My Scented Serenity...

Welcome to my blog! Here you'll find the humble musings of a novice Aussie soap and candle maker. I hope you'll join me on my learning journey and feel free to leave comments, give advice and ask questions. I hope to be able to share with you my learnings, and inspire others, as much as so many talented people have inspired me.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Pamper Packs Revealed? Oh, alright then!

From previous post...

"Oh! It ended alright!"

It ended at about 1:30am Christmas morning with my husband and I finally tying up the last of the garbage bag tie offs to seal up the final pamper pack! heard correctly, garbage bags!  No, I didn't go troppo and throw all my hard work out in the rubbish...

Due to the size, weight, and awkwardness of the apple-barrel type pots that I chose to fill with goodies, we had no way of actually glamourously wrapping the finished product.  So we resorted to using big black garbage bags to hide the contents of packs with a little Christmas gift tag tied on with some curling ribbon!

And hide the contents of the packs these bags did...rather well actually.  I commented to my husband that the recipients would probably work out what they were getting just by the smells these pots emitted!  Being the curious bunch they are, I was sure they'd have it all sniffed out long before we got around to opening gifts on Christmas morning!  But, to my surprise, the plastic garbage bag hid the smells really well in fact, they actually emitted a rather foul, synthetic odour.  On presenting their gifts, I apologised for the stink and justified it by telling them all I had no other way to wrap these strange, weighty objects!

When it came to opening up the pressies Christmas morning, I had but one request of all the recipients - I asked if they would kindly leave our gift until last to open, and would they all open them at the same time?  I was looking for the ultimate surprise.  I was pretty sure this request wouldn't be an issue based on the perplexed look on their faces when they first laid eyes on these alien-looking gifts!

The long, drawn out opening-gifts-procedure of the morning was well worth it.  The look of surprise...or is that disbelief (?) on their faces was all the gift I needed.   Due to the amount of glassware in these packs, we loaded up the pots with heaps of shredded paper to cushion the jars so they wouldn't clang together and smash.  Not only was this a great way to recycle (?!) but it added to the fun - digging...searching...finding...

For the first time for the entire morning, there was quiet...not really a good sign one would've thought, however they were all in shock.  They couldn't quite believe what lay before them.  There was just so much!  What to look at first!

My husband and I struggle every year to work out what to buy others for Christmas.  In fact, it is a tradition that I have come to absolutely loathe.  Instead of being a joyful experience, I find it rather stressful - so much expectation - have I got the right thing...does it look like I've spent enough...will they actually like it...use it?  Have they got one already...?

It's own family actually missed out on all this soapy, smelly goodness as our family banned Christmas gift-giving quite a few years ago.  We still spend time with each other, but without all the fuss of expensive presents.  This has certainly been a stress-reliever, however my husband's family is still clinging tightly to that time-honoured tradition of giving gifts...hence some time spent coming up with something unique!

But this year, I knew we had to be on a winner.  I mean, who wouldn't love to get a huge pot full of goodies they can actually use and enjoy?

For the first time in a long time, my husband and I got sit back and relax and enjoy the show!

It was great to just sit and watch the reactions.  You always get one who dives in head first and has to pull everything out at once just to see the general scope of what they've received.  Then you'll get another who likes to take their time and look at and smell each individual item and appreciate what it does for their senses.  And then you always get the one who sits back and casts an eye at the overall picture and says how nice it all've put a lot of work into all of must have taken you ages to do it all...

Well yes!  It did!  Now start digging!!!

I guess it was just so overwhelming they didn't think there'd be anything under the top layer except a tonne of shredded paper....


Eventually, our grateful recipients came to realise the full extent of what they had just received...and for that I am truly thankful!

So, keeping in mind that photos could never really do justice to what was hidden in amongst all the recycled paper...

I would like to present to you my 2011 Christmas Pamper Packs!

The stockings were stuffed with chocolates and the gender-specific soaps... (and in this case, two bottles of wine also!)

There were palm pillar candles and soy container candles...

Bath bombs, M&P soaps, CP soaps...

And buried somewhere beneath all of that...a jar of sugar cube scrubs and bottles of homemade jam. 

And so ended my Christmas soaping marathon!

I was exhausted by the time I got to bed on Christmas Eve (well, Christmas morning actually!)...but absolutely elated at the result.

So what do you think?  Do my pamper packs 'tick-the-box' for a top-notch handmade personalised Christmas gift?  I would love to hear the thoughts and opinions of all you experienced soapmakers out there - if any of you are reading my blog that is!   This was a first for me so I would love to hear about what you do when it comes to pampering your loved ones.

Looking forward to your comments...great suds and bubbles to you all!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Pamper Packs Revealed? Not just yet!

Wow!  It has been a while since my last post!  I actually started my blog while my husband and I were away on our annual holiday.  It was a good time to sit and review, and consider what next.  Nothing like having endless hours and a very relaxing atmosphere to get your head space right!

In fact, while on the subject of holidays, I would actually like to take this opportunity to make a recommendation to all you holiday-seekers out there, and give a shout out at the same time to the management and staff ('cause they're great people!  Always friendly & helpful!) of  Blue Pacific Resort

If you ever have the chance to visit Mackay, in sunny Queensland, Australia, then I recommend a stop-over at this resort.  It is a great place just to relax and unwind.  There is so much to see and do in Mackay if you're the kind of 'hyperactive' holiday-maker who likes to have a very full itinerary...there are numerous islands just a stone's throw away  to visit and national parks, plenty of great places to eat, shop... 

