Saturday, July 30, 2011

I owe you some pictures...

Yesterday was the last day of my holidays - I can't believe I had a whole month off and it's gone so fast.  In my day job, it's next to impossible to take any time off during the year but it's much quieter in Summer and so we tend to save all our leave and take it in one good. 

The good side of this is that you get a whole month off together; the down side is that you wait 11 months to take it which can be the cause of mega burn out and spending half the first week of your month off asleep.  Which is pretty much what I did.  Of course, we were in West Cork for the first two weeks and, as regular readers will know, this is my idea of the closest thing to heaven on earth. 

For the next two weeks, we were home and I soaped - a lot! Since coming home, I've made seven batches of soaps; I only make small batches at a time and, due to huge time and space limitations, I get to soap once or maybe only twice a week (if I'm lucky).  But, as other members of the house are away, I have free access to the kitchen any time of the day or night! Sadly, that'll come to an end this weekend as my Dad will re-install himself into his room aka our kitchen/diningroom.  It'll be great to see him back home but still, I'd love to more access to the kitchen more often.  Oh well, a girl can't have everything I guess. 

So, you'll have seen pictures of three of the batches ....

Wild Blueberry

Peony Sorbet

Rum Runner

But I have made four other batches that I haven't been able to photograph as yet - mostly because it's either been raining out of the heavens (hey, it is Ireland in Summer you know!) or, when the sun shone, hubs and I would out enjoying the weather. 

So I know I owe you pics of the next four batches and I know I'm really really bad for not having taken them yet... I know, I'm a disgrace.  But I'll give you a sneaky description of them if you fancy?

Amber Honey Oat - using Sweet Almond, Golden Olive and Avocado Oils, silk and pure Virgin Cream Organic Cocoa Butter blended with finely ground organic Irish oats, goatsmilk and Australian Manuka Honey, this soap is going to a be treat for the most sensitive of skins! Fragranced with a warm and spicy Amber Vanilla scent, it's an absolute delight.  I did get some partial gelling on this soap but, no matter, it's a beauty anyway.

Water Lily - this incorporates Sweet Almond and Golden Olive oils with pure silk and tons of Cocoa Butter and is fragranced with one of my current favourite fragrances .. Water Lily, a divine blend of aquatic and floral scents which is clean and fresh and lingers beautifully (and also scents the room too, bonus!) 

Fig & Brown Sugar - Sweet Almond and Golden Olive Oil with tons of Cocoa Butter, pure silk, Coconut Milk and lots of Manuka Honey are all blended to make my first seasonal soap; the soap is coloured with lots of glistening mica and, if you move it carefully in the light, you can see it shine! Fragranced with a blend of fresh ripe figs, coconut milk, vanilla orchid, jasmine, and drizzled with caramel, maple sugar & musk, it's a not too sweet, very grown up sexy fragrance and is a perfect alternative to the traditional Christmas scents (yes, I did say Christmas!)

Vintage Patchouli - I was looking at vintage styled pictures of French country houses and I loved the muted, natural tones used and it seemed to just match my visual image for this lovely fragrance which is described as a sensual blend of patchouli, bergamot & white flowers on an intense base of woody incense; it's clean yet deep and dark, perfumed and mysterious, a fragrance that makes you think of long held secrets.  Again, I used a blend of Sweet Almond, Golden Olive and Avocado Oil along with my favourite Cocoa Butter and pure wild silk. 

I hope to be able to take pictures of each of these four new soaps over the next two days and be able to show you next week.  Hubs and I will be taking Titch, The Honorary Daughter, to a fabulous garden to visit on Monday (weather dependent as always of course) and I hope to bring the soaps with us to take pictures there.

Hope you enjoyed the sneaky preview of the soaps! Pics soon, I promise!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Featured Swirls!

I woke up this morning, the last official day of my holidays (boo, hiss) to find out that my soaps have been featured on one of the most incredible soap blogs, - I am SO chuffed!

Bianca, who writes the blog, spends hours looking through all the incredible soaps on the internet and brings only the best to the attention of her readers ... so many of the soaps on there are pure art forms.  So you can imagine my utter delight to have been featured on the blog! What a way to start the day (yay, yay and thrice yay!). 

Please do go and have a look at the blog and leave a comment for Bianca- just click here to browse through; you will find some other incredible soap porn there too to help while away some time today!

Thank you SO much Bianca for featuring my swirled soap and for utterly making my day!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rum Runner

I haven't made many soaps for men in the past and I bought a really lovely fragrance oil months ago that I'd used for a cream for my husband and I realised just how damn sexy it smelt... it is described as a clean, warm sexy blend of Patchouli, Pine, Cloves, Cinnamon & Orange.  It basically smells like the sexiest man alive! No kidding you... when hubs wear the cream I made him, I could cuddle up to him and sniff him all day!

