New twist

Time marches on, things change, kids grow up, our homes evolve, family scatters, but sometimes we can feel like we’re standing still while the world marches past, moving inexorably forward.  Shouting down the marchers does no good.

That was more or less how I felt for a while. Clicking along, merrily, perhaps a bit cocky and overly confident in the day-to-day workings I’d churn out online in formulations, label production, graphic design, blog posts, Instagram & Twitter moments then Bam! It all came to a screeching halt.

Windows 10 ran an update,(cue ominous music) which did not play well with others.  My computer lost sight of several things – first, our network settings, so trying to get that back caused us to lose our sound card codec settings.  Trying to get those back, we then lost the ability to save custom settings for region, date and time of day.

The forced updates Windows began doing with its roll-out of 10 was a complete disaster to the desktop.  The laptop fared far better and still clicks along just fine.  I suppose in part because it’s newer.  It began life here on 8, which we could hardly wait to leave in the dust to upgrade to 10.

10 worked fine for a while on the desktop that began life here on 7, but then suddenly we could not get any wi-fi signal, so YouTube buffered constantly before dropping out completely. Being a huge fan of Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and streaming online at various channels’ websites, that’s like being denied air.  Unsustainable.

The fixes to all of those issues did nothing to repair the situation.  There was no going back as another of the casualties was the ability to set aside a custom portion of our drive to rollback dates.  It wouldn’t go back beyond the date of the fatal update so all hope and hardware was lost.

The time had come.  My desktop was going to have to be retired from full time operations.  It’s still a great computer, but the internet connectivity is unreliable.  Still a lot of my files are on there and I need them daily.  So, it will still be used for offline work mostly, though it does still connect to some ghostlike form of someone’s network.  Don’t know whose network it’s latched onto since none are listed.  My 20 year era of faithful dedication to PCs had ended.

Welcome to the wonderful world of iMac!  It’s a brave new world and so far I’m loving this and wondering now why I waited so darn long.  Yes, a couple of my programs aren’t Mac compatible, but the PC still can serve that purpose.  I’m fine with that.  Now to learn how to find everything I typically use all the time and quit scrolling on a wheel mouse in the wrong direction. My iMac is an older model, but new to me.  Has plenty of power, lots of memory, runs on Sierra, updated to the latest iTunes so this chick is a happy camper.  Everything seamlessly syncs if you want it to.  It never fails to ask first and I like that!  So here’s to another long & happy relationship with Apple computers and the bright, shiny world of iMac!

Well, here it is again…

….the end of yet another summer and I have to say I’m rather disappointed in this one.  Too much cloud cover, too many rainy days, not enough sunshine for my thin blooded self, but i’m sure the green things love it.

With the end of summer and school about to begin again, we start thinking about cooler temps, leaves changing colors & falling away and all those fun (and expensive) holidays looming just over the horizon.  I start thinking about having oatmeal in the mornings with my caffeine jump-start of choice – Pepsi.  I’ve never learned to like coffee, sorry java lovers!  So with those thoughts rumbling through my brain the products to come are now coming to the forefront on my mental To Do List.

Here are a few returning scents I plan to make this year:

Cafe Mocha

Snow Witch

Ultimate Christmas – maybe.

I say maybe to that last one because it was not a huge seller last year but the scent takes you home for the holidays in such a memorable way that it’s hard not to use it in something.  I might just stick with making wax melts of the spicy scents that can discolor or seize and use the others that don’t produce gremlins in bar soaps.  Hand and body wash is also a possibility for the naughty scents since they won’t make an already made soap seize.

I would love to hear from you on what scents you know of that would be ideal for this fall/winter season of 17/18.  Comment below or email me at neecysnecessities@live.com.

Who we are….

….can be found not in face to face introductions but in looking around our space.  Our home space.

What little things do we like to surround ourselves with daily?  Little things that others might not think twice about or even ignore when they seem them but when we see them a smile begins.  A seashell that’s chipped, worn down, or oddly shaped, but we love it because of what it represents in our memories.  A honeymoon trip, a birthday party that will live in infamy.  Something only we know but it matters.

It doesn’t have to all be indoor things either.  Maybe there’s a tree in the backyard, planted years ago to celebrate the birth of your first child or in memory of your favorite pet.  Now it’s taller than that child, or you or even the house.  Now it shades you in a comforting way that brings the thought of that pet sheltering you, watching over you now.

