Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wake up and smell my socks

Who knew that scented clothing was all the rage?  Yesterday it was odor-absorbing, musk and pears (?!) fragranced men's underwear.  Now it's socks made with coffee-bean fibers.  The carbonized coffee stuff is supposed to absorb sweat and odor.  And then what? I'm sure some guys will use that as an excuse to wear them again instead of washing them, right?  Cuz they don't smell that bad yet?

Oh yeah, just found it.  The real story:  I Wore These Socks For A Week And They Don't Smell. Yowza.

They are a walkin' on their own now.

This is what science is working on?  Anyway, if you think you can't live without this, Ministry of Supply are the ones creating these beauties, funded through Kickstarter with a hugely successful campaign.

By the way, Kickstarter kicks ass.  Go over there and help fund some creative genius with their next brilliant project.  I'm not sure I would have picked these sock guys, but I could get lost for hours looking at all the amazing ideas that people are working on: art, design, dance, food, music, theater . . . everything.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Stuff I Love - Almost August

* Why no one should mess with the ocean.  Super scary.

* But dolphins?  Not so scary.  Who doesn't love dolphins?  Especially now that we know they actually have names for each other?  And whistle for each other with their own individual names?  Crazy love!

* Which leads me to another crazy love.  Crazy Sexy Kitchen. That's the name of a book, and the tag line for Kris Carr who is hilarious and wonderful and you can't not want to eat like she eats.  Green juices, green smoothies, raw fruit and veggies and the hottest, most nutritious food ever.  Plus her last blog post was beautiful.

* Wired Love (by Ella Cheever Thayer). A tale of catfishing, OK cupid and sexting . . . from 1880.  It was actually written in 1880 (!) about a couple of telegraph operators who started a little long distance flirtation through dots and dashes at work.  But it sounds like a modern day texting romance, complete with all the roller coaster rides we know so well in our social media / techno savvy / smart phone world.  This review of the story is so darn charming and infectiously entertaining, it's worth reading before you actually get to the short story.

If you want to just skip to the actual story, it's here (Project Gutenberg), or a typeset version is here (Google Books).  All free.

* And it reminded me again of how cool it is to have just an embarrassment of riches in older publications available to us through Project Gutenberg and Google Books. If I could, I would read all day. The children's books alone are wonderful.

* And even more than that? It's mind blowing how much information we have available to us in this present moment of time.  It's literally a couple clicks away to know any tiny little thing in the entire universe in under a minute.  With photos, texts, more links and one-click sharing.  And video too!  Anything you want to learn how to do you can watch someone else already doing it, like on the U-tubes. Especially if you want to learn how to apply make-up :) Awesome.

* Ha Ha, but ewww.  Men's underwear "scented with the aroma of musk and pears - and the smell gets stronger the longer you wear them as your body heat activates the fragrance!"  Some guy gave it the real-life sweat test and then sniffed them - so you don't have to.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Anacortes Arts Festival

I'm thrilled to be an invitee again this year - it's an awesome honor!  This is my biggest and best show of the summer every year.  I am so looking forward to seeing so many of you all there!

"In our 6th decade, we welcome visitors and artists from throughout the region and beyond. The Festival features 250 diverse Booth Artisans (maps here, lists of artists here) who transform six blocks of historic downtown. Extending down to the water, Arts at the Port showcases over 30 northwest fine artists in three exhibitions.

The Experience Art Area features demonstrating artists. Hands-on Youth Activities spark the creativity of the youngest Festival-goers. Our Food and Beverage areas offer over 25 regional and ethnic food vendors plus beer and wine gardens. Our musical lineup includes rock, country, blues, world beat, Latin, Jazz and Folk on two stages."

Dates:  Aug 2 - 4, 2013
Hours:  Friday and Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-5pm
Location: Commercial Ave, Downtown Anacortes
Soapworks Studio Booth: 513C, same spot as the last couple of years, just a couple of doors south of Gere-a-Deli, in the center of the streeet.

Friday, July 26, 2013

All About Dry Brushing Skin: Pt 2

Yesterday we started this whole dry skin brushing conversation, with everything you wanted to know (and more) about how skin works, the benefits of dry brushing and why you should do it.  So today, we'll get to the nitty gritty, like how to do it, and which brush to use.

