Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Not Too Bad

My Chocolate Pumpkin Soap is cured and ready to go.You can read about my lessons when I made it and see pictures of it fresh out of the mold here. It hardened quite nicely despite the early "sponginess." I do think I added a little too much TDO to the top layer because it had a slight cracked appearance and the lather was a little slimy on the side. However, the soap smells divine, has a nice overall lather, and leaves my skin nice and soft despite the cold weather.




As you can see, there is a nice contrast between the layers. I love the warm chocolate color of the bottom layer. You can kind of see what I mean about a cracked appearance on the top layer, but it doesn't affect the texture of the soap itself.

One thing I did notice is that the lather is a little brown (doesn't stain the skin) and when you rinse it honestly looks like when you shower after a weekend of camping. I know it is from the cocoa powder layer in between the layers. Does anyone know if that's normal? It doesn't change the fact that it is a wonderful bar of soap, but I'm a little curious.

Do you have any tips on using titanium dioxide or making a powder layer in between two layers?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sad Craft Show

I went to a craft show yesterday that was just awful. The turn out was terrible, from 12:30 to 1:30 there was nobody but vendors in the place. Plus, the a/c was on, so we were really cold. I mean sweaters and shivering cold. They also did not have any concessions, which is usually a good fundraiser, and the drink machines were out of service. Overall, I have to say one of the worst shows I've done.

I think the organizers had a good idea. They had an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast that included pictures with Santa, and this was REALLY well attended, nobody was shopping and some didn't even know there was a craft fair too. They also organized a small concert by one of the middle schools. So, they had activities to draw people, but these were aimed at parents, not craft fair shoppers.

I was also disappointed by the lack of organization. I never received a confirmation that I was in, so I had to call the lady about set up times. When I arrived, the organizer had gotten me confused with someone else and given my booth to someone else. There were some other problems and it just didn't go well.

It was lesson learned for me. If they don't even have a method to communicate with you, such as an application, don't do the show. All she had was my name, no phone number and no email. I hope they learned a few things, but we were not asked for feedback, so I doubt it.

There were a few vendors that this was their very first show and I truly hope that they do not decide not to do any more shows. Many are well organized, widely advertised, and well attended. Hopefully, next weekend will be a more enjoyable experience.

Friday, December 3, 2010

New Job!

I'm so excited, I started a new job this week. I am teaching 7th and 8th grade science. I've never taught middle school before, but so far, I really like it. I have some pretty awesome kids. I have more than a couple over-achievers, which I haven't had many of before. I've had kids who thought they should get all A's from me, but not many that were willing to go that extra step to actually earn it. I also enjoy the fact that they are (for the most part) kind to each other and are willing to help each other out.

I know I will run into some issues and that there will be days when I just do not enjoy my job, but for now, all seems well.

Plus...I'm no longer unemployed, which is a big load off my back :) I truly hope to keep this job for next year. I don't like changing jobs and after the way I lost my last job, I have a pretty bruised ego. I know I would get by, but I'd like to know that someone else thinks I'm as good of a teacher as I think I am.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Heading Home

We are heading to Lubbock tomorrow for Hayden's first Thanksgiving! I'm excited to get a mini vacation and the grandparents are excited to see their grand baby again. We will also be celebrating an early Christmas because Grandma didn't want to miss his first.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chocolate Pumpkin Soap

I wanted to participate in Brambleberry's Soap Swap. The idea was to make 12 bars of soap using any of their fragrance oils and then send them in. The team there would swap them around and send you other people's soap to try. I so want to try other people's so I planned out some soap using their dark chocolate and pumpkin pie oils that I purchased last year to make a gift for a friend. I also wanted to play with layers, not swirls, and a cocoa powder line.

So, I planned my soap. I would use olive, coconut, palm, and sunflower oils. I would scent the whole thing with the dark chocolate and pumpkin pie oils. Now, they both contain a little vanilla, so I knew my soap would slowly get darker. My plan was to mix a little titanium dioxide into some of the soap, so it wouldn't get as dark. Then, I had the brilliant idea to add some pumpkin puree, mainly because I had just a little left over from my last batch of pumpkin spice soap. I figured, I could mix that into the titanium dioxide.

I premixed my titanium dioxide and pumpkin, plus a little olive oil so it wasn't clumpy. I premeasured my fragrance oils. I lined my trusty mold and I was set. I blended my soap to light trace, scented it and then poured about half into the mold. I tapped my mold on the counter top to even it out. Oops, I forgot to measure out some cocoa powder! Oh well, I scoop some out and sprinkle it over the soap. I mix my titanium dioxide and pumpkin puree into the leftover soap and pour the soap into the mold. I poured it onto a spatula to keep it in a nice layer over the top. Then, I used said spatula to even out the told because the soap had gotten a little thick.




This is a few of the bars. Overall, I am happy with it. They smell great and you can see that they are already getting darker. A few lessons for next time though:

  1. The cocoa powder needs to be sifted to prevent clumps of cocoa in between the layers.
  2. Mix the pumpkin puree into the entire batch of soap or use less. My top layer looks a little spongy, but hopefully will harden nicely.
  3. Start the whole thing at a much earlier trace. You can see that my top layer was a little thick and heavy, so my layers are wavy, not flat. 
Still, happy with effect. I wish I had gotten this done earlier because they won't be cured before Dec. 3rd to send in for the Soap Swap, but I had such a good plan, I just had to go ahead with it.

What do you think? Any other tips for making layers or a little line in there?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What Did I Tell You?

I told you after my first successful attempt at diluting my soap paste to make liquid soap that it would take me FOREVER to get it right again. Well, I was right. Which, by the way, is not always a good thing. I have been playing with diluting my paste and then thickening it and it is always too thick or too thin. (You can read about my next silly adventure here.)

I think my major problem is...I'm impatient. I have the same problem with cold process soap making. I like to keep peeking while it is in the mold. It took so long to dissolve the paste with the amount of water I was using, I added more. The result: really thin soap that is impossible to thicken properly.

Using crothix as a thickener (because salt water was NOT doing it) I have made it a little too thick and so thick it actually was the consistency of GAK (if you remember that stuff). Looking back, I really should have colored and scented that in jars and marketed it to kids, but I didn't. However, it is always a possibility. I also decided that I would use the really thin soap in those foamer bottles to see if I would like it and then I could sell hand soap. So, I ordered some bottles. What did I forget to order? That's right; the pumps. Oops.

So, lesson learned. Patience is still important and I will use less water to dilute my paste and then it won't need to be thickened (much). Plus, soap bottles work much more efficiently if they have some sort of cap. I'm still going to play around with foaming hand soap though.

My word for the day is PATIENCE. What is yours?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Process Soap

I prefer making the cold process soap making way of doing things, but sometimes you need soap ready faster than that. In these cases, hot process is a perfectly acceptable way of making soap. The soap will have a different texture, but will still be wonderful, gentle, usable soap.

In addition to your normal soap making equipment, you will need a crockpot. I got mine used for $16 and it is perfect. Don't use a soap making crockpot for food! Don't forget that when making soap, safety always comes first!




The great thing about hot process soap making is that you don't have to worry about the temperature of your oils or your lye! You aren't pouring it into a mold, so if it reaches trace really soon, that's ok! First, measure out your oils into your crockpot and melt them over low heat (at least on mine, high is too high).
The bottle actually contains vinegar, which is always good to have on hand.



