Monday, June 28, 2010


There was a great soap swap on the facebook group we "heart" soap recently, the theme was "all natural" and this is what I received.

I must say, some very talented soapers in this bunch. Lots of lovely soaps and other goodies. I feel lucky to have participated and received such wonderful things.

I didn't take them out of their packages yet, which maybe I should have so you could see how beautiful they are. I apologize to those whose pictures are somewhat blurry. I was rushing =( I'm not sure whose is whose on the rosemary mint and kaui sunrise since they didn't have names on them. I will take a guess, if I made a mistake please correct me and I will fix it.

These were the ladies in my group:

Natalie (Koinonia Community)

Sharon (Platypus Dreams)

Amber (Amber's Ambry)

Heidi (Soapaholics Anonymous)

Erica (Bonnie Bath)

Joanne (Cliff Island Soapworks)

Elizabeth (Gassner Custom Soaps)

I also received this really cute mold from Elizabeth Gassner of Gassner Custom Soaps. I'm so happy because this is the mold I always wanted. Now that I have my very own bees this mold will come in handy for many things. Thank you Elizabeth (I had to put it next to a pink shirt so it was visible. LOL!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I've decided that every Friday, starting on July 2, 2010 I will make a batch of soap using an all natural colorant and share the results on here. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Robert Tisserand says "cold-pressed citrus oils like bergamot contain about 1 ppm of DEHP, because it leaches out of plastic tubing used in the extraction process". From Nature with Love says "citrus seed extracts are not all-natural preservatives. They are chemically derived from the seeds of citrus fruits." Who knew right?!

Isn't GSE suppose to be the natural preservative alternative to the synthetic? Aren't essential oils suppose to be the natural scenting alternative to fragrance oils?

I talk to my husband about my vision for an all natural existence and he reminds me of the air we breath. "It isn't pure" he says, "you know it is laden with chemicals no matter where you go". I had to remind him that although it may appear at times that I'm oblivious to the fact that synthetic chemicals surround us, I assured him I am not.

Not long after the discussion with my husband a friend asked me what I would do after ridding as many synthetic chemicals from my life as humanly possible if I were to get cancer. Would I be angry at all the work I put into keeping synthetics out of my kitchen, out of my body products, out of my life. At first, I didn't know exactly how to answer. Would I be angry? Would I feel like all this effort was for nothing? I actually had to soul search on that one a little bit and maybe I still am.

One thing I learned about myself from my friends question is that I don't rid synthetics from my life so that I can live. I've exposed myself to synthetics by naivete (the lotions, the perfumes, the cleaning supplies etc...) and by no fault of my own (afterall, I can't change the air I breath right!?!). I won't undo what is already done and for the most part cannot undo what exists around me. My children now carry their own set of synthetic chemicals, many from birth that they inherited from me, and will accumulate more just by existing in this life. So, what am I doing it all for?

To be able to live in a natural state is the earths gift to us, at least it once was. We had everything we needed right here on our planet to live day to day without complication. Animals, berries and nuts for food and plants for medication. Somewhere along the way we became a society obsessed with development and accumulation. We turned natural into artificial and called it progress. Today we are a society full of depressed, anxious, and physically unhealthy individuals. In 2005 the CDC released a report that showed 2.4 billion medications were given during doctor or hospital visits and 118 million of those were antidepressants, 113 million were for high blood pressure. Adult use of antidepressants tripled from 1988 to 2000, and those statistics are based only on those who seek help. As a whole Americans aren't happy or healthy. So again, why am I doing it?

I have three reasons:

1. Rebellion

First and foremost, I can't (un)know what is known. It isn't scare tactics from the media that make me leary of synthetics, it is history. The health of our nation, of the world. The evidence is right before us. Whole towns of people who are sick or dying because of air pollution or water contamination. Breast cancer has risen 80% in the United Kingdom since the 1970's, cases have doubled in Japan and Korea when they were known for having the least. You hear that increased nutrition is the cause of the rise in breast cancer. Increased nutrition??? Because our children eat better they reach puberty sooner and have later menopause which means an estrogen dependent breast cancer can form. Where is the logic in that? Maybe the increase in nutrition is actually an increase in exposure to pesticides that mimic estrogen. That sounds more plausible.

