Monday, June 29, 2009

Scent Blending + Daughter Graduating

In the mold today...Isle of Skye, inspired by To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf...summer pears ripening on a tree off the coast of Scotland while ocean waves crash on the shore.

On the blending shelf...
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald...a starlit celebration toasted with champagne and strawberries
Emma by Jane Austen...strawberries ripe for the picking on a trip to Donwell Abbey with a touch of English ivy
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett...a bouquet of sun touched flowers amid a summer garden
Old Man & the Sea by Ernest Hemingway...salty ocean air with a spicy blend of citrus, sea kelp, clove and driftwood

Making today: Lip Lusters
Red Delicious Apple
Juicy Lemon
Green Tea

On a personal note, my oldest daughter graduated from high school this weekend, along with 360 + classmates. Congrats to the Class of 2009.

P.S. The winner of my mini birthday giveaway was announced in this post.
Congrats to the winner, Audrey!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Grand Opening of Latherati - FREE SHIPPING

Run on over to the Latherati etsy shop to check out the grand opening! FREE SHIPPING on all orders. I have 5 kinds right now and more on their way. Currently, I'm working on:

To the Lighthouse
The Good Earth
The Secret Garden

Also, new lip lusters are coming soon!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Birthday Girl + mini giveaway - WINNER ANNOUNCED!

Edited 6/29/09: I used a random number generator to pick a winner this time and it's number 6 - Audrey ~~~ Congrats! You will receive a FREE lip luster. Thanks for playing ;-)

Today is my birthday. I am 39 but feel 25 ;-)

My big plans for the day are:

1. make soap
2. finish The Other Boleyn Girl
3. get ready for my daughters high school graduation on Saturday
4. take the kids strawberry picking

Sounds like a perfect birthday to me, no?

I think it warrants a little mini giveaway from Latherati (for my followers only). My focus for the next couple of days will be some new lip lusters. Leave a comment on this post and on Monday, June 29th, I will pick a number and the winner will get a FREE lip luster.

Happy Day to you all!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wednesday Book Club - The Other Boleyn Girl

Yesterday, I suggested forming a small book club here at the Latherati blog, to discuss the Challenge winning book, The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. To start it off, I will pose a few questions regarding the book here and, if you are reading along, you are welcome to post comments on this post.

I'm not sure it will work but I'd like to try. The problem may be that I devote a large amount of my time reading and will probably get through the book faster than others but I suggest we set aside two Wednesdays per book for discussion. Wanna try??

I started reading The Other Boleyn Girl yesterday. I'm half way through the book! Here are my thoughts so far and a few questions for you...

Personally, I love all the drama in this book. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres so this was an exciting book to start off the book club. Set in the 1500's in England, the Boleyn sisters are basically pawns in a game set to have one of them become the Queen of England and to further advance the family's standing. The current queen, Queen Katherine, has failed to produce an heir to the throne. Mary Boleyn, an already married woman, is commanded by her father and uncle to become the King's mistress and produce an heir, trying for the position of Queen, while every effort is made to toss Queen Katherine aside. I find it tragic, with Mary's temperament leaning toward true love as opposed to family advancement, that she is the sister chosen for this mission.

Here are some questions for you:

1. How do you feel about the Boleyn sisters being used to advance the family?
2. What do you think Anne truly feels for her sister?

Feel free to add your own thoughts, answer the questions or what have you ;-) Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

and the WINNER is...

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory submitted by J. Brown, aka newfangled! Congrats! She will receive two bars of soap & a lip luster inspired by the book.

The winner was randomly chosen using the antiquated "pull a piece of paper from a basket" method. No fancy random number generators for us ;-) My apprentice was assigned the task.

71 books total were submitted along with 11 extra entries. I am overwhelmed with all the fascinating and diverse titles suggested. I want to thank all those who entered offering up their favorite books for me to consider.

I will be picking up The Other Boleyn Girl from the library today, read it, post a book review and dream up a batch of soap and lip luster. How exciting!

New idea! I would love for you to join me in a BOOK CLUB featuring The Other Boleyn Girl (and future Challenge winners). I will post every Wednesday about the current winning book and will welcome comments, discussion, etc.

