Thursday, 4 December 2014

Where Have We Been?

I've been quiet...too quiet.
But I promise you that there is a good reason for it, and I promise you that a much awaited update will be happening in the next few weeks.
Alright, now that that's out of the way....


Lets talk about SOAP!



The best part about being a soap maker, isn't making your own hours.

Sure, it's nice. But sometimes my hours are stretched over long periods of time. Sometimes I wake up ridiculously early...so I soap. Or I wake up late, and stay up late. So I soap.
Some of the best times I've had, have been at 2 in the morning pouring 40 bars.

Or 3 in the morning making face lotions.
Or wrapping soap.
Or making labels.
Or fighting with some computer component or another.

Or going with four hours sleep to a market the next day because I didn't have all my ducks in a row the night before. (I do try but these past nine months have been a whirl-wind of ideas that I've been trying to cram into the last few months - with the goal of having them at least somewhat conceptualized by January 1st.)

My best stretch of production was 500 bars in a week, because I just had to get all my creativeness out and into those creamy bars.

No joke. I soaped all day and all night for three days straight.
Then I took a day off and caught up on that sleep - after of course I cut all that soap into bars.



Maybe the best part about being a soap maker, is making the soap.

No. Well I mean yes, but I mean no.

The best part about being a soap maker, is experimenting.
Calculating and formulating my own recipes so that I know exactly what is in each product I make. And believe it or not, I love doing the research; and reading. (Not everyone likes that part of it, but I however find it fascinating...)

I love being able to offer that kind of personal-accountability; and being able to say that I formulated a certain recipe for a specific reason and that my recipes are all 100% original recipes that I have designed myself.

So basically what I'm telling you is that the reason for my radio silence is nothing other than research induced and soap addictions; oh and trying to make our website more user friendly. Actually, the entire website has been getting a face-life (which I've been working on in bits and pieces, which is why it's taken me so long) so please don't take it personally.

I hope that you love it as much as I do - and I hope to have it live before Christmas.

We have a lot of new and exciting things to offer you this coming new year, and I hope you'll stay tuned to hear all about them!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Lavender & Lime Exfoliating Body Bars


That's a mouthful isn't it?

Lavender & Lime Exfoliating Body Bars - DIY.

So what's a body bar and how do you use it?

It's a lot like a solid lotion bar, with exfoliating bits of goodness in it to slough away dry and dead skin and leave you soft and supple. Fantastic for using in the shower pre-shaving your legs, or as a treatment bar for rough spots: elbows and heels. Now, because it has exfoliants in it, you won't want to use this after your shower because then you'll be covered in bits. You'll want to rinse the bits off. This is a before, or in the shower product.




As a maker of things, I often get requests for custom products.

This is probably because I tell all of my friends and customers, "Hey, if you ever have anything you're looking for specifically - let me know, I'll make it!"

This has led to numerous experiments and concoctions.

Seriously.

Recently a dear friend of mine who lives in Edmonton Alberta, asked if I could make a version of her favourite "buffing" lotion bar from a popular lush-esque store. I've purchased from this store before but I hadn't noticed their lotions bars.

SO I googled.

And I found a dupe recipe from the Oats and Honey Blog from back in 2008 - which was a great place for me to start with a  base recipe for the tweaking. I have made solid body butters (with beeswax) so I was familiar with the process, however, this recipe doesn't use beeswax, so I didn't either.

The original recipe called for equal parts of cocoa butter & Shea butter. (I'm not sure why spell check wants to capitalize Shea but not cocoa - sheeeesh grammar police.) I checked my stash of materials and I had just enough natural cocoa butter to make a two-bar test batch, so I thought I'd start with that. But, rather than do equal parts, I opted for more cocoa butter and less Shea butter for a harder end product. This particular Shea butter I have is very soft, sticky even., and I didn't want the bar to be too soft.

