Lifestyle

Health awakening

I apologize for this post in advance. For some reason, I wasn’t as inspired as I usually am. That’s why it took me so long to write. I’m going through the motions, but my usual wit and charm is pretty lacking. Sowwies! Enjoy anyway 🙂

I’m pretty sure that if you ask most people in my life if I’m a healthy person or not, they would say yes. And, in general, I am. I work out consistently, I try to get my veggies in (salads for lunch, a sensible dinner…I sound like a Jenny Craig commercial…), and I am obsessed with going to doctors. Name a type of doctor and I’ve probably been to them. Some may call me a hypochondriac. I just like to say I’m proactive. Has a nicer ring to it.

Anyway, what they (you?) don’t see, are my dirty little secrets. I’m a girl who likes to snack after dinner (chocolate. any and everything chocolate. please.), adds sugar and creamer to her morning coffee (I can’t help it!), and hasn’t been switching up her workout routine nearly as much as she should be (shame on me). I try to find the balance in everything in life, and nutrition and working out is really no different. I don’t necessarily live to eat – I would never classify myself a “foodie” – but I don’t like depriving myself either. This is where I often run into some problems.

So, last week I tried to change up my routine a bit. Trick my body. Test it. Make it happy. And hurt. And then happy again. I have a few tips I’ve learned over the week…and years, really…that I’d like to share if you’re joining me on this quest.

  • Tip #1: Start sssllllooooowwwww        

    When you’re looking to be a little healthier, I think that it’s good to start slow. The crazier and more intense the goals, the harder they are to achieve and the bigger the blow when you veer off course. So, what I did was look at the areas I knew I could improve upon just by making slight tweaks.

    The first change I made was to my morning routine. I am fueled by coffee. When I don’t have it, I’m a headachey mess. I’m grumpy and tired and just not a happy camper. But, I know that my large (or sometimes extra large) coffee with creamer and sugar is not the healthiest option for someone looking to improve their nutritional intake. So, I switched things up a little bit.

As I was browsing Trader Joe’s for some fresh ideas, as I often like to do, I found cold brew coffee concentrate and got an idea. I could keep my caffeine but reduce my sugar and dairy intake by blending it with unsweetened almond milk and some cacao that I had recently purchased to give it a little bit of a mocha kick. I brought my ingredients home and tried it out. The first take went well, but it was missing the sweetness I crave from my morning coffee, so I added a packet of stevia and a touch of vanilla extract. Sure it isn’t as tasty as my usual sugary hazelenutty brew, but it gets the job done! *a little note: a few days into doing this, my blender broke and I went a little crazy. I’m currently in the process of getting a new one, so I followed my own advice and I’m not beating myself up over it!

  • Tip #2: Learn what your body needs

    As I get older, I’m really learning more about my body and what it craves. Like, I’m tuning in to the way I feel when I need more protein or carbs or the feeling of needing water versus being hungry. It’s really kind of interesting and cool to grow in body awareness. One of the things I was noticing lately, was that my stomach tends to bloat really easily after eating. It’s like as soon as I ate lunch, I would have a bowling ball in my stomach for the rest of the day.  gutinstinct.png

    After seeing a bunch of advertisements all over social media for Hum Nutrition, I decided to look into their products. I was going to write up a few paragraphs on the supplements I’ve been using and their affects so far, but then I decided that would be better left for another blog post soooo you’ll have to wait in suspense to know all about my experience. I will tell you, however, that I’m obsessed with their probiotic, Gut Instinct, and the supplements Flatter Me and Daily Cleanse. I feel like I’m doing something good for my body when I take them, and my stomach is noticeably flatter, so I’ll definitely keep this up. I encourage you all to check out Hum Nutrition’s website and take their quiz that helps you figure out which supplements will be best for you.

    And if you decide to order, use my referral code! 10F03E

  • Tip #3: Keep it guessing                       

    Working out is my favorite form of therapy. When I find a “soulmate workout” I tend to stick with it, which is exactly what happened to me with barre3.  I love the way it makes me feel and the fact that it’s low impact so much that I’ve put other forms of exercise on the back burner. I know that if you want to see a change in your body, that you need to change up your workout routine every now and then. Makes sense…change = change!

