Thursday 5 April 2018

Shiny NEW things coming soon...!

Hi folks,

It's been a while but I'm finally emerging from blog hibernation with some lovely exciting new things to tempt you.

The last few months have been a time of reflection and contemplation, and some enforced rest due to the awful weather we've had here in the North East of England! This has given me a little chance to take time out for 'me' and figure out what's next in soap land. That's the thing with working for yourself, there are no rights or wrongs on how and when you work, this is great for flexibility and scope to work however I want, don't get me wrong, but sometimes it can lead to a lack of direction or focus for me, and this is what happened earlier this year. With no clear plan, I was floundering a little. It took me a while but I got there in the end. I have some longer term plans which will unfurl throughout the year, but for now...I have some new things to tell you about.

Spring (now it's finally here) represents new beginnings for me, and after much deliberation and procrastination I've devised a little new capsule collection of products which will be listed very soon over on the website. I've been formulating with some wonderful natural ingredients which are incredibly beneficial to the skin, my top faves being Himalayan pink salt, and Epson salt. They both possess incredible benefits to the skin and the whole system when used in the bath as a soothing soak or as an exfoliating scrub. Read more about the amazing properties of salt baths here on the Naturally Living Ideas blog or check out the quick reference guide to the right.

You'll find Himalayan Pink salt and Epsom salt in our NEW Limited edition Botanical Himalayan Salt Baths. Simply toss a handful of salts, fragrant with pure essential oils and botanicals into your bath and lie back for 20 minutes. Emerge feeling refreshed, relaxed, revived and renewed - all the 'R's :)
Our new Salt Scrubs can be used in the shower or bath, scrubbed over arms and legs, to slough off dead skin and moisturise you from top to toe with skin loving coconut oil, revealing a fresh new glowing you.

Do you love natural skincare too? I do. I believe we can find everything we need to care for our bodies in nature, and this includes our skin. I've been playing with some lovely pure, plant based ingredients and essential oils over the last few months to come up with a simple skincare plan. On the cards are some lovely gentle oatmeal and lavender scrubs, botanical steams, and gentle cleansing oils to compliment our natural clay masks and cleansing bars. I've used our own organically grown botanicals as ground exfoliants, in oil infusions and as whole flowers to create a really pretty little collection, I've been using these myself over the last few weeks and I am delighted with how they are performing. My skin is softer, more hydrated and brighter as a result, hopefully you will see the benefits too, if you try them out.

I've long been a fan of skin brushing too, not heard of this...check it our here on the Wellness Mama blog. Apart from superb for exfoliation, it helps the body detox and prevents dry patches, spots and skin congestion of the skin amongst many other things. I'm delighted to have become a stockist of a range of high quality, sustainable and eco-certified bathing accessories, brushes, pumice and bamboo facial cloths from Hydrea London to compliment my handmade products. and help you get your skin in tip top condition, naturally.

I hope you are enjoying the new beginnings of Spring, and can find a few minutes each day to rest and recharge, watch the birds, observe the fresh green shoots emerging and generally enjoy being present in the now. Time out for you is never wasted.

Shop the new 'Collections' department

That's about it for now, feel free to follow my blog, Instagram and new Facebook Group to stay up to date with all the NEW goodies in the pipeline this year. Fancy signing up to my newsletter too, for special offers and exclusives? You can do this here. - Newsletter Signup..


Ceri xx

Friday 1 December 2017

Big announcement inside...HUGE!!

Well hello,

How are we today?

Things have felt a little surreal for me over the last few months, and I've been sitting on my hands trying not to type and tell of my news, but I have just been granted permission to let the cat out of the bag over on my social channels. Ever wondered what it's like to live someone else's life? Well I found out, as for a few weeks my life and world were turned upside down.

Back in September, I was approached by the assistant producer at 'Raise the Roof' Productions who make well know  TV shows. They invited me to apply for the prestigious 'Kirstie's Handmade Christmas' this year, to be aired during December 2017 on Channel 4! If you're not familiar with the show, get a taste for it with some past episodes here...or visit Kirstie Allsopp's website here...

After I'd picked myself up off the floor, and stopped shaking, I decided to just go for it.  I thought 'what's the worst that could happen...??!!'
I have an incurable awkwardness around camera's, not behind them, I love this arrangement, but in front...I just get so nervous, I jibber and feel flustered, so this was a huge thing to come to terms with for me.

What happened next can only be described as a exhilarating whirlwind of phone calls and e-mails to and from the fantastic production teams and casting researchers at 'Raise the Roof Productions'  in relation to my application and 'Handmade Gift' competition entry. All this was happening while I was trying to make Christmas soap stocks in earnest and attending some pretty big events and festivals with my stall. Some of which I simply had to cancel due to filming clashes...but of course I was bound by secrecy so couldn't tell anyone why I was having to cancel...nightmare!

The producer Ali, came to film me in my home for a day and document some processes for my competition entry, we had a hoot. She was so brilliant at putting me at ease, and besides there really wasn't time to think about being nervous. We had lots to cover and had a tight schedule of 4 hours max before Ali's train back to Glasgow.

My home set up for the backstory.

A couple of weeks after filming for the back story, it was competition time...!! Myself and the other 3 entrants made our way, with all our kit and equipment all the way to Honiton in Devon, a mere 7 hours by train  for me (!!) with possibly the BIGGEST bag on was heavier than me! Thank goodness for kindly strangers and strong guardsmen.

