Monday, February 25, 2013

Oh, College...

Hello, sweet readers!

Man, life has really been hitting me hard lately. As some of you may know, I am a full time college student at ETSU. I'm a junior this year, and after coming off a not-so-great semester in the fall, I am determined to really kick things up a notch this spring and rebound off into a great summer.

I decided to take extra classes this semester in order to keep myself on track to graduate in about 2 years. I'm finally getting around to knocking out my science classes, and the my choice for the first of two sets necessary for my diploma ended up being Geology. I am in love with this class! My professor is an amazing speaker (and I am not just sucking up in case he stumbles across this post!). However, if you have ever taken a science class, you know that they are taxing... As much as I love the subject matter, I am getting quite overwhelmed with it. AND, this is only one of four sciences that I will need to graduate! I'm also taking the first of my advertizing classes, as well as picking up a few classes that count towards my electives.

I'm taking 16 hours total, which has turned into more work that I realized!
Add on top of that an amazing toddler who is learning more and more and his favorite thing to do all day is to play with his "Mom-mom." Oh, and add a blossoming small business that is doing better and better as time goes on... Plus a blog... and a YouTube channel... and the daily grind of creating bath and body items/photographing/editing/listing... and now there are craft shows to think about, with two of them coming up at the end of April... YIKES! (Oh, and don't forget my husband, who likes to see me every now and then!)

So, with all of these things pulling me in a hundred different directions, I've decided that it is time to start scaling back some things in order to make school and my family the priority. So, until this semester ends at the beginning of May, I am going to scale back my blog posts to two a week: Monday and Friday. I will continue to feature my Etsy artists until I run out of folks to feature. I would like to continue to add new content to the blog on Mondays, but as school and family and my shop continue to need my attention, Monday posts may move to the back burner for me. My YouTube channel will also be scaled back as well, as it is easier to create new things without having to worry about extra equipment to set up, as well as not looking like a complete moron in from of a camera. :o)

I hope that you all will continue to bear with me as I make it through this semester. My Etsy shop will still be around, as well as my Facebook and Twitter, which are easier to update on the fly. Make sure to follow me there to keep up with me!

I hope to hear from you all soon!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Feature Post: Mary of NeedlecraftbyNan

Place mats, napkins, and ring holders
If you are looking to see some amazing handiwork, then make sure to check out NeedlecraftByNan! Mary Evans, who also goes by Nan, has amazing talents with a needle and thread, and her amazing creations can be found on Etsy! Mary's shop is just getting off the ground, so make sure to head over and show her some love! You can learn more about Mary below in her own words...
_____ name is Mary[nan] Evans. i opened a shop on several months ago. I make quality hand crafted items for babies, mothers and children, home decor, and seasonal items.

2. i started many years ago sewing for my children and friends. both my mother and grandmother were needle artists and it fascinated me to watch them create beautiful things out of fabric, yarn and crochet thread.

3. the favorite part of the process is creating original designs and putting my ideas into a product.

Gorgeous bib ... Original Design!
4.i think making things that are well made and will last for years with a minimum of care. i love having others get enjoyment out of things i make for them favorite items to make are baby bibs with my original designs on them.

6. i am on facebook, and i have just joined two etsy teams - knoxville creative hands street team and east tennessee crafters network. i'm just learning how to use the computer so hope it will help me to get aquainted through these groups. my goal is to build a local customer base.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Whipped Body Butter Adventures

Solid Lotion Bars - Travel Size
Since about mid-November, I have been playing around with a few solid lotion bar recipes, and I have finally perfected my recipe, tested it, had my testers give it a go, and I am confident enough to start offering my solid lotion bars on Etsy!Yay!

My solid lotion bars have become a huge hit among my testers, and through word of mouth, I have actually sold a few already! The bars are made of beeswax, shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil, and a little bentonite clay, to help cut the greasy feeling and help the lotion glide on the skin. Currently, I only have small lotion bars, which are pocket-size, and I am looking forward to creating large sized bars, once I confirm my packaging!

However, as my lotion-creating adventure went along, I stumbled into the world of whipped body butters, and I am head over heels in love with body butters! I created my first tiny batch of body butter, using this recipe:
  • 70% shea butter (My local health food store sells unrefined shea butter, so I had to fight it when it tried to go grainy on me.)
  • 15% grapeseed oil (I have this lying around, but I would not use it in a sellable product, since the shelf life is so short)
  • 15% coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp corn start (to cut the greasy feeling)

I do not have a standing mixer (super sad face!), but I do have a hand blender, so I used my hand blender to whip the mix. Without a whisk attachment, it did not whip up as much as I had anticipated, but it was still arid enough for me to be happy. I added some Cucumber and Green Tea fragrance oil, which smells lovely! The small batch that I made (I started with a little over 3oz. of oils and butters) ended up making over 5 oz. in product, so I packaged some and sent it off to my testers.

