Christmas Samplers

assorted soaps packaged and ready for gift-giving!

How stinkin’ cute are these little samplers of soaps? Each box holds at least 12 oz. of assorted soaps for $12. Two or more are only $10 each! These samplers are perfect gifts for teachers or anyone on your list that you would like to remember this time of year with a small gift. They make great hostess gifts, too. Don’t have time to bring something to your host/hostess? Grab one of these and you’re good to go!

 

 

 

 

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‘Tis the Season (almost)

I really don’t want to be like all the stores who start putting the Christmas decorations and merchandise out before Halloween, not to mention Thanksgiving, so that’s the reason for the *almost* in the title of this post. I’m mostly an online shopper anyway but it’s getting to the point that I am just not going to shop at stores that are going to rush the holidays or make it seem like Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas have all merged into one. It just seems that when they’re all bunched up like that, each one loses a little significance, don’t you think?

what have we become?

I am glad that one of my favorite stores EVER is bucking the trend. Have any of you seen this on Nordstrom’s doors?

"to everything there is a season" ... (i hope!)

I really applaud them for taking this stance and hope that other retail establishments will follow in their footsteps.

Not that we can’t be thinking about Christmas, though! I think about Christmas gifts all throughout the year, and always have my eye out for that something-special, something-unique item that I can put away for someone (and hopefully remember it in December). I just resent having Christmas shoved in my face months in advance. I don’t want to hear Christmas songs yet, nor do I want to look at decorations before I’ve even sat down to Thanksgiving dinner. Now the newest thing is “leaking” the Black Friday circulars. UGH!

Last week, I did a Holiday Bazaar but it just seemed so darn early! There was just no way I could decorate my table yet the way I often do at holiday craft shows. I’m still savoring Fall!

Without seeming to be a hypocrite or prematurely promoting my products as Christmas presents, I did want to mention that I will be making baskets for your gift-giving needs this season. Since these take time to make and ship, I do have to put the word out a little early. We can make baskets anytime for any occasion but I wanted to post pictures of these wooden baskets that have a winter theme.

Gift baskets are always shrink-wrapped and these can be easily shipped because as you can see, the handle folds down and the basket can fit perfectly in a flat-rate shipping box.

As you can also see, the baskets are shown empty. I guess if I was on the ball, I’d have a sample one all done up to show you but I’m just not there yet. But all you have to know is that you decide the amount you want to spend, and for an extra $7 you can fill the larger one, and for an extra $5 you can fill the smaller one.

These are the same baskets Pier I carried in their stores a few years ago. They make great decorations, too. I always fill one with pinecones which I spray with some cinnamon essential oil. Another idea is to fill them with Christmas balls or cookies.

So, what are some things you can have me put in them? As I said, you can just specify a dollar amount or you can choose exactly what you want.

Our sugar scrubs come in two sizes: 12 oz. and 8 oz. The 12 oz. comes with a wooden scoop. We also make this in Caribbean Sun, which is scented with essential oils of sweet orange, tangerine, and pink grapefruit..

scented with essential oils of lemon and spearmint

This particular body butter has no added scent but the natural scent of the Monoi de Tahiti oil will blow you away! I will be doing a post on this oil in the near future but the scent comes from the Tahitian gardenia flowers and the pure coconut oil the flowers are soaked in. It is a VERY pleasing aroma! We also make other unrefined shea body butters in patchouli/orange, lavender/tangerine and botanical hemp which is made with unrefined, virgin hemp seed oil.

Body sprays are available in 2 oz. and 4 oz. bottles (not shown) and can be made in any scent you like.

Winter Wonder Balm is a very effective, non-greasy balm that will help with dry, chapped, rough skin. Excellent for the hands and feet.

And, of course, we have SOAP! Soaps shown in the photo are: Goat’s Milk, Honey, & Oatmeal; Mango; Sweet Basil; Cucumber & Aloe; Caribbean Bay & Lime; Tahitian Vanilla; Island Coconut; Citrus Spice. Not shown but on the curing rack are: Honey Almond, Eucalyptus Mint, Anise Lavender, and Sweet Lemongrass.

never any artificial colorants! we only use herbs, spices, and clays to add color and texture.

