1 August 2011

No more soap

You may have noticed that I stopped taking orders for my soap last Friday. I will honour the orders I have, but take no more. This may seem strange to some of you because I'd only just started selling the soap when I opened the Corner Shop. Well, I thought I'd sell a few bars, definitely not as much as I did. I didn't think it would be so popular that soap making would take almost all my spare time. I will still be selling things I make with my own hands, like aprons, a few dishcloths, tea cosies, table runners and few other bits and pieces - these are the easy things and are part of my relaxation.

It's important that I have a good balance in my life. In the past, balance did not enter the equation. Now it's everything; that elusive sense of stability between having enough and knowing it, and blindly wanting more. I'm not interested in having more than I need now. I am satisfied with enough. As long as Hanno and I are comfortable and have an emergency fund in the bank, I'm fine. I want us to retain our independence and to live the freedom of our days, without having to worry about "what if..." We have that without selling soap.

Don't get me wrong, we are not rich people and this is not about doing less work. It's about doing productive work that helps Hanno and I live well without worrying about work that will make money. If we're careful with what we have, if we look after what we own and are frugal with our purchases, we'll be fine. I believe it's far better for us to save money than to earn it. A saved dollar is 100 cents; an earned dollar will have about 30% tax removed, so it really is only 70 cents. I prefer now to spend time doing things that will save us money instead of working to earn it. Cooking from scratch, shopping wisely for groceries, growing food, making our soap and laundry liquid, using green cleaners - all these take more time to do but they save so much money and give much better quality, it's worth the effort.

I also want to continue working in my community helping people, teaching what I know and returning a little bit of the goodness I've received over the course of my life. I want to show others that earning more money isn't always the key; sometimes saving more, through creative ways of working and being prudent and frugal, is. Modelling how we live at this stage of our lives has been a wonderful teaching tool. We are ordinary folk, so if we can do this, anyone can.   But don't think you should be living like we do if you're at a different stage of life. How we live is a pay-off, if you like, for being debt-free and having long lives of hard work behind us. If you're at the other end of the age spectrum it's all ahead of you. But work is not the enemy, it will help define the person you become, and if you think about your life you won't necessarily have to do what your neighbours do. You are free to fashion the life you want for yourself and it does not have to involve having every sparkling thing that is dangled in front of your eyes.

I love working in my home. I also love relaxing here. If I can get that balance right, I get a payoff like no other. Imagine getting up every morning knowing there will be a changing mix of productive and interesting work as well as rest and recreation; that you will make the decision about what you'll do with each hour and that you can work, rest, or go out whatever you feel like it. That is what I call independence and freedom, and balance and the freedom to choose how I spend my hours, plays a huge part in it.

So that is the reason I'm not selling soap again. But that doesn't mean you can't have this soap. Like me, you can make it yourself, and tomorrow I'm writing my last ditch effort to explain the ins and outs of soap making. I won't guarantee that everyone will be able to make it. Some people can't get their head around the accuracy of the measurements and the chemistry, but the post will be there if you want it. Otherwise I'll see you again on Wednesday when I'll have another simple recipe for you.



  1. Wise move Rhonda. You didn't set up your retirement to be a full-time soap maker! I'm sure your readers will be quite understanding of your decision

    AM of the Bread (not the soap!)

  2. I love this statement: "that elusive sense of stability between having enough and knowing it, and blindly wanting more"... What a clear view of what it means to live ones's life as one determines rather than by the sense of pursuing the elusive! What a great lesson!

  3. That's exactly why I don't sell my soap at markets. People keep telling me I should, but after working full-time at school, the last thing I want to do is be away from home for half the weekend as well.

    So the soap is just for friends and family.

  4. Oh Rhonda J I laughed and laughed when I read todays title. I knew that would happen when I saw the soap for sale in your shop.

    The reason why I knew it would happen is that I have been making your beautiful soap since I read your soap blog ( some years ago now). Friends and family have received it for gifts and then nearly without exception, have come back and wanted me to make it for them.

    I have shared your soap recipe and technique but never taken on actually suppling it. I thought you were very brave selling it - my imagination took on something like the scene of the magicans apprentice in a Walt Disney movie - with ingredients and soap and little Rhonda Js going everywhere.

    Sorry I am still giggling. You have done the right thing I'm sure because with that soap recipe you could take over from Lever and Kitchen.

