Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A new digital is in my future

I have been researching cameras for months literally. Why? Because I realize that it's important to accurately display my products in the best possible light to potential customers. Better product photos in essence mean better sales. Photo editing will only take you so far if you are working with outdated equipment and an inferior picture to start with.

There's always room for improvement is my motto. While I would love a digital SLR my budget at the moment will not allow for one. So here is my splurge for December. Canon Powershot 7.1 MP A570. I can't wait to get it to start playing around with white balance settings and exposure rates.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Love hate relationship with Ultramarine Pink

I love working with oxides and ultramarines. Why is it that Pink Ultramarine is so hard to deliver a nice pink shade? Most say if you use too little you end up with gray soap shade. If you use too much you end up with purple? I just don't get it. All I wanted was medium pink soap to reflect off a brown swirl. I may need to up my usage rate next time. I am afraid if I overdo it the color will tint a washcloth. My ultramarine purple came out fine for a swirl. It figures.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Southern Pleasures Giveaway

I am in a pretty giving mood this time of the year. I call it a time of reflection of my life and future goals.

One fortunate reader of my blog will win one premium handcrafted soap of their choice with accompanying wooden soap dish. Please send me an email at to enter with your name and a forwarding email address. I will pick a random winner on January 31, 2008. Have a safe holiday season everyone.

*This offer is open to United States residents only.

*I want everyone to know that providing me with your email address is information that only I will have access to for this giveaway. This information will not be shared with anyone. Nor will you receieve any soliciting emails from me.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Whipped Shea Body Butter

I finally got my supplies from MMS-The Sage today and devised a simple whipped Shea Body Butter. Since I have never made one before I wanted to keep the ingredients simple. All I used was Shea Butter(refined). The Unrefined shea smells pretty bad. I also had some grapseed oil in my fridge from a soap batch I did two months ago. Grapeseed is a lighter oil. I wanted to try some sweet almond oil but was too lazy to go to the grocery store. Hmm maybe for the next batch? It whipped out to perfection and looked just like frosting. I scented it with White tea with Ginger Fragrance Oil from Tonys Fragrance Oils. I am going to enjoy testing this butter out on my own skin for the next couple of weeks because it feels so wonderful on my skin. I regret I just purchased some shea moisturizer from ulta the other day. I plan to whip up some more batches of this stuff for myself. I really wish I bought more shea now and possibly some jars to give out to my testers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Five L's of Lifting

The busy holiday season is a happy time for all. Although it can bring its own hosts of problems for you. Be sure to take care of your back during this holiday season while you are busy loading the heavy packages and boxes into your car or into your home or picking up those heavy grand kids. I often teach my patients to employ these same techniques with regards to proper lifting at their prospective jobs. These are the five basic L's of Lifting.

  • Load- You need to be sure what you are attempting to lift can safely be lifted by just yourself or if you need to get assistance from another person to perform the lift. Basically you are testing the load. Its easy. If its too heavy GET SOME HELP!

  • Lever- Keep the load to close to your body with your back upright and straight. This helps to shorten the lever arm. Be sure to bend your knees to get close to the object you are lifting. Do not bend at your waist at a 90 degree angle.

  • Lordosis- Make sure you are keeping the hollow space in your back during the lift. Your vertebral column in your back has a natural curvature to it.

  • Legs- Ensure you are lifting your load with your leg muscles and not using your back muscles to support this lift entirely. Your leg muscles have far more power and are stronger than your back muscles. Let those legs do the work for you! Be sure you move your feet in the direction you want to move to with your load in hand. Watch out for twisting movements with your trunk and feet.

  • Lungs- Inhale with your lungs as you begin to lift the load. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift. Make sure you are consciously breathing during lifting. Don't hold your breath.

If you keep these simple tips in mind you are well on your way to protecting your back for this busy holiday season and beyond. Be safe everyone!

November was National Physical Therapy Month Happy Belated PT Month to all Physical Therapists and Physical Therapists Assistants

I know I am late with acknowleding Physical Therapy Month for November. However I wanted to say thank you to all physical therapists and physical therapist assistants for all the tiring work they do with patients to help them regain their function.

