Sunday, August 15, 2010

Land of the Midnight Sun

We just got back to Palmer after a quick trip to Fairbanks. That is roughly San Diego to San Francisco and back again.
Fairbanks isn't quite to the Arctic Circle but I am pretty sure Sarah Palin can see it from there. What that meant for us is long summer nights; I fell asleep after 11 and it was still full light.
What didn't look so fun is that everywhere you go: university parking lot, hotel and restaurant, even the Super WalMart, there are electrical outlets at each parking space. These are for your engine block warmer. Just get out of your vehicle, grab your cord, plug in. Everywhere. Everytime. Because if you don't, your engine will freeze. Solid. Sounds like fun, eh?
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Friday, August 6, 2010

Vacation Readiness

It seems as if we have been getting ready for this trip forever! I have thought about going to Alaska for years but wasn't properly inspired until Becky, April, and Amber were here last summer for the rabbit show. (see archives for bunnies!)
The rabbit show was at the Del Mar Fairgrounds which led to mention of fairs which led to April regaling us with stories of the Alaska State Fair in Palmer, AK.
Darn if that didn't make me homesick for the Bonner County Fair, small town summers, and great friends like Becky and her family!
So now we're almost ready for take off. We have our warm clothes out, jackets ready (for our wimpy San Diego blood) and reservations in hand.
We will keep you posted - please comment so we'll know we're still connected to home!
Tuesday is take off- stay tuned!

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Air and Space Museum

Last week we went to the Air and Space Museum to see their Science of Aliens display. Even better was the flight simulator. This is the video displayed on the monitor for us watching. Here's Olivia getting used to the machine:
video

Hmm. That wasn't too hard ... let's try some barrel rolls:
video
I love how her hair, necklace, seat belt and ticket all fly around!
Then it's Noah's turn. He takes this stuff pretty seriously!
video
And just for grins (and to test your high-speed connections) here is what they saw on the inside while flying:
video
Whew! It's a big video day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Orange Butter Lip Balm

Several months ago, one of my favorite suppliers sent a sample of a recipe they had created: Orange Butter Lip Balm. I knew as soon as I tried it that I was going to have to get their recipe and learn to make lip balm - it's that good! 

Now, with their recipe and a few bits of my own knowledge, the Orange Butter Lip Balm is here! 

I wish I could say that I was graceful and practiced and captured every moment on camera but the truth is that the balm is a bit tricky: it is a wax that firms up quickly and you have only seconds to get it from the heat to the tube, all the while making sure it isn't too hot which would melt the tube.
 So you get to see tubed, tubed with labels, and  ...
... tubed, relaxing in a bowl.
Try a tube today. These full-sized 0.15 ounce tubes are selling for a special price of only $2 each or I will toss one in free with your order of 2 bars of soap while they last.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Soap For Sale! Nice, New Soap For Sale!

5 batches are wrapped and ready to go! Here are some shots, first with them wrapped in shrink wrap. We use Biolefin, a biodegradable, compostable plastic that has a soft feel and allows the scent to come through.
 A quick zap with the heat gun and look how orderly they are!

If you're wondering what happened to that 6th batch, Humboldt Herbal is being re-batched because I am not satisfied with how it turned out. I'll let you know when it is ready - it has been quite a trial with fragrance and formula.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wedding Soaps: The Finale

I can't believe I didn't post more finished pictures of Pamela and Charlies wedding soaps! Here we go:



Monday, June 21, 2010

Soap of the Week: Acai Mangosteen

This fragrance captured my attention at first sniff! Fresh, fruity, but not too sweet; complex but not over-complicated. It might make the perfect friend!
Everyone keeps asking: What is a mangosteen?

Yes. That's what they look like. Wikipedia offers a wealth of information on this wonderful fruit. They describe the fruit as "fragrant edible flesh can be described as sweet and tangy, citrusy with peach flavor and texture." I'll take two!

The soap breaks right into a frothy lather. The fruit-inspired color is a delight to (be)hold!
Superfruit your senses with Acai-Mangotsteen.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So, I went to the doctor today ...

It's not too much medication as long as your kid can still carry it, right??

