Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bath Bomb Update - oops!!!

 I've been putting off writing my update on my bath bomb creation and testing for today because I'm a little embarrassed.  My bath bomb creation is still going very well, but I am embarrased to say that I slacked a bit in the testing.  I was supposed to test the last batch before bed last night, but instead fell asleep while reading about perfume formula creation online.  The lights were on, the tv blaring, and I was surrounded by my notes, but still managed to doze off into oblivion for the entire night!  I woke up early this morning scolding my self.  I mean, it isn't as if taking a glorious relaxing bath at the end of the day is a challenge right?!?!  Of all the parts of this I anticipated trouble with... testing my bombs in the tub was the least of my worries!  So, batch #3 will have to wait until this evening for testing.  You see, in order to properly test the scent concentration, I must also shower every morning to remove any lingering scent (from both me and the bathtub) from the previous night.  That's right folks... I shower every morning now and bathe every night... I am probably the cleanest person on the planet at the moment... lol!  I am a little concerned about the enormous amount of water I am using, but that can't be helped during the creation phase of this so I will just have to find other ways to conserve and be kind to the planet.

Ok... I feel better having admitted my laziness and am off to remedy the situation by working extra hard today.  I'll let you know how batch #3 does in the tub test tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bath bombs - 3rd attempt! My room smells lovely!

I have just finished my 3rd attempt at creating the perfect bath bomb and I feel perfection within my grasp.  The tub test on batch 2 last night went well, except for the glitter... yikes!!!  I got into the lightly green tinted tub with the subtle scent of lavender hanging in the air.  I felt the oil and salts nourishing and softeneing my skin, and then I looked down and realized I was sparkling in the candlelight!  The good news is that the scent was not too stong, the tub had no "ring" or stain, and the bomb took it's time to fizz (even though it was not thoroughly dried yet).  The bad news was fully discovered when I drove my daughter to school in the sunlight this morning and heard her exclaim, "OMG Mom!  You look like a Smurf vampire!!!"  You see, I used a blue glitter in the bombs and it was all over my skin... even my face, although I never touched my face with the bath water.  When I got home from school drop off I took a shower and all the glitter washed down the drain without incident, but people should not have to shower after a luxurious bath!

Enter batch number 3... this morning I made a few minor adjustments and an essential oil blend that I've used for years.  I dialed down the glitter content significantly... no more blue Smurf vampire for me. :)  I fixed the moisture problem I had last night (which affects the molding process, not the finished bomb) and I think I've gotten it right this time.  I tried a powdered colorant this time and I'm not crazy about the lack of color, but that is easily changed back to the liquid variety for the next batch.  The molded bombs are holding up very well as they dry and I am enjoying the glorious scent coming off them.  I can't wait for product testing time (aka bath time) tonight.  I may have to partner with a candle making company at some point... all this product testing is eating away at my stash of bathroom candles very quickly.  Thank goodness I have rechargable batteries for the waterproof iPod speaker!  I'll have to pop over to iTunes and download some new bath tunes so I don't get bored with the same music all the time.  Well, off to get some much needed stuff done around the house.  I will let you know how my test turn out tomorrow.

Is anyone else getting anxious to try one of these beautiful bombs anytime soon?!?!

Bath bombs - 2nd attempt

After a lot of research, a lot of tinkering, and a lot of patience... and a little shopping of course... I think I have created a bath bomb much closer to what I am looking for.  I used mostly organic ingredients and pure essential oils this time... lavender by itself for experimenting, since I know I can handle an overwhelming amout of the scent if I happen to get it wrong. 

I spent the day scouring websites full of bath bomb recipes, scientific properties of the various chemicals involved and sites that discussed the reactions of these chemicals in different proportions.  I read through over a thousand comment on blogs of other people who have tried to make bath bombs and learned what I could from their experiences.  I then transfered all of these notes onto my Nook and made use of my waiting time while my daughter Jordan got her haircut to come up with what I deemed to be the best ingredients, a formula, and a procedure.  I then hurried to the store (while everything was fresh in my mind) and bought all the ingredients to make my bath bombs.

