Friday, June 29, 2007

Masculine Soaps

Soaps from Juniper Ridge Yesterday, I had an inquiry from Rob. He stated, "being a guy, I like 'masculine' looking soap... how do I go about making soaps like this?" The site Rob referenced was Juniper Ridge and the soap photo pictured is from their web site. I will be addressing Rob's question in this post, but first, I had to take a peek at the Juniper Ridge web site. I was very impressed with what Hall Newbegin, the owner, has to offer.

All items sold are made from wild harvested plant material with NO essential oils, perfume oils, or colors - all the smell and color of the soap comes from the wild plant. You can enjoy the aromatic pleasures of hiking in the deep, dark woods of the Northwest or the sage blanketed hills of Southern California without ever leaving your tub.

Juniper Ridge makes more than soap. They also sell natural, woodsy smelling wild herb incense, Northwest wild herb berry jams and syrups (the old fashioned pulp style), wild herb teas, and wreaths that stay soft and green for up to two years (they perserve them with an internal glycerin process). While visiting the site I ordered the soap gift pack for my husband who loves all things natural and vegan. He has an upcoming birthday and I'm certain the soap will be a perfect gift.

OK, back to my guy Rob. I can't provide a recipe for the soaps made by Juniper Ridge as this group goes to great lengths to cultivate and gather herbs for their own unique soap recipes. I can tell you they are using a cold process method of soap making which is much different than melt and pour soap making. An Internet google search will provide you with a host of free CP (cold process) soaping recipes. Also, consider joining a soap making forum where soap savvy members are willing to share their soaping knowledge.

As far as what fragrances to use for masculine type soaps, hmmmm, let me think. I would suggest Evergreen Breeze, Spruce & Berries, Sandalwood, Teak & Sandalwood, Pear & Redwood, or Bay Rum. All of these are great men scents and can be purchased at My personal favorite is Spruce & Berries.

If you're looking to reproduce some of the neutral, masculine colored soaps pictured above, I suggest using liquid gel earthtone colors. They produce stable, non-bleeding colors in rich earthy tones. The 1/2 ounce 6-pack is a perfect testing size. Then, there are other earthy colors like tomato red or oriental mustard. All these colors lean toward a traditional male color palette.

Good Luck!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Flip Flops (a sidebar to previous post)

An absolute must for every handbag! Foldable flip flops. Just drop them in your bag for those emergency situations...

**You had an emergency pedicure and can't put your freshly polished toesies back into your pumps;

**You shopped all day and your feet are on fire;

**You danced all night and your feet are on fire;

**You wore your new Yves St. Laurent 5 “Tribute” platforms for two hours and your pieds sont flambĂ©es;

**What – you think I'm walking barefoot through that airport security line??

I love the whole concept. The bag and flip flops come in a number of colors. They even have bags that read "BRIDE" and "BRIDESMAID". A perfect gift to give to the gals in the bridal party when they're getting that bridal day pedicure.

Flip Flops... from Geek to Chic

Flip flops have definitely evolved. When I was a kid they were just a slab of rubbery foam with a V-shaped strap (like the pair pictured in blue). Today, the flip flop, or sometimes called the shoe thong, has morphed into high fashion. They are the footwear of choice for us working gals and guys. At our facility, it's the only thing we wear year round. Rain, sleet, sun, or snow, a pair of flip flops are always in tow or on our feet.

What is our love affiar with flip flops? For me, it is all about comfort. Having worked in the corporate world for many years, the dress code was strictly business suits and heels. No wonder my feet cry out for comfort. Flip flops allow my feet to breath, expand, and show off my pedicure.

So what has caused toe thong shoes to go from geek to chic? Perhaps it started when women abandoned pantyhose which in turn prompted a surge in nail salons and toe rings. Afterall, who wants to hide pretty feet? I have flip flops for every occasion. Some are cheap charlies, others more pricey (for those upscale, dressy events). Target and Wal-mart are my two favorite places to buy inexpensive, yet stylish flip flops. The plaid pair pictured below are from Target and retail for a mere $10.99.
I was amazed to find you can even purchase flip flops with add-on features like a bottle opener nestled in the sole of the sandal, or a place to store your credit card or cash while at the beach. Even, Oprah has her favorite flip flop pick which retail for $23 at (pictured below).

