Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nov. 24 - New soaps

A quickie post to let everyone know six new soaps have been added to the 'catalog.'  There is a link to that particular post on the right side of my blog.  Check 'em out!

Off to see New Moon now.  Woot!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov. 20

I should be watching New Moon tonight but.....yes.....it's sold out.  The midnight showing was sold out, and all showings today (on two screens) are sold out.  I'm mostly ok with this because I'm not nearly as crazy about this one as I was Twilight, but it would have been cool to see this one opening too.  Oh well, we're going Tuesday night instead.

The Last Sin Eater (2007)
Cadi Forbes (Liana Liberato) lives in an 1850s Appalachian community proud of its faith and its ability to keep secrets close to home. So in the wake of her little sister's tragic death, Cadi seeks out the only person she believes can help her -- the Sin Eater (Peter Wingfield). Henry Thomas and Oscar winner Louise Fletcher co-star in director Michael Landon Jr.'s screen adaptation of Francine Rivers's novel.

Watched this tonight (instead of New Moon, ya I know) and had not realized it would rather churchy.  It had a kinda sappy feel to it.  Hubby and I kept making references and jokes about Little House on the Prairie and then sure enough, there in the end credits.....directed by Michael Landon Jr.  LOL!  It wasn't a horrible movie, but was definitely not what I thought it would be.  Several times it seemed the story was wrapping up only to veer off to something else.  That got a little old after a while.  It was like 'What exactly is the story anyway??'  One funny thing is that I quite liked The Stranger guy who was living by the river, the Man of God.  I was thinking he was quite hot and when I looked it up on IMDB I had to laugh that it was Henry Thomas.  Yes, the little kid from ET.

The Proposal
When she learns that she's in danger of losing her visa status and being deported back to her native Canada, overbearing book editor Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) forces her put-upon assistant, Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), to marry her. Directed by Anne Fletcher (27 Dresses), this romantic comedy also stars Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen as Andrew's parents, Joe and Grace, and Betty White as the outspoken Grandma Annie. 

Finally saw this one last night.  While it was predictable it was also very funny, and then very touching.  And we got to see Ryan Reynolds (*swoon*) naked so what more could you ask for???

When I was shopping the other day I came across the plate....platter?......pictured above.  It was only a dollar, clearance at Walmart, but it looked so cool I had to grab it.  My immediate thought was to use it for taking pics of my soaps.  However, if my obsession dies out by next Fall this will look lovely on my table with things like the napkin holder and salt & pepper shakers on it.  Whatever happens, I think it looks cool.

I was labelling more of my soaps yesterday, getting the next 'ready to go' samples ready to go.  Hard as it's been, I have not made any new batches for five days now.  I have so many that are curing, taking up space already, and until I get decent feedback and a recipe that I like it's rather pointless to keep making more.  That being said, I'm hoping to make more on Tuesday because it will be my last chance to get anything cured in time for Christmas.

There is soooooo much happening in my soap world right now!  I don't even know where to begin!  

First, I think I had a major break through this morning.  I went ahead and used the Brown Sugar & Oatmeal soap that I'd been so anxious to use.  I loved it!  Finally, one of my own that I like!!!!  There was plenty of lather and it was bubbly (as I'd ready sugar would help with) and I did not feel any of the usual dryness in my hands or face afterwards.  I was so excited and happy this morning, wanted to tell everybody but who was there to tell?  So anyway, I checked what version of my recipe that one is and made some notes in my notebook.  I suspect it's the sugar that made it so wonderful and not really the base recipe.  We'll see.

The whole feedback part of things has been incredibly frustrating.  People do NOT seem to understand I'm giving these samples out as part of research and development.  They're just all happy to have free soap to play with and can't be bothered with more than 'It was fine' response.  They just don't care, or they don't want to hurt feelings, or whatever.  Well guess what people, you won't be getting free handouts when the next ones are ready.

I had thought all along that it might be handy to have a little survey type thing for people to fill out.  I never did it because I....stupidly.....figured 'Oh, I see these people almost everyday so we can just talk about it.'  Ha.  Well I now have a form made up and ready to print out when the next soaps get handed out.  I was also pointed in the direction of Survey Monkey and have made an online version of the same form.  I've added a link to it here on my blog (upper right corner).  None of my regular readers have used the soap yet but when you do I really hope you'll take a moment to do the survey.  

I also added a little sticker to the back of my soap samples, including my email addy and a request for feedback.  It may seem like overkill but geez....are people really so greedy for anything free that they can't do a simple favor in return?

Hubby asked a girl at his workplace yesterday if she'd like to try my soap.  She said sure.  Word got around and someone else asked to try.  One girl even has goats and said we could get milk from her if we wanted.  Hubby suggested I put together some samples and he'd take them in for people to try.  So I took one of each of my first seven batches and put them in a little box for him.  I'm really low on what's left from those early batches.  I still have almost two full sets put aside to take to my family's Thanksgiving get-together.  I'm kinda leery of the reaction I'll get from them though, wondering if anyone will really want to try them.  I've only gotten 'Heh, wow, dork' feeling responses from them so far when mentioned.

Anyway, hubby took the little box of samples today along with copies of the feedback form and a print out of the 'Available Soon' soaps.  Everything was handed out in the first two hours.  LOL!  They all want more, and have gotten first choice of the next soaps.  Of course, just cuz they took the forms doesn't mean I'll ever see them again.  *sigh*  One guy told hubby about a small craft type store in a nearby town that would probably let me sell the soap there.  I already of know of three stores that are closer that I'd like to contact later on when I'm ready for selling.  It was very cool though of the guy to be interested and mention the store he knows.

One of the girls on the soap forum has agreed to test some of my samples.  Talk on the board has been that fellow soapers would probably give the most honest feedback because we all know what it's like, what to look for.  So I contacted this girl and she's agreed.  That will be interesting.  Of course, I had contacted her before I used my wonderful sugar soap this morning.  Might not need her afterall.  lol

I've started doing some research too.  I want to join the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild eventually.  There is another group, can't remember the name at the moment, but it's for all-natural products.  Using fragrance oils takes your product out of that category but it would still be cool to be able to show it on my non-FO stuff.  I was also reading at Etsy, finding out what their rules and rates and stuff are.  I need to find out about insurance and sellers license and all sorts of stuff.  I was looking at some craft fair info too, what's involved in trying to get in on one.  Who knew you couldn't just wave your hand and scream 'I wanna sell stuff!'?!??

