Something Wicked

In these quiet days, hours really, before Florence roars inland from North Carolina’s coastal region (or maybe South Carolina’s) there’s this holding of one’s breath, that breathless anticipation of what’s to come.  The not knowing that’s as terrifying as the reality once it’s here for what it could bring and does bring.

I live in the center of North Carolina, affectionately known as Piedmont, not to be confused with the Triad, which is where my daughter lives and beyond where my sons live.  Durham, precisely.  We are the epicenter for top-notch healthcare, among the best in the nation (as well as the most costly) for those times when it’s truly, often desperately needed like it was last November through January for my husband.  Given that fact of proximity, our infrastructure is a strong one, except for perhaps the streets.  Many are awful! When the power goes out during fierce storms or from downs trees/limbs, it’s the one saving grace to living in the city to have power restored quickly.  Sometimes even within minutes,

Such will not be the case with Florence. The very size, power, and potential for devastation will be a game changer for many in our area.  The wind speeds as of noon today were climbing back up from the drop to 140 mph. Our governor has declared a state of emergency and asked for disaster relief from Washington already because as North Carolinians/South Carolinians, we know from past experiences what these storms can do both during and after, particularly if they are expected to stall over the state as this one is expected to do.

Rainfall amounts are being measured in feet rather than inches.  Flood zones will be underwater for days or even weeks. Businesses, homes, and cars will be ruined. The high winds with this storm will bring down trees in full leaf due to the already saturated ground from our wetter than normal spring and summer. This can kill people, crush cars, smash into homes, shooting costs to homeowners through the roof – literally.

To add insult to injury, there are several others in a track across the Atlantic behind Florence – Isaac and Helene lurking nearby, just waiting for their turn.  The imagery is scary when you’re looking down the belly of this beast and know her cousins are waiting to take a swing at you in just a few days, kicking you when you’re down.

Chain of events in the Atlantic

This hurricane season is stacking up to live up to the expectations of the forecasting agencies near and far, local and national and what we need to do most is stay calm, stay informed, listen for alerts on evacuations or changes in direction, prep for the worst while you continue to hope for the best.

  • Plastic Ziploc bags will be your friends.
  • Store valuables in them and keep them in a safe, secure location, including important documents.
  • Put your cherished items in a safe place as well.  Cook up perishable meats in your freezer and store them in foil for reheating on warmers or grills when power isn’t available.
  • Keep both drinking water and non-potable water available for toilet flushing, even if you have to resort to sparkling water for drinking.  It’s still water.
  • Avoid salty snacks as they will increase your thirst, making your water supply run out faster.
  • Get canned goods with pull-tab tops that can be eaten straight out of the can.
  • Use granola bars, Slim-Fast or Breakfast Essentials – premade forms – for meal replacements in a pinch.  SlimFast has sugar free versions.
  • Puddings and Jellos, premade are available for snacking.
  • Most veggies can be eaten straight from the can without issues though they might not be as tasty.  Still, it’s sustenance in times that require only to survive.
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Jeepers Creepers

It’s the little things that really annoy me most. Things like

  1. drinking directly from the milk carton then putting it back……
  2. filling up trash cans but never emptying them….
  3. mispronouncing words, adding letters that don’t exist in that word….
  4. creeping up on my back bumper at stop lights.

If I was the car behind you, I would not be crawling up closer despite the light remaining blindingly red.  I stop behind cars at stoplights while I can still see where their rear tires touch the pavement.  And don’t move until the light changes and they’ve begun to move. It’s safer.  Less pushy.  Less rude.  Not aggressive.  And if someone hits you from behind, you don’t end up in that front car’s trunk space.Two Drivers Arguing After Traffic Accident No anticipation of a change in color in sight and cars creep forward anyway. That really gets to me because if they’re in that same intersection on any other day, waiting for that light to go from red to green, they’ll creep forward so much while the light’s still red, they’re halfway into the intersection by the time the light actually goes green.  Yet they hesitate.  It’s green now and still, they sit there like there might be a better option and if they wait for it, it will appear.  Then, finally there’s a twitch, they leap forward, maybe at the sounds of the annoyed person behind them urges them on via a blast of their horn  because the light isn’t green for long, maybe 15 seconds then it’s all over and you wait again for two cycles before it’s your turn again.

I live in the city, a heavily trafficked street runs just a few feet from my front door and through the years I’ve seen, and heard, pretty much everything possible that can be done in traffic.  Throw in a complication or obstruction like street repair, fixing a broken water line or burying a cable streetside, and it’s every man, woman or child for themselves.  It gets nasty.  Quickly.

