NEW! Aromatic Cedar Soap Dishes for the Shower

I have personally tested our brand new Cedar Soap Dishes in the shower, and they definitely extend the life of handmade soaps! Here’s how it works:

Cedar Soap Dish has grooves that run two different directions to allow water to flow out and air to flow in and around the soap!

If you’ve ever had your Great Cakes Soapworks soap bar stuck to the side of the tub, or still wet on the bottom by the time you take your next shower, you probably need this soap dish! Our shower has solid shelves for soap and shampoo that drain in the corner, but we still had issues with soggy soap. On average, a well-made bar of handmade soap will last one person about one month in the shower. The bar of soap I’m about to show you was used by two people for the first two weeks, and one person for the last two weeks. It started out as an average 4.5 ounce bar. Here’s how much is still left:

After one month of use!

I love that these soap dishes are handmade in Texas – go USA! And the best part is you can get them for just $4.95 each, or for a limited time you can get one FREE with any $40 soap purchase at Greatcakessoapworks.com!!

Click photo to purchase!

We also carry this stylish two-part soap dish for the sink:

Birch Soap Dish for the Sink

These make perfect gift items when paired with your favorite GCS soaps as well!

Announcing the Tall & Skinny Shimmy Challenge Winners!

The Tall & Skinny Shimmy was a deceptively challenging technique! Our guest teacher, Tatiana Serko, is a true soap artist and made it look so easy! She even showed us how to make our own tall & skinny soap mold out of foam board, which came in handy for many of us. The tricky part was making sure the soap batter was fully emulsified while not overblending. We had instances of crumbly soap from not stirring long enough, as well as soap that became too thick and wouldn’t shimmy. So, in the end, we celebrated the fact that everyone gave it their best efforts and now we celebrate those who really mastered the technique!

We are incredibly grateful to Nature’s Garden for sponsoring the challenge this month! They have been a terrific supporter of the Challenge Club since the very beginning!

And now, for the winners…

The grand prize winner is none other than Carmen Iclodean of Earth’s Raw Beauty in Las Vegas, Nevada!! Carmen nearly didn’t take soap out of the oven, let alone enter it, as she was sure it was a complete flop when she made it. She is a first time member of the Challenge Club and she titled her soap “Up in Flames” because the soap literally oozed oil in her oven and caught fire! You would never guess it though. Check it out:

Up in Flames soap by Earth's Raw Beauty

Up in Flames soap by Earth’s Raw Beauty

Click on the photo to read Carmen’s full story. She is the well-deserved recipient of a $100 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

Second place goes to Patricia DePhillips of Soap Amore in Lapeer, Michigan! Patricia has been participating in the Club since August, and this is her first time placing – Congratulations, Patricia! Her soap is aptly named ’55 Bel Aire based on the color palette she chose and her husband’s suggestion:

'55 Bel Aire soap by Soap Amore

’55 Bel Aire soap by Soap Amore

Click on the photo to see more of Patricia’s attempts at this technique. She wins a $75 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

In third place we have the ever talented Lisa Norris of Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio in Sydney, Australia! Lisa departed from her famous rainbow colors in favor of this stunning Dragonfruit inspired palette:

Dragonfruit Shimmy soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Dragonfruit Shimmy soap by Kangaroo Apple Soap Studio

Click on the photo to see her process on Facebook. Lisa wins a $50 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

Finally, Nature’s Garden has chosen Maya Matsuoka of Infusions blog in Tokyo, Japan as their Sponsor’s Choice prize winner!! Congratulations to Maya, a long-time member and supporter of the Challenge Club! Her Lemon & Ice soap turned out fantastic:

Lemon & Ice soap by Maya Matsuoka

Lemon & Ice soap by Maya Matsuoka

Click on the photo to read more about Maya’s soap on her blog. She wins a $25 gift certificate from Nature’s Garden!

And because I know you want to see all the other 93 entries, feel free to click over to the link-up HERE. The tutorial for this challenge will be available at Greatcakessoapworks.com starting tomorrow.