    I’m slowly starting to mix it up and, last week week, enlisted the help of hot yoga and running to give my bod a little run for its money.  I’m not the best runner, but I downloaded an app called “Running for Weight Loss” and it’s pretty amazing. You can choose between several different training plans, like 5K, for example. Then, you just put on your headphones and hit “Go” and the app tells you exactly when to walk, run and sprint. It’s really helpful for someone like me who will turn around and go back after 10 minutes unless someone is pushing me along.

    Hot yoga is also a great way to stretch and strengthen your body. I find that I can get deeper physically and mentally when I do yoga in a heated room. I definitely think that any fitness plan should incorporate some form of stretching and mindfulness, and yoga is that for me.

 

Along with the things I’ve done above, I’ve also stopped drinking during the week (not as hard  as I originally thought it would be) and have steered clear of the chocolate bowl at work. Nobody’s perfect, though. And I haven’t been an angel. But when I have a little setback, I don’t let it ruin my day. And I don’t let that mean I give up completely. Life is meant to be lived and food is meant to be eaten. 

Lifestyle

Spring awakening (no, not the musical, but how amaze is it though?)

Spring is a time when the weather gets warmer, the days get longer and there’s just a little more happiness in the air. You guys can feel it, can’t you? I know I’m not making up the fact that things seem a tiny bit sweeter once March 20th hits. And, even though we had a monster of a snow storm last week here in Jersey, I think we can officially say goodbye to winter (please don’t kill me if I just jinxed us!).

With my newfound giddiness, I’ve decided to try and make this spring one of the most productive and happy I’ve had in awhile. And one of the best ways I know to be both of those things is not to stuff my face with thin mints while watching every Leonardo DiCaprio movie (although that does sound pretty sweet). Oh no. It is much more lame and adultish than that. When I want to be productive, I make lists. 

Errands I have to run? There’s a list for that. 

People I have to catch up with? There’s usually a mental note for that. 

Appointments I need to schedule? I love to have Siri remind me of those…even though sometimes she swears I say: “Siri, call the fire department,” when I really said: “Siri, remind me to call the gynecologist.”

I don’t think I’m alone in my obsession with writing down my to-do’s. Fess up, you know you have a notepad on your fridge and another in your purse (and maybe one in your car and on your work desk and at your best friend’s house…) and the LIST GOES ON! A list of lists?! I’m going a little crazy. So, anyway, let’s make a list together, shall we? What do you vow to do this season? Here’s mine.

This spring, I vow to…

1. Get a little healthier – and no, reading about the latest superfood craze is not a substitute for cooking up some quinoa burgers

2. Get a little more organized – I’m not the best  at this, so I’m going to be enlisting the help of my organizationally savvy friend, and hopefully she can share some tips with us

3. Get a little more outdoorsy – I’m sick of being inside! Get me to a mountain, STAT! 

4. Get a little more educated – I have about 20 books to read and am severely behind on my podcast listening. Let’s get nerdy.

5. Get a little more creative – Keeping up with my current trend of letting my creative juices flow will be a big priority. Can’t. Stop. Thinking. About. Soap. Scents.

6. Get a little more mindful – I’m slowly becoming a lover of all things holistic, but I still struggle with meditation. I’m ready to get down and dirty with it. 

And, because I’m all about accountability lately, I’m going to use this blog to talk about my very own spring awakening.

For the next six weeks, I’ll be making small changes everyday that I’m hoping will have a pretty big impact. I’ll write about them each week, with the first week focusing on health. I’m going to encourage everyone reading this to do the same. Spring is a time for growth (and allergies), and I think it’s a perfect excuse to mix it up.

Let’s do this!
XOXO

Amanda

chitchat

The thing about hobbies

“I NEED A HOBBY!”

I remember flopping down on my bed a few years ago, wracking my brain trying to think of ways to occupy my time other than eating, drinking and taking bubble baths. When you’re in your late 20’s and don’t have anything to do with your time outside of work other than think about work or think about how depressing it is that you’re thinking about work, you know it’s time to make some sort of lifestyle change. At the above-mentioned moment, I decided that my new hobby was going to be…dun dun DUN…fitness.

