Monday, April 21, 2014

Promise I am still here!

Again with the excuses. Work is busy, I have had unexpected welcome company, and now, expected even more welcome company (my mom is coming in for the week!). Along with my creative muse, my blogging muse has also seemed to go into hiding. I am taking some much needed mental downtime in order to clear my head, deal with a depression I have found myself at the bottom of, and try a little each day to find my creativity again.

I am still making things, mostly soap, and creative pursuits are starting to become interesting again slowly. I am taking this as a good sign :)

So I ask that you bear with my longer than normal absence, send me some good vibes, and hopefully I will be popping back in soon with something awesome I made!

But enough about me, how goes it with you?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

S.O.A.P Panel Scents 3 & 8

Yep, still here. These past couple weeks have been busy. Between the Symposium, company, my trip to Nashville, work being super task filled, and Hayden's and my weird hours, I have had almost zero brain power to write a blog post. But I am here now, so that counts, yes?

These are a couple more soaps I made for the S.O.A.P Panel before the deadline in the beginning of March. I used Scents 3 (a very sophisticated, feminine, almost perfume-y scent which I love) and 8 (the masculine scent). (My post on the other scents.) The recipe was the same for both scents (see below), I just made a 2 lb batch and divided it into 4 equal parts (as I was making duo colored soaps for each scent).



The actual soap turned out perfectly. Neither scent accelerated trace or caused any other problems. Scent 3 is a little weaker than I would have liked after a full 6 week cure, but it is still noticeable, and I still like it a lot. Scent 8, the masculine scent, is still strong after cure, and I like it even better in the finished soap.

My only issue with these soaps are the coloring. I went for blue and gray in the masculine soap as, of course, I was mulling over Sherlock Metas in my head, and I was thinking about how much I love the blue scarf/gray overcoat combo. The colors were vivid in the batter but dulled after curing. I think I need to start adding more than what I initially think I need with colorants as the lye can just fade them during the set up and cure. The colorants used were Natural Brazilian Clay and Blue Oxide. For feminine scent, I used my normal Titanium Dioxide/Olive Oil mixture for the white, and Aqua Pearl mica from Bramble Berry for, what I was hoping, would be a bright turquoise, but again, the color faded a bit. As I have said before, color is definitely a learning curve in soap making. I feel fairly confident in everything else, but color seems to still, be hit or miss.

Recipe for both scents:

  • Castor oil - 10%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degrees - 25%
  • Cocoa Butter - 5%
  • Olive Oil - 30%
  • Palm Oil - 30%
  • 1 TBSP Shredded Loofah
  • 2 tsp Sodium Lactate
My next soap, possibly this weekend, is going to be a hot process Oatmeal, Milk and Honey with actual milk and honey. And, keeping with my Sherlock obsession, I have started on a new cross stitch project which is a lovely trio of B&W portraits of my favorite boys. :)

Off to bed now though, after I do my nails, as I have almost a 9 hours roundtrip drive for a 5 hour meeting. Yes, 9 hours. Bleh.

What are you working on?



Thursday, March 20, 2014

No Post This Week



I am off for the next few days. The 4th Annual LGBT Symposium, the one I started in law school, is tomorrow and then I am heading up to see a friend in Nashville for a few days. I hope to be back next week with some new soap. I am thinking of a rich, chocolate soap using cocoa powder and cocoa butter.

Anyone use the powder in soap before? Did you like the results?


Friday, March 14, 2014

Black & White Kentish Rain Soap

As promised, here is a soap post! One of my co-workers requested a guy soap for her beloved, something manly, but clean, and moisturizing but exfoliating at the same time. I ended up going with the Kentish Rain scent, one of my favorites from the Men's Sampler from Bramble Berry. It is very clean and soapy smelling, with just a hint of hot guy running through it. She definitely loved it, and honestly, I always think the partner of the person using the soap has more of a say in how the soap smells since they are the ones who have to smell it, right?





Half the soap was colored with the Titanium Dioxide mixture I keep on hand, while the other half was colored with 1/2 tsp of Black Oxide mixed into 1oz of Olive Oil. I had originally planned on doing a simple spoon plop layer, but the batter was very slow to trace and wouldn't thicken up enough. I ended up just using a simple layer on layer of the colors and then using a spoon to mxi them together, a very simple Celine Swirl if you will, that didn't really swirl. It gelled in the mold, and although I wish it hadn't I am still quite pleased with the look of it. The scent retained quite nicely, and still is strong after almost 8 weeks. I will definitely be ordering more of this one!

Recipe

  • Sweet Almond Oil - 10%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degrees - 30%
  • Mango Butter - 5%
  • Palm Oil - 25%
  • Olive Oil - 30%
  • Superfat - 7%
  • 1tsp Ground Loofah
  • Titanium & Black Oxide for color
  • .5oz Kentish Rain FO
I made some new soap today, a facial bar. I have to wear a lot of makeup for my job. Not scary heavy, it looks great if I do say so myself, but I really have to go all out with foundation, bronzer, highlighter, blush, primers, eye shadows, and usually my cat eye liner with a colored liner over the top of that (again, it looks FAB!). I have been noticing that my fancy schmancy face cleansers do not take the stuff off my face like my handmade soap does, so I wanted to make something that would not only be beneficial to my skin, but also melt my war paint off my face without have to scrub. I just made it day, so it will be a few weeks before I share how it works, but I know I am not thrilled with the color. I used some Purple Brazilian Clay as a colorant and it just came out muddy. Not a big deal since I made it for me only, but still kind of sad it is not pretty. Oh well, soap and learn right?


