Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend Sale!

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of summer! I don't know about you, but I find that I spend a lot more time in the shower during the hot months. Why not stock up on some fun soaps for the summer?

Now through Monday, May 31, buy any three bars of soap and get the fourth bar free! Simply buy three bars and tell me in the comments/"message to seller" section which fourth bar you would like free! (International customers, please note that all duties, customs fees, taxes, or other applicable fees are the responsibility of the buyer.)

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, everybody! And we send a heart-felt thank you to all of our military men and women and their families. Thank you for all of your sacrifices.
(Psst ... Father's Day is coming up and Wally the Wonder Turtle and I just added this Balsam and Citrus soap to our Etsy shop! The woodsy scents of balsam fir, oranges, grapefruit, crushed cranberries, sandalwood, clove, and cinnamon would be perfect for Dad! Stop by Wonder Turtle Soaps and check it out!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New Soaps at Wonder Turtle Soaps!

Okay, Wonder Turtle friends, Wally the Wonder Turtle and I have been soaping up a storm! Here are the two newest soaps at Wonder Turtle Soaps on Etsy!

The first one up is Honey Bunch soap:

Ooooh, honey, are you gonna love this soap! This is the ultimate honey experience - it all starts with a honey base, to which just a touch of raw Florida Orange Blossom honey is added, just to make it extra honeylicious. Honey fragrance oil gives these bars a sweet nectar scent. Gold and copper mica gives these bars their shimmery honey color. If you like honey, you'll love this honey of a soap!

Also check out this Tranquil Waters soap:

Imagine floating adrift a calm ocean, the clean scents of crystal blue water and fresh air washing over you ... This soap's fragrance has top notes of clear water and fresh ozone, which mingle with lemongrass, mandarin zest, and verbena. Middle notes of green leaves, fresh rose, melon, lily, and ylang-ylang are rounded out by subtle dry notes of rosewood and musk. This is a clean and fresh spa-like scent that both men and women are sure to love!

These fragrances make me think of warm weather and cool days in the pool. What kinds of fragrances are you guys diggin' now that the temperatures are rising?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Packaging: Making It Pretty

You know how cool it is when you open up a parcel and find a beautifully packaged item? Maybe you lift away some pretty tissue paper to find an impeccably labeled or wrapped product, which is accompanied by a handwritten thank you note ...

How nice! It's like opening up a little present, made just for you.

That's how I want people to feel when they receive a package of my soaps in the mail. So, I've been working on upgrading my packaging.

I admit that I have struggled with my packaging. I recently found myself dissatisfied with a few things, and it's taken me a while to find a look that I like. I think I'm getting there, though.

First of all, I wanted to class things up a bit with some nice thank you cards. I found these adorable turtle note cards at Peculiar Parchment on Etsy.

3x3 Sea Turtle Note Cards by PeculiarParchment on Etsy

As soon as I saw them, I loved them and thought they'd make perfect little thank you cards to include with my orders. I contacted Peculiar Parchment and within minutes, Bethany was hooking me up with the turtle cards. She was sweet enough to make some extras for me, and she shipped them out quickly. I ordered enough to last me for a while, but I hope that it won't be too long before I need to head back to Peculiar Parchment for more! (Please do check out Peculiar Parchment's Etsy shop - you'll find wonderful cards of all sorts and sizes for all kinds of occassions. And you can't beat the great customer service.)

I decided, too, that I no longer liked my business cards, so I gave them a makeover that incorporated my Etsy shop banner (which I also redesigned).

Then came the actual packaging. When I first started selling and shipping, I went with clear cellophane wrapping. Nice enough, certainly utilitarian, but not much to look at.

So next I tried some wrapphia ribbon. That was nicer. But I found that I had a hard time getting the bow right every time. On some soaps, it looked good. On others, I didn't like it. And I found that if I tied the ribbon too tightly, it would ding the soap.

Next ...

Then I thought: Organza bags!

Check out Nashville Wraps for an assortment of organza bags at wholesale prices. They ship super-fast, too!

What an easy way to make a bar of handcrafted soap extra-special! And the bags are shimmery, sophisticated, and pretty every time. Perfect for right-out-of the-mailbox gift-giving, or as a special little present to yourself. Plus, the bags can be reused for another gift or for just hanging around filled with stuff, looking cool.

I like my packaging progress, and I am sure that as time moves on, I'll tweak it some more, as I am always wanting to improve. In the future, I may want to focus more on branding. But I'm diggin' it for now.

What kind of packaging wows you guys? (Did someone say organza bags and turtle cards ...?)

Seriously, for me, if I can tell that someone put some thought and care into their items and packaging, I will remember it. That could mean a great label, a gorgeous container, or a personalized note. What was it that impressed you the last time you ordered an item or saw something in a store and thought, "Wowza"?

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sweet Sangria Soap!

