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Saturday, 15 November 2008

Skull and Crossbones

LOL - I came up with an idea for some soaps, one of those random things when you look at all your stocks, thinking -is it too much - will people like it? Well, yes they seem to. So far I have made two kinds - grey background with hemp fragrance and red background with jelly bean fragrance. I did try my hand at red skull and crossbones on a white background but they didn't work. Maybe operator error but these ones do work so I'm sticking to them. I'm going to add two more - blue background with oceanish fragrance and green background with apple/pear etc fragrance or possibly yellow with lemon (though I've got a few lemon scented bars at the mo). People like them - definitely a boy targeted item :-D

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Craft Fair - Handmade at Oxford

I think a successful day - and I had fun :-D My sister and a friend cam e to help so I had the luxury of having a p break whenever it was needed rather than at the end of the day when all packed up! Sold well, but also sold all the box of soaps I'd marked out for Charity. Made £28 for the Royal British Legion so am quite chuffed. Popped the money in the collecting tin at the main doors and went off happy.

Monday, 3 November 2008


Mizzling down out there and I'm working on new labels. Spent the evening at my photomanipulation class. Lovely people, horrible computers. The second time mine crashed I gave up and came home :-(

Saturday, 1 November 2008

RSS Feed

I did it !!!!!!!!!

I managed to set up a feed. :-D :-D

Prep time

The rain is pouring down and my garden is flooding. We put a new step in last year to keep us elevated a bit - and if you stand there in the dark and rain and wind it looks like a stream flowing through the garden. It's not - just a giant puddle - never buy a house on a flood plain with clay soil.....

I have spent the day wrapping. New labels, new packaging, new soaps. I have also found two batches that just don't cut it. There's absolutely nothing wrong with them, but they just don't look good. I blame it on the central heating ;-) Anway i had a thought. I'm in Oxford on Sunday the 9th at a craft fair at the town hall and I thought I would put all my end of lines and bits I'm not happy with into a big tray and ask for some money, I think 50p to a £1, or more if people want, and then at the end of the day I will give it all the the Royal British Legion.

I think that's fair. And the soap will be used and not wasted.

Friday, 12 September 2008


One of those days.

Driving home at 4 in the morning. Filled up on fuel only to have my card refused and no cash on me. Luckily I think the lone lady worker thought i looked pretty harmless and let me in to use the cashpoint. Why though would the cashpoint give me money on the same card that wouldn't let me pay?

Woke this morning to a letter from the fraud department with a list of transactions, explaining why the card was stopped. Not all my bills. Tesco online £600? I haven't shopped that way for over 2 years. So have to now check everything and wait for a new card. Do you think that was why I kept spending more money than I thought?

Then school run, and I reversed into a transit van who was reversing at the same time. i thought I got away with it and breathed a huge sigh of relief as it was my husband's car. Big Saab I thought, built to last, no problems. I picked up one little bit of plastic and drove away. The wheel arches had been thoroughly cleaned by the collision and the other van was intact. DH gets home to tell me I've actually ripped the bumper off.

Three things. No more now, I can't afford it!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I've been making matroyshka charms in one form or another for a while now. They sell well. But they're always different as I scavenge them from vintage pictures and suchlike or hand draw them. So I thought I'd try and get one into the computer - quickly. I can't find my tablet so thought I'd try paint, but as ever my hand just isn't steady enough. So...I tried basic circles and ovals and lines and came up with the matroyshka below.

The idea is that I change the pattern on her tummy to go with different colour combinations. I grabbed the nearest available image.That's why she has a goldfish there. Sheer laziness and not a view of her dinner.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Herbal infusions

I love herbal infusions. They can be a way of using a herb well past the date that you would normally throw them out. Foodwise they can add an edge to your cooking and for making soap they can add fragrance, but also means that you can utilise the qualities of the herb without having the lumpy bits of the herb (which all tend to blacken up after a while).

To make an oil infusion you need approx 500g of your oil and up to 8oz of the herb you've chosen. A double boiler/bain marie pot makes life so much easier, but if you don't have one you can use a normal saucepan with an upturned tin in the bottom - or something solid that won't be affected by boiling water.