Friday, March 7, 2014

An Absent Muse Makes for an Awesome Workout Buddy

One of the trails I run on at the local park.
Hello! As promised, even though my muse is still out visiting other people, I still have a post. I had said I will try to post at least once a week, and I am going to try to stick to it, although, since I am not making anything right now (I do have a few unposted soaps), I really don't know what the posts will be about. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

But yes, I still am trying to find the creative energy to make something (besides the soap for the SOAP Panel) lately, and have been for about a month now. I thought I might try to force it, because I want to keep the blog active and keep the few readers I have entertained. Forcing it is not the answer though, I don't think. When I try to , tell myself I have to make something to put on a blog post, nothing happens. All of a sudden it feels more like a job instead of something I do because I want to do it, or I need to do it, for my peace of mind. That is something I definitely do not want my creative time to become, something I have to do instead of wanting to do. So, I am assuming that my brain/muse/creative side just needs a break. Since my second year in law school I have been barreling through the creative world, learning a new hobby, going nuts with it, and then learning the next. Always making something while planning the next two projects in my head. It has been the perfect de-stressor, something to make my brain stop ticking through work to do lists, various issues I worry about (the downfall of Type A's), and all the other things that float through my head. It kept me sane during my husband's depression, law school, work and studying for the bar exam. But, right now,  I think I just need a reset, a complete creative shut down for a while to let myself regroup and refresh. Just some time to look at pretty things on Pintrest, read Sherlock FanFic, and let all these little inspirations just muck around in the back of my head till something pops out.

The good news is that my little creative funk is giving me the time to focus on something else as equally as important, my health. My smoking is down to just a few a day, usually at night after work (the stress of the job promotion still being up in the air is a large part of this). I have lost appx 15lbs. And, most awesomely, I am working out regularly again. Not just a few little walks just so I can say I did something, but strength and aerobic sessions that leave me out of breath, all sweaty, and sore the next day. I totally forgot how much I, dare I say, missed, those. The absolute feeling of accomplishment and power rushing through me when I drag my out of shape body through one of those like I did today.

Tomorrow I plan on trying to start running again. I actually miss running. I can't believe I said that but it's true. I hate it when I am doing it, but it always amazes me when I do it, because when I started working out in 2009 I could barely run for 10 seconds. Not an exaggeration at all. By 2011, I ran a 5k. Me, a 5K. At this point I am not sure if I will be able to run one of those any time soon. My bad leg always gives me trouble if I push myself to much, and of course, one wrong move can make my back go out for weeks at a time. But, I do want to try to build my strength in my core and my leg back up (which I think will help with the nerve problems and back issues), so I am starting from the beginning. I am not going to try to run like I was pre-leg issues. I am going to go back to my little Couch to 5K app, and start like I did when I could barely run for those dreadful, painful 10 seconds. I am going to continue my kick boxing and strength work outs and savor the feeling of sore muscles. I am going to continue to work on my smoking habit. And hopefully, soon, all of this exercise will kick start my muse, or at least give me stamina to chase her down and kick box her into submission.

What is going on with you guys lately?


Saturday, March 1, 2014

SmaskBook & Window Decals - Sherlock Style

Wow. It's been almost two weeks since my last post, and this time I don't even have the Bar Exam to blame it on. Yes, I can blame it on a few days down with a bad back, which was followed by a few days with a (still lingering) sinus infection, but still, that's a long time.

I think the main thing is that I am feeling, for the first time since I threw myself bodily into the creative game, like I am in a complete rut, or my mojo is gone, or something. I look at my fabric, at my papers, at the emails I get from shops, at my Pintrest boards, and nothing is inspiring me. Bleh. Not enjoying this at all! I think I am going to let it work it's way through though. Perhaps my brain need a creative break to recharge, and I am going to do my best to give it to it, unless something grabs me, like the following two things did.

I have mentioned I am fully in the grips of a Sherlock obsession. I have a tumblr account just so I can giggle over gifs, I have a Pintrest board, I am reading fanfic, and articles about the actors. Not since I got swept up in Harry Potter have I obsessed over fictional characters like this.

While kicking around on the internet, I started saving photos from the show that I liked, and then I had to do something with them other than let them sit in my downloads folder. So, wanting a slightly bigger canvas than normal, I pulled out the large purple SmashBook I got on clearance a few months ago. As an aside, this is my favorite SmashBook. I love the size, the papers in it, and how they have put some pocket pages for photos or journaling cards, envelopes for ephemera, and other little additions not found in the regular size books. Honestly, I wish they made all of them this size.