Then, carefully mix your sodium hydroxide and water. Always pour the NaOH into your water, never the other way around. I use almost frozen water so it doesn't get as hot and I mix it in my sink. If lye is harmful to your skin, just think what it will do to counters, floors, or anything else.
Notice I'm wearing gloves! I'm also wearing goggles.
Very carefully, pour your lye into your melted oils and mix with a stick blender (spoons work too, but that is soooo slow). Be sure you don't splash! Raw soap will burn your skin and counters. You should still be wearing your safety equipment. I mix my soap to a very heavy trace, but you only need to mix it well enough to make sure it won't separate. Mine looks lumpy and funny colored because I already added my ground chamomile flowers. Once your soap is at trace, put a lid on it and let it sit.
It will take a few hours to cook completely, but don't just leave it. Keep an eye (doesn't have to be a real close one) on it because it will start to expand and creep up in the pot and you don't want it to over flow.
Sorry about the picture, but look how much higher the soap got!



If it starts to get too close to the top, just use a spoon or spatula to stir it down. The first time you do this, it is very important to watch to make sure your soap isn't too big for your pot. I've used this pot a lot, so I'm know it will get really high, but won't overflow on low heat. Your soap is done when all of the lye has been reacted. You can test this using phenolphthalein or the tongue-zap test. Whatever you do, make sure your soap is done. I cooked mine for almost 4 hours, which was more than needed, but someone got hungry right about the time the soap was done.

When you are sure your soap is done, you will need to scent it. Check the flash point on your scent and the temp of your soap, it should be less than the flash point. Pour or scoop into a mold. It won't spread nicely like cold process, you will have to spread it. I put on my gloves and cover it with wax paper and press it flat. Be very careful not to burn yourself. It is molten soap, it'll hurt.



Let the soap cool. Once it is cool, you can unmold and cut your soap. It will be ready for use right away, but I like to let it sit a few days to harden. Again, the texture is different, but the soap will be just as good.

I know the top looks funny, but I press it well enough that the bottom looks pretty normal, so I just put the labels on that side :)

This is my Lavender Soap, which is one of my favorites! What is your favorite scent of soap?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

Today I will take a moment to say THANK YOU to all those who have and are serving our country.

In honor of all my friends and family still with us and in memory of all my friends and family that we've lost.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Coming Soon

Our line of Lil Honu products is complete! We are now offering a complete skin care set for your little one.
  • Heiny Helpers Balm-Infused with chamomile and calendula to help soothe sore heinys and then poured into a tube to keep mommy's hands clean.
  • Heiny Helpers Powder-Corn starch based powder to keep baby's heiny dry between diaper changes.
  • Lavender & Chamomile Lotion-Light, gentle lotion lightly scented with lavender and chamomile essential oils.
  • Mom's Gettin' Bigger Belly Butter-Terrific blend of cocoa and shea butters, this butter is packed with vitamins to help nourish your growing belly. We left it unscented for those mom's with sensitive noses.
We will also have some new scrubs, butters, and lotions soon. So, keep an eye on our website www.honunaturals.com to get our latest products.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm So Excited!

I got my very first online order from someone I didn't already know! I have wonderful, supportive friends and family and they have ordered off my website because they LOVE my stuff. I get so excited every time I get an email to that account; although, it is usually an email from Paypal offering me something. Not this time! A friend of mine bought sent some products to her friend in Iowa. Her friend liked it, so she bought some!

Oh, I'm just so excited! The order was packed and sent out today! May this be the first of many to come.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Too Much "All Natural"

This morning I pulled out my carton of eggs to make a tasty breakfast of scrambled eggs and biscuits and I noticed the carton was labeled "All Natural." I just sat there for a second thinking "Really, they really feel the need to label EGGS as 'all natural?'" I understand when they are labeled "organic" or "free-range," but do we really need it pointed out to us that eggs are natural.

I mean, they are still in the shells! It wasn't a carton of the processed egg whites. How could they be anything but all natural? Maybe they don't come from real chickens? As far as I know, the technology does not yet exist to make eggs in a lab. Or in a replicator. I would think that we could assume that the eggs came from real chickens, kinda like cow's milk comes from real cows.

At some point I think companies are insulting our intelligence. They want to increase sales and we all know that there is a huge movement by consumers to buy more natural products with fewer "chemicals" (that is a completely different post, so don't even get me started on that). BUT, labeling a carton of eggs as "all natural" is just....I don't know what word would work here, but it bothers me. There are times I chose to go with products that are "natural," but that's when I buy lotion or shampoo!

GRRRR!


Have you seen anything labeled "All Natural" that just made you think "Well, duh!"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cloth Diapers

When I found out I was pregnant we talked about all the things we wanted to do for our little one. One of the things discussed was our options for diapers. Did we want to do disposables or explore cloth diapers? We got started researching cloth diapering and decided that we wanted to give it a try. Of course, there were plenty of people that considered up crazy.

We had many reasons that we wanted to try cloth diapers. The most obvious reason was to avoid all that waste and I understand that we use more water and energy doing more laundry, but it is still something I wanted to do. The second reason was the cost. I know there are all sorts of articles published about how much we spend on babies and diapers are a huge part of that cost. A jumbo pack costs $20 and lasts a little less than two weeks! We spent $200 on a pail liner, sprayer (gotta clean the poop off), cloth wipes, and one size diapers. We have enough diapers to get us through 3 days, which is plenty because you are supposed to wash them every 3 days.


The diapers we chose are one size diapers, so they are designed to expand (using snaps in the front) as he grows. We have a few pocket diapers for night time use (you want easy at 2 am), but the rest are just covers and we change out the insert when it gets dirty. You just spray the poop into the toilet and toss the insert or diaper into the pail. A little baking soda can be added to prevent a stinky nursery, but we haven't had a problem with it. I also like the cloth wipes better. I just spritz his little heiny with some water and wash off. It doesn't irritate him like the disposable wipes do. Traveling isn't really a problem either. We have a small dry bag and dirty diapers just get put in it until we get home to clean them.

It is a little more work, but overall I like the cloth diapers better. We've had fewer leaks than when we have used disposables (we do keep some on hand just in case), we don't have problems with diaper rash, and I enjoy not feeling guilty about all that waste. The cloth diapers are a little bulkier, mostly because I didn't get the sized diapers, but we haven't had any problems with his cloths not fitting or interfering with his movements.

Has anyone else tried cloth diapers? What do you think?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lavender Essential Oil

Oh, how I love lavender eo. I love all the varieties (though some more than others), it is so calming that I just can't get enough. When I found out I was losing my job last May, I used it as a stress reliever all the time. I was swimming in lavender lotion, lavender soap, and I even made myself a lavender oil for my temples. I keep a little dropper bottle full in the bathroom cabinet, just in case.


Just in case what, you may ask? Just in case I need it for any of it thousands (slight exaggeration) of uses. Lavender, unlike most essential oils, can be used undiluted on adult skin. I add a few drops to all of my facial moisturizers and toners. I also use a drop directly on my skin if my eczema flares up. It really helps prevent the itching and my skin heals faster. I've used it on bug bites and bee stings. I put it in my deodorant. If I have a small cut, I put a drop on to promote healing and prevent infections. Lavender can also be used on babies (though highly diluted) and I made my newborn a lotion with a little lavender in it. He loves getting his lotion time after his bath and he is so calm after, he is completely ready to fall asleep.

