Monthly Archives: April 2010

Invest in your community

I live in a small town – population approximately 2000 – give or take. We have one stop light, well it’s just a flasher at a 4-way stop.  We have one grocery store, one liquor store, a hardware store, a few gas stations, churches, schools, a library and several small businesses.  I like it here because it’s “Mayberry”.  

But…because it is “Mayberry”,  it is also extremely difficult to find a job here – and many folks commute to nearby towns for their jobs.  But our town is also 25 to 30 minutes to the next town, and to make the drive worthwhile the pay has to make financial sense.  For a lot jobs, the compensation just isn’t there.

I have started my own little business not quite a year ago…”Irish Twins Soap Co” which allows me to work from home.  It’s been extremely hard work – and the most fun I’ve ever had….and quite a journey of faith.  One of the things that I am acutely aware of is other small businesses in my community.  I have had the opportunity to learn a great deal – as these business owners have reached out and shared with me numerous nuggets of business wisdom.  The grassroots group of people are front and center in the laws of economics. 

As I spend more and more time meeting and getting to know those local merchants and being a local merchant myself (although I also sell online), I am convinced that it is absolutely essential to shop locally and invest in our own communities.  Local dollars mean local jobs.  Every dollar spent locally is an investment in your community.  A community that you share with others just like you.  Every dollar invested can mean expansion for goods and services that are able to be offered.  And buying local will save you valuable resources like gas and time.

So, think about buying flowers from the florist down the street. Support your local farmer’s markets, mom and pop gas stations, family-owned restraunts, art galleries, greenhouses, and bakeries.  It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, build your communities and keep build a local economy.

go to the the3/50project.net for lots of ideas about shopping locally! and leave me your comments – I’d love to have your feedback 😉

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What is in your skincare products?

Drugs and medicines today are often used in the form of transdermal skin patches. Why? It has has been shown to be up to 95% more effective than oral medications. The good news is our skin can be fed, nourished and treated from the outside with some wonderful substances. The bad news:  There are many not-so-good substances in the products you may be using on your skin.

When you think about just how much your skin can absorb, think about how important it is to use something natural. Our skin is the largest eliminatory organ in the body and our first line of immunity, is permeable to all chemicals. Medical research shows that significant amounts of cosmetic ingredients, including carcinogenic substances, penetrate the skin and end up in the blood stream. Many chemicals in cosmetics don’t cause obvious signs of toxicity on the skin but slowly poison us thorough repeated use.

Because we care, and we want only natural ingredients on our skin – we use only natural ingredients in our soaps.  All of our ingredients are natural including fruit and vegetable oils and butters,  herbs, botanicals and essential oils.  We choose not to use any artifical anything.  So we may not have fancy colors (the colors we do have occur naturally), we think our soap is the best because they are made the  “old school” way, hand-stirred in small batches.  Most contain essential oils with different therapeutic properties.  They are indeed “good for you & good for the earth”.

If you start reading ingredients you may find all sorts of chemicals and preservatives in your commercial cosmetic products.

Sodium Laurel/Laureth Sulfate
 Perhaps one of the most common chemical groups used in cosmetics, this sudsing agent gives liquid soaps and shampoos their foam-ability.  This harsh skin irritant may also cause the skin to dry out as well as a host of other allergic reactions like rashes, eye irritation, and dandruff. These sudsers can be damaging to the immune system, and their residue can show up in the heart, liver, and lungs.

Propylene Glycol
A solvent that is also used in antifreeze & brake fluid. Factory workers who handle propylene glycol must wear protective gear to prevent skin contact. That’s because exposure can cause eye and skin irritation, headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
    
Diethanolamine (DEA) + Triethanolamine (TEA)
 Long used in industrial strength lubricants and as surfactants (wetting agents that help products spread) in cosmetics, DEA and TEA are known eye, skin, nose, and throat irritants and can cause liver cancer in rats. 

