Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oooo, Skin So Smooth!

Another Alyah Au Naturelle Creation! Muahhaah!
(Okay, no more evil laugh)

I've made three Aloe Vera Lavendar  bars (not for sale, but because we're out of soap).  Which is why they are unusually thick.  I'm contemplating saving this recipe for the shop once it's finally up.  I enjoyed it.  Making it and trying something new.  I didn't use Aloe Vera juice or jelly at the store, I bought a large aloe leaf, made aloe juice, mixed in a preservative and walla! Creamy smooth, aloe vera bars!

Such a messy job

Aloe Juice mixed with a preservative

French milling, doesn't it look like something to eat haha

Joyous Soaping!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Back-to-basics never felt so....TOUGH

Am I crazy?  Well...maybe just a littleSo what's up with the washing board and tin bucket?  I've just swapped my life of fast,convenient washing machines so the laborious life of washing my clothes with a little time and elbow grease.  Well, at least this time my husband didn't look at me like I was crazy.
As you can see through my various posts, I'm slowly making the transition to "simple-life", in phases.  I started the soap making (by the way, making a coconut bar batch TODAY--hopefully if life doesn't decide to derail my plans), started knitting (still haven't finished the one from my last post, because once again, life decided it didn't want me to), and now this, washing my clothes by hand! 
Not only does this method save TONS at the laundry mat, I get some eerie satisfaction knowing that I just may very well be doing what my mother did as a kid.  Which is comforting.  And I may gain a little muscle mass on the arms too!
As I said in my very first post, this blog is mainly about my soapy adventures but also my crazy back-to-basics style.  I haven't fully transitioned but I am getting there
(by the way I will be using the lye base flakes I use for my French milled batches! Versatile and saves MOOONAAYY).  
1.  You save money: I put that first because who in the world doesn't want to save money? Especially in these hard economic times.  On average we spend about 20 dollars a week (around 80 dollars a month) on laundry. Not to mention how much money we've lost for nothing because the management NEVER labels the broken washers and the dryers that do not dry AT ALL. That's 80 dollars we can be doing something else with.  For a measley 16 bucks (the amount my wash board costs), you get a sturdy galvanized washing board, bringing our expenses down to around 3-5 dollars a week, and once we move and we transition to clothes lines, 0 dollars a week.

2.You have a back up in any critical event: One thing I remember was the Blackout of 2003, and how we couldn't do a darn thing for about a day or so.  Life stood still, and because our reliance on all things electrical, life pretty much sucked.  We've had many power outages since then, just in our own neighborhoods and life still sucked.  Let's face it, sometimes technology fails, and if we don't have some type of non-technological device we are stuck.  That's what I like about back-to-basics, it may take a little more time and effort, but you'll never be stuck.

3.  Natural and supports "Green" living: You are eliminating how much electricity is used each month which is always awesome for "green" people.  I am living "green" by default just because I like simple living, although I really didn't consider this aspect of it when I bought the board.
4. Reusable: If you get a sturdy galvanized wash board you'll have it for quite sometime.  Galvanized steel and metal can endure much more wear and tear (and it won't cost you a pretty penny to replace like it would a washer or dryer).
1. Effort and time: I would be a liar liar pants on fire if I said that this lifestyle was easy, especially since we've become so accustomed to having things fast and simple.  Things like washing by hand are hard and take a diligent effort.  But there are ways to get around it.  Just don't allow things like clothing to pile up to like 8 loads (like I did once and boy was that day terrible).
I can't really think of too many cons except being a time consumer (which like I said can be fixed with a little diligent effort).  I will be posting my experience soon (this will be my first time using a BOARD and not just my hands).
Joyous washing (and soaping )!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Since you've been gone...AHHH!

AHH! I've been so gone on this thing for quiet some time!!

But I'm sure you saw me mention in a previous post (somewhere around  here), I am busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy busy x 10^500000000 power!

So with that said.  Forgive me. 

My online classes are killing me! And I've been working non-stop.  But the great news is:


New soap ideas; polishing up my skills; working on a website and a whole rubber band ball of tutorials.  So stay tuned amateurs!

Now if only I could manage multitasking a bit better.  But I'm getting there.

I may be posting quite a bit more to keep updated content.  Hopefully the posts that are up, you've enjoyed, and take comfort in the fact that I'm not going anywhere!

Joyous soaping!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Infusing Oils

One of the things I like, is herbs herbs, and MORE HERBS.

