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Summer's End....


....and the unofficial start of autumn


This coming weekend is Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, and the other bookend to Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer here in the U.S. Too early in my neck of the woods for the leaves to start to change--despite rumors to the contrary, we DO have seasons here in Southern California, but you gotta know what to look for, and look quick before it's gone!

This is the time of year when we have to head in from the beach and go back to schools and regular routines. It's a time of beginnings of sorts-a fresh start for kids in school and their parents who are there to support them. This is the time when I gear up for what's ahead: just around the corner is Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day-whew! A tiny break and then it's spring cleaning and gardening (aka: weeding) and sports practice. And the light at the end of the tunnel is next summer, with its lazy, hot days and the relief from mad schedules.

Still, the light begins to lengthen in the evenings a little earlier and by the end of September, we can begin to look forward to cooler days ahead. (as I write that last sentence, my air conditioner kicked on at 9:00 in the morning! It's gonna be hot....) I love autumn, and most of my friends do too. Maybe it's because we love to cook, and once that summer heat settles down we can turn on our ovens and throw together our soups and stews to simmer for hours on the stove.

Now that I'm a soapmaker, I have new reasons to look forward to this season-fall soaps! It's one time of the year that I can really get behind the scents and fun colors and shapes of the holidays ahead. As a soapmaker, you have to be ahead of things because of the cure time involved. I'm about finished with my autumn and Halloween soaps, and will be starting Christmas soaps in the next couple of weeks.


This creamy yellow and black soap is called Day of the Dead, named after the fragrance I used. It's also colored with Brazilian yellow clay and activated charcoal, part of my new line of botanically inspired soaps. I love the bright colors brought by micas and pigments, but sometimes less is more, and the subtlety of natural colorants is very soothing I think. The process is definitely more complicated, and you never quite know what you're going to get!


As an example, I infused some oil yesterday with a few of my new natural colorants. Annatto seed, safflower powder and madder root are hopefully doing a good job of imparting their beautiful colors into my olive oil. I'll use this oil as part of my formula to make colored soap. I've already played with indigo as well, with mixed results. There are so many factors affecting color! The oils will wait at least another week in a dark cupboard before I use them. Slow....but worth it when it turns out right.

In the meantime, I'm busy with getting our house and new deck ready for our Labor Day BBQ this weekend. This year's gathering is also a bittersweet send off for our eldest son, who is going off to college soon. He'll be just far enough away to make it hard to see him any time other than the holidays, which is I think what he wanted but definitely still hard for this mom! Still, I know he's ready for this, and I'm excited for him as he heads out to make his way in the big wide world. New beginnings, indeed....

In Grace and Peace,

Vanessa

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