Monday, January 31, 2011

Behind Every Successful Woman...

I wanted to give a shout out to my hubby.  As the work on the new soap studio continue, I realized how lucky I am.  I mean, what a great guy I have!  As I "direct" him to where to place the hanging lights, what to do with the ceiling and how to build my work table he never once grumbles or complains.  I ask him what did he want to do with this or that (baseball card collection and golf clubs) numerous times and I know that it's not easy to give up your Sunday to hang lights and go through boxes of your childhood stuff just so your wife can have a space to make soap.   His back hurts but he still lugs junk out of the basement with me.  He has some allergy issues but he keeps on working through out the cob-webby and dusty beams of the basement.  And not a peep from him.  He purchases extra smoke detectors to make sure I am safe and new paint brushes so I don't have to use the old crusty one.  He even is dreaming up some sort of dumb waiter system so I don't have to lug heavy items up and down the stairs!  Thank you hubby, I mean it, thanks!

Here are a few before pictures of the basement.  You can thank my sister Tracey for the pictures.  She said "Don't forget to take before and after pictures".  I hadn't taken any pictures because frankly I thought it was an ugly space and who would really care to see it.  But now, I am totally digging the idea of before and after.  It almost is pushing me to make it even better, since it is going to be here for the world to see.  I don't expect this space to be perfect and there are a dozen little things that I would love to do to the space, but time, money etc. just won't allow. But it will be great to have all the soap "stuff' in one area and have the rest of my home back.

Lovely mint green color, right?  It will be covered up with a nice bright white soon.  And that duct work in the top left? Well, that wasn't even hooked up to anything!  It is leftover from before, when there was at one time forced hot air heat in this house.  But that was before us and the empty duct work is just hanging there.  We took it down and gave it to someone via Craig's List.  They were very happy to get it and use it as part of a project as they install heat in their garage.  One mans junk is another mans treasure...

Another angle of the room.  See that white beam running through the right side of the picture?  That has to stay.  We will put my new work table around it and create a sort-of island work station in the middle of the room.  This pile of "stuff" of stuff you see, is staying in the soap studio.  I need a microwave and some stools to sit on and the big metal rack is a bakers cooling rack.  I will get trays for this and put the soap on it to cure.  I have ordered metal rolling shelving racks that will hold most of my ingredients and supplies.  They will be coming soon.  And you know who is going to help my assemble all the shelving, right?  Hubby to the rescue again! 

It's all very exciting as it gets cleaned out and we move along.  More pictures to come!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

2 New Soaps!

I haven't been blogging much as I have been working on the soap studio and making soap.  Stocking up on all your favorite fragrances.  BUT, I did manage to squeeze in 2 new soap fragrances and play with some techniques I had been wanting to try.

Eucalyptus with a bit of lemon.  Those are delicate shavings of a lemon soap at the top of the soap. I  also colored the top layer a very light green.  I have hope that the color will deepen with curing.  And next time I will add even more shavings, I just wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.  But I really like it.  The soap fragrance is brisk and fresh.

This is Spiced Mahogany swirled with a deep reddish brown, created using real cocoa powder.  This soap fragrance is very complex.  Lots going on.  I would say it is a more masculine scent with some Cardamom, Vanilla Bourbon, Allspice, Patchouli, Oakmoss, Wood tones of Cedarwood and Mahogany.  the colors will definitely deepen with cure time.  Very nice!

Both of these pictures are of very fresh soap, so the colors will deepen and change a bit.  But I was excited to share with you.  Okay, back to cutting the soap!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Coconut Crusted Shrimp

So we've got a bunch of snow and more falling as I write this...more in the forecast for Friday too.....ho hum.  That is life here in New England.  I have been working in the basement (also ho hum) clearing out and making way for my new soap studio.  Booooooring work, if I do say so.  I would much rather be making soap!  See I have all this "stuff" (an old chicken-on-a-nest glass ware collection, glass bottle collection, baseball card collection, a few afghans, furniture that is super cute from a yard sale, some old lamps and on and on and on) that I just don't knoww what to do with. Some of the "stuff' I have actually sold on Craigs List and other "stuff" I simply have moved from one spot to another.  So my January days are full of excitement, right?  In order to jazz things up around here a bit, I am making this for dinner tomorrow night. 