You may be wondering what flip flops have to do with soap making and why in the heck I'm posting a blurp about them. First, flip flops have nothing to do with soap making. Second, I want you to know that all orders shipped from GoPlanetEarth are processed by a bunch of fun-loving, flip flop wearing employees (owner included!). By the way, we sell a terrific bath size flip flop soap mold made by Mold Market. It's just one of the many cool molds we stock from this company.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hats Off to the folks at Alabama Soap Gathering

I can't say enough nice things about the Alabama Soap Meeting gang. Every year our company donates a great deal of product to soap gatherings. Without fail, it is the Alabama group that sends a personalized thank you letter once the gathering is over, which includes the hand written signatures of every attendee. I repeat handwritten, NOT copied. AND... it comes by mail, not email. Even better!!

Karen White does a fantastic job in making certain that every sponsor is recognized and appreciated for donations made. I wish other soap gathering committees would step-up to the plate and get as organized as this group. The only other gathering this year that has sent thanks to our company for donations (after the event) was the Arizona group. It is appreciated. It takes time and money for companies to put together goodie bag donations and door prizes. For the most part, there is no acknowledgment that the product was received much less given away. Placing a banner on the gathering web site is great, but a personalized thank you is still proper etiquette. If someone gives a wedding gift, it's acknowledged by sending a thank you note. Whenever you receive a gift or donation of any kind, you send a thank you. Maybe I'm from the old school, but I'm beginning to sense that these gathering committees have come to "expect" supplier donations and we suppliers have promoted that expectation (at least in my opinion) because we willingly send off free stuff without question or concern.

In the past, GoPlanetEarth has donated gift certificates of generous value to gatherings only to find they are never used. I have spoken with other major soap suppliers about this issue, they too find that donated gift certificates go unused. Where in the heck do they go? Who wouldn't take advantage of free soaping product? It baffles me; OK, it also slightly irritates me that someone wouldn't use a gift certificate. Our site is extensive and I find it hard to believe you couldn't find something useful.

Next year, I will be changing our polices for donated product. We are inundated with requests for gathering donations and the list continues to grow. I'm finding its time to rethink how it all works. Especially when there is little thanks from gathering planning committees once an event takes place. It would be nice to know how the event went, was it successful, how many attendees, etc. It's not just the issue of receiving a written thanks, it's the disorganized manner that these gatherings are soliciting product. Just this week I received a second email request from a (major) gathering soliciting donations. Our company had already sent donations over 45 days ago (to the tune of over $5oo). It's a bit perplexing to think that the planning committee didn't even know they had received the product.

Anyway, I will be rethinking how I want to handle gathering donations for next year. Between my two companies, we donate a substantial amount of product every year.

Adventures of Whipped Soap (Soap Frosting)

Whipped Soap Frosting
Thanks to a fellow soaper friend from Australia who kindly granted permission to share some photos of "Whipped Soaps", also known as soap frosting. It's not often someone is willing to divulge their soaping secrets, so bravo to my soap friend Terry! I have no doubt that whipped soap will challenge your soaping abilities and stretch your artistic talents to new heights. Terry is the PRO of whipped soap and willing to offer assistance should you decide to give it a try.

Soap made with whipped soap frosting
The purple basket weave soap was decorated with whipped soap using just a basic round circle colored in blue. Amazing!! A great tutorial, including several recipes, can be found at Terry's website. Below is a photo of what whipped soap looks like.

What whipped soap looks like

Gingerbread house made from soap
Also, take a look at this incredible gingerbread house made from soap. Yes, you read it right, soap.
The project started when a few other soapers put out a challenge to discover creative ways to used re-batched soap. Terry decided on a gingerbread house even though there was no logical way to use the soap. Of course, I don't see anything practical about an eatable gingerbread house, either. Do you know anyone who has actually eaten one? Yuck!! Anyway, I love the whole gingerbread soap idea!! Find out how it was done here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Neat little flowerpot cakes... from Martha

Flower Pot Cake
A while back, I came across a neat recipe on the Martha Stewart web site. I remember thinking that the little pebbble candies looked so real that it was hard to believe they were candy. At some point I surfed the web endlessly looking to find these candies at a reasonable price. I was determined to make some of these clever looking cakes in the near future. My web search was a success and I found the candy pebbles at for just $9.99 for a 5-lb. bag. A much better price than the place Martha recommended at $8.00 per pound.

