Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Which soap dish works the best?

Oh yeah, I’ve heard this one a bunch. Standing over the pile of soap dishes, picking up one, then another, turning it over, staring at the bottom, holding it up, looking some more. Then turning to me, completely bewildered as to which one to buy, they ask, “which one is the best?” – hoping that I will stop the madness and just hand over the perfect one. It’s not hard. And basically they all work the same. But I don’t know where you keep your soap, so we have to do a little back and forth. I’ll cut the guessing game short and cover all the basics here.

Why this kind of dish

I have two styles on the web site, but often have one or two more styles at any given show. All of the dishes are either draining, with slats or holes, or ridged, allowing the soap to dry out between uses. This is helpful in adding longevity to your soap bar. Kind of obvious, but soap sitting in water tends to get soggy, slimy and melt more quickly.  Nobody wants to grab that mucky pile of goo to clean up with. So little cupped dishes or bowls that hold water are not the best place to store your soap at the side of the sink, or in the shower.  Look for something that allows the water to drain out, or holds your bar up and out of any little puddles. My soap bars are hard, and they last approximately three times longer than commercial soaps, but still – if you’re going to pay a little extra for the soap, you want to get the most out of it, amiright?

What it’s made of

These are made of beechwood, which is a pretty darn tough wood, used for furniture and flooring too, similar to oak. It’s attractive in that natural, organic, non-fussy way that we’re pretty fond of here in the Pacific Northwest. It won’t break like a glass or ceramic dish, becoming dangerous in a wet, slippery bathroom. And contrary to expectation, it really will last a long time too. They are all coated with a tough, durable poly finish, making it waterproof and resistant to mold, mildew and fungus. They are easily cleaned of excess soap residue with a little warm water. No, they will not last forever (nothing does). Yes, wood will eventually break down in a wet environment. But we’re talking years, not weeks. And at the super cheap price of $4 each, can be easily replaced when your old one begins to look a little tired.

How to choose which one

When it's time to pick a new soap dish for yourself,  there are a couple of factors to consider. First, size. Lots of people seem to be looking for something to set the soap on inside a little built in compartment in their shower wall. I guess you need to eyeball that. If your space is more open, then size isn't an issue, but where it is located and who is using it makes a bigger difference.

Tub sides, shower shelves and countertops are different spaces for dishes. If you have issues with water draining through the bottom onto a surface, then choose the ridged style instead of the ones with holes or slats. You know your own family best – if there’s usually a lot of water splashing, suds ahoy, and you want to keep your counters less messy, take this into account. All of them will work well, so consider your own cleaning preferences, your family’s habits, the surface you are placing it on, and it will be clear (hopefully) which one will suit you best. And if you still have questions, I can still talk you through it, just give me a holler.

Need a new soap dish?  Head over HERE.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Anacortes Arts Festival 2014

I am delighted to say that I am an invitee again this year at the Anacortes Arts Festival.  It's a huge honor and even though I've been on that last for several years in a row, I'm very humbled to be a part of that group. This is one of my best and busiest shows all year and I am prepping like mad to have enough of everything to bring you all.  Sooo much looking forward to seeing 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 who transform six blocks of historic downtown. Extending down to the water, Arts at the Port explores the theme "Air, Earth, Water" through over 40 regional fine artists and a Youth Art Exhibition. Working Studios feature demonstrating artists. And we're introducing ink alley, a new indie craft area!

Hands-on Youth Activities spark the creativity of the youngest Festival-goers. We offer regional and ethnic foods at our Island Eatery food court and dispersed throughout the Festival. Wine, beer and spirits are available at three Festival locations, including our new waterfront pub. Entertainmentis expanding to three stages and includes lively rock, country, jazz and world music, as well as performance art."

With a new director comes a few new changes to the show this year.  And they all look pretty awesome!

