Tag Archives: lotion bars

Kitchen Chemistry – Nov. 11, 2018

The day dawned very, very cold for this time of year.  According to our local weather blogger, the last time it was this cold this early was 1995 and a couple of weeks later they had a record snowfall.  I hope we aren’t headed for a repeat of that.

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More work has been put into the Asymmetrical Scarf of hand spun Merino and bamboo, the ball of yarn is getting thinner and the scarf is getting longer.  Hopefully it will be done by Saturday for the first craft show.

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I love the colors and realized that it blends with the project bag that is containing it.

The afternoon was spent with more kitchen chemistry.  The lotion bars that were molded yesterday weren’t firm enough and there was no more beeswax in the house.  A quick trip out to resupply it and get two essential oils.  Since the metal measure that was the top of the double boiler had another batch to be poured, beeswax was added to it and remelted, the soft bars that I froze overnight so they could be removed from the silicon molds were dumped on a labelled sheet so I wouldn’t mix the scents, the molds washed and refilled with a Man bar scent and some unscented ones and while they were setting up, one of the scents from yesterday was remelted and more wax added.  This process was repeated until all had been remade with a more solid mixture.

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While they were setting up, one of yesterday’s soap molds was sliced into bars to cure.  The other mold wasn’t quite ready yet.  A third batch was measured out and made, Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa soap.  I am anxious to see how this one unmolds as it was divided in half.  One half getting the red clay, the other half getting the dark cocoa, they were then poured in two layers and swirled.  This was a new technique for me.

Once the soap was wrapped in a towel to set up overnight, the lotion bars were tinned up, labelled, and sealed with shrink bands.

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The big crate has 8 sections and seven of them have different scents of lotion bars leaving a jumble of salves in the front and a need for a way to display them.  There was a smaller deeper box that looked promising if altered.  The top part was sawed off and the slats broken apart, the two long ones cut to the length of the two shorter ones and the parts painted with the Melted Chocolate color paint that has been used on the other crates and frames.

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It is about half the size and once all the parts are dry, the slats will be glued in to provide spacers for the smaller tins of salves.  A bit of table arranging will be necessary to make it all fit, but it will work.

The kitchen chemistry for the day ended with the magic of making pizza dough and a homemade pizza with the fresh mozzarella purchased at the Farmers Market yesterday.  A jar of the pizza sauce I canned, a Farmers Market red onion and Italian Sausage, some mushrooms, and pepperoni from the grocer and again we enjoyed great pizza.  The chickens will enjoy the crust bits and the whey from the cheese tomorrow.

Back to knitting while the paint dried.

Craft season – Nov. 10, 2018

Craft season is upon us.  Today we wandered about the big show that may be in my future next year to see who had what, prices, and may have bought gifts for upcoming birthdays and Christmas.  One of my products is soap and there were at least three vendors with soap.  One had felted soap for $12/bar, one had beautifully packaged bars that you couldn’t see or smell for $4.50 each.  Another had melt and pour bars in gaudy colors and scents for $6 each.  Knitwear was scarce.  If my friend and I share a booth, we would have enough inventory of items to make a go of it, I think.

This upcoming weekend is my first show of the season, followed by the first three Saturdays in December at the Holiday Markets held by the Blacksburg Farmers’ Market.  Those are always fun, often cold and windy, but among friends.  Thermos of hot coffee or tea or soup and Hot Hands packets to go in gloves are in order.  I hope my shop apron fits over my parka.

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With it’s big pockets, it is good for cash, a pen, and the Square reader on my phone.

Once the notification came in today that those were a go, more soap needed to be made.

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Two batches were made this afternoon, the Goatmilk, Oatmeal, Honey soap which is my favorite, but has about a 33% fail rate, and a Green Tea European Clay batch.  Those need to sit wrapped in a towel tonight and labels need to be made so I don’t forget what went into them.  Tomorrow I will make a Moroccan Red Clay and Cocoa batch, and a Lavender batch.  Once the soaps are curing more lotion bars need to be molded and labelled.  The weather will be cool enough that I won’t have the melt problem I had last spring.

In order to have my sales come out even dollar amounts after collecting state sales tax, I have played with numbers to figure out how much to charge.

I have another half pound of alpaca/merino to spin and a two scarves to finish knitting.  Guess I had better get busy.

Back to Crafting

The shop soap supply was getting low, so 4 batches of soap have been recently made.  Two of them are the same scent, as eldest son and family will get a full batch of one of those scents.

