I’m a lifetime Weight Watcher. All told on WW, over the years, I’ve probably lost 75lbs following the diet. Most recently, I joined back in November and diligently measured and tracked my food. Lost a few pounds, but as a full-fledged diabetic my blood sugar numbers soared and I lost a little weight, but I didn’t lose as much weight as I expected or wanted, and I was STARVING.
For years I have dabbled in low carb/moderate protein/high-ish fat. It’s kind of controversial because we have been so conditioned by the medical community and diet corporations to believe fat = bad and low calorie is best. But when you look at the simple diets of our ancestors, they got their carbs from plant-based foods and ate meat laden with fat. Granted, they we much more active than our sedentary lives today (as I sit here, pontificating from my comfy chair…) but we can take some lessons from their eating habits.
Weeks ago, I quit weight watchers and went all in on low carb/high fat way of eating (notice I didn’t say diet…). I’m not losing weight as fast as many people as insulin is a fat storing hormone, and I seem to have lots of stores of it. But this morning, my blood sugar was 90 when I woke up. It was as high as 118 yesterday, and a few weeks ago a staggering 198. With medications. And I saw a little blip on the scale in the right direction. So far, I’m down 16.5 lbs, with a bunch more to go. I’ve got a little more pep than usual, feel less creaky and cranky, and am looking forward to my steaming cup of coffee with heavy cream in it this morning. 🙂
It’s been a while, but I’m determined to blog once or twice a week this year. It might happen, it might not. But since I last blabbed here, much has happened!
But before I rehash all that, going forward this is a place for me to yap about the things I think are intriguing and might just interest you, too. All two of you who read my blog. Some days it might be a story. Some day, it may to be tempt you into purchasing one of the many amazing handmade soaps I make and sell on my website (*cough cough HemlockSpringsSoaps.com). Maybe I’ll share some business stuff happening, and I even have some research and educational stuff about the things I make that might be of interest to you, too.
If you’re pleasantly surprised and like what you read, I welcome comments and shares as I build my little place on the big open innerwebz.
So, who else grew up doing crafts? Who remembers ironing shaved crayolas between wax paper to create stained glass windows? Using papier mache strips all over balloons to make colorful bowls? Modeling clay into little milk and sugar dispensers? Painting rocks and creating your own special pet rocks?
I LOVED all of that…I learned how to sew when I was young, and even took up knitting at an early age. I can remember learning how to gather seams and embroider smocked nighties. I get kinda goofy and have tried so many crafts, but other than knitting, I haven’t really been able to learn much new since I started soaping full time in 2013. So…I am signing up for a weaving class! I hope to start next week and consider it time to self.
I toyed with bee keeping classes, and might still try my hand somewhere down the line. But weaving? I’ve always wanted to do that!
So what fun crafts do you love? What would YOU love to learn to do?
Goat’s milk soap delays signs of skin again due to its high content of alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid. Alpha-hydroxy acids break down dead skin cell bonds, removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface and leaving behind new cells on the surface that appear smoother and more youthful.
Not a chemical counterfeit:
Water-based soaps on mainstream supermarket shelves use harsh chemical acids to break down dead skin cells. The lasting effect of chemical acids on the skin is more similar to a chemical “burn.” Alpha hydroxyl acids found in goat’s milk, work with skin instead of breaking it down and aging it further.
Goat’s milk reduces skin inflammation due to its fat molecule content. The cream present in goat’s milk is a moisturizer, soothing dry and damaged skin, possessing an anti-inflammatory effect.
Loaded with essentials:
Goat’s milk is packed full of essential nutrients and vitamins like vitamin D, C, B1, B6, B12, and E, that feed the skin and are absorbed into the body.
Studies now show that goat’s milk is effective for treating acne and skin conditions. This is primarily because goat’s milk has anti-bacterial properties that delay the growth of microbial organisms that spur the spread of acne.
Calendula oil is still used medicinally. The oil of C. officinalis is used as an anti-inflammatory, an antitumor agent, and a remedy for healing wounds.
Plant pharmacological studies have suggested that Calendula extracts have antiviral, antigenotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties in vitro. In herbalism, Calendula in suspension or in tincture is used topically for treating acne, reducing inflammation, controlling bleeding, and soothing irritated tissue. Limited evidence indicates Calendula cream or ointment is effective in treating radiation dermatitis. Topical application of C. officinalis ointment has helped to prevent dermatitis, pain, and missed radiation treatments in randomized trials.
Calendula has been used traditionally for abdominal cramps and constipation.
Such a workhorse of a little flower! Who else has tried growing Calendula in their gardens? (Please note…it’s not just a regular little marigold, it’s a different plant altogether!)
I use Calendula in two ways – I grind it up and add it to my Gardener’s Soap for the color and calming qualities. I also infuse it in avocado oil to make my Calendula Salve – great for cracked fingers, burns, and small cuts. Also good on baby’s bottoms! It also makes for a great Gardener’s salve after working in the garden all day. Made with local beeswax and a kiss of essential oils to round out all the goodness!