Physical Therapy is the process of helping a
patient recover from any type of illness or medical condition which has left them with poor functional mobility. In the course of the rehabilitation we may use such physical agents or modalities as light therapy, cold therapy, electrical stimulation and others to assist us with enhancing the quality of our hands on treatments. Physical therapists treat a wide range of conditions from working with patients who have had motor vehicle accidents, strokes, orthopedic type of problems, spinal chord injuries, traumatic brain injuries as well as a host of many more problems. I feel honored to be a part of this growing profession since 1995 as a physical therapist assistant. My area of experience is in Geriatric Rehabilitation. For many years I worked as the sole physical therapist assistant in a 110 bed facility that provided specialized care for patients afflicted with Alzheimers Disease. I know the work I have provided my patients have done them great benefit. Many patients were told that they would never walk again. Through all my efforts with working on their standing balance, increasing their leg strength and flexibility and working on their Gait did make a difference. It improved their functional mobility and improved the quality of their lives. It's rewarding to see someone be able to do something that they may not have been able to do for quite some time. If you are interested in a career in physical therapy please see what the American Physical Therapy Association can provide in terms of resources and what this career entails. American Physical Therapy Association

The ethical debate over palm oil

Palm oil is a stable vegetable oil that is commonly used by soapmakers to promote a hard and mild soap bar. Its also an oil that is used in the production of all sorts of products ranging from cereals to processed cakes and cookies. Its a staple in many other beauty products like creams and lipsticks. Most palm oil is produced in Maylasia and Indonesia. Collectivley these two areas have benefited from 33 through 41 cent per shares of the global market of this oil(Furniss,C.(2006). Despite this great expansion, these two countries are direcectly responsible for destroying one of the worlds most precious natural resources which is the rainforest, through the production of this oil.

The production also threatnens the natural habitat of Sumantan and Bornean orangutans. Their habitiat is essentially destroyed because of forests being cleared to began producing the palm oil. What's even more disturbing is that by nature these animals are attracted to the lush palm fruit and are tormented by workers in palm plantations. The animals are viewed as a threat and pests to the production. Some plantations have even gone as far as offering some type of reward to their workers who bring in dead orangutans or supplying evidence of having killed one(Furniss,C(2006). Not only is this area inhabitated by orangutans but other species of animals like elephants. Is it really fair that these animals are subjected to this type of persecution over the production of palm oil? It's ironic that we are eager partakers of the worlds natural resources and materials but we are also guilty of destroying these very resources that many are dependent on, to sustain life. What can be done about this problem? I for one love the characteritics that palm oil lends to my soap recipes however as a soapmaker I am facing a major crisis of consicience regarding this issue.I hope to shed some insight into possible solutions in future posts.

* I must rightfully acknowledge the article written by Charlie Furniss of Geograhical Magazine March 2006 for providing the above facts.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The creative process is limitless

I often wonder if I was not a soapmaker what else besides school and working a full time job would occupy the rest of my time. I appreciate the knowledge I have gained with this craft as well as the ability to express my creative talent. The other night I was brainstorming on other ways to get creative with cold process soaps. My favorite technique is being able to texturize soaps to give visual interest.

You would be suprised but a wire wisk does wonders at giving all sorts of effects. Normally I like to make the illusion of soft textured peaks with soap. The back of a spoon or using a butter knife works nicely to give off a frosting like texture on the tops. I used a wire wisk for this effect by dipping the wisk in the soap batter after I poured it in the mold. Once I pulled the wisk out it created this cool effect. Many folks like to keep their soaps untextured but I think texturizing adds some visual interest and appeal to your products. See for yourself what you can create with your own tools in your kitchen.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I wish it was springtime already

It's been quite cool down here in the Carolinas considering we had a rave of springtime like weather a week ago. I was so inspired by thoughts of springtime that I made a new soap yesterday. It's scented with Daystars's Stonewashed Cotton. It reminds me of fresh laundry that has been drying outside

Whipped Body Butter

My next adventure in formulating is to come up with a body butter that will soothe dry skin. My skin this time of year can be a little dried out if I am not using a moisturizer. Although not nearly dried out if I was using store bought soap. I haven't used that stuff on my skin in quite a long time since I have began creating my own recipes for cold process soap. As long as I am able to make my own soap I will never go back to store bought. Anyway back to the body butter. I am looking to use high contents of shea butter as well as some lighter oils like sweet almond and sunflower. I just purchased a grip of products from MMS-The Sage so in a few days I will start playing around with a recipe.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Luxury Soaps

Presently I have been working on expanding my line with new products. I am working on devising a luxury soap bar recipe with shea butter, mango butter, cocoa butter, olive oil and a few other oils. My quest is to continue to keep my line afforable and a great value. So much to do in so little time! Have a great winter everyone and keep an eye out for new product offerings in the future.
During the rest of December Southern Pleasures will offer a generous 20% off of all products!
Please use special code: spwinter to recieve your discount. Code must be entered at checkout to recieve discount.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Welcome to Southern Pleasures

My business deals with the creation and marketing of my own handcrafted premium body products. My emphasis is primarily on creating cold process soaps as I have more control over the type of product I want to create. I devise my own recipes with all types of luxurious oils and butters to produce a mild soap bar that is not only healthy for your skin but lathers very well.