Monday, June 7, 2010

Knitting Lace

Knitting lace is rather magical. You begin with hours and hours of knitting two togethers and yarn overs to make the thoughtfully-placed holes that give the design. There's a lot of stitch counting, chart readign, and general mystery.
 Knitters talk about lace "blooming" and I was hoping I could capture a bit of that with this project when I took this picture:


The knitting is done, the ends sewn in, and I gently pinned it to a bath towel for perspective. Here's a bit of the detail:


Then the little beauty jumped into the bath. Suddenly the yarn was slipping and sliding and stretching the way knits do when they're wet. I gave it a quick rinse and ...
See how it stretched out? It now reaches beyond the towel - and I didn't even block it very hard (that's knitter lingo for "I didn't even yank it to the end of it's limits!")
And look at the detail now:

That, my friends, is how it's done!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Knitting and Soaping and Making a Play!

Soap of the Week is coming, I promise! It's been really busy around here with knitting a shawl (photos soon), making 450 soaps for a wedding, an experiment, and a play (photos soon!) and keeping up with the happenings at the Coronado Playhouse with the production of Sven's play "Actions Most Ridiculous."


And Noah started swim team this week!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Soap of the Week: Island Baby

Island Baby is a delicate soap, specifically formulated for baby's delicate skin.
Why do we care about pH? Human skin is protected by a "mantle" of essential fatty acids.  Soap and other cleansers remove this protective later as they clean. Your body then gets busy replacing the oils and restoring natural balance to our skin.
Baby's skin is slightly more acidic (i.e. has a lower pH) than adult skin. Island Baby is formulated to have a lower pH, closer to baby's own skin so that this balance is disrupted as little as possible while cleaning. Gentle soaps such as Island Baby clean gently without over-drying the skin.
On a simpler note, Island Baby is made with numerous fabulous oils and butters. Avocado oil has a particularly small molecule, allowing it to penetrate and nourish the skin; shea butter and sweet almond oils are delightful additions to a base of coconut and palm oils.
Island Baby is a wonderful facial cleansing bar. I use it daily to remove dirt, grime, and make-up. It cleans gently, never over-drying.
For adult faces or the youngest babies, Island Baby is a rich, luxurious way to clean!

**Free Shipping through June 10, 2010**

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Party Favors: Part 3

For the assembly photos, I am switching to the samples for the Little Black Boxes. I thought you might like a change of color!
Citrus Shoreline is a customer favorite: Bergamot, Chamomile, Coconut, and Lemongrass with Lemongrass added to the soap for gentle exfoliation. 
To assemble, we take the lovely, labeled soaps:
 
Add a touch of crinkle paper for even more color:
Add Free Shipping as a special thanks:
 Then wrap it all up in a cellophane bag (which refuses to photograph well!)
Repeat 50 times ...
 
... and we are ready to party!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Party Favors: Part 2

Please forgive me: this is a very photo-heavy blog. I wish you could see the "flip-show" that I have in my Photoshop when I roll through the photos of the mold filling - I could flip through those for hours!

When we left off, the black pieces were cut and shaped and curing. Today we pick up with the body of the soap and the careful placement of the pieces in the soap base. Enjoy!

Creamy, raw soap ready to fill the mold. It's about the consistency of pudding but not nearly as nice: it is caustic and requires gloves and safety goggles even now. 

Note that the spirals are carefully placed for maximum exposure when the soaps are cut! There's a lot of planning that goes into this. Finally I get to the final layer: 

... and there is nothing to do but cover it and wait 24 hours for cutting time! 

Luckily, I won't keep you in suspense! 

The finished loaf came out just like this:
Then the first cut gives us towers:


Which is cut into bars: 

Which make me happy!! 



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My First Shawl

Lest you think I'm all about soap these days ... may I introduce my Travelling Woman shawl? (I may have to call it a "wrap".)
Take a moment to follow that link - you'll see where I'm headed with this!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Party Favors: Part 1

Otherwise known as: When You Really Like Your Wedding Guests ...
We have a family wedding coming up and the beautiful bride will be remembered for her thoughtfulness and good taste, I'm sure! Jordan almond party favors are being replaced by soap favors. Here's a quick look at how they're made.

The Gray Batter:
Which is blended then unceremoniously poured into a makeshift mold and allowed to set over night:
The next day is when the real work occurs. This isn't particularly fun - I don't know of any short cut to getting round shapes other than just rolling, rolling, rolling them by hand.
Slowly but surely, progress is made and the loaf transforms and (thankfully!) disappears!
Now the shapes will cure for a day or two. It turns out that the amount of curing time required is exactly the same amount of time that it takes for me to be in the mood to mix another batch of soap. I love soap that way!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Soap of the Week: DazzleBerry Disco

Grab a bar and lather up - the first thing you will notice is the bubbles! Big bubbles come from the Coconut oil; the denser, foamy bubbles are a gift from the Castor Bean oil.
Lather up with this scent and you might agree: it could just as well be called "Midnight Summer Sangria" or "Sultry Summer Night. The fragrance is light and fruity but its the spicy under-notes that are intriguing and complex.
With a light, exuberant lather, a complex scent that doesn't take itself too seriously, DazzleBerry Disco is the perfect soap to kick off summer!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Citrus Shoreline Returns to Center Stage!