Here at my business, there is a rose bush outside just beyond the flower beds.  It’s nearly five feet tall now, though this is after I’ve cut it back a bit to fill out nicely. It was just a tiny little shoot above the dirt in a 4 inch pot in 2012 when my son gave it to me at the rehearsal dinner for his upcoming wedding.  Now it’s blooming with wild abandon in the yard with brilliant red roses almost the entire year ’round!  I see that bush and remember my son as a rose trying to look for that opportunity to take hold and thrive in a place he can call his own.  Settle in, raise a family like the blooms that multiply over the years.  With this I smile.

Moonflowers crawl across our front porch roof line and shine like beacons in the night every summer, drawing moths with a siren song only they know the words to.  It’s beautiful to see those tightly wrapped blooms unfurl themselves every evening to dance on soft summer night breezes.  Saucer sized blossoms pop up until as late as November if the season is mild and we’ve had a few of those since I came here in 2009.  2015-08-10 19.47.47My husband had these pale beauties growing from a large bucket in the front of the porch to trail up the trellis when I first moved here and they’re still here, every year, shining brightly late into the night to remind us of our rediscovery of one another after 42 years apart.  They are the light we leave on at night for one another, like a lighthouse to guide us home.

Keep the small things around you, remember those things that only you know about because in your home, your own space, that’s the memory that matters most.  No one else really needs to know why this thingamabob is there, but it brings you joy, so it needs to be there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beer (or Wine)? In Soap? Why?

Fig Orange MeadFullsteam Rocket Science & Humidity Pale Ale 2

 

Some beer aficionados might be crying in theirs over the shocking abuse to an otherwise stellar brew, but soap makers know a little something or two about beer in a soap.

There was a time when girls used to rinse their hair in beer after the initial shampoo.  Why?  Well the answers varied about as much as the hair color, but the main one that sprang up most often was ‘shine’.  Lots and lots of shine is brought to your hair after using a beer rinse.

For a quick minute, let’s get a bit technical. Not too much though.  I’ll paraphrase and keep it simple.  What is it about beer that makes your hair shinier with it than without it? There are two main ingredients in beer – barley and hops.  Both are natural sources of proteins which hair needs for strength.  There’s also B vitamins in beer that sooth and smooth the cuticle of the hair, The cuticle is that layered outer coating of each individual hair shaft, similar to a fish’s scales.  When the cuticle is dried out or damaged, these cuticles are raised and damaged, leaving the hair feeling rough and dry.  Almost crackly.  The beer smooths those down and aids in building strength to the hair as well as the shine. The minerals and proteins found in beer are the perfect  way to bring back shiny, healthy hair we underappreciated in our youth.  Okay, technical lesson over.

Now you have a visual image to give you a deeper understanding of why I love to add beers, lagers, stouts, ale of all types, to my soaps.  Bar soaps and liquid soaps alike can benefit from the addition of these well-loved beverages as a positive additive to your next shampoo experience.

NeecysNecessities.com offers a wide variety of boozy bars for your bathing & shampooing enjoyment.  We use pale ales, IPA, & ITA in our liquid soap and every possible type of beer/ale imaginable in our bar soaps.  Many people like to use a bar soap for their hair and while it might work for some I cannot suggest it if you have anything other than very dry hair.

Our soaps rate high on the conditioning scale with a soap making calculator. My bar soaps are aimed toward dry, sensitive or easily irritated skin.    The same can be said for our liquid soaps. However,  I do have a bit more flexibility with these in that I can formulate with more glycerin for skin and less for hair.

Golden Silk Body Wash May 2016

Superfatting one one way to pamper the skin but it doesn’t work for a shampoo bar, so shampoo bars are not superfatted to the extent that a body soap is.  We also offer coconut water and aloe juice enhanced bar soaps for those that like the benefits found in these liquid replacements/additives.

One thing that should be noted here is it’s impossible to make a 1-bar-fits-all soap. What works for you might not work at all for your neighbor.  Still with the range of bar soaps and the liquid soap we also offer, we can make most of you happy with your skin & hair again and smell good while doing it.

Making Boozy Bars and beer-based liquid soap formulations has become something of a specialty of mine and with the large, and growing, microbrewery industry in the Durham, NC area, there’s plenty of potential candidates for our soaps. I love using a boozy beverage in a soap for the boost it gives to hair, the luster, that bounce and over-all beneficial mineral & protein jump start it adds with every use.  Of course once you’ve washed your hair again, those benefits will wash away, too, so don’t stop at just one use.  Use it as a regular routine treatment for highly damaged hair and once a week for regular hair.

