Monday, June 2, 2014

Caribou Coffee Gardening Soap - step-by-step photos

I was in our local Caribou Coffee, buying a much needed Mint Condition,
when I spotted this near the checkout.
Ahh....what perfect inspiration for a new batch of herbal soap!
I'd like to create something special to use on my hands, and perhaps all over, after spending an afternoon working out in the garden.  I'm one of those people who start off wearing garden gloves, but always end up slipping them off for one reason or another. I need a scrubby bar of soap, and coffee grounds I know, will be perfect.  Look closely, I love that the label says, "Even your garden needs coffee after a long slumber. These free used coffee grounds will wake your plants up with essential elements they need!"

So my daughter and I left Caribou not only with our coffees, but with a special package of gardening coffee grounds to sprinkle in the garden and more importantly, stir into a batch of soap.

Here's a look at the finished bars of Caribou Coffee Gardening Soap. Most of the flowers in my garden are pink, so this is a perfect color combination for me. And the scent is amazing. It's a blend I created using berry vanilla and adding a bit of strawberry to bring out and enhance the berry notes more.
Following are all the how-tos and step-by-step photos.

I couldn't wait to get home and get started. First, I measured out Cocoa Butter.

Next up was weighing the Coconut Oil. Coconut is my favorite oil. I use it in each and every batch of soap we make because of the fantastic bubbles it helps to create.

 I weighed out a small slice of coffee butter. What's coffe butter you say?  It's a blend of coconut oil and coffee seed oil (coffea arabica seed oil) and smells just like a cup of coffee.

And some pure unrefined Shea Butter.  I love Shea Butter on my skin!
I added some Olive Oil to the mix and then melted all the oils together.

Then I set aside the melted oils to cool, while I prepared the water and lye mixture.

 It's important to measure the water.  It's more exact.

After measuring the lye flakes out on the scale, I carry them outside and add them into the weighed water.  I like to do this outdoors, even during our freezing cold Minnesota winter months.  That way, all of the fumes created when the lye dissolves into the water are not inside my house, but outside.

After the lye water had cooled some outside, I bring it in and add it to the melted oils.

This is what the soap batch looks like as I'm stirring.

Sorting through and getting the coffee grounds ready - looking for any stray beans.

Adding the finely ground Caribou Coffee beans.

Stirring the Caribou grounds and some berry vanilla scent into the soap.

Getting the mold ready by lining it with freezer paper.  This makes the soap easier to unmold.

Pouring the first layer of coffee soap into the mold.

Getting the second layer ready!  I colored it with a touch of bright berry and scented it with strawberry and berry vanilla - yum!  This smells delicious.
Adding the second part to the mold and then swirling it with a spatula.

Perfect!  It's all ready to cover and set aside for 24 hours.

I unmolded the soap after 24 hours. It looks good, smells wonderful and is ready to cut into logs.

Soap logs ready to cut into bars. I like the swirls already but know they will look even better when they are cut into bars.

Happy Gardening!
Christine Kennedy

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring in Minnesota

The winter will pass, and surely Spring WILL come to central Minnesota.

There is some melting happening in the garden already.

And, the swans are back and enjoying some open water.

As this winter slowly leaves us, I eagerly wait for the arrival of Spring.  A few nights ago I fell asleep to the sound of thunder, but awoke to four new inches of snowfall.  I don't recall a winter that has tried our patience more.  So many days in a row of frigid temperatures with lots of snow & ice that created treacherous driving conditions has all made for a very l-o-n-g winter. I'm looking forward to Spring and working with fresh herbal scents helps to bring it all that much closer. 

Just cut bars of Lilac Explosion Soaps, they will need to cure and wait for Spring too.
If you visited on this soapmaking day, you might think that I had carried armfulls of lilac branches into our home. This specialty bar, Lilac Explosion is a limited edition and offered just in the spring and early summer until it's sold out.

Here I'm holding a log of our Irish Heather Herbal Soap.  I'm cutting the newly made soap into logs and then into bars.  Irish Heather is one of my all-time favorites and we offer this soap year round.  The scent is such a beautiful fresh green and reminds me of what walking into a florist shop smells like.

"The slow dark months crept onward
Upon their icy way,
'Till April broke in showers
And Spring smiled forth in May."

I have always loved the saying "April showers bring May flowers", perhaps because April is my birth month.  But also because the natural cycle of renewal in nature is a sweet reminder that even unpleasant things, like heavy snow and April rain, all help bring about very beautiful things - an abundance of fragrant flowers in May.

May's birth flower is the Lily of the Valley which means, in the language of flowers, humility, sweetness and hope.  .

"April showers bring May flowers" is also a lesson in patience.  Many of life's greatest things come to those who wait, and by patiently and happily enduring the snow and clouds of April we can more richly enjoy the sights and smells of May.  After this past winter, I am eager to embrace the thunderstorms of April, and patiently await the unfolding blooms of May!

Happy Spring!
Christine Kennedy