Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How It All Began

Prompted by a friend's question, I have been thinking a lot lately about what brought me to soap making and why I love it so much.

10 years ago, when I was finishing my degree in chemistry and biology, I started making lip balms, body butters and other bath products for personal use.  Books on the subject were not easy to find and the internet was pretty much nonexistent for me at the time.  Supplies were also difficult to find but a local health food store carried a small amount of beeswax, oils and butters.  I remember finding a book on soapmaking in a second hand bookstore.  By flipping through the pages of that book, I could imagine the stuff I could make if only I could find lye.  Lye was not easy to come by and I have to admit the process was a wee bit intimidating.  So my dreams of making my own soap lay dormant for many years until recently.

I keep thinking about it and I realize my journey to soap making did not begin ten years ago.  I think it actually began when I was a small girl.  You see, I was the little girl who loved to make concoctions (LOVE that word).  Unfortunately for my mother, that often involved her make-up and shampoos and whatever else I could find in a bottle.  I loved squeezing toothpaste out of its tube.  I loved watching a stream of shampoo as it poured out of its bottle.  And I loved using my hands to mix this shampoo with its matching conditioner or a hand lotion or a powder.  Mom, you knew I did this, right? Or have I unknowingly committed to something that was better left unknown. (Well, I know that you know about the time that I poured your make-up out the upstairs window because you caught me.  Keegan got revenge for you when he was two years old and he smeared a bottle of cream all over my bed.  I didn't get mad.  I know karma when I meet it.)  My experiments did not include only cosmetic products.  I liked paints, glue and don't even get me started on mud.  My mud pie adventures deserve a post all to themselves.


A couple of years ago I was reading something (blog, magazine, book).  I wish I could remember what I was reading so I could give the author credit.  The gist of it was that often, what makes a person happy as an adult is what made them happy when they were 5 years old.  That thought has stayed with me as I watch my two boys grow up and discover themselves.  It returns to me as I consider what seems to make me really happy as a 40 year  old woman -- mixing and pouring but with less of a nuisance factor involved.  I hope.


  1. thank you for sharing. Now, I have to try to remember what made me happy when I was 5. Oh, I know. Being outside. Living on our farm. Hmmmm.

  2. What a great concept, I love the idea of happiness being deeply based in childhood. You have been on a great adventure :-)

  3. And I thought I couldn't like your soaps any more than I do! The back story makes it all the better. Adore your path. Now I'll be considering when I was five. . . :)

  4. Enjoyable post Tara...I had one of those mixing, pouring, concocting kids (he's now a man) hmmmm...wonder what exactly his future holds!!

  5. I agree with that concept wholeheartedly! Congrats on finding your bliss.

  6. tara! you've exactly the same flower we spotted a few hikes back, but could not identify -- do you know the name of that lovely yellow number, second photo down? we have it here also. it's a beauty.

    also, we're lovers of concoctions around here, also -- the making of them, and the choosing of grand words.

    and finally, do you know the book Mudpies and Other Recipes? not that you need a recipe (obviously), but it was one of my favorite books growing up, and my kiddos love it also. your story reminds me of it, in many ways.

    happy making to you,


  7. I love this! Yes, it's so true when you look back on the things you loved as a kid they are most often what makes you happy as an adult!

  8. Great post!! And I agree. I read a quote today that said something along the lines of " If your eight year old self met your current self what would they think of you" I think it is a good way to check yourself. I love most of the same things I did when I was a kid, cooking, drawing, making things, dolls . . .babies? . . . Anyway, I really enjoyed this post!!

  9. I just found you blog and I love it. I am so interested in soapmaking- and you know, I also loved making concoctions when I was little. I think I need to do a little research on making soap. thanks for the inspiration!



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