Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Haul - Larson Farm Naturals

I recently placed my first order with Larson Farm Naturals, a company I found while browsing Etsy a while ago.  There was a 20% off special on their blog and I figured that was a good enough reason to finally try them.  This Iowa company has cold process soaps as well as lip balms, body balms, bath salts, laundry soap, and even natural deodorants. 

Of course you knew I had to pick the Oatmeal & Honey goat milk soap to begin my first experience with Larson Farm Naturals.  This one is unscented, but does still contain real honey and finely ground oatmeal.  I'm looking forward to trying this one!

I've been trying to stick to my new 'One Bar Only!' rule when I'm soap shopping these days but when I saw this Sweet Honey Carrot bar I knew I'd have to get this one too.  Honey-carrot soaps are supposed to be fabulous for your skin and are often suggested as face soaps.  I had made a gorgeous batch of it back when I was making soap but never even got to use any because it sold out so fast!  Anyway, this is another unscented bar, and contains real honey and carrots.  Very excited to try this one!

And like I really need another one, I also ordered a lip balm.  I chose the Caramel scent because I seem to be on a caramel kick lately.  Yay!

The bars of soap each came in cello wrap and with a nice cigar band style label.  The soaps have a true handmade, rustic look from their natural colors and the slightly uneven edges from being hand cut.  Shipping was fast . . . ordered on a Thursday afternoon and had my package in Monday's mail.  I also received a thank you message on Etsy from the seller.  There were no samples with my order but hey, I'd gotten 20% off from the blog code!  And the soap maker's name is Debbie.  We all know that Debs are the coolest people on earth!

I will do proper reviews of these items after I've had a chance to use them.

So tell me, have you ever tried Larson Farm Naturals?  What did you think of them?  I'd love to hear!

Posted by,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review - Organix Shampoo & Conditioner

Organix is a brand I'd noticed in stores quite some time ago and was instantly drawn to the cute packaging and the yummy varieties like Mocha Espresso, Coconut Milk, and Vanilla Silk, just to name a few.  This is also a brand that is very popular in YouTube and blog reviews.  ( The Brazilian Keratin Therapy line is all the rage right now.)  But the price has always turned me away.  More recently, 'HeathersStitches' has been talking about this brand on her YouTube channel and once again my interest was sparked.  This time I contacted Organix through their website, and they said they'd send me "some products."  I knew from their website that they have many more products than just shampoos and conditioners.  I figured I'd be getting samples of a few things and hoped some would be of those other products.  I couldn't believe it when the package arrived and I pulled out FOUR full size bottles of shampoos and conditioners!  I was giggling like a kid at Christmas!

As happy as I was to finally have a chance to try Organix, I was also leery and somewhat worried because many people have complained that these products are high priced crap that turned their hair to dried out, tangled, damaged "straw."  Well, um, yikes.

The first one I tried was the Cocoa Butter.  It says 'instant repair' on the bottle and the description is 'An irresistible indulgence of nutrient rich cocoa butter to instantly repair hair follicles and impart sheen, while babassu oil helps restore your tresses natural elasticity, along with regenerating sesame seed oil to add conditioning and luminescent shine.'  I'd noticed on the back of the bottle it says to apply 'generously' and the first time I used this I don't think I used enough.  As I was working it into my hair I was feeling something like stickiness or a wanting to clump and tangle, and my first panicked thought was "Oh nooooo!  STRAW HAIR!"  But then I realized I probably just didn't use enough, because the areas where I was sure I had plenty of product felt fine.

The conditioner is very thick.  I wasn't sure if I'd need to use extra of this too so I went ahead and used a generous amount.  The bottle says to leave it in 3-5 minutes.  This was a problem for me because I am very much a wash-n-go girl.  I usually use a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner and prefer to hop in the shower, get things done and get out.  I also wash my hair last in the shower process.  So this first time using Organix, I washed my hair first and let the conditioner sit while I finished the rest of my shower.  I probably made that 3-5 minute window that time but I was so impatient in doing it that way.  I'm such a creature of habit.  LOL!

My hair was fabulous that day!  I noticed a difference almost immediately, and was so relieved my hair hadn't turned to the dreaded straw.  It was definitely softer, and there was less static-y fly away.  I was greatly impressed . . . until the second day.  I usually wash my hair every other day instead of daily.  On the second day after first using this product, my hair seemed flatter and more blah than on the day after using my usual cheap products.  It didn't really feel oilier or anything but just seemed to be weighed down and tired.  When I used the products again the day after that I did it quickly as I normally do, and did not meet that recommended 3-5 minute leave-in time.  My hair was noticeably different.  It was still soft but seemed less shiny and much more dried out.  It wasn't horrible, like to the point of needing to wear a hat or stay hidden indoors but it was a difference that even hubby noticed. 

