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By the Sea Soap

Hello friends,Summer vacation at the shore is always a delightful time with family and friends. Our trips to the Eastern Shore favorites of Stone Harbor, Cape May, Wildwood, Virginia Beach, Rehoboth, Ocean City and Assateague Island are the highlights of summer leisure.To recall the carefree days at the beach, I offer my By the Sea line of glycerin soaps.Beautifully detailed starfish clinging to a pearlized sea shell makes a dramatic addition to your bath decor.All of these glycerin soaps are cast in molds with my own blended transparent glycerin soap.  The vegan friendly soap features a full fluffy lather that bubbles up to fill your tub or sh... » Read More

Great Gift Ideas for Father's Day

Hello friends,Father's Day is just around the corner.  I have some wonderful unique gifts to pamper your Papa.My Microwaveable Cherry Pit Heat Wraps are always appreciated.  I offer them in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, fabrics and all natural or fragranced with aromatherapy herbs.Here are a few masculine fabric choices:Classic fishing lures, perfect after a day on the river.Lots  of warm cozy plaids, always in fashion for Grandpa.  For fun, how about some sock monkeys!Gearhead Dads would get a kick out of my custom made gear soap created in my soap studio with molds that I cast from automotive gears - Chevy small ... » Read More

Spring Garden Lilacs in Bloom

Hello friends,     Primavera, the promise of May flowers after a dry month of April have resulted in blooms that are not as spectacular as usual but still a welcome sight.   I want to share my garden with you! Traditional Pennsylvania heirloom lilacs permeate the air with their enticing bouquet.  When I open the bay windows to the great room, their fragrance fills the house with spring. The spring flowering bulbs and perennials are always a welcome harbinger of the coming season.  Daffodils, my grandmother's favorite pansies, bleeding heart and naturalized violets take turns to delight the... » Read More

Fresh Fruity Summer Soap

Hello friends,Summer is almost here.  The mountains surrounding my home are slowly coming to life with fresh spring growth and the warm sun is most welcome.  I have been spending time tending the gardens in anticipation of planting time.Summer fruits are the highlight of the season, fresh, sweet, tangy and juicy. My line of glycerin soap calls to mind these seasonal delights.Mango madness soap will transport you to a tropical island.  Imagine relaxing in a comfortable hammock while the breezes filled with the scents of the tropical rain forest fruits of mangoes, papayas, bananas abound.  My  mango soap is so pretty in bright hues of... » Read More

White Bridge Farm & Barn

Hello friends,The old barns and out buildings at my son's farm abound in rustic charm.  Their years of service are reflected in the weathered condition.  These large hooks along the roofline have a beautiful oxidization.The spring light creates an interesting pattern of light and shadow, my herb garden harvest drying on the rafters.Bleached by the sun, the siding sets the backdrop for the remnants of last years vines.  Soon they will green up with fresh spring growth.Vintage chicken coops, close up and full shot, raised to avoid any rising of the Juniata River which borders this section of the farm.The white washed fencing encircles th... » Read More

September Garden Surpises

Hello Friends, I love garden surprises.  Look at the beauties I discovered this week.    When I left for the office in the morning I was greeted with the bright lemon yellow blooms on one of my cactus.  What a lovely, sunny treat. Earlier this month I noticed tomato leaves peeking around the back deck behind the grill.  When I looked over the banister, lo and behold there is a huge Roma Tomato volunteer loaded with 67 tomatoes. It managed to thrive in the 6 inch gap between the deck railing and the garden fencing spilling out between the links. It is one healthy, vigorous plant. Here is th... » Read More

Silver Platter Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Hello friends,Oh my, warm, spicy, gooey fresh homemade caramel pecan cinnamon rolls so perfect they deserve your best silver platter! I have been making these for my family since the 1970's, we love them.  It takes a little effort but it is so worth it.Here's how:Ingredients:1 package of dry yeast dissolvedin 1 cup warm water (Be sure the temp is between 120 and 135 degrees,the yeast will be inactive at 140 and if it is too cool the yeast will not dissolve and rise)3  1/4 cups of flour (I use Robin Hood brand or best for bread)1/4 cup sugar1 teaspoon salt2 tablespoons of melted butter 1 eggCombine all the ingredients and mix, turn o... » Read More

Poor Cammie

Hello friends,Cammie, short for Camaro, is my son's beautiful yellow lab.  He also has Dale, a black lab.  Here they are in a photo with my beloved Cocoa, we lost Cocoa last month.Our dogs are so loved and spoiled.  Cammie, the only female, tends to carry a soft plush toy in her mouth as much as possible.  She sleeps with her head resting on her stuffed companions.  Every time they visit, Cammie manages to take one of Cocoa's stuffed toys home with her.  If we are missing a soft toy, we know the next time Tom send photos, that toy will be right along side Cammie as she lugged it home from Pennsylvania to Alabama.Tom treats his dogs like roya... » Read More