A decision was made recently to change the name of the shop to Cabin Crafted Soap and Yarn Shop and to be more creative on my balms and salves, identifying them by use, not by name.  The new logo requires a huge THANK YOU to my artist daughter-in-law who drew it for me.  I really didn’t want to keep using clip art of unknown origin.  Last fall just before the Holiday Markets, I tried new packaging for the soaps, using cello bags sealed with ingredient labels with the soap type on a front label and putting one of each scent in mesh bags so they can be smelled.  It bothered me to have all of the bars bare and handled by many people as they tried to decide on a scent.  This choice seemed more professional and still attractive.

New business cards are being designed using this new logo as well.

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There are still some of the old lotion bars, Citrus, unscented, and Cedar/Rosemary/ Thyme that will be offered on sale reduced to clear the stock.  Also there are some pure salves, comfrey, arnica, and calendula that will be reduced as well.  They are in the 2+ inch size tins and can be purchased on the shop site.  The shipping cost is per order, not per item and is priority shipping in the USA.  International shipping unfortunately is higher.

Lucky Day

All week, I have been monitoring the weather for today.  This week has been so very cold, and today was to dawn with a very high chance of freezing rain or mixed wintry precipitation mix and a high mid afternoon only in the upper 30’s or low 40’s.  Yesterday, the forecast improved, though there was still a chance of freezing rain overnight.  Today was the second Holiday Market at the Blacksburg Farmers Market and I was prepared to set up my booth, clothed for a very cold, wet day and worrying that the foot traffic would be sparce.

When I awoke this morning, it was overcast, but the temperature was already 42ºf up here on the mountain.  I had packed the tables, weights, canopy tent, and my chair last night.  This morning, I loaded the huge plastic box of soaps, lotions, and salves, the smaller plastic totes of yarn and knitwear, bags, wraps, and all of the other items needed to set up my stall.  When I arrived at the market, it was a bit cooler and raining lightly, but like other markets, everyone chipped in and helped set up tents and tables.  I have been fortunate at all 4 Holiday Markets to have Beth and Chuck of Dashing Dogs Pottery as my neighbor and they are so helpful with my tent that I lack the strength to erect alone.

We had periods of light rain offset by sunshine during the 5 hour market, the temperature warming into the 50’s and great foot traffic.  Many folks were out looking for their weekly purchases from the market and much shopping for holiday gifts. It was a very successful day for the vendors and we were all grateful for the much improved weather situation.

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It is interesting to see how the items sold vary from different markets.  Today was knitwear, some yarn, and lots of beard oil and moustache wax.  Handcrafted bar soap was also popular today.

This was my last show for the season.  I will wait and see what develops for spring and summer.

Daughter and grandkids dropped by after having breakfast and I was able to send them home with some pasta, sausage, and salad to help with this week’s meals.

Now it is time to finish preparation for Christmas at our household.  There are still some gifts to wrap and a few very small items to purchase, Christmas dinner to plan and a grocery run.

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Changes

After the most recent craft show, I determined that I had too many choices of my products which resulted in people either walking by the “clutter” or coming in, sniffing each soap and lotion bar choice and leaving without a purchase.  It wasn’t that this particular market was over saturated, as I was the only vendor of such products, especially natural, organic, no chemicals added soaps, lotion bars and salves.

As a result of this, I have decided to have a major clearance sale of all but 4 soap scents. There are many choices available right now in my shop for $3 per bar or 4 for $10 with a flat domestic $3 shipping rate on up to 4 bars.  The jumbo lotion bars are also going away and the remaining ones are discounted to $7 per tin.  There will be no more than 4 scents of the 1+ ounce size.  The salves will stay but the lip balm, sleep balm, Biker Bum balm, and Brigand’s Oil and salve will not be made again once they are gone.  If you have wanted to try some of my products, or wanted to replenish your supply, now is the time. If you private message me on the Cabin Crafted Facebook page, email me at 1cabincrafted1@gmail.com, or through the shop messenger, I will put together the package of your choice and will calculate the most economical shipping or arrange to meet you if you are local.

I did add the best selling Citrus Soother Lotion Bar into the shop today as well as two of the Beard Oils that I make.

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The display at shows will be much simplified as well.

If you read the blog post yesterday, the broody hen refused to return to the nest, even when I put another hen in with her.  I removed the eggs at dark and hoped that she would start over today, but neither hen in the brooder laid an egg today or sat on the nests.  I opened the door and the run gate and both hens rushed back into the flock.  Broody hen went promptly into the coop and sat on the nest she had been on onto the eggs that had been laid today.  I guess that I will just leave her there and if she hatches any chicks in 3 weeks, I will move her with her new family to the brooder coop to isolate them from the rooster and other hens until they are old enough to be introduced.

