Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Throwback Supper

Last night I was on my own for supper.  A friend mentioned tuna, which reminded me of a delicious tuna macaroni and cheese dish we used to make in college.  So I made tuna mac.

Here’s the recipe.  Prepare a box of macaroni and cheese using double the amount of milk called for.  Add a can of cream of mushroom soup, a bag of tuna (a can if you’re going old school), and a can of mushrooms.  Mix together and heat on the stove for a few minutes.  That’s it!



As you can see, it’s nothing pretty to look at.  And it’s nothing special.  It’s just comfort food that I enjoy once in a while.  It’s so quick to fix that I didn’t have to give up much soap making time. 

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lobster Soaps

The reason I got into soapmaking in the first place is because of my sister, owner of my little studio on Kent Island in Stevensville, Maryland.  Her regular soapmaker had to stop consiging soap, so I offered to "give it a try" so her studio could still have the great smell of homemade soap.  I instantly fell in love with making soap. Thank you for encouraging me and supporting me in my soap addiction, sis!

With that in mind, it’s about time I made some lobster soaps with customers of my little studio and Island Arts in mind.  Here they are.  These guys will be on their way to Maryland later this week if all goes as planned.



I didn’t want to make them smell like raw seafood.  I didn’t think they should smell like flowers either.  I used a wonderfully earthy-salty-oceany fragrance from Bramble Berry called Sea Moss.  It’s a very fresh scent that is perfect for these soaps.

The lobsters were fun to make.  Of course they were.  I haven't made a soap yet that I didn't enjoy making.  First I poured the red and let it set up.  I forgot all about taking pictures in progress.  Then I poured in the white soap at just the right temperature so it didn’t melt the red soap.  I hope people will enjoy them.

Here's a lobster trio.



Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New Lip Balm Flavors

When I make lip balms, I tend to make lots at once.  Then I add the labels and shrink tubes, fire up the heat gun and seal them up.  Here’s a picture of a few lip balms waiting to be sealed.  I have tried a few different shrink bands for the lip tubes.  My favorite ones are  from Bramble Berry



After the sealing is complete and my hand that holds the lip balms as I seal them is numb from the heat, I put the ready-to-go lip balms away in alphabetical order.  That makes it easy to find the ones I want and easy to see what needs to be replenished. 

Here are a couple of pictures showing how I organize them.  Oops!  I must have forgotten to sing the alphabet song as I organized the ones in the second photo.
 



Here are a few new flavors recently added to the plethora of flavors already offered.
 

Blackberry Grape

Cinnamon Candy

French Silk Pie

Fresh Brewed Coffee

Fresh Whipped Cream

Mocha Frappuccino

Pineapple Slices

Wild Cherry Candy (formerly named Wild Cherry)

You can find lip balms at the SoapArt Website or on Etsy.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

National Pig Day is March 1st

March 1, 2012 is National Pig Day!  You can see more about it by clicking on the link.

To celebrate National Pig Day, I’m offering my Smiling Pig Soaps at 33% off now through March 1st.   Don’t miss out on this great pig sale.  Click here to check it out.


Also pig-related, but not on sale is SoapArt Crispy Sizzling Bacon Lip Balm.



Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel Fragrance Testing #10 After Two Weeks

As I write this, I can look out my window and see big, fluffy snowflakes that melt as they hit the ground.  It’s the perfect snowfall!  But I digress.

I have a habit of smelling soap that is curing.  Today I just had to have a fix of the #10 fragrance from Bramble Berry.  So I picked up the #10 CP soap and inhaled deeply.  When I removed it from my nose (just kidding - I didn’t really put my nose right on it.  But just in case, if you win a gift set, you might not want #10), I took a closer look at it. 

Here’s what I saw (#10 is the bottom right soap).  The last time I posted a picture of this baby at one week old, you could still see the maroon in #10. Not anymore.  Now there's just a very faint outline.

                                           Cold Process Soaps at 2 Weeks

This seems really odd – I am seeing a kind of green sheen to the dark brown bar. Does anybody else see this?  The brown is actually a little darker than it appears in the picure above.  

Here’s the one week photo for comparison.



