Monday, September 5, 2011

I Made Pie Instead

I know I promised I would finish up all my exciting news but last night when I had time I made pie instead.

No, it's not soap related, but I love baking and in particular I love making pie. It's difficult and frustrating and usually takes a good amount of verbal abuse to get it even close to right but it's always worth it in the end! I make my own pie crust and filling from scratch using recipes I have tweaked a bit to be just how I like them and I am always working to make them better.

Someday I dream of making the perfect pie.

This time I just made a simple apple pie. It's my favourite and really lets me practice pie crust. Besides, everyone in my family loves it. My crust wasn't my best this time, a little too wet (there's no real science to adding water, it's different every time) and thick (my rolling pin has seen better days) but Michi helped me with the filling and a newly added teaspoon of vanilla made it taste amazing! I think I may leave that in....

Not the prettiest, but SO yummy! 

♥ Amanda Leigh

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mass Update Part I: Experimenting Around

I am not even sure where to start. I have been trying to write this post for weeks now and it just gets harder and harder everyday for some reason. But it needs to get done so that I can move forward. A lot has actually happened lately, lets see if I can get this all right.

First off, and one of the reasons I have been missing, I have officially been promoted to Head Crew Trainer at my job! It feels so amazing to be recognized at my work and I've never really gotten a promotion before. I am beyond proud and working really really hard to prove I deserve it. (My boss laughed and told me I was an overachiever like her but I need the moolah and apparently it's working out well for me!)

And in soapy news~

I have been hard at work.

First, a couple of weeks ago I left a status update on Facebook that confused a lot of my friends. I was considering the outcome of an experiment I didn't have a lot of faith in once I got going. I was attempting swirling colours, something I never ended up letting everyone on Facebook know like I promised I would but there you are. I had the same base and same flavours and colours I had had for a while but still wanted to work on something. My raspberry vanilla recipe needed some work but I didn't really want to just waste the supplies, so I decided to give something aesthetic a try. I am not always the best at visual art but I knew it was something I was going to need to practice. I looked through my books and online to try and understand if it was even something I could do with my translucent base. None of them said I couldn't swirl a clear and a colour together and I assumed it was just going to bleed together but I decided to give it a try nonetheless.

Using up the last of my organic translucent base I made a batch of vanilla and a batch of raspberry, working on my recipe at the same time as trying something new. I poured the clear vanilla into the little square molds and waited for it to cool down until it had a skin like everyone told me to do, then poured in a bit of the red raspberry into each. What I was not informed of by any of my online resources was, the common sense idea, that I needed to remove the skin before pouring.

These were very ugly little soaps.

However, on the last two, I got frustrated and poked at the vanilla base with a toothpick until the skin came off with it. The soap underneath was still liquid and beautiful so I decided to pour in my raspberry and give it a try. They had cooled a bit too much but actually turned out very pretty and I was feeling a little better about the whole idea.

I later realized that one of my books laying in my room told me exactly the right thing to do. It also told me to try pouring the two colours in at the same time. Live and learn. I stored it away for later and got on ordering new product.

I have ordered a LOT of new things lately. First off, I got some new soap base. Wanting to try for some moisturizing I order a pound of goats milk base and a pound of olive oil base from Brambleberry and as usual, it was BEAUTIFUL. The need to try different bases, of course, came from my wanting to make a special bar for my good friend Syl who reviewed my Hello Kitty soaps. She had said that it smelled and worked great but tended to dry out her hands a little bit. So I ordered the base and some oils from Tenzing Momo to make her a special gift. I ordered some rosemary essential oil, ginger essential oil, and a cherry blossom fragrance. I also decided to try some of Brambleberry's liquid pigments and bought an amethyst colour. As much as I would love to throw up a picture of everything I've gotten, a lot of it has been used and for a while my camera had been MIA. I've decided to just press on.

Too impatient to wait for her oils I decided to play around with the goats milk. What? I could always order more. I broke out the old muffin pan for lack of a better mold.

