Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

I would like to take a moment to introduce our readers to a popular and well enjoyed festival here in China. Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. While that name is the English translation the Chinese call it, Zhōngqiū jié (中秋节). My first introduction to the festival was a tame 2 hour celebration last year in the USA and I was told that it was called the Moon Festival. This is true, but it isn’t the official name. The festival always occurs on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The Chinese may use the Gregorian calendar for official business and record keeping, but they use a lunar calendar for celebrations and determining when the best times are for a person to do things that cause life changes, like getting married, starting new projects, moving and even having children. :)

Anyway, back to the Mid-Autumn Festival. This festival has a long history filled with traditions and stories. While the festival has been mentioned in ritual descriptions from 3,000 years ago, the festival became popular during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD). While events vary from region to region of China, the people spend time with their families, eat moon cakes and watch the moon in appreciation while telling stories. There are two varieties of stories that are told particularly for the moon festival and I have found them to be fascinating.

The first story I heard was about Houyi (后羿, Hòu​ Yì) and his wife, Chang’e (嫦娥, Cháng’é). According to the story I was told, Houyi and Chang’e had been immortals who had angered the other gods and had been banished to live on earth as mortals. One day, the ten birds that were the alternating suns of the world, circled the world together scorching the earth. The Emperor of China, Emperor Yao commanded Houyi, a master archer, to shoot down nine of the suns to protect the earth. In payment for saving the earth, Emperor Yao gave Houyi a pill that gave eternal life, but only half was needed for one person. Houyi hid the pill in a box at his home. Some time later, Emperor Yao summoned Houyi to help with another event affecting the country.

While Houyi was away, Chang’e found herself suffering from boredom. She began examining her husband’s things and found the pill. Houyi returned at that moment and Chang’e was so startled, she swallowed the whole pill. She started to float into the sky because of the overdose. Although Houyi wanted to shoot her in order to prevent her from floating further, he could not bear to aim his bow at her. Chang’e kept on floating until she landed on the Moon. When Chang’e landed on the Moon, she coughed up half the pill. She asked the Jade Rabbit, the rabbit who lived on the moon, to compound another pill for her to return to earth and her husband. The Jade Rabbit consented if she would help him with making the elixirs for the gods while he tried to make a pill just like the one she had swallowed. Today, the Jade Rabbit is still trying to make a pill by mixing and grinding various herbs.

The second story I heard was about the overthrow of the Mongol rule. This story has not been supported by historical records, but it does make a good story. The Mongols had been ruling China during the Yuan Dynasty (1280-1368 AD). The Han people tried to rebel, but as group gatherings were banned, a rebellion was difficult to plan. When the leaders of the rebellion noted that the Mongols did not eat moon cakes, one of the advisers suggested they time the rebellion to coincide with the Mid-Autumn Festival. After seeking and receiving permission to distribute moon cakes to the Han Chinese residents as a blessing of longevity for the Mongol Emperor. Inside each moon cake was a piece of paper that said, “”Kill the Mongols on the 15th day of the 8th month.” The night of the 15th day of the 8th month, the rebels attacked and overthrew the Mongol government. They were then able to establish the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD).

No matter the stories and traditions, the Chinese government didn’t make the Mid-Autumn Festival a public and official holiday until 2008. The past month has been filled with hubbub as people send moon cakes to friends and family far away, bakeries and tea shops offer specials for moon cakes, and the parks are cleaned and decorated for the night of the festival.

I was able to visit a local branch of a cake store here in Beijing and take pictures of the moon cakes to share with you. While I can’t share the actual moon cakes, the pictures are pretty!

May your day be a good day and I hope you enjoy the moon tonight!

Stacks of boxes for moon cakes.

A box for moon cakes.
Individually wrapped moon cakes for sale.

Shelves filled with different flavors of moon cakes.
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Freebie Friday!

Argan Oil
Can you believe that September is almost over? Sunday will be the last day of the month. I guess since you know what today is, you also know what happens today!

Before I go on to the giveaway of the week, I have to give Joy a round of applause for sharing her formulating and testing of the Bottoms Up Cream. What a great peek into the testing process and the mind/goals of a mom!

