Sunday, March 30, 2008

I was tagged by BackwoodSophisticate (who makes awesome cards!) with Seven Random Facts so here goes!Here are the rules:
1. Link your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

OK... seven random facts.... here goes: This is from Erin this time

1. I like watching kids shows with my kids.

2. My favorite movie is The Craft.

3. I sing in the shower.

4. I play with brats dolls with my daughter.

5. I can't eat breakfast.

6. I never buy things for myself.

7. My favorite thing in the world is to watch my husband when he is working on things...

StumpJack Coffee Company

1337 Art

Butterfly Chic Boutique

RiverCityBeads

The Downtown Boutique

Oh, I Love That!

A needle in the haystack

Contest Time!!!

Congratulations to toystory for answering all 5 languages correctly!!!

Thank you to everyone who played.


This contest is going to be a bit different.

Our next one will be a lot simpler, but we wanted to try something fun.

We’re going to play a game with the bottles from the last post and a few other related cans and bottles we have.This may be a bit tricky, so take your time if you need to.

Can you identify the languages on 5 these bottles and cans? Leave a comment with your answers / guesses for a chance to win.

From now until Saturday, April 5th leave a comment on this post with a list of your answers.

On Sunday, April 6th we will review the comments. The first person's comment to get them all right (or the person with the most correct) will win a nice selection of soap seconds.

We call them soap seconds because they are soaps that didn’t meet the look we wanted to be able to sell them. They are still GREAT soaps!!!

These soaps will be a mix of scents but you will get just over a full pound of soap.

Click on the images if you would like to see them bigger.




Picture #1










Picture #2









<--- Picture #3 (has two pictures) --->









Picture #4

Hint: Be specific.









<--- Picture #5 (has two as well) --->




As a bonus, if the winner correctly names all of the languages as well as the country of origin of all the bottles and cans we will include a $10 gift certificate to our store at http://www.crazytimescandles.com.

A few of these are tough as several countries use the same languages, but we know where they came from.

Our next contest will be much simpler, but this looked like fun!

Have fun, and good luck.

Dave and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday Morning Coffee

What better way is there to sit and read blogs than with a nice hot cup of fresh coffee?

We really love coffee if you can’t tell. We drink it constantly!

Here is our coffee selection for this week. Three great organic fair trade coffees roasted here in Wisconsin!


Alterra Coffee – Organic Second Harvest Blend – http://www.alterracoffee.com/

Café Fair - Café Fair Blend (their Vanilla is excellent as well) - http://www.cafefair.com/

Steep & Brew – Costa Rican Tarrazu - http://www.steepnbrew.com

Are you curious about the bottles in the picture? Check back later today and we'll have some fun with those and a few other related items.

Thanks for stopping by and have a creative day,

Dave and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Friday, March 28, 2008

Feature - MaryMarsh

Our daughter will be 5 in June and starting school next year.

With her crazy hair we decided to get some clips and headbands to make life easier in the morning.

She now has several great sets of clips thanks to MaryMarsh at http://MaryMarsh.etsy.com.

MaryMarsh was kind enough to answer a few questions for us as well.

1. How would you describe your shop/business?

I would describe my shop as a place where fun meets functional. Not only do my products serve a purpose, but they are unique and fun as well.

2. How long have you been making hair accessories/crafting for?

I have been making hair accessories for about a year and a half now. I have been crafting practically my whole life though.

3. How did get into this line of work/hobby?

I saw some fabric button ponytail holders for sale and thought to myself how cute they were. Being the "do it yourself" kind of person I am, I figured out how to make them. Before long and with an accumulation of fabric, I decided to try to sell them. And that's when I found Etsy!

4. Where does your inspiration come from? What sorts of things inspire your work?

My inspiration comes from everywhere. Most of my ideas come from lots of careful brainstorming. It seems as though the "wheels" are always turning in my head trying to think of what new product I can come up with next. I just try to come up with products that are fun as well as useful.

My latest creation... one of a kind button key chains.

5. What is your favorite piece? Why?

Hmmmm... that's a hard one. I guess I'd have to say I'm really proud of this... http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=10260568 the two-sided keychain in "My Sweet Little Girls."

It took me a long time to perfect this keychain, and I love how it shows the front and the back profiles of the Matryoschka dolls.

6. What do you like to do when you are not crafting?

Besides thinking of new projects to work on, I am usually out shopping or on walks with my husband and our dog. I also enjoy spending time with my close friends.

7. Are your items available anywhere other than etsy?

Currently, the only place they are available is through Etsy.

