Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Gift Sets, Sandhill Cranes, and a Coatamundi

I had a request from one of my customers for 2 small gift sets. They came out nice! What do you think?

You can purchase these small soapy gift sets on my website, as seen here:
Small Gift Sets

Or in my Etsy shop, as seen here:
Small Gift Sets on Etsy

This past weekend, Ray and I took a trip down to Whitewater Draw to see the Sandhill Cranes that winter there. It is an amazing sight! Usually by the end of December, there are upwards of 40,000 cranes in the area! That's right forty thousand. Ray has a blog post about our trip, and here is a pic to entice you to take a surf over to his blog to take a look.

Ray's blog -
Sonoran Connection

For Thanksgiving this year, we did something a little different. We went on a picnic! Me, Ray, and my Mom. Neither me or Mom really wanted to cook a full turkey dinner, and trying to go out to eat on Thanksgiving is sometimes a bit crowded, noisy, and uncomfortable. So, I made up a Thanksgiving salad (lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, celery, radishes, green pepper,  apple, and dried cranberries). I was going to cook up some turkey tenders, but of course by the time I got to the store all I could find was turkey wings and necks. hmmmmmm So I went with chicken breast. Cut into strips and sauteed with onions and a bit of BBQ sauce.  Served cold with the salad, it was perfect! We headed up to Madera Canyon down by Green Valley. We took a little hike at the bottom of the mountain, then headed up to the picnic area at the top of the road. We picked our picnic spot, and as we were getting the food out of the cooler, we had the cutest visitor! He came right over and was at my mother's feet before I even saw him. Look ..


It's a coatamundi, a member of the raccoon family. He was snuffing around, looking at us like he was expecting a treat. We were tempted, but decided it wasn't a good idea and we shoo'd him away. He finally left after giving us a bit of an indignant snort. Very healthy looking fella, so my guess is he is quite successful at getting treats from other picnicers.

All in all, a very nice Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend! :)  I hope everyone else's Thanksgiving was just as nice!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Black Friday starts NOW


I got all my "stuff" together for my Black Friday thru Cyber Monday sale together ... email ready to go out to my email list, coupon codes in place, plenty of packaging material around the house. So, I'm ready! I was going to wait until Thursday to start, but what the heck. Since I'm the boss, I said "GO"!

15% off all soap purchases.
30% off all jewelry purchases.

Coupon codes BLACKFRIDAY and CYBERMONDAY will work in any of my online shops.

My soap website - 15% off

Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soap

My Etsy soap shop - 15% off

Aunt Nancy's Etsy Shop

My Etsy jewelry shop - 30% off

Jewelry From Tucson

Be sure to use either one of the coupon codes when checking out to receive your discount. You MUST use one of the coupon codes to receive your discount!

And, I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! What are your plans? We are going to pack a picnic and head to Madera Canyon. :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

And Another Beer Soap

So just to make sure that the last batch of successful beer soap was NOT a fluke, I had to make another. This time I used a beer called Nitro Blonde Ale made by the Old World Brewery in Phoenix. Came out good so far! I'll cut it tomorrow.

Just poured, before gel.

After gel.

Tomorrow, Ray and I are headed to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arivaca for the 3rd annual Grassland Fair. They usually have some pretty interesting exhibits, food, and music. And we'll get in some birdwatching while we are there, and maybe, maybe Ray will be able to get some pics of prong horn antelope.

Grassland Fair

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Beer Soap = Success !

I've always had trouble making beer soaps. They come out rough looking, and spotty. Stearic spots. From the beer. I would use the beer as my liquid for mixing with the lye. I would freeze the beer until it was slushy, then slowly mix in my lye stirring stirring stirring. Then line my molds, and mix my oils. But as soon as I would add my beery lye mix to the oils, it would start ricing. I would beat it down with my stick blender, and for a while it would look fine, the ricing smoothed out. Pour it into my molds, at which point I would see the start of more ricing. *sigh* The soap would always be perfectly usable with wonderful beery lather, but not very pretty to look at. I was always disappointed.

This is one of the soaps that have the "stearic spots".  They are the white spots. There is also oatmeal in this soap, so it's a bit hard to see them. Some of the other beer soaps I made were even worse looking and I didn't even take pics of them.


So, taking the cue from soapers on The Dish Forum (a forum for soap makers) I went about a slightly different way. First, I made a concentrate of the beer by boiling it down - well, actually simmered it down. 24 ounces of beer simmered down to 8 ounces. Two hours of simmering beer.  Let cooled down to room temp. I mixed my lye with distilled water, about a 47% solution meaning I used just a little more water then lye. Blended my oils together (olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, wheat germ oil). Then, I poured the lye solution into the oils. Stirred a bit, then hit it with the stick blender for about 20 seconds. Now I was ready for the beer concentrate. I very slowly poured the beer into the soap pot, stirring stirring stirring. So far so good. Got all the beer into the pot, kept hand stirring for a while. Hit it with the stick blender a couple of times for 10 seconds at a time. Got it to a medium-thick trace, and poured it into the mold. Again, so far so good! No ricing, no lumping.

Here it is after pouring into the mold. I just used my little 12 inch mold instead of one of my larger 20 inch ones.

This small mold sometimes doesn't insulate and encourage gelling as well as the larger molds do, so I preheated the oven, shut it off and popped the soap in. It gelled wonderfully. Sorry I didn't get a pic of that.

Next day, ready for the cut!

Look at that! Isn't that lovely! Nice and smooth, no spots! I'm a happy camper! :)