Archive for the ‘Travels with The Sage’ Category

CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Kenna of Central Soapers Workshop

Friday, June 6th, 2014

cswThis is my last post about CSW and I saved an incredible entry last! Let me tell you about Kenna Cote of Central Soapers Workshop, Modern Soapmaking.com and Gratitude Soapery.

Kenna put together the Central Soapers Workshop (and I use the term “put together” loosely because events like this are so large, it is impossible to do it by oneself.) When an event like the Central Soapers Workshop is pulled off in such a seamless fashion, you know the responsible party (Kenna) has chosen the very best people as coordinators to make the event happen so smoothly. Kenna’s connections created a great ground team that handled speakers, attendees, vendors and other little (and not so little) details with ease and efficiency.

modern-soapmaking-blueIt takes an extraordinary person with a great idea of how they want a event to turn out to get such a fun event for attendees. Kenna is one of those extraordinary people who got help from the right people to bring her ideas to fruition. Kenna’s ideas had the Central Soapers Workshop turn out to be one of the most enjoyable soap events I’ve ever attended! I enjoyed all of the networking games that Kenna had us playing. If you weren’t there, you really missed out on some of Kenna’s awesome ideas!

It was wonderful to attend such a well-done conference and be able to have so much fun with everyone! We are so happy that we got to attend this year and are already talking about our ideas for next year! If you would like to attend next year or even volunteer as one of Kenna’s great assistants, just keep watching the Central Soapers Workshop website for more details.

gratitude2Kenna not only runs Central Soapers Workshop, but also ModernSoapmaking.com. She shares tutorials, business tips, advice for all sorts of things from being more product, slowing down and improving sales. If you haven’t gotten a chance to visit ModernSoapmaking.com, I would recommend hopping over there right away! It is a good resource for many questions and even inspiration.

On top of the Central Soapers Workshop and Modern Soapmaking.com, Kenna still has her soap company, Gratitude Soapery. She started Gratitude Soapery when she realized her previous company, Amathia Soapworks, hadn’t been feeding her soul. It all started when she participated in a 30 Day Happiness Challenge and found her happiness came from helping others! Gratitude Soapery makes some adorable soaps with fantastic descriptions! (If you don’t believe me, check them out!)

Kenna, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to come do the Soap Lab. We had so much fun this year! It was wonderful to laugh and talk with you!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Tanya of Baby Duck Soap Co

Friday, May 30th, 2014

cswThis is my second to last post about CSW! Let me tell you about Tanya Rasley from Baby Duck Soap Co.

Tanya held some demonstrations in the Soap Lab and she gave her demonstrations with a smile and didn’t let our little rustles of box folding distract her or her students. She just kept plugging away! Her demonstrations not only inspired many of us to try new things, but also were shared with some wonderful humor.

The adorable Baby Duck Soap Co logo!

The adorable Baby Duck Soap Co logo!

Tanya told us about her move from Tennessee to Oregon and we were impressed! It takes a lot to pick up and move a family AND a business across the country with hopes that the move will make things better for you, your family and your business. I’m still stunned by the fact she drove across the USA in January during a nasty snowstorm and I’m from an area that gets snow! I’m happy to report that she is settling in her new home and even has a special soapy lab/basement/dungeon of her own!

Mimosa Lip Balm from Baby Duck Soap Co.

Mimosa Lip Balm from Baby Duck Soap Co.

Tanya also shared with us the struggles of soapmakers who are looking at opening retail spaces for their soap shops. She told us about how she handled various markets and what she wanted to take from her experiences at markets and to apply to a physical retail space. I loved listening to Tanya describe her ideal location, some decor ideas and how she wanted the space to operate!

When we first met Tanya, she gave each one of us a Mimosa flavored lip balm. Taylor and I both loved ours, but Tina was very impressed!

FruitSoapia by Baby Duck Soap Co.

FruitSoapia by Baby Duck Soap Co.