There is a very light, sweet scent if you put the bottle right to your nose but while using it in the shower I did not notice any distinct scent.

Next I tried the Cherry Blossom Ginseng formula.  The bottle says 'rejuvenating' for this one and the description is 'This sensual and alluring blend of cherry blossom extracts and Asian ginseng root helps rejuvenate the scalp and hair follicle to add volume at the root while nourishing your hair with replenishing rice milk and bamboo extract for hydration and shine.'  This one also has a very nice scent if you smell it right from the bottle but again I didn't notice anything while actually using the product in the shower.  It was funny though, while in the car later I could smell something nice and wondered what it was . . . and I think it is this Organix!

Anyway, today was the first time I tried this one.  I did my usual shower routine, which means the conditioner does not sit in my hair the recommended 3-5 minutes, but I did try to dillydally a bit to give it a smidge more time.  I made sure I used a generous amount too.  My hair is absolutely softer after using these products.  This one has also left my hair sort of dry, but I'm convinced if I did start leaving these conditioners in longer that problem would go away, because that first day my hair WAS fabulous.

So what do I think overall?  Would I buy these products again?  Well first I'd like to point out a few things.  I have slightly longer than shoulder length hair that has never been colored or treated.  My hair is sort of combination, being oily at the roots but dry on the ends.  I don't blow dry, curl, flatten, or anything . . . just wash and go.  Also, my water is very hard, country well water.  Keeping those things in mind, how these products work for you could be very different, and I think that's where the love/hate relationship comes in.  Someone described it on the Organix Facebook page as "hit or miss in a bottle."  And yes, I think leaving the conditioner in long enough is probably a huge factor in results.

The bottles are 13oz. and the information paper they sent me says they retail for $6.99, but I noticed at my Walmart different varieties are priced from $5.94-$6.72.  From what I've seen and heard online, Organix does not offer coupons so if you like these products and see them on sale, I would suggest stocking up.

Because I'm cheap, I've found two problems related to the high price of Organix.  They do work, and I love that, but the fact that you have to use a generous amount means this bottle is not going to last as long as a product you could use less of.  AND if the flat, blah results on the second day mean I have to wash my hair daily, well that bottle is being used up even faster yet.  I haven't played around yet to see if I could use my regular shampoo/conditioner most of the time and maybe just a special treatment with Organix once a week or something.

I like that I can find Organix in almost any store I go to.  I've even seen it at my local grocery store.  I love the packaging (don't know why) and I like that there are so many intriguing and yummy varieties to choose from.  I absolutely did see a difference in my hair.  It is super soft, with less fly-aways.  I've even noticed less breakage . . . less hair in my hands after washing, and less hair in the comb after combing. 

And I thank Organix for providing me the opportunity to try their products!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review - A Wild Soap Bar

A Wild Soap Bar is another company I'd never heard of, another suggestion from blog reader 'chickadee.'  I'm all over the place about this one.  When I first went to their website I was all 'Ooooooh, I love this place!'  Their soaps look awesome, the type I love, and I easily found several I wanted to try.  I noticed they had 'body balms' and was interested in those but feared they would be the harder type . . . you know, *balm.*  So I used the contact form on the website to ask if they had samples available.  Days went by and I did not receive any reply.  You know by now what a huge pet peeve that is for me.  Then I noticed they had been active on their Facebook page during those days I waited, which told me they were not too busy, which then made me cranky.  I asked my same question on their Facebook page and received a quick answer, but an answer that seemed cold, like I was inconveniencing them.  This plain ol' pissed me off and I stewed about it for a while, then decided I wanted to try the soap anyway.

As mentioned, there were several soaps that I wanted to try.  However, since I'm trying to be more careful about my crazy shopping I've been trying to order only one bar of soap from new shops I find, instead of just grabbing all the ones I see that I like.  I looked at the body balms again and decided not to risk it because they are quite pricey for a tiny 1oz jar.  With one lonely bar of soap in my shopping cart, I began the checkout process and discovered an outrageously high shipping cost of over $13.  What?!  For ONE small bar of soap?!  I went back over all the information, checked my numbers and everything, looked for different shipping options, and that was the lowest.  Ha, no freakin' way . . . and I emptied my cart in a huff.  I was so mad I even went back to Facebook, deleted my question/reply, and unliked them.

