Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dia De Los Muertos approaches!

It's almost time for everyone's favorite Mexican holiday- Dia De Los Muertos is almost here!! Occurring on November 1st and 2nd, the holiday celebrates the memories of family and friends who have passed on to the other side. Here are some really great Day of the Dead-themed items I found on Etsy- enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I <3 these things today

No words, just pictures. Enjoy :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Speaking of giveaways...

I sent in my samples to It's All In The Bag today- 58 total, some with samples of solid scents, and others with discount code cards... I decided to double my contribution by adding about the same amount of discount cards as I did samples (which also come with discount cards!). If you don't know what the heck I'm talking about, it's a site which is collecting samples of handmade vegan goods and selling them in mixed bags, with proceeds from all sales going to an animal sanctuary! The bags sell for $35, including shipping, and are being sold for this holiday season. Check out the site and keep an eye out for them to become available- it's a great way to get little stocking stuffers, or just to sample a bunch of cool stuff yourself, relatively inexpensively. Here's what I sent in:

And... here's some more of my lovely cold process soap experiments...

Mayan Gold is the scent I used in this one, and I'm in love with both the scent and the way the colors came out- look at the weird crackling, it's almost as if the pigments withdrew from the soap and huddled together. It looks like fire :) I have the feeling that I won't be able to replicate the look of this one again though... *sad face* At less than 2 days old I was able to wash my hands with a small piece and my skin felt soft and smelled lovely- no lye burns, or even dryness. Just smooth, gently perfumed skin.

Here's Pink Sugar... in black! I added a bit too much fragrance oil, I'm still not sure where my mind was while I was measuring it out... the end result is a strongly scented bar of soap. It should still be okay, it'll just leave my skin a little *extra* smelly after washing :) Love the pink swirls, though!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More CP Soaps!

I've pretty much been spending any and all my free time the past week or so making more cold process soap. Yup, I've been bitten; I knew it would happen eventually. It's way fun, and I love experimenting with different oil/liquid combinations to see what happens. I've been keeping all my batches small, 1-1.5 lbs, until I figure out which recipe(s) I really want to focus on for my shop. For now, it's just playing :)

Here's what I've been up to:

This one came out really cool; the predominant oil used was unprocessed shea butter; I was trying to use up the last of what I had on hand so I could justify buying some of the processed kind. I know the unprocessed is better for your skin, but personally, I don't like the smell. I use the shea in my lip butter balm recipe, and
it's time to change it up a bit. I'll be ordering the deodorized version soon, and hopefully that will make the lip butter more palatable to me. I haven't heard anyone else complain about it, and in fact I know that some people enjoy the scent of raw shea butter, but it really irks me :P
SO anyway, this soap's got a funny berry-like scent to it, which was strange because I scented it with the most awesome blend of Indian sandalwood and some vanillas... it smelled SO GOOD while stirring it. After curing though, it's got an almost grapey smell. So... I won't be making CP with that scent blend again, which is unfortunate; at least I've still got my M&P soap :D. The bars came out nice and hard, after just 24 hours of cure time- can't wait to see how they do after a few weeks!

This one I'm not too sure about; it's my 3rd batch (ever) and it came out kinda funny. It took FOREVER to trace, and I poured it into the mold, still runny. It eventually gelled, and solidified, but it's got soap ash all over the top of it and it's still a bit spongey feeling. Granted, as I type this, it's less than a week old, so it's going to take some time to cure, but it just didn't seem to come out as well as my first and second soaps did. We'll see though, maybe it will be awesome.

This one came out so awesome, I'm totally psyched about it. It's a pumpkin beer soap, made with Saranac Pumpkin Ale, and scented with Sweet Pumpkin, and topped with a sprinkling of real pumpkin pie spice! The combination of the beer and the fragrance oil make this soap smell like fresh-baked pumpkin bread; it's absolutely divine. It even looks like pumpkin pie- I hope that when I go to replicate this one in a larger batch it comes out just as nice.
That's it for now; be sure to check back later- I have more pics of more soaps I need to upload!

Friday, October 23, 2009

So... it's giveaway time!