You can substitute these for other butters that you have on hand. Please note that cocoa butter and coconut oil are not the same thing. You could use mango butter, aloe butter, kokum butter...got me? Based on the hardness of your butters, you might have to tweak the recipe to get the desired finished product that you want. This particular ratio worked for me. (Like I said, my Shea butter is very soft).

I did roughly:
1.5 parts cocoa butter
1 part Shea butter

Melt the cocoa butter on low heat until it is liquid. Remove from heat and add the Shea butter. You want the Shea butter to melt off of the heat. Shea butter can (and does!) turn grainy if you overheat it. So, I'm always sure to melt my Shea butter last, in the warmness of the other oils.

Then it came to the exfoliants. The original recipe called for ground rice, ground almonds, ground adzuki or red kidney beans, then lavender & lemon essential oils. I did follow the original proportions of 80% butters to 20% exfoliants though I didn't use the exact exfoliants.

I thought long and hard about the ground rice and beans - and if those would somehow cause a problem in the future, you know, clogging your drain or something equally as horrendous that results in the forced manual labour of the drain-cleaning variety.I decided I was only using a little bit - and that with the exfoliants being finely ground - this shouldn't be an issue.

I didn't have almonds or the adzuki beans. And having never used this product, I figured that if we were going for the exfoliating and skin softening properties, that I would add a different exfoliant.

So here is where I switched up the recipe quite a bit...

About 2 TBS ground rice
About 1 TBS ground lavender.
About 1 TSP dried organic lime peel

After the melted butters had cooled and started to thicken, I stirred in ground rice and the ground lavender, dried organic lime peel, making sure to incorporate it completely into the butters. Then I let it cool and thicken a little bit more, and added the essential oils.
*I used dried lime peel because I had it, and because I intend to use this product quickly and for personal use.

Adding your essential oils when the mixture is cooler, will keep them from burning off.

I scented it with Lavender, Key Lime & Patchouli Essential Oils. Because you know me, all about the patch. You could use any essential oils that you wanted to. The original recipe called for 2% of essential oils. You could even leave this totally unscented if you wanted to.

If you have a raw natural cocoa butter (like I do) then the cocoa scent is nice on its own.

You can cool this mixture in the freezer if you're impatient, or you can leave them on the counter, covered, until they harden.

To use this, I broke off a piece and massaged it between my hands before applying. You could also use the bar directly like a soap bar.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Happy Bright Shiny New Year 2014

I had this resolution - which wasn't even a resolution but more-like...a goal.
I had intentions of singing Auld Lang Syne this New Years, because who even knows the words? Not many people. I wanted to know the words. I sang it in the shower, wrong probably, but who cares anyway? So instead, I wish you Merry Tidings of happiness, oodles of love and all that other fun stuff.

I hope this 2014 has brought positive changes to you and your piece of the world. I hope you ate lots of wonderful food, had a few Bailey's (or a Vodka, whatever), and spent some time with your family! I also hope that you haven't gotten caught up in the "typical resolutions" because everyone whose ever had a resolution knows that such a scary and intimidating day, such as January 1st, is a terribly cliche and pressure-filled day all in itself without the added stress of trying new things, or stopping old things. Whatever, I'm eating an extra-large Chocolate bar right now, so I'm not judging sister!

It is January 2014, the soap shoppe is in order, the shelves are filling, and Farmer's Market season is fast approaching!! There are a lot of exciting things happening this coming year, and I can't wait to update and share all of it with you! But today, I'm not doing that.... Today I'm going to give you a few teasers on what we've been up to.


 Soap!Ooohh, Ahhhh..... Australian Red Reef Clay & Australian Black Clay swirled with Kaolin Clay...and scented with Lemongrass & Grapefruit? Oh baby....Detoxification to the max. Just one of the new additions to the Hand Maid Soap Family.

 You might have already seen these if you visited our Facebook Page and snooped through the pictures. Do it! That's what they're there for!

Are you wearing Patchouli?
However, if you're not a fan of the Patch, then you won't be interested in the latest treat we've found, vintage 2006... 

