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In blog/ thoughts

The Habits of Wise People

You know what sort of person is wise?  Typically it’s someone who’s been foolish before and doesn’t want to continue down that path (that would be me).  Someone who’s fallen on their face more than a few times (me 🙁 ) but had the resilience to not stay there (me 🙂 ).   Seriously.  At some point in our lives we know we can and should do better.

The wise inherit honor,
but fools are put to shame!

So, wisdom does not come naturally, it has to be desired first and then pursued.  At some point we all say, enough is enough.  For me, that happened around my 40th birthday.  Instead of celebrating being “40 and Fierce” , I decided to change the direction of my spiritual life.   40 is significant in the Bible when it comes to durations, it seems to be a time of testing, trial and development.  When it comes to wisdom, the Bible says:

Fear of the lord is the foundation of wisdom.
Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.
Wisdom will multiply your days
and add years to your life.
If you become wise, you will be the one to benefit.
If you scorn wisdom, you will be the one to suffer.

(Proverbs 9:10-12)

The use of the word “fear” here doesn’t mean being scared – it’s a reverent respect, awe and love of God.  So much so that you’re willing to live obediently and go about life His way.  Like I said, there’s sooo much thoughtful guidance in the Bible, here’s a link to a 31-Day Proverbs reading plan You can read it on your computer, your iPhone, your iPad so no excuses! 😉

God, through the Bible, has lots to say about wisdom.  Whenever people ask me how to get started with the Bible I tell them to turn to Psalms and Proverbs.  When it comes to wisdom specifically, Proverbs is your go to book, it’s ALL about wisdom.  A few verses to start your day is a good thing.  For me, the Bible isn’t just an old book, it’s nourishment for my spirit.

So here’s my practical take on how to become a wise person (based on my own missteps and God’s word):

Wise people are not rushed and are not rushed by others. Don’t be impulsive – you know the saying “fools rush in.”  God doesn’t put you in stressed-out situations where it’s now or never; don’t succumb to that sort of pressure.  You’ll know if it feels right or not.  That doesn’t mean things can’t happen fast or in an instant; the difference is you aren’t feeling pressured by ultimatums.   If something is meant to be, it will be; sooner or later.

Wise people consider potential consequences.  How will this decision, action, whatever it is you’re about to do play out in the future?  How’s it going to affect the people around you?  Are you moving in a good direction? You’re never going to know all of the answers or have all of the info you need; but, generally speaking you have an idea what the consequences will be.

Wise people realize that the impact of decisions accumulate over time.  Every decision you make sets your life in a direction.  Think about it.  Every decision counts, big and small.  It all adds up.  Three things you can truly control, your thoughts, your actions and your choices.  It’s not about being smart – it’s being wise.

Wise people reflect – often and with honesty.  This is just between you and you.  Take some time to think about your life, what you could’ve done better, where you went wrong, where you were fabulous, where do you want to go next? Either way, you have to own it.  Once that’s done – the key is to move on – please don’t wallow in regret.  It’s a waste of your precious energy.  Use your energy to make improvements and change the direction of your life.

Wise people have learned discernment and to listen to their gut.  This takes some practice as most of us are in the habit of rationalizing away what we know deep in our spirit.  Do you feel confused, unsure, unsettled?  That’s a HUGE cautionary sign (from yourself!) that things are not right.  Do you trust yourself yet?  Start now.  Don’t move forward, slow it down, or put a hold on things.  You don’t have to explain anything to anyone.  Do what you know in your heart honors your true self and honors God.  Good decisions will give you a sense of peace – that’s how you know.  Bad decisions, will stress you out and you may not even know why.  Quiet yourself, stop chatting up your situation with anyone who will listen and listen to your inner spirit.  That little voice is trying to whisper to you.  Pray on it.  Pray for discernment, clarity, pray for peace, pray for some guidance.  Look for the truth.  And then if you have to, just wait.  Here’s a video from InTouch on the Power of Discernment which is awesome; I strongly encourage you to watch/listen to it.

You also need to KNOW this:

God is not the author of confusion

Wise people are intentional.   You have to have some sort of vision for you life.  Just existing day to day and maintaining status quo is no different than going backwards.  Learn something new.  Do something challenging.  Develop a new skill.   Set a goal.  Don’t waste the time you’ve been given.  Time is your most precious resource, what are you doing with it.  The past is gone, the future is uncertain – so what are you doing NOW?

