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Monday, March 25, 2013

A Bright Wall in A Dark Room

In addition to watching my eldest son play sports, making my soap, and playing with the baby, one of my favorite pastimes is watching movies. I love the little 'escape' that they give you. For approximately two hours you get to escape your daily stress. You don't think about work, or bills, or your inbox full of unanswered e-mails. You get to go play in Oz or Narnia or wherever the movie takes you.

As a lover of film, I really appreciate those who not only share my affinity but write about it in a unique and thoughtful way. I don't necessarily seek out film review media, but when I see something good, I'm hooked. This is where A Bright Wall in a Dark Room comes in.

A Bright Wall in a Dark Room is a work of passion not only for the Editor-in-Chief, Chad Perman (a good friend of mine in high school) but of the entire group of writers and contributors who, "...reflect on the movies that mean something to them: what they love, what they hate, what they can't stop thinking about."  

One of the reviews in particular really caught my attention. Liz Shannon Miller reviewed Argo last month and instead of just writing the basics about the movie, and the characters and such, she e-mailed her parents asking them to reflect on what they experienced during that time period. It was such an interesting take and made the movie (for me) even more personal as an American.

A scene from Argo
A Bright Wall in a Dark Room was recently given the opportunity to become a 'real' online magazine. "We have been given a rather fantastic opportunity to turn BWDR into a real (but still independent!) online magazine in the very near future, operating under a model that will allow us to not only pay writers a bit for their tireless and amazing work going forward, but will also allow us to deliver to you a vastly superior BWDR experience, in terms of content, design, and readability"

Chad and the others have put in thousands of hours of their time as well as their own money to keep this labor of love going, but in order to move on to the next step, they are going to need a little support. If you are a lover of the arts or passionate about film, please read more about A Bright Wall in a Dark Room and see how you can help. There is a lot of junk out there, so when good content from good people (Chad is a fantastic person!) comes along, it's worth it to show a little love.

Check them out at

(p.s. the DONATE button is on the lower left side of the page)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Testing new soap colors

You would never look at me and say, 'you can tell she's an artist'. You'll never find me wearing a colorful smock or a tilted beret. I don't have random piercings, and my hair is a rather boring shade of brown. (Yes, I am stereotyping artists. Pretty poorly, if you ask me). Yet, I see the world through an artistic lens. I get an itch that can only be scratched through creating something. Sometimes that something is a beautiful meal for my family. Sometimes that something is a crocheted blanket for a friend. Sometimes that something is translating a scent into an interesting soap design.

One of the greatest things about making soap for a living is the outlet I get for my creativity. With soap you can choose from a hundred different ingredients. There are a thousand additives you can choose, shapes you can make, and scents you can blend. Not only that, but there are a million ways to color your soap. Do you use micas? Oxides? Cocoa Powder? The list goes on and on. Recently, I found a fun way to test out my new colors without committing any one color to an entire loaf of soap.

Silicone Cupcake Papers

While strolling through Bed, Bath, and Beyond I came across reusable silicone cupcake papers. Each one holds about 2 ounces of batter and can be tossed into the dishwasher. Easy!

Mixing the colors into the soap

This time around, I was testing 11 colors from Celestial Colors and one color from Brambleberry. I poured the batter, added the color, and mixed well.

Curing on my desk for a few weeks
After unmolding them the following day, I set them on  my desk to cure for the next few weeks. The cure time was important because as you may know, colors can change drastically as the soap dries out. What starts as neon green, can end up a deep emerald, for example.

Finally, when I was satisfied with the cure time, I placed them on a tray I had, labeled them and referred to the tray of soap for color inspiration! Have you been able to come up with creative ways to test colors? I would love to hear what you've done!

Final Colors with Labels

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coconut Oil...Skincare Superstar!

Personally, I love coconut oil. It has many interesting uses and is incredibly versatile. From moisturizing skin, to replacing the high fat butter in cooking, coconut oil has been around for centuries.

Coconut oil is loaded with mostly medium chain fatty acids that consist of about 50% Lauric Acid. From what I understand, breast milk is the other Lauric Acid superstar; protecting newborns and helping them thrive.

