Bergamot, Black Tea & Lavender Soap

I went back and forth on how I was going to design this soap. My original request was for lemon. The problem here is that lemon essential oil wont hold its scent in soap. I went looking for a fragrance oil and after reading reviews of its performance I decided I would likely loose my lemon scent with fragrance oil or it would be so mild the lavender would simply overpower it. I know that I could use lemongrass, but it just isn’t as perfect of a match with lavender as an actual citrus scent, after reading many reviews on fragrance performance the closest match turns out to be a bergamot black tea fragrance. Bitter orange is not far off from lemon so it should work to fill the request and will blend with lavender perfectly. After that there were questions like would the yellow and purple be too silly looking? If I left it at white and yellow and ground up lavender flowers… should I mix the scent or split it between the colors. In the end I went with both colors even if it’s silly and to split the scents between the colors. So the extra made an additional two lavender bars on the side.

Soap Contents: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Distilled Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Castor Oil, Rice Bran Oil

Colorants: Queens Purple Mica, Yellow Mica, Racing Stripe Orange Mica, Gold Shimmer Mica, Activated Charcoal

Fragrance: Lavender Fragrance Oil, Bergamot Black Tea Fragrance Oil

Method: Tilted Base, Pencil line, Hangar

 

 

Herbs Provence Chicken One Pan Meal

I make this at least once a month, it’s easy to throw together in 20 minutes after work and then do some relaxing while it’s in the oven. I haven’t run out of things to do with Lavender yet…

You can generally find Herbs de Provence in the spice section of a large grocery store. What’s in Herbs de Provence? Generally Savory, Fennel, Thyme, Rosemary, Marjoram, Basil, Oregano and Lavender flowers… give or take a few of those, depending on the recipe. If you are more adventurous there are many variations of an Herbs de Provence recipe online to explore.

 

Ingredients

2 pieces Bacon

4-5 Chicken Thighs

1/2 cup Flour

2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence

1 Shallot, diced

1 cup Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced

6-8 Marble, Fingerling or any small variety Potatoes, cut in half

1 tablespoon fresh Parsley, chopped

1/2 cup Sherry

1 cup Water, hot

 

Instruction

preheat oved to 350F

In a small bowl add 1/2 cup flour, herbs de provence and mix.

In a medium sized frying pan cook two pieces of bacon until crispy, remove bacon and set aside.

Dredge chicken thighs in the flour and place in the pan with the bacon grease, cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until nicely braised.Remove chicken from pan and set aside with bacon.

Add Shallot, potatoes and mushrooms to the pan and cook until the onion starts to brown and the mushrooms shrink and release their liquid.

Add sherry to the pan and deglaze, once deglazed add water and simmer 1-2 minutes.

While that is happening crumble the bacon into tiny pieces and add it back into the pan. Sometimes I add the parsley at this stage and sometimes I add it after I take it out of the oven later. Add braised chicken thighs back into pan.

Cover and place in the oven, cook for 40 minutes.

Serve with bacon herb sauce in the pan spooned over the top.

Cocoa Butter & Sweet Almond Oil Lip Balm Recipe

For this recipe I made four plain ones and then for the rest I added Rosemary and Lavender to match some other stuff I’ve made recently.

IMG_20170702_172814580

Ingredients

.75 oz coconut oil

.5 oz candelilla wax

.25 oz cocoa butter

.25 oz sweet almond oil

.10 avocado oil

5 drops vitamin E

 

Instruction

In a double boiler heat all ingredients except for the vitamin E. Once completely melted remove from heat, add vitamin E and mix, pour immediately because it will harden as it cools in the same manner as wax. You can place the mix back on the double boiler if necessary but try not to do this beyond topping off tubes.