If you haven’t heard already, the technique for December is using Impression Mats. You can use a pre-made fondant mat, or create your own! Here’s my practice batch using a pre-made mat:

Pine Cone Impression Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

Pine Cone Impression Soap by Great Cakes Soapworks

I will share lots of resources for you to purchase your own pre-made fondant mat, as well as a coupon code from Brambleberry (our sponsor for December!) for 25% off their pourable silicone, which is currently out of stock, but should be available by the time registration opens. We will be taking a short break for the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S. so registration will open on Monday, November 30th. If you haven’t signed up for notifications about the Challenge Club, please do so here:

notify-me

12 Days of Christmas Deals – Day Four

This is the first time the Dead Sea Spa Bars have been on sale like this!

Today Only: get the Original Dead Sea Spa or Facial Bar for just $4.50 each!

Dead Sea Spa Bars by Great Cakes Soapworks

These soaps are specially formulated to cleanse and purify your skin. The Original scent blend is lemon, grapefruit, patchouli and tea tree. It has an overall earthy scent, and makes a great body or facial bar. The Facial Bar is scented with essential oils that are known to be excellent for the face: rosewood, geranium and ylang ylang.

Rosewood has antibacterial properties and is known to maintain the skin’s oil balance and elasticity. The scent is fresh, somewhat flowery, and woodsy. Geranium also has antibacterial properties, and facilitates blood circulation just under the skin which can help reduce scarring and evenly distribute melanin (skin pigment or color). Although there is just a small amount of ylang ylang in the blend, it may assist the rosewood in maintaining the skin’s oil balance. The soap base is the same for both bars – the only difference is in the essential oils added.

Click Here to Buy Dead Sea Spa Bars

Whipped Shea Butter Winner Announced

Thanks to Kari at Mothering My Miracle Multiples for hosting the Vanilla Hazelnut Whipped Shea Butter giveaway! She has picked a winner (or rather the winner was picked by random.org), and it’s Kirsten from Blonde Ambitions!! She was the 26th (and final) entry, which just goes to show that it’s never too late to win. You can still get your own jar of Whipped Shea Butter for just $4.00 and the cost of first class mail. After the rave review by Kari, I’m sure it must be worth much more than I’m charging! Thanks to everyone who entered and spread the word about the giveaway. I thought it was a huge success! Stay tuned for next week’s giveaway at mommie blogs. It will begin on Monday!

Experimenting with Facial Masks

Ever since I saw the post about a Champagne Facial Mask on Anne-Marie’s blog, I’ve been thinking about how to adapt it so that anyone could make it with ingredients from the grocery store. You see, the recipe calls for rhassoul or bentonite clay – commodities that people who don’t make their own bath and body products generally don’t have. So this morning I did some experimenting with baking soda vs. french green clay (which I happen to have). The results surprised me! Now, I don’t have any champagne, so just for the sake of experimenting I subbed some Diet Twist Up. Whatever works, right? Here’s what I tried:
3 parts baking soda
1 part Diet Twist Up
1 part heavy cream

It was really runny – even with more powder than liquid, but I smeared some on my right cheek. It felt really cool and soothing.

For the second experiment, I used the french green clay and started with the same ratios as the baking soda, but realized quickly that the clay was going to absorb a lot more liquid. So I ended up with equal parts of french green clay, Diet Twist Up and heavy cream which created a stiff, spreadable consistency. I understood the need for clay! Usually french green clay is recommended for acne treatments and oily skin, so I was expecting a drying effect. I spread some on my left cheek, and it felt cool and soothing too.

Here’s where I was surprised: when I rinsed off both masks, the baking soda mask actually felt more drying than the clay mask. In fact, the clay mask ended up being moisturizing! It felt really great on my skin!

Avocado Facial Mask - Just Do It!

Avocado Facial Mask - Just Do It!

All this to say that I couldn’t come up with a great facial mask recipe made from champagne and other ingredients you can buy at the grocery store. However, you can’t forget about the avocado mask!

Chocolate Strawberry Soap

Chocolate Strawberry Soap

Chocolate Strawberry Soap

The Chocolate Strawberry soap has been available at Greatcakessoapworks.com for three days. I’m not quite sure how I forgot to announce it earlier! Over half are sold already, so if you want some, better act quick! It’s everything you would hope for in a chocolate strawberry soap! Loads of rich, chocolate icing made with real cocoa on top of a sweet, luscious strawberry cake. Perfect for that special someone, or pamper yourself with this indulgent, yet no calorie treat! Just $5.95, and they are oversized at 4.5 to 5 ounces each.

