Sneak Peek – Pouring & Cutting Outer Banks Beer Soap

This week, I’m going to let video rule the post.  A couple of weeks ago, I made and poured a batch of Outer Banks Beer Soap.  I didn’t record the making of this soap, because no one wants to watch saturated fats melt (5 minutes of boredom) or my mixing the soap (30-60 seconds of noisy boredom).  Here I’m showing the pouring of this soap followed by the slicing of it.

So, what do you think of this little sneak peek?  I don’t do them often, but every now and then, it’s fun showing off how we make the magic that we do.

Strong is the New Skinny

I shot this quick video last night when I got home from Dance2Fit. This is real, y’all – sweaty, no makeup, hair pushed back in one of my daughter’s soccer headwraps to keep the sweat from dripping into my face.

I’d gotten home after a 75-minute workout, during which time I’d downed about 20 ounces of water.  I wasn’t perfect; I missed steps and kicked right when everyone else was kicking left.  Two things happened last night, though, that really fired off some pride and humility in me.  First, the instructor praised how low my squat was – right after praising this other lady who was also killing the held squat.  The cool part is, I admire and respect that other lady’s fitness level and how she does the class.  She’s been doing Dance2Fit for years and really has the routines down.  The humbling part came after a grueling 3-4 minute arm workout.  I was walking around my spot and stretching out my arms when I happened to notice a new lady to the class was copying my stretches.  Just like I watch the lady I admire, this lady was watching me.  You can bet I was a lot more attentive to how I moved after that!

Genetics and a life of not making the best choices both ensure that I’ll never be skinny – not without some really dangerous behaviors or extensive and expensive surgery.  And that’s OK.  I’m getting stronger with every workout, be it high-impact aerobics, weight-lifting, cardio, or yoga.

For ages, society has equated skinny with healthy, and in some cases, that is certainly true.  However, skinny isn’t the only shape healthy takes.  While far from skinny, I’m in the best health of my life, not just judging by strength, but also by the numbers – blood pressure, cholesterol, resting heart rate, and glucose.  I celebrate my healthiness and my strength, even while I continue to slim down my silhouette.

How are you building strength, whatever stage in life you’re finding yourself?  Drop your response in the comments below so we can celebrate and encourage you.

How Die-ts Spell Death for the Healthy Coastal Lifestyle

Dieting is anathema to healthy living. I’ve seen it too many times to count. Back in the 80s when NutriSystem was new and hot, someone I know jumped on it; she was a “chunky” size 10. (Funny what was “chunky” by today’s standards.) She followed the diet faithfully, lost a bunch of weight, and looked GOOD. As soon as she met her goal, she got off the diet and started eating as she wanted (a large bag of Doritos in a day, for example), and all those pounds came back and brought friends. They settled in and never left, and now this person has a number of weight-related health problems. Both our dads have done low-carb – Atkins and South Beach – and we’ve watched the pounds drop while they followed the diets and the pounds come back as they started eating carbs again. Even I’ve done that in my life – reduced calories to lose weight, only to gain them back and more once I met my goal. That life isn’t for me.

This yo-yo dieting isn’t healthy at all. It puts tremendous strain on every part of the body. It slows down the body’s metabolism, actually making it harder to lose weight, especially around the gut and internal organs. Yo-yo dieting also leads to increased cortisol levels, which makes us gain weight. It can further lead to Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, both of which can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular events. In short, yo-yo dieting can kill you.

I don’t diet. I hate diets. I think they’re intrinsically flawed and doomed to failure for reasons we’ve all experienced. You deprive yourself of something (in behavioral psych terms, that’s called punishment), and when the “punishment” is over (e.g., you’ve met the weight loss goal), we enjoy the forbidden foods again and all those pounds come back with reinforcements. I saw similar behavior with my younger daughter last week.  She abused the boundaries we’d placed on her tablet use during the school year – a day after getting it back from a previous punishment. She’d lost her Fire through the end of the school year, and we gave it back to her when she returned from a mission retreat. For two straight days last week, all I saw was the top of her head while she played games or watched videos on it. Her punishment was over, and she glutted on the thing we’d taken away. As a result, I began placing limits on her use, turning it into a reward.

