Home Made Hair Gel

For my curly hair, I like to use a gel to define the curls and prevent my hair from frizzing out in a voluminous mass. I’m not fond of most of the products on the market as they are full of plasticizers and other goo I’d rather not have on my hair.

After a bit of research, I found several pages that discussed gel made from flax seeds and I eventually found a few recipes for it.  Since I don’t plan on making this for sale, I’m happy to share my personal experiences and concoction with you.



Personal Care Products & Allergies

Allergies are a big deal in our family.  Among the various members of my family, there are those with allergies or sensitivities to dairy, citrus, nuts, chocolate and gluten.

Of the above mentioned, the first four items are fairly easy to avoid, but the last, gluten, is not.  In addition to a niece, I also have a close friend with celiac disease, so I have been especially careful to learn about products and ingredients that contain gluten.

One thing that is important to know – anything labeled ‘Gluten Free’ can still contain up to 3% of trace gluten.  Also, most pharmaceuticals are prepared with gluten as a binder; capsules and gel caps are gluten based.  Caramel coloring nearly always contains gluten.  Beware also of personal care products that contain gluten: shampoo, conditioner, hair color, lotions … These items frequently contain gluten and are absorbed through the skin.

I am very cautious when formulating soaps (and eventually lotions, conditioners and shampoo) to ensure that they are 100% gluten free.  I do not plan to make any milk based soaps, and with the exception of coconut oil, I do not use nut oils, nor do I use wheat germ oils or any other gluten based grain oils.  I understand that rice bran oils originating from outside the US have been known to contain gluten.  The rice bran oil I use is produced in the Untied States and is gluten free.

I realize this limits my products, as many people are fond of goat’s milk soap and several of the oils I have chosen to exclude in my standard recipes, but feel that to best serve the widest range of people it is a good choice.  Knowing that my soap is free of certain allergens and vegan (I also have a vegetarian sister) makes them easier to gift.

With regard to the citrus and cocoa:  Citrus oils will be scenting a fair number of my soaps, as they are too popular to ignore, and cocoa butter will be a staple in my recipes, because some luxuries need to be indulged.

Getting ready for Autumn and Winter

Fall is sort of in the air and I’m making product for upcoming festivals and Christmas sales and Courtyard gardens.  This is the first year in many that Christmas has been on my radar before November, but with a 6 week minimum cure time, I’ve got to be finishing up production by the end of the month.

I will be at Immanuel Lutheran Church for their Fall Festival on October 5th.  Proceeds support local charities.  I’m told organizations that have benefited in the past include Habitat for Humanity and similar.

I will be at the Winter Festival and the Everson Senior Center on December 6th.

I’ll post updates of other markets, festivals and bazaars as I hear about them.

Soap Lake: The Tale of the Epic Mess

Oh woe is me.  My kitchen runneth over with a greasy, oily mess.

Today, I wish to warn you of the disasters that await when you leave a crock pot full of soap unattended.

So – this is what happened.  I had a batch of soap I was not happy with, due to a mis-measurement of the fragrance oil.  I’d halved the recipe, but failed to halve the fragrance.  This mistake rendered the soap softer than desired and looking not so great (Dare I call one of my glorious soaps ugly?).  The double fragrance wasn’t that great either.  How to fix it?

The light-bulb blazed!  I know – I’ll melt the unfortunate soap mistake in the crockpot with enough oil for another batch, melt it all together then add the necessary lye for the additional oils.  Sounded reasonable to me.  I’ve found that melting/rebatching soap can take ages and it frequently turns out lumpy.  I thought with the additional oil, the soap would melt easier and be much smoother.  I would blend it all together into a soupy mass then add the lye.  Sounded reasonable to me.

I typically use the ‘Low’ setting to melt soap, so reasonably thought (or so I thought) melting this on the warm setting over night would be just the ticket.   In my mind’s eye, I envisioned a warm soap soup ready for blending in the additional lye in the morning.  What I got was this:

Soap Volcano

Andy did one of those Spock/Vulcan eyebrow lifts at me with the quip, “Mt. Baker Blend?”  A relatively calm husband with a wicked sense of humor is a true blessing at times.  My reaction was, “Ah, Crap!  What a mess.”  His response was essentially, “Yup.”  Subtext – “Have fun with that.”  Yeah, he’s a funny guy alright.

Yes, it volcanoed – all over the kitchen counter and onto the floor.  While I wait for the greasy, oily, soapy, lumpy mess to cool, I decided to caution everyone on the dangers of overnight crock pot soap.  Do Not Try This at Home comes to mind, but more accurate would be Do Not Try This – EVER.

Many Thanks!


On Top of the Fridge






I’ve spent the last couple of weeks producing mass quantities of soap in 2 1/2 pound and 5 pound batches.  Different scents, colors and swirls.  It’s been fun, sometimes frustrating and hectic as I try to get this start up off the ground and keep up with my engineering business, too.  There have been more than a few late nights and some dinners out when the kitchen was overrun with soap and soap making paraphernalia.




I want to take this opportunity to thank my family for their support and patience during these crazy times, though I must say patience is wearing a bit thin as food becomes more sparse.  I’m the primary shopper and I’ve not kept up with that job very well.  So, to Andy and Samantha – Thank you for your feedback on name and logo ideas, for being perpetual product testers, for your understanding and for not moaning too loud when dinner wasn’t done until 8:00 (or later).

With the Everson-Nooksack Summer Festival (formerly Everson Days) fast approaching, I have finished with bar soap production and will be moving on to creme soap and scrubs while the cold process soaps cure.

I’m exited to announce that my products will be available for sale at Courtyard Gardens, our local Everson florist, after the summer festival.  Cheryl has been very encouraging and supportive of my enterprise and she and her husband, BC, have been enthusiastic testers of all my products.  The feedback Cheryl has provided as well as the product packaging and logo advice she offered have been valuable beyond measure.  Thank you Cheryl and BC!

To all the other brave souls who tested soaps and provided feedback – Thank You!  Lesley, Eric, Draughn, Patricia, Karen and Nadine.  Here’s to my mother-in-law, Lynne Stone, who unbeknownst to her was a tester of sorts as well – she was too chicken to volunteer, but I sent her some anyway.  FYI – she assures me she loves them.

Many thanks to my sister, Leigh, who is shipping her old soap molds and my parents, Elwin & Alice McGrew for their feedback and encouragement as well.  I also appreciate the enthusiastic responses from my nieces, Finley and Kieren.  “They smell really good!”  It’s hard to go wrong with hearts, flowers, butterflies and stars where 9 and 6 year old girls are concerned.   DSC04511

And another heartfelt Thank You, to my sister, Lesley, for her constant encouragement, business name and logo feedback/advice and unexpected but very welcome investment.

Oh – did I forget to mention how much I LOVE my soap cutter from Bramble Berry! DSC04496