Sunday, 27 February 2011

FINALLY - MNS Portugal is born!

After hours and hours of work I have finally got my 5 new soaps up on line.  They have a category all to themselves because I think they are rather special.  NMS PORTUGAL is the link to the results of a lot of hard work.  As you all know, I love Portugal, its a real inspiration to me and has been, in my soap making, ever since I started, thanks to my good friend and fellow soap maker Shelly.  I have been bleating on about producing a range of soaps that reflect my love for the place and using as many ingredients I can source there as possible.  So, here they are - I hope you like them.

SALGADO AZUL (Salty Blue Spa Bar) The perfect soap for washing away malaise & irritability, especially when its cold and grey outside.  If you are a SADS sufferer, as Im sure I am!, this will really help.  Use this fantastic sea salt spa bar, emerge from your shower or bath a little lighter and feeling clean, clear, fresh and renewed.  This is the first soap I created in the range and is already a top seller for Naturally Made Soaps.

AZEITE PURO (Pure Olive Oil Castile) is fast becoming my absolute favorite soap EVER!  I love it.  Its just so creamy, bubbly, silky and smooth, I have never used soap like it.  Often olive oil soaps can feel a bit slimy on the skin and, although they are lovely and moisturising, people can find this a bit off putting.  My version of Castile soap is very different, this is almost the bubbliest soap I have ever made and yet it still leaves you feeling you have showered with a pot of moisturising lotion not soap.  Total luxury and I haven't even mentioned the scent, its Geranium with a touch of Bergamot - really soothing and peaceful, suitable for both men and women.

FLORESTA VERDE (Green Forest) A little bit woodsy, a little bit herbal, a little bit floral and a little bit piney - all these fragrances in one.  Honestly, this soap is so fresh, It's designed to make you think of a walk in a cool, green forest, on a hot summer day when the sun beats down and melts the pine sap and heats the forest floor.  At the same time you will also think of taking a plunge into a cooling forest pool - check it out!


CITRINO (Sunny Citrus) Dreamy Tangerine, Sweet Orange Oil and sparkling, juicy Grapefruit, one of my most captivating scents ever.  Wherever you go in Northern Portugal, unless its deep in the frosty valleys, citrus fruit trees are everywhere and there is no better time to see them than in the winter, dripping with ripe, juicy oranges and lemons, yet at the same time covered in the sweetly scented, waxy, white blossoms that will make the fruit for the next year - Magical.  Get your own hug from the sun!

MEL CREMOSO (Honey & Cream) So sweet, so full of honey, sugar and cream, a pudding lovers dream.  That's where the inspiration came for this soap.  The Portuguese just love puddings, the creamier the better, preferably full of honey and eggs too.  The warm, creamy vanilla and honey scent of this soap will, I hope, make you feel warm and cozy and the geometric shaped sides will give you the feeling that you are showering with your own slice of honeycombe.  This soap is topped with glittering sugar crystals and gold for that extra special Bollywood feel!

So now that you have been introduced to all 5 I hope that you will click on the links and find out more about each one.  I have also included a paragraph or two and some personal photos that show why I have been so inspired by this wonderful country, its natural and geographical bounty, food and countryside.  Each soap comes from two very special places - Portugal and my heart.

I really would love to know what you think about this collection, it means so much to me, I really hope you can see and feel that too XX

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

IM SO EXCITED..... Ive got a new workshop!

Yes, really, I have been waiting so long for this moment.  I am incredibly lucky, my fab boyfriend, who has always been supportive of Naturally Made Soaps from the very beginning, could see how difficult it was getting for me to run the business from my garden workshop.  So he has given me his precious garage!, can you believe it?  You know about men and their sheds, well this garage has been his sanctuary/shed/workshop for as long as he has lived in his house (over 15 years).


The Europa just after it passed its flying tests - it took Rik almost 5 years to build

It used to be his escape from noisy, loud kids when I moved in 6 years ago with my two, where he tinkered with engine things and where, most importantly, he built the Europa.  So to give it up for soap is amazing and I feel truly lucky and grateful.

