Do you have troubled skin? Problem skin? Skin that acts like a hormonally moody teenager – acting right one moment, irritating you the next? Then have I got a soap for you! At event after event, through Facebook messages and emails, customers often ask me,
I have psoriasis and eczema. Do you have any soap that will cure that?
My answer is always, “No. None of my soaps will cure skin diseases.”
However, I have a lot of customers who have tried Au Naturel (formerly known as Soap of Milk & Honey – and Oatmeal) and have come back with nothing but praise for it with reports that it has helped their skin tremendously.
So, what is it that makes people desire this soap? It’s true that it won’t cure anything. The goat’s milk is vitamin-rich, containing vitamins A & E, both excellent for the skin. The oatmeal helps soothe skin. The honey acts as a humectant in addition to the naturally occurring glycerin, drawing moisture from the air to the skin. There is no added fragrance in this soap, and it has a lovely natural toasted oatmeal scent that comes out as the soap saponifies. If I had to sum up what, exactly, makes this soap so skin-friendly, I’d say its nakedness makes it shine.
Because very little I experience in my life as a professional soapmaker and vendor surprises me, having people tell me last year that they needed soap that’s even more naked than Au Naturel about knocked me off my feet. I learned that some people are very sensitive to oats and can’t use products containing them. Yet, they wanted an incredible goat’s milk-based soap without fragrance or oatmeal. For those people, I whipped up this little gem in January.
To call this a Castille soap would be a misnomer, though its only oil is olive oil, so it has the gentleness of Castille soap. It contains goat’s milk, with all its rich moisturizing properties and vitamins. It also has honey to lend its moisturization. This little jewel is Nude Beach, an ultra-gentle soap that will make your skin feel spectacular. Like Au Naturel, this one, also, is unscented.
So, which is it? Do you want to go Au Naturel or take a detour to the Nude Beach? Either way, both of these soaps will be kind to your skin, whether it’s young or old, particular or easy-going.
If you are in my branded Facebook group, then you likely saw the live video I posted last week about these amazing little samples with the incredible fragrance. First, a little backstory… (aka, How in the world did I get to these?)
Ages ago when I was making smaller amounts of lip balms (not many hundreds a year), I ordered my tubes from Rustic Escentuals/Aroma Haven, a supplier out of South Carolina. Their prices were fair, service was great, but the UPS shipping was brutal! Let’s face it: Lip balm tubes and caps are not terribly bulky or heavy to ship. At around this same time, I discovered a then-Kentucky-based company that offered the same product for a comparable price, but which had a priority mail shipping option, which cut my shipping in half or more per order. I abandoned AHRE for that particular product.
The second company moved operations from Kentucky to Colorado, and the shipping went up accordingly. (Hey, I get it. It happens.) Over the past couple of months, I have gone back to buying smaller quantities of tubes at a time from AHRE. The per-item price is a titch cheaper (we’re talking a fraction of a penny here), the shipping still makes my gut clench, but the basic, cheap-o Fedex home delivery is here the next day if I place my order before lunchtime. This amounts of overnight delivery without paying a premium for it!
I placed my first order in a long time with AHRE and was delighted to have the opportunity to get a free fragrance sample. I LOVE sniffies, and when I get enough of them, I throw down a batch of one-hit wonders. Being on the seemingly endless search for a good Orange Blossom fragrance, I happily clicked the button to add a free sample of Orange Blossom & Amber fragrance oil to my cart. Imagine my surprise and delight when my package arrived the next day (overnight shipping – woohoo!) and I discovered a one-ounce bottle of fragrance! With a happy mix of excitement (Hope it smells awesome!) and trepidation (What if it smelled awful?), I opened the bottle and took that first sniff. It smelled amazing! It’s got the orange blossom scent I was expecting with bottom notes of warm, musky amber.
The question came, What to do with these 28ish grams of awesomeness? I had a small amount of coconut avocado lotion base in my shop fridge, so I warmed it a little bit, added the fragrance, and poured it into bottles. The largest bottle made it into my backpack. The rest of the lotion went into the adorable little white bottles you see up there ^^^ to be shared with you, my customers.
This, of course, led to another question… I used to offer a line of luxurious body cremes, and with winter’s dry air coming, is this something you’d like to see again? This would be a limited time offer of a very exclusive variety of scents, and I’d use the to-die-for coconut avocado lotion as the base.
In the meantime, I have three samples of this Orange Blossom & Amber creme available, and the next three customers who order will receive one so you can see what has me so excited.
Again, would you like to see a limited engagement of body cremes for the winter? And what fragrances would have you turning cartwheels?
Brrr! I woke up a couple of days ago to discover that someone had turned off the heat! We went from summer to fall in a blink! I’m not a cold-weather person, so while Autumn is perfectly lovely, it’s not my favorite season, because I know what’s coming. (Then again, I did use the phrase “when Summer returns in December…” last night.) Be that as it may, Autumn is the perfect time of year to cook up something warm and comforting for dinner with planned-overs for either another dinner or lunch. Usually, “comforting” equals high-calorie and high-fat, but we don’t want to give up healthy for satisfying. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to do when it’s cold is to go outside to exercise. In fact, so many of us come as close as possible to hibernating when it gets cold, and all those pounds we lost in the spring and summer find us – and they bring friends with them! LOTS of friends!
