Soap Making Magic

The temperature is rapidly rising and it’s beginning to feel like summer has officially arrived here in Southern California.

Warmer weather means more soap making at the Lavender and Olive household and I already have three batches of new creations curing in the wooden crates, waiting patiently until they’re ready to be loved and enjoyed, in about four weeks.

My latest batch is this all-natural Olive Oil soap with Eucalyptus, Lavender, Rosemary and Tea Tree scents.

And just for fun, I made this 30-second clip capturing how the oil and lye mixture turn into soap! I hope you enjoy watching the transformation! I’ll make a full, “how to” video tutorial soon!

Jelly Roll Quilt

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This quilt has been sitting in my craft queue for, like, forever. I don’t remember exactly when I started it but it must be almost a year ago because the receipt from Missouri Quilt Company where I got this Birch Farm Design Roll from shows that it was purchased in May 2015.  eek

One thing I really want to improve about myself is my craft follow thru skills. I get so excited to start something new but I quickly lose interest and I too often let the unfinished projects rot away in the corner of the closet. And the unfortunate thing is that these projects are usually about 85% complete. All I need to do is, say for knitting, just seam the pieces together, or, for sewing, bind the edges, etc.

For this particular Jelly Roll quilt, all I need to do is hand quilt the pieces together and just sew the bias tapes around the entire thing … and Bob’s your uncle! … or voila! … or ta da! … or insert whatever expression that tickles your fancy!  The hard part is already done and I just have, maybe, 4 hours of work left.

So yeah, my goal for this month is to complete this project once and for all! I hope to post the photos of the finished project here soon!

Blushing for LUSH

Sometime, I wonder if I should just get real and rename my blog to “Things I Purchased at LUSH,” or “Homage to LUSH,” or “How I Got Suckered Into Purchasing Things I Don’t Really Need at LUSH … Again,” or something that shows how addicted I am to this cosmetic joint.

I’m not a fan of every product there (some are too strong in scent and some are just outright weird) but I seldom walk out of the store without a bagful of items that I never knew I needed but could no longer live without.

My latest acquisitions were a bottle of rose and lavender toner water named “Eau Roma Water” (eau my!) and a small container of Rose Cheeks fresh face mask, from the store in Portland’s NW 23rd Street, aka “Trendy” Third.  If you haven’t noticed, I love all things rose.

One good thing about a visit to LUSH, other than brining home fun skincare products, is that the place reignites my love for homemade cosmetics. Every time I leave the store, I come out with a motivation to start creating again.

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As soon as I got home from Portland, I got busy making a batch of Marseille soap. I scented it with Lemongrass, Lavender, Rosemary and Sweet Orange Essential Oils. I can’t wait for it to become ready in about a month!

Rose Ice Facial Treatment

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I went to Jo-Ann’s the other day and while I was in line for a check out, I came across this lovely (and very strategically placed) magazine called Willow and Sage that features so many wonderful recipes for homemade bath and body stuff. I’ve never seen the magazine before but when I flipped through the pages and saw glossy photos of body scrubs and handmade perfumes, along with many other homemade beauty items, I knew I had to take it home.

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Immediately upon arriving home, I made these Rose Ice Facial Treatment. The recipe is rather simple — you just freeze the mixture of water, rosewater and rose petals in an ice cube tray. The recipe called for 1/8 cup rosewater, 1/8 cup filtered water, and a handful of rose pedals.

The measurements listed in the magazine just weren’t enough liquid to fill even half the ice tray mold … so I mixed 1/2 cup each of water and rosewater together instead and filled the tray, and sprinkled liberal amount of rose petals. I’m glad I had all the ingredients on hand but you can get them at Bramble Berry!

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I rub the ice cube directly onto my face and neck after I come out of the shower. I do this every other day and I skip my regular toner altogether on the days I do this. I love it — it smells wonderful and give my skin an extra firmness … and it cost me next to nothing!