Some time went by, probably a week or more, and I kept thinking about this company.  I don't remember exactly what made me decide to do it but I eventually went back to the site and looked around again.  I get stubborn and obsessive about things sometimes, hehe.  I decided to try again, and added one bar of soap to my cart and started the checkout process once again.  I was so surprised to see a more reasonable shipping price of something like $5.95 pop up this time.  Why wasn't it there the first time??  I don't know.  And although that's still a high shipping price for one bar of soap, I decided it was within reason and I placed my order.

The day after I placed my order, I received a shipping notice.  Well alright!  At least they're prompt.  Things were looking up.  Maybe I'd been too harsh on this place afterall.

The day after that I received an email stating that my order had been cancelled, and that if it had already been packed I would receive 15% less of my refund.  No reason was given for the cancellation.  Um, WHAT?!  I promptly emailed them, simply (with raging anger and impatience) asking why it had been cancelled.  The next day I received a reply saying it wasn't cancelled, that it had been a software error, and everything was fine.

Two days later I received my order.

Of course I had picked a goat milk soap, and of course it was Honey Oat.  You probably know that's what I will usually buy from a shop I'm trying if I see they have it. 
It was when I saw the packaging that I realized this is a much bigger company than the usual handcrafted shops I order from.  They have a bar code.  They are available in stores all over the United States.  I felt a little bad about my earlier angry thoughts . . . but then got over it, and focused on the soap.

As always, I used this soap in the shower with a mesh shower pouf, and I again point out that I have very hard water (country well water) so results in your situation might be different.  Even though this soap has no added fragrance I thought it would still have the usual subtle 'soap' scent and possibly even some light scent from the honey.  But no, this bar has almost no scent at all.  When I was using it and had it right under my nose I could pick up a slight sweet floral scent but overall, nothing.  That was fine with me.  It lathered nicely, a creamy type lather that lasted all through my shower and rinsed away easily.  Although there is oatmeal in this bar it is finely ground (says 'oat flour' on the label) and I didn't feel it at all.  No fear of scratchiness in this soap.  My skin did not feel dry or tight or itchy after my shower, not even my face, which is my real test when I try new soaps.

I liked this soap.  I would say it is about average among the many soaps I've tried.  This 3.5oz bar of soap, on the smallish side among soaps, sells for $6.00.  It is made with local and organic ingredients though, and a portion of the profits is donated to two charities.  I like that the ingredients are simple, not overloaded with 'high end' ingredients meant to impress.  I really did like this soap.  But . . . all of my frustrations that came before have tainted the experience and I don't know if I would order from A Wild Soap Bar again.  

Do you have experience with this company?  I'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

February Giveaway Winner

The winner of the February giveaway is . . . 

Congratulations, 'pants'!

'Pants' will be able to choose two bars of handcrafted soap from any of my current stash.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  It was fun to see who everyone is hot for in the celebrity world.  And don't be sad that you didn't win, because there will be a brand new giveaway posted or (or shortly after) March 1, with an all new prize!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Movie Review - Paranormal Activity 3

Paranormal Activity 3
R, 81 minutes

A malign and murderous spirit continues to dwell within a San Diego home in this second creepy sequel to 2007's chilling Paranormal Activity. Hoping to catch photo evidence of Bloody Mary, the residents soon become victims in their own horror film.

Just watched this, and was very disappointed.  The description above isn't anywhere near accurate. The timeline of these movies is confusing because they kinda overlap each other, but this one starts at a time before the second movie takes place, and then jumps back farther in time to when the sisters are still little girls.  I knew going into this that it wouldn't be anywhere near as freaky as the original.  Nothing could be!  I still think that is the scariest movie ever . . . at least for me.  (My review of it is HERE.)  I was, however, hoping it would be better than the second one, which I thought totally sucked.  (Review HERE.)  So what did I think?  Well, I didn't hate it, but I also think I just didn't have high expectations for this one.  At no time did I have that super tense, knotted stomach feeling that I'd had all through the first and at least sometimes in the second.  Like the second, there was too much time spent showing nothing out of the norm in the nighttime clips.  You keep staring and checking out every inch of the screen but there is just nothing to be seen.

The acting in this one was again, too much like acting.  Apparently it's harder to act like you're not acting than it is to just act.  It seems like people over-compensate on the attempt to be casual when they're trying 'not' to act.  The two little girls did ok, but I think kids don't realize the difference as much as adults.

