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Friday, November 22, 2013

my soap story

Someone asked me today why I make soap. I told her that I am a maker at heart and I love the process of making soap and I’d love to run my own creative business. And all of that is true. But it’s not the whole story.

So here’s the rest of the story, and what I wish I could have said:

I started selling on etsy to sell crocheted things. I’ve always crocheted. I love it and I’m good at it. Selling it is a great way to feed my yarn addiction. Other folks on etsy raved about handmade soap. A lot. So about 6 years ago, I bought some. It’s relatively inexpensive – usually between 5 and 10 dollars – so it was an easy impulse buy. I got it, used it, and I have not bought commercially-made soap or body wash since. If you’ve never used handmade soap, you literally don’t know what you’re missing. It is a completely different product from the stuff you are buying at the store. The fragrances are incredible. The rich creamy lather, the natural moisturizing properties, the additions of ground oatmeal, natural clays, pumice, poppy seeds…It is wonderful.

Not long after, my family tipped into a financial black hole that we are still trying to recover from. We went for a multi-year stretch where either my husband had a job or I had a job. At one point I actually got laid off the EXACT DAY he was hired. We were on a $20 a week grocery budget. One time we pulled up the floormats in the car to dig out coins so we would have dinner. I often worried whether or not I had enough gas to get to work. We had 1 car, 1 phone, no a/c or heat until my water line froze so my dad got the gas turned on. It is only because of the generosity of our friends and family that we were not homeless.

Every day the questions run through your head. Are we going to eat all week? Are they going to shut off my water today? If they shut it off, how can we get it turned back on? That’s another 35 bucks I don’t have. What am I going to do about that bald tire? No haircuts, so learn to love ponytails. No new clothes, so don’t wear anything out. No takeout on the way home because you’re too tired to cook. Turning down lunch invites at work. Not participating in food days or secret santa. Eating popcorn for lunch because it’s 75 cents. I know we have been luckier than many and I am so grateful for the many blessings we have. But week after week and month after never-ending month, it wears you down.  

So I gave up haircuts and clothes and colored my scuffed shoes with a sharpie. But I bought handmade soap. I could still justify it as a (semi) practical item. I still had to have soap of some kind and I could usually dig up $10 every 2 or 3 months. I would research in advance to plan for the next bar I was going to buy. I bought grab-bags and imperfect bars to get the most value for my money. And I loved spending that money. Having the ability to get something you want is incredible. Now that my situation is somewhat better, I still don’t take that for granted. It seemed to make everything easier. Watching my friends go out to dinner without me. Staying home on Saturdays so I didn’t have to spend gas money. Hearing people talk about their new cars and their new tv’s and  what they are buying for Christmas… I have never considered myself spoiled or overly materialistic, but when your answer to “What do you want for Christmas?” is “hopefully a mop because I’m tired of cleaning the floor with a washcloth”….it’s a little depressing. Somehow the act of shopping for, purchasing and having handmade goat’s milk soap with exfoliating ground coffee made it a little better.

We’ve been consistently simultaneously employed for over a year, and things are better and slowly improving still. And I’ve started making my own soap, and other products. What I said today is true, I do love making it and I have to be making something. But, as melodramatic as it sounds, soap is personal to me. My goal is to make my soap business full-time. But my dream is to be able to help someone else find what I found in handmade soap – a little luxury in an un-luxurious life.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Christmas countdown!

It's the time of year again. As crazy as that feels, it's true. Time to start thinking about Christmas gifts, if you haven't already. When it comes to Christmas gifts, there are really 2 things I appreciate most:

-practical gifts-yes, I am the woman who actually wants a toaster for Christmas. One time I spent weeks trying to convince a friend that I really did want a mop for a gift. I really did!

-handmade gifts-because handmade is awesome

So here are some links to 5 awesome handmade gifts you may want to consider this year, followed up with a quick and easy sugar scrub by yours truly.

1. Givember Massage Oil on the incredible Soap Queen blog.
You should be able to find these ingredients at your local craft store or natural foods store. If you can't find jojoba, you can always sub it, or leave it out. If you're going to use something else, you want an oil that has a long shelf life and absorbs quickly into the skin, like sweet almond oil. But of course, it's always best to follow the recipe as closely as possible.

2. The Easiest Body Butter Bars Ever by lovely Marie at

These really are the easiest body butter bars ever. 1 ingredient and they make you smell like you've been dipped in chocolate. Seriously, there's no reason not to make these.
3. Detox Bath Soak by Katie at one of my favorite blogs:
Three Healing Detox Bath Recipes 3 Natural Detox Bath Recipes
I recommend trying the Clay Detox Bath. It's simple and all the ingredients are dry, so it would be an easy one to gift. Make sure you package it in a glass or plastic container. The bentonite clay loses some of it's detox power when it comes into contact with metal. Again, that's an ingredient you should be able to get at your local heath or natural foods store.
4. Homemade Floral Waters by the incomparable Hildablue

homemade floral waters How To Recognize Quality Rose Water – And How To Make Your Own
These are wonderful instructions on how to infuse flowers or herbs in distilled water. If you feel up to something a bit more complex, there's a link on that page to some great diy products made from the infused water!
5. Moisturizing Bath Candy by one of the best blogs around, Crunch Betty

These were originally done as a Valentine's diy gift, but there's no reason these wouldn't be perfect for Christmas as well. Especially if you get a Christmas tree or gingerbread man tray. These are similar to the body butter, but with an added exfoliating aspect. I recommend trying the lavender chocolate or chocomint versions. The ingredients for these should be pretty easy to find. And how perfect is a chocolate mint scent for the Holidays!
And finally, a simple sugar scrub recipe using things you probably already have in your kitchen:
 - 1 cup white or brown sugar
 - 1/2 cup skin-loving oil such as sweet almond oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil or virgin olive oil. Or any combination of these if your feeling fancy.
Mix well and place in a mason jar, bail jar or other container for gifting. That's it. Seriously. You can dress it up by adding a few drops of essential oil, fragrance oil, coffee grounds, tea leaves, a dash of cinnamon, pumpkin spice or nutmeg...this is the part where you can be creative! If you've never tried exfoliating scrubs with oil, they are addicting. And the sugar is a mild enough exfoliant that you can use it every day. It's even safe for use on your face.
So try one or all of these and let me know how it goes! Check back next week for my diy gift ideas!

Friday, November 1, 2013


Been away far too long. Getting prepared for a craft fair next Saturday. I don't think I've stopped moving for 2 weeks. So much to do!

Like this:

And this:

And this other one:

Plus a bunch more stuff. For updates on all of that, I'm posting pics semi-regularly on my facebook page, so go there and like me :)

In the meantime, check out this awesome link from buzzfeed: 15 Things You Should Never Say to a Crafter. And allow me to add one more I am sure I will hear on Saturday: "I'm not going to buy that. I could make that." True. But will you?