Archive for the ‘In The Soap Shop’ Category

White Tea and Ginger Goat Milk Soap

White Tea and Ginger goat milk soap.

Pretty, don’t you think?

I like this one a lot.  It is tart, grassy, with an oriental tea type of aroma.

I have started the paring down of fragrance oils (the amount of bottles we counted when we moved was amazing).  I am enjoying the fun of working with pigments and new fragrances.  Who knows, these “limited time only” soaps may have to return to our store now and then.

Soon, the first round of new soaps will be ready for the soap store.  It should be enjoyable for our customers that come in and ask, “What’s new in the shop today?” I am excited!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Owning a small business isn’t all about rosy smelling flowers in the garden.  Operating a business definitely has expected up and down moments.

Last night I experienced what I’ll call long moments of “up” times as I wheeled the cart around the soap studio gathering lotions, soaps and supplies for customer shipments.

I thought about the gentleman that called a few days ago.  He is 80 years old and said that he is taking care of his terminally ill 78-year-old girlfriend.  The couple had attended a craft show 10 years ago.  She wanted Rosemary goat milk soap.  He refused to purchase the soap for her.  He said to me, “Wouldn’t that have been a small thing to have made her happy?” With a tear in my eye, I replied, “We’ll take care of this now.”  He said, “You know, that stuff stinks! But she wanted it and she should have had it when she wanted it.  It makes her happy.”  I agree.  Let’s put a smile of her face today.  God bless that man.

One of our customers loves a particular essential oil blend that we work into our products.  After purchasing our soap for nearly a year she told me, “The scent reminds me of the cologne that my deceased brother used to wear.”  Apparently her brother loved to mix and match his scents.  The first time she purchased the soap from us she said she was taken back, she was filled with memories.  She recently said that she wanted so badly to make Christmas gifts for her family (potpourri and other items) with our blend.  In her next order I included a 1 ounce bottle of the essential oil blend, with the promise that she send pictures of the Christmas gifts.  She asked, “Even if they look like they were made by a 1st grader?”  Yep, I will hold her to it!

See, life gets tough, business gets tough.  It all gets tough.  But there are moments, and I treasure them, that simply are not irreplaceable.  The customers that cannot decide which soaps to order, the customers that consistently send emails to me, “Throw in what you like.  I love it all.”  Those are the times I absolutely cherish, and realize that, my personal dream, what I have put into this business (hours and a lot of hard work), and what I get back (I cannot do this alone – it is you that makes it happen), is what REALLY COUNTS!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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The calendula (Calendula officinalis) flowers are drying nicely.

At this point I can make an olive oil infusion with the flowers, or I can grind the flowers to make a powder.

I am going to make a powder.  I doubt that I get much powder from this batch of flowers.  I believe it would take many, many more flowers to produce even a cup of calendula powder.

The calendula powder, or flowers infused in oil, will be an ingredient in goat milk soap.

A few tidbits about calendula:

  • considered a herb
  • flowers are used in teas, tinctures, infusions
  • used in cooking – cakes, frostings, bakery items
  • can help soothe irritated skin – aids in digestion
  • used in salves for minor cuts, abrasions, and chapped lips
  • not to be confused with the common marigold (Tagetes species)

A few years ago I used the calendula in a recipe for cleanser (here and here), and ended up using it all winter as a salve.  Working on a farm with water buckets, birthing kids, cold weather, occasionally causes small cracks in the skin of my fingers.  The salve worked great for the skin problem, and then I discovered how wonderful it was for lips as well.  And it smelled wonderful!

I will post photos of the calendula goat milk soap here.  It will likely be a small batch, definitely a limited edition!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness!

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Another winter (and summer) product that Annie and our customers love is goat milk lotion.  To keep the costs down (for us – therefore you), the pumps we currently have in stock have nearly doubled in price this year, we are testing items from new suppliers.

So far, the pump on the right is the winner.  The one on the left tends to stick.  Could be our lotion is too thick.  We like it not so runny!

I love being the lucky goat milk lotion tester, my skin loves it too.

By the way, I introduced our County Apple goat milk soap here, then decided to add the Country Apple scent to our lotion line for the holiday season.


Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feed the Goodness!

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Now that the monsoons we experienced this week have ended, I feel like I am stepping out of a dark cavern.  Did I lose site of where I wanted to be? I wanted to.  I had to have a few talks with myself  to keep my positive energy flowing, and to not reflect what I was feeling (much) onto anyone else.

Now that the rain has ended, we hope to continue moving into the new soap studio.  Soap production has been on hold, so have large orders of lotion.  With part of our supplies and equipment at one studio, and some at the other, it simply has not been produceable.  In itself, no production during the business of the season, can be alarming.  When we say, this January, that our store shelves are now nearly empty…we’ll mean it at the utmost!

I stumbled across a great quote to remember, for now, and for the future –

The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit. – Moliere

How true is that? There really is no hurry.  We do what we can do, we do it well (to the best of our ability), and we enjoy what we can (and cannot do) as much as possible during the journey.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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I entered the new soap studio this morning with the thought that I would have the construction materials, tools, and other items removed from the product “make” areas, and that every surface would be scoured down to spic-and-span clean.

It felt good to accomplish my goals today.

I spoke more in the video about the equipment (beginning with the Army green shipping shelves that were gifted), my talking grew rather lengthy.  Note to self:  no more 7 minute videos! You can tell, I have always enjoyed things that have a “history” or a story to tell.

I hope you stick around long enough, to the end of the video, to hear my real message.  I mean every word of it!

Tomorrow we can begin moving in products, supplies, inventory, and the remainder of the shelving, equipment and work tables.