In comparing the 3 day photo with the 2 week photo, I see some differences in #8, #9 and #10.  The others haven't darkened much if at all.  Seeing #10 so dark after just two weeks makes me wonder if there will be any way to get something besides dark brown/green soap from this fragrance in Cold Process soap. 

You know what?  I really don’t care.  I just love fragrance #10.

Thanks for reading!   

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gift Set Giveaway Sweepstake Details

It has been so much fun being part of the Bramble Berry Summer S.O.A.P. Panel!

I appreciate that Bramble Berry sent 10 fragrances for me to test and did not charge me anything for them (and paid the shipping too!). 

Now I’d like to pass on the love by holding a Gift Set Give Away Sweepstakes.  You have read about the fragrances, you’ve seen the soaps and lotion bars, and have rendered many kind and encouraging comments to SoapArt and the other test panel members.  In case you missed it, you can see it by looking back through my blog.

After hearing and seeing so much about these fabulous fragrances, wouldn’t you love to get some for yourself?  And wouldn’t getting them for free be even better?  If you are nodding your head yes, then read on!  You could win one of these sets.  Not pictured, but also included in each set, is a hand-knit cotton wash cloth.



You can find all the information you need to enter the sweepstakes here.  The event starts today. 

Winners will be announced on March 21, which also just happens to be, and I’m not making this up, drum roll please, Fragrance Day! 

Three gift sets will be given away.  Each set will be made up of products made from a test fragrance of your choice. 

For complete Gift Set Give Away Sweepstake details, please go to SoapArtOnline.

Thanks for reading! 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

All Things Bacon Festival Draws 5000 Bacon Enthusiasts

This past weekend, the 5th Annual All Things Bacon Festival was held in Des Moines, Iowa. 

You can read a short report on it here http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46443423/ns/local_news-des_moines_ia/t/best-bacon-sold-out-crowd-packs-fairgrounds-event-celebrating-all-things-bacon/

I wasn’t able to attend, but from the news report, it appears they had a full house.  From the newsclip I saw on TV, it looked like a fun time. 

Maybe next year I can take my bacon flavored lip balms and share some bacony goodness without the calories.  They don’t contain any bacon, but they do smell just like bacon. Yum! Bacon without the fat and calories.

Here’s what one happy SoapArt customer said about these little gems, “good stuff! My husband and brother loved the bacon lip balm and will be wanting more! Thanks ( I do hope that any stray dogs don't chase them when they're wearing it! )” 

  


Friday, February 17, 2012

Overall Ratings of Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel Fragrances

Sadly, I am finished testing the www.BrambleBerry.com fragrances in products.  It has been lots of fun.  Here are the ratings for the fragrances.  It was hard to give any of them just one star, but there were a couple that I was less smitten by (not supposed to end in a preposition, but how else can I say it? smote me less?).  And there were five fragrances I absolutely had to give all three stars. 

Here’s the scale:

*        Good
**       Better
***      Best  I want this, and I think most of my customers will too.
Please, please, please, Bramble Berry, put this one in your permanent lineup.

Here are the ratings:

#1 **  I think most customers will like the freshness of this one.

#2 *   Nice citrus blend, but doesn’t hold up as well in CP and Wax      

#3 **  Stunning in CP, great in lotion bars, but less exciting in MP and wax.

#4 *** Fresh and clean that I think almost anyone will enjoy.

#5 *    It’s pleasant and sweet, but it’s just not that memorable.

#6 *** Sweet and delicious in all test products.  I think this will have wide appeal.

#7 **  My second favorite; may not appeal to people who aren’t in love with florals.   

#8 *** Grows on you.  Better in product than in the bottle.  Yummy and sweet!

#9 *** Mild, pleasant and sweet.  Fresh, too.  Should hold wide appeal.

#10***My #1 pick.  Love it!

Here's another picture of a set I'll be giving away in the Gift Set Giveaway.  Full details will be presented next week. 


What fragrance sound the best to you?  I would love to know what you think about the fragrances after reading this and the other tester's thoughts on the fragrances.  If you don't want to reply here, you can go to the SoapArt Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/SoapArt and let me know what you think. 
I'd love to hear from you! 

