Sneak Peek – Pouring & Cutting Outer Banks Beer Soap

This week, I’m going to let video rule the post.  A couple of weeks ago, I made and poured a batch of Outer Banks Beer Soap.  I didn’t record the making of this soap, because no one wants to watch saturated fats melt (5 minutes of boredom) or my mixing the soap (30-60 seconds of noisy boredom).  Here I’m showing the pouring of this soap followed by the slicing of it.

So, what do you think of this little sneak peek?  I don’t do them often, but every now and then, it’s fun showing off how we make the magic that we do.

Au Naturel is the BEST Soap for Troubled Skin

Do you have troubled skin?  Problem skin?  Skin that acts like a hormonally moody teenager – acting right one moment, irritating you the next?  Then have I got a soap for you!  At event after event, through Facebook messages and emails, customers often ask me,

I have psoriasis and eczema.  Do you have any soap that will cure that?

My answer is always, “No.  None of my soaps will cure skin diseases.”

However, I have a lot of customers who have tried Au Naturel (formerly known as Soap of Milk & Honey – and Oatmeal) and have come back with nothing but praise for it with reports that it has helped their skin tremendously.

Au Naturel Soap
Au Naturel Soap

So, what is it that makes people desire this soap?  It’s true that it won’t cure anything.  The goat’s milk is vitamin-rich, containing vitamins A & E, both excellent for the skin.  The oatmeal helps soothe skin.  The honey acts as a humectant in addition to the naturally occurring glycerin, drawing moisture from the air to the skin.  There is no added fragrance in this soap, and it has a lovely natural toasted oatmeal scent that comes out as the soap saponifies.  If I had to sum up what, exactly, makes this soap so skin-friendly, I’d say its nakedness makes it shine.

Because very little I experience in my life as a professional soapmaker and vendor surprises me, having people tell me last year that they needed soap that’s even more naked than Au Naturel about knocked me off my feet.  I learned that some people are very sensitive to oats and can’t use products containing them.  Yet, they wanted an incredible goat’s milk-based soap without fragrance or oatmeal.  For those people, I whipped up this little gem in January.

Nude Beach soap
Nude Beach

To call this a Castille soap would be a misnomer, though its only oil is olive oil, so it has the gentleness of Castille soap.  It contains goat’s milk, with all its rich moisturizing properties and vitamins.  It also has honey to lend its moisturization.  This little jewel is Nude Beach, an ultra-gentle soap that will make your skin feel spectacular.  Like Au Naturel, this one, also, is unscented.

So, which is it?  Do you want to go Au Naturel or take a detour to the Nude Beach?  Either way, both of these soaps will be kind to your skin, whether it’s young or old, particular or easy-going.

Six Tips for Showing Some Skin Love

Summer is rapidly approaching, and with warmer temperatures, we’re showing more skin.  Our skin is our largest organ, and like our other organs, it, too, has its care needs so that it can do its job.  I’ve come up with five not-terribly-original ways to care for your skin.

(1) Sweat it out.  When we sweat, our pores open up, allowing the sweat to flow out, taking with it dirt, oil, and other blemish-causing culprits.  Sweat also removes toxins from the body, making it an incredible, completely natural detox method.

English: Drops of sweat
English: Drops of sweat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(2) Water in, water out.  No news here – we’re approximately 70% water.  In order for sweat (and urine, for that matter) to do its best job removing toxins and impurities from our bodies, it has to have something to work with.  Drinking plenty of water (half your body weight in ounces is recommended, but at least shoot for 6-8 cups) each day gives your body what it needs to function, as well as providing the conduit for sweat to work.  Being well hydrated is like moisturizing your skin from the inside.

(3) Kiss the caffeine good-bye.  Do you live your life a cup of coffee or a can of soda at a time, just to get through your day?  While moderate amounts of caffeine can’t hurt – some studies suggest they’re quite beneficial – there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  Caffeine acts as a diuretic, and while your body might be eliminating water, if your entire drink consumption is primarily caffeinated drinks, there isn’t a grand amount of water going back in.  As a result, you’ll end up terribly dehydrated.  This results in dry skin that lacks elasticity.

(4) Bid those smokes a farewell while you’re at it.  It is often easy to determine the smokers in the crowd before you even smell them.  They have fine lines around their mouths and they look older than their years.  That cigarette smoke is chemical-laced dry heat in the face constantly.

