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She’s Not Hot

10 minutes into a movie we watched on TV last night, called ‘Hot Chick’, Sam asked; “Which one’s supposed to be hot?”

I pointed out the slender blonde with the beautiful face and he shook his head. I was confused, it was obviously her. One of those teen Hollywood movies about the nasty cheerleader who learns what it means to be a decent human being, there was little room for ambiguity.

“Well, she’s not very nice but..”

He nodded “and that’s why she’s not hot”

“Oh, okay”

We kept watching the movie.

Beer Soap and Hercules

We went to see Hercules today at the cinema. It was a really entertaining film, full of battles and heart and people doing heroic things, as you may expect. I’d see it again. Maybe not tomorrow but sometime in the future…

The truth is, that having been busy at work all week, all I really wanted to do this weekend was hug my  family and make soap. Or research soap, or look at soap making forums. Or read the history of soapmaking. Obsessed? Yes, a little but it’s incredibly relaxing.

I read about the conditioning effects of beer on hair and skin and immediately wanted to have a go at it. I mean, come on….beer soap! How could I not? People make all sorts of beer soap, ranging from the palest ales to the darkest stouts. Some people add beer fragrances or citrus oils, or honey. Since I’m not using anything lab made, apart from the lye necessary to the soapmaking process, there’d be no beer fragrances but after looking endlessly at recipes, I thought I knew what I wanted to put in it. The basic recipe is a combination of three recipes, tweaked for conditioning properties, hardness of bar, lather etc and put through a lye calculator to make sure it would work well. (and be safe!)

When that was done, I gathered my ingredients, pulled

on my trusty latex gloves, set out oils, my beer/lye solution and got to work.

Into my oils, I poured the beer/lye mixture, then added my warmed honey, activated charcoal, grated orange zest. Then in went my essential oils (Orange and patchouli). I was humming along happily, mixing, smelling the strong stout and the essential oils, when I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to melt the beeswax! I rushed around like a loon, slicing wax off my big block and melting it in the microwave, adding, mixing, trying to get it done before the soap set…..and then sighed with relief when I managed to get it into the mould before it thickened too much.

All this before the movie, such excitement! 🙂

Then I made a second loaf because, well, there was beer left…

Beer Soap. The orange zest makes it look like it has bubbles, which is an unexpected bonus.

Beer Soap. The orange zest makes it look like it has bubbles, which is an unexpected bonus.

Stamped with the only stamp I have so far. I might have to make one that says 'Beer Soap' :-)

Stamped with the only stamp I have so far. I might have to make one that says ‘Beer Soap’ 🙂








It’s been a big week. A good week, filled with satisfying work, family, research and making soaps. So this morning was my ‘sleep until you wake’ morning. A morning where I could laze to my heart’s content, coming to the surface of consciousness and then sinking again, without regret, into the sweetness of well-earned sleep. With Andy and Sam leaving early to go to a football game, the penultimate one of the season, that left me and Zac at home to sleep to our heart’s content. Because Zacky is like a dormouse in the morning; soft and snuffly and snuggly and disinclined to leave his duvet. Perfect.

Yet, when they said goodbye at seven o’clock this morning, I didn’t pull the covers back up and nestle back into my warm bed. I got up and went to unmould my beautiful soaps. It feels like Christmas morning, to see what wonders the hours have wrought on them. I have to look at them, smell them, run fingertips along edges, and admire them. If I like them enough, and I do, I take photos.

Last night, I made two 1kg loaves, one using Calendula infused grapeseed oil and essential oils of Cedarwood and Orange, and the other, a gentle Lavender, with a whisper of Marjoram. They smell beautiful, their scents are natural and grounding and lovely, yet delicate and gentle. I totally love them both.



Lavender and Calendula Loaves

Lavender and Calendula Loaves

Calendula with Cedarwood and Orange

Calendula with Cedarwood and Orange




Happy Saturday everyone 🙂










Eating Sleeping Breathing Soap

This is what happened when I learned to cook. I remember it. I was 19 years old and sharing a flat with my childhood friend. One day, on my day off, a chef I worked with came over and I cooked him baked beans on toast for lunch. On a day soon after that, he taught me how to make mushroom sauce for steak. I liked it but I decided that for my own taste, I wanted to tweak the recipe and so, the next time I cooked, that’s what I did. So began a lifetime of making food according to what I think tastes good, rather that following someone else’s recipes.

There were some disasters along the way but overall, the enthusiasm and feelings of creativity have meant that there have been more successes than failures. And I love it. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, colourful and calming. It’s also exciting and thrilling to take beautiful, fresh foods and assemble them into a cohesive, tastebud-tingling meal.

Speaking of food. At my dreaded weigh in last week, I had indeed put on rather than lost but it was less than I’d been afraid of. 1.5kg over a period of three weeks. There’s more to say about that but I’m not sure what it is yet, so I’ll come back to it.

The same sort of ‘awakening’ as happened with cooking has happened with soap making. It’s such a simply fulfilling, nurturing, creative thing to do. It speaks to nourishment of a different kind and at the end of it, there’s no danger of me eating the result 🙂

I’ve been experimenting with natural colours and scents, shapes, sizes, recipes. I’ve included local honey and beeswax in some. Avocado oil or Macadamia oil in others. I’ve learned how to use a lye calculator and which oils will create which properties in my soaps. I’m just at the beginning of learning but I have three new recipes so far and each batch of those has different additions. Sometimes tea leaves, or cocoa, or indigo or salts, sometimes infused oils or clays. I have new box of beautiful essential oils and lots of silicone molds. I write a journal, detailing each soap; the recipe, what I added, how it turned out…and when it’s cured, I’ll go back to each and document the way they feel on my skin and on the skins of my family and the few friends I’ve given some to.

The corner of my kitchen, furthest from the space where I make food, is filled with ingredients for soap. Jars of oils being infused with calendula, rosemary, turmeric, thyme and other things, sit on my window sill, warmed during the day, by the gentle sunlight refracting from the glass. pots of clay, paper bags filled with dried flowers. In my study there are drying racks filled with beautiful bars of mildly scented soap and the haul from the second hand shops I visited today. It all feels so grounding.

I’m barely using moisturiser any more, despite it being winter. My skin is loving these moisture-rich soaps.

I hadn’t realised that commercial soap makers take the glycerin from their soap and sell it to cosmetics manufacturers. Essentially, this means that we wash our skin with detergent and then add the moisturisers later. That’s crazy! There’s something so….earthy and authentic and just….good about using something that only contains ingredients that I recognise.

As when I was learning to cook, there have been a few mishaps. Like the most recent salt soap, coloured a soft green with a teaspoon of indigo powder and swirled with clay. It should have been gorgeous and it is…but I left it too long before I cut it and it crumbled into pieces when I tried. The next few days will be ultra busy at work but as soon as I have the chance, I’m going to try that recipe again and make it work this time. 🙂





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