There is only one commonality that I see and that is synthetic chemicals. It is in our food, water, body products, and air. Those defending air will say it is the water, those defending water will say it is the food, those defending food with say it is the body products. You would think with this so-called "healthy" society of "wanna be fit and eat rights" we'd all be doing much better but we aren't. We aren't because it is everywhere. It is estimated that 81,100,000 people had one form or another of cardiovascular disease in 2006. 831,272 people died of heart disease in 2006. Sixteen million Americans are said to have a Thyroid disease which is an endocrine disorder and 40% of those cases are caused by Graves disease (an autoimmune disorder).

I have found it interesting that woman are more likely than men to suffer Graves disease (7x's more) or Thyroid disease, heart disease and of course breast cancer. It was reported by Bionsen (based on their study) that "women, on average, expose their face and body to 515 chemicals in the form of beauty products every single day." Think about that. Shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, lotion, shaving gel, lip stick, foundation, eye shadow, blush, eye liner, mascara, hair gel or hair spray, perfume. If it was just in the air, in the water and in the food, why are women at the top of the list for getting hormonal disorders, cancers and heart disease? Women are also more likely to suffer depression.

So the first answer is rebellion. I am rebelling against the synthetic industry. It is killing us, there is no doubt in my mind and I won't pay them to kill me or my offspring. They can release all the studies they want to convince the public their products aren't dangerous, but my instincts, which have never failed me before, are telling me this is the problem.

2. The future health of my children and grandchildren

I can't take away what my children have already been exposed to but I can partially choose what they will be exposed to in the present and the future. When they grow up they can choose for themselves but hopefully I'll have instilled some of my values in them and they will pass it on to their children and so forth, maybe leading to a better, healthier, future.

3. My Health

My health is really the least of my worries but it is still a concern. I'm not going to fill myself full of things I know will contribute to my death. So this is where the "all natural" part comes in.

Is there such a thing as all natural? We consider our herbs natural but are they really when they contain herbicide run-off from the neighbors property? We consider our honey natural if we are beekeepers but is it really considering our bees picked up pesticides while foraging and bring it back to the hive? (sorry people, there isn't anything such as organic honey). Numerous natural ingredients became available to those of us in the body product industry ONLY after being chemically extracted and those chemicals can remain (as noted by Robert Tisserand and From Nature with Love) in the final product. Is it no longer natural then?

What we call natural today is NOT what our ancestors would have called natural so does that mean we can't find safe products for ourselves or use the term on our label? Maybe the Jennifer from the Smart Mama was right when she said to pay attention to labeling. Don't call something "all natural" if any component is synthetic. Don't call something "chemical free" because even water is a chemical. I'm thinking I'll label my products "natural as can possibly be" and see how well that goes over. As for what to use in my own house. I make what I can and when I have to buy it I look for the food with the least amount of pesticides and the product with the least synthetic ingredients (within my price range of course).


June 24 I upgraded to 3 hive bodies. I know I did it prematurely. We had about 7 full frames of honey and brood and I was suppose to wait til there were 8 full frames but I was sensing that they were feeling stuffed in there. Call me crazy but it was a mothers instinct. LOL! I removed the cork from the 2nd hive body and removed the entrance reducer and they are no longer clustering outside the hive in the evenings or in the day (as they were doing previously). They haven't adjusted to using the 2nd hive body entrance though. I watch and see no bees coming and going from that entrance. Maybe they need time to get use to it or they hate me for giving them too much room and they are punishing me once again by not following the beekeeping instruction manual.

