Wednesday, 18 November 2015

It's Beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Good morning and Happy November!

How did we get here already? 

Since my last post back in August, the new limited edition soaps and scarves have been launched and selling well, I've been delivering to new stockists Maison Royale in Darlington - stocking  beautiful homewares and work from local makers and artists, and I've even squeezed in a little holiday in the Lake District before it all gets too frantic.

These last few months I have also been busy busy busy making up some wonderfully festive soapy bathtime treats for the cold and damp wintery days ahead. Some products have been discontinued to allow time and space to bring these to you, I hope you like them. 

These are available now over on the website and make the ideal gifts for friends, loved ones or even a little treat for yourself. 

NEW for Autumn, 

Top Left - Solid Perfume oils made with pure plant butters, 
nourishing oils, our own Northumbrian honey and beeswax
 and high grade essential oils.

Top Right - Mini Bath Salt Shots gift box. Use them 
individually or cocktail them together for fragrance, 
skin toning and muscle relaxation.

Bottom Left - Triple Whipped Body butters and Exfoliating Sugar Scrubs.
Rich and buttery and incredibly softening and moisturising, 
these are perfect for scrubbing up winter skin in time for party season.

Bottom Right - Luxurious Lip Butters.
Flavoured with essential oils blended with rich, plant butters, 
oils our own honey and beeswax to keep lips soft and kissable all winter.


My Christmas range is also available now on the website, and in my Etsy and Folksy shops too.

Numbers are limited but the website and online shops so to be sure you can get what you need, place your orders in good time. I have a range of delivery options available to chose at checkout, you can even collect from one of my Christmas events if you are local to the North East.


With the introduction of the 5p charge for shopping bags back in October in the UK, I've seen sales of my hand printed eco-shoppers soar, They are 100% cotton, and hand screen printed by a friend of mine who has her own design company 'Stitch in Tyne'. They are tough and durable and can hold all your Christmas shopping. Get yours today.

Keep your eyes peeled for a sprinkling of festive special offers being launched on the website and online shops very soon. Find out about them by signing up to my e-mail newsletter, or following me over on Facebook or Twitter - Thank you x

Anyhoo, I think that's about it for news, so I'm taking the opportunity for a few hours rest and relaxation before a very busy 3 days of Christmas fairs this weekend, and every weekend right up to the BIG DAY!! 
I guess I'd better start making my own Christmas lists too, can't forget about that!

Until next time, TTFN


Friday, 14 August 2015

A touch of eco luxury in some gorgeous new products.

Hello August,

Time is absolutely flying here at OSHQ, I can't believe were in mid August already! I think I'm making myself just too busy as the days are whipping by!! I blinked and the fields have filled with huge golden bales, the swallows are circling ready to start their epic journeys south, and the evenings are gradually darkening earlier...note to self to slow down....I never learn!

I've been busying away behind the scenes with so many new elements to my soap business this year including new logo's, labels, Limited Edition, luxurious soaps and a new exciting sideline project...more on that in a bit.

I'd like to show you a little peek at a few in the new range of soaps if I may...I've listed them on the website already, but they will become available to buy at the end of August, I hope you like them.

Rose Madder Limited edition soap with silk and rose oil
Herb Patch Limited Edition soap with earth and clay

Gone Adventuring Limited Edition soap with eucalyptus.

Wild Meadow Limited edition soap with floral oils.

I've really pushed myself technically with these beauties, employing new techniques, new blends of essential oils, plant oils and luxury ingredients, all of which come with their own challenges in the soap making process. Thankfully everything seems to have worked and I'm delighted with the results, I hope you are too.

My other project that I've been working on in my spare time (what's that??) is my capsule range of Eco printed silk scarves. Back in my student days, I studies Textiles and Fashion design at Northumbria Univeristy, Textiles have always been a bit of a love of mine but a very neglected one I'm afraid. Earlier this year I decided to change all that and bring it back. I've been really enjoying researching and experimenting with plant materials, flower petals and various techniques of printing and treating the silk to achieve some really lovely effects.

Clary sage flowers

Ferns and flowers
Blackberry and Privet leaves
Eucalyptus leaves and Crocosmia flowers

Dogwood Bark

I cannot replicate the results so this makes each one totally unique and one of a kind. It's a delight to see each bundle come out of the dye pot and unravel it to reveal the often beautiful results achieved on the cloth.

As the years pass, I find myself seeking out one off, beautiful, handmade items more and more. I'm really happy with how these have turned out, and knowing that no one else will have one makes them feel extra special.