Rock Pebble Candy
Sadly, once these sweet little pebbles were delivered to my doorstep they became forever lost in my pantry. I just never seemed to find the time or the event to feature these tasty little cakes. That is until this weekend.

Finally ... the time and an event! I served the cakes at a cook-out we hosted. They were a hit from the get-go. Instead of a mint sprig on top of the cake, I used an edible flower (carnations). I wish now that I had taken pictures as they really were quite attractive. As for the candy pebbles; well, everyone raved about them, but no one actually ate them. I did try a few. They tasted like jelly beans which is my least favorite candy. Still, they definitely added a realistic touch to the flower pot cake. It was a fun dessert. As for the cake, absolutely delicious!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Generic Print Cartridges, Not such a Bargain

With 3 color laser printers throughout the office, we go through a good number of print cartridges each month. In an effort to cut costs, I decided to try the generic brand for our printers (which all happen to be HP). I immediately started calculating how much I could save over the course of a year by using generic cartridges. It was a substantial amount ($20 x 4 cartridges per each printer was close to $1500 a year saving).

Well, the print cartridges arrived and apart from the generic box they looked pretty much like the HP brand. But, and this is a big BUT, the quality of the product and the manufacturer's concern for recyling didn't fair well.

The HP brand includes a pre-paid UPS or Postal mailing label for returning used cartridges for proper disposal. A big plus in my mind since many of our local recyling centers don't recycle this type of product. The generic brand didn't include this option or even a mailing address where we might send the cartridge for recyling should we want to pay the shipping. As far quality, on a scale 1-10, the generic brand scored a 5. I spent at least 30 minutes just trying to get one of the generic replacement cartridges to print properly. A portion of the cartridge broke during insertion and I had to rig it to work. My time and frustration wasn't worth the savings. Also, when I factor in that our local Staples store delivers for free, well, need I say more?

Unfortunately, returning the generic cartridges wasn't an option. Our staff was desparate to print and we didn't have time to wait for replacement HP product. It was just another reminder that you get what you pay for. From here on out, I will buy only name brand print cartridges. You would think that I would learn. It wasn't that long ago that I tried generic brand cartridges for our two fax machines. Same issues. It was a nightmare and I ended up ordering the branded product.

So, the next time a customer emails about the pricing of products on our web site, I will point them to this blog post. "You get what you pay for!" If you order a $2.50 mold, that's what you get. If you order a $7.50 mold.... you get better quality, durability, and a longer life cycle.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New to Soap Making? Here's help!

Just this morning, I received an email from a customer that read:

"Started to place an order but do not know what to order. This is the first try. What all would I need to make soap? Realized that I should not order without some kind of direction."

I often forget that some of my customers are truly "green" about soap making and have absolutely no idea on how to get started (what I endearingly call "greenbies"). So, this blog post is for all of you greenbies. It's the same info sent to my customer. It provides you with the links to materials needed to get started. We include an instruction sheet with our soap bases which is ideal for beginner's. And, don't forget, we are only an email or phone call away. If you get stuck, we're here for yah'!

2-lb clear and 2-lb white soapbase

Neon Color 6-pack

2-3 fragrances of your choice

Soap molds, I recommend the Mold Market brand. They are durable and well-made. However, any of our molds will work.

That's pretty much it. You can use a large glass measuring cup to melt your soap (the larger 4-6 cup size works best). Just cut the soap into smaller chunks and melt what you need. Color and scent as given in the directions included. Pour in molds, let set up, and pop out! Once you get the hang of it, you can try other advanced techniques, like our Soap Curl Kit, or Loaf Soap Kit.

NOTE: When coloring white and clear base you get two entirely different color shades. Example: You will never turn white soap red no matter how much red color you add. It will always be pink. Add red to clear base and BINGO BABY, you've got red. Using orange in white soap base gives a cantaloupe melon color, but in clear base you get a true orange.