Wise people don’t hang around fools!  That may sound a little flippant but it’s so true.  Don’t waste your time hanging out or absorbing the energy of foolish people.  God has lots to say about that too.  So how do you define foolish people – that’s probably a personal choice but for me it’s toxic folks like whiners, complainers, critics, lazy people, shallow people, mean people, vindictive and bitter people, gossipers, impulsive people – you see where this is going.  With folks like this,  you can expect to go – no where!  In fact, folks like this may take you backwards.  If you see that in a friend or associate, my advice is to respectfully set some boundaries and limit your time with them.  Doesn’t mean you have to cut folks off; but you have to protect yourself.

Wise people understand and respect God’s law that you reap what you sow.   You must realize that any negativity you put out towards a person or the world, is coming back to you.  This is as real as the law of gravity.  I’ve seen it time and time again and it works both ways.  But we’re human so we’re not going to like everyone or what they do.  That’s our challenge, to bless them anyway and let them go on their way.

And when you get off course, and we ALL do…just change the direction.  It’s truly that simple and it’s only as hard or as complicated as you make it.  God loves us enough to give us a free will.  Sometimes we use that free will and make not so great choices.  As a result, we’re left with the consequences.  But, be assured that God is willing to help us pick up the pieces but only if we ask.  Since we can’t undo the past, the next best thing is to start making consistent choices (NOW) that put you where you want to be and put you in the middle of God’s will for your life.  It’s NEVER too late.  It’s only too late once your dead; so if you’re reading this you must still be living – so you still have a chance! 🙂

Hugs and Blessings!

Brenda Signature

In blog/ thoughts

Three Musts for 2015

hapy new year 2105Happy 2015 everyone!  Just a quick note to wish you a blessed 2015 and a few friendly reminders to add to your list of resolutions…

MY TOP THREE MUSTS FOR 2015

#1 Let go of any regrets.  What’s done is done.  It is what it is.  Live and learn.  Make better choices.  That’s all you can do.  More than anything else, forgive yourself.  I think I read this from Oprah “When you know better, you do better.”  We’ve ALL screw up; sometimes big, sometimes small.  Don’t fret yourself over something you can’t control or change.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. – Philippians 3:13

#2 Get a vision for your life.   Be intentional with what you do, who you do it with and why.  Stop meandering through life and taking it as it comes.  You influence your destiny so don’t be passive.  Otherwise, you’ll experience life at the mercy of everyone else’s intention for you (for them.)  Ask God to help you with discover your purpose, submit to His will for your life and start living (meaning, don’t just exist day to day – you are destined for so much greater.)  For some great tips, watch this video and read these sermon notes from Charles Stanley on “God Will Show You His Will”.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭2‬

#3 Look forward to the future.  Get your hopes up.   Self-fulfilling prophecies are real so what are you prophesying over your own future?  Is it good or are you worrying yourself with negative thoughts?  Dismiss fear, doubt and any negative emotion.   DWELL on those things that make you smile, give you peace and bring joy. DO those things that fit who you are and bring about a sense of fulfillment.  You attract what you are, so being positive attracts positivity – that’s the truth! (This one realization really made me take a critical look at my own thoughts.)

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. – Philippians 4:8

That’s my simple list, it’s for me as much as it is for you.  Oh yeah, I’m going to start up a new Bible reading plan using the YouVersion app.  I read scripture on my iPad before I go to bed; sets my mind right before I go off to sleep.  I highly recommend adding even just a little scripture to your daily routine, it’s nourishment for your spirit.  Also, I finally read Paulo Coelho’s books “The Alchmemist” which was also good for my spirit.  Really opened up my way of thinking so I suggest that too. Well enough of me being bossy… 😉

But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. – Isaiah‬ ‭43‬:‭18-19‬

What do you think…what are your must do’s or resolutions this year?

In blog/ humble beginnings

Oops, I Made a Mistake

When I hear the word “mistake” this song from childhood immediately comes to mind…do any of you remember this?

Now that I’m an adult and can reflect on my personality it’s no surprise that this song had been etched into my memory.  I really hate making mistakes and tend to beat myself up when I make them.  It’s not that I have a huge ego, I just feel good when I do a good job; and bad when I don’t.  As a former manager of mine used to say “Excellence is in the details.”  That stuck with me too and it’s how I like to go about doing things.

