Monday, February 28, 2011

Indulgence Interview

It's been a while since I've done a Soap Queen interview. Enjoy!

Meet Silvia from Indulgence by SV. Soaps on Etsy.  When I got the soap, they were cute, creative and fragrant. I didn't even want to use them, I just wanted to smell them and put them on display. What's even better is that her soaps in person looked just like the soaps do on her site! After opening my soapy package, I emailed the owner, Silvia and asked her if she would do a Soap Queen Interview. Thank you, Silvia- I'm so glad I get to share your rock star soaps with our readers!

Anne-Marie: We always like to ask this question: How did you get started making soap and toiletries?

Silvia: I started making soap in 1997. I found that my skin was becoming sensitive to commercial soaps. My skin was dry and itchy all the time and no matter what I used to moisturize my skin, nothing seemed to help. One evening my mom and I were watching the news and they were doing a piece on the effects of commercial soap on your skin and were inspired to start making natural soaps ourselves. We bought every book we could find on natural soap making and started experimenting. From that point on I was hooked. 

Anne-Marie: Is this a part time or full time Job? Hobby?     

Silvia: Making soap is a full time job for me. It started off as a hobby and quickly became an obsession. Now I live and breathe soap.

Anne-Marie: What’s the best part about being self employed?

Silvia: I love being my own boss and being able to make my own hours. Although I end up working many more hours than I would if I had a traditional 9 to 5 job.

Anne-Marie: What was the most surprising thing about starting your own business?

Silvia: The most surprising thing I found about starting my own business is how time consuming the administrative and marketing duties can be aside from creating my products. I am always trying to find new and inventive ways to get my products out there.

Anne-Marie: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What keeps you busy when you’re not making soap?

Silvia: I am a mother of two very busy boys ages 5 and 2. They keep running in circles all day long. It is a challenge having a young family and a prosperous business and I enjoy every minute of it.

Anne-Marie:  Do you have a favorite Bramble Berry Product? If so, which one and why?

Silvia: There are so many Bramble Berry products that I love and it’s hard to choose just one but I absolutely love the Rise and Shine Fragrance Oil. Ever since the first time I tried it I have been addicted. It is by far my favorite scent of all time.

Anne-Marie: That's a great fragrance choice. I'm sucker for citrus. Check back in Tuesday, everyone. I have a ton more questions for Silvia and her Indulgence soaps. In the mean time, check out Silvia's Blog, Website and Etsy Shop. Until then, happy soaping!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How are your goals doing?

An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied. ~Arnold Glasow

Goals Concept

Hi Team,

We're well into 2011 now. Remember those goals that you came up with at the beginning of the year? How are you doing on them now?

Take five minutes today to review your public declaration, review where you're at on your goals and re-dedicate yourself to making this YOUR year.  If you need to take corrective action, make it either one of two things:

1) Why do you need corrective action? Were your goals unreasonable for your lifestyle? Did you make a goal without much thought to how your real, day-to-day life could sustain that goal? (Pssst ... it's okay if you did. It's totally normal and we all know that if you shoot for the stars, there's a good chance that you'll end up among the clouds at least).  If this is the case, review the goal and CHANGE IT to make it work with your lifestyle and your bandwidth.

2) If your goal is perfectly reasonable but you've simply fallen off the wagon, re-dedicate yourself to your goal. Remind yourself why you made the goal to start with, talk to your family and friends about how they can support you and give yourself visual reminders of your goal (lists, positive pictures etc...)

I'm right there along with you today. I just wrote my Accountability Group and requested a change to one of my goals, mid-quarter. It turns out, the larger I get (thank you, unborn healthy baby boy ...), the less motivated I am to work out (shuffling like a water buffalo down my former running trail just isn't on my list of awesome things to do right now). So, I 'fessed up, asked for help and am changing up my goals a bit to ensure that I stay physically active through my last 7 weeks of my pregnancy.

Join me? I'd love the company of all my Soap Queen family doing a re-focus along with me.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Make Embedded Melt & Pour Jellyroll Soap on Soap Queen TV!

Learn how to combine 2 melt & pour techniques in this episode of Soap Queen TV. First, make a pink and white jellyroll soap which is a variation on the Pinwheel Soap Technique from the 4th of July Special Edition video. Then, embed the jellyroll into a melt and pour loaf, demonstrated in one of the earliest episodes of Soap Queen TV.