This is made with my usual blend of skin adoring oils including Sweet Almond Oil, Olive Oil and Avocado Oil (which I just reordered because I couldn't bear to not use it) and lashing of pure Cocoa Butter.  The colours are my own blend of micas in order to capture the rum idea. 

Here is Rum Runner, a soap made for men but will be loved by women too:

I really adore this scent - so warm, so clean, so mmmmmmmmmmmmmm hmmmmmmmmmm (you know what I mean girls!).  This will be fully cured by early September. 


I seem to have had my head in the sand lately with regard to Google+ but I received an invite the other day from a fabulous soaper friend and now I'm trying to work out what it does, how to use it, etc etc.  Feels like my first day on Facebook or Twitter!

So, I'm on there if anyone wants to link me (circle me? What'll be the "in" verb for that I wonder?) .. just look up Celine Blacow (I'm sure I'm the only one there, it's not a name that you see that often LOL). 

See you on the Google+ side! Not that I have a clue what I'm doing but hey, we can find out together, right?!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Peony Sorbet

One of my recent fragrance deliveries was an incredible Peony - I just love it; it's rosey yes but not as "old lady" as some rose fragrances can be.. to my nose, there's a greenness behind it that really adds a little something else.  It's just so beautiful and I wanted to make a soap that would do it justice. 

I used my latest formulation because it feels so amazing on your skin plus I know it behaves really well for my spoon swirl - admittedly, I was a little afraid of using the Peony for that technique because, as most soapers know, floral fragrances can go a bit mental and speed up the whole process (I have had soap on a stick from one before!).  But I thought oh well, go for it and see and one way or the other, either it'll be pretty looking or not, but it'll still smell wonderful!

So, I weighed out my palm (sustainable source of course), coconut and cocoa butter and melted them as I weighed out the Sweet Almond, Olive, Avocado and Castor oils.  Once the hard butters were melted I mixed them in with the fluid oils.  I made up my lye water and added, as always, my generous portion of silk (I so love what it does to the feel of the soap). 

Everything was left to cool down to approximately 90 degrees F as I went ahead and mixed my colours.  For this soap, I wanted to have a four colour swirl (which I seem to be favouring at the moment, even if it is more work for me - it seems to give me a depth of colour shades that I really like).  I used Colorona Bordeaux mica for the darkest pink (but not as much as I used for my Black Raspberry Vanilla soap where it was a redder colour), Raspberry POP mica for the mid pink shade and a liquid red soap colour for the pale shade and just added enough so it was lightly pink.  The final colour was white and I used TD for this. 

One thing I've started doing which is really helping me with space and cleaning up after is tidying away everything as I use it.  So, once oils are used they are put back, then I take the butters out and put away before the next batch of ingredients comes out.  So when it comes to mixing my colours, I have a free and clear and tidy workspace which I find really helps with my concentration levels.  I cover this with tissue paper so that I don't ruin the kitchen worktop. 

I mixed my oils and lye and it was lovely, no adverse reactions, nothing went crazy.  I only mix to a light trace so the batter is very fluid still and then mixed a quarter into each of the colours (which I have in matching sized jugs which helps me to eyeball that I have the correct quantity in each jug, give or take a little).  I mixed everything carefully (nobody wants spots of colours) and then went ahead with my spoon swirl - this took me approximately 30 minutes which is pretty time consuming I guess but I do love it. 

And here are the pictures of Peony Sorbet:

As you can see, I swirled the top of the soap which I really love and decided, as with my previous soap, to swirl the body of the soap too but I think I prefer the spoon swirl look by itself so I'm not going to do that anymore.  The swirl on top is different enough to stand out from the body spoon swirl.  Again no glitter as I do believe it is, somewhat, contributing to colour change on the tops of the soaps which I just don't want.

I hope you like the new soap - if you're interested in these, they will be fully cured by the end of August. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wild Blueberry

When I came back from holidays, I was lucky enough to still be able to have another two weeks off - I also haven't soaped for at least 6 weeks so the soaping urge was beginning to shout at me!

Just before I went on holidays, I ordered some new fragrance oils that I just wanted to try out.  One of these was Blueberry - I had tried this in a sample previously and used it in a sugar scrub and just loved it, it smells just like the best blueberry muffin ever.  So I had to use this first, I was just dying to ... my mouth watered just smelling it. 

