Friday, February 15, 2013

Soap Cupcake Giveaway!!

Enter to win a Dark Chocolate soap cupcake on my Facebook page. All you have to do is go to the giveaway page and either friend Ladybug Soapworks on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or tweet about the giveaway. Or you can do all 3 and get entered into the giveaway 3 times!!! Easy peasy, right?!

You can win one of these babies!

*This giveaway is in no way affiliated, administered or endorsed by Facebook. Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, February 20th. Winner will be notified by email by 2/22/2013 and will need to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. Giveaway open only to people in the USA (sorry)!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and well known essential oils. It is generally known to calm and relax the body to the point that it is often used to promote sleep. Did you know that it is also antibacterial and helps burns to heal faster and without scaring? Lavender oil is also one of the safest essential oils and can be used to treat children’s minor cuts and scrapes. Many essential oils are not safe to use on children.

© Beisea | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Lavender essential oil comes from over 20 different species and they can be grouped into 3 main varieties. 

1.   True lavender. Lavandula angustifolia, L. officinalis, and L. vera are commonly known as common lavender or English lavender. These plants feature narrow leaves, short, crooked stems, and barrel-shaped flowers. The flower gives off a sweet, floral scent that sooths, calms, and relaxes.

2.   Spike lavender essential oil. L. spica and L. latifolia are coarser plants, with broader leaves than true lavender (L. officinalis). While these varieties yields up to three times the amount of essential oil as true lavender, the scent is less highly prized. The oil from spike lavender flowers is more akin to a combination of eucalyptus and lavender. 

3.   Lavandin essential oil.L. hybrida is a sterile hybrid plant that results from the cross-pollination of English lavender and spike lavender. This oil is more camphorous than L. angustifolia and has similar, but less pronounced, therapeutic properties. It can be included in formulations intended for pain relief or disinfection. Compared to true lavender plants, these plants have larger leaves, longer stems, and larger flowers that are pointed at the tip. Lavandin produces more oil than true lavender; however, the scent is quite different from true lavender. Lavandin tends to have a woody scent with a hint of a spicy-green, camphor aroma. While Lavandin does have therapeutic properties, it is not be used as a substitute for true lavender since the therapeutic properties differ. 

Lavender Oil is often the first essential oil that is used to help recover from burns. Here is an interesting tidbit: This amazing property of lavender essential oil was first discovered by René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1910. The following is a tale traditionally told about his discovery:

“In 1910 French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the virtues of the essential oil of lavender. Gattefossé badly burned his hand during an experiment in a perfumery plant and plunged his hand into the nearest tub of liquid, which just happened to be lavender essential oil. He was later amazed at how quickly his burn healed and with very little scarring. This started a fascination with essential oils and inspired him to experiment with them during the First World War on soldiers in the military hospitals.”

While there is some truth to this tale, the real story as told by Gattefossé himself, in his book Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales (buy here translated into English), states:

“The external application of small quantities of esences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).”

Ladybug Soapworks Lavender Soap

Ladybug Soapworks uses lavender essential oil in our lavender soap, lavender bath salts, lavender roll-on perfume oil, and lavender bath oil. Try some of these products to experience the calming and relaxing properties of lavender oil.

For more information see:  - Great website with lots of information on essential oils. Good site with the true story of how René-Maurice Gattefossé found the burn healing properties of lavender.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 5 Cleaning Tip Links

    My unemployment time has been filled with trying to my business in gear, cleaning, painting trim in my house, and cooking! So you will see a lot of this coming into my posts. This weeks "Top 5" list is filled with cleaning tips that I have come across recently and just love.
    1. Rain-x to keep glass shower door soap scrum free! This might also be great to do on the out side of windows. here
    2. Spring cleaning tips at a bowl full of lemons. It is almost time to start thinking about this!
    3. Non-toxic bathroom cleaning plus links to recipes for making many of your own cleaning solutions at Chiot's Run.
    4. I have been trying to get a lot of house painting done before I have to go back to working full-time and cleaning my paint brushes is always a dreaded pain. So this tip from the Creek Line House titled "the Easiest, Laziest Way to Clean Your Paintbrushes" should help!
    5. Green cleaning tips using common household items over at

    PS. Don't forget to clean the pets!

    Okay, I just thought this was too cute and I needed to post it! Meow

      Monday, February 11, 2013

      The most beautiful flower treasury

      My Geranium rose soap has been featured in a beautiful Etsy treasury. Check it out below or here. If you like it, you can comment on the link and it may get to the front page of Etsy! You can pick up some of this pretty soap here. I love having people select my products to go into their treasuries and I feel like they all turn out so beautiful. Have you made a treasury on Etsy? I still have not, but I probably should try to put one together someday.


