Best in Show…AGAIN!

I am so excited to share the news that we not only won our category, Best Conference Theme, in the Soapers Showcase competition at the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics Guild (HSCG) Annual Conference, but we also won Best in Show! If you remember from our previous post (Best in Show), this is the second time in a row we have won this amazing award!! If you had told me a year ago that we would be here I honestly would have cackled in your face. For anyone who knows me, my cackle has its own character and often reaches the room before I do – so this really is saying something. I  have been asked so many times to share how we did it, and I am truly honored to do so. I never would have imagined that I would have something new to provide to the soaping community, but here I am! We have also decided that this seems to be what we’re good at – making weird stuff out of soap that happens to look like real stuff – so we’re going to keep doing it! And, as an added benefit to other soapers out there, we’re going to make more of it and I’ll share how we do it here. We aren’t super quick about it – as this is a part time gig for me and a sometimes gig for mom – but whenever we make something cool I’ll share it with you and provide some practical tips for how you can actually use this in your soaps you make for sale. You’re obviously not going to spend three days making one product, but some of the techniques we use can and should be used to help make your soaps even more amazing than they already are!

Our first step was in deciding what to make for the conference. So as mom and I normally do, we went out for some brunch to talk ideas at The Virginia Kitchen in Herndon.  We knew we had to top or at least equal last years winning design, and after some discussion, we also knew we didn’t want to do food again. We didn’t want to be known as the ladies who do food soaps, especially since that’s done a lot in soaps already.  I had been thinking about how cool it would be to do something electronic, like a cell phone. Mom and I discussed that for a bit and then she remembered the new Whova app that the HSCG had unveiled for this years conference. It was then that our idea took root and we started planning how we would pull it off.  We made a tentative plan and then a few weeks passed until we could finally get together to create it (I live in PA and mom is in VA – we’re about 2 hours from each other).

Day 1Silicone mold

Mom arrived in PA and as soon as the kiddos went to bed for the evening we set to work creating our silicone molds. From our experience gained last year, we decided on a slower moving silicone so it wouldn’t set up on us too fast. We chose one that would set up in about an hour which should give us ample time to fix any disasters that might occur and prevent having to mold something twice. We decided that just creating a cell phone wouldn’t be enough, so we also decided to make the iPhone box as well. Mom had one on hand so she brought it with her to PA. We wrapped it in parchment paper as putting the cardboard directly into the silicone would warp the box and change the shape of our mold. Then, unfortunately for me, we discovered that the box wouldn’t stay submerged in the silicone – instead it wanted to float – so I got to hold it down for an hour until the silicone set. Thank goodness for patience and Netflix. (Pro tip: Use silicone that will set up in about 30 min rather than an hour, this will allow for fixes AND you wont have to hold whatever your molding for an hour.) Then we needed to mold the cell phone. We obviously couldn’t use the actual phone, but a phone case was a different story. We jammed some playdoh inside the case to add some weight (lesson learned from the too-light cell phone box) and to fill all the holes that are in a typical cell phone case. We didn’t want the silicone to get inside the case, we just wanted to mold the outside of the case. We then set the case inside the silicone. Thankfully, this one set in just fine and I didn’t have to hold it.

Day 2
Within 12 hours the silicone was finally set enough that we were able to check out how successful our molds were. This proved slightly difficult to unmold, but eventually we popped the box and the cell phone case out of the silicone. Our molds were perfect. We then tested our molds by pouring in some basic white MP.  The soaps set up nicely and the mold worked the way we wanted it to. We played around with our test cell phone until we figured out the combination of colors we wanted and the sizing of our images for the water soluble paper. Since the cell phone mold was actual size, we also needed our images to be actual size as well. I finished the images up in Photoshop and then printed them out on water soluble paper from my inkjet printer. Thankfully the images were close to perfect and I only had to fix the size once and reprint.

cell phone piece clearOnce we had our images, we cut them to size and readied our soap bases; Crystal Clear MP as well as our basic white MP base. We chose the Crystal Clear base for the cell phone so we could get a fun deep purple with some glitter for the cell phone case. As we waited for that to set, we laid out a silicone pie mat and poured a very thin layer of clear base directly on the mat. We placed our finished images upside down on top of the thin layer of soap and spritzed it with alcohol. We waited for it to cool to 120′ and then added another very thin layer of white base on top of them, and spritzed that with some alcohol. Once it set up entirely, we literally peeled the whole thing off the pie mat and cut out the pieces with scissors.

