Soap making secrets: Finding inspiration

Soap making secrets: Finding inspiration

Lately, I’ve been in a creative rut. I’ve been focusing on making fresh batches of my best selling soaps but I haven’t tried anything new in a while. The problem is a lack of focus more than a lack of ideas. There are so many great scents, colors and techniques that I could try but I haven’t been able to settle on one.

Then, a few weeks ago, I took a mid-week trip to the Cleveland Botanical GardenWith 10 acres of outdoor gardens and two glass houses that contain a Madagascar desert environment and a Costa Rican cloud forest (complete with birds, butterflies and leaf cutter ants), this place is my Disney Land.

My group took a guided tour through the gardens and during the tour, a few of the volunteers stole the stage from our tour guide. One sweet lady in particular took the time to explain the histories of how indigo and madder root plants where turned into and used as dyes.

I have both indigo powder and madder root powder in my soap making arsenal so I listened intently to everything she told us. I bought these natural colorants several months ago but haven’t been inspired to use them. Listening to her talk and hearing her passion about the plants surrounding us gave me the spark I needed to get those colorants out and start using them. I now had focus. I would use indigo powder as a natural colorant in my next new batch of soap. From there, the ideas for scents and designs started to flow.

My advice to anyone looking for creative inspiration is simple: Step out of your daily routine and try something new. It’s hard to be inspired when every day feels the same, especially when your day job involves sitting in a grey cubicle jungle. Break your routine, see a new place, talk to someone who’s passionate about what they do and inspiration will find you.

Do you have a special way to find inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

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Lemon grass and green tea bridal shower soap

Rain, rain, go away! That’s the song we’ve been singing here in Northeast Ohio. I was disappointed that The Flea at the Evaporator Works in Hudson was cancelled due to the monsoon we had on Saturday but that meant I was able to make it to a family member’s bridal shower, so the weekend wasn’t a total washout. I made 52 blue and white swirled soaps scented with lemon grass and green tea as favors for the guests. This was my biggest and most complicated project to date and I was thrilled with the results!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Independence Day is right around corner and that means outdoor fun and barbecue. Want to indulge without raising your cholesterol level? Try a vegan beet burger or a black bean burger. You couldn’t ask for a more flavorful experience!

Garlic scape, basil and almond pesto

Garlic scape and basil pesto

Garlic scape, basil and almond pesto on Instagram

If you follow Emmet Street Creations on Instagram, you know that I have been somewhat obsessed by a culinary delight known as a garlic scape. Last fall, I planted around 30 cloves of hard neck garlic in my garden for the sole purpose of harvesting the scape.

The garlic scape is the flower that grows from the bulb of hard neck varieties of garlic. As it grows, it forms a graceful curl.

Harvesting the scape allows the plant to put its energy into growing the bulb. The scape has a very mild garlic flavor and can be used in any way that garlic can be used. I’ve roasted them whole with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, diced them to add flavor to roasted asparagus and I’ve frozen a bunch for future use.

So far, my favorite way to use them is in pesto. You can make pesto with only the garlic scape, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan. But, I love basil pesto so I incorporated basil as well. For a twist, I used almonds instead of pine nuts.

Garlic scape and basil pesto

10 to 12 garlic scapes, roughly chopped with the bulb removed

1 cup tightly packed basil leaves

1 cup chopped almonds

1 cup parmesan cheese

1/2  to 1 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Add the first 4 ingredients to a food processor or blender. (I used my Vitamix.) Start blending on a low speed and gradually add the olive oil until the pesto is a creamy consistency. I ended up using the entire cup of olive oil but you may prefer less. If needed, increase the mixing speed to fully incorporate the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this immediately on pasta, as a spread for bruschetta or as a fancy homemade pizza sauce. It also freezes very well. I plan to use my left-over pesto the next time I make my quick and easy pesto salad.

 

 

I cannot lie…

Bag of ButtsI like little butts. (Soap butts that is.)

Our customers inspired the idea for the Bag of Butts. Folks said they were interested in trying samples of our soaps before they committed to a full-sized bar. Unfortunately, we don’t have molds small enough to make mini bars of soap… but we do have a bunch of end pieces (which we dubbed soap butts) from our regular batches that are not quite large enough to be a full-sized bar. Thus, the Bag of Butts was born!

Like our own heinies, no two pieces are the same size or shape. Your bag of booty will contain 4 to 5 butts of different scents. We will, of course, give you a list of the contents of the bag so you know which of our lovely scents gets the stink off your posterior the best.

