Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Tea Tree Essential Oil

Tea tree essential oil is one of my favorite essential oils. It smells great and has a ton of beneficial properties. Tea tree oil comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia bush, which is native to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast coast of New South Wales, Australia. The oil is typically steam distilled from the twigs and leaves of the plant.

Tea tree oil was first shown to have antimicrobial activity in the 1920’s by Arthur Penfold (1,2). It has also been shown to have antiviral (3) and antifungal properties (4). A 2008 study of in vitro toxicity showed a tea tree oil preparation was more effective against head lice than permethrin, a popular pharmaceutical remedy (5). There is also clinical evidence that topical dermatological preparations containing tea tree oil may be more effective than conventional antibiotics in preventing transmission of MRSA (6).

Medicinal Uses:
Aboriginal peoples from eastern Australia treat cold by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves. It has been known by them as a cure-all medicine since ancient times. The Tea tree oil can be used as a cure for almost all sorts of tropical infections and diseases. An infusion can also be made from the leaves to treat sore throats and skin disorders. Tea tree oil can be used topically in a cream to clear up acne (7) and is also good when added to soap. I like to add tea tree oil to my shampoo both for scent and because it is an effective treatment for dandruff.  Check out our Tea Tree Shampoo and Body Soap here. Tea tree oil is also an efficient insect repellent; keeping insects like mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and flies away from the body when applied topically.

Ladybug Soapworks Tea Tree Shampoo and Body Soap

Interesting tidbits:

  • A dilute solution of Tea tree oil can be used to treat fish infections. I have used these products to treat my aquarium and pond if the fish get sick or have a growth and within a couple days of treatment the infection is gone.
  • In World War II cutters and producers of tea tree were exempt from military service until enough essential oil had been accumulated. It was issued to each soldier and sailor for them to treat tropical infections and other problems of warfare, including wounds.

Safety Precautions:
While many authors claim that Tea Tree oil can be applied undiluted to the skin, it is best and safest to first dilute any essential oil in carrier oil before applying it topically. In some rare cases it may be sensitizing to a few people.

  1. Penfold, A. R.; Grant, R. (1925). "The germicidal values of some Australian essential oils and their pure constituents, together with those for some essential oil isolates, and synthetics. Part III". J. R. Soc. New South Wales 59: 346–349.
  2. Halcon, L, Milkus, K, "Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial," Am J Infect Control. 2004 Nov;32(7):402-8. School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
  3. Schnitzler, P; Schön, K; Reichling, J (2001). "Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture". Die Pharmazie 56 (4): 343–7. PMID 11338678.
  4. "Antifungal effects of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and its components on Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Saccharomyces cerevisiae," J Antimicrob Chemother. 2004 Jun; 53(6):1081-5. Epub 2004 May 12.
  5. Heukelbach, J.; Canyon, D. V.; Oliveira, F. A.; Muller, R.; Speare, R. (2008). "In vitroefficacy of over-the-counter botanical pediculicides against the head lousePediculus humanusvarcapitisbased on a stringent standard for mortality assessment". Medical and Veterinary Entomology 22 (3): 264–72. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2915.2008.00738.x. PMID 18816275.
  6. Bearden, D. T.; Allen, G. P.; Christensen, J. M. (2008). "Comparative in vitro activities of topical wound care products against community-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus". Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 62 (4): 769–72. doi:10.1093/jac/dkn272. PMC 2721705. PMID 18593725
  7. Bassett, et al, "A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne," Med J Aust. 1990 Oct 15;153(8):455-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?db=PubMed&cmd=Retrieve&list_uids=2145499

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Art Auction

My friend Callie is hosting an art auction on Facebook to help raise funds for her pet's expensive doctor's bill. Ladybug Soapworks has donated a large basket of goodies (see below) to the auction. This basket includes herbal insect repellent, lavender perfume, lavender bath oil, geranium rose bath melts, sweet berries solid sugar scrub, frankincense and myrrh salt soap bar, coconut lime cupcake soap, tea tree shampoo bar, and a soap saver sack to use in the shower.

