Wednesday, November 4, 2009

SOAP: LIQUID vs. BAR

Yuck, who would want to use bar soap? They are full of germs. It isn't as clean as using liquid soap! I'm not risking my health, sorry."


A friend actually said this to me once when I tried to give her a bar of soap. She asked "what would I do with it, I can't use it to clean my hands or my body."

After that experience and of course realizing that so many people prefer liquid over bar, I started thinking about why most people turned away from bar soap and instead reach for the commercial liquid soap. Is it the convenience of the pump bottle? Is it seriously because more germs hang around on a bar of soap as oppose to the bottle of liquid soap? Numerous questions abound. But... what are the facts?

Here are the top reasons I've found that make people choose liquid soap over bar soap:

Myth: There isn't any lather in a bar of soap.
Fact: Detergent bars (those bars masquerading as soap) - you know them... ahem - DOVE, cough cough - OIL OF OLAY), can have a limited amount of suds. But they aren't real soap. That is why they don't have the word "SOAP" printed on their packaging. Real soap, those made from handmade soapmakers can have anywhere from very little suds to a massive amount of suds. I create a bar for my kids that I wrap in a muslin bag, hang below the faucet while running a bath, and it fills the entire tub with suds for a great bubble bath.

Myth: You feel cleaner after using liquid soap. Bar soap leaves a residue behind.
Fact: I've never heard anyone complain about feeling dirty after using handmade soap. One of the greatest benefits of using natural handmade soap is having healthy oils like olive, coconut, almond, avocado, etc... on your skin. Sometimes with the added benefit of herbs and essential oils. It is true that detergent bars leave an uncomfortable residue but that is because of the chemical ingredients they use to make the bar hard, to preserve and bind it. A healthy natural bar of soap won't leave a sticky residue on your skin. It will feed your skin.

Myth: The price of liquid soap is much better than that of a bar soap.
Fact: It depends on how one would measure "price." If price is solely determined by your pocket book, than yes, I'm sure it costs less to buy a bottle of liquid soap. Most liquid soaps cost anywhere from $2.50 - $5.00 depending on their size and manufacturer. A bar of soap generally costs between $3 and $7 a bar (depending on weight and the soapmaker). I don't measure price by cost, I measure price by health and environment. Our environment pays a hefty price for all the plastic liquid soap bottles we toss into the landfills. Sure you can buy a giant refill bottle but you will eventually toss that and toss the broken down pump bottle, but a bar of soap will get used and leave nothing behind. Liquid commercial soaps also have quite a bit of chemicals in them that can be absorbed through the skin and potentially harm your health.

Myth: Bar soaps are loaded with germs. You couldn't use the same soap for all family members like you can liquid soaps.
Fact: According to a 1988 study, prewashed and softened commercial soap bars were inoculated with E. coli and P. aeruginosa bacteria at 70 times as high as those reported on used soap bars, 16 people washed their hands with the inoculated bars.

“After washing, none of the 16 panelists had detectable levels of either test bacterium on their hands,” the researchers wrote. “These findings, along with other published reports, show that little hazard exists in routine handwashing with previously used soap bars and support the frequent use of soap and water for handwashing.”


To my friend I say this. Don't be fooled by marketing gimicks. The main reasons liquid soaps became so popular, beginning in the 70's, was because of their appearance. They didn't dissolve the way bar soaps do, but instead came in pretty appealing bottles. Those pretty liquid handsoap bottles soon became liquid body soap bottles. In later years the selling point was "antibacterial" and it worked. Triclosan is the most widely used anti bacterial ingredient in liquid hand soaps, which by the way has a hazard score of 7 on the cosmetic safety database site, with 10 being the worst. We've now heard that the over use of antibacterial products kills healthy germs with bad germs. In short, we've become victims of mass marketing.

Sure, we all need to market what we are selling, but shouldn't our marketing be honest? I believe a bar of soap can sell itself if people take the time to really learn how wonderful it is. Don't be afraid to ask what ingredients are in the handmade soap you'd like to buy, you will be able to read and understand what is on the label, unlike with commercial products. A bar of soap is a luxury for the skin and great for the environment... can a commercial liquid soap honestly state that?

One last thought: if you just can't seem to part with your liquid soap at least go natural. There are great all natural liquid soaps available.

Interesting reading:

ARTICLE 1
ARTICLE 2

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK


Although I'm sure this post will cause some controversy I still feel I must share it. Besides, I'm not one to shy away from controversy. LOL!