Tina told me, “I was WOWed by Tanya’s lip balm and it was the first lip balm in a long while that I’ve sampled with a flavor that wasn’t so strong that I wanted to wipe off the lip balm immediately after applying! This light flavor was made just for people like me. People who use Kid’s Crest Sparkle Toothpaste because regular adult toothpaste is too strong!”

Shortly after we got back from CSW, Tina received a box of goodies from Tanya. There were a couple of different soaps, Whipped Shea Body Butter, an Emulsified Scrub and even some yummy food treats from the Oregon Coast! We adored the box and have had a fun time trying the different goodies. After trying the goodies in the box, I would recommend trying some of Tanya’s products!

Tanya, thank you for all the giggles, Kansas City BBQ, and great stories you shared with us! We also want to say thanks for the box! We had fun with you in Kansas and after with all the treats!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Ranea and JaRee of Natural Textures

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

cswI’m almost done talking about CSW! Let me tell you about the hilarious mother and daughter we met at CSW, Ranea Underwood and JaRee Carey from Natural Textures.

Deep Hair Conditioner from Natural Textures.

Deep Hair Conditioner from Natural Textures.

This mother/daughter pair had us rolling with laughter as we listened to their good-natured banter. JaRee helped us fold boxes for the Soap Lab as she sat and propped up her leg to allow her knee to heal from recent surgery. We had plenty of boxes thanks to JaRee’s folding! She was so persistent about just moving along despite any pain she was feeling and the friendly teasing she received from all of us, including her mother. I was so impressed with how she never stopped smiling or going! Just like the Energizer Bunny!

The several times we got to talk to Ranea and JaRee, they helped us understand more about the issues AND strengths associated with what the cosmetics industry terms “ethnic hair” or hair that differs genetically from hair that traces its genes to Western Europe. They were so helpful to us and I found I walked away from our discussions with a stuffed brain!

Ranea and JaRee, thank you for all your help in the Soap Lab as well as all the giggles you shared with us!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: RuthAnn of Divine Scents Soap Company

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

cswIn my last post about CSW, I told you a little about one of the people who made our time at the Central Soaper’s Workshop so wonderful! Today, I’m going try to share our experience with another marvelous person. Let me tell you about RuthAnn Matthews from Divine Scents Soap Company.

Lemongrass Bastile Soap from the All Naturals product line by Divine Scents Soap Company.

Lemongrass Bastile Soap from the All Naturals product line by Divine Scents Soap Company.

RuthAnn was a silent helper in the Soap Lab. When you organize events like the Soap Lab, you always hope for someone like RuthAnn because they are ready to help mentor people who have questions as well as helping show methods and techniques. RuthAnn just stepped in and helped wherever she could! When you would see RuthAnn in the Soap Lab helping, she was not only sharing her knowledge but her smile too!

While I didn’t get as much time to talk with RuthAnn as I would have liked, I loved the brief chats I had with her. When I got back from the Workshop, I visited RuthAnn’s website and found myself drooling over some of her soaps and lotion bars! She makes two different product lines of soap; All Naturals Soap and Nearly Naturals Soap. The All Naturals soaps are made with essential oils and natural colorants and botanicals for decoration, color and exfoliation. The Nearly Naturals soaps are made with fragrance oils. I loved looking at her swirls and layers! Which soap do you find yourself drooling over most?

RuthAnn, thank you for all your help and the mentoring that you did in the Soap Lab! You were one of the strong supports for the Lab!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Shonna of Red Shed Soap Co.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

cswIn my last post about CSW, I told you a little about one of the people who made our time at the Central Soaper’s Workshop so wonderful! Today, I’m going try to share our experience with another marvelous person. Let me tell you about Shonna Hilliard from Red Shed Soap Co.!

During one of the demonstrations that happened in the Soap Lab we had to fold most of our soap boxes along with their liners. While the process could have been distracting due to the crinkly liners being folded, Shonna helped fold boxes and liners in the back of the Soap Lab. Her folding was quietly efficient!

Shonna as she folds liners for the soap mold boxes.

Shonna as she folds liners for the soap mold boxes.

