All images and text are ©Artisan Soaps so please don't steal them &/or claim as your own!

24 April 2010

All about the Children ..

Isn't it odd how sometimes every which way you turn the same things jumps out at you? This week is all about Children ..

It started with me watching (now don't laugh) the first 5 episodes of Jamie Olivers Food Revolution .. I know he's a weird one but so am I, and I think we're equally as passionate about good food!

Well for anyone who hasn't watched it he delves into American school lunches, and there is an amazing amount of behind the scenes insight that quite literally had me in tears .. My kid takes a (not so flash) Bento lunch to school each day, and asks for a similar plater of chopped up fruit/veg/meat & cheese every night for dinner - which he gets more often than not because why not?! It's quick, simple, healthy & delicious ..

Our school has a very productive organic garden that all the kids work in, and they're taught to prepare the harvest by inviting friends and family to 'shared lunches' each term .. So to see a classroom of 6yr olds who don't know a tomato from a potato, or a beetroot from celery is, well it's shocking to me! I told myself this could obviously be a one off, But to Then see the school system providing pizza for breakfast followed by nuggets and instant mashed potato for lunch, and the choice of only chocolate & strawberry milk - AND the Head Honchos claiming it's meeting healthy eating guidelines, Seriously? I honestly don't mean to offend anyone by writing this but SERIOUSLY?? I just don't see how they can get away with it as surely the parents know what they're being fed at school .. I remember when it was suggested our kids go to Macdonalds for lunch on an excursion over the hill once - the outrage was spectacular lol ..

Anyhoo that's one thing ..

The second was finding out someone I know just lost her baby .. Again I feel wow, stunned .. My heart is breaking right now as C was so far into the pregnancy that a delivery was necessary, and I can't even contemplate how devastating and traumatic that must be to go through .. She was supposed to call me during the holidays but didn't so I figured she was tired (it's not been an easy pregnancy by any means), and was just told about the turn of events by a third party, and that she is hiding in her bedroom .. I really don't know if I should phone and offer to have the other kids (who love me) stay for a while to give her a break, or maybe she'd want them close .. All I know for sure is that this family has had a rough couple of years, and now this to top it off is just so so sad :(

*For the record there are a few pregnant soapers at the moment but this is no-one anyone reading this will know ..

It kind of puts everything in perspective though, what with my being extra busy dealing with family court lawyers, child youth & family social workers, school teachers, and riding for the disabled these last few weeks .. My life literally revolves around kids and their individual special needs - and I wouldn't want it any other way!

I actually spent the day making Monster/Witch B Gone Bedroom Sprays in Monkey Farts, Blackberry Jam Cookie, and 'Crack the Whip' (Lush dupe that smells like a Liquorice All-Sorts Coconutty/Vanilla blend to me) .. The Jam Cookie by the way is sooo good that I've sprayed it on the curtain dividing my bedroom and the lounge so it sends out wafts of scent whenever I walk through!!

But what I really wanted to sign off with is a little game I created for my son's school .. I'm taking this year off to focus on my B&B but I used to go in two afternoons a week to help with maths and this was a hit with the kids and teacher alike :)

I had access to a printer one day so I used a grid to divide my page and added some simple maths questions
Printed out the page on heavy paper, wrote a number between 1 and 6 on the back, cut into cards and covered with sticky tape (protects from dirty/wet fingers) ..

The knife was just used to eliminate air bubbles around the card, and I gave them a tidy up trim after taking these pics
Now the idea is for the younger ones you lay the green side down, roll the die and pick up one of the matching numbered cards and do the maths to earn 1 token .. For the older kids you lay the cards problem side up and they have to find a card that equals the number that they rolled to earn the token ..
Oh, and I found these nifty trains in the classroom, so I used them for the boards each kid put their tokens on .. First one filled wins the game ..
We used little plastic bears I also found in the classroom for our tokens, and it was so cute how each one came up with a story about where their bears were headed - to the zoo, the beach, circus, grandmas etc :)

As I say they had fun playing, and didn't even know I was teaching them math!!

19 April 2010

Back to School ..

Well the holidays finished today so it was back to making lunches and attending to all the things I've been putting off the last couple of weeks (live vacuuming the lounge!).. My main priority though, after dropping the boy at school, was shipping off a bunch of lip balms to friends in the UK!