I made a simple recipe of soothing lavender vanilla for my mom who loves vanilla and could probably use a little less stress in her life. The smell of lavender was a bit strong but an easy fix for the next time. I even gave the amethyst colour a try. One drop was all it took for a beautiful, solid colour. I also gifted a bar to a friend/manager of mine who carried it around all day shoving it under everyone's noses and telling them to smell it.

But even more exciting, in the same sitting I felt a sudden surge of inspiration and created my very own scent inspired by the Almond Biscotti free sample! Amaretto. I think it's my favourite and I have had to on multiple occasions tell my family that they may not lick it.

It really is a terrible pan. I had a lot of trouble getting them out. I will need to work on that...

I wish I had more pictures to show off but they came out a little bumpy from the old pan and we used them right away.

The goats milk feels so wonderful I think any soap I make for myself will definitely have to be from it. It left my hands feeling so incredibly soft and happy and my hands go through a lot at my job. The goats milk has gotten a lot of use but the olive oil has yet to be taken out. I fully intended to give it a try but, still waiting for my oils, I decided to give swirling another try, which led to a whole different world for my soap making experiment.

To be continued...

♥ Amanda Leigh

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I sold soap.

Really I did!

The wonderful Lyssa-Face has yet to see her commissioned Raspberry Vanilla Hello Kitty Soaps that I need to find some way to transport to her but has already raved and thanked and now even paid. Does this make me a professional? Technically. But probably not really. I still wasn't sure how to charge her when I saw her at work so I asked her what she thought was fair. She handed me twenty dollars in cash. I had never even considered charging her that much but she quickly assured me that she was paying for both the finished product and 'my furthered research'.

I think I may have an investor.

♥ Amanda Leigh

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Supplies and My First Order!

I know I promised a post about face masks but that can wait. My package arrived today! I had been out on a wonderful day off from work, enjoying the sun, poking around craft stores, buying my kitty presents, and when I got home my mom immediately pointed out the package that had come in the mail. (I think she just wanted to know what was inside). The amazing Brambleberry was speedy again! Though I probably won't be buying any essential oils from the store, I have found that their fragrance section is very extensive. It helps that she is all about soap making herself. It was one of the only places I could find a good raspberry scent.

When I first made my Hello Kitty soaps a very close friend of mine, the one who got me my job actually, immediately commented that she wanted some, she wanted to buy some, and here have some alcohol so I can get you so drunk you will sign a lifelong contract with me. (I am very susceptible to vodka. Yumm.) She also let me know that she loves raspberry vanilla. It's kind of her thing. At the time I had been awaiting the arrival of my friend from Virginia and knew I would have no extra money to spend, but I found the vanilla in Seattle and a few days ago finally put in the order for the Sun-Ripened Raspberry fragrance oil. Two ounces was very inexpensive and, like the wonderful company they are, on top it I was given a free sample a Dark Rich Chocolate fragrance oil that I am really excited to use with my vanilla.

The raspberry is so big! (And the chocolate is very small.)

I also read up on colourants, not wanting to use food colouring anymore. Translucent soap bases are very good for mica powders that are, apparently very pretty and shimmery. It doesn't work as well in other bases and I really like the look of translucent in the little molded pieces so I thought mica would be perfect. Plus I have always wanted to try it. I picked a Merlot colour for it's deep red violet as opposed to the other red that was very orange. I thought it suited her and raspberry a lot better.

Before checking out I threw on ten eye droppers for cheap, not wanting to cross-contaminate. They're so big! I love it.

 I don't know why they're glowing. No, they're not magical.

Overall I only paid about twenty dollars, and that included shipping.

I could not wait to get started. So I didn't.

I was a little apprehensive about the mica at first, worried I was going to use it wrong or waste it or ruin my soap altogether. But I added it little by little as the soap melted. It seemed really chunky at first but quickly dissolved as I stirred it in. Already it was pearly and gorgeous. I added a good amount of raspberry, wanting it to be my most prominent smell and then a bit of the vanilla for an undertone. I could use vanilla all day it smelled so wonderful. However the mix wasn't strong enough and I had to add a bit more of each. I'm still not sure it's strong enough but the smell does come through. My family all really loved it. I still might add more next time. After that everything was the same as my original Hello Kitty soaps. I poured it into the molds wising I had some alcohol to burst the few airbubbles but that was just me being a perfectionist (It will be included in my next supply buy.). While shopping I had picked up a silicone mold originally intended for little brownie bites that I intend to use for little square soaps and my roommate begged me to use the extra to make her a couple of squares. I was happy to oblige.