Deep dark secret – I don’t like Margaritas. Bleh. But I’m off today to the New England Chapter of Parrot Heads convention with my appropriately themed soaps. It’s a three-day Jimmy Buffet party in southeastern Massachusetts. I guarantee you I will come home with LOTS of stories. Which reminds me – I need to clear the pics off my camera so there’s plenty of room for evidence. I mean more pictures. 😉
Have been making soap for a few weeks now – prepping for the start of fairs in a few weeks. Made some beautiful soaps, if I say so myself. Really pleased with some new techniques I’ve been studying on YouTube and the like. I see some amazing soaps and wonder how on earth they can spend so much time crafting such a gorgeous soap – then realize they’re making about 6 bars at a time – my molds hold 80 bars each! Some of the techniques just won’t translate to the larger molds, but I’m still having fun. I guess this gal can still learn a thing or two.
See you on the other side of Margaritaville. Or Pina Coladaburg. Whichever works for you.
You know, lots of folks approach me about the name of my business, Hemlock Springs Soaps and want to know if I put hemlock (the poison) in my products. ***OMG big eye roll inserted right here!!!*** Not sure I would have survived this long if I had been, but okay!
So, WHY? Where’d it come from?
Well, when I first started doing this on a part-time basis all those 17 (!) years ago, I lived on Hemlock Springs Road. It was my first house, first time living with another human being (eventually my other half!) and what a house it was!!! It was cheap, but the bones were good. Which was good cuz the previous owners were hoarders. I mean HOARDERS. That TV show could have learned something from these folks!!! They left a van with no engine and stuffed full of cans of expired food for me to deal with (and that’s not all…..) Not to mention the filth. OMG I am cringing just recalling the work we did to clean that place up and turn it into a cute little home. It was perfect for the time, and launched us into the larger old New Englander we have called home for 11+ years. And while I feel like it was a hiccup in time, I never want to forget the importance (to me) of the name.
See, soap-making is more than just a process for me. It’s a soothing, cathartic feeling. Attending markets feels like a connection to old artisans and bakers who sold their wares to traveling folk and townspeople. Neighbors. Friends. So when I left the corporate world and thought “Why not give it a shot?” I struggled with the idea of changing the name of my little company. Originally, it was Hemlock Springs Cottage. I changed to “Soaps” to reflect more of what I actually do. Some days I wonder if I should have changed it to something more hip (a la “Soap & Olive Branch” – a naming trend I hope ends soon!) but it’s so not me – and it’s not where I made that first batch of soap.
But the idea of a cool bed of hemlock needles on a warm day, filtered sunshine streaming through the boughs, clean trickling streams with shallow pools…to me it’s the epitome of a wonderful feeling.
It has been a weird winter with the warm temps, lack of snow, etc. Maybe that’s why the water heater decided to give up the ghost out of nowhere last week (that was fun). And then we had a 36-hour cold snap that bust not one, not Two, but THREE pipes. Three days without water in the house was crazy and I am ever so happy to have water again! Laundry and dishes are done!
Have been formulating some new(ish) products again in preparation for the big Made in NH Expo coming up at the end of April. It’s a huge show and one I kind of look at as a way to debut new scents and products. (If you have never been, it’s really amazing to learn about all the types of businesses in New Hampshire – it’ll be my fourth year there!)
So, what’s new?
Well, it’s more like tweaks to existing products. I now offer my Beard Oil in three scents – Bare Naked (unscented), Sandalwood and Bay Rum. All feature a lovely blend of oils that do a marvelous job of softening whiskers, and providing moisture to the skin. (Heck, I sometimes use it to add a bit of moisture to my damp hair – but a little goes a long way on fine hair like mine). They’re just $10 and I’m really pleased with the amazing feedback I’ve received.
Another goodie I’ve been testing and am pleased with is a reformulation of my No-Funk Deodorant. Instead of a cream, I’m trying a spray with Magnesium, Aloe, and a blend of fume-fighting essential oils. Stay tuned for more details on that one!
In my last blog post I mentioned doing custom batches of soap and party favors. I’ve done all sorts of fun projects over the years – very chic bars wrapped in coordinating paper packages, sweet little baskets for guests, combinations of soap and lotions, lip balms, and I even make soap cakes – rustic round soaps that can be cut into slices for tea parties or the like:
If you would like to brainstorm about different options for a corporate party, wedding or bridal shower, baby shower, etc., please know I welcome your call or email anytime. I find these little projects to be a lot of fun!
Fun fact about the method of soap I make – it’s called Cold Process soap. It means once I blend the oils, fats, butters, milk and sodium hydroxide, add scent and color, pour into my molds, and insulate with old blankets, there’s no external heat source applied. It sits in the molds for 24-48 hours making it’s chemical transformation to soap. Then I cut the soaps, and put them on the curing racks:
Why does soap have to cure? Well, it completes the saponification process – transforming the oils, fats and butters into the compound we call soap. While you can use soap within a week or two, it’s not quite dried out yet. And the longer you allow the soaps to cure, the harder then are (meaning they’ll last longer), the more mild they are on the skin, and I think it adds to the bubble factor (soaps I have cured for ages upon ages are super lathery!)
Hemlock Springs Soaps cure for anywhere from six to eight weeks. Or more. I am using a bar of soap I made last spring and it’s simply divine! It still smells great, lathers like crazy, and is as hard as a rock. Winning!
PS – I have had a few inquiries of late for custom bars and batches of soaps for personal use and party favors. There are all sorts of cool things we can do for you if interested! Contact me anytime for a brainstorming session.