Baked Coconut Shrimp With Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce

I found this recipe while surfing some of my favorite blogs on my lunch break, The Girl Who Ate Everything (although she looks like she doesn't eat much, how come she isn't plump?)


1 Tablespoon lime juice

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper

1/2 cup pineapple preserves

1 pound uncooked large shrimp peeled and deveined

2 egg whites

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 cups sweetened flaked coconut


Combine lime juice, jalapeno pepper, and pineapple preserves in a small bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl beat egg whites with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.
Place cornstarch and coconut on two separate plates. Hold shrimp by the tail and dip and coat the shrimp with cornstarch. Next, dip the shrimp in the egg whites and finally in the coconut coating well.
Place shrimp on the cookie sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes or until coconut is a golden brown. Make sure to turn it once halfway through (around 8 minutes into cooking time) to make sure both sides brown.
Yum!  Served with a fresh green salad, this little tropical delight should brighten up our cold snowy days (of couse, so would mango margaritas).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Shoeing By The Sea...

We ventured out this weekend to do some snow shoeing.  It was very cold, -7 early Saturday morning and warmed up to about 24 when we went out.   Once you get the blood flowing, you heat up fast   Snow shoeing can be quiet a bit of work!  It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. 

We hardly saw another person out there.  We came across 1 cross country skier and 2 people walking their dogs.  Other than that, we had the whole place to ourselves.  It was just beautiful.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Soap End Packaging

I introduced my soap ends to a few Farmers Market customers before Christmas as a way to "get rid of" all the extra soap ends I had hanging around.  I packed them up first in a little bag tied with a ribbon, but wanted something cuter.  I had these clear Chinese food containers (also hanging around) and put the 2 of them together.  Again, I brought them to the Farmers Market and they were bought up in about 18 minutes.  People loved them.  They loved the idea of trying all these different soaps.  Loved the idea of all the different colors in the container.  Loved the idea that I wasn't wasting anything.  Lisa Marie's Made In Maine (retail stores in both Bath & Portland)also loved them.  She is now purchasing them wholesale for sale in her stores.  Now, if only I had more soap ends!    they are always, limited edition on my website, as I just never know how many I will have in stock.  And I only have a small amount that go to the Farmers Market with me, so grab them if you see them.  What do you think?  Cute, right?!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snow Storm Photos

We had another big day of snow yesterday.  While total snowfall is hard to measure, because again we had so much drifting due to high winds, we think we had about 18" of snow dumped on us.  My hubby and I hope to go snowshoeing this weekend, and I will be sure to bring my camera, but here are a few quick picture from around my yard. 

I really like the red chair against the white snow.

The snow blew around soo much. The ripples look to me like sand at the beach in the summer.

Our giant pines in the front yard made it through the storm, all though a few of the bows were very heavy with snow during the storm, we thought that they would break. 

I'll post more photos this weekend after snowshoeing!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2 Snowy Treat Recipes For You

We have another snow storm today.  We are getting lots of the white stuff this winter, and really, it has only just begun.  You have to learn to love the snow in Maine, or at least tolerate it.  Snow shoeing, skiing, snow mobiling, sledding etc, etc. etc. must be part of your routine in order to find some fun in the feet of snow that fall.  The other side of the coin, is not so much fun.  The shoveling, the plowing, the ice, the cold wind.  Lots of indoor projects and chores get done during the winter and Spring and Summer are oh-so-sweet when they finally arrive. 

I have included 2 old fashion snow recipes to enjoy.  Snow Cream which is basically a quick sweet ice cream made from snow.    Sugar on Snow, maple syrup that is drizzled on snow and cools to a sticky candy.  Mmmmm. Both are absolutely delicious.    Of course, you can also do what my dad does and scoop some fresh snow into your finest glass and top with your best Scotch.   That is, if you even like Scotch!