Make sure you wrap your finished melt and pour soaps. If you don't, you may end up with what is called"glycerin dew" on the surface of the finished soaps. Glycerin dew is little beads of water that form as the glycerin extracts moisture from the air. It doesn't hurt the soap, but it isn't exactly pretty. What do I use to wrap soaps? Well, my favorite is the Saran brand of stretch wrap (the red box, not the blue box). Tear off or cut the size needed for your soap. Stretch wrap over the face of soap and pull edges towards the back. Tape or put a label over the stretched ends. The beauty of stretch wrap is you can still smell the scented soap.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Tribute

My Wonderul, Heroic Dad
Today is Father's Day and I'm off to my parent's house for a BBQ with my sister and her family. We're cooking organic burgers, having grilled corn on the cob, homemade potato salad (made by my husband, and it's the best!!), and Southern style ice tea. The weather is sunny, humid, and perfect for an outdoor picnic. We plan to play some suffleboard (my parent's have their own court), a few games of Sequence (my Mom's favorite!), and a game or two of Phase 10.

This Father's Day is extra special to me. My Dad (pictured with my mon) is battling prostate/bone cancer. I honestly wasn't sure he would be here this year to celebrate this day. I am grateful and overjoyed that he's made it another year. He's gaining strength and his PSA level has dropped 24 points since he finished his radiation treatments. Today, I celebrate not only my Dad and his ongoing legacy of love, but also pay tribute to other Fathers battling cancer. I pray you have the same family support my Dad has had through this illness.

It seems the darkness of cancer is overshadowing all of our lives in one way or another. I HATE this disease. I've watched its devastating effects and mourned the loss of 4 close family members to this disease within the last 2 years. Even now, I watch it ravage and debiltate my Dad's body. If that's not enough, I watch a cousin (breast cancer, single mastectomy) and a close friend (breast cancer, double mastectomy) suffer the after effects of this disease. Thankfully, they are survivors, but it summons every ounce of their strength in this ongoing battle.

On this Father's Day, I say to my Dad...

"I love you! Every daughter should be fortunate enough to have a role model like you. You live your life by example, and it doesn't go unoticed. Integrity, morality, generosity, kindness, love and so much more; I've learned by watching you. For years, you have been the wind beneath MY wings, and now, as you battle this horrific disease, I feel honored to be the wind beneath YOUR wings. Happy Father's Day to my heroic dad."

Friday, June 15, 2007

No kidding, an owner who takes customer calls?

As the owner of GoPlanetEarth, many customers are surprised when I answer the phone. I certainly have employees willing to take calls, but their knowledge of soap making and/or product use is somewhat limited and the calls end up being forwarded to me. This is not to imply my employees aren't adept at what they are hired to do. Without doubt, they are the BEST at packing, keying orders, processing UPS labels, taking inventory, and pulling orders. However, many new employees haven't acquired enough soap making knowledge to answer customer questions without assistance. So, for all practical purposes, I am the best candidate to take customer phone calls. I'm not available 100% of the time, but I sure do my best to pick-up the phone whenever possible. And based on customer feedback, I return calls in record time.

I believe it is important for customers to be able to speak to the person in-charge. Many online companies run phone calls through a customer service department which generally ends up with transferred calls, or worse yet, having your call forwarded to the voice mail of someone who may or may not be able to help. On a personal level, I find it absolutely frustrating.

The plus side of answering company phone calls: It's fun to chit-chat with customers and get to know them on a more personal level. Their feedback helps improve company operations. Of course, there are always those few who tend to monopolize your time and chat endlessly. You quickly learn to gracefully disengage from the conversation (otherwise, you will be on the phone for hours and get nothing accomplished). There are also phone customers that I call "Fishers". They are forever fishing for information with no plans to ever order. Occasionally these "Fishers" do place an order. It's usually for $5 and takes us 45 minutes to finalize the order. You quickly learn to identify these customer types. {Sorry, we just don't have enough time in our day to provide this level of customer service. If I, or my staff, took that amount of time on every order, our company would be bankrupt!!}

We live in an age of automated service. A "real person" answering phone lines is the exception. I want my customers to know that I will continue to personally answer phone lines, assist with product questions, and help you grow your business. Let's face it, without you, I wouldn't be in business. I'm convinced that our company's commitment to great service and products is what makes each of you a repeat customer. I am no different than you, I have a mortgage to pay, a gas tank to fill, and groceries to buy. That's a pretty good reason to make sure we're doing things RIGHT!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Students turn used oil into soap

Recycled Cooking Oil
Two Singapore engineering students saw waste as an opportunity. As part of a research project, they were determined to find a way to purify used cooking oil into a useful and environmentally-friendly product. After much tinkering, they have succeeded. They are using the purified oil to make a simple and indispensable product: SOAP.