"ink alley is our new indie craft area intersecting Commercial at 6th street. Indie craft is a new trend with a younger, more urban aesthetic - often incorporating repurposed materials.  It will feature more local artists 
(like Slow Loris who designed the logo).
Our new Waterfront Pub & Port Stage is located on the Port Dock at the far north end of the Festival.  The pub will offer micro-brews, wine & limited spirits. While you sip, enjoy the lineup on our newest stage including cirque performance, dance & theater. 
Working Studios is a new name for our demonstrating artist area.  This years exciting lineup includes a public art graffiti project, a steampunk installation, living sculptures, chalk art, blacksmithing, stone carving, and a community tree project.
Look for the addition of food trucks, disbursed throughout the Festival this year.   They offer unique food items, coffees and snacks in compact, creative vehicles."   

Here's the scoop --

Dates: Aug 1 - 3
Hours:  Fri - Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5
Soapworks Studio Booth Location:  513C (same spot as last few years)
Commercial Ave btwn 5th & 6th Streets, just a few doors south of Gere-A-Deli, in the  center row

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Jetted Tub?

Ok, so more on the Dead Sea Bath Salts. I missed an important bit in my blog post yesterday. So I've edited it to add in the answer to the jetted tub question . . . 

(here in case you missed it:

Top question - can they be used in a jetted tub? The answer is a very definitive, um, "maybe." First and foremost, it's important to check with your spa manufacturer since the internal working of each one can be different. You want to make sure that using the salt in your jetted tub will not void your warranty or get you in "hot water" so to speak. But having said that, the salt is all-natural, unrefined, with no additives and goes through an extra inspection process to remove any little rocks or foreign bits. They dissolve so quickly and easily that by the time you can drop your towel, the water will be silky smooth, and with a quick swish, you will be able to tell if there is a tiny little pebble on the bottom somewhere before turning on the jets. If you've used bath salts in your tub before, these will be no more risky. You are probably the bigger expert on how your particular spa works, way more than I am. But I've been assured that for most circumstances they will be perfectly fine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dead Sea Salts. They are not dead.

I’ve gotten so many questions over the years about the Dead Sea salts, but probably my favorite is “why are they dead?” So let’s start there. The salts are not dead.  They come from the Dead Sea and when you’re talking about the good stuff, these soaking salts are truly unique.

What It Is

For over two thousand years (dude, that’s biblical times) the Dead Sea has been revered for it’s therapeutic, beautifying, miracle-working waters. Located between the countries of Jordan and Israel, the Dead Sea is the deepest hyper-saline lake in the world, having a total salt concentration that is 10 times higher than ocean water. Situated 1280 feet below sea level, it’s actually the lowest place on earth.  The Dead Sea also has a unique composition of brine, comprising magnesium, potassium and calcium chlorides in addition to a high concentration of bromides.  Its rich, briny water is so thick with mineral salts that it actually feels like oil. People float effortlessly in its dense waters, bobbing like corks, making it difficult to even swim in. If you're headed there, bring a book.  You can float on your back and read as if you've got the best air mattress in the world.

What It's For

Dead Sea salt is beneficial in so many ways, alleviating skin problems, joint problems, pain, and much more.  Skin, being the largest organ of the body, absorbs the salts, minerals and compounds into the body, having a positive effect on circulation and metabolism. Arthritis, eczema, muscular pain, rheumatism, and psoriasis are just some of the conditions that are benefited by long soaks in these rejuvenating salts. As it has for centuries, the Dead Sea continues to attract tens of thousands of visitors every year to its many resorts and treatment spas.

Physiological benefits:

•      Detoxification of metals, toxins and impurities trapped in the skin.
•      Stimulation of the circulatory system.
•      Relief of various forms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle, joint and back pain.
•      Relief of skin irritations and increase new skin growth.
•      Deep cleansing and moisture restoration.
•      Promotion of elasticity in aging skin.

•      Relaxation of nerves and reduction of stress levels.

Benefits of Dead Sea minerals and trace elements

Dead Sea salts contain more than 21 beneficial minerals proven to have significant physiological benefits. Some Dermatologists recommend Dead Sea salt baths for patients with psoriasis, eczema, and other dry skin conditions.

Sulfur: Plays a huge role in health of the body, including liver function, digestion and absorption of nutrients, plus maintenance of hair, skin and nails. Aids in conversion of toxins into non-toxins. Necessary for synthesizing collagen and allowing cells to breathe.