So I lined up all my ingredients, all perfectly weighed out and mixed carefully.  Then prepped my colours - I used Blueberry POP mica (yeah, blueberry, what else could I have used really?! It was just asking for it!).  I mixed some with oil in one jug, a little less in another with a tinch of TD to give a paler blue, in a third jug I mixed more of the Blueberry and then added some Grape POP mica to make a really deep bluey/purpley sort of colour.  In my final jug, I mixed TD to give a really white soap.  So all was good.. the oils were ready, the lye with dissolved silk was ready, the colours were ready, the mould was lined and all my worktops cleared to give me space for my favourite spoon swirl. 

I mixed my fragrance oil into the oils before adding the lye water, as always and gave it a little stick blend to make sure it was fully mixed.  Then I added my lye and mixed everything together - I wanted to make a spoon swirl which is my favourite technique and you have to have the soap at a very light trace so I needed to make sure I didn't stick blend too much.  Then it happened .. the FO turned my soap batter into a VERY yellow colour; like neon yellow, I kid you not!!! Ok, not good when I'm using blues as my colours!

So what to do but to go ahead and make my soap... so I mixed the now amazingly yellow coloured batter into my blues and everything went a pretty green! Yep, my green blueberry soap! The colours were fab though so I just went for it ... I did my spoon swirl and it took about 30 minutes.  Fortunately I got the soap at the right trace level so I had the time to work with it.  Everything was in the mould and I decided to swirl not just the top of the soap, as I normally do, but the body too.  I put my wooden chopstick into the soap and swirled the whole depth of the soap, banged the mould on the worktop a few times to release any bubbles and then sprinkled the glitter on top and popped everything into the fridge. 

I made this on Monday and it stayed in the fridge til Tuesday morning, then I took it out of the fridge, brought it to room temperature and then took it out of the mould and allowed it to sit, uncut, til this afternoon.  And so, here you go, pictures of my Wild Blueberry soap ... it certainly was a wild ride!

I really like it and, actually, it has stayed pretty blue for me which I'm happy about.  Not sure the swirl on the body of the soap has worked that well though - what do you think? Also I've decided not to use glitter for a while... I've noticed that the tops of the soaps become a different colour from the body and I'm convinced that it's glitter related.  It's a pity but I think I'll lay off it for a while and see if it's makes a difference. 

Hope you like this - if you're interested in having one in your own bathroom, it'll be cured by the end of August. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Soaps on Tour - Two Part Blog Post - Part 2 Platypus Dreams

Titch, Official Soapographer
As you might have read from Part 1 of this blog post, I was on holidays in West Cork on the South West coast of Ireland for the last two weeks.  Several months ago, I ordered some fabulous soaps from Sharon of Platypus Dreams based in Australia (yep, I'm so crazy about soap I ordered some from the other side of the world!).  She makes the most incredible soaps and the ones that caught my eye were enormous slices from a soap cake .. like a real cake, with fabulous icing, but made of soap.  They were beautiful.  She sent these along to me, as well as other samples and freebie.. I couldn't believe her genorousity! I promised her I'd take one of the cake slices on holidays with me and take pictures when I was there - it's an idea stolen from Dennise Cupp of Briny Bar Soap (she of the Part 1 of this blog post) and a brilliant idea at that ... I'd love others to take soap on tour with them.

Below are images taken, in the main, by my newly named official soapographer, my "honorary daughter", Titch - she has really gotten into photography lately so she was allowed free reign with this project. 

And so, without further ado, from Australia to the South Western tip of Ireland, I give you Banquet, Platypus Dreams' incredible soap slice.

Banquet at the Castle? Outside the Tower of an 18th Century Castle
Banquet outside the Castle Gates... can I come in?
Banquet sunning itself by the Sea at Crookhaven
Banquet on the rocks?
Banquet gazing out to the Atlantic
Banquet on high at Crookhaven
Banquet on Sheeps Head Penninsula - one of the most South Western points in Ireland
 I hope you like the soap images Sharon ... from Australia to Ireland and looking (and smelling!) as beautiful as ever! Your soap truly is a feast for the eyes!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

I have been given a Versatile Blogger Award by Ger Holland who writes the blog, It's My Jovi Life - thanks so much Ger!!

The concept behind the Versatile Blogger Award is to follow a few rules and then pass it on to whatever blog you think deserves it. The rules are:

1 - Make a post and link it back to the person who gave you the award (and include their website address)
2 - Share 7 random things about yourself
3 - Award 7 recently discovered bloggers with this award and contact them to let them know they have won

Pretty simple really I guess! So I'm going to post on Ger's blog to say thank you so much and then list the 7 utterly random things about me that you may not know already.

1 - I probably have a touch of OCD - I have a few little rules to live by and have a few phobias too, nothing too crazy or weird but somethings just set my teeth on edge... like sticky things for instance or the feel of newspaper... ugh!!!!

2 - I met my husband online, on a forum based on a US newspaper - it was a very generic forum which talked about things as deep as the meaning of life and as silly as what colour will I wear today.