I use an extremely small pan and a pyrex measuring cup, the pour spout is quite essential in doing this quick and accurately. If you are pouring into tubes fill them about 90-95% full  on the first pour, let them cool slightly until nearly opaque, then pour the last 5%. If you so not do this you will have a mark in the middle from the stem in the middle causing the balm to cool at a different rate. If you over pour then just use a paper towel to carefully wipe away the extra after it’s completely cooled.

If you would like to add a flavor or essential oil be sure that is lip safe, food grade, does not contain any water and known to be used in lip balms regularly with lots of examples and some research. You can use some essential oils and others are not safe, some are safe if used carefully, things like peppermint and citrus have to be used with extreme care due to irritation. I used only 4 drops of each essential oil. for this entire recipe minus four tubes. Honey doesn’t really mix with oil and will clump into a ball.

If you want to add colorant, again you must find food grade lip safe colorants without other unnecessary ingedients. I have seen people use cool-aid and crayon, I don’t recommend using things like. You can however use a portion of a lip stick, melt that in when you start off. There is a wide range of lip safe colorants and flavors online to order.

You can substitute candelilla wax with bees wax… but I encourage trying out some plant based waxes if you have the means to.

Rosemary & Lavender Soap

Coconut oil, palm oil, olive oil, distilled water, sodium hydroxide, castor oil, rice bran oil, cocoa butter, rosemary essential oil, lavender essential oil, activated charcoal, mica, titanium dioxide, tin dioxide, iron oxide, chromium oxide hydrate, boron oxide

I used a divider, dropped color in and then did a hangar swirl with 5 colors.

This is another split batch since I am using my half loaf mold, my secondary soap used up a sampler of Brambleberry’s Juicy Couture scent, no special design effort there.

For more Rosemary & Lavender ideas I have posts about Rosemary & Lavender Lip Balm and Rosemary & Lavender Hair Conditioner

 

 

Now to see how the colors change with curing.

Fall Crafting Begins

20160921_211005.jpg

I have a few friends who really like Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs scents so I ordered some small samplers to experiment with. I’ve also got a sampler of Silk Amino Acids so I will be trying out some new lotions. I decided on the following combinations.

Test #1

Base lotion: Distilled Water, Sweet Almond Oil, Emusifying Wax, Argan Oil, Cocoa Butter, Vegetable Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Coconut Oil, Vitamin E and Oat Extract, Preservative

Scents: Antikythera Mechanism & Belladonna

Test #2

Base Lotion: Distilled Water, Emulsifying wax, Jojoba Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Silk Amino Acids, Preservative

Scents & Extracts:

Jack fragrance with Oat Extract

Twilight fragrance with Evening Primrose Extract

Miskatonic University with Sea Buckthorn Extract

 

Balms & Cooking

I gave flavored Lip Balm a go, let the reviews help me decide and I ended up with Passionfruit Rose. I am always too timid to add colorant to lip balm, I should have made it a more bold pink. These are for my holiday giveaways.

 

20160909_164437.jpg

 

Next up on my list was a repeat of my lavender balm.

 

I also made a big pot of Carrot Ginger Soup to bring to work and share with my coworkers… but then I ate it all… oops. Must plan to make double next time?

20160918_215601.jpg

Moisturizing Shaving Cream

 

20160912_122749.jpg

To keep skin moisturized for the winter I have adapted my usual recipe slightly.

Tools:

Large Mixing bowl

Whisk

spoons/butter knives

spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol

digital kitchen scale

measuring cup

double boiler (makeshift with a pan of water on the stove works just fine)

microwave

pippettes

paper towels

latex gloves

containers for your final product

 

Ingredients:

2 oz Stearic Acid

1 oz Avocado Oil

.5 oz Shea Butter

.5 oz Emulsifying Wax

8 oz Distilled Water, heated

1 oz Melt & Pour Shaving Soap, grated

10 ml Aloe Vera Extract (It can be used up to roughly 15% of the total weight if you want more.)

Fragrance, optional. I only used 6 drops for this entire batch, you don’t want to over scent something that will be used on someones face. (mine is Lavender and Cedar scented this time.)