If you missed the other tester's posts on the fragrance testing, here's a URL where you can find links to all the testers.  http://www.soapqueen.com/bramble-berry-news/summer-2012-s-o-a-p-team-clap-clap-clap/


Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wax Waffle Results for Bramble Berry’s S.O.A.P Panel Fragrance Testing

I am still having a blast testing the Bramble Berry fragrances.  Thanks, Bramble Berry (www.BrambleBerry.com) for this great opportunity!

My most recent testing adventure was with Wax Waffles aka wax melts or tarts.  I used 100% soy wax and fragranced at 10%.  The fragrances didn’t change much once in the wax.  I colored quite heavily, so if the fragrances did change color, it doesn’t show – yet.  I thought about leaving them uncolored, but if you've been reading, you know that I am addicted to color.

Here’s a very uninteresting photo of the wax waffles so you can see the colors.  I'll show you a better picture of a wax waffle toward the end of the post.



Here are very short summaries of what I smelled once the fragrance spent some time in the wax.

1.    I smelled fruit and green; in the wax there was more fruit than green.

2.    This one still smells like citrus to me.  I didn’t smell any grapefruit dry down in the wax like I did from the bottle and in the melt and pour soap.

3.    This one is just a nice fruity woody blend in the wax.

4.    I still like the name Open Window for this fragrance.  I still think of fabric softener too.  In the wax, I sensed some sort of a green/grassy note.  I can’t quite put my finger on what it is.  It’s not a sweet grass, but a minty-grassy smell.

5.    The punch is back in the wax melts.  All I got was fruit punch when I smelled the wax.

6.    This one is Pina Colada to me in everything now, even straight out of the bottle.

7.    I get mostly gardenia in the wax melts.  The green I smelled in the Cold Process didn’t seem to be there.  It’s delightfully sweet to me, but (I hate to say it) may be a bit too florally sweet for those who aren’t big floral fans.

8.    I still have no clue what this is, but it’s sweet and wonderful in the wax melts.  I’m still surprised at how much I like this one given it was not love at first sniff.

9.    In the wax melts, I get a Lemon Meringue Pie effect.  Delicious!

10. This one is still alluring in the wax melts, and is still my favorite.  Rich, dark and sultry.

I’ll post my overall ratings for the fragrances in a day or two. 

Don't forget to check back for the announcement of the Gift Set Giveaway Contest. 

Here’s a sneak peek of a set (and the promised better picture at the end of the post).  You can't see the waffle part of the wax waffles.  But if I had turned it over, you'd see that it looks wafflish.  You can see a picture of the waffle side of a wax waffle at


Do you recognize this fragrance?



Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Soap from Scratch - Cold Process results for Bramble Berry's S.O.A.P. Test Fragrances

Testing the fragances in the Cold Process soap making method was my favorite testing process so far.  I get a lot of enjoyment from making soap from scratch.  Here are the results.

First, here’s my setup for the fragrance testing cold process soap. 



Here's a look at how the fragrances looked when added to the raw soap.  Fragrance #1 got left out.



The pictures below show how the soaps looked right after pouring and at various times thereafter.  The soaps are arranged #1-4 in the top row, #5-7 in the middle, and #8-10 on the bottom.  Some darkened considerably, others not so much.  It appears that #7 discolored very little, if at all. 

Right after pouring.



Two hours after pouring.



One Day after pouring.



Two Days after pouring.



Three Days after pouring.



I began adding the fragrances when the soap was at very light trace.  I used a stick to gently stir each of the fragrances in about 4 ounces of soap.   It took about a half hour to get them all done. 

As for the fragrances speeding up trace, #7 is the only one that noticeably sped up trace. The others didn’t seem to speed up trace.  They all were easy to work with. 

I put a bit of color on each one for three reasons. 
  • First, I love color. 
  • Second, it gave me a back-up plan in case they somehow got mixed up. 
  • Third (I saved the best for last), I’ll be giving away three gift sets of coordinating goodies that were made during the fragrance testing.  I’ll post more information about the gift set giveaway later this month. 

Here are my thoughts on the fragrances in Cold Process soap.  My overall impression is that the individual notes of each fragrance tended to blend together very nicely for a smooth effect in the Cold Process soap.