Leaving it to set in the open on the counter, I made and ate some dinner (and got to use some of the onions from the garden!) and when I was all finished they were ready to pull from the molds.

I wish you could really see how beautiful the colour turned out.

With flash so you can see just how shiny they are.

The little squares turned out wonderful as well. I knew I would love this tray.

I am so beyond proud of what I have made tonight. My favourite by far. The recipe was all mine and turned out almost perfect. The only change I plan to make is to up the amounts on my scents. I hope Alyssa loves them because I know I do. Now I just have to figure out fair pricing. Who knows? Maybe I will be selling even more soon.

♥ Amanda Leigh

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Ingredients at Least

Yes, I've bought more ingredients and have yet to actually work on anything new. But I couldn't help myself! We were in Seattle. There was nothing I could do.

While spending the day in Seattle before dropping my friend at the airport, he mentioned wandering through Pike Place Market before leaving the city. I think we were more excited than he was at the idea once we remembered we hadn't been there in a while. We started off in search of honey sticks but the stalls on the ground level were starting to close up. We walked up and down for a while, and out in the beautiful rain looking over the stalls that were still open but we never did find any. But we tried Pluats for the first time and when Michi (also known as The Roommate) mentioned she needed to stop in at the tea shop I remembered one of my favourite parts of the market: The Apothecary. I just needed to find it.

Their first mistake was letting me lead. They ignorantly trusted me when I started downstairs and around every twist and turn after that. A few more flights down I was sure I was about to wander into Diagon Alley when Michi and Jyoudan jumped ship. He found himself a CD store and she dissappeared into a bead store where I asked the lovely woman behind the counter how to get where I was going. She turned me around and sent me back upstairs.

If you are ever looking for Tenzing Momo Apothecary in Pike Place Market walk straight in and past the throwing fish guys. You can't miss it.

Tenzing Momo is a wonderful store that I had been to before but completely forgot about. It's small and comfortable and the staff has never made me feel out of place. They go about their work, happy to help if you ask. If you make a sharp left after walking in you will find a wall of books on health and alternative lifestyles/religion. Behind the counter is their jars of countless dried herbs and teas and on the right you can find a really amazing selection of inscense, tinctures, essential oils, and related items I still plan on going through. The tinctures and oils at least are the store's brand and very fairly priced. I still have a lot of questions on the products that I didn't have the time to ask, such as how much of the actual product is made there, if they grow their own plants and if anything is organic but for now I am just happy to be buying local. I will definitely take a trip to grill them next time.

I spent a little too much time in the store but I'd spent so much time looking for it I think I earned it. I found a lot of nice things I will be buying in the future, including quite a few books I want to read, but for this trip I was excited to come out with the vanilla essential oil I have been looking for as well as a rain scent and chai spice scent. I also bought some tranquility inscense sticks but those won't be going into my soap, they just help me nap after work.

I was very glad to have found it, though Diagon Alley probably would have been just as helpful. Oh well. Until I find it I still have Tenzing Momo.

In other news, while procrastinating from writing this post I ordered, from Bramble Berry, a raspberry fragrance oil, some little eye droppers so I don't have to cross-contaminate, and merlot mica powder for colouring. (Mica powder works best for clear base) This means I have everything I need to make my wonderful friend her raspberry-vanilla Hello Kitty soaps! My first order! I hope I can make her happy! (Wow, lots of exclamation points.)

More soon with new soap and a couple of homemade face masks I had fun trying out!

♥ Amanda Leigh

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Life Update!

Alright, so I've been missing for a few weeks. But I have a pair of very good excuses. My friend and old roommate from out of town came to visit and I'm getting a promotion at my work!