(5) Slather on the sunscreen.  Oft-repeated, seldom followed, and I’m admitting now that I’m not the best about this, though I am getting better.  There is no undoing the damage from sun over-exposure or smoking without lots of medical intervention – maybe.  I always wear sunscreen at the beach with frequent reapplication, and I am doing better about remembering to put it on on soccer days.  I still, however, don’t put it on every time I go out, nor do I wear it when I’m taking walks or rides (usually later in the day when the UV index is low).

(6) Use soap and moisturizer.  Soap keeps the skin clean (obviously).  When we wash with soap, the soap bonds with the dirt and germs on our skin; then, when we rinse, all of it washes down the drain.  Our skin’s acid mantle restores itself in 2-3 hours, bringing balance back to its pH.  By washing, we get rid of germs that could enter even the most microscopic of cuts.  When we follow with moisturizer, we keep the skin soft and supple, which makes it heal faster and more easily.  I discovered when I was in graduate school that small sores such as paper cuts took much longer to heal during the dry winter months than they did in the moister summer months.  Applying lotion to my hands sped up the healing time.

I talked about this this morning in my branded Facebook group.  Are you a member?  We’d love to have you join us!  Just click that link (“branded Facebook group”) and submit your request to join.  And in the meantime, get some water into you and sweat some water out.  Your skin will thank you for it!

Making the Change, pt. 3

You can read the first part of this saga here, and the second part here.

I was sitting at the beach, and I’d lucked out on a bench swing overlooking the ocean.  The air was nippy (it was April), the water was a beautiful greenish blue, the sky was a crystal clear gradient blue, and the wind whispered through the sea oats on the dunes.  I closed my eyes and allowed my other senses to study my environment.  My mind went back to countless beach days – warm beach, friendly kids for the girls to play with, sand in the bathing suit (hey, it happens), sunscreen.  And there it was.  I would make soaps that capture by scent my memories and associations of various North Carolina beaches, and this would be my niche.

I already had been making one soap, Crystal Coast Morning, that was inspired by wonderful memories of waking up at Emerald Isle in the late autumn (think early December) when the air is clean and brisk and the beach is silent but for the waves and breezes.  Kure Beach is kissed with a bit of sunscreen and a little sand.  Outer Banks is wild and primitive – sudden storms, cedar-sided houses, the ghosts of pirates.  And Ocean Isle has a hint of fruity drink (with an umbrella, of course) served ocean-side.

These four soaps form the heart of my new niche.  A surprise gift of 5 pounds of Bolivian pink sand were the inspiration behind a new type of salt scrub, also in these fabulous scents (though, being a “man scent,” Outer Banks isn’t yet available in salt scrub).  You know how your skin feels after you’ve been at the beach?  That fine layer of sand exfoliates your skin as you wash it off.  Then you wash off all the sunscreen and salt, slathering on the lotion afterwards, and you feel sun-kissed, moisturized, and completely luxurious.  That’s what Bolivian Pink Sea Salt Scrub does for your skin.

From my niche came my conception of my ideal customer.  It was the oddest thing.  I was transferring soaps from table to rack late one night before bed, and I started talking to her in my mind.  In a flash, my ideal customer came to me, and I knew everything about her.  Experts put out worksheets to help businesses identify their ideal customer, but I kept getting stuck when I’d do them.  Apparently, though, at 11:00 while I’m doing mindless tasks, I can come up with lots.

Anyway, moving on…  (I just get really excited about my new products, if you couldn’t tell!)  We’re moving forward on this rebrand, right?  I had the blessing of 1 1/2 weeks without the girls to make products, take pictures, talk to my web developer.  Things were looking good!  I would take a few pictures a day as soaps cured and were close to being ready for sale.  My web developer and I worked hard, troubleshooting and setting things in place.  The launch date was 1 June, and I was trusting him to be working his coding magic behind the scenes while I dealt with the front-end and administrative tasks.

Then another one of those screeching halts came at the end of May.  My husband and I both lost two people close to us – his mentor/friend and my grandmother.  My work time was then pushed into traveling, and I pushed the launch for the following Monday, giving us the weekend for final tweaks and adjustments.  I wasn’t hearing anything much from my developer, so I took deep breaths and trusted that all was going fine on his end.  Then Monday comes.  And Monday goes.  No website, and nothing at all from my developer.  It’s like he’d dropped off the face of the earth.  Panic ensued.  If this site was going to be ready for the grand new business launch, I was (a) going to have to build it myself, or (b) pay someone big bucks to build it for me.  I knew I couldn’t afford option B, so A it was.

