Can you believe it’s already November? Before you know it, Christmas will be here – which means if you’re anything like me, you have the best intentions of getting those gifts done early but will instead find yourself frantically shopping on Christmas Eve. Sound familiar?
First, the bag. I’ve been on the hunt for a solid camera bag for a while now. I have the official Canon Backpack, which works great for storing all my gear — but when I’m planning a day of shooting where I’ll only need my DSLR body, 2-3 lenses and a few spare batteries/memory cards, I don’t want to be carting a 30 lb. pack all over town. I needed something light, simple and durable. Enter the Lifetime Leather Convertible Messenger bag from Duluth Trading Co.
We’re all about the giveaways this month! I’m so excited to dive into this particular one because, as you all know, we at offbeat + inspired hold DIY skincare very near and dear to our hearts. We’ve been making/sharing soap recipes since we launched the blog a year ago, and hopefully we’ve encouraged some of you to adopt our strange soaping habits. If you’re not quite there yet because you’re skeptical, overwhelmed by the idea, or just plain scared of your house exploding amidst a massive volcano of lye…this giveaway is for you.
I have a hard time staying focused on one hobby at a time. I love dabbling in about 10 projects at once. I currently have soap curing, pallets in the garage waiting to become furniture, spray paint on hand for finishing my deck upcycle, and random ingredients (like Himalayan pink salt) in my pantry waiting to be featured in recipes I have yet to create.
Yesterday morning, I looked out the window while I was getting ready and decided, “You know what? It looks like flip-flop weather!” I’m not quite sure what got into me, but I got dressed and was completely convinced that I would get to work and everyone would be wearing summer attire.
We had a soap party last weekend! A few friends came over and we spent hours melting, mixing, pouring, and having a blast. Coming up with soap recipes and creating them with friends are probably the 2 most enjoyable things about soaping, other than using your very own homemade bar for the first time!
One of the new recipes we tried out was for a coffee soap with jojoba oil. This soap is made with a double-strength coffee base instead of water, used coffee grounds as an exfoliant, and jojoba oil for its great nutrients and skin conditioning properties. We cut the bars last night and now we’re impatiently counting the days until they’re finished curing. We’re really excited to gift these when they’re ready – that is if we don’t end up hoarding them all for ourselves…
About 2 years ago I went on a skincare health kick. I don’t remember exactly what set it off, but it was probably after watching some doomsday documentary about the monsters living in our moisturizers. I’m pretty gullible when it comes to stuff like that, but I figure it’s better to be safe than sorry! I started off by cross-checking almost every bath & body product I was using on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is a great resource if you have a favorite product and want to know its potential hazard rating. I only felt comfortable using products with a rating lower than 4. As helpful as this was, I started feeling less trusting of the companies behind the labels. The cosmetics industry does have certain standards to live up to, but you can never know for sure if a label is completely honest! I know this mindset can send me off the deep end where I move into a tree house and eat leaves for the rest of my life, so in the interest of REALISM, I decided to take on a new hobby: SOAP MAKING!
The idea of knowing exactly what was going into my most frequently used bath product was definitely appealing, to say the least. I set out on a mission to create a moisturizing, cleansing, fragrant, all natural soap with quality ingredients. It also doesn’t hurt that quality handmade soaps make WONDERFUL gifts!
There are a few different methods of soap making, but the one I ended up loving was Cold Process (CP). This method has a short prep time and a long cure time. The cure time (4-6 weeks) is frustrating if you’re in a hurry to use your soap, but a long cure is necessary to produce the best quality. Making a batch of Cold Process Soap takes 1-2 hours initially and then an additional 4-6 weeks before you should use or gift it. This is how long it takes for the water to completely evaporate, resulting in a harder, longer lasting bar of soap. One misconception about CP cure time is that the soap is unsafe to use within the 4-6 week time frame because it hasn’t “saponified” yet. Saponification is the chemical reaction between fats, lye & water that produces the substance we call soap! It actually only takes about 2 days for saponification to complete. So technically, you can use your soap after 2 days, but it will be very soft and will most likely fall apart in the shower. “Aging” your soap is definitely encouraged! The long wait was annoying at first, but it allowed me to walk away from the project for a while, thus avoiding burnout (which I am 100% prone to) AND giving me something to look forward to!
Researching a topic like this can be extremely tedious, so I’m hoping to save budding CP soapers a little bit of trouble by consolidating everything I learned into this post. By the end, you will be equipped to try your first batch of CP soap!