Magnesium: Important for combating both stress and fluid retention, slowing skin aging and calming the nervous system. Essential for cell metabolism. Accelerates cell regeneration, tightens, tones, and retains moisture in skin.

Iodine: Maintains body's energy level. Vital for strong, healthy hair, skin, teeth and nails. Destroys toxins and aids in the property utilization of calcium and silicone.

Potassium: Energizes the body, helps to balance skin moisture and is a crucial mineral to replenish following intense exercise. Antibacterial and astringent properties. Aids in regulating water balance, assists skin in absorption and expulsion of waste products. Aids in regeneration and skin cell growth. Also regulates muscle contractions and the nervous system.

Sodium chloride: Promotes skin's proper pH balance. Protects against fluid loss and is a natural antiseptic. Sodium, like potassium, plays an important role in assisting cells absorb nourishment and expel waste. Sodium is also important for the lymphatic fluid balance, aiding immune system function.

Calcium chloride: Effective at preventing water retention, increasing circulation and strengthening bones and nails. Alkaline and necessary for strengthening cell membranes and cleansing pores. Considered a building block for the corrective tissue under the skin's surface.

Bromine: Bromides ease muscle stiffness and relax muscles. Soothes and treats skin ailments. Contains antiseptic and purifying qualities and is also a natural antibiotic.

Chlorine:  Necessary to maintain correct balance of alkaline and acid in the body.  Vital for cell metabolism.

Bitumen: Natural tar that acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Zinc: Promotes collagen creation and aids in wound healing and protein synthesis. Beneficial for rosacea patients.

Other minerals and trace elements include: Strontium, silica, silicon, rubidium, selenium, molybdenum, phosphorus, manganese, lithium, copper, iron and sodium bicarbonate.

Soapworks Studio Dead Sea Bath Salts

Soapworks Studio uses 100% pure Dead Sea salt -- unrefined, solar evaporated and harvested from the Southern Dead Sea in Israel where the mineral content is the highest. They are packaged in 16 oz plastic bottles for ease of transport and safety in the bathroom - meaning they are lighter to carry or ship, plus no fear of breakage. At $8 per bottle, these are some of the most reasonably priced Dead Sea salts you will find anywhere. Period. Because I want people to use them. Often. And not have them just gathering dust on the bathroom counter because they are too precious or pricey. (Go grab yourself some of them here.)

How To Use Them

Since these are so concentrated, you don't need to toss in the entire bottle for one bath. A small handful or quarter cup works fine, especially for foot baths or a "regular" size bath tub. A half cup when you need a little extra pampering or you've got a great big soaker tub. And if you are treating a skin condition, use half a bottle and spend at least 20 minutes in the bath - repeating this several times a week (your dermatologist probably has a recommendation). Swish around to dissolve and dive in. Come out glowing and silky smooth.

Top question - can they be used in a jetted tub? The answer is a very definitive, um, "maybe." First and foremost, it's important to check with your spa manufacturer since the internal working of each one can be different. You want to make sure that using the salt in your jetted tub will not void your warranty or get you in "hot water" so to speak. But having said that, the salt is all-natural, unrefined, with no additives and goes through an extra inspection process to remove any little rocks or foreign bits. They dissolve so quickly and easily that by the time you can drop your towel, the water will be silky smooth, and with a quick swish, you will be able to tell if there is a tiny little pebble on the bottom somewhere before turning on the jets. If you've used bath salts in your tub before, these will be no more risky. You are probably the bigger expert on how your particular spa works, way more than I am. But I've been assured that for most circumstances they will be perfectly fine.

Hop in and spend some time soaking in a Dead Sea bath to relax, relieve stress and muscle tension, detoxify and increase circulation, soothe skin irritations, and enhance your skin’s own natural radiance.

Splash. Soak. Glow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blogging. Since the year Twitter was born.

I've been trying to write a few blog posts today. I'm a little behind on getting the first drafts done. So I am feeling pressured to do it quickly. Which doesn't always make the best conditions for writing.

Anyway, it's felt like a struggle. And the end result at the moment is not good. They are ramble-y and not entertaining even if the facts are basically right.