Measure your ingredients and place in bain marie over continuously simmering water. Make sure the bain marie or bowl doesn't touch the bottom of the pan (which is where the tin comes in) and that the water doesn't bowl dry. Allow the infusion to cook for approx 1 hour, making sure the herb doesn't cook - deep fried infused herb tends to leave crispy bits. When infused you can start again with the same oil and a new batch of herbs to make a stronger batch. Basically, the longer and more often you can keep the process going the stronger the infusion.

When you're happy filter the oil through ever decreasing filters. I tend to do the last pour through a coffee filter to make sure no bits are left, but it takes a long time to filter through – patience and a good book is needed, as you'll have to keep topping the filter up.

Alternatively you can pour the oil with the herb into a glass jar and leave it on the windowsill. It works best if you can leave it in the sun, but, if that's not possible then a warmish room will do. This kind of infusion takes between 24 – 48 hours, but some people will leave the infusion for weeks.

When picking herbs for soap making I like lavender (soothing), peppermint (aching muscles), calendula (skin rashes and inflammation), annato (colour), nettle (astringent), rosemary (scalp itching). You can use fresh herbs from the garden, but for longevity of the final infused oil it is best to use fully dried herbs to make sure that no moisture remains mixed with the oil.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Red Kite

An absolutely awesome moment this morning over my breakfast coffee. I usually have my coffee outside. Yes, even when snowing or raining (though I have been known to sit in the shed before now) as this is the only 10 minutes peace I'll get for most of the day. I had my coffee in one hand and my paper in the other when two birds sped past me really low down. I heard a thud and thought 'ouch, that has to hurt' when they came speeding back. A Red Kite following it's prey. The thud had obviously slowed down the hunted bird and right in front of me the Kite pounced. A few more panicked cheeps and there was silence with the Kite folding back one of its wings and just sitting looking around. Minimal movement of its head but lots of movement on its yellow eyes. A paving slab away from me. Yes, it would have been the perfect camera moment, but I just sat there watching, in a bit of a dilemma. When the wind blew the paper would flap and scare the Kite away, but if I moved to fold the paper that would also scare the Kite away.

The weirdest thing was after the Kite flew off with dinner the sky was full of quickly moving birds. Obviously a lot of them had ducked for cover early.

This particular Kite lives, I think, in the Kingswoods, and we often see it flying overhead. Too fast to ever get a decent shot though. We've often tried to tempt it down by imitating a wounded rabbit, but it only lowers down, has a look, then flies away.

The Red Kite was nearly extinct by the end of the 19th Century, so it's great to see it's survival and expansion of its breeding range to the point that, in this area, it's no longer a rare siting. We have a Red Kite breeding centre at Top Lodge, Fineshade, just down the road and by itself it's a wonderful place where you can go and see them but also watch live video feeds and see exactly how the birds are doing.

The view I usually see from the garden is of the kite sailing above, with a wingspan of nearly 2 metres when fully grown, it's a sight not to miss. We purposely go into the garden when we spot him and just stand and watch.

This is what I saw today - my very own raptor in action.

No apologies for the size of the pictures - this is a superb bird and the bottom shot in particular is fantastic.

Monday, 25 February 2008

Why won't it remember me?

The thing I hate about this blog is that it never remembers me. Everyone time I go to sign I put in the password and tick the remember me box - and it never does. That's a bit of a downer for the ego.

Life in the past few months has been busy. The soaps are still in the development phase. I'm just not happy with them, but I now have some lip balms on the loose. It would help if I actually listed some on my websites, otherwise they will never sell. My local farmer's market had promised to get back to me with regards to a stall, but they never did, so I will have to chase them. I think , from the comments made, that they class me as too expensive. Previously they had one lady who's soaps sold really well, and then another lady who charged too much and produced very bad soap which always left a scum in the sink when used. I didn't make the obvious comment about the local water as I was trying to make a good impression - maybe I should have.

The current works are tiaras though. I have a commission for a new design that I'm working on - butterfly hair combs. This photo is at the hedgehog stage:

This one is half a wing completed. Just need to check that the buyer is happy before I carry on.

Apart from other tiaras I have also been asked to make some for a shop in Savannah, Georgia. Consignment basis. I hummed and hawed as I usually say no, but I like Savannah, which is why I swung over to a yes vote. 3 month trial and it'll be interesting. At least I can say - 'Red Sky Tiaras' as stocked by.... Shop Moss, Savannah. Red Sky International for definite :-)