Please email with any questions or just leave in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m Dreaming of a White Halloween

OK, I wasn’t really dreaming of a white Halloween and I wasn’t really planning to write about snow in October but it happened.

And the post I was going to write – the one about all the soaping I was going to do this past weekend along with all the products I was going to make had to be put on hold because we lost power for most of the weekend.

No soaping was bad enough, but no biking? What’s a fitness-obsessed person supposed to do when she can’t ride her bike like she usually does every fall weekend? Why, go snowshoeing, of course!

I went snowshoeing with my friend, Gerry and his two dogs. I have known  Gerry at least 25 years, and during those years, in addition to snowshoeing, we have gone road biking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, attended parties and bar-b-ques, and even slept on a submarine together! With our spouses, naturally!

Bailey and Hobbs lead the way

I don’t really like doing things with just Gerry, though, because he’s not the kind of guy who’s in touch with his feminine side, if you know what I mean.

my friend Gerry aka "Grizzly"

And I’m not the kind of girl who likes to talk shop, like headsets, cranksets, power meters, wattage. But shoptalk as in shopping? OK, now we’re talking!

We only hiked about 4-5 miles and we didn’t really need the snowshoes, although it definitely made it more of a work-out.

This year, we were kind of cheated out of our usual fall foliage in all its glory. We lost so many leaves during Hurricane Irene two months ago, that the foliage just hasn’t been as brilliant. Yet, some leave do remain and because of that, the branches became so heavy with snow during this storm, which caused may trees to fall, resulting in all the power outtages.

Thankfully, power was restored today, and my soaping plans will now be underway again! Happy Halloween from all the little ghosts and goblins at Ekoaromas!

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The Ultimate Peppermint Lip Balm

It’s been awhile that I’ve made lip balms but with the cooler temperatures coming, it’s that time to start stocking up (oh, and they make great stocking stuffers!).

Lip balm is the one personal skin care item that I am most fanatical about … I put it on in the mornings and always under any lipstick that I may be wearing. Back in the day when I actually used to take time to use a lip liner, it was a must for letting the lip pencil glide on smoothly. Although I did recently read that lip liners are “out” but so are probably half the things I wear. That’s ok, I consider myself vintage! I also use it right before bed and several times during the day.

So, yeah, these lip balms here … they are packed with LOTS of moisturizing goodness! I sometimes vary my recipes depending on what I have on hand, the season, or if I’ve gotten a really good deal on something. These lip balms are made with organic jojoba oil because I recently got a very good price on it. Jojoba oil prices have been through the roof due to a shortage relating to poor weather conditions but I was able to obtain some through a group buy.

100% unrefined, organic jojoba oil

They are also made with beeswax, unrefined cocoa butter, pure olive oil, and vitamin E. It is scented with refreshing peppermint essential oil so it might feel a bit tingly when you first apply it. This is a very light, yet mositurizing lip balm. Guaranteed to keep your lips kissable!

If you’re wondering what the lip balms are standing on in the photo, they are my latest find – vintage textile mill wooden spools!

isn't that a beautiful rosy wood?

I just love the woodsy feel of them, and knowing I have a small piece of history. They’re great for decorating, too. You can turn them into a lamp or use them to display hats or just as candle holders. I’ve even seen a very eclectic wine rack made from them. I’m sure there are dozens of uses for them.

love that original paint!

I got mine from Prim Pantry etc, a shop that carries my products but you can find many listings for them on eBay.

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Road Trip!

Well, my New York/North Jersey soapmaking friends had me on the road again! In June, we took the trip to the lavender farm and last month we traveled to upstate NY for a soapmaker gathering with the Central New York Soapmakers.

This time, it was Melissa Rivera from Naturally Good Soaps who suggested we meet up in Sugar Loaf, NY on Sunday for the 39th Annual Fall festival.

Melissa is the Indie Beauty Network local regional director for New York and along with La Shonda Tyree a.k.a the Handmade Soap Coach and who is the local IBN regional director for Newark and North Jersey, they decided this would make a fun trip to meet, chat, shop and support other like-minded artisans.

The entire Columbus Day weekend promised gorgeous weather and I told myself it would be okay to take a day off the bike. Since I had ridden the 44-mile route in the United Way ride on Saturday, plus had ridden to and from the start for a sweet 60 miles, I figured I could spend a day just strolling around.

