The Best of 2018

Happy New Year’s Eve! I know many of you will be off doing fun and exciting things with your friends and family, or perhaps hibernating at home alone with a good book and a cozy blanket, so I thought today I’d take a look back at the last year of projects I shared in 2018 and highlight some of my favourites.

I’ve learned so many things this year and grown so much as a DIYer! I finished my Formula Botanica Diploma of Organic Skin Care and travelled to give talks for the first time. I went to my first DIY-type conferences and hosted meetups in Sydney, Hobart, Melbourne, Calgary, Toronto, Portland, Pittsburgh, Seattle, London, Dublin, and Prague! I’ve met so many wonderful people this year 😊

These projects are some of my favourites from 2018; ones that represent new or refined techniques, newly beloved ingredients, things I use every day, and things you guys fell in love with. Thank you so much for all your support this year—I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to do so much making and share it with so many wonderful, encouraging, inquisitive people ❤️ You guys are the best!

Sugar Plum Cleansing Conditioner

This Sugar Plum Cleansing Conditioner is a wonderful continuation to the fun I've been having making cleansing conditioners over the last few months. My aim with this one was to create something lighter that could work better for anyone with hair that can be easily...

Sheer Satin Cheek & Lip Tint

This punchy red liquid cheek and lip tint has become a fast favourite of mine. On first glance it’s a thin, vibrant red liquid. It’s less red than you expect on application, and the slip is divine; lightweight and satiny, with a finish that is unexpectedly rich...

Oil Cleansing Gel

When I was in Montreal last year I visited Coop Coco, a local DIY supplier, and poked around, looking for things I didn’t have that would fit in my suitcase. I ended up picking up a bottle of Sucragel, a cold-process emulsifier I’d never worked with before, brought it...

Creamy Lip Balm

This rich, creamy lip balm came out of the experiments I did as I was developing my recipe for my Basic Moldable Lipstick Base. It was the far end of my "let's make this creamier" experiments, and while I loved how it felt, it basically glued itself to the inside of...

Things I Learned in 2018

Welcome to my annual Things I Learned in post. I usually start working on this post the day the one for the previous year is published—the discussion in the comments is always fantastic and inspires new revelations to share the following year. 2018 was a busy one for me, packed with a ton of travel (eight individual trips, five countries, and 32 flights!), lots of fantastic Humblebee & Me meet ups, and so much learning and experimentation. I attended my first conferences, spoke in four different US states, and met so many wonderful people all over the world. This was my second full year of full-time blogging and I simply cannot express how incredibly grateful I am to all of you for making this possible. Your support helps cover the costs of not only hosting, ingredients, and equipment, but also rent, dog food, groceries, and car insurance. My wonderful patrons get an extra measure of love and appreciation for their ongoing and direct support of Humblebee & Me, but every single one of you who visits, comments, emails, and DIYs with me helps to keep Humblebee & Me online. I appreciate your support, questions, and encouragement so much!

Now, without further blithering, let’s get into those things I learned!

Things I Learned in 2018

Re-read these annual entries; it’s amazing how many lessons are learned more than once, or revised.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, and REFUSE. Don’t adopt things you don’t need. If you can politely decline a gift (say, a grab bag at a party or a company branded PR item), do. It’s so much easier to never have something in your life than to bring it into your home and find it weeks, months, or years later and have to make decisions about it.

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An Interview with Lab Muffin’s Michelle

Today I’m super excited to share an interview with Michelle from Lab Muffin. Michelle has a PhD in chemistry and has been teaching people about the science behind skin care at Lab Muffin for the last seven years. I love her clear explanations, her hilarious Instagram account, and her brilliant explanatory videos. I reached out to her a few weeks ago with a very fan-girly email and was stoked when she agreed to be interviewed, and here we are!

An Interview with Lab Muffin's Michelle

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Humblebee & Me is 7!

Hey Bees! I can scarcely believe Humblebee & Me is seven—if this blog were a wee person she’d be able to read and tie her own shoes and would probably be planning on going as Laura Ingles Wilder for Halloween so she had an excuse to wear a starched bonnet to school. This year has been a really fun one of learning, travelling, meet-ups, and more!

Happy seventh birthday, Humblebee & Me!

