It has been weeks since I've been meaning to write an update about Vintage Girls- and it's heartbreaking to write the words, but I must- I'm very sorry to say that we are closing our Vintage Girls online boutique. The last few years have been a wonderful adventure filled with amazing friends. But it's also been a very difficult couple of years with the loss of both of my parents- my mother, who taught me the love of gardening, and my father, who taught me how to love the little things in life. They were both a huge part of my daily life- and the life of my children- and were the raison d'être of my Vintage Girls. Of course, I will continue to garden and make my soaps and creams for my family- but will no longer sell the products. I may upkeep my blog- but right now, I've been taking some time out with my family and needed time for myself. I want to thank you all for your support- I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to share my love of gardening with you all!
This post has been a long time coming as I'd promised a few DIY's months ago, and on top of that, we've been busy with the sale of our home and the move. Yup, we've sold our house and moved into a rental townhouse, while we are busy building our new home in the country. We are both excited and anxious- this is a huge project!
As for our current rental- it's very cosy and modest. And yes, the kitchen is quite small- yikes! I was very spoiled at our home on Wilfrid Lavigne. Our kitchen was huge, which made soap making much easier. Of course, you can make soap in any size of kitchen, but I loved making layered soaps where each layer had its own infusion and flower juice and puree.
I have made soaps in the past with as much as 4 different layers, but because of the way I make soap, this means 4 pots for the oils and another 4 pots for the water and lye. So for the time being, I'll stick to simpler soaps, and there is a bonus to this- the soap is chock-full of very carefully selected ingredients.
Before We Begin
Before we proceed with this DIY, I just want to note: this is how I make soap and soap can be made quite a number of different ways. I've spoken to many an artisan who has different techniques and uses different ingredients: they prefer certain oils, they love scent and will add fragrance or essential oils, and some will even calculate their batches differently using water discounts. Soap making is a very personal art-form and as you begin to make it yourselves, I'm sure you'll find out pretty quickly what works and doesn't work for you.
As well, I won't be able to go into the step-by-step on this DIY as I'm not able to take pictures of each step of the process (I can stop now and then to take a pic- but that's if I remember! LOL), plus there are quite a few tutorials, even YouTube Videos, on the basic steps of soap-making. Here is a link to the Basics of Cold Process Soap and of course a Safety Tutorial on Back to Basics: Lye Safety.
Soap Recipe & Calculation
The soap I have made for this DYI is my Chamomile & Calendula Soap. I've of course added some new ingredients. As you've probably noticed, I always change my recipes and try new ingredients that I believe will make the original soap more luxurious and soothing to skin. This new recipe now includes Rose Juice/Purée from my gardens, Organic Rosehip Powder and Organic Cocoa Butter.
So the full list of ingredients includes: Shea butter**(butyrospermum parkii). Chamomile+ (matricaria chamomilla), calendula+ (calendula officinalis) and rose+ (rosa canina) juice and purée. Coconut oil*(cocons nucifera), cocoa (theobroma cacao) seed butter*, olive oil*(olea europaea) and GMO-free avocado oil (persea gratissima). Sodium hydroxide (for saponification). Beeswax* (cera alba), rosehip powder* (rosa canina). Topped with Chamomile flowers+. (* certified organic ingredient, ** certified organic and fair trade certified ingredient, + harvested by Vintage Girls).
You probably wonder how I calculate my recipes. I actually use the Brambleberry Online Lye Calculator. I find it quick and efficient and I haven't had any issues since I've started using it. So my recipe looks like this:
I chose to do a batch of 200 ounces, at a 5% superfat:
Lye - 768.76g
Chamomile, Calendula & Rose Spring Water Juice - 1871.10g
Avocado - 453.60g
Beeswax - 113.40g
Cocoa Butter - 1134g
Coconut Oil - 1417.50g
Olive Oil - 1134g
Shea Butter - 1417.50g
Chamomile, Calendula & Rose Puree
Combining Water & Lye
My next step is making the flower juice/puree. It's a very simple process, but also time consuming. You can use fresh, dried or frozen flowers. I used my frozen flowers as these were gathered in the summer months and have been in my freezer waiting to be turned into soap.
I add these flowers in my blender with a bit of natural spring water. I then let it sit for a few minutes to infuse, and then I blend and strain. For the lye and water solution, you cannot have any of the puree in the mix. Otherwise, your calculations will be way off- you must have a water and lye solution only. So I make sure to press out/strain the blended flowers with a cheese-cloth and save the puree for later.
For more info on combining water and lye, please refer to the Safety Tutorial on Back to Basics: Lye Safety
Putting it all Together
Combining the oils, butters and beeswax is pretty simple- just make sure to heat the batch slowly as you don't want to burn the oils. As for why I choose these ingredients? I like to use butters and beeswax because these provide a harder and longer lasting bar, plus they are so luxurious on the skin! Another reason for using beeswax is that it will actually cut down your mixing time when you combine your lye solution with your oils- trace will come very quickly. This can be a tad tricky when doing a layered soap, as you have to be quick to put down your layers- but with a pair of extra hands (my husband's), it works pretty well.
As an aside, here's a nifty little Soapmaking Oil Chart that I thought was worth a share! It gives examples of soft, brittle and hard oils/butters in soapmaking.
Before I combine the oils/butters/wax with my lye/water solution, I add my purees and my powdered rosehips to the oil batch. I don't want to worry about everything coming to trace as I'm still trying to ensure the rosehip powder and purees are thoroughly mixed.
