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401  Featured Member--swift in Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions by MareMare on: April 05, 2009 11:52:33 AM
Here is our new Bath & Beauty Featured Member~swift!

Swift has been a Craftster since early 2005 and makes amazing B&B items like mineral make-up and facial cleansers! Besides posting great projects and recipes she also is free with her help on the Discussions and Questions board. Here are a couple of her posts that made me go "Dang!"  Grin
(click pic for link)

A little intro by Swift:

Although Im known as Swift (after the author, not a description of my speed!) or SwiftCraftyMonkey, in real life Im Susan. Im a crafting dilettante I run a few youth craft groups, so I have to come up with new ideas every week but my true passion is bath & body formulating. I love the way it challenges me scientifically and artistically!

As much as I love crafting, I love teaching, and I get such great joy at being part of that a-ha moment when someone learns something new. I work for a non-profit charity and I believe in giving back to the community, which is why I started my blog at http://swiftcraftymonkey.blogspot.com. And as someone who really doesnt play well with others in group settings I ask far too many questions and want to know everything! I find the net is the best way for me to learn.

A friend insulted my crafting skills and challenged me to learn how to cross-stitch in 1996. Which led me to learn to crochet, knit, bookbind, sew, and create bath & body products. In the last two years Ive added candle making, jewelry making, and polymer clay to my crafty repertoire.

In May 2009, Im marrying an amazing and supportive man who encourages me in everything I do. Raymond and I have an adorable-fur baby, Blondie, the little cutie pie in my avatar. And yes, we are crafting everything for the wedding.

Q: Why (and when) did you begin making Bath and Body items?

It was a happy accident that led to my obsession with creating bath & body products. My best friend and I were sewing purses one afternoon, and it turned out to be one of those days on which I could not get a single thing right! To alleviate the frustration, we decided to make bath salts, bath bombs, and melt & pour soap. Then a batch of bath bombs failed, and, being the kind of person who cant stand not knowing how things work, I had to find out what happened. (We were using the wrong kind of citric acid!) I stumbled upon the Soap Dish and saw people making lotions, hair care products, and more! I had no idea any of this was possible, so I tried a few things and became obsessed. That was almost three years ago.

Q: What is your B&B philosophy?

Creating incredible bath & body products is about knowing your ingredients. Get factual information and studies from reputable websites; dont believe urban legends or spam that shows up in your inbox! Be inquisitive. Why use sweet almond oil instead of sunflower oil? Youre not tied down to any one supplier when you know the INCI name of your supplies, and you can substitute what you want instead of the ones used by the recipe creators. I find this is the best way to customize your creations!

Know how your ingredients feel. Pour some oil on your hand, play with the hydrolyzed proteins, add a little conditioner to your body wash -- knowing what each ingredient brings to the party is essential for formulating. I thought my long, frizzy, coarse hair would love silk, but it became even frizzier! Thats how I found the protein my hair and skin loves.

Keep notes on everything. Get a notebook (or in my case, giant binder) and make notes about every single thing you did during each creation. I like to keep my recipes in a binder with plastic covers. I can write notes with a grease pencil and I transfer those notes to my computer if Ive done something significantly different. I always keep the dates of each batch and what I changed, and I always label every product with the ingredients. How else am I going to know which one I love and which one I will never ever try again?

Show no fear! If you want to make it, make it! Whats the worst case scenario? You waste a few supplies or create something you hate (although it might be something someone else adores). I always say I gain confidence from my successes, but I learn from my mistakes. If I hadnt failed on that third batch of bath bombs, I wouldnt have found this amazing craft!

Q: We love your mineral make-up, what can you share about the process?

Mineral make-up is the harmony of chemistry and art (wow, when you write it down, that really sounds cheesy!) Perfecting a base you love is the hardest part of mineral make-up creation, and its something most of us never think about because its not the cool, shiny part. A base can make the difference between a soft, powdery feel with longevity or a flaky mess that runs in the rain. I cant count how many batches of eye shadow base Ive made, sent out to friends for feedback, then tweaked before I found the one I love (the one posted on Craftster). But now Ive done that, I can create to my hearts content.