So, a few days ago, I decided that I wanted to make a soap with Bramble Berry's Sugar Plum Fairy fragrance oil, but I wanted to call the scent something else. I usually stick to a fragrance oil's given name, but I wanted something more seasonal, more summer-y. I sniffed and sniffed it, trying to figure out what I thought it smelled like.

This fragrance oil is very sweet - lots of fruit and sugar notes. I thought it smelled like fruit punch or a jellybean. I came up with "Fruit Punch Jellybean," but I wasn't sure if I was wild about that moniker. So I asked my husband to take a whiff and tell me what he thought it smelled like, and what I should call it. He said it smelled like wine.

Hmmm. Now I really didn't know what to think. Wine?

Well, I could see that. I mean, wine is pretty much fermented fruit, right?

So I took my dilemma to the awesome Wonder Turtle Soaps fans and asked them what I should do. And one of the fans (actually, it was my mom, who is a big fan not only of my soaps, but also of me) suggested that if I thought it smelled like fruit and sugar and Ken, my husband, thought it smelled like wine, then maybe I should go with Sangria?
Of course! What a brilliant suggestion! My brain was so stuck on candy that Sangria probably never would have entered my mind. But, basically, wine + fruit + sugar = Sangria. And what could be better for summertime?

The suggestion inspired me to create something way cooler than what I was orignally planning. I was going to do a solid beveled square of merlot sparkle mica-colored soap with the Sugar Plum Fairy fragrance oil.

Pretty, but ... yawn.

But this Sangria thing - my merlot sparkle mica would still be perfect, and I could do a cool chunk soap in my loaf mold, the chunks being the "fruit" floating in the "wine."

I pulled out my trusty silicone brownie bites pan and poured fragranced squares of gold, orange, and green for my soapy fruits - lemons, pineapples, oranges, tangerines, peaches, green apples, what have you. After they set up (which seemed to take only FOREVER), I cut the squares into chunks.

Next, I fragranced and poured some merlot-colored soap into my loaf mold, filling it just short of halfway. I quickly spritzed my chunk embeds with rubbing alcohol and dropped them into the merlot-colored soap in batches, using up half of my chunks. I gave the first layer a final spritz, acknowledged that it looked like some sort of weird stew, and let it harden up.

Then I repeated the step above - more merlot soap and the rest of the embeds.

And then it was time to wait.

Ugh. The waiting ...

The next day, I felt that mix of excitement and nervousness that I always feel before I unmold and slice a loaf soap. The soap cut beautifully and looked very much like I had hoped it would.

And it smells a lot like a Sangria - sweet, sugary, and fruity.

Great success! (And thanks again to the Wonder Turtle Soaps fans - I have so much fun with you guys, and you all keep me so inspired!)

Check out my Sweet Sangria soap at Wonder Turtle Soaps on Etsy and pick you up a bar or two or so of this yummy, summery soap!

And if you want to be a super-cool Wonder Turtle Soaps fan, too, check out my Facebook® Page!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wally Sez ... Happy Mother's Day!

Here is where Wally the Wonder Turtle gets to share his thoughts with the world. Enjoy!

wallys mom is nice lady turtle. she tell me lots important things.

she tell me:

* wally, come out of your shell, don't be shy.

* wally, get back in your shell, is dangerous out here!

* slow and steady is always best unless you crossing street.

* cars is not big turtles that want to play with you.

* never sleep on your back.

* dog is not trying to kiss you, is trying to eat you.

* you look good in red.

* you look good in bow tie.

* you look good in red bow tie.

and best thing wallys mom ever say to him:

* i love you, wally. you my special guy.

love you, mom. happy mothers day.

and happy mothers day to all you moms out there! you awesome!

-- wally

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Want Some Patience and I Want It RIGHT NOW!

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza's father goes around screaming, "Serenity now!" at the top of his lungs? That's how I felt after slaving over a batch of layered soap bars a couple of days ago.

I was making my triple-layered Black Rose soaps. The first layer was soft pink, the second layer black, and the third layer was more soft pink.  I was working on a batch of six bars; four turned out great. Two were goners.

This is what the Black Rose soaps are supposed to look like. Here are two of the successful bars.

What happened?

Well, anyone who has done layered melt-and-pour projects before knows that temperature and timing are crucial. If you pour too soon, your soap may be too hot and could melt the layer beneath. Pour too late, and the layers might not adhere. Get caught between these two, and you might have a problem.

I got caught between the two.

The first two layers of each bar went fine. It was on the third layer where I got tripped up. See, I had allowed 5 ounces for each bar, making a total of 30 ounces. That's 10 ounces per layer: 20 ounces of pink, 10 ounces of black.

Ten ounces of pink was great for the first layer. Ten ounces of black worked great for the second layer. Ten ounces of pink for the third proved problematic.

Here's a photo for comparison. See how the nice soap on the top has a clean, straight line of black? And how the two soaps on the bottom have uneven melty black layers with tendrils of black running through the bottom pink layer? Blech.

