Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Moo Crew Feature!!

This week's featured member is Country Soaps by Marlene!
Please click the image above to take a peek at her wonderful shop!

1) Tell us about your work & what drew you to it.

Our girls were taking piano lessons on a goat farm, which lead to them bringing home four billy goats. Well, you really can't do much with billies so I suggested that they buy a nanny goat or two. After making cheese, ice cream, buttermilk & yogurt, the most logical idea that I hadn't tried was cold process soap. So, my daughters & I attempted soap! Needless to say, the first batches didn't turn out; we scorched the milk & it was horrible smelling. I'm the type of person that'll keep trying until it's right, so I started reading lots of information in books & on the internet. Finally, I got it right!!! I was so excited that I made soap for friends & family & kept going. Meanwhile, the soap started piling up because we couldn't use if fast enough. We then started selling it at farmers markets along with our vegetables. After doing that a couple of years, I wasn't really happy with the soaps getting dirty from being handled with the veggies. Just over a year ago some friends of mine suggested that I set up shop online. The first of 3 shops was set up & just celebrated the first anniversary.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my soap curing on shelves this past winter. I love the colors.

2) What is most enjoyable about your work?

I love to come up with my own recipes. Being in the kitchen is so natural to me whether it's cooking for my family or coming up with the newest soap creation. I'm also able to include the kids with making wax tarts & bath bombs. You'll also find the kids tagging along with me to craft shows.

This is a picture of our daughter Angie with me in Wisconsin Dells for the Harvest festival October 18, 2008.

3) What is your biggest challenge?

Working around our eleven children; eight are still living at home. The youngest is eleven weeks old but I think he's actually helped me...I work slower & take my time more. Also, it's been difficult to sell soap over the internet. It really makes me think more because the potential customer can't feel or smell it.

This is the newest family picture, the first time all of us were together since Preston was born. I'm wearing the purple shirt in the middle.

4) How are you inspired?

So many things can play into inspiration. The flowers that are blooming at the time, a picture, an article that you read, the smell of the fragrance, your mood...

5) Apart from creating, what do you enjoy?

My husband Mark & I enjoy spending time with our kids & traveling. We travel in our 15 passenger van & camp in tents. That has created some of the best family memories. It isn't easy for us to get away living on a working dairy farm but usually every 3-4 years we'll take a family trip. Having a large family we do lots of canning & freezing from the garden. I also enjoy sewing everything from quilts to dresses for our girls.

6) What is your most cherished handmade item?

My kitchen. We live in an old farm house that we bought from Mark's parents. We are the third generation living here. The kitchen was over 50 years old & 4 years ago we remodeled. The hickory cabinets were designed by me & built by a cabinet maker in Omro, WI.

This is my kitchen during Christmas cookie baking time. The valance above the window reads
"Live well, Love much, Laugh often" my favorite saying.

7) Is there a rule you can't help but break?

Using a thermometer... LOL Anyone that knows anything about making cold process soap knows you need to use a thermometer. I've made so many batches of soap that I'll just touch the outside of my pan & bowl.

8) Name one thing that you could never live without!

My religion, family friends & a sense of humor. I guess I couldn't pick just one.

9) Tell us your top five books, movies, songs/bands, &/or websites! (Besides Etsy!!)

Though I'm not much of a book reader, I love to read cook books as odd as that sounds. The old black & white movies are the best, 1960's music & Facebook.

10) Where can we find your work online?

Hyena Cart
Art Fire

In celebration of her feature, Marlene is giving away 4 bars of her soap,
chosen by the winner.

To enter, just post your comments here
& we will randomly choose the winner next Wednesday!


Mimi said...

Nice feature, and great looking product. Your kitchen cabinets are awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Great interview...I'd love to win one of your soaps!

Milburns' said...

I am revved up to win baby!!! Love your stuff Marlene! But you knew that already. Thank you guys for featuring her and her great products!

NIcky L. said...

LOVE your stuff Marlene! Only soap we use now!

Kelly said...

Marlenes soaps are awesome, and so are her other products. I use her bar shampoo, and lotion just as often. These are great quality products from an amazing seller :o)

that should earn me some soap, right ;o)

michiganhemp said...

GREAT feature! I've been dying to get my hands on some of your soaps! :)

Audrey said...

