Monday, May 25, 2009


I'm giving the blogging world a little break. Not long, just enough time to deal with priority #1. My sister is in the hospital again. She had gallstone pancreatitis and we had to remove the gallbladder. Instead of your typical lapriscopic surgery she had to have an open. Her incision is about 6 inches long or more. Not pretty. Her recovery isn't going well. She can't eat and the lack of nutrition puts her at risk of developing other infections. She also developed blood clots.

For those of you who know her condition you can understand why it is time for me to focus on this and step away from the computer for a while. Thank you for all the well wishes on FB and inkstainers. I'll update you all soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Years ago, probably around 1992/1993, while I was rock climbing in the adirondacks I was introduced to the "black fly." It was my first exposure to black flies. My climbing guide had warned me that it was "black fly" season but the only black flies I knew of were those pesky kitchen flies. You know, the ones that are born as little maggots and then fly around until you kill them with a fly swatter. So, I didn't think twice about climbing during black fly season.

Well picture this. A million little black flies, about the size of pencil tip, swarming around your head. You don't feel them bite until after they've drilled a hole and left you a bloody mess. You start to itch like crazy and in my case, being allergic, I develop a fever and tons of welts (wherever they bit me). Initially I tried using bug repellent, the famous OFF, but no matter how much I sprayed on my body it wasn't helping. At one point I started to imagine the black flies were wearing gas masks because I could barely stand the smell of myself so how come they weren't affected??? My climbing guide tried to give me some oil concoction to use but I baulked at the idea and continued to complain and use my "off". Someone suggested a net over the head might help but try rock climbing up a 800 ft rock face with that on your head. I don't think so!

A few days into the climb my guide pulls out the oil concoction again. This time, feeling ill and willing to try anything, I dab on some oil. "Nope, not good enough" he tells me. So he showers me with the stuff and......I'm not sure if it was the carrier oil base drowning the black flies before they could bite me or if it was the nausiating scent of eucalyptus mixed with citronella, but it worked!

I learned two lessons that day: #1 don't be so arrogant always assuming I know best, sometimes a climbing guide knows what he's talking about. #2 even though it seems simple, natural oftentimes is much better than synthetic.

That experience kept me from buying OFF ever again. Initially I purchased someone elses handmade bug repellent but decided it was more fun to make my own. Besides, my kids get a kick out of telling their friends that THEIR MOM makes bug killer.

And although my creation doesn't exactly kill bugs like the kids think, it does manage to keep them away.

Step One: Gather your supplies. You don't need much. Measuring spoons, double boiler for melting, spoon for stirring, tin for storage.

Step Two: Gather your ingredients. Carrier oils, beeswax, essential oils.

My preferred carrier oils are castor and almond. Almond is my new fav. It absorbs quickly and I just like the way it feels. Castor is a skin protectant and who doesn't want to protect their skin when in the hardy outdoors.

For essential oils I use citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and cedarwood oil. This combo has proven to keep black flies, mosquitos and ticks away.

Step Three: Measure out your oils/beeswax. For a 3 inch round tin I used 3 tbs. almond oil, 1.5 tbs. beeswax and .5 tbs castor oil. Neem oil is gaining popularity in natural bug repellent formulas because it is said that neem has the ability to repel mosquitos and other insects on its own. I haven't tried it yet.

Step Four: I melt my beeswax first and then add the almond oil and castor oil. This will start to harden quickly once removed from the heat so you need to add your EO's at just the right time. You don't want to do it while your oils are at their hottest so wait until it cools a bit, but not so cool that it starts to solidify. You will have to play with the amount of EO's. I always use more citronella than anything. One, because my family thinks it smells the best and two, because it is great at keeping the sqeeters away.

Step Five: Once you've added your EO's and your bug repellent is still liquid, pour into your tin (or lotion tube, or whatever you choose). Set on a shelf and let it cool or if you need it right away you can pop it in the fridge for 5 minutes. Once hard it is ready to be used.

If you'd want to try different EO's, here is a list of the most common EO's used to repel insects:

citronella, cedar, verbena, pennyroyal, geranium, lavender, pine, cajeput, cinnamon, lemongrass, rosemary, basil, thyme, allspice, garlic, and peppermint, and eucalyptus (good for ticks).

To use, just rub your fingers across the surface, the oil will melt from your body heat, then rub on your skin.

Natural bug repellents need to be applied more often then the chemically laden commercial products (every 2 hours) but your body will thank you for it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


New Directions Aromatics has given me permission to use their logo to promote their being a supplier of sustainable palm oil.

Lets make sure we protect our earth and wildlife, future generations depend on us. Buy sustainable palm oil! We have a choice, the orangutan and the trees don't.

