Sunday, 24 February 2013

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”

Yes, yes you should smell like dirt right?!
Gah, I cannot wait until I can smell the soil in my garden again.
Spring is my favourite time of year...well, apart from summer & autumn.
I love the anticipation of seeing my bulbs flowering and planning the garden for the coming season. However, this year we plan to completely cover the garden with a new natural stone patio.  I do plan to have some huge pots full of bamboo and several other companion plants though, I couldn't handle a plant-less garden!
I'm plants crazy, but have found that in our tiny little garden we can only handle a few large specimens, which is a real shame as the big monster plants are my favourites. Our garden has lacked charm over the past few years, mostly due to Matt and I being too busy to deal with it all...even with it being small it's still a bind to keep on top of it.  I do hope that changes this year.
I feel like we need some order out there rather than the higgeldy piggeldy garden we've been used to for a while, so I would love a nice natural (but rusty/black) coloured stone with lots of stuff around to catch the eye.
Here'a a little pic of our garden taken around 2007.
Ya see how new it all looks? It was! But it very quickly became a tangled mess and most plants had to come out. The only thing I can see in this picture that we still have is the palm to the left, which is now approaching 8ft tall!
So, I plan to take out the gravel path, which only leads to the shed and replace all of it with a nice Italian stone, a nice table to sit at, some big floor cushions to sit on and lots of little things to tinker with.
If I manage to pull it off I will post pics of course.

So...back to soap.

  Our Spring release went live on Thursday, which was a hoot. We did really well so a big thank you to all who ordered.  I made sure I had plenty in stock this time as all other previous releases have been sell outs, which can be a pain - not just for the customers but for me too.  Re-stocks can be a bind when you have a pile of orders to send out beforehand.  As the business grows I'm starting to plan ahead just a little bit better, which helps me feel prepared for the rush.
This coming week will be an order packing frenzy, but I've gotten pretty quick at it so hopefully I can get back to playing with soap by the weekend. I have a few new techniques I'd like to try.
I tried my first oil in mica swirl last week, which I loved but was a little disappointed that the swirl I did inside hardly showed at all. Lesson learned.
Here it is, scented in a Lush dupe (American Cream) and not for sale since the dupe is a US fragrance oil, which we are not allowed to use to sell over here in the UK due to the allergen content being missing from the MSDS :-(

I used a Vintage Blue mica and then dusted over a copper mica afterwards for some contrast.
Oh, the soap formula is pretty bad on this one too since I ran out of coconut oil. I thought I'll try a palm & olive soap with a few extras, so I went with Palm (quite a bit), olive, sunflower, rice bran and a small amount of avocado oil. It's gunky, slimy, sticky and well, not very good at all but after tweeting about it being the worst soap I ever made I was tweeted back by Hayley of Paintbox Soapworks who mentioned using Palm Kernel oil next time if I wanted to try a coconut oil free soap in the future. I just may one day.
I think it came out pretty good, but nowhere near as beautiful as the creations made by Emily.
If anybody can pull this technique off to it's full out extent, it's her. What an incredible talent.
I plan on doing some gradient soaps and a few others I have up my sleeve shortly (once the coconut oil arrives!), so will be sure to share once I've had a play.
To finish, here's a pic of our new labelling on a jar of Ethereal Seas Body Whip 
(my fave from the current line up).
Have a happy Sunday x

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

From Yule, through Imbolc to Ostara

Hi all,

Long time no see or hear from.
It's cold, damn cold.
Over the past few months we've experienced cold weather every single day and my body is suffering for it.
Aching ankles, knees, hips. Gah! I've taken up swimming again to try to keep supple and it seems to be working to a point so I plan to keep it up.
A little boiler trouble at home had us without heating or hot water for about 10 days in minus 9 centigrade freezing cold conditions (so not fun). I remember actually breaking down into tears on day 8. Wuss.  We got our boiler replaced and luckily a very good friend of ours had sourced us a nice combi boiler for free (must return some kind of favor shortly) and another good friend installed it, so we were quids in to a point! This Friday our chimney will be swept for the first time in...oooh, about 30 years!
We will be able to have our first open fire in our little house on Friday night. So exciting!
I wanted to at least have one fire before the spring arrives to warm up the walls of the house.