While trying to save some money for moving and school I have been working at a McDonald's restaurant in my little town. An AMAZING friend of mine got me the job almost instantly when I moved back from Virginia and I am so so grateful to her. I get great hours, my coworkers are wonderful, and now I'm moving up. I have been asked to be a Crew Trainer and hopefully, if things work out next month Head Crew Trainer. It comes with, of course, a pay raise and the task of initially training new crew members. I am beyond excited. And I enjoyed working with the three new crew members my manager trusted to me during her vacation. Even though it was exactly when Jyoudan arrived. It just meant quite a bit less free time.

But it was fun! And having Jyoudan here was even better! (Jyoudan is of course not his real name. It's actually the Japanese word for 'joke' which sounds really mean except that when you write his name in Japanese that's what it says. And he is the single funniest person I've met in my whole life.)

This is Jyoudan and his face.

For two weeks my friends and I got to be tourists in our own stat and it was like we were on vacation too. Everything was about having fun. I spent so much money and I don't even care. And sometimes we just sat around and played games but it was so nice having my friend around after so long. I only got a few hours of sleep each night and it started getting to me but that just meant I got off work, threw on a sweatshirt and napped in the car on the way to the city.

We welcomed him to Seattle with yummy conveyor belt sushi.

 That's me!
And to Gameworks for games and Puricura! (A Japanese style photobooth). We're a bit addicted.

Bottom Left Picture: Left to Right: Syl, Michi, Me, Jyoudan, Alex

Isn't that cute?

 Syl and Alex

Emily, Me, and Jyoudan

And that same night we went the midnight Double Feature of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows parts 1 and 2!!!

 Jyoudan, Me and Darci

Syl and Jyoudan and his face.

We went to a Mariner's game. We lost.

Syl, Michi, and Jyoudan

And an Aquasox game. (Our minor league team) And SUPER won!

There were various restaurants, we saw Harry Potter a few more times, Captain America once, and played some very dangerous boards games on nights when I was just too dead tired to go out. I ordered Jyoudan too many drinks at a tavern and on the last night had a very productive and confusing travel through Pike Place Market that I will blog about later!

Syl, Jyoudan, Me, and Michi

It was so much fun and so tiring, but so worth it. Now, to catch up on some sleep! ...before work tomorrow morning.

♥ Amanda Leigh

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My beautiful, wonderful friend Syl, who has been working on getting a beauty blog going wrote a review of my first batch of soap!

 Syl with my soap~

I know what a huge fan of Hello Kitty she is and I just love giving gifts so while she was visiting the other day I gifted her a few. She was really excited and it made me happy to see it! And the great person she is she wrote a review!

Overall she loved the look and the smell (which is nice to hear because she has very sensitive skin to fragrances) but commented on a dryness it left her skin with. It's something I had been wondering about so it was nice to hear. I will definitely be looking into additives for moisturizing (which is something my skin constantly needs anyway) and I was already wanting to play around with goats milk soap base which is good for softening and soothing so now I have a really great excuse.

But enough of my rambling. Read it in her own words! Review

♥ Amanda Leigh

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Adding Additives

I will admit, this is a very late post, and this time it was not the internet's fault. I worked a lot this week and I was just plain tired. On the plus side, I managed to squeeze in a little time to try some new soap!

I decided to finally do something with my lavender. It has always been a favourite of mine and I know is a staple among soap and scent lovers. It's calming, of course, by nature and I decided I needed a little of that in my life. I also wanted to give additives a try so I settled on lavender and oatmeal. Simple enough for a first try and it sounded like something I really wanted to use. Oatmeal has been something I came across in looking for an answer to a terrible little stress rash I get on my hands and insides of my elbows. It would be nice to be able to make something as simple as a soap myself to soothe it just a little bit. Either way it interests me and is something I could find at home.

