Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pumpkin Souffle - Soap!

I had to come out to the shop early this morning to check on an experimental soap we made last night.

We had already planned to call it "Pumpkin Souffle," but didn't realize how accurate the name would prove to be!

Because of the addition of actual pumpkin and a number of spicy oils, the soap started to overheat and puff up out of the mold (which it already filled to the very rim.)

We saw what was happening and popped it into the freezer, which stopped the puffing.  As it cooled, the soap fell somewhat in the center, but since it will fit our cutter perfectly, all the crazy popping and dipping on the top will be trimmed off.

We love to try new things to see what happens and sometimes the result is something we feel the need to add to our regular line.  I very much doubt this will be a permanent addition, but if it were to be, there would be some changes made to the recipe - like the amount of pumpkin would probably be smaller.

I'll try to remember to update this post with a picture of the finished, cut soap...  Can't wait to try it and see what kind of properties the addition of pumpkin produces!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sights around the county

On deliveries this morning, we saw this Amish family harvesting the tobacco crop. The tobacco is already "lathed," meaning it is cut and the leaves are pierced at the bottoms and laced on laths. That is what has caused the cone shapes you see in the field.   It appears the family is out with the wagon to pick up the laths which will now be hung in the barn to dry.  In the winter, the dried leaves will be "sized" and baled up ready for sale.

Tobacco used to be a very popular cash crop here, but some time ago, the price of the leaves (we grow the variety used as the outer wrapping of cigars) dropped dramatically.  It was so bad that the farmers refused to sell their crops and eventually just stopped growing tobacco.

If you look closely, you can see that the wife had already done wash and hung it out on the line stretched across in front of the barn. This family also has a large, immaculate garden in their front yard, vegetables and flowers combined beautifully... They sell both!  Don't try to find the garden! I just know it is there because we pass this farm pretty often. 

I'm assuming the price is back up because tobacco seems to be making a comeback here even though it is a very labor-intensive crop.  Planting, topping (removing the bloom from the top to prevent it going to seed) and harvesting are all hand work.  It is a good crop for a family that has extra hands and works well together.  

Tobacco used to be a very profitable crop here and it was not unusual for the boys on an "English" farm to be given their own acre of tobacco to tend.  In the late 60's, early 70's, if you saw a young man driving a new Corvette around here, chances were he had grown his *own* tobacco, saved for a few years and bought his car for cash when he hit 16. I know a lot of non-farm kids resented them, but that car represented a lot of sweat and toil.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What is so rare....

As the saying goes, "What is so rare as a day in June."  Well, I'll tell you - not just one, but TWO days in July with low humidity and ideal temperatures, that's what!

We have had extreme temperatures and high humidity for the majority of our summer, interspersed with lots of rain.  My husband has been going out in the mornings, very early to try to keep the Christmas tree farm in some sort of order, but I have been doing my very best to stay inside, concentrating on the soap business and ignoring my poor plants and flowers!

As it turns out - they are all very forgiving and last evening, between the two of us, we finally cleared out the, oh-so-healthy, weeds!

Walking out to the shop this morning and seeing the riotous flowers with butterflies fluttering here and there was a joy - the kind of day when you just want to throw your arms up in the air and let out a whoop just for the joy of living!

Our tomato fences are full - need to be tied up one more time, I think.  The marigolds I planted in front of them have reached a mature size and filled in.  There is a sunflower at the end of each fence section and the grape arbor behind it all is lush and lovely.

I know this has nothing to do with soap, but I just wanted to share this delicious day with you all!

It is truly rarer than a day in June!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Philadelphia Gift Show! Come see us.

We will be, for the first time, be vending at the Philadelphia Gift Show at the Greater Philadelphia Convention Center,  Oaks, Pa.  The wholesale show runs from July 21 through the 24th. 

If you are coming, be sure to stop by our booth #1724 in the Handmade in the USA section, we'll be happy to see you and if you mention this blog post, we'll give you a small gift!