Name: MaryMarsh Hayden

City, State, Country: Charleston, SC, USA

Business/Shop Name: Meeting Street Designs

Website URL: n/a

Etsy URL: http://marymarsh.etsy.com

Blog URL: http://marymarsh.blogspot.com

If you are looking for some adorable hair accessories please check out MaryMarsh's shop. You won't be dissapointed!

Thank you for reading,

David and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Old vs. New

I decided to try to something different for our blogger template.

I think this new layout is a bit nicer on the eyes and focuses more on the content of the page.

We have gotten positive comments on both however, so I thought I'd put up a poll out of curiosity.

Below is a screen shot of our old layout.

ETSY FRONT PAGE

Our Blueberry Bath Cupcake made the front page of Etsy.com overnight!!!!
Thank you riyzedesignz for placing us in your treasury, and thank you FancifulFlair for letting us know we were there!

Here is a screenshot of the page, we're on the upper right:
David and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Etsy Seller Feature - TSurfer

No more trips to the post office with the same paper grocery bag I kept reusing to carry packages in!!!

Thanks to Tsurfer I get to make the trip in style and advertise at the same time!








This tote is also great for small store runs. Another great advertising opportunity!

http://tsurfer.etsy.com/ is well worth checking out. You'll find everything from these great totes, to jewelry and hair accesories, envelopes, and more.

Plus the super fast shipping and excellent customer service and friendly communication add to the experience nicely.

Time to get back to working,

Please check back soon for more updates and possibly some posts of random craziness :)

Dave and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com/
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com/

Monday, March 24, 2008

New Soaps

This was a crazy busy weekend, but that is a good thing!

We hope everyone had a great Easter weekend. Ours involved being home as all of our parents were a bit sick this weekend. The kids still had a blast though.

We managed to get five batches of soaps made and onto the curing racks this weekend, plus get all of the weekend orders out.

In addition, we had a great time with several custom orders this weekend. One was for 72 votive candles in teal (scented Forget-Me-Not). I didn't get a picture of those before they were sent out this morning though. Slipped my mind. :(

However I did get a few pictures of a custom colored Chunk Pillar Trio set that we made this weekend.

This was so much fun to make and the colors were to match some window coverings!

The latest soaps put on the curing rack this weekend include:

A restock batch of Coconut Lime (stronger scent than the previous on this one)
A restock batch of Sweet Orange essential oil - Goat Milk Soap (this turned out better than we were expecting)!

A batch scented in a Victoria's Secret Love Spell dupe.

Our latest addition to the Salt Spa Bar line (Green Tea and Ylang Ylang) Made with iced Green Tea as the liquid and ylang ylang essential oil.

Finally, an attempt at a beer soap made with Corona. We had a few bottles sitting here that a friend left behind. ;)
Thanks again for taking the time to check us out.

Have a creative day,

Dave and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com/
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com/

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

We have several new soaps coming soon.
Here is a preview of what will be available as of this weekend.

Sandalwood

Plumeria


There are just a few more pictures to be done yet before our website updating is completed.
Also, we will be adding quite a few new items on Etsy this weekend.

Thank you for stopping by and have a great day,
Dave & ErinCrazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Monday, March 17, 2008

Today I will probably not be around as much as usual.

Our website is in need of some updating and that will take me most of the day. Don't worry though, I will be back and our website will run considerably faster.

Also, we have added a poll on the side to help make the final decisions on our lotion bottles. Currently we are looking more at one style than the others, but we were interested in your opinion as well.

Please take a moment to vote.

Thank you,

Dave and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
http://www.crazytimescandles.com
http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com

Monday, March 10, 2008

We've Been Tagged!

I was tagged by ara133Photography from Etsy (http://ara133photography.blogspot.com/) to state 7 random things about myself, so here goes!


1) We LOVE Coffee! Right now our current favorites include Café Fair, Alterra, and Stumpjack some great coffee roasted here in Wisconsin!

2) We end up moving an average of once every 18 months. Although hopefully that will slow down soon.

3) I am having difficulty thinking of 7 things right now. :)

4) We make soap for dogs even though we no longer have dogs. We just love them so much.

5) We always say we can't wait for summer to come in the middle of winter, but by the middle of summer it is "too hot". I think a nice spring 65 degrees year round would be great. :D

6) We love to help our children develop their creativity and they both enjoy beading. Cameron is getting quite good with painting (which is odd since neither of us do that).

7) I sometimes randomly sit or stand up in my sleep, start mumbling or even talking, and then lay back down. (At least that's what I've been told by Erin)

Well, now I will tag 3 other people...