PVP/VA Copolymer
While much of the haircare industry continues to use polyvinylpyrrolidone, a petroleum-derived chemical, some studies suggest its toxicity. It’s particularly harmful when inhaled, which is a problem because of its use as an anti-static agent and a binder for styling products such as hair sprays.

Stearalkonium Chloride

First used by the fabric and paper industries as a softener and an anti-static agent, stearalkonium chloride is now commonly found in the cream rinses and hair conditioners. Yet the hard facts on this cationic surfactant show that it is a toxin known to set off allergic reactions.
 
Petroleum + Mineral Oil
Both of these petrolatum-derived products are prized by the cosmetic mainstream for their emollient properties.  The problem is  when you have mineral oil on your skin, nothing goes in and nothing can get out.  Mineral oil in lotions forms a barrier when applied, so that skin can’t eliminate toxins. With repeated use, moisturizers that include either petroleum or mineral oil can clog pores, setting off skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis.  This petroleum by-product may contain cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH).
   
Artifical Colorants: 
Although make your favorite products look inviting, synthetic tints can contain a host of unnamed, and unsafe, ingredients. 
   
Synthetic Fragrances
The catchall terms “fragrance,” “parfum,” and “perfume” can conceal thousands of synthetic ingredients. Numerous reports have linked fragrance oils to such conditions as birth defects, cancer, brain damage, respiratory disorders, chronic skin reactions, and environmental damage through waste water. Synthetic fragrances, including phthalates, can be absorbed into the body through the skin and inhaled as fumes.

Make a point to carefully read ingredient labels and choose all-natural ingredients for optimum healthy skincare.

Irish Twins handmade glycerin & rustic soaps

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Making Caribbean Breeze…

I was making a couple of batches of soap today – one Caribbean Breeze which has a blend of Vetiver, Bay and Lime.   Perfect for summer days, and an affordable “‘trip” to the Caribbean 😉

A bit about Vetiver essential oil….. Vetiver essential oil is used for emotional grounding and stabilizing the emotions. It is considered relaxing to an overheated, hyperactive mind an nurturing to an insecure self-identity. The oil may then be suited to the type of individual who constantly strives for perfection, but who loses touch with the ability to absorb and replenish, not letting things just be.

Vetiver essential oil is said to provide stimulation to the endocrine glands (in cases of estrogen and progesterone insufficiency associated with premenstrual syndrome as well as menopause) and circulatory system, and may generally support a weakened immune system. Vetiver Oil has been noted to have an effect on lowering rapid heart rate and breathing, helping return the cardiorespiratory system to a calmer state.

Other well known traditional uses for Vetiver oil include application for arthritis symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Vetiver oil may also be useful acne, anxiety and depression.

So I took a few pics today and thought I’d give you a quick tour of soapmaking in my studio…..

Stirring a batch

blending the ingredients....till it comes to trace

A look at my stash to essential oils…..

A selection of therapeutic grade essential oils

Adding the essential oils – when the soap is just at “trace”….

Blending in the essential oils makes the studio smell amazing!

Almost done....

Adding dividers makes cutting the soap super easy!

tuck it away under a stack of cozy blankets and let the curing process begin....

 

Soap cures for a couple of days in the molds – then is unmolded, cut into bars and placed on the rack to cure for 4 – 6 weeks.

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A hug for the planet!

Going green gives the planet a hug!  Incorporating a few green practices in your home can make a big difference for our planet-home.  Consider the following and choose a few to practice each week.  Leave us a comment and let us know what you’re doing to keep it green!