I like food. I like the tastes, the textures, and the experience of food. When I want the food, I eat the food. It doesn’t matter what it is. I am tending to skew to a higher protein percentage for muscle repair from working out. However, I’ll eat a cookie or a serving of ice cream or a serving of popcorn. I try to reduce my carb intake throughout the day, giving my body more time to burn them, but I don’t beat myself up if that doesn’t happen. For me, it’s about moderation and grace. Could I eat a quart of ice cream? Sure. Do I? Not in a sitting. I eat that ice cream a 1/2 cup at a time over weeks, if not months. (That’s moderation.) Some days, I eat more calories than I burn. I don’t give up; I just get back on track the next day, and maybe exercise a bit more throughout the week to keep myself on track overall. (That’s grace.) I’m not a failure because last Tuesday I blew my calorie count out of the water at our anniversary dinner.

My breakfasts tend to be carb-heavy, my lunches more protein- and fruit/vegetable-heavy, and our dinners feature lean protein, vegetables, and, when possible, carbs from veggies (jicama, carrots, peas, etc.) more than from grains, rice, etc. However, when someone else in the house plans and cooks dinner, I gratefully go with what they fix and don’t demand a special meal (there are quite a few social reasons behind that that I won’t get into here). To their credit, they run their menus by me ahead of time so I can eat accordingly throughout the day. I only snack on days when I’ll be eating a late dinner because of workouts and/or soccer practice, and it’s something high-protein, like cheese, a glass of milk, peanuts, a protein bar, or a snack serving of Kind Dark Chocolate granola clusters (low glycemic index, good protein – and that stuff is AWESOME!!! in vanilla Greek yogurt).

I drink a LOT of water. Lately I’ve been averaging 9 cups a day. I have 2-3 alcoholic drinks a year, no more than 2 sodas a year, and maybe 5 glasses of sweet tea a year. Juice is rare, milk is less a drink and more a calcium and protein source, and my one mug of coffee a day is the source of my personality.  I can’t stand artificial sweeteners and avoid them at all costs. It’s pure cane sugar or I go without, and since I don’t want to take in tons of sugar, I’ll opt for “without.” Besides, water is cheap; I got into that when I was in Div school and broke but we still wanted to go out occasionally without spending $2 on a glass of tea that costs the restaurant about $.08. (Plus, water keeps our urinary tracts functioning at their best, doesn’t destroy tooth enamel, and keeps the rest of our organs functioning at their peaks.)

The result of all this? Mentally, I know I’m not depriving myself, so I don’t feel like I’m being punished for being overweight, which is basically what weight-loss diets do; they’re punishment. Eating is necessary, but how and what I eat becomes a choice with consequences. If I eat too many carbs in a day, I really don’t feel good in my body. If I want a little sweet bite after dinner and eat 3 Kisses, then I have the pleasure of the chocolate and the “yay, me!” of knowing I’ve exercised will-power. I’ve lost about half the weight I want by combining eating well with a variety of exercises. It hasn’t been fast, but it’s been steady, and I’d rather be healthy for life than just lighter for a few months.

And even better?  I’ve met my final health goal.  Last week, I was able to wear my favorite black velvet choker to our anniversary dinner.  Check it out!

Picture of Peter and me
My honey and me

And I’m still so excited about those shoulders! Woot!

Have you started living the healthy coastal lifestyle, yet? You don’t have to live at the beach to make the magic happen. And remember, the slow walker is doing far better than the couch potato. What steps have you taken to improve your health? Tell us in the comments below. 

 

Mindfulness Flow

In this video, I share with you tips for living life more mindfully to reduce stress, lose weight, and increase creativity.  Whether you think of mindfulness as a habit or a discipline, practice truly does make perfect.  You’re not going to get it completely right the first time, and that’s OK.  Give yourself the grace to mess up and to embrace the fresh opportunity to start over with the next day.  Start with one minute and go from there.  Remember, we’re flowing like water.

If you have questions about the effects of our emotions on our bodies’ chemicals and what that has to do with health, feel free to ask them in the comments.

Did you try it?  How was it?  I still have to work to bring my mind back to the now or to keep it from straying to the then.  How do you feel after practicing this mindfulness exercise for a few minutes?  Please let me know in the comments below.

DIY Stress-Relieving Bath Treats

When things get stressful, we all need a bit of time to chill out and relax.  When you can’t escape town or get away to a spa, it’s nice to have options for relaxing at home.  I’m sharing with you three simple formulations for easy bath treats you can whip up yourself in just a few minutes.  Check out the video, then scroll down for the ratios.

Fizzy Bath Salts

1 T. corn starch

2T. baking soda

2 T. citric acid

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together, stirring to get out clumps.  Pour into bath.