Preservative of your choice, not optional

Instructions:

Use the Isopropyl Alcohol to disinfect all of your equipment. It is important to take note that even though a measuring cup is part of the tools it will not be used for measuring anything, all measurements will be done by weight. A measuring cup is just easier to hold and pour with.

In a double boiler melt the Stearic Acid, Avocado Oil, Shea Butter and Emulsifying Wax.

Meanwhile, In a large mixing bowl add 8 oz of distilled water and microwave until steaming hot.

When the oils in the double boiler have completely melted whisk it slowly into the hot water, followed by the grated soap. Mix until creamy and smooth.

Using pippets add the Fragrance, Aloe Vera Extract and Preservative.

Spoon into container, leave without lid for a few hours to prevent condensation on the inside of the lid as it cools.

 

Handmade Paper

20160510_123225 (1)

I’ve wanted to try this for a while.

I’ve started collecting grocery store circulars and paper shopping bags. Something better to do than just throw them away.  The basics are that you cut it all up into small pieces and toss it into a blender with water and blend it until it is a pulp, then add it to a tub of shallow water and strain it using window screen, then transfer the strained part between two pieces of felt and press the water out. I used a picture frame, remove the back and glass and stretched across where the glass would be. it’s exactly the size of a standard piece of paper.

After I got a good idea of my technique, I had to improvise so I cut up some sheets of freezer paper and used those to dry the paper on since they can be reused.

I added some emerald gouache and some lavender flowers to see the result but I need a better technique for adding color next time. I can faintly see the difference between the regular paper and the ever so slightly tinged green paper. I love that the paper smells like lavender.

 

I am going to go pick some baby maple leaves and wildflowers this afternoon and press them dry for my next batch of paper.

For now I am thinking of ways to use this for my soaps. I’ll need to play around with it more for the right look.

20160510_121337.jpg

Cold Process Soap with Natural Colorants

20160225_220311.jpg

I made this recipe with an even 9.75 oz amount of olive, palm and coconut oils. Then 2.5 oz rice bran oil, 1.25 oz cocoa butter and 2 oz castor oil. For colorant I used alkanet root infused sunflower oil and spirulina which I did not measure. For texture I added finely hand ground lavender flowers. I wasn’t really planning on adding colorant at all when I started this project so I had a thicker trace than I wanted and the design was not thought out well. Applying plastic over the top before I insulated them and a bit of soda ash make them not very good looking at this point. I certainly have some cleanup to do on these and in hind site I should have changed up the design on each row for variety.

20160226_174122.jpg

After 48 hours the alkanet is turning a light bluish purple color, the spirulina provides a slight green tinge and the ground lavender flowers are discoloring and becoming visible dark flecks.

 

20160227_133517_richtonehdr.jpg

I’ll let them cure for a while before I try any clean up on them. And if they are destined to not look that great in the end they will still have an amazing Rosemary and Lavender scent.

20160227_092855.jpg

Recent Soap Creations

(I’m out of batteries for my camera so I took these with my phone sorry for the potato quality.)

Vanilla Cinnamon with suspended Pink Himilayan Salt. I used vanilla stable soap for this one and dusted cinnamon in the mold and then poured the first layer carefully on top of it.

11954807_867600033329510_3722373728889208426_n

 

Lemon and Lavender. This smells wonderful, I am now out of Lavender E.O.(again).  I learned a little bit of shimmer goes a LONG way. I used Turmeric for the yellow, the gold shimmer made it very vibrant.

11140329_867791643310349_3546143568819333956_n

 

This one was more of a visual experiment with colorants and I will be giving these away to the ladies I have tea with, I scented them with winter gardenia. My favorite combination was putting gold flecks in charcoal, I will have to make something interesting with that combination later.

11232176_866063613483152_4617276042472291036_n

11900045_866063603483153_6479590207402469644_n