Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My soap spoke to me today...

Imagine my surprise, as I'm wrapping soap for a wholesale account, when I see what appears to be a word in my soap! A greeting, just a simple word: "Yo!" (exclamation added by me). Visions of 'Rocky' and the voice of Sylvester Stallone in my head for a brief moment.

I often get smiley faces and what looks like the Arabic alphabet. Once, I even got a dragon with a tail shaped like a spade. All of these "designs" are serendipitous. See, I make soap in big 60 pound blocks and while there is some effort to make artistic flourishes with color and texture, any words or pictures created inside the soap is just a happy accident.

This soap is now on the shelf at one of the local stores that I sell to. I hope whomever buys it, will see the greeting and smile.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eat tomatoes and improve your skin

Study underlines how lycopene can lead to smoother skin

I adore garden fresh tomatoes and dream all winter about them. I love all kinds, especially those unusual heirloom type. My favorite salad: chopped tomatoes, EVOO, fresh basil, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Yum.

Research shows that eating foods rich in lycopene (like tomatoes) will make your skin smoother (see link to article). So this summer, hit your local farmers market, indulge in tomatoes of all types and make yourself beautiful!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

'Passion into Action'...a women's conference

If you're in Grass Valley this weekend and you're looking for something to do, there's a women's conference happening at the Holiday Inn Express on Saturday, January 23. It's called "Passion into Action; everyday women doing extraordinary things for the planet". Sounds pretty cool!

There's a pretty impressive line of up speakers and workshops, see their website and blog for more info. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at Briarpatch co-op or the website referenced.

I'll be there in the expo room, handing out samples of soap and my new brochure that I really love. I'll also have soap and whipped shea butter for sale. I believe the hours are 8:30 to 5:30. Hope to see some of you locals there!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

You washed your hair with what??

This story starts out with me running out of shampoo. There was nothing in the shower but bars of soap and an empty shampoo bottle (by the time I noticed this it was too late to rummage through the cupboards). So I thought, what the heck, I'll try out my goatmilk soap on my hair. I mean, it's nice on my skin, might be nice on my hair, worth a try!

It lathered up nicely and felt good in my hair, even upon rinse out. I have some highlights in my hair, so it tends to feel straw like if I use the wrong product. Well, I didn't get any of that "straw hair" feeling. I added a tiny bit of conditioning, rinsed and wrapped my hair in a towel.

Comb out, no tangles. Nice! Still no straw hair, thank goodness. It dried nicely and hubby said my hair looked great! Even the next day, it felt pretty good. Which got the old gears turning...why don't I formulate a soap bar specifically for hair??

Now I want to preface all this with a couple things...first, bar soap does not work for everyone's hair. I did some reading and it seems that folks with hard water don't get good results with bar soap. Also, it is recommended that an acidic rinse follows the shampoo. Something like diluted apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, or citric acid. Even then there is no guarantee that bar soap will work for you. But, if you are one of the lucky one's who's hair LOVES bar soap, you will never go back to the synthetic bottled stuff. I mean, why would you?

So I got something down on paper for a bar soap designed for hair. Something with plenty of castor oil, olive, coconut, jojoba and maybe wheatgerm. I also want to infuse some hair loving herbs like rosemary, maybe add some milk or silk to the mix. Still researching, but it sounds good to me so far!

Other advantages to using shampoo bar soap on your hair: no artificial ingredients or preservatives (liquid shampoo is made from surfactants, water is added which needs a preservative), no plastic packaging so there's nothing to junk up our landfills.

Anyway, I have plenty to do before I play with this, but I'd really like to try this out soon. I will report back when I get something made, maybe even offer up a free trial if there is interest.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Clean the World!

I learned of a non-profit yesterday called "Clean The World". They collect used soap and shampoo from hotels, clean them, repackage the bars and ship them to poor countries like Haiti. It's a win/win situation...everyone knows that hand washing with soap helps prevent disease, and by repurposing this soap, it's less garbage in our landfills.

With the recent disaster in Haiti, the need for soap is even more essential. This weekend, I'm packing up a big box of soap to ship to Florida, and then it goes on to Haiti. I am thrilled and feel so blessed to be able to help in some small way.