3 - I've almost died 5 times, each time from meningitis (you might remember I did a blog post a while back about recognising the signs of this disease). Thankfully I came through fine after each episode and have no lasting issues

4 - I have an "Honorary Daughter" called Titch - we met online a few years ago and became the best of friends... so much so that she now lives with my husband and I as she's starting a Post Grad Diploma in Dublin this September

5 - I prefer to drive an automatic car - I can drive a manual no problem but I just prefer an automatic ... especially fast ones!

6 - I have an enormous sweet tooth and I'm trying to reign it in at all times so half of my life is spent on a diet ... the other half is spent eating chocolate!!!

7 - I used to knit and design knitwear professionally for a time - sadly it was so costly that I couldn't live on it wholly plus it was the root cause of a very bad case of carpel tunnel syndrome thats now calmed down since I stopped.

Hmmmm were they very interesting? Not so sure!!

I would like to nominate the following blogs to receive the Versatile Blogger Award also: I love Dennise's blog, she writes so well and has such passion I love Amy's passion about soaping and the fact that she is so willing to share her ideas I love Amanda's experiments and tutorials; she takes great pictures and I love her way of writing Jennifer's journey into the soap business is fascinating and her blog is well worth checking out Suzanne's blog is great and her growth in the soaping business is reflected in the blog I adore Sharon's soaps, they are simply stunning plus she uploads  some fabulous videos too Julia does the best reviews of soaps as well as making her own beautiful creations - this is one of my ALWAYS-read blogs ever!

Hmmm only 7 blogs to recommend? No fair, there are too many more to read!!! Oh well, it'll have to be 7 ... for now!!!

Thanks so much ladies for giving this soaper great inspiration and enjoyment and I hope you enjoy your Versatile Blogger Award! And if any of you are big Bon Jovi fans, make sure to check out Ger's blog at

Soaps on Tour - Two Part Blog Post - Part 1 Briny Bar Soap

Titch - Official Soapographer
On my recent holiday, I took two soaps with me "on tour".  One was a Chocolate Mint soap I won from Briny Bar Soaps recently and the other was Banquet, a soap cake slice from Platypus Dreams.  You might know that Dennise from Briny Bar took my Vanilla Anise soap on tour with her across the US and I shamelessly stole the idea from her! And Sharon, from Australia's Platypus Dreams, thought it was a great idea to take her soap slice to West Cork with me. 

My Honorary Daughter, Titch, turned official Soapographer for the holiday and a lot of the images are hers, but some are mine too.  I hope both Dennise and Sharon like the pictures!

Part 1 - Briny Bar Soaps on Tour in West Cork:

Dennise's soap travelled down with us and we took as many pictures as we could ... here they are

Briny Bar at Ahakista - fantastic spot which is actually in a memorial garden, pure calm
Briny Bar at Sheeps Head Pennisula - one of the furtherest points South West of Ireland
Briny Bar on the cottage windowsill looking out to our back garden
Briny Bar at Crookhaven (it was a stunning setting on a stunning day!)
Briny Bar at Crookhaven - against the Atlantic Ocean
Briny Bar looking out at the sea inlet at Crookhaven
Dennise - hope you liked the pictures; I can't wait to try out the soap itself now! Sharon - I'm uploading your images and will post them tomorrow.

Soap on the Road, I think this should be the start of a trend.  So who's going to do it next?!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm home!!! I think I want to be on holiday forever though!

I've been in West Cork for the last two weeks - it's our dream place, we simply adore it and I will admit I cried tears of mega sadness sitting there one last time this morning, staring out at the incredible view of the harbour, the sun glistening on the water and listening to the "putt, putt, putt" of the little fishing boat heading out to sea. 

Crookhaven, West Cork, 2009

Where we go, there's no access to the net or mobile phones unless you leave the village; this might scare some people to death (and it did scare me at the beginning) but, Oh My God, how good is it to have a complete break, away from everything.  I've decided I really could be on holidays all day every day! Sadly I didn't win the lottery when we were away so no chance of that .... yet!!! However, its part of hubs and mine long term plans that we do sell up and move to "our" village so it'll happen, in time. 

I've got a ton of pics I need to show you (if I don't bore you to death in the meantime) and pics of two soaps from Briny Bar Soaps and Platypus Dreams that we took with us ... there are a lot of pictures of them in scenic places! My honorary daughter, Miss Titch, was with us and she became official "soapographer" during the two weeks. 

I'm also dying to soap and received some fabulous fragrance oils before I went away that I'm DYING to soap with.. cannot wait!!!

So, keep an eye out for some new blog posts and images this week (the pic above was taken in 2009, just to give you a taste of the sort of pics to expect). 

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