In searching how to add it to the base I turned to the internet and the books I have here at home. I was looking for a cut and dry 'here is how you add oatmeal to soap' but of course I never really found it. What I actually left with was an idea of how much to put in but confusion over whether I should grind the oatmeal or not. Some recipes said do and some said don't but neither said either way was fine. All I really found was recipes and no straight answer so I decided to pick my books that left the oatmeal whole. Another bit of confusion I found myself with was over how exactly to add the oatmeal to the base. I was told to remove it from the heat and add it but no more was really specified. So this time I closed the books and moved into the kitchen to figure it out on my own.

I started by, of course, melting my base. (My little brother decided to watch and was very interested in how quickly it went) Still stuck using the microwave I moved the bowl to the counter and added a few tablespoons of oatmeal first. I stirred it only a few times, trying to avoid air bubbles and it separated perfectly, swirling around the bowl and looking very pretty. I then added (maybe a little too much) lavender then poured the whole mix into a bread pan for a mold. This is where I know I went wrong. The second the mixture poured into the pan all of the oatmeal settled to the bottom and no matter what I did would not swirl back around and stay. I already had too many air bubbles and knew I couldn't mess with it anymore so I let it be. After a little when I knew it had set just a bit I sprinkled a pinch more oatmeal on top. It only just barely sunk, some poking up on top and stayed in place. It wasn't exactly what I was going for but at least I had salvaged a bit.

Impatiently my brother and I left the soap in the kitchen to set and waited about an hour and a half before we just had to poke it. It had solidified perfectly. Even with the bit of heat in the house. (I don't know how I have ever had the patience for the candy making I do.) But then I had the trouble of figuring out how to get it out of the deep pan. I had read couple of ways that included dipping the pan in hot water as well as using a hair dryer. They sound logical and next time I will probably use one instead of trying to pry it out with a knife that doesn't fit in the pan. However, after I ruined the first two pieces a bit the rest came up in one very easy to lift out piece.

Overall it is not the perfect soap. Next time I am going to let the base sit a bit before adding the oatmeal which seems to be the consensus on fixing the sinking problem. I will also try using water or a hair dryer instead of prying. Next time I think I may buy a white base instead of a translucent one. Translucent looks amazing in the cute mold but for the bars I want something that looks a little more solid. Eventually when I get some recipes worked out I would definitely like to make it in a loaf and see how that works out.

Even with its imperfections, however, the soap feels and smells amazing and I am very happy with it. A few tweaks and a little more time and it could end up being a favourite of mine. I wonder how it would look shaped like Hello Kitty...

♥ Amanda Leigh

Friday, July 8, 2011

Could it be... a success?

I wrote this blog yesterday. But, because the internet was down all over Washington state the last couple of days I am putting it up now.


Remember that cute little idea I said I would come back to..? I MAY have gone with that instead of my original plan..

I got home from work today and wasted a lot of time being exhausted and hungry. It took a long time of pining after the internet and something warm to eat before I realized... I was complaining yesterday because I didn't have the time to get this started and now, with all the time in the world (or five or so hours behind I had to be in bed) and I was just sitting around feeling bored. I got up, grabbed some books for reference, all of  my supplies, a clean spot in the kitchen and... got scared. What if I messed up? Then I had wasted all that money and ingredient. How much was I supposed to use? I don't have a scale yet. I didn't even know if I wanted to add something to the lavender like salt or oatmeal. And even if I did how would I know if I was doing it right?! ...Then I saw my toasted rice fragrance oil sample. The one so nicely hidden in my package. And my roommate's Hello Kitty silicone ice tray.

I decided to start simple.

Toasted Rice Fragrance Oil Sample. 17 cent dropper I bought with my lavender. Soap Base. Silicone Hello Kitty ice tray. ...bowl. (My mother thinks I'm going to ruin her pans so no double boiler for me. I get to use the microwave.)

It was surprisingly easy to cut! I don't have a scale so I decided to break it down into general pounds to remember how much I used instead of just winging it with ingredients. I was worried it was going to be brittle and break but it had more the consistency of really dense butter.

I decided to use half a pound. I cut it into cubes and put it into the microwave. I was worried it would be difficult to melt and that I would stir it too much or it would take to long or anything I could possibly do wrong.