We spotted each other at the station as we waited for our driver to take us to the hotel (How the other half live eh?) then met up for tea once we'd settled in, nervously chatting and getting to know each other. Everyone was lovely, excited and really looking forwards to the next day.
Filming was due to start from 10am the next morning, so we were up and at 'em then off to a private residence which was our filming location for the day. The house was simply spectacular, with a room being dedicated to each competition, there were 10 in all, so you can imagine the size of the house! There was no time for exploring, but I'm sure I wouldn't have been found for weeks if I'd found a secret hiding place to sneak into and yes, I was sorely tempted, I can tell you.

The spectacular competition many decs.
Apparently there were rooms full in the attic!!

Trying to concentrate and not being at
 all ready for my close up...crikey!!

My fellow competitors Sammy and Emma...there was one more but he was outside in the workshop.

During the competition, we had 4 hours to make our entry from scratch before it was being judged by some very eminent guests. I was so busy concentrating on my 4 part entry that at times I hardly noticed the high definition film cameras and mic booms looming overhead, but at other times, they were oh sooo close and It was all I could do to focus.

Kirstie was very keen to be involved with us all and tried her hand at everyone's craft which was really lovely. She was just as exuberant and enthusiastic in real life as she is on TV too, such a sweet lady. She put us all at ease and took time to come and talk to us all and even made sure we'd had something to eat mid way through the comp. She was super keen to try my custom soap cutter out...but we just ran out of time.

Although I can't reveal any information about who won...(you'll just have to tune in throughout December on Channel 4) I can say that it was one of the most amazing times I've ever had. Being part of the show has given me a huge confidence boost and pushed me further out of my comfort zone than I ever thought I'd cope with. I felt humbled and a little star struck to be invited to take part in this amazing show, and get to meet and chat to Kirstie and the team,  I've been a huge fan for years.  I've loved every part of being involved in such an amazing adventure, with such fantastic crew and fellow makers, and of course Kirstie herself. It's not over yet, as who knows where this will's anyone's guess.

In case you didn't know, that's me in the grey dress ;) xx

To stay in touch with all that develops, just click the links below to follow me over on:

 Facebook : @OakwoodSoaperie
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Until next time...TTFN


Tuesday 24 October 2017

Autumn's Bounty.

Hello lovelies,

October is here, and with the scent of woodsmoke and damp, moldering leaves in the air...Autumn my favourite season.

At this time of year, I love, love LOVE to forage. September saw a wealth of juicy berry delights from the hedgerows and swollen ruby rosehips from the wild roses down by the river. My garden has been generous with it's bounty too, I've made litres and litres of Cavalo Nero soups and a huge batch of nasturtium pesto which is spectacularly delicious.

I'd like to share some the recipes with you which I came across on Pinterest and saved to my 'Foraging Finds' board, check it out for heaps of wild (and not so wild) foody inspirations. Each year...almost without fail, I make rosehip syrup from foraged hips...the small ones work best for good colour. It's packed with natural vitamin C and is reputed to keep colds and flu at bay, worth a shot if you ask me. 

This recipe is from River Cottage and works every time :)

- Sterilise a couple of bottles and vinegar-proof screw-tops or stoppers by washing thoroughly in hot soapy water, rinsing well, then putting them on a tray in a low oven (at 120°C/Gas 1⁄2) to dry out and heat up.
- Roughly chop a couple of kilo's of rosehips in a food processor in batches, then transfer to a large saucepan and add 1.25 litres water.
- Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for around 15 minutes.
- Strain through a double layer of muslin, letting the pulp sit for a good half hour so that all the juice passes through.
- Wash out the muslin, or cut a fresh piece, fold to double it and pass the strained juice through it again.
- Measure the rosehip juice into a large saucepan.
- For every 500ml, add 325g sugar.
- Heat slowly, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to the boil and boil for 3 minutes, skimming off any scum if necessary.
- Decant immediately into the prepared bottles and seal.
- Label when the bottles have cooled completely.
- Use within 4 months and refrigerate once opened.

Hugh's serving suggestions are - Try it for breakfast trickled over porridge, pancakes, drop scones or eggy bread; use it to sweeten plain yoghurt (with some chopped apple if you like); or for a delicious pud, trickle it on to hot or cold rice pudding or good vanilla ice cream.
I also like it just in a glass of hot water to sip, it's addictive!


Next up, my second favourite...Nasturtium Pesto (found on Foodista blog) this stuff is good and so so easy to make. My garden was bursting with flowers and leaves growing all around the raised beds this year, I've been adding them to salads and soups through the summer, but this is a great way to use a LOT at once, you can even freeze it!

100g Nasturtium Leaves freshly picked and washed
3 large garlic cloves
70g Parmesan cheese
70g almonds or (I used cashews) – roughly chopped
160ml extra virgin olive oil (I used rapeseed oil)
1tsp salt

Method: - simply blitz everything together in a blender and pop into an airtight jar or kilner type if using fresh, if freezing, put in a tuppaware box and defrost as needed.

I've been scoffing this with pasta, on pizza's and mixed into marinades, it's a little spicy from the leaves, but fresh and delicious, enjoy xx.

I hope you enjoy making these scrummy autumnal treats, feel free to add your favourite recipes in the comments below, I can't wait to try some out.

I hope you'd like to check back with me again soon, I have some VERY exciting news to be announced in the next blog post coming in November...EEeePPP!! Watch this space...why not subscribe so you don't miss it??

But in the meantime, here's to toffee apples, hot chocolate chilly fingers in wooly gloves and frosty walks, a celebration of the coming of winter, wrap up warm peeps, 


Love Ceri