The third layer of pink for bars 1-4 poured just fine. But by bars 5 and 6, the soap was starting to cool too much and it was getting tacky and gloppy. So I heated what was left in my measuring cup for a few seconds in the microwave.

I took its temperature. I usually pour my layers around 110-115 degrees so I don't melt the layer below it. But it's kinda difficult to get an accurate temperature read on so little soap in a big measuring glass. I dipped my spoon into the base and dripped some of the melted base on my finger. Warm, but not hot.

I wondered if it needed a little more time to cool. But when I stirred it, it felt like it was getting tacky again and a skin was forming on it.

And it was time to pour. The second layer had hardened up and really needed its third layer NOW.

I figured, "It's probably cool enough. It's getting thick and I need to pour."

So I poured it, slowly and gently.


Yep, you guessed it ... I melted the black layer beneath on both bars.

Pools of black floated to the surface of the pink, and little wispy melt lines reached their dreadful tendril-y fingers upward.


What did I learn? Well, I think next time I will start out with more soap base than I need. I had figured that I needed 20 ounces of pink. If I could have a mulligan and do it over again, I would start with 24 ounces instead so maybe I'd still have enough liquidy soap to at least finish all of my pours even if an ounce or two of the soap gets tacky and sticks to the sides of the glass. It is always better to have too much soap prepared than to not have enough.

And I will be more patient. It's a bit heartbreaking to work on a batch and then ruin some of them (especially on the last pour) because you pressured yourself to pour RIGHT NOW.

Ah, well, four out of six ain't bad. And the four that did turn out were a great success, and I am very happy with them. Heck, I can always make more.

Psst ... you can get one of these Black Rose soaps at my Etsy shop. Don't worry - I'll send you one of the pretty ones!

And, hey, Mother's Day is tomorrow. I can give my mom the prettiest one of the reject bars as a gift. And she has to say it's beautiful because I made it and she's my mom, right?


(Have soaping tragedy stories of your own? Share them with us! Wally the Wonder Turtle and I would love to hear them!)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Etsy Favorite: Mirasol Farm

Etsy is a great place to shop for all kinds of handmade items. I'm not only a seller there, but I'm also a buyer. I enjoy trying out all sorts of unique products, and I have always been impressed with the quality of the items that I do buy. And I like to share my favorite Etsy shops with others.

Mirasol Farm is one of my favorites.

I spend a lot of time browsing the Bath and Beauty category at Etsy. I love lotion and lip balm. I mean, for serious, I will panic if either one is taken away from me. Especially if said lotion or lip balm is fabulously fragrant and luxurious. I was shopping the Etsy categories one day when I found Mirasol Farm. Imagine my glee when I found out that they sell lotions and lip balm AND other awesome bath and body products. Talk about one-stop shopping. So I purchased some lotion and lip balms. Folks, this is really nice stuff!

Lotion and lip balms by Mirasol Farm on Etsy (

Mirasol Farm makes their lotions, creams, soaps, balms, and other goodies from scratch using organic ingredients and pure essential oils. Most products also feature sunflower oil ("mirasol" means sunflower in Spanish), which is high in Vitamin E and easily absorbed into the skin.

The first thing you'll notice about Mirasol Farm's products is their beautiful packaging. Their lotions come in gorgeous cobalt blue glass bottles. Even the labels on the products are bright, sunny, and lovely.

I bought their Lavender Patchouli lotion, and the scent was just heavenly. I love patchouli, and it is fabulous paired with lavender. The lotion is lush and luxurious, but it does not leave your skin feeling greasy. The fragrance lingers on the skin nicely, too. I went over to my mom's house about an hour after applying this lotion and as soon as I walked through the door she said, "You smell like patchouli!"

Other lotion varieties include Lemon Chamomile, Cedarwood Shea Butter, Rosemary Mint, Mother Earth (sandalwood, patchouli, and sage), Gardener's (lime and lemongrass), Wild Orange, and Naked (fragrance-free).

I am as powerless to resist lip balm as I am lotion. Mirasol Farm sells many intriguing herbal lip balms made with organic ingredients and essential oils. Unable to decide on just one (or two or ten), I opted for the 3-pack (your choice of balms). Although I still had trouble deciding on just three, I ultimately went with Sweet Patchouli (told ya I love patchouli!), Sweet Orange, and Chai. The nice folks at Mirasol Farm were sweet enough to throw in a Lemon Chamomile balm, too, which I am using now. I love it - it's lemony with a bit of a minty tingle. Chamomile, lavender, and lemongrass essential oils are complimented with essential oils of peppermint and rosemary. Yum!

Lavender Tangerine, Double Mint, Sweet Anise, and Naked lip balms are also available.

Mirasol Farm also offers bath and body oils, cold-process soaps, creams, lotion bars, herbal skin care products, liquid and foaming soaps, and gift sets. They even sell marmalade!

Treat yourself or someone special to Mirasol Farm's products. When my stockpile of lotions and lip balms are all used up, I'll be back for more!

(Photos by Jenny Rose)