Fresh Container of Coconut Oil
The shelf life for coconut oil is usually about 2 years due to its high content of saturated fats. It is also slow to oxidize and go rancid, making it very stable - hence the giant container I typically have on hand. Well, that and I use a TON of coconut oil! As it has a melting point of 76 degrees, coconut oil actually looks more like a butter until it melts to a clear liquid.

In soap, this little gem produces large, fluffy bubbles. Without ingredients like coconut oil, soaps need to use additives like Sodium Laureth Sulfate (also known as SLS) and other possible carcinogens to make lather. The Seattle Soap Shop uses only coconut and castor oils for bubbles; leaving out the chemicals.

Finally, coconut oil is great for those with skin sensitivities and won't clog pores. What else can I say? Coconut Oil is truly a skincare superstar!

Wash yourself with...sugar?

One of my favorite products I used to love were body scrubs. You know the ones. Heavily scented, heavy with oils, large grit sugar or salt (ouch), and usually pretty expensive. Not only that, but they made your shower or tub very slippery and left a gross residue behind. Why did I love them so much? Well, because they made my skin incredibly soft and smooth. My solution? Invent my own, much improved sugar wash.
Jojoba and Olive Oil Sugar Wash

What is a sugar wash? Well, our sugar wash is a skin-loving combination of both Jojoba and Olive Oils and a medium-fine grain sugar. In addition, we have added an organic Castile liquid soap that not only cleanses you; it also prevents that build up of oils in your tub. Our wash cleans, exfoliates, and moisturizes you in one easy step; leaving your skin ultra soft.
Net Wt 7oz (198g)

Choose between Lavender Citrus, Rosemary Eucalyptus, and Spearmint Mandarin

$12.99 at the Seattle Soap Shop
Lavender Citrus: Organic Sugar, Organic Castile Soap, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Optiphen (a phthalate & paraben-free preservative), Coriander, Lavender, Pink Grapefruit & Mandarin Fragrance

Rosemary Eucalyptus: Organic Sugar, Organic Castile Soap, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Optiphen (a phthalate & paraben-free preservative), Rosemary, Lavender, & Eucalyptus Fragrance Oils

Spearmint Mandarin: Organic Sugar, Organic Castile Soap, Jojoba Oil, Olive Oil, Optiphen (a phthalate & paraben-free preservative), Organic Mandarin & Organic Spearmint Essential Oils

Monday, March 4, 2013

The On-the Go Remedy Stick is back!!

Several years ago, over wine and appetizers, I had my best girlfriends over to test out formulations I was coming up with for my organic skincare line, Plein de Vie (meaning 'Full of Life' in French). While testing out lotions, and oils, and scrubs, one of my friends grabbed a jar off my counter which was not supposed to be a part of the sampling group. I told her to ignore it because it was a diaper balm formulation gone wrong and I had a ways to go before it was ready for feedback.

Of course, the girls all ignored me and decided to try it out anyway. What I discovered that evening was that they loved the balm - not as a diaper balm, but as a healing balm. The idea for a healing balm in a tube was born that night! After several months of research and testing, I formulated the final product: The On-the-Go Remedy Stick.

On-the-Go Remedy Stick

Designed to help with cuts, scrapes, rashes, sunburn, windburn, chapped lips, dry skin (especially during pregnancy), diaper rash, and as a mini-massage stick, I also learned that it had also been helping people with significant razor burn, eczema, and mild acne outbreaks as well. In fact, it was such a handy little healer that it was named "Best of Beauty" by Seattle Magazine, was an Editor's Pick in 425 Magazine, a 'Must Have' item in Seattle Metropolitan Bride, and was featured in the Teen Vogue Blog and the Bellevue Reporter (among others).
Best of Beauty

The .5 ounce tube easily fits into any purse, diaper bag, or first aid kit.  Boasting an impressive 85% certified organic ingredient list, the only ingredients that aren’t considered organic are Vitamin E Oil, Wild-harvested Sea Buckthorn Berry Extract, and Candelilla Wax; a Vegan alternative to beeswax.

So why didn't this product make it to store shelves? Well, to be honest, life got in the way, things changed, and I closed Plein De Vie. Now that I am back in the business with The Seattle Soap Shop, I knew the right thing to do was to bring the On-the-Go Remedy Stick back.

You can only get it on the Seattle Soap Shop website. Check it out and let me know how it helped you!