It's important to use a NATURAL brush.  I mean, seriously, if you're going to all this trouble to be a granola-green-natural-healthy beauty, you are not going to start off by scratching yourself up with synthetic, toxic plastic brushes.  Soapworks Studio brushes are all-natural bristle.  Boar hair to be exact, because those are the highest quality, longest lasting, and they feel really, really good.

I know there are some people out there that are saying in their heads right now "ewww, boar hair? but what about the animals?"  And you've got a point.  I've searched around for vegetable bristle brushes, but they just don't stand up.  They fall apart really quick and are either too tough or too soft.  Options are loofa or jute.  And as soon as I can find a reasonably priced yet great quality body brush that is plant-based, I'll waste not a moment getting it in stock. These boar hair brushes are the very best out there, and the one that everybody (all the cool people) are using. Me too.

I have two styles: one with rubber massaging nobbies on it, which has a firmer feel, and I love to use on my back (excellent back scratcher!) and the standard brush which has a detachable head.  That way you can slide off just the brush part, which has a little canvas strap, to work smaller areas without that long handle hitting the shower wall or getting in the way.  Both are great.  They each have their pros and cons, but it comes down to personal preference.  Either of them is the same price - $ 8.00 each - which is a screaming deal because they last for years when they aren't getting wet. Oh, and did I mention that you can kiss all those expensive exfoliating body scrubs, creams and polishes good-bye?  Yep, those ones that mostly just glop onto the sides of your bathtub and require even more scrubbing of your bathroom than your backside? Enough said.

If you're just starting out, you probably should go with the softer body brush - the detachable head brush.  And if you're totally, completely stumped, holler at me and we can talk it out.

How to Dry Brush

1) To start: purchase a natural, NOT a synthetic, bristle brush. (animal hair or vegetable bristle).  One with a long handle is beneficial to reach all areas of your body.  A detachable head can be handy so that you can remove the handle for smaller, closer areas, but brush styles are a personal preference.  Soapworks Studio has two varieties to choose from and both have had stellar reviews.

2) Skin brushing should be performed (hee, like a circus) once a day, preferably first thing in the morning. Always dry brush your dry body before you shower or bathe because you will want to wash off the impurities from the skin as a result of the brushing action. The brush should be dry and your skin should be dry. And I guess if we're being thorough here, I would mention that I do this inside the tub/shower before I turn the water on.  Hence, no extra bathroom clean up. Who wants to dust and vaccuum the bathroom later?

3) Always use brush strokes toward the heart. Brushing towards the heart facilitates detoxification, while brushing away from the heart can adversely affect circulation in the blood vessels and lymph system. You can experiment to find a method of brushing that is comfortable to you, but some general guidelines are to stroke from your hands up your arms several times, covering all areas of skin. Then stroke the brush from your feet to the top of your legs in the same way. Use several clockwise strokes on the stomach, both sides of the chest, and your arm pits. Then repeat these areas with counterclockwise motion. You can also brush in a circular motion on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet. Concentrate on areas which suffer from dryness or cellulite, but avoid areas of broken skin or rashes. Having said this, don't get crazy about the rules and make it complicated.  Start at your feet and move up.  Do what feels good. Aim for rosy glow and stop if angry, ouchy, red.

4) A thorough skin brushing takes about 10 minutes, but any time spent brushing prior to bathing will have great benefits. If you are feeling ill, increasing the treatments to twice a day can be beneficial.

5) Avoid sensitive areas like bruises and anywhere the skin is broken, such as areas of skin rash, wounds, cuts or infections. Also never brush an area affected by poison oak, poison ivy or sun burn (duh, ouch).

6) Tap your brush (over a trashcan or shower drain) to shake off dead skin cells. Each person should have their own dry brush, just like a toothbrush! Keep your brush in a dry area away from steam and potential mildew. Mine just hangs on the towel hook outside. You should wash your brush regularly with soap and warm water, rinse well and make sure it is thoroughly dried in a sunny area before using again.

Some people have more sensitive skin so dry brushing may feel uncomfortable at first but your skin will adjust quickly. Other people find it invigorating and love it from day one.  When you begin dry brushing, you will no doubt be surprised at how invigorating and energizing the process feels. Hopefully it requires very little urging to make this natural technique a daily ritual.