For this project I used hot pink, stark white and sparkly black for a striking, retro 80’s look (or as I like to call it, "retro-tastic!"), but feel free to choose any color combination.

How to Make Embedded Jelly Roll Soap from Soap Queen on Vimeo.

Clear M&P Soap Base
White M&P Soap Base
Non-Bleeding Red Color
Red-Blue Mica
Black Mica
Ginger Fish Fragrance
Strawberry Fragrance
Liquid Glycerin
Loaf Mold
Flexible Silicone Tray Mold 

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My Parents are Wild 'n' Crazy!

Yes, NZ has beaches!
Now that the kids are long gone out of the house, my parents have totally gotten the travel bug! It started a long, multi-year (3+) stint as a traveling doctor back in 2002. My Dad (with Mom firmly in tow) went around to all sort of countries, states (in the US) and any place that was stable and needed a temporary Doctor. They had such a good time on their 3 year travel extravaganza that they've been dreaming about it ever since. 

All sights from NZ
Though they visited many, many locations in the 3 years they were doing the traveling Doc gig, their favorite place (by far!) was New Zealand. They often spoke of it, fondly, and said many times that they would emigrate over there if it only wasn't for us kids in Washington state.

I know it looks cold, but they have super warm days too!
Us kids are extremely thankful that they are holding themselves back from their dreams and sacrificing by living in the oh-so-horrible Pacific Northwest (tongue firmly in cheek). This fall, my Dad surprised my Mom with a 3 month job in New Zealand - he gave her less than 2 weeks to pack and get ready - and they were off the day after Thanksgiving! He turned his medical practice in Olympia, WA over to an extremely competant physcian who was in-between jobs and then it was off to their great adventure.

It's been difficult for me to have them gone with everything that's going on with their soon-to-be-born grandson but it is a bit of a consolation prize to continue to get the beautiful photos that they send. My Dad took ALL of these photos himself. He's a decent photographer with an amazing subject matter and the photographs clearly show that.

They are coming home in one week and we are thrilled to have them home soon. Of course, they are leaving on a sad note - the earthquake in New Zealand has been hard to comprehend. They are terribly saddened by the devastation caused by the earthquake. Though they are safe, it is difficult to see such a beautiful area torn up and so many families torn apart by the natural disaster. It is an odd coincidence that the last 4 countries they visited have had earthquakes while my folks have been there. I feel like I should put out a travel alert whenever they leave U.S. soil since so far, it's a 100% correlation with that country having an earthquake!

I hope you enjoyed some of the photos that they've had in their 3 months in New Zealand. They whole-heartedly endorse the country as a fantastic place to live and a must-visit spot for your Bucket List. =)

pssst: There's a new SoapQueen.TV tomorrow! I'm posting it to the blog in the afternoon so check back tomorrow to see the soapy fun.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New E-Zine Alert!

New Lovin' Soap E-Zine hits the stands (well, the virtual stands) March 4th!

Here's a sneak peek at some of the drool worthy projects:
Hint: Can you say LabColors?

Combining melt and pour and cold process soap. 

Get Lovin' Soap Volume 1 and get ready for Lovin' Soap Volume 2!

Lovin' Soap Vol 1
If you still can't get enough, check out a Lovin' Soap tutorial: Chai Latte Love and the Lovin' Soap Blog.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Soapylove Tutorial: Sparkly Strawberry Sorbet Soaps

When I saw Bramble Berry's new glitter colors, I knew I'd have to try them out.  Hot Pink Glitter?  Yes, please!  For this tutorial I'm using the Soapylove Ice Cream Cone Mold to feature this beautiful sparkly glitter and delicious Strawberry Jam fragrance!

2 oz Naturally Clear soap base
1 lb Bright White soap base
Fiery Fuchsia from the Jewelry Box Colorant Set
Iridescent Pink Glitter
Super Pearly White Mica
Strawberry Jam Fragrance Oil (now available in a refill size!)
Ice Cream Cone Mold
Injector Soap Tool
Spray bottle with rubbing alcohol

First, get 2 mugs.  Fill one 1/4 full with water, and one with your clear soap base.  Heat the water in the microwave until very hot (about 30-40 seconds).  Now melt your soap base for 20 seconds in the microwave.  Add one drop of Fiery Fuchsia color and a pinch (or two!) of pink glitter.  Stir well.

