Monday, September 27, 2010

Salmon Days

Autumn is truly in the air! This weekend is the annual Issaquah Salmon Days festival which celebrates "the annual return of salmon to our lakes, streams and historic downtown hatchery."

Did you know that there are seven indigenous salmon and trout from the genus Oncorhynchus in Washington and Oregon? They are chinook, coho, chum, sockeye, and pink salmon, and steelhead and cutthroat trout. Salmon are vital in the transport of energy and nutrients between the ocean, estuaries, and freshwater environments. As a seasonal resource, salmon indirectly affect the entire food web. They are super important and so have an entire festival dedicated to their return!!

The celebration includes all sorts of salmon education opportunities as well as a golf tournament, fun run, parade, orienteering event, international food booths, children's "field of fun" and a HUGE craft fair. Festival volunteers are called "Ohfishals" and the entire event is free thanks to "Spawnsors". Tee hee. I will be particiapting this year as a vendor at booth #65. So plunge into the event and soak in the sights and sounds of the season!

photo credit: Issaquah Chamber of Commerce

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Gender Neutral

My kids and I love root beer. We love the smell, the taste, and the refreshing sweetness of it. True root beer is made from sarsaparilla root, but in some parts of the country there is a carbonated beverage that is very similar to root beer called birch beer. It’s made from sap extracted from the bark of the Black Birch tree (Betula lenta). Apparently, in the dairy country of Pennsylvania a float made with vanilla ice cream and birch beer is called a “Red Bull” and one made with chocolate ice cream is called a “Black Cow”. Yum.

When sweet birch essential oil is combined with vanilla oil, it blends their sweetness and herbal spice into a smell very much like birch or root beer. I use these two oils, along with pure cocoa powder in my Gender Neutral Soap. Since kids often love root beer, I wanted to stick with a child-like theme for my root beer soap. One day I happened across this hilarious vintage image of two toddlers and knew I had to use it somehow. Don’t you wonder what it was intended for originally? I would love to know!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Smooch Stick

Here's something you probably don't know about me. I'm an addict. I can't go to sleep, or sit at the computer, or drive, or do laundry without putting moisturizer on my lips. This habit is probably most annoying to my husband. I've killed many a romantic moment by pausing to grab my "lip stuff" and apply a layer. Before a kiss, after a kiss...never during a kiss though. That would be too much.

A few months ago we had to take my car in to be serviced because the little storage compartment in the driver's console wouldn't open properly. The whole unit had to be removed. When it was, the repairman found a total of 8 lip balm tubes that had fallen down into the space under the lid, jamming it so it wouldn't open. Boy, did I get some dirty looks for that one.

I have tried lots of brands of lip moisturizer. I can't stand the petroleum-based ones like Chapstick or Carmex. Burt's Bee's is nice and I don't mind Neutrogena, though it contains paraffin. I've tried lots of "boutique" lip balms over the years too, some good, some bad. I just never was totally happy with any of them, so I started playing around with my own recipes a year or so ago. I wanted something all-natural, smooth, fortifying and nice tasting (but not too sweet).

This is what I came up with. I call it "Smooch Stick" and offer it in two different flavors, each with different nourishing oils and butters. The Sweet Orange and Spearmint Smooch Stick contains apricot oil, beeswax, grape seed oil, mango butter, vitamin E oil and sweet orange and spearmint essential oils. I use ammonium glycyrrhizate as a sweetener, which is a natural powder that comes from licorice root.

Here's a little back story on the flavor of the second Smooch Stick variety. My kids and I love marzipan. Our favorite bakery is here in Ballard and they offer a multitude of tasty treats which include marzipan or sweet almond paste. They even sell one pound bricks of plain marzipan, which we always have on hand in our refrigerator...just because we can. There's an ongoing joke with my husband (who does not like marzipan) that whenever I really like something or consider it a guilty pleasure, I say "Mmmmm....just like maaarzipaaaan!" It amuses me. We must enjoy life's little pleasures, right?

The Marzipan Smooch Stick contains sweet almond oil, beeswax, wheat germ oil, cocoa butter, vitamin E oil, bitter almond essential oil and the same licorice root sweetener. Both varieties of Smooch Stick go on smoothly, without a waxy feel and moisturize with natural oils and butters that make your lips feel soft and supple. It's like maaarzipaaan!