I started with my shopping cart, a trusted one that I’d used for years with my old site.  I was familiar with the admin, was pretty comfortable navigating the cpanel, and I was ready to roll.  The first problem hits.  No big.  I go to the support forums, find the solution, fix the problem, roll on.  The next problem crops up.  Same thing.  By the third problem, I had figured out I was in over my head and started exploring other shopping carts.  Getting started and through the first three problems took me…  probably about 20 hours to deal with, and I hadn’t gotten very far at all.  I found a new shopping cart, scrapped those twenty hours’ worth of work, installed the new cart, and after about another six hours’ work, had a rough but working website.  Score one for the not-developer!

Several more hours, messages between the shop’s developer and me, even more hours, and the site was done and ready to launch a little over a week later.  Given that website development really isn’t my forte’ at all, I really have to be proud of the fact that the launch was only delayed by two weeks, and for the most part, I built my site by myself (though again, with valuable help from the template developer’s team and my own friend Bobby).  My web developer is still MIA.

Even while all that was going on, I ordered note cards, postcards, and business cards.  I invested time in sending personal notes to some of my customers.  I set up email addresses…  And to my surprise, last Monday, one of my customers who received one of those notes talked about it in her own blog.  You can read about that here.

So, that was pretty much my rebrand, start to present.  There’s so much minutiae to doing this – opening new accounts, changing account information on websites, making it official with the state – but that’s boring stuff.  However, if you’re rebranding or launching your first new brand (the steps are quite similar), be sure to include these tedious but necessary tasks on your task list so you don’t forget them.

If you have questions about rebranding I didn’t address, please leave them in the comments below.

 

Garden Fresh for Spring

I love spring bulbs.  Daffodils and hyacinths are my favorites.  Planting bulbs in October’s chill is hopeful.  We’re anticipating seeing those bright blooms after six months of cool (or cold), dark days.  And the smell!  Oh my goodness, there’s nothing like the subtle sunny smell of a bright yellow daffodil or the sweet aroma of a pastel rainbow of hyacinths.  When I was a child, we had daffodils lining our driveway and hidden among the natural areas in the yard; I still smile thinking of those yellow spots amongst the greens and browns.

Several years ago when we lived in our townhouse, we planted some bulbs.  There were so many!  We’d gotten a little bit crazy, and in the back in front of the raised bed were crocuses and tulips, and in pots, one on either side of the sidewalk leading to the front door, were hyacinths.  I was thrilled the first time I saw the first bud peeking up between the green leaves – thrilled, that is, until the snow buried the young blooms.  Obviously, they didn’t do well that year, and, frankly, I was a little disappointed when my mystery bulbs of promised “assorted colors” turned out just to be pink and lavender.  Don’t get me wrong; they were pretty before they got the deep freeze, and they did smell nice, but I’d hoped for more variety.

Then came the next spring.  I did not realize that these bulbs I’d planted so lovingly a year-and-a-half before were technically tubers and had multiplied.  Greatly.  And the colors I’d longed for had arrived.  Now, in addition to the pink and lavender, I had rich purple, white, dark pink, and yellow blooms, and each time I passed them, their sweet aroma with that hint of spice greeted me.  I was in love!

My bulbs didn’t survive the move and resettlement.  Trying to finish settling into a new home with a new baby and new routines just didn’t leave much energy for dealing with bulbs.  Other plants grace the yard, different blooms and colors, but I still look forward to the autumn when I can see the freshly mounded dirt under which my bulbs are buried and the excitement of the little green shoots giving way to riotous blooms of color come spring.

To sort of tide me over until that day comes, I found a lovely hyacinth fragrance that perfectly reminds me of those glorious flowers.  Some floral scents just don’t translate well into their fragrance oil counterparts, but this one is simply lovely.  Yearning for a bit of springtime?  Grab a bar of this gorgeous hyacinth soap to experience spring in your shower (especially for you folks that are having a white Easter).  If you like spring flowers, you’ll love this soap!

hyacinth soap
Lovely, true-to-scent hyacinth soap

My Lemony Love

It started with an angel.  Long story short…  Boy meets girl.  Girl needs angel for her Christmas tree.  Boy suggests this shop at the beach (not knowing that Girl LOVES this shop).  They go to the shop, buy an angel, start a flotilla tradition.  At one point, Girl sees people watching the flotilla from large balconies of an inn while sipping wine or hot chocolate – and not grappling for space on the boardwalk.  Girl thinks, That sure would be nice.  Over time, that becomes a reality, a part of the tradition.