Draw up about 1/2" of pink soap into your injector tool and carefully fill the ice cream scoops in the mold.  I find that if I outline the scoop shape and let the soap flood into the center that it won't overflow into the cone area.  Once you are done filling your scoops, squirt extra soap back into your soap mug and immediately draw up hot water into the tool to wash.  Repeat until all soap is rinsed out.  Allow soap to harden.

Now add a small amount of mica to your pink soap.  You can see I just dipped my stick into the jar and got plenty. You may need to reheat your soap a bit in case it has gotten too thick in your mug.  Stir mica into soap until incorporated.  

Spray hardened pink "scoops" lightly with alcohol.  Use your injector tool to fill the cone area and backs of scoops with pearly pink soap, and the dots around the edges (if you think the dots will be too tricky, just skip this step - it looks great without contrast dots, too!). Rinse injector tool and allow soap to harden. 

Melt white soap base and stir in 2 teaspoons of fragrance oil.  Make sure soap is not hotter than 120 degrees so you don't melt your ice cream cone layers.  Spray hardened soap with alcohol and top off mold with white soap.  Allow to harden and unmold.

For a pink background simply stir your leftover pink soap into the melted white soap.  No waste!  :)
FYI, the Fiery Fuchsia is technically a "bleeding" color, but I made this project over 2 weeks ago and the color is still not bleeding! 

Love this mold?  Check out this other tutorial for a different look.  Want some packaging ideas?  Check out this post for some gorgeous designs plus one made specifically for this soap!  Enjoy!

-Debbie, Soapylove

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Are You the Next S.O.A.P Member?

Introducing Bramble Berry's Spring 2011 Floral S.O.A.P Team!

Holly with Lotion Bar Cafe

New S.O.A.P. members, please email SOAP@brambleberry(dot)com with your shipping address so we can get these fragrances out the door and you can start having fun!

Thank you to all for Blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking all of about Bramble Berry and S.O.A.P! It was so fun reading about your favorite Bramble Berry product (seriously, I could do that all day, everyday).

I wish that everyone could be on the panel but we have a limited amount of fragrances to go around. Since there was so much interest in this panel, we'll be putting another one together soon (like, in the next 6 weeks!) to test some fall/summer fragrances (think fun and fruity). So keep your eyes peeled for the announcement.

Jeanee from Dirty Laundry was on our very first S.O.A.P panel. She tested the fragrances in these mini cupcake bath fizzies (see blog post here). Be sure to check out her blog - we seriously heart her!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Luck of the Green Beer (CP tutorial)

5.5 oz. Cocoa Butter
16.5 oz. Coconut Oil
11 oz. Olive Oil
16.5 oz. Palm Oil
1.6 oz. Shea Butter
3.8 oz. Shea Oil
1 tsp Vitamin E Oil (optional superfat)
2 Cups of Light Beer (we used Coors Light)
14 small plastic cups (5 fl. oz. each)

Plastic Cups (5 fl. oz.)

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If you have never made cold process soap before, I strongly suggest getting a couple of  basic recipes under your belt before diving in...working with beer is an advanced technique. Check out Soap Queen TV on Cold Process if you want to get started with cold process. It's a 4 part series that will take you through the basics (and be sure to watch the episode on Lye Safety). Lye is serious business and you must, must, must understand the ramifications of working with it BEFORE starting this recipe. If you're a book worm, Bramble Berry also has some helpful reading on the cold process technique.

PREP: The first step to a successful beer batch (in my opinion) is boiling flat beer. Let your beer sit open for 24 hours to get rid of the fizz, then boil it for about 5 minutes to cook out all of the alcohol. The beer really 'poofs' up during this boiling phase so don't leave it unattended. Boil a little more than 2 cups of light beer just to be on the safe side (you’ll lose a little liquid when you cook the beer due to evaporation). Let the beer cool back down to room temperature before you get started. We used "light" beer for this project because dark beer discolors the soap brown.

ONE: Melt and measure the Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Palm Oil, and Shea Oil. Then hand stir in your Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter until all of the oils are in liquid form.

TWO: SAFETY UP! Goggles on. Gloves on. Kids out of the way. No pets around. Safety, safety, safety first! Then, measure out your lye (by weight) and beer (by volume) and slowly add the lye to the beer in 3 batches (pour a little lye and stir - repeat 2 more times). The reason we add the lye slowly is because it tends to roil and boil over if you add the lye to the beer too quickly (even if the beer is flat). Repeat until the lye is completely added and stir until the lye is dissolved. Let the lye mixture cool to about 130 degrees.