(I have included a recipe below and also a link to The Fabulous Beekman Boys recipe,
this is their picture of Snow Cream)

Snow Cream

Basic Recipe

1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
large bowl of snow (about 3 quarts)

Blend milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough snow to make snow cream to an ice cream consistency.

Variations - There are many variations for snow cream.
Substitute canned cream for milk for a heavier flavor.
Add Nestles Quik for a chocolate snow cream, or use instant cocoa mix.
Add plump raisins and cinnamon
Add chocolate chips or nuts
Puree an overripe banana and add to the mixture.
Get creative!

Note: ALWAYS - ALWAYS make sure the snow is clean. It takes at least one to two hours for snow to clean the pollutants from the air, then use only snow that has fallen after that first cleansing snow. It also goes without saying (but I will anyway), to make sure you do not collect the snow where animals and birds eat (or do other things). Cleanliness first. Stress that with the kids, because this is a treat even the younger ones can make for the whole family.

Sugar On Snow

When hot maple syrup is drizzled over snow, it results in a remarkably delicious candy-like substance that northern New Englanders crave. You must be very precise with your drizzle and the temperature of the syrup - too hot a syrup and the snow melts too fast - too cool a syrup and it becomes watery, straining through the snow to the bottom of the pot. The perfectly heated syrup will form a lace-like pattern across the top of the snow and quickly harden to be gobbled up by eager sugar-eaters.
Boil syrup to 255 degrees Fahrenheit. (make as much or as little as you want)

Scoop snow into large bowl or pan.

Drizzle hot maple syrup lightly over snow

Use forks to eat the sticky top layer.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Behind The Scenes, Laundry Detergent

While I work on my new soap studio I also continue to make soap and other products.  I actually have to work by a list of chores and tasks to do or I just may forget something.  It has turned out to be a very busy time of year for me.  Filling wholesale orders, catching up on paperwork, reorganizing etc. etc. etc.  Well, I won't bore you anymore with the details.

Today I was making up pounds and pounds of my Simply Clean Laundry Detergent...I snapped a picture for you to see how big that batches are that I make:

This huge bowl I found at a restaurant-going-out-of-business yard sale.  I love the bowl for simply it's size!  that is a 1/2 Cup size measuring cup in there.  I mix up the detergent and dryer sachets using this behemoth.  The stainless steel is great for easy to clean and low low maintenance, no scents stick to it like it may in a plastic.  I would guess that this is about 16 pounds of detergent.  I mix this several times, by hand and then put it in a larger container for storage or often fill bags so I have product ready on the shelves.  I will also add some essential oils to some of this batch to make a Lemon or a Lavender scented detergent. 

Just thought you might like a peek into the production part of things.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Busy, busy! And a Question...

I'm sorry, I have been busy!  Not much blogging lately.   I am trying to do sooo many things at once.  I am working on my new studio (I am still in the clean-up-the-old-stuff stage and getting ready to paint the wall next) but while doing that I am still making soaps, delivering soaps, selling soaps both online and at the Saturday Farmers Market and tyring to run a household.  I also am kind-of overhauling the house.  I am very excited to have my kitchen back (after the soap making moves to the studio downstairs) and have plans to repaint it, maybe a new top for the island, how about some new light fixtures etc.   Big plans in my head also to repaint the bathroom, redecorate the living room....whew!  Lots going on!  I did find this fun question posted on Etsy on Face Book and thought are my readers crafters?  What would your answer be to this question?   Mine was that I go to Home Depot with my hubby for plumbing supplies and end up purchasing copper pipe to make garden sculptures!  I just can't help seeing something creative out of all the cool stuff out there.  Check out Etsy on Face Book for many fun responses.  And tell me what your response is! 

Stay crafty!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Website Is Here!

Still working on building up my soap inventory. I sold a good deal of soap at the end of the year and was wiped out of many of your favorites.  I will build up the inventory of the classic fragrances and then work on some new idea.  Meanwhile, I launched my new website!   Want to take a peek?

I do still need to take and insert some photos and tweak it a bit, but there it is!  And I have already received orders on it, so it's working correctly too! 

Thanks again to dRE whom I found over on (find her here: Solid Art Collective )