That inn – an interesting hybrid between a bed & breakfast and a hotel – offers lovely, well-appointed rooms, great views, convenient location, and quite nice toiletries, one of which is lemon verbena soap.  We’re talking real soap like what we make, not mass-produced syndet bars that leave the skin dry and itchy.  One sniff, and I was hooked.  The scent was lightly sweet and sharply lemony at the same time with beautiful green notes and just a tinge herbaceous.

It took me forever to find a similar lemon verbena scent.  I found what was marketed as a lemon verbena essential oil, which was pretty nice, only to find out later it was a blend of synthetic and natural ingredients.  L’Occitane‘s Lemon Verbena is fabulous, but too strongly lemon for what I was seeking.  Imagine how excited I was when I found both a duplication of L’Occitane’s Lemon Verbena and another lemon verbena fragrance at one of my suppliers’ online stores!  The L’Occitane is still too lemony, and the other fragrance is a bit too floral.  But when I put them together in just a certain way…  Whoa!!!  It’s perfect!  Lemony, green, floral, herbaceous.

Lemon Verbena Soap - Sunshine in the Shower!
Lemon Verbena Soap – Sunshine in the Shower!

I found my lemony love in this Lemon Verbena soap.  it’s like sunshine in the shower, perfect for cold days, grey days…  Shoot!  It’s perfect for any day that you need your eyes opened.  Yes, I’ll admit, I did have to steal a bar for my shower, but there are still several bars of this dream soap left for you to fall in love with.

 

Why Creativity Takes Time + Costs Money

The discussion came up with a customer:  The question was, “Why is this soap so much more expensive than this other soap?”

That’s a fair question, certainly.  Soap A (the less expensive one) requires a one-time pour with mica accents finger-brushed on top.  Soap B (the soap in question) COULD just take a one-time pour of a single color of soap, but this customer was expecting it to be colorful, and “colorful” meant several individual pours of different colored soap.  This took time, and since I’m a professional, time = money.  And I had to craft each soap individually.

Pelican soap
Pelican soap – This is it resting on its mould

And as I make slabs of soaps, the types I can whip up in one glorious pour, I think of what it takes to make various soaps.  I’ve made soaps before that are a simple scent and no color, or a scent and just one color.  Those are quick and simple to make.  Then there are the soaps with elaborate swirls and multiple colors, or soaps that contain interesting botanicals and custom created fragrance blends.  Truth is, I could whip out batch after batch of no-color scented soap, but that would be so boring!  We LOVE color!  And design and fun, unique fragrances, and everything else we bring to our soaps!  But creativity, again, takes time, and time is money, even when you enjoy what you do.

I tripped across this great video today that takes a look at the relationship between time and creativity.

https://www.facebook.com/binishkumarks/videos/10150455838601609/

 

Sure, creativity takes more time to achieve, but we are infinitely more pleased with our results.  We’ll continue to take the time to be creative, because it’s just so much more fun.

 

My First Cold Process!

MarysThoughts

Hi!

I thought that I would change up my blog. I was thinking of one of my friends at the time I was writing this and decided that I would act as if I was talking to her and came up with questions she might ask. Hope this answers some of your questions!

Friend: What does the soap look like?

Me: The soap is pink with a fun amount of sparkles and a mango sorbet fragrance. With it being my first soap I would add a hint of blue to the pink color in the future. Mom says that I should start with one color, but I added sparkles to get close to the desired effect.

Friend: What good qualities does your soap have that will make people want it?

Me: It will be a small bar which will be easy for kids (and adults) to hold. Its fun fragrance will (ahem, should) make kids look forward to showering without bubblegum (take it from a young spurt, bubblegum can smell icky or get tiring). The soap has sparkles which gleam in the light some. It is very moisturizing, lather is a definite, and it is hard. I was rinsing off my cutting board after cutting it and I had a great lather. I love the soap (I kept a bar for myself).

Friend: If you were to sell it, what would you call it?

Me: Pink Paradise* or Pink Paradise Falls**. I’m leaning towards PPF, though if I do PP then I can do a series with Blue Paradise, Green, Orange, Purple, etc. I think that I’ll make another PP next year for sale, then every other month another color. I will be doing another soap (for sale) this year with the same recipe, and it will be Christmas-y. That will be sold online and at the Triangle area EPA show in November. I also do a show here called the Pender County Spring Fest.

Friend: How did you think the soap would turn out compared to how it turned out?