They are available to buy now over on my website, enjoy browsing x

Well, I think that's about it for now...happy August...I hope to enjoy a bit of what's left.



Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Everything works better if it's unplugged for a bit...

Well we're half way through June did that happen??
It's been a little while since I blogged apart from being really busy with lots of new ideas (more on that in a bit) I've been away on holiday...I know...what a cheek eh? We had such a fab time I thought I'd tell you a bit about it.

June the 7th was our 10th Wedding anniversary so we treated ourselves to a lovely little break away in the heart of the Lake District National Park. The weather was perfect, topping 20 ish degrees on 3 of the days. That's really good for Northern England in June!!

We really love to get out into the hills whenever we can, so we chose this little haven as we could do many high, hilly walks right from the need for the car practically all week..bliss!

Our first few days were spent exploring the fells and mountains around the cottage, making it up onto the tops to climb 'The Knott', and walk along 'High Street' (the highest Roman Road in England at 2,718ft (828m). The views were spectacular from the summits, we could see the sea!!

We wanted to try lots of new things as it was a significant holiday for us, sooo....we pony trekked the next day...Minstrel and Misty our horses were chilled out and ploddy along the forest tracks and paths around the centre. So much so it took a LOT of encouragement to get them to trot, cantering was out of the question..they were far more interested in the cow parsley (now named horse parsley) and greenery all around to consider anything like hard work, but to be honest that suited us down to the ground. Two hours of slow clip clopping was just what was needed. Sadly no photos as I left my camera in the car :(

We took the Steamer from Glenridding accross Ullswater the next day up to the lovely little village of Pooley Bridge at the Northern end where we stopped for a bite before taking the Steamer back to Howtown where we walked about 7 miles back along the shore line to Glenridding. The walk was amazing! It was quite a challenge with horsey stiff legs but we made it, and rewarded ourselves with a fab pub tea before heading back to the cottage.

The next day we really needed to give our legs a bit of a rest as we had big plans for later in the week. We'd noticed that there was a boat hire place nearby, and amongst the motorboats and yachts they had Canadian flat bottomed canoes...yup you guessed it...we HAD to give these a try too. After a somewhat ziggy zaggy start, and a few 'beaching' incidents, we kind of got the hang of it, ish. We wouldn't win any prizes, but the novelty of serving a packed lunch to my hubby on an oar will stick with me for some time. Ice cream was an essential component of the day as it was a bit of a scorcher, our arms and faces nicely browned by the end of the day.

By now it was the eve of our last full day so we headed home for a good sleep before the BIG one the next day...climbing Helvellyn (950m, 3120ft). It might not seem a big thing to most people but it was for us. I've climbed a few mountains in my youth, but not for a VERY long time so neither of us were sure we'd make it all the way to the top but we DID! It was truly spectacular up there, and those views!!. We played safe and took the zig zag route up avoiding Swirrel and Striding edge, two very steep sided, scrambly ridges leading to the summit. It took us a total of around 6 hours in all, but we felt very proud of ourselves!

We found our little home for the week on a super website called 'Heart of the Lakes'. It was part of a converted farmhouse nestled amongst the hilly surrounds near Brother's water in the tiny hamlet of Hartsop. Beautiful isn't it? We could have moved in without changing a thing!

This week, since we got back, has been pretty admin full, I've attended an event,  written an article about my soap business and my use of natural materials in my products for a high profile craft website, placed large orders for supplies and re-designed labels, all in preparation of a new, even more luxurious range of pure, natural soaps which I've been working on (more next month). The next few months will see quite a few changes to my range, some things will go, but lots of new things will come in, I'm so excited to begin to share them with you very soon. 

If you've got this far, well done and thank you for sticking with me ;)

Last but not least, this Sunday June 21st is Father's Day, so as not to let it pass by unnoticed, I'm offering a 15% discount in my online shops and website, Simply enter DAD15 at checkout to claim your discount. Offer is running in my Folksy and Etsy shops too. Happy Shopping :)

Until next time peeps

Ceri xx

Friday, 8 May 2015

Flower moons, seedlings and special offers for you x

Happy May peeps!!

How are we all?

If you've checked in recently, you'll have seen that I'm a busy little bee in the garden(s), my own and my botanical plot at Gibside.

I'm determinedly making time for myself this year, regardless of how busy I am with Oakwood Soaperie. This year has started off incredibly well, with an amazing 5 new stockists around the region, more markets and trade events than I've ever attended in the early part of the year, an increase in online orders, and special custom wedding favours, so it's no surprise I'm feeling a little wiped out by it all already. It's fantastic to be kept so busy but I also feel it's more important than ever to look after myself as well, and not beat myself up over the occasional product being out of stock for a short period of time.