Poking around on Facebook, I discovered this incredible slow-cooked tomato soup recipe. I love some good tomato soup on a chilly day – or any day, really – and it’s not unusual for us to have some cans in the pantry, at the very least. When I found out, though, that I could easily and quickly whip up some soup in the slow-cooker, I got happy and immediately decided to let my family be the guinea pigs for this experiment. Again, this isn’t my recipe, but it’s definitely worth sharing.
I have to keep my people to just one serving per meal, especially my teen daughter after soccer practice or a soccer game.
She’s usually famished after being on the field for an hour-and-a-half or so. Here’s the recipe, step-by-step…
56 ounces Diced Tomatoes, Canned
2 cups Vegetable Broth/Stock
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 cup diced carrots
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon garlic Powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 whole Bay Leaf
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup half & half or whole milk
Add all ingredients in slow cooker in the order listed.
Turn on slow cooker to high and cook for 3-4 hours. If you are cooking on low cook 6-8 hours.
Pour 1/2 of the slow cooker into a blender and blend until smooth, repeat with the remaining 1/2 of the soup. Pour all of the soup back into the slow cooker and serve immediately or keep warm until ready to serve.
Using half-and-half, this recipe came up to 143 calories per serving, calculating 8 servings. I prefer cooking this low and slow, turning the heat down to “warm” once the carrots are soft. Pair it with grilled cheese on whole wheat, and you’ve got a wonderful, fairly healthy dinner*. (My health app clocks this one at 400 calories, 55.7 g carbs, 22.5 g fat, and 19.7 g protein.)
Give this one a try, and drop a comment below letting me know what you think of it.
*Caveat… My health goals focus on overall health. I don’t concentrate on reducing any one nutritional element in my endeavors, choosing instead to strive for balance. If you have health needs that require you to watch your carbohydrates, fat, cholesterol, or sodium, it is your responsibility to adjust the recipe to meet your unique needs.
I was talking to my newish friend Joy a few weeks ago, and being that Joy is a newish friend, we’re still in that getting-to-know-your-life-story stage. I asked her, “What brought you to this area?” Come to find out, Joy and her husband moved here from the same basic area we did. Most people down here with young families are either natives or moved here for work. Then there’s Joy and me.
Why did we move here? What did we envision life would be like down here? The why is easy: It’s the coast! And what did I expect life would be like? Picture it… You drive down to the beach for a weekend or a week, and along the way, winding along two-lane state highways, you see road-side stand after road-side stand, selling fresh fruits and vegetables. As you get closer to your destination, the scent of briny sea air teases your nose and fills your lungs. You think, What I wouldn’t give to live down here! We’d hang out at the beach all the time, eat fresh vegetables and fruit every day, and have locally caught seafood a few times a week. At least, that’s pretty close to what I thought.
I threw in, “Ride a bike around” and “Live a fit, healthy lifestyle” along with that. Sure, we’d have to work, but we’d be living the working vacation.
Come to find out, Joy and her husband had similar ideas. As I shared my vision, Joy nodded and “uh-huh’ed” in that tone that says, “Sounds familiar.” Their vision – being childless when they made the move – included sitting on the beach watching the sunset and the stars come out. They also saw themselves dining on fresh produce, freshly caught seafood, and living the healthy coastal lifestyle. They were able to catch some sunsets early on, but then life happens.
So, what is the coastal life like? I wake up in the morning and watch the world wake up as I sip my water (part of the HCLS – healthy coastal life style). Weather permitting, I open the sliding glass door, breathing deep draughts of fresh morning air. I’ve gotten good enough to determine the direction of the wind based on how the air smells. Fresh and clean means the air is coming from the north or the south. Tinged with l’aroma du pigs indicates the wind is coming from the west. Laced with the pungent scent of chemicals, and the wind is coming from the southeast. But the best breeze smells fresh, clean, salt-tinged, and just a titch fishy. This is the breeze from the due east or the northeast, where it’s blowing off the sea and coming inland.
After exercising, eating breakfast, and showering/dressing for the day, it’s time to start school. In between courses, I deal with emails. Once school is over, it’s time to get to work. Usually I’m able to knock out some to-dos right after the school day ends. The past two months and going into now, I spend time looking at soccer drill videos and drill instructions, planning what my players need and how to keep practices fun. After a little bit of work on two days of the week, we head out to the soccer fields for practice. By the time we get home from running up and down the fields many times, it’s late, and we’re ready for dinner.
This is where planning happens. If Peter is home, he’ll take care of dinner. On those nights when he’s at the fields, too, dinner goes into the slow cooker. It’s awesome coming home to a pot of soup or chili when it’s late and you’re famished!
On evenings we don’t have to go anywhere, we can spend more time and creativity on our dinner. After dinner, the girls go to bed, I get a little work done, and then Peter and I watch TV for a bit before bed.
Sounds pretty familiar, huh? This could be life anywhere in the state, anywhere in the country, except for different air and different work. Coastal life is simply life. Sure, we can take free days to hit the beach, and it’s easy having fresh produce without making a special farmer’s market run. Other than that, we work, we play, we have school, and we live life to the fullest. It’s not terribly romantic, but it’s the best we’ve had.