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Showing posts from May, 2010

Hearts for the face

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I like the heart shape.  Pretty corny, I know, but like the Barbara Carland romances that I used to read when I was twenty, I find the heart shape to be comfortable and soothing. So I'm always drawn to cookie cutters, picture frames, little boxes, ice cube forms and cake forms that are heart shaped and naturally I have used those for soaps.

It's not very practical, but I did make some heart shaped soaps by pouring the soap into a shallow mold and using cookie cutters.  It wastes a lot of soap, but I figured I needed some to rebatch anyway.  I thought afterwards that I should have made a small hole in them to thread a ribbon through, kind of like a Christmas decoration.  It could make a nice gift before the holidays.   I made the soaps with all sorts of nice oils for the skin although it's a bit high in Coconut oil.  But with all the butters I thought it would be fine.  I imagined that it would make nice facial soaps and therefore decided to make small soaps.  This is the …

Rosemary shampoo bar for brunettes.

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Rosemary has traditionally been used for dark hair and I remember using a shampoo in my youth that contained Rosemary.  So I just had to make a shampoo bar with rosemary if only for the wonderful smell.  Apparently the smell of rosemary helps memory and boy do I need that!

I have made this a few times and sometimes added a bit of neem oil to it, but this recipe is without that.  The neem oil was intended for exema in the scalp, a condition that some people in my family suffer from.  It has a very strong earthy, smokey scent that the rosemary masks pretty well.  When I use neem oil I have used about a tablespoon of it in a recipe this size.  Neem oil is also very good for insect control as in my insect spray (those mites are dead!) and for lice.  Althought I don't think the concentration in the shampoo is enough to combat lice.

Olive oil       40%    280g / 9.9 oz
Coconut oil  30%    210g / 7.4 oz
Castor oil     20%    140g / 4.9 oz
Sunflower oil 10%    70g / 2.5 oz

Water         …

Oatmeal and cranberry cookies and homemade treats for the bitches

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Yep, I have two bitches (and, no I'm not talking about my daughters :). They are Bichon Frise mother and daughter. The mother is 9 years old, she has a gentle personality, dislikes water and is a very picky eater. Her daughter jumps in the pond every chance she gets, is incredibly innovative in finding projects to work on (most involving destruction of some kind) and eats everything she finds. I used to be able to put dry dog food in a bowl and the mother would nibble when she felt like it. Not so with the daughter. I recently realized that she has been eating from mom every chance she gets and is quite overweight, so now she is on a strict diet.

I have gotten interested in making dog food at home and have made some experiments. Mom likes everything I make as long as it is freshly made, but as soon as it has been in the fridge, she looses interest. Even if I've warmed it up, she just turns up her nose and walks away. The little one as I said, will eat anything. So t…

Natural or chemical - Well, is there any difference?

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The natural world is a world of chemicals.  We sometimes forget that and talk about chemicals is if they were the spawn of the devil.  Chemicals are not inherently "good" or "bad" they just react with other chemicals.  Most of them serve a purpose in nature, even if that purpose is to kill other living things.  I think most people use the word "chemical" to describe man made chemicals but of course that is not a correct use of the word.  I'm not a chemist so I do not know how many chemicals are purely man made but I have to admit that I tend to think that if it occurs in nature it is better than what has been made in a laboratory.  Even if I know that there is no scientific rational behind that.  This is simply because I think at least there is some knowledge and history with naturally occurring chemicals whereas something completely new is completely unknown. 

My interest in chemistry has increased dramatically by my meddling in making creams and …

Liquid soap using sodium hydroxide

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I've been meaning to get some potassium hydroxide to make liquid soap.  I would like to make my own dishwashing liquid and also a liquid handsoap.  Both for me and my daughter who requested some.  The problem is, I have to buy another 25 kg of the stuff and truthfully, I think that really is overkill.  I just want to try the stuff, not set up a production line, for crying out loud!  So I always read a bit wistfully about liquid soap, the ingredients are basically the same and method isn't complicated.  It's just a question of getting my hands on a tiny amount of the other lye.

