Sunday, December 30, 2012

Flashback 2012

I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday! My husband and I went home to Florida for Christmas and spent time with family and friends. We visited some of our favorite hangouts, caught up with people we haven't seen in a while, and just enjoyed some down time. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of gifts, soap, and food. And I ate. A lot.

And I got an early Christmas surprise from Bramble Berry - my Christmas Cheer soap was selected as a winner in their Make-It-Monday: Christmas Schwag challenge! I am thrilled that my soap was included among so many other gorgeous soapy creations. Thank you to Bramble Berry for choosing and featuring my soap!

It's hard to believe that 2012 is almost gone. As New Year's Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the past year. In a lot of ways, things haven't changed much. In other ways, things have changed very much.

It's also hard to believe that I have been writing this little blog for almost a year now. I published my first post last January, hoping to share my little corner of the interwebs with other soaping enthusiasts. I am so grateful for all of the support from all of you who read this blog and follow my adventures on Facebook, Google+, and my YouTube channel.

As the year draws to a close and a new year approaches, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the soaps that I have made and blogged about over the past year.

Left to right, from top to bottom:

Left to right, from top to bottom:


Thank you again to all of you for coming along on this adventure with me. I am so happy with how this little blog has grown, and how it has allowed me to meet so many new soapy friends. I am looking forward to seeing what the coming year will bring!

Happy New Year, everyone! Have a wonderful 2013! And happy soaping to you all ...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Christmas Cheer Soap

Whew, the past couple of weeks have been so hectic! I've been out of town a lot lately and trying to get ready for the holidays. Over the last few days, I've been making my list and checking it twice ... to make sure that I get everything on it done before Christmas!

Every year, it seems like the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas just flies right by despite my efforts to slow it down. Sometimes I can almost hear a swooshing sound as the time rushes past me. The holidays really snuck up on me this year, though. I usually like to start shopping in October or November, and then have all of my presents wrapped as soon after Thanksgiving as I can. I put up our tree the day after Thanksgiving while my husband washes and waxes our cars (it's our goofy little tradition), and I enjoy seeing it decked out with gifts for as long as possible.

Our little Christmas tree
That didn't happen this year. The part about getting the gifts wrapped and under the tree early, I mean.

I just got most of the presents wrapped a couple of days ago, and I've still got all of my soapy gift bags to put together. I haven't even labeled the soaps yet, and you all know how long that can take. The best thing about being able to make my own soaps, though, is that it makes gifting easy. Soap for everybody, yay!

And I think everybody on my list will like this soap. I call it "Christmas Cheer," and it is scented with Rocky Mountain Christmas fragrance oil, which smells like a freshly-cut tree.

I started out by adding my fragrance oil to my cooled oils and then stickblending in the lye solution. Once I reached a light trace, I portioned off one cup of soap into three plastic measuring cups, which I had prepped by mixing my colorants with a bit of liquid glycerin. To my main batch, I added some titanium dioxide to whiten the soap. The fragrance oil has a bit of a yellowish tinge, so my soap turned out more of a creamy white than a bright white. For my other colorants, I used Bramble Berry's Gold Sparkle mica, Brick Red oxide, and Green Chrome oxide.

I poured my main white batch into my mold and then added the gold, red, and green soap. To get the teardrop effect, I poured the colored soap from high up, which allows the soap to sink well into the main base. I started by pouring some of the gold, and then the green, and then the red. Then I repeated the pattern again, alternating the colors. For the tops, I scooped out the remaining soap in alternating colors.

Here is a video showing how I made my Christmas Cheer soap:

My soap got a bit thicker than I would have liked, but it seems that the design did not suffer for it. My pours penetrated the surface of the soap nicely, and the thickness of the soap allowed me to play with texturizing the tops (which is not my strong suit). I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I cut into the soap, but I was very pleasantly surprised to see how beautiful it was inside! I am very proud of this soap and thrilled with how it turned out.

The only thing I was worried about was that maybe I had used a bit too much red oxide. When I cut into the loaf, the red dragged through the bars a bit. I cut the soap on its side to minimize the drag, but it made me think that I had overdone it with the red. After a few weeks of curing time, I tried a bar. The lather has a slightly pink tinge to it, but nothing major. I'll just have to warn everyone not to use their Dolce & Gabbana washcloths with this soap.

I'm looking forward to heading home next week and relaxing a bit before Christmas. What are you all doing for the holidays? Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a wonderful time with family and friends. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everyone!

(Oh, and remember my posts about Bramble Berry's "Givember" event thoroughout November? Well, Bramble Berry has announced the winners of the gift certificates! Congratulations to the winners!)