THREE: Slowly and carefully, add the lye mixture to the combined oils pouring down the side of the stick blender to avoid bubbles. Mix with your stick blender for about 30 seconds.

FOUR: Separate the batch in half. You can measure exactly or eyeball it like I did. Immediately get half of the batter into an electric mixer. Do not add fragrance to the electric mixer portion yet. While it’s mixing on medium, add 1 teaspoon of the Titanium Dioxide Slurry (see below for directions) and 6 ml of diluted Green Apple Labcolor. Keep the mixer on while while we work with the second half of the batter.

Titanium Dioxide Slurry: Mix 1 teaspoon of Titanium Dioxide with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix with a mini mixer.

FIVE: To the other half of the batter, mix in ½ teaspoon of Super Pearly White Mica and 24 ml of Diluted Green Apple LabColor. Stick blend until you have a light beautiful green trace. Then add 3.5 ounces of Honey Ale Fragrance Oil and mix with your stick blender.

Optional Superfat: Add 1 Teaspoon of Vitamin E Oil now and hand stir it in.

SIX: Fill up all 14 of your small plastic cups ¾ of the way up (leave room at the top for your "beer foam").

SEVEN: Time to check on the "foam". It should be light and fluffy and slightly tinted green. Add 1.5 oz. of fragrance oil (we're using less in this side because we want our foam to stay as light as possible). If the foam tamps down a bit, just speed up your mixer for a couple minutes and your foam should poof back up. Spoon the whipped soap on top of the green beer layer and smooth it with the back of your spoon.

EIGHT: Put the soaps into the fridge over night so they cool and discolor evenly (the Honey Ale discolors slightly, but it works perfectly for our green beer). Then release from the plastic cups and let cure for 4-6 weeks. 
Then bask in all the glory of your hard work!

PS - Thank you Amanda from Lovin' Soap for inspiring us with your Chai Tea soap project to make this Beer Soap!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

7 1/2 Months Bump Report

I've grown a whole inch and a half this month! I'm at 37" at my widest point in my belly (no, I'm still not measuring my hips) and last month, on the 16th, I was 35 1/2"! Our little baby boy is growing and apparently, growing quickly. 

He weighs at least 3 pounds (think large head of a cabbage) and is supposedly around 16 to 18 inches. I can definitely tell he's growing by the fun love taps he delivers with increasing vigor. The latest thing I am loving about pregnancy is watching my belly move. It is so cool to know there's a fully formed little human being in there! And, clearly, he's wanting a bit more space (sorry little guy!).

To see my progress from last month, here is last month's update post. It's a pretty big change!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Going Vertical

Our latest pride and joy mold is finally here! 
Introducing the Vertical Wood Mold (tutorial coming soon):

Vertical Wood Mold: Made with the same care and craftsmanship as our wildly popular Baltic Birch Molds, these exquisite molds are hand crafted here in Bellingham, Washington. The vertical style allows for unique and creative swirling and layering techniques that will wow your friends and customers.

We have been so enjoying how innovative soap looks with the vertical technique. Fully lined with heat resistant, food grade plastic, this soap mold needs no lining (but does require patience of else you can rip the soap sides getting those liners off!). 

Built in divider for perfect layers

Finished soap made in this mold by Kat at Otion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Building for the Future!

Remember when I told you about our new warehouse last year? Here's an update: It's still in progress. Building the warehouse was the quickest part; now we have to get sprinklers for ALL of Bramble Berry's original 13,000 square foot warehouse and we have many other equally important projects that need completed before we can move in. We're bursting at the seams so it's a little maddening to gaze into that big empty building (I know it doesn't look like it, but that's 2700 square feet of empty space with huge ceilings to allow for full pallet racking). But we will be moved in there soon (ish?).

Meanwhile, inside we are expanding into the offices in the front part of the building (that we used to rent out to another business). When I originally bought this building, I knew I wanted room for Bramble Berry to expand...and (thanks to you guys!) expanding we are!