This one was more of Poltergeist type story, where the littlest girl could see and talk to the 'entity' but to everyone else it was just a child's imaginary friend and a bit of weirdness in the house.  The events seemed to be a lot more like a monster defending his territory than random spooky mischief.  Hubby and I both thought it was unlikely the older girl would be sleeping or playing in that room after even the first bits of weirdness she encountered, much less the bigger events.

The end was rather cheesy.  Supposedly it explains ALL of the activity but I can't remember the details of the stories in the first two movies that relate to this explanation.  I remember in the first one the girl had said it seemed like spookiness followed her.  And I remember them saying something in the second one about a curse and the one sister passing it to the other or something, and needing the firstborn son . . . ???  But I can't remember it all well enough to put it all together with the bits we learned in this third one.  And I read something just before starting this post about there possibly being a fourth one?!  Hubby and I agreed at the end of this one tonight that we won't bother with any future ones they might make.  I have a feeling that if there ever is a fourth one, we'll still watch it just to see what it's like.

Again, I doubt I'll buy this one. And again, I *REALLY* want to go back and watch the first one.  I'm starting to fear though, that once I finally do watch it again it will be dorky and lame to me. 

Have you seen Paranormal Activity 3?  What did you think??

Eco-Emi January Box

It seems like this should be a February box but it's not.  This is indeed the January box but there was a delay in shipment, and then I just haven't had a chance to get pictures taken and a post written until now.  So let's take a look, shall we?
First of all, there was light blue tissue paper wrapped around this when I first opened the box, and there were a few of the confetti snowflakes right on top.  That was so cute.  And then when I opened the paper and saw tons more of the snowflakes on this shimmery blue bag . . . SO CUTE!  Everything was tucked into this blue bag and let me just say, I *love* this bag.  Crazy, but it's probably my favorite part of this month's box.  LOL!  It's a deep navy blue color, made of a very moveable velvet material, not at all stiff.  I don't know what I'll ever use it for, but I love it.

And this is what was all inside.  As always, there was an information card about everything in the package, and then some extra cards from some of the companies involved.

Organic Sprouted Quinoa, from TruRoots.  I don't even know what Quinoa is but it's cool that they included some.  There are instructions on the package.  I'm guessing it's something like rice?

Organic virgin coconut oil, from Kelapo.   According to the little info card, coconut oil can be used for tons of things.  I know from my soaping days that it's great in soap, but this says you can use it straight as a body moisturizer or hair conditioner or even for taking off waterproof mascara.  It also suggests using as a butter alternative, and of course for cooking or baking.  Who knew?

Honeydew-Spearming body lotion, from Deep Steep.  I think I've had something from this company before, maybe in a previous Eco-Emi box or maybe even in a Birchbox, because the packaging looks familiar.  

Grapefruit Seed & Orange Peel Extract liquid laundry detergent, from Biokleen.  This sounds interesting.  I usually use these types of samples on clothes that don't get very dirty because I'm always skeptical about such detergents.  Really though, I should be using them on the dirtiest clothes just to see how well it does.  Ha, someday I'll figure these things out.

Two teas from TeaGschwendner . . . Acerola Fruit Tea, and Marani Green Tea.  This was humorous and a bummer to me because I recently went through another short lived phase of 'I will learn to like tea!'  And like my other attempts, this one bombed almost immediately. I just can't stand it!  For me to even be able to tolerate tea I would need to sweeten it up so much that it would hardly seem worth it.  I've even tried teas that I thought would be flavorful enough for me to at least get used to, but nope . . . they all taste the same to me, all taste horrible.  I'm jealous of tea drinkers!  How do you do it???

Organic, natural hand purifier, from Dr. Cleangreen.  I am not a hand sanitizer user.  I think we've become a ridiculously germaphobic society.  It also makes me cringe that these products are often just as harmful as they might be helpful.  So it's nice to see that there is indeed a natural product out there.  Too bad the natural options cost so much more because I would love to push this issue at work, where we are required to use the cheapest, most industrial strength anti-bacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers.  (I work in a food plant.)  It doesn't matter if we have our own because we have to wash/sanitize whenever we step onto the production floor and our personal items are not allowed there.

An organic eyeliner in black/brown, from Lauren Brooke Cosmetiques.  I don't wear makeup but I've seen Lauren Brooke products in Birchbox (I think?) and know the beauty gurus tend to like them.

