Soap Challenge Club: Teardop Swirl

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I loved this month’s Soap Challenge Club with Great Cakes Soapworks, the Teardrop Swirl. It was definitely a challenge, but I’m pleased with how the bar pictured turned out. The rest of the batch… not so much. It cracked badly and tore when I cut it. Luckily I got one good one to enter for this month’s challenge, plus I’m really happy with how the colors turned out. A palette I’ll definitely try again!

I used coconut oil, canola oil, palm oil, rice bran oil, and hemp seed oil. I’m not sure why it ended up cracking, but I suspect it was because I froze the batch before I took it out of the mold. The soap is scented with Sensuous Sandalwood fragrance oil from Brambleberry and I used activated charcoal, titanium dioxide, yellow oxide, brick red oxide, and purple mica for the colorants.

Next month’s challenge looks tough, but I think it will be fun to tackle. A special thanks to Amy at Great Cakes Soapworks for hosting these challenges and for all the encouragement shared by the participants.

Soap Swap Spring 2016

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The Spring Soap Swap with Brambleberry has been even more exciting than I had expected! I’m blown away by the awesome soap I received- it’s so cool to see what other soapers make.

Most exciting of all, my soap made it into Anne-Marie’s box at Brambleberry and was featured in this Periscope video! My heart was beating so fast listening to Anne-Marie talk about my soap- she’s such an inspiration for me and to hear her say that my soap is great (and that she loves the URL for this blog!) is a huge boost to my confidence.

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My soap for the Soap Swap

I bought all of the ingredients from Brambleberry for my entry except for the water and lye. I used Sunny Herb Garden fragrance oil. For colorants, I used: Hydrated Chrome Green Pigment, Fired Up Fuchsia Colorant, Titanium Dioxide, Ultramarine Blue Pigment, and Black Oxide Pigment. I split the batter evenly and colored them according to the suggested usage rates. I did a faux funnel pour design, like in this blog post on Soapqueen.

I made another soap for the Soap Swap which I don’t have a picture of unfortunately. It was colored with Indigo powder and cut with a crinkle cutter. It’s been one of my favorite soaps I’ve made yet- I’ll try to get a picture up soon!

I’ve only used about half of my Soap Swap soaps and have loved all of them so far. The swap has been such an amazing experience and I definitely want to do it again next time! 😀

Spring Has Sprung!

20160319_161614One of my favorite parts about living in the Bay Area is the seasons. We do have winter, but they are mercifully short and mild. No snow, no freezing temperatures. Spring has been here for about 6 weeks now. Flowers are blooming and trees are growing their new leaves.

20160319_183106Getting the garden going this year includes building a temporary garden box in the middle of my yard, which has been a project to say the least. I’m using straw bales as the sides of the box, and filling the middle with compost, straw, and potting soil.

The center of my backyard gets the best light. The back portion of the yard needs some landscaping, not a lot but enough that I would need to hire a professional. That’s not quite at the top of the budget yet, so it’s a project for fall.

There’s no way I was going to let overgrown lawn and weeds get the best spot in the yard this year. I came across straw bale gardening in my research on temporary planter boxes. Although the straw bales are not as water-wise as I would like, they are cheap and conveniently sold at my corner bio-diesel gas station/urban farming store (so Berkeley).

 

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Before the straw bales were placed

There’s still a lot of work to be done. But getting the cardboard and bales in place only took about 2 hours and as you can see from this ‘before’ picture, it made a big impact!

Soap Club Challenge: Winter Wonderland

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My very first Soap Club Challenge and the Winter Wonderland theme had me thinking back to living in Boston. The snow is so serene and quiet. The way it glitters in the sun in the morning after a storm is truly breathtaking.