But before getting to Sugar Loaf, first stop would have to be the Warwick Valley Farmers’ Market in Warwick.

My husband and I got there fairly early and it was a good thing I was still full from my breakfast because there were samples galore to be had including a local winery who had both wines and hard ciders. I only bought some of the famous black dirt onions, so called because the black earth in that area grows some of the best cooking onions around. I also bought some creamy, Yukon gold potatoes. My husband headed straight for the pastries and bread,

and we also bought some maple cotton candy for my daughter who loves cotton candy(at least this one was snow white – no icky pink or blue color added!)

It was a quick 6-mile trip to Sugar Loaf.

Sugar Loaf is a true artists colony with over 50 artisans selling their handmade wares in shops and stores. I think most of them still keep with the tradition of living, working, and selling their goods in the same building.

You can watch your candles being made here, and everytime the guy sells one, he says this little speech to the candle as he is wrapping it that starts out, "Good-bye, little candle ..."

It is one of the most charming places I have ever visited. As a soapmaker, I could not resist a trip to Rosner’s, the soap store.

Nor a trip to the herb store which had loads of pumpkins and gourds in front.

Fall is so beautiful!

Even with witches!

I bought a handmade French butter crock from one of the potters.

I’ve been looking at these in catalogues for literally years, and surprisingly, my husband said he thought it was a good idea so I didn’t hesitate another minute! If you don’t know what a butter crock is, take a look at this.

I also found a great selection of stick incense and cone incense in a shop called Moondancer that sold all things spiritual in nature. Their incense is all handmade. I bought some presents for my daughter’s birthday tomorrow but I won’t say what I bought even though she says she doesn’t read my blog. (just in case she really does!)

Another shop I loved was called 18th Century Furniture. Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century. I saw loads of things I wanted but unfortunately, I didn’t have loads of moola. I did spy an old ceramic jug that the owner said was not for sale but then she let me have it for $20. It had come from one of the old barns that they cleaned out … they actually specialize in reclaimed barnwood furniture.

I finally caught up with the other soapers. Most of them arrived much later than planned as they had gotten stuck in traffic. You know how it is … on beautiful, sunny, fall days all those New Yorkers want to be in the country! They were going to have lunch but we really needed to get going.

Just when I thought my spending spree was over, I spotted THIS right outside Warwick!

You’re probably thinking – “What? That table of junk?” I LOVE THAT STUFF! You see that small bench on top of the table? I bought it! It’s actually 18th century although I’d say the legs were replaced afterwards. I love primitive furniture but not that cute-sy country stuff made to look “prim”.

This guy Sal was having an “estate sale” which was a bunch of stuff his father-in-law had but nothing really interesting. But Sal, whose real business is dealing with antique lumber, brought a bunch of stuff he got from barns, which was what atttracted me. He also has some kind of shop in NYC where he supplies props for movies, designer’s stores, even told me about a project he worked on with Michael Jackson.

We bought a beautiful piece of wood that we are going to use for our bathroom and put the bowl sinks on top. While my husband was loading that up, Sal’s brother said to me, “Psst … hey, little girl, you wanna come with me and see what’s in my brother’s barn?” Sal had two large barns there as well.

Just kidding. He actually asked me if my husband and I would like to see what Sal had in the barn. Obviously, he had me pegged as I could barely contain myself with all this barnwood, handhewn beams, and all sorts of country antiques.

We were not really in a position to get anything else but I did get a box and filled it with some stuff.

Sal gave me the WHOLE box for $10! Haven’t cleaned off the dust yet but those Mason jars alone cost at least $10 each down at the antique mill in town. You’re probably wondering what those other things are. Well, they’re old insulators (originally made to keep telegraph and telephone wires electrically insulated from wooden telephone poles)that I recently started collecting when I discovered them in another barn in my town. What am I going to do with them? I have no idea but I just like ‘em!

Here’s a photo of a clean one from my present collection.

Funny thing is, back at Sugar Loaf there were some Girl Scouts selling some baked goods but they also had several of these insulators as someone’s grandfather had collected them but he had died. They charged me $3 each for three of them … those thieving Girl Scouts! But they had a really cool porcelain one that I’ve never seen before so I’ll forgive them.