As Shonna folded liners for the soap boxes, she would watch the demonstration without looking at her hands and the liners she was folding. Without Shonna’s help, we wouldn’t have been able to make the Soap Lab as prepared as it was and we are very grateful for her help!

Shonna is relatively new to soapmaking. She has been taking been taking lessons from RuthAnn and her enthusiasm for soapmaking is contagious. She found inspiration while at the Central Soaper’s Workshop, but she was also inspiring in the Soap Lab. Shonna made her batches of soap and even showed newer soapmakers that soapmaking wasn’t as scary as it seems.

Shonna, thank you for all your help and the inspiration that you gave us! It was a pleasure to spend time with you!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Stacy of Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

cswIn my last post about CSW, I told you a little about one of the people who made our time at the Central Soaper’s Workshop so wonderful! Today, I’m going try to share our experience with another fantastic person. Let me tell you about Stacy Durham from Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such!

Stacy helped us prepare the Soap Lab by folding the boxes that became our soap molds. She became a box folding wizard. While we folded boxes with Stacy out in the atrium, we talked about the products Stacy made. The thing about Stacy that caught our attention is that she talked to us about gluten-free products and the need for them. She doesn’t just talk about this need either! The focus of her company is gluten-free and allergen-free products!

A pile of Vegan Lip Balms from Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such. Yum!

A pile of Vegan Lip Balms from Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such. Yum!

Stacy focuses on finding raw materials that are free of not just gluten but other common allergens like peanut, dairy, egg and latex. We had talked about how Wheat Germ Oil is considered gluten free because you won’t find wheat proteins in the oil, but how these proteins can be found in other materials. Stacy told us that when you make any product with the goal to be gluten and allergen-free, you have to know your raw materials. Stacy’s awareness and conscientiousness really sets her apart in her chosen niche.

We loved hanging out with Stacy at dinner because not only is she a hilarious person, but she also has great ideas! Stacy even got to hear about how MMS started. While most people think that MMS is Tina’s fairy tale and the love story of someone who woke up in the middle of the night and said, “Aha, I have a great idea for a business,” the truth is that it was MMS that rescued Tina from the very chaos of life. Stacy even sent Tina the sweetest gift afterwards, a very exceptional Lone Star apron. Tina has even said that she will proudly wear it, even without a tutu because it is that good!

Soaps for men from Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such.

Soaps for men from Bluebonnet Soaps N’ Such.

If you get a chance to meet Stacy, I think you will find yourself rolling on the floor laughing as you have a great time! In the meantime, take some time to check out her amazing products. I’m sure you will find Stacy’s story, store and products just as interesting as we did!

Stacy, thank you for all your help and the giggles we shared! It was a pleasure to spend time with you!

Andee

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CSW 2014 Special Spotlight: Crystal of Dirty Water Soapworks

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

cswSometimes it is hard to describe something with words and give it justice. I’m going to attempt to do just that by telling you about one of the people who helped us while at the Central Soapers Workshop. Let me tell you all about Crystal Decker from Dirty Water Soap Works!

Tina, Taylor and I had the chance to attend the Central Soapers Workshop back in March. Although it has been some time since I’ve last attended a conference, this was the best conference I’ve attended in quite a while! The Central Soapers Workshop is also a unique event, for it has the Soap Lab where techniques are demonstrated and every attendee has the chance to try making a batch or two of soap with new ingredients or recently learned techniques.

Crystal and her fantastic tutu!

Crystal and her fantastic tutu!

This year, we sponsored the Soap Lab and Crystal was the Soap Lab coordinator. Every time we had questions about setup, equipment availability, and ingredients needed for demonstrations, Crystal found the answers. Often we found ourselves asking where she had her magic wand stored because she made the difficult and impossible happen. From the moment we met at the airport our weekend was filled with stories, crazy amounts of giggles, and lots of brainstorming for next year. Crystal was extremely instrumental in making sure the Soap Lab had everything it needed, gauging how much time was left in the pen Soap Lab and when things needed to be prepared for the next demonstration.

