We made soap. It started as an idea for fun and frugal Christmas presents, but there's no going back for me, I'm hooked.
The recipe came from the internet, but the real lore came from my good friend Jen of Two Trees Soap who gave me a full, chaotic, hilarious day-long soap-making tutorial in exchange for some negligible housework which I still haven't delivered...yep, she's a generous girl! The tutorial was invaluable as Jen has been making soap her whole life. She proved that making soap is about as complicated as making cookies, and yet the product is beyond beautiful. Jen comes from a soapy family: sister Anna sells gorgeous soap online at Roots Soap Co. and brother Evagrius is making soap in this unlikely corner of Italy, apparently.
I used the essential oils I had on hand and botanicals from my kitchen: lavender and oatmeal, anise and ground cloves. I also made my first goof. Apparently clove essential oil melts your soap! However, I used such a tiny amount and mixed it with such panicky quickness that no harm was done.
My soap is a standard blend of coconut oil, tallow (rendered beef fat), and olive oil. I melted it together on the woodstove, then slowly drizzled a carefully-measured water and lye mixture while stirring. This second part happened at night as I didn't want my kids anywhere near the lye. But the boys helped me cut and mold the warm, fragrant soap by hand, a tactile pleasure indeed!
I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!