AND I'm just starting to learn about infusing oils and various other higher level soapmaking stuff.  *phew*  Yep, head has been spinning here.  I have so many scribbled notes and papers cluttering my desk.  It's a crazy mess, but still so much fun underneath the surface layer of stress.  It's all happening so fast.

My sister spread the soapy word to several people she knows.  A few of them have said they'd like to try some.  I've recreated my 'Soap Catalog' over at Facebook.  So many people keep telling me to start selling now, that it's a great time to get into it with the holidays coming up.  People just don't want to hear me when I say I'm.Not.Ready.  Seriously, people!  I don't have a base recipe I'm happy with yet.  And once I do settle on it, the soaps need to sit and cure for at least four weeks before they're ready to go.  And I need to build up stock.  And get all my previously mentioned ducks in a row.  I do *not* want to just sell whatever oddball thing I make to people at work for cash on the spot.  I want something more respectable than that.

Wow.  I had plenty more to write but I've rambled long enough and it's past my bedtime.  I have to work this weekend.....BLEAH!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16

Frozen River (2008)

On a Mohawk reservation on the Canadian border, Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo, in an Oscar-nominated turn) teams with widowed tribe member Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham) to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States. Though the work provides the women with much-needed money, each trip puts them in peril. Charlie McDermott and Michael O'Keefe also star in this riveting drama nominated for multiple Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Feature.

This was a very good movie.  There were a couple bits of fairly crappy acting from some minor characters but it was easy to overlook that.  It kinda reminded me of the look and feel of Gone Baby Gone, which I also really liked.  I don't even know what to say about it without giving it all away.  Just...good movie, go rent it.

I made those Smelly Jelly Jars this morning.  It was ridiculously easy, took about five minutes. 

I think I didn't let the water/oil get hot enough.  It said heat it 'just' to boiling and I pulled it off when first bubbles were starting but no actual boil activity happening.  This might have kept the gelatin and salt from dissolving properly.  I didn't use any food coloring in these.  I think the Pear Spice fragrance oil gave it the yellow look.  Does plain gelatin leave any color?  Poured them in my former Glade candle holders and left them alone to firm up.  Later in the afternoon I placed them in various spots throughout the house.  They smell lovely!  Hubby even commented when he stepped into the house this evening.  I don't know if I'll make them again but it was a handy little way to use up the non-soap-safe fragrance oil.

Spent a good part of the day obsessing about soap, as usual.  I've been browsing the fragrance oil sites and making mental wish lists.  I've been chatting with a couple people about favored scents.  I've been checking out other peoples websites and products.  I was reading a 'start your small business' website.  And all of it was making me crabby because I'm too impatient for this early stage of learning, practicing, perfecting.

*Tried* to finish reading my book today so I can move onto the borrowed philosophy book.  Didn't get much done though because my mind is racing on other things.  Gah!

So, blah blah blah whatever.....drawing a blank now, so I'll just go to bed.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nov. 15

He's Just Not That Into You (2009)

Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson lead an all-star ensemble cast of characters dealing with the pitfalls of love and human interaction in this big-screen adaptation of Greg Behrendt's best-selling book. Set in Baltimore, director Ken Kwapis's film moves swiftly between a host of storylines brought to life by a stellar lineup of actors that also includes Jennifer Connelly, Ben Affleck, Ginnifer Goodwin and Justin Long.

This one was pretty good.  Most of the storylines had predictable endings but getting there was interesting.  I really liked the Gigi character...need to check what else that girl has been in.  Drew Barrymore was hideous in this one, but then I'm not a fan of hers anyway.  Not really sure why Scarlett's character got pissy at her man....she knew all along he was married and he kept saying no but SHE kept pushing.  So he banged his own wife....?  Did she think he would be giving that up?  Did I miss something?  Overall though, pretty good movie.  Kinda chick flickie perhaps but hubby seemed to enjoy it without too much eye rolling.

In today's soap pot.....
Made three more batches today.  One had fresh cucumber puree, one had fresh avacado puree, and one was just Cranberry Citrus fragrance oil.  It was funny because that oil smells just like Juicy Fruit gum!  At least that's what we think in this house.  I guess that one would be a hit with kids, hehe.  All three that I made were goat milk.  Heck, all that I make now are goat milk so I guess I don't need to mention that.

Got a text report from my one co-worker (Excited Girl) saying the pumpkin spice soap I'd given out the other day at work melts fast and leaves brown streaks down the shower wall.  I hadn't told her to keep them out of water when not actually lathering up because yes, most homemade soaps to melt faster than store bought concrete hard bars.  She said the scent was good in the shower but nothing lingered on her skin.  This is the only feedback I've gotten from all the soap I gave out a couple days ago.

I cut my nasty-scent soaps from yesterday.  Actually I think I pulled them out of the mold too soon because they were still quite slimy and soft on the sides and bottom.  I let them sit all day in the open air and they were at least firm enough to cut this evening.  The scents seem to have tamed a little....thankfully!  Still can't imagine who would want to use there though!?  Noticed the gel stage didn't make it to the edges on these.  *grrr*  I guess that's my fault cuz as soon as I saw the hot spot bump/crack on them I pulled the cover off.  The ones I made today though, I just left the covers on and peeking has shown that gel made it to the edges.  I'll leave these in the molds the full 24 hours before even bothering to pull them out, just to be sure they're ready.

Moved my already curing bars around this evening and I just really really want to try those!  The oatmeal/honey and brown sugar ones are in that set.  Still have a couple more weeks to wait on those though.

Tomorrow I'm going to try making those Smelly Jelly jars.  I have everything I need, just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.  I don't think I have enough jars but I'll use some of those glass globe type candleholders that Glade candles used to come in.  Maybe.  Have to do some digging and be sure I have enough.  Will post pics whenever I manage to get them made.

My new thing I want to make is homemade suet bars for bird feeders.  I've thought about this before but never acted on it.  Hubby and I were out shopping today and he mentioned a co-worker of his makes her own so that kicked my ambitions into gear.

