Star Harvest Farm

~Hand made soaps for the soul~


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Sometimes Husbands Have Good Ideas

Sarah

I’m going to make Hunter’s Soap. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m going to be making it very soon.

The soap was not my idea, it was my husband’s. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows him

He loves the outdoors. He loves hunting. He loves…Duck Dynasty. (Insert rolling-eyes smiley here.)

In fact, it was Duck Dynasty that provided the spark of inspiration that is behind my soon-to-be, wildly-successful Hunter’s Soap. (I’ll probably call it something else though…maybe something like…”My Husband is a Closet Redneck”). One evening, after thoroughly enjoying an episode of Duck Dynasty (which he had DVR’d), my husband said, “You need to make a camo-soap. A soap that will mask human scent, or even eliminate it. You can make it look like camouflage soap, right?”

I looked dubious…and not a little disdainful. “You want a camouflage soap?” I asked. “Does that mean you want your soap to blend into the underbrush so it can’t be seen?”

My husband looked impatient. “No, I just thought it would be more appealing to the whole hunting demographic (redneck-wannabees occasionally know words like, “Demographic.”).

“I can do that,” I said.  “Do you really think there is a market for it?”

“Yes,” said my husband. We live in Virginia. It’s like the state sporting event…or at least it should be.”

Soooooo, I did some research, and discovered that it is quite possible, not to mention acceptable, to create a hunter’s soap in camouflage colors. Apparently, there are a few essential oils, like anise star and cedarwood,  that will mask human scent, and/or remove it (temporarily, of course). There are also several natural color choices for olive green, and brown. My curiosity had been piqued. I made a few orders, did a little more research,  and calculated some formulations.

Hunter’s Soap is going to become a reality! And truthfully, I am actually looking forward to making this Hunter’s Soap, or as I like to call it, “My Husband is a Closet Redneck Soap.”

And who knows, my husband has been right on a few occasions. He married me, didn’t he? Maybe this soap will become a national hit. Maybe I’ll even go global. The President will give me the key to the city. They’ll throw camouflaged-themed parades in my honor, and maybe…just maybe, a slick TV producer will make a reality show about me and my soap business. I already have the title: “Soap Dynasty.” 😉

 

Sarah

PS: Yes, I’ll post pictures when I’m finished. Don’t I always?

camo

 

 

 

 


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Is it Summer Yet?

Sarah

 

Sorry I haven’t blogged lately. I had the Christmas rush, and then I spent much of January and February making soap…or being sick. *sigh*

That being said, it was a very successful holiday season for Star Harvest Farm, and I’m grateful for all my friends, relatives and new friends who have taken the time to promote the business, and specifically my beloved soap.

Beloved soap. Yes, that is what it is. Soap making is a passion, an addiction, and if you ask my husband…it’s an obsession.  And in truth, he has a point. There have been more than a few instances, when he’s caught me pretending to listen to him, when I am actually constructing soap or lotion recipes in my head.

“Sarah!!” He’ll shout.

“Huh?” I will say…rather sheepishly.

“I just asked you if you remembered to race down the road in your pajamas, while clucking like a chicken and you said, ‘Yes.’”

“Oh. I’m sorry,” I’ll say. “I was just thinking about…”

“You were thinking about soap,” he’ll finish for me.

“Yes.”

And I was.  It happens that way a lot. I’ll suddenly be struck by a theme, or a fragrance, and my brain will be off and running.  In fact at this writing, I have eight to ten partially finished recipes in my mental soap repertoire.

But some of my best-selling soaps are the result of my saponified (chemical reaction) ruminations. I made Starry Night Soap, while thinking about Vincent Van Gogh. Gwynnie’s Soap was the result of my concern over a loved-one’s skin condition…and my newest, and prettiest soap to date, was created in an attempt to shake off the icy fingers of winter, and the gray clouds that cling to the tops of the trees in my back yard.

I was longing for warm sunshine, and hot sand…which started me thinking about the smells and tastes of summer. And it wasn’t long before I formulated a cucumber and melon soap recipe.

I managed to find a watermelon at the grocer, extracted some juice, and put it in my soap along with the juice of a cucumber. I selected my coloring method and other ingredients carefully (well, I always do, actually), and I created my Cucumber & Melon Soap. I will probably call it Summer Soap…because that’s what it reminds of.

Now I have dozens of beautiful green and pink swirled soaps curing on the shelf. The smell of watermelon and crisp cucumber originating from the soaps, has permeated my house, and the effect it has had on my psyche has been nothing short of miraculous.

I was so pleased with the soap, that I took pictures of it, and posted the pictures on Facebook, which you can find under Star Harvest Farm, LLC (for my millions of fans out there).