You might rather hear about oriental musk layered in myrrh and then wrapped around black pepper & cedar wood?

Or perhaps the citrus blend...
Oh yes, this farmers market season you're going to want to lend your nose to the perfumery pleasures.



Keep those Kisser's in Shape!
Yeah, you!
Because traditional chapsticks are over-rated, and you should be able to read the ingredients of everything you put on and in, your body.



Our Lip Butter's include more beeswax, more Shea & Cocoa butters, and the delicate touch of Organic Golden Jojoba Oil, to moisturise even the chapped-ed-est, driest, and weather-damaged lips when you've forgotten your Lip Protection. 


Pump up the Volume, with Beer Shampoo.
Oh you know, just had a beer in the shower with me this morning....because I'm classy like that.

 My god, all the shampoo bars in my bathroom....



Oh, but I can't go ahead and tell you all about all the new creations right now, can I?

No, This is just a glimpse into some of the things we'll be covering this up and coming year, and just a snapshot of the products that are filling the shelves for the upcoming season :)

Oh....all right, one more teaser..... :)



Thursday, 11 April 2013

Oh, why hello there!

Honestly, the best way to start this blog post, is with the reader in mind. And with the reader in mind, I extend my deepest apologies for the time we have been away. It's been quite a few months since the last blog post, but that doesn't mean soap things have come to a halt. In fact quite the opposite.

For the past few months, we've been researching and pilot testing some new products, some new and exciting products! Over the next few months these will be available on the Hand-Maid website; which has also experienced a recent face lift (with natural methods of course, like Rosehip Oil & Pumpkin Seed Oil). But lets not give too much away just yet.

The soap shoppe is still under construction, but that's okay because we've been keeping busy with making sure we have stock available and new soaps for our customers.  I've been up to my ears in books, journals and essential oils, and making soaps to satisfy my addiction because anyone who has a passion, understands that even if your life stops for a moment, your passions never do. They just get suppressed, or temporarily forgotten about until you can stand it no longer, and break down and give in to the need to make soap. Or do whatever it is, that your passion is. Paint. Quilt. Upholster. Collect things you don't need. 

Ah, and then there will be a shoppe. We hope to have it completed before the start of summer, so that we can get a few good solid months of summer & soap making :) But, I make no promises - as the soap shoppe is being put together by a few good men who have a lot of projects to tackle this summer. Thank you to the men who have donated their time, muscles & materials, it is greatly appreciated!

So until then, we will continue to bring you all-natural soaps & body products in the best way that we can :) And for now, I'll leave you with the new Fifty Shades of Grey Soap, and the new Root Beer Float Soap.

Root Beer Float Soap, Hand-Maid

Fifty Shades of Grey Soap, Hand-Maid




Sunday, 30 September 2012

Hand-Maid, On Hiatus

But not for long! I promise!

This is that time where we close temporarily to revamp, reinvent, and reformulate, some of your favorite products to use, and our favorite products to make. We're hoping to have our new creations on our craft tables and in your bathrooms before Christmas. We'll be taking this time to renovate, build & upgrade as well. (wahoo!)

In true style as with taking a hiatus, the best way to get a hold of us is by email: handmaid.soaps@gmail.com.

We'll be updating our Upcoming events as soon as we've planned our Christmas markets and we'll post them so you'll know where to pick up all of your favorite handmade soaps & body products this holiday season.

Please bear with us & we look forward to seeing you soon! :)


Saturday, 25 August 2012

Shea Butter - Body Creme's & Body Butters

Body butter is one of those products that every woman loves to love, or loves to hate. Too heavy. Too greasy. Too perfume-y. Too drying. Perfect Consistency. Perfect Absorbency. Perfect Smell. Like I said, one of those things. And if you're like me then you've tried nearly every body butter out there, aside from the odd one with a strange label that makes you wonder - just how bad this could potentially be. You've probably tried butters from Lush, the Body Shop, Victoria Secret, Wal Mart, Fruits &/of Passion (I can never remember which it is), Nivea, etc...the list goes on.