Actually I *really* want to make some body butters and lotions!  Crazy, I know.  I've been putting off learning about these because I figure learning soap is enough for now.  Today I couldn't help it though and was reading a little bit about making them, and even looking at some on Etsy.  I do think I eventually want to make a whole line of products though.  *dreamy sigh*

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov. 14

My order from Goat Milk Stuff arrived today.  Like it's not crazy enough that I ordered six bars in the first place, they threw in a freebie!  I got SEVEN bars.  And my freebie is the Oatmeal, Milk & Honey that absolutely love.  Oh, I love those people.  I wish they made lotions and stuff.

Left to right, from the top - Oatmeal, Milk & Honey; Black Raspberry; Luv Spell; Oatmeal, Milk & Honey again; Peppermint; Hazelnut w/coffee grounds; Black Cherry.  I've had a sample of their coffee one already.  The Peppermint I got to be in a Christmas mood.  The Black Cherry and Raspberry, just because.  And the Luv Spell is just because I need to see what all the fuss is about.  Apparently it's a copy of a Victoria's Secret scent, and it seems everyone who makes soap makes this one...and everyone who buys soap buys this one.  First impression was 'Well, it's pink.  How girlie.  Of course.'  The smell was bit odd to me but I'll let it air out for a while and see if it's different.  Maybe being in box with others has mingled scents initially.

So yeah, soaps coming out my ears now!  I'm wanting to take five showers a day lately.  LOL

In my own soap pot today....
I made Orange Mint, Lemongrass Mint, and a Mint Coffee kitchen soap.  This was my first time using essential oils (EOs).  I was not impressed at all.  Wow, that stuff is potent.  I knew they would be but....wow.  Given the price, the messiness, and the gag me factor, I think I'll definitely be going back to regular old fragrance oils (FOs).

All three of the soaps I made were ideas I got from either Etsy or the soap forum.  I'm really hoping those scent combos blend into something different than what I was smelling because YUCK!  I can't imagine why anyone would want to buy those?!  Yet, they seem to be fairly common.  The coffee one might be ok.  It has real coffee and real coffee grounds for scrubbiness.  It's meant to be a kitchen/hand soap to help remove cooking odors and whatnot.

I'm hoping to make three more batches tomorrow but not sure what.  Debating using the oils again, you know, to use them up and get them out of here.  *snort*  I bought an avacado and a cucumber today with the intention of putting the puree of each into batches, so I suppose I should make those two at least.

Except for the few pieces I've set aside for specific people, I've given away all of the sample bars from my first seven batches of soap.  Word was spreading yesterday and people I never would have expected asked to try my soap.  Everyone is just wild about them.  People were asking how much I want for them.  I keep telling everyone that I don't want anything right now, just their opinions.  I tell them I'm still learning and practicing.  It's funny too because none of them seem remotely interested in the fact that I had real carrots or pumpkin in some.  They're just concerned with the smell.  So that's another reason I'll be switching back to FOs.

The stuff today is also a newly tweaked recipe.  Which reminds me....all the people that have tried my soap so far say it's 'fine,' or 'very nice,' or 'great.'  They all say it lathers fine, is creamy, and isn't drying.  I've noticed that even now that I'm back to using the soap I ordered I still feel the dryness in my hands and face so I'm starting to suspect it's just because winter is coming, the furnace is running, the air is dryer now.  This is somewhat reassuring as far as my own soap is concerned.

In non-soap news.....
Last weekend we had excellent weather so hubby started putting up the Chrstmas lights outside.  We are NOT turning them on until after Thanksgiving, but to get them hung while the weather is still decent is a good thing.  We had great weather again today so hubby and I went to our favorite Spend Way Too Much Money store: Menards.  We needed a few lights related things, and we wanted to look at some other yard things to add to the display.  Didn't quite find all we needed but got enough for hubby to finish the lights today.  We turned them on this evening to get an idea how they'll look.  There a few things we need to do yet, but overall it's looking pretty good.  We might go browsing again tomorrow at different stores to see if we can find what we're looking for.

Ty's friends have been coming over almost every weekend now.  The three regulars are Matt, Eric, and Breanna.  Yes, a girl is part of their 'gang.'  She doesn't appear to be a girlfriend to any of them.  It's just kinda funny.  This evening all three of them were here, plus Ty, plus Casey all crammed into Ty's room playing Xbox.  His room is tiny.  I don't know where they're all sitting.  It's kinda cool though to have people coming and going. Ty was never very social in school.  Makes me worry a little more though about them having the whole weekend to themselves when hubby and I go to Minnesota.  Doh!

The Haunting of Marsten Manor (2007)
After inheriting a Queen Anne-style mansion from a distant relative, a blind girl (Brianne Davis) starts "seeing" things that seem too strange to believe. Her concerned friends wonder whether she's telling the truth -- or simply losing her mind. C. Thomas Howell co-stars in this supernatural thriller shot on location inside Salt Lake City's Armstrong Mansion, which is purported by many locals to be a "real" haunted house.

This movie SUCKED.  Oh.My.God.  It was bad everything....writing, acting, story.  There is really nothing more to say.  It sucked in a big way.  And it most definitely is not a "supernatural thriller" as Netflix claims it is.  It is an hour and a half of crap.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov. 12

I ordered my first essential oils earlier this week and they arrived today.  Wow, I could smell one of them as soon as I opened the back door (UPS sets packages just inside the door) and I can still smell it now even with it sitting on the counter in the kitchen.  I ordered peppermint, sweet orange, lemongrass, and rosemary....and it's the peppermint that is making itself known.  Definitely has me thinking about Christmas, hehe.

I've never used EOs before.  If I'm understanding things from the soap forum right, they are stronger than the fragrance oils.  I believe EOs are also natural, which I like.  Why did I select the four that I did?  Because as I browsed my ever growing list of popular varieties that I want to try making, these four seemed to keep popping up in various combinations.  So I guess I should be getting alot of use out of these.  And I don't work this weekend so guess what I'm doing!