If you can't find a copy of the winning book at your local library, you might want to join PaperBackSwap.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Award for Latherati + Happy Father's Day

The Latherati blog was given an award by Pink Lily Creations, a sweet etsy shop that sells darling baby items like pacifier clips, baby mitts and diaper pins. Thank you, thank you...I am honored to receive this award :-) You can find the Pink Lily Creations blog here
I'm passing this award along to the following blogs:
1. Dinner with Picasso
2. Eva's House
3. Andrew's Reclaimed
4. Cabin + Cub
5. Kind over Matter
6. Pretty {much} Art
7. Jellybeans
8. Susan's Greetings
9. Moondoggie
10. The Peppermint Forest
11. 10 One World
12. Bohemian Butterfly
13. Favoleggiare
14. Random Lunacy
15. The Craft Begins

Big hugs go out to all the amazing fathers out there! HAPPY FATHER'S DAY

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Book Review

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
A poignant story about Lily Owens, a girl coming into her own while dealing with an abusive father and vague & disturbing memories of her deceased mother. The adventure begins when Lily's African American caretaker, Rosaleen tries to register to vote, a newly earned freedom from The Civil Rights Act. Set in the 1960's, prejudice is still strong and a violent incident sets the stage for a quick getaway.

Lily and Rosaleen run away to Tiburon, South Carolina, in search of clues that will help Lily learn more about what happened to her mother. They find their way to a bee farm and meet the "calendar sisters", May, June and August Boatwright, perveyors of Black Madonna Honey. They are welcomed into the sisters' lives and soon find purpose and meaning working on the farm. Learning the truth about her mother, Lily puts a painful past to rest and can finally see a future of hope and acceptance.

This heartwarming story is about hope and the strength & struggles of women and overcoming negative life events. Bravo!
Queen Bee soap

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Labels and Packaging, oh my

I am by no means an expert label maker...nor do I have a fancy program...I use good old-fashioned MS Word...and I must say, after much tweaking (to the very point of frustration and many lost hairs on my head!), I have finalized (well, at least for now ;-) my labels and packaging.

I came up two different packaging ideas for my bar soap (they look like little books!) and haven't decided which one to use...perhaps I'll use both. The boxes would be great for shows, etc. as the boxes really protect the soap. But I just love my soap wraps that tie...perhaps I'll use those for mailed orders and boxed gift sets.

A few tips (after tons of trial and error) on my labeling process:

Like I said, I use MS Word. The backgrounds are scanned endpapers from antique books (makes it more authentic, no?). One of my favorite parts of this process is scouring old used bookstores hunting through the stacks & tracking down those lovely (pre-copyright!) endpapers. I clean them up using my photo editing program, then copy/paste them into my document. You can adjust your margins to get more labels on a sheet. I then add boxes, lines, text, etc. using the Formatting Palette until I'm satisfied and then they are saved.

As for the lip balm, I use these full size white gloss sheets . I also use these for the soap box labels.

You can buy labels specifically sized for lip balms but my printer never wants to cooperate and they never line up quite right. But here's my secret: Use the lip balm label template (it's the 1.9 x 2.5 label template) but remember, you're using the full sheet size. I then design my labels (again in Word) and once ready to print, I remove the black guidelines (because they never line up right either!), then print, cut and label. Oh and one more tip to further prevent smudging: Change your printer settings to: gloss photo paper and on a Normal ink setting. **** Ta-Da!

I hope this helps some of you with your labeling needs. It may not be the most professional but I'm very happy with it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I have an apprentice

My 11 year old daughter has been wanting to learn to make soap with me. Now, considering how dangerous and "chemically involved" it is, she will have limited involvement with the actual process.

Her real interests lie in the R&D arena, specifically scent blending and the reading of great books. She will oversee the fragrances, colors, additives, etc. of the Childrens Book section. Like me, she is a book lover...always has her nose in a book. We do not go anywhere without her being supplied with a few choice books.

So far, she's been working on these books:

1. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl - now this is an obvious scent choice... peach, of course
2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl - again, an obvious choice...scrumptious chocolate
3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett - a lovely floral garden with hints of green
4. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - still working on this one but no doubt, it'll be something magical
5. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery - working on this one too
6. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson - oh, this will surely be bubblegum!

Keep in mind that although these are children's books, we will use the same base recipe as my "adult" books...they will just have some input from my new apprentice :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

FREE soap challenge!!!! CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED - Winner has been chosen!!!

