the ramblings of my journey through life, following my passion and enjoying the adventure

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Peter Rabbit, carrots and soap

Our parents warned us about going blind if we did not eat our carrots! Well mine had to constantly, I literally despised peas, carrots and broccoli, no matter in what form or in any disguise my Mom would dish it up. Not even Dad's take on the story of Peter Rabbit, desperately squeezing under Mr. McGregor’s fence to 'borrow' some eye sight saving carrots, moved me into eating carrots without me pumping my lips with enough air pressure to fully inflate the tractor tires of a carrot farmer. My Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail come in the form of two older brothers, and while I have many food related stories and fond childhood memories to divulge about them, none actually feature them also having to sit at the table and "finish those veggies or no pudding"! Either they were more adept at feeding their 'unwanted' vegetables under the cover of a tabletop to the pets; maybe they had wisened up to the fact that getting past Mom's rules was futile, wasted time that could of been spent playing (not to mention that sitting on your butt for ages is not good for your blood circulation or your mood); or food that was meant to be eaten hot tasted far better than when cold. Being boys, they were probably just constantly hungry!

yudhika soap
organic carrot puree for natural colour

I'm sure we have all heard of the numerous health benefits of carrots. Getting their name from the ingredient which gives them that beautiful orange colour - beta carotene, great for healthy .... yup... younger looking skin as beta carotene is an important antioxidant nutrient. Its antioxidant action helps to act against age accelerating free radicals, fighting cell damage in the body. These antioxidants, potassium, Vitamins A, C and K and other nutrients contained in carrots nourish the skin, preventing dry skin and other skin blemishes.

yudhika soap
blend of citrus and floral essential oils

Now I don't know if Mom, as a young mother 40 or 50 odd years ago, knew about antioxidants and free radicals, or had even heard of them, or if she even knew why they are so good for us, just as I don't know for certain if substituting carrot puree for the liquid part in soapmaking has any skin benefits. What I do know is that it makes a good bar of soap with a beautiful, natural colour.

rice milk and kaolin clay add to the silky feel

I've got to wonder if being a soapmaker herself, had she known that carrots are not only healthy but also can be used in soap, if I might have seen less of them on my plate!  
yudhika soap
...makes for a good soap

Bless all mothers who without even knowing, "just know it's good for you because I said so"!

 Greetings from Cape Town
x Cynthia x

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

oat bastille soap

Although bubbles are so good, I love a soap that has more of a creamy lather and can quite happily forgo a bar of soap that has a needless abundance of bubbles, especially for a facial bar.

As we all know, a Castille Soap, although very creamy can feel somewhat slimy (an acquired liking for some). And thats where a Bastille Soap steps up to the plate and is more to my liking.

oat bastille soap

With a minimum of 70% olive oil for its gentle cleansing properties, it allows a soapmaker to have more play with the qualities of the finished soap with the remaining 30% blend of oils.

oat bastille soap
 Although not scented with any essential or fragrance oils, the added oatmilk and colloidal oats imparts a subtle fragrance. The verdict is still anxiously awaited on whether the Kaolin clay which was added on the spur of the moment will be a future additive.

Which is your preference, a Castille or Bastille soap?

Greetings from Cape Town
x Cynthia x

Thursday, August 9, 2012

highs and lows

Over the last couple of months I have had some very unwelcome inhabitants in my soap kitchen. Sometime in a soap makers adventures these little gremlins are present and quickly move on to greener pastures, leaving in their wake a batch or in my case batches of soap that you end up fragrancing your garbage can with. Yup, they are unsalvagable ..... is that a word ...... the ones that result in undesirable or unusable soap. All my mantra's, soap dancing, various genre's of music, silent prayers, loud ones too, and a plethora of threats thrown in for good measure probably had them in fits of laughter, entertaining them to bits and ensuring their stay to be lengthened. And some culprit was feeding them as they went from gremlins to devastating ogres. There were so many different issues that my silent nervous breakdowns were having a hard time categorising themselves.

"Jasmine" in all its glory sporting a crackled effect.

Let me just add here that these are part of restocking my standard line, no new ingredients, techniques or going out on a limb with a different or untried recipe.

"Chai" with an overly zealous attitude to outshining all participants in the crackle contest.

So in between the restocking with a batch here ....hmmph....... and there passing a quality control test, new products in the pipeline that I am hoping to branch out with have also been thrown into the mix; (thanks to all the willing human guinea pigs), sourcing jars, bottles and containers and designing labels etc. And a new addition to the "family" in the form of a website is ready to go, awaiting photos of products. 
While watching available stock levels dwindle, I went from panic to frantic to sabbatical. Not having lined up any markets gave me a certain peace in the decision, and I enjoyed the respite, allowing me to play with test batches of colour, fragrances, palm free recipes and infusions.
Last week I upped the ante and started soaping for real and threw out the challenge to the first restock soap that if she plays nicely with me she will get a new name.