I've been thinking and thinking on this, and here's what I've decided- I'm going to have a giveaway right here on this blog as soon as I hit 100 blog followers. As I type this we're at 32, so we're like a third of the way there already. And once word of this gets out, it'll probably hit 100 in no time. SO... once this blog hits 100 followers, as soon as I realize it, I'll be drawing a name out of a hat. Well, actually I'll be assigning everyone a number, according to the order in which their names appear in my followers list, and I'll run a lotto through to determine the winner. And if there are 200 followers on the day I notice that I've gone over the 100 mark, I will include everyone's name/number, so don't worry if you get here and see that the blog follower count is at #159 or something- you'll still be in the running :)

What's the prize? A Priority Mail flat rate box, size small, full of stuff. From my Etsy shops stuff, not just random stuff I found under my bed (unless you want that kind of stuff, idk). Stuff like soaps, lip balms, solid scents (all vegan, mind you), jewelry and accessories, and even maybe super secret sneak peeks at things yet to come. Whatever I can fit in that box- I'm thinking I won't even pad it... though that might be a bad idea, on second thought. I probably should pad it- it would stink to win a box fulla stuff only to have it arrive with half of it damaged :(

How to enter: Follow my blog, and leave a comment here (with some way to contact you, email, twitter, it doesn't matter, whatever you're comfortable posting here is fine by me) on this post. That's it! Of course, you can help speed the process along by tweeting about this giveaway, or emailing your friends, or posting it on Facebook, etc, etc, but I'm far too busy to do what some other people do with their giveaways, giving "extra" entries for tweeting, or for making purchases, or for posting links on blogs, or whatever. I simply don't have the time to verify all that stuff, so I'm keeping it simple. Now, if draws the number which corresponds with your name, but you haven't commented here, I will choose another winner. Additionally, if the winner does not respond to my attempt to contact them (using the contact info they have posted here) within 3 days, I will choose another winner.Sorry, that's all part of my keeping it simple- I don't want to have to chase down any body so I can give them FREE STUFF.

Check out the Etsy shop (link over there to the right) to see examples of what you might could win, or check out these pics for an idea:

No guarantee as to what you'll be getting, but hey, it's free, right? Good luck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wax Seals!

Just got my new wax seal in the mail today- it's part of my whole "store packaging makeover" project that I've been slowly working on... one thing at a time, though, right?

Here, check it out:

I can't wait to get another order in so I can use this thing on something!

Friday, October 16, 2009


I have been meaning to post this for FOREVER, but it keep slipping my mind. Mostly because it comes to mind when I am away from the computer. Usually it happens while doing laundry. Homemade laundry detergent- a how-to! I've been making my own for, I don't know, about a year, year and a half now, using 3 main ingredients, plus fragrance. It's easy, it saves (tons) of money, it's more environmentally friendly than store bought detergents, and it's fun, because I can scent my laundry however the heck I want to and I get to control the strength.

Here's what you need:

-Arm & Hammer Washing Soda. It comes in a box that looks like a baking soda box but instead of being an orangey yellow it's a lemony yellow, and it's BIG. Big like a cereal box big. It's usually found in the laundry section at your local store, right next to this next ingredient...

-Borax. 20 Mule Team is the brand I buy, and it's also the only one I've ever seen, but I suppose that if you have another brand available to you, you could use that as well. Just make sure it's 100% Sodium Borate.

-Soap. Any old soap will do. You can use fancy handmade soaps, or you can buy the cheap stuff from the dollar store. I buy "Pure & Natural" made by the Dial Corp- it's hardly pure or natural, but it's (mostly) fragrance free, and it's hypoallergenic. It's also cheap- I hear they sell it at the dollar stores, in a 3 pack, for- you guessed it- a dollar! Heh, I get mine at the grocery store and pay less than $2 for my 3 packs though, so it's pretty cheap no matter where you buy it. You can get whichever soap suits your fancy- try some Fels-Naptha or that other one whose name I forget at the moment for an extra boost of clean, go to that fancy boutique up the street and buy some fancy scented soaps for your laundry because you need to pamper yourself, or buy Ivory because it's crazy cheap. My Pure & Natural turns into a fine powder when I rub it on the grater, and that's why I like it, but more on that later. I've also used Ivory and the laundry soap that's like Fels-Naptha but isn't... I really wish I could remember the name of that one.

