Archive for March, 2012

I really need to cool it…

Mar 30 2012 Published by under daily soap stuff,new soaps,soap photos

I made some soap yesterday and was really peeved at my impatience. I soaped this batch far too warm – although the oils were room temperature and even starting to solidify again, the lye water was hot, hot, hot, and when the two were combined, the total temperature was way too high. I’d had visions of carefully blending a pretty pink top layer and taking quite a bit of time to sculpt the top nicely. But once l had added the fragrance, it just about seized on the spot and l was left frantically whisking what was fast turning out to be hot process soap.

Good for the arm muscles!

It turned out fine…perfectly usable…even sort of pretty…but just not what l had been aiming for and l am so cross with myself. The essential oils haven’t blended into the pink part very well, and l know l could do much better if l just slowed down and waited. I was hoping for a lovely ‘buttery’ look on top.

(meet Hippy Chick – scented with a ylang ylang essential oil blend!)

I’ve also been experimenting with soap photos & white backgrounds, and am starting to figure out how to make them work.

And of course I’m still loving that 50mm lens. Oh yes we are destined to see many, many out of focus backgrounds here for quite a long time!

Another new soap: ‘Bubble & Squeak‘ – named in honour of using all the leftover soap scraps to make it! It’s a bit smaller than my normal bars as l experimented with a different sized mould and calculated incorrectly on the amount of soap mix needed. But it looks and smells lovely nevertheless, it is scented with orange, lavender and may chang essential oil as well as Roman Chamomile. The crackled effect in the orange – again…someone was too impatient, soaped too hot, and left themselves too little time to blend the top layer properly – the crackles are from me adding a little more water to the batter to try and thin it down and not quite succeeding.

I’m taking myself back to soap school and starting from scratch. No more ‘winging it’ with too hot ingredients. Because it is so disappointing when things don’t turn out how you envisaged.


It’s probably the best batch of Meditate soap ever :-)


12 responses so far

making Little Lotion Bars :-)

Mar 23 2012 Published by under lotion bars,new soaps

melting the oils & butters…(shea, coconut, cocoa, olive, beeswax, soywax)

pouring into tart moulds…

waiting for them to set…

The finished lotion bars (after being melted down and repoured into different moulds, l like these much better!)

You can find Little Lotion Bars here :-)

2 responses so far

More soap photos…and a frog!

Mar 20 2012 Published by under soap photos

The photography course is going slowly, and although l am enjoying it and doing well, l am also very often getting quite frustrated. It feels like the more l learn about my camera and photography, the more critical l am getting and the worse the photos are coming out. l think that sometimes l am trying way too hard. Part of the assessment task for module two is to pick an object in your house, and imagine the photo that you’d like to achieve in your head before actually taking it. (as opposed to just getting a nice photo by the luck of the draw, which is what most often happens to me.) You have to plan out the photo in your head, and then try to achieve what you planned.

So l planned this image in my head of an angelic looking bar of handmade soap, rustic, glowing, bathed in gorgeous light, surrounded by aged wooden boxes, lavender flowers, ceramic dishes, artfully folded towels etc, etc. And of course it just wouldn’t happen that way. (All our towels are a bit threadbare LOL!)

I reckon l took about 300 photos, all of them combinations and contortions of the above, and all of them far too contrived and woeful and NOT what l was imagining.

(Although l sort of don’t mind this one, l’d like to try harder to get the front of the box and the soap in focus, as well as much better lighting)

Midway through the session when my blood pressure was starting to go through the roof, found a frog while digging in the garden, and l quickly snapped this, isn’t he/she beautiful!? (l love frogs!!!)

I think l’m much better off sticking to my plain, simple backgrounds instead of trying to recreate the pages of a magazine.

Because when l’m not trying too hard, the photos are much better LOL.


ps. in the end, l relaxed for a couple of days and then grabbed a bottle of perfume. I set it on the kitchen table with some glass milk bottles, and this was my submission for module two: (we learned about depth of field, ISO and aperture, and l also learned to use the manual focus on my camera, l can’t believe what a difference it has made already being able to choose what l focus on and keep it that way rather than the camera zooming around all over the place and focusing when it feels like it!)

The other really interesting thing l learned was that it’s much better to get a well composed photo in the camera as opposed to relying on photoshop to crop the heck out of it afterwards. I am very guilty of this, but in the photo above, there was only about 3mm cropped from the bottom of the photo and that’s it. No other photoshopping at all. I am just a tiny bit proud of myself!

2 responses so far


Mar 17 2012 Published by under new soaps,soap photos

I am so, so SO happy today, l’m having the best day ever. I’m not doing anything special, just pottering around in the kitchen making lotion bars, taking soap photos, planning a batch to use up my soap scraps, adding things to the website and just relaxing. But it struck me that l am doing all of the things l love. My love for soap is back with a vengeance. I’m so glad l picked the path l have for Simply Soap – the ‘keeping it simple and natural and small’ path. I may not earn $1,000,000 but money most definitely isn’t everything, and my heart is so happy and grateful today. Getting the photo above just made it even better LOL.