I would also like to remind our readers that we still have some of our freebie giveaways available. Taylor’s Shrink Band Special, Joy’s Pomegranate Flavor Special and my Envelope Special all still have available items to be requested as free additions to orders!

Now, onto this week’s giveaway! This week we are giving away some partial items from our Production Department. Many of the partial items are sent to the blog kitchen and our collection of partial items has gotten overwhelming! Not only are you helping us keep the blog kitchen clean, but you get to play with some new goodies too! This week’s goodies include a sample jar of Coarse Dead Sea Salt, a partial 8 oz bottle of Rosemary Oil Extract 2%, a partial 4 oz bottle of Argan Oil, and a partial 1 oz bottle of Egyptian Musk Fragrance Oil.

The winner for this week is … birdies! Congratulations! I will be sending you an e-mail for your mailing address. Your treasure box will be sent out on Monday!

Remember, if you comment any time during the week, you are automatically entered into the Freebie Friday Drawing.

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Classes Available Soon!

I’m excited to announce that we will have a few classes! We have scheduled classes for the middle of October in the Salt Lake area, Riverton to be exact. These classes will be a fun way to make extra gifts or stocking stuffers for the upcoming holidays while playing with (excuse me, I mean learning about) different products available in our catalog. Want to know the best part about these classes? You can make items and take them home! You can even make additional items to take home the same day (time permitting) for a nominal fee for each additional item.

Each class will introduce a variety of our bases as well as introducing the basics of making simple products from scratch. You can learn how easy it is to color, scent and experiment with each base.

Now, let’s talk about the classes!

Making Scrubs & Moisturizing Indulgences
In this class, students will make Salt Scrubs, Lip Balm, and Body Butter. These items are great gifts to those you know that are all about being pampered. What will you learn?

  • You will learn not only about our Lip Solutions, but also the basics of making lip balm from scratch.
  • You will scent and color your own jar of our Body Butter Base.
  • You will make a salt scrub with our Glycerin Scrub Base and also learn about making salt or sugar scrubs from simple ingredients.

The first class will be held on Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 6 pm. This class will last approximately 1 1/2 hours. The cost for this class is $20 and I promise that it is worth every penny!

Creams, Bubbles & Kisses
In this class, students will make Head to Toe Cream, Bubble Bath, and Lip Balm. This class is perfect for putting together gifts when you have birthdays, hurried holiday presents or a child demanding a gift for a friend’s party “this afternoon”. What will you learn?

  • You will learn not only about our Lip Solutions, but also the basics of making lip balm from scratch.
  • You will scent and color your own jar of our Head to Toe Cream Base.
  • You will also scent and color your own bottle of our Bubble Bath Base.

The first class will be held on Saturday, October 27, 2012 at 10 am. This class will last approximately 1 1/2 hours. The cost for this class is $20. Can you just feel the relief washing over you?

If you would like to sign up for one or two classes, please call our main office to register, 435-755-0863. We will get your information and then we will send you an e-mail with more details about the classes such as where, what you need bring, and more. Please note that classes are not designed for drop-in students and preregistration is required.  Payment for the class will be collected at the time of registration, not the day of the class. Our teachers are not able to arrange for payment beyond additional items made in the class when time permits. If you have any questions, please call us.

Want to pick up an order during your class? You can! Free shipping is offered to anyone wanting to pick up their order at the class and who allows us 3 business days to process the order. Remember, we must pack and drive these items to Salt Lake and make sure our teachers have sufficient supplies. Ask for the exact details when you call to register for the class.

We will be introducing more classes and dates in November and December so keep checking in with us to see what is upcoming!


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Crazy Mail Day

Do you remember wanting to race to the mail box to find out what was delivered? Was there anything for you? Andee is feeling this way in China. She wants a crazy mail day. Would you be interested in sending her a letter or postcard? All letters, cards or postcards being mailed to China require $1.05 in postage. If you are interested in sending a letter to Andee, please send us an email at info@thesage.com and we will forward her address. Then send her a card or letter. She will love the explosion of mail that will arrive to her.