Really nice feature! I love handmade soap - hubby thinks I'm addicted. He could be right! LOL

Dee Gallimore-Perry said...

It was so nice learning about you and your beautiful family!
Beautiful soaps..and even though I can't smell through the internet, I can tell they smell delicious!

Anonymous said...

love the pics. your soap looks wonderful. I would love to try some out.

Melanie G. said...

Pick me, Pick me! I never win anything but I have to let people know how wonderful Marlene and her soaps are :)


Anonymous said...

those shelves look pretty good indeed! would love to have all those adorable soaps:D Blackberry Apple shampoo bar -omg I love love blackberries! and shampoo bar- would love to try one of those:) and Chocolate Almond NO MILK- yum, sounds too good!

Vickie H. said...

I particularly love the lavendar and the patchoulli scented shower gels and lotions they're heavenly. I'm already planning my xmas list to make small baskets of your products for friends and family members.

Michelle said...

I want the pink sugar if I win...or coconut.

Kim said...

I really should get around to trying Marlene's soaps! Nice intervies!

Winklepots said...

The fruit slice soaps in your shop are so cute! :o)
You must be superwoman because I only have two kids and feel overwhelmed.
Great feature! :o)

Kim said...

Great interview! WOW! Eleven kids! WOW!

Amour (sarah) said...

I love that you admit you don't often use a thermometer - that just means you've become familiar with your craft ;)
I'd love to try out some of your soaps!

DakorahDesigns said...

Marlene I definitely have to agree with you being Superwoman! :) I only have one 13yr old son at home now and always feel like I never have enough time!

I cant wait to order some of your goodies. :)

Anonymous said...

Marlene I couldn't help myself!! I had to do this to try and win soap!! But I must admit that it's pretty awesome to be featured on here!! What an accomplishment! And all 11 of your kids are wonderful! (espically the oldest...) Your interview was great! And the family picture isn't half bad either if I do say so myself!! LOL!


Salad for Breakfast said...

oh i can never have too much soap. nice interview too! :)

Storyline Design said...

Great interview. Very interesting! My husband grew up on a dairy farm as well! Wow, eleven children...I thought I had my hands full with 1! I love natural soaps! They are so fragrant and great for skin.

James said...

My wife (verveinteriors) has been trying to convince me to try handmade soaps for some time. One of these days I'll have to break down.....

Linda said...

Hey Marlene:
Have to say your products are wonderful...right now enjoying the Jasmine scented soap and the Energy lotion. Both scents are heavenly.
Kisses to Rocky!!

Jen said...

Yay, Marlene! Good for you! I really need to order some soaps from you - do you make a baby bar?

Maureen said...

Hi Marlene,

"Uncle" Ed Emanuel sent me this link - to see if I wanted to try and win some free soap! I'm married to your husband's cousin, Jim, oldest son of Louie and Eleanor. Could use some free soap - our triplet grandsons are now home from the hospital, after being born 16 weeks early. I am over there helping 3-4 days a week, and we wash our hands constantly, as they require high-risk care. Do you give preference to relatives? LOL.


Jessy said...

I love your story. I knew you made great shampoo bars, but I didn't know you taught yourself! I have to be careful, or my house will look like your curing shelf lol

Sara said...

Your soaps look fantastic! :)

Jessica said...

Nice feature! I love your soaps, Marlene and you have a beautiful family!

Rose said...

Hey Marlene,
Enjoyed the interview, and especially the recent family photo! :D

Julie said...

Hey Marlene!!
Thanks for the link!! I love your soaps (and candles). My hubby says I have enough candles to last a lifetime, but I'm learning here in hurricane country, you can't have too many. I'm always prepared!! :o) I think homemade soaps are a whole lot healthier and better than the ones in stores!! I'm getting "Boo" involved in different soaps and when she's older, I'll allow her to have candles. I'm glad to hear this too, is a family project!! Keep up the wonderful work!! (She likes all the candles, but especially the candles you gave us with glitter for our wedding, nearly 5 years ago--they still smell so wonderful!!!) Tell the family hello for me.
Julie & "Boo"

Kay said...

Oh my gosh! Did you see James' comment above? I think I might be WINNING the soap wars!

Patti said...

What a nice interview and the family is just beautiful, Much success to you!

Amy K said...

Marlene, loved your interview. Your soaps are great, my teenage son always picks them over store bought. I love them best too.