Udder Nature

Handcrafted Goats Milk Soap

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Craft Show in Sandusky

Posted by Stazha on December 3, 2011 at 1:10 PM Comments comments (0)

  My daughter and I are spending the afternoon at a craft show in Sandusky. The proceeds go to the Sandusky High School band. I have public access internet here but am unable to access Facebook. Is that a common school protocol? I'll assume it is. This inconvenience has prompted me to blog instead since my phone is waiting for a new SIM card due to several malnutritional functions there.  My blog feeds right into my Facebook fanpage so it is the only way to let my soapy fans know where I am today!

  Since I've now been forced into blogging (and the show is in the lull of lunch hour), what better time to post some pics and throw out some thoughts on craft shows in general!

  Well, I like doing shows. I like displaying my products and playing with different arrangement ideas. Seasonal changes are especially fun but it starts to cost a bit to change my display for every holiday. I have a 'generic' look usually but I can't resist adding color touches for the holidays.

 

Today's show is on my nice list. I've been to a few that I doubt I will ever return to. Bad shows happen for a couple of reasons, poor advertising being the main reason. There's nothing worse than a show where the crafters resort to buying from each other because there just aren't any shoppers coming in the door. And this will sound mean to say but I don't go to craft shows to buy. I go to SELL!  Although I do buy a few things when I find them irrisistable!

Another reason for a poor show is bad planning. If there's something going on in town that you know everyone is going to attend, that may affect the outcome of the show. For example, a marathon. People don't expect to go to craft fairs if they're attending, or running in, a marathon that day. Another situation is a kid's fair. If the event is geared towards kids, parents aren't very likely to buy things that aren't for the kiddos.

One of my pet peaves, and I am far from alone in this rant, is poor set-up. Two crafters with similar products do NOT want to be placed next to each other. And if there are only 20 crafters and 5 of them are selling similar products, say soap, it also sets a mood. And not a good one.

The conundrum is, the fairs that prevent all of these planning flaws cost so much more to book. So when I go to a show that was low cost and still had a great turn-out, I am happier than a goat  in a junkyard!

(The liquid soap pictured here is something that I have been selling at shows. I've still been working on feedback before I put it on the webstore. Pretty soon!!  I've also been selling lotions which has been tricky to make also.)

Some of the best shows have also been great friend-making moments! I run into the same folks from time to time and most of them are funny and creative. And a great resource for future event planning! 

Looks like it's picking up again here (yay) and my laptop is giving me the low battery finger, so it's time to go!!

A New Face

Posted by Stazha on August 21, 2011 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)

  I've been searching for a way to add to the look of my soaps that politely says "Goat Milk" without being too complex and I finally selected one that I like.

 I see a lot of other soapers use a mold for their goat's milk soaps, where the soap itself is shaped like a goat or have the words 'Goat Milk' imprinted from the mold. It's nice but it didn't quite grab me. Plus, the molds I use are my very own, handmade by my husband. This is an important detail and you're unlikely to find another soap in this shape.

 All that led me to watch for stamping ideas and I finally found something I can be happy with.  Each bar will now have a beautiful Nubian face!

 I can't put the stamp on every bar of soap just yet; wish I could. They have to be stamped before they're fully cured, while they're still soft. All the soap ready for sale right now will have to rely on selling it's faceless self on it's other fine qualities. But now I can't wait to make more soap-just so I can stamp them all! =)

Cheers to Beer!

Posted by Stazha on August 17, 2011 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Beer. It's best cold. The more you drink, the faster it goes down. It feels great in the shower.


Wait a second...What? No, really! I've read up on it and beer makes a terrific bar of soap! So I gave it a try and it does look nice. It doesn't smell like beer but neither do the milk soaps smell like milk. And that's a good thing because no one really wants to go around, all clean and spiffy, smelling like either!

 

I have to let it cure a bit longer before I can tell ya if it's really all that but I suspect it will be just as terrific as anything else I've created. And I'll be sure to use in moderation!

Success is Sweet!

Posted by Stazha on October 11, 2010 at 11:32 AM Comments comments (0)

I attended the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival this past weekend and had a great time!  Thank you to everyone that came by my booth!  It was a successful weekend and the weather was fantastic!

 And I always enjoy decorating for this season...see my Soap Witch on the right?

 

 

100th Batch!!

