Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mojo Monday on Thursday

Ok, it took a few days to find my stampin' mojo ;) 

I love the Mojo Monday blogspot (  It really helps when you are in a pickle about making a new card.  Once a week a new card design is posted and people from all over the globe post their samples.  There are some very creative people out there.  You should take a look if you're ever stuck for a new design or need a creative kick in the pants. 

I decided to use Halloween as my theme.  Everyone knows that you should start holiday cards a few months in advance (...something I rarely do...I try every year though, see my comments below...).  The theory goes that in this way you can finish them all before the holiday and send them out to everyone you know.  However, if you're anything like me, you'll have enough time to play with your holiday card supplies until just before the holiday then frantically make up a bunch to send out two days before!

I used some of last year's Halloween DSP (you have to use those scraps sometime!).  If you're anything like me, you have hoards of paper you don't want to let go or use because you'll run out of it.  Logically, you understand that you bought it to use, but still, it's so pretty, you don't want to run out.  Well...I made myself a vow to use the old (very difficult...) before I buy the pretty new DSP's that Stampin' Up! has in the new catalogue.  It's hard to part with, but I did it!  As you can see in this card and a few of the other cards I posted.  Baby steps...

The set is from the current catalogue (House of Haunts, 111574, $22.95).  Nice and spooky!  I used some of the little sponge daubers to make the moon with the new Daffodil Delight ink.  I didn't have a circle template for the moon, so I used my small circle punch on a piece of scrap and made my own template.  The card itself is gray textured cardstock (...I know, you can't see the texture, which is why I'm sharing that with you...), and I used a stamp I had of bats to add an extra touch to the inside of the card and the envelope.  Don't forget to decorate your envelopes - it gives people a sneak peek of what's inside.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Anniversaries Continued

OK, today is the last Anniversary for a few months...below is the card I made.  You can see the detail on the Designer Series Paper (DSP) in the second picture.  It's a nice 'soft' design perfect for a wedding or anniversary card background.  I'm sure you have some sitting around in a 'bits & pieces' pile - this is the time to use it.  I just love the bird punch that Stampin' Up! has, it's so cute and good for many projects.  I used some of the Elegant Eggplant cardstock and ink to make the birds stand out a bit, along with the black here!

I'm trying to use up some of my older DSP before I buy a bunch of new packages.  The paper I used is from the previous catalogue, as is the lilac colored plain cardstock; all supplies are Stampin' Up!  It's funny, I have no actual 'Anniversary' stamps to make cards with, so I've had to be creative with some of the word stamps I have.  Just goes to show you don't have to have the perfect saying with your stamps.  Use something reminiscent of the situation then add a nice handwritten note inside. 

People don't really send many cards anymore...I think they should have a 'Handwritten Note Holiday' on the calendar somewhere, so people can get back to personalizing things.  What do you think?  Don't you love to get mail and handwritten letters?

Monday, July 26, 2010


This week is Anniversary week in my family.  My parents are today, my brother and sister-in-law tomorrow, and my in-laws the next day.  My husband and I broke the tradition and waited until October!  There is still one brother-in-law left, currently unmarried, so we'll have to see where he falls when he makes the leap.  I thought I'd post a card or two in commemoration...or just in case the card doesn't make it on time to the recipient, they can look here and see what's on it's way :)  As is the case with my parents card...I thought they'd be out of town for a few days (who leaves Vegas?), so I procrastinated and finished the card last night, sent it off this morning. 
Let me know what you think of it.  I think it turned out nice and 'anniversary' like.  I'm a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, so I had a lot of toys to play with to make it.  The new Catalogue came out recently, so I was able to use some of my favorite new Designer Series Paper (DSP) 'Greenhouse Gala' and my favorite new set 'Friends Never Fade' - they remind me of Art Nouveau them!  I'll post some more cards soon using the sets...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mint Chocolate Chip

I escaped to my little cottage two days ago and attempted an old recipe with a minor adjustment.  Unintentionally, I created Mint Chocolate Chip soap...oddly enough, not a drop of chocolate or cocoa in it!  I was pouring in the scent at the end of trace and my husband walked in and asked about the ice cream...I told him it was soap and he walked away mumbling about ice cream. 