I was only going to send one kind but decided at the last moment to make another batch to cater to those who like more of a gloss .. I also decided it was time I formulated for the vegan crowd so experimented with Candelilla and Carnauba Wax and now have my fingers crossed they work out ok .. I must say though, so far my impression is Wow - if you haven't played with these two ingredients you should! They make a super hard balm but the glide is phenomenal, no drag what-so-ever and it sets up as smooth as glass ..

Oh and good news - I didn't spill any more than a drop when pouring the second batch into tubes :P

The tops however, well I'm still working on perfecting that *rolls eyes*

I also had to hand-crafted a label as I don't own a printer, so this is what I ended up doing on the week-end:

Wraps for the tubes themselves ..
Booklet tags to list ingredients ..
The finished Balms with wraps ..
Together with their booklets ..

And finally, THANK-YOU to everyone who's left comments, I really appreciate it and will write replies when I get a chance ;)

14 April 2010

Lip Balm in Tubes ..

As a few of you know I'm planning on switching from pots to tubes for my lip balms due an overwhelming amount of requests .. I'm in a bit of a bind really, living where I do, a true melting pot of cultures and lifestyle .. Environmentally Friendly Granolas (like myself) make up a large percentage and prefer recyclable pots or slide tins, yet the students and backpackers make up an equal amount of my targeted customers and they want disposable plastic tubes that easily fits in their pockets .. *shrugs* I'll probably end up offering both options ..

Anyhoo I've been asking around about the tubes as I've never used them before, and low and behold a totally unexpected (non B&B) person tells me they have some I can have - for free! This girl got them a few years back thinking she would make balms to sell at week-end markets but never got around to it .. So they've been stored away until this morning .. And I now have a zip lock bag of 50 red & purple tubes to play with until my order arrives from the US *yippee*
But Oh My, switching to tubes is not as easy as I imagined it would be!
I think I wasted nearly half my lovely balm in spillage :(
And when I did the top up pour to hide the dimple, it didn't stick to the first pour so all the domes you see below fell off! (one inside circle) ..

Luckily I had the smarts to order a 'pour tray' along with the new tubes (and heat bands), so that should fix my spillage problem .. And I'm going to have another go tomorrow using a stainless steel milk jug with a much sharper spout than my pyrex one ..

But how do I top them up so they have nice rounded tops that stick?

Please share your hints and tips with me if you know how to do this correctly! I'm kind of desperate for answers, and clearly NOT a natural!

13 April 2010

Vanilla Files (part 8 = lather tests!)

I think I need to start off by saying these Vanilla Files are nothing more than an experiment I did for my own personal reasons, then later decided to share publicly in the hope that others could benefit from the results .. Maybe I'm a fool, but I prefer to think of other B&B makers as my colleagues, rather than competition .. And what soaper doesn't love to talk shop?!

Also, please remember any comments below are only in reference to CP soap .. The very last thing I want to do is put people off trying these FO's in the many and varied B&B products we enjoy, and enjoy making! Obviously they are only my opinion, and I'm admittedly fussy - but very honest!

Not all have been tested enough in the shower to comment if they rinse clean, fill the bathroom with scent, or stick to skin, so *watch this space for updates*

Absolutely Gorgeous Scent! So good that the discolouration in CP soap doesn't bother me in the least .. The lather & rinse however is a shocker - dirty yellow/brown like Kindy Infectious Urine! Sorry but it's seriously BAD!! Which creates a major dilemma in that I absolutely LOVE this scent, and so do my testers .. So I guess I'll now have to try it with Vanilla Stabiliser ..

The scent does stick to skin for a little while after showering, but only very mildly - not to worry though as I've already used it in my Body Butter :D


Sandalwood Vanilla (DSS):
Lather looks white when washing hands etc, however it's obviously slightly 'dirty' on the rinse (as it drops down onto my white tub) .. It doesn't come alive and fill the room with scent like some FO's do in use, but it definitely sticks to the skin so you'll be walking in a cloud of aroma for a few hours after showering which I personally want - it gets extra points for this ;)

And I also think it morphs just a tad in use, but I still LOVE this FO!


Drizzled Honey Vanilla Cream (DSS):
This one tricked me - the first time I used it in the shower I wrote: Unfortunately this really doesn't do much in the shower, as in the scent doesn't fill the room like some do .. Nor does it stick to the skin after showering in more than a very mild way .. But I've just stepped out of the shower after using it the second time and the scent DID come alive in a very pleasant way! And it also seems to be stronger on my skin - which I know makes no sense, but what can I say? This is an awesome FO - oh and the lather/rinse is pretty darn clean, just ever so lightly tinted .. A winner in my opinion ;)


Marshmallow Fluff (DSS):
Compared to the others this scent is still a bit 'whatever' for me .. And the lather/rinse is extremely dirty - it looked like I'd been rolling in the mud!