This it the show where shops and other retail businesses come from Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey (and probably other states) to discover and order merchandise.  Many are coming to stock their businesses for Christmas.  We will be showing our special holiday packaging.

For the holidays, we repackage 4 of our soaps, spritzes and lotions specifically for the season.  We offer Bayberry, Citrus Spruce, Double Mint and Holiday Wine (Merlot.)

Although we are pretty well immersed in preparing for the show, we are also stocking like crazy so we will be able to fill all the orders we hope to bring home with us!

On Monday, we were making a number of soaps and my niece, Molly, was observing.  She was taken by the way we make our marbled soaps and took a picture as I poured a batch of Rosemary soap into the mold.  Our rosemary soap is scented with pure rosemary essential oil and the swirl itself is a lovely golden color which comes from powdered rosemary herb that we add to a part of the batch.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fats Delivery!

A couple of times a year, we order a skid or two of the fats we use in our soap.

The trucking company calls us the day before they are ready to deliver so that we are prepared, but they always seem to be a bit off on their approximation of when it will be here, so we wait...

It is delivered in an 18-wheeler and our driveway is too sharp a turn for a truck that size.  We arrange to have the truck meet us in front of my sister's house - which is across from the chicken house you see in the picture.

When he gets close, the driver usually calls to give us a heads up.  We hustle on up to Tina's and transfer the skid of fats to the pickup.  Then we haul it down to the shop where we unload it and put it away.

It was a brisk, breezy day but by the time we were finished, we were quite warm!  Those 50 pound buckets get heavier with each passing year!

We were getting low on supplies, so now we are ready to get some of these new oils weighed up and make some more wonderful soap.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Something "borrowed"…..

There are quite a few recipes attributed to me in an ebook I had nothing to do with (see previous blog entries) - the first one was really mine. I don't think I used this name even if it was oddly appropriate, but the recipe was mine!  The more I look at the recipes, I really don't think that even the ones I actually did share with her were correctly copied.

Back when we had our shop, we were purchasing a liquid soap base that we scented and sold there. I read that the addition of glycerin was all that was necessary to make it into a bubble bath.  My husband happens to love bubble baths - and he also suffered from dry skin, although our soap seems to have solved that problem pretty well. I thought it would be fun to try something special for him and I scented it with his favorite at the time, patchouli. That's probably why it only calls for a few drops of essential or fragrance oil - with patchouli, more than that would have been totally over powering!
The bubbles didn't last at all because of the addition of the oil, but they looked pretty as the bath filled!  Maybe that was why it was called "Disappearing" Bubbling Bath Oil.
If, by chance, you decide to try this recipe, be careful getting in and out of the tub because the oil can make it quite slippery.

Disappearing Bubbling Bath Oil- From Lancaster County Soapworks
1 C. Apricot kernel oil
½ C. glycerin
½ C. liquid soap
Add a few drops of Essential Oil or Fragrance Oil
Shake gently and use ¼ C. into bath under running water

The next recipe is completely unfamiliar to me. If this is your recipe, you can be sure I did not give it to her.  I have never seen this before! The reference to liquid surfactant is interesting - I think that liquid soap IS a liquid surfactant. Also, the recipe calls for 20 drops of fragrance oil, but the instructions only tell you what to do with 5 drops! (I'd add all of it.)
Since I have never worked with this recipe or anything like it, I have no suggestions to add.  Apparently there is a gel type product out there, but it isn't mine and, personally, I find this kind of yucky!  Maybe kids would like it.

Lime Bath Gummy Recipe - From Lancaster County Soapworks, Etc. (Not really!)
2 Packets of unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup of liquid soap
1/2 Cup of water
Green food coloring
5 T liquid surfactant
20 drops Lime Essential Oil
Plastic storage jar with lid
Empty the packet of gelatin into a bowl and set aside.. Boil 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Pour the hot water into mixing bowl and mix it with the gelatin powder.Dissolve completely. Next pour the liquid soap into the gelatin mix in the bowl. Add 2 drops of food coloring into the mix and also add your fragrance oil now (about 5 drops) and stir it very gently so the bubbles do not become agitated . Pour the mixture into molds, and refrigerate until set. To use, add one "gummy" to the bath.

