Soapy Swap Ships Out & An Up-cycling Obsession

We are so excited about the Bramble Berry Soap swap!!

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Our goodies went out Monday (Chocolate Espresso Pumpkin Cold Process Beer Soap), and we can’t wait to see all the fantastic handmade goodies we get in return!

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As soon as the goody box arrives, we’ll post it!

In the mean time, we’ve been on a cleaning rampage!  As I’ve mentioned, I adore reading.  In the stone age (ha!) before I had a kindle, I would buy paperback books…eek!  I know right? =)  Well, as such, I have a ton of books with nowhere to go. Sticking with our nerdy theme, I’ve been using them as up-cycled decoration on gift boxes lately!

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I just love the crafty, hand-made, up-cycled look of the book pages as flowers!

 

We hope you’re having a crafty and productive week.  Thank goodness its almost Friday!

 

Odds and Ends Soapy Samplers

On sale now in our etsy store!  We randomly select odd and end pieces from our soap collection for you (each order includes 4 odd/end pieces)…this is a fantastic and affordable way to try multiple Soap4Squares soapy goodies at a fraction of the cost!

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Want to try a sampler pack for yourself?  Well, of course you do!!  They ROCK!  Shop here!

Soapy Safety

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I know, I know.  That mask?  Those goggles?  Tacky latex gloves?!  Well, although I don’t look super cool, you know what is cool??? SAFETY!  Soaping, while fun, is a science involving chemicals that can harm you!  I don’t mean to scare you, like I said, soaping is fun!  But, safety is no joke.  Suit up and be safe.  No coolness rep is worth a lye burn!!

I know that many times projects or stories in this blog may make soaping look like a walk in the park.  However, if you are considering making cold process soap, you really should do your research on the process and how to make yourself safe!   Here are some great resources to get you started!

Teach Soap

Soap Queen TV

The Everything Soapmaking Book by Alicia Grosso

The Soapmaker’s Companion by Susan Miller Cavitch

Now, go forth with that little nugget of knowledge, and make soap! =)

Soap4Squares

(Accidentally Delicious) Green Sunday Mornin’ Smoothie!

Have you ever gone to make a dinner, a smoothie, or even a batch of soap, and you realize you’re missing a key ingredient?  Stress ensues however, on rare occasions, you end up creating something fantastic?!  Well, this morning that very set of circumstances happened whilst making my daily green smoothie!  Lately, I’ve been engrossed in my new cookbook Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr.  I’ve been whipping up fresh juices and green smoothies daily, and I’ve become quite addicted!

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So you can imagine my horror this morning when I ran to my fridge and plugged in my blender only to remember I didn’t go grocery shopping as planned!  I was lacking major ingredients to some of my fav recipes!  Eeek!  What’s a green-smoothie lovin’ girl to do???  What any resourceful veggie-addict would do….I just started throwing things in my blender!  After you’ve made a few green smoothies, you start to see a pattern.  Leafy greens + frozen fruit + liquid + (optional) healthy fat like almond butter, avocado, etc…I decided to take my chances on what I had readily available of those categories.  Well, kiddos, it WORKED, much to my surprise!  I made a delicious green creation that I wanted to share with you!

 

Accidentally Delicious Green Sunday Mornin’ Smoothie

Makes enough for two smoothies.  *Adapted from just about every green smoothie recipe ever.

1 fistful baby spinach (stems removed below leafy section)

1 large kale leaf, steam removed below leafy section (or 2 small leaves)

1/2 avocado

1/2 navel orange (peeled)

1 1/2 frozen bananas

2 cups almond milk

1/4 cup coconut water

1-2 tablespoons agave

3-5 ice cubes

Add all ingredients except the ice cubes into a blender.  Blend on medium speed until everything starts to come together nicely.  Turn the speed up to high and slowly add ice cubes one at a time until the smoothie is cold and a nice,creamy consistency.   Pour into a glass and enjoy!

I have to tell you, I was so tickled this smoothie worked out I spent the rest of the morning humming “accidentally in love” by the Counting Crows…ha! =)

We hope you had a wonderful weekend!  Stay square, and healthy, and shop Soap4Squares!

Soap4Squares

Masterbatching and Mass Production

There’s been a lot of chatter in the soapy community lately about masterbatching oils and lye water.   As a small scale soaper, I never had the need or material quantities on hand to accomplish such a task.  Over the past year, however, business has steadily grown and I now find myself ordering big ‘ole buckets and drums of oils and soapy materials.  I now see the benefit of having everything pre-mixed!  (Ever lifted a 35lb bucket of coconut oil onto a table?  No bueno.)

