Creating Handouts

February 24, 2015

coverpageI teach soap classes (beginner, intermediate, advance, CP, MP, Milk Soap…just about everything).  I’ve been teaching now through local community ed programs and doing private lessons for over two years.  I used to teach a bath and body class where I taught the students how to make a scrub, balm, and body spray. I was never really happy with the class. I wanted it to be so much more.  I eventually stopped offering it.

Recently I started doing research for my own new line of scrubs.  I wanted to go beyond the basics.  I was compiling all this information for myself and I thought I should create a whole new set of handouts on bath products and teach a class again.  After two years my knowledge has grown significantly.  I’ve introduced a wide range of bath products to my line over this time and I’ve experimented constantly on tweaking recipes and trying out new ones to even creating my own products.

I started to create the handouts and they very quickly morphed into this massive project.  I didn’t just want to give students a handful of recipes.  I wanted to teach them how to formulate their own products!  Of course to do this you have  not only understand what the product does and why we make it, but the ingredients that make up those products.  And by understanding the ingredients you use, their properties, why they’re good for you, why you’d use some over others, they’d be equipped to make anything they wanted.

To teach that though is much more of an undertaking than to give students a handful of recipes and say ok here now you can make some new products.  Sure, they could, but they weren’t really going to learn anything that would help them tweak and alter and eventually create their own products.

Almost 80 hours later I’ve finished a first draft of my (25+ page) handouts.  That’s just part 1.  There is a part 2. There is also a detailed step by step instruction section I want to complete.  I’m a long ways from done, but I’m starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  My 20 pages of notes are now coherent organized ramblings! And it’s super exciting to see it taking shape. I can’t wait to teach and offer this class in the future.  I’ve found a joy in making these products through understanding what I was doing and not just following someone else’s recipe and I hope I can pass that on to others.


Germany 2014 (Part 2)

January 29, 2015

I have to remark on a few things…I can’t help myself. There are some big cultural differences between Europe and America.  They always amaze me, even though I spent ten years living in Europe!  I wanted to share my little list of insights from my 2014 trip.

  1. Europe doesn’t do ICE water.  I’m an ice water girl. Give me cold water with ice! Europe just doesn’t do ice.
  2. Asking for tap water with your meal is not common.  And if you ask for water (it’s bottled water you pay for) you have to make sure you specify between STILL and SPARKLING or you’ll most likely get sparkling water.
  3. I drank more soda on this trip than I’ve probably drank in the past three years. (Nope I’m not a soda person). That said it was always Fanta I was drinking. REAL Fanta! *content sigh*
  4. Exit doors swing in and not out like in the US.  As a former architect this still baffles me. It’s law (code) that exit doors must swing out (to allow traffic to flow out in case of an emergency). I can’t tell you how many time I walked into doors because I pushed expecting them to open but I had to pull!
  5. Go ahead and try to find a house with double hung windows in Europe! They don’t do double hung.  Oh course they wouldn’t fit in with their architecture, so it makes sense, but these are little things I notice.
  6. They don’t have vanity license plates.
  7. If you order french fries you get the option of ketchup or mayonnaise.  Just the thought of mayonnaise on french fries grosses me out, but they love it!

It’s fascinating to look at other cultures and see the differences and similarities.


Germany 2014

January 28, 2015

I have to say I was one lucky girl this past Christmas.  My parents brought my sister and I to Germany.  We lived there for seven years (at different times) when I was growing up. (We also lived in France for three years).  The upside of being an Army Brat.  I’m also half German and just love Germany.  It was an amazing trip (despite the hiccup at the beginning of our trip…missed a connecting flight in Iceland and got to spend a day there.)

I thought I’d share with you some of the photos from my trip.

Regensburg, Germany

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Munich, Germany

Munich has my absolute favorite Christkindlemarket.  It is, in my opinion, the best one in Germany (heck, all of Europe).  And I feel I can say this as I’ve been to at least a dozen Christmas markets over the years.

