Saturday, 30 January 2010

Amazingly Awesome Amber's Ambry





The other night I came home from work (from my job in cheltenham) to the best surprise ever.
I won the competition a few weeks back on Amber's Ambry.
I received the most beautifully made pouch - made with the lovliest fabric. I absolutely love it.
Inside the pouch was a bunch of goodies for the body. The packaging on the scrub was my favourite. Oldy worldy and vintagey (is that a word?) in brown paper. The font she uses just makes me squeel. I know...you may find this odd, but I love fonts! I use so many different ones when doing my own packaging, but when I see somebody elses work, I feel I need to up my game.
So let me give you a rundown of the items:
1st up was the spiced pumpkin soap with clay. A deep earthy red soap with cinnamon tones. I didn't know which one I'd got so I've been on Amber's website to check 'em all out. This soap was the first one I used as it had been a cold cold winters day and I needed warming up, and the scent hit me and made me think of cosy bed sheets and being pampered by my grandma (who I loved more than anybody in the whole world), so thank you for the way this soap made me feel Amber. Weird isn't it, how scent and aesthetics can evoke memories of special people.
2nd up I used that same night was the vanilla latte body scrub. The scent was just like hot milky coffee. Again, a good winter warmer. This stuff is awesome! I scooped a little out and rubbed it down my arms, over my chest, down my legs and on my bum! The sugar scrubbed well, and then disintigrated leaving behind silky, nourished skin. Really goooooood.
3rd up was Amber's loofah soap. I haven't used any other products yet so this is sitting in the pouch waiting til I've run out of Spiced Pumpkin. But, let me tell you...it smells fresh, delightful and like a fresh spring day. I love loofah soaps, and never make them myself so this is gonna be a real treat. It feels waxy, and wholesome in the hands.
4th up was a chunk of poppy seed hot process soap. Again, this smells amazing. Can't quite put my finger on the scent, but then I don't need to. I shall make my own mind up as to what I think it smells like in due course. Again, a very wholesome looking soap and I love the way it's been cut (not perfect which I like better than perfectly squared off bars).
5th up is the hand balm in 'Red Apple'. A subtle apple scent - not too overpowering which is nice. The thing about Amber and her style is she seems quite understated yet you can tell she has a real homely feel to her person, and that, I think is reflected in each and every one of these products. She has made me feel loved and cosied up, and I've never even met her. All I know of Amber is her lovely blog. Even that makes me go woozy. I'm sure you all agree.

So that's the products...but lets not forget the pouch. The finish of it is perfection, and I love the little tag with her apple logo and the two buttons on the front. Just heaven.
I shall be going for a dip in a couple hours, so I shall continue with that spiced soap and I may even treat myself to a little more of that coffee scrub.
I feel completely indulged. After such hard times, this came as the best treat I could've wished for and I am eternally grateful and happy to have won Amber's comp.

AMBER, I SALUTE YOU AND ALL THAT YOU ARE.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU

Amber's Etsy shop is here if you feel tempted by my mini review. I actually do myself!
(and check out the poo soap, which made me laugh loudly).

Friday, 22 January 2010

make-over


New look 'humbug' with e.o's of Peppermint, Spearmint and an additional drop or two of Marjoram...also with 'herbaceous' soap balls dusted with cocoa powder, and activated charcoal and rhassoul. Since I will be doing away with 'moulouya' once it's all gone, this one I hope will stand in its place.



'Potters Bar' with e.o's of Lavender, Fennel, Lemon & Eucalyptus. I originally put fennel into this soap, but then decided I didn't like it, so the following batch didn't have any in it.... I must have been doin a mental to leave it out...so i put it back in! Smells herbal fresh.


new 'Cyclone' with e.o's of petitgrain, geranium, clary sage, juniper and now with additional lemongrass, which has totally lifted the whole scent blend. Exactly what it needed.
The pic is a bit over purple...sorry, i've had a few ales!


No. 11. Same e.o blend as ever...lavender, ylang ylang, vetivert & patchouli.
My absolute favourite scent combo. With this I wanted to try to get the scent of the soap to resemble 'Aromatherapy Associates - Deep Relax' bath oil. Almost there....but the natural soap scent still comes through...probably a good thing. That's the only bath oil I know of that can send me to sleep. It's a bottle of heaven to me.