A permanent link for new directions aromatics will be posted on the sidebar of this blog.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Have you ever gone somewhere and came home feeling completely sapped of energy, not knowing why? Spent time with friends or family and walked away feeling low? Do you ever enter a room and feel an immediate urge to leave?

These are the moments you need a spiritual cleanse.

A spiritual cleansing is similar to a physical cleansing in the sense that you are washing something away. In a physical cleansing you wash away dirt while a spiritual cleanse washes away negative vibrations.

You can pick up negative vibrations from people or things such as a house, a piece of furniture or an article of clothing. Inanimate objects retain the energy of their former owners. If an extremely negative person lived in a home before you moved in, you are likely to feel those vibrations emanating around you.

Negative energy can make us feel tired, sad and depressed. When this happens it means your spiritual vibration has suffered. This is when you would want to do a spiritual cleanse in order to balance your spiritual vibration again.

There are many ways to do a spiritual cleanse but I will share the ones I'am most familiar with:

1. Holy Water: if you want to use this as a spiritual cleanse you would need to get it from a Catholic Priest. Holy water has the virtue of God placed within it. This is done when a priest does an exorcism of any negative influences in the tap water and table salt. The two are combined and then consecrated. A small vial of holy water can be carried and used as protection against negativity or psychic attacks.

2. Sea Water: sea water is known for its ability to absorb negative energy that is why it is often used to cleanse the crystals used in Chakra healings. There are two ways to use sea water to rid negative energy. Taking in bath in sea water or mopping your floors with sea water. This is a great way to do a spiritual cleanse if you live close to the ocean.

3. Eggs: this is a spiritual cleansing I'm very familiar with. In my husbands culture (mexican) they use eggs to do spiritual cleansing on babies. If a baby is inconsolable you take an egg, pray over it and then roll it around on the babies tummy. Crack the egg open into a glass and if it is tinged with blood it is said that you the negative vibrations were removed. For adults you roll the egg around on your neck and shoulder blades, you can break the egg open over the toilet at flush it to get rid of the negativity.

4. Smudging: this is a native american way of doing a spiritual cleanse. In smudging you burn sacred herbs. This helps clear negative energy around your body or in an entire room. Place some sage in a conch shell or other non-flamable container, light the sage and let it smolder. As the smoke rises wave the smoke near your body and breath it in or wave it around your room to clear the negative vibrations. Traditionally a bird feather is used to wave the smoke around but you can use your hand. I find this the most useful way to do a cleanse.

5. Meditating: meditation has become the most popular way to do a spiritual cleanse today. It doesn't wash away negative vibrations like the four above do, instead it is known as an energy healer. You sit alone in a room, soft music playing, candle lit. You rest your hands at your sides, let your eyes fall slightly closed as you gaze into the candle flame. As your eyes fix on the flickering light you let all your thoughts float away, resting your mind for at least 10 minutes. Meditation is known for its ability rejuvinate the soul. Hence, its popularity.

If you know of any additional ways to do a spiritual cleanse or if you try any of the above, please share your experience.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Joanna from the Soap Bar & Product Body found a supplier of sustainable palm oil. She posted a link in the comment section of the post below this one. Here is what she said:
7 lbs for $18. Can't argue with that price and have it be sustainable palm oil!

Thank you Joanna!


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Despite a number of high-profile commitments to increase the use of sustainable palm oil, only one per cent of the sustainably certified palm oil available on the market today has been bought, according to figures released today by the WWF.

Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) has been available since November 2008 and provides assurance that tropical forests have not been cleared during its production. But many retailers are shunning palm oil from sustainably certified plantations as it is up to EUR60 a tonne more expensive - a premium of over 10 per cent on uncertified palm oil.

In a bid to boost demand for certified palm oil, WWF announced today that it will assess the world's major users of palm oil over the next six months and publish a Palm Oil Buyer's Scorecard highlighting those companies that support sustainable palm oil and exposing those that have not fulfilled their commitments to source the oil from environmentally sustainable plantations.

Rodney Taylor, director of WWF International's Forests Programme, said that to date only 15,000 of the 1.3 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil available has been sold.

"This sluggish demand from palm oil buyers, such as supermarkets, food and cosmetic manufacturers, could undermine the success of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and threatens the remaining natural tropical forests of Southeast Asia, as well as other forests where oil palm is set to expand, such as the Amazon," he said


UPDATE (another report states) Only 2% of the the worlds palm oil is certified by the RSPO as sustainable, estimated to be 4% by the end of 2009. It may not be possible to find a supplier for handmade products this early.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


It doesn't help that I have 2 gallons of palm oil sitting in my soap kitchen. Everytime I read anything about Palm oil and the environment I get this urge to go and dump it all. Not such a bright idea considering I've already bought it and contributed to this mess. *sigh

I came across this informative pdf on another site showing how the harvesting of palm oil is affecting the environment and animals. The visuals are very helpful in making this issue touch the soul.