Gift basket in auction.

Callie has written up a nice blog post on Ladybug Soapworks at monsterhollowstudios.com. Go support the auction here. Just comment on the photo of the item you want to bid on and place your bid in the comments section. The auction is running through tomorrow (Sunday Feb 24th), so hurry up and bid!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Facebook giveaway winner!

My giveaway for a luxurious dark chocolate soap cupcake has come to an end. The lucky winner is Diane V. (I have already sent you an email asking for your address). Congratulations!

I wish more people had entered, but I guess next time I will try it on my blog to see if I can get more participation. This was my first time using Rafflecopter as my giveaway host. I would highly recommend that you check it out. You can use it free with limited abilities, but it still works great as the free version. I was able to have options for how people could enter. They could like me on Facebook, or on Twitter, or send a Tweet about my giveaway. This gave people up to 3 chances to enter. I liked how Rafflecopter kept track of all my entries and then can be used to select a winner. This really helps to make sure that your winner is selected fairly. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making Greek yogurt in a crockpot!

My mother and I were chatting about making yogurt in a crockpot probably 6 months ago. She was telling me how simple and delicious it turns out. Well, being one that likes to try new things, it has been stuck in my mind since then. Finally the time has come and guess what? Mom was right...it really was quite simple and delicious.

I wanted to avoid straining my yogurt really just because it sounds messy and I was feeling lazy. So, I followed directions for foolproof (no strain) Greek yogurt over at One good thing by Jillee with a bit of a modification (I did not put my yogurt into jars for the 8-12 hr incubation and just left it in the crockpot). 

I might also recommend halving the recipe unless your family eats a lot of yogurt each week. A full gallon of milk turned out to be WAY too much yogurt for Dylan and I.

1 gallon milk (I used 1%)
2-3 cups powdered milk (I used 3 cups of nonfat powdered milk)
1/2 cup yogurt with active bacterial strains (I used a Greek yogurt with 5 strains).

1. Pour the milk into your crockpot.

2. Whisk in the powdered milk to increase the proteins and produce a thicker yogurt.

Whisking in the powdered milk

3. Heat the milk in the crockpot on low until it reaches 180 degrees F
. This took about 2.5-3hrs for me.
4. Turn off the crockpot and cool the milk to between 95 to 115 degree F.
5. Stir in a half cup of live culture yogurt into the milk until completely blended.

Heat to 180 deg. F

6. Remove the crockpot ceramic insert, cover and wrap with towels or a blanket.

Wrap with towels to keep around 100 deg. F overnight.

7. Place the wrapped crockpot in an oven with the light on for 8 to 12 hours to complete the culturing process.

6. At the end of your culturing time, scoop the yogurt into containers and place in the fridge and chill before eating.

Look how thick it is!

It is supposed to last 10 days and if you plan to make this regularly remember to remove half a cup of the yogurt to use as your bacterial starter next time. The starter can be frozen so that it lasts longer. 

The yogurt tastes great with a bit of honey and granola. Yumm! While it did turn out quite thick, I still think I will strain it with a cheese cloth or coffee filter next time to get it extra thick. Then perhaps I can use the whey in some soap!

Mixed with a bit of honey and some cereal...yumm!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Sweet berries...surprisingly good.

Lately, I have been browsing lots of soap blogs and Pinterest and all the creativity has inspired me to play more with colors. So I decided to make a Sweet Berries scented soap and color portions of it pink, blue, and black and leave some uncolored to be a cream color. The pink and blue/green are oxides and the black is from activated charcoal powder. My intent was to swirl the colors together, but in my excitement I forgot that I normal work with a 30% water discount so that I get to trace really quickly. Well when one swirls soap you do not want to trace quickly. So my soap got too thick too fast and in the end I just decided to plop the soap in the mold in a random fashion and hope for the best. I have to say that I was not too hopeful since the top look muted and just plain blah.