cell phone piecesNow that we had our pieces, I realized that in order to truly make it look like a cell phone, the image would need to be deep set into the cell phone case just like it is in the actual case. So I spent some time carving out the inside of the cell phone to fit our cell image. soap carving

We then used some white base as glue and pasted our cell image right inside the carved out case. We used this same technique for the cell phone box; using the white base as a glue, we pasted the pieces right on to the molded cell phone box. It was at this point that mom needed to head home to VA.

Day 3
The soap had hardened up nicely, but now I needed to finish up the cell phone and the mold cell phone box. The cell phone, while awesome, still needed some finishing touches. The piece that was set inside wasn’t a completely perfect match for the case so some of the edging could be seen. I used a small paint brush and gently used some clear that I had quickly microwaved to a good working consistency (I go more by what it feels like). I painted it into the small crevice between the image of the HSCG Whova app and the phone case. This connected the two pieces, but now some of the image had been covered up through accidental drips or just over painting. Using the same tool as I had for carving out the inside of the phone, I gently smoothed away any rough edges and over painting until the phone looked the way I wanted it to look.

finished soapNow that I had a cell phone, I could concentrate on the cell phone box. This proved to be the hardest piece to work with. Since we had added the images on all sides of the box, there was now a distinct crevice between each piece, rather than the smooth edges of a regular box. I microwaved up some of the white soap base that we had used for the box, and set to work adding in extra soap between each of the pieces to build up the sides and crevices until all sides met together like a regular box. I didn’t like the roundness of the edges, and tried to keep carving the edges straighter, but it just made the newly added soap too mushy and it would slide off the side of the box. So adding the edges back up again, I decided to reuse my box mold. I poured about an inch and a half of the clear base into the mold, spritzed the box I had made with alcohol, and then pushed it as hard as I could back into the soap mold until the clear base oozed out the top and covered the bottom of the box. I then waited for it to set up. Once set, I held my breath and pulled it out of the mold and eureka! It had worked! But, if you remember, in order to get the mold, we had wrapped the cardboard box with parchment paper. So, the molded box now looked like a box wrapped in parchment paper….but I had my edges exactly the way I wanted them. Nice and crisp lines. So I then spent another hour or so carving away at the box to smooth it out on the top and sides so that they too looked like a basic cell phone box.

soapers showcase entryEntering the Competition
Mom and I decided when we entered it into the competition that we would glue the cell phone directly on to the box with additional soap so that the two pieces wouldn’t be accidentally separated or damaged with people touching it and picking it up. We kept the pieces separate until we arrived in GA (we drove) and then finished putting the two pieces together in the hotel room using a coffee mug, some extra soap base I had brought with me, and a heat gun mom had brought with her. It worked like a charm.

And then we won…AGAIN! I can hardly believe it and I am so excited to make more amazing things for all of you! Let me know in the comments any ideas or suggestions you might have for something for us to try! We’d love to test it out and see how it works.


side by side with real thing

The real thing next to the soap thing


Practical Tips
You’re clearly not going to sell cell phones as Apple would be on your doorstep in a hot minute with a cease and desist letter – but there are definitely things you can use in your own soaps you use for sale.

  1. Water Soluble Paper – super easy to use and makes something ordinary look pretty extraordinary. You can use any images you want as long as YOU HAVE COPYRIGHT. So don’t go stealing images off the internet, but do take some of your own pictures (flowers in your yard, family and/or pets, neat textures or patterns you like etc.). The sky is the limit with this one. You can make it upside down in the mold as is commonly done, or you can do like we did and make embeddable pieces.
  2. Silicone molds – Use anything and everything to make these molds friends! We molded actual bread last year! If you want a certain texture or feel to your soap, don’t be afraid to mold it yourself. Have a cool trinket you’ve always wanted to embed into your MP or CP or hybrid soaps? Well now you can! Just mold the thing and you can make whatever nifty personal thing you want come to life on your soaps.
  3. Other molds – Don’t have silicone handy? Find something else you can use as a mold. For instance, with the lettuce last year we literally painted the lettuce itself with soap which made the lettuce the mold. We then peeled it off and poof, soap that looks just like lettuce. Don’t be afraid to pour soap on things…but also be prepared to lose the thing you decide to pour soap on.
  4. Soap Carving – That cool thing you wanted to do didn’t quite pour the way you wanted? Carve it away! Wanted some kind of texture on the tops? Carve it in there! I wouldn’t spend too much time on this as the more you handle your soaps the more money it costs you in the long run, but if you’re anal like I am you want things to be perfect. So like Tim Gunn says, “Make it work!”…use whatever tools you have at your disposal. I used a tool more commonly used for grout. Whatever works!