I had an a-ha moment late in the afternoon that maybe I'd covered these topics before and would have something to sort of pull from.  No, not copy. But get inspired and at least check to make sure I wasn't saying all the same things again.

What I realized is that I have been blogging since January of 2006. That is a long time. Mostly just blogging to myself, and sometimes my Mom checks in. Possibly a few other peeps from time to time.

2006 was the year Twitter was born. And the Winter Olympics were held in Turin, Italy.  Anybody even remember that?  I wrote more prolifically that year than any other. I suppose it was practice. And lack of focus.

What does this all mean? Nothing. I'm totally brain fried. My writing today is sucky. And after this many years doing it, I feel like I should be better at it. And I don't even know if anybody is reading along.

So I'll just finish this up with...nothing. That's it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The last of the lavender bags

These lavender bags? the ones I sold a ton of this past weekend? Are about to be discontinued. I had 3 different suppliers that I bought the bags from. The first supplier discontinued carrying them about 6 months ago. So I was just buying even more from the biggest supplier on the planet. Who also ran out of them about 3 months ago. And then (in panic mode) I found another supplier who still had them and bought a bunch. Today when I went to re-order - they are discontinued from there too. I got a small little supply to last the next bit down the road, but not long.

Styles change they said. The natural leafy look is not trending any more they said. The look now is moving more towards fashion. Whatever that means. Little black dress pouches? Anyway, I will not be able to keep these going. If you need some, order now or catch me in Anacortes in a couple of weeks.

And please - if you have any opinions about what kind of bag you'd like to see in the future, let me know. Tiger print? Lacy handkerchief type? Plain burlap? I've even seen little country western bandanna type. None of them rocked my world. I have no idea what to do next.

Buy here now while they last!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Gig Harbor Art Festival - July 19 & 20

This weekend is the 30th annual Gig Harbor Summer Art Festival

What they say:

"More than 120 artists and craftspeople will show and sell their work at this year's Art Festival. You'll see many familiar favorites and you'll also have a chance to meet many new artists who will be with us for the first time. We know you'll love what you see! 
We'll also have music, food vendors and lots of cool activities for kiddos including face painting by local artists and art-making projects thanks to Arcadia Montessori School."

Gig Harbor is such a beautiful place and a great idea for a day trip.  I'd love to see you there!

Dates:  July 19 & 20
Location:  Judson Street, downtown Gig Harbor
Hours:  Sat 10-6, Sun 10-5
Booth location: space #42, approx mid way, parking lot/post office side of the street

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beach House - Got a spare one?

Everyone on Earth must have some kind of fantasy of owning the perfect little beach house or cottage.  Probably it differs widely - breezy hacienda on the Mexican playa, clapboard cottage on Nantucket, or sleek white stucco on some Greek Isle -  but everybody has some idea of what their paradise would be.

I've got several versions. Pretty much anything would do as long as it's on the water and I can hear the waves from my bed. In summertime, my beach house obsession gets a little stronger. And while I still don't have one of my own, I daydream about it, and make Beach House scented soap and spray to spur my imagination.

The spray comes out some time in June and gets spritzed around here and there when I need a little pick-me-up. And usually there's a bar of Beach House soap in the shower, no matter what else is lingering in the dish.

Just yesterday I put a fresh bar in the bathroom, and I guess I wasn't using it for a couple of weeks. I realized how darn much I love that scent. It's so fresh and gorgeous, transporting me to someplace by the sea in seconds.

It's the perfect blend of ocean and herbs.  The ocean part is almost briny, that little hit of rosemary and sage give it a depth of seaweed and tide pools.  The barely there whiff of mint is the coolness, which  makes it fresh and clean, and the sweetness of the lavender brings it all together and smoothes it out, like a soft breeze.  That's my take on it anyway.

Maybe your beach house needs to smell like limes, salt and tequila.  I don't know.  I'm good with waves and herbs. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm heading off to dip my toes in the sand and dig for seashells. . .

Monday, July 07, 2014

West Seattle Summerfest

This weekend is the West Seattle Summerfest.  Wahoo!!