I took a bunch of soaps to work today to hand out to people.  I took one of each of the first seven batches and gave one set to ExcitedGirl, and another set to a girl who was willing and interested but hasn't been directly involved in this madness until now.  I think she'll give constructive feedback, so yeah, she got a full set.  TagalongGirl asked for some, which surprised me.  She ended up taking two.  One other girl who had been there when ExcitedGirl and I were looking at my book and talking about soap a few weeks ago...she had told me not long ago that she wanted to try some.  She took a few, three or four different ones maybe.  She was very excited, offering me money already.  I told her no no no, I'm still learning, still practicing.  She was not to be swayed though and demanded to know what materials I use because she will help buy some as thanks.  I told her no no no, don't worry about it right now!  I told her I just wanted her feedback for now.  She agreed, said "I'll try these, then I'll order more."  LOL!

And then as I was getting ready to leave work this evening another girl noticed the bag I was carrying and I showed her the soaps.  She ended up taking the five samples that were left and was all gracious like she'd just gotten the deal of the century.  A few minutes later I saw her showing all her carpools ladies, passing the soaps around for them to see and sniff, and all were ooohing and aaahing.  A couple other people also seemed interested when they saw other people getting soaps.  I left work smiling like a fool, and still had the smile when I got home.  Maybe these people will be less impressed once they actually use the soaps but for now, the reaction was soooo not anything I'd expected.  I'm taking more tomorrow!

It's funny too because I'd been thinking I'd take the bulk of these soaps to our family gathering on Thanksgiving and/or Christmas and hope to get rid of them there.  Now it looks like I won't have any left after tomorrow!  How awesome is that?  And where I'd been thinking "ah, I can get rid of these at work" because I hadn't intended to make the non-goat milk ones anymore....maybe people will prefer them and I'll have to make more afterall?!  The whole thing is crazy on so many levels.  And these aren't even my 'good' soaps yet!

(The few people who have contacted me about what soaps they want don't have to worry.  I have yours set aside and don't consider those as part of the give-away bulk.)

Mirrors (2008)
This creepy supernatural thriller from director Alexandre Aja stars Kiefer Sutherland as troubled security guard Ben Carson, a man who discovers malevolent spirits living within the mirrors of a fire-ravaged department store. When their murderous nature comes to light, Ben turns to his estranged wife (Paula Patton) to help him save their family -- and himself. The supporting cast includes Amy Smart and Jason Flemyng.

This movie sucked.  I found it to be very slow, and kinda confusing.  It was also frustrating to have so much time spent in the dark.  Endless scenes in a building with no electricity, getting glimpses of things that the character shined his flashlight on.....yeah, boring.  What are we supposed to get out of things we can't see?  The very end was a bit of a "whoa...dude" moment but otherwise....BLEAH.

Ok, gotta go see what soaps I have left!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nov. 11 - What have I done?

I'm such a goob.  *rolls eyes*  I went back to the Goat Milk Stuff site and ended up ordering SIX bars.  Yes, it was supposed to be only one or two but then I started playing around to see how many I could get before the shipping rate went up...and decided 'Why not?'  So yes, six new bars will be heading my way soon.  That will definately get me thru my own trial and error period.

I hope.

If not, I should just give up by that point.

(That link again - Goat Milk Stuff dot com)

Nov. 11

Nights in Rodanthe (2008)
With chaos tearing her family apart, Adrienne Willis (Diane Lane) takes a weekend job at her friend's coastal North Carolina inn, but when a hurricane hits and strands the only guest, surgeon Paul Flanner (Richard Gere), Adrienne's life changes forever. As the storm rages outside, Adrienne connects with Flanner, who came to the retreat to escape a personal crisis. Scott Glenn co-stars in this intimate drama based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. 

Nicholas Sparks = tearjerker.  That's a given.  Even so, this was a sobfest.  Oh my god, I loved it.  I was already pretty much a blubbering baby but when the ponies ran by I just lost it.  LOL!!  I guess I should have expected what happened but I was so absorbed in the story that I didn't see it coming, totally forgot that's just the way his stories seem to go.  Maybe that says something for this story?  That I was caught off guard, I mean?  

I really like Diane Lane.  She's come a long way since 'Cherry' in The Outsiders!  I like Richard Gere too, but it's funny because if you ask who my favorite actors are I always seem to forget him.  They're very good together in this movie.  And there's a little bit of James Franco in here too, so how can you argue with that?

Just be sure you have a huge box of Kleenex.....heck, just grab a towel.

Wives & Daughters (3-Disc Series) (1999)
Family life changes drastically for the good-natured Molly Gibson (Justine Waddell) when her widowed father (Bill Paterson) decides to remarry, and a woman with her own set of rules (Francesca Annis) -- and a beautiful daughter (Keeley Hawes) -- becomes her stepmother. Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (Bridget Jones's Diary) penned the script to this four-episode BBC miniseries based on Elizabeth Gaskell's unfinished novel. 

I was looking forward to watching this one too, only to find out that they sent me the disc with the bonus material and not the show itself.  *grrrr*  Oh well, I'm worn out from watching the other one.  

My soap 'catalog'.....maybe it should be called a portfolio instead?  I've gotten some rave reviews about it and I thank you all for whatever support you give me in my crazy endeavor.  However, since we are our own worst critic, I'm not happy with the pics.  For as much color balance tweaking as I need to do with the lightbox pics, it makes me wonder what the joy of a lightbox is supposed to be...?!  If you scroll thru those pics in the previous post and pay attention to the background 'white' you can see how varied it gets.  I gave up trying for white and just tried to get the colors of the soaps to stay.  I'm thinking my camera is also not able to get such closeup, fine detail either.  Maybe there is a different setting I need to use?  Not sure.  And the props were just improvised with whatever I had available.  If I ever get to the point of selling online, I will definitely have this photography down pat by then.

Today is the second of my days off and I've been fighting the urge to make more soap the whole time.  I've forced myself to stop for now until I know how these current recipe variations perform.  Ideally the soaps should sit for a minimum of four weeks before being used.  That gives the bars time to harden up and mellow out, to settle into what they're going to be.  Many experienced soapers tell me the soap only gets better over time.  Having said that, I've recently learned from the same soapers that if your're just testing for yourself to see how a recipe is you can use it as soon as it's hard enough to handle.  This will make things way easier!!  So I'm starting to test different bars of my earlier soaps now.  Some are at the four week mark anyway, but some are younger.