At the bottom of the file you will see a section that gives the address of companies that sell palm oil. You can write those companies and request that they get their oil from "non-destructive" sources (of course you have to threaten as a soapmaker you will never buy their product again if they don't do what you are asking).

This really doesn't mean it is an end to Palm Oil for those who really love to use it. It means we need to insist that it is grown and harvested in a more ecologically sound manner. If your supplier doesn't buy from a manufacturer of sustainable palm oil then insist they do before buying from them again in the future.

Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil Members

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I recently learned that a pipeline crossing Minnesota from Alberta Canada to Wisconsin is suppose to be put in this summer. This is EXTREMELY frustrating for those of us who believe we need to turn away from our dependency on oil and move in the direction of more renewable energy. What is wrong with a society when it continues to hold onto the old knowing that it isn't the best thing for us?? We are delaying the inevitable every moment we cling to our dependency on oil.

I'm not sure how Minnesotans will stop the Enbridge pipeline from being placed in our own state but if we stop tar sand oil production there won't be any use for pipelines in North America. Here are several petitions to stop tar sand oil production in Canada. If you care about this issue I urge your to sign now:

Sierra Club Petition to Stop Pipeline/tar sand oil production

NRDC Petition to stop pipeline/tar sand oil production

CARE 2 petition to stop pipeline/tar sand oil production

What tar sand production is responsible for:

Tar sands oil development creates open pit mines, habitat fragmentation, toxic waste holding ponds, air and water pollution, upgraders and refineries, and pipelines spreading far beyond the Boreal forest. This development is destroying habitat for waterfowl and songbirds that come from all over the Americas to nest in the Boreal. Each year between 22 million and 170 million birds breed in the 35 million acres of Boreal forest that could eventually be developed for tar sands oil.

Faced with tar sands development, migrating birds don't just move elsewhere since they depend on a certain type of habitat. Not only do many adult birds die when faced with lost and fragmented habitat and ponds of mining waste, but future generations of birds will have lost their chance to exist. (NRDC)

Tar sand oil production affects wildlife, water, people, etc... To learn the facts visit: OIL and TRUTH

Thursday, May 7, 2009


If you haven't heard of dry brushing I really suggest you try it out. I've been dry brushing since my early 20's and it really does wonders for the skin. Not only do I notice improvement in my circulation but it makes my skin feel silky smooth. I find it best to do in the morning before my shower since it gives me that "wake up" feeling.

What is dry brushing?
Dry Brushing is a form of massage, exfoliation and detoxification.

Why do it?
Our skin is the largest organ of our body. Dry brushing removes dead skin cells and helps to stimulate new cell growth. It helps remove toxins from the skin which can help eliminate or prevent cellulite on the legs and hips. It helps clean the lymphatic system which creates a stronger immune system.

How is it done?
You use a dry natural bristle brush (always use natural because synthetic can be too harsh for the skin).

Just before you enter your shower take your brush and using smooth strokes start at your feet. Always stroke in the direction of your heart. You can start at the soles of your feet first, then the tops of your feet. Move up to the front of your legs, then back of your legs, etc... You will do every part of your body except your face since the skin on your face is very delicate and could be damaged easily. When doing your breast be careful for the sensitive areas.

This routine should take less than 5 minutes.

Following dry brushing and showering you could rub jojoba or almond oil all over your skin.

Wash your brush with soap and water at least once per week.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


On Saturday I was really fortunate to sneak in some time at the Living Green Expo. This years goal was to find a local beekeeper where I could start getting my beeswax from. While I was there I picked up the LivGreen Magazine and they had some really fun recipes for children inside. Since I probably can't copy word for word what they have in the magazine I decided to search on the net for the equivalent.

Handmade Play Dough:

1 cup salt

2 cups flour

4 tablespoons cream of tartar

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 cups of water

food colouring


1. Mix all ingredients in the saucepan.

2. Cook on medium heat for three to five minutes, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes stiff.

Store in an airtight container (or a plastic bag) in the refrigerator. If stored this way the playdough will last for weeks, even a few months!


Solution A: 1 1/2 C. Warm Water 2 c. Elmers Glue Food Coloring Solution B: 4 tsp. Borax 1 1/3 C. Warm water Mix solution A in one bowl, mix solution B in another bowl. Dissolve both well. Then just pour solution A into solution B, DO NOT MIX OR STIR! Just lift out flubber. I made this with my daughters class, and the teacher & children loved it! It's neater than "Gak" or "slime". And it also a safe chemical reaction for the kids to see. I used a glass bowl for solution B so the kids could see the flubber form in the bowl. It just becomes a big "cloud" of rubbery stuff. Store in baggies. If you half the recipe, you only need to half the solution A and it will work the same.