Lip tint in Strike-a-Rose, from JR Watkins.  I was thrilled to see this!  I always think of JR Watkins as products in my grandma's cupboard for baking.  I seem to remember a bottle of vanilla extract or something always being present in my mom's corner cupboard, the lazy-susan of baking ingredients.  I didn't even realize they had lip balms!  Then again, I do seem to remember recently noticing a JR Watkins section in the bath and body section of Target or Walmart.  Anyway, I'm all about lip balms, and I would like to ease my way into wearing some lip color so this was quite a treat to find in this month's box.

Organic lip balm in Vanilla Polar Bear, from Endangered Wildlife Lip Balm.  Another lip balm!  Oh, happy day!  And for a good cause too.  I'm glad mine is vanilla.  Some of the boxes received peppermint, some lavender orange, and some got vanilla.

And that is my January Eco-Emi box.  I have cancelled my subscription, so this was my last box.  It's not that I don't like the Eco-Emi program . . . not at all!  It's more because when 2012 started I had decided to trim out some expenses, and use some money for other things in other areas.  And while it is so much fun to receive a box of surprise goodies each month, I'm finding that a lot of these things (just like with Birchbox) are not things I will use, not even in sample form.  Since I first tried Birchbox and then found my way to Eco-Emi I've heard of several other subscription/sample programs.  I might try some of them in the future.  It would be great to find a more 'common folk items' program, but so far they all seem to be high-end beauty or eco-friendly based.  

So while this is my last Eco-Emi box, I still highly recommend the program.


Amd don't forget to enter my February Giveaway . . . HERE . . . for your chance to win
TWO bars of handcrafted soap.

My Prize From The Sugar Bush

Mary, from Moeggenborg Sugar Bush Primitives, recently had a contest on her blog and I was one of two winners.  Yay!  I got to choose any bar of soap on her site.  Like I need more soap, right?  But hey, it's handcrafted goat milk soap, and it's from a shop I've ordered from several times so I know it's good.  And of course Mary, being the sweet lady she is, threw in a couple extra little Valentine's goodies . . . some M&Ms and a super cute Valentine's gift tag.

I chose the Rainbow Sherbet bar because I'm ready for some brighter, fruitier scents now that the holidays are over and winter never really did show up.  This is no longer on the site but it was described as something like a mix of fruits.  Smelling this bar, it really is kinda like a big bowl of Rainbow Sherbet!  It is indeed very fruity but no one fruit really dominates. 
Very pretty piping and glitter on top of this bar, which has an almost deceiving Halloween look about it.  A fun little prize, and I'm happy to have won it.  Thank you, Mary!!

If you're not familiar with Moeggenborg Sugar Bush Primitives, I encourage you to check them out.  They are a family business located in Michigan, and there is SO much more than just soap on their site.  They have candles and tarts, pantry items such as bread mixes and coffee, prim lighting, handmade Christmas stockings, and more.  Something for everyone!

Don't forget to enter MY February Giveaway . . . HERE . . . for your chance to win
TWO bars of handcrafted soap.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget to enter the February Giveaway . . . HERE . . . for your chance to win TWO bars of handcrafted soap!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Movie Review - Lady Jane

Lady Jane
PG-13, 141 minutes

For nine politically charged days in 1553, protestant martyr Lady Jane Grey (Helena Bonham Carter) rules England against her will, thanks to a conspiracy concocted by a band of men bent on keeping the crown away from the Church of Rome. But when Princess Mary, the daughter of King Henry, assumes the throne, Lady Jane and her husband, Guilford Dudley (Cary Elwes), are imprisoned and sentenced to die.

As my fascination with the Tudor dynasty continues, I was finally curious enough about this particular part of history that I decided to Netflix this movie that I've passed up many times.  Actually, I first became aware of this brief scandal in that horrible Tudor Secret book I was reading last year.  (Click here to see that book review.)  Now that I'm more familiar with all the people and events of the times, I thought this would be interesting.  Seems like we don't hear much about little Jane's part in it all.

I knew this was an older movie but didn't realize it was from way back in 1986.  Helena Bonham Carter was 20 years old but looked so young, and this was one of her first movies.  Cary Elwes was 24, also looking extremely young, and before his Princess Bride fame.  (Can you believe I have never seen that movie??)

The look of this movie, the music, the feel, was almost like a TV movie.  Not that it was bad, but it made me chuckle a few times.  I've read reviews that rant because this movie was far from accurate.  I guess I don't really know enough about these specific events to know how accurate it was or wasn't, but I suspected there was a lot of Hollywood drama and romance added because this really was a sweet love story played against the stark evil greediness of the adults all around.  The commands and actions of Jane during those few days she was queen seemed very childlike and fictional, but really, did she do anything in those nine days worth noting?  I don't know yet because this is all I know about her so far.