But it was so easy! It only took about four 20 second intervals and I barely had to stir it at all. It came out smooth and lovely.

I added about ten drops of the fragrance oil and it was plenty. My hands smelled like it all night. It was very strange eating food later...

I also added one drop of yellow. Just to make it pretty. Sadly food colouring is all I had so I made sure to use just barely any at all, so it wouldn't run on anyone's skin.

A bit messy... but my roomie enjoyed picking the excess off after it solidified a bit.

Then I just had to wait! I watched some cartoons, helped make dinner, stared at it for a while... I left it out on the counter, afraid to touch it to move it. I was pretty much afraid of doing ANYTHING so I had to cook around it. We picked at the excess, cleaned up a bit and argued about putting it in the fridge or not. I had some left over in a bowl that I poked at for a while, seeing how long it took to solid up. It went pretty quick but I made myself wait. I manged an hour before attempting to pop the first cute little hello kitty head out of the mold.

It came out perfect~!

Every single piece was solid and beautiful! They all came out so easily with the very minimal amount of air bubbles I had been so nervous about. (I have nothing to spray them down with like all the books keep telling me. More supplies in time!) My roomie oo-ed and ahh-ed my little brother and his friend NEEDED to touch and I am just so beyond proud of myself. Everyone in my family thinks they're adorable and I think so too. They look right, they smell right, nothing exploded and I had so much fun. It was like baking cookies but instead of sugar and butter I mixed oils and base and got cute little soaps instead. Roomie was the first to try it and I used some a little bit later.

I loved it. Sure I still have a lot to learn and this was the very basic of recipes with only the utensils I have around the kitchen but I can't wait to try some more. Looks like my blog isn't going to be only three posts long! That in itself feels like a victory.

I hope everyone's ready for some great smelling gifts!

♥ Amanda Leigh

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My soap base arrived last night!

I ordered two pounds of organic melt and pour soap base from Bramble Berry after, I will admit, not too much shopping around for a supplier. I wasn't looking too hard for anything beyond organic and ingredients I understood. I will probably play around with other suppliers (and of course ingredients) once I get a little more used to all this but for now I am very happy!

The site was very easy to navigate and  gave me all the information I needed. (Like in depth ingredients, which a few sites decided I didn't need to know.) The prices were better than the others I had found and the company is even just about an hour from where I live! I had my order within the week.

It arrived while I was at work. It's always nice to come home to a package. Just seeing it in person has gotten me all excited again.

And, while I was digging through the padding to get to my actual soap base...

I found a gift! A Toasted Rice Fragrance Sample. It smells delicious and I was so surpised it just made my day! It's given me an idea for some really cute little soaps that I will get back to later.

My lavender oil I bought a few weeks ago at Cornucopia, a food co-op in the city nearest mine. It has been waiting very patiently for me in my room.

Simple ingredients for a simple recipe (that keeps changing in my head as I look around my home) but we'll see what happens!

♥ Amanda Leigh

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I can't back out anymore...

Alright. I've done it. Essential oils bought, soap base on its way. I can't back out anymore.
Somewhere along the line I realized I wasn't doing anything in my life I enjoy anymore. All I do is work and try to sleep. Repeat, seven days a week and have become tired at the age of twenty-one. I don't write anymore, I don't sing anymore, I don't read anymore. It wasn't until (back to living with my parents) both of the cars we own broke down simultaneously, and us, thirty minutes out from civilization are back to the mercy of the bus system with no end in sight. (Lucky for us Island County's buses are free.) I was sure this was the beginning of even harder times but what I hadn't realized was that sitting on a bus there is nothing I can do but sit. Sit and relax and breathe and even finish a book. Halfway through my trip I found fifteen minutes to spend at the library. I am singing at the end of my street, waiting for the bus, even at five in the morning, I have read five books in the past month and sometimes even bring along a notebook to write in. While at the library last week I found a book on organic gardening and a few on soap making.

I'm excited. I'm ready to start doing the things I tell myself I am going to. Someday. Well, I'll have my supplies in a few days.

♥ Amanda Leigh