Procrastination: How to Gain Motivation to Get it Done

Procrastination: How to Gain Motivation to Get it Done

As someone who works two full time jobs, one as a high school English teacher (summers, too), and a business owner, plus maintaining a household, I sincerely don’t have much time for procrastination. Of course, there are days when I don’t want to do anything except crawl on my couch with my Netflix, my popcorn, and my self-pity, but I absolutely cannot allow that to control me or I would forever be in a black hole.

The funny thing about that black hole of procrastination is that my experience has taught me it isn’t actually laziness which makes someone procrastinate; in fact, laziness is probably the furthest thing from the truth. Most procrastinators are also silently obsessing over their deadline. So what makes a procrastinator wait until the last minute? It’s anxiety: fear of not finishing, and a doubt for how to begin. The task just appears to be too daunting.

The first strategy to beating the procrastination blues and gaining some motivation is to work backwards from your deadline. Recognize how much time you have been allotted to complete the task, and with a backwards design, figure out your action plan.

Creating an Action Plan is a second strategy. You need to break down the large task into smaller, manageable tasks. Every large project has smaller parts which brings it together as a whole. The second step should be identifying those smaller parts. You can do this by means of a to-do list and a calendar. 

For example, if you have a deadline for huge work project or written assignment, the first step in your action plan is identifying your topic. After the topic has been identified, research needs to be completed, from which you can decide on your thesis, or your angle. Then you need to discern research into useful information, divide up the main points, create an outline, start writing, revise, edit, complete!

An action plan can be applied to almost any daunting task. Let’s say you want to begin an exercise regimen, but you’ve been a couch potato for years. It’s literally all about taking the first step. Before you can jog a 5K, you need to walk, and before you do that, you need to build up stamina. Try walking for 1 mile, or half a mile. As each week progresses, try adding another .5 mile. Once you’re comfortable walking a full 5K, start by running as much as you can, calculate it, then try beating it every week. 

A third strategy is by way of achievement and rewarding yourself. As you continue to complete each part of your action plan, give yourself a reward – maybe a relaxing bubble bath, or a gift for yourself – something you will not allow yourself to have until you’ve completed that next step. Keeping track of your progress is an ideal way to maintain your focus. You can use an app, a journal, calling a friend, anything that will hold you accountable.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Sometimes the task is just too much for one person to bear, and sometimes you need advice from a person with expertise. It’s perfectly fine to ask people for assistance; it’s not passing-the-buck if you are contributing, also. Delegating tasks to people can be appropriate if it’s a project-type of environment, and this will often ease everyone’s stress levels.

Visualize yourself completing the task. In psychology, visualization is a tool used for patients to practice their behavior in certain situations to help ease anxiety. You can make the task become tangible by visualizing the completion by mind, or by means of creating a vision board. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by how messy your house is and you just keep procrastinating cleaning it, you can create a vision board with magazine clippings of a spotless house – a modern twist would be creating a Pinterest board for where you want to see yourself.

As you work towards completing any goal, you must remember that you have the ability to make it happen. Anything worth its weight takes hard work, persistence, diligence, and a level of fortitude. As a human, you absolutely have all of these qualities; you just need to modify the task to make it work for you. 

I have to give credit to one of my amazing students, Emma, who wrote an incredible blog post about her experience with procrastination. Her story drove me to write this post with the hopes that it could help people. Do you have any tips for tackling the procrastination jungle?

Fun Things to Do on Long Road Trips

Fun Things to Do on Long Road Trips

This past weekend I spent over four hours in the car, to only drive about 90 miles. Traffic in New York City, especially in the summer, is absolutely horrific. I sincerely would rather drive 200 miles while moving freely than sit in the amount of traffic I do to visit my in-laws in Eastern Long Island.

While my day-to-day life does not require much driving, my weekends have always been stuck in my car. As a result, I have come up with a few techniques you can use on long road trips to occupy the time and your mind. Some of these are great with other people, and can be adjusted for kids, and some will be just fine while you’re alone. The trick is to modify for your audience.