I gave out four bars of my very first batch (the plain one) at work last week.  One was to a girl who is really excited about all this and wants to get into the craft herself.  One was to a longtime friend who 'seemed' interested.  One was to a guy who insists he can't use regular soap.  And one was to a girl I'm sure only wanted it because of the tag-along factor.  I also tried it myself.

Feedback from the guy was "My wife says your soap smells very nice."  What?  It's unscented.  When asked if he tried it himself, he said no, "I don't like trying new things."

Feedback from Tagalong Girl was "I like your soap."  When asked if it was drying at all, she insisted it wasn't, that it felt fine.  She said her boyfriend liked it too.  She said she did not use it on her face because "I don't use soap on my face!" (in a horrified tone).

Feedback from Longtime Friend was nonexistent until I prodded for it.  Then she seemed awkward about and said it was fine except that it made her face dry and she had to put lotion on.  Fair enough, but I don't believe her.  She seemed to just toss the info out quickly and avoided looking at me...as liars are known to do, heh.  Her manner leads me to believe she has no intention of switching to handcrafted soap anyway and probably only expressed early interest to humor me.  Oooh, maybe she thought I'd never stick with it to the point I've gotten to?

Feedback from Excited Girl has been the best but also slightly unreliable.  She first said she felt dry and itchy but later said she didn't.  After thinking about it, she wondered if the initial dry/itchy was just from switching products.  She has sensitive skin and says this happens when she switches.  She says her red dry patches are not as red with my soap.  She said it appears to be helping on her toddler who has extremely dry and sensitive skin.

My own findings were that this plain batch left my hands and face feeling dry and tight.  I've had to go back to using lotion, which I have not used since I switched to that first goat milk soap I'd ordered back at the end of September.  I found there was not enough lather and it didn't last long enough.  Oh, forgot to mention that the other three girls all claim the lather was fine.

Hubby and I went ahead and tried the second batch (cocoa swirl one) next.  He liked it, said it felt great, lathered great, no dryness.  He said the scent was fine in the shower but we couldn't smell it on him once he was out and dried off.  When I used it I found the lather to be a tiny bit better than the plain bar, and there was a wee bit less dryness in my face and hands.  I don't understand that because it's the same exact recipe.  A girl at work wondered if the cocoa powder or the fragrance oil may have done that....?  I have not had anyone else try this batch yet.  Will hand some out at work tomorrow.

Ty tried the third batch (carrot swirl one).  He said the lather was fine, no dryness after.  He didn't pay attention to the scent in the shower, said he couldn't smell it on himself after.  No one else has tried that batch yet.  Again, will hand some out at work tomorrow.

This was when I learned you can test your own stuff sooner than the normal four weeks, so I jumped ahead and tried the first goat milk soap I'd made.  I think my expectations were too high.  Maybe I thought the simple addition of a bit of milk would change everything.  It didn't.  Maybe the lather was a little better, not enough to have me consider it acceptable though.  Maybe the dryness was a little better too, but again not enough for me to be happy with.  And really, the recipe is the same except for the goat milk so why was I expecting so much?  *sigh*  Now I'm really really anxious to jump ahead to my most recent ones.  One has sugar in, and I've read that sugar will make it extra bubbly.  That right there would be a step in the right direction as far as I'm concerned!

So what did I do this morning?  In a frustrated act of 'Screw it!' I grabbed the good ol' bar of Goat Milk Stuff soap that I'd ordered and used that instead.  It was wonderful compared to mine.  *grrr*

Because of all this I've been stressing myself out about how to alter the recipe to get something better.  I've always wanted it to be something I can make with only readily available ingredients.  I don't want to have to be ordering special oils or ingredients.  If it's going to come down to that I'll probably give up and just order soap from other crafters.  Then I have people on the forum telling me not to fret so much about it.  They tell me to just play around with what I have and something will work out.  They tell me not to worry so much about what others might think but to make a soap that satisfies ME first and foremost.  Well, that's the problem, isn't it?  I'm *not* satisfied with what I'm getting from my available oils.  It's also frustrating to have the forum people keep telling newbies not to worry so much and to just play around, yet those same experienced soapers talk amongst themselves about the exact same things....'Have you used so-n-so?' 'What will so-n-so add to it?' 'How much so-n-so do you use and how do you use it?'


Remember I ordered those RenFaire themed bars recently?  They arrived late last week.....

They look fabulous!  But the scents are not pleasing to me....lol  That is no fault of the maker though, so don't think I'm trashing her.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised since they are not your typical 'pretty and popular' scents, but wow...I don't know if I can use these.  I will at least try them to be fair.  She also sent a freebie, a little container of Calendula Comfort Salve for dry spots like heels and elbows.  It's so neat to think it's homemade.  I'd like to learn how to make the whole bath and body line of products as most soapers seem to do, but for now.....I need to master the soap.

And I think I'll head back to Goat Milk Stuff and order a few more bars since it looks like it could be a while before I have something acceptable of my own.

*heavy drama queen sigh*

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nov. 10 - My Soap 'Portfolio'

Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils.


“Candy Bar”
(Scented with Honey Almond fragrance oil.)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; cocoa powder; fragrance.


(Scented with Amish Harvest fragrance oil:  
“A fragrance that is slightly spicy with delicious dried fruit notes.”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; carrot puree; fragrance.

(Scented with Gingerbread Cookies fragrance oil:
“Bakery notes, molasses, ginger and other spices. Just like a warm batch of gingerbread cookies waiting to be devoured.”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; fragrance.


“Winter Holiday”
(Scented with Cinnamon & Balsam fragrance oil:
“Warm cinnamon with hints of balsam fir. A cozy winter blend. A great holiday fragrance!”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; fragrance.


 “Pumpkin Spice”
(Scented with Sweet Pumpkin Spice fragrance oil:
“A warm blend of molasses, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ground cloves and pumpkin.” )
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; canned pumpkin puree; pumpkin spices (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice); fragrance.


Plain Goat Milk
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; goat milk.