Posted by Stazha on September 22, 2010 at 8:25 AM Comments comments (1)

 I mixed and poured my 100th batch of soap this week since I began my 'Udder Nature' journey. My month has been full of the usual restocking plus thinking ahead to the holidays. I've been picking through venues and festivals to sell at too. The Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival is the first one up, it will be October 8th, 9th and 10th in Caro. I'll be there peddling my wares on Friday and Saturday.

 On top of the soaping, there's so much more going on! The rest of the gardening to be finished. The goards and pumpkins look great. The potatoes, onions and carrots need to dug up. Three of the kids are in sports, so they have me running every night to practices or games. We're doing some work on our house which I cannot wait to see finished! Hunting season is upon us, time to make room in the freezer. And breeding season is closing in! Time to make sure those does are in tip-top shape. And let's not forget the buck, he looks as awesome as he smells horrible! Line drying laundry is not an option at this point in the year.

 But I have had the peaceful return of school give me the time to really mix up those soaps. No one's in the way or in need of a snack right when I'm pouring crucial ingredients, so that's been quite lovely. There's 17 batches of suds ready to go for the month of October to show for it! At 3 pounds a batch, that should be plenty to satisfy the crowds at the fairs! And if it's not then I get to come home and say I sold it all! Well, that would be the goal, of course!

Sensory Overload

Posted by Stazha on September 9, 2010 at 7:51 AM Comments comments (0)

 The house smells wonderful as I continue to make new scents! With the holidays coming up, I've gladly been experimenting with those edible scents that smell so good, I can't help but smile! On the drying rack, I've got "Peppermint", "Chocolate", "Cranberry", a collaboration of baking spices I've named "Yule" and a combination of peppermint and chocolate that I've named "Merry Christmas". There's also a new scent called "Snowstorm Berries" that I just got started on.

             

 

                                              Merry Christmas

A Review

Posted by Stazha on August 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)

 I am happy to report that my soap has made it to a product review on Miss RJ's site, Virtuous Girlhood.  And the review was a kind one!  Whew!

You can read it here!

 A big Thank You to the contributers of Virtuous Girlhood for working with me on this new experience. I hope to do more reviews in the future with other blogsites and, of course, I'm happy to accept testimonials right here on Udder Nature from anyone who had tried my soap. :)

Nightshade

Posted by Stazha on July 15, 2010 at 2:58 PM Comments comments (1)

  Nightshade. Some call it Bella Donna. I call it deadly. The variety around my home is either Common Nightshade or Eastern Black Nightshade. It's a pretty little weed with white or purple flowers and it's related to the potato and tomato. It looks like a tomato plant too, but the fruit are small and black. Each berry is loaded with tiny little seeds.

 Nightshade is the suspected culprit in the poisoning of my goat herd last summer. I lost one doeling and struggled to keep two others alive. Those two survived but it took several weeks for them to return to normal. Now, I can spot Nightshade in an instant! And I pull it as fast as I find it.

  These pictures were taken near my home, as I find the plant everywhere I walk it seems! And, as you can see, it is actually growing in a pot!  A formidable opponant indeed.

 

 

 

 

Olive Oil

Posted by Stazha on June 23, 2010 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

 Homer called olive oil "liquid gold" and it 's pretty much the superstar of oils, both for food consumption and for soap making, and it has been used for centuries in both applications. Olive oil was (and is still) used as a direct skin cleanser. According to ExploreCrete.com, the Egyptians used it to remove dirt from their skin by applying the oil and then scraping it off, the oil clinging to the dirt, thus removing it. An olive oil soap factory was established as early as the 6th century in Marseilles (not suggesting it was the FIRST factory).

 Now, the history of soap making is not a clear one and neither is it known for certain how anyone came to mix lye with oils and then used it to wash anything, but the uncertainty, it seems to me, suggests that it is a very old practice indeed! Take that and the abundance and significance of the olive in history (the Bible, for example) and it seems clear why olive oil would be chosen.