In 2000 my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had the cancer for a year, a lump in her breast, but didn't mention it to anyone. Literally a year from the date she first found the lump the cancer errupted through the breast and came out of the body. It was then that I learned of her cancer and begged her to seek treatment. She sought treatment and after 8 months of battling, she won. She didn't die until 2007.

Shortly after my mothers successful battle with breast cancer she showed me an article she had, not sure where it came from, about how the brochure the hospital staff at the breast center had given her showing all the wonderful things she could buy to help deal with the effects of chemotherapy actually contained items that caused cancer. Not only that, many of the companies contributing to cancer research were actually profiting off those who had cancer. I remember not being too surprised since much of the article had targeted chemicals in cosmetics and how the American Cancer Association would push specific products through advertisement on cancer patients, all in the name of making the patient feel better. Somehow I managed to shut this all out of my mind and move on.

Recently it has come to my attention again since a dear friend is taking care of her aunt who is battling cancer. She called and asked if I had heard about the controversy related to cancer research, something she had just learned. Since I hung up the phone with her I decided to share what I know about this with the blogging world since I'd want to be told if I wasn't aware.

The gist of it all:
"The Cancer Industry consists of corporations, organizations and agencies that diminish or mask the extent of the cancer problem, fail to protect our health, or divert attention away from the importance of finding the causes of breast cancer and working to prevent the disease. This includes drug companies that, in addition to profiting off cancer treatment drugs, sometimes also produce toxic chemicals that may be contributing to the high rates of cancer in this country and increasing rates throughout the world. It also includes the polluting industries that continue to release substances we know or suspect are dangerous to our health, and the public relations firms and public agencies who protect these polluters. The Cancer Industry includes organizations like the American Cancer Society, that downplay the risk of cancer from pesticides and other environmental factors, and who historically have refused to take a stand on environmental regulation."
READ MORE FACTS HERE

THINK BEFORE YOU GO PINK which is part of THE BREAST CANCER ACTION GROUP is trying to shed light on this issue.

It reminds me of when I learned that my products were actually tested on animals and the awful things the lab tech's would do to those innocent creatures. You feel like it is too horrific to be true but deep down you know there is no denying it.

"During the month of October, pink ribbons everywhere remind us to race, drive, cook and shop for the cure. But where did the pink ribbon come from?

In the early 1990s, 68-year-old Charlotte Haley began making peach ribbons by hand in her home. Her daughter, sister and grandmother all had breast cancer. She distributed thousands of ribbons at supermarkets with cards that read: “The National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”

As the word spread, executives from Estée Lauder and Self magazine asked Haley for permission to use her ribbon. Haley refused, and Self magazine was startled by Haley's answer. “She wanted nothing to do with us. Said we were too commercial.” But they really wanted to have her ribbon. They consulted their lawyers and were advised to come up with another color. They chose pink, a color that focus groups say is ‘soothing, comforting and healing’—everything breast cancer is not. Soon Charlotte Haley’s grassroots peach ribbon was history, and the pink ribbon became the worldwide symbol for breast cancer.

Breast cancer has become the darling of corporate America. Companies use the pink ribbon to sell their products and boost their image with consumers as they boost their bottom line. Meanwhile, breast cancer rates continue to rise every year. Ending the breast cancer epidemic will take more than just pink ribbons and awareness. Learn more about pink ribbon marketing and what you can do to help create real change to end the breast cancer epidemic."


I urge you to read on, take from it what you will. I'm grateful that this information is becoming more widely spread and those with cancer and their loved ones are being informed.

I'll end with this case in point:
(during breast cancer awareness month 2009) In the Pink for a Cure Collection, 15% of your purchase of authentic designer perfumes by Ralph Lauren, Kathy Hilton and others goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Save on your order with FragranceNet coupons.

When you crave the alluring scents of Burberry, Lacoste or Valentino, shop at Perfume.com and feel good about it as you're supporting a great cause

Fabulous Savings

Saturday, October 17, 2009

CHRISTMAS IN OCTOBER

It feels like Christmas anyway. I bought my first soap stamp and with the snow outside recently, it almost feels like Christmas. Especially since I felt like a kid on Christmas morning opening up my goody box with my soap stamp inside. I purchased my stamp from Soap Impressions and I think they did a really great job. The stamp is excellent quality, the base being solid wood and the impression made of metal. I'm pleased. What do you think? Diane from Soap Impressions provided excellent, fast customer service. I'd definitely do business with them again.