As many of you know I started making soap back in 2008 and officially launched Bubs and Scrubs as a business in 2010.  Throughout the years I’ve tried out lots of different products, fragrances, names, etc.  I’ve come to the realization that I just can’t do it all and that I made a mistake by doing too much so soon.   Well, at least I can’t do it all WELL (and without losing my joy), and that’s the key.  I really want to grow Bubs and Scrubs and it’s hard to do that as a (currently) one-woman show while maintaining 16+ different products – so I’m scaling back and going back to the basics.

The original concept behind Bubs and Scrubs was bubbly scrubby soaps that would help maintain healthy skin through regular exfoliation.  One of my first experimental batches, when I was still learning soapmaking, was a scrubby soap that made my skin feel soft, smooth and amazing – better than ever before.   Here it is below.  I made this one with crushed walnut shells and over-loaded it so it was kind of like washing with cement (not exactly what I was going for , but part of the learning process).

Smooth Bumpy Skin with Exfoiating Soap

Messy Side of My Almond and Coconut Oil Soap

I wanted to share the benefits of exfoliating soap with the world hence the catchy name – Bubs and Scrubs.  The name actually came to me in the shower one evening.  But… as I began to build my business I got distracted with all kinds of shiny objects like new fragrances, making shampoo, making liquid soap, making dog spray, you name it.  I really wanted to do it all (and one day I will) but not just yet.

So, with that in mind, I’m discontinuing most of my soaps and skin creams.

I’m going to offer four of my most popular varieties as skin care sets that include one smooth soap bar and one scrubby exfoliating bar.  That way, I can scale up much easier with fewer products to maintain.  I’m also going to offer these on a subscription basis so you can get these shipped to your door monthly, every other month or whatever frequency works best for you. Regarding the coconut oil skin creams, I’ve been reformulating them into all around beauty creams (with multiple uses for skin and hair) and will maintain Humility (coconut milk) and Let It Flow (lavender).

HOWEVER, I will offer limited editions scents (most likely monthly) which will keep things fresh, new and fun (for me and you 🙂 ).  So, you can still look forward to awesome seasonal scents throughout the year, I just won’t stock these year-round.  I’ll make these available as sets too with smooth and scrubby soap bars.  You know what’s really cool about the soap duo – after the first use – once they’re all wet – you can stick them together so they fuse as one bar.  So, one side is smooth and one side is scrubby – I use both sides each time I bathe.  Some body parts get the smooth, while others get the scrubby; nuff said.

I hope no one finds this overly disappointing but I had to do a reality check.  Maintaining too many items has become overwhelming and sometimes you have to go backwards before you can move forward again.

Quote About Making Mistakes

Honestly, I’m really excited about where I’m going with this and am not sure why I strayed from the original concept.  I really love what I do and I want it to be sustainable, good for the skin (not just froo froo fragrances) and a blessing to all of my customers.  I’ve learned much along the way and I’m looking forward to the next evolution of Bubs!

Hugs & Blessings!

Brenda Foster

In blog/ humble beginnings

New Kraft Paper Packaging

Does anything really say handmade or eco-friendly better than kraft paper packaging?  I think not.  I love, love, love kraft paper for pretty much anything.  There’s something about the neutral tones visible fibers and the earthiness of kraft.  I’ve been reworking my soap labels for actually months now.  I kid you not, it really has taken me months as I experimented with lots and lots of iterations.  I was getting really frustrated at times but kept at it and I think I’ve landed on something I can stick with (famous last words.)  Anyway – there were a number of elements I wanted to incorporate into my updated packaging:

  • kraft paper since I love it so
  • white ink – ’cause what’s even better than kraft paper?  white ink on kraft paper!!!
  • handstamp
  • scripture and inspiring words
  • a little watercolor
  • some nice typography
  • each piece should feel like a gift; not a grocery store item
  • the soap needed to peak through some how

I wasn’t able incorporate everything but feel like I hit most of my design requirements.  Here’s my most recent mock-up below.  ( BTW, for the time being my photos aren’t gonna be the best, I dropped my camera so have to use my iPhone.  When I get the money I’m gonna buy a really nice DSLR but this will have to do for now. )

kraft paper packaging

new kraft paper packaging for our soap bars

Now that the design is for the most part good to go – I can order the supplies I need and produce these in bulk.   I hope you like it and please use this as a little encouragement to keep going when you get stuck.  Getting stuck is normal, what will set you apart is not staying stuck.   Now, to move onto the next thing!

Hugs and Blessings!

