How I Got Started

I started Butterfly gardening many years ago. My yard has been a progression over the years, and has made many transformations. Twenty years ago I experienced Hurricane Andrew. My yard and house were destroyed. We decided not to replace the pool screening and open up the backyard and put in some landscaping. That was the official beginning of my love for gardening in South Florida. I added a beautiful water garden years ago, and have been adding host and larvae plants for pollinators, mostly for the butterfly, for as many years as I can remember. I had my yard certified as a Natural Habitat, through the National Wildlife Foundation. To have a natural habitat you need to provide and meet certain requirements: 1. Provide a food source, 2. Provide a water source, 3. Cover, 4. A place to raise young. I try not to use any pesticides in my yard. I vermicompost and recycle as many of my food scraps as possible. If I had more land I would have a huge compost bin to recycle all my yard cuttings. Basically, I try to lessen my carbon footprint on this earth. In my own little world or backyard I try to provide an ecosystem in my water garden, provide birdbaths, birdfeeders, hummingbird nectar sources, feeders, puddling areas, host plants and nectar plants for butterflies and other pollinators. I am hoping to raise everyone’s awareness of the importance of saving our Butterflies, Blooms & Bees. Without them our world and food source will be in trouble. I hope you all enjoy my journey. I am not a Master Gardener, or Master Beekeeper, an Entomologist, or Journalists. I am simply a Backyard Gardener who is trying to lessen her Carbon Footprint of this Earth.

I hope you enjoy my blogs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My First Soap Contest!

I just entered my first soap challenge through the Great Cakes Soapworks. This month’s Soap Challenge Club was a little different, in that it did not involve a specific design, but the use of colors. There were two choices, a Natural Color Selection and a Synthetic Color Selection. Of course, I chose the Natural Color Selection for my first soap challenge. I actually had been planning to make a soap using all Natural Colorants. I purchased the sample pack of Brazilian Clays from Brambleberry, and also the Indian Sandalwood fragrance oil. The sample pack contained a Natural, Purple, Yellow, Pink, and Dark Red. I used the Natural, Yellow, and Dark Red to match the color palette for this challenge. I also used Annatto Seed that I had infused in oil and White Kaolin Clay. I used Paprika and Turmeric to make the orange color, and activated Charcoal for the black/gray color. I used 6 colors in all. The challenge required that you use between 3-6 colors to match the palette. As I said earlier, I had purchased the Indian Sandalwood Fragrance Oil from Brambleberry. I did a little research on the website to see how this fragrance behaved in cold process soap. It was perfect, no acceleration, and no discoloration. That was exactly what I was looking for. I needed the colors to be true in this soap challenge, and it was very important for me to not choose a fragrance oil that would discolor my color palette in any way. Here is a picture of the Natural Color Palette. I was so excited to see this challenge because this is what I had been visualizing in my mind, to create my soap using the Sandalwood fragrance oil, and my Brazilian Clay Sampler.

So how did I actually create each color that I used in my soap?

  • Color #1: I used Paprika and Turmeric and added a little of the Red Clay.
  • Color #2: I used the Dark Red Brazilian clay.
  • Color #3: I used activated Charcoal.
  • Color #4: I used a combination of Annatto Seed and Yellow Brazilian Clay.
  • Color #5: I used a combination of the Natural Brazilian Clay and White Kaolin Clay.
  • Color #6: I used my soap base as its own color.

For my Soap recipe I used Amy Warden’s Super White Base Recipe. This recipe consisted of:

  • Coconut Oil 45%
  • Refined Shea Butter 20%
  • Lard 15%
  • Avocado Oil 15%
  • Castor Oil 5%.


Here are some pictures of the results from my first soap challenge. I really enjoyed participating and learned a lot from this challenge. I don’t think I had ever made soap with 6 colors in it before. I chose to do a drop swirl for my design. I needed to watch my recipe and soap at cool enough temperatures as to not accelerate trace, but not too cool so that my soap would not gel. Gelling actually brings out the colors in your soap. It also speeds up the time that your soap needs to cure. I believe I soaped at approximately 100 degrees. I insulated my soap, and placed it on a heating pad as to force gel.

I think the soap turned out pretty good. My red color could have been a little deeper but this was the only Red Brazilian clay I had to work with. I was able to manipulate the other colors to get a truer color to the palette. I wish you all could smell how soft and peaceful this Indian Sandalwood smells. I love it. I have had this soap curing on my kitchen counter for the last few days and I absolutely love the fragrance oil, and I have enjoyed looking at all the colors and varied patterns that the drop swirl gave me.

Thanks Amy for this challenge!
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