We've had snow every year for about the past 5 years, which was unheard of until...well 5 years ago.
We went without snow in the UK for a long, long time, and were entering spring feeling a little short-changed by the winter season. Winters were just dull and hateful with wet drizzle but now we are experiencing what we used to as kids. Snows that fall and give you enough coverage for snowmen and snowboards (if you're brave enough and have enough stamina to walk back up the fancy chair lifts here!).
We're just over another little bit of snowfall and to be frank, I really hope that's the end of it.  My Allium bulbs have been up for a good few months now along with other fanciful spring bulbs.  I don't want them to get frosted anymore. I enjoy to see the snow falling and enjoy walking in it but this incessant cold can do one. It makes it difficult to create scents inspired by warmer weather.

 I'm just starting to create a blend in my mind's eye for Ostara (spring equinox) and hope to put dropper to bottle shortly to test out what I have.
After the overwhelming success of my Winter Solstice perfume oil I have become a little obsessed with perfumery.  It's an art in itself.  Blending oils for soap isn't so difficult but to create a multi-layered scent with lots of different notes and waves of emotion is a little bit more tricky. I start off with the main source of inspiration and build upon it, taking aspects of my surroundings into account every step of the way.
For spring I would like to re-create the scent of a fresh water stream with warm soil, bluebell sap and greenery and have worked this based upon one of my favourite places to walk...Spoonley Woods. A place full of mystery and intrigue where it feels like eyes are watching you all the time.  I picked bluebells in the woods there once and on my way back out to the pathway I was struck by a very hard slap on my shoulder....I kid you not!
Make of that what you will, but I assure you it happened! Frightened much?

Onto Spring then....
I've been in production mode for a good number of weeks, firstly making the soaps for the spring release.  It's an exciting time for me, I love spring, I love new days, new feelings and emotions and scents, which conjure thoughts of warmer days and nights.

I have a list of 6 different spring scents which are as follows:
Black Honey - British Hedgerow Honey, Warm spices, Dry leaves, Lemons and Mandarins.

Gossamer Ghost - Simmering Neroli oil surrounded by Grapefruit zest and Coriander seed.

Green Room - Smashed Rosemary & Spearmint leaf mingles with fresh lime juice and vintage surfboard wood (inspired by what surfers refer to as 'the green room' when surfing the barrel of a wave).

Clotted Peach Cream - Fresh peach pulp cloaked in Cornish Clotted Cream, surrounded by a scattering of winter Honeysuckle blooms.

The Shire - Orchards in blossom, Birds nesting in the Hazel thicket, Summer Barley and the barest hint of Heirloom Strawberries.

Ethereal Seas - Basil leaf, Lime zest, Ho Wood and Mandarin essential oils to mimic British Seaside Flora.

These scents will be available as Cold Process soap, my new Sugar Buff exfoliant, Body Whip, Olfactory Bathing Grains and Aromatic Oil...with maybe some bath creamers thrown in for good measure.
We have brand new labels coming too, which are being printed as I write.  Can't wait to see those.

I will be listing a few more extras, which I've been making the past couple of days and hope to release the whole shebang on 21st February.
I leave you with a picture I posted on Instagram & Facebook a few days ago of the bar of Green Room soap I've been using at home.  This year I added about 200g of Dead Sea Salt to my regular soap mix and this is what it does! It's lumpy, bumpy texture looks just like barnacles stuck on sea rocks.  So weird yet so cool. I'd never seen this before in all my soap making years (of which there are 7 I believe), which makes me realise I'm still just a pup when it comes to soap making. I have so much more to explore.
Hope everybody is well and happy. x