Inspiration ~ 11 Fabulous Mother’s Day Treats

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, 30th March so if you’re still pondering over what to buy your Mum, take a look at this gorgeous collection of Mother’s Day treats, all guaranteed to make her feel special! 1. Alice Palace 2. … Continue reading

Scrumptious Soaps to tantalise your Taste Buds!… handmade by Simply Portugal Soaps – Day 5

This week’s guest blogger has been the wonderful Simply Portugal Soaps & today they have definitely saved the best until last… get ready to feel very hungry this morning!…
For my last day I thought I would introduce you to some of our lovely soaps. I find that inspiration for the fragrances can run away with me if I’m not careful, and soapmaker Shelley and I are always trying to come up with something different. We really enjoy mixing fragrances to create something unique, and this is why we particularly love making soaps for wedding favours as we can take ideas from the bride and run with them to find something ‘just right’ whether we’re making soap bars, cupcake soaps or even a whole soap cake to be cut up and given to the guests.

Here is just a selection of our gorgeous fragrances…
Blue Amberwood – this is a wonderful ‘wake you up in the morning’ soap that’s just perfect for the shower, and men love it too.
Chamomile – a very gentle soap with added calendula, both soothing and healing ingredients that are perfect for sensitive skin.
Chocolate Gateau – a real blast of chocolate with a hint of strawberry, beautifully decorated.
Lavender – with a scent known for its relaxing properties, our lavender soap is just perfect for an evening soak in the bath.
Lime, Mandarin & Basil – this is an amazing soap full of citrus scents and earthy basil, and it’s another one that men and women both love.
Lovespell – the fragrance in this soap is just perfect for that very special night out. Our customers love this one!
Then our fun range of cocktails…
Cosmopolitan – with gorgeously fruity tangerine and cranberry to give you that citrus zing.
Kir Royale – the classic cassis and champagne, so very decadent and luxurious. 
Mojito – fresh lime and mint, a really bright ‘wake you up’ soap.
White Russian – coffee and cream, a beautiful creamy soap that’s perfect for a laze in the bath.

Our beautiful cupcakes…
Floral – a beautiful fresh floral fragrance, decorated with either violets or primroses. 
Rose Garden – that classic rose scent.
Neapolitan – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, just like our favourite ice cream!
Banoffee – rich toffee and fruity banana, a really fun and indulgent soap.
Strawberry Sundae – strawberries and cream, the ultimate summer fragrance.
Cupcakes retail at £4.50 each.  Our soap bars sell at £3.85 each per 120g (as they are hand cut the sizes might differ slightly). 
The wedding favours are half bars, wrapped and presented in an organza bag in your choice of colour, or in a clear bag with a ribbon in your choice of colour, at £2.20 each.
Cake slices are available either as a whole cake at £70 or cut and wrapped individually at £4 per slice, these make perfect gifts offering great value for money.
All that’s left to decide is which is your favourite?  Ours has to be the Banoffee!
Thank you Simply Portugal Soaps for a scent-sational week!  If you have been tempted by the gorgeous fragrances available, as well as the beautiful natural ingredients used, then here the details to be able to order these stunning soaps…

‘A Week in the Life of…’ Simply Portugal Soaps – Day 4

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The Product…
Our soaps are made from a base of olive oil, pressed from olives grown on our soapmaker Shelley’s farm, sweet almond oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. In some of our formulas we also use castor oil as it helps to make the lather rich, and all of our soaps also contain goats’ milk. 

Shelley started adding goats’ milk to her soaps as her neighbour had quite a few goats and needed to sell the milk, and it adds a wonderful creamy feel and lather and is very nourishing for your skin. I am sure Cleopatra would have used goats’ milk to bathe in if she’d run out of asses’ milk!  We then add natural pigments, fragrances and essential oils to blend the scents to perfection.

We make sure that all our ingredients are of cosmetic quality and as much as possible we try to source everything from Portugal. All our soaps are covered by a cosmetic safety standard certificate.

The soaps are beautifully moisturising, leaving your skin smelling amazing and feeling silky and smooth. An extra bonus is that having one of our soap bars or cupcake soaps in your bathroom will make the room smell amazing, so you won’t need an artificial air freshener.

We add beautiful toppings to our soaps when they are being made – fruits, flowers, soap shavings and swirls all help to make the soaps look wonderful, and as our toppings are also made from soap they won’t leave bits in your bath or shower! 

Our soaps make wonderful gifts, but they are equally perfect for everyday use or just to treat yourself. They look beautiful, smell fantastic and they’re sure to brighten up your morning shower or that long indulgent bath!