The real Citrus Shoreline is back and on the shelves curing! This batch might even be prettier than the first!


This soap will be wonderful for summer, too. It has a lot of shea butter for moisture, and the lemongrass pieces add just a bit of "grab" to gently exfoliate.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lively History

As part of a school project, my daughter recently had to write yet another family tree. This time I finally convinced (and drove, literally) her to ask my grandmother about her history. I washed the dishes, cleaned, and eavesdropped as Talen conducted her interview. Here are some highlights - I hope you find them as interesting as I did!

My great-grandmother Asta (pronounced "ous-ta") was born in Iceland. She grew and she grew ...


She traveled to Europe to earn her certificate as a house painter. She and Karen Hansen used the following as their business card:

It must have been effective because she was seen working: 


Grandma does report that the women did encounter some trouble - from other women - who didn't like that these two were working and taking jobs away from the men. A pioneer of women's lib! 

Here she is later with my great-great-uncle Magnus on the left, little Grandma front and center, and tiny baby great-uncle Pudge as a baby on the right. The gentleman holding Pudge is my grandmother's stepfather (her father died when she was 9 months old.) The snazzy dresser in the beautiful knitted sweater is Halldor Laxness, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Can you imagine how interesting conversations must have been?
(and let me point out to those that know my dad ... never mind ... you see it too, don't you??) 

All photos are pictures from a book published about Asta's life:
The tapestry featured on the cover was created by another family member (I think it as Asta's sister but I'm not positive) and the figures each represent one of the siblings ... Asta is third from the left, Mangus third from the right.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Antibacterial Soaps and You

Don't forget to bookmark my new "professional" blog! Here's a quick copy of today's post:

Yesterday on my morning rounds, I heard yet another advertisement (please pronounce it the British way - it sounds so much more clever. Clev-ah.) encouraging me to get vaccinated against H1N1. Is that thing even around anymore? Just saying ...
I took just enough Biology in college to know that killing germs can be a bad thing: you never get them all and only the toughest survive. These tough survivors pass on their toughness to their offspring times two because it took TWO tough germs to make a little baby germ. We are breeding super bacteria when we could simply have washed them down the drain!
Taking the argument further is the point made by Dr. Sarah Janssen in a recent article posted at simplesteps.org. She refers to antibacterial cleansers as "hormone disrupting hand cleaners." Not soap, because it isn't soap. Not antibacterial, because it merely promotes stronger bacteria.
She writes, in part:
Triclosan and triclocarban are chemicals added to personal care products, such as liquid and bar soaps, body washes, toothpaste and other personal care products for their so-called “antibacterial” properties. Triclosan is found in 75 percent of liquid hand soaps and triclocarban is used primarily in deodorant bar soaps. The widespread use of triclosan has resulted in the widespread exposure of the U.S. population—almost three-quarters of Americans carry residues of this chemical in their bodies. Triclosan and triclocarban are hormone disrupting chemicals and we are concerned that exposure to these chemicals could be causing harmful effects in humans.

Both of these chemicals are hormone disrupting chemicals, but they interfere with different hormone systems and though their toxicity is not fully understood, what we do know about these chemicals is deeply concerning. Triclosan interferes with thyroid hormone. We know that other thyroid disrupting chemicals have been shown to alter development of the brain and nervous system causing problems with learning or behavior later in life and we are concerned that triclosan could have similar effects.
Triclocarban is a unique type of hormone disrupting chemical which has not been found to have any hormone disrupting properties on its own but has been shown to enhance the activity of other hormones, such as the sex hormones, estrogen and testosterone. Boosting your sex hormones isn’t necessarily a good thing! For someone with a hormonally dependent cancer, that could mean more hormonal stimulation of cancer cell growth.
Furthermore, within our homes, there are many chemicals that interfere with both thyroid and sex hormones including flame retardants, BPA, and phthalates.
As if I didn't support plain old soap and water enough before: I think I have a few new reasons to go natural!