Anatomy of TSF Soap

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 I’m always humbled and grateful when asked to speak about what I do here on Thompson Street Farm.  This week I was the speaker at a local garden club here in town and I have to say what a wonderful group of ladies! I understand there are 5 garden clubs in town, and this particular club has been together for over 30 years.  Can you imagine how much knowledge and experience there was sitting in that room! How cool!

After my presentation on growing micro-greens, a sweet woman asked about how I made my soaps. She identifies handmade soap to her childhood elderly neighbor, Mrs. Jones, peddling her soap door to door.¬† Apparently¬†her soap was extremely harsh that one lost a few layers of skin when using it. I‚Äôm guessing from the age of my new friend,¬†‚ÄúMrs. Jones‚ÄĚ learned how to make soap between World War I and the Depression. In those days, there weren‚Äôt a lot of choices for oils other than animal fats and other moisturizing ingredients –¬†which explains the harshness of her soap.

Commercial Soap

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Today there is a world of difference between commercial soaps and handmade. Technically commercial soap is not real soap but a detergent that is created from petroleum based products .  Yes, the base ingredient in commercial soap is petroleum oil!

My Decision to make Handmade Soap

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(Lavender Soap made with lavender grown on our property)

When I began researching how to make soap it was out of necessity.¬† I had been purchasing a goat‚Äôs milk soap from an independently owned health food store for my daughter.¬† My daughter had a stroke before she was born and as a result she is missing 80% of her right brain, so we had many health issues to deal with.¬† She is also a beautiful redhead with extremely sensitive skin.¬† It didn‚Äôt matter which commercial soap I used, her skin was as red as her hair and irritated ‚Äď similar to the reaction to Mrs. Jones soap!

Perfumes were also a huge problem for my daughter.  It is not uncommon for children that have severe brain damage to have an over-reactive sensory system. I can only explain it as standing in front of a speaker at rock concert 24 /7.  The brain’s sensory system is on overload it can’t filter out and dial down what’s going on around them. If you stop and think about it, our world is pretty noisy. For Katie as a baby, sound, smell and textures was magnified a billion times over.

Its an understatement that the¬†early days for Katie were painful ‚Äď everything bothered her. For example, my husband loved Irish Spring Soap, but when he came near her she would become overwhelmed and started to scream and cry.¬† We went through a period of time when I dumped every commercially made product including the toothpaste and toilet paper and we went O-Natural! ¬†Thankfully, Katie is much better thanks to years of therapy.

The Decision to Make My Own Soap:

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(Pine Soap – pine needles are harvested from our own pine trees and now that I’m becoming a herbalist, I’m¬†adding my own pine infused olive oil to this soap!)

When Wholefoods moved to town our small independent health food store went out of business and that ended my source for handcrafted goat’s milk soap. The good news is soap making had become popular and with YouTube at my fingertips, I decided it was time to take control of our soap supply and learn how to make soap.

When I started my research I had a basic list of requirements:

  • The soap had to be moisturizing, have a great lather but be a firm enough that didn‚Äôt melt into a pile of goo in the shower.
  • Ingredients had to be mild enough for daughter‚Äôs sensitive skin.
  • Oils for the soap had to be found in the grocery store and had to come from the plant world.
  • Scents need to be from the plant world (correction/clarification from original posting:¬†I do use fragrance oils if essential oils are not available,¬†too expensive, or I happen to like the scent!).

I knew I wanted my soap to have at lease 2 oils that were great for skin, olive oil and coconut oil. After weeks of research, my first generation master soap recipe was born and it was a Mediterranean inspired blend using 4 oils and raw goats’ milk.

  • ¬†Olive oil ‚Äď has been used for centuries as a great skin conditioner and moisturizer.
  • Coconut oil ‚Äď has been used for centuries as a great skin conditioner and moisturizer.
  • Canola Oil ‚Äď creates a stable lather and a great skin conditioner.
  • Safflower Oil ‚Äď creates a wonderful lather and is a great skin conditioner.
  • Herbs, flowers, vegetables and goats milk had to be either grown by me or acquired by a local farmer that shared my socially responsible beliefs.