Gifts of Love

And appreciation. T’s family were the first recipients of my handmade products. I had been buying them handcrafted soap at the Farmers’ market after their move to Northern Virginia. When I started making soap myself, they received a batch. Then on a visit home, one of my Lotion bars was offered and that too became a product they used and the Beard oil for wild and wooly facial hair . Baby clothes, knit headbands, scarves and hats, a vest or two and a sweater to two left my needles for their home. They appreciate the handcrafted goods and I enjoy making them.

They have skills beyond my level in so many areas. Last Mother’s Day, knowing that I was reaching a point where I was going to have to start paying to keep my blog up, T developed my format on his server and presented me a link. I now know that my blog is secure and that I can post pictures without wondering if the next one was going to be the one that required me to pay for the service or seek sponsorship, not a route I desired.

W is an artist and my home displays many of her paintings, prints, and sculptures. A couple of decades ago, Mountaingdad presented me a beautiful hand thrown pottery platter.

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This huge 16.5″ diameter beauty has never had a display place in our home as there is no rack to hold it safely on the wall. It did live in the middle of the dining room table in one home, when we had a separate table in the kitchen used for most family meals, but our log home has but one table, used daily, so the platter sits on the pine and cedar shelves above the refrigerator nesting a large wooden bowl and often hidden by the bags of chips and tins of cookies blocking the view of the shelves and their display of little used pottery and the wok that is too big to go anywhere else in the kitchen.

W is in the process of carving a platter rack to mount on a log wall just above my jelly cupboard in the dining room. Tucson, as the platter was named by it’s creator, will finally have a home where it can be seen and admired more than the two or three times a year it is put into service. You see, wood working skills are another of her talents.

Because of my desire to have a couple of wooden soap molds of dimensions that will hold my favorite recipe for soap,  T put his carpentry skills to work and with a couple of red oak boards, he built me two lidded molds for Christmas.

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And to encourage me to keep making my products, the first installment of several large jars of organic Coconut oil for use in soap and lotion making and for cooking.

Each day we live in and admire their talents, as they were the builders and finishers of all of the finish carpentry, cabinets, and interior doors in our beautiful log home, and their craftsmanship makes this a wonderful place to live, as well as being decorated with much of their talent.

I love my home, my family and their talents and skills. Tomorrow I will use my new molds for the first time to start replenishing my soap supply after the holiday markets. I am indeed a fortunate woman.

I’m in, I’m in!

Late last evening, I received an email letting me know that I have been accepted for the Holiday Market in November and again in December.  This weekend, K will help me set up my display for a dry run.  I have been working a bit at a time to improve the curb appeal with the purchase of a few small crates and some small chalkboard signs.

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I felt that my hand printed paper signs and lack of labeling contributed to my low sales at the previous festival.  The little clip on blackboards, were easy to make with wooden clothespins, hot glue, a paint pen and the small blackboards.  It has allowed me to identify the scents available, and each bar has a paper band with the shop logo and soap scent.  I purchased two of the small square trays and glued dividers in them for the lotion bars and salves.  The little soap crates will each have one or two varieties of soap and each of the two beard oils have their own little box.  Testers will be out for the Beard Oil and Lotion Bars.

This left me with a challenge on how to display the handspun yarn.  I have tossed various ideas around for a few days while I waited for decision.  To facilitate carrying the small boxes, crates and trays, supply box, sign, bags and table covers, I use wood fruit box type crates.  T suggested how to reinforce the bottom of those boxes so that I don’t have the bottom fall out when fully loaded.  Those boxes are stapled together, so attractive, but not too sturdy.  My idea was to use these boxes to my advantage in my display and today, I bought 16 Shaker style pegs, dug through my scrap wood supply for a 1 x 4 cedar board and set to work making a yarn display.

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Out came the circular saw and the power drill, some wood glue and furniture clamps and the peg boards were fastened to the bottoms of two crates when stacked on two more crates it make a great display and the pegged crates can still be used to carry the yarn, table covers and other light weight, non breakable items.

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After we set up the tables within a 10 X 10 foot space to see how it will work, we will determine the most appealing appearance to display the soap, lotion bars, beard oils and yarn on the tables.  I am hopeful that the investment in the display items will attract buyers and the market will be a success for my fledgling hobby business.

The Great Soap Dilemma

A couple of years ago, I began making cold process soap and handmade solid lotion bars so that I knew what the contents of the products were.  The soap that I was making was being used in our household and by some of our children and their families.  The lotion bars have been used by me, given as gifts to knitter and spinner friends and family and all were well received.  This encouraged me to continue to make more and varied products and soon I was stockpiling much more than we could use.  A couple of months ago, I opened an Etsy Shop, hoping to make a hobby business out of my passion.  I signed up for a folk craft festival.  Both the shop and the festival have been or were largely unsuccessful, however, my friends who have been given soap, lotion bars, or beard oils or who have purchased them from me have encouraged me not to give up.