Tonight I created the first batch (ok... so I scaled down the recipe to make only 2) of Becky's Bath Bombs.  They turned out great so far.  I did use a bit too much water and the wetter mixture is creating a flat spot on the bombs as they dry, but that is easliy remedied and shouldn't affect their usage.  Now they should wait 24-hours (minimum) to dry and harden before using, but of course I'm an impatient inventor and must see how my creation holds up the tub test, so I am using one tonight,  Of course, the bomb will break apart quicker since it is not dry, but I should be able to determine tub tint color, fragrance levels, skin softening abilities and glitter levels (yep... I added glitter right off the bat) with one tonight.  I will save the other for a few days to see how they perform once hardened.

Tomorrow I will try again, this time focusing on my notes from tonight's bath.  I will let you all know how things turn out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not a bomb... more like a fizzle... back to the lab I go!

My first attempt at making bath bombs from a kit was a less than stellar experience.  The mixture is a pain to work with and the consistency must be absolutely perfect to get the darn things to mold properly.  Once they have been molded they are about as sturdy as a handful of sand and must be specially treated on all sides before handling them... which is hard to do without handling them!  The mixture smelled horrid, despite the sugar cookie fragrance oil that came with the kit, and got everywhere.  Lesson learned... make these in the kitchen next time!!! 

My first test of the bombs was not one of my more pleasurable bath experiences.  Once I finally got them created properly, I used one in the tub.  The bomb fizzled and dissolved before you could acutally say the words "bath bomb", leaving my bath completely underscented and a strange swirling spill of blue coloring glided across the surface of the water and sticking to the sides of my tub.  I was a little afraid to get in... thinking I might come out looking like a blotchy smurf, but after testing on a finger for a couple minutes without it turning blue, I ventured into the tub.  The bath bomb released something into the sir that made me cough throughout my bath even though I have no issues with scent.  As for the scent... I didn't even realize there was one.  While Lush bombs completely scent the room and leave a soft lingering scent on your skin, these bombs didn't even manage to scent the water.  When I got out of the tub, my skin was no softer than it was before I got into the tub and in fact felt powdery and perhaps even more dry, despite having soaked in a tub of water for over an hour.

Obviously this will never do!!!  I simply could not subject others to this completely inferior bath experience.  So... it's back to the lab... or in my case, the kitchen.  Armed with loads of research... scientific guides on the properties of the basic ingredients and what happens when they combine in certain amounts, many suggestions from other bath bomb creators, my own essential oil blends, and a host of other documents to keep me busy for hours... I will begin the difficult tinkering progress this afternoon.  A quick trip to the local store should provide all the necessary ingredients.  This is a puzzle I now feel compelled to solve.

I will not be releasing anything to anyone until I have created a bath experience as luxurious as the Lush experience.  This may take a lot more testing and experimenting than I originally thought.  Simply looking like a Lush bomb is obviously not enough.  I demand a perfect bath experience that sends the bather into another world of stress-free relaxation and inspiration.  Nothing less will suffice. 

Now... off to create...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bombs Away!!! Bath bombs... of course!

I have made no secret in my blogs of my absolute love of baths and my addiction to Lush Cosmetics bath bombs.  There is almost nothing that ends a day more perfectly than a bath, offering up just the right mood through the use of scents and color.  Well, about a week ago I stumbled upon a site where you could purchase the ingredients and equiptment to make your very own bath bombs.  I waited in breathless anticipation for the kits I ordered to arrive and now that they are here, I have decided to see just how challenging it will be to make my own bath bombs. 

You see, I have been using custom aromatherapy blends (created by me) in my baths for over 15 years.  I have come up with quite a few that are simply wonderful.  The problem is that they don't create the total bath experience in the way a bath bomb does.  A bath bomb doesn't just give you scent... it adds color, skin softening ingredients and of course the fun fizzing as it dissolves into the tub.  Plus you never have to measure anything... all the ingredients for a perfect bath are contained in one ice-cream-scoop-sized ball that you simply drop in the tub.  I've always wished there was a way to create bath bombs out of my formulas... I even thought about selling some of my formulas to Lush...  but I never dreamed there was actually a way I could create my own bath bombs.