Friday, June 25, 2010


We recently took a small trip to the North Shore of Minnesota. Always a beautiful location to spend time in with the family.

This year we rented some Trikes for Life and it was well worth it. If anyone is ever up in the Two Harbors area, check out Bob's trikes and you'll have a great bike ride along Lake Superior. It is really wonderful way to experience nature in the North Woods. Very relaxing yet challenging at the same time. We even rode the last stretch in the rain and we loved it!

We spent most of our time hanging out at the cabin and playing on the shore of Lake Superior. We also went to the falls by Gooseberry state park. Here are the girls enjoying themselves:

I managed to finally make some strawberry jam. It wasn't as difficult as I thought. Turned out to be quite easy. I followed this VIDEO , although I did use more berries than she suggested and I also didn't end up with a lot of foam at the end like she did. My jam turned out great! I did learn one valuable lesson though. It sure takes a lot of berries to make one jar of jam so I will definitely be planting many more strawberries in my backyard. I really enjoyed it and so I plan on doing pickles next.

The last thing I want to share is a little gift sent by a childhood friend that I reconnected with on facebook some time ago. She has the best memory!! I was a collector of E.T & Smurf figurines when I was around 10 yrs old and so my friend, Athena, sent my kids these little chocolate eggs that contained mini smurf figurines. My two oldest know what smurfs are but my youngest doesn't, it makes me realize how far away the 80's actually are. But... Aiyana not knowing what they are loved them anyway and now maybe can start her own collection :)


Wednesday, June 23, 2010


After I posted that tid bit on micas, oxides and ultramarines not being natural I received a comment from Bubble Works that I wanted to respond to. Since my response was quite long (only a portion was written under the original topic) I thought I would dedicate an entire blog post to what I have to say on the subject of natural vs. synthetic ingredients in body products.

I don’t know if this was intentional or not by Bubble Works but it reads like it was. The post implies that those of us who promote natural over synthetic ingredients not only lack the education to be doing so but also that we are incapable of differentiating biased research from those based on credible evidence.

Bubble Works post quoted below:

“thats why I have 2 ranges - all natural with EOs and only Herbs and Spices and Clays for colour and "nearly natural", with FOs and Pigments. That way the consumer can chose. But on the point of synthetic being worse, it is a shame that you had an allergic reaction to Micas, but in this case synthetic is better than natural. Pigments and Oxides in nature are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons (natural, but still bad for you) which is the main reason they are now made synthetically, so they are pure and safe. And natural colours are very nice, but if someone is allergic to hibiscus it wont be so nice for them? Alkanet is another example. Very nice natural colourant and I love the way it changes and is unpredictable. It is currently under investigation in the EU and may be withdrawn from allowed cosmetic ingredients soon, I believe it already has been withdrawn in Germany. It's all natural, but looks like it may be causing cancer. There you argument is usually, Poison Ivy is natural, but you wouldn't want to rub it all over your body.” Bubble Works

So before I share my view on this, know this about me:

I’ve not only been making body products for a good part of two decades, I’ve been selling to the public for almost half that time. I learned very well how to do research when working towards my bachelors in psychology in the early 90’s. Although the use of essential oils and herbs may be new to those who have hopped on the handmade body product bandwagon in the past few years, they aren’t new to me. In fact, the use of some herbs as medicine and colorants goes back generations in my family (this includes North American and European herbs). I’ve also spend half my life collecting and reading books written on the use of essenial oils and herbs and the last 10 months I’ve been studying under professionals like Jodi Baglien (clinical essential oil therapist), Lise Wolff (registered herbalist), Matthew Alfs (clinical herbalist) and continue to do so.
With a portion of my educational background out there for my readers to digest and analyze I’ll say this about natural vs. synthetics in body products.