I took pictures again, lucky you.  Some day, after I make my first million selling soap, I'll hire a good photographer to make these look really, really good.  You'll have to put up with me until that point.   

Back to the soap...  I found a note in an old soapmaking book that talked about super-fatting the soap with Shea Butter after trace, as Shea Butter doesn't completely react with the lye in the soap; it remains behind and adds nice conditioning oils in the finished soap.  I'm not sure if this is correct or not, but I'm trying it out.  In addition to this, I picked up a pretty little packet of green oxide to add a bit of color.  So this would be three firsts for me (does that add up?) - first with super-fatting after trace, first with coloring soap, and first with swirling. 
This is a basic recipe using Coconut Oil with a touch of Shea Butter, Vegi Oil (yep, Crisco), Olive Oil, and Lye.  Nothing fancy here.  This is a recipe I received when I took a soap making class over 10 years ago, and everything was by volume, not weight, so I broke out my old measuring cups to make this.  This isn't the most scientific method, no exact figures here (really, who among us really takes the time to measure out a perfect cup??).  For all it's non-scientificness (new word), it used to make the best bar of soap with a wonderful, creamy lather that lasted forever, and gentle enough for babies and those of us with picky skin.   After trace, I added a heaping teaspoon of melted Shea to the mix, along with the Green Oxide (I'm going to have to look that up, not sure that's the proper name...) and a sprinkling of crumbled Spearmint leaves (the bag of peppermint leaves nowhere to be found, I should have noted that as a sign...).  I used the 'Williamette Valley Peppermint' essential oil from Majestic Mountain Sage ( as my scent.  I think next time I'll leave out the dried leaves, they turn a soft brown after curing and it really ruined the look I was going for (moldy ice cream??).  Does anyone else have that issue when using Spearmint or Peppermint leaves to the soap mix?  See the pics below and let me know... 

So here are the soaps.  I had enough for two little crates (the photos at the beginning of this post, soooo cute!  You have to see these lovely vintage Velveeta crates...that shop in Jamestown CA again...) so I decided to make them each a bit different.  The first is the plain old soap with swirls of color mixed with my spatula (too thick to use a knife and swirl carefully), the second I swirled less color and added a bit of crumbled spearmint leaves across the top (I don't plan on doing this again, they don't stay that pretty green'll see...).  I love the darker swirls in the one soap, but the brown bits kinda ruined the look, almost like sea foam.  They do seem to be curing well, as I was able to cut them today.  There were even some suds on the knife when I rinsed it off and the soaps seem to have a creamy texture.  And a nod to my husband...they still smell like Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream...I'll have to mix in some Cocoa Butter next time and see how that smells...
Let me know your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finally Soaping Again!

The house smells quite pleasantly of lavender and honey today...
I wrote this the other day on the 4th of July.  It was about 98◦ outside and our air conditioner was not working. The overhead fans were on inside, spreading the scent throughout the house. It was a balmy 80◦ inside, perfect for soapmaking, especially with that lovely scented breeze. My soapmaking attempt of the day? Yep...a lovely Lavender soap, with oatmeal and honey.

A little background for you, as this is my first post...I had a whole bunch written to bore you with, but figured you could look over at the 'About Me' section and see it over and over (lucky you!).  So, here we'll start with the fact that I was married recently (a year in October, yay!) to the love of my life, who has been waiting patiently for me to make my soap.  Here's a bit of the story...