The soap was recently tested for use as a jantorial cleaning product. It was distributed to school canteen vendors who claimed it worked, but it didn't smell so great. The pair went back to the drawing board and came up with an improved version that include fruit scents like peach. After graduation, these two inventive students plan to continue with their research. They want to develop a soap for use on the skin. Right now the texture of the soap is too harsh for skin use. Once they've fine tuned the process, they also hope to patent it. Who knows, in the near future you could be making your soaps with the help of recycled cooking oils.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Remember Dick, Jane and Spot? Well, this is a whole new Jane. It's Jane at work!

If you happen to fall within my age group, learning to read was all about Dick, Jane and Spot books. "Look Dick, see Jane Run." Well, Jane is all grown up now and she's a working girl. See Jane Work is a company totally devoted to supplying office products that are fun and stylish, but also affordable and practical with fashionable high-end asthetics. One of my California customers, Jack, turned me on to these deliciously color-coordinated office products. While chatting by phone, I learned that Jack's wife was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It wasn't long before our conversation took a U-turn from the topic of soap making. Partly because my husband attended Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti (a neighboring community of Ann Arbor) and the fact that we live just minutes from Ann Arbor. While talking, Jack casually spoke of his friend Holly Bohn, owner of

The products offered sounded really cool and my interest was peaked. After hanging up with Jack, I paid a vist to Holly's web site. It's awesome and I confess to being a new fan. I will be placing an order soon. The only down side is that the web pages seemed to take an incredibly long time to load. Not sure why as I have a very high speed internet connection.

Slow loading pages were easily forgiven once I discovered that this store can help turn a chaotic work station into a stylish, uncluttered and groovin' work zone. See Jane Work is all about banishing ugly office accessories and helping us girls get organized and stay organized...and all with pizzzaazzz! Scented erasers, task paper clips, memo mouse pads, some absolutely "kick-butt" file folders, clear stapler with fancy staples (sure beats that ugly tan or black one sitting on your desk, come'on, you know you have one), and some truly hip letter trays that just scream with color.

Even if you're not looking to purchase office supplies, you've gotta at least drop by this site to browse. I've already bookmarked several gift items for Christmas stocking stuffers, graduation gifts, my nieces birthdays... things like Smencils (smelly pencils), journals, cool luggage tags and CD cases. All very affordable and items that could be incorporated into a gift basket that ROCKS!!

Thanks, Jack, for turning me on to this wonderful site.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's Absolutely NUTS!! Detergent that grows on a tree?

Soap Nuts
As strange as it sounds these "Soap Nuts" really do grow on trees. The small brown nuts are the dried fruit of soapberry trees indigenous to Southeast Asia. The nut shell contains saponin which acts as a natural, low-sudsing detergent.

Place 3-5 nuts into the small linen bag (which is included in the box) and drop into your washer. The water temperature of your wash load determines the number of nuts needed. Directions suggest 2-4 for a warm water wash, and 4-5 for a cold water wash. The nuts can be used a number of times before discarding. That's good because the price is $10 for a regular box (20 loads), $19 for the family size (50 loads). The soap nuts are less harsh than detergent resulting in softer clothes without the use of a fabric softner. Not having to purchase fabric softener helps reduce the overall cost.

If you're looking to replace your laboratory detergents and softeners with something all-natural, 100% bio-degradable, and safe for sensitive skin, this just might be the ticket! I haven't tried them yet, but I plan to. I'll let you know how they work.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Why I Love the State of Michigan

In the past few years, my husband and I have repeatedly pondered why we should continue to live in Michigan. It's no secret that Michigan's economy is very depressed (O.K, it's the pits!). We may be home to the Big Three auto makers, but global competition has certainly taken a bite out of the automotive industry and our state's economy has suffered terribly. With 336,000 job losses since mid-2000 and an expected 33,000 more in the next two years.... well, you get the doesn't look too promising.

Yet, I still reside here and for a number of good reasons. At the top of the list are my grandkids. They live within 2 miles of me and I get to see them several times a week. Apart from family, there are other reasons why I find it hard to part ways with my home state.