Before the cutting...seemed like a muted blah...

So when I finally cut the soap I was really surprised that I liked the final product. It almost looks like the Leopard soap that Cee Gee made over on Oil & Butter.

Nice color variations in every slice!

The silcone soap mold shown above is really a great tool for soapmaking and it is really reasonably priced. You can pick the mold up at Amazon. *Please note that this is an affiliate link and I get paid a small amount from Amazon if you purchase through the link. No worries though, it costs you nothing extra!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Beautiful gifts for her Etsy treasury

My geranium rose soap seems to be a popular pick for Etsy treasuries. Here is another one that I found featuring my soap. I feel so flattered when people select my soap out of the literally thousands of soap bars on Etsy! Keep it coming! :)

Soap Cupcake Giveaway!!

Enter to win a Dark Chocolate soap cupcake on my Facebook page. All you have to do is go to the giveaway page and either friend Ladybug Soapworks on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or tweet about the giveaway. Or you can do all 3 and get entered into the giveaway 3 times!!! Easy peasy, right?!

You can win one of these babies!

*This giveaway is in no way affiliated, administered or endorsed by Facebook. Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, February 20th. Winner will be notified by email by 2/22/2013 and will need to respond within 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen. Giveaway open only to people in the USA (sorry)!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies. ~Aristotle

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and well known essential oils. It is generally known to calm and relax the body to the point that it is often used to promote sleep. Did you know that it is also antibacterial and helps burns to heal faster and without scaring? Lavender oil is also one of the safest essential oils and can be used to treat children’s minor cuts and scrapes. Many essential oils are not safe to use on children.

© Beisea | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Lavender essential oil comes from over 20 different species and they can be grouped into 3 main varieties. 

1.   True lavender. Lavandula angustifolia, L. officinalis, and L. vera are commonly known as common lavender or English lavender. These plants feature narrow leaves, short, crooked stems, and barrel-shaped flowers. The flower gives off a sweet, floral scent that sooths, calms, and relaxes.

2.   Spike lavender essential oil. L. spica and L. latifolia are coarser plants, with broader leaves than true lavender (L. officinalis). While these varieties yields up to three times the amount of essential oil as true lavender, the scent is less highly prized. The oil from spike lavender flowers is more akin to a combination of eucalyptus and lavender. 

3.   Lavandin essential oil. L. hybrida is a sterile hybrid plant that results from the cross-pollination of English lavender and spike lavender. This oil is more camphorous than L. angustifolia and has similar, but less pronounced, therapeutic properties. It can be included in formulations intended for pain relief or disinfection. Compared to true lavender plants, these plants have larger leaves, longer stems, and larger flowers that are pointed at the tip. Lavandin produces more oil than true lavender; however, the scent is quite different from true lavender. Lavandin tends to have a woody scent with a hint of a spicy-green, camphor aroma. While Lavandin does have therapeutic properties, it is not be used as a substitute for true lavender since the therapeutic properties differ. 

Lavender Oil is often the first essential oil that is used to help recover from burns. Here is an interesting tidbit: This amazing property of lavender essential oil was first discovered by René-Maurice Gattefossé in 1910. The following is a tale traditionally told about his discovery:

“In 1910 French chemist and scholar René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered the virtues of the essential oil of lavender. Gattefossé badly burned his hand during an experiment in a perfumery plant and plunged his hand into the nearest tub of liquid, which just happened to be lavender essential oil. He was later amazed at how quickly his burn healed and with very little scarring. This started a fascination with essential oils and inspired him to experiment with them during the First World War on soldiers in the military hospitals.”

While there is some truth to this tale, the real story as told by Gattefossé himself, in his book Aromathérapie: Les Huiles Essentielles Hormones Végétales (buy here translated into English), states:

“The external application of small quantities of esences rapidly stops the spread of gangrenous sores. In my personal experience, after a laboratory explosion covered me with burning substances which I extinguished by rolling on a grassy lawn, both my hands were covered with a rapidly developing gas gangrene. Just one rinse with lavender essence stopped “the gasification of the tissue”. This treatment was followed by profuse sweating, and healing began the next day (July 1910).”