  • The “Would You Rather…” game is one of my favorites and can be adjusted for different ages and categories. The premise is to pick two equally awful or amazing circumstances and pose the situation to another person to see how he/she would answer. An example: “Would you rather go on a date with Cameron Diaz or Jennifer Lopez?” The person answers, explains if he/she wants, and you have a laugh. A darker side: “Would you rather sit in a bathtub full of snakes, or be chased by a bear?”
  • The “What would you do with…” game has a similar game-play, but you offer up different tools/situations and see how the person answers. For example: “What would you do if you were handed a million dollars?” “What would you do if someone delivered an elephant at your door?”
  • The “How many can you list?” game is fun and can be very challenging. The object is to list as many of whatever category you choose and have people compete to see who can name the most. “How many hit Broadway musicals can you list?” “How many breeds of dogs can you list?” You can adjust the rules so that there can be no repetition, or if someone has a clear advantage, he/she must go first, etc.
  • The “Alphabet” game. This one can get very challenging – the object is to use the alphabet to list different items. For example: “List as many US states that start with A.” Or, you can make it in order, so that the first person has to list an “A” state, and the next person has to list a “B” state. This also works with cities, countries, monuments, authors, etc.
  • Radio karaoke can be a lot of fun. The rule is whatever song comes on the radio next, a person has to sing along as best as possible, and someone else counts the errors/omissions, and competes with the next song.
  • Counting any type of object can be a way to search and occupy your mind. If you’re traveling longer distances, you can count different state license plates; you can count different color cars, etc.
  • Sometimes I make up stories for different people in vehicles near me. Based on the car they’re driving, their license plate, or whatever I feel like, I create a fantastical reason for their road trip and a whole story attached to it.
  • Picking a book you always wanted to read, but never had the chance, and downloading the audio version. You may be able to get through listening to the whole book while you’re in the car.
  • The “Green Room” game is really a linguistic game, but the object is to see if someone can figure out what’s in the “green room.” So, any word that has double letters, such as “green,” would be IN the green room, while any word that doesn’t, is not. This is fun if the other person has never heard of it. You can say: “Cheese is in the green room, so is mozzarella, but gouda is not.” The other person has to figure out the rule of the game without it being told to him/her.
  • The “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game is a classic, and probably best for audiences in their teens and older, but the objective is to pick any random actor/actress, and show how Kevin Bacon can be connected to it within six degrees. For example (Mila Kunis): Mila Kunis was in Date Night with Vivian Khouri who was in Crazy, Stupid, Love with Kevin Bacon.  Of course, you can adjust this for different actors/actresses.
  • “Twenty Questions” is another classic and easily modified for different ages. The objective is to pick an object, keep it in mind, and the other person can ask up to twenty yes-or-no questions to figure it out. A very easy example: “Does this thing have two legs?” (No.) “Does it have two wings?” (No.) “Does it have four legs?” (No.) “Does it swim?” (Yes.) “Is it a fish?” You win!

I hope you gleaned some ideas to make your next road trip a little more bearable! Do you have any suggestions for keeping your time and mind occupied while traveling?

Understanding the Science and Ingredients of Bath Bombs

Understanding the Science and Ingredients of Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs (also known as Bath Fizzies) are the craze in the bath and body world, and why wouldn’t they be? They are fun, colorful, and they embody all the moments of childhood bubble baths with an adult twist. If you’re new to the bath bomb world, we’ve created a short video on how it works in your tub, plus a little tutorial on how to create your own in this blog post.

What we especially love about bath bombs are three main points: The amazing aroma, the fabulous skin-loving properties, and the beautiful colors or embeds. But sometimes reading the ingredient list of a bath bomb can be a little intimidating; there are some clearly recognizable aspects, such as the baking soda, but some other ingredients…um, what is that? Have no fear! No bath bomb-loving maker will steer you wrong, and here we’ll break down the ingredients to our best-selling bomb, the Midnight in Paris Bath Fizzie.

Midnight_in_Paris_Bath_Fizzie_1024x1024
Midnight in Paris Bath Bomb

Here’s the ingredient list: Baking Soda, Citric Acid, Organic Soybean Oil, Cream of Tartar, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate (SLSA), Lavender Flowers, Phthalate-Free Fragrance, Colorant (Glycerin, Isopropyl Alcohol, Yellow 5, Corn Starch, Calcium Carbonate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Ultramarine Blue, D&C Red 7 Calcium Lake, Fluorphlogopite, Titanium Dioxide).