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UPS Shipping Alert!

I’ve just received an email from UPS notifying us of a severe weather delay in Louisville, Kentucky. I’ve attached the text of the email I received.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Severe weather in Louisville, KY, at WorldPort, one of UPS’s primary hubs in the US, caused a significant disruption to operations in the US. As a result, some shipments may experience unavoidable delays.

The UPS Service Guarantee does not apply when packages are delayed due to causes beyond UPS’s control.

If you have an order that you are expecting and it might have gone through this center, please check your tracking number to see where your package is. We hope that all packages that go through this center will be delivered safely.

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Freebie Friday! (Plus New Products Review)

4 oz Amber Bottle with Dropper
Apparently when I wrote the Freebie Friday last week, I completely spaced on mentioning the latest new products! Good gravy boats! Some of these new products are super exciting and I’m jealous that you will get a chance to play with them first. ;)

If you remember our Houston Project, then you remember the Champagne Pumps and Disk Tops that were brought in as part of the project. Most of the containers that came in with that big order have gone, but we still have these pumps and disk tops. Many of you have asked for our regular packaging for these closures and we have transferred these gorgeous tops to our regular catalog!

We have also added both 1 oz Amber Glass Dropper Bottles and 4 oz Amber Glass Dropper Bottles to the catalog. These bottles are my favorite way to make and store custom blends that I make for blog posts. I also like to mix special oil treatments and put them in these bottles for those who have spots of skin needing some extra TLC. (Can you say Tamanu Oil and Extracts?)

We have also added a new fragrance! Into the Wild type Fragrance Oil is our rendition of a fragrance from BBW. Since so many of you have requested this, we finally came up with a fragrance that passed all of our requirements when used. I’m jealous of those who get to smell it before I do!

One of those problematic products that we have spent almost 9 months testing sample after sample is Soy Wax. We finally found a soy wax that had the properties we wanted. This wax has a similar melting point to beeswax, so substitution is easy as you would use at the same usage rates! What will you use this wax for?

Last but not least, we have added two new teas to our Gifts & Teas section. One is Pumpkin Spice Black Tea and the other is Peach Blossom Oolong Tea. The Pumpkin Spice Black Tea is a limited availability holiday edition tea, so when it is gone, it is gone! The Peach Blossom Oolong Tea is perfect for those who love peaches and the light flavor of oolong tea.

Now, onto this week’s giveaway! This week we are giving away some fun partial items from our Production Department. Many of the partial items are sent to the blog kitchen and our collection of partial items has gotten overwhelming! Not only are you helping us keep the blog kitchen clean, but you get to play with some new goodies too! This week’s goodies include a partial 16 oz jar of Regular Cocoa Butter, a partial 1 fl oz bottle of Intense Almond Fragrance Oil, and sample bags of Calendula Petals and Allantoin.

The winner for this week is … Emily J Martin ! Congratulations! I will be sending you an e-mail for your mailing address. Your treasure box will be sent out on Monday!

Whoops! We haven’t been able to contact Emily, so I need to pick a new winner for this week. The new winner is Heather Gwinn. I will be sending you an e-mail for your mailing address. Congratulations!

Remember, if you comment any time during the week, you are automatically entered into the Freebie Friday Drawing.

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Blog Challenge: Help us fix our errors!

As our fourth year of blog posts begins to come to a close, we have almost 900 blog posts that we have to review and update to match our current catalog. This is where we need your help!

So many of you find not only these blog posts but also the catalog descriptions to be useful and we try to update posts and descriptions that have spelling, link, math or even formula problems. However, sometimes we don’t realize there are problems. We want your help to catch the errors you read that need our attention. Every one that brings a blog post or catalog description needing editing to our attention will receive a treasure box with goodies that are samples or leftovers from our Production Department. The more items you help us fix, the more fun goodies we will stuff in your treasure box!

You may be asking, how do I bring a blog post or catalog description to your attention? It is actually very simple! Just comment on the blog that needs our attention and tell us what needs to be changed or updated. When we check the comments to approve, we will go fix the blog you have noted. If there is a catalog description that needs to be changed, then send us an email via the Contact Us page. We will then e-mail you to let you know we have fixed the blog post or catalog description and that we will need a shipping address to send your treasure box.

