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