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Prague, Czech Republic

I’ve been to Prague many times (this was my fourth time, but who’s counting)!  I visited when I lived in Europe. Got to spend a month in the city when I was in college for a summer program.  An absolutely amazing experience!  It was cold in Prague.  I was bundled up!  I love the beauty of this city.  Untouched by the wars, it’s truly a gorgeous city.

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Dresden, Germany

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Dresden was FREEZING. I took very few pictures.  Mostly cause my sister and Dad were taking a bunch and I figured I could just get theirs ha!

Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

One of my favorite places on this earth! And no I’m not exaggerating! It snowed the entire three days we were here.  It was cold cold cold!  We climbed up the slick stone steps to walk the wall of the town.  Not maybe the smartest idea, but it was fun!

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And lastly one of my favorite German dishes: Jagerschnitzel with spaetzle! Yum!

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2014: A Look Back

January 12, 2015

What did I accomplish in 2014?  A fair amount!

  • I made over 3000 bars of soap (less than 2013, but I was much smarter with my soap making in 2014)
  • I experimented with some new products AND added a number of them to my line: bath bombs, foot fizzies, muscle salve/balm, and a green cleaning line.
  • A realized that some of my products needed to become seasonal products for the winter as they just didn’t sell well enough during the year.  The biggest of those are my cupcakes soaps.
  • I did less markets, but was smarter about it.  I worked less to make more money.  I learned that a few more needed to get cut out in 2015.
  • Online Sales: I was on par with what I did in 2013.  I wasn’t happy about that.  I really wanted to grow my online sales, so that’s definitely a goal for this year.
  • Wholesale saw a small increase in new clients, but a definite increase in repeat orders.
  • Made some major updates to the webpage.  I’m much happier about them.  I do however have some more updates in mind for 2015.
  • I attended my second Soap Conference.  I learned some new things and got to visit my Aunt as well.
  • I received my Advance Certification for CP soap making.
  • I got certified by the Soap Guild as an Advance Teacher.

Quite the year!  I have many goals for 2015, but that’s for another post!


Jennifer’s Top Five List: #1

December 12, 2014

And we’ve made it all the way to my (two) number one favorite Christmas songs! I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to them with me! And I’ve loved you all sharing your favorites with me! Without further ado:

Traditional #1: Carol of Bells, David Foster
Of all the versions of this song I’ve heard over the years (and I’ve heard many good ones) this is still by far my most favorite.

Nontraditional #1: Take a Walk Through Bethlehem, Tricia Yearwood
I first heard this song a couple years ago when I borrowed my parents CD of it. (I “borrowed” many cds that Christmas ha!) I was looking for some new music to add to my collection. This song just spoke to me. It’s everything that Christmas should be about. I wish this song was played day after day (unlike some of the other Christmas songs they play) on the radio. This is my favorite Christmas song without a doubt.


Jennifer’s Top Five List: #2

December 9, 2014

Traditional #2: Christmas in Killarny, Anne Murray
This version is from Bing Crosby. I like it, but I like the Anne Murray version better (I couldn’t find it on YouTube though). Anne Murray’s version is actually combined with another song too. I’m Irish and I think this song really pulls the Irish out of me! Oh my word whenever I hear this song I start singing along at the top of my lungs. As the Irish say: “If you don’t sing well, sing loud!”

Nontraditional #2: This is Your Gift, John Tesh
Listen and fall in love! Oh just love this song.


Jennifer’s Top Five List: #3

December 6, 2014

Traditional #3: Emmanuel, Amy Grant
Love her version. Love the song.

(and this version leads right into Little Town so I’ve included the link for it too :D because part of why I love this version is the fact that this song is kind of a part of it.)

Nontraditional #3: The Peace Carol, John Denver and the Muppets
Technically this probably doesn’t qualify as nontraditional. It’s actually sung at my church in the music before mass, but you don’t hear this on the radio nor is it commonly found on other Christmas CDs so I’m considering it nontraditional! LOVE LOVE LOVE this song and it’s message.


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