1) Michigan ranks #1 in the nation for public golf courses. My husband and I love golf. We travel often, and still find Michigan golf courses are some of the best we've played.

2) Michigan has over 11,000 fresh water lakes, and is surrounded by 4 Great Lakes: Huron, Superior, Erie, and Lake Michigan. There are 10 lakes just within 1/4 to 3 miles of our residence. No wonder Michigan is dubbed a Water Wonderland.

3) Over 115 historic shoreline lighthouses.

4) Over 3288 miles of shoreline. More than the entire Eastern coastline of the US.

5) Mackinac Island's Murdick Fudge. Fudge also has a traditional and delicious place in the hearts and mouths of Michiganians. Over a hundred years ago, on Mackinac Island, Murdick's Candy Kitchen started making fudge. Since that time fudge has sprung into a huge industry on that beautiful island, beloved to honeymooners and other romantics in the warmer weather. Now fudge is available year-round all over the state.

6) Mackinac Island. It is the truly "all natural" theme park of America. Limited to transportation of horse and buggy, bicycle or foot, surrounded by water, it has escaped the vast changes of time. Its real Victorian image is preserved and enhanced by a small population of 500 permanent residents and scores of summer residents, maintaining bluff cottages in original state.

7) Detorit Red Wings (hockey) and Detroit Pistons (basketball). They rock!! Also, our good ole' Detroit Tigers have been playing some awesome ball. And, of course, GO BLUE!!! Our U of M football team is the best (yes, I'm a Wolverine fan...NOT a Spartan fan). Tailgate parties, whether in college parking lots or in front of our own TV, certainly brings a sense of fanfare to Michigan's college football season.

8) Climate. Michigan's climate may not be Hawaii's, but the diverse climate and the unique effects of the Great Lakes create an amazing profusion of agricultural products -- more than 125 of them. When you bite into that delicious chocolate-covered cherry, find a flowering cyclamen delivered to you at the doorstep, or open a chilled bottle of Michigan wine ... you'll be glad you're here. Besides that, the state's blustery February cold makes for good snuggling weather. Winter photo by Al Hyams.

9) Detroit's Annual Jazz Festival. Every year there's an incredible line-up of jazz all-stars. For 28 years, the Detroit International Jazz Festival has attracted visitors and locals to an end of summer ritual on Labor Day Weekend that celebrates one of America’s most important art forms. The festival boasts 6 stages and 100 acts over four days in a city well known for its musical legacy.

10) MOTOWN BABY!!!! Home to the Temptations, Supremes, Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Five, Lionel Ritchie.... and on and on. Motown is forever remembered for the music it created during the 1960s that was heard on radios in automobiles as teenagers cruised the streets and highways. Never in history has one company produced so many top ten hits as Motown did during that marvelous decade.

Freeze it, Chill it, Jiggle it... Bath Jelly

While on business in downtown Portland, I came across a lovely boutique store selling Jelly Bath. It's exactly what it sounds like--a bath additive that thickens the water to a consistency something like half-set jello. The maker claims it to be as cozy as a "bath blanket" that keeps bath water warm for up to 2 1/2 hours. It should at $24 per soak. Each bath comes with a package of Jelly Bath dissolver. This product is unique to the US market. I must admit, I did find it just a bit odd that you have to click a pop up box acknowledging the company's patent rights before being allowed to enter the online store.

If you aren't willing to fork out the bucks for the upscale version of Jelly Bath, try making your own gelonious mixture. It's easy to make and a great summertime project to do with kids or grandkids.

The next hot, sticky summer day when all you want to do is chill out in the shower or tub, reach into your fridge for some nice cool bath jelly. With the below recipe, you can scoop it out and toss into running water, paint the tub (or yourself), glob onto a scrunchie or washcloth and yes, even bathe with it.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup melted transparent melt and pour soap (available from You can also substitute the melt and pour for a liquid shower gel or bubble bath.

2 cups boiling water

1 envelope Knox brand unflavored gelatin

1/2 oz Germaben II (a preservative that prevents mold and available from many online supply companies). Only needed if you won't be using the bath jelly within a few weeks. A couple teaspoons of Vodka (yes, the kind you drink) will also help prevent mold and can be used instead of Germaben II.