There are still more to come...  meanwhile, be sure to visit Tina & Becky who are also sharing their purloined recipes on their own blogs.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Equinox - Patchouli Rose

Long ago, in the ancient days of Compuserve, there were many forums.  On one forum, I saw a conversation that interested me.  A woman was being married on the spring equinox and wondered if there was a specific oil that would be appropriate for that day.  Someone answered her and said that a patchouli and rose blend would be the one she should wear.  

I never really checked it out, but it seemed like a really lovely idea, so I mixed up the combination.  We had been having trouble with the rose fragrance that we had been using fading too quickly in soap - and patchouli is known as a fixative oil, one with properties that make it, and anything it is mixed with "stick."

We made the soap and the fragrance of the rose was most prevalent with a tiny bit of "something" mysterious added.  

It is a beautiful shocking pink and have been selling it every since.  Always popular, but especially now on the Spring Equinox - our Patchouli/Rose.

Monday, March 18, 2013

More Purloined Recipes


: to appropriate wrongfully and often by a breach of trust
 pur·loin·er noun 

So, apparently that's what happened.  Our recipes were purloined.  And they were taken under the guise of friendship...  see previous post.

Well, here are two more that I will mostly claim.  I can tell you stories about both of them. That's the difference between someone who just simply lists recipes and someone who has actually worked with them.

(This is a very generic type of salve or ointment.  We made something like this in a class many years ago when we had our herb shop.  One of the attendees called us after the class and raved about the salve.  She told us it had cleared up what she thought was ringworm when nothing else she had tried helped at all.
I actually have a hard time believing that I ever added lanolin to anything because our mom had an allergy to lanolin and I always gave it a wide berth because of her warnings.  I suppose the addition of the fractionated coconut oil could have been a little twist I put in there just to make it different, but it looks more like a way of promoting some more exotic ingredients.
If I were making this now, I would use an 8:1 ratio, liquid oil:beeswax for a nice loose ointment (both measured by weight,) which is more comfortable to apply on damaged skin. The base, or vegetable oil would be really nice if it had been infused with calendula or comfrey - or both!  I would not put lanolin in the salve at all and the coconut oil is completely optional.  I would probably use about the same total amount of essential oils, but more like half and half - so 15 drops lavender and 15 drops tea tree.
So mostly, this recipe would be completely different!)  
Healing Ointment - From Lancaster County Soapworks 
This is a good basic recipe. Lavender & Tea Tree are a great healing combination.
1 T Vegetable oil"
.3 oz. Beeswax beads
2 T Coconut Oil, Fractionated
.3 oz. Lanolin, anhydrous
20 drops Lavender EO
5 drops Tea Tree EO
Melt all ingredients together. Allow to cool partially, then add essential oils. Stir well and pour into sterilized container. *Can use Avocado, Apricot Kernel, or your favorite carrier oil. Can add 1 oz. Of Emu oil as a part of the base oils.

(Bay Rum is a pretty common item. You can probably find various recipes for it all over the place and they are all pretty similar.
We did this recipe in a class one year, just before Christmas. As we did sometimes in our classes, we did it for the first time in the class, but this is a pretty straight forward item to make.  The hard part is to gather all the ingredients.
At any rate, during the class we made a couple of bottles of Bay Rum for our own use and put them aside.  I was not terribly impressed when we made this, but a couple of months later, out of curiosity I opened it and was quite taken with the mellow, spicy, citrusy aroma that had developed.
I have no idea where the orange extract came from in this recipe, I would use orange peel and possibly some lemon peel too.)
Bay Rum - From Lancaster County Soapworks
3 oz. Witch Hazel
3 oz. Rum
3 to 4 Bay Leaves
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1 stick Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Orange Extract
Steep for 1-2 months, strain and bottle. Put a cinnamon stick, a few allspice berries and a bay leaf in the 
bottle before sealing.

