Saturday, December 18, 2010

Purple is (also) the colour of Christmas - Alkanet and lavender soap

The goblet is a favorite find that I got for less than a dollar.
The other mercury glass pieces are modern and not as nice,
but I felt it needed company. Mercury glass is called poor
mans silver in Danish. I think that is so neat.
The pretty purple or lavender colour that should come from Alkanet infused oil has eluded me until now.  I am very happy with this colour.  I used a lot of infused oil and I also used a decent amount of lavender, having recently received a large shipment of EO's.

I have had Alkanet root infusing in Olive oil for a few weeks now.  I figured it would be convenient to have it in a 1 liter bottle, ready to go when I feel like it.  I then just top it up since the Alkanet still has a lot of colour in it and keeps turning the oil a dark red.  I learned this from someone in fabric/yarn dyeing, just to give some credit to whose who deserve it.  I just can't remember exactly who to thank.

Lavender is a classic scent.  It's not one that is at the top of my list of favorites, but many people seem to like it a lot.  And "vive la différance".  I love the colour though.  The colour that the church uses for this time of the year is purple, so in a way it is a very Christmas-y colour and a very sophisticated one.  I have to admit that I stick to the traditional red, green, gold myself although I used to be more adventurous, way back in the olden days when I was hip and cool.

The recipe is similar to my recent ones, but with a little bit of soybean oil.  The oz are approximate and I did discount the water quite a bit.

Olive oil 40% 280g / 9.9oz   (out of this 75g/100g was Alkanet infused)
Coconut oil 25% 175g / 6.2oz
Lard 25% 175g / 6.2oz
Cocoa butter 5%  35g / 1.2oz
Soybean oil 5% 35g / 1.2oz

Water 30% 210g / 7.4 oz
Lye 99g / 3.5 oz

I did two batches, one with 75g and one with 100g of Alkanet oil.  I can't tell the difference between them.  I put Lavender EO in this and sprinkled some buds on top.  The soap turned a very pretty blue and seemed to stay that way for the longest time.  Then it started to turn lavender and a really nice one at that.  I'm very pleased.   I don't know if I can repeat that, but I'll be sure to brag about it if I do.

Now I need to stop making soap and start to bake the cookies for Christmas.  Eating cookies is necessary for me at Christmas, especially when reading the Christmas books.  I practically loose my ability to read if there are no cookies.  Books are a very common gift in Iceland and the bulk of all books that are published here come out in the month before Christmas.  We have plenty of time to read since our Christmas starts at six o'clock on the 24th and we then have two more day off.  The 24th is the main holiday.  It is when we light candles, all the church bells ring and we sit down to dinner in our finest clothes.  After dinner we open presents and there is always a book or two in there.  In addition I cheat a little bit and usually have a stash of my own that I have gathered just in case I don't get any for Christmas.

For this year I have 6 volumes of an old magazine, dating from 1907-1912.  I found them in a black plastic bag, sitting in the rain destined for the trash (what is wrong with people?).  I also have two books my husband gave me, one about medicinal herbs and one about dyeing with herbs.  I got hold of a book about kitchen cosmetics from the seventies and three volumes by Regine Deforge starting with "La bicyclette bleu", not in French though.  But now I think I'd better start baking those cookies.


  1. Ambra, you are way up high on my list of The Hip and the Cool. Your approach to soaping, the stories you tell, the recipes you share, your lovingly arranged photos...shall I go on? AND, currently it is very hip and cool to bethink oneself of tradition(s), so red green and gold Christmas ornaments (and cookies) are The Rage!

  2. Lavender scent and the color you achieved: I just love the combination! Your post is the last push I needed to try Alkanet myself ;-)
    Our Christmas traditions in Finland are pretty much identical to yours!

  3. I love the way you put it, " I practically loose my ability to read if there are no cookies". How true! I just bought a new book three days ago and I've gone through one big bag of cookies. Looks like I have to follow your foot step and start baking some of my own too!

  4. Ambra, your Alkanet results are remarkable, and I love the idea of putting the infusion in a smart!
    I checked out a book from the in a series of mysteries that I adore. I'm trying to "make it last" rather than gobbling it down in a day or two....anyone else have that problem with books? Productivity steams... pages turn...ahhhh...

  5. I love your blog!
    I wish you happy holidays and a new year full of accomplishments! Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    Kisses from Brazil.


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