Me: I thought it would turn out sharper, more vivid, pinker. The top looks pretty and if the whole soap were that color, then the soap would look beautiful. The top is a powdery pink that, in my opinion, looks like pixie dust. The bottom is a sort of magenta, but not that dark, mixed with sparkles that add a welcoming touch. I really thought that the sparkles would come out more, that it would be darker or lighter.

Friend: What were some of your feelings as you made this soap?

Me, mixing up the lye.
Me, mixing up the lye.

Me: I was feeling exhilarated, happy, worried, slightly panicked, joyful, and free. I can make whatever I want (within reason) on any soap, swirl, etc. I was also very happy that Mom said I could. Truth be told, I don’t like Melt & Pour as much. They take up time freezing them and you have to monitor it.  You can make a CP and leave it alone.

Me stirring the lye mixture into the warm oils. Making magic happen!
Me stirring the lye mixture into the warm oils. Making magic happen!

Friend: Give us some brief how-to’s.

Me: First, gather your supplies. Since I’m doing small batches then everything can be done in a 4 Cup measuring cup. Bigger batches are done in buckets.

4 cup measuring cup (4 cupper)                                         Small container (yogurt container sort)

Spatula                                                                                    Wooden spoon

Big container (such as the containers you get when you order a quart of Chinese soup)

Oils, Lye, etc.

Stick blender

Goggles, Gloves, etc.

Soap rag (old baby diapers, washcloths)

Not all of your oils are going to be liquid. Put on your goggles, gloves, etc. and get the smaller container. Measure out your lye. In the big container, measure out your water (or ice). With the wooden spoon stir lye and water together but be sure to hold your breath; otherwise the fumes can hurt your throat. Once dissolved, set aside. You can take the protective gear off. Now measure out your solid oils. Mine were coconut, palm, and cocoa butter. Melt them in the microwave until liquid. Now you add your liquid oils. Mine were olive and avocado. Mix all your oils together and set them aside. Take another small container and scoop some of the oil mixture into it. Add your color to it and stir until smooth. Set your color aside. Measure out your fragrance and set aside.

Put your protective gear back on. Dump lye mixture into the oils. Take the stick blender and bring the mixture to a trace. It will be mixed together but thick. If you’re making tomato soup and it’s just out of the can, that’s about how thick it should be. Add the fragrance. Now you have one of two options. The soap will be a creamy white. You can add the color mixture now and stir the fragrance and color in, OR, you can stir in fragrance then add color. If you do option #2 then you have the option of not stirring the color in all the way and getting a swirl. Either way, when you get done, put it in a silicone mould, scrape it out (this is where the spatula comes in), and cover it with a box lined with cling wrap. Insulate your soap by covering it with towels and let rest for at least 24 hours before unmoulding. Take the soap rag and wipe your equipment before rinsing under warm water. “Make” it in a soap program and it should tell you how many days it has to cure (you can use it after it cures, usually about a month).

My first CP soap freshly poured
My first CP soap freshly poured

*PP

**PPF

When’s a Chemical not a Chemical?

Chemicals surround us.  They’re in the food we eat, the drinks we drink, and the air we breathe.  Our entire bodies are nothing but chemical processes.

A couple of weeks ago, the girls and I were in a shop where there was a sign that read, “SoapsChemical free!”  Mary, my older daughter, quipped, “So they left out the lye?”  I returned, “And the water, the oils, and the fragrance.”  While the “chemical free” sign may entice unwary consumers, it really felt like the creator of the sign is , at best, ignorant of what, exactly, soapmaking is, and at worst, willfully practicing deceptive business practices (given that artificially scented soaps are labeled “all natural” and have “essential oil” on the label, I lean towards the latter).

Unit cell, spacefill model of sodium hydroxide
Unit cell, spacefill model of sodium hydroxide (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soapmaking is chemistry.  The very idea of this amuses me greatly, given how hard I struggled in high school and college chemistry.  Sodium hydroxide (lye) mixes with water (usually), and that mixture, in turn, is added to oils in liquid form; they are then emulsified together, either by stirring or blending, before having additives added to the raw soap and being poured into a mould.  The magic happens here as the mixture creates heat internally which causes the whole thing to gel.  This is a super-cool exothermic reaction wherein the beautifully swirled and designed raw soap changes color, smells funky, and looks like really runny, chunky petroleum jelly.  It looks like the soap is a ruined mess at this point, but as the hours pass, the soap cools down, revealing the amazing colors and patterns once more.  That process is called saponification.  Actually, the gel phase is the heart of saponification, a chemical reaction that starts where the lye mixture meets the oils and ends formally at the end of the curing time.  While gel phase only lasts 12-36 hours, saponification can last weeks.