This blog is not a review of any of those products. At one point or another I picked up an unknown name of body butter, with ingredients such as parabens, propyl & butyl's, sterate's, & perfumes. Fillers. Yuck. No wonder my significant other couldn't use this cream on his sunburn. And perhaps there's a reason it burned after shaving. Either way it was time for a body butter. Plus, I will say that for summer every year previous I purchase my mother the largest container of coconut body cream - with the best ingredients. And my preferred choice of coconut lotion, was, The Body Shop. However, this was the first summer I made her some - and I have to say, I have fallen in love with whipped body butter... I also made a version in Citrus for my mother in law, who I have to say - really is the ultimate consultant on body butters.



But whether its summer time and your slathering yourself in Coconut scented creams, or winter time, and your rocking the vanilla & citrus lotions - at some point, perhaps your legs get dry when you shave. Or they itch. Or maybe you get razor burn. This might have something to do with the frequency in which you shave...? Perhaps you're a "once a week in the winter" and "7 days a week in the summer" kind of shaver, in which case, you legs need some replenishing at some point.

So why not replenish with something made up of whole, pure, natural, & organic ingredients? Why not replenish with the oils & butters that the Earth has naturally? I'm one of those people who believes in balance.
For almost every ailment we can experience - there is a herb, vegetable, spice, botanical, clay or salt that brings relief. For every cause there is an effect/affect. For every action there is a reaction. So basically what I'm saying.....is that for dry skin, and for fresh shaved legs - there is a butter :) or an oil.

Lets first address Coconut Oil. Solid usually at room temperature, and more liquid as it warms up. And if you've been having a summer like we have, then the coconut oil is extremely soft and melts instantly when touched. Coconut oil is great for replenishing moisture for your skin - it's one of those products that I use all year round. Winter, or summer. It's great for keeping away razor burn, sitting in the sun (not that I recommend you hang out in the sun...), sun burns, and dry skin. In the winter it's great for keeping your skin hydrated and from getting scaly.

Shea Butter. A nice thick sticky butter. A little too sticky to just apply on its own my in opinion, but excellent for creating a barrier and holding IN the moisture. Shea Butter is used in different parts of the world for a 100% Soap, and for a 100% lotion. It's great for dry sensitive skin, as it has a mild natural scent (or maybe just the stuff I've been getting is mild, or maybe I just like the smell.) and shouldn't cause any irritations.

Sunflower Oil. High in Vitamin E, and shown to stave on infections in infants when used as a total body moisturizer. Plus its a light and a soft oil - unlike Olive Oil - which I personally find too greasy as a body oil. BUT.

Lets stepup my first and foremost newest favorite oil - Grapeseed oil. What a lovely light oil, that makes a wonderful lotion when used in this recipe. And you can use it for cooking. Or blending your own massage oils. Or in place of butter if it's one of those days when you thought rice, asparagus & peas would make excellent additions to your dinner - only to realize, you're out of butter... Yes, it works.

Below is a recipe for a DIY Shea Butter Body Lotion. This recipe varies slightly from the recipe at Hand-Maid - Whipped Body Creme, but its a great starter point for an at home body Lotion.

100 grams Shea Butter
50 grams Coconut Oil
50 grams Sunflower/Grapeseed Oil (or really any other oil of your choice. Rosehip Oil, Almond Oil, etc).

Essential Oils if you wish..

Melt Coconut Oil, and add the Shea butter off of the heat - so that it melts just from the heat of the melted coconut oil. If you over heat Shea butter, it can turn grainy - and grainy isn't the texture you're looking for. Once melted, add the liquid oil and stir until combined. At this point, I had let the mixture harden up - and popped it in the freezer.. and thought I would use it as is. However, it was chunky....and so I decided to try whipping the mixture, in which case I hoped the chunks would smooth out - I hadn't anticipated on what it would actually do or how much lotion I'd actually end up with, but I liken the experience to whipped cream.