But, for those who don’t Facebook (and honestly, I see your point sometimes), here is my Summer Soap. The pictures are set against the gray winter sky, but you will see that the soap is already providing a sharp contrast to the waning days of winter, and points to green, and sunshine…and summer!

Sarah

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For the Love of Mint

I know it’s been a while since I wrote my last blog. We’ve been busy with Fall Festivals, and increasing our inventory for the holidays. But, things have settled down for the time being, and I have carved out a precious niche of time this bright Sunday morning, to write, drink my cinnamon-flavored coffee and absorb the ambiance of topaz-colored trees in the midst of their autumn swan songs.

Peppermint, drying.

I harvested the last of this year’s herbs yesterday…peppermint, spearmint and bayberry. I’ve already selected them, washed them, and placed them in the drying racks. Mints, are my favorite herbs.  Bayberry is a close second, but the mint family offers a wide variety of medicinal and culinary benefits, that allow me to tailor the attributes I’m looking for when I create a soap or lotion recipe.  Not to mention the unbelievably wonderful smell that wafts from the plant, even when dried.

As I plucked the leafy herbs from their stems, I was reminded once again of the fragility of peppermint.  Its delicate leaves are always a bit of a surprise to me. It’s quite diminutive next to its very sturdy cousin spearmint. Peppermint essential oil is so pungent. It just doesn’t seem to match its fragile origin.

As I worked my way to the end of the herb row, I reveled in the simplicity and timelessness of the activity…harvesting herbs. This is one of the most satisfying aspects of making my own personal care products. I love the idea and the reality of using my farm-grown, nutrient-rich herbs in my soaps and lotions. I love having control over the quality and amount that goes into my recipes, and I love the results.

And, as one might surmise, I have a significant line of mint soaps and lotions that I’ve developed. All of them pay homage, in one way or another, to one of the mints we’ve grown and harvested. In fact our signature soap, Starry Night, bears the scent of peppermint, and it’s our best seller. Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves mint.

Sarah

Starry Night Soap 🙂


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Fig Rhapsody

There’s something special about figs. I know. I know. You were probably thinking the same thing. 😉

But truly, what is it about figs? Jesus was obviously fond of them, well…at least some of the time, unless he was emphasizing the ill-fated fig tree that refused to bear fruit…but that has no bearing here. (No pun intended). I’m talking about well-behaved fig trees. Fig trees that bear fruit. I’m talking about MY fig trees.

Ah yes, my fig trees. I have fig trees, and hence figs. To anyone in the deep south, this is not a great feat, but here in the mid-Atlantic region, it’s certainly not common to find fig trees, and even less common to find figs. Nevertheless, I have found myself utterly fascinated with the propagation, care, feeding and harvesting of figs. Perhaps the fascination comes from a distant memory of eating canned figs as a little girl. Perhaps it comes from an on-again, off-again relationship with Fig Newtons (come on, you know you’ve had a similar experience). Perhaps it’s the quiet non-conformist in me. I don’t want my fruit trees to be like everyone else’s fruit trees. Or, perhaps it’s that peculiar need to root for the underdog…I’m not really sure where the fascination came from, but I possess it all the same.  And it steered me to the nursery several years ago to begin my pilgrimage as a fig farmer. (I’m not sure I like the sound of the title, “Fig Farmer,” it sounds too close to, “Pig Farmer.” But, I digress, yet again.)

When I arrived on the farm with my fig trees, my husband looked dubious.  Okay…he looked at me like I had completely lost touch with reality, but I simply laughed at his incredulity and told him I would make figs happen. So, I carefully chose sheltered, sunny spots, with a western exposure (not ideal, but my husband wouldn’t let me plant them where everyone could see them on the south side of the farm), and I coddled them, and fed them. I researched fig tree care in the winter, and feeding schedules in the spring.  And, after much fretting, tending and yes, praying, I was rewarded a few weeks ago, with figs. Beautiful, sweet, purple figs. I was ridiculously elated, when I drove up to the fig, “Orchard,” and discovered ripened, purple fruit hanging from the branches. I plucked them from their resting place, and proudly showed them to my husband, who, (to his credit) patted me on the head, and said, “Okay, what do you do with figs?” Uhhhhh…  (*Insert snarky figgy pudding comments here.)

What DO you do with figs? I have a friend who suggested that I try to make homemade Fig Newtons, which I decided against, because I’m still in the off-again mode with Fig Newtons. I have another friend who suggested that I just eat them fresh, which I did do, and I highly recommend. Everyone should develop a taste for fresh figs.

But the truth is…I had plans all along for my beautiful figlets. (my word 😉  )I wanted to use them in my soaps. Figs were used by the ancients as a remedy for sun-damaged skin, inflammation, eczema and psoriasis.  They also possess phytochemicals which may reduce the risk of some cancers. Hence, I’ve already dried, freezed and pulverized some of my figs into fig powder, and I will be using that powder in a soap I plan to make for the fall…which I will famously name (rimshot…), “Cranberry Fig Soap.”