Well, after making the first batch I can say that it is not the easiest process in the world.  The mixture is a bit tempermental and the moisture content is difficult to get right on the first try.   It's going to be hard to decide exactly how much essential oil blend to use, since the fragrance oils that came in the kit behave so much differently.  Then there's the very challenging task of figuring out how to add the honey center for my famous Cleopatra bath blend.  But, while milling over all of the apparent challenges, I have come up with some fantastic ideas.  I will be working on perfecting my formulas/mixtures, working on my molding technique and will be coming out with at least one perfected bath bomb to unveil to the world by the end of the week.  I will also be creating a website to showcase my creations, doing a lot of design work, and figuring out the pricing structure. 

During the creation process, I will actually get to take baths for "work"... how totally awesome is that?!?!?  My daughters are extemely excited... Lush bath bombs get expensive and they have not been allowed to invade my stash.  Now they will not only be allowed, but encouraged to test the bombs I'm making.  I will not be releasing anything until it is absolutely incredible... the perfectionist that resides within me simply won't allow it.  My frame of reference is the best brand on the market, so I've got quite a lofty goal, but I think I can accomplish it!

For now, here's a peek at my first attempt.  These are Sugar Cookie scented bombs from a kit I purchased from Lathers and Lotions (a company I found on Facebook).  They turned out pretty good for a first try and look almost identical to the Lush bombs.  Now I'm off to take a bath and see how they hold up in the tub... it will be the ultimate test.  I'll let you know tomorrow how it all went.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The great E-reader debate

For starters, let me sy that this is not a blog comparing e-readers.  I don't have enough knowledge about most of them to provide the necessary information and I really don't have the desire to research it all.  That said, I have been investigating e-readers for my own personal use and have to admit I am still utterly confused, but close to a decision.  Those who know me well may be very surprised to hear that I am considering an e-reader purchase.  I do a lot of reading in the bath and this is obviously NOT a good reason to get an e-reader... water and electronics don't mix well at all!  However, I also do a lot of reading out of the bath.  I have also suddenly found myself with an unusually large amount of ebooks (most in pdf format) that I would like to read.  Since I prefer paper format, I have usually printed these books out and read the hard copy, but with so many books in my que this is very environmentally unfriendly and just not practical.  With the weather starting to get nicer, I don't want to be stuck indoors reading while the warm sun calls to me through my window either... so what's a girl to do?  The answer... get an e-reader so I can take my books and blanket out into the sunshine and catch up on all my reading wherever I want to be instead of tethered to my laptop (which has a limited battery life not conducive to lots of outdoor reading).

I have narrowed down my choices to the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook.  Both have features that I would find useful.  Both allow you to read pdf files, both have expansion slots available, similar price points and a large selection of titles available.  One advantage of the Kindle is the read aloud feature on pdf files.  I love this idea in theory, but I'm not sure it's something I want in reality.  Sure, it would be really nice to have my e-reader reading me a book out loud while I wash dishes, do the laundry, or drive in the car, but would I really use it?  I usually like to listen to music while doing those tasks and I'm sure my iPod plays music better than any of these e-reader devices (which all support mp3 files BTW).  Plus, I can always plug in my laptop and have pdf book read to me directly from Adobe reader.  The other advantage is that the Kindle's wireless connectivity seems to be more versitile allowing you to download ebooks at many more locations.  Both of these readers require you to get books in their specific format, although the Nook allows you to share your ebooks with another Nook user for 14 days (nice little extra feature if I knew anyone else with one of these things... which I don't).  The kindle has a hardware keyboard, while the Nook has a touch-screen keyboard.  They both have a dictionary feature... yippee... no lugging that big book around when I'm reading complex subjects.  They both have hundreds of thousands of free books and allow you to read newspapers and magazines.  Yikes... such a tough choice!  I guess I just need to let this one sit for a few days and let my mind sort it all out.  I'm sure I will end up with something I really like no matter which one I choose.