Take a bow "Mucking Afazing"!

I'm typing this in a whisper, but I think the soap gremlins have left the building.

Greetings from Cape Town


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I wonder if there is a soapmaker who has not added Marigold petals to their soaps. As soapmakers we all know the fragrance it gives to a soap, the natural color it imparts, as well as it's beneficial properties.

These hardy, robust, non-fussy plants bring sunshine and color to any garden. Marigolds are used in many cultures for festivals, rituals and daily worshipping.

Also called Calendula, it is the October birth flower, meaning the first day of the month. This refers to the fact that the Marigold blooms at the beginning of a month throughout most months of the year.


During the conservative Victorian era, it was considered totally inappropriate to express feelings of love or affection, and it is said that the 'language of flowers' originated in this period, enabling a lover to convey a hidden romantic meaning.


The meaning of the Marigold flower symbolises sorrow or sympathy.

Go figure that the hidden message would be "My thoughts are with you"!

For you, a bunch of marigolds!

Greetings from Cape Town.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

adzuki bean powder

Some more Asian inspired ingredients used in this batch, and used some finely ground Adzuki Bean powder for a mild scrub, gently exfoliating the skin. The powder is reported to have been used in Japanese skin regimes for centuries to enhance the complexion, drawing out impurities and promoting circulation.

The alluring earthy spicy fragrance comes from a blend of patchouli, amyris and sandalwood essential oils.

I love the lingering, sensual and inspiring to the senses fragrance it leaves on my skin. Then again, I am being biased, as I know it comes from my dwindling bottle of precious (read expensive) Sandalwood.

Warm greetings from Cape Town, South Africa.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

rice milk in handmade soap

Rice has traditionally been considered a source of beauty in Asian countries. Many of their beauty products have rice based ingredients added, from rice powder/flour to rice milk. As the folklore story goes, the female workers who spent many hours in the sun working the rice paddies, would use the water that was left over from washing the rice to bathe in and wash their faces.


Today, starch and oil from rice are extensively being used in cosmetics and hygiene products. Rice bran oil has gained a strong and loyal following with many soap makers, having a good source of Vitamin E and antioxidants and imparts a silky smoothness to soaps.

Liking the soaps that I have made where I have used rice bran oil up to 5% of oil weight, I was curious to see what rice water or milk would do in soap.  Steeping my brown rice in mineral water, stirring every now and again, I left it overnight to find a very thin textured, off white diluted liquid the next morning. Referred to as rice milk by some, and rice water by others, I decided to treat it as a milk and freeze it in ice trays, reckoning the starch from the rice would produce sugar which might make a 'very hot' undesirable lye mixture. It stank, it HEATED up, it caused me moments of frantic panic and scrambling for a second lot of ice cubes for the ice bath, all the while leaving me very sceptical that I would have a successful batch of soap, let alone that it would add anything to the soap.

Rice milk soap unmolded and cut.

Nice and white, lemon, bergamot and peppermint essential oils.

Rice milk soap after 8 week cure.

It's smooth and silky, creamy and lathers like crazy. The rice milk is an ingredient I really loved working with and will try it again (hopefully more prepared for the lye reaction) with an essential oil blend that will keep the 'milky white' look!

Greetings from Cape Town!

Friday, January 6, 2012

what's not to love!

Tea Tree essential oil is one of those EO's that you either love or hate! And I have to say it's an EO that I love using in my soaps. I have to admit though, when I used it for the first time way back when my eldest son's skin broke out in his teenage years, the tea tree oil soap was branded as 'Brendon's pimple soap' and no one in the family liked the smell! Then it became 'Quinton's soap', and by that time it was being used not only by Brendon and Quinton on their faces, but also in the shower as well by all the males in the household. I was still not sold on this medicinal scent, especially as I had all the other gorgeous EO combinations to try!

When my youngest son Rowan glided (his transition was a walk in the park!) into his teenager years, aside from the legs that just seemed to never intend to stop growing and an appetite of jaw dropping proportions, his battle with acne was the most traumatic. As his face, neck and back went from 'to be expected' to 'bad' and 'worse', we progressed from doctor's appointments to 'acne' and visits to a skin specialist. Over the ensuing years, so the soap ingredients started to change. This soap recipe originally started out with olive, coconut and palm oils and was a plain white soap. In conjunction with the medication that Rowan was taking, on advice from the skin specialist, the recipe was loaded with moisturising oils and even butters (who would of thought!) at various stages of the medical treatment.

Today, the three boys are all grown men, and although their skins are past the 'tea tree oil for problem skin' stage, the clean medicinal scent has grown on the whole family.

Olive, coconut, sunflower, palm, castor and sweet almond oils, tea tree essential oil, parsley powder for some colour (go green!), throw in some 'waste not bits' and we love it!

Greetings from Cape Town, South Africa!