The Breakdown of Each Ingredient

  • Baking Soda: Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a weak base (when thinking in terms of acids and bases in chemistry). What it does is weakly ionize in water, meaning it makes the water slightly more alkaline, or lowering the pH value. But because the baking soda isn’t working alone here, it’s not necessarily true in the case of a bath bomb…it’s the reaction with citric acid.
  • Citric Acid: Citric acid is a weak organic acid found naturally occurring in most citric fruits. Believe it or not, citric acid is made from the fermentation of sugar that is created as citric fruits age. The combination of baking soda, as a weak base, with citric acid, a weak acid, inside of water, creates a chemical reaction that releases carbon dioxide; that’s what makes the fizzing action in a bath bomb! As the acid and base hits the water, the carbon dioxide escapes, creating bubbles. (Side note – you’ll often find citric acid as an ingredient in certain foods because it acts as a natural preservative and fizzing – read the ingredients of your favorite soft drink.)
  • Organic Soybean Oil: We use organic soybean oil because of the concern over GMOs (genetically modified organisms) for use on body and food; it’s organic, meaning it’s not derived from GMO soybeans, and grown without pesticides. Soybean oil has a high unsaturated fatty acid compound, including 30 IU per ounce of vitamin E. These types of oils have wonderful skin-softening properties that work to moisturize the epidermis (top layer of skin). That’s why we choose organic soybean oil; in short, it’s awesome for your skin.
  • Cream of Tartar: Also known as potassium bitartrate, cream of tartar is the crystallization effect naturally occurring in the fermentation of wine barrels. Essentially, the “wine crystals” are sifted out from the wine and crushed into powder. In bath bombs, cream of tartar acts as a binding agent, making the bomb harder and stronger. (You can also use cream of tartar in food, especially when whipping egg whites to create a fluffy egg mixture.)
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate: So this ingredient gets a bad rap because it’s often mistaken for Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, but they are NOT the same!  SLSA is completely safe for most skin types, including sensitive skin. It removes oils and bacteria without irritating the skin.This product is derived from coconut and palm oils, and conforms to Ecocert’s natural and organic cosmetic standard and is 100% of natural origin -the purpose in bath bombs: long-lasting bubbles!
  • Lavender Flowers: This one is pretty simple – we use real lavender flowers in this particular bomb because of their aroma and calming effect. They make the bath come to life, adds a natural essence, and just enhances the whole lavender aspect of the fizz.
  • Phthalate-Free Fragrance: To create this particular bath bomb, we combine fragrance oils that are made without phthalates to create the scent of lavender and chocolate. We always opt for phthalate-free for everything we create, including our candles, because phthalates are essentially plastics…and who wants to breathe or bathe in plastic?
  • The Colorant: Okay, so some parts of colorant we already  discussed, such as the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). We have to use specially-made colorants for bath bombs to ensure (the majority) of the color drains out of your tub.
    • Glycerin: Glycerin is the natural occurrence of oils mixed with lye to create soap. Essentially, glycerin is the leftover oils from this mixture, making it a natural humectant (skin-softening because it attracts water).
    • Isopropyl Alcohol: Isopropyl alcohol is used in a number of cosmetics because it is drying, evaporating off quickly. It’s used as a binding liquid, and why we use it in bath bombs, when you cannot use water; it helps avoid the early reaction of the citric acid and baking soda.
    • Yellow 5, Ultramarine Blue, D&C Red 7 Calcium Lake: These are the names given to specific colors by the FDA, derived from minerals in the Earth. There are only certain colors approved by the FDA for cosmetic purposes, and these are some.
    • Corn Starch: Cornstarch, also sometimes called cornflour, is produced by grinding, washing and drying the endosperm of the corn until it reaches that fine, powdery state. It’s used in bath bomb colorants for thickening purposes.
    • Calcium Carbonate: Calcium carbonate is actually found in around 4% of the earth’s crust, naturally derived from mineral earth. Calcium carbonate causes a unique reaction with acids.  Upon contact with an acid – no matter the strength – it produces carbon dioxide.
    • Fluorphlogopite: Synthetic fluorphlogophite is a fluorine-substituted mineral, produced at very high temperatures and is composed of magnesium aluminum silicate sheets, weakly bound together by potassium. This substance is found to exist as very large heavy particles due to its high molecular weight. It is this high molecular weight which makes it ideal for increasing the viscosity of a formulation and being used as a bulking agent.
    • Titanium Dioxide: Titanium dioxide is a white unreactive solid that occurs naturally as the mineral rutile and is used extensively as a white pigment. This is not really absorbed into the skin, which is why it’s also often found in sunscreens and soaps; it makes cosmetics white without being absorbed.

So there you have it; there’s quite a bit that goes into a bath bomb. It’s not quite as “natural” as other products, but everything is cosmetic-grade and approved by the FDA. Chemistry 101!

Bomb Shelter for Bath Bombs Infographic
Shop Bath Bombs

What it Means to be a Maker Business

 

What it Means to be a Maker Business

If you’re here, reading this article, you clearly have a keen eye and a true appreciation for handmade craftsmanship. In today’s blog post, I would like to share with you what it means to be a maker business; how we’re simultaneously each unique, and yet each share these same sentiments.

We take our business personally
“Maker” businesses, or businesses based on handmade goods, have a unique placement in the world of retail because our business is personal; we’re literally getting our hands dirty to create something beautiful that we want to share with the world. As professional as we each are, your reviews, comments, and critiques are still close to our heart. We want you to be honest and give sincere feedback, but lashing out at a maker business over a disappointment is not quite the same as it is when it’s a huge chain. You’re most likely dealing with the owner, who is probably the craftsman, photographer, web developer, accountant, and everything rolled into one. In a sense, our business is our child that we nurture, grow, and hope to see it graduate from college and be independent one day.

We’ve worked incredibly hard to develop our formulas
Whether we’re making soaps, aromatherapy, candles, skincare, bags, clothes, jewelry, the list goes on, we have spent years developing our style, our formulas, and our technique. We would never sell anything that we haven’t tested multiple times until we’ve perfected it (and then tested it some more). We’ve given away tons of our products while we’re in the testing phases to solicit feedback – go ahead, ask our friends and family members who are chock-full of “well-it-works-but-this-is-hideous” testers. Because of our hard work, we stand behind our products and will offer the best customer service in town.

This is far more than a hobby for us
Many of us started out as hobbyists. We found a passion for crafting, and began working on our art, but it has developed into a business for us. For this reason, our formulations and techniques are proprietary; please do not put us in an awkward position by asking us “how” to make something, or asking us for a recipe. This is our livelihood. We’ve invested thousands of dollars to build our websites, build our inventory, test our work, get certifications and licenses. We are artists, and by nature, artists are very giving people, but we are also small businesses trying to thrive in a competitive market. Believe me, we want you to craft and find a passion for your art, but if it happens to be the same thing as we’re selling, then it’s best if you do some Google searching to get the basics. Look at it this way, do you ask your mechanic to teach you how to fix your brakes as she is fixing your brakes?