“Oatmeal, Milk & Honey” goat milk
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; goat milk; honey; oatmeal.


“Vanilla Sugar” goat milk
(Scented with Warm Vanilla Sugar fragrance oil: “An inviting blend of vanilla, coconut, sandalwood, fragrant basmati rice with hints of heliotrope flowers and light musk.  A cozy fragrance.”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; goat milk; fragrance.


“Winter Holiday” goat milk
(Scented with Cinnamon & Balsam fragrance oil: “Warm cinnamon with hints of balsam fir. A cozy winter blend. A great holiday fragrance!”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, and castor oils; goat milk; fragrance.


“Honey Carrot” goat milk
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, sweet almond and castor oils;
goat milk; honey; carrot puree.


“Brown Sugar Oatmeal” goat milk
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, sweet almond and castor oils; goat milk;
brown sugar; oatmeal.


“Pumpkin Spice” goat milk
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, sweet almond and castor oils;
goat milk; canned pumpkin puree.


“Holiday Home” goat milk
(Scented with Home For The Holidays fragrance oil: “A pleasing blend of spruce, lightly sweetened bakery notes, cinnamon spice, and candied fruits. 
Enjoy the warmth of the holiday season.”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, sweet almond and castor oils; goat milk; fragrance.


“Yule Spice” goat milk
(formerly known as Cozy Autumn)

(Scented with Cranberry Apple Marmalade fragrance oil: “A festive blend of crisp apples, peaches, oranges, spiced cranberries and cinnamon.  Middle notes of black currant, cassis, clove, and vanilla spice add a sense of warmth to this delightful fragrance.  Zesty, cozy and warming!”)
Contains: saponified olive, coconut, soybean, palm, sweet almond and castor oils; goat milk; fragrance.


Orange Mint goat milk
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils; goat milk;
essential oils of orange and peppermint

Coffee Mint goat milk
(an odor removing kitchen soap)
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils; goat milk;
coffee; coffee grounds; essential oil of peppermint.

Lemongrass Mint goat milk
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils;
essential oils of lemongrass and peppermint.

Cucumber goat milk
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils; cucumber puree.


Avocado goat milk
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils; avocado puree.


Cranberry Citrus goat milk
(A blend of tart cranberries, juicy red grapefruit, tangy tangerine, sweet orange, and lemon-lime. A delightful fragrance. Nice for the holidays or as a refreshing spa scent!)
Contains: saponified soybean, palm, olive, coconut, castor, and safflower oils; fragrance.

That is every batch of soap I've made so far.  These are not for sale, but I am giving them to interested co-workers and family members and a couple online people that have offered to try them.  What do you think?  My favorite scented one is definitely the Warm Vanilla Sugar, and the one I'm most anxious to try is the Brown Sugar one because I've read sugar makes extra bubbly lather.

Which one is your favorite?  I have enabled Blogspot's Scratch-n-Sniff so make sure you get right up to your screen and give it a good snort.....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Nov. 5

Observe and Report (2009)
Rent-a-cop Ronnie Barnhardt (Seth Rogen) is tasked with keeping the peace at the Forest Ridge Mall, but when a flasher strikes, Ronnie has no gun -- and no power to stop the exhibitionist. A rivalry ensues when the police send in Det. Harrison (Ray Liotta) to crack the case. Can Ronnie bring the flasher to justice before the well-armed Harrison does? Anna Faris also stars in this darkly comic effort from writer-director Jody Hill

This movie, surprisingly...sucked.  I was ready to quit watching several times.  Even hubby was bored.  Usually we like Seth Rogen movie, no matter how inappropriate they are...lol  Usually Anna Faris is hysterical.  This one just bombed for whatever reason.  Paul Blart - Mall Cop was a way better mall security movie.  Oh well, bleah.  Skip this one.

In soap news....
I took a shower using my very own homemade soap for the first time yesterday.  I wasn't impressed.  *sigh*  It didn't lather much and that lather didn't last long enough.  It rinsed away cleanly, but my face and hands had a noticeable dry/tightness.  I was kind of surprised, but also kinda not because it was just a beginner, basic, plain-jane learning batch.  Still, I gave out four bars at work and told my biggest supporter (Jessie) that I need a full review no matter how good or bad it may be.  It was funny how many people were oohing and aahing when they saw the four bars I'd handed out.  One guy even asked "Where's mine?"  Ha, cool!  I told him I'd bring him on next time.

Used that same soap again this morning and had the same less than stellar results.  Later in the morning Jessie was texting me with her soap review comments.  She said her little boy had gotten face paint all over him so into the tub he went and she used my soap.  She was happy to report it gets rid of face paint no problem at all.  She also reported that it seemed a little drying and it felt like her legs were a little itchy.  *SIGH*  After my own experience this didn't really shock me but it was still disappointing to hear it confirmed.  I was back to really seriously considering tossing those early batches again.  But then later in the day she texted again saying she wasn't dry and itchy afterall, and her usual red dry patches were not as red today.  She likes the soap and thinks it works fine.  I texted her back, asking what the early itchy dryness was then, but she has yet to reply.

I was telling hubby all of this when he got home from work.  He said he would try my soap and give me a review.  He decided that since my cocoa swirl batch (#2) will be officially ready to use tomorrow, he wanted to use that one.  Into the shower he went.  He came out with a report that it lathered just fine, and the lather lasted all thru his shower.  He reported no signs of dryness or tightness.  He said it felt way better than the store bought bar soaps he always uses.  (I am leery of this comment though.  Seems like a bit of extra morale booster-ness, hehe.)  He said the scent was strong and wonderful in the shower but we couldn't smell it on him once he was dried off.  Hmm.  I think I will try this one tomorrow morning.

It was soap making day today!  First I made a quickie trip to Walmart to pick up a few things, including a fresh jar of baby food carrots.  I stopped to look at the spices again but decided to wait until I've ordered my next oils.  Then I came home and tried to decide which of the many many ideas I wanted to make today.  I can only do three at a time because I only have three molds.  If I'm on the ball tomorrow I can make three more once these current ones come out of the molds.  Heheeee!