Jane's story is sad whether referring to it factually or from this movie.  For this review I will go by the movie.  She didn't ask to marry Guilford Dudley, and he certainly didn't want to marry her.  No, it was political maneuvering by their power hungry parents that set this match up.  Still it was sweet the way they eventually got to know each other and fell in love.  It was sad how they felt they only had each other to rely on  and how they dreamed of going away.  Jane certainly didn't ask to be queen.  As far as this movie, I don't think she was even aware of what was being plotted.  And how would it feel to be 16 years old and be told you are now the Queen of England, especially in those troubled times?  Crazy.  Did she even understand all the political bull going on around her??  To be thrown in prison only days later, sentenced to death, and executed months later . . . all for something she never asked for, never wanted, never had a hand in?  Heartbreaking, and disgusting to think that their parents put them in this spot.

Whether accurate or not, this was quite a good movie, very sweet and very sad.  And as with all movies of this type, it makes me want to learn more about the real Lady Jane story.  I'm glad I finally gave this movie a chance.  And young Cary Elwes was quite a cutie!

Have you seen this movie?  What did you think of it, or of the Lady Jane scandal in general?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

(Don't forget to enter my February Giveaway!  Who is your celebrity
Valentine sweety?)

Review - Chagrin Valley Soap

I'd never heard of Chagrin Valley Soap but blog reader 'chickadee' left a suggestion in a comment on another soap review post, mentioning this company.  I looked at their site several times before deciding to go ahead and order.  There are so many soaps from this place that I want to try!  This is an all natural company, using a lot of foodie ingredients like honey, carrots, cucumber, and using essential oils, and natural colorants.  I had a hard time trying to decide on just one bar to order, not to mention all the other things available.  I was thrilled to find they offer sample sizes.  This allowed me to pick a few different things to try.

So what did I get?

If a soap maker has an Oatmeal, Milk, and Honey soap I am most likely going to start with that one.  Whether it's just a fragrance oil scented version, or the real deal with actual milk and honey and oatmeal, it just seems to be a favorite of mine.  So of course when I saw this Goat Milk, Oatmeal, and Honey at Chagrin Valley, I knew this was the one I'd be starting with.  Even though there is no added scent, there IS still a very nice, sweet, almost floral natural scent from the honey and other ingredients.  
I ordered the sample size bar, and even being a sample, it was huge.  It was thin, yeah, but it was like a big paddle of a bar in my hand.  And even though it was big, I quite liked it.  Because it was thin, it felt like I had great control, like I was just scrubbing with my hand.  Of course, if you prefer to cut your bars (I don't), it would be so easy to do with this.  I didn't actually weigh it so I don't know how many ounces it was.

It arrived in a small paper bag with a sticker label on it.  I thought this was cute and practical.  I'm not sure how the full sized bars are packaged.

I really liked this soap!  As always, I used this in the shower with a mesh bath puff, and my water is very hard (country well water) so results may vary for you.  This soap exploded into an immediate big bubbled froth in the first moments of using it on my body.  It then settled down into a thicker, creamier lather that easily lasted until the end of my shower.  The scent was noticeable, even for being an 'un'scented soap.  It rinsed easily and left me feeling very soft and moisturized.  

There is oatmeal in this soap, quite a lot of oatmeal.  I really liked it when the bar was large, it felt like a really  nice soft-scratch rub down (if that makes any sense?!), but as the bar got smaller the oatmeal felt scratchier and did become uncomfortable.  I ended up throwing the bar away before the end because it just got too rough, and that's too bad because I loved this soap.

As I do with all soaps I buy, I tried it on my face to test for dryness or tightness.  I had to be careful because of the oatmeal, and ended up lathering it on my little face scrubbie instead.  I did notice some extreme itchiness around my nose afterwards but I'm not ready to blame the soap.  I had also tried a different lotion that morning and may have had some left on my hands when I applied my regular face cream after washing.

Even with those minor setbacks, I loved this soap.  I'm looking forward to trying some other varieties next time.  The website says their bars are 6.5-7.5oz, and sell for around $7.35, depending on ingredients.  The sample bars are $2.60 each, and it looks like you can get a sample bar in any of the soaps they have in stock, not just limited to a few choices.

There are many other products on the Chagrin Valley website . . . shampoo bars, lip balms, scrubs, butters, dog soaps, and others.  It took me a while to decide what else I wanted to try.