Of course, this is all from my personal experience. However, if you look up uses for lavender essential oil or its properties you will find that it is considered nalgesic, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, carminative, cholagogue, choleretic, cicatrizant, cordial, cytophylactic, diuretic, emmenagogue, deodorant, hypotensive, insecticide, nervine, parasticide, rubefacient, sedative, stimulant, sudorific, tonic, vermifuge, and as a vulnerary. Which is quite a long list!

It also blends well with many other essential oils and adds a wonderful herbal scent to any blend. My favorite blend is vanilla and lavender!


What is your favorite lavender blend? What do you use lavender for in your house?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Time Again!

One of the reasons I love fall is because I love pumpkins! There is so much you can do with a pumpkin and they just look fun.

What do I do with pumpkins? Let me see. I make pumpkin puree which gets used in soap, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, and pumpkin face masks. I have enough left over in the freezer, it will probably get fed to Hayden when he is older. I roast the seeds. Oh, I love pumpkin seeds, they are so delicious and easy to make. I also love how you can make them any flavor you want, although plain salted is my favorite. Of course, we can't forget that age old tradition of carving pumpkins!
My Honu Pumpkin!
This year I got two pie pumpkins from the farmer's market I participated in. They were perfect! I have so much puree from them (read about making your own here), I don't think I'll have a shortage this next year. We got our carving pumpkins from a local farm that has a petting zoo, pony rides, and other activities for kids. Hayden was much too small to enjoy any of that, but we had fun and we got some cute pictures of him with the pumpkins.

My favorite pumpkin
What do you like to do with pumpkins? Do you have a special recipe that you use?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Soap and Baby

So, I knew that it would be hard to get much done with a newborn, I just wasn't prepared for how often he would need something. At first it was pretty much constant. By the time I got done feeding him and changing him, he'd take a 30 min nap and want to eat again. At about 4 weeks, we got into a pretty good schedule. I'd feed him, we'd play until he got fussy, then he'd go down for a nap and I'd feed him every 3 hours. It is still working, although he's playing longer and sleeping less.

Little Hayden
Considering how often I was taking care of him, I didn't think I would get anything done, but I figured out a system for my soapmaking. Right after he goes to sleep I get started. I make my lye first, since that takes so long to cool. Then I melt my oils, line my mold, and get all my extras ready. He usually starts waking before I'm finished with this, but his pacifier keeps him happy until dinner time. Then, I take a break and feed him. When he goes back to sleep I finish making the soap and clean up. I usually finish just in time for him to eat again. So, it is taking longer to finish a batch of soap, but I'm glad I get to do it. I love caring for Hayden, but getting to make soap is a welcome change to the day. I haven't tried making any balms yet, but we'll get to it.
Chocolate Mint Milk Soap

My first craft show is November 12th, so I'd better get busy. The rest of my soaps will be made in my crock pot, but they'll be wonderful just the same.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Organized

Last month a hardware store was selling some awesome shelves for half the price. I bought one set to help organize my workroom and after I got them together, I loved them so much, I went and bought another set. I got my workroom organized and it is so much easier to find the stuff I need. I have all of my containers together on one shelf. On the other, I put my products, molds, and other odds and ends.

Of course, I did this all before little Hayden got here. In fact I finished it the day before he was born! I'm glad I got it done then because I surely wouldn't have gotten it done after he came. I have recently managed to make two batches of soap though.

So, that's one more thing off my list!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Angel

My sweet angel arrived on 9-9-10. He was 9 lbs 7 oz and 19 inches long. I'm so incredibly happy, but needless to say I'm not getting much done. I'm okay with that for now and if I seem to be missing long than I was right before he came, I have a great reason.

My angel and I

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Car Seat Cover

I've been having sew (punny) much fun on my borrowed sewing machine lately! I guess one good point to being unemployed is that I have LOTS of time to get stuff done (I'm trying really hard to find the positive points here, please understand). My house is cleaner than it has been in forever. I've gotten so many projects done. I organized my soap room (pictures to come!). I've had some genius creative ideas. AND I've gotten to spend lots of time browsing the internet looking for crafty projects. Oh, and I've applied for so many jobs I can't keep up anymore.

I made my nursing cover and now I've made a car seat cover! I love it, it straps on the the carrier handle and it is fitted perfectly for the seat. So, I don't have to worry about him pulling a blanket off, a blanket being too big and hanging on the ground, or any other little problems. The biggest bonus? I picked out the material and it is exactly what we wanted! I also grabbed some other material that I couldn't resist, it has little blue and brown elephants on it and so I might make another.

Car seat cover closed. I followed the tutorial from Make it Do. I love her tutorials because she has sooo many pics to help.


What do you think, not bad for my first try!

Cover open, I like the brighter pattern on the inside for him to look enjoy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Soap Class!

I taught my very first soap class to two very fun women. Thanks to Deidre and Jory for coming over and letting me teach you about soapmaking! We had so much fun and they were full of great questions. It was really nice to get to share information and talk soap. Most people aren't that interested in the soap making process. They may love my soap, but they don't really want to know how I did it.

My students were just awesome and their soap looks so good! I'm delivering it to them tomorrow and I hope they are as excited as I am. Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures, but we had lots of fun and I hope they take what they learned and make lots of fun soap!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

One Track Mind

I'll admit it; lately, I've had a completely one track mind! I just can't stop myself. I made a list of all the things I just HAVE to get done for my little Stoney gets here and the list IS NOT GETTING SHORTER.

Of course, that couldn't be because I keep thinking of things to add, but that is beside the point.

Apparently, this is completely normal and is called nesting. You know, when people tell you about nesting, this is not what I imagined. My house is definitely cleaner and I thought it would end there, but apparently not. I've also insisted that we repaint our bedroom and both the bathrooms, I've gone through the ENTIRE house and send loads of stuff to Goodwill, I've rearranged the garage, and starting making stuff for the baby (and planning stuff for me)! This was not in any of the pregnancy books.
Nursing cover I made from a pattern I found @ Prudent Baby. I love the little peek-a-boo feature at the top!

The plus side for my business is that I've done a lot of work on stuff for baby. I have a lotion, powder, balm, massage oil, and diaper spray. I'm just waiting on my last few labels and then it will be released! On the down side, that is about all I've gotten done. Oh well, I will come to learn balance.

So, the biggest news...if little Stoney doesn't get here sooner, he will be here Thursday! So, if I thought I had a one track mind before, I wonder what it will be like after. Probably sleepy!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Nursing Cover

I did it! I made my very first nursing cover. I know it has nothing to do with soap or skin care, but I'm just so excited! I got the pattern from Prudent Baby, which is a blog I just adore. I decided to give it a try.

It was not going well because my sewing machine used to belong to my mother and I think it is the one she learned to sew on. The tension controls are not quite what they used to be and a straight stitch does not work out like it should. So, I borrowed a friend's machine and was able to finish my project. It took me about an hour to complete, but it was my first one and I kept going back to the blog to check the instructions. I imagine if I make another, it will be much quicker.