This one made me feel pretty good too :-)  The first time l tried to shoot photos of soap in the white bathroom, the results were not so good. But gosh l love these. I’m adding three new soaps to the store today, these are not really part of the ‘range’ that l had restricted myself to, but l made them back in 2011 before l decided to rein things in a little. They are just plain olive oil soap with no other oils, and there are quite a few people out there who really like them. John isn’t one of them – he complained about ‘that slimy purple soap’ in the shower when he used the test bar LOL. They’re not for everyone, but the 100% olive oil is so good for dry and irritated skin, and they are aimed at those people. There is plain, citrus and lavender, the latter two with essential oil.

I went for a run this morning and while faffing about at the back door trying to talk myself out of it, took some photos of our new lemon tree.

And l’ve realised that l really love taking photos of the simple things in life. I love getting up close to nature and noticing all the little details that we so often miss in our day to day rushing about. Sometimes there are the most amazing things going on, right under our noses. And if we rush about too much, we miss all of those beautiful things.

To me, nice soap with ‘real’ ingredients is also one of those things. It’s very simple, and often very plain. But that cliche – ‘the simple things in life are often the best’ – l am really starting to believe that it is true.

Hope you’re having a lovely day!

5 responses so far

new Honey & Oatmeal soap

Mar 16 2012 Published by under new soaps

One of the things l knew l was going to miss when giving up Fragrance Oils was my Honey & Oatmeal soap. It was so nice, and it’s such an everyday soap staple that l knew l was going to have to try and come up with something naturally smelling of honey & oatmeal to try and replace it. This is the first of the ‘experiments’. I’ve used goats milk, organic Australian honey, and ground oatmeal. Thinking about it now, l wish l’d added some cinnamon to it, because it smells exactly like a big bowl of oatmeal on a wintery morning. It’s not a strong smell at all, in fact on first sniff it smells quite plain. But while using it, if you lean down and take a sniff of the lather, there is a lovely, warm toasty smell of oats and sugar and milk. It smells wholesome and natural. And the goats milk makes it feel really lovely on the skin.

The new Honey & Oatmeal will be ready for sale in early April.

3 responses so far

Name That Soap…

Mar 10 2012 Published by under name that soap,new soaps

(competition now closed)

This is the latest addition to the Simply Soap range – along the lines of May Chang and the old Citrus Twist, it is a really lovely citrussy/orange scented essential oil soap. Except it is really STRONG, it’s almost Super Citrus, and it deserves a special name, something a bit punchier than Citrus Twist. Maybe Citrus Twist Your Arm Off? ;-)

If you like a soap that will not just wake you up in the morning but actually smack you in the head, turn off your alarm for you and even make the bed, this is it (just kidding LOL!)

I quite like the name ‘Super Citrus’, but l’m not 100% sure. I’ll send a bar of Super Mega Orange Citrus Explosion soap to whoever thinks of the most fitting name for it. I’m open to humour. I’m open to any of the names being incorporated from this post. Just hit me with your favourites :-)

competition closes next Sunday 18th March 2012 at midnight AEST and is open to anyone!

edited to add: We have a winner!

There were some wonderful entries (thankyou so much to everyone who entered!)
l am sorely tempted to make 15 more different types of citrus soap just so l can use them all, but…this one really stuck with me :-) (thankyou so much Felice, l’ll email you!)

36 responses so far

Finally – some soap!

Mar 08 2012 Published by under new soaps,soap photos

I’ve finally felt like making some soap in reasonable quantities. This one is Hello Myrtle soap with a little less ‘Myrtle’ and a little more ‘Hello’ (those crushed lemon myrtle leaves l’ve found are a bit scratchy in the shower so l’ve tried grinding them up finer and also using a little less of them!)

…and a new soap based on the old Citrus Twist – except this one is going to be called Super Citrus or something along those lines. Actually…l might have a competition once l’ve cut the bars up, there hasn’t been a giveaway for a while!

These photos were taken with my New Camera <insert flashing lights here LOL!> I’m a little worried, they don’t appear to be any better than the other photos l used to take. I haven’t finished reading the camera manual yet, but l’m hoping l just didn’t make a rather expensive blunder!

4 responses so far


Mar 02 2012 Published by under soap photos

Remember a while back l talked about giving up Fragrance Oils in my soaps? I haven’t regretted it (that may be because l haven’t made much soap since then!) but, l have noticed a few comments here and there congratulating me on the more ‘natural’ approach l was going to take to soapmaking, and asking what l was going to use to colour my soap.

And l hadn’t even considered that with a move towards using more essential oils, it is often expected that there will also be a move away from the more ‘non-natural’ colours. Except there is just no way l could do it. I love my bottles of soap colour, so, so much. Some of them can still be classed as being natural – the micas, ultramarines, oxides etc – but it can be safely assumed that the neon lime green that l used to colour Avocado & Lime soap last night is totally NOT natural *g*

And really…for now, l’m okay with that. Soap for me at the moment is all about heading in a general direction that l am happy with, and if colour makes me happy, then that’s okay. Not every soap is coloured loudly, they are all different. Some have artificial glitter on top. I’m not going to tie myself in knots by becoming a purist, goodness knows I have enough other things to tie myself in knots over without adding to the pile!

9 responses so far

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