Brenda Foster

 

In blog/ soap making

How Soap Cleans

how soap cleans

Here’s a not too scientific explanation of how soap cleans…

Soap is actually made from fat…could be animal based (like tallow or lard) or all vegetable based (like from coconut oil, olive oil, etc…) or could be a combination of both. Our soaps are 100% vegetable without any palm oil (in case you’re wondering why no palm – here’s why).  These fats are mixed with either sodium hydroxide (for solid soaps) or potassium hydroxide (for liquid soaps) which breaks apart the fatty acids and turns them into a salt (or alkali).  That chemical reaction is called “saponification.”  The original oils are no longer oils and the hydroxides are no longer hydroxides – they are indeed a new matter called soap.

We all know water and oil don’t mix. Oil and grease are “insoluble” in water.  So, try as you might to wash without soap…dirty oils aren’t going anywhere with water alone. Soap works to emulsify oils, allowing them to become “soluble” in water and thus to be washed and rinsed away.

So how does soap work it’s magic to emulsify? For this, we have to think about soap at the molecular level. You all remember molecules right…well, it’s a combination of atoms. Soap is a chain of atoms with very different ends. One end of the atom chain attracts water, the other end attracts oil. A soap molecule is kinda holding hands with water on one side and oil on the other. So now that they are joined and getting along happily, oils can be rinsed away with water. The key word here is “rinse”. Soap is a rinse-away item, its function is to emulsify oils with water so it can go down the drain. It’s not meant to stay on the skin like a lotion or perfume.

Natural soaps tend to be more mild since they usually don’t strip all the oils off your skin and include some percentage of unsaponified fats.  In the soaping world, it’s referred to as superfatting your soaps.  Soaps that are harsh tend to clean a little too well and leave you with that dry and tight feeling. For the most gentle bathing experience, use a mild soap with warm (not hot) water, make lots of lather, rinse way and keep it brief.  I of course do not take my own advice and will stand in a hot shower way longer than necessary since it just feels amazing. But, my skin never feels dried out since I only use handmade soaps (of course my own but I do enjoy soaps from other makers too) and I have a water softener.

So that’s it!  If you haven’t already – do yourself a huge favor and give natural soaps a try.  In fact, you can order a bag of samples right here.

Soap Sample

2 In blog/ skin care/ soap making

Natural Soap is Best: Part 1

natural bar soap doylestown, pa

Rebatched Honey Almond Soap

Instead of writing a thesis on all the reasons, I’m going to write this as a series.  The first installment has to do with glycerin.

The quick insight is….natural soap is best for your skin because it retains glycerine, naturally created during the soap making process (saponification.)  When making soap, you primarily use three ingredients:

1) Fats/Oils
2) A Hydroxide (could be sodium or potassium or a combo of both)
3) Water

Then of course you can (and should) get fancy and add in lots of fun stuff like essential oils, botanicals, exfoliants, etc.  But, the essential ingredients are just the oil, lye and water.  So, when these chemically come together you no longer have oil and lye.  Instead you have soap and glycerine, with some water and maybe some extra oil.   Soap made this way is very gentle on the skin, it doesn’t strip the skin of all its oils and leave you with a dry itchy feeling.  On the contrary, it leaves you feeling moisturized and, depending on your climate, you may not even need lotion or any other body moisturizer!

One of my friends that started using my soap experienced this “transitioning” and said she thought it was some sort of scum on her skin as she was used to that squeaky-clean-dry feeling.  But she realized after a few uses that the soap was actually leaving her skin moisturized, so much so she didn’t need to slather on a bunch of body oil.

So why do we care about glycerin?  It’s a humectant which means it draws moisture to the skin.  The extra oils and glycerin from a natural soap will keep your skin from that itchy dry feeling most people associate with soap.  The humectant retains moisture while any remaining oils in the soap trap it in.  You’ll feel the difference right away.  For my soap, I formulate it in such a way where there’s always some extra fatty acids floating around; that’s one reason it’s so gentle.

The typical commercial soap you see in grocery stores REMOVE glycerine as part of their soap making process to use for other products; or to sell off.  It’s kinda like how the tobacco companies remove the nicotine but then add it back in.  Some things are better left alone.  And I guess, some things you just need to leave alone – period.

Now, what about glycerin soap you ask? Well now dearest, that’s a WHOLE other discussion.  Let’s just say the use of the word “glycerine” is more than a bit misleading.  I’ll address that in another post.