The actual process of making an eye shadow is very exciting. I choose a colour Id like to make something I saw, printed, or dreamed and think about how to get to that point. Do I start with something shiny or matte? Do I want to darken it with black? Do I want something highly pigmented or something sheer?

When you get your micas, iron oxides, and the like, put some on your hand and look at in the daylight. Note the main colour, then note the sheen, sparkle, and undertones. Make up a colour sheet with the name and a swatch of each colour on it so you know what each contributes to an eye shadow or foundation.

And try anything. Green and pink didnt go well together youve learned something not to do next time. Or perhaps they do, and youve created an amazing colour others covet. 

Q: What other B&B items do you make?

The short answer: Everything I use.

The long answer: I make every product in my bathroom, except the toothpaste and deodorant (and Im working on that!). Im a surfactant junkie, so I love making bubble baths, body washes, facial cleansers, and shampoos. Ive got a whole lotta hair, so I love working on new hair care products conditioners, leave in conditioners, de-frizzing potions and I love making lotions. Id never really used them before making them, and now I cant live without at least a body butter, hand lotion, and foot scrub!

Ive never tried cold process soap. Its not for fear of trying it, but I figure there are people in my community who have perfected their craft and Im happy to support their work!

Q: How did your first B&B project go for you?

My first attempts at bath bombs went very well, but the third was a dismal failure (see the happy accident story above!) Im very fortunate Ive only had one lotion go wrong, and that was because I made a massive mistake I didnt make sure the water and oil phases were at the same temperature. The water was barely lukewarm and the oils were above 70C. The lotion separated, and I learned a valuable lesson about the role of heat in emulsification! 
Q: Do you have any favorite techniques?

The techniques I use are pretty much what I consider good manufacturing practices, so its hard to really comment on the actual making of products. I like to have all the ingredients and utensils at hand, the fragrance or essential oils Ive chosen, and a large jug of distilled water at the ready. I make sure the landing area, where Im going to put the finished product to cool (fridge, freezer, countertop), is ready. When the product is cooling, I consider the packaging Id like to use (I have far too much, so this can take some time) and write down my notes for my labelling.

For formulating, I love to go through the stores or mooch through my friends bathrooms checking ingredient lists for products they like (with their permission, of course). I write down the ingredients and research each of them to see if they are essential to the product or just good marketing, then I try to recreate the essence of that product.

For mineral make-up creation, I get paint swatches or pieces of fabric or brochures from the cosmetics counter and use those as my reference for eye shadow ideas.

Q: What is your favorite B&B project on Craftster that youve posted?

My mineral make-up tutorial!

Although Im very pleased with my first tutorial on bath bombs!

Q: What is your favorite B&B project on Craftster that someone else has posted? 

I love Rayno24s cupcake soap tutorial!

Q: Besides B&B, what Craftster categories are you a frequent poster or lurker on?

All of them! Sewing purses, bookbinding, jewellery making, miscellaneous I read them all for ideas.

Q: What is your favorite non-B&B project on Craftster that you have posted? 

I liked these beeswax sushi candles, although there isnt much of a tutorial. I have changed the design somewhat since I posted this, but I still think theyre fun!  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=86418.msg815123#msg815123

Q: What is your favorite non-B&B project on Craftster that someone else has posted? 

I love this tiny wallet. Ive modified it to include a change section for my camping trips!
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Thanks so much to swift for being a Featured Member! If you would like to be a featured member or if there is a member that you would like to see featured please shoot me a pm.
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402  Re: Traveling Scarf Swap Gallery! (Round 3) in The Swap Gallery by MareMare on: April 02, 2009 05:24:00 PM
Here's the section I did for Ma Rut's scarf:

And the whole thing alltogether:

The colors in the second pic are more true to life. Also the flower will probably need to be blocked to lay correctly, I just noticed in that pic that one of the petals is bent up funny.
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403  Speedy Recycled Noodles in Recipes and Cooking Tips by MareMare on: March 18, 2009 03:28:09 PM
I came home really tired from work last night and found some left over pan fried noodles from the Chinese place the other night. Normally I'm so tired by 10 pm I would have just microwaved and scarfed em, but I decided to cook a real meal! I tried to get the veggies in small pieces to cook quickly and found some a piece of cooked chicken in the fridge.