Crystal’s help in the Soap Lab was more than coordinating and organizing. She helped various attendees with their batches of soap and even helped with some troubleshooting! There were a few times that I overheard people asking Crystal how long she had worked with us at Majestic Mountain Sage. I’ll have to admit that we are honored to have people ask Crystal this question because she is an awesome person and very helpful to many people, not just us! If you need any proof, her products are a great start!

Baby Buttermilk Soap in a gift set.

Baby Buttermilk Soap in a gift set.

Last year we had a friend who went on a spiritual retreat to India. The goal of this retreat was to help the soul heal from the chaos and stresses in life. As our friend prepared to go on his trip, we reached out to Crystal and got some of her Baby Buttermilk soap to send with him. We told him that this soap was to help wash away the stresses of life and cleanse not only his body, but his soul. When he got back from the retreat, he had a bounce in his step that hadn’t been there before he left. He told us that the very light scent (from an unscented soap) gave him the ability to sit in the shower and let the stress wash away every day. Crystal’s soap not only gave him the ability to become physically clean, but at the same time cleansed his soul. If you ever get the chance to try any of Crystal’s products, I would recommend jumping at the chance!

Crystal has been helpful not only with the Central Soapers Workshop, but also on our Forum. She regularly participates in swaps, asks questions as well as helping us answer questions from other forum participants. I find myself challenged by Crystal to learn new things and never stop asking “Why?”

Crystal, thank you for all your help! We can’t tell you how much it has made our lives easier!

Andee

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The Lantern Festival

Friday, February 14th, 2014
Today is the Lantern Festival, the last day of the Chinese New Year. On this day you can see lanterns of all shapes, sizes and colors. You can even light a flying lantern and send it up into the night sky. I love this festival because the sky is full of lights which drift slowly through the air. I love to watch the river of lights high above me, slowly flowing around all of those impressive skyscrapers. It is an impressive and peaceful sight. 

 

During the Lantern Festival people also eat a special dessert, a sweet soup that has small, colorful balls. The balls are made of glutinous rice flour and have a variety of delicious fillings. These are eaten because their name sounds similar to reunion and the Chinese consider family and friends to be very important.

Today is also the last day for you to submit any products inspired by the Chinese New Year. Hurry! All participants will get a chance to receive a goodie box from the Blog Kitchen. Thanks for participating!
Taylor

Sending Off Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

Sending Off Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

Fireworks behind a display of various lanterns

Fireworks behind a display of various lanterns

Sweet Glutinous Rice Ball Soup

Sweet Glutinous Rice Ball Soup

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Happy Chinese New Year!

Friday, January 31st, 2014
I am thrilled to wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year! Today is the start of a 15 day long celebration here in China. Isn’t that amazing? The Chinese New Year is a collection of several daily celebrations that accumulate into what we know as the Chinese New Year. Now before you ask,  people rarely get all 15 days off of work but they do get some of the bigger celebration days off. Most of the time people get the first seven days off. Today will be a day filled of jovial street dances, wonderful performances and knee-slapping theater.

 

This year is the Year of the Horse. Were any of you born in the Year of the Horse? If you were born in the Year of the Horse this next year is said to bring fortune and auspicious changes to your career. For those who were not born in the Year of the Horse, not to worry, this is a good year for prosperity as well as great travel experiences.

In the evening, we enjoy a feast, special desserts and fireworks! I am so excited! The fireworks in China are so incredibly loud. It is so fun! What will you do for the Chinese New Year? Does this festival inspire any products or colors? I want to know!

During the next 15 days, we will accept submissions of products inspired by the Chinese New Year. All submissions will be displayed on our blog and each submitter has a chance at a special goodie box from the Blog Kitchen. Good luck!

Taylor

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

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Stone Soup

Thursday, October 17th, 2013
The weather has started to cool and some days can be quiet brisk. To me this signifies the start of cold weather foods. One in particular being soup. Today, we will be having Stone Soup at MMS. Have you ever heard the story? If you haven’t, allow me to share with you. 

