Lucy's Soap Kitchen Natural Skincare Blog

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  1. Should you have been travelling our Bornacoola road this late summer during the wee small hours you will no doubt have seen some unusual 'going's on'. My husband, in his underwear, (it was very hot!) desperately pacing the road - baby attached in pouch, still screeching. You will have probably heard me banging on the bedroom window, whisper shouting "put your trousers on" and "come back it'll wake the neighbours". In the future it will be a funny tale to tell but when you are in the throws of it night after night let me tell you it is anything but funny.

    And so begins my little tale of how excema affects our daily family life.

    Emmy was 6 weeks old when the cradle cap on her scalp began to take over her neck and face. I had heard of baby excema but naively thought it would pass when her 'hormones regulated themselves'. I have an arsenal of oils in my HQ (as you might imagine) and began using them systematically to see which was most effective at reducing the dryness, red spots, blotchiness and itching. Fast forward to now, 9 months old. The glands on the back of her head apparently associated with cradle cap and excema are always huge and swollen and she pulls at them alot. This is Emmy at 1.30 am during a 'flare up'. 

    baby excema at 8 months blog

    It is impossible for her to sleep and is constantly itching her face and neck. During an especially bad flare up she is banging and scraping her torso and tops of her ankles and wrists off the bed. When it is like this the only thing for it, is to get up, say goodbye to my oh so comfortable bed and distract her. (Yes my name is Iggle Piggle, Iggle Iggle Iggle Piggle.....oh yes I'm singing too at this point) Aloe vera cut straight from the plant has been, by far, the most effective treatment. Mind the spiky bits. It's cooling and stops her scratching within 15-30 mins. Aloe Vera in pre-bought tubes I found were not effective. Anything petro-chemical based has so far increased the redness and symptoms.

    24 hours after this peak it seems to begin to calm, the redness reduces and her skin forms crusts. I can now use avocado oil and my homemade 'Emmy's Balm' (based on my 'TLC Balm' but with a few adjustments). Even these annoy her skin during the middle of The Flare Up but do a very good job inbetween of keeping her skin moisturised.

    We have had to increase bathing her since she loves tucking into her food and insists on smearing it all over herself (my heart sinks every time....) and I add some of my favourite avocado oil to the warm water. I use a teeny tiny touch of either my own 'Butter Me Up' or 'Bleating Lovely' Handmade Soap Bars. She gets smothered in the avocado oil whilst her skin is still a little damp. I have also started using soap nuts (they are really a berry) to wash our clothes and am trying it for home cleaning too.

    Infants with excema and allergies are notoriously bad sleepers. During the particularly bad period I mentioned at the start I decided to unashamedly start co-sleeping. Emmy is awake every 2 hours without exception (during the good times I can settle her within about 10 minutes or so but during a bad time this waking will last up to 3 hours long- hence the desperate pacing) it has kept my family sane and mostly still smiling.

    During this week she had bloods taken for allergy testing and we are awaiting an appointment with a dietician and dermatologist. I cannot wait to get the help. I have some new oils to try including an organic hemp oil (extra rich in ceramides), virgin organic olive oil and Aloe Butter (oh the dermatologist is just going to love me ;) ). Never has a young infant eaten vegetables so joyfully and this week she started taking her first steps so Miss Emelia is certainly developing ahead of her milestones and thriving despite this annoying itch.

    Our little story will be continued and hopefully next time we might not be so 'sleepless in Bornacoola' .....Oh and don't be afraid to drive down our lane will you? It's much colder and any pacing is done in the kitchen (with the curtains drawn ;) )

  2. Soap is a temperamental thing, something I am usually reminded of at the worst possible times - right in the thick of it! This batch was supposed be a summery yellow and cream swirl but in the end this is what I had...................Can you see the oily patches on top? Never a good sign.......

    blog -oil patches on soap 

    Some soapmakers throw their bad batches away but there is a lot of good stuff in there, ingredients and cost wise, even if it looks brown and oily at the moment. (Plus I hate waste of any kind, it actually makes me feel sad). So how can I make useable soap that people will happily exchange their money for?? The answer....REBATCHING. Basically it means melting it all down again so you can make needed adjustments. Most of the time you will be able to do this and save the batch. In my early soap days I rebatched ALOT. 