Ladybug Soapworks Lavender Soap

Ladybug Soapworks uses lavender essential oil in our lavender soap, lavender bath salts, lavender roll-on perfume oil, and lavender bath oil. Try some of these products to experience the calming and relaxing properties of lavender oil.

For more information see:
Aromaweb.com  - Great website with lots of information on essential oils.
http://personalcaretruth.com/2011/04/gattefosses-burn/ - Good site with the true story of how René-Maurice Gattefossé found the burn healing properties of lavender.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Top 5 Cleaning Tip Links

My unemployment time has been filled with trying to my business in gear, cleaning, painting trim in my house, and cooking! So you will see a lot of this coming into my posts. This weeks "Top 5" list is filled with cleaning tips that I have come across recently and just love.
  1. Rain-x to keep glass shower door soap scrum free! This might also be great to do on the out side of windows. here
  2. Spring cleaning tips at a bowl full of lemons. It is almost time to start thinking about this!
  3. Non-toxic bathroom cleaning plus links to recipes for making many of your own cleaning solutions at Chiot's Run.
  4. I have been trying to get a lot of house painting done before I have to go back to working full-time and cleaning my paint brushes is always a dreaded pain. So this tip from the Creek Line House titled "the Easiest, Laziest Way to Clean Your Paintbrushes" should help!
  5. Green cleaning tips using common household items over at cozi.com.

PS. Don't forget to clean the pets!

Okay, I just thought this was too cute and I needed to post it! Meow

Monday, February 11, 2013

The most beautiful flower treasury

My Geranium rose soap has been featured in a beautiful Etsy treasury. Check it out below or here. If you like it, you can comment on the link and it may get to the front page of Etsy! You can pick up some of this pretty soap here. I love having people select my products to go into their treasuries and I feel like they all turn out so beautiful. Have you made a treasury on Etsy? I still have not, but I probably should try to put one together someday.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Nemo Attacks! Snow Overload!

Well, the Blizzard Nemo has come and gone and left about 3 ft of snow behind. We have drifts over 6 ft tall and no place to put the snow from our drive way. We spend hours shoveling the sidewalks (note to self never buy a corner lot house again as you have twice as much sidewalk to shovel!) and still need to figure out how to do the driveway. Our road still is not plowed and may not be plowed until tomorrow.  Pretty crazy! Here are some pictures for you all! Enjoy!

Snow Angel!

We have walls leading up to the house.

Dylan action shot.

The only reason you can tell there is a road here is cause the stop sign!

Maybe I should make some soap with the snow! Like a wintery peppermint....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ingredient Spotlight: Neem oil

If you don't know anything about Neem oil, I can assure you that the first time you encounter the oil it will make a strong impression. Strong in the sense that it has a very powerful odor! Boy does this oil stink! If you can get past the smell though, Neem has some wonderful properties and has been used in Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine for over 2000 years! In India, the tree is often referred to as the "Sacred Tree" and the "Panacea for all diseases". Obviously, this tree has made a huge impact on their culture. Neem oil is a liquid vegetable oil that is pressed from the fruit and seeds of the Neem tree (Azadirachta indica) which is originally from India.

Neem tree with fruit.

Neem oil or a tea made from the leaves can be drunk, but it has a bitter taste, which is often a signal of medicinal properties. In Ayurvedic medicine, Neem is used as a blood purifier and is also heavily used to treat skin disease and irritations, fever. Small twigs were traditionally used to clean teeth like a toothbrush.

Neem is also known to be an all natural pesticide and can be simply sprayed on plants that need protection from pests, but is not harmful to mammals, birds, earthworms, and if not sprayed directly on their food source, butterflies, honeybees, and ladybugs.