ScrapTrendz (Bottle Cap Creations on Etsy)
Irisa's Business Journal (wpooh87)(Crocheting Creations & More on Etsy)
Two Bees In A Pod (AMSX05)(Wonderful Greeting Cards & Knitted Items on Etsy)

Featured Etsy Shops - AMSX05 - buttonempire

I know I've been slacking on the blog posts. Life got a little crazy for a few days and has definitely lived up to our name.

We have gotten so many great items off of Etsy lately that I wanted to share with you a few of my favorites.

First is AMSX05 from Two Bees In A Pod.

I got my first card from them shortly before Valentine's Day for my wife, Erin.

This card was amazing. I love it so much! The quality of the paper and details put into the card made it even more special than buying a handmade card instead of a store bought card would have in the first place.

I really liked the fact that the card came with it's own envelope that also had a nice handmade touch to it. There was a cute glittery heart in the corner that gave it that extra special feel. The card also came in a nice plastic bag along with a nice clear / mesh-like decorative bag with a ribbon which made the perfect holder for the other half of her Valentine's Day gift; a really nice butterfly bracelet also from Etsy.

This past week our second card from AMSX05 arrived.

This one is a Thinking of you (Friendship) card and will be perfect for whomever we decide to send this one to. I know though that it will be hard to see this card leave. I love the paper used and the blue and green color combination makes this card POP. There is a nice little rhinestone on the front as well next to a stamp in the corner reading "Thinking of you". The inside is left blank for you to write what you would like.

I know that I would love to get a card for a special occasion that looked like this, and the best part is that each of these wonderful cards were under $3 including the shipping.

You can't even go to the store and buy a card for that price. Plus you have to get dressed and go to the store. Then try to find the "perfect" card, which after an hour still doesn't happen, so you grab a bunch and sit and stare at them deciding until you finally get sick of looking at cards and just grab one.

Tell me that's not how card shopping usually goes... every time I go I see everyone else doing the same thing.

Next time you need a great card for any occasion keep Two Bees In A Pod at http://AMSX05.etsy.com in mind. You won't be disappointed.
____________________________________________________________________

Next up are a few buttons I found in a treasury a few weeks back. The second I saw them I tried to buy them, but the treasury link went to a sold item.

After searching the store full of great funny buttons I came across another set of the same buttons from buttonempire.

These buttons fit Erin and I so perfectly that I just had to make a quick mention and share them with you.



Saturday, March 8, 2008

This week we are featured on wickedlychic.com. A great resource for reviews of Indie / Home businesses.

Featured on the site was our Vanilla Bath Cupcake as well as our Ocean Breeze Salt Scrub Spa Bar.
We also sent a Coffee Sugar Scrub.






I'd also love to give a big Thank You to springcartdesigns for the advertising space on her blog Tha Hotness

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Keeping you clean since 2006

Ever wonder what soap is really made of?

Would you like to know what goes into making that great handmade soap you love?

Are you curious about the general process of soap making?

Want to know the differences between several handmade soap methods and commercial soap?

Today I am going to provide a general overview of the soap making process and a bit of what happens during this process.

A little background first. We started making candles as a hobby in 2002 and began to learn the soap making process in 2003. Once we were confident in our product and had done proper testing we started our business in December of 2006.

The soap making process does involve the use of strong chemicals and is not something to be done without proper safety equipment and not to be done around children or animals.

What is soap?

Definition: Soap is a cleansing agent made from the interaction of fats and oils with alkali.

So, what is soap made of?

Soap is made using oils, fats, and butters (animal or vegetable), water, and sodium hydroxide (lye) for solid soap or potassium hydroxide (potash) for liquid soap. The combining of the lye and water solution causes a chemical reaction known as saponification.

Oils and fats for soap are compounds of glycerin and a fatty acid. When oils are mixed with an alkali, they form glycerin and the sodium salt of the fatty acid. At Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co. we stir the glycerin back in to add to the moisturizing qualities of the final product.

The fatty acids required for soap making are supplied by tallow, grease, fish oils, and vegetable oils. The hardness, lathering qualities, and transparency of soap vary according to the combinations of fats and alkalis used as ingredients. An experienced soap crafter uses many combinations of oils.

We use high quality oils in our soaps including first cold press extra virgin olive oil and unrefined organic fair trade shea butter.

To ensure a hard, long lasting, mild bar of soap with great lather cold process soaps must sit and "cure" for 4 - 6 weeks. The wait is well worth it and the longer a soap cures, the better it becomes. I guess you could say that natural soap is like a fine wine and gets better with age.

Above: Soaps on one of our curing racks

Is glycerin good for my skin? YOU BET!

Glycerin is in fact more valuable by weight than soap. Commercial milled soaps remove their glycerin by adding salt and alcohol to their batch to separate the glycerin. Most commercially removed glycerin in turn is sold and used as a stabilizer in Food and Cosmetics production, as well as an inhibitor in cigarette paper which allows it to burn more evenly.