-Fragrance (optional). Use something approved for skin contact; soap fragrances, for instance, are ideal, as are essential oils. You can get fragrance oils for soap at your local craft shop, or there are about a million places you can order them from online. Steer clear of candle fragrances unless you know for a fact that they are safe for use on skin- this detergent, like any commercially available one, may leave some of itself behind on your clothing, and you'll want to make sure that the scents you put in it aren't going to cause skin irritation.

Now, you're also going to need:
-A container to put the finished detergent in, and maybe a few extras to put extra soap in if you decide to plan ahead like I do. I store my unused shredded soap in large ziploc band plastic tubs- the really large "family size" ones so I can whip up a batch of laundry detergent in 30 seconds or less.
-Some way to grate your soap. I use an old-fashioned 4-sided cheese grater, and a lot of elbow grease. I tried this little cheese shredder thing with a spinny handle, but it didn't work very well for me. I hear some people use food processors, but if you do that, do you really want to use that thing for FOOD ever again? I sure wouldn't, and I don't see a need to own 2 food processors, so every 6 months or so, I shred up 3 bars of soap. By hand, using a cheese grater. It's a pretty good workout, I guess, and I can get it done in less than 45 minutes.

First off, you need to get your 3 main ingredients into powder form. The borax and the washing soda come this way, but your soap most likely does not. So, grab your chosen method of shredding, and get to it! I shred 3 bars of soap in a sitting, one at a time, but only so that I don't have to do it more than 3 times a year :) A little trick I've learned: dry soap shreds MUCH finer than fresh soap. So when I go and buy bars of soap for this purpose, I open them as soon as I get them home, and then stash them away. I probably won't use them for a few months, so they have plenty of time to dry out and get nice and hard. Then, when the time comes, I can take my dried out soap and scrape them on the finest side of the grater, and end up with powdered soap instead of shredded soap. This provides for a superior clean, as the soap will now dissolve readily in water, whereas large shreds might not fully dissolve in the wash, and could even end up leaving little soapy bits on your laundry! If your soap does come out shredded rather than powdered, don't worry- you can make sure it will dissolve in the wash by starting your load off with hot water (before adding your laundry), adding your detergent, then switching to warm water once your little soap bits have dissolved in the wash water.

Once your soap is shredded/powdered, all you need to do is take your 3 dry ingredients, measure out equal amounts of each one, and mix together. I use a cup of each, and put them all in a large glass jar, screw the lid on, and give it a good shake. You could use 1/4 cup of each if you were using a particularly small container, or 3 cups of each if you were making a really large tub of detergent. I've found the 1-1-1 ratio to be quite effective, though, so it's what I use.

If you want a scented detergent, add a few or a lot of drops of your chosen fragrance to your mixed detergent, and mix again. Keep in mind the base scent of your detergent, though- if you used a scented soap, you may not need to scent it, and you'll certainly want to keep the base fragrance in mind when adding scent to your detergent. This is why I use the Pure & Natural soap- it's got the tiniest bit of fragrance to it, and that disappears after about 2 drops of whatever fragrance I add. To my 1-1-1 cup detergent, I usually add about 3mL of fragrance, adding a few drops, mixing, adding a few more drops, mixing, etc, until it's all in the detergent. That way I don't get big clumps ;)

That's it- homemade laundry detergent. Easy as pie.

Use 1 Tbsp per load of laundry, or 2 for really dirty loads (I'm not sure on the exact amount one would use in one of those fancy high efficiency washers, but I hear it's usually half what you would use in a regular washing machine). Put it in your wash water as the drum is filling and let your laundry soak for 15 minutes before letting the machine run its cycle for a great presoak, or just toss it in and go. We have hard water, so I always add 1/4 cup or so of baking soda to every load so that the detergent can do its job on my clothes instead of wasting it on softening the water, but if you have decent water at your place you won't need to do that. This stuff works just as well, if not better than, the stuff we used to buy from the store, and it's so much more cost effective.

Just remember not to use the container you put your detergent in for anything else, ever again. Keep that in mind when selecting your container and you'll be all set.

Oh and if you want a cheap, natural fabric softener that leaves no residues or scents on your clothes, use white vinegar. Pour it into one of those "Downy" balls, up to the line and everything, and throw it in with the wash. The rinse cycle will rinse away the smell, so don't worry about that; the vinegar will soften your fabrics AND help to rinse out the rest of the detergent. The only thing it doesn't do that well is stop static, but vinegar actually softens clothes as well as any sheet fabric softener out there.