  1. Carry reusable bags with you anytime you shop.
  2. Recycle just one more thing each week.
  3. Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
  4. Skip bottled water, use filtered tap water.
  5. Decorate with plants to improve air quality.
  6. Add a low-flow showerhead.
  7. Turn down the thermostat.
  8. Unplug chargers and appliances when you’re not using them.
  9. Recycle electronics through e-waste collection programs.
  10. Sign up for recall alerts at recalls.gov.
  11. Take shorter showers.
  12. Plant bee-loving plants (sunflowers geraniums, pumpkins, blackberries, rosemary, sage, honeysuckle).
  13. Share toys with another mom when your child outgrows them.
  14. Use the microwave or the toaster oven to cook small meals to save energy.
  15. Turn off the water while shaving or brushing your teeth.
  16. Keep drinking water in the refrigerator instead of letting the faucet run until the water is cool.
  17. Scrape rather than rinse dishes before loading into the dishwasher.
  18. Repair leaky toilets, which can waste 200 gallons of water a day.
  19. Sweep outside instead of using a hose.
  20. Use durable coffee mugs instead of paper or Styrofoam cups.
  21. Use cloth napkins and hand towels.
  22. Set your water heater to 120 degrees – also a good rule of thumb to help prevent burns.
  23. Buy paper products, like toilet paper, made from recycled paper.
  24. Compost food scraps, grass, yard clippings and dead plants.
  25. Change heating and cooling system filters every month.
  26. Install a programmable thermostat if you’re away from home for set periods of time every day.
  27. Insulate your home, pipes and water heater.
  28. Buy unbleached coffee filters.
  29. Use rags instead of paper towels to wipe up spills.
  30. Buy biodegradable wax paper.
  31. Buy eggs in cardboard cartons instead of foam packaging, or better yet, buy farm-fresh eggs at your farmer’s market.
  32. Use phosphate-free laundry detergent – like our all-natural lavender laundry concentrate -http://www.irishtwinssoaps.com
  33. Use a little less detergent than manufacturers recommend.
  34. Keep car tires properly inflated to save gas and tire life.
  35. Have your tires rotated and balanced every 6,000-8,000 miles.
  36. Buy cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers, which can take 500 years to decompose.
  37. Give kids a lunch box or insulated cooler for lunch instead of a paper or plastic sack.
  38. In cafeterias and fast food restaurants, take only the napkins, straws, condiments and plastic drink tops you plan to use.
  39. Print and copy on both sides of paper when possible.
  40. Save files and e-mails electronically and don’t print out hard copies unless you have to.
  41. If you are leaving a room for more than 15 minutes, turn off the lights.
  42. Carpool to school, sporting events and shopping.
  43. Turn trash such as Popsicle sticks, newspapers and used office paper into craft projects.
  44. Wash and reuse sandwich baggies and other plastic bags.
  45. Donate your old computer to a community or senior citizens center.
  46. When you replace your cell phone, donate it or pass it on to a new user.
  47. Don’t air condition an empty room.
  48. Walk, ride your bike or take public transportation.
  49. Pay your bills online.
  50. Dry towels and clothes on a rack instead of in the dryer.
  51. Wash laundry in cold water instead of hot.
  52. Drive the speed limit.
  53. Before buying new items, check online sites for gently used options.
  54. Collect rainwater to water your houseplants and garden.
  55. Make rags out of old towels and t-shirts.
  56. Adjust your refrigerator temperature to 37°F and the freezer to 0°F.
  57. Swap out one meat dish for a veggie dish each week.
  58. If the line at the drive-thru is long, park and go in.
  59. Use a push lawn mower instead of a power model.
  60. Plant native flowers and shrubs that need less fertilizer and pesticides.
  61. Replace the air filters in your car regularly.
  62. Install dimmer switches.
  63. Wrap an insulation blanket around your water heater.
  64. Get off junk mail lists at dmachoice.org.
  65. Buy concentrated laundry detergent to save packaging.
  66. Dust the coils underneath and on the back of your refrigerator.
  67. Combine the week’s errands into one trip.
  68. Support local farmers by shopping at the farmers market or curb stands.
  69. Buy unbleached paper.
  70. Plant perennials instead of annuals in the garden.
  71. Turn on the ceiling fan instead of the air conditioner.
  72. Turn off your heater’s pilot light in the summer.
  73. Fill a jar with water and put it in your toilet tank so you use less water with each flush.
  74. Reuse wrapping paper or use newspaper paper to wrap presents.
  75. Read the newspaper online.
  76. Don’t litter.
  77. Avoid aerosol spray cans.
  78. Buy items you use frequently in bulk.
  79. Take extra stuff out of your car trunk to save gas.
  80. In public restrooms, use the warm-air hand dryer instead of paper towels.
  81. Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.
  82. Clean the lint filter in your dryer after every load.
  83. Rent or borrow seldom-used items such as chain saws, ladders and party decorations.
  84. Take your car to a carwash instead of washing it in the driveway.
  85. Use the library instead of buying books and DVDs.
  86. Have a clothing swap party.
  87. Don’t preheat the oven or open it during cooking.
  88. Opt out of receiving phone books and Yellow Pages.
  89. Send e-cards in place of the traditional paper variety.
  90. Use bar soap instead of liquid to save packaging and costs.  We’ve got all-natural soap that is good for you and good for the earth!  http://www.irishtwinssoaps.com
  91. Skip the treadmill and walk or run outside instead.
  92. Have your paycheck direct deposited.
  93. Make your own cleaning supplies with non-toxic ingredients, such as baking soda and vinegar.
  94. Download music and software instead of buying it on discs.
  95. Opt for glass bottles instead of aluminum cans when you buy beverages.
  96. Every time you toss something out, challenge yourself to think about how it might impact the planet, and see if you can think of ways to lower its impact, or buy less next time.
  97. When remodeling, pick low-VOC paints and carpeting, light colored roofing, and windows and insulation with a high R-Value.
  98. Plant shade trees by your home.
  99. When remodeling install dual flush toilets and heating systems that heat from the floor up, instead of pushing air down.
  100. Take only what you need