Doesn’t this sound great? You get to help us update our blog and catalog and you get some treasures to experiment with in return!

We do have a limited quantity of treasure boxes on hand, so don’t delay because you don’t want to miss out on these goodies!

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Oil Free Lotion

Recently, I decided to make an Oil Free Lotion. I wanted to have an oil free lotion that met the requests I’ve heard from our readers. Let’s check out the ingredients and I’ll share why I chose them!

I chose Isopropyl Myristate because I wanted to ensure this lotion wouldn’t be greasy. Isopropyl Myristate is also used as a skin conditioning and emollient ingredient.

Honeyquat was chosen because I wanted to play with this new humectant. I didn’t want to have a lotion that had a sticky feeling, so this recipe was actually a test for me to try it.

I added Dimethicone to this recipe because it is a silicone oil that reduces stickiness, adds a velvety feel and also allows the skin to be conditioned.

Next, I chose Cyclomethicone because it is an ultralight silicone oil. Cyclomethicone contributes a talc-like feeling and easy spreadability.

Since the ingredients I chose don’t need a strong emulsifier, Conditioning Emulsifying Wax was the perfect emulsifier that conditions the skin and leaves a light powdery feel.

Allantoin was picked to soothe skin, but I won’t make any claims to keep this lotion in the field of cosmetics and out of being classified as an Over The Counter (OTC) drug.

Liquid Germall Plus is one of my go-to preservatives because it has a low required usage rate. (Which means money saved!) It also is compatible with most cosmetic ingredients, so I don’t have to worry as much about a failed preservative.

Come join me in the kitchen as we make this easy lotion!

Collect needed items:

Isopropyl Myristate
Conditioning Emulsifier
Ocean Rain Fragrance Oil
Liquid Germall Plus Preservative
Microwave Safe Container
Bottles for lotion

Recipe: (Makes 10.58 ounces or 300 grams)

Recipe in ounces:
0.21 ounces Isopropyl Myristate
0.32 ounces Honeyquat
0.21 ounces Dimethicone
1.06 ounces Cyclomethicone
0.42 ounces Conditioning Emulsifying Wax
8.15 ounces Water
0.11 ounces Ocean Rain Fragrance Oil
0.05 ounces Liquid Germall Plus
0.05 ounces Allantoin
Recipe in grams:
6 grams Isopropyl Myristate
9 grams Honeyquat
6 grams Dimethicone
30 grams Cyclomethicone
12 grams Conditioning Emulsifying Wax
231 grams Water
3 grams Ocean Rain Fragrance Oil
1.5 grams Liquid Germall Plus
1.5 grams Allantoin
Recipe in Percentages
2% Isopropyl Myristate
3% Honeyquat
2% Dimethicone
10% Cyclomethicone
4% Conditioning Emulsifying Wax
77% Water
1% Ocean Rain Fragrance Oil
0.5% Liquid Germall Plus
0.5% Allantoin

Weigh all ingredients except the additives (Fragrance, Allantoin and Liquid Germall Plus Preservative) into the microwave safe container. Heat in the microwave using short time bursts until everything is melted. Blend the ingredients to a smooth, creamy consistency using the immersion blender. Add additives once the temperature drops to 120° F in the mixing bucket. Blend until completely mixed. Pour into bottles and allow to cool completely before capping.

Notes: This light and fluid lotion feels slick at first but rubs in nicely. It is slightly waxy but feels nice on the skin. Choose any fragrance you desire!

The Oil Free Lotion on fingers.

Finished lotion in bottles.
Weighing the ingredients.
Blending the lotion.
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Hibiscus Foot Soak

The hibiscus plant and flowers have been used in China and India as a traditional medicine, tea and even shoe polish for a long time. The hibiscus has been noted in Chinese history by depictions of the plant on porcelain pottery from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and when it was planted along the fortress walls protecting Chengdu between 907-960 AD. The fortress walls were torn down during the 1960s, but Chengdu retains its name of “The City of Hibiscus”.