In the meantime, get yourself some of our soap, your skin will be so happy! 🙂

In blog/ thoughts

Not a coincidence

No Such Thing as Coincidence

One definition of coincidence is:

a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.

From Merriam Webster it says:

the act or condition of coinciding (to happen at the same time as something else; to agree with something exactly : to be the same as something else)

or

 the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection; also :  any of these occurrences

When some things happen, I know in my gut, in my heart, in my soul – it’s God telling me something.  I may not understand it, but I’ve learned to pay full attention and look for more.  When I turned 40, I decided I was going to stop living my life without intention and outside of God’s will for my life.  I wanted to live my life more fully, with God’s blessing – so I decided to work on my relationship with Him.  (That’s a long story in and of itself, I’ve been meaning to post about for some time….but won’t do that just yet.)

A coincidence is POWERFUL; don’t let one go by without examining the implications.  Think of all the “random” moments, actions, events that had to occur to create your coincidence – do you really think it was random?  If you’ve accepted that it’s not random, then what does that mean for you?  What could God be trying to tell you or guide you toward (or away from)?

This acceptance of divine guidance via “happenstance” is something new for me.  The interesting thing of note for any coincidence is the element of surprise.  You kinda stop and think…really?  what?  huh – well what do you know?  It’s that kind of moment but you have to ponder it and not dismiss it as chance.  I wonder how many hundreds of moments I’ve quickly dismissed just because I couldn’t figure it out.  As it says in scripture in Isaiah 55:8:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”

The point is; don’t rack your brain too hard trying to figure out all the how’s and why’s.  Accept it for what it is; but consider it a nudge in a particular direction.

One strange coincidence (and they always seem strange right?) that happened to my daughter this week was during her PSSA test.  She came across a question that said something about Brenda selling soap samples.  Seriously!  How random is that?  Or maybe it’s not.  I discussed it with my daughters and we decided it was not a random coincidence.  Rather, it was God affirming my work with Bubs & Scrubs.   So, open your mind’s eye and take a now look at what my mom sometimes refers to as a “coinkydink”.

Hugs and Blessing!

Brenda

2 In blog/ soap making

The Truth About Soda Ash

Soap with Slight Soda Ash

As an honest merchant, soapmaker, person, etc….I’m constantly irked by the stupid marketing claims made by other makers of beauty products.  In particular, when it comes to anything handmade or natural.  So, I’m starting a series to educate folks here and there on some dubious marketing claims out there.

My intention is not to bash what other folks are doing, in fact – I’m inspired by many of their stories and am impressed with their products.  It’s just when marketing people (and BTW – my career is in marketing) add their little “twists” to the truth it just rubs me the wrong way.   Some twists are clearly lies, others are exaggerated.  So here’s one I came across whilst looking around the internet….

“All Beekman 1802 soap is handmade from the milk of the Beekman goats, who graze freely on the land and drink the waters that once made Sharon Springs one of the most famous spa destinations in the world. Beekman 1802 soap uses the highest percentage of pure goat milk possible in each soap bar which will leave your skin clean and well-moisturized without the use of any synthetic chemicals and can be used for face, body and even hair. You may notice a faint layer of ash on the bottom of the soap, which washes away with first use.  This ash affirms the bar is made from pure goat milk using non-chemical methods.

It all sounds so bucolic and lovely; very charming.   My issues is with the underlined sentence on how the ash “affirms” the natural, non-chemical, etc…. This is total goatsh*t.  (Excuse my French…)

Let’s talk about soda ash on soap for a bit….first – it’s a bit of a mystery to all soapmakers.  I used to get it on my soaps when I let them sit out and go through the full heating and cooling process.  I’ve since changed my formulation and processing and I don’t get any ash.  Personally, I don’t like it although many soapmakers believe it adds a rustic touch.  It does actually, but for my bars – I like them without the ash.  In fact, most soapmakers seem to not like it either and consider it a problem.  Here’s a video which talks about how to remove soda ash:

 

 

Here’s how soda ash is explained by the Soap Queen:

“Soda ash forms when unsaponified lye reacts with naturally occurring carbon dioxide in the air.  Soda ash is  harmless, and it’s most common on the surface of your cold process soaps, but sometimes soda ash can form throughout the middle of the bars.”

I point you to the Soap Queen who to me is one of the authorities on all things soapmaking. Here’s an article on soda ash on soap: The Soap Queen: Explaining and Preventing Soda Ash.