All-natural cleaners

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5 Reasons Why Essential Oils are Good for YOU…

Essential oils are oils derived plant seeds, leaves, stems, or bark.  The oils are most commonly extracted by steam distillation, a process dating back to ancient Mesopotamia.  Essential oils can be used by themselves or oftentimes blended.

We choose to use essential oils in our soaps because of their properties. Simply, they are good for you, they smell great and they each have properties that are beneficial to good health.

Here are 5 reasons why essential oils are good for you.

1.  Essential oils have anti-bacterial properties, and many are anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasite.

2. Armoatherapy:  essential oils have long been valued for their mood-enhancing properties. Our sense of smell is interrelated with the limbic system, an area of the brain concerned with emotion and memory.  Essential oils can uplift the spirits, balance emotions, and lift depression.

3. Great for your skin… They balance sebum (the skin’s natural oil secretion) and help to tone the complexion in supporting capillary function.

4.  Effective for skin disorders such as ezcema, inflammation, dry skin, acne, itching, psoriasis, rosacea, etc.

5.  Esssential oils are derived from plants which are a sustainable resource.

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My head is whirling with soapy ideas…

It’s Spring and I am finding my head spinning with all kinds of ideas that I want to try.  As our company grows bigger we may need to streamline our product line for efficiency, but I can’t seem to help thinking about all sorts of soapy stuff. 

We have a new line of soap dishes which thrill me because they are handmade, using ceramic and recycled glass wine and beer bottles!  They are Eco-Friendly and they are simply beautiful.  A really nice compliment to a handmade bar of soap.

The artist who makes these works out of her studio at home.  I love that because is a a free thinker, she is creative and her art is “good for the earth”…. We like to support others who are kind to the earth  😉

I am thinking that I would like to have her design custom shave bowls for our shaving soap.  A little something for the guys – with a boar’s hair brush, for old school shaving…look for that down the line! 

Other things I’m thinking of include soap logs (where you cut your own slices as you go), and guest soaps which would be perfect for hotels and bed and breakfasts.  I take my own soap now when traveling, but would love it if I stayed somewhere with handmade soap. It’s the little things….

Bath Tea is the other product that we love to make but have found that people don’t completely understand them…. for those of us that like a good soak in the tub, these are “tea bags” filled with herbs, botanicals and essential oils that are thrown in the tub with the hot water.  Essentially you “steep” in the fragrances and the soothing properties from the herbs/botanicals. 

Leave us a comment if you have any ideas or suggestions….we would love to hear from you!

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