“But on the point of synthetic being worse, it is a shame that you had an allergic reaction to Micas, but in this case synthetic is better than natural. Pigments and Oxides in nature are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and other poisons (natural, but still bad for you) which is the main reason they are now made synthetically, so they are pure and safe”

The above quoted statement is absolutely FALSE. It may appear to be true because minerals contained harmful metals such as lead (remember, lead was once consider safe as well) but mica is anything but pure and safe when it contains synthetics that have their own associated hazards. But aside from the “safe and pure” rhetoric, bubble works is suggesting that synthetics are created because there is no safe alternative which is completely untrue. There is one main driving force behind the creation of synthetics and that is the cost factor. A good example is essential oils and fragrance oils. Fragrance oils weren’t created because they were “safer and purer” than essential oils, they were created because they were an affordable fragrance (as oppose to costly essential oils) and manufacturers lured the public with the variety of scents an FO offered. The synthetic is almost ALWAYS the cheaper alternative. When the public can “afford” a product, the manufacturers make more money. Supply + Demand! Don’t ever be mistaken, profits are high for those invested in synthetics. The following quote says it best:

“But the manufacturers of mass-produced cosmetics won’t use exclusively natural materials; they’re too expensive, and all-natural products are too unstable to withstand the long shelf lives they expect from their products. Most synthetic chemicals are used in cosmetics either because they’re cheaper or because they make some phase of mass-manufacturing or distribution possible.”

Synthetics also gave the industry the ability to provide products that lasted 3x’s as long and at a fraction of the cost as something entirely natural. All that was needed was to convince the public it was safe and you have yourself a billion dollar industry.

With the manufacturers of synthetics the research dollars are always saved for promotional purposes. You never hear about a study until they need to do damage control. Parabens are a good example. Study after study sponsored by those invested in parabens are being released now to convince the public of their safety. Where were these studies ‘pre” exposure to the public? All of the studies on parabens are CURRENT, not LONG-TERM, don’t involve examining “the cocktail affect” of absorbed chemicals and in the end prove to be nothing more than an industries way of keeping the public buying their product.

The main thing to remember about most synthetics in body products is that their usage has a fairly short history, going back no more than 2-4 decades. Ironically, their usage coincides with the rise of several cancers, learning disabilities, and hormonal disorders. As I’ve noted before on this blog, there are about 10,500 chemical ingredients used in personal care products in the U.S. And only 11% of them have been tested for safety. Unfortunately, most consumers aren’t aware of this but if they knew I’m positive they would care. It never hurts to avoid synthetics but it can hurt if you don’t.


In the quote from bubble works herbs are being addressed so I will focus on that.

“And natural colours are very nice, but if someone is allergic to hibiscus it wont be so nice for them? Alkanet is another example. Very nice natural colourant and I love the way it changes and is unpredictable. It is currently under investigation in the EU and may be withdrawn from allowed cosmetic ingredients soon, I believe it already has been withdrawn in Germany. It's all natural, but looks like it may be causing cancer. There you argument is usually, Poison Ivy is natural, but you wouldn't want to rub it all over your body.” Bubble Works

Yes, if someone is allergic it isn’t very nice for them. Just like the woman with the mica in the article I linked to. Anyway...

Herbs, unlike synthetic ingredients, have been around for thousands of years. We might as well say since the beginning of time. And again, unlike synthetics, their usage and level of safety is well documented (I call it "time-tested). How does one know that poison Ivy CAN cause a severe skin reaction? Because we have a long history of human exposure (BTW/not everyone is allergic to poison ivy, I’m not ).

First of all, anyone can be allergic to anything. An allergy can develop at anytime in a persons life, whether it be to food or something external (natural or synthetic). With that said, yes, herbs can be dangerous but only when used by uneducated individuals. Alkanet root (commonly known as Alkanna Tinctoria) used as a COLORANT does NOT CAUSE CANCER. There are some studies that suggest alkanet root can cause cancer if taken internally over LONG PERIODS of time and this is known by herbalists. There are no studies to suggest using alkanet as a colorant in soap or otherwise causes cancer. As a colorant it is NON-TOXIC!