If anyone has any questions or additions to this, I'd love to read your comments! Have fun making your own laundry detergent!

Today I made soap

But not just ANY old soap, no... this is "real" soap, made with oils and lye and lots and lots of messes and mixing :) I failed to take any pics of the process, but I'll be sure to update this listing with pics of the results when I have them... as it's my first batch of cold process ever, there's no guarantee how it will end up- usable? garbage? the best soap ever made?

...Only time and saponification will tell, but so far everything seems to be going as it should. I mean, I HAVE spent the last 8 months or so reading and reading and reading about this. I'd hope that I'd be able to at least end up with usable, if not salable, soap on my first go round. It's a black bar, with swirls of red and gold throughout, or at least that's how it looked when I poured it into the mold.

Came up with a special new fragrance for it too- and as soon as supplies come in I'll be offering it in a solid scent in the Etsy shop, so you all can enjoy it before the soap is ready (assuming, of course, that the soap comes out awesome enough to sell, which it *may* not). A rich blend of scents: cracked coconuts and fresh limes dance amongst swirls of dark musky woods, hint of vanilla, and a sprinkle of powder. All I could think about when making this was Morocco. Which brought me to Tangier, which made me think Burroughs, then Kerouac, then- Desolation Angel was born.

Unfortunately I used up ALL of my coconut scent in the blend for the soap, and I was able to make just enough of it for the soap, but no more. I actually kinda lucked out that way, I guess- it could have ended up that I didn't have enough of this new fragrance to use in my soap, and then what would I have done? :) I was able to get a couple of drops out of the mixing container, and I made myself a sample size solid scent with this divine mixture, but no more shall be had until I get my scents back in stock. Which is a shame, because this tiny jar I have is very dilute and I fear it won't last me the 8+ days it's going to take for my stuff to get here. And the soap won't be ready for use for AT LEAST a month!! I don't know what I'll do in the meantime... this scent is amazing, and I don't usually say that about things that I make.

Anyway, time to go get some orders ready for shipping tomorrow- I'll be back to update this with pics when I can!!

Edit: Here's pics!! I couldn't wait, I had to cut into it a little early, and I took pics as I went. Man, I don't know how I'm going to deal with having to wait 4-6 weeks to use this stuff :( I'm no expert, but it looks pretty alright to me, and the scent survived the saponification process wonderfully... I could have poured it a bit sooner, I guess, to eliminate some of the bubbles I trapped, and I think next time I'll use activated charcoal for black rather than oxides, but overall I'm pretty happy with how it came out. Oh and I have to do more swirling on the next round, for sure. I thought I had overdone it- guess I was wrong!

Lookin' good, Desolation Angel, lookin' good.

Stacks and stacks! LOL Soaphenge.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I think...'s time to start a giveaway.

In time for Xmas?

What will it be?


How shall I proceed?

Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Etsy <3's me!

And I heart Etsy.


This has been an awesome week for my shop, being featured in both the Etsy Finds blog post (again) AND on the Front Page last night! Checking into Craftcult, this is what it looks like when you've actually got news ion the "Featured" tab:

It was pretty cool to see that.

I got a screenshot of the FP, too- I pretty much heart every item that was up there with me; anatomy is so freaking rad. LOL I also wound up buying from one of the sellers, CraftieRobot, so I guess that being on Etsy's front page IS good for business! Here's the entire collection, minus one- Wengergirl's mermaid skeleton teeshirt sold FAST. As well it should have; it was really cool.

Now, as far as results go, I wound up with 2 large sales last night right around the time I was on the FP. One of them, I'm not sure was a result of being on the front page, but the other one, I'm pretty sure, came from there. I also had a potential customer contact me regarding another good-sized order, and the item itself wound up with 12 new hearts and 200 or so new views. Not bad for an hour's worth of exposure just before midnight EST, huh?

So, the moral of the story is, do whatever it takes to get your stuff on Etsy's front page so you can get some sales. LOL. No but seriously, it really is good for business, so keep working on those photos and products, and keep up a presence on the site (think: forums, chat, etc) so that more people with the funky little "Admin" tag on their avvies will see you and your wonderful products and think of you when selecting items upon which to bestow what basically is Etsy's highest honor. :)