It’s the season of love – or so they say. The shop is filled with an abundance of roses in every colour – we have red, yellow, white, lilac, pink and even striped white and red harlequins. The flowers in the shop smell spectacular. Almost as good as soap!

I’ve been thinking a lot about using flowers – both wild and cultivated –  in soap for personal use. It’s hard not to be inspired when you’re surrounded by so much natural beauty. It’s what inspired the workshop we teach called wildflowers and botanicals, and today I’ve spent a bit of time updating those course notes with all of the different ways that you can use real flowers and leaves in your soap. You can infuse the oils, infuse or decoct the flowers/stems/roots/leaves into a strong herbal tea for use in soap (where applicable of course – you want to be careful and considerate when choosing your infusion botanicals), or add the dried botanicals straight into your soap batter to achieve different colours or textures, adding extra dimension to your final finished soap.

When we were ordering the roses for Valentine’s Day, we were all really worried about just how many  we should be ordering. As with any new project, we have to spend incredibly carefully and the thought of being left with so many roses if we have an unsuccessful day – well, that’s something I don’t really want to think about. Or maybe I do? Because let’s be honest – if we have any leftover blooms, they’re absolutley 100% going to be hung up to dry so that we can infuse them into oils to use for our soapmaking workshops, or to use in hand creams, lotions and lotion bars. There’s nothing more luxuriously radiant than rose-infused oils and I encourage you to consider using your blooms for the same thing when you’re ready to bin them. Or perhaps use this nifty trick to grow some roots and pot those beauties into your garden when they’re ready. We’re all about beating waste wherever we can here – even with flowers.

Anyway. When I consider Valentine’s Day the obvious imagery comes to mind – red roses, perhaps pink? with a blooming hot bath filled with essential oils. Whether you’re celebrating with a partner or alone, Valentine’s Day (or the season of love) is as much as about self-care and love than it is about celebrating someone else. Sprinkle rose petals in the bath and break out the Rose Geranium and Pink Clay bars of bubbly soap! If you’re not a traditionalist, swap out Rose for a hint of Patchouli or throw caution to the wind with Gin + Tonic (in all forms, if you ask me).

In our house, Valentine’s Day is – sadly – a bit of a no-go. My husband is incredibly anti-commercial-holiday (Clintons Cards Holidays, he calls them) and I’m all for any excuse to celebrate. The children have been making me love letters all week which is, frankly, magnificent. I’ve got scribbled notes and haphazardly-cut hearts strewn across my work desk and kitchen. I’ve stuck them on the fridge and the walls. I celebrate Valentine’s Day with gusto, and just about any other holiday I come across. Did you know that February the 16th is Do a Grouch a Favour Day?  Sign me up. The point is, in our house, Valentine’s Day is all about self-care and self-love and hot baths with gorgeous handmade soap and plenty of gin. As you do.

We’ve made up some pretty amazing soap gifts in the shop this week. If you pop in to visit us at 81 Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 7EU, you’ll be able to acquire your very own trio of soaps in a wooden storage box, wrapped with an oversized organza bow. You’ll also get a peek at our new project. I know. NEW SOAPS. You read that correctly. We’re days away from launching our PURE range of household castile soaps. They’re totally palm-free, made from pure olive oil, and designed to be gentle enough to use for bath and body as well as in your home. You can grate it and use it as a washing powder replacement, use it as a solid bar to wash your dishes in your kitchen sink, or even use it to clean counters/windows/kids. I find that it is pretty blooming brilliant to scrub kid-induced stains out of just about anything. This week alone I’ve removed craft paint from brand new trousers (hmph!), scrubbed scuff marks off of a wall (how do shoe marks get that high up on the walls, honestly?) and I’ve also used it to get blood out of a t shirt. Scrub a dub dub.

So whatever your idea of Valentine’s Day is, spend it with us. Celebrate yourself. Celebrate your neighbour. Celebrate the grouch at work. We’re open 9 – 5 whether you’re spoiling yourself or someone else, and we’d be delighted to see your smiling face.