Herbs and essential oils used topically can have a very different effect when used internally (doesn’t mean you stop using it externally). Just as with Alkanet root (first documented use as a colorant dating back to 300 b.c), there are others like Arnica, used topically for sprains and arthritis successfully (our family uses it and has for generations) but internally can be toxic. Essential oils, although absorbed into the skin and being very therapeutic can be something quite different if ingested. This is why you’d never swallow EO’s without being under medical supervision.

Are Botanical Ingredients safe?
In considering the safety of Botanical Ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products, it is important to consider the specific botanical material, the amount of the botanical in the raw material and finished product and the route of exposure. Most applications of Botanical Ingredients in cosmetics are topical; they are applied externally to the skin.

In selecting Botanical Ingredients for preparation of cosmetic products, formulators take into account the extensive history of their preparation and use. Plant materials have been used for decades or even centuries and, based upon the human experience with these botanical ingredients, knowledge of their safety has been gained. Manufacturers of cosmetic and personal care products are required by law to adequately substantiate the safety of their products, including products containing Botanical Ingredients. There are many different references that describe the isolation, use and safety of botanical preparations.

To each their own on what they choose to put in their products, whether it be synthetics, naturals or a combination of both. The fact is no one should be creating a product that contains and ingredient they don't know anything about. If you don't know where an ingredient comes from, how it was processed, and what it's safety record (really) is, then it shouldn't be in your formulation. I also had to learn this valuable lesson along the way and will make damn sure I live as I preach!

As for something being “nearly natural” - I’ve already shared my opinion about that under the Mica, Oxide post.

Alkanna Tinctoria
(Alkanet Root) EWG safety report

A little history of synthetics (vs. naturals)

A very interesting and informative book on the history of synthetics in cosmetics:
Inventing Beauty by Teresa Riordan

update:I was checking out burts bees and look what I found on their site:

Do your products contain artificial colors?
We use only natural colors in our personal care products and cosmetics. Some examples are beta-carotene, chlorophyll, titanium dioxide, mica, iron oxides and carmine. These natural colors have a long history of safe usage unlike many artificial colors that have been banned by the FDA over the years.

This is a good example of why people are no longer trusting labels.

As for the FDA banning artificial colors that aren't safe.

When I was a child I developed this chronic case of hives that it took doctors months to figure out the cause. At times the hives would be so troublesome that it almost felt like I had them on the inside. It turned out I was reacting to artificial coloring. Many years later when I became a mother my oldest daughter had the same issue. This time in the form of what "professionals" called ADHD. Once the artificial colorants were eliminated from her diet she became calm and more focussed. She went from struggling in school to finishing out each year of school with A's and B's. Does that sound like a safe colorant?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Although every beekeeper probably deals with this from time to time and knows exactly what it means and how to handle it, for me it means only one thing... MY BEES ARE GOING TO SWARM!

Everything looks great in the hive. I have capped brood, larva, the bees are coming and going with pollen (hopefully nectar too since I stole their syrup jar) and only 5frames in my 10 frame deep have been filled out (including one whole frame of honey).

Brood tells me that the queen is alive so I don't think this is a queen cell because they are queenless. What else could it mean but swarm time. I was reading that when you have long periods of wet and cold where the bees are unable to forage they tend to want to swarm. On top of that, I have carniolans and they are the swarmers of all swarmers.

I'm not 100% sure this is a queen cell as of yet since this would be my first viewing of anything remotely close but if it is, the next order of business is to find out what the heck I'm going to do to stop this swarming madness.

For those are are seeing this picture, I thought it was just comb. All along the bottom of the frames in the 2nd deep there is comb connecting itself to the frames on in the first deep. The difference with this, as you can kind of tell, is that it isn't on the very bottom of the frame but instead is on the side of it.