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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Valentine's Day Soap

by Tonya

I've made soap from scratch before using the cold process method (mixing lye, water, and lard or oil). It is somewhat dangerous and takes weeks to cure. This time I used melt-and-pour pre-made glycerin soap and it was so easy!

I ordered my soap and fragrance from Sweet Cakes, molds from Amazon, and followed these instructions from Martha Stewart. 

The clean-up was incredibly easy and I felt successful on the first try. It doesn't get much better than that. 

The process is really simple:

1. Chop up the glycerin block and place the pieces in a microwave-safe container. A large glass measuring cup works great because you can easily pour the melted soap into the molds. Heat on medium for a few minutes, stir, and repeat until the soap is completely melted. 

2. Stir in coloring and/or fragrance. I bought pre-colored soap. For fragrance, I used about 1 tsp per 1lb of soap and it seems to be strongly scented. Check the instructions on your fragrance in case it is a lot stronger or weaker than mine.

3. Place silicone molds on a baking sheet so you can move them around if you want. It's also easier to clean drips off a pan than off the counter. Pour soap into molds. Let them sit and cool for a few hours. You can put them in the refrigerator or even the freezer if you want to speed up the cooling process.

4. Pop them out of the molds. Use letter stamps to make "conversation heart" phrases, or any phrase you like. Martha recommended using 2-inch molds and 1/8 inch stamps, but since I wrote short messages, I think the stamps were a little too small. I think I would have preferred 1/4 inch stamps.

This soap-making experience was a great success, but I have had a disaster in the past. The mistake I made was putting a pan I had used into the dishwasher without first cleaning it completely. I thought the soap would just get rinsed off. Nope, bubbles seeped out of the dishwasher and all over the kitchen floor. It was a huge mess and I'm only able to admit to it because it's been several years now. 

Have you ever made soap? Was it a success or a huge mess?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sugar and Spice Scrub

Happy 2013! Let's make a commitment to creativity this year, and to following through on some of those pinned, bookmarked, and torn out ideas we've collected. 

I started the year with an easy recipe for a moisturizing shower scrub. If your skin is drying out this winter like mine is, or you just want really soft skin, give this a try.

Sugar and Spice Scrub 

1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp dried rose petals
2 tsp orange zest
1 cup sesame oil
1 cup olive oil

 Measure all ingredients into a large bowl.

 Mix all ingredients, combining well.

 Store in airtight containers for up to six months.

To use, gently massage into wet skin in the shower. It will be a little messy and might make your shower floor slippery, so be careful and clean up after you're done. 

If you have a helpful toddler, you may need a kitchen activity for her to do while you measure, grate, and mix. I asked mine to measure beans for me. I poured some dried beans into a big bowl and gave her a measuring cup and another big bowl. She stood on a chair at the counter and transferred the beans back and forth pretty happily for most of the project's duration. At the end, I just had to sweep up about 50 beans that had been thrown on the floor in protest. 

Do you have any favorite scrub recipes to share?

How about ideas for keeping a 2-year old safe and busy in the kitchen while you work?