Monday, October 10, 2011

Opening Day

Opening weekend at the Texas Renaissance Festival was a undeniable success. Our displays were so effective at getting the customers' attention that no fewer than 28 people attempted to buy them from us. Guess what we will be making more of this week?

Here are a few of our products including wool, yarn and drop spindles.

A shelf rescued from the side of the road houses sugar scrub, quail egg ornaments and gift baskets.

Beauty, one of our Nigerian Dwarf millers marched in the festival parade.

Louisa targeted the male patrons. They all bought soap despite their protests that our salesgirl was "cheating".

This is how we ALL felt by the end of the day!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When Your Soap Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade

This week we were soaping about 90 pounds of Frankincense and Myrrh soap. Unfortunately, some of that soaping was late at night after Louisa and Vivienne were asleep, and one batch turned out badly mangled and just plain ugly. There is no way we could throw out 10 pounds of soap, so we started frantically looking for a way to make lemonade.

We ground it up in the food processor, and added a little milk before starting to melt it down in the double boiler. In another bowl we started melting some scraps from a Fresh Ginger soap that overheated and developed holes in the middle of each bar. Man, that stuff is expensive.

Why do these things always go wrong when we are using the expensive oils?

When it started to get translucent, we added some Vanilla Essential Oil to the Frank and Myrrh to darken it and because everything is better with a little vanilla. When it was fully melted, we glopped it in the mold, added some melt-and-pour glycerin "crystals" and sprinkle with activated charcoal for good measure.
Next, we added some dried mint from Marygrace's garden to the ginger soap because everything is better with mint from Marygrace's garden.

When that was almost melted, we glopped it into the mold on top of the other layers.and added more "crystals" and some brown sugar because Louisa suggested it, and well, can you think of anything that isn't better with brown sugar?
When we cut into this hodge-podge concoction, we were relived to find a soap that is a far cry from the ugly lemons we started out with.

Friday, July 8, 2011

So how do you make soap anyway?

Many of our friends have asked us " So how do you make soap anyway?"
The first thing that we need to do, is decide on a recipe, and run it through a lye calculator such as Soap Calc.

This helps us make sure that we are using a safe amount of liquid, oils, and lye. Different oils react differently with lye, so we make sure to always recalculate each new recipe entering the exact oils that we plan to use.
We set out all of our equipment before hand, including gloves, safety glasses and an accurate scale.
Next we melt the solid oils in a stainless steel double boiler
and we measure the liquid oils into a plastic paint bucket.
Now we measure essential oils at 1 oz per pound of base oils. 7 oz of Frankincense and Myrrh for this 7 lb. batch.Then we pour the warmed oils into the bucket of liquid ones,
and stir until completely incorporated.
Next we VERY slowly add the precisely measured lye to the frozen goat's milk.
After the milk melts, but before it over heats and turns yellow, we slowly add the lye/milk solution to the oils
and incorporate thoroughly.
When the mixture reaches light trace ( slightly thickened, like thin pudding), we add the essential oils and mix well.
When the mixture thickens again, we quickly pour it into our soapmolds.

Unmold after 24 hours, and place in a cool, dry place for 4-6 weeks until fully cured.