My wonderful man lived in a far away city (at least 2 hours from where I was living...) and told me, quite nicely, that I was free to be unemployed while settling in to my new home. YIPPEE, I thought, I can start making lots and lots of soap and herbal bits (sooo much fun!) and sell them at craft fairs and on-line and show him how nice it will be to have a wife who makes soaps, and herbal salves, and all manner of odd and wonderful crafty things (whew! long sentence...) Alas, almost a year has passed and my soapmaking has been little and far between. I have been playing with recipes here an there, but have been generally quite unproductive.

So, July 4th I decided to restore his faith in me (quite a wonderful husband, still hasn’t said a word about the non-existent soap and herb business...very patient) and I started off with a bit of hot process soapmaking in the crock-pot! I’ve been enamored lately of the look hot-process soapmaking creates (not mine of course, but I’ve seen pictures...) - very rustic and old fashioned looking to me. It's got that pretty 'medieval' feel to it (to me at least, as I picture it...not the mushy pile you read about in history books!).

Ok - yes, crock-pots aren’t exactly ‘medieval’ in style (back to the cottage in the forest here...), but I just love the look they produce right now, so we’ll see what happens. Mayhap my little cottage will have to get a magical crock-pot (don’t tell the villagers...our part of the forest does not have electricity yet).

So...I’ve played around with a few recipes I’ve seen here and there, came up with a list of favorite oils and ingredients, and ran them through a lye calculator found on the website for Majestic Mountain Sage (, a great site for both information and supplies. Using their Sunflower Oil, a bit of Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Calendula tea and Lye, a sprinkling of Cocoa Butter and Beeswax, I melted and stirred and waited until trace (just like thick pudding...) and left everything in the crock-pot to do as it would.

I used a small crock-pot, after all, this was a test recipe. The crock-pot box noted it would hold 64 oz, so my recipe was around 32 oz, give or take. Do you think it fit? Only an inch left from the top! So, when the foamy gloop started curling around half the crock-pot, the top started rising up, and I opened it and stirred quickly (I don’t think you’re supposed to open it often, don’t want all that lovely heat to escape). About half an hour passed and I looked again, and stirred again, and so on for about two hours. When it started looking like a nice shiny Vaseline, I took it off the heat (yes! I got pictures!).

I stirred and stirred to distribute the heat. I took a small mushy bit and touched my tongue to it to test for lye. Disgusting and old-fashioned, but it works...luckily, or not, it just tasted like plain old soap. I even rolled some into a ball and tried to wash with it...lovely petite bubble formed. So, I added a Tablespoon or two of raw honey, and another for good measure, some oats I had chopped by hand (the magical electric chopper was nowhere to be found...) and stirred and folded and stirred. I added a Tablespoon or three of some heavenly smelling Lavender (just plain Lavendula officinalis) and stirred and folded and stirred some more.
Then I reached for a little jar of 24K Gold Mica dust...tapped it a bit into the pot...and I have to tell you it looked like a fairy exploded (that stuff comes out fast)!  So, I scooped up a bit and tossed some in the sink...then blew softly on the pot to distribute the dust a bit before stirring. Needless to say, the kitchen has a nice shimmery quality to it right now. It was very lovely in the afternoon light...and I don't think my husband noticed when he was getting the BBQ ready later that day...
I spooned the mixture into a wonderful little antique wooden box/drawer which I found in Jamestown, CA at a terrific little antique shop, smoothed the top a bit with my fingers and some wax paper, and set it in the sun for a bit to process just a tad longer. It looked so pretty, with a nice golden sheen on the top (no fairy parts left after the sad explosion...just kidding!). It has a soft lather and the longer it sits on the shelf, the more that soft honey feeling comes out in the lather (not the stickyness, just the softness...).  If all goes well, and this recipe works, I’ll be up and running in no time! I can’t wait!  I will, however, still need to work on packaging...

I'll have a few sample sizes for anyone interested...or at least the first five responders...just let me know and I'll send it off for your appraisal and testing.  Who can pass up free soap!  Can you see the golden sparks?