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Nacho Ordinary Soap

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 1 hr
Yields: 9 little soaps

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Desert, cactus, flamingo and mojitos seem to be everywhere at the moment. It’s been the theme in fashion, home decorations, and I even have nail wraps in this desert-theme. When I came across the little cactus and flamingo candles at Kmart, and found the matching cactus ice cube mold, I knew I wanted to make a soap to this theme! The only problem I had was finding the right name for it, so I held a little naming competition on Facebook for it and you guys had no problems coming up with some very creative and great names! It was really hard to choose just one. Here are some other of my favourites: Desert Dream, Don’t Desert Me Now, Desert Mojito, Prickly Clean. But the one that stood out from all the rest and I loved the most is “Nacho Ordinary Soap“! Thanks Kathryn Gage for coming up with this clever moniker!

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To make these you’ll need little cactus ice cube molds. I bought these from Kmart the other day for $2 each. As you can see, they also have some other cute molds, like the pineapple and unicorns!

The other material you need is clear and white melt and pour base, non bleeding yellow soap dye, green fruit mica and mint mojito fragrance, as well as a cube cavity soap mold. You can get all these from Pure Nature. I used the low sweat white melt and pour soap base and the crystal clear melt and pour soap base for this project.

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ONE: Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add them to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 10 second bursts until the soap has melted.

You’ll have to eyeball the amounts. If you end up with a little left over, pour it into a separate container and you can use it for another project. The good thing about melt and pour soap bases is that you can re-melt it again.

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TWO: Add about 1/2 a teaspoon of green fruit mica and stir well until it has completely dispersed into the soap and there are no more clumps of mica on the surface. If you struggle mixing it in, spray a little alcohol on the surface and that will help with dispersing.

The reason we’re using clear melt and pour soap base here is so that the colour of the soap becomes a rich deep green. White melt and pour soap base will only give you pastel colours due to the white base colour!

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THREE: Once. you’ve mixed in the colour, pour the soap into the cavities of the cactus mold and spray them with alcohol to get rid of any bubbles on the surface.

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FOUR: While you’re waiting for the cacti to set, cut up the white soap base and melt it the same way in the microwave. Again, you’re going to have to eyeball the amount of soap you need.

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FIVE: Add a few drops of yellow soap dye. Make sure it is non-bleeding, because you don’t want it to bleed into clear soap. Start with a couple of drops first and keep adding 1-2 drops at a time until you’ve reached the colour you want. Remember, you can always add more colour but you can’t take it out again!

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SIX: Next, add your fragrance. The usage rate is about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon per cup of melted soap base. If you add too much, you will end up with fragrance on the surface of the soap after setting. If that does happen, you can just wipe it away with a paper towel. I had about 2 cups of soap base, so I added about 2 teaspoons. Stir well to mix it into the soap.

I didn’t add any fragrance to the cactus embeds and won’t be adding any fragrance to the clear layer of soap either, because the amounts of soap are only small and the yellow soap will easily mask it with its fragrance, so you won’t notice that they don’t actually have any scent!

SEVEN: Once you’ve added the colour and fragrance, pour the soap into the cube mold, filling each cavity to about 1 centimetre. Immediately spray with alcohol after pouring to remove any unsightly bubbles. Let the soap set before continuing.

For the next part, the yellow soap needs to have set so that when you pour the hot clear soap on top, it doesn’t break through the surface of the yellow soap. If you have left it to cool down completely, spray the surface with a little alcohol again, to make sure that the clear layer will adhere to it. Also remove the cactus embeds to have them ready.

EIGHT: Melt a little clear melt and pour base. I used the crystal clear melt and pour soap base for this to avoid any cloudiness in this layer. Also avoid adding fragrance, because that can make your soap cloudy as well.

NINE: Pour a small amount on top of the yellow soap, no more than half a centimetre, and immediately press a cactus into the middle of the soap and spray the whole surface with alcohol. Repeat for each soap.

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TEN: Let the soaps harden and cool down completely before removing them carefully from the mold. I left mine overnight before unmolding.

Make sure you wrap the soaps in cling foil to avoid condensation forming on the surface. Melt and pour soaps contain a lot of glycerin, which attracts moisture and hence, the ‘sweating’ effect on these kinds of soap.

As you can see in the picture, I made two different styles of soap. One has the embed sticking out and in the other, the clear layer covers the whole embed. I wasn’t sure which I would like better so I did both. But after setting, I decided I like the one where the cactus pops out more!