      Saturday, February 9, 2013

      Nemo Attacks! Snow Overload!

      Well, the Blizzard Nemo has come and gone and left about 3 ft of snow behind. We have drifts over 6 ft tall and no place to put the snow from our drive way. We spend hours shoveling the sidewalks (note to self never buy a corner lot house again as you have twice as much sidewalk to shovel!) and still need to figure out how to do the driveway. Our road still is not plowed and may not be plowed until tomorrow.  Pretty crazy! Here are some pictures for you all! Enjoy!

      Snow Angel!

      We have walls leading up to the house.

      Dylan action shot.

      The only reason you can tell there is a road here is cause the stop sign!

      Maybe I should make some soap with the snow! Like a wintery peppermint....

      Thursday, February 7, 2013

      Ingredient Spotlight: Neem oil

      If you don't know anything about Neem oil, I can assure you that the first time you encounter the oil it will make a strong impression. Strong in the sense that it has a very powerful odor! Boy does this oil stink! If you can get past the smell though, Neem has some wonderful properties and has been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine for over 2000 years! In India, the tree is often referred to as the "Sacred Tree" and the "Panacea for all diseases". Obviously, this tree has made a huge impact on their culture. Neem oil is a liquid vegetable oil that is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is originally from India.

      Neem tree with fruit.

      Neem oil or a tea made from the leaves can be drunk, but it has a bitter taste, which is often a signal of medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, Neem is used as a blood purifier and is also heavily used to treat skin disease and irritations, fever. Small twigs were traditionally used to clean teeth like a toothbrush.

      Neem is also known to be an all natural pesticide and can be simply sprayed on plants that need protection from pests, but is not harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms, and if not sprayed directly on their food source, butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs.

      I use Neem oil in my sensitive skin soap that I have specifically formulated to be gentle irritated skin. This soap works great for me when I have eczema flair-ups.

      Have you encountered Neem oil?  What do you think of it?

      Tuesday, February 5, 2013

      Lentil and brown rice casserole recipe

      Since I have not been working outside of my home for the past month, I have been spending more time cooking dinners. This next recipe is a modification from a recipe in the Vegetarian cookbook pictured below.

      The inspiration!
      1 1/4 cup red lentils
      1 cup brown rice
      6 cups vegetable broth 
      3 cloves of garlic
      3 small leeks
      1 red bell pepper
      1/2 can baby corn
      about 4 oz fresh green beans 
      head of broccoli florets
      28 oz can of diced tomatoes

      1. Add the lentils, rice, and vegetable broth to a large pot. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.

      2. Cut the vegetables up into small to medium sized pieces.

      Sliced and diced!

      3. Add the cut vegetables, spices, and canned tomato to the pot and boil for abut 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

      4. Garnish with some fresh basil and serve it up! It will continue to thicken over time.  Mine started out like a soup and ended up being a thick casserole.

      Now I found that once it becomes really thick that it tastes nice if you shred some cheese on the top and mix it in.  But then again there isn't much that I don't like when covered in cheese!

      Monday, February 4, 2013

      Bulk Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

      I mentioned in my last post that I had plans to mix up some bulk pancake mix. I tend to eat only whole wheat products and most whole wheat pancakes tend to be hard and thin. I found this great recipe in the Martha Stewart magazine (see original here) a few years ago and have been making it since as my only pancake recipe. It produces nice, fluffy pancakes that are thick, soft, and delicious. The wheat germ just helps to round out the flavor perfectly.

      1.25 cups Whole wheat flour
      0.25 cups Wheat germ
      2 Tbsp Sugar
      1.5 tsp Baking powder
      0.5 tsp Baking soda
      1 tsp Salt

      1.5 cups Buttermilk
      0.25 cups Vegetable oil
      2 Eggs, lightly beaten

      Combine and mix dry ingredients.
      Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix.
      All to rest for 10 minutes.
      Cook on griddle.

      For the bulk batch that I made, I multiplied the dry ingredient volumes by 5 and mixed them together. I then placed the mixed dry ingredients into a storage container. When I go to make pancakes next, all I have to do is measure out 1.5 cups and 3 tbsp of the dry mix and add to it the wet ingredients as listed above. This might make it quick enough that I get back into making them every Sunday! If you are like me and never have buttermilk, you can easily substitute any type of cow's milk (skim-whole) with a bit of lemon or lime juice added. If you make this with low-fat buttermilk the calories, fat, etc should be correct in the photo below.


