Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tea Tree and Lavender Soap / Store's Anniversary / Summer Solstice

I just finished cutting a new batch of our Tea Tree and Lavender Soap. This is our second top selling soap - it's received wonderful comments from people with acne that use it as a facial soap.

We infuse olive oil with calendula petals (well-known for its healing properties) for several weeks and then add coconut oil, palm oil, avocado butter and castor oil. We add alkanet root powder to the water for a lavender colour, and scent the soap with essential oils of Tea Tree and Lavender.

We still have some left from our last batch, and these bars will be ready to put on the shelves the last week of July.

Tomorrow marks the Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year. We're celebrating by giving every purchase (whether in-store or online) 15% discount (good for purchases made on June 21 only). Long Live the Sun!

And Sunday, June 24 marks our store's one year anniversary. It's hard to believe that a whole year has gone by already. It's been an absolute blast. Some stressful times, several "Aha!" moments while learning the ropes, and countless happy moments. We're celebrating our anniversary all of next week by having every customer draw a card from our Anniversary Box. Inside this box are many cards (one with each purchase) that entitle the customer with anything from a free lip balm, bar of soap, candleholder, etc to 5%-25% off their purchase. Our online customers won't be able to draw themselves, but we'll draw for them (and we promise not to peek!). Please join us in our celebrations :)

Happiness Thought of the Day:
"Happiness can come free and unexpectedly - don't seek it too desperately. Relax and it will appear."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Massage Oils Galore

We put making soap on hold for a couple of days while we concentrated on making our Massage Oils. We made several batches of our new Trial-sized massage oils (each bottle contains 30 ml of massage oil - plenty for 2 or 3 full-body massages). Each Massage Oil contains pure essential oils (no synthetic fragrances) blended in a base of Fractionated Coconut Oil.

We have the following types available:
Unscented - for people that want no scent or have their own essential oil blend at home they want to use
Lavender Orange - made with essential oils of Lavender and Sweet Orange
Grapefruit Vanilla - made with essential oils of Grapefruit and Vanilla oleoresin
Indonesian Interlude - made with essential oils of Sandalwood and Geranium
Secret Temple - made with essential oils of Vanilla oleoresin, Sandalwood and Patchouli
Challenge - made with essential oils of Lavender, Sweet Orange, Carnation absolute, and Sandalwood
His - made with essential oils of Bergamot, Sandalwood, Lemon and Roman Chamomile
Hers - made with essential oils of Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Clove Bud, Geranium and Jasmine
Sweet Baby - made with essential oils of Lavender, Neroli and Roman Chamomile
Mommy-in-Waiting - made with essential oils of Mandarin, Ylang Ylang, Eucalyptus and Sandalwood

Happiness Thought of the Day:
"Finding your own happiness is like finding the source of a great river that has been dammed up by others trying to make you happy."

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Sage Soap is Curing

I made a new batch of Sage Soap on the weekend, and just finished putting it up on the curing racks. Sage is astringent, so this is a good soap for oily skin. I infuse the olive oil with sage for several days, and use that with coconut oil, palm oil and castor oil. I leave the sage in the olive oil so it has a slightly speckled look that is accented with a swirl of cocoa powder. It's scented with a blend of clary sage, bergamot, mandarin, geranium, cedarwood and sandalwood. Katerina was saying the other day that this is her favourite soap.

We still have some small bars of Sage Soap on the store shelves, and this batch of large bars will be out on the shelves the 3rd week of July.

Happiness Thought of the Day:
"The world will not devote itself to making you happy."

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Citrus Soap, Chicago Blues, and Mowing the Lawn

I am standing in my store, listening to some amazing Chicago-style Blues music from the 60's & 70's on the CBC Radio 2. It makes my body sway to the Mississippi-inspired notes of Muddy Waters and then switch up a couple of minutes later to jive to the more upbeat rhythm of Chuck Berry. I'm going to to be a dancing fool today :)

I just finished cutting our latest batch of Citrus Soap today. It's a very uplifting scent, anchored by just a touch of spice. It reminds me of holiday baking. It's scented with the essential oils of lemon, bergamot, lemongrass and clove bud, and will be on the shelves the 3rd week of July. We still have some of our small bars in stock and ready for purchase, but we're out of the large bars until this new batch is finished curing.

This week I purchased a human-powered reel lawn mower. I'm so tired of the gas-powered and everything about it - the impact on the environment (use of oil & gas, emissions into the atmosphere), the noise - that I decided to make the leap and get one that is more in tune to my way of thinking & acting. I'm absolutely loving my new "toy". Although it's hardly play-time when using it. I've only been able to mow for 15 minutes or so each day so far, so I haven't even finished mowing our front yard. But knowing that I'm not doing anything to harm the planet while mowing the yard now makes my heart sing. I've actually been singing and humming while mowing :) Along our driveway we have a couple of lilac bushes. And whenever I'm pushing the mower in the direction of them, I can smell the blossoms from the other side of the yard. It's a beautiful change from the stench of gas fumes. On top of everything else, it's great exercise :)

I won't be using it for the whole property (I simply can't imagine mowing 1 1/2 acres with this). I'm in the process of changing our front yard into a formal garden with raised beds and walkways meandering between them. I'd also like to have a fountain in the middle. I haven't decided if I would prefer a round garden with wedge-shaped beds, or a rectangular garden with square/rectangular beds. I'm designing both styles, to see which one appeals more to me. But I'm thinking more towards the circular... I plan on planting mostly veggies, with some herbs and a few flowers. We'll see how it turns out, and I'm sure it will be a work in progress. But I'm very much looking forward to teaching (and learning with) the kids the bounty that Mother Nature will provide if we show her care.