Of course, the best way to try out our scents is to come see us in person. Don’t forget we’ll be at The Flea at the Evaporator Works in Hudson this Saturday (6/27) from 9 AM to 5 PM. Come out and give your nose buds a treat! 

Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Watermelon feta saladThings have been heating up around Emmet Street this week. Literally. Northeast Ohio summer heat and humidity have arrived, but we’re making the best of it (it sure beats snow).

I hit the road and traveled to my homeland to let my dad know I’m glad he helped create me and give him some tokens of my affection.

Christine started planning the haul for the next ESC road trip and counting the hours until The Flea at the Evaporator Works this Saturday (we’ll be there from 9-5, the wonderful scent wafting from our booth acting as a siren’s call to shoppers), come out and be enchanted!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

  • Watermelon Sugar Scrub Soap – Summer fun involves eating watermelon and, for some, hitting the beach. This soap looks good enough to eat and gets your skin ready for its post-tan glow.
  • Lavender Lemonade Soap – What’s better than sipping on lemonade in the summer? Smelling like it in the shower!
  • Lime in the Coconut Soap– Christine will tell you mojitos are the perfect summer cocktail. The scent of this soap will take you back to your favorite summertime cocktail hour.

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • Saltine Crack Ice Cream Recipe – Well played, Smitten Kitchen. This looks like food crack. Delicious, delicious food crack.
  • Garlic Cheddar Biscuits Recipe – Apparently we were drawn to all things gluttonous this week on our Facebook page. Dang, these look good.
  • Have you tried the OXO GreenSaver? – Here’s our penance for the food porn: we started thinking about salad again. Based on this review from The Kitchn, I think I’m going to give this product a whirl. Have you tried it? Is it worth the clams to ditch the clamshell containers?

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

It’s been so hot and humid around my place I’ve been thinking about all things water based (when I haven’t been daydreaming about crack ice cream or cheesy biscuits). This lavender lemonade and watermelon and feta salad are some tasty ways I’ll keep myself hydrated.

Grill recipes Dad will love (and don’t involve hamburger, steak or hot dogs)

 Grill tongsImage credit: Grill Tongs by Steven Depolo, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

I don’t about your dad’s claims, but MY dad is King of the Grill. However, his repertoire is pretty limited as to what he is willing to cook (chicken and beef, with an occasional pork rib), and how he is willing to cook it (well done only thankyouverymuch).

This Father’s Day, I thought it might be nice to expose dad to some new “thrill of the grill” items that might inspire him to expand his horizons. So, I turned to the internet and found some outdoor grilling recipes for salads, main dishes and dessert!

Grilled Salad Recipes

  • Grilled Romaine Lettuce Salad – I have never thought to grill lettuce. I’m not sure I’m sold on this one, but there is bacon and blue cheese involved so that might help convince me.
  • Grilled Potato Salad – I’ll bet the smoky char on the potatoes would add a nice flavor to this potato salad. This recipe also contains bacon, making dads everywhere very happy.
  • Grilled Avocado with Cherry Tomatoes – While I suppose this isn’t technically a salad, it’s is a nice meal starter. And me-oh, my-oh, grilled avocados sound wonderful.

Grilled Main Dish Recipes

Grilled Dessert Recipes

Do you like outdoor grilling? What have you tried?

Soap making secrets: The benefits of castor oil

Before I started making soap, the only things I knew about castor oil came from The Little Rascals. From what I could gather, it smells bad, tastes bad and is given to unfortunate children for no other reason than to torture them. Then I started researching the science of soap making and learned about the benefits of castor oil.

Castor oil comes from pressing the seeds of the castor oil plant. When ingested, castor oil is a strong laxative. (No wonder Spanky didn’t want to take it.) It’s also used externally to stimulate hair growth or to make hair thicker. As someone who has had baby fine hair my entire life, this benefit is of particular interest to me. The good folks over at Healthy and Natural World have some great tips for using castor on your hair.

I use castor oil in several of my soaps. Not only is it moisturizing and wonderful for your skin, it also helps boost the lather generated from coconut oil, making it creamy and long lasting. When I received my first shipment of castor oil, I was happy to find out that it doesn’t smell at all.

Interested in trying soap made with castor oil? Jump over to the Emmet Street Creations Etsy store and give Fresh Rain a try.