Ann O. of Overland Park says,

β€œI just picked up mine today! It looks and smells sooo good! Great job, Amy!”

Country Clothesline Soap is Coming Back!

Country Clothesline Soap

Country Clothesline Soap

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Giveaway going on at the Red Clay Diaries (winners to be announced tomorrow!), it’s time to bring back the Country Clothesline soap! One of my faithful customers has been waiting ever so patiently for it. It’s her favorite! Now there are people who haven’t even tried my products before declaring it as their favorites too. Here are some of the comments from the Giveaway:

My favorite is the Country Clothesline Handmade Natural Soap even though it’s out of stock. πŸ™ -Carolyn G.

Oh that Country Clothesline soap must be to die for, it was sold out and as soon as I saw the name I figured I would love it as I remember the days when my momma used to hang our clothes out to dry and the smell when you laid down on those sheets was wonderful. -Mary

Now the Country Clothesline scent that I used before smelled more like laundry detergent. I have a new fragrance that really does smell like lined dried linens. I think I’ll get started on it tomorrow.

Taking Inventory

Inventory Sheet

Inventory Sheet

Every year, I endeavor to update my inventory of ingredients, containers, and finished products. *yawn* Unfortunately, in the six (or is it seven?) years since I started making soap, I have acquired way too much inventory. Such as the unopened container of BTMS (Behentrimonium Methosulfate) which I bought to make hair conditioner at least a year ago and still mean to try it. Or all the ingredients for cream soap – extracts and additives….or even the expensive anti-aging ingredients for facial moisturizer that didn’t end up being very user friendly. Even though I try to keep track of the ingredients I’ve used in my notebook, I’m not always very good at transferring these numbers to the inventory sheet. Let’s just say that it has been many months (September???) since I have updated some of these, so I’m feeling a bit buried in paperwork right now.

Some days I think I ought to purge everything out and just make soap. Soapmaking is still my passion. The other stuff is great once it’s done, but it’s not nearly as fun to make as soap. There’s something about choosing just the right ingredients, having a picture in your mind’s eye of how it’s going to turn out, and then that little bit of suspense as the soap sets up overnight before the final reveal.

In reality, I don’t think I can give up some of those other products. The Jojoba-Shea Lotion really does work so much better than what you get in the store, and now that my Lip Butter recipe has finally been perfected, I’m really happy with the results! So I guess the lesson to be learned here is just to make sure I keep on top of my inventory a bit better this year. Anyone want to volunteer for the job?

Holiday Highlights

Family times were good for the Warden’s. We spent some quality time with both sides, eating more than our share of holiday goodies, playing games, and just talking. Here are some of the highlights from our holiday break in chronological order:

1. My father-in-law in really good spirits – teasing the girls and making jokes.

My Father-in-Law

My Father-in-Law


I wrote previously about the book I bought for my father-in-law for Christmas and the health issues he faces. There have been times when he’s been fatigued, or even downright depressed, so it was really great to see his personality back – even if his body is still weak.

2. My dad’s white beard!

My Santa Dad

My Santa Dad


My dad hasn’t had a beard since I was little! My mom made some comment about wondering what color his beard might be, and the next thing she knew, he quit shaving. While thankfully his physique doesn’t even come close to Santa’s, the beard was definitely a conversation piece this year.

3. My adorable twin nephews – and my cousin is pretty cute too.

Twin nephews - 20 mos.

Twin nephews - 20 mos.


My nephews are 20 months old now, and starting to say real words!! They’ll snuggle up to anyone who will read to them, and I even got a short video of one of them doing the motions to the little teapot song. Too cute!

4. Playing Kubb

My brother and hubby

My brother and hubby


This is a Swedish game that my parents picked up from some friends. We all have a Swedish heritage, so I guess that gives it more appeal. The guys enjoy throwing the stick to knock down the posts, and even my girls gave it a go. My dad is a woodworker by trade, so he crafted all the posts and sticks.

5. Visiting my grandma

My grandma and older daughter

My grandma and older daughter


Grandma still lives out on the farm in northwest Kansas. All my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom’s side gathered at her house for several meals and, of course, to open presents. My girls loved the kitties. They are semi-tame, so we were able to catch at least one of them – especially when Grandma came out to feed them.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year! I pray you receive many blessings in 2009!