I did tweak the measurements a little. I made it a plus-size cover since I'm a plus-size girl. I added two inches to the width and the boning for the peek-a-boo. I didn't change the length because I'm not extra tall and I left the straps the same length. I'm actually thinking that I'm going to shorten the straps anyway, especially the side with the d-rings. I would prefer to have those on the side for quick adjustments instead of the back of my neck. Which makes this pattern so great, it is really easy to adjust. Plus, the ladies at Prudent Baby take great pictures of everything they do, so no matter what you can easily follow along!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Percentages

The other day I went with a friend to the store. I'll leave the name out, but they have a dollar section when you walk in. My friend is a kindergarten teacher and is constantly looking for little things to go in her treasure box at school. Well, the store was having a 75% off sale on some of the $1 items. Whole packs of Sponge Bob frisbees and Dora pencils for a quarter! Awesome. So, she stocked up.

We get to the checkout and when the cashier rings the first thing up it comes up as $.50. So, my friend points out that the sign said 75% off, not 50% off. I know some of you would think "Seriously, it is just a quarter." BUT, as I said, she is a teacher and she STOCKED up on treasure box items. The cashier looks blankly at my friend for a moment and then turns to the guy behind her and ask "What is 75% off a dollar?" He looks at her for a second like he really can't believe she's asking that and then glances at us like it might be a trick question before answering her.

So, now she starts trying to figure out what percentage to take off of $.50 to make it equal $.25. She tries 10%. So, now we are at $.45. Way to go! Another lady comes over to help our cashier and I say to them "It is half of 50 cents." They look at me and then the cash register and decide to void the transaction and try again. Now, when it rings up as $.50 they try taking off 25%. This comes out to $.37. I repeat "It is half." They ignore me and one says "Well, why didn't that work?" I repeat "Because it should be half not 25% off." They look at me and back at the screen. Finally the lady behind us says "You need to take 50% off of $.50 to equal $.25." They listened to her. So, my conclusion is that they weren't really ignoring me, so much as they didn't know what percentage half was.

They finally got it to work out and my friend saved quite a bit of money and was quite patient about the whole thing. Although, I think that was more because she was trying desperately not to laugh more than because she was actually being patient. As we were walking out to the car my friend made a comment about how she can understand people's frustration over education. However, I honestly do not think that at any point you could blame that woman's teachers. You cannot make it through 13 years of math and not ever pick up the smallest hint of simple percentages. It wasn't like it was 35% off $13.47. It was 75% off $1. Since teachers usually use $1 to or 100 to teach percentages, you should at least be able to break that up into quarters. You have to work hard to completely miss that or to forget it after you leave school.

I'm just saying, don't blame the teacher if you don't know what kind of work the student was putting in. 'Cause education is a two-way street.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Oppose Safe Cosmetics Act 2010

I've been gathering all my information and planning to write a great post on why everyone from business owners to consumers should oppose SCA 2010. Then it occurred to me that there are many others writing on the same topic and probably doing it much better than I could. So, instead of redoing what others have done, I'm just going to link to their posts. I hope you will help us spread the word about the potential damage this legislation will do.

The first post, "The New Consumer Business Owner," was written by Donna Maria Coles Johnson of the Indie Business Network. She is a leader for small (truly small) business owners and works tirelessly as an advocate and mentor to help people survive in business. She discusses how past legislation has hurt other small businesses and the potential harm for the cosmetic industry.

The second, "5 Ways The "Safe Cosmetics Act" Will Harm Consumers," focuses on the effect on consumers and not businesses. This one comes from the Personal Care, Truth or Scare blog that I really appreciate for their reliance on scientific facts and not on poor science and scare tactics. It includes what several links to other posts written on the subject and links to how you can get involved to help stop this legislation.

It is important for everyone to understand that the legislation will not only cause many small businesses to close down, it will also have far reaching consequences for larger businesses and consumers. 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Vacation!

I decided that I needed to take a vacation and while I wasn't gone the whole time, I still took the time for myself. It was much needed for certain. I have been so worried about finding a job (which I haven't), getting everything ready for the baby's arrival (which I did), and trying to work on new stuff for my business that I decided I needed a break. Too much stress and worry is just not good for us!

I started my own vacation when I left for Lubbock to see my family and I just ended it yesterday. For the most part I avoided the computer and all of the things that I feel I just HAVE to get done on it. I did the things I wanted and needed to get done and I took the chance to play with new products and new recipes. I'm still working out the kinks on my liquid soap, which I'm having a good time doing, despite the many accidents I've had. I have finished my first Lil Honu products, I have a powder, balm, and lotion ready to go. I'm hoping to get a massage/bath oil and soap done soon. I have for the most part finished the nursery. There are a few things I'd like to get, mainly shelves, but the critical part is done. I hope to get some pictures up soon because it is SO cute, but that is one last thing to worry about.

As far as a job goes, I have decided that if I can't find a job teaching, which is looking very unlikely at this point, I am not going to worry about it until after I give birth and am recovered and cleared to work. At that point, I can either sub or look for a job anywhere I can find one. It may not be the ideal solution, but I can't let the stress of not having a job continue to eat at me. One way or another, everything will be ok.

Now, with all of those (and a few others I kept to myself) issues behind me, I'm back from vacation and ready to continue working on my business, which includes my blog and my facebook. Not to mention, I've got a few ideas for some upcoming holidays and events!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Two of my little cousins are up visiting their grandma from TX and on Thursday they came down to Colorado Springs to go to the zoo. I was so excited to go with them. We had a great day, but I have to say those kids from the flats of TX just couldn't understand why the zoo was on the side of a mountain! They really were fun to have around and they ended up having lots of fun.

One of the most exciting things I saw that day were the Mexican gray wolves, which I have NEVER seen. However, they were very active that day, running all around their enclosure. It was great to see them, finally. If you didn't know, the scientific name is Canis lupus baileyi (which my cousin Bailey thought was great). Unfortunately, the primate house wasn't open, which means we didn't get to see the Naked Mole Rats either :( It was too bad because their are signs EVERYWHERE and the kids (plus me) were really looking forward to the exhibit.

So, overall, a very busy and educational day. Of course, we all know that kids have one thing they will get stuck on. What was it on Thursday? Chipmunks. They got to see grizzly bears, tigers, elephants, and hippos, but it was the chipmunks they got REALLY excited about.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

America the Beautiful Park

Join us today for the Colorado Farm and Art Market at America the Beautiful Park from 3-7. It is going to be hot out, but you can beat the heat in the Julie Penrose fountain!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Show Your Funny Face

I've been hearing from a lot of my friends that they have been having a rough time. Someone is sick, someone is hurt, someone is having some sort of personal issue. Growing up is rough and sometimes adults forget to take time to be a little silly. It really does make you feel better. So here is to everyone out there that is having any kind of problems, I hope it gets better soon.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Masks (Masques)

I love my weekly mask. It isn't always easy to fit it in, but my skin always looks and feels great afterward, that I really try. The biggest bonus for me, is that it is 15 minutes where I will sit and do nothing. I take that time for me and I enjoy it. I also like that I can customize my masks to suit my needs. There are some wonderful masks on the market and I tend to prefer the dry masks that you mix each time you use it. This way I can use different liquids to make the mask depending on what my skin says it needs that week. Just be sure to choose a mask that will not dry out your skin. The purpose is to revitalize, not leave you feeling like this.


The main purpose of most masks is to draw out toxins in the skin for a deep cleansing. However, they can also serve as mild exfoliants or to increase circulation depending on the other ingredients. Most masks contain clays to help draw out toxins and tighten the pores. There are a variety of clays available and they serve different purposes. My favorite is kaolin clay because it is great for all skin types. It absorbs excess oils and is known for its healing and skin softening properties. People with very oily skin may prefer bentonite clay instead.