Since I've been all about sugar scrubs lately I just had to try one of theirs.  This is the sample size of the 'All Natural Whipped Body Sorbet Sugar Scrub & Wash.' It is preservative free and even contains some of Chagrin Valley's own soap.  When I first opened the jar and looked at this I was disappointed.  I thought 'Ugh, it's one of those really dry, crumbly ones.'  But I was wrong!  While it is a more dry consistency than my favorite scrub type, it was not crumbly and hard to use.  It was 'wet' enough to scoop some out with my fingers and easily handle it where I needed it to go.  I was also surprised that what appears to be very large grained sugar was actually very gentle.  The sugar dissolved nicely, not too fast, but also not too slow in that you're scrubbing forever or washing it all away, and it was not harsh at all.  It was also  nice that the Chagrin Valley soap in there turned this scrub to a creamy wash as it was worked with.  It wasn't a bubbly lather like using regular soap, but it was more than just oils holding the sugar in the scrub.  I really liked that.  My skin felt fabulous afterwards, without feeling oily, and it did not make my bathtub slippery at all (as scrubs are often known to do).

Although it lists lemon, bergamot, lavender and eucalyptus essential oils in the ingredients, I really couldn't tell you about the scent of this scrub.  I thought it was unscented so I didn't pay much attention, although there was a subtle, lemony scent while using it.

I would order this product again.  A full jar is 10oz and sells for $12.95, but there are 1oz sample jars available for $3.00.  I used my entire sample jar in one shower but that might have been overkill.  I was just gungho to be trying something new.  The prices may seem high but remember, these are preservative free, all natural products.

I also ordered a sample size jar of the All Natural Whipped Shea Body Butter because I'm always looking for a good body butter/lotion.  I debated between the whipped shea and the whipped cocoa butter, and don't know why I picked the shea.  It looks so light and fluffy on the site and in this picture but as soon as I opened it I knew I wouldn't like it.  This is more of a 'hard' consistency, not hard like a balm or a solid lotion stick, but hard in that those apparently fluffy peaks are stiff and you have to sort of crush and scrape your finger across to get the product.  I've had this type of product before and it's just not the kind I prefer.

Let me say though, this product works great.  Why don't I like it then?  Well not only is it the slightly hard consistency that I don't prefer, but it is also the type that leaves you greasy for a short time until it finally absorbs.  Once the greasy is gone, the skin wherever you've applied it super soft and moisturized but if you're like me and just don't prefer this TYPE, then you won't like this product.  I thought maybe I could use it up on my feet and knees in the mornings after my showers, not have to worry about the greasy feeling there, but no because it's still greasy on my hands afterwards.  I'm going to try using it just to dab on my cuticles, see how that goes.  Again, not a bad product . . . just be aware of the type of product it is.

I had ordered the unscented version but there is still a natural almost nutty aroma that comes from the unrefined shea butter.  You can also order scented versions.  A full jar is 4oz and sells for $15.00/scented or $14.85/unscented.  There are .5oz sample size jars available for $4.75/scented or $4.50 unscented.

Shipping was fast, I had my order within days of ordering.  There were no samples or anything in the package.  I don't know if they just don't send samples or if it was because I'd only bought sample sizes to begin with.  I can't say anything about customer service because I haven't contacted them for anything, just placed my order without any questions.

In the end, I think I will order from Chagrin Valley again because there are so many other soaps on their site that I want to try.  And I thank blog reader 'chickadee' for the suggestion!

Chagrin Valley Soap . . . WEBSITE
Chagrin Valley Soap . . . FACEBOOK

(Don't forget to enter my February Giveaway!  Who is your celebrity
Valentine sweety?)

Review - Creamery Creek

I've been aware of Creamery Creek since way back in my earliest days of discovering handcrafted soaps.  Reviews I'd seen on YouTube or in blogs were always raving but for some reason I always bumped other shops to top of my Must Try list.  That was remedied about a month ago, finally.

My actual order was for two bars of soap, Oats 'N Marmalade, and Lemon Drop.  However, they had a special posted on their blog at that time, a free 'shaped' soap with every order so I also received the round green soap you see in the picture, and that was in Siberian Pine scent.  I also received a small sample piece of Chai Tea scented soap.

The soap I will actually be reviewing is . . .
'This scent is nostalgic, tart, and spicy, not sweet like a regular orange. It is rich without being to heavy just like traditional orange marmalade. We have added ground oats for a gentle scrub.
We think this scent is just dreamy!'