Today was my most adventurous soap making.  The first batch was honey and carrot puree in goat milk.  Everything went smoothly and it was a lovely pastel orange color when I poured it in the mold.  It's gone into full gel and is doing nicely so far.  The second batch was brown sugar and ground oatmeal in goat milk.  This one was a little trickier because you have to dissolve the sugar first in the water you use to mix your lye.  Again, everything went fine.  I even sprinkled a wee bit of brown sugar and regular oatmeal on top after it was poured into the mold.  It's a very light tan color and was just about full gel when I last checked.  And the third batch was pumpkin (Libbys canned) in goat milk.  That too went fine, and was a lovely light orange when poured into the mold.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of pumpkin spice on top.  That one is also in full gel at this time.  I can't wait to cut these tomorrow and see how they look!  There will be pics if they are pic worthy.

I also tweaked the recipe again and have added sweet almond oil to it.  I guess this will fall into the allergy alert category but oh well....I had bought this bottle back in the beginning and have been wanting to use it up.

And tomorrow I have so many more possibles that I really don't know which ones to do.  I was planning on doing three scented ones but I'm just not sure.  Guess I'll figure it out tomorrow.

Now it's off to bed to dream about more lovely soaps.  LOL!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Nov. 3

Absolutely hellish day at work today.  One of those days were everything is bad, everybody wants you for something, and you can only do so much.  Didn't leave much mellow time for daydreaming about the fortunes to made in the selling of handcrafted soaps.  I did, however, get enough chitchatting in with two soap supporters that I've decided to take in samples of my first batch tomorrow.  Thursday will mark four weeks that this batch has been curing.  Since I'm not working Thursday, the girls convinced me to bring some in tomorrow.

I'm really nervous about it!  LOL

I whipped up some quickie little temporary labels when I got home this evening, just something to make the soap look a bit more respectable....or professional.  Heh.  And it's funny because I kinda like these labels.  Once I put them on the soaps it was like 'Ohmygosh! *gasp* They look so cute!'

I'm going to have to use one of the bars when I shower tomorrow morning, just so I know how it performs.  So far I've only used one of the trimmed scrap bits to wash my hands.  I also told one of the girls that I need a full report about the soap.  She's psyched and I'm nervous.  LOL

I can't wait till Thursday so I can make more.

Well, the show 'V' was supposed to premiere tonight.  I suppose it did everywhere else in the world but no, not here.  We had to have some stupid Packers recap local show.  What. The. Heck?!  So yeah, someone out there let me know how the show was.  I was a fan of the original show back in the '80s so I'm quite curious about this new version.  From what I was reading in USA Today, it's not just a remake.  The basic idea is the same but the setting, characters, details are changed.  I guess I won't know until next week though, when I can hopefully see the second episode.  I wonder if this first episode will be available online?  Hmm.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Nov. 2

The Maiden Heist (2008)
Over the years, museum security guards Roger (Christopher Walken), Charles (Morgan Freeman) and George (William H. Macy) each fall in love with a particular work of art in their care. But now, the new curator is shipping out all three works in an overhaul of the museum's collection. Desperate to save their favorite pieces, the men hatch a plan to steal them before they can be shipped away. Marcia Gay Harden co-stars. 

Smother (2008)
After being fired from his job, therapist Noah Cooper (Dax Shepard) returns home to discover that his loud, pushy mother (Diane Keaton) has left her husband and plans to live with Noah and his lovely wife (Liv Tyler) indefinitely. Now, the put-upon therapist has to cope with his outrageously overbearing mom while he also fends off his wife, who desperately wants him to sire a child, and tries to find new employment. Vince Di Meglio directs.

Both of these movies were cute and harmless.  It was quite refreshing to watch something that wasn't loaded with sex, violence, gore, swearing.  I liked them both.  If you're bored and come across either of these, give them a chance.

Moving on....

I am such a dork.  Such. A. Dork.  Ok, so I've been obsessed with making soap and currently have about ten batches sitting out for their curing time, and what did I do today?  I *ordered* two bars from someone online.  And they're not even goat milk soaps!  I couldn't help it though.  Anyone who knows me will know why THIS sucked me in.  Renaissance, alchemy, dragons....woot!  I came across this site while reading at the soap forum today.  I'm also addicted to browsing Etsy.com for soaps, but haven't ordered any yet.  Until today I'd always held off because 'You're making your own.  Why order someone else's?'  I don't know....I'm thinking it might be easier and more fun to just order and try new soaps instead of the frustration of making it.


I also spent alot of time today just browsing the varieties of soaps other people make, started compiling a list of them and what they put in them.  There are mixes like Lemongrass Mint or Lavender & Clove that I would never think of on my own.  I was looking at the spices selection at Walmart today and found several things available that I've seen listed in soaps.  It's expensive but this is the path I want to travel if I keep making soap.

And ya know, that's another part of the frustration for me.  It's going to be hard to convince the people I know to give handmade soap a chance.  When they see the price they'll snort and roll their eyes and think soapmakers are crazy when they can just run to the store and buy something alot handier for way cheaper.  People think of homemade soap as boring, harsh, ugly Grandma's lye soap.  Most of the people I know do not have the patience to listen or the interest to learn that handcrafted soaps are better for them.  They'll see the price and scoff.

Then again, I am so far off from being ready to sell anything that I don't know why I worry about it.  I have *SO* much to learn yet, and not just about making the soap.  I don't have a clue about business or websites or any of that.  Some people make it seem so easy, and others make it seem so frightening with talk of insurance and license and taxes and labelling and and and.....  But I can't just cancel out the idea because I don't know about something.  I've done that way too much in my life.  This is something that is do-able.  I just need to make up my mind to do it.

I was reading a bit about infusing today.  You know, flower petals or spices or whatever, soaking in olive oil.  Tons I don't understand about that but apparently it's common in soap making so I guess I should start learning that too.

Funny too, thinking about my variety of fragrance oils.  I was sooooo excited to order and finally receive them.  Now I don't think I even want to use them.  To be fair, I can't remember offhand just what I have anymore, but if all they are going to do is scent the soap without turning it any color I will have a large amount of plain tan goat milk soap with different scents.  Bo-ring.  Maybe I can trade with someone on the forum... free fragrance oils in return for some bars of soap.  hehe

The three soaps I made yesterday seem to have turned out ok.  At first I was quite impressed because they all looked very nice when I unmolded them....