I followed all the right Instagram accounts, downloaded meal prep plans and spent far more money than I would like to admit here on a personal trainer. A few months and thousands of dollars later (yeah, I’m not kidding, I said thousands…), I was no more fit or happy than I had been that day on my bed. Lifting heavy was just making me more hungry and, although the meal plan was pretty delicious, I would come home from a workout and carbo-load like it was nobody’s business. Also, for two weeks straight I couldn’t lift my arms past shoulder-height. I decided that the personal trainer was hurting me more than he was helping me (physically and monetarily). This wasn’t the soulmate fitness regimen that I was looking for.

OK, so maybe that attempt at a hobby was a bust, I told myself. But the world was my freaking oyster and I was determined to find more activities and interests that made me happy.

Over the years, other obsessions have come and gone. There was that one time I tried to learn how to read Tarot cards, or that other time I went on a month-long hot yoga binge (I still love you, hot yoga, just not everyday), and then there was that time I thought that one-stroke painting was going to be “MY THING!”. All of those things were fun for the moment, but not something I felt any passion to stick with long-term. I learned little bits here and there that I keep in my back pocket, but I’m pretty sure that I haven’t picked up a paintbrush or done a Celtic Cross spread in years.

And that’s something I’m realizing about hobbies.They’re not always just these things we can decide on a whim we want to do and automatically be good at. They’re skills and activities that we have true, vested interest in that we need to take time to hone. To really put our all into and not worry about how good or bad we are at it. Hobbies are things that we do because we love them, not because they’re what we excel at. If that were the case, then my only hobbies would be shopping on Amazon, eating cheese and blowing out my hair (#noshame).

Instead, a lot of my hobbies now are things that I have really grown to love over the years and don’t truly get tired of. I mean, of course working out everyday can be a drag, and sometimes I find it difficult to come up with a topic to write about, or other times the soap I make crumbles to bits and I have to start over again, but that’s OK. Because at the core of it, a hobby should be something that fulfills you and makes you feel like a more well-rounded version of yourself.

I look around at the people in my life and am in awe of some of their hobbies. Those amazing chefs and those musical souls are what make me strive to follow my dreams. I know it may sound cheesy, but without seeing how devoted my boyfriend is to music and getting some encouragement from him, I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.

So, here are some things about hobbies.

  1. They come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t be ashamed of what your hobby may look like. (YES, binge-watching Netflix can definitely count as a hobby!)
  2. They bring you happiness and fulfill a little piece of you that you may not have even known needed fulfilling.
  3. They’re there for you when you need them and give you a sense of purpose. If not purpose, then they at least give you a sense of life beyond the four walls of your workplace or home.
  4. Whatever it is, you have to keep at it because when you do more of what makes you happy, you get *surprise surprise* happier!

So get out there, or stay in if that’s where your hobby lives, and have FUN. I know that I’m going to spend this snow day getting some much-needed soap making time in. ‘Til next time!