 

Images:  photography by DJGunter

Fullsteam found here

Honeygirl Meadery found here

Neecy’s Necessities found here

 

 

 

Being offline in an online world

Have you stopped to wonder what the world would be like without the internet or PCs? What if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs had never been born.  Our desks would have no large expensive units with shiny screens sending shiny new products into our living rooms, dens or office spaces.  Email would be unknown and snail mail would still be in vogue.  The postman would still be ringing just once (a day). Paying our bills would be done over a span of 3-5 days due to the time needed to mail the payment envelope to said utility/insurance/car finance company’s location.

That was my world for the past month (almost) and it was an eye-opening experience.

Because we DO have the internet and all it entails, we also need virus protection, right?  You wouldn’t go around in this dirty, dangerous world without your vaccinations, tripping through sewage in dirty unpaved areas, swimming in dirty oceans to snap pics of undiscovered species, walking barefooted through constructions sites.  Well, perhaps those scenarios are a bit far-fetched, but you get my meaning.  We all had to have our shots growing up before we could even attend public schools, so vaccinations are a part of life.

The internet is a dark and dangerous place.  We all know it is.  Lots of things out there can and do hurt people on  a daily basis.  But there are also some pretty amazing things if you only take the time to look.  Some people out there are bent on your computer’s destruction and they counting on you to go out there and seek out something new, exciting and wonderful for yourself or someone you know.  And believe me the possibilities are endless!  Cool stuff is all around us.  Yet……danger lurks.

So, being the responsible persons that we all are, we protect our computers, which let’s face it, are a serious investment.  Some can cost bookoos of bucks but they can soar with the eagles if that’s your cup of tea.  We protect our digital babies like they are more precious than gold, locking them down with anti-virus software,  blocking tools, filters, etc that keep the evil-doers at bay.  But, can there be too much of a good thing?  In my case the answer to that was ‘yes’.

I had security suite of tools on my computer to protect all I do because my business is online-based.  My store front is now and has always been online.  No brick and mortar came first and from the looks of it will never be in the future. So I don’t want to put up a site that contains dangerous code, malware, keyloggers, spyware, virus, trojans, or anything else around now that could crash a customer’s computer or phone.  I installed Norton last October, seeing a really great deal for 50% off on 10 devices.  All was well for 9 months, then the digital world I lived in imploded.

I don’t know if there was a Windows 10 update that caused it to seize up, but in early July, all our devices migrated.  Mine happened on the 7th and the hubby’s laptop had this happen on the 10th.  His continued to run just fine, though once his did have a problem with one of the Windows updates, so I altered his a bit to get it back running properly again.  Then mine became increasingly difficult to use.  I couldn’t log into a site, could not pull up a web site page, couldn’t do anything online.  If it required going out into the internet, it was not possible.  I was blocked in. It took 2-3 weeks to narrow down the possibilities of what was causing the blockade stopping me from getting anything back from out there, but eventually it was narrowed down to Norton Security Suite. I had to uninstall it completely from my desktop and use other options  to immediately replace it.

So why now?  It ran fine for 9 months, so what happened?  I can only assume this much to be a possibility….it was installed back in October when the Windows 10 build was compatible with it, working smoothly during the intervening months, then an update changed some aspect of Windows 10 that was not fully compliant with Windows 10 and it began to twinge a bit in pain.  Over the span of a few days or perhaps about a week, I slowly lost connectivity.  All other potential issues were viewed, tested, then eliminated until the only possibility left was Norton.  That was verified last night after I removed it completely from this computer and now it’s working fine.

I have other protective software, it’s even free, so there’s no worries that something virulent will get in and destroy all I’ve worked so hard on for years.  But if anyone else out there has had this issue with Norton and Windows 10, please chime in.  Also let others in Microsoft and Symantec, the maker’s of Norton AV software know about this issue so future releases will address this problem.

With that, I leave you now as it’s my dinner time.  I’ll see you all around the web and safe surfing, everyone!

Phytoscents for Bath & Body

What is a phytoscent?  It’s a fragrance from the plant that contains nutrients and beneficial components in the formulation, bringing function to your bath & body care in a way that a standard fragrance or essential oil scent does not.  Formulator Sample Shop carries this line of additives to extend bath & body formulations to a whole new level.  You can find their full list here.

PhytoScent Vanilla

Solution color

I was offered a chance to try out a phytoscent in soap, knowing that I love to play mad scientist  as often as I can, I jumped at this golden opportunity.  I chose to use one that I don’t have in abundance in my regular selections of fragrances, which, as it turns out, is vanilla.  Why don’t I have that one?  Well, as many a soaper will tell you, working with a fragrance that contains vanilla, or vanillin, will discolor your soaps in varying degrees.  They will turn anywhere from a light tan to a very dark brown and if your design doesn’t have that colour in its theme, well, there goes your design.  It’s totally eclipsed by the discoloration.