      Saturday, February 2, 2013

      My 5 favorite links of the week

      I am spending way too much time on Pinterest, but I am finding so many great projects to do on everyone's boards! I think all of these links come from Pinterest finds. So here is my list of top five links for the week. 
      1. Homemade baking mixes at Fake-it-frugal. I plan to make these plus a bulk pancake mix and homemade instant oatmeal! This will save money and time!
      2. Make your own microwave popcorn at Frugal Living NW. I spend way too much money on microwave popcorn.
      3. Homemade pizza crust at Annies eats. I want to make up a big batch of this and freeze it to have on hand for quick dinners.
      4. Homemade chocolate sauce at Small notebook. This looks like it would be good on ice cream and in alcoholic drinks as well as to make chocolate milk.
      5. Make your own instant oatmeal at Amy Loves Her Life. I plan to make this and store it in a jar instead of individual bags. I will probably modify it a bit to cut down on the sugar and replace some with stevia (I think they have a brown sugar version!). I'll let you know what I come up with!
      Picture from

      As you can see my mind must be on food! I will be going back to work soon and I really want to get the kitchen prepped for quick homemade dinners. I have really enjoyed cooking good food while I have been at home, but once I start working again it will be hard to find the time. So, I am hoping to stock up my pantry and freezer with prepared or quick to prepare foods so I can continue to eat well!

      Thursday, January 31, 2013

      Custom soap orders for weddings or showers

      Planning a wedding or a baby shower and need small gifts for your guests? Did you know that you can order custom soaps from Ladybug Soapworks? You choose the scent, color, and shape and I do the rest! Beautiful, moisturizing handmade soap a great way to give your guests a special treat that will not clutter their house or add pounds to their hips! If you are interested in setting up an order contact me at

      Ladybug Shaped Soap
      As you can see from the pictures, I can make soap in different style molds or in the regular rectangle shape. Wouldn't the little animals just be perfect for baby shower gifts!?! I can also make heart shaped soap which is a great shape for wedding and bridal showers gifts. It gets even better though, all custom orders over $50 get 10% off and orders over $100 get 20% off! This is a great savings.

      More Animals!

      Wednesday, January 30, 2013

      Mochacchino Butter Sugar Scrub Tutorial

      Need an extra boost to wake you up in the morning? This Mochacchino sugar scrub should do the trick. I like to scent mine with a mix of coffee, vanilla, and chocolate fragrance, but the butter already has a delicious scent so you could really just eliminate the added fragrance.

      2 oz Mochacchino butter
      2 oz sweet almond oil
      1 cup Demerara sugar
      1/8 cup ground coffee
      25-30 drops of fragrance or essential oil 

      1. Weigh out the Mochacchino butter and melt in the microwave.
      2. Weigh out the sweet almond oil and add it to the melted butter.
      Melted butter and oil
      3. Add the sugar and coffee grounds to the melted oils and stir.
      4. Add fragrance to the mixture and stir.

      Mixing up the sugar and oils
       5. Package it in a pretty container and then rush off to the shower for a nice scrub down!
      Pretty and packaged
      You may find that this needs more or less liquid oil depending on your taste. I would let the mixture cool to room temp and then modify it if needed.

      Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

      Tuesday, January 29, 2013

      Ingredient Spotlight: Shea Butter

      Shea butter is one of my favorite ingredients to use in soap. It comes from the nut of the African Shea (Karite) tree (Vitellaria paradoxa (also known as Butyrospermum parkii)). It is typically a yellowish or ivory color, but can be refined to remove the nutty scent and color leaving it pretty much pure white. I find that the the raw unrefined butter is great when used in soapmaking, but if you are wanting to make a lotion or whipped Shea butter, the white refined version tends to suit that purpose better.
      Shea Butter and Shea Nuts
      Shea butter is mainly used in the cosmetic/body care industry though it is also used as a cooking oil in some African countries. You will find Shea butter as an ingredient in many products such as lotions, creams, salves, lip balm, soap, and hair conditioners. Shea butter is made of a variety of fatty acid components and many unsaponifiable (they do not react with the alkali (sodium hydroxide) and will not become soap) components. This results in soap that is more moisturizing. Shea butter melts upon contact with our bodies and is highly emollient. It has been traditionally used to reduce the appearance of scars, stretch marks and skin discolorations and sooth skin irritations like eczema, psoriasis, and sunburn.  The unsaponifiable components are also thought to protect the skin against sun damage by absorbing the ultraviolet radiation. Another great fact about Shea butter is that it has a long shelf life and can easily last 1-2 years or more when stored in a cool, dry location. This means I can buy it in bulk to keep costs down and then include it in almost all of my soap! Only my Castile soap, shampoo soaps, and salt soap bars are formulated without Shea butter.