'Lemon Citron' with e.o's of lemon, grapefruit, chamomile & now with a drop of Geranium to stick the scent a bit more. Love how this one turned out this time.

Enough pics...here's what's been happening:
I have been mega slack on the blog front this past week. I've managed a few tweets, but that's about it.
My kitchen is currently undergoing a transformation, courtesy of my step dad, Martin. He's doing an amazing job. He's built me some base units from scratch, has moved my washing machine to where I want it, and installed me a wonderful belfast sink. I came home this evening not knowing how far he'd got, but he has made the doors for my units, and has made me a new cupboard for my soap supplies. Amazing.
The first part of this month has been spent making batch upon batch of soap to re-stock.
I've really enjoyed it and have tweaked a few of the scents. Making the decision to only use essential oils has opened up my mind to new and exciting blends that I've not tried before. Also, when I made the blends for the egg bombs, it filled me with lots of soap ideas.
I placed an order with Fresholi last week for some of their organic cocoa & shea butters (in my opinion theirs are the absolute best), and a few new essential oils to try out.
I'm really enjoying my coffee at the mo so I've a new coffee inspired soap in mind. The Caramel Macchiato I had yesterday at Starbucks got me thinking, so I shall be planning a rich but sweet blend along with some 70% cocoa chocolate, sheeps milk, honey, vanilla pods and palm sugar.
That's about it for now.
Ooh..one last thing..check this out...I'm on the front page! http://www.cotswoldstyle.co.uk/

Sunday, 10 January 2010

from soil 'n trees 'n leaves to soap molds...


I have a stack of soap to make at the mo, so what better time to show you how I make 'Potters Bar'...?
I have made a conscious decision to discontinue my organic range of soap and haul 'em on over to the botanical range, which after looking at figures from last year was the most popular range and the one most talked about. Nothing like looking at the details to see which bit of your mini business you are getting right. Yes, that means there will be no more fragrant range or organic range, but there will be lots of new soaps made with 100% natural ingredients all scented with essential oils to be getting stuck into instead. So as it stands, I shall have a botanical soap range along with some more new products including the egg bombs from my last post.
Another reason for quitting the organic is the rising cost of organic essential oils and organic palm oil. I'm all for fair trade, and for sourcing products sustainably but for now the organics must wait....until the price drops!
Right, now that I've told you...here's how botanical Potters Bar soap is made along with a rundown of the ingredients used to produce it.


well obviously that's me.. in my new apron that mummy bought for me for xmas...nice huh!


caustic soda mixed with mineral water (yes there is a little residue from the caustic floating on the top....it happens sometimes).


essential oils..left to right: fennel (foeniculum vulgare), lemon (citrus limon), lavender (lavandula angustifolia), eucalyptus (eucalyptus globulus). In each batch of 10lb soap, I add a minimum of 60ml (about 16 teaspoons).


coconut oil and palm oil ready for melting on the hob.


olive oil & sunflower oil mixed - into which I shall pour the melted coconut & palm.


pure, unrefined organic cocoa butter


organic soya oil for mixing titanium dioxide and any other colour i may be using.


wheatbran - for exfoliating gardeners or potters hands...or for breakfast


soya oil with titanium dioxide on the right and the same on the left but with 1/2 tsp of chromium green oxide added to give the pale green colour (love that)


heavily traced soap...with the green mix added to the left batch and the white TD added to the right batch


let the layering begin...already poured some of the white into the mold and now using a spatula to gently place on top of the white before patting down a little ready for the next layer.
You need to have really thickly traced soap to do this...well I find it helps. Also, when working with essential oils the mix doesn't tend to seize like it can when using fragrance oils


the finished batch sprinkled with lavender flowers and soap shreds
That's it!
Want some? you'll have to wait til it's cured...in about a month!


my reward! oh...just noticed the knife...that's not a good advert. Matt is still alive....honest!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

a week in the life...of a snowed in Brit


new product prototype...free range egg bombs. so far i have made orange, ylang ylang & black pepper bombs and lavender, tea tree & bergamot bombs.
i have 4 more to come up with to make a half dozen mixed bombs in a half dozen egg box.
geranium & patchouli shall be made in a sec after i've written this, then it'll be back to the pad n pen to write down ideas.