1.    Very fresh, with notes of fruit and greenery.

2.    I still smell citrus, but the grapefruit note doesn’t come through like it did in the melt and pour and lotion bars.

3.    I love this one in CP best of all.  It smells more woodsy to me in CP and less fruity. 

4.    Throw that window wide open!  This one is a clean breeze on a summer day. 

5.    This one lost its punch in the Cold Process soap (meaning it doesn’t smell like fruit punch to me like it did in the lotion bars and the melt and pour soap).  It’s pleasant, and not as punchy as in other mediums.

6.    This one is still strong.  Now it’s pina colada all the way. 

7.    This one is a bit milder in CP.  I smell less gardenia than in the melt and pour and lotion bars.  I smell some green notes that I didn’t smell before.  It’s kind of like the flower and green part blended together. 

8.    I can’t believe I was hesitant about this one at first.  I love it in CP!  I want to eat it.  If it’s not a food one, I’ll have to adjust my thinking. 

9.    Nice and strong!  I smell lemon zest in the CP. It’s now peach lemonade to me.  I just can’t give up that peach note I think I smell.

10. Still alluring.  Seems a little bit sweeter in CP.  The soap is browning, but so far the maroon still shows up.  Yay!

Thanks for reading, and please check back to find out how to enter the gift set giveaway contest.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Lotion Bar Test Results for Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Fragrance Panel


The testing of fragrances from www.BrambleBerry.com in lotion bars went really well.  All of the fragrances were on their best behavior.  Combining the fragrances with the beeswax, oils and butter in the lotion bars seemed to smooth out any rough edges or strong single notes the fragrances have straight from the bottle.  I will likely offer lotion bars in any of these fragrances that Bramble Berry ends up adopting.  I like the way all of them smell in lotion bars, and I enjoy offering a wide variety of fragrances to my lotion bar customers.

Here’s a summary of how the fragrances smelled to me in the lotion bars. 

1.    Fresh, green, a bit more floral came out in the lotion bar than in the MP.  I think most people would like it. 

2.    Still citrus with a grapefruit note tagged on at the end.

3.    The fruit and wood notes that I pulled out individually seemed to meld together once in the lotion bar.  And there is a very slight powdery note at the end that I didn’t notice before.

4.    The Open Window name is really in my head when I smell this in the lotion bar.  I love it.

5.    Fruit punch with the raspberry note making a strong appearance.

6.    Pina Colada all the way in the lotion bar.  Yum.  It makes my mouth water.

7.    Gardenia.  I still think I’m smelling gardenia.  Love it.  This one has no color added.  The rest do.

8.    I still can’t tell what’s in this one, but I went from thinking I might dislike it straight out of the bottle initially to absolutely loving it in the lotion bar.  I want to take a bite.  I hope this one makes Bramble Berry’s cut.

9.    This smells like lemon pound cake in the lotion bar.  Very interesting, since I didn’t sense lemon right out of the bottle.  I think most people would like this one.  I know I want more.

10. Alluring.  The individual notes blend together wonderfully once the fragrance is in the lotion bar.  This is another one I really hope will be available on Bramble Berry’s website soon.

I’m anxious to share the results of the CP Soap testing with these fragrances.  I plan to do that next week.  I am thinking of testing the fragrances in soy wax melts and/or bath salts too.  Any thoughts on which of those you would like to see tested?  If so, let me know.  I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Summary - Bramble Berry Melt and Pour Fragrance Testing in Melt and Pour


I am finished with the MP testing for the Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel.  Here’s is a summary of the 10 fragrances once they are in the MP soap.  The picture shows 1, 2, and 3 in the back row, 4, 5 and 6 in the next row forward, 7, 8, 9 in the first full row, and #10 as the star of the show all by itself in front.  It's hard at this point to see any discoloration.  I did lightly color the soap, though, so that may help cover it up.

1.    Fresh.  Fruity at the start with an earthy green finish.  Did not discolor. 

2.    Smells even better in the soap than it did in the bottle.  It’s citrus with a hint of grapefruit at the end.  It did not discolor.