    It is so good to make home items though . Last night we had ,
    all made from scratch beef chilli, soft flat bread wraps,chilli sauce, quark and home grown lettuce. It is also a blessing to have the time to make these things.

  5. It takes a lot of courage and honesty to do as you have done Rhonda,some one like me would have stayed up all night making it and feeling I was robbing myself of the important things, this is the greatness of your blog, you show us the order of importance of things in life,I buy soap from a wonderful lady karen at Grannies Garden and I also make it myself,however I don't get it to look and smell as wonderful as hers.
    Like I said Rhonda your honesty is wonderful and realistic.

  6. Thankyou Rhonda for a timely post. I have lost count of the people who just can't or won't understand why I don't chase money - they see me as strange or a shirker. I would rather do what I do so that I don't have to work outside my home and make myself ill in the process - I have a heart condition which doesn't respond well to stress.We have the allotment for vegetables which provides almost all of those we eat ( I do buy carrots as we are never very successful with those) and then some to share. I make our bread and jam, I bake, cook from scratch, shop around for the best deals, I make do and mend. Yes it takes more time than going to the supermarket and throwing everything ready made into a trolley, but in monetary terms, and also in terms of wasting resources, it costs a lot less. I may have to print off your post and thrust it at the next person who looks at me with disdain, and tell them to ' read that'.

  7. I understand this perfectly and I have to say, Kudos to you! This is something some people never learn and other folks can't seem to understand. I feel exactly the same way. We, too, have cut way back on "things" and "work" in order to be able to stay home and enjoy life. We still both work part time, but at small jobs that we enjoy. We don't have a lot but the things we have chosen to live without are not worth working to achieve.

    We are much happier living our simple lives on our land, doing what we most enjoy with our time.

    Soapmaking is simple enough and easy. Anyone can make their own. It doesn't have to be difficult or fancy. I've written a free ebook on the subject that can be downloaded by anyone from my site, no strings attached. It was written to help those on the journey to self sufficiency.

    Above all, please don't feel guilty about doing what is right for you.

  8. Good on you for staying true to yourself and your philosophy. I'm glad I gave soap making a go last week, as I had intended to buy some of yours to see if I like it. My soap was very difficult to get out of the mold, even though I greased it, I used spray oil , was that ok?

  9. You are incredibly wise. May your efforts be blessed.......Denise

  10. "I believe it's far better for us to save money than to earn it. A saved dollar is 100 cents; an earned dollar will have about 30% tax removed, so it really is only 70 cents."

    It's funny you write this today. Just this afternoon, hubby and I were talking about trying to make ends meet and I told him, I'd rather find more ways to decrease our outgoing than increase our income. The idea of increasing our income in an attempt to make ends meet makes me feel nervous--it's not necessarily sustainable. Where does it end? I'd rather learn to live on less. Your comment above is an excellent point and just one more reason why decreasing our outgoing is a better idea than increasing our income!


  11. Rhonda, having a lifestyle that you and Hanno maintain is supreme to all else. Your family comes next and they are high on your list, too. A long time back Ormond and I found a level of comfort that involves no debt, small home, tiny car, simple diets and no flash. We take care of the neighborhood toddlers for grocery money and get to be the “grandparents” for little ones who adore the way we love them. I love it and I love you ability to be satisfied. It’s rare.

  12. That's what I like about you, Rhonda. You live what you preach. I'm sorry I missed out on some of your soap - I guess I'm going to have to take the plunge and try it for myself, but I look forward to getting some of your dishcloths sometime.
    Have a great day!

  13. An inspirational post, Thank you.

    I do love the way you write which provokes thought and action. Today I especially loved the phrase "a dollar saved is 100 cents." One to stick on the fridge!

  14. I did wonder when you put the soap up for sale whether you would get bogged down in making it every day. I had the same thing happen with little girl dresses, which I sold at a market every month, suddenly I became a one woman factory so stopped making them.Being retired is being free.
    Now its a lovely outing once a month with my husband selling items we no longer need and the occasional hand made things.
    Chris at Coffs Harbour.