Chemicals coming together to create a chemical reaction and cause a chemical change.  Sodium hydroxide is a chemical – NaOH.  So is water – H2O.  And oils are as well – the formula for olive oil is C52H96O6.  You can separate sodium hydroxide from water, allowing water to evaporate and lye crystals to form (9th grade science fair project).  However, once that lye mixture combines with the oils, there’s no going back.  The change is permanent and irrevocable.  This is the hallmark of chemical change – a chemical reaction produces a change that cannot be reversed.  Ahhh chemistry.

Well, you may argue, the creator of the “chemical free” sign means no harmful chemicals.  What makes a chemical harmful?  How natural it is?  Cyanide is a naturally occurring chemical element, but I think we can agree it’s very harmful.  Sodium hydroxide is a chemical that can be produced from natural processes (pouring water through ashes), and it doesn’t take much – relatively speaking – to dissolve a 300-pound body.  Yet, it sometimes appears in cosmetics and pickles.  Dihydrogen monoxide!  There’s a “safe” chemical.  In fact, I add it to every soap, lotion, and cream that I make.  Yet, more people die of exposure to DHMO each year than from exposure to all other chemicals combined!  Obviously, what makes a chemical “safe” or not is how it’s used and how much is used.  A little NaOH or a little salt isn’t harmful, but an abundance of either can cause sickness, death, or complete disintegration.

Bottom line, there is no “chemical-free” soap, because all components of soap are chemicals, and the resulting product is soap and glycerin.  Artisan made soaps are proof that there is better living through chemicals.

Our Highly Productive Weekend

Some weekends are just made for indulging in all sorts of hobbies and fun, with added points for making a home homier.  While the girls were gone last week, I spent a few hours making the curtains for the back sliding glass door.  This project had been on my radar for at least two years with a couple of agendas:  One, I wanted to get rid of the horrendous vertical blinds that had been slowly falling apart, slat by slat, since we moved into this house six years ago.  Two, I wanted to find a fashionable way to block drafts in the winter and the hot morning sun in the summer.  I think I’ve met my goal, don’t you?  I love how they let in diffused light!

New tropical curtains
The festive, tropical curtains now hanging in my dinette
Close-up of curtains and valence
The curtains with their box valence. My chairs are upholstered in this same striped print.

I tripped across a small sniglet of coconut cream in my fridge, and I really didn’t feel like keeping it in there, nor did I want to throw it out.  Plus, for a few minutes, I was bored, so I decided to toss that coconut cream into a small batch of soap.  Gorgeous, n’est-ce pas?  Beautifully swirled with Mad Oils micas with a base of blushing Bazooka Jo pink and swirls of Grape Nehi and Silverfin Blue, this soap is scented with a dupe of SunRipened Raspberry for a fun, fresh, summery finish.

Sun-Warmed Raspberry soap
Sun-Warmed Raspberry Soap with coconut cream. Rich and luxurious? Oh yeah!!!

With our bumper crop of pickling cucumbers coming in now, kindly augmented by one of hubby’s customers giving him five more, it was time to work some magic.  Magic, however, had to allow for the fact that I don’t have any space cool enough to ferment pickles, so I have to make adjustments.  In addition to restocking our cranberry mustard (the dark red stuff), my youngest daughter and I put up 8 pints of Polish dill pickles.  They look and smell delicious, but the recipe says we have to let them cure for 4-6 weeks.  WEEKS!!!  How ever are we going to be able to wait to dig into these?

Jars of food
Jars of homemade cranberry mustard and Polish dill pickles

Hannah, my youngest, decided she wanted to make a mermaid soap for her Grandma, complete with mica.  It turned out so pretty!  She opted for Lemon Grove scent, her Grandparents’ favorite.

Mermaid soap
My daughter’s special mermaid soap

Visiting this sweet girl, her siblings, and her mom topped off our weekend.  This little one has the sweetest face.  Her sister is my next kitten, but she was buried in a kitten pile nursing.  I have to wait another FOUR weeks before I can adopt the adorable little furball.  And who doesn’t like looking at cute kitten pictures?  Instant happiness!

Kitten
Two-week-old calico kitten. Her sister is my next kitten.

What made your weekend great?  We’d love for you to share it in the comments.