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So, I got to it.  I got out all my oils needed for my basic soap and basic shaving soap recipes…

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I melted oils one by one…

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And mixed ’em up in a big ‘ole 5 gallon bucket ($2 and change at Home Depot).

The process itself wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be, although it did take time.  I did not master batch my lye water; I wanted to try one mass-production project at a time!

Once all my oils were mixed, the rest of the day went very quickly!  I prepped molds, protected my surface (old brown paper grocery bags…upcycle kids!!)

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And churned out nine 5 pound batches of soap before 2pm!  I was at that moment convinced!  Masterbatching is a great resource for mass production of soap!

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As I was about half-way through my soaping day, I got a knock on the door…

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It was a fantastic order of soapy supplies!!  Oh what a morning! Included in this shipment was a 35lb bucket of Bramble Berry Lots of Lather quick mix…i.e. oils that are already masterbatched for you!!  The ingredients listed in their mix are very similar to my personal recipe so I decided to give it a try.  Well, I loved it!  I saved time and effort and ended up with a soap batter that soaped beautifully!

Here are bars from each batch of oils…both swirled and soaped like magic!

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I will continue to masterbatch my own oils for shaving soap and a few other soap recipes that I have created for specific purposes however; the quick mix oils are a great resource for the new soaper or for the veteran who wants a basic recipe and doesn’t want to put in the hours it takes to masterbatch their own basic bar blend!

Want to try one of our soap bars for yourself?  Check out our Etsy store online!  New soaps added all the time (well, every couple weeks hehe)!  Bars from this post will be available late July 2013!

-Soap4Squares

If you are mass-producing soap, or just want to save time, and you are interested in masterbatching your soap oils, lye water, or fragrances, Efficiency in Scaling from Amathia Soapworks is a fantastic resource!  Masterbatching is more than just mixing oils in a big bucket (as it may seem in this post) so make sure you read up and are prepared before attempting something of this scale!

Patience and Dealing with Soapy Disappointment

I have always heard patience is a virtue in the science and art of soap making.  And despite my lack of that virtue, so far, I’ve been lucky.  Every batch I have unmolded early turned out OK.  Every time I took a peek at a curing loaf of fresh soap (which is a no-no by the way!), the soda ash that followed wasn’t terribly bad.  Well, my lack of patience has finally gotten the best of me.  *sigh*

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I recently made a delicious smelling batch of pumpkin pie chocolate espresso beer soap (yes, it’s a mouth full, but so worth it!).  I was so excited to get the batch to rest so I could unmold it I forgot to tamp my mold on the counter, i.e. bang the mold a bit to ensure any remaining air bubbles were released from the soap batter.  Again, *sigh*.

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What resulted was a yummy smelling batch of soap with cute little brown sparkle-y swirls…and air bubbles.  Lots of air bubbles!  Again, for a third time, *sigh*

The soap is fine to use however; it looks a little funny in some parts!  :/

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I share this dissapointment with you for two reasons.

1.  Be patient while soaping!  Soap making is an art, yes, but it is also a science and therefore, requires attention to detail and proper process.  Had I paid closer attention to my soaping process, I would have followed normal procedure and tamped my mold after pouring the batter.  The above pictured air bubbles may have been avoided.

2. This soap is not lost!  There are ways to deal with a dissapointing batch of soap!  Never turn your back on your soapy creations!  They’re beautiful to someone in some way!  How you ask?  Grate them down and make laundry soap, grate them down and make rebatch, wrap them up all pretty and give them as gifts (I guarantee your friends and family do not care there is an air bubble in your soap…especially when it’s free!), donate the bars to a charity, or lastly, sell the dern thangs!  Either on sale as an “oops!” or full priced!  Depending on the scale of your oops, resale is possible!

Well, these beauties were for a soap swap in August.  I still plan to use them because they smell so good but, if I have time, I just might pour another batch (hopefully without air bubbles!!) and give these bad boys to friends and family who are always asking about my soapy creations!

In short, stay positive, creative…and patient!!

-Soap4Squares

A Holiday Weekend…

…Filled with…

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Sparklers and attempts to write “RJ”…

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Loungin’ in the grass and stealing momma’s corn…

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Fireworks…

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Patriotic cupcakes!!

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OhSheGlows vegan gluten free brownies (the best part?  When baking vegan, you can lick the bowl!  Great for toddler helpers!)

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An entire day of soaping coupled with delicious soy coffee!!

We hope your long weekend was fabulous!  How did you spend the 4th?