Two of my testers loved it, but one did complain that it felt greasier than the solid lotion bar. The greasiness comes from the shea butter, so I am thinking about playing around with some mango butter, which is supposed to be smoother and dryer than the shea. I'm thinking of trying a 40% shea ad 60% mango blend for the butter part. I am also going to play around with a sweet almond/olive blend for the soft oils, rather than the grapeseed/coconut blend that I used before. Grapeseed has a very short shelf life (3-6 months), and coconut oil seems to be a more-common allergy, so I think the sweet almond/olive blend would work well.I am also considering grabbing some tapioca starch to substitute for the corn starch, since some people have reactions to corn starch... Loads to think about over the next little while!

Working with the body butter also has me thinking about preservatives, which is something that I have not had to research before. Currently, my products do not contain preservatives, but it is something that I may need to consider in the future if I ever branch out into liquid lotions or products other than soap that are water and oil combinations. I've come across some fantastic information on preservatives from some very reputable blogs, like Soap Queen and SwiftCraftyMonkey, so I am starting to feel confident about which preservatives to chose as I expand my products.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Featured Post: Marci of MarcisChainDesigns

Wow, if you are looking for some amazing, unique handmade jewelry, you have found something fabulous in Marci's Chain Designs! Marci, the hands behind these amazing chainmail creations, has an eye for the colorful and unique! Looking for a chainmail bow tie or belt? Marci is your gal!

You can learn more about Marci in her words below. Enjoy!
Rainbow Earrings
I'm Marci, owner of Marci's Chain Designs ( My creations are accessories and jewelry inspired by chain mail armor from the Middle Ages. Each piece is crafted from links that are woven together by hand, one ring at a time.

I've been fascinated by chain mail since the first opportunity I had to touch a finished piece. There's a captivating quality to an item made from stiff metal rings that, when woven, become a flexible and fluid piece of art. Each item has its own unique texture and movement, making it as much fun to play with as it is to wear.

My favorite part of the craft is engineering. Chainmail is based on repeating patterns, all of which behave differently with different sizes of rings or types of metal. I love the challenge of creating something from the ground up and finding the correct combination of size, metal, color and design to make a piece that is both functional and beautiful.
Chainmail stretch bracelet

In the 10+ years I've been making chainmail the history attached to it has never ceased to amaze me. The process I use is very similar to what armorers used during the Middle Ages when linked rings were used to craft armor that protected troops and saved lives. Since chainmail armor isn't as in demand today, I enjoy finding new and different ways to turn that piece of history into something modern and unexpected.
Chainmail Bow tie

My favorite item currently for sale in my Etsy store is the bow tie. It's quirky, eye catching, and guaranteed to jump start any conversation. That said, I most often find myself wearing a pair of four in one stretch bracelets.

You can always find me at Marci's Chain Designs on Etsy ( or my business site,
Don't forget to Like me on Facebook ( as well, where you can find my calendar of shows and special discounts that are only available to Facebook fans!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Youtube Tuesday: Making Marigold Mint Soap

This video features me using the 9 bar birchwood mold that I reviewed yesterday. If you have any questions, let me know!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Review: Birchwood Soap Mold from

One of my favorite soaps so far: Marigold Mint
At Christmas, I begged my husband for only one present: the 9 bar birchwood mold from Bramble Berry. The mold looked so slick and perfect, and I was dying to start making soaps with swirls and designs on top to match the fragrance within. And as soon as Christmas arrived, I became the proud owner of the 9 cavity mold!

The mold came with the wooden box, four outer walls, the four dividers that could be slid into place before or after pouring the soap, and a wooden top to help insulate the soap.

This mold has presented me with a few interesting challenges. First off, this mold was quite different from the silicone molds that I have been so accustomed to. I had to learn how to wrap the wooden mold in freezer paper to keep the soap batter from spoiling the wooden box. My first few attempts to wrap the mold where HUGE disasters! I learned quickly that when I added the walls after molding, I have to take care not to rip the paper, or else the soap batter will leak into the box and will ruin it.

After perfecting the art of wrapping the mold, it was time to make the soap. Using the mold is very easy and makes gorgeous soaps! I've been able to start making pretty swirls and flowers on the tops of my soaps, and I have been super pleased with my mold. I've actually ditched most of my loaf molds in favor of the birchwood mold. I love the new look and feel of my soaps!

Be sure to come back tomorrow and checkout a video that I made of soaping with the 9 bar birchwood mold!


Just a quick FYI, this is a personal review of this product. This review was not paid for in any way and I am not affiliated with Bramble berry or!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Feature Post: Alicia from OwnSomethingAwesome

 If you want to own something awesome, why not head on over to Alicia's etsy shop, OwnSomethingAwesome! Her handmade crochet kitchen and bath accessories are fabulous! I love the different colors, patterns, and textures in her work. Learn more about Alicia below...
Face Scrubbies
1.Who are you and what do you sell?
My name is Alicia from Own Something Awesome, and I offer eco-friendly crochet items for the home. =)

2.What inspired you to get started in your craft?
Actually, it was my baby shower a couple years ago. My mom and I were trying to think of some gifts to give the guests that were meaningful in some way. Well, I ended up crocheting some wash cloth sets! After seeing how much some of the guests really liked the gifts, I decided maybe that's what I would go into. I use to make needle felting sculptures, but when I got pregnant, the motion of punching the felt over and over made me SUPER nauseous, so I needed to find something else to pass the time. Crocheting then became my new hobby and now my business!