Here it is:



The other half of Christmas in October would be my holiday cards. If I don't make Christmas cards in October they never get made. Anyone else face that issue? Below are the cards my friend Angie and I made at a Christmas Stamp-A-Stack class this week. It was lots of fun. The Stampin Up demo hosting the class is very creative, I love the cards we made. Here are the 5 designs she came up with:






Wednesday, October 7, 2009

ALL YOU HALLOWEENIES, I NEED YOUR IDEAS


Autumn is my favorite time of year and Halloween/Samhain is my favorite holiday (if it can be called a holiday). We are looking for some fun ways to celebrate Samhain this year and I'm hoping my bloggy friends can help.

Of course our family always carves pumpkins. The kids usually go to a couple events before Halloween night. I'd like to make the holiday stretch as far as possible this year, maybe do something each day leading up to it. So if anyone has any fun, cool ideas that they would like to share, maybe something your family does each year, I'd sure appreciate it if you shared it with me. Please, please, please post any and all projects, crafts, traditions, etc... in the comment section :) If you post something, I promise to do it, take pictures, and share it with you shortly after Halloween!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

HERBS OR SLEEPING PILLS, YOU BE THE JUDGE


Although I could talk about every single tincture I make, I don't want to over saturate your mind with this herbal hoopla. Once you learn about tinctures you pretty much know what you need to know, but I must share a little about lemon balm for those of you who suffer from insomnia.

One confession, I'm not a good sleeper. Never have been, never will be. Sure, I can get a good night sleep now and then but more often than not I don't sleep through the night (not sure if any mothers actually do). If I want to get a good nights rest I usually need some type of sleep aid. I was once medicated, years ago, to sleep through the night, but have chosen to avoid those types of treatments. Instead of being medicated I chose to not sleep. By a total fluke I drank a tea that helped me get a restful nights sleep and initially I didn't realize it was the tea but once I noticed the correlation between drinking the tea and sleeping I started to investigate a little further.

The tea was lemon balm. Depending on the literature you are reading, lemon balm may or may not be affective at promoting sleep. I can attest that it does act as a sedative, as some literature suggests. I learned the affects of lemon balm before I ever read about it.

Lemon balm is wonderful for many things, including: promoting conception, for painful menstruation, hot flashes in menopause, burns, blisters, anxiety, nausea and vomiting and panic attacks (plus much more).

I use it solely to help anxiety and to promote sleep.

Depending on where you get the tea, it may or may not work. My herbal studies have taught me that not all these medicinal plants are created equal, all depends on where they are grown, what species of plant they are, condition of soil, etc... To make sure I have the best lemon balm I grow my own. I know the soil, how well I've cared for the herb, whether or not it is stressed or healthy. I have two beautiful bushes that are thriving well in my backyard.

I thought that the herbal tea was the best thing that ever happened to me but I recently learned that the tincture will do me much better than the tea. Dried herbs tend to lose much of their potency so I've been advised to make a lemon balm tincture, giving myself 5 drops (under the tongue) when I'm anxious or before sleep. I've decided I will do the same before meditation.

So many people have trouble relaxing or sleeping, especially women, so for anyone looking for a natural sedative, lemon balm is great! As with all herbs or medicinal plants, please read up on the dangers associated with the plant and whether or not you have any medical conditions that make the plant inadvisable for you. People with hypothyroidism should avoid lemon balm.

Tincture:
Gather enough lemon balm leaves to fill your jar.
Pack the jar well, leaving a 1/2 inch space form the top of jar.
Fill the jar with 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (I use 80 proof vodka)
It will probably bubble a bit as it settles in the jar so you'll need to add more.
Make sure you cover all the leaves with vodka, leaving none sticking out.
Fill to the top of jar and cover with tight fitting lid.
Label with date & herb name.

Susan Weed suggests 6 weeks for all tinctures. I tend to think she's the gospel on herbal meds so I trust her judgement.

MATTHEW WOOD one of Minnesota's wonderful herbalists, has some good information about lemon balm on his site. Click on his name to read more.