Just a reminder, I've added a new page with all this information - both parts - to both the home page under the "About Us" button, plus a link from each brush page, (with a printable PDF version too) to the web site. That way you can read about it again or refresh your memory all in once place while you're deciding on which brush to buy. Print the whole thing out too - so the instructions are at the ready. 

Are you already dry brushing?  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Any before and after photos? Skin transformations? Share the glow!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

All About Dry Brushing Skin: Pt 1

I've been dry brushing my skin for years now, sometimes very diligently, and sometimes a little haphazardly. It's an incredibly healthy habit and I wish I did it every single day, like exercising, drinking green juices, and all kinds of other healthy habits. I wish I could do them all, but somehow they just happen in fits and spurts. And when I need them most, like when I'm in some super busy time crunch, is usually when I do them the least. Go figure. And they end up on the next New Year's resolution list.  Again.

How I rationalize all of it is "hey, even doing them a little bit, or once in a while, is better than nothing." Which is true.  But doing them even more, or regularly, or daily even, is that much better. Dry skin brushing is especially like that. One look at you and people cannot help but notice that healthy glow. Hm, come to think of it, juicing does that too, so do both of them. You've heard that before - "just DO it."  Really.

So if you've never heard of Dry Skin Brushing, I'm going to start out by telling you what it's all about today.  And it's a huge amount of information, so tomorrow, I'll finish up with HOW to do it - the whole method and techniques section (yep, my first 2-parter, whee!).  

Even a few years ago, hardly any of the folks who came to my booth looking for body brushes (yes, I carry 2 styles - and we'll talk more about them tomorrow) knew anything about dry brushing, but now tons of people stop in looking specifically for a dry skin brush.  They've heard about it from friends, from their salon, from the internet or who knows where.  There is a lot more talking about it going on, but still room to get the full information out.  So we begin:

Amazing Skin Facts

Our skin is the largest and most important eliminative organ in the body and is responsible for one quarter of the body’s detoxification each day.

Our skin eliminates over one pound of waste acids each day for the average adult, most of it through the sweat glands.

Our skin receives one third of all the blood circulated through the body.  And although it is the last organ to receive nutrients in the body, it is one of the first places symptoms or signs of imbalances and deficiencies will appear.

A Simple & Natural Way to Healthier Skin

The practice of dry skin brushing is an age-old secret to great skin, but is relatively unknown to most people. With all the expensive and confusing skin care products and hypes out there, we think it's important to re-introduce a simple, easy, natural process that is not only a great way to maintain healthy skin, but also helps you to maintain a healthy body.

The ability of the skin to excrete toxins is the one of the most important ways to maintain health - and dry skin brushing is one of the easiest self-help methods available to anybody. Stimulation of the skin stimulates nerve beds within the skin structure that sets in motion natural healing processes throughout the entire body.

Your skin is the primary sign of an internally toxic body. As soon as your internal body becomes toxic, it spreads into your skin causing it to become irritated and itchy. There are numerous ports of elimination of the skin including your mouth, face, arm pits, the inside of your upper thigh region, feet, and toe nails. Did you know that body odor is an additional indicator of toxic build-up and is eradicated through the same channels?

Our skin is permeable or porous and can absorb toxins directly from the environment, while also absorbing virtually everything that comes in contact with it or is applied to it directly.  Skin brushing and its massaging action stimulates the body's automatic healing actions by bringing fresh blood supplies to its surface. The skin is also one of the best ways to stimulate the endocrine system, reaching all the glands very quickly. The instantaneous result from a brushing session is a feeling of increased physical well being, not the least of which is silky, smooth, beautiful skin that is hard to resist touching.

The Benefits Of Dry Skin Brushing

Detoxification is performed by a number of organs, glands and transportation systems including the skin, liver, kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymphatic system and mucous membranes. Dry brushing stimulates all of these organs of detoxification to function more efficiently which has a bonanza of health benefits for the body:

1) Dry brushing cleanses the lymphatic system. Lymph is part of our immune system and is made of white blood cells called lymphocytes and the interstitial fluid that bathes our cells, bringing them nutrients and removing waste. All detoxification occurs first and foremost through the lymph. Our bodies contain far more lymph than blood, so you can see how important this is.

