Tag Archives: lavender

A Galloping Happy New Year of the Horse!

Based on the Gregorian Calendar, we are well into the New Year of 2014.  But based on the Chinese Calendar, New Year is still on January 31. My family does not exactly celebrate Chinese New Year, although it gives us an excuse to have a Chinese meal together, but am taking advantage of this calendar difference to bring out the soaps from 2013 that I was not able to blog about.

I like using this blog to document the soaps I’ve made, because knowing me, I won’t be able to remember many things.  Moreover, it’s interesting to be able to look back and see any progress I’ve made, and the colour/design/scent phases I went through.

Here are most of the soaps that I had taken photos of, but that missed last year’s blog train. Some of them look similar and have common scent components, like the Lavenders and Green Teas.  The second version of the Kumquat & Lavender is supposed to be orange and purple, but the orange came out yellow instead. All of them smell great except for the 2 prettiest, in my opinion. Midsummer Night smells fresh and green out of the bottle, but in cured soap it reminds me of dirty laundry soaking in soapy water. I love the look of the Sandalwood Musk, even as it eventually darkened to a light tan, but I think it smells like an old lady.

Kumquat and Lavender, version 1

Kumquat and Lavender, version 1

Kumquat and Lavender, version 2

Kumquat and Lavender, version 2

Lavender and Lemon

Lavender and Lemon

Lavender Green Tea

Lavender Green Tea

Sweet Pea and Green Tea

Sweet Pea and Green Tea

Lavender Mist

Lavender Mist

Midsummer Night

Midsummer Night

Flamenco

Flamenco

Almond Joy

Almond Joy

Peach Sunset

Peach Sunset

Scarlet

Scarlet

Sandalwood Musk

Sandalwood Musk

Happy Lunar New Year to all of you! Thank you so much for taking time to read my blog and leave comments. You’ve all been so helpful, inspiring and encouraging, making my soapy journey so much more fun and meaningful.  May the Year of the Horse bring all of us galloping love, happiness and success! 🙂

Tripping Out in Old Taipei

Last April, my husband and I took advantage of a buy one, take one airfare promo, and booked it around October 13, our wedding anniversary.  We wanted somewhere near, so we picked the nearest capital city, Taipei, which is just 2 hours away from Manila.  Hubby has never been to Taiwan and the last time I was there was in the early 1990s.

On our second day there, as I was researching on how to go to the fabric market, I read about Dihua Street, the oldest street in Taipei, and an important commercial hub for Taiwanese products such as medicinal herbs, teas, specialty food, textiles, etc.  This really piqued my interest, plus the fabric market was in the same area.

Oh boy! I really tripped out when I saw all the goods laid out in abundance inside the shops with more displays spilling out onto the building’s covered walkway. All I could think of were “soapabilities”.  Poor hubby, there really was nothing there of interest to him, but he patiently waited.

Here are snapshots of Dihua Street and its shops:

Dihua Street

Dihua Street

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Sunday afternoon shopping in Dihua.

Rose Tea

Dried rosebuds for tea

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Up-close, simply gorgeous.

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Dried shiitake mushrooms

Sadly, shark's fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Sadly, shark’s fin is still widely sold in Taiwan.

Ta-dah…….my Dihua haul:

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L to R: sweet osmanthus, calendula, mixed floral tea

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Lavender and chamomile

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L to R: powdered black sesame, black bean (but it’s not black), Job’s Tears

Still not satisfied, I had to go back again. This time I came a bit more prepared and researched on the items that I saw but were unfamiliar to me, and looked up the Chinese names of things I wanted to get, like stinging nettle, which I found! I still have to show my haul to my mom to make sure I have what I think I got. She can read and write fluent Chinese, but regrettably I don’t.

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

Clockwise from top left: mung bean powder, mugwort, roselle, stinging nettle, rose, brown rice powder

In popular stores in the city, I saw a lot of imported French soaps, including the large cube-shaped Marseille soaps that I had previously seen in photos only. Of the local handmade soaps, Monga Soap was the one that stood out and what I kept on seeing. From their brochure, these are some of the medicinal ingredients they use in their soaps: Asian puccoon, roots of Chinese Angelica, leguminosae, ginkgo leaves, pearl powder, polygonum multiflorum, absinthium, pogostemon cablin benth, etc. I still have to research on these things as I am not familiar with most of them.

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Monga: all-natural Taiwanese handmade soap

There would be something amiss if I didn’t make any mention of the fantastic eats in Taiwan. It is truly a foodie’s paradise where you can find practically anything and everything. We stuck to Asian cuisines, mostly Taiwanese, except for European desserts which are very popular there. When traveling, we always try to do as the Romans do. 🙂 Here are a few of the dishes I was able to take photos of:

Din Tai Fung's famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with "soup" inside)

Din Tai Fung’s famous xiao long bao (steamed pork dumplings with “soup” inside)

Din Tai Fung's wonton soup

Din Tai Fung’s wonton soup

Du Hsiao Yueh's scallops with silken tofu

Du Hsiao Yueh’s scallops with silken tofu

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Shaved mango ice with fresh mangoes, mango ice cream and milk pudding from IceSquare Snowflakes

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea millefeuille

Vanilla panna cotta and green tea mille-feuille from Pozzo Bakery

Lavender Soap for M.I.L.

When I just started making soap, I gave my mother-in-law some of the stuff I made, and one of them was a chrysanthemum-shaped unscented oatmeal and milk soap. Because she was so enamored by the design, I made a new batch for her, this time with her favorite scent, lavender. I adjusted the recipe by using olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, castor oil, cocoa butter and grapeseed oil. I also used powdered milk to see if it makes a difference from using fresh milk.

lavender soap for MIL

I actually wanted to gel this soap (I don’t mind a darker color), so I covered it with a box and draped a thick towel over it. It didn’t happen, but instead, I got a beautiful creamy white color. After 3 days, the soaps would not release cleanly from the silicone mold, so I had to freeze them for an hour before I got to unmold them perfectly.