Advent Watch and Wait

Hello friends,In this hectic time of holiday preparation, we are called to pause, take in the purple of the Advent season and savor the quiet serenity of this sacred time. We wait, we watch, we are still in this holy season of prayer. A quote from Edward Hays:"Advent, like its cousin Lent, is a season for prayer and reformation of our hearts. Since it comes at winter time, fire is a fitting sign to help us celebrate Advent.If Christ is to come more fully into our lives this Christmas, if God is to become really incarnate for us, then fire will have to be present in our prayer.Our worship and devotion will have to stoke the kind of fire in ou... » Read More

Sunrise at the Lake, Spectacular

Hello friends,I want to share this morning's sunrise on the lake at Prince Gallitzin State Park, Glendale, Pennsylvania.  Another beautiful day in the Allegheny Mountains, no wonder I love it here!This is the actual photo taken with a cell phone so the quality of pic is not great but there is no color enhancement.  Mother Nature's color palette is magnificent. Enjoy!Bonnie... » Read More

Handmade soap, the basics, part 1

First in a series of educational and informational blog posts about handmade soap by Bonnie Bartley, soapsmith.            Handmade soap is true soap in its purest form.  True soap is the result of a chemical reaction, called saponification, between fatty acids and an alkali.  Each oil, butter and fat has its own fatty acid profile that lends unique properties to the soap.  For example, olive oil is high in oleic acid that is gentle to the skin, the lauric acid in coconut oil provides for a fluffy lather but can be stripping to dry skin conditions, palm oil offers palmitic acid that contributes... » Read More

Handmade soap, the basics, part 2

Handmade soap vs soap from pre-made bases     You will find two basic types of handmade soap.  The handmade soap that I discussed in part 1 of my blog is soap formulated and "made from scratch" by the soapmaker.  The other genre of soap is pre-made bases. What is the difference?     True soap created by the soap maker by formulating the recipe based on the attributes of the different oils, fats and butters can be made using many different processes.  Cold process and hot process are the two main procedures for handmade true soap.         In cold process, we combine our meticulou... » Read More

Soapsmith's Studio Part 1

Hello friends,  I get a lot of inquires about my soap making equipment.  Today, I will share a few photos of my studio work space.    This is part of my collection of soap making essential and fragrance oils in the first shelving unit and my colorants, micas, oxides, fdc lakes and dyes, and some natural herbs in the second unit:     Another cupboard with more essential and fragrance oils.  I try to keep them separated by natural essential oils and fragrance oils, then either alphabetized or organized in groupings such as florals, spices, herbal, fruity etc. The colorants are separated in order of th... » Read More

Soapsmith's studio Part 2

Hello Friends, In response to requests about my soap making studio, equipment and supplies, here is part 2 of some photos of my workspace:  These are some of my six storage closets with some base oils and butters used in my cold process soapmaking    This closet houses my labeling supplies, recipe library, file notes etc.       This is my sewing area with dried herbs, some from my garden & cherry pit warmer supplies:       Packaging supplies, bottles, jars etc.     I hope you enjoyed this little... » Read More

Lavender Dream Pillow

Hello friends,This charming little poem was found in an ancient Scottish Traveler's Inn. I like to place a beautifully printed copy on the pillow when guests come to visit my home:Oiche Mhaith(Good Night)Sleep sweet within this roomwho ere thou artand let not dreams of yesterdaydisturb thy heart,Nor let tomorrow, with its fear of coming ill.Thy maker is thy changeless friend,His love surrounds thee still.The stars are watching overheadPut out each earthborne light. Sleep sweet,my friend, good night.Good night. The herbal aroma therapy fragrance of lavender is renowned for its relaxing properties.  Allow this delightful scent to lull yo... » Read More

Soapsmith's Homemade Fudge

Hello friends, To continue with my homemade Christmas cookies posts, today -  instructions and recipes for homemade fudge.  I always include homemade fudge with my cookie deliveries.  I make the classic Chocolate Walnut Fudge,  my own formulated Peanut Butter Fudge and Peanutbutter Meltaway Fudge. To make fudge from scratch, there are techniques that I use for that perfect creamy delicious fudge.  These procedures can be used with any fudge recipe you want to use.  The results will always yield success. Tips for perfect fudge: -Always use a candy thermometer.  You cook the fudge to soft ball stage, which i... » Read More
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