry, BE CAREFUL in cold process soap! You will get a brown color (and I didn't even use that much!).

I just popped them out of the molds today... Check back tomorrow for the post and lots of pictures!