Monday, December 12, 2011

A Jolt of Java

I still remember the firs time I used coffee in my soap.

As naive (and ignorant) as a newbie can be, I was completely unprepared for the stink that was about to assault my nose as I poured my lye into my freshly brewed coffee.  The fragrant coffee aroma quickly turned into what I'd like to describe as the smell of deep-fried shrimps.   Not that I know what deep-fried shrimps (with shells!) smell like, but interestingly enough, some of my fellow soap friends all come up with the same description.  Deep fried shrimps.  With shells.

I stop adding coffee into my soaps after that horrible first attempt, but I never stop dreaming of soaps with natural coffee aroma (without using any fragrance oil).   With this recent attempt, I think I've got it!

I call these my Triple Shots - the oils are infused with fresh coffee grinds for 4 months, the water is replaced with super concentrated frozen coffee, and before the soap is pored into the mold, more coffee grinds!

The end result is this chocolate-like soap with a mild coffee scent - not the popular coffee fragrance, but the subtle smell of coffee grinds.   I love it!  Now I only hope that the scent stays and that I don't get brown suds with all these fine coffee grinds in the soap. ;)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Been Having Fun with Cans

I've been having so much fun using food cans as my soap molds lately.    Haven't felt this way for a very long time, my soap addiction is back!

(I'm actually running low on lye now because of my recent craves for soap making.  Hubby calls me an addict when I keep saying "I'm running low.... I'm running low.....").

I haven't found my favourite way to play with colours yet, but the process of discovery is full of surprises.

Now if only I have enough lye for my next batch....  (pacing... pacing... )

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Ugly Truth

Well, this is the Ugly Soap.

I finally convinced myself that Ugly had been sitting on the counter for way too long and it was about time to do something about it.

The top of Ugly is a flaky combination of dry soap and dry oil.  Yuk!  I removed the flakes and rinsed off the oil before cutting it.

As you can see clearly on this picture that I attempted to create layers.  I made two separate batches of the same recipe and same oil weight, but for some reason the lower layer came to trace in a matter of minutes while the top layer somehow went through oil/water separation before it came to trace.

After the top layer eventually thickened, I gave up on the original plan of funnel swirl and went for a regular swirl with TD.  I left Ugly in my oven (at the lowest temperature setting) for about two hours and somehow my semi-solid top layer turned into liquid entirely and all the TD sank and settled at the bottom.

There was also a thick layer of oil floating on the top when I took Ugly out of the oven.  My fear was that the soap might end up being lye-heavy.  After unmolding and cutting it today, I'm sure that Ugly is definitely NOT lye-heavy.  It is extremely soft and not crumbly at all.  If you look carefully, you might be able to spot my glove prints on the soap.

Since there's no safety concerns anymore, I'll just leave them on the curing rack for a very long time before giving them out or using them as laundry soap.

So there you have it, my Ugly (but usable!) Soap.   :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

That itch you get every once a while

Cocoa Swirl

The itch.  The itch that you have to make some soaps or you'd go crazy because this idea in your head just refuses to go away.  The itch that you know this next batch you're making is going to be your next masterpiece.  It'll come out perfect.

Well, I felt that itch yesterday, and it was the first time in months since I felt the urge to make soap.  Maybe it's a sign of me coming out of my soaping slump!

Cocoa Swirl
I took out all my tools, measured my oils, and lined my mold.  It was so therapeutic, so serene, and so enjoyable.  With beautiful sun outside the window, and some light jazz in the background, it couldn't be more perfect than this - except, it'd be nice if the soap turned out ok.

To be honest, I had no idea what happened.  I'm still scratching my head a day later, wondering what could be the culprit to my disaster.

So, everything went well.  The soap thickened and traced.  Poured it into the mold.  Put the mold in the oven (I always to CPOP my soap) at the lowest temperature.   To my horror, when I went to check on it two hours later, I saw the "soap" spilled all over the bottom of my oven, and the mixture in my mold was just some dirty-looking liquid!

I quickly took out the mold and let the whole thing cool overnight.  It has hardened up, but there's this layer of bright red oil floating on top.  I used red palm for the first time yesterday, and it's the only ingredient that I haven't worked with before.   I think it's red palm, I want to blame it on red palm!

Now I have this ugly soap sitting on my kitchen counter and I'm not sure if it's safe to use (since some of the red palm did not saponify).  It could be slightly lye heavy.  I don't want to rebatch it and use it for laundry because I've heard red palm stains your clothes.

I stare at the soap, and the soap stares back at me.  I really have no idea what happened and what to do with it....

ps.  The soaps in the photos are not my Horribly Ugly.  I actually made these last weekend with a few friends.  We talked, we laughed, and made soaps together.   :)


Friday, August 12, 2011

More soaps that kiss your skin


These are the same soaps as my Piano,  minus the keys.  

They came to trace so fast that I didn't get a chance to put in all the keys.  I was a little disappointed at first, but after unmolding and cutting them, I slowly came to appreciate the simplicity of the soap.

If you look carefully, you'll see two layers of soap, with the lighter layer at the bottom and a slightly darker layer on top.  The funny thing is, these two layers are made with the same recipe - same oil, same water discount, and same temperature.   They're made a week apart, but I'm not sure if it makes any difference.

The weather here in Toronto has been wicked all summer. It was cool and dry at first, making you wonder if summer would ever come at all.  Then all of a sudden, the temperature shot up practically overnight and put the entire city into the oven for a looooong roast.  I can deal with heat, but I can't handle heat with humidity.  My soaps have been sweating for weeks, and I'm so tired of wiping them every other day!

