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, September 10, 2014

In the Pot Swirl Challenge

Although my blog is supposed to be about my garden and bees, somehow my garden and bees have led me to my soaping. Thank you my bees for your honey and beeswax. Without them I would never have discovered how to make lip balms, mead etc., which then led me to soap making. I have been so extremely busy between work and soap making that I have had very little time to update my blog post. I have been saying for months that I need to write about my bees, which are doing great. I will have been beekeeping for 3 years this October. Hard to believe! The bees are doing great and I am up to 7 very strong hives. I am starting to realize that their greatest by-product is their beeswax which I use in many of my products. I also want to write a blog about my chickens which I recently added to my family in February. They are all laying now and are a great addition to my backyard homestead. Someday if life slows down a little bit I may be able to actually write a post about the chickens and my bees. But for now I need to be writing about my second soap challenge, with Amy Warden’s Great Cake Soap Works.

This is my second soap challenge that I am entering. This month it was all about the “In the Pot Swirl”. I made two different soaps for this challenge, a Black Raspberry Vanilla and Lovely Lilac. I have wanted to make these two soaps for awhile, and this challenge got my creative juices flowing so fast that I created both of these soaps for this challenge.

Lilacs are my favorite flower. Well I actually have many favorite flowers!! I am originally from the Northeast and loved spring up north when all the tulips and flowers were in bloom. My children have somehow ended up back up north while I remain in Florida. I love the winters here, but I miss many of the traditions that the Northeast brings with each season. Lilacs are one of them. So I decided that I needed to create a soap to reflect my love of Lilacs. As I am writing this blog I have the soap across from me on the kitchen counter and I can smell the beautiful floral aroma of the lilac soap. It makes me melancholy for the Northeast, my children, and the spring. I have a friend that I also created this soap for; we have talked about my making this Lilac soap for awhile. I can’t wait to give her a bar of this “Lovely Lilac” soap.

So how did I go about creating this soap? Amy suggested using a fragrance oil that would behave well. I knew for a fact that Lilac fragrance oil, since it is a floral, would accelerate trace. So to combat the effects of acceleration I decided to use my Goat’s Milk recipe, which behaves very well. I soaped at very cool temperatures. I made sure all my micas were mixed and the last thing I would add would be the fragrance oil, right before I did the “in the pot swirl”. I wanted this soap to remind me of a Lilac flower, so I chose dark purple mica, lighter purple mica, and I also combined two green micas to create my green for the leaves. I wanted to make sure that I decorated the top to look like a lilac flower. I enjoy piping and wanted the flowers to look realistic, so I tried to create the stem and leaves by using green piping to connect the flowers. I didn’t add any fragrance oil to the piping as I knew I would not be able to work with the batter. I did get a little bit of ricing, but not enough to effect the technique of the “in the pot swirl”. I didn’t take a lot of pictures while I was soaping because I really wasn’t able to, as I was trying to prevent acceleration. I was so focused on what I was doing that I totally forgot to take the pictures. I realize now that it might have been important for me to take a few more pictures. I enjoy these challenges as they push me to try techniques that I normally do not use. I haven’t done a lot of soaps with the “in the pot swirl.” I think that the swirls are always kind of muted. I tend to prefer a drop swirl, but this gave me some more experience practicing my technique with the “in the pot swirl.” I am not sure how my swirls look, but I definitely love my Lilac soap. I am very pleased with how it turned out. I absolutely love the creative process of making soap. Despite how busy I am with my real job right now, making soap and being creative somehow calms me, and I need it in my life!

My Black Raspberry Vanilla Soap I created the same way but this time I knew the fragrance oil would behave well. I used my normal soaping recipe, as I wasn’t as concerned about acceleration with this fragrance oil. For the creative process for this soap I wanted it to look like a realistic raspberry dessert. I created the raspberry embeds several days before and tried to make the berries look as realistic as possible. I chose micas that reminded me of colors associated with black raspberry; dark purple mica called Tempest, a purple/pink color, Squirt, Bazooka jo, a lighter pink color, and Purple Haze, a medium purple color. All these mica colors are by Mad Oils. I love their micas and have been using them in my soap as of recently. Mad Oils are located here in Florida, so when I order from them the turnaround time is quick. Plus I love their colors. I think my soap turned out really good. Again I loved the creative process of making the soap. I added some M&P to the top of the soap. It penetrated down a little bit into the soap, but I wanted the purple/raspberry layer. I am not sure how my actual “in the pot swirl” technique turned out, but I am very pleased with this soap. I love the Black Raspberry Vanilla fragrance oil.

I thoroughly enjoyed this challenge! I love the two soaps I created, but of course I’m biased. Entering these challenges isn’t so much about winning, but about the creative process, and continuing to stretch my techniques by learning something new, and make me a better soaper.
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