  15. Yeah for you ! My husband and I have decided to sell our farm and folks think we are nuts because it is going so well. We were nuts to do it so long. Sucked the life out of us and now we want LESS ! Ironically though. "less" for me means having the time to make and sell soap because it makes me so happy and brings in some income while I still save money in other ways like on clothes and food. Really though, I love your blog

  16. I made the new soap recipe and they are drying on a rack. They look lovely and are whiter than the previous recipe.

    Can I encourage anybody to have a go at making soap? It took me less than 10 minutes, the scariest part is mixing the lye with water, as it heats up. I did that part outside and brought it inside when it had cooled.

    I worked out an exact cost for this soap - 51 cents per bar (I use the rose moulds as well). So, it is $1 more expensive than our commercial soap, but it lasts longer, smells better and doesn't leave our
    skin dry and itchy.

    My family love it for presents and ask when I'm making more soap!

    Good on you Rhonda for knowing when to say "stop!" and keeping the balance in your family life. It is a skill on its own, from what I see in the people around me.


  17. On ya Rhonda! When I was writing for the scrapbooking magaazines, teaching at conventions and designing products, I had to stop and look at what I was doing and why! It had started out as a hobby which I loved and turned into a business that took me away from the very subjects of my scrapbooks - my family and friends! The best thing I ever did was be thankful for the experience and let it go and move back into being established in my home. Best decision I ever made!!!
    My spare hours (which are few and far between! lol!) are filled with quality time with my fam and pursuing other interests....like soap making! Well I am wanting to try it this week; I just need my candy thermometer.
    Thanks for all your share Rhonda.
    Lusi x

  18. Bless you! More valuable than your soap, you just gifted us a beautiful example of wisdom in action.

    I am sorry that the soap took over but am grateful for the graceful example of staying true to a simple life.

    Thanks for your honest and humble example :).
    Have a wonderful week!

  19. I'm pleased you decided not to become a soap factory. When I saw so much running out your shop I thought of that proverb "Give a man a fish etc. Much better people spend their hard earned dollars on ingredients and make their own, or buy locally if it's not possible to make it, rather than spend on expensive postage.

    I am actually commenting because I liked the look of the little quilt Jamie is sleeping on, and would like to see more of it...is it one you or your sister made for him Rhonda?


  20. We are at the exact stage of life you and Hanno are. We completely understand your thoughts on where your time should be spent. Good for you! :) We also enjoy a debt free life and a home that produces a lot of what we eat. We take time to volunteer in the community and feel the volunteering gives us back more than we give to it. Life is good and we are really enjoying it! Now is the time to do what we want and that includes time with the family and passing on life's lessons. We try to pass little lessons on to our younger friends and neighbors and they seem to listen and appreciate it. They come back and ask us more. Makes you feel good. Sarah

  21. You know, I had wondered myself if this would happen when you posted that you had so many orders.

    You have made a good decision. Its important to keep in view what is important to you, and not get sidetracked by moneynand sparkly shiny things.

  22. nanette, that little quilt was bought by my sister Tricia for Jamie. It's from Ikea.

  23. When something you like doing starts taking over the time you want to do something else then a rethink is needed. Thank you for supplying us with soap recipes and now we'll just have to find the time and inclination to make our own and enjoy the experience and the results.
    I like the way you express yourself and I feel I know exactly what you mean.

  24. Rhonda Jean, I learn something every single time you post. I miss your posts on the weekends! All I can say is that, if something I sold was in high demand, I would kill myself trying to keep up with it. Your way is definitely wiser, and I'm glad you articulated it so well, that even a dummy like me "got it". Thanks as always!

  25. Rebecca in TassieAugust 01, 2011 10:02 am

    I have just read this post and I want to thank you very much for honouring my soap order. Yes, it is so very important to say "no more" - there comes a point where money just becomes paper; and insignificant compared to those things in life which really matter. We learnt this some years ago, and I'm so thankful for the changes my husband decided to implement. So I have printed off the details for how to make your soap; and one night when the children are tucked safely in bed I will have a go at making it.
    Thank you.
    Rebecca Davis

  26. Beautiful post! Thank you for the reminder that it is wiser to save, my parents taught me this but I seem to have forgotten - I shall share with my husband now.

    and I look forward to the soap recipe, I have always wanted to try it xx

  27. good decision Rhonda.

    cheers Kate (Lenny)

  28. This is a great example to all of how to say NO!

    Good on you Rhonda for knowing what is important to you in your life.

    Well looks like I will have to take the plunge and have a go at soap making too...I know how it is done, have the moulds, just got to find the nerve to give it a go lol!

    A GREAT post!