During my research, I learned there is a minefield related to certain common ingredients in soap making. The biggest one is palm oil, and the atrocities associated to the destruction of rainforests to meet the worlds demand for palm oil.

I admit, my soaps are not for everyone, but I can honestly say I try to be socially conscious and intentional on where my ingredients are sourced. It is important to my daughter’s wellbeing and to me. I want to create a product that is safe; with no chemicals or preservatives.

New Sea Salt and Mineral Clay Inspired Soap with Avocado Oil

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I have to say I have the best customers! They are intelligent, well-traveled and socially conscious and they are challenging me to take my social responsibility even further! Over the summer I heard a few concerns expressed about how canola oil is grown and processed. Canola oil comes from a plant called rapeseed and most of the crop grown in the world is from GMO seed. Since I refuse to use GMO vegetable seeds on my farm it was an easy decision to do the right thing and switch out that oil and substitute it for sunflower oil.

In addition, I did some more research on the benefits of sea salt and mineral clays in soap.¬† Out of that research I created a new 4 oil sea salt soap using avocado oil. Avocado oil is rich in vitamins A, B, D, and E. ¬†Sea salt is known for its relaxing properties and is a natural detoxifier as well as some of the mineral clays that I use –¬†Dead Sea Clay, French Green Clay,¬†Bentonite Clay and Moroccan Clay.

So¬† I say to my new” Garden Club Friend” ‚Äď try my soaps, I think you will be pleasantly surprised just how good you will feel! Please check out my entire line of soap on website online store.

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(Honey, Cinnamon and Carrot Soap – I purchase my honey from a local farmer. Although I might get brave and purchase a hive in the coming year.)

 

Strawberry and Chia Seed Pudding – Recipe Review

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I love pudding but unfortunately puddings made with any kind of mammal milk do not like me.¬† Over the years I’ve developed an allergy to milk.¬† If I ignore the allergy I pay dearly for it with a serious sinus infection and fever blisters.¬† Those who know me well can always tell when I’ve cheated – the signs are always on my face.¬† Its not pretty…

Not being able to enjoy milk products¬†has been a major bummer for me, as I love artisan cheese, milk, ice-cream, fresh yogurt, puddings¬†and thing else made with milk.¬† So when I saw this recipe on “Cooking Without Limits” blog for¬†a pudding that:

  1. didn’t require milk
  2. didn’t require cooking
  3. used simple ingredients
  4. interchangeable ingredients
  5. low calorie

I had try the recipe.

In the original recipe she calls for 200 ml of either soya milk or almond milk.  We drink almond milk, but last night we were running low so I dug around in my pantry and found a can of coconut milk.  So here is my version of the recipe. (click here for a link to the original recipe Strawberry Chia Seed Pudding)

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1 can coconut milk (400 ML)

 

 

 

 

 

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   3 Tablespoons chia seed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract

(I make my own extract using the a bunch of vanilla beans split down the middle and stuffed into a bottle of the cheapest vodka I can find. It works like a charm!)

 

 

 

 

 

Mix the milk, chia seeds and vanilla together in a bowl cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for a minimum of an hour to 24 hours.  The chia seeds will develop with gelatin coating which makes the milk become a pudding consistency.

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When pudding is ready spoon into a bowl and add fresh fruit and serve.  Its that easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you prefer a sweeter pudding add Agave syrup, honey or maple syrup.  I added a drizzle of Agave syrup because it has a lower glycemic index.

For those that really counting calories – use the 30 calorie Almond Milk instead of the coconut milk.

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“Cooking Without Limits” hit this one out of the park! She gets my highest rating

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Home Spa Day – Avocado and Olive Oil Hair Treatment

Winter is a time for me to regroup, do research and experiment with new ideas.¬† This winter is no exception.¬†¬†Since the first of the year, I’ve been¬†testing all kind of things for possible new product lines¬†and launching new projects (this blog is one of those projects!).