2) Dry brushing strengthens the immune system. Dry skin brushing may reduce the duration of an infection and accelerate the clearing of toxins. It helps support the immune system during treatments for cancer and other chronic illnesses. By stimulating the lymph vessels to drain toxic mucoid matter into the organs of detoxification, we can purify the entire system. After several days of dry brushing, sometimes you may notice a gelatinous mucoid material in your stools. This is a normal sign that the intestinal tract is renewing itself.

3) Dry brushing stimulates circulation. Our skin breathes! But for most people this vital route of detoxification is operating below capacity because it is clogged with dead skin cells and the un-removed waste excreted through perspiration. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes. Increased blood flow begins entering the areas brushed and you will experience an increase in electromagnetic energy that helps you to feel energized and invigorated. By activating the circulation you also help prevent varicose veins.

4) Dry brushing helps reduce cellulite. Improving cellulite is one of the main reasons people look into dry brushing. Toxins are often trapped in the subcutaneous later of fat cells just beneath the skin which contributes to cellulite. Dry brushing is a cheap and non-invasive way to improve the appearance of your skin in addition to the many health benefits it provides. Instead of expensive liposuction surgery, try dry skin brushing coupled with an alkaline diet and exercise.

5) Dry brushing tightens and tones loose skin.  Women who have just given birth can use this technique to tighten loose skin and speed healing of stretch marks.  People who are currently on a weight loss journey, or have just lost a substantial amount of weight may find great benefits in a dry brushing regimen too.

6) Dry brushing removes dead skin layers. Dry skin brushing exfoliates skin, shedding dead skin cells which can help improve skin texture and cellular renewal. If exfoliation doesn't happen regularly, a buildup of dead skin cells can lead to eczema, psoriasis and dandruff, in addition to blocking the skin’s regular excretions like sweat.

7) Dry brushing stimulates hormone and oil glands, helping all of the body systems perform at peak efficiency. The skin is your body's largest organ. When not properly maintained, the elimination duties of the skin are forced on the kidneys. So, give your kidneys a break—keep your skin clean and rejuvenated. Bathe daily and dry brush beforehand to help stimulate blood flow to the surface so toxins can more readily escape.

8) Dry brushing tones the muscles. Dry skin brushing helps muscle tone by stimulating the nerve endings which causes the individual muscle fibers to activate and move. It also helps mobilize fat and helps to even out the distribution of fat deposits. This is a great technique for those with limited mobility.

Whew - that's a lot to take in. So that's why I'm going to take up the rest, all about the brushes and how to do it, tomorrow. And I'm also adding a new page (a link from the brush page, with a printable PDF version) to the web site. That way you can read about it again or refresh your memory all in once place while you're deciding on which brush to buy. Print the whole thing out too - so the instructions are at the ready. Let's get glowing!

Are you already a pro at dry skin brushing?  What success stories or hilarious escapades have you had with your dry brush in the shower? Share your tips and tricks with the rest of us in the comments below!  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Under water

When you get to the point that you suddenly feel under water, what do you do?  

Around this time of the summer, after weeks of shows with weeks and weeks in between working like mad getting ready for those shows, I usually realize that I've been holding my breath too long and I'm starting to turn blue. My brain gets foggy, my body is dragging, and the joy is on vacation, where I would like to be.  

But the work isn't over. There's so much to be done. So how to get through it?  I'm not sure how anybody else handles it, and I'm sure everyone is different. But I need to take a break. A total brain break. A sleep in break. Leave the studio and breathe air in the sunshine somewhere totally different from the daily grind. Even if it's only for a few hours one morning. Or quitting early and goofing off for the whole evening, starting with Happy Hour.

Sometimes just a little bit of this works and I can come back to the tasks at hand refreshed and ready to focus again, with renewed vigor. Sometimes it takes a little bit more. I've spent the last couple of days doing a little bit more. Reading a whole book in a quiet place. Watching the moon rise from the lake with a bottle of wine.  

There's been hours of work in there too, between a couple of naps.  I'm still checking a few things off the list.  I ran a whole slew of errands in the hot car this afternoon. But the bigger things which take a lot more effort I've put on hold for a couple of days, along with some of the littler things that probably don't even matter in the long run.  Re-looking at priorities and tossing a few things at the bottom is probably a good thing.