Alright friends, this is the longest post ever so I’ll stop chatting away – but let me know what you want us to try! We have some ideas and I can’t wait to show them to you when we get around to them, but I would love to know what you’d like to see too!

As always,



Join the Adventure!

Hello friends!

If you’re new to Lala Land, we are your one stop shop for gifts and fun! We create all-natural, vegan bath products as well as handcrafted gifts, stationary and art prints! Everything is handmade and everything is made with love and care. Want to know more? Check out the blog, and then find our shop at


Welcome to the Adventure – Share the Happiness!


Change is Good!

Hello friends!

Change is something that is inevitable. It follows you around like a sock missing its match. In our case, change arrived in the form of a new amazing bebe girl. She came and conquered our hearts – and also conquered me.  Having no space to put our delightful girl, we began searching for a new home. This magically resulted in a move to a new state. As fate would have it, and with multiple surgeries and therapies later, I finally came out the other side able to focus on the things I love most.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry PratchettA Hat Full of Sky

In returning to my love of soaping, I realized all the things I was unnecessarily doing that not only wasted my time, but also hard earned money. And thus change began. We are working on porting all our products over to etsy. This not only saves me money, but also time in web development and upkeep, things we no longer need to keep the business we have. The website itself will stay the same, so no need to change your bookmark. Two, if it wasn’t obvious enough already, this will be our new blog home. I’ll be linking it in places as I can but you’ll have to pardon our dust while we work these things out.

Welcome to the Crazy

Rest assured, your favorite Lala Land products will still be available!! All we’re doing is changing how our web presence looks and feels. I’ll be getting rid of unnecessary things like IG and Facebook – but we will still be here!!! I promise you this change will be good and your love of Lala Land can remain intact.

Much love and thanks for sticking with us!!


To New Beginnings

People always say that life will bring the unexpected – that one day you’ll wake up and be completely surprised at how it all turned out. At the end, you always hear people say how they wished they had taken more chances, or told people how much they loved them, and stopped being so afraid. I feel like I am at the precipice of one of those moments.


I have made decisions up to now that have led me to where I am. I live in a new state, and I am slowly making a new life for myself. It started rocky — I was not in an excellent head space and I tried to force some things to happen too quickly. I very slowly and very painfully realized I was trying to recreate my “home” here. I was homesick and trying to force everyone else around me to fit what I wanted them to be. When what I really needed to work on, was myself. I needed to create a new me. A me that was patient with the process of finding new friends. A me that was brave and open and vulnerable. A me that was willing to be new at something.

Being vulnerable and open is not something I am practiced at. I tend to hold in my feelings and things that have happened to me. It’s partly fear at what my family might say if they somehow discovered this space where I share – and partly fear at what others might say if they really knew me and my story.


I am learning. I am learning to share and to be willing to let people in who I don’t really know well. I am practicing my patience. I allow space for my need for instant gratification, but I do not allow it to take over my decisions. I am trusting that God has a place for me and a purpose for my story. I am trusting that I am finally, and with my whole heart, following His plan and not MY plan. I am practicing being a beginner. I am practicing being an active participant in my own story, rather than allowing the story to happen around me.


It is now time for me to write a new story. I have made a decision that I truly believe will take me on that next step in my journey. Without fear I am leaping into the unknown and trusting that God will help me learn to fly. I already have the skills and the knowledge necessary to soar – I just needed to take the first step. Write the first line of the story. Sing the first notes of the song. Accept the new job, and the new life, the new friends, and the new world I live in. With that decision made, I am finally feeling a peace I have not known in a long time.


