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“You must have a machine to do that…”

Neatly wrapped soap bars

…is something I hear fairly often when I’m out at fairs and markets. Unfortunately, no, I don’t have a machine to do that. I wrap every bar myself, by hand. “But it’s so neat!” they say. Well, that’s because I’m weirdly obsessive about some things. I wish the rest of my life was this orderly.

Soap wrapping in progress

In all seriousness though, I wish I did have a machine to do this. Wrapping is one of the most boring and time-consuming parts of the job. But it’s arguably one of the most important, too. Because if it doesn’t look good, people won’t stop to look, and smell, and browse what’s available, and ask questions

But, boring as it is, it doesn’t take an awful lot of brain power, so I can listen to a podcast or something interesting or funny, and that passes the time quite nicely.

Incidentally, this is Manannan, my sea breeze scented soap – available to purchase HERE

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Royal Show 2019 and Other Soggy Adventures

Well, it’s Summer, apparently, but the weather has not been kind. Don’t get me wrong, we have had some lovely hot, sunny days, but just not when I’ve been trading outdoors.

During TT I traded at three outdoor events – it poured down at two of them. The third was so windy that I couldn’t put my canopy up, and traded just from a table top. A seagull swooped down and stole a bar of soap, and flew off with it.

I had a good day at the Southern Show, but when we went back for the second day, the wind had been busy overnight, and had blown the canopies over. We got it all back in order, and thankfully there was no damage, but I was soaked through to my skin by 9.30am. I went home.

Which brings me to the Royal Show, which was scheduled for Friday and Saturday (yesterday). The rain was very heavy and set in for the day, so the show was cancelled on Friday, but had improved enough that Saturday went ahead. It was lovely to see how many people got their wellies on and came out to support the event – and even a few who had come out without wellies! The field did get pretty muddy, but it wasn’t quite up to Glastonbury levels, and people just got on with it and enjoyed the day. As did the many dogs I saw – there were some spectacularly filthy ones!

I must offer my thanks to the show organisers, it can’t be easy putting on an event of that scale, even when everything runs smoothly, so I can’t begin to imagine what it must take to manage when the weather is so…. Uncooperative. (I won’t say “bad” – there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes.) Thanks also to my fellow traders, both in the Isle of Man Farmers Market area, and further out in the field – there’s a real camaraderie that develops when you get to know the other traders, and it’s so nice to have friends nearby who’ll keep an eye o your stall when you have to leave to nip to the loo, or get a bacon bap. Thank you to my customers, lovely to see some familiar faces, and chat to some new ones. And finally, thanks to the volunteers helping direct the traffic leaving the field at the end of the day. They literally kept the vehicles moving when one after another (including me) got stuck in the mud. The two lads dived behind any vehicle that looked like it might be struggling, and gave it a good shove to keep it going.

Well done guys, awesome job.

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Guess how many?

This is going to be a quick one, as I’m exhausted, but just wanted to quickly jump on and let you know I’m running a little competition on my facebook page. Guess how many bars of soap I made in March, and the person who guesses closest will win a free bar. Comment on the facebook post, here:

I’ll give this a couple of days for people to enter, and I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday. Again, comment on the Fb post, not here!

Laters, potaters!

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Wedding Favours

Wedding Favours

I’m so happy that I can finally share these with you, as I’m delighted with how they came out! One of the things keeping me busy in January was an order of wedding favours. The wedding was to have a strong Manx theme, and the names of the soaps were reflected in the table names at the wedding reception, so all the guests who were seated at the Manannan table received the Manannan (sea breeze scented) soap, and so on.

Small triskele soap
Small triskele soap wedding favours

The small triskele shape is fitting, as it’s reminiscent of the Triskelion (the three legs) that appears on the Isle of Man flag. It’s also a nod to the Celtic heritage of the island, and in addition to all of that, it’s just a really pretty shape.

I’m so honoured to have been a tiny part of the couple’s day, it was a privilege to have been involved.

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My first soap

Slightly weird, scented but not scented

I came across this image the other day, whilst looking for material for the #marchmeetthemaker Instagram challenge. The prompt was “how you started.” For me, it was seeing a friend’s pictures of soap she had made with her son, for his school chemistry project. (She hand-dyes yarn, it’s absolutely gorgeous! Check her work out here:

Anyway, I thought it looked like fun, so I had a go. I chose my ingredients based on what I already had in the house, aside from a couple of bits I could pick up down the road for less than a fiver. So it was largely vegetable oil, which takes ages to come to trace, and I didn’t have a stick blender, so I was stirring for literally hours. I chose to fragrance it with orange essential oil – which I later found out is notorious for not surviving in cold process soap. So after four weeks, I had a completely fragrance free block of scented soap, that was a slightly weird consistency, but once I started using it, and realised how much better for my skin it was, I was hooked! That’s when I started choosing ingredients a bit more carefully, and researching the different properties they would bring to the soap.

The rest is history really, I still dabble with new ingredients and recipes from time to time, and I’m currently testing a few new fragrances, so watch this space to see what’s coming.