Monday, 13 May 2013

Keepin' the dream alive

Hello! I am determined to keep blaggling (that's a new word I just invented (I know, get me, right?), a Very Clever combination of blogging and babbling) until someone other than me is contributing to my page views, if only out of morbid curiosity. (Slow down, blog passers-by, and watch the train wreck unfold!)

I kid, I kid. I dare not assume I'm anything like as interesting as a traffic accident. Nor, I hope, as potentially tragic.

Humour in terribly poor taste aside, I did a little hair experiment today, courtesy of la cocobong, whose blog I recently read from start to (unfortunate and too soon) finish. Yes, I know, very exciting. But it was something different to do with my ablutionary routine while I await the day I can finally start making nice bathy things.

The verdict?  Not so hot so far, but there are several factors which may have affected my experience.

  The main result that displeased me was that my hair was really staticky when I blow-dried it. I elected not to put any product into it (with this cut, I usually put all sorts of gunk in there), as I wanted to see what it looked like with nothing standing in the way, so to speak. At first, it seemed to be quite, um, body-ful, which was grand but it didn't last. The static lasted, though, while the rest has gone a bit flat.  My hair is colour-treated (very), so I don't wash it every day, but this time I actually hadn't washed it since Friday as I was away all weekend and zipping about on coaches and around London and whatnot. It was only one extra day, but maybe it needed more cleansing than could be provided by the baking soda method? I don't know. My hair is quite soft, but a bit less than squeaky clean feeling at the roots.  This could be partially due to the fact that said roots do not currently match the rest of my hair (I hasten to add that they're not grey, those roots, but rather my natural colour because I am so totally not anything like middle aged yet no no no no no *fingers in ears* la la la can't hear you birthdays...and anyway if I HAD found any grey hairs ever, and I'm not saying I have, but if I HAD, I would have yanked those traitorous strands right out), which probably means they're not as dry. This will change when I've re-dyed, I expect.

I put a few drops of essential oils in the lemon rinse, so that may have been another contributing factor. I thought it might give my hair a nice, lasting perfume, but at the moment I can't really smell anything. My hair is rather short and barely reaches my nose when I pull it forward, so I'll ask boything to sniff my head when he gets home.  I may report back for all you imaginary readers out there, perched on the edges of your imaginary seats in imaginary anticipation. Fret not, imaginary audience, I shan't leave you hanging.

In any case, I've read that it's perfectly permissible to add some essential oils to the vinegar rinse, so why not the lemon rinse? Anyone out there in blagland have any personal insight?

Another thought that occurs is that I think our water here is quite hard, if I'm not mistaken. I shall have to dig around to find out if that's likely to affect matters. It certainly makes the kettle nice and furry if left to its own devices.

The final thing I'm considering is whether this is just the infamous "icks" I often hear about, which seem to accompany the switch from bottle shampoo to no 'poo methods or shampoo bars for some people.

Speak to me, blagosphere. Regail me with your stories of no 'poo woes and triumphs.  Soapers, tell me about your shampoo bars.

Or, you know, just say hi.  That's good, too.  Pretend this wasn't an incredibly boring and pointless blog post I wrote just to be writing something so this place stays active while I await payday and the glorious things I will purchase so I can get bloody soaping already.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My fingers smell of Christmas I've been playing with my (four, count them, four) essential oils, imagining possible scent combinations, and occasionally wafting pleasant pairings under my and boything's nose.

At one point, the pairing was sweet orange and clove bud. I asked boything (post-waft) what it smelled like and he echoed my (and I imagine everyone else's, as it's not exactly an unusual or elusive combination, if we're being honest here) thought by saying "Christmas."

This is perhaps an unfortunate sensory association to be making in mid-May, Christmas being slightly more distant a future thought than it is a memory, but spicy, fruity wintry smells are some of my favourites, so visions of sugarplums mulled wine/cider soaps and the like are dancing in my head.

One day.

It's still a couple of weeks until I can get properly kitted out to start actually making anything, so wafting and dreaming is all I've got for now (well, that and ogling tasty soaps on other blogs which, as previously mentioned, I've been doing an awful lot of).

I've been doing loads of 'research,' like a good little 'student' but there's an awful lot of conflicting information out there in the wide world of interwebs.

I'm not sure if I need to order 100% sodium hydroxide online, or if 98% (best I can find in meatspace shops, it seems?) is good enough.

I can't quite work out if coconut oil is super moisturising or a bit drying. Both claims appear to be out there in more or less equal measure.

I'm not sure if plastic (any kind or some sort of special non-reactive type?), stainless steel (definitely not aluminum apparently), glass or pyrex containers are best for 1. putting the measured NaOH crystals in before adding to the liquid, 2. mixing the lye solution, 3. mixing the lye solution into the oils/butters.

I'm not sure, again, what the best material is for utensils to stir the soap, though I've read that I should avoid aluminum and wood.  I suppose, as with containers, it might depend on which stage of the process we're talking about.

I'm also concerned about moulds.  I was thinking of (at least for now) using the five thousand ramekins (lined with wax/oven paper, of course. That much I have learned) we've accumulated from various creme brulee (and similar desserts) from good old M&S, but a Soap Queen video I watched made me think glass was a bad choice of material for moulds. Does the soap expand as it sets? Could it crack the glass?  Hm. I shall have to watch the video again to see if she actually said it was a bad idea or was just expressing a preference, or if I completely misunderstood and she said nothing of the sort! (This last is entirely possible, as I've been filling my head with all sorts of stuff and it's bound to get a bit mixed up, rattling around in there with no actual experience to attach itself to.)