Check out this youtube video to see more about "Clean The World" and their efforts in Haiti. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7LzNOXKi0A&feature=player_embedded

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Weather Watching

I am a compulsive weather watcher. I love going online and checking out the forecast, the live radars, I even watch the Caltrans live traffic cameras for clues on what's going on up the hill. Okay, so that's one weird thing you now know about me. Why am I mentioning it? Well, we've got some severe weather ahead next week and I'm concerned about getting orders out. I will, of course, get them out. I mean that's what four-wheel drive was invented for! But gee, navigating roads where the residents are not accustomed to driving in snow (we only get 3 or 4 good snows per winter), it can be nerve wracking. So here's hoping the weatherman is exaggerating!

Good news, though. I got the oil that I needed so desperately, it came today. That was good news to wake up to, I tell ya. So I'm back out in the workshop tomorrow! Yes! A few restocks, 'Yuba Wild' (very popular) and 'Lavender Fields' (an oldie but goodie). Then I can play with new scent blends, and THAT is what I'm really looking forward to.

Until next time, stay warm and dry out there.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inspiration and Impatience

I am bursting with ideas for new soap...I should be thrilled, right? One big problem: I am out of one of my main soaping oils. Argh! Ok, no problem, quick on the phone and order up some oil from a fine semi-local supplier. Since this particular supplier isn't that far away, I expected a quick turn around. A few days later, no oil. After several calls and several promises to get it out asap, I am still looking for a delivery. I am praying it shows up tomorrow, because I am (almost literally) on fire to get down to the business of making soap!

Well, I suppose it's my own fault...in all the frenzy of getting the holiday orders tied up, I missed restocking ONE item. Not too bad considering all the different raw materials I use. However, this one oil, I cannot make soap without it, it's critical to my formula. So I'm waiting and watching...patiently.

On the positive side, in all the long hours of waiting for my delivery, I have brainstormed yet another new soap to my long list of possible new flavors. If I love them all as much as I'm thinking I will, half will be launched in late winter (February-ish), and the rest just as the summer markets kick off in May.

Can you be patient with me? It will be worth it, I promise!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Happy New Year!

Twenty ten! Yep, it's gonna be a good year I can feel it in my bones. I am so energized and ready to hit the workshop, but the end of year chaos left my workshop and office in disarray. So it's organizing and cleaning this weekend, only then can I begin creating my spring soap line. And I'm very excited to get started, but the dirty work first.

Just because I can't get out to the workshop doesn't mean that I've been idle! No sir. For the past week, I have been brainstorming every free moment I get, consulting old notes and jotting things down. I think I have a good workable list of possible new soaps ready to be tested.

Right now, I'm looking at six new soaps; 2 old favorites and 4 brand new blends. I'm leaning pretty heavy toward citrus this year...I'm bringing back an old favorite (I just got too many pleading requests to ignore it any longer), 'Ginger Lime'. No fancy name here, just good fresh ginger and snappy lime. It's a pretty soap too, half green, half peach color. All natural colorants, of course. It costs me a bit more to make, but I feel it's worth bringing back into my regular line.

Also, another soap returning is 'Lemon Bouquet': lavender and lemongrass. Sweet and fresh smelling in a mosaic of colors. No reason it dropped off my radar, except that it's a bit more labor intensive. That was probably it. I happen to love this particular blend, but my hand aches for days after I make it. Why? Because of all the hand cut pieces of colored soap (see photo). I have to chop up LOADS of it. It's worth it though, it's a lovely soap.

Now you'll have to wait for the other four. I have to keep some suspense going here! Plus these last four are truly brand new blends. Somewhere between paper and creation, some things might need to be tweeked before final release. I am a perfectionist and I have to hit a blend exactly how I "visualized" it, or it won't make the cut to final production.

Another change I'm planning is to up the amount of shea butter I include in my soap. I love shea butter...unrefined, raw, fragrant and good for you shea butter. I think we can all benefit from just a tad more shea in soap, so I'll hang the extra expense and go for it. After all, I use this soap too and want only to use the best.

What changes will you be making this month?