I don’t know the ending of this story, and that does frighten me. But I am now in a place where I can admit things like that. I allow myself to feel the things I feel without fear of what might happen if I do. This new place I am in has allowed me space from the things I didn’t even know were hurting me until I left. In leaving what I knew I have found that I needed a new start, a new beginning. I needed to let go of the past. I needed to move on from things that, while they served me well at the time, do not serve me any longer. I wasn’t moving forward anymore, I was simply treading water. Now I know without a doubt that I am smart, I am capable, I am beautiful, and I don’t need anyone or any thing or any outward proof to make that so. It simply is.

Here’s to new beginnings, to new selves, to new jobs, to new places, to new friends. Here’s to being brave.

As always,


Soothing Facial Recipe

Originally Posted on the Lala Land Website: 2015-03-09 6:00 am EDT


A few weeks ago my son got all sick and our pediatrician sent us to this fancy-pants vitamin store that carried all this crazy stuff.  When we checked out with super probiotic, sinus cleanses and baby vitamins in tow, they also gave us a free copy of Wellness magazine. Now usually I don’t look at free magazines you get for free during checkouts because its usually just one big advertisement – but for serious, this magazine is kind of awesome.  I’m actually considering subscribing. So kudos to whoever writes this thing…anyways I digress.  The reason I brought all this up is because one of the articles in the magazine contained a BUNCH of super cool skin treatments that you can make at home with ingredients you already have in your kitchen.  My fave so far is their ‘Soothing Chamomile and Oatmeal Face Treatment” recipe.

Excerpt from Wellness Magazine:

Soothe, exfoliate, and hydrate with this straight-from-the-spa treatment. Chamomile instantly eliminates redness and calms.

1 cup distilled water
1 bag chamomile tea
1/2 cup oats
 tsp honey*

Bring water to a boil and steep teat bag for 5 minutes.  Slowly pour hot tea into the oats until a thick paste is formed.  Let this sit for 5 minutes.  If the paste is still too thick, add a small amount of tea until the desired consistency is reached.  Stir in the honey and blend your treatment thoroughly.

Gently massage onto clean face and neck using circular motions.  Manipulate the product for 1 to 2 minutes, and then rinse thoroughly with warm water.

*Raw, organic honey is best and can be found at your local vitamin or health food store or famers market.  Many supermarket honeys add corn syrup and won’t do your skin any favors.


I’m super excited to give it a try – as well as their suggestion to use cooled green or black tea bags to relieve puffiness under the eyes. Being pregnant makes for some seriously puffy eyes and I could use both of these ideas to make me a much happier mama.

Anyways – I hope you enjoyed this random recipe of awesome.  I’ll keep checking around for some new fun recipes you can try at home. Happy skin equals happy you!

Stay happy,


True Beauty

Originally Posted on the Lala Land Website: 2015-03-16 5:00 am EDT


What is true beauty and where do you find it?

True beauty showed itself to me in the form of an impromptu performance of the universe – it was like seeing the face of God. At the time, I was in Ghana for a non-profit program called The Sankofa Center for African Dance and Culture. Me, and several other volunteers were there to make a difference in others lives through AIDS education and dance expression.  My experiences there completely changed my world – and is the reason Lala Land exists today.

One such experience was during one of the many rolling blackouts that occurred periodically throughout the 8 weeks of my time with the program.  Ghana does not have an electrical grid like we do in the US so in order to conserve the energy they have, each section of the country goes into blackout mode. No lights – anywhere. Pure black night. I had never seen anything like it in the states because there’s too much light interference.  When you looked up you could literally see the entire galaxy.  It was spectacular.

The homestay family we were living with didn’t have much – all 6 of us volunteers, plus 4 of them and 8 of their children lived in this home. It had a dirt floor, a tin roof with water catching ridges, 3 rooms, an outdoor shower area, a huge trash can to collect water in, a fire pit, and one stoop/countertop for multipurpose use.  It was enclosed by a concrete wall on the outside of which was a tall tree we had dubbed the “pee tree” because that’s literally what you did with it.  If you needed to do some other business the rich family on the top of the hill had an open air outhouse right next to their shower area and dinner table – you’d say “Hello friend!” as you did your business and they took a shower or ate their food…quite an adjustment for all of the volunteers to say the least. As an aside, I quite frequently had to sing alternative lyrics to Disney songs to get my fellow volunteers to feel comfortable enough to do their business, a’la “Bibbitty Bobitty Poo” and my personal favorite, “A Whole New Poo”

