Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How It's Done: House Of Almonds

Here's a  look in photos of a batch of "House of Almonds" being made.

Make sure your pot of soap is at a light trace. This makes working with the raw soap much easier for playing with layers, splots, drops, or splatters. I always have my ingredients in a see through tray or shoe box, labeled with a sticky note on the inside, and I pop my recipe sheet in there too.

When making your own recipe sheet, make sure to detail all the jugs of soap you'll need, what colors, and how much to reserve for future stages as your batch of soap is built up.

I've poured off some of the base soap into a plastic jug, and here I'm adding rose clay to make the bottom layer a nice pink color.

Incorporate the powder with a spatula first, before moving on to the stick blender. Once you have a smooth batter, pour into the mold.

Wait a little until the layer of pink has set up enough to hold the weight of your next layer. Carefully spoon the soap from your base pot onto the pink, nestling the little dollops close together as you go along. Smooth off with back of spatula to level, ready for the next stage.

Here, I've added some sweet almond oil to a little rose clay powder, and have worked it through to a nice smooth paste with the spatula.

Holding the jug from a height, I'm pouring small individual slops into the batter across the whole layer. Holding the jug high adds weight the the soap, causing it to fall through the white layer. The height of the jug rules the kind of effect you get in the finished soap. Here, I'm going for a tear drop effect, so I need plenty height. I've used about a third of the jug for the drops.

Holding the jug close to the soap now, I'm pouring the batter to finish off the layer. I work in lines to make it easier for spreading out. This is helpful when working with a thickened batter.

Working with the remaining leftovers of all three colors, I'm now building up the top layer in splodges from the spatula. Splodges of dark pink... of white... and then of light pink.

Here, I'm using a bamboo skewer (found in packs in the barbecue section of the supermarket), to twirl, trail, and lift up little peaks. This is the real fun part, and it's very difficult sometimes to stop yourself from playing with all the pretty patterns.

And another batch of "House of Almonds" is born, as the soap sets the mold for 24 hours, sits logged up for 5 days, and then is hand cut into bars and shelved for four to six weeks of cure.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Thanks

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Memorial Day. May 28th, 2012.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chasing The Moon

Tonight brings us a special full moon. It's gonna be the biggest and brightest full moon we've seen in a hundred years. You can catch it around sunset as it first starts to peep on the horizon. It's gonna look absolutely huge.

For moon chasers like me and Jason, it's gonna be an exciting night as we jump in the car and... chase the moon. Sometimes it beats us, and has risen too high before we get the chance to snap the perfect pic. Other times the clouds envelope it and it's a wipe out. We've been hoping all week that tonight just might bring us the perfect sky.

Right now though, it's a gloomy and wet morning out there. Looking at the weather forecast for tonight, it looks like we're probably gonna have to chase the sky too. It won't be the first time we've hopped across a few states in search of the perfect moon.  Jason's checking the weather station stats with his breakfast. My adrenaline is running already. The moon chase is on!

*The moon in the pic is the Cardinal Moon we chased back in July 2010. If you click on it, you'll see it much closer up.