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Of Missing Equipment and Christmas

Day 74 of studio renovation – I’m making soap again! However it took me a bit of a while to really get back into the saddle with production, because I discovered that some of my tools were missing. My laser thermometer gun, some paint buckets, screwdrivers, a really nice hand truck and my favourite blender motor were all gone.

At first I put it down to me just being absent-minded and not being able to locate them in all the chaos–but now that I have unpacked everything and put all the furniture in place, it’s clear that they were purposefully taken. It’s hard to imagine how a thermometer gun could have singularly fallen out of a drawer that was carefully stowed away, nor a hand truck removed by accident.

I actually sat at my desk and shed tears. I really, really liked that stick blender (it was easier to make smooth soap without air bubbles), and I thought I worked hard for it.

It wasn’t the actual loss of items that was bothering me, but more of the sense of having your trust betrayed. It never occurred to me that someone would actually rifle through my things. Throughout the renovation period, I would pop by upstairs, say hello to the workers and ask if everything was ok, and if they needed anything extra that I could help with. I wanted them to know that I was grateful for their efforts.

Logically, I should ask for  compensation from our contractor for the lost items. When I told him about it, he promptly offered to pay for the replacements, I just needed to send him the bills.

But this doesn’t strike me as the right thing to do.

Let’s be honest–a big part of the reason how I can afford to undertake this massive renovation is because it was affordable. Kinder Soaps doesn’t make a huge amount of money. It’s enough for us to get by, and to grow gradually. So for us to be able to afford this project is a huge blessing.

Unfortunately, it also brings to light that most of the workers, especially the ones who were foreigners, are probably underpaid. Which could be why they even considered pilfering in the first place (I’m convinced that NOBODY would automatically want to do bad things to anyone, given the right circumstances).

I had the option of leaving the studio space when the smell of turpentine was overwhelming. They did not. I covered my nose and eyes while they sawed, drilled and hammered at walls, breathing in fine dust. I stayed for a few minutes–they stayed for days.

All I had to do was cough up enough cash, and through their physical efforts and expertise, they gave me this:

curing area(This is the curing area)

hallway in Kinder Soaps studio(the hallway, looking out from the back of the studio)

Mixing Room at Kinder Soaps studio(the mixing room)

It’s a really wonderful space to work in. I couldn’t be happier with it. And it’s because of their sheer hard work that I have the privilege to call this workshop our home.

So I have decided not to take up my contractor’s offer to reimburse me for the lost items. I can afford to pay for it on my own, even if it’s at a later date.

Instead, I have gone ahead to prepare a box of soap to be distributed to all of his workers (and for himself) as a Christmas gift. It’s the least I can do to show my appreciation for all of their hard work and diligence. I wonder if any of them have ever received Christmas gifts before.

soap in box

Boxed soap for contractor

I hope that whoever has my equipment will put them to good use, and maybe in some way, help them along in getting to a better place in life.

Now this – this makes sense as my personal response to this situation, and I feel happier for it. 🙂

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”

Merry Christmas everyone, and have a fantastic new year!

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Things That Can Go Wrong While Making Soap

Darn it, photos would have been brilliant to illustrate what I am about to describe, but I was too  busy a) panicking, then b) setting things right. I spent the afternoon making Goats Milk and Honey soap, and here are the mishaps that transpired along the way to finally setting the soap in their molds to harden (with a HUGE sigh of relief!). Continue reading Things That Can Go Wrong While Making Soap

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My First Etsy Treasury List!

My First Etsy Treasury, "What Mommy Wants" I waited and waited and waited…

Then finally the window of opportunity opened and grabbed my first chance to create an Etsy Treasury. 🙂 Oh, the (cheap) thrill! I called it “Mommy Wants These!”. You will not get a prize for guessing the rationale behind it.

Found that fun? Then please visit the Treasury and check out all the wonderful handmade things that other Etsy sellers lovingly craft for our enjoyment.

Happy weekend!

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Practising “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

Ever since our new servant arrived (I’m so thankful for her lending her energy to keeping this household clean!) I’ve been actively weeding out a lot of old junk from our shelves and cupboards in the apartment. Looking at the (shameful) piles of unused toys, clothing, books etc. got me thinking about how my family is currently practising the 3R’s — Reduce, Reuse, Recyle — and how we can do more. We’re not just talking about a once-off spring cleaning exercise, but as a sustained part of our lifestyle.

So in this blogpost I’d like to share with you some of the things that we do in our household in an effort to lessen our contribution to landfills, and also our impact on Nature itself. What’s important was determining what worked for us realistically, given that we live in an apartment in the city, and the lifestyle that we currently have. Some ideas here could work for you too. Or perhaps you can chime in with your own experiences with making the 3R’s a part of your life — I’d love to hear your stories! Continue reading Practising “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”

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A Dream Coming True

I guess it’s okay for me to spill the beans (albeit only partially) on what transpired this morning–I was in talks with a school to start holding soapmaking classes for its students on a regular basis! 😀

This is an absolutely thrilling development–I’m shaking in my chair as I type this! Not only was the chemistry teacher very receptive to the idea, but _other_ teachers who walked past our informal meeting asked if they could join the classes too. Given that the students are already familiar with their lab environment and some have already covered saponification as part of their regular curriculum, I reckon that they’ll have no trouble handling the lye, oils and the various equipment at all!