3.    Fruity then woody.  Does have a yellow tint to it.  I like this one a lot in MP soap.

4.    Clean, fresh and clear.  A big whiff of this might clear your nostrils a bit (in a good way).  I still equate this a bit with fabric softener, but less so in the soap than straight from the bottle.  I’ll stick to the name Open Window in my mind for now.

5.    Berry punch with raspberry overtones.  This oil has an orangish hue to it that could interfere with the color of the soap.  It’s a nice, sweet fragrance.  Like they say on “American Idol”, it’s probably not that memorable.

6.    This one has now earned three stars on my rating system (top honors).  In the soap, I smell more pineapple and Pina Colada notes.  It makes me smile.  It’s fairly clear.

7.    Still my top pick.  I think it deserves to make the Bramble Berry “keepers” list.  The oil is a bit yellow, so it could interfere with the color of the soap.  I smell gardenia, and it reminds me of Hawaii.  A friend of mine detected a perfumy note.  I don’t get that at all.  She is more fond of fruits than florals, though, so that could be part of it.

8.    I still can’t say at all what this is, but I really like it.  I was uncertain at first, but I can’t stay away from it.  The oil is pretty clear and shouldn’t be a problem in MP.

9.    I can finally smell the lemon notes others are talking about for this one.  I still sense peach, but that might just be my mind hanging onto that initial impression.  I see a slight yellow tint to the oil.  I like this better in soap than in the bottle, and it’s growing on me. 

10. Sultry, Sensual and Stunning.  I love this one!  This is my second favorite.  The oil is dark – almost brown – so that may present some challenges when working with it in soap.  It’s really hard to keep my nose out of the bottle of this one.  I’ll probably keep the empty bottle just so I can get a “fix” of it anytime I want.  I do hope this one makes it to the permanent fragrance pages of www.BrambleBerry.com.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bramble Berry Melt and Pour Fragrance Testing in Melt and Pour Part 2

Thanks for checking back!  Here are my comments on the remaining 5 Bramble Berry fragrances in Melt and Pour Soap. 

Fragrance #5 kicks off the Part 2 of the www.BrambleBerry.com fragrance testing in Melt and Pour (MP) soap.  It is a little dark.  The base in the photo is reddish pink, and you can see that the fragrance is a bit darker than the base.  The overall scent effect now that the fragrance is in the soap is berry punch with a main note of raspberry.



Fragrance #3 also has a bit of a yellow color to it.  Here it is before it was mixed into the lavender colored base.  It didn’t seem to affect the final color yet, though.  The color purple does not match the smell to me, but I had trouble smelling the color in this one, so I went with purple. 



In the soap, this begins as a sweet fruit then moves to an earthy note and ends with a hint of wood.    This fragrance seems to move from one thing to another from beginning to end.  It seems very complex.   I like the way it puts my nose through a series of gymnastic moves.  When a friend saw the soap in purple, then smelled it, she said grape.  That made me wonder if it’s a wine fragrance.  I like this one a lot.  I think this one would have wide appeal.

 


Fragrance #2 is very clear.  It’s shown here in the white base.  You can see it sitting there prior to being mixed in, but it doesn’t have any hue to it.



I went with a red/orange color for this one because I keep coming up with citrus with a grapefruit finish.  It’s a very clean smelling fragrance.  I love it in the soap.



Fragrance #6 is pretty clear.  This one is still mango papaya to me.  I thought I sensed some Kumquat too once it was added to the soap.  And then some pineapple.  I think there’s a tropical fruit basket in there!  Some friends who smelled this in the MP soap and said Pina Colada right away.  I like this one a lot, both out of the bottle and in the MP soap.




Fragrance #8 has stumped me from the start. 

Just as I kept going back to the fragrance bottle before testing, I keep going back to the soap to give it another sniff.  I couldn’t pin down a color for this one.  I went with brown and tan.  Sometimes I think I smell fruit and sometimes it clears my nose like mint or camphor would. 

I didn’t think I liked this one at first, but it’s quickly becoming a favorite.  It’s different in the soap than out of the bottle.  It has lost a bit of its edge and has become smoother once it was in the soap.  Yes, this one is growing on me for sure.