Handmade Soaps for a Good Cause

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My daughter’s pre-school is hosting a bazaar fundraiser this weekend and was looking for some handmade items to sell, so I donated a few handmade soaps that I already had on hand.  They are the lavender-scented Olive Oil Soaps and Honey Soaps.

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I always struggle with creative packaging ideas for soaps … but I decided to go simple this time and just wrap the soap in wax paper and decorate it with a lovely floral washi tape I purchased from this online shop in Japan called Cafe de Savon, which, by the way, is an amazing shop that sells the best acrylic soap molds E.V.E.R.

I hope people find them interesting and decide to take them home!

Most Luxurious Soap

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One of my favorite soaps on the market today is Rose Geranium with Rosehips and Shea Butter from The Soap Kitchen. It’s incredibly decadent and its feminine, rose-like scent is out of this world (Although rose and rose geranium are from a different plant family, they do share a very similar floral scent). I feel that this soap captures everything I love in handmade soaps – warm color, luxurious lather, with a subtle but a splendid presence of flower-y sweetness.

I pick one up every time I go into the lovely store in Old Town Pasadena and I must say that it’s a lot more frequent than I’d like to admit.

I tried recreating these sumptuous soaps at home and I’m in love with how they came out! It’s no secret that I totally tried to replicate my favorite The soap Kitchen soap as best as I could (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?). Although they’re not exactly the same, I think I was able to capture the essence of my favorite soap in this handmade version.

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Most Luxurious Soap
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1200 g batch

Olive oil (72%): 864 g
Palm oil (14%): 168 g
Coconut oil (14%): 168 g

Distilled water: 467 g
Lye (85% discount): 150 g

Scents:

Rosewood essential oil: 160 drops
Ylang Ylang essential oil: 100 drops
Organic Geranium Rose essential oil: 30 drops
Citronella Java essential oil: 50 drops
Lavender essential oil: 10 drops

Colorant:

Madder root powder: 1 teaspoon

Additive:

Crushed dried rose petals: 3 tablespoons

Note: The scent of citronella Java essential oil was pretty dominant during the curing stage but it slowly neutralized into a subtle lemon-y scent. The color also became a lot more subtle as the soap bars dried. At first, the soap loaves were deep burgundy and I panicked. I’m happy that it ended up becoming a lovely dark pink hue.

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Happy soaping!

The Perfect Soap Drying Rack

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My friend D recently introduced me to this lovely café in Pasadena called Lincoln. We had an early lunch there after running a lap briskly walking and conversing around Rose Bowl one morning.

I thought about taking photos of the chic industrial restaurant interior, the colorful array of candies and pastries that fill the cafe, as well as breakfast and lunch served beautifully on simple, white ceramic plates and bowls with edible flower or two on top, but I couldn’t because my two-and-a-half-year-old daughter took hostage of my iPhone to watch cartoon during the meal (Mom of the Year here, I know). Instead, please do read Jonathan Gold’s Los Angeles Times article detailing all the delicious dishes it serves up!

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So, why talk about the restaurant when I have no photos or stories to share, you may ask? Well, it’s because I found something perfect for my soap-making adventure there! How random, I know!

Next door to the café is an auxillary gift shop, where patrons can find hand-selected, Anthropologie-esque items such as books, candles, ceramics, etc. While browsing the shop, I came across a stack of wooden crates available for sale for $8 each. I picked one up and knew immediately that it would be perfect to complete my soap drying rack.

I’ve used shoe rack to dry the handmade soaps but I had to get rid of it once my daughter was able to crawl. I could not longer have anything on the floor where she can easily reach. I recently purchased three-tiered oven rack but couldn’t find anything that would fit. Then came these Loncoln-logo-branded creates!  Yipee!  I purchased two but went back two days later to pick up four more.  The search for the perfect drying rack is finally over and I couldn’t be happier!

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I’m currently drying Olive Oil soap with dried spearmint leaves on the top rack, and another Olive Oil soap scented with Eucalyptus and Lavender Essential Oils on the bottom.