Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Class Schedule

Ready to brush up on your skills? We have a great lineup of classes coming up at Otion!

Get more information and sign up here for the following classes:

  • Liquid Soap Making, Saturday February 2oth at 2pm, cost $30 ~NEW~

  • Cold Process Soap Making, Saturday February 27th at 3pm, cost $30

  • Lotion Making, Saturday March 6th at 3pm, cost $30

Also, BIG NEWS! We have a tentative schedule up for 2010 Soap Weekend Intensive, our third annual event. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn soap and lotion making from the very best and get all your questions answered before the holidays. Mark your calendar for August 13, 14, and 15!

Please feel free to let us know of any other classes that you would be interested in taking. We are always open to new ideas and suggestions!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Great Outdoors

Living in Bellingham certainly has its perks, particularly for outdoors enthusiasts. Within Bellingham, Whatcom County, and the surrounding area are some of the most breathtaking landscapes at our fingertips-- a paradise for hikers, bikers, paragliders, horseback riders, photographers and general lovers of the trail. It is clear that being an outdoors-person in Bellingham comes with the territory.

The classic image of this "City of Subdued Excitement" just may be the Subaru complete with bike rack, happy dog out the window, and "Co-exist" or "Buy Local" bumper sticker making its way to the Co-Op for some organic produce after stopping at the Sportsman Chalet for some gear, (and Otion for some handmade soap! ... sorry... had to slip that one in), and finally heading out to the mountain for some fun.

Needless to say, if you haven't fully taken advantage of the amazing hikes and views in the greater Bellingham area, you may just not quite be considered a Bellinghamster. If you feel like you are missing out, visit this great site for more information on hitting the trail. There places for everyone with a variety of skill levels and terrain, from mountains to beaches.

Some of my favorite spots include Teddy Bear Cove off Chuckanut Drive (pictured at top) and in order based on the photos; Skyline Divide trail below Mt. Baker, (Nooksack Falls is a great stop in the Mt. Baker Wilderness as well), Larrabee State Park (more for the views and less for the hiking), Fragrance Lake (great swimming spot in the summer), and Blanchard Mt. where you just might catch some paragliders jumping off. For a real workout, try Pine and Cedar Lake trail. It goes straight up. And up. And up. In fact, it will have you pep-talking yourself through the whole thing. Anne-Marie conquered the beast last summer!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Naturally Clean Home

Has anyone else out there had just about enough of this gloomy winter weather? I understand there are those of you who welcome the rain and find comfort under the clouds, but even being born in the northwest I find myself itching for spring already, only a month into winter.

Sure, spring in Bellingham only means more rain, but it's a different kind of rain. Rain with... optimism, if you will. Rain that you know will only last a little longer before the sun hits in late April and May. There is an end! Spring also means cleaning and refreshing, and particularly in this neck of the woods, it means cleaning green.

We have a great little book at Otion that brings a smile to all neat-freaks and Earth-friendly folks, and myself. It's called "The Naturally Clean Home" by Karyn Siegel-Maier and it is packed with 150 easy herbal formulas for cleaning naturally. Here's the description:

"Keep your home clean... and green. Common, nontoxic kitchen ingredients such as baking soda, borax, lemon, and vinegar are wonderfully effective household cleaners. Pair them with essential oils to disinfect and freshen every room. With 150 all-natural, easy-to-prepare cleaning solutions you can: soften and whiten clothing, break up kitchen grease, polish wood floors, scrub the oven, brighten bathroom mirrors, scour porcelain and tiles, deodorize carpets and much more! Banish harmful chemical cleansers from your home; clean it green for a healthier family, a healthier planet."

I love this little book. It makes me feel productive and proactive by doing even the smallest yet noticeable things around the house, such as adding essential oil to my laundry, creating an herbal dish washing blend, or even a citrus wash for my truck.

Here's one of the many great recipes from this book:

Soap Scum Remover:
This formula will remove that annoying buildup that forms on soap dishes and toothbrush holders. The vinegar will produce a fizzing action.

1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 drops essential oil of choice vinegar

Combine baking soda, salt, and essential oil in a small cup. Add just enough vinegar to make a paste. Apply to surface and scrub with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse well.

And here's my easy solution to the winter blues: If I can't magically cross my arms and blink myself into spring, I'll do some premature spring cleaning around the house and feel better and do a good service for our planet! Now, if I could just find the page that teaches dogs how to keep mud out of the house...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Testing, Testing

Now that the holiday rush has passed, the store is settling back down to what feels more like a 'normal' and relaxing pace. The practice of making soap can be a very calming and relaxing process in itself, so it was a pleasure to take time this morning to whip up a 3 pound batch of cold process soap to test a group of new fragrances in the silicone mold.

All of our fragrance oils are tested for bad behavior such as discoloring, seizing, accelerating or decelerating trace, super-heating, and weakness in scent. It is important for us to see the stability of the fragrance through the entire month-long waiting period because there are usually significant changes that occur at a later point.

I like experimenting in the rounds because it's not such a let down compared to making a full loaf when fragrances act up. We've had our share of loaves split down the center from super-heating and of course discoloration finds its way into the soaps we are sometimes most proud of-- particularly one that was a beautiful blue with orange square embeds that ended up going all brown and the scent faded into a lovely Play-Doh aroma. I'm not holding and grudges or anything :-p

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great New Deals at Otion

Everybody loves a good deal! Take advantage of these current discounts at your next visit to Otion.

10% Off:
Almond Cybilla fragrance oil
Lavender & Herb fragrance oil
Strawberry fragrance oil
Milky Way Buddha mold

20% Off:
Marrakesh fragrance oil
Vanilla Bean fragrance oil
Guava & Cucumber
Milky Way Flower Pot mold

50% Off:
ALL Organic Fusion products

Hope to see you soon!