So, out came my trusty Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (thank you dad) which has met every expectation a person could ever have for a mixer - and whipped the body butter into a delightfully light body cream. I used the whisk attachment and put it on 6, and I let it whip until it was smooth as silk, and formed peaks. If you were adding essential oils, then this would be the stage you add them. The mixture has cooled, and you won't risk losing any essential oil properties or burning them off.

For someone who likes to cook and create - I've probably used the Kitchenaid more for soap & body related endeavors than chocolate chip cookies.

Now don't get me wrong - this can be oily if you slather it on like traditional body creams. BUT, the key is to only use enough so that it absorbs into the skin. And remember - there are no preservatives, so you should use this as soon as possible, within 6 months to a year. Don't go adding watter - this will decrease your shelf life. Don't go using grubby fingers, this will decrease your shelf life.



But. I guarantee that if you fall into the category of women who love it - you'll use it up far before it could ever go bad. Above, is 100grams of whipped body creme, and I used it entirely in 3 weeks, I was a bit excessive though...

It's gotten a little bit chilly here, so enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. It's still August, but Fall is on its way...

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Indulgences: Fifty Shades of Grey

Last month I indulged in a bit of extracurricular reading which included reading the entire trilogy of "Fifty Shades of Grey" over the span of 4 days. I'm like that, a bit excessive when I get reading. Plus, I'm a sucker for a book, any kind of book really. Reading has always been a favorite pastime of mine.

My girlfriend Robyn and I embarked on a Ladies Day in Jasper, which included sinfully indulgent Peach Bellini's & Jasper's Finest Fudge (No, I'm not wondering where those extra five pounds came from). Of course accompanied by the worlds best girl chat which included Magic Mike & Fifty Shades of Grey. I wonder if any woman has had a conversation in the last month, that didn't involve the innerworkings of Fifty Shades...or the previews for Magic Mike.

This soap is lightly scented with Orange, Verbena, Cinnamon & a touch of Star Anise.  This soap turned out to be a nice soft scent. 


Fifty Shades of Grey Soap
Hand-Maid.ca

I also indulged in lots of soap making - and was able to dedicate some time to experimenting with some of the new ingredients from the last soap order. I also wanted to make just a plain, white bar of soap - so I finally sat down and did. Well not sat, because you don't really sit in a soap shoppe. In fact, you stand quite a bit.

I try to offer a diverse amount of soaps, and especially for those with sensitive skin. It doesn't really matter how sensitive your skin is, if you have even just the slightest bit of eczema or the worst case of the itchies - I like to think that I have, or can have, something that you can use on your skin. This is a simple, white bar of soap.


Simple Soap
Hand-Maid.ca
And all of this talk of coffee in the last few posts left us with just two bars of Vanilla Latte Soap - and so it was time to replenish the Kitchen & Gardener's soap for the upcoming markets. As you also read, I have a long term serious relationship with Espresso....no this hasn't changed since the last post. And I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't indulged in a Starbucks or two.....or three (even with a persistent cold that would NOT let up) or that I hadn't made latte's at home a few evenings after dinner.

This soap has Vanilla & Coffee Essential Oils, with dark accents of Cocoa Absolute on top. Since this soap is mainly made for hands - it has ground espresso & Tahitian Vanilla Beans - for exfoliating, and coffee is great for removing smells (like onions) from a Chef's hands. Or, you can stainless-steel it like the pro's do.

Vanilla Latte Soap
Hand-Maid.ca

I also indulged in my significant other...'s requests for a plain soap with a good exfoliant. So after poking around in my box of goodies, I came across ground walnuts which I normally save for body scrubs - but upon saying "ground walnuts......" I didn't get much further and the decision was made for ground walnut soap. We'll be trying this one in the shower here shortly, as it cures on and on for a few more weeks.


Walnut Soap
Hand-Maid

You can see more of the August Soaps that we've been making and experimenting with over on our Facebook page - I've uploaded more pictures there for your viewing pleasure.

With that, I leave you with your own indulgences.