Overall, after testing in MP, all of the fragrances still seem good to me.  I’m giving three stars (top honors) to #7, 8 and 10.  The rest get two stars.  I didn’t dislike any of them enough to give them only 1 star.  I’m reserving 1 star for those that I think people would dislike.

I have finished the testing in lotion bars – I'll post those results in a couple of days.  I did the CP testing this morning.  So far, I still like all of the fragrances.  I’m anxious to see what changes occur after a couple of days.  I’ll write the CP reviews in a few days.

Do you have favorite fragrances from what you’ve been reading here and in other panel members’ descriptions?  I’d love to hear what you think.  Are there one or two that you would love to try?  Please let us know by commenting below.

Here are links to what other testers are saying.  I really enjoy keeping up with what the other testers are saying about the fragrances fondly referred to as fragrances 1 through 10. 

Andi from We Love Soap http://welovesoap.com/
Alanna from Peach Blossom Cosmetics http://www.facebook.com/PeachBlossomCosmetics
Dawn from Ecosations https://www.facebook.com/pages/EcoSations/219968318014761
Rose from Brooklyn Bath http://www.brooklynbath.com/
Nicole from My Quest for Health http://lookforhealth.blogspot.com/2012/01/yay.html
April from April’s Soap https://www.facebook.com/aprils.soaps?sk=app_135607783795
Lucky Lucky Neko http://luckyluckyneko.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bramble Berry S.O.A.P. Panel Fragrance Testing in Melt and Pour Part 1

I have been working on putting the Bramble Berry test fragrances in Melt and Pour (MP) soap.  I guess I should say “playing” because it’s not work; it’s fun!  Here’s what I found with fragrances 10, 7 and 9.  I decided to use this feng-shui seasons mold from Bramble Berry since we are testing summer fragrances.  http://www.brambleberry.com/Feng-Shui-Seasons-Mold-P3120.aspx

I started with #10 in MP soap because it’s one of my two favorites so far.  Plus, I’ve been working with the fragrances in order from #1-10 and thought I’d mix it up a bit.

Fragrance 10 discolored the soap a little, but so far really didn’t interfere with the color of soap I was going for.  I added fragrance at 3%. 



At the initial pour, the fragrance seemed much weaker in the soap than from the bottle. But when I unmolded it, the fragrance was just right for my taste. It will be interesting to see if the soap discolors over time.



I used #7 in MP soap next.  It’s my other favorite.  In case you are wondering, I eat my dessert first, too.  This fragrance is white to me, but I decided to do it in yellow because I like color.  Again, I used 3% fragrance. 



The oil has a bit of a yellow tinge to it.  Lucky for me right now it matches the color of the soap.  The fragrance smells absolutely wonderful in the MP base.



Fragrances 10 and 7 both make pretty strong statements.  I think people will either love them or wonder why others love them.  I am the president of the fan club for both 7 and 10.

Fragrance 9 was next.  It’s the one that seems like ginger and peach to me.  So I made it orange.  The fragrance is different in the soap than from the bottle, as is usually the case.  This one is very pleasant and not too sweet or overpowering.  I still smell peach, but I’m not sensing ginger so much now.  I think this is one that most people will like, but I’m not sure it makes a strong “love me” statement.



Fragrance 4 was really fun.  The scent tamed down once it was in the MP base.  It smelled very fresh, and kind of nipped my nostrils like mint does.  I really like the clean, fresh scent of this one.  This fragrance is also very clear.  It might be a good one to use when embedding water soluble paper (as shown on www.SoapQueenTV.com, Episode 9).  I like this one even more now that it is in the Melt and Pour Base. 



Fragrance 1 is pretty clear and didn’t seem to discolor.  I still smell melon now that it’s in the MP.  But a friend smelled more of an outdoor foresty scent.  It’s a very fresh and mild fragrance that I think would have wide appeal.  The notes in the fragrance are still somewhat elusive to me, but I like it a lot.


 
That’s a recap of half of the fragrances in MP.  Later I’ll post on the other half, then finally I’ll post a summary (not so many words) on the 10 fragrances in MP. 

Thanks for reading!