Herbs are nature's healers and comforters.  And if you haven't already guessed, my household is only Au Naturelle, from our cleaning supplies down to our medicine cabinet.

One of the most interesting things I have done is that I have began infusing oils.  I found this awesome wholesale company called Frontier where I was able to buy herbs in bulk.  They have a wide selection of herbs, and also coupons for repeat customers.

Infused oils can be used in soapmaking, but not just for their scent quality, but their benefits.  They can also be used as natural colorants, depending on the herb that is used.

You can liken infused oils to the making of tea.  When you boil regular water with a specific herb, what occurs to the water?  The herb infuses with the water.  So, let's take chamomile for instance. Both German and Roman Chamomile are wonder herbs, said  to calm frayed nerves, treat various digestive disorders, relieve muscle spasms, and to treat a range of skin conditions and mild infections.  In the same way you can transfer these same benefits to a carrier oil, such as olive oil or grapeseed oil.  From there, it can be used as a massage oil or in soap.

If you decide to infuse your own oils, it's best to use Grape-seed oil.  Why? Because the aroma is virtually not there.  I once used Extra Virgin Olive Oil to infuse Peppermint Oil, and although I could smell a lovely peppermint aroma, the olive oil aroma stuck around ( and I mean STUCK AROUND).  If you are going to use olive oil I recommend using a less virgin oil.

I also recommend using dried herbs because it reduces the molding factor.  And trust me, you DO NOT want to wake up one morning and see a mason jar full of fuzzy nasties.  Fresh herbs are great, but make sure that they are slightly wilted, washed, and dried before placing them in any oil.

So, now, you may want the instructions right?  I have made three batches of infused oils recently, so if you want to start, and don't want to use the herbs I talk about today, be sure to research the benefits and properties of the oils and herbs you are using, to find what's best for you.

Get three sterilized mason jars and get started.  It's sooooo easy.  Get some herbs, a carrier oil, and whatever amount you are using, make sure you use enough oil to cover them.

Rose Pedal Infused oil:
Rose Pedals are used for their skin softening and soothing properties.
In this batch I used dried rose pedals, and it's on what I call its second strength cycle.  When you make IOs, you can use solar infusion or heat infusion.  Solar infusion just involves placing the herbs in a carrier oil, and letting it sit in a sunny window for a while.  The more days you leave it, the more potent it will be. Hot infusion just involves sticking the mason jar (after you have your herbs and oil in it it) in hot water (kind of like how you boil tea).  You can also make the oil more potent by repeating the process every few weeks.  So I did the hot process, then let the roses sit for a few weeks.  Then, I strained out the roses, and put a new batch of roses in it.  I'll keep doing this until I get to the potency I want.

Peppermint Infused Oil
I started out with a fairly yellow carrier oil, and as you can see, after the infusion process, the oil turned green.  It has a very STRONG menthol aroma, but that's what you want.  I'm considering putting this batch through a second cycle to make it a little stronger.

The menthol leaves a tingly feeling on your skin and is said to help stomachaches, colic and gas. The menthol also increases blood flow to the area when applied to the skin.

Apple Cinnamon:

Once again, I started off with a fairly yellow oil and the cinnamon and apple peels turned the oil amber.  I will definitely be putting this one through another cycle.  The cinnamon aroma is strong, but the apple has slightly diminished since I first made this.  For the apple scent its best to use dried apple peels, or you could use dried apple peel powder.  Cinnamon can be a skin irritant, but I've only experienced that with Cinnamon EOs, but can be very beneficial, and I've even heard of it being used to treat Eczema and itching skin when diluted or made into a paste.
So far I'm digging the oil infusion...
All material on this post is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.

Joyous infusing!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

I'm Feeling Knitty!!!!

Okay, it's been about two weeks since my last post.  I was on winter break (as well as I'm sure the rest of you were) and catching up on work and mommy time!  My daughter is talking more and more everyday!

But that's for another post...

So! I've been feeling a little bit, back-to-basics and have been itching to add another project to my 10,000 back-to-basics things I'm going to do before I die list. So, I took myself to Walmart, carefully strolled down each aisle, and when I came to the crafts aisle, I carefully inspected the merchandise.  Between the glitter-thing-a-gingies, and the ribbons whose-a-whats-its, there was so much to do, I could hardly decide!

Then, it hit me.  I stopped.  There was a pleasant looking woman dressed in a white outfit wearing a knit bolero and leg warmers.  She called out to me.  She said "I taught myself how to knit!"  The call was so strong that I picked up the magazine she was on, bought some knit needles, a HUGE ball of multicolored yarn and went home.

