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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

After the Holidays, Now What?

It's January.  The tree and decorations are down and the parties and gift-giving are over.  Here in New York, we have a heavy cover of snow so deep that it nearly buried the little lighted deer in our front yard.

Now what?  What do we do and where do we go now that our lives are not caught up in holiday activities?

Indeed, everything begins anew on January 1st, so I should be hustling from one thing to another-- bookkeeping and readying for tax time, re-organizing my supplies and workspace and producing my Valentine's and not far behind, my spring line, right?  Instead, on January 2nd, I felt like hibernating.   In fact, just between you and me, I spent one whole day in sweats and didn't even make dinner!

It seems to me that a little downtime is a good thing, in reality, especially if it is used to think about and plan how to get out of the After-the-Holidays Funk.  (There, I named it, so it's official).  Nevertheless, getting back to normal is extremely important to me, so allowing myself to wallow in my mud pit of fatigue is simply not acceptable.  I'm actually using this Funk time to think about what needs to be done to get where I need to be.

For instance, until about two weeks before Christmas, I was doing well at getting some exercise and eating a healthy diet.  All of that went the way of a sled on an icy hill somewhere between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was made worse by the fact that my birthday is on January 1st, thus extending the fun and games for a little while longer.  This doesn't have to become a habit, however, so I am working back to better healthy habits that will help restore my energy and outlook.  I even bought kale yesterday.

I'm planning my schedule to accomplish my goals, knowing that I have to set deadlines.  This is very good for me because, as the old saying goes, "If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it."  And yes, I'm moving toward those goals--the tree is down, the carpets are scheduled to be cleaned, and I made soap!

How about you?  Can you relate to my feelings?  What do you do to make January a meaningful and productive month?

*Watch out for a clearance sale--it's coming!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Fireworks and Flowers

Independence Day.  For those of you in the US, what's the first thing you think of?  My guess is that it's fireworks, the traditional way of celebrating this holiday.  My town does a spectacular job of hosting a fireworks display at one of our town parks.  People from all over come to enjoy the show.  

I see a Chrysanthemum

Just as a tidbit of information, one of our founding fathers, John Adams, expressed his desire and prediction that the day would be filled with fireworks, picnics and all sorts of celebration of our independence; and indeed, he was right!  Picnics were the order of the day, and thousands of people in my area made their way to enjoy fireworks.

Shasta Daisy

This year, as the show started, a ground display of the US flag glowed and the crowd rose to sing the national anthem.  It sent shivers up my spine to see the patriotism displayed.

I was able to take a few pictures of the display, a few that I'm sharing with you here.  What do you see in looking at some of them?  To me, many of them look like flowers.  If you were wondering what this post had to do with either gardening or soap, now you know.  I just thought you'd enjoy the connection.  :-)

What do you think?  Do you see flowers?

Spider Mum

Soap and Garden AD - In honor of the 4th, the sale is Buy 3, get the 4th free!  Buy any three products and get the 4th one free.  The free item is the least expensive one.  Simply mention BLOG4th.  Sale is good through July 13th, 2012.

Featuring Gardener's Soaps: 
   Original - essential oil blend with natural exfoliants
   Cedarwood - for gentlemen
   Floral Garden - blend of floral notes
  Gardener's Salt Soap - exfoliating salt spa bar exfoliates and softens.  Pretty pink!

Summer Scents:
   Creamy Dreamsicle - Smells like a creamsicle; made with carrots
   Spun Sugar - Smells like cotton candy
   Pina Colada - Pineapple and coconut to take you to the islands

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Garden Meanderings: Good Soap or Bad Soap?

Good Soap or Bad Soap?

What's the big deal about making good soap?  How do you know if a person makes good soap?  

I was asked these questions not too long ago, and they are very good questions!  The first one is quite easy to answer, but the second one I had to ponder.

Generally speaking, the goal of a soapmaker is to create a bar that is well-balanced, meaning it lathers and cleans well, is hard enough, and yet, not drying.  This is accomplished by using various fats and oils.  Some oils make a hard bar, others a conditioning bar, and so on.  Nevertheless, there are times when a soapmaker will want one that is extra-conditioning, such as a facial bar for mature skin, or extra-cleansing for a mechanic's soap.  Non-soapers would be surprised at all of the possible oil combinations a soapmaker could use, but that's part of the fun for most soapmakers, and thus the big deal about making good soap.

The second question, how one determines if a soapmaker makes good soap is much more difficult to answer.  Aside from what is probably obvious-- if the soap looks or smells funky or has rotting matter in it, you'll have to dig a little deeper.  

  1.    If you wash with the soap and it stings or dries out your hands, it may be that the soap is not mild enough.  Personally, I have never used a handcrafted bar of soap like this, but it is conceivable.  Conversely, if the soap is on the soft side and doesn't seem to clean well, it may not be strong enough.