From David Fisher – the About.com writer on Soap and Candle Making:

Ash is a white, powdery substance that mysteriously appears on soap as it is curing – usually on the surface of the soap as it is sitting in the mold hardening overnight after it is first poured. It will usually only form on the sides of the soap that are exposed to the air while hardening.

What is it? Soap makers have traditionally believed that it is sodium carbonate formed by the free sodium from the sodium hydroxide (lye) and carbon dioxide in the air. Other soap makers have theorized that it’s actually microcrystalline powdered soap residue.

Soap making guru Kevin Dunn, author of Scientific Soapmaking recently did some extensive tests on ash and has confirmed that it is indeed sodium carbonate. Among the clues he used to test his hypothesis were that it was soluble in water and that it only occurred where the soap came in contact with air.  (Read full article here.)

By Beekman’s explanation and the look of their soaps, it looks like they pour the soap mixture into custom molds, the top is exposed to air which is where the ash forms.  When unmolded of course the top becomes the bottom.  Now, ash is not a bad thing – however it does NOT “affirm the bar is made from pure goat milk” and does NOT “affirm using non-chemical methods.”  You can make a cold-process bar of soap with “unpure” goat milk, no goat milk and/or some synthetic ingredients (like synthetic fragrance oils) and still get lots of good old fashioned soda ash.  It does not prove or affirm anything about their ingredients or process.

This is where the marketing folks spun the truth into a misleading lie.  Yeah, it’s a lie (I don’t believe in gray areas.) I suppose they don’t really like the ash and were looking for a positive spin to explain it.  Or customers expressed concerns or had questions…who knows.  So what does ash on soap truly affirm?   It “affirms” that the cold-process method was used to make the soap and that during the process it was mostly likely exposed to air.  That’s about it.  Beekman soaps are lovely enough and I don’t doubt their ingredients or process.  I’m sure their using goat milk from their farm and using the old-fashioned method of soapmaking (cold-process.)  Ash is just a natural part of the process but does not at all validate ingredients.  So, shame on you marketing folks – you should know better.  And if you know better – you should do better.  And if you don’t know better, than the company should get some new marketing folks who at least know how to do a Google search.

In blog/ humble beginnings/ soap making

Why did you start making soap?

Here’s my thinking on the matter and I still haven’t found a succinct way to explain.  (Gotta work on that.)  I really believe it was divine inspiration but that doesn’t make much sense to folks who don’t really hold the same belief system.  In God’s word it says:

Romans 8 28

Typically folks lean on this verse during hard times that don’t make sense.  Maintaining faith includes knowing and expecting that God will use every circumstance, decision, event – good, bad or otherwise – for our good.  Our lives are like intricately woven tapestries that may appear like a jumbled mess when viewing just one section up-close but…when we step back we see what looks like randomness is actually a beautiful piece of art.

So all of that being said, I believe God gave me some talents, experiences and interests that led me to the idea of making soap.  These include:

– I’ve always been creative but in a practical sort of way; not art for art’s sake.  (For example, when I was at Princeton I majored in Civil Engineering but took some art classes like oil painting and ceramics.   In ceramics I got yelled at by the instructor for creating a box – she chided me saying this was not an arts and crafts class.  Whoops – my bad! Decades later I learned she yelled at everyone and told them how their work sucked too. )

– I like making things by hand (e.g., for a season knitting became my “passion” as I spent many hours attending my daughters’ various activities: piano lessons, tennis lessons, soccer practice, drawing class, volleyball, etc.)

– A trip to Vermont introduced me to the notion of being a soapmaker and having my own shop. I stopped in a store named “Thistle” in Woodstock, VT which became a huge inspiration to me but it sat dormant in my subconscious.  I remember thinking, “Now THIS is the good life!” and then quickly dismissed it as not being in the cards for me and moved on.

– I wanted to be a pastry chef and own a special occasion bakery called Baby Cakes.  Before going to business school I considered going to culinary school.  I chose b-school.  For my dream bakery,  I was going to specialize in mini-cakes.  When I was living in the NY area after b-school I took classes and almost enrolled in one of the top pasty chef programs.  Life took over and I ended up moving out of the area.

– I always wanted to have my own business.  I just never really knew what to do.

– Somehow or another I believe I stumbled on the Soap Queen’s blog.  That was the clincher.  I watched this video below with much interest.