During the rolling blackouts the entire village would go to sleep – some would have candles or had their fire’s lit while making dinner for their family – but most would be asleep.  We volunteers, used to keeping all hours, had battery powered flashlights to read by or play cards with. The one night that will forever be in my memory was a night that everyone, including the volunteers, seemed to be asleep except for me.  I sat on the stoop/countertop and looked up at the universe swirling above me and pondered about my existence and other existential things. Behind the short concrete wall surrounding the home that I was sitting in front of was an open field that contained a large pavilion.  I watched as a woman walked out into the middle of the pavilion and began to sing. A deep resonant sound came from within her and reached me at just the right moment in thought. I was transfixed by the beauty of the situation I had found myself in – and it got more and more amazing as I watched.

The woman was joined by another woman who began to sing with her in harmony.  Another short man with a limp to his walk and a cane began in a low baritone joined the duo – and then a small boy ran up behind him, clung to one of the women and began singing with them in a sweet high voice. Before I knew it, it seemed as if the entire village had woken up and had walked their way to the pavilion to join these ladies in song – 1,000 part harmony underneath a swirling black galaxy filled with glowing stars.  It was the most beautiful and moving thing I had ever seen.  The only thing since that has ever compared to it was the birth of my son – seeing his little face brings me back to that moment. The crystal clear clarity of peace and knowing that you are not alone in this world and that everything will be alright.

True beauty is an elusive intangible thing – its something that most people strive or yearn for. We misplace it in material things or in our own narcissistic tendencies. We gaze at photoshopped montages of beautiful people and places and surround ourselves with things we wish we could be.  The truth is that beauty is everywhere.  Its in you, in the flowers you see, in the sky above you – its in the voices of the people you talk to – its in the smiles of the people who pass you on the street – true beauty comes from within.  It is only definable to yourself. You make it what you want to make it.  Its up to you to choose to see beauty or to see only ugliness and negativity.  I choose to see beauty everywhere…do you?

Where do you see beauty? Let me know in the comments below…

Enjoy the Little Things

Originally Posted on the Lala Land Website: 2015-03-23 5:00 am EDT

It is so important to enjoy the little things in life!! If you do, it really can make life pretty epic.  Every day gifts of kindness, appreciation, and support can brighten your day and the day of the person who receives them.  Right now I’m experiencing the gift of appreciation for our beautiful planet! I’m so unbelievably excited that Spring has finally come!! Winter can be beautiful, still, and calming – but oh my goodness is Spring the best thing ever after a super long winter!!

With our new found warm world, it was the perfect opportunity to take my son out for a walk.  He LOVES the outside as any little boy should.  In fact, his very first word was “outside” – it surprised all of us.  We were heading out the door of my in-laws place.  Grape was being held by his Grandpa and surrounded by me, Daddy, and his Nana. We were all talking about the vacation we were about to take in Connecticut (where my husbands extended family all live) and Grape couldn’t stand all the waiting I suppose and yelled out “OUTSIDE!” and pointed to the door.  He was only a year old and the clarity of his declaration completely astounded us.  Baffled, Grandpa laughed and said “Outside it is!” and took him out the door.  I have never seen a baby so happy with himself.  He didn’t say the word again (he’s now almost 2)…so I’m pretty sure he was just as surprised as we were when he said something and we understood what he wanted.

On our walk outside, Grape got to visit his two favorite trees out front of the row of townhouses we live in.  He yells at the bark of one tree and picks at it a bit, laughs, then heads to the other one to do the same.  Then he immediately runs up the hill and around to the path that heads around the townhouses to the great open public space behind them.  There he can run around to his hearts content, and was even lucky enough to find a puddle!! What luck!! He was so happy with just running about we didn’t bother with the playground that is right up the hill…but I’m sure we’ll have plenty more time for that this Spring (and I’m certain I won’t be able to resist sharing it with all of you).

So without further adieu, here’s some cute baby pictures of a Grape enjoying his first taste of Spring 2015 – they certainly brighten my day…I hope yours too!

When you’re a little man, all you need is a book, a stick, a puddle and a bright sunshiny day to make you smile!