What is your method of re-charging?  Shopping? Taking long walks in the forest? Eating pounds of chocolate? A deep tissue massage and meditation? Let us know what works for you in the comments.  Maybe it's something I need to try!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Science Friday: Body Renewal

"Everything old is new again."  You know that old saying? It's especially true of the human body. 

I'm a total geek about health and science - seriously.  And I have no idea where I got that or why.  But I read an article recently on New Scientist (subscriber only, see?  GEEK!) about how fast the cells in your body re-grow and replace themselves - and was totally amazed at how speedy it is.  In fact, in an average adult, the vast majority of their cells is only 7 to 10 years old - so you're not as old as you feel :)

And all this new cell info is incredibly hopeful too.  I mean dang, in  just a few days you can have a totally new intestinal lining.  And you can grow back almost your entire liver, though that's not an excuse to have that extra glass (or five) of wine later.

I did a little more researching and came up with a bit of a list for body parts and how quickly they turn over, just to share with y'all.


- The hair on your head could be anything up to 6 to 7 years old. 
- Each day your head hairs grow 0.5mm. 
- Body hair grows more slowly, about 0.27mm per day.
 - Your eyebrows renew themselves every 64 days.


- The surface of the cornea is covered in a thin layer of cells that is continually
renewed. Complete turnover is every 7 to 10 days. 
- Cells in the retina do not regenerate, which is why vision problems arise with age. However, stem cell treatments are beginning to target degenerating retinas.
- Researchers have managed to regenerate rods, the photoreceptors that capture dim light. But only in a Petri dish, so far.


- The epidermis or surface of the skin is replaced every couple of weeks. 
- Skin cells regenerate four times faster after a gentle injury, like ripping the top layer with sticky tape.


- Damaged nerve cells can regrow to some extent, as long as the nerve cell body is intact. 
- The rate of nerve regeneration after injury is thought to be around 2 to 3mm per day.


- The average age of a fat cell is 10 years. 
- Each year 10 per cent of your fat cells are replaced.


- Liver cells turn over every 300 to 500 days.
- The human liver has an amazing capacity to regenerate itself. Remove up to 70 per cent of the organ and it will grow back to its normal healthy size in as little as a couple of months.
- Surgeons have even removed as much as 90 percent of the liver, although recovery is incomplete.


- The epithelial cells or surface of the gut lining is replaced every 2 to 3 days, some say 5 days, the same as the stomach lining.
- Some cells last longer – those that release antimicrobial fluid last 6 to 8 weeks.
- The average age of the main part of the gut is 16 years.


- Your fingernails grow almost 3.5mm each month, although the little fingernail grows more slowly than the others.
- Toenails grow at a rate of 1.6mm each month and the big toenail grows fastest.


- The heart is one of the least regenerative organs of the human body. 
- A 25 year old turns over just 1 per cent of their heart cells ever year, and this figure decreases with age. 
- In the course of a normal lifespan, less than half of your heart cells are replaced.


- Your taste buds are replaced every 10 days.


- Our fingertips can grow back after injury – at least partly. 
- The best results are seen in children, who can regenerate a new fingertip within a few months. But it works for adults too. 
- For this to happen, you need an intact nail bed. The new fingertip has sensation and a fingerprint too.


- The lining of the bronchial tubes is replaced every 2-10 days.
- Microscopic air sacs called alveoli last 4 to 5 weeks.


- Oxygen-carrying red blood cells are replaced every 4 months or 120 days.
- The most common type of white blood cell, neutrophils, only last for a few hours. 

- Another important type called lymphocytes are replaced at a rate of 10,000 cells every second.


- The average age of a muscle cell is 15 years, though obviously you build more muscle with exercise.


- All your bones, the whole skeleton is completely replaced every 10 years.


The brain is the only part of the body that does not generate new neurons after its structure is complete - except in two specific regions: the olfactory bulb (your sense of smell) and the hippocampus, where initial memories of faces and places are stored.  So your cerebral cortex is the same age as you - we don't get new brains as we age.  Boo.

All really cool stuff, eh?  I'm hoping it inspires me to eat healthier and grow healthier new cells every second that I'm breathing.