XOXO
Amanda

Favorite things

Even more essential essentials

*Note: the following information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure , or prevent disease or illness. As is the case with most supplements, statements regarding the potential benefits of essential oils have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please consult with a physician before using essential oils on your young child, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re nursing.

~~~

Welcome back to Essential Oils 101. If you didn’t read Part 1, go do that first!

Last we left off, Donna, Jenn and Bonnie were teaching us all about what oils are and the different ways they can be used. Now that we have some of the basics under our belt, it’s time to use them. If you’ve never purchased an oil at all or already have some oils and don’t know what to do with them, it can be kind of intimidating to use them in the beginning. When I first began experimenting with oils, I had no idea that they could be used for so much more than just aromatherapy. Although I was super skeptical at first (Could one of these oils seriously replace my trusty Advil?!), I was intrigued enough to purchase a kit that included several oils that could be used for everything from cleaning, to relieving heartburn, to helping ease sore muscles.

“But Amanda, I really just want something that smells pretty.” You might be thinking (or saying aloud if you’re one of those kinds of people that likes to talk to themselves).

Sure! That’s totally fine. Donna says: “You can start out using essential oils as aromatherapy if you’re hesitant. Try diffusing some lemon or any citrus,” she explains. “They bring down stress levels.”

“But Amanda, I don’t even own any essential oils, so this is all pointless for me to be reading about.” OK sassy pants, let’s get your few oils to start with.

Bonnie listed dōTERRA’s Top 10 must-have oils to start your collection:

  • Lavender – calm and relieve stress
  • Lemon – cleanse, purify and energize
  • Peppermint – energize, promote healthy respiratory function, help relieve upset stomachs
  • Melaleuca – (aka Tea Tree Oil) cleanse, soothe and rejuvenate skin
  • Oregano – cleanse, enhance immune support, promote healthy digestion
  • Frankincense – (aka “The King of Oils”) enhance immune support, promote feelings of peace, aid in overall wellness
  • DigestZen – aid in food digestion and soothes upset stomach
  • Deep Blue – soothe sore muscles
  • Breathe – maintain clear airways and breathing
  • OnGuard – support healthy immune function

The ladies also recommend adding two additional oils to your starting collection:

  • Purify – replace unpleasant odors and protect against environmental threats
  • Wild Orange – uplift the mind and body

*Remember, you can check out Jenn’s Wellness Advocate page to place an order.

So, now that we know the top must-have’s what oils can you not leave home without? I asked while we sat around Bonnie’s dining room table surrounded by dōTERRA products.

Donna shared first: “OnGuard and Peppermint beadles, definitely. As for oils, Peppermint, Deep Blue, Whisper, Motivate, Passion and Bergamot.”

Bonnie agreed with the beadlets. Pop one little OnGuard beadlet in your mouth and help shield yourself from all those snifflers that share your workspace. Peppermint beadlets are a great gum replacement and are amazing for freshening breath. Bonnie also added Lemon and Lavender to her must-haves, and for good reason. Lavender is known to help ease tension and promote relaxation, definitely helpful to survive the craziness that is 21st Century living. Lemon can be used for everything from cleaning to energizing, so having that on hand can be extremely useful throughout the day.

Jenn loves keeping DigestZen, Melaleuca, Peppermint and a citrus oil on hand at all times. She also carries veggie caps so she can easily ingest oils when needed.

The ladies stressed to USE WHAT YOU HAVE! Oils come in handy for so many different things, so before you reach for that hand sanitizer or allergy pill, check out some of Bonnie, Jenn and Donna’s favorite DIY essential oil recipes.

doterra3

 

Seasonal Allergy Relief

Help ease the symptoms of seasonal allergies with the following recipe.

  • 5 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 5 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 1 Veggie Cap

Drop each oil into a Veggie Cap and take with a cup of water.

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Use this anywhere you would normally use a multi-purpose cleaner.

  • 16 oz. glass spray bottle
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 & 3/4 cup water

Once you add the vinegar and water to your spray bottle, you have a few options of oils you can use. No matter what blend you use, the rule of thumb is 30 drops of essential oil to 16oz of water.

Recipe 1

  • 15 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
  • 15 Drops of Lavender Essential Oil

Recipe 2

  • 10 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
  • 10 drops of Wild Orange Essential Oil
  • 10 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

Recipe 3

  • 15 drops of Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • 15 drops of OnGuard proprietary blend

Recipe 4

  • 30 drops OnGuard proprietary blend

 

Hand Sanitizer

  • Empty 15ml bottle
  • 15 drops of OnGuard proprietary blend
  • 15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
  • Fractionated Coconut Oil

Drop the oils into the bottle, top it off with fractionated coconut oil, and shake. Place a drop or two on your hands, rub together and you’re good to go!

 

For even more DIY recipes, check out the doTERRA Essential’s Facebook page!

I really hope that these posts helped you learn a little something about using essential oils. Whether you’re a newbie or seasoned pro, essential oils are amazing additions to your  health and wellness arsenal.

Until next week!

XOXO

Amanda

Favorite things

Let’s get oiled up!

*Note: the following information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure , or prevent disease or illness. As is the case with most supplements, statements regarding the potential benefits of essential oils have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Please consult with a physician before using essential oils on your young child, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re nursing.

~~~

You may have never tried them, but unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past three years or so, you’ve at least heard someone you know rave about them.

“They cure my headaches!”

“My acne’s completely cleared up!”