Hibiscus tea has been one of my favorite teas when I’m settling down for the evening to relax. Since I find hibiscus tea so relaxing, I decided to make a foot soak with it. Let’s look at all the ingredients.

I wanted to make this foot soak a special pampering treat, so I added HoneyQuat to the formula as a humectant. The goal is to treat the feet by helping them retain the moisture from the foot soak.

Since hibiscus was the inspiration for this post, I put dried tea grade hibiscus flowers in a blender and ground them to a fine powder. While you may not be able to easily get whole or partial hibiscus flowers, you can powder hibiscus teas like the Natural Hibiscus Tea from The Republic of Tea. Maybe if enough people ask, the Purchasing Team can see what it would take to carry a Hibiscus additive. ;)

Natrasorb helps carry fragrances and other liquid additives so this was a great ingredient to add to help give the foot soak volume. It also made the tub tea lighter so the bags wouldn’t feel like there were pebbles inside!

I really like the soothing feel that Oat Flour contributes to a bath or foot soak. Oats contain proteins that help our skin when irritated or when needing a touch of luxury.

Personally, I feel that a tub tea or foot soak is incomplete without Milk Powder. I mean, if Cleopatra bathed in the stuff on a regular basis to keep her skin fresh in the Egyptian desert, then what better excuse to use milk? No matter the reason, I’m a fan of milk powder!

Calendula has been used for a long time to fight rough and scaly skin and for its anti-inflammatory properties. To pamper feet, what better way that to use a botanical that has been known to help skin?

We used several different fragrances in the production of samples for shipping. The fragrances we used were Polynesian Red, Hibiscus Passion, and Ginger Pomelo.

Lets go make this foot soak!

Collect needed items:

Hibiscus Flowers, finely ground
Oatmeal, finely ground
Milk Powder
Calendula Petals, finely ground
Fragrance of your choice: We used Polynesian Red, Hibiscus Passion, and Ginger Pomelo
Small Heat & Seal Tea Bags
Mixing Bowl or Bucket
Coffee Grinder or Mortar & Pestle

Recipe: (Makes 3.5 ounces or 100 grams)

Recipe in ounces:
0.11 ounces HoneyQuat
0.81 ounces Hibiscus Flowers, finely ground
0.53 ounces Natrasorb
1.05 ounces Oatmeal, finely ground
0.53 ounces Milk Powder
0.46 ounces Calendula Petals, finely ground
0.04 ounces Fragrance of Choice
Recipe in grams:
3 grams HoneyQuat
23 grams Hibiscus Flowers, finely ground
15 grams Natrasorb
30 grams Oatmeal, finely ground
15 grams Milk Powder
13 grams Calendula Petals, finely ground
1 grams Fragrance of Choice
Recipe in Percentages
3% HoneyQuat
23% Hibiscus Flowers, finely ground
15% Natrasorb
30% Oatmeal, finely ground
15% Milk Powder
13% Calendula Petals, finely ground
1% Fragrance of Choice

Weigh all the dry ingredients into a mixing bucket or bag. Weigh the HoneyQuat and fragrance into a beaker and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. After the ingredients have been completely mixed together, fill each small Heat & Seal Tea Bag with 1 tablespoon of the foot soak mixture. Seal with the iron.

Notes: This recipe filled 23 Small Heat & Seal Tea Bags.

A sample of the foot soak in water.

Weighing ingredients.
Weighing fragrance and HoneyQuat
Mixing the ingredients.
Filling Heat Sealable Tea Bags.
Sealed tea bag.

Completely finished tea bags.
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How to get Cocoa Butter out of a pail

Recently, we have had lots of questions about how to get Cocoa Butter out of a pail without melting the entire pail at one time. To help our customers solve this problem, we created a video that can be found either on YouTube or on our website (http://www.thesage.com/pub/m4v/Cocoabutter.m4v).This video shows how we chip out the cocoa butter that we need when working in the blog kitchen. Isn’t that easy?

Let us know if there are any other tutorial videos you would like to see!

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