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