1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
Assorted veggies (whatever's in fridge!) I used:
2 carrots, peel removed and then peeled into thin strips
3/4 cup diced broccoli
1 small onion, halved and then sliced into thin wedges
5 large brussels sprouts, cored with sharp paring knife to separate leaves
1 cooked chicken breast, diced
Salt or Soy Sauce to taste
Granulated or fresh garlic to taste (I was out of fresh!)
2 teaspoons sesame oil, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
Leftover cold noodles (I had about half a large take out container, but they were packed down)

Heat vegetable oil in saute pan over, when hot add veggies and stir fry on medium heat until tender crisp. I like my onions softer so I put them in first. Add chicken and warm through. Rinse cold cooked noodles under hot water to get off the oil and to loosen and separate. Don't totally drain, throw them in pan while still dripping a little. Get everything tossed together and hot and season with sesame oil, salt or soy sauce, granualted garlic (if using fresh add when you cook veggies) and red pepper flakes. Taste and readjust seasoning if necesary. Drink some tasty beer while you're chopping and cooking and it seems even quicker!

*I also had mushrooms and water chestnuts, wished I would have added those! Other veggies that would be awesome: canned bamboo shoots, asparagus, cauliflower, zuchini/yellow squash, or cabbage. And of course use whatever cold cooked meat you have or leave it out completely. Also raw shrimp cooks so quickly that would work great too.

For Italian style noodles, use the same leftover chinese noodles or leftover spaghetti/angel hair/fettucine noodles and omit the sesame oil and soy sauce but add some dried or fresh Basil and/or Oregano and/or Italian Seasoning. Tasty veggies for Italian style might be onions, drained canned tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and spinach. For meat try sliced sausage links, chicken, or shrimp.
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404  Re: COWS 7 Gallery in The Swap Gallery by MareMare on: March 18, 2009 02:01:02 PM
LOL I was just uploading pics! Thanks hon! I will get some action shots when I see the girls, your pics are prettier than mine sitting on my kitchen island! I love all the pink and purple and totally want to steal the owls (but that would be mean, so I won't lol!)

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405  Re: Traveling Scarf Swap Gallery! (Round 2) in The Swap Gallery by MareMare on: March 18, 2009 01:36:26 PM
Here's belated pics of tattooedcrafter's scarf I sent on last week.
My section:

All together so far:
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406  Roasted Brussels Sprouts---No, really! in Recipes and Cooking Tips by MareMare on: March 03, 2009 07:10:59 PM
I never ate Brussells sprouts because my mom didn't like them, although I eat basically all other veggies. A couple years ago we did a co-op type produce thing where we got bushels of produce fresh off the farm every week. We got a ton of brussels sprouts so I found a recipe on allrecipes.com and cooked em up. Seriously, best things ever. I will eat them over french fries every time! This is a great way to cook any veggies, a fave combo of mine is cauliflower and red onions along with the brussels sprouts! They get that yummy roasted flavor that brings out the natural sugars, mmm mmmm.

3-4 cups (or more, whatever) of brussels sprouts, trim off the end if it looks icky and peel of any outer leaves that are holey or black or brown. Cut in half if they are very large
1-2 Tablespoons of oil
1/2 teaspoon or so of kosher or sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 or 450. In a large roasting pan lay the sprouts out in one layer. Sprinkle the oil over the top and toss gently to coat. Add salt and pepper and stir again. Cook in hot oven, stirring every 5 or 7 minutes. Cook a total of 15 minutes or more, the darker they get the more the natural sweetness comes out. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necesary. If you didn't use very much oil a touch of butter might be good, but usually not needed. Voila, love!
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407  Mock Wendy's Pitas in Recipes and Cooking Tips by MareMare on: March 03, 2009 07:01:33 PM
Does anybody remember Wendy's pitas? I worked there in high school and my (very) early 20's and they were the best! I was craving some the other day so I made an easy version, and am listing all the other ones too in case anybody else wants to re-create them! Super super easy to grab when you're in a hurry if you do a tiny bit of preparation ahead of time, like making the cucumber relish and the broccoli slaw up and keeping chopped cooked chicken in the fridge.

Greek Veggie "Pita" (pictured)


Cucumber relish
1/2 cucumber, peeled and chopped
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 small red onion diced
Combine veggies in bowl to make relish. Will keep in fridge for a couple days, great to top salads and chicken and other things too.