  2.    Question the soapmaker.  How long have you been making soap?  What oils do you prefer?  How do you know you have made a good batch?  If the person doesn't mind sharing the oils used, the process, her experience, and other details, chance are, you are purchasing good soap!  Although it is possible for one to make a perfectly good batch on the first try and to use the same recipe for each subsequent batch, it's research and experience that produces a really good, knowledgeable soapmaker.  That's the person you can buy with confidence from.

If you're really nervous about whether the soap is OK or not, you can do what most good soapers do, the tongue test.  Ready?  Very gently and quickly, touch the tip of your tongue to a bit of the soap.  Don't lick it.  Don't keep your tongue there for 30 seconds!  Just a quick touch will do.  If you feel the "zing" like a 9-volt battery, the soap is not skin-worthy.  If it just tastes like soap, you're OK.  Or, you could ask your soapmaker how she (or he, of course) tests it!

Batch #1, "Dig My Patchouli" Soap

Batch #2, "Dig My Patchouli" Soap

Which one do you like better?
 Please Vote!!!

This week's ad:  

Clearing out lotions!  All 8 oz. bottles I have in stock are a whopping 25% off. Regularly $12, now only $9  The bottle is metal and features a pump for your convenience. Scents include:

Gingered Orange (tangy orange with a tiny bite of ginger)
Black Raspberries & Vanilla (nice berry scent.  Everybody likes this one)
Spun Sugar  (cotton candy sweet)
Sultry Sandalwood Vanilla (smooth sandalwood with a bit of sweet vanilla.  Very sultry!)

*Note:  I am not discontinuing lotion altogether, I just want to sell these last few before I make another batch.

Get them while you can for gifts and for yourself!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Do These Three Allergens Affect You?

Some are even allergic to the lovely lavender
What about allergies?  Often, customers come to me because they are allergic or sensitive to the commercial products they use, and are hoping that mine will be kinder to their skin.  Often, it's true.  Products crafted with natural oils and other ingredients may be just the ticket for sensitive skin.  Unfortunately, as much as I would like that to be true, it isn't always.

The fact is that people can experience sensitivities or allergies to any number of substances, either natural essential oils or synthetically created ingredients.  What's worse is that they can show up at any time.  A product that you have used for years may suddenly cause a rash.  Your threshold for tolerating a particular ingredient has been crossed, causing a problem for your skin.

(Please note that I will be using sensitivity and allergen interchangeably in the rest of this piece, even though they are not the same.  It just reads better and whether you're sensitive or allergic, both are negative reactions.)

Nevertheless, some substances are more likely to be culprits than others. My first suspect when people speak of reactions is scent, or fragrance oils.  Scents are made up of an unknown number of components, both natural and synthetic, and are proprietary, meaning that only the developer knows exactly what they contain.   The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) is constantly working to keep fragrances as safe as possible, but it is unlikely that it will ever be possible to create fragrances that no one reacts to.  Moreover, if it is not synthetic fragrance, then it might be essential oils, which are derived from various parts of vegetation.  Just as we may or may not be allergic to Poison Ivy, we may or may not be allergic to other plant matter.

If the problem is not due to scent, it may be due to color or a preservative.  A small percentage of the population is sensitive to some preservatives, which hold down microbial growth in products.  Some are very allergic to various colorants.  Virtually any other ingredient, with the exception of water, is on the list of possible allergens or irritants, as well.

What's a person to do?  One method of determining sensitivity is to dab the product in the inside of your forearm, just below the elbow.  Cover with a bandage and go to bed.  In the morning (or sooner, if it bothers you), remove the bandage and check the spot.  If it is red and irritated or itchy, something in the product does not agree with your skin.  Wash it off well and take note of the ingredients.  With time and careful notes, you may discover the offender.

It is important to be very careful if you suffer from many sensitivities.  Taking a bath using a soap you're sensitive to is going to be a bigger problem than a dab on your arm, so do the test with any new product. Read product labels carefully if you know your allergens so you can avoid them.  If you purchase handcrafted products, tell your vendor that you have many sensitivities and list those you know.  Your soapmaker extraordinaire might head off troubles at the pass by steering you toward or away from certain products. Keep in mind that the manufacturer is responsible for accurate listing of ingredients and you are responsible for checking before using and using them safely.

Good business owners want to please thier customers and provide safe products.  I strive to do just that.  Realistically, however, I know that it would be impossible to manufacture a product that no one is sensitive to, so I want to make my customers aware of the possibility.  Together we can keep reactions to a minimum so that you can have the most beautiful, healthy skin possible!