With this in mind, I'm trying to slow down and actually give myself the odd days off, doing what lifts my heart and re-energises me allowing me to really focus when I'm back in the studio. This includes walking, cycling, gardening and enjoying the outdoors, in all weathers, well I live in the North East of England, so the last bit is essential really!! I've never really been a sitting around kind of person anyway.

It was a Flower Moon or Milk Moon a few days ago, apparently the perfect time to sow seeds, so I did.

My home plot is now built and planted up with dwarf beans, heritage carrots, colourful beetroot, spuds and mange tout, I have rows of seedling pots on widow sills and this makes me very happy indeed knowing I'm making things grow and bringing new life into my urban town garden. Much as I'd dearly love a house on a hill somewhere in the wilds, it's not happening any time soon. But I've decided for now, to be content with what I DO have already, space to grow, feed us and bring more green into the world.

I've even made a little bee & bee for our winged friends too, do you like them?

Just because....I've made a special 15% discount offer over on my website, this applies to all orders, simply apply the code 'May15' at checkout for discount on your whole order, no minimum applies, runs until May 31st 23.59.

Happy sunny May people, get out there and enjoy your green spaces, be them your own or a shared space, slow down, feel the green grass beneath your toes, and the sun on your face, dig your fingers into the soil and smell it's sweetness, feel new life awakening...get out there and live it!!

Till next time,

Love, Ceri

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

All things garden'ey

Happy Easter Peeps!!

I hope you've all had a lovely time out and about during this gorgeous little spell of sunshine.
Unfortunately I've been battling a horrid cough the last couple of weeks so have had less 'studio time' than I'd like, but it has given me the chance to do a spot of much needed gardening at home.

I found out today that it's 'National Gardening Week' so I thought it quite apt to do a wee post about my gardens. I'm lucky enough to have some outdoor space at home, and a lovely plot in the walled garden at the National Trust's Gibside Estate, where my studio is based.

My lovely Botanical Plot at Gibside Estate

My home garden has seen lots of weeding and clearing happening this week, in between bouts of coughing!! I'm planning to make up a couple of raised beds to grow veggies this year, making space by expanding my meagre herb bed and getting rid of some gravel and (sadly) a tree...but it's blocking all my veggie growing light, and the lovely evening light that dances in the sun catchers hanging in my window. I've always grown herbs, spuds (in re-claimed tea chests), and the odd crop of chard, carrots and salad greens but nothing substantial. Hopefully this year will prove more fruitfull (veggiefull!!). The spuds are in, spinach, shallots and sweet pea seeds are in the propagator, and the tree felling should hopefully happen next week, then I'm good to get really cracking. Watch this space.

Do you Pinterest? I love to gather inspiration for things here, take a peek at my gardening board if you's a bit of a guilty pleasure.

Follow Oakwood Soaperie's board Garden gubbins on Pinterest.

Meanwhile in my botanical plot at Gibside, the ground is being cleared ready for the lovely ripe seeds of blue and red cornflowers, marigolds, chamomile, poppies and lots of lovely lavender plants going in over the next few weeks. They are all organically grown without the use of any pesticides or artificial fertilisers specifically for me to use in my soaps, bath salts, bath bombs, truffles and bathing bubbles..

Natural and handmade bath bombs.

Gibside Gardener's soap with my beautiful botanicals lashings of fresh honey from our bees, clays and pumice.

Soap making in action...freshly poured and decortated batches setting overnight.

The real heroes (apart from the beautiful blooms) are the National Trust gardening volunteers who do all the hard work tending and tidying the plot and generally looking after them for me. I'd love to be able to do more in there, but running my little soapmaking business takes over. I do however help with the weeding, watering and do all the harvesting and drying later in the year.

Frosty spring morning looking towards the Chapel

Garden Cottage at Gibside in the morning sun

Here's a little shot of the plot earlier in the year, and then once it was in full bloom last summer, fingers crossed for lots of sunny summer days ahead.

Flowers flowers everywhere

Cornflowers and Calendula

The studio, festooned in drying blooms

Continuing on the garden theme of this post...a date for your diaries...I'll be holding a stall at the beautiful Blagdon Estate just north of Newcastle on Sunday 17th May as part of their National Garden Scheme, garden's open for Charity. The event runs from 1 - 4pm. I'll have lots of flower related soaps, bathing goodies and more on my stall, pop along if you fancy a day out, hopefully the weather will be kind.