      Want to know more? Check out this great page of information on Shea butter over at the National Geographic website.

      Monday, January 28, 2013

      Ladybug Soapworks blog now available on Kindle!

      I am so excited to announce that the Ladybug Soapworks blog is now available on the Kindle store for a monthly subscription cost of $0.99. This allows you to read my blog even when you are not connected to the internet. This is also a great way for you to take my recipes and tutorials with you into your kitchen or soap "lab" and have them easily accessible without printing them out and wasting paper. Want to sign up?  Click here.

      Sunday, January 27, 2013

      Indian Samosa Casserole

      If you know me, then you know I LOVE Indian food.  If I could, I would eat it every night! So when I came across this recipe for a Samosa casserole, I just had to make it! The recipe below is based off of the one on the vegetarian times website (see it here). I have modified a few things in my recipe to suit my tastes, but you may prefer to use the original.

      Indian Samosa Casserole Recipe

      • ½ cup all-purpose flour
      • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
      • ¼ tsp. salt
      • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
      • 2 Tbs. yellow mustard seeds
      • 2 tsp. curry powder
      • 2 tsp. ground ginger
      • 1 tsp. ground cumin
      • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
      • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (1 ¼ lb.)--I used closer to 2 lbs
      • 1 ½ tsp. vegetable oil
      • 1 large onion, diced (~1.5 cup)
      • 1 large carrot, diced (~1 cup)
      • 3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
      • 1 cup frozen peas
      • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
      • 2 tsp. agave nectar or sugar
      • 2 Tbsp milk

      1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. Whisk together flours and salt in bowl. Stir in oil and then add 6 to 10 Tbsp cold water  until dough holds together. Shape into ball, cover with damp towel, and set aside.
      Crust dough
      2. To make filling: Stir together mustard seeds, curry, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.

       3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, return to pot, and mash, leaving small chunks.
      Potatoes mashed
      4. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic, and sauté 5 minutes, or until carrot is tender. Move onion mixture to side of pan, and add mustard seed mixture in center. Toast for about 30 seconds.

      Toasting seasoning

      5. Stir in frozen peas and broth. Fold onion mixture into potato mixture; stir in agave nectar or sugar and season with salt and pepper to taste.
      Mixing the onions, carrots, and pea mixture into the mashed potatoes.
       6. Spread filling into a 9-inch pie pan and set aside.

      Filling spread in pie pan
      7. Roll out crust dough to 11-inch circle on a lightly floured work surface. Cover filling with dough and crimp edges with fingers. Cut X in center to vent steam and lightly brush with milk just before baking.

      Filling covered with crust dough.
      8. Place pie on baking sheet to catch any potential bubbling over and bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

      Cooked until the crust was golden brown
       9. I topped it with a tamarind-date sauce I bought from an Indian grocery store.  Yum!

      Let me know if you make this and how it turned out!

      Saturday, January 26, 2013

      Sweet treats for your Valentine

      Looking for something great for that special person in your life? Ladybug Soapworks has an assortment of products that would make anyone happy. To find the items in the picture below, go here for the cupcake soaps, the bath melts here, the bath salts here, and the geranium rose soap can be purchased here. Order soon as Valentine's day is in only 20 days! 

      If you prefer, you can find all the same items listed at my etsy store here. Be sure to friend me on Twitter and get a 15% off discount for use on either site!

      Friday, January 25, 2013

      Soaps, Drugs, & Rock and Roll

      I have to admit that this is really old news, but I am sure that most people have not heard this story and I wanted to share this great video. The video below explains how real soap tests positive (false-positive that is!) for the date rape drug. This is simply a problem with the drug testing kit, but it turns out to be a great way to find out if what you are using is indeed real soap and not a mixture of synthetic detergents. Their are many cases of products being mislabeled and claiming to be soap when they are in fact detergent. While this test is a pretty cool trick for us soapmakers, I am sure most people will not want to check their soap with a drug kit to determine if it is really soap. An easier way to determine what is in your product is to look at the labels. Be on the look out for "soaps" that have Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Lauryl Sulfate, Ammonium Laureth Sulfate, or Cocomidopropyl Betaine as these are all common detergents used in soap-like products. On the other hand, if the label lists oils and sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide as the ingredients, then you have real soap. I should note that real soap and detergent products can be found in both solid (bar) and liquid forms.