You can also make a mask out of fruit, dairy products, and even eggs. Many fruits contain acids that help dissolve dead skin cells and pore clogging nastiness. Full fat dairy products contain lactic acid which has a similar effect; the fat helps to replenish skin and restore skin "full" appearance. Eggs contain proteins and fat to help tighten and restore skin. Honey and egg is my favorite mask, but what a mess it will make; be sure to get your hair out of the way and do this one in the tub. Your cupboard is full of ingredients to make a super mask, so just look around.

The point is, you DO NOT have to spend a lot of money on commercial masks! You can make safe, economical masks in your own kitchen. Always be sure to use whatever you make right away, do not store these masks because of their perishable nature. If you do prefer to purchase your masks, please check the ingredients to make sure it is right for your skin and follow the directions carefully. Keep in mind that in product you dip your hand into should be used within a few months, so make your product last longer by using a clean popsicle stick to remove as much mask as needed. Always make sure your hands are clean and DRY, added water will cause mold to grow and that is not pretty!

Would you like to share your favorite homemade mask recipe?

Photo from www.flickr.com courtesy of dreamglow pumpkincat210

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Perfect Degreaser

The other day I cooked chicken fried steak. No, I don't want to hear any comments about how unhealthy it is. I know this, but I haven't had it in a LONG time and I wanted it. Plus, I used canola oil and not crisco, so at least I saved on the saturated fats.

If you've ever fried anything, you know that you get oil EVERYWHERE and it does not like to go away quietly. There are some very effective commercial cleaners that quickly remove all the grease (and some of my skin), but I've gotten rid of most of my cleaners. My current cleaner of choice is vinegar and water with a little orange essential oil. It works well on pretty much anything your kitchen can throw at you, but I wasn't happy with my stove or backsplash.

SO, I mixed baking soda, salt, and lemon juice! Together these make an excellent degreaser and a good scrub if your sink needs it. I wore gloves because lemon juice stings and I really didn't want to exfoliate at the time. I used a rag to clean up all the grease and then I gave my sink a good scrubbing! You do need to rinse well, but my normal vinegar cleaner helped get up all the residue. My kitchen is extra clean and it smells great!

What is your favorite "green" cleaner?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Easy Sugar Scrub

Sugar scrubs are a very easy, inexpensive way to make your own exfoliant. I recommend only making enough for one application at a time. The main reason being that you won't have to worry about mold growing in your scrub. Plus, you can change up your recipe each time you make one to suit your current skin needs, which we know change.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sugar (brown or white, just make sure it is fine ground)
  • 1/2 cup any vegetable oil (I like grapeseed the best because it is light)
Instructions:
  1. Mix your ingredients in a sturdy bowl, I suggest avoiding glass because they tend to be heavy and your hands with be slippery.
  2. Stand in shower and wet skin. You may use the scrub on dry skin, but it will be much more scrubby!
  3. Gently (the sugar does the work) work the scrub over your skin in circles until you've gotten all of your skin. Start at your extremities and work your way in. Avoid damaged or sensitive areas. Avoid your face as well!
  4. Rinse with warm water, but don't wash away the oil! Pat dry. No need to moisturize because the oil is still there.
Variations:
  • Oil may be substituted for other liquids depending on your skin type. Milk and many fresh fruit juices contain enzymes to help cleanse skin. Yogurt and cream are great for dry skin.
  • If you have very sensitive skin, you can substitute ground meals or powders for the sugar. I use blue cornmeal on my sensitive skin and I love it. 
Not interested in making your own? Honu Naturals, LLC has options for you!

What is your favorite scrub, either homemade or one you bought? What do you like the most?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Farmer's Market Display

I'm having a good time doing the markets, I am meeting some other wonderful vendors, and I'm getting my products out to the public. I've already had one person come back from last week to get something new! It is always nice when you get repeat customers like that. I even had a lady stop this weekend because she remembered me from a show in December and she wanted to let me know how much she likes my stuff.

I have a pretty good display, but I need to spruce it up. Right now it is simple, but it doesn't pop or really stand out the way I'd like. So, here is a picture:
 Does anyone how any suggestions? My stuff is on the right because I'm sharing a booth with a friend of mine that knits. I know it isn't a close up, but I'm looking for suggestions to draw people in from this distance. What would make you want to come into this booth? I have soaps, lotions, lip balms, and some foot products to display and I'll be adding some baby care products this weekend. Suggestions from a consumer point of view would be wonderful!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big Black Hole

Anyone who has ever lost a job knows just how hard it really is to not doubt yourself. We all have the same thoughts "Why did I lose my job? Was it something I did or didn't do? Could I change and do better next time? Will there even be a next time?" Your ego is already in the toilet because you lost your job in the first place and then you start applying for a new job. Now you ego is flushed and on a trip through the sewers. You put in how many applications, get comparatively few interviews, and out of those how many rejections do you hear? It is enough to make any person completely doubt their abilities.

Then, this starts to seep into your personal life. You start to doubt everything. "What if I'm not a good spouse? What if I'm a bad parent? What if, what if, what if?" It can really become a big black hole of doubt that you just keep getting sucked deeper and deeper into. I've even started doubting my ability to run the business I started. "What if nobody likes my products? What if I am just not good enough to do this?" BIG BLACK HOLE!!!

It is time to flip my thinking. I do not DOUBT: I am CONFIDENT!

Sometimes life is rough, so make sure you have a good helmet. I can doubt myself and all of my abilities and let that lead to lying on the floor making funny gurgling noises or I can believe in myself and what I can do. I choose to believe in myself. I do make good products. I am good enough to do this. I will succeed. I have long since accepted that I can't do everything and I can't control everything, but I will do what I can and I am in control of what I can be. Let's pull ourselves out of the black hole of doubt and confidently embrace new possibilities. One way or another everything is going to be ok!

Is anybody willing to share what made them doubt themselves the most?

If anybody wants to know the picture is of twin black holes from www.nasa.gov

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pushy Salepeople

Today I learned a very important lesson. If a vacuum cleaner salesperson comes to your door and offers to do a free, quick demonstration; say no. Then they will argue. They will try to come up with compelling reasons to do this and make you feel bad because you are the last person they need to reach their quota. Again, say no. They will continue to try to convince you. Finally you will say yes, you may come do a QUICK demonstration; you will say this just to get the off the porch.

The problem with this strategy is that now you must let them in your house. The person who comes in is not the same that came to the door because apparently they tag team each other. He will set up the shiny vacuum and start the demonstration while trying to carry on a conversation. Then, because this young man is new, they will send in backup. Both will learn that you are 7 months pregnant and unemployed. One will compliment you on what a lovely home you have, all the while thinking, "Did they bomb the entire neighborhood, or just this house."

You will keep an eye on the clock as the QUICK demonstration carries on. Then the younger of the two will ask if he can go to the bedroom to show you all the stuff he can vacuum off your mattress. If you say no, he will argue and try to convince you otherwise. Luckily for him, his backup realizes that arguing with a pregnant lady in a hot house is not a good strategy and settles for a couch pillow. This part is supposed to disgust you, but you will be past caring at this point.

After about an hour in your home and privacy, they will be ready to do the shampooing of your carpet. At which point you will be at a cross roads. Should you tell them, "Sure go ahead, you've already taken an hour of my time, what's another 30 minutes" or "That's ok, we both know I'm not going to purchase it anyway." Go for option two. Then, they will tell you that it is a great deal at $2495, it comes with a lifetime warranty, and you can trade in your (very) old model to get that price reduced. You will think to yourself "For two grand, it had better vacuum for me!"