Tomorrow is our final day with Guest Bloggers Simply Portugal Soaps so what better way to end than an introduction to their difference fragrances… WARNING! it is going to be mouth watering!

‘A Week in the Life of…’ Simply Portugal Soaps – Day 3

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Where we can be found?
My favourite place to sell our soaps is at craft fairs and markets as people can come and see, touch and smell the soaps. There is nothing better than being able to experience all the lovely fragrances for yourself and choose your favourites, and although our soaps look gorgeous in photos it doesn’t compare with seeing them in real life! I really enjoy attending fairs and markets in the South West and I especially love to meet customers and help them choose a soap that will be just right for them. Many people think they can’t use soap, or worry that it will dry their skin, but once they see and feel the creamy texture of our soap bars and understand about the wonderfully nourishing natural ingredients that we use, they are often converted!

I have already been to markets at Sherborne, Yeovil and Bridport this year, and below is a list of the ones I know I will be attending over the next few months. More will be added to this list as the year goes on, so if you fancy coming along to see the soaps for yourself, please keep an eye out for our updates either on Facebook or on our website.
Digby Hall, Sherborne, Sat 5thMay 10am – 4pm
St Mary’s Church Hall, Bridport, Sat 26thMay 10am – 3pm
St Mary’s Church Jubilee Fair, Chard, 11am – 4pm
Ilminster Street fair, Ilminster, Sat 9th June 10am – 4pm
South Petherton Folk Fest, South Petherton, Sat 30th June 10am – 6pm
Forde Abbey Summer Fair, Forde Abbey, Chard, Thurs 26th July 11am – 4pm
I have more fairs and markets booked in August, September, November and December, so please have a look at our Facebook page for the dates and times.

Tomorrow you can find out more about the products, their luxurious ingredients!

‘A Week in the Life of…’ Simply Portgual Soaps – Day 2

Design and Inspiration

The designs and ideas for our soap bars, cupcake soaps and cake slice soaps all come from nature and from the things we see and smell around us every day. Plants can be so inspiring, with their wonderful array of colours, perfumes and shapes, and we try to give a feeling of that in our soaps.

The spring cupcake soap ideas came from the pretty little spring flowers; those first ones to pop their heads up after the bleak cold winter. We used primroses and violets, with a few butterflies to remind us of the sunny days and the warmth soon to come.  Then we started thinking about summer and about how we could evoke the feeling of a hot sunny day. That’s easy, really – ice cream! So our new summery cupcake soaps will be ice cream inspired – Neapolitan, strawberry sundae and banoffee-scented soaps are all curing at the moment and will be ready for sale in May, and a scrumptious mint choc chip scent is in the pipeline.

Our soap cakes are so pretty, and of course they are inspired by our love of food! I have a passion for cake making so it was a great treat to be able to come up with some fragrances and design ideas for these lovely soaps. They cut into beautiful creamy slices and make wonderful presents or favours for weddings and parties.

Then we have our gorgeous original soap bars, with fragrances like Lemon Verbena, Lime Mandarin & Basil, Coconut, Lavender and Linden Blossom to name but a few. You can see that our love of nature comes through again with these, and they are all beautifully topped off with swirls and with little fruits or flowers all made with soap. We always try to have something for everyone, from the more traditional floral scents to really fresh and zingy fragrances to wake you up in the morning. And when we decided to have a bit of fun with our soap bars, the result was our cocktail range, which is just so much fun. The booze-free treats are brilliant for hen night favours, and they also make fabulously different gifts for any occasion. 

Of course, our soaps are also inspired by the beautiful Portuguese countryside and the natural Portuguese ingredients, like the olive oil and goats’ milk, that go into our soaps. Walking round the pottery markets of the Algarve I was inspired to commission a talented local potter, who now makes exclusive soap dishes for me that bring the colour and flavour of traditional Portuguese pottery to our soaps. Our soap bars fit perfectly in the dishes, and our gift packs, with a pottery dish and one or two soap bars of your choice, make a wonderful gift beautifully packaged in organza.
Tomorrow you can find out more about where you can visit Simply Portugal Soaps and experience the smell and texture of these luxurious soaps in person… if you can’t wait until then pop over and say hello to them on Facebook now!