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Nacho ordinary soap

  • Difficulty: Beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • white melt and pour base
  • clear melt and pour soap base
  • yellow non-bleeding soap dye
  • green fruit mica
  • mint mojito fragrance from Candlescience
  • cactus ice cubes mold
  • square cavity mold
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol

Directions

PART 1

  1. Cut the clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 10 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of green mica and stir until dispersed.
  4. Pour the soap into the cavities of the cactus mold and spray with alcohol.
  5. Leave to cool down and set completely.

PART 2

  1. Cut the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 10-20 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add a few drops of yellow soap dye and stir. Add more dye, a couple of drops at a time until you’ve reached the desired colour.
  4. Add the mint mojito fragrance at 1/2 teaspoon per cup of melted soap, and stir well.
  5. Pour into the cavities of the cube mold to a height of about 1 centimetre.
  6. Spray with alcohol and let set.

PART 3

  1. Once the cactus have set, remove them from the mold.
  2. Cut a little clear melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  3. Heat the soap base in the microwave in 10 second bursts until melted.
  4. Pour a little of the clear soap base over the top of the yellow soap in the cube mold. You only want to pour to a maximum of half a centimetre.
  5. Spray the surface with alcohol and press a little cactus into the middle of the mold.
  6. Spray again with alcohol and leave the soaps to set completely before removing from the mold.

Remember to wrap the soaps in cling foil to avoid condensation forming on the surface.

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Easter egg bath bombs

Difficulty: Beginner
Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 5-6 eggs

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Here’s another alternative to sugary sweet treats at Easter. Don’t get me wrong, we do lots of chocolate and hot cross buns and other sweets, but sometimes it does get a bit too much, and kids love fizzy bath bombs or a fun little soap (check out these Easter treats).

The Easter egg bath bombs are quick and easy to make, even for children, and you don’t need a lot of ingredients. The baking soda and citric acid you can get from your supermarket (although it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk from Pure Nature), and you probably already have some essential oils or fragrance, and micas at home from your other projects. The only other (optional but highly recommended) ingredient is polysorbate 80, and emulsifier.

To make the Easter egg shapes, I used these plastic egg shells that I found at Look Sharp, but I’m sure craft stores probably stock these around Easter as well. I think they’re used as some kind of hanging decorations, but they work perfect as bath bomb molds. I paid $3 for 6, so they’re not very expensive either.

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The following instructions are for one lot of eggs, approximately 5 or 6. I made a different lot for each colour, 5 in total. That’s a lot of eggs. If you don’t want that many eggs, you can split the batch into two or three before you add the mica and then colour each portion a different colour.

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ONE: Add one cup of baking soda and a half cup of citric acid to a bowl. Wearing disposable gloves and using your hands, mix thoroughly and break up any clumps.

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TWO: Next, add one tablespoon of sweet almond oil (alternatively use another vegetable oil, such as rice bran oil), and half a tablespoon of polysorbate 80. And again mix thoroughly.

Polysorbate 80 is a natural vegetable sourced emulsifier, which helps disperse the oil and the mica in the bath water, instead of floating on the surface and leaving greasy colour rings on the sides of the bath tub. It’s not a necessary ingredient to make bath bombs, and if you don’t have it, you can leave it out, but I find it does make the bath bombs better.

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THREE: Add 1/2 teaspoon fragrance or essential oil blend. Because I’m making these for children, I’m using slightly less fragrance than I usually would. Make sure that the fragrance or essential oil is safe to use in bath products and for children. Safe essential oils are sweet orange, pink grapefruit and lavender essential oil. Alternatively, Candlescience fragrances has some great skin-safe fragrances that are popular with kids, such as watermelon, fruit slices, mango and tangerine, and strawberry shortcake.

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FOUR: Lastly, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of mica to the mixture and using your hand, mix it thoroughly until all the colour is evenly distributed throughout. The micas I’m using here are shimmer green, coral reef, silken violet and sweetheart rose from Pure Nature.

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FIVE: Check the mixture. The consistency of the bath bomb mixture should be so that when you squeeze the mixture in your fist it holds its shape when you open your hand. If necessary spritz a little water on it and work the moisture into the mixture with your hands. You want the mixture to be just moist enough so that the mixture sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart. But be careful  if you spritz too much, the mixture will begin to fizz prematurely and ruin your bath bombs!