Its still got a way to go, I still have to get Rik to move quite a lot of stuff out, we have swapped workshops, so he now has to squeeze into my old one.  I need to put up more shelves and I need more curing racks but its already so much better and easier to work in.

Above is a close up of my new work bench which is over 3m long.  I am putting shelves up above eventually to house all my utensils, cutters and pots & pans.  To the left is my cooking and preparation area with a new double gas burner and microwave, to the right is my packing area which still needs sorting out.

This is the view from the other angle, left is my prep bench and to the end (by the door) is my packing area.  The door is set into new insulated walls and opens out onto the end of the garage which enables me to load up my car for markets in double time.

Market storage right down at the end by the new door, tables, boxes of wrapped soaps, shelves, signs and by display trugs hanging from the roof.  Then the raw materials storage area and lastly my curing racks which I hope to double soon.

It still seems very strange to come into this room, turn on the lights and get working.  This room was always the aircraft hanger and mans territory, now it smells really lovely as soon as you walk in and is a pleasure to work in.  No more tripping over clutter (well still a bit but that will go soon), no more knocking things over, piling stuff up and generally feeling very cramped.  I now have enough space to think about all sorts of other things such as courses, wholesale and best of all - experimenting with new soap ideas


Let me know what you think, if you have any pictures of your workshop or ideas on how I could make mine better let me know, I could start a new photo library on this blog for all to see!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Very sneak preview of my new Portugal range

Yup, last two soaps came out of the molds today and I am very happy, they are great, really worth all the effort thinking about them, how I wanted them to look and how the hell I was going to achieve this - not easy!

The range is my attempt to recreate the Portugal feeling and why I love the place so much, I am also hoping it will help with my new wholesale in Europe venture.

Our house from the big rock
This is the inspiration in colours for FLORESTA VERDE (Green Forest)

FLORESTA VERDE - Top before cutting into bars
Then the second one that was unveiled today is my attempt to pay homage to the Portuguese love of everything sweet, puddings, cream, honey and sugar.  I think I am calling this one MEL CREMOSO (Honey & Cream).  Its sweet and honey scented and (I think) very pretty.
Anyway, more photos and proper explanations to follow, I just wanted to share these with you today.  Do let me know what you think of them.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

VALENTINE - Whats in it really?

And yes!  I am finally back in the land of the living, back from Portugal for what seems like my whole lifetime already but is only since 13th January and I have been soooo bad at keeping in touch.  I do have an excuse, I have been making so much soap as I was almost totally out of stock after Christmas and I really mean down to the last bar or so!  Anyway things are leveling out now so I feel a little more in charge....  Well maybe!
I agree with one of my favourite blogs, Learn Vest (making smart women smarter) they say.....

"We have a love-hate relationship with Valentine’s Day. We’re not a fan of commercially constructed holidays that contribute to needless spending and consumption; on the other hand, we can’t argue with an opportunity to tell our loved ones how we feel about them. Love is better than money, after all.
To that end, this Valentine’s Day, we suggest forgoing the random gifts that contribute to clutter, and bringing the holiday back to what it’s all about: the message of “I Love You” (and its variations). We hearken back to the handcrafted valentines that appeared inside our desks in elementary school to tell us someone cared about us–and found some grown-up versions.
Here are some unique, creative ways to send an I-love-you-gram, from an old school mix tape to something sweet to love gone bad."

Nice, my sentiments exactly, so what I am going to try and do is give you a couple of ideas of how to make your own, cheap but not 'CHEAP' Valentines.  Remember how great it felt to bring your Mum and Dad back that weird, slightly wonky and drippy first birthday card from school?  I really remember the cards and stuff my kids brought back to me, and I still have them ALL and treasure them ALL.  Why do we do that?  because it means something to us.  So, give up those commercial made cards, shop bought, hothouse flowers (that will last a disappointing 24hrs - if you are lucky) and give your loved one something that your have made/thought about/planned - you don't need to be an artist or crafts person - just look at the first suggestion....ITS SO EASY

SEND HIM/HER A CANDY GRAM or in English a sweetie special
Recapture the middle-school-dance-team-fundraiser spirit by sending this. Choose from a variety of candies--and let him know he's a Tootsie Pop, SweetHeart, or that you've hit Pay Day.