At this point, the best you can do is smile and say you have their information and you will consider it. Do not give any reasons as to why you can't really purchase a vacuum for that price right now. They will attempt to overcome those very sound reasons and nothing you can say will get them to stop. Once they leave, feel free to shred the information they left, bang your head against the wall, or if you are not pregnant, go for a shot of hard liquor and try to enjoy your privacy again.

So, what is the lesson I learned? AFTER YOU ANSWER THE DOOR PRETEND YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH, YOU ARE MENTALLY DEFICIENT, YOU ARE THE HOUSE SITTER, OR FAKE A HEART ATTACK. Whatever you do, do not engage in any type of conversation, it will be your downfall.

Please tell me somebody else out there has had this happen to them? I need a support group!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Home!

I made it home from camp on Friday and got straight to work getting ready for my first farmer's market on Saturday, which I think went well. I have ideas on how to improve my display and I'll be carrying those out through the season. If you didn't get a chance, come join us this Saturday at the Margarita @ Pine Creek from 9-1.

Camp was fun and there is always some adventure to be had. On Monday, I went canoeing with our Junior High age kids and they were having a great time and doing a great job. BUT, just as we reached a little island in the middle of Storey Lake in Las Vegas, NM, the wind REALLY picked up. We tried waiting it out, but eventually another counselor and I set out to make it back to the shore. We did make it, but we were both exhausted. A nice gentleman noticed that the rest of our group couldn't quite make it so he talked to the park manager, who sent for the park rangers. So, the rest of our kiddos got to be rescued by park rangers in their nice boat. We returned the kids to camp and then went back to the lake to wait for the wind to die down and retrieve our canoes. Overall, very long day, but the campers had a great time telling everyone how they had to be rescued!

That was probably my biggest adventure, but the rest of the week was still lots of fun. I watched some archers in bloom work on their archery awards. It is always nice when a newbie gets their first bullseye, they couldn't be more excited. We also had some kiddos overcome their fear of heights are ride the zipline, which it tons of fun! Unfortunately, I didn't get to ride it this year, but that's ok. I hope that are new campers return next year and bring some friends with them. We always need more campers!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Heading to Camp

After being sunburned, windblown, and just plain exhausted yesterday at the Music For Life Festival, I'm heading to camp to get sunburned, windblown, and have exhausting fun. I'll be back next Friday, just in time for my first Farmer's Market at the Margarita at Pine Creek. We'll be out there from 9-1 next Saturday.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Music For Life Festival-Lupus Fundraiser

Saturday, June 19th from 12-8 at America the Beautiful Park. There will be some great vendors and great music, so come out and join us for a good cause.

The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, so don't miss a great event!
Click for more information.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keep 'Em Dry

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer we start enjoying more outdoor activities. Some of these are great for you feet! Really, the best pedicure is a walk along a sandy beach. However, not all of our adventures do such favors for our feet. We spend more time on our feet and sometimes we have to loose the sandals and wear real shoes. Real shoes in warmer weather, for long periods of time. By the end of the day, regardless of how much fun you had, your feet are tired, achy, and probably enjoying some increased fungal activity.

To help prevent athlete's foot it is important to keep your feet clean and dry. One way to help keep them dry during the day in your tennis shoes, hiking boots, or really comfortable work shoes is to use a simple foot powder. If you are just looking for something to help absorb moisture, but you don't want to worry about fancy, make it yourself.

All you really need is baking soda and cornstarch. You can also add arrowroot powder to the mix if you some. Mix your powders together in a 1:1 ratio and put in some sort of container that lets you sprinkle the powder. I used an old powder bottle that I had. It works well, is talc-free, and very cheap to make. You can add essential oils such as tea tree or peppermint, but make sure you sift your ingredients to avoid clumping.

Remember to wash your feet well after a long day!

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt, used with permission from Flickr.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Adventures with Liquid Soap

I did say that despite my note taking, it would be tough for me to recreate my first batch of liquid soap. AND, I was right. I tell you what, getting right the first time is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you are so excited by your success that you can't wait to try again. On the other, when you try again and don't do as well it kind of makes me want to throw the bowl of goo. Well, there was no flinging of goo, but it was an interesting adventure.

I diluted my soap paste just like I did before and as before, it worked really well. I slowly heat the water and add the paste, but I don't let it get to a rolling boil, just a gentle bubbling. I found that I lose less of my water to evaporation and I can still see if I have undiluted paste. When I let it really get to boiling, there were too many bubbles to see what was happening, then I let it boil too much and had to add more water because it was goopy. So, gentle boil!

Last time I made the soap, I 3% crothix, but despite the instructions saying add it to my cool diluted soap, I could not get the crothix to do anything but hand out in a big glob. So, I heated my soap (very slowly) and stirred well. As soon as the glob was gone, I took it off the heat and let it cool. Well, I thought I'd be clever this time! I'd add the crothix while the soap was still warm (it really seems like a good idea if you think about it). What I didn't do, was remeasure how much soap I had because some had evaporated. What I got was just like the Gloop I've had my science students make. When you move fast, it acts like a solid, but if you go slow, its like a liquid! Simply amazing. Although, I'm sure nobody would enjoy "liquid" soap that will actually break into pieces, but I'm just guessing. I decided to sleep on it.

This morning I got up with a brilliant plan. I would dilute some more soap and mix that in with my Gloop soap. I did have to rewarm the Gloop-liquid mixture slightly to get it to mix, but it did mix. It has now cooled to a very nice consistency and I gave it a try. It really feels as nice as the previous batch. So, in a VERY round-about way, I got the same results. However, many lessons have been learned. First, don't try to skip steps. Second, always measure how much diluted soap you have left to calculate how much crothix you will need.

I've still noticed that the crothix is a challenge to mix in. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shea Butter

Shea butter is a rich, creamy, and leaves your skin ultra soft! I love shea and I use it A LOT in my products and just for myself. It has a texture that is similar to butter, but melts on contact with your skin. It also absorbs quickly, so your skin is soft, but not greasy. Shea butter is good for most skin types and safe for babies, although people with an allergy to latex should avoid shea.  These reasons are really good enough for me to keep a very healthy supply on hand, but there are other benefits. For example, shea butter can help soothe sunburns, soothe eczema and psoriasis, help heal damaged skin, and increase skin's elasticity. Really, I could on for a while, but I think that hits the high points.

Keeping all of these benefits in mind, its no wonder that shea butter is used in a variety of goodies for your skin. Look for shea butter in:
  • Lip balms
  • Belly butters
  • Body balms
  • Lotions
  • Shea whips
  • Hair conditioners
  • Bar soaps!
Can you believe just how versatile this vegetable butter is? One of the major bonuses is that it is produced using just water!  Honu Naturals, LLC  has several products containing shea butter and we get our shea butter from Fair Trade companies. Look for our Naked Shea Soap, Pedi-Cure Foot Balm, Vanilla Mint Lotion, and our Belly Butter. Try anyone of these and I promise, you won't be disappointed.

Is there anything else you'd like to see us offer with shea butter in it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

America the Beautiful Park

This Saturday (June 19th) I will be at America the Beautiful Park here is lovely Colorado Springs for the Music For Life-Lupus Fundraiser. We will be there from noon to 8 pm, so this is perfect for those that like to sleep late on Saturdays.
Come on out and enjoy some wonderful vendors, great entertainment, and what is supposed to be some lovely weather. Stop by our booth to enjoy the fresh, clean scent of handcrafted soaps!