1/4 to 1/2 ounce fragrance oil (available from

Water based soap color (available from

Several small containers, like empty yogurt containers, or plastic baby food tubs. I love the plastic baby food containers because they are clear (with no label) and have snap-on lids.

This receipe will make approximately 16 ounces of bath jelly. For firmer Jelly that you can slice, add 1 additional packet of gelatin to the above ingredients. Sliced jelly soap pictured below. I poured the gelatin/soap mixuture into a Mold Market tray mold, let set up and then gently removed from tray with a plastic spatula. The tray is scored for easy cutting.


1) In a bowl, add gelatin to boiling water. Slowly (and I mean slowly; you don't want to create a bunch of foam) stir until completely dissolved.

2) Set the gelatin/water mixture aside. Using a glass measuring cup, melt the soap base on a low setting in the microwave. Be careful not to overheat.

3) Allow melted soap to cool down a bit before adding fragrance and color.

4) Pour melted soap into the gelatin/water mixture. Stir slowly and gently.

5) Pour mixture into clean containers. Allow to set up in fridge until firm (3-5 hours).

6) Store any unused bath jelly in the fridge until ready to use. Like any gelatin, it will melt if stored at room temp.

NOTE: You can revise this recipe using liquid soap or bubble bath. Substitute 1/2 cup clear shower gel or bubble bath for the melt and our soap and reduce boiling water to 3/4 cups.


~~ Add a vinyl fish for an aquarium look

~~ Suspend small toys in the jelly

~~ Add
bath confetti to the jelly mixture

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cool, Fun Things for the Bathroom

Glass Bath Tub Certainly not a bathtub within my budget, but worthy of being on my wish list. I love the clean, contempory design coupled with the feng shui concept of achieving harmony with the environment. It can be found at Omvivo. The site doesn't list prices, so what does that tell you? I'm thinkin' it's only affordable to the rich and famous. and guessing it's price tag nears that of a down payment on a home.

Talking TP. I'm thinking this could be great fun at a party. Record (and re-record) a message, music or sound and then have it automatically play back. The recording device is built into a spindle that fits inside a roll of toilet paper (and fits all holders and toilet paper rolls) so that every time the toilet paper "rolls," the recording is played! Available at the Prank Place.

No kidding! You can advertise your business on TP. No doubt you will have a captive audience. Just Toilet imprints your artwork or message on toilet paper for around $2.35 a roll (one color). The minimum order is a little steep though, 5000 rolls. It could take an awfully long time to dispose of 5000 rolls of TP based on Sheryl Crow's suggested TP limitations.

Dirty face soap. Another "just for fun" bathroom item. Looks like real soap until you lather up. The lather turns your hands and face black. Available at Gag Works.

iPod Dock Toilet Paper Holder. No joke, you can now enjoy great tunes from your iPod while "on the throne." Available from Hmmm, graduations are coming up. Possibly a gift for that niece or nephew heading off to college. Maybe I could even include a few rolls of colored toilet paper from Specialty Toilet

Colored Toilet Paper

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Confessions of a Business Control Freak

As a business owner, I must entrust daily business operations to my employees (especially if I ever want a vacation or time off). In my early business years, I struggled with control issues. I was consumed with the fear that things just wouldn't operate efficiently and productively if I wasn't there to oversee every detail. Of course, it didn't take long to realize this was a poor managment strategy. It was my daughter who finally sat me down and kindly (well, maybe she wasn't that kind) pointed out that I working myself into an early grave. Throughout that conversation, I kicked, screamed, and came up with every excuse in the book for why I needed to be in charge and in control of every aspect of the business. I begrudgingly resolved to change. Over the course of the next year I gradually began to relinquish and delegate more and more duties to my employees. I'm a much happier person as a result of it and my employees have blossomed into loyal, confident and take-charge workers. I learned a few things in the process that might help other Business Control Freaks.

***Allow employees to be in-charge even when you're not around. When you clearly state your expectations and what needs to be done, you will be surprised at how often your employees will pull together to get the job done.