I've also seen an awful lot of different advice about curing times. I wonder, do I really need to let a pure castile soap cure for 6 months or more?  I've gathered that the longer a soap cures, the lovelier it gets (this courtesy of the deservedly legendary, but sadly now defunct (?), Cocobong, among others), but is there any soap for which 6 weeks might not be sufficient to make it safe and gentle to use?

So many questions. Maybe if I'm lucky (or if I start actually commenting on some of the blogs I've been haunting...there's a completely bonkers idea, amirite?) I might get some real readers instead of imaginary ones (you're all beautiful and witty and charming in my mind, just as I'm sure you will be in reality, potential future readers!) who can help a sad little not-even-beginner-yet future soaper figure out what to buy so she doesn't make a complete pig's arse of it and resort to the threatened monkey blog instead.

Not that I'm fishing for comments/page views or sir!  What? What fishing rod?  Oh, you mean THIS fishing rod? Uh...I'm just holding it for, um, a... a fisherman! Yes. Where is this fisherman, you ask? He, uh, went somewhere. Yeah. Over there. *gestures vaguely*

He'll be back soon, though, as I definitely didn't make him up.


Friday, 10 May 2013


I mean preparing...and doing research. Yes.

So I've been making vague noises about how nice it would be to make my own soaps and so on for a year or two now, partly motivated by having got used to using all Lush products when we were a bit more, er, financially solvent, and the ensuing unpleasantness of going back to boring old cheapo brands when said financial solvency went kaput. (In normal person speak: We were less poor, so we used nicer stuff. Now we're more poor, so we use cheaper stuff, which is less nice. I am therefore sadface.)

Last Christmas, I received a lovely book on the subject of making one's own beauty products from my mother-in-living-in-sin (see, we aren't married, right? So she isn't my mother-in-law, but just as calling the boything-with-whom-I-live-in-sin my "boyfriend" feels somehow insufficient (It's been five years. We're grown ups. Not quite middle-aged, though, no no. Not yet. Notyetnotyetnotyet.), calling her "my boyfriend's mother" seems equally inappropriate.

But I digress (this will cease to be surprising if you, imaginary readers, stick around for any length of time).  This book she got me, it's by a lady called Star Khechara, and while it's a bit too raw vegan/'knit your own muesli' (as boything is fond of saying) for my liking (and somewhat sanctimonious with it, as that sort can often be), it has definitely fueled the burgeoning fire, so to speak.

So the obsession grows.  Having pored over that book (which isn't so much about soap, but more about creams and lotions, masks and conditioners, and the like) throughout the holidays, I started looking into where I could buy the ingredients I would need.

I started making a sort of chart, for price comparisons of different products on different websites.  This has since turned into a massive spreadsheet.  Seriously. I am not a spreadsheet making kind of being. I don't 'do' organised.

But, a spreadsheet I have made.  I've clearly lost my mind.

Here is a screenshot:

It's not finished, of course. I'm still, erm, collating data. Yes. And I keep discovering new websites to add.

Other ways I've been feeding my obsession:

I've watched hundreds of youtube soaping (etc) videos. I've read tons of blogs (hi guys! I'm following you! It's creepy! But if you follow me back it might be less creepy, and I may even eventually do something interesting!), though I've yet to actually comment on any of them, as I went back to the beginning and had to keep restraining myself from commenting on posts that were like two years old. Now I'm all caught up I am totally going to become an active commenting sort of person).

So I'm just brimming over with inspiration and plans but I need the STUFF. And I can't buy it yet! The horror!

I've been accumulating little bits of things here and there in anticipation of being able to start.  I bought this giant 3lt bottle of olive pomace oil because it was £6.  That's cheap.

The afore-mentioned mother-in-living-in-sin got me some stuff for my birthday (I've got 50ml bottles of avocado, sweet almond and grapeseed oil as well as EOs of sweet orange, petitgrain, lavender and clove bud).

I keep yoinking things from the edge of waste in the kitchen if they seem like they might come in handy.

I have, to date, frozen the following in cube form:

loads of leftover beer
a banana on its last legs pureed to within an inch of its life with some milk
Greek yogurt leftover from making homemade kebabs (they were delicious)

There are some leftover herbs in the fridge that are going to be meeting some of that olive pomace oil soon.

And I keep eying the carrots. I sense pureeing in their future.

I've been talking the boything's ear off about soap and making him watch videos with me. Every time I take a shower I make a sad face at the boring little bar of Dove.

I have, as I say, completely lost my mind.

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Hello, blagosphere.  Well, hello specialised tiny corner of the blagosphere.  I am really only writing this post to see what my shiny new blog is going to look like with actual scribbles all over it.

This is going to be a making stuff blog (I hope). Specifically, soap and other lovely body-related things, though I reserve the right at any time to write about whatever I damn well please. It's my blog and I can digress if I want to. Nyer.

It is probably worth noting that I have not actually started making any of the things this blog is allegedly going to be about the making of (the making of which this blog is going to be about, I mean...up with this "ending a sentence with a preposition" nonsense I should not expect you to put). I might fail miserably, throw a tantrum, then lose interest and turn it into a blog about different kinds of monkeys instead.

But for now, we're going with soap (etc).

My next post might be about all the things I've been collecting/preparing in anticipation of eventually making my first batch of soap. Because it's pretty much all I can read/think about lately (this may or may not have to do with the fact that there are lots of other things I SHOULD be doing instead, things which require the employment of lots of displacement activity to avoid).

Or it might be about pygmy marmosets. I'm a big fan of pygmy marmosets.

This here, imaginary readers, is what we call "setting the tone."  Don't say I didn't warn you.