I am looking forward to knowing that I have everything in one place once again!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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It has been a long haul.  An entire winter of work and (what seemed like) a very quick summer.

We began wiring the soap studio, the first time the property ever had electricity, in December.  We would arrive early in the day to face -5 degree temperatures, trying to feed a large electrical cable into conduit.  It simply would not bend. We would arrive again later in the evening, again -5 degrees, to find the cable would not flex at all.  We clearly remember the day the temperature climbed to 10 degrees.  The cable flexed.  My husband was standing outside on a 30′ ladder, with me inside the barn (on a ladder almost 30′ leaning against the open rafters).  10 degrees allowed us to fish the electric lines through conduit into the breaker box.  Celebration! We called the power company with no hesitation, POWER US UP!

That was the beginning of transforming the little red pole barn, that used to house a tractor on a gravel floor, to a framed in little red soap house with windows, a concrete floor, a lot of insulation, and beautiful interior white steel walls (and my wish to leave two original wood beams exposed).

We are nearing the finish of the new soap workshoop.  Soon to rearrange the stainless steel kitchen fixtures that I purchased from a Cincinnati school auction 6 months ago to a very workable soap studio!

Below is a section of the front area that we will keep on reserve, with plans to turn into a storefront, open 1-2 days a week.  Too many folks have called in for a visit to the farm/soap studio.  They need to be able to come on down to Annie’s Little Red Soap Shop!

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I really am grateful for inspirations.

I find they come in spurts…almost daily, and at times not for a week.

Recently inspiration has come to me through music, specifically bluegrass music, especially instrumentals.

I listen to each and every instrument, almost as if I divide the music up into sections, paying special attention to the clear and beautiful notes of the mandolin.

I feel happiness, renewal, peace and even a sense of Annie’s Goat Hill, where it belongs…what it is about.

I am a transplanted city girl, living on a farm, milking goats, making the fragrant soap that I always adored.  When I make soap I always think about who is going to use the soap.  I hope that they find happiness, even if just a moment, from a simple product as a bar of soap.  Pleasant thoughts flow as the young batch of soap in the pot begins to trace and as the beautiful music fills my heart.

Life is good.

More inspirations on the way next Friday.  And by then, hopefully, I will be able to add video to the blog!

A link to a beautiful lively blend of violin, mandolin, and banjo.  Bluegrass instrumental.  Almost sounds Irish to me.  Beautiful, clear, crisp.

I could sit on the porch and listen forever.

Have you had any inspirations today? This week?

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feel the Goodness

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One of my recent projects was a lilac tincture. 

A tincture is composed of plants, such as herbs or flowers, and a liquid.  The liquid is generally alcohol but can be glycerin or vinegar.

I began the project with a pick of fresh lilac booms.  I selected the blooms during a cool part of the day, to ensure the bud and flowers were at their best fragrance.

I then removed the flowers and buds from the stems, with careful consideration to not crush the flowers.  I noticed right away that the buds were most aromatic.  My thoughts were to not damage the flowers, to ensure they released their fragrant oils into the tincture, not on the scissors or my hands.  Now I believe I should have crushed some of the flowers, or chopped them into smaller bits, to help them release aromatic oils during the tincture process.

I then placed all of the flowers and buds in a clean quart glass jar.  I filled the jar to the rim with the plant material.

The final step was to cover the plant material with alcohol.  I used perfumer’s alcohol, which is what I had on hand.  As the flowers packed down from the liquid, I ensured the alcohol covered the plant material by at least one to two inches.  Then I tightly covered the jar. 

The watching then began…the jar will set for at least 2 weeks.  In this case, because my goal is fragrance, I will check the tincture again in several months, giving the jar a light shake now and then to distribute the plant material and natural oils. 

The color transformation was amazing.  After adding the alcohol the flowers instantly changed from lilac, lavender, and a rose color to nearly a periwinkle blue.  Beautiful.  As I write this, the color of the alcohol in the jar holds a slight green hue.  Interesting.

More on this project later.  Results to follow!

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I decided to skip the regular Product Monday post.  I see a lot of soaps on the curing rack that I could spotlight, such as:  Honey Oatmeal Almond, Cedarwood Rose, Lavender Patchouli, and Geranium Rose Ylang Ylang.  I find it fitting, instead, to talk about what has been happening in the soap studio itself.

As you know, we are working on moving a farm.  Relocating a working farm, with animals, two businesses, a home, and pets, isn’t a simple chore.  We started this adventure while we still were still wearing shorts and t-shirts.  Illnesses (not ours), delays (weather and people that didn’t want to work), slowed us down a bit.  All is good…our target move date is (no later than) 3/13/2011.

We had a tremendous holiday season.  Many nights my beloved husband and I stood in the soap studio, laughing out of sheer tiredness, giddy, packaging soaps and lotions. 

Soon afterwards I saw a lot of empty, and nearly-empty, soap boxes.  Along with that came blazing thoughts, what felt like very little time to remake a single batch.  The key words here are “what felt like.”  After forging forward, I found the solid footing once again.  Making soap.  Behind closed doors.  Peace.  Tranquility.  Yes, from soap-making.  I said this once before, I always think about who is going to use the soap, what they will like, if they will enjoy it as much as I make it.  All of which are satisfying thoughts.

Our soap inventory is beginning to recover.  Yes! We are also making headway with our 2011 list of soaps…which to keep, and a few to discontinue (Sweet Pea type, Plumeria, and a few others).  Much to our happiness, 99% of our soaps are again geared towards natural – containing essential oils and blends that reflect the green and healthy business that we are.

Milk – nourishment from the inside out, or the outside in!

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