So, I suspect the original recipes were not only purloined, but also changed in some ways.  They are certainly not the recipes in my book nor would I use them in these forms if I were doing this now.

I wonder why she even bothered giving anyone credit for any of the recipes.  Was this to give her publication some kind of credibility since she had none as a formulator, manufacturer or even a crafter in this type of product?  And why change them if she was already planning to credit them?

Be sure to visit Tina & Becky who are also sharing their purloined recipes on their own blogs.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

If You Are Going to Steal My Recipes, At Least Get Them Right!

About 8 years ago, I briefly met a woman who was promoting a soap and candle gathering.  My sister knew her a bit better and we decided to attend her event and help her promote it.  The woman was, at that time, trying to put a CD together and begged us for some recipes to add, so we helped her out.  There were to be live links involved and proper attribution.  Well, the CD was a bust.  It wasn't produced properly and I thought that was that.

Fast forward to yesterday.  A name we hadn't heard in years was brought to our attention.  Well, actually, not her name, but a pseudonym that I remember seeing somewhere before and knew it was hers.  It seemed she had published an ebook (apparently at least 2 years ago!) which, supposedly contains recipes that I, my sister Tina and another friend, Becky contributed.   Some of the recipes that have my name on them are more or less mine, but I have never even seen some of the others.  I have a file of my recipe collection and I can easily check these things.

For instance, she lists an eczema salve and a scar salve, both of which she attributes to me.  I'm pretty sure I would not have given her a recipe for either of those.  For one thing,  I don't have those recipes in my file. I do have recipes named for eczema and for scarring,  but they belong to someone else who shared them and I would never sell them, but could keep them for my own use.

I resent that she used my recipes in another type of publication without even asking my permission, but even worse, I am concerned that I am being given credit for someone else's stolen recipes.

In researching it, I find (marketing master that she thinks she is) she has posted reviews everywhere on the internet - same reviews under different names - she even has pictures of some of the fictitious reviewers, make of that what you will.

I was planning to share all of my stolen recipes here, but the more I look at them, the more I am sure that many are NOT mine or have been changed - ingredients added that I do not work with.  For what purpose, I do not know.

There are a couple that are ALL mine and those I will share:

(This is something I made for a swap. I wanted to see if it was possible to combine fizzy bath bombs and bath melts... The theme was the Roaring Twenties and I colored them light green and scented them with "Gin Martini" and packed them in a Chinese takeout box covered in old photos with a miniature martini glass tied to the top! )

Fizzie, Sudsy Bath Melts
1/2 cup baking soda
1 T cornstarch
1-1/2 T. Mango Butter
1-1/2 T. Shea Butter
2 T citric acid
2 T. SLS - Sodium laureth sulfate (In the ebook, this was changed to Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate which is incorrect.)
20 drops fragrance or essential oil of your choice
Mix soda and cornstarch together. Melt oil. Add melted oil to the soda/cornstarch. After mixing, add fragrance and coloring, then add citric acid and SLS. Pack into molds, place in freezer for 30 minutes or
until solid. Unmold and set out to dry for several days.

(I came up with this one because I like to take showers, but love the idea of bath oil...  This definitely not something you would want to sell.  When water and oil is mixed, it can and will grow any number of nasties...  A preservative could be added, but I don't add it here, I just use this quickly and make up fresh frequently.)  Also, this may make the shower slippery, so be careful if you apply it while you are still in the shower.
Spray Bath Oil
1-1/2 oz. Oil
2-1/2 oz. Distilled Water
1 ml Polysorbate 20 (to keep spray mixed)
Preservative should be added according to manufacturer's instructions. Place in a spray bottle, shake 
well and spray liberally after shower, before gently drying off. 