Once all is mixed in, I wait for my pot of oils/butters/beeswax AND my pot of lye solution to be at 120°F before I combine the two pots. Then I hand mix with a spatula and mixer, and once it reaches trace, I pour the batch into one of my boxes (lined with parchment to ensure it doesn't leak into the corners). With this particular soap, I sprinkled my dried chamomile buds on top.
In the past I actually did this soap with two layers, separated by a line of powdered charcoal, so I'm curious to see what this batch will look like. Now I have to wait a couple of days for the soap to harden, then I get to cut the bars and set them aside 4-6 weeks to cure. I'll be back next week with some pictures after I've cut the bars!
Would love to hear how you guys craft your soaps- or what types of ingredients you would love to see in my next batch!
As you can see we’ve changed both the Look and Name of our Website! When we started Vintage Girls, our focus was product development and promotional events, with a few blog entries to showcase these very things. But as the months progressed and we started getting more feedback from our clients, there grew a huge interest in why we got started and how we made our products. And so began our weekly blog posts on Gardening, Product How-To's, Garden Tours, Guest Bloggers and more.
But we felt that our Blog could include broader topics of discussion, maybe even a few posts unrelated to gardening and Vintage Girls. And so we opted to re-imagine our Blog, by giving it a separate name while still allowing us to retain our online Vintage Girls Shop.
As such, we would like to welcome you to Fleur & Ficelle! My very own place to share my ramblings and musings on my every day of gardening, handcrafting products, book-making, home organization and more. In fact, this year, I will be posting quite a bit about our new home construction! That's right, we sold our home and are moving to the country!!
We are moving on 2 acres of land, out in the Pontiac, Quebec area, which is just a few minutes from where we live now, Aylmer, Quebec. My parents gifted me this land a few years ago and it is just a couple acres down from where I lived as a child. The acreage has never been touched- ever. It is filled with huge and beautiful Cedar Trees, which we hope to keep (fingers crossed as many are so old), as well as one very tall wild Apple Tree. The land is one acre up from the Ottawa River and has a breathtaking view of the water. We are blessed to have been given such beautiful land on which to build our dream home, share old memories with our children, as well as make some amazing new one's.
A dear friend of mine recently shared her sister's article from the Canadian Wildlife Federation- and I just LOVED it! In the article, April Overall, shares her guilt of building a new home in the Ottawa Suburbs. By clearing her plot of land to build a home, she explains, she is "essentially robbing wildlife of their home."
I've actually felt the exact same way these last few months. A couple of years ago, I inherited two acres of land in the country from my parents. The land is only a few minutes away from where we live now, but the thought of building on this beautiful land, in the exact area where I grew up as a child, is very heartwarming. Not only will I "recapture" my childhood, but I will also share the beauty and loveliness of this land with my four children.
But as April Overall points out in her article, all of this comes at a price. And this is so very true: the thought of cutting down those beautiful trees and digging up the earth so as to make room for our home is truly heart breaking. This is one reason why it took us such a long time to even consider selling our home and starting our new project.
But like April Overall, the article's author, we are determined that with every change we make to this land, will be made with the intent to give back ten-fold by re-establishing and protecting the wildlife areas and providing food, cover, water, and space to those creatures who live on the land and of course to those who come by for a visit or two!
So with this in mind (and hoping we can share our new Home project in the near future), please enjoy April Overall's article in the Canadian Wildlife Federation "New Home Buyer's Guilt."
As you all know, our skin care products are free of fragrances, perfumes and even essential oils. We only use fresh or dried flowers and herbs from our gardens, sometimes even our fruit and vegetables. Our whole process is showcased throughout our Website and blog. Our The Love of the Craft, is one of our most popular blog entries on the subject, and our scent-free soaps are a perfect example of a scent-free skin care product that is chock-full of freshly juiced and powdered flowers and herbs. Even our handcrafted skin care products that have a scent actually grab their scent, colour and healing properties from the flower and herb infusion.
In Fragrance is the new Secondhand Smoke, the author, underlines the potential hazards of fragrance, perfumes and even some types of essential oils. Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Consultant, Building Materials Specialist, Certified Baubiologist, Certified Baubiology Inspector, and Board Certified Nutritionist, who links and refers to added scents as the New Secondhand Smoke.
As she says in her article:
"Trying to link the past with the present fragrance industry unfortunately reveals a radical disconnect and departure from the original therapeutic purpose and use of pure essential oils. Today’s synthetic fragrances are a far cry from the healing balms treasured so much by the ancient world that some were worth more than gold. Instead of being medicinal, today’s fragranced products are associated with diabetes, obesity, autism, ADD/ADHD and hormone disruption. Sadly, the person wearing or using the fragrance is not the only one affected. Synthetic fragrance affects air quality for those sharing the space as well."
From pure to perverse, it is twisted irony that the word fragrance has now gained infamy as the new secondhand smoke when the etymology of the word perfume comes from the Latin phrase, “per” meaning “through” and “fumus” meaning “smoke”. The emerging awareness of this very “volatile” situation reveals problems much more pervasive and dangerous than tobacco smoke."
This article is a must-read! Fragrance is the new Secondhand Smoke
We are super excited about the Lord Aylmer Home and School's Vesey's Bulb fundraiser and what better way to plan for our Spring and Summer Gardens than by reading-up on some gardening tips and tricks.
So we scoured the Web and found some great How-To articles on the Canadian Wildlife Federation (CWF) Website. From planning and designing your gardens, to selecting native plants and tons of great info on how-to recreate natural habitats and wildlife-friendly gardens, you'll definitely love the info and pics on the CWF Website.
Hi and Welcome!
I'm a vintage kind of gal who loves working in the heart of my home and gardens. I am a mom to four beautiful children and a freelance copywriter. Fleur & Ficelle is a catch-all for my ramblings & musings.