 What? MUSIC FOR LIFE: A TRIBUTE TO CHARLENE STOVALL
 Where? AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL PARK: 126 CIMINO DRIVE, C. SPRINGS, CO 80904
 When? SATURDAY, JUNE 19TH, 2010

Photo courtesy of Marilyn Jardon.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Making Mineral Makeup

I am fascinated by the idea of making mineral makeup. I'm not really interested in doing it commercially, but I love learning new information. Plus, I like to support Indie businesses more than large corporations.While cruising around the wonderful web, I found a company that makes some marvelous looking products (which I'm itching to buy). Not only that, but the site also offers information and kits on how to make your own. How wonderful is that? I haven't been able to find much information, so I thought I'd share.

The company is called Monave and you can browse their fabulous selection, or check out the tutorials. I hope you have as much fun as I did!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Decluttering The Office

Well, my original idea for my blog today was done by another blog I follow today! How funny is that? So, instead of rewriting it, please read Are We Being Duped by Lisa M. Rodgers and I'll do something else!

What are these horrible messy pictures of you ask? Why, they are of my office! I'm not usually this messy, but school just let out and since I'm not returning, I had to bring all of my stuff home; plus we decided that the room that was my office would be a better nursery, so I recently moved my office. It has been like that for a few weeks and has been making me CRAZY! I mean, look at that desk! How does a person get any work done when you are constantly shifting piles to find what you need? I won't even mention how many times some of those piles fell on the floor. Plus, do you see the random tote in front of the closet? None of that stuff even belongs in an office. There is even a box and bag full of paper recycling! The one good thing I have going is, my closet is not stuffed full of crap I don't need. There are two file boxes and that's pretty much it.

So, my goal for yesterday was to go through boxes and piles and start moving stuff to the correct place. I worked from about 11 to 7! I did of course stop for breaks, meals, and snacks, but I worked HARD!
As you can clearly see, I didn't do too bad. Most of the boxes are gone (and no the did not get shoved in the closet!). I have a two that you can see still need to be sorted through, but they are out of the way. I have several empty notebooks that I'm going to give to some teacher friends (we keep them on hand for those that just can't afford it). I also have a project that is still on the floor, but I'm almost done and if I put it away I'll forget to do it. Also, notice my desk is pile free! Everything has been sorted into bins, folders, or put on the book shelves. I am much happier and don't feel as overwhelmed trying to get work done now.

Plus, here is the box of stuff I am sending to goodwill because it was just cluttering up my office. It's not even junk, I got rid of a purse I never use, a candle holder I never hung, a white board I don't need, and some other stuff that I need to let go of to declutter my life!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Liquid Soap!!!

I did it! I finally finished my first round of liquid soap. I made the paste and diluted some of it last week, but I didn't like the way it thickened with salt water. So, I decided to use crothix, which of course I didn't already have (see previous post about my ordering problem:). I placed my order along with my peppermint eo, some coconut oil, and citric acid with Brambleberry because I knew they had the crothix and I LOVE their peppermint.

I didn't realize how hard to was to mix the crothix in, but it made a goo in my soap. I persevered and got everything mixed in and let my soap sit. I love the thickness from my first try, which despite my notes will probably take me 5 times to recreate. I scented it with the sample of Matcha Tea fragrance oil that was included in my order (I love getting samples, which is why there are certain companies I keep going back to).

I was so excited to try it out that I showered before my walk this morning! I tried it as a shampoo first and it works well enough. My hair is clean, but I felt it was a little too drying or maybe my hair just felt too tangled. I used the same amount of conditioner, so obviously it wasn't a huge issue. I think it would work well with short hair. Then, I pour some of my little bath pouf and got to scrubbing. I am in love with this! It lathered nicely, although not excessively since there are no bubbling agents added, and it left my skin feeling soft and smooth. I even forgot to moisturize when I got out of the shower and my skin still feels nice. Not at all dry or tight. Although, I will admit, I had to go rub on some of the belly oil I'm playing around with right now. That skin always seems dry lately.

Now, I am moving onward with my liquid soap making. I'm going to start with some little sample bottles for the upcoming farmer's markets and craft shows. I can't wait to see what other people think!

I plan on making some scents that compliment my lotions, but I am looking for some new ideas. Does anyone have an essential oil scent or blend that they would just LOVE to see?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

One Ingredient

I ran out of peppermint essential oil before I got my new order in. Completely my fault, I should have ordered sooner. Something I didn't really notice before is how much missing one ingredient can mess all of my production plans up.

For example, I was going through and making all of my soaps. My last batch was my chocolate mint soap, which I couldn't make because I needed peppermint. "No worries," I thought, I'll move on and come back to that when my order arrives. I decided to check my lip balm inventory and take care of those needs. Or, so I thought, the ones I needed more of were chocolate mint, mocha mint, and basic mint. "Hmmm, well, I'll skip lip balms for now and move on to lotions." I made my lavender, grapefruit, and lemon, but got stuck at vanilla MINT! "Ahhhhh!" I couldn't even work on the Love My Flippers products because all of them contain peppermint!

Well, I have definitely learned my lesson. ORDER EARLY!!! I also learned to order the larger bottle of peppermint because I obviously use a lot of it.

See, the important thing is to turn every mistake into a learning opportunity!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Updating the Blog

Today I read a blog by Donna Maria of the Indie Business Blog. It is titled "10 Things That Make a Blog Stink," and if you are a blogger, you should check it out. Wow, that is really an attention getter!

First, I would like to point out that I changed the name! Instead of using my company name, I am now The Soap Nest! Cause turtles have nests, hahaha. Ok, I'm a nerd, but I just thought the name was the cutest.

I read her 10 tips to improve my blog and some of them I do, but sadly not as many as I'd hoped when first reading the title. So, my goal for today was to sit down and make some improvements. I think I did quite well. I have added a search tool, a link to the blogs that I like, some pictures of me, and an easy way to subscribe. I already had some variety, I like to other blogs, and I have made it personal, so there are 3 things I was doing right. Some other things I need to start doing is adding pictures and video and I need to get my readers involved! I was planning on a poll to come very soon, so I'll step that up and hopefully have it within the next week or so. (That's a picture of our foster mama, she finally sat still)

I also have my favorite graphic designer playing around with my blog. So, I have a new background, my fonts are not different colors, and the template with all those little arrows should be gone soon!

What do you think? Do you like the new name? Is there anything I'm missing in my sidebar or did I overdo it?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Feeling Good

These past few weeks have been more than a little stressful and yesterday was just not good for my ego, but I woke up today feeling much better. I really don't know why, but I do feel good. I think I look better than I did yesterday too, but maybe that just goes along with attitude.

It makes me wonder what the difference is. Why do I feel so much better than I did yesterday? Well, I don't know for sure. I think part of it is that I'm officially done with the school that replace me (killer on the ego), I turned in all of my paperwork, keys, and computer. So, for better or worse, I'm moving on from there. However, I don't think that's all of it.