 

Bath Salts

2 T. epsom salts

2 T. coarse sea salt

3 drops essential oil

Mix all together.

 

Chamomile Oatmeal Tub Tea

2 T. dried chamomile blossoms

2 T. colloidal oatmeal (or regular oatmeal)

Mix together and place in a cloth bag or empty tea bag.  Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.  Place filled bag into pot.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 20 minutes.  Dump into bath water, being careful to adjust water temperature to allow for the temperature of the tea.  Discard contents of bag (if using cloth) after bath.

Which one of these sounds the best to you?  Comment below to let me know which treat you made and how you liked it.

Springtime Salad

Spring means fresh fruits and the beginning whispers of fresh vegetables (asparagus, anyone?).  As the temperatures warm up, we’re outside more which means different dinner menus.  Our fare has gone from hearty and filling to lighter and filling.

Last weekend, our family went to a dinner party at a friend’s house.  Our contribution was a large, fabulous salad that was a huge hit.  It was fancy by our standards, and I guess it was a fantasy salad by everyone else’s standards, too.  Maybe they also grab a bag of greens and toss salad dressing on them?

This salad was so refreshing and delicious that I just knew I had to share it with you.  Best yet, it is super-easy to make.

Spring Salad from Sara Nesbitt on Vimeo.

So, getting to the skinny on how to make this…

5 ounces of spring mix greens (or any green of your choosing)

1/2 cup of cheese (bleu cheese crumbles or shredded cheese)

1/3 cup candied pecans*

1/2 – 3/4 cup sliced strawberries

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

Salad dressing to taste (I used 2 ounces of Balsamic with Honey Dressing)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

*To make the candied pecans… Melt a tablespoon of butter in a small pan.  Add a tablespoon of light brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.  Mix together.  Toss in 1/3 cup chopped pecans and stir to coat.  Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from pan and set on wax paper until cool.

We served this salad as a side, but it is also wonderful with chicken for a main course.

Throw this together for a mid-week dinner and let me know in the comments what you think.

There Is No Shortcut to Success

Want to know the secret to my success as a businesswoman?

I’ve been in business for almost sixteen years.  I’ve read scores of books on business and soapmaking, watched hours of webinars, sat in seminars, and spent time with my mentors, both in soapmaking and business.  Business isn’t a one-and-done proposition; it must be a continuing journey towards growth and improvement.

Being a home educator, I obviously love teaching.  Being a business owner, soapmaker, and cosmetic manufacturer, I love sharing that passion with others, teaching what I’ve learned through the years.  Whenever someone comes to me with a true desire to invest themselves in learning, I’m happy to take time to teach them.  I’ve even thought about offering classes in beginning soapmaking and setting up a small business.

One of the things that I’ve experienced many times is requests from newbies wanting my success.  If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, “Can I have your best selling soap recipe?  I want to sell them at the flea market this weekend,” I’d have my dream beach house and be comfortable for life.  I thought those days were behind me.  Then Sunday happened.

A local lady I know messaged me on Facebook:  “Can you give me a crash course on making soap?”  I explained to her that there is no “crash course” to soapmaking.  I further shared that I spent six months learning how to make cold processed soap, and that’s the average.  I have books on techniques, formulation, oil analysis, soapmaking chemistry, and labeling.  This isn’t a quick and easy knowledge set; it takes time, dedication, and work.  I quickly got the feeling that the lady wasn’t interested in spending time learning the craft; she wanted my best soap formulation so she could make soaps to sell in our local area.  She wanted my 10+ years of knowledge and experience fast and free!  I gave her what she needed, though not what she wanted.  The lady wasn’t happy with this.  She wanted the shortcut.

The “shortcut” to success

Just as there are no shortcuts in soapmaking, there are no shortcuts in life.  If you want to be successful in any endeavor, you absolutely must invest the time to do it and do it well.

Business:  Those of us with successful businesses are enviable, I’m sure.  We have wholesale accounts, websites, active social media accounts, and a customer following.  We make it look easy, because no one sees the work we put in after hours (like right now it’s after 10:30 p.m. as I type this).  My friend and I put it, “It takes a lot of time and hard work to become an ‘overnight success.'”  Some people seem to have that one magical idea that nets them a small fortune seemingly overnight, but those people are few and far between.  The rest of us put in a lot of work, sweat, and tears into making our dreams profitable.