We want to connect to you
We know you could probably buy something similar to what we make on a larger, global market. But we also know if you’re interested in our products, it’s because you’re interested in us. The feeling is mutual! What makes us different than box-brands is that we sincerely care about your life, your dreams, what makes you tick. We want to hear about how your partner frustrated you, about how our soap makes your kids actually want to take a bath. We love these stories because we’re living them with you.

Your word-of-mouth is our survival
As small businesses, we go out of our way to show our customers we appreciate them, because without you, there is no us. We offer rewards programs, send little handwritten thank you notes, give you a sample or some candy with your purchase; we do it because we appreciate you, and hope you will appreciate our gestures, too. It’s amazing if you love our products, and thank you, but something simple like writing a review, telling your friend about us, or giving one of our items as a gift is the true heart and soul of our survival. Some stores can survive no matter how many unhappy customers there are, we cannot; your greatest compliment is your referral. And hey, don’t be shy about it, tell us you referred Jane Doe, we’ll be sure to thank you both for it!

We’re always doing our best to meet your demands
When you give us tips, advice, and suggestions, believe me, we’re listening. When you’re frustrated that something is out of stock, or wish a candle came in the same fragrance as a soap, we’re listening.  Sometimes we can make it happen, but sometimes we can’t. As maker businesses, there is a lot of trial-and-error that comes with offering something new on the market. It’s a matter of supplies, equipment, regulations, and more. If we can’t bring something to a general market that you’re asking for, don’t be shy to ask for a custom order; if we’re able to do it for you, we will. On the flip side, there are so many factors involved, please don’t be offended if we can’t create something you’re asking for.

We follow the good/cheap/fast rule
The rule that goes with good/cheap/fast is that you can only have a maximum of two at once. If you want something good and cheap, it won’t be fast; if you want something fast and good, it won’t be cheap; if you want something cheap and fast, it won’t be good.

We vehemently support other makers and small businesses
Because we’re all part of this circle, we also support other makers and small businesses. For example, to design my website, I use Dean Pagliaro of eCommerceDean; for the vast majority of my photographs, I use Bryan Maes of Inspiration Studios; for networking and insurance, I use Indie Business Network. We read each other’s blogs, we comment, we shop from one another, all for the same reason you’re here: We understand the importance of small business for the entrepreneurial dream, and for the growth of our economy.

Thank you for taking the time to read about Maker Businesses. We all truly appreciate your support, but more so, your belief in us. 

How to Pick the Perfect Signature Candle Scent

How to pick the perfect signature candle scent

A candle makes a beautiful gift, but like any other gift, it all depends on when and to whom it’s being given.  The unique aspect of gifting candles is that they can be used as a general gift, or they can be really personal, all depending upon how you present them.

Scent is by far the most important aspect of giving someone a candle. The first thing to recognize about candle fragrance (and really, any fragranced items) are the “notes.” There are “top/head” notes, “middle/heart” notes, and “bottom” notes. In a candle, the top note is the scent you will smell right away, usually as a cold-throw. These scents are very important for the initial review of a fragrance, but are the ones to evaporate most quickly.  Middle notes are also called the “heart” notes because they make up the main compound of a smell. This is usually after some burn time. Finally, the base notes are foundational scents, which are used to compound the middle and top notes; you can think of the base as fixative fragrance, or the foundation.

After considering all of the different notes, we usually divide up our candle fragrances into two major categories: Robust and Light. A robust fragrance is strong and powerful, often taking over the whole room. A light fragrance is gentler, still able to be noted, but not overpowering. We then subdivide into six categories: Sweet, Clean, Spicy, Flowery, Fruity, and Earthy. Some fragrances may fall into more than one category, and realistically, we could continue to subdivide into even more categories, but it just makes the process of choosing even more difficult!

Scent is a very personal experience, and what might be enjoyable to one person, may be repulsive to another. If you already know which scents a person likes, or even have an idea of the categories, choosing the proper fragrance should be relatively easy, but if you don’t, as professional chandlers,  we get this question all the time: “How do I know what scent to buy for my friend?”  To help determine the best fragrance for the person, we’ll ask::

  1. What perfume/cologne does the person wear? This can give you a good idea of the category of fragrance to go with.
  2. What general colors does he/she like? Colors often match fragrance choices. Common favorites, like blue, green, and red, are usually into more robust sweets and cleans. Less common favorites, like pinks, peaches, and acquas, are usually into lighter scents, or flowery, fruity, and clean. Darker favorites, such as browns, black, gray, orange, are into more earthy and spicy scents.
  3. What is his/her favorite season? Summers are usually light and clean, fruity, springs are usually light and flowery, falls are usually sweet, and winters are usually earthy and spicy.
  4. Does he/she like sweet or savory food? Sweet food lovers usually go for sweet, fruity, and clean, savory food lovers usually go for flowery, spicy, and earthy.
  5. How is his/her home decorated? This answer can usually help with the light and robust categories.
  6. Is the person an introvert or extrovert? Introverts usually like clean and flowery, while spicy and earthy appeal to extroverts. Sweet and fruity are a little harder to determine here.
  7. Does the person normally dress casually, business-like, fancy, or sweats? Our casual and sweats people usually prefer robust scents, while our business and fancy people usually go for lighter scents.
  8. Would the person rather spend a night watching Netflix or a night at the gym? Netflix folks tend to like sweet, fruity, and clean, while our gym people prefer spicy, earthy tones.