Upstairs, we're pulling down the ceiling and insulation so that the sprinklers can be installed. And look what we found? Miles and miles and miles of old telephone and data cables (anyone looking for extras?). It looks like a disaster right now but when it's finished, we'll be equipped to serve our customers better - which is the silver lining and the light at the end of the tunnel for me. Running this project and keeping boxes shipping, has been no easy feat (but rest assured, we like a challenge - bring on the orders!).   

Friday, February 11, 2011

Did Someone Say S.O.A.P?

We are in search for the new Soap Opinion (Awesome) Panel!
This panel is all about FLORALS!

What's the S.O.A.P. panel you ask? Soap Opinion (Awesome) Panel members will receive 6-7 one ounce fragrance samples of my top floral choices for Spring 2011. Give the cutting-edge fragrances a sniff AND test them in any product you like (really, anything you want). Then fill out a survey to help distinguish the top choices. I want your honest opinion and notes on testing!

How to apply: Tweet, Facebook or Blog about your favorite Bramble Berry product (including links) and why you should be selected for the S.O.A.P. Panel. We'll announce the finalists on Friday, February 18th so get your tweets, posts and blogs done by the 17th. Note: your Tweets should have @brambleberry someplace in the body of the Tweet but make sure they don't just get directed directly to @brambleberry or else no one else can see them! =)

Fine Print: I will be sending out the fragrances by Wednesday the 23rd (at the latest) and I would like the surveys complete by April 4th, which gives you about 4 weeks to test the fragrances. Please keep these dates mind before you enter. I'm looking for an accountable and enthusiastic panel!

Have you been on the S.O.A.P. panel before? Feel free to enter again! 

Check out the members of the very first S.O.A.P. Panel.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Loofah Cold Process Soap Tutorial

Loofah soap can be super scrubby on the skin. I designed this recipe with a mild scrub in mind. This recipe is great because it has a nice gentle scrub on one side of the soap and it's silky smooth on the other. Plus the fragrance combination of Pomegranate and Mint is positively swoon-worthy.

 1.0 oz Jojoba Oil
11.20 oz Olive Oil
10.5 oz Distilled Water

1 Tablespoon Shredded Loofah 

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Preparation: Safety First: familiarize yourself with the safety precautions of Cold Process Soap Making. Please watch these videos on Lye Safety, Basic Terms, Using Fragrance and Essential Oils, Using Colorants. Review the lye safety blog post here. Also, be sure to line your mold ahead of time with freezer paper.

ONE: In your soaping gear (gloves, goggles and long sleeves) prepare your Lye Water.

TWO: Heat/melt and combine the Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Palm Oil and Sweet Almond Oil. Then mix in the Shea Butter until fully melted and incorporated.

TIP: When adding the shea butter to your melted oil, put the stick blender right on top of the shea and blend it in. Trap it down on the bottom. This will speed up the process of the normal hand stirring.

THREE: Carefully add your Lye water to the oils and mix with your stick blender.

TIP: Remember to "burp" your stick blender by tapping the air out of your stick blender before you start mixing.

FOUR: Once all of the ingredients are combine split the batch in two containers (make sure they're big enough to mix in). Does not have to be perfect but try to eyeball it the best that you can.

FIVE: In one half of the batter, add 1 tablespoon of shredded loofah and 1.5 ounce of Moonlight Pomegranate fragrance oil. Mix well. Moonlight Pomegranate is an Advanced Soaper Fragrance; it will want to separate on you but if you keep mixing and mixing and mixing with the stick blender you’ll get it to incorporate. The fragrance combo is worth the effort! But, if you want something easier because you're not quite sure you want to deal with a fragrance that likes to separate? Mangosteen or Berry "I smell horrible out of the bottle but soap up way nicer" Wine would be great with Mint!

SIX: Pour this layer into your lined, 9 Bar Baltic Birch Mold.

 SEVEN: In the second half of your batter, add about ½ teaspoon of Super Pearly White mica and 1.5 ounce of Moroccan Mint fragrance Oil. Give it a mix with the stick blender and pour the second layer.

TIP: Pour the second layer over a spoon or spatula so the top layer does not break through the bottom layer.

EIGHT: Carefully smooth the top layer out with your spatula. Leave as is or texture the top of your soap using a spoon or whisker. Have your dividers assembled already and carefully place them in the mold.

NINE: Let the soap harden up for 24 hours and it’s ready to unmold and cure for 4-6 weeks.

PS - We're testing the awesome soap beveler that I used to bevel this soap above. I can't wait to approve that nifty piece of equipment for sale!