After making my first batch that pretty much sealed the deal – I found something I’m passionate about, I’m good at and can ultimately provide the lifestyle I dream of.

So, in the end – I believe God has been putting it all together for some time now. It’s so amazing and humbling to look back and see how He’s been fitting the pieces together on my behalf; of course unbeknownst to me.  Can’t wait to see what else He’s working up! 🙂

In blog/ humble beginnings

Introducing a New Look for our Items

I’m not one to keep things the same for too long.  I don’t know what it is, I get bored too easily, I like change, I like to make things better….who knows.  So I’ve changes things and have a new look for our items.  I just know it’s one of my idiosyncrasies.

Humility Coconut Milk Skin Cream

So with that in mind I’ve renamed all of our products and am in the process of updating all of the packaging and labels too; not a small undertaking for a one woman operation.  I decided to move away from ingredient-centric product descriptions and instead come up with names that reflect my personal values and thus the values of Bubs and Scrubs. Names that reflect Godly character, provide some inspiration and better connect with folks on a more emotional level.  No raunchiness.  No gimmicks.  Rather, building a brand that I hope will have staying power and ultimately promotes what I’d like to accomplish in this life.

So for example, our former Virgin Coconut soap and skin cream has been renamed Humility.  Here’s an image of the updated soap label.

I personally love the direction I’m heading and give credit to God for the creative inspiration (and so much more.)  Ever evolving, I’ll most likely tweak the products a bit to up the creative/handmadeness elements while keep it somewhat efficient to produce in large quantities.

Eventually when I open my soap factory, I’ll have posters of quotes like you see below. Gotta have a vision!

Humility Scripture

 

With kindest regards  – Brenda

In blog/ thoughts

Merry Christmas to Me – a Rogue Squat Stand!

I’ve been going to the gym for the last 2-3 months or so which is great but I really don’t like the routine.  It’s a bit cumbersome.   I go in the morning so I have to pack all my clothes, toiletries, etc.  On more than one occasion I’ve forgotten one item I needed or another…shoes, coat, sweater, and worse.   This works well since it’s on my way into work.  But if I don’t go in the morning and instead go in the evening and on weekends,  it probably wastes a good 20 minutes just coming and going.   Three things I HATE wasting: my time, my money and my calories.

So I’ve been rethinking this routine and am finally building out my home gym.  I had a little universal for a while but I really didn’t like it.  I bought it from a neighbor and with the help of a friend resold it (for a profit) to someone else after only a couple months.  My basement is finished and 1/2 of it’s empty.  Here it is now:

Basement Gym Beginnings

I still have to clear out some items from the area but it’s basically ready.

Since I came across some extra funds I decided to treat myself to some real strength training equipment (BTW, I did tithe the first 10% before indulging myself.) – starting with a Rogue Squat Stand – yeah baby!!!  It’s apparently already been shipped so the following should arrive shortly:

Rogue Monster Lite Squat Stand

Additional items I ordered from Rogue are: the Monster Lite spotter arms, some plates to get me started, extra j-cups, pull-up bar cross-member, etc.

I really wanted a Monster Lite Rack but I didn’t want to have to bother bolting it to the floor and my ceiling height is only 92 inches.  This will do just fine for me.  Maybe later down the road if I really do go beast-mode I’ll strip out the carpet and add some additional pieces.  I do think I’m going to get this GHD machine sooner rather than later.

Rogue GHD

(Oh yeah, I got a straight curl bar too for hip thrusts so I don’t have to manuever around a long bar bell.)

So what in the world am I trying to accomplish?  Getting lean and strong basically with a focus on squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts and general lower body development.  I find body weight exercises really boring after a while so I like these.  Plus, what’s more convenient than going to your own basement and showering in your own bathroom.  So here’s the preview, will post more once the boxes arrive.

UPDATE Jan 24, 2014:

Here are the two units in my basement.  So far so good!  I really like using these in the privacy of my home.  I also prefer workign out in the evening now as I can take my time and not have to rush off for work.  I ordered an elliptical too that should be able to fit into the corner.  That should be here in a few weeks.  Gotta add mirrors, put my plates on the squat rack, add my pull-up/gymnist rings, add some motivational photos and generally do some more organizing.  I suppose I should move that yarn swift in the background.  I’m a woman of many interests….

Rogue Squat Rack and GHD

Rogue Squat Stand

Rogue Abram GHD

 

Strength Training Posters