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Thursday, May 12, 2016

What I've Been Up To When Not Blogging

Ready soaps and soaps in molds

As much as I love blogging, and have no plans on stopping any time in the foreseeable future, sometimes my life gets too busy to find time to write a blog post, and when I finally do get some down time, all I want to do is veg out instead of writing blog posts...

So what have I been up to this past week when not blogging?

Well, first of all, I realized that, though I'd love to write a foraging book, I still have a lot of work ahead of me before I can finish that book. At the same time, I do want to get a book published already, so I decided to compile a cookbook of foraged recipes, which I will hopefully be able to finish in the next little while. This past week I compiled all the recipes and am working on the text of it, and worked with a graphic artist to get some graphics done for the book. So that took up a large chunk of my week.

Then I found out that there'd be a fair in my community with free stands that anyone could sell things at, no charge. I've been getting into homemade soaps lately and started selling some here and there and figured that setting up a stand with my homemade soaps would be a great way to get my name out there as a soaper in my community, and hopefully make a decent amount of sales.

But... time was short and I had a looming deadline to get all my soaps made.

I had already made a bunch of mocha and lavender soaps, but I had much more still needing to be done.

Lavender soaps made with foraged lavender.


I embarked on a few day soap making marathon to make a bunch of different soaps to have them available for sale.

I decided to try to make as many soaps as possible from foraged plants, thus combining my passions. I also tried making soaps from various items from the grocery store that were able to color soaps and were beneficial to the skin.

Cucumber mint and lemongrass ginger cucumber mint soaps.

Day one of my soap making marathon I made cucumber mint soap, ginger lemongrass, ginger lemongrass cucumber mint, goat's milk, oatmeal, goat's milk oatmeal, Dead Sea mud, and goat's milk Dead Sea mud soaps.

Ginger lemongrass soaps, oatmeal soap, oatmeal goat's milk, and goat's milk soap.
Unfortunately, I made my Dead Sea mud soaps too wet and had to rebatch them, which means making a new batch of soap and using the old soaps in it to make a new, successful batch.

My successfully rebatched Dead Sea soaps.
The next day I rebatched the dead sea soaps and attempted to make a few new types of soaps, including cactus paddle plantain, turmeric, activated charcoal, fig leaf, olive leaf, and pure olive oil soap with goat's milk. Because I wanted to try making the soaps prettier, something that isn't always so easily with the more thick hot process soaps I usually make, I wanted to try doing what is called cold process oven process soap, which is when you make the soap, but instead of cooking it after you reach trace like you would in hot process, you put it in molds at trace, and then bake it at a low temperature in the molds...

Well, I shouldn't have tried this new process when I wanted these soaps available, because, suffice it to say, while the rebatched Dead Sea mud soaps worked out well, nearly all the other soaps flopped, which is annoying, because some came out really cool looking, such as this soap, with a mix of a bunch of different plants in it.

Flopped soap.
What must have happened was that for some soaps, I added too much liquid, so they were too wet. And on top of that, I also must have made the oven too hot, because even after saponifying, the oil and lye separated, making the soap have lots of oil that wasn't saponified, and lots of lye that wasn't used up. This was a pain because nearly none of my wild plant soaps worked... I'm going to need to rebatch nearly every one of the soaps I made... when I have a spare moment to breathe.

Fortunately, of all those soaps, the one I wanted to work most was the cactus paddle plantain soap, and it was successful at least.

Super nourishing and healing soaps.
I had the sale and for my first time ever doing such a stand, I'd say it was a success.



 I not only made a decent amount of sales, I also got my name out there as someone who makes and sells soaps, so hopefully people that bought for the first time will be repeat customers, and others that didn't buy will do so in the future.


On top of the book writing and soap making, I also taught a private foraging class to a group of preschool kids, and also taught a group foraging class today to a bunch of people, and have another private class lined up tomorrow.


Working hard, really hard, to be honest.

I'm exhausted.

But... the money certainly has been worth it!

PS- If anyone is local to me and wants to buy my homemade soaps, email me at pennilessparenting@yahoo.com.

Alternatively, if anyone is interested in buying soaps from me and is not local, I am also willing to ship overseas.

I charge $4 per 3.5 oz/100 gram bar for most soaps, plus shipping, which isn't expensive at all ($3-$6 for shipping- up to 1 lb is $3. up to 2 lb is $5, up to 4 lb is $6).

I have certain soaps already available, and also make specific types upon request.

So, what have you been up to lately? Done anything specifically extra frugal or to make extra money? If you've ever made soaps, have you had batches that flopped? Do you know why?

10 comments:

  1. How can we order from you. Do you have any that you could use on hair for dry scalp?

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    1. All of mine are extra moisturizing and would be good for a dry scalp. Send me an email to pennilessparenting@yahoo.com to discuss ordering.

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  2. I made another batch of homemade dishwasher detergent tabs this week. I use my automatic dishwasher only twice or at the most 3 times per week (hand washing the rest). But I couldn't make as many tabs this time because I ran out of washing soda/soda ash. Then I read about a way to turn baking soda into washing soda (in the oven). So I'm going to try that next time! It's fun to read about your home making adventures.

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    1. Awesome! How do you make your dishwasher tabs?

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  3. Love the idea of using foraged materials for the soap. Best of luck to you with this new business. I will be contacting you about how to purchase.

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  4. I loved this post! Glad to see that you're using your skills & resources to make some money. I'm a homemaker and enjoy homemaking, but sometimes it can get boring. Starting a small business venture can make life a little more exciting. :) I started selling baked goods at a local farmers market last year. On average, after costs I only made about $20 per week. However, this year I have a place to sell other things that I make- soap, like you, as well as produce, eggs and books that I write. My first week this year I made about $70 after costs. It's not a fortune, but selling things I produce at home allows us to eat free food (other people paying for chicken feed, goat hay, etc.) and being at the market gets my name out there as a craftsman/artisan. Plus, like I said before, it makes life more interesting. :)

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  5. This is awesome! 2 questions...do you ever make Tea tree soap and do you make liquid soap (like I could put in a dispenser for handsoap? I am addicted to tea tree!!

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  6. What do you use for dish soap? I haven't been able to find an acceptable DIY alternative...

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