    blog - soap grated down ready for melting 

    This is my soap in a slow cooker. I find this the easiest way to rebatch. I have grated it all down so it melts quicker and more evenly. After 3 hours it looked like this...

    blog - soap melted down in crock pot

    I have mashed this until my skinny arms and wrists protested "no more I'm dropping off". Rebatched soap will always have a rustic look. It will loose the clean smooth appearance of a cold process soap and this was as good as I knew I could get it. After letting it cool a little I poured it into my mould. You can see how lumpy and 'rustic' it looks.  

    blog -rebatched soap in base of mould

    Meanwhile I had prepared a new batch of coconut milk soap that I could pour on top of this to give me a layered effect. Once the top layer was poured and stiffened enough I added some soap lovehearts that I had cut out of another batch.

    blog - finished soap with heart embeds

    I insulated the mould for 24 hours with a blanket (although if I was to repeat this procedure again I wouldn't insulate this soap). Steven took the mould sides off for me, it needed to harden a little more but 24 hours later was the moment of truth............the exciting bit- the first cut.....................and here we are..........This is "Tropical Love" with Mango (although it has lost alot of its original mango smell in the rebatching) Coconut Milk and Lime. I love the look of it especially knowing what I had orignally.

    blog - successful rebatched soap

    In my soap kitchen there is never any waste and I love that. Somtimes I have grated my 'unsaleables' to make laundry soap. I always save and rebatch the soap shavings which add up to lots and lots of mis-shapen flowers over the year that get distributed amongst family and friends.

    So that my friends is a soap lesson I have learned over time. If it goes wrong don't panic. There is very little that can't be fixed even if it means you keep youself in soap for the next few years :) xx

  3. Thursday mornings have recently seen me racing to 'The Hive' in Carrick on Shannon to enjoy the 'Social Media Marketing' course facilitated by Leitrim Local Enterprise Office. Last week I arrived (only) 10 mins late carrying a peppa pig plate with my breakfast of bread & jam. After making my way to the back and sitting at a desk, I looked down to see the right leg of my jeans was in fact rolled hafway to my knee. Realising there was no chance now of being taken seriously as a local business woman, I sighed, pulled out my fine tipped pencil and started taking notes. For all of you who won't get chance to attend such a course (I highly recommend it) I have whittled down the blogging info to give you some handy tips I plan to put into practice myself.

    1. Start your blog

    Johnny Beirne (instructing the course and C.E.O of Digital Business Institute) gave a great illustration. A website is like having a 'high street' shop. If footfall in the high street is down you need to take a 'pop up' shop to where the footfall is & give people a reason to go back to the main shop. Social media and in particular a blog is the pop up shop- its where people are and can help increase the numbers to your website. Schedule time each week to do it. Keep a notebook handy to write down subjects when you think about them. (music to my ears- i lurve notebooks).

    2. Keep it regular

    Blogs are so effective as they are very google search friendly. But google loves fresh information so keep your blog regular, weekly if possible.

    3. A key blog title

    Google will pick up the blog title. Look at mine for this post. I could have called it many things ("Tell me why I don't like mornings...?" "Exactly how did my jeans end up like that?") but when anyone googles blogging (and many people are setting up blogs) my chances of google picking up this post and therefore directing people to my website are increased. Use key search words for your blog title

    4. Be Local

    Every so often mention local things in your blog title. Then when people do a search for anything in your area up you'll pop up to give them a little wave and a "Hello, I'm here".

    5. Link Love

    Johnny talks about 'Link Love'. Your blog set up will give you the ability to create a link that people can click on and be directed to someone/something you are talking about. Google loves this and again you will whizz up the search results. If they give you link love back well then everyone is very happy and loved up. I will now attempt some link love to Johnny Beirne (some very handy tutorials here).

    So 5 things I found very useful to know as a complete new girl to this, hope you find it useful too!

    Love Lucy x

    p.s I really have no idea how I didn't notice my jeans were like that........worrying isn't it ................