3.What is your favorite part of your process?
My favorite part is taking some yarn and making something great out of it. I'm sure there's one item in my shop that everyone uses, and it makes me feel good that I'm offering eco-friendly items. I've been big into finding more eco-friendly solutions in my life the past year or so.

4.Handmade: What inspires you the most while you create?
Looking at my house, and thinking, what can I make that would be useful in this room? or even going through certain isles at the store. I like to see the new cleaning products out.
Crochet Double Layered Scrubbie

5.If you could pick, what is your most favorite item in your Etsy shop?
My absolute most favorite item, is any of my double layered scrubbies (pot scrubbers). I make them with thicker strips of netting than a lot of people, so they tend to last for like, ever it seems! And they are great to use on pretty much anything because they don't scratch!

6.Got any social media links?

7.Anything else that you want to share?
First - I know some people might not think cleaning things are "awesome" per say, but personally, I love the words Awesome and Stupendous! They are just really positive uplifting words! =)

Dish Cloth Set
I am working on adding more items throughout this year, but with my 2-year-old son, and my youngest son born on December 6th, I am a little behind on getting a whole lot of new things into the shop, but keep checking back!

Also, for all of you awesome readers who like to support handmade, Use coupon code BLOGSPECIAL at checkout and receive 20% your order!

I hope every one of you have an Awesome Day!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Making Sea Salt Soap

Yuzu Sea Salt Soap
Salt soap is a true luxury! A salt soap bar combines the gentle cleansing of cold process soap with the exfoliate and skin softening power of salt. The salt is embedded in the soap to create a hard, long lasting bar that is speckled with the salt crystals, which gives the soap a really unique look.

Making salt bars is quick and easy if you are already familiar with how to make cold process soap. If you are not familiar with cold process soap, or if you are just beginning, you may want to get a few batches of CP soap under your belt before you attempt salt soap.
Love Spell Salt Soap

Some quick tips:
  • When using salt in cold process soap, you need to be aware that salt is a lather killer. In order to combat this problem, it is best to use a large percentage (80%+) of coconut oil. I prefer to use 90% coconut and 10% castor, which makes a stable, creamy lather with medium sized bubbles. You can use any percentage of oils that you like, but most soapers will advise you to use at least 80% coconut oil.
  • Another tip is on superfatting. Most soap calculators default to 5% superfattening of your oils, but for salt soaps it is better to use between 15% to 20% superfat. This keeps the soap from being too drying on the skin and adds to the moisturizing properties. 
  • One tip that I will strongly encourage is to use individual molds when making salt soap. Salt soap likes to set up quickly. I've heard of some soapers who are able to cut their salt soap within 2 hours of pouring the soap. However, if you cut your salt soap loaves too late, the soap will be dry and crumble easily. Individual molds keep you from worrying about this, since you do not have to cut them.
  • The longer you let your soap cure, the better! Soaps tend to get better with age (like cheese and wine), and salt soaps are best used after a 6 week cure or longer.
Come back tomorrow and see my YouTube video on how to make sea salt soap! And make sure to comment below if you have any questions about anything! 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Feature Post: Megan from NewEveJewelry

Vintage Key and Treble Clef Necklace
Everyone loves a little piece of vintage, and with Megan's Etsy shop, NewEveJewelry, you can combine your love of vintage and jewelry into one gorgeous piece of art! I am in LOVE with the key necklace featured on the right... Stunning!
1.Who are you and what do you sell?
I'm Megan Craig of New Eve Jewelry. I sell jewelry that I've made using vintage trinkets and semiprecious gemstones.

2.What inspired you to get started in your craft?
I love the symbolism behind refashioning potential junk into something beautiful & precious. In the past I've even taken stale cereal and fallen tree bark and cast them in sterling silver, literally turning trash to treasure.
I feel like God has done that with me so many times. He picks me up off the ground, dusts me off, and makes something amazing out of my mistakes. That's my real inspiration: God's love.

Pink and Gold Vintage Earrings
3.What is your favorite part of your process?
My favorite part of my creative process is the hunt for vintage "thingamabobs," as I call them. I'll spend hours scouring thrift stores for the perfect pieces, dreaming up how to use them and what they'll become. Imagination is key for me.

4.Handmade: What inspires you the most while you create?
While I create, I love listening to music and getting really into the process of creating, wrapping wires around one another and choosing the perfect stones. Watching my piece come together keeps the inspiration going.

5.If you could pick, what is your most favorite item in your Etsy shop?
Vintage Gold Swirl Button Earrings
My favorite item is a long gold necklace made with a quartz crystal and a vintage brass flower. It's so versatile, yet it's got that vintage flair!

6.Got any social media links?

7.Anything else that you want to share?
I donate 10% of my sales to charity. Right now I donate to my local rescue mission in Knoxville, Tennessee. My plan is to transition to donating to a global anti-trafficking organization in the future.