Get ready for a fun CHALLENGE!!!
Here's how it'll go:

To Enter: Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite book (include the author too!). Winner will be chosen by random number and will be notified by email (don't forget to include it!). I'll read the book, write up a review that will be posted here and make a batch of soap (and a lip luster!) inspired by that book.

The Prize: The winner will receive two FREE bars from that batch plus a FREE lip luster.

The Rules: Suggest as many books as you like
(if you're like me, you have more than one favorite ;-)

To earn Extra Chances:
1) Blog about this CHALLENGE with a link to this post, then post link here
2) Become a Follower of the Latherati blog

Challenge ends June 22, 2009, 9:00 pm eastern time.

Ready, set, CHALLENGE me!!!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Funnel Swirl Attempt

Yesterday, I made my "Kimono" soap, inspired by Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. The scent is a very "green" blend with Matcha tea (the authentic tea served by real Geisha), touches of bergamot, lemon, sandalwood, orange flower, just a drop of rose and finally a touch of willow.

I know I promised pics of the process but let me tell you, I had to work quickly and had no time to stop and shoot. I suppose I was in over my head trying 5 colors for my first funnel swirl attempt. Oh, but how fun it was! I will give credit where credit is due and link you to here --->

I had no luck finding a funnel large enough but I did find a solution - a soda bottle! I just cut the top off for the funnel...worked great. The trick is to pour at a fairly thin trace, otherwise it's just too thick and you won't get a pretty design. I'm happy with how this attempt came out but was hoping for a little more...pizazz, having five colors and all. I like, though, how all the bars are different showing various colors and patterns.

Overall, a fun time yesterday in the soap studio :-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Good news...Bad news

Well, the good news is my "Orchard" soap (inspired by The Cider House Rules by John Irving) is out of the mold, cut, smelling divine and curing nicely. I have to figure out a way to keep my pretty peaks on the top and not have them getting smooshed by the plastic wrap. Any suggestions?

On a sad note, our dearly loved bunny Lulu aka "Bunz" died this morning. We noticed yesterday she was acting out of sorts, actually allowing us to just pet her and love on her. Normally, she does not behave this way. She'll put up with us petting her more a micro-second, then she's on her way. I had a feeling we might lose her in the night and sure enough, she is gone. We will miss you sweet Lulu :-(

Back on a happy note, I'll be making my "Kimono" soap today, inspired by Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I'll be attempting a new swirling/layering technique which is really very brave of me seeing as I don't judge my swirling skills to be the best. This soap will have five (yes 5 !!!) different colors and I'll be pouring them through a funnel...a little bit of this color, then a little bit of that...until it's all in the mold. I'll try to post pics of the process but I'm thinking this technique has to be done quickly before the soap sets up too much. But I will try :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On the curing rack and In the mold...

Curing now is "My Antonia" by Willa Cather. I'm thinking of calling it "Prairie" after the Nebraska prairie lands. Think: swaying stalks of hay touched by the sun, with hints of sunflowers and just a touch of bergamot, lemon and oakmoss. Mmmmm :-) I made this soap swirled; however, I am severely lacking in swirling skills but I sure do love the challenge!

Today I am making "The Cider House Rules" by John Irving. He is one of my favorite authors. This batch will be either a layered or swirled soap using cream, green & red. Think: apple orchard (of course!) with a touch of the Maine coast. Will probably name this "Orchard". I like using just one word names but it probably won't always be so.

OK, so here's an idea I had the other day. I'll throw it out there and you can let me know your thoughts on it. I'm thinking of doing custom batches of soap inspired by YOUR story. Maybe you honeymooned in the Caribbean or trekked through the Adirondack mountains just to prove you could or perhaps you took a whirlwind trip through Paris. Tell me your story and inspire me! Packaging/labels will reflect the story.

I'm also showing you some pics of my rose bush. I love the tiny drops of dew on the leaves. They are so delicate and feminine.

That's all for today. My lye/water is just about to the temp it needs to be and my soap is waiting to be made. :-) Happy thoughts go out to you today.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Busy day yesterday...

Yesterday was very productive. Here are some pics of my "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" by Thomas Hardy soap freshly poured and then out of the mold. You may notice the orange speckles. I think what happened was my goats milk burned. Milk soap is tricky. I freeze my milk until it's slushy and then slowly add the lye, all while it's sitting in an ice bath. This usually does the trick to keep temps down but for whatever reason, this was not enough. The spots don't harm the soap but I'm left wondering what I should do with this batch. I'll leave it to cure and see what happens. It may be going out to family and friends only. They are my guinea pigs and are always happy to get free soap from me :-) The scent is wonderful though...a blend of creamed butter, fresh milk and a touch of lavender...heaven!

