Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stopping to smell the roses

I make and sell soap and bath products, but I also have a "day" job.  Which is why I was looking forward to this past Memorial Day weekend.  I would have lots of time to catch up on all those little details I couldn't seem to find time for.  As I was walking into my backyard to throw something away, my eyes were drawn to the pergola my husband and I built a year ago and the roses we planted around it.

I couldn't believe all the roses that had grown seemingly overnight!  Or had they been there all along and I had been too busy to see them?  Either way I stopped, grabbed my camera, took a deep breath and enjoyed.  I hope you do too.

Yours in Gratitude,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Teaching soapmaking to Chemistry students

I was asked to teach some chemistry students how to make soap this week.  I was in their classroom two days, first to make the soap and the next day to cut it.

The students were able to take the recipe I used and calculate the molarity of the sodium hydroxide solution (9.2 Molar solution), change the ounces of oil used to grams and take the pH of the soap at trace (14). Here are some pictures of these bright students.

Mr. Klein's AP Chemistry class
Hannah mixes the sodium hydroxide
Alana mixes the oils
Hannah slowly pours the NaOH while Alana mixes

Andrew adds the essential oil blend,. We used lime, lavender, eucalyptus and patchouli
The next day, Hannah unwraps the soap while the class watches

Charlie stamps his soap
Sam and his soap

All of the students (and me) with their soap
I had a great time with these kids. They asked insightful questions and really seemed to enjoy learning about the process. Their soap is now curing for four weeks in the classroom.  I'm told the room smells great and the students are anxious to take their soap home!

Yours in Gratitude,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Soap Conference Day 3

My last email to my friends about the conference.

Hi Everyone,

I have mixed feelings. I'm sad to leave but anxious to get home. More workshops today, fun stuff like advanced swirling and making milk soaps, and then some more technical/chemical stuff (stop rolling your eyes, I will spare you the details)  By far the best part of the past few days are the new friendships I have made and the old friends I have been able to catch up with since the last conference. It's amazing to me how well we remember each other even though it has been a year since we have been together. For that I thank Facebook and Twitter. I do love modern technology, even though I struggle with it occasionally.

As a side note, for the first time in my life I can say I made last call in a bar. (So it was a hotel bar and last call was 10:30. I was still there.) 


Allison ( and Kristen (

Delores ( and Jeanine (

Maria (

Cheryl ( and Ruth (

Yours in Gratitude,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Soap Conference Day 2

Here is the email to my friends of my second day at the Soap Conference.

Hi All,

The day starts out great. It ends even better.  Two really great workshops with phenomenal speakers. (Diane Hunke and Ann Evanston Then lunch and more workshops. One of the speakers I really liked, Ann Evanston, said she was doing an impromptu Twitter thingie in the hotel bar. This was not part of the conference. I had a decision to make. Do a workshop on photography and copy writing, or drink at 3 in the afternoon and have fun tweeting with a really cool lady and some new friends. So I get out of character and have a margarita, learn more about social networking , laugh so much it hurts, and make some really great connections. This continues through the "Dinner Extravaganza" with more drinks, laughs and tweets. The. Best. Day. Ever. 
The 3pm Twitter meet-up with Ann Evanston  (photo credit, who knows!)

The March Fourth Marching Band (

Ann with the borrowed skittles vest

Can you believe we all walked through their legs??

Yours in Gratitude,

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Handcrafted Soap Conference 2012 Day 1

The next few days I will be posting an email I sent home to friends while I was away for the 15th annual HSMG Soap Conference ( in Portland Oregon.  I will be adding websites and pictures to the email for you.

Hi Everyone,

This is my second day here, but the first day of the conference. Keynote speaker (Mary Lou Quinlan ) was great, vendors were fun, but the best part of the day were the 2 workshops I did with Marla. We work very well together, I can anticipate what she needs before she know herself (what do you expect, I was trained by doctors)  Both sessions were on formulating creams and lotions (don't look at me with glazed eyes!) and there were over 200 people who attended. Of course they came to see me in my pretty new black apron (with the slogan "Raise the Bar, Use Handcrafted Soap") Believe it or not (because I actually don't believe it myself), I wasn't nervous. I had fun with it. Amazing, huh?

Getting ready to mix up some lotion! (Photo credit to Holly Port)

Two of the vendors (Anne-Marie Faiola of and Debbie May of put on a party after hours called Casino Night. They brought in real dealers and transformed the place into Las Vegas. Roulette, Black Jack, whatever you wanted to play. We all started off with $1000 (fake money, of course).  At the end of the night I had $3425 (I kid you not!)  We turned our money in for raffle tickets which I won absolutely nothing with. It was still a great day.

Anne-Marie Faiola and Debbie May

The dealers took the time to explain the game to those of us who had never played

Party time!

Yours in Gratitude,

Monday, May 7, 2012

Natural Perfume Making

I have always loved scents. I remember getting a perfume kit as a child and making perfumes for my mom and sisters.  A year or two ago, I took some classes with Charna Ethier of Providence Perfume Company ( Charna makes amazing perfumes from essential oils and absolutes. I have six of her creations and can't decide which is my favorite.

This past Friday night I assisted Charna during her Blending Natural Perfumes class which was offered through Back Porch Soap Company in New York City ( It's an easy and enjoyable job.  I welcome her students, collect her materials fee, melt the beeswax/jojoba mixture for the solid perfumes and listen to her teach. It's a joy to watch her inspire her students. Every time I assist her, I learn something new.

Charna talking about top, middle and base notes

 Charna brings many different essential oils and absolutes for her students to experience. She must have a collection of over 100 scents for them to try.  I watch the students faces as they smell the difference between Jasmine sambac and Jasmine grandiflorum. I watch them crinkle their noses at an "unpleasant" odor, only to learn how to use it to make their perfume smell better. And I watch as they learn how to put their own personal stamp on a perfume by creating unique tinctures. They leave with a solid perfume and two liquid perfumes which they've created, a starter kit of basic essential oils for them to play with at home, and so many thoughts and ideas swimming in their heads.

I am already looking forward to the next time Charna comes to teach, are you?  I hope to see you there!

Yours in Gratitude,