There were lots of old boxes that I considered for using as displays when I do craft fairs but for now, I just got this one. I might hang it on the wall (after I clean it, of course!) or use it as part of a display.

We also got these big(6 ft.+)mirrors that Sal had used for a Timex showroom in the city … I have a thing for full-length mirrors.

I discovered an old ladder at least 12 ft. tall outside that I must have missed earlier but my husband vetoed that so luckily I found a smaller one inside. Sorry, too lazy to take a photo. Anyway, I’m planning on going back for that big one. When I keep thinking of something, that means I have to have it.

Once back on the road, I wanted to stop at one of the apple orchards because I was just in the mood for a crunchy apple. But all of them were INSANE mad houses! Forget about just buying a bag let alone trying to pick any … all those city people were out in full force and the lines were ridiculous. So, no apples :(

But apples or no apples, it was a very good day, and I highly recommend a day trip to Sugar Loaf, NY. You won’t regret it!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lavender, Lavender, Lavender!

Today was a beautiful day to be outdoors and an even more beautiful day to be in a lavender field. Yes, you read that right … there IS an actual  lavender farm in New Jersey.

What soapmaker can resist the urge to go to a lavender farm? That’s why after a quick 2-hr. bike ride this gorgeous Saturday morning, I hooked up with the chicas from Queens and we met  at Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm in Morganville, NJ which is located in Monmouth County. Melissa Rivera of Naturally Good Soaps, Eva Stuglovics of Soapistications, and I arrived just after noon for a lovely day of walking through blooming lavender  fields.

We were able to cut our own bundles of lavender.

The owners of the farm were extremely hospitable, and there were several edible lavender products to sample. My hands-down favorite were the Lavender Lemon Sugar Cookies … the lavender was so pronounced! As Melissa said, “With every bite, there was a burst of lavender!”.

We also sampled the Lavender Lemonade, the Lavender Honey, and the Lavender Butter.

It was enough to make me purchase my own culinary lavender to try my hand at cooking and baking with lavender.

I was even inspired to buy a few plants to try growing it myself. The smaller plant which hasn’t bloomed yet is a hardier type that grows in the French Alps so hopefully even a brown thumb such as myself might have some success!

There was an assortment of lavender products to buy, including lavender soap. Below is a photo of some soap samples … can you guess what they all smell like?

The farm is not that big – just about 10 acres – and i think we all expected it to be larger. But when you think about it, who would expect to find 10 acres of lavender growing in New Jersey? If you can’t afford an aromatherapy tour to the lavender fields of Europe, you might want to put this on your places-to-go list if you’re planning a trip to NJ … if you’re a lavender lover, you won’t be disappointed and if you’re not, there’s a good chance you’ll become one!

 

 

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Make Your Own Sugar Scrubs

I was so excited when my sister asked me to make favors for my niece’s bridal shower. It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done any favors so I was definitely up for the challenge. I kind of like when people don’t know what they want and leave it all up to me! At first, I had no idea what to do, and then the creative juices started flowing and I had TOO many ideas! Luckily, I will be doing the wedding favors as well, so I get to use one more of the many ideas I came up with.

I decided to do sugar scrubs because who can’t use some beautiful, glowing smooth skin?  Sugar is a natural exfoliator to slough off dead skin cells, and combined with moisturizing oils, your skin has a nice treat!

So let’s get started! I always make a citrus scented scrub but I wanted something different, something that would put a summer wedding by the seashore into mind, and I came across this recipe for a Mint Lemonade sugar scrub.

ingredients for this recipe

I doubled it and modified it slightly. Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:
16 oz. grapeseed oil
4 oz. unrefined shea butter
32 oz. sugar
dried peppermint leaves
3 1/2 t.  eo’s/fo’s (slightly more than .5 oz.)