This has come about after several months of me plotting how would be the best way to offer cold process soapmaking classes without having to set up a facility from scratch. A school’s chemistry lab seemed like the perfect answer–it would have all its safety measures and protocols in place, plus all the necessary sinks and plug points and measuring equipment etc. Unfortunately schools are not permitted to offer any classes of this sort to the public so I’ll only be teaching the students registered there.

So today I met with two lovely teachers, both razor sharp and truly dedicated to their respective fields and to the school, and we discussed budgeting, scheduling and sourcing for handheld blenders and ingredients. Once my arrangements with them are finalised, I’ll let you know which school exactly I’ll be working with. 😉

Hurrah! I’m so thankful that my whacky idea was so warmly received. Now it’s time to make it work, and to put a little excitement into people’s lives. Wish me luck!

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Curio: “Organic Salt Soap”

While on my usual rounds at the Section 17 market in PJ one morning last week, I spotted an old uncle selling what looked like blocks of pink coloured things from a small table. He instantly picked up on my interest, launching into a barrage of cantonese explaining what the stuff was. I guess he also noted my blank smile that belied the fact that I could barely understand him so he pulled out a leaflet written in english. :p

They were solid bars of salt, meant to be used in the shower. This was totally new to me so I was rather fascinated (albeit a little sceptical). After the sales pitch about it being great for solving all kinds of skin problems, I thought it was worth trying on myself to find out once and for all if all that stuff was true. BUT let it be known that I felt guilty about it supposedly being imported from Poland… the thought of all the carbon emissions from transporting what are practically rocks across vast distances… eep. :”>

Anyway, here’s the smaller, unpackaged chunk of “organic salt soap” that I bought:

It could be a projectile weapon for the bathroom. Hm.
It could be a projectile weapon for the bathroom. Hm.

This photo was taken after a week’s use. It’s hardly shrunk. It also struck me that the salt looked very similar to the kinds you find on those salt lamps that you put light bulbs in and that supposedly release ions to cleans the air around it etc. Anyway.

Interestingly enough, the eczema on the insides of my elbows which flared up in the heat, seems to have cleared with a day’s use of the salt soap. I also tried it on my face (as instructed by the old uncle), wetting the skin then applying some of the ‘soap’, leaving it on for about 3 minutes before washing everything off under the shower. While I did not notice anything remarkably different after using the salt, I did feel that my skin had a pleasant, healthy texture. It’s like having an isolated dip in the sea, isn’t it?

The only mistake I made was to think that I could rub the bar of salt *directly* onto my skin for a scrubby effect. DON’T DO IT. Not only did it scratch my skin, the salt stung like crazy. Ah, silly me. I should have known better!

So the verdict? It’s an interesting object to have in your bathroom, and for most Malaysians who don’t have bath tubs to use bath salts in, this could be a feasible alternative. I doubt it can completely replace normal soap as a cleansing item. Plus it’s Not something I would use for my hair – and overall I still prefer my soap with all their lovely essential oils and creamy lather! Yes yes, I’m biased…

But here you go – some additional reading on the net yielded these articles that expound the many benefits of salt for our health:

And just in case you’re curious as to what this particular uncle’s claims are on the efficacy of his “Organic Salt Soap”, here’s a reproduction of the contents of his flyer:

  • Imported from Poland
  • Contained of natural Organic Calcium and different types of minerals
  • Provides nutrition to your skin directly
  • Helt to increase metabolism, removes dead skin cell
  • Help to improve your skin healthy level
  • Function: Reduce inflammation, kill germs and bacteria
  • Smoothen and soften your skin if regularly use
  • Good for Itchy skin, sensitive skin, smelly feet, ring worm, white spots, black spots, dark skin, pimples, wound inflammation, scrap, crack heels, removes muscles pain, slowing down your aging process, reduces wrinkles, whitening skin.
  • Contact number: 012-3442038 (Wilson)
  • Contact number: 016-3721312 (Uncle Loo)

Hope you’re having a good start to your week!

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Making Happy People

8:30pm: I pop upstairs with Andrea (my 7.5 month-old) to ask our neighbours if they had accidentally left a tap on because I heard water running down a drain pipe for 20-30 minutes straight. Turns out that they were having a party and no, they couldn’t think of any running taps at their place.

9:30pm: Thinking that they probably moved in only very recently, I wrap 3 bars of soap as housewarming gifts and head upstairs again to drop it off.

What was meant to be a brief conversation stretched out to become an entire evening of good wine and company. The family had just moved to Malaysia from Germany on the 1st of January this year, and were celebrating their housewarming as well as the wife’s birthday at midnight.

Somewhere during our chit chat the wife revealed that she had sensitive skin, possibly eczema–the reason behind why the family has a dishwashing machine. So when I told her what I had brought as gifts, she was delighted! I didn’t even need to explain to her how handmade soap was different from commercially-produced ones. Guess she must have already experienced the difference between all-natural soap and those containing preservatives and foaming agents.

That made my evening. 🙂