It’s important for me to point out that our questioning method is not completely scientific; however, because our sense of taste is closely related to our sense of smell, we have made these determinations based on experience. The best way to choose a fragrance is to smell it, walk away from it, and smell it again. The difficult part of the candle experience is that you really can’t get to the middle and base notes until you burn the candle, so please ask your chandler questions – a professional chandler will guide you in the best direction.

Your Unique Skin Type and Suggestions to Make it Glow

Your Unique Skin Type and Suggestions to Make it Glow

Hey, your epidermis is showing! Remember that snarky joke from childhood? Well, as silly as it is, it’s absolutely true. Your epidermis is your outermost layer of skin, and it’s the largest organ of your body.

There are three layers of skin: The epidermis, which makes new skin cells, gives skin its pigmentation, and protects your body. The second layer is the dermis; this layer creates oil, oxygenates your skin with blood, creates feeling and nerve impulses, grows hair, and makes sweat. The final layer is subcutaneous fat; this section stores fat to protect your body, regulates body temperature, attaches the dermis to the rest of your muscles and bones, and connects blood vessels and nerves to the rest of your body.

While we all share the same three layers of skin, we all have unique skin types which require their own special attention for care. There is one piece of advice that is good for all skin types, and that is to drink plenty of water! In this blog post, I will share some general information for various skin types and suggestions for natural care, but remember, it is best to make an appointment with a licensed dermatologist to confirm medical diagnosis or treatment.

Dry Skin Type 

  • Characteristics: Itchy, flaky, red, tightness. Most common in mature skin.
  • Suggestions: Consume Omega-3 fatty acids. Exfoliate once per week. Pamper your skin with body and face butters. Use toners without alcohol.

Oily Skin Type 

  • Characteristics: Large pores, thick and coarse texture, overactive oil glands – especially during warm weather or exercise, shiny appearance, greasy feeling.
  • Suggestions: Use non-comedogenic skin products. Use products with natural oils – skin that is moisturized with non-comedogenic oils dissolves oil. Pamper your skin with body and face butters. Wash with soap utilizing essential oils, especially lavender, lemongrass, and tea tree.

Sensitive Skin Type 

  • Characteristics: Prone to breakouts, easily flares-up, allergic to many cosmetics, small pores, fine texture, broken blood vessels are evident under thinner skin layers (such as under-eye).
  • Suggestions: Use skin care products that are made without fragrance. Avoid excessive sun. Use cleansers that do not have detergents.

Combination Skin Type 

  • Characteristics: The T-Zone (forehead, nose, and chin) are oily, but the cheeks are dry. Skin generally appears normal, and has medium-sized pores.
  • Suggestions:  Treat each respective skin region with the love and TLC it needs based on the type. Use a toner without alcohol.

Acne Skin Type 

  • Characteristics:  Inflamed, tender skin. Solid, painful lumps. Clogged pores. There are multiple types of acne: acne cysts, nodules, comedones (whiteheads and blackheads), papules, or pustules.
  • Suggestions:  Seek professional treatment from a physician. Search for products made with tea tree essential oil and activated charcoal powder. Do not pop pimples, as tempting as it may be, all it does is introduce more bacteria into the skin. Avoid touching your face, including objects which may touch your face like a phone. Clean bedsheets often, especially pillowcases – wash them in bleach, if possible. Exfoliate with unscented sugar scrubs.

Rosacea, Psoriasis, Eczema Skin Type 

  • Characteristics:  Rosacea is redness, flushing, sometimes bumpy flare-ups of the skin. People with fair skin tones are more inclined to have rosacea. Psoriasis is an immunodeficiency disorder which is often genetic. According to the Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form thick, silvery scales and itchy, dry, red patches that are sometimes painful.” Eczema is usually an itchy, red, rash, and sometimes weeps with a little fluid.
  • Suggestions:  Seek professional treatment from a physician; only a doctor can diagnose these skin conditions. For each of the conditions, use products made without phthalates, parabens, or formaldehyde. For rosacea, it’s important to wear sunscreen to protect against UVA/UVB lights. For psoriasis, the opposite is true, some exposure to sunlight may ease the effects of psoriasis. Eczema is sometimes related to allergies, so trying to avoid common allergens such as dust mites, dander, stress, and pollen can help relieve symptoms. For patients with eczema, keeping skin well-moisturized with natural moisturizers may help alleviate symptoms.