Weekly ad

Clearing out lotions!  All 8 oz. bottles I have in stock are a whopping 25% off. Regularly $12, now only $9  Scents include:
This isn't one of the scents on sale, but  the can looks like this.

Gingered Orange (orange with a bite of ginger)
Black Raspberries & Vanilla (nice berry scent)
Spun Sugar  (cotton candy sweet)
Sultry Sandalwood Vanilla (smooth sandalwood with a bit of sweet vanilla)

Valentine's Soaps:  each bar is $5; package of three conversation hearts is just $10

In addition, orders of $75 and up get free shipping.

Sale good until 2/18/12.  Orders right around Valentine's Day may be delayed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanks and Black Small Cyber Sale!

Cucumber Soap made for a garden club talk 
I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday, hopefully with loved ones.  My husband, three of my kids, and my friend, Janet, spent the holiday together, enjoying the delicious feast of turkey and trimmings, as well as good company.  I sincerely thank Jesus for his provision and bountiful blessings.

Thankful is one of those things that is often hard to really be.  If you're like me, and I suspect that you are, you find it easy to fall into complaining and self-pity, especially when things are not going the way we want them to go.  Sometimes, it's just inconvenient or annoying; other times, things really are bad.

It's important to take a step back and think.  Some of the best advice I've ever received was, "Don't sweat the small stuff."  It's actually profound and yet, practical.  If it's not small stuff, face it head-on.  Either way, count the blessings you do have, and find a way to help someone else.  That will help your attitude and eventually, your (our) circumstances.

Surely, you've heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  You may also have heard of Small Business Saturday.  Well, I'm rolling all three into one event.

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday Sale!

All three days, rolled into one

FIVE & FREE SALE! - Buy any 5 products and get one free

Note terms and conditions below:

*Sale continues until midnight EST, Monday, Nov. 28

*Free product is same or lesser value to products purchased

*Possible limitations due to my unlikely limitations in offering product, meaning if I can't get the supplies in a timely manner I may not be able to offer it to you. I don't anticipate it as a problem, but, just in case.

*Shipping for heavy objects, such as large terra cotta pots, incur higher shipping costs. I will email you with the exact shipping price.


Not on my site, but also available:

Herbal Bath Teas: Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey, Purely Herbal Blend, Four Milk Blend, and Relaxation Blend - just $2/ea. 

Liquid shower gel: Natural. 2 oz. for $4; 4 oz. $6.00;  8 oz.  $11 -  In any scent listed above.

Lotion: Hand 
and body lotion - 4 oz., $7, 8 oz., $12

Foaming Soap: Comes in the seasonal Apple Pie, plus Gingered Orange, Summer Tropical, Lavender, 
and any other scent I sell. Just $7/bottle for 6 fl. oz.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

Where does the time go?  The last time I posted on my blog it was summer, and now here it is, mid-fall!  Apparently, the fall hustle-and-bustle took its toll on me and my blogging.  Now, instead of sitting in shorts and eating a peach, I'm in jeans and a sweater, eating an apple.

It was a weird summer, weather-wise, and autumn no different.  I didn't get any Hydrangea blooms (boo hoo), but I have some flowers blooming now that one would never expect in NY in October.  I'm posting some of those pictures, but I've also noticed Clematis, Centaurea Montana, and even a rose blooming.  Honestly, I don't know if that's good or bad!  Thankfully, my area was not part of that east coast ridiculously early and awful snow storm of last Saturday!

How about you?  Does hustle and bustle describe you?  Has your weather been weird?

About soap:  I've been slowly working at labeling and shrinkwrapping my stockpile of soap.  If you want something, go ahead and ask.  I might have it ready, or I may have it ready in a hurry.

The Begonia is what is showy here

Coryadylis, usually blooms in May

Pixie Lily


Another Begonia
Here is the current ad.  Order Today!

It's gotten cold here in NY.  Leaves are falling and we're getting our first hard frost.  We're thinking chili, hot tea, and our favorite autumn scents, pumpkin and apple and spices.

To celebrate, we are featuring our two fall soaps:

Spicy Pumpkin Pie
Cinnamon Apple

They are available for just $5/bar, $1 off of our usual $6.  Don't hesitate, though, they are available only while supply lasts!


Not on my site, but also available:

Herbal Bath Teas: Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey, Purely Herbal Blend, Four Milk Blend, and Relaxation Blend - just $2/ea. 

Liquid shower gel: Natural. 2 oz. for $4; 4 oz. $6.00;  8 oz.  $11 -  In any scent listed above.

Lotion: Hand 
and body lotion - 4 oz., $7, 8 oz., $12

Foaming Soap: Comes in the seasonal Apple Pie, plus Gingered Orange, Summer Tropical, Lavender, 
and any other scent I sell. Just $7/bottle for 6 fl. oz.