I use Neem oil in my sensitive skin soap that I have specifically formulated to be gentle irritated skin. This soap works great for me when I have eczema flair-ups.

Have you encountered Neem oil?  What do you think of it?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Lentil and brown rice casserole recipe

Since I have not been working outside of my home for the past month, I have been spending more time cooking dinners. This next recipe is a modification from a recipe in the Vegetarian cookbook pictured below. You can get this cookbook at Amazon*.

The inspiration!
1 1/4 cup red lentils
1 cup brown rice
6 cups vegetable broth 
3 cloves of garlic
3 small leeks
1 red bell pepper
1/2 can baby corn
about 4 oz fresh green beans 
head of broccoli florets
28 oz can of diced tomatoes

1. Add the lentils, rice, and vegetable broth to a large pot. Cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes.

2. Cut the vegetables up into small to medium sized pieces.

Sliced and diced!

3. Add the cut vegetables, spices, and canned tomato to the pot and boil for abut 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Garnish with some fresh basil and serve it up! It will continue to thicken over time.  Mine started out like a soup and ended up being a thick casserole.

Now I found that once it becomes really thick that it tastes nice if you shred some cheese on the top and mix it in.  But then again there isn't much that I don't like when covered in cheese!
*Please note that this is an affiliate link. I get paid a small amount at no cost to you if you purchase through this link.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bulk Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe

I mentioned in my last post that I had plans to mix up some bulk pancake mix. I tend to eat only whole wheat products and most whole wheat pancakes tend to be hard and thin. I found this great recipe in the Martha Stewart magazine (see original here) a few years ago and have been making it since as my only pancake recipe. It produces nice, fluffy pancakes that are thick, soft, and delicious. The wheat germ just helps to round out the flavor perfectly.

1.25 cups Whole wheat flour
0.25 cups Wheat germ
2 Tbsp Sugar
1.5 tsp Baking powder
0.5 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Salt

1.5 cups Buttermilk
0.25 cups Vegetable oil
2 Eggs, lightly beaten

Combine and mix dry ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix.
All to rest for 10 minutes.
Cook on griddle.

For the bulk batch that I made, I multiplied the dry ingredient volumes by 5 and mixed them together. I then placed the mixed dry ingredients into a storage container. When I go to make pancakes next, all I have to do is measure out 1.5 cups and 3 tbsp of the dry mix and add to it the wet ingredients as listed above. This might make it quick enough that I get back into making them every Sunday! If you are like me and never have buttermilk, you can easily substitute any type of cow's milk (skim-whole) with a bit of lemon or lime juice added. If you make this with low-fat buttermilk the calories, fat, etc should be correct in the photo below.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

My 5 favorite links of the week

I am spending way too much time on Pinterest, but I am finding so many great projects to do on everyone's boards! I think all of these links come from Pinterest finds. So here is my list of top five links for the week. 
  1. Homemade baking mixes at Fake-it-frugal. I plan to make these plus a bulk pancake mix and homemade instant oatmeal! This will save money and time!
  2. Make your own microwave popcorn at Frugal Living NW. I spend way too much money on microwave popcorn.
  3. Homemade pizza crust at Annies eats. I want to make up a big batch of this and freeze it to have on hand for quick dinners.
  4. Homemade chocolate sauce at Small notebook. This looks like it would be good on ice cream and in alcoholic drinks as well as to make chocolate milk.
  5. Make your own instant oatmeal at Amy Loves Her Life. I plan to make this and store it in a jar instead of individual bags. I will probably modify it a bit to cut down on the sugar and replace some with stevia (I think they have a brown sugar version!). I'll let you know what I come up with!
Picture from smallnotebook.org

As you can see my mind must be on food! I will be going back to work soon and I really want to get the kitchen prepped for quick homemade dinners. I have really enjoyed cooking good food while I have been at home, but once I start working again it will be hard to find the time. So, I am hoping to stock up my pantry and freezer with prepared or quick to prepare foods so I can continue to eat well!