Balanced Skin Type 

  • Characteristics:  Hallelujah, girl! You hit the holy grail of skin! Balanced skin types look and feel moisturized without being oily. Small pores, occasional pimples which are not a problem (usually hormone-related), generally clear in appearance.
  • Suggestions:  Let’s keep your skin fabulous with handcrafted soap made especially with olive and avocado oils. Bi-weekly exfoliation with natural moisturizers.

 

*The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. You are encouraged to confirm any information obtained from or through this web site with other sources, and review all information regarding any medical condition or treatment with your physician.

Christmas in July: Choosing Holiday Fragrances

Christmas in July- Choosing Holiday Fragrances

While most people are out enjoying the dog days of summer, indie makers are planning their holiday retail packages. We’re testing new products, determining packaging, and figuring out what would be most appealing to our customers.

For us, this means choosing holiday fragrances. I’ll be honest here, I have a love/hate relationship with this part of the business. I love the holidays and all of the amazing scents that come along with it: Christmas trees, figs, cranberries, harvest, pumpkins, vanilla, chocolate, firewood, peppermint, apple pie, toasted marshmallows, the list goes on. That’s the problem! There are simply too many holiday fragrances to choose from.

We would love to offer products in every one of those fragrances. In fact, I’m sure we could probably have a whole other store dedicated to just holiday scents and moments, but the reality is, as a small company, we’ve learned that less is more. So, we spend all of July testing out different fragrances in soap and candles, seeing how they behave to ensure we craft a quality product.

Along with testing fragrances, we also created a poll on our VIP Facebook group. We wanted to see what scents our beloved customers best associated with the holidays. On the upside of this poll, pumpkin souffle came through like a champion, on the downside, everyone voted for everything else, too – including adding some of their own selections. I was a little amiss as to what I should do.

So, I decided to go back to my tried-and-true way of figuring out the best fragrances to offer, and that is by thinking about my favorite moments. I proudly fall into the masses of pumpkin-everything once September hits. Nothing quite brings me joy like starting my morning of teaching with a pumpkin flavored coffee. I love the mix of sweet and slightly spicy, and the urge to just stick my fork into a slice of fresh pumpkin pie. I also look forward every year to a special date with my husband to go pumpkin and apple picking. Since we started dating, it has always been our tradition. We spend the day driving out to Eastmont Orchards in New Jersey, eating fresh apples off the trees, laughing, and just enjoying each other and nature.

I also fondly remember my grandparents’ house growing up; the smell of the fireplace embodying the entire first floor. I would just sit in front of the fireplace playing with my toys, taking in the warmth. The musky smell, combined with the uniqueness of burning wood is something everyone can enjoy. Finally, there is nothing quite like the scent of balsam, cedar, and the bright evergreen of a Christmas tree. This is hands-down one of my favorite scents, and I make this fragrance for myself throughout the entire year. I love the freshness and woodsiness combined with fir; it brings back all of the joy of Christmas in my home. My father used to pretend to be Santa, and my mother would leave out cookies (that my dad would half bite), and he would “accidentally” leave a glove behind, with white sparkles and glitter leaving a trail out the door (I grew up in Brooklyn, we didn’t have a chimney).

I realized that all of the input from everyone was wonderful, but perfection are the memories and moments attached to each scent. That’s what we’re all about, and that vision, of preserving life’s little moments through scent, is exactly what we’re planning on offering this holiday season.

 

Retail Partner Spotlight: Hazel Daze Boutique

Retail Partner Spotlight - Hazel Daze Boutique

In today’s blog post I am so incredibly excited to introduce to you one of our esteemed retail partners, Hazel Daze Boutique, and the amazing shop owner, Lib DeNure! I first reached out to Lib after I was scouring through Pinterest for handcrafted items for the house we’re buying. I was immediately hooked and fell in love with the shop because of Hazel Daze’s focus on fair-trade and ethically sourced products from around the world; I simply had to reach out.   One email later, and it was an immediate connection.  Lib, who was originally from Brooklyn, just completely understood me and our company; we shared the same wave-length.

Kristen: Where is your shop located?
Lib:  86 Post Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. We’re open Monday from 12-5, Tuesday-Friday from 11-6, and Saturday from 12-5. You can call us at 203-292-9662, or email us at hazeldazeboutique@gmail.com.

Kristen: Where did you get the name for your shop?
Lib:  It all started in February 2012 when my son Peter and I were coming back from the New York Gift Fair. This was his first “buying” trip, for our online store and we found ourselves attracted to many textured, colorful, offbeat products – not ones that I would traditionally buy. The “brick and mortar” idea was born on that train ride. Even the name was created that day. Hazel was my Nana’s name on my mom’s side, and Daze……well, it complimented the Hazel with the matching Z, but also had a certain feel to it, a play on words and as well as a funky aura.

