Is that lye soap?

Ruth Esteves, a soapmaker, blogger and teacher, wrote a wonderful piece on her blog about lye in soap.  She graciously gave permission for me to share it here.

“Soapmakers often get asked about the use of lye in their soap. The fact is that lye is indeed used to make soap. While in many minds, “lye soap” brings up images of grandmas and washboards and red, red hands, anyone who has used handmade soap knows that it is quite mild and moisturizing. Sound like a contradiction? Well, the truth is that the lye was there, but now it’s gone. Is it magic? Sort of. It’s chemistry!”

To learn more, check out Ruth’s blog.


I am certified!

No, not what you’re thinking.  In April, I attended the 2014 Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetics Guild conference in Tuscon, AZ.  Four fabulous days of whirlwind learning, meeting soapmakers from around the world, and enjoying an incredible resort, Loews Ventana Canyon.  One of my goals was to pass the exams for my advanced cold process/hot process soapmaker certification.  I am thrilled to announce I did indeed get certified!  This involved not only a written exam, but creating and making a recipe, all the associated recordkeeping, and submitting the soap for judging.  I received a 100% on my soap.  So, when you use one of my soaps, you can be assured I know the how and why of making an awesome bar of soap.

Here are a few pics of  the area I stayed.  When this resort was built, they didn’t move any Saguaros.  They built around them.




cactus and flowers, tuscon 2014

New soaps!

Here are some of my latest soaps.  I haven’t posted in so long, figured I should update this blog.

If you’re a gardener or work and get your hands dirty, this is the ticket.  My new Coffee Kitchen & Garden Soap.  Made with luxurious soothing and moisturizing oils, fresh strong coffee, and the coffee grinds.  Lightly scented with essential oils.  You’ll love this soap.

coffee kitchen & garden soap II



I got a new mold and have been played with that.  Here are two new soaps that have you dreaming of summer in Talkeetna.  Goes without saying, full of the best skin loving oils, tie dye, and a scent that says groovin’ in Talkeetna.

rainbow squeeze swirl 1 & 2


And, another new round mold.  This is a fabulous rose geranium, jasmine, lavender and patchouli blend.  Incredible!  (Sort of cosmic looking, don’t you think?)


Talkeetna Rose Soap


My, where does the time go…

Gardening, making soap, lip balms, body creams, sewing. That’s where it goes!
A big deal for us is that we are getting two high tunnels this year. They are en route and should be here this coming week. Should vastly improve our gardening and extend our season. So excited.

If you haven’t seen them, my soaps are getting a new look. A craggy top reminiscent of our beautiful Alaska range.

lavender rosemary mint soap 6.22.14


Sewing is so satisfying.    Here’s a recent block I’ve been working on.  I just love the stars and the fabric.  The technique is called Disappearing Hourglass by Jenny Doan of the Missouri Star Quilt Co. She is a kick and makes some great tutorials.


Disappearing pinwheels blocks



Recent sewing projects

A few things I’ve been working on for me and for family.  With my wonderful Janome 7700 and her partner Babylock Jane, I can accomplish so much, easier and in far less time.

This is a quilt I’m working on.  It’s not sewn together yet; still working on the layout.  After a while, I get dizzy from so many options.  I adore this fabric.

in the park quilt

Here’s another one, blocks in progress.  I think I like the yellow centers; looks like blazing suns.  If my son and his wife like these, it will be for them.

New York Beauty blocks

More options with another project.  I love piecing these stars.


This is a little pincushion owl in progress.  She’s a bit saggy, need to add more stuffing.  This was a free Craftsy pattern download.  A plug for Craftsy here.  It is an amazing site with tons of online classes.  The classes are professionally done and videoed with excellent instructors.


So, out to sew.  Will post more pics later.

Update:  Here’s my owl finished.



Soaping glitch

I haven’t made soap for a couple weeks; been working at my “real” job a lot. Today was the day. It’s been windy and cold here. We have a woodstove in the shop where I soap and it wasn’t really warm yet, but I started. Got my lye mixed and cooling, then started to weigh the liquid oils. Hmm, frozen. As frozen as oils can be. I put the bottle on the wood stove, where the fire was sputtering along. And then, the power went out. Very dark in my windowless room. I mixed micas by flashlight till I dropped it and it wouldn’t work. As my oils were melting on the woodstove, my scale timed out. So, quick calculating to figure out how much more oil I needed. Finally, I got enough oil and figured I’d pour the lye over the oils to melt them. No, temp there 64 degrees. Finally realized even if I got the oils to the right temp, no power meant no stick blender :*( Finally, power back, made my soap and I think it may be … pretty. We’ll see. Too much drama.  Cutting tomorrow.

New soap coming

I’ve been asked throughout the past year for my Denali Granite soap in a more “girlie” scent.   After lots of thought and experimenting, I think I’ve  got it, by golly. Scented in Blackberry Sage and with swirls of beautiful red clay and of course those great vanilla bean seeds, here it is.   Just cut, so not ready until February 23. If you like an exfoliating, scrubby type soap that is still gentle and good for your skin, take a look at this one. It will clean grime and grease without being harsh on your hands. The blackberry sage scent is fantastic. Blackberry, but grownup and wonderful.


girlie granite picmonkey