In this vein, one friend suggested that I apply for the Holiday Market at the Farmers’ Market that will occur on two Saturdays, one in November and one in December.  I contacted the market manager and received an application.  The application was completed and promptly returned with the necessary photos of products.  October 15 was the deadline to submit the applications and I am sitting on pins and needles awaiting notification of whether I was accepted for either or both of the days.   As soap can be made in a couple of hours, it requires 4 weeks to cure to sufficient hardness to make it marketable.  My supply is fairly good right now, especially of the ones scented with essential oils, but 3 of my 4 signature unscented soaps are in a fairly low supply. For the past week, I have debated with myself, whether I should make more soap, knowing that if I don’t get in the market and if my shop business doesn’t pick up, that I would be adding 27 more bars of soap to my supply shelf.

This morning, I decided that the soaps that were in short supply are also the ones that we are most likely to use here, so I hauled out the scale, pot, immersion blender, oils, lye and other accoutrements of a morning of soap making.

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I ended up making 3 batches of signature soaps.  My Coffee Scrub, Lavender Oatmeal, and Rosemary Oat soaps wrapped in insulating towels on a wide window sill until they can be unmolded and cut tomorrow or the next day.  These soaps are all natural soaps made with food grade oils, no preservatives, no artificial colorants and no scent oils.  They are all mild castile soaps.

Now my fingers and toes are crossed that I am admitted to at least one of the market days and that my soaps, lotion bars, beard oils, Comfrey salve, and handspun yarns sell. I would love to keep indulging in my love to make these products.

Folk Festival

Application was made and accepted.  An opportunity to be a vendor at the Meadow’s of Dan Folk Festival tomorrow.  My soap, lotion bar, and beard oil making for my Etsy Shop has generated crates full with llittle activity on the online shop, so I decided to try this sort of venue to see if it is worth my time and effort.  If not, perhaps, I will return to just making products for us and the extended family that likes and uses the products. In the mean time, I am also looking for a way to reduce the shipping costs for the Etsy Shop to make it more appealing.

The soap making has been ongoing for several months as I make all of my soap the old fashioned cold process method and that soap must cure for at least 4 weeks to be hard enough to not dissolve into mush when you get it wet. What good is soap if you can’t get it wet?  Lotion bars are a quicker product as is beard oil.

The car is partially loaded with the non perishable items such as the canopy, table, my chair and the crate with table covers, bags, business cards, banner, and bright colored pinwheels to attract attention.

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The three crates of trays containing the soap, beard oil and lotion bars, along with the bins of extras await loading until the afternoon cools.  They will be loaded this evening so that all I have to do at 6:30 tomorrow morning is hop in the car and drive the 90 minutes to check in and set up.

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The canopy is borrowed from a friend who got it from a mutual friend and it had never before been erected.  Daughter and I broke it out and set it up in the yard one day to make sure it was all there.

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It is all there, but had a small seam that was miss sewed that was repaired with a bit of duct tape as I didn’t want to try to get the canopy upstairs and sewed on my little home sewing machine.

The 8′ folding table is borrowed from daughter and SIL, a new folding chair purchased at Lowe’s end of season clearance sale; a couple of old Indian print cotton twin bed spreads that served as temporary doors in our house when we first moved in, will serve as table cover and hang from the back of the shelter as a backdrop for the banner and to give the stall some direction.

I don’t know if this will be a successful venture or not, but I’m game to give it a go.  If you are a local reader, this is a Folk Festival with vendors of food, yarn, jewelry, 31 products, my products and more; as well as inflatable fun, wine tasting, music, a play and a square dance.  Come on out and visit, the day is supposed to be gorgeous, a great day for a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Hope to see some of you there.

A Day In The Kitchen

In mid August, I will be a vendor at the Meadows of Dan Folk Festival. My Etsy shop is not selling products as I had hoped and I have a hefty supply of soap and some lotion bars, but will need more for the festival, so today was soap and lotion bar day.  I made 4 different soap recipes, my Coffee with Oatmeal Bar, Jasmine Green Tea Bar, Lavender with Lavender Buds Bar, and Rosemary with dried bits of my homegrown rosemary Bar. Once they were set to cure, I made 25 lotion bars in 4 scents and unscented.  I still have to make some Tree Hugger and Mountain Man Beard Oils, but I’m still looking for 1 ounce bottles that have an orifice diffuser instead of having to use a dropper.  Half ounce ones are available locally but I have to order the one ounce size and to get a good price, the order must be larger than want.

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I have about 150 bars of soap and 50 lotion bars to take with me.  If I don’t sell there, I am going to have enough soap and lotion bars to last a lifetime and provide gifts for everyone I know forever.