I thought you might like to see my little "blending shelf". My method is probably not the most accurate nor professional but it works for me. What I do is dip a Q-tip into each fragrance oil I plan on using in the blend, starting with 1 "part" of each. These go into a glass amber bottle with a sticky note noting the book and the ratios. I add more "parts" as I see (smell!) fit until it is absolutely perfect. Then I make up the blend and let it meld for a few days. Ta-da!

I also did some lip balm testing yesterday and am very happy with the results. I tend to like a waxier feel to my lip balm as opposed to a slippy glide. It stays put on the lips better. I don't know how others feel about that so if you have an opinion, please share. I may up the mango butter just a tad. Check out the cool filling tray. This helps tremendously and is much less messy than my previous method (wrapping a rubber band around a bunch of tubes). They just need to be cleaned up on their tops and labeled. I'm still working on labels. Labeling can be challenging, especially with my limited knowledge. I make all my labels in MS Word. One of these days, I'll learn a label program but for now, I'll just keep tinkering away on Word.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Lovely weekend...good finds

I always look forward to Spring, not only because central NY weather is gorgeous...mild, sunny and everything "greens" up after the drab colors of winter...but because it also means the kick off of weekend garage sales. I hit a few this weekend and scored some treasured old childrens books with, you guessed it...very pretty end papers. YAY!

I'm a big fan of G.A. Henty books and I picked up "Through the Fray", a tale of the Luddite Riots. Henty books are adventure stories, usually revolving around a boy during tumultuous times. The stories are historically accurate so it makes for a great history lesson. They might be compared to the "Dear America" series of today (although these typically have girl characters)

My other score was "Pleasant Hours for Home and School", published 1888, which includes "dialogues, pantomimes, mock trials, tableaux, charades, illustrated ballads and Memorial Day exercise". I get so giddy over descriptions like this :-)

No soapmaking over the weekend as I spent the better part of it in Canandaigua for a friends birthday party. We started off with a glass of Riesling and yummy appetizers while enjoying the view and breeze off the Canandaigua Lake. We then moved to an authentic Mexican restaurant/bar for more wine and our beloved 80's music as a nod to our impending 40th birthdays coming up within the next couple of years.

So, what do you think of the pics I took for my etsy shop? I knew I wanted old books as the background so I set them up, then placed the bars of soap on them and took a few shots. I think I'll also take a few pics of the soap in their packaging as I've come up with two different packaging ideas and I think they both work well.

Friday, June 5, 2009

On the curing rack and In the mold...

Queen Bee is unmolded and cut; curing nicely. Smells divine...warm and cozy. I love the texture of the top.

I made my Pride & Prejudice soap yesterday. Here it is in the mold. I made it a layered soap of white and creamy yellow with a slight swirl. Scented with a delicate blend of honeysuckle and lemon with hints of musk, mandarin and a touch of cedarwood and leafy green notes. I also sprinkled calendula petals on top for a little added interest and texture. Lovely, isn't it? Now, I just need a name for it. Lizzy perhaps?

No soap making for me today. A friend of mine and I are heading out to another friends birthday party. We'll be tenting it in her backyard, complete with bonfire and s'mores. What could be better?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In the mold...Queen Bee

The Queen Bee is in the mold! This delightful honey soap was inspired by The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Now, I'll admit, this probably isn't considered a classic (yet!) but it's a book I love and it was one soap that was to be a single note fragrance (honey!).

So, while my other fragrances are in the lab, melding and blending into that perfect scent, I thought I'd make my honey soap. Real, rich, moisturizing honey blended into my base recipe of olive, coconut, palm, rice bran and castor oils, along with creamy shea butter; scented with the best honey fragrance around, bringing a warm, sweet scent, this bar will surely make your skin feel luxurious (just like Cleopatra who is reported to have taken milk and honey baths)

The photos show the basics of soapmaking. Pic 1: the lye/water being added to melted oils; Pic 2: the soap mixture at trace; Pic 3: in the mold!; Pic 4: specific to my honey soap, I add a layer of bubble wrap on top to give it a honeycomb texture (I found this tip on the web at various soaping sites - thanks to those who posted it!)