Warm pita bread (I used whole wheat tortillas)
Lettuce blend (romaine, green leaf lettuce, iceberg, whatever)
Cucumber relish
Feta Cheese
Caesar Vinagrette or Italian dressing

Layer ingredients in pita or tortilla, voila!

For other mock Wendy's pitas~ (I might have some of the names wrong, it was a long time ago!)

Chicken Caesar Pita
Warm pita or tortilla
Lettuce Blend
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Cooked, chunked white chicken breast
Caesar Vinagrette or Italian dressing

Chicken Ranch Pita
Warm pita or tortilla
Lettuce Blend (packaged mix works well)
Broccoli Slaw
Cooked, chunked white chicken breast
Light Ranch dressing

Veggie Ranch Pita
Warm pita or tortilla
Lettuce Blend
Cucumber Relish (see above)
Broccoli Slaw (packaged mix works well)
Light Ranch dressing
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408  Re: VDAY Cookie Swap Gallery of Sweets in The Swap Gallery by MareMare on: March 03, 2009 06:49:26 PM
Here's what I sent to Songs4Drowning, she's having camera battery problems. I also sent some lip balms that I made, caramel and spearmint for her and her guy (smooching, valentines, it makes sense, right?) but forget to take a pic of those.

Chocolate Marble Cookies for him

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate with Mini PB Cups for her

Cookie calendar

Some skull and cherry coasters

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409  Re: Traveling Scarf Swap Gallery! (Round 1) in The Swap Gallery by MareMare on: March 03, 2009 06:39:46 PM
I'll stick yours in a bag when I pass it on tattoedcrafter!

Here's my block! I finally settled on a basketweave because that's always nice! I love this yarn, it is Caron Simply Soft Tweed, there are little flecks of red and yellow in it. I've been working on an Aran Isles type scarf (fake cables) for my mom in this yarn in Tweed in the red. It's pretty but I might take a hundred years to finish it!

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410  Featured Member--mullerslanefarm in Bath and Beauty: Discussion and Questions by MareMare on: February 04, 2009 01:31:03 PM
The first Craftster member to be a Bath and Body Featured Member is ~ mullerslanefarm! She has been a member of Craftster since November of 2007, and is a frequent poster on the Bath & Beauty Boards. She is especially helpful on the Discussions and Questions Board, always willing to share her knowledge gained from years of soapmaking with new members and veterans alike. She is also very active on the Fiber Spinning boards!

A little intro by mullerslanefarm:

It is a great honor to me to be a Featured Member on this forum.  I find myself more on the Fiber Forum but check in here sporadically to see if I can get inspiration or perhaps answer some questions.

A little about me.  My name is Cyndi and I'm in my late 40's, married to my best friend, Paul.  We have 4 children between us, boy, girl, boy, boy.

Only the youngest is still at home. We have always had an interest in American history and the way folks lived their lives in the early days of our country.

We make our home on an 11 acre, old fashion homestead.  We farm with our Belgian draft horses (time & weather permitting), raise 100% of our meat including beef, pork, poultry (chicken, duck, turkey, guinea), Have a Jersey milk cow for milk, butter, cheeses, yogurt, ice cream, et al. Have honeybee hives for honey and beeswax.  Large vegetable, herb & berry gardens, fruit orchard and grape vines.  We produce & can about 80% of our vegetables and fruits.  We heat primarily with an old cast iron wood stove in the winter.  For a while I had a wood cook stove set up, but it doesn't produce the heat to warm the house.  It's back in storage until we can build a primitive kitchen.

We have a website that has a lot of pictorials that we call "Lessons in Homesteading".  It includes things like making butter, making soap, making lotions & salves.  Also putting up the hay with horses, canning, brain tanning, among other things.

Our goal is pass along to others what we know about 'lost arts' to help folks become more self sufficient.

Again, I want to thank MareMare for this honor.  It means so much to me.

Q: Why (and when) did you begin making Bath and Body items?