Of course, that’s not the only way I intend to use my figs…

…ever heard of fig wine…? 😉

 

Sarah


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Sugar and Swamp…

Much of the nuts and bolts of building a business will be behind me soon, and frankly, I can’t wait. I may have been born to be a chemist, a writer, a teacher…maybe even a medicine woman if I had been born in a different time and a different place…but I was not born to be a business woman. In fact, I salute all of the men and women out there, who have an affinity for business, and a mind for banking, accounting and marketing. God bless you. Long life to you. How much do you charge an hour? 😉

That being said, I am grateful for this experience. It makes me look forward all the more to getting back to making soap, and lotion and all manner of good, sweet-smelling, beneficial products. In fact, I missed it so much that I took a break from my work to make some sugar scrubs. My husband has become fond of the sugar scrubs I make, but he wanted something that looked and smelled masculine. So, after carefully listening to the list of characteristics he wanted in his sugar scrub, I dispatched myself to the kitchen, and made him a lovely scrub. It’s green and moisturizing without being too oily, and of course, it’s been scented with the natural scent of cedarwood and patchouli essential oils. He came downstairs this morning, and pronounced the scrub a success. So, I told him he could name it. And what do you suppose he named my beautiful creation?  “Swamp Scrub.” Anyone who knows him shouldn’t be surprised, but I may rename it when I put it up for sale.

Nevertheless, here it is. Swamp Scrub: It’s green; it’s outdoorsy; it’s nourishing for your skin, and it doesn’t embarrass my husband when he uses it. I should also mention, that aside from resembling the color of brackish water, it has nothing in common with the swamp!

The only thing swampy about it is the color!

Sarah


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Isn’t it nice, how things don’t always turn out as you planned…

     I began writing poems and stories at the age of seven. I remember that my mother was fairly impressed, so I told her that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. It made sense to me, because I seemed to have the proverbial knack for it, and not one to try something that I wasn’t good at, I proclaimed to myself and anyone else who was interested, that I was going to major in English, and be a writer one day.

  But…I didn’t. Well…I did major in English, but that lasted about two years, when I                 discovered that the only way I could make a living with an English degree was if I had the letters PhD after it. So, I settled down as an Elementary Language Arts Teacher. I loved it, I really did…but I always felt as if there was something else I needed to be doing.

I was still writing, of course…still believing that if I if I just worked hard enough putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard I would find my niche at last. And, while I admit that I have a sincere, almost devout view of the written word, I never found myself completely satisfied with the work of my hands…

…until now.

But…I do not refer to writing (although it will always be a dear friend). I refer, instead, to my discovery of the art and science, of making soap, and the quiet sensibility of herbal medicine. I was always fascinated by the idea that God thoughtfully provided healing remedies housed within His creation, to help us, and heal us.

I came across the science of soap-making quite by accident. My husband read an article about making soap, and tried it. I remember watching him from afar, hesitant to become involved, but a seed had been planted (if you will pardon the idiom), and I found myself writing herbal recipes to use in hand made soaps. One thing lead to another…and a devotion to the soap making was born.

Truth: I love the art and science of making soaps, and lotions, growing herbs, and creating beautiful and therapeutic formulas. I have found my place at last. I am a chemist. I am an herbalist. I am a soap crafter. I am home.

 

Sarah

 

 


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Soap Ruminations

Soap can be beautiful too.

I managed to finish my basic soap website last night. I was positively thrilled with myself, until I woke up this morning, and realized I wanted to change the entire front page format. I wonder if Steve Jobs ever had problems like that.

That being said, it’s still a relief to have the bulk of the grunt-work completed. I suppose I can come home now. Here in rural, tidal Virginia, it’s still difficult to tease a wireless signal out of the big city,  so I have to truck myself to the nearest WI-fi establishment, which is the community clubhouse, and park myself  in the big overstuffed chairs, and look out over the water while the bald eagles soar over the cliffs. It’s rough, I tell you. 😉  It’s still nice to be home, though.

…and of course, I can finally start paying attention to the reason I got into this in the first place: soap. I love making soap. In fact, I’m not sure what the actual draw is, but I plan my recipes for days, sometimes weeks, and then I spend all day in my soap kitchen, working, and swirling, and pouring. It’s such a real sense of accomplishment when I’m finished, and I love to have people tell me how much they love my soaps and lotions. (I make lotions too). It makes me feel as if I’ve actually been able to help them with various skin issues that arise from using commercial soaps and lotions (and those commercially-induced issues will be a topic for a future blog).

Ah well, enough prattling about soap for now. Heaven knows I will do a lot more prattling in the future…but the coffee’s on, and there’s raisin bread in the toaster. Time to go.

Sarah