For this soap I was inspired by snow storms at night. I wanted to capture the motion of snow in the wind and I pretty happy with the results! I used all natural ingredients (listed below), putting my entry in the running to win a Brambleberry gift certificate and a copy of Pure Soapmaking by Anne-Marie Fabiola.

soapchallenge2Indigo powder, sea clay, and bentonite clay create the swirl. I used the Impressionist Swirl technique with a layer of white on bottom and a layer of grey on top. Though I ended up with a lot of soda ash around the edges, I couldn’t be more pleased with the movement.

It was great remembering snow for this challenge while sitting on my back deck in California. This week it’s been warm, in the upper 70’s. The plum trees that line my street are in full bloom, bursting with pink petals. The daffodils are blooming and from the looks of my neighbors’ yard, tulips are coming soon too.

The other entries that have been posted so far look so great, can’t wait to see the results of the voting next week!

Ingredients for Winter Wonderland Soap: Distilled water, Canola oil, Coconut oil, Palm oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Olive oil, Sweet Almond oil, Castor oil, Eucalyptus essential oil, Indigo powder, Sea clay, Bentonite clay

Soap Swap 2016

Just signed up for Bramble Berry’s Spring Soap Swap 2016 and I’M SO EXCITED!!! 100 soapers will be sending in 10 soaps using a Bramble Berry fragrance oil and then receiving a package with 10 soaps from the other swappers. Such a cool idea, can’t wait to get to try out the other soaps!

I’m still waiting to hear back for which fragrance oil I can use- my top choices were Sunny Herb Garden and Kumquat fragrance oils. If fact, I just made a batch with the Sunny Herb Garden FO yesterday (might end up being my entry- pics to come!).

Seriously though, the thought that other soapers will get to see my work, and that I will get to see their work is exhilarating for me. There’s even a chance that my soap will end up in Anne-Marie’s box 🙂

 

Let’s Talk!

Hello Internet! I’m Allison and I’m excited to get started blogging. Something I’ve thought about for years (“oh I start it soon…”), but went back and forth about a topic.

There are many things I’m interested in- writing, cooking, gardening, sewing, crafting, feminism, reading, dogs- the list goes on. I’ve gotten 4 or 5 entries into a feminist blog before I let it slide, same for a sewing blog. Too much focus but also not enough.

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I know a few women who have awesome sewing blogs and watching how they construct their narrative has been very interesting to me. I majored in creative writing in college- focusing on personal essays- and following these blogs showed me the way I wrote in school doesn’t directly translate to blogging.

What I see in the blogs that I love is that the narrative is akin to talking to a friend, not constructing a collection of essays as I was doing in my feeble early attempts at blogging. The bloggers I follow are talking to their friends because a big part of why their work is appealing to their followers is because they engage in a conversation. Their posts are not static essays, but the beginning of a dialogue between them and their readers.

So, Internet, welcome to my blog. I can’t wait to start talking. What about you ask? Good question. As the title of my blog implies, I am not a country girl. Despite my suburban upbringing, I’m a city girl through and through. And yet… well, there’s the Big Dream.

View from our yurt in the Sierra Foothills.

A recent trip to the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains inspired an idea that I haven’t been about to shake.

The quiet. The air. The privacy. The space. 

I love living in the city, I truly do. The noise is calming for me and it is never dark. Quiet and darkness are childhood fears that I never quite grew out of but sitting outside looking at the stars while in the mountains, I didn’t feel the fears of my childhood. In the darkness, so many stars were visible that can’t be seen in the city.

The air is so fresh and clean and there wasn’t and neighbor in sight. Where I live now? Well, it’s the city so it’s close quarters. My neighbors now are thankfully as private as I am, but they can still hear every word I say when I’m in my backyard and visa versa. I’m a private person and the appeal of more space is growing within me.

What’s the Big Dream? To move to the country with my partner M, buy a big piece of land, build a yurt and a mini-farm. Definitely a Big Dream! But my love for gardening has grown into an obsession and the thought of having a big workshop to craft and make art makes me giddy.

I’m hoping with this blog to share with you the journey towards the Big Dream and start a conversation. I’m no expert in any of this and I’m definitely not a farmer!