Kristen: How did Hazel Daze become a brick-and-mortar store?
Lib: It was a full-blown fantasy, and was never mentioned again, until one day, on a whim, I popped into a commercial real estate office. Nothing hit the spot or my budget, until a few days later, when I got a call back and was introduced to 86 Post Road, Fairfield, Connecticut across from Vinny’s. This space was the former Hookah Lounge, I was told, and had a very colorful background. It seemed to fit, and when the first name I saw on the graffiti-laden basement wall was the name of my oldest son, it just seemed like the right place for Hazel Daze to begin! So, I took the rental and we plunged in. It was a giant undertaking, but also a wonderful challenge. We opened Hazel Daze Boutique in less than a month, on June 8, 2012 stocked with unique and unusual handmade creations, from fun jewelry and cool accessories to imaginative home decor, made by fine artisans in our own backyard and around the globe.

Kristen: What kind of items can be found in your shop?
Lib: We carry items from all over the world, from our local community, all the way to Bali, with 80-90 percent of the items being handmade. We carry handcrafted jewelry and vintage postcard art to handwoven bags, framed photographs, bath and body, aromatherapy, and eclectic home décor.

Kristen: I know you do a lot of work with the local community, any spotlights?
Lib: We began working with Our Woven Community, which is run through the Burroughs Community Center in Bridgeport. Our Woven Community sells handmade items — such as scarves and handbags — produced by refugee women now living in the Bridgeport area.Each piece made from Our Woven Community has the story of the woman who made the item and how the artist made it to Connecticut, as most women have spent several years in a refugee camp before coming to America. Each woman receives 50 percent of what the item is sold for as compensation. But I don’t take any cut from any of these sales; 100 percent of the money is donated back.

Kristen: What initially attracted you to Bath, Body, and Candle Moments?
Lib: Your initial reach out to be featured in Hazel Daze was very well written and professional. With many artist proposals daily, your email stood out and got me hooked. Also I loved that your business gives back to your community! In your case, donating money for rescuing animals. Here at Hazel Daze we ALWAYS strive to provide eco-friendly products in our shop. BBCM matched perfectly with our sourcing requirements: Handmade: check! Vegan: check! and most importantly cruelty free: check!  And, the husband wife dynamic duo is one strong business bond not to be messed with!

Kristen: Which are your favorite products of ours?
Lib: I was very curious about your bath bombs, they are currently on the craze according to my daughter (who is a bath bomb fanatic,) and I definitely was interested in trying them out at Hazel Daze. But I have to say that I am impressed with all your products!! The bug sprays we sold were reviewed very highly!!!

I highly recommend you check out Hazel Daze Boutique online and in store. The vision and focus of the store is ethical, sustainable, and beautiful, and Lib DeNure goes out of her way to empower women; she even hired two interns to teach them the trade!

Read two feature articles on Hazel Daze Boutique here and here.

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Lib DeNure, owner of Hazel Daze.

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The Hazel Daze boutique at 86 Post Road in Fairfield.

Credits for Photos: Hearst Connecticut Media file photos

 

 

Saving Lives One Blood Donation at a Time

Saving Lives One Blood Donation at a Time

In 2011 I was charged with the role to lead a school-wide blood drive with the New York Blood Center at the high school where I teach English. I had never donated blood before. I was admittedly frightened, not so much by the needles, but more-so by the whole process: I didn’t know what to expect, and that’s what scared me. Suddenly, I was placed in a leadership role, where students were counting on me, for something I had never done before. But that’s really one motivation I can never say no to: My students. So, I took the plunge, and started completing the paperwork. That’s where the learning process began.

I interviewed Michael Leviton*, Director of Donor Services – Central Jersey Blood Center  and he explained the urgency in the need of donations: “Less than 5% of eligible people donate blood. Everyone knows someone in their family that is going through or has been through a tough situation. Whether it’s cancer, a car accident, or premature babies – the need for blood is constant. It takes two days to test blood donations. If someone you cared about needed blood, it’s not you who would help them –  it’s that stranger who [went out of his/her way] to donate a week ago. Right now, almost every blood center is facing a crisis in their lifesaving inventory.”

I learned that one pint of blood could potentially help three people. According to the Red Cross, “every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood.” Demand is high, supply is low, and we’re talking about lives.

If you’ve never donated blood before, this is the basic process:

  1. Read pertinent information regarding travel, medications, and sexual history. Fill out “registration” information, such as name and contact info.
  2. Fill out a questionnaire which asks a number of very personal questions regarding your personal history, including travel, medications, and sexual contact.
  3. Meet with a technician who will review your answers and ask you to explain/clarify if anything may be questionable.
  4. If your questionnaire is cleared, they will ask for your height and weight. They will take your temperature, test your blood for iron, and take your blood pressure. If you cleared “medical,” then you’re clear to donate blood.
  5. You will be set up on a gurney and asked to squeeze a ball to help your arm-vein pop. They will insert a needle into your arm, and fill several vials of blood – these they use to test your blood multiple times before giving it to anyone. Once the vials are filled, a bag will be attached where you will donate about one pint of blood. This can take between 10-20 minutes, depending on your blood flow.
  6. A little machine beeps, they clean your arm, you get a cool colored arm band, and head over to the “refreshment station” where they provide snacks and drinks to help you recover your blood sugar levels.
  7. Get those feel-good feelings because you just saved three potential lives!