“They help me sleep like a baby!”

“I’m not a crazy person anymore!”

I know that I, personally, kept seeing and hearing about them everywhere, but was afraid to give into the hype lest I become even more hooked on a new trend.

Have you figured out what I’m talking about yet?

Give up?

OK, fine, I’ll tell you.

Essential oils!

I’ve purchased a few here and there for purely aromatic purposes over the years, but I never knew the true power of them until my friend Jenn invited me to an information session about dōTERRA essential oils last summer. As you can probably guess since I have a whole blog post about it, I’ve been hooked ever since. Last week, I had the absolute pleasure of sitting down with Jenn along with Donna and Bonnie who are all dōTERRA Wellness Advocates, to talk about all things oil for this very blog! I’ll probably be splitting this entry into a few parts since there’s a heck of a lot of information to share, so let’s get rolling, shall we?

doterra2.jpgBonnie was kind enough to invite us over to her lovely home on Presidents’ Day. Her dining room table was covered in products – everything from face wash to supplements to cough drops – all made with oil…it was a homeopathic paradise! See the OnGuard products to the left? Those are made using dōTERRA’s proprietary blend for healthy immune function and cleansing. And yes guys, that’s laundry detergent! Anyway, we got to talking about our love of dōTERRA and sharing stories right off the bat, but I quickly backtracked us a bit to talk about some basics. Incase anyone reading is not even sure what an essential oil is, I figured I had to get that out of the way first.

“So ladies, tell me in your words…what is an essential oil?” I asked.

Donna started by explaining that essential oils are derived from plants and are made using everything from seeds to the bark of trees to leaves to petals. Oils have been used for their health and beauty benefits for a very long time. Jenn got sciencey on me and explained that the oils have a known impact on the body at the cellular level. Now, I’m not totally sure what this means, but it sounds fancy and I know that the oils I use haven’t let me down yet, so I believe her.

Not to sound like an add for dōTERRA, but they’re a pretty awesome company. They get their oils directly from their natural habitat.

“They’re indigenously sourced,” Donna said. “This means that the oils come from the areas of the world that they’re naturally grown in. Not on the side of the road in a country that they’re not local to.”

dōTERRA has amazing ties to the farmers they work with, and it just seems like they have really healthy relationships. Built on trust and support with the common shared goal of producing pure products with wonderful benefits.

Now, I don’t want to go on and on about how dōTERRA uses a third party to test their oils for purity and all that awesome jazz that may make some of you roll your eyes. Instead, if you’re interested in learning more about the company itself, check out the website DōTERRA.com! Moving on…

“How did you get into essential oils?” was my next question to the ladies. I knew how I got to be sitting here at this table, but I was curious to see what made them beliebers…oh wait, wrong blog post…

Every story has a beginning, and this one starts with Bonnie. Her husband has an annoying little habit of being a snorer and her sister-in-law introduced the couple to essential oils to help combat some of that. dōTERRA makes a blend called Breathe which includes Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Melaleuca, and Lemon, among other oils that have respiratory benefits. It worked wonders for Bonnie’s husband, and she was on the essential oil bandwagon right away. “I second the Breathe blend for snoring!” Jenn raised her hand after hearing Bonnie’s story. It’s the real deal!

Donna got into the mix next. One day, Bonnie overheard Donna talking about how her daughter, who had just started college, was having some issues sleeping. Bonnie recommended she try Lavender essential oil, a blend called Serenity (which I personally take in capsule form for those nights where sleep is a little harder to come by), and a diffuser. Donna’s daughter loved it and that was her in to this community.

Jenn was introduced to essential oils by Donna. The oil that hooked her was DigestZen, a blend that helps with digestion and settles upset tummies. Jenn explains: “The blend allowed me to continue eating my mozzarella sticks, burgers and fries!” And she lived happily ever after. *Cue the butterflies and bluebirds*

doterraOK, so let’s say I have these oilsyou may be thinking, how the heck do I use them? Do I just smell them and they make my troubles disappear??