boxed egg bombs


The newly named 'Moulouya'...now called 'Moulouya Moon'. I've been meaning to try out using soap balls to make some of my soaps more aesthetically pleasing and love the ones made by other soapers..a few folks do this so naming them all would be tedious..but you know who you are and thank you for the inspiration.
In Moulouya Moon (for men...and sneaky women) are the following ingredients:
coconut, palm, sunflower & olive oils, rhassoul mud (from the Moulouya valley in Morocco), a smidge of activated charcoal and 'herbaceous' soap balls.
The scent is Tobacco Leaf, which smells deep, dark, manly, cosy, warm and fresh all at the same time. I love it.
Matt did the peaking with the chopstick on this particular batch. Good lad!

a nice close up

Ethan, my nephew and his chiclet teeth!

Natalie, my older 'make up mad' sister. Aw..doesn't she look cute!

My brother in law (nats' husband), The Duke (aka Stephen Huxley). He likes lots of heavy rock music....and food!

pretty snow trees in Hampton, Evesham. UK

Frodo Baggins et al....

Our lovely local park in Evesham, Worcs. UK...covered in a smooth white blanket.

A whale's jaw bone in the Pleasure Gardens, Waterside, Evesham, UK.

Avenue of Lime Trees in the Pleasure Gardens

some crazy loony tunes...fishing...!
So, those pics pretty much sum up this past week.
I cannot get to my job in Cheltenham, Glos. UK as the roads are so awful.
The UK is crap at dealing with snow in these colossal amounts. We haven't really had snow this deep since I was a kid in the 80's.
Some parts of the river are now frozen...I have never seen that happen in all the 37 years I've been alive.
Tesco's is a joke. No bread left, no flour to make the bread, no minced beef (!), but so much other stuff to eat it's not as if 'The Day After Tomorrow' is upon us...c'mon people get real.
*saying that, if i do get stuck with no food my friend Mark down the road has loads of grub*
Not being able to get to Cheltenham has rendered me a little creative..what else could I do with all this spare time?
So...I made some batches of much-needed soap, some new products including the egg bombs...aren't they cute? A few more tweaks to the packaging and they'll be ready for sale.
I also treated myself to a new skincare regime courtesy of No. 7 products available at Boots.
They had an offer of buy 2 get 3rd product free. So...I got their version of Liz Earle's Cleanse & Polish. I've been a fan of Liz Earle's amazing products for a few years but yesterday noticed the No.7 version so am trying out for a bit. You get double the amount and it's a few quid cheaper. I also got the pore refining serum and the day cream. So far so good.
There's probably a ton more stuff I could tell you but right now I want to go and make those new egg bombs..I got the bug. Love it!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

The Soap Bar: Harry Potter Is British Too

The Soap Bar: Harry Potter Is British Too

Just over a week ago, my good friend Joanna from The Soap Bar and Product Body wrote this post...
God bless her. She is the owner of Product Body and she makes aaahhhmaaazingly good products for your body.
I really really want her 'crush on you'...but haven't been able to afford it due to my funds being in very short supply!
She makes sumptuous looking creams, bombs, soaps etc too.
Check her out...she's just ace and I love her.

Friday, 1 January 2010

aaaahhhh.....!



A brand new year to get our teeth stuck into...
After the festivities, I'm all out of time for sitting around doing nothing.
I've had a wonderful holiday season....but it's time to get a shift on and get some money made again.
Here's to better times, happier times, and all round good times.
After last year, I think we all are deserving of a break from stress and money troubles.
The recession certainly taught me a few lessons about what NOT to spend my money on.
I am now seeing my life and my small business with new eyes and am ready to make it work the way I want it to.
I have a headful of new ideas. Every new year I feel like this.
It feels like the dark and dismal is over and the weight on my shoulders has lifted.
It feels lovely!
I love the quietness of New Years' Day and love the idea of planning my summer holiday.
We don't have a lot of money, but we are going to have a holiday this year...and I know exactly where I want to go...
I will say if I get it together....but until then i don't want to jinx myself!

Anyways...here's to you and yours this new year.
And if you're ready to think about your garden....or you need some lovely soap to clean that new year body with....click here!
Oh...and I also have a brand new SOAP website....here