Mint Lemonade scent blend:
2 t. Lemon Sugar Fragrance Oil (I used Sweet Cakes)
1 1/4 t. Spearmint Essential Oil (I used Essential Oil University and I subbed Peppermint Essential Oil because I was out of Spearmint)
1/4 t.  Lemon Essential Oil (I used Essential Oil University)

Method:
In a large bowl mix the grapeseed oil, unrefined shea butter (if using), and the sugar until thoroughy mixed. Sprinkle some dried peppermint leaves for texture and color, about 2 T. or so.
In a small glass cup or bowl, blend the esesntial oils and fragrance oil together. I don’t like to use plastic because fragrances can “eat away” at the plastic although that it isn’t going to happen for the bit of time you are blending. I also think the smell comes out better when  you wash them.
Add to your sugar mixture, mix well, and there you have it!

so easy to make

Now you are ready to package your scrubs into containers. I think I filled about 30 2 oz. jars with this recipe. I tied each with raffia and a small shell to go with the Jersey Shore wedding theme. Big secret: the shells, called keyhole limpets, are from Puerto Rico!

Just a note: this recipe used a 2:1 ratio of sugar to oils/butters which is a bit too oily for me. I tend to make my scrubs drier and I would definitely increase the sugar by 1/2 to 1 cup if I made this again (which I definitely would!), thereby increasing the number of scrubs made at the same time. I guess I also have always made them drier just so there is less chance of leaking out during shipping.

As you can see, making your own sugar scrubs is very easy and really, everything you need can be found right in your own kitchen if you just want to make a simple sugar-and-oil scrub. I love adding skin-soothing butters to my scrubs for added moisturizing.

To use, just scoop some of the scrub onto your hand and massage gently onto your skin for a minute and then rinse. Trust me, your skin will love it!! Ideally, you should use a small scoop or spatula to scoop into your hands to prevent water from getting in the scrub which may allow bacteria to form. Keep in mind that the shower/tub can become slippery.

I think this recipe can be further altered by using salt instead of sugar. Using salt or sugar is really a matter of personal preference. Sugar scrubs are more gentle than salt scrubs and you never want to use a salt scrub after shaving. Try them both!

 

 

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Highlights of the HSMG Conference

Well, due to some technical issues, this blog kind of came to an abrupt halt but I think everything has been worked out so I’m just going to pick up where I left off! Since everything becomes old news so fast these days, I’ll just re-cap with a few photos.

First, let me say we had some impressive speakers!

Barbara Corcoran, real estate guru; Robert Tisserand (with me!), aromatherapy expert; Marla Bosworth, owner of Back Porch Soap Co. and small business consultant

We had some equally impresseive vendors! I think what I liked about the vendors this year was that it was such a diverse group, and I was happy to see packaging vendors there who deal with small businesses and don’t require minimum orders.

Even though our days were packed with seminars, we still had time for plenty of hanging out and getting to know each other. Both Wholesale Supplies Plus and Essential Wholesale sponsored parties for us at night.

The Annual Awards Dinner on the last night is always eagerly anticipated as the location of the following year’s conference is  announced. This year attendees heard not only that the 2012 conference will be in Portland, OR but were even told the location for 2013, which will be in Raleigh, NC. So it looks like I’ve got some traveling in my future!

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All Pumped Up!

What I love most about the Handcrafted Soapmakers Guild Conference is the way it pumps me up about making and selling soap. I love meeting suppliers I already use as well as new ones, especially those with new products. My head is spinning with new packaging ideas and we haven’t even had the seminar on “Identity Design and Packaging” yet!

I attended a seminar on how to make your own melt and pour soap from scratch by Kayla Fioravanti of Essential Wholesale. Although melt and pour is not a product that Ekoaromas is planning to make, it was still interesting to know the components of a melt and pour base and what each ingredient does.

Last night, Wholesale Supplies Plus hosted a special event. It was sort of a dessert party with a huge ice cream station, an espresso stand, and trays of delectable pastries on each table. During the course of the night, they gave out a few thousand dollars worth of gift certificates. To get raffle tickets, you had to show your enthusiasm and just go c-r-a-z-y!

As you see, we’re not all about soap!

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You’re hot then you’re cold

ok, so maybe I was cold and then I was hot. The weather was not the only thing different from where I live in New Jersey … I went from farmland to this.

The conference doesn’t actually start until tomorrow but the registration and all the vendor tables were open. We got our goodie bags.

I only bought a few things: 4 bottles of castor oil, an oil which gives the soap its lathering properties; a book on making soy candles; 2 other books (not pictured); and a bag of organic soapnuts, which are an all-natural alternative to detergent.

Here’s me with my free walking stick that Essential Depot was giving away.

That’s it for now … still trying to figure this blogging thing out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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