This picture doesn't even show just how un-pretty it is in use .. And combined with a just so-so scent, it failed miserably as a CP FO :(

(Of course that doesn't mean it wouldn't ROCK in another B&B product!)


Black Raspberry Vanilla (NG):
*Will update when thoroughly tested*


Vanilla de Madagascar (DSS):
I have tried another version of this that I liked a lot more, however I don't know where it came from, or how to contact the soaper that made it to ask :/

The scent did nothing in the shower and I could only smell it when sniffing the bar or lather direct, and it did not stick to my skin .. The lather and rinse were dirty, yet not quite as bad as this pic makes out - this was lathered by hand so maybe more intense then when showering with it?

Anyway, I won't be soaping it again ..


Very Vanilla (BCN):
I think it's been made clear I do not like this scent .. To my nose it's a cross between sniffing playdough and plastic .. BUT every now and again it lets off a very obviously 'nut' like note - kinda weird! Anyhoo I was not expecting much from this when I took it into the shower for proper testing, and while I can't say anything about how it performed in use changed my mind, BUT that nutty thing was super obvious .. I'm calling it Hazelnut actually, that's what it smelt like to me when sniffing the bar - there was no scent in the room itself .. And *unfortunately for me* it did stick to my skin ..

I must give it points for one of the cleaner rinses - barely noticeably discoloured as it washed down the drain ;) So if you're a fan of hazelnuts this may work for you?!


Vanilla Bean Noel (DSS):
This did not perform as I expected it to as I've used other soapers VBN's in the past and been a huge fan! The rinse was quite dirty, the scent was very faint - had to sniff the bar or lather direct to even smell it, and it did not stick to the skin :(

Sooo if you're really wanting a great VBN then I'd do as my friends do and go with Wholesale Supplies Plus version ;)


Buttercream Frosting (DSS):
*Will update when thoroughly tested*


Warm Vanilla Sugar (TCS):
Even in use this one doesn't give off much fragrance unless you sniff the bar directly, and likewise it didn't stick to my skin at all .. I know many people aren't interested in soap scent sticking to skin but I like it .. And at very I least want my bathroom to smell nice when showering - not much purpose adding FO if it doesn't do that! .. Rinse was only slightly discoloured ..


Vanilla Bean (DSS):
*Will update when thoroughly tested*


Musk Vanilla (NG):
*Will update when thoroughly tested*


Vanilla Abricot (DSS):
This smells great when you sniff the bar while in use, but that's the only time I really get much scent from it .. It's not in the air, it's not on my skin, or even in the lather itself in more than a very-very mild way .. Pretty disappointing really but maybe used a t a higher % that could be fixed? The rinse is what you'd expect from a brown bar - not overly, not even enough to put many people off I don't think .. But I won't be using it again ..




Face Cloth Test - wet soap left to dry on a clean white towel:
(click on image for full size)
Sorry this is so dark in comparison to the lather tests above - the weather has turned and it's very overcast but I got it done before the rain started!

Comments, Questions, Feedback - Most Welcomed!

01 April 2010

Personal Progress ^^

I don't normally let people take my photograph but today I decided I would take a couple of quick snaps myself for future reference .. Why this sudden change of heart and show of bravery? Simply because I've been getting a LOT of comments this last week .. Suddenly everyone is noticing my stretched ears, which is odd as they have obviously been getting bigger all last year and I don't think I'm wearing my hair up more than usual ..

Oh well, whatever it is the kids at school all think it's a combination of freaky and awesome - which pretty much sums me up in general, lol :P

April 1 2010
I've been swimming &/or hot tubbing daily so haven't coloured my hair in a good four or five months .. And yes I've cut my dreads in half as I do every so often when the ends start to bother me - I just prefer them whispy and loose ..
April 1 2010
And as you can see my ears aren't even all that big .. One is 8mm the other 10mm, and I think I'm going to stay at this size for a long time, maybe forever actually as not fussed to go any bigger .. I'm not terribly happy with the placement either but I had them pierced with a gun as a young child and I had no say in the matter *grr why do parents DO that?!

Oh well, this is me today ~ ♥

Tomorrow I'm heading down south (18hr drive) to get my daughter for the school holidays = YAY!