  29. Rhonda have you ever seen the old BBC series The Good Life? (If not order it from the library, you will absolutely LOVE it) The same thing happened to Tom Good in the series when he started selling some Pots he crafted at night school! You craft your life beautifully, that's why you are an inspiration.

  30. Hi Rhonda,

    I so enjoyed reading todays' post as it was reaffirming of what I am working towards. You do have the balance, in all things. How nice to come here and hear all the things that the nans used to say in the old days. My husband just knocked back a pay increase as it would have put him into another tax bracket leaving even less than before! Agree with everything you say.
    Little Jamie is growing so quickly!

  31. I admire you for deciding not to make soap any more to sell. You just became a grandmother and that will keep you very busy. You have two very lucky grandchildren.
    I have not seen the link to your daughter in law's blog on organizing. I would always click on it, but foolishly did not save the link. Does she still post on the blog now that she is a new mother?
    Thanks for all of your great posts and I can't wait to make the quark, which we used to eat in Germany when we visited there.

  32. Rhonda, when you write about the soap, would you please tell us about the molds you use? I'm due to make soap again (after last year's success) and I'd love to make nicely shaped ones. Have you purchased molds or have you used existing items?

    I understand entirely about deciding not to sell your soap. People keep telling me that I should sell my knitting and they would pay for it. But I'd have to knit all the time and not with the patterns and yarns of my choice -- it would take the fun away.

    Pats to The Lovely Alice.

  33. anon, Sarndra is slowly getting back to blogging. Google "blissfully organised" and you'll find her.

  34. Well gosh now I wish I'd ordered some soap when I had the chance :)
    Just kidding as I totally understand! I'm about to step down from a hugely responsible financial officer position to work from home doing data entry, so no more commuting weekly and staying in the city. I seriously cannot wait to have the time to enjoy my beautiful home, to live in it and enjoy it and it's surroundings, and hopefully make some of that beautiful soap for myself!

  35. I love your article Rhonda. Aside from spending more time in serving your community, saving money than making soap gives you more time to do the things that you love, less stress and more time to enjoy life. Kudos to you.

  36. I too would love to know if you can buy the rose soap moulds in New Zealand?

  37. I found your post today quite pertinent to what we are doing at the moment. It seems that as soon as we have simplified and pulled back, another 'business idea' tries to jump in ...whether it is more casual teaching work or selling products..... .It is like the outside world keeps right on trying to creep in and make us jump back in the rat race again.
    So glad to be at home living the simple life.

  38. Great post, Rhonda. It's hard to resist the attraction of some extra income, but it's never worth sacrificing the things you hold dear in life.

    Enjoy your time and continue to spend it the ways that benefit you best.

  39. Sustainability means doing what you need for your survival and comfort on your own.

    Yes it is nice to have other's enjoy what we do and pay $$ for it. But in the end it is less stressful, time consuming to be sustainable.

    Good for you!!

  40. You are very smart to recognize that this was going to take over your life and brave to so quickly put an end to it. Just as a suggestion: I was looking at a site where a woman sold baby slings, and in order to keep her business from running her life, she would open x number of slots weekly for orders. When that number of orders came in, that was it for the week. She was able to look at her calendar and determine on a weekly basis what she was willing to do, and so it didn't overrun her life. Should you at some point in the future want to earn money for something special, you could always do something similar, or even just list soap in your shop when you have the urge to make a certain number of batches. (Not trying to talk you into anything - just throwing it out there.)

    But kudos to you for a wise decision, and also for explaining it so well!

  41. Good on you Rhonda. You don't want to create a monster. I'm glad I have my soap order though. I'll make the next batch myself. Thanks for the honest post.


  42. I totally agree with your decision. I took a similar one with a cake stall I ran once a month.

    I was going to suggest something along the lines of Kris C.'s comment though. Why not make a batch of soap and sell that, allowing yourself to sell out rather than take orders for more? Make another batch when you have the time/inclination. Just a thought.

  43. Dear Rhonda,

    you wrote you are not rich. But my opinion is that you are! Maybe not in money-speaking, but I feel so much richness by reading your posts! I think you made a great dissicion by not selling the soap anymore. Enjoy your own balance!