Here are some other differences that really got my attention:
  1. Water-I slacked the past few days and didn't get enough. Last night I realized just how thirsty I felt and start guzzling. I started again when I woke up. I know this isn't the miracle cure, but I do know it helps and it doesn't take long to rehydrate.
  2. Exercise-Slacking here (again), but I woke up this morning and took my dog on a walk around the neighborhood. It really is a challenge, there are some serious hills in this area. It was a great way to start the day, I felt refreshed and ready to go.
  3. Sun-I was working hard on the computer yesterday and making lots of depressing phone calls, so I was inside all day, I didn't even realize how long I'd been working until it was suddenly not as bright in the office. This morning I started off with my walk in the early morning sunshine and then I ate my breakfast on the back porch in the sun. It just felt good!
  4. Attitude-I've heard that how we feel is 90% attitude (I've also heard that 56% of all statistics are made up on the spot :) and I think this is true. I went to bed feeling better about things than I have and I woke up still feeling that. Yes, things are tough and they are going to be tough, but everything will work out. Somehow. I guess all I had to do was flip my thinking!
I hope that you feel better today too. Just remember its the little things that make the difference.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Truth or Scare

There is a new blog in town (think western themed music with that statement) and it doesn't like the looks of some of those alarmist blogs.

Ok, enough with the silliness. One of the challenges I have faced in my business is answering questions asked by people that have been scared out of using products. The most common questions is whether or not I use parabens in my products and that is a WHOLE different discussion. What really concerns me is that these consumers lack good scientific based information. They have gotten their information from consumer groups that are using scare tactics to "protect" consumers. These groups are trying to give people the whole truth (and nothing but the truth, hehe I couldn't resist), they are trying to meet their own agenda.

The problem is if we were to believe everything posted by these groups we wouldn't know what to do or how to avoid all of those deadly carcinogens. Instead, we'd be trying to live in a bubble, not realizing that while yes, we probably are exposed to over 500 chemicals a day; not all of those are harmful and it is really the dosage that matters. Don't think that the concentration matters, just ask your doctor. There is a reason they prescribe medications at certain doses and not higher or lower. Here is a shocker, at lower concentrations, your medications would be useless and would have no effect! Kinda like all those 500 deadly chemicals you come in contact with everyday.

So, that leads me to the point of today's post: Personal Care; Truth or Scare. I really like this blog, it is run by two people and they bring in outside people to share information that they know much more about than the average Joe; which means this is more than one person's opinion. What I also like is that there is no hidden agenda; they are very clear that their purpose is to educate the public on personal care safety based on SCIENTIFIC FACTS, not misinterpreted information (crazy thought really).

I've liked all of their articles so far, but I really liked today's because they really show how data can be skewed to suit ones purposes. I've never considered giving up my lipstick because I know that concentrations matter, but if you are concerned, PLEASE check it out.

Which do you appreciate more: the open truth with ALL information included so that you can make an informed decision or do you only like getting half the story and being scared into doing something.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Foster Puppies

We have more fosters! I wanted to do puppies this time instead of kittens. We got a mama lab with 5 little bitty puppies. They are probably between 1-2 weeks. They are sooooo cute!

We decided to name mama Maddie and she pays attention to it. She is a very good dog. She is already house broken and behaves well with our dog KiLi. Her only problem is that she hasn't learned boundaries before. She tries to jump on people, pulls stuff off the counter, and like the trash. So, we are working on it.

Here are some pictures of the puppies, cause mom won't hold still long enough of a picture.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Investing in Myself!

Since I lost my job, I've been trying to figure out what to do. I have my small company, but it pays for itself and just a little bit more that allows me to save some extra money each month. There really aren't many teaching positions open and really who would want to hire someone that is going to need to take time off of work a month after school starts. I looked into getting a part-time job over the summer to save some extra money and all those things.

Here is what I decided to do: Invest In Myself. I can grow my company, I'm just going to have to invest more time, more effort, and more money. I applied for a local farmer's market and I got an investor (thank you Cory) to cover the fee for the entire season June-Oct (scary commitment). I then wrote out a plan for the products I already have and what I would like to have at my first show (I made this a reasonable goal because I still can't please everyone). I did the naughty thing and placed several large (for me anyway) orders and put those on the credit card. BUT, I already have my plan. I have the ingredients, packaging, labeling and everything figured out, along with my cost, the selling price, and my profit. I've even got package deals ready and some cute ideas for packaging them in a renewable or eco friendly way.

Am I scared? You bet, but I need to do what I want to do. I have my goals written out, I have my plan in place, and I'm ready to commit myself to extra hard work to make this happen. I'm even going to be realistic and I'm going to be determined. After all, what's the worst that could happen (other than failing miserably, losing everything, and ending up living on the streets)? Yep, nothing to be scared of at all :)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fortune Cookie

My latest fortune was not a fortune, but I liked it anyway.

"Maturity is doing what you are supposed to without being told to do it."

There are plenty of things that I like to procrastinate on, but at a certain point we realize that things just have to be done and we do it. There is no point in arguing, asking for additional time, or whining about it. This is especially true for me as a small business owner. If I don't do something that has to be done, it doesn't get done. Period. I can't blame anyone else. It doesn't hurt anyone else either. It hurts me and it hurts my business.

So, I've made my list and now I'm going through it and getting everything done.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rose Neroli Toner

I had a request for a toner with rose and neroli hydrosols. This worked out well for me because I've been looking for an excuse to buy some! I adjusted the original request a little to suit my needs more, but I love it and I thought I'd share it.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Rose hydrosol
  • 3 tbsp Neroli hydrosol
  • 1 tbsp Witch hazel (not the stuff off the store shelves)
  • 4 tbsp Aloe
  • 4 drops Lavender EO
  • 4 drops Immortelle EO
  • 2 drops Grapefruit EO
  • 4 oz amber glass bottle
  • Preservative (optional, but must be kept in fridge without it)
Instructions:
  1. Pour all your ingredients into the amber bottle and shake well. If you did not include a preservative, this should be stored in the fridge.
  2. I didn't add an emulsifier, so you must shake well before use.
  3. Moisten cotton ball and gently wipe over freshly cleaned skin.
  4. Follow with your favorite moisturizer.
  5. Love you fresh, beautiful skin!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Can't Control the Weather!

Well, the weather channel did say yesterday was supposed to be rainy, but we really hoped it wouldn't be too bad. As I was packing the car, the sun came out and it looked like it would be a beautiful day. A little after noon, it started to rain lightly. It didn't bother us because I bought a tent (which excites me more than it should really). The rain went away and the sun came back out, but we were hearing thunder and watching some pretty serious clouds move across the sky.

Not only did those ominous clouds bring more rain, but they brought hail too! We quickly packed up soaps and stayed huddled under the tent. When the hail stopped, the sky cleared and the day became beautiful, but we decided to pack up anyway. The ground beneath us had become a lake and my table cloths were wet :( Plus, we didn't want to leave all of our boxes and such on the ground.

So, it wasn't a great show, but we learned some very important lessons. Always take the tent, put the sides on the tent (which we didn't) and roll them up for quick protection, and a tarp for ground cover would be very helpful. See, now we know and can be more prepared for the next time the Colorado weather goes crazy.

Does anyone else have any tips they would like to share to help us prepare for our next outdoor show? They are always appreciated!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Craft Fair, May 15th

When: Saturday, May 15th; 10-4pm

Where: Widefield Community Center; 405 Aspen Dr

I will be there with my handcrafted soaps, lotions, and my very special Pedi-Cure Foot Set! There will also be jewelry, candles, and lots of other goodies. Some come out and get some great gifts or something fun for yourself.