Once upon a time, there was a small village in a war torn land. In recent years, their crops had been poor and small. The villagers toiled to insure some sort of harvest. What hadn’t been destroyed by weather or insects, was taken to feed the armies. The war had ended and their crops had been bountiful.

One day a man, a wounded soldier with a large pack on his back, was seen walking up the road. The villagers seized with fear, started running about hiding their stores of food leaving only a rotting onion or a withered carrot in their cupboards. They closed their shutters and doors and watched the stranger approach though the cracks.

When the soldier finally arrived in the village, he knocked at the first door. A wizened old woman opened the door a crack and peered at him. “Excuse me ma’am, might you have something to eat?” “I do not!” She said harshly. “In fact, my cupboard is empty and my stomach pains me with its great hunger.” “I see. Thank you very much then,” said the soldier and he tipped his hat and made his way to the second house.

At the second house, he knocked at the door. The door was opened by an old man, his knees swollen with arthritis. “Excuse me sir, might I trouble you for something to eat?” the solider asked. “You may not!” the old man said darkly. “I haven’t even a bone fit for a dog!” “Very well,” the soldier said. The words of thank you had not yet formed on his lips when the door was slammed in his face.

The soldier sighed and made his way to the next house. Round the village he went, finding cruel responses and slammed doors. The weary soldier made his way back to the village square where he set down his pack and began to collect wood for a fire. He started the fire and warmed his hands then turned to his large pack.

His pack was made from a well worn but sturdy blanket. He untied the ends and removed the blanket from its burden. A large black pot was revealed. The soldier limped to the village well for water. Using the well bucket, he filled his pot with water and then placed it over the fire.

Then he made a slow circuit of the square,  picking of stones. He would heft them in his hand and examine each very closely until he was finally satisfied with one stone. It was large, heavy and very smooth. The soldier walked back to his pot and dropped the stone in. Then he sat down and began to wait.

The villagers, hiding behind their doors and shutters were bursting with curiosity. What was the soldier doing? One small, brave, little boy slipped out of his house and went up to the soldier. “What are you doing?” he asked in a squeaky voice.

Without turning his head to look at the boy, the soldier said “Why, I am making stone soup!” The little boy stepped forward to peer into the pot. “Stone soup?” “Yes, stone soup.”  The little boy looked back into the pot. “Is it good?” The soldier sighed and shook his head. “Not, really though it would much better if we had an onion.”

The little boy frowned at himself, shook his head and scampered off. Not long after he returned carrying a nice, plump onion. “Why this will make the perfect soup for us to share!” the soldier said as he sliced the onion into the pot. So he and the little boy settled down to wait.

Then an old woman made her way into the square. “What are you doing?” she asked in a raspy voice. The little boy piped up “We are making stone soup!” “Stone soup?” “Yes,” said the soldier, “though it would be much better if we had a carrot or two,” he said wistfully. “A carrot or two,” the old woman echoed thoughtfully. The soldier nodded as he watched the pot.

“I will return home and see if I can find something,” the old woman announced and with that, she scampered back to her house. She returned moments later with two bright orange carrots. “This will make the perfect soup for us to share,” the soldier said as he sliced it into the pot. The old woman settled down next to the soldier to wait.

Next came out the village blacksmith. He added potatoes to the pot. A young woman brought many different herbs. An old man brought out a ham bone with a fair share of meat. A dumpy woman with a flock of children clutching to her skirts brought a cabbage. The brewer brought some barley and his sister brought a handful of beans. They all sat around the fire and waited until the soup was done.

When the soup was ready there was a flurry of activity as people scampered back home for bowls and spoons. The soldier ladled soup into each of the villagers bowls. There was much merriment that night as each villager filled their belly with some of the best soup they had ever tasted. When ask, all the soldier would say is “The secret ingredient is in the stone.”

Thanks for joining me for the story of Stone Soup. I really enjoyed writing my own version of Stone Soup. It is one that I remember from when I was a little girl, so this story is very special to me. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 

From my bowl to yours, cheers!

Taylor

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