With glycerin removed, the end result is a soap that dries your skin! That's because glycerin, mixed with a little oil and water left in the soap, creates a hand-lotion-in-soap effect. This allows us to create a bar that cleans and removes oils, while soothing sensitive skin.

What about glycerin clear bars?

True transparent soap is made by boiling the soap base in alcohol and sugars. Heat and pressure may also be used. Pluses are a high glycerin content and mild pH. Negatives are a bar that dissolves quickly, and often contains alcohol which can dry your skin.

Propylene glycol (antifreeze) and triethanolalamine (TEA) are used to make the "melt and pour" soap base of many so called vegetable glycerin bars. Not our idea of natural.

They are often used to make your “decorative” shaped soaps.

Isn’t lye harmful?

To answer that question quite simply, yes. In its raw form lye can cause very severe burns or at least severe irritation. During the saponification process (when combined with the water and oils) the lye chemically changes as do the oils forming glycerin and the sodium salt of the fatty acid. If properly calculated, there will be no remaining lye and therefore no harsh chemicals remaining. We use 5% extra oils compared to what the lye needs to fully change ensuring a mild bar plus leaving some unchanged oils and butters to act as an extra moisturizer. This is known as “superfatting”.

If you back a ways in time you may remember your grandmother or mother made “lye soap” at home. Back then the soap was often made using lard or bacon grease and the lye was guessed. This soap could often be harsh on your skin and may have even left you red and itchy. That is because the amount of lye was not properly measured to match the SAP (saponification values) of the oils and fats used. Each oil and fat has its own value of how much lye (sodium hydroxide) is needed to ensure a mild soap. At Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co. we measure all of our oils, butters, and lye to 0.00 oz. (one hundredth of an ounce).

The saponification process is complete in about 3 days at which point the lye and oils have finished their chemical combination. You "could" use the soap at this point, but it wouldn't be very mild and the bar would be very soft and used up quickly. That is the reasoning behind allowing soaps to "cure". Curing is a 4 - 6 week process where the bars sit on a shelf and "dry out" evaporating off the excess water used to mix the lye and oils. The end result is a hard mild bar with great lather that leaves you skin clean and smooth.

How can using something made from oils and greasy butters and fats get me clean?

Most soap removes grease and dirt because some of their components are surfactants (surface-active agents). Surfactants have a molecular structure that acts as a link between water and the dirt particles. This loosens the particles from the underlying fibers or surfaces to be cleaned. One end of the molecule is hydrophilic (attracted to water), and the other is hydrophobic (attracted to substances that are not water soluble). This peculiar structure allows soap to adhere to substances that are otherwise insoluble in water. The dirt is then washed away with the soap.

Here is a more in-depth explanation of the chemistry involved from chemistry.about.com:

Each soap molecule has a long hydrocarbon chain, sometimes called its 'tail', with a carboxylate 'head'. In water, the sodium or potassium ions float free, leaving a negatively-charged head.

Soap is an excellent cleanser because of its ability to act as an emulsifying agent. An emulsifier is capable of dispersing one liquid into another immiscible liquid. This means that while oil (which attracts dirt) doesn't naturally mix with water, soap can suspend oil/dirt in such a way that it can be removed.

The organic part of a natural soap is a negatively-charged, polar molecule. Its hydrophilic (water-loving) carboxylate group (-CO2) interacts with water molecules via ion-dipole interactions and hydrogen bonding. The hydrophobic (water-fearing) part of a soap molecule, its long, nonpolar hydrocarbon chain, does not interact with water molecules. The hydrocarbon chains are attracted to each other by dispersion forces and cluster together, forming structures called micelles. In these micelles, the carboxylate groups form a negatively-charged spherical surface, with the hydrocarbon chains inside the sphere. Because they are negatively charged, soap micelles repel each other and remain dispersed in water.

diagram of soap micelle

Grease and oil are nonpolar and insoluble in water. When soap and soiling oils are mixed, the nonpolar hydrocarbon portion of the micelles break up the nonpolar oil molecules. A different type of micelle then forms, with nonpolar soiling molecules in the center. Thus, grease and oil and the 'dirt' attached to them are caught inside the micelle and can be rinsed away.”

Thank you for reading. We hope you enjoyed the article.

Please check back tomorrow for our featured Etsy artist article and stay tuned because next week we are planning to have more detailed pictures of the soap making process as well as hopefully some video for you.

David and Erin Powell
Crazy Times Candle & Bath Co.
website: http://www.crazytimescandles.com
Etsy: http://crazytimescandles.etsy.com