A: I began making Cold Process soaps in 1999.  It was another out reach of historical portrayal and I had an infant nephew who could not use any type of store bought soap.  I started with a simple 100% Olive Oil soap, and then explored other oils.  I noticed early that the selection of oils used in soap formulas would produce different types of soaps.  I went back to basics and created a lot of one-oil soaps, then started combining 2 oils in different percentages, then adding a 3rd, 4th oil and so on. 

I not only kept a lot of notes, I created my own lye calculator written in Excel that detailed the fatty acid percentages of soap formulas.  This elementary lye calculator became the basis for www.soapcalc.com.  The only request I had for the creator of soapcalc was that the calculator be free of charge.   

I also had some wonderful soap gurus to bounce ideas.  They were always free with their advice and only asked that, in the future to 'Pay it forward.'  Never refuse advice to someone and encourage them to always give advice to new soapers.

Q: What is your B&B philosophy (as far as all-natural, animal products, etc)?

A:  I am a huge fan of Lard for soapmaking.  Not only is it historically correct, using it as part of your soap formula contributes so much for a nice bar of soap.  Most of the Lard and Tallow I use is rendered from our own animals here on the homestead.

I personally prefer using Essential Oils, but do have a Fragrance Oil line in my products.

Q: Besides soap, what other B&B items do you make?

A:  Lotions, bath salts and balms (salves).

Q: How did your first soap making project go for you?

A:  Complete Disaster!!  I was not using a digital scale and did not want to 'waste' ingredients, so I made a small batch (just one pound).  The whole batch was ruined, being very lye heavy.  Ended up wasting it after all.  I recommend that new CP soapers start with a digital scale and make a formula using a minimum of 3 pounds of oil.

Q: Youve mentioned Master Batching before, can you explain what that is and how/why you do it?

A:  Master Batching (which was not my original idea) is a wonderful way to save time when you are soaping and you consistently use the same recipe for your soaps.
Let's say your soap formula is 30% Olive Oil, 30% Lard, 30% Palm Kernel Oil and 10% Shea Butter.  Regardless if you are making a one lb or 30 lb batch of soap, your percentages will always be the same.

For discussion purposes, you make soap batches using 5 lb of oils and you usually make 3 batches at a time.  Instead of having to weigh out 24 oz each of Olive Oil, Lard & Palm Kernel and 8 oz of Shea Butter for each of your 3 batches (a total of weighing oils 12 times), Why not weigh up 72 oz each of  Olive Oil, Lard & Palm Kernel and 24 oz of Shea Butter.  Stir the oils well, then weigh out 80 oz of your combined oils for each of the batches. 

Instead of weighing 12 times, you'll only have to weigh the oils a total of 7 times.  Or, since you have the oils out anyway, weigh up 30# of oil (144 oz each of Olive Oil, Lard & Palm Kernel and 48 oz of Shea Butter).  Use half of that Master Batch to make your 3-5# batches today, and store the rest of the Master Batch until the next time you make soap.

Q: Do you have any other favorite techniques?

A: I'm a milk soaper that is fortunate to have a dairy animal and am able to use fresh, frozen, whole milk.  I place the milk in gallon zipper bags, lay the bags on their sides and freeze on a cookie sheet.  When I am ready to soap, I chunk the frozen milk into approximately 1".  You can also freeze the milk in ice cube trays, pop the frozen cubes out of the trays and store in freezer bags.   

Q: What is your favorite B&B project on Craftster that you posted?

A:  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=236020.0

Q: What is your favorite B&B project on Craftster that someone else has posted? 

A: http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=231950.0  I just love looking at all those soaps at once!  My other favorite is Addicted To Soap's post with how she took a round soap made in a Pringles can that she didn't like and turned it into something most beautiful!!

Q: What is your favorite non-B&B project on Craftster that you have posted? 

A: It would have to be any one of the Fiber Friday's that I have posted on.  I really don't have a 'favorite' yarn that I've spun.  It is always the latest yarn because each are so different!

Q: What is your favorite non-B&B project on Craftster that someone else has posted? 

A: Again, it would have to be any one of the Fiber Friday's threads.  The talent on the Fiber Forums is out of this world!  Each Friday I am inspired more and more.

Ok, so that is our first Featured Member! Please pm me if you are interested in being featured, or have a recommendation about someone you would like to see featured. Also let me know if you think of any questions I should add into the interview portion!
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