Once I cut them though I saw quite a color difference.  They don't look horrible, but they don't look nearly as light and creamy inside.  This is from going thru the gel stage.  Some people prevent gel.  I haven't been too worried about it so far.  Maybe down the road I'll try preventing it.  But for now....

Cinnamon & Balsam Goat Milk Soap
(Quite red but has a yellow-orange tint inside.  Smells more medicinal in the goat milk than in the water batch I made previously.)

Warm Vanilla Sugar Goat Milk Soap

Oatmeal, (goat)Milk & Honey Soap
(I thought it would be so much darker from all I've heard about using honey.  Maybe it will darken over time? The scent is not very strong either, but it's all natural.)

Not bad, eh?  Let's hope they stay looking even half this good.  Yep, I'm considering more and more just throwing out all my earlier stuff.

Alrighty, well, I already don't want to work the next two days because I want to continue on my learning mission.  Work can't be avoided though so I guess I'll just head to bed now and get it over with.  *sigh*

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nov. 1 - PS

Totally forgot to mention that I think I have my name and logo now for the soap!  I'm not ready to reveal it here quite yet though.  Well, partly because I can't figure out how to get it where I want it from within the program I designed it with.  LOL!  I don't want to just print labels and stick them onto 'cigar bands' around the soap.  I'd rather have the 'cigar bands' printed with all the information right on them.

Still working on that project.....

Nov. 1

I missed a Halloween post.  I had fully intended on posting but kept putting it off then had a tired brain and decided to just skip it.  So I'll just do a quickie recap.

We live out in the country so we don't get any trick-or-treaters here.  My boys are too old for it and don't care about it anyway.  But hubby and I still like to decorate and carve pumpkins.  We usually try to watch scary movies but this year we kinda skimped on that.  Hubby had bought two stepping stone kits at Walmart and had poured them several day ago, so we painted them yesterday.  Never did get to set them outside though.

We also carved our pumpkins.  Last year was the first time we used those little carving kits you see in the stores.  I'd always thought they looked cheap and flimsy but wow, those things make carving awesomely easy.  You can get so detailed and curvy.  Cool beans, babies!
Hubby's cat....

Hubby's haunted scene...

My witch and cauldron...

My witch...

So, while not an overly exciting day it was still a festive enough Halloween for us old fogies.  I wish the boys were more into it but what are ya gonna do?

And now it's November.  Un-freakin-real.  This year has FLOWN by, but I think I've mentioned that several times.  I mean, heck, I've been working this 12-hour shift for one year now.  Crazy.

Spent the morning packing up my Halloween decorations and getting my few Thanksgiving decorations out.  At first I decided I wasn't even going to put everything out, but now that it's a mellow time of evening I'm thinking I will finish.  I have alot of window clingies that I find a pain to put up but it just doesn't look complete right now without them.  One of the things I love about Thanksgiving is the simplicity.  I'm seriously considering only minimal Halloween decorations next year.  I'm already thinking about cutting back on my Christmas decorating this year too....but I don't know if I'll stick to that.  lol

Hubby finally built a temporary shelf for our TV.  We bought our big screen last year for Christmas and had set it up on an old, low coffee table in front of our entertainment center.  The plan had been to build a shelf that would allow us to still use that ent.center until we could either buy a different one that fits this TV or design and build a customized, permenant wall unit.  And here we are in November....almost one year....with the TV still sitting on the low table.  Doh!

So anyway, he built the temp shelf and we moved the TV and I hated it.  Hated it!  It seems too high, too wobbly...just....ugh!  Then again, I hate change so it's not surprising I didn't like it.  Hubby said to give it some time, we'll get used to it.  I don't know.  Bleah.  Just gives me more incentive to get a permenant solution figured out.

He also modified two of my wooden soap molds we'd built a couple weeks ago.  I've decided I'm just going to play around with one pound batches until I know how this is all going to go.  He built some little inserts that convert my two pound molds into one pounders.  Woot!  So today I made more soap.  Three more actually.  I made an all natural Oatmeal, Milk & Honey...using goat milk, real honey, real ground up oatmeal....and another batch of the holiday Cinnamon & Balsam scent, this time with goat milk.....and a Warm Vanilla Sugar scented goat milk batch.  The vanilla one is described as: Warm Vanilla Sugar - A Bath and Body Works type fragrance.  An inviting blend of vanilla, coconut, sandalwood, fragrant basmati rice with hints of heliotrope flowers and light musk.  A cozy fragrance.  I really hope that one turns out. It smelled sooooo nice while mixing it.

I would have kept making soap today if I'd had more molds. I have plenty of ingredients for once. LOL I'm almost considering tossing all my earlier batches. Ridiculously wasteful, I know...but they just seem so ugly and primitive. I'm afraid to give these to people like I'd originally planned. They're all cut down to smaller sample sizes so there will be plenty to go around but they're just....I don't know....ugly. This curing period is driving me to madness!!! I just need to know how they will be in the end, how they'll perform, how they'll be received. I just keep worrying about that. And it didn't help that after carving pumpkins yesterday I used one of my soap scrap bits to wash my hands and came away from it feeling extremely dry. GAH!! I want to grab one of the bars and go take a nice long shower to really test it!

As a result, I spent a bunch of time at a website that helps you tweak your soap recipes. I have so much to learn, but I did come up with a slightly altered version of what I've been using and two of the batches I made today used that recipe instead. I know if I change WHAT oils I put in it will help but I want to stick with oils that are readily available to me. That limits me a bit. Maybe I'll eventually end up ordering the finer oils online. I don't want to go there though until I see how these soaps I've made actually perform.  Like I said, it's all so frustrating right now.  Oh and I posted on the forum seeking advice and of course no one answered.  I really don't think my question was any more noobish or redundant than others currently posted but yeah, shunned by the old pros once again.  *sigh*  So I guess I figure it out on my own once again.

No soap pics today.  They all look pretty much the same once they're poured into the molds.  I'll definately get some pics tomorrow or whenever I cut them.  I need to play around with my lightbox again anyway.  Hehe!!