One thing I'd heard a lot about Creamery Creek soaps is that they are light on scent.  When I first received my order I was happy to find this wasn't the case at all.  All of the bars smelled so nice, not overpowering, but definitely enough to know they had plenty of scent.  This one in particular is a very, very nice orange scent.  As the descriptions says, it's not a regular sweet orange.  There is a very nice, softly spicy note to it.  It's a unisex scent, and perfect for a morning shower when you need a bit of a pick me up.  When I finally started using this bar in the shower though, it was really hard to notice that scent.  I still detected a subtle pleasantness but it was more like the generic soapy scent you get with handmade soaps.  Now for ME it was fine because I prefer to get my scents from lotions or body sprays AFTER my showers, but if you are someone who loves highly scented soaps, this is probably not for you.

I used this soap in the shower, with a mesh shower puff as always, and it might be worth noting that I live in the country and have very hard well water.  Creamery Creek bars are more of a thick chunk, a good size to hang onto.  It lathered quickly and easily, and while it wasn't tons of lather, it did last through my shower.  It rinsed easily, and left me feeling clean and moisturized.  I felt no dryness or tightness.  It even eased some of the winter itchies I'd already been having.  This particular soap does have oatmeal in it but it is finely ground and not at all scratchy.  I even used this bar directly on my face and felt no abrasives or irritation. 

Creamery Creek is goat milk soap, which I prefer.  Bars are 6-6.5oz and are $5.00 each, which is a GREAT deal.  They can ship 1-10 bars for $5.70 in the US, and will ship internationally.  They are a family business located in Utah, raise their own goats, and have been making soap for over 10 years.  Most of their soaps appear to be naturally colored, or have very little color added, and I like that.  Some of the really brightly colored soaps out there scare me!  I want to wash myself, not rub dye all over my body. 

Creamery Creek ONLY makes soap.  You won't find lotions or fancy scrubs or perfumes on their site.  They do not use lard, as that other popular family goat milk soap business that I call my sentimental favorite does.  These soaps use a basic formula of 'Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Palm Oil, Castor Oil, Avacado Oil, Shea Butter, Soybean Oil,' which might make them sort of average in the eyes of some but I find them to be just fine.  There are plenty of scents to choose from, including fragrance oil scents and some essential oil scents, and even a couple unscented options.  Their scent lineup has remained pretty steady in all the time I've browsed but never ordered.  Just before the holidays they added some new scents.  I was so excited to see something new that THAT is probably what really made me finally order.  But I also like that things don't constantly change here.  If I find a favorite, I know I can go back for more and it will most likely still be available.

Shipping was fast.  I ordered on December 20, right in the holiday rush, and still got it just a few days later.  Customer service is decent.  I'd screwed up during the checkout process and didn't get the coupon code entered but when I emailed immediately after to explain, they replied to my email and still honored the coupon.  Earlier in the fall when I had emailed asking about scents, I received replies to my questions usually within the same day.  And you know how I feel about small businesses not answering their emails!  lol

Overall, I am pleased with my Creamery Creek experience.  I don't know why I waited so long to order but I'm glad I finally have, and I definitely will order again.  I would absolutely recommend them to anyone who is looking for natural, handmade soaps to try.

Creamery Creek . . . WEBSITE
Creamery Creek . . . BLOG

(Don't forget to enter my February Giveaway!  Who is your celebrity
Valentine sweety?)

February Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Aaah, February, the month of love and roses and chocolate and pink and red and candy 'conversation' hearts ... Valentines.  This month's giveaway is easy.  Just leave a comment below about who your dream *celebrity* Valentine would be.  That's it!

What will you win?  SOAP!  You will be able to choose TWO items from almost any handcrafted soap in my current stash.  And there are a variety of shops to choose from!  There are bars of soap, cupcake soaps, and even a slice of pie soap.  Or you might choose the bag of assorted samples I've accumulated, and try a bunch of different shops!
A winner will be chosen from all qualifying entries (you MUST name your celebrity sweety!) using around noon (central time) on Thursday, February 9, 2012.  Be sure to leave some way for me to contact you if you are the winner.  Please enter only once.

So I suppose I should get things started by sharing who my celebrity Valentine would be.  Ya know, when I first thought of this contest topic a few days ago, the first two that came to mind were my old favorites Heath Ledger and Johnny Depp.  But I was watching something last night that had a young Cary Elwes in it and *fans old lady self* whoooooo, I'm going to pick him!

Then . . . 

Now . . . 
Kinda looks like Tim Robbins here in this 2010 picture. 
Other recent pics I've seen of him are not so favorable, unfortunately.

Anyway!  Who would YOUR celebrity Valentine be?