Happiness Thought of the Day:
"The path to happiness can be found by taking a good long laugh... at yourself."
Well, I should be extremely happy then, since I probably laugh at myself almost every day ;)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Ancient Mysteries Soap

I just finished putting this soap on the curing racks. This soap has been my husband's favourite for some time now. He likes the slight scrubbiness that the ground chamomile flowers give it. And it has a spicy scent that appeals to a lot of people. It's scented with the essential oils of lemon and cassia. It doesn't have very much cassia (it's considered to be an irritant, so I only use a tiny amount), just enough to give it that spiciness. It's a bit of an odd duck of a scent though - you'd think that with lemon and cassia oils you'd smell a spicy lemon. But nope! It actually smells very similar to that cherry/almond scent that Jergen's lotion had when I was younger (perhaps it still smells like that - I haven't used commercial lotion in years).

Ancient Mysteries isn't made with my typical recipe, as it's one of my earlier recipes. It contains soybean oil, coconut oil, olive oil, cocoa butter and castor oil.

This new batch will be out on the shelves the 3rd week of July.

Happiness Thought of the Day:
"Experience your unhappiness while you've got it, you might never be unhappy again!"

Monday, June 4, 2007

No, Really, I Meant to do That! and Pirates

So, my parents volunteer to take the kids for a sleep-over Saturday night. I was going to just work at the store Saturday night and all day Sunday, but I was invited to see a movie with a friend. And who can resist a good Pirate? We went to the late show of Pirates of the Caribbean 3. I've always had a soft spot for Johnny, ever since the very first Nightmare on Elm Street when I was but a young, impressionable teen girl. As for Orlando, he's really just a boy. He was quite the fetching elf in Lord of the Rings (and I've always had an eye for elves - thanks to an old friend of mine by the name of Sean), and I can see the appeal to the younger crowd. But I'm not a fan of Orlando's looks - in the other movies I've seen him in (including the first two Pirates movies) and in the one interview I've seen he's just too... too... slimey looking and goofy looking both at the same time. But my oh my... He most certainly was a pleasure to behold in #3. In my eyes, he actually came ahead of Johnny dear. He seems much more manly. Perhaps there's a chance for him after all...

Now, because of going to the late show (and I did some shopping first at Chapters) I didn't get home until the wee hours of Sunday morning. And I slept in a tad since I didn't have any children that needed feeding. What bliss, to be able to wake up to your own internal clock, listening to the birds singing in the trees outside the window. That's my idea of the perfect alarm clock. After I had a nice breakfast of homemade steel cut oats with chopped up apples, freshly pulverized flax seeds and just a drizzle of maple syrup from a friend's maple shack, I headed to the store. I had grand ideas for making a couple of batches of soap, doing some paperwork that has been piling up, and picking the kids up in time for bed. The soap sprites had other ideas, unfortunately...

We're completely out of stock of our Sun Island soap. So I decided to make some as the first batch. This one takes a bit longer to melt, as I add some beeswax from a local apiary and it has a very high melt point (which is one of the reasons it makes a lovely candle - it takes a long time to melt so the candle lasts a long time, but I digress). For those that have used it before, you're used to a bold red swirl (made from french red clay) in the cream-coloured soap. I mixed the red clay with a touch of water so it would be a smooth paste. Put it aside. Measured out my essential oils of Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Benzoin (not really an essential oil but a resin), and Peppermint. Put it aside. Mixed all the other ingredients (including olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, unrefined fair-trade shea butter, avocado oil, and the aforementioned local beeswax) and started stirring. Realized after 1 minute that it was already starting to thicken so I poured some of the soap into the red clay paste and gave that a brisk stir to make sure the clay was well-incorporated into the soap. Went back to the big soap pot, and it was already like custard! So, in go the essential oils and I now have what appear to be instant mashed potatoes that smell eyes-watering strongly of eucalyptus. By the way, this mashed potato appearance is NOT supposed to happen... By the time I managed to get the essential oils mixed into the soap, I knew that not even Orlando or Johnny would be able to entice this soap to allow a red swirl into its midst.

So this batch of Sun Island Soap will have a thin layer of red soap in between two layers of cream coloured soap. And those customers that don't read this post will be none the wiser...

Thought of the Day:
"Man worries... it is our natural state. We fear the future, are rarely content with what has passed, and dread death."
What do you think about this quote? I think there are far too many people that this statement is true of. I try not to worry, as it takes up time needlessly. I do not fear the future - I say Bring It On! Bad things happen - Learn from them. Embrace life - all of it, not just the good times. Everything we experience makes us who we are, so how can we fear it? How can we not be content with what has passed? And death, it's just the ending of one chapter. All you need to do is turn the page for the next chapter to begin....