***Don't solve all your employee's problems. Believe it or not, they like when you engage them as a team to work toward a resolution when challenges arise. Initially they may be intimidated and feel incapable of making the right decision or seeking out a resolution. With encouragement you'll find they soon become motivated by the challenge. My own employees, without fail, have proven they can make good choices and become very creative when faced with a challenge. I still chuckle about the time I was away on business and my employees couldn't get the office key to work. They knew they couldn't be locked out for an entire week and remembered we always leave one office window unlocked. It's 10 feet from the ground and not easily assessible which is why we never bother locking it. Scouting out a ladder someone climbed through the window to unlock the door. God love 'em.

***Employees will mimic your behavior and react to situations within the business based on how you react. If you consistenlty demonstrate honesty, kindness, understanding and integrity in all your business dealings, so will your employees.

***Most employers assume that employees should know how to take initiative and determine what's in the best interest of the company, when in reality such perspective comes from much discussion, learning and involvement of all employees. Set aside time to meet with employees on a regular basis to define your expectations and company goals. At GoPlanetEarth we do this at least once a month. We order in lunch and have a "pow-wow" meeting where we brainstorm, vent, and share information.

***Notice and recognize employees when they take initiative. If you want to see the behavior repeated you need to notice and thank employees when they make an extra effort or do something that needed to be done without being asked.

***Do not focus exclusively on employee mistakes. Look for the bigger picture of their intent, their learning and their growth as an employee. Criticism may bring compliance but can also impart resentment. As a business owner, there are times you must reprimand or counsel an employee about job related issues. Just be careful that it's done in a non-accusatory manner.

***Let employees find the best way to get their work done and support them whenever they offer a better way to do the job or a solution to problems that occur during the work day. My own employees have come up with some of the most brilliant ideas on streamlining day to day operations. Who better to come up with ideas than those doing the job.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Don't be Fooled.... It's SOAP!!!

Once again, I am awestruck at the ingenious, creative ways individuals find to elevate soap to an art form. In this case, a culinary art form (OK, you can't eat it, but it sure looks like the real thing).

Carolyn and Selena Shillito are a mother and daughter team in Australia who make exquisite cake and cupcake soaps. Each soap is individually handmade in their home kitchen. I can't even begin to guess how long it takes to make just one let alone an entire cupcake tray. Take a peek at their web site, you'll be amazed at their work. I'm certain they're not willing to divulge a cupcake how-to; but, should they ever offer an online class, I'll be the first to sign up.

There are other talented cupcake soap divas right here in our own neck of the woods (pictured below). I sure hope this post offers inspiration and gives food for thought (no pun intended) on what you (yes, YOU) can do with soap.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Toilet Paper Wedding Gown

The 2007 toilet paper wedding gown contest is underway, So, get out your toilet paper and let the good times roll! It runs from May 1 to July 31, 2007. Pictured above is last year's winning gown. Yes, believe it or not, the entire gown is made of toilet tissue. Watch out Vera Wang.

Why spend 2K on an expensive gown when you can just TP yourself in 2-ply? Grab your friends, your toilet paper and a digital camera and get creative. You can use tape or glue as well. You can look Charmin in your couture-esque gown and pocket $500 if you win. See the official rules for all of the details.

Hey, I found just the right toilet paper, too. What better than a bride and groom imprint for that (hopefully) once in a lifetime walk down the isle.

Hmmm, Vibrating Soap....??

I stumbled upon vibrating soap quite by accident. I was immediately intrigued by this absurd, but interesting bar of soap. It seems you can achieve that perfect lather without ever having to move your soap manually. The logical question is why would you want to do that? I don't have the answer. But this unique vibrating soap is being marketed as "your ticket to bath time bliss".

The soap has an electronic vibrating function placed deep inside the soap itself. To use, you simply lift the soap off the holder and voila! It switches into vibrating mode ready to be used. When you've finished with this auto wash soap, simply put it back on the holder and the vibrations will automatically stop. Sounds crazy, but the vibrating soap really does work like a dream. I recently purchased a bar for my 4-year old grandson at Kids I laughed till I cried as I watched his little hands try to hold onto this vibrating bar of lather. The more it became soaked with water, the harder I laughed.

What's my take on this lazy person's bar of soap:

Perfect gift for that "hard-to-buy-for-has-everything" person;

great gag gift;

definitely NOT a gift to give to someone you've just started dating;

incorporate it into a centerpiece at your next party...guaranteed to jump-start lifeless dinner conversation