Bottom line, I really just need to make some kind of decision before the weather gets nicer.  I will also be able to clear out a lot of my extensive book collection (which is starting to take over the house).  It would definately be easier to have some of these titles in elecronic format (especially books I usually use for reference since the readers have the ability to highlight and annotate) and it would take up a lot less space.  So, soon I will be taking the plunge and getting myself an e-reader.  Do any of you have any thoughts on the matter?  I'd love to hear them, especially if you have used one of these devices before!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to avoid sharing and not be rude!

I am really good at not participating in the sharing of those random cold germs that seem to circulate through kids, friends, family, etc this time of year and I'd like to share my methods with everyone.  To avoid any future unpleasant legal issues, I will start by saying I am not a doctor, have never studied medicine, and don't intend the following information to be considered medical advice.  If you are truly sick, please go see a medical professional and if you are currently under a doctor's care, please check with them before trying anything suggested by me or anyone else.

I have personally used aromatherapy and natural remedies in my home for me and my kids for over a decade and have learned a few things through tiral and error along the way.  Cold season is in full swing right now and I have been surrounded by germy individuals anxious to share their wonderful state of anti-health with me for over a month now.  The problem is, I like these people.  I don't want to treat them like they have the plague, even if that's the case.  I am not the obsessive mom who makes her kids wash their hands 80 times a day and I don't usually avoid sick people (unless I'm looking for a convenient excuse to avoid them anyway).  SO how do I keep from getting sick all the time?  Read on to find out.

First, I should mention that my constant exposure to germs of all varieties has enabled me to build up a lot of natural resistance.  Then, let me add that I am not always successful and I do usually get sick about once a year, but it's usually less severe and shorter than most people I know.  I also do not get annual flu shots.  If someone is sick in my house I use a diffuser to burn Eucalytus essential oil.  This kills most basic germs when they hit the air (or so I've been told) and helps prevent germ transfer between those of us trapped in the house.  I also blow my nose quite frequently (for me that's a couple times a day), even when I don't need to.  Your nose hairs are designed to keep icky things floating around in the air out of your body.  Cleaning your nose out regularly helps get that stuff away from your body entirely.

If I notice I'm starting to get symptoms I take aggressive action.  I take extra vitamin C and add lots of water (and sometimes vitamin water... but watch for vitamin overdose if you do... monitor carefully) to my daily diet. I also add 1-2 extra hours of sleep each night (or in the form of an afternoon nap) to allow my body time to heal me in the way it was designed to.  I also add about an ounce of really high quality, very dark chocolate (which is full of antioxidents) every 4-6 hours.  The chocolate is especially useful if you have a sore throat or cough.  In fact, it will keep a cough at bay without any other type of medical aid.  Also, I avoid refined sugar, which can irritate the throat in a big way.  If I'm feeling sick to my stomach I will chomp on a couple peppermint altoids and stick to low acid, bland foods until the feeling subsides.  I'm not a big fan of tea, but if I'm really feeling icky I may add some herbal tea (caffine doesn't bother me, but you might want to go with caffine-free) with lemon and honey.  I also try to take daily hot, steamy baths and avoid too much exposure to cold weather. 

All the above combines to make a very effective attack against all those germs circulating everywhere.  By taking good care of myself, I also avoid sharing annoying colds and flus with people around me.  I'm pretty sure they don't view my not sharing as rude in the least!  I can still kiss my boyfriend when he has a cold, hug my kids to make them feel better, allow the kids to hang out in my room all they want, etc. and not worry too much about catching anything.  Give these things a try next time you feel a cold or flu coming on... maybe they will help you as well.

You can get vitamins, fine dark chocolate and aromatherapy products online if you can't drag yourself out of the house to find them locally :)

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