Last week’s winners will be announced at the bottom of this page!
I first met Dante’s cousin, Brenda, this past summer when I attended his family reunion. She was so nice and super welcoming, which was nice to feel in the midst of a huge gathering of people. In the middle of our conversation, somehow it came out that she owned her own photography business and also had a small side business of making her own soaps, chapsticks, lotions, face scrubs, and everything-else-you’d-find-in-a-bathroom. “Sweet!,” I thought, “This would be awesome for the blog!” So she gave me a small sample of one of her amazing soaps and a business card.
Of course, life happened and I never called her. But when I ran into her at her’s and Dante’s uncle’s wedding at the beginning of November, I apologized and asked if she’d still be interested in letting me make soap with her. “Of course!” she replied, and it worked out perfectly to include her products in this month’s giveaways!
Making soap is awesome, and I learned SO MUCH from working with Brenda. She back-checks all of her products so that they are at their most natural/pure forms. Fragrances and dyes are all natural, and she tries to find as local as she can. She’s super aware of what goes onto her skin, and it’s amazing to feel safe when using any skincare products.
The first step is to make your “soap recipe.” There are a lot of ingredients that go into it, including different oils, fragrances, and lye. Different ratios of the ingredients will make different types of soap. There are a few websites that you can use. We used www.soapcalc.net. Here is the recipe that Brenda settled on:
The second step is to mix lye with water – we both wore gloves for this, as getting lye on your skin is NOT FUN! By mixing these two ingredients, it made the temperature rise to over 200 degrees! Crazy.
While we waited for the lye to cool (it needs to be below 120 degrees before mixing it with the oils), we mixed the oils. Some of them were already in liquid form (like olive oil), but others were in solid form (like coconut oil). We measured the solids first, and then microwaved them to melt them before adding in the already-liquid oils. Because we had to heat those oils, we also had to wait for them to cool. The oils and lye mixture need to be within 10 degrees of one another before you mix them. To take their temperature, Brenda had THE COOLEST THING EVER: a temperature gun!!!!! It shot a laser beam into the liquid and popped up a reading! Anything with laser beams is pretty cool!
While we waited for both of those things to cool down, we measured out the dyes (they’re all-natural dyes!). Since the fragrance we decided to use was cucumber mint (she asked me for my favorite scents and had two of them!!!), Brenda thought using green dyes would be smart. I was excited because it’s my favorite color – and it turned out to be hers, too! She picked out a dark green, a light green, and a white dye.
When the lye mixture and the oil mixture were cool enough, we mixed the two together:
Very quickly, it thickened into something called a trace – it was sort of the consistency of thick liquid soap that you might find in the liquid soap dispensers at the side of sinks. We only had a little bit of time before it would begin to harden and set, so we started mixing it in our pre-made soap-drying containers:
We put down a layer of light green soap, then put dabs of dark green and white on top. We took spoons and circle-mixed those colors gently together. Then we put another layer of light green, and finished with dabs of dark green and white, which we swirled together with a wooden dowel. This is what Brenda’s looked like afterwards:
I let it sit for 48 hours, then took it out of the container:
Afterwards, I cut it into squares. It will still take a few weeks for the soap to harden completely, but they already look pretty cool!
So what’s this week’s giveaway?!
You guessed it – SOAP!!!!
To enter into this week’s drawing, all you have to do is make sure that you are signed up to follow my blog by clicking the gray button up there on the right. Then, comment below to let me know that you are interested in being entered into the drawing. I’ll be raffling away TWO of those bars! You must be entered by noon next Sunday, 12/20.
Also, check out her etsy page here for some holiday gift ideas: https://www.etsy.com/ch-en/shop/MiddleSisterNaturals?ref=s2-header-shopname
She’s got a limited holiday assortment going on now (so that she doesn’t die of exhaustion!) but the assortments that are up are amazing and will make great presents. Check back periodically after the holidays to see what else pops up!
For local people, she’s also having an open house at her office in New London next Saturday from 10-3. Let me know if you need directions there!
Her photography website is here:
WINNER OF LAST WEEK’S DRAWING!:
So a funny thing happened, friends! Apparently when one has a business page on facebook and it climbs to above 100 “likes,” you cannot see who liked the page! Neither Jake nor I knew this. So, according to my calculations, there were three entries from the facebook page (Emily, Kelsey, and Tori), and one from signing up to follow my blog (an e-mail address that I’ll call “Basketball Girl”).
I entered these four people into the drawing. However, if you feel that you were entered into the drawing and we missed you, you have 2 days (48 hours) to let me know about it. In that case, I think it’s only fair to have another drawing.
The winner from this drawing was…Tori!!!! Congratulations!! If nobody puts up a fight in the next 48 hours, you can contact Jake via facebook and set up your 3 free sessions!
Other notable firsts:
* I had never done such a long cryptogram before! Woof!!
* I had never heard of a hinny before. It is the offspring of a male horse and a female donkey. The things you learn in 5th grade Language Arts!
* I had never seen an ice luge etched with “Merry Christmas” before! Subsequently I had never hung out with my co-worker Kendra outside of work before nor met her husband. Unfortunately, the picture didn’t make it off of my phone in one piece (GAH! technology), so I will attempt to get a picture of it soon!