1/2 cup vinegar
4 packets of unflavored gelatin
1 tsp peppermint extract

Bring vinegar to a boil. Add gelatin, reduce heat to low. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and add flavoring. Yields 1/2 cup.

To make stickers:
Brush on the back of your sticker page and let dry. Then lick and stick!

Finger Paint:

3 cups water
1 cup cornstarch
food coloring


In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Dissolve cornstarch in a separate bowl with water. Remove boiling water from heat and add cornstarch mixture. Return to heat, stirring constantly. Boil until the mixture is clear and thick (about 1 minute). Remove from heat.

As the mixture is cooling, divide into separate bowls and add food coloring. Let the children carefully mix in the coloring.


Add 1 tbsp of glycerin to make the mixture shiny. You can find glycerin in most drugstores or pharmacies.

Funny Putty:

1 tablespoon liquid starch (found in the laundry aisle)
Food coloring
2 tablespoons white glue
Plastic Easter egg or zip bag

How to make this recipe:
1. Mix white glue and food coloring together in a glass bowl.
2. Pour liquid starch into a second glass bowl. Slowly pour the glue mixture on top of the the liquid starch.

3. Allow the the concoction to stand for 5 minutes, or until the glue absorbs the liquid starch.

4. Remove putty from bowl and knead. (At first the mixture may look as if it's a mistake -- but it isn't. The more you knead the putty, the better the consistency will be.)

5. Store funny putty in the plastic Easter egg or a zip bag.
Notes: Ideas: Press funny putty down on newspaper comics or pictures printed with an ink jet pritner. Slowly pull the funny putty off of the paper: the picture will transfer magaically onto the putty. You can also roll your funny putty into a ball and bounce it!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Years ago, after learning about the benefits of Reiki from a woman sitting next to me at a Tibetan Film Festival in Minneapolis, I decided to become a practitioner. It took be several years to actually commit to doing it but I recently found the right teacher and have since taken my journey into the wonderful world of Reiki very seriously.

After Attunement One, and although I liked the first woman I worked with, I began my quest for a new instructor. For me to feel completely at ease with someone, be it a teacher or friend, I have to connect with that person in a spiritual way. Fortunately, I found that person in Susan Aguirre. Susan is genuinely a kind hearted person. She describes herself as an intuitive, and for those who've met her, they would certainly agree. I nearly fainted when I handed her a piece of my mothers jewelry and she told me how long my mom had been dead and what type of person my mother was. How could she know that after only knowing me for 30 minutes? There are very few people that can touch our souls in life and Susan is one of those people. I have complete faith in her abilities and tonight she has volunteered to come do Reiki for my sister.

My sister was recently diagnosed with pancreatitis and gallstones, both of which cause severe pain. Surgery is not an easy solution for my sister. She's high risk for possible complications following any surgical procedure. Susan is coming to see if she can help relieve some of her pain naturally, using her energy and mine.

For those who haven't heard of Reiki or you don't know how it works:
Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy. (

I've known people who've used Reiki to relieve anxiety and pain with immediate results. I use Reiki on myself to ease the pain of osteoarthritis in my hands and to help me sleep at night. My baby says to me "Mama Reiki" and takes my hand and places it on her belly. Obviously something very comforting to her. I recently had a woman tell me that before she had brain surgery she was in tears feeling extreme worry and anxiety. The hospital provided Reiki as a stress reduction method and she figured she had nothing to lose by trying it. To her surprise, and she seriously was surprise considering she didn't believe "laying on of hands" could be of any benefit, her fear dissipated and she felt more prepared for surgery. Because of the proven benefits of Reiki, hospitals around the nation are now offering it to patients as a way of reducing stress and helping speed up the healing process.

If you are interested in Reiki and how it may help you, following is a list of some things you can use Reiki for:

Pain reduction
Emotional Problems (anxiety, depression, etc...)
Panic attacks
Healing from illnesses or surgery (strengthens immune system)
Lowers blood pressure
Helps induce sleep
Spiritual growth
Slows the aging process
Strengthens energy flow

Reiki isn't only beneficial to humans, animals benefit from it also. Some actually crave it. Cats seem to spot a Reiki practitioner from across the room and gravitate towards that person.

The best part about Reiki is the ability to send energy healing across the miles to those who need it most.

So, if you haven't tried Reiki I encourage you to give it a try. Who knows, maybe you'll become a Reiki practitioner some day :)