The biggest¬†project¬†is the renovation and conversion of my green house into a commercial aquaponic operation.¬† I’ve hired a start up company call Fresh Farm Aquaponics¬†¬†to¬†install the system and teach me¬†how to use it.¬† More on them¬†and the new¬†system in¬†upcoming posts.

My other projects include expanding my all natural herbal soap line and developing a new specialty line of spa soaps using minerals from around the world.¬†¬†I’m really excited about my new line and will be rolling that out soon.¬† Finally,¬†with the help of my friend Elyse, we are busy testing and developing¬†recipes using micro greens, herbs and other¬†produce that¬†I grown here on the farm with the hopes of publishing a cookbook¬†in the coming year.¬† Just make me another pot of coffee please, I need something to keep me afloat….AHHH!

 

Giada De Laurentiis

I recently purchased Giada De Laurentiis’ newest cookbook “Giada Feel Good: My healthy recipes and secrets”¬† While looking through her cookbook, I came across the section about¬†hair (page 198).¬† She talks about¬†home natural beauty treatments for her dry hair.¬† She discusses several of her treatments but one¬†caught my eye and I had to give it a try…on my daughter.

For those of you that don’t know,¬†my daughter Katie has severe Cerebral Palsy.¬† She suffered a stroke¬†the¬†last few weeks of¬†our pregnancy and no one knew it until 3 months later when her Pediatrician, on a hunch that something wasn’t right, referred us to a specialist for an evaluation – our world was changed forever.¬†¬†Needless to¬†say, the news¬†that our beautiful daughter¬†had significant brain damage was devastating for our family.

She is now¬†seventeen years old¬†and years of harsh medications and several major surgeries¬†have¬†taken¬†their toll on her body.¬† Katie is currently on a cocktail of seizure drugs and a few other medications for other organ problems¬†and it’s¬†affecting her hair.¬† Her hair is dry as a bone and she has serious split ends.¬† One drug side effect makes her hair thin out, which is a problem.¬† So when I saw Giada’s home recipes for dry hair I got excited and knew I had to try it on my Katie!

 

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Just two ingredients are needed – 1 small avocado and a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil.¬† Since Katie’s hair was so dry, I used 1/2 cup.

 

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I cut the avocado into pieces, added the olive oil into my blender…

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I blended it into a nice green paste.¬† It will be thick and I thought about adding more oil (or water) to thin it out but decided not to.¬† I didn’t want to change anything and follow Giada’s recipe as¬†written in her book.

 

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I started on the top of Katie’s head and scalp and worked it in all the way to the ends of her hair¬†using the entire mixture.

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Giada then¬†puts a¬†shower cap over her hair and leaves it in for 10 – 20 minutes.¬† I didn’t¬†have a shower cap so I used plastic wrap instead –¬†worked like a charm.¬† She also states that¬†you may¬†need to wash your hair more than once to get all the oil and avocado residue out.

So I set the timer for 10 minutes, put Katie in the bath tub and gave her a bath.¬† After 10 minutes,¬†I rinsed and washed her hair like I normally do, including adding conditioner.¬† I was surprised only 1 washing was needed – that told me Katie’s hair was really dry and¬†absorbed all¬†those good nutrients.¬† ¬†After the final rinse, I could tell right away Katie’s hair FELT¬†softer and healthier. I was getting excited but still¬†needed to hold my enthusiasm for the final test – combing out her hair (her hair is always full of tangles)¬†and seeing how it felt when¬†dry.¬† Would it feel greasy because I didn’t wash all the oily residue out?

 

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A few hours later, her hair was dry and what a difference!  It felt so soft, it felt moisturized and healthy and what a shine!  I also noticed her split ends looked pretty good.

Katie before after

Here is the¬†before and after pictures – the lighting¬†isn’t exactly the same but either way¬†you can definitely see a difference.¬†¬†Even combing her hair out a day later was easier and tangles were¬†easier to manage than before.

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I give this¬†natural home spa treatment my highest rating –¬†Three¬†Happy Faces!!!!!¬† It was easy to create and the¬†results were far beyond my expectations!¬† I will be giving Katie this treatment once a month going forward.¬† Thank you Giada for sharing your¬†hair secrets with us. This recipe really works!