‘A Week in the Life of… ‘ Simply Portugal Soaps – Day 1

A few weeks ago I came across this gorgeous little company.  Their designs immediately caught my eye because they were so unique; Amazing fragrances that smell divine and designs that looked good enough to eat.  But much more than that when I spoke with Lesley – the lady behind Simply Portugal Soaps, I found their start-up story was just as delightful.  So it is with immense pleasure that I can today introduce you to one of ITC’s newest network members ~ Simply Portugal Soaps…
Who is Simply Portugal Soaps?
My name is Lesley and I own a small company that sells the most beautiful handmade, natural soaps. Our soaps are made in Portugal by my friend Shelley (and by me when I get the chance to be there!) who lives in the mountain area of Oliveira do Hospital. She and her husband have a small farm, and the olives grown there are pressed locally each year to make olive oil. We use this as the base for our soaps, adding shea butter, sweet almond oil, cocoa butter, goats’ milk from Shelley’s neighbour’s goats and natural essences and fragrances. I met Shelley through an online forum and we got chatting through our love of cooking. As my husband and I also have a house in Portugal, we became firm friends thanks to our love of the country and when Shelley sent me some of her soaps as a gift I was hooked; they were just so beautiful that I wanted to share them with my friends too. Things went from there and I decided to start taking the soaps to craft fairs and markets in the South West. Over the last couple of years we have gone from strength to strength and we’ve developed some lovely new designs and fragrances for our soaps.
How do you come up with your designs/ what influences you?
Shelley and I love chatting about our ideas and things just spring from there. We wanted some really indulgent fragrances for Christmas last year, so we put on our thinking caps and started thinking about the smells that said ‘Christmas’ to us, and we came up with Frankincense & Myrrh, Mulled Wine, Snow and Deck the Halls. They all had their own distinctive scents and really evoked the spirit of Christmas. Then for a bit of fun we thought why not try a Cocktail range, so we picked a few of our favourite cocktails and Shelley developed the fragrances. We went for White Russian, Kir Royale, Mojito and Cosmopolitan and they have been a huge hit at the craft fairs and markets!  
What would you call your ‘style’?
Our style is very natural, using the scents and plants of the countryside both in Portugal and the UK. We are committed to keeping our products as pure as we possibly can and we want to use only the best ingredients.
What is currently your favourite design?
At the moment we are running away with ideas for our cupcake soaps. They are just so beautiful to look at and our ideas for new designs and fragrances are endless! My favourite by far are the new ice cream-inspired cupcake soaps; they really do look good enough to eat, they wash beautifully, moulding to your hand shape perfectly, and if you think they’re too pretty to use you can just leave them in your bathroom to fragrance and decorate the whole room.
Who inspires you?
Shelley is a huge inspiration as she is a fantastic soapmaker and is always on the lookout for the latest trends and ideas, and of course nature itself is our biggest inspiration.
If you could design a soap for anyone in the world who would it be and what would you create?
I think it would be for the Queen, as it is her Diamond Jubilee year! I’d make her a beautiful cupcake soap fragranced with rose and almond blossom, and I’d go all out on the decoration with a crown and some gorgeous handmade roses and flowers.  
What is your greatest achievement?
This is a difficult one to answer as Simply Portugal Soaps has only been going for 18 months now, but just getting the products recognised by the public and seeing people become inspired by the wonderful soaps is a huge achievement. I adore our soaps and I want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy using them too.
If you weren’t doing this job what do you think you would be doing?
Quite possibly something to do with cakes, as a few years ago I used to spend a lot of time making novelty cakes for special occasions. I would also be riding a lot more than I do now; I have had a love of horses since I was old enough to walk and have had the pleasure of owning some stunning and wonderful horses in my lifetime.
How do you spend your time when you are not working?
We have just downsized to a beautiful cottage in a village in Somerset which needs quite a lot of modernising, so at the moment a lot of my time is spent working with builders, plumbers and electricians! I also spend time with my lovely retired ex-racehorse, Impi; he is 20 now and can’t be ridden because of the arthritis in his hind legs and back but has given me and my daughter some wonderful years of riding and fun, so it is now my turn to give him as much care and attention as I can in his old age.
Do you have a current special offer for Ice the Cake readers?
For the month of April and May, when you order any of our cupcake soaps as wedding favours, party favours or hen night favours, the bride or the special person who is celebrating will receive a gift pack of our beautiful cocktail soaps as a thank you. This is for orders received in April or May, but the items ordered can be for weddings or parties happening at any time in the coming year.
A Message from Simply Portugal Soaps…
We can supply beautiful wedding favours, soap bars or cupcake soaps for your special day. They are absolutely gorgeous and make a wonderful change from the usual sweets, and they will give your guests a lasting memory of your wedding. We are happy to make soaps to fit your own design and fragrance ideas, so get in touch and I am sure we will come up with something very special for you.

Tomorrow Simply Portugal Soaps will be giving our readers an insight into the design and inspiration process of their absolutely exquisite soaps…