This is actually what I am going to do - Rik, my partner, loves chocolate, way more than I do, so (I hope he is not reading this) I am going to get a 3 stack of Cadburys big choc bars, Milk, Whole nut and Fruit and nut, wrap them with a huge pink bow and a label like the one in the photo.


Oh, oh, oh, I think this is sooo fab, unfortunately NOT available in the UK yet but when I read what it can do I just thought, I want it now.  Rik is a grumpy old man and if I bombarded him with the texts this thing can do all day, until Valentines day - he just could not fail to forget!!  soooo sad its not available here.  Anyway this is what it does
Call it the Cyrano de Bergerac of cell phones: If you're busy or just plain lazy, the boyfriend keeper iPhone app automatically generates and sends emails and texts to your beau. You enter in basic info such as how long you’ve been together, how serious your relationship is, how often you’d like to communicate, even what color your partner’s eyes are. The app sends pre-made messages on a regular basis, like: “Do you know we have been dating for 132 days and 7 hours?” To be fair: there’s a Girlfriend keeper out there, too - but only USA of course!!!!

Next is one of my most favorite craft/ideas sites Tipnut I really love them,  I subscribe and get regular ideas for crazy things that really fulfill my creative desires, if you are interested in crafts and really nice projects its well worth it.  so my Tipnut faves
 - take a look at these Vintage Valentine downloads lots of fab ideas for making your own, very simple cards.

Another idea - and I have done this.  Get an empty CD plastic cover.  back it with a lovely paper/fabric/print and then stuff it full with love heart sweets

Take the sweets out of the wrapper and arrange them on top of the paper/fabric/print backing, with the love message facing upwards.  I then clipped the CD cover closed and stuck it up firmly with super glue.  I glued a 'V' shaped piece of card on the back so it could be displayed like a photo frame and 'Bobs your uncle' A fantastic, bespoke card for your loved one that lasts and lasts (my man still has his on his desktop after 8 - 'YES 8' - years).
This is a truly lovely simple project, go on have a look Fingerprints

Again, OK this is American but the recipe sounds so delicious and the pictures (with Smarties on!!) I cant resist.....
Go to Cookie recipe

When a cookie is jam packed with chocolate chips, I’ll surely grab a few to munch on. But when a cookie is dissected into little bites, I’m less likely to eat more than one. Instead, I savor the individual flavors of a single cookie cup throughout the day. An M&M here, a bite there … it’s a slow process that helps me limit my sugar intake.

Form a ball of cookie dough in your hand, a little bigger than a ping pong ball and flatten it like a pancake. Press the dough into a standard sized, greased cupcake pan and mold the dough to the inside of the cup leaving a depression in the center.
Bake at 365 degrees F for about 15 minutes, until the center of the cookie is set.

I hear you ask, I have many solutions for the Valentine season but here are the best..


vintage rose
Another romantic, bubbly soap bar in a vintage style.  This soap is set to become classic, and is now a real favorite with everyone who uses it.  Made with whole Devonshire fresh goats milk with lots of Cocoa and Shea butter it really will leave your skin feeling fantastic.  Lightly perfumed with a pretty floral fragrance oil this soap, with its tiny rose buds on the top, it is the perfect gift, good enough to give to anyone, they will love you forever!  Now even better as is totally palm oil free.
A beautiful and romantic treat for all, delicately perfumed with rose fragrance oil, this is one of the most evocative scents of an English garden in summer.

For Men
Yes really! this beautiful bar of soap is made in celebration of the Bridge Inn, Topsham (our favourite pub and probably the best pub in the world) with real ale stout added and 78% cocoa chocolate and cocoa butter it is scented with black Cardamom and is simply lovely.  I am told by my son who won't use anything else, it makes a fantastic shaving soap.  One of my best selling soaps, once you try this you wont go back to anything else - and that's a promise!

So if you feel like getting a great Valentine go to Naturally Made Soaps and get the best that soap can give........  or try the other cool links I have added here.  Go on, Valentines should be about how you really feel not how a stupid card manufacturer thinks you should feel.  

Let me know how you get on please?  Did you try any of the above or get inspired?  I really would love to know.