Here is a great video from learningherbs.com/mountain rose herbs on making a tincture. They are using another great sedative plant called valerian.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

WORRIED ABOUT THE FLU? TRY ELDERBERRY

I'm not a proponent of vaccines so you won't see me and my family lining up for the H1N1 shot. I do however believe in herbal medicine. When your family has used herbal cures for centuries and passes along the positive benefits, you tend to listen. My great grandfather was blind until a native woman healed his site with crushed herbs. Now that is something I can't ignore.

I always incorporate herbs and essential oils into my body products, been self taught on EO's for years but recently I decided to take my education on their usage a little more seriously. I enrolled in herbal and aromatherapy studies beginning next week. I've also just begun taking classes with Lise Wolff, a local registered herbalist.

My goal is twofold. I want to be able to treat my family holistically, whenever possible, and I want to further my understanding of the things I use in my products.

My class with Lise this weekend was about learning to make an elderberry tincture and identifying medicinal plants in the wild. THE VERDICT: I learned much more than I had anticipated.

I knew how to make a tincture but didn't really understand the science behind it all but Lise was great at explaining everything. The reason I chose the use of elderberry as my first class is because of that "looming" threat of the H1N1 flu. My first reaction was to ignore all the reports about H1N1 because I think it is overhyped but then worry set in. I figure, I must at least protect my children.

Elderberry has been scientifically proven by Israeli researcher Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu, Ph.D, of Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center to help prevent the flu and also lessen the duration.

Here are a few articles if you are interested in the studies on elderberry:
WebMD

Israeli Research

Ice News

Blackberry.com

To make an elderberry tincture you must first gather the berries



2nd, you would carefully pull the berries off the bush and place into a bowl or directly into a jar (whatever you wish). I say carefully because although the berries are little they are full of dark purple staining juices. My fingers were purple the entire day.





3rd, if you didn't put them directly into a jar you should pour them into one. (Use glass not plastic)

4th, pour vodka into the jar until it covers the tops of your berries. You don't want much air between the top of your berries and the lid of the jar. Use 60 proof or higher edible alcohol (for preservation). I used vodka.



5th, Cover with a tight fitting lid, label it (name of plant/berry used and date you made it) and let your tincture sit on a shelf for 6 weeks (no need to shake it in between). In 6 weeks you strain it into a bottle and then fill your dropper bottle with the amount you will need. I purchased a 4 oz dropper bottle for my family (and will refill when it runs out).

Our family will be using drops of this tincture under the tongue. Hubby and I plan on using 3-5 drops 2x's a day for ourselves and 2 drops 2x's a day for the kids.

Next... lemon balm tincture :)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I FEEL PRODUCTIVE

I rarely feel like I get anything done. I keep doing and doing and doing but have nothing to show for it. No, this isn't a whine fest, just seriously feel like I get nothing done. LOL!

Well, we harvested our veggies the other day and I must ask my domestic blogging friends a little question. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO MY HARVEST???

My onions were suppose to get big but they didn't. The largest was probably golf ball size and my celery is huge (length wise) but the stalks are super skinny.

I'm no master gardner but I do believe I did everything right. We have clay soil so to make it worthy of a veggie garden we built ourselves, with untreated cedar wood, a little garden bed. We put in organic soil, fertilizer and some other thing to make the soil breath (sorry, the name escapes me). Our tomatoes and strawberries came out fine, our cucumbers ripened very fast and were big enough for the jolly green giant to eat, but something went wrong with the onions and celery.




I do have a proud moment to share. My youngest child Aiyana is very much into fairies right now. I decided to make her a little fairy bag with fairy goodies inside (buttons, thimble, miniature trinkets, etc...) Not a unique idea in the least but one I knew would make her happy.

Um, since I no martha stewart or whatever I knew I'd have to find a tutorial for the bag. Can I sew? Sure, I know the basics. I know how to thread a bobbin, thread a sewing machine, push the pedal and do a basic stitch. Do I know sewing terminology? Not at all. Can I follow visual instructions? Absolutely.

I was fortunate enough to find this lined bag tutorial by HAPPY THINGS on the internet. I knew how to do a basic bag but had no clue how to line it so this tutorial was perfect. I hit a snag along the way but emailed the author of HAPPY THINGS begging for help, she responded right away, and I was able to finish my bag.

Here it is:





Don't worry, you can be honest. What do you think? It is my very first lined drawstring bag. I had a little issue on the casting, thread bunched up and all that baloney, but I blame the sewing machine and not myself. LOL! I'm just happy that baby Yana is happy. That makes it all perfect!