After my first time donating blood, I knew this was something I needed to do on a regular basis. It was the one donation where I could give of myself, and not just empty cash (but I advocate to donate to whatever you care about in whatever way you can). By the same time one year later, I trained one student, Amy Tan, to take leadership control and help train others about the importance of donating blood. Soon, she was taking over my position, and I was incredibly proud. And then Amy became diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a rare bile-duct cancer, and she passed away within six months of discovering her disease. I was heartbroken, as were all of her classmates, and the need and drive for blood donation ignited a personal fire in me to drive us to the top donating high school in Staten Island for 2013 and 2014. Amy received multiple donations during her treatment, and though the ending was painful, I know she would want us to advocate for education and action.

When I left my leadership position, I didn’t leave behind my commitment to donate blood. I became part of the “Gallon Club,” and soon began also donating platelets and plasma because of my rare blood type. There is a great gratification in believing that part of me is alive in someone else; I visualize it as the whole world beating with one heart.

If you have never donated blood, I understand if you may have some concerns. Rest assured, the process is completely safe and sanitary. If you’re afraid of needles, it’s only one quick needle and the professional phlebotomists you work with have been doing this so often, they make it so you can hardly even feel a thing. I strongly urge you to consider spending those 45 minutes to help save a life. It’s truly a gift unlike any other.

*If you have any questions, or would like to contact Michael Leviton, he may be emailed at mleviton@cjbcblood.org.

2016-06-24 10.15.30-2

Social Media Etiquette

Social MediaEtiquette

Who doesn’t love sifting through some sort of social media? Whether you’re a Facebook junkie, Instagram lover, Pinterest-aholic, Reddit reader, or Twitter tweeter, social media gives us access to friends, family, businesses, and interests from all over the world in real time. It has made the world more connected, smaller, and more accessible. Some of us have even used the features of social media to replace classic invitations, phone calls, or services. In short, social media is extremely beneficial, until it’s not.

Along with all of the joys of social media, there is a harboring presence of “trolls,” political rampages, bigotry, and worse. If used incorrectly, social media can become a black hole of bullying and the worst part of ourselves. The most important point to remember about social media is that it’s never truly anonymous. Even with pseudonyms, private profiles, and blocking, social media has shown us how closely each person in the world is actually connected; if there is something you don’t want noted as part of your personal perception or branding, it does not belong on the internet.

For those of us who are professionals, or those of us who are seeking professional careers, acceptance into programs, or generally want to be perceived as a likable person, there are some distinct steps you can take to ensure your presence on social media is comprised of etiquette and professionalism.

  1. Spell-checking, grammar-checking, and fact-checking. You don’t want to present yourself as ignorant by offering incorrect or incomprehensible information.
  2. Staying out of politics and heavily controversial issues. Unless you or your brand is based on this controversy, it’s best to keep personal opinions and heated topics off your social media to avoid isolating any groups or people.
  3. If you receive a negative comment on something you post, bear in mind the audience. Sometimes it’s best to delete the comment altogether, sometimes it’s best to professionally respond that you would like to discuss the matter further through a private messenger.
  4. Keep home and job problems off the internet. Remember empathy in this circumstance. You may have had an argument with your husband or wife, or maybe you had a tough day at work, it’s tempting to post your feelings online as a form of venting, but is that truly productive? All it will create is further animosity. Keep personal issues personal. Be an adult and speak to the person face-to-face after you’ve cooled off. If you truly need to vent, call your best friend.
  5. Remember to keep social media both personal and polite. Share your joys, accomplishments, fun family photos, but be mindful and respectful of who else is part of the post. A fun family barbecue may be a great photo to post, but maybe your uncle or sister would prefer not to have his/her picture of him/her holding a beer online.
  6. Your indirect actions count, too. Maybe you’re not the one posting memes against a certain political figure or group, but if you’re “liking” or commenting, you are still associating your presence with that image or post. If it’s not something professional or polite to begin with, it’s best to scroll past and just ignore.
  7. Remove or unfollow people who are consistently posting negative or harmful content. Sometimes even associating yourself with a person who demonstrates that type of behavior can negatively affect you. Think about it in terms of being a teenager – if you’re hanging out with the “bad” crowd, even if you’re not participating in their actions, you are automatically lumped into the group.
  8. Recognize that perception and intention are not the same, and no, it’s not fair. Be mindful of your comments and actions, taking special heed to how it will and could be perceived by others. You may not intend to offend or hurt someone, but if it’s perceived in such a way, that’s how the message will be digested.
  9. Be an active participant. Social media is only as engaging as you make it. Be sure to like, comment, and commend your friends and families for their accomplishments and proud posts. Respond to people with positive feedback and meaningful commentary.
  10. Find the happy medium of posting. You don’t want to be a braggart or a negative nancy; no one likes either. Keep your posts relevant and pertinent to your life, and definitely highlight happy moments, but also break up the monotony with clean and funny jokes, a great recipe, sharing insight on a book you’ve read or movie you’ve watched, something general that is neither a complaint nor a compliment.