There are probably a few more I can salvage in another post...   And Tina & Becky are also sharing their stolen recipes on their own blogs.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Apples on a Lilac Tree

Spring is (about to be) sprung and for me, nothing says spring like the scent of lilacs!

We searched and searched for the perfect lilac fragrance to use in our soaps and when we found this one, we opened the bottle and it was as if we were walking past a row of lilacs, bursting with color and that lovely, lovely scent.

I have talked about how lilacs were our grandmother's favorite flower and purple was her color.  We really should have named this soap after her.

She was a teacher, but when she was young, she had originally trained to become a concert pianist.  Love intervened and she became a school teacher instead, but she still played.  When I was little, one of the things families did was to gather around the piano and sing songs....  Yes, it was a far cry from the things families do together today, but it was our idea of fun.

Yesterday, I had decided to blog about our lilac soap and as I was running an errand, a song we used to sing popped into my mind.  I could only remember the first verse and the very end.  I wracked my brain trying to remember the rest, but it just wouldn't come back to me.  When I got home, I searched the internet and was relieved to find the following:

The Lilac Tree 
A little boy and a little girl,
In an ecstacy of bliss,
Said the little boy to the little girl,
"Pray give me just one kiss."
The girl drew back in great surprise
"You're a stranger sir," said she,
"And I will give you just one kiss
When the apples grow on a lilac tree!'

The boy felt very sad at heart,
She was the only one;
The girl felt quite remorseful
At the terrible wrong she had done.
So bright and early on the very next morn,
He was quite surprised to see
His little sweetheart standing in the garden
Tying apples on a lilac tree.

George H. Gartlan
Apparently this was a popular song in the 40's...  I may have the sheet music tucked away somewhere in our basement - I remember it had an adorable illustration on the front.  I'll have to go searching.

Isn't it interesting how a scent can bring back something - sometimes a very special memory.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Water Lily soap

In the beer soap rebatch post a month or so ago, I said we were experimenting with another soap that was made the same way.  This is how it turned out:

We scented it with a fragrance called Aroma Tonic - a duplicate of an apparently discontinued Lancome fragrance.  It is a wonderful scent and we wish we could get our hands on more of the fragrance oil, which also seems to be discontinued.

We called the soap "Water Lilies" because it reminded us of the Monet painting of the same name.

See the resemblance?

These little play times are a lot of fun, unfortunately this is a once and done soap.  Tina has what is left of this batch for sale over at her website.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Soap .... What is it good for?

I recently got this comment from a customer, Jayne in NYC, on my Lancaster County Soapworks Facebook page:
"Wow! what is in your Happy Wanderer soap? It is the first thing I've tried in months that has calmed the flaming rosacea on my face! I love it!"
Both plantain and jewelweed are said to be soothing to the skin and although we make the soap specifically to soothe poison ivy and mosquito bites, they are both said to be important herbs for deep cleansing and healing many skin conditions.

The question prompted me to check on them again and I appreciate it because I really never thought about all the many things that the soap could be good for. The essential oils that we add, tea tree and lavender have both been called "medicine chests in a bottle," so they would offer healing as well.

After I explained the above to her, she wrote further to explain what had happened:
"I guess it is just the right combination for what has been ailing me! I can't say the rosacea is gone for good, but my skin has been so inflamed for the last six months as stress is my main trigger. I had been keeping the soap around in case of poison ivy, etc. which one doesn't run into in Manhattan very often; I wish I had started using it sooner! When we ran out of our other favorite LCS soaps, I grabbed the Happy Wanderer for the shower, and my face responded almost instantly. The red patches are more now pinkish than fire-engine red, and nothing itches anymore. It's WONDERFUL!"
It is so nice to hear from folks who have found that our soaps, besides smelling good and cleaning well with those marvelous suds, actually make a difference in the condition of their skin.

My own husband has made me promise that I will never stop making soap.  He suffered with very dry skin all his life until he started using our soaps and he doesn't ever want to go back!