Can you tell I like it here?!!  So much so, we have been spending our annual holidays here for at least the last fifteen years...our home away from home!  There's nothing like taking in the view with a stroll along beautiful Blacks Beach, or if you are like us, taking it easy on the deck chairs along the beachfront admiring the scene (we can often be spotted with a nice little glass of red in one hand)...

(or white!!)

I find the beachfront is a great place just to be still and think.  There's nothing like the sound of the ocean for soothing one's soul.

We often find ourselves still sitting here at sunset, too relaxed to wander back to our unit.

We were fortunate this trip to sit face to face with a full moon for a few evenings while watching the world go by on the beachfront.  Sometimes it's handy to have that mobile phone with you on holidays!

It was actually while were we here on one of our previous trips that I finally had the courage to have a go at my first ever CP soap. 

SOAP!  Ah yes, soap.  I've digressed enough.  Now that we are back home, and slowly getting back into the usual routine after a lovely, long, relaxing break, I've realised I haven't touched this blog!

So, I know I promised to reveal my pamper packs following my last post on my Christmas soaping marathon, however I think I want to show you some of my other goodies first.  Remember I mentioned there was to be a whole bunch of goodies in these packs?  Well, there was a whole lot of 'stuff' crammed into the apple-barrel like pots I bought especially for the job.

After my CP marathon came M&P soaps, sugar scrubs, bath bombs, candles, some applique work and even some cooking!

I was being totally adventuresome with this plan.  Not only was I new to soapmaking, but I'd never even laid eyes on sugar scrubs before, and only ever once before had I made bath bombs.  But, with a little help from the Soap Queen and her TV tutorials, I was ready for anything!

I decided to try a sugar scrub recipe I obtained from the Soap Queen blog (from memory, I think acknowledgement should go to Erin Pikor from Naiad Soap Arts, for the recipe), as well as another I borrowed from Jude's Aussie Soap Supplies Recipe Formulary.  While I found both of these recipes great starting points, I couldn't help making a few tweaks here and there, and eventually settling on the tweaked formula for the end result.  These little yummies were scented with Strawberry, Watermelon, White Tea & Ginger, Applejack Peel and Cinnamon Sugar fragrance oils.

Sliced and diced, a dozen of these cubes fit nicely into a bail jar.

Unfortunately, in my frenzy to beat the clock, I neglected to photograph my bath bombs.  Mind you, it was slim pickings to find a perfectly formed fizzy to photograph!  Living here in tropical North Queensland, the temperature and humidity here around Christmastime is incredible.  I had all sorts of hassles trying to get my bath bombs to form properly and actually hold together long enough to set.  If they weren't falling apart on me, they were setting hard in the moulds and refusing to come out!  I was thinking this might be a nice little extra sideline for my range of bath products...but now I'm not so sure.  :/

In between bouts of soapmaking, I was also candlemaking.  This is another craft I've really grown fond of.  I think I've mentioned in an earlier post how I had gone down the candlemaking track once before, but soon lost interest as I was displeased with the quality of wax and fragrance I was using.  But recently I've been able to renew my skills in this area but with good quality soy and palm waxes (yeah, yeah I know...if I'm being ecologically conscientious, I wouldn't be using palm wax, but I do make sure I purchase the sustainable variety from recognised suppliers), good quality FOs and EOs and 100% cotton wicks.  If I'm honest, I'd have to say I actually prefer the palm wax to soy as I find the scent throw to be better and, how about those wonderful patterns in the finished products!  Gorgeous!

Here is my collection of pamper pack palm pillar candles...

I didn't get around to photographing my soy collection, but there were basically three kinds of container candles produced in varying sizes and fragrances.

In between times, while waiting for soaps and candles to cure, I'd do some stitches here and there in my attempt to create each family member a special Christmas stocking.  I had planned to do this many years ago however I just never seemed to find the time with my hectic working life.  Not only did I not have a great deal of free time, I also lacked the inspiration and motivation.  This project always seemed to end up in the 'too hard basket'.  But this year was it!  I was determined to make them no matter what!  So I got busy making eight different stockings!

These six were for the fam...

One for my husband...

And one for me!

While I'd like to take credit for the design of these little beauties, I can't.  Four of the patterns were created by The Chook Shed Pattern Company.  The other four I designed myself based on the Chook Shed's pattern.

Now I know you think I've gone a little nuts with all this Christmas stuff...and you'd be right!  But I was on fire!  I was really in the zone!  So why stop there?  You'd think all this would be more than enough, but oh no! 

Did I mention cooking?  Yep, that's right.  To round this package off nicely, I had great intentions of baking up a storm with some treats like Chocolate Fudge, White Christmas, Rocky Road, all those nice things, and shoving them in a jar just to add one last little bit of sweetness to the whole deal!  But what I didn't count on was, just how long all of this was going to take, plus...having to label, wrap and package all the bits and pieces!!

So, common sense prevailed and I just let go of the baking idea.  Luckily though, because we'd had an influx of homegrown fruit...mangoes from our trees, bananas from my mum, rockmelons from friends...I had already been busy teaching myself how to make jam!  I know! What next I hear you ask!  I had oodles of the stuff!  So I had the stocking stuffers I needed, and with one little trip to the supermarket just to round off the yumminess with some chocolates...I was done!

I can almost hear you breathing a sigh of relief!! :p

You thought this saga would never end...didn't you?!

Oh!  It ended alright....

Until the next episode...happy soaping!