SIX: Once you have the right consistency,  scoop the bath bomb mixture into the two halves of the eggs and squeeze them together. Then carefully remove one half, and even more carefully tip the bath bomb into your hand.

SEVEN: Place them on a sheet of baking paper and allow them to fully dry out overnight. Anywhere dry and out of the way. I just left mine on the kitchen counter until the next morning.

If you are making more than one colour, repeat steps 1 to 7 for each colour.

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EIGHT: The following day, place the eggs in an egg carton, or wrap them in cling foil, or package them in cellophane bags. Ideally they should be wrapped as the humid climate of New Zealand will make your bath bombs quickly lose their fizziness.

Easter egg bath bombs

  • Difficulty: beginners
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 1 tablespoon sweet almond oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon polysorbate 80
  • mica in your desired colour
  • 1/2 teaspoon essential oil or fragrance
  • spray bottle with water

Directions

  1. Add baking soda and citric acid in a large bowl and mix to combine. Wearing gloves, use your fingers to break up any clumps.
  2. Add the sweet almond oil  and polysorbate 80 and mix it into the dry ingredients.
  3. Add your chosen fragrance or essential oil.
  4. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of mica and mix well so that all the colour and fragrance is dispersed throughout the mixture.
  5. Check your mixture. If necessary, spritz the bath bombs with a little water. The bath bomb mixture should be wet enough so that when you squeeze the mixture in your fist it holds its shape when you open your hand. You want to spray enough so that the mixture sticks together and doesn’t crumble apart, but  if you spray too much, the mixture will begin to fizz prematurely and ruin your bath bombs!
  6. Once you have the right consistency,  scoop the bath bomb mixture into the two halves of the egg mold and press them together firmly.
  7. Carefully remove one half and then tip the egg gently onto your palm.
  8. Place the eggs on a sheet of baking paper, and allow them to fully dry out overnight.
  9. The following day,  place them in egg cartons or wrap them in cling foil, or package them in cellophane bags. Ideally, they should be wrapped as the humid climate of New Zealand will make your bath bombs quickly lose their fizziness.

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Easter treats MP soap

Difficulty: Beginners
Time: 30 mins

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I was asked by my sister if we could bring something else than chocolate to our family Easter brunch, because her two young children, my one year old nephew and three year old niece, get so much during Easter, and they can’t (or shouldn’t) eat it all. And I get it. The kids are so little and everyone just wants to get them something, and at Easter, what else is there but chocolate easter bunnies and eggs? So I decided to come up with some alternative treats that kids will love, and here’s the first one: cute little Easter melt and pour soaps!

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To make these you’ll need an Easter themed mold. You can get these from the local craft shop, homeware stores, or somewhere like The Warehouse or K-mart, and are sold either as chocolate molds or ice cube molds. I got mine from The Warehouse a few years back, thinking they might come in handy one day, and they sure did today!

The other material you need is a melt and pour base, soap dye or food colouring, and a fragrance or essential oil. I’m using the low-sweat melt and pour base, which doesn’t attract moisture to its surface like most melt and pour soap bases, particularly here in New Zealand, where it can get quite muggy and humid at times.

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ONE: Cut the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and add them to a heat proof Pyrex jug. Heat on high in the microwave in 10 second bursts until the soap has melted.

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TWO: Add one or two drops of soap dye or food colouring and stir. You can add more colour, one drop at a time, until the soap has reached the desired shade of the colour. I’m using the soap dye from Pure Nature here, which comes in five different colours (yellow, orange, red, blue and green), which have been especially prepared for melt and pour soap. Because my mold has different shapes, I do one colour per shape at a time: yellow for the ducks, blue for the rabbits, and green and pink for the eggs.

Remember that when you colour white melt and pour soap, the colours will always be pastels, because of the white base. If you want full, bright coloured soap, you’ll have to use clear melt and pour.

THREE: After you’ve reached the desired colour, add your fragrance or essential oil and stir well. I’m using sparkling pomelo from Candlescience fragrances, which is a fresh, fruity citrus-like skin-safe fragrance, and I thought would appeal to the kids (and adults!). The rule of thumb is about 1/8 teaspoon (or roughly 10-15 drops) of fragrance per 1/2 cup of melt and pour soap.

Make sure the fragrance you are using is safe to use on skin, and if you are not sure, check with the supplier. This is particularly important if you are planning on using candle fragrances.

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FOUR: Pour the soap into the cavities of the mold and spritz the surface with alcohol to get rid of any pesky little bubbles that might appear.