    Love from Holland

  44. Hi Rhonda - yes I'm not surprised people want your soap either. I have been making your recipe for a year now, for my family and friends. It's wonderful stuff and I have small adaptation you may like - kitchen or gardener's soap, which has the addition of some used coffee grounds before going in the moulds. It's nice and scrubby - good for getting dirt or pastry off your hands.

  45. Hi Rhonda,
    What a relevant post! I am struggling right now in so many levels in terms of work/life balance; the sacrifice my current job demands, the sacrifice I will have to make in terms of job satisfaction and excitement if I looked for other less demanding work...and most importantly, the flow on effects on my relationship with Steve and all my other friends. While I know relationships and friendships are the utmost most important thing to me, where does one draw the line?? It's hard and at times like these I look forward to being that stay home mum who cooks from scratch, cleans and tidies AND have time for herself (like I almost did back when I worked night shift...just minus the being a 'mum' bit). Oh well, I guess time will tell.
    Hope you have a great week ahead!

  46. I couldn't agree with you more when you say that making more money is not the answer. We have come to know and live that and are doing very well with less. Quality of life is the most important thing, and I wish you continued blessings.

    Incidentally-I will be making soap for the first time this fall, thanks in part to your wonderful tutorial!

  47. This is my first comment on a post. First of all I love your blog and you are very inspiring. I made soap 8 weeks ago for the first time in my life, following your tutorial to the letter. It is fantastic and my skin feels great. Just one question i would like to ask. Here in the U.K. it is no longer possible to buy Borax. I have made your washing liquid without borax but it is not that effective. Is there anything else I can add instead of Borax? I have my first cup of tea and read your wonderful blog every morning. I can't wait for your book to be published.
    Margaret (England U.K.)

  48. Hi Rhonda,
    Good decision, I actually thought that you might be bogged down with it all when it all sold so quickly, who needs that sort of stress!!! Thank you for the opportunity to buy some though, & like Donna I hope to make the next batch myself from your recipe.
    And I also thought the suggestion by KrisC made sense,

  49. I love your post Rhonda. Spending more time in serving the community, the choice of saving, and loving life is a great way to spend the day.

  50. Good on you for recognising that you couldn't keep going that way.

    Having spent the last five years as a business Coach for work at home mums, I did find myself smiling a bit at your post - what happened here is so common!

    From what you said, you were letting people order soap that you haven't yet made, pre-ordering? What generally works better (but isn't often done) is to only sell what you have already made.

    So you can make soap when you want to, as much or as little as you want to, and then you offer just that amount for sale.

    I find it sad that you have completely stopped making and selling soap, as it seemed that it was one of the activities that you enjoyed. Too much of a good thing....

  51. Susan from the statesAugust 01, 2011 9:54 pm

    Rhonda, I totally agree with your choice not to market your soaps. I Knit and quilt and know that having to do these things to make money from them would take all the relaxation out of it. I also like what you said about the differnce between saving money (100%) and working for money (70% after taxes)

  52. Good for you Rhonda !!! I wish I was as clear as you are on my needs and wants !
    Can not wait to see the blog tomorrow , as you know I love making your soap. What and where did you find the flower molds for your soap?

  53. Very well said, Rhonda. You are a most excellent role model. And so true that we can change our minds at any point we realize what we're doing no longer works for us. Thanks for your honestly sharing yourself with us.

  54. You are so right Rhonda. It's one thing to make your own soap for personal use, but it's a whole different thing when you have a shop and I know people want your soap ; ) You won't have any time left to do the other things that go with simple living. Living would get very complicated ; )
    Looking forward to the recipe.
    Have a wonderful day.

  55. "A saved dollar is 100 cents; an earned dollar will have about 30% tax removed, so it really is only 70 cents"...is a life changing statement for me. It gives me tremendous motivation as I look for ways to live simply on less income.
    Thank you once again!

  56. I appreciate the part in your post about a dollar saved is 100 cents and a dollar earned is 70 cents. I needed that reminder!

    And I understand where you are at with your decision about selling soap. I sell my soap online and am slowing down with it.

    When I look at the time invested, supplies, shipping costs, etc., I can't justify what I am earning for the time/effort/energy/money that I am spending on it. Life is short and I would rather save money than try to make a small income from it. It's hard when it is a passion though.

    I admire you for being so wise and quick to stay true to who you are. It is a challenge for me to do the same.

    Thank you for sharing and for your honesty. You are so appreciated!

  57. Love the post - totally agree and totally understand. Cheers, Wendy


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