So for all you wives out there, here's where you may laugh because you may know what I'm talking about.

So after my Knitty adventure, I come home and my husband is there.  I unload the groceries.
"Look! Honey! Look what I got! I'm going to start knitting!"

Moment of silence.

"Ahhh, here you go again with this 'do-it-yourself'' stuff." 

He and I begin to laugh (after I prove my case on why I should knit).  And besides, he may just be thankful when it's time for him to have a new sweater.

So, I got started THAT NIGHT.  And I am very pleased to say that with reading Boye's I Taught Myself Knitting book, and watching the instructional DVD (more than once), I mastered the hand movements in two days.  As you can see, I need to work on making the knits tighter, but hey! I'm an amateur.

This post will kind of turn into a review. While the Boye's book helped, and it came conveniently with knitting supplies (with the exception of the yarn), the instructions were a bit confusing at times (maybe that was because of my brain).  It was much better to watch the DVD (even though the woman showing you how to knit, doesn't really slow down while she's "showing" a beginner to knit, then she laughs saying "I don't know how to go slow")  But after watching it a few times, then I was able to understand some of the instructions in the book.  The book comes with a lot of knitting ideas and instructions, and I can say that I have fun doing this now.

It's been a couple months since I started this, knitting is a slow process depending on your skill, but well worth the satisfaction you get (if you're like me) when it's finally completed, or even when it starts to look like a sweater.

So you maybe wondering what I'm making...I wonder that too.  Maybe a scarf I'm thinking, or maybe going to make a sweater.  But one thing is for certain, I hope I finish before winter is over.

Joyous knitting!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Beyond Soaping: Taking it One Day at a Time....

 So, I been thinking this week.  Pushing back the date which I had set for myself to start my business...great idea or no?

I was reading a post on Wahmtown and it only confirmed my thoughts, ummm...maybe you should.

I hit this startling revelation when I realized that I was jumping into this whole soaper thing head a steep cliff...

I have a lot of research to do.  And I have to be honest with myself about what I know.  I want my product to be unique and fresh, and I'm really wanting this business to turn out right.  But I need to expand my soapy mind database.  And besides, being a wife, a mommy, and not just a wife and a mommy, a STAY-AT-HOME, wife and a mommy who goes to university...leaves not that much time with soaping.  And plus


My daughter is growing up so fast, and I find myself setting aside a few play dates with my lab/kitchen just to make sure I don't miss not one  moment.  Between soap, hubby, house, more soap, and little papeechka (her nickie)  I don't know where my time is coming from!!!!

So I've written re-written, my business mommy plan:

Take it one day at a time...

Making money is great, but without the proper knowledge and skills, as a business, you will lose your integrity, honesty, and overall quality of the business itself and the product.  So my new plan, is to stop, remain level headed, and do my research first.


That TOTALLY doesn't mean I'm gonna stop making soap!! It just means, I'll totally be on top of my reasearch while making soap (and totally still posting it).  And the Etsy opening date will most likely be pushed back.

Monday, December 20, 2010

It's alive!!!!!

So aside from making soap for Etsy customers, I make soap for my family.  I made a basic lye soap recipe that didn't require much work or too much time. These were technically experiment batches.  But they worked out well for my husband and daughter.
I had:
6 cups of Lye soap flakes
3 Tbsp of water (for my daughter's soap)
1/2 cup of water (for the big guy)
1 oz Olive oil
1 oz Shea butter

So as you can see, this was a pretty simple rebatch recipe.  I wanted to test out whether I could get great soap using less water or using more:

I made two separate batches, using 3 cups each.  I used the "boiler bag" method where I just put the soap with the ingredients in a plastic bag and boiled it.  This method works fast if you have small amounts of soap.
I then added all shea butter to my husband's batch, and olive oil to my daughter's.  As you can see, the big guy's soap is OILY.  Simply because I totally didn't mix the batch up right.  The one with less water came out superb, save the fact that the Lye flakes didn't melt all the way.  But even so, it still added a nice little look to it.
The soap on the right eventually did dry, oil and all, and is very smooth and creamy.  The one on the left got my daughter's seal of approval and is hard, but has a very creamy lather.

So overall, my experiment came out great! And with each experiment comes new ideas for the actual customer soaps. I didn't add any fragrance, or smell, just regular functional soap, and I was actually suprised at the turn out.

See, mad scientists have all the fun.

Joyous soaping!!