Going in, I’m assuming it will darken, so I didn’t use any additional colour.  I added more to one portion of the soap batter than the other and the division of the soap wasn’t equal.  It was probably closer to 2/3 : 1/3.

I used a regular 2 lb loaf mold plus a samples silicone mold, my standard regular recipe that contains silk fiber, coconut milk but no micas.  Here are the pics in order of the creation process.  They’re are captioned within the image so you know what you’re looking at.

Oils and milk

Fragrance added

Oops, sorry about the typo – should be ‘mixed’!

Soap Batter Divided

Cut bars

I also added a bit to a small bottle of liquid soap to see what would change other than gaining a really great vanilla scent and here’s the results.  First one is right after adding it in.  the second is the next day, after filtering the solution to a fresh bottle.

Body wash with Phytoscent Vanilla added

Hazy body wash

Today I’ll be adding it into some body lotion since the point of using a phytoscent is to not only scent your product but enhance it with benefits that are far beyond just great scent. In the listing from Formulator Sample Shop’s product listing I gain the following information:

  • prevents and reduces skin damage caused by free radicals, environmental pollutants
  • reduces fine lines, wrinkles, age spots
  • excellent source of B-vitamins niacin, thiamine, B-6 and pantothenic acid

While I’m not saying anything I make and use this as an additive will offer a user this very attractive side benefit, as that would be misleading of me to state such and I’d be in trouble with the FDA if I’d said as much, I will say the scent alone is wonderful enough to enjoy any day of the year!  Of course, our lotions always make the skin find its happy place.  FSS Phytoscent Vanilla just takes it one step further!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Next?

Service tech arrived – more than an hour early – repaired the AC, so we’re back to work with a fresh, shiny new work week.  With Monday squarely beneath my feet, I decided since the internet is still sketchy at times to do a bit of work offline for a while and hope it would work later – like now as it appears to be cooperating for a change. Doesn’t change the fact I still want to leave our current ISP.  Their service stinks and my business can’t afford anything less than getting our money’s worth.

I’ve been asked more than once recently if I make bath bombs.  My response both times was no but have since revisited this to decide to give it another try.  Not that I was unsuccessful in making them.  I’ve done that sort of item before.  I made bath fizzies for the itchies from chicken pox with colloidal oatmeal and shea butter, a bath fizzy without SLSA for those with sensitive skin that doesn’t tolerate the foaming agent.  The timing apparently was not right because they didn’t move.  At all.  Eventually it became clear their time had not yet arrived, so I pulled them from the web site and let it rest for a while.

After being asked repeatedly recently about them, it looked like maybe it was time to revisit them.  Today was spent formulating recipes for bath bombs again though these will definitely foam and bubble.  That seems to be the way most want them so that’s what they’ll do.  In the next few days they’ll be tried out and I hope to have a cooperating internet to be able to write about the outcome when they’re done.

Another item on the agenda for the coming days is to fill more bottles of the body wash with some of this summer’s scents found in bar soap form.  Most this year were single note fragrances and so far have been very popular, particularly the challenges soaps crafted at the husband’s suggestions.  He has great ideas about some things soap related!

Golden Silk Body Wash May 2016

Still another is to work on a formulation for a liquid soap shampoo.  A shampoo bar might also show up in a few months or the fall for those that prefer bar forms of shampoo.  A previous attempt at a shampoo bar did not turn out as I wanted.  It was heavy, made the hair kind of greasy, so that’s been corrected, but the bars will have to wait a while longer while I focus on other things. One thing is for sure, no matter the form – liquid or bar – they WILL contain beer, ale, hard cider or something along those lines.

Room sprays are also in the early planning stages.  Many simple, complex, or holiday-themed scents are perfect for this application so watch for those to appear as the holidays draw closer.

Some of our scents offered in all current products will be discontinued over the next few months and that’s been mentioned in the NN Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you on which fragrances you’d love to see continue if you have a moment to pipe in on your favorite(s).  It’s difficult to say what others will like so it’s a bit of a gamble to try out fragrances when you aren’t sure of how well they’ll be received.  Some that have been noted as popular have already proved themselves as keepers with everyone and still others are not quite there yet.  Please visit out Facebook page and let us know which fragrances from our web site you’d like to see stay on or return if there was one you ordered some time ago and haven’t seen in a while.  You can find our Facebook page here and our web site is here.

Off the top of my head I know we have not had any bars of Caribbean Sands in quite some time.  It’s very popular when it’s in stock so please let me know if you’d like to see its return.