Sunday, May 26, 2013

Life in the Garden

When I used to live in Calgary I always wanted to be able to start getting into my garden in March, forget about waiting until April or probably May like any sane gardener, I needed to get that dirt under my nails now.  My heart envied those folks on the west coast that had their daffodils and tulips up in February, it made me look at the snow, and well, stick my tongue out at it.

Five years ago my mother & I decided to move back to the coast.  Back in, this is where I was born and spent the first few years of my life.  I was even fortunate enough to have spent a great deal of those first few years on tugboats and fishing boats so the smell of the sea is home.

We bought a property with immense gardens (forgetting what immense work those immense gardens would take).  The first 2 years we let the gardens show us what was in them and by year 2 we also discovered this thing called horsetail.... A weed that dates back to prehistoric times... Living with this beast I can understand how it has survived thousands and millions of years. Wow, it seems you pull it and you think you have the roots when bam there it is again sneaking up in the same spot, well it seems like the same spot.

As a soap-maker I should be embracing this tenacious plant because it has a lot of great qualities to add to my products.  It contains a large amount of silica which is exceptional for hair products helping the hair be soft as well as sealing the shaft of the hair allowing for easy comb-out.  Medicinally this plant has a long history as a cure-all.  It helps the body retain calcium which assists in cases like osteoporosis, arthritis, anemia and so many other conditions.  Of course I just learned the internal medicine part now as I am righting this post.  Here are a couple of links to read more about it:

These are just a few sites to look at, a google search gives you quite a but more.

Oh yeah, back to the gardening bit.  So we quickly learned that horsetails love this climate and you have to be pulling them daily or they will take over your garden.  It doesn't matter that you have a wonderful ground cover which would normally keep the weeds down, nope there comes a horsetail right though the middle of it.  Stupid plant... So yesterday I decided I would help out with the weeding and took on a small garden that was so overgrown you couldn't see the "good" plants; those would be the ones you want in the garden after all a weed is just a plant you don't want growing there.  I filled up a full garbage bag with weeds plus another pail full, but oh does that garden look good.

Here is the garden I did yesterday:

  I planted this Fuchsia the year we moved in and it is now an amazing plant but I need to either move it into a spot by itself or trim back the Cotoneaster in order to allow the Fuchsia to shine.  This is in the same garden as I weeded yesterday.

And here is what it was like before....

I must admit this is a climate where you should be gardening all year long to keep the gardens looking nice.  Of course I don't but I think I am going to start doing a bunch more.  It is so satisfying to look at the gardens and see what they are doing in each season.  It totally thrills my heart to see flowers bloom all winter long and I am so incredibly grateful to be able to live here in my personal paradise....

Now to get those new plants in the ground....

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cosmetic Notification Form Workshops

Here in Canada those of us who make soaps of any kind need to register with Health Canada and we need to complete Cosmetic Notification Forms that are then mailed in to Health Canada.  The reason behind this is that soaps are considered cosmetics here and therefore are regulated as any other cosmetic which includes lotions.

So many out there are just not aware of the requirements here because most of the forums out there are American and in the US, as of today, you do not need to even disclose ingredients if it is called soap.  So it gets very confusing for Canadians who want to start selling their products.

Once they are aware of the regulations, they now have to find all the things they need to learn, not an easy task and there is just so much to learn.  Then comes the Cosmetic Notification Form which for many is confusing to say the least.

This is the reason I have decided to start giving these workshops.  I have completing these forms for over five years and have come to know them very well.  I am going to share that knowledge to help others get as comfortable with these as I am with the knowledge they are doing them right.

The workshops are going to help using Go To Meeting which allows us to interact as discuss which will enable everyone to really understand as we go through the forms step by step.  You will be able to refer to your own recipe right there, with the class.  We will discuss the following areas:
  • Cold/Hot Process Soaps
  • Melt & Pour Soaps
  • Liquid Soaps
  • Cream Soaps
  • Lotions, Creams
  • Other Bath & Body care products.
The first of these workshops is now full and I am just so excited to be able to share my knowledge with them.  A group of 6 allows us to have the time to actually ask questions, get answers and get what each needs from the workshop.

In the future I will be breaking these up to East & West in order to find times that will work best for everyone.

Labeling is the next are of confusion and much discussion in Canada because again we have very definite laws as to what must appear on the labels and where.  Again, because we are on US forums the information about labeling is confusing.  So that brings us to the next Workshop in the series.

I have always loved teaching workshops including First Responders when I was the trainer for our group to giving workshops at Lee Valley Tools in Calgary teaching wood carving and pyrography (wood burning).  I've also taken workshops on-line so I know what it is that I like, as well what I don't like.  What works and what doesn't.  Through these experiences I believe I will be able to create an atmosphere for people to enjoy learning what we all need to know in order to run our soap, bath & body products here in Canada.

I really am excited about this because it allows me to do something I love to do while being able to help others learn new skills that are so necessary.