 Here are some facts: Olive is an evergreen tree grown predominently in the Mediterranean. It grows to 27 feet tall and takes 15 years to bear olives. Most of global production of olive oil comes from Southern Europe, North Africa and the Near East with Australia and the Republic of South Africa also growing Olive trees for oil.(wikipedia)

 Soaps containing only vegetable oils, olive oil in particular, are called castile soaps. Olive oil is known for its mildness on skin. "The oil has a heavy texture and can vary in color from a pale golden yellow to dark green. The purest form is from the "extra virgin" and it is lightest in color. Olive oil has many antioxidant properties. Olive oil absorbs UV radiation and is very efficient in lowering metabolism rate of the body cells. Thus assisting in repairing cells and in preventing cell damage. Olive oil is soothing and healing to all skin types". You can read about more topical uses of olive oil on eHow.com

 Until I started making soap, I was unaware of the use of oils directly on skin, aside from moisturizer. Being fair skinned, oils frighten me. (I'm thinking fried chicken here) Not sure I would use it as a UV blocker! But I have enjoyed it for years in my cooking. And now, I am happy to use it in my soap. In fact, olive oil is the predominent oil used in all my soap recipes. A fine oil to mix with that wonderful goat milk!

 Here's a a two part video (about 16 minutes total) from Morocco showing the process of olive oil making from the land it is grown on to the press. It's a more primitive process here and the camera is shaky but I really enjoyed watching it. And if you listen closely, you can even hear goats in the first one! Sweet!

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Palm Oil

Posted by Stazha on June 15, 2010 at 1:13 PM Comments comments (0)

 There is a lot going on with palm oil. I don't claim to know half of the information out there, and what I do know comes from what I can find online. From huge palm plantations being spread across vast lands only after cutting rain forests to the food vs. fuel debate, there's hours upon hours of reading that can be found, not to mention numerous videos. I'll start with the basics...

 Palm oil and palm kernal oil are edible plant oils that come from the oil palm (Elaeis guineesis). They are extracted from either the pulp or the seed(kernal) of the palm fruit, which is about the size of a small plum. Palm can be cultivated only in tropical areas of Africa, Asia, and South America.

 Palm oil is used in many products, soap being one of them. When I first started making soap, I purchased 2 pounds of palm oil to use after reading what a wonderful soap it makes. After making a couple batches of soap, I came across some information on another soap site. The site warned against using it so I did some digging and decided not to purchase any more palm oil. And I continue to make wonderful soap without it.

 Some of the most compelling information came from some videos I watched. From the destruction of orangutan habitat to the outright devastation of the rain forest, I couldn't believe how much of this pillaging of the land was allowed to take place. The land is clear-cut, the seed bed removed, and then maybe planted with palm, by the millions. The families living there are being forced out and then having no choice but to find employment by those that forced them out. Can we call this modern day slavery? And as if it isn't bad enough that the oil was more valuable than the people, forests, and animals, companies and governments are now making money using palm oil as a biofuel. This course will only further depreciate the value of all things non-palm.

 

Are you unwittingly contributing to the devastation of the rain forests?

 

Here's a 3 minute video that shows the rainforests in a way that you've never seen them before...gone!

 

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And here is another, a 10 minute part of a 47 minute documentary. Have you ever looked back in history, shocked by that way Africans were stolen from their lands? How Native Americans were forced out of their homes and pushed from reservation to reservation, to the deserts of North America? Have you ever wondered how anyone could have ever done that to another human? I believe it happens still... 

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I encourage you to look into this on your own. Become aware of what's in your food and other products. Look those ingredients up. Labeling can be tricky. Some companies don't use the words 'palm oil' in their ingredients. They become very clever with words. How many items in your pantry contain 'vegetable oil'? And it isn't 'only palm oil'. It's so much more...

First Sales Event!

Posted by Stazha on June 11, 2010 at 1:47 PM Comments comments (1)

 So, I've been putting off selling at booths, not that I don't want to but because I really want to  look  like I have it all together. Thanks to some really nice display pieces I've found at various stores (LOVE Hobby Lobby!) and my own consistancy in labels and soap shapes, I think I'm off to a good start.

 

 

I'll be at VIP Salon on Saturday, June 12th, from noon to 3pm, along with other great vendors (PartyLite, Pampered Chef, Jewel Kade, and Dove Chocolate Discoveries) to raise funds for Cass City's Freedom Festival. The Freedom Festival is their yearly 4th of July celebration.

 

It's a Girl "Thang"!

Fundraiser held at VIP Salon in Cass City sponsored by VIP Salon and Envisions Photography Studio! All proceeds go to benefit the CASS CITY FREEDOM FESTIVAL!

 

Come on out for an afternoon of pampering! Admission is $30/person or $55/mother & daughter.