Fitness:  You’ve probably seen the great, awesome boiled egg diet that kept popping up all over social media a few weeks ago.  Lose 24 pounds in 2 weeks with the boiled egg diet!  This diet has nothing to do with eggs, though they’re great sources of low-fat protein.  The diet is very close to keto and extremely low calorie.  A quick estimate of calories indicates maybe 1000 calories a day and very few carbohydrates with this diet, so losing weight will be quick – and temporary.  Those pounds won’t stay off once the diet is over.  If you want lasting weight loss, deprivation isn’t the way to go.  You’ve got to make lasting life changes, not temporary weight changes, if health is your goal.

Peace of Mind:  Who doesn’t love a trip to the beach or the mountains?  We breathe in the fresh air and the change of scenery helps us unwind.  When we get home, though, it’s like all the stress and pressures quickly envelop us again.  That’s why I developed my beach-inspired soaps, so you can bring the beach home.  If you want to de-stress and stay calm, relaxing needs to be a daily goal.  Yoga, meditation, or just getting off by yourself to chill for a bit will help lower the stress, which will, in turn, improve other areas of your life.

So what’s the secret to my success?  Hard work.  Studying.  Learning from others.  Making material investments in my improvement.  Years of experience.  And years of mistakes.  Part of the joy of rebranding was starting fresh with all my years of experience as well as the lessons learned from my mistakes – lessons I happily pass along to others.  And underscoring it all,  I work with integrity.  A business owner can have vast amounts of knowledge and experience, but if they lack in basic integrity, then their business lacks in other ways, too.

What are some of the secrets of your success?  Please share them below.

Soaps Bear Memories and Share Happiness

It’s spring.  Well, it’s supposed to be spring, anyway.  Everything in me leans towards cleaning – cleaning up and cleaning out.  The soap rack is no exception.  As I’m constantly making new soaps and restocking my supplies, I also spend time getting rid of soaps that aren’t saleable.  Usually these go into donate piles with one or two meandering upstairs to the basket in our bathroom.

One Monday, my younger daughter was waiting for her sis and me to catch up with her at the church where my teen goes for her language arts class.  My daughter had noticed a sign with a bin underneath; one of this church’s ministries was collecting toiletries for migrant workers.  Being especially compassionate towards non-native-born Americans at this particular point in our nation’s history, she said, “Mom, you could donate some soaps.”

Picture of soaps
Soap Donation

My initial reaction was consternation; I don’t have any soaps on hand that I’m discontinuing completely.  As we were sitting at breakfast the next morning, though, I looked up at my soap rack, which was behind her.  And I paused, my mind calculating its unseen contents (the shelves are high from a sitting position).  She said, “What?”  And I smiled.

“I have some soaps we can donate,” I told her.  Her dimple popped out and she got excited.  I didn’t have many; you can see the pile isn’t terribly big.  I had some Burberry soaps that didn’t behave well in the mould and came out all weirdly quadrilateral but not particularly rectangular as they should.  And I had some cucumber soaps that were eventually to have these beautiful dragonflies applied to them before I determined that those soaps are cost-prohibitive to create and discontinued them.  One of those bars made it to the basket; its age will guarantee a mild soap and a wildly fluffy lather.

While I was busy elsewhere, the Hubby and she pulled down and wrapped the soaps.  She was so excited to bag them up and put them in the bin!  That felt good to me, too, and the space on my rack was certainly welcome.

From Small to Colossal to Small

Do you remember KB Toys?  KB Toys was a chain of inline stores found in malls nationwide in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, with a few tenacious remnants making it into the early aughts.  I loved this store!  They had the best selection of Barbie clothes anywhere – of course, with matching shoes.

Then the 80s brought the likes of Toys ‘R Us to markets nationwide.  While KB Toys was a large chain of small stores, TRU was a large chain of huge stores.  Now, TRU is closing its doors, demolished by billions in corporate debt, as well as its big box store competitors.  According to CNN, Amazon and other online retailers did not mark the beginning of the end of TRU as previously suspected.

The vast entities known as the major online retailers – walmart(dot)com and Amazon, to name the two biggest – certainly didn’t help matters any.  In the past ten years or so, while many people dragged themselves out into chilly late November weather to battle the after Thanksgiving toy store mobs, many others stayed home and shopped in their pajamas, enjoying free shipping and avoiding the crowds.  As Cyber Monday became more of a thing, businesses everywhere encouraged customers to buy online instead of from brick and mortar businesses.