There a few different ways to use oils. There’s the method of diffusing – you place some water in a diffuser, add a few drops of your oil of choice, and inhale the good stuff; ingesting – if you’re going to ingest your oil, avoid using styrofoam or plastic as your cup to mix with oil with the water because this stuff is so pure it will eat through your Dunkin’ cup; or applying topically – my favorite places to apply oils are the bottoms of the feet (super porous and gets into your body quickly) and behind my ears. A word of caution though: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR BOTTLES! Some oils can’t be applied topically without a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil is a great one!), and some may be harsh to ingest without putting them in a capsule. Point is, do your homework. Oils are amazing, but a bad experience may deter you, so be prepared.

I’m going to end this post here as it’s getting a little lengthy and I want you all to really soak this stuff in and look up some information for yourself. If you’d like even more 411, which I highly recommend, check out Jenn, Donna and Bonnie’s Facebook group, dōTERRA Essentials, or visit Jenn’s Wellness Advocate page.

I’ll post Part 2 in a few days so be ready to learn all about Jenn, Bonnie and Donna’s “go to” oils, what they recommend newbies start with, and some DIY tips and tricks for oil use!

XOXO
Amanda

 

Soapy stuff · Weekends

Soaping on a Sunday

When I really started to think seriously about this whole soap-making endeavor, I thought that taking a class was not only a good idea, but necessary to up my legit factor. I really imagined that I would have some breakthroughs and have tons to talk about here on the blog.

Alas, I did not and I do not.

OK, let me try not sound too defeatist. We all know I’ll be able to talk about something. There were definitely interesting things that I learned. Like how to soap at room temperature instead of heating up oils and mixing lye separately. (We used a method where we measured our solid oils, mixed our lye solution and added that to the oils to melt them. We then added in our liquid oil (olive oil) and hand-mixed a bit before stick blending.) I never knew about this method and it definitely seems like it would be a time saver, so I’ll keep that info in my back pocket.

I also really appreciated someone sitting down with me and doing the calculations for recipes. You see, soap making is 1/3 math (yuck!), 1/3 science (cool!), and 1/3 creativity (my juices are flowing!). And, as someone who barely passed geometry, it was helpful to do calculations with a group and get my “middle school” on.

But there were some annoying things about being in a soap-making class with 12 other women. First off, Sunday was one of the nicest February days on record and I was stuck in a room with a bunch of people. Some of those people were super nice, while others made me give an eye-roll or two. But, I digress.

Here’s play-by-play of my Soaping Sunday.

7:30: wake up, get coffee, workout, shower. Load bag full of goggles and spatulas and aprons (thanks Alisha!), pop the address in my phone and start my journey to the middle of nowhere. (Literally. I wound up somewhere down by the docks of Newark and was honestly a little uneasy about the secluded location.)

9:45: text my boyfriend and send him my maps location just incase I die. Then I realize the workspace is actually really cool. For being in a creepy local, the building is pretty awesome. Sleek and modern and full of startups and small businesses, I breathe a sigh of relief and find my way to the room where the class would be held.

10:15: we start by going around the room, sharing our love of soaps and fragrances and essential oils and natural remedies. I have never felt like more of a basic bitch.

11:00: we get into the nitty gritty. We learn the history and science behind soap making. Did you know that soap making has been around since 2300 B.C.?! A lot of it is just a refresher for me, but it’s good to hear the information in person. After going through the fact-learning and algebra equations, t’s time to make some soap!  And this is where the annoying part begins…

1:00: we are asked to break into groups of five, and I learn that I really like to have control over my product. Leaving the measuring and mixing to other team members proves to be tough for me, but I try to give up the reigns a little bit. We start out by making a swirl soap with lavender, orange and peppermint essential oils. It looks funky and cool and I’m happy with our teamwork!

3:00: some bitch steals my fragrance and uses it all.

3:45: the frozen milk for our goat’s milk soap won’t melt.

4:30: we are just now starting our final soap. We were supposed to be done at 5. That ain’t happening.

5:00: this recipe calls for some beer. I wish I could drink it.

5:45: we want to take a group picture, but we can’t find two of the girls so we stand around for 15 minutes.

6:00: we finally take the picture, clean up and say our goodbye’s.I end up leaving with three plastic containers of soap. I would share the pictures, but the soaps are still too soft to unmold because we used plastic containers (unmolding from wood or silicone can be done a bit sooner than plastic).