Admission includes:

Free hair and make up done by VIP Salon

Free parafin hand wax done by VIP Salon

Free professional portrait taken by Envisions Photography Studio posted on Facebook

 

Sounds like fun!

 

Variety

Posted by Stazha on May 17, 2010 at 2:13 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm really enjoying the variety of colors (and scents) I've been getting with soap-making!

A few of these have no added color, some have natural colors from rosemary, tomato, or tumeric powders. The pinks and purples come from oxide pigments. The vanilla has darkened as it has been curing. It's the second from the right on the bottom. It started out as light as the one just above it, to the left. I don't know how much darker it will get but I like it!

The Drying Rack

Posted by Stazha on May 1, 2010 at 9:05 AM Comments comments (0)

 I've been making about 3 pounds of soap every day. With 4 weeks of drying time, it seems I may be running out of room! Nothing that can't be fixed with a second shelving system. Here's a picture of what's on the rack as of today. I also have a shelf that's half full of ready and wrapped soap.

 

 

 

And here's a shot of Lavender Swirl. A color experiment gone wonderfully right! I will definately be trying this color technique again...

Fragrance oils

Posted by Stazha on April 21, 2010 at 3:56 PM Comments comments (2)

 So I got some new fragrance oils and made two new soaps today: Amber and Vanilla. The vanilla has a soft, warm scent, reminds me of a candle. The amber makes me think of a perfume I used to have although I cannot recall which. I like them both.

 The fragrance oils are from a company that makes cosmetic grade fragrances. They are safe for your skin. The tricky part is finding the ones that can withstand the cold process soap technique. Not all make it through very well. This is true of essential oils as well.

 The company did call to let me know that the vanilla has a reputation to darken the soap. From dark brown to even black! Woah, right? But I think my soaps could use some natural color varitions so I decided to keep it on my order. Maybe the dark color happens in the gel stage as I haven't seen any color difference yet today.

 Two other fragrance oils I have used (honey almond and cucumber melon(not yet available here)) came from a craft store, found in the soap and candle making department. They failed in the cold process soap method. The bottles said they were good for soap but I think the company markets them for melt and pour soaps. The batches got very gloopy immediately when I mixed the scent in. This left me with soap that had a lot of bubbles and spaces in it. I made the best of this by milling the soap and remolding it. It's look is different than the other soaps but it smells just as wonderful and is just as safe to use. In fact, I've read that rebatching it in this way makes it safe to use earlier.

 I guess there's some trial and error to be had when experimenting with different scents and altering my recipe. Now I know to look for fragrance oils that are certified cold process safe! But I've also found that I can make the best of a confused batch.:wink:

 Be sure to watch the Cure Dates to see what I've been working on. It takes 4 weeks to cure a batch and I list it's release date on that page.

Update! 4-23-10  The vanilla did not darken the soap. I kinda wanted it to.  

 

Soap molds and soap labels...

Posted by Stazha on April 7, 2010 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (1)

 After much thought and more than anticipated trials, we seem to have pinned-down a handmade soap mold that we like AND works!  It will produce six 4oz bath bars. The bars will have a nice rounded top side, which is what took some experimenting to acheive. Hopefully, this will work consistantly-I think it will!

 

 We are also using a mold that makes 12 smaller, round hand soaps. These are measuring at about 1.75 oz. each but we are working on cutting them at 2 oz consistantly.

 

 With much thanks to friends and family, we have a winner for our soap label!  I will get some soap wrapped and new pictures up soon.  I found some nice paper (that I could afford) called Bagasse Sugar Paper." Bagasse Sugar Paper is made from 80% sugar cane waste, (otherwise known as “bagasse”;), and 20% Certified Plantation Fibre instead of trees making it 100% biodegradable and recyclable. Even the manufacturing process is sustainable and eco-friendly."  No new trees were cut to make it! :wink: You too can get this and other awesome treeless paper options at  http://www.ecopaper.com/

Getting started!

Posted by Stazha on March 29, 2010 at 3:48 PM Comments comments (0)

I finally bought a domain and got this site started. It looks a bit daunting to me right now but I'm finding my way around. Getting the checkout set up is what is worrying me most. 

 I made a new batch of soap today: Rosemary and Tea tree. It's a nice green color right now-we'll see how it looks when it gets cut tomorrow! I have a lot of soap curing and nothing that is really ready to sell but when it IS ready, I hope to have this site ready too! :) 

I wonder when all the butterflies will stop fluttering?!