So, to those wise soapmakers out there, what do you do to deal with the summer humidity?


Wednesday, August 3, 2011


One of my dearest friends from high school is expecting her first baby.   What do you, a confessed soap-addict, do when you hear good news like that?

Whip up a ton of soap of course!

These piano soaps are my tribute to my girlfriend's love for music.  She is aspired to be a music therapist because she believes in the power of music.  I know her baby will be the luckiest kid on earth!

The final product isn't exactly what I had in mind.  The "black keys" are kind of crooked, and the "white keys" aren't exactly white.   The yellowish tint comes from chamomile-infused olive oil, and I kind of like it this way because the color serves almost like a telling sign to my not-so-secret ingredient.

The infused olive oil sped up the thickening time and I only had very little time to put in the black keys.  I end up with only five of these piano soaps, but since I love them so much, I'll be sure to make more (so I can keep some to myself too!).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you, my dear friend Anita, for giving me the award!  Now I can't stay quiet anymore, can I? (smile)

So, the rules of the award are --

1 – Make a post and link it back to the person who gave you the award 
       (and include their website address)
2 – Share 7 random things about yourself
3 – Award 7 recently discovered bloggers with this award, 
        and contact them to let them know they have won.

Here we go...  7 Random things about me -

1.    In addition to soap making, I also enjoy sewing and baking.

2.    I love going to the beach and just do nothing.  So relaxing......

3.    I'm a dog lover but don't like small toy dogs.
       Especially the hysterical, loud, and aggressive ones.

4.    I find Captain Picard sexy and yes, my husband knows that. Ha!

5.    I'm still learning to wear heels.
      The last time I wore them (yesterday), I got blisters on 5 toes!  Ouch!

6.    I love baseball and listen to the game on the radio every day.
       Go Jays Go!

7.    I don't like eating olives because they're usually too salty to my liking and...
       and they look like little rubber rings/balls. :P

Now, it's time to forward this award to other interesting soapmakers in the blogosphere.  Ready?

bbee's soapsite

Jabones Ramy

My Daily Soap

Natural Aroma Beauty


The Fat Bottom Farm

Summerbaby - Seifen

These talented bloggers make some of the most stunning and creative soaps.  Go check them out and you'll know what I mean!

Stay cool everyone!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Between Friends Handmade Soap

To see my latest soaps, please find me at Between Friend's photo album on Flickr.

(Last updated: 2011-07-20)

Funnel Swirl

Funnel Swirl

Cocoa SwirlCocoa SwirlCocoa SwirlSea Salt BarsSea Salt BarsSea Salt Bars
Cocoa SwirlCocoa SwirlCocoa SwirlDSC_9736DSC_9732DSC_9735
Charcoal Swirl with Hemp Seed OilCharcoal Swirl with Hemp Seed OilCharcoal Swirl with Hemp Seed OilCharcoal Swirl with Hemp Seed OilGoat's Milk SoapGoat's Milk Soap
Goat's Milk SoapSea Salt BarsMy very first sea salt barsDSC_9390DSC_9398DSC_9409

I know it's been quiet here.
It took me a long time to write a new post, but I didn't expect it to be even harder to reply to all your warm comments.   A big heart-felt thank you to all of you who sent me your warm regards.
I'll continue to make soaps, but only quietly and slowly.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lavender, what else?

Has it really been almost three months?

I've been so disconnected from my own blog that I don't know how to start writing again.   How about I start by saying, "how did I manage to blog on a regular basis before?"

The last three months have been both exciting and sad.

I travelled to visit my family and friends on the other side of the world, ate a lot of amazing food, and had tons of fun-filled conversations.   I made this soap for a dear friend who has been one of my most loyal customers from the very beginning.   She recently moved from Toronto to my hometown and would like me to make her soaps enough to last her a year.

On the sad note, my grandmother passed away during my visit.  She had been bedridden for years, and my family had known that this day would come eventually, but it was still extremely hard to let her go.   I was grateful that I was able to see her during her last days with us, I just couldn't imagine not being there.

Now that I'm back in T.O. again, life has slowly returned to normal.  However, I know I'll never be the same because grandma, who managed to give me one last lesson in life, taught me to live everyday to its fullest and to always show those I care about how much I love them.

So, to all my dear friends, I love you and thank you for being my friends.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Charcoal Swirl with Hemp Seed Oil

Soap making is always full of unexpected surprises, and this time, the surprise is more than pleasant!

I've tried a few "in-the-pot swirls" before, but have never been one hundred percent satisfied with the look.  This time I'm actually pretty happy with the way it turns out, but when I made it, it looked so bad that I was even considering putting these in the "failed" box.

The reason why I thought it would turn out to be disastrous was because the soap came to trace literally in less than 3 minutes.  I turned around to grab my charcoal powder and that's when the soap caught me off guard.  I decided to move quickly and mix in the colour anyway because that was what I had promised to make.   By the time I had the colour ready, the soap was thicker than yogurt.  I scooped the soap into the mold and feared for the worst.  

I let out a small scream of joy after making the first cut.  Sooooo, THIS is how you make in-the-pot swirl!  No wonder I haven't been successfull.  I have to wait a little longer before I swirl!  Isn't it funny how we learn our lessons from the most unexpected "mistakes"?