I’ve often stood at the front facing window in wonder at the craziness that is our city traffic.  No signals because, well, it’s too much trouble and I’m sure they’ll get out of the way in time.  Maybe they’ll even read the signal-less drivers mind.  No small wonder that I hate driving not only here but pretty much anywhere.  I don’t have any choice right now with my husband unable to drive right now, but well, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Wonder how some of these folks managed to get a driver’s license if they drive like this or maybe they fake it when they’re taking a driving test?  Fake it ’til you make it?

Driving is a necessary part of life now so why can’t other drivers just chill, be kind, share the road politely, don’t creep up so close you owe me dinner and a movie if not a ring on it?  Just sayin’.

 

 

Being Green

On being green, unlike Kermit’s refrain of not being easy to do, we can manage it easily enough when choosing paper over plastic in the checkout lane of our favorite grocery store or even bringing our own.  We choose to be green when we donate old, well-read and thoroughly enjoyed hardbacks and paperbacks to our local libraries.  Composting in your own backyard is as simple as taking out those eggshells to the compost bin.  Pinterest has plenty of inspiration for how to DIY with all sort of materials for bins.  So why wouldn’t we be green?  It’s painless, doesn’t cost us anything, and reduces the amount of plastic that continue to rise in our lakes, streams, oceans, forests, roadsides, and yards (how many times have we plucked a wayward plastic store bag from our rosebushes).

environment conservation in your hands - usa

As a small business owner, it’s often not just a conscious choice, but rather an ethical one and an economic one.  While plastic is cheaper and lighter, making shipping costs lower, it pollutes – pervasively.  Made from petroleum by-products, it’s not exactly clean or green, so why use it?

Here’s the dilemma I face when choosing to package bath & body products.  Yes, the plastics are cheaper and lighter as mentioned, but since my products are for bath & body care, they are often in areas with lots of water, which can make them slippery when wet.  If that bottle slips out of a wet hand or drops into a tub not filled with water, the glass could break, causing harm to my customers.  I can’t sleep at night for thinking about that! Yet, I prefer glass.  It’s easily recycled, clear, providing my customers with a transparent window on my carefully crafted body wash or lotion so they see what they’re getting, what’s going on their skin.  Transparency is especially good for business!

So of course, since glass is preferred from an environmental standpoint, it isn’t always the safest for small business owners who are concerned for their livelihood and their products’ safety.  So what’s a small business owner to do?  I’m listening to my conscience. I’m changing the way I do business over a gradual period of time to use more recycled/recyclable packaging, more paper, less plastic or only that which can be recycled or is biodegradable.  Yes, it costs more, but it’s a sound decision from a personal as well as a professional & environmental standpoint.

Spring & Summer Clearance Sale is on

Grab up all those wonderful goodies we’ve crafted through these warm weather days and save on any order over $40, regardless of what you’ve added to your shopping cart.  Our sale prices are across all categories so you save on everything in the store (except commissioned art).  Here’s your chance to get some of your Christmas shopping checked off early so your holidays are relaxed and all about family, not about the hours at the mall.

Clearance sale sign 2018

 

 

The Glow of Bacuri Butter

In an ever-increasingly crowded industry such as bath & body product creation, it’s growing harder and harder to be heard or seen in that over-populated arena.  My voice fades when strained, but I keep hope alive in my belief that it’s the quiet ones that often get more attention with a whisper rather than a shout.  Given my physical restrictions (weak vocal chords) I whisper and can still register on that B&B Richter scale.

The things I love to ‘whisper’ about most is a new discovery or new product crafted for its beneficial ingredients without being too obvious about it.  Crafty individuals that we are, we B&B crafters choose our words carefully in order to stay within a rigid boundary that excludes medical or beneficial claims that could set off bells to the powers that be.

The choices bath & body makers are never random.  They’ve all done their research, tested, and reformulated numerous times before finally landing on something they’re pleased as punch to send out to the masses.  I’m no different, by the way. I try to find that formula that provides a soft feel on the skin that lasts, even after washing, without a greasy or heavy feel. It’s a sort of holy grail of formulations.  It should moisturize without feeling greasy or clog pores, provide some type of beneficial results we’ve read about in a reliable, verifiable resource, and still be less expensive than the pricier than gold products in those chic boutiques downtown or in suburban malls.

One such recent new discovery is Bacuri butter, a dark, dense seed butter found in the rainforests of Brazil. It’s known to the populace for its use to help with cold sores, scars, wounds, blemishes that have already appeared. As a proactive application, it’s wonderful for nail, hair and skin health, maintaining collagen and elastin production, and a rich, high-performing emollient. It also contains high levels of Lysine and Methionine which your body utilizes for the treatment of cold sores & psoriasis, and strengthening & maintenance of hair, skin & nails respectively.