I've even thought about grating some soap and diluting it with water to see if that can be used in a soap pump, but never got around to doing it.  So I was thrilled when I came accross a recipe for liquid soap that listed good old NaOH rather than KOH as an ingredient.  I was a bit skeptical at first, thinking that it might just be a mistake.  It actually turned out to have been one, but it was …

There's no accounting for taste

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I have thought a lot about the look of my soaps.  When I started out I had no special molds, so I used what I could find: milk cartons, ice cream containers, empty shampoo bottles, bits of pipe cut in two and my cute little pastry molds.  Soon I ordered a log mold and have used that a lot since then.  It's easy to use and I like the chunky look with some light swirl decoration on top.

I have also experimented with whipped soap in muffin forms and soap on a rope (that was all the rage in the 70's for those who remember back that far :) as well as piping soap from a piping bag used for icing cakes and using a round cake tin to make cake slices.  All of these look good in their own way and I guess I'm still looking for a look that is mine, so to speak.

I look at the soap of others and I see that swirling is very popular and I truly like the look of some of those.  Some soapmakers just make works of art.  I'm in awe of some of them and I'm definitely going to try som…

Madder root - pink perfection

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Like most girls I like pink!  I don't know what it is about pink that makes it so special that all little girls seem to like it.   Naturally pink soap is on the top of my list of "must" colours.  I did find a synthetic colour that produced a decent pink.  It's a nice enough colour, but I haven't ever used the soap myself.  I just dislike it a bit.  The colourant is sold as a soap colour and is supposed to produce a lilac and probably does in melt and pour bases, but in CP it is pink.  The label doesn't say anything about what is in it!  Maybe I'm a control freak, but I need to know exactly what goes into my soaps and there is no ingredients list on this colourant.  So my preference for a natural alternative drove me on in my search for alternatives.  And I found it in Madder root, Rubia tinctorium.

I found this great little website: Leaftradingpost.com.  It's not a soap supply page, they sell some really neat natural things like antlers, sheepskin, b…

Sea Buckthorn - beautiful yellow

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I came accross Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) oil more than a year ago when I was surfing the internet late at night.  Come to think of it I think it was around 3 or 4 in the morning and I hadn't been able to sleep.  So there I was exhausted, trying to get sleepy when I came across a website (Naturally thinking) that sold all different kinds of oil.  And the prices were very good, 6£ for a liter of the most common carrier oils like almond, grapeseed, peach!  I could get none of those here and I wanted them.  So I ordered all the 6-£-a-liter bottles and a few small quantities of very exotic oils, which cost a bit more.   Like Argan, Borage and the subject of this post Sea Buckthorn oil which I really didn't know existed before.

When I awoke the next morning I wondered if it had all been a dream, and decided not to think about it (it's a well known coping method sometimes called: Let go, let God.  It works pretty well).  Some days later I got an annoucement that I ha…

Kladdkaka - quick, easy and absolutely delicious

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May 1st. is celebrated here like a national holiday.  Everyone gets a day off to participate in a parade in support of workers, red flags and all.  We used to do that when I was young, but nowadays few people bother.  Unfortunately May 1st is on a Saturday, so there is no extra holiday, but I'm going to making soaps today, anyway.  And that is at least as much fun, if not more than having a day off.

To celebrate workers everywhere this cake is perfect.  It even comes in red.  It's a Sweedish cake, called Kladdkaka, that is really easy to make, takes no time at all and tastes delicious.  It's supposed to be a bit gooey in the middle, but that can be adjusted according to taste by the baking time.

I originally got a recipe from the newspaper.  I NEVER make anything from recipes in the newspaper (not that there is anything wrong with doing that) BUT this recipe spoke to me so I tore it out and and I made the cake for dessert one day.  The guests really liked it.  So I decide…