Somehow, vanilla has come to mean no-frills... boring... mundane. "She's so vanilla", or "my life is so vanilla" is not understood to be a good thing. It's pretty insulting, actually, and I am not happy about the bad rap that vanilla has gotten over the years.
My favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla. For as long as I can remember, its my go-to - I don't stray. Sometimes, I'll throw in a some rainbow sprinkes or maybe even some butterscotch, but the base is always vanilla... boring?
My favorite scent is vanilla. I only burn vanilla candles, and if I wear a perfume or body spray, its always vanilla. Vanilla incense and vanilla lotion are sexy.
Plain and simple, maybe. But how is that bad?
Lately, vanilla has taught me a few things and being the profound lady that I am, I am about to impart its existential meaning to me, to you.
Ask any soap maker... Vanilla is tough fragrance to work with. Vanilla has this natural component - vanillin (C8H8O3 hardly a simple compound)- the component that makes it what it is; the compound that gifts us the hypnotizing smell that is so familiar,we can identify anywhere.
Vanillin turns soap brown. Even the slightest vanillin content in a fragrance or additive can turn a snowy white soap batter brown or any shade of tan in between. And the truth is... we are never exactly sure what shade we are going to end up with.
Photo 1 by Jill Tate McHeffey, showing various soaps made with the same oils, but different scents that contain vanillin, and one that doesn't... Photo 2 by Tabitha Rupe, showing a soap that was made with half the batter scented with vanilla, and the white swirl left unscented.
They make additives and that are supposed to counteract the discoloration, and they work...sometimes. Sometimes, they work for a few weeks, and then BAM - they stop working. They merely delay the inevitable.
So much about life is inevitable. I know we all like to think we have free will, and while that in itself could be the topic of hundreds of blog posts and debates, I am of the opinion that everything we do is predetermined by every experience we've had, every decision we've made in the past. Those things all determine our future. There is no choice. It's all an illusion.
You know what else is an illusion?
White. Vanilla. Soap.
So what do we do?
We've learn to embrace the uncertainty of vanilla in our soaps and so we sprinkle color around it to draw out its natural brown beauty. We add some pink mica, maybe some sparkles and a little swirl for good measure.
Does any of this sound familiar?
W.T.S. is a family business. Husband, Wife, and 2 young sons. Our life, to some of our friends, seems pretty vanilla. We generally know the trajectory of the day, week and month. Soccer, baseball, visits with Grandma & Grandpa, repeat. Things don't change all that much from day to day. We're comfortable. Familiar.
But everyday, we throw in some rainbow sprinkles, drizzle on some butterscotch, and suddenly, the vanilla is not boring. Its the base of all the wonderful things that we have in our life. Its the familiarity and security of life. It's what grounds us and allows us to relax.
So, I love my vanilla life. Vanilla is awesome. Vanilla is full of surprises.
Don't let the haters tell you anything different.
Want to see photos of how different fragrances containing vanilla can discolor soap? Here is an amazing blog post by the Soap Queen!