Another interesting advantage of the low-sweat melt and pour base I found is that it produces hardly any bubbles on the surface.

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FIVE: Let the soap cool down and harden completely before unmolding. And if you are doing several colours like me, make sure you check the last colour you poured, unless you want to end up with the same mess I did. Oops!

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If you have used the low-sweat melt and pour soap base, you have the advantage of being able to leave the soaps unwrapped. Otherwise, you’ll have to wrap the soaps in cling foil or put them into little cello bags to prevent ‘sweating’ – moisture condensing on the soap.

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You can add these little treats to your Easter baskets, put them in little cello bags or use them as little decorations. I’ve added a few of the soaps into little plastic egg shells with a bit of coloured shredded paper. Do you think the kids will like it?

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Easter treats MP soap

  • Difficulty: Beginners
  • Print

Ingredients

  • white melt and pour base (I prefer low-sweat for this project)
  • soap dye or food colouring
  • fragrance or essential oil
  • Easter themed mold
  • 99% isopropyl alcohol

Directions

  1. Cut the white melt and pour soap base into small cubes and place in a heat proof Pyrex jug.
  2. Heat the soap base in the microwave on high in 10 second bursts until melted.
  3. Add a drop or two of soap dye or food colouring and stir. Add a drop more at a time until you have reached the desired colour.
  4. For each 1/2 cup of soap, add about 1/8 teaspoon (10-15 drops) of fragrance or essential oil, and stir well.
  5. Carefully pour the soap into the cavities of the soap mold, and spray with alcohol to get rid of all the bubbles.
  6. Leave to cool down and harden completely before unmolding. If you are using low-sweat melt and pour soap, you can leave them unwrapped, otherwise wrap them in cling foil or put them in little cello bags.

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Bring on 2018!

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New Zealand’s most beautiful beach – Hahei beach!

Hasn’t this been the most wonderful summer ever? The weather was absolutely incredible and for most of us it was the perfect summer. I think I read somewhere that it was the hottest January on record. We made the most of the sunshine and spent most of the sunny days outdoors doing something fun together.

Having my parents in law visiting from Switzerland kept us busy. We had a great time together and made some wonderful memories! We kayaked down the Puhoi River, went on the Mail Run (by boat) to Kawau Island, did a road trip around Coromandel, which has some of the best beaches in New Zealand, checked out the geothermal area in Rotorua, visited the bird sanctuary island Tiritiri Matangi, walked many, many miles through bush and on the beach, tasted some wines at my favourite winery (Coopers Creek), climbed like monkeys through the trees at Tree Adventures in Woodhill forest, cooked meals together and organised extended family BBQs and gatherings at every possible occasion. This summer was all about family and being together!

But the highlight of my summer was the privilege of cooking a hangi during our little road trip. Cooking has always been a passion for me, and I love being in the kitchen, because the kitchen represents a place of being creative and making people happy, be that with food, soap or by just being together and doing the dishes. I love trying out new things and recipes. So when I found a holiday park with its own hangi oven, I knew we had to go and stay there. Hangi, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, is a maori way of cooking with natural steam. The holiday park we stayed at is located in Rotorua, a region of active geothermal energy with plenty of mud pools, geysers and hot water springs. Placing your food in heke (NZ flax) baskets, the maori used to lower these baskets into the steam and let the steam do the cooking. Those still lucky to have a hot spring on their property will still cook this way. I felt really privileged and lucky to try this method of cooking and to me, that was the highlight of my whole summer! Btw the food is deliciously tender and juicy, and the corn was the best I ever tasted!

Did I mention I loved being in the kitchen? It wasn’t just us humans loving this weather, the harvest this summer has been so bountiful with fruit and vegetables and the past few weeks I’ve been busy canning, jamming, pickling, freezing, and dehydrating. I had a great little helper, who not only picked 7 kg of strawberries in record time, he also cut and dehydrated 5 kg of apricots for me, and he’s come up with some great chilli sauce recipes. I’m happy to share any recipes, just flick me a pm!

And it wasn’t just all about food for me this summer. I also had the privilege to teach a one-on-one session with Gama, visiting New Zealand all the way from Indonesia. He’s a fantastic soap maker and an incredible photographer, and I love seeing his images on Instagram!

Having had such a wonderful fun and busy summer, I feel fully re-charged and ready to bring some great new ideas to 2018. There will be new courses and venues, lots of tutorials, more techniques to learn, and online books and courses. Here’s a little sneak peak to what’s coming this year: