#soapismycanvas

Hi, I am Yvonne, and I am a soap-a-holic...

New soap display for market!

New soap display for market!

When you look around my kitchen, you might believe it. Over the past month, I have been on a soap-making binge- experimenting with colors, essential oils & fragrance, botanicals and other toppings, new ingredients to my mainstay recipe, alongside new swirling and layering techniques. 

I thought I might share some of these experiements here, along with some explanation to common soaping terminology. (Awhile ago I wrote a soap making tutorial, you can read it here.) I have not utilized goat milk for soaps recently, primarily because I am impatient and it has to be frozen prior to mixing with lye. Water is much faster- so when I want to make soap, I can make it NOW! 

A question I often hear is if I use lye in my soap. The answer is yes. No lye, no soap- it's as simple as that. Lye is Sodium Hydroxide, NaOH. NaOH has a very high pH, making it a very strong base, hence quite caustic on its own. Mixed with the fats from oils and butters that I use in our soaps, a powerful chemical reaction happens, called saponification. This is a powerful chemical reaction that puts off a significant amount of heat. It's quite fascinating, if you like chemistry... The full saponification process takes about 4 weeks. During this time, the soap hardens as the water dries out, and the lye completely binds with the oils. While we use lye in our soap, there is no lye left in the final product. No lye! 

Here are some toppings I used to decorate the soap loafs: oats, calendula flowers, lavender, coffee, rose petals, pixie dust...

In addition to pretty toppings, natural micas can add color to soap batter, turning soap into a wonderful canvas. Let me warn you- it is NOT as easy as it looks! In fact, I have made quite a mess of my kitchen on several occasions! Here are some examples of the inspiration vs reality (can we say Pinterest FAIL???) 

But it can actually get worse than that! So, most recently, I added too much essential oil to part of my soap batter and it seized. Seizing is when the soap batter hardens too quickly. Generally, you want your soap mixture to be anywhere from a thin trace (that can be swirled easily) to a pudding-like consistency that can be layered. To make matters worse, I had chosen a mustard yellow mica for this particular batter, making the seized soap look more like seedy new-born baby poop, very nicely smelling poop, but poop nonetheless. Need a visual? Here ya go!

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Luckily, most soap mistakes can be fixed. When soap doesn't turn out like you'd hoped, you can grind it down, melt it over a double boiler and re-batch it. It changes the consistency a little, but there is beauty in the ashes. This is how my re-batched baby poop soap looks now:

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So yes, I am a soap-a-holic. It has become my new canvas, my creative outlet, my therapy. I have big visions for what I want to create... stay tuned! #soapismycanvas

~Yvonne

 

Why Soy?

Finny Farm has recently began making and selling 100% soy candles. The reason why we choose a certain product or ingredient is just as important to us as what we charge or how much we sell. We only get one life, so just as with all the products we sell, we want to make them as healthy as possible.

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So then why do we choose to make our candles from soy? Well, here’s the skinny. The most common type of candle is made from paraffin. A little history search on paraffin shows that it’s been around since 1830 when it was extracted from petroleum, mixed with stearic acid, and then used as a wax for candles. This took the place of tallow and was an instant success as it was cleaner burning and more economical than tallow. Paraffin is also odorless and colorless. In candle terms, this means that it can be colored easily and holds fragrance well.  

There are several drawbacks to paraffin though. First, it’s releases carbon deposits when burned. It’s also not a sustainable resource.

Soy wax on the other hand has many benefits and zero health drawback. Here are a few.

-Clean burning- soy candles produce no toxins,  carcinogens, pollutants or petrol-carbon. They are less likely to trigger allergies.

-Longer Lasting- soy wax burns at a cooler temperature and so it lasts longer than paraffin candles by up to 50%. Our 8 ounce candles will burn between 45 and 50 hours.

-Supports American farmers- The US produces more soy beans than any other country in the world. Supporting US farmers and the US economy by utilizing this natural and renewable resource is a great thing.

Finny Farm Soy Candles are made from 100% soy wax and a small amount of fragrance oils for the smell.

We are falling in love with new fragrances every day and hope that you will enjoy them as much as we do!

 

~Bobby 

What's the big deal about Magnesium?

The short answer is: without magnesium, our bodies would not function!

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Then longer version: Magnesium is a vital element that affects the muscular-skeletal system and plays a major role in many, many chemical reactions in your body (over 300!). Magnesium is an enzyme co-factor and also plays a vital role in ATP generation, the body's major source of energy. Without magnesium, our muscles would be in a constant state of contraction. A complete summary of what magnesium does in the human body and how it affects daily functions can be found here.

Depleted soil conditions lead to decreased magnesium levels in plants and in animals that eat the plants. Stress and caffeine intake further deplete the body of magnesium. Sugar and processed foods, along with many pharmaceuticals do the rest. In short, most of us fall into this spectrum, making us a prime candidate for many acute and chronic disease. The Journal of the American College of Nutrition states:

“Patients with diagnoses of depression, epilepsy, diabetes mellitus, tremor, Parkinsonism, arrhythmias, circulatory disturbances (stroke, cardiac infarc- tion, arteriosclerosis), hypertension, migraine, cluster head- ache, cramps, neuro-vegetative disorders, abdominal pain, os- teoporosis, asthma, stress dependent disorders, tinnitus, ataxia, confusion, preeclampsia, weakness, might also be consequences of the magnesium deficiency syndrome.”

Replenishing magnesium can be done in several ways: orally (through a good supplement and wholesome nutrition) and topically, since the skin, as the body's largest organ, wonderfully absorbs magnesium and transports it to needed areas of the body. Fact: the skin absorbs a higher percentage of magnesium than the gut, making topical administration the preferred application route. 

I don't want to regurgitate well-written information, so let me refer you to an excellent article at wellnessmama. In this link you will find a recipe and the resources to make your own magnesium lotion or spray. If you are not keen on DIY, head on over to our apothecary and order it there! Another option is taking a foot bath with magnesium oxide flakes.

10 Signs that you might be magnesium deficient:

1) muscle spasms and cramps

2) anxiety and depression

3) calcification of arteries

4) high blood pressure

5) hormone problems

6) pregnancy issues

7) sleep disturbances

8) bone health

9) low energy

10) other mineral deficiencies

Each one of my family members has a jar of magnesium lotion sitting on their bedside table. Get yours today- Replenish today!

To your wellness, 

~Yvonne

(As always: ***this page is not intended as medical advice or to substitute your doctor. It is not to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, illness, or injury. If you suffer from any medical condition, please seek advice from a qualified health care professional.)

Essential Oils Series- Lavender (2)

Monthly Spotlight

Lavender

LAVENDER IS A UNIVERSAL OIL THAT HAS TRADITIONALLY BEEN KNOWN TO BALANCE THE BODY AND TO WORK WHEREVER THERE IS A NEED. WHEN IN DOUBT, USE LAVENDER

— Higley, C. & Higley, A. (2016) Reference Guide for Essential Oils
newsperuse.com

Lavender is from the botanical family Labitatae (mint). The essential oil is steam distilled from the flowers at the top of the plant. The chemical constituents of Lavender are alcohols, monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, phenols, aldehydes, oxides, coumarins, and ketones. 

Lavender has a wonderful scent that is refreshing, floral, clean, and calming. Its wonderful aroma has made it a popular ingredient in many soaps, fresheners, cleaners, and beauty products. 

How can you add Lavender to your home? Suggestions include adding a few drops of lavender to Epsom salt and taking a nice, long, relaxing soak in your tub. Put a few drops of lavender on the soles of your feet before you go to bed at night. Unwind with a lavender neck massage. Make your own shower scrub with coconut oil, sugar, sea salt, and lavender. Add lavender to wool dryer balls to infuse your clothes with a fresh scent. And finally, make your own room or air freshener by putting a few drops of lavender in a spray bottle with water and spritz as needed.

Common and Popular Uses:

The use of lavender dates back to ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians. Lavender was used for mummification, as a perfume, for bathing, as an aphrodisiac, for cooking, and medicine. Today, Lavender essential oil is often utilized to aid with sleep, clear skin irregularities, to reduce anxiety and stress, alleviate burns and scrapes, provide antioxidants, and aid with headaches (Dr. Axe, 2016).

(Note: these statements are not intended to diagnose or treat illness. These claims have not been approved or endorsed by the FDA.)




January DIY

Tinted Make-up Lotion and Tinted Powder

In my quest to cutting out toxins from my daily routine, I am working on finding some options for make up. I have found a recipe on one of my favorite natural DIY blogs, scratchmommy.com that I like fairly well and that I have tweaked just a little to fit my skin. One day, we hope to figure out how to bring this to you pre- packaged at Finnyfarm.com but until then you may be stuck DIY-ing yourself just like me. But fret not, you can contact me for ingredients. I buy everything in bulk, so if you are interested in trying these recipes, send me a quick email and we can work out the details of getting supplies to you!

Here it goes:

1) Tinted Make-up:

ingredients- 

21 g Sweet Almond Oil

14 g organic, unrefined Shea Butter

7 g organic, unrefined Cocoa Butter

1 g Vitamin E oil

7 g non-Nano Zinc Oxide

3/4 T Cacao powder

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

melt almond oil, shea butter, cocoa butter and vitamin e oil in a double boiler. Let cool slightly. Whisk in zinc oxide slowly using a hand blender. Add Cacao powder and cinnamon according to complexion. try out on back of your hand for closest match. 

This makes a 2 oz jar. Option: add a few drops of carrot seed essential oil for additional SPF 

2) Tinted Face Powder;

ingredients:

1 T Arrowroot powder

1/2 tsp non-Nano Zinc Oxide

1/8-1/4 tsp Cacao Powder (don't confuse this with cocoa powder)

1/16-1/8 tsp of Cinnamon (based on your skin tone)

gently mix in a small bowl with a clean whisk. 

Place in an empty powder jar. 

 

Happy DIY-ing, folks. Let me know how it goes!

~Yvonne

A New Year's Detox

A New Year brings resolutions, to pray more, to read more, to lose weight, to eat healthier, to exercise more, ... you name it, I've probably had it on my list at one time or another. 

After Christmas, I felt sluggish and like a nasty blob. Truthfully, I hadn't been eating "right" in quite a while, I can't just blame the holidays. I was tired, exhausted, felt like I couldn't get enough sleep, was craving sugar, drank too much coffee and not enough water, and ate too many carbs. I needed a hard reset. A couple of ladies at work started talking about a juice fast, and I myself had done the Standard Process Detox Program about a year and a half ago and began contemplating options. I didn't want to spend another $220 for the shakes and supplements, and the juice cleanse appeared to consist of basically fresh squeezed grapefruit, orange, and lemon juice- I figured I could do that myself. Then I remembered....

Years ago, well, ok, over a decade ago, I purchased a very thorough book on fasting. It covers areas such as benefits of fasting, weight loss in fasting, limitations to fasting, fasting and meditation, fasting and resting/sleep, and adjunct therapy to fasting. So I revisited that book! I'd share it here, but unfortunately it's in German, so I will try to recap some of the highlights. 

5 Day Fast

Prep Day-

Yes, you have to prepare yourself for fasting. You shouldn't just quit eating one day and call it day one of your fast. Here are a couple of reasons: 

1) A prep day gets you mentally prepared

2) The prep day gets your body prepared by eating less

What to eat on prep day: either 3 lbs of fresh fruit, divided over 3 meals, or a rice day (3x50g of cooked brown rice, divided over 3 meals, or a veggie day (including a spring salad, but only lemon juice and spices for dressing) 

Here's what I did: I had a fruit shake for breakfast, an apple mid morning, a salad for lunch (this salad DID NOT have chicken, eggs, or any other protein, just veggies), and a veggie soup for dinner. 

Day One-

Whatever you do- stay close to home and allow yourself a LOT OF REST. Day 1 and 2 are the most difficult and I was tired, a lot!

This day starts with some unpleasant business- bowel prep! That is, get your gut empty. This is important because it will help you not feel as hungry, and old waste won't get stuck in there for 5 days (remember, you won't be eating, so no movement in the bowels...)

Bowel Prep:Juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 TBS of Epsom Salt, dissolved in hot water, fill up with warm or cooler water to at least 16 oz (if you want to down it faster and use a smaller amt of water, make sure you drink at least a total of 16 oz with or after this. Epsom Salt is a saline laxative and will pull water into your bowel and leave you dehydrated if you don't replenish). 

Drink plenty of water or herbal tea all day. For lunch you get 12 oz of veggie broth or 12 oz of a high quality, organic, 100% juice veggie juice. 

Dinner is 12 oz of 100% juice, high quality, organic fruit juice. I actually squeezed a grapefruit, an orange, and half a lemon every night and filled the rest of the 12 oz glass up with a fruit juice of choice. 

Day Two-Five-

Morning: herbal or green tea

Lunch: 12 oz veggie juice or veggie broth

Dinner: 12 oz fruit juice

Plenty of water throughout. 

Day Six and Seven-

Phasing food back in! Go shopping on day 5. It will make you excited about eating again the next day! 

In the morning, have your usual herbal tea. Throughout the morning, have a nicely, ripe apple, or some organic, unsweetened applesauce. 

lunch: veggie soup with carrot

dinner: tomato or asparagus soup, a plain yogurt with fresh fruit, or a few rice cakes. Basically, keep it small, whole grains, sugar free, and make it small portions. after 5 days of fasting, your eyes might be much bigger than your stomach!

Day Seven you can start with some plain oatmeal and some dried fruit, or fresh fruit, for lunch a salad and a plain yogurt for lunch, maybe a potato (steamed- no butter or cheese or all that stuff yet) and for dinner fresh veggies, veggie soup, or a protein shake made with almond milk. 

Some thoughts:

1) you need A LOT OF REST, especially on day 1 & 2. 

2) brush your teeth often, suck on a slice of lemon, etc. All your skin, including your oral mucosa will begin shedding toxins and bringing them to the surface. This can leave your tongue grey and nasty. 

3) don't start a new exercise program while on the fast and don't plan to do anything too strenuous. You may feel more energized by days 3, 4, or 5, but if you don't, then just go for long walks, or do some yoga at home, soak in a tub of epsom salt, take a nap...

4) drink lots and lots of water. 

5) caffeine detox: If you are a coffee-holic like myself, this may be the most difficult part of the fast (I know it was for me). green tea is allowed, but may not be enough. I made myself a cup of mild black tea every morning. It helped, but it was still pretty hard. The headaches that are associated with caffeine withdrawal are no joke! If you have the time, or are planning on a detox week down the road, do yourself the favor and wean down from caffeine before you start. It will make your fast week better. 

6) Allow yourself to relax from life's stresses. Obviously, I have 3 boys at home and I did not go away to some lonely mountain cabin, although that sounds fabulous! We had a quiet day at home on day 1, where only one of them was here. We tried to have fun, playing games, all without stressing mom out with the schedule, etc. (A side note: I couldn't have done this if I hadn't had 6 days off from work and if I hadn't been on a school break- the mental fog was pretty cloudy for me.)

7) It may not feel good- it really didn't for me. I'd say only Day 3 was great. Overall, I would judge that my toxic load was probably pretty hefty and I'm glad I did it. But it was rough. (I actually quit after Day 4 because of a terrible, terrible migraine- unrelated, but my lovely better half begged and urged me to eat and it did make it a little better.)

8) would I do it again? probably. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad it's over- although I truly am enjoying that the sugar cravings are gone, and my body has had the healthy reset I was hoping for. I have, however, learned a few things I'd do differently- the biggest being the coffee-deal! But: I've reset my body, I've shed a few pounds, I've fought cravings, and most of all I've learned that I can say No to food, particularly at a party. Realizing how hard this was makes me think twice before I put certain foods in my mouth now. I just really want to have to detox like that again!

Here is to a healthier, happy New Year!

~ Yvonne

Essential Oils Series- The Basics (1)

***The following information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not be substituted for expert opinion.

There has been a lot of hype in recent years about essential oils (EOs), the sheer abundance of information out there is quite overwhelming. Essential oils were the first medicines used by mankind. From Egypt to China, EO's have been used used for thousands of years. We have used EOs in our home for years and have eliminated most over-the-counter (OTC) medications from our medicine cabinet. Over the course of this year, I would like to offer some basic insight into the world of EOs, starting with The Basics, followed by a spotlight of the most often used oils at Finny Farm. (**Note: Much of our information comes from the very thorough, nicely explained, and well-researched "Reference Guide for Essential Oils" by Connie and Alan Higley).

 

1) Regulations

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates drugs, that is any product that makes direct claims to treating or curing and ailment. In order for an EO manufacturer or distributor to make such claims, there needs to be substantial evidence, rigorous random controlled trials, etc. Basically all the steps that a drug company must go through to have a drug approved on the market. Hence, it is difficult to give you a full picture of what all a particular oil can "do" or be used for. I will do the best I can to display benefits of particular oils while remaining compliant.

2) Quality:

This is a tricky topic. Because EOs are only loosely regulated, not all are created equal. in order to be labeled "100% Essential Oil," an EO must only contain a fraction of EO, while the rest of the bottle is filler (and possibly something you don't want to put on or in your body). So how do you decipher what a high quality oil is? A rule of thumb: if an oil is labeled as "fragrance" or "perfume" it is likely not pure. If an EO is labeled "not safe for ingestion" it is likely not pure. Where you can, independent lab studies can help (but these are difficult to find). One company I have come across actually offers chromatography results for every single batch of EO they manufacture... from an independent lab.

3) Application:

EOs can be used in 3 ways- topical, ingestion, and aromatherapy. Topical can be done either "neat" (undiluted) or diluted in a carrier oil more on these next). EO's can be applied pretty much anywhere on the body (except eyes and in ears), but the best places are typically vitaflex points on hands and feet, and along the spine. To ingest EOs, you can put them in an empty capsule (buy here), or swallow them directly on a spoon with honey or a carrier oil. Be careful here as some EO's are quite hot/spicy and can burn your mucosa. There are several options for aromatherapy. You can diffuse EOs with a home diffuser or cool mist vaporizer, or via a piece of aromatherapy jewelry, or by putting drops on a pillow or in your dryer.

4) Carrier Oils:

A carrier oil is any oil that can be mixed with EOs for application. Popular choices are Sweet Almond, Olive, Coconut, or Apricot Kernel oils. Options are pretty much endless, depending on budget, allergies, and preference. I will include links to some of my favorites! Carrier oils are also important when you make your own blend in a glass roller bottle. (I usually fill my roller bottle half full with carrier oil and then add all the EOs that I want in that particular blend.)

5) Don'ts:

a) do not put EOs directly in your eyes or ears

b) do not use EOs neat on young children. EOs are very concentrated and potent and absolutely need to be diluted on children.

c) do not use EOs internally on young children.

d) do not use a lot of EO. Again, EOs are very potent and a little goes a long way.

e) do not use plastic or Styrofoam with any citrus EOs.

f) do not use citrus EOs in direct sunlight. These are photosensitive and can enhance the sun's burning rays.

g) do not purchase EOs from an unknown source. I won't tell you, which company to choose. I can tell you which I chose and why, but I won't do it here. What I'm saying is: do your research! Ask questions. Look for independent lab analyses.

When in doubt, dilute. When in doubt, don't ingest. When in doubt, keep out of the sun. When in doubt, put it in a glass container.

Introducing: Lotion Paws

"Keep your paws hydrated!"

ingredients include organic, unrefined coconut oil, organic unrefined shea butter, bee's wax, and 100% therapeutic grade essential oils. 

ingredients include organic, unrefined coconut oil, organic unrefined shea butter, bee's wax, and 100% therapeutic grade essential oils. 

...with Finny Farm NEW lotion bars in a cute little paw shape! 

Currently available in 4 different scents (and completely preservative free!):

- Patchouli & Cedarwood

- Cocoa & Peppermint

- Lemon & Rosemary

- Lavender

2 purchase options: 

1) buy in a tin

2) purchase a replacement paw , save a few $, and reuse your tin!

I have been "sitting" on these for a few weeks now and am so very excited to finally launch them!

I have been "sitting" on these for a few weeks now and am so very excited to finally launch them!

Here's to a happy, healthy, blessed New Year!

~Yvonne and Bobby