Anyhoo, I made a little page about my new favorite show. The main photo is a print of the wall in 221b Baker street complete with spray painted smiley face (which I poked holes into for the bullet holes) and Skull poster. Behind the key and the wallpaper print is some hidden journaling, and then of course, it is all photos of the two lovelies that grace the screen, Sherlock and John *le fangirl sigh*.



Not to be stopped there though, I also found some lovely vinyl car decals I wanted while poking around. But, who needs to buy things when you can make them yourself right? Using one of the png's I found on the net, I used some vinyl and my Silhouette Cameo to make a "Moriar Tea- That's what people brew" and a "JohnLock" (yep, that's my ship) decal for my car.



Made my whole nerdy day.

The top decal could have cut a little cleaner, but I didn't worry too much because I am wondering, since the vinyl is home decor vinyl from Hobby Lobby, how it will stand up to weather. They have been on for about 4 days and are looking good. I am going to give it about another month (and a few good southern thunderstorms) to see if they continue to look good. If so, I will most likely make another Tea decal and try to get it to cut a little cleaner.

So, with my fickle creative muse hiding from me (although I have been thinking of writing again, fanfic to blame!), posting may be a little more sporadic for a while, possibly once a week I hope, more if I find where she is hiding. (I have set out traps for her using coffee and chocolate, but I fear she is smarter than me.)

But, I have to ask, have any of you just completely lost your creative juice before? How long did it last? Did you ride it out, or did you make yourself at least try to make things to jump start it. I would love to hear :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Testing S.O.A.P. Panel Scents 5 & 6

Hi again! Sorry for the time away. I had a long stretch of work days and my back acted up putting me completely out of commission for anything but work. Plus, while I was laid up, I discovered Sherlock on the BBC. I am in the grips of a full on obsession with the show and characters, so much so I am even reading the fanfic for it. It still surprises me when I go even further down the geeky rabbit hole, but makes quite a lovely distraction.

I was planning on posting this Tuesday, and getting even more soap made yesterday, but neither of those things happened. I did something I very rarely do, usually because I just can't make it through a day without having my hands in at least two creative projects. I actually took both days, my two days off from work, completely off. I made nothing, I planned nothing, I did nothing. I read fanfic and just let my brain completely shut off. Very restful.

Over the past couple weeks, I was able to do a couple batches of soap for the SOAP Panel scents. One being Scent 5, the garden scent (Note to Jenny, the scent did die down quit a bit, especially after rebatching), and Scent 6, the one that reminded me of Fuzzy Navels, a distinct peachy scent. (My post about my first impressions of the scents is here.)

I did Scent 6 as a Hot Process batch, and it came out lovely at first. The color was nice, and the scent came out strong, but not too strong. The only issue I had while cooking was the oils separating on me, but I think that was because I had the crockpot on too high. I was able to stick blend it back together quite quickly. But, I didn't add sodium lactate, so even after 1 week of being out of mold and cut, it still was soft with a spongy like texture. The actual look of the soap really didn't change much between either the look of it after HP it, or after rebatching. The photo is pre-rebatch.



For Scent 5, I tried out my cylinder mold from Bramble Berry and did an In the Pot Swirl Technique with green and white. The for my first attempt at this technique I was very impressed with the swirl, but this soap had problems too. I was expecting some acceleration of trace as it was a more floral scent so I mixed the lye and oils together at much lower temps (appx 120 degrees for the lye, 90 degrees for the oil), and used a whisk to mix in the colors and the fragrance. I didn't get any trace problems, but after pouring into the mold, the batter, and mold, kept getting warmer and warmer until the top cracked. Then, even after a week, it still was soft at the bottom. So, to solve both of the soap batches issues, I rebatched both, adding lactate to both.




I was hoping that some of the color differentiation in the garden scent would stay, but since I am a chronic stirrer of anything cooking in a pot, it basically tuned into a uniform green color with just a few flecks of white, which I still actually like a lot. And the look is so smooth, like cream (well except for the air pockets).The peach scent lost the majority of the spongy texture, but is still a little softer than my other HP soaps.



I am planning on doing two more batches this Sunday if I can tear myself away from Sherlock long enough (haha). I am also, for my scrappy and paper crafting readers, hoping to do a SmashBook page either about my new found obsession or a photo I found on the internet of the old theater I went to see movies in as a kid. Knock on wood :)

Oh, and before I go, here are the recipes I used:

Scent 5 - Garden Scent

  • Castor Oil - 5%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degree - 25%
  • Palm Oil - 30%
  • Rice Bran Oil - 30%
  • Shea Butter - 10%
  • 1 tsp Kaolin Clay (adds creaminess and slip)
  • 18mL Scent 5
  • 1 tsp Sodium Lactate on rebatching
  • Green Oxide  and titanium dioxide for Color
Scent 6 - Peach Scent
  • Avocado Oil - 5%
  • Castor Oil - 10%
  • Coconut Oil, 76 Degree - 25%
  • Palm Oil - 30%
  • Rice Bran Oil - 30%
  • .5oz Scent 5
  • 6 mL Amber Lab Color
  • 1 tsp Sodium Lacate on rebatching
What is up in your world right now?