I love this show every summer.  It's the perfect neighborhood festival, where everyone comes to hang out and visit with friends and neighbors.  The restaurants lining California Ave all have little sidewalk areas set up so you can watch the action.  There are live bands, with music stages at both ends of the street, plus a beer garden.  Stores have special sidewalk sales.  The vendors are a big mix of anything and everything - including commercial businesses, imports, handmade stuff, the works.  Families come during the day to do the jump-y/bouncy games and kids activities.  Working people head over in the evening for dinner and entertainment.  The West Seattle Hi Yu pageant girls make an appearance. Sometimes we even see Pirates.

Stop by for brunch or the Farmer's Market on Sunday and check us out.  Or head over Friday night for a little happy hour and stay for the music.  Whatever fits in your schedule.  It's all a good time.

Official hours for vendors are different than the official hours of the show, so some vendors may close earlier - just fair warning.

Hours of show:  Fri 10-8, Sat 10-8, Sun 11-8 (July 11-13)
Hour for vendors:  Fri 10-6, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-6
Location:  West Seattle Junction, intersection of Alaska & California Ave, plus a block in each direction on California Ave.
Booth Location: Space #94.  Very close to intersection, first set of tents north, on west side of street, maybe a storefront or so up from Easy Street on that corner.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Wishing you an extraordinary Independence Day!

I'm so excited to be celebrating the wedding today of two of my favorite people in the world.  It's a double-trouble holiday today, not your ordinary grilling and chilling kind of holiday.  We've got to make some special memories today!

Off to decorate and enjoy every minute . . .

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Red, White and Blue All Through

Happy 4th of July!  Hip Hip Hooray for Independence Day!

As you read that, maybe you’re scoffing at the very idea of being patriotic. It’s so easy for us in the US to be critical of our country. We believe “America” equals our politics, or our history, or any number of issues, systems, or beliefs which bitterly divide those of us who live here.

That is, until we are at a sports event like the Olympics or World Cup Soccer.  Then we wave our flags until we’re literally red, white and blue in the face. Why is it so easy to cheer for the US in sports and not for other reasons? Maybe it’s a simple contest, pitting us clearly on one side, and the game ends in a few short hours? But it seems to unite us like little else does. The excitement is contagious and you can't help but get caught up in the crowd of people all rooting and hoping for the same thing.

But isn’t that what our country is at heart anyway? We are a nation of people that was built on a set of shared values that all people are equal and that we all have the same rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  I am totally hoping and rooting for that. Americans still fight daily for our freedom and our happiness, here and around the globe.  We believe so strongly in our values that we fight for the people of other nations to have the same rights too. We believe that everyone should have the same opportunities to be free to choose the lives they want to live and to be happy.

All the grumbling is just differences in perspective on how to get there, but at its core it’s ultimately still the same principle. We are a community of people who believe that things can always be better. We are always striving to improve our circumstances for ourselves and for our community – a better future for our kids, less struggle for our neighbors in need, rebuilding after disasters, or simply voicing our opinions on any and every issue that affects our ability to live happy, healthy lives.

There are a lot worse nations to live in, as we see in the news every day - just sayin'. Plus, we’re not quitters. We don’t just shrug our shoulders and accept lesser circumstances. At the bare minimum, we sit around and complain. Or we get out there and protest. And in growing numbers, we get out there and do the work that needs to be done. We don’t sit idly by.

I, myself, am grateful to live in a country where happiness and freedom are the ultimate goal. And where the people around me also believe that we can always better ourselves and our communities and our nation by smart choices, hard work, and a willingness to make it happen.

Reason to celebrate. And I love this holiday even more because I’m completely smitten by fireworks. I absolutely love them. So much so that when I die I want my ashes to be blown up in a firework display instead of tossed over the side of a boat or cooped up in a dusty urn somewhere. That part doesn’t have to wait til the 4th of July. But having a picnic or big outdoor bbq, wearing flip flops, waving sparklers – that’s just extra ice cream on the pie.

I’m not the cheerleading type, but one day a year, I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my neighbors (some of whom sacrificed everything to move to America so they could live a better life and give their children a hopeful future) and feel my heart fill with pride for the ol’ red, white and blue. Cuz the anthem means a lot more than the start of a ball game, yo.