Hand Crafted Soap

Bubble Bubble Bubbles

I finally got around to making my very first batch of soap! I decided to go with a very basic recipe from TheSoapQueen containing 4 oils (coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, and castor oil), lye solution, and dried marigold (calendula) flowers. I didn’t add any essential oils because I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t interfere with trace (basically how fast saponification occurs can change the quality of the soap) and to ensure that no one would be allergic to the oils within the soap.

Calendula flowers apparently retain their color in cold process soaps and so I opted with them.

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Before I started mixing any oils together, I had to melt the palm oil and coconut oil! They came in bags that I could boil or microwave which was neat. I also mixed a 50% lye solution using filtered water. Dissolving lye into water is extremely exothermic (resulting from enthalpy of solvation of sodium hydroxide in water) and pretty dangerous in a closed space without a lab fume hood. My nose can tell you what it feels like accidentally breathing in some caustic fumes, but not to worry, proper goggles and gloves were worn to protect me from any other chemical burns.

 Two molds: acrylic soap loaf pan and silicone mini loaf pan

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 With the oils mixed and the lye solution prepared, I began mixing! I added the lye solution slowly to my oil blend and used an emulsion blender with a stainless steel shaft to stir everything together.

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 Stirred until the mixture reached a light trace!

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I poured this batch into the silicone mini loaf pan that I lined with some calendula flowers.

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To another batch, I added the dried flowers directly to the mixture when it reached a light trace and poured it into the acrylic soap pan. I sprinkled the top with more flowers.

DSC_0707 Ta Da! I let the mini loaf sit for 24 hrs before I popped them out. The soap in the loaf pan needed an extra week to come out easily, and next time, I think I’ll line it with parchment or wax paper for easier removal.

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The mini loaves took about 3 weeks to completely dry. Some soda ash (sodium carbonate) appeared on the outside as a result of sodium hydroxide reacting with carbon dioxide either in the air or dissolved in the water. As the soap dries and cures, the salt precipitates out on the surface. Since it’s just an aesthetic problem, I decided to keep it. I actually like the white coloring.

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I sliced the soap loaf into small rectangles and allowed those to dry for 3 weeks. Luckily for me, only a little bit of soda ash formed on the top of the loaf which gave my soap a cute white topping. I think the sliced soap loaf soap turned out better than the mini loaves. Oh so pretty!

DSC_0816 So I used the soap for a week with no problems and decided to give them away as homemade Christmas gifts. I hope everyone is excited for the homemade gift idea I have for next year! 😉

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Chocolate on a Stick

Stir Well

Last year, I gave hot chocolate on a stick from Etsy as small Christmas stocking stuffers and loved the idea so much that this year, I whipped up a batch of my own. All I used was chocolate (70% cocoa bittersweet), cocoa, powdered sugar, and flavors (cinnamon vanilla and peppermint). For the sticks, I used Wilton candy cane spoons, cinnamon sticks, and birch spoons. And I used square ice cube molds to divvy the chocolate into convenient individual portions.

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Basically, all I did was chop up my chocolate bar (9.7 oz) and melted it slowly in a double boiler.

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Then I added 1/2 cup of sugar, give or take depending on taste, 2-3 tbs of unprocessed cocoa, a pinch of salt and continued to stir until the chocolate was smooth. You can leave out the salt and the chocolate milk will still taste delicious. (I forgot in my first batch and it came out just fine.) To another batch, I switched out a tbs of cocoa for a tbs of ground cinnamon and added the scrapings of half of a vanilla bean to the chocolate. It was truly that easy!

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I transferred the chocolate to a disposable pastry bag and filled the ice cube tray 3/4 of the way up. To remove all the air bubbles, I picked up the trays and dropped them a few times so that the chocolate set evenly.

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Then for the toppings! To the regular chocolate, I sprinkled them with more powdered sugar and topped them with either a candy cane spoon or birch spoon. The sugar looked a lot like snow which I think is a festive look for the holidays.

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It’s always difficult to get all the chocolate from A to Z, and instead of licking the remaining chocolate in my pastry bag, I let it dry and used it to top my second chocolate batch.

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I put them in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the chocolate quickly which really helps keep the spoons stay straight. After about 30 minutes, I used a butter knife to go around the edges and gently pulled out the chocolate on the spoons.

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They turned out fabulously.

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And tasted just as deliciously as they looked melted in a mug of warm milk.

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DIY: Flower headband

Grocery flowers are pretty, too!

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I needed to make a flower crown for a photo shoot so I went to my local grocery store for some inexpensive flowers. For the base, I used 22AWG insulated wire that I had in my tool box, but of course, any type of malleable wire that holds its shape can be used.

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I measured the circumference of my head and doubled that length when cutting the wire. The long piece of wire was then folded in half, and the two halves were loosely twisted together. Then, I trimmed down the flower steams leaving roughly four inches and threaded them through the small loops in the wire crown.

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With more wire, I wrapped the flower stems, securing them to the original wire crown, and I repeated the process with more flowers and wire. I ran out of time to fill the headband completely with flowers so the other half I quickly wrapped with purple ribbon. Ta da! It turned out pretty neat for a project that took only 30 minutes and cost under $15.

Thank you ZoeLifePhotography for this great picture!

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Taken from my iPhone.
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