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DIY Don’ts: Things You Shouldn’t DIY

When I first got into DIYing I quickly got very excited about all the things I could make—lip balms, lotions, body butters, oh my! I went through my house with new eyes, looking for things I could possibly replace with new, homemade versions. It was positively intoxicating! Anywho, I thought we could take a moment to talk about the sorts of things you shouldn’t DIY—because while it can be fun to try and DIY everything, it’s not always a good idea. Let’s stay safe and smart when we DIY 😊

DIY Don'ts: Things You Shouldn't DIY

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The Humblebee & Me Studio Tour

I’m pretty excited about this post—it’s crazy long overdue, and one of my most requested posts ever! Over the years I’ve had tons of requests to see my studio and how I store my ingredients, and to be honest… up until recently it really wasn’t pretty. Most of my stuff was in a dark, cramped basement, and wasn’t so much organized as scattered around wherever things could fit, with some sorta-kinda ideas of grouping things together wherever possible. However, with my recent move I was given the chance to totally re-build and re-think my studio from scratch. It took about a month, with several trips to IKEA, quite a lot of scouring Kijiji posts, and some help from some very good friends to move my massive slab of marble, but the new Humblebee & Me studio is done and ready for a tour!

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Let’s start with what I use my studio for: most of my making (stove bits happen in the kitchen), and all my photography and filming. All my ingredients live in there (save the ones that live in a corner of my fridge), as does all of my equipment (spatulas, scales, blenders, spoons, etc.) and packaging. So, it’s storage + production, all in one tidy(ish) package!

 

The Humblebee & Me Studio Tour

 

Because of the filming/photography needs, I kept the room bright. The walls were already white, and I was careful to keep all the shelving white as well. Thankfully this was very easy as IKEA makes pretty much everything in a white version, and it’s often the cheapest colour available! Booyah. The curtains are inexpensive blackout curtains from Wayfair, and they’re black.

I measured the square footage of shelving I was using in my old home, and it came out to a rather astonishing 80ft², or 7.5m². That’s a lot of shelf space (and I’m pretty sure there was more I forgot to account for). Here’s what the new space has:

All in all that’s about 80ft² (7.5m²), of shelving and drawer space—about the same as at the old place. It’s a bit ridiculous, but it works.

Now into the reality of things: how have I organized my stuff, and where does it go? Let’s start with a floor plan to help keep you oriented. Most of my ingredients live on the MULIG shelves; they ended up being perfectly sized. For most things, one shelf held my entire selection of clays/emulsifiers/etc. Click the image to see it large enough to read the text! The what-goes-where is pretty straightforward, but I’ve detailed some of the more expand-upon-able stuff below the floor plan.

I got the little dividing containers from Kijiji, but later saw them at Dollarama.

Essential & Fragrance Oils

These are stored in drawers; the ALEX unit I purchased has five shorter drawers and four taller ones, so I chose the bottom short drawer and the top tall drawer (so they’d be right on top of each other). 15mL–30mL bottles are in the shorter drawer, 100mL bottles are in the taller drawer. I bought a roll of round white stickers and used those to label the caps of each bottle so I can identify the bottles from top-down. I used black ink for essential oils, and red for fragrance oils. It’s quite a slick system, and thanks to the drawer bit my oils are shielded from the light.

The larger (500mL) bottles of essential and fragrance oils are stored in a doored cupboard.

Micas & Pigments

I’m quite happy with how these are sorted! I used the top four shorter drawers of my ALEX and arranged them by the rainbow:

  • Red & pink
  • Orange, yellow, brown, gold, copper, bronze
  • Green, turquoise, teal, blue, purple, indigo, violet
  • Black, white, silver/grey

Carrier Oils & Butters

These are stored in a doored cupboard to help shield them from the light. Carrier oils get one shelf, butters get another. The bottom of both doored cupboards hold my larger bottles of oils (3–4L) to anchor the cupboards down!

Packaging

For the most part, my packaging is in a series of wooden boxes with sliding lids. These live along the shelf that runs the length of the closet. I labelled them using 6″ lengths of blackboard tape and a white blackboard marker. This set-up allows me to re-label the boxes if necessary, but so far the blackboard marker ink has proved pretty smudge-proof when dry. Some additional packaging lives in the bottom drawers of the ALEX.

Photo props

These live in a bookshelf right near the marble table for easy access. Underneath the table I’ve stacked up the larger photo back-drops made from old fence boards and the like. I also keep my dress form nearby as she’s my focussing dummy!

Gallery of more images

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Well, that’s my studio! I hope you enjoyed a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at where I create 🙂 What’s your making space like?

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