Well, that's all for now, I'm off to make candles...Enjoy your garden time folks...I'd love to hear what you're planning in your gardens this year.



Thursday, 19 March 2015

Our little sneak away...

Well, it's been a pretty busy start to the year so far, I can't complain, but sometimes...just sometimes...I need the odd bit of down time to recharge the batteries and refresh my brain so I can come up with oodles of new goodies for you, my wonderful customers.

Last weekend, we were lucky enough to be able to go and stay in a Mongolian Yurt at Wild Northumbrian, a beautiful little haven of tranquillity, way up on the moors just outside Kielder Forest in the Northumberland National Park.

The surrounding Northumberland moors, such a gorgeous setting!

Our incredibly cosy home for a few days was 'Brock Yurt' a 16ft traditional Mongolian tent, settled next to a babbling stream within a little woodland clearing in a meadow...bliss!

Brock Yurt

We arrived on a sunny Sunday March afternoon and were very keen to go exploring. It was our 4th visit, but we'd not seen the delightful 'Brock' before. After unloading our car and winding through the free range ducks and hens, we found our way over the meadow and settled in to our gorgeous little hideaway.

That afternoon we had a stroll up to Sidwood approx a mile away, up the track and into the very edge of Kielder forest. We found an unexplored track (for us) that climbed up over the crest of a hill, to a stunning view over to 'Black Middens' a Bastle house dating back to the bloody battles of the Border Rievers. The sun kindly decided to show up again, this was the view!!

Black Middens Bastle House.

After winding our way back down the track to our little haven, we decided to get a camp fire lit in the handmade fire pit, it was starting to get pretty chilly by now and we were getting hungry, so we were very grateful of all the logs and kindling left for us inside the Yurt, We soon got a good blaze going to cook our tea on.

As the light was fading fast, we lit up the candles inside too, doesn't it look so pretty! Once the log burner was going inside, it was really toasty too. No need for the lovely hot water bottles (provided).

So Cosy...I want to move in!!

During the night, we listened to owls, deer and the stream twinkling away to us which was extremely relaxing and comforting out in the wilds. We even had a decent sleep...which for me is a rarity!!

The next morning, I was hoping to be brave enough to test the outdoor Bush Shower, just along from the Yurt...but I'm afraid to say, it was just too chilly a morning for me...and it was raining, so we hopped up to the shower block instead for the luxury of underfloor heating and warmth, sorry Rob & Vic, I promised myself I would too, maybe next time ;) x

Our Aussie Bush shower, with special cupboard for your smalls.

Eco friendly compost loo (left) and bush shower (right)

The next morning we decided to go adventuring up to Kielder Water to explore the North side of the reservoir, so off we went in the car, picnic packed...forgetting the hot chocolate (my fault!!).

We chose a route from the 'Shepherd's Walks' taking in the lakeside, sculptures and a forest track and had a really lovely day, and quite a challenging walk, Despite hail and more rain, we headed back with smiling faces, we were well prepared with woolies, waterproofs, warm boots and lots of layers, just without a warm drink.

Secluded inlet at Kielder Water.

Love the texture and colours in this tree stump.

Beautiful Lichen

Nature taking over

Beautiful Kielder Forest.

Stone textures...these colours really shone, despite the rain.

Robin & Freya's Hut.

To reward ourselves for our efforts, we headed off to The Hollybush Inn, a 300 year old coaching inn, just a mile from our Yurt...I think we'd exhausted ourselves too much to campfire cook that night! Besides we felt we'd earnt a pint of local brew by that stage, and some hearty grub.

Heading back to our cosy yurt, we were looking forward to a snuggly night infront of the log burner again, and it lived up to expectations again, lighting with only 1 match!

We'd hoped to take some Dark Sky photographs while we were here but the clouds were against us this time, Guess we'll just have to come back for a 5th visit sometime...

Our beautiful real tree bed!! Feather pillows and duck down duvet too...BLISS!!

A gorgeous Spring welcome awaited us...we had some beautiful, colourful ducky eggs too, but had scoffed them by this point, sorry x

Our little kitchen area...better equipped than home!

The beautiful handmade door...with hatch.

I wish we could have stayed longer, but I'm sure we'll be back again. If you get the chance to visit...DO IT!!  You need to experience it at least once to know the real rural beauty of this fabulous place, and the gorgeously helpful and generous people who run it all. 

Until next time peeps,