Toys ‘R Us’s problems were at the corporate level.  Too much debt, too poorly managed assets.  Sure, I shopped at TRU several times, and I’ll never forget the excitement of completing our baby registry at Babies ‘R Us when Hubby and I were expecting our first child.  However, I never got that feeling shopping at TRU that I remembered from KB Toys.  While the warehouse-feeling space was vast, it felt impersonal, and there was seldom a great selection of what I wanted.  Two aisles of console games?  No, thank you.  An entire creepy doll aisle?  Get me outta here!  And by the time my older daughter was into Barbies…  Where the heck are all the Barbie ensembles???  Plus, I thought the prices were ridiculously high compared to KB Toys (when I was at a toy-buying age during the companies’ overlap).

Small retailers do struggle with this to some degree.  When will a corporate giant sink us?  Yet, a lot of us indie retailers were born, grew, and thrived over against our big box store counterparts.  We can offer what customers want.  Products I make and sell are not available from Bath & Body Works, for example.  Customers get to meet us personally and often get a sneak peek behind the scenes at what’s going on with our brands.  Many times, they also get the opportunity to give us quick feedback on products we carry that impact the business directly.  Small indie business becomes a relationship between seller and guest, and we love nurturing that relationship.

And now, what do I see but that KB Toys is coming back!  A company that revitalizes old brands has bought the KB Toys name and plans to open 1000 stores for Black Friday and the holiday selling season.  I suspect that a lot of GenXers who share my nostalgia around the brand and the experience of shopping there will line up to bring some of that remembered joy to their own children.  I hope the owners will not go big but will instead focus on smaller size with outstanding customer care.

KB Toys logo
KB Toys is coming back! So exciting!

The likes of Amazon and Walmart will be with us for the foreseeable future.  They’re both retail giants who have managed to maximize profits.  Additionally, Amazon treats its employees well and pays them far above the minimum wage favored by some retailers.  I enjoy my Prime membership and the perks it brings me as I happily click my way to new stuff.  Yet, the small indie retailers will also be around for the foreseeable future, because we can offer what no dot com can; a personal and personalized shopping experience.  Amazon is not going to message me to let me know that they have a new assortment of workout tanks or that those shorts I ordered are on sale if I want to get more of them.  However, a small business owner will take the time to contact a customer, making that person feel important.  Plus, we humans are tactile shoppers.  We like to feel, smell, and experience the things we’re thinking about buying.  No online experience can duplicate that.

How do you like to shop?  Will online retailers wipe out your brick & mortar shopping trips?

 

Just Eat the Damn Dessert Already!

It’s been one of those days.  Shoot, it’s been one of those WEEKS!  My daughters are taking turns being the conductor and the engineer of the crazy train, I’m working, school is taking forever to complete because of their misbehavior, and some crazy evil spirit has possessed my usually angelic younger child, a spirit that can’t be exercised exorcised because her soccer practices have been cancelled all week due to rain.

After a particularly trying day today, I was ready for a 2″ tall chocolate cupcake “lightly” frosted with 4″ of buttercream icing.  Upon hearing that, my teen – God bless her! – started tossing dark chocolate Doves at me.  That got us through inverse logarithms.  But dang, I still was having lustful urges towards cupcakes or these new espresso brownies our local coffee shop posted to their Instagram feed yesterday.  You know, when things are going to crap, you just want some comfort food, and my comfort comes in the form of chocolate.

Español: chocolate en piezas
Español: chocolate en piezas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yet, comfort food isn’t exactly good for the waist, nor is it good when one is trying to live the healthy coastal lifestyle.  So what’s a person to do?  Easy!  Just eat the damn dessert already!  When the spirit is drained, the head is pounding, and you just want to crawl up and have a good cry, just eat the blasted sweets!  Take comfort where you can.  Tomorrow you can get back to pounding the pavement.

And total psychological recovery requires both.  Don’t deprive yourself of the treat, but also don’t beat yourself up for indulging in it.  When you go to bed, the day is over, and when you awaken the next morning, it’s the perfect opportunity to start all over fresh.  It’s also the perfect time to lace up the sneakers and get outside.  Take a walk or a jog.  The important part here is to get fresh air, clear your mind, and get some exercise.  Follow that with some mindful stretching, yoga, perhaps.  Fuel up for the day, and swing right back into the healthy coastal lifestyle.

How do you recover after a particularly stressful day?  Comment below.