 

Given all of that and the fact that, to me at least, it smells like chocolate, I’ve made plans to use it in a body butter for fall & winter this year.  With the blend planned it should leave the skin velvety feeling and perhaps a bit warmer in hue.  As for scents, well, that is yet undecided.  Not sure if any other scents would go naturally with the butter’s natural aroma, but we will see. I can imagine it with hints of chocolate and an underlying note of coffee.  Almond or vanilla could also work.  Something slightly sweet, but definitely not sweet citrusy notes!

Want to read more about Bacuri Butter or purchase your own personal stash?  Click here. You’ll find many more glorious butters for skin, hair and nails at this link as well.

Want to shop for our products? Products crafted with this deep, dark butter are coming soon. It’s too hot during our summer months for prep and shipping, so we will be releasing in mid to late September Click here.

 

Use This, Not That

This particular subject is one I frequently come back to over and over, mainly because new ideas, updated information comes to light after yet another study is released. But some things just don’t change as much and for that, I’m forever grateful!

Many people ask why we use what we use in our soaps, lotions, body butters and body washes, mainly the beneficial elements they offer, but sometimes it’s about how the soap feels.

For most soap makers, we don’t make any sort of medical or cosmetic claims, we just say our products clean, but if due diligence is researched properly, the individual ingredients we use start to become clear enough to understand.

As previously mentioned, we state it’s just soap and it cleans. End of sentence, but well, not so fast. Look between the lines and you come to understand that I choose sweet almond oil, olive oil and coconut oil for very good reasons.  Olive is a classic for soap makers and Castile bars are renown for their mildness thanks in large part to the beloved olive oil.  I like to use the light salad oil, more golden in color rather than the greener types (mostly virgin and extra virgin).  Over time it becomes an extremely hard bar which equates to a long-lasting bar.  Sweet Almond oil moisturizes gently, sinks in quickly, produces a marvelously lustrous lather that’s dense & creamy.  It’s particularly good for very sensitive skin, troubled skin or older skin. Coconut oil produces big fluffy bubbles and a very hard bar that’s snowy white in color, that is until you add a color to it.  When mixed in ideal proportions, you have a hard, light-colored, bubbly yet moisturizing bar, which everyone enjoys!

Some of the delightful extras I love to blend in include skin safe colorants and/or clays, milks of various types, usually goat or coconut and silk, preferably bamboo or humanely, sustainably harvested Tussah silk. Fragrances are typically either essential oils, fragrance oils or a combination of the two but used with a light hand to keep that gentleness of the bar going strong, keep it focused on giving the skin the TLC it deeply deserves.  So what would be the purpose of silk and how does it get into a solid bar of soap?  When added to the liquid portion of the soap during production, it dissolves leaving those all-important amino acids behind that bring a silkiness to the lather that slithers over your skin in the shower or bath leaving you soft & smooth almost like satin. The milk, with the extra fats found in the coconut milk in higher levels than most other types of milks except for heavy whipping cream, lends something we call superfatting.  Superfat creates creamy dense lather, gloriously rich, abundant.  Pure luxury in its simplest form.  It was such a formulation that had me hooked on handcrafted bar soaps so many years ago, leading me down the path of creating artisanal soaps for myself and others. After one use of a superfatted, handmade bar soap, there was no mad rush to the lotion bottle.  The skin is left soft, clean, lightly scented, hydrated and thoroughly loved. Spoiled even.  As for clays….they are great oil absorbers good for troubled or overly oily skin, perfectly suited to individuals that are bothered with acne, blackheads or whiteheads.  Activated charcoal is also an excellent additive that has deep cleansing, detoxifying benefits that many appreciate in a facial soap.

Finished
homemade coconut milk

 

These are just for starters, but as you plainly see, there are valid reasons why I use what I use in my bar soaps.  Further reading of our labels would show you what we incorporate in the liquid or cream soaps, while slightly different ingredients are used in lotions.  Why?  They’re a leave-on application and that is a topic for another day.   Making your own lotions or soaps is not that difficult but requires a bit of study and preparation, care and respect for the use of certain materials.  Real soap is made with a liquid mixed with sodium hydroxide.  Without these, there will be no soap. Soap requires either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide for liquid soaps or a combination of the two for a cream soap. Lest you hear otherwise, keep in mind a true soap has the glycerin intact which is why they’re such delightfully moisturizing bath treats.  They are soaps, real soaps.  Store bought items are not soap.  They are detergents or syndets as we know them.  Chemicals that lather up and clean you off but likely do so a bit too well.  Your skin can feel tight, itchy, in need of lotion immediately after stepping out of the shower.  That makes no sense to me.  You should feel better after a bath not worse.  Find a maker of soaps and find out the difference a real soap makes (that is, if you haven’t already) and you’ll never go back to store-bought again.