      Check out the video below and at the very end you will see a list of companies that are falsely advertizing their product as soap. As a consumer, you should be able to make an educated choice about what products you are putting on your body.

      Thursday, January 24, 2013

      Geranium rose bath (oil) melts tutorial

      Bath melts are a wonderful way to to add scent and skin nourishing oils to your bath. They are essentially bath oils made up in a solid form. All you have to do is drop 1 or 2 of them into a nice, warm bath and they will melt dispersing the oils and scent into the bath water. The melts pictured below are made from a combination of cocoa butter, shea butter, and sweet almond oil. The are scented with a Geranium Rose essential oil and topped off with some red and iridescent glitter, because sparkles make everything better!

      Geranium Rose Bath Melts

      A simple recipe to make your own bath melts is given below.
      1. Melt 1 part cocoa butter and 1 part shea butter in the microwave.
      2. Add to the melted butters 1 part liquid oil.
      3. If needed, let the oils cool to below 120 degrees F and then add your fragrance (1-3% for fragrance oils and 1-2% for essential oils).
      4. Mix and pour into small molds (about 1 oz mold size is good)
      5. Allow to cool and harden either at room temperature or for a faster cooling place in your fridge until solid.

      If all these "parts" are confusing, here is an example using oz.
      1 oz cocoa butter
      1 oz shea butter
      1 oz liquid oil (sweet almond, hazelnut, hemp oil, or pretty much any other liquid oil would be fine).
      17 (1%)-50 (3%) drops of fragrance

      You may want to play with the ratio of hard oils (butters) to liquid oil to find what looks and feels best to you.

      Wednesday, January 23, 2013

      Tutorial: Calendula Salve

      Calendula (Calendula officinalis) commonly known as pot marigold has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has traditionally been used for treating sunburn, cuts, insect bites and stings, acne, soothing sore or inflamed muscles, diaper rashes, and other skin irritations.

      Using one of the methods I explained in this previous blog post, prepare some Calendula flower infused oil. I prefer to use Olive oil for this recipe. You may also add Lavender essential oil to this salve to give it a soothing, sedative effect. Lavender is known to relax muscles, calm anxiety and promote sleep. It is also antiseptic and can be used on cleaned cuts and bruises to minimize scarring and relieve skin irritation. Lavender and Calendula really complement each other in a healing salve.
      Calendula Flower
      © Lessadar | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
      3.5 oz Calendula flower infused herbal oil
      ½ oz Beeswax (small pellets will be easiest to work with)
      20 drops Lavender essential oil (optional)

      Melt beeswax in the Calendula infused oil over a double boiler until melted. Beeswax melts at 144 to 147 °F (62 to 64 °C). Remove from the stove. Once the temperature has reached 120 °F, stir in the Lavender essential oil. Pour into clean (sterile preferred) tins or glass jars. Allow to cool thoroughly before using or placing caps on the jars. This salve should last 1-2 years if kept free of water.

      Tuesday, January 22, 2013

      Chocolate Coconut Sugar Scrub

      I have been working on some sugar scrubs this week and I have made some that I think are unique. One of my favorites is the chocolate coconut sugar scrub. It is made from unrefined coconut oil (retains the lovely coconut scent), sweet almond oil, demerara sugar, and a bit of chocolate fragrance oil. This is such a yummy scent, it reminds me of a candy bar! I love that I was able to get half of the scent from the coconut oil. This helps to keep the product even more natural by eliminating some of the fragrance oil.

      Getting the ingredients out.
       I first measured out the oil and sugar. The coconut oil was then gently melted in the microwave.
      Mixing the scrub
       The sugar was added to the oils and mixed. Then the fragrance was added and mixed into the scrub.
      In it's pretty little container
      I packaged the scrub into cute 8 oz containers. No preservative is needed in this scrub as it does not have any water in it. Since the scrub will be used in the shower, you may want to scoop a bit out with a clean spoon instead of your fingers to keep out the water and any germs on your hands.
      It looks delicious!
      Since this is not an emulsified scrub, it will leave your skin smooth and moisturized. Scrub made from oil may leave your tub a little slippery, so you need to be cautious when getting out of the tub.