Overall, I enjoyed the experience and it really got me psyched to start making my own recipes. As soon as I got home, I started jotting down ideas for my soap line’s first 3-5 soaps and I’m so excited to share them with everyone. However, these things take time and you all need to simmer down! (hehe, just playing)

Anyway, my shopping cart of soap making supplies is full and I’m about to hit “checkout,” so I’m sure I’ll have some yummy soaps coming soon enough! Until then, I’m headed to a friend’s house to work on an upcoming blog post about essential oils. SO KEEP CHECKING BACK HERE! Better yet, follow the blog! Just pop your email address in and you can get these lovely posts right to your inbox. Fun times, yes? OK, I must run.

XOXO
Amanda

Soapy stuff

Hey girl, let’s make some soap

I clearly remember the day I decided I wanted to make soap. I was jogging (if you can even call my meager attempts at lifting my feet off the ground, jogging) in a local park when I came across a little flea market. A girl – not much older than I was – had tons of yummy smelling soap on display. I picked up an oatmeal bar (honestly, it could have been vanilla or lavender or rose…but for the sake of a legit story, I’ll stick with oatmeal) and sniffed it with a smile. It was delicious. The girl started to tell me about how she makes the bars in her basement, and I was instantly intrigued. Now, at the time I did not have a basement…I still don’t come to think of it…or the real push to try it for myself, but the thought of making me own soap stuck with me over the past few years. Every now and then I would think about it, look through some websites and debate buying a few supplies to get started, but I never pulled the trigger…

…until last winter.

Something inside me said that now was the time to try this whole soap-making thing out. So, I did my homework. I read up on the science of it, watched tons of videos, ordered supplies, and started slowly. Extreeeeemely slowly. My first bars were melt and pour (M&P for short), which basically just means that you melt down pre-made soap and add your own colorants, fragrances, and any other additives you want (think shredded loofah or grape seeds). I loved the fact that they were fairly simple to make and came out great, but really wanted to get my hands dirty and make soap from scratch using the cold process (CP) method.

The thing about making CP soap, is that it’s a bit intimidating. First off, you’re working with lye (sodium hydroxide) which, if you’ve seen Fight Club (thanks Eric!) you know is corrosive  and has the potential to wreak some serious havoc on your skin if you’re not careful. Long sleeves, gloves and goggles are a total must. So, I had to get over the whole fear hump. When I finally decided to give it a try, I used Soap Queen’s super helpful recipes and supplies to stock up and get started.

Chocolate lavender almond meal soap

My first bars were chocolate lavender almond meal, and I fell in love with the process. They were fun to make and smelled amazing. I was so happy with the results that I was hooked.

My next tries, however, were all over the place in terms of the final product. I’ve made some great bars from recipes  found around the web, but making my own recipes has occasionally resulted in disaster. A rose clay soap that looked beautiful after setting, wound up crumbling in my hands after I cut it to cure. What is curing?? You ask. Well! I’m glad you did because a year ago I had no clue what it meant either!

Curing is basically a game of having to exercise extreme patience while your soap finishes going through a process called saponification the chemical reaction that happens when you combine lye and oils. During this process, water evaporates, the bar gets harder, and the pH balances. The process takes about 6 weeks, so soap making is a commitment. But, once curing is complete and your pH is at a balanced level, you are good to go and can start using your soaps. And that was your science lesson for the day. You’re very welcome!

Anyway, back to talking about my recipe disasters. Another one wound up smelling like something I would rather throw in the trash than wash my bod with. And, making soap? Not that inexpensive. These oils and colorants and fragrances cost serious dough. So, in an effort to stop wasting money making soap that just doesn’t cut it (get it?!), I decided to put that money where my mouth is and sign up for an intensive soap-making class which is happening this coming weekend.

My goals are anyone’s guess. In theory, how cool would it be to make this a side gig and open an Etsy shop? But, time and money are a huge factor. I’m hoping that the class this weekend helps me learn how to dive in head first in an educated way, and gain confidence in my skills.

If you’re interested in the soap making process, or just want to be my guinea pig, stay tuned! I’ll be posting all about my experience and gifting some goodies soon.

XOXO
Amanda